ralph robert moore
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Copyright © 2014 by Ralph Robert Moore.
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Return to lately 2014.
i'm jessica lange
july 1, 2014
We spend most of the day in our bedroom. Large airy space, high ceiling, bay window view of our backyard garden. Something always blooming outside, birds and butterflies abounding. Our bedroom is just off our kitchen, convenient in and of itself (we eat all our meals in bed), and farthest from our front door.
We have two computers. One for me, one for Mary. Both on the second floor. At the top of the stairs, a large loft area I use as my study. Where I'm writing right now, letter after black letter getting added to the bright screen of my monitor. Floor to ceiling bookcases. Window looking down over the blue and green of our backyard garden; in the white ceiling, skylight (taps against it how I usually first become aware it's raining.) On the other side of the top of the stairs is a large room Mary uses for her different projects. Huge window letting in a lot of light. Walls filled with pictures, paintings, mementoes. Down the hallway, walls covered in colorful murals painted by Mary, a bathroom on the right. Beyond that glimpse of toilet and shower, at the end of the hall, another room, that used to be the bedroom for Mary's dad while he visited over the holidays, but which is now, since his death, used by me to store six four-drawer metal filing cabinets filled with my writings, a cloth-cutting table, a desk set where we rarely sit. Inside that room's closet, a clutter of stuff from our life together, as well as the disconnected parts of half a dozen old computers, sitting on the closet's carpet.
Since both our computers are upstairs, since we spend most of our time in our downstairs bedroom, we thought it might be nice to get a third computer, to keep by Mary's side of the bed.
But we didn't want a desktop. Too cumbersome. Even a laptop would be too bulky. So we decided on a notepad, something larger than a smart phone, but could still be held in one hand, like a skull. Easily placed on Mary's night table when she wasn't using it.
We did a little research, decided on the Samsung Galaxy 8.0. Bought it through Amazon, along with a Bluetooth keyboard.
We don't have a smart phone. Because we rarely use a portable phone. The old-fashioned cellphone we do have, with no Internet connection, is more than adequate for our needs. We use it a couple of times a year to order take-out pizza while we're on the road (tip of the triangular slice dipping down, dripping tomato sauce, olive oil, sausage fat.)
Once we got the Galaxy delivered to our front door, bending over to pick it up off the concrete as if bowing down to worship it cargo cult style, we carefully uncartoned it, lifting out this beautiful obelisk, really well-made, like a rectangular soul, my human fingers turning to monkey fingers.
We were naïve enough to think we could immediately use it. But of course we couldn't. First of all, we had to get a SIMS card. And, we were told by the tiny multi-language booklet about the size of a gnat's diary that came with the Galaxy, we'd need to fully charge the battery.
The kit was supposed to include a battery charger, except it didn't. We pulled everything out of the shipping carton, flattened out all the cardboard configurations placed in the Galaxy's box to hold components (the box itself proudly proclaiming it was "made from 100% recycled materials"), but no charger. Fuck! So we ordered a charger for the unit online.
I called our wireless carrier to get a SIMS card. It took a while, me holding the phone against my right ear, wondering where our world had gone wrong, but eventually, I was told the SIMS card would be sent, at no charge, because we were long-time customers. The carrier's customer service representative, by the way, was extremely cheerful. Each time I had to call them, they were all unusually cheerful. Which I actually appreciated.
The SIMS card arrived. Separately, the charger arrived.
I put in the SIMS card. We charged the battery. I called the carrier back, to activate the SIMS card.
I don't know. Do you want the whole, three hour phone conversation I had with the carrier at that point? Probably not?
"It does show all the green arcs lighting up, but it just keeps displaying, Connecting…connecting. But it never actually connects to the Internet."
"That's really unusual. How many of the green arcs are lighting up?"
"All of them."
"Hmmm! Is it giving you any message?"
"It's saying, Connecting…connecting."
"So are you connected?"
Jack Nicholson in The Postman Always Rings Twice, aiming his fist at Jessica Lange's face. "And this one, you don't know where you got it." I'm Jessica Lange.
So after about three hours, Mary sitting next to me, we do that raising eyebrows, mouth turning down communication husbands and wives do, and while the representative is saying into my ear, Let's try this, I interrupt the representative to tell her we're just going to return the unit.
Which we do. I know there's that whole worry about Amazon drones soon blackening our skies delivering artisan hams and movie-themed pajamas, but I do give them credit for having an easy return policy.
I was a little depressed. (I'm holding my thumb and index finger a tiny distance from each other.) To be honest. The Galaxy looked like it would have been cool to use, even though, frankly, I don't know how often we actually would use it. Maybe we didn't have a computer downstairs for a reason: We don't really need a computer downstairs. But it was cool. It would have been nice to turn it on occasionally during the slow part of a show, rotate our hand so the display goes from a profile to a landscape orientation. Things like that. And it had a stylus. Did I mention that?
Anyway, we had to go out a few days after that (doctors, food), and I decided to check our old cell phone to make sure it was sufficiently charged. And on its tiny, Cro-Magnon screen, the type that comes with no graphics whatsoever, it read: SIMS card deactivated.
Turned it off, turned it back on.
SIMS card deactivated.
So I call our carrier back. Again, I won't subject you.
"Are you certain you put the SIMS card in the Galaxy the right way? There's a notch on one side."
"No, no-- This isn't the Galaxy. We sent the Galaxy back. This is the old-fashioned cell phone we've had for years."
"Let me look at the notes the other representatives made." Silence. She comes back. "Oh, wow!"
"They really messed this up!" And you know? I'm truly surprised she admitted that to me, the customer.
"Messed it up?"
Plus, the most hellish aspect to this conversation: The whole time I was speaking to her, trying to convey important information, receive important information, the audio on my landline was cutting out every few seconds. So everything she said was like, "…we…but that…did you…possibility?"
I'm serious. Not making this up. But, you know, I kept my cool. Eventually, I was able to convey what I needed to, and after she repeated herself a few times, I was able to grasp what she was saying.
Anyway, she couldn't reactivate the SIMS card. "That's actually for your own protection, Mr. Moore, since a SIMS card has a lot of personal information on it."
"So how do I get a new SIMS card?"
Mailed us a new one. We put it in, called back to have it activated.
A tense half hour on the phone where it seemed like it didn't work. Suddenly, miraculously, the tiny display at the top of the phone gave the correct time.
We were connected to the world again. We could again, once or twice a year, order a take-out pizza while we were on the road.
It was a great moment.