A crappy cell phone will ruin your life, and other lessons from poverty

I notice that practical problems in my life can really cause hell for me.  It’s true for anyone.  They say that a cell phone is the worst time-waster for a writer, and that’s one of the biggest truths of writing.

I’d add to that that an unreliable cell phone will ruin your life, and the best thing to do is to either get it replaced or get it fixed ASAP and not keep counting on it or expect it to work or you’ll spend all your time swearing at it and feeling like you want to throw it against the wall.  A crappy cell phone alone will lead to social isolation, missed appointments, fatigue, depression, even unemployment or homelessness.

That plus paying for minutes is hell.  I’m glad I have unlimited minutes.  Talking for hours is heaven.  I feel like a teenager all over again, that is, the good stuff about being a teen.

Practical problems actually cause very bad depression.  These nag and nag and nag at you and if you don’t go to the right personnel to solve them, these very little practical things will eat away at you and become major nuisances.

Let me tell you a very funny story about a practical problem that I JUST SOLVED that was ruining my life.

Number One: I got no money, and no people to help me sort anything out or help me in any practical or monetary with any of this, not that I’ve directly asked, and I don’t plan to.

Number Two: Stuff is broken here, one helluva lot of stuff, that is,  appliances, furniture, heat, electronics, communications, all the basics. So as I said a few days ago, I made a list of what was broken, what I could fix, and what I should replace and what I should just leave as is. And what is really causing me total major flip-out.

What do I mean by total major flip-out?  I just made up that term and it isn’t a clinical word.  No, I didn’t have a panic attack cuz I don’t get those.  I just got extremely frustrated.

So I said to myself, “What can I do about this?  What’s under my control?”

I went to Amazon and comparison-shopped for replacement batteries for the vacuum cleaner I have.  Having a gritty floor all the time is the most annoying thing, isn’t it?  A broom and mop wasn’t cutting it anymore.

I found that iRobot sold their batteries for a fortune out of hell, but the same battery was sold by other companies for far less.  I was careful, because there were various batteries on sale that had different power ratings and I wanted the best one I could find for the lowest price. These seemed to be offered and then suddenly go out of stock.  Amazon customer service has recently advised me about the reliability of their vendors, and I have kept what they told me in mind.  This was after some packages were mysteriously lost in the mail.  (Yes, you will be promptly refunded and you don’t have to go through your credit card company.)

The battery arrived. We had yucky weather here, so I couldn’t go to the post office for days to pick up the package.  If I recall correctly, one day I went to the post office and found it was closed, with no notice on the outer door, only a tiny sign on the inner door saying there would be an early closing that day.  Then, more crappy weather.  Finally, I picked up the box, came home, and went to bed, exhausted.  The package sat unopened on my table.  The day would go by and I’d tell myself to open it, but I’d feel too sick.  Then, night would come, and I’d say, “Oh, tomorrow, I feel so sick I can’t do this.”  And the usual night of sleepless hell would drag on.

It took an amazing amount of effort to find the vacuum manual online, open up the vacuum cleaner, install the battery (it made an incredible bleep noise when I put it in that told me, “Julie, you are NOT crazy!”) and then plug the darned thing in.  The manual said to keep it plugged in at least overnight to make sure the battery gets a good amount of juice.  The one thing I made sure to do was that once I removed the vacuum back, I kept the screws I removed inside a little container while I was working, instead of leaving them out loose, to ensure they didn’t roll away on me!

So after that, days passed, days of feeling way too sick and exhausted to vacuum the floor.  But I did that, too.  One day, I folded up my army cot and put it away.  That took minutes.  Then, picked up the loose miscellaneous stuff off my bedroom floor.  That, too, took minutes, and it sure felt good.  I did a sweep with my broom and found lost objects, some that had been missing for months.  I also found what I expected: one helluva lot of tissues that I had thrown onto my bedroom floor while bawling my eyes out the past bunch of months.  I found one more thing: the ball bearing thingy that I believe fell out of my bed and is the reason my bed is broken.

It took a few false starts, but my vacuum worked.  I did my living room as well.  It was great to have a floor that wasn’t gritty.  It only stayed clean a couple of days, though.   It’s gritty again.  So I need to vacuum all over again.  I’ve tried going through taking boots on and off every time I go in and out of here, but it’s way too much of a headache and not worth it.  The way these vacuum batteries are, they should be run every few days anyway, otherwise, they’ll lose juice.

So, I realized also that having The Cell Phone From Hell was ruining my life.  The cell phone is a very bad time-waster as a general rule.  No, I wasn’t addicted to it.  I would pick it up, try to use it, and find that it didn’t work, so I’d spend the next half hour trying to fix it.  Half an hour later, problem solved. That’s how my time got wasted.

What to do?  I phoned my cell phone company using my spare phone.  I’m lucky cuz Boost Mobile has very good customer service that answers right away, and I’m pretty sure they are really in the US.  They told me what my options were given my circumstances and told me NO WAY should I be having the extreme problems I’m having.  No way should I have to pop the back off and remove the battery five or six times a day just to get the thing to function, and no way should the apps freeze every single time I open them.  They referred me to Kyocera regarding the warranty.  I spoke with those guys and they told me I could do a reset. I told them I wanted to put as many apps and data onto my chip (that mini-SD card) as possible before the reset, then remove the SD card and do the reset.  Kyocera was supposed to call me back in 20 minutes. They didn’t, and I was so exhausted and felt so sick that I went to bed. Days passed.

What I found that was as soon as I removed the chip, the phone worked.  When I put the chip back in, it definitely didn’t.  I figured out that there was one app that was the culprit app.  I decided that all I had to do was remove that app and most likely, I’d have a working phone.  Over the course of realizing this, I felt very sick and exhausted and more days passed. Finally, I told myself I would attempt to get the phone working.

However, no matter what I did, the phone absolutely refused to recognize the chip.  I did a zillion restarts. Popped the battery out over and over.  Nope.  I took the chip out and called Boost to verify precisely how to manually do the reset. This resets the phone to manufacturer settings.  If this wasn’t going to work, I knew I was going to have to go get a replacement.

If you ever have to do this, it’s a lot of work. The best way to reinstall the apps on an Android is to use a computer to put them back in.  Don’t do it using your phone or you will end up saying very bad swear words.  Only install the apps you need, not the stupid apps you don’t need that slowed down your phone and turned it into The Phone From Hell to begin with.  And don’t forget, once you’ve put the apps into your phone, don’t forget to run them and then activate them, otherwise they’re just sitting in your phone and not doing anything.

Finally, I have a phone that calls out, receives calls, and actually works.  Mission accomplished.  How much did doing this cost?  Nothing.  I no longer have the Time Waster From Hell.  I feel tons better.

Here’s another major frustration I fixed just now…. I’m so happy about this and it cost NOTHING!

My computer was freezing.  The screen turned white…not quite white but sort of filmy white and the freezing would be momentary, then it generally unfroze.  It wouldn’t have been so bad except this happened once every 30 seconds or so.  I was stumped over this.  Absolutely stumped.

So at first I figure the problem was with Firefox. An extension maybe?  A toolbar?  I got rid of a toolbar I didn’t want there anyway.  I was thrilled not to have it, but still, the darned computer froze all the time, and it wasn’t just Firefox, it was every single program and any ole window.  Not only that, my keyboard had this annoying delay occasionally.  I switched to the bluetooth keyboard and found that occasionally, it, too, had that annoying key lag.  I am a writer and I cannot tolerate this.

Google told me that maybe too much hard drive space was being used up.  A look into this told me that it was true.  Not only that, but many of my files were duplicates.  It was painstaking work, but I went through everything, weeded out the duplicates, and put the larger media files onto my portable hard drive and made sure all those files were completely off the computer’s hard drive.  I’ve freed up a whole ton of space.

However, the darned thing was still freezing just as badly.  I thought maybe the machine was overheating or there was a loose connection. I wondered if I should consult a techie friend of mine before bringing the machine into the local shop to be checked out, just to save myself a trip.

But then, I heard a suspicious noise.  You guys know I’m not hard of hearing.  Hey, someone who hears her next-door-neighbor sneeze all day and finds it annoying sure does hear well.  So what did I hear?  My portable hard drive running.  Why on earth should it be running when I’m not copying any files to it or using it?  Hmm….

So I tried to detach it. Sure enough, yes, some program was using it.  I did some investigating.

I have cloud storage called Crashplan.  I do like Crashplan for its simplicity. What I did a few weeks ago was a backup of a USB thumb drive, just a few folders on it. This was, to Crashplan, the E drive.  Then, I detached the drive.  When I attached the portable hard drive, Crashplan assumed it was the same thumb drive, that is, the E drive.  So all this time, Crashplan was searching in vain for those little folders on the portable hard drive and not finding them. Every time it did this, the computer froze.

All I had to do was to reconfigure Crashplan.  One click of the mouse was all it took.  Stop backing up E.

I was then able to remove the portable drive.  I closed down anything else that I wasn’t using and removed any devices I wasn’t using, and now my computer runs like new.

How much did this cost?  Nothing. But I feel tons better now.  I no longer feel like I’m gonna swear and throw my computer against the wall.  I no longer feel like every other word coming out of my mouth is “asshole.”  Trust me, guys, this has been plaguing me for weeks cuz I am a writer and when you can’t write because every thirty seconds you are interrupted, it sucks.  It’s like that annoying mosquito you can’t stand is finally out the window.  I feel freed up.

You see, practical problems in your life will cause a very big, nagging nuisance if you don’t do anything to fix them.  Fixing them will free you up. I guarantee that doing so will help your mood and your well-being.

Well….a-hole, you are out of my life

Last night I got into this horrible argument with my brother Ned.  And then I did this profoundly liberating thing that has jump-started me like you would not believe: I cut him out of my life.

Now I didn’t expect that I’d do that.  No way.  I didn’t have it planned out that way.  I didn’t do it in a fit of anger or anything like that.  It was the logical thing to do, that’s all, following this horrible argument.

It was a matter of a click of the mouse, you see.  I have Google Voice, so it was easy.  Or not so easy due to a glitch in GV.   But I went over to the forums figured out how to get it done.  Now, when Ned calls, he is automatically sent to voicemail.  No, not spammed, just sent to voicemail.

I suppose if he keeps calling and continues to get voicemail, he’ll conclude that I’m hospitalized.  I guess at that point I’ll e-mail him and tell him I’m not.  And a few other things.

I am tired of being told I am not real writer because I do not submit my writings to The New Yorker.  I am tired of being told I am wrong no matter what I say.  I am tired of being told that no matter what I do, it’s not good enough.  He’s an asshole.  I’m glad I’m not his kid and I’m glad I’m not his student and I’m glad I’m not his wife and I’m glad I’m not his friend.

I liked it that he called now and then.  That was nice of him.  But only to put me down again and again.  He never once read This Hunger Is Secret.  He only looked at the cover and commented on it.  He never bought a copy or the e-book or paperback and when he came here and looked at a copy of the paperback he did not open it and read anything inside.  Isn’t that weird?  Like he only cared about the cosmetics of the book.  Then he shoved it back at me, uninterested.

Well, asshole, you are out of my life.

I didn’t feel really terrific until this morning.  I woke up and then suddenly it felt like my body was breathing a gigantic sigh of relief.  Like suddenly, there was this letting go, a release of something that had been pent-up.  It felt incredible.

(As we speak, there is huge shouting and arguing in my hallway.  Typical day here.)

I have not binged since Saturday.  I don’t know why or how I have managed to stop but I am grateful for it.  Well, I do have ideas.  There are things I have done.  I will talk about some of the things in another entry.  But one of the things is letting him go.

Getting rid of people, activities, and substances that are no good for you is essential.

I started writing a blog entry about this but I had a huge technical problem in my apartment and got interrupted with my entry, lost track of what I was saying, and so I aborted the entry.  What happened was that my toilet got a leak in the back of it and I had to call the maintenance guy over here.  My bathroom floor is all soggy.

What I was saying was this:

If a person, activity, or substance causes you to binge, cut it out of your life if possible.

I don’t really have an overeating problem.  I go on full binges. There is a marked difference, and I have a hard time relating to people who overeat and do not have a binge eating problem.

Do you want to know what this means?  Binge eating, for me, is not anything like casual eating or “nibbling.”  It is never done with a partner (I saw a You-Tube where someone who was bulimic talked about binge eating with a friend).  Sometimes, depending on how soft or crunchy the food is, I shove it into me and and barely chew it.  Huge chunks get swallowed whole.  It’s extremely disgusting.  I’ve seen my own dog do this.

Anyway, I have not done any of that since Saturday.  I am grateful.  Today I feel wicked decent.

Guess what?  I am even wearing jeans, not those pajama bottoms I wore for days on end.  It’s a good thing I didn’t feel too self-conscious about my weight and dared to have that maintenance guy in here, because if the toilet had leaked last week, I would have been scared to have anyone in here.  The tank was leaking, not the toilet bowl itself, so no, not that gross, but the floor would have been like a wicked bad swamp.

My cell phone broke Monday night, my good one, but it’s one I was using less often than the free “Welfare” one.  I decided that compared to all the other shit in my life, it’s not that big a deal.   The warranty expired ages ago.  It’s not one of those contract phones.  I’m a cheap-o.  I got another off of ebay for $30 last night.  I did this fun Internet shopping to distract myself from my pissed-off thoughts about my brother.

It was a really healthy way to cope with the issue.  Now I’m going to have a new phone.  I mean, I could have thrown the broken phone across the room.  That would have been just plain dumb, and would have accomplished nothing.   Ripping up a phone book would have done nothing but make a mess and destroy a phone book, and holding onto a frozen orange would have done nothing but waste an orange and make my hands extremely uncomfortable, and oranges are expensive.  I did some intelligent comparison shopping, read the reviews carefully, and made a decision.

Well, asshole, you are out of my life.