Wednesday, December 15, 2021

An image from my reality

The photo with this post is emblematic of an aspect of my life, as our photos can be. In this case, it’s not about a specific thing, but a kind of pervasive reality. In other words, this photo is emblematic of my life right now.

The subject of the photo is pretty simple: It’s a newly-purchased computer printer in its box sitting on one of my dining chairs. I recently bought it to replace a printer than no longer works properly. The reason it’s emblematic is the fact it’s on that chair—and has been for about a week and a half.

The printer is something I bought after extensive research (which began after I saw a TV commercial). It’s an “Epson Eco-Tank 3700” multi-function inkjet printer (“multi-function” means that, at the very least, it can scan things as well as print). The reason I chose it is that it has refillable tanks for the ink instead of horribly expensive ink cartridges (“buy a set of ink cartridges and get a free printer!”, the slogan should be…). After researching extensively, I decided this was the best one of this type, and best met my needs. I chose the 3700 model because it has ethernet as well as wifi, so I can plug it into my home network, like the printer it’s replacing was.

The old printer was an HP multi-function colour laser printer, the “Color LaserJet Pro MFP M277dw”. Nigel bought it at least five years ago (probably more, up to seven years ago). When it worked, the prints were very nice, and the scan quality was very high. It could email a scan to someone (which is where the ethernet connection came in handy) and it could fax scanned documents (who faxes any more?!).

However, the machine had a fault from the very beginning: It would put lines all over the page when printing. Because it was under warranty, a technician came out to repair it and spent hours getting it going again. It worked fine for a few years, but a year or so before Nigel died, the original fault reappeared. Prints for anything but a draft copy were pointless, and the quality kept deteriorating. So, in the end, we had a very big and heavy scanner (so heavy that I swear it’d make a good boat anchor) that at least could email scans. In other words, it had become e-waste.

When Nigel died, I had to print out all sorts of things for the solicitor, and the HP printer wasn’t working. I had an older HP black & white laser printer, but it was out of toner. To get me through, my brother-in-law bought an inexpensive basic B&W Brother inkjet printer that I’ve been using ever since—except for scans.

I wanted to replace both the barely/partly functional HP boat anchor and the B&W inkjet printer with one that could scan documents and print in colour. And that’s what led me to the new printer.

For most of my life, whenever I bought new technology (or was given it by Nigel), I couldn’t wait to get it set up and running—until now. In the case of the printer, it’s got a lot to do with how much preparation work I have to do: I have to clear off the space where the new printer will go (and that stuff has to go somewhere, I have to clear off the boat anchor (I put stuff on it, of course), and get it to the garage so I can put it somewhere in there until I can take it for e-waste recycling. I plan to give the basic Brother B&W printer away, but, in the meantime, I suppose it should go in the garage, too. And all of that just seems—feels—too difficult to deal with.

And that’s the way things are going these days: I spend hours researching, find the right solution, get it, and then it takes me forever to get around to actually putting the solution to use. I have plenty of small, inexpensive (and non-technological) things that also fall into this category, but they’re not nearly as “dramatic” as a new printer sitting in its box on a dining chair for nearly a fortnight. Even so, they all represent where I’m at right now, existentially speaking.

I said to folks at one point that all this work setting up my house and, by extension, my life without Nigel, isn’t any fun. I had some moments of excitement, of course, but that’s all melted into an ooze of malaise precisely because I have to do it all myself. I’m not talking about literally doing the work by myself—sometimes I could, at least theoretically, ask folks to help me or hire someone. What I mean is more personal: Everything that Nigel and I did to our houses over the years were things we talked about together. We chose things for the house together, we often worked on projects around the house together, and we’d enjoy the results together.

It’s nothing like that now. I have to make so many decisions about even the most insignificant things that it’s killed off any possible enthusiasm I may have once had for the “fun stuff”, like decorating. Whenever I think about working on the house, I at least think, and probably often say, “pffffffft!”

I realise this isn’t about just being sick of making decisions, but about why I have to make all those decisions: I’m alone now. Add that to the lethargy that set in because of all the time under Lockdowns we’ve had this year and there ain’t no spark in the engine, even though it’s well-fuelled.

In a time when very nearly everything feels just too damn hard to do, it’s no wonder that very nearly everything ends up delayed, deferred and undone. Still, I do what I can: I do short bursts of targeted work, I use specific solutions for specific barriers, and sometimes I just use brute force against myself to get me to get things done. Sometimes some of that even works.

All of this is, I think, a natural place to be at this point, some 2 years, 3 months since Nigel died. I’m used to the fact he’s gone and never coming back, and I’ve adapted to the reality that I’m alone, even if I’m still ill-equipped for it. What I haven’t quite adapted to yet is the fact that I’m the only one who can fix this, but a recent epiphany may have finally helped with that, and it may, I hope, help with everything else, too. But that’s a tale of its own; I just don’t know if I’ll get to that or unboxing the printer first.

Sometimes one’s life can be summarised in one seemingly random photo. I’ve decided to change that photo.

Update: I set-up the new printer on Sunday, December 19, 2021. It works well, and I'm really happy with the choice.


Roger Owen Green said...

I've had a printer in the box for close to two months. I've discovered that when I start something technological and don't have time to finish it, I have more problems. See my iPhone 8, which I started working on, then when I got back to it, I couldn't finish the process and had to go to the Apple store (eight months later) and get it wiped and start over.

So tomorrow, or the day after, maybe...

Arthur Schenck said...

I don't normally have any issues when setting up new technology, and this time it's really just a sort of lack of interest. Still, I've gotten a lot done this week, so who knows what'll happen?