Written by
Hope Edelman
July 2009
Written by
Hope Edelman
July 2009
IMPROVING MY OUTLOOK I’ve got a totally cataclysmic e-mail meltdown going on over here, the result of a laptop malfunction three weeks ago that I haven’t had time to properly fix. Yes, it’s a sad truth and also a pretty huge problem: I’ve had no access to my web site emails for nearly three weeks. The temporary computer I’m using (until I can afford a brand-new one) already has Outlook configured to a different email address, and I can’t figure out how to reconfigure it myself. At least I think that’s the problem. I don’t really know if it’s that simple, or that complicated, or maybe the result of something else entirely. As my 11-year-old daughter would say, “Problemo in Aisle 49.” Normally, I call my husband, the resident Internet Dude, at times like this, but he’s 1,000 miles away for the next five weeks and besides, he’s getting pretty fed up with how often electrical equipment melts down in my presence. It takes a lot—a real lot—for my husband to get fed up about anything, and that's how I know I’d better figure this one out on my own. Actually, the only person more fed up with me right now than my husband is my web guy. What kind of client waits three weeks to solve an email problem? Late yesterday afternoon he finally threw up his hands and told me I should sign up for GoDaddy’s email service because they offer 24/7 tech support. It sounded like an excellent idea. So I spent most of the morning troubleshooting all the missed emails of the past three weeks, and then I called GoDaddy after lunch. Which is how I wound up—after sitting on hold for 14 minutes--on the phone with a woman named Nancy with two PhDs (she claims) and who did her very and most patient best to walk me through the sign-up process. First, she needed to know exactly what services I wanted. That’s when things immediately got rough. I can do many complicated and fearless things in the course of a single day, but I absolutely cannot talk tech. This is the part in the story where I hand the phone over to my husband with a sweet smile and the promise of a shoulder massage at some vague point in the future. But that's not an option. Today, it’s going to be just me and Nancy PhD, PhD. “First I need to know: do you want the helkbmlkgnm access?” Nancy asked. “The what?” “Helkbmlkgnm access. A lot of our clients use it instead of pqvbllx.” Here’s what happens when impenetrable tech words are hurled my way: the first one startles me. The second one confuses me. The third one makes my brain completely shut down. “I don’t have even the smallest idea what that is,” I said. “It’s what we use for phjyktij,” she explained, and something about a server. “All I know is my web guy said he can’t help me reconfigure Outlook, that he wants to direct what he calls the MX records to you, and then he gave me your phone number.” “I can’t help you until I know what you need,” she said. “Why don’t I tell you what my problem is, and then you tell me the best way to fix it?” “Good idea.” So I explained about how I’m a writer, and I have this email box, and I can't get along with Outlook. And I explained more, and explained more, and then I realized I was explaining too much, so I just stopped talking. “Okay,” Nancy said. “I think I got that. You probably want kxbcvd.” I didn’t know what the hell she was saying. “You’re a writer?” she added. “Yes.” “My friends tell me I should write a book about my life.” Oh, god. This? “Really,” I say. “I’m going to give you a URL now. Do you know what a URL is?” Hello? Did the woman think I was completely stupid? “I know what a URL is,” said me, BSJ, MA. Fifty-five minutes later I had a new GoDaddy account, kldbcvq service for 5 years, whatever that is, and an email with illustrations explaining how to reconfigure Outlook. Except, as Nancy told me, it might not work, depending on what shape Outlook is in on this old laptop, in which case I'll have to call Microsoft and talk to someone there. By now it was 4:00 and time to pick my younger daughter up from camp, which effectively meant the end of my work day. Walking over to her camp, I very clearly realized why I’ve put off dealing with this email mess for almost three inexcusable weeks. And that’s because it just took up a whole half day of my life. More than three hours in the vortex, and the problem isn't even fully fixed yet. Did you happen to notice what was completely missing from my workday? Exactly. Writing. That’s all I’m sayin’.

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  • Cheryl Strayed

    Oh Hope, I just read this now, and I'm nodding my head with recognition. I am useless with technical stuff. I just can't make myself CARE about it. I hope it's all straightened out by now!

  • Jennifer Lauck

    Love this post, love you and your writing--even in crisis--so honest and funny and smart. I feel your pain and am in your corner (ahhheeemmmm, did I mention that whole get a Mac thing???)

  • Lori A. May

    Wow.. what a mess! I hope you get it all sorted out. For what it's worth, I use GoDaddy for many things, including email, and *love* it. Absolutely love it. Mind you, I have never been on the phone with Nancy PhD, PhD, so that may have something to do with it.

    On the topic of Vista... when I finally got a new computer this year, I was wary about Vista, but figured... okay, let's see if they've fixed this thing. I am happy to report that thus far (since February) I am actually quite pleased with my computer. Knock on wood, but I haven't had any problems with my afforable HP/Compaq desktop, so who knows. Maybe all the bad stuff in its genes has been taken care of. Of course, now that I've said that, I'll let you know what happens. Ha.

    I hope you get in some writing time soon and finish off the email mess. Best of luck!

    Lori A. May

  • Hope Edelman

    Amy, that's a totally generous offer and I may well take you up on it. I haven't resolved the problem yet because I just spent the weekend driving my older daughter to summer camp in Missouri, so I'll try to jump back on the horse tomorrow. It feels like a racehorse these days, though, so I might have to do one of those fancy cowboy tricks to grab the saddle horn and catapult myself onto it as it speeds by.
    FWIW, my husband the tech guy is very wary of Vista, too. I'm planning to order a new laptop from Dell in the next month or two and am going to see if I can get it downgraded to XP, which he says has proved to be a much more stable system than Vista.

  • Amy Reynolds

    Hope, if you don't have this resolved yet, I can probably help you. I use Outlook daily (for email I download from my GoDaddy email address) and can probably walk you through configuring Outlook to check your mail. In under half a day even and with no techie words thrown in! I know what you mean though, I used to be a software trainer but got tired of keeping up with constantly changing technology. Now I'm stalling on upgrading my laptop because I'm scared of Vista! And I use a 3 yr old cell phone because my children are very impatient with me when teaching me to use new things...
    Give me a call if you need help - with Outlook, no promises about anything newer! 912-224-1022. I'm in Savannah, so EDT.
    Good luck!

  • Carrie Wilson Link


    I think the only way to stay sane is to consider all manner of computer time, "writing."

  • I know the feeling, Hope. That's why I had to get over my need to download email and switched to gmail. Forwarded my various web accounts there. Now I can get my email from any computer anywhere.