My (i)Life is Flashing Before My Eyes

Got a new computer last week. Had to perform a migration. Still performing the migration, actually. Cleared everything off my desk, books, papers, pictures. Got a big desk. Big glass desk. Wiped it down with glass cleaner. Wiped down the old computer with iKlear, the only spray-on computer cleaner recommended for Macintosh computers. Took the new computer out of the box. Set it on the desk next to the old computer. Hooked each one up to a power source. Everything was white, floating in space, electrical umbilici trailing off in opposite directions. I even took off the little placemat with goldfish I’ve had under my computer since college. Just two Macs, one old, one new, sitting on a clean glass table. It was my little operating room.

The old one was an iBook. The new one is a MacBook. Does this mean that “i”–little, pretentious, lowercase “i”–have now become Mac, as in “the”, as in “daddy”?

My new Mac self is smaller, sleeker, shinier. Some guy next to me at the Apple store said, “Don’t get the white one, unless you wash your hands every time you touch your computer.”

“I wash my hands every time I touch my computer,” I told him.

I washed my hands and sat down to begin the digital surgery. I wiped my iPod clean and used it to house the precious organs of my digital life as they vacated their old, tired body to begin life in the new one. The iPod was like the little, nondescript cooler they put donor hearts and stuff in, then fly on the helicopter. On the old medical dramas they’d be emotionally repressed on the helicopter. On the new ones, they’re pithy and witty on the helicopter while the heart is on ice in the cooler.

First I moved my iPhoto Library. This was perhaps the most exciting thing about the new Mac–my old one had become so painfully slow and inept at showing me photos that I avoided iPhoto altogether. The new iPhoto software and the 2 gigs of RAM and the 160 gig hard drive were supposed to take care of that, and I wanted to see that digital methamphetamine in action. I clicked on the iPhoto library in transit on my iPod, dragged and dropped it into the now-empty “Library” in iPhoto.

For some odd reason, the albums I had painstakingly made in the last five years did not transfer–instead, only the folder of “Originals” went by–every picture I’d ever imported into iPhoto. Consequently the uncut version of the last five years went by at as-promised blazing speed.

Even at as-promised blazing speed, it took well over an hour for my entire iLife to import into my new iPhoto. After the first twenty minutes I (i?) was emotionally exhausted, but mesmerized and powerless to look away. It was not only my own life literally flashing before my eyes, but also the lives of my friends who had downloaded their cameras at various points to show me their pictures. I watched my friend’s boyfriend learn to surf in the Caribbean. I watched several hundred pictures of a trip to Asia I never took, a wedding in Hawaii I never attended. I watched my two friends who were married last year grow from children into adulthood, thanks to the pictures I had scanned in to make them a collage.

Mostly, I watched myself. I learned a little bit about myself watching my iLife go by. I learned that I greatly enjoy sunsets, cartwheels and taking my top off. I learned that I started dressing more and more like a commando as the decade progressed. My sizable and adolsecently narcissistic archive of self-portraits reveals me to be a woman of many moods. Or rather, few moods of great extremity.

To compare this experience to whiplash or a roller coaster or any other physically jarring circumstance would not do it justice. The flow of photographs was relentless, like time itself. Friends and lovers came and went and changed their hair. You could not pause and you could not go back, and everything was going by so very, very quickly.

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