Friday, August 04, 2006

Community Property

I suppose I should just resign myself to the fact that for the last thirteen years I have not owned a computer, nor will I ever own a computer until the day my Favorite Husband dies.

Oh, sure, legally I own a computer. Legally, I own at least four of them. I'm not entirely sure how many computers I legally own, because many of them are in a state of disrepair. And I know there's a collection of computer guts in my basement worthy of a cyber-Jeffrey Dahmer. But none of them are mine, even in the looser, toddler-derived sense of the word. All our computer are belong to Favorite Husband.

The last time I had a computer was when FH set me up one in my office at school. That was back when I had an office, before they moved me to the "office" in the basement of Lund Hall, which is an office only in the sense that it contains desks. It was so nice to have a computer of my own. While FH's computers were crashing like a five-year-old's bike with the training wheels removed, I could rest secure in the knowledge that if I had something that absolutely needed to be done, I could just leave early and do it tomorrow morning at my office. That was such a nice feeling. Too bad it didn't last.

In theory, I have a computer now. In fact, it's a very nice laptop that my dad gave us. FH fixed it up, and I've just bought a quite expensive battery for it with my business funds. But this morning when I woke up, after several nights where FH was up until the wee hours of the morning playing with "my" computer, FH said, "Look ! I put dual monitor on the laptop!" Not only did he do that, but he was also using the second screen to download stuff that will literally take a week to finish. And that's when I knew that no matter how much money I invested in the laptop, no matter how vehemently FH insists the computer is mine, it's not.

See, I have never asked for dual monitor. All I've ever asked for is a computer that runs and has all the software I need installed, and can print to a printer. I don't particularly care how fast it runs, as long as it runs fast enough. I don't need quadrophonic surround sound speakers. I don't need a DVD-ROM burner. And above all, I don't need a computer to be tinkered with until Windows goes berserk. That is the primary reason we own so many computers-- because once FH has a computer up and running, he just has to mess with it until it crashes, so at least with some redundancy we have one computer available for me to monitor my eBay auctions, print shipping labels and exams, and work at my online tutoring job. He's often been known to mess with more than one computer at the same time, too, via something called "Remote Desktop". With Remote Desktop, he can crash two computers at the same time! Talk about increasing productivity!

The worst part about it is that he honestly thinks he's doing all this for me. After all, what sane woman wouldn't want her laptop computer attached to a clunky second monitor? Who wouldn't want her computer tweaked and decked-out and... whoops, there goes the power supply. I think I'd rather he gave me a bowling ball with his name on it. At least I could still bowl with it.

Just once before he dies, I would like to own my own computer. And while I'm wishing, I would like to own my own CD's, too. Every time I have ever bought a CD, it has been whisked away from me and put in an inviolate stack for him to "rip" as part of some long-term archival project. Inevitably he stores all this ripping on a hard drive that subsequently crashes without backup, so my CD stays indefinitely in this stack, waiting to be ripped or re-ripped. If I ever do get it back from FH, my kids will steal it, take it outside, rip up the liner notes, bring it back inside and set a chair leg on top of it, all because it's Mommy's Favorite CD and therefore special enough to be worth fighting over.