Friday Speak Out: I Wish I Were A Packrat, Guest Post by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

Friday, November 20, 2009
I Wish I Were A Packrat

by Rebecca Gomez Farrell

I lost six years of my life. Okay, I’m being a tad dramatic. I lost six years’ worth of word processor documents. They’re gone. They left for the great recycling bin icon in the sky and some jerk emptied it. I’m the jerk.

A few years ago, I decided the old college laptop had to go. It had been wacky since my roommate borrowed it for a night of feverish essay typing and spilled a mug of coffee on it. The keys sank down like molasses when you pressed them and came up 1. . . 2 . . .3 seconds later with a loud click. The down arrow key would possess the cursor, sending it on a race down the monitor, which no control-alt-delete combination could halt.

My new laptop came, with its shiny casing and fancy Windows XP. I installed the software, then made a cup coaster out of the AOL trial CD-ROM.

“Honey,” I asked my fiance when I finished, “we already backed up my files to the server, right?”

“Yep, they’re under Becca’s documents,” he assured me. “You click on the icon for My Network and—”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” I cut him off. I may not be a computer genius, but I thought I knew that much.

Stop! Check the files! The alarm bells go off in my head now, but they didn’t then.

A few months after that fateful day, I clicked through row after row of pixilated manila folders, hoping, in between my wedding guest list and hotel reservations, to catch a glimpse of Mr. Palen’s tan jacket as he held my hand while walking me the school office when I was 10. He was my teacher when my father died and I had written about him in a piece that I wanted to revise.

I still haven’t found him. Nor have I find my friend Ruth. I did a character sketch based on her once. When someone pissed her off, she would catch my eye and trace a checkmark in the air with her pointer finger. Then, she’d mime killing him or her, perhaps by pulling back a crossbow wire and releasing it. My personal favorite was her duck, roll, and rifle shoot. Her blonde ponytail would bounce with each trigger pull.

It’s most painful to accept the loss of my college papers. How many sleepless nights’ work are now gone? I’d tangled with Twain’s inner demons, battled the titan of Homeric verse, and analyzed depictions of African American manhood from slavery to OJ. Yes, I still have my degree, but none of the work that earned it.

In my dreams, I catch a glimpse of that lost folder of Word documents, just beyond my Excel spreadsheets and resume versions. It beckons me to double-click it, like a ghostly guide pointing toward a cave of treasure. If I just keep my eyes closed long enough . . .

Rebecca Gomez Farrell, a Californian with a bad case of wanderlust, migrated to the East Coast after college, thinking to improve her writing by gaining more life experiences. She presently writes, edits, and blogs from Durham, NC. Under the pseudonym, The Gourmez, she writes reviews of restaurants, cocktails, and wines as well as a weekly column on her lifelong obsession, General Hospital. She also writes modern short fiction, creative nonfiction, and is working on a fantasy novel.

You can view Becca’s work at,, and


Do you want to reach WOW’s audience? We welcome short posts (500 words or less) from writers just like you! You can include your bio, pic, and links to your website/blog for promotion. Our only requirement is that your post be about women and writing. Send your Friday “Speak Out!” post to: marcia[at]wow-womenonwriting[dot]com for consideration.



Angela Mackintosh said...

Hi Becca,

Sorry for your file loss! That is such a bummer. Perhaps you can take your computer in and have them retrieve your lost file? Or did you get rid of your old laptop?

Margo Dill wrote a great post about this topic:

In the post, she talks about the Geek Squad and their back up program. It may be something worth considering.

Thank you for sharing.


Rebecca Gomez Farrell said...

Thanks for the comment and advice, Ang. Alas, it wasn't until after that laptop met the garbage heap that I realized the old files were missing.

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