The End of an Era

Chiyo, in all her broken-down glory. Note the undeniable cuteness, as well as the blacked out part of the right-hand screen.

Thanks to Target.com, tech-savvy family and friends, and a lot of blind faith, my new computer is on its way.

The downside of my new purchase is, of course, having to let go of my beloved netbook. Chiyo, my 10-inch, cute-as-a-button Eee Asus laptop, has been with me since my freshman year. (In case you’re wondering, Chiyo means “eternal life” in Japanese. After the painful, tragic death of her Toshiba predecessor, I selected Chiyo’s name after carefully scanning dozens of baby name websites. Sure, eternal life might be a bit of wishful thinking, but a positive christening certainly couldn’t hurt.)  She’s been a faithful little laptop.I decided on a netbook because I’m cheap and because I’m a journalist. I was a computer-browsing rookie when I first typed “best netbooks for college students” into google three years ago, but when I saw the angelically-white, sleek Asus visage pop onscreen, it was love at first sight. I remember Chiyo’s arrival, how I scurried to the mailroom, decided I couldn’t wait to walk all the way back to my dorm room to open the box, and plopped down on a sofa in the bookstore to bring her out of her packing kernels and into the light. We were meant to be.

Technology and I aren’t ordinarily compatible. It took me at least three years of having my own cell phone to appreciate the power of texting and portable web surfing; even now, I have at least one “Crap, where’s my phone?” moment a day, despite my friends’ constant reminders. I don’t own an e-reader, and although I’m trying to be a good little journalist and adapt to the world of tweeting, posting, and tumbling, print newspapers are still the first love of my life.

But Chiyo was different. Chiyo was a computer, and simply that. She suffered the daily abuses of a student reporter’s life, from being hastily shoved into purses en-route to interviews to exhausting her battery life after hours of essay-writing. I regret that I could only pay her back with scratches, cracks, and smudge marks. Even at her shambliest, though, Chiyo was cute enough to entice an, “awww, that’s the most adorable little laptop I’ve ever seen!” from an onlooker. Yes, Chiyo was a looker, even near the end of her three-year existence.

The perfect size for toting around in purses and attracting adorable cats.

The perfect size for toting around in purses and attracting adorable cats.

Chiyo’s successor should arrive in a few days. My new computer (whose name is yet to be determined) should be a bit sturdier than Chiyo, more ready to tackle its intense word processing and internet browsing duties than Chiyo was. My new computer will certainly have its work cut out for it this year, starting with a summer of full-time reporting and then pummeling headfirst into a senior year of thesis research and editing.

Chiyo’s sturdier, equally-adorable replacement, according to google images.

I imagine saying goodbye to tech tools like Chiyo is difficult for any journalist. AP Style books need to be replaced after a few short years; notebooks with precious doodles in the margins are constantly cycled through; recorders, cameras, cell phones, and yes, even computers, eventually succumb the the whirlwind life of reporting. We become attached to these gadgets. They’re full of the memories and fleeting moments that we aren’t able to squeeze into our 500-word articles, so replacing them is bittersweet.

But my new computer marks a turning point in my growth as a journalist, student, and writer. She (yes, it’s going to be a she) will be my Chestertown companion, right there with me in the newsroom, in my dorm room, on the Chester River shore, and wherever my job may take me. Actually, I do have a name for her, now that I think about it: River.

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