I am haunted by a ghost.
It is not a particularly malicious ghost. It’s not the type that wakes me up in the night, sweating and panicking with fear at an unexplained weight on my chest. It’s not the type you’d see in a horror movie, one that makes me fear going into dark places for fear I’ll be dragged away to my demise. It doesn’t knock things off of shelves or fill my house with unexplained whispers, screams, or laughter.
It’s not even particularly consistent. I might go weeks without feeling I’ve been bothered by it, but then a moment comes to be where I realize it’s decided to touch my life again. It has followed me for quite some time, after all. There doesn’t seem to be any escaping it. It was around when I lived in my parents’ house. It followed me to college, and then again when I moved out of state, and now that I live in my own home it has followed me back.
This ghost doesn’t haunt a place, but a person. Me. Sometimes I refer to the ghost as a curse, because the effects are similar, but they seem too much like there’s some intelligence behind them. As far as I can tell, it has no intent to harm me, but it certainly intends to irritate me. It reminds me of a trickster spirit from certain folk tales. This ghost’s tricks aren’t particularly broad, though. It has a singular area of focus.
I’ve told people of my curse with technology. Most laugh it off, believing me to whatever extent they will. My husband is one who laughs, even though he sees the results. He can’t explain them, and he isn’t affected by them, so I think he takes it mostly as a joke. I did, too, at first, but as the years pass by and the evidence builds up it becomes harder and harder to believe that my life experiences have been mere happenstance. There’s something that follows me, and it changes the way tech functions for me.
I don’t know if I can recall the first instance of technology malfunctioning for me in particular, but I do know the earliest example that I can think of was the computer I kept in my bedroom in my parents’ home. I suppose I said earlier that this ghost isn’t the type that wakes me up in the middle of the night, and as a general rule, that is true — but it has woken me up before. There were several times, throughout high school and perhaps middle school, that I woke with a start in the middle of the night to discover that my computer has spontaneously turned itself on.
Perhaps you know this already, or perhaps your imagination will now fill in the details, but let me tell you: waking to the sudden sound of PC fans cranked up to high, when you were laying in dead silence, comes as quite a shock. Waking to a blue light illuminating your room when you expected darkness is eerie and disconcerting. I know that I turned that PC off, and that it wasn’t just sleeping; I know, because I didn’t use it. I had, when it first moved into my room, but by the time it first started turning itself on, I hadn’t really used it for years.
Perhaps I should just have unplugged it, so that it didn’t keep startling me in the night. The thought, I can be honest, didn’t occur to me. I often forgot about it, come morning, at least enough so that I didn’t think to unplug in. The memory of jumping straight from sleep to waking in the middle of the night hasn’t deserted me, though.
Maybe that computer grew lonely from disuse, and it wished I would use it again. Maybe there was some ghost in my parents’ house that possessed it, or that wished to make use of the computer for itself; maybe it’s that ghost which followed me, angered at me for some wrong I never knew I committed. I don’t know.
I only know that the ghost’s touch follows me still. Technology just doesn’t work for me sometimes. Luckily — but also often to my chagrin — the curse doesn’t affect my husband. I would say, when I had my old laptop, “Can you take a look at my computer? It won’t connect to the WiFi.” As soon as he picked it up, it would connect as though it had never even struggled. This goes for any number of things that aren’t working for me but work as soon as he lays hands on them, but sometimes, his touch isn’t enough for a cure.
My devices, for example, will not recognize that there’s a printer on our home network. I am completely unable to access the printer from either my desktop or my smart phone. It’s endlessly inconvenient. I constantly have to bother him to print things for me, or to scan anything I wish to have in digital form. He has tried to get both devices to find the printer, but to no avail. It’s frustrating and hopeless.
My desktop also has a little quirk with the screens, which thankfully has a workaround or it may have driven me mad by now. I have three monitors: two horizontal, and one vertical. The horizontal monitors are set up so that one is directly above the other, with the vertical monitor to the left of them both, pressed up against their side. It’s a very useful setup when working on any number of things, except for one issue: my mouse cursor absolutely refuses to transition between the two horizontal monitors.
Why, do you ask? It’s my curse. I can’t explain it otherwise. The cursor transitions easily from the top horizontal monitor to the vertical monitor on the left. It will then move smoothly, just as it should, from the vertical monitor to the bottom horizontal monitor. It will simply not pass between the two horizontal ones, as though there is some mysterious barrier between them. I know they’re set up correctly, in the display setup, because not only are they oriented properly with the vertical monitor, but as a begin to drag a window down from the top to the bottom, it starts to appear on the next monitor! It just stops when the cursor reaches the border, refusing to go any further.
It occurred to me to write this today because I recently encountered another instance of the haunting. The ghost must have decided it would be amusing to mess subtly with my smart phone. The phone is still entirely functional, thankfully; the change the ghost made was simple, though immensely irritating. It has randomly changed all of my ringtones. This is worthy of remark because, well, I haven’t accessed any of the ringtone settings since I first got the phone. They’ve been the same for over a year. Until now.
I noticed last week that when I asked Google to help me find my phone, the song that it played was, for some unexplainable reason, “Bad Horse Letter,” from Dr. Horrible’s Sing-along Blog. I thought this was curious, but at the time I didn’t think about it further. Then, just yesterday, I had my phone off of vibrate, someone called me, and there’s Bad Horse again. I crinkled my nose, went into settings, and looked at my ring tone. Bad Horse. I hadn’t even realized I had the file on my phone, but apparently I did.
Where did my Zelda ringtone go? Why did it change? The ghost. I reset my ringtone to another piece from Zelda, then asked my husband to call me. When it rang, it should have been either a theme from Age of Empires (I have custom ringtones set for several people — or, at least, I did), or the Zelda ringtone I had just set as my primary ringtone. It was neither. Instead, it played another random song from Dr. Horrible.
Now, I don’t mind Dr. Horrible. Neil Patrick Harris is great and the overall experience is enjoyable, and I’ll still listen to music from it from time to time. With that said, when I set a ringtone, I want it to stay. I think you can sympathize with that. Now I only wish that the ghost would, as well. If only I knew how to send it away.