As all children, my world was shaped by my reality and surroundings. We spent time outdoors in the nearby forest or playground with the neighbourhood kids, travelled in packs on our bikes with walkie talkies that only operated within fairly close range, but on a rainy day or when the days grew dark early, we spent time at home with the “real toys” and make shift ones.
My father is a self-taught computer programmer. During the DOS days, I remember taking turns with my brother, playing Lode Runner on a refurbished Commodore 64 (and later on, the Apple Macintosh), while my father worked on installing software onto clients’ new machines in his home office (which he has always called his computer room) while my mom was out working. My brother and I also played with old motherboards, and used them as part of the intricate Lego landscapes we built. Sometimes Transformers and My Little Ponies would also join the multi-verse party, but no matter what, the motherboards were there. The black “micro” chips (a stretch to even fathom they were even deemed micro at one point in history) that belonged in these old computers, which were about the size of a Pink Pearl eraser, were often used as stools, tables or even lily pads for the toys, since the chips’ sharp teeth sunk into the plush carpets my parents’ home had back then. The dot matrix printer’s dotted “paper lace” trim were often folded into accordions to define boundaries with the toys’ living spaces, and often used to represent white picket fences.
Dad was not religious (still isn’t), but he had his rituals (still has them). One ritual was after his morning coffee (which continues to this day) in the same grey Motorola-branded mug, he would spend time in his computer room and tinker. Whether he was writing code, retrieve what was believed irretrievable data from a client’s machine, or updating software, he spent time with these machines, what he always referred to as “maintaining an open channel” with them. He said that it was this open channel that allowed and continues to allow him to hear them. Spending time with them kept the channels open. I had no idea how my father was talking about magickal currents and our personal resonance in relationship to another, as he has never once described himself as an intuitive or psychic person, but I have no doubt that his terminology was what shaped my own way of relating with the Unseen.
Dad did not attend any formal schooling in computer sciences and software development, and he had never considered himself especially savvy in the industry. Yet, his friends and associates would solicit his expertise whenever their businesses had a tech need. And because Dad’s approach to working with computers was unconventional – he didn’t have the industry’s training to influence his approach – some newly referred clients may initially question his capacity to deliver, yet any scepticism around his credibility from these new clients was consistently short lived.
People would bring their laptops to him, or call to request he visit their office. My father would sit with the computer, tune-in and feel what was truly wrong, and would begin intuitively working towards remedying the issue. Clients would say, the last IT person already tried this, or, no—the last IT person said this was not the problem, and Dad would nod and do his thing anyway. He had a 100% solve rate.
* * *
The week after the Lunar New Year, Dad brought my brother and I to K-Mart so we could use our lucky red envelope money to each select a toy. My brother and I agreed on splitting the cost for Super Mario Brothers 2. While holding the cartridge still in its closed box, Dad held it then placed it back on the shelf before selecting an identical box of the same game. That other one had a virus, he said.
* * *
One Saturday morning, Dad sat with oolong tea instead.
You’re not drinking coffee anymore? I asked.
Not today. The coffee grinder said it needs to rest, or it will be unhappy, he replied.
Forgetting that Dad had heeded the warning, Mom attempted to grind some coffee after lunch, and the grinder died.
* * *
Fast forward to when I was 21 years old, and as a legal adult (by international definition, since 19 years is the legal age in Canada) in the year 2000, my friends and I went to Vegas during the summer (we were too inexperienced to know that it’s much more comfortable to go during the cooler months). Viewing the world through the glossy veneer of youth and the health we all took for granted then, we were drawn to Vegas from a place of curiosity and naiveté, hoping to experience the irresponsibilities of the exaggerated out-of-proportioned partying, buffet dinner exhilaration, the sights-lights-and-sounds, …and…well… …boys (obvs)…
Upon arrival, with martini in hand, one friend insisted…
The full story of ENOUGH TO TIDE ME OVER: Communicating with Digital Spirits is available for FREE in May’s issue of UNSEEN Magazine.