Satire | A day in the life of midterms as told through my HP Envy

By Anne Marie Yurik, Staff Columnist

It’s 1:47 a.m. I am sitting on a green IKEA desk as Anne Marie works into the morning hours. I watch her throughout the day. I am with her when she starts her school work until she forfeits for the day and drags herself to bed. I am not a stalker or an overzealous group project member — I’m her HP Envy Laptop. 

Today started like most other days — she grabbed me off the floor, stubbed her toe on the corner of her bed, yelled “aw nuts!” and then plopped into her desk chair. She starts her day optimistic yet bone tired. Her optimism, even to herself, feels like a skeleton eating a McDonald’s quarter pounder — it runs right through them, and they regret having it the next day. The to-do list sits in her planner. She looks at it, hopeful that she can get it all done today.

I don’t know how to tell her that thinking she can complete this to-do list is about as likely as one of the 30 women who join “The Bachelor” actually finding “the one.” I let her lie to herself. I know she won’t get a rose. She logs into Canvas, pulls up her work and bounces between the four essays that she has due in the next 48 hours. 

Despite the deadlines staring her down, she switches tabs from her Canvas assignment to Google. A five minute break isn’t a bad thing, right? But for her, five minutes turns to 20, which turns to an hour and the next thing you know she’s online shopping.

She searches for “Guy Fieri wig” in the shopping tab. I watch her browse through a plethora of blonde wigs while simultaneously looking at pictures of Fieri in a separate window to confirm that the wig looks realistic. 

Like a suburban mother digging through her child’s drawers, she rummages through the various images of random white men in Fieri wigs, but the prices exceed her budgeted goal. She’s about as good with money as the people on “House Hunters” — she wants a modern, renovated, spacious house that’s steps away from the beach for only two dollars. 

After getting humbled by how expensive it is to look like the Mayor of Flavortown, she heads back to work, confident that despite the time she lost, she will still be able to get her assignments done for class. Her optimism is unwaning.

Part of me admires her for always seeing the best in the situation. The other half of me wants to shake her. The only reason I can’t shake her is because I do not have arms, muscles or even a body.

She looks optimistic until she’s two sentences into her most recent paper. It’s like I can see the wheels in her head screeching to a halt. She’s trying to force the gears to keep turning at all costs, but even she could see this wasn’t going her way.

Unbeknownst to her, she had used up the peak hours for her brain when she was looking at goatees and adding them, then pulling them from her cart. It’s midterm season. But it’s also fall, so she can’t be expected to completely focus. Like a hipster finding a new flavor of kombucha, every time a leaf slowly drifts to the ground, whatever she was doing no longer matters.

She decides to listen to a playlist, maybe having walk-up music — but actually sit-for-hours-on-end music — would give her the motivation that she needs. She begins playing “Main Character” playlists on Spotify, she wants this grind to feel like a movie montage, even though it’s just her funneling pretzels into her mouth and praying that any single thought would appear in her brain.

It’s the late afternoon, and we are at her desk. One of her classes is about to start, which means I get a mini roller coaster ride. She puts me on the seat of her desk chair and pushes me down the hall to her living room. 

For her sanity, she has dubbed her living room as the classroom and her bedroom as the work space. Every day she will push her wheely chair across the carpeted floor, her muscles flexing disproportionately hard in comparison to the task at hand. She made like Sisyphus and every day rolled this metaphorical rock to the peak of the mountain, only to have it bulldoze her on its way down. 

Once class is over, she wheels me back to the room and places me once again at my home on the green desk. She grabs a blanket, wraps it around herself the way she used to when she was younger and mimicking the nuns at her school, and begins typing yet again.

Other computers always ask me, do you like working all day? How do you feel about the sticker she put next to your touchpad that simply states “oh whale” over the image of a blue minke whale? 

Yes, she did waste time looking through the encyclopedia Britannica to find the specific type of whale. And yes it is possible that the sticker represents nothing and is just a stereotypical cartoon image. Again, like Olive Garden breadsticks, her optimism is bottomless.

When I answer my fellow computers’ questions, I simply say “It ain’t much, but it’s honest work”.

I mean, sure, I track her data and send it to companies. And yeah, I also track her purchases to put similar ads on her social media so she spends more money. And maybe I do lose the internet in the middle of a Zoom call. But I do it all with love. 

Each day when her alarm goes off, and I feel her lift me from the floor, I know I’m in for a wild ride. In between essays, and crying, and snack breaks and mini roller coaster rides, I know that she and I have gone through the best and the worst of things. And even though she doesn’t know me much, I know her, even if it’s just from her internet history. 

Write to Anne Marie at [email protected].