i have been suffering the escalating consequences of what was only a minor brain-fart all day.  On my way out for a run/walk this morning, i shut down my laptop – hitting the “sign out” button on several windows without really thinking about it.  Returning an hour later, i attempted to log onto my e-mail — an drew a complete blank on the password. 

Thinking “of course i know this password”, i managed to get myself locked out after three failed attempts.  Going to the “password help” page, i realized that i was up against a major obstacle – this e-mail account was formed in 1988.  The security question “What is your pet’s name?” would have been four dogs ago… and could have been one of either critter we had at the time. 

i managed to get myself booted out of that after three incorrect answers, and went to the live chat “help” screen.  Where i was informed by a delightful young Indian man named “Krystal” that i was NOT the account owner, and therefore, he couldn’t reset my password.  Oh, right.  In 1988, i was married to a man with several graduate degrees, including a Master’s in Computer Science.  HE set up the account, even though he hasn’t used that address for 10 years. 

Quadruple Fuck.  i use that account for ALL of my personal business.  Bank accounts, bill paying, and all sorts of things… to have it just disappear?  Up the ass without a courtesy spit… fucked bad.

On my way out the door, i grabbed my work blackberry and sent my ex-husband a desperate plea for help… “really sorry to bug you, but i’m fucked.  can you try to reset my old e-mail password?”  Fortunately, he was able to guess at the set up information from two decades ago, and got the password reset. 

Having no luck re-setting the password (due to the aforementioned failure on my part to remember animal names – even though i used the one he told me he used to no avail), i decided it was time to retire the old e-mail.

i’ve spent the better part of the afternoon and evening beginning the process to migrate to a new account.  Was delighted to find that gmail has an ‘import’ function, which moved all of my saved messages into a sparkly clean in-box.  Even moved my old “saved mail” folders.  Groovy!

Along the way, i realized that i’d been packing a SHITLOAD of e-baggage.  First folder to be deleted?  Theater business.  Fuck all y’all.  Didn’t even read any of it.  “Skatepark” files?  Um, the local skater punks have been burning up those ramps for three years.  Done.  Next?  Went through all of the “home logistics” folders and deleted information that had gone well past the expiration date.  A receipt for a gift ordered in 2006?  Probably not worth keeping…  Therapeutic!

Oh, but the treasures… e-mail exchanges about work stress with my “day husband”.  Shit.  We were funny when our heads were exploding.  Sharing “trailer park” stories with my friends.  Pre-blog.  Some of those exchanges are ripe for lifting directly as historical posts… 

Messages exchanged with my daughter as she sailed around the world.  Heartbreak delivered, and received.  My entire divorce, essentially documented in e-mail exchanges with a friend going through her divorce at the same time.  E-mails with gentlemen friends as we tested the murky dating waters.  The “you have malaria” / “no wait, it’s mono” story.  The breast cancer coaster.

It was my intention to just trash those folders… but i don’t think i can do that just yet.  There are about 1,876 nuggets of “holy shit? i completely forgot about that!” to wade through first…


For giggles?  Here’s a look at an AOL ad from 1986.  Well, quantum link, the AOL predecessor.  And it doesn’t even mention the porn!


17 thoughts on “E-archeology…

  1. i think i’d find it too painful to see my past dredged up like that, whether good or bad. probably just where i am right now and you’re in a better place to be more philosophical about the reminiscing. but VERY glad that you were able to recover with minimal pain.

    delightful young Indian man named “Krystal”


  2. chris – was very appreciative that my ex was helpful and responsive… could have been a big freakin’ dick about it, but he’s a good human… made it all manageable.

    unbearable banishment – hey? you? bite me! ok? so i’m a bit of a luddite, despite the fact that my ‘day job’ has me sitting at the state-of-the-art technology table. i’ve had that e-mail address for 20 years?!?!? that was almost as long as i was MARRIED… (sniff, sniff…)

    gnukid – there are some treasures in there. some surprises. i guess i wasn’t always this dead inside…

  3. I had an AOL e-mail address from when I first got onto the internet in 1997. It didn’t last long though. The address might still exist and if it does, the inbox is probably full of e-mails inviting me to “enlarge my member to give your wife/girlfriend/lover more pleasure”.

    I don’t believe in using the same password on any two sign-ins, so I generally just save them in the browser. Of course, I run a laptop and desktop and often the two get out of sync when I forget a password and reset it on the machine opposite to where it’s saved. But those are minor problems compared to yours of today.

    But then, the opportunity to do a little mining wouldn’t otherwise have been presented, would it?

    Enjoy your excavations.

  4. I had a similar problem recently when my mobile phone provider wouldn’t accept my change of address because my ex husband had opened the account 17 years ago……. grrrr……

  5. I have a love/hate relationship with my e-mail archives. Such fabulous treasures in amongst all the administrivia … for some reason I can’t ever bring myself to hit “delete”. Seems I’m a digital pack-rat, too.

  6. rob – that was why my ex ditched his AOL about 10 years ago. spam-a-rific. their filters got better in the past five years. for me? i just liked having a simple, short, and easy-to-remember e-mail… and i’d occasionally get a ‘blast from the past’ e-mail from old friends that was fun… onwards!

    nursemyra – i’m sure my ex was annoyed to have to deal with that sort of thing again, but he was a real sweetie for responding so quickly. those entanglements we develop when married are often sneaky little things, aren’t they?

    tNb – ‘digital pack rat’. yep. i guess i’m one too… so much harder for me to get rid of words than it is to toss out old ‘stuff’. i have some e-mails at work from friends who have died. i read them sometimes. that’s a little weird, i think…

  7. Please… do not get me started on forgotten passwords. I have lost access to everyone I have exchanged email with since my web love affair began.

    Now, what the bejaysus was I doing before I came here to comment?

  8. Get RoboForm and put it on all your machines. There’s a free version and a pay version. It is fabulous unless you’re on a strange machine, because when you have an aide memoire like RoboForm, you WILL forget all passwords instantly. But you can print ’em before you go, and put the printout in your suitcase. Life will be good.

  9. amber – that phrase was tossed around and perfected by a friend of mine, and i use it for just the right situation… so much more graphically painful than ‘asking for a courtesy ‘reach around'” isn’t it?

    jimmy – i thought of what challenges you must be facing when i was doing my trivial battle to unearth my old e-mail account… only a tiny glimpse of the frustration for me…. here’s hoping that it comes back to you soon!

    renalfailure – ok, fine. keep reminding me of how young you are and i will not break out the suede boots when we meet up someday…

    utahdaddy – thanks for the lead…. right now? i’ve simply put cryptic versions of passwords/usernames in a list in my blackberry. but if i lose my blackberry? that’s where the printed version would be damn nice to have on hand…

  10. Didn’t mention the porn, but thats the best bit.

    At a quick look I have 8372 unopened email messages. When I hit ten thousand I’ll… shit I won’t do anything will I…

  11. what i wouldn’t give to have back my accounts when i was in my coming-of-age (fall down crazy) nashville days. i found my old blog from six years ago recently and i read it like i was reading someone else’s. amazing way to revisit a snapshot of your life at a point in time.

    in the meantime, i will wait for some juicy archival posts about heads exploding, sailing, and trailerpark-ology.

  12. alex – oh, yeah… there are some e-mails to/from the gent friends that are frightening…. oh, wait. that’s not the porn you were talking about?

    dave – i still have journals from my adolescence. i wrote – nearly daily – in journals from the time i was about 13 until i met my future husband (literally, my last entry) at 19 years old… they are astonishing. i would flip through and read my own words as my children were teens, in an attempt to remember what the teenage brain was like. it helped. i was a loon….

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