The Case of the Disappearing Notes


MEH and I worked computer-to-computer to fix the problem.

It started innocently enough. A friend alerted me that my emails were appearing in her inbox “as spam.” Not good, especially not good because I was beginning to query agents. That’s all I need—to have my queries shuffled off to spam mailboxes and never know what happened to them!

That was the first problem. Then my gmail (that I have forwarded to my mac mail and iPhone mail) started disappearing. Messages would be delivered to one device but not the other. Then my other (Roadrunner email) started acting up—I couldn’t send an email from my iPhone if I was within a certain radius of my laptop (I never figured out how far away I had to be, though). Confused a little? I was confused a lot.

One day everything was working perfectly, the next day nothing worked at all. I followed directions online, deleted all my mail accounts on both my mac and my iPhone and reinstalled them. Things were even worse. I stopped getting any email—at all.

Next I did something no one ever really wants to do. I made an appointment with the Apple store for “genius help.” Unfortunately the guy at the Apple store knew less than I did. He was generally rude and unhelpful…and did I mention apathetic? Turns out, he wasn’t even a genius. I found out when he said: “I could go ask one of the geniuses.” Me: “I thought I made an appointment with a genius.” Him: “They aren’t here all the time.” Me: “When should I come back?” Him: “You can never be sure…”

Did I mention customer unfriendly?

I called Apple. I know what you’re thinking. Now I’ll get somewhere. Yes, this is when I found out that my phone’s serial number was not correct and apparently (unbeknownst to me) the phone I got from the Apple store two years ago was an imposter (code word for they thought I stole the phone). Eventually I was transferred to Nicole, a “Senior Advisor” at Apple. Surely she would know the answer. Nicole: “When did you first notice your serial number was incorrect?” Me: “That’s not why I’m calling.” Nicole: “We can’t help you unless we figure this out. Where did you get this phone?” About forty-five minutes later, I hung up so I could wait for the email Nicole would send me about how to fix my gmail interaction with my iPhone. At least I had successfully convinced Nicole that I hadn’t in fact stolen my phone. But my email still wasn’t working.

Another hour later, after completing all the steps on the instructions Nicole sent, I still was having the same problems with my gmail. I gave up and moved onto the Roadrunner email problems. I did something even scarier than going to the Apple store. I called our internet provider (the one who administers that email account: Time Warner). TWO HOURS and FIVE REINSTALLATIONS OF MY EMAIL ACCOUNT later, I hung up with an increase of TEN DOLLARS a month in my cable bill (because the guy said my email problems were due to too slow an internet connection). This however did not fix my email problem.

That’s when I called in the big guns, did something I’d wanted to do from the beginning but had held off on doing because he’s been on a stressful, deadline-driven project: I called MEH (My Engineer Husband). That night MEH and I sat down, computer to computer, and two hours later my email was working again. All of it.

Now, to be honest, it doesn’t work exactly the way I want it to. If I’m to understand the (approximately) seventy pages of online group notes (read that gripes) and Apple support information, “improvements” in operating systems has caused my email to work differently than it used to. This would’ve been a valuable thing for Apple, gmail, or Time Warner to let me know right up front (they didn’t).


This is the kind of irreplaceable note I lost.

Oh, and the title of this post—the case of the disappearing notes? Well, sometime in the midst of all this uninstalling, reinstalling, moving, deleting, changing, talking, griping, and general teeth gnashing? I lost every single Note I’d taken on my iPhone. We’re talking observations, character notes, cross-country trip notes, songs I want to buy notes, funny story notes, things I need to do notes. Yes, everything. GONE.

Turns out one other thing no one told me was this: somehow Notes and gmail are integrally tied together—I still don’t know how. Even though I’d never asked for this “feature,” all notes were deleted from my phone the second I deleted the gmail account. So let me be the one to warn you. If you take notes on your phone (like I do) make sure you back them up separately and frequently (via sync-notes in iTunes—I think). Otherwise, you too could end up with…

The case of the disappearing notes. And let me tell you, no writer wants that.

Have you ever had a technology nightmare? I’d love to hear. You know what they say: misery loves company. And if you save notes to iTunes (or otherwise), I’d love to hear how you do that!







  1. Christine M Grote says:

    My condolences. What a bummer.
    At least you have YEH to bail you out. Let’s look on the bright side.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thank you, Christine. A bummer indeed. It is a bright side, as you say, that MEH and I can work together to try and straighten things out!

  2. Awesomely horrific post! I am sick to my stomach just reading it. I loved the “genius” part. . . and I take notes just like you do on my phone– I had no idea it was tied to gmail. Glad it all turned out mostly well for you. :0) P.S. I was inspired by you to blog the trip I took. Just posted Part One.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Yes, it’s a relief that it (mostly) turned out all right, and I’m at least glad that now I know the notes are tied to email. I’m still discouraged I lost them but no way will it happen again! PS I read and loved your road trip post, Christina!

  3. Geniuses need coffee breaks too, you know. 🙂

    Sorry to hear that you lost valuable notes, Julia. That is the WORST feeling. When I was working on BABY GRAND, I nearly lost everything. I actually just took steps to back up every document/email on my computer so that I never have to go through that again. Good luck with the querying!

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Yes! Geniuses do need coffee breaks, and I think I would have been sympathetic if I hadn’t made an appointement online and driven half an hour to get there on time…

      UGH. That’s a scary story about almost losing everything. It’s so true the importance of backup and I use time machine to backup my computer everyday, but I had no idea that didn’t include the notes on the iphone. I never want to go through this again, either, so I better make sure (like you did) that I back up everything!

  4. Oh MY… This is the kind of technology glitch that sends my blood pressure sky high (I have no tolerance for long phone calls that resolve nothing). And to think you were plagued with issue after issue after issue -AND that you lost your notes. UGH. You know, I never use my notes function. For some reason, I always just send myself an email or talk into Siri to transcribe a recording of my thoughts later. Not that any of that matters or brings back your 1) sanity or 2) notes.

    Thank God for MEH. Do you think you’ll ever get it all resolved and back the way you once had it?

    I’m off to back up my blog – something I’ve been remiss in doing lately. You’ve inspired me.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Yes, as you know my blood pressure WAS (okay, IS) sky high over this. I am still having issues unfortunately (no, still not back the way it was and I don’t think it ever will be… apparently Apple has made too many “improvements”), but I hope I won’t lose any more emails or notes. I think your idea to email ideas is a great one that I may adopt. At least I can preserve my future sanity! As for backing up my blog… EEEKS… thanks for the reminder, I haven’t done THAT lately either!

  5. Cynthia Robertson says:

    Ugh, horrifying, Julia! I had a similar situation about a month ago, (but not with all the additional snarls described here). A friend recommended I download an email app specifically for each email I use, and that solved everything.
    Sorry to hear you lost all your notes. Ouch!! Backup, backup, backup – it can never be said too much.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Yep, I always have, always will backup everything… iPhone Notes are just one of those quirky things that are not stratighforward enough to back up via iTunes and deleted with gmail… weird! I will definitely be checking out the apps — happen to remember the names of them?

  6. Barb Riley says:

    So I’m not the only one who thinks the, ahem, genius appointment at an Apple store can be a big fat disappointment? With a splash of rudeness thrown in for good measure? Seriously… I’ve found the staff there to be unfriendly and cocky (and I’ve brought my laptop in there several times).

    Sorry you had to go through all this. What a nightmare! As for notes, I still use the old-fashioned post-its and scraps of paper, so at least I know they’ll be there unless of course I forget where I put them!

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Glad to hear there’s another person who can understand my frustration with the genius bar. I have to say that I used to think it was an age thing, but my daughter will do ANYTHING to keep from going into the apple store and she is quite the tech wizard herself. I may just go back to pencil and paper BUT I lose those much more often than I do my electronic notes. I think I need to do what my kids used to and write on my hand. Of course then I’d need to explain why I had random dialogue notes on my hand 🙂

      p.s. You and I must be on the same wavelength! I just got back from the post office where I was mailing something to you, I kid you not!!

  7. Oh, Julia, this sounds absolutely terrible! I hate having my time wasted with tech problems (aren’t these things supposed to make our lives simpler?!) and I’m so sorry to hear about the notes. That’s the hardest part of all.

    I (knock on wood) have never had a huge IT problem like this, but several years ago I did manage to lose an ENTIRE notebook full of drafts with notes written on them by several workshop members while I was in college and working on the very, very first versions of what would years later become Chasing the Sun. I looked for this notebook everywhere, even my parents’ attic, and never found it. It still haunts me sometimes, and it was especially frustrating when I was rewriting CTS again a couple of years ago. But it also created an interesting challenge that I’m thankful for: it gave me a clean slate. I was forced to let go of these notes and look at the work with new eyes. (It still wasn’t fun.)

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thank you for understanding, Natalia; and, yes, it was pretty terrible. The loss of your notebook sounds terrible, too. I absolutely hate it when I lose a physical thing like that, only to spend hours looking for it to no avail. Although I’ve never lost anything that important, there have been other things never found. It’s always so puzzling, isn’t it?

      You gave me a ray of hope, though, with this: “But it also created an interesting challenge that I’m thankful for: it gave me a clean slate. I was forced to let go of these notes and look at the work with new eyes.” Such an encouraging and refreshing thought. Thank you!

  8. All your notes were deleted? Good grief. I’d never thought that would have happened. For a while my notes just started being emailed to me — then they stopped. Who knows? That’s what makes my husband crazy with this business. If their Quick Books goes down there is no paper to look to – — to get answers. Frustrating and scary. Hope you have better luck. I’ll look and see if any of your emails are sitting in my spam.

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thank you for your sympathy, Jamie, and as for the notes being mailed to you then stopping? That happened to me, too, at one point, and as I said to Nina, sometimes these things happen due to software/app updates and are utterly beyond our control. I can just imagine how frustrating and scary it can be to have something like this happen and have a whole business depend on it — how difficult for your husband with QuickBooks! Yes, paper seems to be the unifying key… must get back to that. I do back up but getting back to that backed up version can be painful.

      As for my emails in your spam? Yes, please check. I’ve been sending them everyday and *wondered* why you haven’t answered 😉

  9. Nina says:

    Oh no!!!!! I would freak out!!!! I think I might have my iphone notes tied into my gmail email account but I see that like in your case that would maybe not make a difference. I had an issue where I lost my calendar on my phone and my computer TWICE. It was infuriating and not my fault. Apple helped me recover it but it took like three different people and about five days of back and forth . . . and only via the phone–nobody in store could help. Was terrible.

    I’m so sorry you lost them. 🙁

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Believe me, I freaked out… then I wrote a blog (what else? haha). I’ve lost my calendar before, too, so I know how hard that can be, too. One thing I’ve come to learn is that sometimes settings (in email, calendar, etc.) change when iPhone software or gmail software is updated — so there’s really nothing any one of us can do if that happens. I can’t say that it’s what happened to my notes, but it’s the pits. Thank you for your sympathy and for understanding about the apple store. It’s terrible, you’re right!

  10. Gosh, Julia. *big cyber-hug*
    Thanks for the warnings…do you feel like the sacrificial lamb? (Thank goodness for computer-savvy spouses!)

    • Julia Munroe Martin says:

      Thank you, Cindy! Yes, I do feel a bit like a sacrificial lamb… and still having issues, sadly. I feel very lucky to have MEH but even he (by his own admission) can’t do much against google and gmail and apple…. after all, he’s only one software guy…