Everyday is like being in the third grade for me. I was educated in the American public school system (but for a brief detour into the north woods of Michagan for some private boarding school) in the 3 R's canon and life was presented as a very concrete, matter-of-fact place to function. NOTHING and I mean nothing, was even hinted about what was to come. Acres of gigantic computing machines with hole-punched tape and spinning reels sent men into outer space when I was a kid but there was nothing suggested about a small box of plastic pieces that would sit on top of a desk and send my sanity to the moon. The computer way of life came on like an amphetamine rush, just about the time I thought I should be feeling some firm footing in my life. Like many plebs of my generation, I segregated myself from the computer users because I was an artist and computers were for "regular" people and office workers. (True enough, I was sent to business school but I learned the fine art of bar keeping by this time and never dreamed that the computer would invade hospitality too!) It seemed very clear that as long as I could continue to get ribbons for my IBM Selectric I could communicate with the world in a business-like fashion and could leave the desk tops computers to the geeks. How'd that work out, you may be asking.
I finally relented a few years before my son was born. My sweet husband let me quit my job in the film industry to stay at home and write screenplays while he put down the guitar and posted billing (on a computer) for a TV company. My first crack at the computer was a set- up that Denny brought home from work. It was one of those scary things with the black screen and the flashing amber cursor. I knocked out two, rather fine, screenplays on that monster and though I never memorized the "F" keys (I'll allow you to imagine what I called those keys in frustration) and always needed a cheat sheet, I felt that I had slipped my way onto the information highway and could travel at my own speed. Once my son was born I found I could not cope with a new baby and a computer at the same time and so, not so suprisingly, I walked away from the computer...
...for about five years. In techno, that is light speed travel through several universes. My son went off to school, people were constantly asking me if I had email and I decided that I needed to catch up with folks that were concerned with things other than juice boxes and playdates. I purchased my first Compaq computer and had no idea just how stupid I could feel until I sat down before this chunky white plastic cube and put my fingers on the keyboard. Let me just say, here and now, that my tolerance for slow is embarassingly low. And may I remind you that waiting for a home page to materialize in the mid-nineties, particularly when a photograph was involved, was a herikeri mission to those of us with no patience. I would literally begin to perspire and bounce my knees up and down, sitting in the chair waiting...waiting...waiting...waiting...............
Forget it!!! This was not a time saver! This was a time waster and I had no time to waste! As far as I was concerned, home computers were for people who either had nothing to do or didn't want to do what they had to do. Done.
We moved to a new house and I was claiming a room of my own. A place to sit, read, be alone and yes, I was going to try to write again. A new Compaq was purchased and I was assured the computer had come a long way and it was not going to make me as tense and nervous as the last one had. I set up an email account, collected a few addressses of people to communicate with and did very little writing. I did do a little research now and then. I worked with a friend to put together a fine trip to Italy and utilized WebMD when I thought I could shortcut going to the doctor. The PTA Presidency gave me opportunity to get on the computer occaisionally but my feeling about the whole thing remained the same - computers were a crashing waste of time. Give me a phone and a typwriter anyday!
A two year-old Dell was brought home from the office and a much nicer printer was purchased. Bills were being paid online cutting the amount of time it took me to pay all the debts from our credit riddled lives in half and saved me from having to write my name over and over again until I was sick of myself. People were becoming annoyed with me as they tried to make plans via email as I waited for phone calls. "Don't you ever check your email?!?" Obviously, no. But I began to take the whole email thing into consideration and realized it was becoming a matter of social etiquette and if I wanted to have a life outside of my home, I should probably get with the program. I will check my email more that once a week, I will check my email more than once a week...
Something else that was happening was another one of my favorite mediums was taking a powder and being replaced by the digital. The good old fashioned, film photograph that I had spent so much time and money learning how to do well was gasping it's last breath as the point and shoot digital was bursting into Best Buy. When my beloved Cannon 35mm broke and it was going to cost me a fortune to repair it, my husband and son presented me with a lovely digital camera for my birthday and I didn't know whether to be grateful or cry. Yet another one of my life's pleasures that I was going to have to learn how to do - all over again.
Woe, oh woe to me. Okay. The cordless phone - a liberation. Loved it and welcomed it with open arms. The answering machine - I didn't need an answering service anymore, it was one less bill to pay and even though it put good people out of work, I liked the machine better. Ditching the correctable typewriter - you know the drill. But now the glorious, sensuous, malleable endeavor of exposing film to light? Oh gawd.
So here's how it was adding up for me. Either I continued to be a middle-aged stick in the mud that looked way too much like my mother telling me my teenaged music was just noise or I just hold my nose and cross the line into the 21st Century and try to enjoy the ride. I never wanted to ever become my mother, in any sense, and I continue to fancy myself a hip albeit aging person and so - I crossed. Stepped right over that big fat timeline with my "yes we can" attitude and looked across the horizon of the future. Yet like anything with a learning curve, there is a generous amount of time spent in learning pergatory before the fun begins.