Not Addicted

Day 3 without the computer. I’m bubbling with writing ideas this morning because I can’t write, because I have no easy-open Word doc and keyboard. Perverse. Take a shower for crissake. Ideas on politics, aging, writing, and autumn flit through my head too swiftly to record. By hand? On paper? You must be kidding. The writing I printed out, so I’d have things to work on while the computer’s gone—I have not even glanced at. Revision requires thinking.

City Park, November 2021

Day 4. Does my mouse shoulder feel better or is it coincidental? My cursive slops after a paragraph, my hand cramps after a page. A cool, overcast day. It makes Phil want to go back to bed. Remind me not to move this man to the Northwest. I find the gray tranquil. A bit melancholy too, but then, I’ve always had a penchant for melancholia. Many of my passwords are apparently stored solely on the laptop. Ain’t that special. Writing on the phone is a form of torture.

I sit at my desk and automatically pull out the keyboard tray. I wish I had my old manual typewriter, the first-place prize in a poetry contest. I loaned it to some poet, a girl who never returned it and who I have resented these fifty years. O.K., so maybe I gave it to her, couldn’t imagine wanting it again, had my new Selectric. I still resent her. I could be typing this very moment if I only had it. I’m not addicted, though. Still haven’t looked at the drafts I printed out to revise. What is that droning the fridge is doing now?

Day 5. A text from Mac repair tells me joyfully that their technician is working on my Mac!! Seriously? This is Day 5 and they’ve just started? And this news deserves exclamation points? Two blogs I follow have new posts and I hate reading on the phone and don’t remember the passwords to comment on them because they are saved on my laptop the technician just started working on!! Friends more mature than I am, though decades younger, tell me this is a chance to take a break, get some rest. Me, I’m obsessed by how far behind I’m getting. I pull out the spare keyboard, attached to nothing, and run my fingers over it, wistfully.

Red Leaf Fall

Day 6. Paul, from Chicago, is visiting my next-door neighbors. He’s formed the habit of taking us to brunch while here, on a day when his hosts go to work. That happened yesterday, helped soften the blow of learning they were only beginning to work on my laptop.

The sting of rejection also prickled the back of my brain. Some poems came back and if I had the computer, I’d record that, get my husband to say nasty things about those editors and send the poems elsewhere. It was a double burn because J-L got a piece published the same day. I’m happy for her, of course, but do think it was thoughtless of J-L to get published on the very same day I got a reject. The fridge is still humming.

Tom and Sharn were in town, so we had breakfast with them at Zaidy’s, another timely distraction. Feeling desperate, I went so far as to make revision notes on the essay I printed, read the poem drafts, but working on them was still too much to ask. Instead, because our first frost warning was issued, we spent the afternoon shutting down the sprinkler system, taking out screens and putting glass back in the storm doors. Moved the fridge to see about that humming. Tom suggested it doesn’t know the words. Not amused.

Day 7. I check my phone every ten minutes to see if my computer’s ready. Araceli, in Querétaro, a younger-but-wiser friend, suggests “a veces, prescindir de la tecnología abre puertas de percepción de la belleza.” Dispensing with technology sometimes opens doors to perception of beauty. I respond, I hope in good Spanish, “y también un ritmo más lento.” I was putting a good face on it, but frankly, I haven’t the patience for slower paces. And the fridge still hums randomly but refused to make a sound while the repair guy was here.

My mouse shoulder doesn’t ache as much and that’s not writing, people, that’s games, the mindless, repetitive games I play when I’m procrastinating. I swear to stop playing games when the laptop returns. I’m not addicted. I survived seven days without them, right? I’m picking up the laptop today. Any bets as to how long I’ll last? Oh, and do you know if fridge compressors can be repaired?

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11 Responses to Not Addicted

  1. Filo con queso says:

    It’s terrible when one has to realize that she has the patience of a 5-year old!

  2. Patti says:

    I absolutely love this–and totally relate. Your writing captures it so well (even without a laptop!)

  3. Bob Jaeger says:

    I can relate. My old computer has been acting up for weeks, and in addition my email server has ‘upgraded’ its service (yeah, right) causing problems without end that I have no hope of fixing. My computer guy is coming tomorrow with a new laptop and more knowledge about all this crap than I even want to briefly contemplate much less try to learn. Maybe another cup of coffee…

  4. Jenny-Lynn says:

    Oh, how I love a good rant! And the fact that your computer is home where it belongs.

    Thanks for your writing. If I didn’t envy you almost as much as I like you, I’d never have been published at all.

  5. I’ve never been able to write poems on a machine—my old Olympia portable or my old Selectric, both ensconced on garage rafters how. Prose flows a bit better on a keyboard, but then I always wrote prose that way, making the strike-bar heads whack the rolled-in paper, until the first confusers—mine was an IBM PC Junior—came along, complete with a digital “tick” that eased the transition from mechanical to digital keyboards. I still miss that thick “whack,” though. You felt like something substantial was appearing on the paper. And after revision via penned marginalia there was the grueling task of retyping it all. Afterward, the stack of “finished” pages looked thin next to the ragged stack of successive revisions. But at least you felt like you’d done something! On the confuser, everything feels vaporous, tentative, unfinished, and that feeling bleeds over into me. No wonder I feel like a ghost most days….

    • dubrava says:

      Sometimes I feel like I write these mini-essays just to get a response like this one. My few and far between poems also first arrive by pen-in-hand, but soon after go to digital. Thanks, Joe!

  6. Denise Gibson says:

    Hi Pat
    I am always delighted when you lift the shade and let me peer through the window of your life. Girl, you make me smile!

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