Yes, The computer died, but was resurrected. ( OOPs, wrong holiday) While I was without computer, I though about the computer, a lot. First was just the fury at having a mechanical something break for no reason. I’d actually have been less upset if I’d dropped it down the steps, or out of a boat. I’d have felt stupid, but not angry. Then The tech support system ( my husband) allowed as how he thought it could be fixed. I refused- didn’t want to spend the money on something that was teetering towards obsolesce. Then, I started thinking about computers- what it meant to have a large cadre of invisible friends, to be connected to a group of folks who had some interests in common, even if they didn’t have zip codes in common.
I missed my blogs. I missed my email groups. I really missed wikipedia, and I really, really missed Google. All the confidence inspired by the ability to look up anything, anytime, anyhow. I found that I use the web as an adjunct filing cabinet to my brain. Recipes, instructions, maps- all of those things have helped me become who I am. I also rediscovered what a terrible speller I am. I am old enough that my very poor spelling actually help me back in my schooling. Essays that may or may not have been good were uniformly graded down because not only do I not know how to spell, I can’t even recognize a misspelled word. I once had a teacher get exasperated that I didn’t even misspell things the same way- that is I could use a word three times, and spell it differently each time. Without the little red underline to alert me to my errors, my confidence and perceived intelligence tumble. I’ve been counting for this paragraph and the little red underline has saved me from shame fourteen times.
I wonder how I learned to read, come to think of it. It must be a different part of the brain, and luckily for me it is a part that works. My poor spelling put me right on the not college material track as a child, and then the advent of word processors put me back on again, midway through my actual college education. I also have to give credit to the office of services to disabled students, to whom I took a grudging referral freshman year, and discovered that I was very learning disabled. My handwriting was so bad, an my spelling so poor, that I had to type my rough drafts before the paid typist would accept them to type them properly, with all the spelling fixed. I learned to have readable handwriting by turning it into a drawing type activity, but if I am not careful, and sometimes even if I am, my handwriting can change greatly even in mid sentence. I write very short, structured notes in my patient charts, and I talk in very long, complicated, all around the mulberry bush sentences.
This last week I spent a lot of time thinking about commercialism, consumerism and money. Christmas week is a tough week to ignore those things, particularly if you do not celebrate Christmas as part of your religion. I thought about what having a computer meant- that I was free of appearing ignorant and dumb, that I was freed to express myself through the written word and find the words of others. I realize that the privilege of doing so comes because I have money, and can’t help but think about those that do not have money. On the other hand, I work at a difficult job, a potentially dangerous job ( The only occupation with more disabling back injuries than nurses id that of a dock worker or stevedore.) I earn my money, and I try and do good work.
Like so many of us, I am worried about spending too much, using too much, wasting too much. I worry about the planet, and the hand basket it seems to be in. I love buying myself and my family little treats and luxuries, and I like spending money on yarn. A lot of yarn. Although I spent the week without a computer really trying to see if it was something I could give up, I realized that I cannot, not without really missing a big part of my life. I feel so lucky that I have the choice.