Monday, July 1, 2013

My Computer is a Roast Beef Sandwich


Life was perfect as a student at Auburn University. I lived in a studio apartment that faced directly across the street from a fast food restaurant. Nutrition? What was that? I ate one meal a day that consisted of a roast beef sandwich, a soft drink, and sometimes an apple pie. I had a great pair of thin, flat Bandalino sandals that everyone liked. I attended amazing art classes, drew though the night and shared refreshments from bottles in brown paper bags. I crawled through windows, climbed up a utility ladder and watched the sun rise from the roof over Toomer's Corner with my friends. I dated a romantic guy who lifted weights and liked to sing to me. Time was passing. I didn't notice.  Break came. Break went.

Things changed. A new quarter began. Math and science requirements made me tired. I felt hot asphalt burning the bottoms of my feet through holes in both of my sandals. A friend informed me that my boyfriend was engaged to a girl in Columbus, Georgia, and had been for over a year. I walked into the fast food restaurant, stood at the counter and felt my stomach turn a flip. I made eye contact with the counter clerk, stepped out of the line, walked home, and threw up. More than twenty years passed before I was able to look at another roast beef sandwich.

At the age of thirty-seven I got my first computer, a gift from my husband, an engineer, who encouraged me to explore. "There's nothing you can hurt that I can't repair," he told me from his contract job in Virginia. After coming home and reinstalling my hard drive twice he amended his statement. "The word delete means do not touch."

I drove about sixty miles to my friend Ann's house so that she could give me a lesson on how to use the Internet. It seems funny now, but I was afraid to touch the mouse. Of course, that didn't last. Neither did my almost twenty-year marriage. Aside from an amazing yellow and white, 21-speed Specialized bicycle with rock shocks and a gel seat, the computer became my closest and dearest friend. It was there for me.

In these past years I've learned a lot about computers. I've learned about social media too.  In the beginning I learned about online dating in a thirty-something chat room from an instant message that said, "I'm a shy physician. Would you like to talk?" It should have also said "Do you understand how these things work?" That was after I wandered into a room named "Bears 4 Bears" and was told "You've probably visited the wrong place."

I've learned about creating art online, and I've learned about creating websites and writing blogs. I've learned about marketing. I've learned how to buy cars, and buy foreign currency from my office. I've spent hours finding ancestors and meeting cousins I didn't know I had. I've learned how to find old friends, and wonderful recipes. I've also learned that it's often easier to make dinner reservations over the phone.

I found tremendous comfort and help through an unlikely group of collage blogger friends during the time that my dear mother was dying. I've been hacked more than a few times, had an embarrassing accidental twitter conversation with a well known comedian, and booked a multitude of hotel and air reservations through Hotwire and Orbitz. I've even reinstalled my hard-drive without help from anyone. I've moved from a PC to a Mac.  I participated in my first solo art show thanks to a UMSL gallery curator who saw my collages online. I learned how to date online and how to do a thorough background check. Best of all, thirteen years ago, I met my wonderful husband through the internet. I'm not sure I'd have the nerve to do that today.

Time continues to move. Over the past five years I've co-written a novel with my son. We learned about using google docs and drop box. After the book was edited I learned about formatting and online publishing. Three months ago I began spending an average of sixteen hours each day learning about marketing books through social media.  Then a friend visited from Mobile for a week. I took a break and we took the train to Chicago. She returned to the south and I returned to my long days as if I'd never left home. Weeks later, my sister came up from Florida. I took more time off. We shopped, played and talked non-stop. We relaxed. We talked about finding balance. She flew home with a promise to come back soon.

Then I walked into my office and realized my computer is a roast beef sandwich.






Because we each have to find our own way...
The Wayward Gifted: Broken Point

A coming of age story loaded with angst & adventure
For adolescents through adults.

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Donna and Mike
The Wayward Gifted - Broken Point