My laptop had a minor stroke. The brain seems to be fine, but the body experienced temporary and total paralysis of the touchpad. Fortunately, medical intervention (aka the reboot) restored all functions. Needless to say, this puts my machine at a higher risk for future health problems.
It’s kind of sad, but in reality when my laptop breaks down, I’m the one that becomes paralyzed. When I look back at what my life looked like ten years ago, this is pretty surprising. Look back fifteen years and it’s downright unbelievable.
Fifteen years ago I was twelve, and the family computer sat in our living room like an uninvited alien. For various reasons, it would have been optimistic to classify my family at that time as middle class, and it was only by luck that we had a computer at all.
My dad used to drive this guy Bill around: helped him get his groceries, laundry etc. I don’t remember what was wrong with Bill, I think he had some kind of throat cancer because he spoke with a raspy non-voice that sounded like he must be forcing out a yell to get out even that much whispered noise. Bill was a techy, he bought computers even back when they were pretty useless and upgraded every six months or so. Sometimes, when he upgraded, he gave us his old machine, and that’s how we ended up with a computer.
The computer had black and white monitors, only black and white actually meant yellow text on navy blue. I didn’t have much use for it. Mom typed my papers in middle school because I wasn’t fast enough but I occasionally played the primitive computer games: Master of Mischief and Typing Tutor, or made ugly banners in the printing program.
Sometime in high school we finally got a computer that resembled the ones we use today. I could use Netscape to go online, and I used my dad’s email account on the rare occasion that I actually needed to talk to anyone. Mostly I used the computer to read random fan fiction. I think it’s college that changed everything.
I got a computer of my own for college. My highschool boyfriend helped me “build” it on the Dell site, and I was skeptical when he convinced me to get the 6 gig harddrive instead of the 2. I couldn’t imagine ever using that kind of space. I went to the University of Notre Dame, 2000 miles away from home, and suddenly the communication possibilities of a computer were far more important. In high school, I barely passed the minimum 30 word/minute typing tests, but after a few months on ICQ, and later AIM, I could type 60 words/minute easily. I don’t even know how quickly I type now, but it’s far faster than I can write.
My parents called me on the dorm phone once a week, and I hated it. It wasn’t my parents, it was phones. I’ve never liked speaking on the phone. It still makes me nervous. They wanted to get me a cell phone and I resisted; the idea of anyone being able to contact me at any time made my skin crawl. Then I got stuck in an airport sophomore year. My phonecard ran out of minutes and the payphones didn’t work all that well anyway. I ended up sleeping there. It was a long night. My parents finally got me a cell phone in spite of my objections.
I left the phone off, a pre-recorded voicemail message, for over a year. I kept the phone for emergencies and used it to call my parents when I needed to because it was cheaper and easier than using the dorm phones. Somehow, I started to use the phone slowly, more often, in spite of myself, and when I lost my phone shortly before graduation, I realized I was totally helpless. Now I haven’t had a land line for two years. A few years ago my husband (then boyfriend) shared a statistic that people between the ages of 18 and 25 were more likely to leave the house without their wallet than without their phone, and I had to admit to being a statistic.
My laptop is a cheap battered Acer, which has put up with my abuse for more than three years. For most of that time I have been shuttling myself between my condo and my boyfriend’s (now HUSBAND) apartment, between classes at Kent, Akron, Youngstown and downtown Cleveland, from friend’s houses to coffee shops. A laptop wasn’t a luxury, it was a necessity. My still surprisingly up to date desktop computer is pretty useless if I’m never home.
Now though, I don’t have any classes, I don’t even have a job, and I live with my husband in one location so a desktop really ought to be sufficient.
It’s not though. I’ve gotten so used to being portable that the idea of being stuck in one place is frightening. Right now I’m saving my money for an iphone, because of how much easier it will make my life. I have an 8 gig nano, and I sometimes wish it had more space. Every once in a while I lament not having a devise where I can jot down my ideas, make lists, keep track of my calendar, and Matt suggests this amazing new invention: the notepad. I just look at him like he’s crazy. I suspect I’ll forget how to write by the time I’m forty.
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