Friday, March 5, 2010

Tools of the Trade

It's been over a month since my last confession...I mean entry (flashback to being a Catholic there) and my excuse is simple - I've just been too damn busy to get back here!

Ridiculous, isn't it?

After giving myself the gift of finishing my first draft I let myself get buried, once again, beneath the many layers of my life. I feel like a million tiny fingers are tugging at my skin; wanting, pulling, demanding, needing. It's exhausting.

It's also validating and rewarding, to some extent. These fingers belong to my teenage sons, my students, my family in England, my pets, my friends and yes, some of them belong to me.  These fingers remind me that I am surrounded by people who make my life worth waking up to. While some days feel heavier than others, some are brightened by surprises that leap out of the darkest of shadows.

One such surprise came last week, when my high school friend called to tell me she had found a house. After years of struggling to raise her three children in rented accommodations, she finally has a place she can count on. When she emailed me a link to the realtor's virtual tour I found myself surfing around the rooms of her new home. It was magical! I felt like I was there, walking through those wonderful rooms, right beside her.

It doesn't matter that she lives on the other side of the Atlantic. I've seen her new place and it rocks!

A second ray of light came in the form of a phone call from another high school friend. She wants to come and visit me in July. As I've not seen her in over 6, maybe 7 years, that's absolutely fabulous news. I'm so glad we refused listen to those god-fearing teachers who said our friendship was "a terrible thing" because we got busted for writing notes to each other in French class.

Okay, so there were a few creative comments about our class mates. And perhaps we made a snide remark or two about the frustrated old prune that was our headmistress. But nothing we wrote at age twelve was bad enough to dedicate an entire assembly to shaming us publicly for our "wicked words".

I like to blame Ms H. for my writer's block, on occasion, although I don't believe that our "evil notes" really had the power to condemn our souls into eternal damnation. Nor do I believe that it was necessary for Ms H. to hurl our writing into the flames of the sanitary towel incinerator.

Wouldn't she just turn in her grave (she MUST be dead by now) to know that this friend, whom she thought was such a bad influence on me, is now the inspiration for one of the lead characters of my novel?

Okay, back to that novel. Well, I've been reading my first draft and it's a very interesting experience.

The characters feel so much more, what's the word? Full? I don't remember writing the words that gave them their color, their accents and my god, what attitudes! Who are these people? Where do their voices come from? It's so strange to listen to them chatting back and forth, to hear what they have to say about the world that we created, together.

Talk about flashbacks! I wonder if all that magic mushroom tea, from my university days, can be credited for opening up my mind enough to let these characters in? I'm sure they weren't always in there....

I didn't mean to digress so completely from the title of this entry - I bought a new lap top last month. Yep. Got an email from Staples advertising President's Day specials. So, in the spirit of honoring Obama's stimulus efforts, I invested in an HP Pavilion. I really wanted to buy a Mac, but that will have to wait for more affluent times. The HP is fine, for now.

Instead of rewriting my novel I've been learning how to use Windows 7 and discovering that Microsoft 7 is actually a very intuitive program that thinks very much like a Mac...I know, weird, isn't it? This new distraction was so delicious that I lost myself in online tutorials for days. I also spent endless hours copying all my files from my beloved, aging iBook to the HP.

Not to keep harping on the magic mushrooms, but I swear my iBook knew there was an intruder in the house because after 7 years of flawless service it started freaking out the very day I bought the new lap top home. My screen began freezing then it refused to reboot altogether. I did the usual rescue routine: drew a couple of Reiki symbols over the keyboard, slapped the screen a few times, then yanked out the cord and the battery. That worked.

Now I have to spend 20 minutes convincing my iBook that I still think it's amazing before it will deign to boot up for me, then it lets me save a few files to my thumb drive before throwing another hissy fit. We seem to have fallen into a pretty workable routine. It just takes hours to accomplish what used to take seconds.

I don't think I'll ever have the heart to permanently unplug it...even if it does need an ethernet cable to get online.

Now if I could only figure out how to transfer my Quicktime version of "Here's to the Crazy Ones" Apple ad. from my iBook to the HP. The Mac to Pc files just won't translate and it was so easy to download it back in '97!

Hang on - I just found it on YouTube. If you haven't seen the ad here it is:
Think Different Apple Ad - Original version

It's such a great reminder that round pegs in square holes are good things...and that "the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."

Cheers to you, if you're crazy :-)