Embracing the E-World, With Panic
Drag me kicking and screaming to the latest electronic devices and I obviously want nothing to do with them. My cell phone is the dumbest one I can find, is smarter than I am, and has functions I’ll never use.
Writing on paper, any paper, even a brown bag, with a soft lead pencil gives me satisfaction in the depths of my soul. I like the texture, the drag-scritch of the lead across the surface, the drag tracks the pencil leaves in its wake.
Having said that, I confess, the only pencil to paper I use these days is notes to self, reminders on the fridge and grocery lists. Once I began composing, cold turkey, at the computer, arranging my thoughts to fill the pages soon became second nature. Writing on an electronic document is easier, neater and saves trees.
The one area that I knew I would hold out forever, just knew in my bones, is books. I love books. I like the heft in my hands, the visceral feel of paper on my fingertips. I like to dawdle over the cover illustration, the table of contents, the introduction. When I read a particularly pungent passage, years later I can remember where it is located on the page, left side or right side. I read books with my entire being.
However, after nine months in a tourist town reading beach trash left in hotel rooms, sold to the second hand book store by maids, I needed something with meat. So the first thing I did when I landed at my daughter’s home in Glendive, is order an e-reader, a simple reader. It doesn't send email, take pictures, bombard me with world news, make dinner or walk the dog. With my new gadget, I reasoned, I would have thousands of books at my fingertips.
I began buying books before the device arrived. Well, two in particular, favorite authors whose latest had not been left on any second-hand shelf I’d visited. Literary fiction takes longer to cycle.
A word of advice. When you browse through “free” books, be careful; there is a lot of gorp out there. On the plus side, I can delete an unwanted book without the guilt associated with throwing a book, somebody’s blood, sweat and tears, tastefully wrapped in lettuce leaves so the book police won’t detect my crime, into the garbage can.
I left a small stack of books I’d bought at Goodwill with my daughter and boarded the plane. I ran out of money and had to cut short my intended stay in Montana. I’ll be back soon—have to renew my driver’s license and visit my friends I missed this go-round.
About my third day back, I was sitting at a table at Reuben and Silvia’s Lunchera on the corner, visiting with eight-year old Victoria. She is learning English and I am learning Spanish, so we are a good fit. While showing Victoria the functions of my e-book, it froze up. Quit working. (It might be, just might be, that Victoria tapped ‘page back’ at the same time I tapped ‘page forward’. Just saying.) First thought—must be the battery. So I brought it inside and plugged it in. Nada. Second thought—pure unadulterated out-and-out panic. I must have, can’t do without, have to have my essential to my life, e-reader.
Such was my sense of out of-control panic that I didn't think to research problems and solutions. No, I did what any panicked Mom would do; called my daughter. “What will I do? Will I have to buy a new one? I cannot function without my books. What if all my books are lost?”
When my girl picked herself off the floor and quit hee-hawing in my ear, she did what any sensible person would do. She consulted the oracle, her computer. “Try this, Mom. Plug it in and when the battery light shows green, press the ‘on’ button for twenty seconds. It is probably a power surge or something like that.”
Hallelujah. My joy knows no bounds. Way out of proportion to the problem, I know. But I’m a reader. I love books. I devour books. I’m quite fond of my new electronic device which allows me to bypass beach dreck and read only what I want to read, to read unlimited miles and miles of books.
I conclude: “It is very dangerous to get caught without something to read.” (Quote from “The Last Night at the Ritz” by Elizabeth Savage.)
HDN: Looking out my back door
September 4, 2014