Last November, I traded in my dinosaur Dell (bought in 2004) for a MacBook. The Dell got my husband through his MBA program brilliantly, and for a year or so of my writing classes, it chugged along, dutifully saving hundreds of pages of notes, manuscript drafts, and digitally recorded interviews.
But last summer, shortly after I returned from my second Goucher residency, Dell started acting out. He was scarily slow to wake up from his sleep-mode, sometimes requiring that I jump-start him by unplugging everything and popping the battery out for restart. Upon restart, he would get stuck on the start-up page and linger there so long that I would have to do the unplugging/battering popping thing all over again. Since I was nearing the end of my MFA program and I had tons of precious data stored on Dell, I was very, very concerned.
Enter Mac. We bought her for a steal, and life in my writing world immediately improved. Mac was sleeker and lighter than Dell, that was for sure, but also cooler, infinitely cooler, and I think this somehow began to improve my writing. Since last November, I have begun carrying her with me everywhere. I have not named her – she’s still just Mac, maybe Mary Mac if you want to get technical (after the Atlanta tea room) – but the time we have spent together must be something close to what a mother experiences with a newborn. If I am not away from the house (without MM), I am with Mac.
This poses a bit of a social and relational risk (not to mention an intellectual one). In our household, we do not watch TV. We’re not trying to be high and mighty about it – we’re just too cheap to pay for cable and we don’t really think there’s anything worth watching (except for Lost, for which rabbit ears on top of the RCA suffice). But, what I’ve found is that the Mac (or any quick, new internet-enabled laptop, I’m sure) is addictive. There are always emails to check, iTunes to download, Braves, Mets and Phillies scores to analyze. There are things on eBay to bid for and books on Amazon to buy. Not that I have time to read the books I purchase … because there’s always something faster, cooler, and more entertaining to look at on Mac.
Which brings me to one slight diversion – a recent poll shows that the number of readers in the U.S. are dropping. It’s a pretty depressing article, but, if you happen to be addicted to your computer, like I am, it may just irritate you enough to turn the darn thing off and pick up a good old-fashioned paperback:
I was mildly reassured that this article could be found on CNN’s front page in the first place.
Anyway, slowly, I am going to try to wean myself from this crazy relationship with the computer. Staring at her, at all hours, has become a way of life for me. Starting this week, after 8 pm, Mac will be going to sleep. (Doesn’t every little member of the family need a scheduled bed time?)
We can fill our downtime with conversation or good books (I’m currently reading The Gay Talese Reader, and it is fabulous.). We can finally get around to writing all the thank you notes we owe for birthday and graduation gifts. We can do all the things we did before Mac and the graduate schools came into our lives … if we can remember what they were.