Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Short circuiting

I got my first home computer way back in 1989. It was a Tandy from Radio Shack (not the one pictured here, but close) and I thought it was one of the most amazing things I'd ever owned in my life. I did all the tutorials that came with it ... and there were a lot of them. There was also a program that allowed me to connect to something called the Internet, whatever THAT meant. But it also allowed me to set up an electronic mail account, which enabled me to talk almost immediately to others who had these electronic mail accounts, too. No more waiting days or weeks to hear from friends. How completely cool was that?!

It seems like it wasn't long though and an upgrade was needed. This time I went to a computer store where they made the machine to my specifications. And so began the regular upgrades. I think we've gone through probably a dozen or more computers during the last 20+ years. Even had an iMac in there, which I loved, but the rest have been PCs.

Then came the cell phones. My dad had a mobile phone when I was probably an early teenager and, honest to god, that thing was like the phone Radar used on the TV series M*A*S*H. It was huge! One of my first cell phones was the Motorola i50sx with the Nextel direct connect. How totally awesome! I could talk to anyone at any time. I could even talk while I was driving down the road or in the store.

Of course as I write this on my laptop on the front porch with my wi-fi, snagging photos from the gazillion available by just typing a few words in a Google search, I gotta say all this convenience comes at a price. Not just the money either.

Don't get me wrong, I lovelovelove all the techy stuff. Hell, I'm an e-published author and proud of it. Those books were written on the virtual page and submitted via e-mail. I enjoy my Pandigital Novel e-reader and my Blackberry Tour. I have thousands of photos in Picasa 3, as well as backed up on a 1 TB external harddrive, that chronicle the lives of my family, especially my kids and grandkids. (Does anyone actually print photos anymore?)

There's TVs, iPods, DVD players, video game systems, and toys that just seem to make noise because everything has to make noise anymore. (I had a flash of the Grinch as I typed that:  That's one thing I hate! All the noise, noise, noise, noise!) I don't hate noise per se, what I'm getting sick of is the constant connection with everyone and everything. Like the Blackberry. That little device is almost never more than arm's length from me.

And because it's a smartphone that means the internet and all the distractions that come with it are always right there, too. Myspace. LinkedIn. Facebook. Blogs. E-mails. Goodreads. Twitter. And the lists go on and on and on. It's too much. Not only do you have to keep up on your own pages and profiles, it's just common courtesy to keep up with everyone else's as well. [shaking my head] I've decided I'm not doing it anymore.

There are some things that are simply required when maintaining a professional persona in today's market. For me, this is "Rosemary Gunn," my pen name. Having a Web site, blog, and e-mail are the minimum requirements nowadays. Myspace and LinkedIn got the ax quite a while ago. Up until a few weeks ago though, I had a personal Facebook profile, as well as an author profile. Then I deactivated the author profile and created an actual page. Then I just got fed up with the whole lot of Facebook madness and permanently deleted everything. Good riddance.

Then I got to thinking:  What if I fall off the grid? If I'm not "out there" networking socially with hundreds of people that I've never met and probably never will, what will become of me? When I mulled this tenative question around in the quiet of my mind, the answer that came back to me was this:  I will be right where I've always been. The words that flow from my mind to the keyboard to the page will continue to come whether I'm on Facecrack or tweeting at the top of my lungs. But I also discovered that they flow much easier when my brain isn't scattered in five, ten, and fifteen different directions trying to keep up with all the virtual Joneses out there. I simply can't do it. There are some very, very talented artists out there who seem to keep all these plates spinning effortlessly, while also cranking out book after book. That's awesome. Y'all inspired me to try to do it all.

But now it's back to my quiet, moderately plugged in existence. I like it here. I enjoy texting one on one, but I'm also getting reacquainted with the random telephone call to someone I haven't spoken with in a while -- using the land line rather than my cell, because the reception is just way better quality.

I love that all these different sites and apps are available ... so much that it feels like nothing gets done unless there's some form of post or status update. Life in 140 character bites or less is starting to short circuit my brain. They've been a lot of fun to play with over the years and, like I said, for a lot of people they can still manage to find the balance with their writing and other parts of life while maintaining all these online profiles.

I confess this is not the case for me. Lack of focus and attention span has gotten the best of me, so I bid farewell to the Facebook and Twitter. I deleted five e-mail accounts and a Myspace account that I forgot I even had. I also deleted literally YEARS of e-mails sitting in my All Mail boxes ... well over 10,000 in all. Why on earth was I saving these? It felt like a house was lifted off my shoulders.

Of course, I still have several e-mail accounts that must be maintained, but the number has literally been cut in half. Plus, there's texting. Not nearly as personal as a phone call, but it's one on one. It's time for me to find the balance again. That laid back comfort zone where my mind can settle and find the quiet.

For me that's writing my books, maintaining a nice Web site, and updating my blog regularly. (And I enjoy the Goodreads profile, too.) That works best for me. Hope you stop by often and visit.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

The trip of firsts

Last month I took a trip ... one that I lovingly referred to as my Trip of Firsts. It was to a little town in California to meet my wonderful friend, Jennifer, in person for the very first time. But what other firsts would happen during this trip?

Well, for one thing, I'd never gone anywhere (on my four previous non-stop flights and one helicopter ride) that required a connecting flight. So this trip doubled my times on a jet. Flying out, I connected in Dallas/Fort Worth. [shrug] Yes, I only saw the inside of the terminal briefly, but I'd never been to Texas ... and now I have. (Same goes for the return trip ... landed in Chicago. ) From Dallas, I flew into San Jose, California. During this flight I may have actually seen a portion of the Grand Canyon. I'm not really sure, but it was a HUGE hole (crack? opening? whatever it was, it was big!) way down there and I was impressed regardless.

Jennifer and I have been corresponding via email, snail mail, and phone for nearly four years, but of course, I'd never actually seen her in person. As I exited the terminals in San Jose, I knew her. I started waving at her and her hubby, Ole, as soon as I saw them. We smiled and made our way to each other, and then I hugged my friend for the very first time. (We've shared many, many virtual hugs [aka *hugs*] and those are wonderful if that's all you can give at that time, but the memory of the real hugs shared during that week make my heart truly smile.) I felt welcomed from the very first moment.

The Santa Cruz Boardwalk was a lovely and enchanted place to visit! There were all sorts of rides and games and people! Jennifer and I had our photo taken in one of those little booths! Loved it. The sea lions by the wharf were loud and lazy. There were wonderful thrift shops filled with all sorts of things. I simply loved it. I don't recall ever having been beneath a wharf, so I will say that was another first. And up until that very day, I know my feet had never touched the waters of the Pacific. Another first.

We spent a beautiful day with Jennifer's mom and took in the sites of Carmel and Point Lobos. Amazing! But my favorite part of that day was simply listening to the lovely cadence of "Mom" as she spoke with her soft, elegant British accent. I told her I could just listen to her talk all day long.

Another day, we walked the streets of San Francisco and ate lunch at a retro-type diner called Lori's. Delicious food and just a fun atmosphere to eat it in, too. Then we wandered around The City, up and down the hills for which the city is famous. We even rode the Bay Area Rapid Transit (aka BART) ... another first.

And just in case San Francisco didn't do in my leg muscles, the next day we walked through the enormous redwood trees of the Henry Cowell State Park! Oh. My. GOD! It was another incredible day! We walked the steep hills to reach the outlook, then ate the lunch Jennifer carried on her back for us. LOL! Those simple sandwiches tasted like 5-star restaurant cuisine after that workout. But we did it!  

There were so many things that I loved about this trip that it's very difficult to narrow them down to several paragraphs. The long talks with my beautiful friend. Laughing. Being silly together. Taking walks. Having the cat, CT (aka Crooked Tail), find a comfortable spot on my stomach during the nightly movie. Talking. Talking. Talking.

Many wonderful memories were made that week. I thank Jennifer and Ole for welcoming me into their home and for making it an unforgettable trip of firsts. [sigh] I wanna go back.

<<<  I know this one cuts out part of my face (y'all know what my smiling mouth looks like anyway!), but I simply love the expressions on Jennifer and Ole's faces ... so I'm including it. Miss you both!