Getting Along Fine Without It

      by Earnest Long

Getting Along Fine Without It
Getting Along Fine Without It
By Earnest Long
Copyright 2017 Earnest Long
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Nothing like taking something out of the box or for a few hours doing so, finally seeing the screen, adjusting a few things so it prints, saying good-bye to your father who’ve you’ve spent more time doing something with today than for you had done for years, who finally leaves to your new computer, you feel exited and then deflated.
I do have a head start because I have used my father’s computer that has exactly the same software. But that was not my own and I only used it intermittently when visiting my parents.
My room can return now as it was with only the addition of a computer.
I switch off the screen for a second and take out a pad. On this, I make a note: 'Things to do with computer'.
I begin to write to it but switch the computer on again and type it in.
When I’ve finished I add in dates and seeing this looks clear I start another WP file and call it schedule and copy and paste between the two.
I think of what I have to do. And some of this can be done today even.
Next, I have a cup of tea.
My handwritten diary will be a good thing to type in. I consider adding to this my study notes but feel disheartened when this reminds me of the last time so long ago that I read them anyway.
After a few hours, I’ve typed up a few pages of diary and look at my work. Very nice, lovely headings, good graphics, all look good.
I take my handwritten diary notes but don’t have enough room on the desk for them. This really is not good enough. I open my file I mentioned before I write, 'Buy paper files' and to my schedule, I add 'Computer/paper filing system'. If however my diary is on computer, why do I need it on paper? This perplexes me and I have no solution for it.
Opening my spreadsheet program I look at what you would think was familiar if it didn’t look a little strange to me still. What should I type in? How about expenses, starting with this computer but then dad paid for it so whilst I consider phoning him up to ask it is not really my expense.
A few hours later, and a sense of familiarity is creeping in.
In a flash of inspiration however, I write on my pad 'computer' and next to it 'x hours'. I open a file, type this in, and then add, 'Wrote WP file, y hours'. Beneath that, I write 'spreadsheet, z hours'. On top of one column I write 'NAME' (I couldn’t think of anything better) and the other 'HRS'. ‘X, Y, Z,’ – they tell me how I spent the last few hours but then I wonder how any of this is different from my pad or a back of an envelope. Actually, I do feel it is different and it leaves me feeling a little dazzled. I look at the pad and then the screen; hold up my written notes so I can see them almost both together. Somehow, I can see myself in an old faded photograph of long ago, as if transported in a dream, a dream I had as an infant. Or someone I can’t see or hear is telling this same child some words of wisdom that sound like some muffled conversation of adults when he has gone to bed. There are muffled words and some sort of exclamations. This is though he does not really know the matter of which they speak. But this as if that could matter when he is not able quite to hear and does not rise from his bed to hover on the stairs and listen in like his brother did now he remembers wanted to know what they, his parents and grandparents were saying. His brother returns to bed after what seems to be an hour downstairs and says he was beaten, giving the detail that his father did the beating and not his grandfather who threatened him with the belt tomorrow. Yet looking at these figures on screen I sense that I have seen something, gone into the half-light of those stairs lit by the light from the front room and seen the shadows of the grown-ups on the grey floor of the hall. And sometimes in my wildest dreams, I hear some words clearly spoken as if intended for me. Then, there is laughter. It is a cynical, disparaging mirth. Now in my dream I am a teen, if these are dreams. I see a folded paper, symbols, words that have a meaning, a smile to greet me. And I cannot doubt that this smile is genuine. Though, by the passage of time, her words may not be so well remembered by me. Nor do her feelings change so quickly now. As a teen, I would walk in the park, talk to her, and not worry much as to future. Nor would I worry about what anyone expected of me or would want me to say. This is when you could just put words together. And in doing this, you could be with someone for an hour or two/ Then, I suppose you would talk. Words are symbols that stand for something else. To talk rubbish is not to realize the meaning of the symbol.
The computer tells me something as these figures, x and the rest do. Numbers tell a different story. When Lady Macbeth wrings her hands, we know she is in anguish, sleep walking, and her distress shows it bounds. Books have been written about numbers. Numbers are more precise, numbers mean things words can’t show and numbers inform words.
The ghost of my dream returns for I had supper and slept poorly since I typed in these numbers. Perhaps it was a dream of yesteryear, does not quite tell the truth, and does not exist in the bright light of day. Elation fills me.
What had passed on a day like this? What can I remember of the day and not the dark hours of night? Many hours I spent reading in my parent’s house on a summer evening, or when the sky was high, I had pulled the curtain to avoid the glare, when my mother told me to go out in the garden and enjoy summer whilst I could. Or the long winter’s evenings when I watched television and my father read the paper, these winter evenings that were not upon us yet this time of year.
The summer skies outside my window were fading slightly, the light had a dull, worn look to it, and my bed is smoothed exactly as it was at 9 am that morning, the towel from this morning's shower on the radiator. All was as I had left it. The view from my window was indifferent and I did not look out.
I wrote up my diary now, an inconsequential description of going to the shops that I must I though because I had typed have written more than once though I couldn’t find when I had mentioned exactly the same thing even going back through the pages since the start of the year.
I made another note “Diary, q hours” and planned a time that evening when I would type it up onto my spreadsheet.
Opening the WP package I made a table with rows for date, start time, end time and what I had done. I printed this off and wrote in the times on it from my notes, some of them I could not locate already and some periods of the day were not accounted for. I thought of a name for table and wrote it in along the top in capital letters: THINGS DONE. I transferred all that I could find that was not on spreadsheet and view my totals. ‘Writing Diary’ as I called my scribbling took less than hour, whilst typing diaries gave a different figure of a few hours. I wandered what I would do when I typed it up straight away but left it at that for now. Perhaps writing a diary is different and typing my handwritten notes would be outdated. I edited the table and added a column for ‘things to do’. And I wrote what I would do the next day, having as I did to print out two sheets to fill it in. Finding this unsatisfactory when I filled in my spreadsheet, I produced two files for each with differently labelled columns. After this, I again felt deflated.
“You asked for a computer,” my father said resignedly. “Now, make use of it.”
Really, I wanted this machine more than anything else I did right now. He had brought some paper, I could tell taken straight from his home and not even put in a wrapper.
“That’s your paper!” he exclaimed though I could not remember asking for any.
“Don’t waste it!"
He said this wearily as his parting remark.
I added, 'Don’t waste paper' to the things to do list. After that, I wrote “Chat, 4.15 pm, 5 pm” for the time he had stayed. I wasn’t sure ‘Chat’ was the right word.
Looking round for something to do, I read for a few hours until I could have my supper – the hour now being right for it.
Studying the next morning, I wrote up an essay on what I had learned and went to the park. I wrote when I got back as the chill of the evening was setting in ‘Park, 4pm, 6 pm’ and ‘Read paper, 7 pm, 8pm.’
Eating lunch with a friend, I asked her if she had a home computer. She replied politely that she had thought of doing so I nevertheless pursued the matter and asking her if she knew about computers. Receiving an answer in the affirmative, I asked her if she knew what I was describing.
“I know how a spreadsheet works.” was her only remark before I felt obliged to drop it.
For the rest we chatted about the stuff in the paper. After we finished we kissed affectionately for a few minutes. And I felt much better when I went back to my room than I had done on other occasions.
I picked up and read a novel for
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