My souvenir “themed” bracelet, purchased from a Biltmore gift shop. seemed inspired. Each time I clasped the darned thing onto my wrist, I surely might review our recent trip to Asheville, North Carolina, to tour Thomas Wolfe’s boyhood home or the spot where Zelda Fitzgerald burned to death in an asylum, as well as the Vanderbilt “castle”, ending with Carl Sandburg’s nearby Connemara home? Sadly, that tacky piece of costume jewelry remains tucked away because someone fashioned the vanity piece from disembodied typewriter keys. Also similarly hidden from view — somewhere within this house — one could ferret out, embarrassingly, the shell of a sea turtle and a pair of antlers. Ascribing to the sentiment that, for instance, elephants deserve to hang on to their tusks throughout their lifetimes, I am an enlightened and soft-hearted individual after all—and finally a vegan.
My fondness for typewriters commenced with attempts, as a grade school pest, to sneak a clickety-clack or two or three upon my mother’s cherry red diminutive Pilot Life Insurance “machine” and to whisk the roller to and fro — simply to delight in that tiny, high-pitched “DING”! She specialized in intense, formal letter-writing to her friends and shooed me away always. I graduated to my own portable ROYAL manual while in high school after having achieved the dubious mastery of some 31 words per minute under the tutelage of an insufferable instructor whose stopwatch and infernal pacing likened each class to a pressured, tense train ride “To Hell and Back”!
Thus, my Royal cranked out countless obligatory themes, several research papers, and whatever was assigned to and required of it. A practical little instrument, typos could be obliterated somewhat by a pencil shaped gizmo with a a coarse white eraser emerging from one end and a small brush on the other to remove the accumulated telltale eraser-boogers. Nothing romantic or intriguing. Just another form of a pen or quill or crayons duly recording “stuff”! When WE (Royal and I) matriculated at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, the same routine followed, variations being “we” composed an “Honors” thesis together, this time armed with supposedly erasable onion skin paper. Drippy, sniffable, bottled “White-Out” not yet invented, a smudgy discussion (with smudgier foot-notes and THE smudgiest bibliography) of the “polemic” playwright Henrik Ibsen rests in a trunk to this very day.
As a Language Arts instructor and College Reading prof, I typed innumerable tests. Once, I found myself saddled with United Way publicity for a season, and a Remington desk model purchased for eight bucks at a garage sale, across the street, became attached to my body throughout one entire autumn. My son qualified as salutatorian and national merit finalist which brought offers to our mailbox to the tune of perhaps a thousand a day all of which needed brainless filling out and filling in the rectangles with “Mickey Mouse” information, so I volunteered for the task. His offers of scholarships approached a grand total of a third of a million dollars. Not bad for a 31 WPM typist…AND mother of a genius son. He earned the grades…I attacked the blanks!
For the past six years, starting with a hand-me-down ten-year-old computer, I transferred my “flying fingers’ finesse” from a 1940 keyboard (I ignored electric typewriters altogether) to a battered, creaky, temperamental, awkward, very used cyberspace piece of… wizardry! And the fire started in earnest. Keenly discomforted by the way of the world, I found expression through letters to editors—often as many as three per week, in various Midwestern newspapers—and nationwide during the presidential campaign of 2007 through 2008. Soon, I began to write columns. Eventually, a spiffy Dell computer became my very best friend (dubbed “Johnny Cochran”) whom I could confide in and create with—e-mail left me cold. On-line banking seemed foolish. Gaming totally ludicrous. Ah, Facebook! Global communication involving a cross-section of humanity concerning important issues. I had arrived.
Thanks to entrepreneurs Mark Zuckerberg and those litigious-minded “twins”, I met David Ross and Kelly Huddleston and an endless stream of writers, artists, musicians, animal advocates, people my own age and younger and older, Australians, Africans, Romanians, Parisians, Italians, Canadians, men, women, talk show hosts, singers of songs, some controversial geese, and renewed some past friendships. So, here I am pouring thoughts, reminiscences, hopes, advice, puzzlement, and pleas for open communication among human beings, from my mind through my fingers clicking onto some jumbled up lettered keys. I feel positively Shavian in my bewilderment, since childhood, at the logic behind NOT attaching letters to keys in the order of our A,B,C all the way to ZED alphabet, the kindergarten sequence!
My entire life has been steeped in observation — watching, listening, admiring, questioning, problem-solving, wondering, hoping, reading, not speaking unless spoken to – and also existing in near reclusiveness as much as possible. However, I am not alone in appreciating all that the Internet offers and the possibilities for reaching toward others to share ideas and experiences. What is unique though is an unquenchable need to shout out loud via writing, to share what I have consistently believed throughout what now is classified as a rather lengthy life. Oscar Wilde’s not a fan of anyone’s desire to share biographical information, while Walt Whitman “celebrated” himself and “sang” himself, during the Civil War era, so that further generations might share an inter-connectedness with a fellow being who earlier experienced what this world had to offer and the commonality of being human.
I am one of countless “writer types” creating essays, stories, editorial turns, critiques and poetry–
You’ll find allusions of grandeur inside my compositions but never a hint of Ferlinghetti’s spaghetti!
Straightforward I proceed, except for those retrospective moments when I happily journey backward for some fun,
The entirety of this voyage suggested, encouraged, facilitated by a highly educated son (SUN).