Do You Remember?

Do you remember the first car you drove that had the high beam switch on the steering wheel column instead of on the floor? Everyone wanted a new car so you no longer had the dilemma of which to do first – step on the brake or depress the clutch, or dim the headlights.

Do you remember the first television remote? How it came with a cord that plugged into the TV? You didn’t have to get up to change channels anymore, but you had to sit on the carpet in the middle of the living room floor because you only had the length of that cord to work with. Everyone had to buy new televisions that had holes to plug remotes into.

Do you remember when VCRs came out? You could rent movies and keep them a few days. Everyone had to buy VCR machines and new televisions that were compatible.

Do you remember when Hi-Fi stereos came out and how everyone had to buy new record payers and albums that were 33 1/3 speed instead of 75s? Or when 45s came out and everyone had to buy those little yellow plastic centers so the 45 would play on the record player? Oh, the grand day when those hard plastic pieces came out that allowed you to play a stack of 45s!

Do you remember when 8-track tapes came out? How you had to buy all your favorite albums again, in 8-track format. Plus the player. Plus a new radio for the car.

Do you remember when cassette tapes came out? How they were so much more compact than 8-tracks. How you could now record your favorite song off the radio. Everyone had to buy their favorite albums again in the new format.

And then CDs came out.

And then digital came out.

And then Kindle appeared.

Little did we know, back in the days of high beam switches on the floor, that we, as a society, were being trained to not just buy the next new thing, but to buy all the paraphernalia necessary to operate the next new thing.

Little did we know that we were being trained to become a throw-away society, and that repairmen were a thing of the past. That one day it would become cheaper to buy new than to fix.

Little did we know that we were being trained to forget how to exist without all the fancy new things. How to light a room without electricity. How to cook without an electric or gas stove. How to have warm scarves and mittens for winter without buying them.

An Amish man once told me that he had nothing against modern conveniences. He just didn’t like not knowing how to live without them.

I wonder what new technological advance is on the horizon, and what it will cause us to forget.

If I Had A Photograph

Remember that Flock of Seagulls song? ‘If I had a photograph of you I wouldn’t spend my time just wishing…’

When I was young we bought a roll of film, took photos, and paid to have it developed. If you were lucky one or two turned out and the rest were tossed.

Then we spent money on photo albums. You’d peel back the thick plastic and carefully place your photo on the sticky cardboard and cover them back up with that plastic that froze in wrinkles for all eternity.

Then came digital, and how that changed everything. No more rolls of film unless you were a professional photographer or purist. No more development costs. The ability to delete all the embarrassingly bad photos.

And the ability to archive thousands and thousands of pictures on your computer, on the Cloud, even on your smart phone.

Until you accidentally delete all the photos you took from your trip overseas in July.

Until you remember that you didn’t back up the computer after downloading all those photos.

Until you realize that not only are all those photos gone, but also you’ve somehow lost the whole entire photo program on your computer.

Oops.

I’m reminding myself that things are just things. Photos are gone, but memories remain.

I am going to take the computer in to a repair expert though.

And if anything can be salvaged, I think I’ll print out photos and see if anyone still sells old sticky albums where pictures can be stuck safe for years.

Maybe.

Because all of this has also made me think about the people in California who lost their homes to the recent fires.

How quickly everything can be lost.

There is no backing up a whole house. There are no saving heirlooms and mementos to the Cloud. There is no shoving your child’s first report card onto a thumb drive, or the quilt your great-grandmother made. Emergency Services might bring you blankets, but it won’t be that quilt.

I’m thankful that all I’ve lost are some photos, and I ache for those who have lost everything, in so many ways.

The ‘Soliloquies Of A Goldfish’ Blog

When my son was little, he loved everyone. Each person that crossed his path deserved a huge hug as he pronounced his full name. Anyone he was introduced to, became a fast friend within moments.

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Arthur and his best friend, Abby

I used to dread the day when he realized that not everyone loved him in return, that not everyone could be trusted, that not everyone would be his friend. I wanted him to retain that simple belief in the goodness of people for as long as he could.

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Arthur and his still-best-friend Rowan

These days, of course, social media has redefined the word ‘friend’.

‘In my day’ (a phrase I never thought I’d be old enough to use) we had pen pals that we sent letters to. A much slower process than accepting a friend request by hitting a key on the computer. Now, instead of our pen pals existing on paper, with distinctive handwriting, and if you were lucky, a photo, our pen pals exist on a screen, with their lives displayed in high-digital clarity.

But here’s the thing. I kind of feel like I’ve turned into my son.

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Arthur and best friend (and aunt)

Putting myself out there publicly is necessary as a writer, but it comes with risks. It also comes with friends. I have met so many wonderful people. Both in the real world through writing events, and online through this blog, social media, editing jobs, and emails.

With WordPress, when someone new follows your blog, you get a short notice that links to that person’s blog. And sometimes WordPress will suggest a site you might like.

That’s how I’ve met other artists, including artist Jaime Haney, Bear’s Photography in Cornwall, writers, herbalists such as Whispering Earth, and many more. Typically the name of the blog catches my eye and that’s what makes me click on a link.

Today, I noticed that I have a new follower and she has a blog called ‘Soliloquies Of A Goldfish’. I couldn’t resist that name and clicked on the link. I read her ‘about’ page and found myself grinning at her great sense of humor. I read her short story Olivia and was impressed by the deeper layers and multiple meanings within the short story, and how she had a fully developed character in a short piece. And this is a young woman still in school. Wish I wrote half that well when I was her age. I wanted to jump up and wave and yell ‘Hi! Let’s talk writing!’

I suddenly realized that…hmmm…maybe my son inherited that trait of hugging everyone and making immediate new friends from my husband.

The internet has a lot to answer for, but it also is responsible for broadening our horizons, not just in meeting new people, but in finding art, in the easy access to learning, and in putting the world right at our typing fingertips.

I look forward to the next person I ‘meet’. In the meantime, look up Soliloquies Of A Goldfish and read some short stories by a talented young writer.

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