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Change of Life

by Adrienne Cannon

Maybe its because my 71st birthday has just passed that I find myself analyzing my conversations more, looking to spot thinking that might label me as not current.

I have reached a number that, in my younger years, seemed to be an impossible age at which one could continue to be active and mentally alert. But I still feel 'with it' and take pride in my ability to comprehend our current world — even my digitally complicated TV, cell phone, ipod, and the all important computer, a frequently mysterious and cantankerous friend. In fact I am writing this on my birthday computer that is touted as being friendly. My introduction to its wonders is not going well and I ask myself: is this a birthday present that one is supposed to enjoy, or is it a self-inflicted torture in the name of staying current?

It used to be that my closest friend and I would talk about health problems that seemed to be sneaking up on us. There was that all important issue of hormone therapy that we finally have conquered. Then our joints began to ache. So we compared notes on the human anatomy and which muscles and ligaments might be involved. We spoke about massages, anti-inflammatories, health food, vitamins and exercise. Slowly the topic of our conversations mutated from discussions about parenting, about our mutual passion for writing and an occasional lengthy analysis of the current political scene to ... sigh ... how to manage our computer!

Has this digital marvel taken over our lives? Last night I spent at least 30 minutes (maybe more) on the phone talking to my friend about our computers — hers (a PC) and mine (a Mac). We compared our experiences: how do we back up our memory? Do we have enough RAM memory to open a number of applications at the same time? How do routers work and why wont mine send the signal that will make my house wireless? Wireless? Like Starbucks? How cool can you get?

Another day I complain that I cant get into Photoshop to find my photos and all the work I have done on them. Why, she asks me, does her Kindle display her own book improperly when every one elses reads just fine? Why, I ask her, does she spend time on the Facebook site. Todays paper says they can steal personal information from that site. Why, we dont even know who they are!

Enough, we say! Time to go back to what really matters. We turn our attention to politics and the international news concerning troop withdrawal from Iraq (yes, and as always we slip in a mention of that ever newsworthy Sarah Palin). But it is not long before we are back to computerese: if Newsweek can be found on-line, then maybe I will drop my subscription. Which is a better backup in cyberspace, on DVD discs, on a separate hard drive? And eventually we bring up, as always, the repeated expression of our greatest fear: our computer will crash and take with it all of our photos, our financial records and worse, all of our writing that we have spent years creating.

Come on, now. Stop complaining about devices that have truly changed your life, I chide myself. What would I be doing if I did not have my brand new computer to write on and my beloved iPod to listen to? Isnt making changes in my life style part of not getting old and out of sync with the contemporary social scene?

I can still cherish and enjoy the many things that remain constant — daily conversations with my friend about our frustrations as we try to cope with the fast moving world that swirls about us, our writing, our families financial worries. But now we can write using spell-check and make quick and easy printouts of each version of our work as we create it, surf the web about any new ailment or trend, capture and print out those family photos, even calculate and conduct on-line financial dealings with ease. We can read headlines and viewpoints from multiple newspapers with a just a couple of clicks.

Come to think of it, though fast-paced and sometimes incomprehensible, I think I can embrace my life these days with pleasure. And modern woman that I am, I should start looking ahead at more changes that are sure to come. I am already contemplating what I will request for my next birthday — an IPhone or satellite radio reception in my car?

©Adrienne Cannon for


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