What You Don’t Notice

When I used to do writing workshops, one of my favorite exercises was to ask people to look at the room around them and name ten things that they thought no one else would notice.  This made everyone look very hard and also eliminate the obvious things like the pattern of the carpet or the texture of the desktops.

We’re not in a meeting room, so we’ll have to do this a bit differently.  We are all sitting in front of some kind of screen that has a keyboard or keypad.  Our fingers are close by, doing the typing.  Our eyes are reading.  Our rear ends are all in some sort of chair or sofa.

Name ten things about your current involvement in this computer interaction that you don’t think anyone else will think to mention.  What do you notice that we don’t?

33 responses to “What You Don’t Notice

  1. Ten things about my computer involvement

    The first of these are tools that I use to run my daily life, computerwise and otherwise. Since, like most of you, I have my laptop, ipad and iphone linked, whatever goes into one shows up in the other. I always have my phone with me….doesn’t everyone?

    I send myself lots of emails… groceries I need, appointments to remember, sizes or style numbers of something I saw in the paper and want to look at when I go to that shop.

    I use my address book as a repository for my passwords. Entries may look like this
    Ann Lindquist blog
    Annlindquist.com
    p/w g…k.
    Don’t have her phone number yet!
    The dots represent letters or numbers that I know, but I don’t think it would be easy for anyone else to figure them out.

    My dog understands computerese. When I close the lid to my ipad she knows it’s bedtime and heads to her puppy place.

    My husband and I email to one another all the time. Since we’re often on opposite sides of town all day, and he’s very hard of hearing, email is easier.
    Would you please pick up a bottle of Red Diamond on your way home, dear?

    This isn’t unusual, but I spend lots of time researching medical issues. As we get older and develop more creaks and groans, we need to become our own advocate. Doctors and pharmacists do make mistakes, and we need to stay on top of the things they order. Actually, I’m a research junkie, about anything and everything.

    Genealogical research is like salted peanuts…just can’t quit once I get started. When I first began about twenty years ago, I put my maternal grandmother’s name on an ancestry.com query board. I woman emailed me suggesting we might be related, and after a few more exchanges, she asked if I’d like her to send me a gedcom. I didn’t have any idea what that was, but I said yes. She sent 30 pages of immediate family history, dating back into the early 1800s. At this point, it’s into the 1600s. There’s some juicy stuff there, not just names and dates.

    I’ve started a blog, and encourage anyone who is serious about writing to do the same. There’s nothing like seeing your pieces prettily displayed on a well laid out page to make you want to write more. Witness the success of this blog.

    I had a pc until 2007, and could do anything with it, even troubleshoot problems that cropped up. Then I needed a new one, and went for a Macbookpro at the nagging of a friend. It was supposed to be far superior with photos. I’m still trying to figure that out. I used to put hair on bald heads…cain’t no mo!

    I communicate with a bunch of very interesting folks who have recently come into my life. It never ceases to amaze me how much they’ve added there.

    I’ve discovered creative writing. Need I say more?

    • Can’t believe I wrote 500 words about this! Sorry Ann.

      • Cheryl aka Shaddy

        Ann loves it when we get carried away with our words…she loves billowing sails.

    • Meggie you really, really, really wrote a good piece about this exercise. Love it. Hope you get many of your stories posted in your blog.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      I like the way you interpreted this writing prompt. I can’t imagine life without computers. I don’t even want to think about it. The internet has it’s negative aspects as does everything, but it has allowed people from all parts of the world to connect in a myriad of ways. I began seriously (if I can call it that) writing with Ann’s BWW in 2006. I think I appreciate this new adventure more because it came at a time in my life when I could throw myself into it wholeheartedly. You seem to be discovering this most wonderful creative outlet at a perfect time in your life. Ride the wave, my friend!!!

  2. Hmm! Ten

    Right now my laptop is helping keep me warm as we experience a seriously cold winter. I will also keep it handy as tornado season nears and use it for a flashlight in the basement when the lights go off. Helps me keep track of my family on a personal family web site. No public Facebook for this family. My companion laptop stores about 3000 photographs. As I sit with my life partner/wife I can open the computer and pretend I’m busy. Just in case I don’t want to talk or watch the same TV program she is watching. The silver Mac has a nice hard lid I can write on, but I seldom make a note on real paper. Most folks can’t read my handwriting anyway. I have also used it to rest a snack. It also becomes my music studio and a place to take a quick look at a John Stewart clip to give me a laugh and take me out of my depression. Do my banking, make restaurant reservations, doctors appointments, check my declining stock, and on and on. This is the face of the silver rectangle workplace.

    • G-Pa, you have just given my commuter a name. THE SILVER RECTANGLE. Is that impressive, or what?

      Loved your article, and understand what it’s like looking at life through the eyes of advancing age. I’m with Lando though, try to keep that D. word out of your thoughts. When it sneaks into your consciousness, tell it to $%^&!

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      We have the world by the tail when our laptop sits, well, on our laps. I like your way of using of your laptop as a tray table. Why not? I like using mine to fill in the gaps while watching television; all those commercials would be intolerable without it. Often, I’m disappointed when the show comes back on!!! My laptop is silver like yours, a brushed silver HP. I love, love, love my laptop when it’s working as it should. My heart stops when it does.

      Thanks, G-Pa, for sharing.

  3. G-Pa, Thumbs up on your story. The only thing I didn’t like was to read the word depression in it. Hope you delete this word from your computer and that it will never come back.

  4. Thanks guys. I’m really not depressed. But I will stay away from the D word. Love reading these stories.

  5. Interaction with my computer

    She came unexpected into my life
    As the wind comes into a garden
    Making the flowers dance their hula.

    She came dressed in black
    looking mysterious and enigmatic
    Making me feel an irresistible attraction to her.

    I took her in my hands
    And let my fingers free to caress her
    And feel her entire slim and smooth body.

    She allowed me to open her,
    Which I did gently and with delicacy
    As if I was handling a precious work of art.

    She looked simple to understand
    but I knew she was complicated
    Like a woman you meet for the first time.

    I found the spot that makes her come to life
    Press it softly and waited for a few seconds
    Until she came showing her bright colors.

    I knew that she had a lot to teach me
    About things that I will never learn
    But I was afraid to ask.

    It was not easy to initiate our interaction
    But finally, I took the initiative
    And asked her the first question.

    “What is your name” I asked
    “PC” was all she answered
    An easy name to remember, I thought.

    I will probably forget the first time we did it
    But I will never forget her name
    Which is contrary to what regularly happens.

    In any event, from that moment forward
    Our relationship has been growing
    And expanding in many different and interesting directions.

    Now, after many trials and errors situations
    We have found the positions we like best
    And we feel comfortable when we are together.

    I can say without doubts, that she had changed my life
    And that I will be lost without her
    I just hope that she thinks the same about me.

  6. Cheryl aka Shaddy

    Name ten things about your current involvement in this computer interaction that you don’t think anyone else will think to mention. What do you notice that we don’t?

    I’m not sure what you’re asking for, Ann. Ten things I notice about my current involvement in this computer interaction website of yours that I don’t think others will think to mention?

    Perhaps I should have a glass of wine or a bottle of beer or both and then come back here. Meegiemom, Lando and G-Pa seem to get it, but I’m sitting here all discombobulated.

  7. Cheryl aka Shaddy

    Here I go with my interpretation of this prompt. When I’m here, I notice:

    1. Most of the writers who are inspired here write boldly, with a wit, intelligence and cleverness that I can only watch in amazement as the words sail over my head.

    2. Writing turns us all inside out. I suspect that my friends here are often as surprised at what they’ve written as I am at my words. Ann’s prompts are keys to our souls.

    3. I sense Ann enjoys kicking off her shoes and putting her feet up on her coffee table before she comes here. She can throw off her instructor hat and savor the freedom that going hatless provides.

    4. The males here are no different from males everywhere. 90% of the time they’re thinking about the opposite sex. That’s not bad; I’d get nervous if they didn’t.

    5. Giving ourselves permission to write allows the inexhaustible fountain of ideas and thoughts within each of us to shoot higher than we have ever dreamed. (I give Ann’s BWW credit for this).

    6. My first thought when I read a new prompt is often, duh, what in the world?

    7. Writing satisfies all of us more than a big meal can.

    8. Ann doesn’t prompt us for any other reason than that she believes in the miracle of the written word and the joy that it invokes.

    9. Money can’t buy the good stuff. For instance, an encouraging word can thaw a frozen mind like nothing else.

    10. Birds of a feather flock together. Thanks for feeding us with premium birdseed, Ann.

    • Really good stuff, Cheryl. I agree that Ann’s BWW does great things for us as we struggle to put words to screen. If only she’d do a follow up course.
      And speaking of birds, that “stupid bird” that I suggested didn’t know that she needed to keep her eggs warm now has two tiny hummers, about two feet outside my sliding door. I’m getting a intimate look at nature in action.

    • Cheryl, you wrote some very truthful and interesting observations in your piece which I enjoyed reading.
      Regarding the first one; when you say that the writers here are writing with wit, intelligence and cleverness, you are leaving me out of the group for perhaps I have two of the qualifications but not the three of them.
      Regarding the third one: I don’t picture Ann kicking of her shoes and putting her feet up on her coffee table. I think that Ann is a very organized lady mentally and around the house. If she kicks her shoes off, she will take them to the closet and if she will never put her feet up on her coffee table without placing some sort of protection underneath to avoid damaging the table.
      Regarding the fourth one: how dare you telling me that 90% of my time is devoted to think about the opposite sex? I have never in my life used more than 85% of my time doing that. Well, Okay, perhaps 88%.
      And finally, I totally agree with your comments about Ann being the engine of the group and the one who feeds us with premium birdseed.
      Thanks Ann for your time and interest in our group.

      • OK Pal…I’m going out on a limb here so please pay attention. You are a fantastic story teller, so stop the pity party and just WRITE!
        Sorry to be so hard on you, Lando, but you have to use that God given talent and stop looking for excuses.
        Love you.
        Jeri

  8. I like the computer because watching pornography is easier than looking in my neighbor’s window. It is easy to access a variety of subversive groups online. I can stay in touch with Cuban refugees who offer a wide assortment of contraband. I tried to do my banking, I put a hood over my head and demanded money…but nothing. I really like all the dating sites; online dating keeps me tall, thin, and young.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      Waldo: Regarding your online activities, you write “I tried to do my banking, I put a hood over my head and demanded money…but nothing.”

      That’s a good one.

  9. The backs of my legs are stiff, sitting for an hour petrifies my glutius to the maximus. My fingers hover. Is it “which” or “that?” Dammit. I should know this/that by now. Frustration begins to settle. Some days the words flow; today my brain is molasses. Maybe I should just check my e-mail. I wonder if Miss Ngoikie Gwanke has received my reply. I really want to help her with her horde of Nigerian gold. Think she is pretty? Probably like those old national geographics that got me through puberty. Hmm. Where did I put April 1961. That was my favorite. I go to eBay, enter April 1961. Oh, yea, it was Playboy, April, 1961. Tame by today’s standards. My head flips a coin. Nude and tasteful or naked and wanton. I can justify either taste. Guess thats just me. Both sides of the coin at once. Maybe I shoulda been a politician. Dayam, too late. The elections for the county commissioners are over. It would be fun to spend days on the road grader. Boys with big toys and getting paid. I had a toy grader before those playboys. I search eBay. Holy shit! $255 fresh in the box. It sure was fun at the time running over it with my bicycle. I return to my draft. “Which” or “that?” My leg cramps.

    • Hilarious Jeff, you had me at glutius to the maximus. Yes, you shoulda been a politician.

    • Cheryl aka Shaddy

      “…petrifies my gluteus to the maximus.” Cute. That numb feeling, there ain’t nothing else like it, thank God.

      Problem: Which? that?…minor decisions that, or which, threaten to throw water on our creative fires. Solution: Grab an umbrella, make a choice and punch out a few more words.

      Problem: Leg cramps. Solution: A distraction, such as, Playboy, April, 1961.

    • Yes Jeff, I remember those National Geos also. Oh! the years of innocence, long gone but never forgotten. As usual and outstanding piece.

  10. Cheryl aka Shaddy

    Go back to Ann’s Now What? prompt page. Check out Jeff’s post.

  11. (Deeply immersed in writing about my trip to Africa, but I offer this to get back into the playground.)

    Ozymandias Revisited Redux
    An Answer, Finally

    In between the falsetto cries of the loons at Lower Summit Lake one night, I heard the mournful wail of a train. I stood up and looked around, wondering about its source.

    I was a good ways from any railroad tracks, with a dozen or more tall mountains in between, so the noise had to be coming from the little black car that had just zipped past on the highway. Don’t ask what kind of car. They all look the same anymore, unlike the cars of my youth when those of us who lusted after a car of our own and the freedom it promised, could rattle off the year, make and model of any vehicle at a glance. Anyway, it was a black car.

    Then, suddenly, in one of those shifts my brain is partial to, I knew the answer to a question I’ve been asked many times, and thus far had been unable to answer. “Where,” they ask, “do you get the ideas for your stories?” Of course, I thought. Loons on the lake and a train whistle where there are no trains. That’s it. That’s the answer.*
    ***
    Way back in the pre-Paleolithic Age when I was in high school, my English teacher passed out mimeographed pages of an assignment.
    Mimeograph, to those of you who haven’t yet discovered the wonders of Medicare and doctors who opt out of the penurious program, pre-dates Xerox photocopies and computer printers. It was a duplicating process used by teachers to mass produce lessons. The resulting pages were light purple in color and smelled of the alcohol used in the inking process. Legal sniffing, school-offered buzzes. It gave me headaches.

    Anyway, eventually the “take one, pass them back” pile of pages reached me, and I scanned the fuzzy printing to see what this quiz was all about. Her instructions were brief: compare and comment on the two poems.

    The first was “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley:

    I met a traveller from an antique land,
    Who said —“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
    Stand in the desert…Near them, on the sand,
    Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
    And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
    Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
    Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
    The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
    And on the pedestal these words appear
    My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
    Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
    Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
    The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

    The second, written by Morris Bishop, was titled, “Ozymandias Revisited.” The two poems were identical, except for the final lines in the last stanza of Bishop’s .

    They read:

    And on the pedestal these words appear
    “My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings,
    Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!”
    Also the names of Emory P. Gray,
    Mr. and Mrs. Dukes, and Oscar Baer
    Of 17 West 4th St., Oyster Bay.”

    I puzzled over the two poems. I didn’t appreciate poetry then, at age 15, and if I recall correctly, I took the writing quite literally and totally missed Shelley’s metaphor of mankind’s conceit, and the temporary nature of his institutions.

    Bishop’s was beyond me. I remember thinking thoughts along the line of “from the sublime to the prosaic.” Only a couple in the class “got it.”
    “It” was that Bishop’s last lines quoted the graffiti that visitors to the site of Ozymandias’ statue had written upon its base, and spoke eloquently of the need of humans to immortalize themselves.

    I have forgotten much in my lifetime, but that alcohol-reeking mimeographed page of sonnets lives forever. I was chagrined at being fooled by something that was so obvious once I was “clued in.”

    She gave us another unusual assignment, except this one was offered as subtly as possible. As she lectured away from her place at the blackboard (or greenboard as it were), a stranger entered the classroom and walked to the rear of the room, lingered a while, then left. I was torn between curiosity and listening to the teacher.

    After the stranger left, the teacher stopped her lecture.

    “Write a page,” she said, “about what you saw when that person entered the classroom.”

    Uh, oh, I thought. Damned if I do and damned if I don’t. Should I reveal as much as I had seen, and let the teacher know I hadn’t been paying attention to her? Or, should I tell all, showing off my powers of observation?

    I did both, jotting down some of the teacher’s words that I had paid attention to, and interspersing them with my observations of the stranger’s appearance, clothing, and actions. Plus, I offered various theories as to the stranger’s arrival, combining the whole into a short story with much imagination and creative license.

    Some things we are taught disappear as quickly as the instructor’s voice falls silent. Other lessons stay with us a lifetime. I don’t remember that teacher’s name right now, but I do remember her lessons.

    And therein are the answers to my friends’ questions. I look for the obvious, the apply-hand-smartly-to-the-forehead, I-could-have-had-a-V-8 obvious. Then again, I also watch for the quiet stranger who walks into the room, and listen for train whistles where there are no trains.

    • Welcome back, Miss Gully. Beautiful story. I don’t remember my teacher’s name either, but I remember how good she was in understanding her students and in giving advice in time of need.

  12. Welcome back, Gullie. I, too, have been AWOL, flattened by two huge sessions of students. But I still come here for recess. Great piece, BTW!

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