Last Wednesday, we headed for Denver for Richard's fifth Avastin infusion. My laptop screen had been intermittently acting up, so knowing we'd be in Denver, I made an appointment at the Apple Store there.
Naturally, the screen behaved perfectly that day. But when I described the problem to the Genius Bar guy, he frowned.
He asked me a few questions, played with a few settings, and then said it was one of two things; both were serious enough that it should be repaired immediately. Which meant my only computer would be headed for an unscheduled "vacation" at Apple repair.
He checked to make sure I'd backed it up–"Of course," I said, "That's not just my writing you're holding, it's my life!" He laughed, assured me it would be back in five to seven days, and would be shipped directly to me. I signed the form he held out, and then watched in shock as he carried my computer away.
As I drove Richard and me over to the VA Hospital, I realized that while I had backed up my laptop, I still wasn't prepared. I was lucky enough to have an iPad, but I hadn't yet learned how to use it. How would I manage email, blogging, Facebook and Twitter? How would I post my daily haiku and photo, not to mention working on the current book proposal?
I tried not to panic, but honestly, my laptop is more than just a computer: it's my electronic writing tablet and connection to the wider information-world; my creativity tool and filing system ,and the repository of all of my recent writing), photos, and correspondence, not to mention my contacts and my calendar…
On Thursday, while Richard rested at the infusion center with an IV in his arm through the two-and-a-half-hour infusion process, including delivery of a liter of saline solution (to flush his kidneys), two bags of pre-infusion drugs, and then the bag of Avastin itself, along with another liter of saline, I got out my iPad and pecked away at its virtual keyboard, learning how to use it.
Then I set up email and figured out how that worked. (Of course, the VA Hospital doesn't have access to the internet, so all my figuring was only theoretical at that point.)
Yesterday I got back to work. And found that I could indeed become competent enough at the iPad's virtual keyboard to catch up on my journaling, answer emails and communicate on Facebook, perhaps not nimbly, but well enough.
What's most interesting though, is that using the iPad is different enough that I can see the bad writing habits I've acquired. With my laptop, it's much too easy to get stuck on a thought and instead of just sitting and thinking, I check my email. Or look at the news, or visit Facebook or Twitter, or read the weather forecast, or… anything but write.
Between now and the time my laptop returns healed and rested, I've resolved to change those habits. If I need distraction, I'm not going to head to the internet or email. I'll head outside instead, into our garden with its view of the peaks over town. I'll listen to the birds, feel the sun on my face, and smell a flower or two. And then I'll go back inside and write.
Don't get me wrong–I love "talking" to all of you via this digital ether, and I'm not going to go silent. I feel fortunate to have your companionship on this difficult journey with Richard's brain cancer. But in order to keep my sanity, I need to focus on writing in the chunks of time when I'm not focusing on taking care of the guy I love. So if you hear from me less frequently, don't worry. It just means I'm doing a better job of taking care of me, too. I'm writing.
On that guy I love: He's feeling pretty good, if not terribly energetic. Still, he does yoga with me every morning, and he meditates and gets on his ski machine everyday. This afternoon, he even got out his juggling balls and practiced for a while. That's a good sign, I think. Fingers crossed, hearts outstretched, on we go…