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COLUMN: Going through computer withdrawal no easy task

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By Joan Burke

My computer went belly up three days ago. I’ve had to revert to my yellow legal pad and black felt-tip pen, or whatever kind of tip it may be nowadays. This was, in the past, the only way I could write anything until I started working on my computer.

Now trying to go cold turkey from my machine for me is like withdrawal from tobacco. My hands flitter about with nothing to click. I can’t open up anything. My fingers yearn to delete the forwards in my e-mail, and not being able to check that is like a starvation diet.

Nonetheless, life goes on, computer-less or not. I lurch around the house; stumbling from room to room, pretending to be doing important tasks. Finally I decide to make some bread. Just before I put the yeast in the warm water, I get a phone call from my daughter, Alanna.

“Mom I’m making custard. What does ‘bake in a water bath’ mean?”

I think hard. I don’t know. I know it has to do with water and baking.

“I’m not sure, honey. Why don’t you look it up on the internet?” I ask with a wince.

“OK, thanks, Mom.”

I imagine her typing in “bake in water bath” and hitting the search button; hearing that satisfying click-cluck. A surge of hard craving pulses through my hands. I think the unthinkable. Should I use my husband’s computer? Never. It’s not a laptop like mine. It is a big, clunky thing that sits in a dark corner of the family room, by his shelves full of things like instructions for tools and large, manila envelopes. He has an old monitor with beige edges and he never uses his word processor program.

How could I possibly sit there and do anything, much less write? I know it sounds crazy, but it would be like Lucinda Williams singing in the forest. Something like that. Am I a computer snob? I think not. I barely know the difference between a gigabyte and a sound bite. My laptop is three years old and has Word 2007 in it. (Anyone who has this program knows that is a nightmare to deal with.)

I may be somewhat picky and slightly set in my ways. (When my husband reads this his eyeballs will roll right out of his head and onto the floor.)

So I finished the bread and was about to go on Facebook and chat. It was just like when the power goes out and you reach for the light switch so that you can find the candles. This addiction is without mercy. Don’t they make a version of Nicorette for computer withdrawal? They might call it Internet-ette.

But I have to do this drug-free. Hang on, I tell myself. My son is coming over Sunday to perform his electronic magic. Like many of our kids today, working with these machines is second nature to him. It’s so easy for him. Something like me learning to do “The Jerk” in junior high, only a lot harder. It just comes natural.

Epilogue: I am back on my laptop and back in the groove; thank you Kevin. I only had to suffer three days of major craving thanks to my son. I gave him a loaf of bread and a big hug for his trip home, all with steady hands.

Joan Burke is a guest columnist for The Anderson News.