Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Twelve Signs You're Too Obsessed With Technology

I know when the obsession with technology began for me—after I purchased my first PC.   Then came email, though I initially had to rely on dial-up (I can still hear that funky sound in my head) before the advent of high-speed internet.  It didn't matter if it took several minutes and sometimes several attempts to connect.  I was just darned happy to be a part of that new thing known as The Worldwide Web.  Of course, we can't forget those first cell phones, the clunky kind that could double as a weapon, before everything went streamlined and portable and affordable. With the arrival of social media, people became joined by a virtual umbilical cord that can easily be severed if you un-friend someone.  Most teens have no concept of conversations that don't involve text messages.  We no longer have to be home to watch our favorite TV shows; we just fire up the DVR.  Our CDs have given way to MP3s and our playlists are more extensive than a mortgage contract.  Now traditional books are being replaced by e-readers that practically do everything but the laundry, although I sure hope they develop that application soon.

Though we've gained many advantages through recent technology, I have to wonder if perhaps we're giving up too much old-fashioned face time.  So how do we know when enough is enough?  Here's a list I compiled that could indicate you've gone completely over the edge. 

  • When your sister invites you to grab a bite, you grab your laptop and take off for the nearest computer superstore to buy more memory.
  • You attempt to purchase groceries from an App store
  • You meet your gal pals for a night on the town and you spend the evening tweeting each other from your perch at the bar.
  • You marry your fiancĂ© in Vegas… via Skype because you can't leave the chat room.
  • In the aftermath of an amorous interlude with your spouse, you send him/her a text that reads, "Was it good for you?"
  • You name your twins High and Definition.
  • You inform your children about the birds and bees with a PowerPoint presentation.
  • You upgrade your cell phone and two days later, you sell your great aunt's antiques so you can upgrade it again.
  • While planning your son's bar mitzvah, you exclude your parents to make room for the computer tech guy and his girlfriend.
  • Your children discover they have a new step-daddy from your status update on Facebook.
  • Your car's GPS stops working and you can't find your place of employment.
  • Your baby's first word is OMG.

Now ask yourself this—if some obscure law suddenly forces you to give up all but one of your favorite forms of technology, i.e. cell phone, laptop, etc., what would you keep?  If the thought of even answering that question sends you into a cold sweat, put down the cell phone, step away from the computer, and consider techno rehab.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

A Hero Of My Own

As a romance writer, I learned early on it's imperative to include an irresistible hero in your books.  Those dashing, romantic, honorable men a girl can't help but fall in love with.  Some skeptics don't believe they really exist, but I'm here to tell you they do. I had one of my very own  my husband, Steve.

Our love story began in earnest when he lowered to one knee, asked for my hand, gave me a beautiful ring, then took me to a Willie Nelson concert.  For a girl who cut her teeth on country music and more than appreciated a good romantic gesture, this was the perfect proposal, so of course I said yes.  A few months later, I began our married life together with a lot of clothes and not a whit of equine knowledge.  Steve entered our married life together with an organized closet and a slew of horses.  We went on to raise three children and too many foals to count, and I suppose I should consider myself lucky it wasn't the other way around.  

Admittedly, Steve and I were pretty much polar opposites. He chose his words carefully, I spewed whatever came to mind.  He was a planner; I was a jumper.  He was also the consummate family man as well as a respected neurosurgeon.  His colleagues and patients knew him as the cowboy physician who wore polished boots, dress jeans and a starched white lab coat.  I knew him as the husband who wore scuffed boots, holey jeans and a T-shirt that read "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV."  

They knew the M.D. who could toss out orders without missing a beat; I knew the rancher who could toss a fifty-pound bag of feed as if it weighed no more than a nickel.  They knew the doctor who carried a chart down the hospital hall with authority; I knew the first-time father who proudly carried his newborn daughter around the delivery room—until one nurse reminded him that the baby's mother might like to have her turn. They knew the surgeon who donned gloves to wield a scalpel with precision; I knew the guy who liked to repair fences without gloves, much to my mortification. They knew the healer who could navigate a brain practically blindfolded; I knew the typical male who wouldn't consult a map to save my sanity—and refused to ask for directions.  They knew "the look," the one that had nurses coming to attention; our children knew "the look," the one that clearly stated, "Listen to your mother."  

They knew the doctor who spent a good deal of his time in the OR, the ER and the office;  I knew the husband and father who spent his free time at home, kissing a crying baby's boo-boos and assembling toys without bothering with the instructions—keeping all the extra parts "just in case."  I still have them, along with a box containing almost every greeting card I ever gave him that he secretly saved. 

Yet very few knew about the Parkinson's Disease that prematurely ended his career, and subsequently his life.  For fifteen years I witnessed the toll that insidious disease slowly took on his body and mind, yet he never let it touch his spirit—until  eighteen months ago when he grew weary of fighting.  Needless to say, letting him go wasn't the least bit easy.  All those things I loved about him, little things I'd forgotten when I assumed the role as his constant caregiver, precious memories that returned during his last days on earth, made me hold on even tighter. But as much as I clung to the hope that he would come back to me, I eventually recognized that willing him not to leave would only be selfish. If he could have stayed, he would have, because that's what heroes do, but only as a whole man completely in charge of his body and mind, not the suffering man who sometimes forgot my name, though he never failed to recognize me.   

I will always cherish Steve's final fleeting moments of clarity, the I-love-yous and quiet goodbyes before he found that much sought-after peace.  Maybe illness robbed him of dignity in the end, but it could never erase the unconditional love he had for his wife and children, or the countless lives he saved.  It could never steal the true essence of my hero.

So on this Valentine's Day, I celebrate being completely loved by a man who hasand will always bethe cornerstone of every hero I write.  I only hope that everyone will be so blessed.