You Can't Go In There

When I was a teenager in the mid-1970's, computers were machinery only NASA used, or really big businesses. The idea of the average family being able to afford their own computer wasn't something an ordinary person would believe possible, except for maybe Bill Gates, and he wasn't ordinary. My husband was one of the first people on the block to go out and buy a VHS recorder; the kind that was huge and cumbersome, weighing a ton and had to be loaded from the top. He was also the first one to go out and buy an Atari with Space Invaders as his game of choice.

It took me awhile to figure out the VHS as far as programming it for future recording. Back then, the remote was called the “clicker” by most people because of the clicking noise that was made when the buttons were depressed. I personally referred to it as the “clicky thingy” and rarely ever used it because there were too many buttons to push just to get to where I wanted to go. It took much less time to just get up and do it manually. I hated the Atari game because, well, frankly, I couldn't control the controller. What kind of name is “joystick” anyway? It never brought me any joy, but tons of frustration and cramped fingers. The only joystick I wanted to play with was........well, never mind.

A home computer was another thing all together! I was all about getting one as soon as possible. In fact, I had been following technology news very closely and believed I was starting to see the beginning of a trend that could make us rich if my husband would only part with a measly few hundred bucks. I wanted to buy stock in the early Apple computers. He refused on the basis that computers would never become a common household appliance. Only the rich would buy them for a year or two and then they would move on to something better. He wasn't wasting his money on a sure loss like that! (and this is why I still work for a living) We are now divorced, by the way.

Having four children to raise as a single parent in the 80's wasn't an easy task. I struggled through it all, working sometimes three jobs to make sure expenses were covered. I kept eyeballing the newest and latest computers as they made the scene, waiting for the day I would be able to buy one. But there were always braces to buy, cars to repair, eye examines and ...well, you get it.

Finally by 1998, I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way of buying my own home computer. The prices were astronomical for what you got in comparison to the computers of today. Back then, it seemed like it couldn't get any better. I was so excited as I sat there staring at the many boxes containing all the really neat stuff that I'd bought to go with it. I had the printer, the speakers, one of those really cool boxy looking monitors, an external microphone because the internal one simply wasn't cool enough for me, and my piece de resistance....a scanner. It was one of the latest examples of computer technology with a whopping 3.2 gigs of storage and 32 megs of ram. I'm telling you, no one had a computer like I had! I also had a software bundle to die for, with Win 98 at the top of the list.

I started to unpack the boxes, carefully sitting everything in neat little piles around my bedroom, before I realized I had better get my desk assembled first. My darling ex-husband had confiscated every tool in the garage because in his estimation, I wouldn't know what to do with them, tools belonging in a man's world, and all. Whatever! Never underestimate a woman with a butter knife in hand. I had that desk together in mere moments. And the chair, too!

I sat there gazing at the piles of technology dotting my bedroom carpet. Where to start? The more I looked at my purchases, the more I questioned my ability to sort it all out. I had never actually worked with a home computer. I really didn't know how to go about putting it all together. There were so many directions, so many cords and cables, and man, the mountain of software discs was daunting. I came up with a brilliant idea. I would just call the guy I was dating, (my regular boyfriend and I were on a break) and have him come over to set it up.

I loved my computer. I took a lot of work home with me and having a computer was making my job so much easier. I just kept learning more and more and becoming more brave about tackling new projects all on my own. Before long, I was changing out hard drives and putting in slave drives. I was buying digital cameras and voice recorders and web cams. I was all about computering.

After about three or four years of this, and yet another computer later (I owned three by then), I ended up putting all my belongings into storage and moving in with my daughter. Family crisis or no, I wasn't packing away my computer. The problem was that she had purchased an old farm house in an area not able to get internet. My own life took a few twists and turns and I sort of dropped out of the technology circuit. I didn't keep up with it at all. By the time 2008 rolled around, every one of my computers was so outdated that there wasn't much I could do with them except maybe web surf and use old software. The newer games and software technology took up so much space and far more ram. Even though I upgraded the ram, I knew it was just a matter of time until I would have to go get a new toy.

It took me another two years until I felt settled enough to buy a new computer. I opted for a laptop with all the whizzers and zoomers just because I like to whiz. I needed a laptop because it would permit me to take my job with me no matter where I had to go. I was so busy working crazy, insane hours that I didn't have any time for leisurely computer activities, so it was awhile before I was able to explore all of its capabilities.

Finally, I had settled down to explore the video making capabilities. I wasn't real impressed with the basic software and so I found a cool one that I've come to really like. I was visiting my daughter for a few days when I decided to pull out the laptop and learn how to make a video. My grandson, Nikolai, is the youngest of my grandchildren at 6 years of age. Like his older sister, Ryder, he and I tend to spend a lot of time entertaining each other. He's a real Grammy's Boy, usually glued to my side no matter what I may be doing.

Nikolai is a very intelligent little boy with a thirst for learning. He will observe everything around him and often is able to accomplish tasks just from watching someone else do them. He has always had a keen interest in artistic areas. He surprised us all when, at the tender age of two, he drew Mickey Mouse so well that we knew exactly what we were looking at. He was very detailed in his drawing, right down to the three lines in Mickey's gloved hands. Since then he has perfected his techniques to the point that it is difficult to convince strangers his work is not that of an adult.

One of the ways he got so good at drawing was through his powers of observation. He would run past a mirror, careful to watch his own movements in the reflection, doing it over and over again until he was ready to draw. Then he would go to his art paper and draw a figure running. He would make faces in the mirror for the same purpose. It was amazing to watch this kid.

About four months ago, he asked me to explain how drawings could be made into moving pictures. I don't have the knowledge for animation, however, I could show him how each frame was put together and run through a projector to give the impression of movement. We found an old video on YouTube whose topic was how animation was done at the Disney Studios prior to computers. He has been absorbed in learning more and more ever since then.

The day I was attempting to learn about computerized video making, Nikolai decided he had to watch. My boyfriend has sung lead vocals in a band for the last thirty years, so I chose one of his recorded songs as my source of inspiration. (we were off our break by now). Like I said, Nikki is an inquisitive little boy. Every time I tried to do something he wanted a running explanation of what I was doing, why I was doing it, what it would end up looking like, where I got the music from, yada, yada, yada... I was trying to be patient and not discourage him from learning but he was breaking my concentration. I had to keep reading instructions over and over again. It also doesn't help to have a child yapping in your ear when you're trying to edit sound clips.

I had reached the stage where I was looking for photographic content to use for the imagery of the song. I had a very definite idea of what kind of art I was looking for and I didn't want my grandson to be present for it. There was nothing hardcore about the photos, but they were definitely a form of the more erotic side of art. I was surfing through sites I'd never been in before, and wasn't sure what I might find. I sent him off trying to explain that he wasn't old enough to see the pictures I was searching for.

Every so often he would slide close to see if it was safe for him to watch and I would shoo him away telling him he was too young. In exasperation he asked if he would be allowed to see it when I was done. I explained that no, it was much too adult for him to see. I also took a firm stance and told him I didn't want anymore interruptions or I would never get finished with it.

After about an hour more, my ex-husband showed up for a brief visit with our daughter and the kids. Randy and I were only starting to become civil with each other after more than 25 years of being divorced. We weren't at each other's throats or anything. We just simply ignored the other's presence. He had never forgiven me for divorcing him, refusing to acknowledge that I did so because he was a schmuck. He was so enamored of himself, he had convinced himself that I had to be cheating on him. Not so, but I didn't care to expend the energy enlightening him. As a result of his misbegotten belief, he always had a few choice words to use in describing my character. Like I said, he's a schmuck.

I was in another room when he came into the house. My daughter was taking a shower and her husband had run to the store. Randy asked Nikolai where everyone was at. I guess he was headed toward the office where I was busy with my video making, because Nikki jumped into the doorway and spread his arms wide to bar passage.

“You can't go in there,” he said breathlessly, “Grammy's making an adult movie!”

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