Archive for Thursday, April 21, 2005

Unfathomable tape recorder a font of ideas

April 21, 2005

It's Friday and I sit staring at a blank computer screen, which is a scary thing when a column is required by Monday morning and the weekend is full of activity. Hoping to displace the dreaded writer's block that creeps in every now and then, I sift through past April columns to see what I wrote in previous years, but find nothing there that helps.

Finally I wander into the kitchen where I find myself scanning the refrigerator to see if anything new has appeared since lunch. Then, I wander downstairs and fold a load of clothes. After that I read the sports section of the local paper and stare out my window for a while. No inspiration there either as all the kids are in school and the neighborhood is quiet and uneventful.

Finally I pick up a book I bought a few days earlier by Anna Quindlen entitled "Loud and Clear."

Reading the forward, I laughed out loud as she described her own personal "non writing" experience as she calls it.

"I do not fly to my desk each morning with a full heart and a ready hand. I skirt the perimeters of my home office with a sense of dread, eyes averted from an empty computer screen. Instead of creation there is always procrastination" Quindlen wrote.

Now I understand. However, knowing I am in such prestigious company doesn't help fill the empty computer screen.

There are days and weeks when subjects seem to roll off my thought page. I can't wait to get them down on paper. I even bought a handheld tape recorder to capture those random thoughts as I drive between here and Lawrence on my daily trips. Playing back the tape this week, I found only a few scraps of interest but nothing that really started the writing process. Besides, the recorder is a techno work of digital art -- digital.

In a weak moment, I allowed a nice young lady at an electronics store to talk me into this little monster, which fits neatly into the palm of my hand but refuses to be programmed -- at least by me who is now ready to write the handbook, "Digital Recorder for Dummies."

All I wanted was to make it play and stop -- no folders or complicated stuff -- no digital time setting with which to pull one of my recordings from file A, B or C. I wanted a plain little miniature tape player -- but no, now I have this tiny bit of technology that can do everything but erase. Now my in box is filled with wonderful stuff like " Can you hear me?" and "Testing, Testing."

If they find this at a crash site, it will be with my last words addressed to the little wonder most of which will not be fit for human consumption as the erase button fails to work also. I knew instantly when I pulled the instructions from the package that I was in trouble when it took four pages to coax it into working.

I took it back with the idea of getting my money back, but the gentleman who was working at the time, and who incidentally couldn't make it work either, was dismissive. When I suggested that it might be a good idea if I returned it for one of those old-fashioned miniature tape players, he quickly walked away to "help" another customer as I was in mid-sentence. So I still have the sleek little techno wonder.

After some fancy maneuvering on my part I actually got it to play what I recorded. Some of the "gems" follow.

  • Spring is glorious -- wish I knew enough words to describe it -- maybe I should buy a thesaurus.
  • Long recording on my grandson Grant's first communion, which is worthy of much more than this little blurb.
  • Memories of my own first communion -- I found an old photo recently which features me with a toothy grin -- two front teeth missing -- in a white taffeta dress standing in front of a huge row of spirea bushes.
  • Re: Anthony Brown -- our state representative -- congratulations Anthony, on your first session and a job well done. Thanks for answering my e-mails.
  • A reminder to write a thank you to Danny Strimple of "Cutter's Smokehouse" here in Eudora who so generously is donating the food for the survivor's dinner at June's Relay for Life in Eudora.
  • Another reminder to mention what a great piece Rod Moyer, our absent school principal who is serving in Iraq, wrote about attending an Easter service in the ruins of what was once Abraham's home. What an awesome experience in a complicated and dangerous place.
  • Also a reminder to congratulate all of the recent candidates for public office here in Eudora who won positions and to thank all those who were willing to make the commitment even though they didn't win this time.
  • Second to last message is a long recording about how self-conscious I am speaking into a tape recorder even when I'm just talking to myself. I even say "goodbye" at the end.
  • Last and probably the best message -- seen on a bumper stick in Lawrence, "Make Beer -- Not Bombs!

Not having any idea about what this column would be at the onset, I feel I must thank my new, obstinate little tape recorder for this piece. It's finally good for something.

FOR 4/21/05

"We didn't lose the game; we just ran out of time."

Vince Lombardi

"But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work."

2Chronicles 15:7

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