Monday, 26 May 2014

How Times Change

I was sitting here reading an old book by one of my favourite authors, Nora Roberts. It was given to me when my friend cleaned out her office and downsized some of her book collection. I started to read it the other night, and soon recognized that I’d read it many years before.

I kept reading because, well, a good story is a good story, even the second time around. And I am a notorious re-reader.

But it’s not the story that strikes me right now as the changes in lifestyle, in technology, in the laws.

In the book, written in 1990, a young woman’s life is being threatened by a man, identity unknown. She is being watched over by a police detective. The beginning of a romance is inevitable. In the scene I just read, the couple are at a social event when she receives an anonymous and threatening note. They rush from the room to the lobby where he, the detective, is “digging for change” and she sits and waits, “shaky, she pulled out a cigarette.”

He’s looking for change for the pay phone, as they didn’t have cell phones, and she’s lighting up in a public space, now against the law in many places.

Anything I’ve written has been contemporary, but in creating a character’s history I’ve had to look back to when they were born, when they graduated high school, finished university, and so on. Current characters would have cell phones, new and modern cell phones with access to the internet and the ability to take instant pictures.

We’ve seen it in the movies and on television, the police or agents have constant contact with their team and their headquarters, Information is at their fingertips in an instant. Gone are the old days of digging for change and looking for a public phone. 

My grandmother was ninety-nine years old when she died, in 1999. I used to marvel at the changes that had occurred in all those years, and now find myself in the same position. She saw many changes in technology in her lifetime, but nothing like what I have seen in mine.

I remember when television went to colour, lived through lp’s, 8 track, cassettes to CD’s and beyond. Same with disk players, beta and VHS to DVD’s. Whenever a new technology was developed it was expensive to buy, but if you waited the prices finally came down.

Remember how expensive it was to buy a tape player, how costly to buy the VHS tape of your favourite movie? Now you can buy a DVD for a few dollars, and your personal collection can be vast and not cost you a fortune. Unless you upgrade as things change. I finally got rid of my tape player and all my VHS tapes; have replaced some with DVD’s but now there’s this new Blue something or other.

The computer is just as bad. I have a new Notebook with Windows 8. It’s still sitting on the table waiting for me. I’ve kept the old one, the familiar one, using the excuse that I needed the familiarity of it to do the edits I was working on. A feeble and not entirely truthful excuse. I’m intimidated by the new one.

But waste not want not, I need to get going on it, learn the new programs and get to work. It seems I’ve made a lot of excuses lately, letting the new book sit unfinished, the Notebook sit idle, and my mood linger on the sad and depressed. Okay, we had a bad winter, and spring has been forever coming to stay, but that was then, and this is now. Get over it I tell myself, get back to work.

I need to make a daily to do list like my friend. At least then I would be reminded of what I need to do, and what I have accomplished. There’s a reason to do lists work, it’s too easy to bounce around from one thing to another, forgetting what needs to be done.

With the good weather these last few days, plus the impetus of getting my garden started, I’ve accomplished more this week than in the weeks preceding. I have a work of art started, finished the baby cocoons I was crocheting, and actually was back working on the book.

And I took the time to read a novel that reminded me that with time, comes change.

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