The Obligatory Optional Assignment

KeyboardI want to pass on a piece of wisdom to anyone who still has the time. Though I wish I could somehow go back in time and tell past-me to listen to my parents and everyone else who told me it would be a good idea to take that typing class in high school, I can’t. “You fool,” I’d tell my past-self. “You don’t really think you’ll get anywhere in life without learning how to type properly, do you?” Of course, my snotty fourteen-year-old self would say, “I know how to type, duh. I’ll be fine. Leave me alone! I hate you!” At which point I’d poke that boogery little girl in the eye.

It’s not that I don’t know how to type. I mean, I’m typing these words right now, aren’t I? I have a whole freaking blog for Pete’s sake, for which I typed each of these blatherings all by myself. My dad frequently asked me to assist him with typing emails and values into Excel spreadsheets. I’m certainly capable when it comes to computers, as one has to be nowadays and especially at my age. There’s no escaping the fact that every person has to be, at least to some extent, technologically-versed. However, I’m not the strongest typist in the cyber-world.

I may be quick on the keyboard, in fact, I’m almost as fast a typist as my boyfriend who actually took that typing class in high school, it’s even been said that my fingers are on crack, but as when anything is accomplished at great speed, there’s often room for error. When I type fast, my accuracy is lacking. Spell-check has been my best friend since I can remember and along with the Backspace button, we make quite the team. If I’m focusing on accuracy and speed simultaneously, I find myself looking at the keyboard almost 90 percent of the time, often to recalibrate my mind-finger coordination after taking frequent pauses when I’ve mistyped something so horribly far from what I was meaning to type that the words on the screen are unintelligible and I’ve forgotten what I was doing altogether. Thus, I’ve found that I cannot have speed and accuracy together.

Let me just brag a little by saying that my spelling skills have always been on-point. It really is the typing, the faith that my fingers will find the keys my mind wants them to, that causes my accuracy to suffer when typing quickly. Many times I’ve thought that if I just knew the proper way to position my hands on the keyboard, memorized the arrangement of keys on the board, I could cut out so much time lost to the backspace button, pausing to gather my thoughts, spell-check, etc. But after all this time doing things in my own way, I can’t imagine going back to learn the correct typing method. Would it even help? Would I be wasting my time? Is it possible to correct my bad habits after all these years? And so I’ve decided to use my summer to cross “typing” off my rather long list of things I want to learn. I suppose, in light of this decision, learning to french braid my hair and learning to play the piano will have to wait.

I’ve started a typing course online. It’s my optional for now, but obligatory for life, extra-credit assignment. We’ll see how that goes. As of today I’m three lessons deep and I’ve found that the more keys I’m practicing at a time, the less accuracy I have as well as the less words per minute I’m typing. Go figure and talk about discouraging. I’m also finding that my hands are getting more lethargic more quickly in the new position they have to hold over the keyboard- on the “home row.”

So kids, I think the lesson we’ve learned today is to take keyboarding in high school, or preferably earlier, since people are clearly using computers and learning to type at earlier ages than fourteen. Maybe these courses should be offered in elementary school.

Goodbye, old friend

Monday night my mom made the very last schlep into Virginia Beach to check that everything was in working order at our, now, old house for the owners’ arrival Tuesday morning.

We had been renting this house for the past four years from our, now, old friends, a Navy man and his wife who left it to retire to a larger, log-cabin-style home, probably overlooking the water, in the forests of Indiana. In those four years, my little family made a lot of memories in that house. It was a lot cozier than the house we had lived in previously- a five bedroom, brick house in a brand new neighborhood, every interior wall and carpet white and spotless, emotionless as a dead person. Due to a decline in our financial well-being our family was forced to consider a more modest home than the corpse of a house we bought when we first moved to Virginia Beach. We ended up renting from our friends, who were moving at the same time, conveniently enough.

So after four years, only months after my dad passed away, the owners, our “friends,” decided they want to sell the house, leaving us with only a month to find another home and evacuate. A month; it sounds doable, right? Reasonable? No. A month is not enough time to make a decision on a permanent home that we hadn’t even begun to look for, let alone all the packing there was to be done, keeping in mind I was still five hours from home at school for half of this month. They expected us to be gone in a month, when it had only been four since my dad passed and I hadn’t even been able to bring myself to go through his things. My mom and I were just beginning the struggle toward finding a “new normal,” the process that is vitally important after someone so essential in one’s life passes away. In one phone call, that new life was put on hold and our new normal was completely shattered and in addition to the grief, we suddenly had to deal with undue stress and pressure from this approaching move.

I’m not saying that the owners of the house are not allowed to do whatever they want with the property, whenever they want. They can. I’m also not implying that we’re not grateful for their letting us rent the house from them for as long as we did. However, these people did consider themselves great friends to my dad and to our family, until now. This decision on their part was going to cause a lot of problems for my, now smaller as of a few months, family.

We had to resort to finding only a temporary home. This sounds slightly more reasonable, right? No. Not with 3 pets, two of which are 14-year-old labs (that’s 98 in human years) who aren’t accustomed to change, soil themselves on a daily basis because they have little control over their bowels and bladders, and have hips which are physically unable to cooperate with stairs.

Thus, the search was very limited. The only places we could even consider a possibility were those who allowed 3 animals, all heavier than ten pounds, which eliminates almost all rental homes and apartments. Then we had to eliminate all the places with stairs or a deck or uneven surface of any kind, which led to a dwindling number of options. So we were looking for a rental home or a first-floor apartment with those qualifications and in our price range. The only places available were in areas that we consider scary, to say the least. It seemed that if we wanted a place to fit those qualifications and that was a safe place to live, we would need to start looking out of our price range.

At this point, things weren’t looking very promising. Then out of no where, my mom found this lovely little apartment complex in a neighboring city, only 25 minutes from where we’d been living in the cozy little house in Virginia Beach, with a unit available on the first floor. It was a miracle! And here we are in this cute little apartment, just big enough for the five of us.

Maybe it’s a good thing that this happened when it did. Maybe mom and I needed to be uprooted completely from our old lives in order to move on. I was uneasy about things changing, because I didn’t want to forget. Through the process of downsizing to the essentials (what must happen when a family moves from a home for six into an apartment for five) and selling so many of our possessions that held dear family memories, I was afraid that I wouldn’t remember him. I am still afraid, but now I’m afraid and buried under piles of boxes as the huge undertaking that is unpacking approaches.

Unsure and afraid of forgetting the past and of what our future holds, still I say, “Goodbye to you, old house. Though you were falling down around us at times, you only served to push us closer together. Thank you for the time and for the memories.”