The Cell Tome
How might the history of childcare have been different had the cell phone been invented earlier?
It’s a question I’ve asked myself many times in the last two months. I’ve had a lot of time to ask myself questions because I am the primary caretaker of the world’s most beautiful baby girl. How does the person inside the Bear in the Big Blue House costume see? Is it time for mom to come home, yet? Have I really needed to pee for four hours now? When was my last shower?
Taking care of my baby has been the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done, but there is no doubt that my work has suffered. I used to sit down at my desk at 8 a.m. when my family went out the door and work straight until they returned at 4. It was a lovely, meditative life. I had time to do extra projects on the side. I was PRODUCTIVE.
Then came the world’s most beautiful baby. Now I spend my waking hours building block towers for smashing, watching puppets sing about oral hygiene, picking raisins and cheerios off the floor, and playing with my baby. Now I start work at about 6:30 p.m. And go till 2 a.m. My brain doesn’t function as well then, and I can’t crank up my tunes. I have zero time for side projects.
At first I tried to work while baby was around, but the laptop buttons are an irresistible siren to her. It was too much of an effort to get the laptop open and start something that needs as much focused attention as editing knowing that I would be interupted. I found myself getting irritable, being caught between baby and work.
I’m the oldest of nine children: I know that babies grow up fast. So I decided to dump work and just play with baby. It was a good idea. I’ve been able to savor her babyhood, which I will never get another chance to do.
But I had no time for doing my own writing and it really started wearing on me. Would I not have a creative outlet for another four years when baby went off to school? Would I still be sane by then?
I hear generations of women heaving an exasperated sigh :women who spent 30 years in my same position without any respite on the horizon. What would they do to me if they found out that my life has been given back to me through the miracle of a cell phone?
I was going to get the free cell phone because I pride myself in staying aloof from our consumerist, toy-obsessed culture. But then I saw that some phones come with a qwerty keyboard, and the gears started to turn. I got the tough phone, the phone with a keyboard my fat thumbs could navigate, the one with the GPS I still haven’t learned how to use.
I have since become an avid Facebook user, a dedicated New York Times reader, and — yes indeed — a writer of short stories.
At first, I thought the cell phone would only be good for outlining and planning, and it worked very well in that capacity. But the boredom of watching that Bear in the Big Blue House episode one more time drove me to try my thumb at composing. And by gum, it works!
I’ve started to realize that the thumb board, which allows me to type at about a tenth of the speed I can type on a full-size keyboard, is actually well suited to my composing speed. When it comes to fiction, words don’t surface very for me quickly, and I hate it when my inner editor makes me focus more on what I should have written rather than what I am actually writing. The thumb board seems to give me permission to just keep plodding along. And the words scroll up out of the screen quickly. Out of sight, out of mind.
A week or so ago, I finished my first cell phone tome. I figure I wrote about 500 words a day, which is 500 more words a day than I used to write. Admittedly, I still have to revise on my computer, but I’m not complaining. I’ve got my writing life back.
This post brought to you by my Nokia E71.