Happiness is a portable computer, by Deb Emily

Emily Winslow by Jonathan Player

I got a laptop so I could hide from the baby.

My husband’s job involves talking on the phone with the California office, which is eight hours behind us. So he works afternoons and evenings, and looks after our boys in the morning.

The boys have a great time, playing Lego and programming robots. (And a somewhat annoyed time practicing instruments and French pronuciation.) At the time we started using this schedule, our younger son was less than a year old. He loved spending time with his daddy and was very happy.

UNLESS he saw or heard me. If I snuck into the kitchen to get coffee? Even if I ducked to hide behind the counters and skulked around like Gollum? He knew I was there, just from the sound of a cabinet door. And he would WAIL.

I certainly couldn’t sneak through the playroom into my study and close the door, the way we had planned.

When we built this house, we attached the studies there, figuring we could work and be near our frolicking children. Ha! It’s hard to get work done in any proximity to frolicking. And our older boy has pretty much taken over “my” desktop computer. The screensaver is VeggieTales and the homepage on our browser is Club Penguin. The bookmarks menu is all funny YouTube clips and HTML how-tos and PBS Kids.

So I got a laptop, and a small coffeemaker, and set up in a corner of our bedroom. If we have no visitors, I can spread out on a table in a guest room. If I have errands or a dentist appointment, I can work at a cafe or bookstore.

My first laptop was a cheap Windows machine. I felt indulgent buying a laptop for what was, by virtue of being unpaid, still a hobby and not yet a profession, so I got the least expensive one. By the time my book sold, the machine was falling apart. I felt I could justify a *nice* laptop, now that I had become a pro. I went into the shiny new Apple store and got this fine little machine I’m typing on now.

Every now and then I have to revisit my old laptop to retrieve a file or use a piece of software that runs on only on Windows. Even just the layout of the keys and the way they absorb being pressed is somehow unpleasant. I don’t think I’ll ever go back to Windows, and certainly not back to [brand name of cheap laptop redacted].

Confess: Are you a Windows or a Mac person? Or other? (Do explain!) Who knows–maybe we even have a Luddite lurker who follows the Debutante Ball on printouts from a friend. Are you reading this at a desk, or on a laptop, or on your phone? How portable are you?

The boys are older now, and I can fetch my morning coffee without ducking. But I still work in the bedroom.

The best part about a laptop is that when my Sweetie and I both have deadlines and need to work through our evenings, I can bring my Mac downstairs. He sits on one end of the couch, and I lie across the couch with my feet next to his lap. We both type; he rubs my feet; the TV plays detective shows. Bliss.

13 Replies to “Happiness is a portable computer, by Deb Emily”

  1. I also upgraded to a shiny new Mac laptop (from a cheap, frustrating *other brand*) right after I sold my manuscript and felt like a “pro” writer. And I actually do feel as though the work I do on this machine is better … maybe because this new machine never freezes up on me like the old one did, and so I don’t have as many excuses to wander into the kitchen for another cup of tea, or walk the dog, while it’s rebooting!

  2. “When we built this house, we attached the studies there, figuring we could work and be near our frolicking children.”

    HA! Good one…

    I did the same laptop upgrade after the book deal only… I gave my husband the new computer and took his old one. I know, how awesome am I? There’s a good reason, though. He’s a computer programmer by profession and thus needed a better machine. Mine doesn’t have to do much, really. Browse and type, is all. I did buy myself an iPod, though, so I still got a new toy. (Said iPod is now playing Sarah McLachlan.)

    Oh, my husband and I work on opposite ends of the couch, too, though there’s no foot-rubbing. Yet.

  3. Everybody has a new laptop but me! Mine is about four years old, and my PHONE is faster (and almost has more hard disk space). Youtube? Not a chance on this old thing. (To be fair, I have a real computer in my office. But this one comes when we travel–it has the double “benefit” of being balky AND having the density of a brick.)

    I’ve been a happy Mac user for many years. And LOL about the office off the playroom… that’s kind of how our house is set up, so I’ll have to be careful–when we get around to having kids, that is.

  4. I love my new MacBook so much I might propose to it. For people like me, who aren’t comfortable with technology, it makes everything so easy! (One might even say idiot-proof… which is pretty much what I need.)
    And I hear you about hiding from the children!! They know exactly what we’re doing, and it’s a challenge for them to thwart us.

  5. I have used both Mac and PC and I can’t see me changing to a Mac. I like my PC and Katie, it’s four years old and I intend to use it until the day it turns blue (screen) and keels over. And then I’m going to try to get it resurrected. There is the slightest chance that when it really dies, I will switch to Mac just because I’ve heard such horrible things about MS Vista.

  6. I went to Mac and now I can’t go back. About six months ago (post book deal) I splurged on a Macbook Air. I like to take my laptop on the road to coffee shops etc and how light and portable this one is makes it a dream.

  7. I’m sitting reading this on my laptop, baby on my knee. I’m quite a whizz at one handed typing these days!

    I’m a Mac girl all the way they are just so easy to use and their customer care is excellent!

  8. Mac girl – all the way. Emac on my desk (I know, what’s that? Hardly anyone but schools use those) and a teeny-tiny PowerBook G4 for the road. I got the powerbook post book deal – but somehow thought I was being practical, frugal and environmentally-friendly but buying a refurbished one. Works great … but just after a couple of months the reason the last owner traded it in became obvious – a line down the middle of the screen. Works just fine – but there’s that damn line in the middle of everything you’re looking at.

    Perhaps after next book deal, I’ll actually splurge on a new laptop. It HAS to be a Mac (read: EXPENSIVE) for me. And that’s why I’m not buying anything until after the next book sells.

  9. I’d be one of the windows users too. They work great for me. And Vista is working great for me. But they are coming out with Windows 7 (8?) and that should be heaps better, or at least that’s how the geeks thinks.
    I actually just indulged in a new windows computer, but it actually have windows XP… Well it’s only for writing, don’t need the latest of the latest for that.
    And I’m a laptop girl (the new computer is a mini laptop, more portable than this one…). So laptop and windows are a win for me at least. Will probably try Mac some time in the future… but not for another few years.

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