I’m not much of a poet, but occasionally I may try to conjure something up out of the old ether. At York I actually managed to pen quite a few works of – well, intensity. I re-read them now and then, and I cringe, but part of that cringing is the memory of the intensity so I let it slide. It’s like looking at old photos – seeing the fashions we used to wear. Hard to do, hard to take, but rewarding in its own way.
Speaking of York, or as we used to call it – Yuk U… One of my main concerns in going back to school at 46 is not that I won’t remember how to be a student; memories of my first university experience are still quite crisp in my mind. No, my main concern is in how different it will all be. I mean, think about it: a lot has changed since I graduated in 1990.
For example, I started my first experience using an old IBM electric typewriter – Selectric, I think they called it. I typed and re-typed my breadth assignments ad nauseam – draft after draft – then finally a good copy for submission. I used carbon paper to ensure that I had a copy of the essay for my own records. After a while I found a smaller typewriter to work on – with a corrector ribbon. This saved me a little time – all I had to do is press the red button and the built-in memory would initialize and type in white right over the last character I typed. I think I could erase up to 20 characters that way. That was clearly a tremendous time saver, and a paper saver – resulting in a net benefit to my supplies budget. In my third year I got my first computer. Do you know, I forget the make, but it was this really compact little thing – a desktop model about 1-foot by 1-foot by 5 inches high. The monitor sat right on top – a sexy monochrome display which was so much better than all those old-school, electric-green dumb terminals. I had to make payments – that was the only way I could afford it. I think it had a whopping 100mb hard drive – something like that, and it came with the latest of peripherals – like a hot, new dot-matrix printer with paper that fed through automatically. I was so cool. Needless to say, the computer really saved me a lot of time – now I could do all my editing, then press print. Now, I said to myself, there is no excuse for turning in anything less than perfect. Now I would be a straight-A student. As if it had been technology’s fault up until then.
To research I read my Collier’s Encyclopediae at home, and visited the Yuk U library every day for additional information. I also took the time to check the microfiche for either the most current periodicals or the oldest references available, depending on what was called for. That was the neatest thing! Microfiche: thousands of pages of almost completely irrelevant information in a compact, plastic card format. Spin the knob, slide the bar and zoom in and out – that was high-tech. The internet was not known when I started school, and even by the time I finished it was not fully understood. It was nebulous. It was like TV – interesting, but how could it possibly catch on and be anything useful?
Yes, a lot has changed since I was last in school, and if I’m honest I have to ask if I’ll be able to catch up, and then keep up. I have this laptop thingy to work with (I’m working with it now), I have the internet of course, which actually did take off, I have a laser printer and the most recent word processing software. I’m switching to an iPhone later this month and am considering purchase of a tablet – the latest thing – to enable reading of dowloaded texts instead of the paper versions and to make my carry-on luggage lighter because after all this clunky, 2-year old laptop really is quite onerous to move around – being at least six or seven pounds in weight.
Today I’m off to a car show. Winter appears to be behind us – we’re talking millimeters instead of centimeters, so the classic cars are out and about. It’s Saturday and I’m still excited about my upcoming university adventures.