"Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity." ~ Gilda Radner

Saturday, January 15, 2011


It all started so innocently... 
He comes by it naturally, I suppose.

I look at my son with his ever-present cell phone in hand, thumbs flying as he texts and -- though I worry that texting is the death knell for real conversation as we know it -- I can't help but chuckle.

Alas, I, too, am hooked on constant communication.  Always have been. And the more intriguing the means of communicating, the better.

In fact, from the age of four when I discovered that I could talk to my best friend, Valli, using nothing more than two Dixie cups and a length of string, I yearned for a 24/7 outlet for my growing gift for gab.

Even at that young age, however, I was not  blind to the obvious shortcomings of the cup-and-string phone, and I eventually developed a hankerin' for hand-held, battery-operated walkie talkies.  My parents finally gave in to my pre-pubescent pleas and bought me a pair for my ninth birthday.

At last!
On a clear day, if Valli and I stood on our front porches (we lived but a house away from each other) we would talk on our walkie talkies and could actually hear each other.

Yeah, it was all fun and games until the one day Valli wasn't home for our scheduled porch-to-porch convo.  There I sat for hours, alone, patiently waiting for Valli's  return...a walkie talkie in each hand, chatting back and forth to myself.


Object of my adolescent desire
I also once pined for a pink Princess dial phone. I dreamed of placing it right next to my bed, and imagined how wonderful it would be if someday I had my own, private, teen line. The mere thought of being able to call my friends from my room, chatting the night away? Too groovy for words.

Meanwhile, I had to settle for calling my pals from our rotary wall phone in the kitchen, holing up in our boom closet for privacy. Thank goodness the phone cord reached that far.

As a young adult, I ran up long distance phone bills the size of Chicago, especially during PMS.  Nothing like reaching out to friends across the country to ease the emotional cramps that Midol just couldn't touch.

Then came Christmas 1987.  John was working retail, and I was a lonely Wal-Mart widow.  I was banned from making long distance calls unless I wanted to sell off the family heirlooms to pay MCI each month. What was a depressed chat-a-holic to do?

10-4 good buddy
Why, ask Santa for a portable citizen band radio radio, of course! The jolly ol' elf kindly obliged, and soon I was puttin' the verbal pedal to the medal.  Forty channels. And, as modern technology would have it, I could plug my CB into the cigarette lighter in the car. I was mobile, baby! 10-4. Got your ears on, good buddy? Didn't matter that I was talking to people I didn't know. Somewhere out there was someone I could talk to, and it was affordable to boot!

In 1990, I packed up the CB, and we moved to Cincinnati. One night, while John was glued to the TV, I  unpacked my frequency-fueled friend and started yackin' again. Gave myself a handle this time. Guardian Angel.  My old high school chum, Holly, came over one summer night and joined in the fun.

There we sat in my car in the driveway, Guardian Angel and Star Gazer (both in our early 30s, mind you),  a couple cans of pop and a bowl of chips between us, chatting it up on the CB for hours, again with folks we did not know and would never see.

Although my husband did not find this particular past time of mine all that amusing, my psychologist, Shirley (a stand-up comedienne in her spare time), deemed it nothing short of healthy, creative genius for someone like me whose need to talk went way beyond what most husbands could or would tolerate.

Love at first byte
Back in Iowa in the mid 90s however, I tossed the CB radio aside and learned my way around a PC. I checked out chat rooms.  The decent ones, mind you, for writers and dieters and stay-at-home moms. I was captivated!  I fell in love with instant messaging.

It was during that time that a hands-free portable phone, complete with headset, became an indispensable daily tool. It allowed me to talk to my friends, fold laundry and keep a watchful eye on my young son in the next room, all at the same team. What a marvel!

I began blogging in 2006, starting a rather controversial but well-read news blog (The Independent Eye, now defunct) and The Home Stretch, both at the same time. Was one blog enough?  Were two too many?  My family did not see me for days until one night I emerged from my attic writing room suffering from a bad case of bleary blogger baby blues.

Late in 2008, I got sucked into Facebook, the highly intoxicating blog/instant messaging cocktail that it is.  No regrets, however. I have happily reconnected with just about everyone I know from high school,  college or newspapers where I once worked. I absolutely adore the ability to flip on my computer at any time of day, and voila!  Friends at my fingertips! A childhood dream come true!

I dare say I could not have survived one more soul-killing Iowa winter without it.

Heck, I'm so cyber-connected these days, The Home Stretch now has its own Facebook page.   Gabbing gone wild.

And just the other day I joined Twitter.

But truth be told, between blogging, Facebook and texting,  I'm just too tired to Tweet.


Anonymous said...

Too funny. Oh, how I wanted one of those princess phones and my own line! Luckily, our phone cord reached to the basement steps, where I would sit for hours with the door shutting yakking. At least until my father set some limits...that was before call waiting.

Annie said...

Hey Jill! Thanks for stopping by! Ah, yes...limits. My dad was furious one afternoon when he couldn't get ahold of me because I had the phone tied up for hours talking to my eighth grade beau. Grounded. Call waiting would have been awesome! Caller ID, however, would have ruined many a slumber party. Would have taken all the fun out of calling those UC fraternities...I wonder...did anyone we know actually have a Princess phone?