Creatively Techie

Probably akin more to this

My husband and I are both creative souls, but in vastly different ways.  I write creative and not-so creative things.  I create beautiful things.  I sing.  He programs computers to do his bidding, codes long strings of letters and numbers that look like something that happens when I bang my head on the keyboard, and he makes pixels do interesting things on small screens.  He also complains that sometimes, when he talks about work, I glaze over.  I have this image of myself with my mouth drooped open, a tiny rivulet of drool headed down to my chin, with a vacant, after-the-lobotomy-in-one-flew-over-the-cuckoo’s-nest stare.  I hope it’s not quite that bad.

The truth is, when he starts talking in acronyms I know I’m in trouble.  I know a lot more about computers than many of my friends and family do, so when he talks about setting up permissions on his server I’m good.  When he goes into coding talk, I’m completely lost, but attempt – usually – to look as though I’m still paying attention.  Mentally, I’m preparing a shopping list for the craft store in my head.  Oh, right I need to get more of the 931 embroidery floss and I should look for a nice fluffy yarn for that scarf for Mom’s birthday, maybe some homespun?…. Then I glance over at him and am getting the glare.  I’ve glazed over again.

Still and all, the talk has made some sort of a difference to me.  Recently, some of the basic templates at one of the companies I work for were redone.  Everyone else went “Meh, it looks mostly the same.”  Me?  I went “Oh my god, look at all those rounded corners, that took hours!”  Because yeah, it does.  Not on graphics, but on tables and style sheets, those rounded corners are a real pain to get working correctly.  How do I know?  There was a Saturday devoted to that on the new website for my husband’s IT business, Effortless IT.* You see, I finally convinced him that always giving away his services is counter-productive.

Just as I’m about to start giving away my own services, by creating free teaching videos for crochet instead of being paid for classes and lessons.  I do this with a higher intent in mind, of course.  As mentioned in a previous post, I am working on building up my application to become an “Expert” at DMS. I am still looking for ideas for future videos, by the by, if you have any suggestions.

The fun part of it all is, my creative outlet has become writing about a computer network/IT guy much like my husband.  In fact, very very much like my husband.  The wife in the story might even be kind of like me.  Her dad is definitely my dad. While the story is fictional, the people are people I know. It’s the first time I’ve written something truly lifted from real people since a crazed fan/stalker thought sure my fiction was “real” back when I was in college and managed to look up and call my parents somehow to talk to them about it.  Talk about creepy.. and the only similarity in that case was that my story was about a girl who went to the same college as me. If you’re interested in an excerpt, click the “Read More” below.

Do you write about real people in your fiction, slightly altered from their own reality?  Has it ever had repercussions for you?

*[[Thanks to learning when the glassy eyed stare starts, he’s getting really talented at talking about tech subjects in a way that non-techies can understand.  Check out the blog on his site to see what I mean.]]

With the pillow over his head, Martin momentarily considered murder.  Murdering his neighbour, to be precise, who was killing the planet with his oversized hummer, had killed his wife’s flowers running them over with the damn thing, and who was right now murdering the last few moments of morning sleep with the screeching of the damn thing’s alarm.  Giving up on those last five minutes in the warmth of the bed and dragging himself upright , Martin raked a hand back through his hair. Leaning out from the bed, he slid the window shut with a quiet thump, muffling the squealing from the driveway beside the window, making him suddenly aware of other noises.  Sloshing.  Giggling. Some kind of sputtering.  The giggling sounded gleeful, which was a particularly troubling sign, since it was coming from the bathroom.
“Manda?” he called out, though he was half-aware that at this point his wife would have already headed down the hall to the kitchen, getting lunches packed and cereal poured, probably singing or whistling or some damn thing.
“No!” came the voice from the bathroom, followed by another giggle.  It wasn’t his daughter; her hair dryer could be heard from down the hallway.  At nine, he thought she was a little too young for that, but apparently she managed it every day without setting herself on fire.  So far, anyway.  That meant Braden.  And from the tone of the no, a very unhappy Braden.
It took him a moment to gather the strength to push to his feet and make his way to the door of the master bath, open just a crack, which was enough to hear renewed sloshing noises from within.  Shoving it the rest of the way open, the first thing he saw was Lucy, with her head submerged in the toilet, wet blonde hair stuck up like a spike hairdo on top of her head.  The retriever lifted her head and heaved a damp whorf in his direction, then snorfed and shook her head violently, spraying both he, and the four year old standing over the sink with a fresh dose of toilet water.  “One day, dog… one day…” he muttered, shaking the spray off of his own hands.  “Go find mommy,” he commanded, sending the creature padding off, nails ticking along the floor as she vanished. 
  “Hand it over, kiddo,” he ordered, nodding to the mostly emptied toothpaste tube in his hands.  Martin leaned over the sink, where a piece of paper was mostly buried in a pile of emptied toothpaste.  “Mind telling me what’s going on here?”  He asked, raising a brow.
Braden crinkled his nose, the same thing his mother did when she didn’t want to say something that was on her mind.  He shrugged one shoulder.  “This toothpaste give me bad breath or something?” he asked his son, reaching into the sink and drawing up the paper from the bottom, the mound of toothpaste sliding free and landing in the sink with a sick, wet splat.  He scanned the paper, the writing half obscured with blue gel smears, but enough clear to make it obvious that it was a letter to the tooth fairy.  His brow furrowed.  Had Manda told him to leave something for Braden last night?  He honestly couldn’t remember.
“I see, a political protest,” Martin offered sympathetically.  “I heard about the strike.  I guess it really reeks when stuff like that hits close to home, huh?”  Braden was looking up at him, puzzled, but still silent.  He scooped him up under the arms and sat him on the counter, turning the water on hot to try to dissolve the mound in the sink.  He wasn’t sure what that would do to the pipes, but it seemed a more viable alternative than trying to scoop it into the trash, which he would then have to remember to empty before work, or he’d come home to a blue-faced dog and likely a fluoride poisoned one as well.  As he fought to get the last of the paste left in the tube onto his toothbrush, he continued his monologue. “Really, strikes are for the betterment of the workers, but I have to say, they really can be inconvenient.  Remember when I was in Portland last year and the hotel workers were on strike and I sent you the pictures of all the dirty towels?” 
Braden giggled from his post on the counter, and Martin grinned, winked, and stuck the toothbrush in his mouth, swishing it around his teeth half-heartedly before tugging it out and continuing, “I’ll see if I can get one of those strike-breaking scabs to come by tonight, hey?” As he resumed brushing, he raised his brows and looked to Braden for an answer.  The boy grinned and nodded.  At least it was a response of some kind.  He could be grateful for that much.  Martin shook his head, spit into the sink, and rinsed his brush, splashing some of the hot water around the bowl to work on the dissolving toothpaste a bit more before reaching for his shaving gel. 
Braden had always been quiet, a strong contrast to talkative Sara, who was babbling from the start it seemed, and chattering away in full sentences months and months before her peers.  Braden hadn’t cried much as a baby, and when he did, it was a kittenish, mewling sound that was barely audible over the baby monitor.  Now, it was a triumphant day when they got five or six words out of him over the course of the hours.  Therapists and specialists alike had assured them that there was nothing wrong with their small, silent boy, and he was just quiet.  Unless of course they wanted to drug him, which they were willing to offer, they had no practical therapies to offer.  Pills were turned down flat, and his wife swore off seeing any doctors over the issue after that.
Smearing the cool foam over his face, Martin eyed his son, who was watching studiously.  After a pause and a second, more modest spray of gel from the can, Martin smeared the white goo over his son’s smooth cheeks as well, making sure to coat his upper lip with little dabs, and then reaching into the side drawer where he kept an old, blade-free razor for days like this.  With solemn seriousness, he handed it to Braden before taking out his own and getting to work. “Was it a good one you lost this time?” he asked,  tipping his head up and scraping clear his neck of whiskers before rinsing the razor under the water.  Braden turned half toward the mirror and mimicked the movements with exaggerated carefulness before opening his mouth wide and pointing at his lower jaw where the gap between two of his front teeth had widened into a hole on one side.  He peered in, examined, and nodded.  “Yep, that’s a good one for sure.  You’ll have to demand a late payment fee, too.” Ruffling Braden’s hair, the two continued their morning shave as the screeching from next door finally muted with the roar of the big hummer’s engine.
By the time Martin had finished getting himself ready for work, the happy sounds from the kitchen had multiplied.  Now it was his daughter and his wife singing together.  In his early days of marriage he’d considered it more of a curse than a blessing to share a house with a morning person.  Now he had two of them to contend with, and they were almost unbearably perky together.  He glowered as menacingly as he could manage on entering, expecting and receiving twin trilling giggles from his two girls.  His wife pushed a mug of coffee in his direction.  Much to his amusement, she didn’t need any to shine in the morning, and as she didn’t drink much her brew usually fit somewhere between tepid tea and burned water on the scale of coffee goodness.  Still, he smiled, sipped from the mug, and sat himself down in front of his waiting place at the table.  Loud crunching came from Braden, kitty-corner from him at the table.  He was clearly absorbed in whatever bright and ridiculous advertising filled the back of the box, staring intently.  For all his lack of speech, the kid had been an extremely early reader, and he wouldn’t be surprised if he was actually reading the chemical contents of the over-sugared stuff and understanding it far better than his old dad would.  At the counter, Sara was singing about being a firework, while her mother harmonized on the chorus and peeled hard-boiled eggs, slicing them deftly and passing them around without a hitch in her singing.  Martin squinted around the room and wanted to go back to bed.
With breakfast finished, he headed down through the mudroom – really just a wide hallway between the kitchen and the garage which was overstuffed with pee-wee sports gear, about fifty fashionable scarves draped everywhere, and a couple of dozen pairs of shoes to trip over.  The door next to the garage was cracked open, and after glancing back over his shoulder, he tugged it open the rest of the way, just in time to spy his father-in-law leaving a travel mug of his fantastic Kona blend on the steps. 
The travel mug was a private ritual between Martin and George… after discreetly washing the mug of his wife’s coffee down the drain in the morning, he would find a hot, divinely rich portion of the dark brew from upstairs waiting for him.  George mostly kept to himself in his efficiency apartment over the garage, but Martin blessed their choice to ask him to move in every morning. It saved him a fortune on Starbucks, not to mention the half an hour spent sitting in the drive through every morning. 
The older man grinned, straightened, and handed off the mug. “Bit early today, huh?”  He kept his voice hushed, so as not to alert the throng in the kitchen to their exchange.
“Yeah, I left some scans running last night that I want to check on before anyone else gets in today,” he managed around a sip of the steaming coffee.  Still too hot to drink, it seared his lip, making him draw back with a gasp.
“Before the monkeys start populating the zoo,” his father-in-law confirmed. George had retired from the law himself a few years before, though he’d been primarily in family law, and more the wills kind than the divorces kind, while the lawyers at the firm where Martin worked were more the high-class ambulance chaser variety. Martin chuckled and nodded, raising the travel mug in a toast, “Thanks Pops.  Don’t know how I’d make it in the morning without you.”
“Drive safe, son,” George winked and turned to head back up the stairs as Martin turned back toward the mud room and quietly slid the door to the apartment shut.  He glanced back to the kitchen; heard dishes being loaded into the washer, the last step before Manda and the kids would be headed this way, and made his own hasty way for his car before he was caught with the illicit brew.
The morning was all about ritual for Martin.  The Bluetooth headset went on his head and the coffee went in the cup holder before he backed out of the driveway, and he was listening to the calls that came in overnight before he made it to the stop sign on the corner.  Invariably, there would be one from a late-working assistant or paralegal who had accidentally deleted something they desperately needed recovered, at least one complaint about a printer, and someone complaining that they couldn’t get connected to the wireless.  Those were his favourite, if only because he loved flicking the “wireless on” switches on the lawyer’s laptops while their faces turned red.
By the time he was swiping his security badge and punching in his code, the coffee was half gone, and he’d switched from listening to messages to recording his daily to-do list using the headset, a speech to text program, and his smart phone.  He remembered when the sight of a man trudging through an office parking lot or hallways muttering to himself would have been cause for alarm, but the explosion of Bluetooth technology in the last few years had made that more than commonplace, especially in this part of town.
Inside the foyer, he made a sharp left and headed down the staircase. His den, unlike the spacious wood-paneled and richly upholstered offices upstairs, was a concrete and chain-link cave sitting adjacent to a bank of blinking servers that belched heat day and night. Even with the air-conditioner going full-blast, it was stuffy down here on the best of days, and Martin was quick to peel off his sport coat and tie and loosened the top of his shirt before sitting down.  It seemed ridiculous to have to adhere to a dress code for a five minute walk in and out of the upstairs, but failing to do so was what had caused his predecessor to be removed, opening up the job for Martin, so he wasn’t taking any chances.
Once he was settled, he flipped the monitor on in time to hear the chime for a new email. He frowned and shook his head.  Seriously, who was in this early to start pestering him?  He thought he’d given himself at least twenty minutes before even the assistants would be arriving. Muttering to himself, he clicked and began to read, his eyes growing wide, coffee cooling at his elbow as he stared in mute incomprehension.

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