The Best of Times, the Worst of Times
by Yasmine Phoenix
|Photo coutesy of Vinay Tadepalli Unsplash|
For years I got up, showered, dressed, drove the kids to school, and then joined the masses riding the electric train to Chicago to work. Sweltering summers and below zero wind chill I walked to my office. Of course, I enjoyed city events during lunch time being in downtown Chicago was great. Then at the end of the day reverse commute back on the train, pick up kids, and then home to cook dinner. Friday was family pizza night.
Now I work from home, I don’t have to get all dressed up and drive in the insane Atlantic traffic. And my kids are grown. I’m also an author so sometimes I go to a local café or Starbucks. It’s an opportunity to get out of my four walls and interact on a somewhat personal level with people. In other words, listen in on random conversations.
Technology. ‘It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.’ to paraphrase Captain Kirk in Star Trek, Wrath of Khan who stole it from Charles Dickens. Writers are introverts and today’s technology is for us the best of times and the worst of times. We don’t have to leave our homes – almost ever. Everything we need is an App away from our finger. We can live our total existence – At. Home.
Want to move? You can sell your home online, buy another one online, and have a service pack and deliver your possessions to the new home. Online, folks.
We write, research, submit, publish, and promote our books from our desks. Gone are the days of submitting via snail mail, traipsing to the post office to mail synopsis, first three chapters, and query. We submit everything online.
It gets even better. Think about everything you can do from the comfort of your home, your bed, your car. Shopping malls are having a difficult time competing with online shopping and many stores are closing. When in Chicago, I go to Water Tower, sit, drink Starbucks, and watch shoppers, mostly young people, tourists, or city residents’ shop. I ride the CTA. Everyone is praying, their heads bowed, nope they’re staring down at their phones. It’s not just the young, older riders are playing games or are on Facebook.
How about attending a basketball or football game? Tickets are sky high, You have to be searched to get in. And it’s damn cold. Why not watch with friends? At. Home. The line to the bathroom is shorter. And of course – order food to be delivered. There’s Apps for that.
Hungry? Grocery shop? I hate walking down every aisle often impulse buying. Now I put together my Kroger grocery list, pay, and schedule a pick up day and time. And I don’t have to get out of my car. Whole Foods, Instacart deliver groceries as well. If I still lived in Chicago, I’d surely take advantage of this in the winter. At. Home.
Order out? Pick up or delivery. Restaurants, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell deliver. And we once believed the drive-thru was awesome. Blue Apron, Hello Fresh, Jenny Craig, online meal services that setup meals according to your dietary requirements and then delivered to your home. Even comes with cooking directions. Kroger and Publix have started meal service programs. Grub Hub, Door Dash are utilized by restaurants to deliver from a variety of restaurants. You can order Chinese, Thai, American, whatever and have it all delivered. Wait sixty minutes for a table? Late from work? Your family’s dinner can be timed to meet you at the front door. At. Home. And once we thought pizza delivery was a big thing.
Need a doctor? You can arrange – with an App a consultation with a physician via your smartphone. Your medication can be delivered. At. Home.
Need a car? In case you want to venture out of your home. There’s an App. When I lived in Chicago, I used Zipcar. I’d set up a location, day and time for a car. Car came with a gas card and a special parking space. I drove the Prius across the street from where I lived. I had a choice of vehicles luxury, compact. I test drove different makes in case I wanted to buy a car. Did you know you can purchase a car online and have it delivered? At. Home.
Don’t need a car? Lyft and Uber. I used both when I first moved to Atlanta because I had no idea where the hell anything was. Still don’t know, but being driven around gave me the opportunity to learn where places were and sightsee at the same time.
|Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay|
Let’s not forget Amazon. Believe me I’ve tried. The bane of my existence and yours too, admit it. I’d probably ball up in a fetal position if it disappeared. From books, to toilet tissue, toys, small appliances, clothing, food, handbags (yeah I know), items you didn’t even know you needed/wanted can be found and delivered – free (Prime) to your front door. I’ve found myself staring at the Amazon delivery app following the delivery route as they make their way to my front door. I think that would be called stalking if I weren’t paying for the goods. It’s amazing how many empty Amazon boxes I see on a weekly basis in the recycle bin. Prime. When I needed a particular type of bandage after my knee surgery, I couldn’t find it at any nearby drug store. I looked it up on Amazon and in two days it was delivered.
When my daughter’s orders are delivered – I’m not saying she shops a lot on Amazon, but she shops a lot on Amazon. At first, I was concerned but I understand why. She’s a busy professional with an active child and little free time. Having it delivered she saves precious time. As a writer the same applies. Need notebooks, goody bags, and of course copies of your book. There’s Amazon self-publishing.
Alexa. She’s in a lot of homes. Yeah, mine too. Echo show. I tolerate her. Don’t trust her. My eight-year-old granddaughter has Alexa and damn if mine doesn’t respond quicker to her. Netflix and Prime Video. Replacing traditional networks. You can subscribe to individual networks. More innovative and interesting series – no commercials. Plus note only can you watch at home – wait for it – also on your phone, iPad, or Tablet.
Hotspots. Remember when we made fun of the name ‘iPad’ when first introduced by Apple? I just binged Good Omens on Prime. I’m a Terry Pratchett fan. Networks run the same programs over and over and over again. Boring. On Prime Video I can watch the entire Farscape and any other beloved series without commercial interruption. At. Home.
Have you experienced or watched someone when the Internet goes down? Panic, heart palpations, loss of appetite, loss of mind. The world coming to an end? You’re trapped in your home, you’re all alone, isolated you’ll never receive another email again – and that’s just the first ten minutes.
|Image by Jan Vašek from Pixabay|
Physical proximity is no longer necessary. We have to make time to be out with friends. The smartphone, smarter than us. Tethered to this little beast that weighs four to six ounces. We text each other even if we’re in the same building. Attending a workshop and a friend is sitting on the other side of the room? Text them. We conduct our lives on the phone and sometimes it plays out like a soap opera with no filter. Who hasn’t heard conversations that belonged behind closed doors? We write on our phones, save the document, send via email, and edit. Or play Candy Crush.
Face it we’re trapped in our homes, and its paradise. Need to clean? Roomba.
Next time you’re out with friends, count how many phones are on the table. One of my Sophisticated Ladies makes me put my phone away when we are together. It must be in my purse. So far, she hasn’t slapped my iWatch on my wrist. I FaceTime my cousin. At. Home. All from our personal space – no pants required.
For my call center job, we have meetings in an online meeting room. Easy way to get one hundred agents from all over the country together. One day we’ll have dinner with friends, each of us in our home, chatting away to holograms of each other.
You can hire fitness trainers to come to your home. Or…. I just saw a commercial for a fitness program called Mirror. It’s an interactive exercise program. No more going to the gym when you can work out in front of a six-foot mirror with others, in front of their Mirror, in real time classes or take one of the videotaped classes and then log in and post your results. No social interaction? If your friends have Mirror it’ll be just like going to the gym. Except you’ll be At. Home. In my sci-fi novel, my protagonist tries to avoid her fitness coach who appears in her home via hologram to remind her that she’s missed classes. The future is now people.
Not to be morbid but the old tradition of viewing the deceased in their home could return. Never. Leave. Home.
Like I said, it’s the best of times, we should embrace the goodies, especially now in these scary worst of times. When life is better and the bans are lifted, put on clothes, get out, enjoy the arts, look at real people, eat food in a real restaurant, and enjoy the world. Besides your Amazon order will be waiting when you arrive home.
If fantasy and futuristic romance are your thing then Book Two in my Witches Brew series, a stand alone novel, is a perfect read while you’re at home. Here’s a peek.
When love stalls, who are you going to call? Red a mystical and magical red dress created to help women discover love and recognize their self-worth.
Delphine Richards is the founder and CEO of Plum Events a successful party planning company in Chicago. The holidays are the busiest and Valentine’s Day is the last one of the season. Her employees work hard to create spectacular parties and stay out of Delphine’s way. She hates this day for lovers.
Kevin Poe, her fiancé, broke up with her a year ago on Valentine’s Day. Since then she’s dedicated her life to growing her business. Love won’t destroy her again.
Kevin Poe loves Delphine but her constant interference in his teaching career drove a wedge between them. When one of Kevin’s students needed him, Delphine neglected to tell him. That was the final straw. If Delphine couldn’t stop trying to change him, then they shouldn’t be together.
Enter Red, a mystical and magical red dress sent to help Delphine rediscover love and realize she can’t control everyone and everything – including herself.
Yasmine ‘Yas’ Phoenix was born and raised in Virginia but calls Chicago home. She loves tennis, professional and amateur and plays in local leagues. Her writing block is the four major Grand Slams, Indian Wells, and other tournaments. No, she can’t tape then watch. Yas loves to read, especially murder mysteries. She is a Terry Pratchett, Discworld fan, and scans the news for potential plot ideas. Melding romance and paranormal in her stories is her goal. Yas always asks the question, “What if?” She is a sucker for old black and white movies like Casablanca on one hand, and Deadpool on the other. She believes her family is her greatest gift and support.