Reverb13 Day Fifteen: Sensory Input

Give us a sensory tour of 2013. How would you describe the year that’s passing in terms of:


Words. I saw many words in many different media. The words of authors from ages past printed across the yellowed pages of used and long forgotten books I purchased at used book stores by the bag. I saw words printed in brand new books, written by authors still living, in fonts unknown to the writers of the used books. I saw the words of fellow local authors in my writing salon, printed on common computer paper, along with the words in red ink I wrote upon them, offering my suggestions and concerns.

I also saw my own words as they blinked into existence across both my desktop screen and that of my lap top as I worked on novels and short stories and a stage play. Plus I saw my own hideous pencil scribblings, in print, scratched across the pages of a poetry journal I bought in an effort to reignite my poetry writing. Earlier in the year is was the chaotic ink loops and swirls of a journal I kept, in cursive, (a style I had not written in since childhood.)


All of them from previous years, but more intently processed. The changed nature of common noises such as music I have owned for years, the voices of people I know and that of myself, and weather, but with an ear more attentive. I heard, (or at least attempted so to do) with a greater presence, a willingness to internalize, and not merely notice the sounds around me.

All of this made easier sometimes by my willingness as always to embrace the sounds of silence.


The aroma of hopefully somewhat healthier food choices over the last year, as I attempt to improve my diet. Smells of fruits, wheats, grains, and the odorless purity of water as beverage. The olfactory profile of solid nourishment.


In perhaps direct contrast to my previous answer, this year my have the slight taste of baked goods, as I tried to make a few such items myself this year. Not on a regular basis, but given my propensity to fail at cooking entrees and side dishes I have this year, (particularly last month during Thanksgiving) attempted to be a bit more fanciful in the dessert field. I think perhaps that by so doing, and becoming a competent baker, I can ignore what a bad cook I am. As will other people, I am sure, if I am known to bring dessert. A long way to go in this regard, but I sense improvement on the horizon for 2014.


I could say the touch of a family hug, or cleansing purity of a rainstorm on my skin. All of those are acceptable, and probably the more poetic answer for the “touch” of 2013. Ad of course, truth be told, they are probably the more important touches. But I allow myself to move outside the realm of the profound and obvious (or the profoundly obvious?) and answer with…my computer keyboard.

This keyboard in particular, which I have been using for close to 15 years, is on its way out at last. My computer is ancient, and I will be replacing it in the New Year. Unlike the last time I got a new computer, (and threw away its own lousy keyboard), I probably won’t be keeping this current one after the transition.

So as much as anything else, the “touch” of 2013 is a tribute to the feel of a keyboard long past its prime, but on which I have written 85% or so of my words since college. Nearly all of my fiction has been crafted with this Smithsonian piece made by Compaq. (Remember them? I never even owned a Compaq computer, just the keyboard.)

I am used to the worn smoothness of each key. The scratched up and dented “N” key. The exact spacing of the rows and letters and buttons on it. The course plastic of the casing. The angle at which it slants when the tiny “legs” are deployed. (I can’t type without them up.) The futility of running a card between the keys in an effort to remove the dust and dirt.

All of that will almost certainly be gone with the new computer. I may hold on to this old keyboard, if it works with the new computer, setting aside the new keyboard until such time as this one finally breaks down. But even if I do so, 2013 may be the year of this keyboard. Doesn’t sound like much, but to a writer, his tools are significant beyond their mere utility.


  1. Kat McNally

    A true writer’s response!

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