I wonder how these two words make you feel. They have been known to strike dread in the heart, to cause sweaty palms and instant memory loss. To name but three. The many online places where we choose to log in these days do not help the situation. Personally, I have email, Twitter, Facebook, a photography website or three, access to my utilities bills, online banking (with more than one bank) and some other places where I only log in occasionally. I am sure there are more; I just can’t recall what they are right now. Mostly, I use the same username and password. Oh dear, now I’ll have to go and shoot myself. No, not really. But I have a limited range of passwords, to match my rapidly declining memory powers.
Quite often, my username is actually my email address. Or the first part - before the @ - of my email address. But there is never a clue as to which it will be. I generally type in what I think it is and hope for the best. Mostly, I get it right. But, ask me what my online banking number is, actually ask me to tell you it, without the box in front of me on the screen, into which I can type it, and I am stumped. (Not that I would actually tell you it of course, this is all theoretical thinking.) Completely stumped. Well, not quite completely. I know that there are two zeros in it somewhere, or maybe even two sets of two zeros, but my brain does not seem to be capable of producing the goods without the prompt of an empty box on a screen.
I wonder if I should be worried about this. I wonder if anyone else worries about this. Is there a sort of Pavlovian response by the brain to the on-screen prompt? I suppose there must be. And since I log into many sites every day, it is actually more likely to be muscle memory (those of my fingers rather than my brain) which is coming into play. In the same way that my fingers “remember” where to place themselves on the frets for the tunes I play on the mandolin (sometimes). I don’t consciously think about each note, about what comes next. If I start doing that, I trip and stumble. And fall. It’s the same with remembering usernames and passwords, I think. Don’t think too hard about it. It’s a bit like looking directly at a star – you see it better if you look slightly off to the side. Or trying to solve a crossword clue – let your brain relax and go off at a tangent. Which seems to come quite easily to me, somehow.
Today I am doing something I've never done before. Not bunjee-jumping or skydiving or even clothes shopping with enthusiasm. No, none of the above. Nor am I planning a trip to the Grand Canyon, sea kayaking around the Inner Hebrides, or going on a whale-watching cruise off the Isle of Skye. No, indeed, I am sitting with my laptop on my lap, listening to the gentle snoring of two elderly dogs, while simultaneously taking part in a Virtual Open Mic session. There. Did I slip that in quietly enough? Or did you you hear me stamping down the hall towards you?
I've never been to a real live Open Mic session, so I thought I'd ease myself in gently. This one is not even occurring in the city where I live, but some hundred odd miles away. But of course, since it's virtual, that makes no difference at all. The difference is that I don't actually have to stand up in front of a room full (or even half full) of strangers and read out something I have written. No, I submitted three pieces a few hours before the deadline on Sunday evening, and now they are magically appearing on the website, in six episodes throughout today. This is the first time that Inky Fingers have organised such an event. The cafe where they usually meet is out of action this evening, hence the venue change.
I did experience the thrill of seeing a wee story I wrote in Episode 1. I read it out loud to myself and the snoring dogs. And they carried on snoring in the silence, accompanied only by the ticking clock. I posted a link to the Episode on Facebook and a friend said they'd enjoyed it. Hurrah! But I have no idea if anyone else enjoyed it. I hope so.