I have a very pretty keyboard. It has pink, blue, purple, orange, and yellow keys. There are two shades of pink and two shades of yellow. My keyboard makes a very loud click-clack sound when I press the rounded keys. I am using it to type this blog right now and it feels so good.
I bought this keyboard in January after the Instagram algorithm decided I would be interested in a cute colorful keyboard. It was correct. I want that! The post promoted a piece asking, “Will this keyboard cure my depression?”
It was late January and I was trapped in the throes of the usual seasonal malaise, but this year was a zillion times worse. One of my college best friends died unexpectedly at the beginning of January, and suddenly nothing mattered in the same way anymore. It wasn’t that I felt sad all the time, but I couldn’t focus. Certainly not like I used to, when I did my best work at night. I used to love to sit down at my desk in the dark and get lost in my Google Docs until I forgot what time it was and went to bed too late. Too many things had gone so wrong in the last two years and now the night time when I sat down at my desk seemed scary. Then I got COVID-19 and it felt like it took me weeks to feel totally normal. My brain was so tired, but I needed the distraction of work and reporting and researching and making phone calls. When I got myself into a project, it still felt really good, but it was just so much harder to get into it and stay with it.
So this keyboard seemed like a good idea. If I had a fun and bright keyboard, it wouldn’t matter that it gets dark at 4 p.m.! If I had a keyboard that makes my fingers feel alive, I would surely be able to write great words for hours on end! So I spent two days agonizing over which color combination would help me the most, and then I ordered my happy retro keyboard and a pink wrist rest and a pink cow print mouse pad that I found on Etsy, for some extra flair.
I love the act of typing even though I am truly terrible at it. In my “info tech” class in sixth grade, I completely ignored Mr. Kinnaman’s lessons about home row and I did poorly on all our typing tests. I remember sitting in the computer lab thinking that I liked the way I typed already, with my thumbs and middle fingers and pointer fingers, so why did I need to use the other fingers? It was the same reasoning for why I boycotted learning cursive in third grade or learning stats in college. I just didn’t see it as a good use of my time or energy.
I’ve always enjoyed writing. I started with short stories and my annual Christmas card newsletter as soon as I learned how to write. I’d fill my newsletter with random thoughts and things that I’d done over the past year. When I was 9 years old, I asked for a typewriter for Christmas. I think I was probably inspired by Kit Kittredge, the American Girl doll from the Great Depression. Kit had a typewriter set you could buy as an accessory and she used it to write her own neighborhood newspaper. Luckily for me, my grandpa was a dentist and he had a big heavy typewriter that still worked, a relic from his dental practice. He gave it to me for Christmas that year and it remains the best present I’ve ever received.
I loved the loud whirring when I turned on the switch and the ding of the bell when I started a new line. I loved how the ink smelled so fresh and that the page felt warm when I took it out. I even loved making mistakes because it meant I got to hit the slash key to cross over my typos, and that just looked cool and edgy.
Here’s a sample of my early typewriter work. Some very serious content.
My beautiful new keyboard arrived a day after I ordered it, so soon that I wasn’t expecting it to be inside the package. I opened it up and gasped. It was just as fun as I expected it to be! My apartment is all bright yellows and pinks and oranges already, so my keyboard was right at home.
I unplugged my plain, flat, quiet Apple keyboard and connected my new musical rainbow. My old silver keyboard feels two-dimensional now compared to my new keyboard that actually responds to my fingertips with a bounce and a clack. I only switch to my old one when I’m doing a phone interview that I need to take a lot of notes for, because the clacking can be a bit overwhelming for speakerphone.
Oh, the clacking! I love the clacking. There is something about a loud keyboard or a busy typewriter that gets you out of your head and in the mood to let the typos start flowing. (With my new keyboard, my typos are just as bad and possibly even worse.)
Listen to her go!
I’ve typed emails and tweets and blogs on my new keyboard. I’ve taken notes and gossiped and vented with my new keyboard. I’ve planned trips and transcribed with my new keyboard. I’m typing right now! A $26 plastic keyboard isn’t a cure for grief or depression, but I think it’s helped me to find little joys and connect with who I used to be. I still feel sad on some days and I have a to-do list that feels impossible on many days, but with every punch of a cupcake-colored key, I feel like I’m getting closer.