Crossing the Moat

“Well, if you’re the King of the Castle when it comes to blogs, I’m not even in the castle,” I said emphatically. “In fact, I don’t know where the castle is because I don’t know what a blog is.”

We, the twenty-plus students of English 015, were crowded into a computer lab instead of our usual spacious classroom because we were going to learn how to set up our own blogs. Michelle had just asked how many of us had ever done a blog before and Mike had responded with, “Oh yeah, I did, maybe four or five by now. So, I guess that makes me the King of Blogs!”

Everyone laughed at his humorous boast.

In keeping with his castle theme, I had retorted with the above comment and said that I not only needed help to find the castle but crossing the moat too.

Although I had initially freaked out at the thought of working in a computer lab and setting up a blog, Michelle had assured me that if none of the students were interested in helping me in class, she would do so afterward. With that assurance relieving my anxiety, I decided humor was the best way to get the help I needed. But I need not have worried about receiving immediate help from my classmates.

When I muttered, “Oh phooey, I can’t even find that stupid pointer thingy,” fingers darted into my visual field like a flock of birds and voices floated around my head as gently as feathers.

“It’s right here.”

“It’s down at the bottom.”

“You’ll need to move it up and to the right.”

“The button you want is in the upper right corner.”

Allie, the kindest teenager I’ve ever met, said, “If you give me your mouse, I’ll see if I can make that pointer bigger.”

I gladly took my hand off of it.

When Michelle was satisfied that we had all gotten to Penn State’s blog site, we were instructed to click on the dashboard button.

“Dashboard? Is there a car here? On my screen? So now there’re not only computers in this castle but cars too?” I groaned.

Giggling followed.

“No, this is a different kind of dashboard but it is control-central for your blogs just like a dashboard is for a car,” Michelle laughed.

By that time, Allie found that she could not change the settings so I had given up trying to keep up and feverishly took notes as my blog was driven by others. That was fine with me; I had not manned any kind of dashboard for twenty years anyway.

I did manage to type in a few sentences when Allie said, “Okay, I got my blog ready to go and yours is ready for you to type something.”

“Well, I would but what am I supposed to say?” I said hesitantly.

“It doesn’t really matter, just some sort of welcome,” Michelle said. “If you don’t like it, you can always go back to your dashboard and change it.”

Oh, sure, I thought to myself. Just like that, I could go back to the dashboard and change it. Yeah, right.

With trembling fingers, I typed the first thing that came to mind, “Welcome to my blog. Amazing! I actually managed this,” and dropped my hands back into my lap.

With a few clicks, those words became immortalized on the screen. “See, right there is what you wrote,” Allie said as she smiled at me. “You did it.”

“No, you did it. And I will be forever grateful,” I told her.

But I did savor the success by staring at those immortalized words a few seconds longer. It felt as thrilling as the first time I sat behind a car’s dashboard. I couldn’t wait to get home and see them again on my large monitor.

As I left the computer lab that day, though, I felt as if I’d traveled through centuries. I had followed the voices of my classmates to find the castle and crossed the moat. I’d been catapulted through time to reach the castle, where computers and cars had collided, and then coughed out to land back in the twenty-first century. No wonder my brain was fried.

The homework assignment sounded easy enough, all I had to do was write at least fifty words about myself on the “About” page of my new blog. I didn’t need to worry about locating the castle or crossing its moat; all I needed to do was to find the dashboard again. Simple, right?

My exhausted brain could not figure out why it seemed as if I’d only learned enough to know that everyone knew more than I did but not enough to know what I didn’t know or what questions to ask.


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