Joanne Palmer: My bad breakup with my Mac |

Joanne Palmer: My bad breakup with my Mac

Joanne Palmer

In 1989, Joanne Palmer left a publishing career in Manhattan and has missed her paycheck ever since. She is a mom, weekly columnist for the Steamboat Pilot & Today, and the owner of a property management company, The House Nanny. Her new book "Life in the 'Boat: How I fell on Warren Miller's skis, cheated on my hairdresser and fought off the Fat Fairy" is now available in local bookstores and online at or

— In a moment of temporary insanity, I decided my morning routine needed a change, a shakeup, an about-face.

I like to think I'm not a creature of habit, but for the last few years, I've started my day by reading my e-mail while sipping a cup of coffee. After checking my e-mail, I scanned my bank balance, the headlines of the paper, my Facebook page and anything else that captured my fancy, like, or I'd long suspected this was not the best start to my day, but after a few failed attempts to change my ways I surrendered to my addiction.

Then along came an article in The New York Times about the brain's need for down time, the restorative effects of nature and the addictive nature of technology. I decided to redouble my efforts to break my morning computer habit.

It wasn't easy. Tempers flared and feelings were hurt. Read on to find out what happened.

I stumble out of bed and there she is waiting for me — Miss Mac, my pretty white MacBook on the dining room table. Overnight she has learned to speak. She croons to me in a sweet, tantalizing voice:

"Open me. I need attention. You've ignored me all night long.

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"Yoo-hoo, time to check your e-mail."

"Don't start with me," I replied. "You say one e-mail, but I know better. One thing leads to another."

"C'mon, one little e-mail," she pleaded.

She then powered herself on, something that had never happened before.

"One little e-mail, huh?" I thought. "What will it be? Some strange person offering millions of dollars if I just sign over the deed to my house? Lose 10 pounds by taking a little pill? A new adult video game? A new fall stock-up sale? How to stop your dog's annoying bark?"

"My, my, my. Didn't we get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning?" she said to me. "There are other things waiting for you …"

I swear she winked at me.

"You are going to lure me in," I countered. "Do I really need to know Michael Douglas has a benign throat tumor, Britney might be engaged as a publicity stunt or Bristol Palin joined 'Dancing With the Stars?'"

"I see you've morphed into an intellectual snob overnight. You no longer care about popular culture. You no longer are looking for column ideas. You only care about world affairs and the deficit. OK, smarty pants, be that way. But how about the weather? Everyone is interested in the weather. It's raining now. Aren't you interested in reading the forecast so you know whether or not to take an umbrella?"

"I don't even own an umbrella," I told her. "I'm going to change my morning routine. I am replacing you with exercise."

"What? You are abandoning me for exercise? You are treating me like I have a virus. I am a Mac. I never once have gotten a virus. I am in perfect health, and yet you treat me like I'm a leper."

And with that, Miss Mac powered herself down. Further proof that computers are temperamental.

I stomped upstairs and hung up a pile of clothes that has been nesting in the corner of my bedroom. I made a sandwich to bring to work. I went on a long walk in the rain with the dog. I remembered to take my vitamins, and I even started a load of laundry.

And that was that. It has been five days, and we are still estranged. In the morning, I walk the dog and she sulks. Fortunately, she relented long enough so I could type this column. Hopefully next week we will have made up and I will have typing privileges.

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