From Where I Sit – At Least My Head didn’t Explode

I’m happy to report that my head did not explode this past weekend. Trust me, it was a real possibility. The New England Journal of Medicine would have been quick to report the phenomenon. I can see the headline now: Middle-aged Woman Takes Computer Course; sub-head, Brain Matter Everywhere.

For four years I’ve been working on a contract basis with the publisher of a tourism publication. My role has involved writing, editing, and proofing the magazine. They are taking the business in a new direction and will need more help with graphic design. I’m always looking to pick up extra work, especially if It’s interesting and can be done from my home office. Being a visual artist means I have a good eye for design fundamentals like colour and proportion. I am also attentive to detail and deliver what I promise.

What I lack is experience with a graphic design program. My research tells me that InDesign and a Mac are the industry standards. Slight problem, though: I don’t own a Mac or have any experience using one.

Couple that with an intensive two-day workshop through a university extension program and you can see why my head was in jeopardy.

Prior to the course I spent an hour or so with a fine young man at an Edmonton Apple store. He showed me all the bells and whistles and the (apparent) ease with which the Mac does things. He recommended the 27-inch screen for my needs. Hell, we just got rid of our 26-inch TV; this thing would be huge.

From the first day in class, I was struggling to learn the finer points of using a Mac while watching and listening to the instructor try to explain what she calls a very ?robust? program. I also attempted to translate the foreign language she was speaking into something that would make sense to me weeks later when I was home alone and in trouble. It wasn’t pretty.

As the day wore on I became aware of the ache in my neck and shoulders. Trying to see this huge monitor through the bottom of my progressive lenses was putting my neck in a very awkward position. We talked about ergonomics. Was I about to spend $2,000 on a desktop setup that would hurt me? Surely not all Mac customers are the young with perfect vision.

So now here’s what I need to do. Talk to a salesman and find out if the monitor can move up and down rather than merely tilting. Try a 30 day free trial of InDesign 5.5. Decide whether It’s better to buy the current version while I still remember a thing or two, or whether I should wait for the scheduled version 6 and risk forgetting everything. Oh yeah?and learn the program. All without my head exploding, from where I sit.

Hazel Anaka’s first novel is Lucky Dog. Visit her website for more information or follow her on Twitter @anakawrites.

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