Old School Paper Writing and Feeling Old

Today’s “story from a ways back” is brought to you by 80’s radio.  The best place to find all your high school and college memories.

Yesterday as I was shuttling my little people hither and yon, the song “Like a Prayer” by Madonna came on the radio.  It immediately took me back to college.   And then to an afternoon a few months ago.

The song came on the radio that day, and I looked over at Aub, who was riding shotgun.

“That song goes back to my junior year, I think.”

She nodded and kept looking at her phone. “I wrote a paper about that song,” I told her, glancing over to gauge her response.

“Really?” she asked.

“Yeah, it was for a Religion class with Dr. Ledbetter.”

“Huh,” she replied, finally looking up.  “About the song?”

“Well, about the song and the video combined, I guess,” I told her.  “It took me over a week to write it.”

That got her attention.

“What?  Why?”

“I had to go over to the Rec Room every day around six to catch the video on the top video countdown on MTV on the big screen TV in there.  I had to hurry over to eat supper and then get down there before it started, because you never knew if that video was going to be at the beginning or closer to the end.  I’d sit and watch and take notes.  I went back several nights in a row before I had what I needed to write it.”

Ahem.  I might as well have been speaking Greek.

“You had to do what?  Wait now, you…..well, I mean, whaaa–I’m confused.”

Well of course you are, baby girl.

Kids these days.

If I were to write the same paper today–it was about the spirituality in the song and video, as best as I can remember–I could pop it out in just a couple of hours or so.  Suffice to say, it wouldn’t have been one of those all-nighters that I needed to keep doughnuts around to reward myself for every hour or so that I stayed awake writing.  (Hypothetically speaking, of course.) First of all, this was back when MTV actually showed Music Videos.  (Not that I’m aware of what they show now, but I’ve heard things.)  It was back before there was free cable in the dorms, where I could have watched it in the comfort of my room.  Back before the invention of the DVR, so I could have recorded it to watch at any time and not had to rush through my suppers all week long.  Wait, with DVR, I could have replayed the parts I needed clarity on over.  And over.  And over.  Until I had everything I needed.

But wait, there’s more.

This was before the advent of YouTube.


I know.

This was before we could pull up every possible music video with the exception of those by the artist Mr. Garth Brooks by going to a website on the world wide web and typing a few key words. Yes, there once was such a time, my friends. I had a computer while I was in college, thanks to my Daddy’s guidance and a gift from my Granny.  It served me very well.  But internet? Puh-lease.  I was lucky it wasn’t one of those wall-to-wall units.  It had a dot-matrix printer with the paper that fed through with tear-off holes on the sides, for goodness’ sake. As I listened to the song yesterday and caught my littles’ glancing with more than a little curiosity at their Mama belting out a song that wasn’t from the “Frozen” soundtrack or sung by anyone previously or currently known as a Disney Channel star, I thought about that paper, and what it would be like to write it now. I could totally do it in one sitting.  On a laptop.

Pull up video on YouTube.  Check.

Watch a couple of times, making notes.  Leave the tab up for quick reference.

Look up on Bible Gateway or another scripture website the key words from the notes I took to find Bible passages that will help me connect the meaning behind the song and video with Scripture.   (I think I used a Bible with a concordance the first time around.  It was neither quick nor efficient.)

Take notes from the Bible passages.

Click open the YouTube tab.  Watch the video one more time.

*Pause to check Facebook notification and comment on the cute pictures my roommate just posted.  Text my friend back who asked if I was about to head over for supper in the dining hall.*

Sort my thoughts, make some semblance of an outline.

Open up Word or a document file.  While I wait, message my classmate that I’m almost done with this paper.  Score!

Begin typing.  (MOST useful class I took in high school.  Hands down.  Thank you, Mrs. Pearson.)

Have the computer proofread for me.  (My old computer could sort of do that–it thought “toady” was an acceptable word so that didn’t go so well a time or two.)

Save it periodically as I type, as I probably would have learned my lesson before then.   I hope.

Save the final copy.

Open up my email account.

Compose an e-mail to Dr. Ledbetter.  Attach my paper to send.  Press SEND.



I don’t think my girl and her crew get how easy things are today.  Almost all knowledge and entertainment (with the exception of Mr. Garth Brooks’ videos–this troubles me greatly, y’all) are literally at their fingertips.  Just a few minutes ago, I opened up a tab and looked up “advent” to make sure I was using it correctly. By moving nothing more than my fingers.


I know I sound old, but when I think about how different such a simple thing as writing a research paper is today it blows me away.  My next child in line to go to college will be there in nine years.  What?  I wonder how much more advanced things will be.

Maybe the computer will write their papers for them.

Y’all. I’m old.

And on that note, I’m going to bed.



2 thoughts on “Old School Paper Writing and Feeling Old”

  1. Yesterday, my son wanted to see if his neighbor friend was home. I suggested he call and, if they were home, plan to get together after lunch. He looked at me with a blank stare and said, “What do you mean, call?” He’s ten, he owns no devices whatsoever, and yet a simple telephone call was incomprehensible. Kids these days….

    And you had a computer! Very fancy.

    1. Thanks for sharing that giggle. I suggest to my college teen that she could call so and so, and I usually get that same blank stare, and in the tone of “have YOU lost YOUR mind?” she says, “Umm. No. I can just text them.” It’s a whole new world, that’s for sure.
      It felt fancy to have the computer. When my sister entered college my senior year, they started giving entering freshmen a computer. An Apple, I think. That didn’t last long though, from what I can recall.
      Thanks for reading and sharing your story!

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