Quick Takes #36: Home Alone Edition

1.

My computer was running more and more slowly. Then I started getting weird messages about how my hard drive was gone (but it wasn’t). And finally my computer started shutting itself down and/or redirecting me to random cooking and decorating websites when I was online. So I knew that I had to give up on my attempts to self-medicate and just bring it in for repairs. (I’ve since found out that this probably relates to a spam email I accidentally opened way back when, apparently they really do give your computer viruses.) Of course this also happened to be the week that my husband was gone on business, and the kids and I all got colds and couldn’t go anywhere. So I was at home for an entire week with no contact with the outside world. (Well, except for the sister who answered my phone call and let me talk for a hour and a half, I love you sis!) It’s pretty wild stuff living without a computer, so I thought I’d write about my week without one. : )
2.
You read more books.
I am always reading several library books at once, but this week I finished them all in record time. I finished 4 1/2 large books, including “For Your Own Good” by Alice Miller which I highly recommend.
(My evenings without computer were mostly spent reading, TV is just that boring for me. Except that show on how elephants, dolphins, puppies develop in the womb, that was fascinating.)
3.
Time crawls.
Seriously, without the World Wide Web (or at least your latest writing project) to distract you time literally crawls. For example. I had just spent an eternity playing the kids new favorite make-believe game, the one where they all pretend to be babies and I am the mommy. They roll around on the floor, and cry, and crawl stiffly into things and “get hurt” and suck on their thumbs and talk in baby talk and generally just make a spectacle of themselves. And I am the mommy who runs around and takes care of all of them, reading them baby books, comforting “hurt” babies, and making a big deal of the “fact” that they are all “my little babies”. I was about to lose my sanity, so I told them that I needed to make dinner (figuring it was at least 4:30 PM by now) and told them to all go play a different game. I walked into the kitchen and found that it was only 1:50 PM. IT WASN’T EVEN 2 O’CLOCK YET!
4.
You think your house will be cleaner.
So I had several hours added to my day that are usually spent writing or reading or chatting on my computer. This meant the controlled chaos at my house would be conquered. I would have enough time on my hands to make my house look like those Home and Garden ads my diseased computer had redirected me to.
So I cleaned. I scrubbed the bathroom, I picked up all the toys and organized them, I swept the house and washed all the dishes (on second thought, this is probably stuff that most people have under control, but not me.) I even spent several hours in our laundry room/family closet sorting, purging, putting away summer clothing and taking out winter clothing. And when the kids wanted to paint, we went out and finger painted poster board on the driveway to preserve my pristine kitchen. I was sure this was the beginning of a new era.
5.
Your house won’t be cleaner.
So yeah, no such luck. It seems one room will still get trashed while you are busy cleaning another room. Dishes and laundry are still as phenomenally boring as ever, so why do them more than is necessary to live decently? And by the end of my computer less week, I was huddled on the couch engrossed in a book and I let the kids go wild in the my kitchen. Where they pulled out every pot and pan, and filled each of them toys, stuffed animals, potholders, popsicle sticks and stickers. So we are back to controlled chaos.
6.
You live more in the moment.
Probably the coolest thing I learned this week. I found that I am more capable of closing my book than closing my computer. Maybe it’s the concrete nature of words on a page, but when my kids bombarded me with requests for snacks or games, I was able to stick in a bookmark and address their needs right away. I spent more uninterrupted sessions just sitting with them, hearing them, tickling them and reading books with them. Bedtime was more relaxed for some reason.
There was no email to get back to. No half-written essay fighting to get out of my brain. No great blog post to comment on quickly before it was old news.
This has reminded me that there are far too many times that I will say “just a minute” and then let that minute stretch in 15 or 20 minutes spent finishing whatever I was doing on my computer before I get up and engage with my family. And I really liked the freedom of being able to stop. right. now. So I am challenging myself to be able to close my computer when I need to, and since commenting on blog posts seems to be the worst culprit, that may mean a bit less commenting from me. I’m willing to miss key moments online if that means being there for key moments in real life.
7.
You miss everyone.
I missed you! I missed posting, I missed all your thoughtful comments and encouragement, I missed laughing on facebook and getting emails, and reading your thought-provoking blogs. And when I appeared on facebook last night some of you said that you missed me, and that made me smile. : ) I am glad to be back!! You guys are a great part of my community!
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