Monday, June 7, 2010

How Can You Miss Me If I Never Go Away?

On Saturday, Chloe and I went to the Friends of the Bartow County Library used book sale.  We had two goals in mind.  I wanted to score some of the long list of books I want to read.  She sought books she knew she'd have to read now that she's officially changed her major to English/History.  Don't ask.  I find it's better not to ask.

We left with an overflowing box and our collective wallets only $15 lighter and for a good cause.  We snagged things ranging from a paperback copy of Junot Diaz's The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao to the Cliff Notes of The Tempest.  We plucked several classics from the tables holding all those glorious books.  Shakespeare, Edith Wharton, more Jane Austen, Sartre, DeMaurier (can you believe I've never read Rebecca?), Tom Robbins, Steinbeck, Katherine Anne Porter, Joan Didion's The Year of Magical Thinking, Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, Uncle Tom's Cabin, some Agatha Christie, The Portable Hawthorne (with which to torture MathMan) and a mess of southern literature.

Chloe has a southern lit class next semester.  She's been reading Eudora Welty already this summer.  And she's almost as big a fan of William Faulkner as I am.  Did I ever tell you that during our first year of marriage, MathMan and I were still in school?  I had to read several Faulkner short stories and moaned incessantly the entire time.  It got so bad that MathMan suggested I drop the class and pick up a nice Calculus class instead.  At least then he could help me.  And with those words began our first "domestic incident" involving crockery and footwear.

So in addition to the pile of books I've borrowed from the library (two Dorothy Sayers mysteries, some kid lit and some teen lit), I've now got an even larger pile of my own books to read.  Add to those the few left over from last year's book sale that I never got around to reading and well.....

Time.  I need more of it.  I tried to devise a time machine, but got stabby and gave up after I electrocuted myself for the third time.  Maybe a change in habits would free up some of my time.

"I wonder what would happen if I disconnected from the world for thirty days and just read and wrote."

What in the hell compels me to say such things out loud and to MathMan?  Instead of seeing this as a cry for help or attention, he saw it as a good thing.  "I think you should give it a try."  It was an evil grin spreading across his face, I don't care what he says in any future deposition.

I spent the next hour and a half wondering what his ulterior motive could be for wanting me away from the computer and especially the internets.  We did just recently purchase that life insurance policy for me.

I immediately started backpedaling.  "Oh, well, I mean, I'd still have to blog a couple of times a week.  And check the jobs worksite at least once a day.  And my email.  Lots of people get in touch with me that way."  By the time I'd finished, I'd concluded that what would be best would be if I simply put myself on a social media diet - 30 minutes a day for Twitter and Facebook.  Because it's on those two sites that I waste the most time.  I can sit down at 1:14 p.m. and next thing I know the cats are parading around my office carrying their food bowls in their tiny mouths and I have no idea where my family is as I gaze into the dark night.

And then I wonder, could I do it?  Am I capable of going offline for thirty days?  It's rather like forsaking sugar for this addict.  I might be able to do it if I know I have one day off per week.  In this case, though, it would be one day on.

Even the New York Times thinks it might be a good idea.  Not just for me, of course, but for all of us.  I hate you, NY Times.

I spent much of this weekend rolling the idea around in my noggin.  The kids are incredulous, MathMan is encouraging bordering on nagging, the cats are disdainful.  As usual.  The new friend I met at the Ross Diner lunch counter thought it would be a great idea especially if I meant I came to town and had lunch with him a few days a week.

I'm certain that I will require sedatives by Thursday.

But I'm going to do it.  I'm going to close my Twitter window and swear off Tweetdeck, turn off the sm - esses.  I'll have to figure out how to check the jobs websites and my email without straying, but it's not that difficult.

I think it's an experiment worth trying.  I want to read these books.  I want to write.  I know for a fact that when I have access to social networking open on my computer, my ability to focus suffers.

And yes, yes, we've been through this before - best laid plans and all that.  But this time I'm making my serious face. That's the difference right there.  The serious face.

Thirty days.  One day online per week to check in with you guys and my tweeting friends and Facebook.  I'll blog on Sundays.  I'll cry and throw things and chew holes through pillows the rest of the days of the week.

I know most of you have more self-control than I do so it's not such a big deal, but do you think you could do it?  Could you go thirty days offline?  Could you go six days at a stretch like I'm going to do?  And if you did, what would you do with that time?

See you Sunday,



  1. crap. just about the time I'm ready to get back ON the innerwebs... well, at least the blogging part.

    I'm about ready to unplug from the Twitterverse and I just got there! and FB... well, I don't play any of the games and it still eats up too much time in the name of "checking up on people"

    Let me think about it. In the meantime, good luck. Love you. See you on the other side.

  2. I have almost NO self control. This is why *my* novel hasn't gotten anywhere.

    Why not try the thang, one day at a time, and see what happens? (Um glad you're reading Dorothy Sayers.)

  3. I could, but I never answer my phone. So I would essentially be in hiding. Maybe the experiment would be easier if part of a vacation. I know I would probably write loads more with no Internet, but writing longhand is very engrossing to me. It will have to wait until I have help, so my family still gets fed.

  4. I find that dropping facebook gave me a lot more free time. It's addictive. I've seen too many good bloggers disappear into that miasma.

    One thing. You said...
    I tried to devise a time machine, but got stabby and gave up after I electrocuted myself for the third time.

    Well, had you listened to Mathman and taken the damn calculus class, you might have been able to design the machine. ;-)

  5. Even though I'll miss you, Lisa, you should do it. I should do it too. Really, anyone who's serious about their writing should do it. We will be here for you when you come back.

    The blogging community is important for you as a writer as both your audience and as your friends, but the need to constantly blog takes us away from other writing obligations, like writing books and all that.

    That being said, if I hadn't read this today maybe I wouldn't have gotten the idea to do this either! I love how we all connect.

  6. Good luck! I think we all could benefit by spending less time plugged in, but I find it difficult.

    I did manage to spend only about
    20 minutes spread over 5 days last week, only because we're preparing for house-guests.

    I'll miss you, though. :{

  7. I bet it's just like sugar. It's really hard to give up in the beginning and then you feel a lot better for it.

    I started The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao while waiting at jury duty. For me, it was The Brief Sucktacular Experience of Being Stuck With Nothing Better to Read. I couldn't believe the prizes it won. I didn't get very many pages in before giving it away. Will be interested to hear if you like it and will of course only judge you a little if you do. :)

  8. Blogger is all screwed up. I tried to post my comment and it wouldn't let me so I tried like 4 times and now all 4 comments (identical) are here. Now it won't let me trash the extra ones so please do so if not done yet.

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  10. Six days? Six EFFING DAYS?!? After six minutes I'd be ready to grab some kind of weapon and use it on the nearest available person.

    No, that's not right. Not really.

    Six hours.

    Seriously, I have found a kind of via media so I can do reading and some packing and the whole internet thing, and I'm happy. Really.

    Good luck with that.

  11. It can be done. I just went two weeks without the intertubes and survived, but then my addiction has never been as intense as yours.

    Back when I was in grad school, a favorite piece of advice on how to avoid finishing the dissertation was to do more research (i.e., read another book). Sounds like that's a favored strategy for novel writing, too.

  12. well i've been having modem probelms due to my cheapness and not wanting to turn on the AC AND refusing to pay ISP for a new one so my innertubes time has been spotty of late.
    But my problem is the damn I Phone.
    I can surf the net post on FB (I don't tweetertwatter) read my news sites and check email.
    If I had a normal phone I think I could do it.
    Hope you can too and if you get too lonely you have my number! (or email me and I'll pick it up on the phone lol)

  13. Good luck. I have a pile of books that are unread because I spend too much damn time reading stuff on the net. And if you can do this, please share.

  14. I don't have anything near your penchant for being online so it's a question difficult for me to relate to. I've been in another of my reading frenzies for a couple of months and open the computer mostly to visit you and a few others. Of course I check my emails for letters from friends or hoping to find a request for more info from our immigration lawyer. Sometimes, depending on what I've been reading, I'll write a small post. The job requires using the computer but I read there too when I get bored (which is often).

    The only other thing I can say is that if I had access to my Dorothy Sayers collection right now I might not be here at this moment.

    Enjoy yourself and relax with a good book. Sometimes a little diversion from usual routines is all it takes to hone the creative edge.

  15. I spent the first 41 years of my life without a computer & cellphone so 30 days of doing without is no biggie. I dumped facebook and twitter a while back and the result was more free time and more productivity and I haven't missed "social networking" one bit.

  16. blogging takes up waaay too much of my free time, so I never entered the realms of FB or twitter. I guess I am somewhat of a hermit in the world of cyber social networking.

    As it is, the husband grumbles.... are you STILL on that damned computer?

    As a news junkie I can immerse myself w different sources & perspectives & skip over the crapola I am not interested in.

    So set yourself free!!!

    I admire your hutspah to even flirt with the notion of unplugging.

    Hope it works out.

  17. I totally couldn't do it- I know this. But, I would like to better budget my time so that I could just read ONE book this year. Seriously- I haven't even read one to completion, how sad. I feel my brain shrink a bit more each day.

    I will get smarter and live vicariously through you.

  18. Well, I will miss you, Lisa! I know that. As for going without, I just had a forced separation from the internet and missed it terribly, especially blogging and the writing workshop updates. :( One of our connection down times was exactly six days long, and by the end my house was scrupulously clean -- and I was bored to tears. Keep in mind, though, that we live in the Middle of Nowhere (and yes, that is a town in SC with exactly one bar and dry Sundays) and we chose not to have television service, for financial and other reasons.

    I did manage a couple thousand extra words on the short story in progress that week, though. So good luck!

  19. Awwwwwwww, c'mon Lisa! There you go again. Dieting, celibacy, exercise and now giving up internet use. Do you have to rub my nose in it, luv? ;-)

    At least you try. I have so little willpower anymore. FB has become a huge time waste for me and I really shouldn't be on and off on it all evening and weekend, and yet I'm smitten. When I reduce FB down to its basic elements, it's really not that great. As a whole, the experience is fascinating and insightful and sometimes really weird. Shouldn't be that hard to give up on a daily basis, right? Wrong.

    Blogging for me is much more manageable for me and the rewards are greater, in several key ways. FB I have to work on weaning myself off of, too. Being away most of July will help me with that. Lots to read. I mean, I've been trying to read The Secret Life of Emily Dickinson for weeks now and I'm only half-way through it. AND it's an excellent book! There is no excuse for me!

    Good luck. And wow, what great books you found for pennies! I love Eudora Welty and Katherine Anne Porter and Steinbeck. Great stuff. I want to read more Dickens this summer.

  20. So I gotta wait a week to find out which Sayers novels you got out??? They're favorites of mine, particularly to hear read aloud (on tape/CD). I love Lord Peter and Bunter. And possibly the best expression of what equal and powerful love between a man and a woman could become appears throughout Busman's Holiday, which might be my favorite of these. But ya oughta read that one last - it has spoilers for some of the earlier novels. And with whodunits ya don't want spoilers.

    Good luck with your 30 day challenge. I hope you get a lot of great reading and writing done.

  21. Hey, I think I saw you on Facebook today...didn't I? :)


    The Internet Police *grin*

  22. Why don't you simply buy a flux capacitor and plug it into your car?

    Now get offline and read. Much more interesting than us yokels.

  23. Good luck! I am sure I could do it and would love the excuse to avoid the job search for 30 days!!

  24. I go offline all the time . . . in fact, I made it almost a month when I was in Texas in April. However, I experience the opposite problem: When I am offline for more than three days, I start feeling horrible guilt about neglecting all of my online friendships!

    Life is just one ongoing masterclass about finding balance. Maybe this will work for you. I will say this, though: I have made way too many blogging friends to be able to keep with everyone in just one day of blogging. I've pulled back a little bit this spring, and I notice that I can never seem to feel caught up. Hey, I'm actually thinking of getting a real job. I'm NOT a person with any answers.

  25. Okay. I miss you. Happy now?


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