Getting offline – the good old-fashioned way

offline no wireless symbolI keep thinking about what life was like before the Internet. I know, it’s hard to imagine — especially as I’m writing this (and you’re reading this) online.

The Web has so completely altered how we do things, how we think about things, and what we think about, it’s very difficult to remember what it was like before.

But there was a time before the Internet. I can remember it, however faintly. And I remember how quiet my weekends used to be, when I would spend hours just reading, studying books I had, instead of surfing around online.

I feel very ambivalent about this, to be honest. I do love all the expanded access to research and interesting information that the Web makes possible. At the same time, though, it’s so full of distractions, that I’ve missed a lot of insights about much of the information out there, because something (literally) shinier has popped up in my view before I could digest what I was reading.  Online advertising has not done us a whole lot of good, in that respect. And I think that fragmented, flashy way of hijacking our attention is a seriously Bad Thing.

Especially for people like me.

Interestingly, my electronic life has taken a new turn. A few months back, I bought a new-to-me computer for an amazing prize. A new version costs over $3,000, but I got mine (used) for just a little over $300. Score! Yes, it was refurbished, and yes, there were some “dings”. But it works great. It’s fast and powerful and has a huge amount of disk space, so I’ve been able to transfer all my various files in all my various external hard drives to a single place. That, in itself, is progress, because I have a lot of files, and I need to be able to find  them without sifting through a bunch of different drives.

The only thing is, the PC doesn’t have a wireless card. And it’s on the other side of the house from my router with the wired connection. So, I can’t get online, unless I lug it downstairs and plug it in.

At first, I was pretty upset. I spend a lot of time online, and I need access for a lot of stuff I do. On the other hand, I’ve been increasingly worried about the effects that online life is having on my state of mind, as well as my body. I spend way too much time sitting in front of of social media, clicking links and entertaining myself, when I should really be doing something productive. I can’t even count all the hours I’ve lost to Facebook,  Twitter, and other social media. Even Google News tends to be a time-eater for me.

I’ve been wanting to get away from online life for some time. The thing is, I do a lot of my writing while online (especially here), researching and following leads. That puts me at risk for “squirrel!” syndrome — where I can easily be pulled in by the shiny-flashy lure of some clickbait headline or link. It doesn’t take much, at times, to pull me off-course, and that’s been happening, now, for years.

So much so that many things I’ve intended to do have fallen by the wayside. Because I just got distracted.

That’s about to change. Because my new computer isn’t connected to the internet. Not only am I protected from the prying eyes of people who may mean me harm online, but I’m also shielded from the constant distractions of online life. I’ve been needing to make this change — revert back to my old ways of writing, when it was just me, my ideas, and a keyboard (and yes, I used to use a typewriter, back in the day). Clear out the clutter — the uninvited intrusions that suck away my most precious possession : time, as though they’re entitled to it.

Screw all that. Screw them. They’re not invited. I want my space back, I want my thoughts back. I’ll still be able to write things like this without being online. I’ll still be able to draft these posts and the transfer them to another computer that is connected. I just won’t be constantly distracted by other stuff that has no place in my life and shouldn’t even come anywhere near me.

As much as I love the web and all the connections it gives me, there’s a time to say “enough is enough”.

I’m saying that now and doing the right thing. It was an accident… completely unintentional. But my unconnected computer is totally for the best.

Totally.

Onward.

No talking. Please, no talking.

Huh?

I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with talking today.

Reading and writing is completely different — it’s the talking that’s a problem for me. My brain is not in the mood to process vocalized thoughts. It’s in action mode, and when I’m “seeing” in my head all the steps I have to go through, someone talking to me really disrupts my thought process and irritates the living daylights out of me.

I just don’t feel like I have the bandwidth — no, it’s more than that. I don’t feel like devoting the bandwidth to verbal discussion. If someone wants to talk to me, they can write it down or draw me a picture.

It occurred to me this morning, while my spouse was talking and talking and talking about all the things we need to take care of, that some people just talk to make themselves feel better. They aren’t interested in communicating. They aren’t interested in listening. They aren’t even interested in making sense to anyone else. They just want to self-soothe with words, because it makes them feel better.

Augh! Please. It’s so frustrating and irritating and counter-productive. Talking should be reserved for communicating ideas that need to be acted upon or processed by both people, not just soothing the frazzled nerves of the person speaking. It’s really inconsiderate and narcissistic to go on and on, without regard for anyone except yourself. It’s all about your nerves, your anxiety, your pain — not about anything necessary or productive or useful for anyone else.

Anyway, that’s my little rant for the morning. I’m having a good morning, actually — very quiet, aside from the chatter. And I’m working from home today, so we can go pick up the new car we got.

It’s all good.

Quiet is nice.

Onward.

 

I miss the solitude under my rock

I’m fine here… Really, I’m fine.

God, what I wouldn’t give to just be away from people for a while. But I can’t. I have to be social. I have to talk to people. I have to deal with insurance people, and I have to talk to people about what happened to my spouse during their car accident. The worst part is giving them the details… and then having them tell me all about their car accident experiences.

It’s all very social. And it’s all so exhausting. Driving out to the hospital to get my spouse and their friend and get them to a motel and then get them home, cleaning out the car, and getting info from the tow yard lady, has not been the hard part. The hardest part has been the emotional upheaval afterwards, and my spouse fixating on how close they came to being killed. PTSD.

I’ve been in a number of motor vehicle accidents, myself (three of which gave me TBIs), and I hate thinking about them, because everything gets so jumbled up. It’s also over and done with, and trying to sort all the ideas out takes so much energy. I want to just let that all go and move on. Get back to my regular life. That should be happening in the next few weeks. But right now, everything feels hard and frustrating and confusing. I’m foggy and having trouble doing more than one thing at a time.

My big deadline yesterday actually worked out, pretty much, and even where I screwed up and complicated the process, people were super helpful helping me sort through it all. Nothing else really got done, other than that project. I had to focus on that — and only that. Keep watching. Keep emailing. Keep tracking. Keep following up… It was exhausting, and I slept for another 10 hours last night.

I miss the solitude under my rock. I miss not having to talk out loud to people. I just want to hole myself up and not put words together, not put ideas together, not express them, not make them clear to anyone. It’s just so difficult for me at times like these, when I am stressed, and I am in visual-nonverbal-mode.

Visual-nonverbal-mode is my mode when I am trying to get things done. I see pictures of what is happening, and I see how it’s all fitting together, and I’m moving forward, making that happen. I have a hard time paying attention to anything around me, other than what’s in front of me, and I don’t hear a lot of things that go on. I basically pretend… while my brain is processing images and getting ready to spring into action, instead of sitting around talking.

Less talk, more action, is what that mode is all about, and it’s how I’ve been for most of my life. I had trouble hearing, when I was a kid, and I am having trouble, these days. I also had trouble getting words to organize in ways that others understood. Plus, I didn’t know the proper sounds to use for some letters, so that didn’t help. It’s hard to explain, but when I am stressed, the verbal part of my brain shuts down, and since people are so damn’ eager to talk and talk and talk (it soothes them and connects them to others, thus reducing their anxiety), talking things through just makes things more stressful for me.

It’s like talk and action are mutually exclusive in my brain.

Which is why I favor solitude so much. Nobody is talking to me. I’m just taking action. I’m just doing what I need to do. I don’t have to explain things to people. I don’t have to get their feedback. I’m just doing it. I’m not sorting through my ideas to make them “accessible” to others. Oh, let me digress for a moment…

<rant> why the hell do other people feel entitled to have “access” to each others’ ideas, anyway? can’t we all just do and be what we are, without demanding “access” to each other and being slavishly social? wtf people?! </rant>

Okay…. anyway, being alone is such a tremendous relief for me, especially in times like this, when I have a lot to handle and a lot is on my shoulders. I haven’t been talking to a lot of people about the accident (I told 2 of my close coworkers yesterday), and I really don’t want to get into it, if we’re not exchanging some meaningful information that people can actually use — like dealing with insurance companies.

The other reason I don’t want to talk to others about the accident is that it really upsets me on so many levels, and I need to stay functional. I can’t afford to break down, and when I am this tired and this stressed, it’s easy for me to lose my sh*t. I can’t do that at work. I have to stay steady. I just barely missed getting cut from the roster, a few weeks back, and I need to handle my more demanding workload.

All the more reason to seek out solitude. I go to the cafeteria to work, so I don’t have to be around people and hear them talking. I also go there, so no one will come up and talk to me. I really just need to be by myself, and while that does piss people off, I can use food and an excuse to do it. We’re not supposed to eat at our desks, and I need more than just a piece of candy to keep me going. So, I take my instant oatmeal or little bag of chips, and camp out in the caf.

It works.

Anyway, I have to get going. I have another full day ahead of me, and I just need to get things done. I am working really hard at recovering and getting back on track, so I can continue my trajectory to the type of life that I can be happy with — making the most of all my talents, making the most of my situations, and getting to do things that I can’t do right now – like travel. I just have to make my hours at work, earn the money, do the work, and let everything fall as it will.

It will be fine. I just miss my solitude under my rock.

Three days of freedom. Absolute freedom.

Time to just chill with the reading list

I’m OFF this weekend. That is to say, I have an extra day off work, which I will value and use to the best of my ability:

  • I’ll read whatever I like, wandering the internet (especially the free text sites — the Internet Archive, and Project Gutenberg)
  • I’ll write whatever I like, typing up the handwritten notes and thoughts I’ve collected over the past week
  • I’ll sleep whenever I want, taking plenty of naps and resting up from the past week
  • I’ll eat whatever I want, whenever I want — and I’ll fast, too. For the record, eating whatever I want means I’ll make healthy choices of the foods I have in my refrigerator and cupboards. At work they have a good salad bar, but that’s about all I can really eat in their establishment. Everything else is “standard fare” that doesn’t do me (or the other overweight people around me) much good.
  • I’ll exercise however I want. I had extra time this morning to lift heavier weights and get my blood pumping. It feels really good, right now, after that workout. And I know I’m on the right path.

The great thing about having an extra day off — especially with it being the holiday — is that all my noisy neighbors are gone. They’ve all gone off to their families’ lake or beach cottages to gather with their own friends and family. That means the neighborhood is

.  .  .  q   u   i   e   t  .  .  .

Deliciously, restoratively quiet.

There isn’t all sorts of random racket from my over-achieving Type-A uber-adult peers who can’t seem to leave the power tools alone on the weekends. There isn’t all sorts of activity, with cars and pickups and minivans pulling in and out of their driveways. And there isn’t a lot of yelling and screaming and banging and clunking coming from kids who are just doing what kids do, and have every right to do it… but who drive me nuts with all their noisy activity.

It’s good for everyone. Everybody else gets to do what they want to do, and I get to do what I need to do — rest, relax, take plenty of time to unwind and let my mind off its leash… And nobody has to be held back or put down by what anyone else is doing.

That’s all I really want — the ability to be free to be myself and pursue my own interests without having to waste time on interacting with other people who seem mainly interested in proving what fine citizens they are. I don’t need to prove that. Before I fell and hit my head in 2004, I needed to do that more than anything. I was in competition with the rest of the world to show that I was worth something, that I could do anything I set my mind to, that I was worth noticing and taking seriously.

After I fell — and my world fell apart — I learned the hard way, how important it is to not let that drive me. Now my life and my priorities are very, very different.

One thing about TBI, is that it teaches you to stand on your own, regardless of what others think. It teaches you to stand up for yourself and not take things for granted. It teaches you to keep a level head and just be who you are and how you are, regardless.  And it teaches you to value the simple things in life — a quiet long weekend, when the neighbors are all gone, the area is quiet, and you don’t have a million people clamoring for your attention and energy.

Now… what shall I look up on line…?

Got the list…

And it’s a good one. I have a lot to do, this morning, but I sat down and mapped out everything I’m going to do, in the order they need to be done and the geographical areas I need to do them.

  • First I need to drive about half an hour to pick up an order at a store. Then I need to swing by an office supplies place to pick up some printer cartridges.
  • Then I need to pick up some food items I forgot while shopping yesterday.
  • Then I need to gas up the car and buy ice.
  • Then I need to swing by the local farm stand and stock up on some local foods.
  • Then I need to come home, get the car ready for my spouse’s trip, pack it, and get them ready for their departure around 1 p.m.
  • Then I’ll take a nap… and get on with the things I need to do tonight.

The timing is good for this trip — I need to do some repair work with power tools that my spouse hates the sound of. This way, I can make all the noise I need to, and not worry about disturbing anyone.

It will also be good to have a few days to myself. I need some down-time, to just chill and get clear in my head about where I’m going with my work in the future. I need silence and peace and no worries, which doesn’t often happen with a spouse who is in a chronic state of panic-anxiety. I’m generally the “rock” in the household – it will be nice to have a break from that and get to just be solid — and silent.

In the midst of all the preparations, having a list makes it super-simple to just handle things. I figure out where I’m going, when, what I need to do there, and then I’m done. None of this lollygagging or futzing around.  Just staying focused and on-target and moving from one thing to the next.

It’s a world of difference from the way things used to be, when I was still trying to keep everything straight in my head – and failing miserably at it. There was this idea in my mind that if I couldn’t keep everything in order in my head, I was a “failure”. Turns out, I was failing exactly because of that. When you think about it, we have so many distractions and so many interruptions, TBI / concussion or not, that it’s all but impossible to keep clear at every moment of every day.

Something’s gotta give. And anyway, having a list all made out ahead of time frees me up to think of everything else — more fun things, more interesting things. Other stuff. Yeah. Good stuff.

So, I’ve got my list, and now it’s time to get moving.

Onward.

So I went to a zen meditation group last night…

Strangely enough, they wouldn’t be quiet.

Either it was chanting liturgy or “discussing” some heady facet of zen/buddhism.

yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada-yada
We sat in silence for 25 minutes, which was good.

But other than that, it was a very noisy evening.

Odd…

I hadn’t expected that at all.