O Captain

Like most things we dread doing, thinking about being off-line for 48 hours and actually being off-line were 2 completely different enterprises.  The panic I felt leading up to my electronic/interweb disconnect had zero to do with the real thing.

I learned that I didn’t miss it all that much.  I learned that surfing TV channels is really no different than digging my hand into a big bag of potato chips.  Mindless, and to no good end.  I learned that my email box does not always need to be cleaned out.  I learned I way-too-often go online and poke around news sites and photo pages and Facebook and politics tickers and blogs that I don’t even care about anymore, all out of nothing but ho-hum bad habit.  I just need to stop.  I finally had to admit I’m getting bored (gasp!) with Words with Friends.

I remembered how much I love a quiet house, especially in the morning.  That an extra walk with the dogs is always a winner.

Of course all media and connectivity is not a bad thing.  This week I got a Facebook message from a cousin I haven’t seen in almost 30 years.  He’s living a few hours from me now and we’re planning to meet up.  Yesterday I went to the DMV and was told I could either wait in line for 2 or 3 hours, or go home and take care of my issue on-line.  I discovered Zappos.com.  I missed the always good conversation over at Averil’s blog, a good one yesterday about shame.

One night I watched the documentary of a Holocaust survivor (Gerda Weissman Klein) whose book I read a few years ago.  I loved her book, which you can find here.

And last night I watched a favorite old movie, Dead Poets Society, and cried like a baby at the end.  The defiance.  The love.  O Captain, My Captain.  Ethan Hawke standing on that desk.

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18 thoughts on “O Captain

  1. Susan Partlan (@susanpartlan)

    Congratulations on unplugging! I try to do it too, but it takes some discipline. I loved reading about the NYC couple at the restaurant. Wow. Btw, I did read Mary Karr’s memoir, which I loved, and Rosanne Cash’s, which I didn’t love as much. It was ok but her writing seems kind of spacey. Thank you for the book and movie tips :).

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m listening (again) to Mary Karr’s LIT on audio when I walk the dogs. She reads it herself. A treat, this is.

      1. Susan Partlan (@susanpartlan)

        Oooh, good, I’ll download that one next. Right now I’m listening to The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson. It’s pretty good but has the problem of being somewhat repetitive and there’s too much “telling” instead of just letting the characters come alive and tell their own story. I have no patience for tedious books and I’m still with it, so I guess that means I like it.

  2. lisahgoldenl

    I knew you’d survive. All this connectivity is both a gift and curse. Lately I treat each day like a race. The prize is hitting the pillow. Anything nonessential has begun to feel like a burden. Even the essentials feel like burdens. Clearly my perspective is skewed. I blame a lack of sleep.

    1. Teri Post author

      I’m glad you knew, Lisa, because I sure didn’t. My husband being out of town didn’t help. It was so lonely around here!!

      And then there’s the house being built across the street. BANG-BANG-BANG all fucking day long. And this week they added metal radio. I can’t think to save my life.

  3. macdougalstreetbaby

    That picture is gorgeous. I love how you walk with your dogs. Do you still listen to books on tape?

    1. Teri Post author

      I walk these dogs twice a day, hell or high water. If I don’t, the puppy —- yes, at 14 months she’s a puppy in her mind —- makes me pay! I also do plenty of a chasing game with JoJo around the living room and kitchen. Fun for her, and fun for me too, to tell the truth.

      Books on tape. Ahhhhhh. What a pleasure they are!

  4. JustAnotherEmpress

    You did it! Good for you, Teri. And I know what you mean about the compulsion/pattern thing. Knowing we can step away from it periodically is important. The social world we’ve created is pretty alluring though–and I imagine there’s that feeling that we used to call “homesickness” that creeps in when me miss out on a few of the conversations.

    I’ll bet your dogs were happy.

    1. Teri Post author

      About 5 years ago I interviewed a 22 yr old girl who explained how her entire life is on line. No touch with real life at all. On-Line-Life IS her real life. I remember listening to her answers and thinking, “my god, what a travesty.” And now when I see myself online for ridiculous amounts of time, I remember her.

      1. Jennine G.

        I had a similar conversation with a group of 8th graders I had in class for character education a couple years ago. A couple were saying they hate when people don’t answer important texts. I asked why they don’t just call then, since it’s really a cell phone to begin with. Silence. The one girl literally asked me, “What would you say when they answered?” I said, “Well you could start with ‘Hello.'” They were dumbfounded…so was I, just not for the same reason!

      2. Teri Post author

        It’s wrong of me to laugh, but I am laughing. Laughing in horror, but still. My god. “What would you say when they answered?”

        Oh my word.

  5. Lyra

    Good for you. I think of Franzen and how much crap he gets for the noise-reducing headset, the blindfold, the internet physically disabled from his writing computer…how do we know what we are capable with all of this noise? I was reading something recently (it was probably here so if it was, forgive me) but the author was stating how the the loss of creativity as a cultural norm was due to our inability to be bored. It is only through boredom that your mind is allowed to wander past the surface into the depths below. Music, books, etc, the author stated, were beginning to have startling similarities because we cannot fathom boredom. The second it sets in, we need to find something to do, check e-mail, turn on the tube, call a friend, Facebook, Twitter, anything, but allow ourselves to be alone with our thoughts.
    I wanted to disagree, but found I could not.

    1. Teri Post author

      Our inability to be quiet, to be bored. I remember when my kids were young — every time they said, “I’m bored,” I’d respond with, “You mean you’re boring??”

      I learned this response from another mother, and loved it. She said that anytime you say you’re bored — child or adult — what you really mean is that you aren’t interested in finding a way to be interesting, that you are too lazy to make the effort. That has always stuck with me.

  6. jpon

    Congrats on making it through. I’ve tried disconnecting from the world to help my concentration, but even with email and internet turned off, I find it difficult. If only there were a way to switch off the land line, the salesman at the front door, the neighbor’s barking dogs, my barking dog … yes, even my wife sometimes. I can’t be Franzen and shut myself away as he does. Best I can do is “hold that thought” until the latest interruption passes and then try to reacquire the mood.

    1. Teri Post author

      I hear you. I have gotten zero done the last 2 days because I have someone here re-installing 2 sets of sliding doors. The place is a mess and there are strange men wandering around. It takes constant vigilance to make sure the dogs don’t escape (no doors!) or eat the screws and nails and wadded up tape on the floor and end up at the emergency vet. Add in the construction across the street and I’m toast.

  7. Sherry Stanfa-Stanley

    I’ve taken a month off of reading my friends’ blog posts, and my withdrawals were horrendous. I have to admit, I’ve been far more productive than usual for the past month, but damn have I missed you guys.

    Couldn’t quit FB totally though. The good news is, I blow right through my news feed, since I don’t allow myself to get sucked in by half the political rants I see posted.

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