Two months with almost no internet

I just spent two months away from the online world, as much as possible. I was gone so long that I forgot my WordPress and Twitter passwords.

I have to admit that this was difficult at first. My mind didn’t want to slow down. It was hard (almost impossible) to sit and watch a movie or read a book without the constant interruption/distraction of online chatter.

But after a few days, I settled into a feeling of calmness. And I realized, with a shocked wonder, that it had been a long time since I had felt so unstressed and relaxed, a long time since I’d sat and daydreamed or (better yet) simply sat with my feelings.

I’m going to repeat that because I think it’s a biggie: I sat with my feelings. I sat with my uncomfortable and awkward and insecure and angry feelings, and I didn’t pull out my phone or computer and immediately distract myself. I sat there with them and acknowledged them and felt them and you know what? It was okay. It was good. My feelings didn’t kill or diminish me. In fact, they led me in some damn good directions.

So, for two months I basically disconnected. I posted on Facebook once a week or so, to keep myself in the algorithms current or whatever the hell it they use, and I posted on Twitter a couple of times. But I didn’t blog or read blogs. I stayed away from most newspapers and news magazines (and all the Trump bullshit and political bullshit and local government bullshit). I didn’t worry about what everyone else was doing.

I slowed down. I lived my life, get it?

And it was quite lovely, as if I were connecting with a part of myself I had lost years ago, the part that feeds on my own thoughts, my own emotions, my own perceptions, the part I find when I run and swim, those long hours of no one else around, just me and the water or the woods and mountains.

Living like that for most of the time, day after day, made me realize how much the online world has changed me and also flattened me, turned me into someone more worried about how I looked to those outside of me than my own self. It’s as if social media caused me to view myself in third-person when, damn it, I want to live my life in first-person, thank you very much.

I also realized how much the online world pushes me to live in the future, to plan things I want to do, things I want to buy, publications where I might send work (and much of this work I haven’t even written yet), races I want to run, training plans I want to follow, etc., etc., etc.

This year I want to stay in the present as much as possible. I want to live my life like that quote from Little Miss Sunshine, “Do what you love and fuck the rest.”

This is what I hope to do: The things I love. And fuck the rest, fuck the “shoulds” and the “what will people thinks” and the obligations and the mind-sucking tasks I do not because I like them or because I benefit from them but because I’m afraid not to do them or feel guilt-tripped into doing them or feel duty-bound to do them, blah, blah, blah.

But enough talk. Here’s a little bit of what I’ve been up to these past two months:

Flew out to visit my sister in Philly and ran along the mighty Schuylkill River.
My mom arrived a few days later and then my son arrived on Christmas and so we all dressed up in crazy Christmas tights and hats to embarrass/greet him.
The Christmas ornament I designed with my very own hands.
My son and my sister, both brilliant scientists (and both slated to make more money than I can ever hope to make, sigh, sigh) in front of the Scientist sculpture at the Schuylkill River bike path.
It got cold in Philly and the mighty Schuylkill River froze so it was time to, you know, fly off to warmer parts.
Hello, Tucson.
Sun beginning to set on the Hugh Norris Trail.
One of my favorite cacti, on the Hugh Norris Trail (I kind of love the Hugh Norris Trail, you see).
Running in Tucson Mountain Park. It was 80 degrees and quite blissful.
Coyote I saw while running through Rio Vista Park. It was simply sitting by the trail, like a dog, and watching everything. It met my gaze and it was so awesome to stare into its wild and disinterested eyes.

And (drum roll here) we closed on our townhouse.

Yes, I am now the co-owner of a 1,065-square-foot townhouse in Tucson. We moved in on a Monday and had no furniture, so we bought an air mattress from Walmart and two lawn chairs from Ace Hardware (“Ace in the place with the friendly hardware woman.”).

Fun times. We furiously shopped for good deals, ran, hiked in the mountains and just sat in our yard and listened to the birds. Heaven-ly.

Then I had to come back to Alaska because, you see, we have a dog and paying a petsitter can become a bit pricey. And also because the contractor will be tearing up doing some work on the townhouse–there’s water damage from the last owners plus a bunch of other things that need fixing.

So I’m back in Alaska. It was 4 degrees the first morning I got up: Brrrrr.

Seriously, soaking up the sun at the dog park.

So that’s my life. I read a lot of really good books, which I hope to highlight in the next post, and had a few writing struggles plus one big epiphany (I used to hate, hate, hate that word in creative writing workshops, usually proclaimed with a lofty tone, ‘It’s a nice piece but there’s no epiphany.’). But, I had myself an epiphany and hope it leads to something good because, damn it, I’m kind of stuck in a writing purgatory lately.

And so I shall leave you with this:

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15 thoughts on “Two months with almost no internet

  1. Absolutely love this post, Cinthia. Your two month sabbatical is something I aspire to. Truthfully, as long as I’m working in my day job and have the range of other things going on in my life, I find it difficult to make that kind of break. But in a little more than a year and a half I hope to retire from that day job and what I really want to do then are the things you did for the last two months and make changes to how I live my life … to use one of your words … to unflatten myself again. Your post inspires me to keep that thought alive.

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    1. I know how that goes, Mark. When I worked as a journalist I was online all day and often half the night, too. It stressed me out terribly but I had no choice. So hang in there, okay? A year and a half is a blink. Though I have to admit that since I’ve been online again, I’ve been making foolish choices. Last night I spent almost an hour reading race reports for a race I’ve been dreaming of running (and the race isn’t even until August) and after that, I spent even more time researching the gear I’d need to run the race. Talk about getting sucked in. It’s scary, isn’t it, how easily we fall for it, and how our minds love the distraction and the immediate gratification. Writing is drudgery by comparison, sigh, sigh.

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  2. “I want to live my life in first-person, thank you very much.”—-Yes, perfectly said. I would like very much to disconnect, but as a fellow author, I know you get why that’s difficult to do, especially in this publishing world. But maybe after my next book comes out and things wind down, I’ll have to give it a whirl.

    Glad you got to unplug. Here’s to living in the first-person!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, Carrie, it’s difficult, isn’t it, having to have an online presence as an author and yet wanting to live a more private and writerly life (plus I’m a huge introvert and think you may be too, from things you’ve mentioned). I hate that the publishing world puts so much emphasis on social media and having a platform. It makes our lives that much more difficult, and in a sense it’s simply transferring much of the work from the publisher to author’s shoulders. Seems unfair but I guess that’s the reality of today’s world. Though I’ve noticed that as I get older I care less and less about convention and more and more about myself. Selfish, but necessary. Cheers and happy writing.

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  3. This post resonated with me so much. My mantra for 2018 is “eyes on your own paper” and for me, it directly relates to Strava, Facebook, etc. How much of what we do is shaped by what others might think? Would we be the same people without social media watching us? I dumped two social media platforms and don’t regret it at all. Social media with purpose is fine, but there’s a lot of noise and distraction to pull us into a black hole. Sounds like you’ve found a way combat that problem! 🙂 Will Seriously be joining you on your trek south each winter once the condo is complete?

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    1. Yes, yes, I totally agree, and I love what you say, “…a lot of noise and distraction to pull us into a black hole.” Exactly. And so, so glad that you’ve come up with a wonderful mantra to follow. I’m just happy that I didn’t grow up in the social media era. High school was bad enough–imagine the hell that Facebook, Instagram, Snapcap, etc., could bring to the mix.
      And yes, Seriously will be heading south with us each winter. It just isn’t a home without a pet, you know? P.S. Love that you guys got another cat. I fed two beautiful black cats that were hanging around our condo in Tucson, I called them the Two Samanthas. Hope they survive until we go back; I totally want to adopt them both (though I’ll bet Seriously will have other ideas, lol). Cheers and distraction-less hugs,

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    1. Thanks, Lynn. Now that I’m back in Alaska I’m kind of loving winter again, maybe because I know it will probably be my last one here. Though, who knows? Maybe we will decide to be rebels and do the opposite of what we planned and spend summers in Tucson and winters in Anchorage. Life is odd and funny that way. Take care, and happy writing.

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  4. Good for you to take time off from social media. Just goes to show that Life indeed goes on 🙂 And … seriously, is Seriously your dog now? I thought you were doing a time-share with the pup 😉
    And congrats on your new house in Tucson! I think my husband would love to do something like that, but I can’t see us moving three cats back and forth …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Great to hear from you, Marie! We’re not sure how we’re going to move Seriously back and forth (and yes, it seems that she is our dog now–funny how that happens). She’s a hyper dog, very high-strung, and needs a LOT of exercise to keep her calm. Flying, and even on a five-hour flight with no layovers, is going to be difficult for her. (One thing we will not do is fly her in coach as an emotional service animal, lol.) Cats would probably be an even bigger pain. Though there was a beautiful black stray cat hanging around our Tucson condo that we fed and I kind of fell in love with, even though I couldn’t get near it. We called it Samantha. I hope it’s still there when we go back. It had green eyes and was so lovely.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope Samantha is still around when you get back. I guess driving is out of the question 😉. Maybe you can find some calming drugs for Seriously. Some people swear by Bach’s Rescue Remedy.

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