The Unthinkable

Three bits of randomness, and a challenge.

1. Yesterday, two wild turkeys wandered along the sidewalk past our house. Just out for a stroll in the fog. No big deal.

2. Today, I pretended fixing breakfast took a lot longer than it did, because I was reading.

Yeah, that sort of sneaky behavior only works on the shorter set. Anyone tall enough to see over the edge of the counter (and she’s just about there, believe me, I’m raising an Amazon’s child) wouldn’t be fooled. [Yeah, that’s my crowded counter and chipped butter dish. So what?]

3. And finally, today I made Mommy Surprise. I named it that; it’s really a modified “Fruit Crisp” recipe from a Better Homes and Gardens cookbook (modified: tweaked because we didn’t have “rolled” oats, only other oaty stuff; no human needs 4 tablespoons of sugar in a fruit crisp, and I mean Z when I say no one; and I got tired of cutting up apples so added two cups of blueberries instead):

Surprise! Mommy really loves you!

Prepare to be impressed: I microwaved it. Really, I’m not that afraid of the oven, but (sappy voice here) I wanted it to be ready before Z’s nap. She doesn’t know I’m calling it Mommy Surprise because it’s “Surprise! Mommy can actually make stuff in the kitchen! And she put her book down long enough to do it!”

Okay, here’s the real post, now that that other stuff is out of the way.

The challenge: Severely limit the amount of time I spend using the internet

The reason: Other than the fact my eyeballs hurt…my husband (sort of) jokingly said that I love my laptop more than I love him. Youch! Which got me thinking, am I online too much? Could I be the half-step between a regular person, and a person with the Feed? (That’s an M. T. Anderson Feed reference, there, and if you haven’t read that creepy-sad book, I suggest you do.)

The limits:

  • I will allow myself three sessions to read and respond to emails next week. No session may exceed an hour. I’d give up email entirely, except I have promises to critique writing and post writing for critique for one of my writers groups. And a week’s worth of Freecycle posts would probably get my email account shut down.
  • If I can keep each of those email sessions to half an hour, I get a prize. Now accepting ideas what that prize can be.
  • I will not post anything on my blog, nor will I check the stats, nor will I fiddle with any of the widgets or anything blog related.
  • I will also not – gasp! – read the blogs of anyone else. (Will WordPress, my blog host, even allow me to post a blog like this? If I don’t participate in the blog world, their site traffic will be decreased dramatically.)
  • No Facebook or Twitter, which, as fun as they are, won’t be such a hard loss.

The benefits: I calculate there will be many. I’m looking forward to some chunks of time being freed up for work on my manuscript, for one thing (no internet does not mean no laptop). Maybe Husband and I will watch a show together, or play a round of Killer Bunnies, or even, I don’t know, talk. The house might be a little cleaner. Z might remember what her mother looks like without depending on the clicking sounds coming from the little black box to recognize me. My time on the computer will be devoted to working on my manuscript, which will feel refreshing and invigorating and will give me that extra inspirational push I need to get through revising this pesky fight scene. I’ll also lose ten pounds and develop magical beauty skills, influence people, make friends, and convince Husband it is him I love, not this (beautiful, fabulous, convenient, perfect) laptop.

The question: Has anyone else tried this before? How did it work out? If there’s something else I need to consider, let me know soon, because it’s Internet Black Out starting at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Standard Time.

The other question: The world won’t stop, will it?


  1. thegracefuldoe · January 28, 2011

    I’m so glad you posted a pic of the ‘fruit crisp’ otherwise I wouldn’t have known what it was (we call them ‘apple crumbles’ or ‘apricot crumbles’ etc. depending on what fruit is used). I’ve made microwave ones before too, when I wanted to cheat, though they’re not as crisp that way.

    Good luck with the internet black out! I know I spend way too much time on the internet too and need to cut down. I don’t think I could go as extreme as you though, I think I’d suffer withdrawals. I’ve gone through periods where I’ve managed to cut down. I’m not on Twitter as much as I used to be, I generally just check it once or twice a day now. Facebook I tend to leave open all day, but I only check it sporadically. E-mail isn’t a big deal at the moment, so I usually only check it once or twice day (not that anyone e-mails me anyway). And I only blog once a week, but I do check my stats several times a day. I get distracted by lots of other things on the net though, like forums etc.

    If you haven’t seen my blog post from yesterday, you should check it out, I have link to a post on writing in the age of distraction which has some great tips about balancing writing with the internet.

    • Beth Hull · January 28, 2011

      Jo, I’m glad you posted the link to your post – I read it yesterday, but of course, didn’t actually visit the sites yet. I’d planned to visit the one about balancing writing with social media…but then I didn’t. Will I get to it before the week’s radio silence begins? If not, it’ll be there when I “come back.”

      I was thrown by the “fruit crisp” title in the recipe, too. I would’ve called it a crumble, I think. When I think of fruit crisps I think of dried fruit chips.

  2. Izandra · January 28, 2011

    Being a full-force Internet addict myself, I would probably die. I know I almost went mad down here in LA before my internet got installed and found myself at the public library with crazy people to get my fix and assure people I was alive. And when my computer died for a few weeks, I almost went bonkers again until I realized I had my laptop which is old and slow, but suffices for web surfing (but not WoW playing).

    I cannot imagine voluntarily freeing myself from the internet.

    So I see you cooked Mommy Surprise, but how did Mommy Surprise taste? It looks pretty good.

    I love wild turkeys. I just find them fascinating for some reason.

    • Dana · January 28, 2011

      Don’t ask me what the heck happened, but that’s really me.

      • Beth Hull · January 28, 2011

        You used your Twitter name, silly. See? You are an addict, just as you admitted.

        I’m relieved those are indeed wild turkeys and not, say, peacocks. My birding skills are not quite…there at all.

        Mommy Surprise was DELICIOUS. Mommy – surprise! – had seconds after Z went down for her nap.

  3. Shelton Coonfield · January 28, 2011

    See, I agree w/the whole too much time spent on the ‘puter thing as a whole – but disagree with cutting out FB. For me, it is my only link w/many of my friends & family all over the world.
    A limit? YES Cut off? NO! Besides, we just got connected!

    • Beth Hull · January 28, 2011

      Oh, don’t worry…it’s only a temporary cut-off! I’ll soon be back to my bloggy, internet-saturated days. πŸ™‚ And yes, Facebook is super-useful for staying connected with the overseas/faraway crowd. Email works too, though!

  4. Vicki · January 30, 2011

    Personally, I would give anything to give up email entirely. I know a gal who only checks her email once a week!! Since people know that about her, they just call or wait until they see her in person instead of sending an email. I can’t imagine the freedom that would bring…

    Anyways, this is about YOU. I think a suitable “prize” for keeping up such limitations should be family time or hubby time – something different, though, instead of just being at home together. So, go get some frozen yogurt at the Big Kahuna or take a walk together the next time it’s sunny out. Something to look forward to that won’t cost a fortune or *gasp* add poundage.

    Personally, I’ve gotten into the habit of letting the blog posts pile up in my Reader. At first it was disconcerting, to say the least, but now that I’m kind of used to it, it’s actually not so bad. I try not to let more than 5 or 6 posts pile up when it’s someone I personally know (such as yourself). Then I’ll spend a 1/2 hour or so reading through the posts starting with one blog. If I can get through that & I still have time, then I move on to the next blog. If it’s someone I don’t know, then I just browse the titles for what looks relevant, useful or interesting & only read those. Otherwise I use that lovely “mark all as read” button – bliss!

    But it’s an ever-changing thing, the whole internet/email/blog post world. The important thing is that you’re taking steps to change it. Not eliminate it. Not let it dictate your life. Just making sure “it” isn’t more important than “them.”

    Good luck! And I still want to hang out with our laptops some evening!! πŸ™‚

  5. Randi · January 30, 2011

    I think a wonderful prize you could award yourself would be a trip to Shingletown! Good luck with the challenge this week…although since I am writing this on Sunday night you probably won’t be reading this until next week!
    Love you!

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