Some time IRL – why oh why…

Hello, readers. Sorry not to write in awhile, but I’ve gone temporarily insane as evidenced by where I am writing this from.

You see, this is Day 4 of my social media free health retreat.

And the first day I’ve had time to write.

So a little background is in order here.

On May 25, a friend’s birthday, I celebrated by going out and I forgot my phone at home.

Oddly enough, this made the evening more present, more intense and far more real so I decided on the spur of the moment, what the heck, I’d go device free again for awhile. Check in the real world, and not by proxy, but IRL.

When I got home I signed on for a one month health retreat.

Here are the rules for those of you who want to know.

  • No caffeine, tobacco or alcohol. (No problem – I’m actually allergic to all three.)
  • No drugs – recreational or otherwise. (Again, no problem – I did get a waiver for my epipens, tho.)
  • 15 minutes of exercise daily.
  • 8 full hours of sleep.

And here is the buzzkill for the majority of the interested parties – the one that had Milleniums and Gen Z types running for the hills.

  • No cellphones, no internet connection (Save for work purposes – this blog will be all I get and I am claiming it as work), and absolutely no social media.

To enforce this, there is no wifi and only one (1) ethernet ported computer in the area. Just one. The ethernet ported computer has software installed that restricts access to

  • Facebook

  • Snapchat

  • Instagram

  • Tumblr

  • FaceTime

  • Skype

  • Twitter

  • MySpace

  • Pininterest

and about a dozen other social networks I’d never even heard of.

Now, I am not a virgin to the unplugged world. I’ve done computer free days and even weeks before, I even did one month free retreat once before but under very different – completely device free and very controlled – circumstances.

And yes, it absolutely was harder this time around.

At home, my day revolved around my computer. I would actually only rarely go out, I would enter my yard for however long it took to walk the cat (Yes, she is harness and outdoor trained), water the garden, and check the mail. Maybe ten minutes total.

I’d go to the store for groceries once a week. Therapy once a week.

And that was pretty much that.

Here is a sample of my usual daily schedule.

  • 8 am – get up and pee, take my morning pill, and go back to bed.
  • 2 pm – get up, scratch myself, take a pee, and turn my computer on.
  • 2 to 3 pm – Facebook, Tumbler, Gmail, Outlook, Twitter, Instagram, Webcomics
  • 3 pm – start the day’s housecleaning and business chores.
  • 3 to 5 pm – do various chores and come back to the computer between or even during each one
  • 5 pm – stop pretending to do chores
  • 5pm to 11 pm – surf internet, snack, pee, focus on social media sites, cycle through them looking for likes or comments, check email, surf webcomics, read an article on longform.org to prove I am still an intellectual.
  • 11 pm – TV hour with partner.
  • 12 am to 12:30 am – bathe or shower until water is cold.
  • 12:30 am to 5 am – surf internet, chat on Facebook, look at cartoons, look at YouTube, check the weather, social media cycle, rinse, and repeat.
  • 5:30 am – go to bed with Kindle and read the book of the week.
  • 6 am – pass out with Kindle on my face.

And so on.

And yes, if I had a free second, my hand would click on Facebook, or Google+, or Twitter, not on my two book projects or the 100 odd articles I’ve been saving to read, or the Quora A2As in my Gmail. If it was the whole three feet away on my bookshelf, forget about it.

So yes, Day 1 was Hell. I kept getting up from the bunk in my room to go to my computer and it was not there. I’d go to the office and lie to get permission to use the computer and type in Facebook and a siren would go off, I walked in small circles, I went to the music room and wondered aimlessly, I went to the garden and would stare slack jawed into space. I lost time. I felt nervous, jittery, completely unfocused. Hell, I felt like an addict waking up to the fact he is addicted…not was, is.

I went to bed at 5pm and I stayed there fitfully napping until the next day, the first real day began.

Day 2.

I got up at 8 am to pee and stayed up. My cheerful roommate was scarfing pretzel rolls with ham and cheese and butter and bopping to Duke Ellington. He greeted me happily and handed me my assignment sheet.

Wash dishes, do laundry (communal and turns are taken), weed the garden, read some of the magazines I’d been allowed to bring with me and tell my roommate about the articles I read, help arrange the CDs by genre in the music room – a project overdue and created by the last inconsiderate retreaters.

Wait? At 8 am?

I was going back to sleep…except apparently I wasn’t.

The dishes were like kaiju rising from the deep, slimy with glutonous leavings and stray food bits, the knives lurked in the depths of the sudsy waters and stalked my fleshy uncalloused white boy finger’s the way sharks stalk human mcnuggets of the Florida coast.

It was terrible, it was awful, it made me want to dry heave repeatedly. My shoulders bunched forward, my teeth ground together, my buttcheeks clinched in disgust at the befoulment of my writer’s hands, and then eventually, miraculously, it was done.

I washed my own hands very throughly to make sure that when I ate later – breakfast sounded awful, my stomach was still roiling about– there would be no food allergens lurking on my fingers to kill me before the retreat did.

And then breakfast.

Um, okay – I do have a very restricted diet that I did fully disclose, health retreats do not make money by killing off hyperallergenic guests, but I still made the most of each meal. Big servings, a little cheating on the rotation diet, and a lazy rest afterwards.

So, yea.

A 3 x .5 inch piece of almond “bread” – probably very similar in recipe to how I make it (It would almost have to be not to hurt me) – two apple slices and 8 ozs of water.

“Breakfast”? Try Breakfarce! I was seriously expected to enjoy this and to do chores with just this in my tummy? No-bloody-freaking-way. This had to be a joke.

But nope, no one was laughing.

And so it went.

Day 3 was pretty much the same.

And today, is Day 4…

Today, I am in Gehenna.

On top of today’s chores, some light, one insane – no one should be mowing a lawn in the Deep South in the bleeding summer! – there was exercise.

As in “go to the gym in stupid clothes and make an ass of yourself in front of all the people with MUCH better bods” exercise.

There was fifteen minutes of light weight lifting – very light, I mean I have MS and Lyme – but even so I was struggling, yup, manly me, an, know what, it still hurts to get snickered at when you are an apparently healthy dude (my diseases are both still in the invisible phase) struggling to do short reps with a 9 pound bar.

Then fifteen minutes of light cardio and calisthenics. Imagine me bouncing like a very clumsy, underinflated, uglyass beach ball, and making odd grunting noised and you’ll get the idea. It was embarrassing for everyone.

Seriously, was this needful? I mean am I out of shape?

Of course not!

I mean, my shape is more spherical than beverage can, but it’s still a shape, right?

So yes, sweating, cursing, and feeling an ass were the order of the day.

Especially as my spotter and watchdog was a very fit, giggly young person who liked like she breathed only Everest air and peed fresh mountain streams.

I bet she eats vegetables – hell, I bet she even likes them.

After the exercise period there was a blissfully wonderful period of sitting on my computer chair shaped rear end and resting.

I was so happy not to moving in jiggly nauseating ways that I did not even mind the lecture on sleep maintenance which was keeping me awake.

After the lecture, there were showers (Limited to 15 minutes and five of that cold! I am in the grip of Barbarians!) followed by either reading time or optional work time to be followed by bed..in a dark room, with no electrical devices, and no distractions except maybe your roommate’s snores.

I decided to write and this mess is the result, but hey, now you know what I’m up to.

And now, as I’ve used up my minutes for this turn on the computer, it’s off to bed.

I think I’ll sleep tonight, if my drowsing state is not haunted by the giggles of kale-feasting fiends, and oh so healthy men in sleek gym shorts.

Good night all.

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