A couple of nights ago, I was at the library, talking to a friend I ran into there. I was smiling calmly, holding my eternal blue mug, filled with herbal tea. In a zen tone, borrowed from a number of my yoga teachers and very unfitting of me, I gently said: “I feel so less stressed now that I don’t have the internet.”
Ok, I didn’t feel like that the first night. I barely slept. What little sleep I had was interrupted by constant gasping for air. Whether or not it was anxiety or just this annoying cough that’s been plaguing me for the past week coming on, I don’t know. I’ve had trouble breathing on and off my entire life. After being screened for every breathing disorder under the sun, I was eventually referred to a support group for people with mood (and anxiety) disorders. (I’ll say, though, that I met many of my dearest friends via mood group so I’m actually grateful to have been told “it’s all in your head“.)
It’s ok, you can laugh at me. I’m too dependent on one machine. I don’t have a smartphone, or even a semi decent phone. I don’t watch any TV. All my planning, my communication, my entertainment is dependent on a single collection of electric circuits. I had the rug completely pulled out from beneath me.
But it didn’t take me too long to adapt. Here’s what I’ve been doing out here in the tangible world.
1) I started using an agenda! I always use my agendas for, like, the first 2 weeks of a semester. Then I give up on it: I can just rely on classmates and checking my email at the last moment. But then I couldn’t do that anymore. So I went to the lab, pulled up my emails and transcribed everything into my agenda. And OMG! I can’t believe how much easier it is to have all this information neatly sorted in front of me, on paper. As a result, I’ve attended more stuff over the past week than I have in the past 2 months.
2) I watched some TV. Ok, I only know of two channels: TLC and Slice. And those channels play nothing but wedding and baby shows. But! If anyone needs a wedding planned or an emergency delivery, I’m totally your girl. Actually, it did come in handy the other day. I had my class on pregnancy care and the prof asked if any of us knew was eclampsia was. I raised my hand Hermione-Granger-style: I knew exactly what eclampsia was! One of the girls featured on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant suffered from eclampsia and had a seizure while driving. Who says sensationalist shows aren’t educational?
3) I traded one form of escapism for a slightly more useful one. I did something that completely shocked me. I wrote two exams last week: toxicology and cardiology. Tox is a 1-credit course so there’s no pressure, but cardiology is like getting run over by a train of a giant trucks. Having both of them around the same time was brutal. The exam writing wasn’t shocking, but feeling confident while writing them was very much a new feeling. I never feel confident writing exams. But the thing is this. WoW is my escapism, how I unwind. Without a computer, I didn’t have WoW. I looked around for a different escapism and all I could find was studying. I’m now completely addicted to studying. I bring my notes with me everywhere and I constantly fight the urge to read them. I’m so far ahead in all my classes, you wouldn’t believe it. I expect this to come in handy when Cataclysm drops itself smack in the first week of finals. I’m hoping to have all four of my finals prepared before then.
4) I’ve developed a feeling of deep solidarity with the other inhabitants of the general library’s fourth floor. And no, I don’t mean inhabitants like the issues of the past 50 years of the Sedimentology journal (which are, I’m sure, very friendly). I get my own health science library at the hospital, but its constantly overrun by too-chatty medical and nursing students. The fourth floor of the general library is a world apart from the rest. And I have this feeling of quiet understand with Guy-with-noisy-cold, Girl-who-wears-shorts-in-this-weather, Guy-with-MacBook and Girl-with-scarves. I don’t know any of their names or what their majors are (I’m guessing Math, Kinesiology, English and Liberal Arts respectively because I totally don’t stereotype or anything like that), but after spending night after night in each others vicinity, in that cold, dark wing of the library, we’ve become intimately acquainted. To the point where we smile and say hi to each on campus. I’m positive they call me either “Girl-who-can’t-breathe” or “Girl-who-gets-angry-at-paper“.
5) I finally became acquainted with Freya Stark. I first heard about Freya Stark when I was reading Alice Steinbach’s European traveling records. I just had to find out more about this extraordinary woman who traveled alone throughout the Middle East, at a time where it practically unheard of for a woman to travel alone, especially to such exotic locations. (Although, so far, so she’s met other British women all over Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan so it probably wasn’t as unheard of as we think.) I picked up The Freya Stark Story from the school library (I couldn’t find a link to it on Amazon): her personal account of her early life and first few travels to the Middle East. And wow. Just wow. It’s hard to remember that this was written by a woman who was born in 1893. She’s hard to follow at times: she jumps from one topic to another without transitioning and she often says “we” without letting the reader know who “we” consists of. But otherwise, she’s amazing to read. She uses a lot of imagery (I suppose they don’t call her the poet of travel guide writing for nothing) and she has a strong but subtle sense of humour that I just adore. Sometimes it feels like she’s in my head, writing my thoughts. And her “I’m going to do what I want, and I’m going to do it while looking fabulous” attitude is so perfect. I would have loved to meet her.
6) I hung out with myself. I spend a lot of time alone, but between studying and doing WoW related stuff, I haven’t really spend time with myself since coming home from out West. I did some touristy stuff by walking around St. John’s and taking pictures (which I’ll probably publish somewhere once I get my computer back), then climbed Signal Hill. Can you believe that I’ve lived in St. John’s for 5 years yet have never climbed Signal Hill? I visited the GeoCentre while I was there and was amused by how their geological history exhibit have fantastic “planet”, “local” and “human” history sections while the “future” section of the exhibit was closed due to being under construction. Then I came home and watched the cat sleep on my bed. The hard part is getting my brain to shut up. It thinks of every potentially embarrassing thing I’ve said in my life or social faux pas I’ve ever made and repeats it over and over and over again until all I can think of is “I screwed up my every opportunity at ever getting a job, my profs must all think I’m an inconsiderate, unprofessional idiot, I should stop burdening my classmates by talking to them.” Took me a few hours, but I eventually got it under control and could think more pleasant thoughts. I can see why so many people have trouble spending time with themselves, though. It takes a lot of patience to come to terms with one’s unresolvable distance from perfection.
And that was my little-over-a-week of no computer. It’s not so bad, I’m getting a lot of work done, I’ve been more sleep than I thought my body was capable of and I’m enjoying the break from internet stress. I do, however, miss my guildies so much that it’s kind of embarrassing and I’m very annoyed that they always pick the weeks I’m not there do to All You Can Eat which is STILL the only achievement standing between me and my drake $^&$%$#$@.
I wonder if I could pay a random guild off the realm forums to carry me to it…