I did it! Yesterday, I turned off the computer. Stayed unplugged for twenty-four hours. That was the best part of the day — being unplugged. I’ve lost much of the joy I used to get from the internet — it now seems to be mostly a chore. Even the computer games I’ve been playing are more tic than entertainment. So it was great being offline.

I wish I could say that my fishing for life expedition was as successful as being unplugged, but it was hellish. I’d agreed to drive a family member halfway to Santa Barbara. I decided that since I was halfway there, I should go all the way. Spend a quiet evening at the ocean. Take a walk by myself on the beach. Have a leisurely meal alone. Just wing it. But you know what they say about the best-laid plans of mice and men (and women) . . . well, my plans couldn’t have gone more awry.

What should have been an enjoyable trip was ruined by my companion’s ceaseless vitriol toward the people he believes have wronged him. And a quick trip ended up taking eight hours because we went the scenic route. Got to Santa Barbara after dark. Drove around looking for a place he could camp or people he knew, but everything had changed in the past twenty years, so he decided to return with me. By that time, I had no thread of enjoyment (or patience) left, so I came right back instead of spending the night. Got here at 3:30 in the morning (listening to his harangues all the way).

When you fish, you never quite know what you get. Well, despite everything, I did catch some life. I saw lovely views if just through the windshield — mountains by sunlight, ocean by moonlight. I learned how easily homicidal tendencies can rise in even a generally passive person. (I mean really, fourteen ceaseless hours? I might even have gotten off scott-free.) I learned that no matter how badly you feel for someone and would like to help, sometimes there is nothing you can do.  And I discovered I’m nowhere near as nice or as kind as I think I am.

As you can see, today, I’m plugged in again, and let me tell you — the best thing about it is that it is QUIET! (I have the sound turned off so I never hear any of the typical computer noises.)

Ah. Silence.


Pat Bertram is the author of the suspense novels Light Bringer, More Deaths Than One, A Spark of Heavenly Fire, and Daughter Am I. Bertram is also the author of Grief: The Great Yearning, “an exquisite book, wrenching to read, and at the same time full of profound truths.” Follow Pat on Google+. Like Pat on Facebook.

5 Responses to “Unplugged!”

  1. rami ungar the writer Says:

    Welcome back, Pat. Sorry your trip didn’t go as planned. Maybe next time you’ll find your plans going as expected…or close enough anyway.

  2. Kathy Says:

    Better off going by yourself. 🙂 Fun post, although maybe not so much for you…

  3. ROD MARSDEN Says:

    The best laid plans of mice and men…and female writers. Yes, you can’t predict how good or bad a travelling companion is going to be. On another occasion you might have gotten the kind of companionship out of the person you traveled with that you wanted this go ’round.

  4. Andrew Peters Says:

    “L’enfer, c’est autrui”

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