Living Out Loud: : Going Cold Turkey

A weekend without my computer

The week was a bit of a surprise. We all, including my landlord, thought that my new apartment downtown was in move-in condition. We thought that until we turned on my computer and window air-conditioning unit at the same time.

Sparks went flying, surge protectors got destroyed — one after another — and the power supply in my computer got blown twice.

That's very scary for a writer who has his entire life on a computer.

As I write this, all is well now (knock on wood). I have new wiring in my apartment, the air-conditioner is keeping me nice and cool and I like living downtown so far.

As far as the computer, it has been repaired twice now and is operating fine, but I wanted to take a cautious approach before trying it again in my apartment. I backed up all my files and kept it at my consulting job over the weekend. This was June 23 and 24, and that weekend I went without a computer.

Cold turkey. No computer. An entire weekend. How could I possibly live?

I can't recall the last time I went without a computer, and it was a bit hard at first. I couldn't check and approve the comments on the Living Out Loud Blog but Joe Locker had written a post saying I was taking the weekend off — so I was kind of covered.

At the start of Saturday, I caught up on reading Poets & Writers magazine. It really is a great source for writers; but over the past several months, I haven't had anytime to read it. That changed on Saturday, and it was time well spent.

Later in the day I went for a walk downtown just to see what I could see. I also love to people-watch and believe it or not, there are some people around downtown on Saturday. I had fun.

In the afternoon, I took a nap.

In the early evening, I went looking for a bar that was open and found one. It inspired me to write an LOL Blog post, but with no computer, I started thinking I couldn't. I had almost forgotten that it's possible to write something in longhand — and what a total pleasure it was to get back to something so basic and honest.

The next morning I got up fairly early and didn't go out all day. I spent the day unpacking boxes, hanging up pictures and trying to get my life in some kind of order downtown. Except for the kitchen and bathroom — where workers are still working — you would probably think I've lived in my new apartment for years.

Mid-afternoon, I took another nap with my cat Phoebe lying beside me in my bed. She's settling in. We're both settling in.

Late that afternoon and into the night I started reading Richard Ford's acclaimed new novel, The Lay of the Land. I read the galley his publisher sent me months ago. But when talking with Ford during an interview, he wanted me to read the finished product, as there were many changes that he made in the final weeks leading up to the publication.

What a pleasure it was to read this anew. Yes, I could see the changes and I thought how he wrote his book all by hand, with his blue Bic pen — and how masterful it is. Just like I did Saturday, I need to do more writing by hand and told myself I would.

Come Monday morning, my computer was back in my study, working fine. The Living Out Loud Blog hadn't disappeared, and my world as I know it — when it comes to my computer — was back.

But sometimes in the weeks, months and years ahead, I'm going to take time off from looking at a computer screen and get back to the basics of writing. To my surprise, going cold turkey without a computer was just fine with me.

Larry Gross' book, Signed, Sealed and Delivered: Stories, is in bookstores now or can be ordered through

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