There’s an interesting vague anxiety which I find now accompanies being offline. I notice it if I forget my phone – generally a rarity – but that uncomfortable sensation that I’m missing something important. Not that I’m missing out, though there’s elements of that. But that I’ve left behind something significant, like my keys, or my coat. Or maybe like I’ve left the iron on. It’s a discomfort, a worry.
And when we arrived at our holiday cabin (a rental, don’t go getting big ideas); a spot on Vancouver Island after a couple of days in the city (Vancouver, specifically), we realised that “No WiFi” translated to “yes, there is a mobile signal here – but not for your network”. Technically, if you’re Canadian, and maybe on some other carrier, our phones showed a bar of signal. Along with an exclamation point and a note to inform us that we could only make emergency calls.
And I felt some of that formless anxiety for the first couple of days. It would pop in unbidden, and wander around my head trying to interrupt thoughts. I worried about what would happen if someone needed to reach us – but then, what would they need to reach us about? We were away for 2 weeks, chickens in the care of family (vet approved to see them if needed), house set up to water things automatically*, and of course, we trust the fridge.
And eventually that feeling faded.
And since then (and I know it will wear off), I’ve been enjoying the disconnection. Since we’ve got back I’ve felt the pull of the internet. The sucking dragging desire to see what’s happening on social media (although I’m far from Nazi Bebo (or Twitter, as some would call it, or X as the Nazi wanker who owns it calls it)), but even with its uncurated timeline, Mastodon sucks me in (because it has on it folks I care about); Discord calls to me, and of course then there’s the whole rest of the internet.
BUT – despite my Z88’s spectacular failure to survive the journey – its entire raison d’être in my life (being a nice non-distracting word processor) being destroyed by it becoming incredibly sickly (it, I think, got powered on in Vancouver, then crashed and stayed running in some unhappy state, then seems to have…I dunno, died. I need to take it to bits and prod it with an oscilloscope) – I did write. Annyoingly on my phone, but I did. I’m now up to 46,000 words in a novel that I don’t yet know if I’m ready to let anyone see.
I don’t yet know if it will be any good or, if this time around I’ll finish it. But I did write. And it felt good.
I also read. I read Nona the Ninth, a bunch of Martha Wells Murderbot books, and nothing whatsoever serious. Because right at this moment I need a break from it. I’ve been swimming in oceans of the climate is a fucking disaster area and we need to fix it now, which is absolutely true. But also, I can’t always be dealing with it at the forefront of my brain. I’m just not that kind of person. I need to breathe, and it’s been harder and harder to do that.
Y’know, people trying to make your very existence illegal, and then people gaslighting you about how that’s all fine, actually. That takes a toll on a girl.
But anyway, it was and has been wonderful to escape everything just for a few short weeks. And I know how lucky I am, as someone who’s living in the US, that my best beloved and I can build up enough leave to make that possible (and yes, I still think that building up leave is fucking ridiculous, and I hate the concept of building hours of sick leave with a burning passion). And I wonder how that will play out as the climate fails, as food and basic shortages spiral. But right now? Right now I’m having the last of my days off. Because I might be back in the world of internet, I might be back in the world of always connectedness, but I’m trying hard to remember that I don’t always need to be connected.
That said, I am feeling a desire to connect more with local queer/trans folks. I miss that in my life – probably because I’ve been reading Alyson Greaves – Dorley series, well, re-reading – and it’s not finished, but I decided I wanted to enjoy (is that the right word? Be engaged by) it again.
What did we do while we were away? Well, obviously we went to a remote cabin – half an hour from Campbell River, where we managed to get a quick swim in the lake, a paddle in the kayaks, and a very long walk up a very steep hill (well, 8km, not long, but 1500m up, which is quite a lot, at least by our standards). We also read – a ton, and napped a lot. And we disposed of 3 mice, which was less fun.
Before that we stopped in Vancouver, had amazing meals at Burdock and Co, and Vij’s, visited the amazing bookstore Massey, and visited the beautiful Bill Reid gallery. We visited the bookstore from The Neverending Story, which is like walking into an emense pile of books, albeit one staffed with friendly interesting people. We stopped in Nanaimo, and at a place called Goats on the Roof store (which is very, very touristy, but also had Penguin bars. I miss Penguin Bars).
We visited a bunch of gardens, including Buchart, and the Milner Gardens and Woodland. We hit up countless nice coffee places (and some not so great ones), I ran through the grounds of the British Representative to Victoria – many times. We wandered all over Victoria and saw a little snippet of the oldest Chinatown in Canada. We dropped by the Victoria art gallery and saw some of the most challenging exhibitions I’ve seen for a while. An experience that’s left me more determined to make some kind of a difference to the future of the planet. We drove up to Gold River, and then out to Upana Caves, for a little very light spelunking.
And we bought an awful lot of books.
All in all we had a delightful, disconnected time.
Photos are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/49965961@N00/shares/1pY2Z1W37q
* Although, annoyingly this was the thing that people needed to contact us about, because one of the watering circuits stuck open and we got through a lot of water over several expensive days.