Monday, January 12, 2009

Unplugged Entertainment

playing in the snow with my nieceI've got a week left before school starts up again. Yes, I'm going back, but this should be my last semester. And after that I have the job hunt to look forward to. After Christmas, my family decided to take a few days' break in a cabin in Tahoe to visit my baby sister (a local there), and visit the snow. I took the opportunity to remember all the fun things we used to do to entertain ourselves, before the likes of Twitter, Facebook, and various Internet distractions came around to distract us. The cabin had a WiFi connection, I had varying levels of cell service, but I didn't want to be tied to that. My childhood memories of being at a cabin involved playing cards in front of a fire, playing in the snow, reading, board games, and more cards. And, even though we pulled out the Rock Band for the family, the kids played Wii, and a few of the adults couldn't stay away from Facebook (I resisted!), I still got some card games, playing in the snow with my niece, and a little needlepoint into our short trip (and Andrew got lots of reading in!). Even though we only had a day and a half up there, I tried to stay more unplugged when we got home.

Every Christmas my family used to do at least one puzzle, a tradition which we haven't kept up since my sisters and I moved out and started our own lives. I always loved it, though, and I found a classic one my mom had passed along to me - 1965 circular San Francisco tourist attractions, 20" diameter, 500+ pieces. I spent the night home from the cabin putting the majority of it together and finished it the next day. I forgot how satisfying a real puzzle can be - you can't simulate that feeling on a computer (not yet, at least) - pushing the pieces into place, knowing by feel that it's the right fit. Even though it was tough to find a place big enough to hold the puzzle (I ended up completing it on my sewing table), I'd like to pull out puzzles more often.

I got locked out of the house a few days ago, and ended up killing time at our local bookstore. It's rare these days that I leave the house for more than errands, and when I'm out, I'm very task-oriented. So to have to remember the places I could go to just hang out took a few minutes for me. I also have been trying to not spend much money, so a bookstore was potentially dangerous, but I limited my spending to what I would actually want to read at that moment. And then I got to actually sit down and read a book - not a textbook, not something on the Internet, but a real paper book. As a kid, I would never leave the house without a book in tow. It didn't matter how long we were out for, or where we were going. I forgot how nice it is to be able to just sit down and get lost in a different world for a while. I enjoyed it so much, in fact, that I finished the 400 page book the next day. I love the idea of a Kindle, but I can't imagine something that can really imitate the feeling of a book in your hands - the paper, the smell, turning the pages. I could spend hours in a bookstore just for the smell of the books.

I know the semester will start up with a bang, and I'd like to continue fully relaxing and maintaining more of that unplugged feeling until then. I've got a few more books to read in queue, some sewing projects, and who knows, maybe I'll pull out another puzzle. I'm not saying I won't partake in more social networking and Rock Band, but sometimes it's nice to just shut off the electronics and enjoy other tactile sensations. I think my brain likes this change of pace.

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