Turn Off the Computer. Get Out of Your House.
By Dorinda Fox
The editor of AdjunctNation.com found me through an article Salon.com published about two serious bouts with cancer and the effect of that on raising my children. In that article I explained that blogging at Salon had allowed me to create an online identity for my children should I not survive and served as a way out of isolation both emotional and physical during treatment. The editor asked that I consider writing about how to avoid isolation as an adjunct which is something faced as well by all of you out there planted in front of a computer screen teaching online courses eight hours a day.
Avoiding isolation is important. Many people rely on the workplace as a place to meet friends and lovers. The workplace becomes a family as demonstrated by modern sitcoms such as “The Office” and older sitcoms such as “The Mary Tyler Moore” show. Sigmund Freud (1856 -1939) famously said that people have to have two needs met in order to be happy “work and love.” For a great many of us those two become one in our lives.
What worked for me and lead me here was blogging at a writers’ site called “Open Salon.” I have done so for over two years now and it is an outlet from the more academic writing and discussion that take up the rest of the day. Over the years, I have met in person many other writers on Open Salon who live in Florida or arranged visits when they travelled to Florida. We also often organize trips together to hang out at places such as Las Vegas.
Locally, I used something called www.meetup.com and understand there is a hook-up element to many of the groups one might find locally at that site. That is not what I was hunting for, but if it is for you great. I was looking for like-minded people to talk to and hang out with, and found them in the local philosophy group, independent music group, and eccentricity club. The eccentricity club is my favorite because the only requirement is to somehow feel like a perennial square peg and we have wonderful times together. We are also a large group with perhaps 800 members ;0)
My advice is simple. Once the teaching workday is done turn off your computer. Get out of your house even if your house is dirty—mine is from dealing with two weeks of grading hell. I will clean it on Thursday and it will look great for about three days. Instead of cleaning house, working in the yard, or watching TV, try to reach way back in your mind and remember what interests you or makes you happy.
Here is my list of what interests me and makes me happy: beach/water, live stand-up comedy, live theater, live music, and poetry.
Luckily, my daughter and at least one one other partner in crime indulge me in leaving the house to find that which makes me happy. All of the listed interests are easily found in Central Florida. However, If I write about the beach again the editor may strike me dead, so today I will discuss live theater and poetry.
On the the first of May, my partner in crime surprised me by taking us to see The Southern Discomfort Tour featuring a wonderful blues guitarist from Louisville named Tyrone Cotton, a legendary beat poet named Ron Whitehead, and a New York Mets obsessed poet named Frank Messina. The event was free.
Their performances were amazing.
I give you Tyrone Cotton playing Breaking Away. You will find him at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4qP1jh4XYs&feature=related.
I give you Frank Messina who presented Psycho Chick with background music. My partner in crime found this poem a little too amusing ;0) You will find Messina at http://www.spokeface.com/.
Ron Whitehead has been a poet for many years and claims to have been identified as one of Hunter Thompson’s favorite poets. He had the kind of demeanor Thompson might have liked ;0) He also has the honor of knowing one of his poems is framed and hanging in the office of the Dalai Lama.
His poem Tapping My Own Phone was amusing and prescient in this time of ever less privacy in our lives. You can find out more about him at http://www.tappingmyownphone.com/
I’m going straight bought myself a flat top
haircut so stiff I can carry a tray of martinis
waiting on people someone to open up her
purse and give me a tip cause I don’t have
a clue anymore as to what’s going on but
I do know that I’m one step ahead tapping
my own phone to hear myself talking with
people who used to be my friends listening
so I can correct myself before they do and
I’ve got a surveillance camera in my abandoned
car across the street watching myself replaying
the tape so I can see if I’m acting funny before
they catch me doing something I shouldn’t
like yesterday I spotted myself walking too
fast and I heard myself talking too loud yes
I’ve got the deep fear paranoia anxiety despair
and suicide blues but I’m making sure I don’t
do nothing else wrong cause I done screwed
up so many times I cornered myself into a
backstreet deadend alley of paranoia and every
time I hear an airplane or helicopter or car
door slam I know the Secret Service the FBI
and the IRS Swat Teams have finally arrived
cause I published a poem by the President of
the United States of America without his
fully conscious permission and I’m sure I
haven’t paid enough taxes cause I’ve got no
income yet somehow I keep on doing things
like eating every once in a while and paying
a light bill or two but how do I do it they’re
gonna ask what’s the source of your income
and how come you don’t come to see us
anymore so yes I’ve become a little jumpy
but I’m staying one step ahead tapping my
own phone videotaping my every move
watching myself day and night replaying
the tapes cause I got a bad bad bad case
of the deep fear paranoia anxiety despair
and suicide blues.
This last weekend I again turned off the computer and got out of my house (along with the partner in crime) to a cabaret festival at the local independent theater company called Mad Cow. We heard Lulu Picart take us on a journey through the music of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Her simple presentation of “Maybe I’m Amazed” reinforced what a fine writer of love songs the Beatles had been. We also saw Son of a Preacher Man, or How Barry Manilow Saved My Life! with Kevin Kelly and Terry Thomas, who delighted the audience with tales of growing up as the gay black sheep in a religious family.
Next weekend, I plan to turn off the computer and get out of my house to drag the partner in crime and my oldest daughter and her boyfriend (it will be my birthday so they are indulgent) to the 2011 Orlando International Fringe Festival. It is described as “100% uncensored. 100% accessible. 100% non-juried” theater festival and is the oldest operating fringe festival in the United States. Fringe festivals began in Europe hundreds of years ago.
We are to see Joe’s Cafe by Rupert Wates and friends who will present a music revue comprising original songs based on true stories. Tales of ordinary Americans, recast in song: each a piece in the mosaic that is the story of America itself.
We are also to see Captain Discovery: The Edible Musical which is a tasty little sing along in which every patron attending the show will receive an edible puppet to eat and sing with during the show. I was never much for birthday cake so I am all for it.
This is what happened in May when I turn off the computer and get out of the house in Orlando. We have gone nowhere near a theme park.
My point is this: whatever your interest or whatever makes you happy, those particular “whatevers” are available where you live now outside your house. Go. Life is not going to find you sitting in front of your computer in your favorite white comfy bathrobe unless you are really Cinderella. In that case, someday somehow a fairy godmother will make sure you get to the ball.
If that happens, let me know.
Writing when tired is always a bad idea. Many thanks to Frank Messina who proofreads on the side ;0) It is Tyrone Cotton and not Scott. Frank is named Frank and not Ron. The word in the poem title was chick and not bitch. And Cotton is a blues and not jazz guitarist. That last blurring of the blues and jazz is a sin for which I hope Cotton will forgive me. My musically inclined partner in crime is probably shamed by my ignorance ;0) They have lots of wine at those poetry readings. Names. Words. Musical genres.