Afternoon Inquisition

AI: Forced to learn to like learning new things

This summer I made plans to run more and write more. I put my son in theater camp and enrolled my daughter in preschool and I was going to do nothing but sit on my laptop, churning out Skepchick content as if my couch were a critical thought sweatshop, only taking breaks so I can get in at least 30 miles a week of running. This was the summer of productivity! And I was going to WIN IT.

But sweatcations don’t necessarily work out as planned. Kids get hospitalized, leaving you with less you-time. Laptops get left in the rain, leaving you with less writing time. And you’re at the mercy of kind strangers who leave their computers lying around at Starbucks so you can squeeze in a quick AI while they go to the bathroom, and training for a marathon between thunderstorms and tolerant family members’ work schedules. So I’ve been less productive where I’ve wanted to be… but I’m trying to make the most of it.

Without a computer, I’m spending less time on social media, less time checking email, less time reading about the horrors of the world. I’ve left the TV off during the day to keep things as quiet as possible.

I’m spending more time reading. More time just sitting outside in this unusually cool Chicago summer. Instead of churning out articles on my laptop, I’m reading other people’s articles and learning new things… like how to pincurl my hair or finding out the difference between termites and flying ants. And not always having the time to run outside means that I’m forced to go to the gym (because they have daycare and no thunderstorms) and do classes and cross training I would otherwise refuse to do… and at the gym, you can read while you work out! And I’m really really loving it. I don’t feel less productive. I just feel differently productive. And I’m a little surprised I am enjoying it so much. I learned I like learning to like learning to things.

That said, I am ready to have my own laptop back though… this lady seriously won’t shut up about calling the cops if I don’t get away from her computer right now and apparently the assistant manager thinks he can just declare that I’m never allowed to come back to this store ever again. Whatever. I’m a Gold Card holder, dude.

What new things are you learning? Do you enjoy being forced to learn new things? Do you cope well when life overhauls your plans? Could you live a whole summer without your laptop? Is this lady at this Starbucks really going to press charges? Do I need bail money?

The Afternoon Inquisition (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Skepchick community. Look for it to appear Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays at 3pm ET.


Elyse MoFo Anders is the bad ass behind forming the Women Thinking, inc and the superhero who launched the Hug Me! I'm Vaccinated campaign as well as podcaster emeritus, writer, slacktivist extraordinaire, cancer survivor and sometimes runs marathons for charity. You probably think she's awesome so you follow her on twitter.

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  1. Rock on, Elyse!

    My summer has turned out differently than I planned, as well. I had shoulder surgery last month, and I’m still wearing the immobilizer (aka “that infernal contraption”). Since I’m really restricted with activities, I’ve been reading a lot. After gorging myself on novels and comics, which are especially entertaining while on narcotic painkillers, I’ve moved on to more serious stuff. The last few days I’ve been reading about microbes and epidemics. Now I’m seriously considering pursuing a Master’s degree in public health. Science is cool, and learning is awesome!

    I guess I’m pretty adaptable. Years of medication and therapy have helped with that. I’m at the point where I’m almost shocked if things do go according to plan.

    And you question about the laptop: is that implying no computer at all? I can get by fine with a desktop, but I’m a neo-Luddite.

    Keep us posted if you need bail money.

  2. I’m learning to like walking my new dog. He’s a 45-pound pit mix, a jumpy, pull-y, skittish, spastic brat and was making me crazy to run/walk together, he’d pull hard, stop abruptly, and I’d end up kicking his precious paws as I stumbled to stop with him. The Internet taught me how to teach a dog to heel and walk politely. It’s still a work in progress, but he’s smart; I’m bigger, meaner, and stronger; and we’ve seen loads of improvement. As long as there are no sprinklers, birds, rabbits, car alarms, food trash, bicyclists, people, or other dogs around, it’s great.

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