Force Quit

Martin, Bernie & Norman

These three men have been friends for over 80 years. My dad’s the youngest (in the middle); he turns 90 next month.

While I’m hiking The Long Trail, I’m reposting old favorites. This one originally published on June 23, 2015.

Sometimes, when you have too many programs open on your desktop, the computer freezes, and the only remedy is to perform a Force Quit and shut the machine down. Well, last weekend, I learned that this works for writers, as well. My gift to my dad this last Father’s Day was to drive him from Vermont to New Jersey, so he could attend a friend’s ninetieth birthday. Even though it was a quick trip – if you can call ten hours in the car quick – it necessitated an overnight.

I brought enough work for a week - at least.

I brought enough work for a week – at least.

I packed my computer, research materials for one project, and writing assignments for another. I also brought along a novel for pleasure reading, and the issue of The New Yorker that just arrived in the mail. Realistically, I figured the least I could do was catch up on Revise With Confidence: Self-editing for the Serious Writer, the free on-line course I’m taking with Joan Dempsey.

With an old friend. We talked hard and laughed harder. Great visit.

With an old friend. We talked hard and laughed harder. Great visit.

While Dad and his friends partied, I met an old friend for dinner. We talked hard and laughed harder for a three-hour visit. Then Dad and I checked in to our swank hotel. It was late; I was tired; we had to make an early start the next day. I figured I could at least log on to the self-editing course, so I fired up my computer and ran into a ten-dollar firewall the hotel wanted for twenty-four hours of wifi. I was outraged. As far as I’m concerned, connectivity in a hotel is as important as hot water and a bed. And this was no chain-by-the-side-of-the-road affair, but an historic hotel smack in the middle of downtown with a price tag to match. In fact, if they’d buried the internet fee in the price of the room, I would have paid it. I just didn’t want to be nickeled and dimed.   I looked at my bag. There was plenty I could do without the internet, though I frozen computercouldn’t decide which project to tackle. In fact, I was stuck with my brain wheeling around without traction, just like the swirling rainbow when my computer gets stuck.hotelbed I looked from the desk to the bed, remembered I had a mini bottle of cognac in my toiletries bag and a novel to read. I showered and crawled between the starched sheets. In the end, I’m grateful for the ten-dollar internet fee. It was just what I needed to initiate a Force Quit. Instead of working, I slept like the proverbial log. I even slept in, till a little past six. But when I awoke, I felt rested and ready for the drive back. But first, I sat down at the desk with paper and pen, and I drafted this blog. nip

Even though Deborah Lee Luskin is currently attempting a through-hike of Vermont’s Long Trail, you can still receive An Essay Every Wednesday emailed directly to your inbox by subscribing on her website,  It’s easy, it’s entertaining, it’s educational, and it’s free.

31 thoughts on “Force Quit

  1. Absolutely right about the Internet. I ran into that on a trip to NYC and just walked across the street to Starbucks or MacDonalds. Great you got to spend time with your father. Mine turned 101 last Fri. and the whole family got together. Terrific time.

    • Yes, it’s time for hotels to include internet services just like they provide electricity. Yes, there are costs involved in providing this service. Fine: include them in the room charge, not as an add-on. (Or maybe hotels should have coin-operated meters for hot water and electricity!)
      Dad lives nearby, and we swim together every week. Taking him to see his two surviving friends was special. Congratulations to your Dad!
      And thanks for your comments.

  2. Besides the fact that these three gentlemen look absolutely great for their age, I completely understand. I, sometimes, find it difficult to turn off my instinct to do more and just enjoy the nothingness of life.

    • Don’t they look great? Against great odds, they survived The Great Depression, WWII, the 50’s, 60’s . . . parenting, even widowhood – and they’re still going (pretty) strong. They have learned the art of simply being!
      Thanks for your comments.

  3. Such a sweet photo of those 3 ‘youngsters’. My Dad turns 90 in October and just attended his high school reunion with his remaining 3 classmates. God Bless ’em all!

  4. I never stay in nice hotels, because I rarely linger in hotels–or motels, to be more precise. Think: Days Inn, Comfort Inn, etc–sometimes a little nicer, but the last time I was in a premium hotel–think: actual glass water glasses in the room–was 2008. That said, I have not, since I got a portable device in the mid-00s, ever seen an itemized bill for internet and any company that does such a thing should be called out and criticized on yelp, tripadvisor, google, yahoo, and reservation sites like priceline.

    That said, I dread lack of connectivity–I don’t use a smart phone, so I’m eager at the end of the day to catch up on..everything. I dread it, and when it happens I never fail to enjoy the hell out of the peace that envelops me when it happens.

    • I like glass water glasses – especially to drink cognac! And it was awfully nice to be unplugged in such luxury – though not likely to happen again any time soon.
      Thanks for your comments.

  5. A force quit is neede at times just to reboot. Even when making. A living as a writer sometimes we need breaks before we burn ourselves out. It’s great to see you got to spend some quality time with your dad !

  6. Great post Deborah 🙂 I especially loved the photo of the three handsome men at the top. They look fabulous – and such a long friendship – amazing!

  7. Deborah, I hope you’ve inherited your Dad’s genes…if you look that healthy and youthful at 90 you’ll have a lot to be thankful for! I recently spent three weeks separated from my laptop (and my husband, though I’d hate to have to choose which one I missed more). I was staying with my father-in-law who doesn’t own a computer and doesn’t have Wifi. I had about a week to prepare for the separation, so I planned some new projects – brainstorming, story boarding, getting first rough drafts down on paper. And it worked to a point. But I found there was only so much working with pencil and paper I could do. I wanted to be able to play around with words on the screen, to move things around in a way that’s not so easy just with paper. And I had background research I simply couldn’t do. How I missed the ability to quickly look up a date or a fact, or use an online thesaurus to find a better word. I got an article written, but it was a slow process. But I’m not sure if it was any slower than working on my laptop, where the distractions of the Internet slow me down too. I’m so happy to be reunited with my baby – oh, and my husband too!

  8. During my writing group hours, we don’t connect to the internet. It’s one place we know we won’t waste any time online. (of course some writing requires internet, but we are all working on at least one big project that does not.

  9. I love that term ‘Force Quit.’ I could understand your initial feeling of being unconnected to the web. It’s something I wish to do everyday for quite awhile now because of burnout. In fact, I had written a post recently where I shared my dilemma of going on my long awaited vacation next week, sans laptop. I’ve been so concerned about the catch up game with social media and blogs to read that I find it easier to always take my laptop and devote at least an hour a day to it. I was surprised by the feedback I received; every reply gave me the blessing to go away and take a break and stop striving to keep up – use the ‘delete’ button and move on. So ‘Force Quit’ and ‘Delete’ seem to be appropriate for me. 🙂

  10. Pingback: Force Quit — Live to Write – Write to Live – Literele sufletului meu

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s