I resolve to…break up with my laptop

It's morning, and I've yet to even pour myself a glass of water, but here I am tapping away at.


It’s morning, and I’ve yet to even pour myself a glass of water, but here I am tapping away at the keys on my laptop.

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Oh sure, my back might be screaming to be stretched, my belly rumbling for a meal, and the last thing I want is to be sitting here at this precise moment, but I have a problem: I’m a laptop serf. My feudal lord is Vista, and I’m chained to my post by bad habits.

Now, I happen to love what I do for a living, but being a writer comes with some serious occupational hazards. You’re never standing up, especially when you’re on deadline. I know sitting seems luxurious to anyone who stands up for a living. But all of us who sit professionally know how embarrassing a seated injury can be. When questions pop up like “How did you sprain your neck so badly?” or “When did you injure your back?” – you really wish you could say you did it snowboarding/skydiving/tripping/shovelling/bowling. Anything but typing.

It wasn’t always this way. My laptop used to be like a handy part-time boyfriend. I could turn it on and off when I wanted and have quiet evenings to myself without having to communicate with it.

When I was writing out of the NOW office, before I shifted to working from my kitchen last year, I actually stood up and walked 30 paces to make tea and marched down a flight of stairs to restock my pen stash.

Now, my desk, fridge, bathroom and office supplies are all inside a 3-metre radius. Churning out three books in three years (including the U.S. edition of the first Ecoholic), I needed the seamless efficiency of a German watch factory. Now, I’ve concluded, that efficiency is killing me.

The more research I happily cram into my brain and onto the page, the more I get body-stupid. When did I stop taking the yoga breaks/gardening breaks/dancing breaks/breaks for spontaneous spurts of random movement that made working from home so freeing?

With each book, my body curls into a deeper homage to Mr. Burns, and I feel like one of those tomatoes grown in a square jar. My ass has moulded to my chair, and my neck is in permanent giraffe extension, searching for a screen to stare at.

One night over a glass of wine, my long-time friend now in naturopathic college takes one look at me and says, mildly alarmed, “Adria, you’ve lost your chi.” She orders me to a traditional Chinese medicine practitioner.

Weeks later, I listen. Actually, I resolve to listen to any advice anyone feels like offering on the future of my physical health. My colleague sends me an email on a postural rehabilitation workshop that encourages me to wiggle more. I go. My sister tells me to take my vitamin D every day. I do. An infomercial tells me to try their 30-minute exercises six days a week. I buy it.

Sitting in the chilly offices of my local traditional Chinese medicine clinic, I push my most pressing question to the front of the line: “Can I get my chi back?” The doc laughs and says three to four weeks of hour-long acupuncture and handfuls of weird black herbal pills should fix me. Sign me up.

So my resolution for 2010 isn’t to eat less pasta and run more often – it’s to be a healthier worker. It’s to re-program my computer to beep every half hour to remind me to stretch. To take yoga breaks. Dance breaks. Tea breaks. To stand up and walk around when I’m on the phone. To eat lunch away from my desk. And never again to turn on my computer before breakfast.

adriav@nowtoronto.com

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