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Recovering from the coils of Internet addiction
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Hello. My name is Kari and I'm a recovering Internet addict.

I often hid my vice under the ruse of writing. "Of course I was on the computer until 2 a.m.! I'm a writer. Remember?" And then the guilt would settle because I knew how little time I spent writing anything meaningful.

The other hours were consumed with e-mail, MySpace, posting to my online moms' group, uploading digital photos and reading blogs.

But like most addicts, I lived in blissful denial until my intervention. It came as a lightning strike, perhaps straight from God.

They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice - unless you're me. You might remember that lightning set our house ablaze earlier this year. It killed the internet connection then, too. Could someone be trying to tell me something?

Here is a record of my brutally enlightening week of life offline.

Friday 3:24 p.m.: Donnie's home, bearing yellow squash from my grandmother's garden. I wonder if I might sneak it into my sons by hiding it in a zucchini bread recipe. But were those squashes interchangeable?

I sit down to ask Google, but can't log on. Donnie runs diagnostics, then calls DSL repairmen. They can't come until Monday, after 1 P.m..

3:33 p.m.: Deep breaths quell panic attack over having to solve squash dilemma by myself.

Saturday 12 p.m.: Decide to take a chance and shred them into bread batter. The results are excellent; even more kid-friendly than zucchini because there aren't any green flecks to explain away. Sit down to e-mail the recipe to several friends, forgetting that I can't.

1-5 p.m.: Clean house while hubby and sons bathe the dogs. Marvel over how much we accomplish without the Internet luring us away.

6 p.m.: Attend birthday party. Lament to my friends about my Internet withdrawals. One invites me over to use her computer. Internally scream "Yes! Thank you-let's go now!" But I politely decline, not wanting to look like an addict or something.

9:27 p.m.: Stare at blank screen and wonder what's waiting for me in Cyberspace. What if I've missed something urgent and won't know about it until Monday? What if? Made the mistake of stating my concerns aloud. Husband replies, "If someone needs you, they can call." Humph.

10:47 p.m.: Kids in bed, husband glued to action flick on TV. I wander into the office by habit.

10:48 p.m.: Delve into a pile of magazines. Quite enjoy catching up on reading.

12:33 A.m.: Drift off, dreaming of utopia where modems never die.

Sunday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.: Out of the house all day. It's good to be away from my sad, lifeless screen.

9:17 p.m.: Shakily seek a fix on the dial-up connection at my grandmother's house. It's like riding a tricycle after flying on a jet.

9:20-9:39 p.m.: Catch a little nap while waiting for my mail server to open.

9:40 p.m.: Laptop freezes. I give up and go home.

Monday 8:14 a.m.: Birds are singing; sun is shining! Only a few hours until my DSL saviors arrive in their nice white van. My husband suggests that another white van should come for me instead, one with a padded interior and straight jacket. He's a real comedian, that one.

1:01 p.m.: Park child at window to announce when repair van arrives. Start laundry, as said child wanders away from post.

3:19: Dogs bark; heralding an arrival! It's only the mailman.

4:01: Settle in with Oprah, tapping fingers.

4:58 p.m.: They're here!

5:15 p.m.: It's a quick fix and I log in. Oh happy day!

5:24 p.m.: Dismayed to discover an inbox stuffed with spam. MySpace is devoid of new comments. Miffed that no one noticed I was MIA. Life went on without me.

Then, I noticed my clean house, clean dogs, and the stack of magazines ready for recycling, and felt OK about breaking my addiction.

It didn't hurt as much on Wednesday when the DSL mysteriously died again. Thursday's repair man emerged victorious after a lengthy battle with the dust bunnies beneath my desk. So, I'm connected again, but my embarrassment over the dust strengthens my resolve to cut this time-draining love affair with my computer.