03 December 2013

Thanksgiving in Nashville (a photo essay)

So glad that one of us actually had our iPhone on hand to capture the great memories from Thanksgiving in Nashville. 

Caramel apples!
Like kids in a candy store. 

Our family + downtown Nashville


Grocery shopping with cousin Ainsley!

Quality time with Grandma Joyce.

Quality time with (Great) Grandma Sarah.
Happy 90th Birthday!

Cousin shenanigans.


How I Went Without My iPhone for Six Whole Days and Lived To Tell About It

Love these faces. 
The day before Thanksgiving we were scheduled to fly out in the early afternoon. We had two hurried stops to make on the way to the airport: first was Costco to pick up pictures to share with family; the second stop was the coffee shop nearby to get a cup of coffee to shore us up for the long day ahead.

When I scurried into Costco, I had my phone and wallet in hand. I got the pictures, hopped back in the car, jumped out at the coffee shop, and - standing in line for coffee - noticed my phone was no where on my person. I assumed I'd left it in the car, but when I got back with the coffees we couldn't find it. Sergio called it and we heard nothing. I assumed I'd left it at Costco so we sped back. It wasn't at the photo counter; it wasn't at lost and found. Costco was so busy that day; I just assumed someone had snatched it up for themselves.

By this point we had to go to the airport or risk missing the flight (for a phone? No way!) so I bucked up, endured that fiery twinge that you feel when you realize something is lost FOREVER, and called AT&T to report my phone stolen.

I couldn't stop wondering about my phone. Finally, about half way through the flight, a very plausible theory dawned on me: perhaps the phone had been in my lap when we pulled up at the coffee shop and had dropped out of my lap when I got out of the car. I could just picture it: me sitting inside the car while Sergio calls my phone and my phone sitting in the grass just a few feet away from me on the other side of the car door, ringing and ringing, but me unable to hear it.

As soon as we landed, I called the coffee shop and sure enough, someone had turned in a light blue iPhone: "it has a lot of missed calls from someone named Sergio," said the barista. "Yep," I told him. "That's mine." He kindly offered to keep it there until I got back from vacation...

…in SIX days. *sigh* How was I going to survive for six whole says without my iPhone in my pocket like it always is?

Well now those six days have transpired and I'm pleased to report that I have retrieved and restored my phone, that I survived just fine, and that I may even be better off for having lost it in the first place. Here are...

The Top Six Things I Learned on a Six-Day Holiday Vacation Without My iPhone. 

1. I spend a lot of mental energy worrying about my phone. It wasn't until I did without my phone that I realized how much time I spend thinking about it. Where's my phone? Did I leave it somewhere? Will it fall out of my back pocket and into the bathtub when I'm bathing my kids? Did I leave it in the car? Did I leave it at my desk? Will the phone run out of battery power before I can get back to a charger? I went six whole days without having to ask myself any of those questions. That was liberating.

2. I don't read enough. Maybe you use your smart phone to read really long and interesting articles about contemporary social issues or short stories by prominent authors. Or maybe you use your smart phone to like people's pictures on Instagram. Probably we all do a little bit of both. But not having my phone made me snap out of it and pick up a magazine. I have been so addicted to this little device and its connectivity; I am embarrassed that losing my phone is what it took to pull me out of the click-click, scroll-scroll vortex of my smart phone. Why I couldn't I pull myself out with plain old will power?

3. A lot of people are on their phones. A lot. Long before my phone ever went missing, we instituted a "No Phones at the Table" policy for meal times in our family, in the hopes that we could focus on each other without distraction and set a good example for our kids. Since we adopted this policy and then have dined with other people, I have been surprised to see everyone else on their phones during meals. You've seen it before, haven't you? The folks at the table next to you, all not talking to one another because they're on their phones. Well, let me tell you - if you haven't noticed that before, the way to discover it is to leave your phone at home while you go out of town for 6 days. This video - called "I Forgot My Phone" - does a great job of describing this phenomenon.

4. I don't need to photograph something to truly enjoy it; but I do like taking pictures. For most of the trip I borrowed Sergio's phone to snap some pictures of the girls when "necessary," and I am grateful for that and for the ability to capture funny little scenes, poignant moments, etc. But one afternoon, several of us went on a hike while Sergio stayed in the car with Clara, who was asleep. No Sergio meant no phone which meant no camera. The hike was beautiful - the tall barren trees, the sunlight at just the right angle, the green moss, the brown leaves, the red blazes on the tree trunks, and of course Julia with an eager face, her red puffer coat, and her bright aqua gloves. It was picturesque. I wanted so badly to photograph it. But do you know what I did instead? I just enjoyed it. And it was good.

5. Social media can wait. Since I wasn't checking my phone (my Facebook, my Instagram, etc.) every hour or every half hour, I missed out on a lot of social media. But … I wouldn't exactly say I "missed" it, if you know what I mean. When an opportunity arose to catch up using Sergio's phone, I would log on to my email or Facebook or what not and look for something important that I might have missed. There wasn't that much. One friend's announcement; another set of great pictures; a clever post here or a funny comment there. You know what? It can all wait. I caught up later and spent the rest of the day doing something else. Like going on a hike.

6. I like being connected. Here's another video, a portion of which echoes the "I Forgot My Phone" video by asking "Is it easier to connect? Or harder to stay close?" and contrasts images of loved ones video-chatting or texting with one another from far far away with an image of a family of five at dinner, each absorbed in their own electronic device, oblivious to each other. I have felt precisely those feelings. Every time Julia chats with her grandparents on one of our iPhones, I love them. Every time someone I'm trying to talk to won't stop looking at their phone, I hate smart phones. And when it was Thanksgiving and I didn't have my phone with me to write to my family or post a message of gratitude to friends, I was a little bit sad. I used Sergio's phone to text my family so it's not like I was completely disconnected. But I did feel a little bit out of touch and I didn't like that.

Tonight when Julia saw my phone for the first time (after I picked it up at the coffee shop this morning), she exclaimed very excitedly, "Mommy! Your phone! Are you happy?" Okay, if even a 3-year-old knows how connected (addicted?) you are to your iPhone, then maybe you really are hooked.

I am tired of being mired down by the worst of my smart phone, but I think now I can appreciate the best aspects of this technology. I can already feel some New Years resolutions coming on.

Addendum 1: I have just learned a new word - "nomophobia" which is short for "no-mobile-phone-phobia." I didn't know that word existed before, but I definitely think I had that phobia and conquered it head on when I lost my phone. I'm glad to know I can survive without it.

Addendum 2: Here's a new ad by Apple that makes the case for technological immersion. It is sentimental and beautiful and represents some of the best that a smart phone has to offer. An interesting consideration in my continuing examination of how we use our phones. Apple ad