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Unplugged

[Written 10/17/12] My family spent the past week in Florida on our first family vacation since Nasko came home. Our time actually centered around my cousin Chris' wedding in Ft. Meyers, but it gave a great excuse to spend time on the beach and in the pool as well.

Before we left on vacation, I told the Reverend that I wanted to take an opportunity to unplug. Most days, I feel very attached to my cell phone and my email, and I was in need of a break. We discussed some specific rule ideas (only check email once a day, set up a vacation response to use for all text messages received, don't answer any phone calls from work, etc.) We didn't arrive at any conclusions, but the idea of "unplugging" seemed appealing.

Before flying to Florida, our family spent one night in O'Fallon, IL. Our flight was to leave at 6:00 am from the St. Louis airport, which meant leaving O'Fallon by 4:00 am (I don't even want to talk about what time we would have had to wake up if we were driving to St. Louis from our house that morning.) We used Hotwire and found our hotel and enjoyed staying closer to the airport. No big deal...

Until I forgot my cell phone. As I mentioned, I am usually attached to that thing, but on the morning we flew out, I had given it to Nasko (after all, he's an American kid now... He had games he wanted to play at 3:30 am...) Nasko apparently buried the phone in the bed sheets, and I didn't realize it was missing until it was too late.

And at that moment, I had a mini heart attack.

I attempted to convince Chance that we had to go back and get it (which would have caused us to miss our flight). I started panicking and trying to remember if I had printed off all of the vital info for flying, renting our car, and checking into our next hotel (I had). I'm not the prettiest of things at 4:00 am, but this incident caused me to be downright ugly.

Once I had regained my composure (and was able to think a bit more rationally) I called the hotel. Sure enough, my lost phone had been left in our room. I walked the technologically-challenged hotel staff through the process of turning off an iPhone. I then gave her my grandma's condo address, and asked her to overnight it.

At a more reasonable hour (ahem, 5:30) I called and woke up my parents. I explained the situation to them, and suffered my second panic attack as I realized that my grandmother's condo mail was all being forwarded to her Illinois address. After one more call to the O'Fallon hotel, the phone was then to be overnighted to the condo manager, and I would repay him the postage upon arrival.

Despite the fact that I had a considerable amount of time on my hands (see reflections), I wasn't too worried about my phone. I would see it in 24 hours, maybe 48 at the most. We hadn't needed it for anything concerning our itinerary, and once we arrived, my entire immediate family would be present, so the chances of needing a cell phone in case of emergency seemed slim to none.

We arrived in Florida, alerted the rest of my family to the situation, and continued with our plans. I waited for Grandma's phone call that my cell phone had arrived, but it never came. My brother and his wife (always the supportive family members) suggested I start watching eBay and try to buy back my phone, as they were convinced the hotel employee had stolen it. (They hadn't been the one trying to talk the woman through turning an iPhone off. This woman has never heard of eBay, I guarantee it!)

Seventy-two hours passed, and I decided to give the hotel another call. I eventually got the story that the hotel's general manager had an emergency and had my phone with her, but no way to get it mailed.

Probably because SHE had listed it on eBay...

At that point, it was promised that my cell phone would be arriving on Monday. Monday came and went, so I called the hotel once again. This receptionist elaborated a little more on the general manager's emergency (she had an ill family member, not a three-day listing on eBay). Supposedly the phone had been sent to Florida, but was returned because the zip code had been written incorrectly.

Since we were flying home on Wednesday, I gave the receptionist our home address, and asked to have the phone sent there.

I'm hoping and praying that a white iPhone in a penguin case will be greeting us as we pull in our driveway tonight.

Because of this crazy set of circumstances, I spent my entire vacation in Florida unplugged. However, this was no longer a voluntary exercise. This event has caused me to reflect on the beliefs I previously held about my phone, and I'd like to share them here (because in a month or two, I'll probably try to deny every one of them).

Reflections: 1. On vacation, I did not NEED my cell phone. Now, I understand the idea of having a phone for emergency purposes, etc., but on this vacation, I was never far from one or sixteen of my close family members (almost all of who have iPhones - albeit not in cute penguin cases). Most days, I try to justify my phone as a need, but in all reality, the times it's used for an emergency or for something of importance are few and far between.

2. Without a cell phone, I have a lot of free time. Many times during vacation, I would find myself waiting in line or waiting for a family member. Normally, I wouldn't think twice about pulling out my cell phone and checking my stocks... (Bahahahaha. Who am I kidding? I don't check stocks. I check Facebook.) But either way, is it such a crime to just sit and wait? Do I have a deep desire to be busy which requires me to no longer sit and wait for things or people? The fact that I allowed myself time to just sit and wait helped our vacation seem less rushed and hectic.

3. Do I really need to know every detail of everyone else's lives? Normally, I check Facebook 3-4 times everyday, and that's not including the fact that I receive email notifications as well. While we were gone, I had my iPad with us (so I wasn't experiencing total Apple withdrawal) and I checked Facebook and Instagram once daily - right before bed. I typically did not read every word that every person wrote, but let's be honest, I have almost one thousand Facebook "friends"; Do I really need to know the nitty-gritty of every one of their daily lives? I'm not ready to delete my Facebook account. That's not going to be reflection number three. While we were gone, a dear friend's mother had a major health concern arise. Through Facebook, I was able to learn of this concern, pray appropriately, and offer encouragement. Despite the benefit of Facebook, I don't need to check it more than once every day. I really don't care about the pumpkin-flavored cream cheese my first junior high boyfriend ate on his bagel, but I do care enough to stay involved in the lives of the people I care about. Because of this week of being unplugged, I plan to hide a few friends' frequent updates about their dead-end jobs or their favorite sports teams, but I still plan to stay in touch with my true friends by reading their updates once a day.

4. The iPhone has become a valuable learning tool in our family. (In case you thought this entire post was going to be me bashing technology, you were wrong. I still have strong family ties to Apple, and I'll probably love their products until the day I die... Oy... A one-week sabbatical from my iPhone was obviously not long enough...) Multiple times this week, I wished for my phone because of learning opportunities for Nasko. When we saw dolphins on the beach, I wanted to Google an image so he'd have complete understanding of what we were watching. There were a number of new words introcduced to him, of which I did not know the proper sign (I have sign language app for such instances). When Nasko was to sit in timeout, I did not have a visual timer at my disposal.

5. My iPhone makes me smarter. A number of times, someone at the dinner table would ask a question, and none of us would know the answer. Being able to Google a world-full of knowledge is so handy. It eliminates the spreading of rumors and untrue facts. Thank goodness that there were still ten iPhones at any family gathering... I don't know what we would have done without them!

6. I miss my camera. Waaahhh! My real camera (a Cannon which holds almost as much of my heart as the Reverend does) broke around the time of Nasko's birthday. I haven't decided whether to spend Nasko's college savings fund on a new one (he broke it after all) or try to have it repaired. In the meantime, I have been using my iPhone's camera to snap pictures of the important parts of our lives. Chance is not much of a photographer, and then this week his phone's camera lens was dunked in his lobster butter at dinner one night (the child is seriously never going to be able to afford college at this rate) so I felt lost without an adequate way of taking pictures of our family memories. My dad and sister-in-law were able to capture many moments, but I felt that many opportunities were missed when it was just Chance, Nasko, and I. What I realized though, is that the pictures only capture the surface of the memory. I'll hold my feelings and experiences within my heart forever. Mary had it right when she pondered things in her heart. And more recently, Jim and Pam took mental pictures of their wedding on the Office. I took a lot of mental pictures this week!

Despite the forced unplugging this week, it provided a good time of reflection and perspective. I am thankful for the time away from my cell phone.

[Update since this was written: my phone still hasn't arrived. Heads are gonna roll...

Ok, so maybe I need to unplug for another week or two... I haven't learned my lesson yet.]

The Girl In My Closet

Seven Months Home