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OFF THE GRID

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OFF THE GRID

Cindy Maddera

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We made a last minute decision to spend Thursday night in Wichita and while we were checking into a motel, Michael looked at me and said that he didn't have an outlet charger with him for his phone. I looked at him and said "first world problems" and then we both laughed. The only way I could charge my phone over the weekend was to plug it into the car with the car running. That seemed like a ridiculously wasteful thing to do, but I also knew that I couldn't go the whole weekend without my phone. I use my phone to take my daily happiness picture and I needed to be able to contact people inside the venue in case we got separated or lost. I knew that in order to do these things I would have to really conserve. This meant no photo editing or postings. No checking emails or facebook. All I could do was take a daily picture and be prepared for some text exchanges. This is where I confess something to all of you, something that may surprise you. My phone has become an essential organ body part to me. There. I've said it. This person who promotes doing less and yoga and all of that just confessed to you that they cannot live without their smart phone. I have turned into one of those mindless cell phone zombie people. It makes me a little sick to think of that actually, that I am no better than the average sullen teenager when it comes to my phone. When I am not playing around with camera apps, I'm scrolling through Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses. I'm checking emails from both my personal account and my work account. I'm reading blogs and flipping through current news on the BBC app or I'm playing Sudoku. What I am not doing is fully listening to those around me or actively engaging in social behavior. I knew when I got this phone that I would need to set rules and boundaries for myself so that I would not become full on obsessed, but instead I fell right on into the obsessive side of compulsive.

When we pulled into Guthrie on Friday, Michael tossed his phone into the glove box and declared himself off the grid for the weekend. I felt a little clammy at the thought. I told him that I couldn't go cold turkey because I needed to be able to keep in touch with my friends' comings and goings. This was mostly true. I needed my phone to finalize meeting times and meeting places and to organize who I see where and all that comes with making visits to my OKC home. Instead, I compromised. I only used the phone to text and to take one (or two) photos a day. And I was fine. The only time I missed my phone was when I wanted to take pictures. I would see something and whine out an "aw man". Then I'd hold my fingers up like a camera and say "click". At some point, we saw someone charging their phone with one of those nifty battery powered things. Michael looked at me and said that he was going to get me one. He said that he never wanted me to be in that position where I couldn't take pictures again and I'll tell why this is silly. I have a good camera. Wait...I have TWO good cameras. The iPhone has become my camera of choice because it's easy and the photo editing apps are outstanding. Also...I've gotten lazy.

So here is what needs to happen. First of all I have to replace my old MacBook. It's seriously almost fifteen years old and has reached the point where I can't do upgrades. It's also started making a noise. Not a loud noise, but still, it's an I'm-working-too-hard kind of noise. It's time to upgrade. And yes Michael (he's so anti-Apple), I will be replacing the old with a new MacBook. Secondly, I need to invest in some better camera lenses. I am still just using the kit lenses. This is probably fine, but I feel like I've outgrown the kit lens. I feel like I do enough photography to warrant the purchase of a couple of really good lenses. So while I'm in Ireland, I am going to reacquaint myself with my camera and set my iPhone aside for daily happiness pictures only. Because the thing is, I liked not being attached to my phone. I didn't miss my social media or my emails. I didn't miss being completely connected to everything at one time. In fact, when I got my phone back, I didn't even really use it. Being without it became just as addictive as having it in my hands. I'm using Ireland to find that balance between have and have not.