Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Technology is my frenemy

Last week, on Remi's birthday, no less, I went into total panic.  I thought I had lost my new iPad mini.

My mom and sister generously gave me this during their trip here.  They wanted me to have it for taking high quality videos and some of the great educational apps Juliette could use.  And here, only a week after receiving it, I was tearing my apartment up looking for it.  Not in the living room or my car, not in my work bag.  Wait a minute, had I accidentally put it in my work bag with a file?  And hadn't I left my windows cracked in the car when I picked up Juliette because it was so very muggy?  And what if someone had rifled through my bag while I was inside getting her?

That's when the panic started.  Like a freefalling elevator ride in my stomach.  Was some stranger currently using my iPad and hacking into my account?  The thought of having lost this gift so soon was agonizing.  I called my sister's cell and she called me back.  Had I activated the "find my iPad" feature which would allow me to remotely make my iPad "ping" to help me locate it?  I couldn't remember.  Had I set a passcode?  No, and that would only prevent a thief from using it, not help me find it.

I called the US Apple helpline and a very sympathetic Latino voice said "I'm very sorry for you ma'am" (and she truly did sound sorry) but we can't help you locate it.  You can contact local police to file a report...".  Online I read about the "find my iPad" system.  The web page said a recent survey showed some people would rather be in a car accident than lose their iPad.  At that moment I could kind of understand.  The thought of someone else looking at my photos and videos and using my device made me rather queasy.

I went to bed and slept very poorly, having two "iPad- reunited and it feels so good" dreams.  There were dark circles under my eyes when I woke up.  Remi woke Juliette (he had helped me look for the darn thing the night before and even had to bear my accusation- albeit a valid suspicion- that he was playing a trick on me and hiding it) and asked her if she'd taken it.  I went to hug her and asked her the same but less gruffly.

-"Did you take mommy's iPad?"
-Sheepish smile from sleepy Juliette.
-"Where did you put it?"
-"Where did you put it?" more insistently.
-"In the bed where MameeLin and Jessy slept."

And in between the folded up cot mattress, there it was.  The green and white cover I thought I might never lay eyes on again.

The first thing I did was email my mom and Jess to tell them the iPad was NOT stolen or lost.  Then I forced myself to not use the thing much that morning.

You may find this story appalling or silly or both.  I can only tell you my fear was real.  My symptoms of anxiety were strong.  Of course, I was worried I'd lost a gift I'd just gotten, but in the short time I'd had it, I'd already grown attached to all I could do with it.  The coziness of having it on my lap to write an email or check out a website quickly.  The crystal clear videos and photos (btw, this is not an Apple-sponsored post!).

This was not my first brush with technology in its most addictive forms.  Even before I got a smartphone back in Decemember I had an iPod for music and email.  And even before that I was still one to do a ridiculous number of email checks and somehow feel my self-worth was tied up into how many emails or blog comments or Facebook likes or comments, I got.  I can't see things have changed that much.  Maybe now they're even worse.

It's hard for me to go a lunch alone at home without checking FB on my smart phone.  Why?  I don't know anymore.  This restless energy that pushes me to do something.  Whereas before I might watch the news of read a book or stare into space.

Today alone I started my day by checking my email on the iPad.  And texting my friend who was picking me up from work. And once at work using the desktop to check email and find videos for my students to watch.  And now at home to write a blog post.  Sometimes I feel my day is just made up of pings and pixels that amount to nothing.  Nothing concrete, at least.

What will they say of someone in our generation when we pass on to that other "virtual" world where, it would seem, there is no wifi or bluetooth?  Will they say, here she lies, a regular poster on Facebook and followed by 47 on her blog.  Not to mention a few videos on Youtube.  Is it a legacy if it's all on a computer screen? 

Sometimes I go out and do something and can't resist the urge to post about it after.  As if it's not legitimate if it's not mentioned in some online venue.  Then my experience is "tainted" because I realize at the time how I'm going to post it later.

I took the bus home today from my friend's house (just to save gas) and at one point forbade myself from using my smartphone for entertainment.  (And for a little enlightenment on how depriving yourself of your smartphone and experiencing boredom is good for you, I highly recommend this post.)  I forced myself to look at the scenery and describe it in story form.  And it felt good.  And real.  But if I blog and express myself, isn't that real, too?  When it's meaningful, it's real.  Be it on paper or on a screen. 

So maybe it's time to enforce a bit more distance between me and technology.  None after nine p.m.?  None between 9 and 12 a.m.?  Or just less is more?  Less posting on FB, more reading real books instead of status updates?  It's a strange and exciting world we live in.  

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Heat and Miss

The heat.  I'm from Alabama so I know heat.  But once again I am surprised how hot and muggy Northern France can actually get.  Especially when there's no air conditioning.  We've had a hot spell for the last three weeks and though I'm really not complaining about the brilliant sun, the stickiness is not so pleasant.  My routine after waking up has been cracking the windows but keeping the blinds mostly closed.  Wearing light clothes is a given since my car only blows a bit of air on me and some companies I visit don't have a/c either.  We even put an umbrella up on the balcony to block some of the sun and some nights it's been too hot to eat out there! 

Luckily the hot sun has been useful for drying clothes while my dryer is OUT OF ORDER!  As I write this I'm waiting for the repairman and hoping there is nothing major wrong with it.  For all my recent railing about life without a dryer, I just can't go back to a no-dryer existence.  And I don't particularly want to fork out money on a new one considering the one we have is only three years old!

The miss is because a week ago my mom and sister left.  Two weeks went by too quickly, as I knew they would.  I feel they really connected with Juliette and it warms my heart to see her keeping a strong bond with her American family. I am also glad we were able to squeeze in so much fun with side trips and home projects and even a little kid birthday party for Juliette.  In the end I opted for a home party and judging by the kids' squeals, I think they enjoyed it.

And on her real birthday I made her a chocolate box cake that was so very moist!  And put her name on top, of course.

Five-year old Juliette is proving to be quite the spitfire.  As if she weren't already!  I've noticed she's been calling me "mom" or "mama" more instead of "mommy".  I figure it's from hearing my sister Jessy call my mom these names.

So for the time being we're just hanging out here, working (lightly), going to summer day care (in Juliette's case).  Summer languors on, punctuated by thunderstorms and trips to the park.   I'll try to finish some home projects (the perpetual "organize the house" goal that mom and Jess helped immensely with) and enjoy some down time. 

What are your summer plans?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Summer is...

Family time!

Sky meeting the umbrellas on the restaurant patio.

Serious fun on the beach.

Wondrous gazes at the zoo/park Pairi Daiza.  A real must see in Belgium.

Pampering!  With the fish pedicure also at Pairi Daiza. Five euros for fifteen minutes of fish cleaning off our dead skin!

Taking time to stop and appreciate the scenery.

As you can see, I've got my mom and sister here so am keeping blogging to a minimum.  Hope you all are having a great time too!