Just The Tip

When I was young, my grandparents lived in a complex with a community pool. My mom and I would often go and visit them on Saturdays. We would swim, eat dinner, play a few games of Sorry! and double solitaire, and have strawberries dipped in sugar for breakfast. It was like a mini vacation for me [probably even moreso for my hard-working single mother!]. 

One ridiculously hot summer day [I think I was about 9], my grandfather walked me over to the pool. I couldn’t wait to dive in. As soon as we arrived, he realized that he had left something at home. [I would bet $5 that it was probably his styrofoam cup filled with mixed nuts OR a Diet Caffeine Free Pepsi in a coozi. He was a quirky guy, and memories of him still bring a huge smile to my face.] He told me that I could wait at the pool for him, put my feet in the water, but under NO circumstances was I actually allowed to get in without him present. 

I sat on the ledge of the pool, beads of sweat trickling down my back, with my feet dangling in the cool water.

He left. 

I inched my way over to the steps. Feet in the water somehow turned into me sitting on the first step. 

The minutes crawled on. 

I moved down to the second step, with my body submerged from just below the shoulders. 

I just couldn’t resist any longer. 

I dunked my head under the water and re-surfaced to find a very angry grandfather re-entering the pool area. 

HONESTLY, WHAT was I thinking?! I mean… Once you’ve gotten your hair wet, you can’t really disguise the fact that you’ve taken the plunge [literally]. 

[In my defense: I was a REALLY good swimmer and on the swim team… I wasn’t scared of drowning or anything like that. I was apparently, also, a disobedient child.]

I think this is something that I constantly deal with in my life. I’m not really a “just the tip” sorta gal. I’m more “All ‘Er Nothin'” like Ado Annie. It pretty much permeates all aspects of my existence: love, fitness, sex, alcohol, fun, career, food. I’m all “Go Big or Go Home” and no “Everything in Moderation”. I think that’s why I was SO attracted to Snatched. For 6 weeks, I would just be BALLS TO THE WALL! 

But, that’s a hard life to live. Eventually you burn out. [There’s a reason why Snatched is ONLY six weeks.]

Recently, I was talking to my therapist and I told her that I am unhealthily addicted to my phone. To be honest, this isn’t that surprising in 2013. Sometimes when I’m out with my friends, I’ll notice that everyone has their face buried in a glowing screen, not interacting with any of the people they are with. I’ll pull mine out and announce, “Oh! I didn’t realize it was phone time!” and then gladly check email, Facebook, and Instagram. And then probably email again. 

The problem for me, however, is that in pretty much ALL situations, I am just waiting for my life to be revealed to me via my telephone. I just KNOW that my future is going to come to me in a job offer by email. Someone that I am interested in is going to text me. The phone will ring and then my life will begin. I check it incessantly. When I worked at a restaurant, I stored it in my bra [that is until I became convinced it was sending cancer straight to my boobs].

So while I’m waiting for life to get my digits and reach me via cellular device, I’m just not actually living. I’m just waiting. There are VERY FEW instances when I don’t feel the need to constantly check my phone. They include while I am at therapy, working out, and sleeping. [And that is ACTUALLY sleeping. I have to REALLY fight the urge to check my phone when I wake up to pee… And I only do that because I’ve been told that the glowing screen overstimulates the brain and it becomes harder to fall back asleep]. 

I thought about just disconnecting from EVERYTHING – internet, phone, Facebook – for a week and seeing how that went. But, there were so many logistical issues – work, friends, emergencies, whatever. And, though I’m NOT a ‘just the tip’ sorta gal in practice, in theory I DO believe that moderation is the key. 

So, I scratched the complete disconnection idea for a new one. There’s only one rule to my new approach to my phone. 

When I’m in a social situation, I’m not allowed to look at it. 

That’s all. 

I experimented with it yesterday. I had coffee with a friend and I went to a birthday party. It was at times both excruciating and exhilarating. But I felt like I was truly able to be present. ACTUALLY present. At the birthday party, there was an awesome band playing. [Side note: I am going to learn to play the guitar. It’s going to happen, 2013. Mark my words.] At one point, I looked around the room and I counted about half a dozen people with their noses buried in various glowing screens. Now, the purpose of this new life rule is NOT to make me a smug asshole with a superiority complex. No. However, I find it interesting that it’s just NORMAL to be “watching” a band in a bar, while completely isolating yourself with your electronic device. Believe me, 24 hours prior, *I* would have been one of those nose-buriers. 

And, lest you think karma is just letting me escape the MODICUM of judgment I passed, as I left the bar, I [obviously] pulled out my phone and began responding to a work email as I walked down the street. A man [who I could see in my peripheral vision as I am VERY EXPERIENCED at walking-while-operating-my-cellular-device] SCREAMED at me “STOP LOOKING AT YOUR PHONE! PAY ATTENTION WHILE YOU WALK!”

Listen, sir. I’m working on it. 

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4 thoughts on “Just The Tip

  1. I’ve heard this fun game where if you are out with people (best at a dinner table, not a bar where people are wandering…), everyone puts their phones in a stack, facing down. The first person to check their phone – thereby disturbing the whole pile – foots the bill! I think this is brilliant.

    • OMG ME TOO! I’ve wanted to suggest it before when I’ve been out, but… you have to be able to put your money where your mouth is in that scenario and I just never trusted myself to be able to resist!

  2. I was watching the Today Show this morning (obviously) and there was some teen country heartthrob concert, and literally EVERY PERSON who was there was on their phone. Now, granted, they were mostly taking videos and pictures of the concert, but I’m kind of like- girls. You woke up at an obscene hour to see this kid sing. Watch the damn show, and post make-my-friends-jealous Instagrams later! *shakes cane*

    • I’m shaking my cane with you! Experience life so you can talk about it later – feel it in your cells, don’t just know it through your device!

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