I miss the days of twice-weekly newspapers and once-a-day mail, of photo albums and paperback books. I’m one of those people who likes to touch and reminisce and ponder and … well, you get the idea. Lately, one of my struggles has been trying to keep track of appointments and notes and receipts, and itineraries. I think I’m on about my 4th or 5th planner system this year. I keep trying to adjust to my Kindle and Microsoft Outlook and Evernote and Contacts. But when my phone was hijacked a few months ago, I lost my patience. Call me eccentric or what-have-you, but I have a “thing” for my paper. Paper has a way of slowing me down, thankfully. I don’t need the speed of light or sound or transactions zipping by me willy-nilly.
I like to have pictures up on the walls of my house, not my Facebook wall – pictures that are of my kids or grandkids, or which represent places and evoke memories of good times. I like to cuddle with a blankie and a book (a real one, not an imaginary one on a screen), and a pillow. I like to flip through my address book and decide who to call today (and remember each place that person lived before this address). I like to look at the bulletin board and immediately see what time I leave for Sioux Falls next week (instead of clicking and searching). And I don’t care that my desk seems disorganized – I know where things are – because I wrote it on pink paper, or it was a small yellow post-it, or it was in the pile by the binders.
I was looking for someone’s phone number the other day. The problem was that it had been kept in my Contacts on the phone that was stolen from my car. I had only had my new phone for about a month, so hadn’t transferred all the data yet. Not only did I not have the phone number, but I also didn’t have the email address either. I had to call someone else to get the info.
And then there was the email I read on my phone but which got lost in the ether and didn’t sync on my desktop computer, so I forgot to respond to someone who was waiting to confirm an appointment with me. The grocery store app didn’t work inside the store, so it was useless to me. And it turns out my bank debit card doesn’t tell me my balance like my check register does, so I can spend-spend-spend until it’s too late!
I went to a new grocery store in town – Aldi. It cost $.25 to unlock the chain so I could use a grocery cart! If you didn’t have your own bags (which I did), you have to buy them. The clerk is timed on how quickly she can get me through the lane, so I couldn’t bag my own groceries while she scanned; I had to wait until she was done. Then I bagged my own food. It was not a great shopping experience.
And then I had to take the recycling and trash out. For the paper person that I am, I was suddenly aware of how little paper I actually threw away, although I tend to print out what seems like a small tree’s worth of correspondence or research on my computer every week. Things change fast enough, and I have no control over much of that. But keeping my lifestyle simple and working for me seems like a small price to pay. It helps me slow down and stop being in “instant” mode so much. It could be my age, I guess, but I think it has to do with my willingness to consciously remember and appreciate small, simple things.
I have an iPad on my nightstand, a small tablet computer on the kitchen counter, a Wii hooked up to the television, a smartphone, and a television used as a monitor for my laptop in the office. I am not a Luddite and not without adequate technology for when I want or need it. But there is an itch that can’t be scratched with a swipe or a back arrow. It’s like chasing a paper tiger. I realize that technology has given us many advantages and time savers – but they are negated when I have to do double-entry or make a second trip or get ambivalent about someone’s story I am seeing but not really reading.
I’m again fixing my own meals instead of eating out so much, having coffee on the deck in the morning instead of at my desk, reading on the couch with the dogs on either side of me instead of watching television. And I’m sleeping better at night and not feeling rushed in the daytime. Given my circumstances, I’m living the good life right now.