What's the city equivalent of being stranded on a desert island these days? It's being without a landline, Internet, or television service.
That was me last week, and I wasn't sure I'd survive. Yes, I had plenty of food, and I had electricity, and a warm bed, but it still felt like a desert island because it was so impossibly quiet. No email-message dings, no voicemail messages from carpet-cleaning services or political campaigns -- that was nice. Not so nice was no snappy dialogue from Modern Family, no Jon Stewart to give me the political highlights of the day, no weatherman to tell me about the winds blowing in, no House Hunters International to make me want to pick up and move across the world.
It took me awhile to get used to my new reality.
I mean, Jeez, I had to read a book.
With pages I actually had to turn.
And pay some bills with real checks that I put in the real mail. That's when I discovered how truly awful my awful handwriting had become.
OK, I did go to Starbuck's to read my email and make sure I wasn't missing one I shouldn't be missing -- but only briefly and only using my cellphone. Turns out, the lack of technology made me feel surprisingly quieter in my own head. I became -- dare I say it? -- less stressed and everything old was new again. The radio became my primary news source in the morning. My husband and I went out to dinner and it wasn't even Friday. We played with the dog. We talked. And I got the best sleep I've had in years.
I was about to ask my husband if he wanted to go out to the movies mid-week when I got the news that Verizon had repaired the problem.
Do I have to tell anyone yet? Nah, I thought. What's one more day?
But I caved 'cause I not only felt guilty, but I saw the volume of emails that came pouring in along with the restored service, which raised my stress level, which compelled me to catch up so I could stay on top of it all. Because if you fall behind -- well, you know.
As for the TV, I haven't turned that back on yet. And if my children are reading this, it's not because I don't know how to turn it on -- after years, I finally mastered the three-button thing. Besides, the nice man who fixed our service gave us a new remote where you only need to push one button. No, that's not why I haven't turned it on. It's because I'm savoring the silence.
And I need to finish my book, and that's sure easier without an email or call every five minutes.
So if you don't hear from me, it's because I've decided to stay stranded just a little bit longer.
And to voluntarily get stranded at least once a month from here on out.
Join me next week for another installment of The Pre-Empt Chronicles, as I transition from full house to empty nest. Visit me at sisterhoodofmothers.com
"I remember when I was very young, my family calling me to the phone, excited that we were making a 'long distance' call from our home in New Jersey, all the way to Chicago! I listened to the person on the other end, who sounded like they were at the end of a long tunnel. What a miracle!" - Wayndom, 64 (Image via Flickr, Si Levitas)
"The first computer I used was a remote terminal that would read the punch cards we fed it, sent the data 200 miles to a mainframe where the data was run and the results were returned, several hours later. The terminal, as primitive as it was occupied an entire classroom." - Slowshot, 59 (Image via Flickr, Marcin Wichary)
"In the mid-60s (my early teens) I was the only person I knew who owned a reel-to-reel tape recorder... and I owned it expressly to record TV show's audio off the air. I still have the recordings actually -- the first Star Trek episodes, The Prisoner episodes... and in 1967 portable audio cassette recorders became available." - Chuxarino, 59 (Image via Flickr, Carbon Arc)
"The first video game I ever played was Pong." - SOmuch2learn, 71 (Image via Flickr, Jimmah82)
"I built my first 'computer' as a science fair project in 1962. It was just a register made from transistor flip-flops, a rotary phone dial for input, and incandescent bulbs for display. I wrote my first program on punched paper tape on a teletype machine connected via 300 bps modem to a timeshare computer. It was in fortran, contained an infinite loop and timed out the CPU at 3 mins. That bug cost me $50, minimum wage was around $1 then." - Anonanon1313, 63 (Image via Flickr, Providence Public Library)
"I remember our first little black-and-white TV, and our first color set several years later, and how much tweaking you had to do to get even crappy green faced images." - Anonanon1313, 63 (Image via Flickr, Jacob Whittaker)
"I remember my first cassette player. It had a built-in radio. I taped the Beatles first hits. I remember 8-track car tape decks. I remember the first Walkman (cassette), I bought it in an appliance store. I remember the first CD player, buying it and my first CDs ($17!), and soon after boxing up my collection of over 1,000 LPs and hundreds of cassettes, where they still sit." - Anonanon1313, 63 (Image via Flickr, edvvc)
"Technology fascinates me. I used PCs for years & now am finding my way around a MacBook Pro. When VCRs came out, I was first in line. Watching movies at home -- unbelievable -- as was using a phone without being limited by the length of the cord. Now I have an iPhone which is really a mini-computer. Love the Internet and trying new apps. I'm excited to see what's next." - SOmuch2learn, 71 (Photo credit: Getty)
"We had two TV stations, on a black-and-white TV, but there was always something to watch. Today we have over 100 channels (most in HD), but the same programs that I watched as a kid, 'I Love Lucy,' 'Leave It to Beaver,' 'Andy Griffith,' etc. are still being re-run endlessly, while people complain that there is nothing on worth watching." - Slowshot, 59 (Image via Flickr, Jonas Merian)
"In school, educational films and documentaries came on reels of 16 mm film that ran 15 minutes. Today you get high def blu-rays that run four hours on a 5 1/4" disk." - Slowshot, 59 (Image via Flickr, Salvagenation)
"My first introductory computer class about 35 years ago used punch cards for very remedial database programming exercises. It was tedious as all get out, but it gave me a huge foresight into an understanding of the power of data and how to harness that power and manage it to your benefit. A substantial portion of my current job still involves database administration." - Reg-o-matic, 57 (Image via Flickr, Marcin Wichary)
"In the late 50s/early 60s stereo recordings and phonographs were just becoming popular. A high quality vinyl record had a max of 45 minutes of music on a double-sided 12" disk. Today you can get 6 hours of music on a thumb drive." - Slowshot, 59 (Photo credit: AP)
"Biggest technology wonders in my 52 years, definitely communications. Work has changed dramatically... I started as a medical receptionist and learned an antique, handwritten system for keeping track of the money (in 1979), and the last system I learned was a completely comprehensive computer system that kept track of everything, and I mean EVERYTHING." - MeliMagick, 52
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