Thursday, March 22, 2012

iPhone-Less Wednesday

Yesterday I went out without my iPhone. It doesn't sound like such a big deal, and, indeed, as the fact dawned on me, it seemed, at first, only a small lapse. But over the next few minutes an an icy panic built as the full magnitude hit me:

• I didn't know the address of Rubirosa, the restaurant I was headed to for lunch.

• The restaurant was in Soho, where I'm not so familiar with streets and subway stops (and I'd built in no extra traveling time).

• I didn't have my well-researched list of dishes to order.

• I wouldn't be able to take notes at my lunch meeting.

• I didn't know the address of the Chinese herbalist I'd planned to visit afterwards.

• I didn't know the train schedule for commuter trains out of Manhattan.

• I wouldn't have anything to read on the train.

• If my friends were doing anything fun, I'd have no way of hearing about it.

• If emergencies were to arise, no one could contact me for help.

• If I experienced an emergency, I wouldn't be able to contact anyone for help.

Concerns crashed in dreadful waves, until I'd made myself nauseous with the conviction that I'd done something insanely reckless, and had no choice but to backtrack, get the damned phone, and arrive half an hour late for lunch.

But I got a grip on myself, remembering I'd survived life prior to 2005 perfectly well with no mobile phone at all, and pushed on, resetting my perspective to make a fun challenge out of it.

Surprisingly, iPhone-less Wednesday seemed to sharpen my mind. I plotted strategies: buy gum at the station to make change for the pay phone. Find a Zagat guide in the news stand, look up the restaurant's phone number, and call for subway instructions. Pay close attention at lunch so I'd retain a laundry list of things to do and remember afterward. Walk to the herbalist, even though it's more or less a straight shot bus ride down Canal Street (I could use the exercise, plus the visual landmarks would help me find the destination). Buy an actual newspaper to read on the train, and during the wait for its unknowable departure. I considered stopping midway at an Internet cafe for an email check, but resisted. It would somehow ruin the purity of it all.

Musicians on tour quickly infantilize. Your logistics are handled for you, there's little strategizing, you progress through your pre-determined daily tasks as if your life were on rails. I realized I'd essentially been on tour since 2005, with a road manager/personal assistant cushioning it all, reigning me in, and rescuing me from missteps. For the first time in years, I felt in full moment-by-moment control of my own fate. Every choice mattered, because there was no safety net. It was an invigorating challenge!

I got home fine (glumly recalling that past a certain age one's friends don't often call with last minute fun, anyway). I felt somehow changed, in the same way one feels changed when the lights come back on after an extended power blackout.

It dawns on me that this may be one of those times when I look like a ditzy idiot going on and on. But it's my Slog, and I'll self-indulge if I wanna...

I should add that Rubirosa rocked (here's a good Chowhound thread).

...and here's a cute blog post by Dan Lyons (the former Fake Steve Jobs) on tech addiction. The article he's responding to is worth a read, too.

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