Sunshine & Vanilla

being eclectic while trying to be less electric.

Month: June, 2012

On Being Eclectic (or was that Electric?)

One of the problems I have when it comes to the world of blogging is choosing a theme. All the marketing classes, blog tips, advice sites, and even cool kids will tell you the most important thing you can do to get people interested in your blog is Choose A Theme.

I can do that to some extent.  I have my somewhat abandoned home/crafty blog and my slowly becoming obsolete fitness/food blog.  Those are both pretty focused.  But what about THIS blog, what’s Sunshine & Vanilla all about?

I guess it’s all about me. Surprise!  I wanted a space to dump all my random thoughts.  Then, after my last entry, I decided it would be my blog about becoming a less WIRED, more UNPLUGGED, version of myself.  It would be my Unplugged Blog, detailing the adventures of a girl trying to give up a little technology every day.

But then what about other things?  What other things, you ask?  Well, I’ve been tossing around the idea of trying and writing about some of the exercises found in a book I recently purchased called “This Book Will Change Your Life.” Originally I’d hoped to do all of them and blog about each exercise, however, looking through the book, I know I won’t do some and some I wouldn’t blog about *winks.*  Then there’s that whole book and music obsession. Concert reviews? Book reviews? General rambling? Where do those go?  And what of the introspective side?  I’ve been revisiting my gratitude journals and listing things I am grateful for each day. So I thought I could blog five or ten of those things each day, but that doesn’t fit in with the unplugging or the life-changing book.  I do list those things on my facebook most days, though, so I guess I’m alright there.

Maybe I should just call this the life blog. The anything and everything blog. Sunshine & Vanilla, Commas & Ampersands.  It’s a little bit of everything all tossed into one.  I’m throwing caution to the wind and blowing into the universe without a given theme.

Or maybe, just maybe, it’s all tied together and I’m just beginning to connect the dots.

In any event, in true rambling form, I have wandered away from the topic I originally came to discuss which is the idea of unplugging and how difficult it is proving to be.  I am slowly coming up with a plan, but have been met with obstacles at every turn.

Mostly in my own mind.  Which, let’s face it, is where most of our true obstacles lie.

Step 1:  Rather than just up and cancel my phone immediately, I decided baby steps were key.  I would delete the Facebook, Twitter, and Gmail apps from the phone.  No more pavlovian reaction to the endless notifications of messages and comments and emails.  The need to obsessively check these things would be gone. Extinguished. It would be tough, but I could do it!

Or so I thought.  I was all set to do it until I realized and subsequently held a massive thirty second pout session with myself: That means I can’t upload cell phone photos anymore…. ………………..  Which severely impacted Step 2 (which was to decrease amount of FaceBooking I do, limiting it to one status update of gratitude and photos only from here on out.)

So now Steps 1 and 2 had a wrench firmly inserted.

Step 3:  Cancel the cable when my “bundle pricing” runs out in September. No problem! I can totally do that, I’ve lived without cable before. I’m on it!  Only I had to call the horrible cable company from the ninth circle of hell for something else two days ago and, as a consolation prize, they extended my bundle out for another year.  Which means if I cancel my cable, the price of everything else goes up.

Thwarted, again!  But not defeated!

Step 4 is in the works but requires a bit of fine tuning.  I am no longer going to allow myself to utilize my laptop in my den (where the television is).  Laptop must be used elsewhere in the house.  No more laptopping while watching television/movies/whatever.  I have to CHOOSE one electronic device or the other and focus only on that one.  But this means I must first make my laptop more easily mobile by purchasing it a new battery so I needn’t always be tethered by the cord as I am at the moment.  Step 4 can still be implemented, but not as awesomely as I’d hoped.

So I guess sometime between curling up with my kindle and wrapping up “That’s Alright, Mama,” finishing Alice: Madness Returns on the xbox, watching the 75 episodes of useless crap stored on my DVR, battling it out in a few games of Words with Friends, laughing through a couple games of Draw Something, and wasting 75% of my time on the internet learning more useless crap I never needed to know I’ll regroup.  Revisit this idea of unplugging.  Regoal, relist, revise.

Too Much of A Good Thing

I have four blogs.

1) The one you are reading: I started it awhile back as a way to morph over from my super-secret blog to a more public place but never did much with it. This may soon change.
2) Another Fitness Journey where I write about my never-ending attempts to become a healthier version of myself.
3) Domestically Impaired where I write (or, rather, was writing, it’s been awhile) about my endeavors to become a craftier, more domesticated version of myself.
4) The Super-Secret Blog where I’ve been writing over ten years. It’s an emotional dumping ground where I am at my most honest and most raw. I very rarely write there anymore these days. And, no, you don’t get a link.

I have a twitter account. Mostly I ramble sarcastic comments about pop culture to and/or about celebrities. Vanilla Ice became my 100th follower after retweeting something I said about him vs an old boyfriend. It’s that sort of thing. Frivolous.

Of course I have a Facebook account. Who doesn’t these days? I’m kind of a FaceBook junkie, though I’m beginning to get it under control.

I have a tumblr. I actually had the tumblr way before I had any of the wordpress blogs. I started it as a place to vomit all the heartbreak I was feeling when a boy completely and totally obliterated my sad little heart. Many a sad song, poem, photo, quote, and lyric went up there. It was a wallowing place of woeful self-pitying therapeutic catharsis. Then I sort of forgot about it (until he and I went through round two.. or maybe it was three.. or fou? who cares). In any event, at some point I went back, cleaned it up, and began toying around with it. Now it’s mostly a place my Instagram photos end up, an occasional story, sometimes some youtube videos or an occasional reblog, sometimes some quotes.

Obviously I have an Instagram account.

I have a Pinterest account. I really REALLY loved Pinterest just before it really caught on and blew up like mad crazy. I was O-B-S-E-S-S-E-D with it. I used some of the ideas I have pinned there in my own house, I pinned some things of my house, I did some of the craft projects, I still want to do some of the craft projects, I’ve made some of the recipes, etc. etc. I’m not sure how I fell out of love with it… It’s still such a cool site, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I logged in and pinned something.

There’s also the Flickr account, the RunKeeper account (I use it for walking), the MyFitnessPal account, the FitBit account… I have two active hotmail accounts and two active gmail accounts. I have an inactive yahoo mail account and an active yahoo messenger account (though I’ve tried three times in the past three weeks to cancel it and it won’t let me!?!). Photobucket, LastFM, Spotify… I’m pretty sure I have about ten other accounts I can’t even think of right now. All I know for sure is I do NOT have a myspace account. And I’m fairly sure I never signed up for LinkedIn.

I bank online, I put library books on hold online, I shop online, I pay bills online, I make reservations online, I buy tickets online, hell, I even order my pizza online these days.

I am W-I-R-E-D.

I love it. I hate it.

I love whenever I think, “What is this person talking about?” I can just google it. I love that I can google any random thing that pops into my head and find an answer. I love that I can KNOW. Google is probably my favorite thing about technology. It’s like an instantaneous index. I’m a nerd, remember? I loved indexes. I’d think of something while studying or reading, flip to the index, and AH-HA! There it is! Page 42! I loved encyclopedias for the same reason. Now we have google. It’s making us all geniuses. But it’s making us all stupid, too. We all know so much, but we all know only so much. We all know a little bit about everything, but few of us know a lot about anything.

But that’s a debate for another time.

I have come to a place in my life where suddenly I am tired of being so wired.

I’m sitting on my sofa. The television is on, but I’m obviously ignoring it. I know I’m ignoring it because the OnDemand menu is on and Leonard Maltin is previewing his picks repeatedly in the little window in the upper right corner. Again.

At the end of my sofa, actually on the sofa, is a power strip. Plugged in to it is my camera battery charger, my kindle charger, and my cell phone charger. The laptop charger is plugged into a separate outlet behind me. On the coffee table next to me you can find the television remote, the cable box remote, my portable phone, my cell phone, and an xbox controller. I am, obviously, typing on the laptop (with five tabs open).

Most weeknights, after about 9pm, you can find me on my sofa. I’ll be perusing the internet while watching something on television and playing a game or two of words with friends & draw something on my cell phone. At the same time. It’s really started to bother me, this need to be multitasking always. I feel like I’m only ever really giving anything 1/2… 1/3… 1/4… 1/6 of my attention. It’s unsettling me. Something in me is shifting inside. Something in me is beginning to protest this overwhelming amount of technology I have spent the past few years embracing.

I feel like I need to disconnect myself somehow. Clearly I can’t disconnect all the way, but maybe I can find some ways. I have tried television free evenings, those work pretty well. Actually, twice in my adult life I have canceled my cable entirely, not because of cost, but because I felt like I needed to watch less and live more. I am thinking of doing this very thing again when my “deal” runs out come September. Will I DIE without The Walking Dead, Judge Judy, and Person of Interest? No (but I might die without the next season of American Horror Story).  In fact, maybe I will even convince a friend to let me come watch one of these shows (not Judge Judy, don’t worry friends!) at their house – thus becoming more socially involved.

But what else could I do? What else could I do to live a more focused, less zombified by the little glaring screen type existence?

What if I started by giving up my cell phone? I have a landline in my house now. I have the internet. What if I suspended my cell phone service for a time and saw how it went? So what if I couldn’t check my email, facebook, twitter, whatever every five seconds? So what if I had to actually call people (but not even really, I could email people and vice versa)? So what if I didn’t have instantaneous access to everything all the time? I posed the question on my facebook, some of the responses were pretty hilarious. No, it’s not the early 90s, but…

I think it might be an easier transition for me than for some. I didn’t even technically have a ‘real’ cell phone until the mid-late 00’s. To be precise, I was 26. I was forced to get one when I left to live in Europe for a few months but ended up realizing how useful they could be. Specifically when you needed to call your Italian friends for directions. I didn’t get a smart phone until about two years ago. That’s right, I held onto my little no-internet flip phone as long as I possibly could while everyone was loving their iPhones. I watched as I spent more and more time hanging out with people while they hung out with their phones. I rolled my eyes and made snarky comments and much to people’s horror (and sometimes anger) asked them to please put their phones away when we were together. Then I got myself a smart phone. And joined the ranks. Over time I climbed the ladders until I, too, was one of the worst offenders. Having google on my phone is one of the best worst things that’s ever happened to me. INSTANT ANSWERS ON THE GO? Good god.

So what if I gave it up? What if I gave up my cell phone? I rarely talk on the phone as it is and now I have a land line with an answering machine. It would make certain things more difficult, but let’s face it, I went almost 30 years without any of those things – I think I could handle going back that way.

I’m really considering it. But taking that leap… It’s hard.

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