Monday, June 20, 2011

The Year of Living Telepathically, one year without a cell phone.

© 2011 Odilia Rivera Santos

I am a Capricorn, which means I love to organize things. Please don't confuse that with making the bed or doing laundry.
Last year, I began a project to write a poem on the subject of love everyday until I reached 365 poems. I completed the 365 poems in less than a year and will self-publish them with the help of my two fans. I actually have an Indiegogo account set up for I am here now, my poetry project. I will share the link on a later post.
It seems when I come up with a theme, it becomes easier and easier for me to produce work, and the quality improves as time goes on. Build the schema and the ideas will come!

A Life Theme
On Saturday, my phone ran out of juice, and I was not inclined to fill it up again. There are probably drivers out there who feel the same way;the car runs out of gas and you say, "To hell with it! I'm leaving it on the side of the road."
The universe appeared to shout from the rooftops in an attempt to get my attention:

I have to apply the same dedication and diligence to a life theme as I have to themes in writing. This summer, I completed a novel, a collection of nonfiction essays totaling 200 pages, and 365 poems on the subject of love. I am extremely productive with self-imposed schedules and deadlines, so off the page and onto life.
In an attempt to be frugal, which is not my favorite thing, I thought about what I could give up without a problem. The phone was the first thing that came to mind.
Surely, you jest?
No, I don't need a phone. I don't have children and have explained to everyone I know if you have a question, call 3JuanJuan and if you have an emergency call 9JuanJuan.
I am very efficient with time: I don't watch TV, I write for five hours per day minimum, I read everyday and market my writing online for a couple of hours per day. I cook, sleep, lollygag, go to museums and enjoy the city.
I recently wrote a novel in which there is an epistolary section, and I was reminded through writing these formal exchanges of how much I love letter-writing. It is a kind of slow living. When I was a kid, I would sit next to my mother while she wrote long letters to my grandparents and I loved to read their letters to my mother.
I would now ask everyone who reads this post to consider writing me a letter; we don't have to be all Amish about it: you may use the Internet to email your letter to me.

What I learned from Rick Jarow
I took a couple of workshops on Creating the Work you Love with Rick Jarow, an anti-careerist and professor at Vassar college. He had us think about what we would do if we won ten million dollars. I realized my actions wouldn't change at all. I would read, write, go to cultural events around the city, take classes here and there, teach creative writing workshops, and meditate. Nothing too extravagant. I have never been a shoe or designer bag collector.
He also spoke about how in making career transitions, one might have to make some sacrifices.
The transition from teaching full-time to doing freelance work and an occasional creative writing workshop has been very interesting -- a kind of gang initiation, but one without regrets. I have given up going to restaurants 3 or 4 times per week and buying outfits identical to ones in the closet. Being on a budget is not my idea of fun, but, as with everything else, I will turn the experience into an experiment in order to evolve spiritually and write some interesting articles. After all, the life of a writer is about learning, experimentation and oversharing.

Technology and Communications
I spend enough time tied to the computer on a daily basis, so traveling with my Blackberry, a little computer in my pocket that always seems to require my attention, has lost its novelty. A lot of times, when speaking to people on the phone, they put me on hold five times, chew in my ear, have loud conversations with other people right in my ear and order sandwiches mid-conversation:

I agreed to go help an artist with some grant-writing tomorrow.
Oh yeah? Mustard! I asked for mustard, not mayo!
Go ahead; I'm listening.

The ubiquitousness of cell phones makes people think it's okay to have one attached to an ear at all times, as if the world were invisible or interested in listening to the minutiae of one's life and the person on the other end able to filter out unnecessary noises.
Yes, I am now ready not only to give up the Blackberry with its $648.00 per year expense, beeps, hisses, and whistles, but the experience of just being and not actually being with another person, keeping him or her company. Maybe, phones and phone calls should be more inconvenient so people prepare themselves a little bit more for a conversation.

It has been nice to not hear the phone since Saturday night and to know nothing is going off at the bottom of my bag, tempting me to check. It could be a tweet from Alec Baldwin! OMG!
I can check my tweets when I turn on my Mac.

I will be writing, researching, translating, marketing, and performing but if you really must speak with me, we can do Skype. I can take a brief break from my regular 12 to 15 hour workday to speak with humans almost-in-person.

A Call to Pursue More Enlightened communication
On Saturday, June 18, 2011, at midnight, my service was shut off. My monff to monff plan requires payment before midnight every thirty days. I held the phone in my hand and thought
aren't there enough ways to get in touch with me already?

Wouldn't you rather sit at a nice cafe and talk in person?

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  1. I know exactly what you mean! My cell phone contract ends in October and instead of contemplating which phone I should get, I'm tempted to go without.

    Unlike you, I have children and a long commute which are the biggest deterrents from going without, but I've noticed a behavior that I've developed that I do not like: the fact that I can not stop checking my phone for the various Twitter and Facebook updates, emails or texts I receive even in the most uncommon and unusual situations.

    I estimate that 95% of what comes through my phone can wait till I get to a computer to read and respond. Seriously.

    Beautifully written and inspirational, Odilia. Thank you.

  2. Glad you liked it. Thanks for reading, Ramón!


  3. Your article is an inspiration to me Odilia I'm amazed what a industrious person you are.
    I do feel that when I simplify my life that I am a lot more content and happier as I don't get distracted from what's really important, quality human interaction and relationships.
    I noticed this when I went kayaking down a big river for 7 days in the wilderness with some friends and we only took with us one pair of shorts, 2 t-shirts and a tracksuit and a small shopping bag of beef jerky and dried fruit, a sleeping bag and a tent.
    I found this trip cleaned out my mind of wanting material things and comforts because I got used to roughing it. It's amazing how little you need out in the bush.
    Going to a shopping mall is now a tedious experience for me.
    I must say I could never do without an emergency phone though, so I keep a simple little $10 tracfone which only costs $6.66/month for service which is a trivial amount.
    I often think of the simple Bedouins or tribal people of the desert who just live on camel milk and their meat. I find this inspiring and I guess that's why I like going camping in remote areas.
    I wish you all the success with your book publications.