Wednesday, September 7, 2011

These few golden days, I'd share with you.

It's only the first week of September and I already can't seem to shake the coldness in my feet. After spending the day walking around campus through puddles, recently formed rivers and downpours... well, it feels good to be tucked away in my bed on the third floor.

Tomorrow, I may only venture out of my apartment for two things: to do laundry and to buy rain boots. Each time it storms I think "I really need new rain boots" (I've outgrown mine) and neglect to buy them, thinking that it will be sunny enough soon. This time, the rain is expected to continue for six out of the next ten days. (Besides, Millersville forces me to walk further to class than the entire length of Penn State York's campus.)

Though I knew the rain was to come, it still came as a shock to me as we pulled in to a Baltimore gas station late on Monday night. After a warm (or mostly warm), sunny, weekend spent at the beach, the cold rain was an unwelcome marker of my arrival home.

So, now, in an attempt to feel dry, and to even just feel my toes, I'm daydreaming of beach chairs, seagulls, reggae music, fresh seafood, private beaches, and outdoor showers. The sunburn covering my body from neck to knees helps to remind me of just how sunny, warm and perfect the weekend was.

While it's true that vacation (and any chance to leave York, really) is always recharging for me, I decided to take this last-minute, essentially unplanned trip a bit further - I turned my cell phone off for three days. Other than to turn my phone on and send a quick text to check in with my mom, this morning was the first time I used my phone since I left at 3:00 on Saturday. That meant no e-mail, no text messaging, no Pinterest, no Google - I didn't even see Sunday Secrets until late last night. And the PostSecret app is just now downloading as I type.

So many professors had spent "syllabus week" drilling in their no technology policy. No cell phones. No laptops. No technological distraction. As one professor put the issue, we as college students, we're all facing a crisis - "technological ADD".

We've all noticed it in our own lives. The person in front of you at the check out line chatting away on their phone while the cashier tries to ask them questions. Your dinner date who is constantly nodding and saying "uh-huh" as he or she texts under the table. The friend who is attempting to drive down the highway, change the radio station and use their phone's GPS, all at once. Day in and day out, we let our cell phones interrupt personal moments, work shifts and classes too.

My frustration with constant connection has been growing like spores of bacteria in a petri dish. The constant pressure of replying to messages and e-mails quickly and effectively is burdensome and distracting. In writing a one page essay, I found myself checking facebook four times and replying to three different e-mails. I knew I needed a break from all the distractions that technology can bring.

After reading Kelle Hampton's post "Unplugged, Plugged,"I felt even more inspired to turn my phone off for a while and to tuck it away where I wouldn't be tempted by apps, dinging e-mails and texts from friends. She knows what she's talking about.

For almost four days, my only vice was my iPod. There's nothing as relaxing as some of your favorite music while your toes are buried in the sand. The only problem with that scenario is unburying your feet quick enough to run from the high tide and rough waves that covered the beach all weekend.

The other aspect of leaving home that I love is the food. I've never eaten so well. Possibly not even in France.

Spinach salad with glazed bay scallops, fresh mango, pineapple and shredded coconut? I'll take it.
Pan seared swordfish with risotto and pesto? Yes, please.
Smoked duck breast over sweet corn risotto? Delicious.
Salmon in a brown sugar tomato glaze, served over homemade potato salad? Yum.
Smoked trout dip with home made tortilla chips? Always a good idea.

It's important to have the time to sit down and enjoy food - good, local, organic food, "slow food."
While I try to do as much of that as I can at home, on vacation the time spent eating doesn't matter.

Every now and then (even for me) it's important to take a food days to relax without the stress of work, school, laundry, grocery shopping, even the gym. I'm not sure what it was - the rough water, great company, delicious food or being without a cell phone for a few days but I feel recharged and ready to take on whatever September brings.

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