My Year Without a Mobile Phone

how to survive without a mobile phone

“How to Survive Like It’s 1995″

My year without a mobile phone wasn’t part of some process to simplify my life. I wasn’t trying to abandon technology or get back to basics or go on some natural retreat.

It started a year ago when I tried to update my existing mobile phone, and to complete the process I needed a number that was part of the original packaging. I couldn’t find it, so I gave up and said, “Eh, oh well.”

It wasn’t a big loss. I didn’t have a smart phone, it was the kind that you had to triple-tap to text, and I barely used it. I work from home, and most of the places I go are within a one-mile radius of my house, so I could use the home phone if I needed to call.

(By the way, I’m not really a fan of the home phone since so many companies don’t respect the “do not call” list. Ours was part of a bundle package with the internet and cable, and we kept it in case the kids needed to use it in an emergency.)

So there I was without a working mobile, but feeling rather indifferent about it, I didn’t replace it right away.

I could survive like it was 1995. I did it once before. Maybe I would get lost and have to drive around looking for a store, and I wouldn’t be immediately available to reach. Since everyone else around me has a phone, I knew I could just borrow one if I really had to.

Living Without a Mobile Phone

I made a few social observations during this time when I didn’t carry a phone around. First of all, it’s really odd to stand in line and watch all fifteen people ahead of you look down at their phones at the same time.

Being the only person in the room without a phone almost feels like being the only sober person at the party, like you’re missing out on something, but at the same time maybe you’re the only person who is fully paying attention.

I noticed that some people put their phones away when having a face-to-face conversation better than others. I appreciate when people put their phones in their pocket or bag instead of placing it directly on the table in front of them. I realize I’m not as important as someone’s husband or kids, but it’s distracting to stop and wait every five minutes while the person you’re talking to responds to a text.

When people say they struggle with feeling too connected and not being able to unplug, here is an easy solution: You can turn off your phone. (There’s a button on the top.)

Also, re: loud ring tones, not a fan.

Try Google Voice

So people could still reach me, I set up a Google Voice account. I kept the same mobile number that I had for several years, and I moved it (ported it) to Google Voice.

Google Voice is like a main switchboard that joins your phone lines and your computer. People call you on one main number, and you control the settings. You can screen your calls and set “do not disturb” times. I used it to forward the calls from my mobile number so I could answer them on my home phone. I had texts and voice messages sent to my email, and I responded to texts from my computer. Most people didn’t notice that I no longer had a mobile phone since they could still call and text me at that number. The cost to set up a Google Voice account was $20, but after that it was free, and I wasn’t paying monthly charges for a mobile plan.

Eventually my husband insisted that I get a new phone for safety and convenience, so now I have a fancy, new phone, and he can text me instead of calling at me from across the house like people had to do in olden times.

I use my fancy, new phone to send texts to four people and take pictures of my food. I like it.

What do you love most about your phone?

Gallery Frames: Before Pictures

It’s been a while since I’ve shared updates for the home improvement projects I’ve been working on. If you would like to know what our house looks like, I’ll tell you:

My house looks like an estate sale.

I’ve been buying frames at garage sales and thrift stores to decorate a few blank walls, and I finally started hanging them.

Not counting the smaller frames which I’ve had for ages, I gradually accumulated about twenty or so large frames that can hold at least an 8×10 photo, but most are even bigger.

I don’t often shop at garage sales, but if I happen to spot some frames as we drive by, I make Doug slow down to a rolling stop while I jump out and buy all the frames. Then I jump back into the car, and we continue on our way to Chipotle.

Garage sales are the cheapest place to find frames, but Goodwill had some amazing frames as well in the $3 to $6 price range, and that was so much less than trying to buy them at IKEA, which I also considered. (I didn’t want them to all match, anyway.)

After buying them and letting them pile up in the closet and garage for many months, I realized it was time to make decisions about hanging them. I had enough frames to make two full gallery walls plus a few extra to hang in other rooms.

I did hang them, but I still haven’t put new pictures in them yet.

Now the kitchen, living room, hallway, and two bedrooms all display mass-produced art prints from the seventies and eighties. What really gives the estate sale look are the $1, $3, and $5 price stickers in bright blue and pink.

estate sale frames

This week my goal is to order new prints.

I have so many projects that are almost finished, I’d really like to finish one a week, ideally.

I usually do a focus post on a decluttering topic every week, but during this time of year I’m thinking more about projects I would like to finish before the holidays get here. My house will surely become more simplified if I can finish a few projects. Thanksgiving is in seven weeks, and I am not even kidding about that.

Do you have any projects to wrap up before the holiday season starts?

A New Design

at a flower stall in Venice

When my five-year-old daughter asked me what work I was doing on the computer, I was working, not procrastinating by checking email or blog comments or looking at Pinterest.

“I’m designing a website.” And with a pause…”It’s a page on the internet.”

Would she understand? I wonder if I should try to explain the internet, but I can’t. How do you explain one of the world’s greatest marvels to someone who is only five?

But apparently the internet needs no explanation because she is five already, after all. She knows how to play Angry Birds, and she wants her own email account.

For a moment it occurs to me that she will never have to live without the internet, and instead she will have to learn to take breaks away from it so she can hear herself think and to contemplate her own thoughts. I hope she knows that even if you don’t post a picture, the event still happened, and you don’t always need to tell everyone what you’re thinking and doing and reading all the time.

Years ago (it feels like ten, but it is closer to twenty) I went out with a guy who had a job at The Internet Store. Yes, the Internet Store was the actual name of the store, and people would go to the store to buy the internet for their homes and take classes to learn how to use Yahoo and email. It was all very high-tech at the time because that was when people still carried pagers.

Years from now we will be the grandparents of the internet age, the people who remember all the clunkiness and when it used to take five minutes to view an image on the desk computer from our dial-up modem.

The internet is one of my top-ten great loves. Who knows what may come, but until then, I’m very pleased to make this part of it.

To go along with the times, I gave the site a new design (I prefer to call it a makeover). I hope you enjoy it. It works well on phones and tablets too, if that’s your preference. (You can resize your browser to see how it will adjust to fit on those screens.)

Since it’s still new, it might be a little bit wonky as I work out any remaining kinks. If you’re using Internet Explorer 8 or older, your life will be better if you upgrade to IE9. If something looks funny on your screen, you might try resetting your browser’s cache so everything will load fresh. If you have any questions about it, let me know.

I’m very pleased to show it to you. I know it’s not easy to adjust to a new look, but I hope you like it too. I put a lot of thought into how people use this site and how to make the older posts easier to find. (After you’ve tried it out, you can email me suggestions.)

Feel free to take a look around. (Click here if you’re reading this via rss or email.)