Monday, October 31, 2011

myPhone: Part I

On Sunday night, my iPhone was stolen.
At the Fall Festival.
At our church.
How's that for irony?

It's sickening, really, and that's exactly how I felt when I realized that someone more than likely walked away with my phone as I passed out candy in a game booth. (One of the frustrating parts about this scenario is that I knew...I knew...this was a possibility, and so I deliberately hid my purse in a filing cabinet, and thought my phone was out of the way enough to be in a safe place, too. Clearly, it was not.)

I have never felt so violated, so taken advantage of, or so hurt. I cannot, cannot understand how someone could do what they did. They must be in a desperate place, and I am so trying to remind myself of that. Nevertheless, I'm crushed. My phone had passcode protection, and we deactivated our phone service quickly, so I am very much hoping that my data remains secure and that the collateral damage is minimal.

My condition Sunday evening was...not good. I had a good cry once I got home, letting down from the feeling of helplessness and emotional distress. Today was quite an interesting day, sans phone. But, my outlook at this point is greatly improved, and I'm thankful that I chose to hold off on blog-writing until my state of mind could be considered more "reflective" and less so "vindictive". I'm not upset about the phone itself. It's replaceable. (With some birthday cash that I'd earmarked for curtain-making...sigh.) But, it's the apps and photos and such that I cannot get back that I'm sad for now.

In any case, this experience has made me think.

First, I've found myself thinking that the amount that I rely on that device is impressive. It is my alarm clock, my watch through the day, my connection to everyone, my source of news, my camera...and even when I'm not using the phone, I know it's there and I can. (Basically, it's my grown-up security blanket.) To a degree, yes, I'm sure I rely on my phone more than I should. But, it's the world that we live in. And rely on it, I DO.

Secondly, I've thought about the personal nature of our phones these days, and that it's the loss of that personal data that makes this hard. Yes, it's just a phone, made of metal & plastic & gizmos & gadgets. But, the beauty of iPhones (and likely smart phones in general) that I hadn't appreciated until now, is how much it becomes a personal reflection of us. My photos, my music, my facebook, my e-mail, my contacts.... Those things help tell my life story, and it is violating to have that taken away. And, it isn't just the personal data, but the personal habit. Using my phone throughout the day...from checking the ABC News app. as my hair dries in the morning, to catching up on e-mail as I unload the a part of the habits of my daily life. When that is disrupted, when that is taken away, it doesn't just feel like a piece of technology any longer, but it feels as though it really is a piece of my life. I had no idea until I was forced to spend a day without my iPhone, just how much I use it...and enjoy doing so!

Third, I realize that having an iPhone stolen is hardly the worst thing that could happen. To even have have once had an iPhone, for goodness sake, is evidence of my being a part of a very privileged segment of the world's population. I know that life could be so much darker for us than it is. Relatively speaking, this still only falls in the "annoying" category of the difficult experiences that life can bring.

Finally, I really wish someone had told me about MobileMe or the FindMyiPhone app. before this happened. Sure, everyone was happy to tell me about the perks of such apps once it was too late to be of any use to me. Haha. Everyone was sincerely trying to help, but it is truly an awful feeling to think that, had I had such a tool on my phone, I could've tracked the stolen device or wiped the phone's data or done something else similarly useful. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. So now, besides just feeling bummed that I didn't have an obviously well-known phone feature that could've saved me from this emotional turmoil, I'm also left wondering, "what other super-handy things do my friends and loved ones know about that I don't?!" Please share, won't you?

On a similar note, do you know what the iTunes App Store shows as the example of what the FindMyiPhone app can do? Take a look.

Emily's iPhone located? Really? Just plain cruel, don't you think? Tell me about it.

(Stay tuned for an update. This story is just about to get good!)

Friday, October 21, 2011

Christmas in October

The Christmas decor is up at Walmart, and it's been on display at Hobby Lobby for weeks now...and I am bothered when I see that commercialism beginning so soon. I'll be holding off on decor and preparation until November 25th (at least). I have a strict rule: no Christmas-anything until after Thanksgiving. (Apparently I'm "old school" like that....)

So, as you might imagine, when I joined the Christmas Choir at our church and our first practice began in August, I was admittedly a bit apprehensive about listening to Christmas music so early.

My cousin will smile at what I'm about to say. She's from the school of thought that Christmas music can never come too early. My dear sister, who shares my feelings about giving each holiday and season its due time, might disown me...but I do hope she doesn't.

The fact is, I am truly enjoying listening to and singing Christmas music in October. (To be clear, sis, it's just the choir music, I promise!)

Most of my mornings in recent weeks have begun by singing along (with gusto!) to the rehearsal CD in the car on the drive to work. The songs are jubilant, beautiful, and with lyrics like "arise...come alive!!!...", how can one help but to be awakened and ready to start the day? My morning "rehearsals" have been such a worshipful time.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son,
and will call him Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14

(This is, interestingly enough, not my first post this year about singing Christmas music out-of-season. Remember this one in April?)

I always greatly enjoy and appreciate Christmas music in the weeks leading up to December 25th. And, I know that when December rolls around (shoot, when the day after Thanksgiving rolls around!), I'll be ready to play my Jim Brickman Christmas albums (yes, plural) on a regular basis. But, what I didn't expect was the appreciation that I've found for these carols right now.

Right now, the shopping frenzy has not begun. The television commercials are not yet emphasizing finding "just the right gift", and our minds aren't overwhelmed by what "must" get done before Christmas morning. The decor & the shopping & the wrapping & the baking & the parties are all such fun! But, they can lead to a frenzied and overly-busy month. Right now, I just get to reflect on the message of Christmas through the music, without the distraction of all of the other things that December holds.

There is something to be said, I believe, for having a few weeks of mental and spiritual preparation for the holidays. Who would've thought that by listening to Christmas music in October, God would bless me with the chance to do exactly that?

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Isaiah 9:6

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Six Months

Six months ago Friday, we closed on our house! We didn't move in until a month or so after that, but we have officially owned our home for half a year (plus four days) now. Wow. We've done a lot of living in the past six months, and have still been able to spend a lot of time working on the house, too. The progress we've made in these past months is considerable, and I'm so very proud of what we've accomplished.

New paint, new hardware, new furniture...a new "look". We're definitely making our mark here.

Those dents in the garage door? Yep. That was all us! (Okay, that was all me.)
The paint stains on the carpet? That was me, too.
Royal has chewed the trim in the laundry room, and the window screen in the guest bedroom has a few Royal-related scratches.
(Seriously, Bobby, have you not damaged anything? I'm the destructive one?! I didn't see that coming.)

But, I love all of that. It means we live here. Are we trying to destroy things? No. We take a lot of pride in our home, obviously. But, a house doesn't turn into a home because of a new paint job. Instead, it's the living and the memory-making that takes place there (for better or worse!), that makes it a special place to be.

We don't want to fix the garage door right now (let's be honest, I could damage it again!), and for now it serves as a reminder to me that accidents happen. The paint stain reminds me how hard we worked to paint for so many weeks, and how much fun it was for Bobby and I to take on that project together. And the Royal stuff? Well, we love that dog, who undeniably brings us more joy than the times that his behavior reminds us that he's very much still a puppy. I hope those bite marks always make me think of him, and these past few months when the three of us made the house our own.

In many ways, it feels like we've lived here for far longer than six short months. We're so very content, very comfortable, very much "at home" in this space, and that's exactly the way it should be.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Objects In Mirror

Did anyone destroy their car's passenger-side mirror while reversing out of the garage to head to work this morning?

Nope? Just me then?


Yes, that is how my day began. Which was a shame, too, since it had otherwise been such a lovely Friday morning, complete with a new outfit combination and a hot cup of Hazelnut-flavored coffee. And then I had to go and complicate it.

This little accident is especially annoying since I was making a deliberate effort to not let it happen. I had my foot on the brake, and I was watching the mirror and the garage closely to avoid such an incident. (Which I knew would happen one day. It's a tight fit in there.)  But, I clearly wasn't watching closely enough. The ol' Camry had a little more 'get-up-and-go' reversing power than I gave it credit for today, and before I could stop it, I just watched the mirror get crushed.


In all fairness, I'm convinced the garage is out to get us, as this is not its first offense. The garage door may or may not have been shut twice on the tailgate of Bobby's truck in recent weeks...and the person responsible for that misfortune is still very, very sorry.

The matter of fault in today's incident is largely irrelevant and placing blame is clearly unhealthy. But nevertheless, it is being contested a bit between the mister and I. For reasons I shall not describe, I am inclined to believe that my dear husband shares some of the responsibility here. (Although I'll admit, Bobby, my preliminary estimate was a tad unfair. 75%-25% is too harsh. I was the one behind the wheel, after all. And...all of the vehicular damage suffered in recent memory has been my fault. I'm willing to go 95%-5%. Thoughts?)

Why is accepting fault so difficult? ... I really should man-up and accept 100% of the blame, but why do we (or really, is it just me?!) feel that urge to diffuse responsibility? EVEN IF someone else IS even a little bit responsible, why does it feel so unnatural to say "it was all my fault"? There are people who are able to do that. I, however, have obviously not matured to that point just yet. 

This is another opportunity to grow, I suppose.

So, we have this unexpected expense for something that probably should've been avoidable and I wish wouldn't have happened. (Guess that's why it's called an accident....) I would've preferred to spend the money it will take to fix it on something more, say, a bathroom doorknob. (Hey, 'fun' is relative!)

This hasn't ruined my Friday, though. Heavens, no. I'd have to put this pretty high on the imaginary list of "Top 5 Annoying Things That Have Happened to Us This Year", and could be so much worse.

Life is too short to lose perspective on the true magnitude of annoyances like this, and there's no looking back. I mean, really, in my case, there's no looking back...the mirror's broken, remember?

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Puppy Love

This morning I substituted in a kindergarten classroom. When one of the little girls came in the door, she stopped in her tracks, eyed me, and quite emphatically said, "Whoa, what are youuuu doing here?"

To which I replied, "Well, good morning to you, too, dear."

I thought, at that point, that it might be a blog-worthy exchange...until 4th grade happened this afternoon.

Specifically, one pre-pre-pubescent 4th grader happened, who we shall refer to as "Romeo".

And here you were, reading the title and thinking this was another post about Royal. Oh, how wrong you were.

There I was, minding my own business, just passing out papers to the class before the end of the day.

Romeo: "Mrs. Phillips, I would gladly take a bullet for you."

Me: "Hmm. That's quite generous of you." (I walk away thinking, "that's quite the line! Surely he's just heard that somewhere and has no idea what that even means.")

And then, as the rest of the students were lining up the door, Romeo asked if he could tell me something to the side "real quick". I had no advance warning of what was to come next. (Except for that whole "take a bullet" thing. Yeah, I guess that should've been a clue.)

Romeo: "I'm like, really, pretty much in love with you."

Me: "Oh!"

Okay, before you pass judgement on my lackluster response, what would you have said, to a 9-year-old, in-the-moment like that? With a classroom full of students about to head out the door, I might add! Sure, in hindsight I can think of several other responses ("I'm married! ... "Do you have ANY idea how old I am?! ... "Gross!"),  but again, I was kind of put on the spot there.

I'm hoping (and it's entirely probable) that he'll forget he ever felt this way. However, given his boldness in expressing his (...gulp...) "love", I may just have the chance to express my very-much-non-mutual feelings another day. Probably won't use the "Gross!" response, though, so rest assured.... 

Me: "How do you know you're in love?"

Romeo: "Pretty much just how you look. (face turning red) ... I think I have a problem."

Yes, child, I'd say you do.

I'm more on-guard against such "feelings" when I'm teaching in, oh, a middle school classroom. (Although, I'm usually forced to be so strict when dealing with 8th graders that I'm quite certain my demeanor negates any feelings of attraction! Not a bad thing.) But, I've never before (to my knowledge, anyway) been the object of a 4th grader's affection. So, note to self: 4th grade boys can think they're in love. Yikes. Who knew?!

Romeo is surely innocent expression of "puppy love" at its best. But this is, of course, a somewhat delicate situation to be in. There are far too many incidences of inappropriate behavior in school environments and so my awareness is heightened of the importance of my thoughtful response...for those obvious reasons, and because it would also be inappropriate to carelessly crush a young man's confidence at a delicate age.  Given that confidence, I'm sure he will have many, many age-appropriate romances ahead of him. I hope he does. More importantly, I'm hopeful that he'll be taught that those romances should be based on far more than just appearance.

For now, though, he's just got to learn that hitting on the teacher isn't the wisest decision.

That'd be a good start...and I'll choose my words wisely.