Enjoy Not Knowing

Just another American living in Sweden


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15 days: my iphone withdrawal story

15 days, that’s one day more than two weeks. That’s how long I haven’t had a smart phone at my immediate disposal. That’s actually how long I haven’t had a phone of any kind easily at hand. 

These days there are a lot of articles about phone addiction, the dangers of extended screen time, or even this one about decreased mental capacity while in close proximity to a smart phone. I haven’t done any empirical studies on how smartphone use personally affects me, but it’s definitely safe to say I am affected. 

First, there occurred a mishap that led to my iPhone being submerged in water for an extended amount of time. No, I do not have the 7, so yes, that was the end of that. Not that I would believe it at first. My very first response was to envelop my phone in a bag of rice for over 48h. Because diligent Googling said that was the ideal amount of time. 

These first 48 hours were no walk in the park. I constantly felt like I was forgetting something whenever I was leaving home, or a friend’s place – wherever I was really. That feeling of “something is missing” was not a comfortable one. Even when I assured myself that it was my phone, and that I didn’t have it with me. 


I didn’t let the fact that my phone was drying out in a bag of rice stop me from uploading to Instagram or scrolling through Facebook. Most importantly I didn’t let it stop me from taking pictures. (I have over 6,000 pictures on my phone pretty much at all times, and yes, I back up regularly to the cloud and harddrives – don’t cry for me Argentina). My addiction to technology is deeply ingraned. I borrowed my wife’s phone often and brought my SDLR around with me in a way usually only reserved for tourists. 

Day three was test day. Finally I would find out if my phone would turn on or not. If my phone would be saved. Turn on it did not. I despaired. I cleaned it out diligently and charged it. Thinking that maybe, just maybe it was completely drained of battery, and needed a charge. 

Days four and five I wrestled with the thought of life without a phone. If it was truly gone I would need to replace it. At some point at least. But maybe – just maybe, I bargained with myself, I could make it all summer without a phone and wait it out for the 8 (or X or whatever Apple decides to name their next smartphone). Why spend the money on an old model now when I can buy the newest version in a few short months? Can I really make it three months without a phone? I could. Right? Or I could buy the 7. That one is waterproof. But why spend that money when a newer better version will soon(ish) be available? Can I make it? I can. Right? How long could I delay my reward? I was torn.

Day six, life. Much to my surprise my iPhone blinked blue on the sixth day. All the buttons were functional, and I could turn it off and on using them. However, the touchscreen was unresponsive. This meant a trip down to the nearest fast phone fix it locale to see if there was anything to be done. One tense afternoon and one phone call to aforementioned wife, lead to the news that the repair costs would equal phone replacement costs. Day six continued: contact with Apple Support, which in alignment with my recently completed survey I am highly likely to recommend to a friend, colleague or blog reader. (In the name of honesty: I added the last category). They helped me with exactly what I needed and gave me an estimate on fixing or replacing my phone, which would result in a functional phone guaranteed to be returned to me. The right decision was ade clear to me: send it in.

The weekend following day six was a three day holiday weekend in Sweden (Midsummer – see previous posts 1, 2, and 3 for more information on that). So it wasn’t until the tenth day that my phone was to be picked up. Alas, UPS could not enter our condo building so the successful pick up occurred on the eleventh day. When I kept our kitchen window ajar and listened for truck noises all morning – and promptly ran out with my decrepit phone when I saw a large brown truck from my bird’s eye view. 

Since then Apple has been assessing my phone and determining that a replacement product is to be returned to me. Bringing us to the present day: day fifteen. Mail is not delivered on weekends in Sweden, so we shall see what happens on day seventeen. 

Maybe my newfound freedom from mobile phones will mark the beginning of a less phone-dependent, more present in the moment period of my life. Or maybe like any true addict I will be back at it as before exactly when the opportunity presents itself. I’m shooting for the former. 

After my initial panic of being without a phone for an extended period of time, later bargaining with myself about how long I could make it without a phone, I’ve now been able to enjoy these past days without a phone. It’s been nice. It’s one less thing to think about. One less thing to remember to have with me. One less thing to distract me from the matter at hand. I think I’ll take a phone vacation every now and again. It’s been nice.


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bike fix it day

blue bikeIn Sweden you do a lot of biking. Especially when you don’t have a Swedish driver’s license. Initially I thought having a bike would be a lot simpler than having a car. But it turns out you have to also maintain a bike. Especially one that lives outside. The outside life is a hard one. For this reason I occasionally schedule a bike fix it day, in order to keep my bike running smoothly.

Since I moved to Sweden I have had two different bikes. Both of them have been bought used, and both of them were bought in Linköping. Older bikes hold up. The bikes made back in the day were good quality bikes.

My first bike had like a million gears. Or, more accurately, 10. The poor baby broke when the gears broke off of the frame and got wrapped around the pedal. Bad day. I took it to a bike shop and ended up trading it in for another used bike. This bike has been with me for almost three years now. Ol’ reliable.

green bikeBut, like I said, bikes require some maintenance. I’ve replaced the saddle, replaced the break wire, re-strung the gears (multiple times, and I will need to do this again….maybe I should ask someone to do it for me next time…) I’ve also added a basket and front & back lights. In Sweden you will be fined $100 per missing light if you are stopped by a police officer without a front or back light. Front lights have to be white and back lights have to be red.

Admittedly, I am not an expert biker. Biking in the winter is not for me, and I’ve fallen off three times since moving to Sweden. If you think I was cushioned by a nice fluffy snow bank, you would be wrong. It was more accurately a skidding-across-ice-break-my-laptop fall, later followed by a bike-falling-out-from-under-me-in-public event, and even later followed by a face-plant-into-ice incident. I was less than impressed, but thankfully (mostly) uninjured.

Ryan helpingThis winter I needed to replace the inner tube and tire on my front wheel, after it exploded with small pieces ricocheting onto Evelina – my bad. I accomplished this task with lots of help from Evelina and Ryan. Yes, the project was completed during Ryan’s visit! Now my bike looks even spiffier with a front grey tire. It was the only tire in the correct dimensions available at the bike shop, plus it looks ballin’.

I will inevitably need to do more maintenance on ol’ reliable in the future. But I’m okay with it. It’s worth it. Despite the occasional mishap, I really do enjoy biking. It’s good exercise, good for the environment, doesn’t require gas, and is in general rather low-cost. Luckily the cities of Sweden are teeming with well-lit bike paths.

See you on the streets!

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