I’m a little obsessed with time travel, are you?

I love playing with the idea of time travel.

I’m not a quantum physicist. In fact, attempting to wrap my brain around the quantum physics aspects of time travel gives me such a headache I have to read a Danielle Steel novel to make it go away.

So instead of trying to understand the science behind time travel, I watch movies, read books, and write about time travel from an artist’s perspective. How writing letters to your younger self is almost a multi-dimensional portal waiting to be entered, and how reading poems you wrote as a child is like opening a window to the past.

From the view of an almost 40 year old woman who can still smell spaghetti sauce boiling in a pot in her childhood home when she closes her eyes and really tries, time travel is this easy. It’s the second step in a yet-unproven three-step process.

1. Dress up in period clothes.

2. Imagine yourself there.

3. Lock yourself in a dark room with a cassette tape playing over and over again, “This is 1987. You are now in 1987. When you leave this room you will see 21 Jump Street on the tv and the latest issue of Teen magazine on the kitchen counter. You will be madly in love with Matt Heitzer. Suzanne is leaving a message on your answering machine. It is 1987. You are now in 1987.”

This is, at least, how the Christopher Reeve character in Somewhere in Time goes back in time to meet a long-dead woman he’s obsessed with (played by Jane Seymour). And frankly, it always seemed the most likely way for time travel to work.

somewhere in time

(Up until today, I always thought the movie was loosely based on the story Time and Again by Jack Finney. But it’s not. The main characters use a similar process to get back in time in both stories, but the guy in Finney’s book puts a lot more effort into his preparation. He’s trained by the U.S. military for the project, in fact, and therefore, his time travel success is a lot more believable.)

The common overlap between my time travel theory and practice, and those of the quantum physicists’, I firmly believe, is that both are indeed possible, but have not yet been pulled off successfully.

I think the reason why so many of us are obsessed with time travel is not because of it’s magical-like inaccessibility; not because we are imaginative children longing to explore cities and places far off and forgotten; not because we are approaching middle age and overwrought by nostalgia and an urge to fix our past mistakes.

But because we understand somewhere deep down that time travel is possible and we are only one tiny step away from realizing it.

Like a fog-covered windshield, we need just to wipe away the moisture to see clearly where we are going and how to get there.

 

 

 

 

Crazy Jen and her digital detox

In a discussion with my mother last week, I explained to her with confidence that a group of people were surely talking about me when I left the room.

“How exactly do you know that?” she asked me.

“I just do,” I replied.

“How?” she pressed.

I explained to her that in the same way she is brilliant when it comes to data analysis or number crunching, I know people and their behavior.

It’s not my paranoia, it’s my specialty.

This is why I excel in marketing and branding — you need to be hyper sensitively tuned in to emotions and able to anticipate reactions in order to predict trends and behavior.

I like to tell people — because it’s true and a little self-deprecation is still attractive on a 39 year old who looks 34 — that I am a trend spotter, not a trendsetter.

I spotted the name Hannah, and sock monkeys, and gluten free all before they became Average Joe household-familiar trends.

It’s a blessing and a curse.

The bad part about being a trend spotter, much in the same way that it’s bad to be psychic — people tend to think you’re crazy until the moment after the trend hits the Today Show.

They either don’t listen to you or roll their eyes or … talk about you behind your back, often and with more eye rolling.

The worst part? I receive little to no vindication years later when the trend is obvious. Most people, except for my cousin Jami, have all forgotten by then that crazy Jen suggested years ago that probiotics were the key to fighting depression.

As for my digital detox, I was a little late on the uptake this time.

Only days after I finished my detox — which included the elimination of my smartphone and all computer-related activities for 2 1/2 weeks except for checking personal email once a week and Facebook on my birthday — someone sent me this smart and poignant short film about our cultural obsession with digital connection. The same day, as I returned to Twitter activity, this article from Fast Company appeared in my feed about “slow design” and mentions the digital detox trend. (Not to mention silent meditation retreats — something I’ve been doing, writing about, and suffering ridicule for over the last two years! )

Maybe my trend spotting eye has blurred in my old age, or maybe — like the rest of the world — I am too tired and over-stimulated to be spotting much of anything save for my second cup of espresso.

If digital detox has become  a trend before I spotted it, so be it.

It’s good for us.

We need it.

And we need it fast.

More and more I am hearing from my friends or seeing evidence on the social media networks I somehow feel compelled to follow even though I am getting more and more tired of the content, that —

life is too fast and too hard to keep up with

Just yesterday, my poor friend on Facebook posted an urgent plea for advice:

How do you all do it? She wanted to know.

How do you all keep up with everything? Work, kids, marital bliss, friends, community, world news?

How do you all do it?

I could hear the defeated sigh that followed the last question mark.

We don’t, was my answer.

We’re suffering, I told her.

I hoped to offer her some solace, some comfort. Misery, after all, loves company.

But I don’t know how much relief company will bring. In this case, the more we see others faking it, the more “less than” we feel. And it’s so easy to fake it. It’s so easy to distract yourself from your pain and discontent.

Until it’s not.

Courtesy gawker.com

Courtesy gawker.com

During my own digital detox, which took place during a family vacation, I become hyper aware — just like the girl in the video — of all that goes on, and all that is ignored, around me.

I also became acutely aware and appreciative of my own presence in my own life.

It took only 48 hours of being off Facebook to be so thankful to be off Facebook.

To be relieved.

It took less time for me to be thankful to be off Twitter.

To not know what was going on in the news.

To not have to be witty or responsive.

To tune out the latest trends.

To tune out other people, and the details of their lives.

This may sound mean or psychopathic. Or at the very least, depressive.

Maybe it is.

But if it is, it’s a cultural disease that most of us are severely suffering from.

Most of us just don’t know it — or acknowledge it – yet. OR we’re still convincing ourselves that information access trumps burn out.

Or we think there is no way out.

The symptoms of our cultural disease come out in little ways, like my friend’s Facebook plea, or in a whispered coffee chat between young mothers, or in a verbal spar between embarrassed male colleagues, both overtired and fearful that they will never be able to catch up on their emails or please neither their bosses nor their wives.

My heart hurts for those men, and

I mourn the loss of my freedom.

Because that is what digital detox is — a gateway drug to freedom.

It’s just too expensive for my pocketbook right now and not trendy enough to be available to the masses.

I’m waiting, though.

I’m watching the Today Show headlines on Twitter, and waiting.

Because years ago, back when people were complaining that $5.99/pound was too much to be paying for apples, I was secretly shopping organic at Wild Oats in Tucson, Arizona, waiting for Walmart to catch up.

And hoping for a trend to hit.

Hoping that I wasn’t mistaken and hoping I wasn’t alone.

Torn between life and art

I am about to go on a vacation.

I need this vacation.

No, I mean, I really need this vacation.

Now, mind you, this vacation will be in New Jersey, and it will be inhabited by my children, which some people by default would call “travel with children,” not a vacation.

But let’s not get too technical or too obnoxious.

I am going on vacation.

And by choice, I will be disconnecting.

Yup — disconnecting.

I will not be bringing my smartphone with me, which is a lot easier when you live in Israel because it requires some energy and some money to make my smartphone work in America.

And I will not be bringing my laptop with me, which is a lot easier when you live in Israel because no one likes schlepping a heavy PC with them through airport security, or shuffling your feet around a bulky backpack under the seat in front of you.

And I won’t be checking my work email.

My out-of-the-office reply will be for realsies.

I will be gone.

And it won’t be very hard.

But disconnecting from blogging and from instagram will be.

Blogging and instagram ease my pain, clear my head, help me connect to the beauty in my heart and in the world.

Blogging and photography heal me.

Now, of course, I could still write, and still take pictures. Pen and paper, those old things. There’s my not-so-ancient digital camera that’s been collecting dust underneath my desk.

Maybe I’ll fall back in love with the lens.

But something tells me I won’t.

Why not bring the smartphone but just turn off email, ignore the alert?

Won’t work.

Technology is an addiction, and I get rid of addictions by going cold turkey.

Cold turkey is how I got rid of cigarettes and how I got rid of gluten.

And cold turkey will be how I get rid of technology.

At least for two weeks.

Maybe.

I’m still torn.