I was without data for 29 days and here’s what happened

Like the headline? I’ve seen many articles where the writer goes, “I’ve done this and here’s what happened,” on “Buzzfeed” or “Bustle.” Without ever realizing it, I had a situation of my own that would fit this kind of headline.

And I am here to talk about that experience.

So I was without data for 30 days. I know, the idea of a millennial without their phone having internet or connection to the whole world in the palm of their hands, literally, is a huge travesty.

Okay, I’d be lying if I told you that having no data was easy.

I just moved back to Fredonia in May for the summer and was without internet for almost four whole days. Time was going extra slow those days. I procrastinated too long and didn’t make an appointment to have people set up my internet and box. My data was going to come back onto my and my moms’ new cycle that Thursday.  I get back my allotted amount of data t

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hat Thursdays and not even in 24 hours did I blow through 2 GB of data.

I am one of those people. I called my mom and she nearly had a heart attack over the news.

“Zoe Dimitra Kiriazis, how the *bleep* does one go through 2 GB of data in not even a day? Kim and I don’t even go through out one gig. a month!” she said. By the sounds of it, she was impressed, clearly not angry.

“1 day down, 29 more to go. I can do it!” I said.

“What’s a month without data because you know, the only way you can get connected to the world are the limited places in town that have Wi-Fi available,” I thought.

 

The first week or so were rough. I’m not going to lie. As millennials we’ve grown with the growth, privileges and modifications that have been made in the technology industry.  I remember in elementary school when kids started getting a Razor phone; you were the cool one if you got one of the colored ones.

This was also the start of knowing how to spell words based on numbers. Although a helpful skill to have, the next advancement in phone technology came about.

Then everyone would be getting the enV and env2 which included a T8-keyboard for an easier texting experience as well as the “flipped open keyboard selfie at the bathroom mirror” trend occurred.

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Then the iPhone started making its grand appearance and presence; it was then when cell phones became the next big trend and hit.

 

I didn’t have a phone until I got to high school and I didn’t get my first smart phone until I graduated high school. Every one of my friends had a smartphone of some sort, connected to the internet and Facebook like it was no big deal. At the time I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. If it was something of dire importance, I would check when I got home.

Well, I’m afraid I don’t have that same mindset now. I have to be connected with internet to keep up with what is going on in the world, who’s posted on Instagram and to keep filter of any emails that come through. Maybe it’s the curious bud within me or maybe it’s because I’m working to become a better journalist? I’m not too sure.

And while we’re being honest with each other, I check my phone way too much; sometimes I’ll even check it when I am talking to friends deliberately.

 

It’s out of habit, my foolish need to be on my phone when this rectangle is only 5.94 x 2.86 x 0.30 in.. I don’t understand how something so small and powerful can take over someone so innocently.

Having no data to escape to, I’ve found my conversations were more meaning some. I had more to say than when I didn’t have Facebook to check every 10 seconds, when I didn’t have to play against my opponents in Yahtzee or my horoscope to check randomly. When a conversation was at an awkward pause or standstill, I didn’t have my phone to default to. I had to figure out what to say next on the fly without the deliberate pause texting or private messaging naturally brings.

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All of this made me realize the bigger picture which is that we, as individuals, need to stop being so heavily reliant on our mobile devices. We miss moments when we are always on our phones, sucked into the dark hole social media can potentially drown us in and we don’t know how to communicate effectively when there is small screen in front of us.

We’re afraid to make phone calls because we don’t know what to say. We’re afraid of in-person interactions because we don’t know how to handle ourselves.

This is why I want to study communications because we have these tendencies that stem from something else which, in this case, is the protection of our phones from the rest of the world. Connections can’t form if we are hiding behind a small screen.

I’ve been working on not being on my phone as a case of protection. I’ve been using my words to truthfully talk to my friends and family. It’s a process to unlearn what you’ve grown up with but I want to detach myself just a little bit from my phone in order to fully appreciate all of life around me. We miss so much of what is happening now because we are so focused on something else.

I will always love my social media but I am realizing there is more to life than the statuses we post, the 140-character tweets, the likes on Instagram and who’s seen the latest YouTube video.

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Being without data for 30 days was a lot to manage but it got easier as time went on. I can’t promise that I will have data remaining by the end of the cycle but I know it will last longer than 24 hours. And I will make sure I don’t use it when I don’t need to use it.

There’s a whole world to see but only some of us get to experience it when we’re not preoccupied with the uneventful.

(Happy) Father’s Day

I absolutely loathe Father’s Day. I try not to hate anyone or anything in life but this one day is something I can’t accept or like.

My father is 73 years old, older than my mom’s parents, who is set in his ways. He is from Greece, and as per custom, the sons are of favorite in order to keep the family name while the daughters are to marry off and become good housewives. My brother could do no wrong in my father’s eyes growing up but I always got the short end of the stick.

Since I was a wee child, a long, long time ago, I’ve never had a father. My parent’s separated when I was nine months old and I lived with my mom, brother and grandparents for 13 years of my life until I moved to Ithaca. My father lived down the road from where I lived growing up in New Hampshire.

Every other weekend, if he wasn’t too busy for my brother and I, it would be the same routine: get picked up, go out to eat, maybe stop at a store for my dad to purchase something for my brother and sometimes I would be lucky enough to get something too, go back to father’s apartment and do absolutely nothing until we were dropped off or picked up on Sunday afternoon.

Not even 24 hours would I be with my father on a given weekend. The amount of days I’ve actually spent with my father couldn’t even add up to a 365 day year.

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When I moved to Ithaca in 2007, 10 years and one day ago, my father did not “approve” of this move. He thought that he made the “wrong” decision in “letting” me go to Ithaca with my mom and new mom. Full disclosure, I told my mom I wanted to move.  She said, “O.K.” Moving to Ithaca ended up being the absolute best decision of my life; I made friends, I became social, I came out of my shell, I graduated high school and I graduate college.

To this day, my father doesn’t understand all the good that’s happened in my life.

I don’t celebrate Father’s Day for many, many reasons, but mostly because I don’t have a father to celebrate. I see my friends with their fathers and I wished, for most of my youth, that my father would be the person I needed and wanted. I prayed that the broken feeling of not having a father would be fixed. I was always the child who called my father in order to see him, the one who always remembered his birthday or called on the holidays and was always in the middle when it came to my parent’s arguing.

I put in so much time and effort on a relationship, one I desperately wanted, that I would, and will, never get. I know what a father should be:

A father is someone who is constantly in their child’s, or children’s, life.

A father is there at every event the children are a part of.

A father shows compassion when life becomes a lot.

A father knows their favorite color, food, animal and season of the year.

A father doesn’t leave when the going gets tough.

A father shows love to his children.

A father doesn’t take his kids for granted.

I wouldn’t wish the father I have on anyone. My father has called me names no child should ever be called, see and listen to conversations that should have been private, be yelled at like you’re not even their child and emotionally abused by someone I am genetically half of.

The last time I saw my father before visiting him in January was when I graduated high school in 2012. He moved in 2015 from Massachusetts down south to Naples, FL, without informing anyone. I found out six months later of the move.

I thought visiting him would be something different and things would change. They didn’t; I found myself in the same situation I lived over and over when I visited my father a young child.

In that short week I learned that I don’t have a father to call my own like my friends do or those who have celebrated Father’s Day from posting on social media. A father doesn’t cause their children heartache, isolation and negativity.

I smile at everyone’s happiness and praise of their fathers. For 23 years I wanted to experience that same happiness and joy. I’ve realized I will never understand the feeling of what it’s like to have a present father in my life.

 

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I don’t hate my father. I don’t necessarily like my father. I love him but not how I love my moms or my grandparents. Four people who have not left my side through thick and thin in my life, have seen the BS I had to go through with my father and reassured me of those people I always have.

I give an extra nod to my second mom on father’s day; for coming into my life at my horrible and terrible pubescent teenage years and loves me like her own as my relationship with my father kept getting worse. She filled in the shoes of a father, that second parent I desperately wanted and needed.

We all have our parents or guardians, present or passed, that have raised us. Some people have mothers, some don’t. Some people have fathers, some don’t. Celebrating these holidays make brings different memories to people and there is no wrong way.

I don’t celebrate Father’s Day for my father and for me, that’s okay.

But a short and lovin’ life, that ain’t so bad

Death is scary.

There are only two moments guaranteed in life; the day you’re born and the day you die. The second one is completely decided by fate which cannot be changed, altered or avoided. It’s bound to happen.

But let’s not think about death like that; let’s think of it as moments, memories and success. Here’s a long story to give a base to what I will talk about later in this post.

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In my short life these past 23 years, I’ve lost a few people in my family but were not too close to where I was in a period of grieving. I never had to mourn over someone or something. That changed last August.

My first close death happened last year when I lost my first pet, my little Chihuahua, Bebe.

My parents came to pick me up from my father’s house in February 2007 holding a sky blue blanket with a furry little creature underneath. It was a seven to nine week old puppy with a crooked nose, light brown feet, a white chest and the smallest little ears on an even littler body. She was bought at our local pet store in a typical U.S.A mall where dozens of puppies, most likely, produced puppy mills were kept in cold, white cages hoping to be adopted.  She was so sick that if no one took her she would have been put down before her life could even begin.

Luckily, Bebe’s luck chimed in. From the moment my mom held her, that was it. She was going to be coming home with us, sickness and all!

And we knew going in that she was sick. There was no concrete answer as to why she was always sick. Her being sick didn’t stop us from falling absolutely in love with her. She brought so much joy into our lives for almost 10 years.

She was spoiled rotten every moment of her life, surrounded by so many people who loved her. Bebe had that extra dose of innocence that even if she pooped on the rug, which she did many times, you couldn’t be mad at her for more than three minutes. All of the cuddles on your lap or underneath your neck, as if she was two pounds again, made the darkest days brighter. She was a great companion, listener, pet and sister. But being sick seemed to show its colors towards the end of her life.

May 2017 was when it all began.

Not even hours after arriving home from my senior year (pt. 1) of college, I went out with friends to celebrate the end of the year and them graduating school. I was out for only a couple hours when my poor little Beebs experienced her first, certainly not her last, seizure.

My parents, in a state of confusion and concern, rushed her over to the animal hospital in Ithaca to see what was going on. Nothing came back alarming but her liver numbers were higher than normal.

“Hm…” I thought.

I hugged my baby a little tighter that night. I sat on our love seat in the living room, starring as she sat tiredly in a red blanket where my mom, Kim, usually sits. I starred to make sure she wasn’t going to go into another seizure. Or, was I starring because I was worrying that I was going to forget what she looked like, if that was my last time I’d see her?

I’m not too sure to this day.

She went quick. The summer of 2017 brought many seizures to our little precious soul that was Bebe. She’d be great for four or so weeks and then have severe seizures. I was away at my summer job near school and was only able to visit a couple days out of the month. I couldn’t help or take the pain away.

Luckily, I was there for her final days.

I went home to work for two days and spent all the time I could with Bebe and my parents. Our time was coming to an end.

Aug. 5, 2017, morning.

I was packing to go back to my summer job as I worked that afternoon. I sat on the couch, starring once again at Bebe in her red bed against the window of the living room. I lay down on the hardwood floors next to her and began rubbing her belly like every other day, and began feeling a trembling sense of goodbye. Noticing her crooked nose wetter than usual. Her big doe eyes starring back at me, her small little paw resting gently on my face as she stretched with the force deep within her.

I cried. I cried as I said goodbye, a usual goodbye we shared as I went off to Fredonia, nothing out of the ordinary. A feeling inside of me I can’t describe told me that it was our last goodbye. She cried as I walked out the door into the garage. I couldn’t go back.

Because we both knew.

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Sunday, Aug. 7, 2017.

I was working at my job when my mom called me, telling me that Bebe had one of her worst seizures yet. I began to cry, thinking that I am all the way over in Fredonia while my baby girl was in Ithaca, suffering. My mom called me in the most lifeless tone I have ever heard from her.

There was nothing I could to do. She probably knew, too. It wasn’t looking good but she would keep me up-to-date. That whole night I looked at our photos together, remembering all the beautiful moments we had made.

My parents brought her to Cornell animal hospital where one last seizure occurred. My parents cried as they begged for the doctors to let them, my moms, tend to Bebe one last time. Help her the way they knew how. She was rushed back and put on medicine to ease her system while my parents wept as they began to grieve.

Moments later, they went back with a doctor to a room where Bebe was hooked up to IVs, monitors and other technology. She wasn’t in pain at the moment. My parents coddled her, crying and holding her one last time.

“You can take her home for one last night if you’d like,” one of the doctors said.

If we took her then, she wouldn’t have came back.

So that night, almost midnight, my parents made the bold and selfless decision to put down Bebe. In order for her not to feel anymore pain because we loved her that much to not allow her to live in misery anymore. She didn’t deserve to continue to live in pain. We lost a piece of our family when we put her down. The doctors believe she had cancer in the liver and it spread to her brain.

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It’s been over 10 months now. I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t crying while I wrote this.

The first few months were extremely hard, coming home to an empty home when there was a full house. I didn’t hear her long fingernails tapping against the wood floor to the kitchen entrance as I entered the garage door. I didn’t see her tail waging and slouched ears running to me as I came closer into the kitchen. All her fluffies, toys, in a small red bin my the kitchen counter looking over the living room was gone. That sense of home left with her across the rainbow bridge.

So what’s the point of all this? To make you cry and feel? Actually, no. That was not my goal. I was not expecting to be so personal with our loss of Bebe but it leads me to this point.

We all have memories and moments that span over our life broken down into years then months down to our many, many days living on Earth. Memories we hold onto as if they just happened yesterday. Moments we wish we could change. Narratives written in pen instead of pencil. We can’t just think of all the moments we won’t have anymore but rather, we should be thinking about all the memories, moments and laughs that we have with people who have passed.

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We gave Bebe over nine years of memories in a beautiful home, two great mommy owners, a great sister and brother, all the toys to play with, all the chicken she could possibly stuff herself with and the life she was destined not to receive. Instead of the six months she was supposed to have, we stretched that out to another nine.

I have nine years of memories with her. Imagine all the memories and moments other people have and carry in their lives. Everyone is able to look back on their life and say, “I did that. I lived through that.”

We become sad knowing that these people we hold so close to our hearts and important figures in our life won’t be able to have more memories to add to their collection. It’s hard thinking how one day we won’t have those people we love in the physical world. But people are always with us no matter what. Living or have passed.

As I’ve grown older, I have grown less afraid of death. I have accepted that one day I won’t be here anymore, same with my grandparents, parents, brother, my new dog, Jack, and my friends. It’s scary to think about but that shouldn’t stop us from living.

We have to keep living. We are allowed to be sad, hurt, confused and mourn. But we have to find that will to live. That’s what every single person who has passed would want us to do; to keep living.

Death is one sneaky son-of-a-bitch but I plan on taking the approach of embracing every single day – even if it was the most god-awful day of my life – with open arms. I will love a little harder and hate less. I will say, “thank you” and “how are you?” more often. I will make sure no one is alone. I will hug everyone I know a little bit tighter when I say, “See you later.” I will try not to rush moments anymore, in order to embrace them for what they are.

No one deserves to be forgotten or alone. Ever.

Alright, I finally watched “13 Reasons Why” – Part 1

Netflix series, “13 Reasons Why,” has been out for over two months now and I finally gained the ability to watch it.

Having read the book, multiple reviews, press coverage and more on the show prior to watching the first season, I wasn’t thrilled. I wasn’t excited and was hesitant to become another viewer after reading all the mixed feelings.

But as someone who was bullied throughout her entire youth until she moved to Ithaca after the 7th grade, I didn’t want to admit that I could possibly connect to the show, even at 23 years old. In a few short paragraphs, here’s a synopsis of my youth.

I had only two friends growing up while I had to live through a series of name calling, death wishes on then hit social media site Myspace (R.I.P), had a fake Myspace account made of me, Twinkies thrown in my face, ridiculed for being another awkward pubescent teenager, fat-shamed, sexual harassed and was hated by a lot of people for no concrete reason. I was lonely, depressed and didn’t want to live anymore because of everything that was happening in my youth.

It will be 10 years this month, June 17 to be precise, when it all finally ended.  I became free of all the negativity, the name-calling, sexual harassment and hate.  I remember it all but I don’t hold grudges or hate anyone who did anything. There’s no point. It’s in the past and for one reason or another, it happened for a reason.

But it still happened. It’s in my box of memories that I can never forget. Its shaped who I’ve become as a young adult. And that’s why I connect with the character, Hannah Baker, for many of these reasons.

Watching the first season took me back to that time when I tried to make friends or tried to do the right thing and it backfired on me. I remember being touched by my male classmates and saying no to their gestures, feeling so violated I couldn’t even stop them.

I remember the rumors spread about me that went out to the whole school within a class period, out to people I didn’t even know or interacted with. I remember vividly being suspended out of school for defending myself as someone instigated a fight with me, and then having the blame for the bullying and fighting on me from all my teachers and administrators.

Day in and day out I would watch people stare and talk as I stood in my faded and worn out top red locker for two years in the 6th and 7th grade wings at Woodbury, confused as I tried to find the right words to say. Something to make it all stop so I didn’t have to cry myself to sleep each night.

It might be over 10 years ago by now but I still remember: faces and names and moments. No matter how hard I try I can’t change my narrative. I can’t make up what I have lived through.

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I didn’t lie and Hannah Baker didn’t lie about what she went through either. I believed every tape she made when I read the book and watched the series. You can’t make events; like being bullied, ridiculed, sexual harassed, and for Hannah and Jessica, being raped, up. It was her narrative to tell.

I connect with Hannah and I understand her motives. I understand why she wanted to kill herself. I understand why she made the tapes; in order for the other students to truly understand exactly what they did, how it stuck with Hannah and how those moments shaped her perception of the world and people in her tiny town.

Some people, in the show and some in real-life, think that making the tapes were all for attention. I don’t agree with the approach of what became of the tapes in the show but the motives are clear. There is nothing than a person who has experienced severe bullying wants is the straightforward, truthful answer to the simple question.

Why?

Why was I was the one ridiculed for so many years?

Why was I always touched when I said no?

What did I do that was so horrific that nobody wanted to be seen with me?

Why did you do it?

Why did so many people watch and not say a word?

Why me?

Just… why?

All Hannah wanted was an answer to the hell she was living in. Heck, that’s all I wanted growing up, too. Some I got, some I didn’t but I don’t need those questions answered anymore. Hannah was never able to receive a reason why but she gave her reasons why.

All I want is for teenagers and young students to not go through the hell and misery I went through or go through what Hannah went through depicted from a book to the screen.

If there is one lesson to take away from this show: words have more power than we recognize or believe they do. Words, hurtful and degrading words, are more powerful than the people who actually say them.

Be kind. Be good. Everyone is going through a battle you know nothing about. And bullying shows the character of the bully, not the bullied.

Part 2 featuring what I found enjoyable and powerful in “13 Reasons Why” will be coming in a few days.

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Three weeks out of school – so what’s next?

Well, I finished college three weeks ago now. I know, scary.

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All I’ve done thus far is cry over the overwhelmed feeling inside me from all the things I had (and still have…) to unpack from school, I’ve moved back to my college town for the summer a week after graduation, start my summer employment and have binged watched three, going on four seasons of “Shameless” in five days.

I only hold a little shame. No pun intended.

But I keep asking myself; what’s next? And to be honest, I’m not too sure.

I can only imagine how many times parents and guardians say, “What’s next?” repeatedly to their recent college graduates. If I got a dollar for every time someone asked me, “What’s next? What are your plans?” I could pay off all my student loans.

I just spent the last five years in this little bubble, changing my major too many times for me to really know in my indecisive brain what I want to do. I have to figure out some sort of idea before Nov. 13 as that’s when my grace period for student loans stop and the real “adulting” begins.

That is a lie. Being an adult began the minute I walked down the ramp at graduation.

I studied theatre in my undergraduate career and most of us in our various, respected programs know what we want to do, where we want to end up and are determined to figure out the steps along the way.

I don’t know what I want to do or where I should end up.  I don’t even know where I fit into the theatre realm anymore. I love theatre, it is my home and has been my world for so many years I could never say goodbye to it. My aspirations, goals and interests have changed since I started studying communications and began my journey as a journalist. I can’t ignore the signs that lead me to new opportunities and knowledge I’m hungry to earn.

For the last year, every decision I make derives from the, “eh, we’ll wing it,” approach. I’m proud to say the “winging it” mindset hasn’t failed me yet! Check back in a few months, I could possibly (read: most likely will) have a different answer to this approach.

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In all seriousness, I don’t know what I want to do. I’m not sure when I will find the answer, or if I will truly find it anytime soon. And that’s okay.

As I approach my first year out of public education (yes, these last 17 years have been through public schooling, secondary and collegiality), I plan on finding a job that will:

  1. Allow me to make money in order to save, pay off loans and budget effectively
  2. Make me self-fulfilled professionally and personally
  3. Let me enjoy coming to work every day.

I’m not too picky right now with finding a job. As my summer employment nears the end by early August, I will start applying to various positions within the Ithaca area towards the end of July. That will be next month…

Right now, we think about tomorrow.

I plan on enjoying my last summer in the town home to my Alma mater. I plan on spending time with my friends. I plan on getting in shape. I plan on spending time with myself. I plan on mapping out a game plan for these next couple years. I plan on looking at graduate programs for communications.

I plan on doing all the things I’ve always wanted to do. To conquer my fears and just do it.

“So what’s next?” they ask.

That’s what’s next,” I respond.