Saying Less

After landing at San Francisco on New Year’s Eve with just enough energy to shower, share a glass of champagne and crawl into bed, I went through a phase best diagnosed as “Europe Withdrawal Syndrome” (E.W.S.). You won’t find this condition anywhere in the DSM IV, but it’s happened to me often enough that I feel qualified to label it as such. The lament begins at SFO’s baggage carousel, worsens with the drive South on the 101 and really hits home the next day, waking up a view of Silicon Valley suburbia instead of a picturesque French countryside. And so it goes on for the first week, then the second…reuniting with good friends over a meal certainly help with the post-holiday transition, but the best remedy, I’ve found, is time.

Another side effect of E.W.S. this time around too, is a stronger inclination towards saying less and doing more. Part of that came from a compulsive motivation to sort through mounds of paperwork ahead of tax season (oh joy!), egged on by the prose of Stephen Pressfield’s books, a call to action so compelling it would rouse even a sloth from its perch.

But this desire for silence, I have come to realize, was a product of our vacation as well. Stepping out of the Silicon Valley bubble to a place where people don’t check their phones every two minutes starts to have an effect on you after a while. It was strange, at dinner, to leave my iPhone out of sight (quelle horreur!!) and resist the urge to scratch that “itch” of pressing the home button every five minutes. It was a powerful lesson in being present, of lingering over a meal and taking one’s time. We’ve brought that practice home, and, five and a half weeks into 2012, I’m happy to say that the majority of our meals have been iPhone-free. And we plan to keep it that way.

All this is a rather roundabout way of reconnecting on the blog and an excuse for me to share some of the photos from the trip. Thanks to the iPhone’s excellent camera and apps like Instagram, the Nikon got a lot less attention than it deserved. I’m thinking twice now, about lugging it around on our trips, because, as I hope these photos show, these smartphone cameras do the job pretty well. In tandem with photo-sharing apps like Instagram, I’ve found that the iPhone has actually helped me become a better photographer (Penny sums it up perfectly in this post).

Bref, I won’t keep you from the photos any longer. Enjoy them and I’ll be back soon enough with a recipe. Promise!


  1. Welcome back, my friend. I know, so painfully, what you mean about not wanting to come back. Being away from your everyday makes you realize just how much you check your email, Facebook, Twitter, your phone, etc…I’m trying to be more present myself, spending more time away from my computer (when I can) but it’s hard 🙁 I can’t believe that those photos were all taken with your iPhone camera. It’s truly phenomenal to see how far technology has come. It’s nice to see you back here again. xo

  2. Thanks for sharing what I have experienced first hand since moving to Europe, Germany to be exact. I too use my IPhone less while at dinner and with my family. And you know what, IT’S OKAY, the world didn’t come to an end because I was having dinner. Life is more relaxed here, and I for one, love it! I won’t experience EWS until I venture back to America in June. Instagram I can’t live without…Veronica

  3. Such incredible photos. Even though I enjoyed those you posted in real time on Instagram, I’m delighted to have an opportunity to see them here again. Your series on doors really drives home that a talented photographer with an open mind and a careful eye can bring visual magic to everyday objects and scenes.

    Bien fait.

  4. Danielle

    @El: Thank you El. My right shoulder is still sore thinking about those days spent lugging it around while I snapped endlessly with the iPhone. Sigh.

    @Kasey: Thanks, it feels great to be back 🙂

    @Muy Bueno: I checked out your blog and…wow, from California to Germany? That must be a huge transition, climate-wise at least. I can live without Instagram for a day or two at most, ha!

    @Cheryl: Merci mon amie!

  5. Glad you had a great trip! Lovely photos! I can’t wait to visit Europe one day. Its been my dream to go to France for as long as I can remember.
    I love my iphone too. The camera is great for travel pics. What are your favorite photo apps?

  6. Danielle:
    I agree with you. It is hard to let go. But in time we miss so much while taking care of so little. I really enjoyed your last post. While listening to the music, I was right there with and your family bobbing my heard to the sound of it.

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