THINGS I WANT OR NEED TO DO INSTEAD OF BLOGGING

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You may have noticed.  I’ve been slowing down. Skipping days, even on my self-imposed every-other-day schedule.  Or else quoting a lot, so that I need to write less of the piece I post.  And now that spring has sprung, any thoughts I may be having about TGOB are definitely guilty ones. Poor blog. It’s fighting for my time and interest with so many competitors:

1.   What I really want to do right now is try on all my summer clothes from last year, decide most of them are out of date or no longer fit properly — and go shopping for new ones! For several weeks, since the sun first showed itself, I’ve been wasting at least an hour a day poring over the spring/summer collections on view in the emails Eileen Fisher (upscale clothing line) has been sending me almost daily — not to mention paying considerable attention to the weekly invasions of my email box by Goop, Gwyneth Paltrow’s newsletter about, among other things, the carefully “curated” items she is wearing this spring. Of course, almost all of this viewing matter is priced in the stratosphere but gives clever old ladies (like me) plenty of ideas as to what to look for elsewhere.

2.  I want (and now need) to install the AT&T microcell I purchased three weeks ago for over $200 to enhance cell phone (mobile) reception at our house. (Princeton has not permitted AT&T to put up a sufficient number of towers within its domain, so that indoors we get no more than two bars out of five on any cell phone, and a concomitant inability to hear anyone properly, if at all, even in the more receptive parts of the house.)

Moreover, if my installation achieves its goal, one of us can save fifty or sixty dollars a month by also transferring his (or her) landline from Verizon (our phone company) to AT&T, which will provide landline service through the microcell for twenty dollars a month. (The AT&T acronym stands for American Telephone and Telegraph, an out-of-date moniker, but long ago incorporated and now too well known in the US to change.) Strong as is my desire to keep at least one of our two monthly $70 to $80 payments to Verizon in the bank and pay AT&T only $20 a month for that landline, this reputedly easy installation has been awaiting my undivided attention since purchase.  Anything involving technology, registering long strings of numbers, and crawling under desks to plug colored wires into the correct apertures produces so much nervous apprehension  that I’m always telling myself I’ll do it tomorrow. (And no, Bill can’t do it because he says he doesn’t understand any of that.  He got through medical school and a five-year residency at Harvard, so go figure. But based on extensive prior experience with teaching him how to use his iPad, from which he is now inseparable, I believe him.)

3.  It is the first of the month and my desk (from which blog posts also issue, when they do) is covered with bills to pay, both electronically (mine) and with checks, envelopes and stamps (his).  This is something I need to attend to, sooner rather than later, but can also put it into the “I want to” category because if I don’t, the fact that my desk is a mess of financial obligations will keep me from doing anything else on said desk.

4. We have had a really bad stay-at-home-because-of-various-quite-serious-ailments-I-didn’t-blog-about-winter and I have been going stir-crazy. (This was the “dealing with the rest of it” in the blog’s subtitle.) Now that the ailments (which were not mine, at least not the major ones) have subsided and/or gone away for the present, I have expressed a desire to go somewhere for a while next winter and Bill has eagerly responded with a desire for the south of France!  Aix-en-Provence, to be specific. (Near the world’s largest plasma physics lab: Be still, my beating heart.  But also near Marseilles and bouillabaisse, and Avignon, past summer home of popes, and the general Frenchness that is everywhere in France — food, language, ambiance!)

Unfortunately, for travel to Aix (if we can even afford it) we will first need to train. Neither of us is the walker I used to be (and he never was), so we both now have prescriptions for physical therapy — mine for a bad knee, his for balance and general weakness through disuse — and are committed for the next twelve weeks or so to going here and there in Princeton to various physical therapists three times a week…and recovering afterwards.

5.  Should France remain the preferred destination (if otherwise feasible), I will need to do a major brush-up on my French, which at its best sixty years ago was a bookish sort of French (un francais scolaire). What especially needs work is my ability to understand the French when they speak without making special kind allowances for me. (“Tu comprends, Nina? Tu comprends?)  Without subtitles, for example, I am lost in French movies, except sometimes for the love scenes.  And I don’t expect to be involved in any love scenes with a Frenchman this time round. More probably, when I speak or ask questions (which I can manage, albeit like a foreigner), I will need to comprehend the answers.  (“Plus lentement, madame, s’il vous plait.”)  

6.  Also, my passport needs renewal.  It expired at the end of 2009.

7.  Now that I am facilitating a small meditation group that arrives in my driveway every Tuesday at 3, I feel obligated to set a good example: twenty minutes every day even when the group isn’t there.  Well, nearly every day.

8.  There is also my international student. (Every Wednesday afternoon at 3, for an hour — but on campus because he has no car, which means it’s at least an hour and a half for me. (Parking downtown is a bitch.)  He is a young, very sweet Chinese Visiting Scholar with whom I volunteered to converse (and correct his conversation) until he goes home in September.  Unfortunately, we cannot converse, because I cannot understand him.  (Nor can anyone else, which is why his teachers sent him for conversation tutoring.) So every Tuesday after meditation, I am doing conversation homework: seeking out things we can try to talk about (his work in advanced physics is impossible) and online aids to pronunciation — this week “r”, “l,” “th” and “s.”

*********

There’s lots more, but you probably get the idea.  Since I’ve never been able to multi-task or compartmentalize — you will perhaps now kindly forgive some blogging sloth until I find time to think of something interesting to post.  You can certainly speed things up by providing ideas. All suggestions welcome!  Don’t be shy. What would you like me to write about next?

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33 thoughts on “THINGS I WANT OR NEED TO DO INSTEAD OF BLOGGING

  1. Be sure to get to Provence. I spent several wonderful holidays there as a child, as it was my father’s favourite place in all the world. Visit Chateauneuf du Pape and the Roman amphitheatre at Orange; drink fine wines and enjoy the light that Van Gough found so compelling. Do not hesitate… renew your passport, and do it!

    BTW, as a Brit/European, the idea of letting a passport expire at all, let alone by 6 years is, frankly, disturbing 😉

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    • Re: your first paragraph, Julie. Aix is in Provence. It’s certainly very near the Luberon. We have been to Chateauneuf du Pape, but probably will not return because I cannot drink anymore (I’ve been living with Hep C since 1969) and Bill drinks so little it hardly seems worth it. We’ve been to Roman amphitheaters in Orange and also Nimes. If we go far off home base in Aix, I’m more inclined to visit the Riviera out of season. But the idea of the trip would really be just to live somewhere else during part of the winter that’s interesting and warmer than it is at home. The original thought was Sarasota in Florida, but I’m never wild about Florida and he shot it down right away. Also we have friends in Montpellier who would likely visit with us in Aix as they used to live there. Everything is very close with the TGF.

      American passports expire — yes, for as long as six years — when you’re too old or sick to travel. Our last trip abroad, in the summer of 2009, was to Lisbon and Madeira (to use up euros still in our wallets from prior time spent in France, Italy and Greece), and was not very successful because I broke a big toe just before we left and broke the other big toe in Lisbon. (They heal by themselves, but it takes a while and hurts a lot when you walk.) After that, I had a hip replacement in April 2010, which precluded summer travel that year, and for the next four years Bill was not really well enough to travel abroad. (We visited children, and like that.) You might not find the expiration of a passport tucked away in a desk so disturbing if you were no longer a young and vibrant 54, as you are, but part of a couple both in their eighties and at least one of you were plagued with ailments that made traveling very far (which Europe is for us) an unpleasurable and unwise idea.

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      • I know Aix is in Provence! I was just urging you to visit, but it seems you have visited more widely than me. I surely didn’t mean to offend.

        Similarly my reference to expired passports, I meant only light-heartedly. I’m very sorry, as I’ve clearly spoken (written) out-of-turn. I realise how health issues intervene more as age advances, making travel less of a pleasure, more of a challenge. You write so vividly and engagingly, you seem so young-at-heart, that I do not think of you in terms of age (yes, even given the title of your blog). But I know transatlantic travel is a big deal – it’s a big deal to me at 55 even. I shouldn’t have made light – I sincerely apologise.

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      • You don’t have to apologize, Julie. You’re such a sweet person, I know you only meant to be helpful. In any event, the trip next winter may turn out to be a fantasy that never comes to pass. Health and age issues aside, despite our illustrious educational credentials we are both on the impecunious side, and living on a fixed income. An extra $10,000 taken out of capital (plus lots of frequent flyer miles to get us there and back) may be an unwise expenditure just to buy us both three or four weeks of French winter warmth.

        That said, you do raise important points about the blog. I seem “young at heart,” because — perhaps unwisely — I still am. For instance: we watched the 1995 BBC version of Pride and Prejudice on a DVD disc last night, and I succumbed all over again — as I did in 1995, when I was 64 — to the irresistible charms of a 34 year-old Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in what was essentially a delicious fairy tale about sex and money and involving main characters in their early twenties. Now what kind of a nearly 84-year-old is that? As for how I write, if Alzheimers doesn’t get me — and I did have a brain MRI last week, to check for something else, but everything was A-OK: no plaque warning signs of dementia — writing and reading will be the last to go, even when I’m leaning on a cane, or (worse) a walker, because they’ve both been so big a part of my life since I was very young and learned how.

        So perhaps the blog, which thus far has focused on the first half of its subtitle, should begin to pay some attention to the second part, if only to give a balanced picture of what it’s really like to be (OMG!) pushing 84! Do you think that would be too much of a downer, and frighten readers away? 🙂

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      • I don’t think, whatever you write, that it would be a downer, because of the way you write. You blend openness, wisdom and a wry sense of humour and whatever you’re ‘dealing with’ (to use the words from your subtitle), I’m sure the same attitudes and style will infuse your words.

        The question is perhaps the extent to which you’re ready to share those aspects of your life and experience. And only you can decide that. As for me, I’ll read and reflect on whatever you write, because what you write, makes me think.

        As for ‘young-at-heart’, if ever there was a character created for women of all ages – it’s Colin Firth’s Mr Darcy! But…. but… if it’s irresistible charms you’re after, keep an eye out for Poldark and the sublime Aidan Turner on BBC America or where’ve those Brit costume dramas pop up. It’s just finished here – will be with you soon, for sure! Don’t miss it! 😉

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      • What a devoted reader you are, Julie! Thank you so much. Whether I’ll be able to maintain what you kindly call a blend of openness, wisdom and a wry sense of humor (American WP rejected your spelling!) remains to be seen at such time as I will have to confront something really and truly awful — which even now I find hard to believe will ever happen, Pollyanna that I am, despite losing more and more contemporaries forever and seeing others deprived of vision from macular degeneration and of control of limbs from strokes and Parkinsons and still others suffering the effects of “treatment” for aggressive cancers.

        But Poldark — yes, he’s coming to Channel 13 (NY) and probably to many other local Educational Broadcasting stations (Channel 2 in Boston). It’s being advertised weekly at the close of every Sunday night episode of Wolf Hall as following right after the last two parts of WH. Infidelity tends not to be my thing. (I was a serial fornicator, never two at a time.) But I’ll certainly give your Aidan Turner the first Poldark episode, since you say he’s sublime. 🙂

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      • I don’t know about ‘devoted reader’. But I do stay with blogs that have a strong voice – and yours certainly does. I think, should you ever have to face the kind of truly awful something to which you refer, that (should you decide to share it in your blog) you would have much to offer your readers – and perhaps they in turn would have something to offer you.

        Meantime, revel in Wolf Hall (sadly I missed this, being in Florida when it began) and Mr Darcy, and think nothing of that age difference. And yes, do give Poldark a chance – you won’t regret it. One episode and you’ll be hooked!

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      • Julie, there’s no “sadly” about having been in Florida when Wolf Hall began — because you can still see it (American broadcast) on your computer. Type in thirteen.org, which is the web page for Channel 13 New York. You can find the full first four episodes there, and after tonight (our tonight — five hours later than yours) you’ll also get the fifth, and a week after that, the sixth. Lots of other televised series goodies to see or re-see on that webpage, too!

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  2. The clothes are #1 priority. You can blog about your delicious purchases. It doesn’t matter what age you are, clothes buying can be fun. Your Chinese student sounds like an interesting story if you can get it out of him. The different culture and he must be special to be studying at Princeton.

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    • Well, there’s two plus me for the clothes! Thank you for the vote. The hell with paying the bills on time.

      Huihui (pronounced, believe it or not, “Weewee”) has already explained to me, partly by printing words out on a notepad when I don’t understand him, that he is an only child because he was born after the death of Chairman Mao. Mao thought more people would make a stronger China and therefore encouraged the birth of multiple babies per family. (Huihui’s grandfather had three children, which was at that time a low number. Huihui did not reference his grandmother in recounting this. I did not interrupt to question the omission.) Subsequent to the Chairman’s death (I am using fancier words than Huihui did), his successors decided China had too many people and limited everyone to one child per family — unless it was a girl, in which case the family got a second bite of the apple. But if the father or mother worked in government, they were strictly limited to one child to set a good example. For those allowed a second child when the first was a female disappointment, if the second was also a girl, tough luck. That was it. No more children. We did not discuss this cultural preference for boys built into governmental regulations. “Conversation” with Huihui is very slow, and focussed on pronunciation, so we ran out of time. We may revisit the topic next Wednesday. 😉

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  3. I am very happy if the bloggers I like to follow (i.e. people like you) produce shortish and infrequent blogs because I have a similar set of problems… except for the clothes. I go to one or other of our brilliant local charity shops (Oxfam, Cancer Research etc) and buy a whole wardrobe for a few pounds whenever I happen to be in the mood. I have to do a bit of sewing as well, but I enjoy that.

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    • You’re a smarter woman about the clothes than I am! In my defense, I plead that I only get the urge twice a year; it’s seasonal. And I used to shop at second-hand shops when I was much younger and lived in New York. But now that I don’t, and in the age of the internet — especially with free returns — it’s tempting to shop without stepping out the door when overcome with desire for something new. (Usually near midnight, when it sometimes feels as if a new outfit will magically transform me into a new woman who looks somewhat like the lovely model wearing the outfit on the screen.) Sewing? Only buttons that have come off! I so badly botched my white grammar school graduation dress, which we were supposed to learn how to make in “Domestic Arts,” that my mother had to take the pattern to a dressmaker so I wouldn’t disgrace us all by having to wear in public the grubby garment I had sewn myself.

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    • P.S. I too appreciate short and infrequent. However, it’s very hard for me to oblige in turn with respect to the “short.” Even when I cut the prose as tightly as I can, the thoughts expressed therein tend to lead to further thoughts or explanations. What’s in my head appears to be globular; once I begin, I must traverse the entire circumference of whatever it is. Sorry. 😦

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    • It’s not going anywhere, and will keep till you are ready. Are any of the 221 inbox emails garbage, or too long ago to have to deal with? Or must I feel sorry for you because you have to answer every one?

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  4. There is so much there. Much of it familiar territory. I am spellbound for many hours a day when Helvi tries on her multitude of outfits. Who wants to travel when most of it is pantomime anyway?
    The impetus to travel goes contemplating the thought of queuing at the airport, being separated into male and female rows, get patted down, take off belt and boots, arms up for the body scan, spread-eagled only to have the scanner going off again, hearing aids batteries! A colonoscopy seems almost preferable.
    Of course Montpellier beckons as never before, but so does the comfort of home and easy chair, the familiar of daily routine.
    It is not easy.
    A great post again, Nina. I stand in awe of your writing art.

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    • I fear you are too easily impressed by my writing, Gerard. (They can’t all be “great” posts.) Words were my trade(s). Trial lawyering is mostly words; copywriting is words; editing is words; teaching English at university is also mostly words. But thank you, thank you anyway. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ll take all the praise I can get.

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      • You deserve all the praise and hope you walk tall around Princeton. Can’t wait for the second half to appear. With your gift for words and detail it promises to be a sizzler.
        I am still reeling from your calm assurance that you were just ‘a serial fornicator’ with a confession of a more medical nature.

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      • As I said before, I welcome appreciation. But what confession of a medical nature has made you reel? That I broke two toes in 2009 and had a hip replacement in 2010? And why should you — presumably a man of some experience in life — reel at “serial fornication?” Surely that’s better that “simultaneous fornication” or “no fornication.” Or hypocritical dishonesty. 🙂

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  5. I would never apologize for taking breaks, or writing short posts. It is overwhelming to find a blogger that I like, and follow, to realize that they routinely post long pieces, 5 or 6 times a day. I don’t know how people keep up with this stuff. I am constantly trimming back my “follows”. So…relax and write when you can…your loyal readers will always find you. ☺ Van

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    • Thank you, Van. You’re a sweetheart. (But who posts long pieces 5 or 6 times a day? Clarissa of Clarissa’s Blog posts often, but hers are always very short, or even shorter than that.) I suspect people who spend a large part of their waking days in their WP readers may not have much else to keep them busy, so that reading blogs and commenting at length may constitute much of their social life. Which is much better than being all alone, I suppose, but perhaps not the healthiest way to live.

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      • I fear that kind of attention to blogging may be a substitute for real life interactions. It’s another kind of disconnect, maybe ? But you’re so right, it certainly beats being alone. Have a great weekend, Nina. ☺ Van

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      • Unfortunately, circumstances (exterior or interior) often deprive people, especially as they age, of satisfying “real life interactions.” I do doubt that much blogging represents an intentional disconnect. I did have a great Saturday, Van. (And hope you did too.) Thanks for the good wishes. But I may have to spend Sunday blogging about it! 🙂

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  6. Delightful post Nina! I too suffer from overload. I’ve been posting lately e-mails I’ve received, as I try to fit in time to write (other than blogging). I love reading your posts, but sometimes, when things get too much I have to delete rather than read. I guess we’re all in the same boat. I love the sound of your French vacation. This might lend itself to the subject for a book? I can imagine you finding more than enough for an entertaining book.

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    • Glad to see you again, Barbara. I do understand about “busy.” As for a book about a trip to that part of France, have you read “Toujours Provence” and all its sequels? You’re a dear to suggest I write such a book, but alas! — it’s been done!

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  7. One shouldn’t let blogging get in the way of living – not while spring beckons. Why not cut back to once a week? And if that is still too much, drop the blog until time and the urge are in agreement. I’m curious, is Florida the only warm place in a wintery USA?

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    • Dear Christine — For some of us writing (even in a blog) IS living. As for waiting till there is an urge, haven’t you noticed that the longer one waits, the less likely is an urge to come? (It’s like constipation.) Also we relatively long-time bloggers develop a sense of obligation to our followers: if they give us a part of their time on a regular basis, we feel we shouldn’t let them down for too long. But I do thank you for your well meant advice. As for your question, Florida is not the only warm place (there’s also the southwest — Arizona and New Mexico), but for those of us in the Northeast it’s the closest, and where many elderly “snowbirds” from our part of the country fly when winter comes.

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      • Thanks for your wise response, Nina. I understand what you mean. I was only just thinking on my walk this morning about my tag line – trying to keep the brain cells alive – when I realized how much more ‘alive’ I feel, with my blogging interactions an important part of my life. I loved your comparison with constipation! Apt, and I will take that warning onboard.

        As for Aix, I tend to forget how the countries ‘up there’ fit together! It is the fault of my thinking of the world with Britain on the far left and the Americas on the far right. It’s always been hard for me to imagine that space in-between since learning about Christopher Columbus in school.

        Thanks. Take care. 🙂

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