[If TGOB was ever read by more than a couple of isolated souls in Finland, it got by WordPress.  Finland is definitely not one of the non-Anglophone countries whose flag I ever expected to see more than once every three or four months, if that, on the stats page. France, Italy, Greece — yes. Even (rarely) Norway, Denmark and Azerbaijan. But Finland?

Until about ten days ago. Suddenly, a flurry of interest from one or more Finns!  Thirty-three Finnish views in an hour!  For me, drifting along in the quiet backwaters of the blogosphere, thirty-three views per hour from non-followers is a lot.  And from just one country? Mind you, this was not simply Finnish attention to the current post. “My” Finns (if I may call them that) were scouring the past, in some instances going back to the blog’s early months.  

Naturally I went back, too — to see what was so interesting back there in TGOB’s babyhood.  It wasn’t “Roger Angell On Life In His Nineties,” the all-time most viewed piece I ever posted.  Or “My First Bra(s),” ever-popular in hot countries where by religious or cultural edict women tend to be all covered up.  No, it was a brief bagatelle from sixteen months ago called “Now Is All There Is.”

I cannot explain the particular appeal of this post to Finnish sensibilities. Nor do I recall that it was such a big hit anywhere when it first appeared. It just came, and then it went. But it’s still all true, or mostly true.  The part about my being unable to meditate has been somewhat addressed this year by forming a meditation group. If you form a group, the group expects you to be there to lead it.  I can therefore truthfully say that as of May 29, 2015, I am sitting down with four other people to meditate for at least thirty minutes once a week. That’s a kind of progress, isn’t it?  Whether or not I’m able to remain in the now for the full thirty minutes before the gong sounds and we all open our eyes I leave to your imagination.  I might also add we’ve temporarily abandoned breakfast oatmeal for a smoothie made in the VitaMix, consisting of baby spinach, blueberries, and Mango-Banana Skyr  — the Skyr a sort of Iceland buttermilk, now replicated in the US. But who knows how long that will last?  Bill is already complaining it seems rather “thick.”

The Finns have now departed from my stats, having apparently read everything of interest to them.  Nonetheless, I still like “Now Is All There Is,” which is probably what matters most.  So with a tip of the hat to the good people of Finland, here it is again.  Better read it now (if you’re going to read it at all) before now becomes then.]



Let’s look at another way of approaching “Now is now.” It’s my first principle for getting better at getting old, or getting better at getting older than you are today. [To see them all, revisit “My Twelve Principles for Getting Better at Getting Older,” posted on January 1, 2014.]

In reframing this concept less philosophically, I’ve somewhat paraphrased the Beatles, or at least their rhythm, in hopes that swiping the beat of their song about a four-letter word starting with “L” may help you remember what’s important here. Just hear them in your head when you say “now is all there is” aloud. Listen to the slowly fading sound of their blended voices singing together, and then dying away at the end: Now is all there is, now is all there is, nowisallthereis….

Now is all there is is worth remembering — whether or not you do think love is all you need — because now is all there is. All you and I ever have is now. By the time tomorrow gets here, it’s now. Now also becomes yesterday before you can say “Jack Robinson” if you’re not keeping a close eye on it.

Minimizing the amount of time I spend not keeping a close eye on now has always been a big problem for me. I don’t mean just that I fail to admire the sunset when it appears, or that I don’t pause long enough to enjoy the sight of little birds coming to the feeders filled with black-oil sunflower seed that hang off our kitchen porch. I mean I have a really hard time staying firmly in my own life — right now, this very day, this very minute. I am almost always off in a daydream, a reminiscence, a strategy, someone else’s story, fictional or not. Sometimes, I’m even away from now when driving, which is a very big no-no. I also occasionally waste now by wondering how it will be when I’m dead and there’s no more now for me (even though I know perfectly well that when I’m dead there won’t be anything at all for me, much less a now) — because being truly dead is something I cannot conceive of! How can I possibly not be? How can there be a time when I won’t know how it will be to not be?

When you don’t stay in the now, you can get really far out of it.

And don’t tell me about meditation. I have tried it in groups, and at Kripalu with a friend, and on my own with Bill and a timer to tell us when it’s time to stop. The meditating mind — at least mine, the only mind of which I can knowledgeably speak — is, as they say, an unruly horse. I don’t do well with a verbal mantra, but closing my eyes and following my breath as it moves in and out of the nostrils feels good and is calming, so I do that. Until I discover I’m not doing that anymore but thinking about something else entirely. Which is probably after about two minutes, but I can’t tell for sure because I’m not supposed to open my eyes to look at the timer. Then I try to rein in my unruly horse and start again.

I was never on a real horse but once in my life. [You see how my mind is wandering away from meditation towards mares and stallions here?] It was a small horse, a very brief experience, and on all counts — except falling off, which I did not do because the trail guide was holding me — a failure. Maybe that partially explains my poor results with meditation. But I don’t think so. It’s just me. Also my choice of partner. Bill is usually willing to meditate, but also usually falls asleep before the timer rings.

Now perhaps you understand why I say “now is now” is not a resolution, even though it’s a principle. For me to resolve compliance would be to fail. On the other hand, to keep it in mind (as best I can, haha) does move me along in the right direction.

But now I have to go make oatmeal. It’s almost noon and we haven’t had breakfast yet. I used up breakfast time writing this for tomorrow (which is now today) and now it’s time for (yesterday’s) lunch. Oatmeal for lunch? Why not?

I hope all this about now has been helpful. If not, don’t sweat it. Now it’s history. Go appreciate now somewhere else. And try to get that Beatles beat out of your mind. It’s so yesterday.



It was called “My First Bra(s).” I put it up because it had been cut, for reasons of length, from an essay of mine about the summer I turned thirteen which was published in The Iowa Review last spring, and I didn’t want it to sink without having had its chance to be read.

Sixteen of its first readers clicked “like.” I recognized all sixteen:  fifteen faithful followers of my then four-month-old blog and one woman who identified herself as a friend of a follower.  Thirteen women, three men. Mostly they lived in the U.S., UK, and Canada. All but one were native English speakers, and the one was perfectly bilingual. The women who left comments thought it was sweet, tender. One spoke of it as commemorating a lovely bonding experience between mother and daughter.

I expected that after a few days it would gently fade away.  Boy, did it not!  Except — curiouser and curiouser (as Alice in Wonderland might have said) — whenever it subsequently showed up in the stats, one or at most two views at a time, a Moslem country would also show up on my viewer map. A different country each time, but almost always one where women are generally hidden away in the home and well wrapped up when emerging on the arm of a husband,  father or brother for necessary purposes.

What was it about my sweet little piece that had such appeal to (presumably male) readers in burqa-wearing countries?  I read it again.  Had I used a “dirty” word? I found nipples, young girl, budding breast, delicate tissues, baby breast, fragile tissues, precious daughter.  Is that so exciting?  So productive of tumescence?

In certain parts of the world, apparently yes.  “My First Bra(s)” is now my fourth most popular ever piece of TGOB writing, if we don’t count “Home Pages/Archives.” [The first three are “Roger Angell on Life in His Nineties,” “About,” and “Why Blog About Getting Old?”] Those parts of the world where it has won such favor are probably the places where every martyr gets twelve virgins and eighty orange trees in heaven, but not much here on earth until marriage or martyrdom — except for what may be found on blogs emanating from the corrupt and shameful West, to be relished privately in the dark of night.

So I am running “My First Bra(s)” again — at what I assume is the unspoken request of its surreptitious fans.  I have even provided a photo:


Unfortunately, the photo is of a garment three cup sizes bigger than the “first” bra referenced in the piece. That one has gone the way of all delicious reveries.  Sorry, fellas.  Best I could do.  If the photographed garment is too “mature” for you, just close your eyes and don’t look until you’ve scrolled down to where the magic begins!



My mother had promised: When we got back to New York from the beach resort where we were spending the summer, I could have a bra. I was just thirteen and still only a little beyond flat-chested. But there had been bouncing. And teasing. And embarrassment. It was the summer of 1944.

My mother didn’t make promises easily, but those she made, she kept. In September, we went to Best & Company, a department store she felt she could trust for what she called “such an important purchase.” The saleswoman in Misses’ Lingerie looked me over doubtfully, shook her head and gave my mother a little card from the drawer under the cash register. “Come back in a year or so,” she said to me.

The address on the card was that of a small shop on Madison Avenue in the Seventies. We waited on little gilt chairs until someone could be with us. There was a pale pink brochure on the round glass-topped table next to my chair, which I read. Brassieres could apparently be fitted to the requirements of, or could be custom-made for, the client with extremely large breasts, or pendulous breasts, or just one breast, or no breasts. The brochure was silent as to the needs of the very young client.

However, the white-haired corseted lady who finally emerged from behind the floor-length pink curtains that divided the anteroom from the rest of the shop seemed absolutely delighted to see me. “Exactly the sort of client we love,” she cooed. “A young girl with happy problems, easily solved.” She ushered us past the pink curtains into a large mirrored alcove shielded by more pink curtains. There I was instructed to take off my blouse, drop the wide straps of my slip, and remove my undershirt. My mother sat on yet another gilt chair, holding the blouse and undershirt and looking anxious. She did not know what all this was going to cost.

I felt shy about exposing my budding breasts. Even my mother hadn’t seen them recently. But the white-haired lady didn’t seem to find them peculiar. “Lovely,” she murmured, running the tips of her fingers softly around the sides. “These are very delicate tissues,” she explained to my mother. “One must be so careful to protect them from bruising and strain. Lack of proper care at this age can result in irreparable damage and a lifetime of regret.” I wondered if lack of care in Russia was the reason my mother was so floppy without her brassiere. Was she now enduring a lifetime of regret?

The white-haired lady measured me with a pink silk tape measure and jotted notes on a small pink pad with a small silvery pencil. She felt each baby breast gently to gauge its circumference, and jotted more notes on the pad. Then she slipped away for a few minutes. Before I knew it, she was instructing me how to center each breast in the AA-cup of a beautiful pink silk satin brassiere. “There is a right way, and a wrong way,” she said. “Now you are one of the lucky young girls who knows the right way.”

When I was hooked in, she had me turn around, inspecting me as if I were a work of art. “We’ll need to take a teensy tuck in the left cup,” she told my mother. “Nothing to worry about. Many young girls need it, on one side or the other.”

My mother nodded, inquired the price, bit her lip, and said we would take two. The white-haired lady looked pained. “But my dear!” she exclaimed. “She needs at least two more for night wear. Are you really going to permit your precious daughter to damage those delicate young tissues while she sleeps?”

So it was that I became the owner of four AA-cup pink silk satin brassieres at the beginning of my second term of high school. My mother worried aloud all the way home on the subway about what my father would say when he heard what she had paid. But they couldn’t be returned. The left cup of each of them had been custom fitted especially for me.

I never wore the extra two to bed. For at least a year I had been playing with my nipples under my pajama top every night before I fell asleep, and it didn’t feel as good through the silk satin. Besides, I didn’t care if my fragile tissues got bruised; I was sure I was destined to be a dud in the looks department anyway. I just wanted not to bounce when I walked. To generate enough laundry to allay maternal suspicions, I changed brassieres every day instead of every other.

By the following year, I had developed sufficiently to go back to Best & Co. The four now outgrown pink silk satin bras went to the Salvation Army, where perhaps they found a second young wearer with delicate tissues. Or perhaps not. You never know with those custom-fitted items.

I suppose you could say all that about “happy problems” and “precious daughters” were the good old days. I’m not sure what was so good about them. Except that they’re fun to post about. And hopefully to read about too.




I need advice.  Social media advice.

Of the big three — Facebook, Twitter and Linked-In — I am on the last one, but only in an extremely uninvolved sort of way, mainly because a former husband and several former colleagues asked  to be connected with me, presumably to enlarge their networks by one more person.  Now that I’ve also become a WordPress blogger, WP automatically shoots my posts over there, but I have no idea who on Linked-In sees them, and have not observed in the stats that any visitor ever wandered over here from there.

However, I’m not on Facebook at all, and don’t have a Twitter account.  Most of the people I know (including my children, who are serious types in their forties) don’t do Facebook.  My grandchildren are too young, having only recently learned to read.  And by the time they become older, they and their contemporaries will undoubtedly have abandoned Facebook for something newer and quicker.  My neighbor’s twenty-one year old son at Stanford tells his mother SnapChat is now the way to go.

So I’m definitely a social media innocent.  On the other hand, I am the kind of noodle who reads her spam folder before clicking “delete permanently.”  Okay, I eyeball it.  I don’t actually read every word, especially in those very long comments that go on and on about SEO [search engine optimization] or how the spammer can help me improve my stats in other ways.

But occasionally there’s a spam comment sounding human enough that I read it in its entirely, and then begin to wonder who is sending such messages — messages that tell me, and God knows how many other bloggers, how great I am, and how I enrich their coffee breaks every day, and to keep doing the wonderful job I’m doing.  (These are usually attached to a post at least four or five weeks old.)  What’s the point? These messages don’t seem to be trying to sell a product or a service to anyone who reads my blog. Who is paying them to be so fulsome in their often misspelled and badly punctuated praise?  Although I agree that the “comments” in this latter category are also tossable spam, I look at them before disposing of them in the great cyberspace incinerator because they make me ask myself about the degree of misery and need that would drive anyone to spend time mindlessly typing out this drivel for a penny per dozen, or something like that.

I don’t indulge in this spam-gazing nonsense every evening, though.  So after skipping one or two evenings, thereby racking up twenty-eight undeleted comments in my spam folder, last night I found one among the twenty-eight which was sui generis. I hadn’t seen anything like it there before.  For one thing, it was very short. It was also timely, having been sent on March 11 in connection with “Why There’s No ‘Post’ Today,” which ran on March 9. The message simply asked:  “Will you let me distribute this on twitter?”  Was this also spam?

It was posted at 11:25 p.m. by a person or entity named Brett Rossi, identified further as: x  According to Google, there  IS a Brett Rossi.  In fact, there are two.  One, whose Twitter account is “thebrettrossi,” is an extremely well-endowed 24-year-old blonde porn star (with a colorful tattoo just above her shapely pelvic region) who on Valentine’s Day became engaged to 48-year-old Martin Sheen and subsequently did, or did not, become his fourth wife, depending on what you read.  In case you’re concerned for him, she gave up making “adult” movies seven months ago, she was really doing it just to make money to become a nurse, and it didn’t count anyway (according to one breathless-sounding gossip columnist), because she only permitted herself to be filmed with other naked women.  [A “lesbian” porn star, cried one headline.]

Fascinating though it was to learn all this, the future or present Mrs. Sheen was not my Brett Rossi. Mine — if I may call her that, at least temporarily — describes herself on her Twitter account as “Lover of life and everything to do with nature.  Wife, Mom, Hiker, and Good Cook.  Brett Rossi is my name, tweeting is my game.”  Her Twitter page — @realbrettrossi — claims 16 Tweets, 146 tweeters she follows, and (if you can believe it) 83.4 K followers.  [“K” means “thousand,” right?]  Unfortunately, her last tweet was dated February 21, so she’s not a very active tweeting gamer.  Most of the 16 tweets have been of newspaper articles and TV station news.  She has also tweeted about fashion news, sports, snow, a fashion columnist and a sports figure.  I have therefore concluded two things all by myself, just by writing this out for you here:

#1.  Brett Rossi’s comment wasn’t spam. She is a real person, with a real Twitter account, and really did want to do something twittery with the piece about my first serious boyfriend’s death which ran on March 9.  What she would have done, I do not know.

#2.  And never will know.  Reaching her reputed 83,400 followers, or 83.4 followers, is tempting. [The former more tempting than the latter, of course.]  But suppose she said something I didn’t like about my piece?  [I need editorial control!] And just who are these followers?  Judging by their “conversations” they seem rather young and rowdy.  Would I want them over here where I’m busy getting old?  Would they get on with the rest of you, who self-selected yourself as readers, for reasons entirely unconnected with Brett Rossi’s take on my extended girlhood romance, whatever it is?  I think not.  I will therefore pass on “distribution” by the real Brett Rossi.  And if she comes back to this blog to read some more, which I somehow doubt, I am hereby nicely inviting her to explain why she wants her thousands of youthful followers, or her 83.4 of them, to know about me.  A really persuasive explanation from her, and perhaps we can do a deal.  But only perhaps.

In the meanwhile, dear followers and friends, I still need advice.  Brett Rossi aside, what is your view of the merits of Twitter and Facebook in promoting blog readership? I have been thinking about this recently, even before the Rossi conundrum, which only brought it to a head. But I don’t really know what I think.  If I opened a Twitter account in the name of The Getting Old Blog,  tweeting about each post as it appeared, would that accomplish anything more than continuing to post away right here? And how much extra work would all that tweeting involve?  If The Getting Old Blog had its own Facebook page, what would be on it? And what would that achieve?  How many of you do have social media accounts? What do you use them for?  Are they linked to your blogs?  If so, is the link productive in any way?

Don’t be shy. I’d really like to know.  See where it says, “Comment” below?  Please do tell me what you think. So I can figure out what I think.  Many thanks in advance.