Sunday, January 26, 2014

Connect the Dots

Where would we be without our children? I know my kids wonder on a regular basis how I get through life without their ongoing guidance, but every now and then I wonder too.  Yesterday was one of those days.

I went out to lunch with my husband and his daughter, Lauren.  We were discussing phones, a somewhat routine conversation piece.  He asked me how I am enjoying my relatively new Samsung Galaxy S4.  I didn’t want to complain knowing how lucky I am to have a really cool smart phone so I said, “It’s fine.”  He said, “You don’t love it?”  

No, I don’t.  Every text takes me 3 times as long as it did with my iPhone, because I have to continually re-text the words since the wrong keys register, as if my fingers are huge monsters that are out of control.  Big deal the screen is bigger, which is why I got the Samsung initially, but all a larger screen does is highlight my spelling errors – ALL of them! – and the by-product is now bigger-than-ever illegible messages.  I’ve tried 2 keyboards:  the Samsung keyboard which doesn’t do auto correcting and then after my husband’s Google search, we experimented with the Jelly Bean keyboard which utilizes auto correct but not very accurately, especially if the keyboard picks up the wrong first letter of the word. I’ve also tried positioning the keyboard horizontally so the letters spread out, but the space is too wide for me to comfortably navigate.

I answered his question by saying I have trouble typing readable texts, and then Lauren asked if she could give it a try.  I was sure with her slender fingers she’d have no problem hitting the right keys.  Plus she uses two hands whereas I use just one so people more adept at bilateral hand usage may find this product very satisfying.  I would’ve bet the end result of her experimentation with my phone would be that I’d have to learn to reposition my fingers and touch the screen more or less gently (a crapshoot), thereby slowing me down dramatically and, I assumed, still leaving me frustrated.

But guess what happened?  Gibberish on my phone once again, this time by Lauren!  Imagine how relieved I was when I saw her quizzical reaction.  She felt my pain. 

I am lucky that her mind, like my husband’s, moves toward solutions vs. trashing the system, which is what I’d been doing in my head for months.   Not a minute went by before she introduced me to Swype-style texting, which allows the texter to draw a line from one letter to the next with one long motion.    

I could see her sliding her fingers around and smiling while explaining to me the proper technique to get the desired results.  I was hesitant to embrace this idea at first since I’m not good at drawing, evidenced most recently by poor results at Pictionary.  I also questioned in my own mind why there’s always so much we need to learn in life. 

Then it was my turn. She asked me to text her.  The movement felt like Connect the Dots.  Easy as pie. No editing required.

This seemingly small change has made a big difference in my world.  I’d begun to dread receiving texts because I’d want to respond quickly, but it had become too time-consuming and agitating to do so.  Often I’d start, see nonsensical words or phrases on my screen and quit altogether. Or I’d decide to email a response at a later date, but then I’d forget.  

This upgrade is a real game changer.    

Thank goodness we have children. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Bonus

My girlfriend took me out to dinner the night before my birthday.  Every year, I know she is going to give me a book and something else.  The annual book giving has become a tradition because she wants to make it as easy as possible for me to read the books she’s enjoyed so we can talk about them.  She also picks up something else, often from a trip she’s taken.  This time she had just been to San Francisco to visit with her son, so I was excited to think that she may have brought a piece of that fun city home for me.        

This year’s celebration was at the Library in Voorhees and, if you’ve been there, you know how dark it is inside. There appears to be no overhead lighting, just a candle on each table.  Each time I go, it seems harder to adjust to the darkness, but then I tell myself maybe it’s better that way.  Do we really want to see the carpet, or our table, or even everything on our plates?  I know the answer should be yes, but…

She placed my gift bag on the table before we sat down and told me how excited she is about this year’s find.  Not only could I see her huge smile – never too dark for that – but I could also hear her enthusiasm, adding to the suspense.  I just couldn’t wait the cursory half hour, so I grabbed it (why wait, after all?)   First I opened the card…very sweet…then the book…The Kitchen House…can’t wait to delve into that…and there at the bottom of the bag was a small box.    

I toyed around with the idea of putting on my glasses before trying to open it, but I’d have to fish around my purse for them first, and that was way too time consuming when she’s chomping at the bit.  So I put my naked eyes to the test and was thrilled.  I could see an elegant pendant, outlined in circles of silver with a colorful stone in the middle, but I couldn’t see the details since I didn’t have my glasses on and the room was so dark.  As I picked up the box to move it toward the candle, she reached for it too, which was a confusing gesture to me.  To avoid a tug-of-war, I relinquished the box to her, although I wasn’t sure why she was interested in holding on to it too. I was nervous for a minute that maybe I misunderstood – maybe it wasn’t what I thought it was, or for me, or something else was going on that I hadn’t figured out yet.  

“Look at this!  This is great!  You’re going to love it!” she said as she was moving her fingers around the chain of the necklace.  Meanwhile I had already looked at it and it was great and I was loving it as is so I wasn’t sure what she was suggesting. “Let me show you my favorite part,” she said with great satisfaction.  And then it was clear.  Although the necklace was lovely, what left a bigger impression on her was…

The CLASP!  “Look at this!” she exclaimed, showcasing it with her shiny red fingernails.  “It’s so nice and big. I can even open it myself, so you will be able to also!”    

Wow. She not only bought a beautiful necklace for me, but she gave me a very special gift that I cherish, especially as a middle-aged woman – a sense of freedom.  I now have a necklace – may even be my first, other than for the ones I can throw over my head! – that I can open and close on my own, that I can wear anytime I want (not just when my husband is home so he can open and close the clasp) and, in summary, that will allow me to keep my independence, spontaneity and sense of style too.  I’m all for these innovations – most likely by another middle-aged frustrated person – to reverse the aging process. 

The necklace itself is a stunning bonus!  

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Getting On My Nerves

Listen up, girlfriends!

There are times when one glass of wine isn’t enough and sometimes a second one doesn’t do the trick either.  Ben and Jerry’s Phish Food ice cream (a pint, not a spoonful) may begin to make a dent, or the combo of wine + ice cream could turn things around, even if it’s breakfast or especially at breakfast.

Something else more substantial may be in order to truly relax the mind, decompress and replenish the ailing soul.      

Perhaps an afternoon closed off from the world with a good book or a movie or a walk on the beach or a pedicure or shopping or anything else that would feel indulgent on a regular day is fair game when we’re in desperate need of a pick-me-up, when life is truly getting on our nerves; when we are, in no uncertain terms, on EMPTY, having not one morsel left of energy, emotional or otherwise. 

My older brother Denis makes fun of the things I used to say when we were kids. His favorite expression of mine, which always reflected my angst of a particular person or situation, was that he/she/it was “getting on my nerves.”  I applied it liberally and emphatically when I was 4 and 50 years later I’ve learned to shout it out with tremendous gusto. 

Of course saying it to trusted people is what makes it satisfying, and I thank everyone (you know who you are) who has listened to my rants over the years. I’m convinced that, aside from stocking up on our best friends’ favorite ice cream in case they pop over, it’s our responsibility to help our loved ones talk out their woes while we listen, try to understand and not judge and give a nice big hug before we send them back out into the cold, harsh world.    

The fact is that there are times when life stinks, and as women we often put on a happy face even when we’re sad or frustrated, simply because we’re programmed to deliver what everyone expects of us.  Sometimes, however, it’s impossible to keep our mirage of a cool and calm exterior intact. Good news, Ladies!  We don’t have to try so hard...We can let go…We have a choice…We can focus on ourselves…We can have wine at breakfast.  And did you know that ice cream has no calories if you devour the whole pint at one sitting?

Sunday, January 5, 2014

His and Her Lists

Time with my husband once again provided some good blog material for today’s post.

But before I go into that, I want to make sure that I don’t leave any of you hanging about last week’s debacle when David told me he thought the purple jacket I was wearing made me look pregnant.

I did get past his honesty—I’m trusting that he didn’t mean harm and maybe there was some truth to it?—and a couple days later he redeemed himself when he asked if I’d like an early birthday present.  Anyone who knows me well knows I LOVE my birthday and all the related hullabaloo, so without missing a beat I said, “Of course…hand it over!”

You’ll never guess what was inside!  It was a black North Face—nice and roomy—to replace my new go-to purple jacket, which I had purchased to replace my ratty - albeit beloved  - older black North Face which my doggy had his way with when he was a pup.     

Maybe it was his way of assuring that he wouldn’t have to look at me day in and day out in that purple “maternity” jacket.  Whatever the reason, I got a new North Face out of the deal, and that can never be bad.  He got a lot of points for that.

Switching gears now, at breakfast on New Year’s Day, he said we should write...I thought he was going to say New Year’s Resolutions but he said instead…our New Year’s Responsibilities for 2014.  He said he would come up with our lists.  That’s right. He’d come up with both.

Under my name, he wrote down the people who he knows I feel some responsibility for, in one way or another.  It wasn’t a comprehensive list, but it was fairly accurate.

Now for his own.  Let’s just say there was a rather large discrepancy between the ‘his-and-her’ lists he created.  I didn’t know whether I should applaud him for recognizing our differences or bop him over the head for concocting such a sparse list in comparison.  A sense of humor kept me in check.

He was basically bragging when he pointed out that the volume of names on my list would prevent me from enjoying life, whereas his list translated to lots of free time to devote to his own interests and hobbies.    

As for my Numero Uno New Year’s Resolution, I want to keep laughing – at David, with David, whatever.