Early to Bed, Early to Rise…


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A friend recently introduced me to Edna St. Vincent Millay’s poetry. Millay has a very short poem, titled “Grown-Up”, which seems an appropriate introduction to this subject:

Was it for this I uttered prayers,

And sobbed and cursed and kicked the stairs,

That now, domestic as a plate,

I should retire at half-past eight?

I’m not so much of an old lady that I need to go to bed at 8:30 pm, but I can certainly appreciate the sentiment. I’ve slowly come to accept that I just need a lot of sleep in order to function properly during the day. I’ve never been a night person. In college I settled in to going to bed around midnight, which was much later than I’d gone to bed prior to entering college. Now that I’m out in the adult world however, I seem to have lost that ability to get by on seven or seven and half hours of sleep a night. (Yes, I am aware that many college students would be ecstatic to get as many as seven hours of sleep a night.)

Another thing that is odd is the sensation of being excited about going to bed. This is not an entirely new phenomenon, but when one has been staying up later the last week or two in preparations for finals, it makes sense. It makes less sense to me when one is working full-time. Working full-time is more tiring overall though, than I’d thought it would be. I don’t even have a physically demanding job. I work in an office, and at least 80% of my day is spent on the computer.

I have discovered that having a set bed-time means that I notice I’m getting tired even before my bed-time comes. This is possibly an indication that my bed-time should be a little earlier even that what it currently is, but I’m balancing between when I ought to go to bed and when I’d like to be able to go to bed.  Alas, I’ve left this post to the last minute, and I am approaching that witching hour.

Until next time,

I remain,

Agatha Viola

Domestic as a Plate

A Love Letter to Snail Mail


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I adore snail mail. I enjoy sending it, I love receiving it, and I derive great pleasure from checking the mailbox to see if any mail has arrived

I particularly like corresponding with friends by post. Email definitely is a great way to communicate with people, but it’s just never going to be the same as getting a letter in the mail. There is a feeling of care and love in a handwritten letter from a friend that the most eloquent and beautifully crafted email cannot convey. This is not to say that emails cannot be touching and lovely and moving – of course they can. But there is a little thrill one gets from a snail mail letter that one does not get in an electronic communication.

I love being able to put handwriting to faces. It’s another piece of what makes up a person that you know. The style of their writing is one aspect of who they are, and the way their writing looks is another thing that distinguishes them from other people that you know.

There are so many things to enjoy about receiving a letter. First, there is the joy of going to your mailbox and discovering the letter in the first place, knowing that someone took the time and care to write to you. Then there is the envelope, which is a treasure trove of interesting things: the postmark, the stamp (what will it be), perhaps a little scribble on the back of the envelope or a wax seal, perhaps not. Next you have the satisfaction of opening the envelope, and removing the letter. Does the stationary (or card) match the envelope? You can read slowly, savoring the words, seeing the news flow across the page. You also know that you hold in your hands a piece of paper (or two or three) which your friend held. Without being too weird about it, it’s a nice way to feel connected to someone, especially when they’re far away.

A snail mail letter from a friend or relative is more than a mere communication. It is a tangible reminder that someone cares about you. It is an unexpected surprise when you come home in the evening. It is something you can easily carry with you to read on your way to work or school or wherever it is you are going.

So here’s looking at you, snail mail. May you live long and prosper.

~Agatha Viola

Letter Aficionado

Adventures in Aquiring a New Mobile Phone


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Recently, my almost five-year-old flip phone started acting up on me, and it became clear that it would need to be replaced. I went to my cell phone carrier’s web site, to see what my options were. Here is what I discovered:

#1: There are very few flip phones left (even if you include things like the Jitterbug phone, which I wasn’t because I do use my phone for talking – shocking, I know – quite a bit, and it was more economical to keep my current plan).

#2: There has been almost no innovation in flip phone design and flip phone interfaces in the past five year.

#3: Very little or possibly no time has been put into making flip phones aesthetically pleasing.

As an addendum to this list, I should point out that when I went into the retail location, there were a grand total of three flip phones that were not set aside as phones for the prepaid/pay-as-you go plan. Three. The smart phones covered the better part of rather long wall.

For reasons not worth going into, I was unable to purchase a new phone that day. Afterward, in explaining my frustrations to my family, some of them suggested I consider a smart phone. It turned out that I would be able to get an older smart phone for less than $50 dollars, so cost would not be prohibitive in that case.

I pondered it. I pestered all family members with smart phones with questions about said devices. Finally, I decided that I could try a smart phone. I had 14 days to try it out, so if I didn’t like it I could take it back.

I decided on an iPhone. Some of my family has iPhones, and it seemed that an iPhone was the least complicated smartphone out there. I still did not really want a smart phone, but I thought that smart phones were the way the world was going, and that it would be better if I just bit the bullet and started getting used to them now.

As you may guess, this was not a good line of reasoning to take.

I started freaking out about it while in the middle of making the purchase. Fortunately I was freaking out in my head, so no one was alarmed, but it was very unpleasant. I convinced myself that I should at least complete the purchase and take it home, because maybe I would feel better about it in the morning, or in a couple of hours or something.

After I got home, I ended up using Skype to chat with my mother because I was too freaked out to actually use the new cell phone. I then babbled in a nervous and panicked fashion to some other people about it, and decided I would take it back after work the next day.

In the end, I kept the phone for a little over a week, and I was able to put aside my freaked out feelings and give it a fair trial. What it boiled down to was this: I just didn’t want a smart phone, and the idea of being that connected to the world bothered me. I didn’t want to be potentially available by email and by phone at all times. I didn’t want to have the opportunity to access the internet any time I came across a wifi signal or any time there was a 3G network. Really, I wanted my phone to allow me to make phone calls, and have a voicemail so people could leave me messages. Also, I mainly use my cell phone when I am out walking around or am on the bus. In-the-ear earbuds don’t work for me, and so I need to be able to hold the phone to my ear. The iPhone is rather heavy and is not designed to be comfortable to hold to the side of one’s head for a long time.

I returned it, and got a $40 flip phone. I’m very happy with it.

~Agatha Viola

Curmudgeon at Heart

P.S. My new flip phone has three programmable buttons, separate from the number pad, and it allows you to choose from a list of seven pre-selected options for your three buttons. One of them is a pill reminder.