July 30, 2010

Whatever happens, that's the plan

The Artist and I, apparently, are having creative differences, as some on the Left Coast say. You could also say, we are unable to accommodate each other's needs. But in truth? I am not sure how it happened, how it went from feeling like "us" to sensing she was already gone, long before I realized.

It makes me sad: I had such hopes -- initially we seemed to share the same sensibilities, to laugh at the same jokes, shake our heads in joint irony; I thought, perhaps, we even comforted each other, as well as the fun stuff. Fun is another element that had left the building. I wanted something I could not get, something I can't quite, or don't want, to articulate here.

But apparently, whatever happens, that's the plan. That's the tune everyone around me is singing. Or at least for the moment. These days, I suppose it's as workable a motto as any. Erases the sting of "Be properly scared," something that has echoed in my head.

I am at a point where, whatever happens, that's the plan seems quite apt, considering my shortage of definite plans for my future -- what will I do for a career, given my lack of interest in running a financial planning business, and my technological incompetence leaving me unable even to try to get a job in my previous field, editing.

Then there's the fact that the magazine industry when I left it was alive and practically well. Now the print world as I knew it is gone. The magazine industry's on life support, and we're all to blame for that. I do wonder: who the hell decided that we were better off reading brief articles on a Web page, and let print go to die.

I realize the irony: I'm writing on the very instrument that has helped push my old industry into the ground, making use of exactly what I complain about: the Internet. I just think the pace of technochange is way, way, too fast, and that something has gotten lost in the mad dash to computerization.

That would be, among other things, our attention spans, our ability to talk with one another in person and think real social life did not involve sitting at a screen typing in lieu of talking, leaving the vocal intonations completely devoid of a job for which they are better suited than a machine: conveying emotion, whether cheery or dour, sarcastic or earnest.

Here I return to Luddite-ville, apparently alone.

Only last week did I find out the Artist had been trying to figure me out from reading my blog entries -- and noting that my travelogues seemed too self-focused, and why didn't I talk about the settings: for example, what was new and different and interesting about each culture?

I tried to explain how much of my view was, alas, that of a tourist more than the traveler I would like to think I am. No, I don't write about seeing homeless people in one part Buenos Aires juxtaposed against another neighborhood that could be Paris. I think and observe more than I write. (As for Buenos Aires, I could not tell whether I was watching the ghost of New York past or future: a city falling on hard times, again.)

For another, this blog is the world through my eyes -- and if you happen to share an interest in how I view the world, that's why you're reading it. If I weren't sufficiently entertaining in some manner, well, how would I have met and become real-life friends with other bloggers to whom I was introduced through their writing?

Back to the plan: whoever made it has a very slanted sense of humor. Black comes to mind, but that is how I get by, how I see things. When I went through chemo, people kept telling me how wonderful it was that I kept my sense of humor. What else was I going to do with it? Tuck it away in a safe deposit box to make sure I knew where it went? Cry?

You don't make it through a year of doctors and tests and chemo without laughing at some of it. Or at least I don't, didn't, couldn't. It is, after all, how I get by.

And, you have to admit, it is peculiar that two different straight women in the chemo lounge admired my boobs. I should thank them here -- for reminding me that all was not lost, that my body could be a toxic waste swamp, and still, I have great tits.

That, apparently, remains the plan.

July 12, 2010

Playing above the grass

From an article in The New York Times, this resonates with me: "Thomas R. Cole, author of a cultural history of aging, said he hailed anyone who, borrowing a phrase from his mother, age 85, 'is playing above the grass.' ”

What better way to put it? The ultimate division in life stages in five words. Far less of a cliche than keeping your head above water. Biggest problem is for those of us who never thought we would, regardless of circumstances, live to see past our 30th, 35th, or 36 birthdays. It's 15 years on now, and I hadn't anticipated this longevity.

Neither had several of my friends (a commonality I never expected to be growing each time I mention it). Thing is, we all forgot to plan. Live past 35? Really? From the age of 17, I somehow conjectured that twice that age would be about as good as it would get.

It seems I gravely miscalculated. Post-chemo, the miscalculation is all the more vivid. What has proved to be dead-on, though, is that about the time I was turning 35, the world I had known was becoming more and more lost and the world as it has come to be has taken over. Hey, I was an English major.

Apart from being the first family on the block to have a microwave; play Pong with the TV set sporting a green-on-black display; own a VCR old enough to record the original not-ready-for-prime-time SNL gang; and possess a home fax machine -- the better to see each week's football spreads, technology and I have not been fast friends.

Sure, the first computer moved in in 1985 -- and I've been editing on computer almost since my work life began -- but, honestly, I preferred it back in the day when I didn't feel electronics had showed my brain the door. I like to be smarter than the machines with which I'm involved.

The longer I play above the grass, the less likely it seems I have any interest in keeping up with the latest widgetry. The user-friendly concept and I seem to have had a falling out. I want my computer to be like a car: when I was 16, I could drive one just fine, and for the most part, nothing has changed on the dashboard to change that.

That's more than 30 years in real time. Thirty years in computer land is another story. While I can still operate the original computer, which had the best word processing software I've ever encountered, all the latest twists and wrinkles leave me cold.

It's a brave new world out there, and somehow, I forgot to prepare for it.

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