Day 22: Analog Correspondence

Hard to believe, but there was a time in my life when I delighted in writing letters. Besides writing daily (mailing weekly) to a boyfriend in England, I became acquainted to several of his friends and we regularly exchanged letters too. Before that I wrote to my school friends over the summer when we were away on family vacations or at camp. I also wrote to my grandparents when they moved to Wisconsin and my parents when I was visiting my grandparents or visiting my boyfriend in England.

I’m going to blame the Internet for making me quit writing letters. Why would I want to find the stationery and pen, write a letter in longhand, find the address, find an address, find an envelope, find a stamp, and mail the letter when I could type an email and send in the same amount of time it would take me to find the stationery? Why would I want to wait weeks or months for a reply when all the receiver had to do was hit “reply” and type their response?

This reluctance to write letters led to a reluctance to send Christmas and birthday cards too — Christmas cards were the worst since I never had everyone’s addresses handy and had to go scrounge around for those and often just left the cards unaddressed, unstamped and unsent until I decided to stop altogether. I didn’t need more stress at Christmastime.

I finally stopped sending anyone birthday cards when the youngest nephew turned 16 which was deemed the age we needn’t send birthday money. I’d already gotten so bad at getting cards out in time that I pre-bought belated birthday cards in bulk.

Yesterday I began and today I finished going through my physical in-box — the silver metal one that sits on my office desk. The in-box whose contents were about to collapse on my keyboard. Near the bottom was a letter from my friend Sue whose Christmas card is always one of the first to arrive. Now Sue has an email address, but she doesn’t use it. Her husband, Will, checks it and lets her know if she’s received an email. Nor is she on Facebook (although Will is) so connecting with her online is pretty much not something I can reliably count on.

So I decided that it was time to answer her note in the Christmas card. I’d been wanting to tell her that I ran into a mutual friend when I was at my aunt’s funeral back in February, but never sat down to write. Today was the day. But I first had to find stationery.

Our stationery is kept in a large canvas storage container. As I locate more around the house in my journey towards organization nirvana, I add them to the container. As I looked in it for an appropriate notecard for Sue, I decided that this stationery container needed organizing. I spent a couple of hours putting the types of cards (notecards, birthday cards, belated birthday cards, Christmas cards, postcards, etc. into separate piles, wrapping the piles with paper, labeling what kind of card they were, and matching envelopeless cards with cardless envelopes. Imagine my delight when I finished something that wasn’t even on my list!

I found a notecard with a Brian Andreas story on the front, wrote Sue a note, addressed it (her address is in my contacts list online), stamped it (stamps are in a drawer next to my desk), and mailed it.

Day 16: Labor Day

Labor Day has often been problematic for me. It usually meant I was either a student or teacher who was returning to school the next day or had recently returned to school. I never much liked school — it had other people there and other people scared me most of my life. More recently, September meant spend-down and many of the projects on which I worked put off accessibility until they knew they had leftover money that they had to spend before the end of the fiscal year. It was a VERY busy month.

This year I had no school to return to nor a potentially busy month, so the day was not much different than any other day, making it, if not delightful, not dreadful.

Husband went kayaking for most of the day again, so the house was, again, mine for several hours. I spent it cleaning out my dresser which does not sound like a delightful task, but it ended up being just that. Without discarding any of my clothes, I will no longer have to swap winter/summer clothes again because I organized all my dresser clothes in my dresser + the empty drawer under my side of the bed. The closet is next!

Other delights today:

  • It was a delightful day, weather-wise
  • Clare’s being published (more on that later — it deserves its own post)

Day 11: Organizing My Brain With Technology

I am surprised how quickly this week is going, especially compared to last week, which seemed like a month. I think I might have found a solution to my not-quite-right feelings about my new life (delight!) Details below.

I spent much of today writing lists — long-term goals and regular goals — trying to organize my mind around how to spend my day-to-day retirement time. Then (being a “technology will solve everything” kind of gal) I searched for an app to help with those lists. I ended up downloading the Habitica app again, a program I’ve used before, but always discarded mostly because I don’t like the game aspect of it.

The program divides tasks into three categories:

  • Habits — things you want to change about yourself, good or bad
  • Dailies — regular goals, can be daily, weekly, bi-weekly, monthly, etc.
  • To-Do — long-term goals

I like that you can create checklists for the goals (not habits though) to divide it into manageable tasks. Another thing I like about this app is that it can be used either as a mobile app or on a desktop, so it is always in my pocket, but I can enter or edit the goals on the computer if I want.

Everything this program does can be done with pen and paper, but this is easier for me.

Another delight today was a phone call from Clare. Even though she was upset about work, it is always nice to talk to her and I always feel honored that she feels comfortable unloading on me.

Profile card of Dona Patrick's Habitica character showing icon of warrior and pet fox.
My Habitica profile