Thursday, October 14, 2010

Two Kinds of Sirens?

Hi Lisa,

I just worked for an hour on a piece for this blog. I have my AIM shit on so that my students can reach me at “office hours”. AIM is very annoying. Participants have all kinds of sound effects they use to signal that they are now online and accessible. There is actually another faculty member who uses a siren sound when he arrives. I did not know this until a few minutes ago.

After laboring on this piece and finding it very much to my liking I was about to save it via the “yes” button on the dialog box. Suddenly my computer gave off a terrifying wail; I jumped, my finger hit “no” and an hour of work vanished. I wanted to kill.

Is it really so necessary to announce oneself in this unholy way? Should I start bringing an air horn with me when I enter rooms, buildings, etc.?

We have talked quite a bit recently about the emergence into the culture of a disheartening level of selfishness and an unsavory kind of self-awareness. This event made me think of our conversations.

I am certain that I am not so important as to require a sound effect to announce my comings and goings. Even some Britons feel that the amount of hoopla around the Queen’s forays is a bit much. The idea that we are all so important….yech, you know the drill.

What I was writing about was a lead-in to our discussion of Agatha Christie, and in particular, Miss Marple.

I want to continue our talk.

Having recently become even more grey I am thinking more about age and being older, or old. I am not sure when “old” is correct. Am I old when I am past 50? One would think so as my recent experience would testify: in the thrift store the young clerk looks at me, then at my hair, then back at my face and asks if I get the senior discount. I ask him, "How do I know?" and he replies, “Are you 55 or older?” to which I respond with a resounding “Yes!” I am a senior at Savers.

I am not a senior on the bus, or for federally subsidized health care; too bad, as that would really be helpful. Who decides where the line is? Certainly the young man didn’t know without asking (I suppose a blessing for me, although it doesn’t feel that way) and AARP says I am but then again the Feds disagree.

Miss Marple is old. At the time Christie was writing these novels 50 was OLD (I seem to remember) and since I read them when I was young I think this idea stuck.

Marple is a sturdy, independent, formidable old woman; she has all her marbles (a play on Marple?) and is not disinclined to offer her opinion with assuredness. I loved her immediately and wanted to be like her when I was old—all except for her fashion (blech) and the country cottage. Actually, the cottage sounded nice, but not as a steady diet, and St. Mary Mead sounded downright scary!

The idea of an old woman, a single old woman, a spinster, as being someone to look to as a model of a kind seems silly, or maybe worse, sad. (That’s a lot of commas) Yet, I think she is viable as a source of inspiration for women.

So, here’s your chance to chime in. This post is certainly not what I had hoped, and the jerk with the siren has my old lady curse upon him! WWMMD?