Me thinking about stuff, Grinch/Gaul edition

I think I may have finally caught the spirit of Christmas, or anyway the mood of holiday traditions. (I’d like to think I have the spirit of Christmas year-round, but I definitely am not always in the mood to buy gifts, bake, and decorate.) We already have so much stuff that until today, I just couldn’t bring myself to get excited about acquiring more. In particular, we have what could seem like too many toys, but since Santa and I have always been good at choosing quality toys with lasting play value (doll house! play kitchen! Lincoln Logs! Playmobil! Legos! dolls! wooden blocks! wooden trains! dress-ups!) and also since my kids actually do play with what we have and seem to enjoy it (not every day, but somewhat regularly) I don’t really want to get rid of what we have. But I also don’t feel like acquiring more.

But on the other hand, my kids will only be kids once (I hope) and I do want them to have the magic of fun new toys on Christmas. So I think I’ve finally gotten in the Christmas mood. I just hope December 7th is not much too late to start. (It shouldn’t be. Isn’t three-or-so weeks a year enough of my life to give to making Christmas happen?)

At least in a few years my kids will probably just want electronic devices or cash, which in a way will be easier–or at least it will take up less storage space.

How to fall into the internet:

I keep emails marked “unread” if I will need to take some action on them, and right now I have more than four hundred in my inbox. Yesterday I set out to boldly do some inbox weeding. I started with the oldest email in the box, which was an email notification of a Facebook comment someone had left on my old mission companion’s page, about a year ago. I knew the commenter from my mission, as well, and had meant to send a friend request.

So I went ahead and did that, and it took me about 20 minutes to compose a two-paragraph message in broken French, including looking up the Alt codes for accent grave and cé cédille, etc. (I haven’t heard back from the requestee. I hope she’s just not online much, or doesn’t remember me, rather than that she hates me.)

Then I wondered how my old mission companion was doing, since I haven’t heard from her for a while, so I checked her Facebook page, but it didn’t look like she’d been on there recently. But I did see a comment she’d made a while ago to another mutual acquaintance from our mission, about a book that the acquaintance had written. At the acquaintance’s Facebook page she had a publicly-viewable link to her book blog, where I read a long-ish article in French about which parts of modern Halloween come from the Celtic festival of Samhain. (I understood about 85% of the article, or maybe a little more than that.) Then I read a summary of her book, which is about a Gaul in pre-Roman Belgium, and then I watched a trailer for the book on YouTube.

(And for all that, I think my mission companion was actually talking about a newer book than this one.)

And then, oh look, nearly two hours had passed, and I had deleted one email from my inbox.

I think the moral is that curiosity isn’t compatible with a simplified, streamlined life.

(You could also correctly gather that I hadn’t yet caught the Christmas spirit yesterday. Since I’ve supposedly caught it now, I’m not sure why I’m here talking about stuff on my blog instead of doing Christmas-readying. Let’s call it festive! Festive talking-about-stuff.)

Update, 2012: I just noticed a little spike in blog traffic. and it turned out to be people looking for Christmas bunnies. Now I feel a little bad, because apparently I didn’t give the source of the image, and I don’t even know where I got it, now. Oops.

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8 Responses to Me thinking about stuff, Grinch/Gaul edition

  1. Jason says:

    I love mental journeys like the one you describe. You traveled centuries and milliards of miles in your mind.

  2. Try translate.google.com. It ain’t perfect, but you get all the right vocabulary, with all the right accents, etc, which you can then polish off. I use it all the time while studying for our mission.

    • zstitches says:

      It’s actually the (attempted) polishing that takes the time for me, usually.

    • zstitches says:

      But I can see how that would be more speedy than looking up each word in an English-to-French dictionary, so thank for the tip.

    • zstitches says:

      I just heard back from the Belgian Facebook friend and tried using Google Translate to help my reply, and already I see its weaknesses: for example, it didn’t know to use “habiter” (to live at a place, to dwell) instead of “vivre” (to live, to be alive) to say I was living at a location. On the other hand, if I can get it to bring up the word I’m looking for, I can cut-and-paste it with the correct accents instead of memorizing Alt codes. (Although between writing in French today and the other day, I think I’ve already memorized a few of the most common accent codes.)

      • Jason says:

        Google Translate also lets you see a list of possible replacement-choices by mousing over a word in question. That way, you can choose among habiter, vivre, and maybe even survivre. 🙂

        GT also generally knows how to conjugate verbs and type in proper character-sets.

  3. Virginia Wood says:

    Zina, I loved your post. I accidentally (maybe subconsicously) deleted my entire AOL inbox (about 300 unread posts) just days ago. There was only the tiniest moment of “oh no”, followed by the thought that I could recover it all via recently deleted. Instead I decided to enjoy the fresh start. It is (was) liberating. I’m trying hard to keep my inbox under twenty now. It will probably last about a week as it takes just one day of NOT checking to fall far behind.

    I didn’t know about translate.goggle.com. It’s probably just one more thing I don’t need to know as I don’t talk to anybody in any other language–except perhaps Mongolian. Maybe I will try using it for translating our ward and stake posts into Mongolian for our growing Mongolian congregation that meets with us on Sundays.

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