Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Writers' Wednesday: The Old-Fashioned Love Letter

With techonology taking over the world, it's easy for declarations of love that used to appear longhand, meticulously scripted on stationery, to become online posts that are here one day, gone the next. Email, IM, Facebook posts or chats - young lovers confess their feelings in this way, this world, more and more often. Almost gone are the days of the handwritten love letter. That's not entirely bad, of course: today's communication is almost instant, so you can tell your love AT ONCE how you feel. But there's something charming about feelings that are committed to paper, in the tradition of years/decades past, right? Take a look at some famous ones:

"I can live only wholly with you or not at all – No one else can ever possess my heart - never - never - "(Ludwig von Beethoven)

"You have touched me more profoundly than I thought even you could have touched me - my heart was full when you came here today. Henceforward I am yours for everything." (Elizabeth Barrett Browning)

"Dearest, - I wish I had the gift of making rhymes, for methinks there is poetry in my head and heart since I have been in love with you." (Nathaniel Hawthorne)

"I belong to you; there is really no other way of expressing it, and that is not strong enough. How could I, fool that I am, go on sitting in my office, or here at home, instead of leaping onto a train with my eyes shut and opening them only when I am with you?" (Franz Kafka)


So I will admit, I'm the kind of sentimentalist that kept a few letters from boyfriends past. I dug out a few the other day to reread them, and those lines in faded ink reminded me so much of the girl I was, of the boys who wrote to me, of the way I treasured those awkward (and sometimes corny) lines. A couple of the ones I still love:

"I watch you walk across the room and I realize you are poetry: beauty in motion."

"If you make me wait, I won't mind: the more sand that falls through the hourglass, the bigger a sandcastle I will build you with it."

"Telling me to resist you is like telling me to live without the sunrise in the morning, warmth in the winter or water in the desert."

Ah, love letters...words from the hearts written down in black and white to be cherished always. Anyone have a stash from their past? Anyone still write them to their loved ones?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Monday Mentionables: Extreme Couponing

Does anyone else watch the show Extreme Couponing with a combination of awe and apprehension? Do you know what it is? It's a reality sort-of show that highlights extreme couponers - those people (actually, all women on the shows I've seen, no men - and I think there's a reason for this) who clip coupons, file coupons, compare sale flyers, and then bring their coupons/laptops/spread sheets to the grocery store where they emerge some 3-5 hours later having just scored $1,000 worth of groceries for something like $1.75.

Impressive? Absoutely. A little terrifying? At times, because these women are obsessive about matching up their coupons with deals and then either buying things they would never use (and then donating them to the needy, I guess), or stockpiling things they probably will never get through. The "stockpile" is the pride and joy of these women: usually a closet, sometimes a separate room altogether, filled with everything they've scored free or almost free. And yes, I admit I'm a little jealous, considering I spend over $100 almost every week on groceries. But I'm not sure I could break down and buy 25 deodorants just because they're .10 each, or 100 packets of dried noodles because they're .15 each. What on earth will one family do with 150 boxes of cereal? Or four shelves filled with hand soap?

This is where I think the extreme couponers border on hoarding. I really do. It becomes more about the deal than about buying things you need and will use. I think, honestly, having a huge stockpile, whether or not you use it, makes some people feel very secure, and maybe rightly so. But still. I do find it a little odd.

Here's the other thing: do these people buy produce or meat? I can't believe so, at least not on the show. Because those things are NEVER on sale with a coupon. And finally, with absoutely no disrespect to those people who are racking up 98% savings when they shop, not one person featured on the show has a full-time job. These women say they spend up to 30 hours a week clipping coupons and scoping out sales, and I believe it. But there's no way I would ever have time for that! (Thus my opinion as to why no men are featured on the show: they're out working 40+ hours a week while the women are home with the kids and the coupons).

OK, this post had nothing to do with writing. But I do find this relatively new fad of "extreme couponing" quite interesting. Thoughts?