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TROUBLE WITH TRANSITIONS: OR WHAT TO DO WHEN BLOGGER.COM DECIDES TO LOP OFF THE HEAD OF YOUR BELOVED HEADER

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Yay! It is starting out to be happy day for many reasons.    Our aging Peugeot is now ambulatory and sports an Italian license plate. This means that we no longer need to live in fear of having to deal with the semi-sadists at the Motor Vehicle joint who, although we ourselves weren’t able to drive, seemed intent on driving US completamente crazy for the past three months.    Then, yesterday, in the wake of my having sent many friends the book announcement, it took about a minute for really nice congratulatory messages to start arriving.    But the icing on the cake was, after lamenting what I feared was the permanent loss of the brilliant blog Header that my talented daughter-in-law had designed for my blog, I just happened to be leafing through the index of blog pieces when I stumbled on my Eiffel/Leaning Tower Header image from a few years back.      See why I am so attached to this?   That must’ve been when Blogger.com changed the template that led to what appeared to be my well-l

EMBARRASSING CONFESSIONS OF A CERTIFIED TECHNODUNCE

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    Because I am a certified Technodunce (just ask any member of my family or my former students), so many things that everyone else seems to know come as total news to me. And although I speak a number of foreign languages, Facebook, which has its own vocabulary, has not been one of them. Terms that fluent speakers of FB know—Timelines? Notifications? Status? Duh...I need to look them up. Ditto for all those cute little emoticons.    Where I live in Italy, the eloquent expression, “Piano, piano” pops up all the time. I have been a pianist for most of my life, but that has nothing to do with the meaning of “Piano, piano,” or its supposedly reassuring synonyms, “Tranquillo,” and “Con calma”—all of which are more musical ways of saying “Don’t get your knickers in a twist”; “relax”; “no worries”; “all in due time.”     But when it comes to “social media” (?), I am facing a stiff learning curve. And as a septuagenarian who has just had her first book come out, I have a lot of catching up t

DID I REALLY WRITE THOSE WORDS? (Part One)

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  Over the years that I was refining and proofing Letters to Men of Letters for the umpteenth time, I decided to maintain a list of my own favorite parts. Sometimes I had to ask myself, “Did I really write those words?” The answer is yes! I will be quoting some of them like these:  One of my most dear Men of Letters, my Yale colleague, Jacques I frequently walk by New Haven’s historic Grove Street Cemetery, and it looks like a nice place to be. Further, that it’s populated by so many honchos suggests that they are less likely ever to be disturbed. And I’ve always said that sooner or later everyone who is anyone comes to Yale, so chances are that this might be a good final resting place. I am going to look into it. To be there would also be in keeping with my life choice to enjoy being a small fish in a big pond.  I once wrote, It’s fall, and death is in the air. But then again, it always was. From Day One. Life is what we do to keep ourselves from noticing. Perhaps what I should have

HOW EXCITING IT IS TO HAVE A READER WHO REALLY “GETS” WHAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN!

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  I found her, and here is what she said about my   Letters to Men of Letters—   Dear Diane Joy Charney,   Thank you.   I love this.  I completely love this. I love it so much that I want to sit right down and write you a letter -- not an email. Which makes me realize how loooooooong it's been since I've written anyone -- anyone -- an actual, handwritten letter.     I used to write long, long letters to people.  I loved writing letters.  I loved getting letters.  I still do.  Except these days, I never write any -- except condolence cards; how telling is that?! -- and I never get any letters.  Sigh.......it's all emails now, and as we all know, live by computer, die by computer, and should the computer crash, well.....there go the "letters"...   To backtrack a bit, I read about your starting out your Yale presentation about the book with Fats Waller’s “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter” playing in the background. I think you played exactly the rig

COVER GIRL? COVER BOYS? WHICH COVER FOR LETTERS TO MEN OF LETTERS WOULD YOU HAVE CHOSEN?

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There were five contenders. The first two highlight the men of letters who are included in the book. The other three focus on the letter-writer, herself.     This could have been the cover of Letters to Men of Letters (without the "available from Amazon"):   Or this:      Or this, which I call the messy-head woman photo:     Or this with the elegant jacket:     But my Magic Flying Shirt protested and won.     

YOU ARE INVITED TO MY YALE PRESENTATION ABOUT LETTERS TO MEN OF LETTERS April 29, 2019

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Although friends came to Yale from California and Orvieto for my talk, many who wanted to be there could not, so I promised them and myself that I would write a written version that would allow them to feel as if they had been there. Most Yale Fellows presentations are in the evening, but I was asked to participate in a bit of an experiment by giving my talk over lunch. Although it was recorded by a well-intentioned student videographer, that recording contains some funny flaws that make it clear that the person behind the camera should not quit her day job. Despite the clattering of dishware and odd lightning and sound issues, I am very glad to have that video recording. But as a technodunce who prefers to rely on the written word, I’m going to record a written version of it here.     As attendees trickled in to what ended up being a full house, I had playing in the background Fats Wallers’ inimitable catchy version of “I’m gonna sit right down and write myself a letter, and make beli

LETTERS I’VE BEEN GETTING ABOUT MY LETTERS TO MEN OF LETTERS BOOK (DOESN’T EVERYONE NEED A MAGIC FLYING SHIRT?)

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  A longtime friend who saw the book cover surprised me by asking, “Is that your lucky travel shirt?” How could she not have recognized it? Of course that’s my Magic Flying Shirt, without which I could never go anywhere, since it’s what keeps the plane aloft. Furthermore, there’s no doubt that the shirt has magic powers, since every time I wore it to a job interview, I always got the job. I also wear it to any anxiety-provoking occasion, and it really helps.     So is that the very same lucky shirt? I answered her as follows—   Z, I only have this Magic Shirt thanks to YOU. If you recall, we were together at that Tiffany store in Paris where I had dragged you for some fashion advice. I was going to buy only the matching skirt, and not the top, But you persuaded me that that was ridiculous: “Diane, you need both pieces so you can have an outfit!”    Well, that shirt is now 36 years old, but I already have a secret plan for when it’s too worn out to wear. However, I’m not going to reveal