Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Monday, December 30, 2013

They've Got an App for Everything But....

I am in love with my smart phone! Shopping for free apps and reading their reviews is my new, part time hobby. They have some neat stuff and it’s no wonder so many young people have their faces buried in their phones. If I was in the dating scene the first thing I’d want to do when checking a guy out would be to look at his apps so I could get a window into his personality and quirks. For example, my first apps included the emergency ICE app and the Tornado app from the Red Cross. I’ve always been a person who believes that being prepared for the worst is somehow insurance against the worst happening. Crazy, I know, but it does ward off panic attacks in high stress situations. My grocery store app is another list kind of thing but with the ability to clip virtual coupons and locate which aisle of the store you’re going to find that obscure thing you only buy in leap years.

When people jokingly say, “I’ll bet they have an app for that” it’s really not much of a joke because they probably DO have an app for whatever you can throw in the Google Play Store search engine. Today I was testing that theory and I typed in ‘how to be happy.’ Sure enough they have an array of ‘how to be happy’ apps to download. I didn’t do a ‘happy’ download, but I couldn’t resist the Buddha Meditation Trainer with its Zen bells and Burmese gongs. Level one of ten starts out with a three minute meditation on the phrase, “Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the greatest wealth.” That was downright spooky given the fact that I’m getting over a bad cold that had me feeling yucky and depressed, and given the fact that the whole month of December I’ve been singing a song about my discontented life. And that brings me back to this age-old question: Does the universe find ways to tell us what we need to hear when we need to hear it? Or are those messages out there all the time, like white noise running in the background, and finally we let it penetrate our conscious thoughts when we’re ready to accept its Universal Truth? The meditation reminded me that a bad cold is not cancer---I’ll get over it---and contentment is a worthy, obtainable goal that we all struggle with from time to time.

At the Play Store next I did a search for ‘old people apps’ and I was shocked to find one titled Quickie Locator. You know, “for those times when you’re sitting in an airport with nothing to do” and you want to know if there is anyone near-by with a similar desire for a quickie to break up your boredom. Apparently, you can hook-up using GPS in any given area. You don’t even have to lock eyes across a crowded bar anymore, you can use an app for that and cut to the chase. Who knew! But I think someone tagged that app wrong because I’m guessing most old people would rather find friends and lovers the old fashioned way. But I did find a great magnifier app listed under old people apps and it had me going all over the house magnify stuff. I can even do it in a dark closet which I figure will be pretty helpful in a poorly lit restaurant.

For as cheap as my new phone was---$99.00 on a Black Friday special---I still can’t figure out how they can do so much yet a pair of no frills digital hearing aids that only has to do one thing costs in the thousands. But guess what. At the apps store you can get an enhanced hearing app. They say it’s for bird watchers or students listening to lectures and for people who forgot to wear their hearing aids. Ya, sure. You just plug your headset into your phone and you can listen to conversations coming from across the room. I can see the advantages of that app for people who are hard-of-hearing but, ohmygod, it kind of makes you wonder about some of these plugged-in young people sitting around in coffee shops! Are they really just playing games or could they be high tech voyeurs? It would be kind of fun to test for eavesdroppers wouldn’t it, by saying stuff that would shock a young person into a reaction. “Hey, Mary, see that young guy sitting by the window. I’d like to be his sugar momma” then count the heads that turn to look.

But I did manage to find an area of interest where there seems to be no app for that. I put ‘widow’ into the Google Play Store search engine and all that did was make the system assume I misspelled ‘windows.’ Then I tried ‘widowhood’ and it up came a bunch of apps featuring sexy Scarlett Johansson---actress, singer and model---tagged for this app catergory because she once played the Marvel comic book character, the Black Widow. I don’t know what I expected to find---maybe a pep talk when you need to hear one. Maybe an app like the Tornado app with headings like: ‘what to do before, during and after [a bad day]’, ‘recovery’ and ‘planning ahead.’ As a widow fast approaching the second sadiversary, I know all too well those back-sliding, sad days happen. So where is the app for that? ©


  1. Jean, This is hilarious. I guess I'm relieved that there's something out there for which no one has created an app (yet). This morning on public radio, I heard an interview with a guy from Sprint discussing the amazing new app they are developing -- one that makes it possible to have good sound quality on phone calls you make with your smart phone. Imagine that! -Jean

  2. Some of the apps out there really are funny and I have a good time every time I go to the play store. It would be interesting to learn how to make apps. It can't be too hard, everyone seems to be doing it. The Sprint app cracks me up, too. Shouldn't sound quality already be a given without an app?

  3. I think the "app" for that is those words that keep coming from the universe--that we hear every once in awhile. I call them God Whispers--you can call them the "Universe Voice App:. Whatever, they happen suddenly and seem to be an answer to a question I have. Amazing "apps" they are.

  4. I think you're right, Judy. Whether we call is God Whispers or the Universe, we're probably hearing our own inner voice/subconscious having finally worked out an answer to whatever was bothering us.

  5. I love discovering new apps that I can really use. And guess what? It's a conversation starter sometimes .... do you have a smart phone? If yes, what is your FAVORITE app. Try Night Sky. This works so well in Maui as the nights are usually clear. It tells you constellations and planets ... the app is free but then I bought the expanded version so it tells me satellites as well!! Which we CAN see!!

  6. I just read the description of Night Sky. Amazing what it can do! It's so cloudy here in MI this time of the year it's rare to see stars in night sky. Thanks for the tip on apps being a conversation starter. Now that you mention it, I saw that happen in a restaurant when I sat at the counter.

  7. Holy cow! I've been in the dark too long. I have to take a look at all this.

    My son must have that listening app. They were here for the week. My husband said he overhears everything we say. We would think we were having a private conversation and suddenly he'd start contributing his two cents. Funny... But...

  8. Wow, that would really make you wonder, wouldn't it. Either you and your husband are talking louder than you think you are or....the conversations are app enhanced. LOL

  9. This app searching of yours sounds like such a fun and healthy endeavor. You're finding new things, and can see that the world is an amazing place, in all sorts of new ways. This is good!

    I just had a similar experience with audio books this holiday. You can listen to them from your phone now (of course), and I can hook up the phone to the car stereo speaker. It's so much more convenient that the multiple-cd audio books of yore. In preparation for a long road trip, I bought The Goldfinch on Audible. It's 32 hours long! My daughter and I were riveted by the story for the hours and hours that we spent in the car. When we got home, I kept listening to it as I cleaned up the Christmas decorations. It kept me company, in a funny way. I might buy another one. Now I just need to find another mindless activity to keep me occupied so I can listen to the whole thing....

    1. I have to figure out how many apps you can put on my phone. The audio book thing sure would be handy. I love my Kindle but for those times when you didn't expect to have to wait some place it would be amazing to have a book on my phone. Mine has Bluetooth, too, but I haven't tried that feature yet. If nothing else, learning all this stuff is good brain exercise.