I think the world would be a rosier planet if we would learn to be more flexible, rather than being stuck in the rut of ideological stagnation.
I’m reading “All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten” by Robert Fulghum and first published his #1 best seller in 1986. I was tucked into bed last night thoroughly enjoying all the little observations of life the author described so eloquently and then turned to page 50. I smiled to myself and made a mental note that in the morning I would share two paragraphs with anyone who cared to take the time to read them and think about the possibilities of a different perspective:
“Maybe we should develop a Crayola bomb as our next secret weapon. A happiness weapon. A Beauty Bomb. And every time a crisis developed, we would launch one. It would explode half in the air…explode softly…and send thousands, millions, of little parachutes into the air. Floating down to earth…boxes of Crayolas. And we wouldn’t go cheap, either…not little boxes of eight. Boxes of sixty-four, with the sharpener built right in. With silver and gold and copper, magenta and peach and lime, amber and umber and all the rest. And people would smile and get a little funny look on their faces and cover the world with imagination.
Guess that sounds absurd, doesn’t it? A bit dumb. Crazy and silly and weird. But I was reading in the paper today how much money the Russians and our Congress just set aside for weapons. And I think about what those weapons will do. And I’m not confused about what is weird and silly and crazy and absurd. And I’m not confused by a lack of, or the need for, imagination in low or high places. Pass the crayons, please.”
Today I am coloring my world in bright and happy and pleasing hues. Oh, yes…one more thing about kindergarten and my day today is knowing that eventually, it will be nap time.
We want what we want and we want now it now seems to be a common denominator for many in the United States. Money is no object when the consumer is armed with credit cards.
I nearly choked on my coffee this morning when I heard the average credit card debt in America is $16,061. This figure doesn’t factor in debt for car loans, student loans or mortgages. Americans are spending $1,309 annually just on credit card interest. In other words, approximately $109.00 per month is dedicated to only paying interest charges. I suppose this wouldn’t be so bad if average household incomes were six figures, but, the average annual household income is only a mere $58,000. Figures like these make my head explode.
I was raised to believe you shouldn’t have a champagne appetite if you are living on a beer budget. I think many people are confused and feel a 60-inch television, fine dining, exotic vacations, new cars, and the latest in electronic gadgetry are necessities when, in fact, they are the “extras” in life.
If we are fortunate to live long enough then we have, undoubtedly, witnessed enormous changes in our world. Many things have influenced and improved the quality of our lives and yet, people are people and sadly, human characteristics and traits haven’t kept up with progress.
Our penal system is overcrowded with thieves, rapists, child molesters, bullies, murderers, drunks, and drug addicts. I would guess that 2000 years ago these same types of people were also locked up.The more things change the more they remain the same.
As a young boy, I idolized my uncle. He was, indeed, the strongest person I knew and exhibited no fear of anyone or anything. I was spending the night with my uncle and his new wife. It was a hot and humid summer evening when they decided to stop at a small grocery store in an unsavory neighborhood. As a 9-year old, I had elected to stay in the backseat of the car while my aunt and uncle picked up a few items in the store.
I remember staring at the bugs flying around the parking lot lights. Suddenly, out of the shadows and into the light a monster appeared. The man was huge and an evil aura surrounded him. His glazed eyes were focused on me and he approached the car walking like Frankenstein with his arms outstretched. If he ever got ahold of me I knew the outcome would not be a pleasant one. Frantically, I started to roll up the back windows and lock the doors. Automobiles didn’t have electric windows or electric locks in those days. The man had his hands on the hood of the vehicle as he made his way around to my side. I leaped over the seat and rolled up one of the front windows. The monster wasn’t giving up and again circled the car to get me. I tried to scream for help but no sounds came out. When the attacker thrust his hairy arm through the remaining open window I proceeded to roll it up as fast as I could. I now had four of his fingers jammed and I held onto the window knob for dear life. A cab driver arrived on the scene and grabbed the man and threw him into his cab and sped off. No one came to my assistance that frightening evening and I never felt so helpless. It took several days before my voice returned.
I had another traumatizing event happen when I was 12-years old. Both of my parents worked and as an only child I would get off the school bus, unlock our kitchen door and immediately call my mom from the wall hung phone next to the door and let her know I was okay. In our hallway was a door that led down to the basement. The basement had steel walkout double doors that were normally bolted shut. On this particular day, I had laid my school books on the kitchen table and was speaking with my mother when I noticed the door to our basement was left ajar and the door jam was splintered. My mom was in a panic when I looked into the dining room and noticed my bank (the building in the above picture was Syracuse Savings and my bank was a bronzed replica) pried opened and empty on the dining room table. I was frozen with fear not knowing whether the robber was in the house when my mom told me to run next door. I thought my feet were in cement as I rushed over to the sanctuary of Mrs. Russo’s house.
Although I didn’t lose my voice during this incident, the feeling of imminent peril was certainly present. Childhood innocence is fragile and these two events took some of that away from me but lost innocence would grow exponentially with time.
It is estimated we make approximately 35,000 decisions daily. The mere thought of all those decisions has me feeling a tad overwhelmed and ready to go back to bed and pull the blanket over my head. That isn’t an option because today is grocery shopping day. Do you feel my pain?
I’m the domestic chef of the house and most weeks I don’t mind doing the grocery shopping because I have already made a mental note of the week’s menu. Occasionally, I will have a day like this one where my mind is blank. A flip book of photos goes through my mind, scanning hundreds of images in an attempt to plan the weekly meals. Finally, the lightbulb goes off and after much cogitation, my shopping list has been developed and I’m ready to attack the aisles in the supermarket.
There is a method to my madness. I like to make dinners that will provide us with two meals. However, I do not like eating the same thing two days in a row. Consequently, I will stagger the menu. For instance, today I’ve made lasagna. Tomorrow we will have beef stew and then both dishes will be repeated…lasagna…then stew. The fifth dinner will most likely be chicken and then perhaps goulash. Once per week we either dine out in a restaurant or order take-out. Then, Sunday morning rolls around and the insanity starts all over again.
Each photo posted is a dish I’ve prepared. Whatever you decide to eat today may it be made with the love I put into the meals I prepare.
I was born with a unique voice and loudly spewed words with the force of a cannon. As a young boy, I underwent surgery on my vocal chords and was even enrolled in speech therapy classes, all in an effort to teach me to speak softly. I fiercely rebelled. I could not be someone society wanted me to be. Most of my childhood I was scolded for talking too loudly and was told to keep my voice down. My attempts to “speak normal” were futile.
From early childhood on we experience numerous physical and sociological changes. As we age we learn to familiarize ourselves with social norms and begin to modify our behavior in order to assimilate into our cultures and customs. Parents are usually the best teachers and act as architects while laying the cornerstones for the foundation of life. However, not all educators should be in the teaching profession and there are definitely building contractors who shouldn’t own a hammer.
Most of us have had the uncomfortable experience of witnessing an adult woefully deficient in parenting skills screaming at their children in public to, “SHUT UP!” or “SIT DOWN!” I’ve seen these people grab the kids by the back of their necks and yank on their hair. They are brutally abusive in their words and actions. Children learn from the environments they are exposed to and if their surroundings are toxic most likely they will grow up having a poisonous view of the world around them. Consequently, the cycle continues.
For many, displaying proper social skills and etiquette come as second nature. As a card-carrying member of the “Baby Boomer” generation, I was raised to respect my elders, as well as being kind and respectful to all. It wasn’t until I was 18-years old when I mustered up enough courage to call an adult by their first name. We were also taught proper table manners, including saying, “please” and “thank you.” We learned to chew our food with our mouths closed and the correct way to hold our utensils. Additionally, under no circumstances was anyone allowed near the dinner table wearing a baseball cap. Unfortunately, today when we go to a restaurant we see a hilly terrain of people wearing baseball caps and making fists to clutch their forks and knives as they stab away at their plates of food like carpenters pounding nails.
I’m glad I never learned to fit in the mold and speak normally. For you see. people have no problem hearing me when I speak up about bad manners, poor etiquette or social injustices. Rest assured when this lion roars those around me take notice.
When I used to be busy doing work around my mom’s summer home she was constantly telling me to put on a hat. I would refuse her repeated requests and then she would turn to my wife and say, “Dennis is always concerned about the way he looks.” My mother did have a valid point, but then again, she was the one who raised me to have a squeaky clean look and to dress nicely.
The rules of making a fashion statement are immediately thrown to the wind once a person enters the sterile and restrictive areas of an emergency room or medical testing sites where they are instructed to undress down to underwear, socks, and shoes and then put on the hideous hospital gown. A patient needs to be a contortionist in order to securely snap or tie the gown in such a manner so they will not be showing off their derriere to all behind them. Success is measured by whether or not you feel a breeze on your backside while walking down a hallway.
It is standard operating procedure in many medical practices for their staff to instruct patients to disrobe and put on a hospital gown. Well, I am not always compliant and quite frankly, rebel when things don’t make sense. On a recent visit to a new doctor the nurse, after taking my vitals asked me to strip down to my underwear, shoes, and socks and put on the hospital gown. “No” was my curt reply. The nurse was stunned and befuddled and I added there was no reason for a gown. I stated, “If the doctor wants to see my chest I will raise my shirt. If the doctor wants to see my legs I will roll up my pant legs and if they want to see my arms I will push up my shirt sleeve.” This was a small victory for me.
I guess, this was my way of mooning the medical profession without even dropping my drawers.
Reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ seems to be a favorite pastime for many. We have a tendency to erase bad memories and instead our focus zooms in on pleasant thoughts of the way things used to be.
Long before answering machines, beepers, pagers and cell phones our homes had one black tabletop rotary dial telephone. In 1959 we were introduced to the Princess phone, otherwise referred to as the bedroom telephone. They all had built in night lights and my mom had a pink one. It was the first time homes had two telephones. Finally, in 1965 the public was offered the wall hung telephone and ours made its appearance in the kitchen, sporting the color of the day…avocado green.
No one was bothered by telemarketing calls back in those days and no such thing as caller ID was available. We called people on birthdays, holidays, anniversaries and simply to just say, “Hello.” “I’ll get it” was a common refrain heard throughout, whenever the phone would ring. The only text messages we ever received were in the form of written letters and the occasional pen pals many of us had. There was always the grumpy and impatient person on a party line call who would become enraged if we talked too long, grumble and slam the phone down. Our silent way of getting even would be to quietly listen in on their conversations and try to figure out who they were and where they lived. It was a cat and mouse guessing game, but for some strange reason, we found it mildly entertaining.
Today there are fewer landline phones and the people who still have them are inundated with annoying telemarketers and surveys. The silly intimacy of whispering into the kitchen phone to a love interest, while hoping your parents or siblings didn’t hear you are long gone.
Even though we are connected to the world via the net, I can’t help but feel a tad melancholy surrounding my nostalgic memories of closer family and friends when we communicated through that one old black telephone. These feelings of mine especially ring true when the void of a loved one not calling during the holiday season leaves a deafening silence in my heart.