Friday, July 18, 2014

I Can See Clearly Now That You Don’t Care if I Can See

Finding a great pair of glasses is almost as difficult as finding a bathing suit that fits. Those of you who have searched for either know what I am talking about.  When I spotted a particular pair of glasses on the web, I just knew they were for me. Of course, they might look terrible when tried on, but I just had to find them.

It took trips to three stores and calling of others to finally track them down. When I put them on, I was sold. Put my prescription in these babies! Unfortunately for me, my recent eye exam result was “no change,” and I didn’t have a new prescription. My prescription was right there in the eyeglass store’s computer, but they couldn’t use it. Apparently, eyeglass prescriptions expire in two years. I needed a new copy of the prescription straight from the eye doctor.

No problem, said the eyeglass store, we will just call the eye doctor and have it faxed over. But, it was a weekend, so they promised me they would call on Monday.  Apparently, I have the most popular eye doctor in the world, because the line was busy for days. I decided to call myself, and got voice mail. I left a very polite and detailed message, indicating what I needed to be faxed, and a call back number in case there was an issue.

Today is Friday. The eyeglass store is patiently saving those hard-to-find specs for me.  And the prescription has not yet materialized. So, I called again, and miracle-of-miracles, after an extended hold, spoke to a live person. Sure, she said, she would have the doctor sign off on the prescription and fax it over to me.

Two hours later, no fax had arrived. I called back – sorry to nag you, but I want to get to the eyeglass store. I am told that yes, the doctor signed off, and the prescription was given to the “Clinical Desk” who will fax it by the end of the workday. I explain that it is the end of my workday, and I am getting ready to leave the office for the weekend, and could they maybe fax it now?

She puts me on hold for five minutes and then comes back to say, yes, it will be faxed  over shortly. That was an hour ago.

So, I just called the office again, just to make sure they have the correct fax number. This is what I hear: “Thank you for calling. The office is now closed.”

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Fireflies - For the first day of summer

"Fireflies" ©2014 Noreen Braman
As dusk darkens my yard, hundreds of tiny lights rise from the grass, like silent fireworks. The yard is alive with light. As I watch these little stars twinkle, it is hard to remember that this is the magic of an insect, not some ethereal spirit.

I am awed by the evolutionary miracle that has taken place so that fireflies can find a mate in the summer darkness. Suddenly, I am aware of the mystical importance of it all — primeval life going on amid the suburban rubble.

As humans, we can feel that only our own existence is important, that somehow we have the power over life. And yet, nature is there, gently reminding us that life goes on, with or without us. As long as I can see fireflies doing their dance on a hot, summer evening, I'll know there is hope for the world.

©2014 Noreen Braman
 updated from my previously published version that appeared in Sunshine Magazine.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The President Kennedy and Chicken Fat Song Connection

Anyone who was in school during the 60s remembers the President's Physical Fitness program, instituted by President Kennedy, and the tests you took to prove how American Strong you were. For me, it was the chin up that was my demise, my flabby arms unable to lift me up more than once, and I am not even sure I did it once.

The program had a television commercial that I have been desperately searching for. It featured a depiction of a human as a head on a TV screen that barked orders to a robot. Where it should be taken, etc. At one point, the robot just wanders off, leaving the TV head person to just keep shouting at the robot whose name I seem to remember was "Z-12." The moral of the story? Use your body, or someday you won't have one anymore. It was an idea that resurfaces in the the Pixar animated film, "Wall E" where bloated, obese humans have every need met by robots and machinery. Cautionary tales meant to inspire us to take care of our bodies and the planet.

I remembered the President's Physical Fitness challenge with a wistful nostalgia, a noble idea that never quite got me to improve my chin-up performance, but did serve as a source of reward for those more athletically inclined, including my own children when they were in grammar school. What I never remembered, until now, was that this program also came with an evil, menacing, demeaning piece of music that has been recently resurrected by a commercial for Apple. 

It appears that the "Chicken Fat" song, which became the soundtrack of my adolescent nightmares, was actually titled "The Youth Fitness Song" and it was commissioned by the President's Council on Physical Fitness. Written by Meredith Wilson ("The Music Man") and recorded by "Music Man" star, Robert Preston. My brain, which has been screaming since I first heard this song playing in the commercial, is now on full about-to-meltdown red alert. Say it isn't so!

Oh yes, we've got trouble, right here in EVERY CITY IN AMERICA. Sure, Apple shortens the torture, it almost sounds catchy. But listen to it, preserved for posterity on the JFK Library website. 

And if you want to sing along, here, via Lyrics Playground, are the words. Every torturous verse.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Thank You, Apple, for reawakening the chicken fat trauma!

My ears are bleeding and a terrible song is ringing in my ears. No, I don't know the name of it, or who sings it. All I hear is the demeaning refrain that demands, "go you chicken fat—go!"

All I can see is  a junior high school gymnasium, in East Brunswick, New Jersey, full of adolescent girls in ridiculous white "gym suits" that snap up the front and show the world every bit of patterned underwear that you wore by mistake because you forgot it was gym day.

All I can feel are the eyes of the gym teachers as they bark out corrections for the exercises we are stumbling through to the beat of that godawful chicken fat song! A song I had convinced myself was only the stuff of a junior high nightmare and not something that really ever existed.

But now, thanks to Apple digging up this monstrosity from the adolescent graveyard where it should have stayed, I run, cowering, from the room each time the commercial comes on. And, as for whatever great new apps and gadgets are being advertised, don't show them to me, don't tell me how wonderful they are; because in my mind they swim forever in a greasy nightmare of chicken fat.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

NAPOWRIMO 2014 April 25, 2014


a mother’s heart is
a patchwork quilt
of captured moments
stitched together with
threads of memory.
bright squares of joy
full of laughter and smiles,
tattered places worn thin
by the wiping of many tears.
Encircled by lace knit of
dreams both fulfilled and denied,
creating a haphazard pattern
woven with the textiles of life.

©2014 Noreen Braman

Monday, April 28, 2014

NAPOWRIMO 2014 April 24


They had no word for volcano
and no oral history or mythology
about the mountain that
overshadowed them
and the tremors that
shook their town.
Even when the smoke
began to rise
it was a matter
of curiosity rather than
even when ash rained down
they stayed
under roof, under shelter,
under ground.
Realizing too late
utter destruction had come
with the searing heat
that struck them
where they stood
and buried them as they died
with arms outstretched
and feet in motion
with babies in arms
and silver in pockets.

©2014 Noreen Braman