Monday, October 06, 2014

STALKING 60 – No Turning Back Now

--> The countdown is on. Six months from tomorrow, October 7, 2014 the sun will reach the spot in its orbit designated as April 7. The day of my birth, 60 years ago. Perhaps it is a function of being born smack-dab in the middle of what became known as the Baby Boomer generation; this contemplation of mortality, this obsession with retaining youthful vigor, looks and place in the world; this fear of becoming irrelevant. We will not go gentle into that good night, damn it.

I remember, as a teenager, thinking that I never wanted to be the kind of “grown-up” that my parents exampled for me. Take away the extra issues —the alcoholism, being a step child at a time when step-children were rare commodities — and there was still the general feeling that belonging to my parents’ generation meant being out-of-touch, disinterested in the world and frozen in time as far as personal growth and learning. No, I was never going to be that kind of adult. And if it meant never getting married and never having children (because having children may have sapped the life out of them), then so be it. Not for me. I was going to stay vibrant, connected and relevant, damn it.

The attitude seems naïve and unrealistic to me today, and hypercritical of the lifestyle of the generation that raised me and my fellow 1973 high school graduates. My three grown children might be surprised to know that once I swore to never have any. On the other hand, maybe that would help them understand my intense “I won’t be THAT kind of mother” attitude – fiercely resisting becoming out-of-touch, disinterested in the world or frozen in time. Not me, damn it.

There is talk today of the media having too much influence on the shape of opinions, however, back then, the constant talk about the “generation gap” and the “silent majority” did its part to effect the thinking of the populace. The Kennedy assassination, the Vietnam War, the Watergate debacle that led to the resignation of Nixon — all this contributed greatly to the attitude that we were going to do things differently. No child of ours would be spanked, no son or daughter of ours would be sent off to fight in a senseless war, women would get equal pay for equal work, and racial issues would disappear. Now, I look and see that the Baby Boomers didn’t solve all country’s problems. In some arenas, we have made things worse.  The world is still full of wars, equality is still an unfulfilled goal and helicopter parenting had created an Entitlement generation that some say deserves a spanking.  In the almost 60 years since my birth, the world has spun faster than it ever has, flinging scientific discoveries, electronic gadgets and breathtaking current events at us faster than we can understand them; but understand them we must, because despite competing with the generations behind us who were born into this maelstrom, we are not going to be out of touch, disinterested in the world or frozen in time. Not us, damn it.

But now, the countdown is on. There is nowhere to hide from this reality as it bears down on me like a freight train. And true to my Baby Boomer heritage, I am going to over-analyze it, pontificate about it, and enumerate the reasons that it isn’t going to get me. I am going to laugh and cry in its face, deny its existence until the last possible moment, until at last I learn to embrace the passage of time and my own mortality.

Damn It.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

9-11: The Day the Earth Stood Still

The Day the Earth Stood Still

I remember stepping out of the shower
images on the television, a building engulfed in flames.
Thought it was coming attractions of “Collateral Damage”
a movie discussed earlier,
the screams of Katie Couric told me otherwise.
Wrapped in a towel, staring at the images, mind so filled with horror
no discernible words formed.
Dressing robotically,  confused as to what I was seeing
the second plane confirmed the intent.

I remember radio voices,
Scott and Todd, reporting what they were hearing
and seeing – voices choked with shock –
in Dr.Uray’s office – the nurses were weeping and trembling
all with children somewhere in the city.
We listened to Todd, or maybe it was Scott, wail in disbelief as the first tower
fell to earth, Dr. Uray corralled her staff – saying they must do their job in times of war, 
her face grave with past remembrance, her mouth set in a line of determination.

I remember calling the office to say I couldn’t possibly come in,
my boss Morgan said many were leaving anyway,
others sat silent in the conference room,
soundless except for whispered descriptions for those without sight,
of the unfolding  results of  incomprehensible acts.
Later would come the stories of Michael Hingson and his guide dog Roselle 
– escaping from the dust, debris and chaos, 
but that day, we saw nothing but death and destruction.

I remember going to my sister Theresa’s house
she hadn’t heard from her husband,  a supervisor at UPS, 
who often subbed for drivers on the World Trade Center Route.
The kids trickled home from school , we tried to shield the youngest, Robert,
Through many many anxious hours before his father walked in the door.

I remember going home to my house,
my daughter Annemarie and my son Roy Michael, on the deck
surrounded by football players and cheerleaders
silent and subdued they clung to each other powerlessly,
all knowing someone with someone in the city.
I worried about my oldest, Rosemarie, on campus at Montclair University,
no phone calls would connect.
The greatest fear of a mother is to be separated from her children in a calamity or disaster. 
Without her home where I could see, her, touch her – unbearable,  on a day where all was unbearable.

I remember from a high point in Monroe,
a place now covered with a gated community, 
we saw the smoke pluming miles into the sky
– a sky devoid of air traffic of any kind –
 creating a deafening silence the seemed to halt the Earth in its rotation, 
hold it motionless in orbit,   
rendering us unable to draw a breath.

I remember night fell, but it was only darkness; sleep wrenched from it,  leaving only nightmares behind.

© 2011 Noreen Braman

Write down your memories for your children, your grandchildren, and all who follow in your footsteps.

Yes, I own a giant cellphone – and here is why

--> Today, CNN ran a cartoon called “Attack of the GiantCellphone” which makes some funny points, but in my opinion, doesn’t really address the real problems with cell phones, big or little, that I will address at the end of this rant. 

I am a baby boomer who loves computers, doesn’t need anyone to explain social media to me, and, in fact, keep the whole network of computers at my office running. And yes, I own a “giant” cell phone and am not ashamed to say so.

Yes, my baby boomer eyes need a larger font and the size screen to keep me from scrolling hell. Yes, I love my cell phone camera, and all its bells and whistles that can almost compete with my digital SLR.  And yes, I am accessing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and a multitude of other apps on a daily basis. My giant cell phone is my pocket computer. For heavy-duty graphic design, creative writing and research, nothing will beat my desktop or my laptop – and if attached to my huge monitor, the photos are indescribable. So, I make no apologies for not being able to carry it in my pocket on most occasions. My screen is big enough to read books, meaning that I don’t even have to bring along my e-reader of choice, unless of course I am going to be doing a lot of reading outside, say, on the beach.

I am as considerate of others when I take photos as I am when I use my digital camera, and agree that people blocking other people’s views of shows, scenery, events and sports by holding up their phone, tablet or video camera (remember those) are just rude.  And seriously, trying to video a concert on most any kind of consumer recording device just produces a lot of out of focus video, and crowd-spoiled audio. There are just some times when the cell phone should stay in your pocket or bag, or cutely designed cross body phone case.

Unfortunately, one thing that cell phones are exceptionally bad at is phone calls. Despite my love for new technology, I long for the days of the old-fashioned-hanging-on-the-wall phone. The one that let people talk freely to each other, even speaking at the same time, without the digital signal cutting one person off in favor of the other.  Pretty soon we will have to start saying “over” when we are letting the other person know that it is their turn to speak. And that will only work if you are alone in a sound proof booth, because add anyone talking in the background, dogs barking, babies crying or even just the sound of brushing your hair behind your ear, and forget about intelligible conversation.   Talk to a customer service person on a headset or someone who has you on speakerphone and you descend into a level of hell reserved just for cell phone conversations. I cannot recall how many conversations I have ended with “Just text me!” or “Call me when you have a better signal!” or “0K! That’s fine!” (That one almost got me into the credit card scam of the month club).

So, my advice is, if you need to talk to me, send me a text, an email or a carrier pigeon, but don’t try to call me on my cell phone.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Be There or Be Square - Keeping Your Brain Healthy & Active With Humor comes to Philly!

AATH conference info available at www.
It is not too far off to start making plans to attend the Association for Applied and Therapeutic's 2015 Conference in May, 2015. I KNOW I need to do as much as possible to keep my brain healthy and active as I stalk 60 - so I will be there!

Friday, August 22, 2014

I Take the Ice Bucket Challenge and Call Out fellow Laughter Yoga Leaders, AATH Members and Humor Writers, including you, Dave Barry!

Having once appeared on the same newspaper page as Dave Barry, and getting a nice note from him after I thanked him for sharing his audience with me, and subsequently getting a signed book from him that he addressed "Noreen - to my idol, " I feel like we are close enough best buds to call him out by name. Plus, he may very soon get some "read my book" correspondence from me that I will prepare according to his detailed and helpful writer instructions in his new book, "You Can Date Boys When You're 40."  So, I am challenging you, Dave - all other professional humor writers, my fellow members of the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor, as well as Laughter Wellness instructors and Laughter Yoga leaders to join me in laughing at ALS, with smiles, ice water and money. #LaughatALS

Sunday, August 17, 2014

No Peace, No Happiness

many hands forming the peace sign

There are so many places in the world that need lasting peace, right now, today. Let's hope that somehow, the parties involved will come to realize it is the only way to lasting happiness.

Monday, August 11, 2014