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

Friday, August 08, 2014

Happiness Happens - Celebrating What Makes Us Happy

Even here in the good ol' USA, happiness is not a right, only the "pursuit of happiness." And, in that phrase is a golden nugget of wisdom. Happiness IS something to be pursued, to be sought, to be created and to be shared. It is not going to fall down from the sky like smiley face snowflakes. Sometimes when world events, local events, personal events and internal events seem to be conspiring to snatch that happiness goal further and further away, it is them we have to step back and assess where our happiness is, and how we can breathe it in. 

Today is Happiness Happens Day, part of Happiness Happens Month, a period of time chosen by the Secret Society of Happy People for focusing on happiness — what it is, and how we find it.  Skip on over to their website and find some great smile starters, happiness challenges and words of wisdom. Find out about 31 types of happiness, and track your own happiness progress for a day, a week or a month. And, if you do nothing else today, share a smile with someone else. It will make both of you happy.