My first book has been released!

My first book has been released!
Available on Amazon and Kindle

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Repeat: Lost in Translation

My day job has kept me too busy recently to add a new blog, so I'm going to post one that I posted earlier in May because I think it's funny.  I hope you agree.

My husband and I are fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful neighbors, who are year-round residents, in our Florida condominium.  To our left, lives a remarkable couple, who just celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Like many successful seniors, they came to America from another land and worked tirelessly to secure the American Dream for their children.  Their three daughters have all earned college degrees and have been extremely successful.
However, with the economic downturn, one of their daughters was unemployed last year.  My neighbor, Maria, approached me while I was walking my dogs and asked if I would consider reviewing her daughter’s resume to see if it could be improved.  I work as a grant writer, but while teaching English for 12 years, I always included lesson plans on resume writing, so I had some experience.  Later in the day, Maria gave me a Post It size paper containing her daughter’s e-mail address, so that I could introduce myself and encourage her daughter to e-mail me a copy of her resume.  When I sat at my computer to write to Maria’s daughter, I struggled to read Maria’s printing.  The letters and numbers, comprising the e-mail address, were printed neatly but they were so tiny.  Even with my most powerful reading glasses, purchased in bulk from BJ’s, I couldn't make out all of the characters in the handwritten e-mail address.  I struggled and came up with the best e-mail address I could manage.
The next day, when I was walking my dog again, I saw Maria.  Humbly and gratefully, she inquired about whether I was able to e-mail her daughter.  I stuttered a little as I explained that I tried to do so.  I said, “Maria, I’m so sorry, but your writing was so very tiny that I could hardly read the address.  I sent the e-mail anyway, but honestly, I’m not sure if it went through to the correct address."
Maria, who would rather die than inconvenience anyone, reached for my hand and put the other to her head.  “I’m so sorry,” she said with a broken accent.  “My daughter, Katerina, told me, 'Momma, make sure when you give Katie the   e-mail address that you use only small letters.'  So I tried really, really hard to write it as tiny as possible.  I even did it two times.”
I burst into laughter.  I gave Maria a hug and said, “Maria, Katerina meant that you should not use capital letters in the e-mail address--not that you should write really small!”  We laughed so hard that my dogs thought we were crazy.  Fortunately, Maria's daughter did get a job and all is well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Child Rearing?

Recently, I attended a picnic at my friend’s house.  I got relief from the heat in heavenly air conditioning as I helped her to carry-out some trays of food.  While inside, I heard a car arrive.  It was the grandparents of the children whose parents were hosting the picnic.  I was stunned as, from the sliding glass door,  I saw the grandfather struggle to get to the house.  His baby steps allowed him to cover just inches at a time as his son helped him.  I heard he had been seriously ill, and his arms displayed the tattoos that were dark bruises from IVs.  His face was fully crimson as he struggled to reach the glass storm door.  Clear tubes connected him to an oxygen tank that his wife managed behind him. As he got closer, I looked into his piercing blue eyes and saw nothing but determination.  If he could have spoken,  he would have voiced his deep commitment to see his family at one final picnic before he died.

As he stepped through the doorway into the living room, his 10 year old grandson spun around in a burgandy Lazy Boy chair and said, “Hi, Grandpa,” but made no move to get up.  This cushy chair was the only reachable piece of furniture near the door that Grandpa could get to before collapsing from his immense struggle to enter the house.  I waited for it to be said, but heard nothing.  I tried to keep quiet, but couldn’t.  Eventually, in my most stern teacher’s voice, I took a step towards the grandson, who was still swiveling in the Lazy Boy.  I said, “Jason, you get out of that chair this moment and let your grandfather sit down!”  Immediately, I knew I had crossed a boundary by speaking to someone else’s child this way, but I couldn’t stop myself.

Jason squished his tan face into defiance and stared back at me with wide brown eyes.  He exclaimed, “I was here, first!”

As if slapped across the face, I opened my mouth in shock and looked from his face back two steps behind me where his mother was wiping her hands on a dishtowel containing sunflowers.  Inside, I’m thinking, “Okay, now she’s going to let Jason have it!’

The mother's face turned to stone as she put her right hand on her hip and said, “He’s right. Jason had that chair first!”  Then, her raised eyebrows asked me how I dared to talk to her son that way.

I was raised by a schizophrenic, catatonic, psychopath and yet every hair would be ripped from my head if I ever failed to give my seat to an elder, a pregnant woman, or a disabled  person. What is Jason learning?  Who will pass down our society's basic courtesies in the future?

Crazy, Mom, thank you for all you did right.  Maybe a kick in the rear is a good thing every now and then.  The truth is that there are probably no bad children or bad dogs, only bad trainers.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bad Season Finale?

Many of us, who are in our middle years, will never forget the historic season finales of beloved television programs.  Immediately, I think of MASH, Newhart, Seinfeld, Friends, and Sopranos.  Because of exquisite writing, it was difficult to say good-bye to characters that shared our living rooms with us for years. Collectively, as a nation, we grabbed our favorites snacks and settled in on our couches to see how skillful writers would force us to bid farewell to Hot Lips, Kramer, and Carmella.

Well, here in Central Florida, this week, we faced another television loss, as the most watched program of the season, The Case Against Casey came to an end.  The daily broadcast of the Casey Anthony murder trial, couldn’t have been better scripted by a Noble Prize winner.  Central casting couldn’t have selected better actors and actresses.  On a daily basis, we watched for emotion on the face of the shapely, attractive mother accused of murder.  We felt as frustrated as the stammering Defense Attorney hearing “Sustained” over and over again. We joked that he could have starred in “My Cousin Vinnie.”  We admired the verbal sparring skills of the aggressive blond lead prosecutor, always wearing sexy pumps, and supported by her white-haired Perry Mason-like teammate.  And then there were the grieving parents, broken and emotional, but always available for a “Meet and Greet.”

Despite the fact that I was utterly disgusted by the television promotions: “Customize your Casey coverage on your phone, Twitter and Facebook,” I couldn’t turn away.  In fact, even on vacation in Las Vegas, the perfect place to escape all reality, I turned on the television whenever I went back to my room to see what was happening in the trial at home in Florida.

Why?  What compelled us to watch this case?  Was it that television has become so grossly inferior as a form of entertainment that no modern program could equal the caliber of character and plot development that this trial offered?  Was it that every day was as compelling as a season cliffhanger leaving us with more questions than answers? Why wouldn’t a mother call the police after her daughter was missing for 31 days?  Why would a former police officer call the police to report a gas can stolen?  Who is more reliable, the medical examiner that conducted John F. Kennedy’s autopsy or reality TV star, Dr. G? Where was the DNA, hair fibers, and other stuff we learned on CSI, CSI NY, CSI Miami?

Then, the worst possible thing happened.  We’ve experienced the same emotion in the past when Jerry, George, Elaine and Kramer were let out of jail and went their separate ways. It was a bad Season Finale.  The show didn’t end the way we expected.  Casey Anthony was found not guilty.  How could this happen?

It could happen because Radar never really died. Jerry was never really arrested for being inconsiderate. Bob Newhart didn’t really wake up in bed with his old television wife.  Television is not real.  Even our news is not real. What we saw every day and every night, related to the case, was not the same thing that the jury saw. We never saw the photographs that the jury saw.  We never saw any of the real evidence that the jury shared.  We only saw what a camera could capture. We saw the distorted perspective that is broadcast as entertainment. At the same time, our perception of the little we did see was constantly reshaped by talking heads—so called experts who spent every single day 24/7 telling us what we should believe we saw.  It’s not real—just as it is not real as it relates to any other aspect of our society.

While on our summer hiatus, I hope viewers remember this because every, single one of us, could be put on trial by this same media and could someday swim with the fishes, like Big Pussy. We have to get a grip on reality! At this moment, I could point a camera at the water hitting the ground from our sprinkler system and any viewer would believe wholeheartedly that it was raining.  But it's not.  The sun is shining. The limited camera cannot take in all of the perceptions that we are blessed to enjoy.