SHARING THE WORLD, 2015 – WEEK 13

Share Your World – 2015 Week #13

What was your favorite subject in school?

Um, would you believe English? Followed by art and history? Probably no big surprise there.

books and the duke

“Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the moments that take your breath away” (George Carlin). When have you had such a moment?

At my age, this is an unfair question. I can’t remember anything I haven’t written in my Google calendar.

I remember …

The first time I saw Jerusalem appear at the top of the mountain, from the taxi I was taking from the airport to my first little apartment in Gilo.

Infinite Grand Canyon

Seeing the Grand Canyon and thinking, wow, that’s really … wow. Really.

What’s your choice: jigsaw, crossword, or numeric puzzles?

Crossword. Of course.

If you found an obviously abandoned car with $50,000 in the back seat, what would you do?

I’d assume the drug lord who left the money there would be back for it. If I take it, he will track me to the ends of the earth, then kill me and everyone I love.

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I’ve watched too many episodes of Law & Order, Castle, CSI, NCIS, and The Black List. I don’t believe anyone just “forgets” $50,000. If it’s there, someone put it there and probably not a nice someone.

I’ll just tiptoe away before I get into real trouble. Okay, maybe I’ll take a few hundred. They’ll never miss it.

DON’T HOLD ME TO IT

Tagline — Our blogs have taglines. What would your tagline be?


And this is as reckless as we ever got. Reckless enough!

I’ve probably had a lot of taglines over the years. Life isn’t one thing. It’s a long book with a lot of chapters. No one is the same person at 68 as they were at 28 or 45 or 50. So, just for the record, I’ll go with: {Are you ready?} … {pause} … {Wait for it} …

IT SEEMED LIKE A GOOD IDEA AT THE TIME.

Don’t hold me to it. I have given this prompt the attention it deserves. Eighty-six words.

A HALF HOUR RADIO SHOW

See on Scoop.itBooks, Writing, and Reviews

This site hosts the original broadcasts of the cult radio comedy show “A Half Hour Radio Show,” syndicated around the US in the early 1990’s.

Marilyn Armstrong‘s insight:

When I was in college, I worked at the radio station. The people I met there included two husbands and almost all the people I call friends today. Sometimes, I was part of this show. I wrote some stuff, did voices on and bits. Hung around, heckled, made suggestions, joined in when another body was needed.

It was the biggest hit our little college station ever had. We were young, silly, and frequently stoned. Since then, the show’s producer, Tom Curley,  has put it through, many iterations, refined and rewrote it. After all these years, it’s still funny. You don’t waste funny.

Welcome to my fondest remembered past, the audio time capsule of my youth. From when the world and I were young …

The Show Must Go On

See on captclerk.podbean.com

BIG GUY AND THE CARDINAL

Garry was working weekends that decade, so whatever stuff happened on Sunday was part of his beat. This particular Sunday, the old catholic cathedral near our condo in Roxbury, was going to host Cardinal Bishop Bernard Law. It was a big deal for the neighborhood’s shrinking Catholic population.

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For a Prince of the Church to say Mass anywhere is an event, even if you aren’t Catholic. We lived one block from that lovely old cathedral. The neighborhood was buzzing.

It was a grand dame amongst local churches.You could see her former grandeur, though she was currently in desperate need of restoration and repairs to just about everything.

Roxbury was an almost entirely Black neighborhood. It had previously been a Jewish neighborhood which was red-lined by greedy real estate brigands. We had been among the first two or three middle class mixed-race couples to move back to Roxbury. We hoped we’d be the start of positive move for the neighborhood, including how it would be reported by media and perceived by Bostonians. We had chosen it less out of altruism and more because it was a great location. Convenient to everything with lots of green space, lovely neighbors, and compared to almost any other place in Boston, affordable.

It was not crime central. You could leave your car unlocked on the street and no one would touch it. I know because my neighbor tried desperately to have his cars stolen, going so far as to leave the keys in the ignition for weeks. Not a chance. People watched out for each other in Roxbury. I never had better neighbors, or felt safer.

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The morning on which Cardinal Law was due to visit, Garry called.

“I was telling Bernie (Cardinal Law) that you used to live in Israel and are really interested in religion and stuff.”

“Uh huh.”

“So he’ll be dropping by for a visit.”

“When?”

“I think he’s on the front steps. Yup, there he is. Gotta run. Love you. Have a great day.”

BING BONG said the doorbell.

I looked at me. At least I was dressed. The house was almost acceptable. Thanks for all the warning, Gar, I thought. Showtime!

And in swept His Grace, His Eminence, wearing his red skull-cap and clothed in a long, black wool cloak. Impressive.

Big Guy stretched. Our Somali cat — the best cat in the world and certainly the smartest, sweetest and gentlest — was our meeter and greeter.

Big Guy

Big Guy

I offered the Cardinal the best seat in the house, the blue velvet wing chair by the bay window. Big Guy promptly joined him. We chatted for almost an hour. Israel, the church, whether there was any hope St. Mary’s would get funds to repair and upgrade before it was too late.

The neighborhood. A bit of church politics. Although Bernard Cardinal Law was ultimately blamed for the long-standing and terribly wrong policy of the Church in hiding the misdeeds of child-molesting clerics, this was years before that story came to light.

The man I met was wonderfully intelligent, friendly, witty, and a pleasure to spend time around. Which was probably why Garry was so fond of him and considered him a friend.

When it was time for the Cardinal to depart, he stood up. Big Guy left his cozy spot on the warm lap of the region’s reigning Catholic cleric. And that was when I saw the Cardinal was coated in cat hair.

Oh! Exactly what does one say in this odd circumstance?

“Wait a minute, your Eminence. Let me get the pet hair sticky roller and see if I can get some of that hair off your long black cape?” I was pretty sure the cloak needed more oomph than a lint roller. It was going to need some cleaning power beyond my limited resources.

So I shut up. Wincing with foreknowledge, we parted company. As he and his retinue swept out my door, I pondered how life’s journey takes strange side roads, unexpected twists, and turns. This was one.

“Meow?” questioned Big Guy. Clearly he liked the Cardinal and it had been mutual. I believe Big Guy came away from the experience with some special, secret understanding of Truth. I, on the other hand, felt obliged to call my husband and warn him that Cardinal Law was dressed in more than he realized.

“Oops,” said Garry, master of understatement.

“Yup,” said I, equally downplaying the difficulties that would arise from the incident. I had wrangled with Big Guy’s fur. I knew how bad it would be.

Some weeks later, when Garry, in the course of work, again encountered the good Cardinal, he called my husband to the side for a private word. The other reporters were stunned! What scoop was Garry Armstrong getting? Rumors ran rampant. Armstrong was getting the goods and they were out in the cold. Mumble, mumble, grouse, complain, grr.

“Armstrong,” murmured the Cardinal.

“Yes sir?”

“You owe me. That was one gigantic dry cleaning bill!”

“Yes sir, Your Eminence,” Garry agreed. “Been there myself.”

“I bet you have!” said Bernard Cardinal Law. And the two men shook hands.

When the other reporters gathered round and wanted to know what private, inside information Garry had, he just smiled.

“I’ll never tell,” he said. “Never.”

But now … YOU know. The truth has finally come out.

URBAN MYTH?

Once upon a time, there was a company who had a great idea. Create a platform on which all kinds of people could come and do whatever they wanted. They could write, show off their photography or paintings, even show videos and play music.

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They created easy-to-use software and a congenial atmosphere. People flocked to them. They started sites. Talked about their lives, their memories, their hopes, dreams, art, ambitions. They connected with one another. Participated in collective events and formed friendships that circled the globe.

And everything was good.

One day, someone in a high tower in a far distant place said “We need to get with the real world.”

Many people were surprised because they thought they already were part of the real world, but he was the Big Boss, so they listened. He must be wise, because he was in power and we know that powerful people are wise, right?

tablets kindle iPad

He told his employees that small devices were the way of the future, that no one would use real computers — desktops or laptops. Indeed, several years before, many people believed — briefly — something along these lines. Everyone had long since backed off this belief — because it was obviously untrue.

Too many things — in business, art, even entertainment — needed a bigger, more powerful machine. Working people weren’t going to do spreadsheets on telephones or tablets. These things were convenient for checking email, but without room to work and a keyboard, no one was going to write their next novel on it, try to manage finances, or edit photographs.

Ghost Town by Apache Junction

But the Powers-That-Be didn’t want to hear this. They had a vision and were determined to make it true, at any cost. Moreover, they believed they had the power to force their customers march in lock step to their music. They hired a band and played marching music day and night.

Their customers blocked their ears and expressed their dismay, but the corporation couldn’t hear anyone over their own music.

Thus over a period of months and years, they changed everything. They took away the fun, the congeniality, and the software. They sucked the fun out of blogging. And then, people began to drift away.

There were some protests, some angry voices, but most people had been doing it because it was fun and it wasn’t fun any more. So they posted less. With each revision of the platform, more people gave up.

Not with a bang, but a whimper.

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There wasn’t any other platform to take its place. There ought to have been, if this were a happier fairy tale. No alternative universe existed into which they could go, so they just quit. They found other media. Maybe not as good as the old one was, before the corporate bosses ruined everything … but it was okay. People got used to it. At least no one was trying to make them do stuff they didn’t want to do.

empty chairs

Over a period of time, the big corporation noticed they didn’t have so many people using their platform. “No problem,” declared the Big Boss. “We’ll get businesses to take their place. They will pay us for our services.”

Businesses had their own IT departments and servers. They saw no reason to depend on someone else when they had their own resources. And the platform’s reputation for poor customer service while creating a user-hostile environment was all over the Internet. Everyone knew someone who’d been betrayed. No one wanted to risk their business. What if they were next on the corporate hit list?

“No thanks,” they said and moved elsewhere.

sad momProfits fell. First a trickle, and then a mighty waterfall. Customers abandoned the ship. Eventually, the corporation realized it was out of business. Like Wang. DEC. Grumman. IBM. GTE. They thought they were so big and so powerful, they could do whatever they wanted however they wanted.

They were wrong.


The End.


What a Twist! — Tell us a story — fiction or non-fiction — with a twist we can’t see coming.

A LITTLE RANT FOR A DAMP FRIDAY

Good morning! It’s a gray, miserable drippy day here in the heart of central New England. Where the rivers flow, the boneheads rule, and it’s always 1954.

sun and misty woods

The question has been asked if I live my life according to some kind of code. Do I have principles. Values.

On a Friday morning, this is a very large question. I am only in the middle of my first cup of coffee. Still, I am awake. I have already restored my computer from backup, re-installed my printer. Convinced the dogs to go out, even though it’s raining.

They do not like the rain. Poor babies.

Have you got a code you live by? What are the principles or set of values you actively apply in your life?

Speaking of boneheads, such are those who populate WordPress’s upper echelons. They run the company. With whips in hand they drive the corporate horses into a frenzied gallop towards the Cliff of Destruction. I guess they so admire Microsoft and their extraordinary success with Windows 8 they have decided to emulate them. Nothing exceeds like excess.

As such, they are fine ones to be asking me about my codes, values, principles. They should take a look at theirs.

But I digress. Forgive me. Sometimes my irritation overcomes my commonsense.

Of course I have a code. Values. Principles. Everybody does, whether or not they know it, whether or not they’ve given any thought to the matter.

Each time you make a decision affecting how you interact with other people, it is a mini-demonstration of your codes, values, and principles. When you tailgate other drivers, carelessly talk or text on while you drive, you are demonstrating your lack of concern for the welfare of others. You are here for you and no one else.

light snow falling picture window

When you show up late for a dinner and the host and other guests are thoroughly inconvenienced, you tell them by your actions what you think of them. If you force others to clean up you messes, it says what you believe. It doesn’t matter if you go to church and profess pious religious values. Who and what you are is what you do. You are how you treat other people, how you live your life. The rest? Blowing smoke up your own ass.

There are so many assholes in the world and they seem to be in charge of just about everything, from corporate boardrooms to customer service. So, in an effort to retain whatever sanity is left to me, I live life simply.

“Shut up, Marilyn” is my motto.

When I read the moronic rants of idiots on social media, do I answer them? No. I click the page away. When I’m standing in a grocery store line and hear conversation between morons, filled with appalling ignorance and misinformation, do I try to correct their wrong-headedness? Not a chance.

“Shut up, Marilyn,” I say to myself. “Just shut up and butt out.”

Age confers wisdom and that is what I have learned. They don’t want my opinion. No one cares if what they spout is true. Most people believe their opinion is as good anyone else’s, whether or not it’s based on anything.

So I shut up. It may not be the best or highest-minded course of inaction, but it works for me.

NON SEQUITUR AND TRIUMPH

After a long string of relatively aimless, free-range days, yesterday came with a mission. I needed sunglasses and was determined to end the day with a new pair.

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I lost my prescription sunglasses during the wild and crazy weeks of October 2014 during which we were on the road most of the time. I don’t know precisely when they vanished or where. If I knew that, I could find them. I would not need new ones.

Did they fall out of my bag? Had I — as I am wont to do — shoved them in the side panel of the car door and they fell out along the way? Perhaps at a gas station or a diner? It has happened before, but always I noticed and retrieved them.

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I’ve been ultra protective of those glasses. I have worn the same frame for close to 15 years. Flattering. Comfortable. Elegant. I felt like a movie star when I wore them and I was sure I looked 25 years younger. And glamorous.

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Losing them was a minor tragedy. I have been in denial, sure they were hiding from me, but would appear magically somewhere I never thought to look.

But the days came and went … and as the sun gets brighter, I knew I had lost them for good. Like losing a friend with whom you share many memories. They’d been with me at Disney World. Ridden the Cyclone and Apollo’s Chariot at Busch Gardens. Climbed hills in New Hampshire and Maine, and helped me take pictures up and down the east coast.

I swam with them in the azure waters off Haiti. They protected my eyes while I gazed, awe-struck, at the Grand Canyon. Now, they were gone. Mourning time was finished. I needed sunglasses.

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I couldn’t go back to Walmart because I’ve been banned … not by Walmart, but by the crook who runs the Vision department for having the temerity to report his crookery to Medicare for double … maybe triple … billing. Whistle blowers always take a hit, but this was not such a big hit.

I had to buy my glasses at Lenscrafters instead of Walmart. Some might consider it an upgrade.

Yesterday I discovered the gorgeous new Ray-Bans I ordered 12 days ago would never appear. My prescription was incompatible with the frames. Only slightly daunted, we hauled ourselves back the Lenscrafters in Auburn. Where I ordered new frames and lenses. I would only buy a frame for which the lenses could be made “in-house” because my patience for waiting while the glasses when out to a lab was all used up. I was feeling downright cranky about it.

I explained that I would end the day with sunglasses. No option B.

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Determination won the day and I have a lovely pair of Ralph Lauren frames. The lenses are not the pure gray I expected but have a hint of rose in them. I can tell by the sky, which looks so much bluer than it does with my eyes alone. Although I’m still grieving for those I lost, I will learn to love the ones I’m near.

In the course of this longest day in months, we found ourselves needing to fill a 4 hour intermission while Lenscrafters tinted and ground my lenses. Garry and I are not mall rats, but we had a list of errands, many of them long deferred — as in have been waiting to get done for years.

First, though, we took a long walk to the other end of the mall to by a couple of Annie’s Pretzels … the absolutely best pretzels anywhere.

As I limped along, I though about Pat at CHRONICLES OF AN ANGLO SWISS. Pat has been taking daily walks, trying to regain her lost mobility. It has been working for her and she looks terrific whereas I look like a proper marshmallow. Thus I pushed myself from one end of the mall to the other and I though of her as I trudged along.

We are very close in age, similar in other ways too. If she can do it, I can do it. I kept walking. Remarkably, I began to feel better by the end of the walk. Maybe it is time for my long-delayed rehabilitation.

We ate our pretzels in the big massage chairs in the middle of the mall. Then we hiked back to the watch kiosk and Garry had new batteries put in his two favorite watches, neither of which has worked in a couple of years. Ticktock. Garry’s watches are telling time. Another check in the win column.

Three more hours to fill. In our senior version of mall hopping, we drove to Millbury where we hit PetSmart for dog food (bravely buying a different flavor — let no one say we are not adventurous) and biscuits to feed the ever-hungry pack.

One more stop.Target.

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It’s spring. The dust and the dirt of winter somehow seems dustier and dirtier than it did in February. I need to clean. And it’s long overdue for buying new mops, dusters, and various cleansers. Two and a half hours left to go. We went home to drop off all the stuff. Garry was bushed. Me too, but I had a bug in my brain. I wanted those sunglasses, damn it.

I called Lenscrafters. Ready!! Garry reluctantly hauled himself to his feet and off we went. Again.

I have sunglasses!

Our to-do list is completed. Exhausted but triumphant, we had survived our longest day. I’m ready for you, world. I’m safe from sun and prepared for the upcoming (or so rumor has it) warm weather with plenty of sunshine!

(Afterwards, the ballerina called her husband on a cell phone and told him to meet her at the two-story McDonald’s in the middle of Shanghai to celebrate ...)


Daily Prompt: Third from the Top