I was a newbie newsie at ABC News. The kid reporter among guys who’d worked for Ed Murrow and shared tall tales about Mayor LaGuardia, Governor “Beau Jimmy” Walker, Tammany Hall grifters, speakeasies, Jazz and an era that had gone with the wind before I arrived.
I was plopped in the middle of middle and old-age, usually White guys who took no notice of my skin color unless they were talking about Joe Louis, Lena Horne, or Jackie Robinson. The jibes were about individuals — not marked by race, sexual preference or religion.
Sometimes they laughed about “pretty boys” but that usually was about fellas who were light on work effort and heavy on looking good on camera.
The bartender and owner who was usually an Irishman. He ran the local numbers game and was an off-the-books source of loans if you were short. He usually broke up the noise if the conversation bordered on trouble.
He nodded at me. It was an inference: “Hey, watch it. The kid is here.” Not sure if I appreciated being a greenhorn among the grizzled guys. Lots of famous faces came in, usually tired, looking for a little respite and no hassles.
I absorbed the stories which, years later, became woven into my own tales. Funny thing, most of the chatter, although fueled by booze, was intelligent, sharp, witty and observant of the times.
A decade later, I was in the world of Boston bars. I became a familiar face, popping up on the tube pretty much every day. Chasing bad weather and bad hombres. The conversations were animated — VERY animated if they concerned the Red Sox “Curse of the Bambino”, and another pennant lost to those damn Yankees. There were rumors about lobbyists greasing the pockets of certain pols, queries about the availability of “Tommy, The Torch” and his crew
Whispers about “Whitey” and the latest bloodbath in territorial “hits.” Now, I knew who was who and played dumb when asked for the inside stuff. There was always a fresh drink to maybe loosen my tongue. No, there was never enough booze for that.
There were the lawyers in their rumpled suits, complaining about Judges they swore were in the pockets of people who went unnamed.
There was a bar near Fenway Park which gave me the greatest joy. Baseball players, sportswriters and sports wannabees came and went leaving us with a goldmine of baseball info. Once I was “in.” I was “golden.”
I loved kicking back the rounds, swapping stories with no fear of insulting anyone. Pesky “pilgrims” were quickly shown the door before they became the source of brawls. Many “tips” were turned into legit stories which solidified my notion that I was working.
It was a bar where religious leaders could bend elbows with wiseguys and, sometimes, you couldn’t tell who was who.
Without getting all Leroy Jethro Gibbs here … is there any other way to make a decision when you have no hard facts with which to work? It sounds right, doesn’t it?
Except when Gibbs does it, the entire agency agrees. When I do it, no one ever agrees.
If you’re a mother and you know your kid is “off,” you take him or her to the doctor. You don’t wait until the strep throat or whatever it shows up with full symptoms. The doctor promptly tells you he can’t see any problem. You go home. The kid is a mess the next day.
Let’s hear it for instinct!
You hear a noise in your car’s engine. A funny little squeaky noise which comes and goes. Do you wait for the serpentine belt to snap or take it to a mechanic? You take it in. They look. They shrug.A few days later, the transmission falls out. Instinct! Gotta love it.The meteorologists on the television are predicting a few inches of snow, but your bones are screaming “it’s a big one on the way.”
Do you ignore your instinct and believe the guy on TV? Or lay in some supplies, fill the car with gasoline, and bring the candles out … just in case. I mean, what the hell. A few extra items in the house won’t hurt, right?If I have data to work with (better yet, if I had Data to work with), I’ll work with it or him. But through most of real life, we have no facts. We have instinct, experience, “gut feelings.” Plus, we have a sort of prescience that comes with years of making judgment calls, dealing with emergencies … a kind of “know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em” sort of thing.
Unfortunately, the doctors, mechanics, bosses, friends, colleagues et al? They don’t share that with uw. They merely think we are a bit strange. Remarkably, no matter how many times we are proved right? They still won’t believe us.
The next time you just know what’s going to happen? Everyone will completely ignore you. Totally.
So, when you get that deep, gut feeling, the one which tells you a catastrophe is on the way? Run around. Tell everyone. They will ignore you. BUT later — you can enjoy the rare opportunity to tell everyone: “SEE? I TOLD YOU SO!” and they will say, “Yeah, yeah. Right. Uh huh.”Most major decisions in my life have been gut decisions and they usually turned out better than the “rational” ones based on whatever evidence I had. Instinct on the hoof.
I think it’s how we contact the basic, hard-wired knowledge in our brains.
You think you are safe. secure. In your warm an cozy bed for the night. When you left to go to bed, the dogs were snoring — a good sign. I slide quickly into sleep and don’t wake up until my shoulder falls out of the socket.
I go to the bathroom, find the lidocaine pain patches, remember (this time) to tie my hair back so I don’t glue my hair to my shoulder — which isn’t good for either my hair or my shoulder.
I brush my teeth on the theory that the brush is here, my teeth are here, so why not? I’m 9-months overdue for my six-month checkup, so brushing is a good idea any time of the day or night.
Back at the bed, I rearrange the pillows, raise the bed a bit up top, lower it on the bottom, realize I have to sleep on my back and crawl in so I have my right arm lying on the pillow. Some readjustments are required to get the angle right. I’m just hoping the lidocaine patch kicks in.
I drift off to sleep when suddenly … IT’S DUKE, BONNIE, AND GIBBS. They have pushed in the door All three of them have broken into the bedroom and Duke (the only one with long legs) has leapt onto the bed and is joyously bounding around, licking Garry’s face.
He’s so happy to see us. It’s a reunion! I mean, we’ve been gone for hours and light is peaking over the horizon.
“Get up, get up, the day has begun.” Translation: “BARK, BARK, BARK … BARK, BARK, BARK … ”
Don’t think Bonnie and Gibbs aren’t being helpful. They can’t jump on the bed, but they can bark and Bonnie enjoys barking. It’s her hobby. Her metier, so to speak.
Garry garbles “WHAT THE F##$!” which only gets the Duke even more excited.
“Well,” I comment, “This is a new one.” Until this moment, I was sure the doors would hold. Garry grumbles, using language that would make a sailor blush but which doesn’t bother the dogs at all. He shoos the dogs out of the bedroom and takes them to the kitchen where he does the thing that helps. He feeds them.
Diet? You’re kidding, right?
He stumbles back to bed just as I have finally found a position on the pillow that doesn’t hurt nearly as much and probably the lidocaine patch is beginning to do its job. Garry is instantly back in dreamland, his soft snoring witness to it. He can’t hear a thing because all his hearing machinery is stashed for the night.
I can hear. He has silence. I have barking dogs.
“Bark, bark, bark.” That’s Bonnie. I know who it is because they have different voices.
Bonnie has the deepest bark. She’s a solid bass. Small, with considerable power. Gibbs is more of a deep tenor or maybe a light baritone. But The Duke is a high soprano. When he barks, glasses break. Your brain begins a rhythmic vibrato inside your skull.
She stops barking. I listen for a while. When I don’t hear her, I figure (hope, really) that she has decided it’s nap time. I drift back to sleep.
“BARK, BARK, BARK.”
That’s got to be Gibbs. He isn’t the deepest barker, but he is definitely the loudest. He also has a little howl he adds at the end of his barking. It’s sort of his verbal signature.
The Duke, inspired by this, adds a few trilling barks of his own.
Then they are quiet. Again. I don’t trust them, but I am so tired. I fall asleep.
BARK BARK BARK BARK HOWL BARK BARK BARK and the sound of paws and the loud clicking of doggy toenails on the fake wood floor in the hall.
I wake. I listen. I wonder if there’s any point in taking something to help me sleep. Because even if I take something, I can still hear the dogs. I throw an evil glance at Garry who can’t hear anything. He is happy in his silent place.
Finally, I get up, give them another biscuit and explain, in my most dulcet tones, that if they begin to bark again, I will get up and kill them. They grin with joy and dance around me in a circle. Okay, one more treat.
They are so glad I’m up.
I wonder if there’s any point in trying to sleep. My back hurts. My arm is throbbing — and I’m exhausted. I used to be able to stay up late and sleep quickly, but I’m too old for long days with short nights.
I need to get a full night’s sleep.
I go back to bed and drift restlessly for some hours. Eventually, they recommence their barking. Now it’s full daylight. We are SUPPOSED TO BE AWAKE. It’s our job. I wake Garry because he doesn’t get to sleep in while I suffer.
We got up, this time for the day.
After they get their next treat (how many? I have lost count and they don’t count), they sigh with pleasure and go soundly to sleep on the sofa.
What social stigma does society need to get over already?
The list is too long. It’s sad, too. Because I thought, way back when, that we had actually gotten over some of it. I thought that if we hadn’t lost our racism, we had at least gotten past calling each other names. I thought we’d finally learned after Mussolini and Hitler and all the others throughout history, that we knew dictators are a bad deal. That all the organization they bring to the world, they are cruel, evil, and no good ever comes from them.
But somehow, between the episodes of horror, we forget. We lose our memories of evil. We idolize the power and forget the monstrous nature of the beast.
What was the last photo you took?
Yesterday, I took some pictures of a bunch of Brown-headed Cowbirds sitting on the railing of my deck.
These ARE blackbirds!
Otherwise, I’m trying to figure out how the last squirrel managed to unhook the entire feeder and drop it to the ground below. I have to hand it to the maker of this feeder that it survived as if nothing happened, even though it fell two stories.
When was the last time you snooped and found something or found out something you wish you hadn’t?
The last time I read Tarot cards. I saw that the man I was reading for was going to die. And he did.
What’s the most comfortable bed or chair you’ve ever slept in?
The bed we own with its original mattress was the world’s MOST comfortable bed. Now, with a new, not as expensive mattress it’s very comfortable, but not like it was with its original mattress.
But that mattress lasted 15 years, so it didn’t owe me anything. I only wish I could have afforded another real natural latex mattress. Sadly, it was out of our price range.
They make a perfect pie crust and the filling is great, too. They build and refinish their furniture. They tune the car and rewire the basement on Saturday afternoon and still have time to make dinner for company.
You love them, with just a hint of hate because they can do it all and you can barely drag yourself out of bed, brush your hair, and have coffee before mid-afternoon.
They do a little painting, a bit of carving. Frame their own pictures. Repair anything that breaks. They are never worried about anything because they know exactly what to do.
These are the woman who breezily raises two children after dad leaves while working full-time and never do they seem overwhelmed or even tired. The men build corporations, sell them, build another one — and don’t know why you can’t do the same.
It’s so easy.
They throw great dinner parties and the food is delicious. The dishes match or are charmingly casual yet coördinated to look casual in a fashion magazine sort of way. But you know they are supposed to look that way and no matter how hard you try, your version of “casual” just looks … well … casual.
Because that look takes work and an “eye.” It’s an art form.
When you ask about that wonderful pie crust, they say “Oh, it’s nothing. Just a bit of butter and flour. A bit of sugar. Cut everything up with a couple of butter knives, roll it out, and there you are.” If you are lucky, you get a demonstration and it does look easy.
You go home, get all the ingredients together and give it a try. Which results in an unusable lump of muck which ultimately, you toss in the trash.
After which you buy a pie crust or better yet, buy the whole pie. Because it isn’t so easy. Not for you, anyway.
Modest, humble people who do brilliant stuff about which they are completely offhand. They seem baffled why you would think any of it is a big deal. Apparently, it isn’t. To them.
To you, it would be a minor miracle if you could accomplish one little piece of it. Yet they will always say “But it’s so easy. Anyone could do it.”
Don’t people realize that you have to use twice as much one-ply as two-ply so you end up not saving any money? And that’s not taking the comfort factor into consideration.
2. OVER OR UNDER
On the subject of toilet paper, it’s OVER people! The patent application for the toilet paper holder shows the roll going over, not under.
3. WEATHER CHANGES
I’ve been checking the weather regularly and we’ve had an unseasonably warm spell. The one day I forget to check, the temperature dips 25 degrees and I freeze my buns off in my unsuitably light clothes!
Some days I wake up thinking about the cinnamon sugar croissant at my local bakery. It’s amazing! It’s one of the few things that can make me break my perpetual diet (I’m on Prednisone and gained ten pounds last year). I look forward to this sugary treat all the way to the store – and they’re out! I can taste the disappointment and it’s nothing like my beloved croissant.
SLEEPLESS AT DAWN
My dogs wake me around 6 AM to feed them. I stagger downstairs and go through their morning routine in a sleepy haze. I stumble back to bed and fall right back to sleep. Except when I don’t. There are days when, for some reason, I wake up completely somewhere between the bedroom and the kitchen. I am suddenly full of energy. This is a problem because I go to bed around 1 AM and I need more than five hours sleep to get through the day. So I lie awake thinking of things that agitate or depress me and just exacerbate the situation. Finally I’ll fall back to sleep, but that sleepless hour or two is SO annoying! Chronic insomnia must be unbearable.
I’ve put a reminder on my phone that’s set to go off the same time every day to make sure I don’t forget to take my medicines in the morning. (I never seem to forget at night). I don’t forget often anymore, so I’ve gotten used to turning off the reminder each day after I’ve taken my meds. But now I’m so used to turning off the reminder, that I turned it off automatically the other day even when I hadn’t taken my meds.
I forgot to take my pills but I turned off the reminder anyway. On Autopilot. Something is wrong with this system – or is it just me?
LAZY GUARD DOG
One of my dogs, Lexi, is my self-assigned protector. She sounds the alarm with loud barking whenever she sees or hears something outside of her definition of ‘ordinary’. Unfortunately, she’s also lazy. So when she’s on the bed with me and hears something ‘suspicious’ downstairs, she doesn’t go down to investigate or scare off the intruders. Instead, she leaps up and proceeds to scream in her high volume, piercing bark, directly into my ear!
If I go prematurely deaf, it won’t be due to the loud rock and roll of my youth – it will be all Lexi’s fault!
I don’t do awards. Except occasionally, I find the questions intriguing and decide to throw my hat in the ring. Except I’m not nominating anyone because so many people I know really dislike getting nominated, I’m just not going to stick my foot into the trap again. I still have scars from the last attempt.
Martha wrote some really good questions that are worth answering, so that’s what I’m doing. Anyone interested should definitely go to Martha’s post, copy the original questions, and take it away!
Here are YOUR questions
1. What made you decide to write a blog on WordPress?
What made me decide to write a blog was that I’d been following a couple on WordPress and I had to sign up with them just to have a conversation. Of course, this automatically gave me a blogging space. I didn’t really think very hard about blogging because I had never wanted to do it … but I had some space. And I had a few thousand photographs that no one ever saw because they were on my hard drives and would never get printed.
I didn’t actually think about the writing part of the exercise at all. I just figured I’d post pretty pictures. Technically, I started in February of 2012, but really, I didn’t write or post anything until May and that was one single post. The next month, I posted maybe half a dozen times.
Then something happened. I realized blogging was exactly like writing letters and I used to be one of the world’s great letter writers. Between editing material about air pollution, the spread of Hepatitis B in Israel, and reusing water for crops and raising carp, I wrote letters. Mostly I wrote to Garry who had a full drawer of my letters when I got back from Israel.
I should have saved them, but when we were moving, I dumped everything we didn’t absolutely need. I later regretted it but gone is gone.
So I started writing letters on my blog. Various subjects. Political. Funny. An occasional book or movie review. Opinions on this and that and sometimes, bits of fiction. And I posted pictures with the stories, so I sort of got to do both things, which was good. My best hobby combined with what was left of my profession.
I had already landed there. I had signed up when I started following other bloggers and it was free, so why not? I didn’t get serious about it for a few months, but it was an explosive time on the web. It was right in the middle of Obama’s second run for office and everything online was hopping and crazy. There also weren’t nearly as many bloggers then as there are now. I picked up a lot of followers pretty quickly.
After a while, Garry started writing pieces when he felt like it. And Rich started contributing and eventually, Tom and Ellin pitched in.
As it turns out, WordPress is pretty much the only game in town right now. Blogger (Google) has just as many problems and lacks the easy communications you get with WordPress. I originally thought I’d go find another place to do this again, but I have realized that I don’t want to do it again. Once was interesting and fun. Another would be work.
2. You’re writing a blog post and you find it taking on a direction of its own. Do you assume control or do you follow it?
Most of my pieces take on a life of their own and I follow faithfully. I’m often surprised where my posts end up, too. Sometimes, all I have is one good line and the rest just falls into place.
It’s getting the typos out that really kills me. I’m such an awful proofreader.
3. What are your goals as the writer of a blog? What do you hope for?
I really never had any goals. I write anyway, whether I have a blog or I’m just writing. I have always written, even when I had no one to read it. I might as well blog because at least a few people do read it. Also, it has really improved my writing.
Having no goals to begin with, I have none now. I like to write and I love the friends I’ve made online. They matter to me more than I imagined possible.
4. Describe the best day you’ve had in the past twelve months.
Yesterday when the birds stayed put and I got some great shots. The best day before that was the day we went to the movies.
Before that, the day they installed the new shower.
I think every day I wake up still breathing is a GREAT day.
5. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Why? What experiences would you hope for?
I’d like to go to England and see Sue Vincent and the great, ancient stones. I’d like to go to Switzerland and have tea with Pat and Australia and New Zealand and Utah and drive through the Rocky Mountains.
I don’t think we are really going anywhere except down to the river, but Paris would also be very lovely. Because it is Paris.
6. What was the worst road trip of your life? What happened?
Any trip I took with my parents as a child. They were ALL nightmares.
7. How much time do you put into your blog? Do you write every day?
I write every day. Even when I have decided NOT to write, I can’t help myself. That seems to be what I do.
8. Do you write to a daily prompt? Why or why not?
Sometimes if I can think of something to go with them. But I often have my own ideas of what I want to write and when I do, I don’t bother with a prompt.
I do use a lot of photo prompts. They help me find uses for many of my archived pictures.
I think I’ve rewritten is half a dozen times at least and I’m sure I will again. It brings back happy days when everyone was young.
10. Is there a book, film or person (or animal) that inspired you and changed your life? What or who was it? How did it have such a profound effect on you?
Angeliqueby Anne Golan.
11. What advice do you have for someone who has just started writing a blog? What rewards has it given you that might inspire someone else?
If you enjoy it and if you are having fun, don’t give up. Everyone starts slowly. A blog needs time to find its place in the online world.
I really don’t have any questions to add. There have been so many question-asking blogs this year, I feel like I’m questioned and answered out. I do apologize. I think since Martha put so much thought into HER questions, you should definitely use hers!
To participate in the Ragtag Daily Prompt, create a Pingback to your post, or copy and paste the link to your post into the comments. And while you’re there, why not check out some of the other posts too!