Welcome to The Squeaky Pen

...where life is slow, and ripe with rural treasures

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Robin Williams

I'm a big I Love Lucy fan. I remember one episode, called Pioneer Women, where Lucy and Ethel are trying to become members of the The Society Matron's League. Without going into too much detail, the gang (Lucy, Ricky, Fred, and Ethel) get into some situation where they all decide to live like people did in the early 1900s. Antique clothes, baking bread, churning butter, and so on. Snooty representatives from The Society Matron's League show up at the apartment in a surprise visit to "check out" the potential new members. Heated conversation ensues after the Matron's League ladies observe the strange goings-on at the Ricardo home and make a comment about "theater people." At the end of the day, Lucy tells them to take their League and shove it, the ladies leave, and the kooky quartet is happy continuing to live a zany though content theater people life.
Theater people. There was a time when that phrase was common, and was a not-so-flattering description of those in the stage and movie business. It implied wacky, off balance, eccentric, and yes, a bit nuts. Then somewhere along the way -- certainly after 1952 when Lucy's Pioneer Women aired on televisions across America -- theater people became multi-millionaire idols, idols many today admire and try to emulate. They aren't sniffed at and called theater people anymore. They're called STARS.
I have friends (oddly reminiscent of the Society Matrons) who turn up their noses at any news related to celebrities. I guess they (these friends) think of themselves as too intellectually superior to wallow in the pish-posh of celebrity information. Okay, whatever. So I'm a dumb-head celebrity gazer. Guilty and proud of it. I like to read, I like to write, I like to sit and ponder my toenail, I watch birds, I listen to music, I dabble around on the Internet, and yes, I like the Housewives. I've never quite understood why some people have to make others feel less because of interests that drift into pop culture. Theater people -- stars -- certainly fall into the pop culture category. Again ... w h a t e v e r. To each her own and let me be.
Robin Williams was one of those pop culture, theater people guys. The first time I saw him was on Mork and Mindy. I remember thinking he was a nut. A wildly talented nut, but a nut nonetheless. I didn't know him, of course. Like everyone else, I knew him from TV and the movies. His routines and moods seemed to swing so much. Swwwing. Sometimes he was quiet and sincere and deep (as in Good Will Hunting), and sometimes he was utterly over the top (as in his comedy skits, or on talk shows). I saw him once in person, a million years ago when I was climbing aboard a cable car in San Francisco. He was standing on the street, just a regular fellow in jeans and a T-shirt hailing a cab. That was my one and only personal connection to the man. There he was, hand raised on a hilly street where Tony Bennett left his heart, flagging down a taxi. Then the cable car moved on and that was that.
A million years later, on August 11 of this year, a friend sent me a text with this message: "Robin Williams. Suicide."
Shit, I said out loud when I read the text. I couldn't quite believe it, wanted it to be one of those web hoaxes. I was with a gang of friends celebrating summer. Robin Williams killed himself, I told them. They said it too. Shit. We shook our heads. What a crying shame.
It's true, I didn't know Mr. Williams. But I did so admire his work, his theater people work. He made me laugh out loud a thousand times. He made me think and sigh in Good Will Hunting, and he made me mop tears in Awakenings. He made me a nervous wreck sometimes, so erratic was his behavior. I often wondered if he was a manic/depressive (ie, bipolar) because there were times he was so serene and focused, and others when he was just flat over the wall. Like two people in one body, one up, one down. The single thing I never wondered, though, was if he was sad. He was a complete stranger to me, and let's face it, he was theater people. And you know, as the Society Matrons said, they're all a little crazy.
I guess I never actually considered that he was just a human being. Living in his house somewhere, probably California. Sad. Tortured. Suffering, as one columnist put it last week, with Thought Cancer.
So one night he had enough of this life and hanged himself. Shit. And from my southern sensibilities, bless his heart.
To those who poo-poo the celebrity thing, and who in fact make nasty remarks like "he was so rich" and "he was so famous" and "what a jerk he was to waste all that:" let's try not to forget that Robin was just a person, like all of us and like all the other stars out there who eat and drink and sleep and laugh and suffer love and try their best to carve a living with whatever talents they have. He was a famous man, certainly, but in the shower or tossing a ball to his dog in the park or running his car through the Jiffy Wash or hailing a cab, he was just guy who had a particular gift that was to make people laugh, which he did well. Forget about People and Radar Online and all the other celebrity buzz outlets that titillate with photos and soundbites and that make my friends snarl about pop culture. Like it or not, this is our culture, one in which we feel we know people whom we don't, and in which we grieve for people who maybe deserve a little grieving over, even though they're strangers to us. After all, what's wrong with grieving for a stranger? Doesn't that make us human?
Mr. Williams put his pants on one leg at a time, just like you and me; but unlike you and me (hopefully) he was a person on this earth who was wounded by a chemical imbalance that finally led him to put a belt around his neck and say goodbye cruel world. I don't think there's anything wrong with weeping for that poor soul, famous or rich or pop culture or not.
So adios Society Matrons. Some of us like and appreciate theater people, and mourn them when they're gone.
Robin Williams brought great joy to the world, if not -- in the end -- to himself. Bless his heart indeed.


Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Kids These Days ...

Yesterday I was struck with hope for the generation of kids coming out of college. Yes, I've reached that age when I sit around grousing about "kids these days," how so many have a misplaced sense of entitlement, how they don't work as hard as I did when I was their age, how I had to ski to school on barrel slats while they're transported in comfy cars (well, I don't really say that last one, but my father used to). Most importantly, I sit around and wring my hands that these lazy bums will someday be running the country.

Then yesterday arrived and hope was renewed. Thirteen summer interns from GE-Unison in Norwich arrived at The Sherburne Inn and went to work. I'm talking went to work. After a quick orientation about the building and what we wanted them to accomplish -- and after thoughtful, genuinely curious questions from them -- these college kids rolled up their sleeves and got busy. There was no complaining even though the work was difficult and dirty. They hauled debris and heaved it into dumpsters. They hauled scrap wood and heaved that onto a trailer. They hauled ghastly heavy metal refuse and heaved that onto another trailer. They moved and stacked dozens of historic windows. They swept up broken glass and cleaned up garbage. One girl (bless her heart) donned gloves and shoveled out drenched and smelly vines and who knows what else from the downstairs bar door well. There was nary a complaint. In fact, at one point, the interns were singing as they toiled. Vince Yacono, maybe the hardest working man in Sherburne, commented that it seemed there were twice as many of them there, so quick and efficient were their efforts. SSIRP fed them lunch (donated by Nina's Italian Grill), and then got them moving again. At the end of the day, nine thousand pounds of debris (almost 5 tons) was removed from the building, the basement was cleaned out maybe for the first time in a decade, and they thanked us when they left.

I shook my head at the wonder of it.

Indeed, the students get community service hours for helping us yesterday. Yet there was a sense from each of them that the motivation was more than that. They appreciated what SSIRP is doing, not only our goal of reopening The Inn, but preserving the century-old building. They were so polite and ambitious. And so bright. Everything about them was bright, and by that I mean good brains and good vibes. These are kids who are going places.

I'm an optimistic person by nature, but in recent years my "hope springs eternal" button has been in the off position when it comes to kids these days. Save The Sherburne Inn Restoration Project owes GE-Unison and its fantastic interns a big thanks for what was accomplished at The Inn on Monday. On a personal note, though, I owe the students an even bigger thanks. They've renewed my hope that there are 20-somethings out there who get it, who have faith in change, and who really want to make a difference in the world. All I can say to these kids is Bravo! And best of luck on your journey. Not one of you may set foot in this community again, but know what you did yesterday will never be forgotten.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

At the End of a Long Goodbye

I lost someone recently. Someone close, with whom I spent not hours or weeks or months, but years. Fifty-some. Important childhood times, equally important adult times. We didn't always agree, and in fact there were months (and years) when we didn't speak at all. We would fight about silly things, things that seem really silly now that she's gone. She was not technically a friend, she was much more than that. She was a relative, a first cousin actually, who was like a sister to me. Even, dare I say it? a soul mate. There was a connection that neither of us could ever really understand. There were times as kids when I thought she threw the moon and flung the stars. I so admired her, wanted to be like her. She was funny and fun, smart and a smart-ass. Ultimately, she was troubled, something I knew and feared. I feared it because she was so complicated.

I am not particularly complicated. Yes, I'm a smart-ass. Sarcastic. Bitchy. But not complicated. I wake up every day and am happy about it. Happy to hear the birds, to see my dog's smiling face, glad to climb out of bed and see what the day will bring. She was not. She lived a tortured life, suffered from depression even as a young girl, and was profoundly depressed in recent years for reasons I won't go into here. Quite simply, life was not a happy place for her. Even in old times she did not wake up happy. In these last years, I imagine (because I don't know for sure) she woke up crying.

In the past two weeks I've relived those old old times, the really good stuff. On her family's farm, goofing around as kids do. She was so interesting and so delightful. We climbed trees and skated on frozen ponds. We wrote a little soap opera once and taped it on an old reel-to-reel. We played with trolls and created fantastic shoe box mansions. We scaled country hills and floated shards of wood in rivers and climbed trees where we sat as little girls will (or used to) and talked and talked and talked. There were paper dolls, and kittens, and calling cows. We played table football with matchboxes. Our families spent holidays together, though we were a bit like the Peanuts kids. Adults were quite tall out-of-touch beings with faraway voices. In our world, under card tables covered with blankets to make tents, we whispered and giggled and made plans for a future that would never be.

Our paths diverged as young adults, but happily (I think it was happy for us both) the paths came back together eventually. In most recent years we spent time around a card table instead of under one. It was always so good to see her because I wondered how long we would have. She was sad, as I mentioned, and I knew the clock was ticking. She knew it too. We all did.

On June 2 the end came. I had not spoken with her since last July, another hiatus in our long and inexplicable relationship. The last time I hugged her goodbye I sensed it might be the for-real last time, but 20/20 hindsight and all that, so who knows. She left through my kitchen door and I never spoke to or saw her again, although we did email once or twice after. I'm not completely sure why our contact ended. I hear she needed some distance from me. And that's okay.

When the call came that she was gone, I was shocked but not surprised. I didn't cry. I've been waiting for that call for 30 years and I guess the tears had long ago been cried for this news. I've certainly cried since the call, but not for her. She's finally where she wants to be. I've cried for myself, that I'll never see her lively brown eyes again, that I'll never hear her voice or smell her hair in a hug. As kids I got her hand-me-downs, and there was one green satin dress in particular that I loved so much, because it smelled like my cousin Judy.

I'm trying very hard to understand that she was not happy on this earth, and what that must have been like for her. She wanted to go on to the next place, whatever that is, and now she's there. I hope she knew how much I loved her. I hope she still knows. I hope she's found whatever she was looking for, and that now, finally, she's at peace. I'm strangely happy for her, an odd thing to say because we're supposed to be unhappy when someone dies. But she was so unhappy here. Her life was in darkness. Maybe now she's found some light.

And life goes on. So while I'm still upright and breathing, I've decided to tuck her away in a little quiet spot of my heart, where the beautiful spirit I remember so well can live on forever.

Friday, May 23, 2014

The Twisted Mind of Cat

I did a count the other day. In my house there are the following:
6 sofas
3 loveseats
8 upholstered chairs
5 beds
2 chaise lounges
3 rocking chairs
and a dozen or more regular old straight-backed table chairs
Not to mention three plushy store-bought pet beds and a bunch of comfortable rugs. Yet my cat, Lucy, chooses to sit and sleep in a broken box. A box, she in fact, broke herself by pawing and gnawing on the corners until one of the flaps came apart. I picked the box up one day, sick of my cat looking like a homeless thing living on the street, and tossed it on a chair with the intention of disposing of it later. In less than a half hour Lucy had wrangled the box to the floor again and was sleeping in it.
I once had a cat named Taylor who had about 37 toys, fuzzy mice and jingling balls and who knows what all. Yet his favorite plaything was a three-inch-long scrap of cloth that fell on the floor one day.

I read someplace that Americans spend more than 45 billion dollars a year on their pets. I don't know the breakdown, but I have to guess a good chunk of that money goes toward toys and beds. What are we thinking? I love my pets, I do, but sometimes I believe we've all gone a little nuts. They aren't humans even though we treat them like they are. They're animals, who before smirking up at us and slathering our faces with tongue kisses have eaten flies, chewed on deceased rodents, and licked their own butts. I'll never forget the day Harry the dog was dangerously quiet. I found him sitting in the cat box (not the cardboard one, but the one where the cats do their "business"). He looked like a tiny sailor heading out to sea in a disgusting boat, the "business" of the his feline sisters smeared all over his lips.

As for the Lucy-sitting-and-sleeping-in-a-cardboard-box dilemma, I've given up. It now resides in a corner of my home office, usually with the cat in it, a permanent part of my d├ęcor. Lucy seems to like it and who am I to argue? The plushy pet beds go unused, and I guess I should be happy cat hair that in other circumstances would be all over my furniture is now relegated to a non-plushy, non-soft, brown container that came in the mail with a book in it.

Friday, May 16, 2014


Twenty-two years ago today it was raining. I recall being on Route 17 in upstate New York, heading north in late morning. I was a passenger and my high school friend Jackie was in the driver's seat. I was crying. We both were.

Several hours earlier I'd gotten the phone call, one of many we all ultimately get and all of which we dread. The phone jangled horribly at 5 a.m. A ringing telephone at that hour is always horrible even when everybody's okay. In my case on that rainy day 22 years ago, everybody wasn't okay. My mother had died suddenly in the night. Stroke, or heart attack (or both); we never knew for sure. All we did know was that she'd been at her camp with friends and family, had come rushing out of her camper, banged on her brother's camper door, and died minutes later in her sister-in-law's arms. My mom, Iva, was 69 years old. This loving, friendly, caring woman who had tucked me into bed and brushed tangles out of my hair and bought my first pair of kindergarten shoes, who included a 20-dollar bill with each letter every month I was in college and with whom, as a grown-up, I sat at a kitchen table drinking coffee and eating donuts and laughing and learning about what's important in life, had simply vanished from the world in a matter of minutes. While I was asleep in my bed in New York City, my mama had slipped away.

My father, John, had died in 1980. By the time Iva left us to join him he'd already been gone 12 years. So there I was in 1992, riding along in the rain, without parents at the tender age of 36.

After getting the call, I don't remember much. My mind seemed altered, as though a protective sheath had been tossed over it. I pulled out a suitcase and packed a bra. Then another bra. "Well," I remember thinking. "I'll certainly be noticed at the funeral, the woman wearing two bras and nothing else." I finally managed to get some suits packed, and pondered this: "Good thing I went shopping recently, who knew I was buying a suit for my mother's funeral!" The thought was funny and tragic and wholly inappropriate. But then, what's appropriate when your mother has just died? The sheath got thicker, and for the next year my brain took a vacation.

Oh sure, I remember some things about the next 12 months, and certainly about the next week. I remember how many people flocked into the funeral home to say goodbye to Iva, I remember dearest of friends showing up unexpectedly, many in tears. I remember going back to Queens and changing my driving route so I would never have to think about crossing over the same bridges I did the day my mom died. I remember my lackluster work ethic in the months that followed, shrugging when called on it and saying, "Oh who cares." Then in April of the following year, while on a six-seat plane over of all unlikely places the Maasai Mara in Kenya, the brain sheath chose that moment to remove itself. My poor friend Liz, with whom I was on vacation, took the brunt of being with me when my mind returned. We still talk about it (although now we can laugh). Suffice to say hysteria doesn't begin to explain the situation of a grown woman cracking into ten pieces on a tiny plane where below there are hungry lions waiting.

It's hard to believe that more than two decades have passed since last I heard my mother's voice. Her hands always smelled vaguely of Clorox -- she was fond of bleaching things ... clothes, the sink, the tub, once even suggested I use Clorox to fix my hair when I accidentally died it black. I still see her fussing with flowers or hanging bird feeders. People loved her, especially family. I did not inherit that lucky trait, but I'm told by some that they see qualities of her in me. I could not be more proud of that. She was, truly, a dear person. Maybe one of the kindest souls ever to walk the planet.
It's raining where I am. In fact, we had a bit of a microburst here this morning. Huge trees have been uprooted on a roadway outside of town, property damaged. Another monumental thing happened on May 16, 2014: Barbara Walters, after a long and proud career that shattered the glass ceiling for women in broadcasting, has retired. It's been an interesting day for me, one of microbursts and retirement and rain and tears. Lots of tears. Not for the downed trees, nor for Ms. Walters. Today is the day I became an orphan 22 years ago.
I love you, Mama. I wish I could hear your voice one more time, wish we could have a donut at the kitchen table, wish I could tell you all my troubles and have you tuck me into bed and say it's all going to be all right. But I can't. That's how life goes, isn't it? I guess I should consider myself lucky that I had such a wonderful mother at all, for however brief a time. 
Wherever you are, Iva, I miss you so.  Every single day.


Sunday, May 11, 2014

"I'm Sorry ... I Have Color Guard Practice"

Last Thursday around 6 p.m. I was on the phone with someone, glanced at the clock, and said, "Oh sorry, I need to hang up. I have to go to color guard practice."
Now I'm fairly certain I haven't said those exact words in a very long time ... like, since I was 16. In fact, having said them Thursday I sort of felt like I was 16 again. Double-knotting the laces on my sneakers, grabbing my banner pole, and scooting out the door to get to Paddleford Park so I could line up with the other "girls" who are marching in Sherburne's Pageant of Bands on June 7.
When I got there Paddleford was teeming with people: squealing kids on the playground, folks milling around on the baseball field (small town life in full bloom on a beautiful spring evening), and a whole flock of females twirling rifles and flags who haven't been "girls" for more years than any of us care to count. I dropped into line with the other banners and we practiced our routine to the taped and tinny boom box sounds of Love Me Forever and Temptation. At first I was thinking, "I can't remember how to do this," even had a moment or two when I found myself out of step. Then, after about 15 minutes, it all came together. When we turned half-right and slammed our banners to the ground, it was in perfect unison. When we saluted the imaginary judges' stand, I could hear the crowds cheering in my head. I felt that chill, the zing up the arms of military discipline, the camaraderie of people who most of the year only bump into each other at the grocery store, but who every half decade come together to recreate, one more time, the thrill of that wonderful and beloved marching beast known as the Sherburne-Earlville Alumni Band and Color Guard. 
The guard -- rifles and banners both -- have practices planned for every Thursday at 6 p.m. from now until Pageant of Bands. Why? Because just like when we were teenagers, we want to look sharp. We want to be on point. We want (still) to be the best.
I've written about the alumni band many times. Ten years ago I wrote the following, which for me still captures the feeling of getting out and performing to the still incredible and well-known S-E street beat. I thought I'd share it again here, because I think it says it all.
Among Life's Blessings - Sherburne-Earlville Alumni Band
Originally published May 2004
Recently, I found myself counting my blessings.  I was on a plane on the way back to New York from a business trip in Madrid, where just a few weeks earlier terrorist attacks had turned that city upside down. Needless to say, it wasn't really on my top ten list of places to go, and I was glad to be coming home.
So I was counting my blessings because no terrorist had walked into my hotel with a bomb strapped to his chest and taken out the first six floors, and because another terrorist hadn't hijacked my airplane and drilled it into a high rise. The counting went on as the landing gear hit the runway, when I found myself saying "thanks for good health, good friends," and then, surprisingly, " . . . and thanks for getting me home safely so I can march one more time in the Pageant of Bands . . ." It's the truth. I actually thanked God for keeping me alive through this trip so I could get home to Sherburne and march.
Now this is pretty powerful stuff.  We're talking about returning to a pastime from 30 years ago.  Don't misunderstand, though . . . it isn't reliving band and color guard that I'm looking forward to, it's revisiting it, a subtle yet important difference. Some people turn away from the alumni band with the explanation "I have no interest in reliving high school." Believe me, neither do I. High school was fine, I'm glad I did it, and when I graduated I was extremely glad it was over. This isn't "Oh, wasn't the football game of '71 the best time of your life" kind of thinking. It's more about once having had something wonderful, like your first kiss, and wanting to experience it again; or maybe a better example is the feeling you get from certain scents . . . your grandfather's pipe tobacco, Lilies of the Valley in your back yard, your baby's first blanket . . . something that brings you back to a time when life was simple and your biggest worry was can I hit that note on the trumpet and not is somebody going to walk onto this airplane and blow it out of the sky.
I've written, with difficulty, about this feeling before, this alumni band "thing." It's a sensation that usually gels for me when I think about things people have said or done, both while we were marching as kids and since we've "revisited" it as adults. I remember the look on Sharon Monahan's face at the state fair in the early 1970s when the band and color guard took first place. From her vantage point she could see how straight the ranks were, and she was just beaming because she knew we were going to win. There were late night trips back from competitions when parents all over town stood on their front steps as the busses went by, cheering. There was Katie Hoefler, who said, after hearing us practice for the first alumni reunion, "We have our band back again!" and there is always the chill up the spine when hearing Jeff Funnell's street beat. There was Roy Balma and the Frank Millers and the Plonus girls and hours of time spent making us the best we could be. And there was and is Temptation, our signature song that every person who plays solo trumpet is wearied by and still the one that brings a lump to everybody's throat when they hear it.
But it was something I overheard Laura Keefe Fagan say that really struck me: at one of the early band reunions, she told someone she couldn't stay out late the Friday night before the pageant because she "had a performance the next day."  Laura, you hit it right on the head.  No matter what, we in the Sherburne-Earlville band and color guard always gave one hundred and ten percent. We always performed, whether as students, in an alumni setting, or otherwise, like we were competing. Mark Perrin remembers seeing an article in a high school marching band magazine in the mid-1970s that ranked the S-E band among the top ten in the country. In the country. Pretty impressive for such a small school, but then we were a willful bunch and weren't about to let anybody down -- the instructors, the parents, the audience, and least of all ourselves. The pride we felt, the sense of accomplishment, and (my apologies for saying this) the well-deserved arrogance at being that good, all of this combined to create an atmosphere, an aura, that's almost impossible to articulate. Those of us who keep coming back know what I'm talking about. It's like the first whiff of spring: you don't have to say anything, you just have to close your eyes and breathe it in.
No one really knows how many more times -- if any -- the alumni band and color guard will march.  We all have busy lives, and many of us are gone -- of those I named here, Sharon Monahan, Roy Balma, Jeff Funnell, and the "old" Frank Miller. Our ranks ever shrink and, let's face it, the alumni band's days are numbered. I don't know how many people have signed up to march this year, I hope many. But either way I'll be there, with my little banner, breathing it all in. I'll stand on Main Street when we face the judges' stand, listening to the band play Love Me Forever and Temptation one more time -- maybe for the last time -- and I'll think about Roy and Sharon and Jeff and Old Frank. I'll be there for them, and I'll think of them as I count my blessings . . . thanks for a good life, thanks for good health, thanks for keeping me from getting blown up by a terrorist, and thanks for giving me one more chance to come back to experience this band, and that indescribable sensation of home.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Love in the New Century

I remember love. There was that little thrill, an extra heartbeat, when the object of my affection entered the room. There was the boy with whom I spent a magical summer evening watching a meteor shower, the man who held my hand in a candlelit restaurant, the others who murmured with sweet affection over the decades of my life. At times there was twinkling jewelry wrapped in pretty paper; at other times, twinkling eyes. Ah, it was lovely, all those fellas who captured my heart.
But that was then. The world has moved on. Now the object of my love is ENVY. To be more exact, an HP Envy, an intel Pentium all-in-one with 20" diagonal touch screen, built-in Wi-Fi and video chat. I have a new computer.
I am not a techie by any means, not a woman who frequently upgrades her mechanical belongings. I drive a car until the tires fall off. I had a flip phone long after their coolness cooled. The BlackBerry I now use is battered and scratched and tends to reboot itself unsolicited. Just lately it refuses to send mail. When it came to my computer, my aversion to upgrading was never more true. The one on which I'd been working for years (and I do mean years) had been laboring in recent months. Well, truthfully, it had been laboring for much longer than that. I can't really say when I got it, but I'm thinking maybe Johnny Carson was still on The Tonight Show. I'd upgraded the screen, but the plastic box that contained in its humming rattling innards every important work and personal document I've ever laid hand to served me well for awhile, but in recent memory was, as I liked to put it to my computer friends, "acting up." Response was ghastly slow. Powering up took a solid fifteen minutes, causing me to leave it on most of the time so I wouldn't have to slog through the boot-up process every morning. Some programs refused to operate efficiently, and others refused to operate at all ... Facebook for one. Every time I tried to open Facebook on my desktop the computer froze, forcing me to shut down. Doing so was always harrowing as I never knew for sure if the computer would start up again.
This is the height of foolishness, I realize, in that every bit of work I do is on the computer. But I persisted. I was determined to make this car run even if ALL the tires came off!
On Monday of last week, my computer had finally had enough. In one last gasp of glowing tribute to many tortuous years of hard labor, my PC signed off for the last time. There was no flash of light, no automated goodbye (indeed, the speakers had blinked out long ago); it simply shut itself off with a tiny click and we were done. I had spent so many long hours tapping away on its keyboard and looking into the face of the beast that I myself -- my very brain -- became frozen, as my computer's brain had so many times before. All of those files! All of those photos! Poof! Gone! And not even with a puff of smoke.  
My first frantic act was to call the local computer guy, who said he could scan the hard drive and retrieve my files. The second was to jump into the car and speed to the store. In less than an hour I was considerably poorer but oh-so-much happier. Like being on that exhilarating first date, I sat staring at my new beloved. Plugged it in, touched the on button, and voila! I'm in another world, one where programs don't freeze and I have sound. Bliss! Skipping heartbeat!
Then, quite by surprise and on fleet feet, came the oft-tricky second date. I realized I was out of my league, that my new beau had brains far beyond my former one (and quite frankly what felt far beyond my ability to comprehend). I couldn't open a file folder, couldn't find the start menu, was baffled by the location of my browser. It was as though I'd just arrived from Planet of the Apes and was being told I was solely responsible for the operations of NORAD. Fiddling around with one of the icons, I was aghast when I suddenly saw myself, wild-eyed and pale, on the computer screen. I've since affixed a post-it note to cover the camera lens, the finding of which required waving of hands and other awkward gesticulations. Camera?? There's a camera?? The last view I need on any given morning is my pinprick eyes under uncombed hair staring back at me from a 20" screen. I will never figure this out, I thought. I wanted to scream, I wanted to cry, I wanted my old boyfriend back! He was trouble, yes ... he didn't work well, and he was cranky ... but I knew how to handle him!
Then, as in all relationships of love, the frustration of newness and all the unknowns began to fade. I could feel us settling in, my new computer and I. We started to figure things out and flow in the same direction, like synchronized swimmers. I'm understanding its beeps and dings and don't flinch every time a voice advises it's time to upgrade my printer drivers. The keyboard has become familiar. File folders are being set up in preparation for my documents' return. We're speeding along now and I find myself, at last, immersed in technology of the new century. My computer is no longer as comfortable (and worn out) as an old shoe. And that's okay, as is the fact that there's no twinkling candlelight nor meteors streaking the sky.

I guess it doesn't matter where we find love these days as long as we find it somewhere. I have found it in my new ENVY Pentium intel all-in-one computer. Life is good.

About Me

Newspaper columnist; blogger; author of Delta Dead; author of 101 Tip$ From My Depression-Era Parents; author of Australian Fly; editor: "A History of the Lawrence S. Donaldson Residence"; "The Port Washington Yacht Club: A Centennial Perspective"; "The Northeastern Society of Periodontists: The First Fifty Years"; editor: NESP Bulletin; editor: PWYC Mainsail; past editorial director: The International Journal of Fertility & Women's Medicine; past editor of: Long Island Power & Sail, Respiratory Review; Medical Travelers' Advisory; School Nurse News; Clear Images; Periodontal Clinical Investigations; Community Nurse Forum