Things that bug me – Part 2

How are things on your endFull disclosure: I don’t have an iPhone, I don’t text, and the only reason I have a cell phone at all is for emergency use. I leave it in my car and turn it on when I go out so that my Mom can reach me in an emergency or a friend I’m meeting can let me know if they’re delayed or I can call AAA or 911. That’s it!

I’m fascinated by all the people who are walking around talking or texting on their cell phones. What on earth are they talking about? It’s almost as if people can’t be alone with their own thoughts for more than a minute. Young people used to be the biggest culprits but now it seems like people of all ages are addicted to their cell phones. I don’t use the word addiction lightly but, I can’t think of another way to describe this phenomenon. I fully recognize the advantages of technology and of being able to easily connect with people but, as with anything, we have to be the ones who are in control. Fire is a wonderful thing but, it can also burn the house down.

I don’t care if people want to talk or text incessantly (as long as they’re not behind the wheel or not paying attention to where they’re walking). I think it’s weird but, it’s none of my business and it doesn’t affect me personally. It does affect me personally when it interferes with my enjoyment of a meal or a visit with a friend. I am annoyed when the conversation is continually interrupted by the text message signal or ringing of my companion’s phone – I especially hate it when I sit down with someone and they place their phone right on the table like an uninvited third-party. I am offended when my companion’s eyes dart to their phone whenever they receive a text. Not only is the phone an uninvited third party, but what it has to say is apparently more interesting than the conversation we are having! Call me overly sensitive but, I find that to be rude and insulting. When I meet someone for a meal or I’m engaged in a social interaction of any type, I will give my full attention to the person I’m with and I want the same in return. I’ve even seen couples, who appear to be on a date, so focused on their cell phones that they hardly speak to each other! My feeling is, unless you’re a professional who has to be on call, your children are with a sitter, someone in your immediate family is in the hospital or you’re expecting a very important call – you don’t need to answer the damn phone! Put it on vibrate (better yet, silence it) and leave it in your purse or pocket. Enjoy your meal and pay attention to the person who has taken the time out of their life to sit down and break bread with you.

Granted, I admit that I have almost a feeling of sanctity about sharing a meal with someone. It could be because when I was growing up meal time was family time – we didn’t have the TV on and we didn’t read at the table. We talked to each other. We paid attention to the food we were eating, which, in turn, showed respect to the person who prepared or provided it. I brought my son up the same way. As a busy single working mother mealtimes were often the only chance I had to give him my full attention. We didn’t have cell phones back then but, if the house phone rang I said “Let the machine get it”.

Maybe it doesn’t bother you if your companion is constantly responding to their phone, maybe the people in your life don’t mind if your call or text is more important than the conversation you’re having with them. Maybe you’re fine with your kids having their phones on the table during meals. In that case feel free to blow off everything I’ve said here and call me an antiquated curmudgeon. On the other hand, if anything I’ve said rings even the faintest bell with you (no pun intended), then it might be time to reexamine your phone habits. There are many articles online about studies regarding the negative effects of cell phone use on personal interactions and society at large. Consider trying to be more present in the moment and not allowing the digital world to define every aspect of your life. Focus your attention on whoever you are with. And while you’re at it, make sure that you have some quiet time every day. Listen to your thoughts.  Go for a walk – you can take your phone for emergencies but silence it – and listen to the birds, pay attention to your surroundings, greet people you pass along the way.

You learn a lot about someone when you share a meal together.  ~Anthony Bourdain


Liberty always gives her undivided attention when food is involved!

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September 11, 2001

Don't be afraid of storms_edited-1Like most of you, I will always remember certain historical events that have occurred during my life. Some of them I can even remember exactly where I was and how I felt at the time. I was in my 8th grade gym class, sitting on the floor during a break, when the announcement that our president had been shot in Dallas came over the PA system. He was buried on my 13th birthday and I spent the day watching his funeral on TV with my family. In April of my senior year in high school Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in Memphis. I don’t remember where I was when I heard the news, but I do remember the shock we all felt about it. In June of that same year, while we were busy preparing for final exams and graduation, Robert F. Kennedy was assassinated in Los Angeles. In July of 1969, while on my first “grown-up” vacation at the Jersey shore with a friend, we watched the Apollo 11 moon landing and the amazing sight of Neil Armstrong actually walking on the moon.

15 years ago, on the morning of September 11, 2001, I was sitting in the conference room of our county Emergency Operations Center waiting for the start of the weekly department directors meeting. As always, one of the wall mounted TVs was tuned to CNN with the sound muted. I remember chatting with a couple of people when someone suddenly pointed toward the TV and said “Look at that!!” and we all turned to see what had caught his attention. It was a plane crashing into one of the World Trade Center towers, which I soon learned was the North Tower. We were astonished by the sight but we all assumed it was a private plane that had somehow gone off course and lost control. If we saw that today we would immediately think it was a terrorist attack, but 15 years ago that was the last thing on our minds. Just a few minutes later, in real-time, we saw another plane hit the South Tower and someone turned up the sound on the TV. We all sat in shocked silence watching the images and listening to the announcers trying to piece together and report the unfolding events.

Like so many people in Florida, I’m originally from the NYC metropolitan area. I grew up in northeastern New Jersey, and attended the School of Visual Arts in NYC. I made numerous trips into Manhattan over the years to visit museums, shop, or take visitors to see the sights. I used to go to bars with my friends when the drinking age in NJ was 21 and in NY it was only 18! Because I grew up in the shadow of NYC – I can remember looking at the skyline from the upstairs bedroom in my grandparent’s house – I always felt a connection to it but, on that day in 2001, my most important connection was my son because he was working for a company in midtown Manhattan. He was sent out each day to jobs in different parts of the city so I had no idea where he was that morning but, I knew he often worked in the Wall Street area. Like millions of other people, I couldn’t get through to him on his cell phone or on his employer’s phone. I didn’t speak to him for another anxious, heart pounding 7 hours. Thankfully, my son had not been on a job near the World Trade Center that morning so he was physically safe, although emotionally very upset.

Looking back with 15 years of hindsight, I realize that September 11, 2001 was the beginning of a change in some of my attitudes. It still took me another ten years to become fully engaged in politics and news but, 9/11 awakened something in me. I began to have a real appreciation for what a great country we have and how blessed we are in so many ways. I saw many acts of heroism from ordinary people in the days after 9/11 and I felt such pride in the resilience and generosity of the American people. I’m not a naive, flag waving, blind loyalty, “America, love it or leave it” type of patriot and I’m not in lock step with any politician or political party but 9/11 taught me to love my country in a way I didn’t before. I love the flag and the national anthem and what they stand for. I revere the Constitution and I know that, if our elected officials protect and defend it, we will be able to overcome anything. I feel deep gratitude and respect for all who have served, bled and died for our freedoms. Seeing the Twin Towers come down made me realize for the first time how vulnerable those freedoms really are and I don’t take them for granted anymore.

God Bless America.

A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.  ~Edward Abbey

Liberty wearing her new bandana 12-25-14

She was named Liberty for a reason