Whining about whiny old people

Sometimes old(er) people can pluck at my last nerve – always whining about something. Lately every time I go downstairs to pick up a package the same woman seems to be there complaining about all the packages that get delivered. How it never used to be this way. How the building doesn’t have room to store all these packages and on and on and on – whine, whine, whine. First of all – what business is it of hers? How does this impact her life in any way?

We have a front desk concierge – this person accepts and signs for all deliveries. Packages are kept behind the desk and there is a small storage closet off the lobby. It’s the front desk person who should be whining about all the packages, not some random resident. But bitch and whine she does.

 The powers that be decided that there needed to be a more efficient way to track packages and notify residents. And they did that – installed a system whereby the desk person scans the address label, clicks a button and !Presto! an email is sent notifying a person they have a delivery. So flippin’ easy, right? It’s a beautiful thing. When the resident picks up his package he signs for it using the electronic signature thingy. So easy. So much less work than handwriting little tickets, logging the packages by hand and then…I mean just layers and layers of crap.

Now packages don’t pile up behind the desk and in the small storage closet, the desk person has less work and there is an electronic record of everything. Life in the 21st century is good. Why are old people always whining about it? Embrace your electronics people. Learn to click! And mind your own business.

My husband’s brother called him this morning to ask if the fee to renew an expired passport was higher than to a renew a non-expired passport. Are you asking the same question I am? Why the hell is he asking my husband. Well, because my husband works for the federal government. And yes, my husband works in land border security but he has nothing to do with issuing passports. Further, his brother is sitting in front of his computer. Look it up!

What does my husband do? He asks ME. Yes, I am my husband’s Google. Takes me about 30 seconds to Google “US Passport Renewal” and get the url. I’m sorry people this is not rocket science.

On a more interesting note – this afternoon there was a big fat robin sitting in the tree outside my window – and sitting and sitting. Occasionally he would fly to the holly tree but moments later he was back – same spot. This went on for hours. It was like he was waiting for someone (or something). Since he could obviously fly I’m figuring he is not ill, and he sure is not starving because he is one FAT robin…Still – and guess what I just turned my head to look out the window and he is back…

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A Tux and a Beer Truck

The other day I read a post called The Sartorial Elegance of the Labouring Classes by Jim Webster.  And it quickly brought to mind my father. While my father was not of the labouring class mentioned in this post he was a laborer. My father was a truck driver/delivery man. He worked for a major beer company, the same one his father worked for, he loaded and unloaded his truck himself – no helpers. I guess that makes him a laborer.

My father wore a uniform – dark blue, with a company name patch on the shirt. I think they also provided him with a winter jacket but I can’t be sure. The shirts were short sleeved for the warm months and long sleeved for the cold months.

But here’s the thing – my father also owned a tuxedo, a fancy tuxedo shirt, studs, gold cufflinks, a tie-it-yourself bow tie, a dark navy blue cashmere overcoat and a matching wool fedora.

My father wore his tuxedo twice a month to attend meetings at his lodge (he was a Mason). His Lodge held 3 meetings a month and two required formal dress.

When I was a little girl I so remember Friday nights when Daddy would get all dressed up and I thought he was the handsomest man in the world!

It wasn’t until I was much older that I wondered how strange it was that a beer delivery truck driver owned his own tuxedo!

But – it did instill in me a preference for men in tuxedos. I’ve always said that there are only two “outfits’ for men –
  1. a well fitting classic tuxedo and
  2. nicely fitted jeans, cowboy boots, an open neck dress shirt and a leather jacket.
My father’s dead now some 47 years (actually almost to the day I am writing this) and while I have no pictures of my father in his tuxedo, none that I can hold or share, I have that indelible image in my mind.

And always and forever a man in a tuxedo will capture my fancy.

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Hand to Brain

There are many ways to learn – there is no one way or technique that works for everyone. Unfortunately, unless you are/were homeschooled  square pegs were jammed into round holes; you were thrown into the deep end of the pool and sink or swim – your problem.

I could never just memorize something. If I didn’t understand it it was not going to stick in my brain.  I learned by reading and writing – when I studied for a test I had two methods, depending on how difficult the material was for me. If it was information that I readily absorbed then all I needed to do was read through my notes or the appropriate chapters in the textbook and I was done. My memory was such that I could easily visualize the page and mentally scan quickly through to the information I needed to answer the question.  More difficult material I had to write – sometimes it was just a matter of re-writing all my notes – hand to brain – and then I could do the “visualize the page” thing.

My dear, dear 6th grade teacher, Adelaide Forlano, always said if you write a word three times you will never forget it. Worked for me – learning this way worked for me. Read-Write-Done – permanently etched in my memory.

I am a hand-to-brain learner. I am a reading learning. I am NOT a listening learner. This was obviously a problem in lecture type classes – the professor could be the most interesting speaker and none of it, or very little of it, would get processed in my brain. My constant complaint in college was “Just give me the syllabus and the reading list and I’ll come back to take the tests. Don’t make me sit here!”

Same thing when I started learning computers and programming and coding and all that jazz – if there was a manual, I read it and then – sat at the keyboard and – hand to brain. Often if someone was ‘teaching’ me by showing me I would say “I’ll sit at the keyboard, let me do it” – Boom! – hand to brain.

Which is way I HATE being read to – nothing makes me more crazy. Didn’t like it when I was a kid, don’t like it now. It’s just plain annoying. Audio books? Oh hell no. Podcasts? What the hell are they anyway – people you can’t even see talking? Give me a transcript – I’ll read the material, thank you very much. Do not talk AT me.

And the whole audio book thing – how do you flip back and refresh your memory? How do you flip forward and skip over the boring parts, and if you can’t ‘read’ ahead how do you know which parts to ignore? And suppose they read to fast, or too slow – OMG I can think of so many ways an audio book would drive me insane. And how do you underline things? And how do you look up something you want more information about? Yes, I look up things I read in novels – often just the meaning of a word, sometimes an idea that intrigued me – I put the book down and and go tracking after that…

Audio books – No,  not for me. Lecture classes – No. Memorize what I don’t understand – No.

Hand to Brain? Read, Write and Visualize? That’s how I learn.

Does any of this resonate for you?

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It always circles back to Da Bronx

I’ve often described myself as ‘the little Italian girl from da Bronx’ despite the fact that my father moved the family out of the Bronx when I was 8 and I really have no connection to the place except for –

The things I say and do. Okay some of those things are also Italian but the Bronx had a heavy concentration of Italian immigrants. The one famous Bronx characteristic I do NOT have is the legendary Bronx accent – for which I am grateful.

The Bronx accent is somewhat similar to a Brooklyn accent – but the Bronx accent is somewhat sharper sounding, a little tougher, ’cause the Bronx is a tough place. Yes, th is pronounced like a d – Dis for this, Dat for that. But 33rd Street becomes toity-toid Street.

The best is – the oi sound becomes an r-sound, as in olive earl or terlet bowl (that would be in English, olive oil and toilet bowl) And New Yorker’s of every borough are know for dropping the r from words altogether and/or replacing it with a d-sound or a w (car becomes caw) Of course there is the famous aw sound – cawfee for coffee. And yes, we drop g‘s at the end of words – going becomes goin‘. And we run words together, like ‘jeet?’ translates to “Did you eat?”

Also “Yo” – I always considered that to be just a New York thing but come to think of it I never heard it in Queens (where I lived after the age of 8). The funniest thing about “Yo” – my husband lived in Vermont when I married him, me being from NYC made me quite the exotic character. My step-children picked up some of my New York-isms which I never realized until I got a note from one of the kids teachers that she had tried to get the teacher’s attention by shouting out “YO”…The teacher didn’t quite know what that meant but she took offense. Me, I cracked up laughing. (Or as we say in NYC – laffin’.)

Then there is the slap-tap/swoop to the back of the head. I never really thought about it much, along with the fist tap to the shoulder but when I did it to someone at work they said “Whadda ya from da Bronx?” Why, yes, yes, I am!

But all this came to mind last week when I read an article about the phrase “expletive you and the horse you rode in on”.  My father used to say that all the time, the expletive in his case was ‘screw’ which isn’t really the expletive most people use. But some sources back track it to the Bronx because some guy who wrote a book that used the phrase said he first heard it in the 1950’s in the Bronx. I don’t know, my father used it long before that.

Years ago I wrote a little piece about as you get older you revert to your essential self. It was in reference to my solitariness but started by noting that my grandmothers and mother all reverted back to Italian, their first language, as they aged. And here I am, reverting back to my Bronx-ness as I age – becoming more Bronx-y, becoming more New York-y and in some ways more Italian. It’s interesting stepping back and watching this.

I mentioned earlier that my father moved us from the Bronx to Queens when I was 8, and while I have never felt a conscious attachment to the Bronx I have ZERO attachment to Queens. My personal opinion is Queens is a boring nothing place with no personality at all. And in service to that, here is a little video about New York accents – pay attention to what they say about Queens –

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