Mom saved my childhood gift


Had my first good cry since my mom died. In the bottom of her handbag, I found a brand new white coin purse with plenty of coins in it, but I also found this old leather coin purse I made for my mom when I was seven years old. It had only two coins in it, and she didn’t need it in her handbag, but she kept it in there anyway. It — I — meant that much to her.

I remember a time before… yet where are we now?

I started thinking tonight about how I remembered a time before every town — nay, every corner — had a Walgreen, Walmart, Starbucks, CVS, Dollar General, QT, 7-11 (are there 7-11’s anymore?), Circle K, etc. Then I realized it was September 11th and it would be wrong not to add that to the mix. Well, this is not a Nine Eleven post, but it’s on 9/11, so I will add to this that, unlike anyone eleven years old or younger today, I remember a time before 9/11. I remember a time when we called the World Trade Center the twin towers. I remember when Philippe Petit walked between them on a tightrope. I remember a time before the twin towers. I remember a time before motion screen billboards. I remember a time before wrap billboards. I remember a time when billboards were rolled out in paper and the strips had to line up just so. I remember a time before Apple. I remember a time before Microsoft. I remember a time before the iPhone, the iPad, Google, AOL, Facebook, Twitter, Quora (I don’t even use Quora), social media, sexual harassment (as a term)… although I remember hearing a joke about Catholic priests and choir boys at summer camp when I was 10,  in 1977, just before this movie called Star Wars came out. So let’s say I remember a time before people said they were shocked that Roman Catholic priests were molesting and raping boys– I remember when it was so well-known there were jokes about it. Hypocrites.

Hmph. As I was saying… I remember when I had never heard of Starbucks. I remember the first time I saw one I was vacationing in Seattle in 1990. Within a year or two, they were everywhere. I remember when a tweet was a sound a bird made, blah, blah, blah. I’m 45. It’s not so old.

And yet, you know what else I remember? I remember when I was in first and second grade and being told we had to learn the metric system because we would all be moving to it. Whatever happened to that, huh? I remember when we were going to go solar in the 70s. Whatever happened to that? I grew up watching 2001: A Space Odyssey, Star Trek, and Space 1999. I thought we would be living on the moon by the end of the twentieth century and in space by the twenty-first. I also grew up believing in and praying fervently for World Peace by the Year 2000! (Soka Gakkai) How about that world peace? Well, if we can’t even switch to the metric system…

I am not a man who is shocked at all this “newfangled technology.” I’m a boy who grew up expecting a world bigger, better, greater, and more peaceful than what we have now. I hear it’s patent law and trademark and copyright and litigation that’s holding us back, and I’m not surprised. I see trillions (is that enough, or is it quadrillions?) of people burned, bloodied, killed, wasted, and wounded in war, killing, destruction, neglect… I see money stolen from the middle class and given to the rich while the poor have less of a chance of becoming middle class.

We have such great technology, it’s both awesome and terrifying. When I see what filmmakers do with technology, sometimes it restores my faith in humanity. A lot of what people do with technology in social media, photos, videos, words, music– these things restore my faith in humanity. I suppose I should count us lucky that our whole world hasn’t been demolished, and I do! We are lucky, and I guess we are doing something right. We have a long way to go, though. It’s not too late to adopt that metric system, go solar, wind, water, clean energy, sustainable. It’s not too late to make this world the great place we thought it would be when we grew up. I think I have an idea for tomorrow morning. I’m going to wake up and ask myself, “What can I do today to help make this world as great as I hoped it would be when I was a boy?”

The “what would you do if you found cash” scenario just happened to me

I just saw two $20 bills on the floor in the airport in a long walkway between two terminals. No one behind me or ahead of me except a pilot who saw them too. I wasn’t going to just leave them there! I could actually use the money right now, so just in case it was meant to be manna from heaven I pocketed the bills. To be fair, though, I went to the nearest paging assistance location to report the money to lost-and-found. Then the pilot walked up with a guy and said, “This is the guy who dropped the money.” So I said, “Okay! Here you go.” Glad it worked well for all concerned. I feel sort of icky about picking up the bills, but if I had left them there, someone less honest than I might have taken them and not reported it. I guess I did the right thing.

What would you do?

P.S. In a weird turn of reciprocity, I left my laptop on the plane, which I’ve never done before, and was able to claim it the same day. No damage, no identify theft, all good. Thank goodness for honesty!

The Laughing Singer

The Laughing Singer
Originally uploaded by Daniel Greene

I sang a cappella in the chapel (redundant, I know)! 😀 I’m laughing because I had just posed like an opera singer with my mouth open and my hands out and then cracked up because I embarrassed myself. There’s an interesting story behind this. A woman in our tour group asked me if I wanted her to take my photo with the chapel behind me because I had just sung in it. How did that come to be? Well, it all began when I saw our tourguide in the restaurant where we all stopped for lunch. He was sitting by himself at a table and I walked up and said, “Ah… tutto sole?” (meaning, “Aw… all alone?” in Italian). He asked me how I knew Italian, and I told him from musical terminology and opera. He asked if I were a singer, and I said yes. Then he told me we were going to be going into a chapel that was designed to be acoustically perfect, and he asked if I would be willing to sing a line or two so everyone could hear. I said sure. I was thinking I would sing the first few lines of “Que Gelida Manina” until we got to the church and I realized that a song from La Boheme would not be appropriate. I racked my brain for something spiritual to sing, and I recalled a short solo I had sung in my senior year at the School of Creative & Performing Arts: the “Benedictus” phrase from Hans Schubert’s “Mass in G.” For those of you who don’t know it, the phrase is “Benedictus qui venit in nomine domini” which is Latin for “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.” I sang it and everyone was pleased. Several people came up to me to thank me personally. I was just glad that the pleasure I had in singing was not selfish, but was considered a gift to others, which is ideal. So, this was a perfectly spontaneous photo to commemorate a wonderfully fortuitous occasion.

(Taken by a fellow tourist in the courtyard by the side of the Cathedral of Santa Croce in Florence, Italy, with the chapel in the background.)