Dear Landline, Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Oh landline of mine, I owe you a big apology. I thought I could save some money by cutting you out of my life.  I contemplated this for weeks, and then I made the phone call to AT&T.  This was it. “Cancel my service,” I said, without skipping a beat. I’m over the home phone. I don’t need it. I’ve got my cell phone, after all.

Oh, Rotary Phone! Now this was when a phone was a phone and nothing else. No texting, no checking email. Just talking on the phone. Alas, a relic from another day.

I figured I’d get some push back from AT&T, but all I got from the other end of the line was, “Do you want it shut off today or later this week?”

“Today!” was my eager reply. Absolutely.  Can’t wait! And then I hung up, satisfied that I’d just saved myself some 40 bucks per month.  Which is when panic set in.

Oh, landline, how could I be so foolish, so cavalier about something that’s been a part of me all of my life?  Without you, how will the telemarketers get a hold of me?  How will the credit companies call me incessantly to offer me protection against identity theft?  And how will I know when my air conditioner is in need of a check-up?

Worse, what if there’s an earthquake or some other calamity?  How will the folks at  reverse 9-1-1 know how to call and warn me to evacuate? OK, you get the picture. Nobody calls me at home anymore except sales people, repairmen, and on occasion my brother from Boca. But still, what makes me think I can live without you, my little lifeline?

As kids, we dreamed of having a video phone, much like the one the Jetson's had. Pre-Skype. Pre-iPhone 4.

Call it a lapse in judgment. Call me crazy or simply sentimental. Call me old school. Whatever the reason, my phone, my landline, I can no sooner part with you than I can sever my pinkie—no matter how useless it is.  And though I may be young at heart, the comforts of my age will prevail, which is why, landline, you are here to stay.

Of course, thinking of you reminds me of past phones I’ve had in my home. Like my first one in Queens, which was a black rotary phone, the kind you use your index finder to rotate the dial clockwise, then releasing when you hit the finger stop.  Not as complicated as it sounds, it is now a relic from another day, as I’m sure that not many people today have ever used such a phone.

In my day, we didn’t own the phone, we rented it from Ma Bell and our phone numbers included letters. I still remember my first phone number, AX7-2822. Then came the princess phone in pastel pink or powder blue. I would’ve killed for one of those.  Throughout the years, there have been other developments in the home phone biz, including push button phones (goodbye, rotary!) and cordless. We’re a mobile society after all, and no stinkin’ cord was going to tie us down!

We dreamed of video phones as seen in The Jetsons, but that never really materialized—except on Skype. We fantasized about having a shoe phone like the one Agent 86 had in Get Smart, but, at the time, a portable phone that wasn’t a landline seemed outrageously beyond the realm of belief.

The first mobile phone was probably this one, owned by Agent 86, Maxwell Smart on the classic TV show, "Get Smart."

And now, my precious landline, you have become just another casualty of the past, thanks to Generation X, Y and whatever. They don’t have the history or the bonds that we boomers have with our home phones. They don’t own one and they don’t see why we still hold on to ours.  Not even my son can figure out why I care so much about you, given that I have a cell phone.

But cell phones are fickle and disconnect calls in a flash.  Whereas you, my landline, are old reliable.  Which is why I’m holding on to my 40-bucks-a-month habit.  To paraphrase the late, gun-toting advocate, Charlton Heston,

If they want my landline, they’ll have to pry it from my cold, dead hands.

So, landline, can you ever forgive me? Surely, I’m not the only one who’s tried this and failed?

The Boomerang Kid

So much for my empty nest!  Just when I was getting used to it being void of offspring, life threw me a curve ball.  A curve ball in the shape of my son, Josh.  Yep, he’s coming home.  He’s quit his job and he’s packing up his things and moving back in.

Though not for long. It’s temporary, he says.  About a month or so. Just until he figures out his next move, and a new career path.  Oh, and, he has his sights set on Chicago. He’s hoping for a fresh start there and I, for one, am rooting for him.

Meet the Boomerang Kid

By moving back in, if only for a short while, Josh is officially becoming another statistic. He is one of tens of thousands of young adults who reach a point in their lives when the best option for them is to move back in with the parental units. And there’s even a name for it, the Boomerang Kids. These homeward bound kids are finding that there really is no place like home…again.

So while, Josh is boomeranging, I have a second chance at bonding time with him.  Last time he lived here was senior year of high school. Everyone knows how kids are at that age, and we certainly know how they can get a bad case of “senioritis,” which for Josh hit somewhere in 9th grade.

But now he’s older and doesn’t mind spending time with me.  So while he’s making a go of his future, I will be biding time, playing the role of a supportive mother.  Here’s my pledge: I will try not to give unwarranted advice, which, I’m afraid, I’m very good at and have already been doing (much to his chagrin, I suppose).  I will try not to get too stressed or too worried about his future. And I will not coddle or dote on him. Nor will I be a nudge. No way. Instead, I will give him his space and act nonchalant, like he’s just a roommate (and not my son), so that he won’t feel like climbing the walls and screaming, “Leave me alone!”

So, I’m preparing for his arrival.  Which means I have to move most of my things out of his room. The very room that over the last decade has become my workspace, my blogging space and a place for me to scrapbook.

While I’m at it, I have to make room in the house for all of his possessions!  He’s bringing home boatloads of stuff.  It’s amazing how much we can accumulate in just a short time, which in his case is eight years. Eight years of books, magazines, video games, CD’s, DVD’s, not to mention, two guitars, three basketballs and one football.

And if I know my son, he’s packing up all these things in beat up, old boxes and Hefty trash bags, which he’ll scatter all over my humble abode. Well, so much for trying to keep my place semi-organized and tidy. When it comes right down to it, that’s what I’m really dreading: the clutter. Yuck. All that clutter is sure to muddle my brain and get me all discombobulated.

So I’m waiting for his arrival.  Any minute, his car will pull up and the process of unloading will begin.  I’m ready.  Here’s hoping it all works out for him (and for me!). And here’s hoping that no one’s climbing the walls in 30 days.  Yes, it’s off to another adventure!

The Cartographer’s Daughter

That’s me, the Cartographer’s Daughter. That’s what I’ve decided I’m going to call myself.  It sounds much better and more exotic than introducing myself by just saying my name. Boring. That’s so yesterday and I, after all, like to follow a trend. You know which trend I mean. The one in the book publishing business.

Ever notice how many books are titled So and So’s Daughter or So and So’s Wife?  You know what I’m talking about.  Books with puzzling titles that tie relatives or spouses together, sometimes for no good reason, except that it sounds intriguing.  Here’s an example:

This is my favorite novel in this book title genre. Written by Audrey Niffenegger, it is her debut novel.

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter

The Heretic’s Daughter

The Hangman’s Daughter

The Virgin Queen’s Daughter

The Calligrapher’s Daughter

The Apothecary’s Daughter

The Hummingbird’s Daughter

And

The Zookeeper’s Wife

The Pilot’s Wife

The Senator’s Wife

The Kitchen God’s Wife

The Doctor’s Wife

The Time Traveler’s Wife

These are all actual book titles and from the title, I’m never certain who the book is about—the zookeeper or the wife?  The time traveler or his wife?  The hummingbird or it’s daughter? Or both? And what exactly is a memory keeper? I know what a hangman is. Never met one, but I have a good idea of what he does for a living. But half the time, I’m baffled by these cryptic titles.  And why are there so many books following this fad, anyway?  Have publishers discovered that books with such titles fly off the shelves and sell faster?

Here’s another mystery: Why are there so many books about the daughter yet hardly any about the son? What is he, chopped liver?  In fact, in a search on Amazon.com, the only book that came close was one titled, “The Poacher’s Son.”  If you ask me, I’d be more interested in learning about the poacher than the son, whose only claim to fame is that his dad was a poacher.  Or maybe it was his mother that was the poacher. Kind of like that classic riddle about an injured boy and his dad, who were both rushed to the hospital and the doctor, upon seeing the boy, said, “I can’t operate on him. That child is my son!” Turns out the doctor was the boy’s mother. So maybe the poacher is too.

Well, I’m the Cartographer’s Daughter because that’s what my father was when he was young and dashing, and still lived in Venezuela. He’d fly over the Amazon Jungle in small propeller planes, taking photos of the landscape, which were then used to make maps.  How exciting and thrilling that must have been! Wish I’d known him then. I could have joined him on one of his many adventures. Sigh.

Anyway, I’d rather be known as The Cartographer’s Daughter than by the title of the job he got after he graduated from New York University. Somehow, The Life Insurance Agent’s Daughter doesn’t sound quite the same. And I’m not alone in this judgment. Notice you don’t see any books titled, The Dental Hygienist’s Daughter or The Trash Collector’s Wife. Not exotic enough, if you ask me.

So now that I have my new title, guess I’ll have to write my memoir to go with it.  And even if I end up writing the worst book ever, with a title like this one I can’t go wrong.  The Cartographer’s Daughter is going to sell like hotcakes.  And that you can take to the bank or, better yet, to The Banker’s Daughter.

Time to Commercialize Divorce

Society doesn’t prepare you for divorce.  Still, you would’ve thought by now that someone would have figured out a way to turn it into a profit-generating machine, much the same way we do with weddings. Makes sense when you consider that half of first marriages and about 75% of second marriages end in divorce. In fact, it is so prevalent that with a little bit of pluck, a company could step right in and turn divorce into a cash cow.

Billions of dollars are poured into weddings each year. Yet, except for all the family lawyers who are raking in the dough, divorce is a poor relation. Let’s face it, divorce doesn’t get half the respect that is reaped upon the marriage vows. For instance, we have bridal showers but no divorce showers, which could come in handy, if you ask me. After all, you end up losing half of your kitchen supplies, linens and furniture in the split.

It wouldn't hurt for someone like Courtney Cox to have a divorce planner.

No divorce planners either. Think how easy it could be! No fuss, no muss because the divorce planner takes care of all the pesky details, like the settlement, drawing up the papers, garnering your ex’s wages if necessary (because he’d rather pay for his girlfriend’s day at the spa than child support). Voila! All you have to do is show up and sign the final decree!

There are no bachelor-again-to-be parties. You can’t place an order for a chocolate raspberry four-tier divorce cake for your Coming Out—Again! party. No divorce bazaars held at the convention center, where you can go and find a good attorney, get some therapy and a much needed massage to relieve you of all the aches, pains and thorns in your side that your spouse gave you. Worst of all, no divorce registries at Pottery Barn—or even Target. Trust me, I could think of at least two dozen items I would have liked to put on that registry.

There is no divorce month. June is for weddings but what’s a good month to sign your divorce papers? For me, it was December. The 7th of December, to be exact, better known as Pearl Harbor Day. A day that will live in infamy, according to FDR.

And where are all the divorce magazines? There are plenty of bridal magazines, but where can I get the latest info, all I need to know about the D word? Martha Stewart is all over weddings. Why can’t she toss us divorcees a bone? Actually, there is one magazine devoted to divorce, aptly called Divorce Magazine, but it’s only published twice a year. I don’t know about you but I couldn’t wait that long for my next issue. If brides can have a monthly magazine, then surely the rest of us should too. In fact, Brides and Divorce Magazine could be sold together. Two for the price of one. What a deal! Might as well, considering that half of all those brides will be wishing they had a magazine on divorce at some point. And who knows? Maybe having an issue of Divorce Magazine sitting on the coffee table would be just the thing to remind newlyweds that it takes effort to make marriage work.

Divorce. It’s a simple, easy to pronounce, two-syllable word that doesn’t begin to convey the agony, the ripping of your insides that getting a divorce can bring. That, and the realization that your world will never be the same. So come on, Corporate America, make a commercial success out of this opportunity! And maybe, just maybe, it’ll help ease some of the pain.

Let’s Hear it for the 50 Percenters!

I’m a trendsetter—on the cutting edge. A pioneer! Baby, take a bow! You may wonder why am I so proud? What am I on the forefront of? Why, divorce of course!

I was among the first to get a divorce in my office. Years ago, while everyone was hooking up and getting married, I was signing my final divorce decree. Then, when everyone was getting pregnant and dropping like flies around the office taking parental leave, I continued working while happily raising my grade school kids who no longer awoke in the night to nurse or for a diaper change. Been there and done that.

Later, when other staff took off to stay home with sick kids who had strep, not me. If my kids were sick they could stay home alone and take care of themselves! When others were preparing their children for kindergarten and fretting over which school to enroll them in, mine were finishing up the middle school and high school years. It’s fun being ahead of the curve!

Now, as others are signing their own divorce decrees and having to start over, I say, welcome to the club, the club of the 50 Percenters. Don’t get me wrong. I respect those who are able to stay married through thick and thin, sickness and health. I’m rooting for them. It’s probably one of the hardest things to do. Those that succeed certainly deserve all the accolades and admiration that the rest of us can muster.

But, about half of those that marry do end up in divorce and for those of us in this group, well, we’re the 50 Percenters and I am the self-appointed president of the club, thank you very much.

Now, what should be the next trend I set—becoming an empty nester? Been there, doing that. Oh, I just adore being on the cutting edge!