| Everything’s Coming Up Rosen

Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Goodwill to all

Posted on 07 December 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I had never met David Eller in person; despite that, I’ve been writing a column for this paper since — actually I lost count, but my guess would be since the early 2000s when Judy Wilson was the editor. I’ve written about everything under the sun, except the thing I am most passionate about — politics. Pretty nearly early on, it was clear that my political beliefs were at the opposite pole from Mr. Eller’s and I was very politely asked to [refrain from expressing my personal opinion], which presented me with two options: to write about other “stuff” or to walk away on my “high horse” telling myself that I was standing up for my ‘principles.’ But, what was my most basic principle?

In truth it didn’t take long for me to come up with an answer, and the main belief that I had in common with Mr. Eller was that it is a good thing that we live in a capitalist society – and that citizens still had the freedom of choice. He owned the newspaper and had the right to set the rules. I was free to stay on his terms or go. I respected his wishes and stayed. I was free to express my opinions in other venues.

And in reading his obituary this past week, I was privileged to meet the human being who was more than his politics and who was such a positive and important influence on his community. This got me to thinking — continue thinking — how important it is for us, in this era of such turmoil, distrust and insidious vituperation on both sides — to cool it, to listen to opposing views as they are expressed with the same sincerity and passion as my own views and to respect our differences, without inserting the element of hatred. It is the “hatred” that is poisoning us.

We’re living in a cement mixer of societal changes and daily we are witnessing major differences between what is acceptable today and what was “then.” Some of it will be seen as good and some as bad, and even within that framework people will differ. And I so much believe that it is our differences that make us strong and innovative and creative as a society. A monolithic belief system creates a staleness that leads to decay. It is no accident that we are not a planet of clones.

And so, as the “Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men” season descends once again, it is the last part of that prayer that we need especially to heed, before the first part will ever become a reality i.e. “goodwill,” especially, toward the humans with whom we have what seems to be incompatible belief systems. We need to understand that people aren’t all one thing. Let’s look for other qualities that make up their character, qualities we can admire and respect.

I send my deepest condolences to the Eller and Observer family, and my everlasting hope for “Goodwill towards men” and that includes a heartfelt Happy Chanukah, Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa and good holiday time to all.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Carrots

Posted on 01 November 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

November is calling, and perhaps I should be writing about turkeys or stuffing, or pumpkins, but I’m not. I’m writing about carrots. Stick with me here. I’m about to make my case, i.e. carrots as a symbol of what’s wrong with society. Well, it’s one of the symbols.

I remember when carrots were just in the produce department with the good earth still clinging to each bunch. Then someone came along with the brilliant idea of cleaning them up a bit and inserting them into a plastic bag; but that wasn’t good enough for the fast food nation and TV dinner families. We still had to peel them, or else we might ingest some of the residue of the good earth. So the next someone came up with the idea of baby carrots, sculpted out of the big ones or some sort of mutation — all peeled and washed, and cut and plastic-packaged. The consumer was relieved of all carrot responsibility, save having to chew and swallow. It comes in just the right size for good dipping, if you happen to be a dipper, conscious of avoiding the carbs one finds in crackers or bread.

But folks, I challenge you to compare the taste of an out-of-the-earth carrot to the ersatz orange, nutrition-drained elf-like, thumb-sized “things” packaged as carrots. However, if you want to substitute them for the traditional Thanksgiving yam (to save calories), the taste won’t matter too much when you add brown sugar or maple syrup, or even a marshmallow to it.

Okay, so this is not as tantalizing a subject as recent corroborating information about Harvey Weinstein, or as the thunderous danger of our relationship with the leader of North Korea, but indeed, it says something important about society.

It says that we, as a nation, prefer to have things “peeled” and “cut” for us and we kind of don’t really care about the quality of the final product. We can swallow it, become somewhat conscious of its inferior taste, accept “the deal,” giving up something (taste) to get something more valuable (convenience), and we go on with our lives, just as long as someone else does the “peeling.” It’s the long standing “let’s do stuff that’s easy-peasy” school of thought.

Of course, it’s not just carrots when it comes to “easy-peasy.” There’s a whole world of “bots” (robots for the uninitiated) out there waiting to do everything for us …Yes, pretty nearly everything …

It will soon be too late for us to consider how much of this is really good for us as opposed to how much we might still prefer to do things for ourselves.

I may be the only person in the world using baby peeled carrots in a plastic bag as a metaphor for a society that eschews the value of “doing the work and being rewarded with the flavor.”

Well, the good news is: We’re still eating turkey for Thanksgiving. Most people are still celebrating with family and friends, and maybe even dipping baby carrots into a dip; and, most importantly, actually sitting down at a table, and maybe even having face- to-face conversations. Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Mindfulness

Posted on 05 October 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

Check out mindfulness on Google; and, if you print out the results, you could use your entire ink cartridge. Read Emily’s 600 or so word essay and you can wrap up the whole subject and be on your way to your next life activity — mindfully.

Let me first assure the meditators, and the 30 minute (or 30 second) exercisers in the practice, that I am in hearty approval of whatever helps you live stressless-ly, healthfully and happily.

For me, it all started with the best gift I ever received — my car accident. There I was, “mindlessly” driving in slow traffic, east on Linton Boulevard approaching Federal Highway. My head might have been in Publix, or Paris, on my bicycle, preparing for my next memoir writing class, planning dinner and/or listening to a book on CD. It sure wasn’t on the car creeping in front of me — that is, until I felt the bump. And dear jurors, that’s all it was – a bump. But it caused the hood of my car to fold up like an accordion, stopping just before it hit my windshield. My mechanic told me it was designed to do that to protect the windshield from shattering all over the driver.

Happily, no one was hurt. The three occupants of the car that was bumped did a jack rabbit out of it to inspect the damage, as did I. The usual police report was filed, I was towed to a body shop, my insurance paid the outlandish cost of repair and my premium skyrocketed by more than three-fold.

I eventually sold the car, and bought my dream of a yellow car.

But I will never forget the feelings and thoughts I had as I experienced the “bump.” How I berated myself in language unfamiliar to my own tongue. The curses and the stupidities I hurled as I became so aware of my own culpability. Where, where, where was I?

And in the simplest of terms, that’s how I learned mindfulness. Ever since that incident, my car will always lag a car’s length behind the one in front of me – despite the horns and vulgar expletives of disgruntled drivers who love to tailgate and still believe women belong in the kitchen.

But this kind of mindfulness extends way beyond my driving. As I hear about more and more of my peers, and the children and even grandchildren of my peers falling, tripping, toppling and toe-stubbing, and as I hear about broken ribs, hips, knees and crania, I have become fanatically aware of my surroundings, talking to myself incessantly about all that could happen if I let up on my consciousness.

The ground is uneven, watch your step.”

It’s okay to change that light bulb, but be conscious about it when you do.”

Yes, get back on your bike but be aware of the stones and debris on the ground.”

Hold that knife away from you when you cut – and be aware that your fingers can slip with the force of it and cut your hand.”

If you can’t reach it, yes, use the step stool – but make sure you have places to hold on.”

The parking lot is slippery. Remember that when you take the garbage to the dumpster.”

It’s fine to take a deep breath, and check out your chakras, but when you’ve finished doing that, don’t forget to watch out for the hole in the ground and the unexpected curb on the sidewalk and the throw rug in your living room that you could easily trip over and the frying pan that is still sizzling.

Happy Mindfulness.  

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: From stress to less

Posted on 07 September 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I’m sitting at my computer about to call Comcast — again. I feel pins sticking in my scalp and worms creeping around my stomach. I have spent the better part of a month almost daily (I’ve actually added the hours … between 30 and 35) on several different issues, most of which have more or less been attended to – finally. My frustration level hit the ceiling weeks ago, and my sense of helplessness in being trapped by corporate bureaucracy, incompetence and robotic responses, has taken its toll on my psyche. And now, after concentrating totally on service and technology, I am about to engage again, this time on the subject of my astronomical bill (and still more other stuff) which far exceeds that which was quoted to me on contract. My hand is on the phone, but the thought of another conversation literally makes me dizzy and nauseous.

This brings me to the affirmation of my belief in the significance of the mind-body connection and the physically destructive power of stress. And surely, I realize that in the larger scheme of life, this is a relatively ant-like stress, especially as I watch the physical and psychic tortures of people all over the world who have insoluble problems.

Some people need Yoga, mindful meditation, Tai Chi, massages, a walk in the woods, deep psycho-therapy, drum retreats, and who knows how many legitimate and successful treatments for stress reduction there are … and how truly valuable it is to society that they all exist (except for the scams). I am always in awe about the many ways there are for folks to find the ability to cope.

For me, it’s very simple and inexpensive. In my most stressful moments, I find crazy relief in the gratitude I feel for not having to endure anything worse, something I’d often had disagreements about with a good friend. She always insisted to me that someone else’s worse troubles did nothing to diminish her own lesser ones. I guess people diverge on many different levels.

Though I very rarely go to Facebook, I did just indulge in my once in awhile time there where I discovered one of the best reminders I have ever heard of on how to live well, other than the “Serenity Prayer.” This one goes, “Anything you can’t control is teaching you to let go.”

I’m not quite ready to let go of my Comcast issues. However, Labor Day is over. Fall is settling in; it’s back to routines and soon the end of year holidays will challenge our stress quotient. So I will hang loose when Comcast tells me, again, this call may be recorded for quality assurance – and I will refrain from bringing up the previous 26 (recorded by me) calls of the past few weeks. I have a new glitch in my programming, sigh, sigh — in addition to the bill — and I can’t believe I did this to myself. I switched voluntarily from AT&T because I was not satisfied and the gods have punished me; but, I am thankful I do not live in Houston, and hopeful that Irma will find her way out into the ocean. And I’m practicing to live without TV.

It’s not so bad at all. I am not stressed. Ten, nine, eight, seven ……..

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Character and morality

Posted on 02 August 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I have stuff on my mind and gotta say it – respectfully. I’ve been writing for this paper for, I guess, more than 10 years. I am a politics freak and have been asked not to write about politics. I have complied, even as I have often had to tie my hands behind my back before sitting down at my computer to write a piece of fluff.

I write this, not as a democrat or a republican, but as an American who cares above all, about character, morality, integrity, civility, compassion and respect for belief systems that differ from mine. I believe strongly that I can learn from people who don’t agree with me and I am, therefore, open to listening, with respect, to other points of view. I see this as an admirable quality passed on from parent to child and from the people we choose as leaders expressed by them, not with words, but with behaviors.

I have witnessed in my long life leaders on both sides of the political spectrum whose position as national role models have fallen way short of ideal, whose influence on national consciousness and character have given a subliminal pass to those who give credence to the mantra “I believe it is okay to do whatever I can get away with, regardless of consequences to others, or its inherent immorality, as long as it enhances my quality of life.”

And I have witnessed enough people who wanted a better quality of life for themselves, who wanted all the fantastical life improvements that were promised to them. They voted for the whole package.

The person who now has claim to the White House has indeed expressed with words and behaviors – very openly, and unapologetically, that very mantra. I will give him the benefit of what I do not know about him, that perhaps he has extended many kindnesses to people with whom “quid pro quo” was not the ruling motive. But what is open to the public is a cesspool of actions and relationships based on his philosophy of life…“what’s in it for me.”

Have I missed it? Is he on record showing some quality of inherent goodness or kindness that hasn’t been predicated on this principle?

Granted, goodness and kindness may be wimpy characteristics, and not ones we consciously seek in a leader. But the blatant and complete absence of them trumps whatever strengths are demonstrated when we evaluate what has come to be known as our national character. And folks, I really worry about our national character.

Our country was built by people of strong character and principles that extended beyond the me-me-me image reflected every time our president opens his mouth or thumbs a tweet. Do we want the persona he presents to be a role model for our kids and future generations?

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: What is the truth?

Posted on 06 July 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

On its surface, “truthfulness” seems like an open and shut case; but, in many instances, it’s too “open.” There are some scientific facts that are — so far — undeniably true. Until further notice, the earth IS round. And, yes, you either appeared at the XYZ train station at 10 a.m. last Tuesday or you didn’t. These kinds of truths seem non-negotiable.

But there are truths subject to a nuanced “interpretation,” which raises the question … Did you really intend to say that horrible thing about me? Yes, I can prove you said it — that is the truth, even after you tell me that you didn’t mean it. But the fact that you said it is a truth.

Escalating this to another level … There are too many legitimate “your truths” and “my truths.” I see this as being particularly in play as I teach my memoir writing class – and note how memory can distort events.

Mother: “My (now) 40-year-old son played hooky half of his high school senior year.”

Son: “Mom! That’s not true. I was studying in the library all that time.”

This hot issue of TRUTH can be really wiggly, but certainly needs to have some parameters where two parties can agree when irrefutable facts can be shown to exist. This is as important in a free society as healthcare, infrastructure, immigration issues, global warming and the rest. We may need a Secretary of Truth to — oops, wait a minute — sounds kind of like what our Judicial System takes on in instances of significance. And then it becomes matters of “opinion.” But, opinion does not equate to truth.

So, even as I ponder the smoldering discrepancies regarding “ truth” that seem to be tearing our country apart, and, in recognition of this symbolic week, I am tossed back two plus centuries with these famous words ringing in my ears : “We hold these truths to be self evident…” from our venerated Declaration of Independence.

Even these original truths considered to be “self evident” have evolved: “All men are created equal…” This includes both men and women, as well as people of all races and sexual preferences, a “truth” which somehow eluded our founding fathers … “and are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable Rights, that among those are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.” Again, the years have expanded the meaning of each of those three entities to the point where they have been dissected and analyzed, and debated, in a sense diminishing their power as agents of “truth,” as in “What is life? When does it begin? Does it include the ‘right’ to healthcare? Does ‘Liberty’ include the right to be secure in the color of your skin? Does the pursuit of ‘Happiness’ include allowing corruption and assorted other anti-social behaviors in the name of that pursuit?”

Even “self evident” truth comes to a dead end as it becomes nitpicked and, in the end, “intent” is thought to be one of the best signifiers of truth and, there again, we can all think of many contrary angles to that. So, we will forever have “your” truth and “my” truth and “the” truth.

And here’s one of the truths we have come to revere: “Truth will set you free.” (Unless it lands you in jail).

I hope you had a good July 4th holiday – and that IS the truth.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Random thoughts

Posted on 01 June 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I try to impress upon my writing class the importance of focus.

You must have a theme, a point of view, a message you want to convey,” I tell them.

For emphasis, I ask that they be able to verbally express in one or two sentences the premise of the writing. And so, with that acknowledgement, I want to thank some literary precedents for what I am about to do. There are times in one’s life when there is a necessity to set upon paper a “stream of consciousness” — random thoughts that have been a-haunting, thoughts that seemingly have no connection to each other, but that spring from an uninhibited authority that needs to punch itself out of the box.

Here’s how it goes, and welcome to today’s creepy innards of my secret brain — without attention to rules, sentence structure, consistency of tense or pronouns, or point of view, just as messy and random as thoughts tend to be:

Isn’t it interesting how people never stop learning … How once that diploma is in our hands, it means that the learning is actually about to commence, how we learn so much more out of school than within its confines, about new ideas, new ways of thinking, about how I had evaluated the character of a certain person and, then, how I have changed my mind about that person, and actually, how I thought about myself and find so many aspects of me that have changed? And — wow! How good it is to be flexible, to be able to change my mind, but on the other hand, does that make me unreliable? Is changing one’s mind a flaw or an asset? And are other people static in their character, or am I only shown what they want me to see, until some kind of crisis occurs and I am able to recognize more than what appears on the surface of their character?

And getting back to me – there I was semi-content about not riding my bike daily, as I had been doing all of my adult life, feeling insecure in my new setting after the move, interesting how people choose their activities. Not for me “working out” — gym classes, Pilates, Yoga, Body Balancing, Tai Chi, fitness machines, massages, — just give me two working feet for walking, a pool would be nice to do my exercises at my own pace and a bike, but then I didn’t have the bike because my 26 in. wheeler made me feel insecure as I got older, as people around me began to fall, increasing the coffers of the orthopedic community; and then, last week, my friend Maddy told me about the new bike she was about to order — choose any wheel size … any wheel size? Hmmm … maybe a smaller wheel will give me more confidence, and I did it and – OMG – what a difference. After three years, I am rolling again on 16 in. wheels. Life is good, isn’t it? Interesting how people never stop learning, especially about themselves — never thought I’d ride a bike again.

Conclusion? I am over my word limit. It’s Memorial Day and random thoughts about its meaning sneak into my brain. It is surely a concrete subject for another essay – just not for today.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: Live to be 100?

Posted on 04 May 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

OK, I promise … this is my last column of comment on my age. I’ve got to get beyond the miracle of having lived 90 years and acknowledge that, having made it this far, I would kind of like to go the distance another 10 years while remaining in the shape that I’m in. There is sooooo much in this world that is in seismic upheaval, and, by golly, I’d really like to see how it turns out. Yes, I guess I am greedy.

Those driverless cars, for instance, are coming, and I want to be in one that drives itself—what a long way from the old non-air-conditioned jalopy I grew up with! Then, there’s the 3-D printer and its effect on every aspect of our economy, which doubtless will emerge strong in the next 10 years. And what a turn from the old mimeograph machines that left ink on my hands as I turned out class assignments in the 50s.

I want to live to see a slow-down in the results of climate change – and ways that cheaper and cleaner energy will give the planet a chance for good to conquer evil.

And OMG—I just this minute received a text that told me about a new device the size of a tissue box that can harvest drinkable water from thin air.

All this coming in the next 10 years? So, speaking of texts – let’s go back to the innovations during the past 10 years as in Smartphones, Apps, You Tube, GPS, blogs, Facebook, Twitter, selfies, Alexa, Google, Uber, Airbnb. And I’ll bet you could add another full page of lists of changes within the past decade that I didn’t mention. Oh, what a difference 10 years can make. And we haven’t even touched on politics and the sad escalation of lack of civility.

But, see how one can so easily become diverted. I had planned, in this column, to answer the question everyone has asked me: “What’s your secret – of 90 years still on your feet?” And my answer, alas, will be of little help to anyone. It is simply: just plain good luck, as well as the fact that I don’t much like the taste of booze or coffee, or tobacco – and that spinach, broccoli, kale, and just plain water, have far more palate appeal for me. I consider that “luck.”

That, aided perhaps by a few pieces of wisdom gathered throughout the years: I have learned to distinguish between reasonable and realistic expectations, and have trained myself to go for the realistic ones. And, for its universal appeal that covers the main ingredients of a healthy life, I go for the serenity prayer despite that I am not especially prayerful: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and wisdom to know the difference.

Live to 100 — in good condition? Hmmmmm.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: The tree – and my very big birthday

Posted on 05 April 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

My realtor’s car pulled into the parking space designated No. 606 and we both emerged from the vehicle, I – staring into the lipstick red blooming bougainvillea tree, demarking the end space in that section of the lot – immediately fell in love … with the tree. I didn’t need to see the apartment. I wanted to live near that tree. And to add to such largess, its twin sister stood straight and tall only feet from the front door.

With a short cursory look around, “I’ll take it” were the very words my realtor had hoped to hear. Within weeks, my precious “stuff” slinked easily into 1450 sq. ft., after having been surrounded [by additional stuff] and overstuffed into 3500 sq. ft., and I felt like twinkle toes.

That was almost three years ago; and, alas, the parking lot tree has since lost its bloom, its branches dry as a cadaver, standing sentinel over my parking space (which I never use since I have a garage). Every time I looked at it, I felt like crying. Every time guests parked there, I wanted to engage them in a hugging ceremony with me. Dead as the proverbial doornail, it might have been in a Vermont forest in mid January.

I mourned my tree for months, ambivalent about its presence. How long do you keep a dead body in full view? The sun burst on it, the clouds rained on it, but there it stood, motionless, bare and desolate.

And today, as I hauled my garbage to the dumpster abutting the space – OMG! — my tree was gone, a mere stump of it still snug in the earth. I stared at the emptiness and I heard my Ibis chirping nearby. I watched the mother duck-in-residence waddling in front of her babes on the parking lot. The scene was funereal.

Then, I had an out-of-body experience. Some other me – not the one I thought I knew — walked around among the various flowers and bushes in the community with a pan and a clipper and a trowel. I collected a variety of colorful flowers into the pan, pulled out a stool from my garage (I have an old cranky back that doesn’t take well to bending.) dragged my water hose to the spot, doused the earth around the stump, and proceeded to plant flowers around it. And, boy, did that make me feel good!

And here’s the thing. I wanted to write a thoughtful, insightful, philosophical piece about reaching my 90th birthday this month. I wanted to list everything I learned about life, to dispense my wisdom and advice, to pontificate on “my secrets” of longevity and to extoll with infinite gratitude the randomness of just plain good luck. But, instead, I wrote about my dead tree, and the joyousness of living flowers in its place.

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Everything’s Coming Up Rosen: My annual rant

Posted on 02 March 2017 by LeslieM

By Emily Rosen

ERosen424@aol.com

www.emilyrosen424.com

I am a positive person, actually an optimist. I am not a complainer. If the soup isn’t hot enough, I don’t send it back; I slurp it anyway. If the gardener allows the branches from my trees to bend over onto the walkway, I take a pair of clippers and prune away. If the cashier at the dollar store checked out one dollar too many, I tend not to go back for my dollar. Two dollars? Maybe! If “they” predict rain on my beach day, I go anyway, knowing how wrong “they” can be. And when friends lie prostrate on the floor kicking and screaming about the election, I bring them a drink of water and a cold wash cloth and say, “Give it a chance.”

But here are two irritations that just won’t go away – and I AM complaining this time. Both have to do with noise. My hearing has recently been checked, and, for a tottering senior, it functions remarkably well. So I get seriously agitated with loud noises that interfere with my ability to hold a conversation.

The first culprit is the leaf blower. This may seem like paranoia, but I am certain that the Leaf Blowers Union has a schedule of my activities, and that the most persistent of them is assigned to me on a daily basis. My location doesn’t matter as long as it has a tree with falling leaves. Having a philosophical chat, or engaging in titillating gossip on anyone’s back-yard patio or even the most prestigious hotel grounds in any state, province or outlying other-world country, inevitably signals the arrival of “the leaf blower” followed closely, on my part, by a series of non-modulated “what”s?

The above is what I call an active transgression. The noise abatement issue that is more treacherously passive occurs in restaurants all over the world at the most popular hangouts. Of course, if you are European or South American and you are accustomed to dining more towards the midnight hour, you might not feel the stinging resentment of paying outrageous prices per person to scream at your companions or to play the ping pong game of “what, what and what?” By that hour, when your choice of entree has already been ingested to the max with no remaining pickings, the crowd has thinned, the service help anticipates release, you can get away with whispering conversations.

But for those of us who prefer to dine at the socially acceptable hours between 7 and 8 p.m. any day of the week — forgetaboutit!

Dismissing the probability that you have already waited beyond 10 minutes for your reserved table, once you are seated and anticipating a pleasant catch-up conversation with your companions, you will be wishing for a megaphone and/or hearing aids — that work.

But, I was warned early on that life is not fair. In a desperate appeal to higher educators, I offer to support any noise abatement program on your campus that can come up with what should be a simple solution, given that men have gone to the moon, and automobiles are now running without drivers.

So until someone takes me up on my offer, you will find me in the aisles of Publix, where shopping is indeed a quiet pleasure, purchasing ingredients for healthy meals at home – often with friends – and on track for becoming the hostess of the year.

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