Thursday, September 8, 2022

A Queen, a princess, and me


 
Image by Prawny from Pixabay

 

Somewhere in my collection of things that belonged to my mother is a scarf commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth. My Scottish grandmother (who would decades later be found to be much more Irish than Scottish) had been a fan since having danced the Highland Fling for her, years before she ascended the throne. This bit of family trivia stayed with me all my life, as a distant connection to English royalty.

 

I wasn’t a follower, but I knew who she was, what her role was, and that she had a husband and children. I knew the Queen Mother was always nearby but was very shocked one day when I saw the Queen in the news and said “They have that wrong! That’s the Queen Mother!” Apparently, some time had passed, and I missed the death of the Queen Mother, and also the aging and graying of the Queen herself. After that realization I didn’t think much about her, other than the occasional “my grandmother danced before her before she was queen” story.

 

Then came Diana Spencer, and suddenly the whole world was “all up in” the royal family’s business. Every move Diana made was photographed, reported, and analyzed. And to me, there seemed to be a number of coincidences between myself and herself.

 

We both married older men, in fact, they are close in age, although Diana was younger than me. Our weddings took place in 1981, and our first-borns arrived in 1982; and our second-borns in 1984. I even fantasized a bit about how my daughters were the same age as the princes, and how could I get them to meet each other?

 

There were dolls of Princess Di, copies of her jewelry, imitations of her clothes, and many women walking around sporting various successful and unsuccessful versions of her hairstyle. It was a media circus, maybe the most intense one to that date – coinciding with the growth of technology, 24-hour news, and the internet.

 

There was trouble in the palace around the same time there was trouble in my own home. Both troubles involved an older former love. Both troubles hinted that “former” was not really an accurate description. Divorce was on the table for all of us.

 

On August 31, 1997, my life was a mess – mid-divorce and trying to determine where my children and I would end up. I was returning from a car dealership after seeing if I could trade in my 9-year-old van for something newer. When traffic slowed in front of me, I began to change lanes and got hit. Yes, I had a car accident the same day as Princess Di. Of course, the coincidence didn’t resonate until later that night and the next day. I survived, she did not.

 

Months and years of questions, conspiracy theories, and rumors persisted about her death. Charles was hounded and questioned about his conduct. Her boys marched stoically behind her coffin. And the Queen fell in popularity until she finally showed that she understood her subject’s grief.

It would take a while, but Charles would re-marry, the boys would grow up and also marry. Yes, the same story at my end of the world. The Queen seemed to soften and take her grandsons under her wing. My children also sought refuge with their grandmother. But, for all of us, damage had been done. Harry and Megan would flee the royal spotlight, and to my sorrow, it appears that a distance has formed between the two princes.  My mother’s heart hurts as I see the same kind of distance forming between my own children.

 

Of course, it’s not like we are some royalty worrying about whether we could ever sit on the throne, or what royal jewelry worn on the wrong occasion would cause a scandal. But finding myself hitting similar speedbumps in the road has sharpened my understanding of the highs and lows of life. Troubles are out there, sometimes bursting like fireworks, and there is no rhyme or reason to why one person gets burned and another does not. Whether you are responsible for just yourself or an entire country; joy, sadness, and unforeseen turns will lay on the path in front of you. Sometimes you just have to straighten your crown and manage the best you can. 

 

Farewell, Queen Elizabeth.

 

 

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

I am looking for your story!

 AATH Humor Academy Project

"Disaster Laughter" How Today’s Disasters Can Become Tomorrow’s Funny Stories

 All it took was ONE Brussel sprout, and a troublesome "Tomato."


below is a sample of the kind of stories I am looking for, click on the link at the bottom for more information!

 

 

 Once Upon A Brussel Sprout


Disaster is an interesting word. Look it up in the Merriam Webster dictionary and you get this:

 

1 : a sudden calamitous event bringing great damage, loss, or destruction natural disasters

2 : someone or something that is very bad, such as,

a : someone or something that is extremely unsuccessful: The wedding reception was a complete disaster.

b : someone or something that has a very bad effect or result: The new coach was a disaster for the team.

 

A huge range from calamitous to unsuccessful. Starting from the top – there is very little humor to be found at this level, although history has shown that laughing in the face of some horrible experiences sometimes helped make the difference between life and death.

 

The second definition is where most of the stories in the book originate. Something unsuccessful, inconvenient, embarrassing – something from which you can create a “bounce-back” or “get-even-with-life” story that grows funnier with the telling.

 

If the success of America’s Funniest Home Videos is any indication, many of these tales involve physical mishaps, close calls, and “glad it wasn’t me” moments. Growing up, my family collected such stories like some collect stamps, storing them in our mental loose-leaf binders for just the right time to share.

 

One such story is the “One Brussel Sprout” story. It is possible that we have strung together several Thanksgiving disasters to form this narrative – there may even be something else remembered with the next telling.

 

For many years, my mother and her brother took turns hosting Thanksgiving. My sisters and I loved going to my uncle’s house. My aunt’s family was jovial, there were other kids to play with, and with alcohol flowing freely, we knew there could be a “story” to tell later.

 

It came to pass, that on one Thanksgiving, my mother was in the mood to imbibe, but not to eat. Attempts were made to entice her to eat a little something. That little something was one Brussel sprout. Further enticement encouraged her to have a little something from the antipasto plate, and she seized a cherry tomato and popped the entire thing into her mouth. Looking back, we see this happen in slow motion, my mother grabbing the tomato and my aunt rising from her chair, saying the words “no-o-o-o-o! That’s a hot pepper!” But it was too late. The pepper exploded in my mother’s mouth, reaching every corner. Spitting it out into a napkin did nothing to put out the fire. So technically, she had made an attempt, but had really only eaten one brussel sprout. That was the end of food but not the continuing of alcohol consumption.

 

As the night came to an end, my aunt packed up leftovers for us to take home. For some reason my mother became enamored of the strawberry short cake that was left. She insisted on carrying it, lightly covered to not ruin the clouds of whipped cream on top. My uncle helped her into her fur coat and handed her the cake as she began to descend the outside steps going down to the driveway.

 

One step – no problem. Second step - a little wobble. Third step – complete loss of balance. In a brave effort to save the cake, my mother clutched it to her chest, as her feet left the pavement, and she began to roll sideways down the hill next to the steps. Each roll caused her face to go right smack into the cake. At the bottom of the hill she lay, flat on her back, face covered in whipped cream, and the remains of strawberries and cake adorning the entire front of her coat. It looked like a scene from an Agatha Christie book – The Strawberry Shortcake Murder.

 

We did not laugh then, as everyone rushed to assist. Miraculously, the cake was a great protector, and no injuries were incurred. There was a long process of cake removal, the making of excuses that the steps were faulty, until we could hold back no longer. Once one of the adults began to describe and mime my mother rolling down the hill clutching the cake to her face, we all roared. The story became family legend, retold on many Thanksgivings. And when my mother passed — and again years later, her brother — it was this story, and others like it, that helped us laugh through our tears.

©2022 Noreen Braman

 

 

Read more about my project, and how you  can contribute your story, here.

Saturday, September 3, 2022

A Warning from 2011

 Originally Posted 2-11- 2011

The miscarriage I experienced in 1983 is one of the most devastating experiences of my life. I remember sitting in my rocking chair, holding my toddler daughter, both of us rocking and crying. I remember a former boss, upon meeting my husband in town, saying to him "well you didn't want another baby this soon, anyway, did you?" Until now, I thought that was most insensitive, thoughtless and hurtful thing that could be said to anyone going through such a loss. I can not believe that if an ignorant legislator from Georgia has his way, that women in his state who lose babies will actually have to endure an "investigation" into whether or not the miscarriage happened "naturally." In affect, he wants to create Uterus Police who will invade your HIPPA-guaranteed privacy, insult your intelligence and question your motives and health status. And if those Uterus Police decide that your loss did not occur "naturally," that you will be charged with "fetal murder."

Of course this is an obvious attempt to reveal to the ultraconservatives who in their community may or may not have had an abortion - a way for them to get their hands on Federally-protected information and further their anti-abortion agenda. This legislation is a disgusting affront to women, no matter what one's views of abortion are, and most likely it will never be passed into law. However, the fact that anyone could even propose such barbaric legislation in itself should be a crime.

Monday, April 18, 2022

NAPOWRIMO April 18, 2022


 

Calendar Girl


Appointments, notes, quotes, stickers-

fountain pen, highlighter, marker, crayon-

tools of the trade of a calendar girl

who chronicles life in tactile expression.

Doodles, books, calligraphy-

creativity entwined with poetry-

decorated details of daily tasks

as much art as record keeping.

  ©2022 Noreen Braman



Sunday, April 10, 2022

NAPOWRIMO April 10,2022


 Late Bloomer

late bloomers and overnight sensations

share the same story

working and working and working and working

treading water, eyes on the shoreline

watching the lights of their dreams twinkle.

keeping alive this thought in their hearts,

one day it will fall into place

as if all those years of

working and working and working and working

suddenly compressed.

 ©2022 Noreen Braman


NAPOWRIMO April 9, 2022 Poem-Mania

 


Poem-mania 

 It was verse vs. verse,

rhyming couplets staring down lyrical prose

in the annual Spring write-off,

competing for dominance

in a world of hasty poetry,

standing naked and unfinished

devoid of revisions,

drowning in unnecessary words

incomplete thoughts,

and the shame of missed days.

©2022 Noreen Braman


Wednesday, April 6, 2022

NAPOWRIMO 2022 April 6 Birthday Eve

 


Birthday Eve


the undone will remain

more dream than desire

more wishing that work

more fantasy than fact

more end than beginning.

©2022 Noreen Braman

NAPOWRIMO April 5, 2022 The Silent Poem

 The Silent Poem



Monday, April 4, 2022

NAPOWRIMO 2022 APRIL 4 Revenge Sleep

 


Revenge Sleep


At 10 PM, the house softens, edges blur, and colors fade

the dimming light, the goodnight kiss, the smell of just washed pillows

feel the slowing heart, the gentle breath, cool sheets caress skin

eyes softly close as the mind relaxes, lowering attention

releasing the anxiety held at bay in the daylight

the visceral clench in the stomach pit, the fear that has no name

in the darkness the morning light is dreaded, sleeping brings it closer

count down the numbers, exhaling slowly, bringing oblivion or nightmares

until dawn arrives with a gasp, count the numbers up, inhaling deeply

for as long as it takes to recage the fear 

as the sun rises high

keeping revenge sleep many hours away.

 ©2022 Noreen Braman



Sunday, April 3, 2022

NAPOWRIMO April 3 Working On It

 


 

Working On It

The work of work

can sometimes work out

but often won't work

no matter how much one works

to finish the work,

because working even harder

is often seen as hardly working

no matter how much workers

can work into the picture.

©2022 Noreen Braman


Friday, April 1, 2022

NAPOWRIMO 2022 APRIL 1

 Here we are again, on the doorstep of the cruelest month, a month of poetry, a month of humor, a month of stress awareness, and most likely a multitude of other designations. Once more I will attempt to juggle all these things, making sense or making nonsense, what matters is continuing the tradition. Fasten your seatbelts.



Commuter Notes

finally sunshine

no more morning star

to wink over the road

illuminating a ground hog -

a ground hog, poor thing,

motionless on the shoulder, 

cars hustling past, paying no mind

but wait

it is just a lifeless crushed up box.

later

a streamer of black plastic garbage bag

water bottle, dirty diaper,

blanketed horses staring blankly

a pun to amuse the driver

who has no idea

a dead skunk in the parking lot

will become

the stench of symbolic retribution.

 ©2022 Noreen Braman