Monday, September 5, 2011

Name Game

Did you ever look up your name on Google just for the heck of it? Depending on how common your surname is, there are bound to be at least a few other individuals listed.

As you know, I have the last name of Johnson, so even with the rather different first name of Anita, I expected to see a number of ladies so named. I wasn't thrilled to see that my name is defined in the urban dictionary as a woman in need of sex! I had been introduced to someone a while ago and he laughed when he heard my name but at least was gracious enough not to explain why. Well, obviously his manners weren't that great since he laughed.

I then limited my search to Anita M. Johnson and found that I could view her criminal records in seconds. Another listing showed a person with that name had recentlly died. I found all three listings to be quite depressing but then did see some smiling faces with that name on Facebook. Not one of them appears to be either a sexual savage, behind bars or dead.

Shakespeare's Juliet said, "What's in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet." Or in the words of Popeye, "I yam what I yam."

If you can't judge a book by its cover, I guess you can't judge a person by her name. Thank goodness for that.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

An Unexpected Adventure

About a month ago, my wonderful and funny friend, Cathy, asked if her readers have pen pals. I was happy to report that I did in fact have one although I've been told recently that the correct term is "virtual friend."

Ruth and I met on GoodReads and have been emailing each other for almost a year now. We decided to actually meet in Washington DC and stay at the home of her sister, another GoodReads friend. We shared so many laughs, talking about everything from books to family and just about anything imaginable.

The three of us were all interested in seeing the new Museum of Crime and Punishment -- they reportedly show how CSI is made -- and went there on Tuesday. We had been there only a few minutes and had just looked at the documents on Timothy McVeigh and the Oklahoma City Bombing when the floor shook pretty violently and there was a loud rumbling as if a big train was passing beneath us. There was always a chance this was some really realistic simulation, maybe a scared straight tactic, but then the lights went out and a blood curdling cry rang out. The lights came back on and a very frightened employee tried to usher us out and told us, "We might be having an earthquake." We couldn't get out that way and were redirected to another exit. Most of us were feeling beyond relief to just be outside and to know that that this was not a terroristic attack but one man stood there, demanding that he be reimbursed for his ticket.

We spent a couple of hours standing in the sun outside Union Station with throngs of people since all the buildings in the area had been evacuated. Many of these individuals had been there on September 11th, almost 10 years ago, and this, I'm sure, was an eery deja vu experience for them.

A few hours after it all started, we were grateful to be relaxing at home, watching reports of the earthquake and the havoc it wreaked on various buildings, including the Washington Monument and Union Station.

This was a wonderful trip for me, giving me the long anticipated opportunity to meet my lovely friend and her wonderful family. It was also a wake-up call to appreciate the peace we experience every day. I really don't mind that we missed out on seeing the other exhibits at the museum but I just might write to them to request a refund.

Pax vobiscum or "peace be with you" for those who didn't have to translate Latin in high school and those of us who had to look it up because we couldn't remember the exact wording!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


It has been forever since I shared any thoughts here and that's due in part to my spending every spare minute either playing Scrabble on-line, reading, or sneezing at the pollen. I guess I'm not a "real writer" since I haven't felt compelled to put everything I think in print. Instead I go around the house and in the car, belting out screechy poems that I make up on the spot and that crack me up and make the cat fear for her life.

I have recently succumbed to my sister's suggestion to try to expand my world and have some fun. That translates to: Stop playing Scrabble and reading so much and get out there and meet someone. Hah! Books are a much safer bet. If I don't like one, I immediately stop reading and bring it back to the library. If I'm not winning at Scrabble, I quit the game and start a new one. You can see how patient I would be with meeting men.

I heard about Senior People Meet, an on-line dating site, and after telling myself there is no way on this earth at my age -- just turned the decrepit age of 64 :) -- that I would even consider doing such a thing, I signed up "for free." That must be the phoniest come-on line since "What's your sign?" I answered a couple of questions about myself but did not inclulde a photo. I was immediately informed that I was sure to find oodles of wonderful partners with my specifications: a widower within approximately a five-year range and five mile radius. Rather limited, I agree, but what the heck, they asked me what I wanted.

The site also told me to get started on my new adventure right away by paying for the first three months. Whoe, what happened to "free"? So I put in a note to please disregard any profile info they had on me since I did not want to participate. And then they sent me the first batch of potential new friends. Dating sites are not good listeners, also made clear by the individuals selected for me. One man, who is probably a lot of fun as he was obviously hoping to appear with martini in hand, was posted as being 73, a good five years older that requested, although I think he lied and is closer to 103.

The notes keep coming to post my picture and pay my money. And the pictures of eligible men keep coming. I realize now that my vocabulary and theirs are very different. Does "legally separated" qualify as eligible? And how by any map do Brunswick and Savannah fall into my local area when they are six hours away without heavy traffic? They do send profiles of some very nice looking and interesting sounding people -- who are a good 10 years younger than I. A crazy lady I may be -- a cougar I am not (I don't think).

I have to say I admire people who will subject themselves to the comments and barbs by cowards such as myself and are willing to "flirt" with someone they've never seen. I wish them all well and hope they meet lovely women.

Yesterday, I was helping a nice woman whom I would judge to be my age or a smidge older find some travel books and we chatted as we looked for them. She told me that she and her husband were celebrating their anniversary by going on a trip. I asked what number it was, assuming it was probably around their 40th, and she answered that they've been married eight years. They were both widowed and met on They had lived just a few short miles away from each other. She looked really content. I guess that showed me a thing or three!

For now, I think I'll just keep meeting wonderful, dashing guys in my books and be stimulated by a challenging game of Scrabble. Don't knock it.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Little Things -- for Better or Worse

Too many of my musings revolve around the weather -- how un-creative is that! I feel almost guilty sitting here with the door to my porch open and enjoying 60'sh weather while my friend in New York braved 9 degrees a couple of days ago to go to an exercise class. I think my skin would turn blue just looking out the window at that -- she obviously is a much more disciplined and committed person than moi. Spring-like weather also makes me ramble and ramble and ...

While at work the other day, I found a little thank you note in my cubby that a former supervisor had sent me after a party held for her when she left our library system. The woman was usually very buttoned-up, opinionated, likely to scream when she felt the urge and told you exactly what she thought.

She has another side, a very kind and caring one. The short note spoke volumes to me about her true personality and not just by her words. I happen to like blank notecards because I have big, awful handwriting and hate having to swiggle around the printed generic sentiment and always end up going to the back of the card. I used to put little arrows pointing to the back flap but have figured out that the recipient probably would turn the page to see who sent it to them. Duh! As I already said, I ramble. She used a blank card and instead of writing on the left side and then the right, she wrote straight across both sides. She wasn't going to be held back by margins or centerfolds to express her feelings which were beautifully articulated. I have never thought of treating the inside of a card as one sheet of paper but for someone like me who is either forced to write very small or to only be able to fit five words on one side, it makes perfect sense. Eureka!

So, I was sitting at the front desk at work, feeling warm and fuzzy and thinking about how little things can mean a lot. Then a woman came up to me with a book that she had put down in "just a little bit of water" to which I told her there would be a little bit of a fee, $19.99, since the book was destroyed. She was horrified, beligerant, outraged and all those adjectives which means she was not pleased. Her husband seemed to understand my point, and my supervisor's when she came as back-up, and did his best to rush her out. Poor guy. We have so many really lovely customers that you have to just dismiss the mean ones.

Then one of our regular customers who resembles Bauregard Lee, the groundhog, came by the desk and threw (literally) a small picture at me and mumbled something. When I said, excuse me? he snapped "It was in a book." It was nice of him to return a little girl's picture that someone had apparently used as a bookmark and had forgotten but his clear message was that we are so negligent that we don't find items left in materials returned to us. And some of those items that we have found over the years have been interesting ones: a bra, used diapers (when our drop box was near the street and people mistook it for a trash can), a jail release form with the man's picture in his orange suit, baptismal and First Holy Communion certificates and countless other things that don't belong to us.

Well, it is time to go to work and see who will be lovely and who will be ugly today. I have coworkers who check to see if we are going to have a full moon to predict the general attitude climate. Not me. Spring is in the air here, at least at the moment, the daffodil leaves are shooting up and the pollen has not yet blanketed us in green. It is a lovely day.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Is Spring Really Here?

Did the groundhog see his shadow? I've had enough of winter and am so happy we're having spring days although they might be teasers. It's cool enough to hang onto my turtlenecks and sweaters but warm enough to read on the porch and enjoy being outside.

February was always the yuckiest month in my opinion -- cold, gray and no hint of spring being on its way. Then in 1972 I met my husband, 40 years ago yesterday in fact, so it took on a different aura. When we were still up north, I lost my voice for about a week every February. I don't remember my family clapping during those periods but they may have.

Stan's sister Grace lost her husband February 18th last year (the same day my real mother died in 1962), so we went out on Friday for lunch and shopping and had a really good day. We agree acceptance is a wonderful thing! Then, today, she brought her sister, Janet from NY, also a widow, to my house and we had such good conversations. It was one of the best times I've had with them and made me grateful to have good in-laws. You know what they say about not being able to pick your family and the same goes for not being able to pick your husband's family.

I just finished a book about family, set in Ireland (surprise, surprise for me!), Civil and Strange, and I can't begin to write or pronounce the author's Gaelic name. It was a little different from my normal chick lit -- more like a modern classic -- but I really liked it. The title is taken from advice given to Ellen, the main character, by her Uncle Matt when she moves to his small town, "Be civil and strange," meaning be polite but don't tell anyone your personal business. Of course, the nosy snoops find it all out anyway, usually fairly incorrectly, but it makes for a good story and a good study on human nature.

Think Spring, laugh a lot and keep writing. I love reading your blogs.

Sunday, January 9, 2011


The snow (and ice and sleet) is here. If you didn't hear about its impending arrival on the radio or television where it was reported every few minutes, you could tell by the shelves in the grocery store where there was not one container of milk, any kind or size, except buttermilk and that doesn't count. Apparently, bread was all sold out yesterday but the bakery was really busy this morning so at least people could have fresh five grain loaves and some other varieties.

A friend from Ohio once told me that every time snow was predicted she would notice people stocking up on toilet paper. We're in Georgia and it seems strange that people would think we could possibly be marooned long enough to go through more than a couple of 12-packs of Charmin. There appeared to be plenty there today so I guess someone will be happy.

I've lived outside Atlanta for over 25 years and have seen some major snow storms but they are rare. The pretty white blanket usually covers a couple of inches of ice and can be very scary and gruesome to drive on, especially once the sun has set which it does long before almost anyone leaves work. I try not to budge beyond the mailbox until snow is only on the lawn and trees and the only ice I see is in a glass. Of course, this is good news, at least to me, since I'll just have to snuggle with my furry Ambi, read, play Scrabble on-line and drink lots of hot chocolate. Rats!!! Of course, I won't be happy and cozy if we lose power which could last forever (3 days).

Everyone from the north probably has fond and not so fond snow memories. The February day I moved in with my cousins is a fond one. Four year-old Margi whose cheeks were as red as her snowsuit was pulling her five year-old sister Gracie on a sled and, as soon as she saw me, screamed, "She's here!" I guess she was the lookout. I remember noticing that a wheelbarrow planter on the lawn had a name plate with "SNOW" on it. My aunt told me the kids would always turn it around from "MONS" to confuse the mailman.

When we lived outside Philadelphia, we saw a lot of snow and sleet. One particular evening, the roads were a sheet of ice as my husband nervously traveled home from work several miles on the Schuykil Expressway. He said it was made even worse because the radio station kept replaying "Slip Sliding Away" by Simon and Garfunkle.

We will soon see what the winter of 2011 bestows on us but I hope we get to view a beautiful scene like those on the Christmas cards we received from the comfort of our homes. I hope my boss doesn't read this blog although I know she has figured out by now that I am not exactly the adventurous type. May you have many fond snow memories.