Sunday, January 1, 2012

Ch … Ch… Ch… Ch… Changes

Today is Sunday, January 1st, 2012. It’s the start of a new week, a new month and a new year. Wow.
The start of the New Year brings with it changes in the Steinberg household that have been the cause of some angst in the past few weeks.
Nothing serious, mind you, but occasion for thought and wonderment.
After almost 2½ years there, I decided in late November to leave my volunteer job as a writing projects specialist at JobLink, the City of Alexandria’s one-stop career center.
The decision actually caught me a bit off guard. I hadn't planned on leaving, but I knew I was becoming more and more interested in fundraising.
To my surprise, while perusing the “want ads” for volunteers, I saw a request from a local non-profit for development (fundraising) help, including working on grants. I have strongly desired for the past five years or so, to learn grant writing. So I inquired about the volunteer position.
Long story short, I start the new position/internship on Tuesday.
Having been at JobLink for more than two years though, I concede that I am a bit nervous about the new position. Since it will largely be a learning experience for me, I find myself treating it as though I were starting at new school. 
Will the “other kids” like me? Will I be able to manage the work? What do I wear on my first day? These questions have been dogging me since I was “accepted” to volunteer. (Yes, I had an interview for the job….)
I’ll be working at the new organization – Liberty’s Promise ( – two days a week, five hours a day, covering the lunch hour. Naturally, being the foodie I am, the big question on my mind has been, “What happens at lunchtime?”
It seems that to keep costs in check, the staff brings their lunch. OK. I’m down with that. I love cooking and I know that I have greater control over the general healthiness of what I eat if I make my meals at home.
So that’s all squared away, but back to being the kid at school…
I want to look “cool” so what to bring my lunch in?  
And, I should add that Gary’s starting the New Year with a new lunch bag too. He’s admitted to being a little uptight about parting ways with the lunch bag he’s used for the last four years or so, which he got at a yard sale…
These are our options: 


So who uses what? 

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The End of the Innocence

"Everybody's innocent in here. Didn't you know that?”
                                          ~ Andy Dufresne, The Shawshank Redemption

I’ve been called for jury duty and will find out later this week whether or not I have to serve. I not averse to serving, but now is not the best time, so I’m trying to figure out how to get out of it. I thought I might say that my personal mantra is “Hang ‘em high” and see where that gets me.
Seriously though, thinking about jury duty takes me back….
When I interviewed for what would later become my job as a general assignment reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY, I was asked if I had any court reporting experience.
Let me stipulate (Woohoo! Check out that legalese!) that by court reporting, I do not mean stenography. 
I have a cousin who is a “court reporter,” but trust me, she wasn't nearly as lucky as me. I got to hang out with the scum of the earth. Aren't you jealous? 
But I digress….
Prior to joining the Gazette staff, I’d had limited legal reporting experience, but what few stories I’d written for my weekly paper had been significant. Towards the end of a highly publicized murder trial in which the defendant was a police officer, I filled in for our court reporter who was very pregnant. It was decided that there was enough drama in the courtroom without Alice going into labor, so I was sent to cover closing arguments, the verdict (guilty!) and the sentencing.
For someone who’d been hooked on “Law & Order” forever (and still is), it was very exciting. 
Those stories helped secure me the assignment of covering the courts when I moved to the daily paper. In addition, I went to the county jail every day to check the arrest log to see if there were any interesting cases to write up.
For security’s sake, to get into the jail from the parking lot, you had to cross a wide courtyard before reaching the front door.
Now, it stands to reason that in the course of about two years covering the jail, which was run by the sheriff’s office, I got to know some the deputies who worked there rather well.
One day, I was crossing the courtyard when one of my more “favorite” deputies came out of the building and began walking towards me. Thinking I was being clever (You really think he hadn't heard this one before?), I said, “I didn't do it!”
The joke was on me….
The deputy looked at me with amusement and frustration and said, “Y’know, Daphne, just once I wish someone would say, ‘I did do it!’”

Written for The Writers’ Post Weekly Blog Hop #25. Theme: Innocence

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

A Tisket. A Tasket. Surprise, An Open Casket!

“I’m not afraid of death, I just don’t want to be there when it happens.” 
                                                                       ~Woody Allen

I've made some bad choices in my life, but I can only think of one that repeatedly comes back to “haunt” me.
In the late 1990s I worked at a weekly newspaper in lower Westchester County, NY. It was a small paper, but a formidable one. Indeed, for local news, we couldn’t be beat. If there was something important going locally, we were on top of it.
As the sole reporter for two beats, which in this case meant two towns and all that came with them from schools to crime to town government, human interest and more, if something important happened I was on top of it.
With a writing staff of … hang on… two, I was the consummate “general assignment” reporter. One day I might cover a school board meeting only to find myself writing about a murder trial, a construction project or a wedding the next day.
So, after learning that a dearly beloved local priest had died, I was “on the case” when my editor dispatched me to a funeral home to pick up information for his obituary.
An aside: Strange as it may sound, I've always thought it would be a great honor to write obits. After all, on some level, it’s the last story that’s ever going to be written about the deceased. Wow. And to think that I wrote it… .
Well, I wasn't going to be writing this one, but I liked my editor and always wanted to be involved in “the story,” so I had no problem being the messenger service.
I drove over to the funeral home, went into the office and got the press release announcing Father Attridge’s death.
Whoa. Sorry. Make that Monsignor Attridge. He’d been elevated not long before he passed away.
I was working at the paper when it was announced that he was being made a monsignor. That was big news. I mean this guy had a serious fan base. It’s said that 5,000 people attended his funeral. Wow!
So I’m leaving the funeral home office after picking up his bio and I see this long line snaking around the corner out of some nearby room. I’m not sure how I missed the line when I went in. I must have been pretty focused on picking up the paperwork I was there to get.
Well, I’m curious by nature. That’s why I became a journalist, after all. So I can’t let a question: “What are these people standing in line for?” go unanswered. What harm can it do if I take a peek, eh?
I walked alongside the line up to the point where I saw it disappear and craned my neck around the corner. To my surprise and horror, what did I see? None other than Monsignor Attridge, in full regalia, lying in state.
Though at that point in my life I’d attended a few funerals, I had never seen an open “occupied” casket. Caught completely off guard, it was all I could do not to scream out loud.
Reflecting on the situation later that day, it was all I could do not to laugh out loud. 
After all, what did I think people were lined up for at a funeral home? The refreshment stand, perhaps?

Written for The Writers’ Post weekly blog hop #24. Theme: Your Choice!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

I Am Thankful ...

Inspiring and inspired writing, like the work I see here on a regular basis.

Another blogging “challenge” that drives me to stretch myself artistically.
My husband, whose presence in my life has changed it immeasurably.

Technology that has helped me learn, grow and become a better person.
Home and the feeling of security I get knowing it’s always there for me.
Acquaintances who have developed into supportive allies and partners.
New occasions daily to live life to its fullest.
Knowledge I can share with and gather from all who surround me.
Family, friends and the myriad opportunities to connect and reconnect.
Urges that move me to tap my creativity, for better or for worse.
Love and laughter, after all, what’s life without them?

For all this and much more, I am thankful.

Written for BFF Inspiration #143. Theme: What I’m Thankful For

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Loose Lips...

When was the last time you said something and then immediately afterwards thought, “Oh my God! Did those words really just leave my mouth?”
Looking back, it seems my body was mapping out my future with Gary before my brain and heart got on board. Talk about a lesson in biological priorities…
We’d only been dating about a month or two, I’d say, and were still really getting to know each other, when Gary mentioned to me that he played poker once a month with some guys from his neighborhood. It sounded kind of fun to me, having never played, and I wanted to know more.
What I’d come to find out in short order was that the game’s two key features were the low stakes (nickel-dime-quarter) and the absence of women. This get-together was boys only, thank you very much.
That, I thought, was unfortunate, because I would have liked to have gotten to know the guys and perhaps even played a hand or two, not that I knew anything about poker… I couldn't have known then that the “no women” rule would be relaxed after we got married and I would, in fact, be invited to join in. At that time, I was going to have to be content as an observer.
So be it. After all, I liked what I heard about the game and its participants. I especially liked hearing stories about Chuck, a retired race car driver.
The closest Gary will get to driving a race car.... 
Chuck, it seems, had more than a few cars in his driveway/garage. I don’t know anything about cars, but I know I enjoy looking at them. I especially like Porsches. On the understanding that they pack quite a punch under the hood, I think they’re just “adorable.”
Yeah, I know. That’s not a very “manly” description. Sue me…
In the course of conversation Gary told me that Chuck primarily raced Porsches. No way! Now I really wanted to meet this guy, who, it turns out, was also a Marine. Kinda fits, no?
So here was I with this ridiculously romantic notion of Chuck , the race driver, in my head and one day Gary tells me that Chuck is prepared to sell him a Porsche for a mere few thousand bucks. You’d think I’d have jumped at the chance, right?
Not. So. Much.
In my wildest dreams, I never expected to hear what came next.
“I don’t think so, Honey,” I said, “It’s not a family car!”

Written for The Writers’ Post weekly blog hop #23. Theme: Priorities