Author Archives: rjdmroman

About rjdmroman

Vietnam Vet, Father of four, retired Quality Control Manager, and author of Marble Mountain Memoirs.

The Perfect Day

     On the perfect day, I’ll wake to the soothing sound of a birdsong outside

my window at dawn.  I’ll open my eyes, I’ll remember that it isn’t a work day;

no appointments or meetings or schedules to keep, no hustle and bustle.

     Before I am completely awake, I feel the warmth of my best friend lying next to

me, sleeping silently, contented.  I wake her with kisses, and we go out to our

deck and enjoy our favorite morning  cup, and the symphony at our feet.

     Afterwards, with nothing pressing, I’ll slide comfortably into

my easy chair, open my favorite novel, and devour the story.  I’ll be in a secret

world well into the afternoon.

     Putting down my book, I’ll see that my daughter has come into the

room, carrying my grandson, She’ll put him down next to me, and he’ll climb

onto my lap, give me a bear hug, and plant a big ‘ole wet one square on my cheek.

     After lunch, It’ll be off to my quiet space for a bit of meditation, where I

return to a place of serenity, deep inside.

     Afterwards, we’ll be back out on the deck, watching the sun hanging lazily in an

azure sky. Birds will continue their song, reminding me of the

interconnectedness of all creatures. There I’ll remain entranced by a

multicolored sunset, calling me to count my blessings.

     When nighttime’s allure finally beckons me to sleep, I’ll reach over to turn off

the bedroom light, and once again feel the love and security of my soul mate lying

beside me. Then I’ll smile to myself, knowing that today was that perfect day.

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Deus Ex Machina?

After Sunday services, Jack, Sam and I went to our favorite Indian restaurant for brunch and some friendly banter. After an hour or so of swapping light-hearted anecdotes of family and friends, we became mindful of our surroundings, and conversation inevitably turned to Eastern spirituality.  Just then the check came, and I signed the credit card receipt.

“Hey Bob, I didn’t know you were a lefty.  You do know that we southpaws are in our right minds.”  “Funny you should mention that Jack, because it reminds me of a story about this guy who had the entire left side of his body surgically removed.  “No kidding”, said the other two in unison.  “Yeah, but he’s all right now.”  Forcing a half-smile, they rolled their eyes as if to say, “Duh! Got me!”

Finishing our tea, I brought up the subject of puns.  Jack was quick to add, “I don’t even know the correct definition of a pun.”  Sam asked: “Isn’t it where two words sound the same but have different meanings? “No, I think that’s a homophone, but I’ll double-check to be sure.”

Holding up my cell phone, smiling, I said, “Isn’t technology great?  With a couple pushes of a button, I can tap into the sum total of humanity’s recorded history right here in my hand.  Thank God for Google!  Well, let’s see: Oh, here it is!  I can’t believe this.  Listen!”

Pun. Noun,      The humorous use of a word or phrase, so as to emphasize or suggest 

                         its different meanings, for example; A man had the entire left side of his body

                         surgically removed, but he’s all right now.”

Jack and Sam looked at each other, shaking their heads, as if to say “He’s got to be making it up.”  So I held the phone up for each to read it, to their amazement.

Do you believe in things that are beyond coincidence?  I do. You just can’t make this stuff up.

Sometimes, if you really pay attention, you will see and hear things that will make any doubting Thomas a believer.

Thanksfor indulging me with my random ramblings. More to Come.

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In Your Own Back Yard

I awoke to an early-morning birdsong symphony, then held a steaming cup of coffee to my mouth, with swirling vapors escaping into the ether as I breathed in the dawn’s newness.  Looking out over the expanse of green grass and trees rolling to the hills, the sun announced its presence overhead, evaporating the last wisps of evening mist, I am overcome, by Nature’s almost sacred beauty.  It filled me with a feeling of Interconnectedness; almost as if I were awakening for the very first time.

A chipmunk scurried through the leaves, having vacuumed up his morning fill.  The polyphonic melodies of the Blue Jays, Cardinals, Finches, Mourning Doves, reminded me how intimately we all share the same space, and time.  We are every bit as much in their habitat, as they are in ours.  We may consider insects, and other “lower” forms of life as nothing more than picnic crashers or pests, but the reality is that on almost every square inch of almost every continent on Earth, the ratio of wildlife to human is astronomically mind-blowing.  And when you consider the absolutely alien nature of some of our co-inhabitants, crabs, sharks, spiders, snakes, mosquitoes, there are creepy-crawlies enough for every imagination.  Not to mention the microscopic hordes that symbiotically call our bodies home.  And among this menagerie we do somehow miraculously coexist, and will continue to do so as long as Man holds up his end of the primordial bargain, and maintains stewardship of this planet all we call home; and the jury is still out on that one!

In my contemplation, I thought of how in today’s nonstop world, most people feel outside of Nature; our language gives us away: we must conquer Nature, Everest, space, our fears, you name it!  But actually, the opposite is true, there’s nothing to conquer; we are not outside of Nature, we are an integral part of it.  We may try in vain to fence Mother Nature in or out according to our whim.  We can put up houses and fences, industries and huge monuments to our greatness, and all the while our machinations only serve to thwart Nature.  We put up all kinds of barriers, but you can see through them when you listen deeply and realize that birds are not here to entertain us with their melodies, but are either calling for a mate, or claiming his turf.  Listen closely and you can hear the call and reply, from tree to tree, nest to nest, outside of our artificial boundaries across migration paths of other animals.  Those selfsame boundaries are limited only by our imagination.

As I continued to ponder it all, my Stream of Consciousness inevitably carried me back to my immediate surroundings, and the serenity of the moment.  I caught sight of a bluebird in mid-flight, and the passing of the shadows as the sun began its slow march toward the horizon.  And as today slowly slipped into yesterday, I felt that the world had changed somehow, then realized that the only thing different was my perspective.  Everything was as it was before; my neighbor was mowing  his lawn, another washed his car, and a dog barked up the street, as always.  “Yes, we are all interconnected” I said to myself, grinning.

As my long internal dialog continued, the shadows of night approached and I found that I had spent an entire day from dawn to dusk in a state of total reverie, having witnessed life’s awakenings, its comings and goings.

With the sun’s glow fading, and evening shades growing, I slipped inside, away from the night, and closed the door on a long day.  And as I threw the deadbolt against the night, it dawned on me: such a long journey, and I never even left my own back yard.

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Great message delivered in a pleasing rhythm. Well done!

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Babel Redux by Robert Romaniello

My fortune cookie said “You are a lover of words, some day you will write a book.”

I’ve always thought about it, but never followed through on that childhood dream, but all it took was just that little nudge to make me wonder if I had what it took.  I had no experience in writing, although I had taken Linguistics and Diction classes in college (ostensibly to see if I could shake my thick Brooklyn accent), but I did love words, and was always fascinated by language, both written and spoken.  But could I write? Did I have the skills to tell a story, or did I even have a story to tell?

Before I retired, I was fortunate enough to have traveled to enough of the world to pick up a smattering of foreign languages, and while I was toying with the idea of a book in my future, thanks to the tug of inspiration I owed to that fortune cookie, the fascination with language has never left me.

Growing up in New York, I was exposed to a number of languages, such as Yiddish, German, and Italian.  After all, if America is the melting pot of the world, New York is the melting pot of America.

Nothing will give you an appreciation for language faster than traveling to a foreign country.  We take our day to day communication for granted, and then we find that we are the foreigners.  Consider that most European countries are the size of American states, it is kind of like needing to learn a second language when going from New York to New Jersey.

I remember as young man sitting on a secluded beach at sunset on the Greek island of Crete, with young backpackers from all over Europe and North America.  And as the wine was being passed, and conversation flowed someone said “Wouldn’t it be great if everyone spoke the same language?” to which someone else replied “It sure would be great if everybody spoke Italian, pointing out one of Man’s most enduring Achilles’ heels: Pride.  After all, which language is the most worthy of being the Universal Language, if there ever is one? Would you give up English?  It’s a very timely question in the US of the 21st Century

Just the idea that I can sit here and write something that is now being read and understood by you, is something of a miracle to me.  And although we in America assume that we will always be understood, that’s not always the case, even among native speakers of the same language.  For example, if I said “Coming around, what do I really mean?  There are a number of possibilities.  I could mean that a man was unconscious, but now he’s coming around.  It could mean that I invited someone over at 10:00 pm, and now that it’s almost 10, he should be coming around; or I could mean that my best friend never agrees with me on anything, but I think he’s finally coming around.  I’ve met people from the hills of Kentucky, and from the countryside of Scotland, and I didn’t understand a word they said.  How many times have you heard someone speak and didn’t understand at all, until you finally realize that they were speaking English all along?

It is a miracle that people understand each other at all.  When you consider differences in language, dialect, regionalisms, and accent, as well as influences like the differences in the language of Science, Technology, Medicine, Business, the colloquially spoken language used with family and friends, and the language of the civil affairs (courts, DMV, Congress, etc.).

And all languages evolve, reflecting the society of the native speakers of a particular language.  The Midwestern American English spoken in this country today barely resembles the one spoken in Shakespeare’s time.  And Old English is not recognizable as our native tongue at all.  With English having been subject to an onslaught of influences down the ages from German, Greek, Latin, French, and borrowings from many others, ours would be completely unrecognizable, to the British ear of the Twelfth Century.

There are some 6,000 languages spoken throughout the world today, some with billions of speakers, and some struggling for existence, with only a few thousand native speakers; languages as diverse and far-flung as Spanish and Guugu Ymithirr, and as different as Aramaic and Kuuk Thayorre.

With such a seeming mess on our hands, we seem to find ways of understanding each other.  Or do we?  Wouldn’t it be the supreme irony if, years from now, our descendants find that all wars were ultimately caused by “a failure to communicate”?

Just in case you’re wondering, my fortune cookie was right.  I did write that book.  I am proud to report that Marble Mountain Memoirs was published by Second Wind Publishing of Winston-Salem, North Carolina in 2012.

I’m Glad you stuck around through my ruminations about language.  Idle ramblings?  Random babbling? More to Come…

***

 Marble Mountain Memoirs is Robert Romaniello’s maiden sojourn into the world of Semiautobiographical War novels.

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