Greek American Stories: Change and Changing

(AP Photo/John Locher, File)

By Phyllis “Kiki” Sembos

A lot of changes have occurred. Life, sure, has changed. I used to feel pride that I, finally, had a typewriter – a Remington. Now, I wonder how I tolerated the darn thing that I sold for twenty bucks. I mean, changing the ribbon, using white-out,going through stacks of paper rewriting until I got it right – it was all very tiresome. Now, I have a computer, thanks to my son-in-law who also taught me how to use it and be practical about it. But, the language is something I still can’t get used to. My mind falls back to what some words used to mean.

A few examples: An “application” was something I filled out for a job. A “program” was a TV show or a paper handed me before a play. A “cursor” was someone who used profanity. A “keyboard” was a piano. A “CD” was a bank account. “Log on” was tossing another wood in the fireplace. “Backup” happened to your commode. You “pasted” with glue. A “web” was a spider’s home. A “virus” was what was going around. A “mouse” was a little critter my cat caught. “Memory” was something you lost when you got old. “Hard Drive” was a long trip getting home in traffic. If you had a 3 ½ inch “floppy disc,” you hoped nobody found out.Or you made an appointment with the chiropractor. “Compress” was something you did to the recycling stuff, not what you do to a file.

God help me when I forget to “save” what I’m writing. And, I’ve done that a few times because the “memory”button in my head isn’t as effective as the button on the computer. I’ve had my computer for a long while now but I still call my grandson, Nicko, to ask for his help. “Nicko! What happened to my article for The National Herald? It disappeared.” There’d be a pause, a sigh and then, “Yiayia! Did you press the “save button?” I’m pretty sure I did! “No, you didn’t! Trust me! You didn’t!”  (Sigh!) I swear I did! But, it’s no use arguing. So, I just had to rewrite it all and hope I remember what I wrote in the first place. I stare at the keys.Maybe I should have pressed“paste” or “cut” or….I wonder what that key does!

That brings me to another subject of changes. There are situations that I never encountered when I was a kid. Of course, that was when Dolly Madison was leaving office. But, these new situation changes that happen only in America are so vivid and so extremelyimpractical. Only in America do people order double cheeseburgers with a large carton of fries and – a diet Coke. Only in America do drugstores make the sick people walk to the very back of the pharmacy for our prescriptions. Only in America you’ll see a handicap parking area in front of a skating rink. Only in America do I see expensive cars parked in driveways and the garages stuffed to the rafters with junk. Only in America do home owners pay for landscapers when a high school kid would do it for half the price.

I may never become the author I’ve dreamed of being though I’d been trying for decades. And, no one will ever convince me that my stories aren’t worth reading, either. But, I take heart when I read about people who had been failures but succeeded later in their lives, people who, with belief in themselves, changed all our lives. Einstein was four years old before he could speak. Then, he didn’t excel in school.

Beethoven’s music teacher once said, “As a composer, he’s hopeless.” Michael Jordan was cut out from his high school basketball team as was Bob Cousy. A newspaper editor fired Walt Disney, because he “lacked imagination and the guy has no good ideas.” Thomas Edison’s teacher told him he was too stupid to learn anything. Isaac Newton did poorly in school and was considered, “unpromising.”Life sure changed for all of them. And, most of all, those changes changed all our lives for the better. So, I continue sending in queries and hope that one day, some day, a publisher will change my life by accepting one of my manuscripts. I remember something my pop told me, once; the only things certain in life are“change.”