Monday, January 31, 2011

Dear Darlene

If I could write a letter to myself at the time I graduated high school, this is what I would write...

Dear Darlene,

You don’t know me yet, but I am you 45 years after you graduated high school.  It is only due to recent invention of a time delivery device in 2011 that I am able to reach you.  And, I am so glad for this invention because there are so many things I want to tell you.  Don’t be offended when I tell you that you will make a lot of mistakes as you travel through life.  The biggest mistakes you will make will not happen if you follow these simple rules:

Finish college…otherwise, you will quit in your junior year because you were so excited about getting out into the world on your own.  Yeah…sure you will do alright anyway, but it took you longer to get there because you had to substitute experience for that degree – year for year.  

Stay in the Methodist Church.  That Baptist guy you married never went to church with you after the wedding.  Not that there is anything wrong with the Baptist Church  – you thrived there for 22 years, which was another 19 years after the divorce, but later in life you will find yourself back in the Methodist Church and you will have your biggest spiritual growth spurt after you return to the faith of your youth.  So, you might as well stay in the church you grew up in.

Read one chapter in the Book of Proverbs each day.  Begin with Chapter 1 on the first day of the month, then follow suit.  You will mature in your faith by leaps and bounds.  Too bad you did not know that earlier in life.  I’m pretty sure it would have made a tremendous difference…  Start now…I wish I knew that 45 years ago.
Speaking of the Bible, you will find your wisdom there…read it!

Stay out of bars and don’t smoke.   But, I praise you for your decision to never do drugs…  Good girl!  Nuf said!

Don’t smoke!!!  It is nasty, your clothes stink and it can destroy your health.  You will figure that out before it does its damage, but you could save a LOT OF MONEY if you don’t start. 

Don’t marry the first good looking guy that comes along.  20 is not a spinster.  Your judgment will change for the better with maturity.  20 is not mature.

When you do marry Mr. Right, save yourself a lot of trouble and don’t divorce him – twice – because you will end up married to him a third time…for the rest of your life ~ finally happy…  You can be soooo stoopid sometimes!!!

Choose your friends carefully.  You are judged by the company you keep.

Be good to your feet.  Wear sensible shoes.  Other parts can wear out, but you need healthy feet to get about.  Especially when we are old.

Work hard and take pride in all you do.  You are not a quitter, but you will quit a couple of times before you get it right.  Keep work ethics ever in the forefront of your mind.  Work ethics will carry you farther than the average worker.  Slackers don’t get promotions.

Every morning – decide whether you will be happy or miserable – choose happy.

Consider options carefully – some decisions will save your life and others may cost you your life.  Choose carefully that you always choose life.

Don’t hate…it is just plain ugly.  Apologize quickly.  Forgive even quicker.  Always remember what Gram always said:  “It doesn’t cost a dime to be decent.”

Save like there will be a tomorrow because there will be many tomorrows in your future and you will need it.  Don’t forget to count on inflation…it’s one of those facts of life.

Credit card limits are for fools.  Don’t charge more than you can pay for at the end of the month, then pay it all.

Life is fragile – treat others in such a way that you will have no regrets if today just happens to be their last day of life.  

Life is precious.  Don’t abuse your health.  Eat right and exercise.  If I can start going to the gym at 61, you certainly can get the ball rolling at 17. 

Kiss your husband goodbye every morning.  Never part with anger between you.  Life is like vapor – then gone.  Regret lasts longer than it takes to apologize or to forgive.  Live your life like you want no regrets.

Don’t drink!!!  It is stupid to drink and you are stupid when you drink.  The good news is that you learn that lesson early on.  But it would have been better if you never took that first drink.

It’s okay to be silly sometimes, but make sure you are not being silly at inappropriate times.

Learn to like yourself sooner than later.  K?  You’ll understand this one day…

I could go on and on, but this is a letter…not a book…

One thing you did listen to….  You always treated your feet right – sensible shoes carried you far.  Just so you know how well things turn out when you listen to instruction, here’s proof…  Your feet at age 61…  

Not bad at all considering all of the dancing, walking, running, etc  that you will do in the next many years.  You may think this is stupid because you think everything is stupid, but let me tell you…it is not stupid at all because these old feet can walk a treadmill, pedal a bike and kick your butt if they invent a way for me to actually, physically travel back in time….

You think this is all too much to remember?  Well, here it is in a nutshell…Always do the right thing.  You know which decision will be the right decision because you were taught well.  Use what you were taught until you gain your own maturity.   BTW…your maturity will take a long time to get here because you thought you knew it all.  Follow the rules and you will get there earlier!

But, your (our) parents already told you all of this.  You listened to most of it and the instruction served you well … the parts you actually did right.  But, you are headstrong and willful.  These are not good traits.  These traits will get you into lots of trouble in life.  You finally learn this in about 20 years, but it would have been so much better if you had learned it earlier in life.

This letter does not even touch the tip of the iceberg.  As I said, you will make a lot of mistakes.  Your Mother told you all of this stuff, but you thought you knew more that she did.  SURPRISE!!!  As you age, your Mother will get smarter and you will ask her for advice.  You will learn that you do NOT know it all.  The mistakes will change you from a girl into a mature woman.  Life is easier when you follow the rules, but even when you don’t remember them all, just remember this...  It will all be okay in the end.  You will become the sum total of all of your decisions and experiences.  Be strong…  It will be a rough ride at times.

I tell you this because I cannot change the past, but YOU can change your future.

Lastly…keep your wonderful sense of humor because you will need it.


P.S.  You still love Doo Wop!!!  Buy all you want ~ just don't buy any 8-tracks.  You will know why later...

Friday, January 28, 2011



I stared in disbelief that day
As the shuttle Challenger was blown away
Ask the survivors, if you will
Was it worth that 74 second thrill?

Seven pioneers met their fate that day
And America, in unison, began to pray
Where was God?  What went wrong?
One dear lady wrote a song

The quest for Halley’s Comet for us to see
Is not worth the cost of seven lives to me
Please forgive me if I am wrong
But about this issue, I feel strong

Money could be better spent
If used to help the unfortunate
To solve our problems here on earth
Before we conquer the universe

Let us work together for all mankind
And leave this ugly mess behind
Believe me NASA, I feel your grief
But canceling your flights is a big relief

Don’t send any more to go and leave
Their family and friends below to grieve
What went wrong that fateful day?
We ask ourselves repeatedly

If God would answer just one prayer today
I’d pray the shuttle never went that day
But since it did, I can only pray
That all seven are in God’s arms today.

January 28, 1986…
Please dear God, help us come to grips…

By Darlene Cirinna
Written 2/2/86

I was at work that fateful day ~ my office was on the 7th floor of the State Building, downtown Orlando.  It was a cold day in Central Florida, but clear.  My co-workers and I knew we would have an excellent view of the launch from our office windows on such a beautiful day.  I wondered why NASA officials had not postponed the launch because of the freeze the night before.  It seemed like a bad wind had blown through my mind...I would not know until later why that thought bothered me so much.

Just before launch time, many of us gathered at windows to watch the shuttle launch, as we routinely did on launch days.  The lift off was the same as so many before.  I was ready to get back to work when I saw this:

When the shuttle exploded, we did not immediately understand what we had just witnessed with our own eyes.  A friend yelled..."SOMETHING IS WRONG!"  She kept saying it over and over.  That is how shocking it was to witness such a horrible sight.  Her husband worked for NASA...It was way too personal for her.  As the realization of what I had just witnessed finally sank into my mind, I was stunned into silence as tears slowly slid down my face.

I will never forget that day.  It has been 25 years today.  The vision of the tragedy in the sky will be burned in my brain forever.  The balance of the day was spent in a numb world inside my brain.  The white smoke in the sky took it's time drifting away ~ a reminder of seven lost souls each time I looked skyward...  People were unusually quiet as they went about their business.  I saw many other people glance to the sky through out the afternoon.  Sadness was registered on faces everywhere. 

I wrote the poem a few short days after the shuttle disaster.  It took me 24 long years before I shared it with anyone except for one other person who is long dead ~ 25 years and it still makes me cry to remember.  But today, I want to remember the seven people who died that day.


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


I sighed when I
Opened the book
Knowing I’d be sad
After taking a look

I saw you today
Tasseled cap and gown
Bright eyes full of hope
Nothing to hold you down

I saw you in my memory
The dreams we had
The world at our feet
Oh what plans we had

On the edge of our lives
Sixty-two of us
In nineteen sixty-five

I heard of your fates
I know many are gone
One by one
Twice, sadly, two by one…

Some went to war
Last seen that day
Never to be seen evermore
But I saw you today

Dreams realized
Dreams shattered
Dreams were just that
Dreams that mattered

I know how life turned out
For only a few
Only a few
Of sixty-two

Today I am thinking
About taking a look
For the remnant of classmates
On MySpace and Facebook

Would the remnant want
Same as me
To know how dreams
Turned out for these?

Looking through my high school album
Remembering… Mostly sorry I looked
Nothing is the same
As it was in this book

The same as you were
I saw you today
Yes – I saw you today
But sadness did not allow me to stay

I place the book on the shelf
I whisper to you ~ I’ll come back
To revisit you all in my memory….
Another day, yes, I’ll be back

Darlene Cirinna
August 10, 2009  

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


It was a dark and stormy night…sort of…

It was the kind of night that made Miami Beach famous.  The moon was full and the stars twinkled in a clear, midnight blue sky.    A gentle breeze lifted the hair off his brow as he lay on the moon drenched beach.   The quiet was broken only by the waves breaking gently on the shore.  All was well now, but I must back up to tell you my story.

I met Johnnie one dark and stormy night.  Actually, it was last night.  I had been clubbing with my girlfriends in Miami Beach.  I had not a care in the world.  Having just finished my freshman year in college, it was time for some R & R.  The summer stretched before me like a red carpet.  I just knew it would be a memorable summer.   I deserved some pleasure after a grueling year of study.  Going to college after being out of school for four years was not easy…

We no sooner arrived in the Flamingo Club when a fast and furious storm blew in from the Atlantic.  It was typical Florida weather.  We always say that if you don’t like the weather here, just wait five minutes and it will change.  Such was how the summer storm appeared, then was over…just like that.  Kind of like Johnnie and I...

Johnnie was sitting at the bar when we entered the lounge.  He turned towards the door just as we entered.  Our eyes met and it felt like the room took on static as a connection deeper than understanding took place.  It is a look and connection that happens once in a lifetime and for some, not at all.  It felt like we were long separated souls who found each other once again.   I was drawn like a magnet to the stool next to him at the bar.  In no time at all, we were chatting like we knew each other for years.

The evening moved on past midnight as Johnnie and I danced the night away.  Light conversation eventually led to deep kisses that felt familiar and timeless.  We walked down on the beach, hand in hand, as we shared our hopes and dreams.  It was the kind of moment that dreams are made of.

As we walked and talked, Johnnie mentioned that he had been in a terrible accident.  He told of facial reconstruction so extensive that he looked nothing like before.  While his jaw was wired shut, he lost 75 pounds.  Damage to his vocal cords completely changed his voice to a smoky, sexy drawl. After his transformation from stocky to sexy, he was so happy with his new self that he didn’t want to go back to his old life.  He continued his story to tell me about his life “back home” and the girlfriend he left behind.  He described her as “chunky” with dishwater blond hair.  He had been engaged to marry her at the time of the accident.   Agreeing that he should put his military obligation behind him before marriage, he was in Miami to enlist at the US Armed Forces Induction Center.  Testing ran into the next day, so recruits were put up in the Biscayne Bay Hotel over night.  It was while cruising around with a drunken lot of ex-high school boys that he was in the accident.   Initially, it was told in his home town that he died in the crash.  When he came out of his coma close to a year later, he never got around to setting the record straight.  He simply stayed on in Miami. 

Chatting happily about his wonderful new life, he made a hand gesture that sent my mind reeling back into time - back to a happier day when I too was planning my future with my high school sweetheart.  He had been killed in an automobile accident just days after high school graduation.  Grief sent me into a downward spiral.  I couldn’t eat for days and barely ate a thing for months.  It was four years after Joey’s death that I was able to focus on getting an education.   Now, five years later, I was finally feeling like I had a chance at life again.

As I sat there on the sandy beach, I thought back over the last five years.  I thought of the shock from the news of Joey’s death.  I remembered the gnawing in my stomach that prevented me from taking in nutrition enough to sustain me and how I wasted away to a shadow of my former self.  I thought about the institution and the force feeding.  I have a vague recollection of shock treatments.  I’ve been told that my treatment had been harsh.  Only the past year had seen me a normal, healthy, mentally stable woman.  Johnnie was so honest with me that it was only fair that he should know what I had been through as a result of the loss of my one and only love.   So, when he asked me out the next night, I agreed to meet him at the Flamingo Club.

The next evening, Johnnie and I had our first date.  I watched his every move, hand gesture and facial expressions.  I hung on to his every word and unconscious voice inflections.  In due time, we found ourselves sitting on the beach again – just like the night before.  It was romantic and felt like a new beginning.

Quietly, almost guiltily, I said his name…”Joey?”  Without taking his eyes off the distant horizon, he said “Yeah?”   Suddenly, startled, he turned his face to me with a puzzled, questioning look…realization slowly spread across his face.  In an instant, I knew that he knew who I was.  Baring my teeth into what I know must have been a hideous grin, I pulled the trigger.

My last memory of Joey waving goodbye as he drove off to join the Air Force is now replaced with this new memory of him as he lay on the beach under stars and midnight blue sky - his dark hair dancing  a delicate beat upon his brow in the gentle, evening breeze.  His eyes wide open in an eternal look of surprise.

Written By Darlene Cirinna
(c) January 28, 2010
All rights reserved

Friday, January 7, 2011



I love Doo Wop!  Some younger persons may not know about Doo Wop, but it was music of the 50’s and early 60’s.  Those were innocent times.  I often say to my husband that we were young in the last of the good old days.  It is true to me, but, no doubt, not true to other generations.  I’m pretty sure they had their own good times. 

It seems music has always been a part of my life.  My Mom had a beautiful voice.  I remember that she sang all the time.  Of course, she sang the Lullaby song to me.  People wonder if babies dream…I can assure you they do, but of only what they know.  I say this with such certainty because of my own (small) childhood experience.  I thought the Lullaby song was music, but ended in colors and light.  That was how it always ended for me until my little world and experiences grew larger than just light and color.  Around the age of 4, I began to wonder why it was that I couldn’t see the swirling colors and light that always seemed to accompany music and beyond.  I remember pondering on that question a whole lot.  I don’t know how other people were as children, but I spent a lot of time thinking.  Mainly trying to figure out what was going on in this life.  I had thoughts that seemed to precede my life.  I don’t think I will go there because it has nothing to do with music.  I will say that it seemed I was born knowing some things and thinking/pondering some of the truths of life before I even knew any of the truths of life.  Well…I’m done with that little side road.  Back to music…

It seemed that music and experience were tied together for me since my earliest recollections.  Music and experience became music and memories.  That’s how it is with me…

In my life, I have lived through several “Music Eras”.  I remember when Elvis first got started.  The adults said he would be the ruin of the youth.  No good could come from Elvis!  Today, I have say “HA!” and “LOL”.  I loved Elvis.   

Back in those days, a lot of silly songs were made…like the Purple People Eater, Splish Splash (the bathtub song) and the Tiny Polka Dot  Bikini.  I especially liked the Battle of New Orleans…it was my very first 45 record.  Through all the silliness of the age of innocence (as I call it), ran a thread of romance.  That romance was Doo Wop!   

The PLATTERS (my personal favorite)....

In my youth, I was a dancing fool.  Well…sometimes I still am…in the privacy of my living room.  I began going to dances when I was 11 years old.  My parents were pretty smart.  They knew that idle children will get into trouble.  My parents planned with some neighbors a Friday night event where the children in the neighborhood could have a dance party.  We wanted a sock hop, but socks don’t last long on a concrete patio.  LOL…  It soon became a pre-teen club.  We voted a name for our club….  “The Boppers”.  I was 11 years old and it was the best fun of my life…so far…
We moved to the country the summer I was 12.  My parents were quick to observe that the local teens had no activities outside of school dances (few and far between).  The local teens simply hung around the Tastee Freeze.  Then they would hook up and go parking.  My parents wanted a place for their daughters to go socialize with adult supervision.  And so “Teen Town” was born.  I was in 8th grade and it was going strong when I graduated from high school.  It was “the place” for the teens to meet and have fun.  We began at the local Women’s Club and later expanded to a county owned Quonset hut steel building.  We went from a record player to live local teen bands.   I wasn’t very happy that my parents were there, but it was good clean fun and my parents were really good about acting like they didn’t know me.  LOL…  But, I will be forever grateful that my parents and a handful of other parents cared enough to give their time and energy to a town full of bored teens.

I grew as a person in the “Teen Town” years.  I was president of our “Teen Town” club.  I grew in social grace in those years.  I grew in confidence.  Our teen club appeared on a teen dance show twice in the early 60’s.  It was a thrill for us.  I had experiences I would not have had if there were no “Teen Town”.  My sisters grew with me as well.  It was a safe place to grow and I am grateful for my parents and the other parents who stepped up to fill a need for teens. 

It was at “Teen Town” that I first began to love Doo Wop.  It was the romance of it…the smooth, seductive voices in melody.  I fell in love with Doo Wop as a backdrop.  It was the stuff memories are made of...

Today, I still love Doo Wop, but I limit my listening pleasure because, at this age and after a lifetime of experiences, it brings sad memories of loss.  Some classmates and one former boyfriend died in the Vietnam War.  With the violence of war came pain and a shift in music from silly and romance to a whole different music era of the ‘70’s.  I did enjoy the music of the ‘70’s and beyond, but nothing stirs my memories and deeply buried feelings like Doo Wop.  So you see…Doo Wop is tied to my deepest feelings, loss and broken hearts.  I listen until I begin to feel the pain of loss, then I go do something else.  I cannot linger long in my memories.  And it is not healthy…  for me…

Now you have seen into my soul….

Sunday, January 2, 2011


Lilly’s creator, Jeff Owens of Crumbley Laboratories, Inc, was extremely proud of his robot prototype of the perfect woman.  In his opinion, the perfect woman was not emotional.  He considered it to be a “defect”.  Therefore, Lilly had no emotions.  Lilly did not know how to love or hate, laugh or cry.  Jeff managed to instill “care” in the prototype.  Lilly was able to be kind to children and animals because she could “care”.   So sure was Jeff that Lilly was the “perfect woman” that he was ready to take his invention to the marketing department to begin work on promotion and sales.

Unbeknownst to Jeff and quite accidentally, Lilly also had “desire”.  Jeff did not build “desire” into the robot.  It was one of those “happy errors” for Lilly.  So conditioned was she with the emotional void, she carefully hid the fact that she had any desire for anything other than what Jeff decided she should have. 

When Jeff took Lilly on trial trips out into the public places, Lilly had seen the human women with tiny little humans called babies.  She noticed how faces softened when looking at the tiny human beings.  She noticed how pretty a human “Mommy” looked when she smiled at the tiny human.  Lilly watched and the desire for a tiny prototype grew in her electrodes.  Lilly wanted to experience emotions ~ if there was any way possible…..  And she really, REALLY wanted her own tiny prototype.

Lilly approached Jeff with her desire for a tiny robot prototype.  At first Jeff didn’t think he had the ability to create a tiny prototype.  All of his molds were adult sized molds.  Because the microchip was so tiny, programming and provisional space within the prototype was no problem.  All he had to do was regress the learned skills to those of an infant.  The only thing left was to figure out how to make baby sized molds…  

Jeff thought long and hard about how he could “shrink” his model when he had his “eureka moment”!  Shrink… but of course…  Jeff created a glass room of sorts.  The glass must be able to withstand high temperatures, yet cool to the touch so that he could observe the “shrinkage” process as he would try to “shrink” an adult size model with heat and steam.  Thus, Jeff constructed a double paned glass room.

After Jeff worked out all the details of the shrinkage and he observed that his baby prototype was actually shrinking to infant proportions, he took Lilly to the shrink room to see his progress.  Jeff knew that Lilly would “care” for this tiny prototype.  He began to think about marketing the “perfect family” for those men who did not have the time or ability to develop a loving relationship with another human.  In his mind, he was counting his money.  He was going to be rich……

As Lilly stared through the glass at her new “baby”, Lilly began to feel a strange sensation.  She felt a swelling in her chest area.  A soft sigh escaped her lips.  Jeff observed her face soften and become more beautiful.  He imagined his wealth growing. 

And, while Jeff was watching his imaginary wealth grow, something was growing inside of Lilly.  As she watched her “baby” being formed, she felt something wet slide down her cheek.  She gulped a huge breath of air as her chest swelled even more.  What is this?  She tapped into her data chip for a definition.  The moisture is called “tears”!   She searched her data chip further and learned the swelling in her chest area, sighs and relaxing of her facial features is called “love”.  How can that be?  I am built without emotions, she thought…

Jeff came out of his fantasy world of money just in time to have an epiphany…  He saw all the signs of love on Lilly’s face, caring, desire and impatience to hold her baby.  She looked at him and laughed with unbridled joy! 

Jeff was confused and wondering where he went wrong as his mind bid farewell to his imaginary wealth.  It was the epiphany that showed him, clear as crystal, that his prototype was now just cold plastic and microchips and perfectly alike, otherwise, as any other woman – any other EMOTIONAL WOMAN!

As Lilly stood looking through the glass at the object of her dreams, Jeff silently slid down the glass wall into an emotional, crumpled heap.   As Lilly glanced down for a moment, she thought about how the world really needs a perfect male prototype with the absence of the “wealth” chip and a pumped up “family” chip.