Saturday, May 28, 2011

No More Marching on Memorial Day?

Memorial Day has long been my favorite U.S. holiday. Sure, the 4th of July has more flash to it (literally and figuratively), and yes, it’s our nation’s birthday, so there’s that. Back in my school days, Labor Day was always fun because it was the last hurrah before the school year started, and these days it kind of kicks off the countdown to the winter holidays. But Memorial Day is its own level of special, not least of which is because it’s intended to honor those veterans who have served our country, which is why I’m devastated at the absolute lack of Memorial Day parades here in the land of the A.T.L.

Let’s talk about some of the great aspects of Memorial Day.  First, whether or not you acknowledge its raison d'ĂȘtre, Memorial Day kicks off summer. You have to admit that no matter the weather after Memorial Day, and no matter the true date that summer begins (June 21 this year, for those of you who are blissfully unaware of this), your mindset changes after Memorial Day to a more carefree, if-I’m-not-currently-on-vacation-at-least-I’ll-take-more-time-to-daydream-about-vacation setting.

Also, Memorial Day affects fashion. We are allowed to wear white pants after Memorial Day as well as white shoes without being fashion heathens. I dig the white pants and admit that I wear them outside of the ascribed “appropriate time frame.”  I am not, however, a fan of the white shoes unless they’re sneakers; perhaps they should be banned altogether.

Memorial Day encourages exercise and togetherness. Think about it. Most pools and beaches open on Memorial Day weekend. Therefore, Memorial Day weekend opens up more opportunities for kids and families to get outside into the fresh air and to play around and to spend time together. It’s a time for kids to learn to swim and then to practice and practice and practice even though they think they’re just playing and playing and playing.

Finally, and most importantly, Memorial Day is a time to remember those who fought for and continue to fight for our country. Whatever your politics, it’s a day to put those aside and simply to honor the men and women who felt and feel it their duty to put their lives on the line in support of our nation, our government and, well, us.

And this is why I’m so disturbed by the fact that I can’t find a single Memorial Day parade within a decent radius of my home (there’s one in Dacula, but that’s a hike and a half from my town). I grew up in the beautiful New England town of Fairfield, Connecticut, where on Memorial Day we held THE parade of the year. The middle school and high school bands marched, as did groups like Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, the Rotary Club, Little League Teams and, of course, the American Legion. There were walking groups and clowns and floats and fire trucks.* The parade was festive and joyous, a time for the whole town (and it’s not a small town) to come together and celebrate. The parade still happens there every year – in fact, they just passed an ordinance requiring people to stop reserving spots along the route (which people apparently did as much as a week in advance) – and it’s one of the things I miss the most about my home town. This parade was what initiated my love of a day that has grown in my heart as I’ve aged and have learned to appreciate the day’s origin and meaning.

The fact that a Memorial Day parade celebrates the day is perhaps what’s driving this move away from parades. Maybe people believe that unless a Memorial Day ceremony is solemn, serious and entirely focused on gravity, it can’t possibly honor the veterans appropriately. I guess I can respect that. But I can’t get behind it. I liked Fairfield’s Memorial Day parade because it allowed all of us – young and old – to take part and honor our veterans in our own way and at our own level. Let’s face it, most kids just don’t have the capacity to consider the meaning of Memorial Day quite the way we adults do. But if we give them a way to participate that’s meaningful to them, which often means incorporating fun and joy, there’s more of a chance they’ll continue to anticipate Memorial Day with eager awe each year. Their understanding of the seriousness will grow and evolve as they do, don’t worry.

And then there’s my own crazy perspective: I want to celebrate (there’s that word again) the lives and contributions of these men and women, not just mourn them and the challenges they endured and continue to endure. I want to smile and dance and rejoice in the fact that people like these exist who bring such honor to our country and who look out for all of us. Do I mourn their sacrifices and struggles? Yes, I do. Do I think every Memorial Day event should include a period of serious and somber remembrance? Absolutely. But does celebration distract from the honor and meaning of the day? To that, I heartily disagree.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Damn You Mental Autocorrect, aka: I Keep Seeing Hitler Everywhere

You know how sometimes you see something out of the corner of your eye, then you look closely only to find out that what your brain “saw” and what was really there are two different things? Like, you think you see a squirrel scurrying through your yard, but when you look closely, you realize it’s just a flimsy half-page flyer that some nearby business kindly taped to your mailbox that’s now fluttering in your grass?
My eyes have been playing a trick on me sort of like that over the last few weeks, although this one is both repetitively consistent and oddly disturbing. Ready for it?... Every time I see an online article title – say on CNN or MSN – that includes the word “hiker” my brain converts it, ever so briefly, to the word “Hitler.” I am 100% serious.
Can you imagine?
Now, I’m one of those happy crack-pots who feels compelled to look for underlying reasons for just about everything. I don’t think there actually is a reason for everything – I really do believe that some things happen just because – but I like the idea of a reason. I like the idea of purpose. I like meaning. I just… do.
So that being said, what the heck could possibly be the reason my brain has settled into this troubling revision of the typed word “hiker”? Do I fear that hikers are somehow inherently evil? Because I like to hike. So do I feel that somehow I am inherently evil? Do I worry that I am evil, but only when I hike? I have to know, because I can’t continue to be thrown for a loop with headlines such as the following:
Seriously, after the brief millisecond of extreme shock, the first thing that my brain thinks every time is, “Didn’t Hitler die, like, 66 years ago?” Then “what’s he doing in a Gorge?” or “how are his mothers still alive?” or “how does he have multiple mothers?” or “Hitler was a she?”
Please help.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Multitasking World Record

So I’ve been sitting here wondering to myself… is there a Guinness World Record for Multitasking? Because I just tried to Google it, and based on my entire 30 seconds of searching, I don’t think there is.

Therefore, I would like to nominate myself to win this prestigious honor. Why, you may ask? Well, first of all, if there is no record, then there is no record to beat. Hence, I should be allowed to claim the first record and then people can try to beat my record. Thus I would start a whole new competition and give people all over the world something to strive for. (Yes, that sentence ended in a participle… couldn’t be helped, I’m busy multitasking.)

What exactly do you get when you win a Guinness World Record? A lifetime supply of Guinness? Because that would be pretty perfect.

Here is the list of things I am currently doing relatively simultaneously:

·         Writing this post

·         Researching Guinness World Records for multitasking

·         Nursing a glass of fabulous cabernet sauvignon

·         Folding laundry

·         Participating in multiple Facebook conversations

·         Drinking a glass of water

·         Closely following a tragic news story, via these Internets, that I will not go into because this is a cheerful post

·         Enjoying my nightly M&Ms and milk

·         Tweeting (as a middle aged person, that term makes me giggle every time)

·         Watching Modern Family and Cougar Town

I’m not sure if I’m doing any of these things well. There are probably numerous studies out there suggesting that I would be a much more effective M&M and milk enjoyer or laundry folder or Tweep (heehee) if I were to focus on fewer tasks at one time.  But where’s the fun in that?

What kinds of things do you find yourself doing simultaneously? And will you please vote for me to win this record?

UPDATE: The FABULOUS people at Guinness World Records tweeted (hee hee) me this morning to let me know that if you break a record, you get a certificate. I would love a certificate. I would drink Guinness and stare at it happily and might even take a break from multitasking to focus my energy just on that. Help a girl out!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Let me kick off this post by apologizing for being "absent" for the last few weeks. I’ve been getting my head around some significant changes, and I figured it would be best for me to settle into my new existence before trying to communicate it all to others.
The big news is that I am putting my teaching studies a bit on the backburner and heading back to work full-time.



I know!

It’s kind of a big deal, and the decision was emotionally wrenching. I really do want to teach, and I really do want to make a difference in the lives of soon-to-be adults. I want to help young people learn things like GRAMMAR and SPELLING and SYNTAX and how to COMMUNICATE effectively… in essence, how to use their words. I particularly want to teach how to haiku like a pro (@haikupedia shout-out! Can I get a what-what?). Now, however, is not 100% the time. More like 60%.

Don’t get me wrong! First, I’m not putting this off forever. Just for a while. Second, I’m not being forced back into work like some indentured servant or something. It’s a decision I made with great care and a heck of a lot of thought.

I want to give a gigantic thank-you to my excellent friends who supported me, and continue to support me (I hope?), in my endeavor to go back to school to teach. I won’t let you down, and I honestly am continuing down this road one class at a time. I also want to give huge Internet hugs to the company that is taking me in, because they reinvigorated me in a way that I thought was entirely impossible. Employer of Mine: Are you sending me subliminal cheer-up messages through my crackberry?

And now… I promise to go back to posting completely random thoughts on a regular basis. Hope you can join me!
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