22 July 2012

Little Earthquakes

For the record, one does not attend a major Midwestern US university in the mid-90s and NOT hear of the singer/songwriter Tori Amos.

As it was with me.  I even bought a few of her cds...one of my favorites being titled "Little Earthquakes".  However, today's blog post is not so much a review/rambling about that album, as it's about the reason why, today of all days, I am thinking of a indie musician's album title.

Geologically speaking, we know the earth changes daily.  It shifts, it spins, it elongates...this giant blue oval in space.  We can no more control it than we can control the sun (as much as we might try, however).  Every so often, our planet is rocked by cataclysmic movements...in the form of earthquakes.  People die, buildings topple, and lives change forever.

While these earthquakes can't really be prevented, many of the world's population choose to live in areas where they are less likely.  Less likely, but not impossible...and certainly not immune to "little earthquakes"...little tremors, little rumblings, little movements.  And while those little earthquakes don't completely upheave our lives...they leave their mark.  A tree dies, a hill crumbles, a landscape quivers.  Etc, etc, yes?

Two recent events in and around my neck of the woods turns this geological fact into a powerful metaphor.

Over a week ago, two young girls (roughly my youngest son's age) in a small town about two hours from here were riding their bikes from their grandmother's house...but they never reached their destination.  Family, volunteers, police, and even the FBI have been searching for these girls, to no avail.  Now classified as an "abduction", the search for the girls now involves questioning of suspects and alibis.  And as it goes with missing child cases, the more time that elapses, the more unlikely it is the girls will remain alive.

And of course, the second event, the one receiving an enormous amount of media right now, is the Aurora, CO movie theater shootings.

To me, these events are "little earthquakes".  Because of where I live, my involvement in these events is merely that of removed bystander.  However, despite that, they will certainly leave their mark on me.

The two occurrences provide a nearly imperceptible shift in my landscape.  I hang on to my children a little tighter these days (how can I not?).  I grow a shade more cynical about people and their motives (how can I not?).  I ponder the scary possibility that no matter how "right" I try to live, I can't prevent harm from befalling the people I love.

And suddenly the question of how then, shall I live? seems to have an unnerving urgency that wasn't there before.

How then, indeed?

15 July 2012

Vacation...and Now I Need Another One

Vacations are crazy little things, you know?  I've spent weeks and weeks preparing for vacation, reserving hotels, checking driving routes, buying toiletries, doing laundry, packing suitcases, gathering books, games, toys, and snacks for the kiddos...

And then, just like that...our week-long vacation is over.  And time to get back to the "real world".  But first, I think I need a vacation from the vacation. :-)  However, I don't think I'll be lucking out.

The bulk of the week was spent in Ohio, at Cedar Point amusement park.  The roller coaster capital of the world, there was plenty of thrills available to all of our children.  And while amusement parks are all fine and well, I'll admit that they are extremely child-centered...which, frankly, can be unfairly exhausting.

We also pit-stopped in South Bend, Indiana to visit the College Football Hall of Fame, the campus of the University of Notre Dame, and South Bend Chocolate Company on the way to Cedar Point.  Then, on the way home, we jetted an extra two hours down to Indianapolis to the Children's Museum...which touts itself as the World's Largest Children's Museum.

All in all, it was a great vacation.  Things went smoothly and the kids had fun.  But, I can't help wishing a little bit that I could spend a day or two in a bed and breakfast somewhere with my Kindle and my husband.

05 July 2012

How's This for a Fourth of July Celebration?

In honor of our nation's birthday, the family and I decided to watch History Channel's "The Revolution".   We actually wanted to know about the Declaration of Independence, but upon finding this episodic documentary on Netflix streaming.

And well, I know there's two sides of every documentary, but this one presented some new, interesting information that I recall reading in no history textbook.

The Boston Massacre of 1770?  Not really a massacre, per se.  A group of rowdy Bostonians were heckling and harassing a couple of British sentry guards, and chaos broke out when rocks were chucked by the mob...which then led to a willy-nilly firing of British muskets.  Eventually, five colonists were killed.  However, if you Google Images "Boston Massacre", you'll see the famous Paul Revere engraving of a line of disciplined Redcoats firing, at exactly the same moment, into a bedraggled crowd, who seem to be in the process of retreat.  It doesn't take long to research and find contradicting testimonies of what exactly happened that night.

But, it goes to show that even then, the media spin machine was at work.  Patriots in Boston took this event (referred to by British as the "Incident on King Street") and spun it in a way so that it appears that the British were looking for any reason to oppress and open fire on rebel colonials.  A means to an end, as it were. 

Washington’s complex character?  Through excerpts from letters written by the newly appointed Commander in Chief of the Continental Army, we learned Washington often questioned his appointment and ability to fulfill it.  That might come off as humble...a noble quality.  But, he also then declares in an Order written in November 1775, that for his army, "neither Negroes, boys unable to bear arms, and old men unfit to endure the fatigues of the campaign are to be enlisted [in the army].  That's...not so noble.  On the other hand, he acts with tremendous poise and grace after unwittingly discovering his junior officers are plotting against him after his military defeats of 1776.  Will the real George Washington stand up please?  And not in the head boat that crossed the Delaware River (because, really, that didn't happen).

British reasoning?  As it turns out, the British have spent a terrible amount of money on defending us from French raids and Indian attacks.  To recover some of that lost fundage, the tax its colony, America.  Not a terrible thing or reason to want it, really.  But that's a side of the story I don't remember hearing in high school.

Often throughout the documentary, the British are referred to as the best army in the world.  That an untrained, ragtag group of colonists managed to unseat that army's power in this country....well, that's just freaking amazing.  And especially since there were a lot of close calls too.

Ultimately, maybe the truth doesn't matter.  Maybe what really happened is somewhere in between what the history books say and what the TV shows says.  Those really were the times that tried men's souls.

03 July 2012

Facebook Did Not Miss Me

This past weekend, despite sweltering 90-plus degree temperatures, my family (and in-laws) went on our first camping outing of the season.

I did not take my laptop, because a.) the whole point of camping is to detach myself (if only temporarily) from all social networking sites (read: Facebook). And b.) the campground has no WiFi anyway, so the point was moot.

This would also be a good time to mention that in the last two weeks, our family has switched cellular device service.  My husband dropped his Blackberry and its Internet, and so, that last bastion of technological connectedness was gone. 

And as it turns out, we're bearing the deprivation quite well.

Brent got through several hundred pages of his Stephen King novel, "Under the Dome", and I finished Jeffrey Eugenides's "The Marriage Plot and Debra Ollivier's "Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl".  And when we were outdoors in the crazy heat, we were talking, golfing, walking, eating, or refereeing kids' badminton games.

Now that's what I call face book.