Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good Day Sunshine!

I woke this morning and felt like I had had a great night sleep and was rested for the first time in weeks after having my 1st sinus infection since surgery last December.

It was one of those days, for the 2nd time this week, where I woke up and just knew it would be a good day. It didn't hurt that I had the Beatle's Revolver album circulating throughout the morning with Good Day Sunshine playing despite the rainy mist falling outside.

The puppy was fairly swift in doing his outdoor duty (yes, I was tempted to write doody) and that enabled me to only be about 10 minutes behind schedule by the time I got out of the shower. I managed to leave for work right on time which I haven't done in about 2 weeks.

It's rare to have those blissful days where work isn't bad, in fact it is going pretty well. I'm swamped with Junior Class stuff (Homecoming Class t-shirt orders, U-crew fan club t-shirt orders, float building meetings, Post Prom meetings with the principals, etc) and my job site visits with students which have ramped up.

I suppose the point of this particular blog is to report that looking at the bright side of things is the best way to live your life.

Dwell on the negatives (and I think I've been doing that the last few days) only causes bad days. Which can turn a bit more long-term when there is a stalled low frontal weather system over the great lakes region causing gray, rainy days for nearly a 2 week period! Sure, I could have complained today about giving up my prep to meet with my juniors. And the fact that I'd been visiting kids for 1 1/2 hours after school when I would rather be at home taking a nap or playing with the puppy. Or realizing that by getting home near 4:20 allows me less than an hour before I'd have to workout which means the dog may get mad and destroy more areas of my apartment (he'd burrowed into the wall and shredded a portion of carpet last week in the evening when I didn't give him enough attention).

But no. The meeting went great. The kids are creative and want to make things the best they can. My students were all doing great things at work. I had a quick chat with my sister who sadly had to attend to my niece who was causing a few issues in the cleanliness department. And despite not working out, I can sit here tonight and watch Piccolo sleep on the top cushions of the couch back sound asleep with his fluffy tail hanging down the side. How can that not make your day better?

So take the time to look at your day and find the good points. They are there. You just need to pull back the curtain!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Remembering Our Generation's Day of Infamy

I love history. You know this. I also believe solemn dates need to be observed and remembered. As a people, Americans remember the big days - 4th of July (Independence Day) and we remember Veterans Day (in November).
But do remember when Pearl Harbor Day is?
Chances are, you don't know.

I find this fact incredibly sad. Pearl Harbor was the original Day of Infamy for our country. It was December 7, 1941 and was passed as an official holiday (remember the term comes from holy day) only in 1994. Perhaps that is why so many people don't know the date. We don't get a day off. But I bet you those folks who lived through that period of history remember hearing about it.

Perhaps it is that my grandfather was in the military and I have heard a large number of stories about his service. From WW2's Battle of the Bulge to his action in the Korean War. From my dad, who during high school lived in Hawaii and vividly recalls missile drills living on the base there and seeing military equipment lining the streets near Honolulu, years after World War 2 had ended.

I had a brief discussion with a friend yesterday and she argued that we've made 9/11 too big, that we are ignoring the thousands of other horrible things going on in the world. I remarked that Americans tend to put a major focus on certain anniversaries, 10-year anniversaries in particular. I agreed with her that we did put a large emphasis on this. However, shouldn't we?

The attacks on New York and Washington are among the largest terrorist attacks in human history. Sure there have been attacks in Egypt, the UK, Spain and numerous other places in the last decade. But this attack was on our soil. On our flag. On our way of life. It was big.

I remember 9/11/01 vividly, although some things have lost clarity over time. I was living on Geneva Terrace in Chicago at the time. I know I took the red line to the loop that morning, sometime around 7:45. I don't recall if I walked to the Fullerton stop or if I took the bus to the Division stop (which is more likely). I recall people talking about plane crashes and New York. I assumed they were talking about a movie of some sort. I got off the train at Jackson and walked to the eye doctor, where I had a scheduled appointment, just steps from the Sears Tower.

At the doctor's office they were playing the country station, US99. Not long after my eyes were dilated the radio dj's started saying "oh my, oh my," "a 2nd plane has hit the towers in New York." It was at that point that the office assistants, both women, started panicking. The eye doctor (this was my first and as you will read, last visit) started swearing at the women. He was saying stuff like "Shut up! They are joking. It is shit. Pull yourselves together." It's not the stuff you want to hear from your doctor, especially as my brain began to put two and two together with what people on the train had said and what the radio was broadcasting. With this doctor screaming profanities and the radio now saying Chicago was a potential "next target" I wanted to get out of there.

What I walked into when I got to Jackson Blvd. was beyond anything I'd ever seen. People, filled the streets. Traffic was practically stopped because they couldn't drive through the crowds. All the major skyscrapers in Chicago had been told to evacuate. People were crying, screaming, trying to hail cabs & buses. There were no free cabs. Buses, what few could get through, were packed like sardines. It was closing in on 9:30am and there was no way I was going to make it to work on time at 10am. I was going to have to walk the 2 miles north to work.

All along my route up Clark Street people were telling stories about what they'd heard on the radio or seen on TV. I was nervous because I hadn't seen or heard anything concrete and didn't want to believe what I was hearing until I had real evidence. The fear in the streets was palpable.

I got to work around 10:30. September 11th was my boss' birthday, that too, I remember. He was still hoping to celebrate, but he hadn't seen the streets of Chicago's Loop as I had. Celebrating a birthday didn't seem likely today.

We were given the option to go home early that day at work. It was a nice gesture and several people did go. I think I stayed until about 4:30, but that is a bit fuzzy. What I did between my arrival at work and my departure, I don't recall. It was probably every day, normal activity. Calling radio stations, faxing press releases, putting budgets together. We had festivals coming up in Virginia and Ohio. We had tour dates for other artists as well. It was those things I was probably just checking up on and pressuring to get those final tickets sold.

I watched 9/11 coverage for days afterward. I stood outside for the moment of silence that was held with 2-3 other coworkers a week after the tragedy. We stood by the fence on Goethe & Wells, next to the baseball field belonging to a grade school.

The following year, during the week of September 7, 2002, I was in Washington, DC with my parents before heading to Richmond, VA to work an REO Speedwagon show we had at Kings Dominion Theme Park. I remember our rental car had a New Mexico license plate and as we drove near the Pentagon, we could see a memorial service had been set up with chairs and a giant flag was flying. Dad drove the car really close to the Pentagon and we reasoned that we could just say we were tourists from New Mexico and had taken a wrong turn, should we get stopped. In the event, we turned around and drove a circle around the building, remarking how strange it was to see it still being repaired. In Arlington, where my grandparents had lived for several years, a race had been organized called the Memorial 5k Race. Our hotel was on the route and we got free pins in the shape of a pentagon with the word Remember and the date 9-11-01 with the 11 portrayed as the twin towers of New York and the 3 cities affected by the attack around the border of the pin. I have worn that pin every year since.

Back to today, I watched the services at all 3 locations and observed the moments of silence, just as people in each of those places where planes devastated the earth observed a moment of silence. One when each plane hit. One for when each tower fell. The bagpipers who circled the Memorial Fountains in New York where the Towers once stood made me think back to my grandfather's funeral at Arlington Cemetery in 1997. The service then was filled with pomp, a horse-drawn carriage, military escorts and gun salutes. The bagpipe core reminded me of that day. It made me understand what the families who were drawn to the Memorial were thinking and feeling, remembering their loved ones. Remembering the day as I lived it. So safe compared to the millions who were in the streets and buildings of New York that day.

We must remember. We must not forget. My students were, at the oldest, 7 years old the day we went to war against terrorism. They've grown up with a country at war, yet not affected by it, except those with loved ones in the military. They don't understand the emotions and the impact we who remember felt that day. The images, which are not shown except on rare occasions now, due to their very graphic nature, many have never seen.

I hope someday soon we can bring our troops home. I wonder how those in Iraq are doing as their country tries to recover from our war there. Will they ever be like America? Will the teenagers there have the technology we have? Will they worry about boyfriends, soccer games, going to college as much as my kids do? Do they now? Will our service men and women be in Afghanistan for decades to come, just as we've had troop in South Korea since the end of the Korean War, decades ago?

We can't wait for others to change the world and just sit and hope. We need to show and do. Use today as a day to look forward and take action. For those that can't. For those that already are. Vote. Write your Congress members. Use your head to really see how you feel about how things are going rather than listen to the TV pundits and your parents and friends. Be your own voice.

I'll continue to do the same.