Friday, July 12, 2013


Anyone who knows me well knows that I am all for quoting movie lines.  The one thing that drives me up the wall, though, is when people use phrases that have been quoted so many times they just aren't funny anymore.  Monty Python and the Holy Grail has been exhausted.  The Princess Bride has been thoroughly worn out.  And if I hear the line "I will break my foot off in your John Brown hindparts!" (from Remember the Titans) one more time, I WILL BREAK MY FOOT OFF IN YOUR HINDPARTS!  Unless the movie line fits perfectly into your daily conversation, please refrain.

This generation is all about adopting or coining new catchphrases, like "Hot Mess" and "Epic" and "Too Soon," basically words or phrases that make good hashtags on your twitter account (and now, unfortunately, facebook).  While these sayings can be fun to employ in the first two months of their inception, they should die out fairly soon afterward.  You can only say, "Too soon?" so many times before it starts to get old.  If you want to appear trendy through your speech, hop on the bandwagon as soon as it starts rolling and then hop off fast.  Or even better, start your own trend.

I love music.  I can listen to music for hours on end and be content.  But there is a line that is crossed when a song is played too many times.  Remember the song Bad Day?  Remember how it was on every time you got in the car and turned on the radio?  And how even though you kind of liked the song in general you just had to change the station on principle?  Remember how This Will Be (An Everlasting Love) was used in just about every chick-flick known to man from While You Were Sleeping to The Parent Trap to A Cinderella Story?  Remember how you wanted to throw the remote at the screen for ruining such a good song for you?  Remember how the choir kids at your high school took every opportunity possible to sing songs from Wicked (walking down the hallway High School Musical style, at graduation, etc.).  Remember how you were kind of biased against the whole idea of Broadway musicals for a while because of it?  I sure do. 

What overused "items" really annoy you?

Thursday, July 4, 2013

God Bless the United States of America

I am proud to be an American.  Here are four of many reasons why I love my country! 

1) Though we all come from different backgrounds and circumstances, though we all have different personalities, though we all have different callings in life, we are all Americans.  Each of us has a voice, a unique perspective to give to the world.  As Americans, we celebrate the value of each individual person.  Whether you are a soprano, an alto, a tenor, or a bass, your contribution is important and valued.  Make sure you add your voice to the harmony!  

 I Hear America Singing.
    I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
    Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
    The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
    The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
    The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, 
the deck-hand singing on the steamboat deck,
    The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, 
the hatter singing as he stands,
    The woodcutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, 
or at noon intermission or at sundown,
    The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, 
or of the girl sewing or washing,
    Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
    The day what belongs to the day—at night the party of 
young fellows, robust, friendly,
    Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.
                                       - Walt Whitman

2)  If you are a student of American History, you have probably heard of Frederick Jackson Turner and his theory that America is what it is today because of the physical presence of a frontier, a geographical line where civilization meets the wild and the unknown.  This border's existence made people itch to find out what life was like on the other side, to blaze trails and to discover.  Turner argues that that yearning to press pass their limits created a people obsessed with discovery, innovation, and new opportunity.  Whether or not you agree with Turner's theory, America definitely has a legacy of trailblazers and pioneers that continues to this day even though the physical frontier has disappeared.  We sometimes risk it all to find out what kind of opportunities are out there in uncharted territory.  But we have found that sometimes the end result is worth the price.  We are a nation of innovators and adventurers, of explorers and pioneers.  Keep that legacy going!

3)  Not many countries have the variety of breathtaking landscapes that America does.  How many countries in the world have beaches, forests, deserts, canyons, mountains, and plains all within their borders?  I love America for its beauty.

4)  The main reason I love America is because it was built by men and women who put aside differences and personal agendas to create a truly inspired idea for governance, one based on personal freedom but still within the bounds of law and order.  I sometimes wonder that if I were born during that time, would I have had the courage to do what they did?  Or would I have sat back and resigned myself to dominion from the British?  I wonder if I would have thought, as it says, in the Declaration of Independence, "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed." These men and women, though, put their lives on the line because they believed that America could be so much greater, a nation that allowed its people their God-given rights of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness," a nation that's based on "the idea that we all have value."  For the founders' courage and determination, I will be forever grateful.  We truly live in "the land of the free, and the home of the brave."

O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Happy Independence Day!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Learning to Whistle

My sister told me a couple of days ago that my five-year-old niece Mariah was discovering the art of whistling.
For whatever reason, the memory of the first time I whistled is perfectly clear in my mind.  I was five years old, sitting in the middle of the floor in my brother's room.  We had a lot of extended family over so there was a lot of noise coming from the kitchen.  My brother, Kiel, was trying to teach me how to whistle.  After several fruitless attempts, Kiel left to rejoin everyone else in the kitchen, but I remained sitting in the middle of the room, trying and trying to blow just the right way to produce the desired effect.  After what seemed like hours of trying (really, it was probably only a half-hour at the most), I stopped trying and just sat there, disappointed in myself and thinking that I was born to be an utter failure.

But out of the darkness (well, as dark as things can get for a five year old) came the thought that every single one of my family members could whistle.  My Dad was practically known throughout the neighborhood for his whistling capabilities, since he whistled everywhere he went: around the house, in the supermarket, while taking the trash out, etc.  My little five-year-old brain put two and two together and came to the conclusion that if my older siblings could do it, so could I.  Not five minutes later, I was whistling the beginning notes of Mary Had a Little Lamb.

And that's how I came to be the whistling fiend that I am today.  Adults who have yet to whistle a note have asked me how I do it.  And I can honestly say that I still, to this day, have no idea how it works.  I didn't learn how to whistle.  I just discovered that I could.  It sounds kind of cliche but it reminds me of the children's story, The Little Engine That Could.  At first the task of getting up and over the mountain seemed impossible.  But through diligence and perseverance despite seemingly insurmountable odds, the little engine began to believe he could pull that heavy load over that mountain, and so he did.

Sometimes we don't know how things are going to work out.  And sometimes it seems like the odds are never in our favor.  But even when that insurmountable mountain looms before us, there is a power in believing in ourselves that will give us the strength to overcome.

I once sat in the middle of the floor, miserably thinking that I was not blessed with the ability to whistle.  But my determination to conquer outweighed my weakness, and that has made all the difference.