Saturday, August 29, 2009

Merrily On Our Way To Nowhere In Particular

Growing up in Florida, Walt Disney World was a prominent fixture of my youth. Our family visited the day the Magic Kingdom theme park opened their doors on October 1, 1971--a particularly easy time to enjoy rides because as I remember it, there were bomb threats so some folks stayed home. Lucky us. The lines were never shorter than on this bright fall Florida day...

Besides my favorite E-ticket rides (those of you old enough will remember those) I loved Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. Climbing aboard that funky car, heading off into the cool dark of the tunnel was a welcome respite from the sweltering summer days when we would re-visit the park in years to come.

I recently discovered that Disney World replaced Mr. Toad with Winnie the Pooh (as if we really need more of that rotund bear assaulting our senses). WINNIE THE POOH, for God's sake. My disappointment knows no bounds, but at least you can still visit Mr. Toad at the Disneyland park in Anaheim, California.

Lately life seems suspiciously similar to Mr. Toad's Wild ride, complete with twists and turns (and welcome respites) and loads of charming scenery. You just never know what's going to come at you next. But the entire time, you are safely strapped in a supportive vehicle riding on pre-determined tracks, so you are usually never really in any danger...unless of something happens to the ride itself.

Which reminds me of the time we took the kids to Disneyland and it was late at night when the older kids and their dad were on Big Thunder Mountain. The ride was halted for some reason, so they were temporarily stranded in the dark, and it was scary (there was screaming). But of course, when it was all over that unexpected delay actually contributed to the thrill factor. Go figure.

It reminds me of the Florida summer when relatives from Germany visited back in the 70's, and we were stranded at Bush Gardens, Tampa on an aerial gondola ride, high above the wild animals grazing below, for about half an hour of anxious sweating. Mutti--as we called my German grandmother--kept her cool by dabbing a cold, wet rag she pulled from a Ziploc-style bag of ice onto her wrists, presumably just for such emergencies. It was rather thrilling wondering what would happen if we plummeted onto the rhinos below. Would the fall kill us (likely)? Would the animals stampede and kill us? Would the heat do us in before the ride resumed? Seems the mind loves its drama.

And that is probably why Mr. Toad's Wild Ride remains one of my favorites -- the drama that never actually swallows you up. Which makes it an awful lot like Life.

Credit: photo courtesy of www.mouseplanet. com/guide

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Scarier Than A Halloween Night


The dreaded first day of the kids going back to school.

Relief at surviving their exodus couples with pangs of missing them and the winds of change that always blow this time of year.

I was lucky; not everyone gets to spend their summer with their kids without leaving for work every day, and for that I am deeply grateful but now it's back to looking-for-a-new career season.

And it's scarier than Halloween.

But, it's also kind of exhilarating in a roller-coaster way, and maybe after I get past the cold-sweats aspect of it, it'll actually be fun.

Let's hope. Then maybe I can find some...

Friday, August 7, 2009

August Summer Days

So the countdown has officially begun and my anxiety level is skyrocketing. Every time I hit a store now it's filled with back-to-schoolers, harried moms with even more harried kids trying to get ready for that moment when the alarm goes off the first day of school. Okay, maybe some moms are deliriously happy to have that block of free time when the house is empty, and maybe some kids are bored from too much playtime with friends, but as a working mom, school responsibilities just eat up more of my day.

What happened to school starting September 1st, or at least, after Labor Day? Here in Utah, when they aren't in year-round-schools, we have this silly August start-up, which I really can't wrap my weary brain around. August is HOT people, and nobody here really wants to dress in anything other than shorts and skimpy tees. Well, I take that back, it is Utah after all, so there might have to be long camisoles layered under the skimpy t-shirts, but still.

I don't want to schlepp the kids around in this heat getting supplies and clothes when we could be hiking (snicker) and swimming and just in general lounging around a few more weeks, reading a few more good books just for fun and reveling in life without all the deadlines that come with school and Fall and the ensuing holiday craziness.

Or maybe I could just take a pill and chill with the moments we have left.

Credit: photo courtesy of