Tuesday, July 26, 2011

"We Saved This City"

March 1982.  Fort Wayne, Indiana.  The city was facing a flood the likes of which had been seen only way back in 1913.

You may be wondering why I would bring this up 29 years later.  Well, the other day my mom handed me a booklet that had many photos and text put out by the Fort Wayne News Sentinel that reminisced about the Flood of 82.  Ad the memories came flooding back . . . This is what happened way back when.

I was a junior in high school.  We had had a hard winter with lots of snow, a very quick thaw, and rain.  Living in a city with three rivers, we knew that meant one thing--flooding.

Now usually when the city flooded, it wasn't so bad, but this time was different.  A flood emergency was declared, and Fort Wayne Community Schools closed schools.  A crisis was coming our way.  Mayor Win Moses urged people to volunteer to sandbag, especially high school students since they were out of school anyway.

My friends and I decided we would be part of the sandbagging effort.  It would be fun, we thought.  We could do some good and have some fun together.  After all, what were we going to do?  We were out of school and much of the city was closed down due to the threat of flooding.  We decided to band together and go do some sandbagging.  We were young and had no idea what we were up against.

We carpooled together to the Coliseum which was Sandbag Central.  Once inside, the people in charge of the flood control told us we could fill sandbags inside the Coliseum, or we could go down to the flood zone and sandbag.  We decided we wanted to sandbag.

School buses got loaded, and we were off.  Down into the heart of the city we went.  I couldn't believe my eyes.  This was my former neighborhood, the area of the city I had grown up in, the junior high I was supposed to attend before my family moved.  Now, the area behind Lakeside Junior High looked like one of the Great Lakes.  All that was holding back all of that water was God and sandbags.

Once we got off the buses, my friends and I were assigned spots to work.  We were put to work on different sandbag assembly lines behind people's houses.  Grab, pass, grab, pass, grab, pass . . . this process went on and on and on.

I don't know how long we were down there.  All I remember is that people came out of their houses to thank us for saving their homes.  Volunteers came around to feed us.  They gave us pudding cups, but they had no spoons.  We didn't care.  We were so hungry that we gobbled that pudding down in whatever way we could.

Back to the front lines again.  Grab, pass, grab, pass . . . I didn't know I had so much strength.  Damn, those sandbags were heavy.  But we knew people's houses, and lives, were on the line, so we kept at it.  At one point, the officials told us that the Pemberton Dike, where we were sandbagging, was going to go, but we kept sandbagging.  We could keep that water at bay, we were sure of it.  We were teenagers, so we weren't afraid.  Nothing bad was going to happen to us.  We kept at it even with the threat of the dike giving way.

I don't know how long we were there, but finally it was determined that we were done.  It was time for another shift to take over.  We loaded our exhausted, filthy bodies back onto the school buses and rode back to the Coliseum.

Once home, all I had the energy to do was to get a shower and then fall into bed.  My body hurt and I was exhausted.  I fell into a deep sleep.  Some of my friends were courageous enough to go back and sandbag more that night.

In the end, the kids of Fort Wayne saved the city.

I wonder if that kind of flooding were to occur now what would happen.  Would the kids of this day and age step up to the plate and work their asses off to save their city?  Or would they stay home and read about it on their IPads and text their friends about what was going on. Would their parents be too scared to let them take the risks that we took?  Maybe the city wouldn't even let them help out because of the threat of lawsuits if someone would happen to get hurt.  The school system might not even cancel classes because of the need to get in their quota of instructional days.  I don't know what would happen now.  I would hope that teenagers would have the opportunity to be heroes like we were back in 1982.

If you are a Fort Wayne native and have memories of the Flood of 82, post your memories.  I would love to hear them!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Eating the Deadliest Catch

Well, it's almost that time of the year when I take a week to visit the beach.  Every year my significant other and I spend a fun week in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.  I don't know why we always go to Myrtle Beach, because there are tons of great beaches in North and South Carolina.  I think we go because there is so much to do besides just sit on the beach.  You can go to Ripley's Believe it or Not, shop at the Gay Dolphin, see Dolly Parton's Dixie Stampede, or go to tons of other tacky places to spend your hard-earned money.  Oh, and did you know that Myrtle Beach is the miniature golf capital of the world?  Who wouldn't want to spend a week there?

Anyway,  during our summer beach trip, we will take a journey to one of the fine All You Can Eat buffets.  If you've ever been to the Myrtle Beach area, you know that these establishments are a dime a dozen.  My favorite of all of these classy places is Crabby Mike's.  If you are in the Myrtle Beach area, be sure to stop by.  You are guaranteed some excellent crab legs and also you will surely bear witness to the gluttony of the American people.  (I'm not judging--for a vertically challenged person I can put away my fair share of crab legs.)

I have had many interesting experiences at Crabby Mike's and also at the Seafare.  I tell you, it is worth going not only for the crab legs but also for the atmosphere at these joints.  Here is some of the entertainment I have encountered:

  • While waiting in line for crab legs at the buffet, a very crabby man yelled "Would you bring out some damn crab legs!!!!" to the kitchen staff.
  • Uncoordinated people (my brother) attempting to break through the crab leg shell and in the process, flinging shell everywhere including into water glasses, on the floor, and right into the middle of the neighboring table of diners.
  • Pirates!  Mermaids!  Ladies on a trapeze!  Seriously, the Seafare (I think they are out of business now) had all of this going on while you were eating.
Crabby Mike's also has a fine selection of tee-shirts.  "Have a Crabby Day", "Don't worry, Be crabby," and "Get crabs at Crabby Mike's" are among my favorites.  These are excellent souvenirs and are guaranteed to bring you plenty of attention when you return to the regular world (anywhere in America outside of Myrtle Beach).

If you are lucky enough to go the Myrtle Beach area, spend time at the beach, play some miniature golf, and be sure to have dinner one evening at Crabby Mike's.  It is worth it just to witness the spectacle for yourself.  I promise that you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Family Affair

Like a lot of American families, my extended family gets together every July for a family reunion.  This year was no different.  Every year, we follow pretty much the same schedule, eat basically the same types of food, and listen to the same stories.  Here is an example of a typical schedule:

1 ~ Meet and Greet (with many exclamations on how much the children have grown during the year)
2 ~ Eat (typical American picnic fare usually consisting of hamburgers, fried chicken, baked beans, potato salad, pasta salad, chips, watermelon, veggie tray)
3 ~ Break out the Booze (tee-totalers watch the drinkers in amusement)
4 ~ Story-telling (some new stories and then the oldies but goodies are retold)
5 ~ Make plans for the next year
6 ~ Say goodbyes

This year was no different until we got to the part of making plans for next year.  In my family, we have three generations.  There is the oldest generation of Myers, who are referred to jokingly as "The Council of Elders."  We also have a second generation of middle-aged Myers of which I am a member, and then the children of the second generation (The Youngsters) make up the third generation.  It is the Council of Elders' responsibility to come up with a plan for the following year. 

So this year, the second generation decided to prod the Council of Elders with some ideas for next year.  We had decided that we would like to have a weekend of family reunion fun instead of just a day.  So we wrote a note that said the following:  Elders ~ We humble request a campground for next year's reunion.  We sent the note with a Youngster out to the circle of Elders.

After our note was received and passed around to 3 of the Elders (apparently because the first or the second Elder could not read the note without their glasses) and they were engaged in animated discussion, we of the second generation became impatient so another note was sent to the Elders:  Clarification ~ We would like to go to Potato Creek.  We hereby request white smoke when you have reached a decision.  Also, maybe next year we could offer free thyroid testing.  (The thyroid testing was an enticement to the oldest Elder to accept our idea, who believes all of us in the Myer clan suffer from undiagnosed thyroid disease.)    This note was delivered to the Elders via a Youngster, and we could view laughter and discussion occurring. 

However, being the impatient Second Generation, we sent yet again another note:  O Elders of the Fixed Income:  Has thouest reached a decision yet?  We eagerly anticipate a response.

Sadly, no decision was reached for next year--which made me wonder. 
Why do we get together every year when we have the same routine? 

Upon reflection, I believe it comes down to unconditional love and acceptance.  When we are all together, we aren't judging each other.  We don't care what each other looks like, we don't care about each other's weight, we don't care about each other's clothes or cars, we don't care who makes the most money.  This is family, and we know we can rely on each other.  I know anyone in the Myer clan would be there for me at any time in any place (although this year I was told I would be put on an Alaskan ice floe when I was old--but I digress).  Nonetheless, I think that is why we get together.  It is hard to find connections and unconditional love in modern day America.  People seem so selfish, so fixated on having it all and not sharing it, and just generally not caring for their fellow man.  The family reunion is a place where we can escape the shallowness, the competitiveness, and the drama that permeates so much of our everyday lives.  And that makes the yearly family gathering priceless.  Don't you agree?

Monday, July 4, 2011

To Confront or Not To Confront

To confront or not to confront:  that is the question.  I'm quite sure all of you have been in this position  You aren't sure whether to confront inappropriate behavior or to ignore it.

Usually, I take the high road and ignore it.  Now, I know a lot of you may have trouble believing this, since some people describe me as spunky, a spitfire, or someone who doesn't take crap from others.  All of these are true, but I am also a person who detests confrontation.  I would rather smooth things over than make waves.  But in some situations, is that the correct thing to do?

Take this situation.  I want to stress that this is a totally fictional situation that never actually happened while I was at the movies watching Cars 2.  This is just a hypothetical situation . . . wink, wink.

Pretend you are at a rated G movie.  You know there will be tons of kids there.  That's okay--you like kids.  You expect there will be some little kids that might talk or kick the back of your chair or get up and down to go to the restroom . . . but you realize you are going to a G-rated movie, so you are prepared to accept all of this normal kid behavior.

Unfortunately, there is a little kid sitting RIGHT NEXT TO YOU who gets very upset at the various plot twists during the movie--the explosions, the parts where he thinks Tow Mater might not make it, etc.  He screams and yells and such.  The parent comforts the little boy as best he can.

However, the parent also engages in "teaching points" throughout the whole movie.  "Looook, there's the EIFFEL TOWER!"   "Oh, now they are in ITALY!"  "Do you know where they are now?  Yes, that's Big Ben!"  And it went on, and on, and on, ad nauseam, throughout the whole movie. 

My problem with this behavior is that 1:  the parent isn't teaching the child the acceptable social mores of being quiet during a movie;  2:  the parent is not whispering to the child but speaking in a LOUDER THAN NORMAL voice;  3:  the parent MADE A CHOICE to sit right next to me instead of sitting in an unoccupied area of the theater;  4:  this isn't the appropriate time and place for teaching your child but is supposed to be an enjoyable and relaxing experience.

So I fumed about this man's behavior during the whole movie.  Several scenarios occurred to me.  We could move (but why should WE move--we were there first!); I could say "Would you shut your piehole?" to the man (but that might cause an unfortunate confrontation); I could glare at him and give him my mean teacher look (which might not work since he is not a child); I could walk past him and "accidentally" spill my large Diet Coke on him so that he would have to leave (too aggressive for my taste but a good fantasy nonetheless).

All of this brings me to the point of this entry.  What is wrong with people nowadays?  Are they so self-centered that they just don't care about the people around them?  Are they oblivious to how their actions affect the people around them?  Or maybe they just don't know what appropriate behavior is and need to be taught it?  I'm not sure.  What do you think?

Now, I know what I did, and it's not any of the above solutions that my mind gave me.  I am not going to tell you what I did--I will leave that to your imaginations . . . but I do want to know what you would have done.  Please leave a comment and let me know, will you?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Best Friends for Life

My best friend called me this morning. 
"What are you doing?" she asked.
"Not much, getting ready to go shopping," I replied.
"Good!  You need to Facebook someone for me."
Now, half of the world's population is on Facebook, but not my best friend.  She refuses.  I have tried to urge her to become one with the world, explaining how fun it is to reconnect with old friends, but she just won't do it.
Anyhow, I settled in front of my computer to do a search for her.  And yes, you guessed right, she wanted me to check out a man she had met.  So after I gave her all the info I could find on this guy, we discussed the situation, and I gave her my advice, which forever after now will be known as Kim's Tips on Men
  1. Once you've expressed your interest, DO NOT CONTACT HIM AGAIN.  Wait until he initiates contact.
  2. Men are HUNTERS.  They like the chase and the pursuit.  DO NOT make it easy for them.
  3. Don't ask questions like "Did you get my e-mail?"  That can sound too needy, demanding, or insecure.  Instead, rephrase questions as statements.  "I sent you an e-mail" (include a smiley face).
  4. Avoid, avoid, avoid the BUT statements.   Do not say things like "I want to see you again but I want to get to know you better first before I travel all the way there."  Instead, say "I do want to see you again.  In the meantime, I would really like to get to know you better.  Maybe we could Skype or something."
After we covered all of my rules, I started wondering why anyone would even want my advice on men.  After all, I've never been married and have had plenty of disastrous relationships.  Then I realized that it wasn't so much about hearing my advice that my best friend wanted.  It was about the connection that we have.  You see, we have known each other since junior high school.  I remember sitting in band class with her, giggling about the guy we thought was cute.  I remember cruising the mall with her in high school, looking for young hotties.  I remember going to see her when she was in college and going to a bar to check out the band member that she had a crush on.  I remember long phone conversations and long letters where we discussed our latest relationships.  Sitting cross-legged on my childhood bed, sipping wine in her living room, talking on our cell phones--one thing that never changes is that we discuss men. 
Will we continue to gab like this until we are old ladies?  I hope so.  Will we continue to talk about men?  Probably.  Will we giggle and carry on like school girls?  Most likely.  We have a connection, and that connection will last as long as we live.