Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Why I Love "Go Set A Watchman"

Like everyone else in the world, I love To Kill a Mockingbird. Like everyone else in the world, I was surprised/excited/nervous to hear of the release of Go Set a Watchman. But unlike everyone else in the world, I love Go Set a Watchman and think it a worthy sequel to Harper Lee's classic tale.

I have yet to hear a positive review for Go Set a Watchman. Several have said it was only published because it's Harper Lee, one friend said it was boring but the main complaint has been, it ruins Atticus' character.

***keep in mind this post will, most likely, include spoilers***

In case you haven't read GSaW, the very abridged synopsis goes something like this: Grown-up Scout, now living in New York, returns home to visit Mayberry (←small, southern town...Maycomb, can understand my confusion). Through a series of events she discovers Atticus and her love interest/Atticus' protege are members of the newly formed Citizens' Council. Her world comes crashing down as she realized her father is not who she thought him to be.

Reader's main quibble seems to mirror Scout's feelings perfectly. In To Kill a Mockingbird we all fell in love with Atticus and hailed him as a great Civil Right's activist. So naturally our justice seeking hearts are devastated to learn of our hero supporting something as vile as segregation.

“What would Atticus do?” passed through her unconscious; she never realized what made her dig in her feet and stand firm whenever she did was her father; that whatever was decent and of good report in her character was put there by her father; she did not know that she worshiped him.”

But don't you see? That's just the point!

People are flawed. Fathers, mothers, friends, celebrities and historical figures. They all get stuff wrong. You can't set you moral compass by any one person. Because they will let you down. And, like Scout, your world and sense of morality will tumble if it's dependent on the supposed goodness of any individual.

“Every man’s island, Jean Louise, every man’s watchman, is his conscience. There is no such thing as a collective conscious.” 

But, guys? Flawed people can get stuff right, too. Good people aren't always good and bad people aren't always bad. You can learn something from anyone. Atticus' belief in a despicable practice and his ignorant justifications of his beliefs do nothing to change the fact that his actions in To Kill a Mockingbird are noble, right and commendable. Atticus is a good father. He did good works. But he is flawed and has flawed thinking. He's human.

“As you grew up, when you were grown, totally unknown to yourself, you confused your father with God. You never saw him as a man with a man’s heart, and a man’s failings—I’ll grant you it may have been hard to see, he makes so few mistakes, but he makes ’em like all of us.” 

I would like to tell you about my cousin C. When C experienced some traumatic events in his early teens, instead of facing the hurt, he masked the pain with substance abuse. He spent his teen and young adult years in and out of jail on various charges, including armed robbery. Eventually the drugs he embraced took his life.

The world would not classify C as a good person. But to my siblings and I he was always the big brother who was never too busy to play hide and seek or build a snowman. We were well aware of the bad things he had done but we knew he was not a bad person. He was our big brother and friend.

It would be nice if people fit inside our mental check boxes of good, bad, neutral. But that's not the way the world works.

 “I need a watchman to tell me this is what a man says but this is what he means, to draw a line down the middle and say here is this justice and there is that justice and make me understand the difference.”

People are flawed creatures. Inevitably they will let you down. There is evil in us all.

But there is also a great deal of good. And you can't ignore the good. Be wise, acknowledge the wrong. But keep looking for the's there somewhere. And when you find it, take heart. Relish that, no matter how dark, there is always a glimmer of goodness.

“As she welcomed him silently to the human race, the stab of discovery made her tremble a little.”
 ― Harper Lee, Go Set a Watchman
Have you read Go Set a Watchman? I would love to hear your thoughts...especially if you disagree!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Top 10 Disney Memories

Hello, friends! I'm back! In case you didn't notice, I ran out of time before I left and the whole month of running posts kinda went out the window. (Get it? Ran out of time? I crack myself up...) Hopefully there was something useful in the posts that did make it to publication and we'll get back to running blogging sometime in the future...

BUT right now I want to tell you about Disney World! Actually I want to tell you ALL about Disney World but that would be one flippin' long post so let's focus on the top ten Disney moments (you don't know how I struggled to keep it down to just 10!).
Disney was awesome. I loved every. single. thing. about it except the darn Florida heat. The worst. Basically spent two weeks bopping around from AC to AC. God help me if I ever move south...I'm pretty sure I wouldn't survive.

1. Seeing Carmella meet and interact with Mickey Mouse, Elsa, Snow White and other assorted Disney characters. Carmella (4) was actually the instigator of this trip when, back in January, she informed us Mickey Mouse was calling for her to come meet him. When a little girl as cute as this tells you she needs to visit really can't argue with the logic. Heck, some days I feel like I need to see Mickey Mouse. Carmella is the very first of my siblings to believe in Santa Clause, fairies, mermaids and every Disney characters she comes in contact with. It's a new experience for my family. Is it wrong to lie to her? Probably. But we are relishing the novelty and sheer cuteness of a little tiny believer and praying she won't outgrow it in a hurry. Seeing her face light up when, after forty-five minutes in line (no complaining...I know other people waited over five hours), she finally catches a glimpse of the Frozen makes every. single. cent. 110% worth it.
2. Discovering Disney updates. One of my very favorite things about Disney is, no matter how many times you visit (this was my sixth trip...yes, I can direct you to any bathroom in the Magic Kingdom), there is always something new to experience. We checked out the new parade, Rapunzel bathrooms and, the biggest change since last visit, the Seven Dwarfs ride. True to Disney style, there are SO many fun details that make this two minute kiddie roller coaster 110% magical.
3. Guys, I'm a sucker for anything seasonal. Not in a snowman earring sorta way but in a when it's fall I want to see pumpkins, goshdarnit sorta way. Disney any time of the year is beautiful. But Disney during the holidays is that much more special. The Christmas decorations are my very favorite but no one can deny that even when it comes to fall decor...Disney's nailed it.
4. Generally, Disney on a holiday is NOT a good idea. But Labor Day was the last day of the Frozen Summer Fun party at Disney's Hollywood Studios. And when you're traveling with two little girls as Frozen obsessed at Ellie and Carmella you do what you have to do. Frozen singalong, Frozen stage show, Frozen parade, Frozen dance party, Frozen fireworks...basically everything was blue and snowing with "Let it Go" blaring. But it was such a fun day and seeing the girl's faces...I'm sold. The fireworks, which told the Frozen story as narrated by Olaf, were truly spectacular and some of Disney's best.
5. The key to surviving Disney with little ones? Don't try to do it all in one day. We did a lot of half days and post-nap time evenings for dinner and a nighttime show. It made for some super fun evenings and never forget...when the kids are rested and happy, we're all happy.
6. What's better than Disney World? Starbucks IN Disney World. Guys, it's just the best. And the Disney themed Starbucks cups? Melt my heart.
7. No Disney trip is complete without lunch at the Crystal Palace with Pooh Bear and friends. The food is far from noteworthy but seeing the kids (and my father...he's the quintessential Disney Dad) get so into the characters is priceless. Plus there is nothing like the respite of the cool dining room on a hot afternoon to recharge your batteries for the rest of the day. Henry was hilarious with the characters...he was so taken with them and was shouting his little heart out to get their attention...but as soon as they got near he completely flipped and would have nothing to do when 'em from afar, little one.

8. The Magic Kingdom is NOT a fun place to be when it's raining. But there we were, smack in the middle of Main Street during a downpour. Us and every other person in the Magic Kingdom takes cover which means you have lots of sweaty, stinky, bodies crammed together in tight places. Then, out of nowhere, there's music and people dancing in galoshes and a spontaneous parade takes shape right there on Main Street. And all of the sudden you don't feel so crabby about being wet. Guys, these moments are when Disney shines. The impromptu shows, parades, flash mobs...this is where the magic happens.
9. We don't generally eat at Italian restaurants. Why would I even want to when my mom makes everything better? But after many recommendations we finally made reservations at Via Napoli while touring Epcot's World Showcase. When it comes to marinara we are pretty snobby...and their marinara left much to be desired. But the food was not half bad and the service (combine Disney employee + Italian and you're pretty much golden) was amazing. We had such a fun afternoon just chilling around the Italy pavilion. It's slow and sweet and peaceful. The performers, the architectures, the tables outside the wine shops...atmosphere perfection.
10. On our last day, my parents put together a Disney scavenger hunt. We teamed up by twos to complete certain list items...interview a cast member, take a team selfie, create a magical moment (such as singing loud, loud, loud on Small World, sneaking in an extra round on Buzz Lightyear after park closing...), find pixie dust, putt your hands in the air on the Splash Mountain drop (AND getting a picture to prove it) get the idea. We all had so much fun and it really made the otherwise sad last day 110% more special.
And THAT is the Reader's Digest edition of my Disney Vacation. Have you ever been to Disney World/Land? I would LOVE to hear some of your favorite memories!