"" Writer's Wanderings: March 2007

Saturday, March 17, 2007

The dark side of Disney--Fantasmic

Those of my readers who subscribe to my Journeys newsletter received a Disney World edition this week. We had planned for the whole family to be together for a week there but learned shortly after making deposits on the vacation home that one son and his wife were expecting to deliver a baby that week. They allowed us to take the "big sister" along however and so 11 of us (7 "big kids" and 4 under the age of 5) spent a whirlwind week soaking up all that is Disney and remembering the times together when our boys were small.

Disney World has changed over the years. I wonder what Walt would think of it now? More and more, the rides are getting darker and spookier. While we enjoyed many of the shows and rides with preschoolers (It's a Small World, Dumbo, The Little Mermaid, etc.) there were some we entered and had to quickly exit. One such show was Fantasmic.

Fantasmic is the huge production put on in the evening at Disney MGM. The last time we saw it--a few years ago, it was a spectacular water, laser, video, parade, and fireworks show all rolled into one. The theme was Mickey's Fantasia movie and pink elephants danced across walls of water spray, green laser lights drew cartoon characters in the mist, and boats full of princesses and other happy Disney characters passed before the crowd. If Dorothy had been in the crowd with Toto, she might have turned to her little dog, hid his eyes, and exclaimed, "We're not in Disney any more!"

The villains--mostly female, by the way--have been made as popular as the heroes and heroines. They are featured in honored positions in the parades and in Fantasmic, they are the stars. Mickey's dream has turned into Mickey's nightmare and it will be the nightmare of many a young child in the weeks following thier Disney adventure watching the "evening spectacular."

So, a word of warning for those of you taking those impressionable youngsters. When the ride says "might frighten young children," you can almost count on it. If you can, ride first to preview the ride. Some of the rides are on video segments at the Disney site and may give you some idea. Also, The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World is an excellent reference, giving you some idea of what to ride with each age group you take.

One more thing: Don't expect to see everything all in one week. That's why all the signs leaving the park say "See ya real soon!"

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Time Spent

In a few weeks it will be my 60th birthday.

At 30 I felt like I had definitely reached adulthood. At 40 I was using L’Oreal (a darker shade than I do now) but I was worth it! At 50 I was looking at a writing career that had some potential. At 60 I’m thinking of my mother who died at 62.

Time is a gift given every second of every day.

We enjoyed a comedienne and singer, Judy Kolba, a few weeks ago on a cruise ship. She ended her performance with a reminder of how precious time is. It’s something we cannot bank for tomorrow or borrow from yesterday. It is here and now in the moment. We are each allotted the same amount of hours, minutes, and seconds each day.

Another comedian, Will Rogers said, “Half our life is spent trying to find something to do with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.”

Time management becomes a hot topic for busy people but it usually means adjusting schedules, time saving applications and devices, or how to do more in less time. To what end? To have more time to be more productive, or to make more money, or sometimes, hopefully to relax. But how can we relax when we continually stress out over how we can save time? And time can’t be saved. It can only be spent.

Today you started with 86,400 seconds. About 28,000 of those will be spent sleeping. That leaves around 58,000 to be spent working, eating, exercising, playing and all the other little odds and ends we don’t even think about. The seconds tick away like the cursor that blinks at you on your computer—waiting for you to do something.

How will you spend those precious seconds today? Some people say they can determine a person’s priorities in life by looking at their checkbook. I would challenge that. While money may be a good indicator of what you consider important in life, I think taking a good look at your PDA, your Blackberry, or, if you’re like me, the old fashioned calendar on the wall will show you where your heart truly lies.

I remember the last time I saw my mother alive and well. Dad had just bought her a new car and she came to the house to show me. I was busy cleaning. We were expecting company that evening. (Don't snicker. When you have 5 small children, you have to clean for company!) I took some time to look the car over and compliment her on her choice but I was rushing and she knew it. She didn’t stay long. She had something to do, she said. How I wish I had spent a few more seconds with her that day--long enough to say, "I love you, Mom."

You can borrow money. You can save it for tomorrow. But the time you have today is only for today. Horace Mann penned this little classified ad: "Lost, yesterday, somewhere between Sunrise and Sunset, two golden hours, each set with sixty diamond minutes. No reward is offered, for they are gone forever."

The gift of time. 86,400 seconds today. How will you spend them?

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Thank you for smoking

Yesterday I had to take my car to the E-Check where they look it over, stick a probe in the tailpipe and test for bad emissions. My little car passed. Since it's a newer model, our state only requires I do this every other year before renewing the license plates. The last time I took the car (my husband did it in '05), I had to pay around $20 or so to have it done. This time it was free!

"Free?" The mantra my kids have heard over the years is: Nothing in life is free.

"Yes," the man answered, "you can thank all your friends who smoke."

I chuckled. What are we going to do when we finally convince people that smoking is bad for their health? Not smoking could be bad for our economy. After all, around here we have a stadium, an arena, improved city blocks, an arts program, and a free E-Check (I'm sure there's more I don't know) thanks to all those smokers paying a hefty tax to destroy their lungs.

So, to you who smoke: Thanks for all the freebies! I hope you will live long and be healthy enough to enjoy them too!
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