88 Miles Per Hour

back-to-the-future-DeLoreanI, too, wanted to own a DeLorean.

The first time I saw Back to the Future was in 1989, complements of my mother’s inability to stretch ratings so that PG-13 might be watchable by, say, an 11-year old. So I missed it on the big screen, a regret I hope to rectify once the 30th anniversary comes around and they realize they should have a late-night showing of the greatest movie of all time. No, not Gone With the Wind, but the still shockingly relevant time travel film from 1985 that continues to captivate both young and old. I will be the first one with tickets.

When I first saw that DeLorean head down the Twin Pines parking lot, picking up speed so it could get to 88 miles per hour, then leaving twin trails of blazing fire in its wake, I was in awe. Even in 1989 I felt that it was possible for people to slip the bonds of time. I even created a journal that was all about my adventures in different eras. Still I am reminded of some of the more interesting entries: me with the 12 disciples, on board the Titanic, that time period right before the civil war, climbing Everest first, and even more. What made all these entries spectacular was that when I read them I was transported to those places, in those times. So I guess the value of words is that they can help to suspend belief and expand a sense of wonder. Like a child. Back to the Future was one of the rare movies that did the same thing, taking me on a trip.

And it still does. I watched the movie for the 48th time just the other day, and there’s always something new I see every single time. There’s some new connection I make or deeper understanding of life and the world around me. Did you know that there’s a religion dedicated to and on the flux capacitor? Okay, so that’s taking it a bit too far, but it once again shows the everlasting reach of the film into every facet of society. People from Bruce Springsteen to Pavel Bure have listed it as their favorite movie, and so many famous lines from the film crop up in other recent films. Imitation really is the sincerest form of flattery.

Those doors that swung up with a whoosh, that freezing cold door handle, the flashing dates on the dashboard, all the things that make the most famous car in history so famous, they all make me still crave a DeLorean. But not just any DeLorean. When Marty McFly crashes it into that barn on November 5, 1955, it is just the beginning, and not until it ends up in the old west in the third film do you realize you won’t see it again except by watching it again. So I’ve kept watching all three films, and I think after so many viewings the producers should just give me that DeLorean by the time the 30th anniversary comes around in 2015.

For old times’ sake.

Sam

Advertisements

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Off to School

Since the time I could first form memories, I knew that I was different. For one, I was a vegetarian. There was no meat in our house, as both of my parents were vegetarians, so I never had any, and I never had any cause to be around any. Secondly, I went to a church school. Now, if you’ve never been to a church school, or even to a private school, there are some things you need to know about it:

1) A church school has classes like Religion, and Bible Study

2) A church school is first and foremost centered around the church, so only those from that particular religion are accepted in the school

3) A church school is very costly to maintain, so there is a pretty steep tuition component

4) A church school requires a uniform

Our uniform was navy blue pants and a yellow button-down shirt for the boys, and a pleated navy cross-hatch skirt or dress with a yellow button-down shirt for the girls. We were checked for properly pressed clothing (no problem for me, as my mother was fastidious about this aspect) on a daily basis. You were always expected to have a second uniform available in case the initial one was dirtied. Boys were also expected to wear a tie on most days, preferably in navy, and some of the girls wore ties as well. Needless to say, with these strict uniforms there was absolutely no room for individuality, but that wasn’t the point. The point was to make clothing a non-issue, and it worked, except that we all couldn’t stand the uniforms.

The fact of tuition caused many problems as well. You see, our school, Larchwood SDA School, was funded by several Philadelphia area churches, so students came from all over, from each of the “sister” churches. Some churches had more money to assist their students, while other students had to foot the bill themselves, and within their families. Since their families were not rich, they had to struggle to get by, and sometimes they had to leave the school mid-semester to go to a public school. It was always a depressing time when one of our classmates was in this predicament, and would disappear before the year was done.

Also, because only Seventh-Day Adventists were accepted in the school, we didn’t have any exposure whatsoever to the outside world. Everyone there thought like us, believed what we believed, and there really wasn’t room for argument or debate. While it was a good thing to have others like us we didn’t have to always explain our religion to, it was also bad to not get to question our faith. Because it is in the questioning of your faith that you grow and mature as an individual, and collectively.

Finally, with classes like Religion, and Bible Study, that counted toward our final GPA each year, it was a veritable church meeting we went to each day. Due to this, I think I can quote entire passages from just about any book in the Bible (well, that and the fact that my father is a preacher). This serves me well when I get into a battle of scripture with just about anyone these days. I’m still not sure if I’m grateful for this or mortified by it. Probably a little bit of both.

Growing up SDA was a phenomenal experience because it was like a completely different world from the world outside. Insular in its complexity, and set apart from the rest of the world, it was unique. It definitely helped me to become the person I am today, and for that I am grateful.

Sam

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Taking the SATs on Sunday

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Suiting Up

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Being a “Preacher’s Kid” [Freshly Pressed]

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: A Different Kind of Brother

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Divisions

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Academy Life

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Getting Healthy

Growing Up Seventh-Day Adventist: Keeping the Sabbath

So This is the New Year

I remember when we were all looking forward, not backward, to the millennium. We figured out how old we would be when the clock struck 12 over a brand new world. We listened to Prince’s 1999 on repeat, trying to glean some deeper knowledge and understanding of our brave new world from it. We used every New Year’s Eve between then and the end of 1999 as a mock millennium celebration, and we dressed our dogs up in tissue paper. Ah, those were the days.

Can you believe that was 13 years ago? And each time another date switches from the current year to the present perfect year, yet again, I am reminded of that feeling. Because it was pure, unadulterated joy and anticipation that hasn’t been matched since. Sure, I had water stocked up in barrels “just in case that Y2K thing was real,” but even that was an adventure.

Now what is there? As I read my Facebook wall today, I see repeating mediocre themes that don’t even remotely measure up. People are talking about their resolutions, while others are saying how resolutions are stupid. People are talking about how this is going to be better than 2012, while others are pointing out that we said the same thing at the end of 2011. While still others are trying to convince us that 2013 won’t be unlucky even though it has the unlucky number in it. I think my six year old has the right idea. She says it’s just an excuse to have a party.

Who will I be kissing when the new year arrives? My pillow. I’m old. I think back to the age I was when I was dreaming of Y2K and I laugh out loud to think how naive I was, but also have serious nostalgia for that time, because everything was so fresh and new, even if it was just in our heads, and it will never be that way again.

Sam

The Scene Remains: A Poem (inspired by Monet’s landscape painting)

Glittering reflection shining on cool, calm waters

Extending both north and south of the shore

Old-fashioned avenues juxtaposed for show

Jutting high into the air above Étretat.

Three identical boats dock, though untethered

Pointing toward the horizon of a new day

Cellophane clouds float past in clear skies

Wishing for conscious release.

She peers out from behind the blinds

From the building on the left of the avenue

Longing for her own physical release

From oppressive natures long enslaved.

The light winks on and off intermittently

Like some kind of obscure Morse code

A flittering, fluttering butterfly, light,

Airy, floating with the drunken breeze.

A steeple rises from the center of the lane

Possibly a church or a tower stately tall

For penitents or beggars to shelter near

Begging for merciful natures to emerge.

Glittering reflection shining on rippling waters

Eyes in a face long bedaubed in tears

Staring starkly back into those hazel eyes

Until she turns away

And the scene remains.

Sam

U Better Recognize

You know how it is when you see someone you haven’t seen in weeks, months, or even years, and you recognize them, you make eye contact, and there is no recognition there. So you pretend you don’t know them either, and you keep walking. I mean, how embarrassing is it when you say someone’s name, and they have to pretend they remember you, and you both have to pretend they’re not pretending? Or maybe you’re on the other end of the reaction, the one embarrassed because you don’t recognize someone you know you should, but you have a horrible memory and it’s not really your fault.

If frustration has got you down, you should join me in requesting an app that could fix just that problem. It would be called KnowMe, and once you had it, you would never be in that awkward spot again. Here’s how it would work. You download the app and once you’re within 20 feet of someone you know, it would send you a text alerting you to their presence, giving you their name, and telling you how you know them. On a deeper level, it could also keep on file a picture of the person, and a GPS to tell you exactly where they are in relation to you. You could even turn off the app if you’re at a family reunion or somewhere else where you definitely know everyone there.

The only problem would be that everyone you know would have to have a SmartPhone and have downloaded the app themselves. But if they’re anything like you, they have a deplorable memory, or they are tired of pretending they know people and it being oh-so-obvious, they will definitely get the app as well. Then they enter in each person they want the app to remember, or they search for their acquaintances in the search engine, and voila! It’s done and you’re both ready to never be surprised by someone you marginally know ever again!

Sam

Going Clubbing

Reading a book should be a visceral experience, involving all of your senses as you live vicariously through the characters, character reactions, and character motivations. If this isn’t your experience when reading a book, either the book just isn’t very good, or you’ve just seen too many movies based on books and you expect the book to move as quickly. If the reason is the former, just stop reading that particular book. Life is too short to keep reading something that doesn’t affect you on a personal level. And if it’s the latter, stop watching movies based on books until you’ve read the books first. We all know the books are better, and that way you’re not judging the book based on the inferior movie.

So, now that you’re reading books that move you, books that shake you, and books that peak your imagination, you’re ready for the ultimate experience in reading: reading with others. More specifically, the book club experience. If you’ve never experienced being a member of a book club, and you call yourself a reader, you’re completely missing out. Don’t get me wrong, reading a book by and for yourself is wonderful, and you don’t have to give that up to be a part of a collective. However, branching out of your reading “comfort zone” and sharing your reactions with others can be quite enjoyable and illuminating.

The trick, though, is to find the right book club for you. You need to find a group of like-minded individuals, i.e. informed, discerning readers who appreciate the reading experience as much as you do, if not more so. One way to find those readers is through simply looking around you. You’d be surprised how many people you may be friends or acquaintances with fit this profile. So, ask around. Others may be trying to form a book club as well, or might have already done so, and you could just hitch a ride on their coattails (no reason to reinvent the wheel). If that method fails, though, you could try starting one of your own. What I did was canvas my Facebook friends to see who might be interested in a book club, and we went from there. Suddenly, I was in a book club with fourteen like-minded members, and that’s when the real fun began.

Book selection comes next, and while it’s extremely exciting, it’s also a quite daunting prospect. A helpful website (that can also house your book club) is bookmovement.com, a site that not only gives suggestions for book club selections, but also shows you what other book clubs who have registered on the site are reading. This can be very helpful with your brand new book club. Then you have to figure out if you’re just going to pick all the books your club reads, or if you’re going to let it be a group project. One method is to have a different member each month pick the book for that month, but another is to vote on each possible book every month. There are advantages and disadvantages to each, but, in the end, the decision is yours, and remember that you can change it if you feel it isn’t working the best it can for your club.

Then comes the discussion. It’s not good enough to just read the book and just let the discussion flow. While a lot of book clubs follow this method, it lends itself to a petering out of sorts. You exhaust yourselves of topics that come to mind right away and you’re left with time and nothing planned to fill it. So, in order to avoid the void, simply do an internet search for book club discussion questions, and of course add your book title. People have already done the work for you in most cases, you’ll find out when you do the search, and you now have ready-made questions for when there’s a lull in the discussion. You’ll find it helps out a lot, and your clubbers will be grateful that you thought of it.

I’ve also found that for longer books, you may need to add on time, so instead of a month to read something like Stephen King, or like the Lincoln biography that is over 1000 pages, give your clubbers two months to read it. They will appreciate you for that as well. And choose books that aren’t brand new on the shelf. Not everyone is flush with money like you are, so by choosing books that have just made it to paperback, or have a large library presence, you’ve given more people options to acquire a copy of the book. Oh, and also, if anyone gets wind of your club and wants in, don’t be elitist. Let them join. The more the merrier! Happy clubbing!

Sam

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: