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Ninety-degree heat didn’t stop the gawkers. She wasn’t dripping in diamonds, but it was still an iconic red carpet moment. Other then a Toyota Tundra Pick Up she had no famous designers to tout and no work done to freshen her up. She exuded more royalty then Princess Kate, more poise then Angelina and attracted more crowds then Lindsey and Kim combined.
Space Shuttle Endeavor was making her way home. I stood in my backyard and watched as she flew over accompanied by two F18 fighter jets. I was struck by how gigantic she was. My children told me that they jumped up and down on the school playground as she passed overhead. My son swore that the plane flew so close they could see the pilot wave. All over the city people watched from office buildings, streets and freeways.
A few weeks later we watched on the news as she made her journey to the Los Angeles Science Center. She rolled past the same streets that saw riots in 1992, past old houses with paint chipping away, past Randy’s Donuts, car washes and zig zagged past trees that had been planted in honor of Dr. King. Our city was buzzing.
We didn’t join the throngs in person that day. Life interfered, as it often does. Between religious school, play dates and my husband’s garage door project the moment escaped us. I could have used that celestial connection as a reminder of things greater than what we are assaulted with day-to-day.
As the Mayan calendar approaches 12/12/12, the news isn’t good. Apparently the sky is finally falling, nuclear warheads being built, guns banned, unions busted and jobs dried up. I look at my children and wonder am I supposed to tell them have fun at that birthday party because your future is pretty much caput. There will be no water, cold weather or money left for that matter and we’ll surely have fallen off the debt cliff.
As we batter our government for it’s excess spending I am grateful for the line item of the 1980’s budget that brought us Endeavor. Astronauts who flew her looked back at earth and remarked that we are in fact a small world after all.
We’ve all been through rough times since the great recession began. I know, In December of 2008 my family lost everything in the Bernard Madoff debacle. Every penny we had was gone.
In spite of it all I consider myself lucky. I live in a fantastic country during a most opportune time. I am free to work as hard as my spirit can take me. Where an unimaginable Endeavor can roll past Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffle house.
I think it’s time to move on from all of this fear and hate. LA’s welcoming of Endeavor proved that we can still dare to dream. Even though we love our Los Angeles bling we treasure even more our new space shuttle.
Reviewed by Lily Williams
Please pardon my pun, but I have to say that Pitch Perfect hits all the right notes.
I’m here all night, ladies and gentlemen!
Anna Kendrick has been extremely busy this year – Pitch Perfect is her fifth movie to hit theaters in 2012. She’s showed her mastery through different genres in all of her films: political thrillers, action dramas, and now musical comedy. In Pitch Perfect, she plays Beca, an alt-rocker and aspiring Los Angeles DJ in her first year at Barden College. Her father, a comparative literature teacher at the college, notices her antisocial behavior and gives her an ultimatum; if she attempts to fit in and still doesn’t find her place, he will let her pursue her dreams in Los Angeles. Just to please her father, she joins the Barden Bellas, one of the school’s many a cappella groups and attempts to bring a new sound to their old-school style.
Pitch Perfect stars some of comedy’s favorite scene-stealers, including John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks as a cappella judges, and Rebel Wilson (Bridesmaids) as group member Fat Amy. They deliver hilarious jokes throughout the movie, but unfortunately, don’t give the other characters much room to make the audience laugh. In almost every group rehearsal scene, you are on the edge of your seat waiting for Amy to make a snarky joke. Not all the comedy, however, is quick witted. At slower points in the movie, physical comedy is obviously depended on to keep scenes moving. Whether gross-out techniques or unexpected silly dances, it usually ends up sophomoric and never too funny. Even when it doesn’t make you laugh out loud, Pitch Perfect will end up winning you over with its entertaining musical numbers and lighthearted tone.
Pitch Perfect uses swear words generously, which will obviously not surprise parents of high school age children, but may leave parents of younger kids wary. Many sexual and drug-related references are included to illustrate college life, and are often negative. Bullying is a major topic in this movie, even if slightly understated, and leaves room for discussion between parents and kids. All in all, its PG-13 rating is right on the mark for this uplifting comedy.
I can’t remember much of the early morning of September 11, 2001. But I’m going to guess it went something like this: Eleven years ago, I got up, put on my sneakers, and took the bus to school. There was probably a card for me on the table, and I would guess both my parents and sister and gotten up early to see me off. I most likely brought some type of baked good to class, but it was soon forgotten, as our usual rowdy lunch was shifted to something more quiet, with teachers walking in and out of the room, mumbling to each other, hands clasped over their mouths. While that half of the day is still fuzzy to me, the second part is burned in my mind. I walked out of school to see my dad standing by the buses, waiting to take me home after school. I had some idea that something was going on that day: the teachers, kids being pulled from class, but my fifth-grade self was purely overjoyed to see her father, home from work, there to pick her up on her birthday.
As he drove me home he tried to explain to a newly turned ten-year-old about the horrific events that had unfolded that morning, but all I could focus on was the black cloud clearly visible across the Hudson River. At home my mom shut off the news but I didn’t want to attend to anything else. I think I stopped talking for the day. I immediately felt guilty for my joy that morning, for feeling excited that I had made it to the age of double digits when members of my community were losing one another by the thousands. How could I be so wrapped up in myself when such a tragedy was playing out less than an hour away?
I then didn’t have the vocabulary to explain the range of emotions shooting through me all at once. I felt sick to my stomach. I knew plenty of my classmates, including myself, had parents who work in the city; how many of them were close to or in the Towers? I felt upset, because I could no longer revel in what was one of my most celebrated days in the year. And then I was angry with myself, for being so selfish that I could think about something so trivial when something much greater and important was escalating around us.
Although I didn’t know it at the time, I was gripped with anxiety attacks throughout the next couple of years, intensifying around the beginning of September. I didn’t want to go into the city. I was afraid to open mail. I didn’t want to have birthday parties, for this self-ascribed selfishness tore through me at any moment I began to think about myself at that time of year. I hesitated to tell people my birthday because responding to the “I’m so sorry” or “That sucks” required a combination answer of explaining that it wasn’t so bad but that I simultaneously had this conscience weighing on me constantly. My family would love to celebrate my birthday, going out to dinner and opening gifts, but I secretly despised these displays of attention that I felt were undeserved.
Slowly I pulled out of my September sadness. It started by celebrating on a different day and keeping the eleventh solely for remembrance. When I turned seventeen my birthday brought a whole new meaning: the freedom of driving. For the first time I was looking forward to something exciting and felt overwhelmed with happiness when some friends surprised me with an impromptu gathering that night. Eighteen and nineteen brought adulthood and college, and I was beginning to allow bits of “me” into the day. Being in Ireland when I turned twenty was difficult without my usual support system, but the love my host family showed for me made me truly comfortable.
Those I love have helped me find this happiness on my birthday. I have amazing friends and family who understand that I don’t like talking about that day. They stayed on the phone with me when I was in Ireland and experiencing anxiety when I couldn’t escape the news coverage of the tenth anniversary of the attacks. They allow me to feel that even though I did not lose someone I loved that day, I still experienced loss. Most importantly, they make it okay to think about myself today. For this year’s birthday, when two of my best friends came to my house at midnight, ringing the doorbell incessantly and armed with a balloon, beer, and M&Ms, I was given the courage to finally write what I’ve been thinking about for eleven years. They gave me the validation that until now I had trouble giving myself.
I can’t, and don’t want to ever forget September 11th, 2001. Many incredible people from my town lost their lives and I think about them and their families all the time. When I graduated middle school I received the Walter Travers Award for Integrity, and although it was “just” middle school graduation, I have never been so honored to be the recipient of any recognition. Although I did not know him personally, Mr. Travers1 was a loved member of our community and almost every day I think about the ideals that he and the award created in his memory upheld.
Today is my 21st birthday and I’ve never felt more at peace with this day. I want to share this because I've discovered it has shaped a large part of who I am. I want others struggling with the same things to know that it’s normal, and that finding the balance between yourself and others takes a long time. It’s taken me eleven years, but I finally know that it’s okay to be happy on my birthday.
Jenna Kronenberg is a senior at Vassar College studying Language Development and Communication. When not in class you can find her in the dance studio or volunteering as a peer counselor for CARES, Vassar's student-run service for students dealing with issues of personal violation. This year, Jenna hopes to combine her love of writing, storytelling, and performance arts into her terribly daunting but exciting senior thesis on gossip, rumors, and other forms of unofficial communication. Nervous about leaving the "Vassar bubble" and still unsure of where next year will lead her, she hopes to be working in a field where she can work on a creative team and make people laugh all day long.
1. Walter P. Travers Jr., a broker with Cantor Fitzgerald, was forced to evacuate his office in the North Tower of the World Trade Center on February 26, 1993. The arduous journey down 101 flights of dark , smoke-filled stairs, holding the shoulders of the person in front of him, took him five hours.
Wally Travers was killed at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.