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Where were you on 9/11? September 10, 2010

My husband and I were talking last night about impact events. An impact event is a moment never lost in the stream of daily minutia. That is why we celebrate and mourn them; weddings, births, deaths, national tragedies…we feel compelled as humans to venerate the day so we never forget.

My parents still remember where they were November 22, 1963, sitting in their school classrooms wondering why their teachers were to choked up to talk. On January 28, 1986 I was home sick from 6th grade, watching television at the neighbor’s house when cartoons were interrupted to watch the live Challenger launch and then explosion. I remember driving to work on April 19, 1995 sobbing in my car when the Oklahoma City bombing was reported on the radio. These days are etched on my memory as vividly as my wedding day and birth of my children.

September 11, 2001 was an impact event felt the world over. My husband and I were in a small outback town in Australia. He was there on deployment, and I had flown to meet him. Our one year old daughter was in Chicago with her grandparents, and we had called in to check on her before going to bed. His mother answered the phone and said turn on CNN, which we did…just in time to see the second plane angle to the building and plow through. I was numb. My mother-in-law was sobbing, clinging she said to our daughter. At the time she had an office in the Chicago Sears Tower. She did not go into work for days after the tragedy, because our world had gone mad and no one knew what might happen next.

My husband and I started to pack. Within 30 minutes a car was sent to get us from our hotel, and sped to the safety of base. I spent the next two days in an underground bunker with 300 Marines preparing for…for who knew what at the time. These incredibly brave men and women were mobilized, horrified, sad, even devastated perhaps…but ready and resolved. I envied them. I couldn’t stop crying and worrying. I envied them because they could do something about it, and all I could do was kneel at the base chapel alter and pray.

They began to mobilize and I had to leave. That was a surreal drive through the outback…by myself…going 120 mph (no speed limits), dodging road trains…trying to get back to Darwin to get a plane into Sydney and then perhaps home. I barely made it to Sydney. I landed at midnight, and Ansett Airlines went out of business minutes after I landed. I was fortunate to get a hotel room in Sydney, there were very few left.

The atmosphere in Sydney was so different from the week we had been there prior. It was somber, reflective and a little frightened. I will forever be indebted, as an American, to the Australian people. They were supportive and loving to what felt like an instant community of refugees. They held memorial services for us in their churches. Everywhere I went there were hugs, tears, offers of support and prayers from complete strangers.

For me, and the many Americans I met there…waiting like me to go home…getting on an airplane felt as frightening as climbing Mt. Everest. I got one of the last tickets on the first plane to leave Australia. All I wanted to do was get to Chicago and hug my daughter tight. The only ticket I could get was into Los Angeles, and then it was unknown when I could get a flight from there…but at least I would be on home soil. I guarantee you, America never felt as much like home to me as at that moment.

It took almost eight hours to get through Sydney airport security…and no one in that line cared. We wanted them to search everything. I was flying United, and the pilot and flight attendants gave instructions through tears. Strangers hugged each other and put down their books to talk with their seat mates. People shared stories, prayed together and even held hands during take off. When we finally landed at LAX, a cheer strangled through tears and sobs, went up through the plane. On man knelt on the terminal ground and kissed it when we got off the plane. We were Americans, in that small microcosm of our country, we were united.

Landing in LAX was like stepping into a war zone. National guard soliders with M-16s and police officers geared like SWAT almost outnumbered the passengers. I literally had left one country a month earlier and returned to a completely different one. Eventually I made it home to hug my baby. I didn’t let go for a long time. I was grateful though…there were a lot of mothers who would never hug their babies again.

Although we will never forget 9/11, the farther away we have moved from it, the more its lessons fade in our minds. That is why we need to venerate the day – listen to the reading of the names, remember to hug your family, pray with a complete stranger, and hold the hands of our fellow Americans in gratitude for the wonderful country we live in.

Always Remember…Where were you on 9/11? Share your story in the comments below.

 

NOLA December 1, 2009

My new chap book is ready for purchase! To see a preview and place an order, click on the link below. If you purchase this chapbook, I am happy to sign and number this limited edition run. **Now through December 15th you can get FREE 2nd day air shipping on THREE books. Use the promo code BUYTHREE when checking out.

By Amie Charney

 

STOP RANDOM acts of kindness April 26, 2008

Random Acts of Kindness, the “movement” started a few years ago.

It is time for it to end.

Instead, let’s start doing them on purpose!

You say, this is only semantics Amie….well look at what the “semantics” say about it…

Def of random: without definite aim, direction, rule, or method. synonyms haphazard, casual mean determined by accident rather than design. Random stresses lack of definite aim, fixed goal, or regular procedure.

Let’s start looking… actively looking… for ways to lend a hand, meet a need, support and encourage our communities.

Let’s be purposeful…intentional…meaningful.

If we looked at our fellow humans intent on meeting their needs, not only would we start to change humanity, but ourselves. It doesn’t have to be large gestures… so often, all people need are simple things to make their day easier and brighter.

I recently was on Camp Pendelton, a large Marine base out here in So-Cal.  Ahead of me was a young women, a marine, juggling an arm full of packages. Everytime she got one settled, another would drop. I wasn’t in a particular hurry, so I asked her if I could carry some of them.  To be honest… (I am ashamed to say) if I had been in a real time crunch, I probably would not have stopped to help her…

At first, she said no. Then another package dropped. I picked it up, and took a couple more in my arms.

She teared up.

“You really don’t mind?”

I teared up.

“The post office run is always the errand I hate the most.” I reassure. “I know what it’s like to have to juggle a ton of packages, a baby car carrier…with another in tow.”

She said that the care packages were for her husband in Iraq. All Copenhagen 🙂 He didn’t want anything else. It was his third time over there, and he would be getting home about a month before she was leaving for her second tour.

As I walked with her to the post office, I could tell she was a little shocked that someone would go the distance with her…which I thought was sad. She thanked me profusely.

We parted ways with a brief hug between strangers, and I left truly honored that I could lend a hand. I felt light and giddy….and on the hunt to find someone else to help. It had taken less than five minutes, but it changed my outlook forever.

We are the only Jesus that people may ever see. What we do reflects Him. We are His hands extended in charity, in sympathy, in love…

I challenge you to step out of your house every day and look forward to doing a Purposeful Act of Kindness…and not just one here or there… lets start a revolution of people acting out the simplest and most profound truth of all……Do unto others, as you would like to have done to you…

So what am I doing? Slowing down and letting people get by me (a feat on So-Cal freeways), I am smiling and saying hello to the people I pass, giving more hugs, looking for people who need an extra hand …and actually extending it, I am setting aside a little pin money each week to treat someone to a meal, to gas in their tank, to mailing a care package for them. I am actively looking for someone, every day, to be kind to.You might say, that you aren’t aware of anyone in need…or that it’s to big an issue to tackle.

I have your first mission… please accept it.

Being a  military wife about to face deployment, I can tell you the families back home can always use an act of kindness. Every little bit helps. I would encourage you to not only display your solidarity with a ribbon, but to display it with actions. If you know a family affected by this; write a note, offer a lawn mow, a game of catch with their children, a laundry folding party, a home-cooked meal that they don’t have to make, rake up fallen leaves or change light bulbs in places they can’t reach… a hug. Simple actions say more than 10,000 words sometimes. 

…and these ideas are just a start… we need to take the blinders off and take a long look at the world around us… noticing need is the first step… now meet it.

…be purposeful in the way we treat one another, I guarantee you will get back in happiness 10x’s more than the effort it took to do it.

Care to join me? Comment about what your plan is today… 

 

 

Mr. Piano Man March 18, 2008

Filed under: art,children,Culture,family,humor,life,shopping — writetools @ 4:07 am
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I live in a mid size, Southern California hamlet whose motto should read “Kid’s Rule.” As a parent, it is a great place to raise children…a bit intense, bordering on Stepford….but for a kid it’s one step away from nirvana. It is with this framework in mind, I ask you, what would you do?

First, a little background. To the horror of the So-Cal SMS (Suburban Mom Syndicate), I have decided to teach my children to play the piano…myself. I grew up playing, and am not without skills. However, to the Mommies support group who hold counsel at our local park, the thought of my bucking tradition (tradition is to hire a team of competent professionals to mold your progeny) is “cute”.  Their french tips tap as they seriously caucus over this break in parenting protocol.

“You know, Amber London Kate only takes lessons from Mr. Pianoman. He really gets that kids M-U-S-T must learn proper fingering.” she bends into tree pose. “If they don’t learn to hold their fingers correctly, then why bother even getting them lessons. I mean, maybe if they only want to play at Nordstroms.”

“Oh,” I ask, “do you play?”

“Well I own a Yamaha baby grand, it looks so cute in my living room. My designer Heath picked out the mahogany one, because everyone has black.”

Which tells me she can’t even play chopsticks.

“You should go to the Yamaha store and talk to Mr. Pianoman.” Can you sound reverent and superior at the same time? “He is the only one I would trust.” 

I have decided it would be cheaper to send my children to Julliard. With compound interest on what I would pay Mr. Pianoman, I can at least make it through their junior year.

My mantra, I will not cave to BMS (Burb’s Mommie Syndrom). I will not drink the kool-aid. Definition of BMS: the belief that a well rounded child must play like Mozart, translate Proust, solve quantum equations, be on the Olympic track in (pick whatever sport costs the most) and have their first gallery showing by eight.

I pile the kids into my gas efficient domestic, and drive to see Mr. Piano Man. We walk into the store and I bee-line to the piano primer books. It was like navigating Barnes and Noble. I look for help.

And there he was… the Piano Man. I was schlepping, I admit it. I had on my ball cap, rainbows, and cargos…. but hey, he has a comb over. Evidently, I didn’t deserve help from Maestro. I gather up some books and head to his desk. I wait, and wait…wishing now I had sprung for a manicure, so I could tap my french tips.  Seeing that I am not going to leave, he peers at me.

“Which book would you recommend as a basic piano primer.”

“Who teaches them?” a slight flicker of interest.

“I am going to.”

Superior sneer. “Oh…I see. Can you play?”

I blink. Really? Why would I try to teach something I can’t do. The door bell chimes from across the room. Through the windows I see a mom dragging her kids out of a black Denali. As her Manolo heels click across the marble floor, Maestro leaps like a gazelle to help her.

Suddenly, he stops mid stride and bellows. “Who is playing the piano?” I hear nothing.

Finally, I hear a quiet tinkle coming from the corner. A tinkle mind you, not a pound, not a slap….a tinkle. As he begins striding toward it, I see a shoe… dangling from a bench. I know that shoe.

“Oh. that’s my son.” I say proudly.

“Does he know how to play?”

I guess chopsticks doesn’t count. I look at the primer books in my hand. He looks at the primer books in my hand, level 1.

“That’s a 30,000 dollar piano. You need to leave and take him out of here.”

I look at the cheap Yamaha Chinese knock off. It is not 30 grand. He sneers. I raise my chin and stare him down…then snort with as much queenly air as my ball cap can muster.  “So I guess you don’t want my business then.”

“Not if it is going to ruin my piano.”

“To bad, because that is the model I was looking at buying.” I lied. I wouldn’t buy that cheap knock off.

He turned away, back to Mrs. Manolo’s.

I grab my children. Never will I darken those doors. I am calling Yamaha, I am calling the Chamber, I am calling my SMS. I hear a click on the marble and a rush of kids running past.

“But Mrs. Manolo’s, I didn’t mean YOUR children.”

“Evidently, you don’t know what kind of town you work in. We are child friendly here. You must not need the business… and it was a tinkle.”

Wow! I look at her. She blinds me her zoom whitened smile. “We moms need to stick together,” she says sliding into kid leather seats.

Evidently she must think I drank the kool-aid.

So, here is where you come in. Revenge….a dish best served cold. I am thinking of borrowing my brother-in-law’s convertible BMW, and sliding out of it in my Manolo’s and Armani. I am sure that Piano boy won’t recognize me. I am thinking of sitting at the real 30 grand piano, and playing him my first concerto. Ohhh, he will be so impressed. I will knock him over with my piano knowledge, and generally waste and hour or two of his time. Maybe I could borrow Heath for the day. I will sit in his pleather chairs, and decide to purchase it. Shocked, effusive, imaging the new car he will buy… I will start to hand over my credit card (To bad it’s not a black one…for true shock value) and then stop. I will look at him, as if trying to remember a distant memory….and as he grabs for my card…I will say. “I remember you now. Last week, you did not want my business. You wouldn’t let my son tinkle on your cheap, Chinese knock off piano and told us to leave. Then turn on heel, walk out,  and slide into my borrowed kid leather seats….

…hmmm….would it be so wrong? Accepting all comments…..

 

 
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