Did You Miss Me? Some Things Take Time

Fall leaves. They're a seasonal thing.

Fall leaves. They’re a seasonal thing.

Miles run today: 10

Days since I last posted: 11

Fish tacos eaten tonight for dinner: 2.5

First of all, just so you know, fall leaves are not easy to find in March.

Finding props for commercial shoots is part of my new job, and apparently, there is not a demand for fall leaves until at least August. So… if you go searching, I’m here to tell you that they will be mighty difficult to find.

Anywhoo….. I’ve missed all of you fellow bloggers tremendously! Apologies for not visiting and not commenting. I am trying to find my perfect work-life balance, and perhaps that’s not the easiest thing to achieve within the first one and a half weeks of a new job.

For my new job, sometimes I’ll get to blog! How fun.

So my new coworkers were wanting me to search through old photos to illustrate my first blog post… something about my time interning at CNN, or maybe my early jobs doing PR at hospitals. Here’s the thing: we didn’t used to have 24/7 access to cell phones with cameras. We didn’t chronicle our every breath. We didn’t have photos of us sitting at laptops… writing.

How very banal.

But it took me back to when I was in my early twenties, when my best friend and I used to frequent a wonderful bookstore (with real, non-e-books!) in Buckhead, right near the heart of Atlanta. In the summertime, the evenings would be humid and wonderful, and we had all the time in the world. We had no real responsibilities, no real pressures.

We would go out for big slabs of carrot cake and cups of Sumatra coffee at The Dessert Place, one of the coffee shops that preceded the rise of Starbucks, a place where the coffee bean roastery thingie was all exposed and beautiful in its steely-ness. We would peruse the (paper!) listing of goings-on downtown in Casual Loafing, circle some of them with red pen, talk about boys, and stroll through the streets to our favorite bookstore.

The bookstore was huge.

The whole thing was wooden, and there were two stories. Stories!

The shelves were wood, the floors were wood, and wherever there wasn’t wood, there were books. It smelled of coffee and wood and old, leafy pages.

We liked to hang out in the numerology and astrology section.

I’m not sure what we thought we would find there. Perhaps a boy? But boys didn’t go there. Too girly.

We combed the pages for hints as to how we would meet our soulmates. But mostly, we talked and laughed. Maybe our quest wasn’t for a boy after all; we were having way, way too much fun.

When we roamed the fiction section, one of the books I remember flipping back through was The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. Oh, how I loved that book!

A few days ago, my kids and I had run out of good books to read after trying a few boring samples on the Kindle. I started reading Sherlock Holmes to them.

“I don’t get it. Nothing’s happening,” my son said, lolling around the bed, the boredom rolling off of him in waves.

“Watson is explaining the sort of person Holmes is,” I told him. “Be patient.”

“Something needs to happen,” he said. “What’s the problem? The words are so… hard to understand.”

“Not everyone says ‘dude,'” I told him. “Holmes is a master of disguise. And he’s kind of quirky. I think you’re going to like him.”

“Where’s Bohemia?” my daughter asked. “Why are they lighting the lights? They didn’t have electricity?”

We got at least three-quarters of the way through the first story, and they both stopped wiggling. “There’s a photograph? And the king guy can’t get married because she’s blackmailing him?”

I’m here to tell you that Instagram and Snapchat aren’t so far removed from Holmes and his investigations. My kids started listening. And good.

Sometimes, adapting to new information takes time.

And sometimes, as I watch my kids adapt to new stuff, it makes me realize that I need time to adjust, too.

My whole early twenties were a time of adjustment. Combing through the photos made me remember that.

Good books didn’t used to jump right into the action. You had to warm up to it.

And new jobs, new phases of life, take a little adjustment, too.

What about you? Are you good at adapting? Or do you need a little warm-up?

Snail Mail, Lent and Chocolate

I will not be sad to see the cold go away.

I will not be sad to see the cold go away.

Miles run yesterday: 6

Temperature outside, with rain (my least favorite weather): 36

Bags of Cadbury’s Mini-Eggs almost gone: 1

Lent has the distinction of falling across another season: race season.

Two years ago, I was training and running my first marathon. Last year, I ran another half-marathon.

But also, there was the annual giving up of something, a skill set I am not entirely equipped to handle. And I was very, very hungry.

The year I trained for the marathon, I kept waking up in the middle of the night wanting to eat something; my stomach felt cavernous at least 23 hours a day.

One year, I gave up wine. (Not advisable.)

The next couple of years, the kids and I gave up chocolate. My kids were even more rigid than I was (“Hmmm. I’m pretty sure hot chocolate is in liquid form, which may not count.” “Mo-om!”) We were not very nice people during those days. And people kept offering us chocolate.

So this year, my kids put their feet down. Been there, done that.

They decided to add something instead of taking it away, which I find much easier. Much easier.

Each week, they are writing old-fashioned, handwritten, snail-mail letters.

My daughter whips several out in about 15 minutes.

My son sits at the table with a pen and stares at the paper. “What can I write about?”

My daughter starts listing: “The Y pool, middle school, the movie we watched, how we’re excited about summer camp, the book we’re reading…”

“Okay, okay!” My son leans over the paper and laboriously writes two sentences. “Now what?”

Last Saturday morning, I looked over my daughter’s letters. One to a friend in the neighborhood right next to ours said, “Hey, do you want to come over and play on Sunday?”

I looked over at my daughter. “Um. You do know that Monday is a federal holiday, and the mail won’t run, so your friend won’t even get this until at least Tuesday, right?”

Expression: horrified. “What? I’m putting it in the mail today.”

“Right. And… well, it’s not like email. It doesn’t get there the second you close the mailbox door. There’s like… travel and processing time.”

Disbelief. Sighs. Stomping. Re-writing.

And then, as I beg the Saturday mail carrier to stop at the corner of our road because our letters aren’t ready, my own disbelief: my daughter does not know how to address an envelope.

The address: written across the top of the envelope, no name, just an address. Barely room for a stamp. We had to send it sans name because the mail carrier was experiencing his own disbelief: Dude, is this really a matter of national significance? Just give me the mail, and let’s call it a day.

Her friend’s family received the letter and wondered, “Why, it’s a mystery! A letter for our house!”

And when her friend got the letter, she told her mom, “I got a real letter, through the mail, handwritten and everything! I want to do that, too!”

Sometimes things work out the way you think they will, sometimes things happen that you don’t expect.

I thought the letter-writing would be a feel-good, easy-to-accomplish Lenten activity. But it turns out, it may be almost as difficult as giving up chocolate.

Well, almost.

Forgiveness and Scrambled Eggs

Childhood... full of uncomfortable, awkward moments.

Childhood… full of uncomfortable, awkward moments.

Miles run Wednesday: 10

Near-maimings by a golf cart while on 10-mile run: 1

Miles to be run today: 4.5

I had a great childhood.

This is not a popular thing to say if publishers are, say, wanting to publish a memoir about someone’s years addicted to heroin or how someone’s parents drove them out into a field to be raised by wild dogs.

When I hear my peers talking about whether kids benefit from staying at home or being in daycare, I can speak about both: I had a stay-at-home mom for a while, a part-time stay-at-home mom, went to daycare for a few years and spent time as a latchkey kid. All pretty good, all things considered.

During the daycare years, I spent time at four different daycares; five if you count the hippy-dippy one I enjoyed for one week while we were living in an apartment just after a big move.

There is enough material for several posts about My Time in Daycare. For today, let me tell you all about the week-long, hippy-dippy one.

We had just moved to Atlanta, and we were living in some kind of new job-subsidized apartment until our house was ready. The apartment seemed cool to me, but my mom said that roaches the size of Rottweilers came out at night after my sister and I were already asleep.

While my mom and dad were working, or whatever they did during the day, my sister and I went to this daycare inside a large house in Buckhead.

There were lots of old-growth trees shading the house, and the lighting inside left a lot to be desired.

The kitchen took up the entire center of the house: a large, open, galley-style kitchen staffed with good-natured counselors who had big dreams of teaching 9-year-olds to cook long before the Food Network was even a gleam in a hungry executive’s eye. We got to help cook scrambled eggs and toast, and we were treated like short adults.

The outside area of the house was blessedly shady, unlike most daycare playgrounds of the era. July in Atlanta is not known for being cool. There was a chain-link fence around the small perimeter and swings and climbing equipment. The ground throughout was reminiscent of the Dust Bowl.

As a rising fourth-grader, I was one of the big kids, and a few of the older kids made friends with me right away. We hung out near the playground equipment, but we were too old and jaded to actually climb on it.

We also went on roller-skating field trips and took a turn at bowling.

Everyone was perfectly nice to me.

But I had a secret weakness. One that made my mom shake her head in agony.

I forgot to ask people their names.

Then, months later, it was too late to ask. It was horribly embarrassing, and every time, I would coach myself: remember to ask their names. But in this peaceful, commune-style setting, the scrambled eggs had thrown me off my game.

And one tall kid who had been kind to me… well, I wasn’t sure if it was even a boy or a girl. He/she had short hair, either a Dorothy Hamill cut or a boy bowl cut. Which was it? It tortured me in bed at night while the roaches were having their way with my mom and dad.

You would think that hearing the other kids call his/her name on the playground would be a good clue. But here was the problem:

It was either Jane or Jame(s). Which actually sound incredibly similar in kid parlance.

I had two more days of daycare before we moved out to The Burbs. It was time to find out, once and for all.

We were standing out on the cement patio, the dusty red clay swirling around us. Kelly, a girl who was clearly a girl and who I had trusted to be my friend for lo, these three days, was right there. And Jane/James was turned away.

So I leaned over and whispered to Kelly, “Is the name Jane or James?”

Kelly leaned back and looked me over, then grinned.

“Jane! Jane! Anne thinks you’re a boy!”

Awkward.

Jane turned around, and I studied her face as she studied mine.

I felt sorry for her, that she would be stuck here with Fair Weather Friend Kelly, who obviously didn’t have Girl Jane’s best interests at heart.

Poor Jane, embarrassed by the newcomer (me), unprotected by her so-called friend, and still, as far as I could tell, devoid of any gender identity.

We eyed each other carefully. “You thought I was a boy?” she said.

“No!” I choked out. “I couldn’t understand what people were calling you. Some girls have boy names; I don’t know!”

Jane turned out to be a forgiving sort. “Yeah, it’s Jane. Now let’s go make some lunch.”

I breathed out.

And I made a pact with myself to learn the names of every kid at my new daycare, a place unlikely to serve up forgiveness along with scrambled eggs.

Every Minute

We also have an inordinate amount of fireworks images. You'd think we set fire to things on a regular basis.

We also have an inordinate amount of fireworks images. You’d think we set fire to things on a regular basis.

Miles run yesterday: 4.5

Full-time job accepted on Monday: 1 (yay! more on that later…)

Cadbury’s Mini-Egg bags bought today: 2

My mom has always had a morbid fascination with natural disasters and disease epidemics.

She is not mean, just scientific-minded.

My mom likes to mention on almost every birthday involving cake and candles how strange it is that we light things on fire and take pictures of people blowing the candles out. She is convinced that either a.) aliens or b.) people living 500 years in the future will think we are a very strange “civilization.” I use that term loosely.

My husband, on the other hand, refuses to watch anything on TV involving natural disasters or disease states. He is also scientific.

Potay-to, potah-to.

If volcanic ash from an improbable volcano all of a sudden covers my little area of the world, and scientists far in the future uncover my family’s bodies and our detritus, here is what they will find:

1.) In the garage: man bones. Inside the jeans pocket: a tiny piece of notebook paper with the numbers: 0245749283-50-4734829348-22-218928430239. When the numbers are compared against any other sequence of numbers that has ever existed in the world, there is no match found.

Also found on man’s person: screws of varying sizes, a Werther’s wrapper, Kleenex.

Man bent over large, loud, vibrating power tools that scientists say contributed to the volcano’s eruption.

2.) In the laundry room: woman bones. The scientists struggle to understand why a family of four would require so many unmatched pairs of socks.

Inside grown woman’s purse: 17 different grocery lists with similar items, indicating a diet rich in calcium: skim milk, 2% milk, orange juice, cheese, eggs, yogurt, Lysol, asparagus.

Also found: 3 lipsticks of exactly the same shade but different brands, hand sanitizer, a wallet with not much more than insurance cards insuring against everything except volcanoes.

Woman found near multiple cleaning products, yet house shows no signs of being clean.

3.) On couch: boy bones, body curled around laptop. Headphones still in. Seemingly had no inkling of the imminent disaster.

4.) In girl-child bedroom: girl bones, in mid-jump. Scientists at first conclude that girl’s mouth was open because she was yelling about volcano eruption, but decide she was only singing at the top of her lungs. They are impressed that dancing could occur in a room with items strewn all over the floor.

Scientists were able to retrieve the outdated hard drive from the family’s computer.

Using antiquated computer forensics, scientists discover photograph files. Many of them involve blowing out candles on a round, gooey object, while others focus on people holding shiny square objects while standing near an indoor tree.

The scientists find no photographs of the man making things with his power tools, the woman doing laundry, the boy using his laptop or the girl dancing in her room.

They conclude that most everyday activities involve blowing out candles and standing in front of indoor trees.

Using power tools and washing clothes must be very, very special indeed.

Note: The kids and I are reading “Wonder” right now… a great book. One of the characters in the book is the stage manager in Our Town, a play which had a big impact on me as a teen. 

“Does anyone ever realize life while they live it… every, every minute?”

Emily, from Our Town by Thornton Wilder

Wherefore art thou, Yugoslavia?

Our world changes as fast as weather in the South. It's gorgeous, warm and sunny today; rain and snow are forecast for tomorrow. (By the way: in a twist on my "pre" blog post, one TV forecaster is now calling it the "futurecast." Hmmm.

Our world changes as fast as weather in the South. It’s gorgeous, warm and sunny today; rain and snow are forecast for tomorrow. (By the way: in a twist on my “pre” blog post, one TV forecaster is now calling his forecasts “futurecasts.” Hmmm.)

Miles run today: 10

Age I was when I read about Anne Frank: 8

Year the Berlin Wall came down: 1989

When I was 13 and Sting was singing about whether the Russians loved their children too, I wondered: Did they really? How could they love their children so much if they were spending all of their time standing in long lines for toilet paper? Seemed like that would be distracting from the whole parenting thing.

And I was pretty sure both sets of leaders, American and Russian, would screw the whole thing up. I’d seen the boys in my classes, and they always had a hard time keeping their fingers off of buttons; presidents were only grown-up little boys.

Ergo: We were in big trouble.

I spent a lot of time listening to the “Dream of the Blue Turtles” album that year; “Fortress Around Your Heart” remains one of those pivotal songs in my life.

The English fortress thing spoke to me: I was way deep into King Arthur and longed for the days when men killed each other more elegantly, man-to-man, instead of obliterating whole states from across an ocean.

My daughter’s class is reading a novel based on a true story called, “A Long Walk to Water,” about children in Sudan who became “lost boys” when war broke out. The horrifying but gripping story has captured her imagination. I mentioned that she might want to read about Anne Frank, a young girl whose family hid from the Nazis but eventually died in the concentration camps.

She wanted to. So we went to the library and got the book.

There was a picture book of Anne’s life, too. We got the picture book.

There were heaps of dead bodies in the picture book.

Ooops.

Add it to the list of subjects she will need to discuss in therapy. We talked about how a lot of people died; dead bodies were the horrific reality.

She decided not to read about Anne Frank.

Now my son is concerned about North Korea. And nuclear bombs.

Around the dinner table, my husband and I talked with the kids about the Cold War, and the Berlin Wall, and guards who shot at people who tried to escape, and nuclear arms.

And then we YouTubed video from 1989 when the Berlin Wall came down.

“Will it be scary?” my daughter asked, putting her hands halfway over her eyes. “Will there be dead bodies?”

“No. It was like a huge street party with drinking and laughing and cheering. And sledgehammers,” I said.

Which now that I think about it sounds like a pretty scary idea.

The kids watched the video. It all happened a long time ago, way back in the 1900s, a century my children did not experience. The hair was… unfortunate.

But when I saw footage this morning from the Today show, with Matt and Savannah in Boston, men dressed up in redcoats and those representing the colonists, I realized: things change so fast.

To go from hating the British to being BFFs (and me marrying one), to go from a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union to calling it Russia and a bunch of smaller states, to go from a huge cement wall to a time when tiny fragments of the wall are all that remain…

When I was young I used to wonder why adults would say that they were horrible with geography. It was so easy. You learned the names and memorized where they were. How hard could that be?

Now I know: a third of the country names have changed since I learned them all back in high school. Wherefore art thou, Yugoslavia?

So when my son asked the other night, “Do you think we’ll ever be friends with North Korea?”

I had to say: “I think anything is possible.”

Also, I hope the North Koreans love their children, too.

When Destructor Robots Nearly Derailed Valentine’s

Yes, I'm recycling an image I've already used because I love these: Valentines my great aunt sent me from the 1930s.

Yes, I’m recycling an image I’ve already used because I love these: Valentines my great aunt sent me from the 1930s.

Miles run today: 4.5

Valentines waiting to be addressed on our kitchen table: 30

Days until Valentine’s Day: 1

February 13, 2007, 8 p.m.

“Put on your shoes!” I yell, grabbing my keys and purse. I am on my way to the grocery store with my two children, ages 4 and 6.

My husband is out of town, it’s raining, and the kids are already in their pajamas.

“Don’t worry; no one will see you. Put on a coat, and we’ll pretend you’re wearing pants,” I tell my son, who is in kindergarten.

“But there are spaceships on them!” he yells.

“Sometimes people like to wear pants with spaceships on them,” I say, as we dash to the minivan, getting pelted with raindrops.

My daughter is sobbing, her tiny hands clenched into fists.

Five minutes earlier7:55 p.m.

“Hey, are you almost finished with those cards? It’s time for bed.” I walk into the dining room, where my daughter is addressing Valentine’s Day cards for her preschool friends. There is a list of 22 friends, and my daughter is using preternaturally gorgeous penmanship to write each child’s name on the Disney Princess-themed cards.

She reaches for another card, but her hand comes up with nothing.

She leans over the box and scrambles around inside.

Nothing. No more cards.

I tilt the box sideways. “So you must be finished, right? You had 30 cards, and you only have 22 classmates and two teachers.”

“Nooooo,” she says, pushing them all into a neat pile and pointing at her list with checkmarks next to most names. “I have five left to do.”

“Five? How is that possible?” I check the inside of the box again.

Her eyes focus on her lap. Silence.

“What happened?” I say, touching her shoulder.

“Well… I made some Valentines for my… my… my animals.” She looks up at me, and her face turns blotchy red, a sure sign of tears brewing.

“How many did you make for your stuffed animals?” I ask, sinking into a chair and cradling my head.

She starts to whimper. “Well, one for Bear Bear, one for Pinkie, and Bunny-Bunny-Love, and a few others, and I might have messed up on one or two…”

8:05 p.m.

A herd or flock or swarm of Valentine’s-loving locusts has ravaged the pink-and-red card display.

I am standing with two kids in pajamas and tennis shoes, one crying, one asking for chocolate, and the 20-something business-casual types who drop into the grocery store at 8 p.m. to grab sushi are eyeing our ragtag group with suspicion.

There are no more Disney Princess cards. No more mermaids or cute bunnies. What is left: destructor megatronic robots and manga-style girls with huge alien eyes and miniskirts with thigh-high socks.

“Mo-oooo-ooommmmy! There are no more caaaaaaards!”

We are causing A Scene.

I rummage through every single shelf until at the very back, I find some mangled Bob the Builder cards and emerge victorious.

“Yes! Can We Find It? Yes! We! Can!” I sing.

“Bob the Builder is for boys!” my daughter cries, but her sobs have switched back to quiet whimpers.

“But you have boys in your class who will love these!”

My son rolls his eyes. “Can we go home now?”

By 8:45 p.m., my daughter finishes addressing her cards. And the next day, some crazy mom brings in Ferrero Rocher candies for the kids. It will be the last decent candy any of them see for at least 10 years.

February 13, 20138 a.m.

My husband has helped my daughter craft her own Valentines out of a rabbit picture she drew. He printed them off for her and only needed to cut them… but the nice cutting thingie is at work.

“Um. No. They need to get cut this morning,” I say, hands on hips.

He looks at me as he turns away from some serious work thing. “I’m working.”

I give him The Look and try to transfer some of my Valentine’s Day horror flashbacks onto his consciousness. This has never worked, and I don’t know why I expect it to today.

But he cuts them. “Are you sure you need 30? Are there really 30 people in the class?”

“She needs 30. Trust me on this.” Tears, buddy. Tears. Mayhem. Destructor Robots.

I have been remiss in accepting a couple of blog awards. I wanted to say thank you so much for thinking of me and point out some great blogs you may or may not be visiting.

versatileblogger111

Thank you, Mike Lince, who blogs at Applecore. He and his wife have set a course to move to a different country every six months. They just finished in Panama, now they’re in Mexico, they plan to move to Scotland in July, and after that, Spain. He writes some wonderfully informative posts with great photographs.

I’d like to pass this award on to a few bloggers (please feel free to use or ignore as necessary):

Vanessa-Jane Chapman’s new(ish) blog, Sugarness, will make you want to lick  your screen. (If it’s dusty, like mine, fight the urge.) Yummy chocolate recipes will start piling up on your to-bake list. Thanks, Vanessa, I think.

OK. Don’t be mad, because this one is a bit self-centered… I wrote a post about being 10, and someone else I follow got inspired to write about being 10, and hers was… wow! So much more (as Subtle Kate would say) muchier. Check out this post by Desertrose. So good.

Also, many of you already follow her, but JM McDowell’s serial mystery about archaeologist Meghan Bode, Buried Deeds, is one you won’t want to miss each Tuesday. Don’t worry; she’s on the 11th installment, but she has the rest archived if you’ve missed them.

Thank you to Kate at 4am Writer for the Blog of the Year Award for 2012. She is humble, kind, a generous blogger and friend to writers everywhere. I can’t wait to read her novel(s) when she’s ready to share them with the world.

I guess it’s a little late to be passing this one on… but I’ll share a few blogs that I’ve enjoyed over the past year so you can start enjoying them, too.

If you haven’t read one of Gabriela Blandy’s posts at A Sense of a Journey, you’ve been missing out. Fan.Tas.Tic. What a great writer! And if you want a title for your posts that draws people in, call up Gabriela. The woman can do no wrong.

You dig? I can’t stop looking at the photos of Florida at SmallHouseBigGarden. Gorgeous photos, she knows all the Latin names and growth habits of every blooming thing south of the Mason-Dixon line. Especially if you’re sitting inside on a drizzly rainy day like today, those photos will transport you somewhere warm. Divine.

I can relate to this fellow mom on the other side of the Atlantic. She turned 40 last year like I did, writes about shoes and lipstick and music and pyromaniacs and politicians and Cadbury’s. Yum. Check out TurningTwiceTwenty to read her latest musings.

And thanks for the awards!

When You Blog in Your Pajamas

Bluebird of Friendliness. My daughter took this sweet photo.

Bluebird of Friendliness. My daughter took this sweet photo.

Miles I ran yesterday: 4.5

Hours in the day I wear running clothes: 1

Hours in the day I “dress up”: 2?

I made a Scarlett O’Hara-type vow when I was 13: I would never again, as God was my witness, wear a slip.

Of all the slippery-ish, uncomfortable, meaningless garments in the world… grrr!

By the way, have you heard we’re getting a new pope? And have you heard about what Princess Kate wore at her last public event?

My mom and I were talking last night about why the media seems to seize on certain events and people who may or may not affect the world too much one way or the other.

The answer: pomp and circumstance.

We, as a culture, are experiencing a dearth of pomp and circumstance.

No one (thank God) wears slips anymore.

I can blog in my pajamas (or sweat pants or running clothes).

When I meet clients or have interviews, I can meet with them in “business casual” clothes, whatever that means. When I see gorgeous gowns hanging in the windows of boutiques, I wonder who really wears them.

But a pope? Steeped in centuries of tradition, mysterious rituals and great costume changes? Why wouldn’t the media want to cover it?

My mom used to place a very high value on dressing “appropriately.” When we went to the ballet or the symphony or church or a silly school concert, it involved a certain amount of procedure.

There was the annoying process of getting ready. Then, throughout the event, the pantyhose would wriggle down my legs or tear or leave elephantine creases at my ankles. The dreaded slip would shift around in opposite directions from the dress or skirt or cling embarrassingly to my legs as the wind and static cling had their ways with me.

By the time I got to college, there were fewer and fewer events where I had to dress appropriately. And at the end of college, I had to dress up one final time.

The only time I remember being certifiably hung over was the morning of my college graduation.

Someone, I don’t remember who, talked me into tequila shots the night before. There was a certain throw-caution-to-the-winds-who-cares-if-I-don’t-yet-have-a-job-and-have-to-attend-graduation-tomorrow?

It felt nice.

Until my parents and sister showed up at the door of my room to attend the ceremony. I had dragged myself through the shower and was lying across my twin bed with my head dangling over the edge.

I was not a pretty sight.

But I threw on (slowly, very slowly) a dress, sans slip, and my Carolina blue graduation gown.

The temperature outside in May felt like 98; it was probably in the 80s. We made our way to the football stadium, a gorgeous procession of blue the color of the sky.

I was sweating underneath my gown, and I couldn’t find my friends. My best friend had graduated in December, and my boyfriend wasn’t even close to graduating. I was adrift in a sea of blue, buffeted about until I found a blessedly cool bleacher.

My head hurt. My heart hurt. I was finished with school and had nowhere to go but back to live at home with mom and dad.

But when I sat in the middle of a group of rowdy fellow graduates, the sky all puffy white clouds and clear blue, the mortarboards and gowns so festive and optimistic, I felt my spirits lift. The speakers played our fight song and “In My Mind I’m Going to Carolina.” The professors up on stage, set apart by their serious black gowns and stripes that meant business, told us that we’d achieved something.

My dress stuck to my legs, but I didn’t care.

I was going places in this world, and a slip was not going with me.

Do you think that pomp and circumstance still has a place in our super-casual world? Why do you think that we resist tradition when people are so obviously drawn to it?