Wednesday, September 29, 2010

This week's column

Too much fun and not enough sleep
My normally boring, humdrum life was interrupted last weekend, in a good way.
I teach a class of 8th grade girls on Sunday mornings at my church and we had a weekend gathering at my house.
The evening started with lots and lots of food. We had enough pasta to feed two armies. The food fest continued throughout the evening with various forms of junk food and candy.
They are a good bunch of girls that enjoy sitting around and talking as much as anything else.
My dogs also enjoyed their visit. Duke, my corgi, got more attention than any dog really needs, and Boo, my rambunctious chocolate lab, even got to come in once in a while for small amounts of time when he wasn’t wound up.
These girls overflow with joy and excitement. It’s almost contagious.
They introduced me to some pop music, most of which I had to admit I never had heard of. They talked about their friends, school and the daily trials of a 13-year-old.
We also played a few games. One of which was truth or dare. One of the gals kept picking dare, which resulted in making her face up like a clown, a strange hairdo and forcing her, a U of L fan, to wear a UK sweatshirt.
You’d think she’d start picking truth after a while, but I guess to a 13-year-old, truth can be more dangerous than a dare.
At around 1 a.m. they decided to watch a movie. Now, I’m not normally a night owl, so I was already half asleep at this point. About an hour into the movie I had to wimp out on them. We had to get up at about 7 a.m. the next morning to be somewhere so I knew I had to get some sleep so I wouldn’t be a grumpy stick-in-the-mud the next day.
I heard the next morning that they headed to sleep at 3 a.m. but they did more talking than sleeping.
We all got up the next morning to do the Clarity Solutions for Women Walk for Life. I expected grumpy faces that would gripe the entire time. I got just the opposite. They got up ready to go and excited for the day. After little sleep, they still had enough energy to walk way ahead of me and get to the destination way before I did.
We hung out at Barnes and Noble and had a fun lunch together, and then the girls went home. Boo and Duke both spent the rest of that Saturday pouting because they missed their new friends.
It took me at least a week to recuperate from staying up late one night. It was one of those “I’m not as young as I used to be” moments.
My point in writing this isn’t just to describe a class overnighter. It’s to encourage you to be active and involved with the lives of young people today.
I, in no way shape or form, am considered “cool.” I don’t have an exciting life. I don’t even have cable. You don’t have to be hip or cool to interact with teens. You just have to show up.
Teens today have more hurts and worries than I could ever imagine having when I was their age. They don’t really need someone who’s “cool.” They just need someone who cares, and anyone can do that.
Take the time to listen to them, they can even sometimes be insightful. You might learn something.
Invest yourself in the lives of teens; they are our future.
And judging by the teens I hung out with last weekend — Mallory, Anne Alyse, Riley and Qarman — our future looks bright.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

This Week's Column

'Autumn, the year's last, loveliest smile.' - William Cullen Bryant
It’s time again for my annual column dedicated to how wonderful fall is. I spend more than half of the calendar year waiting for its arrival.
I tolerate the cold of winter, take some joy in the spring and suffer through the summer — all in anticipation of the coming of fall.
A week from today it finally officially arrives.
Everything about this time of year is incredible. Our amazing creator saves the most beautiful hues of his color pallet for this season, and I feel blessed to live in a part of the country that gets to enjoy the beauty of it.

As I look out the window I already see some of the trees in the parking lot beginning to put on their fall colors. It’s almost as if the entire experience of this time of year is candy coated in golden tones.
With fall comes the feeling of being a kid again. It’s perfectly acceptable to enjoy a hayride, roast hot dogs and jump into a pile of leaves. No excuses are necessary. Not to mention the appearance of caramel apples and pumpkin spiced everything.
Fall also means it’s time for football and all the greasy deliciousness of game time junk food. Nachos, chili, wings — need I go on. Going to a local high school game or attending your favorite college team’s games is always enjoyable in the fall. It’s too hot in August and too frigid in the winter, but games in late September and October are perfectly delightful.
With the coming of fall there’s also a chill in the air. It’s not so much you actually feel cold, but just enough that a sweatshirt is necessary outdoors. After the warmth we’ve experienced this summer, the arrival of fall is a welcome sign to even the most dedicated summer souls.
When fall arrives, I pull out the apple- or spice-scented candles to enjoy the scents of the season too. The scarecrows and mums take their places on the front porch, and the flowers that I couldn’t keep alive in the summer are tossed away to make way for the fall d├ęcor.
It’s also harvest time. An army of combines and grain trucks can be seen across the landscape, picking crops. The fields are emptied and sleep through the winter until the spring planting time arrives.
Some of the most beautiful fall scenes involved a combine in the field with the backdrop of a beautiful sunset behind it.
I’m sure everyone has their favorite season, but In my mind, fall tops them all.
I could go on about this time of year and gush about its splendor.
Already I can smell the chili cooking, feel the cool fall air and smell the sweet autumn-spiced scents just thinking about it.

Friday, September 3, 2010

This week's column

When sitting down to write this column, for some reason I have a thousand whys circling in my head. It’s almost like a “Seinfeld” episode rattling around in my brain.
Some of my whys are funny and some deep questions. But I ask you … why?
Why do I have a land line and a cell phone? How many phones do I really need?
Why does Friday always seem so far away and Monday always seem too close?
Why did that lady in England throw the cat in the trashcan after petting it? That’s just weird.
Why did I cry so many times last week hearing the stories of Vietnam veterans?
Why can’t I remember what I did yesterday?
Why does my computer hate me?
Why can I not remember much of what I learned throughout my education but I can remember all the words to “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire” theme song?
Why is my co-worker, Robert, already talking about ghost stories when Halloween is still a few months away? I don’t like ghost stories.
Why are some people mean to children? I just don’t understand that one.
Why did the lady I called with a billing question this morning give me nothing but attitude? Where’s the customer service?
Why does coffee no longer wake me up during the day, but if I drink it at night I can’t sleep?
Why can’t I get “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Aire” theme song out of my head? "In West Philadelphia, born and raised/ on the playground is where I spent most of my days ..." Now it’s in your head too.
Why do all the foods that are good for you not taste as good as the foods that are bad for you?
Why do kids have to grow up so fast?
Why do fools fall in love? Oh, wait, that one’s already taken.
Why does my dog think I have to be awake in the middle of the night with him when there’s a thunderstorm?
Why did George Lucas have to ruin the “Star Wars” movies with Episodes I and II?
Why did I dream the other night that I interviewed the Rolling Stones and Mick Jagger was in a wheel chair?
Why is it that I can easily eat in excess, and we can’t feed the starving children around the world?
Why can’t I seem to finish writing my book?
Why can’t UK be good at basketball and football?
Why is it always so cold in the newsroom?
Why in “The Empire Strikes Back” do they start pronouncing Han Solo’s name wrong after he’s frozen in carbonite? That’s always bugged me.
Why do people say Wal-Marts?
Why do the girls in my 8th grade Sunday school class want to bring the 1980s back? Seriously. The music was good, but the fashion? It wasn’t that good the first time around.
Why can’t I dance?
Why do joy and sorrow both end with tears?
Why are The New Kids on the Block still called “kids” when they are all in their 40s?
Why don’t people burst out in song in the middle of the day like they do in musicals?
Why are you still reading this column?