Tuesday, November 30, 2010

"Some people find it ironical ..."

Guess where I am. Go on. Guess.

Give up? Here's a hint:

Still not sure? Maybe this will help.

If you haven't figured it out yet, this oughta make it as crystal clear as the BLUE CLEAR SKY.

Yep. You guessed her, Chester. I am currently at a comfortable cruising altitude (35,004', to be exact), just north of Phoenix and south of Clints Well, Arizona. In case you can't tell, this is my first exposure to on-board wi-fi, and I've gotta be honest with you. I am riveted. Well, I'm riveted in a 2001: a Space Odyssey kind of way.

In fact, the whole thing kinda reminds me of this class I took at UGA. It was entitled Science Fiction & Drama, and there are not words big enough to express how much I dreaded taking it. It's not that I didn't like the professor - I loved him, in fact. It's just that, up until I registered for the class, my entire interest in science fiction began and ended with watching Trekkies and debating with my friend Stephen whether or not filking should be granted its own category at the Grammy Awards. But alas, the class fit my schedule and met a course requirement, so yada, yada, yada: I ended up spending a semester's worth of Monday afternoons in a Science Fiction seminar.

We read plays, like R.U.R., Carel Kapek's 1921 work that spawned the word "robot," and watched movies, like 2001 and Them!. That was all it took to hook me. Suddenly, I was all "Maybe I should rethink this whole musical theatre thing" and "Dawgonit, if the woman wants to be called 'Commander,' you show her the respect her rank deserves!"

No one was more surprised by this reaction than I was. I was also surprised by the common denominators we found in many of the plays, movies, and television shows that we surveyed. Without exception, the future, as it was portrayed in these works, was dehumanized and depersonalized. Jerry Seinfeld made this same point during his 1998 "I'm Telling You for the Last Time" retirement act (parenthetically, I saw him live in June of 2010 - his retirement lasted about as long as Garth Brooks' did - a fact which makes me very glad). As the Master of "Nothing" noticed:

"Any time you see a movie or a TV show where there's people from the future - or another planet - they're all wearing the same outfit. I think the decision just gets made: 'Alright, Everyone. From now on, it's just gonna be the one-piece silver suit with the v stripe and the boots. That's the outfit. We're gonna be visiting other planets. We want to look like a team here. The individuality thing is over.'"

That's definitely one of the things my classmates and I noticed as we discussed what we'd read and seen (maybe I should've just spared myself the semester and watched "I'm Telling You for the Last Time" ... again). Who knows how the future will actually play out - after all, it is called science fiction, but it's an undeniable fact that, with things like on-board wifi, what was once the stuff of fiction and fantasy is very quickly becoming our reality.

Here's where this entry - written from several miles high in a manner not even Stanley Kubrick could've imagined - takes a turn for the "ironical." The entry is actually just an opportunity for me to use a futuristic means of telling you about something old-fashioned - a good, old fashioned Christmas giveaway of good, old-fashioned Christmas carols.

Over the years, my friend Stephen has introduced me to many different types of music. I've already mentioned David Wilcox. There's also been Jump, Little Children and Eddie from Ohio and Guster and on and on and on. It seems only fair, then, that, for all the music he's introduced me to, I should introduce his music to the people I know. So, ironically, I'm using a new-fangled, high-tech medium to tell you of something that really has an incredible air of yesteryear. Each Christmas, Stephen, his wife Tamara, and several of their musician friends get together to record their favorite carols, and every year, they make it free for the downloading to anybody who's interested in a little holiday cheer that is focused on "the Reason for the season."

So if that's you, check it out.

And, if this season finds you traveling, you can even do that "checking out" while you're flying the friendly skies.

Stanley Kubrick would be blown away.

Monday, November 29, 2010

so ends a SUPER trip

Well, the suitcases are packed. The postcards are written, and Delta's already sending emails that it's "time to check in." You know what that means - we head home tomorrow. Though it's been a beautiful trip, I am definitely ready to get back to a part of the country where people are actually paying attention when Auburn comes back from 24 down to beat Alabama in the Iron Bowl. It seems to me that Hawaiians aren't all that interested in football. This is probably owing to the fact that there's a five hour time difference, so, by the time the noon games kick off in the East, folks are just waking up over here. They're more concerned with breakfast than whether or not Kentucky will drop to Tennessee - FOR THE 26th YEAR IN A ROW (they will, it pains me to say). It's either that - or the massive distraction of Captain Cook's swimming pool.

That's how we spent most of today, in fact. Well, that's how we spent the part of today that came after church and yet another meal - this time, breakfast - in Lahaina. Those who know about Super Payton will be glad to learn that this breakfast entailed the creation of the story in which we learn how "a little girl named Aunta" became "Super Aunta." This happens whenever we go to a restaurant. Payton wants the two of us to write a Super Payton story. Wait a minute. Let me get more specific - he writes the story; I just write it down. Typically, he draws the pictures and tells me what to write under them. This pattern goes back to before he could write. Why in the world he hasn't realized that, at a very well read 9 whose IQ probably overshoots mine by double digits, he has the autonomy to write these stories even when I'm not around, I do not know, but that's the way these stories started to be written, and, five years later, that's how they continue to be.

But not today. Today, Super Aunta decided she wanted some autonomy. With the blessing (and hawkish oversight) of super-ior Payton, I set out to write my own backstory. Payton sat beside me the entire time, munching on a Mickey Mouse-shaped pancake and telling me over and over, "Be sure you mention me. Be sure you mention me. How about Super Payton flies in in the next scene?" The result is ... well, please take note of Frame Five. Yeah. Maybe Aunta isn't yet Super enough for complete autonomy.

To be honest, though, of all the things we've done on this terrific trip - snorkeling, sailing, summiting Haleakala - it's moments like these that I'll remember most. Writing Super Payton stories, swapping secrets with Lizzie Gray, tricking Camden into thinking I bought candy for everyone but him, and convincing Lila that the answer to "Whose girl are you?" is ALWAYS "Aunta's girl" (I take her on dates) and NEVER "Camden's girl" (he tells her fairy tales) - these are cerebral snapshots that I'll always remember. Maui, then, became the elaborately beautiful stage on which we performed the play of being a family, making memories out of mundane moments that you sometimes have to travel across the planet to fully appreciate.

Now that I have a "super" cape, I should be able to make the trips a lot more quickly.

Aloha from Maui, and Mele Kalikimaka! More to follow from my home sweet South Cackalackey ...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Dream again

Is it just me, or has this year's trip been way busier than last year's?

Since UK's loss on Wednesday nite (acknowledgment is the first step to acceptance), we've been snorkeling, sailing, and had Thanksgiving dinner. Lizzie Gray and I took a hula lesson, and 6 of the 9 of us climbed to the summit of Haleakala. All of that is in addition to watching the Iron Bowl on my iPhone (thank you, CBS Sports app!) and taking another stroll around lovely Lahaina after a gut-busting dinner at Bubba Gump's. Aren't vacations supposed to be relaxing?!

Actually, this one has been. One of my favorite excursions happened back before UK's loss - earlier that same day, to be exact. The boys and I did a little kayaking in the ocean. So did David and the girls (Sissy took her turn at the spa), but we weren't in the same boat, so along with Cap'n Cam and First Mate Payt, the boys and I paddled to nearby Black Rock meeting up for some swimming with their sisters and dad before boomeranging back where we started.

The next morning, we were on the water once again - we went snorkeling. We saw lots of coral and a couple of fish, and the boys went "snuba" diving. The best part to me, however, was swimming in the Pacific, while holding hands with Lizzie Gray to be sure neither one of us drifted away and ended up on the Big Island. We "chased" a ginormous sea turtle and swam over the coral-covered ruins of a pier demolished by a hurricane in the 1990s.

After snorkeling, our Trilogy crew (seriously. If you come to Maui and want to snorkel, use these guys ... and not just because they're all adorable) took us sailing. We hit the wide open, choppy waters of a breathtaking Thanksgiving Day in the South Pacific. That far out, the sea is sapphire, topped with diamond-colored white caps. Had they asked if I just wanted to sail back to the mainland, I'd have definitely said yes. Then again, had we sailed back, Lizzie Gray and I would've missed our hula lesson.

We also would've missed a delicious Thanksgiving dinner - AND our Friday drive to Haleakala. This is a place that I've wanted to see for a long time. The reason why requires a little back story.

So when we were in high school, my friend Stephen introduced me to the music of David Wilcox. Over the next four years, Stevie and I saw David play - I don't know - 50-some-odd times, and at each of those shows, he sang a song called "Make it Look Easy," and the first four lines of "Make it Look Easy" go like this:

"A bright kite he's hangin' from.
Jon rides a glider above the clouds
He stepped off Haleakala,
ten thousand feet above the ground

So, though I didn't, technically, "step off" Haleakala - that's the plan for my 40th birthday, since another Wilcox tune dictated the plans for my 30th - I did step ON Haleakala, which is just as good. Almost.

No, it's not. I'll be back.

But seriously. This place, a dormant volcano, is breathtaking. David Wilcox was right (not that I ever doubted him!) - it's 10,000 feet up, towering above the clouds. The terrain here on Maui is so diverse. Of course, there's the ocean, and that gives way to some really, almost rainforest-like areas and then there's Haleakala, which looks like it was ripped straight off the set of a George Lucas film - it was either ripped off of it or, more likely, inspired it.

My favorite of these terrains is the ocean. That, of course, reminds me of another Wilcox song. There's this lyric in "Johnny's Camaro" that I sing every time I'm on a flight. No matter where I've been, when I'm heading back, this is floating through my mind:

"She was dreaming over the ocean,
dreaming of being home again ...

And that's what I'm dreaming of. After a beautiful, breathtaking, magnificent trip, I am dreaming of being home again.

But first, a few more dips in the Pacific.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

That BLOWS, a/k/a UK blown-out by UConn

It's fitting that the color of disappointment is blue, because the disappointment of Kentucky's 84-67 loss to UConn has left me feeling blue ... BIG time. On the bright side, though, the loss did give us Cat fans an opportunity to learn a few things about our young team:

1) We need a center. Oh, wait. We already knew that.

2) We need to learn how to shoot free throws. In three games in Maui, we shot 50%, 61%, and 75% from the line. This is not only embarrassing, it's inexcusable. It reminds me of my Intro to Theatre students. Every semester, there are 100 of their 500 total points that they earn just by showing up to Theatre Lab. I don't care how well they perform in Theatre Lab. I just care that they're there. Still, every semester, there are kids who get only 10-20-30% of these points, because they simply don't spend the time to show up. This, to me, is mind-blowingly stupid. THESE ARE FREE POINTS, PEOPLE!

I feel the same way about missing free throws. There is absolutely zero excuse to miss 1 out of every 2 shots taken, unguarded, from the stripe. As Coach Cal should know better than anyone else, championships are won and lost at the line.

3) Cleveland ... er, Miami ... may have a "King James." UK has a "King Jones." His name is Terrence. Two games into the regular season, he'd already won SEC Freshman of the Week, and deservedly so. Through five games, he's averaging 21.2 points and 10.2 rebounds per game. With him on the floor, we look really good. With him on the bench - as he was for most of the first half tonite - we wonder when he's gonna get back on the floor.

Rumor has it that one of the NBA scouts here in Maui said Jones is the best pro prospect in the tournament. I'm assuming that that means that, as we said goodbye to four of our fabulous freshman last year, we'll end this year saying goodbye to this fabulous freshman.

Though I love the thrill of watching these kids play - and Heaven knows I wouldn't trade our time with John Wall and DeMarcus Cousins (and, alright, Eric Bledsoe) for all the cotton candy on the planet - I still feel like they're gone too soon. They profit from it - but what about the program? Isn't there something to be said about recruiting guys who are gonna stay around long enough to acquire the poise that it takes to win big?

That's what they always say - "Poise wins championships." There's a lot to that, I think. Given that, can a coaching model built on a foundation of one-and-dones win championships? With the necessity of "reloading" every single season, it seems like what's sacrificed is the camaraderie of playing with the same group of guys for an extended period of time.

Watching our current group of guys play over three days this Thanksgiving week, it's clear that we have a lot to cheer for - and a lot to work on.

Go, Big Blue.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

BLUE birds

Overheard in the hotel lobby: an adorable, elderly woman trying to teach these talking toucans how to say, "Go, Big Blue!"

And y'all thought I was a rabid fan!

gym truant

Confession: I skipped the gym today. For some reason, I decided to run outside instead.

my BLUE Heaven

Yesterday was all about Kentucky basketball (just typing that out, I think, "Aren't they all?"). We played our first of three games in the Maui Invitational, and we played it well. That we had 21 points within the first 4 minutes is an indicator that we have no shortage of offensive weapons. What we are short on, as I have alluded to before, is a center.

That's not to say that we're short. In fact, we've got a pair of twin towers - one 6'10" / 275 and the other 6'11" / 250. It's just that that these guys - who shall remain nameless, because, as my mama always told me, "If you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all ..." - couldn't block a shot made by me, who stands a rather unimposing 5'3" ... in heels.

So at the risk of sounding down in the mouth, I admit to expecting that this will be our Achilles' heel this season. Our outstanding offense has accommodated for this interior void by averaging 50% shooting from long-range, but in order for UK to really contend this year, one of two things has to happen: one of the two unnamed sucky centers will have to learn how to defend, or Terrence Jones, a studly forward who dropped 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in yesterday's game against Oklahoma, will have to play the part. Since the former is as likely to happen as my not drinking a Coke Zero every morning, I'm gonna vote for the latter.

T-Rock, the Big Blue Nation needs you.

After that, we went to Lahaina. Lahaina is an old whaling village not too far from our hotel. If Wikipedia is to be believed, it was also once the capital of the Kingdom of Hawaii! These days, it's a grand - and scenic - strand of shops, restaurants and, naturally, tattoo parlors. If the half-crazed man in the park was right, it's also home to the World's Third Largest Banyan Tree! The kids, of course, loved climbing around in it. The rest of us loved digging into the heaping Hula Pie we tried at Kimo's Restaurant.

Here's the "skinny" on the Hula Pie: it's an Oreo crust covered in macadamia nut ice cream, and topped with hot fudge encrusted with more nuts. Add to that some whipped cream, and voila! You have what Kimo's calls "the dessert that the sailors swam ashore for in Lahaina." They may call it that. I, on the other hand, call it "the dessert that's gonna make me have to swim back to the mainland, so I don't have to buy an upsized wardrobe when I get home."

Speaking of which, I'm off to the gym ... followed by beach time ... and then, most importantly, the UK game and, maybe, another slice of Hula Pie.

Go, Big Blue!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Ke Akua Mana E

My parents told us we'd be spending our second straight Thanksgiving on Maui back on my birthday. They thought we'd be surprised. Little did they know, Sissy and I had been banking on a second Turkey Day trip since we took our first, but still, it was nice to finally be able to talk about the trip in definite terms as opposed to the hypothetical "IF we ever go back to Maui...," always said with pleading eyes in shamefully begging tones.

Immediately after the big announcement, Daddy asked the family, "What are you most looking forward to?" Bess said, "Leilani's," a restaurant beside our hotel. Sissy, probably trying to get on Daddy's sweet side, mentioned those confounded pancakes. I, on the other hand, immediately remembered the two services presented by the Kaanapali Beach Ministry.

We'd ended up there - the first week, anyway - by convenience. Services are held at an oceanfront restaurant that's a stone's throw from our hotel, so it was simple enough to roll out of bed (after all, the sign says, "come as you are"), eat some you-know-whats, and take the super short stroll to Leilani's (the source of Lizzie Gray's Hawaiian obsession. We're eating dinner there tonite, in fact - at her insistence. I mean, "suggestion").

I was really excited to give it a visit, as, for several years now, I have absolutely loved visiting different types of Christian churches. God's been showing me for a while that my commitment to my own"performance" of spirituality puts Him in a box. Unintentionally, I found myself beginning to think of my particular brand of faith practice as the only right one.

God gave me another of several "aha" moments in this lesson last year at the Beach Ministry. Several women in the church danced a hula to "He Touched Me." The song, of course, I knew and loved from my childhood church choir's Southern Gospel arrangement of it (thank you, Bill Gaither!). The dance, however, was entirely new to me. The lesson God whispered was that worship of Him is not limited to my life experience. My cultural tradition is not the only one that acknowledges His Lordship. It was a great lesson to learn and one that has only broadened and deepened my understanding of Him in the intervening year.

That's why I was so excited to revisit the church. To my great excitement, this year's service featured not one but three hulas. One of the three was danced to "How Great Thou Art." The sermon was incredible and just what I needed to hear ("When You're Running Out of Everything / When You're Hoping for a Miracle" - I Kings 17:1-16). It was that hula, though, that was my major takeaway from the service.

Afterwards, I joined Daddy and his golf foursome. That's one of the beautiful things about a ten day vacation. You feel like there's time to do things you typically wouldn't, if you were trying to, say, squeeze a year's worth of beach time into a long weekend. That to say, golf is not my "fore"-te (har!). Given that the Pacific probably isn't going anywhere, though, a day with my daddy definitely is.

So off we went to the Plantation Course at Kapalua. My Hawaiian's sorta shaky, but after riding the course for 18 holes, I'm assuming "Kapalua" means something like "most beautiful place on Earth." It's either that or "source of my father's great happiness."

While my earthly father basked in the relaxation of the lovely links, I basked in the handiwork of my Heavenly Father. It is impossible to see Kapalua's sweeping vistas and not remember the soundtrack to this morning's hula:

"Oh, Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder
consider all the worlds Thy hands have made,
I see the stars. I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.

Then sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee.
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!
When sings my soul, my Savior, God, to Thee.
How great Thou art!
How great Thou art!

Actually, it's another tune that's been rolling through my mind today. If you ever attended Sunday school or VBS or listened to one of those low-rent Christian radio stations where every song sounds like it was ripped from a Lawrence Welk album (and by "album," I mean "vinyl"), then you probably know it, too.

"Wide, wide as the ocean, high as the heavens above,
deep, deep as the deepest sea is my Savior's love.
I, though so unworthy, still am a child of His care,
for His Word teaches me that His love reaches me anywhere

Though I don't think that I've thought of it a single time in the 365 days, since we were here last, I remember that this song was on my mind here last year, too. I was looking at the expanse of that same vast ocean and thinking about Psalm 103:

"For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him;
as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us

God gave me these thoughts as we took the dangerous, windy drive to Hana. At certain points along the way, the only view was the ocean as wide as the eye could see. I wanted so much to capture that vastness - I wanted a picture to look it whenever I needed to be reminded of how deep the Father's love for me, of how far He has removed my sins. I left frustrated, though. Even with my so-called "fancy camera," I still couldn't capture it. This year, using my point and shoot, I was no more successful. I was, however, just as frustrated ...

... until God whispered another lesson. As I was bending and shifting and contorting to give my camera what I hoped would FINALLY be the right angle, I thought, "I just can't get it!" and God said, "Yeah, Stultzie. You can't, and you know what? That's the point. No matter how fancy the camera, you can't capture something that can't be measured."

All I can do is gratefully respond,"my God, how great Thou art!"

"Mam-ma MIA!" Me-uh sleep-y!

Remember that part in Aladdin where the genie says, "10,000 years will give you SUCH a crick in the neck"? Well, after Friday's travels, I feel like shouting, "5,200 nautical miles will give you SUCH a need to do nothing the next day." That's pretty much what we did all day Saturday.

The day began with the Westin's "World Famous" Buttermilk Pancakes. The way Daddy goes on about these pancakes, you would think they were flipped by Aunt Jemima in the flesh. Don't tell him I said so, but if you ask me, they don't taste all that different from the kind you can get at Cracker Barrel or, better yet, Uncle Flapjack's Pancake Cabin (with multiple East Tennessee locations to serve you!). Still, Daddy loves them (and as you can tell from his picture to the left, Camden does, too), so that's how we got our day started.

During breakfast a little competition broke out. This is Payton's new favorite thing - challenging people to contests. On the way here, he challenged me to a coloring contest (he won, but since his mama was the judge, I'm not sure it was a fair fight). At breakfast, he first challenged Daddy to tell the funniest memory from last year, and then, he challenged his siblings to a battle of accents.

I'll let you be the judge:

What do you think? I think Payton won this one, too - if not for the best accent, then because he succeeded in setting the clock of political correctness back to the time of vaudeville.

After that, we strolled oceanfront, taking in the sights, sounds, and smells that make Maui so magnificent. There are many. This place is so perfect, it's like a soundstage. I remember the first time I was here (March of 2000) being really struck by this same thought. Back then, I kept thinking that Hawaii is like the Disney World of the Pacific. In other words - perfect.

After our stroll, Sissy, David, and the kids hit the beach and the pool; Mom, Daddy, and I hit Lahaina and the spa. Oh, but between the two, and this is very important, I unpacked. I really cannot relax until my suitcase is completely unpacked. Oh, the sweet and simple joys of a neat and tidy hotel room! I also watched the second half of the Ole Miss / LSU game. Between that game going down to the wire and the Arkansas needing three overtimes to off Mississippi State, I have to say that those Mississippi schools can no longer be considered the Vanderbilts of the SEC West! They are both looking really great. By the way, can we please discuss how in the world the West ended up so much stronger than the East this year?

Doesn't matter.

We then went for dinner at Round Table Pizza. This is the place Payton mentioned in his "spot-on" accent. After that, we strolled at Whaler's Village, which is a shopping area next door to our hotel. And then? Bed. At long last. In seeing the events of the day all spelled out like that, it makes me think that maybe we were busier than we intended to be. Maybe today will be lazy?

Probably not.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Off we go into the BIG BLUE yonder!


I should probably be eating some pineapple or parking my sweet patootie under a palm tree right now. Instead, I’m sitting on the patio of my hotel room, looking at the Pacific Ocean, and posting a blog I wrote, for the most part, on the flight from LA across the ocean. It’s a 5 hour flight, by the way, so that explains why it might take you 5 hours to read it, but still, I wanted to let all my buddies back home know we made it to Maui, safe and sound.

I know you’ve all been worried.

The trip here went really well. Well, it went well, if you’re able to overlook the fact that my sister’s iPhone got lost at LAX. The way she handled the misplacement is a perfect example of why she is the sainted Stultz sibling, and I am the sinner. That’s why I bring the whole thing up. I want the world to know - though I’m pretty sure it already does - that Leslie Nunnery is the quintessential counterpoint to my frantic, crazy self. God gave my parents her super-sweet yin to balance out my heapin’ helpin’ of yang.

Here’s what happened: soon after we boarded our flight, Sissy realized her phone was nowhere to be found. Calmly, quietly, she informed the flight attendant, who informed the gate agent. Having done what was reasonably possible, she then went about her merry way, listening patiently and smiling politely as Lila said, “Hey! Hey! I have to tell you something” approximately 1,678 times between take-off in Los Angeles and touchdown in Kahului.

You don’t have to have known me for very long to know that this is not how I would have handled the situation. Had we still been at the gate, I’d have bounded down the aisle and up the jet way with the approximate subtlety of Yosemite Sam. With his hair on fire. Had we been airborne, I’d have parachuted back to Earth. I mean, what if I’d gotten a text – and, even more unimaginably, what if hadn’t responded within 24 seconds of receiving it? What of my emails – that bulk spam doesn’t just delete itself, you know? And, most importantly, without the UK Sports app, how in the world would I ever have found out the Kentucky / Portland score immediately after landing?!

Trust me: should I ever lose my phone, the poor folks around me will find out just how crazy I really am.

Sissy’s philosophy, however, was “it’s a thing, not a person.” Yeah. Whatever that means. She’s not even on Twitter, so clearly, she’s not talking as someone who knows the pain of getting behind on her feed. At any rate, crisis was averted about midway through our long, second flight - Lizzie Gray was digging through her “backcack,” as Lila calls it, and what to her wondering eyes should appear but … Sissy’s iPhone. Imagine that.

To be honest, though, the whole thing sorta reminded me of that Brady Bunch episode when the happy clan went to Honolulu. For those of you who didn’t plan her days around SuperStation/WTBS’s 4:35 p.m. weekday time slot, I’ll recap the plot for you: Bobby finds an ancient tiki, and boy, did he live to rue the day he picked up that bad boy. That thing went on to wreak colossal havoc - Greg got hurt while surfing, Alice got a hitch in her hip during an oceanfront hula class. In other words, the whole Bra-cation was nearly ruined.

Yeah. So I’m not saying it’s a completely pure analogy, but both families went to Hawaii, and in both instances, things were found. So there’s that.

There’s also the fact that I wondered if we’d even be allowed on our flight from Atlanta to LA. Camden insisted on pulling his hood up and wearing his shades. Recently 11, he thinks he’s being cool. I – and 97.6% of the TSA personnel at Hartsfield – think he’s looking a little too much like a man who lives in a shanty and writes manifestoes about blowing up government buildings. I thought it’d be clever to call him the "UKaBomber;" I was careful, however, to only whisper that thought - or text it (see why I so desperately need my phone?!) - ‘til we were safely on the plane.

And that’s another thing. Remember when a four hour flight followed by a five hour flight meant an afternoon of watching your twiddling thumbs, while your grandmother blew through a carton of Virginia Slims in the smoking section at the back of the plane? Back then, your only form of in-flight entertainment was waiting for the beverage cart to roll by and coming up with fresh ways to con the stewardess out of an extra pack of peanuts.

Watching for that cart was kinda like waiting for The Wizard of Oz to air at Thanksgiving every year. In those pre-VCR days, if you missed it, it was, like, “Ah, well. Suck it up, Kid, and see it next year.” Parenthetically, that was just fine for my best friend Erin. She was the kind of kid who back-flipped through life. Literally. Only two things in the whole world scared her:

1) Dogs and
2) the Wicked Witch of the West.

Oh, wait. Only three things scared her:

3) she would never watch Jaws with me, either.

But I digress.

The point is, of the two of us, Erin was most definitely the brave one. If she was only scared of three things, I was only NOT scared of three things. Lucky for her, one of those three things just so happened to be … the Wicked Witch of the West (talk about relational yin & yang!), so every year, I - and my mother’s mauve-upholstered Queen Anne chair – protected her from a celluloid villain filmed some 40 years earlier.

The days of in-flight ennui are no mas, however. There are iPods and iPads and iPhones (assuming you don’t lose them). There are laptops and Kindles and personal-sized television sets, each with on-demand ESPN. It’s absolutely, positively crazy how endlessly we must now be entertained. I say that as the chief of sinners. I am the girl who sits at stoplights, staring at her cell phone, so the 27 seconds pass faster. I really want to detox from my high-wired life, though.

That’s what I’m hoping for from this trip, I think. That – and a ton of super awesome snapshots - and a tournament championship for my BIG BLUE Wildcats.

Now THAT would be something to be thankful for!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I "un" this video

Just when I thought it wasn't possible, I fell a little bit more in love with Darius Rucker.

And, as it turns out, he and I have more in common than just a Carolina heritage and an obsession with SEC football - he, too, has kissed Facebook goodbye ... or, at the very least, he realizes that it can be a great big pain in the patootie.

Still, to those of you still keepin' it real on the World's Most Hectic Social Networking Platform, happy "Un-Friend" Day!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

BREAKING NEWS from the Dissertation Beat

Chapter Four is NO MORE!

That means I've finished it ... well, the first draft of it, anyway. Well, most of the first draft of it. To be honest, I could've knocked it out a looooot sooner if I didn't have to actually produce the evidence to back up my assertions. It's such a to-tal drag - but my super-conservative committee is insisting that I actually substantiate my claims about the life and lyrics of Dorothy Fields. Since when does that matter? Proof, schmoof! Just ask the crack squad of sports reporters (and "independent bloggers") covering the Cam Newton story. They can say whatever they want without having to produce so much as a shred of evidence. Why can't I do the same?

Oh, wait. I just remembered why. It's called academic integrity. Journalists used to have it, too - emphasis on the "used to."

Oh, well. Doesn't matter. After all ...


As my mom always likes to say in these situations, "SUCK IT, NAYSAYERS." Hey - maybe Cam should try that the next time he gets a call from a certain New York Times reporter.

("Do you not know? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary,
and His understanding no one can fathom
." - Isaiah 40:28

Father, thank You for filling me with Your unfathomable understanding, for making sense of my scattered thoughts as I seek to finish this dissertation. To You I give all the glory, as the Giver of every good and perfect gift. In Jesus's name, Amen.)