Monday, June 28, 2010

Random Note

Someone asked me this week how my book was coming along and I actually had to pause.  I was able to tell them that I rewritten the second half and I actually love it, which is extremely shocking for me.  The person went on to ask me when I was going to take the next step and I have to admit that it felt like the room temperature jumped up about 30 degrees.  (Since I know that not very many people read this blog, I feel like I can say this here.)  I almost told the person that the reason why it has taken me so long to take the final plunge and get serious about finding a publishing company is because I am terrified.  

Yes, people, I said it!  I. AM. TERRIFIED!  I am scared to see what I had spent so much time writing in print and out there for other people to read.  I mean, yeah, I have posted  chapters on here and had a couple people read my book, but I'm talking about it being available to the public!  That thought alone scares the living hell out of me!  

I honestly couldn't even tell you what excuse I gave this person, but the conversation alone has been nagging at me.  I know that this is ridiculous, but it's true.  

Where Has the Real Music Gone

Anyone who knows me knows that I am passionate about a few things other than my family and friends.  Music, basketball, writing and traveling to name a few, but I think I'll focus on music for now.  I come from a family where music is a constant.  Often times, it is the first thing that it turned on and the last to be turned off at night.  For me, music was introduced to me before I was born.  Mom said that she would play classical music while she was pregnant with me.  Also, sometimes when they were trying to put me to sleep as a baby, my parents would put me in the baby swing, put those huge headphones on me and press play.  They said it did the trick...I don't doubt them.  Even now, music is the only thing that can really calm me down. 

So there is the mini story to my slight obsession with music.  On to the real reason I started this posting.

At work, I like to keep my earphones on to drown out the constant noise of the office and concentrate and to maintain a small dose of sanity during the day.  Most of the people that come through are used to seeing me with them in and question me if my earphones are missing.  What can I say?  My earphones have become a part of me! 

Friday, while I was talking to the interns in my office, one of them asked what kind of music I listened to.  Instead of giving her an answer, I just handed her my mp3 player and focused on my computer screen knowing that there would be a few comments coming my way soon.  And I was right!  The music on my mp3 player ranges from rap to country to alternative to R&B.  I will never put classical music on there because its almost too relaxing.  She commented on this and I had to tell her that I get extremely bored with music.  

After all of this, I got to thinking about the music that came out while I was growing up.  It has definitely changed over the years, as well as the quality of it.  At one time, an artist was expected to have talent in order to snag a record deal, but now, as I read somewhere, someone only needs "a pulse" and I can't help but agree.  When I was younger, Tevin Campbell, Whitney Houston, Luther Vandross, Aaliyah and plenty of others were on the radio and to me, this was music.  These artists were truly talented and released albums that I constantly go back to time and time again.  Now the radio is playing music by Ke$ha, Sean Kingston and Rhianna, all who I would only consider entertainers with no real talent in the music world.  Yeah, they tell a good story, but I can honestly say that they will not go on to become legends.

To me, hip hop and r&b have become so disappointing that it's almost not even worth listening to.  There are a few that are still worth a listen, like Usher, Alicia Keys, Musiq to name a few, that have continued to come through.  Due to the lack of creativity and talent, I have begun to look to other genres to satisfy my need for good music and there is plenty of it out there.  

All of this made me wonder: There are campaigns to help Haiti and the AIDS epidemic.  If there are people out there who feel like I do, shouldn't there be a campaign out there to save the music from these fake "artists"?  

Maybe I'm rambling a little, but it's just a thought....

Monday, June 21, 2010

Dad's and Their Influence on Us

Warning: If you don't really want a history lesson, please move on!  Kthanxbai! 

Yesterday at church, the pastor was preaching about the influence that dad's or fathers have on their kids.  This influence could shape the child for the better or for worse.  He gave three examples of father's who's influence changed history.  (Yes Mom, I really do pay attention to what the pastor is saying in church!!!)  Each of these men we all have heard of.  The first man was Heinrich.  He was a devote Jew before he became a Lutheran so that he would be taken a little more seriously as a lawyer.  He wanted his son, Karl Marx, to follow in his footsteps and become a lawyer because this was a more practical career, but to his dismay, Karl wanted to study philosophy and literature.  To make a long story short, Marx's writings would later start become a strong influence and create the Communist Party. 

The second father that was talked about was Alois.  Records tell us that he was a very strict man and would often beat his son, Adolf.  It is said that Adolf Hitler told his assistant that at one point during these beatings, he grew numb and started to count the blows.  Workers said that when he would sleep, they would hear him counting to thirty, which is consistent to the 30 blows his father would deliver during his regular beatings.  What seemed to be the weirdest thing is that everything that Hitler hated about the world could be found in his family.  As we all know, he went on to create the Nazi Party and kill over 11-14 million people who were not of the Aryan race.  All of those who were not perfect.  I wonder if Alois knew that his extremely tough child rearing skills would result in the Holocaust. 

The third father that the pastor talked about was King David from the Old Testament of the Bible.  It was said that he was a man after God's heart, but at home, this guy was a mess!  He had four sons and three of them were killed!  (I am not going to go into the whole story about this.)  His son, Solomon, who he actually made it a point to sit down with, would later become king.  One of the wisest and richest kings in history, I might add.  The Bible says that David actually sat down with his son and taught him everything that he knew.  Unlike the first two fathers, David actually made time for his son and and was a real dad to him.  Could it really be that simple?  In this case, yes.

I think what I am getting at is that dad's have more of an influence than we sometimes think.  Boys look to them to figure out who they would want or not want to become and girls look at them to see what kind of man they want to marry one day.  This is assuming that their dad's are a good influence on them.  There are also some dad's who look at the example that they had growing up with and want to do better and make sure other kids don't have to go through what they did.  I look at my dad and know I got a good one for sure!

I know that I am a little late in this posting, but after the service yesterday, I didn't think that the original posting would have said what I needed to say.  So to all of the great dad's out there, keep up the great work!  Even though society doesn't always see how truly amazing you are, the rest of us do! 

Happy Belated Father's Day, Dad! :o)

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

No Words!

As we all know, I am insanely in love with this crazy sport that we call basketball.  I mean everything about it!  The screeching of the shoes on the waxed floor as plays are being made, the yelling between players reminding their teammates that they are open, the look of determination in the players eyes, the swishing sound the net makes.  I could go on for days, but I won't.  

There is a reason for me bringing up all of this.

Right now, the NBA Finals are on and Boston Celtics and LA Lakers are going head to head.  This is the 12th time that these teams have met up in the Finals.  When these two teams met up in 2008, the Celtics had something to prove since they had the best record in the league that year and hadn't been in the Finals in years.  The Lakers, or should I say Kobe, had a point to make.  They could take home the championship trophy without Shaq.  Unfortunately, that didn't happen.  Boston shut down Kobe and his Lakers and went on to become the NBA Champs.  In my opinion, they deserved it.  

Sunday, the two teams met up for game 5 tied 2-2 in Boston.  I had mixed emotions about that game.  Boston has the ability to shut down the opposing teams and run with it, but they didn't.  They came into the game making so many mistakes, but managed to stay in the game because of 2 things: their defense which knocked the Lakers off their game and the Lakers low shooting percentage.  The Celtics bench also kept the team in the game, which is great to see.  

Unfortunately, the same mistakes that the Celtics made Sunday night were being made last night.  They had two things working against them.  One, they were no longer in Boston and the Lakers are always a more confident team when playing at home.  Two, they weren't making their shots and their turnovers were hurting them so bad.  Losing their big man Kendrick Perkins in the first half was devastating, especially since this was a big game.  Usually, when something like this happens, the rest of the team should shake this off and move on; prove to the other team that no matter what, they were still in the game.  That's what should have happened!  

Instead, Boston didn't rebound the ball, which meant their chances for second chance shots went out the window, they didn't defend and left the Lakers sharp shooters wide open and they didn't make the extra passes.  Unlike previous games where a player would pass up a good shot for a better shot, someone would jack up a three and miss it.  A few times, it looked like the Celtics actually handed the Lakers the ball and said, "Please go and make a three point shot!"  To make matters worse, this was all only in the FIRST HALF!!!!  I was so upset that I turned off the TV during halftime and watched the last bit of the 3rd quarter before calling it quits since Boston seemed to have done the same.  Sigh

So here it is: Boston get your act together, this next game is a must win!  Get it together!  I really don't want to see Kobe win it again!  He already makes me sick...he doesn't need another championship ring. 

Despite how horribly they played last night, I still say


Thursday, June 10, 2010

My Night in Kalamazoo

On Monday night, I was blown away and honored even to have the opportunity to watch a group of kids graduate from Kalamazoo Central High School.  These kids are now a part of history and I'm pretty sure they knew this as they walked into the Western Michigan Arena that night.  Attending the first public high school in Michigan to open its doors 150 years ago...not enough.  Okay.  Being able to go to college for free just because you graduated from Kalamazoo public schools due to the Kalamazoo Promise Scholarship...still not enough.  Interesting.  Being able to win the Race to the Top Contest that beat out thousands of schools around the nation... Still not enough?  Let's try this: Having the President of the United States of America deliver the commencement speech for your class and congratulating you when walk across that stage.

Can I say amazing?  Inspiring?  A part of history?  This would all only make sense to say.

After spending hours making sure that things ran smoothly on the governor's end of the program, I was given the opportunity to attend.  That day taught me never to depend solely on Google maps, because for the second time in the last month, I have gotten lost using their directions!  Please know, for me to say this means a lot since I am all about Google!  I mean, my phone (which is pretty much amazing) is through Google, I'm using Google docs to finish writing my book, I am a freaking walking billboard and yes, Blogger is through Google...could I be anymore dedicated to this company?!  I mean, I could be, but that's beside the point.  

I'm straying away from the real reason I started this entry in the first place.

When I stepped onto that bus that took me from where I parked my car to the Arena, I could already feel that sense of excitement around me.  Everyone on that bus could barely sit still for the 5 minute bus ride and honestly, I couldn't blame them.  Unlike the other passengers though, I was antsy for a completely different reason.  This had been the first "federal" event that I had ever managed for the governor and if anything got screwed up, it was on me!  The pressure!  Anyway, when I stepped off that bus to find one of the people from the office, (thank goodness for cellphones, because they made the search so much easier!) and was relieved to find that part of what I was worried about was under control.  Although, I don't understand this situation: when someone tells you to be somewhere BY 6:00 because security will be a mess, shouldn't you be there by 5:55?!  Just my thought on the whole thing!

Moving on!  Once I got through security, which really was slightly crazy, I walked around to make sure everything was still under control before going to find my seat.  It really did suck that all of my co workers were sitting up front, 3 rows from the stage, but I really do think that my seat in the 14th row is where I needed to be.  You see, the people that I spent most of my Saturday talking to on the phone or texting were sitting up there.  So for me to match faces to names and voices before commencement was great.  My thought on the whole thing was at least I was there!  

When the event started and people finally stopped cheering for the president, the superintendent welcomed everyone before stepping aside for the principal of Kalamazoo Central High School.  Having already gone through whole school thing, I can tell what makes a great teacher of school official.  The great ones are not in the business to make money, they really do care about each and every student that walks into their class and will do everything in their power to make sure the students succeed.  Not all teachers are like that, but I think that could be true for those two administrators that night.  When the principal spoke that night, the pride in his voice was so clear.  

Before that night, I had not seen the video that the school had submitted for the Race To The Top contest and even now, I think I made the right choice.  Several times during this video, I had to remind myself that these were high school kids.  The video told the history of the school and about the amazing students who attended Kalamazoo Central.  For some reason, I hadn't realized who culturally diverse this school was.  Over 51% of the school was African American and the next highest was Hispanic.  Wow!  They also pointed out that because of the Kalamazoo Promise, many of these students would be the first in their family to go on to college.

If that doesn't get you a little choked up, I don't know what will.

When the principal introduced the president, the crowd went crazy.  I mean, yes, people were there to support this amazing group of kids, but come on!  It's the president!  I loved that he stopped his speech to respond to a "We love you" from the crowd and commented on the fact the salutatorian couldn't run for office until he was 35.  Every part of his speech, to me, was amazing.  He thanked the anonymous donors for their contribution to the Kalamazoo Promise and told the kids that since they will never be able to pay them back, to pay it forward; continue to serve.  He also told that them that no matter what they did, not to make excuses.  Toward the end of his speech, he recited a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that has been stuck in my head ever since.
Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.
Kalamazoo may not be the richest city in the state, but the people there are doing what they can by educating their youth and instilling values at an early age, by using their desire to help the community around them in the Kalamazoo area.  

In his speech, he quoted a student of the school who said that their school was never recognized for what they do.  In response to this, he said:
Well, Kelsey, Class of 2010, members of the Kalamazoo community, I’m here tonight because after three rounds of competition, with more than a thousand schools, and more than 170,000 votes cast, I know -- and America knows -- what you’ve done at Kalamazoo Central.  You are amazing!  We know.  We know.  Our amazing Secretary of Education Arne Duncan knows.  Folks in Washington know, folks across the country know, and hopefully after tonight, everybody knows.
 Yes they do!

He also said this:
And I’m told that soon after the Promise was established, a first grader approached the superintendent at the time and declared to her:  “I’m going to college.”  First grader.  “I’m going to college.  I don’t know what it is, but I’m going.”
 Could that be anymore amazing?!  

Instead of continuing to quote his speech, I'll just say that it was amazing!  Read it for yourself if you don't believe me!

Someone asked me what the best part of that night was and honestly, I couldn't give them a straight answer.  It was the excitement, the pride, the idea that this amazing group of kids came together to bring the President of the United States to speak at their commencement or just the mere fact that I had the honor of attending this exciting event.  I have yet to talk to someone who could pinpoint the "best thing" about this night and maybe that's a good thing!  I don't think that could be done. 

I will say that I am soooooo sick of hearing about the kid who fell asleep during the president's speech and was caught on camera.  I guess I really don't understand why he is getting all of this publicity about it...he fell asleep!  He really should be ashamed of himself, but whatever!  Just my two cents.