I rolled into Winston Friday, July 25. My parents and I went straight downtown to an outdoor jazz fest. Had a great time. I love live music, so this was up my alley. My great friend Jon Dube, came up from Greenville, SC, to visit for the weekend. Dube was a fraternity brother of mine at UGA, and has always been a trusted friend. Of course, I hit good ol' Burke Street Pub both Friday and Saturday night. Come on, you knew that was gonna happen. As soon as I walked in the door, everyone made it feel like home. From the doorman, to the bartenders. Gotta love places that you just consider "your bar."
Monday, I went with the family to Sugar Mountain, NC. Dad couldn't make it due to work, but mom, sissy and I were accompanied by my aunt and cousin, Shelburn. She brought her son, Kale, with her. We were all very lazy over the next two days ... except for mom. She kept cooking, God bless her. Two quick observations from being with the family in the mountains:
1) Babies are loud. Babies are loud at dinner, at lunch, at breakfast and ESPECIALLY at 6 AM.
2) Reality TV shows are horrible. I mean really, can't we have congress pass some sort of law that prohibits any more of these damn foul things? NBC's "The Restaurant," is probably the only one I can tolerate. It actually has a story, and they don't have to pull you in with sex, or stupid gimmicks. Regardless, there should never be another reality show again. Unless it is about me. Then it is ok.
So I returned back to Winston Wednesday, for a lunch with WFU Ticket Manager, Joe Arnone. He's hilarious. A really good guy, with a lot of stories. Joe was easily one of my favorite people to work with while at Wake.
That evening, Erich and I decided to do a few songs at Rubber Soul's "open mic night." Surprisingly enough, we sounded really good. It was just E's guitar and my voice, which really makes me wonder how we pulled it off. Of course, this only begins to build on the excitement of the ARGUS show coming up in DeKalb next month. "Open mic" night was followed up by the old Wednesday Night Standard ... Karaoke at Burke. It was Lauren Cooper's last night in Winston before moving to Farmville, VA, and a job with Longwood University ... uhh huhuh huh uhhh ... I said ... yeah. So Big Red and I started the evening with a little of Bon Jovi's "You give love a bad name." Just a few songs after our evening debut, some chicks had THE NERVE to do Young MC's "Bust a move." Don't these people know that is jaylowe territory??? Well, they did a horrible job. Luckily enough, the DJ allowed me to do the song the CORRECT way about 30 minutes later. Red and I ended the night, serenading Coops with a little, "Brown Eyed Girl."
I spent most of Thursday visiting friends over at Wake. I can honestly say this ... sometimes when I return to UGA, I don't always feel welcome. Maybe it is just me being paranoid or silly, but sometimes I feel like when I come around, the people there are just waiting for me to beg for a job ... or are wondering, "why does this fool keep coming back"? But Thursday at Wake, I felt more welcome than I had at any place in a long time. I had some great quality conversations with a lot of people there. It was just nice to be around the kind folks there. Everyone honestly did make me feel like I was welcome.
That night I went over to visit with Steve, Christine and Jacob Adams. Damn, kids grow up SO fast. Last time I saw Jacob was over a year ago. Now he is walking, giving me high fives and almost speaking. It is amazing to see how fast these little things grow. It is obviously an amazing experience for both mom and dad. The family seems wonderful and in great spirits. It was a joy to be around all three of them.
Friday sissy and I spent some quality time. She and I actually hung out a lot over vacation, which was really nice. I had to take her to the mall on Friday though, so she could pick out some cool clothes for me. See, I'm getting older. As I get older, my "hipness" scale decreases. Sissy is always good on what is hip and what isn't. She and mom helped me pick out a few shirts from Banana, and I even broke down and bought a couple of DVDs at Best Buy. ***sidenote - Kristen told me they are opening a Best Buy in DeKalb, sometime in early to mid 2004. That is the greatest thing these ears have heard in some time.
After the jaunt to Best Buy, the entire family went out to dinner. Sis and I hung out both Friday and Saturday night at a few of the pubs. Good old fashioned bonding. I certainly don't get enough of that with Marian. I miss being away from her. She's turning into this great woman, and I'm only able to catch glimpses of it on vacations. Well, at least I know that I will make it to her graduation next May. I can't wait. I've got to come up with something fun for her and her friends.
Saturday afternoon I visited with Davis and his wife Nicole. He seems to be enjoying life at the ACC office, but I can tell he misses being around the actual college campus atmosphere. Who could blame him? It was great talking shop with him though. He had a lot of great advice and kind words for me. Even though we bickered from time to time at Wake, I owe a lot to Davis.
So Sunday rolls around, and there I am. Sitting in the airplane in Raleigh. In the airplane that was supposed to take off at 2:40 PM ... then 4:00 ... then ... oh wait, it was canceled. So I was luckily able to spend the night in Chapel Hill visiting with some friends I thought I wouldn't get to see over the break. Gotta love those Blue Cups at He's Not Here.
All in all the vacation was great, aside from two difficult realities my family is facing right now. My dad works for RJ Reynolds Tobacco. In case you didn't know, the tobacco industry has been taking quite a hit over the years. RJR is planning some serious lay offs in the September-October time frame. My dad is about 3 years away from retirement, so I'm hoping he gets spared. I'm not just saying this because he is my dad, but he is one of the hardest working people they have. And he's damn good at what he does. I hope they let him finish out his career. It'll be a stressful next couple of months for my parents for sure.
Also while on vacation, I found out my mom has been diagnosed with Diabetes. We have some history of it in both sides of the family, so it is a little nerve-wracking. Mom has been taking it well. The doctors tell her they've caught it very early, and that hopefully she'll be able to add foods and sugars back into her diet over the next few months. One thing I know is that it will help my mom eat better. Sometimes she worries so much about everyone else, she forgets to take care of herself. I think this will be a good way of making sure she stays healthy and eats right. She does so much for everyone in our family and for so many others outside our family. I just hope she starts taking care of herself and realizing that she is the most important part of our family. She keeps us all in line. She takes care of us all. I will admit it scared me a bit when she told me the news, but she is confident this isn't going to prevent her from leading a normal life. She just might have to cut back on those Cokes at 8 in the morning!
Well there is your wrap-up. Life is good ... and now it is back to reality. It hit me when i walked into the office this afternoon to plenty of emails, voice mails and regular mail. Such is life. At least I'm rested and ready for whatever is next.
ps - Don't forget about the ARGUS show September 6, at Fatty's here in DeKalb, IL.