Mancation: Inception

I think maybe it was the phone calls.

I get a lot of phone calls but there are these certain types that after I hang up I just sort of stare off into space for a while. In my role in church I get told things that I then have to keep. I don’t get to talk about them, its kind of like confession. So I just sit there and stare while the phone call sinks into my soul like lead. I started getting a lot of those calls.worn out

“You should call your friends and go on a trip.”

I can’t really raise one eyebrow, but if I could, I would have.

We talked. I listened. No; I think I complained and she listened. It was decided I needed a vacation.

How does one vacation? No. Wrong way to think about this. What do I want to do? Right. Thats a better way to go about it. As I sit and think I am annoyed with the need to think and plan. Thinking and planning is what I need a vacation from. Forget it. Forget planning. I’m not planning this.

I sent a text to the guys. They were in, but they weren’t going to plan it either.

I soon realized that to travel without planning I would still need to plan a little. I emailed out a spreadsheet with the supply list: tent, cooler, a canoe, ya know, just the basics. Off to one side was a list of possible destinations: Leatherheads workshop, cheese farm, Root Soda bottling plant, somewhere up north not near anyone, just the basics. Then, up top, I wrote out some ground rules:

No internet

No hotel/motel

No more than one purchased meal per day and only if it is specific to location (ie Maine lobster)

If we come upon a natural body of water 3+ feet deep, we must swim

If any of us almost die Dr. Chadwick must save them

And that was it.load up

Early Thursday morning I drove over the bridge to the Dr.s house and shortly thereafter the were-bear (half man half bear) arrived. kaleo taking pictures

The Kala Beverages boys were back together. We loaded up the rented Xterra and pointed north.

William Peace University: Peace College

Those prone to puns would begin here with some description of the downtown Raleigh campus and its lack of jarring noises and troubles. But I won’t do that (wink wink).peace sign

Perhaps the peaceful days are over anyhow as this women’s college founded in 1857, has just begun admitting men.

rocking chair

Perhaps, but not just yet.


The school is small, 700 students give or take a couple. My high school wasn’t much bigger. They offer just 10 majors. But as I watched the Sr. class prepare for the graduation ceremony it was obvious that they loved this place. When I graduated I was loving the idea of being done, these kids, these young women, and a couple of young men, looked as if they loved this place.library

And I have learned that loving your school matters. You can learn almost anywhere. MOOCs are all the educational rage these days but while walking around this leafy campus watching kids under a giant white canopy prepare to graduate, I could tell there was a little bit extra something other than “school” going on here.wearing sashes

Sometimes a little extra something is worth it.

NC State: Another Wolf Pack First Down!

Before he became my co worker he worked for Ernest & Gallo. He always wore khakis. Tall, slim, tucked in polo shirt, “crokies” on his sunglasses, boat shoes, a slight grin, and that ring.

An NC State ring.

IMG_4639Another friend of mine, one of my best, was once on the football team’s coaching staff. They don’t normally contend for the national title, but you wouldn’t know it on game day.IMG_4637We wound our way through an endless sea of tailgaters into the stadium where we all sang the school song and all shouted and pointed up field on every first down.

Being the low man on an aging coaching staff is not a fun place. Being an undergrad in a fraternity, if judged by how that ring was welded to my co worker’s finger, is just the opposite.IMG_4641

John Edwards went to NC State, so did Zach Galifianakis. At any given time 35,000 people attend State. They first integrated  letting Black people enroll, in 1956. Ol’ Miss had a riot when it integrated in 1962. NC State did not… yet it took sit ins from NC State’s neighbor, Shaw University, to force Raleigh merchants to serve Black customers.IMG_4640

But walking along the brick plaza of State’s campus, or down the shop lined streets of Raleigh, I might be th eonly one thinking about that.

Most every one else is more worried about bio labs and first downs.  Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.



Kennesaw State: its in Georgia

Kennesaw State has come a long way in a short time, and you can see it.dorm towers

It is located in a suburb just northwest of Atlanta and it looks it. No collegiate gothic arches and stone work, lots of vinyl siding.ampitheatre

My wife attended KSU for her first two college years, hardly any of what you see there now, was there then.

The doors opened in 1963, then it changed names, then it changed names again. It was, and a little bit still is, local. Not bad but not exceptionally rigorous.  But they are working hard to change cart

KSU has an ace up its sleeve regarding its continual makeover. Ty Pennington, host of Extreme Home Makeover Home Edition, tops the school’s alumni list.

the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill: Tar Heels

Baby blue,sky blue, powder blue, all the same color and to many, a list of evil misleading misnomers. It is, always has been, and always will be Carolina blue.bell tower

The school first opened its doors in 1789, which is a long time ago, but I’m pretty sure the sky was already blue back then.

The school has an enrollment of 29 thousand students, who were all babies before they were Tar Heels.

I’m not sure why powder blue is called powder blue, so I will ignore that one for now.bookstore

No matter how many others have claim to the color and no matter how sound your argument, you will not win if your position is anything other than “that” color is and always will be, Carolina blue.

It is just this sort of illogic, this kind of driven devotion, that drives everyone from any other school insane while simultaneously driving its school to be ranked the #5 public school in the country, #30 overall.quad

It is also the sort of insanity that has produced, or perhaps lured, the two most dominant athletes to ever play their respective sports, Lawrence Taylor and Michael Jordan.

This sporting prowess has placed the school in a position where young children, like myself some time ago, who have never been within 1,000 miles of Chapel Hill, never even heard of the idea of a liberal arts college, still know very well what and who the Tar Heels are.student center

But even with all these championships to win, and all these top notch classes to attend, the students still find time to make an attempt at setting a world record for most people spooning.

Aaaaaah college.

I Looked in the Mirror, and I Saw God

Today I tied the perfect half Windsor. The knot was just slightly asymmetrical, there was a nice dimple, and the tip of the tie just barely broke the top of my belt buckle. I did it on my first try. It’s my maroon club tie. It bears the logo of a proud institution that I can finally sport with legitimacy. It isn’t aspiring, it is earned.caddy

I don’t think shoes have to be earned but it took me forever to find the right ones. They are brown slip on loafers. Not Weejuns, or the normal penny loafers. The seams around the top of the shoe turn inside making them just a little sleeker. They ride that thin line between formal and casual. Forever all I could find were either frat boy moccasins or Euro genie shoes. Thank you eBay. Of course my brown leather belt matches.

I have on flat front cotton khakis. They reach right to the top of my shoe, covering my socks but not touching the ground, no break in the pant leg at all. This was luck. Even when I have had pants hemmed they never get it perfect. They still pool on the shoes or sag in the seat. This pair came right off the rack. Serendipity.

I rarely if ever use a comb, just fingers. The key isn’t the comb, it is the product. I’ve gone through gels, mousses, pomades. Some just didn’t have the hold, others held but turned flaky by mid-day. I don’t want wet and glossy, nor bed head, just a nice mid ground that looks tidy but with a little style. I’m too old, to responsible to do anything wild, but I’m not quite ready to give up and have hair that is just blah. So the idea is to do the blah doo but with fingers instead of a comb. With the right product it works. At least it works for what I want and today I got it right.

I shaved and did not cut myself. Not on my neck next to my Adam’s apple, not at the corners of my mouth. Not only did I not cut myself but I shaved in record time and managed to still erase that pesky little patch right under my nose. That spot where nose and upper lip meet. The one that no razor built by man can quite fit. Today I got it.IMG_4026

I buttoned down the collar on my powder blue shirt, and took a step back to take it all in. Perfect. After all these years of wandering in sartorial ignorance, being swayed by cargo pants or t shirts, being wooed by four button suit jackets or chunky soled Doc Marten’s, I finally figured it out. I nailed it. Today I was top to bottom happy with what I put on.

Then, when I reached for my jacket, I turned just a little sideways. It ruined everything.

That dreaded ballooning a shirt makes when tucked in, the one you should buy slim or fitted shirts to avoid, was full of me. Balloons are full of air, this was full of me. My stomach hung out over my belt buckle like some cornice; an avalanche just on the brink of happening.


It wasn’t always like that. That thing, that baggage, that waistline that isn’t really me, it is a some-thing, not a part of a some-one. It isn’t me, it is just some passenger that stowed away while I was busy with other things. It used to be I could not only not find the right shoes, but I couldn’t afford them. I could never afford them so much so that even if I had money I had no idea what I should be buying. I was in the wrong shoe wearing the wrong shirt, in the wrong fit, but on the perfect body.

This body had its own reputation.

Every bit of it was solid. Large in the chest and shoulders, slim in the waist and wrists. I was maybe a little thick in the ankles but massive enough in the calves to balance it out. While I may not have been clothed very well, I had a great form to fit. My form wasn’t the best part of that body of old, the best part was what it could do.

It was never all that fast but it was quick. Nimble. That body could run forever and lift anything. It could bend any which way, needed very little rest, and no matter what I did, it bounced right back. It just was. Because of it I rode bikes, swam in rivers, climbed mountains. I ran, tackled, punched, and got hit right back. That body was fantastic.

That body was 18 years old.

Looking in the mirror today I saw God.scarfs

God is not in the tie I earned, those perfect shoes, or even in that once fantastic body. I saw God right at the moment when I realized I had tied the perfect half Windsor. I began to swell with pride. I began to become full of myself. Then I stepped back and saw how my midsection had swelled and the results of filling my plate 100 times too many. I came crashing right back down like Icarus.

To me that was God.

It was the same God that kept that perfect body wearing the wrong clothes and wracked with insecurity. That perfect body could never find the perfect hair product, or even the right haircut. It wore knock off brands and could never quite figure out what was going wrong.

I have finally found the right haircut, but it has come complete with nose and ear hair.

Such is the justice of God.

It is God because it keeps me grounded in reality.


Like God.

Real like spare tires and zits. Real like sports cars and divorces, bankruptcy and the birth of your first child.

Real, like important things.

Now do not get me wrong, my health is important, and how I dress can greatly affect how I am treated by the world and therefore influence how effectively I function in that world. But O how easily am I distracted by myself. My tastes my ideas, my hopes and my soul crushing insecurities. How easy is it for me to forget that I am not more important than you, and how one looks should not influence how I feel about them. Looks can be either an expression of self or a distraction from truth, and I cannot tell which is which from just looking.

Neither can

Not that beauty is bad. I love line shapes and color, in nature, in art, in people. I love it in me, and in you, and in them. But getting in too deep is like eating nothing but the frosting off a cake. It is wonderful but your teeth will eventually hurt and your sugar high will come down. Frosting has no substance without the cake.

Dessert can be damaging without the meal.

My big round belly beneath a perfect half Windsor knot reminded me of that meal.

God didn’t curse me with fat. I did that. What God has done is bless me with a reminder that paint needs to be spread on canvas to mean anything.

My perfect shoes are stupid unless my feet are standing in the right place. The break in my pant leg is invisible unless I stand up. The perfect hair product is pointless if my head is empty.

On the other hand, making the mistake of matching your pocket square perfectly with your tie and not your shirt, is less important than whether or not that handkerchief is over a heart filled with hope.


That being said, your pocket square should match your shirt if it is going to match anything at all. I didn’t know that till after I got fat.

Georgia Southern University

I have a very good friend who earned a masters degree in education at Georgia Southern. When he heard I had been there he asked, “So how is that campus anyways?”

Turns out he had never been there.student center

Hats off to the adaptability and flexibility of modern education, my friend, and GSU’s school of education.

I’ve now been there twice. Given the schools location, not quite right next to Savannah, I think maybe I should be given a degree from there as well. Maybe just a certificate. I will settle for a gold

I am often asked why school is so expensive. I am sometimes told the cost of useless administrators is to blame. I have given, and heard, many answers to these questions and accusations, but I won’t do that here.

new gymI contemplated these issues as I sat in a mall-esque food court watching students walk past the indoor climbing gym and into one of three weight rooms at 10am.fountains



Shaw: the Source of Those Pesky Agitators

In 1960 a student at Shaw University organized a conference to be held on campus.
main bldg

This student, Ella Baker, brought together 126 other students from other schools, people like Stokely Carmichael, Marion Berry, Julian Bond, and together they formed a group called the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC).

This little group of students from mostly small HBCUs organized and helped engineer one of the greatest societal shake-ups America has ever experienced.

And they got started at school

Shaw itself got started when the civil war ended and a Northern Baptist loaded up his carpet bag and went to Raleigh. This minister, Dr. Henry Martin Tupper, founded the school in 1865 with a handful of emancipated students. Fast forward a few years and graduates from Shaw were sitting in the president’s chair of five other colleges.tower

Perhaps that number will rise. There are currently 2,800 students at Shaw. The campus is small, right downtown.  I found parking in record time, walked around campus in record time, and then broke a record for the chattiest counter clerk in the school bookstore. He was a White dude.carsIt was graduation weekend.

Moms, Dads, and lots of rowdy aunties were wandering around campus hugging everybody.

I didn’t stick around for commencement. Instead I wandered off contemplating Greyhound buses and Woolworth’s counters.



NYU: A big apple for the teacher

Who needs a campus when you are in Manhattan?

nyu viewWho needs a quad when you have Washington Square?

As you wander around trying to get a feel for the student body, culture, climate and whatnot, all you get is New York.

That isn’t a bad thing.

ampitheatreI had lunch with a colleague who works in admissions at Stern. “How is New York?” I asked.

She smiled, looking far off into the distance, and gave a sing-songy recounting of a chick flick worthy summer. I’m not sure she has ever walked the sidewalks of the city, she has been ten feet off the ground the entire time.

She deserves to be there.

flatironThe school is private. There are almost 39,000 students but that is a drop in the bucket for New York. $1,200 per credit is not. But hey, this is New York!

girlThey give out Nobel prizes like candy around here. Go to Hollywood to make some shoot ’em up action movie. Go to NYU to make a smart movie… while wearing black and sleeping on a cot stuffed in a closet.

dormsIf none of this sounds good to you, you don’t deserve to live here.

goofy face

I Met Her in Church

I met her in church.

She stood at the podium and gave the most heartfelt and irreverent talk I had ever heard. Well…I’m not sure if it was the most heartfelt, but I am sure she was smokin’ hot.IMG_9471Thirteen years and two kids later she is still smokin’ hot.

She has a kind of star power that other people (me) hang around like groupies, hoping to catch a little of her leftover glow. If you meet her once you will know what I mean. You don’t forget.michael

Have you ever bumped into someone on the street and re-introduced yourself? They smile, shake your hand, and nod their head while the brow furrows as they rack their memory trying to drum up the connection?

Not with her.

People see her again after who knows how long, and as she recounts how they are acquainted, they just smile, nod. They don’t have to think because they remember exactly where they met.

She’s that kind of person.


She is a Mom.

People who have had that job watch her in amazement. She is good at it. Good like the unfair kind of good. And she does it her way.

That’s how she does everything.

While pregnant she read every book imaginable. When the kid showed up she brought certified experts into our home to consult us. She has a degree from an accredited university on childhood development  She watches, studies, learns, and then goes ahead and does it her own way.ridin bike

If I, or any of our kids, ever reach any real success it will be because we stood near enough to her for some of “it” to rub off. Reflected glow. Second hand awesomeness.

We are all very lucky. I’m surprised she tolerates us.IMG_1441

She doesn’t have time, or rather doesn’t waste time, on foolishness. Now make no mistake, she knows how to “act a fool”, in fact acting a fool allowed her to meet Oprah (twice), but rather she has no patience for gossip, pettiness, or social jockeying.

Unless you are Oprah. Then she is a triple crown quality jockey.kayandoprah

God is the only one who can tell her what to do. She will listen to him, and even if it is like a pouting child forced to clean her room. She cleans it.

Most of us just put on our headphones and ignore God. We sit in our messy rooms and play childish video games pretending we don’t know God asked us to clean up this mess.

But not her. She does it.

She doesn’t do it for you. She doesn’t do it for me. she just does.

And she looks good doing it.KAyontvtellinstories

I am thirteen years in love.