I was walking down Club Boulevard in front of the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics, pushing John Michael in the jogging stroller.
As she leaves for work every morning, my wife recites a mnemonic device that helps remind her that she is leaving for work.
Carolyn Hemingway. Antonio Dixon. Those who perished at Dachau during the Holocaust. Those that gave their lives for their country during war. Within less than two weeks, I covered four assignments that each had the same purpose – to remember those who were killed. One was a funeral. One was a national holiday. Two were vigils. Each of the four events were held on sunny days. Each of the four events remembered those who died not in peace, but by violence. Each of the four was emotional for those who were connected to those who died.
I couldn’t blame it on a bad pass, wet turf, sloppy handling or referee incompetence.
No, back in the 1970s, my sport was spelling.
When I failed, I only had myself to blame.
Let me reiterate and make this perfectly clear: I have no intention, currently, at this moment, as of early this morning, right now, of running for president in 2016.
However, as I state in my currently available new book, “Running for President in 2016,” circumstances can change.
Back when I was a reporter in Southwestern Virginia, I covered the June 6, 2001, opening of the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va. I left my home in Blacksburg at dawn, driving through several towns on the way to a rather small town, especially for a national memorial. But it’s there because Bedford lost the most soldiers, per capita, of anywhere else in the country on D-Day.
The dedication was a long day and an exciting one. Thousands of people were there, including the president. It was an important story because it was part of a thousand stories of those who will never forget June 6, 1944, the day of the Allies’ invasion of Normandy, France, during World War II.
I haven’t started spritzing everything with Windex.
But I’m thinking about it.
It’s been a wild year since I took the unprecedented (in my life) step of getting baptized, joining the Greek Orthodox Church so that I could marry into a (very) Greek family.
A little more than a year ago, I packed up all my cares and woes, along with my curated collection of old take-out menus from restaurants that no longer existed, emptied my desk, refused to sharpen any more pencils, left my office and retired from my job.
Do you remember that boy or girl you playfully kicked under your desks in third grade? Dawn Grasty and Randy Weisbaum do. Picture it: Simi Valley, California, 1969 to 1971. Grasty and Weisbaum were best friends in third and fourth grades.
Michael Butts met his future wife in 2003 in the bookstore at Durham Technical Community College.
She needed a cassette recorder for a class in anatomy and physiology. She couldn’t find one.
The burly man – a formal football player at N.C. Central University who worked at the store even though it paid less than unemployment – asked if she needed help.
“I do not,” she said. “Thank you.”
First, the good news. The other weekend, I ran a 5K race and I did not end up in the emergency room. In fact, I finished second in my age group.
The bad news is that I’m not sure there were more than two people in my age group.
And to make it worse, the other guy in my age group just managed to edge me out by a hair — or more precisely, by 17 minutes.
The first time I was ever in the Dean Dome was not for a basketball game, but my sister’s graduation hooding ceremony when she received her Ph.D. from UNC Chapel Hill. I didn’t live in the Triangle yet. I was still living in another college town about four hours north. It was May 2004.
I wore the wrong shoes – big clunky sandals that I traded for cheap flip flops I bought on Franklin Street hours later. I know better now. Anyway, I have a framed photograph of my sister, Joy, in her graduation gown, the UNC Bell Tower in the background. She’s looking off into the distance. I’m sure I asked her to, to capture a wistful moment. The reality was we happened right by the tower in a hurry to the ceremony and I snapped a quick picture.
Puzzled by the past several months of histrionics about North Carolina’s election-law changes? You’re hardly alone. By any objective standard, the Voter Identification and Verification Act enacted last year was commonsensical in structure and modest in potential effects.
Dear soon-to-be college graduates,
Thank you for selecting me as your commencement speaker this year once you found out that you couldn’t get Miley Cyrus.
I know you have asked me here because you believed I could offer all of you some pertinent advice about life, since I have been living for some time.
You all know how hip-hop producer 9th Wonder and N.C. Central University men’s basketball coach LeVelle Moton were buddies back in the day on campus as students. After 9th Wonder launched the Hip-Hop Institute at NCCU with history department chair Jim Harper last month, you learned that Harper was there, too, doing his history thing while 9th made beats and Moton carried that basketball around. That was in the mid-1990s. You know, just the other day. Not long ago. Recently. Say what? That was 20 years ago? Oh, right. Time moves fast.