Courtney Crowell is 16 and has no idea what she wants to do with her life. But she knows what she wants to do now: write and travel.
A published poet, she has been writing since seventh grade.
"That was the best way I could find to express myself," she said. "I didn't have a good enough circle of friends to talk to, so I wrote.
"Now I write whenever I have an extreme emotion or write about what was happening during the day. ... Most of my poems rhyme; some don't.... "
"... I just love to write in general, any kind of creative writing."
As we talked, she wrote a poem. Here is part of it:
Life is like a flower, pure and
Those who grow towards the
sky are special and true
We start out so small, then
grow and grow
We can shine like the sun or
hang our heads low...
Life is like a flower, short in
So let me stretch to the sky and
let me shine.
Last week Courtney returned from a trip to the Kentucky Derby with her parents.
"We've always wanted to go, a 'Bucket List' thing," she said.
There are lots of races during the two days at the track. The day before the Derby, Courtney and her family spent a beautiful afternoon at the Kentucky Oaks races.
Courtney also was impressed with a breast cancer walk around the track.
"Survivors, decked out in pink and pink rain boots because the track was muddy, got to walk around the track in order of their survival, starting with one day."
On Derby day, the family spent the whole day at the track.
"The race is a bigger deal, but there were less people because of the rain...."
She walked into the infield to see the horses and jockeys.
Courtney and her mom dressed up, wearing pink dresses with hats. Some of the hats and outfits were outrageous, she said. She saw a "lady covered head to toe in flowers and a naked lady walking through the tunnel...
"You dress up both days. Mostly women wear the fancy hats. Men wear seersucker or Madras plaid suits. My dad wore a Madras plaid suit. He's not the type to wear this," she added, laughing and showing me a picture of her dad.
Her two complaints were that there were "lots of drunk people" and "walking around in heels all day, my feet were killing me, even on Monday."
Her favorite thing: She won $100 on a $5 bet her dad placed for her on Super Saver, the winner.
The 2010 Charlotte Dragon Boat Race and Asian Festival is Saturday at Ramsey Creek Park. Admission is free. There's shuttle service from remote parking areas.
A dragon boat weighs about 600 pounds, is about 40 feet long, has a dragon's head and tail and has a crew of 22.
The Asian Festival will have food, stage performances, cultural exhibits, merchandise for sale and fun.
For details go to www.charlottedragonboat.com.