KELLY: What I learned this summer

So, syllabus week is over. Today probably finds you on the first real day of class. Since no one actually wants the school year to start, let me take you back to summer for a moment.
I spent my summer, work-wise, split between two jobs. Most of the time I worked with my buddy, sealing driveways and painting. Twice a week I interned at a sports Web site, working in an office.
The following are a few things I learned during my summer at home in St. Louis:

By most accounts, these are the best years of our lives.
The last few years I’ve heard over and over that college is the best time of our lives, blah, blah, blah. I never really paid it much attention. We’ve all heard it before.
But nearly every single person I met working this summer stressed exactly that. I can’t count how many times some guy in his late twenties at work wistfully told me, “Oh man, isn’t it the best time?” or “It’s all downhill from here.”
Hate to break it to those of you who haven’t thought much about how good we have it here (myself included). Think about it. We sit in class for 15 hours a week, maybe a little more. Some of us have jobs. Many of us go out three or four times a week.
For the most part, there are no real pressures. Those twenty-and thirty-somethings already in the work force full time have got it right. This isn’t the real world.
Upon graduation, we’re thrown into the real world, where our biggest fear will no longer be waking up from a nap at 9:05 p.m. and not being able to buy beer.
Take it from those who have been there before. Don’t take these years for granted.

Turning 21 doesn’t mean the end to alcohol issues.
A bunch of my friends turned 21 over the summer. All along, we thought that once we were 21, alcohol problems would go away. Wrong. Unfortunately, this summer I had two friends deal with the consequences of drunken driving. Not fun.
No one needs to be told that drinking and driving is a serious issue. You’re all smart enough to realize that. You’ve heard it before, but don’t think it can’t happen to you or your friends.
One bad decision is all it takes.
You can be out thousands of dollars, possibly face jail time and you’d shudder to think how heavy it would weigh on your conscience if you hurt someone.
Add that to binge drinking, alcohol poisoning and just plain bad decisions, and you can see being 21 isn’t the end of potential problems.

We’re fortunate.
Waking up at 6 a.m. to seal driveways hammered into my head that I’m fortunate to be in college, rather than toiling away somewhere doing hard labor for small wages.
I have a newfound respect for blue-collar men and women. And I’m grateful and lucky to be in the place I am.

The Cardinals will win the World Series.
Had to throw that in there. I saw firsthand the damage this team can do. The Holliday, DeRosa, Lugo and Smoltz acquisitions only bolster a stellar top of the rotation and the best player in the game, Albert Pujols.
Trust me, it’s over.
Cubs and Brewers fans: if you want to catch some quality baseball, head down to Miller Park this week to see the visiting team. We’re here through Wednesday.