Category Archives: weather

Why I Love Oklahoma (and a few things I don’t like about it)

I just got back from a week in Oklahoma, my native land, where my people are buried. And though I’m glad to be home, overjoyed to have the job I do and happy where I’m at, I still was a complete wreck on the plane, crying my eyes out watching Tulsa County slip away out of the tiny airplane window. I wore my sunglasses on the plane – I usually make fun of people who do that. But maybe they’re trying to hide their tears too.

It was cloudy, so my view was a bit obstructed. It cleared closer to Texas, and we began our descent into DFW in time for me to see the Red River snaking across the view. “We need rain,” I thought, my one-generation-removed-from-the-farm mind still kicking in.

In a few hours, I would be in New England again. I finally stopped crying once I left DFW on the second leg, but the tears came back on my road back to Bristol from Bradley. I was listening to Oklahoma music – I thought I’d better get all those emotions out now, before I go back to work. I certainly don’t want to cry in front of an NFL Hall of Famer or anything.

But I was thinking a lot on the drive home. About why I’m not in Oklahoma anymore. It’s not permanent, as I know I’ll be back there to retire whenever that is. Or whenever the Thunder want to make me head of communications… whichever comes first. But anyway, I thought of a co-worker of mine at ESPN who flat-out asked me once, “Why do people live in Oklahoma?” This was after a tornado, not just a general condemnation of the Sooner State. As I drove home, I thought of some of the reasons I love it, but also a few why I don’t. So without any further ado…

WHY I LOVE OKLAHOMA…

 It’s NOT:

  1. The heat. I was a few moments into a 90-degree Monday afternoon when I realized I just can’t hack the heat anymore. Fortunately, 99 percent of Oklahoma is cooled to the hilt with the best AC money can buy. But I’m quickly becoming an East Coaster who can’t tolerate anything over 80.
  2. The politics. Seriously, I’m sitting with my friends, many of whom have children, are teachers or just interested in education, and I’m realizing just how bad the schools and government are. Seriously, people, put politics aside – who cares who’s wrong and who’s right? You’re getting lapped by everyone else because you take tax breaks out on kids. This will have long-reaching effects. People won’t want to stay to raise their kids if the schools are the worst in the nation. And the job market isn’t as good as it should be. Oklahoma is an affordable state with natural resources out the ying-yang. If you wreck it now, it’s going to wreak havoc for years and years to come. What happened to the lottery saving education? Where is that money going? Quit trying to marry church and state again and let your kids get smart enough to make their own decisions.
  3. The roads. Yes, we pay high taxes in Connecticut. But our roads – even after 100-plus inches of ice and snow this winter – are in great shape. I got carsick on Oklahoma roads this time. Fix your infrastructure, or it’s all going to come crumbling down someday.

Now on to the good stuff.

 It IS:

  1. The people. Oh my God, it was great to be around people who genuinely seem to care about each other, even if they don’t know each other. I was in Reasor’s in Tahlequah on Saturday and saw so many people saying hi, thank you, excuse me, etc. – Hey, New England: It’s called human kindness. Try it. You’ll like it. Today, back in Bristol, I went to the grocery store and acted like an Oklahoman again. I will NEVER lose that part of myself, I hope. And besides – all my friends are there. I will never forget that. We had a full house in Tahlequah at Arrowhead, to celebrate the life of one of our great friends. I love them all, and realized that I couldn’t lose them if I tried. (And why would I do that? They like me in spite of me!)
  2. The weather (but not the heat). I had missed thunder and lightning so much – I got to hear and see it again. Also, thanks, weather gods, for the absolutely PERFECT Saturday afternoon on the Illinois River in Tahlequah! I also miss that winter lasts about 45 minutes, not six months like Connecticut.
  3. The food. Holy shit, ya’ll. Oklahoma food is just so much better than anything in Connecticut. Taco Bueno is so, so much better than anything they attempt to sell as “Mexican food” up here. It’s funny to see them try up here… but not funny to eat. Blargh. My first stop was Bueno, my last was Rib Crib. I somehow lost weight on vacation, but I think it’s because I was walking a lot.
  4. The accent. Because it makes everyone up here go, “Where  ARE you from?” It’s not Southern, really, and it’s not Texas. It’s Oklahoman, and it’s a thing of beauty.
  5. The music. Woody Guthrie started it. Let’s not let Crazy Wayne Coyne finish it…
  6. The heritage. A little bit of everything we are — mutts, half-Indian or 1/128th Choctaw, whatever you are. We look different than people do on the East Coast. And it’s beautiful. Oklahoma girls and boys are… well, HOT!
  7. The way it makes me feel. Oklahoma, for me, is a state of mind. When I first arrived last week, I walked off the plane and my Inner Oklahoman was fully engaged, like it had been on standby for three years, ready to spring back to life. It’s slower. It’s friendlier. It’s peaceful. And it’s home – always has been, always will be. The bones of my mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and many friends take up residence in Oklahoma dirt. I ran my 1969 Cutlass into the weird wall in the parking lot of the Braum’s on 32nd in Muskogee. I got on stage with Tripping Daisy at Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa (and had many, many more great times there, both pre- and post-air conditioning.) I drank to excess for the first time in Park Hill, Oklahoma, in a trailer full of people who would go on to become some of my best friends. I have fallen in and out of love, made and unmade friends, lost family, gained even more family, and found that I had to leave to get where I wanted – all that happened in Oklahoma – 36 of my 39 years were in Green Country. It’s who I am.

I could go on and on like this. And I guess crying every time I leave is going to keep happening, so I had better save some of it for the next trip. I’m going to leave part of myself in Oklahoma every time I go, I guess. But really, I’m already all the way there, and taking part of me to Connecticut every time I leave the Red Dirt State. It’s where I know I’ll end up someday, even if I talk real big about how I’m going to live out my days in San Francisco.

Hopefully, I’ll be able to do anything I want with my life, and moving to New England will help make that possible, thanks to my career and the wonderful company I work for – but I know that, for me, all roads lead to Oklahoma. Despite all that stuff I said above about what I don’t like about Oklahoma, I know I’ll be back. And when I do get back, meet me under that Oklahoma Sky.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKTUZ-ig57M&feature=kp

 

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Filed under Connecticut, ESPN, Family, Friends, Fun!, General Nonsense, Oklahoma, Tahlequah, Travel, Tulsa, Uncategorized, weather

Home Sweet Oklahoma On My Mind

My eyes burn. Puffy, waterlogged, red, dripping. And yet I continue to put them through what’s torturing them so – news coverage from my beloved home, torn asunder by another round of carnage from that bitch Mother Nature.

I can’t stop watching the videos and interviews of my beloved Okies as they try to figure out what the hell just happened to them. A minute ago I watched a guy try to explain how he let his horses out of the pasture so they could get ahead of the storm before he found his own shelter. His mud-streaked face was emotionless – that stale, confused pallor of a victim. He was worried about the horses. He hadn’t even stopped to clean off his face.

When I saw it, my chest heaved and I wailed like I was at a funeral. Those are MY people, and MY people are hurt.

You think you had Hell Week in college? I can guarantee you Oklahoma’s Hell Week is a lot more terrifying – it’s usually in the first few weeks of May, when the weather heats up in the Heartland but winter is still coming to a close in Colorado and beyond. That cold air and our hot blast don’t mix, and what comes out of it is a Tasmanian devil of wind, a heat-seeking missile honing in on unsuspecting Okies doing what they do to survive.

Sunday, May 19 and Monday, May 20 are now in the record books, going along with May 3, 1999 (also in Moore) and May 22, 2011, in Joplin, which is practically Oklahoma.

And though I’ve been through thousands of tornado watches and warnings, and call my local TV meteorologists by their first names like they’re family, I never get used to the chaos and carnage that follow. I usually look forward to storm season because the beauty and majesty of a lightning-filled thunderstorm is unparalleled. You get used to tornado sirens, when to ignore them and when to take them seriously. You get used to your shows being interrupted by weather warnings a few months out of the year. You get used to your satellite dish being the best indicator of how close the storm really is.

That being said, I’ll never, ever get used to not being there when something bad like this happens. As I’ve said before, all Oklahomans are part or all Indian, and part meteorologist. (That doesn’t go away when you leave, either. People here are amazed at my ability to predict the weather.)

I’m just under 1,300 miles away from my home, and it might as well have hit my house in Bristol, Ct. I feel guilty for not being there. I actually considered asking for emergency vacation so I could go home just to be there. I don’t know why – I don’t know what I’d do. So I just donated money – I have some of that to spare, more than time, really – and I watched, prayed, hoped and answered emails from concerned ESPN-ers who asked about my friends and family. Thankfully, as far as I can tell, everyone I know is safe and sound. I heard from my sister near Okmulgee (Preston), cousins in the OKC area, friends, and from college and high school classmates – one had a nephew missing who thankfully was found this evening.

Can you imagine being a child and being away from your parents during something like that? Walking aimlessly afterward, wondering when or if they’d be found? Same goes for pets. I joked with my brother tonight that Leon, if he’d been in the storm, would probably have barked at the rescue workers unless they had hot dogs. That dog is crazy for hot dogs.

My brother feels guilty too. He’s more recently removed from Oklahoma, and was just there a few weeks ago. We talked about how the storm season seemed delayed this year – the first week of May is notorious – and hoped that maybe this year wouldn’t be too bad.

But again we’re reminded of how small we are– how fragile the structures we confidently build on top of the earth, sure they’ll be there tomorrow, are. We dare Mother Nature with our power lines and vaulted ceilings, and thumb our noses at her when we build them right back after she’s done tearing them up. That’s Oklahoma. It’s what we signed up for.

The other day, I was talking to one of the producers who is in charge of Baseball Tonight on ESPN, commenting on how the Cardinals’ Pete Kozma is a Tulsan. He said, “You’re just all about Oklahoma, aren’t you?” And I said, “We’re all like this. We’re just really proud of our state.” And it’s true. We stick up for each other, and even if we leave the nest, we tell everyone how great the nest was. I’ll never stop calling Oklahoma home, and everyone I meet out her finds out pretty quick where I’m from. I may not live there again for a while, but you can bet your bottom dollar it’s where I’ll spend my last days – and it’s where they’ll plant my body. (Hopefully that won’t be for a long time!)

I love you, Oklahoma, as much now as when I left. We don’t always agree on politics, but neither do me and my dad and I think he’s the best man walking this earth.

We will heal, because we have to. We will heal because we’ll all be pulling for the same team. With the rest of the country behind us, we’ll heal even faster. And remember, it’ll be football season soon – something to look forward to. We all know how that both heals and simultaneously rips us apart with a kindred form of Bedlam (but in a good way…)

Remember the Thunder motto: Rise Together. Like there was ever a doubt.

Love you, Sooner State, Home of the Red People – or more simply, HOME.

And before I get back to CNN, here’s some words of wisdom from our patron saint, Woody Guthrie:

Oklahoma Hills

Many a month has come and gone
Since I wandered from my home
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.
Many a page of life has turned,
Many a lesson I have learned;
Well, I feel like in those hills I still belong.

‘Way down yonder in the Indian Nation
Ridin’ my pony on the reservation,
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.
Now, ‘way down yonder in the Indian Nation,
A cowboy’s life is my occupation,
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.

But as I sit here today,
Many miles I am away
From a place I rode my pony through the draw,
While the oak and blackjack trees
Kiss the playful prairie breeze,
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.

Now as I turn life a page
To the land of the great Osage
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born,
While the black oil it rolls and flows
And the snow-white cotton grows
In those Oklahoma hills where I was born.

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Filed under Oklahoma, weather

Cheap humor: Typos

Note: Most typos in this blog are intentional. MOST. 

Since words are my business, and business is food, then I present food for thought: Typos are the best. Instead of rapping your own knuckles with a ruler every time you make one, laugh at it, especially if it’s one that can be made into a dirty joke or longstanding bit of humor.

Case in point, the pointy case that inspired this blog: This very evening, I was texting with my Best Good Friend Renae, and I told her she needed to watch “The Walking Dead” on AMC. I’m sure all you zombie fans out there agree with that – but what made it hilarious was that I accidentally typed “The Walking Deaf.” Not to pick on the deaf, but the good deaf people I know are a skosh less scary than zombies. “They’re doing sign language! AAAAGGHHH!!” was my next text. It got Renae laughing, and lessened some of my unnatural fear of zombies. See? Cheap humor with long-lasting benefits. 

A google search of  "The Walking Deaf" brought up this very cute image. I hope that dog is not a zombie.

A google search of "The Walking Deaf" brought up this very cute image. I hope that dog is not a zombie.

Now every time “Walking Dead” comes on I’m going to imagine hearing aid-equipped folks walking around not doing much of anything. Just walking.

I worked for a long time on a sports copy desk for the Tulsa World. It was some of the best, and most educational, times of my career. And during that time, we had a lot of stressful shit go down. But through it all, the typos kept us laughing. My old deskmates and I still converse in a language that not many will understand, the language of overstressed copy editors laughing hysterically at each other’s mistakes. I’ll do my damndest to explain it.

I present, K-Tel’s Tulsa World Sports Desk Greatest Hits of Typos!

  • Sprots. This was the most common of our typos. It’s an easy mistake to make when you look at the proximity of the letters, and with the commonality of which we used the word. But it became so funny that every time one of us effed that word up, we had to tell everyone. The sports desk was made up of a circle of desk around the slot desk. The slot is the person in charge of getting the section out every night. Anyway, if there was a sprots incident, it usually got yelled loudly in our department. Which I’m sure agitated the news desk to no end. (Note, now they’re all one big universal desk. I’m sure the sprots folks have had to tone down their rambunctiousness, which is sad to me.)
  • Cowbots. Since both the Dallas Cowboys and Oklahoma State Cowboys are near Tulsa, we used the mascot Cowboys a lot in headlines and other display type (that’s everything besides the story itself.) Cowbots is a mistake I still make at ESPN, since we do a lot of reporting on that team in Dallas that I’m writing off. But that’s another story. Cowbots became such a popular typo that my dear friend Stacey named her fantasy football team The Cowbots. Pretty sure she wins the name challenge hands-down.
  • Toronot: We made-believe that Toronot was the Anti-Canada. This was a common typo during baseball season.
  • Jerf Gerden: I’m pretty sure this was only my mistake, but went down in history. For some reason, every time I typed Jeff Gordon’s name I fucked it up. It came out “Jerf Gerden” once. We had a guy on the desk named Jeff Huston who bore the brunt of this typo, since he was henceforth known as Jerf.
  • Stroms. No, not Thurmond. But since weather often affected sporting events, and Oklahoma has its own weather pattern that only meteoroligcal masterminds like Travis Meyer and Gary England can predict. Thus the need for sprots (ha!) people to write about stroms/storms. We had one whole high school baseball season that had to be played well into June to finish because of stroms.

There’s another incident that I can’t really explain — and it wasn’t so much a typo as a complete shut off of all my brain functioning while trying to get University of Oklahoma pages done in about a 10-minute window. I was trying to write a cutline (caption for you non-newspaper folks) about Bob Stoops having something stuck in his craw… and I basically wrote that Bob Stoops was stuck in his own craw. What the hell is a craw, you ask? I don’t know. Something to do with a chicken gizzard.

And on the subject of Bob Stoops, we all agreed that “Boob Stops” was a typo we were sure to make at any moment. Some nights, we  could only make fixes to pages if it something crucial, we called those “Boob Stops” nights.

I know there are a lot more. And I know I’ll make a lot more in the future. There’s one I’ve made at ESPN that fortunately I caught – we send out this thing called the Hot List every few hours. In the subject line of the email, I type, in all caps, making it even more privy to typos, “HOT LIST.” I cannot tell you how many times I’ve accidentally typed HOT KIST. That just makes me sound trampy. And that is NOT the image I want to convey as a proper, prim news editor for the Worldwide Leader of Sprots.

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Filed under Brain Disorders, ESPN, General Nonsense, Newspapers, Tulsa, TV, Uncategorized, weather

The Zombie Apocalypse ain’t got nothin’ on this nor’easter aftermath

I came home last night to a warm, illuminated house. Not a rarity, normally, unless you have become a resident of the state of Connecticut in the last three months.

I didn’t have power for the better part of four days — and I’m one of the lucky ones who got it back before the week is out. I have guilt about this. They’re forecasting a restore time of Sunday at 11:59 p.m. for the majority of the Farmington Valley (where I live),  capital Hartford and its glamorous offshoot, West Hartford.  Heaven help Connecticut Light and Power if they go even a second beyond that. Tempers around here are hair-trigger, and I don’t blame people.

Even as I’m typing this, I don’t know how my little hippie ‘burg got so lucky to get power back. I’m working a semi-late night shift at ESPN, one that sees me getting home around 11:30 p.m. For the last few days, it’s been a ridiculous drive home, as there are no stop lights working and I don’t have the best memory of where they should be. Since the Valley is composed entirely of tree-lined two-lane state routes and not highways, there are no other alternatives to getting home. And people drive fast — myself included — so I’ve found myself doing the ol’ “Okie Roll” through the absent stop lights, when I see them. Often I don’t see the stop spots until after it’s too late… Sorry, Connecticut!

There’s nothing spookier than driving home in pitch blackness, except my drive home from ESPN during the nor’easter itself on Saturday — but that’s another story.  Suffice it say my knuckles have never been whiter, and Garrison Keilor’s voice more welcome. That calming man got me home. Back to last night — I was so surprised when I pulled up into my little town of Collinsville to see it not only lighted, but kinda bustling. We don’t have a convenience store (C’MON QuikTrip! I NEED YOU!) in our area, but we’ve got a semi-nightlife, oddly enough. I’m not complaining about the power being on, it’s just odd that we got it back before other, more populated, parts of the state.

I think it has something to do with the trees. We’re on a sort of mountain, and the trees fall forward, it seems, and don’t do a ton of damage. My drives home from ESPN have been not only darkened, but full of peril. Felled trees crowd the shoulders, and my poor baby Corolla has accidentally scraped many a branch I didn’t see. Giant trees dangle perilously on power lines overhead, nearly touching the top of my car. Broken trees lean in, hugging the restraining fences but nearly winning the inertia war. I’m convinced one is going to just snap off and fall when I’m underneath. My driveway at home is partially blocked by a huge limb too — but I just park where I can at this point. One of my neighbors blocked entrance to the semi-circle drive by parking her car in the middle and retreating to safer parts when the nor’easter hit. Not that I blame her — but it’s a parking free-for-all outside my ancient home.

No restaurants are open in the Valley, as far as I can tell. If they are, they’re accepting cash only, which I don’t have — and ATMs are electric, it seems. I’m eating at home or at ESPN every day. Accidentally dieting, as it were — I’m a fan.

I awoke yesterday to a digital clock flashing in my face and I didn’t understand why. I was under two heavy blankets, my spare bedroom’s comforter and my down comforter, a cave of warmth, with a sleepy orange kitty cuddled with me. (The dog has personal space issues and sleeps on his own bed; Percy Cat doesn’t care much for anyone and sleeps in the other room. Penny, however, thinks I’m the best thing that ever happened to her.) I leaped out of bed when the ray of understanding hit me that yes, dear, that is electricity — and I made the happiest pot of coffee. With ground beans. I brought in all the stuff from my refrigerator/front porch and marveled at what stayed viable. The days are getting up in the 50s, but it’s so cold at night, the milk stayed fine in the shade, as did everything else. Connecticut’s trash will be extra-smelly the next few weeks with ice cream and meat remnants, but if you put your stuff out in Nature, you at least got  something edible out of it. If the ‘coons didn’t get it — that’s why I hung mine. I am SO country sometimes.

So I got up yesterday, drank coffee, reveled, washed some clothes, and then the power went out again. I ran to the bathroom to take the world’s fastest shower, and resigned myself to the fact that we wouldn’t get it back again — but it came back in 15 minutes, and it’s stayed on. I had chicken soup, watched ESPN, and curled my hair with hot-rollers. I put on an actually carefully planned outfit, not the first warm thing I could lay hands on. Let me tell you, changing clothes in a 48-degree house is ridiculous — strapping on a bra is akin to strapping frozen bags of corn onto your midsection. And I never remembered to keep my clothes in bed with me, like some suggested — besides, with the cat, they’d be coated with even more fuzz than normal.

Just to recap my first three months in Connecticut: Earthquake, hurricane, October nor’easter. I expect state officials to ride me out of town on the proverbial rail as soon as they pinpoint that I’m somehow behind this. I guess my Oklahoma weather juju just came with me — and for that, Nutmeg State, I apologize. With intensity.

In the aftermath today, and yesterday, music is  sweeter than ever, which is saying a lot, since my music collection is like fine dining to me. I heard the Osborne’s “Rocky Top” and felt complete again. As I’ve typed this, the silly Bangles song “In Your Room” has been on — I bought it a long time ago when I was in love or something — and I didn’t even try to change it. I’ve only changed it when it’s played the slow sad stuff. Can’t have that right now. It’s a time of relative joy.

What saved me from my four days in darkness was reading and my iPhones, which I ran dry every night, if we had cell service. Lost that for a day too. I finished Patti Smith’s “Just Kids,” which is EXCELLENT, and got about halfway through Jerry West‘s “West By West.” I went to  West Q&A session the other day at ESPN. He’s a wonderful, charming man who makes me hate the Lakers a little bit less — but not much. His book is funny, conversational, intriguing, enlightening — and candid. I appreciate his honesty. I read both under battery-powered light. I tried to remain thankful for the multitude of blankets I had, and the job I have that has showers, warm food and Starbucks — ESPN got me through the hardest part.

Haha, “Dancing in the Dark” just came on my iTunes, no foolin’. I didn’t do any of that — too cold — but I did channel some of Bruce Springsteen’s grit since Saturday night — and I hope everyone else can too. It’s tough. But it’ll be over soon. And he’s right — you can’t start a fire without a spark. I should’ve also mentioned that the entirety of Connecticut smells like a campfire.

If this doesn’t end soon, there will be an apocalypse that zombies will fear — seriously, cold, bored people can only take so much.

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Filed under Connecticut, ESPN, Pets, Sports, weather

The Reason God Made… Connecticut?

… because Red Sox fans have to live somewhere? To be the rest of the nation’s tree farm? ESPN?

All of these things are in the “truth” category. Another truth? No one understands a goddamn thing I say here. From the Asians upstairs (more on that later) to checkers at the Shop-Right. And I don’t understand them either. Ray of light on this, though — they seem to understand me well enough at ESPN, because that place is a true melting pot. We’ve got Dallas, from Phoenix, Cleveland – he’s from Detroit; and Tex… well, I don’t remember where Tex come from.  Those of you who know me know that I like to pepper most conversations with quotes from Forrest Gump, so that last bit shouldn’t surprise you.

Back to my accent. I have one. I had no idea. But these Ct. folks have several different accents, all rolled into one state. There’s Boston, New York, Philly — all different, but congealed into this nice little New England melange.

And here comes this Okie, with a bit of Texas and English-degree’d clarity mixed in, adding to said melange. I went to the grocery store yesterday and was asked if I had a Shop-Right card at the checkout. What followed was a series of confused staccato sentences between me and the heavily-Boston’d-up clerk who was about 17. “Ya got a Shahp-Raight-Cahd?” he asked. “What’s that?” I replied. Somehow, I ended up with a Shop-Right card, thank God. Lord knows we can’t have me walking around Connecticut without the power of savings at my fingertips. Any little bit helps. This place is expensive.

I live in a relatively low-rent apartment, though, in a wonderful city, Collinsville, near Canton. It’s cute — and those who know me would say it’s very Sarah. Old, weird… it’s kind of a basement apartment in that part of it is underground. The other part is exposed and facing what appears to be Sherwood Forest. The whole lot of Connecticut is gorgeously tapestried in lush greenery. I understand why people flock here for the leaves. Good God, there are trillions of trees here. It’s beautiful.

It’s a really old house split into separate living quarters. An Asian family that apparently practices tap-dancing in the morning lives above me and in the other apartment too. They’re all family. I’m quite sure they can hear everything I say/do. It doesn’t help that I work nights again and am up watching foul-mouthed TV at 3 a.m. I’ve had to relearn how to be quiet. You live by yourself long enough in a your own home and you apparently become incredibly loud. I’ve been slamming doors, singing loudly and shouting at random things at all hours for seven years now.

But I can’t complain — I love my job. It’s a bizarre change, to TV from newspapers. I’m getting a crash course in TV production and how ESPN operates. For the rest of this month, and some of September, I’ll be learning. And boy, I hope I’ve learned. It’s a vastly different world. Fortunately, the desk I work on is composed of mostly newspaper people, so that helps. They can correlate one task to another — “this is like when…” type of situations.

I still feel like an idiot daily. And lost. I wish I could use my beloved GPS on the ESPN campus, which is 120 acres and growing. It’s mammoth. And kinda small at the same time. It feels like I’m in college except I live off-campus.

It’s taken some time to getting used to seeing the anchors, athletes and reporters, and the last week I’ve worked with them a lot. They’re just ordinary folks. Scott Van Pelt‘s grandparents were Okies, he told me — they lived in Miami. He even pronounced it correctly (for you non-Okies, it’s Mia-MUH. The correct way, we think.) When I marveled at this, he said, “If I’d have said it wrong, you wouldn’t have believed they were from there.” True dat, SVP.  It’s surreal, but I’m getting used to it.

I’ve certainly gotten used to the weather.

The highest temperature it’s reached here since I’ve moved was about 86. Usually it’s under 80. It’s humid, sticky — but relatively perfect for August. It’s been raining since Saturday night, so going on 24 hours, but not Oklahoma-style rain. It’s just a pleasant, slow-drip, soaking rain. Perhaps that’s why there are so many trees? I love rainy days, especially rainy days when I’m off work, so today I loaded up in the car and went to the town of Enfield to do some shopping. I listened to Van Morrison‘s “Astral Weeks” on the way — perfection. On the way home, I listened to U2’s “October.” Blissful.

So yeah, I think I’m gonna like it here. I’ve always been of the mind that home is where you make it (so you wanna see homos naked, who cares? — name THAT movie!) but Connecticut seems pretty welcoming and luscious, kinder than I thought and close enough to everything that I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything.

I haven’t listened to any Oklahoma-based music still — don’t want to forcibly make myself homesick. I know that day is coming.

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Filed under ESPN, General Nonsense, Newspapers, Travel, Tulsa, weather

The Brown, Brown Grass of Home

I’m leaving for Connecticut in a few hours for a three-day trip to find new digs. I’m hopeful my horrible-but-improving credit doesn’t mean I’ll be living in a trailer in the “Please-Kill” zone.

I’m leaving Oklahoma much as it will be when I return. Fucking blistering burning sizzling Rapture hot. My air conditioning and I have a pep talk every morning, and I turn it down for 20 minutes or so to let it rest a minute. Then it’s back to full-time use.

It’s been over 100 degrees in Oklahoma for 20 days straight or so. This is unusual, even for us. It reminds me of when I started the Garish Chicken — we were buried under roughly 257 inches of snow. I said then I was ready for summer. I didn’t mean THIS kind of summer.

I’m starting to think Oklahoma has an identify crisis. Desert, Vietnam-style monsoon. Desert. Flood. Tornado. Hurricane. Tornado. Blizzard. Blargh.

This heat is ree-damn-diculous. I find myself asking God — Why? Why this? Why the brown grass that’s typical of November? I don’t bother watering because hey, it means less mowing. And I know Josh, my lawn ninja (I never see him come or go) would be glad for that.

Seriously, it hasn’t rained in three weeks or more. And that was just dribble. It’s a wee bit hotter than normal in Connecticut too — like 90 or so — but today it’s 81 and rainy. I’m flying into rain, which titillates me. (tee-hee I love that word).

But I’m hoping my beloved Sooner State doesn’t just become a dried leaf of a thing hanging on the withered vine that is the torched Midwest to Mid-South. I’d like to have something to come home to. I’d like people to stay here instead of running mass-exodus style, so there will be a few good apartments in the moist Northeast for me.

Seriously, this feels like end-times heat. We have had nothing but ridiculous weather since last year. I bitched last spring (2010) about the lack of interesting weather. I take it all back now — and hope that the Weather Controllers and Comptrollers know that I was JUST TALKING SMACK. I’m sorry. Please forgive me.

I even did what Gov. Fallin said to do — I prayed for rain. Of course there is a prayer in the Episcopalian Book of Common Prayer for just such an occasion:

O God, heavenly Father, who by thy Son Jesus Christ
hast promised to all those who seek thy kingdom and its
righteousness all things necessary to sustain their life: Send
us, we entreat thee, in this time of need, such moderate rain
and showers, that we may receive the fruits of the earth, to
our comfort and to thy honor; through Jesus Christ our
Lord. Amen.

I love the Book of Common Prayer. It truly covers all the bases. And yes, I realize I used the F-Word in the same blog as a prayer. I personally don’t believe God punishes us for using moderate cuss words. It’s refreshing.

OK, on that note, before this becomes a religion blog, I’ll say adieu. Please hose down the state while I’m gone.

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Artificial Nails and a trip to the Mothership

So I haven’t blogged since the Rapture threat. Bet ya’ll thought for a second that I’d been raptured on up, didn’t you? Then you took a moment to look back at my scandalous blogs and realized I use a lot of dirty words, which according to most studies of Rapture, would automatically disqualify me for a spot in heaven.

I’d rather be down here with all you sinners anyway.

The day after the Big Fake Rapture, Sunday, we had a horrific tornado not too far from my home in Tulsa, in Joplin. People outside of Oklahoma may be shocked to learn that Joplin is close to Tulsa — about an hour or so, actually.

No joking — that tornado was awful, and I have a few good friends who survived, but will never be the same. Prayers for the whole city.

Later that night, Tulsa was visited by the loudest, most obnoxious hail storm I’ve ever heard in all my days. Egg-sized hail flung itself at my roof, freaking the absolute fucknuts out of my cats. Percy perched on my chest, then bolted, digging his Ginsu Talons into my soft chest skin. Penny went into complete hiding. Leon wanted to go outside because he’s a dog and kind of a dumb bunny.

But the best part of this story is that I had to be up Monday morning at 3:30 a.m. I tried to go to bed at 9, heavily dosed on Tylenol PM. I fell asleep for about 30 minutes, woke up. Fell asleep, was awakened by what sounded like falling sledgehammers hitting my roof during the hailstorm. Woke up again at 1 a.m. with nausea. Was awake when my alarm sounded at 3:30.

This is the sign for ESPN. No, I didn't take it. I took no pictures, lest I look like a complete tourist. And no one likes a tourist.

Why, oh why, did I have to get up at this ungodly hour? I was making a trip to Bristol, Conn., to board the Mothership, and they made the travel plans nice and early.

For my reader(s) who aren’t sports fans, ESPN’s headquarters are in Bristol. It’s called the Mothership because it’s the be-all, end-all sports Mecca, the keeper of the cheese, the owner of all the playbooks. I had a job interview with ESPN for an associate editor position. Considering I only got about 30 minutes of sleep the night before the interview, it went remarkably well. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself into believing that.

Because I have artificial nails now — an attempt to wow the good folks at ESPNs, so they wouldn’t see my gnarly nubby  nails that have taken years of abuse — I am a horrible typist. So I’ll construct the Day of the Interview in timeline format so I don’t drive myself crazy. I’m a really good typist normally, but these nails make me hit extra keys. It’s tres annoying.

Ladies and Gentlemen, The Time… line.

It went a lil’ sumthin’ like this… hit it!

* Wake up at 3:30 a.m., surprisingly at peace and awake. Realize it’s self-imposed bullshit, but nevertheless carry on. Shower,  get ready, eat raisin bran. I’m packed. Head to Tulsa International Airport, park the car, get stuck in security behind a chirpy church group headed to Disneyland, roll my eyes 1,000 times, board the plane.

* Travel to Detroit on the only comfortable flight I’m going to get out of this whole trip. Got a solo seat, stretched out, actually napped a bit. A little worried about why they took my bag that I didn’t want to check, afraid they’ll charge me for it and I don’t have that kind of spare money. Ask the gorgeous statuesque flight attendant with the smoothest, darkest skin I’ve ever seen. She tells me in an Atlanta accent that it’s just valet because it’s a small plane. Chill, yo. Everything is fine.

Detroit's airport

Swear to God, this is Detroit's airport. Very trippy. Kind of soothing. Altogether awesome.

* Land in Detroit, realize I don’t have time between flights, run through Detroit’s trippy-awesome airport at breakneck speed, aided by people-movers, which make even fatties like me feel like a Kenyan. Board plane that brings me back to reality… tiny Delta plane, middle seat, feeling like I weigh just over 600 pounds. Can’t relax. Sweat pours out of me, starting to feel nerves of impending interview.

* Land in Hartford, Conn., wander around aimlessly looking for the rental car place, have to ask someone, an older woman with a thick New England accent. I ask her to repeat herself twice. Sound like an Okie. Run to the shuttle. Still don’t know where they’re taking me (I’ve never rented a car) but arrive at the National lot. Go inside, get reserved car, and the guy checking me out is so impressed that ESPN is paying for it and that I’m a girl who knows sports that he gives me the nicest, newest car on the lot, a 2011 VW CC. Gorgeous… and terrifying. I get in, am about to drive off, when he comes back to my window to tell me his boss thinks he gave me too big of an upgrade. So I have to go back in, reprocess all the paperwork, get a Ford Fusion that is also nice (only 12 miles on it), load my GPS for Bristol, which is about 30 minutes away, and finally leave the car rental place. The clock in the car is set wrong, sending me into a complete cold sweat. I want to call ESPN to tell them I’m running late, but the oh-so-friendly shuttle driver has already overtly warned me of Johnny Law crackin’ down on cell-phone users in their cars. So I’m one of THOSE states, am I? In Oklahoma, driving/phone talking is regulated by the NCAA.

* Only get briefly lost on the way to Bristol. Finally figure out the clock is wrong, but still am cutting it close for my 2 p.m. interview. Especially since I have done nothing but sweat and worry since Detroit, and I’d really like NOT to look like a methed-out trucker during the interview. Check into the Clarion Hotel across from The Mothership, which if you haven’t been there, is discretely tucked into what appears to be a forest where Bambi went to get away from it all.

* Check into hotel. Do an actual shot of coffee. Wash pits/thorax and put on pretty dress. Call HR to tell them of possible lateness. No answer, leave hasty, worried message. Slap on makeup… yes, literally slap it on. It was almost painful. Race to ESPN, enter Big Time Security, get checked in at 2:08, eight minutes late, but not bad considering I just few in from Tulsa (and boy, were my arms… Oh, sorry.) Get a second to breathe, then am escorted to another building in the official ESPNmobile (not to be confused with their iPhone app! HOHOHA). Meet up with head of department.

* Interview with some extremely smart people. Fantasize about living in Bristol. Michael Wilbon said hi. People rushing around all over Making It Happen. SportsCenter anchors just hanging out in the newsroom, like actual folk, because — get this — they are actual folk. 

* Realize around 3 p.m. that the bowl of raisin bran I had 12 hours before isn’t filling me up anymore. Start to sweat coldly. Shaking commences, like sudden diabetes. My interviewer asks me if I’ve had anything to eat. She’ll make a good mom someday — picking up on clues like that. Of course I was gnawing on the news desk. She whisks me to the Caf, a beautiful place where all my dreams could come true. Cooks standing around waiting to make you things. Remember that scene in “Annie”  when she’s singing “I Think I’m Gonna Like it Here”? That was me in the ESPN cafeteria. The girl interviewing me didn’t seem too deterred by the singing and dancing. Later I would have dinner there, and all would be OK again. Broke out in song again.

* Interview more, learn a few of the ropes, realize how normal this place is. It’s just a huge freakin’ opportunity. Nerves dissolve somewhat, enough for me to attempt to be myself a bit more.

* Dinner. With the woman interviewing me. Turned out to be a good time, good food, excellent day. I’ve had approximately 2 hours of sleep and 300 calories, but am somehow pulling it all together. Try not to inhale dinner, eat slowly though I want to eat what I got and go back for seconds. I had the pasta puttanesca from the pasta bar, sauteed fresh with olives, garlic and mushrooms. And a garlic roll. Are you kidding me? This is available every day? Have great conversation with the interviewer, head back to the Clarion.

* Watch enough of the Thunder game to get a false sense of security. Slip into coma-like sleep for four hours, get up at 4:30 ET, 3:30 CT, realize the Thunder blew a 10-point lead, and head to the Hartford airport. Drop off car I now loathe because it doesn’t have the Corolla’s raw power and well-worn seats, go directly to Dunkin’ Donuts and get an egg white sandwich and large coffee. Smile all the way to my shoes.

* Go to Atlanta. Eat again, a Wendy’s airport cheeseburger at 10 a.m. ET. Get on the world’s tiniest plane and sit uncomfortably close to a guy who doesn’t even courtesy smile. Feel uncomfortable for three hours. Land, get the hell out of all airports, walk aimlessly around the airport trying to find my car, pay way too much for parking, go the fuck home.

* Have to call the plumber as soon as I get home. The house flooded before I went on my tour of the Eastern Seaboard. This plumbing visit resulted in a few more, lots more dollars spent, but finally, the ability to shower without flooding the kitchen.

* The day I returned was supposed to be the biggest night for tornadoes of the season. It was awful west of Tulsa, but we just got wind and storms. Still gunshy from Joplin, the entire population of Oklahoma was crammed into shelters and closets and God knows what for most of the evening. But I was finally full, just had an interview with the biggest sports organization in the world, and I was finally — FINALLY — full. The making-up-sleep part took several days to get over.

So that’s my trip. Not sure what’s going to happen with the job, but I totally was thankful for the opportunity to interview. We’ll see what happens. I’m happy here, I’d be happy there. I am doubly blessed to not be desperate for work, something I try to remain mindful of every day. But it sure was cool seeing the Mothership. Did I mention they have air hockey? In the HALLWAY?

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Filed under Sports, Travel, Tulsa, TV, weather