Category Archives: Sports

Vacation, how my family is the best, and my ESPN anniversary

You know those things in life that you don’t plan for, the ones you have no expectations for, that end up being some of the best times in your life?

I’ve had a few of them in the past year. I had a week of them last week. I sit here two days out of vacation still laughing at jokes and incidents from the vacay, the now-inside jokes my cousins and I shared and just the bizarre nature of my family.

I sit here looking back at my first year in Connecticut, still wondering how I got here, but pleased as hell that I’m here.

This is the kind of blog that’s going to take subheads. I’ve missed breaking those bad boys out – editors are so nerdy – so here I go.

Yes, I took this picture of myself. Yes, I’m wearing a hat. My Wicked Stepmother (haha) made me. The Waterfront is in the background — I’m standing on our awesome Big Dock outside the cottage.

On Keuka Lake

I spent six days in upstate New York with my family, on Keuka Lake, in the gorgeous Finger Lakes region. My family has been going there forEVER and I’d only been once, when I was like 10 or 11. Living in Oklahoma and being a workaholic didn’t afford many opportunities for visiting upstate New York. Now, I look forward to going every year, or at least way more often.

Keuka, between Penn Yan Village and Hammondsport, N.Y., is where the water flows as well as the wine. Vineyards dot the landscape, which is replete with rolling hills and bluffs, vistas and meadows. Roadside fruit and veggies stands pop out of nowhere this time of year, hawking the sweetest corn you’ll ever taste. Mennonite wagons are plentiful, and signs warn you of upcoming buggies containing bonneted lasses and their bearded brethren.

The topography isn’t too different from Connecticut, and it certainly wasn’t any cooler outside, but being in the waters my grandfather used to fish was – well, it was inspirational and uplifting.

Not that I spent a lot of time pondering that while I was there. I hashed those thoughts over on the drive up and back. Most of the time in the cottage was spent laughing, boating, sunning, drinking and talking. I don’t drink that much anymore, but on this trip I would’ve made Charles Bukowski blush and Jim Morrison cheer. Our cottage was next door to a bar and a short distance from another bar. Not to mention my aunts, uncles and parents kept buying more beer. It was kind of perfect.

It started like this – my dad and my cousin John flew into Hartford, then I gave them a tour of ESPN. They got to meet Herm Edwards, among others, and John is a huge sports fan, so it was A DELIGHT (James Lipton voice) to see him and my dad’s eyes as we walked through my place of employment.

We left the next day for Keuka. We arrived later than planned, which is the way I like to road trip. My Uncle Jack (The Patriarch) rented a boat, and thus began a weekend of controlled debauchery, moonlight boat rides, ridiculous giggling, a little foosball and relaxation.

I spent a lot of time with John and his brother Ryan, who got there a few days later, but also got to spend scads of time with my dad, who is having surgery next week and with whom I was excited to spend time. (Note: My fam and I also had an extensive conversation about ending sentences with prepositions, so I’m trying to avoid that. Yes, we’re definitely related.) But that’s the way it typically works out – I always hang with my sisters and cousins most. I have a great bond with all of ‘em. I might’ve forced both John and Ryan to promise we’d do this when our parents are old. I might’ve been a bit drunk. But I meant it.

The bar next to the cottage, The Waterfront, was where Sunday night started and ended. They have this thing called Clammin’ and Jammin’, and a band played the early part of the night – one dude got so into it, he undressed, much to the chagrin of every woman in the place. Probably the men, too.

After the band went home, John and I sat outside the tiki part of the bar until we were invited by the locals to sit up front with them. John proceeded to tell everyone I work at ESPN, and then the night took a ridiculous (and somewhat embarrassing for me) turn. I answered all the questions, they bought shots, and then it all got kinda hazy. I took pictures of a fish John caught – I don’t remember taking the pictures, and it’s more of John’s drunken face and less of the alleged fish. He swears it flopped back in the water.

Somewhere in the middle of all that – before extreme drunkenness, of course — we went on a midnight boat ride with my uncles. Gorgeous.

We also visited the Switzerland Inn, or the Switz as it’s called, a place of legend among my family and where Ryan nearly got into a fight with the biggest, dumbest dude I’ve ever seen. Ryan was just being a smartass, as usual, but apparently you don’t poke the local bear. I do not doubt Ryan’s toughness, but he’s far too pretty to get his face bashed in. I thought I was going to have to do some fast-talking.

I also met or was reintroduced to the Troll side of my family (yes, that’s a family name – you shan’t make fun). They live all over Alaska, in New York, in Texas, in Seattle – all over the place. I’d met a few of them, but certainly not all. Of course, we had a great time. They are a fabulous bunch of folks. They stayed across the lake, and we boated over a few nights for excellent dinners, beer and wine tastings and conversation. The first night was a tribute to one of the Troll sisters who died in December. It was touching and sweet, and even though I’d never met Mimi, I felt her presence and, me being me, I cried.

What surprised me about the whole trip was that I hadn’t really thought about it before I went. Work had been crazy, I’d had a lot going on there, and I didn’t let it build up in my head. I think that’s what made it so great – it was an unexpected six-day pleasure trip. And honestly, my family is just so fun and so goddamned goofy. We’re excellent conversationalists too. It was one of my better vacations.

My year anniversary at ESPN

Just a random picture of Ryan Braun. Le Sigh.

The day before I left Keuka, Aug. 1, was my one-year anniversary at the Worldwide Leader. I’m still in love with my job. Most days I leave with a smile on my face. I hope they like me too – I want to stay there as long as they’ll have me. I feel like I’ve found what I was looking for on the workfront (still waiting for Ryan Braun or one of his brethren to realize they need a short, pleasantly plump Shiksa woman to make their lives complete, but that’s another blog).

I think ESPN might be my lifeline. I had to do it. People say I’m brave for packing it up and moving away, but I think it was a foregone conclusion. I had to do it, and I’m not looking back, especially when it’s 111 in Oklahoma today!

Over the past year, I’ve been afforded so many opportunities to be amazed, pleased and to excel. It’s been a busy, crazy, intoxicating year (not in the aforementioned beer-y way, though). I like to say that on Oct. 9, 2011, Tim Tebow was named starting QB of the Denver Broncos, and Joe Paterno was fired from Penn State on Nov. 9, 2011, and it’s been nine kinds of crazy ever since. And that brings me to…

The bureau meeting
Without getting into a lot of organizational chart-job title-ESPN insider info stuff, suffice it to say there are a lot of mega-talented folks at ESPN, many of whom roam the countryside with microphones in hand, stopping at sporting events to report what’s going on. If you’re a sports fan, you’ve seen these people on TV. They are bureau reporters, and once a year, they and their requisite bureau producers converge in Bristol for a few days of workshops, etc. I got to take part in these workshops this year, as I work hand-in-hand with these guys every day. I had talked to them all on the phone, but only met a couple face-to-face. It was an exciting day for me – to be surrounded by so many talented, hard-working people who have the same ambitions in life as me, the same work ethic and the same drive. It was another one of those “is this real life?” moments.

We all met for dinner one night, and I sat at a table filled with pedigree and talent. At the table was Vince Doria, senior vice president and director of news, who is a down-to-earth, unassuming and brilliant man. Also at my table were reporters Jeremy Schaap, T.J. Quinn and Mark Schwarz. If you’re not a sports fan and don’t know those names, trust me, they’re good. And hilarious. I laughed all night and felt included in the club. I am honored to be a part of ESPN, thrilled to be a part of all that talent, and overjoyed that I’ve been given so many blessings in life. I don’t know if I deserve them all, but I’ll always be grateful.

Losing weight
I’ve turned a corner in my thinking, and even though I have a condition that doesn’t make weight loss easy, I’m going to work hard. I just want to be healthy. I got the happy part down, but I want to be healthy enough to enjoy this happiness for a long time. I lost three pounds on vacation – I’m proud of that. I think I’ve finally realized that it’s not a diet I’m on, but the rest of my life being healthy. I spent the first 36 years (give or take a year or two) eating whatever I wanted and not exercising religiously. I’m so proud of my cousin John, who never really had a huge weight problem but inherited some of the Hart genes. He’s worked his ass off and he looks fantastic. He and my fabulous father continue to be inspirations.

So to recap, things are going pretty good for me right now. Except for the whole no-Jewish man thing. I’m still working on that one. Wish me luck, even though I feel guilty asking for anything else! 🙂

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Filed under Brain Disorders, Connecticut, ESPN, Family, Fun!, General Nonsense, Health, Love, New York, Sports, Travel

The Great Northeast’s Super Bowl, or How I Fell Back in Love with the NBA

It’s not like I fell out of love with the National Basketball Association, really, I just would’ve been really ticked had they not played this year. For all the good that was done last year with the Mavericks winning, Kevin Durant and Co. bringing fun back to the game and the Heat and Lakers losing (HA! Still funny) it would’ve all been undone had the fools in suits tossed aside the year. I understand it’s a business, but for selfish reasons, I’m really glad they came to an –albeit tenuous — compromise.

Kevin Durant

Oh, Kevin Durant... you're the reason God make the Oklahoma City Thunder. Besides that whole Longhorn thing. We forgive you.

And if it wasn’t for the NBA and its glorious offspring, NCAA men’s basketball, I’m not sure I could tolerate the end of the football season. You see, I live in Connecticut, a state divided among Red Sox and Yankees fans, Jets and Giants and Patriots fans and Rangers and Bruins fans. A state that probably likes the Celtics a lot more than the Knicks, but I understand that.

What I don’t understand is how the 49ers and Ravens let this happen. For the love of Pete — it’s a rematch game. Didn’t we get enough of those during the BCS title game? I certainly did. And though I’m not a huge fan of any NFL team, I would’ve liked to have seen the 49ers back in this — and as a somewhat Cowboys fan, it’s not easy to  say that. My Canadian brother-in-law, whom I adore, is a big-time 49ers fan, even if their stadium looks like a glorified summer league baseball diamond. He loves the 49ers for who they had — namely Jerry Rice. And he’s Canadian, so he really doesn’t understand anyway. He doesn’t like being in the dark, either (points if you get that reference.)

Side note: The first time I saw Jerry Rice lurking about the ESPN newsroom I swear I felt a little faint. I haven’t spoken to him yet, but he seems like a nice guy, one who should be my friend. I’m afraid if I start talking to him I’ll go all Chris Farley and start asking, “You remember that time you were in the  Super Bowl? That was awesome.”

And I assume the rest of the world isn’t too thrilled about seeing Tom Brady trot his funky bunch out there again to face Eli “Elite” Manning and his stable of giant-handed receivers.

It’s safe to say that the good folks at ESPN who are from around these parts are thrilled with the participants of the Super Bowl, except for the large contingent of Jets fans, who’ve thrown their support to the Giants. I’ve moved on, to bigger and better — and rounder — balls. (Teehee! You know what I mean.) I have found myself watching the NBA ad nauseum lately, even insignificant games. But at the Worldwide Leader, with access to every game every night, I watch whatever I want. Yesterday I watched the team I hate the most, the Los Angeles Lakers, get defeated by the Milwaukee (Algonquin for “The Good Land,” thank you Alice Cooper) Bucks. It was glorious. And needless to say, if Kevin Durant and the Thunder are playing, they’re on my TV. Same with the Clippers, unless their times conflict.

The NBA was my first pro-sports love, the sport that harvested my very soul during the late 80s and 90s. So it seems natural that once again, I’m able to name starters for  most teams, as well as sixth- and seventh-man alternatives for a lot of them.

But going back to the Super Bowl: As a semi-Cowboys fan, I shouldn’t say this. But I will. I am cheering for the Giants. Have been in every game except the NFC Championship, when my love for my bro-in-law Joel and my yet-to-know-it-yet BFF Jerry Rice flourished. I am not a good Cowboys fan. I realize this. I loved Clinton Portis, have cheered for the Steelers, and didn’t hate Donovan McNabb as much as I should have. I did, however, laugh when The Real Roy Williams broke Terrell Owens’ leg. But let’s not go off-topic.

I will watch the Super Bowl. I will probably enjoy the Super Bowl. But I think the Patriots are going to win, even if I really, really, really don’t want them to. My vehemence against a team doesn’t usually help it, case in point Every Lakers Championship Ever. The day the Spurs beat them for the 2003 Western Conference semifinals, I went outside to make sure the sky wasn’t falling. I’m not making this up.

But know this: not everyone in the ESPN newsroom is basking in the glory of an all-East Coast Super Bowl. There are a lot of Cowboys fans in the newsroom, though few of them come by geographically like me. There are also a lot of Eagles and Steelers fans. Even a few Bengals and Browns fans, and a fair share of Packer Backers. It’s a motley crew of fandom.

But if you don’t want to watch the Super Bowl, that’s cool, it’s on a competing network so I’m not going to try to force it on you. I will, however, politely suggest that you tune into the NBA this season. It’s fast-paced and fun, and strike-shortened, which gives it a gladiator quality: Only the strong will survive. So many more injuries than a typical year.

And there’s talk that Gilbert Arenas may be a Laker soon. Talk about taking a gun to a knife fight! Arenas AND Artest aka Metta World Peace. Wow.

Another blog for another time…

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Filed under Connecticut, ESPN, Fun!, Kevin Durant, Oklahoma, Sports, Tulsa, Uncategorized

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

Paying college athletes? Worst idea ever

I really love college football.

I think it’s the best sport in the best time of the year. Sure, I love fall weather too – and I’m sensing that in my new home in Connecticut, there will be more fall-like weather and less of that Oklahoma four-day fall stuff.

Thursday night was the debut of college football, though Saturday is the real First Day of the Season. It’s immaculate, really. Except this season, it seems so weathered, almost dirty. Scandals of people taking money, stealing, embezzling… it’s rotten.

Honestly, how can anyone think that paying players is a good idea? Paying players would only perpetuate these awful actions. “Oh, he’s got money… I’m going to find out how I can get some too, come hell or high water.”

I am so tired of hearing how college athletes earn money for universities – guess what? We all do in our own way. We all pay tuition. Most big-name college athletes don’t, but more importantly, all universities make money off of those who pay tuition. It’s called business. And the NCAA doesn’t monitor that… just those who try to make their amateur status a lot less honest.

I’m going to put my “pride in your school” mantra aside for this, though I believe that you should play because you love the game and the school you’ve chosen first, not the dividends. I admit that’s naïve. It’s what color the sky is in my world, and I refuse to give up the belief that some college athletes subscribe to that belief. But college is inherently a tryout for the NFL for a lot of players, so let’s just acknowledge that some people’s motives might not be as pure as others.

I had a really good time in college. Really, really good. I am paying for my tuition through the good folks at Sallie Mae. I will be until my 50s. It’s my fault for taking the long way through college – but I wouldn’t change course even if given a time-traveling DeLorean. Even though throughout college – and late high school, for that matter – I was broke. I’ve been broke for years, and am just now crawling out of the Monster Debt’s jaws. I worked at McDonald’s, a chicken fried steak house, a convenience store – all while carrying a full load of classes. One year I juggled freelancing with a full-time management job at a restaurant and an internship. I got pneumonia. I was exhausted. But my mother’s words, “Once you get that diploma, they can’t take it away” pinballed through my head.

I got the degree. And worked making very little money. For years and years and years. Sure, I wanted to make more money – but I knew I had to earn it. And once I earned it, I was so appreciative. I had done it… and learned a whole lot along the way. Now, I’m marketable because I worked every job they asked me to do, from McDonald’s, to the newspaper industry, to TV where I am now. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything.

Why do people feel so damned entitled to everything? The old adages are true: There is no free lunch, nobody rides for free, you can’t always get what you want… Star college athletes – guess what? You just haven’t earned it yet, baby… you have to struggle. You get two, maybe three years of “hard time” in college (which I WOULD relive if given a DeLorean) and then what? A career in the NFL… millions. The stars don’t have to pay tuition or room and board, so they don’t even have to work. How ‘bout studying? Get that degree, finish what you started, just in case your Cam Newton face and talent don’t get you as far as you thought.

It’s a travesty to the game of football, college athletics, a huge slap to everyday athletes and students, to imply that some players need to be paid for their college years. They haven’t earned it – and they won’t appreciate what’s been given to them.

College students are poor. And those who just put their heads down and work through it usually end up doing alright. Don’t scam, don’t cheat, don’t steal, don’t lie – just make it work. Know that there is something at the end of the hard work. Make hay while the sun shines and all that.

People really like quoting the Founding Fathers these days, usually to bash a member of their opposing political party. Here’s another use: Do you think our Founding Fathers would approve of paying college players for being good at sports? I love sports – more than almost anything – but really? We barely pay our military, and some might get free military education, but it’s certainly not the kind of treatment football players get on campus. Our Founding Fathers, Mothers and Livestock worked their asses off. And many died before the work was done and they saw results. Martin Luther King Jr. worked his ass off. And died many years before we had a black man as president, much less equality.

I’m not arguing what people make in the NFL – I realize it’s a hard job and the shelf life is short. Make your millions in the NFL. But you have to earn your ticket there. And no one’s going to earn anything if it’s just handed to them again and again.

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Filed under Sports

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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Why I didn’t watch the Royal Wedding

I didn’t watch  it, OK? That does not make me a love-hater, hater of love. My neglecting to watch the nuptials had nothing to do with any sort of anti-British mentality. I actually aspire to go to London first in my conquering (read: extensive tourism) of Europe. I plan to have a Joey-esque time the entire trip, shouting, “London, BABY!” as often and loudly as possible.

No, the reason I didn’t watch is was because it was broadcast too damn early and I work 12- to 14-hour days. I need sleep. Another reason? It was a wedding… a WEDDING. The wedding part would’ve been fine, I guess — one of my good friends says I should’ve watched because it cast my denomination, Episcopalian nee Anglican, in a good light. I can get behind that logic. But it had the feeling of an awards show, something else I seldom watch. I really just can’t stand all that fluff in a broadcast. I fast-forward the Oscars, or wait until the winners list is out. I just can’t do it.

Perhaps this has something to do with being an editor who’s had to cut plenty of stories to fit into tiny spaces. I can no longer tolerate deadwood. And the only opinions I care about are those of people I actually know. For instance, I will read a column by Tulsa World columnist Dave Sittler after an important game, among other local columnists. I will read post-game analysis by college football beat writers. I will read a Q&A with Carrie Underwood or Blake Shelton written by an Oklahoma writer. But to hear some ditsy entertainment reporter on any host of networks go on and on and on about hats, dresses, etc.? No thanks.

Have I gone hyper-local? Perhaps. About some things.

In the case of Osama bin Laden, I went international, even watching coverage from al-Jazeera.

But that was the death of the biggest fucking plague to walk the erf in the last few decades. Killed by US — that’s U.S., U-S, One Nation Under God. At that moment, I felt united.

Friends who watched the wedding told me they felt united with the world  during the ceremony — the millions of badly-dentistried Britains in the street, while 400 million or so had their  eyes turned mistily to the tube, watching as the lovely Kate was adored by her now-husband Prince William.

The beauty is not lost on me, but  watching 14 straight hours of coverage is. I recall watching Lady Diana and Prince Charles’ wedding. I was also 6, so my Princess Phase was in full swing. I grew out of that when my Barbies became sexually active, around the time I was 8 or 9.

And truth be told, I really loved Di. I thought she was immaculate. I think her sons are too, but maybe the wound of her death would’ve been too much for me. I cry a lot. I didn’t need my whole Friday wrecked because of the spectacle.

Friends in the newsroom told me that this was “their Super Bowl,” and if I didn’t watch, I wasn’t to make fun of those who did. And I’m not. Really. It just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t my Super Bowl, or college football national championship, or Final Four, or even Frozen Four.

Game 6 of just about any NBA playoff game? A random May Rockies game that magically appears on TV (it happens rarely; I never see Colorado on TV unless I’m at the World, where they have every channel known to man, or if the Rockies are in the playoffs and Big Sports is forced to air them) I’d watch any day of the week.

I’m still not getting up a 4 a.m. to watch, however. And my DVR space is important to me. Recording 137 straight hours of wedding coverage sounds like that time I accidentally recorded “Ghost Hunters” seven-hour Halloween special: Annoying and DVR-clogging.

I’m glad so many people witnessed the beauty and splendor of the wedding. But please, do not think of me as The Elephant Man because I didn’t. I am not an animal.

Perhaps I am a love hater, hater of love. Andre Benjamin? You might have to help me out with this one.

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Filed under Fun!, General Nonsense, Haters, Love, Newspapers, Relationships, Sports, Travel, Tulsa

Garish Confessions, embarrassing or otherwise: The Spanx Chronicles (and beyond)

These are my confessions, brought to you today by Usher.

I haven’t blogged in two weeks. That’s not a confession, just a fact I thought I’d bring up as to clear the elephants out of the room. Damn things are always getting caught under my couch.

So yes, on to the confessions.  Some are Girl Style confessions, and thus, the harder ones to admit. But in case any of you didn’t know this yet, I don’t really care about embarrassing myself. It’s freeing, really.

So here goes.

Spanx

Like youd wear them if you looked like this anyway.

1.   Spanx make me look fatter. I’m convinced. Last week, I bought this cute little shift dress at Ross’s dress sale. I loved the way it looked in the store dressing room, when I was Spanx-less. I thought, Spanx could only make it better! Monday morning, I got all dolled up, put on the ol’ Spanx and high heels and headed to work. During Job 1, I ran to the bathroom, and while toddling in on the high heels I’m going to finally remove from my closet, got a side view of myself. I’m not a thin girl. I know this. Right now, juggling two stressful jobs, I’m probably not losing any weight, either. But still, the side view of me was very unpleasant. I went to the stall, then came back out with my Spanx down around my legs. I liked the look much better. The Spanx basically pushed all my flawed areas (read: fat) to the front, instead of keeping them in their natural place. Alas, there is no miracle. I took my Spanx off, tucked them under my arm, walked past a tour group, and then put them in my purse. No more Spanx for me. I also took the high heels off and replaced them with the flip-flops I had in my purse. Unless important people walked by. I kept the heels at the ready all day in case I need to walk by a big boss’s office. Fashion sucks

I'm just waiting for this moment to happen. Is that Kate Moss in the picture?

Im just waiting for this moment to happen. Is that Kate Moss in the picture?

2.   I cut my own bangs. I’ve had really long hair since eighth grade, after the picture fiasco. I have naturally curly hair, and in my seventh grade school picture, a piece of my then-short hair decided to stand up and say hi to the photographer. My mother loved the picture and wouldn’t let me get retakes. (Love you and miss you mom, but REALLY?) So I had long hair forever afterward, and I have good hair, I don’t mind saying, so length was always important to me. Until last year. I had a Delilah moment and cut off all my own power. ALL my hair was gone. It was cute, but I regretted it as soon as I did it. In fact, everyone who said, “Your hair is so cute!” got this in return: “Thanks, I’m growing it out.” And I have been. Now, it’s at least below my ears. Nearly ponytail length. And I haven’t been to see Brooke the Magnificent (my hairdresser) since November. It’s nearly May. So my bangs have been trimmed a few times by me, sometimes well, sometimes shakily, as I normally trim them in the morning before being fully awake. Fortunately I have thick hair that can cover a variety of sins. But Lord help me if I accidentally take off a whole chunk. That’ll be seventh grade all over again.

3. I have some of the same clothes I had in junior high. I am not a hoarder, but clothes are different for me. If it still fits, has its original color, and might come back into fashion, I don’t see why I can’t save it. I have this black turtleneck my sister Natalie bought me for Christmas in 1987 that I still wear. I realize now that the shirt is older than most of our summer interns who’ll be coming to the paper this year. But it’s warm and still very dark black, so it passes the test. And it’s a turtleneck. You only wear those when you’re extremely cold anyway, right? And under something, right? Oklahoma was privy to its share of extreme cold this year, thus came out the turtleneck. And the flower-print Doc Martens from my hippie days. If I was Renae, one of main homegirls, I’d have thrown that shit out years ago. She throws away everything. It’s who she is, and I’ve come to accept it. Once she threw out my spare housekey I gave her in case I died and needed her to feed Leon. She threw it out because “she didn’t know whose it was.” Thanks. Now I know Leon will starve. But yes, I keep clothes longer than I should. And since I’ve basically been the same size/shape since 1987, it’s OK.

I still love him.

4. I still cheer for Tiger Woods. He’s this generation’s Bill Clinton, for whom I still cheer. Sorry, they’re both beyond great. I realize Tiger is a lousy husband. I realize Tiger is kind of weird and awkward. But he’s still Tiger Effing Woods, and he’s still amazing in nearly every way except his personal life. Remember when we didn’t care what athletes did in their spare time? Or actors, or anyone else? Remember when we focused on our own lives or maybe those in our community? I say we take that approach again. Joe Namath is an alcoholic, and he’s still a living legend. We forgive the older generations their faux pas because TMZ wasn’t following them around exacerbating them. So yes, I still love Tiger. Good luck this year, mate. Fuck ‘em if they can’t let your private life be private.

This idiot, Rick Sanchez, is one of the main reasons I quit watching 24-hour news.

This idiot, Rick Sanchez, is one of the main reasons I quit watching 24-hour news.

5. I quit watching 24-hour news in 2004. I realize I’m a newsperson and I should probably keep up. But working for a newspaper makes you realize a lot of truths about the industry: TV people are actors, who have a very small staff that trolls for news. Usually good-looking staffers. Newspapers are large-staffed, moderate-looking people who don’t worry about camera time. We’re the ones actually pounding the pavement and breaking stories. And with websites and an actual understanding of how they work, we’re proving it over and over again. I don’t watch the nightly news, or have the ticker on. Ever. And it’s freeing. If I want to read something, I seek it out myself. And since I work for a newspaper, it’s pretty easy to find! I suggest everyone give up the 24-hour news cycle, even ESPN. See if you really miss it.

I hope you enjoyed the Garish Chicken’s confessions. I guarantee you there will be more, since I am clearly the most ridiculous person alive.

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Filed under Brain Disorders, Fun!, General Nonsense, Haters, Love, Newspapers, Sports, Tulsa