Sports!

For roughly the last 2 1/2 years I have spent my days toiling at a newspaper. Yes, people still read newspapers.
My desk happens to be located near the sports department and while I’ve grown to love the lot of sarcastic bros, I’ve rarely been able to understand what they’re talking about.
I don’t watch sports, I don’t care about sports and any knowledge I do have is based solely on what I’ve seen in movies.
I learned early on not to ask what things mean because they tease me relentlessly, so instead I started writing them down. The following are things I’ve overheard.

“Does a sack count as a rush?”

“Last time, running backs carried the ball 17% of the plays.”
“Ugh.”*long, drawnout groan*

“Thanks for calling but I’m working.” *hangs up

“I don’t necessarily want to be ‘that dumb ass’ when I die.”

“I just checked my voicemail for the first time since September 2012.”-in Aug. 2014

“He threw a golf ball at you!?”

“Sometimes you’ll have a left D and a right D.”

“Have you been working out, or what? Yeah, that’s good. Where do you go? Yeah, that’s good for ya.”-on the phone with a source.

“He put it on his face…his social…his social media Facebook. His Twitter.”

“So how do you pronounce that name? Kennis? You see that? It’s like, Kenny y-s or something.”

“The whole purpose of the league is bullshit.”

“He’s a baseball nerd.”

“The password is taco.”

“Unfortunately, I drained my hot tub two days ago.”

“How many teams sack bunt their three-hitter.”

“Tennis? It’s like golf. It’s a spectator sport. It’s where people are cheered on by moms and dads.”

*A 10-minute conversation where one sports writer who recently found out what a Chinese Fire Drill is explained the concept to another sports writer who didn’t know.

“This top-down shit is for the birds.”

“Do you know how much curling shoes cost? $300! Seriously!”

“Was your wife a hippie back in the day?”
“Yeahhhh I think so.”

“The truth is we don’t give a shit about either of your shitty schools. We want you to lose as soon as possible so we don’t have to cover either of your shitty teams.”

“We don’t hate Central, we hate everyone. We hate parents. We hate refs. We hate players. We hate the teams. We hate people who call us.”

“Aw man. If somebody gives me cheesecake they can call me Ed Schultz, I don’t care.”

“She’s pretty hot.”
*everybody freaks out and is disgusted*
“At my age, you aren’t picky. I mean…take the wrinkles out. She’s got a couple of neck wrinkles.”

“It’s amazing how bad the Wolves are.”

“That one girl, she just looked like a linebacker.”

“I loved coaching girls. It’s the most fun I’ve ever had with my clothes on.”
“Bakken! There are ladies in here!”
“I don’t see any ladies. I see a couple women, but no ladies.”

(On the phone) “Huh.” *Sounds surprised* “You speak English really well.”

“Blah blah blah blah Grand Forks has done so much for me blah blah blah.”

“Not asshole cocky, but you know, so confident in himself.”

“UND’s on the bubble on both ends.”

Off-kilter

5/13/2016

I’m superstitious, but only when it’s convenient. For example, I’ll avoid walking under a ladder only if my ultimate destination isn’t directly on the other side of that ladder.
I don’t get nervous around black cats. I don’t avoid the number 13. I don’t worry when Friday the 13th rolls around from time to time.
But today – May 13, in the year 2016 – was different.

1. It snowed sporadically and rather heavily all day in Grand Forks, North Dakota.

2. Presidential contender Bernie Sanders made an unscheduled stop at a coffee shop in town. I stood in line in the snow – in May, mind you – for about 20 minutes but didn’t get through quickly enough to catch the spunky old man as he exited the venue to head south to his speaking engagement in Fargo.

3. In October 2014, I met a man I had recently ended a nearly two year relationship with in my mother’s front yard. I handed him a bag of things he had left in my apartment from his time living there — a towel, a jersey, a computer cord.
I hadn’t spoken to him since.
Guess who texted me out of the blue on this particular Friday the 13th, just to ask how I’ve been getting along.
Guess.

And the day is far from over.
-4:54 p.m.

 

 

 

“What’s a landline?”

Our children will not understand the term “rewind.”

What a long distance call is.

What the beeping and screeching song of a dial-up connection is.

Or “buffering.”

Most likely, our children will not hang out at the mall.

Nor will they value privacy,
Until it’s too late.

While they may recognize “VHS,” “AOL,” “MASH-O,” and “MSN” — they won’t know what they mean.

Our children will never be able to show up to the airport 20 minutes before their flight and make it.

Many of our children will have their photo somewhere on the internet before they reach age 2.

But change is essential for growth.
Change is necessary.
Scary — yes. But necessary.

Things I wish I could put on my resume, in no particular order

– Picks up on social cues
– Isn’t offended by cuss words or the occasional off-color joke
– Can swallow pills without water
– Knows north, south, east and west
– I once tried to teach my grandma how to use T9 and survived
– Can follow directions without getting lost. Like — actual directions — from point A to point B.
– Speaking of that, I can read a map
– Will attempt to fix things when they break
– Conscious of how my breath smells
– Not afraid of heights, confined spaces, spiders, amphibians, reptiles or large dogs
– Voice carries
– Survived political discussions with extremely right wing family members with whom I am still on speaking terms
– Can ride a bike in a dress
– Will remove shoes and go barefoot when necessary
– Can dock a boat
– Will tell you if there’s something in your teeth
– Appreciates good food
– Has been described as “the kind of person you would want to get a drink with”
– Knows the ins and outs of Christmas lights and how to repair them
Also, there’s something in your teeth.

Obituary

I experienced love late one evening in November.
It was Cyber Monday, 2015, and I was sitting cross-legged on my couch browsing the websites of stores I frequent: Forever 21, Charlotte Russe, Victoria’s Secret —
and Express.

I sort by price, low to high, on Express. I am not made of money and I don’t like getting my hopes up only to find out a jacket that looks mid-range is listed at $74.99.
And there it was.

The purse was a beautiful shade of hazelnut with a cross-body strap. Suede. It didn’t bear the burden of a flip-over thing that the fashion industry seems to think women enjoy having to fiddle with when they want to access their wallet. It had fringe, it was glorious, and it was 50% off.

For $25 with free shipping, it was a steal.
I was head over heels and so of course, I couldn’t get my shipping address typed in fast enough.

I like to think it was my excitement that made me accidentally ship the beautiful thing to my mom’s house, so I had to wait an extra week before I could get it.
But I did eventually, and I’ve used it ever since.

This purse is a thing of beauty.
It’s large enough to comfortably hold everything I need — wallet, compact, phone, lip gloss, throwing stars, pen, coin purse — without losing it all in a deep, black abyss. It’s sturdy, doesn’t show stains and goes with any outfit.
This purse is perfection.

dfgdfgdfg
Like Ginger Rogers dancing with Fred Astaire, in the form of a purse.

And then, the worst happened.
I noticed my bag was hanging askew a couple of days ago and when I leaned down to take a closer look, my heart stopped beating.
The thick underlying plastic that attaches the strap to the bag itself had come apart and now dangles only by a thin thread of that suede.
That beautiful, beautiful, imitation suede.
I haven’t been able to thread a needle through the plastic thus far and am left facing the cold reality that this purse could die any day.

It’s March now but warm air of spring feels cold now, knowing my purse is going to break.
I wait listlessly for the inevitable.

R.I.P.

Everyone can hear you and wants you to be quiet.

I’m waiting near the gate at the Hector International Airport in Fargo, N.D., when I notice a woman wearing a hat.
It’s hard not to notice her. Something about her draws your eye despite her appearance being unremarkable. She’s wearing dark leggings and a light denim button-up shirt with rolled-up sleeves. Her newsboy hat — think, that kind of floppy, misshapen kind with a very small bill — sits atop loosely quaffed dark brown hair. She’s not wearing much makeup or jewelry and while I wouldn’t personally wear her outfit, there’s an inexplicable cool aura about her.

She clearly knows the man standing near her. He’s got to be something like 35 or 38 while she’s much nearer to 21. The two are chatting amicably while the rest of us stand around looking miserable, waiting to board the plane.
I am one of the last to board. I’m in the isle seat behind her.
I’m next to a blonde woman who looks like she just left a colonoscopy and is on her way to Auschwitz. She does not engage, so I open my book.

The woman in the hat in front of me is still talking. Her seatmate has an actual garbage bag of snacks and candy she makes a show of getting from her carry-on and the two share some candy.
“I’m going to post it and say ‘I’ve got a few Twix up my sleeve!’ the girl in the hat says as she pushes a candy bar into her sleeve and carefully aims her phone at it.
She takes the Snapchat and the tired woman next to me rolls her eyes.
Candy Woman and Hat Girl converse the entire time the flight attendants give their presentation and well past takeoff. When Hat Girl goes to the bathroom, Candy Woman visibly sighs in relief.
“I wish I could sleep,” she says to no one in particular.
The man across the isle is the same one Hat Girl had been so amicable with in the airport and he suggests the woman just take the window seat because he’s sure Hat Girl won’t mind.
“She’ll probably talk my ear off, just like she did in the airport bar,” he says, smiling.
This transpires when Hat Girl returns, and from this point onward Hat Girl doesn’t stop speaking.

She’s from a small town.
She has two brothers, the oldest of which got a girl pregnant in high school. This, the believes is the reason her younger brother has such a drive to do well in life and has no time for misbehaving or partying, despite not getting very good grades in school.
She’s worried about the older brother, who relies on her and her mother to help take care of his child.
“But we will though,” she says. “We’ll always help him.”

The Man Across the Isle has a twinkle in his eye while she speaks despite the fact that he’s wearing a wedding band. I can’t tell whether it’s silver or gold, but I’ve stopped reading my book and just watch the two talk.
Well, Hat Girl does most of the talking.

“Will she ever stop?” the woman next to me suddenly comes to life about halfway through our flight. “I keep trying to sleep but every time I’m almost there her voice wakes me up.”
“She hasn’t stopped taking once yet,” I respond, smiling.
Ughhhhhhhhhruhhhh,” she growls.

I become engrossed in my reading material as Hat Girl’s voice begins to sound less and less like words and more like the teacher from Charlie Brown.

“Wah wahh wah wah wahhhh wah,” she says. “Wah wah wahhhhh, wah wah wah.”

At this point it’s pretty clear that Man Across the Isle is wholeheartedly into this relationship with Hat Girl but is trying desperately to make sure the people surrounding him don’t think that. He knows the entire front half of the plane is sick of the exchange. Hat Girl does not.
He tells Hat Girl he has two daughters and she responds by offering unsolicited advice about how to raise them. Man Across the Isle brings up his wife by name.

As we descend, the sleepy woman next to me lets out another annoyed grunt and I laugh. Man Across the Isle looks back over his shoulder and notices me for the first time.
Actually it isn’t the first time, because Man Across the Isle went through airport security at the same time I did. We were in line next to each other, a fact he has forgotten entirely.

As we taxi to our gate, Man Across the Isle Turns on his phone. He has a text from a woman and responds with a quick note that he has landed in Denver.
He continues to talk with Hat Girl.
He looks at his phone again and without waiting for the woman to reply, types out a message that “she” was actually seated by him on the plan and they’ve been talking the entire time.
Hat Girl drones on while Wife responds with something to the effect of a sarcastic “poor you.”
Man Across the Isle responds with an explanation that Hat Girl, though he doesn’t call her that, is “like 20 hahaha” and “so annoying” because “I just wish I could have slept through that flight.”

This is totally untrue. I laugh but the people standing to get their bags don’t notice.

“Tell your daughters they’re awesome” Hat Girl says as she leaves the plane one person ahead of Man Across the Isle.

I laugh again.

Bathroom adventures

Last week I had to make one of the biggest decisions in my 24 years on this earth; whether or not to use a bidet.
While on vacation in New Mexico I was taken to an extremely nice spa and resort. I was treated to a hot stone massage and time among the pine trees in a hot tub along with an endless supply of cucumber water. In short, it was phenomenal.

Upon arriving at this particular spa you are handed a robe and told to hit the showers. No gross, dirty weirdos allowed. But because it’s a spa, the showers are a lot more user-friendly than your average gym shower and the experience was soothing as I prepared to be pampered.
I decided to stop at the porcelain throne, the water closet, the lavatory — whatever you want to call it — and I briefly had a small panic attack.
What stood before me was no ordinary toilet. There were spouts and buttons, one of which said “fan,” (?!?!) and I don’t know if it was all in my head but I swore I heard a quiet technological noise — like a laptop turning on — when I entered the stall.

dfgdfgdfgdfgdfg
For those of you pronouncing it “bid-ett” in your head, it’s called a “bid-ay” and it kind of looked like this.

I hesitated for a full minute before sitting down.
The control panel of buttons to my left was flanked by a good ole’ traditional roll of toilet paper, so that was a relief, but I like trying new things and thought this might be an opportunity to learn more about the world.
To grow as a person.
To expand my mind.
To have a have a high-tech toilet shoot water at my privates.
And then, very suddenly, I decided I wasn’t comfortable with the possibility of letting out a full-on scream in that bathroom, surrounded by quiet women in robes who were there for the sole purpose of relaxation.
I mean, can you imagine? What would that even feel like?

I chickened out.
I ran.
And I never looked back.

My Ex Boyfriend Couldn’t Read a Map And That’s Unacceptable

It’s not the destination, but rather the journey that is important.
In short, the ability to read a map is deal-breaker for me.
I’m not talking about taking directions from a GPS either. I’m talking about knowing that north is different from west, all of those straight lines are roads and knowing you have to follow those lines because they do, as a matter of fact, line up perfectly with the road you’re traveling on.
Even though you might not know where you’re going, knowing where you are in the world is important. It matters.


I remember being quite young — probably between ages three and give — when my grandma on my dad’s side would come over and babysit me while my mom worked. My parents had split and we lived in a rural part of central Oklahoma.

My grandma was and is a sweet woman and if you want a glimpse into her psyche you can read more about her here, but we decided to get lunch at Red Lobster because this was back before the thought of how a Red Lobster smells made me nauseous.
We got in the car and drove, and because this was some time between 1994 and 1997, all we had was an address and a Rand McNally (which for all you young people is a brand of road atlas, which is a fancy word for map.)
It wasn’t safe but that didn’t matter; all it took was a little coaxing for my grandma to let me ride straddling the center console where a middle seat would have existed in other vehicles. It propped me up higher by about a foot, giving me as a tiny human the best view of the road I had ever had.
We drove.
We drove more.

vbnvbnvbnvbn
If this is Greek to you it’s going to be hard for us to be friends.

I don’t know where we were really going, but looking at a map now — yes, a real map with roads and everything — I’m guessing we were heading to Shawnee.
And suddenly, we were lost.
I remember feeling my grandma’s panic in the thick air of the car as we drove aimlessly down highways. I remember her telling me to sit in the car seat normally. I remember going into a gas station and asking for directions, at which point she had to explain to me why the lady at the register had laughed about how we were smarter than most men.
I remember that it rained.
And then we were home.

Talking about the incident with her when I was older was educational; she had been downright terrified though she had hidden it well. My grandma is terrified of being lost, a concept I can’t quite wrap my head around.

Even if you’re lost you can always find your way with a map.

My sense of direction isn’t perfect but I sure do have one. I can tell which way is “the way we just came from” and I can easily retain which direction I was going if you make me close my eyes and spin around a little.
As I got older I met more and more people my age who couldn’t handle life without someone else telling them where they are, whether it’s  one of those old TomToms or Siri. I can’t fathom why a person wouldn’t want to know where they are in the world of their own volition.

Both actually and as a metaphor for life, knowing there you are is important because that makes it easier to figure out where you’re going — if you want to go anywhere at all. At the very least it would be useful if zombies become reality or the economy collapses and the world descends into mayhem.

Read your own map.

 

Fahrenheit

It’s 12:19 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 10.
The year is 2016. The location is Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The thermometers read -9 degrees, but a little digging shows that the reason nobody’s car will start, the reason everyone is wearing two sweatshirts, the reason you can’t see an inch of skin on anybody exposed to the elements is because with windchill it’s actually -21 degrees.

Fahrenheit.

There are only a few states where windchill is a factor and for those who live there’s it’s an incredibly important one.

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The blue ones. The geography of the east coast confuses me so I’m sure I’m not 100% accurate there, but you get the gist.

I’m struggling to describe how this kind of cold feels because I feel like anything I say will come across as an exaggeration when I’m being very, very serious.

-21 sends your body into autopilot survival mode.
First, your muscles tense up to preserve body heat, sending your shoulders up to shield your neck and fists into tightly clenched balls. You don’t notice it until later, but your gluteus maximus also tenses up so that if you’re out in the cold for days on end you’ll be able to fool yourself into thinking you were working out.

-21 makes your skin tingle so intensely that after a while your forehead feels like a coat of wax has hardened over it.

-21 makes your eyes water and then freezes any moisture on you freeze into small ice crystals. This includes your breath, which you’re usually not short on because you’re exhaling warm air with the hopes it will rise and warm the rest of your face. It doesn’t.

-21 makes walking through a parking lot unbearable, let alone a few blocks. It also makes you lean forward ever so slightly because deep down you know your nose will get to wherever you’re going – a warm place – 2 milliseconds before the rest of your body and that’s important.

ertertre
Like this guy.

-21 makes everything seem like it’s not worth the effort.

-21 makes your skin tingle in places you didn’t know it could tingle. Have you ever thought about what it would feel like to have the liquid in and around your eyeballs freeze? Yeah, it’s like that.

It’s 3:09 p.m., Sunday, Jan. 10.
The year is 2016. The location is Grand Forks, North Dakota.
The sun is out but the thermometer still sits at -6 degrees but windchill readings still show -21 degrees.

It’s awful.

-spooky

That feeling you get when you see the girl your ex is dating and realize she’s a lot prettier than you.
That’s the worst kind of fear. That kind of fear sits inside you and eats you alive slowly but surely while you’re forced to walk around like absolutely nothing is wrong because big girls don’t cry.
That’s what the Four Seasons said anyway, and later, Fergie.

Blood and gore and getting lost in the woods doesn’t scare me. Being possessed by the spirit of some haunted child or waking up buried alive doesn’t make me cringe.
I can handle animal attacks, insect infestations and zombies and so can you.

True horror is behind you in line at the grocery store. True horror is the realization that everything you thought would be cool about being an adult really isn’t that great because you to pay for it yourself and then subsequently wondering if there’s anything to look forward to at all.
Real fear is hopelessness.

Boo.

Happy Halloween.