Thursday, February 20, 2014

Throwback Thursday - Olympic Edition

This post is quite picture-heavy, so I apologize if it takes awhile to load.

Does that even still happen? I don't know, I still use the same laptop I bought when I started grad school in '05, so everything loads about as fast as Hal Gill skates.

This time, four years ago, I was on the way to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympics with one of my best friends, and met up with two Canadian friends once we landed. That trip seems like it happened yesterday. How did four years go by so quickly?!

I know just how incredibly lucky I am to have had the opportunity to attend the Olympics; sometimes I still can't believe it. I think being in Vancouver took my already intense patriotism to extreme levels. Anytime my American friend and I saw someone wearing Team USA gear, we yelled "GO USA!" at them/in their faces. Sometimes we got a patriotic response, but others we just got confused looks. I'm pretty sure we looked like we had just gotten out of an asylum. Whoopsie, patriotism makes me a bit nutty.

While we were there, we took in women's hockey and men's hockey, and it was so awesome.

First up was women's hockey at UBC Thunderbird Arena. We saw Slovakia vs. China, which I thought was pretty neat since China is not the first...or even the 15th country you think of when you talk about international hockey.

China won 3-1. The handshakes after international play (and the conclusion of every NHL playoff series) is one of my favorite tradition in sports. It has to suck being the losing team as you're going through the handshake line, though. Although, I'd probably want to punch a few people/everyone, so I don't know how well that would work out for me. If you haven't noticed yet, I get pretty riled up about sports.

There was a pumped up Team China fan there, so, we obviously had to get a picture with him. I mean, when in Rome China, Vancouver, right?

The men's game we attended at GM Place (renamed Canada Hockey Place for the Olympics, now Rogers Arena) featured No. 8 seed Switzerland vs. No. 9 Belarus. Since we had qualifying round tickets, we weren't sure who we would be seeing until the round robin had ended. On paper, this sounds like a really boring game, but it wasn't at all. I can't even begin to put into words what the atmosphere was like, and my pictures certainly won't do it justice. Despite the crowd being mostly Canadian, the teams were being cheered on as if they were playing a home game. It was really cool.

From our seats, we could see the TSN guys. FYI: Darren Pang uses a booster seat. Not even kidding.

Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir were also there, being all adorable, showing of their Ice Dancing gold medals. There was no outcry of the results being fixed or coach favoritism at these Games.

For Belarus, we saw Sergei Kostitsyn and the late Ruslan Salei in action. For Switzerland, Jonas Hiller, Luca Sbisa, and Roman "Swiss Miss" Wick.

Switzerland won in a shootout 3-2. Despite the game not being a marquee match-up, it was a lot of fun. GM Place Rogers Arena is a great venue, too. The sight lines were awesome, it has nice concourses, and everything was laid out in a way that made sense. It was also easy to get Olympic souvenirs there, which I appreciated. Since I didn't see NHL hockey there, I don't count it as one of the 13 arenas I've been to so far, so I most definitely want/need to go back.

Vancouver is an absolutely gorgeous city, and you should most definitely visit if you ever have the chance. To save a few dollars, we flew into Seattle and took a bus to Vancouver. It was super easy, and I highly recommend it.

We did not go to the gold medal game, but I have a story to tell you about that, which should make it even clearer why I'd rather set myself on fire than cheer for Team Canada in hockey.

Team USA and Canada meet tomorrow, and I"m already wondering where I can get a sedative. I considered day drinking, but, 1) I'll be working tomorrow; 2) my drink of choice is usually Crown and ginger ale, which won't work, because that's Canadian, and I refuse. I don't think wine or beer would be strong enough, and I can't go back to work tequila drunk, so, I'll have to figure something else out to calm my nerves.


Wednesday, February 19, 2014

International Competition

I wasn't going to post this, because I wrote it while I was all fired up, but now that USA and Canada are meeting in the semi-finals, all bets are off.

I apologize in advance for the profanity in this post. This is a very serious topic.

I've been putting off writing this post because frankly, the topic gets me fired up. Like, irrationally angry, probably to an unhealthy level.

I'll start off with the nice stuff. I really love the Olympics and the magic that comes from the Olympic spirit. I love seeing the pure, unadulterated joy on the faces of athletes who win and the pride of those who are just happy to compete for their countries. I'm often moved to tears while watching the Olympics. The first time I cried tears of joy was in 1996 when the Magnificent Seven won team gold. You know what I'm talking about.

I'm at a loss for words. I mean, what is there to say? It was a truly magical moment, and embodies the Olympic spirit. Just amazing.

That brings me to Olympic hockey. I can't think of anything that fires me up more than the hockey that happens every four years, aside from the World Junior Championship.

I have no tolerance for people who root against their country. Like, seriously. What in the actual fuck is wrong with you?! There is no justifiable reason for this and I don't care what you say. You are entitled to your opinion and your treasonous opinion is wrong. This is not the NHL regular season. "Favorite players" don't matter here. This is a two-week tournament for international glory. There is a team that wears your country's colors and name across it's chest, yet you choose to root for your country's biggest rival.

Don't tell me, "Sid is my favorite player, so I'm rooting for Canada." You know what, Sidney Crosby is one of my favorite players, too, but, newsflash, HE'S CANADIAN AND WE ARE AMERICAN. HE DOES NOT WEAR THE COLORS OF OUR COUNTRY'S FLAG DURING THE OLYMPICS. I also do not care if you started cheering for Canada as a misinformed little boy/girl because you love Mario Lemieux. Again, Mario is Canadian, and therefore, your argument is invalid. Nothing you can say to me will convince me that you are not wrong for choosing to root against your country. Nothing. Don't even bother trying.

I've also seen people say, "I hate Kane/Kesler/Brown/your mom. I hate Team USA." WHAT. WHAT ARE YOU EVEN SAYING?! Go ahead and dislike whatever players you want, God knows I have my own laundry list, but how does that translate into hating YOUR. OWN. COUNTRY. That doesn't even make any sense. It's INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION, not ROOT FOR YOUR FAVORITE PLAYER COMPETITION. Nothing, and I mean nothing could ever make me root against the United States of America. Not even if I was married to a Canadian athlete. N O T H I N G.

Let's think of it in terms of other sports, shall we?

Johnny Damon was my favorite baseball player for a very long time. When he signed with the Yankees, he was dead to me. Would it have been okay for me, as a die-hard Red Sox fan, to jump ship and start rooting for the Yankees? Hell no.

What if a Columbus native grew up a Michigan fan? Again, not okay.

How about a Pittsburgh native being a Flyers fan? Nope.

You see where I'm going with this.

Then, I see things like this and get even angrier about people cheering against their own countries.

All this being said, I love national pride. I have zero problem with Canadians who root for their country with every fiber of their being. This is how it should be. I'm also skeptical of people who cheer for Team USA but aren't American.

What is your purpose here? Are you a spy?

I also love friendly, sports-related ribbing and harassment. However, if you come at me and you're not rooting for your own country, chances are good that I'll want to punch you in your Benedict Arnold face.

I love you, Sidney Crosby, and you'll always be one of my favorite athletes, but I want to use this picture as target practice with the gun I don't own.

For two weeks every four years, my most favorites become my most hated, and athletes I hate become those I cheer on relentlessly. It's actually beautifully poetic.

If you're one of the traitors I'm talking about, you're probably wondering why I care so much and what real effect this has on my day-to-day life. To answer your question, you're right it doesn't. However, I am still fascinated and dumbfounded by your horrible life choices.

For the next two weeks, these guys are my favorite players, regardless of NHL club.

Once these Olympics are over, we can once again go back to cheering for our respective NHL teams and favorite players.


Monday, February 10, 2014

Monday Musings

Hello, friends! Well, we are back to the start of another week. I tried to find a "happy" Monday gif, but there really wasn't one. I'm actually in a really good mood today, so Monday doesn't seem to hurt as much this week. I also got a good night's sleep, so that helps immensely.

I had a pretty killer weekend. I feel like it was the perfect blend of fun and relaxation. It's probably going to sound really boring, but it wasn't to me. My definition of a "fun" weekend sure has changed, and I'm okay with that.

1) I came home from work on Friday night to discover that...ROSIE HAD KITTENS! Their birth wasn't a total surprise, but because you can't really pinpoint when an animal will give birth, I was shocked.

When I came home from work, I started looking around the house for her, because, well, I knew she was pregnant and could have those kittens any day now. I first looked in the basement, as that's where she often is if I can't find her. She likes to lounge and nap in the dark quietness near the furnace. Miikka was racing around following me as I looked for her, as if to say he knew where she was and I wasn't looking in the right places. When she wasn't downstairs, I had a feeling she was in my room, so that's where I headed next.

As I got to my room, I saw Rosie right away and called out to her. As soon as she heard my voice, she turned her head and rolled over...and there they were! Already feeding were three little kittens who weren't even dry yet, so she had obviously only very recently given birth. I was the epitome of stunned. She had six total, but one was stillborn. The remaining five are healthy and cute as can be.

I was honestly afraid that once the kittens were born, Miikka would try to hurt them. He's the sweetest boy, but I've heard stories about males eating/killing babies, so I didn't know. I couldn't have been more wrong. He's been so protective of both the kittens and Rosie. He seems to be happiest when he can just lay by them and make sure they're okay.

I moved Rosie and her babies into the basement since she seems to like it there, and would also have peace and quiet. However, this made Miikka very upset, as he laid by the basement door and cried for a quite awhile. The first thing we did Saturday morning was go see Rosie and the babies, and he was very excited. I noticed that Rosie really didn't seem too keen on being down there away from everyone, because she kept trying to come upstairs.

On Sunday morning, I thought I was hearing things because I could hear little kitten cries. Then, I got worried that Miikka had brought one upstairs on his own or something. Next thing I know, Rosie is running through the dining room with a kitten in her mouth, en route to the cat tree we have. To my surprise, she had been bringing kittens up and putting them in the cat condo, so that's where they are now.

Miikka likes to perch himself on top of the cat condo, where the kittens are. He's appointed himself Chief Kitten Guard.

I can't wait to share more pictures of the kittens as they grow. I'm already obsessed with them!

2) I went a little crazy and got a bunch of Team USA gear on Saturday. I got three t-shirts, a jersey, and a hat. As far as I'm concerned, you can never have enough Team USA gear, especially during the Olympics.

What made this little shopping excursion even more exciting was that I went with one of my brothers. We don't get to spend nearly enough time together, so it was nice to get a little bonding time. He got a bunch of fishing stuff, while I went a little crazy on the USA Hockey gear. That little shopping trip definitely made my whole weekend.

3) My back is hurting a lot, and I know it's from me falling last week. I'm headed back to the chiropractor this evening, so hopefully he can get me some relief. My back was feeling pretty awesome until I fell again, and it sucks that I've regressed. I am so bad at being graceful.

4) Have you been watching the Olympics? Any time I was home over the weekend, that's all I did. I even watched replays after I'd seen the live broadcast.

The women's hockey tournament has started already, and USA plays Canada on Wednesday morning at 7:30 a.m. USA men's hockey open the tournament against Slovakia at 7:30 a.m. on Thursday. Needless to say, I will be at my desk and ready to go with coffee and breakfast in time to see puck drop of both games.

What are you favorite Olympic events?

Friday, February 7, 2014

Then and Now

Since Facebook turned 10 this week, I decided to take a look back and see where I was 10 years ago.


The 2003-04 school year. I was a 20-year old junior in college at Allegheny, living in an off-campus house with some of my best friends. I was working on completing the requirements for my Political Science major and Black Studies minor, as well as starting to think about comping in the fall. I was taking five classes (20 credits) that semester, instead of standard four (16 credits), so by the end of it, I was ready to shoot myself or someone else.


I'm 30, have a BA in Political Science and a MS in Sport Management, and work as an event planner for a national non-profit.


I would have starved to death before I went and ate by myself at school. I wouldn't say I had social anxiety as defined by a licensed medical professional or WebMD, but, yeah. Going anywhere alone was torture for me, I would never have dreamt of eating alone.


Graduating from Allegheny was so hard because for four glorious years, I lived in a bubble where my closest friends were within a five-minute walk from me 95% of the time. After we graduated, everyone was spread out all over the place and my social safety net was gone.

I'm not sure why or how, but during grad school, I kicked the social fear thing and started doing everything by myself. Studied, went to the gym, went to dinner, got my nails done, went shopping. I certainly wasn't lonely, but if I needed or wanted to do something and no one was around to accompany me, I went anyway.

I've gone to hockey games, the movies, dinner, happy hour, the theater, you name it - all by myself. That might not seem like a big deal to some people, but knowing what I was like just 10 years ago, it's huge.


My nephews had just turned two years old.


My nephews just turned 12, and now I have three more nieces! What a difference 10 years makes, eh?


Kitty was 10-years old and still the sassiest animal I knew. He was not shy about making it known that he ruled the house and anyone that did not meet his approval was notified by a pile of poop. I mean that literally. If someone was over that he didn't like, he'd poop on the floor; it never failed. He was 100% litter-trained, but he was also wise enough to voice his displeasure when he was less than satisfied.

Kitty was the best. He slept with me every night, and if I wasn't in bed by 9:30 or 10, he would go up to my room and meow angrily until I came upstairs. He honestly had more personality than a lot of people I know and was most faithful friend.


I unfortunately had to put Kitty to sleep three years ago, and it was really hard for me for awhile. I knew that I would want another cat, but my heart still hurt, and I just wasn't ready. I'm getting choked up as I write this, because I miss him every day. However, I have another furry ray of sunshine in my life and I love him to pieces.

My brother got me Miikka James Kittensoff for my 30th birthday, and right from the start, he's been the sweetest little cuddle bug. I got him from a shelter, and all four pounds of him was a purring machine as soon as I picked him up out of his cage.

He purrs as much as ever, and is super vocal. It honestly feels like you can have a conversation with him because he chirps and meows in response almost all of the time, which often provides much-needed comic relief.

He's going to be a big boy and weighs almost 10 pounds now. His favorite thing to do is tear up paper, cardboard, or Styrofoam, which I have never seen a cat do. Sometimes I feel like I live with a smelly little toddler. He gets into everything, isn't too fond of baths, loves to wake me up early, and has the attention span of a fruit fly. I love him to pieces and he's always happy to see me when I get home.

I also have a second cat, Rosie. Kitty would have NEVER allowed another animal in the house. Like I said, he ruled the house; he was king and we were simply his unworthy subjects.

Rosie is a sweet girl I rescued from outside, and she is BFFs with Miikka. Just like a little boy, Miikka doesn't always understand how to be gentle and play nicely, so he sometimes has a problem with roughhousing and overzealousness, but Rosie takes it in stride. She's definitely the ying to his yang.


Looking back, I can't believe I kept my feelings for B. so hidden, as if they were a closely guarded secret. I'm pretty sure everyone, including him, knew how I felt. I could have saved myself years of mental anguish by saying how I felt. Instead, I held it all in, and pretended that I was okay with the way things were, when in actuality, I wasn't.

At that point in time, I'm pretty sure we weren't speaking to each other. I'm trying to remember what is was that we were fighting about that time, but, for the life of me, I can't remember. S H O C K E R. Why are young adults so crazy? If I can't remember, I'm sure it must have been pretty minor. Why did I not realize that a relationship this drama-filled was not worth pursuing, let alone holding on to for the next 10 years?


I told B. how I felt several months ago, and even though it's been a bit of an emotional roller coaster at times, I've never felt so good. My heart feels so much lighter and I'm no longer sad because of the "what ifs" I was carrying around. My only regret was that I didn't tell him years ago.

Ten years ago, I couldn't imagine what it would be like being a 30-year old. I had this grand plan of being married by 25 and having a child at 30. I can honestly say that I'm happy that none of that has happened yet, because I'm perfectly happy getting to know myself and experiencing things I would otherwise be unable to if I had a family. Maybe I'll be married by 35? Who knows. What I do know, however, is life keeps getting better and I like that a lot.