Wednesday, June 30, 2010

OMAHA… Somewhere in Middle America.

Last week I had the pleasure of hanging out in the Mecca of College Baseball, Omaha during the College World Series. And at the last run of Rosenblatt Stadium, to boot. My man’s brother plays for South Carolina, so we donned our garnet and black and headed north.

My man and I got to his folks’ house ‘round midnight on Thursday, and tried to sleep a few hours in preparation for the 3am departure time coupled with 10 hour road trip. I fell asleep and it literally felt like I woke up 5 minutes later, but it had been a full 3 hours. I haven’t felt like that since college, where we would wisely fall asleep at 5am, only to wake up in time for our 8am test. We were very smart back then, obviously. But I digress… While I was getting dressed and talking myself out of laying back down for about 12 hours, my man’s dad (“MMDad”) was loading the car and, in his sleep-deprived state, managed to set the alarm off. Luckily I was already awake and aware of my surroundings, because otherwise I would have come out with swinging some kung fu kicks and probably would have managed to hurt myself and knock a few things off the walls in the process. He quipped “I guess you’re awake now,” to which I replied, “Well, my family uses alarm clocks, but if that’s the way you do it around here, I’m on board.” MMDad: 0, Me: 1.

I think my favorite thing about this situation is that I met My Man’s Mom (“MMMom”) for the first time, and although unconventional, it worked! Instead of the usual “Hi, nice to meet you at this fine restaurant where we will get to know each other over some fine dinner and a fine glass of wine. P.S. I really like your son.” Instead, it was “Hi, nice to meet you at 3am, yes if I had my druthers, I would have makeup on and maybe brushed teeth, let’s get to know each other while we ride in a car together for the next 10 hours, and while we’re at it, let’s spend the next 72 hours together! P.S. I really like your son.”

You know what? I wouldn’t have had it any other way, though. We had an adventure! And we have some great memories. And those folks are truly awesome people. Their son didn’t fall far from the tree, either.

The car ride was good, I slept a lot. MMDad and I were chatting about my job, and I was telling him that I just started recently and am so thrilled to be here. He was asking about the interview process and I told him that it was down to me and one other guy, to which he quipped, “So you won it on good looks?” To which I replied, “No, I’m pretty sure I won it on the swimsuit and talent portion.” MMDad: 0, Me: 2.

Omaha seems like any other town, but Omaha during the College World Series is a crazy place. I felt like we were at Spring Break in West Palm Beach, or maybe at the Texas State Fair, if everyone who attended the entire time came on the same day. We got there in time to watch the South Carolina batting practice, and my man suggested that we go to the outfield to try to catch one of his brother’s homerun balls. So we sat amongst the sweaty, but super cute pre-teen boys, who had their catcalls down pat. They were working the outfielders, trying hard to score a ball. His brother hit a bunch of homeruns (he’s just good like that), but one came real close to us and bounced off the bleachers and right back into the right field guy’s glove. He spotted us and threw it right to us. So of course we had to have his brother sign it. And of course it was super awesome.

We headed to the hotel and rested a minute before heading back to Rosenblatt for the Opening Ceremonies, which were amazing. I felt like we were watching our own personal version of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies. We had a military band, parachuting military guys, Barry Bonds, Will Clark and tons of baseball greats. But the best thing? The fireworks. Holy moly. I have never seen fireworks as gigantic and beautiful and breathtaking as the fireworks at this place. Here’s a picture from

They were larger than life. We predicted we would hear “Proud To Be An American” and “Put Me In Coach” and we were correct on both counts. I will never forget how beautiful those fireworks were.

Slept like a rock and it was time to wake up for a day of baseball. TCU was playing at 1pm and we were able to watch it due to the hook-up prowess of the man himself, Hymie. He got two random tickets for us and we tried the first seats (but they didn’t work too well) and then we tried the second seats and they were just fine. We had a great view of the game, we didn’t have to pay anything and we got to sit next to an adorable baseball loving little girl named Jessica. And TCU won! Good times.

After the game, we headed to a steakhouse called Gorat’s and had some pretty good food. The best part was sitting with my man’s brother (“MMBro”) and another teammate and his folks. Our waitress is a real life sumo wrestler, a burly white lady with a bun on top of her head. Crazy. Everybody is so nice and funny and so much fun to be around. And MMDad picked up our check. That was so generous of him.

After dinner, my man and I went to the Old Market area for some one-on-one Man/Dana time. We walked around, saw some crazy people, and settled in at a brewery (the name escapes me at the moment). It was so relaxing and nice to cozy up in that booth outside and watch the people, drink some good beer and talk about how much fun we were having. We walked back to the car and stood on a bridge for a while watching this borderline amazing waterfall thing that shot really high up in the air. I’ve never seen anything like it. It was like a wall of water, and the wind would catch it and send it leaning like the Tower of Pisa. And it had lights in the water! Omaha, you keep impressing me.

Slept like a rock again and got up with some baseball anticipation. South Carolina was playing at 1pm, and we looked out the window to see…. RAIN. Now, let me go off on a short tangent for a minute. I love rain. I love rain so much that I would be the happiest girl in this town if it rained every day. That’s my favorite thing about northern Florida – the fact that it rains every day at 3:00pm. I dance in the rain at my house, in the grocery store parking lot, wherever. Love. It. You picking up what I’m putting down?

However, I’m not in love with certain rain drops that jeopardize our ability to see MMBro play some College World Series ball. Bottom line, we hoped for a break in the clouds all day but it didn’t happen. So we headed back on our jet plane, with no South Carolina game-watching under our belt. But on the positive side, we got to hang out with MMBro and his teammates. We got to see a game. We got to spend time with MMDad and MMMom. I’m putting this weekend in the win column, for sure.

And… as it turns out, unless you have been hiding under a rock, you know that South Carolina WON the College World Series!!! WOO HOO!!! Go Gamecocks!! (and that is the only and last time you’ll ever hear me say that… please forgive me, fellow Bama fans).

Till next time.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

"Maybe it's a tumor" -the kid from Kindergarten Cop

A dear friend of mine recently received some news that nobody wants to hear. She found out that she has a tumor in her left breast.

Before this occurred, her life was extremely close to perfect. I’m telling you, this girl is blessed. She has a fantastic job that pays well and makes her happy. She has fabulous friends and family who love her unconditionally. And then there is this amazing guy who makes her heart race and her knees weak. So this reality check isn’t ideal, but it's life. Life can be messy. And scary. And inconvenient.

Here’s the story: She went to the doctor because of sharp pain in her right breast and he ordered a sonogram. She wasn’t worried, just ready to figure out what was happening. The right side turned out to be just fine (what a relief), but the left side revealed a tumor that is in the very back and isn’t detectable by self-exam. She said that the sight of that black circle on the sonogram screen felt like taking a bullet. With the needle biopsy right around the corner, she is mentally preparing herself for a little pain and hopefully some good news.

How does that work? You go to bed one night, wake up the next morning, and poof – you have a tumor? Don’t you think you’d feel something growing inside your body the way a woman feels a baby growing or the way I felt my stomach growing when I ate cheese quesadillas at lunch?

I think we all want to feel “normal” and there’s nothing like a tumor or something similar to make you feel anything but. But what is “normal?” I guess it is the halfway point between what you want and what you can get. And she is trying to feel normal, and is trying to keep her mind off of it. But I know it’s got to be bothering the heck out of her.

But it isn’t like the movies. She didn’t crawl into bed and wallow in self-pity until some cheery person waltzes in, opens the curtains to bring in some sunshine, and orders her to get up and stop crying. When real people fall down in life, they get right back up and keep walking. So that’s what she did and will continue to do until this is all over.

She is full of hope, which can be hard to maintain sometimes. Is hope a drug we need to go off of? Or is it keeping us alive? There is no harm in believing. And her strong faith in God is going to carry her through this, no doubt.

So I told her ‘that which does not kill you makes you stronger’. I read that in my favorite magazine, Convenient Theories for You Monthly. And I'm sure it's true.

When Charles Dickens wrote "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times," I believe he must have been dealing with something like my friend’s situation. Wonderful life with a curveball thrown in. But nothing she can’t handle.