These eggs come in 14 flavors and my favorite is the one filled with almond praline, wrapped in bright green. I bought enough to fill my glass Easter basket, but now they are almost gone.
I have a bit of a nostalgia problem. Also, once I experience something a certain way and like it, it’s “tradition.”
Growing up Catholic, Easter was, to use religious parlance, “a big fucking deal.” I still celebrate Easter with an enthusiasm completely out of proportion with my belief in its purpose…well, I celebrate the parts that are pagan in origin anyway.
Winters in Erie always kicked my ass. Skies were grey, air was frigid, days were short, snow was deep. Through the winter holidays, this weather could be charming. Like the time more than 20 years ago when my Mom and I drove home after seeing a play during the first snow of the season. The way the snow glittered in the lights as it fell took my breath away. Dreaming of a white Christmas and all that. Unfortunately, while I had no further need for winter after Christmas, it would hang around for several more months each year.
Living in this barren winter landscape, the other rebirth, Spring, was the most attractive part of Easter. Well, rebirth and chocolate I suppose.
In recent years, I have actually looked forward to Easter more than Christmas. And that’s saying something.
Why do I love Easter?
*Spring where I now live is lovely unlike the cold, yet snowless Christmases we get here (rebirth, blah, blah, blah).
*It’s an excuse to eat chocolate.
*I get to take vacation time without the hassle of going somewhere. At Christmas, we lose two days to travelling and have to pack the car with us, gifts, our crap, and a dog as if we were playing Tetris. At Easter, my Mom comes to us.
*Instead of making a bunch of different kinds of cookies and the dreaded buckeyes, all I make for Easter is this white chocolate raspberry cheesecake.
This is one of the few things that tastes mindblowingly good to me even though I had to make it. There is only one piece left right now and Dave’s entitled to it, and I’m near tears.
*Decorating for Easter takes about 5 minutes and involves this fabulous fiber optic light up Easter bunny. I don’t know about you, but this screams “Christ is risen” to me.
*None of that annoying gift giving crap. The only thing I have to shop for is chocolate. Here is a picture of this year’s Neuhaus Easter eggs.
*Easter is one of our Wegmans occasions and I love going there.
Thoughts on Easter 2011
The Peeps diorama contest (for some reason I feel the need to point out this is brought to you by the newspaper that broke Watergate) always helps me get into the holiday mood, and this year was no exception. My favorites never make the finals, I guess I’m not a good judge of art. My favorite is this take on Magritte.
Of course, how could I resist this Moses-themed diorama?
Mom came down on Wednesday and her job is to supply us with Romolo’s chocolate. Here’s what she brought this year. As you can see, we had to make due.
I have to give a shout out to the only grocery store Easter candy in our repertoire, Cadbury mini eggs. Maintaining my weight during Lent and Easter would be a lot easier if I didn’t know these things existed. I never knew about these until Dave’s Mom included a bag in an Easter care package she sent him the first year we were dating. We sat in the common room in my dorm and ate the whole bag in one sitting. I smell a tradition!
Seriously, about the smell? Ever notice how overpoweringly good the unopened bags smell? It’s intoxicating. I cannot buy these or open a bag without taking a deep breath and moaning with pleasure first.
In other chocolate news, I was super excited about this Easter bark from Romolo’s, milk chocolate studded with colored mini marshmallows and malted eggs, but the reality didn’t live up to my expectation. The marshmallows got stale.
I broke down and bought The Ten Commandments on Blu-ray. The gift set is awesome. The box splits open in the middle, parting like the Red Sea to reveal the discs stored in a replica of the Ten Commandment tablets and several extras.
Unfortunately, we only made it to intermission. We got a late start watching the movie, and it was almost midnight by the time we finished the first disc. We gave up, so the slaves didn’t get freed this year. Oops. I blame Lifetime. We simply were unable to turn away from the horror of the movie about Prince William and Kate Middleton.
I had to work on Easter Monday, which is NOT tradition. I like to have all of the named days off (OK, I don’t usually take off Maundy Thursday, even though I love saying Maundy). So we decided to have Easter dinner on Saturday and then go out to a fancy brunch on Easter. There was a buffet of appetizers and dessert, plus a choice of entree and side. The food was fabulous. That plus the ridiculous cost of the brunch encouraged me to eat myself sick (unfortunately, literally).
The weather was nice enough over the weekend to sit on the front porch, which I hardly ever have time to do even though it is one of my favorite things. I sat in my rocking chair, ate chocolate, sometimes read my mindless book, other times just watched over my neighborhood like the old lady I am while listening to Dave play the bean song on his guitar (it’s a real song that he plays over and over. Since I’m not familiar with it, I made up my own lyrics about beans).
Mom and I went shopping on Thursday (Maundy!) and I was pleased to find that I’ve gone down a size. This is almost certainly due to the discipline I had over Lent in reducing grains and sugar. We have a ton of chocolate left. I’m going to eat it. Uh-oh.
What are your Easter traditions? Do you have any chocolate left?
For my first installment of Photo Friday (Good Friday edition!), I present to you this postcard I received from God…
How did he know?
I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.
I hope it doesn’t come as a crushing blow to anyone, but I’ll probably combine weeks 15 and 16 into a post in a couple of weeks. My Mom’s visiting for Easter and I’m taking several days off, so won’t get much iPod listening in.
Here is the weekly summary:
* Songs listened to this week: 132
* Completed: 63%
* Number of double shots: 6 (Simon & Garfunkel, Genesis*2, Elvis Presley, The Police, Apollo 440)
The title of this post comes from what is only this week’s runner up in the “Best Dave mix song” category, Tullycraft’s “Twee.” I curse like a sailor, but for some reason I could not make myself use the word fuck in the title of a post, even though it’s a quote. Neurotic much?
There is a whole subgenre of music called “twee pop,” but in case you thought I was super hip to the music the kids are listening to these days, I feel the need to point out that I had to look that up. And also that I understand exactly none of the references in this song. Dave is more hip to new music, but I’m sure he put this on a mix for me just because of the word “twee.”
During the time I participated in book clubs, I established a rule. My rule of book club is that I don’t like book club. The last one I was in used book selection methods that were maddening. Every few months, we would engage in a chaotic group discussion during which the most prolific and vocal book suggesters filled up the calendar with books from their list. No one ever wanted to read anything I’d suggested, and the one time they threw me a bone, the rest of the group disliked it so much I wish they hadn’t bothered.
My first encounter with the word twee took place during a book club meeting. Unlike most of the books we read, I’d rather enjoyed reading the selection that month. For once, there was hot sex in it. One of the bookclubbers jumped right in with comments. She seemed to be dissing the book, but it was hard to be sure because the key term she used was “twee.” I found the whole discussion rather irritating, in large part because I had no idea what the hell the word twee meant. Vocabulary day at book club!
I also thought the whole discussion was prissy. Why couldn’t we just enjoy some hot historical fiction? They can’t all be Oprah’s book club material (ha!).
I don’t remember going to book club again after that. When I think back on it, my memory places the book hater in a tweed jacket complete with patches on the elbows, but that almost certainly has to be an embellishment of my imagination, no? Luckily, the memory of tweed (so close to twee!) became a useful mnemonic for my new vocabulary word! Although once I’d looked up the meaning of the word twee, I still wasn’t sure why it was an appropriate way to describe the book. And I still haven’t ever had the occasion to use the word, until now. Fuck me, I’m twee.
* Best Dave mix song AND weirdest coincidence: Juno Reactor “God is God“
I just published this post about my fond memories of watching The Ten Commandments every year and this awesome song came up in the shuffle the very next day. Creepy.
* Song that made me smile the most: LL Cool J “Mr. Good Bar“
Mom recently brought down some old family photos for my photo digitization project. Last weekend, I came across some pictures of my older brother at around 11 or 12 wearing a Hershey’s Mr. Goodbar tee shirt. Then this song came up in the shuffle a couple of days later. The vision of my brother in his shirt adds a whole new dimension of amusement to this song. Each new line made me giggle while out walking Chuck.
* Other random memories: Poi Dog Pondering “Circle Around The Sun“
The year I met Dave, he and his friends (one of whom was my roommate that year) introduced me to “Thursday night,” which was simply a drinking party they habitually held on Thursday nights (duh!). I already liked Dave a lot, so I was very excited about my first Thursday Night hosting gig. But then everyone started to bail and it looked like my special time with Dave would fizzle out. But I turned on the enthusiasm and saved it. I drove Dave and my roommate to Wegmans to get some supplies and I had one of my “Assorted Condiments” mixes playing in my car’s tape deck (I’m old!). Dave liked this song and that made me happy.
But there’s no You Tube video and that makes me unhappy.
* Most situationally-inappropriate song: Wings “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reggae”
This song is on a regular Wings album, so apparently I never marked its genre as “Christmas,” so it wasn’t part of my post holiday deportation of Christmas songs from my iPod. Not being able to skip this was painful.
“My family and I saw your Dad with his campaign signs the other day,” one of my friends from school said to me one day.
And what a sight he must have been, I thought.
Embarrassment quickly flushed my face with a ruddy warmth.
“Oh my God,” I muttered. What else could I say?
My Dad spiraled down into a deep depression during his long unemployment. I remembered a time when I rushed to him when he got home from work asking him if he’d brought me anything. I loved office supplies and he would usually come through with some sort of fabulous-to-me gift, like a 4-color Bic pen or a regift of something one of his clients had given him.
I can understand better now the despair he must have felt to go from being the bread-winner and delighting his daughter with office trinkets every day to being unemployed. But Dad had let himself go, literally and figuratively, and at the time I only cared how it felt to me. Humiliating.
The unemployment rate was high, the job search was not fruitful. His resentment burned to a fiery anger. He started passing his time trying to cause trouble for those who had fired him, but that did not work out well.
Eventually he replaced these activities, as well as looking for work, with complaining about not having work and making our lives miserable. And the drinking, there was always the drinking.
Inexplicably, he became hopeful that life would improve…if only the incumbent were defeated in the upcoming election. He had bountiful free time to campaign. That poor, poor challenger…
Luckily, Dad’s favorite outfit matched his candidate’s campaign signs. This outfit also matched the color of my hot, flushed cheeks when my friend said she’d seen him.
You could not miss him.
He spent his days driving around the city with an enormous campaign sign mounted to the roof of our car. His campaign uniform was no different from the outfit he’d been wearing every day for God knows how long. He wore sweatpants, Converse sneakers, and a tee shirt that accentuated his beer belly so well that he probably looked like a tomato to my friend and her family.
Dad even created a campaign song for his candidate, which made me regret watching so much MTV in front of him. He changed the lyrics to the Cars “You Might Think,” which was a huge hit at the time.
You might think I’m loony, but all I want is (insert candidate’s name here).
To make this rhyme, Dad had to mispronounce the name. Dad sang this pretty much non-stop, whether out campaigning or at home. Even now, hearing this song makes me want to stab myself in the eardrums.
Annoying and embarrassing, but until my friend mentioned seeing Dad, I thought maybe I’d get through the election unscathed.
Fortunately, my friend wasn’t judging or teasing me. She thought my Dad was funny. All my friends did. When they came over, it was still early enough in the afternoon for the happy drunkenness, which they mistook (I hope) for simply happy.
There was never any doubt that the incumbent would crush Dad’s candidate, with or without Dad’s special brand of campaigning. At the time, I had trouble distinguishing whether these events were comedy or tragedy. Probably still a mixture of both, but at least I look back on it with laughter now.
This week’s RemembeRED prompt:
“Give me a memory of the color red. Do not write the word ‘red’ but use words that engender the color red when you hear them.”
I have never been a big fan of the color red, so I could only come up with two memories in which red played any significant role. Neither seemed worth writing about. But when I heard “You Might Think” Sunday night in the car for the first time in years, I took it as a sign.
Watching the epic movie The Ten Commandments is one of my favorite parts of celebrating Easter. And though I have it on DVD, I have to suffer along with the Hebrew slaves by sitting through all 284 minutes of the ABC telecast each year. It’s tradition.
Yes, I know the movie is actually about Passover, but I associate it with Easter. ABC started airing it every year on Easter the year I was born. So I literally grew up with it as an Easter tradition.
Cecil B. DeMille knew how to make a biblical movie entertaining. Well, at least the first part. Before everyone finds out Moses is a Hebrew, it is like a rollicking family sitcom. Let’s play Hounds and Jackals and tease Rameses about who is going to be the next Pharaoh!
And the actors aren’t kidding around either–they are acting. Even the stoicism is over the top. And I love how campy Anne Baxter as Nefretiri is (“oh, Moses, Moses, Moses!”).
This is not a bad representation of how I think of this movie:
The movie’s many great lines became part of my family’s lexicon. When you exasperated someone in my family, they were likely to respond with a tired “Moses, Moses…” a la Yul Brynner’s Rameses at the 25 second mark.
Then there’s the excessive use of the word bondage. One year I counted, and surprisingly only got a total of 18. If you want to get really good and blitzed, you’ll need another drinking game, because bondage isn’t going to get it done alone. May I suggest drinking whenever someone says “Moses?”
As I got older, I started to get more frustrated with the inefficiency of the Moses plan for freeing the Hebrew slaves. Dude, Sethi’s about to name you as his successor and your hot girlfriend killed the only other person who would dare tell that you are a Hebrew. You got this!
Moses gotta do it the hard way…after what might be film’s most ill-conceived revelation scene. What a waste of a perfectly good cover-up murder. I’m really supposed to believe that Nefretiri would crumble so easily?
Moses says, “Gee, I wonder what happened to old Memnet.”
And Nefretiri is all, “OK, I give up, I killed her!”…“Oh yeah, and you’re a Hebrew.”
My alternative plan? Moses keeps his mouth shut, succeeds Sethi as Pharaoh, gets it on with the throne princess, and frees his people. Or maybe institutes a system of paid employment, because someone needs to build cities in Pharaoh’s honor. The best part of my plan is it would yield a movie whose length won’t make your ass fall asleep.
I also need to make a confession. Each year, I root for Rameses more and more. Look, I get it. Rameses-bad, Moses & I Am That I Am-good.
But Yul Brynner kicks ass! He keeps the movie entertaining after Moses finds God and, let’s face it, becomes a humorless, sanctimonious ass. Even his wife can’t stand him anymore. When Nefretiri comes to save Moses’ first born, she meets his wife Sephora, and is clearly jealous of her. And Sephora basically says, “bitch please, you ain’t missing anything.”
Rameses says cool stuff like “so let it be written, so let it be done.” He has rational explanations for the plagues (at least until the last one anyway). And he amuses me when he finally gives in and frees the Hebrew slaves. He just wants Moses out of his face. And by this point who wouldn’t? Moses never shuts up. So Rameses says, “You’re free, go away.” But Moses proceeds to make the s-l-o-w-e-s-t exit ever, with more of his infernal talking. And Rameses’ look is saying, “Oh My God(s), did I not just tell you to leave?”
It’s also tradition to talk to the TV when the freed slaves throw a kegger for the golden calf. I always warn them–just wait until Moses comes back with God’s law and sees what you’re doing. He’s going to be so pissed! But they never listen.
Oh well, they always reach the promised land in the end. (Spoiler!)
Will you watch The Ten Commandments this year? Do you have a favorite movie that you watch over and over again?
Does this spreadsheet make me look anal?
Biggie said “mo’ money, mo’ problems,” but I say “mo’ money, earlier retirement” (unlike Jay-Z, I’m serious about retirement), so we started working with a financial planner several years ago. One of the first things he asked us to do was create a budget. At the time, he didn’t know the kind of behavior he was enabling.
(When I was younger I got a tee-shirt for my birthday that said “Does anal-retentive have a hyphen?”. Everyone at my party roared with laughter, but I wasn’t 100% sure what that term meant or how it applied to me. Didn’t sound good, so I looked it up (because, as it turns out, I am anal), and saw that the definition included the following helpful explanatory terms: meticulous, compulsive, and rigid. Yes, yes, and yet still more yes.)
You could say I’m compelled to document things. You never know when you might need information on things you did, food you ate, or money you spent several months or even years ago, right? Dave likes to tease me when I’m talking excitedly about some new idea by saying “I think you need a spreadsheet for that.” And I probably do.
Our financial planner wanted us to track our spending for a few months. But I created the following budget template and have entered every cent we spend into it since 2005.
This is admittedly old school and time consuming. For years, I entered transactions several times a month, sometimes during a Friday lunch break and often catching up on weekends. This worked for years, until it didn’t. Demands on my time increased and, I don’t know, maybe I got a life or something, because I just stopped feeling like spending significant chunks of my weekends catching up on this task.
Last year, I stuffed my expandable zip envelope with receipts until it no longer closed. The stack of monthly statements grew higher. At the end of each weekend without having made any progress, I moved the budget task to the next weekend in Good Todo. That is how I came to spend over 16 hours of my Christmas vacation entering our 2010 spending into the spreadsheet.
SIXTEEN HOURS. Merry Fucking Christmas.
Frustrating when I stopped to consider that’s only about 20 minutes a week if I’d just kept up with it throughout the year. But here’s the thing, it’s already April and I’ve entered only a handful of receipts and the January statements so far. So I have considered saying screw it, five years is enough, I know what we spend, we are OK, I quit. But I am compelled to keep tracking our spending, it gives us piece of mind. Our optional and incidental expenses are not very predictable, and even our regular spending sometimes surprises us, so keeping the spreadsheet helps us stay on track.
For example, did you know that although our household consists of two people and a dog, we spend a third of what the Duggars spend on food each month at the grocery store (assuming their restaurant budget is separate, otherwise we spend TWO-thirds what the Duggars spend on food each month)? Of course you didn’t know this and we didn’t either, until we tracked our spending. There is no way we would ever have guessed we spent that amount.
The key to saving money on groceries???
Which of course is the key ingredient of this…
Keeping the budget spreadsheet also helps us decide when we can splurge and how much. For example, a few weeks ago I happened upon the most adorable bag (see below, adorable right?). While it cost more than I usually spend on such a thing , we made an instant “connection” (if I were watching the Bachelor right now, Dave would tell me to take a drink). I loved it, I knew how I would use it, and I knew we could afford it. So I bought it and didn’t feel one bit guilty or anxious about it.
So I decided to continue to keep the budget spreadsheet, but do some research into options for making the task more efficient. Our financial advisor suggested that using an online system like Mint might make my life easier. I didn’t think that my budgeting needs were very demanding, but apparently they are because I haven’t found anything suitable.
What do I want in a budgeting service?
- Automatic updates for my key accounts (checking, credit cards)
- Customizability of budget categories
- Ability to retain ownership of my own data
I signed up for Mint and spent a little time setting up my key accounts and looking at the different features. I don’t need most of what they offer–fancy budgeting tools, colorful charts, or emails warning me that I spent more than usual on clothing last month (I know, I bought a purse, I was there!).
What I really want is for someone else to update my budget spreadsheet for me. In lieu of that (!), I would settle for being able to export my budget information in a way that allows me to easily recreate my spreadsheet or something close to it. But Mint is apparently the Apple of online budgeting and does not want you to be able to manipulate your own data. There isn’t an option for exporting your budget, only individual transactions. Organizing an export of transactions into a useful form (you know, by category and date) would take even longer than my current process.
Mint’s connection to my bank is also wonky. Mint wasn’t able to update my checking account transactions for over two months, but today it magically worked. So even if I were willing to give up on the exporting function, I would not be confident that Mint would have up to date bank transactions.
Unless I find a tool that meets all of my needs, I am stuck entering all of my transactions manually. Am I missing a great tool that offers all three of my critical features? What tools do you use to track your spending?
I’m challenging myself to get through a whole shuffle of my music collection on my iPod without skipping. Then I write about what I heard each week.
* Songs listened to this week: 102
* Completed: 58%
* Number of double shots: 3 (Franz Ferdinand, Genesis, Sting)
* Percentage of songs that came up during running that were so totally not helpful in motivating my running: Oops…didn’t run this week, meant to take my usual post-race three days off, but somehow that turned into six!
The title of the post this week comes from “Where Does The Time Go?” by the Innocence Mission. Dave introduced me to them after we met in college and I think he first heard them on the only station that matters.
The Innocence Mission is not like anything else I listen to and I love them so much because the lyrics speak to me and remind me of my own Catholic school upbringing in a climate with changing seasons (Karen Peris writes lyrics about living with snow that make me feel like I am standing in it, even though it doesn’t really snow here). She is able to evoke so much using so few words. A skill I admire and don’t have.
Overt references to God and religion in music ordinarily turn me off, and many of their songs are colored by their faith, although only some songs are explicitly about God. For any other band this would be enough for me to say thanks, but no thanks. But there is a familiarity in the way Karen writes about this topic that feels comfortable to me. It was my experience too. As heartily as I’ve rejected religion, I don’t really have anything bad to say about my Catholic school experience…well, except this.
All this talk of my 13 years (14 if you count preschool) in Catholic school has lodged an awesomely lame Catholic hymn in my head. There were a bunch of these goodies in the late 70s/80s and our music teacher taught us many of them. When I get one of these songs in my head, watch out! I’ll be singing this all day.
“Let us build the city of God
May our tears be turned into dancing
For the Lord, our light and our love
Has turned the night into day.”
Sorry about that. I typed that out without checking it first, so I was pretty impressed with myself that I got the words right after more than 20 years when I finally did look it up so I could attribute the song lyrics to someone (Dan Schutte). What greatness could I achieve, if my brain weren’t cluttered with such things?
Back to the Innocence Mission…even if you didn’t share a similar upbringing (the members met while attending Catholic school), I dare you to listen to their music and tell me it doesn’t make you feel like they’ve wrapped a warm blanket around you and brought you some hot chocolate to warm up after coming inside from building a snow fort. Or maybe like you’ve spent an afternoon thumbing through your old family photo albums, the smell of the old paper that holds the pictures reminding you of the stories your Mom told you of the days the pictures were taken. Or is that just me?
I read that much of the Birds of My Neighborhood album was inspired by the years it took Karen and Don Peris to have children (they now have two children). “Where Does The Time Go” certainly seems to speak to that topic. But Karen has a gift for writing lyrics that can resonate in different ways.
The melancholy and hope this song weaves together remind me of the six-year long distance phase of my relationship with Dave. We spent the first half only a 90-minute drive apart, but when I moved to D.C. for the second half, knowing that he still had several years of school left and that both he and my family would be hundreds of miles away, I felt like I was driving off the face of the Earth (even more so when I crossed the Mason-Dixon line, which gave me chills quite frankly).
Those years seemed to stretch out forever, and I felt like I was waiting for my life to start a lot of the time. Birds of My Neighborhood came out the year that Dave finally finished school and moved here, and Karen provided the words for what it felt like to finally get what I had waited for so long:
“We will walk on a hill
Red hats and blue coats, and everything still.
Snow will cover until
We can’t tell the sky from the ground.
Where are the buildings, the old wounds of mine?
Did I ever once cry?
Waiting for you to arrive…
Where does the time go?…
Friends have moved away,
One tree has come down, another one flowers and sways.
Miri was lost for five days.
From upstate at school one friend writes,
Everything is changing while the day sky stays blue.
Changing around him, and me without you.
Waiting for you to arrive…
Where does the time go?…”
Video is here. Sorry I can’t embed it, I have been trying to be better about not highlighting songs You Tube won’t let me embed, but what can you do?
There weren’t too many other songs I felt like highlighting this week, and I’ve never spent so much space on one song before, so I’m only going to do one more.
* Band I’ve wanted to highlight, but was waiting for the song with the live You Tube video to come up: Splashdown “Ironspy”
I first heard them on WBER, by this time I was listening over the internet since I didn’t live in Rochester anymore. So I missed them when they played the Lilac Festival and then their record company screwed them over and now they are no more and it makes me sad and pisses me off. We need more music that doesn’t suck.
Ooh, wait, one more:
* Song I’ll be saddest not to hear again until this is over: Asobi Seksu “Thursday”
Since I still have “One Shining Moment” stuck in my head, I’m going to say it’s not too late to write about the NCAA tournament. We went to the first and second (sorry, cannot make myself call them “second and third”) round games in D.C. this year. Here are some thoughts:
The games in D.C.
We got to see Butler and UConn in D.C., which seems pretty cool to me in retrospect.
Unfortunately this didn’t give me any special insight into their match up.
I remember both of the Butler games, which were thrilling, very clearly.
All I can really remember about the UConn games was Kemba Walker’s Mom going all Mama Bear on some Cincinnati fan. I was a quarter of the arena away, so couldn’t hear, but she looked pretty pissed. I wonder what the guy said or did to set her off. Dude seemed to back off pretty quickly once she engaged him, so don’t mess with Kemba’s Mom.
Going to the tournament is such a crap shoot, you never know who you’ll get to see. With the early rounds, you are lucky if one or two of the six games you see are good. I was disappointed with the teams assigned to D.C. this year, except for Butler, who I was excited to see, because of their run last year and because of Brad Stevens (can you call it a crush if the guy is younger than you?).
This is at least the second time I’ve had to watch Pitt in the tournament. They are never as good as their seed. As Charles Barkley would say, “they just not that good.” He actually said that about Syracuse, but I’m sure he’d be willing to apply it to Pitt too, since he seems to hate the Big East.
During the Pitt/Butler game, we had a lot of Pitt fans in our section. I knew I was in for an interesting night when a middle-aged man in front of us stood to applaud Pitt’s first basket. He even stood and cheered a Pitt timeout (called when the momentum had shifted in Butler’s direction). I shit you not. I turned to Dave and said, “He can’t be serious.” Dave said, “Woo Hoo, great timeout!”
I will never forgive the Verizon Center for not selling nachos this year.
Brad Stevens is the new Rick Pitino (Now with Less Douchebaggery!)
After Butler beat ODU at the buzzer, I said, “Brad Stevens is my new Rick Pitino.” It’s a good thing too, because Rick Pitino was ripe for replacement, ever since I realized he’s a douche.
You can say that I joined the Butler bandwagon, but you’d be wrong. I joined the Brad Stevens bandwagon. Keep it straight!
My loyalty is to coach, not school. People sometimes seem baffled by this, like a former colleague who is from Louisville. Our first conversation about the team we have in common went something like this:
HIM: “Are you from Louisville too?”
HIM: “Did you go to Louisville?”
HIM: “Why do you like Louisville?”
ME: “ I like Rick Pitino.”
Look, when you attend a Division III school and there aren’t any Division I schools in your hometown, and you like college basketball, you need some way to pick the teams you are going to root for during March Madness. I follow teams with good coaches who I find attractive. This seems reasonable to me. What am I supposed to do, pick by color?
Annoyingly, I still can’t help but like Rick Pitino, it’s a sickness. While it sucked that Louisville lost so early, I ended up seeing more of Rick that way given his guest stint on CBS the first weekend of the tournament. The interaction with Charles Barkley was awkward and awesome.
Hey, are Horizon League games even televised nationally? Because how am I supposed to feed my Brad Stevens addiction?
Jim Nantz bugs me.
I wish Gus Johnson and Len Elmore could call all of the games. Gus makes everything seem more exciting. Hell, I like all of the commentating teams better than Jim Nantz and Clark Kellogg. Every year when it gets down to the Final Four, I get a sinking feeling when it hits me that I no longer have any option about who will be yapping in my ear all night.
I don’t really care much for the studio dudes either, with the exception of Greg Anthony, who made sense to me more often than the others, and Charles Barkley, who simply has no filter on what he says, which was entertaining.
As Timely as Headlines from 3 Years Ago
George Mason’s 2008 NCAA run was so quick I missed it, so pardon me while I now bitch about 3-year old news. Dave and I were at the Verizon Center for the East Regional rounds in 2006 when George Mason won their two games to get to the Final Four. Probably the most exciting thing I’d ever witnessed.
Besides their underdog victories, the most charming thing about Mason was their mascot, Gunston. Gunston was a fucking adorable fluffy green patriot creature. Well, it’s not really clear what Gunston was, but that was what made him so awesome. Apparently, GMU gave Gunston the boot in 2008. Because he was embarrassing.
“Following the men’s basketball team’s heady run to the NCAA Final Four in 2006, the university community and fans agreed that the Gunston costume was not up to the standards of the team’s – and the university’s – national reputation.”
Oh yeah, seriously.
GMU, what’s embarrassing is not Gunston, but the fact that your inferiority complex made you dump the best mascot ever. I laugh out loud at your ridiculousness and your blue ribbon mascot panel. I shudder when I look at your scary two-faced big-headed patriot thing. GMU, you are dead to me (unless you hire Brad Stevens).
See what I’m saying (Gunston is below and the new mascot is here.)???
One Shining Moment, My Ass
Commentators sometimes say after a sporting event “it is too bad someone had to lose.” Given how pitiful the championship game was, I say it is too bad one of the teams had to win. Unfortunately, my eyes can’t un-see that game.
Rick Pitino predicted a Butler win over UConn. I’m glad I didn’t know that before the game, because I would have put stock in that prediction, when really Rick was just full of shit.
Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I ran into Mike Krzyzewski at the Syracuse Zoo a few years ago? The sign said “muntjac,” but I knew better. That’s Coach K!
Sting sang to me through my headphones as my Mom drove our getaway car. The haunting sounds of the song “Fragile” perfectly matched the fresh wound of the argument replaying in my mind.
“Tomorrow’s rain will wash the stains away, but something in our minds will always stay.”
I clutched my walkman and sunk into the seat, and tried to focus on Sting instead of my father’s rage, which still echoed, distorted and menacing.
“On and on the rain will fall, like tears from a star…”
While Dad was not physically violent, the threat of violence always felt real. Anxiety weighed us down, more oppressive since my older brother left for school. Mom and I retreated each evening to her bedroom. Hiding there, we would eat takeout, watch TV, and pretend that the closed door protected us.
My prayers finally answered, Mom rented a house across town, closer to my school, further away from Dad. He wasn’t supposed to find out until the last possible second, but somehow he knew. He was blisteringly drunk, in a blind rage, and in possession of several serious weapons, but none of those things distinguished that night from many others. But now he was also armed with the news that we were planning to leave him.
“How fragile we are…”
Mom said we needed to leave and hurried up the stairs to pack some things. I didn’t follow. Dad moved toward the staircase and I sat on the bottom step defiantly. I studied his face and worried we weren’t going anywhere. I blocked his path, partially to stall for time and partially because I believed I could calm him.
“Perhaps this final act was meant, to clinch a lifetime’s argument…“
Crying always made me feel weak, but my tears could quiet his rages. The tears dampened his fiery anger and he would slink off, still steaming about some perceived injustice, but knowing he’d gone too far. He’d made his baby girl cry. He was sorry, until next time.
So I looked up at him and managed to cry out “Why are you doing this?” before dissolving into tears. In response, he mocked me. It was chilling. I fled up the stairs and packed as much and as fast as I could. My head hurt and my heart ached while trying to decide what I could leave behind. I didn’t believe I would ever see anything I left behind again.
The drive to Gram’s house took less than five minutes, the soundtrack provided by “Fragile.” The song burned this night into my memory. Defeated, but safe for the moment, I sobbed as quietly as I could until I fell asleep in Mom’s childhood bed.
Mom insisted I go to school the next day even though the sight of my face in the mirror horrified me. The night of sobbing disfigured my eyelids and had nearly swollen them shut. I went to school but I wasn’t really there. My pulse quickened when I thought about what was supposed to happen at home, what might happen.
Indeed, my world transformed while I was at school. But the contrast between the past and walking into my new home after school was like stepping from black and white into the motion picture Oz in Technicolor. While I was away, my Mom made magic. She moved our lives to this new house. All of my things were safe, my room ready for me. My Mom was safe. Her friends were with her. Everyone was smiling. We felt lighter, we were free.
With this move, she rescued my soul and made all things possible.
This was 23 years ago and from the first day of our new life, the dark memories receded. But hearing “Fragile” still transports me to the night we had to flee my Dad. I feel the sting of my father’s mocking and the uncertainty about what the next day will bring.
*The title and italicized lines are from “Fragile” by Sting.
I planned on taking a little break from RemembeRED writing prompts so I could catch up on my considerable backlog of other post ideas. But this prompt resonated with me too much to let it go.
This week’s prompt: “Have you ever heard a song and suddenly you were swept back to a time in your life you had pushed to the back of your memory?…This week, your memoir prompt assignment is to think of a sound or a smell the reminds you of something from your past and write a post about that memory. Don’t forget to incorporate the sound/smell of your choosing!”
I have been writing posts at least partially related to this prompt for several weeks. Earlier this year, I started an iPod shuffle challenge—listening to a complete shuffle of everything on my iPod without skipping any songs. Each week, I write about what I heard, including the random memories that certain songs evoke. The song “Fragile” came up in the shuffle several weeks ago and I wrote about both of the memories this song evokes for me here. This post expands on one of these memories.
Constructive criticism welcome, in particular I found it hard to show rather than tell. Perhaps because this is a critical piece of my life story, I am compelled to tell it.