Posts Tagged ‘trip down memory lane’

When I was younger – think, about 7 years old or so – I remember taking an acting workshop. Nothing fancy, just a short class one summer at the local community center, most likely. (Mama can fill in the details.)

The point is, I remember one exercise where we had to come up with a character. We had to decide the age, sex, career, mannerisms, etc. of this persona that we were going to portray. When the teachers (who were probably in their early 20s) came around and asked me about my character, I told them, “I’m a middle-aged woman.

So about how old do you think that is?” one of them asked me.

Oh, you know, 30,” I responded, nonchalantly.

I don’t remember the teachers’ reactions, but I have to imagine that it was either a laugh, a groan, or somewhere in between.

I’ve thought about that character exercise a lot in the past few months, for one very specific reason. And that’s because today, according to my younger self, I have officially become middle-aged.

And I’m surprisingly okay with that.

I loved my 20s – a lot of good things happened. But, as with any decade, there were also a number of shitty things, too – things that I’m not sad to leave behind.

I’ve never really been one for dwelling on the past. I do love old stories, and can get nostalgic with the best of them, but more often than not, I focus on what’s ahead.

So in that spirit, I decided it was time for the birthday list to make a comeback – a little 30 for 30 of the non-ESPN variety.

It’s an ambitious list, but it’s worth a shot. I just hope my newly middle-aged body is able to keep up.

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Thanks to the wonder (or devil, as you like) that is Timeline, I can unequivocally say that today is my 8 year Facebook anniversary.

More than anything else in my life, that makes me feel old.

More than friends having babies; more than getting married; more than the Beloit mindset lists.

More than my impending 10-year high school reunion; more than 19-year-olds in major league baseball.

More than babysitting a kid who says, “Whoa! You were born in the 80s??” with a mix of wonder and horror.

Social networking is what does it.

Congratulations, Facebook. You win.

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A year ago today, I said yes. And it was exhilarating.

In the past year, that feeling has only amplified. I’m at the point where I want to sprint down the aisle, just so I get there faster.

(I won’t, though, because I don’t sprint well in heels.)

And it makes me laugh to think that if you had asked me four years ago whether or not I’d be marrying BNF, I would have responded: “Marry him? I don’t even like him!

I first met BNF in 2008 while playing for my company softball team. He had missed the first couple games, but I’d heard about this supposedly amazing shortstop, so I was naturally curious.

During our first game together – him at short, me at second base – we had a chance early on to make a double play. The batter hit a grounder to BNF, and I quickly moved to cover second, prepared to then throw to first.

But the throw never came.

BNF decided to make the play himself, running over second and throwing to first.

(No one remembers, by the way, if the double play was made.)

I was furious. The shortstop I’d played with in BNF’s absence always threw the ball to me. In my mind, BNF must have thought that just because I’m a girl, I couldn’t handle it! The jerk!

Later on at the bar, I was sitting nearby when I heard him declare to the table, “The thing about women is…

So I turned. “I have to hear this.

Hold on a second,” he told me. “How old are you?”


Okay. You don’t know anything.”

And just like that I thought, well, it’s a good thing I don’t have to hang out with him outside of softball!

Fast forward four years, and I can’t even imagine sprinting down the aisle to anyone else.

And it doesn’t hurt that he now throws the ball to me.

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When I was dating, I would occasionally fall into the classic traps that every woman knows about but cannot seem to always avoid. The most frequent trap went something like this:

Girl and boy hang out, have fun. Boy becomes flaky (because, honestly, he’s just not that into you), girl gets frustrated, vows to not date flakes. Boy reaches out, shows some initiative, girl thinks, “maybe it’ll be different this time, he’s trying!” Wash, rinse, repeat.

It wasn’t fun, but it was a learning experience – in dating, self-esteem, and realistic expectations.

The thing is, I thought that trap no longer existed now that I’m not dating anymore. I clearly forgot about the alternate version, which is actually even more frustrating: the flaky friend trap.

You know the friends. Maybe they live a little farther away, so you actually have to make solid plans to hang out (no impromptu happy hours). Maybe you both have really busy schedules, but you want to keep up the friendship that you’ve had for the better part of your existence.

However, after they cancel on you time and time again, after those solid plans have been made, you lose faith. Sometimes the cancellations are legitimate. Sometimes you justify them, because of course they wouldn’t mean to leave you in the lurch like that.

But the fact remains that you still don’t see each other.

And even when you do, you feel secondary to whatever else they could be doing at that point.

So you manage your expectations. You’re tired of feeling disappointed, so you don’t reach out either. And that seems to be working out. Until they reach out again, excitedly asking what your schedule looks like because they want to hang out. Really, truly this time!

Do you get your hopes up again, and get excited for a visit, making plans and freeing up time?

Or do you take everything they say with a grain of salt, not believing a word until they show up on your doorstep?

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Every year around this time I give you a heads up that I’ll be taking a blogging break for a week, in order to go hang out with several hundred middle schoolers. This year, as I was thinking about and getting excited for the upcoming week, I also realized that I hadn’t done my July donation yet. And I wondered why I had never donated money to a camp that has been so influential and so important in my life.

YCM, the organization that sponsors The Great Escape (the official God camp name), also allows you to designate your donation to a scholarship fund that allows students the chance to attend camp. And that is where I want my money to go this month.

Being a camper meant the world to me as a 7th and 8th grader. And considering that this is my 12th summer actually working there, I’d say it left a lasting impression.

A little taste of camp: costumes, human foosball, dancing, and skits.

Or I’m just a really bad quitter.

So, in honor of my leaving for camp, and hopefully helping someone else to go in the future, I’ve decided to revisit my very first blog post – the one that got me into blogging in the first place.

Enjoy, and have a great week!

When most people say they’re going away for a week, they’re going on vacation. When I say I’m going away for a week, I’m going to God camp. As a counselor. With 500 middle schoolers.

I don’t think that qualifies as a vacation.

The camp takes place in middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania. The cool place to hang out is the Super Wal-Mart.

On the one hand, I think it’s great that we can bring all these kids together in a place with minimal distractions. On the other hand, I’m reminded that my very first kiss happened at this same camp over 10 years ago. Middle schoolers only need one another to be distracted.

Maybe because of this, one of the first rules we teach horny teenagers at God camp is as follows: NO PURPLING.

What does that mean, exactly? It’s simple: boys are blue and girls are red. Clever, right?

Now, considering even I grew up with this rule (pretty much every church camp/retreat has it), I never thought much of it. In fact, I figured it made perfect sense when you’re at a religious event — talk to whomever you want, but no making out, etc.

I only realized that this “purple rule” was unique to Christian camps (maybe even specifically to Presbyterian ones), when I was talking to one of my college friends who works at a Jewish sleepaway camp every summer.

She was talking about the summer romances as a camper and as a counselor and I asked, “But what about the no purpling thing?” The look she gave me was one of confusion, and as I started to explain the “boys are blue…” analogy, she started to laugh.

“Well, of course it’s not encouraged,” she said, “but there’s no rule.” (Her past three relationships have started at camp.)

Listen, I’m not naive. I know what goes on when you put over 500 middle schoolers in the same place. There are bound to be hormonal attractions and there are bound to be those bold enough to act on them.

If I had merely my first kiss at camp over 10 years ago, I can’t imagine what’s going on now. Actually, I can, I just don’t want to.

One of the girls I work with at the camp told me about a conversation she’d had with her boyfriend the night before. He, having never been to one of these camps, asked, “So, do you have any ‘one time at God camp’ stories?” And she had to say yes.

She’d been caught making out with a boy from another church — by his leader. It actually came back to bite her in the ass when her little brother was spotted making out with another camper later in the week.

“How am I supposed to tell him to stop, when I got caught doing the same thing?” she asked us.

As wise as we are, collectively, not one of us had a good answer — perhaps because we all have one of those “one time at God camp” stories that prevent us from chiding someone else.

Working at these camps is kind of like being a parent: you lay out the rules, but you know the kids will find a way around them, because that’s exactly what you did when you were their age.

You know (or think you know) all the tricks, and when they come up with new, ingenious way around the rules, you’re annoyed, but also a little bit impressed. (Coupled with that feeling of “Oh man, why didn’t I think of that? Of course the side stairs are better for sneaking out.”)

Sometimes I think, at this point, the purple rule is just tradition. It’s been said at every camp, conference, and retreat, for at least the past 20 years -– a classic.

That doesn’t mean that we don’t try to enforce it (for instance, there are no slow songs at the end of the week dance), but we all know that it will get broken.

It’s just a matter of finding out how.

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I heard an ad on my Pandora station that said, “Mother’s Day isn’t about celebrating mothers; it’s about celebrating all that your mother has given you.

And while I think I understand the idea behind the line, I respectfully disagree. Mother’s Day is about celebrating your mother. Sure, part of it may be what she’s done for you, but it’s also about what she does for her and who she is.

You celebrate her for…

…being an amazing role model

…her dedication to her own goals, as well as yours

…putting up with your phone calls while you’re driving, even though you know she doesn’t like it

…being as non-judgmental as possible, even when you tell her something that you’d judge if it were anyone else

…being incredibly supportive

…giving the best advice

…wearing the same size as you do, because closet-shopping during trips home is both fun and cheap

Mama and me circa 1992 - in homemade dresses, no less

…always sending something for the little holidays, just so you still get a taste of home

…having a more vibrant social life than you do (even if the night starts at 4:30 and ends after the NCIS reruns are over)

…living a life that you’re proud to aspire to

…being happy

People have extended their birthdays into birthday weekends, weeks, and months. And yet, we give moms a day.

Sure, that totally seems adequate.

So this time, Mama, and from now on, the parade is for you.

I’ll even let you wave the flag and wear the hat.

I hope you know how much I love you, appreciate you, and want to be like you. Not just this Sunday, this weekend, or this month, but every single day.

And if I call too much? It’s just because I want you to be sure of all of that.

I love you, Mama. Happy Mother’s Day Weekend.

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When my brother and I were younger, maybe 6 and 8, we tattooed each other with permanent marker while waiting for Dad to pick us up from one of Mom’s meetings.

(The meeting was clearly not in the same room as the tattoo parlor.)

By the time he showed up, we had polka dots, smiley faces, and a variety of odd designs all over our legs and arms. And, while we thought it was hilarious, Dad was not so thrilled – mostly because he thought Mama was going to be upset. So he whisked us over to a friend’s house and proceeded to scrub us until our skin was red. And even then I think there was still a slight echo of polka dots at school the next morning.

It’s only fitting, then, that more than 15 years later we busted out the Sharpie tattoos again – this time at Daddy’s retirement party.

Daddy with all his kids - before everyone else showed up

Back in March, Daddy turned 70 and decided that work was getting in the way of his playtime. So on March 31st he completed his last day of work, and on April 1st he celebrated his first day of retirement. And this past Saturday we all celebrated with him.

In addition to family, there were old work friends, church friends, neighbors, and teammates from all of the softball leagues he’s been in over the years. As the night went on, the scotch was flowing, and the boyfriend decided it would be a good idea to show off his tattooing skills. And everyone else agreed.

Thus began round two of Sharpie tattoos.

From left to right: me with "Popeye"; Mama with Pink Panther; Mama with hers and Daddys initials; BigSis2 with Woody Woodpecker - all courtesy of the boyfriend

And that photo doesn’t even include the neck tattoo or the tramp stamp.

Overall, the party was a huge success. Daddy got a chance to hang out with all of his favorite people, and everybody who stopped by had a blast. I may have initially expected a retirement party to be calm and low key, but I know better now. Especially when my family and Johnny Walker are involved.

Now that it’s over, Daddy can focus on softball (at least one member of our family will hit a home run this year!) and his other retirement project: cleaning out the house via craigslist and eBay.

If I know my father, and I think I do, he’s even more ruthless than Cla, so I’d better get any childhood memories out of the house ASAP.

But I can’t do it all in one swell foop, so just know that I’ve got my eye on you, Daddy.

And please try not to throw out any more home videos.

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