Category Archives: Sports

currently … in a funk

That’s a photo from a Pirates game we were at in 2013 — a lifetime ago, really. I’m kind of bummed this weekend because The Husband and I had an actual, honest-to-God date planned down at PNC Park where the Pirates are, as I type this, playing the Yankees in a rare series. We like the Pirates just fine; however, The Husband is a Yankees fan and it’s not often he gets to see them. This weekend’s games here in the ‘Burgh would have been the perfect opportunity and I encouraged him to get tickets as a belated birthday gift for himself. Unfortunately, The Husband hurt his foot on Friday — we suspect a sprained ankle (he’s getting it checked out on Tuesday) — so he sold the tickets on StubHub and here we are, watching from the living room on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon.

I was looking forward to the game, so not being able to go has added to my general bummed out mood lately. We’re dealing with a family situation that’s incredibly sad and difficult, one that falls in the “not entirely my story to tell” category of blogging, so that’s weighing heavily on our minds. We were in Philly last weekend for Easter because of this. It’s a hard time and being so far away from everyone right now makes us feel even more helpless. My attention span is nonexistent.

Reading … I’m in a bit of a reading funk. I brought Anne Lamott’s new book, Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy with me to Philly last weekend, thinking it might provide some comfort. I really wanted to like it but found it kind of rambling and scattered. That’s been the case for me with a few of her books lately. I’ve also abandoned two potential review books. I can’t seem to get into anything new.

This week wasn’t a complete loss in the books department. I finished The Noise of Time by Julian Barnes, a novel that draws heavily on the true story of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich. In 1936, Stalin attended a performance of his opera and … well, he didn’t like it. Which does not bode well for Shostakovich, whose life is placed in danger. It’s a compelling story, one that feels especially relevant in these times. At times I felt a bit lost (I think the narrative assumes the reader has more knowledge of music and Russian history than I do) but I found it fascinating and disconcerting at the same time.

I also read Jennifer Jackson Berry’s new poetry collection, The Feeder, which is … emotionally intense. These are raw, personal, soul-bearing poems dealing with infertility and loss and sex and pleasure. I’m a fan of Berry’s work and this collection is one that stays with you.

Watching … Still in the middle of the first season of “Grace and Frankie.” Such a stellar cast in this show, which I am enjoying. I really want to see “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.” Maybe we’ll watch that tonight.

Loving … My new laptop. My hard drive died a few weeks ago and while it can be replaced (and we were able to save all my data), the laptop is four years old. The Girl really needs a laptop for homework so I decided to get a new one and repair my old one for her. Also, I’m loving this weather. It’s finally nice enough to sit outside at lunch with a book and on the deck after work.

Running … Slowly but surely, I’m starting to get back into some semblance of a running routine. There’s a great little walking path at my mom’s so I was able to get in a 1.25 mile-long walk on Sunday, with a little running tacked onto the end. We also did a walk on Friday evening too.

AnticipatingDewey’s 24 Hour Readathon is next weekend (April 29). I love this event, which happens every spring and fall, and I try to participate as much as I can.  I’m really hoping my reading rut will have ended by then.

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

penguins, parades, and pittsburgh pride (17/99)

Philadelphia Zoo - solo penguin

Penguin. At the Philadelphia Zoo.

So there was a little parade in Pittsburgh today. You know, a small shindig with only about –oh, 400 bazillion people attending, give or take.  That’s a bazillion people for every time the Stanley Cup has been owned by this city. According to the crazy photos, most of them seemed to spend the day hanging out in –and on — parking garages. Or packed into a several-city block radius like sardines.

But here’s the amazing thing. As of this afternoon, NOBODY GOT ARRESTED.

Not a single person.

Aside from the fact that there really are cities that actually win not one but MULTIPLE championships once in the same century, that’s unfathomable to me.  I hate to say it, but as much as I love and am loyal to my Philadelphia, I’m pretty confident that this would not have been the same news story had the Cup traveled a little further east.

Whenever I’m asked about the difference between Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, I always answer the same way.

“It’s the people,” I say.  “They’re incredibly friendly here. I mean, they’re downright NICE.”

I’m always struck by this whenever I visit my hometown, as I did for several days last week.  The difference in demeanor is noticeable. While my mom and I were at the grocery store, I happened to leave my cart (and yeah, it’s a CART, not a buggy) a little too much in the aisle. Another customer came up alongside and I apologized for having the cart in her way.

No response.  Wait, I take that back.  I’m pretty sure she grunted.

In Pittsburgh, I would have been asked my thoughts on the gluten-free crackers I was holding, learned that her cousin’s daughter’s neighbor was one of my coworkers, and been invited over to her house for a BBQ this weekend.

Lest you think this was an isolated example, it wasn’t.  Similar thing happened at another store.

Almost every day brings more kudos for Pittsburgh.  We’re the Best This, the Most Livable That, and for sure, this town certainly has its issues, but for the most part these accolades are accurate. This really is a great place to live.

I doubt I’ll ever become a Penguins fan. But today?

Today I’m pretty damn proud to live in this city.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is post #17 of 99 in my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project. 

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

On Being a Flyers Girl in a Penguins World (12/99)

Flyers - Pens

Chalk it up to the push-pull effect of place that I always feel when I’m here, but there I was:

Thursday night, solidly back home among everything Philly, hitting refresh on all my social media streams for the final score of the Pens game.

Believe me, I wasn’t sure who I was either.

You see, I’m a Philly girl, born and raised. I love and am proud of my hometown.

Most of the time.

Growing up, mine was not a sports family but it didn’t really matter. If you lived in the Philadelphia of the ’70s and ’80s, it was impossible to not cheer for the Eagles, Phillies, Sixers, and Flyers. Sports events became part of our births and christenings, our graduations and weddings, all the milestones that make up a life. Athletes were local celebrities, held up as heroes; on neighborhood streets and school playgrounds, every boy I knew dreamed of being Ron Jaworski, Mike Schmidt, Julius Irving, and Bobby Clarke.

I imagine — no, I know — the youth of Pittsburgh experienced a similar phenomenon. Different names, same dreams.

I completely get it, this passion for the home team when living in a sports-crazed town. Even if you’re not a sports person, which I admittedly am not, this loyalty has a way of seeping into your soul.

This summer will mark five years since we moved to Pittsburgh. Although there are aspects of our lives where we still feel like newcomers — our friendships are peripheral, at best; we don’t have the close relationships we have (had?) in Philly; we still get lost when driving —  in many ways, this city has become home. My kids identify more with being from Pittsburgh than Philly, as this is the longest stretch of time they’ve lived in one place.  They’ve made friends here, my work is here, and hopefully The Husband will again have a job here. Hopefully sooner rather than later.

And speaking for myself, I admit I have embraced most of the Pittsburgh sports teams. I’ll always root for my Eagles, but I admit my cheers are louder for the Steelers.  Our family reluctantly abandoned the Phillies years ago in favor of the Yankees, but I’ve discovered there’s a lot to love about the Pirates.

But the Penguins.

I can’t quite get there with the Penguins.

I think it has something to do with this dichotomy I have of being from one place I love and living in another that also has a hold on my heart. Loyalty to a sports team becomes something tangible when you find your identity and sense of place shifting, as I’ve discovered can so easily happen when you move away.

Maybe that’s why I found myself compulsively checking the Penguins score last night.  Because as much as I cling to the orange and black, and as much as I felt like an imposter for doing so, a part of me craved that sense of belonging, that rootedness of being home.

99 Days of Summer BloggingThis is Post #12 of my 99 Days of Summer Blogging project.

 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Sunday Salon/Currently: The Big Game’s On, January Recap

Sunday Salon banner

What a week. Without going into too many details, this week kicked my ass.  I’m glad it’s over. I’m utterly exhausted. I was ready for bed by 6:20 p.m. on Friday night.

To be honest, it has been a tough start to the year.  Whether it’s The Husband’s job situation (we’re in Month #7 of unemployed hell), having to spend $4,000 on a furnace, or any number of other issues that I’m not at liberty to write about here, all I can say is this: If the month of January and the beginning of February are any indications of how the rest of 2016 is going to go, then this relationship is not going to work out.

Super Bowl Plans
Today’s the Super Bowl, and as per usual, we don’t have any grandiose plans nor any dogs in this fight. I’m very glad the Cheaters Patriots didn’t make it, and for once I’m looking forward to the halftime act. (I like Coldplay.) Before that, though, I’m planning to get my hair cut (we are getting professional headshots done tomorrow for a work project) and I still need to go to the grocery store. Hopefully all the crazies have already been there. I’m not making anything fancy. The Boy has requested french onion dip, which is easy enough.

The Big Game’s On Read-a-thon

2016BigGamesOn

I’m participating in The Big Game’s On Read-a-thon, which Jennsbookshelves has brought back this year. Hence, I’m considering this as my kickoff post.  Not sure what I’ll be reading. I had intended to start Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin, but I don’t think I’m in the right frame of mind for that one.

Reading
The Life Changing Magic of Tidying UpThis week, I finally got around to finishing The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. I started this back in the fall and abandoned it early on — probably when she was advocating thanking our clothes for doing such a good job during the day. Decided to pick it up again because too many of my friends reported good success with KonMari. I’m intrigued by the concept of decluttering by category — and I’m going to give it a try — but this business of worrying about my socks’ feelings and unpacking my handbag every damn day isn’t going to work.  Also, I’ll give my books a once-over, as I tend to do every so often when I feel the need to reduce the number of volumes on my shelves, but I’m not going to do a mass purge of them.

January Reading
I read three books in January:

The Heart Goes LastBoys in the TreesMy Name is Lucy Barton

It’s always somewhat unsettling to me when I don’t enjoy a book by a favorite author.  Such was the case with The Heart Goes Last (which I reviewed earlier this week) and My Name is Lucy Barton. I know that it’s unrealistic to love everything one person writes, but I was especially surprised that I didn’t like Elizabeth Strout’s new novel more than I did. From the other reviews I’ve read, I’m very much in the minority with this opinion. It felt like there was too much packed into what is a short novel. I don’t know; I need to think about this one a little more. It could be that I wasn’t in the right frame of mind for this particular book.

On the other hand, I am a huge Carly Simon fan and I was very much looking forward to her memoir, The Boys in the Trees. It did not disappoint. I loved this.  The majority of this felt more autobiographical than memoir; however, that seemed to change a bit in the last … oh, I don’t know, third of the book. So much I didn’t know about her life. Many of her songs take on a whole different meaning now.

Blogging
ReadMyOwnDamnBooksbutton
All three books that I read in January are ones I own, which wasn’t planned, but it means #ReadMyOwnDamnBooks is off to a good start for me. I really want and need to make a serious dent in my book piles this year. I’m not sure if I read three of my own books during all of 2015.

Things I Liked This Week

I’d never heard of Margaret Chase Smith before reading Ellen Fitzpatrick’s New Yorker article, “The Unfavored Daughter:  When Margaret Chase Smith Ran in the New Hampshire Primary.”

When I shared this article (“Everything Doesn’t Happen for a Reason“) on Facebook, most people grasped onto the sentiments of what not to say when someone is going through a tough time.  What resonated with me, though, was this: “Because we aren’t going to be able to avoid people going through something, we have to practice getting more comfortable with other people’s discomfort–something that does not come easily. Vulnerability researcher Brené Brown notices that we so strongly need people to “rise strong” that we “reflexively look away” when we witness someone’s “still-incomplete healing.”  

This idea of getting more comfortable with other people’s discomfort makes a lot of sense to me, in light of some of the situations we’ve been — and are currently — going through. As the saying goes, you really do find out who your friends are at such times.

What about you … are you watching the Super Bowl?  Participating in The Big Game’s On Read-a-thon?  Hope your weekend has been a good one and that you have a great week. (I’m hoping for a much better one than last week!) 

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Sunday Salon/Currently: Jan 10, 2016

Sunday Salon banner

Happy Sunday, loves. Today was a blustery and cold Sunday here in Pittsburgh, the kind of day that started with temperatures in the 50s and quickly plummeted throughout the afternoon. Rain, snow flurries, wind — all perfect migraine/sinus headache weather. I feel one starting so I’m taking my usual precautions to try and manage this as best as I can.

Reading

Boys in the TreesI’m still reading my second first book of the year, Carly Simon’s memoir, Boys in the Trees. I’ve been a fan of Carly’s since I was too young to fully understand and appreciate her lyrics. This highly-personal, eye-opening memoir really provides a lot of context to her songs. She’s always been somewhat of a private person, but in this book, she opens up quite a bit about her issues with stuttering as a child, her parents’ marriage and growing up as the daughter of publishing magnate Richard Simon, and her earliest relationships. Anyone who thinks they know Carly Simon through just her music probably doesn’t.

Listening
My audiobook this week has been The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood.  It’s not my favorite of hers, to be honest, and I’m actually getting a little bored with it.  I’m not connecting with the characters and I don’t really care what happens to them. I should probably consider it a DNF and move on.

This weekend, I’ve been listening to a great deal of music on Spotify. You see, when Spotify was first introduced, I eagerly signed up. For whatever reason, I abandoned the service awhile ago. With Sirius XM in the car, I was doing most of my music either with the radio or my CDs and I haven’t logged on for years. (Really, it has been a long, long time.)  I didn’t really see a need for more music.  Plus, recently there was a little glitch with my laptop and The Husband’s Spotify account (he’s a Premium user and loves it).

Finally, this weekend I determined to try and figure out the issue — and I did! Now I’m back on Spotify and downloading ALL. THE. SONGS and creating a bunch of playlists. I tend to listen to the same artists and judging from my friends’ feed, there is a lot of good music I’ve been missing out on. I’m having fun with this.

Watching
I stayed up much later than usual last night watching the Steelers-Bengals game last night. Even though I kept it on after The Husband went to bed, I really wasn’t paying much attention until the end. What a game that was, with the disgraceful behavior of the Cincinnati players and their fans: throwing things on the field, hurling beer cans at people in the stands, cheering when Big Ben was injured. Such an embarrassment to their city.

And I’m from Philly, so I’m rather well acquainted with the whole unfair phenomenon of how a few drunken Neanderthals (who every rational person knows don’t represent an entire metropolitan area or fan base) can manage to tarnish a city’s sports reputation for decades. But what we witnessed last night seemed beyond the pale, more than a handful of idiots. It’s a wonder someone didn’t wind up dead.

Cooking
It was perfect soup weather today, so I decided to use up some odds and ends for a minestrone. Some frozen corn, peas, carrots. I added tortellini and leftover garlic bread from last night’s dinner to every else’s bowls except mine. The Husband and I liked it, but of course the kids hated it. I’ve gotten to the point where if they don’t like what’s for dinner, they can make a sandwich or have cereal or learn how to cook for themselves. I’m so frustrated with their ridiculous picky eating.  They’re 14 years old and I’m done playing restaurant.

Blogging
Next Saturday and Sunday is the Winter 2016 Mini-Bloggiesta — with a bonus day of Monday if you happen to have the day off. I will definitely be participating. Not sure for how long or what my specific to-do’s will be, but this is a good opportunity for me (and you, too?) to focus on a few blog tasks that tend to be put on the back burner.

Hope your weekend has been a good one!

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Yogi

 

Yogi Berra Plaque - Old Timers Day 2010

My husband has graciously allowed me to share with you this guest post he wrote, in remembrance of Yogi Berra. Photo taken by The Husband at Old Timers’ Day, Yankee Stadium, July 2010. Yogi wasn’t at that event because of a fall he suffered. 

Yogi Berra died last night.  When you call someone a true American ‘hero’, it should mean something.  With Yogi, it most certainly did.  He was not only one of the greatest ballplayers to ever live, not only one of the most astute observers of the human condition, but also was a war hero before his 20th birthday.  Indeed, two years before he hit his first home run, Berra distinguished himself on a field of battle that saw countless other pre-20-year olds lose their lives.  All that Berra achieved after D-Day would never have happened, obviously, had he perished that day.  Had he died at Normandy, though, he’d be no less an American hero today – even without ten World Series rings, three MVP awards, 71 World Series hits or any of the other long list of on-field accomplishments.

Yogi grew up in a section of St. Louis known as ‘The Hill’.  His best friend and confidant growing up was Joe Garagiola, who would also go on to a career in baseball as a player and announcer.  Berra had another nickname before ‘Yogi’.  “We called him ‘Lawdie’,” Garagiola remembered in a documentary on Yogi’s life for the YES Network’s Yankeeography Series. “He was called ‘Lawdie’ because his mother [an Italian immigrant] couldn’t say ‘Lawrence or ‘Larry”.”

His more famous nickname came about one day on the baseball ‘fields’ on The Hill. While playing in American Legion baseball with his friends, Berra sat on the field with his arms and legs crossed waiting to bat. “He looks like one of them ‘yogis'” said one of his friends – and thus ‘Yogi’ Berra was born.

In 1941, Yogi and Joe Garagiola responded to a newspaper ad and attended a tryout for the St. Louis Cardinals.  Branch Rickey ran the tryout and – after observing both young men – offered Garagiola a $500 contract to play for the Cardinals.  Garagiola wasn’t the player Rickey wanted, however. Rickey knew that he would be leaving the Cardinals to take over the presidency of the Brooklyn Dodgers.  And Rickey wanted Yogi Berra for the Dodgers, not the Cardinals.  So, Rickey offered Berra a contract but no bonus, guessing [correctly] that Berra wouldn’t sign without a bonus.  Sure enough, Rickey left the Cardinals for the Dodgers and contacted Berra with a $500 offer.  Rickey was too late. In the interim, the New York Yankees had scouted Berra, offered him the $500, and Yogi Berra was neither a Cardinal nor a Dodger – but a Yankee.

Baseball would have to wait, though. At the age of 18, Berra enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1943. Shortly after completing basic training, Berra volunteered for a mission that would change the world. Berra served on a rocket boat at the Battle of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.  The job that Berra had volunteered for put him on a 6-man, 36-foot LCSS Boat [Landing Craft Support, Small; Berra later would say the letters really stood for ‘Landing Craft Suicide Squad’].  Berra and the others were part of the initial wave to land on the beach, and their mission was to fire rockets at German gun targets to protect Allied troops attempting to storm the beach.  Of the six men in Berra’s craft, three were killed.

Berra was one of 35 baseball Hall of Famers to serve in World War II. Of his ordeal, Berra would later say, “It was like Fourth of July to see all those planes and ships on Normandy, my gosh. You couldn’t see anything,” Berra said in 2010. “I stood up on the deck of our boat, looked up and my officer tells me, ‘You better get your head down here before it gets blown off.’ I said, ‘I like it up here.’ He said, ‘You better get down here [or] you won’t have it. You won’t look at anything.’ Being a kid, ‘What the heck,’ I said. ‘Nothing can kill me.’ I found out later on.”

Having somehow survived D-Day, Berra returned to the Yankees’ minor league system after the war and was called up to the big club at the end of the 1946 season, hitting a home run in his very first at bat. The Yankees went to the World Series in his first full season, 1947.  Berra had a strong offensive series but was miserable defensively behind the plate. In the series versus the Brooklyn Dodgers, Berra hit the first pinch-hit home run in World Series history.  But Jackie Robinson and the Dodgers ran roughshod over him, at one point stealing five bases in one game.  Although the Yankees won the series four games to three, Berra was embarrassed by his inability to shine behind the plate the way he had in front of it.

That changed in 1949 when Casey Stengel became manager of the Yankees.  Stengel saw Berra as a star – with tremendous potential as a catcher.  He tapped Yankee Hall of Fame catcher Bill Dickey to come to spring training to work with Berra exclusively on his defense.  By the time Dickey was finished tutoring Berra, the latter was a defensive stalwart behind the plate.   Indeed, as Mel Ott would say, “[Berra] stopped everything behind the plate and hit everything in front of it.” Even during his final days as a catcher [he would play the outfield for the last four seasons of his career] Berra compiled a remarkable streak of 148 straight games – 950 chances – without an error from 1957-1959.

The Yankees would go on to win five straight World Series from 1949-1953. Berra was voted the American League Most Valuable Player in 1951. He would win it two more times – in 1954 and 1955. By the time he was done, he’d won ten World Series and been in four others.  At a time when the Yankees fielded Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle, it was Berra who led the Yankees in RBIs for seven consecutive seasons [1949-1955]. Perhaps one of the most amazing statistics, however, is that in 7,555 at-bats, he struck out only 414 times.  For many of today’s major leaguers, that’s only two years’ worth of strikeouts.

Perhaps Berra was best described by his lifelong friend, Garagiola.  “If I had to use one word to describe him,” Garagiola said of Berra, “it would be ‘underestimated’. His entire life, everybody – except those of us who knew him – underestimated him.”

No one underestimates Yogi Berra now.  We may just underestimate how much we’re going to miss him.

Thanks for sharing this post!
0

Sunday Salon: Super Bowl and January Wrap-Up Edition

The Sunday Salon

We’re watching the Super Bowl (like almost everyone else) as I write this edition of the Salon. Since none of my teams (Steelers, Eagles) made it to the big game this year, I’m in it only for the commercials.

However, being Eagles fans with long memories (2004 may have been 11 years ago, but to us it might as well have been yesterday) we are obviously rooting for the Seahawks.

January Wrap-Up:
My goal for 2015 is to send out at least 25 writing submissions this year, which means at least two per month, which I achieved for January. I define submissions fairly liberally; for example, getting an audition slot for Listen to Your Mother (which I did) counts as a submission. The main thing is doing the work and getting it out there.

Another highlight of January was being part of Acquired Taste: Holiday Recovery, a literary reading event at East End Book Exchange.

Reading;
January was not my best reading month. I only finished two books – Aimless Love by Billy Collins and West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan. I enjoyed both of them, and I still think West of Sunset will be among my favorites this year. Part of my reading slump was due to having the flu, The Boy being sick, The Husband’s cancer treatments and other stuff going on.

Bird by Bird

I spent part of this snowy afternoon reading Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, which I started as my First Book of the Year, but put aside when I saw West of Sunset at the library. I feel Bird by Bird is a book I should read, so I wanted to make a point to get back to it.

Listening To:
The Good Lord BirdI’ve been listening to The Good Lord Bird by James McBride during my commutes to work, and so far I’m really enjoying this.

Promoting:
On Friday, BlogHer featured my post about the Asperger’s storyline in “Parenthood” over the past six seasons. Go here to read it.

Celebrating:
The Husband got an “all clear” report on his cancer scan on Friday, which we were obviously thrilled about. This has been a trying two weeks with him being on the low-iodine diet and the dread that accompanies this yearly test.

Wishing:
That the groundhog does not see his shadow tomorrow and that we have an early spring. Our school district has already called yet another two-hour delay for tomorrow morning, so I’m not hedging my bets on this early spring business.

Thanks for sharing this post!
0