Thursday, February 13, 2014

#371 Are You Ready For Some Football? -- Episode Three (Pasadena)

January 6, 2014

The last time Auburn made it to the BCS National Championship game in 2010 I didn’t go.  I wasn’t able to find a ticket; even if I had been able to, the hotels, flights would have been way too expensive.  I watched it at home with friends and after we won I threw toilet paper in my own tree. 

This time around, I was able to find a ticket.  A work friend and alum helped me get one for face value.  The flight cost wasn’t too bad, and it turns out a friend (and AU alum) lives in nearby Santa Monica, so I had a place to stay.  Sweet! 

Saturday morning I flew direct to LAX.  Friday night I didn’t sleep well (I’m pretty sure I had a fever) and felt very blah Saturday morning also.  But there was no way I was staying home.  We sat an hour on the ground in the plane waiting for mechanics to fix the cockpit door.  So my 4 ½ hour flight turned into 5 ½ hours cramped on a plane.  I did manage to get moved to an exit row (for free!) so was very thankful.  (For you tall folks out there, ask at the gate about available exit-row seats.  You can get them free if available.)  I tried to sleep on the plane and may have fallen asleep a couple of times.  I went back and forth between leaning my head against the window and sitting forward with my hot, feverish head in my hands. 

After landing I picked up my rental car (a Ford Fusion) and drove to Shelly’s house.  She had gone to Newport Beach to pick up another AU friend and we all met at her place.  We spent the day touring Santa Monica/LA/Hollywood.  Even though I was a bit sluggish and didn’t feel 100 percent, it helped to be outside in the warm ocean air and walking around. 

First stop – a walk along Venice Beach and then the Santa Monica Pier.  We saw lots of interesting people and shops along Venice Beach.  We didn’t quite make it to Muscle Beach.  Then we went to the pier and the three boys (ages 9, 10 and 13) had a fun time on the rides and playing games and stopped at a Pollo Loco for a late lunch. That place is really good. 

Next was a drive around LA and Hollywood checking out the big, fancy houses.  In Shelly’s neighborhood, the small bungalow-type homes go for $1 million (they have an apartment).  My 1,100 square foot home would probably cost that much if it was moved to Santa Monica.  So in LA and Beverly Hills those giant homes cost around $5 million.  OMG.    

In Hollywood, we parked at the Hollywood and Highland Mall and walked around.  I had no idea that the Dolby Theater (formerly the Kodak Theater), where they hold the Oscars, is in a mall!  We walked on a bit to check out the Hollywood sign, then headed down to Hollywood Boulevard to see Grauman’s Chinese Theater (now called the TCL Chinese Theater).  I had been there about 20 + years ago, but it’s still cool to see all the stars on the sidewalk.  My favorite part is the actual hand and foot prints closer to the theater.  Love seeing the really old names!  
Shelly, me and Lisa at the Chinese Theater.  They made me sit down. 
We met Shelly’s husband Alex at Mel’s Diner (Flo was not working that night) not far from Hollywood Boulevard and I had a bowl of chicken soup.  That really hit the spot.  After that we drove back to Newport Beach to drop of Lisa and her boys.  We got back to Shelly’s around 9 p.m. and I went right to bed.  As the night went on I started to feel worse and felt my fever coming back.  I took a couple sniffs of my Sinex and two ibuprofen.  I actually slept great and got up around 8 a.m.  Eleven hours!  Wonderful!  I did get up during the night and the front of my shirt was wet with sweat.  I think my fever broke during the night. 

Sunday I went for a walk around Shelly’s neighborhood, stopping at the Rite Aid for cough drops.  Ahhhh….sunny and 70.  I drove to Newport Beach to meet up with Lisa at her hotel.  We waited for Kendall and her family to arrive from Arizona and had lunch at Wahoo (famous for fish tacos) and then sat around the hotel talking. 
Kendall, Lisa and me.  A Lisa sandwich! 

We met Shelly and her family for dinner at a Buca di Beppo’s in Redondo Beach.  By that time I felt the worst I had all weekend and my fever had returned again.  I ordered a bowl of minestrone soup.  It was good, but was a huge bowl and I had to take some of it home.  I also think it burned my throat a bit, because that night my throat felt so raw and painful.  I had to brace myself to swallow as I lay in bed.  Headed home after dinner and was in bed by 10 p.m.  Took my sniffs of my Sinex and two ibuprofen again.  This time it didn’t work and I did not sleep well. 

Game Day!  Walked to the Rite Aid again and bought generic Day Quill, Ny-Quill and some sore throat lozenges.  Took them after eating an egg, ham and cheese bagel sandwich from the Yum Yum Donut Shop and felt great!  Left the house around 1 p.m.  Picked up Shelly’s stepson and husband along the way and we were off to the Rose Bowl!  We got in fairly quickly and while Shelly and family sat around their car, I ventured off to meet my work friend and his friends at the corporate hospitality tent (free food and drinks!)  Hung with them for about 45 minutes, walked over to Tiger Walk, then walked back to Shelly’s car to hang out a bit before heading into the stadium. 

Shelly and her family
Tiger Walk
It’s such a pretty setting.  It’s got mountains on one side and lots of palm trees all around.  We got in easily and I found my seat quickly.  I met up with my work friend again at our seats. 

Pregame was very cool.  Both bands came out and then John Legend sand the national anthem, complete with fireworks.  Whoa! 
The game started out great, with Auburn up 21-10 at halftime.  Things quickly changed and Florida State started scoring.  We didn’t. I was calm the whole time and kept thinking we’d pull it out.  We didn’t.  The knife in the heart was a 100-yard punt return.  Well, we lived by that in our last game, so I guess it was our time to die by it.  We had enough time to score but didn’t get it done.  Some may call it a heartbreaking loss.  I can understand that the players and coaches will feel heartbroken.  I’ve been there.  But they have so much to be proud of.  What an amazing season!  What an amazing turnaround!  All of the Auburn fans are so proud to be Auburn Tigers! 
Waaaar Eagle!  Hey! 
 I was a bit worried about how cold it would get when the sun went down.  I actually was fairly comfortable the entire game.  I wore my War Eagle skirt, tights, t-shirt, sweatshirt and orange vest.  Late in the game I put my baseball hat on and pulled my hair over my ears a bit.  Other than that, pretty comfy.  Once we got outside the stadium, it was really cold.  Am glad it was a short walk to the car! 

Getting out of the Rose Bowl was fairly easy too.  I must say, this was the easiest transportation championship I’ve ever attended.  Easy peasy!  I was in bed by 11 p.m.  I watched a little bit of game recap but it wasn’t much fun and went to bed.  

Tuesday I got up around 8 a.m., ate some cereal and drove to Venice Beach.  I walked for an hour along the beach and did make it to Muscle Beach.  Very interesting!  It’s a whole weight room for anyone to use, right out in the open.  A few people were working out.  I felt pretty good today (slept ok) and it was nice to be in the sunshine. 

As a side note, while I was gone the Midwest had one of the worst winter storms in 20 years.  We had maybe 10 inches of snow and negative temps.  People lost power and schools/businesses were closed for several days.  I timed it perfectly – out on Sunday, home Wednesday.  By the time I got back everything was starting to get back to normal.  Thankfully, a wonderful neighbor plowed my driveway. 

After my lovely walk by the beach I drove back to Shelly’s.  She and I then drove to the Third Street Promenade, a really nice outdoor mall.  We met Alex at Tender Greens, a farm-to-table restaurant, for lunch.  Great place!  I had a spicy beef Thai salad.  Came back and I laid down for a bit and watched Ellen/took a nap. 

Some interesting happenings during my stay: 
  • At the Rose Bowl I saw a man with a BCS trophy shaped bong. 
  • A girl approached me on Hollywood Boulevard and was in awe.  She asked how tall I was, stood next to me, and said she wanted to be as tall as me.  She was 16 and around 6’3”.  She was very sweet. 
  • As I walked along Venice Beach a man called out, “7 feet!”  I said, “No.”  “6’10”?”  “No”  I kept walking…
  • Regarding the previously-mentioned War Eagle skirt:  I fashioned it out of a pair of polyester pants I took from a room in the Coliseum in the late 80s.  I cut the legs off to make shorts several years ago, but decided I didn’t like the shorts.  I recently had a brilliant idea to make a skirt.  It is fabulous!  I did get one complement on it from a college-age young woman. 

I am so glad I made this trip.  It was expensive, but staying with Shelly helped a ton.  And even though I felt kinda crappy during my time there, at least I was doing something fun and not laying around the house feeling sorry for my sick self.  The sun and warmth did me some good.  I am thankful I got to see my Auburn Tigers play (even if they lost) in the final BCS championship game at the Rose Bowl.  I am more thankful I got to spend time with my college friends.  Lots of things have changed, but we seemed to pick up right where we left off and had a great time together.  War Eagle indeed! 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

#370 P!NK

November 22, 2013

I am probably not your typical music lover in that I don’t buy a lot of music (online or CD).  Heck, I still have an iTunes card that was given to me as a gift about two years ago.  I used to work with a man who bought CDs every Tuesday (that’s when new music comes out – I do know that) and about 10 years ago his estimated CD collection was over 5,000. 

Just because I don’t own a lot of CDs shouldn’t diminish my love of music.  If I “own” you, I really love you.  Last Christmas I got P!NK’s Greatest Hits…So Far!!! CD and loved it.  I’ve always thought in the back of my mind that if she ever came to town I would have to see her.  So last March we heard she was coming and snagged tickets.  And then had to wait eight months to see her.  She did not disappoint. 

I went with some friend, my brother and sister-in-law, and niece, Megan.  Megan came home from school for the concert.  Some of her friends were surprised she was seeing P!NK since Megan mostly listens to country music.  Then they asked her who she was going with.  “My mom and dad, and my aunt.”  She laughed because it sounded so lame to them.  Not, “oh, a bunch of friends” or “my boyfriend” but “my mom and dad.”  LOVE it!  I must say that we are pretty cool for “old” folks.  J 
Weird angle - I have man-hands!
 Back to P!NK - the thing I like most about her is that she is true to herself. She came on the music scene around the same time as Britney Spears, Mandy Moore and Jessica Simpson.  I’m sure she was compared to them a lot – she even mentions being compared to Brittany in her song “Don’t Let Me Get Me”.  “Tired of being compared to damn Britney Spears, she’s so pretty, that just ain’t me.”  In hindsight, she was better off not being like Britney. 

This woman puts on a show.  Sometimes people are all about the show and are not much about the music.  P!NK is superb at both.  She didn’t fly around all the time, but when she did, watch out.  She came out on some bungee cords, later was flying around some caged egg-like thing (with no harness!) and in between was running all over the place.  The stage setting was so cool.  Her outfits were cool too.  They certainly showed off her abs - she is ripped!  She has to be with all her physical feats. 

She ended the show by flying around the arena in a gold one piece suit with super high heels.  The harness was around her waist and allowed her to flip around.  She was flitting here and there and at one point hovered in front of us.  So amazing!

If you ever get a chance to see P!NK, do it.  Tickets aren’t cheap, but SO WHAT?  She’s a ROCK STAR!! 


#369 Are You Read For Some Football? -- Episode Two (Ft. Lauderdale)

November 30, 2013

One of my good friends lives in Ft. Lauderdale.  I met Tammy in high school at the Purdue University women’s basketball camp in 1984 or 1985.  We reconnected when I played on an Athletes In Action team based in Cincinnati and I stayed at her house.  We didn’t know the other was going to be on the team, so it was a nice surprise to see each other again. 

Fast forward almost 30 years and she is now living in Ft. Lauderdale.  Her birthday was coming up and she invited me to visit for her party.  I hadn’t been to see her in maybe 10 years.  Florida in November?  Yes, please!  The party was weekend after Thanksgiving.  After I booked my trip I realized that the Iron Bowl (Auburn vs. Alabama) was that Saturday – the day of her party.  Not that that would have precluded me from going, but when I realized the game was that day I had a small panic attack.  You see, Tammy does not have cable. 

Luckily the game was on CBS and was I relieved that I could stream it on  I came prepared with a laptop and wireless hot spot.  Priorities! 

I flew in that Saturday and spent the afternoon helping her and her boyfriend get ready for the party, which was held at the covered patio area by the pool.  I had my little corner spot for my laptop and was ready for game time. 

The party was a mix of mostly men and a few women.  You would think that the men would have been equally as interested to watch the game as I was.  That was not the case, as most of the men at her party were gay.  And her boyfriend had no interest.  There was one man wearing an Oregon sweatshirt who was excited I had the game on.  We became fast friends. 
The game started at the same time as the party.  I did talk to people and did my best to interact and be social, but I was still pretty focused on the game. 

And what a game it was.  Very close.  Down to the last second.  Which the Alabama coach fought to have added back on the clock.  The score was tied.  If you didn’t hear about it, the Alabama kicker then missed the field goal and the Auburn player ran it back 109 yards with NO TIME on the clock for the winning touchdown.  Unbelievable!! 

By this time the party had wound down and the remaining people had moved up to Tammy’s condo.  One gay guy couple, a couple of Tammy’s women friends, Tammy and me.  A the very last play everyone was crowded around my laptop and they watched me go bananas.  One of the guys said, “Well, that WAS exciting, wasn’t it?”  Hilarious!  I felt like I was on an episode of Will and Grace. 

Tammy’s boyfriend had left before the end of the game to take his daughter home (she lives with his ex-wife).  After he returned, he asked me who won.  I went into detail about the last play and he stopped me and said, “That means nothing to me.  Who won?”  Really??!!  You’re a heterosexual male and you don’t know what I’m talking about?  Missed field goal?  Ran it back 100+ yards for a touchdown?  Are you mental?  Whatever.  Auburn won!  War Eagle!

The remainder of my stay was very eventful.  We drove to the Everglades Sunday and rode mountain bikes along a 14-mile trail in Shark Valley.  It rained the entire drive but was sunny during our bike ride.  Luckily Tammy is close to my height and the bike was a pretty good fit for a short ride.  She told me I didn’t need a helmet but I brought my own to wear.  Safety first! 
Speaking of safety, we rode really close to lots of alligators sunning themselves along the trail.  It was very unnerving.  The trail is one way so when I spotted one I would ride as far as I could on the opposite side of the trail.  It’s crazy how close they were.  We stopped several times to take photos and I always expected them to come after me.  Their inactive time is during the day when it’s hot.  We also did an airboat tour through the everglades.  So cool!  You’re just floating through the grass.  After the half-an-hour ride we watched an alligator show and I even held a baby.  I jokingly acted like I was going to kiss it and the guide warned me to stop.  Like I would really kiss an alligator…

Monday I accompanied Tammy to one of her yoga classes.  She teaches at a couple places.  It was an hour-and-a half-class…and no one else showed up so I had a private class.  We had this giant studio all to ourselves.  She is a great teacher and we had a fun time.  Felt wonderful afterward.  She had another class so I met a mutual friend for a walk and lunch.  I met Barry in New York City when Tammy met my friends and me around 14 years ago.  He’s pretty much been a confirmed bachelor and surprised us all earlier this year when we found out he’d gotten married!  We had lots of laughs and got a long walk in along the beach sidewalk. 

Tuesday I headed home – and, of course, the sun was shining brightly on the drive to the airport.  It rained or was overcast most of the time I was there.  At least it was in the 70s.  It was wonderful to catch up with an “old” friend in person.  I need to not let so much time pass between my next visit!  Happy Birthday Tammy! 


Wednesday, February 5, 2014

#368 Snow Day!

Last night I went to bed with the snow falling fast outside my window.  I woke up at 5:30 a.m. today to go to the bathroom, called my work’s weather line and got the message I had hoped for:  the office was closed!  Snow day! 

As a kid, that was the dream every winter.  When snow was predicted I would listen to the radio waiting to hear my school’s name.  Then it was back to bed, and later on, snowball fights and snow forts outside.  As an adult, the big draw is sleeping in.  Although my guilty pleasure is lying in bed listening to Q95 in the morning. 

I got up at 8:25 a.m., fired up my laptop, and was online and eating cereal by 8:30 a.m.  I did do some work today, and had a conference call scheduled.  It’s always a bit more fun to do work while watching Ellen and Dr. Oz. 

My wonderful neighbor used his snow blower on my driveway, so I didn’t have to shovel this morning.  I did shovel about five inches of snow lasts night and this morning there was around 3-4 more inches.  I helped out my older neighbor by shoveling his front porch and walkway.  I left his driveway for the snow blower. 

I don’t mine shoveling, but I know my back doesn’t like it too much.  I think of it as a good workout and I enjoy being outside.  If you dress appropriately, you can stay pretty comfortable.  I do wish that I had a shovel with a longer handle.  I could probably find one.  The shovel is use is maybe 40 years old.  It has to be!  I got it from my parents and I’m sure it’s as old as I am.  It’s small and metal, but does the job.  I think that it prevents me from lifting too much snow.  If it’s not broken, I don’t need a new one. 

One more thing about snow days.  I know a lot of people are sick of the snow and cold.  We’ve had one of the worst winters in several years.  My attitude is that I live in the Midwest.  It’s going to be cold.  It’s going to snow.  We never know how cold it will be or how much snow we’ll get.  If you don’t like the cold and snow, move.  I do feel bad for older folks or those with limited mobility.  I pray they have friends and family looking out for them.  But for the rest of ya’ll, quit your bitchin’.  And don’t complain when it’s August and 95 degrees. 

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

#367 Are You Ready For Some Football? -- Episode One (Fountain Square)

Now that football season is officially over, I will share some experiences I had during this past season. 

November 16, 2013
Even though I knew a big football game was approaching, I agreed to have dinner with friends to celebrate one of the accompanying friend’s birthdays.  It turned out to be a bigger, more exciting game than anyone expected. 

I kept tabs on the Auburn-Georgia game on my phone and received quarterly updates.  Auburn was way ahead, but Georgia came back strong in the fourth quarter.  We leisurely stopped in shops along Virginia Avenue and finally it was time to hit the Red Lion Groghouse.  Just in time!

There was less than a minute when we sat down and Auburn was losing 36-38.  I asked our waitress to change the channel on the TV next to us to the Auburn game.  Waited.  Nothing.  I asked the hostess to change the channel.  Waited.  Nothing.  OMG someone change the channel!!  FINALLY the game came on.  In time for the very last play.  Auburn had the ball with 25 seconds left.  Nick Marshall threw a 73-yard pass on fourth and 18.  When that ball bounced off of Tray Matthews I screamed.  I just knew it would be intercepted.  But it wasn’t!  Ricardo Louis caught it and ran in for a touchdown!  No way!  I immediately started to sing the Auburn fight song.  All my friends are used to me and have become Auburn fans in their own right, but I was going a little nuts. 

After I calmed down and ordered, a guy came to our table and asked, “Is there an Auburn fan at this table?”  It was a high school classmate (and class president) that had been sitting down at the bar.  Too funny! 

What a game!  War Eagle! 

#366 My Lips Are Syl-ed

My experiment with not wearing any lip balm is over.  It lasted a day-and-a-half. 

Thursday night I stopped at CVS to check out lip balms.  I bought Burt’s Bees.  I didn’t like it.  CVS only had one flavor – with peppermint.  Not only did I not like the peppermint, but after I applied it, I felt like I needed to apply more. 

Friday night I went to basketball game.  While watching, I realized that my lips were peeling and then I began biting some of the skin off my bottom lip.  That didn’t feel good.  On my way home I stopped at Walgreens and found Lypsyl.  It is a natural lip balm made in Sweden.  I got the Vanilla Plum flavor.  I LOVE it.  It goes on smooth and not too sticky.  It lasts a long time.  The flavor is great.  And it has coconut oil and shea butter.  No menthol.

Monday I stopped at Walgreen’s again for other things, and came across a clearance section.  I spotted a tub of Yes To Carrots lip balm that is certified organic.  I bought the Berry flavor.  Yuck!  It tastes (and smells) like lard.  (I know lard – my grandma used to cook with it.)  And I felt like I needed to re-apply it too. 

During my short experiment I realized that like skin, my lips feel (and probably look) better when I moisturize them and take care of them.  I don’t know that I could ever just not wear some kind of moisturizer on my lips.  It’s too painful.  Now that I have found a really good lip balm with better ingredients, I feel better about my “addiction”.  I could be addicted to worse things, right?