Monthly Archives: July 2008

Taking Stock

This morning on my radio they mentioned that it was the last day of July. Of course, I already knew this, but I didn’t really put much thought into it. Until I realized that meant I had 10 days left before I turn 30. Then, I thought about all the things that I had packed into the last 10 years as well as some of the things I’ve seen happen to our world. Then, I thought (yeah, I did a lot of thinking on my way to work this morning) what’s better on a blog than a list…of anything. So I present, for your reading pleasure, 30 things I saw or did or learned in my 20s.

  1. I graduated from college…twice.
  2. I saw Alabama win its 21st SEC championship in football by beating Florida for the second time in the same season.
  3. I worked in Mississippi for MCI WorldCom…before the downfall.
  4. I went to a Backstreet Boys concert.
  5. I had my heart yanked out of me and stomped on…not literally…but you know what I mean…and then…I felt God’s arms wrap around me and put me back together.
  6. I moved to Washington, DC.
  7. I bought a car.
  8. I worked for the Department of Defense.
  9. I witnessed 9/11…in person.
  10. I went to six Bon Jovi concerts.
  11. I had surgery…twice.
  12. I worked for Congress.
  13. I shoveled snow.
  14. I traveled to Arizona, Washington (state), California, Texas, Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, Colorado, Missouri, Massachusetts, and Louisiana…not necessarily in that order.
  15. I worked for great people and horrible people…still work for one of those…guess which one.
  16. I was a bridesmaid…three times.
  17. I saw my best friend go through the worst time in her life, but by the time I turn 30, she will be the happiest she’s ever been.
  18. I saw North Carolina win its 5th basketball national championship…and I saw the Tar Heels play Maryland in College Park three times.
  19. I went to Chapel Hill…a few times.
  20. I saw Peyton Manning play professionally, and I saw the Indianapolis Colts win the Super Bowl.
  21. I met Dallas Clark, Jeff Saturday, Adam Vinatieri, Tony Dungy, Bill Polian, Jim Irsay, and Peyton Manning.
  22. I saw Hurricane Charley tear my hometown apart.
  23. I saw Nelson and Grant come into this world.
  24. I saw my brother live his dream of becoming a basketball coach.
  25. I saw my brother get married and become a father.
  26. I gave my heart away…to my nephew.
  27. I learned to recognize true friendship.
  28. I learned that no matter what they might think, people in their 20s (usually early 20s) DO NOT know everything.
  29. I learned that age does not equate to maturity.
  30. I learned that God doesn’t give you what you want…He gives you what you need.
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50 Things About Me

Found this on my friend Kathryn’s blog and thought I’d give it a try.  Feel free to steal it, too.

1. Do you like blue cheese? No
2. Have you ever been to Yellowstone Park? No
3. Do you own a gun? Nope
4. What are your favorite songs? Bed of Roses (Bon Jovi), The River (Garth Brooks), Listen To Our Hearts (worship song)
5. Do you get nervous before doctor appointments? depends on the reason for the visit…I’m much more relaxed when I go because I’m sick rather than when I go for a physical.
6. What do you think about hot dogs? Love ’em…especially chili dogs
7. Favorite Christmas song? White Christmas (traditional) and O Holy Night (Christian)
8. What do you prefer to drink in the morning? water
9. Can you do push ups? Nope
10. What was the name of your first pet? the stupid dog my parents had who ate my pacifier…but I’m not bitter
11. What’s your favorite piece of jewelry? My grandmother’s wedding rings
12. Favorite hobby? Watching sports or baking
13. Favorite trait of spouse? n/a  I’ll let you know once I have one of those
14. Do you have ADD? No
15. What one trait do you hate about yourself? self-esteem
16. What’s your middle name? Aileen
17. Name 3 thoughts you are thinking at this exact moment? (1) 80 minutes until I can go home (2) I need to stop and get gas on my way home…oh joy (3) tomorrow is trash/recycle day so I have to get that ready when I get home, too.
18. What did you buy yesterday? nothing
19. Favorite vegetable? broccoli
20. Current worry right now? I don’t really worry about a lot…I guess I’m worried that I’m going to be stuck where I am for the rest of my life.
21. Current dislike right now? the Favre/Packers situation
22. Favorite place to be? North Carolina Mountains
23, What did you do to bring in the New Year? I think I watched a bowl game with friends
24. Name three people who will complete this? Guess we’ll find out
25. Believe in God? Definitely
26. Do you have an unusual skill? My brain is full of useless information like the synopsis of all 179 I Love Lucy episodes…I just remember crap like that easily.
27. What shirt are you wearing? Brown and white blouse. 
28. Do you like sleeping on satin sheets? nope…don’t like wearing satin, either.
29. Can you whistle? Yes
30. Favorite color? Red
31. Would you be a pirate? Nope
32. What songs do you sing in the shower? I don’t actually sing in the shower.  I think a lot in the shower, but occasionally I have worship songs running through my head.
33. Favorite girl’s name? Lily
34. Favorite boy’s name? Nathaniel
35. What’s in your pocket right now? If my blackberry counts as being hooked on my pocket, then my blackberry.
36. What made you laugh last? Sammie
38. Worst injury you’ve ever had? sprained ankle
39. Who is your loudest friend? Sammie
40. Do you like where you live? The house I live in, yes…the metropolitan city I live in, no.
41. How many TVs do you have? Three
42. How many dogs do you own? none
43. What would you do if you hit a deer while driving? Probably be thankful I’m still alive (if I am) and then cry and scream.
44. What is your favorite book? Slaughterhouse Five (Kurt Vonegut) and Quiet Strength (Tony Dungy)
45. What is your favorite candy? Dark Chocolate M&M Peanuts…oh who am I kidding…the whole M&M family of products is enjoyable.
46. Favorite Sports Team? Alabama Football, Carolina Basketball, Indianapolis Colts 
47. What were you doing at 12 a.m. this morning? sleepy sleep
48. What was the first thing that you thought of when you woke up this morning? What day is it.
49. What song do you want played at your funeral? In Christ Alone and acoustic version of Home by Daughtry
50. Does someone have a crush on you? If they do, I don’t know about it.

So…did you learn anything about me?

Closing Out July

I can’t truly say that the end of July was as exciting as the beginning/middle of the month, but still a few things happened. Not necessarily to me, but in the world around me and with the subjects that I pay attention to. So, these are my closing remarks for July.

  • FAVRE: Let me preface this “event” by saying that I unequivocally believe that the Packers have a better chance with Favre at QB than they do with Aaron Rodgers at QB. Also, I’m quite sure I’m in the minority on what I’m about to say, but I’m completely comfortable with that, so try not to yell at me for having my opinion. That said…I’m incredibly tired of this whole situation. The battle of words and stubbornness going back and forth is just a bit much, and I really can’t say either side is acting as mature as their ages should indicate they are. I personally think Favre needs to get back on his tractor and ride on home to Mississippi. He made his choice, forced or otherwise, in March, and he needs to own that decision. He’s a big boy, so I find it hard to believe he couldn’t have resisted the Packers’ supposedly forced retirement. Furthermore, his comment that he can’t trust the organization to actually be working on a legitimate trade for him is a little bit of the pot calling the kettle black since the organization trusted him when he said he had given everything he had to the game and the Packers. Also, has anyone bothered to remind Favre that he’s slated to be the Madden cover boy this year? Does he not know that with that cover comes great sacrifice by way of injuries and such?
    • Now for a suggested solution. I think Favre is going about this all wrong. The Packers keep telling him, and the rest of the world, that Aaron Rodgers is their starting QB…no ands, ifs or buts. Ok. Well in that case, that’s the common denominator…the piece of the puzzle that can actually be dealt with. So, with Favre being from Mississippi, I’m sure he’s got some boys who can take care of the situation. I mean the Italian mob is one thing, but few have been able to survive a good old-fashioned redneck beat down without some kind of permanent damage. (I am in no way condoning such actions.)
  • DENVER: I went to Denver for a business conference last week. About a month ago, I checked on the average temperature for July. Supposedly it is 74, so why was it 90 degrees the whole time I was there? The biggest surprise to me was how flat Denver was. I expected to be surrounded by mountains, but really…nothing. Also, I think I could have fit my entire hometown inside the Denver airport. I enjoyed my lunch at Casa Bonita and my steak at Elway’s…highly recommend both if you ever go. The conference was a bit boring, but this was my 5th one of these…none of them have been especially exciting. On a different note, I really had fun catching up with some friends who moved to Denver six years ago for a church planting. It felt so good to be around them, again. I had a bit of trouble getting out of Denver last Friday as my plane couldn’t seem to get off the ground anywhere near on time, and I ended up landing four and a half hours after I was supposed to.
  • COLTS:
    • So, Peyton decided to have surgery to remove an infected bursa sac ten days before training camp started. What planning, sweetheart! Both Peyton and Tony assure us that he won’t miss a snap of the regular season, and I’m rolling with that because if there’s anything I’ve learned in my 14 years of Peyton Manning adoration, it’s that he does not let silly things like injuries get in his way. He’s stubborn as all get out, so I hope two things: (1) he listens to the doctors and (2) when it’s his time to retire, he takes a different route than Favre has. Apparently, there has been a sighting in Terre Haute, IN (site of the Colts Training Camp) after 5 days without him. He is being kept under lock and key with his leg (and knee) immobilized, but he’s there. Maybe now ESPN can stop their Manning missing from training camp watch.
      o The report from training camp is that Jim Sorgi is doing a pretty ok job in Peyton’s absence with the lone exception that he holds onto the ball too long. Just curious if these reporters are familiar with Peyton’s MO with the football. He, too, tends to hold onto the football longer than I’d like sometimes.
    • Word on the streets (the Terre Haute streets not the Philly streets) is that Marvin is back to his old self making quick cuts and catching ridiculous passes. That’s good to hear. I like that he appears ready to rock and roll.
  • AFL: Speaking of rock and roll, the Philadelphia Soul Arena Football League team won the ArenaBowl on Sunday afternoon giving Philadelphia their first sports championship in what I believe is 24 years. The Soul is owned in part by Jon Bon Jovi who was featured quite a bit during the game. I don’t follow Arena Football quite frankly because I don’t have room in my brain to hate another set of referees, but I did watch the championship game and enjoyed getting to see Jon so happy for this team. From everything I’ve read about them since the team was formed in 2004, Jon has tried to create a family-first and community-oriented team…two characteristics I really like. So, kudos to the Jersey boy helping Philly bring a championship back to their city. The parade is on Thursday.
  • ALABAMA FOOTBALL: It’s 32 days until the kick-off of the 2008 season. I’m trying my hardest to actually get excited about it. I think I’ve been unimpressed and annoyed by the last few seasons so much that I’m really just uninterested…or maybe just not looking forward to it. I know Nick Saban didn’t promise us anything but that he would coach our boys when he came to town to be our coach, but I’d just like a few opportunities to be proud to wave the crimson and white. Don’t get me wrong, I wave the colors proudly even when we lose, but that’s usually in support of them fixing whatever is wrong. It’s incredibly sad to me that I’m looking more forward to college basketball starting than college football.
  • COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Speaking of college basketball, midnight madness is less than 12 weeks away. I already feel that the hype surrounding North Carolina is setting us up for a HUGE fall, but I can’t help but be incredibly excited to see them run up and down the court in the Blue again. I really want that championship for all the guys on the team, and hopefully that last disappointment (that is still too painful to speak of) will be the last disappointment they need to get their butts in gear. I truly hope that by the time March madness rolls around the world isn’t against the Tar Heels just because they’re tired of hearing Tyler Hansbrough’s name or even the North Carolina name for that matter. Come on…the kid stayed all four years…that just doesn’t happen any more for kids with his talent level. On the Alabama Basketball front, I’m so happy that Coach Gottfried hired Antoine Pettway as an assistant coach for this season. He’s an alum, and one of the main reasons we made it to the Elite Eight back in 2004, so I figure if anyone can help Coach show them the way, it’s Pettway (no pun intended).
  • AUGUST RECESS: It’s so close I can taste it!

Alright, so that’s all I got to wrap up July. I wish I had more “celebrity” sightings for you…Perhaps next time. I’m hunkering down for the last 12 days of my 20s, and I do have to say that I’ve managed to squeeze quite a bit into these last couple of years. Maybe the first couple of years of the 30s will be just as entertaining. I do know that I’ll be starting them off with a bang…but that’s a surprise for a blog entry to come…you’ll just have to wait and see.

Nothin’ Could Be Finer

I’m just gonna throw this out there at the beginning and get it over with. If I don’t find a way to move to North Carolina before I retire, then that is where I will retire. I spent a good part of my childhood visiting the state in the summers and sometimes Christmas because my mother was born and raised there. I think it may very well be my favorite state in the country with the exception of Duke University and its surrounding city of Durham. So, whenever the opportunity presents itself for me to go back, I jump at it as was the case this past weekend.

UNC opened a new museum honoring its basketball program that will be 99 years young this coming season. It’s been open since January, and how I’ve been able to hold off visiting until now, I’ll never know. I posted the pictures from the museum in my previous post, so check that out. It was really incredibly well done. The time and energy that must have gone into collecting all this memorabilia was off the charts. There is something in that museum from every single player or coach in the history of Carolina basketball. From the center court slab of the 2005 National Championship game to radio announcer Woody Durham’s headset to Vince Carter’s graduation gown to Lennie Rosenbluth’s jersey. Coach Dean Smith gave every bit of his personal collection so it could be put on display and that includes his championship rings. Coach Roy Williams gave his entire suit from 2005 National Championship game complete with that awful tie he wore. (Nothin’ but love for you, Coach.) But that’s not even half of the collection. They have places on the floor that show from where memorable shots were made. They have shoes and basketballs encased in the floor with glass over top. The entire museum floor is a replica of the Dean Dome court. You can listen to radio announcements and videos of classic plays as well as see video from former players and coaches describing their own Carolina basketball experiences. The March Madness room, which has the lights dimmed to near darkness, holds all the trophies from ACC tournaments to NCAA regionals until you get to the end where the five National Championship trophies are on display in their own cases. Walk up to any of them and a video screen pops on to show you the headlines from the win. All of this is great, but the beginning of the museum is really what grabs you.

There’s a short video about Carolina basketball that literally made me cry. Former players and coaches comment throughout about their experiences on game day, but first you get to follow the team out on the floor. Imagine walking behind Tyler Hansbrough from the locker room to the tunnel where your pace is picked up to a slight jog and once you exit that tunnel and step onto the hardwood just seriously think of what nearly 22,000 people screaming in a dome sounds like and you’ll know what the roar was like. As the video progresses, players will tell you how they feel about running out of the tunnel. The one that stuck with me the most was Antawn Jamison who said that he has never felt the same way in his entire career as he did when he ran out of that tunnel at Carolina. “Incredible” and “phenomenal” are the only two words that remotely do it justice. Plus, the whole dang experience is FREE.

So that was mid-day Thursday, and after we left the museum I wanted to go over to the basketball office to see the current ACC tournament trophy (They keep the most current trophies in there.). We got a treat because Tyler’s Wooden Award was in there, too. As we were exiting the Dean Dome to go back to our cars, on the other end of the sidewalk I saw what appeared to be Tyler Hansbrough himself walking into the Koury Natatorium where the athletic training room is located. I was within earshot, but I was so stunned that it was him I couldn’t actually get myself to yell his name. Following closely behind him were Marc Campbell, Bobby Frasor, Wayne Ellington, S&C coach Jonas Sahratian, Jack Wooten, and Danny Green. By the time Danny Green was bringing up the rear, I was able to snap myself out of my trance long enough to hug him and tell him welcome back. Though I would have supported Danny, Ty, and Wayne in the NBA if they’d really gone, I prefer to see them in Carolina blue for as long as possible. I’ve been to Chapel Hill more times than I can count and NEVER seen a basketball player. This is mainly due to the fact that I usually to go in the summer when they’re not in an accessible location, but I’m still kicking myself that I wasn’t capable of yelling at Tyler enough to get his attention and meet him. My mother did manage to ask Bobby how his knee was doing (He was just cleared to play 5 on 5 after tearing his ACL in December).

After our team sighting, I spent the rest of the day saying, “I saw Tyler Hansbrough” until I drove my parents crazy. I swear I felt like a 12 year old kid who’d attended a basketball camp where he was a counselor. I could hardly believe my luck. In any case, we moved on to Franklin Street where I spent WAY TOO much money on Carolina shirts and stuff, but I have a new stress ball that looks like a miniature basketball with the interlocking NC printed on it. And, I think I now have enough shirts to wear one for the first two weeks of the season without wearing the same one twice.  My favorite is probably my Psycho T t-shirt that says Man, Myth, Legend on the front and He’s BAAAAACK on the back.

So, after all that, we headed to China Grove. My mother grew up in Kannapolis, home of Dale Earnhardt, Sr., even though my mother was born there first. China Grove is just down the road a spell from Kannapolis. There we spent the next few days with my mom’s best friend and her family as well as visited with some of mom’s cousins and my uncle. On Friday we went to Charlotte Motor Speedway (it will not and should not ever be called Lowe’s on this website). I’ve been there before, but never took the tour. That was great fun because they take you around the track in 15 passenger vans, and they start off at the highest point on the banking (24 degrees), so that it feels like you’re practically parallel with the track. We topped out at 85mph (probably would have time travelled if we’d gotten to 88), and our tour guide (a recent Carolina graduate) said to add another 100mph to that and we’d have the actual race speed. NO THANK YOU! I thought we were going a bit fast at 85, but I can tell you that’s the fastest I’ve ever gone a mile and a half in my life. We also visited Hendrick Motorsports just about a mile and a half from the speedway where they have two of Jeff Gordon’s Daytona-winning cars on display as well as his inaugural Brickyard-winning car. I got to see all his Winston Cup championship trophies and noted that there was a space next to the last one where another one would fit quite nicely. 

Then, Sunday came and I had to snap back to reality and come home, but not without one more stopover in Chapel Hill on my way back up 85 to Virginia. I had a few reasons for going back: (1) I wanted to go to the Student Store, which I discovered was open on Sundays, (2) I wanted to see the Boshamer Stadium (baseball) construction site to see how it was coming along, and (3) I wanted to see if I took a different way back from Chapel Hill would it take more, less, or the same amount of time as it took us to get down there on Thursday morning. Ok…and, yes…secretly I was hoping to see Tyler Hansbrough, again.

I made it to Chapel Hill with about an hour to kill before the store opened, so I just drove around the campus. I saw Boshamer. It looks really great and is coming along nicely. I found the student store, so I’d know where I needed to go when it did open. I drove around the Dean Dome a couple times because I can never get enough of that place. There were a bunch of camps going on, so lots of kids and parents and counselors.

The UNC business school is right by the Dean Dome, so I decided to just drive around there as well since I had the time. I must say, I went to one of the most beautiful campuses in the country, in my opinion, at Alabama. Even the new buildings still feature the antebellum architecture of the old south. It’s quite picturesque. That said, I have never been jealous of someone’s business school until I drove around the UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School. I mean there are no big columns out front or gigantic sweeping staircases, but it’s massive and regal just the same. With the exception of the giant hill I’d have had to climb every day to get to class, I think I would have enjoyed going to school there. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t decide on Alabama until I saw the campus. Had I done the same with UNC, the campus would have sold me on them as well.

Moving on, I finally used up my time before the Student Store opened. I walked around in the store for about 20 or 30 minutes. I bought a few things, and then I got back in my car ready to go home slightly bummed that I had pressed my luck and didn’t see Tyler, again. Now, I must preface this next part by saying that only because I subscribe to Inside Carolina Magazine do I know what kind of vehicle Tyler drives. A couple months ago they did a feature article on him, and a lot of the pictures in the article were of Tyler standing next to his big black truck which had, of course, a Missouri license tag seeing as he’s from Poplar Bluff, MO. Not truly believing I would actually see him out driving around, I was jokingly looking at every black truck I passed while I was in Chapel Hill, but after going to the store, I was ready to head back to the interstate. However, when I got stopped trying to turn left on one road because pedestrians were walking in front of me, I noticed a big black truck at the stop sign on the street I was trying to turn on to, so just for laughs, I looked down at the license tag. Wouldn’t you know it was a Missouri tag, and just at that moment the truck turned the corner and drove passed me. The driver’s side window was rolled down and there was Tyler in a Carolina blue t-shirt talking to whomever the heck was in the car with him and me with nowhere on earth to turn around. The latter, in hindsight, is probably a good thing. I certainly don’t need to go chasing a college kid down in my car in a town where I don’t really know my way around. Oh well…maybe one day I will get to meet Tyler, shake his hand, and tell him how thankful I am for him giving us all four years of his NCAA eligibility. That’s really all I want to do.

Of course, all of this really hacked me off because now I had seen him twice and couldn’t put myself in a position to meet him because I was so stunned that I saw him in the first place. The traffic on 95 didn’t help my mood, but overall it was a great weekend in North Carolina, a place where I wish I actually lived.

Oh well…a girl can dream, can’t she………….

Carolina Basketball Museum

My pictures from the new Carolina Basketball Museum.  It was phenomenal.  More stories about my time in Chapel Hill and North Carolina in general to come.

RAFA!

It finally happened.  I believed he could do it.  He believed he could do it.  But the latter was the only one that mattered.  Rafael Nadal did more than just win the 2008 Wimbledon Championship yesterday, and although I would have loved seeing Marat Safin defeat Roger Federer in the semis on Friday, Rafa finally winning a grand slam championship on grass and against Federer turned out to be even sweeter.  I kind of felt yesterday the way I felt when the Colts finally beat the Patriots in Foxborough.  In celebration of Rafa’s triumph, I’ve put together a top ten list.

TOP TEN REASONS I’M HAPPY ABOUT RAFA’S WIMBLEDON WIN AND YOU SHOULD BE, TOO:

  1. Roger Federer is a pompous jerk.  In Sunday’s Washington Post, when asked about his less than perfect play in earlier tournaments this year, Roger Federer responded by saying, “I’m on an incredible winning streak on grass.  First, somebody has to be able to break that, you know, before we start talking differently.”  To me, this is just more evidence of the arrogance that Roger Federer typically espouses.  I realize he’s partly stating fact, but he didn’t have to practically say he’s unbeatable. 
  2. Roger Federer has had a four and a half year long strong hold on the men’s singles #1 ranking.  That puts him in the category of “we’re just plain sick of seeing you dominate the sport.  Give someone else a chance, you big bully.”  That four years coupled with his winning of the last five Wimbledon championships is enough to pull for any of his opponents even when it’s not sweet Rafa.
  3. Rafa’s reaction to the win was priceless.  Rafa may be one of the most humble athletes around.  Sure he’s excited when he wins, and he displays that in ways that are really fun to watch like yesterday when he dropped his racket and collapsed to the ground, spread eagle with exhaustion and disbelief that he’d actually held on long enough to win Wimbledon.       

    And after all his time of competing with Roger, I wondered how much was excitement over winning and how much was excitement over defeating Roger on grass.  When asked about defeating Roger, Rafa said simply, “He’s still number one.  He’s still the best. He’s still [a] five-time champion here. Right now, I have only one.”  Even during his post match press conference, Rafa said that while he was elated to win, he was sad for Roger because if anyone knows what it is like to come in second at Wimbledon after playing your heart out, it’s Rafa.  After the trophy presentation and about a million pictures, Rafa gathered his belongings to exit the court, but an usher came over to tell him that one of the Wimbledon staff would be carrying his bags off the court for him.  He just needed to carry the trophy.  I wouldn’t be surprised if he slept with that trophy last night considering the way he cradled it ever so tightly to his chest.  Even after that, rather than going straight to the locker room and his awaiting press conference, he stepped outside to sign autographs to about a dozen fans.  I kind of think he didn’t know what to do with himself.
  4. He just won the biggest championship in tennis and all he wanted was a hug.  Instead of sitting on the sidelines awaiting the trophy presentation or thanking the crowd following the match (which he did a little later), Rafa climbed up to his family’s box in the stands to hug his mom, dad, and uncle/coach Toni. 
     

    His uncle has been his coach since Toni introduced Rafa to the sport at age three.  In this sport where players seem to change coaches as often as they change socks, I have to commend Rafa for sticking with the person that got him where he is now.  Rafa was born and raised on the Spanish island of Majorca.  And though he’s 22 years old and has earned nearly $20 million in prize money over his career, he still lives at home with his family.  It is his family that has kept him grounded, has kept him humble, has kept his focus on being the best tennis player he can be (after his schoolwork was completed).  Plus, he’s been able to accomplish something that no one in Hollywood seems to be able to do: he’s had a girlfriend for the last three years that no one knew about until recent photos of them swimming together in Majorca were published.
  5. The boy is a beast.  The Washington Post describes Rafa as “a left-handed slugger, who punishes the ball like a heavyweight boxer.”  He is incredibly muscular, sporting, in my opinion, the best arms in all of tennis. 

    I enjoy watching tennis, but I enjoy it more when the players move into the net.  Rafa likes to play this aggressive style and provides more action than say the Roger Federer’s who hate moving away from the baseline.
  6. His name is now mentioned in the same breath with Bjorn Borg.  No matter who won yesterday, Bjorn Borg was going to be part of the story.  Had Roger won he would have taken sole ownership of the record for consecutive Wimbledon championships at six and be only one championship behind Pete Sampras’s non-consecutive total of 7.  However, since Rafa won, Borg and Rafa become the only two men in the Open Era to win both the French Open and Wimbledon in the same year. 
  7. He didn’t let tennis buy and sell him. Rafa was well on his way to the masterful player we see today by the age of 12.  When Rafa was 14, the Spanish tennis federation wanted him to leave home and train in Barcelona.  But his parents and uncles, worried about his education suffering, turned them down, which meant losing financial support from the federation.  Instead, his father paid for his training. Some claim that the decision to stay at home was crucial to his development into the player he is today because he took his training much more seriously playing at least twice a day and competing regularly.  As a result, he was ranked in the top 50 worldwide by the age of 16.
  8. He cleans up rather nicely.  Now, personally, if there ever was a 22 year old that at my age I was allowed to think was HOT, it would be Rafa.  Even when he’s playing and he’s all sweaty, which is not a turn on for me, he’s still downright adorable.  However, Sunday night, Rafa attended the Champions Dinner in a tuxedo.

    He may have long hair, but don’t let the long hair fool you.  Long hair DOES NOT equate to delinquency.  He’s a very intelligent, normal kid who just happens to play doggone good tennis.  Over the last couple years, tennis fans have watched as his grasp of the English language has developed.  He still says, “no,” at the end of most of his statements, but that to me is a great testament to who he is.  He may learn our language, but he’s still going to be Majorca’s golden boy.
  9. He never stopped believing he could win.  No matter how many of us said, “I think this is Rafa’s year,” or “I think Rafa can beat Roger,” we all still had our little doubts in the back of our mind because there’s always some part of us that says, “but, it’s Roger Federer.  He will not go quietly.”  I’m as guilty of it as the next guy.  When the first rain delay hit, I was certain that it would give Roger a chance to regroup and come back from his two-set deficit, and I was right.  I was thankful for the second rain delay because I thought at that point Rafa needed it more.  When the daylight was fading into the dusk and darkness, I didn’t think they’d get to finish the match.  And I truly believed that if they had to come back on Monday, Rafa wouldn’t be able to pull it out.  But Rafa never really showed any doubts.  He never seemed to be shaken by Roger holding serve and winning two tiebreaks.  He just kept going as if to say, “no matter what it takes, no matter how long I have to be out here, I am going to win this match.”  Psychology in sports is more than half the battle, and Rafa won that one easily Sunday night in the longest match in Wimbledon Championship history.  Rafa’s critics believed that winning on grass for him was still years away, but four hours and fourty-eight minutes of playing time later (with two rain delays and nearly 8 hours from when the broadcast actually started), he proved them wrong.
  10. He was proud to make his country proud.  It has been 42 years since a Spaniard won the Wimbledon Championship.  Manolo Santana beat sixth seeded R.D. Ralston in three sets in the 1966 Wimbledon Championship, and until Sunday night, the well had been dry.  “It’s impossible to describe,” said Nadal. “It’s a dream. When I was a kid I dreamed of playing here. But to win here? For any player — but for the Spanish especially — it is a dream.”  After he climbed into his family’s box for that hug, he walked across the roof of a media box to Spain’s royal box to shake the hands of Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia.

    They greeted him with open arms just like he was their own flesh and blood.  After 42 years, I’d say that’s not far from the truth.

Many of the commentators and analysts have pronounced Sunday night’s match as the best display of tennis competition they’ve ever seen.  I can’t argue with that, especially if it means getting to see Rafa finally mow over his grass demons.

Jazzed for July

I don’t know why, but I woke up this morning incredibly excited that it was July.  Maybe it’s just because I happen to like the start of a new month or maybe I’m just a freak.  I’m leaning towards the latter.  Either way, I thought I’d throw out a little fun lovin’ tidbits and things I’ve been thinking about.  Now that I have my friend Sammie back at work, I have someone to bounce these things off of before I publicize them to the world-at-large.  Here’s some of what passed:

  • McDonald’s recently introduced their knock off of the Chick-fil-A sandwich.  I was a bit skeptical at first because it was a knock off and really there is no substitute for Chick-fil-A.  That said, I decided to try it anyway because I can’t hate a food unless I’ve tried it, and I’m actually a McDonald’s girl when it comes to choosing between them and Burger King or Wendy’s.  Their fries are the best and every now and then (not often) I just get a craving for a quarter pounder with cheese.  Anyway, the McDonald’s chicken sandwich really isn’t half bad, and qualifies as next best thing when there is no Chick-fil-A around.  Here’s my theory: Chick-fil-A is not open on Sundays for reasons that I completely agree with.  However, even as a Christian, I get cravings for Chick-fil-A on Sundays.  Next time that happens, I’m going to McDonald’s. 
  • Lincoln had a check up at the doctor yesterday.  He is now over 29 inches long, which is in the 95th percentile for height…Well on his way to being giant sized to go along with his giant personality. 🙂
  • Traffic during my commute has gotten considerably better since the last day of school.  Even though it’s summer and lots of tourists who REALLY don’t know how to drive are on the roads (on top of the people who live here and STILL don’t know how to drive), it’s been ok.  Until yesterday.  At the Pentagon, they have a police officer who directs traffic at the intersection where cars come in and out of the parking lot from I-395.  In the summer, I think the Pentagon employs rent-a-cops for this duty because the line of traffic getting off at the Pentagon can back up a good 1/2 a mile or more.  And though traffic isn’t at a stand still, traffic can be stop and go from where I get on (10 miles away) all the way to the Pentagon because of the line.  If I wasn’t trying to get to work, I’d probably stop and tell the cop that he’s backing traffic up those 10 miles, but I have better things to do with my time.
  • My parents arrive on Thursday afternoon for a week.  They’ll be here for the 4th.  Dad is going to the AT&T National (sans Tiger) Golf Tournament on the 5th.  Perhaps ole Lefty can make the cut this year, and Dad can follow him around instead.  Mom and I will be shopping that day!  Can’t wait.  Then on the 10th, the three of us are driving down to North Carolina for a visit.  We’re stopping in Chapel Hill for a visit to the new Carolina Basketball Museum.  I CANNOT WAIT!  Everything I’ve heard about it from people who have been there is fantastic.  I even found one review from someone who said it was better than the Louvre.  Since I haven’t been to either, I’ll take his word for it.  🙂  From what I understand, the museum experience starts out with a behind the scenes look at getting ready for tip-off where the camera acts as a player and the viewers get to “run out on the court” with the team via the footage.  After that, we’ll stop where my mom grew up and visit family and friends, and I’ll come back on Sunday when mom and dad leave for home.  It’s a mini-vacation for me.
  • Speaking of Carolina…Tyler Hansbrough wins the WHAT PLANET ARE YOU FROM award for this go around.  I was reading this article on ESPN.com about how this year’s NCAA basketball teams will have more upperclassmen than we’ve see in college basketball in years.  Tyler Hansbrough is, of course, one of them.  Andy Glockner (who wrote the article) spoke with Tyler about why he chose to return:
    • “I really enjoy going to school and being around my teammates, so it wasn’t necessary for me to leave, and I didn’t feel like I needed anybody or anything,” Hansbrough said. “I love the situation here. It’s going to be tough to beat that, so I figure I can wait one more year and improve on a lot of different things and hopefully be in a better situation next year for when I do have to go.”
    • So I ask you, what planet are you from that makes you think graduating from college and moving on to the NBA is best described with the phrase “HAVE TO GO?”  I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating: I LOVE THIS KID if for no other reason but that he publicly admits he has no use for the NBA.
  • Yesterday, New York and Bon Jovi announced that the band would be giving a free concert in Central Park as part of the MLB All-Star game at Yankee Stadium.  I wish I could go, but (1) you have to pick up your ticket from Yankee or Shea Stadium and (2) Central Park is not exactly my cup of tea…at least not at night with that many of my closest Bon Jovi brethren around me.  It will be pretty awesome though, and I’m hoping that at least a little bit of it will be televised on the All-Star coverage.  Perhaps Bon Jovi will put out a DVD of the concert like Garth Brooks did when he had his free Central Park concert. 
  • Also on the music front: Mr. Telephone Man‘s got the right stuff, baby.  According to People.com, New Kids on the Block and New Edition cut a track together for the upcoming NKOTB album.
  • So Shaun Alexander was cut by the Seattle Seahawks at the beginning of the off season, and now the Orlando Sentinel is speculating that the reason he can’t find a team to pick him up on the free agency market is because he’s a Christian.  As a Christian myself and a football fan, I dearly hope this is not true.  I’m leaning more towards the 30+ year old running back being the issue.  However, Shaun Alexander has never failed to sign every single one of his autographs with Psalm 37:4 (Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.).  More than that, Shaun has lived that verse every day of his life, so regardless of what the reason is for NFL teams shunning this spectacular athlete, I choose to believe that where ever he lands in life is exactly where the Lord wants him to be, which is all Shaun has ever asked for. 
  • Finally, thoughts and prayers go out to my friend Lynden’s mom who is having surgery for ovarian cancer today.  So, if you have a moment and you pray, please lift her up.  Thanks!