Saturday, December 31, 2016

That Rio Thing

I went to Rio this summer.

You might not've known that. I went from not having time to blog to not having any desire to blog to a combination of the two, and suddenly more than half a year has passed since I last posted here (and 2016 is over?) and so much has happened in the interim. (So, so much.) So if we don't talk on a regular basis and/or you don't follow me on Twitter or Instagram (shameless plug), you definitely won't have known that.

So hi, I went to Rio this summer!

It wasn't for the Olympics. It was for the Paralympics. And it was perfect.


In March of 2014 -- after the Sochi Games ended -- I wrote a post titled "I'm Not Crying, I Just Have The Paralympics In My Eye." And honestly? That's more true now than it was when I wrote it. I've been pretty vocal about my support of adaptive sports in the years since, but being at the Paralympics in person... man. I swear the Paralympics are the sports world's best-kept secret. There's a human element to the Paralympics that you just don't get at other sporting events, plus all the drama and elite competition of the Olympics in a smaller, friendlier package that has all the kinks already worked out... it's great. GREAT, I tell you.

Before the Games, people were extremely concerned about what the situation was going to be in Rio; ticket sales were almost nonexistent, logistics were a mess, there were endless budget cuts to try to make ends meet, and on and on and on. But you know what? Venues were packed (packed!), crowds were loud and rowdy, and logistics were a little messy due to those budget cuts but what's life without an adventure and some questionable bus rides? The main press center gave off unfinished vibes and the media shuttle schedules definitely left something to be desired, but I wouldn't even change any of it. To be fair, I did hear stories about some venues being sketchy and honestly kind of scary, but I was lucky and only ended up going to nice ones.


Like, really nice ones.


My job was to help manage USParalympics.org, so most of what I was doing involved sitting behind a computer in the U.S. Paralympics office in the MPC. But I was sent to help out with two sports, which were both unbelievable and totally worth the 14+ hours I worked those days. I spent two mornings at paracanoe, where we didn't medal but our athletes were so beyond overjoyed just to be there that I had to stop myself from getting teary-eyed while talking to them.


And I spent a day at paratriathlon, where we did medal and I ended up smushed against a metal barrier at the finish line so I could snap a picture of a Team USA podium sweep to tweet for USA Triathlon.


Do you ever have those moments when you almost literally have to pinch yourself because you don't understand how what you're witnessing could possibly be real?


And speaking of not understanding how what you're witnessing could possibly be real, guess what else I got to go to!


I finally got to experience an opening ceremony in person! It was phenomenal and I'm obsessed with it and it was every bit as magical as I ever imagined it could be. And what was really great is that I was with a group of people that were just as thrilled about it as I was. ('Cause, y'know, when you're going to check an item off your bucket list, you don't want to be surrounded people who'll mock you when you inevitably cry about it.) We were all working our first Games so we were like kids on Christmas morning, taking pictures of absolutely everything and getting emotional and watching it all unfold in a general state of disbelief.

Related: I worked with the most amazing people. Press officers and web managers and photographers and athlete liaisons, USOC employees and contractors, men and women, Games newbies and veterans... everyone was fantastic. I wasn't expecting that, to be plugged into this unit and bond with them over competitions and bus rides and copious amounts of meat. We were like a weird little family that passed around cold medicine and was always wearing matching clothes.


I'll cut myself off here and write more posts about more specific moments and experiences because holy hell do I have a lot of them (and hundreds of pictures!). But in the meantime, the Games ended months ago and I'm still kinda pining for them... so, y'know, I'm doing about as well as you'd expect. :)

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Monday, May 30, 2016

Perfectionism and Ugly Days


Hi, I'm Darci, and I'm a perfectionist.

I wanted to write a blog post tonight -- because it's the end of the month and apparently my new thing is squeezing a blog post in right at the end of every month, and I didn't want to let May pass without blogging a single time -- and I was struggling so much with it. I didn't have any good ideas. Eventually I sort of settled on writing a "life lately" post, but I couldn't even force myself to start writing it. I sat around all day avoiding Blogger and dreading it.

Why? At first I thought it was because I worked a lot this weekend and was just feeling lazy, which, okay, is definitely part of the reason. But when I thought about it a little more I realized it's because a "life lately" post felt... so weak. When I used to blog three times a week, running out of inspiration every now and then and needing the crutch of an easy post once in awhile made sense. But now I blog once every four weeks! I shouldn't be this stumped! I should have something to say after not blogging for four weeks, I shouldn't need to cobble something together that's lame and unimportant and not all that interesting!

But THEN I thought... why does it matter? This is my blog. I should just do whatever I want with it. I don't need to be perfect every time I post something. I'm not making money off of this, so does it matter whether or not I impress anyone? NO! It doesn't matter! I started blogging because I felt like it, and continued because I enjoy doing it. If I want to write a freaking "life lately" post, and if that's all my wrung-out brain can come up with, that's what I should write! Who cares?!

Answer: me. I care. I'm a perfectionist. If I can't do something well, I will often be loath to do it at all. I'm like this with my blog. I'm like this at work. I'm like this with completely unimportant things like makeup or drawing or doing literally anything. If I won't be able to completely knock a task out of the park, I have to literally force myself to even start it. I am paralyzed by perfectionism. And that's absurd.

So my goal going forward is to be kinder to myself. This summer is about to be INSANE IN THE MEMBRANE -- and not like "woo party!" insane, but like, "I might work 100 hours this week" insane -- and I'm not going to have the time or the energy to beat myself up about... anything, really. My last boss would give me permission to have an "ugly day," i.e. to totally suck at whatever I was doing, to take some of the pressure off, and I need to start doing that for myself. I'm gonna have some ugly days. My first draft of a project at work might be super lame. My blog post might be nothing substantial. But I'm not going to accomplish anything or ever get better if I'm stuck trying to do everything perfectly.

And look at that. My struggles ended up solving the problem I was struggling with in the first place. Ain't that something?

Anyway, that's all from me for now. Hope everyone's been doing well. Give yourself permission to have a few ugly days once in awhile. :)

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Saturday, April 30, 2016

Things I Could Be Doing Instead of Watching Sports

Guys, I have a confession to make: I watch a LOT of sports.

I watch sports for fun. I watch sports for work. I watch sports for fun at work. And when I found myself thinking, "ah, can't do [insert task or activity here] at that time, that's when the game is on," or wondering what on earth I should do with myself on an off day, that's when I realized... I watch a freaking ton of sports.

And that got me thinking. If I watched less sports, I could be doing so many other things! Imagine what I could accomplish if I wasn't spending three hours a day glued to Mets games! There's a whole world of possibilities!


1. Working on this blog. Being a long-distance Mets fan, my only access to games comes via MLB.tv, which I watch on my laptop, which means other Internet activities are very limited. If I had those three hours a day to spend elsewhere, I could maybe write more than one post in a month, update some pages, clean up the broken images... Ugh, I should probably do all of that anyway. This place needs a major facelift. Might be time for some spring cleaning.

2. Sleeping. WHOA, what a wild concept. Instead of staying up late or getting up early to watch an international event I could, y'know, actually get eight hours of sleep. Pretty sure the bags under my eyes would thank me for that one.

3. Reading a book. I did read a book several weeks ago, but you know what it was about? Sports. Surprise! But if I had more free time, I could actually crack open a novel again. (Actually, I should do that either way.)

4. Going outside. Well, maybe not right now because it's snowing. Actually, it might not be snowing, it might just be the brutal wind blowing the snow around. (Yes, it's May tomorrow. Yes, it snows right around May 1st every single year I've lived here. No, I don't know why I'm still surprised.) So needless to say I'll be staying snugly in my apartment for the foreseeable future, thanks. But when the weather has actually been nice, I could've gone exploring (which I really do want to do!). I could've gone to a museum, gotten some culture in my life. I could've gone to see a Rockies game! ...Wait, that defeats the purpose of not watching sports. Damn.

5. Working out. Dude, it has been way too long since I've done any physical activity that isn't climbing four flights of stairs in the parking garage at work. If I wasn't spending so much time watching sports, I could be whipping my butt into shape. On the flip side, I could turn baseball games into workout opportunities; do 10 squats every time the Mets score a run! (Though in light of their 13-1 win yesterday... yikes.)

6. Cooking an actual meal. Raise your hand if you're super lazy in the kitchen! *waves both hands wildly* Most of my cooking lately has involved making a box of pasta and throwing some tomatoes on top of a bowl of spinach. Gourmet, I tell you. If I had a few spare hours, maybe I'd dig up the motivation to spend some time with my crockpot.

7. LITERALLY ANYTHING ELSE. I could watch a movie. I could draw something. I could write in a journal. I could make something in Photoshop. I could pick my nose, for all I care. But no, I spent multiple hours every day stressing out about some athlete or another -- usually multiple athletes simultaneously -- and hoping they do whatever thing they need to do so they/their team can win.

I started writing this blog post this morning, and it wasn't finished until late evening. Why? Well, because I went grocery shopping around noon and then watched the Met game for three hours. And so it goes.

But hey, this is the life I've chosen for myself. Some of this sports-watching pays the bills, which is pretty rad. Some of it is probably going to give me gray hairs and take years off of my life, which is slightly less rad. But all of it is definitely fun.

Catch you on the next off day! *finger guns*

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

An Ode To My First Car

If you had told me several years ago that one day I'd cry over a car, I would've laughed in your face. But here I am, putting off writing this post for two weeks because I'm afraid I can't do my first car-love justice.

Two weeks ago, I cried when my first ever car was towed out of my life.


It's kind of crazy. I bought that car when I moved to Colorado Springs with $2,600 while telling myself, "it's fine, I just need something that can get me eight miles to and from work every day for three months." I named him Buzz and we trundled off into the sunset together.

Three months turned into six months turned into almost three years, me and my reliable old rust bucket of a car. (Oh look, and here I am getting a little weepy again as I'm writing this.)

You know that Liberty Mutual auto insurance commercial with the girl talking about the car named Brad? "You two had been through everything together! Two boyfriends, three jobs, you were like, 'nothing can replace Brad!'" That commercial weirdly resonates in my soul. Buzz was my Brad. Five cubicles, four jobs, three home addresses, two cross-country road trips, and a partridge in a pear tree. Well, no partridges or pear trees. There was a cardboard bobsled, though.

Road trip number two.

My life has gone through a lot of pretty major changes since graduating college, and Buzz was the one constant. It wasn't always smooth sailing, though. There were a few times I wanted to kill him, that one time I worried that I actually did, and that one time I accidentally locked the keys in him while he was running. He never killed me, though. He plowed through snow without any sliding around, he zipped from Colorado to New York getting 30 miles to the gallon, and the one time his engine died he made sure to do it in the parking lot outside my apartment building. He never let me down. (And now I'm misty again. Fantastic.)

But eventually, a 21-year-old car becomes too costly and work-intensive to maintain. There were new brakes, new spark plugs, and all sorts of new gadgets and gizmos that I couldn't even begin to remember the names of. My dad, the saint he is, had been helping me pay for all of it and finally decided enough was enough. He bought himself a (giant) pick-up truck as his midlife crisis and gifted me the car he was moving on from.

I contemplated selling Buzz on Craigslist, but ultimately ended up donating him to Kars 4 Kids. It felt like a fitting next step for a car that had been so good to me for so long; now he gets to go help a worthy cause.

The Kars 4 Kids donation form includes a field that asks about the condition of the car. I said: "Brakes occasionally skid, the AC compressor isn't long for the world, the transmission slips out of overdrive, and it's pretty rusty. But it still runs very well, all things considered."

LOL. Probably time to move on, no?

Nonetheless, it was an extremely bittersweet morning when the tow truck arrived. The driver was a very nice man who's been towing cars for longer than I've been alive, and he was very familiar with people getting sentimental about their cars. Before I could even ask, he offered to take some pictures of me and Buzz in our final moments together and "directed" the whole "photoshoot" (and when my phone mysteriously died, he took them on his and texted them to me afterwards). What a guy.


And then I cried a little bit as I said goodbye to my first car.

Now I'm driving a 2010 Dodge Nitro, an SUV dubbed Thor, who's very big and very nice and who I'm sure will treat me very well. But there's still a small part of me that misses Buzz's comfy seats and crank windows and chipped paint, and I hope he's found a new home somewhere.

The first day and the last day. Goodbye, old friend.

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