The More Things Change, The More They Stay the Same

Hello friends!

If that photo didn't give you a hint, I'm back in Colorado and officially a resident of Colorado Springs again. And I'm thrilled! But it's also really, really weird.

It reminds me of the beginning of my sophomore year of college. I was SO EXCITED to get back to school, and see my friends, and go back to all my favorite places, and it was going to be just like freshman year and be THE ABSOLUTE BEST. But then I got there, and I was living in a different building, and going to different classes, and it was just different even though I was in the same place with the same people. I was basically homesick for the way things were. I got over it, of course, but it was a jarring few days of adjusting.

It's exactly like that now. I'm back in the same city with (most of) the same people, but everything else is wildly different. I'm living in northern Colorado Springs and will be working in central Colorado Springs, as opposed to the opposite. I have a shared apartment instead of a room in a dorm, and my friends are 10 miles away in that dorm, if not scattered around the city. I have to cook for myself and clean the bathroom that I don't have to share with an entire floor's worth of people. I'll be driving past the USA Volleyball office every day on my way to my new job. I brought my dad to see the OTC yesterday, only to discover that I couldn't get into any of the facilities! All buildings now require badge access (hello, new development) and there was a new security guy at the front and, what the heck, I so do not live there anymore.

It's weird and kind of emotional and weird. Did I mention that it's weird?

But it's going to be awesome. Seriously. My roommate is fantastic, and on Thursday she leaves for Sochi and will be gone for almost all of February, so I'll have the apartment to myself! Speaking of the apartment, I'm pretty stoked to no longer need shower shoes. And have an absurdly large closet. And all sorts of other apartment-y things. It's kind of hard furnishing a room when you have no idea how long you'll be living there, but I'm pretty happy with it! It just needs some stuff hanging on the walls and it'll be home.

I'll return soon with pictures and stories from the road trips and move-in day, but for now, I'm feeling feel-y, so that's what you get. :) Can't wait to settle into my new normal!

Hope your last five days have involved less driving, heavy lifting and general stress than mine have! (Unless you're into that sort of thing. Hey, no judgment here.)

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The Post That Was A Lifetime In the Making

I love my birthday. Why, you ask? Not because of parties or gifts or being showered in attention or any of that. Actually, being showered in attention makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I digress. I love my birthday because every four years, February 21st falls within the Winter Olympics, of course! And it's not even bias speaking when I say my birthday has a pretty sweet Olympic history, even just in my lifetime. We don't even need to talk about the fact that in 1980 my (future) birthday was Miracle on Ice eve! ;)

1991: I was born. Pretty good day, or so I hear.

1992: Kristi Yamaguchi won the gold medal in ladies' figure skating. (It's destiny, I tell you.)

1994: Torvill and Dean regained their amateur status, making them eligible to compete again, and won the bronze medal in ice dancing. It may not've been Bolero, but it was still legendary.

1998: On the eve of my birthday, Tara Lipinski beat Michelle Kwan for the gold medal in ladies' figure skating (and this is my first Olympic memory!). On the day of my birthday, Christine Witty won bronze in the long track speed skating 1000m.

2002: My fellow Long Island girl Sarah Hughes won gold in ladies' figure skating! (I was in fifth grade and stayed up way past my bedtime to watch with my cousin Molly. Sarah won at around midnight and we legitimately woke up the rest of my house with our joyous shrieking and dancing and throwing pillows in the air. Oops?)

2006: Total baller Shani Davis won silver in the long track speed skating 1500m, and Chad Hedrick took bronze.

2010: On the eve of my birthday, Apolo Ohno became the most decorated American Winter Olympian of all time. Can I get a WOOP WOOP?! And on the day of my birthday, Meryl Davis and Charlie White killed it in their original dance, and my girl Jen Rodriguez skated in the long track 1500m.

In the last few years, as I've began to take control over the direction of my life, I've managed to work Olympic-y things into my birthday even in non-Winter Olympic years.

2011: I got to interview Amy Deem about her appointment as Team USA's head women's track coach for London 2012. And it was awesome!

2012: Worked a shift at London 2012 Ceremonies. And it was awesome!

Then 2013 came, and my birthday was a total anticlimax. I had a cold, and was busy literally from 9 a.m. until midnight. It was so utterly not fun. But 2014 is going to make up for that a thousandfold. Why, you ask?

Because I'll be spending the day working (what I'm assuming will be) crazy hours out of this building:

I can't believe I can finally say this, but I'm an employee of the United States Olympic Committee! Through the end of May, I'll be working as a content assistant in the digital media department. So basically, dream job status! (Minus the whole "temporary" thing, but look, we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.)

This, of course, means that I'm in some scary uncharted territory. I started this blog with getting a job at the USOC as my goal, and now... I've achieved that goal. What the heck?! I guess that means I need to make a disclaimer and be all professional, or something?

*This blog is entirely unaffiliated with the United States Olympic Committee. All opinions and feels are entirely my own. Future content will probably contain less Olympic-y stuff because, heck, even I need some variety in my life (and because I don't want to risk violating my employer's social media policy and getting fired).*

That covers my bases, right?

In a week from today, I'll be moving into my new digs; a room in an apartment with one of my intern friends' supervisors as my roommate. The Colorado Springs world and the Olympic movement is freakishly small, my friends. My dad and I get to pile everything back into Buzz and reverse our cross-country road trip almost exactly a month after the first one. And all of this will be right after shedding my safety blankets with a new haircut and a new pair of glasses. This has all happened incredibly fast and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't overwhelmed.

But holy uncontainable excitement, Batman! My first job without "intern" attached to the title, and it's exactly what I want to be doing. Again, temporary, but still. Wow. Who the heck does that happen to? Sheesh.

Funemployment, we've had our day. Time to start livin' the dream!
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Mayhem And A Miracle

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Wait, somebody's already used that lede? Shoot. 

Like any good saga, this one begins MONTHS ago -- like, still-living-in-Miami months ago -- when I randomly discovered That '80s Show. Basically, it's an autograph signing/meet-and-greet with athletes from the 1980s, and this one was featuring about three quarters of the Miracle on Ice hockey team. And it was being held in New Jersey, an hour away from where I live, in December. Um, twist my arm! It immediately went into my mental calendar. I planned on going, come hell or high water. (Lol, oh, little did I know.)

Several months go by and, lo and behold, my internship (in Colorado) gets extended through the end of December. But when have I ever let a little thing like that get in my way of something I want to do?! I gathered up my airline miles, cashed in a half day off of work won in the Halloween costume contest, bought tickets to meet three of my favorite players (Jim Craig, Buzz Schneider and Mark Johnson!), and prepared to fly home for a weekend (on Friday the 13th). Craziest thing I've ever done? ...Er, yes, probably. (What does it say about me that I have to seriously think about the answer to that question?) But I did this responsibly!

And then disaster struck. During my layover, I checked the event's Facebook page only to see that 20 minutes earlier, the event had been postponed due to an impending snowstorm.

Y'know, there's something about morosely eating McDonald's in the Dallas airport that makes you question your life choices.

The airline wouldn't let me just turn around and go back to Colorado Springs, so I spent a few days at home for no real reason. I DID marathon all three Toy Storys with my dad, though, so it wasn't a total loss. But whatever. Let's not talk about it.

This past weekend was the new date for the event, which was a great silver lining for being home! Mark Johnson had canceled, though, and Jim and Buzz were now going to be there on different days, which meant trekking into New Jersey TWICE, but whatever! It was happening! I was psyched! And on Saturday, I woke up to my dad telling me that Buzz the car had just gotten a clean bill of health from his mechanic just in time for me to go meet Buzz the person. Perfection.

My plan was to take the LIRR into Penn Station in New York City and take the subway to Port Authority, where I'd catch a NJ Transit bus to where I needed to be. Everything was going like clockwork until I hopped off the C train at Port Authority and realized...

My phone was gone.

I effing got pickpocketed! For the first time ever! In my home city! I can't even explain to you how angry I was. Still am. Forever will be. UGH UGH UGH UGH UGHHHHHH.

Thankfully I managed to keep my head and immediately headed for a payphone -- 'cause apparently they still exist! -- to call my parents. They had my phone suspended and disabled and whatever the heck else, while I now faced figuring out New Jersey sans communication, internet and Google maps.

I managed to remember which bus I needed and which stop to get off at without a problem... but never fear, problems abounded as soon as I got off the bus. I'd Google mapped the route from the bus stop to the venue before I left my house and thought it looked super easy... but lol, not so much. I was lost, man.

So there I was, wandering around Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, without a cell phone, in a cold drizzle. I asked four different people I ran into for directions and, I kid you not, each of them barely spoke English. I found myself walking along a highway without a sidewalk, and slogging through muddy puddles, and slipping on ice remaining from last week's deep freeze... and, since I didn't have a phone, I didn't know what time it was. I had budgeted a ton of extra time into my schedule, but I had no clue how long anything had taken once I left Port Authority. It was a very real possibility that I wasn't going to make it in time for Buzz's 2:00 signing start time. Or, y'know, that I'd get hit by a car. I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried.

But at long last, I found the venue. Soaking wet and borderline emotional, yes, but I finally arrived. And at 2:02, no less! I picked up my tickets, bought a photo to get signed, and headed inside. The signings were done in groups hour by hour rather than all at once, so from 2-3 it was Buzz, Dave Christian, Eric Strobel, Mike Ramsey and Neal Broten. And hey, there they were!

Note all the Devils fans lining up for Broten. :)
I was finally starting to get excited again! Which meant I had to figure out what I was going to say to Buzz when it was my turn to meet him. My plan since May had been to tell him about my car, but I'd been hesitant about coming across as creepy and weird. But then I thought, well, the day had already gone to hell in a handbasket. If Buzz thought I was a total weirdo, it couldn't make it any worse, right?

I had a little bit of a wait before my ticket was called, but it wasn't too long before I was approaching the table. Buzz is seriously the most friendly-looking person on the planet, so without even thinking I greeted him with, "Hi! How are you?" Because, you know, that's a totally normal thing to say when meeting one of your heroes. He signed my photo, and I got the guy behind me in line to take a photo of us together. :)

I may've looked and felt like a drowned rat, but I totally couldn't care less! :D (That also happens to be Eric Strobel in the background.)

And then I opened my mouth.

"I don't mean for this to sound creepy... but I named my car after you."

He burst out laughing, actually looking utterly delighted. "Oh! I sure hope it's still running!"

"Oh, it is, it's a good one! It's definitely living up to it's namesake!"

Still grinning and chuckling, he said, "You just made my day!"

And you, Mr. Schneider, just made mine. (Which totally isn't saying much, considering how craptastic it had been up until that point, but that's so not the point.) I made his day! Sheesh. So, uh, that went far better than I'd imagined it would! I smiled to myself all the way home, even as I had to awkwardly use a payphone in the middle of Penn Station.

Yesterday, I headed back out there way too bright and early, armed with my dad's iPhone and a renewed paranoia about every person I came into contact with. Since I now sort of knew where I was going (and had Google maps at my disposal! Woop woop!), I made it to the venue with close to an hour to spare, though windswept to within an inch of my life. Seriously, New Jersey, what the heck? But hey, there was no walking along the highway, no ice, and only minimal puddles!

I decided to sit in the lobby and kill some time before heading into the show. After about half an hour I hopped into an empty elevator, and when the doors opened on the correct floor... there he was.

Jim Craig. Standing right in front of me. Waiting for my elevator.

Like I said in this post, if you want to feel like your stomach dissolved, run into your favorite athlete unexpectedly.

We made eye contact. Smiled at each other. I got off the elevator, and he got on. We had a moment.

 I was totally content with my experience already at this point, but y'know, I figured I might as well get what I came for! So I headed inside to wait and was greeted with the sight of about a million people more than the day before. And I finally had the wherewithal to take some appropriately bloggy photos.

Unsurprisingly, there was quite a wait to meet Jim, but I'd also purchased a ticket for a photo opp (necessary, yes? Yes). Those were being done before he started signing and, due to the crowds and some general confusion, I ended up being the last person to get a photo with him. They'd actually brought him to his seat already, and had to bring him back just for me. Heh, whoops? :)

I was surprisingly calm, considering that meeting this guy is on my bucket list. But he's so. freaking. nice. After a lifetime of meeting fans, it'd make sense that he's kind of over it... but he isn't. He was insanely friendly and his smile looked totally genuine. When I walked up to him, he greeted me with, "Hi! How are you?" Like, uh, exactly what I'd said to Buzz the day before. Cue Twilight Zone music. I somehow gathered my brain cells enough to respond, "I'm good! How are you?" So, y'know, he said he's good too, and then the photographer did his thing!

Drowned rat in one, windswept in the other, and I still don't care!

Afterwards, he turned and shook my hand. "It was nice to meet you."

Yet again, my jaw scraped the ground. "It was nice to meet you too."

He smiled. "Have a great day!"

Well, Mr. Craig, I didn't get a phone stolen from me today and I'm going to be getting your autograph within the hour. So I'd say my day is going to be A-OK!

Of course, I didn't actually say all that.

(I wonder if he was that nice to everyone. Not to say that I'm super special or anything, but I was a girl there by herself in a room mostly full of older men. And his kids are right around my age, so I wonder if I was meeting Jim Craig the dad. Or maybe he's just well-practiced enough at this kind of thing to know how to put people at ease. Whatever it was, I was thrilled. THRILLED.)

After that, it was a whole lot of waiting. Autograph tickets were numbered, with the idea being that they'd call numbers to minimize waiting time. Well, after 45 minutes, numbers 1-40 had been called. I was ticket #59, and there was a guy near me with #123. Sheesh, talk about time management, folks. That left 15 minutes to get through at least 80 people. Cool.

So, the autograph signing basically turned into an assembly line. I got my photo signed at 11:59, and there was no real time to chat with him. :( That was a major bummer, especially since I didn't actually say anything when I was one-on-one with him. But he was so wonderful that I'm finding it hard to stay too upset!

And with that, this nutso epic finally came to an end. I finished off the weekend with a pint at an awesome Irish pub in Times Square with some of my study abroad friends, and it was great. :)

All in all, I don't think I'm a fan of the whole autograph signing "show" thing. I mean, they charged money for everything. Want to get into the event? Money. Want an autograph? Money. Want it personalized? Money. Want a photo with the player? Money. And let's be real, it was a ton of effort too. So this is definitely not going to become a regular thing for me at all. But to meet the players I met? Heck, I'll treasure these memories forever.

Verdict: so, so worth it.

(...And if you have an old iPhone that's looking for a new home, gimme a holler. For realz.)

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Sports Things I Don't Understand

Sports are generally pretty easy to understand. Ball in hoop/puck in net/dude crossing home plate/etc. = points. Athlete/team with most points wins. Or, even easier, athlete/team that crosses line first wins. Simple! Which is why, when the sports world ceases to make sense, it boggles my mind almost more than the thing that doesn't make sense.

photo via
+ The National Baseball Hall of Fame's rules. Every year when voting rolls around, I'm reminded how strange the whole system is. Players are voted on by the baseball writers and must be on at least 75% of ballots to be inducted. Players are on the ballot for 15 years, at which point, if they aren't voted in, they're removed from the ballot. If a player, at any point, receives fewer than 5% of votes, they're removed from the ballot. All of this makes me wish I'd paid better attention in calculus.

Also, if you want to talk about bogus, this year Craig Biggio received votes from 74.8% of writers and wasn't voted in. He was short TWO VOTES! Come on, you can't round up from 74.8 to 75?! What. the. heck? I don't even particularly care about Biggio, but this is ridiculous.

But then -- then! -- there's also the Veterans Committee, that "provides an opportunity for Hall of Fame enshrinement to all individuals who are eligible for induction but ineligible for consideration by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA)." Checks and balances? What is this, a federal government?

So basically, if the planets are aligned perfectly and there's a solar eclipse and the vote occurs on the third Thursday of the month and you squint and tilt your head a little bit... you have a chance at getting into the hall of fame! Congrats!

+Lithuania's Olympic basketball uniforms in Barcelona 1992. I knew nothing about this until last week, and guys, I'm wondering how this gem has managed to slip through the cracks of history. In 1992, Lithuania was newly separated from the Soviet Union and just about as broke as I am. So they hooked up with a new sponsor: The Grateful Dead. The band. And please, feast your eyes on the glorious product that resulted.

Let's take another look.

How 'bout a close-up on that bad boy?

Lithuania won bronze in 1992, and wore these beauties on the medal podium. At the Olympics. How is this real? But the better question is how is this so awesome?

+"Downs" in football. I don't understand a lot about football, namely why anyone would want to play a sport that will almost definitely lead to ridiculous brain damage, but my issue today lies with downs. More specifically, the use of the word "down." It's all well and good to get four chances to make it a certain number of yards... but why in the whole wide world of vocabulary would someone decide that a team gets four downs to get a first down? Could we, like, maybe pick different words to describe different things? Or does that just make too much sense?

+People think poker is a sport. Seriously. I just... how? It's a game. And I'm sure it's entertaining, if you like that sort of thing, but...

Unless you're saying "the men sported at the poker table" (in which case, god bless), "poker" and "sport" don't really belong together.

+People don't think curling is a sport. Unless you've tried it, you don't know. I went curling once, and...

...that's what my knee looked like afterward. Those bruises remained for about a month and a half. The people you watch curling on TV during the Olympics do it so effortlessly that they sort of make you forget that the surface they're playing on is, uh, ice. So don't hate on curling, 'cause it is difficult and most definitely involves both physical exertion AND skill. (And if you plan on attending a "learn to curl" session in the future, bring kneepads. You're welcome.)

So tell me, readers: is there anything about the sports world that YOU don't understand? Let's be hopelessly confused together.

Venus Trapped in Mars
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Tackling 2014: 12 Goals for 12 Months

Well, it's 2014, and it feels like I'm starting from scratch. This is the first year of my life that, as of right now, is filled with... nothing. Zilch. No school to go to, no job to go to, just 12 pages of emptiness in my calendar. Let me tell you, it's bizarre. And for someone who likes to have a plan -- and who is more productive when there's a ton of stuff to do -- it's really disconcerting.

I don't usually make a list of goals for the new year, but heck, what better time than now to give it a try? It's up to me to keep myself on track now! It'll be entirely too easy to spend every day for the foreseeable future sleeping late, being a vegetable on the couch and feeling sorry for myself. And if there's anything that keeps me on task, it's a good old fashioned list. (You should see the number of Post Its I go through.)

This year, my motivation has to come entirely from myself, so I've come up with 12 goals. Not a month-by-month thing (though if I could get #1 done in January, that'd be greaaaaat), I'm just slightly obsessive compulsive like that.

...Yep, that about covers it.

This is an emphatic almost-number-one on my list, firstly because I just plain have too much. I can't unpack the stuff I had with me in Colorado because there's literally no room for it. Second, my room has been a temporary stop for me for the last four and a half years, and I haven't lived there for more than a week at a time since last winter. I'm actually cleaning cobwebs off the walls! I need to make it habitable again; no more just leaving stuff on the floor with the excuse that it's just temporary. And third, this is my childhood bedroom, but I'm not a child anymore. There's no reason for me to still have random toys and posters and crap from when my age was in the single digits! I need a ton of garbage bags and a ruthless lack of attachment. And then I need to update everything. Turn my desk into an actual workplace, make my bulletin board an inspiration board, and maybe hit Pinterest for some decorating inspiration. It's a huge task, but I'm actually kind of looking forward to taking a few solid days and making my room mine.

Yes, hello, stereotypical New Year's resolution! But this isn't about weight. This is about getting back into shape. I used to work out regularly in college... but then my last semester happened and I was running flat-out just to barely keep up with my classes, internship, job and thesis. And then I went right from college to "the real world," and the only things I wanted to do after work were eat dinner and get into my pajamas. Besides climbing the Incline in August, let's not even talk about how sedentary I've been! But now? I've got the time and full access to my mom's workout DVD collection. I have zero excuse not to pop in a Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels workout and kick. my. butt.

Okay, I'm so serious about this, you guys. I won't have anywhere I need to be, nor do I have many high school friends left here (or, y'know, period), so I won't really have much of a social life either. So when plans present themselves, I need to ignore all of my introverted tendencies and take advantage of them. I also need to invent reasons for myself to put on real clothes and get out into society, even if it's just a me-date to a coffee shop or a public ice skating session.

I read a ton during the summer of 2012 and during my lunch breaks these last few months, and it always makes me feel good; more cultured, more intelligent, more creative, and more accomplished. And hey, going to the library is another way to get myself out of the house! Two birds with one stone!

I finally got a little more serious about blogging this summer, and it's been really fun and incredibly rewarding. I'm not sure I'm totally on board with spreadsheets and scheduling and pouring money into sponsorships, but I want to create good content, post more consistently, tweak my design a little bit, make blogger friends and, of course, grow my readership! :)

"Productive TV time" sounds kind of ridiculous, but I've been meaning to expand my repertoire of sports movies. I also want to dig into my stack of old VHS tapes of figure skating shows! I might be trying to be a grown-up, but a healthy dose of nostalgia never hurt anyone! And besides, you haven't lived until you've seen Kristi Yamaguchi and Kurt Browning in Aladdin on Ice. #truth

Ever since I was in sixth grade, I've been growing my hair and cutting off 10 inches every year and a half(ish) to donate to Locks of Love. I don't think I've done the big chop since well before I went to London -- two years ago, omg -- so this is seriously overdue. My hair is way too long and it's beginning to take over my life. And I've had the same glasses frames since... god, probably my sophomore or junior year of high school. High school! Basically, I need to freshen up my appearance so I look like a put-together adult. Fake it 'til you make it, right?

I'm the epitome of a night owl. I can happily stay up until 3 a.m. and sleep until 1 p.m. the next day if left to my own devices. But I'm never productive on days like that. My goal is to go to sleep by midnight and get up at 9 a.m. every weekday. Nine hours is more than enough sleep, and it'll give me plenty of morning to work with and knock out those job searching tasks. In that vein...

I'm the epitome of Newton's first law: when at rest, I stay at rest, and when in motion, I stay in motion. I'm so much more productive when I have a ton of stuff to do. So if I wake up every day with no set plan, I will accomplish absolutely nothing, ever. I need to set aside specific times to work out, do job search stuff, etc. to make sure it actually happens.

After a lifetime of being an overachiever, it's really hard to swallow that I'm now unemployed. But I can't let myself think of this as failure or be jealous of friends that are "more successful." Everyone's on a different path, and this is mine. I've got to make the most of this bump in the road. It's only failure if I let it become one.

Dreamin' big! :P But for real, I read this post on All Things E, and I loved the idea of setting a small, specific task to do every day that will positively impact me in some way. What better thing to tackle than my anxiety about my teeth and gums? First step flossing, next step the world!

What are your goals for this year? :)

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