5 People I'd Pay $30 To Meet

Earlier this week, I was chatting with Brandon and we ended up on the topic of how I met Jim Craig and Buzz Schneider. Brandon has met Jim Craig for professional reasons, and got to interview him (and also Mike Eruzione and Mark Johnson and let's. not. talk about it.), while I met them at an autograph show for about $30 apiece. Always one to defend my own sanity, I mentioned that the list of people I would pay $30 to meet is very short. I mean, it was on my bucket list to meet Jim, and I named my car after Buzz. I'd only pay to meet people who are very near and dear to my heart.

That prompted quite an interesting discussion as we both mulled over who exactly we would be willing to pay $30 to meet. This "meeting" means an autograph, a picture and a brief conversation. It was actually kind of hard to even make a list at all, and took a good amount of thinking, but I finally came up with my picks!

5 People I'd Pay $30 To Meet

Kristi Yamaguchi

For some reason, I fell in love with Kristi when I was barely older than a toddler. Actually, I think that reason may have been because she played Jasmine in Aladdin on Ice. I'd really love to meet her just so I could tell her I wrote to her when I was five. And that she wrote back to me. Aaaaand that I still have the note she sent me.

Apolo Ohno

I loooove Apolo. I think of him whenever I yawn particularly big. Is that weird? What can I even say about this dude? He's probably my favorite modern-day Olympian, and he will forever hold a place in my heart.

Mark Pavelich

I feel like I mention Pav really super frequently on this blog (or maybe I'm just confusing this with Tumblr...), but that's because he gives me all the feels. I mean, not only was he an absolutely ridiculously talented hockey player, he's short and quiet, so I feel like we're kindred spirits. And in addition to that, he's kind of a hermit, so if he were ever to emerge and do an autograph signing, I'd pay that $30 in a heartbeat. Hell, I'd pay several times that! And probably cry tears of joy.

Eric Heiden

Personally, I'm more in awe of Eric's Olympic achievements than pretty much anyone else's in the history of ever. By far. I mean, hello, he swept every speed skating gold medal! Let Usain Bolt start winning marathons in addition to the 100m and then we'll talk about greatest Olympic achievements! But wow, if I ever get to meet Eric Heiden, I'll have to work really hard to pretend I'm not starstruck.

Dick Fosbury

If you're looking for a guy that singlehandedly changed the face of his sport forever, this is him. All high jumpers now use the technique first developed by Dick Fosbury. No exceptions. It's pretty amazing. He's the definition of revolutionary. And legendary. And probably a bunch of other -arys.

If we're being real about this, I could've easily included a solid half of the Miracle on Ice hockey team on this list (especially since my Jim Craig and Buzz Schneider extravaganza was originally supposed to include Mark Johnson). And I would've included R.A. Dickey, but I've already met him... for free. Aw yes. :)

What's kind of interesting is that I think there are different tiers of being willing to pay to meet someone. The people I listed are the people I'd pay to meet without even thinking about it, hands down, no questions asked, willing to go by myself. But I'm sure there are more great athletes I'd decide to pay to meet after weighing the situation a little, and rolling it around in my brain. (See also: John Carlos. You can't say no to meeting a legend like that!)

I also tried to think of non-athletes I'd pay $30 to meet, but I only came up with two: Jon Bon Jovi and J.K. Rowling. So clearly we know where my priorities lie!

What about you, friends? Who would you pay $30 to meet?

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Liebster Award, Blogger Love & Information Overload

I'm taking a break from applying for jobs to do something exceedingly more enjoyable -- I was nominated for the Liebster Award! Twice! Within a week! I feel so loved (which, uh, is kind of what "liebster" means in German, so that's appropriate)!

Pretty much every blogger and their mom has already been nominated, so for any non-bloggy people reading this, here's the deal. It's sort of a blogger pay-it-forward kind of situation. It's a way for bloggers to recognize other small bloggers, and when a blogger is nominated, they then pass it along to others. I was nominated by Christina at Route Bliss and Caity at Where the Heart Is. They're both super awesome and you should check out both of their blogs -- Christina takes the most beautiful photos, and Caity is in the process of moving to London. :)

There are a bunch of different "versions" of this award floating around, and my nominations are two different versions. One involves answering 11 questions, saying 11 facts about yourself and nominating 11 bloggers (and asking them 11 questions). The other involves answering five questions, making up five questions and nominating five bloggers. So I'm going to get creative and make up my own rules: I'll answer Christina's 11 questions, use Caity's questions as half of my 11 facts about myself, nominate five bloggers (because, like I said, everyone and their mom has already been nominated) and ask 11 questions.

So basically, get ready to learn everything you've ever wanted to know about me. Probably more, actually.

Liebster Award

Here are the rules (that I've seen most often):
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Thank the blogger(s) that nominated you and link back to their blog.
3. Answer 11 questions asked by your nominator.
4. Write 11 facts about yourself.
5. Nominate 11 other blogs with fewer than 1,000 followers and ask them 11 questions.

Here are Christina's questions:

1. Name one thing on your bucket list you want to accomplish in the next year.
I don't really have a cut-and-dry bucket list. I mean, I have an Olympic bucket list, but a lot of those things are kind of difficult to accomplish at this point in my life. However, I'd really love to visit another Olympic city in the next year!

2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn't really know. I was never that kid that was like "I want to be a teacher!!!1!!!11!" But fun story: in my fifth grade yearbook, we each had our career aspirations printed underneath our photo, and mine said "author and Olympic athlete." So apparently I did sort of know what I ultimately wanted to do... just without knowing it, haha. Good thing I'm still the exact same person I was when I was 11!

3. If you could have any job in the world now, would you do what you do now or something else?
Considering my answer to the previous question... lol. I'd love to continue doing what I'm doing. (Except I'd make it a permanent job, not a temporary one. Sigh.)

4. Coffee or tea?
Coffee in the morning, iced tea during the day and hot tea at night! :) But tea ultimately wins.

5. Favorite international accent to listen to?
British. Living in London for five months was so wonderful for so many reasons, and this was definitely one of them!

6. Favorite place in the U.S. you've been (or dream of visiting)?
I think I have to be an incredibly biased New Yorker and say New York City.

New York City

7. What was your worst travel experience?
Getting stuck in Paris. Ugh. The plan was to take a train to Venice, but they were all booked, so we had to fly, and basically EasyJet screwed us. And an extra several hundred dollars later, we were in Venice. I'm still kind of bitter about that whole situation. #Parisgate2012

8. Do you prefer to receive cut flowers or flowers with the roots still attached?
Hmmm. With the roots attached, I guess. Those last longer!

9. Favorite animal?
I'm not really sure. But having a pet bird has sure made me a bird person.

10. Would you rather get a tattoo or piercing?
A piercing, definitely. The permanence of tattoos makes me itchy.

11. What's the worst job you've ever had?
I haven't really had any bad jobs! I guess by default it would be my job at the gym, since it's the only one I ever had that wasn't related to my career goals. But I worked there for four years and it was honestly a pretty good job.

Working at the wellness center
Working really hard at the ol' wellness center. Though in all seriousness, I got a ton of homework and reading done there!

Here are Caity's questions:

1. What made you start blogging?
I've sort of blogged forever, since those cringe-worthy Xanga days. Yikes. But I started this blog when I started taking control of the direction of my life and doing cool things. I wanted to document 'em!

2. What song is a full-blast, must sing at the top of your lungs in the car?
I don't really sing in the car, because I think my own voice is that bad. But there's one song I always sing along to, and that's Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Classic rock radio for the win.

3. When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Answered! :)

4. If you could visit anywhere, where would you go?
See this list. Literally anywhere on there!

5. What do you want to accomplish in the next five years?
I want to be happy. The definition of that is pretty much always changing, but in five years I'd like to be able to look at my life and be content with where I am and where I'm going.

Six more facts about me:

1. I regularly eat kale with every meal of the day. In my smoothies for breakfast, in my wraps/sandwiches I make for lunch, and as salad with dinner.

Actual texts I received last week.

2. I have slept on the street in the name of fandom several times. One time was for the better part of a week. Not even sorry.

3. If I'm ever upset, I just watch clips of Whose Line is it Anyway on YouTube. That literally fixes anything.

4. My favorite book is The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak. I read it for the first time two years ago and it basically ripped my still-beating heart out of my chest and threw it into a wood chipper. It's beautiful. Pretty much flawless. The writing style is phenomenal, and somehow you're surprised by what happens even though the narrator (which is Death, by the way) tells you what's going to happen right in the beginning. So GO READ IT!

5. I took Italian from seventh grade all the way through high school, and had the same teacher for all four years of high school... and some of his frequently uttered sayings still creep into my vocabulary every now and then; "andiamo" (let's go) and "abbiamo finito" (we're finished).

6. I love cities where I can just hop on the subway and get where I need to go. Walkability is a plus too, but give me London's tube, or NYC's subway, or Paris' metro, or Berlin's U-bahn, etc. Good public transportation for the eternal win.

Adventures on the tube in London

Bloggers I nominate:
Amanda and Carly @ Our Shelf Lives
Lauren @ lauren elyse CAN
Polly @ A Girl and Her Travels
Jess @ Stamp In My Passport
Sarah @ Shades of Sarah

My 11 questions:
1. If you could only listen to one band/musical artist ever again, who would it be?
2. What's your favorite travel memory?
3. What's the best meal you've ever eaten? The worst?
4. Name a book that's changed your life. (Bonus points for telling us why or how!)
5. If you could choose any career, what would it be?
6. What website do you waste most of your time on?
7. List five people that, if they were holding a meet-and-greet, you would pay money for a ticket to meet them.
8. What movies can you recite line-for-line?
9. Which Hogwarts house are you in? Tell us how your personality fits that house!
10. What's one item you couldn't live without?
11. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?

WHEW. If you're still reading this, you're the bomb dot com. Thanks for sticking with me, and thanks again to Caity and Christina for the nominations! :)

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A Peek Inside My Reporter's Notebook

Back in 2011 (uh, how was it so long ago?!), I was on the editorial staff of The Hurricane, the school newspaper of the University of Miami. On one weekend, we all crammed into several cars and drove the few hours north to Orlando for the National College Media Convention. It was here that I was gifted my first ever reporter's notebook.

Reporter's notebook
*heavenly chorus*

Prior to this historic moment, I'd been taking interview notes in a full-sized spiral notebook. How amateur, right? While I'm still a fan of bigger notebooks, this little baby was all too easy to stuff inside a small bag and carry with me 24/7. So I did.

I used it in every session at that conference to take notes, and it subsequently accompanied me on site visits for my classes in London...

Notes taken in my reporter's notebook during Architecture of London class
Hot mess. You try taking notes while simultaneously walking around a city and freezing your fingers off.

...to any and all UM sporting events I worked...

Notes taken in my reporter's notebook at Miami Hurricanes games
Also a hot mess. From left to right, basketball, soccer and tennis.

...to the Miami Heat, Marlins and Sony Open press boxes...

Notes taken in my reporter's notebook at a Miami Heat game
Heat game that went into triple overtime, heyyooo. #fundeadline

...to my USA Volleyball internship...

Notes taken in my reporter's notebook during my USA Volleyball internship

 ...and everywhere in between.

Notes taken in my reporter's notebook during interviews with speed skaters Jen Rodriguez and Eddy Alvarez
Still two of my favorite interviews I've ever done. :)

Poetically, I finished it off with my last interview for USAV on my last day as an intern. Saaad day.

Needless to say, that little notebook contains some good stuff. I recorded most of my interviews, though, so all of those are just lists of questions. Pretty dull. But I've been to a pretty decent number of conferences, classes, museums, and various other things that I collected info from. And what use is all of that if that stuff just sits there? So I pulled some of my favorite little tidbits to share with the world. (Or, y'know, however many people decide to read this post. Same thing.)

+ "Speak your mind even if your voice shakes."

+"Write about things you're interested in. If you can't get excited about it, don't do it."

+"You can make anything interesting."

+"Do great work where you are right now."

+The top of Big Ben tower is more ornate than the rest of the building because it can be seen from far away, and it not so subtly says "Britain is the most important country in the world."

+Buckingham Palace is a rather nondescript building that was never considered a regal place for the royals to live, but is more about the memory of Queen Victoria.

+"What! You're still looking at 'things' instead of what 'things' are doing?"

+"You are here-ish."

+"The term for a mind at work without the softening influence of the heart is... 'stupid.'"

+"In this house it is not what you see, but what you have only just missed and are being asked to imagine."

+"It matters how you write, not what you write."

+"If you don't say out loud what you want, nobody's going to give it to you."

Notes taken in my reporter's notebook during London 2012 Ceremonies volunteer orientation
My personal favorites, of course, from Steve Boyd at London 2012 Ceremonies volunteer orientation. :)

It's kind of cool getting to flip through three years of my life and collecting some wisdom from it. Hopefully my current notebook gets to have an equally cool life! :)

(Info/quote sources: 1-4 ACP/CMA; 5-6 Architecture of London class; 7-10 Dennis Severs' House; 11-12 Her Campus National Intercollegiette Conference 2012)
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From NYC 2012 to Bids for 2024

Has everyone heard that there's officially a short list of potential American bid cities for the 2024 Olympics? Because there is. And I am ALL OF THE EXCITED!

Me and American Olympic bids go way back. I can't really say I had much attachment to the Chicago 2016 campaign -- though I do remember where I was and what I was doing when I found out that Rio won -- but I was very attached to ye olde NYC 2012 campaign. In fact, there was a support rally in Rockefeller Center on my birthday in 2005. So guess where my mom, brother and I were to ring in my 14th year of life!

NYC 2012 Olympic rally at Rockefeller Center in New York City
image source -- Any photos that my mom and I may or may not have taken have since disappeared into the void of time.

All I remember is a ridiculous amount of people and being way too short to be able to see anything happening. My mom just informed me that Oksana Baiul skated during the rally, and I'll believe her. But what sticks in my mind is being crammed in a crowd with thousands of people, the freezing, dreary gray weather and my uncontrollable excitement that neither of those things could dampen. And we still have those flags displayed in our dining room.

NYC 2012 Olympic candidate city rally flags

I was pretty thrilled when New York City randomly (and belatedly) decided it would look into potentially bidding for 2024... but that interest was then withdrawn about a week later. Womp womp. I was all ready to break out the Sharpies and self-edit these flags to say 2024 instead of 2012. But NYC and Philly bowed out early, and Dallas and San Diego were eliminated by the USOC, which leaves us with the final four: Boston, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C.

Short list of potential American bid cities for the 2024 Olympics

Woohoo! I have to say that I'd absolutely love for an east coast city to win it, but my extremely early prediction is Los Angeles. They've already hosted the Olympics twice (and the Games in 1984 forever changed the face of the Olympics), and they're probably the safe option. Considering Tokyo won the 2020 Games as the safe option, safe is a pretty attractive look right now. And please, look at this logo and tell me it's not BEAUTIFUL!

But at the same time, Boston is a huge sports city, and Washington, D.C. is no slouch either, so I think it's really anybody's game at this point. I know nothing about any city's proposal or anything -- literally, I know nothing -- but my gut right now is going with L.A.

In other, unrelated Team USA news, how 'bout that World Cup? There's a watch party/spirit day going on at work tomorrow in honor of USA vs. Ghana, and I'm trying to figure out how to work my American flag socks into the equation. I'm feelin' the American spirit right now.

American flag socks

I'm just really excited to get this 2024 show on the road. I was 11 the last time the Olympics were held in America. We need to fix that situation!

Which city would you like to see move forward in the bidding process? :)

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What I Do... And What People Say About It

So, I don't know if you folks have realized, but I have a bit of a different career goal than most people you come across. And if there's anything I've learned, it's that saying "I want to work in the Olympic movement" is not a phrase people expect to hear when they ask about your life. Color me shocked, right? And, if we're being honest here, working in the Olympic movement isn't really something a ton of people totally understand.

In the six-plus years I've (consciously) been on this path, I've noticed a number of responses and/or misconceptions keep cropping up. So I thought I'd take this opportunity to address 'em, and explain what it is I actually do.

Team USA and London 2012 Ceremonies gear

...Besides be ridiculous, of course.

Response #1: "WOW, how glamorous and exciting!"

Well, thanks! I'm flattered that you think so! But this isn't quite true. I mean, anything involving talking to Kerri Walsh Jennings sure sounds glamorous, but the bottom line is that it's still a desk job. What I'm working on is definitely more exciting than what most people in other fields are working on (in my totally biased opinion, of course!), but I'm still in my cubicle from 8-5 every day. And when I'm not in my cubicle, I'm working from home at 3 o'clock in the morning on a Saturday. Unless passing out on your couch at 7:30 p.m. is your idea of glamour, this job ain't it. But I'll be the first to tell you that I do have a really cool job. :)

Response #2: "Sweet! So, what do you do?"

Things with words! That's a lame answer, but since I'm still in that gray, temporary-employee area, I don't know what my "real" career is actually going to look like. But in my various positions, I've written stories, I've posted stories, I've done all manner of social media things, I've created and updated athlete bios, and I make a mean photo gallery. Among other "duties as assigned" (including helping Brandon decide what he wants to eat for lunch on an almost everyday basis).

Gallery of Sochi's 100 most memorable images
Shameless plug. You should go look at this one. :) Kay thanks.

Response #3: "Oh, so you only want to work once every four years? LAWL."

I don't know if I only heard this once, or if it was more than once, but it sure stuck with me! 'Cause everything about it is painfully wrong!

First and foremost, the Olympics are every two years, not every four years. Check yourself.

And second, do we really think that the Olympics just suddenly pop into existence? That everything happens out of nowhere? I mean, think about it. Ignoring the fact that the International Olympic Committee, United States Olympic Committee, and all the other National Olympic Committees around the world are companies that permanently exist and employ thousands of people full-time, cities are already contemplating bids for 2024. That's TEN YEARS away, folks. The IOC will pick a final list of candidates in 2015, and will award the Games in 2017 (a solid seven years before they take place). In those two years, cities spend millions of dollars figuring out branding and logistics and drawing up a plan as to how everything would work. If a city is successful, it only has seven years to update its infrastructure and build new facilities and design the ceremonies and everything else involving putting that plan into action. Hell, when I joined London 2012 Ceremonies, the staff there talked about things that happened in the office several years previously. And that was just the ceremonies! And those amazing people worked every day of the week, sometimes for 12 hours a day, for months on end.

We're just coming up on two years out from Rio 2016 and Seb Coe has gone on record to say that, should Rio not be ready in time, it's already too late to think of moving the 2016 Games to London. Because two years is simply not enough time, even with a solid chunk of the venues still existing.

As a very wise man once said, "The Olympics is the most complex peacetime venture. The only thing more complex than the Olympics is a war."

Sorting bibs at London 2012 Ceremonies
(A peacetime venture involving a whole heck of a lot of bibs to sort.)

Response #4: "Oh, cool! ...Why?"

Er, because I totally hate the Olympics and never want anything to do with it ever again for the rest of my life. #obviously

In all seriousness... because this is what I'm passionate about. They say that what you do in your free time is what you should be doing with your life. And in my free time, I google Mark Pavelich and dig into past Olympic bids and get giddy about the Mexico City 1968 logo and and and. I mean, I do this less now that I do Olympic things all day at work (because even I have a threshold), but doesn't it make sense to enjoy what you do?

And also? There's absolutely like those "USA! USA! USA!" chants, bro.

Who do you play for? The United States of America!

Respone #5: "You're kind of unhealthily obsessed."

First of all, thanks so much for passing so much judgment on my character! I certainly appreciate it.

How about NO

Secondly, I'd like to point out that Malcolm Gladwell said that it takes about 10,000 hours of practice to achieve mastery in a field. Considering my blog has been quoted as an academic source (woop woop! Thanks Jo!), and people at the USOC refer to me as an Olympic expert... y'know, I think I'm doing pretty okay for myself. Sorry not sorry if it makes you uncomfortable. *drops mic*

Does anyone else get these (or other strange) responses about your career goals?

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"When A Man Is Tired Of London, He Is Tired Of Life"

Two years ago today, I was studying abroad in London, but only barely. I don't remember what day my last final was, but either way, school was now officially over (even though classes had finished at the end of March. You go, England!). My friends and I had finished at different points over the last several weeks, but finally everyone was "on the island." And some of us still had several glorious, school-free days left of London to soak up. I didn't leave until June 9th, which was the day they kicked us out of our flats. My visa expired a week later, at which point I would've been kicked out of the country, so I guess it worked out. :P

If you know me or my blog even a little bit, it's no secret that I miss London desperately. My time there was the best five months of my life. Even now, two years later, I can't find the words for it. So much of who I am now and what I've accomplished stems from my study abroad experience; it was my first time living in an apartment and cooking for myself, it was the first time I spent any significant amount of time doing things alone (because who cared if nobody wanted to go with me? I wasn't about to waste a day in London!), it was the first time I was in charge of all my own travel arrangements, and it was the first time I was involved with the Olympic movement. I feel like I really grew into myself while I was abroad, and it sure didn't hurt that I fell head-over-heels in love with the city. (Seriously though. If I could, I'd be on the next plane there. Wouldn't even pack. I'd just hit up Primark when I landed.)

It also didn't hurt that I happened to stumble into friendships with some of the most awesome human beings you could ever hope to meet.


But all my blog posts from back in the day are mostly words. Words that I'm forever grateful that I wrote, because my whole experience is so well documented, but I really skimped on the pictures. So today we have a giant London photo dump! #sorrynotsorry (I could've easily included another several thousand, so be grateful I have some modicum of self control. You're welcome.)

I'm trying not to be sad about not being there, and just revel in the happy memories; not a single bad day in five full months. But I'd be lying if I said I wasn't currently looking at these pictures and pretending the lump in my throat is due to my tea being too hot. (Tea with milk in it, FYI. British habits die hard.)

Silhouettes in Trafalgar Square
St. Paul's Cathedral and Millennium Bridge at night
Trafalgar Square and Big Ben
3 Mills Studios
London 2012 Olympic Park - Olympic Stadium and the Orbit tower
View from Greenwich Observatory
The British Museum and Chinatown
Queen Mary, University of London on a snowy evening
Buckingham Palace
Queen Mary, University of London on a snowy evening
The Shard and Borough Market
The Natural History Museum
The Harry Potter Studio Tour, and friends!
Queen Mary, University of London on a snowy evening
The tube, Mile End station and South Kensington station
Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament at night
The Hunger Games world premiere and the maze at Leeds Castle
Queen Mary, University of London
Inside and outside of city hall
Queen Mary, University of London
Camping out for The Hunger Games world premiere
View of Canary Wharf from Mile End Park
Olympic Rings in King's Cross Station and Union flags on Oxford Street
London 2012 Ceremonies rehearsal
London 2012 Ceremonies rehearsal
Meeting former track star John Carlos, famous for the black power salute in Mexico City 1968
Mile End Road and the Gherkin at sunset
Tower Bridge and Big Ben
Friends :)

I love you, London. Never change.

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