Coming Soon!

Two posts in two days?! Could this be?! This hasn't happened in... an embarrassingly long time.

I know I've mentioned it here before, but real life has been really real these last few months. Blogging has (obviously) fallen by the wayside while I found a new roommate, refurnished and redecorated my apartment, looked for a new job, started a new job, worked the Pan Am Games and spent several hundred hours in my cubicle for said job. Priorities had to be reshuffled. You know how it goes.

But over the weekend, my grandparents texted me to check that I'm okay because I haven't blogged in so long. My first thought was that of course I'm okay! I like my job (even though there will never be a week I don't work overtime), I'm healthy, and the little piece of my soul I lost during the Pan Ams is finally starting to come back.

And that's all true. But on Monday... I hit a wall. I felt stagnant. I miss doing things outside of my cubicle. And man, I miss writing. I realized that I need to make writing a priority, and if I'm not doing it for work, I'm going to do it for myself.

I had this weird motivational surge, and suddenly I'm raring to get my life back together (which is pretty ambitious, considering how tired I get and how little time I have for myself). I need to start reading again, and working out again, and get back to cooking real meals instead of throwing together pasta and a salad every night. I want to go do fun things on the weekend and take nice pictures and actually enjoy my free time.

Getting serious about my blog again is at the top of my priority list, and I've decided that the only way to do it is to go big. So I'm starting a new series!

I've been sitting on this idea for, oh, probably a full year now. But I didn't want it to overlap with Miracle Monday, and then my life imploded, so I just kept putting it off. BUT there's no time like the present, eh? I'm a little nervous about not just easing back into the whole blogging thing, but I think this might be what I need to keep myself accountable to my little ol' Internet home.

ANYWAY. This new series.

I think it's pretty clear that I love sports, and that I love talking about athletes and teams that are important to me. (Really? You don't say. /sarcasm) And if there's one thing that's become extremely important to me in the last year or two, it's women's sports. And there's nothing that pisses me off more than the fact that women make up 40% of all sports participants yet receive only 4% of sports media coverage. And if you Google "female athletes," the entire first page of results are lists ranking the hottest female athletes. That is shameful. SHAMEFUL. I'm lucky in that I work in the sports industry so I'm exposed to all sorts of badass female athletes, from archers to wrestlers and everything in between. But that's the only reason I'm exposed to them (other than the whole once-every-four-years-during-the-Olympics thing). Therefore, I bring to you...

Every week we'll be chatting about a kick-ass lady whose jersey you'll totally want to buy... if it was being sold anywhere. SIGH.

But yeah! Tune in starting next week to find some new female faves. 'Cause girls run the world and it's about damn time we start acting like it.

(And look at that, I wrote one post and made one graphic and I already feel like my head is less clogged. It's good to be back!)

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7 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started College

It's hard to believe, but I graduated college over two years ago. And with the first day of classes yesterday, this means that it's been almost exactly six years since I set foot on the University of Miami campus as a nervous, wide-eyed freshman. Moving away to college was a huge adjustment for me, as it is for pretty much everyone, and looking back I want to pat 18-year-old Darci on the head and tell her to take a deep breath. I obviously ended up figuring everything out in due time, but there are a few things I wish I knew before turning the key in my first dorm room.

Are you ready for some of my awkward freshman year photos?

1. Get a job. Don't argue with me about this. GET A JOB. This one's technically cheating, because this was a piece of advice that I received like a steady drumbeat from my dad all summer before move-in. Thanks to his persistence, I had a job interview set up at the on-campus wellness center (aka gym) before I was even in the state, and I had a job there before I even had my class schedule. And four years later, I cried when I clocked out for the final time. I know there are a million things you'd rather be doing than working in your free time, but guys... money. Even if your parents are paying for school, it's so important to have money that you earned and is entirely yours to decide what to do with. It gives you so much more freedom, and it's such a relief not have to worry about your bank statement reading $0. And if you work on campus, those employers know that you're a student first and are generally pretty flexible when it comes to homework and finals. Plus it's a place to make friends! Seriously, get a job. If you do one thing this year, let this be it.

Okay, this was sophomore year. But whatever, time had no meaning in the wellness center.

2. You don't need to have the stereotypical college experience to have a good time. Pop culture and society in general stereotype college as one big party. And I attended the University of Miami, so before I left for my freshman year, I was hit with the same comments all the time: "Oh my god the parties are going to be amazing!!!" and "You're going to get so tan!!!!" Well, I don't drink, and my mom had skin cancer so I don't tan. And guess what? I didn't drink, I didn't go tanning, and I still had an amazing time. There's an entire spectrum of people at any school you go to, from the ultimate nerds to the wildest of party people, and you will be able to find a niche that feels appropriate to you. Don't feel pressured to party if you don't want to. Trust me, if I could stumble into a group of friends in Miami that didn't do the whole wild-and-crazy thing, you can find your people anywhere.

3. Make friends in your classes for your major. Of course, it's a good idea to make friends in any class you're in. But if you're an English major taking Biology 101 just to meet a credit requirement, what are the odds that you'll ever see these biology people again? But in your major, you'll be taking classes with a lot of the same people for multiple years. There will be group assignments and situations in which you'll need a classmate's help, and not having any buds in your major will make things more difficult. You don't need to meet your best friends in your major, but just... make an effort to befriend the people you're going to see a lot.

4. You might not be best friends with everyone on your floor. And that's okay. I had a really good group of people on my floor freshman year. A lot of them were super close, but they were never my social circle, and after that year ended I don't think I really ever saw most of them again. We were always friendly and there was no dislike, but I didn't make my lifelong friendships from my floormates. And that's totally fine! Your floor is a social scene that's handed to you and easy enough to join if you want, but you might find your people in marching band, or on your club sports team, or in a class, or at work, or literally anywhere else. Don't stress if you don't find your future bridesmaids in the room down the hall. You're fine.

Oh god. Good ol' RT4. What a group.

5. College is a place for adults. I never really thought about this, but in high school you're always around people your age. So imagine my shock when I sit down in my first-ever college class and realize the person sitting next to me is a grown man. Like, with a wife and small children. And the girl sitting behind me is in her late 20s and is also married with kids. It was eye-opening, to say the least! And not only that, but professors will treat you like an adult. If you go to them with a problem, they'll be understanding (or at least the good ones will). When I was a freshman, I went to a class only to realize that I'd forgotten to print out an assignment that was due. So after class I rushed up to the professor, absolutely freaking out, and explained to him that it was done but that I forgot to print it and could I pleasepleaseplease bring it to him at his office in five minutes??????? He barely batted an eye and told me that, yes, of course I could. I think this was my first experience being treated as a grown-up, as someone who wouldn't lie to get extra time for an assignment. Don't take advantage of this. Be a grown-up.

6. Get professional experience ASAP. The academic side of college is great and all, but by far the most valuable experiences I had in college were those of the professional nature. And, while I knew where I wanted to ultimately work, I didn't know what exactly I wanted to do or how to get there, so my initial professional experiences were not quite as relevant as they could've been. I wish I'd been more proactive about figuring things out sooner. So if you know what you want to do, or even if you don't, just start talking to people. Older students in your major, advisors, anyone. I was an intern in the athletic department at the University of Miami, and I discovered that internship when I was volunteering at a track and field meet to get credit for one of my sport administration classes. Put yourself in positions to discover those opportunities as a freshman, not as a junior like I did. Seriously.

I was a senior here. To think I could've done this as a freshman... #missedopportunities

7. Time is going to FLY. One day you're going to blink and suddenly you'll be leaving your final class of your senior year. Four years may seem like a really long time, but you will honestly not believe how fast it goes. Savor every moment!

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One Night In Chicago

Hey again. I'm back. Never intended to leave again, so, oops? If it isn't obvious already, I've kind of lost my blogging mojo -- mostly because it's incredibly difficult to feel like expending any effort after working more than eight hours a day -- and I don't really know if I'm fully recovered from working Pan Ams (guys, the struggle was SO REAL), so I'm still trying to get back into the swing of things. I'll work out some kind of new "normal" for this space eventually, but for now, the dust is still settling. Pardon my slight radio silence.

But anyway, I still need to finish recapping my Chicago trip! If you missed part one, I suggest reading it, because it's kind of A Thing. But if you don't feel like reading it, here's a quick summary: I went to Chicago, met my favorite Internet friend and met my favorite person ever. And that's where we're at. So, onwards!

I left off the last post when I was leaving the convention center and heading to my hostel. The convention center was right by the airport and literally surrounded by all the airport hotels, but why spend $150 to stay in a hotel in a suburb when you could spend $53 to stay in a hostel in Chicago? Exactly. It meant an extra 45 minutes or so on the train, but if you know me at all you know I live for some good public transportation, so I was happy as a clam. (Though it was 90 degrees and I was wearing a hockey jersey, so I was also incredibly sweaty.)

The hostel I stayed at is called Freehand Chicago, and it was super easy to get to. I was a little worried about that, since I have zero sense of direction, but I didn't get even a little bit lost, so [thumbs up emoji]. The hostel had a really cool atmosphere right from when I walked in, and I was equally as impressed with my room!

I've stayed in my fair share of hostels (hey hey, backpacking trip through Europe) and this one might've been my favorite room. I was booked in a quad, which had its own en suite bathroom (no sharing with the entire floor!) and each bed had its own reading light and a curtain for privacy. There was also a sort of shelf running around the bed, which was perfect for keeping your phone (and alarm) close by and storing glasses while you sleep. I've put my glasses on many a hostel floor, so this little feature was super clutch.

The view from the window was pretty okay, too.

I spent the rest of that evening continuing to geek out about my day, grabbing dinner at a nearby burger place, and getting some work done (because digital media never sleeps). I also chatted a bit with the three other people staying in the room with me; a guy from Colombia, a girl from Mexico and a girl from England. So multicultural! They were all really nice and very considerate people to be bunking with, so I was pretty pleased with the situation. This was my first time staying in a hostel by myself and I was mildly worried about being stuck with less than stellar people, but that wasn't the case at all. We all ended up going to bed at around the same time, and I passed out hard. (After working 10+ hours a day for three weeks straight?! Shocking!)

My goal was to wake up in time for free breakfast before 9, but when my alarm went off at 8 I basically laughed at it and went back to sleep. I finally emerged from behind my privacy curtain at around 9:30 and got not-free breakfast in the hostel cafe (some pretty deluxe avocado toast), and after a bit of a delay, I checked out and hit the streets.

I didn't really have a plan, per se. People kept asking me why I was in Chicago for such a short time, and I don't think they realized that I wasn't in Chicago to see Chicago. But there's nothing I love more than wandering around a city, so I decided to wander. My first stop was the Willis Tower, because I figured I might as well see one touristy thing while I was there. Between this and my previous trip to Chicago, maybe in about a dozen more visits I'll actually have seen a decent amount of the city.

After a leisurely loop around the building (during which I saw the original American Girl Store, which fulfilled all the wishes of my seven-year-old self), I decided to walk around for a bit more and just see what I came across. Because why not?

That quote speaks to me.

It wasn't long before I was sweaty again, so eventually I found my way to a subway station and was on my way back to the airport. And on this episode of It's Not An Adventure Unless Darci Injures Herself... I injured myself. How, you ask? By walking around in a city for about an hour in my most supportive shoes. Honestly, my feet are an absolute joke. I don't know if it was my old friend plantar fasciitis acting up again, but whatever it was, as soon as I got back to my apartment I froze a water bottle and spent the weekend rolling my foot on it. (Real talk: if you ever have pain in the arch of your foot, roll it on a frozen water bottle. It hurts, but it's heaven.)

So yeah, that was my trip to Chicago. I was there for roughly 24 hours and it was phenomenal and I got home and wondered if it had actually happened. But then I'd look at my autograph and have to walk with a limp, and was reminded that it was, in fact, real. :)

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Mayhem And A Miracle, Volume II

Whoa, hey there. Hi. Remember me? It's only been three weeks since I last blogged (which is actually kind of an eternity, since I used to barely go three days between posts), but it feels like I've lived eight years in that time. Mostly because I worked about eight years in that time. The Pan Ams were no joke. Eleven hours of work a day = no time for grocery shopping, relaxing, and other basic quality-of-life things, which meant noooooo time for blogging. And when the Games wrapped up on the 26th, it was right back to the office for work on Monday. So this past weekend was the first I've had since Fourth of July weekend, and I'm happy to report that I'm finally starting to feel like a normal, functioning human again. [thumbs up emoji]

ANYWAY. That's not what I'm here to talk about. 'Cause some stuff happened in the last few days that merits the triumphant return of Miracle Monday!

I guess it's a good idea to start at the beginning, right?

This one starts in... February? March? I don't even remember. The beginning was so inconsequential to me because I never thought it would turn into anything, so I didn't bother committing it to memory. But in any case, right around the Miracle on Ice 35th anniversary reunion, my Tumblr friend Emily was lamenting to me about how upset she was that she couldn't go. But I had just stumbled across another event that most of the team was scheduled to appear at -- the National Sports Collectors Convention, in Chicago -- so I sent her the link. She started making plans to go, but it didn't really cross my mind much after that. I'd already done my fair share of flying around the country for Miracle on Ice things, and didn't feel any pressing need to do it again so soon. At the beginning of July, Emily texted me that she was definitely going to it, and I was SO HAPPY FOR HER. Like, hysterically-laughing-in-the-middle-of-Walmart happy for her. But still, didn't really think much else about it.

That is, until two weeks later. I very randomly decided to check out the show's lineup again, and noticed something very important: Mark Pavelich was going to be there.

Quick context, in case you're new here:

1. Pav is literally known for being reclusive and quiet and not attending public events. Before this year I didn't even know what he looked like, because the most recent pictures of him were from his NHL days back in the '80s. He doesn't do interviews (so I'd never heard his voice before), he doesn't go to things... nothing. So Pav committing to an event like this was a Big Deal. Somewhat miraculous, if you will. (Hah.)

2. Pav is my favorite. Favorite athlete, favorite famous person, favorite human being... pick one and he's it.

So immediately upon seeing his name on the "attending" list, my hands got clammy, my heart started racing and I felt like I was going to throw up. Meeting Pav was one of those bucket list items that I never physically put on my bucket list because I never ever in my life believed that it would happen. But suddenly, he would be attending an event that I could afford to go to, and it was several days after the Pan Ams ended. And with all the hours I'd worked (and all the overtime I made), I could stand to miss a day or two of work for it. And he'd be signing autographs late in the day on the 31st, so I could even fly in that morning and miss even less work. (Really, it was all a little too perfect.)

Within a few days, I was sending Emily a text: "Guess who's coming to Chicago!"

The next two weeks passed in a haze of endless hours of work and thoughts of "I just need to survive this so I can go to Chicago." I was pretty perpetually anxious for awhile, though a bright spot was getting my autograph and photo opp tickets in the mail.

You're damn right I'm #1 for Mark Pavelich.

In the meantime... blah blah blah, work work work, blah blah blah... and then suddenly I was walking into a convention center in Rosemont, Illinois and hugging someone I'd previously only known online like we'd been friends for a decade.

Emily and her dad had been there all day and she'd already gotten to meet John Harrington, Mike Ramsey and Phil Verchota. I was, y'know, dying a little bit about that. She was also going to be meeting Pav, plus Mark Johnson and Buzz Schneider. Pav and Buzz were signing autographs last, at 4:30. By the time I arrived it was around 2:30, and Mark was signing at 3:15, so we hung around for awhile before she got to meet him. This was also when I discovered that, despite not having tickets, I was allowed to stand in line with her. So when she was meeting Mark and getting his autograph, I was standing right behind her and grinning really big. (Note: this becomes an important plot point later. Not the grinning, the standing in line.)

Then it was back to gossiping and fangirling and just generally amusing ourselves for another hour or so. There was a lot of freaking out, and feeling like we were going to throw up, and giggling, especially at this:

And then Buzz and Pav were brought out for photo opps and holy crap. While Emily got her photo with Buzz, I steeled myself to say something very important kind of ridiculous to Pav. See, a few months ago he went to a banquet USA Hockey held to honor the team, and he was wearing glasses very similar to mine. We match, basically. So I'd been hoping against hope that he'd be wearing those glasses when I met him, and he was. This was my chance.

When Emily was done with Buzz, it was my turn, and I awkwardly sidled up to Pav.

He looked at me. "Hi." (PLEASE NOTE: this was the first time I'd ever heard his voice. When he said hi to me. TO ME. PERSONALLY. I'm never getting over it.)

I somehow mustered the brainpower to say "hi" back, and then he put his arm around me (!!!!!) and we took a picture together.

Before I walked away, I turned to him. "I like your glasses!"

He looked at me. "What?"

(LOL, I wouldn't have been expecting that either.) "I like your glasses!"

"Oh, thank you!"

And then I scuttled away and waited for Emily to take her picture with him before FREAKING OUT WITH HER a little bit. Because what else are you supposed to do when you meet your favorite person?!

Next came the autograph lines. We decided that we wanted to try and be close to last to meet Pav (so we could try and idle with him for a bit without backing up a whole ton of people), so we hopped into Buzz's line first so Emily could get her autograph. If you're new around these parts, I freaking adore Buzz. I named my car after him and met him once before (and he remembered me!!!), so Emily was basically like "COME SAY HI TO BUZZ WITH ME!!!!" So, y'know, who am I to turn down an offer like that? We waited in line together, and again I stood off to the side while Emily got her autograph, and when she was done she stepped aside so I could have my moment. (Guys, this is the realest friendship.)

I don't even really remember what I said. I was just trying to get my words out as fast as I could (because this was time I hadn't paid for), but it was basically "I'm the one who named my car after you and I just wanted to say hi!"

He burst out laughing (!!!!!) and said, "I remember! Good to see you again!" And he held out his hand, and I shook it (he gives a great handshake, FYI), and then I skipped away, wondering if ever there'll be a time I interact with Buzz Schneider that doesn't leave me a giggling pile of mush. (But for real, my presence makes him light up like a Christmas tree and I think that's the best thing I've ever accomplished in my life. Full stop.)

And THEN there was some more waiting before we got in line for Pav's autograph. Emily and I were both wearing Pavelich jerseys, and as we were standing around we were approached by two older men who commented on them. We got to talking, and they said they'd been coming to these conventions for years and that Pav had committed to come twice before and canceled both times. So we were all in agreement that him actually being there was huge, and I mentioned that I flew there from Colorado just to meet him. They seemed really impressed and didn't walk away before expressing their respect for us. (Actual life goals: only wear the jerseys of athletes that make other people respect you.)

Once we finally got in line, I felt a little less barf-y and was actually pretty confident when it was my turn. I handed my tickets to the "handler" sitting next to Pav, and picked what color marker I wanted him to sign with. (Blue. Which, the handler pointed out, was appropriate for signing a picture of him playing for the Rangers.) So Pav started signing his name, and I had to awkwardly pipe up and mention that I also get an inscription. (Seriously, why was that my job? Isn't the handler supposed to be in charge of that?)

I said that just "to Darci" would be great, and then Pav goes, "How do you spell that?"

PAUSE. I've met my fair share of famous people, and gotten my fair share of autographs, and I can't remember a single time that anyone asked me how to spell my name. I always have to jump in and specify how to spell it correctly, but Pav proactively asked about it before I could even do that. :')

So I told him how to spell my name, and then he deliberated for a little while before scrawling something else. And when he was finished, I had to seize my chance again.

"I just wanted to tell you that, as someone who's both short and quiet myself, you've been a really big inspiration for me and it's a huge honor to meet you."

He looked kind of taken aback. "Oh, well, thank you!"

LOL, I don't think he knew what to do with me. He probably thinks I'm really weird. But that's fine, because I think he's weird too. (Don't worry Pav, I just had to carpe diem this one time. I don't have to bother you ever again, I promise. I'll just keep coming to these things to hang out with my BFF Buzz.)

So it was all fine and dandy, until I decided to look down at the autograph he'd given me.

...I have no idea what it says.

Neither Emily nor her dad could figure it out either. The guys at the authentication booth put "play hockey" in the official records, but I've also gotten "play to win" and "pleased to meet you" and a number of other things. (My mom said it looked like "play dumb" or "please don't." LOL, thanks mom.) I just think it's absolutely hilarious that Pav finally attends a meet-and-greet, interacts with people, takes a picture with me, signs an autograph... and still manages to remain a complete mystery. THAT is a talent. An incredibly infuriating talent.

I was, however, very pleased that he didn't look miserable. I was kind of concerned that he'd hate the whole thing (because, come on, a reclusive type at a meet-and-greet? This is the exact opposite of his scene), and while he did look awkward and out of his element, he was smiling and interacting with people. So even if he signed me an autograph that's the written equivalent of a mumble, I think it's perfect and I'm completely thrilled with everything. :)

After we were finished, we walked around the convention center for a bit and stopped at a few booths. But we were all pretty exhausted and it wasn't long before we found a spot on the floor to sit and rest for a few minutes. And geek out a little bit more. Or a lot more. Y'know, whatever.

And, uh, that was it. Those three hours were the entire purpose of my trip. I met Pav, made Buzz laugh again, and turned an Internet friend into a real-life friend. Win, win aaaand win!

Look at this, I just made up for three weeks worth of missed posts in one fell swoop. HA. I guess I'll be back tomorrow to recap the rest of my trip (a grand total of about 20 hours), because this is plenty long enough. I'd apologize, but... I'm not even sorry.

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