Tag Archives: sports

How to Amp Up Your Decision Making: The Regular Person Draft & Upfronts

10 May

A common question you might be hearing from sports enthusiast friends or cohabitants over the last couple of days might be  “who’s on the clock?” Or, maybe you’re wondering about the outcome of that petition you and seven like-minded enthusiasts signed to save that critically acclaimed and brilliant but under-appreciated TV show. (Not nerds… enthusiasts!)

Amidst the flurry of the overlapping NFL Draft, and the television Network Upfonts that have kept me on the edge of my narrow seat, there are currently anonymous people making very public decisions about things that I perceive to have a bigger impact on me than they actually do. You know what? We all make decisions every single day that impact more parts of our lives, than whether or not The Goldbergs got renewed (which, thank God, it did. That show is genius.). Perhaps, we just need to look at how our typical days unfold with a new dynamic perspective – one that adds the excitement and suspense our days so richly deserve.

I present the “Regular Person Activity Draft & Upfronts” based on the big decisions I, a regular person, had to make on a regular day.

A coffee stop after dropping the boys at school?

Cancelled. I did not adequately prepare, and could not be seen in a San Francisco coffee shop in my morning commute pajamas clothes.

 What’s for lunch? Soup? Or a hodgepodge of weird things from the fridge?

I think we all saw where this was going. With the second pick on this typical 2014 day, Colleen selects…. The Hodgepodge of mis-matched finger foods. I was able to create my own KFC Double Down with just sliced salami and swiss cheese. I found half an iced tea I didn’t finish last night. There was exactly one scoop left of peanut butter in the jar anyway, and that banana had about 45 more minutes left before it would have to go into the freezer bag of “smoothie bananas.” (A Pinterest idea I actually use.)

Take a walk or do the laundry?

Coming as a complete shock to everybody, Colleen selects….. Take a Walk. I have new Nikes, and if that’s what it takes me to get to want to take a walk, so be it. Also, my walk takes me here:

walk

 

Let the teenager take the bus with his friends after school? Or pick him up?

Again, in a surprise turn, Colleen…….. provides the .75 fare and the kid takes the bus. I would have had him live Tweet his ride home for me if I didn’t want his phone stowed for the duration of the ride – as the recorded bus guy wisely reminds riders, “keep your eyes up and your phone down.”

Cleaning the closets?

Cancelled. This process is more effective when the kids are around so they can tell me which pants they outgrew overnight.

Sorting recipes?

Cleaning the desk?

Taking care of overdue calls and emails?

Cancelled! Axed from the lineup, all of them!

Sitting in front of the computer and glumly staring at pages and pages of false starts of writing projects?

Renewed.  It had been a while since I’ve done this soul crushing activity, and I was just starting to feel too good about myself anyway.

Nail color: Berry Naughty? A list? Right Said Red?

Colleen selects…… Berry Naughty. Despite the dumb name that was almost too embarrassing to type here, the beautiful color is just dark enough. Too early to tell if I’ll make a strategic trade for Right Said Red.

reds

 

Fifteen minutes to kill: Magazine or Book?

Colleen selects….. Magazine – New York Magazine, the December 2, 2013 Gift List issue, to be exact. This is the year I WILL get caught up on the magazine basket. Two days ago I finished the 2013 Time 100 issue, shortly after the 2014 Time 100 issue arrived, so I’m well on my way.

The day’s terrible distraction – Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter?

All outstanding choices, but Colleen selects……… Twitter, to fill the need for real-time updates about the fate “on the bubble” comedies and dramas that have spots reserved on the DVR.

T-shirt or sweater

Colleen selects……..with sad face and a sigh…….sweater, almost always sweater.

(For those of you who have better stuff to do, which is just about anything, the Upfronts are when the networks present their fall lineups to advertisers, often canceling beloved shows, infuriating rabid fans everywhere. And just in case you have all the stuff in the world to do and you didn’t know, the NFL draft is when football teams select new players, and then you furiously Google the kids your team picks. Welcome to San Francisco Jimmie Ward!)

Find me on Instagram @ColleenWeems, and on Twitter @FulcrumChron

Hey Internet, what have you got against my heartstrings?

6 Feb

heartsrings

What are you trying to do to me America?

Facebook turned 10 this week, and I spent a good part of the big day watching the Look Back videos Facebook created for us, their begrudgingly loyal users, highlighting years’ worth of our photos and status updates. There, set to the most perfectly inspirational, emotionally manipulative-but-I-like-it, nostalgic-though-I’ve-never-heard-it, instrumental piece of music, was a peek into my near seven years on Facebook.

I cried at the pictures of my kids from when they were little. I cried at the wedding photo I posted for our 17th anniversary, and at pictures from Disneyland and Christmas and our friends’ Nicaragua wedding and my dining room table.

Then, I cried at Melissa’s, Jill’s, and Pam’s Look Back videos too. I got emotional with Katharine’s, Tricia’s, Kirsten’s, Tim’s and Sheila’s – and that was in the first two hours.

We’ve read the cautionary tales about social media – linger there too long and you can be left feeling empty and depressed because your friends seem like they are having a better time than you, and to add insult to injury, you weren’t invited to their good time. You were already well aware that your own life wasn’t perfect, but then, blammo, there’s your life, set against that perfect piece of music – and you realize, it’s pretty magical after all.

I needed a break from all the Looking Back and turned my attention to what my 13-year-old was watching on ESPN – Super Bowl winners through the years, searching for their family members after the game, desperate to share their joyful elation with the ones they love.

“Who’s that?” I asked Jacob, already starting to tear up.

“That’s Jason Pierre-Paul. He plays for the New York Giants, and his dad is blind.”

Tom Brady looked for and hugged his sisters (I guess before he married the supermodel?). Dick Vermeil loves his wife AND his grandkids. Ray Lewis loves everybody. Big muscley guys hug their moms and dads, kiss their stunning wives, and cradle their babies, after a win OR a loss.  And it is beautiful.

“You are why they make these videos,” my husband tells me at the end of every one of these sports specials.  If I watch the pre-game show of a game I otherwise could not give two hoots about, I am suddenly pulling for the guy who overcame something terrible to get where he is today. I am now his number one fan, and anybody who roots against him has no soul. (Full disclosure – I may have also once cried while watching the ESPY’s.)

I left Jacob to his stats and analysis of a game that was two days in the books and retreated online only to find stories of a good Samaritan handing out $5000 checks to waitresses struggling to pay for their educations; a school custodian who completed his own higher education during his few off-hours, only to work his way up to teacher, and finally principal overlooking the same classrooms he had once cleaned. There was the 13-year-old with strong pipes and a dream crushing a Nina Simone song; a philanthropic couple picking up the cost of San Francisco going all out to celebrate Bat Kid; a dog and a cat being best friends; and God knows how many people saving other people from train tracks.

Thanks to the Superbowl, this week I’ve already watched, re-watched and re-wept at the (somehow controversial) Coca-Cola ad during which “America the Beautiful” is sung in different languages and the sweet Cheerios ad with the (somehow controversial) biracial family. Don’t even get me started on the puppy and the Clydesdale.

My heartstrings are all stretched out and exhausted…exhausted, but happy. Which reminds me that Pharrell’s appropriately named anthem for happiness, “Happy,” is practically guaranteed to play on the car radio at some point of your commute.

Goodness isn’t new, but I pray to God it’s just extra noticeable this week, and not simply trending.

Maybe we all just need a healthy dose of nice. Perhaps there is something in our DNA that seeks out good when overwhelmed by the icky, the bleak and the #RichKidsofBeverlyHills. Maybe we are all just collectively looking for the anecdote for the snarkiness, cynicism, grumpiness, injustice, and sadness we see in real life and whenever we turn on anything with a screen.  I don’t know, maybe we all just have a bad feeling about these Olympics.

It’s ok to admit that sometimes we want a good cry for a good reason. Being touched so deeply by something we simply see reminds us that we are capable of all kinds of feelings – not just anger, amusement, or “meh,” – but also forward-looking hope and backward-looking gratitude. There is still a lot of love out there floating around, and it’s ours to take, and share.

the b word

17 Oct

“Don’t say that…it’s a terrible word.”

“It’s true though, I am.”

“When you say you’re bored, it implies that everyone around you is boring…that we lack the sparkling personalities needed to keep life interesting for you.”

“I don’t mean that, I just mean I’m bored.”

“Boring” had long been on my list of no-no words, since it had also been verboten in my own childhood home. My mother used to say, “only boring people get bored,” which I then repeated to my son as his knees were slung over the side of the chair.

“Jacob, this is the part where I am legally obligated to tell you that if you are so bored, I can certainly find you something to do. Math drills? Cleaning your room?”

“But those things are boring too.”

And so weighing his options, he picked up a magazine and dramatically put in front of his face blocking my view of his freckly, and likely still disinterested face.

I thought of him less than 24 hours later as I had the opportunity to sit and repeatedly wait for stuff. I waited in the car, staring lamely at my phone, poking away at solitaire, and re-reading news stories.

We waited in the bleachers for one baseball game to finish so Jacob’s could start. I did not know one kid on the field, which outweighed the fact that I normally enjoy baseball. I tried eavesdropping on the boys from the opposing team, who like Jacob, were waiting to take the field. They talked about something not interesting that happened at practice, and TV characters I didn’t know, so I chose to stare at the dirt, then the sky. I was suddenly so keenly aware of my boredom, that it became exciting. I dug around in my purse so I could make a note of what I wanted to think about, and maybe write about at some point in the future, “being bored.”

The initial excitement of my boredom was sullied once again by the less glamorous realities of actual boredom, as well as the glimmering hope of something to focus my attention on.

I threw myself into Jake’s game with abandon when it finally started.

But, as it ticked ever closer to the 3-hour mark, his team sitting 12 runs ahead, the familiar feeling was back. John had to leave for a church event, and I’d tried to send chipper text updates, “Jake stole home!” and then it was “Jake stole home….again.”  Zach scooted dramatically down the bench to sit next to another dad to talk about the 49ers. The moms in front of me were checking the processing speed on someone’s new iPhone 4S. When it was my turn to Google something, I didn’t want to leave the owner’s search history littered with my attempts at finally discovering where I’d seen the actress who plays Amy Poehler’s mom on “Parks & Recreation,” so I stuck with searching “baseball.”  Wow, the processing speed IS fast.

I handed the phone back, only to see that the game was still going. Zach came back over and graciously let me pick from the fabric of his pants the hundreds of thorny little stickers he’d acquired while retrieving a foul ball from the bushes. The people in the stands had eyed him jealously as he’d scampered off with a task. He’d taken his sweet time returning the ball to the official, undoubtedly prolonging the excitement of it all.

After every out, someone would inevitably ask, “Is that it? Is that the game? Are we done?” Sometimes it was a parent from the other team, and sometimes it was whatever kid was at first base. Sometimes that someone was me.

A few months ago, I read Stephen King’s brilliant “On Writing,” where he stressed the importance of allowing yourself to be bored. He would take long daily walks (that’s how he got hit by that car) and carry a newspaper or book with him that he would not read. His mind worked best when he was bored, creating stories that would go on to successfully give the world the creeps.

If boredom is simply our brain at work, imagining what it would it be like to be doing anything other than what we are actually doing at the moment, then all of us are likely bored most of the time. How we respond to boredom then, is critical.

You could complain about it – most certainly what teachers and parents, my mother included, find so terribly irksome.

You could get into mischief.  The stats cited on militaryschoolalternatives.com (I was NOT there for my own children – it just happened to come up when I did my lazy Internet research) show that roughly 50% of kids are likely to drink because of boredom. Same goes for adults. Frankly I thought it would be higher, but we have to trust the dedicated statisticians at militaryschoolalternatives.com.

You could do something important. Maybe you’ll get the idea for the next great American novel, or decide what to give the teachers this year at Christmas (always a stressful endeavor). Maybe you’ll give in and call your sister, figure out how to fix that thing at work, or finally remember that you need to buy stamps.

Be bored, but for Pete’s sake, if you’re sitting within conversation distance of me, don’t tell me your bored, it’s offensive.

*As our family settled in for the night after the game, I inadvertently proclaimed my distaste for something on television, by spelling to John that it was “b-o-r-i-n-g,” in front of Jacob who’s 11, and as it turns out, can totally spell words.

He leapt out of his chair, giddy with excitement. “A-ha!” he squealed, as he should. “I can totally think of things for you to do to not be so bored. Would you like to connect things, you know, like you do at work? Or do math drills, or connecting drills, you know…like for work?” His smile of redemption lasted all the way to bedtime.

**As I was writing this, I checked email no fewer than 10 times, entertainment news 3 times, and Facebook 5 times. I made two mugs of tea, and did a load of laundry. I stared out the window for a while, and thought about painting my nails. And then I stopped thinking about painting my nails, and painted my nails. I also completed my research: Pamela Reed is the woman in “Parks & Rec.” She played Arnold Schwarzeneggers’s partner in “Kindergarten Cop.” Now you can relax.

all star tear jerk

15 Jul

I’d been in the room about 42 seconds when the tears started. Why? Why? Why did I have to wear mascara today of all days?

Wedding? No, that was five days ago, and I waited two full minutes ‘til I unapologetically turned on the waterworks. Graduation? Nope. Moving church service? Not this time. Stepping through the gates at Disneyland?  Don’t I wish.

It was the flippin’ ESPYs.

My back was to John who was in the kitchen tossing a perfectly dressed salad with fruit and everything. He’d once again magically created an honest-to-goodness meal out of the random contents of our fridge, and I was standing mesmerized by ESPN’s annual awards show and a year’s worth of highlight reels.

The screen flashed with jaw dropping 3-pointers, bone-crunching hits, gravity defying catches and mind-blowing runs. There was jubilation and celebration and many, many dogpiles.  But, this wasn’t your average recap show. Those are on every day in this house, to the point where it feels like I am watching highlights of the last highlights show.  I have never had to sit down with a box of tissues to get through those.

They really upped the ante here – there was music, slow-mo and the critical close-up shots of their triumphant and/or heartbroken faces. And with that little bit of editing trickery, they seemed to turn these well-paid, famous yet often faceless athletes into extraordinary people with annoyingly extraordinary abilities and certainly compelling stories… and me into a weepy mess.

Just when I thought I’d pulled myself together, they go and show all the athletes that died this year. I recognized Jack Lalane, and that was it. The other grizzled and determined faces on the screen were pictured mostly in black and white or the grainy film of the ‘70s or 1994, like when you watch a re-run of Friends.  But these folks had been outstanding athletes in their heyday, probably even heroes.

Suddenly, things became very clear in my head, and it went something like this: “How inspirational! I get it. I get the true allure of sports and athleticism, and the home team. Why, these are people who are using their God given abilities! It’s important to have drive and discipline and sportsmanship. This is good for the morale of our country! I’m really glad we have Jake in basketball camp…that’s an investment in his future. It’s good for him as a person, and for the nation, really. John’s probably going to have a lot of sermon illustrations after this.”

And then… the show started.

No. No. No. Oh my gosh, yes. I had just cried at the introduction. Of the ESPYs.

The very funny Seth Meyers took the stage and in his opening monologue teased Brian Wilson about his beard and his spandex tuxedo, and I chuckled loudly with a little over compensatory show-offiness, asking some camouflaging questions about the All-Star break, while swooping around futzing with the dinner plates.

The 10-year-old looked at me sideways, “Are you crying?”

“What? Are you serious? Here, have some more salad. How was basketball camp?”

opening day

14 Mar

The morning sky was still dark, and Zach stood at the foot of my bed, dressed in his crisp new baseball pants, shirt, socks, and hat… staring at me. With one eye open, and still as under-the-covers as I could get away with, I leaned out to thread his belt through the loops. I sent him merrily back to his room to give me five more minutes of quiet before we’d have to start racing through the house, collecting every camera we have, and hoisting the boys into the car, all so we could make it to the parade staging area for the pre-dawn (not really) call time.  

Though still reeling from the heartbreaking news from across the globe, and like many a U.S. city this weekend, our town continued on with baseball Opening Day for the kiddos.

I found a log to perch myself on along the parade route, and tried to wish a large coffee into existence.  But then, it was here! The parade was here! At the front were, I’m guessing very important local dignitaries in satin jackets being chauffeured in classic cars, waving at me. Yep, me. When it’s a little parade, you don’t have the comforting shroud of anonymity, and they are in fact waving directly at you. Awkward or not, you have to wave back. Finally the teams started coming by. The teenagers looked tired, the kids Jake’s age looked at their shoes, working hard not to make eye contact or wave at their parents. The kids in Zach’s age division were yelling and cheering and high-fiving anybody they could get their hands on.  When Zach’s team finally walked by, he was yelling “Let’s go Yankees!”  and “yeaaahhhh!” In the very brief time I had a visual on the team, John, in his coach shirt, had to gently redirect one little Yankee out of the crowd and back to his group four times. John caught my eye and I could tell it had been a very long little parade.

All of the pomp and fanfare suddenly gave me a warm and fuzzy feeling of nostalgia for an era that I never even experienced first-hand. There were balloon arches and flags and pennants hanging from every fence and post. There were bounce houses, police blockades, boy scouts, face painting, sunshine, lawn chairs, hot dogs and more cameras than you can shake a stick out. The mayor spoke, as did the chief of police and the parks department guy, who John would only refer to as Ron Swanson (please please tell me you watch Parks & Recreation.)

Zach had been counting down to this day for the last three years….the day that he would finally take the field as a real-life baseball player. Up to this point, he’d sat wide-eyed in the bleachers, dressed head to toe in his brother’s team colors, glove in his lap, bat at the ready, and often sporting a batting helmet…yes, sitting in the stands wearing his batting helmet, on the off-chance he was suddenly going to be called up. Unlike the other little brothers, he didn’t run off to the playground, beg to go home or whine about being bored. He did ask for snacks every 5-10 minutes, but there he sat, cheering for Jacob and his teammates and befriending the other parents and fans. This weekend after he proudly donned his own uniform, he tracked down those parents he’d shared the stands with to show them just how far he’d come. “I’m on the Yankees now. I’m # 8. We played the A’s, and it was a tie. It was my first game ever, and I had my first team snacks ever, Oreos and a cheesestick, and also a water.” Then he’d turn around so they could see he had his name on his jersey.

Have you ever watched 5-year-olds play a game of baseball? There are about 10 adults on the field, most tasked with keeping the kids standing up, facing the right direction, and in the case of opening day, off of the bounce house. The coach pitches, or perhaps more accurately, throws the ball at the bat that’s roughly the same size as the batter. The second the ball is hit, every kid in the field, which sometimes includes the base runners, heads for it. Sometimes there’s tackling, sometimes crying. This day, Zach played third where he dutifully stood, foot on the bag, glove in the air, ready to make the out. As it turns out, 5-year-olds don’t throw to third to make the out.

Jake’s team played a couple of hours later, where by comparison, it looked like the actual Cardinals were playing the actual Rangers.

For the three months leading up to opening day, Zach would ask me if I could bring music to the field –  a soundtrack for his debut. You see, we play that fun car game where you pick out what song you would like to hear if you got the chance for an at-bat in the majors; and that other fun car game, where you play “Uprising” by Muse (which next to AC/DC’s “Back in Black” is the world’s greatest batting/walk-up song) and then in your best stadium announcer voice, introduce the Giants batters one at a time, “Noooooow batting…..Cody Ross!,” and then the next person says “Nooooooow batting…Pablo Sandoval!” You know…that game. So naturally, Zach assumed, he would also be entitled to tunes that would make him hit a grand slam and get his devoted fans on their feet.

I’d say, “Zach, I wish I could buddy, but I can’t bring music to your game, as awesome as that would be.” But there on Opening Day, at Zach’s first game…was a DJ. Sure, the guy was most likely assigned to provide a soundtrack for all the festivities – the kids punching each other in the bounce houses, or having their faces painted with fairy wings and fake scars. But along with his first baseball snacks and first baseball parade, Zach got his walk-up music for his first official at-bat. I don’t even think he cared that it was Lynyrd Skynyrd.

huddle

20 Oct

The other night, I went to pick Jake up from his football practice. I was so very ready to go home. It had been a long day of work; no homework had been completed; dinner had not been eaten; and Zach was hell bent on scaling the one part of the park’s play structure that looked so dangerous, it had to be an illegal engineering mistake. But alas, practice was not over. Jake and his buddies were now huddled around in their team meeting, looking very worn out and very serious. Like tiny little SWAT teamers doing a recap of some big operation.

Assured that Jake is currently where he is supposed to be, huddling with the other SWAT teamers, I shift my focus to Zach who’s back on the scary and forbidden play thing, only now while also pointing at his own eye with a stick. That’s when I hear a very familiar voice call out… “Mom. Mom. Mom. Mom. MOM!”

I look over, and there is my eldest, non-discreetly summoning me from the middle of his meeting. He sees that he has my attention, and hits me with his emergency. “What’s for dinner!?!?”

Granted, he does not have a lot of experience being in meetings. But I give him the abbreviated version of my laser eyes, and the universal hand signal for “turn around and listen to your coach, focus, and by the way, I have NO idea what is for dinner.”

Other than “how did I get out of your tummy?,” “what’s for dinner?” is probably my least favorite question. I know the answer about 25% of the time. Within that 25%– noodles, chicken nuggets, pizza, Subway and tacos really are the only place where there is any overlap of excitement from both boys, which comes to about 10%. I’ve already exceeded my math aptitude here, but that leaves a lot of stink faces, and “I don’t like that” and “can we please have macaroni & cheese or Subway or tacos or noodles?”

Sure, I’m frustrated and kinda harried and cranky looking on the outside, not to mention slightly distracted by a 5-year-old daredevil with a stick, but at the same time, a little relieved on the inside. Jake’s still 10, not on the SWAT team, and him knowing what’s for dinner currently trumps all of his other worldly concerns.

The disturbing  thing about watching major league sports is how many of these guys look like little boys. I mistook an Atlanta Braves pitcher and a pinch runner for bat boys, and I have a hard time believing that the Giants’ beloved Buster Posey has started shaving yet. The old men in the sport are a couple of years younger than John and I. Please notice, I include John in this to keep me from feeling so alone out here in the mid-thirties.