Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Dear Sarah... again.



Dear Sarah,

In two days, it will be a year. A year since we heard that insane, magical laugh. A year since we saw your gorgeous face. A year since we heard a comment about how bad your fart just was and oh my god, if you could only text smells.

A year.

I don’t even know how this year went by so quickly. But then again, it does make sense. Because with you, every day was a week. Every week was a month. And without you, I guess the days have simply slipped by.

But wow. A year. We all miss you so much.



I’m sitting in a coffee shop writing and I just heard Phoenix ‘s ‘If I ever feel better’ – the song I’ve come to think of as our song. That song that you somehow magically insert into my life when I need to hear from you the most. Thank you. So yes, I’m writing you a letter ... again. And thank you for not dropping that hint on a Sunday. Writing no good Sunday.

You should know that something amazing happened after you left us. Your friends came together in a way that would have made you so happy. We bonded over our love for you and the crazy adventures we all had with you. At first, we would get together and simply talk about you but slowly, over time, we’ve formed our own friendships. But they’re based on our relationships with you so, of course, you remain the most important person in the room. Just the way you would have wanted it.

It’s sort of like you left this patchwork quilt behind. We all have pieces of that quilt that we’ve been trying to put together ever since. But that quilt will never be complete because you left pieces of that quilt scattered in everyone you met. Everyone you met holds this little piece of your story. It would be impossible to stitch your quilt back together. I was right when I said that you had left a trace on everyone you met. But your impact was far bigger and more important than I think anyone could have imagined.



The days after and before your funeral were some of the saddest - and most hilarious - days I’ve ever had. Because it was impossible to grieve the loss of you without also reliving the hilarity of the moments we shared with you. It alternated between take-your-breath-away sadness and laughter so hard it actually took your breath away. We still reflect on that time as surreal. Tears from being unbelievably, tragically sad and tears from laughing so hard, we cried. It was an endless cycle of both.

Oh man… the laughter. That’s what I miss the most about you. The way we could catch each other’s eye and go to pieces laughing.

I miss your brilliantly witty lines.

I miss the way you loved your kids.


I miss your beauty and the way you made everything around you more beautiful.

You flicker through my mind so often. I catch myself referencing you in conversation all the time. I don’t know if that will ever stop. I don’t know if I could ever stop it. You gave me an awful lot of material, after all. I feel like everyone needs to know your opinion of cottage cheese, the fact that you never ate a sandwich, the record you set as a junior runner, that you fully believed Rosholt to only be 45 minutes away, “you guys!” (and 4 hours later we arrived), and what a terrible loser you were at Yahtzee (because, "well, I can see you’re all giant cheaters and that’s it! I’m going to bed!")



All of your stories and one-liners and observations float through my head constantly. Every time I hear a new song that you would have liked, I think about you having it on repeat for weeks at a time. (although I can’t bring myself to download the new Lana Del Ray. Sorry. I still have Radio stuck in my head because of you. And I’m not pleased.)

On Thursday, we’ll have a memorial for you. It will be amazing, sad, hilarious, tragic, boisterous and quiet. All at once. Maybe we’ll piece together a bit of your quilt. Or maybe we’ll discover more pieces. I have a feeling it’ll be more pieces.

We’ll be celebrating you and missing you. But I know that you will be there with us. Because we all are carrying around a piece of you. And because of that, you’re still with us. And so, together, we’ll celebrate you.



Friday, August 9, 2013

Dear Sarah


I lost my dear, dear friend, Sarah Brucker on Wednesday night. Yesterday morning, it was impossible to comprehend. Yesterday afternoon, it started to sink in. This morning, it’s real.


Dear Sarah,

I hope this letter finds you well, with a summer ale in one hand and the most beautiful shade of lip gloss in the other. On your face, I know there is a smile. Because there always is.

Am I starting off too corny for you already, Brucker? Well, fasten your seatbelt because I’m about to go full corn on you. Remember, I’m a wriiiiiiii-TOR! (just not on Sundays).

 
We were at your place one night, bantering about nothing as always, when I realized there was something I really wanted – and needed - to tell you. I had to make sure you knew how much you meant to me. I don’t know what brought it on. It wasn’t like we were doing anything unusual. It was just another night for us. But maybe that’s why I felt the need to tell you this. Because it was just another night - and yet it was so comfortable and easy and wonderful and lovely and nothing made me happier than simply spending time with you.

I took a pause and looked at you and with a hint of drama said, “you know, you make everything brighter for me.”

You paused and then smirked, looked at me and said, “you regret saying that right now, don’t you?”

I looked at you and sighed and said, “yeeeessss….” And we both died laughing. I thought you would never let me live that down. 

But you never brought it up again. And I have to think it’s because you knew I absolutely meant it.

Sarah, no one has ever illuminated my world the way you did.
You made colors brighter, laughter louder, tears richer.


You had a way of making everyone feel like they were so special. You could make every woman feel more beautiful. And not just because of your makeup skills – because of your words.

No one dished out compliments the way that you did. I knew that no matter what I looked like when I saw you, you would find something to say about me that would make me glow. Whether it was my shoes, my bun, a random shirt you’d seen a million times. (“ummmmm, are you going to wear another v-neck t-shirt this weekend?” “Yes, I am.”)


And all I keep thinking about is a quote from Ionesco’s play, “The Chairs”

We will leave some traces for we are people and not cities.

Sarah, no one, NO ONE, left a bigger trace on people than you did. The trace you left on me changed my life. I hope you know that. And the trace you left on everyone you met is beyond measure. People would meet you once and be smitten forever. I don’t know how you did it but you would draw people in and immediately make them feel like the most important person in the room (even though we all knew that, by far, the most important person in the room was, and always would be, you.)

Whenever I’m in a room full of people I don’t know, I think to myself, how would Brucker handle this? And the answer is always that you would flash your megawatt smile, say something completely off the wall and strike up a conversation. And that person would remember the night as the night they met that hilarious, gorgeous, wonderful character by the name of Sarah Brucker.

You called me your best friend almost from the start. It's not a favor I could return right away because I thought, “wait, wait! There's still so much more to know about each other! It’s too soon.” My heart was putting on the brakes because… I don’t know why. But your heart already knew everything you needed to know about me and it was decided. I wish I could've allowed my heart to run as free as you let yours run. 

And Sarah, yes, you were, are and forever will be my best friend.


I went to see the sunrise this morning after a night of no sleep. I don’t know why but I think it's because I needed to prove to myself that the world would still have color without you.

It does. But it's lost a few shades of brilliance.

 
Remember when we were listening to Bon Iver one night and I mentioned how much they had grown on me and how I was now obsessed with that song Skinny Love? Your eyes lit up and you asked, “ohhh! Who’s your skinny love?” I was so thrown by that because it hadn’t occurred to me that I needed to have someone to relate the song to in order to love it.

But I get it now. You lived so big that every second, every moment, every day was imparted with such significance. There were so many songs that you felt explained your thoughts, your experiences, your loves – every lyric was speaking directly at you. Music was such a powerful force for you. (My iPod is almost off-limits right now because half of the songs are connected to my experiences singing them with you in the car or at your place.)

I knew who your skinny love was and Sarah, I now know who my skinny love is. 

It is you. You are my skinny love. I know that for the next month I will put Bon Iver’s and Birdy’s versions of the song on repeat and cry every time I hear it. It will be my soundtrack for grieving you and trying to figure out what will make the world bright again.

I love you so much. The world loves you so much. We are all better for having known you.

Kisses. 

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Olympic quick hits

If you want to experience the Olympics backwards and in a series of snarky, inside-jokey quick hits, here's my twitter

The hardest transition I'm going to have when I get home is laying off the twitter. Because I literally Can't. Stop. Tweeting.

It's been a very, VERY social olympics and everyone here was living on twitter. It became the place to share the experience - with people back home, people at the venues, and, more often than not, people sitting 5 feet away from you. ("oh, that's SO going on twitter")

But twitter was 100% the way I kept up with everything that was going on in the Olympics. (I would say "and the world" but other things stopped happening, right? I mean, I can't imagine anything important going on during the high holy weeks of the Olympics!) I would wake up in the morning and check my twitter feed while still in bed.

The great thing about twitter is that you 'can' keep up with everything. The bad thing about twitter is that now you sort of 'have' to keep up with everything.

Because otherwise, you're this guy


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Team Gymnastics!




(and yes, working the Olympics really IS that glamorous. Pretty sure the walls are made from styrofoam)

Off to find a proper British pub and some proper fish and chips with team gymnastics. We're celebrating surviving the Olympics in one piece and relatively sane of mind. Last night I wandered the streets trying to find a good pint of beer. It was late. It was dark. I only 'sort of' knew where I was and my mother definitely would have killed me. But I got a great beer so, hey, worth it!

Bolting - it's a thing

I thought getting to see track on Tuesday night was a once in an Olympics type thing. So imagine how out of my mind I was when I was handed THIS. The Golden Ticket. Track and Field the night that Usain Bolt, David Rudisha, Nick Symmonds, Ashton Eaton and Trey Hardee will be bringing their beasty Olympic selves. Some of my absolute favorites competing in the biggest night of track and field and I get to BE there?

Are. You. Kidding. Me.


And it wasn't just any old ticket. Oh, no.

It was a twelfth row seat.

Twelfth row.

I'm sorry - what? Yes, I read my ticket correctly. That seat, right down there so close to the field that I could feel Usain Bolt sweating, that's where I'm going to be sitting.


You could have pushed me over with a feather. In fact, I think I sat down right away just in case I DID fall over. I went with the other gymnastics producer and she looked at me laughing and said, "you're going to die, aren't you?"

Yes. Yes, I am.


They intersperse medal ceremonies throughout the evening and typically do the last event of the night before first so we got to see the amazing Allyson Felix get her gold medal. I definitely got teary during the national anthem.


And I had to get used to feeling teary while the national anthem played because I think we heard it another 4 times that night! America = really fast at running.

One of the things I was most excited to see was Nick Symmonds of the U.S. race in the 800m. I've been cheering for him since Beijing and I'm a huge fan of his outspokenness and candor. And of course, his amazing Milwaukee connection.


Looking good, Nick!!


During the first lap (can't believe I got this pic with my phone. It was instagrammed immediately, of course.... although I did at least wait until after the race.)


David Rudisha isn't quite human. But what a face. He has an almost regal presence. Never seems to get too worked up, never seems to get too upset, just calm, even, steady. And then he unleashes his run and you can't believe that what you're seeing is real.


Will Claye taking his victory lap after winning the silver medal in the triple jump. I was screaming my head off and I actually made eye contact with him. So, now we're best friends.


But all of that amazing was just the warm-up to this. The Bolt.


When he entered the arena, other events were still going on but the whole place immediately erupted with flashbulbs. And that was how you know Bolt was in the house.

He oozes charisma. Charm. Magic. And he's awfully fast too.

The place went nuts when he took his victory lap with the other two Jamaicans who went 2-3. Jamaica sweep!


The next morning I saw the BBC interview with Bolt that happened right before this victory lap (or right after? I don't even know) They were live on the air and were trying to talk to all three but they timed the interview to happen right when Rudisha was getting his medal. The Kenyan national anthem started to play right as the BBC broadcaster tried to begin his interview (the bad timing was likely due to the huge, extended celebration that happened after Bolt won, but still)

The three Jamaicans turned towards the flag to pay their respects to Rudisha and the national anthem. But the BBC was live and the broadcaster panicked a bit - or really, showed his complete lack of morals. He grabbed Warren Weir who had finished third and pulled him forward towards the mic saying, "I know you’re listening but we just need a few words." He tried to play it off like it was funny but it was horrible. Weir didn't know what to do so he answered the questions.

Bolt though - he stayed with his back the broadcaster the entire time (and no way was the guy grabbing BOLT like he grabbed Weir). Extremely classy. Jamaica 1. BBC 0.


Oh, and I did a bit of breakdancing in Olympic Park due to a dare issued on twitter.

What?

Everyone was doing the Bolt. Everyone.

Morgan Uceny

If you want to what Olympic sized heartbreak looks like, watch this video of Morgan Uceny as she falls during the finals of the 1500m

VIDEO

For perspective on why this was so devastating, Morgan was a prime contender for the gold at last year's world championship when she was clipped and fell during the final, ended her chances at the podium. Less than a month later, Morgan went on to an invitational stacked with the same level of talent as worlds - and won.

For this to happen again at the Olympics is unbelievably cruel. She was again a favorite for gold - to see her land on the track like that will be one of the saddest images of the games for me.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Fancy Horse Prancy


Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you Dressage. Taking the gold in the category of fanciest Olympic sport. Making it even fancier? It’s not pronounced “dress-edge”. It’s pronounced “Dress –ASSAGE” (like massage)

And now sideways!
And now backwards!
And now in place!
And now even fancier with the prancing! Come on girls, lift those heels!

The swim researcher on dressage:
Really? This is what we’ve come to? We’re giving out medals for this? The same medal that Michael Phelps won? “You just know that horse is saying, ‘ok, let me get this straight. You’re going to give me a carrot to walk around in a circle and then you’re going to get a gold medal?’”

At least the British team won. So that brought happiness. But mostly fanciness.

(ok, horse, go jump something now)

Track Attack


This happened and I could not be happier.

I have become a giant fan of all things running since Beijing and more than anything else, I wanted to get to Olympic Stadium to see some track and field. I've only ever been to one track meet - a high school meet in Wauwatosa which featured good buddy Mike Miller, famed coach of the Whitefish Bay track team. He spent that meet doing a series of calf raises on the side of the track while he encouraged his runners. "I'd PREFER that you ran faster." Now, don't get me wrong, anytime that I get to see Miller is a fantastic time. But my enjoyment was limited because there was no shot-put at that meet.

However, for my second ever track meet - I think I did pretty ok.


It was a gorgeous night - although probably a bit chilly for the athletes.  And my dream of seeing shot-put came true. A very beautiful man from Belarus won - oh wait, it was the women's event? Ohhh...never mind.


That's terrible. And unfair. It's hard to focus on grooming when you're constantly covering your neck with chalk and throwing boulders.

The British were out in full force to cheer on their own.  It is FUN to cheer for that team. I find myself pulling for them as much as the Americans. The Brits are so supportive of their athletes, win or lose. They applaud almost as loud for a fourth place finish as they do for a gold. I love it. Warms my heart.


 Belgians were everywhere.


Seriously. Everywhere. There were a LOT of Belgians there. They had two finalists in the men's 400m and would go nuts anytime a Belgian would compete. 

Allyson Felix of the U.S. in the starting blocks for the heats of the women's 200m.


Kirani James easily winning the men's 400m. He's only 19? Unreal.



Michael Tinsley taking his victory lap after the 400m hurdles.



Medal ceremony for the men's 400m hurdles.


THAT'S what I'm talking about!! Bawling on the medal stand! Yes!!! More, please!

This is Felix Sanchez from the Dominican Republic - he has very unfortunate facial hair habits. When they showed him on the screen before the 400m hurdle final, I thought his vertical mustache would, for sure, be a hinderance. But he overcame and persevered through the unfortunate face situation. Olympic spirit - it's everywhere.

After he won, he let out a huge scream which you couldn't hear but you could feel. The whole place went nuts because of the emotion he showed right after winning and then again on the podium. He started choking up a bit when he received his medal but then completely broke down during his national anthem. When he did, the entire place went crazy - screaming and yelling and cheering for him. At first, I was thinking, 'whoa! whoa! whoa! you can't cheer over the national anthem!.' But you can and, in fact, it's awesome. It was so uplifting, I felt like I was in that scene from the grinch where his heart grew too big but it was like everyone was the grinch and all of our hearts just exploded.

Ok, but Felix. Now that you're an Olympic Champion, shave that off please.

Is anything more fun to watch than steeple? Every lap you get to inch towards the edge of your seat, hold your breath and hope for someone to take a header into the water pit. I mean, hope someone 'doesn't' take a header. Yes. That's what I meant.



American's Bridget Franek and Emma Coburn were in the final - Emma did really well, finishing 6th, I think? But Bridget quickly fell off the pace and was in last place almost from the first lap. And not just last as in, straggling off the end a bit, but last as in a half-lap-behind-them last. I kept watching to see if she was going to surge and try and move up but I'm guessing she was racing with everything she had in her - it just wasn't enough to stay with the pack.

She went to Penn State so I would see her whenever I watched track or cross-country coverage on the Big 10 network. She always came across as so hard-working and likable. It's incredible to think that a few years ago, she was winning the Big 10 cross-country title - and now she's a finalist at the Olympics. A massive achievement which has to such a huge thrill. But still.... Olympics or not, it can't be fun to be running in last place. These athletes are way to competitive to be ok with that.



This is a VERY British Olympics



I think this is British too. It reminds me of their teeth. Just going any which way they feel like.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Life Lessons with Usain Bolt

Yesterday, I couldn't stop thinking about the Sikh Temple shootings. It's hard to comprehend that type of hate in any circumstance but sitting in London, surrounded by the things that I truly believe make people better, it's especially hard.

I will profess all day long that the Olympics are where you see the best of the human spirit. True, we have our doping scandals and our illegal dolphin kicks  - but for the most part, the Olympics are where you go to see the good.

The BBC reported on it as I was getting ready for bed on Sunday and although I had already heard the news, it stopped me in my tracks. I couldn't shake it out of my head.

So on Monday morning, I started thinking about what the world could learn from the Olympics. This is what I ended up writing.

Life Lessons with Usain Bolt

Monday, August 6, 2012

it's with an E



He spelled my name wrong – twice. After I’d spelled it for him – twice. And yes, they’re both for me. Hands off.

Zombie land is upon us.

Golden Gabby


Best thing about the women's all-around competition? I didn't break my chair.

Ha. I'm kidding. That's dumb. The best thing was, duh, GABBY!!!! OH. MY. GOD.

Gabby has absolutely skyrocketed this year. Last year, she was an unpredictable mess. When she made the world team, I was very very nervous - and very very surprised. She didn't have a strong mental game. At. All. But something started to change between nationals and worlds. You could see her confidence starting to grow. It wasn’t clear where it was going to lead but you could see her starting to mature into not only an athlete, but a competitor. 

Things started to get interesting at the American Cup in March. That was where the new Gabby really showed herself. You qualify for that event based on your world ranking and she hadn’t qualified. However, because America was the host country, they were able to enter someone in as a exhibition performance. And wouldn’t you know it, Gabby Douglas goes in there and wins the whole dang thing, beating world champ Jordyn Wieber. Her scores didn’t count but everyone’s eyebrows were raised to the possibility that it could be Gabby, not Jordyn, who would win the crown in London.

There’s something to be said for confidence – believing that you can is half, no, 90 percent, of the battle. From the beginning of the year, Gabby believed she could and you could see it even in the way she held her head. 

I got a chance to interview Nastia Liukin after the competition and we talked about Gabby and what her life looks like from here. She mentioned that the next time Gabby takes the floor for competition, it will feel very different competing as the Olympic champion. I loved how Nastia’s eyebrows raised a bit when she said that. It was very revealing.

It must feel very odd to spend your whole chasing something, get it and then try and figure out how to wear it. You spend all your time wanting it, but not a lot of time planning how you’ll use it. 

And not only will things be different gymnastically - but how does her personal life change? Winning  gold is one thing. Making that gold rain cash is another. She has the potential to be as big as Mary Lou but there’s a certain magic combination that has to happen and although she’s adorable and cute as heck and perky as can be, the question is will she be endearing? 

Carly Patterson looked every bit the part but in the end, didn’t capture the public’s imagination and faded away. Nastia and Shawn were far more marketable - Shawn more so than Nastia in the years immediately following Beijing. But Nastia is proving to be the one who has longevity as a public persona. (Also, I’m calling it now, Shawn is going to be the hottest mess ever by the time she hits 30.)

So the next month will make or break Gabby’s potential as a “celebrity”. I think she has it in her but she’s going to have to ditch some of the godspeak (too polarizing) and hire a speech a coach (complete sentences, please!)

Oh yea, and for the competition itself – my random thoughts.
  • The Russians were totally overscored. But so was Aly. 
  • Gabby was divine. 
  • I was on the edge of my seat and about died waiting for Komova’s score to come up. Mustafina’s bar routine is one of my favorite things ever. 
  • I almost don’t hate Gabby’s floor music anymore. 
  • I definitely still hate Komova’s floor music. But her mom is a legend and Komova is a doll. 
  • I love, love, love the fact that she and Musty actually show emotions. So refreshing. Especially considering the American team gives the worst, most canned, boring interviews ever.  
Today is bar finals and I’ll be rooting hard for GB's Beth Tweddle. She’s an old lady in the sport the one who has led Britain’s resurgence in the sport. Nothing but respect for that woman. Her bars routine looks like a monkey got a hold of a mocha frapacinno and found a jungle gym to show off on.  I LOVE it.

One more thing -
If you want to know what it looks like in the NBC compound when an important gold medal is on the line, watch that 7 minutes of terror video of the crew for Curiosity as they're trying to land it on Mars. That’s about right.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

why we care

I was in the commissary getting my daily feeding tube of coffee inserted when, from down the hall, came a huge set of girly screams (which is weird in itself because normally it’s dude yells … NBC – still an old boys club.) Everyone did that "what are they watching” thing and I thought, "oh, nice! This this really IS going to be equestrian!" Because, you know, girls love ponies. And rainbows.

But as I checked out the monitors, I realized that they were actually watching field hockey. 

A fan for every sport, I guess! Field hockey? That’s a thing?

(To be fair, it was the U.S. team.)

This is what is so fun about the Games – suddenly table tennis is fascinating! (and guys, can we agree it’s ping-pong? Don’t be thinking you’re all fancy because you give yourself a classier name. Ping-pong, I’d know you anywhere.)

I read something about the games in Sports Illustrated on the way over here – it was in the issue with the U.S. gymnasts on the cover – you know, the one you all ran out to buy 2 weeks ago because you were so excited that it featured gymnasts. Oh, that was just me? Ok.

Anyway, there was an article talking about why we care about the Olympics and it contained what I think is the best summary of why the Olympics matter. It made the case that when we watch professional sports like baseball and football, we’re invested because of how they make us feel and what they say about us. You proudly wear your sports team paraphernalia and it becomes a reflection of who you are. Oh, you’re a Giants fan? Well, you must be loud, proud and new york’ish. Oh, you’re a Packers fan? Well, you must be hard-working, fun-loving and like cheese. Oh, you’re a Cubs fan? Well, you must be a total idiot.

When “our team” loses a game or blows a touchdown – they deliver what feels like a personal blow. They did it TO us. It’s a personal attack. “You’re getting paid all this money and you can’t even catch that ball? What are you thinking?!!” (and then you’ve got to go face Jimbo in the office the next day and deal with his ribbing.)

But with the Olympics, it’s different. We don’t care because of how they make US feel. They aren’t a reflection of us – just a reflection of who we wish we were. We see our best selves in these athletes. And we care because of how we want them to feel. Because you know that behind every athlete, there’s one hundred falls, a thousand early morning practices, and a million sacrifices. And thanks to the P&G commercials, we have an incredible visual of a mom who did their laundry.

So when a gymnast falls or a swimmer gets out-touched at the wall or a wrestler gets pinned, our reaction isn’t the same as it is when our favorite baseball player strikes out.

When a football team blows a touchdown, they break our heart. When a swimmer misses the gold by a fraction of a second, our heart breaks for them.

Ahh… so Olympic.


YESSSOOOOO!!!

Have you met Yin Alverez? No? Oh, that's too bad. Because I have. Soooo.... I guess that makes me pretty awesome?

(Yin Alvarez is Danell Leyva's step-dad and coach. And if you didn't get a chance to see it, Danell put up an AMAZING fight last night to come from 19th and grab the bronze medal in the men's gymnastics all-around. And his dad is what happens when you combine unbelievable pride with crack. And I mean that in the nicest way possible.)

Now, keep in mind that as I write this, I haven't seen the NBC broadcast so I have no idea what was actually shown. I'm just going off what I know did happen and what I'm 'guessing' they showed. We watch the entire feed and then in the 5 hours between when it happens and when it airs, NBC edits it  and prepares it for the primetime show. Mostly it's just cutting it down for time but sometimes it involves having the commentators re-call moments because of something that happened later. I.E. pointing something out that is going to become a major factor in the next rotation. Or, more likely, go back and call a routine or an athlete that everyone thought would be a non-factor and then the jerk steps up and does an amazing job and lands himself on the podium, in the process ruining everyone's perfectly planned scripts, segments, and blurbs. Grrr... athletes and their rising to the occasion......

Anyway - that didn't really happen last night. And that has nothing to do with meeting Yin Alvarez, it's just something that came out of my brain place and I wanted to share. You're welcome.

I'm getting to the place where I'm just a little dazed and out of it - I'm not tired, exactly, but I think I'm running on adrenaline reserves right now. I knew it was starting to unravel last night when it took me 30 minutes to write a single paragraph. Not even a whole paragraph - literally only 2 lines recapping Leyva's bronze medal win. And I couldn't. Do it. Just could not get my fingers to translate what my brain was trying to tell them to type. It was almost an out of body experience. A hilarious experience, luckily, since there wasn't a live event going on or anything - but I only had a few things to finish up and then I could leave and I reealllly wanted to catch that midnight shuttle. And my body was just not cooperating with my brain. I guess it wanted to stay?

When I finally got out of there, I sprinted towards the shuttles and CRAP. They weren't running. So at midnight with a brain that was the consistency of mashed potatoes (and not the good kind like my mom makes, more like the instant ones) I had to navigate my way home on the tube. Luckily, I've taken that route a few times but with 3 train transfers and platforms that aren't great on signage, it can get a bit dicey. Luckily, my mashed potato brain had something left and it safely guided my to my bed.

What am I talking about here? I think I meant to write about Danell Leyva's gold and how much I love his step-dad, Yin.

I have completely forgotten what I wanted to write.

hmmmm......

ok.......

Guess I'll do that later - let's just pretend we're still winning and call this post pointless exposition.

Oh - and one other thing because I like to disclose times that I'm really dumb - yesterday I was convinced that "school" was two syllables. CONVINCED.

Turns out it's not. In case you were wondering. And I made an absolute fool of myself because I botched what could have been an amazing joke with that dumb mistake. Nothing worse than a botched joke due to stupidity. Well - having a leg amputated would be bad, but the joke thing is up there.



O.M.G!

So I realize that some pretty amazing things happened yesterday at the Olympics - badmitton was embroiled in a major scandal, some people swam fast (saw OR a few times up there on the screen), Danell Leyva won a bronze medal in gymnastics and Kohei Uchimura - excuse me, KING Uchimura - won the men's all-around (he's the GOAT - I had to look that up but now I know and I'll use it forever. About myself.)  Some other amazing Olympic'ish stuff happened too.

But I didn't really pay attention to any of that - why, you ask with piqued curiosity?

Because the big news in my world was that Justin Bieber tweeted the U.S. girls gymnastics team a note of congrats and pretty much the entire world came to a halt.

I'm only just barely kidding.

Jordyn Wieber, excuse me, Olympic gold medalist Jordyn Wieber, has stated for a long time that her two goals in life were to win an Olympic gold (although I'm guessing she meant in the all-around ::sniffsniff:) and to meet Justin Bieber. After they won the gold, she tweeted out, "we're Olympic champions! Now can we meet Justin Bieber?"

Well, Ryan Seacrest had given the Biebs a heads up that they were dying to meet them so he ... omg, this is so exciting to type..... he tweeted them back!!!

So this was literally news in my world. See?

Pretty sure I could hear the girls screaming all the way from the Olympic Village.

Oh, yea, and Barack Obama called them to say congratulations too but seriously - who? Can that guy sing and dance like this???



I didn't think so.

I do sincerely hope that Jordyn gets to meet Justin because if that's what makes her happy, then she deserves it. (sigh - I still can't watch her face after her vault without getting a bit choked up.)

I have no doubt that the Wieber-Bieber thing is going to happen. Get ready America. We're about to get Ieberized.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Best. Ever.


This pretty much sums up my feelings about the women's gymnastics team final last night.

I broke my chair.

No. Seriously. I broke my chair.

That was the most incredible set of gymnastics from an American team, ever. They hit every single routine and they didn't just the routines - they slammed them out of the park. Into another ballpark. 407 miles away.

I was so nervous leading into the competition. It began at 4:30 and around 4:15, I started to get waves of nausea. My stomach was doing more flips than Maroney's vault, my arms were tingling, my brain was doing the Macarena.

The first moment that calmed the nausea - Jordyn was the lead-off on vault and, of course, the big question of the night was "is Jordyn going to be able to put the disappointment of not making the all-around behind her?" The second she started running down the runway, I knew she was fine.

She was so focused and determined and when she hit that board, her vault just exploded. Higher and stronger than I think I've ever seen from her. And when her face broke into that huge smile as she landed, well.. omg... I'm getting verklempt just thinking about it. She had put the biggest devastation of her life behind her - something people had been telling her was her destiny since she was 10 - and here she was totally focused on doing her very best for the team. Just wow - what an incredible kid.

But it was THIS. (click it - watch it. love it. come back.)

Maroney's vault - the most amazing piece of gymnastics that I have ever seen. Ever.

That vault is so hard. It's insane that she gets that much height and power in the first place but last night, it was even higher, faster, stronger and better than she's ever done it before. Scratch that - it was better than ANYone has ever done any vault ever before. 

The entire room erupted in cheers and my heart about flew out of my chest. The researchers and I were glued to the replays (which they showed about 10 times as they worked on the live show). I think we were all trying to scrape our jaws off the floor. It was that good. Everyone in the room recognized that they had just seen something special.

Russia was on vault next and they had a somewhat decent performance - their last girl had a huge stumble off to the side, giving the US girls a bit of a cushion, scoring wise.

(The teams compete in groups of two countries and who you compete with is decided by the results from the qualifying rounds - so since the U.S. and Russia finished 1-2 in qualifying, they rotated in the same group together. Made for great sporting action as you could watch the U.S. do vault and then immediately compare Russia's vaults)

After training last week, it was clear that it was going to come down to Russia and the U.S. for the team title so I basically didn't even watch anyone but those two teams. (After it was over, I realized, oh crap - I don't know who got the bronze! Turned out it was Romania. Totally forgot they were there by the end of it)

We had all 4 of the big tv's in the room tuned to the gymnastics (sorry other sports) with one of the feeds on the chines/romania rotation, one on the US/russia rotation. And then the other two tvs were on the broadcast feeds - one on the world feed and then the other on the NBC broadcast that they were building for primetime later that day. My eyes were constantly darting from the US, NBC and world tvs - but I think I peeked over at Romania and China maybe 3 times? Once when Romania was on bars (oh, they don't look as terrible as they usually do), once when they were one floor (oh, nice Izbasa!) and once when a Chinese girl was crying ("this ain't no city championship!")

I was also following along on twitter to get the updates from the arena of the stuff that maybe we weren't seeing. So my ADD was in Disneyland.

The teams rotated to bars and I collected myself a bit (I was also working like a beast during this - or trying to anyway, the system we use to build everything kept crashing on me and I was split between having gymnastics heartattacks and having work heartattacks.)

But it was beam that made me nervous. Specifically, Gabby Douglas on beam. The NBC feed kept showing a replay of Aly grabbing Gabby's shoulders after bars (right before they head to beam) and saying, "you're fine, you're fine" obviously trying to calm her down. (awww - Aly - she's turned into an amazing team leader over the past year) Gabby has a checkered past on beam - she can be great. But she also be a bigger mess than Lindsey Lohan. When she lets her nerves get the best of her, it's a disaster (in fact, that will be the key for her during the all-around. If she can hit beam, she should win)

So the team goes to beam and the waves of nausea start coming back. I tucked my feet underneath me in my chair so I could sit a little higher and also so that I could just contain myself a bit. Because, duh, still working here. Can't fall apart now.

So Kyla goes and BANG! Best routine of her life. Amazing.

And now it's Gabby. I don't know if I was breathing. I looked over at Scott and Dave (the researchers) and they could both barely look at the tvs. So gymnastics row was a hot mess.

And then 16 year old Gabby Douglas gets up there and competes with a composure that is almost unimaginable. So calm. So confident. And so patient. She just took her time, let it happen and when she landed her dismount, I think I finally started to breathe for the first time in 5 minutes.

Aly was next and I knew that even if she had a few bobbles, she'd be fine. So I went to untangle myself out of my chair, still pretty hyped up over Gabby's beam, and I got my foot caught in the arm rest. Well, I don't have time for this! So I jerk my foot around a bit and ::CRACK:: broke the arm rest right off.

That's about right.

I barely even flinched at the time. After the event, though, I was like, "awww, dang! my chair!" But at the time, my only thought was, "whoops - oh crap, what if the russians get gifts like that on floor?"

It's cool. I'll just go steal Bob Costas' chair. He'd want me to have it.

When the Russians were up on beam, gymnastics row was still freaking out a bit -  the Russians were a bit of a mess but the judges were still giving them insanely high scores. We started to get nervous that the judges were doing everything possible to keep them in contention for the gold. Mustafina stumbled all over the place, only just barely not falling off twice and got almost the same score as Aly, who basically hit. What??!?! Ugh. gymnastics.

We really didn't have to worry because the russians absolutely imploded on floor. I expected them to have some errors but I never, ever expected to see a floor rotation that bad. And poor Grishina - landed a cartwheel on her elbow? At the Olympics? Hope she enjoys Siberia.

The American girls took the floor and it was basically over before it even started. They just needed to land most of their passes on their feet and they would be the winners. They did that and more. By the time Aly went, she only needed a 10 (used to be the golden standard, not it's a score that means you gave it a real quitter's try). She did two passes and Scott yells, "that's it! She can stop now!" With those two passes, she had pretty much scored enough points to win.

Jordyn's floor was electrifying, Gabby's music was almost listenable. And Aly had the entire arena wishing they were Jewish with her Hava-Naglia music.

Watching the girls stand there, holding hands and waiting for the scores to come up - AAAHHH!!! I could barely stand it. But it was Jorydn's face that did me in. She was glowing and so happy. And as Scott tweeted out (which REALLY got me) - "And just like it was always supposed to be, Jordyn Wieber is an Olympic gold medalist."

Tears. Hearts. Love.

Amazing.