Thursday, March 19, 2009


Alright, class. Pencils down.

After all the hemming and hawing. After all the scratching off and erasing. And after all the second guessing. It's time to turn in your brackets. March Madness has officially begun. Which means all across the nation people are sitting at their desks, set on automatic refresh, brackets and highlighters in hand, anxiously chatting with co-workers about their picks, ready (well, as ready as they can be) for what comes next. Ready for the madness. And as we sit anticipating the first tip off, we're enjoying that familiar feeling that comes each March. That feeling of mastery. That premonition that this year we got it right.

Well, I hate to burst your bubble, but enjoy that feeling while it lasts. 48 hours from now (or for some of us 6 hours from now), you'll be staring at your bracket wondering how you ever got it so wrong. Seriously considering ripping your bracket to shreds. Wishing you wouldn't have listened to Barack-etology quite so intently. Wondering why you ever thought Michigan State could make it to the Final Four after nearly losing to the Hoosiers a few short weeks ago. Begging to get your $10 back from the office pool. But that, my friends, is the thing I love most about March Madness. The madness itself.

You see, when it comes down to it, it's not entirely about the team that's the most talented. Or the most prepared. Or the most experienced. Sure, it's a little bit of all those things, but (and here's what we tend to overlook when filling out our brackets) there's also an element of sheer luck. It's that luck - that on any given day, any team can win or lose to any other team - that drives us all, well, mad. Even the best and brightest of us can't predict what's going to happen. Not me. Not you. Not Digger. Not Jay. Not Bobby. Not even Dicky V. No one can. In fact sometimes (much to my dismay) it seems like when it comes to March Madness, the more you know, the less you know.

Everyone "knows" that at least one #12 seed always seems to upset a #5 seed. In fact, 31 times since 1985, they have pulled an upset in the first round. And, up until last year, everyone "knew" that all four #1 seeds never make it to the final four. But, really, what we know is the past. This year and this tournament is the present. This tournament is another chance to make history. To re-write what we all "know" about March Madness. And another chance for me to finally win the office pool.

Unfortuantely, I'll likely lose again this year. Lose to the woman in production who doesn't know a three-pointer from a technical foul. Lose to my roommate who will base her choices on school mascots. Or number of letters in the team name. Or the color of their jerseys.

But that's the best part. We all know that we could do just as well flipping a coin, but yet we fill out our brackets carefully each year. Each year we look with pride on our masterpiece. At least until tip-off.

And now, just so you can share in what I'm sure will be my misery, my 2009 picks:

Final Four: MSU, Pitt, UNC, Mizzou
Final Game: MSU, UNC
Champion: UNC

What can I say? Go HEELS!

Friday, March 13, 2009

happily ever after?

Over the last six months, on my way to and from the gym in the wee hours of the morning, I have had the following encounters:
  • A gigantic, disgusting rat ran in between my legs, mid stride. His enormous feet pitter-pattering over my gym shoes and his God-knows-where-it's-been-fur grazing my ankle. Skin to skin. I screamed.
  • A seemingly sweet bunny rabbit ran across my path, a couple yards ahead, stopping half-way over the sidewalk. He looked my direction and, instead of continuing on his way, stared me down and began to run directly towards me. I (after seriously considering a game of chicken with him) leaped out of the way.
  • A ferocious, vulture-like looking bird dive-bombed me, walking out of my front door, from the electric wires up above. I, no joke, dropped to the ground to avoid his aerial attack.
  • A owner-accompanied, typically mild-manner dog pounced up on me as I walked by. His head, literally, was face to face with mine. The nails of his front feet left (albeit very tiny) marks on my face and shoulders for the rest of the day. I've never walked by another dog without wincing since.
And, finally, this morning as I drearily walked my tired self to Bally's, I just barely missed a falling acorn thrown (I swear directly at me) from the squirrel perched on the branch above.

It got me to wondering . . . what kind of paradoxical fairytale world am I living in when animals are attacking me rather than helping me sing my morning song and do my chores?

And (I'm almost scared to ask, but) what does that mean for my Prince Charming?

Thursday, March 12, 2009

if a tree falls in the forest . . .

When I was younger, I really, truly, with all my heart believed that I was going to be famous. I wasn't 100% sure of what exactly I was going to be famous for, but I was going to be famous nonetheless. And so I put my heart and soul into every activity I thought would someday be my ticket to notoriety. When I was the only girl playing on my YMCA basketball team in 3rd grade, I thought I'd be the first girl in the NBA. . . When I was roller skating in my basement to my favorite Mariah Carey song, I thought I was going to be an gold medal-winning Olympic figure skater. . . When I was belting out my solo as Ms. Lana the Ladybug in our 4th grade musical, I thought I was going to be a pop singer. . . When I was sitting behind my makeshift news desk, reciting the news (very informative, I'm sure, as it was typically from yesterday's paper that I had pulled out of our recycling bin), I thought I was going to be the next Barbara Walters. . . When I . . . you get the picture, right?

Clearly, I didn't have a confidence problem as a child. Quite the opposite, actually. Maybe my parents instilled in me just a little too strongly that I could be anything I wanted to be when I grew up. Or maybe I read "The Little Engine that Could" and took it's lesson to heart too many times. But, whatever the reason, I firmly believed that I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. And, come to think of it, I still find myself wanting to hold steadfast to this mantra even as my 25 year-old, jaded current self. I mean, why not?

But there was one little problem with my plan to be famous. See, I could stand alone on stage in front of a packed auditorium and sing my lungs out. I could recite a perfect speech in front of crowds of strangers.
I could deliver a stellar sports report to a throng of stuffed animals. But, heaven forbid my parents wanted to hear me rehearse. Or my best friend wanted to hear me sing. I'd clam up. There was something terrifying to me about performing in front of just one or two people. Especially when those people were the closest people to me. What if I made a mistake? What if I didn't do my best? What if they didn't like it? The opinion of strangers never seemed to mean as much, or cut as deep, as that from people who knew me the best.

I actually thought I had overcome this fear as I grew up. That I had become comfortable sharing with those people closest to me. But starting this blog has showed me that I may not be all that different than my 10 year-old self. You see, I've been doing this for a month and I half now, but I've only told two people in the entire world that I'm doing it. (Thanks, LGC!) Not even my best friend has any clue. And it's not that I'm trying to hide it. I'm just terrified. Terrified that I'll share it and people won't like what they see. That it'll be a failure. It's like if I keep it to myself then it's success only depends on what I think about it. (Easy audience, right?) I can be famous in my own mind. But if I share it, I have no control over what happens next. Will they even read it? And, if they read it, will they like it? Or will they just tell me they like it because they're my friends and that's what they're supposed to do? Will they secretly wonder why I ever thought I had anything important enough to say to write it down? Much less post it for all the world potentially to see?

Those are all questions that I don't have the answers to. But I think that's okay. Because as the famous question goes, if a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, will it make a sound? If a girl blogs and blogs about everything on her mind and no one's there to read it, will it ever make a difference?

So, here goes nothing.

Welcome, friends, to my blog. To my mind. To my other third.

Monday, March 9, 2009

active > passive

I've always had a sort of fondness for the English language. For writing. For words. I just love how certain words just seem to spring into life the moment you write them on the page. Like you can't imagine them ever sitting still and waiting on something to happen. Regardless of their actual meaning, there's something about some words in the English language that just seems so alive. Demonstrative. Enigma. Superfluous. Abominable. Indubitably. They just make me think. No one could ever accuse demonstrative of being shy. Indubitably will never be lost in the crowd. These words have personality and pizzaz. Spirit and energy. They may be misunderstood, but they're never boring.

It's not just this (admittedly a little unique) fascination with words that got me so caught up in the English language. It's so much more. The Chief Creative Director at our advertising agency has always stressed to writers the importance of the active voice. As he ascertains, an active voice always beats a passive voice. (Insert a brief flashback to 3rd grade here: In sentences written in the active voice, the subject performs the action expressed in the verb. The subject acts. On the other hand, in sentences written in the passive voice, the subject receives the action expressed by the verb. The subject is acted upon.) And although he's usually using this mantra to teach some copywriter how to clean up his or her copy, I think he's actually on to something a whole lot bigger. Acting is always better than waiting. Doing is always better than letting something happen. Active always beats passive.

I must admit, that's much easier in theory than it is in real life. Living your life's moments in an active voice sometimes calls for a lot more courage than we think we have. It calls for jumping without knowing whether or not there's a net to catch us. It's following our heart, even when our head can't quite keep up. It's, quite frankly, sometimes really scary. Every time you act, there's a chance that your action can spin out of control. That your action can cause a reaction that you weren't prepared for. That your action may make it impossible to ever go back. That you may fail.

But I have to believe there's something beautiful in that. I have to believe that doing beats being done to. I have to believe that it's better to regret something you did than it is to regret waiting for something to happen. I have to believe that "I lived my life." always beats "My life was lived." That active always beats passive.

Sure, it's enigmatic. But it's never boring.