A good teammate

I was terrified of Karen. My fear of her went back to the fourth grade, when she would pick on me in the minutes before elementary school began, as we waited for the doors to open. When those doors finally opened each morning, it was a relief. I could finally escape Karen’s fifth-grade taunting.
Six years later, I tried out for the field hockey team at Broadneck. Karen had become one of the area’s more accomplished field hockey and lacrosse players, and had already been elected a captain of the varsity team.
Oh, no, I thought, strapping on my goalie pads, Karen’s going to make my life hell again.
The complete opposite happened. While Karen ran with the “in crowd” at school – she dated the quarterback and drove a hot sports car, always seemed to be going to the best weekend parties and had the best seat at the prime table in the cafeteria – she somehow was able to transcend that part of her high school life when we went to the hockey field.
We had gotten older and were contributing to a common cause as part of a team. Karen saw some sort of importance in each of her teammates, and some sort of value in them.
Karen treated her teammates with respect. Karen worked her ass off. Karen talked to everyone and told us something encouraging.
Karen became a junior college All-American and earned a scholarship to play lacrosse at Towson University. Then she became a coach. And a wife. And a mother. And waited tables. And did wedding planning. Then decided to try something new.
Karen recently stepped down as the head lacrosse coach at the high school from which we graduated. She won three state championships and has helped countless girls go to college and play college lacrosse, and probably has helped young women think about more than just lacrosse.
The notes people left on her Facebook page were touching. Former classmates of ours congratulated her on her successes and supported her choice to step down in order to take care of her family.
Former players of hers thanked them for her wisdom and guidance. I thanked her for being a fantastic teammate.
I like to joke sometimes that “You can take the girl out of Broadneck … oh, no, wait, you can’t take the girl out of Broadneck.”
When I find out my former classmates are making a positive impact and positive contributions to the community that helped shape us, I’m proud to say they were the people who made an impression upon me years ago as classmates and teammates.
Twenty years ago, there weren’t a lot of those people. Karen, however, was definitely one of them.

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Why I love Meghan McCain

Politics aren’t my strong suit. There are some things that A) just aren’t worth arguing about and B) can never be agreed upon even after argument.

But I love personalities. And I love Wendy Williams. And I love the array of guests she has on – including Meghan McCain.

You’re going to relate Meghan McCain to “Republican,” right? But she’s not what has been propagated as the “stereotypical Republican.”

Flip the equation – what’s the stereotype of a Democrat?

McCain’s appeal is that she wants to do something about her party – which is sorely maligned. McCain holds firm to her principles but sees the societal benefit in the importance of her party evolving. She’s receptive to different perspectives, she considers issues that impacts us as individuals … and she even owns up to smoking marijuana!

Over the winter I read “America, You Sexy Bitch: A Love Letter to Freedom,” which she co-authored with comedian Michael Ian Black. I will admit, I had high expectations for it.

Meghan, if you ever read this: I loved this book. It should be required reading for every political, pop culture, geography or anthropology junkie. It reinforced my appreciation for the differences between people and the efforts we make to bridge those differences – or at least to understand the differences without resorting to conflict.

When I finished it, I set the book down and said, “you know what? I’d have a beer with Meghan McCain.”

Music, anyone?

I am an unabashed music fan. And even in a hectic summer, sometimes there’s nothing better than simply driving around and listening to satellite radio’s offerings. One thing I’ve noticed about the popular summer music so far is that there’s definitely a throwback feel to it. Hearing these songs take me back to the early 1980s … though I still have a Huey Lewis CD somewhere in my car.

Fitz and the Tantrums, “Out of My League” – because it reminds me of the B-52s’ “Legal Tender.”

Capital Cities, “Safe and Sound” –

Daft Punk and Pharrell, “Get Lucky” – Actually, Daft Punk’s entire album, “Random Access Memories,” has a late-disco, early New-Wave feel to it.

(Sidebar: Pharrell Williams is uber-talented.)

Robin Thicke/Pharrell/T.I., “Blurred Lines” – I’m posting a link to the Amazon MP3 sample because the video is absolutely atrocious, just a bunch of models with blank stares in flesh-colored underwear dancing around the three guys. So unoriginal.

I could go off on another completely different tangent here, so I will. This is one of the catchiest and funniest songs I’ve listened to this summer. Each time I listen to it, I think, “OK, this is about some douchebag guys getting drunk at a club and using poor come-on lines.” That would have been a much better visual.

Robin Thicke had this to say about the song, in a recent interview on Power 106 in Los Angeles: “We made the whole record in an hour and were walking around the studio like two old men hollering at young girls from the porch. So it’d be like, ‘Hey, girl. Come here.'”

But someone took exception to the lyrics, and labeled them as “kind of rapey.”

For the record, I don’t condone sexual violence of any kind. But calling a song about trying to hook up with women “kind of rapey”? Have you ever listened to Stone Temple Pilots’ “Sex Type Thing”?

See me run. No. See me lumber.

I don’t like to run. I don’t like jogging. At all. But I do it because I need something to offset all of the biking and weight training I do – cross training, if you will.

I am in awe of people who willingly run 26.2 miles in a single morning. Not because they have finished it but more along the lines of, “Are you crazy to do that to your body?”

Then again, people look at me like I’m crazy when I take my bike out for 26.2 miles three times a week. So it’s all relative.

But Sunday morning I had a minor breakthrough. Maybe the weather was right (cool, overcast). Maybe I got enough sleep. Maybe I had a good breakfast (two cups of coffee, and a bowl of Greek yogurt and strawberries). Or maybe I just felt like, OK, I’m gonna go run, oh yay.

But I started pacing … and only stopped twice. Once because I felt pain in my ankle and once when I hit the two-mile mark. This is a big accomplishment. I never, ever thought I had the body type or the willpower for jogging. When I started jogging less than three weeks ago, completing two miles was a struggle. Then I read about an acquaintance who was proud of herself for running one mile. I felt better about myself. And then I thought something:

You know what? I’ll lumber through my three miles twice a week and keep feeling good about myself afterwards.