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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The case of the ex

Anna Benson may win an award for being the “craziest-soon-to-be-ex.”

The soon-to-be former wife of former MLB player Kris Benson allegedly broke into his house, armed and bulletproof-vested, demanded $30,000 and basically threatened to either beat or shoot the stuffing out of him.

Then told the New York Post this:

“I’m a good girl, a nice girl,’’ insisted the buxom ex-stripper, who now says she wants to start a bulletproof-vest company. “I would never hurt [Kris]. I am still in love with him.”

It’s just that “we have been married for 15 years, and he can’t keep it in his pants. He can’t stop f–king my friends, in my house. But that doesn’t mean that I don’t love him.”

***

What is the craziest thing an ex has ever done to you? It will take some detail, but I’ll tell you about a former beau of mine from college.

He was tall, blond and adorable. We met at the college newspaper and we didn’t initially hit it off – he later admitted that he thought I was “scary” and “mean” and “that girl would eat me alive.”

We bumped into each other after spring break – when we were both tanned, rested and healthy – and watched the NCAA championship game that night at his apartment with his roommate. Thus the beginning of our relationship. We spent a few months together, including two long-distance, but I reached a point where I had to take the next step of my life without him. (that’s called being an adult – he was 23 and still in college, while I was 21 and starting out the rest of my life.) It wasn’t easy, but I hung up the phone on a Tuesday night in September and knew I would never look back.

About a year after we broke up, I stumbled upon a website he had created. When I scrolled down, there were about a dozen photos of him and I on a graduation trip to Toronto. I was creeped out seeing my face smiling back at me as he and I had our arms wrapped around the Stanley Cup, or seeing us sitting on a deck over Yonge Street drinking beer, or reading every passage where he referred to me as his “ex-girlfriend.”

So I called my best friend from college, trying to get over the creepiness of all of it. She, being the romantic she was, reassured me that it wasn’t stalkerish or inappropriate but that instead, my ex only continued to hold a candle for me. I took her word for it. And erased the history from my computer’s internet browser. I never wanted to stumble upon that page again. It was too real of a reminder.

About five years later, an email showed up in my queue. From the ex. He was visiting Colorado and his friend had told him he recognized my byline in the local paper. Could we get together for lunch? Sure. Five years had passed. Whatever wounds there were had likely healed and I’d moved on. So we met in Boulder and had a great time, drinking beer with his friend, white water rafting nearby, zipping around the town and going back to my house, where the ex and I had a heart-to-heart talk. The morning that the news broke of Kobe Bryant being accused of rape, the ex – whom I had permanently placed in the “friend zone” – was on a plane back to Philadelphia. And I knew I’d clearly moved on.

He hadn’t.

His friend and I became good friends and one night over beers, my new friend insisted he tell me something. Remember that trip when your ex visited me and we spent the day with you? And the three other times he has come out to visit? Your ex planned all of it because he wanted to get back together with you.

What? He was so five years ago!

Before Googling was cool and before Facebooking was in vogue, my ex had digitally trailed me as I relocated across the country. He knew where I lived, he knew what beats I covered, he kept track of my friends and our mutual friends, and when he realized a mutual friend lived near me in Denver, he bought a plane ticket to Colorado and insisted on going out of his way to visit me.

I was horrified. I’d just broken up with a boyfriend, was dating two other men at the time and here was an ex, appearing out of nowhere, not just trying to jumble my feelings further, but trying to re-light the twisted candle he still held. And I don’t know what was worse, blatant stalking or latent stalking.

Wasn’t going to happen. So I called him on it. Picked up the phone, called him and asked him what his intentions were when he came to visit. Then he was horrified, as if me presenting him this evidence was an attack on him. And he said one thing to me:

“You damn bitch! You goddamn bitch!”

He never denied it. I hung up the phone as he kept shouting. I haven’t heard from him since.

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”?

Steers get branded, you know.

“Getting hacked” is the new way of saying “I really messed up.” At least when it involves the Twittersphere. Tyler Seguin used it as an excuse when a post appeared on his Twitter account Saturday night.

Image

(h/t CBSSports.com Eye on Hockey)

Now only Seguin knows whether or not he wrote what was posted on Twitter. But from this point on, “Seguin” could likely be linked to “homophobia” – this is the second tweet of his since April that’s included an anti-gay reference. Even though Patrick Burke of You Can Play basically gave Seguin a pass this time around, Seguin might as well be branded at this point – isn’t that a Texas tradition when it comes to steers?

Language? Please. The transgression prompted Seguin to censure himself – and suspend his account. And now, Jim Nill has questions about his latest acquisition.

“My problem with social media is you just don’t know how much of it is true,” the Stars general manager told the Dallas Morning News. “I think, as a society, we are trained to believe 100 percent of it is true, and that’s obviously not the case. It’s difficult to validate how things might happen, whether someone was truly hacked, or just what might have happened. I can’t go off hearsay, I need to ask questions.”

The Dallas Stars did damage control, too, posting a three-tweet disclaimer in response to post on Seguin’s account on @dallasstars. (Not saying Seguin did it, though the post did end up on his Twitter account.)

Still, it would behoove the organization to bring in the good folks from Burke’s You Can Play initiative, which aims to fight homophobia in hockey. One bad apple …

Tyler Seguin, I know you’re 21 years old. I know you run with other 21-year-olds. Maybe a few 19- and 20-year-olds, too. And I get that 21-year-olds make stupid decisions. Many of us were 21 once, too. Yet as a 21-year-old athlete who makes millions of dollars, you’re held to a different standard.

But even if you didn’t do it, don’t leave your phone sitting around. Or, if you’ve had one too many, don’t TWI – tweet while intoxicated. Things happen.

Haven’t you ever heard of screengrabs? And were you even born when the movie your Twitter account referenced was released?

Hate mail, laxbro style

Cabell Maddux, let’s talk.

People like you are exactly the reason I hated the laxbro culture before it was cool to hate on the laxbro culture. Years before it was cool.

Way to write down the way you really felt about a kid leaving your club lacrosse program. Clearly, you didn’t think this whole thing out and were pissed because you lost a good chunk of money.

Via deadspin, an excerpt of the email you sent to the parent:

You have taken advantage of me and madlax and now you are doing a huge diservice to your son. I am hurt and angry. You have no clue how this lacrosse world works. Wow. You have really screwed him. And by the way it is a big deal and I will let every one of his teammates know. His teammates will hate him for years for quitting and playing for a rival club. Trust me on that.

Cabell, people like you are the reason I don’t have children. I would rather shell out six grand to have it rain on my vacation in Europe than I would to have you berate my child and my own dignity because your ego is bruised and because your wallet is bruised.

People like you forgot the cardinal rule of documentation. Don’t leave a paper trail.

And people like you are why I pick up the phone to call you and tell you that you are way out of line and that you are in no way indicative of the coaching community. (In fact, you’re kind of a sorry excuse.) Unless you screen my calls and avoid me in public places, then I have to email you. And you already know how I feel about documentation.

To the parents who explained their case as to why they no longer want their son to be involved in Madlax, good for you. Now let your eighth grader go ride his bike, or play some video games or light Roman candles in the neighborhood golf course. Or whatever it is that eighth graders do these days. You know, actually *be* an eighth grader, as opposed to being a brainwashed lacrosse-only machine, who, by the time he is 20, has that empty look in his eyes each time he puts on his shoulder pads.

That look? That’s called “regret for missing out on my teenage years.”

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.