Category Archives: rage

The Hierarchy of Heartbreak – Or Weekends Without College Football

We left the house in the third quarter, right after the Aggies took a 44-10 lead over UCLA.

It was our 17th wedding anniversary. We had reservations — and a gift card! — for Flemings. We arrived early and waited in the bar while our table was being prepared: 44-17. In the blink of an eye to start the fourth quarter, it was 44-24.

“Uh-oh.”

“They probably have the second team in by now. Nothing to worry about,” Pat said cheerfully, as the hostesss escorted us to our table.

They put little paper hearts on the table to honor our special day. Since it was a Sunday, I hadn’t checked the schedule to see whether football would conflict with our dining experience, but it was too late to reschedule. In literary circles, this is called foreshadowing.

To commemorate Baylor’s loss on Saturday, Pat ordered a bottle of Liberty School cabernet: Such delicious irony with bright notes of blackberry and undertones of toasted oak, without the rich self-righteousness and bitter hypocrisy of Jerry Falwell’s core curriculum.

Then my Apple Watch skipped a beat with a text from my old friend Jim (an LSU Tiger):

WTH happened? In boredom, I turned off the game an hour ago!!!

And we checked the score: 44-38 with less than 2 minutes left in the game.

“They can’t. There’s no way,” Pat said, with the confidence of an LSU Tiger who no longer fears the Mad Genius of Les Miles late-game decision-making.

WTH happened? We got out-coached. The glaring lack of discipline that has been the hallmark of the Sumlin era made its debut in September rather than waiting to crush us in November.

It was the second-biggest comeback in NCAA history. The Bruins scored five — 5!?! — touchdowns in a little over a quarter. Yes, our backup kicker missed a field goal that could have put it away. Yes, our starting quarterback was out with a foot injury. Yes, safety Donovan Wilson also injured his foot… but he wasn’t the only defensive player on the field. We missed FIVE chances to stop UCLA quarterback Josh Rosen’s ascendancy to the Downtown Athletic Club’s hallowed stage in December. We just had to stop him one time.

ONE TIME!

We ran roughshod over them throughout the first half — and in the second half, we decided to work on our passing game with an untested freshman? Our O-line looked like world beaters in the first half… and then they looked like Spaghetti-Os. Uh-oh. Roughly the same personnel were on the field, but the exact same coaches were on the sidelines: None of the running backs broke their ankles, and we knew we had issues at linebacker.

As we finished the bottle of Liberty School, my weekends suddenly unfurled like a flag of furious joy and well-deserved relief: Now that college football is no longer a part of my core being, I’ve got a lot of spare time on my hands… and a better outlook on life.

Learn to butcher a hog? Why not! It’s not like I’m gonna waste three hours watching us get  a participation ribbon against Nicholls State. Re-do our master bathroom? Hell yeah, especially since I don’t have to scour 600 channels in search of the University of Louisiana-Lafayette tilt: I’ll just zip on over to HGTV and binge watch The Property Brothers. Enter that mountain bike race? Of course! It’s better than destroying my manicure during another Arkansas debacle.

I can motherfucking macrame new curtains for the whole house if I want, because I’ve got all kinds of time, bitches. My Saturdays are now open.

I knew this day was coming: When we got our NFL Sunday Ticket renewal in July, we decided to cancel it after 20 years of loyal viewership. We didn’t watch it enough to justify the price tag, and autumn is prime mountain biking, hiking and general outdoor fun time in Arizona.

DirecTV played Let’s Make a Deal and by the end of Pat’s negotiations, they were paying us $5 a month to keep Sunday Ticket.

There’s a lot of good science out there investigating sports and traumatic brain injury (and the contents of this blog are mine alone and do not reflect the linguistic tenor or editorial bent of my nonprofit employer or its parent). There’s also a lot of great reporting on the football-overlords’ roles in obfuscating that science. There are professional athletes asking whether this game is worth the risk — and more importantly, there are moms asking the same questions.

There are also moms who think that their precious angels (and future Tiki-torchbearers) are deserving of full-ride scholarships just by virtue of having been enrolled in ridiculously expensive sports camps since the age of 5… which is another good reason that I’m no longer a sportswriter: Sport is rife with economic inequity, and it’s bottled at every level with a hypocrisy-by-volume ratio to rival Liberty University’s hiring of Baylor’s former rape-ignoring athletic director.

Don’t hate the players, hate the game: At least that’s what the young people say, and that’s a fair assessment of how I feel. I love Texas A&M and cherish my time there. I just don’t know that I care that much anymore about football, now that we have become the Vanderbilt of the SEC West… or worse, the Texas of the SEC (overrated, underperforming — and by the way, who were the Darrell Royal apologists that thought it was a good idea to give the Longhorns a preseason ranking?).

Sure, I love the trash-talking that floods my feeds every Saturday, and I enjoy the virtual pep rallies that ensue among my old friends. But I’d rather reunite with them around a cold beer at Duddley’s Draw than at a football game that could take three years off my life.

I’ll still have the Hierarchy to fall back on: It’s worth some good laughs and keeps my design skills up to speed, especially when I’m waiting on my pot of gumbo to finish. But you don’t have to reschedule your Saturday for the New Mexico tilt in order to play the Hierarchy of Hate: It’s like hitting a 16 when the house is showing a 10. Take your hit — you’ll win or lose — and you don’t have to agonize about the outcome.

A Modesty Proposal

imagesNorth Carolina now requires schools and public agencies to have gender-segregated bathrooms. Importantly, the state is requiring said agencies to police their own potties to prevent people from visiting bathrooms that do not correspond to their biological sex. This presents a few problems:

  • Will people with gonadal mosaicism have to report to the supervisor at the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to ask which potty to use?
  • What happens to desperate women at crowded Tar Heels games? (Admit it, you’ve thought about it, even if you haven’t done it.)
  • What about Dads whose daughters really need to go pee-pee while they are waiting in line at the Department of Revenue – and there is no family loo?
  • What about small state offices that have only one restroom, where employees have managed for years to go about their business without getting in each other’s business?

Besides being yet another GOP-run state that seems to believe the concept of “Small Government” is one that is defined as being small enough to fit in your bedroom and my vagina, North Carolina is just plain mean. Let’s be honest: This law targets transgender people for no other reason than the fact that they were born differently from what certain North Carolinian legislators (and their out-of-state legislation sponsors) believe is normal. A couple hundred years ago, these same legislators likely would have burned disabled people at the stake for witchcraft or tried to exorcise their epilepsy. Oh wait, they still do that.

Many thoughtful corporate leaders and elected officials – shout-out to PayPal and the state of New York – are leading economic protests to punish North Carolina for its transgender toileting transgressions. Money talks, assholes walk.

I believe we private citizens can also let our voices be heard through peaceful protest:

A Modest(y) Proposal: The Shit-In

  1. Eat a hearty meal of broccoli, bananas, sugar free Jelly Bellies (don’t ask how I know this), prunes, more bananas, bran, rice, pinto beans and oranges. Wash down with a hot tankard of coffee.
  2. Fill up on gas (the kind you put in your car).
  3. Drive to the North Carolina Legislative Building from Virginia (~90 miles via South Hill), South Carolina (~120 miles via Cheraw) or Georgia (You’re gonna need a hybrid vehicle and extra cans of gas ~340 miles via Lavonia – and you may want to stop for your pre-game meal in South Carolina) but not do not drive from Tennessee: They are considering a similar bill. Remember, you do not want to leave any economic residue in North Carolina, only organic material.
  4. Go to your non-biologically assigned toilet. Enter a stall. Do that thing that you doo-doo so well. Wipe. FLUSH. (Remember, we are punishing the legislature, not the innocent janitors who probably don’t earn a living wage – keep it tidy)
  5. Wash your hands.
  6. Snap a selfie outside the non-biologically assigned bathroom. Post to the social media account of your choosing. #shitin #modestyproposal #giveashit
  7. Drive back to your state of origin.
  8. Feel happy (and 10 pounds lighter) because you have taken a nonviolent stand, or in this case, sit, against hate, intolerance and intrusive legislators inflicting their own small-minded personal beliefs on science. You have given a shit about your fellow transman/transwoman/transgender person.
  9. Oh, and to the assholes at Alliance for Defending Freedom who craft this “model” legislation and shop it to small-minded elected officials near you: If you really believe in small government, stay out of my bathroom and I’ll stay out of yours.

Now pardon me, I gotta go eat some kale.

This Broke My Heart

“Do you want to play our science game?”

The girl, maybe about 8 or 9, wandered up to my table at the Arizona Science Center. I volunteered to help out at Bioscience Day on behalf of my employer. I’m the marketing director, which uniquely qualifies me to guide a lesson designed for grade-schoolers.

“I … I don’t know … much about science.” She eyed the colored marbles, gathered in the baggies, arrayed across the table.

“It’s a game. You have to figure out which one is different,” I offered, hoping to overcome her shyness. A woman loomed behind her, encouraging her to go on and play.

“I don’t know anything,” the girl said. “I’m not smart.”

The Science Center education manager dove in where my words failed: “We can figure it out together. This is a puzzle, and I know you can do it. I’ll help you.”

Four Ziploc bags, each filled with colored marbles representing different things we’d find in your blood stream: Red for oxygen-delivering red blood cells. White for infection-fighting white blood cells. Blue for C-Reactive Protein (It’s what makes you feel sleepy when you’re sick – I learned something new!) Green for a mysterious biomarker.

Bag 3 had an overabundance of white and blue marbles, with fewer red ones, along with a handful of greens. Bags 1, 2 and 4 had similar numbers of white and red marbles with fewer blues and no greens. Guess which one was sick?

“I can’t do it. I don’t know anything.”

“We’re doing it together. Let’s count the marbles together in each bag.”

The education manager’s white lab coat doubled as a super hero cape. She guided the girl through counting the marbles in each bag.

“Now which one is different than the others?” The girl pointed to Bag 3.

“Why is it different?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know anything.”

“You said it was different, and something about it made you think that. What was it?”

She pointed to the green marbles.

“Good job! Is there anything else that’s different about this bag?”

“I don’t know. I don’t know much.”

“But you figured out the right answer,” we said in unison. “You can figure this out.”

She looked at the bag. She looked at the woman behind her. She looked at the floor. She pointed to the white marbles.

“Good job! You did it!”

I stamped the little girl’s Bioscience passport and handed it to her with a smile. I mentioned we also had a painting project and asked if she liked art.

“I don’t know. I’m not good. I don’t know anything.”

“Well, you can try – just like you did here. Have fun today.”

The woman led her into the bowels of the Center – literally the bowels, they have a giant crawl-through colon – and left me to stew in my thoughts: Be careful what you say to kids.

I suspect the woman who brought her to the Science Center was not the person who told her she didn’t know anything. She tried to encourage the girl, best she could. At 8 years old, if you don’t believe you know anything, where are you at 18, at 28, at 38?

Be careful what you say to kids.

SNAP Judgment – Week in Review

Peanut butter foldover. Banana. Boiled egg. It's what's for dinner... and lunch... and breakfast.
Peanut butter foldover. Banana. Boiled egg. It’s what’s for dinner… and lunch… and breakfast… and snacks.

On Sunday, October 12, my SNAP Challenge came to an end. For the folks scoring at home, I had $27 to feed myself for the entire week: The same amount a single adult receives for a weekly food budget on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (also known as food stamps). That’s about $1.28 per cibum or $3.86 per diem.

Continue reading SNAP Judgment – Week in Review

The Lonely Donor, Part IV: That’s Why They Call Me Fed-Ex

When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.
When it absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.

When you’re carrying a box labeled “HUMAN SPECIMEN,” people get out of your way. Sure, you may have to stand in line at the FedEx office, but I can assure you that no one will crowd your personal space.

I came to this discovery when I called Be The Match to alert my donation coordinator of some travel plans. Three weeks out from my postponed peripheral blood stem cell (PBSC) donation, I’d agreed to give them a heads-up on geographic changes to my whereabouts – a medical tether, if you will.

“Hi Chi, it’s Stacy. I’m headed to California on Thursday, back on Sunday. I know you said it could be five weeks or more before we rescheduled the donation. Any word on the patient?”

“We have not heard anything regarding the patient’s status. We do not contact them. I’ll let you know as soon as I hear anything. Just go and have a nice time on your trip.”

Don’t call them. They’ll call us: Welcome to my life in sales.

15 minutes later, Chi’s caller-ID popped up on my mobile. I rolled my eyes, assuming she probably forgot to check my pregnancy status again or see if I’d shared any unclean needles with the prison population.

“Hi Stacy, it’s Chi. You won’t believe this, but as soon as I hung up the phone with you, the patient’s coordinator called. Are you available on [ REDACTED ] for the peripheral blood stem-cell transplant?”

Continue reading The Lonely Donor, Part IV: That’s Why They Call Me Fed-Ex