Monday, January 19, 2015

Patriots versus Seahawks: A Woman Torn, and Yet

My mother is the biggest Boston-sports fan I have ever known in my life. She complains. She calls the players of various New England teams "bums." She talks a fair-weather game when the chips appear down, but she always goes back--win or lose. It would be easy to listen to her and think you're hearing a cynic, a pessimist, a hater. But you would be hearing a lie. She has to say negative things during games the way that dude has to wear the same pair of socks each week during football season. Her loyalty to New England sports, specifically the Patriots, never wavers, never cracks. She grew up with the team and her dad, my Nonno, watching, in his chair, every Sunday. At least I assume her zeal stems from him.

The older I get, the more I see and hear my mother in the mirror, in my voice. With this slow and inevitable metamorphosis taking place, every day of my life shedding more of my skin to reveal a modified but recognizable Weezie, comes the same excitement and anxiety and superstition that surrounds an NFL football game, especially on Sundays. But I did not grow up with the Patriots the way my mother did, and I feel like I did grow up with the Seahawks, not from childhood, obviously; I am from Mansfield, Massachusetts, where most of my family still resides (if not in Mansfield then in neighboring towns of Canton, Easton, Attleboro, and two or three others).

I have no memory of my family, including my mother, watching Patriots games during my childhood. I know they did. I know that. I just do not remember. I began noticing the Patriots, and I guess the NFL in general, during the Super Bowl in which Tom Brady went in for Drew Bledsoe, of course. From that game forth it seemed like my family's emotional commitment to the Patriots quadrupled, but I also had finally noticed the game. By the time the era of Brady-Belichick caught wind, I was already living in New Orleans for college. I could have cared less about football during my college years. I had let New Orleans swallow me lovingly, and no sports had any impact on my world. But then I would go home for breaks and see.

Patriots games had evolved into these ultra-fabulous parties, generally at our house, or maybe just when I was home. I can only remember the parties at our house. I saw the women in my family building up tornadoes of energy in our little TV room. So loud, all screaming things like, "I'm gonna have ah haht-attack," and, "Well, if they can't pull this off, with all that money they'ah makin,' then they don't deserve it. Bums." I loved sitting cozily in the TV room, bundled up in blankets and sometimes with snow falling outside. All of them, all of us eating our nerves, laughing in between plays. Talking loudly. (My mother is the loudest talker in the world. I used to think it was the Italian, but now I think she has the energy of a five year-old, and she can't get emphatic enough about certain things.) My family went crazy during the games, except my dad and me. I watched. He observed and wandered in and out of the room. Sometimes going outside. I cherished the handful of games I watched with my mother and my family, mostly women. I so thoroughly enjoyed watching Patriots games with my family that I got jealous. No matter how much I got excited or my heart would race during clutch plays, I was not a part of it.

My feelings of being an outsider was in no part caused by my family--they are the most loving and loyal people. I simply felt like to jump on the Patriots bandwagon, after years and years of indifference, would be cheap on my part. I went through college, never acknowledging the Saints, by the way, and never quite letting the Patriots adopt me. They belonged to other people, and I felt like I missed the train. I simply did not feel right getting in on it. The "hooplah," as my mother calls it.

I moved to Seattle in September of 2005, and I watched the Seahawk-Steeler Super Bowl game at Fado Irish pub in Pioneer Square. After that, I paid attention to the Seahawks. I came back to the game. Unlike with the Patriots, I adopted the Seahawks, and they adopted me back. My twenties, like a lot of peoples,' saw some crazy and confusing times. Luckily I always had people to watch the Hawks with come football season. The Seahawks were just so much fun. I grew up, and they did the same. As wishy-washy as it sounds, I feel like we evolved together. I admit that I am not an expert on Seahawk history, and I cannot name all of the players on the team, but they have held my heart for almost 10 years now.

The spirit of Seahawk fans--the 12s, as we're called--resembles completely the spirit in the little TV room in my Massachusetts home, just with thousands more people and in a different but absolutely wonderful city. Winning a game is really just the icing on the cake, when you think about it. The build-up, the excuse to talk to strangers (which is not so common, otherwise, in this city), the blue and green shirts and house flags, the earthquakes we cause at Century Link, are what make the game so fun. I love participating in it. I yell and scream like my mother, just not with her great accent. I throw my hands up in the air when the chips appear down and say things like, "Well, it's over. If they don't care, why should I?" and "Give me a break. Totes gross." I have been known to talk a fair-weather game, but I always come back, never straying more than a few sad minutes. The Seahawks are to me what the Patriots are to my mother: home.

I respect my family and the Patriots franchise, despite the controversy that has plagued the latter for years. I love Bob Kraft. Bill Belichick, in my opinion, will go down as one of the best coaches in NFL history, easily top five. If the Patriots win the Super Bowl then I will be so happy for my family, more than anyone my mother, and for the New England community.

All that being said, if I am truly my mother's daughter, which I am, then I should want nothing more than for my team to beat the living piss out of the other team on February 1. I do.


Friday, March 15, 2013

The Business of Being Pope: Taking Care of the Smallest Customers

Pope Francis, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio 76 years ago, made it clear to the world and the conclave from which he was elected that he will continue to publicly hold up two very large pillars in the Roman Catholic Church: no abortions and no same-sex anything. Most other sentiments and structural habits—for example, not allowing females as priests—will stay in place the same way they did a thousand years ago. But the new Pontiff stands at a crossroads. He has the authority, and hopefully the inner constitution, to finally begin dealing with the sex scandals that have maligned the Catholic Church for so long. And dealing with them effectively and with the victims—not the protection of the clerics—in mind. But will he?

The newly elected leader needs to view his job as just that: a job in a business that has millions of (mostly) paying customers. It is the youngest of these customers that need the most protecting. For decades, adolescents have been molested by priests, who were then sent to other parishes rather than being terminated and legally charged with a crime. The victims rarely, if ever, receive an apology or even acknowledgement of the abuse perpetrated on them by church authorities (unless, of course, they take legal action). This is a crime against everyone who believes in the all-around protection of our children, not just Catholics. No other corporation, particularly one this large, would be able to stay in business while perpetually being in the eye of a scandal.

Mr. Bergoglio needs to start cracking skulls. Chances of this happening stay slim. If the Pope wants to clean up the image of the Church, offenders must be fired and women must be hired—as priests. Nuns of the Roman Catholic Church require a larger platform and a louder voice. Priests need to marry (as long as they're acting as marriage counselors, anyway). Accepting abortion and same-sex marriage may not be in the cards for this Pontiff, but if the above changes were implemented, then the church would be much closer to acceptance of abortion and same-sex marriage and the dissipation of child molestation by the priesthood.

That Pope Francis is a Jesuit gives me hope. Social justice stands fast as a fundamental aspect of the Society of Jesus. Is it just to continue the practice of protecting rapists rather than innocents? Hardly. And the Pope knows this. Will his background of modesty and sympathy for the downtrodden of Argentina take shape in his championing of the victims? Perhaps. But at 76 years old, the Pontiff is running out of time. One cannot help but think that someone of that age just does not possess the mental capacity and physical energy to begin sorting out the horrific mess that is the Roman Catholic Church.

Elderly celibate men can no longer do the job required of the CEO of the Catholic faith, a multimillion-dollar business. Women need larger roles. Women having more prominent positions in the Catholic corporation will act as a catalyst for the subsequent protection of children and terminating of offenders.

When Pope Francis's term expires, I skeptically wonder how much will have changed in a place where the fabric that holds everything together is sewn with thousand-year-old thread. It is my strong belief that popery and the Catholic Church will eventually expire, like a flickering flame that was once a raging fire. But as long as this position and this business endure, let us institute some accountability and common sense.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

In the Summertime, When the Weather Is High...

Summer evokes images of sprinklers, beaches, flip-flops, ice cream, cold beer, and alfresco dining. I love these things, but sometimes, even on a beautiful Saturday or Sunday, I don't feel like doing anything but watching TV. Such was the case recently. Someone who will not be named said I was wasting the day. This person opted to attend a beer festival. I got offended (big surprise). I was dwelling in the depths of a hangover from the night before. On days like those, the last thing I want to do is throwback some bubbly or crack open a beer. Other days, I can warrior my way through the initial, bitter sips. Therefore, the two questions I'm asking myself are: Does drinking have to be involved in most or all of your summer activities? And what does it mean to waste a day in the summer?

Drinking on nice summer days, when the sun shines long into the evening, is not the only fun activity available to people, at least not in my neck of the woods, Seattle. Oh, Seattle—a wonderful, water- and mountain-filled part of the great Pacific Northwest. Hundreds of activities, from hiking through rainforests and simple beach trails to attending Sounders games and tulip festivals, await you in this region. A little something for everyone. Because of the variety of things to enjoy here, choosing not to drink should hardly turn into a problem. (However, one of the best moments on any given July or August day happens when you pour cold beer, maybe Abita Amber, into a frosty mug. You pick up the glass, the handle cool and wet in your hand, bring the mug to your lips and let the juice of gods slide over your tongue and down your throat. The cold makes its way down to your belly, and you let out a resounding, "Ah." Back to the subject.)

And I think most people agree because a lot of summer activities for adults have a theme of alcohol running through them. House parties always offer drinks of all kinds. When I go to the beach, I generally bring a bottle of wine. If I don't, one of my friends does. Plenty of fellow beach goers follow suit. Festivals abound, Seattle hosts tons of these events every summer—Ballard's Seafood Festival, Italian Festival, Bumbershoot, Hemp Festival, Tattoo Festival, Seafair, and Folklife, just to name a few. Though drinkers are herded into beer gardens, fenced off or caged from the rest of the community, these spaces always gush with people wanting to take a load off and sip some beer. Additionally, there's no shortage of pubs and restaurants near any given festival in any given neighborhood. Usually, those same pubs and restaurants will extend their happy hours. Gods forgive them if they don't.

I say this: Drinking is not a necessity for fun on summer days. However, it's probably the most popular and by far the most accessible. (If I want to climb Mt. Rainier, I can't go to my fridge to do it, duh.) I do not want to say that alcohol is pushed on me by media and my immediate surroundings, but it totally is. Now, is drinking in the winter better than drinking in the summer? That's an issue for a different post. Start mulling it now, though.

But what if I don't want to drink or even leave my house? This brings me to my next answer re: What does it mean to waste a day in the summer? "Waste" in any form is such a subjective word. And for a moment after I decided not to attend the beer festival, I looked at the rest of my day as wasted. And then I thought some more.

As I sat in my front yard, sweating out my hangover and getting some badly needed vitamin D, occasionally playing with my dog and spraying him with the hose, I thought about what else I could do so as not to waste the day. Playing with my dog, lying on a blanket in my front yard, reading a fresh copy of Us Weekly, and listening to my iPod turned out to be my Saturday cup of tea. There's nothing else I could have done that would have satisfied me as much as watching my Corgi try to kill the hose stream or reading about Jennifer Aniston wrecking marriages even though she knows what it's like to be cuckolded. (Yes, I realize she's a woman and technically cannot be cuckolded, but deal with it. Sexual equality calls for us to use the term for both parties. I say to you, go and cuckold and be cuckolded, regardless what set of privates you have.) I needed not drink nor company to squeeze the last drop of fun out of my Saturday afternoon.

Why do people use the word "waste" when speaking about daytime activities or the lack thereof? Isn't our goal to relax on the weekend or whatever day(s) we might have off? Is it because of our parents? Is it because when we were little we had endless energy and the thought of not playing outside during a nice summer day sounded ludicrous to our sun-burned ears? Whatever the reason, we must stop. If someone wants to sit on the couch and look out the window every hour, let her. Don't act spiteful, but feel free to be disappointed.

Relax in your own way.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bitter Roots

Often people use the word "bitter." "She doesn't like your skirt because she's bitter about her fat ass," or, "He's just bitter because he can't get laid." But what does it really mean when people say the word? Why do we use it so much? Or, oh no, is it just me? Is my use of the word reflective of my own bitterness? Here is my attempt at dissecting the word and getting to the root of why we, or I, have deployed it in conversation so often.

Merriam-Webster defines bitter as "being or inducing one of the four basic taste sensations that is peculiarly acrid, astringent, or disagreeable and suggestive of an infusion of hops," and also as "distasteful or distressing to the mind: galling." I use the word in the latter sense. Even before I began dropping the word in dialog, the feeling of bitterness resided in me. I believe the feeling began to develop in high school. My theory is that this is when the feeling takes residency with most others.

High school, for me, was veiled in laughter, sports, parties, extremely short skirts, knee socks, dances, and prom dresses. Under the veil existed a very different scenario, and a much more real one than all the superficial items I've listed. I felt insecurity. I had a genuine need to be liked and approved by others. Being popular, particularly at a small school in a small town, loomed in the back of my mind at all times. The overwhelming desire to be pretty but never feeling pretty enough plagued me for all four years of high school. I constantly compared my physical self to my other girl friends.' Intellect came second in importance to me. Grades came after that. The things I valued had nothing to do with who I was or am. In a very real sense, I was lost.

And so, while always measuring myself to other girls and constantly seeking approval from boys, I became bitter. Was I aware of this? Not until much later in life. But I'll get to that. I resented myself for never looking good enough, so I despised myself, and in turn I seriously disliked others who I felt met the physical standards of the day. For example, I have a big behind compared to the size of my body. I absolutely love my luscious booty now, but in high school, I truly believed I needed to lose weight. Never accepting myself played hand-in-hand with the bitter taste that perpetually plagued my mind's tongue.

I graduated high school not having a clue as to who I was. (Let me stop here briefly to clarify that I don't think any of these feelings or notions are uncommon in high school children.) However, by senior year, I had a faint sense that the world was much bigger than Mansfield, Massachusetts. I also had a hint that I was much bigger than the person I allowed myself to be. Loyola University New Orleans loomed in the distance like far-away storm clouds. I didn't know whether to be scared or to welcome the inevitable rain that my dried-up sense of self so desperately needed.

Loyola accepted me. I took off to New Orleans without a thought in my head. It was during my time in Louisiana that I began to look back and realize how much time I'd spent being and feeling bitter towards myself and others. In college, I quickly learned I could take one of two paths: I could pretend to be a person that I hoped others would like, or I could act natural and see where that road took me. I chose the latter, and by the time I graduated college, I was able to do a few things that I hadn't before.

I began to see other women as friends and strangers, not competitors for men and cute clothing. I achieved this only after I accepted myself intellectually and physically. I stopped seeking the approval of men. (In fact, one could say that for awhile I thought men were my enemy and only good for sex.) Getting good grades and loving the curriculum at hand became extremely important to me. Thus, my bitterness slowly subsided.

There are times now when I still feel bitter. For example, I was a bit bitter when I found out Blake Lively was dating Leonardo DiCaprio. But the difference now is that I can immediately recognize those feelings, sit with them for a few minutes, and then cast them away. Why am I bitter? I ask this question when the feeling arises. Blake Lively is younger than me, more attractive, and, in my opinion, wickedly talented. But would I want to date Leo? No, of course not. I love my partner, Daniel. And it's in that moment when I think about all the things I have in my life that I am able to toss the bitterness out the window.

Growing up, I wasn't thankful for all I had going for me. Now I look back and think, "Man, my body was wonderful in high school. Why did I ever think I needed to lose weight?" I was smart but never cared enough about my brain power to recognize this. College and my move to Seattle thereafter helped me achieve all of this. Learning to let go of bad thoughts that would get me nowhere but an angry place made me the person I am today.

In closing, bitterness is a feeling and a state of mind. It is the most useless of all emotions. To be bitter is to miss out on life. Overcoming bitterness requires an open mind, a recognition of jealousy, and a realization of all you have to be thankful for. There is nothing that someone else has that you cannot obtain yourself through work and a belief in yourself. But do not put blinders on. Be aware of your surroundings. Be happy for others even if it is through gritted teeth. If a negative thought surfaces in your mind, think about it. Think about its roots and why it is there at that particular moment in your life. Maybe bitterness means something is missing in your own life, perhaps it means you just need a nap or a snack. But what I know for sure is that bitterness is a weight, and the sooner you can identify it, the sooner you can discard it with legitimacy. Without bitterness in your world, there exists a special freedom to love yourself, the good people you've chosen to be in your life, and strangers you've yet to meet.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Where Have All the Comedies Gone? I Need a Dose of the Brit Wit

While working from home today I turned to "Soul Men" on Showtime. Like so many other "comedies" I've seen in the last two to three years, this had the setup and the actors (Bernie Mac and Samuel L. Jackson) for a decent movie. The plot was very similar to "The Blues Brothers"—two men try to revive their motown band "Real Deal" from the 70s. However, it blew chunks.

But "Soul Men" accounts for just one horrible film in a long line of horrible films trying way, way too hard to be humorous. Every single spoof movie since "Scary Movie 2" (i.e., "Epic Movie," "Not Another Teen Movie 1, 2," and God knows how many more) has been more painful to watch than the one before. I'll admit, I haven't seen all of these movies—I'd like to think I have more of a life than that. But the days of Mel Brooks are long gone, and I'm not a huge Brooks fan; but when I watch the shit directors and writers today call "funny," I have to revel in the man's genius.

To give my readers some perspective on what I deem funny, I've compiled my top 10 favorite comedies (for this second), in no particular order and not including stand-up recordings:

  • "Half Baked" (Duh.)

  • "Life" (Martin Lawrence and Eddie Murphy make the best duo since Cheech and Chong.)

  • "Young Frankenstein" (The horses nay every time Frau Brucher's name is said—come on! And Gene Wilder rocks at any time.)

  • "Kingpin" (I still use "Munson" as a verb.)

  • "Dumb and Dumber" ("Tell her I'm charming, with a rapist wit.")

  • "Clue" (Madeline Kahn as crazy, full-of-unmitigated-rage Mrs. White. Enough said.)

  • "Death at a Funeral" (British version. I love Uncle Alfie demanding where his tea is when he never asked for it to begin with.)

  • Three Stooges (Obviously not a movie, but I have to include their stuff!)

  • "Old School" (It's all-out debauchery and dirty, good times. You can't beat Vince Vaughn as a fast-talking electronics salesman, either.)

  • "Drop Dead Gorgeous" (Adam West stars in the opening scene. Seriously.)

The next few movies in my Netflix queue include "Hot Tub Time Machine," which I've heard great things about from several people, the remake of "Get Smart," and then a whole big bunch of British bits—I'm going U.K., and I'm going back in time. The whole series of "Are You Being Served?" "Black Adder," "Keeping Up Appearances," and "Faulty Towers" wait in my queue. I hope the English bloody come through for me, because I am truly jaded on American comedy. ("Step Brothers" had me laughing hysterically, but that sentiment was shared by few.)

One day soon I hope I can write that I laughed consistently throughout two movies within a two-month span. One day...

Until then, I hope "Hot Tub Time Machine" lives up to the hype, and maybe my wish will come true sooner than I thought.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Staycation Fabulous: Part I

Daniel and I recently stayed two nights downtown at DoubletTree's Arctic Club Hotel, on 3rd and Columbia. The first thought that popped into my head when we walked in was the Overlook Hotel from "The Shining." I speak only of the decor and 1920s vibe of the film—no butchered twins showed up asking me to play, and I didn't try to get with the dead woman in the tub, but Daniel did. I really dug the place.

The feel of the lobby comforted me because of the dark oranges and browns everywhere, which are what reminded me of the movie most (Sick, right?). Pictures and names of very old men, white and native, who founded the region lined the walls behind the front desk, in the elevators, and in the hallways. I'm unsure if the lobby furniture was comfortable because I only sat on the bar stool, which suited my bum very nicely.

Room 901 suited us very nicely as well, despite the fact that only one robe hung in the closet. The Whirlpool bath rocked our world (not like that, perverts); the jets were far out. But be careful with the bubble bath—a dab'll do yeh. The rest is pretty standard: flat screen TV, WiFi, mini fridge with beer and wine, lots of window space and light. I ordered a kid's dish of pasta with butter and Parmesan and a tomato juice at 9:45 p.m., and the deal went down without a hitch.

Two weddings happened during our stay—one on Saturday, the other on Sunday. I had a far-fetched fantasy of crashing them, and maybe Daniel would have gone along with the idea, but when push comes to shove, we proved ball-less. Watching the bubbly being liberally passed out to guests in the lobby pre-reception delighted me and of course made me want to barge in and make the whole damn thing about us. But we walked around outside instead.

Even though downtown and Pioneer Square are only 20 minutes away from my neighborhood, I rarely go down there, especially since I work in Georgetown—with its broken pavement, train tracks that go nowhere, and grunge-fabulous restaurants. (That was just a side note, but while I'm on the subject, let me say that the GT section of Seattle has lots and lots of good bars and restaurants and a blunt but comforting attitude that says something like "tattoo but clean." Georgetown will be happening and overrun with hipsters in few short years. Get the Marco Polo fried chicken while the gettin's good.)

Anyhow, The Arctic Club gets 4 out of 5 stars from me. I may write about Chez Shea. Scallops were like butter.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Tiny Bubbles in the Mind

I proclaim this to be the summer of sparkling wine, champagne flutes, and cava blends. Prosecco, champagne, brut—all kinds, all grapes, all, if chilled to perfection, make every meal and gathering. Not only does the taste of a good bubbly send chills of satisfaction up my spine and down my arms, but the fuzzy, warm feeling that rises to my face and head exceeds any other alcohol buzz I've experienced. Liquor is quicker, but sparkling doesn't waste its time, either.

Last year, maybe a year and a half ago now, I discovered sparkling wine by the glass (bubbly can only be called "champagne" if it is from the Champagne region of France). My selection on a whim ended up suiting my mood so well, better than red wine, beer, or vodka. Needless to say, the first glass turned into the fourth, and I poured myself into bed that night with a splendid blanket wrapped around my now-soggy brain. As if my head was as fizzy as the drink in front of me. Bliss.

The best weddings are the ones that keep the champagne or sparkling wine flowing after the initial toast—if it's that kind of ceremony. But flowing bubbly can be dangerous; if the stuff at hand is good enough, it will go down the throat faster than your morning coffee. The coolness, the refreshing feeling on your tongue, and the carbonation settling in your stomach all culminate to make the first sip wonderful. Push the tongue to the roof of the mouth, and let the bubbles pop and break on the taste buds—there's nothing like it.

I appreciate a nice flute for my sparkling, but if the juice passes my taste test (I don't have a very developed palette), I'll take it in a keg cup. The flute works the best because you can see the bubbles rise up in one long stream to the top, before spreading across the surface like fireworks that burst out of a faint trail of light and smoke.

My find for the week (or perhaps the month), is Chateau St. Michelle's box of four sparkling wines for a total of $33, including tax. Outrageous—in a good way! I visited the winery in Woodinville, Washington, this past Sunday and had a great tasting of four wines for $10—a little steep, I think, but the pours are extremely generous. Go on a fairly empty stomach, and you should have a nice hitch in your giddy-up by the end of the second tasting. When you're done, buy a bottle of wine (or four), some cheese, and crackers to enjoy outside on the grounds. Don't forget your receipt for the tasting when you buy the bottle—you'll get 10 percent off your purchase, plus plastic cups and knives for the goods about to be had. You may also want to bring a blanket in case the tables and chairs are all taken. There is shade o' plenty, so this activity works very well for warm days.

Or find a nice blend in your local grocery store. I've bought lovely bubbling wines starting at $7—not bad for the floating feeling that will follow.