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August 2008

"When you're a jet, you're a JET!"

Summer is coming to a close. THANK GOD. Nevertheless, I really need this Ten Happy Things. It's been a stressful month. When you've got a lot of siblings, it always seems like you're worrying about one of them at one time or another. This has been one of those months where I'm worrying about multiple siblings simultaneously…so I've been a little overwrought. Plus, to make matters worse, Warner Brothers has moved the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince to June 2009 instead of this upcoming November, which is just a cruel trick. *Sigh* It's all gravy, though.

As I'm sure you're expecting, there's going to be a lot of references to the Olympics this month. For a change, though, I'm not talking about baseball. Baseball still makes me happy and my teams are still doing well but baseball has been kind of giving me fits lately. Fucking baseball. Anyway, without further ado, here's August's Ten Happy Things.

10. I'm surrounded by pregnant women and women giving birth. It seems like the women in my piece of the universe are single-handedly trying to make sure that the world remains populated. Someone will have a baby and then almost within minutes, I hear someone else is pregnant. It's mind blowing. A good friend of mine from college, Brendan, and his wife just had their first baby. For those of you who were at the church part of my electricity-challenged wedding, Brendan and his wife are the couple who played the music at the church. Right, so, Brendan and Wife-of-Brendan have produced spawn. Like a good friend, I sent a gift. Now, for as long as I've known Brendan, he's had this thing about sandwiches. The man is a connoisseur of sandwiches. He used to say that a girl could be as drop-dead gorgeous as you please but if she can't make a good sandwich, she's pointless. He used to eat crazy sandwiches like peanut butter, pickles, and bacon on white toast. The man is just a sandwich nut. So, I'm browsing around online looking for some music-themed baby gift being that the parents of this future Mozart are both musicians and I came across the best Spawn of Brendan baby gift on the planet. Behold:

Is that not the best thing you've ever seen? I am the best gift finder ever.

9. The US Open has started. Not golf. That's over. Tennis. The US Open is my favorite. It's the last slam of the year and being that Roger Federer mysteriously sucks now and Rafael Nadal is not great on hard-court and is fatigued from the Olympics, it should prove to be an interesting tournament.

8. Speaking of golf…..okay, I know I was speaking of tennis, but I said golf, so it counts………golf has been so badass this year. One word, not two. Badass. I've liked golf for a long time but I spent a lot of years not watching a whole lot of it because, frankly, I got tired of seeing nothing but Tiger. It's cool that he's like the idiot savant of golf and that he's going to break all the records and whatever. I just get sick of seeing nothing but Tiger on TV. This year, though, since Tiger's been gone, golf has been so great. Mind you, no one in my Top Five has won anything of major importance (except for Sergio, who won the unofficial fifth major, The Players…and then managed to be Mr. Second Place all over the damn golf world), but golf has been such a joy to watch on TV without Tiger. You get to see everyone else. You get to see real competition because there's not 50 guys playing against one guy who's blowing everyone away. Everyone anticipated that golf was going to be extra boring minus Tiger. They were so wrong. It's been really exciting…well, for golf fans anyway. Plus, you know, my TV is awesome, which makes it all extra fabulous.

7. And now, the Olympics. I've got quite a few things on my mind about the Olympics. Yes, the opening ceremonies were awesome. I was at Los Angeles in 1984 and even being there wasn't as awesome as seeing what Beijing put together on TV. That's not really what stood out for me, though. I'll start here with my third-favorite Olympic Happy Thing. I've mentioned before my fondness for gymnastics. I've been following the mens gymnastics this year closer than usual. When we sent our mens team to Beijing this year, no one thought they'd do jack shit. I mean, the Hamm twins were both out, so everyone figured our boys would just suck. They didn't. They won a bronze in the team competition, which was awesome. When they won it, they all jumped around and cheered like they won the gold. They were such a long shot and they were brilliant. A few days later, American gymnast Jonathan Horton won silver on the high bar individual event finals. It was so great. I cheered and cried appropriately.

6. Michael Phelps. Need I say anything else? Sweet chocolate bunny toes, what an athlete. He blew me away. Never in my life did I ever expect that I'd be standing on my couch screaming myself hoarse watching swimming. I mean, it's swimming! But there I was, standing on my couch, screaming my fool head off at the television cheering this kid on to eight gold medals. I didn't do that for every race…but the first relay and the one race he won by .01 seconds, I was standing on the couch screaming. The best thing to me, though, is that Michael Phelps is the son a broken home. His parents are divorced, he was raised by a single mom, his relationship with his father is really lackluster, and he's very open about giving his mom props for raising him and his sisters by herself. For those of us out there who come from similar circumstances who have spent their entire lives living under the stereotypical stigma of "kids from divorced parents are screwed up", having someone like Michael Phelps win eight gold medals while singing the praises of his single mom is fucking awesome.

5. I love Shawn Johnson. I mean, I really love her. Don't get me wrong – I love just about all the girls on the womens Olympic gymnastics team. I love Nastia and I love Alicia and I love Chelsie. But I absolutely adore Shawn Johnson. I just want to wrap her up and put her in my pocket. She's the most adorable thing I've ever seen in my life. I've been following her since she's 12. She's like watching Mary Lou Retton reincarnated….only better. I knew the girls were going to kick ass at the Olympics. They probably would have kicked even more ass had 1) the Chinese not been such cheaters and 2) there been any sense of fairness and/or competence in the judging. That's beside the point. After winning other medals in the team competition and the all-around, on the very last day of Olympic gymnastic competition, Shawn Johnson finally won a gold…and I cried like a baby. It was the absolute highlight of my Olympics. Nastia was great and all, and never in my life have I wanted to hug a person more than I wanted to hug Alicia Sacramone, but Shawn Johnson single-handedly made my Olympics.

4. I take golf lessons. In my Thursday night class, I'm the only girl in a small group of men (who are all experienced golfers) with a male instructor. I am a novice….and, again, the only damn girl. Needless to say, I catch a lot of shit from these guys. Mind you, it's all in good fun and I'm a terribly good sport about it…but I catch a lot of shit from these guys, especially over my pink shoes and my pink golf bag and my Sergio Garcia hat collection. Right, so, golf lesson……we were working on chipping and putting and while I'm a fairly decent putter, I'm a nightmare at chipping. It's something I really have to work on. I've got this whole not leaving my weight on my lead leg problem. I won't bore you with semantics. So, we're all on the putting practice green and we're chipping and then we're putting. Finally, right before the end of the lesson, our instructor says "okay, we're going to drop a ball, chip it, and then putt it out." Okay, fine. So, I drop my ball and then, of course, chip it like a total asshole and leave myself this monster putt. All the guys are giving me grief because they've all chipped within five or so feet. Since I was the farthest from the hole, I had to go first. So, I walk up and down the 50 feet of green between my ball and the cup. I look at the grass and the line and all that and I see a break starting about a foot in front of the cup that looks like it's going to give the putt about a two foot break to the left (yeah, I know, I watch WAY too much Golf Channel). Fine. So, I go back to my ball, I line up my putt, draw back, and hit the ball. All the other guys and the instructor are standing like five feet behind me watching my progress. As soon as the ball started to move, this dude Jim goes "that's never going to go in. She aimed WAY too far right." I don't know if they saw the break in the line or not but that's what he said. So, I'm watching the ball and it's going and it's going and it's starting to break and then….IN THE HOLE. In the mother fucking hole. Fifty foot putt. Two foot break. In. The. Hole. I turned around, looked at the stupid men and said "booyah!" They haven't given me one bit of grief since. I've since added pink golf balls to my arsenal of golfy pinkness just to piss them off.

3. My sister, Jaime, is pregnant with twins. See? I told you. Everyone is friggin pregnant. Jaime, however, has been suffering through fertility treatments and in-vitro procedures and miscarriages and all manner of reproduction horror for a long, long time. So, saying that's she's pregnant with twins is a bigger deal than it would be for your average woman. She's super high risk and she's already on complete bed-rest but so far things are looking good. I'm going to be an Auntie!

2. Okay, last month I wrote about how the possibility existed that Brett Farve could become the quarterback for the New York Jets…but it was a long shot. Yeah, not so much of a long shot, bitches! Brett Farve is a Jet. Gang Green, baby! In my lifetime, I don't think there's ever been a day that it's been really great to be a Jets fan. The day Brett Farve came to the Jets, however, was a great day to be a Jets fan. I suffer no delusions. They're still going to suck. But now they're going to suck with Brett Farve! That's so cool.

1. I'm going to forewarn you about this one because it's not really a Happy Thing. It's kind of not even close to being a Happy Thing. But, it is a proud thing…and it fills my heart…so it gets to be number one this month. My younger brother who lives back home with my father and his wife has been shipped off to Iraq for his third tour. He served two consecutive tours totaling about 19 months beginning in 2003. He'd been home for a long while until a few weeks ago when he got called back. He is an Army Reservist. The job that he does when he's active - heavy truck and tank mechanic - is only done by Reservists, not enlisted or commissioned men...and there's a relatively high need for his particular profession all the time. He's not in a 'combat zone' this time around, although I'm curious as to what part of Iraq is not a combat zone. He's also not on combat duty, which means he's in 'the yard' working on vehicles, as opposed to traveling around with the convoys dodging roadside bombs. His first two tours, he was on convoy duty and it was a nightmare for those of us left home watching CNN, praying for the little crawl across the bottom of the screen to tell us that he was okay. So, for the next eight to 12 months, he's in Iraq digging sand out of engines and rebuilding vehicles torn apart by the war effort. This, obviously, is not a Happy Thing... That being said, I could not be more proud. My brother is a sensitive bloke. He's not big. He's not a tough guy. He's not a hard ass. He's quiet, and kind, and soft hearted. Not the type you'd expect to see in a war zone. When he came back from his first tour, you couldn't shut him up about it. He said to me, "over there, I felt like I was really contributing to something. Like I really had a purpose." He volunteered for his second tour. Whatever he saw on his second tour, however, messed him up. He absolutely will not talk about it. He had to undergo all manner of counseling and hypnotherapy to deal with the post-traumatic stress and horrible night terrors he suffered after coming home. When he got the call back to active duty, he waited over two weeks to tell me, worrying that I would be upset. Despite the long, difficult road he traveled after coming home from Iraq the last time, my brother corralled his fears and faced his duty with confidence and determination and bravery. He did not complain. He did not show outward fear. His voice did not waver. I wish that I could say that I'm handling it with the same grace. I'm not. But I'm proud. Damn proud. I don't care what politics are involved or how pointless this all may very well be. Still I'm proud. My heart is filled to overflowing with pride and respect and love. I'd like to say the good Christian thing about God watching over all the soldiers from all the countries. I know that's too much to ask. It's entirely unrealistic. So, I'm entirely selfish and I ask God to watch over my brother and keep him safe and bring him home so I can hug him and kiss him and tell him how proud I am of who he is.

So there you have it, folks. Ten Happy Things. Go forth now and be merry and be jealous that I have a pool and you don't. ;-)

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