Seattle Sunshine

Today is a Cascadia Cup Matchday.  Portland travels to Seattle.  67,000+ screaming fans, Clint Dempsey’s home debut, Rave Green and Capital Blue, a Tifo to end all Tifo, and one of the single best sporting environment in the United States will be unleashed onto the pitch in 5400 seconds of awesome.  And that all barely scratches the surface of what things like “Eternal Blue, Forever Green” mean to me.

Being in Iowa, one of the big questions I get (often with a SLIGHT hint of a condescending tone) is “Why are you a fan of XYZ?”  Football fans want to know why I’m a Chargers fan, soccer fans want to know why I’m a Sounder.  The easy answers are: “Well, I became a Chargers fan because of Nate Kaeding and I’m not really big on jumping ships” and “The fanbase for Seattle is amazing and I just feel something special with regards to the Sounders and the community surrounding them.”  As far as the latter goes, that’s not the whole answer though.  The whole answer is something I’ve been trying to hammer down for the past little while.  There’s more than just “the fans and environment” at play when I root for a team from a city I’ve never visited and who had no players I really knew until I started following the team.

seattleTifo

I’ve had this challenge going with myself for the better part of a year to always look at the big picture rather than focusing on certain specific things.  I used to get so bogged down in being upset about things or so caught up in excitement and that meant that I’d miss everything else around me – the good company, the books, the adventures, etc… all of that would happen and I’d miss it.  It felt more like I was getting ripped from the skin of the Earth by a tempest that would either dash me upon the ground hundreds of miles away and shatter every bone in my body or sling me into orbit for one of the most breathtaking views ever.  For a while, that worked for me.  The constant chance of an amazing adventure was worth the risk of broken bones (metaphorically)… until the damage started piling up.

Any type of wound takes time to heal though and soon, even the fun stuff stopped being fun because everything else still needed to heal.  So I decided to stop seeing life as a big, scary tempest.  To stop letting my emotions go on rollercoaster rides that relived themselves in an instant from just seeing an individual.  And to start looking around at what I had been missing.  And it’s good… really, really good.

But I always liked the idea of rain as a metaphor.

I think better when it’s raining because it relaxes me.  I find that I enjoy things such as music or reading more completely when it is raining.  The grass always seems greener after a rainstorm, cars always seem cleaner and more vibrant, and life seems to just pause and take a moment to heal and let go of muck and grime.  Hell, my first night in college, I remember sliding down the hill behind the Old Capitol with two of my friends during a downpour.  As I was thinking of all of this, I came to the realization that I have been trying my hardest to stop fighting the storm and just enjoy the rain.

In the stadium... still pouring rain.

In the stadium… still pouring rain.

The tailgate for my first Sounders game was held in the muggiest and most disgustingly hot conditions.  It was gross and I was roasting.  A little over an hour before kick off and the scarves begin swinging and we begin singing and something miraculous happened – the skies opened up and cut loose.  I was with 200-250 other Sounders fans in Kansas City and every single one of us had a collective feeling of “This is who we are!”  The chants turned from “Take ’em all!” and “Sounders ’til I die!” to a very simple “SEATTLE SUNSHINE!” as we marched and jumped our way towards the stadium.  Things stopped being just about the game and started being this enormous unifying force that was represented in the droplets pelting down from above.

We were held outside of the gate for 15 minutes during the hardest rain (I think there might have even been pebble sized hail at this point).  We just sang louder.  The ink on our e-tickets was running and they wouldn’t scan but it didn’t matter, we just sang louder.  Even the home KC fans started giving us some crap but it didn’t matter because we just sang louder.  And rather than singing anything specific to the game or the Sporting fans/players, we sang two words over an over: “Seattle Sunshine.”

Kickoff rolls around and the rain’s cleared by this point.  Seattle went on to lose the game and the Open Cup on penalties but it was an amazing experience and it all truly started in the rain – in the Seattle Sunshine that we called down from the Pacific Northwest.

In the spirit of Cascadia, I can honestly say that THIS is why I’m a Sounder.  The fans, the team, the miraculous moments, and then environment are all great… but my heart and my soul are there because of the rain.  I deck myself out in Rave and swing my scarf and shout obscenities at TV and computer screens because the whole of my life – all its colorful moments (both pleasing and painful) and wonderful people who are a part of it – are all drenched in Seattle Sunshine.  They glisten and grow and become more vibrant because of it.

It’s not in the forecast for Iowa City tomorrow but I hope it rains.

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Crossing the Finish: STU-S-A, USA, AO, and Other Assorted Letters

“When you can’t run, you walk.  When you can’t walk, you crawl.  When you can’t crawl, you find someone who will carry you to the finish.”

I’ve seen two unprecedented and incredible months of United States Men’s Soccer.  Dramatic stoppage time wins, beautiful flow, shut outs, and the personality of so many players literally spilling out onto the pitch.  I’ve also been a part getting the soon-to-be Bouncing, Badass, Baby Brother Iowa City chapter of the American Outlaws off the ground.  All of that – in retrospect to my life – has led to this feeling like I’m finally running once more and this time, faster than ever.

I make no real attempt to conceal the fact that I was in a pretty low place for a pretty long time and that Soccer has really been a way for me to start clawing and climbing out.  The players, the personalities, the beauty I find in the game, and the family I have found within the community of supporters and players (which feels more and more like a family every single moment of ever single day) really helped me find a light in that dark, dark tunnel.  In a great many ways, it was THEM who pulled ME out, picked me  up, and carried me until I could walk again on my own.  Celtic’s return to the final 16 in the Champions’ League, Seattle’s historic win over Tigres to advance to the CONCACAF Champions’ League, and the USMNT coming into its own under Klinsmann – these were milestones in bringing me back to a place where I could open up and run again.  But the sport is about so much more than hardware and winning.  The Hoops, the Rave, and the Crest all mean so much more than goals and wins/losses/ties… at least in terms of the impact it has had on my life.

Sometimes, I pretend I play.

Sometimes, I pretend I play.

A little over a year ago, I was watching Stu Holden’s videoblog of his recovery from injury as a way of keeping my mind off things.  That led to intrigue, which led me to read a bit more (aka “every article I could find”) about him and his life – which, in turn, led me to start putting things in my own life back together and shifting my outlook from negativity or fear to positivity and hope.  Not exactly the easiest transition to make alone and so night after night, I was watching youtube videos where Stu would tell us how he did his hair or what he made for breakfast all intercut with clips from his rehab… and it made me feel better about life and myself.  Metaphorically, you could say that was him carrying me a bit.

And I got back out there a bit.  As I got to poke my nose around the soccer community, it began to feel like there was a person or event that could directly relate to pretty much everything I felt.  The whole “identity crisis within the gay community” thing I went through was easily silenced in my own head the night Robbie Rogers took the field with LA for the first time (I still maintain that that game only existed for the 84th minute… no other time).

ROBBIE!!!!!

My friends moving and life moving on was easily answered by NEW FRIENDS (imagine that!).  And wanting a community to be a part of and live through and with… well… as if supporting three amazing teams wasn’t enough of that, now there’s this Outlaws chapter in Iowa City that (save for needing a few more people to register [yes, I know, I’m one………. taking care of it tomorrow]) I’ve been blessed to be a part of.

Hats off to AO Portland for the amazing TIFO display.

Hats off to AO Portland for the amazing TIFO display.

And the funny thing is that a year ago, I never thought of any of this happening.  Even then, I was still in a shell and there was such a chasm between me and the sport I used as a way to take my mind off things.  So today, it was full circle.  The story of a man’s triumphs over injury and loss once carried me to the beginnings of a better place.  When Stu hit the turf and began to grab for his knee, I teared up.  FOX cut to him on the bench and I lost it… sitting in the middle of a bar (I hid it well… mostly).  Here’s this guy who’s become my hero who’s hurt.  Here’s this team that has been a beacon of hope for me and you could tell all of their hearts plummeted.  And I felt with them and for them.  I shot Stu a tweet as soon as it happened and the minute it sent, the tears stopped.  Stu’s a fighter and there was a job to finish… and there’s so much more to life than just soccer.

Stu Holden chopsticks

Mix Diskerud subbed in and played his best game in a US Shirt (and though I haven’t seen ALL of his games with Rosenborg, I have never quite seen him play like he did today).  Momentum picked up and even around Donnelly’s, the spirit had returned.  We were laughing about things we saw, getting into the game, and pushing on with all our willpower – not focusing on our fears for “STU-S-A.”  Brek Shea slotted home the game winner and the team did what they had to do to secure the Gold Cup and take the winning streak to 11 games.  The celebration began and was filled with relief, joy, and even more laughter (from coaches, supporters, and players).  Hell, even Stu gave us a little to laugh about (or enjoy as you see fit) when he tweeted out a picture of himself drinking out of the cup and looking all coy in the lockerroom after the game… with Mix in his boxerbriefs in the background.  We all picked one another up for the time we needed to and then we started running once more.  My love with this team and this sport is summed up in a single picture that represents what it’s done for me, what we all do for each other, and what I know at least one bar in Iowa City wanted to do for our “Golden Boy.”

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To my family and friends who have come into my life (even if I don’t know you personally), I love you.

Stu buddy, you’ve got heart and fight in you and I know that there’s literally NOTHING that can beat you and you should PROBABLY be offered a role playing yourself in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.  I love you, AOIC loves you, no matter what, find away across that finish line.

Landon, EJ, Gooch, Beasley, Brek, Matt, Jose, Joe, Edgar, Kyle, Sean, Bill, Nick, Corey, Jack Mac, Herc, Tony, Clarence, Michael, Michael (there were two), Ale, Mix, Will, Wondo, Alan, and Josh… Love you guys too.  Thank you for bringing me along for the ride AND for letting me bring a bunch of friends too.

AO… well… y’all already know how I feel about you.  Thanks for bringing me in, keeping me humble, hugging me when I need it, laughing with me (or at me), taking covert pictures of dudes on airplanes and sending them to me with a “hot or not?” attached, and coming to visit and watch a game.  Love you guys too!

I’ll give you a song to go out on because I’m in a music mood.

Thank you all for carrying me when I needed to be carried, for carrying those I love, and for running with me and letting me run with you.

No matter what, when you fall, I’ll be there to help you up and I’ll run with you when you’re ready because you’ll be ready… you always are.

Thank God for good food, good Family, fast cars, and Futbol.

Amen.

To 14 Year Old Me…

You guys, I wish this was a post that was going to deliver laughs by the bucket load.  I wish this was a post that would bump everyone up a few levels on the happiness scale without having to first take a dip… believe me, I do.  BECAUSE OF THAT, I will end this with one of the most adorable puppies you have ever seen and I promise that I will build from where this starts so that you never dip too low… I just ask that you trust me and take that first step.

14 year old Justin.  He was a piece of work.  TOTALLY socially awkward and with the WORST luck ever (even to the point of being “Bad Luck Brian”).

funeral erection

That was basically me as a meme when I was 14.  A decade later and ya never know… there are some pretty hot cadavers out there….

But I digress.  14 year old me.  Wow….

See, up until I was about 12, I was the luckiest dude on earth.  I had this group of friends who were all a good 3-5 years older than me.  They knew me (sometimes better than I knew myself) and despite whatever beliefs they had, they loved me.  Laura, Dan, Tony, Josh… those four…. Nobody in the world could have ever asked for better friends.  And here I was at 14 – 2 years later.  I was in a different city and playing the ever so familiar “I don’t need anybody/I’m gonna do this on my own” angsty teenager game.

And they stood by and let me go.  They let me be this idiot kid who had to do what he was gonna do because they knew what I would go through and they knew I would come out the other side.  I’ll never be able to thank them enough for that.

Hell, I was in 8th grade and I remember having a talk with Laura about being gay.  It would take me 6 more years to admit it (and then another 6 to confuse the hell out of what I really am) and still that night… I was so close back then and it was a casual, two sentence exchange of a side conversation…

Anyhow, all of this reflection is brought about because I read an article on ESPN today.  It was a “letter to my 14 year old self” or something or some sort.  Aaron Rogers wanted his younger self to not dive for a ball in a pick up game of basketball.  Andy Murray wanted his younger self to appreciate the feel of the racket, the bounce of the ball, and the pace of his heart.  And then… Robbie Rogers… Robbie wanted himself to know that he was not going to be alone.

And, being the sometimes sappy and emotional sort that I can be, I suddenly realized what I failed to see back then.  I wasn’t alone.  I may have had to be on my own for a while but I was never alone.  In my awkwardness, in my occasional suaveness, and in my killer dance moves (because SHOW CHOIR!), I was never truly alone.

And so I started thinking of what I would say to that gawky, 14 year old boy, who had no idea how to put an outfit together, let alone how to make it through a day without herp-derping something insanely awkward and maybe even tripping up a flight of stairs.  I came upon a nightly ritual wherein I remember I would clutch onto my pillow and have an inner discourse about the existence of God combined with prayer to change me back to straight.

Ladies' man?  Derpapottamus?  You pick...

Ladies’ man? Derpapottamus? You pick…

There’s nothing I could say to him that would keep his future – my present – what it is now.  I couldn’t tell him that I’d discover what it means to feel “Love” through the pain of heartbreak.  I couldn’t tell him that his classmates already know.  I couldn’t even tell him of the Seattle Sounders, the Emerald City Supporters, the USMNT, Tanya, Ryan, Brady, Eric, Nick… All I could tell him would be a simple “Stay the course.”

And so when all the eloquence of words fails me, that is what I come to.  If I were given the chance to talk to my 14 year old self and help him rest easier at night, that’s all I could say.  “Stay the course.”

Upon a decade’s reflection, I can’t even begin to quantify the things I have discovered about myself and the people I hold dear.  I’ve gone from dreamer to musician to wannabe lawyer and then back to musician before finally swinging around to writer.  I’ve been a boyfriend, a best friend, and I’ve even managed to grow from the mistakes I’ve made.  And all of that, I had to do on my own.  And a part of me wonders if that’s what Laura may have seen a glimpse of on that night so long ago…

And so here I am, thinking back upon the last decade of my life and what I would say to that boy who tried so hard to hide and would wait another ten years to figure out who he truly is – beyond just a word.  I look around to the friends I’ve made and the friends who have been there all along and realize just how blessed I have been.  I have music, soccer, writing, movies, and even the occasional heart to heart all wrapped up into 24 hour doses that repeat every single day… That is what 14 year old me has to look forward to.

So what would I say and how would I say it to him?  Well… despite the fact that I no longer play an instrument, this is my corps.  This is the corps I auditioned for and this is the piece of music that made me truly fall in love with music and performing.  There will never be another feeling in my life like running through this piece with them in the arc… and it says all it needs to.  14 year old me would listen and he would begin a journey of understanding that even a decade later, he is still unraveling…

“…But the fighter still remains…”

And oh what he’ll find.

He’ll find a brother…

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He’ll find a family…

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He’ll find something he loves…

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“Are you Tanya? We’ve heard you’re kinda awesome…”

And he’ll even find people who won’t even realize the impact they truly make on him…

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So why spoil all of that?  What else could I say to keep him going yet not reveal all the wonders and surprises to come?

 

“…Oh lord I wanna be in that number, when the Yanks go marching in…”

KC Outlaws Section

Phew… we make it through that okay?  Everyone still here?  Good.  Here’s a puppy.

happy puppy

Until next time.

See you, Space Cowboys.

Holden Onto Happiness

Happiness breeds more happiness.  Yes, it’s cliché and yes, it doesn’t help those who aren’t happy.

I found this trick back when I was still dealing with my breakup and it’s been one of the single easiest ways to snap myself into a good mood.  I knew I’d walk by a place he’d said he liked to buy clothes every day when I’d be on my way to work.  So simply enough, I made it a point to GENUINELY SMILE every time I walked by.  It started by blaring whatever music I could find on my iPod to set a mood of happiness and it permeated out from there to the point that I have realized just how much I smile whenever I’m out and about now.  I’m pretty sure he’s never seen that… and that’s okay.  See, it wasn’t really so much an “I’m so much happier without you, you piece of whatever” as it was “if I smile, I’ll be happy because smiling means I’m happy.”

I HAZ SMILE!

What got weird about that whole thing was when I started to realize that I was smiling because I was actually happy.  That bled into more and more of my life and pretty soon… it’s turned into me being a beaming and giddy nerd.  We’re all entitled to our own opinions but in my experience, the “beaming and giddy” variety are the best type of nerds.

None of this is to say that I still don’t have my ups and downs… but I’m glad to feel a paradigm shift toward optimism in my personality.  I’ve also rediscovered punk-rock bands that I used to love when I was in HS (basically: music that represented the last time I felt carefree) and gotten tickled at the simple prospect of having fun with the entirely absurd in my writing.

Favorite clip from this movie.

That’s exactly a point that came up at dinner last night.  I was discussing “moving on into real life” with one of my artistic minded friends.  Aside from the fact that the atmosphere at Red’s was unbelievable (68 degrees outside, the fire pit was on but not oppressive, the outdoor lighting was perfect, the music was amazing song after amazing song, and the vibrancy of life from everyone on the patio was palpable), we were having a conversation about our futures as young people that was not fraught with anxiety.  For a great majority of people, finding happiness in life is an ultimate quest.  It just so happened that Megan and I were confident that, if only for the next little while, we were doing things that brought us happiness… and we were doing it for OURSELVES.  It might not work for everyone but for us, being able to say “I do what I love and it’s going to be my job” is an unbelievably exciting prospect.

The life I want is not routine.  It’s not mundane.  It’s exciting.  It is the closest I can get to stepping into a blue box that is bigger on the inside than the outside and having adventures nobody would ever believe.  I’m a 23 year old college student who has been to two major soccer matches in the past two months (on his own money), gotten a beer with his childhood hero, who is writing a comic book that is actually going to be produced, who LOVES food (seriously, my healthiest relationship, from an emotional standpoint, is my affair with Bar-Bee-Que Sauce), who loves movies/tv/comics, who writes movies/tv/comics, and who gets to share all of this with the people in his life whom he loves and holds dear.  All this on a server’s budget.  I’m not going to give that up because all of it is such an essential part to who I am.

The past year has been all about finding out who I really am and who I am going to be.  I’m an American Outlaw, an Emerald City Supporter, a nerd, and the list goes on… but the most important thing is that I have started to figure out how to create my own happiness from life around me.  There’s a French proverb that says “Success is the best revenge.”  With respect, a quest for vengeance will only get you so far.  It’ll take you through pain.  It’ll take you right up to the point where you have to have faith in yourself.  It’ll get you right to where you have to let go and reach for the next rope to swing on.  All it takes is a deep breath, a smile, maybe some Yellowcard, and the faith to say “I’m fucking awesome.”  Then, all you gotta do is let go and grab hold of the next rope.  So rather than search for success out of a quest for revenge, just smile and be happy.

I have no problem admitting that I’m nearly 24 and I still have a “hero.”  I’ve had many heroes throughout my life and this is actually the second soccer player to grace the list (the first is Alexi Lalas).  A few years back, there was this blonde dude with all sticky-uppy hair who took the field for the Houston Dynamo.  Dude was BRILLIANT in his play.  Watching him was like staring into the burning core of a star and being able to see the energy created from the nuclear fusion.  He played with a pure passion and love for the game and it was evident every time he took the field (often, commanding the entire flow of the game).  I was still an armchair fan when Stuart Holden was suiting up in Dynamo Orange.  The spark he showed on the field got me pumped up for every game I managed to catch (which, admittedly, was rare in those days).  Then the 2010 World Cup happened and I suddenly cared.  There was that blonde dude with the styled hair subbing on for Jozy Altidore during the game against England.

Stuart Holden. (He’s the one with hair).

I didn’t really think much of it at the time as he only played about 15 minutes (if I remember correctly) and the scoring was already completed for that game… but as the tournament wore on, I began to wonder about that dude who used to absolutely light it up at Houston.  Turns out, he hasn’t exactly had it easy.  Serious injury after serious injury (included a shattered knee) threatened to derail his playing career.  His family went through a huge loss.  Even after the 2010 World Cup appearance, he suffered another serious injury on a bad tackle that has had him off the pitch until about a week ago (he literally just tweeted about having to set three alarms to get up for training with Bolton… yes, it’s 2:45am right now… I’m a night owl… and I love twitter).  I started casually admiring the guy because of his perseverance and what I found as I dug a bit deeper into his rehab was that Stuart (can’t quite call him “Stu” because I’m not actually friends with the guy… but by rights, I feel like I should be simply because of how inspired I am by him) is an enormously positive person.  Even after the loss of a family member, his mantra (and that of the rest of his family) was (paraphrased): “Let’s look at this as a celebration of life and good memories and be happy because we’re capable of being happy.”

Bottom line is that this dude’s career should be over.  Nobody would blame him for throwing in the towel.  Nobody would blame him for being sad.  But here he is, waking up for practice with the Wanderers.  He’s back on the pitch and he’s done it all by being happy.  I make no secret of dealing with depression in the past year (most people do at some points in their lives) but the one lesson I learned that got me through it and has stayed with me now (and will be with me into the future) is “Celebrate life and be happy because I’m capable of being happy.”

Happiness breeds happiness.  If it’s something so simple as just making sure you smile or if you look to a baby-faced attacking midfielder for inspiration and strength, just do it.  Be happy in what you do and how you live.  Do what you do because you love it.  Live because you love it.  It’s worth it.  In the end, you may just find yourself a new team to root for in the process.

“Cuz Bolton Wanderers will never die!”

See ya, Space Cowboy.

(Ed.  Yeah, I’m adding Bolton to my list of clubs I support that is at the end of my last post.  Pretty simple reason.  I’ll root for any team Holden plays for because he’s Holden.  Even if the dude never reads this and I never actually meet him… He’s my hero and that’s worth learning chants, screaming myself hoarse, getting a scarf, and enjoying watching my hero work.)

Need a Kick?

To be quite honest, the quote that inspired this post came out of a conversation about Jungian Personality Theory and how Jung differed from Freud.  (Yes, I have INSANELY SMART FRIENDS).

“Freud just needed some good dick and a few spankings.” – One of my closest friends.

On top of the joy that quote brought me, it also got me thinking about what exactly has happened in my life over the past few months to get me where I am today.  Yeah, you could say that, upon retrospectively viewing the past 9 months (or so) of my life, there’s been a pretty seismic shift in my outlook on the world, general mood, and even my writing (all of which have been trending steadily upwards).  Obviously, there are about a million and three different things in my life now when compared to back then.  A great majority are good things and I’m incredibly happy where I am and where I’m going.  But sometimes it’s what our Souls need that really stands out among all the changes.  And unlike Freud, I’m quite alright without the spankings…

The other “inspiration” for this post is that I am supposed to write a piece about my experience at a Soccer game I went to recently (as I missed class for it).  It was fun.  The USA won.  I had a great time.  <—– There.  See, I also had this epiphany during the trip that is actually more interesting than just writing about my time at the game.  There I was, sitting on the porch of the Dubliner Bar in the Power and Lights district of Kansas City.  The air was just a tad crisp and I was nice and buzzed, sitting among new found friends and thinking about where all my life has gone these past few months.  I couldn’t help but smile at the simple realization that in everything that changed, my Soul needed Soccer.

Me at the American Outlaws’ tailgate.

To say that it was just “Soccer” that I needed would be a falsehood.  I needed what Soccer means to me.  Something to enjoy, be passionate about, connect with people through, support, and feel pride in… all existing in an external and interactive environment (whereas writing and creating is often an internal world).  I wore my Celtic jersey downtown one night and was greeted by a resounding “Hail! Hail!” from a handful of people.  I’ve gotten thumbs up from Sounders fans when I wear my ECS scarf on game days.  Hell, sitting at the Dubliner, I was chilling with a Cyclone/Timbers fan and having a grand old time (despite the rivalries).  Celebrating the 3-1 Victory for the USMNT (and subsequent advancement to the final stretch of qualification for the 2014 World Cup), it sort of congealed for me that this was the whole community I’d been missing.

I could have found all of those qualities in other environments and through other means but, for whatever reason, it was Soccer or nothing for me.  I had latched onto stories of healing and redemption and even developed a new role model through following his history of injury and his brilliance on the field (Stuart Holden).  Soccer had become the new “home” for a slightly displaced and drifting part of my psyche.  It literally feels like I have a “room” to watch games in, a “room” to interact in, and even a yard to play in (I make it a point to get out on the field at least every other day).

As fun as being a spectator is, I LOVE playing.

The best part about all of this – the “kicker” if you MUST (that one pained me to write) – is that I’m to the point where I can’t imagine life without soccer.  I can’t imagine not looking forward to a game.  I can’t really seem to remember what it was like before I met “She Who is Legend and Hangs Out With Lalas,” or “Hey, We’re Both Named Justin.  Eternal Blue! Forever Green!”  I really can’t remember not being excited about a game, reading blogs, listening to podcasts, breaking down formations, or waking up at 6am to watch Celtic play.  It’s become a pivotal part of my life and I’m ever thankful for the experience.

So THAT is what the USMNT game was like for me.  It wasn’t just a win.  It was one hell of a metaphoric house-warming party and I couldn’t be happier.

Also, I got to hang out with Hercules Gomez (one of the starting strikers for the National Team).  He’s an awesome dude who, in another life, I feel as if I’d be best friends with on account of his eloquent sarcasm and charm.  Here’s your proof.

“You guys know the dude in the white shirt is Hercules Gomez, right?”
“psh… yeah… we know… we saw him earlier…” (then mini freakouts and decision to get a picture with him)

So soccer.  Pretty freaking sweet.

‘Til next time…

At the Dubliner.

See ya, Space Cowboys.

(For rooting interests, I support the USMNT/WNT, Celtic FC, the Bolton Wanderers, and the Seattle Sounders).

Grab-Bag: Vacation Edition

Oh I have been out of the loop for a while.  In all honesty, the past week or so has been my “Vacation” for the summer.  From Wheaton, Illinois to Kansas City, Kansas and from Wedding to Birthday Celebration to the US Open Cup Final… it was insanely eventful.  So where does this all pick us all back up together?  Well, lots of places, to be honest.  Forgive me if this gets a little bit ADD but I’ve had a few posts I’ve been working on and I’m going to throw a couple together, here.

That amazing moment when you know the guy in the meme…

So yes, the above meme definitely features one of my very close friends.  He’s spending the summer playing in the pit ensemble of the Cavaliers drum and bugle corps.  I could go on some long dealio about “hard work and determination” but the simple fact is that Pat is not just with the Cavies and through to Semi Finals tonight because of hard work and determination.  He’s there because he loves what he does and that love has made him want to be good (and rest assured, the dude’s awesome).  In a great many ways, the love of what you do is what shines above all else.  Chipped notes, biffed runs, etc… all of that is part of life and it’s the love and excitement for the craft that gets you through the natural mistakes and growing pains.  Dude up there?  In the years I’ve known him and played in ensembles with him, I’ve never actually seen him NOT smile while making music.  THAT is what performing and creating is all about.  So boom.  There ya go.  Rest assured, though I love Crown’s hornline and BD’s music… I’m rooting for the Cavies’ percussion section all the way tonight and tomorrow at finals!

Next Up: The Scottish Premiere League/Rangers’ Relegation/Celtic FC in UCL Qualifying

So I’m Scots-Irish.  I’m a HUGE soccer (or “football”) fan… and I fell utterly in love the first moment I ever saw those green and white hoops on the pitch.  THAT SAID: Though I do have a strong dislike for Rangers on the pitch, I’m not exactly big on the whole divide the rivalry between the two clubs creates.  I respect the way Rangers play and I find it incredibly unfortunate that their management could not manage to keep to legal methods when doing their taxes.  I’m not going into the details but right now, the SPL is definitely a two horse show and losing one horse, even if it is only for three years, makes things INCREDIBLY difficult for the league and for Scottish Football.

After all of that, I’m elated and excited that one of the best opportunities to keep the SPL and Scottish Football relevant has fallen to my beloved Bhoys in Green.  As of today, Celtic has advanced to the final knock-out stage in qualifying for the UEFA Champions League group stages.  IF they manage to progress into the group stages, it not only guarantees greater exposure for the club (and subsequently, the SPL) but also MONEY which is sorely needed (to be honest, I have no idea how the SPL managed to keep a deal with ESPN after losing Rangers to relegation and subsequently, losing the Old Firm match as well).  I’d love to see a deep run into the UCL but right now, I’ll take every small victory I can get on the European stage.

FINALLY: I’m Sounders ‘Til I Die!!!!

So my trip to Kansas City… possibly the best period of 24 hours I’ve had in an incredibly long time.  Definitely one of the best games of soccer I’ve seen… despite the questionable officiating.  I could launch into a whole review of the game right now but that would detract from the experience.  Even though Eddie Johnson airmailed our last hope of keeping the game alive on the final penalty kick (Yes, it went the full 120 PLUS PKs and came down to the last kick… and Seattle came in Runner-up in the US Open Cup…), nothing could cheapen the experience and the fun I had.

“We are the ECS from 113!”

Had the typical sporting event camaraderie between fans whom I’d never met (the guy on the left [my left, your right] just walked up to us and we all started talking at the tailgate.  Awesome dude and DEFINITELY hope to see him again at the next game I find a way to get to) and got to watch a team that I love play.  Oh… and it POURED right before the game.  So… something like this…

Seattle Sunshine!

But outweighing the game was the simple fact that I got to have family time with my brother and make new friends.  It sounds super “kindergarten-y” and all that but honestly, there was a point right around the time Zach Scott nailed home the equalizer that I realized that the past 5 or 6 years were easily cancelled out in one day of road tripping and one night of heat, food, beer, soccer, friends, and family… oh and losing my voice singing for the full 120.  So I’ll take the loss on penalties as just a part of the experience that really feels like it’s turned the ship around and gotten me to a point where I’m starting to be ready to leave Iowa behind in less than a year.

And for those still wondering from my earlier post, I FINALLY have a picture of me and Eric together… TWO actually!

The one from the car where I look SUPER Irish…

And the one from right after the march to the stadium… we were a tad… moist…

It’s from all the “excitement” … WINKY FACE!

So there you are… I’m back and posting again.

AND FOR THOSE WONDERING ABOUT THE PODCAST… Adam gets into town next week sometime and we will resume our regular recordings then.  Get excited.

Until next time, SCARVES UP!

Go to a Drum Corps Show

I’m fairly certain this will be a shorter post today.  First off, herp-derp writer’s block, and second… well there’s just not a whole lot that can be SAID about this topic.  You honestly have to sit in the stands and experience it for yourself.

If you want to see the “pro” side of the OTHER thing that’s worthy of being played on a gridiron, check out this schedule for a show near you.  http://www.dci.org/schedule/index.cfm  These kids (16-21 is the age limit) rehearse their asses off and travel across the entire country to compete and entertain.  YOU.  WILL.  NOT.  SEE.  ANYTHING.  ELSE.  LIKE.  IT.  IN.  YOUR.  LIFE.  You’ll hear music that spans all genres being performed by some of the most intense ATHLETES out there.

And don’t give me that “marching band is weird/dumb” stuff.  Every single person I have ever taken to a show has come out having had a great time and wanting to go to another… regardless of whether they played an instrument or not OR even if they didn’t want to go.  So seriously, find an excuse to get to a show and enjoy yourself.  It’s truly a spectacle.

And yes, most of these groups are better than even the very best college marching bands.

I’ll leave you with some videos.

and for an encore:

and this is fun too….

 

Right so that’s my drum corps hype post.  GO OUT AND SEE A SHOW!  I’ll be at (tentatively) Muscatine, Rockford and Lisle, IL… and if I can swing finals… I’m going to finals too.

 

See ya, space cowboy!