There is old VHS footage out there somewhere of my mom teaching me to pass a “volleyball” in the hallway of our very very small house in rural South Dakota. The “volleyball” was actually a balloon and I was maybe 4? I think that same hallway is where I also learned to shoot a “basketball”. Balloons really are magical, aren’t they?
I am reminiscing about this because I’m coaching again! I have been coaching volleyball since the fall after my college graduation. I’ve taken a year/season off here and there mostly due to moving and life transitions, but this summer I was itching to get back in the gym. I have learned SO MUCH from coaching. So much about the game. So much about myself. So much about teamwork. So much about life. So much about regional travel. So much about bus rides. So much about parent communication. So much about what makes good concession stand popcorn. So much about being the underdog. So much about being the champion. So much about being the loser.
I had thought a little bit about getting back into coaching and I had looked throughout the summer, but nothing really checked all the boxes I knew I wanted checked. I had the privilege of being picky. In early August I made contact with an athletic director who is absolutely fabulous and a week later I was at try-outs!
We have our 6th match today. So far we are 5-0! I love it. Everything about it is wonderful and so far it is the least stressful coaching gig of my career. I could go on and on and on and on, and, if you ask me about it in person, I probably will. I am so energized by coaching again.
One of my favorite ways to think about the ups and downs of life is by thinking about the seasons. I nodded to this here. Usually I think of this metaphor as the wether-related seasons, but this is volleyball season. It will end and there will be good things about it ending and there will be sad things about ending, but I’m so happy it is here.
In 2016 I made a goal/”resolution” to read at least 6 books by the end of the year. If you just said, “That’s it?” then we are not friends. I don’t not enjoy reading, it has just never been a fervent pastime of mine. That said, the school I was at had a lot of built in “drop everything and read” or, many educators lovingly (or begrudgingly) know it, D.E.A.R. Our school encouraged all adults to join in with the students, and I found that really important and enjoyable. You are modeling the expected behavior and it also was often a great way to re-focus and re-charge during the middle of the day. The only time this respite failed me was in the WWII romantic drama The Nightingale when I was holding back sobs and then the timer went off and we were right back into our debate on a topic concerning the Revolutionary War. Needless to say, the circumstances of my work life made my goal way too easy last year and I flew past my 6 books by February or early March.
Now that we’re 75% done with 2017, I’ve been consistently reading more and have been pretty intentional about it. It isn’t something I naturally have an urge to do, but I’m learning. This summer I’ve made a point to read about 50 pages every day if I’m not out and about or busy with other things. I’ve loved it. Here’s what I’ve read from about May – current day. My taste varies (maybe? maybe not.) and sometimes is a true shot in the dark. I’m linking each book to ‘Zon, but if you look to purchase I encourage you to pepper your cash around all forms of booksellers (and libraries).
Name of theWind These first two books listed are part of a series (albeit unfinished). I’m sure it is trite and overused, but really it is adult Harry Potter. And Harry Potter is universal, but by adult I mean…mass murders, sex with fairies, etc. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Wise Man’s FearThe follow up to Name of the Wind. These books are long 800-1000 pages, but oh so good! Too bad the author isn’t as on his scheduling game as JK. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Into the WaterI really enjoyed The Girl on the Train, which is by the same author Paula Hawkins, so I had high hopes for a dramatic thriller fueled by passion and deceit. Let’s just say we’re lucky this book didn’t end up getting thrown into the water. (Ba-ding-ching!) ⭐️ ⭐️
(Sidenote: On the way home from France I watched TGOTT movie and it was NOT good. I love Emily Blunt, but there was just too much of the boring stuff and not enough of the good stuff.)
Since We FellFirst book I’ve read entirely in one sitting since…ever? I really don’t know the last time I read a book all at once. My reading of this book in its entirety had more to do with the fact I was on an airplane for 6 hours than its literary charm. That said, I did finish it and didn’t skip too many pages. It is the same genre as Into the Water, but better to read. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Little and Lion This book was a shot in the dark. A few months ago I signed up for a book -of-the-month-club, appropriately titled Book of the Month, and it was one of its selections. There weren’t a lot of reviews on it since this club made it available before it was available everywhere books are sold. I bit on the bait and I still have a sore in my mouth. Again it wasn’t bad, it just felt like a young adult novel. And I like YA, but this really didn’t pull me in. One of those “It happened…” kind of books/events/experiences. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
A Man Called OveI had this saved my Amazon account for a while I think probably due to its high rating and low price. I didn’t even realize it was already made into a movie. On Amazon’s Prime Day, they had a book deal going. You could spend $15 in books and get $10 off…or something to that effect. It was the perfect time to click the “move back to cart” option. I’m so glad I did. A curmudgeon down on life makes friends and makes me cry. ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️
Currently:Lilac GirlsA WWII friendship drama that I’m only about 1/3 of the way through. I paid full-price for this at my local bookstore. The only reason I brag about the full-price part is that I had it in my backpack with a water bottle I thought was empty. The water bottle was, indeed, not empty. So the book looks a bit like someone put it in the clothes dryer. One of those times where I wish I’d spent $9 vs $19, but oh well. My local independent bookstore bookmark, though, escaped unscathed.
This June we were in France. It was lovely. Many of the days were spent visiting Andrew’s aunt and uncle in south-central France.
Today, 2/3rds through August, I came across an article and thought, “Huh, maybe that’s why talking to Andrew’s aunt and uncle was so pleasant and full of smiles and laughs?”
Or maybe it was the fact that no one in our group of 8 was fluent in the other’s language except my father-in-law and Andrew’s uncle (my FIL’s younger brother) who speak Farsi. So, often times conversations would go from English – Farsi – French – Farsi – English. Or, conversely, French – Farsi – English – Farsi – French. As you can guess, sometimes a quick question of, “What kind of jam is this?” became quick the relay race. It was fun and provided a lot of laughs. Like a game of telephone in elementary school, we giggled with excitement and anticipated what we thought the answer might be.
Language barrier aside, I found Andrew’s aunt and uncle so easy to be around. There was a level of comfort and warmth I was not expecting from distant relatives I had never met. Our conversations, if you can call frantic hand gestures and looking things up on google translate conversations, were pleasant. Even if it was “small talk”.
So, coming across this article made me think back to those conversations and time spent together. The article, which isn’t long and you should read, points out that in America when meeting someone new or making “small talk” we tend to always ask, “What do you do?” An innocent enough question for the most part, but there is more to it. In this post I touched on how I hate that question and consciously try to steer away from it. Maybe I’m more French than I thought? Oui oui!
The next time you are having small talk or meeting a bunch of new people, I challenge you to not ask, “What do you do?” Build relationships over GOT, bespoke flannel, your midwestern accent, your love of sparkling water, heck, even the weather! I’d rather relate to people about the gosh darn weather than get asked over and over, “What do you do?” I live. I relate. I love. I try laugh and smile often.
Currently, at this very moment, I’m in the midst of submitting a freelance proposal for some social-emotional curriculum writing. I occasionally do freelance work and this project seems to fit my skill set and background to a T.
But, I’m stuck.
I already know I’d probably like the people I’d be working with because they added one of those informal, “fun” questions to the proposal page. “What food would you be and why?”
For some reason, I cannot decide! I am overthinking it, clearly.
A chocolate chip cookie. Because who doesn’t love me?! 😉
Salt. But, that doesn’t really seem like food so would they judge me for that?
A potato. I am versatile, hearty, and sometimes have odd physical characteristics. (e.g. a pesky plantar wart and whitehead in my nose that won’t go away!) TMI, sorry!
Pizza. A banana. A peach. Popcorn. Quinoa. Oats. A sweet potato. Avocado. Guacamole. Chips. Almond butter. Yogurt. Eggs. Granola bar. Everything bagel seasoning. Nutritional yeast.
At this point I’m just listing off the items in our fridge and cupboards. You learned a lot, didn’t you?
Twenty minutes ago, I stooped to the G level. Google.
Then I went to the B level from the G level. Buzzfeed.
Back in January, when the post-holiday + dark days + underemployment blues hit, I thought it might be a good idea to try some volunteering during days where I wasn’t subbing. I was already volunteering with a local mentoring program on Tuesday evenings, but I was looking for something a) not necessarily youth-specific and b) that had daytime volunteer opportunities. I poked around the internet, but ultimately it was a tweet by Chelsea Clinton that made me sign up to volunteer with City Harvest. They fit my limited criteria and, to me, their mission is extremely impactful. While they don’t serve my community specifically, as part of the Greater NYC area I still can relate to the scope of their programs.
First I had to sign up for a volunteer training. That took a couple months to get a date that I could attend that wasn’t already filled up. Then, there was the crazy-ness that was this spring. So, no dice. Finally, a few weeks ago I got the weekly email blast highlighting projects that are short on volunteers. It was on a Thursday from 10-1. Hmmm? I don’t know if I could make it back in time.
In time for what, Tremaine?…Yes, exactly.
The volunteer opportunities take place all over the city, but the one I would be helping with was at their warehouse in Long Island City, which is here. Usually we walk the mile-ish to the NJ version of the subway called the Path, but in these suffocating summer days we’ve sometimes taken the bus via the Lincoln Tunnel. We should do this more, it is jus another thing to pay for. But the bus stop is 1 block away, so sometimes it is totally worth the extra $3.50. I got on the bus on Day 4 of the Penn Station Amtrak construction “fun”, so even later in rush hour the tunnel traffic was b.r.u.t.a.l. Eventually I made it to Penn Station, where I got on the subway and made my way under the other river.
After a short walk, with a killer view of the eastern Midtown, I got to a very industrial building. I knew what to expect, thank you Google Maps Street View, but there were so many construction crews working on the sidewalk, semi-truck trailers, the road, the gate, the sky! Kidding about the sky, but navigating my way to the entrance did not seem like something I should have been doing without a hardhat, haha. They really need some better signage to get you back to their entrance at the last dock of of the bay, but after wandering like a sweaty cat some nice man made sure I was going in the right direction by simply saying, “Just keep going.” Thanks, man.
Our project was nothing Earth-saving. It was stuffing gift bags and some other help for their upcoming fundraising gala. Their biggest fundraising event of the year. There were about 10 of there to assemble 300+ gift bags. This is where I’m going to sound like a b****. I think I could have done it faster by myself. But, I had to remind myself I was volunteering during the daytime on a weekday, that stereotypically attracts a certain type of person. Yes?
We made our little assembly line, which was HIGHLY inefficient, but who am I to correct a couple grandmas seasoned veterans with clearly more gift-bagging experience than me?
When we were finished we made what they call “re-pack” bags with mesh netting. If you checked out their website you might have already read this, but one thing they do is take bulk shipments of produce, say one ton of onions, and then repack them into 5 lb. bags to give to food pantries, soup kitchens, etc. After that, we were able to get a tour of the facility with the warehouse manager. He doesn’t normally do the tours, so we got kind of lucky because I think some of his information was a little less scripted and informal. It really was fascinating to see SO. MUCH. FOOD., but know that within a matter of days it will be in the hands of people who are food insecure. The warehouse processes at least 5 semi-trailers of food a day. We watched watermelons from Georgia get unloaded. 10 tons of watermelon get unloaded in a matter of minutes. The process and efficiency that the warehouse demonstrated in our short tour was astonishing.
Riding my gift-bag high, I decided I should ride the East River Ferry to Wall Street and then somehow work my way back. The ferry was lovely. Best $2.75 I think you could spend on public transit. However, next time in 95 degrees I need to actually bring a lunch and have cash to buy more water on demand. (This is random unsolicited advice, but if you come to NYC and want to ensure you can combat dehydration and low blood sugar on demand as to not pass out on the sidewalk, carry cash! Consequently, we rarely carry cash and have still yet to adhere to my own advice.)
I decided to write about this experience because this, again, is something that being underemployed allowed me to do. And I was grateful to be the 32 year-old who shows up on a Thursday ready to run in circles around the assembly line and get shit done.
One sporting event that I have very fond memories of every summer is Wimbledon. I remember watching it with my mom early in the mornings during summer break. If we were visiting my grandma, it was even more fun to watch because of her enthusiasm for basically any American, but especially the Williams sisters. I remember getting back from church and often being able to watch the end of the men’s final match, one of the few Sundays every year I was glad we were an “early church” family.
I for sure wanted to be a ball girl. I thought that would be THE COOLEST! My senior year in college I even dressed up as a wimbledon ball girl and my friend Mike was a matching ball boy. Yep. It wasn’t Halloween, but it was a costume party, so don’t judge too harshley. We carried around tennis balls to house parties. I have pictures. You won’t see them.
My sister and I were in London during the early rounds of the 2007 Wimbledon tournament. We decided we would go on a scouting trip to the All England Club so we knew the lay of the land and what to expect in terms of a line/queue. (The Wimbledon general admission queue can be pretty epic.) It was literally the first place we headed in London after we dropped our bags at our hotel and enjoyed stomached our first undercooked English breakfast.
Well, to our luck, it had been a rainy morning so when we got to the All England Club via the tube, there was NO line. Before we knew it, our jet-lagged faces were enjoying strawberries and cream on Henman Hill! And then, before I knew it, I was buying a way-too-expensive long-sleeve polo shirt because I was freezing. Preparedness was not a travel skill I had perfected yet. I remember hoping to see one of my crushes at the time, Andy Roddick, but I had to settle on buying a postcard of him.
Here are some pictures that are real “winners”. 😉
The summer has been serving up travel, marathon training, and life, but today is quiet and I can watch Wimbledon at 8 a.m. Advantage, me.
Vacation! There was a point at which I didn’t know if it would happen. We had unexpected passport crisis. I was having visions we wouldn’t get to go at all. I was freaking out. Then I read the Yelp reviews of the NYC passport office. Yep, the YELP REVIEWS OF THE PASSPORT OFFICE SAVED MY SANITY AND HAPPINESS. (Talk about a sentence I did not think I would ever write…) Originally scheduled to depart Friday, we spent the weekend in purgatory/at home. Finally we were able to meet our family in Toulouse, France. We missed out on a couple days in Paris, but we were just happy to be out of the MF country. We were greeted at the airport with open arms and tasty snacks from a Parisian bakery. I’m not sure which I was more excited about. 😉 Andrew hadn’t seen his uncle in 30ish years, so I clearly had never met him. He ran to us! He and his wife were such gracious, loving, hilarious, patient, and happy hosts. We made a lifetime of memories. I could go on and on about the details of the trip, and maybe someday I will recount the highlights, but today I’m dwelling on the, “So that’s done, now what?”
I missed the last two weeks of the school year with this trip. School is out. I’ve had my vacation. Andrew is in California for work this week and I’m alone. I’ve done the laundry, unpacked/put away 96% of our things, bought groceries, filled and Amazon Pantry box, started running again, chatted with my sister, chatted with some friends. So, now what? The last two summers a move has been brewing right around this time. Moving was my excuse. Moving gave me plenty to do. Moving took time. Moving was stressful. Moving was exciting. Moving let me cut myself some slack when it came to my next professional move.
There is no moving this summer. Thank the Lord. This also means it is time to face, head-on, the question. So, now what?
Today I looked at my usual round-up of job websites and logged into LinkedIn for the first time in ages. I browsed. I day-dreamed of a commute to midtown or lunching in Washington Square Park. That was enough for today. I’ll get there. Or I’ll get somewhere else.