I haven't posted on here in quite some time. Quick recap: I'm now in college! I'm a member of the Class of 2016 at Saint Mary's College and I sort of really love it. One of the perks of being at SMC means I get to go to Notre Dame every once in a while and watch some sports...including football. Today was my first football game as a student. (I really enjoy Section 34, by the way.) I was so excited to experience Notre Dame football as a student, as a comrade to the players. To get to sing the Alma Mater with my arms around people I'd never met, to hug them after we won the game, and to be in such an electric environment was amazing. But there were some less-than-amazing things about this game, and one really got to me. It wasn't the final score, which I thought should have been bigger. A win's a win. I don't care. It wasn't the turnover. It wasn't the missed field goal attempt. Nope. It was the "boo." The announcer said, "Number 11, Tommy Rees is now in for quarterback for the Irish," and almost the entire student section started booing. I'm standing there thinking, "Who are these people and where did Purdue fans put the real ND/SMC students?" Here's my problem with the booing: HE IS STILL PART OF THE TEAM! Rees is not perfect. He's 20 years old for Pete's sake. He's still a kid. If you'd rather see Hendrix or Golson in at quarterback, fine. You're entitled to your opinion, but please don't be so negative. Like that's going to help Rees play any better. This game was the first of the "Take A StaND" initiative to give the home-field advantage back to our players in Rockne's House. Last time I checked, booing the quarterback does not make him feel more advantaged. That would be like me going home for Christmas break, walking in the door, and my family looking at me and yelling, "EW! We don't want you here. Go away! Get out of here." That wouldn't be very pleasant. As I'm standing there in a sea of boo's, I'm praying and hoping that Rees gets the job done. "Prove them wrong, Tommy," I'm thinking. First pass, no good. Second pass, no good. Third pass, CAUGHT! John Goodman runs the ball for a first down and I find myself yelling, "SEE?! HAVE SOME FAITH!" I was so happy in that instant. (That "have some faith" attitude goes for Kyle Brindza as well. He's human. He's going to miss a field goal and PAT every so often, but have some faith in him. Especially when he's about to kick a field goal that will either win the game or send it into overtime.) When did Notre Dame fans become so pessimistic? Have some faith in our players. Have some faith in the coaches. Have faith in the other fans. And don't you dare boo our team or any of its members ever again.


New Faces in Lawrence

KU football is not a deep interest of mine because when it comes to sports, I’m 100% Irish. When I found out Dayne Crist was transferring to KU, though, I took more interest in it. I wondered how he’d do at a new school (where he’ll only be for one season) and if he’d do better under his former/recruiting coach. That’s why when I got the opportunity to go to the KU Spring Football game, I said, “I have to go.”
Anyone with any exposure to KU knows that basketball is more important than anything in Lawrence. Football is just basketball’s annoying sibling that tags along in the athletic department, which is why admission to the game was free and seats were not hard to find. Compared to my previous week, I was far less than impressed. The Blue Gold game is HUGE in South Bend. The Spring Game at KU is just another reason to eat a hot dog and drink a beer.
The prospect of a new coach and a new, seasoned quarterback is exciting. Charlie Weis has a lot of experience in coaching, and he’s being reunited with a guy he recruited who did well at Notre Dame. (At least until that patellar tendon ruptured. Thanks, Tulsa.) Crist has always been a good quarterback. I think that was the biggest misunderstanding with the KU fans. They think (and I heard it said at the game), “He left Notre Dame because he was inched out by a freshman, so he must be pretty bad.” Not true. He just wasn’t quite the same at Notre Dame after his injury. Someone else stepped up and took his spot. He wasn’t as accustomed to Kelly’s coaching as Tommy Rees. What’s amazing about Crist though is how he handled all the change. He was very mature about it, and he saw that he had opportunity elsewhere, so he took it. He’s not a bad quarterback at all. I think he began to prove himself today, and he’s slowly regaining hope for KU football fans. From what little I know about things, Crist (who threw 19 passes for 11 completions and 156 yards) looked pretty good with the Jayhawks. Clearly, he’s made a good impression since he’s been named a team captain, and he’s only been in Lawrence for a few months. He was a very strong leader. His team scored the only points made during the scrimmage—all 45 of them.
He and Kale Pick looked like they’ll be quite the dynamic duo this season, but only if their O-Line holds up against stronger defense. At the game, I overheard many things said about Crist, and one of the truest things I heard was, “He can definitely throw the ball. He just needs someone who will catch it.” But it sure looked like between Pick, Beshears, and Patterson, Crist should be sitting fairly comfortable. There’s another story on the other side of the football, though. KU isn’t a defensive team and Weis isn’t a defensive coach. The defense was pretty commonplace, minus Michael Reynolds who had 3 sacks and 5 tackles (who was named Defensive MVP for the game) and safeties Bradley McDougald and Lubbock Smith.
In short, the KU football team looks like it has much more potential this season. There’s still a long road to recovery, but Crist’s previous 4 seasons of experience and strong leadership should help improve and rebuild the Jayhawk team. While I’d love to see Crist in blue and gold again, I think he’ll do okay in crimson and blue. He may be a big game-changer in Lawrence this year, and I’d love to see that. Will KU gain a winning season? Hard to say. If we’re talking just offense, I think so, but the defense will have to hold against other strong offenses this season for us to see a stunning change for the Jayhawks. Either way, this fall is looking much brighter for Lawrence.


Just A Jumble of Letters

I'm going to do a little bit of bragging here. I got a perfect score on the writing portion of my SAT. Don't ask me how I did it, because I don't know. Actually, I credit my past English teachers for teaching me how to write and speak properly and how not to use bad grammar EVER! When I told my parents about my score, they both told me, "Anna, you're just good with words."

Words. That's something to think about.

I mean, really! Think about it! A word is just a jumble of letters, which are just shapes and symbols, that are put together in a certain order to mean something! An example, you say? I took one of my favorite words, shenanigans, and entered it into an online anagram server. 433 results came up. That's a lot from one word. Granted, most of them didn't make any sense, but that's still 433 combinations of words from 1 other word!

We can interpret those symbols and they can tell us a story. Books, anyone? There's a 5-tier shelf in my bedroom dedicated to the written word. That doesn't include the books under my bed and in my closet since my shelf is full. Book are great! They can take you across the world and put you in situations you'd otherwise never have a chance to be in. I'm never going to live in a cowtown in the 1880s, or England in the 1700s, or India in 1920, but now I don't need to since I got to live there in a matter of 400 pages or less. Words can make us feel emotion. I can't tell you how many sad songs have made me tear up, but some make you happy, too. And--knock knock, who's there? Jokes!

I think Mark Twain hit the nail perfectly on words. (He was pretty good with them, too.)

"The difference between the almost right word & the right word is really a large matter--it's the difference between the lightning bug and the lightning."

I'm not going to elaborate on that. It's just pure genius.

Poetry is another form of turning words into something more than sounds or letters. Poets have the gift of putting just the right words together in the perfect fashion to give the reader (or listener) a mental image and even hear or feel things.

"It sounded as if the streets were running,
And then the streets stood still.
Eclipse was all we could see at the window,
And awe was all we could feel.

By and by the boldest stood out of his covert,
To see if time was there.
Nature was in her beryl apron,
Mixing fresher air."

In her poem "Storm," Emily Dickinson (my favorite poet) does all those things. We hear the noise described by the streets "running" and then stopping. We can see the "eclipse" at the window, and we feel their awe. I can even feel the wind and the cool air I associate with a storm.

There are even games dedicated to words! Tell me you haven't played Words With Friends, Scrabble, Boggle, or Bananagrams. You might even be able to include Apples to Apples. (If you can tell me that you haven't played one or all of those games, I'm telling you to go play them now. They're so much fun!)

Now I know we live in the age of technology, so something of the past is going to perish as it always does. (The car eliminated the horse and buggy. The cell phone eliminated the land-line. Playstation eliminated Atari Pong, and X-Box eliminated Playstation.) Something's always gotta go. I just hope that with texting and IM-ing, the proper use of words doesn't perish.

2 is not to/too.
U is not you.
R is not our/are.
UR is not your/you're.
C is not see.
L8R is not later.

Give words the credit they deserve. Write out a whole damn sentence for once! I dont want 2 C U typ3 like dis. Ever!

Well look at that. I just dedicated a bunch of words to words. Silly me.

"Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure."
- Edward Thorndike


The University of Notre Dame du Lac: Part 3

Waking up in South Bend (or in my case, Mishawaka), Indiana on a Notre Dame football game day is different than waking up anywhere else. You know that your day holds something special.

So we just kind of waited around for a few hours, watched TV, until it was time to head back over to campus. There is very little parking available to the public on campus on game days, so we had to park just a little ways up the road and walk to campus. All the way from God Quad to South Quad, we walked. (For a campus with so few students, it’s very spread out.)

When we got to South Quad, we went to the football practice field. I stood there for a moment and remembered Declan Sullivan, so I said a quick, silent prayer in memory of him. After that, we went across to Joyce since we wanted to see the parts of the Monogram Club we missed the day before. They have something from every sport up there, and it was quite the sight to see. From awards, to equipment, to photos displayed, the entire history of Notre Dame Athletics is up in that lobby.

Then we went down to get something to eat and walk around some more. Walk around was all we really did until 2 o’clock, when we went to the outside of the Gug for the players walk.

It was hellishly windy when we got outside. Clouds were starting to appear, and the temperature had definitely dropped. So we stood there in the cold, biting wind and waiting for the players to step out of their headquarters.

A few minutes later, we heard cheering. I looked up, and holy crap! There they are! I’d only ever seen them on TV (spare Bennet Jackson and Manti Te’o, now).

First the police escorts, then... *trumpet fanfare* Coach Brian Kelly, David Ruffer, Dayne Crist, Tommy Rees, Mike Floyd, The Golics, Cam McDaniel, Cierre Wood, Harry Smith...you name him, I saw him.

And then we went to the stadium. Our seats were a ways up right on the north 35 yard line. When we got in there, the kickers and punters were stretching and practicing, and the QBs were throwing. I used my telephoto lens to try to see which players were (and weren’t ) out there yet, but, while it zoomed in pretty well, my dad’s new camera was so much better. It zoomed 60x in....uh. Yeah. If you don’t know anything about cameras, here’s a look at what I mean....

This first one was taken with my dad's camera on full zoom. Diaco is standing on the sideline across the field from me.

This second one taken with my telephoto also on full zoom. Diaco is standing next to the sideline closer to me.

So....yeah. Mmm hmm. It was pretty good.

As time passed, more people filtered into the stadium. The band played, and then they had their Senior Presentations. It makes me sad to see some of those guys go. Slaughter, Floyd, Ruffer, Harrison Smith, Mike Golic, Jr., Ethan Johnson....Correction: it makes me sad to see all of those guys go. I hope they do well for themselves, but with an ND degree, chances are that they will.

(I’m writing this in the car on the way home. Just drove over the Mississippi River!)

And the game began. My first ND game in person. I’m not going to lie, when the band played the National Anthem, I started to cry.

The people sitting around us were annoying and stupid. They’re the kind of people who think they know more than the Coach and yell at EVERYTHING! I wanted to turn to all of them and yell, “Shut up and watch the damn game!”

The family in front of us were ND fans, but they were dumb. The dad tried to correct me on players’ names, but his mom sitting next to him didn’t even know Cierre Wood’s name. Cierre Wood. Wood. Not that hard. She kept saying, “Woods.” Plural? No ma’am! If you can’t say it right, don’t say it! (Pet peeve.)

The family behind us were Boston College fans. That was miserable. They also thought they knew more than the refs. The dad sounded like Norm MacDonald, but he wasn’t being sarcastic or funny. He was being an idiot. “Boston! You’re a 3-7 team! You can do better than this!” Wait. What? Do you know how DUMB that sounds? JUST STOP TALKING, YOU IMBECILE!

And everyone will always sit near a yelling asshole. “WHAT A STUPID PENALTY!” “COACH! YOU IDIOT!” Excuse me, sir, have you ever coached college football? If not, don’t call the coach stupid, Stupid! Yeah, that’s right. I just renamed you Stupid. Deal with it. And stop cussing because there’s a little kid right in front of you! Also, quick question: Was the ref stupid for calling the penalty or was the play that caused the penalty stupid? Hmmm?

I think I’m done ranting and typing here what I wanted to say in person.
Now about the game.

Yikes. I mean a win is a win, and all, but that was a bad win. One touchdown? That’s no good. Thank God for Ruffer.

Second half was more like a Punt Fest. Ben Turk must have been getting tired.
I’m finding out it’s harder to remember a game when you didn’t watch it on TV, which is why I had my Mom record it back in Wichita for me to watch when I get home. Hoorah!

OH! When Boston College was huddled up and a player dropped and was “hurt” just to give more time for a play call....Oh. My. God. That was just low and stinking and dirty. Asshole.

Halftime was great. Chicago played “25 or 6 to 4” and “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree.” And then Jon Bon Jovi showed up! Whoa-oh! We’re halfway there! WHOA-OH! Livin’ on a prayer! Take my hand, and we’ll make it, I swear! Whoa-oh! Livin’ on a prayer!

Cool beans.

And every game has to end. Fortunately this one ended with Notre Dame up on BC 16-14. I’m done talking about the game though, because it was less than perfect.

It’s Stanford Week now. Beat the Cardinal!

After the game, we had to head to Tinley Park, IL immediately, so that was the end of my time at the University of Notre Dame du Lac....for now.

I will be back.


The University of Notre Dame du Lac: Part 2

Wake up on Friday morning, shower, get pretty, head back to campus, see it for the first time in daylight. Still beautiful.

I checked in for my 10 AM information/tour session, but it was still 9:15, so, with time to burn, I went inside the Basilica for a few minutes and walked around North Quad. I instantly recognized Zahm Hall for its stapled bed sheets hanging outside with, “GO IRISH!” written on them. (I do love the Zahmbies.)

And then it happened. I saw my first football player in person!

And of course I blanked. Oh my life!

I recognized this human, and thought, “Oh! I know who that is! It’s...it’s....oh Lord! What’s his name?! BAHHHH!” He passed me and then started talking to someone else I recognized, whose name I knew instantly, because who wouldn’t recognize Manti Te’o? BENNET JACKSON! That’s who that was! But they were talking, and I didn’t want to interrupt, so I didn’t. Regretting that now. Stupid me.

By then, it was time for me to head back to the Dome for the information session. They talked about this and that...things I’d learned a month ago when an admissions rep came to my high school, but the tour guides did not come to my school, so that was something new and exciting.

The ND students all introduced themselves, told about their activities and studies at ND, and then let us decide who we wanted to walk around with.

If it were a competition I would have won. Here’s why: I wanted to go around with someone who was in Mendoza since I want to study at Mendoza, and one of the guys was a finance major in Mendoza. Well goody! Here’s the second reason I won: he was so freaking cute, and quite the friendly human being. Win. Win. Win. (And if he goes to ND, he’s obviously smart. Win.)

So we went around campus. I got to see LaFortune Student Center (or LaFun as the students call it), Hesburgh, the tunnel of the stadium, and basically everything else on campus. It was pretty fantastic.

After the tour was over, my dad and I just walked around for a bit. We saw the Monogram Club in Joyce Center and Purcell Pavillion and went to Hammes bookstore (where I got a new shirt and hat). At that point, since we were pretty tired, we decided to go back to the hotel and reboot. After a nap and a snack, we went back to campus for the pep rally, which I absolutely loved. (Coach Diaco was looking quite handsome in his argyle sweater.) Harrison Smith and Michael Floyd gave short-but-sweet speeches, as did Coach Kelly. And as we were leaving Purcell, we saw Mike Golic, which was huge for me since I listen to his and Mike Greenburg’s radio show every single morning on the way to school.

Then came the hockey game. In the brand new, state-of-the-art Compton Family Ice Area, which smelled of roasted peanuts and kettle corn, the #4 ranked Irish took on the #3 ranked Boston College Eagles, and I got to watch. But not only that, but I got to watch from the press box, seated next to the team chaplain and just below the television announcer. No big deal. The game was goooood. Tied 2-2 at the end of the third period, which led to a five-minute overtime. The last minute of OT looked like the game would end in a tie, but then the Irish scored in the last 1.1 seconds to win. It was huge! If I were permitted to watch only one hockey game for the rest of my life, that would be the game I’d choose.

After the game, I had the opportunity to go to the interview room adjacent to the team’s locker room. The team had the bass pumping like crazy, and we just waited. Bryan Rust, who helped make the last goal, came out of the locker room, still in his under-armor and uniform pants, and answered some questions. Then Coach Jackson, and then goalie Mike Johnson. They all seemed very nice, and very down to earth. After the media session ended, though, I hung back to interview Eric Ringel. He very graciously answered my questions. All I could think was, “Wow. This is different.” Honestly, what teenager has an interviewing job, gets a press pass to sit in the box of a hockey game, and is allowed to interview a member of the team after the game? (HUGE shout out to TNNDN for giving me that job!)

After the interview, it was off to the Dome for the Midnight Drummers’ Circle. I got there 30 minutes early and got to stand around in the cold and wait, but everything is better with good company, which I had. The performance was very cool! Once again, it’s something you don’t get to see every day. Thus, my Friday came to a close. Next up was game day.

Part three to come....


The University of Notre Dame du Lac: Part 1

The trip began at 7 AM on Thursday, November 17, 2011.

From Kansas, to Misery...excuse me, Missouri...to Iowa, then Illinois, and then Domeward bound to Indiana! Some may ask, “It’s Indiana. What’s so special about it? You’re not going to NYC.” Correct you are, sir! It is nothing like New York City (or so I’m assuming, since I’ve never been to New Yawk). But Indiana houses what is now my favorite place in the world....

The University of Notre Dame du Lac.

You hear about the storied campus and its traditions, but stories are just stories until you live them. Then, they become part of you.

The Golden Dome. The Grotto (at night). The ceiling of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The quads. Touchdown Jesus. The marching band. The football team. The stadium. The Gug. Joyce Center. A Pep Rally. A hockey game.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

After 12 hours of driving (technically 13 since we lost an hour due to the time difference), my dad and I arrived in South Bend at dark. While we were passing the University to the North, I caught a glimpse of the Dome. A glimpse of beauty and fame. A glimpse of legend and awe. A glimpse of the future I hope to have. The glimpse brought me to tears.

But it was just a glimpse.

We had to go to the hotel, check in, settle down, etc. But I had to see the campus.

A glimpse of Notre Dame : Anna :: A quick sip of wine : an alcoholic.

After some convincing my dad, he finally caved and we headed to campus.
I have one thing to say about my first impression of campus: What do you say about something that’s older than sliced bread since you can’t say it’s the best thing since sliced bread?

As we drove on campus, I saw buildings that I’d only seen in pictures. I probably sounded like an idiot in the passenger seat gasping at each one and saying, “THE GUG!” or “TOUCHDOWN JESUS! AND JOYCE CENTER!” I don’t care though. I think passion is mistaken for idiocy far too often.

We parked in the Notre Dame Stadium parking lot and walked to God Quad. When we got there, my face was completely numb*.

*Double entendre. It was 21 degrees with a biting wind, so my face was literally numb, and I was excited and couldn’t stop smiling, so it was figuratively numb.

The dome is GORGEOUS at night (see figure 1.2), but compared to the Grotto...my God, there is no comparison. Tears again. There is nothing, I repeat, nothing like the Grotto at night. The cross-campus walk in 21 degree weather was worth every minute of seeing something so breathtaking.

Figure 1.2

After that, it was back to the hotel to get some rest for the next day.

I didn’t get any rest. The hotel we stayed at was...eh. The heater was loud, and so was my dad. Three cheers for sleep apnea! In short, I had a very un-restful sleep and still feel like a zombie. That lack of rest would not, however, let my energy fail me the following day.

To be continued....



Every year, there is one week when a school comes together like never before: the rivalry game.

Students plan a game theme and crowd cheers to do.

Cheer and yell leaders practice stunts and chants.

Parents and faculty plan the tailgate parties.

Coaches analyze the rival team's film, plan their plays, and work the players.

Players, though, have by far the most work to do. They practice long and hard. They prepare themselves mentally. They get themselves pumped up. They have to make sure they are in top mental and physical shape before that Friday night.

During the game, everybody has a job. And when everybody performs their job, the team wins.

Players play the game.
Coaches coach the players.
Cheer and yell leaders lead the fans.
Fans support the players through thick and thin.

As a photographer, I document these jobs and how they're performed. When one job isn't performed well, it reflects on every other job.

When the leaders don't lead, the fans are sloppy, which seems to damage the mentality of the players, which makes them play badly, which makes the coaches angry.

Tonight, against our rival, everyone did their job. So why didn't we win?

I think it's because everyone at Bishop Carroll also did their jobs well, but they did them just a little bit better. That doesn't make them the better football players though.

Who wanted the win more?
Who tried harder to win?

I can say that I've never seen some of our boys play harder than they played tonight. That's something to be proud of. We have some real men on our team. Those are the ones who respect themselves and the opponents enough to work as hard as they can for a win, but still accept a loss.

They've beat us for 13 years now. It's a shame that we couldn't beat them our senior year, but that's going to happen. Someone's gotta lose every game. We may have lost this one, but I have faith that we won in our own sorts.

That makes a damn good football game.

Our Lady of Victory, Pray for Us!
Fr. Kapaun, Pray for Us!
And lastly, Go Crusaders!


Why I Love Golf.

I try to understand the misunderstood. “Golf is so boring.” The only people who say such statements are those who don’t know the difference between a fairway and a green or a putter and a driver. How can you judge what you don’t understand? I used to think golf was boring...but then I started going to the driving range and putting greens with my dad. I would see him sweep back his driver and absolutely bomb that little yellow Pinnacle practice ball out into the range for what seemed like miles. I was 7 years old, and I thought, “Whoa. I want to try that.” For 10 years, on and off, my dad and I would go to the range and green. Though he tried to teach me how to make a proper golf swing, he couldn’t because he had taught himself to play when he turned 24. He didn’t know to translate what he knew into words his daughter would understand. So I practiced--badly--for 10 years.

A month ago, I got a golf teacher. She is the definition of awesome. All the best qualities that can be found in a golf instructor can be found in her. She doesn’t yell or force—she encourages with a kind voice. She lets you do a bad job so that she can show you what needs to be improved on and also to show that golf is damn near impossible; that no one has ever played a perfect game. 18 holes-in-one in a row? The possibility of that doesn’t even matter because the improbability is so great. In a mere month, I was doing a hundred times better than I had done in 10 years. Every 5th lesson, she takes her student out to play 9 holes so she can see how much improvement has been made and what else needs to be improved on. She said that she has had students old and young, male and female, short and tall, but I am the first student who she has ever played an entire 9 with. Everyone else has to be cut off at 3 or 4 because they take so long. (I shot a 57 on a par 35. I thought it was awful, but she said for my first [real] 9, that it was phenomenal.) She tells me, “You are just all ears, aren’t you?” I can only tell her that I’ve wanted to learn golf for far too long, and I know that you can’t learn unless you watch and listen to what the teacher has to say and show. So I watched, and I listened, and I soaked in everything like a sponge. But there is so much to soak in....

...which leads me to reason #2 I love golf. It’s a challenge. Anyone who knows me well knows that I won’t ever choose easy over difficult if I gain more out of the difficult. Golf is the most difficult sport I’ve ever tried. There are so many things you can do wrong! Keep your knees bent, back and arms straight, chin up, and eyes on the ball. Bring down your left shoulder into the backswing. Keep the club in control. Lock your wrists. Keep your feet on the ground. Keep the right tempo (one, two...ONE!). Be patient. Plus, there are different techniques for different clubs! Irons are compact swings and are in the middle of your stance. Woods are in between the front and middle of your stance and you sweep the club back as far as you can and sweep it back down. Drivers are sweeping swings at the front of your stance. Pitching and chipping is in the back of your stance and your weight starts on your left. Putting is....well, putting is synonymous with “hell” and “mental anguish.” Golf is also, “Every man for himself.” You don’t have a team and you’re constantly playing offense. So is everyone you’re playing against. Consider this. If football teams didn’t have defense, the game would be a matter of which team can score more points in the allotted time. With golf, you can’t play defense to hold back your opponent’s score. You just have to out-score them and that’s all you can do. See? Golf is the furthest thing from boring.

Golf is therapeutic. When I get to the golf course, my outside life stays in the parking lot. I step up to that first tee, and all I have with me is my game. My mind is cleared and I just focus on getting that little white ball into the hole hundreds of yards away. For 18 holes, nothing but that game matters, and your mind is absolutely serene. That sounds stupid up front because you think, “But this game can piss you off so badly sometimes!” Well, yes, it can, but you’re still only thinking about the game—nothing that doesn’t belong on the course. Your mind is serene.

Golf is a game. And it's a damn good one. Have fun with it! I remember one time, when I was probably 9 or 10, my dad and I were on the putting green—same one I still go to several times a week. We were winding things down and he said, “Let’s have a putting contest.” The wager on his part was ice cream. He had to buy me a DQ Blizzard if I won. If he won, I had to do the dishes that night. “You’re on,” I told him. I won’t go into details (mainly because I don’t remember them), but I won. I got my Oreo Blizzard and it tasted sweeter than any other Blizzard I’ve had to this day. It’s also a very social game. You have to play with the right people or it sucks. If you can’t talk to the people you’re playing with, that will be the longest 18 holes of your life. Guaranteed.

Golf can make you happier and angrier than you ever knew you could be. A hole-in-one: WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!! OH YEAH! DID YOU SEE THAT?! *@%#^ YEAH! A triple bogey/OB shot: [insert explicatives]. I don’t believe I need to explain further on this. It’s quite rewarding, too. A bad shot sucks bad, but a good shot feels so great. That *chink* of the driver sending that Pro-V1 out onto the fairway and the *plunk* of the ball falling into the hole after an 18-foot putt are the best sounds I’ve ever heard. I feel on top of the world when I hear those sounds.

I fell in love with it hard and fast. As anyone who really knows me knows I like a challenge, they also know that when I like something, I get so deep into it that there is no pulling me out. It happened with singing, guitar, baking and decorating, writing, and my absolutely ridiculous, yet life-changingly awesome Notre Dame obsession. It has now happened with golf. I wake up every day and just want to go to the golf course. The breeze, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the sunshine, and the beautiful reflection of the sky in the water makes me feel untouchable. No matter how badly I play or practice, I always leave the golf course happier than when I arrived.

To those of you who golf, I’m sure you understand everything I’ve said. To those of you who haven’t ever touched a club in your life, I hope I sold it to you. It’s amazing. There really are no words for it. I can say this though: Golf is a drug. It isn’t like one. It is one. When you’re playing, you’re on a high. When you’re not, you feel empty and incomplete and you only want to be playing. It can send you through every emotion in 4 hours or less and it is the most addicting sport out there.

Aces. (Some people say "deuces" but we're golfers. Aces are better than deuces.)



(This post will be very choppily written. Don’t blame me. Must be the drugs.)

Three months ago, they surfaced. Three weeks ago, I had my consult with the oral/maxillofacial surgeon. Three hours ago, I got them extracted. Before the surgery, I was really nervous. What if I have a bad reaction to the anesthesia? What if the pain is excruciating? What if they pull the wrong teeth? (Okay, that one might be slightly irrational.) But I had no choice. They had to come out sooner or later, and summer is a good time to get it done. You don’t have to go back to school with a puffy face merely to be called a chipmunk for days. You don’t have to pack your own lunch of weird, soft foods that, if it were really up to you, you would never eat. You don’t have to pop a pill during class, which the most immature kid in class is bound to see, because then he’ll yell, “DRUGGIE!” at you. In short, I figured I should get them done sooner instead of later.

The trouble began at midnight the previous night/that morning. (I never know how to phrase that. Technically, midnight is that day, but no one really views it that way...or do they?) I was not allowed to eat or drink anything after midnight, which unfortunately included my allergy medicine. Not taking my allergy medicine never ends up well...for anyone. I woke up at 10:30 the morning of and decided to watch a movie to pass the time until my 1:00 surgery. When 1 rolled around, I hopped into the car in the most unattractive outfit possible, because they said, “Wear loose comfortable clothing and do not wear excessive make-up.” Well, I didn’t do my hair, so it was a mixture of Helena Bonham-Carter’s Bellatrix Lestrange and the early-days Hermione Granger. Got a picture in your mind? It’s probably not as bad as your mental-picture, but it sure feels like it. The no-make-up policy doesn’t bother me, because I don’t wear much during the summer anyway, and I really just don’t give a damn. My attire consisted of a pair of deck stain-stained Adidas ™ running shorts, green Old Navy flip-flops, my black Titleist baseball cap, and a KU t-shirt. (I didn’t want to risk getting blood on my Notre Dame t-shirts, of course.)

Waiting, waiting, waiting....waits at the doctor’s office are always superfluously long...except for this time. I sat down, and by the time I got comfortable, which means crossing my legs, I was called up. They sat me down in a chair, plugged me up to some heart-monitors, put on a tourniquet, complimented my strategically-planned t-shirt, stuck me with the IV, and told me to think of something nice. Now let me just say, when someone tells me to think of something nice and I have mere seconds to do so, I feel a little pressured. Sometimes, weird things can pop up. Some may say what popped into my mind was creepy. Some may say, “GOOD CHOICE!” I’m going to reveal it here, so please don’t judge me.

Yes, I know. I may have a bit of a crush on Rickie Fowler. Oh, unrequited love, why must you hurt me so? And Rickie Fowler, why must you have such beautiful eyes; bold, luscious eyebrows; and tanned, golden skin? And the glasses you sometimes wear? They kill me. So attractive! (Just to clarify, it is not an excessive crush. I do not have pictures of him on my bedroom walls, nor do I doodle his name surrounded by hearts on every piece of paper I get a hold of. I’m not creepy.) Also, have you ever seen someone you find so attractive that it almost hurts to look at them because you know that they’re basically un-haveable? (That’s not a word. I just made it one, though.) That’s how I feel sometimes when I see Mr. Fowler. It hurts worse than my mouth right now!

However long it was later, I woke up. I tried reading a label on a cabinet door 10-feet away from me. 100 mL Sodium Chloride was all it said. It took me 5 times waking up and re-focusing my eyes to get it. I think I sang along with the radio. It must have sounded amazing with my mouth full of spit and gauze. I’m expecting my call to headline Madison Square Garden any day now. My feet were freezing cold...bad decision on the flip-flops. After a while, they let me out. I got in the car and my mom stopped to get me a frosty from Wendy’s. How the **** am I supposed to eat this with gauze in my mouth?

The drive home seemed endless and quick at the same time. Must have been the drugs. I remember seeing storm clouds to the West and asking my mom in a muffled voice, “Ith it thuppothed to thtorm?” She replied that there was only a slight chance, but with as hot and dry as it’s been lately, we needed it. It did rain. A bit. Not enough, though.

When we got home, I climbed the stairs and sat in bed. All of a sudden, I felt like my stomach was slowly making its way up my esophagus. Oh shit. Mother was taking too long with the bowl. My trashcan was reachable, so I did what anyone would do. That’s all I have to say about that.

I sat in bed with my frosty, ice water, ice packs, and watched 30 Rock for a while, then switched to the Office. The only bad thing about watching those shows was they made me smile and laugh, which hurts after having four teeth extracted. I wasn’t tired, the pain wasn’t bad, and I had more energy than sitting in bed used up, so I sat up, and started writing this...

....but my mom just came into my room and said I need to ice my cheeks, so I’m holding them awkwardly to my face in a fashion very similar to how people held phones to their ears before Bluetooth existed. I look like an idiot, I’m sure, but I must keep writing. That is not an option. Well that leads up to now, so I guess I’m done typing. Now I can hold the ice packs to my face in a normal-er looking way. How nice!



Whenever I hear the song "Vienna" by Billy Joel, I feel like the song was written for me. (Here's the song:

Every line, phrase, or verse relates to my life in one way or the other. Let me explain:

Slow down you crazy child
You're so ambitious for a juvenile
But then if you're so smart tell me why
You are still so afraid?

I feel as if this verse is saying, "Anna, you're a very ambitious girl, which is not a bad thing, but you need to calm it down. You're squandering away your childhood." People tell me I'm smart all the time, so why am I so afraid of failure and not reaching my goals? Surely, whether it's what I want or not, some kind of good lies ahead.

Where's the fire, what's the hurry about?
You better cool it off before you burn it out.
You got so much to do and only
So many hours in a day.

Once again, why am I focusing all of my energy on my work? I need to take some time to refocus some of my energy on relaxing before I completely burn out. I have a lot to do, and I feel that time is running out, so I need to do it all right now....but I really need to calm down and take a breather.

But you know that when the truth is told,
That you can get what you want
Or you can just get old.
You're gonna kick off before you even get halfway through.
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you?

Slow down you're doing fine.
You can't be everything you want to be
Before your time.
Although it's so romantic on the borderline tonight.
Too bad but it's the life you lead.
You're so ahead of yourself
That you forgot what you need.
Though you can see when you're wrong,
you know you can't always see when you're right.

Here, I feel as if I'm being told that I want a lot of things--possibly too many. I'm working on reaching my goals for the future too soon, and I "can't be everything I want to be before my time." I focus everything on the things I want, and forget what I need. I beat myself up when I don't reach a goal, even though I sometimes set my own goals a little too high.

You got your passion you got your pride,
But don't you know only fools are satisfied?
Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true.
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you?

I have passion, I have pride, but I need to realize that the only people who are ever really satisfied are fools. In short, no one is ever really 100% satisfied with their landing spot, but I need to make the most of it. "Dream on, but don't imagine they'll all come true." This line says reach for the stars, but don't think that you can reach every one before you run out of time. Do what you can, but don't reprimand yourself for failing to do the impossible.

Slow down you crazy child!
Take the phone off the hook
And disappeaar for a while.
It's alright, you can afford to lose a day or two.
When will you realize
Vienna waits for you?

This final verse tells me to just stop for a few days. Give yourself a break and don't feel lazy because of it. Everyone needs "me time" at some point. Even if that "me time" means going somewhere and telling no one where and completely distancing yourself from your life, it needs to be done.

So what is Vienna? It could be anything. It just depends on the person. Vienna could be, for me, self-acceptance. It could be happiness or serenity; peace and quiet. For workaholics, it could be that promotion they're working so hard for. For singles, it could be their significant other. For parents, the satisfaction of their child's happiness. I leave you with this question: Who, what, or where is your Vienna and when will you realize that it's waiting for you?