11.21.2011

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.

11.20.2011

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....

11.19.2011

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....

10.07.2011

Rivals

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!

8.14.2011

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.)

7.29.2011

Extraction

(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!

7.26.2011

Vienna

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?

6.22.2011

Home

Everyone (or almost everyone) has heard the song or phrase, "A House Is Not A Home." It makes sense hearing it, but feeling it is so much more than that. A home is more than wooden beams, bricks, glass, insulation, sheet rock, flooring, and furniture. A home is memories, and if it's anything like mine, it is a part of the family. That's why leaving it is something I can't even fathom right now.

A few hours ago, I was told that my parents are going to buy a new house. I saw the house today, and I hated it. It was small, dated, stuffy, and I cannot sense any happiness following me there. Plus, the fact that I'd be moving away from my best friend since infancy makes it worse. Living next door to your best friend is not only convenient, but it is also comforting. Knowing that a shoulder to cry on or someone to tell the good news to is just 15 seconds away is more than I can describe.

I cannot leave this house. It built me. I learned to ride a bike out front. I've buried 3 pets in the back yard. I had adventures in the fort next to the swing set. I learned to play piano on the mahogany Yamaha in the living room. I learned guitar in the small back bedroom. (Yes, I know the parallels to the song "The House That Built Me" by Miranda Lambert.) I did homework, studied for test, and prepared for my SAT at the kitchen table. I've made and decorated beautiful cakes in the kitchen. I've painted rooms, colored walls. I've played with my Barbies in nearly every room. I've woken up to the same views for 17 1/2 years. I've mowed the lawn more times than I even want to think about. I've played hide and seek with neighbor kids. I've never felt more comfortable anywhere else.

My mom doesn't understand. She keeps saying she does, but how can she? Her parents still live in the house that she grew up in. She gets to go back to the same house that built her. If we move, I will never get that back. I can never feel at home in a house other than this one.

The new house will simply be a building--a roof and some walls. If that's the case, I might as well move into an office complex or a warehouse because it will be the same thing to me.

I also know that moving right before or during my senior year would be a terrible idea. My grades would start to slip from lack of sleep due to homesickness. If my grades slip, I won't get into the colleges of my choice, and then my whole life would change and every hope I have for my future would dissipate.

All the while, I feel like I'm being selfish, thoughtless, and petty. I'm not moving to another state or even city. It's only 2 miles up the road, but I feel as if it might as well be to Canada, or why not just Romania! But eventually, my mom will have to move. She has MS and will not be able to live in a house where she has to constantly take stairs much longer. My dad says he's perfectly fine in this house, and I tell him that I'm more than fine here. The thought of moving is tearing me apart. I have never felt pain in so many places. I can't think straight. I can't even see straight. I don't think I've ever cried this much. My body will be out of all fluid by the time I'm done, or so it seems.

This home is part of me. Leaving it before I'm ready would destroy me. But the writing helps. We haven't moved yet and we don't even know when it's going to happen. I will beg and plead for my parents to wait until I go off to college, and if they do, they'll have even less stuff to shove into the new building. I guess I'm just afraid of such a big change. And this all happened too fast. I found out about their considering buying the house less than a week ago and all of a sudden, "We got it!" Not "we." "You." You got it. I'm never going to get it because I don't want it. There is only one home I want and it sits on Greenbriar Lane. This street, this yard, this house will be the only place I can call home until I have a home of my own and start my own life there. Even if I leave this house physically, I will never leave it emotionally. It will always be a part of me. And that's all there is to it. Simple, yet so complex.

6.20.2011

Possibility

After a decade, hundreds of days of shame, many nights of tears, countless therapy sessions, and years of feeling hideous, I did what I always thought would be impossible: I overcame my struggle with Trichotillomania. When I was 6 years old, I plucked out my eyelashes. When I was 11, I plucked a bald spot on the peak of my scalp. On August 31, 2010, when I was 16, I decided it was time to put an end to it all. I grabbed a whiteboard and an Expo marker. On the top I wrote, “Days Without Pulling,” underlined it and started with a big 0. Each day that I went without pulling out my eyelashes, I added a number. The first 3 days were horror. I had to have my mom hide the tweezers. I stayed away from mirrors. I put Vaseline on my fingertips so that I couldn’t get a grip on the individual lashes. 0 turned into 3. 3 turned into 15. 15 turned into 30. 30 turned into 90. After updating the board, I began to realize the temptation started to go away, and as my eyelashes grew longer, my will grew stronger.

I do not tell my story for pity. I tell it so that others who struggle with any disorder or addiction can realize that it can be overcome. It was hard and for 10 long years, I thought it couldn’t be done, but I can now wake up in the morning look at myself in the mirror and be proud of my accomplishment. Most people don’t realize how much eyelashes mean, but to someone who lived without them and earned mockery and torment for it, they mean success. They mean victory. They mean triumph. They mean power. They mean strength.

I can easily say that having Trichotillomania has changed, and still changes, my life in both good and bad ways. The good outweighs the bad, but those bad things sure seem big sometimes. One bad thing: I still feel tempted every single day. The temptation has never really gone away, but it’s much weaker now. I look in the mirror and think to myself, “I could pick that eyelash right there. But how can I turn back now? Why would I ever do that to myself?” Another bad thing: I have never felt pretty. Perhaps when I meet a boy and he tells me face-to-face that I am, maybe, just maybe, I will finally feel like I am pretty, but until then, I still feel like that 14 year old who had to wear tons of eye makeup to hide her lash-less eyelids.

The goods, however, are wonderful. I am now an advocate of the truth: that the impossible is possible; that the will is stronger than the urge. I am no longer afraid to leave the house with no makeup on. And now, more people notice my “striking emerald” eyes. A year ago, when people asked me “What is your favorite facial feature?” I would probably say something obscure like my ears or teeth. Now? “My eyes. I love my eyes.” I am not ashamed of how I look.

TTM defined who I am. It is the reason for my persistence. It is the reason for my refusal to believe that I can't do something. It is why I want to help people. It is why no matter how hideous or weak I feel, I know that I am a beautiful, strong young woman who can have a bright future ahead of her as long as she keeps the right mentality.

I am extremely open with my struggle because others need to know. TTM is more common than most people realize, but it is because those who have it either won’t get the diagnosis or hide their ugly truth. I am open so that people stop mocking and so that anyone struggling with it can find the help they need and overcome it just like I did. Before a year ago, when someone said, “Anything is possible,” I shook my head in skepticism. It’s amazing how one can change in a year, because now I’m the one saying it. And I mean every bit of it. Anything IS possible.

If anyone has any questions, personal or not, feel free to e-mail me at fightingirishfan103@gmail.com. I will answer any questions. If you or someone you know struggles with TTM, visit trich.org for more information or talk to someone else, like me, who struggles with it.

6.01.2011

A Humble Teacher: How Randy Waldrum Is More Than Just A Soccer Coach

Interview performed on May 31, 2011

“Everything revolves around soccer and my family.”

Coach Randy Waldrum is a very humble man. While most people would find a record such as his something to boast about—who wouldn’t boast about two National Championships and several other awards?—Waldrum simply says that he doesn’t have any “interesting tidbits” to himself. However, even the busiest and most accomplished of people have hobbies. Waldrum is most assuredly busy, proven accomplished, and he does have some hobbies.

“In my spare time, if I ever have it, I do like to get away and golf a little bit, if I can—although I’m not very good at it, because I don’t have much practice time. And, you know, I don’t mind getting out to a lake and getting on a boat, fishing a little bit, but I don’t have much time to do that. So, I really would say everything pretty much revolves around soccer for me.”

Many people would say that life passions begin very early in life, arguably at the ages of five or six. Waldrum’s passion began when he was a bit older. He played baseball, but the slow-moving sport did not fit well with the young, hyper, and active Waldrum.

“In the city that I grew up in, Irving, Texas, we didn’t have soccer when I was a little boy. I didn’t start in the parks system until I was twelve years old, so by today’s standard I really started late. But as soon as I stepped on the field to play, at twelve, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. I just fell in love with it....Baseball bored me, you know? Standing around waiting...I just fell in love with soccer.”

Waldrum knew that soccer was what he wanted to do, but it was not what he was expected to do. But expectations wouldn’t stop him. “My family’s in a business—they all own a sign company where my dad and his three brothers all ran the business, and, of course, all my cousins and all my brothers and sisters worked there, and it was kind of assumed that that’s what I would do, you know, just follow in the footsteps. I was kind of the black sheep of the family...everybody else went and worked in the family business, and I went off to college and ended up playing soccer.”

In Wichita Falls, Texas, Waldrum attended Midwestern State University. His family attended most of his games there after realizing what soccer meant to Waldrum and how realistic his dream was. (The caliber of its reality wasn’t realized until colleges began offering scholarships.) Until that point, they believed that it was just something he was doing to pass the time, and they felt that eventually he would work in the family business. He graduated from Midwestern State University in 1981 with a major in physical education and a minor in political science.

The experiences Waldrum had at youth, high school, and college levels in soccer would help him enter a profession that was in no way like his family’s sign-making business. After college, he went on to play professionally for the Los Angeles Skyhawks and the Indianapolis Daredevils, both teams in the American Soccer League. He then went on to coach others in the sport he loves. Waldrum explained that his high school coach influenced him greatly:

“My high school coach, to me was—second to my father—was probably the most influential man in my life. His name was Simon Sanchez. And he kind of—he was one I’d say I kind of modeled myself on. And I hope at the end of my career that my kids who played for me think as much of me as I did of him....I would say he was my idol, as far as a coach, growing up.”

While his high school coach was the most influential on Waldrum, he stated that his youth coaches were the ones who really taught him the game and got him involved in it. He said that one of his coaches brought the sport to Irving, TX from his home country of Sweden and got Waldrum “really excited to [play].” Another of his coaches, from Mexico, directed his development in the sport from his earliest days playing through high school.

The influence Waldrum’s coaches had on him is now becoming the influence that Waldrum has had on the teams he coached, and still coaches. He coached in his hometown at MacArthur High School, where his team went to three state championship games, one of which they won. He then went to coach the men’s teams at Austin College and Texas Wesleyan. From there, in 1989, he began coaching both men and women at Tulsa. In 1995, he took a job at Baylor where he coached women only, something he says he has never regretted. Deciding to quit coaching men altogether was difficult, but the coaching transition from men to women was not a difficult task for him because he coaches women no differently than he coached the men:

“What I’ve always believed in is that...it’s still soccer, whether it’s men or women....You coach the same way you’ve always coached. Now, there’s some differences in team chemistry and the way you handle players a little bit, but I think for the most part...the sport’s the same way.”

Coaching women seems to fit his particular style of coaching better. He stated that, “In fact, I’ve found that what makes me love coaching women more than I did the men is that the women are so coachable. They’re so hungry for information and they’re so eager to please and to do things correctly. I think sometimes at the college level, the male players already kind of thing they know it all, that they have all the answers. You don’t find that with the women. It was something that was real refreshing to me.”

He then explained his particular coaching style: “With being a teacher and my degree in education, I think my style would be more of a teaching mode. It’s not a Vince Lombardi, it’s not the yelling...it’s not demeaning players, we don’t use foul language, [and] it’s not one of those ‘get in your face to make you do what we want you to do’ [styles]. I think it’s more of a teaching environment for our kids, and you do that work during the week and my belief is that, on the weekends, when the games are being played...simply, game time is for the players. You’ve done all your work as coach during the week....We have to prepare them for the decisions they make on the field.”

This coaching style and attitude have helped him lead his 2004 and 2010 teams at Notre Dame to win National Championships. The 2004 win will always be a memorable one for him because he won it with friends and family on his staff.

“The [championship] in 2004 was really special because one of my assistant coaches was Alvin Alexander, who was my very best friend. He and I grew up playing club soccer against each other, and then we went to college together, so we’ve been lifelong friends. And Dawn Greathouse was a former player of mine on staff, and of course Ben Waldrum, my son, who was on staff as well. So to win a National Championship—your first one—with your son, with your best friend, and with a former player on staff was pretty cool.”

He relived the National Championship win in 2010 after guiding his team through considerably one of the hardest schedules in NCAA Women’s Soccer. He shared that shortly after the game on the way back to Notre Dame from the Championship game, he walked to the back of their charter plane where, in the midst of the girls reliving the game, Melissa Henderson, Jessica Schuveiller, and Courtney Barg were already talking about repeating the season and going for yet another win. Waldrum said that getting to the Final Four is one of the team’s main goals for the 2011 Season. Another National Championship win is also on that list of goals, and he has faith that the team can repeat history.

Amongst his numerous awards, championships, and other achievements, Randy Waldrum remains humble. He is a family man to his wife Dianna and son Ben, but he also acts as an almost-father to the girls he coaches. He takes pride in any awards they win, whether academically or athletically and is glad to see his players graduate and lead successful, happy lives. Before I spoke to Coach Waldrum, I had heard several good things about him. Never did I doubt them, but until I had actually spoken to him, it didn’t register. His welcoming attitude, kind voice, genuine care for others, selflessness, and humility make him a likeable person and the beloved, successful Notre Dame coach he’s known to be.

Other information obtained from http://www.und.com/sports/w-soccer/mtt/waldrum_randy00.html

5.27.2011

Numbers

(Caution: This is an un-proofread (<--funny-looking word) post. Do not mock for bad spelling and/or grammar. It's late and I can only do so much.)

Numbers. They control us. Your age (a number) either allows or prevents certain privileges and/or rights throughout our lifetimes.

Can't order off of the Kids' Menu after age 12. Can't drive or date until you're 16. Can't see an R-Rated movie until you're 17. You can vote when you're 18. You can (legally) drink when you're 21. You can start getting Senior Discounts when you're 65. Et cetera, et cetera.

What's your address? Do you have the time? What's your date of birth? Numbers? Of course they are! So is your phone NUMBER. Social security NUMBER. Lottery ticket NUMBERS. Locker NUMBER. Class Room NUMBER. NUMBERS! NUMBERS! NUMBERS!

(Side thought: I just realized why the superlative of "numb" is "more numb" rather than "number." Continuing....)

I like numbers. They are concrete and believable. Scenario:
Two people are arguing. Person A (<--I could have used a number for that, too.) has very reasonable evidence drawn from human logic and maybe some research. Person B, too, has reasonable evidence, but he also has statistics: numbers! Who are you more likely to believe? I don't know who you're going to believe. That's all a matter of preference, but I am much more likely (let's give that a number: 75%) to side with Person B.

I hate numbers. Scenario:
Math class.

Recently, numbers have meant a lot to me. Tonight, for instance, my SAT scores became available. After being disappointed by my ACT score a month ago, I was pretty nervous. And, of course, somehow suspense was built: the scores were supposed to be released on the 26th, but when I went to look it told me to check back on the 28th; also, our internet was down today and I couldn't check my e-mail. I returned home and checked my e-mail and saw a message from College Board: "Your SAT Scores are now available." Crunch! There wasn't actually a crunch, but it sure felt like there was in my gut. I started to shake, opened my account, clicked a link, scrolled down, and there it was. 680 Critical Reading, 650 Mathematics, 690 Writing. Grand Total: 2020. The reason my ACT score was such a let-down was because it was below my goal. My goal for the SAT was a 1970....I GOT IT! That score on top of being named a National High-Achieving Hispanic Scholar means one thing: I'm happy.

2020 is a pretty good number, I'd say. I have 20/20 vision, one of my favorite prime-time news shows is called "20/20," and add this score to the pile. The year 2020 would also be the year I'd earn a medical degree if I were to decide to pursue medicine (but I'm pretty sure I won't).

I'm not the smartest, I'm not the funniest, I'm not the most innovative, I'm not the most athletic, I'm not the prettiest, I'm not the best musician, I'm not the nicest, but I can guarantee that I am the best Anna Sophia Gonzalez out there.

As a reader, you're probably tired of hearing about my over-achiever aspirations and hopes for the future, so here's some random "fun" stuff to read.

I read "I Am America (and So Can You!)" by Stephen Colbert and LOVED IT! It was probably the funniest book I've ever read. I also read "Freakonomics" by Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner, and plan to read the follow-up. (I've been reading a lot of Stephen/Steven books lately, haven't I?) I also read a required novel for school beginning to end. It was "The Things They Carried" by Tim O'Brien. It was wonderful!

I've also seen plenty of movies in the last month.
Rio: Adorable. Great music. I love Jesse Eisenberg, even if only his voice is present.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: Eh. Waste of money.
Something Borrowed: Cute, atypical chick-flick. One question: WHAT ABOUT JOHN KRASINSKI?!
The Hangover Part II: Hilarious film, but you should seek mental and emotional preparation before viewing.
Kung Fu Panda 2: In the words of the Dragon Warrior, himself: "Did someone say AWESOME?!"
Frost/Nixon: Hell yes!
It's Complicated: I love Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin, and Steve Martin, but I'll admit that I did rent it just because John Krasinski was in it. (I <3 John!)

Here's a worse event in my life...MY IPOD BROKE!!! How I'm still walking and breathing (even though I'm sitting down at this moment), I do not know. I need a new iPod A.S.A.P. Music ties for 2nd place in the "Necessities for Anna's Survival" list. Number 1 is oxygen and tied with music for 2nd is water. It's that important to me.

I've also taken the piano back up, but I'm doing it stag. No teachers this time. I am the teacher.

Okay, I think that's about it. This web-page hopes to see you next time I have something to say.

Bon Voyage!

4.26.2011

Living in the Moment: Ian Williams

Although he’s been preparing himself for this week since he first stepped on a football field his freshman year of high school, Ian Williams lives in the moment. He takes advantage of opportunities as they come to him and makes the best of what he’s given.

4 years ago, he realized that Notre Dame was the best fit for him as a school: “It kind of grew on me. The place, the guys on the team, the coaches, and the student body just grew on me. I just thought that it was the right place for me, the right fit for me, at that time.”

After entering the university, many of his teammates decided to major in business or liberal arts and science. Williams decided to major in Film, Television, and Theatre. When asked why he came to that decision, Ian stated, “I was interested in TV and film...I watched a lot of TV, I watched a lot of movies. It was just interesting to find out what goes into making a TV series or movie. Really, it’s what got me interested.”

His future may be in the NFL, but his past as a Notre Dame Football player shaped him and will remain a part of him. His favorite memory was the beginning of his career at the University: “I’ll probably say my freshman year: the first time I went in the tunnel and played Georgia Tech. You never expect to see a spectacle like that. It was just great to be in that moment—running through the tunnel...going out into the stadium with the people cheering, it was just a crazy scene, and that was one of the things I’ll never forget.” Now, he looks back in support of his former teammates: “I hope they make it to the National Championship. That’s their goal, and, as an alumnus now, that’s what I want to see them do. I want them to win. I’m going to do everything I can to support the guys....I just hope they grow up and make sure they get their degrees, and just play great football. I’m a fan now, so that’s all I can ask for.” He says that he’ll miss his teammates, the camaraderie, and the friendships he’s made at Notre Dame the most. 5 words he chose to describe his career at Notre Dame were, “short, amazing, impactful, memories, and friendships.” I asked him who he thinks will step up and surprise the fans this coming season. “Louis Nix. He’s one of the guys who’s been working hard for the past year and a half to get to where he is now. He and Sean Cwynar are really going to be a great duo. I really think Louis Nix will have a great impact on the season.” He also has faith in esteemed freshman recruit, Aaron Lynch. “Aaron is going to be a great player. I got to see him a little bit in practice and in the spring game, and he made a lot of plays. He’s young, he’s fresh out of high school, so coming out this spring he was ready to jump right in and get his feet wet, you know? I don’t know what Coach Elston or Coach Turner has for him in the fall but I know Coach Diaco and the whole defensive staff will try and get him out on the field.”

Speaking of coaches...

I asked him if it was tough playing under Coach Charlie Weis for three years and then having to adapt to Coach Brian Kelly’s style for his last year at Notre Dame. “It was kind of tough to get used to the coaching change. I think Coach Kelly and the new staff came in with a great mentality. Going back, I don’t regret losing Coach Weis, because he was a great coach—he taught us a lot of things and really brought the team together—but Coach Kelly came in and took us and taught us the same things, but we were older now and he made sure we had a good season.”

After a Sun Bowl victory on December 31, 2010 under Coach Kelly (one of only two Notre Dame coaches to lead the Irish to a Bowl Game and a victory in his first year), Williams played in the Under Armour ™ Senior Bowl for the North Team on January 29, 2011. With 5 tackles (4 of which were solo) and 1 sack, Williams led a very impressive performance. Opinions about the formerly underappreciated nose guard went from apathetic to raving instantly. “It was a great experience for me. I got to go up against guys who were just as big, just as strong, and just as fast as me, so it gave me a really good chance to go out there and see what the level of competition was outside of Notre Dame. It was a great moment to be out there and have fun with the guys, talk with the guys, and be able to meet coaches and scouts. It was just a crazy week that just went by so fast....I wish I could go back and play it all over, but I learned a lot from the Senior Bowl. It helped me grow as a player and as a person and to help myself be more humble.”

His performance in the Senior Bowl could have an effect on the happenings later this week, during the NFL Draft. “I’ll just say that I’m just waiting to get my name called. I don’t know if it’ll be on Friday or Saturday, but I’m just excited to live in the moment. My childhood dreams will finally be here. They’re just a couple days away, so I’ll just be down in Orlando waiting with my family and friends, just waiting for that phone call from a team and realize my dreams.” What does he believe is his best asset to a team looking to draft him? “My playmaking skills. I think my instincts to play the game are second to none....For every team in the league, the first thing they want to do is stop the line, and I think that’s my strong suit.” He started preparing himself for this week in his freshman year of high school, when he began football. He realized the draft was his dream—and it became his mother’s dream as well. He lists her as his role model: “She’s done a lot for me. She’s struggled for me. I’ve seen her do the best she can. She taught me everything I know, and who I am is who she’s brought me up to be, so that’s the lady I look up to.”
While Williams looks up to his mother, he realizes that others look up to him. He got to meet some of his fans on the weekend of the Blue-Gold Game and expressed his thoughts about it. “It was great to meet a lot of the people. I try to be as nice as possible to the fans because without them, the sport I love wouldn’t be so popular, so I try to pay my respects to them, sign autographs, and say hi to the kids. It’s just a great experience to meet a kid and make his day and hear him say, ‘I met Ian Williams!’ or, ‘I met Kerry Neal!’ or, ‘Robert Hughes!’...things like that. You know, it’s crazy to think that little kids grew up thinking that they want to be you one day.”

Some of the fans he met belong to The New Notre Dame Nation, and he noticed the positive impact that TNNDN had on himself and the team. “They’re just a great group of people who try to be positive about Irish sports and being a former athlete for the Irish now, I know that’s to a great advantage because there’s too many fans out there that are negative against us.” He realizes that the negativity is unhealthy for young recruits: “The kids who are 17, 18 years old don’t need that at the time. There’s too much already going on with school and football and social life, family, and I think The New Notre Dame Nation’s starting to be a really positive influence for them and my former teammates.”

In a few days, Williams will be taking his experiences as a Fighting Irish to the NFL. What city he’ll be taking them to is unknown still, but he will maintain the support of the Irish fans around the country. He lived high school in the moment, college in the moment, and, soon, he’ll be living his ultimate dreams in the moment. It’s who Ian Williams is.

Interview performed on April 25, 2011.

4.24.2011

Nervous

I'm very nervous right now. In 11 minutes, my ACT scores might be released. In about 12 hours, I will be interviewing Ian Williams, former Nose Guard at Notre Dame. Thoughts on this?

Oh my God. What if my scores are bad? What if they're really good? What if they're just okay? What if the interview goes sour? What if it goes really well? What if, what if, what if?

Also, what if I'm just confusing excitement for nervousness? They feel basically the same--butterflies in your stomach, foot tapping incessantly, thoughts racing through your brain. How am I supposed to tell them apart? Maybe I'm not supposed to. Maybe they're always supposed to go hand-in-hand. Think about it: every good situation has potential for bad and vice versa.

Now, everyone keeps telling me, "You deserve it," about the interview. Well what did I do to deserve it? Am I really that outstanding of a person? I'm 17 years old and have had no formal training in journalism. Granted, it is my passion, but, let me repeat, I am not trained in it. What makes me so special?

This is another reason that @TNNDN (www.thenewndnation.com) is such a wonderful organization. They've given me this opportunity. I've met amazing people and opened so many doors for myself. It is truly a universal key to chances. Now I just need to reach out and grab those chances while they're in my reach, and believe me, I'm doing that as much as I can.

4.20.2011

A New Kind of Home

Lots has happened since the last time I posted, and seeing as that was almost a month ago, lots should have happened.

I took my ACT, and it was not nearly as bad as I expected. Did I score #pancakeorbust (inside-ish joke)? I sure hope I did. The worst section, by far, was the science section. Graphs are easy to read, but as the numbers got higher, the graphs became more complex and took more time to figure out. I did, however, finish the dreaded 60-in-60 math section and the reading and writing sections. Now all I can do is wait for my scores and hope I did as well as I feel.

We moved Mema into an assisted living center. My Mema is the reason that Notre Dame means so much to me and my biggest hope is that she can see me get accepted into the University. When she moved from the house my Dad grew up in to her duplex where she's been for 8 years, everyone had a hard time saying goodbye to that house. But moving her out of her duplex into an old-folks home was even harder; I could tell by the look her eyes and disparity written on her face that she would never feel at home in her new home. When we went to visit her, I couldn't even talk because I was afraid my voice would crack under the emotion. My eyes were on the verge of tears. My head was turned down with the bill of my baseball cap hiding them. I had a knot in my stomach like I've never felt before. As we slowly walked down the hallways of the place as she showed us around, I thought to myself, "This is the last place she'll live." Her last walls will be an awful shade of taupe. Her last carpet will be green and maroon. I also knew that when she said goodbye to her home, I was saying goodbye to all those Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Birthday celebrations. All those Notre Dame games where we saw touchdowns and tackles; where I witnessed her tears during the "Alma Mater" after the game. It broke my heart to say goodbye to such fond memories that shaped me so. Since they've been evicted from their physical home, they'll have to take shelter in my mind and in my heart. I love you, Mema. Please stay strong for us.

To her, I send the Irish blessing:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.

4.02.2011

Rockne Memorial






These photos were taken at the 80th Anniversary Commemoration of the Knute Rockne Crash Site located in Bazaar, Kansas. I can safely say that I have never seen so many Notre Dame fans gathered in one place (because I haven't yet been to South Bend). Nils Rockne (Knute's grandson, seen speaking in the second to last photo), Mary Rattenbury (the director of the Rockne Heritage Fund), and many esteemed alumni were in attendance. Jack Swarbrick wrote a letter expressing his gratitude for everyone's attendance and hard work and also his apologies for not being able to attend. The ceremony was beautiful and very moving. Set upon the backdrop of the golden Flint Hills and a clear, blue sky, the ceremony had a wonderful Irish feel to it, even down to the colors of the setting. A few remarked that Rockne planned it. A wreath provided by the Notre Dame Athletic Department (pictured) was placed on the site by a relative of one of the 8 men killed in the crash. At 10:48, the time of the crash, a home-made plane (pictured) flew over the site. The ceremony was even closed with an Irish Blessing and the singing of the Fight Song and "Notre Dame, Our Mother." I, personally, having not yet been to a game at Notre Dame Stadium, felt as if that was my initiation into something that means more to me than I currently realize. It increased my already profound desire to attend the University. I am so very glad I spent the hour-and-a-half drive out to something so touching.

I apologize for the less-than-perfect quality of these photos. My vantage point was not, let's just say, to much advantage and they requested that minimal pictures be taken during the ceremony, but I sneaked a few in just for you.

3.31.2011

March 31: The Day the Football Died

80 years ago today, a symbolic father died. He was the father of something I love dearly, which is why today means more to me than any other Thursday. Knute Rockne is a legend. Few people who are familiar with college football have gone without hearing his name. This post is a research paper I wrote about Knute Rockne and his contribution to football. I figured it quite appropriate that I publish it today.

Knute Rockne: The Father of Notre Dame Football

The Notre Dame Fighting Irish football team is one of preeminence among the football teams in the United States. It is one of the oldest programs and one known for its coaches. Even those who do not follow or care for Notre Dame Football probably have heard the names Frank Leahy, Ara Parseghian, Lou Holtz, and Dan Devine; however, the most prominent of the Fighting Irish football coaches was Knute Rockne. His avant-garde innovations of the game, his campaign to build Notre Dame Stadium, and his addition to game-day traditions helped to make college football one of the most popular sports in the United States.

The legendary football coach was born Knute Kenneth Rockne on March 4, 1888 in Voss, Norway. When he was five years old, he and his family moved to Chicago, Illinois where he became fascinated with football. In 1910, he enrolled at the University of Notre Dame. He tried out for the football team, but his small stature prevented him from earning a spot on the roster. During his sophomore year, Notre Dame hired a new football coach, Jesse Harper, under whom Rockne made the team and played for three years (Gustainis).

Jesse Harper noticed Rockne’s intelligence and love of the game, so when Rockne graduated in 1914, he was immediately hired as an assistant coach to the football team. Harper gave him this job for selfless reasons as well—Rockne wanted to pursue the medical field, and his coaching job was to pay his tuition, but the college where he would study medicine would not take him if he was working as a coach. He went back to Notre Dame and was hired by the University to teach undergraduate chemistry (Brondfield 71-72).

In 1918, Rockne took over Harper’s position as head coach and athletic director for a $5,000 annual salary (Brondfield 81). During his four years as assistant coach and thirteen years as head coach, Rockne made countless contributions to the strategy and technique of football. His most important contributions that are still used in football today include the forward pass, offensive and defensive line shifts, the correct way to catch the ball, trick plays, and usage of media (Cavanaugh 255-261).

The forward pass is the technique used when, instead of handing off the ball to a running-back, the quarterback waits until a receiver is downfield to catch the pass. He then throws the ball multiple yards to gain maximum play increase. This play, invented in 1905, was not commonly used until Rockne figured out how to utilize it. He first used it against Army in a game that Notre Dame won 35-13. Rockne claimed that the play was not used to achieve victory; rather, it was used to “scatter the opposing line and backfield opposition” which made rushing an easier play (Cavanaugh 256). The forward pass is now very often seen in football games at high school, college, and professional levels.

The shift, used by both the offense and defense, is when players move around to adapt to the opposing team’s line before the ball is snapped. It helps to gain maximum advantage and deception over the opposition. Just as the forward pass, Rockne did not invent the play; in fact, Rockne credits the play creation to Coach Stagg of the Chicago Bears (Cavanaugh 257). In 1921, Rockne had his team use the shift against Army (a game they won 28-0). Charley Daly, the West Point coach complained to the referee, but since there were neither rules for nor against the shift, the play was not penalized. However, Rockne promised Daly that he would not use the move again for the duration of that game (Brondfield 113-114).

Rockne’s greatest contribution, however, may have been changing football from a game of size to a game of skill and agility. His personal experience with rejection because of size made him want to help smaller men play the game they loved. He needed smaller men to run fast and to be able to catch the ball. One of Rockne’s linemen for the South Bend Silver Edge Team stated, “Rockne looked for speed, quickness, and guts in his players. Most coaches in those days were impressed with size and went for big men” (Sperber 58). Without quick-footed and quick-thinking players, his forward pass would be useless making the shift a pointless move as well.

Rockne also had to teach his receivers to catch the ball the right way—with stiff, cradling arms rather than letting the ball bounce off the chest—and he used them for trick plays (Cavanaugh 255). These trick plays are still used and can fool the opposition, fans, and commentators. A fake hand-off to an alternate rusher could allow the running-back with the ball to run it all the way down the field for a touchdown. A fake punt could allow for a rush. The trick plays allowed for the deception Rockne was looking for and helped to make football a game of deep thought and knowledge in addition to size and power (Cavanaugh 258).

Another technique Rockne used to develop college football’s fame was not actually used on the field. Rockne understood how he could use the media to his advantage. At that point in time, many coaches were reluctant to give interviews or allow photographers on their fields—not Rockne. He welcomed interviews, photos, and film all onto his football field. With the increasing coverage of his football games, Notre Dame’s fame skyrocketed—fans were gained nation-wide and more people began watching football (Krause and Singular 24-25).

With football’s rising popularity, attendance at the games subsequently rose. To accommodate more fans, a larger stadium was needed. This made Rockne begin his campaign to build Notre Dame Stadium. The Irish had been using Cartier Field (which is still used as the outdoor practice field to this day) and Soldier Field in Chicago for their games with larger attendance, but this caused many scheduling problems. Rockne’s solution was simple. He suggested that Notre Dame begin charging $5 a ticket and they would soon have money to build a stadium (Sperber 88-89).

The 1927 football season gained a $331,454 profit lifting them to their $800,000 goal—enough to begin the construction of the new stadium. Notre Dame Stadium would be the biggest stadium at that time, seating over 50,000 people. Most football stadiums at that time used school financing, which was quite problematic during the Great Depression; however, Rockne’s original idea of self-financing proved to be successful during this time because it took no extra money from the University (Sperber 268-271). A nickname for Notre Dame Stadium often heard today is “The House That Rockne Built.”

Many game-day traditions, legends, and myths were established under Rockne’s reign as Athletic Director at Notre Dame. Many of these are still very much a part of the Notre Dame community. The “Win One for the Gipper” speech, the Four Horsemen, and Notre Dame’s biggest rivalries were all established under Knute’s watch at the school.

On November 23, 1920 George Gipp, Rockne’s star player whom Rockne had recruited himself, entered the hospital because of a high fever and sore throat. After three weeks in the hospital, he died of pneumonia (Chelland 184, 192). Before his death, he whispered to Rockne these famous last words:
I’ve got to go, Rock. It’s all right. I’m not afraid. Sometime, Rock, when the team’s up against it, when things are wrong and the breaks are beating the boys—tell them to go in there with all they’ve got and win one for the Gipper. I don’t know where I’ll be then, Rock, but I’ll know about it, and I’ll be happy. (qtd. in Rockne 236)


Rockne proceeded to give the speech to his 1928 team when they were playing against Army. “These lads on that 1928 team had never met Gipp—had never seen him. But Gipp is a legend in Notre Dame. Every football writer at that half time said that Notre Dame would be beaten badly….But the boys came out for the second half exalted, inspired, overpowering. They won. As Chevigny slashed through for the winning touchdown he said, ‘That’s one for the Gipper!’” (Rockne 236)

In 1924, George Strickler, a Notre Dame student publicist, wanted a simple picture of Rockne’s successful backfield line-up. These four men, Harry Struhldreher, Don Miller, Jimmy Crowley, and Elmer Layden, were asked to each sport their uniforms and a football while mounted on a horse. Rockne had originally been reluctant to let his backfield pose on horses for fear of them being injured, but he allowed the photo. The photo of the Four Horsemen became very famous, still remains famous, and gave the 1924 team a reputation of being powerful and undefeatable (Brondfield 121-123).

The Notre Dame rivalries are some of the most attended games in college football. One of its oldest rivalries is against the West Point Cadets, more commonly called simply “Army.” In fact, the games against Army hosted some of the most memorable events in Notre Dame History. However, its most played (and often considered contentious) rivalry is with the University of Southern California.

The idea of a Midwestern school playing a West Coast school in the 1920s was pretty far-fetched. No one had done it before, and it would require hours of travel by one or both teams and it would cost a lot of money. In 1923, Notre Dame Alumni living on the West Coast urged Coach Rockne to bring the Fighting Irish to Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum to play the USC Trojans. Rockne was not opposed to this idea; on the other hand, the faculty at the University was because they did not want to lose money for their own programs (Sperber 139).

In 1926, football history was made. Notre Dame was finally granted permission to travel to the West Coast to play would-be future rival USC. Notre Dame won the first game played in Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with a score of 13-12. It was also the most profitable game to that date for Notre Dame bringing in $75,619. This would lead the University to have the Irish play the Trojans the next year and every year for 80 years after that, only with the exception of 1943, 1944, and 1945 due to World War II (Sperber 221-222).

After such a productive and too-short career at Notre Dame, tragedy struck on March 31, 1931. While Rockne was on a on a promotion tour, his flight from Kansas City to Los Angeles crashed in Bazaar, Kansas. Thousands of calls were made to the University and Chicago newspapers trying to confirm his death. The news was shocking. His funeral was held in South Bend, to which thousands attended—a testament to the great number of lives Rockne touched (Cavanaugh 239-241).

From building a nearly nonexistent football program to one of the greatest in the United States to inspiring fans, athletes, and coaches, Knute Rockne definitely carved his name in gridiron history with an iron pen. His innovations, construction campaigns, and addition to tradition were just leaves on the tree of his contribution to football. Even though neither Rockne nor his players or associates are still with us, the program he raised from the ground up lives on with the game it plays.

Works Cited
Brondfield, Jerry. Rockne: The Coach, The Man, the Legend. First ed. New York: Random House, 1976. Print.
Cavanaugh C.S.C., John, and Knute K. Rockne. The Autobiography of Knute K. Rockne. First ed. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Company, 1931. Print.
Chelland, Patrick. One For the Gipper: George Gipp, Knute Rockne, and Notre Dame. Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1973. Print.
Gustainis, Justin. "Rockne, Knute (1888-1931)." St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture. Ed. Sara Pendergast and Tom Pendergast. Vol. 4. Detroit: St. James Press, 2000. 243-
Krause, Moose, and Stephen Singular. Notre Dame’s Greatest Coaches. New York: Pocket Books, 1993. Print.
Sperber, Murray. Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football. First ed. New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1993. Print.


**Note: I do personally recommend "Shake Down the Thunder: The Creation of Notre Dame Football" by Murray Sperber. It was a very interesting book. It's worth the purchase.

3.18.2011

Why Not?

There are songs about them, movies that revolve around them, lives that are changed by them, and everyone has them. Without them, there's no drive or determination. With them comes desire and passion. These are dreams.

When I hear the word dream, two definitions come to mind.
1) The mental pictures we get when we're asleep
2) Ambitions, goals, desires, passions, and aspirations we have for the future

Both are good kinds, but dreams are most powerful in their second form. These dreams have power that is surpassed by few other things: they make us worry; they make us cry; they infuse hope in us; they influence any decisions we may make; they can send us around the world or keep us close to home; failing them can kill us; and succeeding in them can be the most wonderful feeling in the world.

Our dreams come in many variations, and we get them as soon as we can think and understand for ourselves. Having been one myself, I know that every little girl goes through phases of what she dreams to be when she grows up: A princess, a veterinarian, a cowgirl, a doctor, a nurse, a lawyer, a model, a singer, an actress, a teacher, a housewife, a career woman....the list goes on and on. The dreams are born, they die, and new ones replace them...but some never die. I can't personally say I've had a dream that I've been zealous about back past times before I can remember. Granted, I've always had a little part of me that wanted to sing and play guitar at the Grand Ole Opry and possibly sing the National Anthem at a major sporting event, but it's not a dream I've wanted to chase down to its death. My dreams are constantly changing, and right now, I'm set on the fact that I don't know what my dreams are and I'm waiting to figure them out.

Less than a year ago and for 10 years before that, I had a dream. It came true, too. It's quite a story to tell, so I'll keep this brief. When I was 6, I was diagnosed with Trichotillomania (TTM). In a nutshell, TTM is an obsessive-compulsive disorder that had me pulling my eyelashes out for 10 years, and, for a period, the hair on my head as well. For 10 years, I wondered what it was like to have eyelashes. It seems ridiculous because everyone else had them and didn't give them a second thought at all. As I got older, I started wondering if my lack of eyelashes would prevent me from ever being told I was pretty. If and when I got married and had kids, what would I tell my little girl when she asked why mommy didn't have eyelashes? It killed me to wonder these things and have no answers for them, so I made myself quit. August 31, 2010 was the day I put my foot down. I have lashes now and putting mascara on every day is a tiny gift to myself that says, "It took 10 years, but you did it. Your dream came true."

I believe that our dreams, and only our dreams, are what change the world, but we have to be willing to follow through on them for any impact. Another example using yours truly:

As I'm sure most of you know, I want to go to Notre Dame quite badly. I am pushing myself to the edge to be able to go there, too. I get a B on a test and when everyone tells me that I did a good job, I tell myself that I should have and could have gotten an A. I've gotten little sleep recently and I've even forgotten to eat on many occasions due to my grave in homework--all this just to go to the school I want.

But, like I said, my dreams change all the time. Yes, I do still want to go to Notre Dame, but over the past few years, I've been pushed by family and friends to look into the University of San Diego....so I finally did. It's a good school and I can definitely (note: not "definatly") see myself going there. Nothing is set in stone and I have a year to figure out what I'm going to do, but my announcement that I was even thinking about another school beside Notre Dame shocked quite a few people who have been pushing me toward my goals. It even shocked me.

Do I have a point to this post? I'm not sure. I suppose that if I do, it would be to keep dreaming and to chase your dreams. It's clich├ęd, but it's true. Everyone we look up to once started out with a dream. They each chased their dreams until they got where they are today. Chasing your dream will get you a lot closer to making it reality than just sitting around thinking about it. Is it risky? Sometimes. Are your dreams worth the effort to chase? Only if you believe they are. If they ask you why, just answer with, "why not?".

3.15.2011

No More Complaining

I love to rant, and ranting, in its own way, is complaining. I know I shouldn't complain because it's selfish and rude, but it's a human tendency I have. But I realized something...

You've heard about the goings-on in Japan, I'm sure. (If you haven't, you need to go look it up because it isn't something you should be oblivious about.) After hearing reports about the earthquake and tsunami, I thought to myself, "I can't even imagine what that is like. I live in Kansas. True, a tornado could blow away all I have right now, but to have your world rocked, torn down, and then, on top of all that, washed away? That's inconceivable."

This is when I realized that complaining is a privilege. Let me reiterate: COMPLAINING IS A PRIVILEGE! It is not a right, and the only people who hold that privilege are those in harm's way. It is not limited to those in Japan and the other areas hard-hit in the Pacific. It also includes third-world countries, poverty-stricken areas, families who are struggling with income because of the economy, victims of aggression, citizens of Libya, Egypt, and other countries being run in a way that is not in the best interests of the citizens....anyone who is less fortunate than I has the privilege to complain, and I have none.

I do, however, obtain the right to pray. I do not believe that it is merely a right, either. It is my duty to pray for those who need prayers. And here's what gets me--despite their hardships, the people in Japan are helping others. They aren't putting themselves first. I saw on Good Morning America Diane Sawyer being offered part of a meal from a man whose house had been completely destroyed. I had to ask, "How could he do that? How could he be so hungry and devastated and still offer up some of his meal to an American reporter? That is love and grace. That is selflessness and compassion."

I try to tell myself, "Someone has it worse and God will work everything out. Sure, life sucks now, but it's going to get better. Offer this up for the person who has to wait longer for things to get better." If I can do that, I know I'll end up much happier. I may not be able to go to Japan and help with clean-up and recovery, but I can still help make a change. Prayer is powerful. I believe that strongly. It's also the season of Lent right now. I'm keeping in mind that not everyone reading this is necessarily Catholic or even Christian, but that doesn't mean you can't pray. There's nothing to lose in prayer, so there's no reason not to try. Lent is a season of sacrifice--of offering "it" up for God and for those who have greater needs than we. You can still offer it up even if you aren't religious, and if that's the case, you can think of it as a simple act of humanitarianism from home.

My goal is to stop complaining. I challenge you to stop complaining, too. Every time you start to whine about how awful your life is, think about who has it worse and offer it up. I can't force you to do this with me, but I ask you to try. Are you up for the challenge?

2.23.2011

Gone With the Wind

Another English project that can double as a post....joy! This month, instead of a book report, we had to write a film review. We were required to write about 3 things we liked and 3 things we disliked about the film. Finding 3 things I like was simple. Finding 3 I didn't was more of a challenge. You'll easily come to find that this is my favorite movie. Also (CAUTION: Pun ahead!), if you didn't like the movie, frankly, my reader, I don't give a damn. You should keep reading this and reconsider it. If you haven't seen it, you better go watch it. So, without further adieu....

Scarlett O’Hara’s universality was the first thing that grabbed my attention about Gone With the Wind. Roger Ebert says, “Scarlett O’Hara is not a creature of the 1860s but of the 1930s: a free-spirited, willful modern woman. The way was prepared for her by the flappers of Fitzgerald’s jazz age, by the bold movie actresses of the period, and by the economic reality of the Depression, which for the first time put lots of women to work outside their homes.” Scarlett’s drive and attitude are timeless and placeless. She could be the woman in London or Tokyo. She could be the woman from 1531 or 2010. Her struggles are real and were felt before her and are still felt today—she is universal. I admired her for that reason.

While I admired Scarlett for her gumption and universality, I was also relieved to see justice played out. Some may call it karma. I like to say she got every bit of nothingness she deserved. Roger Ebert, again, says, “Of course, she could not quite be allowed to get away with marrying three times, coveting sweet Melanie’s husband Ashley, shooting a plundering Yankee, and banning her third husband from the marital bed in order to protect her petite waistline from the toll of childbearing. It fascinated audiences (it fascinates us still) to see her high-wire defiance in a male chauvinist world, but eventually such behavior had to be punished, and that is what ‘Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn’ is all about.” Before the war, Scarlett schemed to get the man of her dreams to marry her. After that failed, she schemed to steal him from his wife (and her sister-in-law). After the war, when she vowed she would never be hungry again, (even if she had to “lie, steal, cheat, or kill,” every word of which she meant) she did everything in her power, no matter how scandalous, to have money. Because she stole, lied, cheated, and schemed, the fact that she ended up with nothing at the end made me happy in a way because it really gave a “what goes around comes around” feel.

Frank S. Nugent, a writer for the New York Times, said of the casting, “...casting [was done] so brilliantly one would have to know the history of the production not to suspect that Miss Mitchell had written her story just to provide a vehicle of the stars already assembled there....If there are faults, they do not extend to the cast.” Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett O’Hara, Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler, Olivia de Havilland’s Melanie Hamilton, Leslie Howard’s Ashely Wilkes, and Hattie McDaniel’s Mammy were, in my opinion, utterly flawless. I recall the first time I saw this movie a few years ago, and instantly fell in love with Vivien Leigh and Clark Gable. Their performances led to my viewing of It Happened One Night starring Gable and Anna Karenina starring Leigh. The acting in a movie, to me, is the most important aspect. The movie won’t sell without good acting, but this movie did not have that problem.

While the movie is captivating throughout the duration, I frequently caught myself looking at the clock, wondering, “When is this going to be over?” The running time (just minutes short of four hours) was quite lengthy. James Berardinelli states, “Gone With the Wind is a very good movie, perhaps bordering on being great, but its subject matter and running time (which is easily 60 minutes too long) argue against its status as a masterpiece.” While I agree with Berardinelli, I also disagree with him. Because the movie is divided into two complete parts, separated by the Intermission and Entr’acte, I felt as if I was watching one movie and its sequel rather than one continuous film.

A second thing that bothered me about the film was its lack of deeper meaning. Its philosophies of “what goes around comes around” and “there’s no place like home” (while not thought in those words when the film was made, seeing as those words belonged to the script of another 1939 film, The Wizard of Oz) were not subtle. They were bluntly shown and wrapped up at the end with the lines, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” and “Tara! Home. I'll go home. And I'll think of some way to get him back. After all...tomorrow is another day.” Frank Nugent stated, “By that we would imply you will leave it, not with the feeling you have undergone a profound emotional experience, but with the warm and grateful remembrance of an interesting story beautifully told. Is it the greatest motion picture ever made? Probably not, although it is the greatest motion mural we have seen and the most ambitious film-making venture in Hollywood’s spectacular history.”

The final thing that mildly bothered me about the film was a piece of the plot—in fact, it’s the drive behind the majority of Scarlett’s actions: her infatuation, or even obsession, of Ashley. What did she see in him? Personally, I didn’t find him very attractive. He was, as Nugent states, “a pallid character.” I would have taken Rhett over Ashley any day taking into account just how boring Ashley was, no matter how kind-hearted or honorable. Conceited of me? I wouldn't doubt it. Berardinelli writes, “When Scarlett confesses her love to Ashley, he admits his feelings for her, but notes that Melanie will make a much better wife.” Does this mean he is ignoring his love for Scarlett but is going to marry another despite? Does this mean he’s telling Scarlett, “I love you, but I won’t marry you.”? That won’t make it easier for Scarlett to get over him, which is precisely why she schemes, sabotages, and tries to seduce in order to receive Ashley’s affections, and that drove me crazy.

Would I recommend this movie to further viewers? Of course I would! The things I loved about the movie far outweighed the things that annoyed me. While it had a somber ending, the movie was phenomenally told, the characters were charming, and the plot was enthralling. Do I believe this movie belongs on AFI’s “100 Years...100 Movies” list? Again, yes, I do. I know for a fact that many people are dissuaded to view the film because of its length; however, I think the film--the story--is so legendary, that it is a film that needs to be seen. If I were to give it a rating in stars, I would give it five out of five; in thumbs, two straight up; in a percentage, 100. Gone With the Wind easily ranks among my top five favorite films—if not the number one.

Review Citations:
Berardinelli, James. "Gone With the Wind." Top All-Time 100. N.p., 1998. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
Ebert, Roger. "Gone With the Wind." Roger Ebert. Chicago Sun Times, 21 June 1998. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.
Nugent, Frank S. "The Screen in Review: David Selznick's 'Gone With the Wind'." The New York Times 20 Dec. 1939. Web. 21 Feb. 2011.