Friday, April 30, 2010

"What Part of 'Top 3 THURSDAY' Didn't You Understand?!?!"

That title is a direct quote from someone...I know, I know: it's no longer Thursday, it's no longer even Friday, and this is the "Top 3 Thursday" topic, but sugarrayleonard I've been busy!! It's "Dead Week" at school, I've been trying to catch up on the infinitesimal amount of sleep that I've gotten this week, and, most importantly: my bestie from high school got in to town on Thursday!! Needless to say (though apparently I do need to say it), I've had other stuff going on! But without further ado, let's get right down to the nitty gritty: my top 3 things on my Bucket List.

#1. I want to live on my own. I had roommates in college. I have lived at home, as an adult. I have moved out of my house permanently, and thus am out on my own...with a roommate. But I want to live ON MY OWN. No roommates, no parents, no kids-just ME. I love coming home and having Alex to talk to if I want, but I want to know what it is like to live 100% by myself. Can I do it? Will I like it? Probably not for a long time, a year would probably be sufficient, but it is definitely something I want to do. Not sure why...but it's up there on the Bucket List.

#2. I want to have a child. I LOVED spending two whole days with my niece Elizabeth over Christmas. It was so much fun drawing with her, and playing blocks with her, and watching her play "Jingle Bells" with my keys, and watching her pick out her lunch, and watching her feed herself chicken nuggets, and just watching her be her own person in general. Alex and I were recently at Jason's Deli for lunch, where we saw two VERY cute twins, and she said something like, "I want to have a baby! Actually, I want to have a baby to play with for awhile and then give it back." I quickly reminded her that they have a name for something like that: babysitting. And babysitting is fun. And when Elizabeth was first born and she cried a lot, it was great to be able to hand her back to Kim. But at some point, I want to have a child of my own.

#3. I want to do the "Tour de Majors". I just made that up. And so what is the "Tour de Majors" you might ask?? It would be this: Preferably in one year (although that particular part of this Bucket List item is not necessary), I would like to travel to and watch all four of the tennis majors: the Australian Open, the French Open (this one is my least favorite), Wimbledon (seats on Centre Court?! YES PLEASE!!), and the US Open (if Andy Roddick wins another major here, and I am at that US Open, that would just be icing on the cake-I was SO MAD that I missed watching him win his only major...stupid racquetball tournament in Rosarito Beach). I love tennis, and I think it would be infinitely more exciting to be there for the actual tournament, and honestly if you're going to travel to some sort of event, why not make it the creme de la creme?! If I could meet Andre Agassi at some point during this tour, that would be fantastic, too!!

Honorable Mention: To cook with Rachael Ray and/or Paula Deen. Does this one really need an explanation? I don't think so!


Sunday, April 25, 2010


It's that time again-the end of the racquetball season. Only two tournaments left for me this season, and I'm not sure they could be bigger/more important. Approximately 10 days from now I will be heading to New Orleans for the WPRO Pro World Championships, and then I will be off to Houston about 2.5 weeks later for the National Singles Championships, where a good showing could garner me a trip to Korea for the World Championships...!! An update on the season so far:

The first half of the season was pretty up and down-no outstanding results, no super disappointing results, just showing up and playing, collecting my check and going home. That all changed on February 1, 2010. I decided, after a tournament in Cincinnati, to perform an experiment. I have never been very good at really preparing for tournaments when it comes to making a training schedule and then sticking to it, but I wanted to see what would happen if I actually made out a schedule and stuck to it for a month. I started on 2/1/10 because it was the first of the month, it was a Monday, and the next tournament was about 6 weeks away-plenty of time to work toward the tournament. Anyway, I stuck to the training schedule, bought myself a present for doing so, had a great draw to make some noise...and tanked it. I played HORRIBLY at the next tournament and wasted what I considered a golden opportunity. Very disappointed, I just went back home and worked even harder, which is where York, PA comes in.

Two weeks ago, I went to York, PA for a WPRO stop, and made it to my first semi-final in over 6 years-WOOHOO!!! Let me break it down for you: Friday night, in the round of 16, I played Maiko Sato, a very talented player from Japan. Maiko is a quiet lady, with a very good touch game (which generally frustrates me, since I like to hit the crap out of the ball). I had only played Maiko once before, and she took me to four games before I could win the match. Instead of worrying about wasting another opportunity, I went in to that match extremely focused and ended up winning 11-6, 11-1, 11-1. I call that "playing with the fear"-the fear that you will waste something that you have worked so hard for. I was VERY pleased with that result, as I played extremely well. Next up was Jo Shattuck, another very talented player from Denver, who hits that ball a bit harder but just gets to every single ball, which puts a lot of pressure on her opponents to put the ball away (and we usually end up making TONS of mistakes because of it). I came out absolutely CON FUEGO and won the first game 11-0. If you didn't know, that is virtually unheard of at this level-I was playing that well. Jo stormed back and took the next two games 11-6, 11-2...she started playing unbelievably well and there wasn't a whole lot I could do to stop her momentum. I went in to the fourth game furious that I had put in so much work (again) and was about to squander another opportunity to get to the semis (AGAIN!), and won the fourth game 11-1. We headed in to the fifth and final game, where Jo took a 5-0 lead. I decided that I had had enough of that, and went on to win the fifth game (and the match) at 11-6; again, "playing with the fear"-it's not always a bad thing! Later that night, I took on Paola Longoria from Mexico, the #1 player in the world right now. She certainly showed me why she is the best in the world and won in three games, 11-3, 11-9, 11-5. There was no way that I could be disappointed in that result, as I had played so well all weekend and had finally made it back to the semis.

Now, a recap of this weekend's tournament in Stockton, CA. Friday night I played Aubrey O' Brien in the round of 16-another super talented player from California, and she's only 18! Gah, I feel old just thinking about it. Anyway, Aubrey took the first two games at 4 and 0...I was completely floored and had no idea what to do to try and get back in to the match. She went up 5-0 in the third game before something clicked and I decided to try something new. Zach Morris timeout: I LOVE tennis, and Andre Agassi is one of my favorite players ever, and I remembered him saying this a few years ago at the U.S. Open: "Find a way to win, even when nothing is working." (or something like that)...time back in. That thought just popped in to my head, and I decided to just focus on what I was good and what worked within my game-that includes drive serving. It worked, I was able to keep Aubrey off-balance, and I came back to win the next two games to send the match into a tiebreaker. The fifth game was absolutely back and forth, with neither of us leading by more than a few points, until I was able to pull out the win with a score of 11-8 in the fifth game. The positives about that match with Aubrey: 1. At the end of the match, I did not feel tired or winded at all. This is a HUGE improvement for me, as conditioning has never been one of my strong suits. 2. I have never been considered a very mentally tough player, and yet I was able to come back, stay focused, and win a match that, according to the first half, I clearly should have lost. This. Is. HUGE. Score one for me! Quarterfinals had me matched up against Samantha Salas, another tough player from Mexico, and probably my own personal demon. For reasons that I am well aware of (and won't say publicly), I have had a huge mental block against her and usually have to spend atleast a game getting over that block...but let me tell you, this problem is no more!! In yet another mental toughness leap (two in one weekend-how amazing!), I figured out how to focus solely on the ball and not at all on who I am playing. Now, one time does not a habit make, but it is a huge step in the right direction. Overall, a fantastic weekend for me as I am heading into the end of the season playing very, very well, and feeling like I'm in great shape.

According to the unofficial rankings (that I figured out in my head, so I could be wrong), I will be #5 on the WPRO tour before New Orleans, and could finish the season at #4, although that would take a near miracle. Then it's on to Houston Memorial Day weekend to try and earn a spot on the US National Team again, and a trip to Korea for the World Championships (how awesome would that be as a 25th birthday present?!). There is so much going on between now and then (mostly the end of the school year and all the stress that comes with final projects and final tests) that it stresses me out just thinking about how much I have to do, but that's one of the things that I love most about racquetball: the ability to step on the court and leave everything else outside-the only thing that matters at that exact moment is the ball and what you do with it. So until New Orleans (and the next Top 3 Thursday), I say ADIEU!! And keep 'em rolling.


Thursday, April 22, 2010

It’s that time again-TOP 3 THURSDAY!! This week: pet peeves. This is where all of my little quirks are going to come out, in no particular order, so please continue to be my friend after this if we are already friends, and if we aren’t…don’t judge my too harshly!

1. ALPHABETICAL ORDER. I absolutely hate it when my things are out of order. All of my CDs and movies HAVE to be in alphabetical order…and I can’t emphasize the “have to” part enough; I’m not kidding, even a little bit. My movies are all in alphabetical order by movie name, and then if there are a bunch of movies in a series, such as my Harry Potter movies and my Twilight movies, they are in order of the series within their alphabetical place (“Twilight” and “New Moon” are together because they are part of a series). I also can’t stand it when one of my movies is missing from my collection for a long time; I lent a friend my copy of “The Hangover” in January, and just got it back this past Saturday night…that’s a space of 3 months…it’s designated space between “Grease” and “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” mocked me with it’s absence every time I looked at my DVD collection. Also, my CDs are all in alphabetical order by performer or group, and the mixed CDs that I still have from when that was the cool thing to do are grouped by the type of music on the CD, THEN alphabetically. My books are also in alphabetical order by author, and in order of release (i.e. the Dan Brown books, although the three books featuring Robert Langdon are in order of their “series”) or the series order (again, the Harry Potter or Twilight books) within the author classification. But you might wonder: what about individual books that have common subjects, but do not share the same author and aren’t in a series? Those books are simply grouped by subject. For instance, the tennis books that I have ( Breaking Back by James Blake, Open by Andre Agassi, and Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played are all together on my bookshelf. This system might seem a little excessive, but I know exactly where my CDs/books/movies are at all times, and whether or not something is missing. Do you??

2. PEOPLE READING OVER MY SHOULDER. I HATE it when people do this. And this mostly applies to random people who come up behind me to read over my shoulder, not when I’m pointing something out to someone else. Please don’t do this-end of story.

3. SPORTS TEAM FANS. This is a bit of a soapbox pet peeve of mine. I am all for people being fans of sports teams…it’s entirely healthy to believe in something bigger than you, that you have absolutely no control over. I do NOT believe, however, that it is okay for you to take that loyalty too far. Let’s take, for instance, Crimson Tide fans. I did my undergraduate work at The University of Alabama, and became a Tide fan because I went to school there. I grew up in Ohio, where you were either a Michigan fan or a fan of THE Ohio State (the ALL CAPS is to indicate sarcasm, FYI), and let’s face it: in Centerville, where I grew up, you cheered for the Buckeyes…I was not really a fan of either-though I was very excited for OSU to win the National Championship against Miami in 2003. Anyway, my point is: I am a Crimson Tide fan, and I prefer that the Buckeyes win, but I do not heckle Tennessee fans, or Florida fans, or Michigan fans, etc. And it’s equally as ridiculous for those fans to heckle me-nothing wrong with friendly trash-talking, but there’s no reason for heckling, or thinking I’m stupid because I cheer for those teams. But the thing that annoys me even more than that: fans thinking that they have anything at all do with their team’s success. I have nothing against traditions or superstitions-as an athlete, I have a list a mile long that I adhere to when I’m competing that would probably make you think I was crazy, but here’s the difference: I am actually the one competing when these superstitions are put in to play. Example: I have outfits that I wear in a certain order at tournaments, and it generally stays the same until something goes wrong and the outfit has to be demoted to the bottom of the pile. The fact that you as a football fan have to wear the same shirt or hat or eat the same foods every game day so that your team will win is ridiculous-you have NOTHING at all to do with how the team performs on the field. As an athlete, it’s slightly less ridiculous-does wearing my outfits in the same order have any real effect on my play? Not at all, but I THINK that it does, which affects my mental state, which affects my level of play…are you getting the point? The difference between my superstitions as an athlete and yours as a fan are on a different level-you have absolutely no influence on the outcome of a game, while my mental processes have a huge influence on the outcome of my match. So continue to cheer on your team, but please do not think that if for some reason you can’t wear your lucky shirt, your team is going to lose.

HONORABLE MENTION: People (this applies to both guys and girls) thinking that girls can’t do certain things simply because they are girls. I don’t want to get into a huge political debate, but here’s my opinion on the subject: I (as a girl) may not, in fact, be able to do certain things that guys can do, but DO NOT tell me that I can’t-let me try it and see whether or not I can. If I can’t, I will be the first person to admit it. But if I can, then you just look ridiculous for telling me that I can’t. I feel the same way Demi Moore did in “G.I. Jane”-don’t give me the steps to get over the wall until I prove to you that I need them.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Top 3 Thursday...Let's EAT!

It's that time again...TOP 3 THURSDAY!! This week: Top 3 Restaurants. gonna be phe-nomenal.
I have traveled a BUNCH of places, so I eat out a lot. And by no means is this list exhaustive-I love to eat, and there are so many fantastic restaurants that didn't quite make the cut (let's be honest, I only get to pick 3, which means that lots of fantastic restaurants get left out. Sorry!)
So, in order, and again countdown-style, I present to you my 3 favorite restaurants.
#3: The Striphouse in Houston, TX. Good grief, this place is delicious...probably the best steak I have ever had. Rest assured, this place is not for the faint of heart (or skinny of wallet, for that matter). The only time I have ever been there was to celebrate a friend's birthday. The decor was fitting but not overdone (it's called the Striphouse for a reason...that does not have to do with food...get your dirty mind out of the gutter, everyone was clothed! The pictures on the wall are the reason for it, but they are not-quite-naked pictures; still, I would not recommend it as a place for the children). Anyway, back to what we are evaluating, the FOOD! Yum-o, as Raechel Ray would say. The steak was perfect, the sides are a la carte (I had the creamed spinach and garlic mashed potatoes), and the 7-layer chocolate cake for dessert is a must. Thank goodness I was not paying...the check ended up being over $1000-granted, there were about 15 of us, but still! Delicious though.
#2: City Cafe, in Tuscaloosa, AL. Putting City Cafe as my #2 choice is going to be very surprising to some people...and no doubt, it was a very difficult decision. I am the English Pea Salad girl...but let me start at the beginning. City Cafe is what I believe the Southerners call a "meat-and-three" place, and it. is. awesome. You pick your meat, and however many veggies you want (pick three, and you get a fourth one for free). DO NOT get anything except what's on the list in the middle of the menu...people will make fun of you, and plus you'd be doing it wrong anyway; I learned that the hard way, but rest assured that I got it together the next time I went back! Anyway, I only go on Fridays, and this is what I get: catfish, mac and cheese, fried okra, and literally as much English pea salad as those super nice ladies can squish onto my plate. Seriously-pile it on there, the more the better. This is why I am the English pea salad girl-I went back for the first time in about a year after I graduated from UA, and the ladies STILL knew me as the English pea salad girl. I haven't been able to get over to City Cafe since I got back to UA this past August, but I have no doubt that they would know that I want a heaping helping of English pea salad. How I long for City Cafe day, followed by a leisurely swim (or sink, depending on how much food we ate) in the Black Warrior River with some of my favorite people on the planet.
#1: DOMINIC'S. Sadly, this fantastic Italian restaurant smack in the middle of downtown Dayton, OH is no longer open...but it is without a doubt my favorite restaurant EVAA! There's talk that the restaurant will be reopened in another location, but I am not counting on it...despite that sadness, Dominic's will ALWAYS be my favorite restaurant of all time. I always chose Dominics as the place for my celebratory birthday dinner (or anything I was celebrating, for that matter), and I always got the same thing: spicy Italian sausage fettucine, which came with a salad and Italian wedding soup. Also, the bread bowl was ENDLESS (!!) and featured rye bread with salt...SOOOO GOOD!! But what, may you ask, is Dominic's known for? I would answer: the house dressing, which is literally like chewing garlic cloves or drinking straight garlic juice....that's how garlic-y it is. My parents always got the house salad with the house dressing, and they would have a competition to see who could smell more like garlic by the end of the meal. I took Nathan there for dinner when he came home with me for a bit one summer and warned him that there would be no kisses for him if he got the house salad...he got it anyway, just to try it, and dang if I kept my word-there was no kissing! Seriously, it was so strong that I had to roll the windows down in my car as we were driving around and I was showing him around Centerville. His clothes reeked of garlic the next day. But Dominic's was delicious, and I hope it does reopen...I have a few birthdays to make up for!
SO that's it, my three favorite restaurants of all time. There are so many others that I have been to, and one in particular that I'm excited to try when I go to New Orleans in a few weeks. If you have any recommendations for good restaurants, feel free to send them my way-chances are, I will be in the neighborhood at some point in my travels!

Thursday, April 8, 2010


So last weekend was my first-ever experience with a surprise party. It was incredibly difficult to keep it a secret-there were a bunch of times that I almost spilled the beans/gave away the fact that there was a party. But alas, victory! I did not ruin the surprise. It was without a doubt one of the most exciting things that I may have ever been a part of! And no that doesn't make me a sad and pathetic human being-allow me to explain.

I think birthdays are the SHIIZ. As in, I believe that a person's birthday should be all about that person...birthdays are my favorite. My birthday is my favorite holiday, then Christmas. Bottom line: I LOVE BIRTHDAYS.

Anyway, the surprise party was for Nathan. It had been in the works since about the end of February, party scheduled for April 2...a lot of planning went in to this party! Three of Nathan's good friends in Memphis put it on for him-I was in charge of wrangling all of the Alabama people together and getting them up there for the party...I failed miserably. I was the only one able to be there. In my defense, it was scheduled for Easter weekend, and everyone had plans to go home for is very difficult for me to get to Ohio from Alabama and back in three days, so I was the UA rep for the party. ANYWAY...

The party was amazing. Nate had no idea that it was actually a party for him, and the look of utter surprise on his face when he walked in the door was priceless. He really had a great time, as he should!! So Happy Birthday to Nate-Happy Birthday last week for your surprise party, and HAPPY BIRTHDAY next week for when your birthday actually is! You deserve it.

Princess Consuela Banana Hammock

Not quite phobias, but scary nonetheless...

Have been HELLA crazed this week, getting ready for GradFest '10, getting all the schoolwork done (hey teachers, I have more classes than just yours!! FYI...), getting ready for my tournament in PA, and recovering from last weekend in Memphis. So I will discuss my weekly Top 3 Thursday topic, then discuss the awesomeness that was last weekend. They're kind of random, on, good readers!


1. My Dad not making it to my wedding day. I am not ready to get's not even close to being on my radar right now. But my Dad is getting up there in his years, and he's already had a heart scares the absolute fudge out of me that he won't be there for my special day. Both of my sisters are married, and he was there for each of their days-I want him to be there for mine, too. My Dad and I are pretty close, and I absolutely cannot imagine him not being there. This fear is making me sad, so-NEXT!

2. Big dogs. As much as I am against little teacup dogs and how they fit oh-so-snugly into an oversize bag, I would pick a teeny tiny dog over a big dog any day. I got bitten on the forehead by a big dog when I was younger, which I think is where it comes from...I was just trying to give it a hug, but NO! That dog would have none of it. And I'm sure it was just a normal-size dog that seemed huge because I was a little girl, but that doesn't matter-no big dogs in my house.

Last but not least...3. I won't be able to have kids. Just like with marriage, kids are NOT on my radar. It is my secret dream to be one of those crazy busy moms who carts her kids around to school, leads the carpool, cuts the orange slices for the soccer/football/softball/WHATEVER team, and has the coolest SUV on the block that all the kids want to ride in (it absolutely will not be a mini van-my days of being a mad mom in a mini van are OVA!). Again, this desire comes from my mamacita-I have absolutely no idea how she managed to juggle her work, and school and multiple sports teams for both me and my sister, but it has been such a blessing for me to have a mom like that, and I want to do the same for my kids. Not being able to have kids would absolutely crush me. And how many times does that're going along, having a great life, you meet that right person for you, you're ready to have kids, and BAM! Sorry, you can't have any. Ideally, if that describes your life, things work out and you are able to have a baby anyway, eventually-it happened that way for my sister, and this is what she popped out.

Who has the cutest niece in the world?! I DO!! Anyway, that is the thing I fear the most...not being able to have kids.

So that was pretty vulnerable, and now you all know me a little bit better. Next post: a recap of my surprise Memphis weekend!!


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Can't Have These 3 Things? FEZ!!

Taking the advice of the lurvly Mellie Bassett, and joining the Top 3 Thursday club. This week's topic: The top 3 things I can't live without, countdown-style. I'm choosing to go with the top 3 things I can't live without every day, rather than the top 3 things I can't live without in my entire life ('cause that would just be too hard). Enjoy, and don't judge too harshly!

#3: Diet Coke

I love Diet Coke. No, correction-I LURV Diet Coke. Gave it up for Lent this year, and dang if I wasn't ready to punch someone in the face for an ice-cold D.C. three days in. I gave up all desserts for Lent, too, but that hasn't been quite as difficult. Just like Mellie dreams in baked goods, I dream of Diet Coke...sitting on my balcony and enjoying the lovely Alabama sunshine with a Diet Coke in my hand, drinking Diet Coke for breakfast, Diet Coke when I don't feel well...Diet Coke Diet Coke DIET COKE! Excuse me, got away from myself there...But yes, Diet Coke. Can't wait for Sunday, where I will be enjoying a fantastic dinner of red velvet cheesecake and Diet Coke. Bring it.

#2: My iPod touch

The thing I love about my iPod touch is that it plays music, movies, games, if there's wireless internet available I can surf the Internet if I so's pretty much got it all. It has served my very well in some of my more boring classes and has kept me from getting too restless. I love listening to the "new" music that I've forgotten was even on my iPod that is provided to me by the Genius feature of the new iTunes. The iPod touch keeps me endlessly entertained despite my deceptively short attention span.

And now, drum roll please. The #1 thing I can't live without in my every day life: CHAPSTICK.

Seriously. I need chapstick constantly. I have no less than 5 open chapsticks at all times, just so that I will have one whenever and wherever necessary: in my bag for school, on my night table, in my car, in my racquetball bag, and at my desk. If for some reason I am somewhere without a chapstick handy, my mother always comes prepared and has one ready for me. I love that about my madre, that no matter how old my sister and I get, she will always know what we need (want) and have it ready for us. For me, it's chapstick. She knows what's up, and she gets the job done.

That's it, my contribution to Top 3 Thursday. Don't forget to watch Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution tomorrow (Friday) night at 8 PM on ABC...let's hope some of these crazy people will start getting on board with the project.