I’ve been keeping busy since getting back from Charleston. Between logging a few hours of work when I can at the YMCA, working out (note: not “training”, there is a big difference), eating, sleeping, and traveling, I scarcely have the time I need to keep up with all of my correspondence for upcoming events, not to mention keeping my blog and Facebook current… there’s a pretty important post that needs to get published soon involving the numbers 1-20 so…
But here’s what I’ve been up to over the past two weeks.
I took the last weekend in August to fly out to San Diego and spend some time with my two best friends, Marah and Olivia. These two women have been my rocks during my rowing career during and after my time at Washington. We were a notorious and inseperable trio of socialites while still at UW and not much has changed since graduating. We now all live in different corners of the world so getting together for a weekend is becoming more and more of a challenge but also makes it that much more cathartic and precious when we convene. The weekend consisted of oysters, fish tacos, sushi, wine, sand, dancing, shopping and all other things wonderful and perfect for spending time with one’s best girl friends. I am so lucky to have had this too-short weekend with them to celebrate these last four years and kick back for a weekend to talk about love, life and the future. I cannot wait to see what all three have in store for all three of us as we continue our odyssey together, even if we only get to connect as a trio every few years. Thanks to the folks at Herringbone, Stingaree and Fluxx for showing us a great time.
Philadelphia Eagles Game:
I got a text on Wednesday from intrepid teammate Susan Francia inviting me to a Philadelphia Eagles Game. I happily accepted not then realizing that I was going to be honored as a “local Olympian” on the field amongst other athletes who actually were local (truth: I am not from Princeton, NJ). Still, I was happy to represent the Princeton, NJ community that has been my home and headquarters for the past six years and interact with Eagles fans in a busy Lincoln Financial Field on Thursday night. We had a blast hanging out down on the field before the game, occupying a VIP box for the majority of the game, and then making a brief smile-and-wave appearance on the field after the first quarter. All of the Eagles marketing staff took great care of us and made sure we had a truly amazing experience during the game. Afterwards is when things really took off. Readers may or may not be aware of Susan’s genuine and enthusiastic admiration of NY Jets player, Tim Tebow. Serendipitously, the Eagles were playing the Jets on this occasion, which presented an opportunity for Susan to finally meet Tim… and an opportunity for me to make fun of her for being more nervous than I’ve ever seen her (an excited anticipatory tear may have been shed). We did get to meet Tim, who was as sweet and humble as could be, and who took photos, signed the giant Fathead Susan brought with her (“You signed on your forehead!” –”where was I supposed to sign?”), as well as allowing me to pose for a kiss-on-the-cheek photo in honor of the other USRowing Tebow fan: Sarah Zelenka. Thanks Tim. We met a number of other Eagles and Jets players who were all very kind and congratulatory–and we came home with some very legit NFL gear. It was a really fun night. We will come back ANY TIME!!
I took another trip to the great American South for a true “Southern Experience” courtesy of the same group of friends that met up with us in Charleston. This time we were hitting Atlanta hard to take in a college football game on Friday night (Tennessee vs. NC State), and then get a full NASCAR experience with a trip to Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday for the Nationwide Series race and again on Sunday for the NASCAR Sprint Cup race. It was my first NASCAR race, and what a spectacle! The only way you can truly appreciate the drivers’ skill is to be 20 feet from the track wall and feel the power of the cars as they come around a turn at 200mph. I admit I was impressed. Not to mention that I am now the newest biggest fan of NASCAR driver Kasey Kahne…! (call me!) I was really lucky to be a part of the pre-race staging and shake hands with all of the Cup drivers before Sunday’s race (Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson etc.) PLUS got to meet “the KING” Richard Petty! The rest of the weekend was HOT, featured hours of walking around in jeans and cowboy boots, eating fried chicken, whipping through the woods in ATVs, driving big trucks, and listening to country music. I had a blast.
Though this was my first trip to Atlanta, I felt a familiar sense of comfort during my time there. I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin–a long ways from any part of the American South–but the culture of small town America resonates with me wherever I go and find people who are genuine, kind, and live their lives at a pace slower than the tri-state area. A big part of who I am now comes from not forgetting who I am and where I’ve come from–that I spent part of my childhood riding go-karts at top speed through the woods, getting dirty, tearing around on horseback, chasing frogs and snakes through the weeds, having real connections with friends and neighbors, always maintaining great manners, and learning about myself and the world by being out in it. It’s simple. And while I have grown away from many of those things as an adult, they are invariably a part of who I am now and getting in touch with them over the weekend was nostalgic and a lot of fun. Thanks again to Ross and his family, Bradford, and everyone else I spent time with in Atlanta for another unforgettable weekend.
As always, I had more wonderful experiences interacting with Team USA supporters on this trip. Everywhere I go, people are so enthusiastic about the Olympic experience and the success of USRowing at the 2012 Games. It’s incredible to be somewhere and meet someone who says, “I watched your race on TV!” Thank you thank you to all of Team USA for your warmth and support wherever I go. It is so moving.
My schedule is busy as ever for the rest of September, October and November–I will be publishing a list of events and appearances in the next day or so so I can catch up with friends, family and Team USA supporters during my Keeping up with Kalmoe tour this fall. If I’m coming to your area, I hope to see you!
Long Live the Dream,