February 2009


Party dresses

It’s too early for spring fever, as it’s still more than a month before we’ll see the first crocuses (and more than two months before we’ll see the first wildflowers) here in southwest New Hampshire. But even the Main Street mannequins in downtown Keene sense an unspoken yearning for skin-baring dresses and sexy heels.

Gowns with reflected tree

After months of stomping around in hiking boots, I’m yearning for sandal season and the decadent luxury of bare toes and naked ankles. Hiking boots are a necessary item of clothing here in New Hampshire, especially given how slippery the sidewalks are where they’re still covered with hard-packed snow and ice, and I can’t count the number of times my Yaktrax have saved me from slipping and falling. But I’m getting tired of booting up every time I suit up. Far from fantasizing about tripping the light fantastic, I find myself merely wanting to walk without boots and without slips, stumbles, and sprains. During these frozen, slippery days, simply showing a little ankle seems unspeakably risky, at least for those of us who walk to work, walk the dog, and keep on walk, walk, walking even when the way is wet or icy underfoot.

Miranda's Verandah

I’ve made peace with single-digit temperatures: I have a toasty coat and don’t mind bundling in both hat and scarf. Your fingers will warm up eventually, I’ve found, if you walk briskly, blood pumping its inevitable way into even your coldest extremities. Recent days have been bright, and the snow has only intensified the glare, so I haven’t felt starved for sunshine this winter. But my feet simply want to be released from the captivity of boots, and my ankles ache for the light of day. How long until I dare to go bare?

Mudra with mala

No sooner did I join Facebook than I got tagged by not one but three different folks wanting me to share 25 random things about myself. Given the fact I’ve been blogging for over five years now, it’s remarkably difficult to think of 25 interesting tidbits that I haven’t already shared with the entire online world: you might say my life is an open blog. But here’s my best attempt to scrape 25 more things from the bottom of the not-yet-blogged barrel…

1. I was born in an ambulance. Neither of the EMTs had ever helped with a birth, and mine was the first (and only) time my father was present when any of his four daughters was born.

2. Before my mom gave birth, she’d been unable to reach her obstetrician (those being the days before cell phones or beepers) because he was attending a basketball game at Eastmoor High School in Columbus, Ohio: my eventual alma mater.

3. I’m named “Lorianne” after my Aunt Pat. I’ll leave you to wonder how exactly that works.

Mudras

4. I come from a large Italian family on my dad’s side, and most of my many male cousins were state champion wrestlers in high school. When I was growing up, strangers would regularly ask me if I was related to the wrestlers, and they’d always look impressed (and a little scared) when I said yes.

5. Because I don’t have any brothers, my dad didn’t contribute any champion wrestlers to the DiSabato dynasty. Whenever strangers would ask my mom whether any of her children wrestled, she’d say “Only on dates.”

6. I am a sucker for patriotic songs, both marching band numbers and really cheesy pop songs like Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to Be an American.”

7. I grew up pronouncing “nuclear” the way George W. Bush does. (I also grew up pronouncing “acoustic” as “a-CYOO-stic” and “coupon” as “CYOO-pon.”) I’ve since re-trained myself because of the ridicule some educated people heap on folks who talk how I do.

8. I love to sing Patsy Cline songs at full volume when I’m alone in my car. I also can’t help singing along to Stevie Wonder’s “I Wish” even though I never was a little nappy headed boy.

9. The only musical instrument I can play is the radio (or, these days, iPod).

10. My favorite part of John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever” (see #6) is when the piccolo players stand up for their solo.

Big buddha

11. My Subaru Impreza, Miss Bling, has an elaborate imaginary personality. She’s sassy but doesn’t swear, is a god-fearing member of the United Church of Chrome, and “shouts out” to any other Subaru she sees on the road.

12. For the first few years after my divorce, I kept my wedding dress in a large cardboard box, first under my bed and then in my closet. I finally dumped it in a used clothing donation bin, not knowing what else to do with it.

13. Before I dumped my wedding dress, I tried it on to see if it still fit. It did.

14. When I was a child, I collected model horses. My collection numbered in the hundreds, and each horse had a name and a back-story which I meticulously chronicled in a notebook. After I went away to college, my mom packed and stored the best ones (mostly Breyer collectibles), and I sold them for roughly $700 on eBay to finance the moving van my then-husband and I hired when we moved to Keene. I still regret that I sold part of my childhood for such a mundane reason.

15. Although I don’t like the smell or texture of raw bananas or tomatoes, I don’t mind them cooked (e.g. banana bread or tomato sauce).

A-Okay

16. As a child, I was a hugely finicky eater. I refused to eat anything that “looked like how it was born,” which included anything that has veins (like lettuce). During this period of my life, I lived on Pillsbury food sticks, cinnamon toast, and Jell-O (having no idea what gelatin is “really” made of).

17. One of my college roommates once observed that she could easily identify me when I walked across a pitch-black room because my knees and ankles routinely cracked when I walk. They still do.

18. Despite (or perhaps because of?) #17, my residence hall-mates at one annual dorm-award ceremony voted that I had the “cutest walk.”

19. As an undergraduate, I took voice lessons, thinking they’d help me be a better (and less nervous) public speaker. I don’t know whether those voice lessons had any effect on my lecturing skills, but to this day I can still sing the first few stanzas of “Caro mio ben” from memory.

20. I’ve never had a broken bone, just audibly cracking ones (see #17).

21. I regularly drive the 12-13 hours between New England and Ohio in a single day, with no one other than Reggie to keep me company. (He’s yet to complain about my singing Patsy Cline, Stevie Wonder, or “Caro mio ben” at full volume to stay awake while I drive.)

As above, so below

22. On one trip to Ohio, I drove through a line of tornado-spawning thunderstorms. On another trip, a tractor-trailer truck blew a tire as I passed alongside it. In neither case did I have to sing Patsy Cline, Stevie Wonder, or “Caro mio ben” to stay awake.

23. I had two oral surgeries, two “nose jobs” (neither of them cosmetic), and an appendectomy before the age of 21. I’ve not had any surgeries since.

24. When I was a kid, I was fanatically obsessed with horses (see #14) and wanted to grow up to be an author like Walter Farley or Marguerite Henry. In the five years I’ve been blogging, I’ve written about horses only a couple of times.

25. I’ve spent most of my adult life thinking I hated V8 vegetable juice because it tastes like raw tomatoes (see #15), only to discover recently that I like it. Who knew?

One last random thing: I seem to be incapable of posting anything online without illustrating that post with photos, even if they are entirely unrelated to what I’m writing about.

Try to stop him

On this Super Bowl Sunday, while a huge percentage of Americans (including folks who don’t watch football any other day) will be riveted by today’s NFL match-up between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Arizona Cardinals, I’ll be thinking ahead to another kind of football. After last year’s Super Bowl tragedy, I find myself indifferent to a game that doesn’t feature the New England Patriots. Yes, I’ll watch the Super Bowl to see who wins and to see this year’s batch commercials, and to those of you who are Steelers or Cardinals fans, I can sincerely say “May the best team win.” But ever since the Patriots were eliminated from play-off contention this year, I’ve found my interest in NFL football has gone dormant for another season. Right now, instead of feeling fanatical about the Super Bowl, I’m looking ahead to the “football” offered by Major League Soccer.

Fast and furious

When J gave me tickets to a half-dozen New England Revolution games last Valentine’s Day, neither one of us were soccer fans. We knew only the most boneheaded basics of the game: namely, that you try to kick the ball into the other team’s goal. But everything else was new to us. Over the course of those half-dozen games, we acquired a working knowledge of how soccer works. We figured out, for instance, that the game clock runs up rather than down, a mysterious thing called “stoppage time” takes the place of time-outs, and red and yellow cards serve the same purpose as do penalty flags in football. Although we’d heard folks refer to all of these (and other) aspects of the game, we didn’t really “get” any of them until we sat through a few games, watched what the players were doing, and cheered or booed when the folks around us did.

Matt Reis gets his kicks

J and I learned the rudimentary rules of soccer, in other words, by immersion: we went to games, lived by the philosophy of “when in Rome, cheer like the Romans,” and took care to eavesdrop when fans around us explained the game to their newbie friends. (Thank goodness, for instance, for two separate Irishmen who sat behind us, accompanied by American friends, and provided meticulous play-by-play commentary during several of our first games.) We approached soccer games as an anthropologist might: not as a set of rules to be memorized but as a social phenomenon to be observed. At any given sporting event, there’s the stuff that happens on the playing field and the stuff that happens in the stands, and if you really want to understand a given game, you need to watch both. Soccer (not unlike football, baseball, basketball, or hockey) involves much more than a bunch of players working up a sweat trying to score goals, runs, or baskets. Soccer (not unlike football, baseball, basketball, or hockey) is a social phenomenon–a kind of delicate dance–whereby you declare your allegiance to one set of partners and engage in a friendly fight against those identifying with another. The point of any game is as much that act of allegiance as it is whether your team “wins.”

Fancy footwork

This is why J, who grew up in Pittsburgh, doesn’t necessarily care whether the Steelers win the Super Bowl today. Although he’s not antagonistic towards Pittsburgh teams, he’s lived in Boston for more than a decade and thus roots for New England sports teams now. When in Rome, cheer as the Romans do: when we watched the New England Revolution play the Columbus Crew, for instance, I rooted for New England even though I was born and raised in Columbus. All else being equal, you should dance with who brought you, but if you aren’t with the one you love, love the one you’re with. Cheesy cliches aside, J and enjoyed attending last year’s Revolution games as a way of supporting a local team even if we weren’t exactly experts when it came to the sport they were playing. Regional team allegiance came first, and understanding the subtleties of the sport gradually followed. There is, after all, a certain excitement in figuring out the language and customs of a strange-to-you sport as you go along.

Edging toward the goal

So when our friendly New England Revolution salesperson asked if we wanted to buy a multi-game ticket package for the 2009 season, we said we did…and this week, after learning that this year’s Revolution schedule is stacked with weekend home games, we decided to upgrade our multi-game package to a full set of season tickets. That means J and I will be attending 15 New England Revolution soccer games at Gillette Stadium this summer, along with an additional handful of special events (schedule to-be-determined) over the course of the season. Fifteen-plus soccer games means J and I will have that many more chances to improve our soccer fluency, and it means we’ll see all the spectacles worth blogging about, including the game when David Beckham comes to town. J and I might be soccer newbies, but even we know a superstar when we see one.

Beckham, etc

Apart from that last photo from last August’s game against the LA Galaxy, the other photos illustrating today’s post come from Revolution victories over the Houston Dynamo last March and Toronto FC last June. At this point, I’m itching to see green turf, even if it’s artificial.

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