Could I Have Been An Olympian?

As everyone knows, the Olympics are in full swing. Even though I’m a fan of the games, by next week the Olympic theme song that is played throughout the day will likely drive me mad. Two weeks straight of the same ten second piece of orchestrated music at the start, end and every commercial break in between will cause my ear drums to reach for the remote and hit mute. Maybe it’s because I have the games on while I go about my business each day.

Regardless, I love the sense of pride and the dedication from Olympians. There is always a heart wrenching story or significant feat embodied in the spirit of the games.

I grew up as a fish. My parents could not get me out of our pool to eat and my summer attire consisted only of a bathing suit. I dreamed of being a real swimmer with a swim cap and goggles and eventually joined a swim team where I did fairly well. During the summer of ’92, my bathing suit transitioned into a gymnastics leotard and my poor Great-grandmother suffered the “look at me, I’m a gymnast” phase, cartwheels in her rowhome and all, when I stayed at her house during one week of the Olympics that year. Poor Grandmom. She never dared to crush my dreams either, though quite frankly, I don’t remember her appeasing me and saying I’d make it either.

Toddler Mae fashioning summer attire for the rest of her childhood.

I don’t remember really ever trying very hard to be anything I dreamed of. I was the queen of one season sports or clubs. I’m probably not in the memories of any of my teammates or fellow members because I dashed in and out, never leaving behind anything substantial and never hanging in to form real memories. Until recently, I thought it was me. I thought maybe I’m just a flake and like so many things in life, I just never knew was it was to give my all and keep persevering. But it’s not true. I’ve come to only understand recently that my Mom discouraged me. But before a judging finger is pointed her way, I understand and I do not place blame. My Mom had severe anxiety and taking me to events was very trying on her. I don’t believe she held me back from anything that I carried full potential in, but I guess we won’t know. I don’t think I would have been an Olympic swimmer, but I wonder if I had stuck with something now and then, if I could have had a different mindset in life. Maybe I could have fought harder.

Now that I’m an adult, I can’t base the rest of my life on the fact that I played one season of softball or did one year of Girl Scouts. I am in control of my own fate and if I don’t try or stick with things, it’s my fault. It’s time to learn a new mindset.  And maybe because I’m not an athlete, that doesn’t set the baseline for other things. I’ve stuck with the things that really do matter in life; I’m not a complete failure.

I didn’t even mean for this post to go in this direction. It was supposed to be a lighthearted joke about my Gram who used to say constantly, “If my parents had had money to get me singing lessons, I could have been a famous singer”. Gram had not a lick of a voice or an ear for keys, but it was something she dreamed about as she grew up in a family of fourteen children.  I found myself saying to my husband the other night, “If I had been able to stick with swimming, I could have been an Olympic athlete”. We both knew it was wrong, but we laughed anyway.

If you think about it, it is funny how at the still-young age of 29, it is so easy to see dreams that are too late to happen in the faces of young Olympians. I’d like to think that I’ll encourage my future and non-existent children to follow their dreams young and be able to support them along the way, and without trying to make them accomplish mine.

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Am I What My Parents Expected?

We spent the afternoon celebrating my Dad’s birthday yesterday and while my husband and I grilled dinner and we all enjoyed a few beers, I thought to myself; Is that what my Dad pictured when they brought their little girl home from the hospital?

The Philadelphia Flyers advanced to their second series in the playoffs and as we yelled and threw ourselves out of our chairs with rants aimed at the TV, I couldn’t help but think about his expectations. Did he intend to have a sports-loving daughter, who can yell passionately (and at times like a sailor) at hockey players that will never be listening? Did he think about having weekly hangouts with her at the local brewery, where they’d hang out like pals and try the new nitro on tap?

Probably not.

But I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and this was bound to happen. Having profound love and respect for my parents, as well as my heritage, I think I’ve adapted so many things from my Mom and my Dad. I just think no one expected the outcome to be such a 50/50 split. I go to tea rooms with my Mom and eat finger sandwiches but ended up marrying a man that I’ve taught the fundamentals of sports to. I know it’s trendy and annoying to hear a girl say they are a “guy’s girl” or “one of the boys”. I used to say that. I don’t know what I am now, except that I’m Shannon. I love sports, beer and rock as much as (some times more than) any guys I know. I also love cheesy romance books or movies.

Sometimes being a mix of what society considers being boyish and girlish can be frustrating though. I’ll never look like the girls who look like they stepped out of a salon or a Mac store because I’ll always be a little rough around the edges. 
Continue reading

Hockey and Sweeping; Two Completely Separate Topics

That was close.  Technically I skipped two calendar days of posting, but it is still Thursday night to me, ha ha!  I, as always, have old fashioned excuses that consist of classics like “disheartened Philadelphia Fan Syndrome” and “I helped with yard work so I’m tired” disease.  If you don’t want to hear my sports rant, skip to paragraph three.

Wednesday night was just pathetic, in every sort of way.  From my recent re-blogged post, you know that as a Philadelphia fan, “we” as fans are a part of the team; except when “we” are losing.  It instantly turns to “they” with sailor-like language and rampant anger.  I start to exclaim things that I normally wouldn’t say in the presence of my Dad.  After the loss, “we” returns in the form of continued anger, hostile questioning of play and heartbreak with fellow players, I mean, fans.

The Philadelphia Flyers are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Wednesday night, I mean last night, was Game 4, the mother of all games; when your team is about to sweep anyway.  Now you get my title, the Flyers were up 3-0 in the series and only needed to win this game to take “us” to the next round.  There we were, going to put it to Sidney Crosby (I will omit the name calling I’d like to use) and take the series at home from the Penguins; there we were, losing 10-3.  In hockey.  High scores like this are ridiculous.  This whole series has been back to back amazing shots on goal and poor goal tending.  That night, there was not so much scoring on our end and just terrible goal tending.  If any actual Flyer players read this…venture back to my Pep talk post I did on Tuesday and get out there with some enthusiasm and take this home tomorrow or “we” will be extremely upset.  So after the game, my house was silent and I couldn’t stop shaking my head back in forth in disgust to steadily keep any blogging thoughts in my head.  Terrible.  But tomorrow is a new day and Game 5.

Tonight I helped my husband in the yard. I’m glad to because it’s my house too and I do enjoy helping him.  It also makes eating some ice cream on a beautiful spring evening feel justified.  Continue reading

“Back When I Was A Kid…” The Spectrum Was Happenin’

Mid-demolition of the Spectrum in Philadelphia. Winter 2011

How many times have you heard an “old” person start out a sentence just this way?

Well, back when I was a kid, the Spectrum in Philadelphia was a big concrete stadium that always felt outdated. It remained this way till last year, until a wrecking ball took aim. It was probably outdated for years by the time I got to be old enough to remember it. I was going through yet another folder and found these pictures of a mostly demolished Spectrum in South Philadelphia last winter. My husband and I actually drove down there on a pretty and brisk Saturday to take some shots of a place that holds so many memories, before it was only a pile of dust.

  • My first circus with Grandmom
  • First of many concerts
  • First NBA game
  • First college basketball game
  • Countless other random events

The first time I smelled drugs was at my very first concert here. My Mom took me to see Elton John when I was in 4th grade. He was always her favorite.  I’ll never forget it.  She turned to me and at one point said, “Shannon, do you smell that? That is marijuana. Try not to breathe it in”. Well the story goes that she turned away to sing along and when she looked back I was straining to hold my breath in my big chubby cheeks. She told me I could continue breathing, but being the good girl I was, I was cautious.

I also always loved the corridors to get to my seat there. Each section felt like it had its own little dramatic tunnel that opened up in a world of bright lights and excitement. The nosebleeds were so high and the inclines so steep that it felt slightly dangerous, and the ceiling felt surprisingly close. The walkways were too narrow and during intermissions, it felt like a traffic jam. The concrete columns looked stained and filthy and it never really felt fresh and sparkly like many of the newer arenas today.

The building has equated to a large empty lot by now and in its place will be a big construction site soon. Xfinity Live has been touted as another stadium experience, but with colorful restaurants and events, giving concert and sports fans a reason to stay within walking distance to Citizens Bank Park, Wells Fargo Center and Lincoln Financial Field.  Sure it sounds nice, but being local, we love our underdogs and unsightly appearances; I’ll always have a soft spot for the ratty old Spectrum.

What It’s Like to Be Apart of a Philadelphia Sports Team

Phanatic Fans

Welcome to Philadelphia.  We are truly passionate about our sports and anyone who tells you otherwise has never attended a game here.  If they have, they haven’t attended many games in any other cities, because they’d know the difference.  Philadelphians take losses, bad trades and any negative press Philadelphia teams produce quite personally.  We also put ourselves into the equation when discussing any local sports related topics.

“I can’t believe we won.”

“We had that game; I can’t believe we blew it.  I really thought we had it.”

A big loss doesn’t just stink, it ruins our day.  We have two major sports talk radio stations in town that have competitive ratings on the city’s radio dial, WIP and The Fanatic.  Most of us know the sportscasters by name; their typical skewed sports analysis tendencies and can provide great arguments in the car to and from most anywhere, and regarding any of the city’s major teams.  “We” are a major part of the Philly sports equation.  Press conferences are held to keep us happy and if you don’t give us the answers we want, and we aren’t shy about letting you know it (i.e. Andy Reid 2011).

I can give you the old routine and how we are fans because Santa was creamed with snowballs, but I wasn’t alive to witness that.  I am alive to hear my Dad talk about how he blew out his horn on his 6 month old car when the Flyers first won the Stanley Cup in 1974, amongst streakers and flipped cars.  I lived the Phillies World Series in 1993 and as a kid waited patiently in front of Mitch William’s house before and after the loss for something, anything to give us confidence and later appease the sadness.  In better times, we survived the Phillies riots after the World Series win in 2008 and celebrated in the parade, where Broad Street was filled with passionate fans who seemed so proud, you’d have thought each individual person threw the last pitch instead of Lidge.  Just as important, we joined together as a city in despising Joe Buck for not only hating Philadelphia on a regular basis, but by also sounding so disappointed when “we” won that series.

There are simply too many heart wrenching moments to name when it comes to Philadelphia fan experiences and sometimes not enough proud ones.  Still, we wait on lists for season ticket packages and watch each game, whether we are disheartened by repeat losses, injuries, management decisions or not, because we never turn our backs on family.  I, for one know I spent more hours with Harry Kalas then some people in my family.

Man, I can’t wait for baseball season to start.