Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Busy Musings -- To Be Continued...

Life has been busy. So busy in that I haven't had much ShellyTime, the reflection time I sometimes need, the "hey, self, you still hangin' in there?" type of moments in the evening when I can focus my energy on me.
Hence why my blogs have been few and far between these days.
So much to reflect on.
I joined an indoor soccer league. I'm feeling great about the outdoor soccer league, though it is already sadly coming to an end in a few weeks. For three consecutive mornings, I rowed in a ten-person canoe race on the Rivers of America at the Magic Kingdom before dawn. I went bowling with a group of friends and surprised myself at my high score. Jolyon ventured home to Massachusetts with me to witness one of my long-time friends get married. He met most of my hometown friends and some of my college friends. He blended--dare I say it-- perfectly with my crazy (but awesome) family. 6v6 volleyball is starting up in a few weeks. Lito asked me to coach soccer with him again this fall.
My musings, however, will be exhausted in this public forum on another night, as I am much too exhausted to do anything but curl up in bed with the boy, and probably a howling cat, or two.
Good night for now, my friends.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Summer Soccer

Recently, I fought back that little inner voice that nagged “You’re out of shape! You’re out of practice!” and I joined a summer coed soccer league.

It’s an 8v8 league, which means small fields and even smaller nets. If they allowed goalkeepers (which, to my dismay, they don’t), they would have to be freakishly small individuals, or have amazing flexibility. There is a “goalkeeper” position; however, this player cannot touch the ball with any part of his body in the box, nor can he use his hands. (This is not a goalkeeper, people.)

Our team is The Middle School All-Stars. Why? I haven’t a clue. We’re all 24+. The team has played together before, so I walked onto the team only knowing one other player. I love meeting new people, so I was very excited at the thought of a team environment in my favorite sport.

However, I left after our first game a few weeks ago feeling extremely dejected. I vented the entire 45 minute drive home to Jolyon, who skipped out on his volleyball practice an hour early to drive downtown to watch me play.

Our team was an army of 17 people for an 8v8 game of 20 minute halves (read: very little playing time). There was little to no communication at the start of the game regarding positions and player introductions (and I was not the only newbie). The game felt more like mass chaos than a soccer game, as substitutions occurred sporadically and it seemed like nobody knew what position they were playing.

I vowed to give it one or two more games before I opted out of the team. The fields aren't exactly close to my apartment (with traffic, it takes me a little over an hour to get downtown) and with rising gas prices, it may not be worth it if I'm only going to play ten minutes of the game.

Well, our second game was rained out, though I didn't know about the cancellation until I was ten minutes away from the field. Thanks to the wonders of Florida summer storms, the weather had been sunny on my end of town while a monsoon ripped through downtown Orlando. It was a bit frustrating, but there wasn't anything I could do except turn around and drive home.

Game three was a complete 180 from the first game. Eight people, including myself, showed up for the 6:30 game... which meant we had just enough to play. It was also the first game of the evening, so we were able to chat amongst ourselves and warm up on the field. It was a relief to hear a few of my male teammates vocalize their nervousness about playing shorthanded, since they, too, were "out of shape." We stated what positions we felt comfortable playing, and we rotated in and out of the "goalkeeper" position when we needed a break.

While we lost the game 3-0, I felt a lot better about playing on the team. I was proud of myself since I hadn't played "on the field" in a soccer game since high school; in college intramurals, I was the goalkeeper. Unfortunately, I injured a player on the other team when we both went up to head the ball... I'm not really sure what happened, but I think my jaw/teeth knock her in the eye. I don't remember. The ref didn't blow a whistle, so I kept playing, though I noticed the injured player stepped off the field for awhile and was holding her head after the game.

Tonight I'm venturing to the Orlando Indoor Soccer Center to try to play in an indoor pick-up game. Apparently, they have pick-up games between 630pm and 830pm on Monday and Thursday nights. James' friend, Lydia, approached me about going with her, and I haven't played indoor soccer in a very long time, though I always enjoyed it better than outdoor. I have no expectations other than to have fun.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Thank You For Reading

I have moments when I am suddenly inexplicably sad.

It's a deep, aching sensation that starts in my gut and works its way into a ball in my throat. It's as if I have something to say, but can't find the words... and even if I could verbalize the feeling, I would be incapable of doing so. This sadness blindsides me each time, bubbling up from someplace I rarely visit.

I feel very alone and helpless when this happens. I can't explain it. It's usually at a late hour in which I don't want to disturb anyone, so I suffer in silence until the sensation passes.

So, while I wait for this sadness to disperse, I write to you, my blog-reader, one of the current 885 readers to date. Yes, I know you're out there. And it's comforting to know that someone will read this post approximately 11 minutes after I hit "publish."

Maybe it's my reader from Winter Garden, FL? Or Granby, CT? Or Lake Mary, FL? Valley Forge, PA? Port Orange, FL? Boston, MA? Taunton, MA? Palm Bay, FL? Oviedo, FL? Providence, RI? Raynham Center, MA? Norwich, CT?

I could go on...

Thank you for reading.


Friday, July 4, 2008

Independence Day

Happy birthday, America!

I'm spending this year's Independence Day, and then some, up in the great state of Michigan-- Grand Rapids, to be exact. I flew in Wednesday night, after a not-so-much fun delay in Detroit. I travel a lot, and I'm used to getting delayed here and there. But the pelting rain and thunderstorms that practically crushed our plane on the way down did not make me want to hop on my next flight. My connecting flight was thus delayed by almost two hours, putting me into Grand Rapids at the ungodly hour of 1:25am.

Late flights also mean creepy airports, in that everything is shut down and only the janitors are left wandering the terminals. Toothless janitors who like to smile a lot. I was also aching for a slice of pizza, but had to settle with a Snickers bar and a bottle of raspberry-flavored water, sold to me by an overly zealous woman who clearly needed to meet some sort of magazine sale quota by midnight.

Jack flew in yesterday morning on a 6am flight out of Boston. He had opted to go to a party with some of his buddies after his EMT prep class finished at 10pm, and thus ended up staying out all night and going straight to the airport at 3am. Mom and Rick picked him up and came back to the house to wake me up. We ventured to IHOP, after which Jack crashed on the couch and slept for 36 hours.

My mom has been living up here with my stepdad since 2001, and I try to visit once or twice a year. I particularly love to come during the summer, especially since the Florida summers can almost be a bit much. Today, we spent the afternoon lounging on the beach at Lake Michigan, and then walked around at an arts and crafts fair, where Jack and I indulged in deep fried oreos and twinkies. It was fantastic. While we didn't see any fireworks tonight, we heard many surrounding neighbors shooting them off in backyards.

Throughout the day, I was thinking about my past 4th of July adventures. My first summer as a Florida resident (2005) was spent with my then-roommate, Billie, and her now-husband Jorge. We watched the fireworks in the town of Celebration, enjoying each others' company on a picnic blanket. I remember the day Billie came home, announcing her engagement to Jorge. They had known each other for only a few short months, but they are wonderful for each other.

I recalled a 4th of July camping trip in 2003 that I spent with Luke, his best friend Charlie and his then-girlfriend Tanya, and our mutual friends Richie and Joanna. We were camping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and were almost kicked out of the campsite because apparently the tent limit is two per site... and we had set up three. Yes, we were rebels all right. Our group watched the fireworks at the base of Mt. Washington, before proceeding on a dark, dirt road through the mountains, in which I was sure we were going to drive off the road, into a ditch, and become the next headline in the starved-for-attention small town.

And growing up, we always traveled to the town of Rutland to watch fireworks on the hill overlooking the valley. I remember always scurrying to call up friends to go with me, because it wasn't "cool" to show up with your parents. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and smack myself in the face for thinking like that.

One of my dad's traditions involves shooting off hundreds of dollars worth of illegal fireworks in our backyard. I think he gets a silent thrill out of it, considering we live across the street from a state cop. He would make a separate road trip to New Hampshire just to purchase an exorbitant amount of fireworks. Regardless, I always loved watching him and my brother light them off in the middle of the backyard, dashing back to the deck in hopes that the rocket wouldn't topple over and shoot directly at us. Dad always manages to have leftover fireworks, so I'm almost counting on being able to fire a few off when I'm back in MA in a few weeks for a friends wedding.

Ah, the 4th of July. The holiday known for BBQs, beer, bottle rockets, and sparklers... and, of course, the anniversary of the date we declared our independence from Great Britain.