I grew up watching sports. One of my first memories was running around imitating the referees with my hands in the air yelling, “TOUCHDOWN!” (When I get home in April, the first thing I’m gonna do is scan that picture and post it, it’s adorable.)

But contrary to that memory, my one sport was always baseball. When the Mariners went to the playoffs in 94, I cried when they lost thinking it was because I wasn’t at the game. In 95, I went to a playoff game and was so superstitious, thinking the littlest thing I did differently was going to make us lose.

Growing up in Seattle since I was five, I came to know a singular thing as truth: our teams may suck, but the fans are steadfast in our support.

If I were to make a list of the good and bad things the Seattle fanbase has had to go through in the past 10 years or so, there’d be more bad than good. But this blog isn’t about the bad. It’s about loyalty. About finally getting our due (though it should be stated that The Seattle Storm, and the Seattle Sounders, are dominant in their leagues, and have both brought us home a championship in the past few years). About getting retribution. About showing that the underdog can prevail.

Memories of football in my household are punctuated by one word: “Suckhawks.” For years, I endured games filled with my father yelling at the television set thanks to the Seahawks. Then, in recent years something changed.  First, I went off to college, and we made our first appearance in the Super Bowl against The Steelers.  That didn’t go like we hoped.

Then we had a few more subpar seasons. And then Pete Carroll found his way to our rainy city in 2010. And he started amassing a team of so called misfits, rejects, people who were continually told they couldn’t, something Carroll himself is familiar with. I mean, just look at our quarterback Russell Wilson! He’s 5 foot 11 inches. Scouts were saying if only he were a bit taller, he’d be number one draft pick. At the start of the game yesterday, commentators Joe Buck and Troy Aikman were doubtful if he’d be able to work through his nerves considering this was only his second season in the NFL and his first appearance in the Super Bowl. Wilson dominated! He kept a level head, and he made 18 completions on 25 attempts.

In addition to Wilson, you got Derrick Coleman – the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. You have Marshawn “Beast Mode” Lynch, just look at his career stats – his years on the Buffalo Bills compared to his years with the Seahawks and you can see how he’s flourished. He’s a huge part of the Seahawks offense. You got Kam Chancellor. Chris Clemons. Malcolm Smith, this years’ Super Bowl’s MVP. Cliff Avril, our defensive end who kept successfully pressuring Peyton Manning yesterday. And of course Richard Sherman, who only in his third season in the NFL has shown that he’s dominant and good at his position.

I can relate to these guys. They’ve all overcome the odds and succeeded.  They’ve been told all their life they couldn’t, They’ve been laughed at, been called names, been kicked down – but risen above it, wanted to prove everyone wrong. They are Seattle. They are us. This is why we cheer day in and day out, winning or losing, because when we get a team like this, a team that resonates with us, IS US, it’s the best feeling in the world. And to see them go all the way? Incredible, to put it simply. If I were to try to write out exactly how I feel I don’t know if I could. A mix of elation, jealousy, envy, happiness, sadness, and wanting to dance in the streets all rolled into one? I guess the long, and short of it is, I needed this. After finally being able to divulge a little bit of how losing my best friend felt, how broken I feel, I needed this win. And I think Seattle, and the Hawks, needed it too. I think Peyton wanted it, I know he really wanted it.

And speaking of Peyton and his Broncos, I was excited for this match up. I think Peyton Manning is an incredible quarterback. And this was his year, everyone thought. It was going to be the perfect ending to a great season for him. I’m not going to say that the Hawks wanted it more, or that Peyton choked. But the Broncos struggled. And the Seahawks played how they play best. They kept saying that they were going to treat the biggest game of the year as just another game. And though people were skeptical, it worked. We have a Lombardi Trophy now!

I love my team. I love these boys who inspire every single day. Most of all, I love my city. I always hoped I’d be around for the day when one of our teams won the championship, and even though I was miles away from Seattle, I’m happier than ever. I’m so proud to be a Seattlite, I’m even prouder to be a Seahawks fan, and be able to claim I’m a part of the 12th man. This is our time.

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He and I first met when I was seven going on eight years old.  He was small, yet cuddly.  I don’t believe in love at first sight, I think it’s a construct created by the media and romance novels, but it was different with him.  I immediately felt a connection to him.  I think it was the same way with his sister, Kelly, and my brother.

He and I grew up together.  He saw me off to high school, college, and then Japan.  It broke my heart leaving him every time I moved.  But there was always the reassurance that he’d be waiting for me when I returned, or moved back home.  The last time I saw him in person was a little less than a year ago.  The last time I saw him was two, now about four, weeks ago.

Almost two weeks ago, early Wednesday morning for me, late Tuesday night for my family, I got the news that my beloved 19-year-old cat, Midnight, passed away.  When I got the news, I was beside myself, and I still had the whole day to get through.  I couldn’t fully vocalize the severity of what happened until now, and only told two people what happened right away because if I were to type it out, it’d become true.  About two weeks later, and it’s still hard for me to write this.

What’s the most heartbreaking is that I had less than three months until I could see him again.  And in the two weeks before he passed, I had no idea he got seriously sick.  I’m upset now, but I think I’ll be equally upset when I return to my childhood home in two and a half months and he’s not hanging around.  At 19-years-old, I knew that he wasn’t going to be around forever, but I also knew that I’d be a wreck when he passed.

I miss him a lot, but I’m thankful that I got a solid 19 years with the furry guy.  He had a long life, and I’ll always be grateful that I could have a great pal like him.  He was the most mellow cat I’d ever met.  And he loved getting vacuumed, cheese, yogurt, angel food cake, getting combed (especially in his arm pits and his chin), and cat treats.  I taught him tricks tirelessly in high school, and eventually he learned to stand on his hind legs, shake, nuzzle on command, and spin in a circle.  He hated getting his nails trimmed, but he was starting to get used to it, since I did it about every two weeks.  He would comfort me when I cried.  He was the best friend any seven, almost eight, year old kid could ask for.  I’m missing him so badly, even now.

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OH HOLY SHIT, THE SEAHAWKS ARE GOING TO THE SUPER BOWL AGAIN.

Back in 2006, I don’t think I grasped the severity of this.  The amazing feeling it is to play in the biggest football game of the season.  But it was an amazing feeling then, and it’s an amazing feeling now.  And the Broncos are going to give us a run for our money.  Peyton Manning and his team have the best offense, and us Hawks got the best defense.  I can’t think of a better match-up.

However, all of this talk is being overshadowed by Richard Sherman.  Who after making the game winning play, gave an interview about five minutes after.  To most of the public, he came across as “rude, narcissistic, classless, unsportsmanlike, etc, etc” based on most of the backlash.  That’s not what I saw.  I saw someone who was emotional.  Someone who just made a big play, a game winning play.  Someone pumped up on adrenaline.  Maybe it wasn’t the most tactful of interviews, but it was the truth.  It was what he was feeling in the moment.  That, to me, is what sports journalism needs more of.  Too many athletes are concerned with their image, their “brand,” and so they censor themselves.  Sherman does no such thing, with Sherman you’re going to get the truth.

The interview was surprising, but to me just because it was out of the ordinary, all of a sudden the media and Twitter went wild.  It was the backlash to me that was more offensive, unsportsmanlike, classless, anything that could be used to describe Sherman’s interview, than Sherman’s interview itself.  People on Twitter were calling him racial slurs and wishing him injured, calling him names.  As a fans we can get away with this more than athletes because we’re not in the public eye all the time, but that doesn’t make it any less appropriate.

To me there was no difference between Sherman’s interview and any time Kanye speaks.  I find both of them entertaining, maybe a bit full of themselves, but there’s no harm in calling yourself “the best” or a “genius” if you can back that talk up.  I’m not saying they’re justified, but if you can back your talk up with walking the walk, then by all means believe what you will about yourself.

To me, what was more embarrassing for the Seahawks wasn’t Sherman, but the fans who threw food on the injured 49ers player Bowman as he was carted off the field (which Sherman addressed in his response to why he said what he said).  It’s true that the Niners are our rival, but that doesn’t mean that fans (and by no means am I chastising all the 12′s, I know it’s only a handful) can throw food at a player who has just been critically injured.  If we react that way, then Kaepernick’s stupid ad with Beats by Dre is completely true.  Seattle and the Seahawks know what the 12th Man is really like, we’re the best fans in the NFL.  We’re spirited, we’re loud, we stand by our team through thick and thin. Instead of living up to what Kaepernick thinks we’re like, in two weeks let’s show the world exactly why we’re awesome.

I’m proud of my team.  I’m proud we get to show our stuff at the Super Bowl.  I can’t wait for the showdown in two weeks.  It’s been a long time coming for Seattle, and I hope we go all the way.  And I’m even proud of Sherman for being vocal, for not censoring himself, and sticking to his guns.  People are going to think what they want to think.  I just think it’s important to know all sides of the story, and his sincere concern for Bowman’s well being is proof enough for me.

This article addresses what I’ve written here a lot better than I have, give it a read.

I’m leaving Japan in about three months.  When I started my third contract, and second full year contract, I had already accepted that I would be leaving in a year, so it’s no surprise to me that I have three months left.  But now that I only have three months left, everything I’ve been wanting to do now has to be crammed into a three month span.  And I can’t do everything.

That said, I still really want to treat myself to a trip for a few days out of the country just so I can see The Desolation of Smaug.  Is it really crazy when you think about it?  I don’t think it is.  Look at it this way: this winter, all of my friends will be lining up, entering a theatre, and spending a little less than three hours with Middle Earth, and then afterwards going on the internet and talking about it while I’m over here waiting till Febru-fucking-ary 28th to see a movie that everyone else in the entire world (just bare with me while I’m being hyperbolic) has already seen.

However, all hope isn’t lost.  I’ve got a couple of trips to look forward to (seeing my pal Russ in Tokyo in the next couple of weeks, Hokkaido in Feb) and a couple of concerts before I leave Japan for good.  I’m looking forward to all of them, of course, but these two concerts are gonna be the best.  I’ve been dying to see both of the acts for the past two and a half years I’ve been in Japan, and finally at the end of my journey I’ll be in their presence.  I’ll be seeing The Lumineers before I leave for Hokkaido in February.  And at the end of March, probably the last show I’ll see in Japan (unless I come back for Fuji Rock sometime), will be Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.

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It’s gonna be an interesting three months, but I really can’t wait to get the hell out of here and figure out what else is waiting for me.  Don’t get me wrong, Japan, I love ya – but I think we need to see other people.  I’m so grateful for the two and a half years, and it’ll be a time I’ll never forget, but we all knew this was only temporary.  I’ve met some great people over here, and been to some amazing places, but it’s time.

Then after Macklemore, I move out of my apartment, and get to travel around the south of Japan with my parents for two weeks before flying away from the place that was my home for three and half years of my life.  In a way, I’m thinking of this trip as my goodbye tour of Japan to places that I haven’t visited before (other than Tokyo).  And just like anytime I move, I’m overwhelmed by the sheer amount of people that I want to see before I leave (and the money that I have to save so that my parents and I will have something to travel around on).

I really can’t wait to get home though.  I wanted these past two years to show me my path in life, or to at least tell me what I should do with the rest of my life.  I needed these past few years to find myself and figure out what I want.  Ultimately, I haven’t discovered much, there was no big revelation or anything, but I did find out that I want to travel more.  I want to be back in Seattle.  I like teaching, but it’s not something for me now.  I miss my friends, and I value the true friendships I’ve made over the years in Seattle.  I had always been a tad independent, but now I’ve realized I truly value it.  I enjoy being self-sufficient.

I’m excited to start the next step, whatever it may be, and set off on course to fulfill my goal of seeing more of the world.  I’m hoping to make it to New Zealand, and I’m determined to do it.  It’s going to happen.  But first, I have three months to remind myself exactly why I came to Japan in the first place, and show myself that I’ve grown into someone I’m proud to be.  Wow, that’s a bit pretentious.  More like, I got three months, let’s rock this joint!  And may I just say: How perfect is it that I’m ending this stint on a high note (pardon the pun) with Macklemore?!  I wouldn’t want to end this adventure any other way.

When I reflect back on 2013, it doesn’t seem too monumental.  Thankfully, or unthankfully, I have Facebook to remind me of all of my so called “2013 milestones.”  I may resent ever making a Facebook, but it is good at reminding me of a pretty damn good year.

Some highlights:

  • snowboarding – went a couple times in Jan/Feb, then ended the year out on the slopes
  • Seattle trip – 10 days reuniting with my city, and I loved every minute of it
  • Ise trip – since I graduated from Western and made it to Japan, going to Ise and seeing the Grand Ise shrine has been one of the few things I’ve wanted to do.  It was an amazing trip, and an experience I’ll never forget.  I’m so glad that Anthony and our mutual friend, Takanao, were there to experience it with me.
  • Hamamatsu Matsuri – I wasn’t planning on going this year, but I’m glad I went because it reconnected me with my love for this city.  Every year is always a shitshow, but this past matsuri was one of epic proportions.
  • Summer – I had one of the best summers of my life in 2013.  My best friend had her little girl, Mackenzie (who I cannot wait to meet!).  I finally made it to the UK.  I saw Metallica live at Summer Sonic (not to mention other amazing bands).  I went to other amazing concerts (Bernhoft), met some fantastic people, had a great birthday…
  • Following Seahawks football – I’ve always had a soft spot for football, as an American I have to.  But this year has been amazing.  Haters are gonna hate, but Seattle fans are about as loyal, and loud, as you can be.  We’re opinionated, and trash talkers, but we’ll be there through thick and thin.  You kinda have to be when our sports teams suck as hard as they do (most of the time), and it rains as much as it does.  We’re no fair weather fans.
  • I had a fantastic Christmas, and Thanksgiving, this year as well.  Christmas I had an actual Christmas dinner.  And Thanksgiving is always a holiday that I look forward to what with the gathering of friends, and having a meal and just chatting and having fun.

In terms of good or bad, I think we can chalk 2013 up to a good year.  I grew as a person.  I achieved some of my personal goals.  I didn’t meet anyone, but that’s nothing new and not on my list of priorities anyway.  I just barely missed achieving my goal of reading 50 books this year, only by three!, but I still see it as an achievement considering more than half of those books were read in the last three months of the year.

I’m excited for 2014.  I don’t know what’s in store for me, but I can’t wait to spend a majority of it in the good old Pacific Northwest.  I think lots of hiking, outdoorsy, coffee dates are in order.  With a good mix of baseball, concerts, flash mobs, and Russian dumplings.

I arrived at school today, to the sight of one of my teachers and the nurse cleaning up vomit by the bicycle park.  I felt sympathy with them, nobody wants to be cleaning up vomit at 7:50am.  I was then reminded of my college years, I’ve had to clean up many a vomit accident (and fair amount of it was my own doing), and then that got me thinking – what else has partying in college prepared me for in life?

In no way am I encouraging the world to party as I did, or still do.  In fact, after all my years of “going out.” I’m looking forward to a winter vacation where I can just stay in, so to speak.  If that actually happens is yet to be determined, but I certainly hope so.  My bed sure is cozy…

Anyway, other people might try to convince you that partying in college is not the way to go.  I am of the opinion that if you party wisely, after you’ve finished all of your studying and homework – or know you have the time to finish your studying and homework, then by all means party it up!

But either way, partying, especially if you’re the host of the party, prepares you for moments in life when others might shy away:

  • Vomit – Not only can I clean that shit (mouth shit, digestive shit so to speak) up, but if I vomit? It ain’t no thang.  Just toss me a towel and some cleaning spray, and it’ll be like nothing happened at all.  A skill useful with babies, or old people.
  • Cleaning – and not just the shoving everything into a corner or a closet and closing the door, but actually cleaning.  Cleaning so that all the valuables are gone.  Will probably come in handy later in life if I am deemed responsible enough to have a baby.
  • Drunk-proofing – I was a drunk myself, not as bad as my friends that’s for certain, but I was still a drunk.  I did drunk things.  So I know how to drunk-proof, well.  It’s essentially the same as baby-proofing right?
  • That pho cures anything – My hangover remedy?  Pho.  My sick remedy?  Pho.  Feeling down?  Alright, guys, I know just the thing.  Pho.
  • How to sleep anywhere, through anything - Maybe it’s just my own talent, and not something learned, but I can sleep virtually anywhere.  I know I’ve mentioned it before, but I once slept in my friend’s bar underneath speakers blaring Foo Fighters.  I can sleep on hardwood, I can sleep outside…
  • How to be level headed in an emergency, or run-in with the cops, and think quickly - No matter how inebriated you get, it’s important to keep a level head.  Nobody wants the person who flips the fuck out around in an emergency, or run-in with the cops.
    Being able to think quickly is the difference between life and death, an MIP or getting off scot-free with either the cops or the RA – and believe me, you’ll have run-ins.  If you’re the person holding the party, be the only person allowed to answer the door/talk with people of power.  And remember, the cops can only enter the house if you invite them/let them in.
  • If you’re going to be drinking underage, take a criminal law class in college or know your rights - Use your education to your advantage!  I’ll make your criminal law class that much more interesting once you figure out where you can apply it.  Believe me, I never got busted in college because I knew my rights, and like above kept a level head.
  • And finally…drunk people are hilarious - Drunk people are an acquired taste.  This is certainly true, but some of the craziest nights of my life have been with drunk people.  And stories, boy do I have a bunch of stories.  Drunk people do ridiculous things, and I love it.  I guess the take away is this, have fun.  And appreciate people having fun, even if they can be obnoxiously loud and resemble an adult baby.

As a kid, I was a huge crybaby (apparently in Japanese, crybaby is 泣き虫, which literally translates to crying bug).  Not crybaby in the sense that the littlest thing would set off waterworks.  I cried mostly because people would say mean things to me, not to say that I was bullied – I wasn’t.  I just didn’t have too thick of skin.  Something happened between then and high school though, I randomly decided to toughen up, and crying in front of people became embarrassing.

I’m still a crybaby, Little Miss SunshineAustralia, and The Hobbit among other movies made me cry like no other, but those three were the most notable.  I cry because I’m frustrated.  But I don’t cry about things that one would suspect someone to cry about.  I hate crying in front of people, and someone being mean to me or hurting me isn’t going to make me cry.  Missing someone will make me sad, but for the most part I’m not going to cry, and if I do it’ll be in private.

I was telling someone the other day about our mutual friend who was crying essentially every day because some of our best friends were moving back to the states.  “You’d have to be a huge asshole to not want to immediately comfort a crying person,” I told my friend, and it’s true.  But to me crying puts all focus on yourself.  And I hate that.  I don’t want people cooing over me.  I mean, I do, but it’s embarrassing.  I understand being upset about someone leaving, but crying to them everyday about them leaving isn’t going to change a thing.

My poor crying friend said to me the other day that she was so upset “she felt like a part of her heart was missing.”  And I get that.  I felt like that at the beginning of this teaching adventure.  Not only was I homesick, but one of my best friends had just moved away, and we were in that starting period where we were getting into our cliques, and I began to realize as much as I have friends here, they were superficial friends.  I could spin it so that we sounded closer than we were, but when it came down to it, they knew nothing about me and weren’t interested.  I couldn’t argue with them and guarantee that we’d still be friends afterwards.  The first half a year of my stay here, I suffered from isolation and was a tad depressed.  I would cry pretty much every night, severe homesickness sinking in mostly due to self-pity.  And because I was now without the one person I got super close to.  I felt like I was missing a part of myself then.

So when she tells me she feels like that, I understand!  The difference is, I kept it all in.  I didn’t let it show.  Which I guess is problematic in itself, but I don’t want to share my troubles and my disappointments and all that depressing shit.  Maybe that’s why people don’t know me too well, I’m not great with emotions.  And if I feel shitty, I avoid people for as long as it takes for me to not feel shitty.

I guess that’s why I’m not close with a lot of people, because people only know the part of me that I choose for them to get to know.  And what kind of person actually thinks that someone is happy all the time?  It’s just when I talk about “struggles” in my life, it feels like anything going on in my life pales in comparison to everyone else’s.  I’ve lived a privileged life.  Any struggle in my life has been nothing compared to other people’s.  I mean, come on, as a kid probably the worst part about it was being a crybaby.  And people making fun of me occasionally.  That’s nothing.

Unrelated, but I just realized back in April when I went back to Seattle for a visit, that I essentially went to school for 13 years with a bunch of privileged Republicans.  I’m surprised that it hasn’t ruined me for life.  I know that sounds like I hate Republicans, but it’s more of the privilege and richness that goes along with it.  I recognize I’m privileged, whereas most of the people I went to school with do not.  I managed to leave my small town, whereas most of them did not.  I avoided getting pregnant young, whereas most of them did not.  The more I think about my elementary and middle school life, the more I realize how much I romanticized it, until I had a sort of awakening.  My mother, who is one of the nicest people I’ve ever known, barely interacted with any of the other mothers at that school.  And my school was an interesting one because parents had to come into the school once a week and help out in the classroom, so I got to know all of my peers’ mothers.  It never occurred to me that parents could be cliquish too, until I got older.  My mother was not a part of that clique.  And thankfully, my friends’ mothers weren’t a part of that clique either.

I guess what point I’m trying to make is that I don’t want to make it seem like I’ve had it so bad, when there are so many more people out there who have it/have had it worse than me.  I still feel like I’m wandering about lost with no direction, but when it comes to complaints I have none.  I’ve got no attainable dreams or aspirations, and no idea what I want to do with my life, which will probably piss my father off immensely when I go back home in April, but it’s my life.  The only person this affects is me.  The only thing I know for sure that I want to do is travel, and somehow make enough money so that I have a means to do that.  And I’ll probably cry out of frustration, and most likely cry at the beginning of The Desolation of Smaug.  But it won’t be out of a want for attention.

(P.S. I think it’s because my mind jumps from one topic to another that ending blogs are the most difficult thing ever for me.  Not ever, but you know…Or maybe you don’t?  Anyway, I can never tie things up in a nice little bundle, because one topic inspires another – related in my mind but maybe not related in someone else’s – and so on and so forth until my blog has completely shifted in point and I can’t remember what I was originally talking about, or can’t think of a way to end my blog so that it makes sense.)

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