Tag Archives: Chelsea Parks

Why I Can’t Play Sports For Fun

This past weekend a good friend of mine, we’ll call her Ethel, asked me if I wanted to be a stand-in on a flag football team that plays in Baltimore. I didn’t know anyone on the team but enthusiastically accepted the invite, as I had absolutely nothing better to do. Plus, Ethel brings the laughs like no one else, which I desperately need during my dark, unemployed times.

Ethel and I are natural competitors and as such began brainstorming game strategies that would play to our strengths and subsequently make us look awesome in front of people we hoped would become our new friends (Ethel only knew a couple of team members also). A few options were thrown out, but one stuck. We were going to use the speed and agility that we had loosely (read: barely) maintained since our college lacrosse days to blast past everyone and score a shit ton of touchdowns. Anyone foolish enough to try and stop us would get his or her obtrusive skull busted.

I couldn’t help but see myself carrying out the game plan. What I saw was an abundantly sweaty, asthmatic ogre who was violently stiff-arming opponents down the field as everyone watched in uncomfortable horror. It then dawned on me that this might not be the best way to meet a group of strangers for the first time.

Like I said, Ethel and I are former lacrosse players who played at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We spent four years alongside 40 other girls doing hang cleans and tire flips so that we could prepare ourselves in the event that we had to crush any and all similarly thick-legged opponents. We didn’t play for fun. We were trained to win at any cost, so much so in fact that if the opportunity presented itself we would not think twice about stuffing our unruly opponents into a trash compactor. It was our own slightly psychotic dog-eat-dog world, a bubble where we could fearlessly talk trash and sweat like 400-pound men.

The problem is that death threats, mental intimidation and excessive perspiration can come off as unattractive and borderline frightening to the casual athlete. I wanted to make a good impression on my temporary teammates, but I knew they weren’t going to understand when I ferociously kicked inanimate objects after a bad play or threw my hands up and aggressively screamed in their faces after a good one.

Luckily, it never came to that. The game was cancelled due to rain from the day before, an overreaction that worked in my favor. I did, however, decide that I am far too competitive to play sports for fun. In fact, all women who are former college athletes should follow my lead. People already think we are beastly and the last thing we need to do is perpetuate negative stereotypes or alarm people looking for some friendly competition.

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My Shoulder Is Not a Window

The Society for the Strange and Obnoxious must congregate at Starbucks. I know for certain that their meetings are scheduled around one thing and one thing only: my physical presence in the store. Normally, I tend to deal with the minor offenders. You know, the ones who stand too close in line or who take a millennium to figure out their order. Last week, however, I had the pleasure of meeting the head honcho of the club.

I was sitting in the corner, quietly guzzling my coffee and writing away in one of those briefly wonderful caffeine-fueled rages when I sensed someone sit down in the chair behind me. I paid no attention to the new presence and continued to write in a self-absorbed haze. I only took notice once I felt uneven breaths firing on the back of my neck.

I quickly jumped around to find a middle-aged, finely tanned man in a clean-pressed, white shirt looking at me with a smile that would also make sense on either a serial killer or Beavis. He spoke first. I felt he owed me this much as he was the one who initiated the heavy breathing. “Oh, hello, dear, I hope you don’t mind, but I’m going to sit here and spy on you,” he stated, rather presumptuously if I do say so myself.

I did mind. I really, really did.

“Well, OK, but I’m not writing anything very interesting.” It was true. But, if I were writing something interesting I’d rather share it over tea with Mitt Romney’s butt cheeks than with that jabrone.

I smiled and turned around so as to passive aggressively kill the conversation. He didn’t get the hint and unleashed a merciless verbal assault on me, asking all sorts of inane, prodding questions. I don’t get that. Can’t you tell when someone doesn’t want to engage in a conversation with you? Like, should I install a mini alarm system on top of my head that goes off when I reach the breaking point in an unsolicited conversation?

As I began bleeding out I looked around at the untouched Starbucks patrons with desperate eyes. I was going to die, damnit, why weren’t they helping me? They thought I was a willing participant, they thought I was also a lonely fool who sought comfort from strangers in Starbucks.

I must have forced myself into a blackout because I forgot the rest of the conversation. I only remember the first sign of dead air, which I used as an opportunity to get up and scram. Before I could escape fully the man called out to me, “Thanks for letting me use your shoulder as a window.” To which I replied, “Good sir, it was never meant to be a window.” I hate Starbucks.

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Five-Minute Observation: Shall We Not Dance?

It’s no secret that I am helplessly inclined to be awkward. If it is a secret, it doesn’t stay that way for long, as my persistent awkwardness insists on revealing itself almost immediately upon coming in contact with another human being. Its evolution is unpredictable and mercurial, especially when it comes to dancing.

Unfortunately, while I have done a lot on the dance floor (slipped, stood and lost a small fortune worth of cell phones and loose dollar bills), I can’t think of a time that when I’ve ever actually danced with serious intentions. I usually just “joke dance”, which involves me doing “the sprinkler” and other 80’s-era dance moves. Sadly, it’s really not a joke because I still put a lot of mental and physical effort into these moves.

It’s not that I haven’t tried to dance normally, because I have. It’s just that for some reason, when I dance I look like a delirious penguin on LSD. No matter how hard I fight it, my body moves at awkward intervals that are completely independent from the rhythm of the music. What’s worse is that my perception of how I look when I dance is vaguely disconnected with the painful reality of what my body is actually doing. In my mind, I’m seducing the crowd with a sexy hip swivel but in reality, I look like a rusty Tin Man trying to unsubtly dislodge a wedgie without his hands.

A couple of my close friends here at SCAD hail from Puerto Rico. Said friends are more evolved when it comes to the art of dance and when they dance, they do it for reals and they look good. So, I was understandably apprehensive a couple of weeks ago when they suggested that we go to a local club to dance. I didn’t want to them to be embarrassed by me, but I knew my dancing limits so I figured I would just default to my joke dancing. However, after walking in and witnessing the seriousness with which the beautiful and scantily clad people there were getting their groove on, I soon realized this method wasn’t going to fly.

If ever there was a time to abuse alcohol, this was it. I went with my gut and started investing in several cups of rum, hoping that the calming effects of these spirits would simultaneously reduce my anxieties and help me find some sort of rhythm. Unfortunately, after five minutes of awkwardly swaying back and forth and running my massive hands through my tangled hair in what I imagine was not a sexy manner, I had effectively scared off everyone within a three-foot radius of me. At that point, I unintentionally became living proof that alcohol has no apparent positive effect on ones ability to look cool while dancing in a club with other people who are actually good dancers. I tried to do a real dance and I failed. I never felt nerdier, for lack of a better word. In my rum-fueled haze, I vowed that I would never try to dance seriously again and if the people around me didn’t like it then they were just going to have to deal with it. I marched right back onto the dance floor and did what I’ve always done on such a floor: I lost five dollars.

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Five Minute Observation: Hail No

I was riding in the very front row of a charter bus headed north to Athens, T.N. to coach the last lacrosse game of the season. I like sitting up front because the big windows make me feel like I’m on one of those weird trains that ride around the food courts at malls during the holidays. Everyone you pass gives you a condescending smile as their way of expressing how happy they are to not be you. While I find the condescending smiles from the people in the RVs annoying, and a bit ironic, I’d still rather be up front because this means I’m not in the back next to the toilet, which, more often than not, smells like what I imagine the inside of a warthog’s poop shoot smells like.

 As I stared out the window and thought about all of glorious things I was going to do once lacrosse was over, a cloud blacker than Lady Gaga’s soul rolled authoritatively over the pale blue sky. Then, like a big, fluffy machine gun, the soulless clouds started firing bullets of hail at our bus. The wind picked up ferociously and with it, it brought any loose sticks, rocks and small cats crashing into the front, side, top and back of the bus.

 I looked over at our bus driver who suddenly became my savior. To my dismay, my newfound savior was un-heroically fumbling around on the control panel like a blind man. I assumed he was looking to activate the windshield wipers since we were knee-deep in a tornado and he had yet to turn them on. After about five minutes he gave up and decided the windshield wipers weren’t necessary to our survival.

 I took a mental note of his short-lived perseverance before I accepted that I was going to die. I was going to die on a charter bus with a bunch of people who I yell at everyday. The paramedics were going to find me after the storm and simply shake their heads in pity when they saw that I was wearing an awkward fitting Under Armour tracksuit and tennis shoes. One of them would probably sacrifice their own garments so that the last image my mom saw of me wasn’t one where I looked like an 80-year-old synchronized swimmer. In order to do that, though, they’d need a crane to lift up my lifeless body, which I assume would weigh more than my living body, if that were possible.

 Just as I was throwing together a mass text detailing my last goodbyes the storm cleared up. Our bus driver used this as an opportunity to pull into a rest stop and investigate the windshield wiper situation. He called corporate headquarters to “troubleshoot” the problem. I can’t say for sure what was said on the other end of the phone, but after he talked to them he turned a knob near the steering wheel and the wipers fired right up. I heard him say, “Oooooooh,” and then, without an apology or explanation, he whipped the car into drive and we continued our trip.

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Five Minute Observation: Old Man at Starbucks

I’m going to start a daily (but probably semi-daily) post called “Five Minute Observation”. In these I’ll briefly describe an encounter I had during that day in just five minutes so that I only have time to include the meat of the experience. I need to start listening more and observing the world around me (even if it means having to look at ugly, fat people, I’ll have to suck it up) and this is the perfect way to do it. We’ll see how this turns out. The first one is titled, “Old Man at Starbucks”:

I sit down at a table in the Starbucks next to the Publix on Abercorn.

Behind me there’s an old man. He’s sitting at a table for two but there’s no one with him. He’s reading the New York times with a white, plastic magnifying glass. Something tells me that magnifying glass isn’t really helping because he’s still hunched down to within two inches of the paper, his eyelashes even touch the magnifying glass. He seems deeply enthralled in the Business section until a customer walks in. At that point he becomes the unofficial greeter of Starbucks. He welcomes each guest with a, “How’s it going today, you fine young man?” and a “Good morning, my dear.” He talks to each customer as if he knows them but the looks on their faces make it clear he probably doesn’t.

He comes here everyday and reads the New York Times and Wall Street Journal, he says to my back. As I turn around, I notice he has one piercing blue eye and one eye that looks like a cloudy beach day. His long, wrinkled face contorts into a smile and he asks me what I want to do with my life. “I want to be a writer,” I respond. “Good, well now, I can say I talked to you before you got famous,” he says confidently as he decisively hunches back down to his magnifying glass.

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Let’s Stay In

These days I don’t get out very often. Too much school work, not enough money and a body that’s unwilling to fight the adverse effects of alcohol are a few reasons why I’m spending the prime of my life drinking wine in my bed and writing blog posts. I know, you’ve heard it all before. I am a loser. Big. Fucking. Deal.

But I digress.

I did get the chance to face the drunk hipsters of Savannah this past weekend and they kindly provided me with yet another reason why I generally loathe large crowded college bars: alcohol makes unfunny people think they are funny. After a couple cans of liquid courage and a few sympathy laughs everyone’s the next Richard Pryor.

Now, I’m not saying that I’m the next comedic prodigy because I know for certain I’m about as funny as a bag of ham. I also realize that when I pound down a couple brews I pretend to walk into poles and I eat sausage biscuits in sets of two but, like most people, I choose to believe society is the problem.

It’s just that nothing annoys me more than when I’m at a bar enjoying my mental judgement of everyone and some moron with a plaid shirt, ugly haircut and overwhelming body odor interrupts with quotes from “Jersey Shore” or “Zoolander.” Look, buddy, that was so 2,000 and late. You look like a bozo and you smell like a trashcan. Go home, wash yourself and work on some new material.

As Lucille Bluthe would say, these people “make me want to set myself on fire.” I didn’t take it that far. Instead I just drank away the pain. This could be why I am at the tail end of a two-day hangover. I don’t know when I become an anti-social 60 year old stuck in the body of a 24 year old but it’s happened and there’s no turning back. Sorry, friends.

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Body Notes

Body Notes

This was a short poem I wrote that was inspired by all of the little noises our bodies make.

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