Friday, September 24, 2010

Movies and Real Life

Anyone ever thought about how actors and actresses often find themselves in real life situations that reflect roles they've played on the big screen? Sandra Bullock became the adopted mother of a beautiful, burly African American boy in "The Blind Side." Sandra Bullock became the adopted mother of a beautiful, burly African American boy in real life. Liam Neeson mourned the loss of his dear wife in an emotional funeral scene in "Love Actually." Liam Neeson mourned the loss of his dear wife Natasha Richardson after a tragic skiing accident. Katie Holmes often gushed over her dream guy, Tom Cruise, in the T.V. show Dawson's Creek. Katie Holmes Cruise is now a household name. I could go on for days.

I've recently taken note of the countless theories about the law of attraction that swirl around these days. Theories that suggest that if you think it (even if you're being fed your thoughts the way actors and actresses are) it will exist. It will exist and also manifest itself in your life. And I think it's true.
The Bible says that we are all created in God's image and I believe that to be so. I believe with my whole heart that the reflection of Him that exists in us, is our thoughts. It's the little voice that you hear when you read silently and the one that gets loud and frantic when you're lying in bed at night worrying about something. The voice that narrates the dreams you dream when you close your eyes and the one that silently curses the guy that cut you off on the freeway. It's your divine spirit, your "I." It's your subconscious and it's the most powerful thing you possess.

A few months ago I started to create a football scrapbook for Danny. I began organizing all of the newspaper clippings and magazine articles I've saved over the years. I rummaged through shoe boxes of photos and Tupperware of pins and paraphernalia and I attempted to lay them out in chronological order. I was somewhat taken aback when I found that the earliest "football" picture that I had of him was taken at the age of 9. My surprise, of course, stemmed from the fact that he didn't actually start playing football until he was a freshman in high school. In the 1992 photo, Danny is posing behind the wooden cut out of a Los Angeles Rams football player at Magic Mountain in Southern California. The smile that connected his chubby cheeks was bigger than life and I couldn't help but thought, one photo. There are no coincidences.

So if the law of attraction exists and if God really does exist in our thoughts, shouldn't we all do our very best to wipe negative and/or fearful thoughts out of our heads? I know, it's harder than it sounds. Every time I get a phone call after 11pm my heart skips a beat and I immediately become nervous that there has been some sort of tragedy or mishap that couldn't wait until morning. So sad. And it's usually just someone who forgot that there is a two hour time difference between St. Louis and California. Every time there is even a smidgen of turbulence on an airplane, I instantaneously imagine what my last few seconds of life would be like if it began going down in flames. Just plain unhealthy. I let my subconscious take me to places that tie my stomach into knots instead of places that make me feel safe and secure, and I'm tired of wasting my magical subconscious powers.

Can you imagine how different our lives would be if we took all of our negative energy and replaced it with happy thoughts? Hopes and dreams. Faith and confidence. Our entire bodies would unclench and we could open our minds to the endless possibilities that would undoubtedly make up our futures. If we have the ability to take one thought, one photo, and turn it into our reality, how can we not make the best of them.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010


They've started serving Pumpkin Spice Lattes at Starbucks. Is it just me, or does it feel a little too early for summer to be throwing in the towel. Every year that passes tends to go by more quickly than the last. A phenomenon that seems to speed up as I get older. Ever catch yourself saying, "Man, I can't believe we're already in (insert current month and a long sigh)." I think I've said that three times this year already and I can't help but wonder why that is. It can't be because of how busy I am, because although there's a lot going on these days, my sched is no comparison to my previous, jam-packed high school and college regimens. I'm convinced that it can't be because time passes more quickly when you're having fun, because, God knows, I've had my ups and downs like anyone else this past year. So I'm beginning to think that maybe the reason that time has been flying by so swiftly lately is because I've been completely and utterly failing to live out one of my life long dreams. Failing to soak life in like a dry sponge, failing to live in the moment.

I've always considered myself to have a type "A" or a somewhat "square" personality. I'm a neat-freak, a control-freak, a planner, a do-gooder. If you flip through my appointment book (which I wouldn't advise, unless you want to see the wrath of a "To Do" list making Scorpio) you'd undoubtedly read through the scribbled, hyphenated/color-coded lines to find that there isn't much spontaneity in my life. I'm always planning my next move, reminding myself of my most recent ones, and unfailingly living for tomorrow. I've even been known to curse my day planner for not extending through to the following year...or two. (Yes, I'm aware that there are certain brands that carry "Multi-Year" appointment books but I've stuck with Gallery Leather Co. for the last seven years and if you took note of any of the above paragraph you know that I'm a creature of habit.) A creature of habit that has come to the point of questioning her zest for living in tomorrow. Living for what comes next rather than what is now. Questioning her need to start writing the book of there-after before reading the ending of today. I'm finding that when your biggest fear is that you're wasting time trying to get to where you're not actually going, you'll never get anywhere at all.

During these last few months I've been reading a lot of soul-searching-esque books and doing a good amount of late-night journaling in efforts to figure out how to just let go, how to loosen the reigns a bit and simply trust in the process of life. And the answers that I've been finding seem to be the same across the board. The answer that's hunted me down and is now staring me right in the face is simply, gratitude. Apparently when you posess it, it's completely impossible to harbor any sort of fear or anxiety. I'm not talking about fake gratitude, the kind that only exists for the things that are going well in your world, I'm referring to the real deal. The real McCoy. The gratitude that radiates through every cell in your body and overwhelms you with a sense a peace, regardless of the chaos that surrounds you. I'm learning that when I'm thankful for every experience I have, thankful for what it'll teach me and the person I'll become in the aftermath, I don't have to be afraid when life throws me a curve ball. I don't have to cover my eyes. And it's only when your eyes are wide open, open to the good, open to the bad, and open to the endless possibilities, that you can actually appreciate today. It's only then that moments will slow down long enough for you to live in them.

With all that being said, I'm grateful for the highs and lows of the past few months. Grateful for the marketing campaign I launched for my novel and grateful for the minor knee injury that's kept Danny sidelined this last week. Grateful for the amazing two weeks that my sister and I spent together, floating down our lazy river and frequenting cafes and grateful for my family's strength and devotion when new paths and new beginnings present themselves. Grateful for our unconditionally loving puppy and grateful for the hilarity of a majestic lightning show that scares the heck out of her when a Midwest storm passes through. Grateful for friends who are more like family and family who are more like soul mates.

If every obstacle is a lesson, then those who have a more difficult path will be the wisest of all. Isn't that something to be grateful for?

Monday, June 28, 2010


Per usual, these last couple of months have gone by way too fast. I can't believe it's already summer, I can't believe it's almost time to pack up and move back to St. Louis for the season, and I can't believe that an entire year has gone by since Danny and I got married.

Twelve months of being legally bonded to my partner-in-crime through contractual obligation have pretty much come and gone in the blink of an eye. In some ways this last year felt like a drop in the bucket, just a tiny fraction of the eight years we've spent together and the gajillion more we'll see through, but in other ways, it felt somewhat monumental. I've heard people say that the only thing that changes when you get married is your last name, but I couldn't disagree more.

I'm actually quite certain that the little piece of paper that validates a marriage, the age old vows of "til death do us part" and the long-established titles of "husband" and "wife" (regardless of what language you say them in) all completely change the dynamics of any relationship. In my opinion, sacred promises and the idea that they truly bond two separate people into one unit, evoke a completely new sense of commitment. A sort of chosen obligation that puts everything in your life under a fresh lens. Crooked lines straighten out and blurry reflections become clear. You gain a new perspective on things, a new perspective on life. And when you check "Co-dependent" on your tax documents, you're acknowledging a mouthful. You suddenly depend on each other on levels you never knew existed and you somehow learn how to lose yourself in each other, without actually losing yourself at all. It's modern day magic I suppose.

Other than celebrating our anniversary, we've been spending these last two weeks running around like mad, just trying to maximize the small chunk of off-season that we're allotted around this time of year. We started off in St. Louis and then headed to Seattle to participate in the Foundation festivities of a couple of our dear friends. I was lucky enough to get a day of beautiful Seattle sunshine while we were there and another good friend, and Seattle native, showed me the awesome city. She knew the way to my heart and took me to the first Starbucks ever and the amazing Pike Place market. Then Danny and I headed to Southern California to relax and hang with his fam for a few days. It was a rare occasion, having all four of the Fells brothers home at the same time, so we savored every minute of it. I was beyond bummed when I caught a bad head cold that kept us from seeing some of our So Cal faves this year, but I guess it's just more of an excuse for them to visit us in St. Louis soon. Since I was under the weather, Danny headed to Chicago for a golf tournament without me, but I made him promise not to sample Chicago deep dish until we made a return trip to the Windy City. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised that he actually fared well in the challenge.

So we're temporarily back in San Mateo right now, but not for long. The suitcases are strewn along the hardwood floor and the fridge is solely stocked with Mom's chicken soup and some organic vanilla soy milk.

Sometimes I just wanna sit down and stay put long enough to see the leaves fall...or grow...or even just change a little bit in some way because being on the go for so long, makes it hard not to feel like I'm missing out on things. Missing important moments and even missing the insignificant ones that are just as beautiful. But, in a way, I suppose a beautiful thing blooms from the all of the chaos. When time seems to slip through the cracks of our busy schedules, as it has recently, Danny and I try to remind each other to stop and smell the roses. And the roses of our tumultuous life are simply our relationships. Our roses are our company and our company is the family and friends that remind us to take a deep breath in the form of laughing so hard we hyperventilate. They are the well-loved instigators that constantly spark our age old debate of "Which is better, Nor Cal or So Cal?" They're our allies and accomplices who see us through our ups and downs, who are always there, never-changing, and can always make us smile. This last weekend I was honored to be part of the wedding of my most veteran friend. We first met when she wouldn't share her Sour Lemons with me in Kindergarten. I, of course, told on her for having candy because I was bitter about the whole thing but somewhere in between time-out, hopscotch and playing house we became inseparable. When we graduated eighth grade together she gave me a bag of Sour Lemons with a post-it stuck to it that said, "Friends forver, tattle-tail!" and I wouldn't share even one with her just to get back her playfully.

Standing next to her on her special day was enchanting. Twenty two years of friendship is a blessed thing.

As time continues to fly by, I continue to hold true to the only three rules I try to live by these days. Savor moments and your relationships, always have faith and radiate positive energy. I just don't think anything else matters.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

A Memorial and a Thought

A couple months ago, my family and I attended the funeral of a lifelong friend. He was the father of three beautiful young adults, who my sister and I have known since childhood, and he was also my dad's partner in crime for more years than I can remember. By day he was one of the state's top attorneys and by night he was a family man and one of the most avid soccer fans and gurus who has ever lived.

He and my dad, together, saw all of us kids through countless soccer seasons of sprained ankles, bruised knees, and fractured fingers from our occasional goalie stints. Through both wins and losses, undefeated seasons of glory and 0 and 14 seasons of frustration they supported us all the way. On each and every game day, they diligently wore our team colors proudly, regardless of whether we were the Pink Cadillacs, the Purple People Eaters or the Teal Terrorizing Terminators. They were our biggest fans.

The last time I saw Dan was at my Persian wedding ceremony last July. I remember introducing him to Danny for the first time and giggling, "Dan, finally meet Dan!" They embraced like they had known each other for years. I remember looking up at Dan during the ceremony and thinking about how fitting it was that he was standing next to my dad. I watched them hug it out when the ceremony was over and through the corner of my eye saw them share a "Can you believe our kids are all grown up" moment with only their smiles.

When we recently heard that Dan passed suddenly. When I first heard the terrible news I felt sick. I felt sick and helpless and I remember trying hard to remember.

Dan's memorial service was beautiful beyond words. The Stanford Memorial Church was packed to the brim and my family and I sat, hovered together, on the edge of a pew in the back. Other than feeling the warmth of my dad's hand on mine, I was pretty numb. My eyes fixated on the bobbing heads of Dan's family in the front row and sheer sorrow pumped through my veins like an IV. Countless thoughts flooded my mind and leaked out of my eyes and down my cheeks. I wished that our families had gotten together more often as us kids grew up and started our own lives. We should've never gone a year without a visit or two. I looked over at my Dad. I wondered what he was remembering when I saw him smile in the middle of hearing Elton John's "Daniel" and I longed to know what he was thinking about when he wiped his eyes halfway through The Beach Boys' "Make it Big." "Make it big" was Dan's anthem.

I wanted, more than anything, for Dan to have been there, right then, in that church, in that moment. I wished he could have been there to see the incredible turn out, to hear the touching eulogies, to feel the immense amount of love and respect that radiated like sunlight from each and every seat in every row. The stained glass windows of the church glistened almost majestically, and it didn't seem right that he was missing it all.

I thought back to the first, and only other, memorial service I had attended. A good friend of the children I nannied, a bright young third grader, lost a long battle with cancer on one fateful day and we attended his service with extremely heavy hearts. Regardless of how natural the circle of life is, that sweet little boy's death seemed more unnatural than anything I'd ever experienced. I thought back to how, on that grave day, I had also wished that he could have been there to see the thousands of people who had showed up to bid him goodbye. To see how many hand written letters his friends had addressed to Heaven for him. To hear about how many lives he had touched during his short stay on Earth. I wanted him to know all of it. It, again, just didn't seem right that he was missing it all.
As I sat solemnly, leaning my head on my Dad's shoulder, I couldn't help but aknowledge that the post-mortem funeral only serves those who lose loved ones. What about the loved one himself? How could we commemorate them before they pass so that they know just how much they're loved? Shouldn't celebratory gatherings be held in honor of our loved ones while they're still alive to witness them? Doesn't everyone deserve a day of respect, a day of celebration, on which they can actually hear the personal testimonies of love and friendship from the special people in their lives? Wouldn't it make more sense for friends and family, both near and far, to make the trip to see their loved one rather than make the trip to remember and miss him once he's gone? We'd never again feel the agony of wishing he was there to see it all...wishing that he knew...

As my family and I somberly made our way to the reception area after the funeral, I began thinking more and more about the idea that we should lift up our loved ones while they are still with us rather than after they're gone. It just seemed like such an obvious thought. I sat down at a table with my sister and took a deep breath in preparation for a photo slide show of Dan's life.

As I became somewhat mesmerized by the rotating pictures, rotating moments, that I relived with those around me, I suddenly gained an understanding that resonated in my heart. Beautiful photos, beautiful experiences and beautiful people were captured over and over as each slide faded into another. Snapshots had been taken during every phase and turn of Dan's life, but the biggest smiles and the happiest moments were so perfectly captured in photos of Dan's birthdays. So much laughter, so many smiles, so many hugs and kisses. They were all frozen in time forever. Dan had 58 "I'm so happy that you're alive" parties, 58 "I'm blessed to have you in my life" parties, 58 "I'm celebrating you and the life you've led" parties. Each photo was evidence of the commemorative gatherings thrown for Dan each year and each day was celebrated with joy in the name of love.

As I watched the photos dance on the big screen like shadows, there was no denying that Dan had been surrounded by affection and admiration through out his entire life. His birthday had unfailingly arrived at some point during every year of his full life, and when that day came, he was blessed enough to be celebrated. It was then that I realized that Dan didn't miss a thing. He didn't miss one single thing by not physically being there with us that day. He knew how much he was loved and appreciated. He knew how we all felt about him. After seeing a picture show of his amazing life, there was no denying that.
Birthday presents and Hallmark cards are tokens of appreciation and records of your personal testimonies in love and friendship. Birthday parties and gatherings are celebrations of life and the best excuses you'll ever have to live in each moment together. Birthdays should always be cause for a "You're alive and I love you and I'm celebrating your life" party. Birthdays should always be special. Because when the time comes for us all to move on to the next phase of existence, we all wanna go like Dan did. We all want to know.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Dreams in My Bookshelves

My favorite English professor at UCD used to always say that the best way to get to know someone is by browsing through her bookshelves. And once I decided to start phase two of my annual Spring Cleaning process (the organization phase that follows the big drop-off at the county dump phase, but precedes the "You threw that away?? How could you?!" debate phase) I deduced that she could not have been more correct.

Books have always been among the more difficult things for me to give away or throw out. Maybe I'm traumatized by the insane dollar amounts that I had to spend on them in college and grad school, or maybe I feel like one day I'll need to reference a line from an old chick lit novel to comfort a friend. Maybe I think that one day I really will try an all vegan diet, or even skim through the "Eat This, Not That" Restaurant Guide before a night on the town. But is there really any excuse for hanging onto approximately two long shelves full of Martha Stewart Wedding and In Style magazines that I've collected over the last decade? And is there any logical reason why I should continue to store academic course material that I absolutely loathed reading in high school and college? I used to use the excuse that I wanted to keep the books and mags for my kids to use one day, but that argument got eternally vetoed once Danny and I saw a lady on the TV show Hoarders say the same thing the next day.
Not surprisingly, the magazines were the easiest to toss. After all, it might have been all those wedding issues that wedding-ed me out before I even got engaged. The fashion magazines weren't too hard to let go of either. Every trend that has ever existed has, at some point, been recycled back into circulation, hence recycled back into a new In Style, so I deduced that there is really no point in keeping old ones. To further the process, I even decided that I was also ready to part with a few of the required lit novels that I still had, like "My Antonia" and "Lolita," but chose to hang on to a couple of classics like "The Sun Also Rises" and "Their Eyes Were Watching God." Let's be honest, Hemingway is pretty much my homeboy.

I got off to a pretty good start and then got side-tracked by reading the books that I had placed in my surmounting salvage pile. It was as if I wanted to give them one last chance to convince me that they were keepers, to plead their case to the Spring cleaning Gods. Most of the books failed to save themselves from the Salvation Army box that welcomed them with open flaps, but a token few were victorious in finding their way back to the bookcase. The process was more draining than I'd thought it would be.

I was somewhat relieved when I got to the cookbook shelves because I have a firm "No Throw Away" policy for those. The task for them would be purely organizational. I was scarred by an incident that involved me volunteering to bake my always a hit, perfect peanut butter cookies for a birthday party, then realizing that my favorite cookbook had gotten accidentally tossed during our most recent move. The word "Discontinued" was not my friend once I tried to re-purchase the book from Barnes and Noble so I swore that I would hang onto all of my favorite recipes forever after. I organized the cookbooks according to height, picked out a Sandra Lee's Semi-homemade recipe for dinner and then moved onto my "How To's" and my inspirational books.

As I skimmed the book spines of four overflowing shelves, stopping to both smile and cringe when I saw certain titles, I began to realize that books have baggage. I plucked out the books "Forty Million Dollar Slaves" and John Gruden's "Do You Love Football" and held them tightly in my hands. I remembered how I felt when I first bought them. Danny had just come home from the NFL scouting combine, and he described the scene as similar to that of a cattle auction. They called out his number in front of a bunch of scouts and coaches, asked him to strip down to his shorts, called out his weight and height measurements and then asked him to turn around slowly. It made me so afraid. I ran out to Barnes to try to find something, anything, that would give me some sort of heads up in terms of what we were about to lunge into. Although the books that I purchased that day did reassure my worries that, at times, he would be treated like a commodity rather than a person, they also prepared me, just a bit, for the highs and lows to come. I put the two books in the save pile and moved on. I began to flip through the books "Your first Novel" and "Idiot's Guide to Getting Published." I took a deep breath and thought back to how excited I was to start a lifelong dream two and a half years before that moment. I tossed the books onto a big cardboard box that my publisher recently sent me, full of about thirty copies of "Drowning in the Mainstream," and I smiled. Those two weren't going anywhere either. I picked up "Everyday Positive Thinking" by Louise Hay, I'd completely forgotten that I even had that book. My mom gave it to me as a college graduation gift and although I discarded it at the time, calling positive affirmations "hippy-dippy" stuff, Ms. Hay had somehow found her way into my day to day life over the years. Not so ironically, I only realized how much power the positive thought had, once I started thinking positively, and it has made a world of a difference. I put the book on my desk so that I could remind myself to pay it forward to someone else.

As I slowly examined the piles of books that were scattered on the hardwood floor by my feet, I paused. I looked back up at the bunch that still sat on the shelves in front of me and I admired the way they leaned on each other for support and intermingled regardless of subject or height. They had clearly become more to me than just bound pieces of paper with shiny covers. More than just black text on off-white backgrounds. They were the dreams that my best friend and I once dreamed of manifesting and they were the unspoken prayers that never hit our lips. They were the positive thoughts and dreams that made up our future before we had even adopted the policy of being forever optimistic and there will always be room for dreams, as far out as they may be, on our bookshelves.

Highs, Lows and Weirds

The last few weeks have been a typical, crazy whirlwind of events, one that you may have thought I’d be used to by now…but there's no getting used to chaos. The highs have been high, the lows have been low, and the weirds have been weirder than ever.

Danny and I live a relatively mundane life for the most part. We live in a small, half of a duplex when we’re in California and in an extended stay motel when we’re in St. Louis. We drive the most basic (and I mean ZERO upgrades basic, don’t even have sun-roofs basic) Nissans around, and we, without fail, always end up with middle seats on airplane rides because we solely purchase airfare through But every once in a while I hear or see glimpses of things that remind me that eventhough we live an incredibly normal life, we are blessed to be surrounded by greatness. During a run-of-the-mill phone conversation that I with Danny last week, after telling me what he ate for breakfast he added, “Oh, and I plugged your book to Coach Belichick this morning. We pulled it up on the computer in his office.”

I'm still somewhat shocked that my novel, “Drowning in the Mainstream” is still in the running for Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award and is currently being picked up by independent bookstores all over the U.S. Its unexpected success has been overwhelming and I am so thankful for the support and positive feedback that I’ve been getting from my amazing family and friends. I firmly believe that here is not greater accomplishment than to earn the love and respect of those who you adore and for that I am very grateful.

To the surprise of many, Danny re-signed with the Rams a couple of weeks ago and he, frankly, couldn’t be happier. He had the opportunity to explore some other opportunities once he hit free agency, but at the end of the day he realized that his heart was still in St. Louis. His decision to stick with the Rams for another year was based solely on his desire to, in his words, "be part of something bigger than the game." To be part of a process. And to play for a team and a coaching staff who saw something in him a while back and decided to give him a long shot. If we’ve learned anything over the last few years in the Not For Long league, it’s that undrafted, no-name, Division II college ball players rarely get a second glance and that's exactly why there’s something to be said about being loyal to the people who believed in you when no one else did. He can't wait to get back to work.

On a selfish note, I really couldn’t be more excited about his decision either. The offseason has felt long enough when it comes to being away from the girlfriends I made in the Lou this last year, and to them I’s to making the Midwest seem a little less Midwest-y, training camp lattes, Wednesday book club (minus the books), and mimosa game days mornings!
Ready to see what 2010 has in store for us.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Facebook Era

In the past week, three of my Facebook friends have posed the question Does Facebook enhance or reduce your quality of life? via their status updates. "It enhances it of course!" was my first reaction. I didn't even think twice about it. I love reconnecting with people who I haven't been in touch with in years! People like childhood BFFs (minus the last F for the obvious reason that we haven't been in touch for years) and the kids of family friends who I somewhat remember vacationing with at one point or another. There's something refreshing about looking up the "Info" of the little annoying kid who used to play with crickets and constantly untie the laces of my tennis shoes and find that he's en route to becoming an orthopedic surgeon. And who needs Jerry Springer's "You made fun of me in grade school, but look at me now!" episodes when Facebook allows us to literally watch karma take her course and witness the most amazing transformations ever. The chubby tomboy from middle school who is now a stunning professional body builder. The beautiful, blond mean-girl from high school who traded her killer bod and trendy fashion accessories in for a couple of kids and an old pick-up truck. My favorite story though was seeing what happened to the girl that was dumped by her jock boyfriend once they got to college together (a college that he convinced her to attend because he had a football scholarship). Two weeks into freshman year he told her he was going to focus on his "studies" so they couldn't be together anymore but he really just wanted to study all of the girls in his dorm. She's gorgeous, just passed the Bar and is newly engaged. He, on the other hand, lives with his parents and often posts unflattering pictures of himself double-fisting beer mugs at the bar down the street. C'est la vie.

Yesterday, while grabbing a cup of coffee at Starbucks with my dad I overheard a similar Facebook discussion at the table next us. A visibly upset high school-aged girl, wearing over sized sunglasses and a tee that said "I was with stupid and now I'm with you" was picking at a muffin. She anxiously squished little pieces of it in between her fingers before popping them into her mouth and by the time her latte-toting mom joined her at the table, the young Nicole Richie lookalike just about exploded. She went on and on about how, because of Facebook, her best friend had become completely insane. Her mom stared back at her blankly and nodded. Little Richie continued to explain to her that her friend had become a "picture maniac freak" and that she could never sit still because she constantly needed new material for her status updates. I giggled a bit to myself as she flailed her arms and flicked her muffin pieces angrily and then suddenly she calmed down and her tone took a more solemn tone. "It's like she uses me now." She said sadly. "For photo albums and status updates." I immediately frowned for her. How sad I thought to myself. She seemed to hold back tears as she continued to somberly explain how her supposed BFF had become an EX-BF, and she blamed it all on Facebook. I suddenly thought back to all of the photo albums and status updates that I've posted through the years. I couldn't help but wonder if I'd ever made anyone feel the way she did. Had I ever made anyone feel used? Had anyone ever used me? All in the name of Facebook?

I began thinking about the Facebook and the quality of life question a bit differently. Sure I loved keeping up with my friends and keeping in touch, but I began to wonder if there is a point when the networking tool actually becomes intrusive? Intrusive into the lives of those who share too much personal info with others unwittingly, or even intrusive into our own lives in an unfortunate way.
It made me think back to the trip that Danny and I took to Europe last year. The trip on which he not-so-affectionately nicknamed me the "camera terrorist." I admittedly cringed a bit when I thought back to how I spent a good chunk of our vacation saying, "Smile!" and "Point to that!" and "Hold this!" and "Now pretend like you're having fun!" and "Now take one of me doing that too!" Could I have been anymore obnoxious? Pretend like you're having fun?

I remember being in the Notre Dame Cathedrale in Paris, and watching Danny light a votive candle and say a prayer. I don't remember wondering what he was praying for in that moment and I don't remember being thankful for having a spiritual and loving better half either. I don't remember if he looked at me and smiled when he was done and I don't remember how the experience of being in such a magical place made me feel. All I can remember is cursing my camera for having such a dim flash. I think I even asked him to light another one because the picture I'd gotten was blurry. As a live in the moment kind of guy, he didn't. After thinking back to a few other intimate moments that I'm sure I ruined with my trustee Canon, I couldn't help but actually feel ahsamed.

I know that I've consciously posed for pictures and taken pictures either hoping that they will or won't end up on Facebook, and I also know that I miss the good old days when taking pictures wasn't so complicated. Photographing a moment used to be a way of documenting a memory or capturing a special second in existence and I can't help but feel that so much has changed since then.
So maybe it's both. Maybe Facebook does enhance my life in certain ways but also detract from it in others. Maybe people call it their guilty pleasure rather than just their pleasure because everyone knows there is something about it that's just wrong. Maybe the rolling eyes of our husbands and boyfriends (generally after the millionth picture that we make them take, alone, by a monument, and usually in front a huge crowd of people) are actually speaking a thousand words. Words that remind us that they want to spend moments with us rather than on the other side of a pestering lense.

I may not be deleting my account anytime soon, and I can pretty much guarantee that I'll continue to update my status and post pictures every once in a while, I just don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I've come to the conclusion that as long as I don't live to post or post to live, I can continue to indulge in the little guilty pleasure that I've come to enjoy now and again. The book of our true faces as well as the faces that we choose to decorate and put on display.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Superbowl Sunday

Superbowl Sunday came and went just as uneventfully as it usually does. I made some sweet and spicy meatballs, threw together a pitcher of sangria and had a few of our faves over to watch the game with us. In contrast to the way we used to celebrate the big game in college, it was a pretty dull day. There was no big party, no money pool, no trash talking and definitely no football paraphernalia or decorations in sight. I actually think it's safe to say that the past few Superbowl Sundays at the Fells household have consistently been somewhat melancholic. And as long as Danny plays the game and doesn't make it to the big show, I think that'll be the norm.

My guess is that if you were to ask any NFL player (who isn't planning on playing in the Superbowl) what he's doing on the day of the big game, he'll say he's not doin' much. He'll watch the game on Sunday, maybe even give his two cents about a play call or two, but that's about it. A minimal amount of emotion will be invested in the occasion, and the outcome won't make much of a difference either way. Exciting one-handed grabs will only earn mere head nods and the thrill of going into overtime will generally be translated into an animated sigh. The concept is one that used to be hard for me to grasp. I couldn't, for the life of me, understand why football players weren't among the MOST emotionally invested Superbowl viewers. Weren't they supposed to be the ones with the true passion for the sport? The ones that truly cared? I was even a little frustrated by the apathetic attitude that seemed to plague every single one of our football buddies on the day of the big game until a friend who used to play in the league recently explained it to me in terms I could understand.

He suggested that him throwing a Superbowl party would be comparable to me having a party for a co-worker who was promoted in front of me. It just wouldn't make sense. He insisted that I wouldn't host a celebration for someone I spent countless hours studying and trying to defeat. Someone who didn't shed a single ounce more of blood, sweat or tears than I did over the course of a career and yet had the opportunity to be named "the best." Someone who I matched hour for hour in the office and penny for penny in sales. He insisted that I wouldn't throw a party for someone who ridiculed me to the media and even "talked about my mamma" when we crossed paths. I laughed, but he didn't. I had never really thought about it that way. When I teasingly asked him if the cardinal sin of jealousy played a role in his anti-Superbowl attitude, he surprised me by assuring me that it absolutely did. I appreciated his honesty. He told me that, no matter what anyone would ever tell me, there isn't a single guy who's ever played the game (whether it be in high school, college, or even Pop Warner) that hasn't dreamed about kissing the Lombardi trophy at one point or another. He also assured me that the closer you get to it, the more you want it. And the closer you get to it, the more it "stings" when you fail. And for a guy like that to say it stings, a guy who played hundreds of hard-hitting games while bearing the agony of broken bones and torn ligaments, well, it must really hurt!

So I don't really make a huge deal of the Superbowl these days. Maybe, in the future, I'll break my football shaped glasses and referee striped caution tape back out of storage, but for now I'm just sticking to meatballs. There are two things, though, that still make Superbowl Sunday a reason to celebrate in my eyes...good eats and commercials, of course. Those E-Trade commercials get me every time. Obviously the only thing funnier than a talking baby is several of them. And the Google commercial that aired this year was pretty good too. The one where a guy uses the Google search engine to illustrate every step of his blooming relationship with a girl that he meets in Paris. Pretty romantic stuff. It provided quite the special moment until our single bachelor friend (who will remain unnamed) interjected his own search engine topics once the commercial was over. No, dear friend, the natural sequence of events following the building of a baby's crib is not always therapy or divorce. And yes, although you were right when you said that you were sure that Megan Fox had to have used a finger double in her Motorola commercial, all that that proves is that you need to get out more.

Yup, Superbowl Sunday petty much went as planned. I was somewhat surprised however that the "Kim vs. Kendra" E! headlines didn't weasel their way into prime time on Sunday. What a let down. The only thing we bet on before the game started was how many times we thought the camera would cut to Kim throughout the course of the game. It's possible that I wasn't watching very closely but I only saw her once throughout the entire telecast. She was on the field snapping photos at the end of the game, and I would have completely missed her even then if the sharp shoulder-pad of her trendy blazer hadn't literally come through my TV and poked me in the eye.

Here's to Superbowl Sunday, and all of it's glory and all of it's hype, and to hoping that one day soon we'll be under the confetti watching ourselves celebrate on the jumbotron rather than under our own roof saying, "There's always next year."

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Snapshot of right now

I had no idea that when Danny and I got married last summer we were also secretly initiated into the "you are now eligible to receive family Christmas cards" club. Go figure. One after the other we received the most beautiful Christmas cards this year from both friends and family alike, some of whom we hadn't spoken to in years.

Some cards were from our happily childless couple friends, many of whom are newlyweds, but most cards had family photos on the front of them, complete with newborn babies and family dogs. And, of course, the ones with photos on them were almost always accompanied by detailed paragraphs outlining what the family had been up to since the previous Christmas. In a nutshell, Danny and I feel pretty honored to be surrounded by so many future soccer hall-of-famers, pint-sized Picassos and of course, plain and simply, little genius children.

We had so much fun flipping through the Christmas cards and playing catch-up with good friends that we'd somehow lost touch with. It was as if the little paragraphs in them adequately replaced the need for long-lost-friend dinner dates. You know, the ones you schedule and rescheduled about a hundred times over the course of a year because when they get close you get nervous that you'll have nothing to talk about. They're the same ones that generally require a glass of wine to loosen you up a bit before you meet for dinner. We couldn't help but conclude that the convenience of the Christmas card was truly brilliant, and we were enjoying every bit of our speed dinner-dating until we found ourselves cringing through some of the paragraphs. As we flipped through the pile of cards that we'd gotten from the friends that we've made through Danny's NFL career, there was one staggering constant that seemed to hit home like a ton of bricks. Change.

Change, sudden and constant change at that, was the common denominator in every single Christmas card that we'd gotten from Danny's old teammates, coaches and their families. And it was, quite frankly, a reality that we knew all too well with our 4 teams in 4 seasons history. Card after card, in the upbeat and optimistic foreign language of NFL-speak (one we're learning quite quickly), we read about our dear friends being traded, being released, moving, getting injured, exploring alternate professions, being signed, moving, getting injured again, moving again, and getting released again. New states, new cities, new homes, new climates, new schools, new friends, new co-workers, new jobs. And although they weren't written on the page in legible ink we undoubtedly read about the hellos, goodbyes, see you laters, good riddances, and how could yous. It was exhausting.
So as the first real entry of my blog, I've decided write my version of what our Fells Christmas card would look like today. A snapshot of our "right now" if you will. Because tomorrow could be another story.

Happy 2010 Everyone! This last year has gone by like a whirlwind but we're still chugging along! We got engaged last April and married in June, and by now you know that no, I wasn't pregnant, we just didn't need a long engagement. Seven years was a long enough time for us to figure out that we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. After being in four weddings over the course of 9 months I was somewhat wedding-ed out, so we decided to just have a couple of intimate celebrations with family and call it a day. Married life has been pretty phenomenal. Although Danny swears that not a single thing has changed other than the piece of paper that now bonds us, I secretly think that little paper makes him love me just a tiny bit more than before. I'm still not used to calling him my husband and I think I'll forever turn around and look for his mom whenever someone calls me Mrs. Fells.
Three long years after getting my masters degree in Writing I'm finally publishing my debut novel, "Drowning in the Mainstream: Confessions of a Sister." I often describe it to friends as a girly, young adult novel about sisterhood and sorority-stuff and then follow-up with the phrases "No, you're not in it. A novel is fiction," and "Yes, I agree, it would be awesome to be on Oprah one day." I've been lucky enough to have a career that I can do anywhere because Danny's has pretty much taken us all over the U.S. Danny's currently a tight end for the St. Louis Rams. He had somewhat of a breakout year in 2009, scoring one-third of the team's touchdowns last year and making it onto the pro bowl ballot as a second-stringer. A pretty hard feat on a 1-16 team. But don't you worry, Superbowl 2011 here we come! (That's an example the optomistic NFL-speak I wrote about above)
So since it's offseason, we're spending our time at our duplex in San Mateo. Yup, I said duplex. My sister and her husband are our neighbors (we share a wall) and yes, our life is pretty similar to most episodes of Friends. Danny is almost fully recovered from a knee injury he sustained at the end of the season (on a cheap shot I might add) and we'll be heading back to St. Louis once Off Season Training starts up in March. I'm not excited to leave California again but I do terribly miss the girlfriends that I made in St. Louis this last year. My life as an NFL wife is both everything that most people think it is and nothing like anyone could ever imagine it to be. In a nutshell, while most people spend their Sundays vegging and bracing themselves for a busy work week, I spend most of mine taking deep short breaths, the kind that vibrate in the back of your throat when you're nervous, and praying for the physical safety of the man that I love. Praying for the physical safety of the man that I love. It's like that MTV phrase that everyone used to use as their IM status update in college, "You think you know, but you have no idea."


So with all of the new Oscar buzz surrounding the ever so hyped Avatar, Danny and I FINALLY went to see it. Yup, we finally penciled in a (too long for my taste) three hour block of time in which we could sit in a freezing theater and witness the strange, and somewhat erotic, connecting microfibers that we'd heard so much about. And, per usual, on the way home from the movie we discussed it from beginning to end. The discussion started out as a casual conversation, one that we we both seemed to enjoy, until the overly critical novelist in me reared her ugly head. And so I began my (now common) post-movie rant...

I came away from the movie feeling like, although it was an amazing work of art, I just wasn't invested in any of the characters. And on top of that, I just didn't feel any real emotional bonds between the characters in the movie either. I just didn't buy the relationship between Sully and Neytiri. Prior to them mating and becoming "life-long partners" in the whimsical weeping willow-esque sacred forest, they had only glanced at each other playfully one or two times. And because there wasn't much flirtation or insinuation of physical attraction, they really just seemed to have a platonic relationship. Of course, early on I could see the Pocahontas parallels and could pretty much deduce what would happen between them, but there was no sexual tension, no deep conversation. I would've liked to witness a tender moment or two so that I could actually feel the love by the time they were eternally bonded. It just didn't ring true (well as true as it could ring for being sort of science fictiony). And I've also never not cried when a dad has died in any movie I've ever watched in my entire life. My eyes didn't so much as water when Neytiri's dad died, and I frankly didn't like that one bit! Maybe if we had seen him interacting with his people or Neytiri's mom, or even Neytiri for that matter, in a loving or paternal way (even once) the scene would have struck an emotional chord with me. And was it just me, or did anyone else want to know more about Sully? He was a complete stranger to me throughout the entire movie.

Mid-rant Danny interrupts me to irritatedly note that he couldn't remember the last time I'd expressed a SINGLE good review about any movie we've seen. I looked at him somewhat blankly and then took a second to think about what he'd just said. Was he right? Had hours upon hours of character development, plot sequencing and dialogue compression have completely turned me into the debbie-downer of movie goers? I knew that after most movies, I'd voice my wishes to have had things like more background information, or more relatable relationships, but was I being overly critical? I suddenly flashed back to hearing myself say, "That character wouldn't say that!" or "That scene was such a filler. Where was the conflict?!" (in the theater). I cringed a little bit. Hmmm...I cringed a little more when I thought about how I often get quite angry (borderline hostile) when endings left me yearning for more information, not in a cliffhanger way, but in an unfinished kind of way. He was right. While becoming a writer, I'd somehow also become the thumbless Ebert. I'd become the Rush Limbaugh of film critics. I'd become...a nag.

After reflecting on the overly critical (and most likely annoying) movie watcher that I'd become, I suddenly began to miss the good old days. In the past, when Danny would ask me what I thought about a movie we just saw I'd usually just bring up a scene in it that proved a point that I'd tried to make at some point in our seven year relationship. Devilishly (but jauntily) capitalize on a sort of "See! I told you so" moment if you will. Or sometimes I'd just cheerfully remind him how much I liked the grey sweater that that one girl in the movie wore when they went to dinner (and where I saw it on sale in my size). Sometimes that sweater would even magically appear upon my nightstand a couple days later! (Well, once that sweater magically appeared upon my nightstand, but my antics were good for a chuckle at the very least!) Yup, those were the days.

The squinted frown on Danny's face during the car ride home said it all. I was pretty sure that my ranting had somewhat ruined the movie for him. His random defensive rebuttals about different scenes he "by the way, really LIKED," throughout the remainder of the evening solidified my assumption. My rampant negativity surely took the "date" out of "date night," and I couldn't help but feel a little bad.
After laying my head on his shoulder and getting a minimal response, I decided to try and redeem myself by reminding him how brilliant I thought Juno was (how ever many years ago that we saw it in theaters). I asked him to recall how I raved about it for days after we saw it and how many times I told him how amazingly phenomenal and authentic it was. Juno had hit on every emotion I had. I cried, I laughed, I scrunched my nose. When we got home from watching it I pranced around the house playing a fake banjo and repetitively sung (in an undoubtedly high pitched country accent) "If I was a flower growing wild and free, all I'd want is you to be my sweet honey bee!" One of the best songs ever by the way. After desperately searching for validation, I sang it to remind him exactly how it went. He smiled.

I put my head back on his shoulder and told him that I'd work on being a little more positive after the next movie we watched. He nodded and rested his head on mine. I shrugged and sighed. "Yup, I'll work on it...but I just might have a long road ahead of me." I relented. He asked me why I thought so and I obliviously responded, "Well, I just can't understand why we wouldn't have at least seen a glimpse of Sully's relationship with his brother! You know? I mean seriously! Were they buddies? Did they get beers together after work? Was Sully ever jealous that he had more success in the military? A flashback or two would have really helped me understand..." I stopped when I felt him looking at me somewhat sideways and then giggled embarassedly. I shrugged and flashed him my "Woops" smile. He smiled back, gave me his "you're hopeless but cute nonetheless" look and then kissed me goodnight.

So, anyone else think that the movie was a little lacking in the interpersonal relationship department??? KIDDING!!!!...sort of.

Monday, February 1, 2010


I've been debating whether or not to start a blog for over a year now, but today, the internal argument has literally spilled out of my head and into my lap top. As much as I love the idea of sharing my happenings, my thoughts, and my opinons with everyone (friends and strangers alike) I keep wondering what I have to offer. I mean, really, there are already millions of blogs out there about being a writer, being a woman, being Iranian, being a daughter, sister, and friend, being married, and even being an NFL I ask myself, what's the point? And I suppose that today, I've finally answered. There really isn't a point at all, and I love that. No point, no pressure, no deadline...just me doing what I love to do...just me writing.
So here I am. Stay tuned...