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Hey everyone,

Today is National Short Story Day, apparently.  In honor of that, I am posting this one.  I would love feedback, even if you want to say I completely suck at writing! Bonus points if you’re a published author providing the feedback. 🙂

 


 

“Carrie, you look amazing,” and she did.

“Thank you, Chris,” she replied, “Shall we?”

We left. Carrie, it seemed, had always been a part of my life. We had been friends for almost 10 years, and after years of all of our friends giving us grief about being so close but never dating, or so much as a single kiss going on between us, had decided to go on an actual date. I was scared to death. She had always been the one person I told everything to, and we had gotten each other through so many major life events. I needed her. I was afraid of losing that if this didn’t work.  When I asked her out, she first called me a liar.  I assured her I meant what I was asking, then we pinky-swore that no matter what happened, we would be friends for the rest of our lives.

I had decided to keep it nice and casual for our first date. I figured it was going to be a little awkward, especially at first, so I thought a nice cliched dinner and a movie date would be perfect. I really just wanted to give myself as small an opportunity to make an idiot of myself as possible. If I could get through dinner, I’d have to shut up during the movie.

“How’s your mom?” I asked her, slightly annoyed at my feeble attempt at small talk.

“She’s much better, thanks. Can you do me a favor and relax? We’ve gone to dinner many times. We’ve seen many movies. Breathe.”

“I know. I’m sorry. You know I’m an idiot. I just want everything to go perfectly.”

“I’m on a date with the one person in the world who knows me better than anybody. It already is.”

With that, she rested her hand on top of mine, which, as always, was on the gear shift. My pulse quickened. I wasn’t expecting that at all. I just tried to concentrate on driving. She had never affected me, though I had always known she was an incredibly beautiful girl. I guess since I had always, until recently, thought of her as my best friend only, I had been immune to it. Now that I was at least exploring what feelings I may have had  for her, I was more attuned to her charms and beauty. Like how cute her little grin is when she’s shocked me in some way. She’s wearing it now. It’s driving me nuts. I really want to kiss her. Never thought I’d say that in a million years. She knows me. She probably knows what I’m thinking right now. I need to say something…

“So how about those Braves? That was a great game last night.”

“Yeah, Mecklenburg pitched a beauty. Can’t believe he carried a nohitter into the 7th against the Cardinals.”

“Yeah, he has absolutely stepped it up this season in a major way. 14-3, started the all-star game. He may carry us to a division title if he stays healthy.”

“It’s a contract year for him. I just hope he sticks around next season.”

“He will. He’s from Marietta, and went to college at UGA. This is home for him.”

At least we were having what was, for us, a perfectly normal conversation. Sports. She loved them almost as much as I did, and she knew what she was talking about. This conversation carried us all the way to dinner. I hadn’t lost the awareness that her hand was still resting on top of mine. She still had that cute little grin on her face, too, and she smelled like a little slice of heaven. Whatever perfume she was wearing, she had never worn before. It was incredible.

We sat in relative silence for a few moments as I drove us to Sal’s, a local Italian joint we frequented and loved.  It had been open for around 40 years; the owner had recently retired, with his son taking over.  The food never disappointed.  When we arrived and got out of the car, Carrie slipped her arm in mine and we walked into the restaurant as such.  I couldn’t help but smile like an idiot when she did that.

Business was pretty slow, and we were seated quickly.  We exchanged small talk over the menus and each ordered a glass of wine.  The wine served to loosen me up.  Conversation flowed, and I was certain that things were going better than I ever dreamed.  I don’t know if it was because we were actually on a date and I was paying more attention to her as a result, or what, but I was noticing things about her I never had before.  Like the way her eyes just sparkled whenever she smiled.  For that matter, I had never noticed how breathtakingly beautiful she was until tonight.  With easy, casual conversation, we finished our dinner and I paid.  When we left the restaurant, she slipped her hand into mine for the walk to the car.  It seemed to be the most natural thing in the world, almost uncanny how her fingers intertwined so perfectly with mine.  When we got to the car, I thought, “why in the world did we wait basically 10 years to do this?”  We left for the movie theater, which was a short drive down the road.  She immediately put her hand back into mine when I started the car.  I pulled it up to my lips and kissed it.  She sighed, a sound I recognized.  It meant she was happy and content.  It completely eased any lingering nervousness I had.  I was really looking forward to kissing her good night.

Just a couple of blocks from the theater, we came to a red light.  I didn’t really mind, as I was basically on cloud nine.  Things were going well.  The light turned green and I went.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get that kiss good night.  I never saw the other car.  At least we kept our pinky-swear.

 

Bowl Season is here!

It’s that glorious day of the year once again when college football’s bowl season begins. We get it started today at 2 with Temple taking on Wyoming in the New Mexico Bowl. I’m going to attempt to pick them all right now. Last year, I got 28 of them correct. Hoping to improve to 30-5 this year. 🙂

Saturday, December 17th

New Mexico Bowl: Wyoming over Temple   15-37 L

Famous Idaho Potato Bowl: Ohio over Utah State 24-23 W

New Orleans Bowl: San Diego State over UL-Lafayette 30-32 L

Tuesday, December 20th

Beef O’Brady’s Bowl: Florida International over Marshall

Wednesday, December 21st

Poinsettia Bowl: #18 TCU over Louisiana Tech

Thursday, December 22nd

Las Vegas Bowl: Arizona State over #7 Boise State

Saturday, December 24th

Hawaii Bowl: #21 Southern Miss over Nevada

Monday, December 26th

Independence Bowl: Missouri over North Carolina

Tuesday, December 27th

Little Caesars Bowl: Purdue over Western Michigan
Belk Bowl: NC State over Louisville

Wednesday, December 28th

Military Bowl: Air Force over Toledo
Holiday Bowl: #24 Texas over California

Thursday, December 29th

Champs Sports Bowl: Notre Dame over #25 Florida State
Alamo Bowl: #12 Baylor over Washington

Friday, December 30th

Armed Forces Bowl: Tulsa over BYU
Pinstripe Bowl: Rutgers over Iowa State
Music City Bowl: Mississippi State over Wake Forest
Insight Bowl: #14 Oklahoma over Iowa

Saturday, December 31st

Texas Bowl: Texas A&M over Northwestern
Sun Bowl: Georgia Tech over Utah
Fight Hunger Bowl: Illinois over UCLA
Liberty Bowl: Cincinnati over Vanderbilt
Peach Bowl: #25 Auburn over Virginia

Monday, January 2nd

Ticketcity Bowl: #22 Penn State over #19 Houston
Gator Bowl: Florida over Ohio State
Outback Bowl: #16 Georgia over #17 Michigan State
Capital One Bowl: #9 South Carolina over #20 Nebraska

Friday, January 6th

Cotton Bowl: #6 Arkansas over #8 Kansas State

Saturday, January 7th

BBVA Compass Bowl: SMU over Pitt

Sunday, January 8th

GoDaddy.com Bowl: Arkansas State over Northern Illinois

BCS BOWLS

Monday, January 2nd

Rose Bowl: #5 Oregon over #10 Wisconsin
Fiesta Bowl: #4 Stanford over #3 Oklahoma State

Tuesday, January 3rd

Sugar Bowl: #13 Michigan over #11 Virginia Tech

Wednesday, January 4th

Orange Bowl: #23 West Virginia over #15 Clemson

Monday, January 9th

BCS CHAMPIONSHIP GAME: #2 Alabama over #1 LSU

If you follow me on Twitter or are my friend on Facebook, you should be certain of 3 things about me:

1) I love Jesus.
2) I love sports, especially college football.
3) I love women.

This weekend was one of the most fun, yet exhausting weekends of my life. It began Saturday at 12. I had seen on Friday that Southern Miss’ moneyline to upset Houston was +415, which to me was very attractive. I believed that they would pull the upset, and immediately did two things: called my Dad and told him this, and then called my bookie and put 50 bucks on the game. Dad knows that I have a knack for calling upsets, and his response was to call his bookie to put a couple hundred on Southern Miss as well. As we know, Southern Miss went on to be victorious.

Up next, was the SECCG. LSU annihilated Georgia, 42-10. Then, we had the final games of the evening. The de facto B12CG between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and the ACCCG between Clemson and Virginia Tech. I’m a big Alabama fan, and I had a suspicion that Oklahoma needed to beat Oklahoma State for them to make the BCSCG. I also wanted Clemson to take care of Tech just to leave the voters no choice but to put Alabama in the game.

OSU took a 10-0 lead after 1. OU has a pretty good team, and I wasn’t too worried. It only got worse from there, however, as the final score was 44-10. Oklahoma State. I was so worried for Alabama’s chances that I did something I haven’t done in 10 months: I had a shot. Of vodka. With Clemson also destroying Va Tech, I was certain Alabama was heading to the Sugar Bowl instead of the BCSCG.

I woke up Sunday morning so unbelievably forlorn and distraught that I didn’t go to church. I knew two things going in: Oklahoma State would take 5 of the computers, and it would come down to the Harris Poll.

Here’s the timeline for the day (I will be using my FB posts as most everything I posted was FB only):

9:38am: I sadly project Alabama as #3 in the BCS

9:45am: Jeff Sagarin updates his computer rankings. Alabama is #2. No surprise. Knew that was coming.

9:56 first known Harris voter publicly reveals he voted Oklahoma State #2

11:12: rumor surfaces: Peter Wolfe’s rankings has Alabama #2.

11:55: I see the email confirming Wolfe’s rankings. Glimmer of hope.

12:00: Richard Massey’s ratings that include margin of victory released. These are not official BCS ratings, but suddenly talk of a split in computers ramps up.

12:17: I finish crunching some numbers, realize Massey will indeed go Oklahoma State.

12:31: Coaches’ Poll released. Alabama is #2, by 32 points. Knowing 2 of the 3 variables to the BCS formula, I begin solving for the other, to see what must happen for Ok State to pass Alabama.

12:38: I finish crunching the numbers, realize Ok State must be #2 in Harris Poll by 5 or more points.

1240: Jerry Palm, CBSSports BCS guru, comes up with the same number I did, above.

12:51: I confirm the votes of 9 more Harris Poll voters. 7-3 Ok State.

1:03: ESPN guy tweets Harris will come out at 2pm ET. This was wrong, as Harris is contractually obligated to hold the vote until ESPNs BCS Selection Show

1:07: I officially project Alabama as the #2 BCS team, based on 34% of Harris voters being in SEC states

1:30: Jerry Palm updates his projection to say Alabama #2

2:16: Brad Edwards, ESPNs BCS guru, projects Alabama #2

2:53: I do a bit more number crunching, announce that, in case Wolfe did not put Alabama #2, Alabama must win Harris vote by 53 points

6:30: Samantha Steele tweeets she’ll be on the sidelines for the Poinsettia Bowl, and TCU is there

6:32: I realize that means the official BCS #s are known, and TCU didn’t crack top 14.

6:33: Michigan to Sugar surfaces.

6:35: Jerry Palm announces sources tell him that the rematch is on, officially.

6:41: Virginia tech to Sugar surfaces.

6:55: I go NUTS AND INSANE WITH JOY.

7:17: I have announced all 5 BCS bowls. We are still an hour away from the BCS Selection Special

8:19: Official BCS Standings revealed. Harris Poll revealed. Alabama won the Harris by 69 points. This means, even if Wolfe and Sagarin computers had gone Ok State’s way, Alabama still would have gone to the BCSCG.

8:35: I smoke a victory cigar.

This may be incredibly boring to you all, but I think the way the day began so bleakly, and then more and more hope forced its way in as the day went on is interesting to read. 🙂

Have a great Monday 🙂

writing

For those of you that follow me on Twitter, you’ve probably noticed that seemingly all of a sudden I’ve been tweeting a lot about writing in general, and specifically about a little something called NaNoWriMo.

What the heck IS this NaNoWriMo, anyway?

It’s November. National Novel Writing Month. Apparently, for a work to be classified officially as a “novel,” it must be at least 50,000 words. The good folks at nanowrimo.org have, for the last several years, ran a “contest.” Always said you wanted to write a book? Do it. 50,000 words. In a month. That’s 1667 words a day. Don’t edit, don’t revise, just write.

There are a few rules, of course. You can plan all you want to beforehand, but the first word cannot be written until November 1st. The work must be fiction.

Here’s the best part about it: no one is going to actually read what you write. You upload your work to, basically, a computer that counts spaces. It gets to 50K, congratulations. You win. A certificate. That you print off yourself. that’s not really what nanowrimo is about. Your reward is that you did it. You finished a novel.

I’ve always kind of wanted to write a book. I’ve had some grand ideas about a story on time travel with a Biblical passage as its starting point. I quickly learned I know nothing about time travel, and it would have taken way too long to do the necessary research to write at all intelligently about time travel. I never even started to write the book. This year, I am determined to “win” nanowrimo. The first idea I had involves a poor guy buying an engagement ring then the girl pre-emptively breaks up with him. This spirals him into a depression before he is ultimately pulled out of it when Miss Right comes along. Not necessarily an original story, but some of the ideas I have had will be fun to write about. Even if no one else is remotely amused or entertained by it. I don’t even know that I’ll let anyone read it.

I was also hit with an idea a couple of days ago that I thought was so interesting that I immediately started writing. I was afraid that if I didn’t at least get something done, by the time nano finished it would be gone. It is a story of a couple on a date. There’s an accident, and one of them dies. Most of the rest of the book is that person’s life flashing before his/her eyes. I actually think this one has more potential than the previous mentioned idea, as I got downright emotional over some scene planning.

It’s funny to me that I’ve been struck with all these ideas lately. Maybe I didn’t mention this earlier, but: I AM NOT A WRITER. Seriously. Read some of my blog posts. It’s all drivel. There’s nothing good in my writing. Nothing good at all. Why in the world do I actually think that I could write a novel in the first place? Much less one that people may be interested in reading?

Happy Halloween, every one. 🙂

It seems obvious to me that the push for 4 16-team “super conferences” has begun. This will completely change the major college football landscape. We’ve seen a 16 team football conference before — the WAC tried it in 1996. It failed. As a result, the Mountain West was born in 1998. This is what we know (some of this happened last year, and it’s not necessarily in the right order).

The Pac-10 began pretty publicly courting Texas to leave the Big 12. They hinted they were willing to leave. Nebraska, fearful they would be the odd man out in the event Texas left and the B12 dissolved, preemptively struck and joined the Big 10 (which, ironically, had 11 members at the time). Colorado, also fearful of the things Nebraska was afraid of (and, as a less attractive school than Nebraska, perhaps more accurately so), also strikes preemptively, and joins the Pac-10. Utah, out of the WAC, also joins the Pac-10, forming the Pac-12, and allowing a conference championship game. This gave the Big 10 12 teams, and therefore a championship game of its own. The Big 12 was reduced to 10 teams, so byebye championship game. (Confused?)

Texas forms the Longhorn Network and starts grandstanding about being “loyal” to the B12. B12 approaches TCU about joining the conference, TCU says no. They end up joining the Big East (giving it 9 members). The Big East starts considering a 10th member.

ACC raids the Big East — again. Pitt and Syracuse bolt the BE. This will give the ACC 14-teams as soon as all the kinks are worked out in this move.

Texas A&M wants in the SEC. They are *seemingly* content stopping at 13 for now. I know they are doing a schedule for 2012 assuming a 13 team league.

What I Think Happened / Is Happening

It is my belief that Texas is the power player here. I think Texas’ talk of leaving the B12 LAST year was just to get Nebraska out of the conference. I think TCU told the B12 yes IFF (not a typo) the Longhorn Network was more or less rechristened as the Big 12 Network. Texas said no. TCU did, too. Bad gambit by them joining the BE, as it will dissolve after all of this. Just can’t see them surviving after Pitt and Syracuse jump ship. Where will Rutgers, WVU, UConn, TCU, Cincinnati, Lousiville, and South Florida end up? Here we go. I know you’ve all been hoping I would list how I think the conferences will shake out.

Pac 16
Arizona
Arizona State
Oregon
Oregon State
Washington
Washington State
California
UCLA
USC
Stanford
Texas
Texas Tech
Oklahoma
Oklahoma State
Utah
Colorado

Southeastern
Alabama
Auburn
Tennessee
Vanderbilt
Florida
Kentucky
Ole Miss
Mississippi State
Arkansas
Georgia
South Carolina
LSU
Texas A&M
Missouri
Kansas
Florida State

Big Ten
Ohio State
Michigan
Michigan State
Nebraska
Indiana
Iowa
Wisconsin
Northwestern
Minnesota
Purdue
Penn State
Illinois
Kansas
Kansas State
Cincinnati
Rutgers

Atlantic Coast
Clemson
Duke
Pitt
Syracuse
North Carolina
NC State
Maryland
Wake Forest
Virginia
Virginia Tech
Miami
South Florida
Georgia Tech
Boston College
Connecticut
West Virginia

Notre Dame remains Independent

Baylor, Iowa State, and TCU get screwed.
As do the Big East non-football schools (Villanova, Marquette, etc)

More to come. This story is VERY fluid.

If I counted everything correctly, I show going 34-5 last week. Not bad.

Thursday, September 8th

#9 Oklahoma State over Arizona

Friday, September 9th

Florida International over Louisville (bit of an upset)
#21 Missouri over Arizona State

Saturday, September 10th

#17 Michigan State over Florida Atlantic
Iowa over Iowa State
Kentucky over Central Michigan
#15 Ohio State over Toledo
San Diego State over Army
#8 Wisconsin over Oregon State
#16 Mississippi State over Auburn
North Carolina over Rutgers
Wake Forest over NC State
Tulsa over Tulane
Tennessee over Cincinnati
Minnesota over New Mexico State
Hawaii over Washington
Colorado over California
Purdue over Rice
#13 Oregon over Nevada
Air Force over #25 TCU — upset alert again!
Virginia Tech over East Carolina
Southern Miss over Marshall
#3 Alabama over #23 Penn State
#6 Stanford over Duke
#12 South Carolina over Georgia
Washington State over UNLV
Temple over Akron
Virginia over Indiana
#22 South Florida over Ball State
Northern Illinois over Kansas
Kent State over UL-Lafayette
Arkansas State over Memphis
#18 Florida over UAB
Navy over Western Kentucky
Georgia Tech over Middle Tennessee
BYU over #24 Texas — upset alert
SMU over UTEP
#14 Arkansas over New Mexico
#10 Nebraska over Fresno State
Houston over North Texas
Vanderbilt over UConn
USC over Utah
Michigan over Notre Dame
Boston College over Central Florida
UCLA over San Jose State

There you are. 🙂

It’s the day before the 2011 college football season starts. the greatest day of the year. I am going to try and pick a winner for every game involving two FBS teams. I don’t care about point spread in these picks, just straight up, who’s going to win. I also don’t really care about a game involving an FBS team against an FCS team.

Thursday, September 1st 6 games

Florida International over North Texas
#11 Wisconsin over UNLV
#20 Mississippi State over Memphis
Syracuse over Wake Forest
Bowling Green over Idaho
Kentucky over Western Kentucky

Friday, September 2nd 1 game

Baylor over #14 TCU — upset alert!

Saturday, September 3rd 29 games

Purdue over Middle Tennessee
#23 Auburn over Utah State
#21 Missouri over Miami (OH)
#18 Ohio State over Akron
Northwestern over Boston College
#2 Alabama over Kent State
Houston over UCLA
Illinois over Arkansas State
Clemson over Troy
#25 USC over Minnesota
#10 Notre Dame over South Florida
Michigan over Western Michigan
#6 Florida State over UL-Monroe
Ole Miss over BYU
Colorado State over New Mexico
Pitt over Buffalo
#12 South Carolina over East Carolina
Indiana over Ball State
Northern Illinois over Army
#9 Oklahoma State over UL-Lafayette
Fresno State over California
#22 Florida over Florida Atlantic
#1 Oklahoma over Tulsa
#4 LSU over #3 Oregon
#19 Georgia over #5 Boise State
Ohio over New Mexico State
Texas over Rice
Southern Miss over Louisiana Tech
Hawaii over Colorado

Sunday, September 4th 2 games

#24 West Virginia over Marshall
#8 Texas A&M over SMU

Monday, September 5th 1 game

Maryland over Miami (FL)

I count 39 games.

hero complex

I have a bit of a hero complex. I think every guy has a bit of one. When someone I care about is hurting, my instinct is to help them somehow. It doesn’t what time it is, or what I’m doing. When I am needed, I am there. Period. If that means flying across the country for no other reason than to give you a shoulder to cry on, fine. I can do that. Need a ride to the airport? Done. Flat tire? I’ll change it. Need a place to crash for a couple of days? Not only are you welcome here but you can sleep in the bed…I’ll take the couch.

Here’s the bad thing about always trying to be the hero..

What happens when I need a hero myself?

sporting events

I am a sports nut. I have had the privilege of witnessing some amazing things live.

I saw the NFL’s all time leading rusher, Emmitt Smith, play in college. The Gators beat Illinois in the mid/late 80s at the All American Bowl in Birmingham. It was my first ever college football game.

I got a high five from Hulk Hogan back in the day. I was probably 6.

I saw the Harlem Globetrotters. That was pretty awesome. I was maybe 8 or so.

I saw my high school win a state championship in basketball my senior year AND GOT ON SPORTSCENTER TO BOOT.

I saw a kid strike out 18 in a little league perfect game. (Yeah, they play 6 innings). A girlfriend’s little brother played on the team that lost.

I saw a kid try a 63 yard fg in high school — doinked the upright. It had the distance.

I saw Michael Jordan play. Baseball. He went 0-4.

I’ve been to the All Star Game and Homerun Derby. Should’ve ended up with a David Ortiz homerun. 😦

When Tim Tebow cried, I was there. It was my first ever Alabama game.

I saw Jason Heyward hit his first career homerun in his first major league at bat.

I saw the Clippers beat the Lakers from 3 feet from the sideline.

I’ve been to (and cried at) the Rose Bowl. Alabama won it’s 13th national championship.

I’ve watched Lebron play as a Cavalier. He only scored 9, but his team won.

Just last night, I saw a manager’s number retired AND perhaps a pitcher’s last pitch.

I guess you could say, I have been blessed. My dream is to see a no-hitter.

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