In My Own Words: Lance Armstrong

Okay, let me set this straight from the get: I’m not writing today through rose-colored glasses with the imagination that Lance Armstrong is an exceptionally great man. I’m not trying to justify his behavior or actions or even trying to be sympathetic. My intention is to give my input on what I think has become a sort of media circus.

In life, we all get wronged by someone at some point one way or the another. We have all been lied to, deceived, disrespected and perhaps even bullied in some way or some how. I’m also willing to bet at one point we have all lied, been deceitful, disrespected someone and perhaps even bullied another person. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think it’s safe to say we all make mistakes. Sure, some are more severe than others, but my whole life I’ve been led to believe it’s a beautiful thing to learn from mistakes.

lance-armstrong-oprah-02_510x299

Image Credit: Oprah Winfrey Network

Back to Lance Armstrong. It seems that everyone in the world, on TV and twitter can’t stop bashing Lance Armstrong. Okay I get it. He doped and cheated and lied and deceived. For several years. He hurt an insurmountable amount of people who were friends, teammates and supporters.

So now Armstrong has reached out to Oprah to confess. In my opinion, it takes swallowing a big pill to be able to face the world and admit you’ve done horrible things and lied to everybody and their mothers about it. However, apparently for those who were wronged by him, the interview is not enough. Well folks, what would be enough? Is there a monetary amount that can make up for the hurt he caused you? Would you prefer a more blatant public apology, a detailed testimony under oath? In my experience, when you get hurt that bad nothing can make it right but time for healing.

Many people over various outlets have faulted Armstrong for the vagueness of his interview. Is it just me or, if someone is at the starting point of trying to make right as a result of his inexcusable actions and doesn’t speak about things because they may cause more hurt to someone, isn’t that a step in the right direction?

Another upsetting part of this whole charade are the people who celebrated and profited from Armstrong over the years. His teammates and sponsors that glorified his triumphs and wins, made millions upon millions of dollars because of his persona. The same people who for years have profited from Armstrong, then demanded he confess, have turned their backs and dismissed his revelation of truth.

I’m also still sitting here wondering how he is single-handedly responsible for all the blame when many others in the sport have doped, cheated and lied. Where is the outrage to hold them accountable? Pot, kettle, black?

And then there was Betsy Andreu’s appearance on Anderson Cooper 360 that really set me over the edge. After the interview she had this to say:

“He owed it to me. You owed it to me, Lance, and you dropped the ball. After what you’ve done to me and what you’ve done to my family, and you couldn’t own up to it?”

Uh, Betsy, were we watching the same interview? Not only did he own up to doping, cheating, lying, bullying and accepted the role as an overall villain in the sport of cycling, but he acknowledged what he did to you and your family as wrong. And I’m sorry, but who appointment you as the person that decides how many chances others have at telling the truth?

I get making an appearance to comment on the interview and give your input, but demanding an apology? Oh dear, I’m afraid no one owes anyone anything in this world. Have you gone this many years harboring that anger and waiting for an apology to make it better? Would you have felt just as wronged if this happened to you, your husband and family with someone who didn’t have the worldwide recognition such as Armstrong’s?

I’m not saying a Oprah interview makes everything better, I’m saying he admitted it and that’s a start. What Armstrong does or doesn’t do isn’t for any of us to judge or decide. Sure, he could have a hidden agenda for finally admitting to his wrong doings, but isn’t that really his prerogative?

As for the people who say it seems as though he has no regret, what good is regret? It doesn’t change things, it stiffens the ability to move forward.

He entertained us for year after year as a cancer survivor and athlete able to achieve the unthinkable. Armstrong was one of those mythical persons ESPN will do a modern-day version of a film documentary of in twenty years. His charitable contributions to fighting cancer and confession to Oprah doesn’t, and won’t, excuse his behavior, but he did the noble thing an told the truth. Albeit a few years and several hurt people later, but he did it.

At the end of the day it’s about forgiveness. You can forgive without forgetting. I won’t forget the actions that have brought Lance Armstrong to the point he’s confessing to Oprah. I won’t forget the string of summers huddled around a TV with my cousins rooting him on during the Tour de France or being proud to wear my yellow Livestrong bracelet when I first received it like it was the trophy of accessories. As a sports enthusiast and eternal optimist, I forgive him. And hopefully those who feel wronged by him can find peace and forgive him, too.

Things to Worry About, Going on Twenty-Nine

Back in March, Letters of Note posted Things to Worry About. I quite enjoy this blog on a regular basis, but this particular day the post stuck with me. Not only was the letter written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, but it was written to his 11-year old daughter on my birthday. Fifty years exactly before my birthday, making it extra special to me.

I find the timing of the letter particularly intriguing and the content equally as meaningful. More often than not I worry about too many things that, in the grand scheme, are a waste to worry about.

So here I sit on my twenty-ninth birthday, seventy-nine years to the day Mr. Fitzgerald wrote to his daughter, and I can’t help but think what better time to relinquish worry and give those efforts towards the pure, simple things in life?

La Paix, Rodgers’ Forge
Towson, Maryland

August 8, 1933

Dear Pie:

I feel very strongly about you doing duty. Would you give me a little more documentation about your reading in French? I am glad you are happy — but I never believe much in happiness. I never believe in misery either. Those are things you see on the stage or the screen or the printed pages, they never really happen to you in life.

All I believe in in life is the rewards for virtue (according to your talents) and the punishments for not fulfilling your duties, which are doubly costly. If there is such a volume in the camp library, will you ask Mrs. Tyson to let you look up a sonnet of Shakespeare’s in which the line occurs “Lillies that fester smell far worse than weeds.”

Have had no thoughts today, life seems composed of getting up a Saturday Evening Post story. I think of you, and always pleasantly; but if you call me “Pappy” again I am going to take the White Cat out and beat his bottom hard, six times for every time you are impertinent. Do you react to that?

I will arrange the camp bill.

Halfwit, I will conclude.

Things to worry about:

Worry about courage
Worry about Cleanliness
Worry about efficiency
Worry about horsemanship
Worry about. . .

Things not to worry about:

Don’t worry about popular opinion
Don’t worry about dolls
Don’t worry about the past
Don’t worry about the future
Don’t worry about growing up
Don’t worry about anybody getting ahead of you
Don’t worry about triumph
Don’t worry about failure unless it comes through your own fault
Don’t worry about mosquitoes
Don’t worry about flies
Don’t worry about insects in general
Don’t worry about parents
Don’t worry about boys
Don’t worry about disappointments
Don’t worry about pleasures
Don’t worry about satisfactions

Things to think about: 

What am I really aiming at?
How good am I really in comparison to my contemporaries in regard to:

(a) Scholarship
(b) Do I really understand about people and am I able to get along with them?
(c) Am I trying to make my body a useful instrument or am I neglecting it?

With dearest love,

Daddy

P.S. My come-back to your calling me Pappy is christening you by the word Egg, which implies that you belong to a very rudimentary state of life and that I could break you up and crack you open at my will and I think it would be a word that would hang on if I ever told it to your contemporaries. “Egg Fitzgerald.” How would you like that to go through life with — “Eggie Fitzgerald” or “Bad Egg Fitzgerald” or any form that might occur to fertile minds? Try it once more and I swear to God I will hang it on you and it will be up to you to shake it off. Why borrow trouble?

Love anyhow.

Here’s to enjoying the rewards for virtue and gracefully accepting the punishments for not fulfilling my duties (which are doubly costly).

Summertime Sadness

There is always that week, in the middle of summer, when everything becomes a little melancholic and the lust for autumn begins. I don’t mind the sweltering heat, poolside cocktails or backyard BBQ’s. In fact, I embrace all these glorious things. It’s just that, well, sometimes it’s tough to enjoy summer when your friends and family are all so far away.

This past week I may or may not have hit the boiling point of summertime sadness. I drove south to the border of Kentucky with every intention of not letting my foot off the gas until I reached Amelia Island, Florida. And then when I stopped for gas I realized I forgot Enzo’s medicine at home. So I drove back. The full two hours. It was not a pretty sight.

It was on that drive I realized I need to embrace these boring days leading to the last month of summer. From a cabin campout with Willie in Brown Country next weekend, the Mid Ohio IndyCar race and finally my birthday, I realized I’m pretty lucky to have such awesome plans in the coming weeks. And when I woke up this morning to a new video from Lana del Rey, appropriately from the track Summertime Sadness.

It must be a sign.

The video is too beautiful not to share and is the perfect song to help get through these dog days of summer. The dresses worn throughout are swoon worthy and I’m sure I’ll spend a bit of time over the weekend in search of the perfect replications. What better way to end summer than twirling around in new dresses and listening to good music with friends?

First Friday Food Truck Festival

Trying saying that three times fast.

This past week I found myself back home in Indy and geared up for my very first  First Friday. I’d heard advertisements on the radio for the First Friday Food Truck Festival (FFFTF) and didn’t have to think twice about my dinner plans for the night. To my surprise all my friends were already planning to go, which sweetened the whole deal for me.

Located in the parking lot of the Old National Center (aka the Murat), admission was the best five dollars I’ve ever spent. There was over thirty food trucks lining the perimeter of the parking lot and corn hole games set-up in the middle. With drink stations featuring Leinenkugel and Oliver Winery ciders sprinkled throughout, this was a summer oasis if I’ve ever seen one.

Despite the insane heat of a mid-summer evening, my friends and I weren’t deterred from trying warm eats from various trucks. The twelve bottles of water we consumed might have helped our cause.  Although I’m craving to try each food truck, especially the ones I always hear raves about, it was the ones I’ve never heard of that really sparked my interest.We frequented five trucks and a popsicle stand before we called it a night. If you plan on attending future FFFTF I would suggest going with friends. It was so fun sharing various foods among the group, sharing our opinions and sampling a bigger variety of foods.

Maybe it was the combination of great company and tasty eats, but FFFTF has me anxious to get back home to Indy for future First Fridays.

Slider Station
Ate: Grandma’s Old Timer, sans mustard and onions
Tweet: @KGSliderStation
Of Note: I really wanted to try the Southern Belle Rosemary Chicken, which was served at the 2012 Superbowl Tailgate, but wasn’t braves enough to have it topped with the sweet-tart Alabama white sauce (which I’ve heard raves about).

Hoosier Fat Daddy
Ate: Tatertot Casserole (yes, you read that right) with ketchup at suggestion of the chef
Tweet: @HoosierFatDaddy
Of Note: Although they are famous for their rib tips, turkey legs, polish sausages and jerk chicken wings, my mind couldn’t get past the tatertot casserole. The display sign showing it on their menu for the night stopped me dead in my tracks. This was, by far, the best thing we tasted all night, and personally, the best thing I’ve tasted in years.

Chuck Wagon Deli
Ate: Turkey Sandwich, with my normal modifications – meats, cheese, mayo, lettuce and tomatoes only
Tweet: @ChuckWagonDeli
Of Note: Of all the food trucks we stopped at, I was most impressed with Chuck Wagon. I have a certain affinity for turkey sandwiches and this one did not disappoint. In fact, I could be one of the top five sandwiches I’ve ever tasted. Upon first bite I could tell the tomatoes were home-grown and freshly sliced and the quality ingredients that made up the rest of it made me sad I agreed to share. The next day it was all I was craving.

In a Pita
Ate: Honey Cinnamon Sugar Pita Bites & Watermelon
Tweet: @inapitaindy
Of Note: The pita chips (not pictured) were almost too hard to bite into, but the little dessert did not disappoint. The portion was large, taste delicious and my friends toted them throughout the night nibbling a bit here and there.

Mac Genie
Ate: Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese
Tweet: @MacGenieTruck
Of Note: Wow. Talk about a plethora of gourmet bites of everyone’s favorite food, this truck lived up to all the hype I’d heard about. We split this three ways, maybe five bites each, and still had enough to take home and share with the neighbors. Come sleet, snow, hail or rain, I would track down the genies through anything to enjoy their delicious, comforting goodness.

Nicey Treat
Ate: Pineapple Basil Popsicle
Tweet: @NiceyTreat
Of Note: Creative flavors, all-natural ingredients and vegan friendly options, this was the last (but definitely not least) stop on our food truck tour. Everywhere we turned people were walking by with amazing looking popsicles. Being somewhat of a popsicle connoisseur and inventor (I’m convinced I was the first to make gatorade popsicles), I was thrilled to find this cute, family ran cart and give it a whirl. My choice was based on my love of the Tiki Room at Disneyland and it did not disappoint. A nice ending to a yummy night.

Side Note:
A challenging part of being a Cincinnati newbie is the lack of information about city events. It’s tough enough to find information about the food trucks here and I’ve never heard of anything like a food truck festival taking place. If you don’t know people who know things, it’s tough to find where to eat and what to do. I’ll admit I’m probably biased about Indy being great providing the public with information about events, but it seems effortless, even for someone who doesn’t live in the city any longer. While hanging out at FFFTF, a nice man informed us about a new website and app, Do317, that provides daily activities city-wide. Genius. Cincinnati, may I please get one of these for the 513?!

Jungle Jim’s

This, good people, is Jungle Jim’s. No, it’s not a water park. It’s a grocery store.

A grocery store paradise. Like an adult Chuck-E-Cheese, without the germ infested balls. No really, they even have the singing animals stationed throughout.

While I’ve wanted to visit this superstore for months, it was not until H’s recent infatuation with exotic martini’s I had an actual need to go there. No sooner did I get a text about a certain Habanero citrus olive H sampled at Jungle Jim’s inspiring a martini, a date was set to see Spiderman followed by a much-anticipated trip to the store.

Not in my wildest dreams would I imagine a grocery store as all-encompassing and meticulously organized like JJ’s is. It’s as though foods from around the world are curated like a museum full of fine works of art. For a first time visitor, I would’ve been completely overwhelmed if not for H’s expert navigation skills (he’s been frequenting the place since high school).

Our first stop was, obviously, the olive bar. There were so many varieties I could hardly believe my eyes. While H bartered with the olive expert for extra brine to use in the martinis, they both badgered me to try these newly famous olives. I know better than trying new foods in public so I took a pass, promising I might try some in the car (I did not).

From there H led me to my version of heaven: the cheese section. A seven thousand-something pound block of cheese greeted us, with a sampling station right in front. Aged English cheddar, don’t mind if I do. What’s that you say, cheese sample lady, only $1.99? We’ll take one! The cheese section was off to a far better start than the olive bar. H led me around a regular grocery store length refrigerator, double-sided, of all the cheese separated by country. While I wouldn’t mind traveling the entire globe by way of cheese, the cute shaped cheddar was the standout for me.

Brioche bread, no problem. Lavender for cooking…would you like a dried version or the liquid simple-syrup variety? Any and every food I’ve cursed Kroger for not carrying have gathered  at JJ’s, all at very reasonable prices. I mean really, a pig’s head? Only eleven bucks. Chuckles and stares of disbelief were complimentary.

Just when I thought I couldn’t be happier, smack dab in the middle of the candy section, a pressed penny machine appeared! I started to collect pressed pennies several years ago and the fact I could commemorate such a fantastic grocery store experience sent me to cloud nine. I was so overjoyed by my new pressed penny, it wasn’t until we were leaving did I realize the singing animal behind the machine was a bear dressed as Elvis, whose quirky memorabilia is the other thing I enjoy collecting.

I pride myself in my Randy McNally-like sense of direction. At one point I didn’t know which way was up. I felt like we kept making left turns, but somehow ending up in another enchanting section. The moment I knew I had no clue how we ended up where we were a dessert table caught my eye and I found myself among an entire gluten-free section. There were gluten-free foods I didn’t know could be gluten-free. Even more fantastic was the fact the dairy free section was right across the way. This has jumped up to the number one tourist spot to bring my parents when they visit, as my dad is both gluten and dairy free. Something tells me they will be shipping a box of goodies home.

For those who know me well, it might come as a shock that I couldn’t even find time to wrap my mind around the perfectly spaced wine wonderland, which is right next to a coffee plantation, cigar humidor, and award-winning restrooms. And by restrooms I really mean meticulously decorated porta potties you could take your photo in. When I asked H if we could snap a souvenir photo he quickly reminded me we weren’t tourists. Before I had time to blink, he was leading me to the next section.

Our trip to Jungle Jim’s is what I could consider a whirlwind vacation. A nice, exotic escape from the normal everyday grocery stores that are more concerned with trying to lure customers in by bogus fuel perks than providing exceptional, quality ingredients. While we left with only a handful of goodies, I’m anticipating our next trip when I live closer and can stock up on necessities. The perfect ending to our afternoon was enjoying the sparkling lavender lemonade’s we picked up while chatting and basking in the sunshine.

Thinspiration Thursday: Kate Upton for GQ

For me, trying to find motivation to work out everyday is an uphill battle. When we get to the end of the week, with the anticipation of the weekend building, my inspiration goes from zero to negative ten. This week I’ve made a commitment to myself to actively take fitness seriously. You know, instead of getting dressed to run and watching my backed up DVR in workout gear, actually leaving the house and doing some sort of physical activity.

I’m not one to pay for working out. Of all the things to spend money on, a gym membership or fitness class fad just doesn’t excite me. Plus, why would I give other people money when I can run outside in my apartment gym for free? Sure it’s no Lifetime Fitness, but it has a working treadmill and air conditioning, which is perfect to me.

Since my problem doesn’t lie with lack to opportunity to workout, rather than lack of self motivation to do so, I’ve been searching for daily inspiration to keep me going. Scouring the internets, I find myself vigorously pinning different charts, routines and words of encouragement. (H if you are reading this, your encouragement is awesome and I appreciate it, but…) I need to visually see what the fruit of my labor can be. When I stumbled upon this video of Kate Upton for GQ it’s like I hit the holy grail of motivation. Why yes, I absolutely will run for an hour without complaint after seeing Miss Upton strut her – ahem – stuff. I believe, my friends, this is what we call “thinspiration.”

Mad About Megan Draper

I feel like we waited years for the new season of Mad Men to start and now it’s over in a blink of an eye. Where did the time go?! With tonight’s season finale looming closer, I’ve found myself getting sad at the thought of not getting my weekly dose of Megan Draper.

Let’s face it, Megan Draper’s got it going on. First and foremost, she hates orange sherbet. You have to like her for this, if for no other reason. I mean really, who would settle for orange sherbet when you can have rainbow sherbet?

Speaking of her taste in food, have you noticed she always makes noodles for dinner and keeps the sauce on the side? As a big non-lover of sauce I greatly appreciate that. If there was one person whose dinner party I could attend, you could bet your last dollar it would be Megan Drapers.

She kicks major booty in her professional life, too. Her ladylike charm and smart business sense helped her to land the Heinz ketchup account during a pitch over dinner when Mr. Heinz ketchup himself was going to break-up with Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Unlike some other characters on the show, she doesn’t have to sleep with potential clients to land accounts, she’s all brains and guts. The best part? When she is successful at work she is humble.

Megan Draper is just cool. Her style is enviable. She’s elegant, intelligent, witty and classy without it seeming forced.  She takes the high road, stands up for what she believes and just makes me want to be like her. Or at least her best friend. Oh Megan Draper, please stay so awesome next season, too. I’m counting on you not to disappoint.

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