Every Four Years

Every four years the world comes together to dance, cheer (and this year, blow on their vuvuzelas) and watch soccer. While the matches are fun to watch, the nationalism and pride displayed is usually just as entertaining. Last Wednesday I took a break to watch the U.S. tie Slovenia in an exciting game. I spent the morning with a colleague from work at an Irish pub in Manhattan. What an atmosphere! I was high-fiving guys in business suits that I have never met before and will never see again. In that moment, when the U.S. tied up the game, it doesn’t matter where I was from, what my last name was or where I worked. I was an American cheering for Team U.S.A. and that is all that mattered.

In cheering for the U.S. last week, I was brought back to the 2002 World Cup when I was in college in Hawaii. It’s one thing to watch a good match between, say, South Korea and Ghana, but it’s another experience to watch that same match with people from South Korea and Ghana. It was an incredible experience given the extremely international environment I was in at the time. Each night I would get together with a group of guys at 10:00 pm in the dorm lounge and stay up late into the night watching matches. As we sat there and watched, cheered and bonded, national pride was displayed from countries around the world. It was truly a once in a lifetime event (until I can one day attend the World Cup). Go USA.

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Hawaiian Memories

I recently watched a show where the final scene took place in Hawaii. At that moment, sitting in my couch at home, I missed Hawaii. Although I spent a relatively short period of time on Oahu, a part if me will forever appreciate and respect the beauty of the islands, the people, the culture and the overall lifestyle. I may never have a chance to live in Hawaii again, but I will not forget my three years there. My time as a student in Hawaii was some of the best of my life – I was in college, enjoying life with friends and had a bright future ahead of me. I also had the natural beauty of Hawaii everywhere I looked. If I had to choose, I would live near the ocean over the mountains any day. My wife feels exactly the opposite. She’s a mountain girl. I don’t profess to be a good swimmer or surfer or anything of the sort, but I do love the ocean, its vastness and its power. And occasionally, if the temperature is just right, I can close my eyes, sit back and be transported again to the North Shore of Oahu, where, at night, when the town had quieted down, I could hear the waves coming in on the shore. It was a magical place that I will never forget. Choosing to stay in Hawaii for the duration I did after considering leaving was one of the best decisions of my life. And because of that, I find myself missing my life there at times.

A Tribute to Ken Griffey Jr.

There was a time when baseball was a big part of my life. I remember being in fifth grade in suburban Seattle. The talk of the town centered on The Kid, the Mariners’ 18 year old rookie outfielder Ken Griffey Jr. Following in his father’s footsteps as a major league baseball player, Griffey Jr. entered the scene with the expectations of a city on his shoulders. I was a fan immediately. When my dad and I discovered he would be signing autographs for the public one day, he took me to join the throngs of people in line to meet Griffey Jr. For whatever reason that day he showed up late and I was too far back in line to make it to his table before he had to leave. When we left, I was without his autograph and a disappointed. As was my dad. He couldn’t believe that a role model (back when athletes could be considered role models) could be so arrogant to not have the decency to show up on time or finish the task at hand. He put his thoughts in a letter and mailed it to the Seattle Mariners (how did people obtain information in the pre-Internet era?). Lo and behold, a few weeks later a poster of Ken Griffey Jr. personally autographed by him shows up on our door step. I was proud to own that poster and hung it in my room for years afterwards.

When I moved out of the house at the age of 18 I gave the poster to my younger brother, who swears he has no idea where it is now. It truly is a shame. As Ken Griffey Jr. announced his retirement this week from the same team where his career started 22 years ago, I am reminded of a baseball player for the record books, a home run slugger that was never once implicated in the steroid scandal. A baseball player that stopped to sign a poster and respond to a letter twenty years ago. Thanks, Ken, for the poster and thanks for the baseball memories.

OBX, NC

Two weeks ago I spent a week in the Outer Banks, North Carolina for the first time with family and friends. After living in Hawaii for three years, I am usually skeptical of visiting beaches on the mainland’s coast. But I was pleasantly surprised. It was no Sunset Beach on the North Shore, but the coast was fairly clear of debris and the sand was decent. It turned out to be a great place to pick shells and rocks that the waves have shaped to smooth perfection. As I spent time walking along the shore I was reminded of how I prefer the ocean to the mountains. My wife’s the opposite. But I would go for a beach house before I would go for a mountain lodge any day. Not that I’m a big ocean sports guy – I’m not. But I enjoy the sound of the waves as they crash along the shore, beating as the pulse of Mother Earth. I enjoy the sunsets, the smell, the sand beneath my feet and the idea that the vast openness appearing before me as I look out from the shore leads to new lands across the world. Given a choice, I prefer the ocean.

While on the Outer Banks we visited Roanoke Island, a National Park commemorating the first English colony in the New World. Who knew that more than 20 years prior to Jamestown there was a protected island off of North Carolina that the English used to try to establish a presence in America. When you visit the Park you quickly learn that it didn’t go so well for these colonists and the . But I’ll let you read about it here.

Another first for me – a speeding ticket. Yup, the first one I’ve ever received. Apparently New York driving doesn’t go down so well on the state highways of North Carolina. I learned the hard way.