A Magical Season So Far

It’s not easy being a fan.

Fans rally around their chosen sports teams, cheering them on from near and far, unable to affect the outcome of a game, often left despondent by a win that slipped through their very fingers.

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Wishing my Phone would Ring

I never thought I’d be this way.

Irritable. Scatter-brained.

I could blame it on lack of sleep, and that would be true.

I could blame it on this seemingly unending heat. True, also.

But digging deeper, I find the real source of my mood.

It’s Domer.

My darling son. He who is the apple of my eye.

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How do I Save these Items?

In the midst of the hubbub my life has become, I’m trying to finish My Favorite Domer’s senior year Memory Book before he takes off for The Working World.

My consolation is that this task is almost done, and if he wants any more memory books, he’ll have to compile them for himself!

Still, it’s been a labor of love. And I enjoy reliving with him those precious memories.

Now some things are fairly easy to preserve, even for a non-scrapbooker like me.

Things like ticket stubs. Photos. Boarding passes. Notes and letters. Football schedules with game results. Programs from award ceremonies.

But it’s the odd-shaped things that have me stumped.

And if anybody has realistic suggestions on how to preserve them, please let me know!

Need an example? How about this:

Band hat

Band hat

How do you save a Band hat? Don’t ask me Why he needs it, or Why the Band parted with it. It is what it is — a memory. And just looking at it, I get teary-eyed. All those football games, Bowl games, marchouts, friends. He’s not parting with this, and that’s that!

Or this:

Leprechaun Legion hat

Leprechaun Legion hat

Domer got this as part of the basketball pep band one year, and it’s never left. It’s a huge, foam, green hat with a gold shamrock on one side. Leprechaun Legion, by the way, is the student fan section at athletic events.

Does he need it? Will he ever wear it again? Probably not. But we’re not getting rid of it, either.

Or how about these:



Domer got these “Mardi Gras beads” during the women’s basketball trip to New Orleans for the Final Four tournament. You probably can’t tell, but the gold “beads” are actually small basketballs. Cute, huh?

I have no idea how to preserve something like this. Perhaps he can simply hang them on a doorknob and recall the fun he and his Band buddies had, eating jambalaya and beignets, hoisting a tall cool one, and watching basketball.

Or what about this:



We’ve got the tassel preserved in a photo frame with his picture, but this hat is a bit cumbersome. What does one do with a used mortarboard?

But the best of the lot is this thing:

Horse mask

Horse mask

A horse mask?? Seriously? I’m supposed to save this?

Absolutely, he says. We had all kinds of fun wearing this thing. It was worth every penny!

You paid good money for a horse mask?

Sure, I did. And I’d do it again, too.

Well, okay, but even Dallas seems to think there’s something amiss with a horse in his living room:

Dallas and the horse

Dallas and the horse

Commencement Wrapup

Commencement Weekend at the University of Notre Dame has come and gone, and I’m left with the following observations:

1) Nobody does Mass better than ND. This weekend was Pentecost Sunday, the birthday of the Church, and we had no less than 40 red-robed priests (plus two bishops) on the altar for the celebration!

2) Nobody does food better than the ND Food Services staff. Our Friday feast featured chef-carved beef, chicken, tilapia, and a dessert bar topped with a “2013” ice sculpture. On Saturday, they fed us grilled steak, chicken, shrimp, and made an elaborate display of round, two-layered white cakes with frosting — one for each family to enjoy!

3) Nobody offers better music than ND. Volunteers from the ND Band (minus the seniors) played at most events. And no, I didn’t do much more than tear up at “Pomp and Circumstance,” the Alma Mater, and the ND Victory March, so my desensitization helped!

4) Nobody offers more guidelines (that people don’t pay attention to) than ND. I was told no umbrellas or wide-brimmed hats that might interfere with people’s vision. I obeyed, but others did not. I was told to respect others’ views of the proceedings. I obeyed, but one woman stood right in front of me minutes before my son was to cross the stage to accept his diploma. When I politely reminded her, “I can’t see,” she jumped all over me, arguing that somebody was taking a photo with a camera phone and she didn’t want to block that. Obviously, it never crossed her mind to go behind the photographer, rather than block my view!

5) Nobody does unpredictable weather better than South Bend. Here I was, worried over cold and rain, when Sunday dawned brilliantly sunny and temps climbed to almost 90 degrees by afternoon. Good thing I remembered sunscreen!

I know some of you are also interested in what people were wearing. Comfort, indeed, was the better part of wisdom. And there were so many people milling around that I probably could’ve worn a grocery sack and not stood out!

In fact, I saw all manner of dress:

  • Men in khaki shorts
  • Men in flip flops and deck shoes
  • Men wearing suits and ties
  • Men wearing blue jeans
  • Men wearing Polo shirts
  • Women teetering on sky-high spike heels
  • Women in cowboy boots
  • Women wearing dressy sandals or flip flops
  • Nobody wearing pantyhose
  • Women wearing lace
  • Women wearing sundresses, long and short
  • Women wearing slacks and jackets
  • Infants in carriers
  • People in wheelchairs or on canes
  • People speaking English or their native tongue
  • People wearing sunglasses and ND ball caps

Me? For Saturday’s Mass, I wore a knee-length black pencil skirt with a black and white polka-dotted peplum jacket. On Sunday, I chose a pair of dress black slacks, a black and white jacket with blue-green flowers, and a matching blue-green knit shell.

It was a great celebration, but I’m glad the hoopla is over.

(I’m “going dark” for a week or so while I do some celebratory stuff with my son. Intrigued? Good, I love a mystery! I’ll post more when I get back. Love to ALL!)

“Commencement” really is a Beginning

Playing right now: “Pomp and Circumstance” by Sir Edward Elgar

When I was in high school, our band played “Pomp and Circumstance” while the seniors were marching into and out of the gym for graduation.

It was a tradition, one we eagerly embraced. As we embraced our new (higher!) chair positions without our “leaders.”

A week was set aside to practice. The seniors would walk in as we played; they’d listen as their names were read aloud, then they’d walk back out as we played again.

Over and over until it was right.

So by graduation evening, it was old hat. It never crossed my mind to cry.

Nor did I cry when I was the graduating senior (eager, I recall, to get out of Dodge!)

By the time my son (AKA My Favorite Domer) graduated from high school — Class of 2009 — they’d chosen a prerecorded version of “Pomp and Circumstance” to accompany the seniors’ processional.

Call me old-fashioned, but I liked it better when the band played. Squeaks and wrong notes and all.

So I didn’t cry at Domer’s high school graduation.

But now, he’s completed his final, final exam, marking the end of his four-year stint at Notre Dame, and Commencement is right around the corner.

And I feel weepy.

I’m going to miss ND more than Domer will because, after all, it’s “home” to him. He’ll be back for football games, reunions, and such.

I, on the other hand, won’t have a reason to go back without him there.

The other day I was in the car when “Pomp and Circumstance” — the long version — played on Sirius radio, and I couldn’t help myself.

The tears just started flowing.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be emotional when Domer walks across that stage to accept his diploma. So I’ve decided to desensitize by listening to “Pomp” every chance I get.

And it’s helping.

When I left for college, my late dad termed it a “four-year paid vacation.”

Not so. I worked too hard.

Stayed up late too often studying. Involved myself in a gazillion activities. Reported for the campus newspaper. Had a scholarship to the Band.

Yes, I had fun. But not “vacation” fun.

Domer wouldn’t call his four years a “vacation,” either.

For the first time in his life, he’s been surrounded with young people just like him.

Bright. Talented. Big-hearted. Idealistic.

Kids who are athletic. Musical. Scholars. Volunteers.

Kids who recognize that they’ve been given many advantages and “To whom much is given, much is expected in return.” (Luke 12:48)

I predict good things for the Class of 2013.

Now, if I can just get past the Alma Mater. . . .!

Love Thee, Notre Dame

What is it about the University of Notre Dame that evokes such passion?

People who love Our Lady’s University and those who abhor it can rest assured they share one thing — they aren’t sitting on the fence.

I graduated from a state school (Ole Miss — Hotty Toddy!!), so I know about rivals. We had our share of them, and we knew they “hated” us as much as we “hated” them.

But our SEC Conference was the uniting force.

If one of our rivals was playing a football bowl game against a team outside the SEC, why, we’d up and root for our rivals. We wouldn’t necessarily like it, but we’d do it.

Probably because Home and Family are strong concepts in the South.

Kind of like your momma telling you not to make fun of crazy Aunt Lulu behind her back because she’s family and Family Sticks Together.

Notre Dame has long prided itself on its independence. The drawback, of course, is independence equates separateness.

And for many who hate ND, separateness equates aloofness. Haughtiness. Exclusivity.

Anyway, I was poking around Twitter the other evening, the same day as ND former linebacker Manti Te’o held a news conference in Indianapolis. To further explain how he was a victim of “catfishing.”

And the media had a heyday with it. So did Twitter users.

Frankly, I was embarrassed by many of the comments.

What is it about a football player, a 21-year-old kid, that draws such rage? Such hatred?

I guess none of the tweeters had ever made a mistake. Done something that in retrospect they’d have done differently. ‘Fessed up earlier and taken their licks then.

Perhaps it’s the anonymity of the Internet that lures folks to strike out against others, to leave biting, cruel remarks without regard to the consequences.

Don’t they know the Internet is forever? That all their comments can be rounded up and will paint a picture of just who they really are? That someone they’re trying to impress — a potential employer or that cute girl in their Botany class — might just cast them aside when their true colors are revealed?

So while I understand rivalries on the athletic field, I guess I’ll never understand meanness. Hatred. Pettiness.

Or how trying to bring someone else low somehow elevates you.

It doesn’t. Never has, never will.

What to Wear??

It’s months off, but I’m already starting to stress over what to wear to My Favorite Domer’s Commencement.

This tear-filled occasion celebration falls in May. The weather, I hope, will be clear, sunny, calm, and warm.

But I’m not counting on it. After all, we’re talking South Bend.

Home of PermaCloud. And bucket loads of snow, thanks to something called the “lake effect.” And gale-force winds with thunderstorms.

A few years have passed (well, okay, more than a few!) since I was the college grad. It was hot but sunny. I wore a dress.

If I didn’t have pictures to mark the event, I wouldn’t remember that my dad wore a suit; my mom, a dress.

I haven’t a clue what other parents wore.

Now that I’m the mom, I know how important it is not to embarrass your kid in public.

Certainly NOT at his Commencement!

So I’ve been scouting online forums to determine what’s “proper” attire for such a momentous occasion.

Here’s what I’m finding:

  • Parents should dress nice.

What’s nice? I wear jeans just about every day, and they look nice. But something tells me they won’t fly for a commencement.

  • Parents should dress as if they’re going to Church.

Oh, no, don’t get me started on that! I’m Catholic, remember, and we believe dressing for church is pretentious. So we wear jeans, sweat pants, T-shirts, cowboy boots, shorts, you-name-it. Priests have long complained, but their complaints fall on deaf ears. I think they secretly fear that if they complain too loud and often, nobody will show up at all!

  • Parents (especially moms) should wear comfortable shoes.

Really? Isn’t “comfort” relative? I mean, my Nikes are comfortable; so are my moccasins. But they wouldn’t be appropriate at a commencement, would they?

  • Parents shouldn’t dress in a risque’ manner.

Well, okay, that one I get. No plunging necklines, no slit-up-to-here, no see-through anything. Perfectly doable.

  • Parents should be mindful of the surroundings. Long sleeves for indoor ceremonies; sunscreen and hats for outside.

Right. I can already see me sitting in a summer frock atop Notre Dame Stadium, wearing a baseball cap and shades, snuggled beneath a plastic rain poncho, and warming my bunny-slippered feet with my heavy winter coat!

That about covers all bases, don’t you think?

P.S. Seriously, if anybody reading this has any concrete, viable suggestions for taming the “Battle with the Closet” for Commencement, I’m all ears!

Thoughts about Manti

I’ve run into a lot of folks lately who are interested in my take on the Manti Te’o story.

You’ll recall he’s the Notre Dame linebacker and All-American who:

  1. Concocted (with or without help) a story about his girlfriend dying on the same day as his grandmother, or
  2. Was the victim of an elaborate scheme (by one or several people for as-yet-known reasons) that convinced him there was such a girlfriend in the first place, or
  3. Some combination of the above.

The truth is, we don’t know the full story — and might never know it. Suffice it to say, Manti’s “tragedy” spurred the Fighting Irish football team to rack up 12 victories, a perfect season, and earn their first appearance in a National Championship game since 1988.

Manti has chosen to tell his version of the story to Katie Couric on Thursday, so you’ll have to determine for yourselves his credibility. In the meantime, I offer the following thoughts:

  • We ALL bought into this story in the first place, encouraged by an over-zealous media (what became of fact-checking??) at a time when we were eager for a feel-good story, a hero. Tired of negative campaign ads, aggravated by politicians interested only in feathering their nests, worried and fearful over worsening economic conditions, we were ripe for such a story.
  • This is a college athlete. Sure, he’s been blessed with amazing talent and leadership skills, but he’s a 21-year-old kid, susceptible as all of us were, to flattery, tall tales, pranks, and poor advice from folks he trusts. And he’s grown up in the Internet Age, accustomed to meeting and befriending and trusting strangers online.
  • We must do a better job of teaching morals — right from wrong. Every religion in the world follows a moral code, so this isn’t peculiar of Catholicism. But do we really follow a code? Do we breathe it and live it? Do we pass it on to our children? Do we expect our leaders — government and business, in particular — to follow it, and do we hold them accountable when they don’t? Or do we turn a blind eye, then moan about school shootings, aborted babies, jobs going overseas, and other ills of society?

You know, we’re taught that a person is presumed innocent until he’s been proven guilty in a court of law. But how many of us have already indicted, tried, and convicted Manti?

I think we’re angry over this story because we feel duped. Misled. Cheated. Our hero toppled off the pedestal we put him on, proving once again that he, too, is merely human.

But, depending on how this story is spun, he could very well go down in history as another football legend — someone bigger than life.

Time will tell.

Irish Lose to ‘Bama

Frankly, I’m stunned.

Anybody who watched the ‘Bama Crimson Tide roll completely over the ND Fighting Irish during last night’s BCS national championship game knows what I mean.

‘Bama, as usual, brought its “A” game. The Irish, sadly, failed to show up at all, leading to an ugly 42-14 trouncing.

The analysts and nay-sayers will have a field day with this one.

They’ll be quick to point out that the Irish — long a holdout on joining a football conference — didn’t face an opponent of merit all season long, thus earning them a perfect 12-0 season. But that disses the Irish’s worthy opponents, most of whom went on to post-season play, where many emerged victorious.

The pundits also will say the SEC has long been a dominant force in college football, and the Irish can’t compete with their size, conditioning, and power. But tell that to the Irish’s seven Heisman Trophy winners, 44 College Football Hall of Famers, 188 First-Team All-Americans, and 471 NFL draft picks (all figures which out-distance ‘Bama by a sizable margin).

In any competition, there’s a winner and there’s a loser (or rather, a non-winner). There are no losers on this Irish team.

They might have lost one football game (albeit an important one). They might have disappointed themselves and thousands of fans. They certainly put a black mark on their perfect record, having not lost a game since the 2011 bowl matchup against Florida State.

But they’re far from losers.

According to Forbes, just being in a BCS bowl game this season earns ND $6.2 million!

And ESPN statistics show the Irish graduate 97 percent of its football players, while the Tide’s graduation rate is 75 percent.

This football team, by any measurement, is special. They attend Mass on game days (and have since the 1920s or thereabouts). There’s a team prayer in the locker room before games. There’s genuine heart for helping others.

Eventually, the pain of not winning this one game will ease. Eventually, the Irish Nation will move forward, looking to a new season with hope and optimism. Eventually, this group of seniors will graduate, and many will move on to NFL or other professional careers.

But today, Irish eyes sure aren’t smiling.