When Mark e-mailed me saying he wanted to have our next small group party at the Sounders game, I was a bit hesitant. I can still remember learning about soccer in my 6th grade PE class and not really feeling it. Since then, my apathy for the sport has remained stagnant though the years. To be frank, I was a bit shocked that the slight change of name from Sounders to Sounders F.C. would breed such a huge following to the sport and it was something I couldn’t really understand. At all.
Well, the second we sat down on the bleachers at the Starfire Sports Center last night, I finally got it. The outdoor stadium bleachers were packed with fanatics and where there was empty space you could bet on a Sounders scarf laying there to reserve their spot. All of the things I love about normal sporting events were missing but that was just fine. No “beerman,” no guy half asleep sitting in the nosebleed section by himself, and not a single foam finger. The announcer didn’t have a big booming voice and only spoke when necessary. It was all about the soccer. No frills or fireworks. The players came out and waved to the fans clapping for us as we were clapping for them. From the moment the clock started I couldn’t take my eyes off the game. As previously stated, before last night, my knowledge of soccer extended to what I learned in 6th grade in Mr. Lakin’s class. But I understood the basic principle. Get ball into goal. When any type of foul call was made against a Sounder, the resounding sound of “booo” was everywhere with the occasional “hey stripes! Are we watching the same game!?” I loved every second though. The passion these people had inspired me. I also found the game itself exhilarating. You really can’t take your eyes off the game for a second. The Dynamo’s scored early in the first half and things were looking a bit grim with less than two minutes left in the game. The little mother in me thought, it’s okay, at least they tried their hardest and look how far they came, while the competitor in me was on the verge of tears from frustration. Multiple attempts were made at the goal, but none of them ever went in. As the game seemed to be finishing up, you could feel the desperation in the stands. At this point, everyone was on their feet and leaning forward in anticipation for a miracle. And then it happened. Goal. A sweet sweet goal was made by Nate Jaqua who spent nearly the entire game with a bandage wrapped around his head from a gash he received in the first ten minutes. Once the goal was made the only thing you could hear was screaming. No words, no pauses, just screaming. Puffs of blue and green smoke filled the air and the smell of gunpowder smelled like a comeback. Since it was the semi-final game, this meant overtime. The outdoor stadium lights exploded on the field and it was time to play. The game hadn’t been going on for that long when out of nowhere, miracle #2 and this time from Stephen King. The screaming commenced again, but not for too long. The acuity was felt from both sides. For the rest of overtime Houston couldn’t muster up enough power to score. Victory. Sweet, sweet victory was ours. It was the kind of game movies try and capture.
I can’t imagine a better soccer game in the history of soccer games, which leads me to believe I was witness to one of the greatest games in sports history.
When it’s us versus them, you can always count on me
When it’s us versus them, it’s a Sounders unity
On Friday night I had dinner and a movie with my dear friend Krysta. When I got home, I was pooped in general from a long week and I had just softly wept for a solid 90 minutes while watching My Sister’s Keeper. After getting into my jammies, I made my way over to the couch and turned Gatsby on. Gatsby is my Mac whom I’ve had since my senior year of college. I was doing my usual facebook thang, when all of a sudden, he froze. This is not unusual for him, so I did my typical swirl finger on the touch pad, spacebar twice and wait… Nothing. No worries, step two. Swirl, swirl, spacebar twice, adjust the screen back and forth and click randomly on the screen… Nothing. Still, no worries. Step three. Ctrl, apple, delete… nothing. Step four. Force shut down. So I turned him off. I turned Gatsby back on, and after waiting a few minutes the blue start-up screen was still “thinking”… I could feel the pit of panic in my stomach start to expand. Then, what all Mac users dread started blinking on my screen. A gray folder with a question mark aka the blue screen of death. I then noticed Gatsby started making this unusual ticking noise… Being the cool and collected person I am, I automatically jumped to the conclusion that someone broke into my house, hacked into Gatsby and planted a bomb inside. You think I’m just being funny, but I honestly thought my life was in danger. Well, after reasoning with the voices in my head I knew that it probably wasn’t a bomb, but most likely had something to do with my hard drive. I called Heather and told her what had happened and we both knew Gatsby was toast. Surprisingly, I wasn’t that sad once I knew he was unsalvageable. I mean, of course it saddened me to know that I lost all of my photos, music, college papers, etc. But I’ll live. Now, it was figuring out what to do with him since he was hanging onto life by a single megabyte. We made our way to the Genius Bar at the U-Village last night and I was prepared to replace him for a $700 PC. I poked around the Mac store while waiting for my turn at the bar and knew there was no way I could afford to get a new Mac, no matter how pretty and shiny they were. Barry called us up and I told him what was going on. With an empathetic look, he said “yeah… it sounds like he’s shot. You’ll need to get a new hard drive.” I started talking with God saying, okay… if it’s less than $500, then I’ll do it, but if it’s more, then I’ll just buy a new computer. I asked Barry how much it was going to cost and he said $99. I was floored. Before he could change his mind, I told him to ring me up. Then Barry said, “Oh. wait a minute… let me look something up.,,” The catch. I knew it. “Actually, the hard drive isn’t $99… it’s FREE.” Free?! Could it get any better? “Oh, and you know what… I can upgrade your hard drive to a 20 gig since your other one was smaller. I know your warranty is expired, but this was a bad hard drive, so it’s free.” I guess it can get better! Can you even believe it!? I was so happy, I could have floated out of the store. Definitely one of the highlights of my year. From this experience, my allegiance will now forever be to Macs. Moral of the story: God is faithful. Lately I have been stressed about money and when Gatsby died, I was like “really God?… really?” But of course, God was faithful… like always.
I woke up one day a couple months back and felt like something was missing. This wasn’t a did I forget to eat last night (we’ve all had that feeling), it was more like this thing I’ve always had inside of me was missing. For a while, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong. I don’t usually get these feelings. I am usually very aware of how I’m feeling and identifying what’s wrong… sometimes to a fault. Anyways, I shrugged it off and went about the day.
This feeling of emptiness became more ubiquitous as the days went on and then one day someone asked me if I was excited about grad school. Problem located. I realized the thing that was missing was my desire to go to grad school and become a teacher. (I have wanted to be a teacher since fifth grade) Naturally, I assumed it was a phase, ignored the feelings and responded that I was very excited about grad school and couldn’t wait to teach. These feelings started surfacing in everything I would do. I would eat a sandwich and think, I like sandwiches. Speaking of sandwiches, do I really want to go to grad school? Well, I started praying about it and the mild feelings of emptiness started to grow into something a bit more serious. I started to slowly tell people close to me and after the initial shock, not going to grad school seemed to make more and more sense. I then decided to tell my mom which terrified me. The approval of my parents has driven many of the decisions I have made in my life. They have always been huge advocates for higher education, and have pushed my siblings and I academically. However, to my complete shock, the madre was also extremely supportive which made me even more confused. I also made a mental pros and cons list of becoming a teacher. Once I realized the cons far outweighed the pros, I felt very stuck. I started to diligently pray about it and wasn’t really receiving a red or green light from God. Well then my dear friend Christina prayed for me while I was at a church conference in Carbondale, IL and as she prayed for clarity I thought this was an opportune time to ask God His thoughts on grad school again. This time I could clearly hear God say “don’t go.” I knew there was just one last thing to do. I had to run it by my small group leader Mark and his wife Heather. Mark is an amazing guy and happens to be married to my best friend Heather. The chat was great and they were both very supportive of my decision. So, no grad school for Jess.
Well, that’s that. For the first time since fifth grade, I don’t know what I want to do with my life. Isn’t it exciting?