Luck for Hire will take you on a crazy ride

This short book is good for a Sunday afternoon sitting by the fire when you want something to entertain you.  The book starts out with Dana late for a meeting and because she is the last one to arrive, her boss gives her a folder for a client he wants her to represent.  He doesn’t let her even sit down, he sends her out to meet with the client, Felix Benes.  Soon Benes disappears and men start following Dana.  In the meantime, Luck is a private investigator who can sneak into businesses and can find the exact information he needs.  Soon Luck and Dana’s paths cross and Luck starts helping Dana after she realizes men are following her.

Possibly final cover.

Possibly final cover.

The entire time you don’t really know who the people are that are trying to kill Dana and why they are after her.  We do know it’s something to do with the Big Pharma.  Everything though, is revealed at the end.  Aleister has a little bit of magic to him and can do things that other people can’t.  He can type keys into a computer and within seconds have a code or found the files that he needs.  He can crack computer codes within seconds when it can take computer programmers days to crack.

You don’t learn too much about the characters backgrounds and I wasn’t really sure why Detective Moore was so enamored with Dana, but it was a well written book and kept my attention the entire time.  The short chapters made the book flow fast.

Here is the book description: If science is a product of observation, then magic is the manipulation of what isn’t or can’t be observed. Private investigators are often generously described as “down on their luck.” They are the good guys, helping the helpless, regardless of the cost. Sherlock Holmes rarely accepted payment from clients of little means.

Aleister Luck, despite his magic, has not had celebrities and nobility knock on his door. A native of Las Vegas, he gambles at the casinos for pocket money when he isn’t finding clients in need. On a whim, he investigates the law firm of Devine, Chance & Merit and runs afoul of the greatest danger to his magic: his snoopy ex-girlfriend.

Felix Benes’ gene-based cancer diagnostic will recommend against many profitable but useless or harmful treatments. His funding has been cut and he fears he’s being hunted. While Dana Spelman, his attorney at DCM, evaluates the viability of his case, he disappears. Then, she attracts the attention of the sort of men that might make someone disappear. As Dana evades them, she runs into her gambling-addicted loser ex-boyfriend.

As they uncover the labyrinthine conspiracy behind Benes’ disappearance, Luck’s magic will struggle against Dana’s efforts to survive.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

The GI Brides of World War II

19522903When World War II happened, so many English men went to war leaving a lot of women and few men back home.  Halfway through the war, U.S. Army GI’s started arriving in England and the women were enchanted by these men with their accents, charms and gifts.

GI Brides: The wartime girls who crossed the Atlantic for love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi is about four women who were charmed by the GI’s and what happened when they move to America.  The book centers around Sylvia, Margaret, Gwendolyn (Lyn) and Rae as they each meet a U.S. GI, fall in love and move to America.

This nonfiction book flows like a fictional story.  The reader is taken on a journey over several years as the women find their way through life trying to do their part for the war, date different U.S. GI’s and fall in love quickly with the men who pursue them.  The women had this glamourous notion of America and that all of the GI’s were going to take them home to their mansions and their fancy lives.  Once they get to America, the women find out the GI’s aren’t what they thought they were.

It was different back then.  You didn’t just up and get a divorce because things weren’t as they first appeared.  Not like now.  Back then you stuck it out.  Rae had no idea her carefree, fun loving American GI was really an alcoholic who lived in such a dirt poor town in Pennsylvania.  Or that   And Sylvia had no clue her new husband, that she barely knew had a gambling problem.  But then there is Gwendolyn “Lyn” whose husband comes from a big Italian family who support each other through thick and thin.

Gwendolyn "Lyn" and Ben Patrino.

Gwendolyn “Lyn” and Ben Patrino.

Even though each chapter focused on a different woman it was easy to keep track of them as the chapters were titled by a different name.  I found all the women had very interesting lives and were very brave to take a chance to move across an ocean away from their families to start a new life with a man they barely knew.

Here is the description from the back of the book:  The “friendly invasion” of Britain by over a million American G.I.s bewitched a generation of young women deprived of male company during the Second World War. With their exotic accents, smart uniforms, and aura of Hollywood glamour, the G.I.s easily conquered their hearts, leaving British boys fighting abroad green with envy. But for girls like Sylvia, Margaret, Gwendolyn, and even the skeptical Rae, American soldiers offered something even more tantalizing than chocolate, chewing gum, and nylon stockings: an escape route from Blitz-ravaged Britain, an opportunity for a new life in affluent, modern America.

Through the stories of these four women, G.I. Brides illuminates the experiences of war brides who found themselves in a foreign culture thousands of miles away from family and friends, with men they hardly knew. Some struggled with the isolation of life in rural America, or found their soldier less than heroic in civilian life. But most persevered, determined to turn their wartime romance into a lifelong love affair, and prove to those back home that a Hollywood ending of their own was possible.

Until next time….enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

I believe in the Kansas City Royals

View from my seat.

View from my seat.

Recently I was part of history.  I was there live at Kauffman Stadium on September 30, 2014 when the Kansas City Royals won the wild card playoff game against the Oakland A’s.  The game where they were ahead 3-2, then fell behind 3-7 and came back scratching and clawing to win 8-7 in the 12th inning.

It’s been 29 years since the Kansas City Royals have been in the playoffs.  In fact, the last time the Royals were in the playoffs was in 1985 when they won the World Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.  At that time I was a college junior in Des Moines.  I remember the stories about people driving back and forth on I-70 for the interstate World Series.  I remember catching some of the games on TV between studying.

"Game of Thrones" seats.

“Game of Thrones” seats. Salvy hit the game winning single down the left side.

I haven’t always been a Royals fan.  Growing up in Northern Iowa, I lived closer to Minneapolis.  So I was a huge Minnesota Twins fan.  We used to take the motorhome up on weekends and stay in the parking lot of the stadium.  I had so much fun running around the stadium during the games and afterwards when the stadium emptied out.  I almost got locked in once after the grounds crew were done.  It’s surprising they didn’t kick us out sooner.

Now I’m in Kansas City, home of the Royals and Chiefs and Sporting KC and T-Bones Baseball and Missouri Mavericks and Kansas Speedway and FC Kansas City and…  Yes, this city has SO much to offer when it comes to professional sports, add college sports and you have a very sports-oriented city.

Winning sports teams too.  Sporting KC won the MLS Championship Cup in December 2013, FC Kansas City are the 2014 NWSL Champions, and the Missouri Comets are the 2013 MASL Champions.  That’s just soccer.  Then you have the Chiefs finishing in second place in the AFC West Division in 2013.  The Missouri Mavericks have been in the playoffs every year since their first season in 2009. And the T-Bones were just named the American Association’s 2014 organization of the year.  Any way you slice it, Kansas City is a winning city.  Heck, the Huffington Post just declared Kansas City the “coolest” city in America.

The night before the Royals had their big wild card win, across the parking lot the Kansas City Chiefs smacked around the New England Patriots (41-14) and reclaimed the Guinness World Record for loudest stadium.  The energy of the Chiefs game was carried back across the parking lot to the Royals game the next night.  I have never been to a baseball game where the energy was so high and the crowd was so loud, and I’ve been to a lot of baseball games.

In 1985, most people who attended a baseball game either dressed up or wore whatever they wanted.  Now it’s all about wearing the team’s colors.  Kauffman Stadium was a sea of blue Tuesday.  I think there were maybe four people in Oakland yellow.  It was amazing to see all the blue and all the blue towels flying in the sky (giveaways when you walked in).

Collision in the outfield 12th inning. Photo courtesy of KC Star.

Collision in the outfield 12th inning.

Then there was the noise.  Football worthy noise.  It is something when an entire crowd of 40,000+ people are yelling “Billy, Billy, Billy” or “Nori, Nori, Nori” or another player’s name when at bat.  I can’t imagine what it was like for the players on the field to hear their names chanted and the noise volume hitting them like a wave of emotion.  The Oakland outfielders who collided in the 12th inning couldn’t hear each other.  Sam Flude said if they had been standing next to each other they still wouldn’t have heard each other.  That collision by the back wall allowed Eric Hosmer to end up on third base.

Of course when Ned Yost pulled pitcher James Shields, who lots of people felt wasn’t ready to be pulled including Shields from his facial expression, and replaced him with a rookie who allowed a 3 run homer to eliminate our lead, really quieted the crowd.  I let a few words fly and I’m grateful no little kids were sitting near me.  It was so discouraging to see 3-7 on the board for several innings.  But then the crowd wound back up, fired up the Royals, who never gave up and the volume increased again.

Courtesy of KC Star.

Courtesy of KC Star.

As the Royals slowly chipped away at the deficit with seven different players stealing bases, sacrifice bunts and just plain determination, the chants started up again.  One chant that became a staple at every Sporting KC game in 2013 as they were racing to the MLS Championship Cup title is “I believe that we will win.”  It became a city-wide cheer for weeks if not months as they drew closer to the cup.  So to hear it at the Royals game just made me smile.  I wondered if out-of-town fans even knew what that chant means to this city.  I wonder what the players were thinking when they heard 40,000+ people telling them we believe.

Tonight the Royals start their ALDS series against the Angels in Los Angeles and Kansas City is ready to cheer them on at several different watch parties around town.  Stores are selling out of Royals gear, fountains are flowing blue water, social media accounts are sporting Royals photos and using #TaketheCrown and local businesses are rolling back prices to 1985 on certain items or giving 29% discounts.  I’m just trying to get my voice back.

I don’t remember being in a city more excited about their sports teams.  Sporting KC sells out every home game, Kansas City is tops in the NFL for tailgating at a Chiefs game and no matter if the Royals are good or bad, the fans show up.  There are no words to convey what it’s like to be at Kauffman Stadium to watch the “Boys in Blue” succeed and finally make it to the playoffs.  Kansas City loves their sports and I can’t imagine not living in a sports town.

So GO ROYALS – I believe that we will win!

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

The Beautiful American is beautifully written

BeautifulAmericanSometimes I wonder if I was alive during World War II.  It’s a time that fascinates me and feels familiar.  It’s a time of horrific tragedy and a time of bravery.  It’s also a time when a lot of young Americans relocated to Paris to follow their artistic dreams.  They were called expats.

The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin is about Nora Tours, a young woman from Poughkeepsie, NY who has fallen in love with the high school quarterback who has a love of photography.  After high school the couple heads to New York so Jamie can try and get a showing in a gallery.  After failing, they head to London for the same purpose.  After failing there, they head to Paris where it should be easy because that’s where true art is happening.

After trying and being unsuccessful at securing a gallery showing in Paris, Nora and Jamie are almost broke and ready to head back to Poughkeepsie when Nora runs into Lee Miller, a childhood playmate who is now an international model and aspiring photographer.  Nora and Jamie get sucked into Lee’s life and meet very interesting people like Picasso.

The book starts out with Nora searching for her 16-year-old daughter Dahlia who has disappeared and thinks Dahlia is retracing her and Jamie’s path from London to Paris and could possibly be in London.  This is where she runs into Lee outside of Harrod’s after not seeing each other for almost 17 years.  Lee invites Nora to spend the weekend at her country farm where Picasso will also be a guest.  The book goes back and forth between Lee and Nora’s childhood and their weekend visit on the farm. Then it brings us to Paris and France where the majority of the book is centered.

This is a beautifully written book that takes the reader to a time when Europe is on the verge of World War II to just after the war.  I found Nora more of a backseat character as in the fact she isn’t a strong personality.  She kind of just goes along for the ride as Lee is an out there personality who doesn’t care about other people’s feelings, she just live life the way she wants to live.  Once Nora leaves Paris, her character gets a little stronger.  It’s nice to see her evolve a little bit.  There are some parallels between Lee and Dahlia.  I don’t like to give too much away so I will say, this book will pull you into Paris and into the lives of these people.

Here is the description from the back of the book: As recovery from World War II begins, expat American Nora Tours travels from her home in southern France to London in search of her missing sixteen-year-old daughter. There, she unexpectedly meets up with an old acquaintance, famous model-turned-photographer Lee Miller. Neither has emerged from the war unscathed. Nora is racked with the fear that her efforts to survive under the Vichy regime may have cost her daughter’s life. Lee suffers from what she witnessed as a war correspondent photographing the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps.

Nora and Lee knew each other in the heady days of late 1920s Paris, when Nora was giddy with love for her childhood sweetheart, Lee became the celebrated mistress of the artist Man Ray, and Lee’s magnetic beauty drew them all into the glamorous lives of famous artists and their wealthy patrons. But Lee fails to realize that her friendship with Nora is even older, that it goes back to their days as children in Poughkeepsie, New York, when a devastating trauma marked Lee forever. Will Nora’s reunion with Lee give them a chance to forgive past betrayals…and break years of silence to forge a meaningful connection as women who have shared the best and the worst that life can offer?

A novel of freedom and frailty, desire and daring, The Beautiful American portrays the extraordinary relationship between two passionate, unconventional women.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

14 Questions for 2014

Every day you wake up, it’s a new day, a blank slate, a new page of your life.  A chance to make each day a better day than the day before.  It’s a time to shift your focus to the positive and to forget about the negative.

It’s the same for a new year.  If 2013 just wasn’t your year, forget about it and write a new chapter to your life in 2014.  To help you get started, I decided to ask 14 questions for 2014.  Fourteen questions to ponder as you think about what could happen this year and what you might want to accomplish.  There are many more questions I could ask, but these are just a starting point.

1. What do you love doing that you aren’t doing now?  Are you doing what you believe in or just settling?
What is your dream job?  Do you wake up in the morning looking forward to starting the day?  Do you look forward to going to work?  If not, then find your passion and go for it.  If you catch yourself working hard and loving every minute of it, don’t stop.  I like being creative and in 2013 I took the initiative and created my own position at work.  Now I’m doing what I love for a nonprofit that I love and work with people I enjoy being around.  I’m living my passion.

2. Where do you want to live?Paris
Are you living in the house, city or country you want to be in?  Have you thought about taking the leap and looking for a job in your dream location?  Why not?  I have to admit, I would love to live in another country.  My top places are England – my second family lives there and I would love to live near them; Australia – love the year round great weather; Tuscany, Italy – I’ve always wanted to live here after seeing Under the Tuscan Sun and Paris – I don’t speak French and I’m not very good with different languages, but I LOVE this city.  All different locations and different reasons for each of them.  I wish I could at least spend a few years in each location.

3. What adventures do you want to have?Skydiving
Make a list of things you want to do that you might think are impossible to complete.  Something you have always dreamed about trying but people have said “are you nuts.”  Break down the steps to enjoy the adventure.  What steps would it take to scuba dive, jump out of a plane, ride the tallest rollercoaster or even camp for the first time.  Whatever the adventure may be, breaking it down into smaller steps makes it easier to achieve.

4. How do you manage your time? What works for you?
Time management is really important because if a president can get a workout in, you can too.  I’ve used a Franklin Planner for over 23 years and I also put appointments in my phone and on several different calendars.  I also keep a To Do List and prioritize importance with A, B and C.  I read a book once that said tackle the frogs first because if you go after the tadpoles first, you will never get the big important projects done.  So don’t procrastinate, eat the big frogs first.

5. What do you want to accomplish in your life?
This one kind of goes along with #3.  This could be a new job, a home improvement project or getting the degree you’ve been putting off.  Again, break down the steps to accomplish your goal and make sure you are doing it for the right reasons.

6. What makes you come alive?Lily-Door
What makes you happy, what makes you smile?  Those are the things that make you come alive.  It could be the first steps of your child, the unconditional love from your dog or watching a flower bloom.  It could be something at work or going a little bit further in your workout.  Find what ignites you and makes you smile.  Find your passion.

7. How can you express yourself creatively?
I know, not everyone thinks they are creative.  But you would be surprised the creativity that lives inside you.  Do you know how to pick great colors for the walls of your house?  Are you good with numbers?  I think being creative comes in all different forms.  I hope I’m creative when I write social media posts for work.  I hope I’m getting more creative with my writing.

8. If you could offer a newborn child only one piece of advice, what would it be?love-letter-vectorjunky
Last year, I was at a baby shower and we were asked to write a letter to the baby as if she was 16.  What advice would we give her?  I wrote a very long letter.  It might make her roll her 16-year-old eyes or laugh at what I wrote, but it was everything I wished someone had said to me when I was 16.  What would you say?

9. What type of people inspire you and make you come alive?
Who motivates you to be a better person?  Make sure you surround yourself with positive people.  Our nonprofit holds a luncheon that is so inspiring every time I listen to the winners’ stories, I want to be a better person.  Energy vampires or negative people, whoever they may be, will really suck the energy out of you.  Believe me, I’ve felt exhausted after talking with certain people.  They have slowly been eliminated from my life.  Eliminate the negative people in your life.

10. What ignites your brain?
With me, a good book where the characters and their lives sit with me for weeks and sometimes months after I’m done, that ignites me.  A great conversation with friends, a challenging equation, solving an issue at work or listening to an inspiring person speak.  There are many different things that could do it.

11. What physical exercise do you enjoy that makes you sweat and enjoy?
Find something that you enjoy doing that will get your heart rate up and make you sweat.  Don’t do something just because everyone else is doing it, you won’t stick with it, you won’t make it a habit.  Again, find something you love doing.

12. What does your body need in order to function at its best?Vibrant Produce
Think about it.  Food is pleasurable to eat, but if you think of it as fuel, you might think of it differently.  Would you put sugar in your gas tank of your car?  Then don’t dump it in your body.  Make sure you have plenty of the right fuel.  If you need a little bit of sugar in your engine, make sure it’s only a small additive and not a tank full.

13. If the average human life span was 40 years, how would you live your life differently?
I know I would have traveled more.  I love the enjoyment of seeing different cultures and different landscapes.  I would also probably take the leap of faith and tried living in one of my dream locations.  Think about what you would do differently.  If it’s not so far out there, then why not go for it?

14. What do you want to be remembered by?
I’ve heard the phrase over and over, it’s not what you do but how you make people feel.  I hope when I’m gone that people remember how they felt being around me.  I hope it’s a positive feeling and not a “thank God she’s gone” feeling.  Make sure people remember you in a positive light.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat

Introverts and Extroverts are different kinds of people

extrovert-vs-introvert-640x1071I’ve been shy all my life.  Sometimes painfully shy.  When I was in kindergarten, some of the kids had made fun of me so I quit talking.  I had private sessions with the principal to see if I was mentally handicapped.  He said there was nothing wrong with me since I would talk to him and my Mom didn’t find out about any of this until she went to Parent Teacher Conferences.  She thought everything was fine since I couldn’t shut up after school.

In our society, being shy has a negative connotation.  That person can be perceived as having low intelligence, not having any ideas during a meeting, anti-social and dull.  But that is so off the mark.  Many scientists, inventors, creative people, authors and even entertainers are shy.  Well, the correct word is introvert.  Think Einstein, Ben Franklin, Bill Gates, and even Barbra Streisand who is so shy she has debilitating stage fright and has to fake being an extrovert to get on stage and perform.

Introverts are the ones who don’t blurt out every thought that pops into their heads.  They are the ones that sit back, observe and take their time formulating their answers.  They are the quiet ones in meetings.  Even though they are quiet, extroverts need to listen and not talk over them.  Surprisingly, introverts are extroverts on social media and in their writing.  Must be why I handle the social media at work and I love to write.  I like sharing my thoughts on paper.

Extrovert vs. Introvert

Extrovert vs. Introvert

Here is a good example of extroverts talking over introverts.  At my last job, I used to go to lunch at noon and sat with a bunch of people.  Whenever I talked and I mean 98% of the time, people would start talking over me as if I had never talked like what I had to say had no meaning and what they had to say was the most important thing and everyone needed to listen.  I soon realized it was draining having lunch with all those extroverts (not knowing they were extroverts, I just thought they were rude) so I switched to 1 p.m. where I could quietly read and avoid the extroverts.  To be honest, it ticked me off how they talked over me.  I have since seen other extroverts talk over introverts, even in a quiet setting, so I engage the introvert and ask them to continue telling their story.

I recently read the book Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain and it made me realize just how much of an introvert I am.  For those of you, who are extroverts, let me give you a little insight on what it is to be an introvert.  Most introverts, including myself, are not comfortable talking in front of big crowds, we don’t like the spotlight and we don’t like to make small talk.  The thought of going to a party or social event where we really don’t know anyone is almost paralyzing.  Yes, I said paralyzing.  Recently, I was invited to a wedding reception for a former co-worker.  I have to go alone as my husband and daughter can’t go.  The thought of going by myself makes my heart race, my anxiety level go up and makes me not want to go.  But I will, because I will actually know several attendees.  But still, I won’t be comfortable, yet I will soldier through the event.

images-1I’m also registered for a day-long conference in June where I will learn information on a program we use at work.  There is a social afterwards.  Will I stay?  Of course not.  After sitting in a room all day with strangers, I will be exhausted and the thought of trying to make small talk with the strangers makes my stress level go up.  Do I register for classes or sessions that mention will breakout into small groups or will do role playing?  No way.  Just typing that sentence makes my heart race.

I also learned from the book that most introverts get worn out after a day of stimulation and need to recharge after work or school before they can socialize further.  I always wondered why I am exhausted at the end of the day when I sit behind a computer all day.  It’s because my desk is in the center of the room where I have constant interruptions and interactions with staff and guests.  It makes total sense now why I just want to go home and put my pajamas on and read a book instead of running errands where there will be crowds or going to a big event or social/happy hour.  I have found a way to curb some of the exhaustion my day could bring by not eating in the kitchen with the rest of the staff.  I have created a quiet space in an empty office with a comfortable chair where I can sit quietly and read.  It’s where I “recharge” for the afternoon.

Now I’m sure all the extroverts are thinking ‘what is wrong with you?  Why don’t you want to be more social?’  Of course they won’t get it.  They like to be around people.  I do enjoy my friends, but I like the intimate gatherings in my house or going to happy hour with one to two friends.  What I don’t enjoy is when our office has an open house and I’m supposed to make small talk.  I would rather go in the kitchen and clean then stand around and talk to strangers.

thIntroverts and extroverts need to understand each other in order to treat the other person within their comfort zone.  For example, I have several extrovert friends and my husband is an extrovert.  They like to karaoke and I like to watch them karaoke.  One night, one of my extrovert friends decided to sign me up to sing without me knowing it.  When they called my name I said no.  She tried to get me on the stage.  What did I do?  I walked out of the bar and did not return.  This is a good example of how an extrovert needs to respect an introvert and not put them into a situation they don’t want to be in.  I was perfectly happy watching the extroverts with their fun, and it made me happy to sit in the back booth and sing along from there, while they enjoyed the spotlight.  What the extrovert did, was damage our relationship by disrespecting my wishes.  She KNEW I wasn’t comfortable with going up there and singing in front of people, yet she disregarded my wishes.

The book talks about how sometimes introverts need to fake being an extrovert to get through situations.  I work at a Sports Commission where we host many events.  Yes, when we have big events, I interact with thousands of people.  I know what needs to be done and I do it.  Do I like being around all those people?  No.  Do I enjoy the events?  Yes.  Am I exhausted after an event?  You bet.  Most times after an event, I spend the day so drained I feel like my iPhone when it’s on 4% battery life.  After our marathon I usually go to bed and sleep for several hours.

Recently, I’ve been describing myself as a hermit.  When I say this people look at me Woman in Hammock with Bookfunny and laugh.  Those have to be the extroverts.  I have many weekends where I get home from work at 5:30 p.m. on a Friday and I don’t leave my house again until 8 a.m. on Monday.  That’s right I DON’T LEAVE THE HOUSE FOR TWO DAYS.  No, I’m not a recluse, although I could be considered one.  I just like quiet space where I can read and watch TV and spend time with my family.  I don’t need to be out in crowds to get my enjoyment.  In fact, being on a private island with access to Netflix, books, fresh food and a hammock sounds like heaven to me.  I don’t even care if anyone is on the island with me, just give me a quiet location and I will be happy.  Yes, that truly would be my happy place.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat.

Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Take the unofficial quiz below and answer the questions with either true or false.  The more true you have the more introverted you are.  The more false the more extroverted you are.  I answered 17 of the 20 questions with true, that is how introverted I am:

  1. I prefer one-on-one conversations to group activities.
  2. I often prefer to express myself in writing.
  3. I enjoy solitude.
  4. I seem to care less than my peers about wealth, fame, and status.
  5. I dislike small talk, but I enjoy talking in depth about topics that matter to me.
  6. People tell me that I’m a good listener.
  7. I’m not a big risk-taker.
  8. I enjoy work that allows me to “dive in” with few interruptions.
  9. I like to celebrate birthdays on a small scale, with only one or two close friends or family members.
  10. People describe me as “soft-spoken” or “mellow.”
  11. I prefer not to show or discuss my work with others until it’s finished.
  12. I dislike conflict.
  13. I do my best work on my own.
  14. I tend to think before I speak.
  15. I feel drained after being out and about, even if I’ve enjoyed myself.
  16. I often let calls go through to voice mail.
  17. If I had to choose, I’d prefer a weekend with absolutely nothing to do to one with too many things scheduled.
  18. I don’t enjoy multitasking.
  19. I can concentrate easily.
  20. In classroom situations, I prefer lectures to seminars.

The Losing Season and Pat Conroy steal a little piece of my heart

1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs. Front row: John DeBrosse, Pat Conroy, Jim Halprin, T.E. Hooper. Back row: Doug Bridges, Greg Connor, Brian Kennedy, Dave Bornhorst, Dan Mohr, Al Kroboth, Bob Cauthen, Bill Zinsky.

1966-67 Citadel Bulldogs. Front row: John DeBrosse, Pat Conroy, Jim Halprin, T.E. Hooper. Back row: Doug Bridges, Greg Connor, Brian Kennedy, Dave Bornhorst, Dan Mohr, Al Kroboth, Bob Cauthen, Bill Zinsky.

There are few books that affect me when they are over.  Ones that make me sad and depressed because I will no longer be with the characters.  Ones that can break my heart so much that when I turn the last page, I end up crying or even sobbing because I have grown to love the characters and/or I wish the book wasn’t done.

This type of book sometimes sneaks up on me.  Usually it’s a book I think will be okay.  One that I might stumble upon and think ‘okay, this could be good.’  Recently I had a book that surprised me so much I almost felt a depression coming on when it was over.

My sister suggested I listen to audio books in the car since she has enjoyed it so much over the last 20 years.  I thought what the heck I will give it a try.  I’ve listened to a few that were okay, one I quit after the second CD because the reader was blah and the author was a little too obsessive for me about her dog.

Cadet Pat Conroy

Cadet Pat Conroy

Then a co-worker brought in a sack of audio books she thought I might enjoy.  Among those books was one by Pat Conroy, author of The Prince of Tides and The Lords of Discipline.  Author and son of The Great Santini.  But this book isn’t fiction, although The Great Santini is about his Dad, this book is about Pat and his teammates of the 1966-67 Citadel basketball team.  My Losing Season is about Pat’s last year as point guard and captain of The Citadel Bulldogs and about his childhood with a strict and abusive father which defined him as a man.

When I say “Pat Conroy” in my head or out loud, I hear the voice of Jay O. Sanders who read the book.  Jay has a slightly southern accent that fits perfectly with the book.  While listening, I wondered how many times Jay read the book to know when to put feeling and passion into the dialog because he does a fantastic job.  When I see a college basketball player getting ready to shoot a ball, I have a feeling “Don’t shoot Conroy” will pop into my head once in a while as Pat’s coach constantly yelled this during that losing season.

Col. Don "The Great Santini" Conroy

Col. Don “The Great Santini” Conroy

Now granted, some people don’t like sports or some people can take it or leave it.  I work in sports and I love sports.  I’m not obsessed, but I enjoy a good game of basketball where the players play their hearts out and leave all of it on the court.  During the Bulldogs’ losing season, you felt the passion and love of the game; you felt just how hard they fought.  I found myself cheering for them even though the games were played back in 1966 and 1967.  I cried after Pat had the best game of his life and his Dad still called him a loser and shoved him up against a wall.

I cried and laughed while driving to and from work.  I sat in my car in the parking garage before work as I finished listening to the book, surprised by the afterward by the author himself (I should have read the cover closer).

His short speech would have brought me to my knees had I been standing.  It left me sobbing in the car, tears streaming down my face as I walked into work and got on the elevator.  When I went to return the audio book to my co-worker she saw I was crying and hugged me.  Then she said “keep it,” as she knew I would listen again and again.

Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy

I’m glad I decided to take a chance on this book.  I’m glad I listened to it during March Madness as the Big 12 Men’s Basketball Championship roared into town and I will listen to it every March Madness as Pat reminds me each time that you have to believe in yourself.  Not everyone will be affected by Pat’s story as I was, but that’s okay.  I’m just glad I got to experience the 1966-67 Citadel basketball team’s losing season and the young man of Pat Conroy.

Until next time…enjoy the view from your passenger seat