Tuesday, April 17, 2012


[Warning: slightly depressing novel of a post.]

You know those times when there's a truth that you're fully aware of, and acknowledge publicly... and then someone else acknowledges it publicly and it's like they punched you in the stomach?

... yeah.

I'm aware I'm not that great at Quidditch. Really. I'm aware. It's not a big deal.

But you don't have to shove it in my face. Really. You don't.

I know I shouldn't let other people's opinions/thoughts/feelings/words/actions get in the way of me enjoying my life. But, unfortunately for me, I tend to get offended a little more easily than I'd like. I take things personally. Little things, even offhand comments, get under my skin and eat away at me for days.

It. Drives. Me. In. Sane. (Yes, I know that's only one word.)

I have the potential to be an awesome Quidditch player. I have the bone structure to be hella fast. I have a super accurate arm, and I can throw DAMN hard when I'm "on."

But you know what?


It's so bad. It drives me crazy. It drove my coaches crazy, in high school and in what I call 'pre-college.'

I know that fulfilling my potential is going to be hard. And, unfortunately for me, I don't like doing hard things. I don't like working out. I hate working out. Gross.

You wanna know how much Chris works out?


I'm jealous.

Now, granted, I do have a couple of things that he doesn't. I'm faster than he is. (No, really, I am. Even in Toms.) I could probably juke the kid straight out of his shoes if I tried.

there's this mental block.

I can't take a hit.

If my ankle starts to roll, I immediately scale it back.

I can never seem to give it 100%.

Now this... this is not because I'm lazy.

Many times Chris and I have talked about how my inability to 'play with reckless abandon' boils down to injury. He has never suffered a major injury. He ended his collegiate athletic career by choice. Mine was ended for me, when my hamstring nearly snapped in half.

You didn't know that, did you?

July 17, 2008. Probably the worst day of my entire life.

It was the last day of BYU track camp. I had been working pretty closely all week with 'Coach Z' and the head coach, Mark Robison, on my possible future high jumping for BYU T&F. We were having a mock meet that day, and it was my goal to jump 5'2". If I could get this, then over the next 10 months I'd work with my own track coach and the coaches at BYU to try and get second at the State meet in May, (there was this girl named Lauren who set the state record for high jumping... at the Region meet my junior year - her freshman year - she jumped 5'10". To think I could beat her was laughable. I mean, one of the main points of a goal is that is be reasonable, right?) and then I'd get "officially" offered a spot on the team.

I'd been jumping like a champ all week, especially considering how I hadn't worked out a lick since State. I was so stoked to show my stuff.

I opted to start at 4'6". It was the highest I'd ever started at, but I was feeling pretty confident.

My first attempt... something went wrong. My leg did not work the way it was supposed to, and I didn't even clear the bar. I lay on the mat for a second, pissed. I had NEVER not cleared my starting height on the first attempt. Then I realized that my leg sort of... twinged... kind of painfully. My heart sank into my stomach. 'Crap,' I thought. 'I know that feeling.' But I hopped off the mat and walked as normally as I could back to where the other jumpers were.

My second attempt was even worse, and as I lay on the mat that time, I knew something was definitely wrong with my leg. This time I got off the mat more quickly, because I was super pissed now. Mostly, I think, because I could almost feel my dreams slipping through my fingers, and there was nothing I could do.

Coach Z came up to me. She saw me grimace as I got off the mat and walked back to the other jumpers, this time with a noticeable limp. "Are you okay?" she asked. She had this fantastic Brazilian accent, and it was tinged with genuine concern. "I don't know what's wrong. I'm better than this," I said, fighting to keep my temper in check. 'Stay classy,' I kept thinking to myself. "Do you want to go to the trainer?" "No, I'm okay, let me take my last attempt, I should be fine."

I wasn't. My third attempt was the ugliest. I wish I could say that you could hear an audible snap from my poor hamstring as it gave way (mostly), but you couldn't. You could just hear my body crashing through the bar and my whimper of pain as I lay on the mat, unwilling to move both out of pain and shame. I rolled to the side, sat up, and slid to the ground to discover that my left leg refused to hold my weight. I closed my eyes as they welled up with tears, partly out of pain but mostly out of disappointment. My college track career was over before it had even started.

I literally hopped to the trainer's cart and said quietly, "Um, something's wrong with my leg." The trainer asked questions and with gentle hands examined my leg. "Well," she finally said, "it looks like you've torn or at the very least badly pulled your hamstring." I closed my eyes as fresh tears came. 'Be strong, Jen. Be classy,' I willed myself. "I can wrap it for you to keep it mostly immobile, but you'll need to go see a specialist as soon as you can so they can do some more diagnostics." I nodded, eyes still closed, biting my lip, and she quickly wrapped my leg. When she finished she said, "sit here for a minute, I need to go grab you some paperwork." I did as asked without a word, and sat, sipping on some water, and trying (at that point, mostly successfully) to stem the flow of tears. Then I heard that voice I knew so well. "Well, what is wrong with you?" Coach Z asked. My face contorted into an ugly frown as I tried not to cry again. "My hamstring," I choked, "is torn." Coach Z's face was unchanged. "Well that's okay, you will get better, and you will come jump for me!" "But it's my jumping leg..." "So? It will heal!" I looked up at her, admiring her for her optimism, but I could see in her eyes that she knew what I knew - it was over.

Then Coach Robison came over. He put his hand on my shoulder, which he had done a lot. I adored Coach Robison. My eyes welled up again. "So, what's up?" he asked. "It's over," I said, trying not to blubber like an idiot. "My hamstring is torn." He frowned. "Ah, Jen, I'm so sorry. It's not over though. You can recover, and we'll still be happy to have you. If it takes longer to rehab, you're welcome to walk on. "

'You're welcome to walk on.' I knew he said those words to comfort me, but to me it just felt like death.

And, in a way, it was. State track the following year was a joke. After ten months of rehab, several months of the hardest work I've ever done, and the worst track season I've ever encountered, I didn't even qualify for the meet. I came as close as I possibly could have. I took fifth at Region, the top four automatically went to State. I jumped 4'10", the qualifying height was 5'. My team was thrilled that my fifth-place finish bumped our team to second place at Region; to me, it just felt like my life was mocking me.

Since then, I have to say I pretty much just quit. What was the point in working my butt off for my dreams if my hamstring was just going to tear at a crucial moment? They say 'no pain, no gain,' but I had plenty of pain, and jack squat to show for it.

So now, there's Quidditch. I love it, almost more than I loved track. It's exhilarating, fun, exciting, and probably one of the best things to happen in my life.

But I can't "leave it all on the pitch." I can't sink into that low position and run into that 200 pound guy running towards me with the Quaffle. What if I break a collarbone? What if I twist an ankle? What if I get knocked out when I get slammed to the ground? I am so utterly terrified of a repeat of what I called "The Great Hamstring Disaster" that I can't bring myself to be reckless.

I often think that if I were at my physical 'peak,' I would be a lot less afraid of getting hurt. I'm not alone in thinking this. But I don't know if I can get there.

Sometimes, I wish I could just take my brain, and shut it off. Well, the thinking part. The doing part, the reacting part, the 'catch the Quaffle when it's three inches from your face without even looking at it' part... those parts can stay.

For now, I just have to keep on keepin' on... and pretend like I don't care that I'm not the best girl chaser in the West.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Once upon a time, I turned into an owl.

No, but seriously, I sleep all day. All the time. It's bad. My body misses the sun. My joints are starting to ache from constant disuse.

And let's not even talk about how well I'm eating.

I know I should do better. I mean, I bought a bike. The weather is beautiful. I could literally go lay out in the sun and start getting my tan back. (Ooooh. That thought might have just... Wow. I'm so shallow.) I have two Quidditch tournaments coming up in the next month, both of which I would like to NOT be a complete disappointment in. But now that I'm on the subject of Quidditch tournaments, I obviously can't talk about anything else.

Quidditch tournament #1 - The Spring Champions Series.
"This April 28th, the Boston Cannons, one of the top Major League Lacrosse teams, will be co-hosting a quidditch tournament with Emerson College Quidditch, Boston University Quidditch, and the IQA, at the Harvard sports complex as part of the Cannons’ season opener against Rochester.

The tournament will take the top 10 available teams from around the country and put them in one of the highest levels of competition outside of the World Cup.

The schedule will incorporate round robin play followed by bracket play and ending in a final battle between the top two teams. Round robin will run from 9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m at an external location ; athletes will then be transported to an Astroturf soccer stadium for single-elimination bracket play and championships from 3 PM – 6 PM.

Finally, the night will be capped off by admission to the Lacrosse game in Harvard’s famous football stadium along with 10,000 other Cannons fans." (Das what the IQA had to say about it.)

Aaaaaaaand guess who's going? Yup, that's right, me and Chris! And Redwood, because, well, she's freaking awesome, and loves to go to all the Quidditch things.

Not only are we going to Boston, my favorite city in the entire US, we're also going to NEW YORK CITY. Yes, that's right, The City That Never Sleeps. There is pretty much one reason for this, and that is that plane tickets to NYC + bus tickets to Boston < plane tickets to Boston. By like a hundred bucks. Yeah, I'm serious. So we're going to New York, staying with Queensland (yeah, I'm back to nicknames, they're fun, okay!) for two nights, then going to BOSTON, playing Quidditch for a whole day, watching my first-ever lacrosse game (I should probably get around to learning the rules...) and then heading back to NY for a few hours before we fly home, at which point Chris and Redwood's finals week will start, and my (hopefully) first week of 4 10s will begin. (Because I'm working at Outdoors Unlimited all summer, I'd reeeeeally like to just work all day MTWTh and have three-day weekends ALL THE TIME. If this doesn't work out, I'm probably going to get a second job somewhere in Salt Lake.)

BUT we are also going to Boston to play Quidditch against some of the greatest teams in the entire country.


Now, I'm not even trying to be self-deprecating here. I'm pretty aware that my skills at Quidditch leave a lot to be desired. I don't last very long, even at sea level. A minute into the game and I'm already like, "Fudge monkey, I need to stop running, I'm bushed." So, obviously, number one skill to improve - stamina. Poop. If you know me, you know that I'm like a dwarf. I'm a natural sprinter, very dangerous over short distances. But long distances? Ugh. Even a mile is long to me. Y-UCK. That's part of why I got a bike though. For me, biking isn't as terrible as running. It doesn't hurt my (admittedly bad) knees, it's more fun, and you can go a LOT farther on a lot less 'gas.' Plus, I dunno, going farther makes biking more of a destination thing, and I'm not gonna lie to you, joy in the journey does not apply to working out. Unless I'm climbing... or skiing... but that's not working out!

Another thing, which has plagued me forevvvvvvver, is that I am a terrible catch. I can throw surprisingly accurately, and hard, but when that ball's coming my way... bad, bad things happen. That's why I'm always QB in Jewell family beach football. But I'm serious. I'm ALWAYS QB. In the words of Sheggings, "That's how we win." (Except, when I do that, we actually do win... ouuuuuccchhhh.) Anyway. That's number two skill to improve. Okay that's actually probably number one skill to improve. If I can't catch, it doesn't matter how long I do or don't last.

Yet another thing, which... ugh... I hate thinking about. I am absolutely terrified of getting hurt. It goes back to the whole "an injury ruined my collegiate track career" thing. Chris, who's never experienced this feeling, doesn't get it. It also is largely related to the fact that, despite my love of sleeping, I am a pretty active person. I ski. I climb. I bike. I kayak. I backpack. I swim. If I got broken in any way, I would probably have to give up most of those things, albeit temporarily. It would still be really awful for me. Those things keep me going. Without them, I would be lost. And very, very upset with Quidditch/the jerkface who dislocated my shoulder/knee/hip/eyeball.

Because of this terror, I'm a little... shall we say... hesitant to initiate physical contact. I'm quick on my feet. I can backpedal faster than any girl I've ever met. And don't try to shake me. I can change directions FAST. But push me around, especially if you're bigger than me? I usually am pretty easy to flick out of the way, unless I'm bigger than you. Which, in the case of my manned coverage against ASU, was all the time. I was sincerely disappointed in their female chaser lineup. None of them pushed me around, although Palin certainly tried. Ha. (Funny story, Palin is going to Spring Champions as well... she's my competition for starting girl chaser. I have an unfortunately nagging suspicion that since she's a 'captain' she'll get it regardless of how much better I may be than her by the time the tournament rolls around. Not that that will happen, but, ya know, stranger things HAVE happened.)

So my weakness is big guys. I try to push them around, but I end up looking stupid. And usually failing. I hate it. I hate how much confidence I lack. At the Snow Cup, the few good hits I laid on chasers were like, the best feeling in the world. I played that last match with reckless abandon, and I ROCKED IT. All I have to do is find that reckless abandon again, and I'm golden!

...if only it were that easy.

My last problem, that I can think of right now anyways, is my inability to pick to quaffle up off the ground with one hand. Seriously, every time the quaffle is on the ground, I have to like... squeeze my broom tightly between my legs and grab it with both hands. I can do that fast, and I'm scrappy when it comes down to it, but... yeah...

So. Goals. (And don't worry, I'll tell you about Quidditch tournament number two... tomorrow. It's 6 am.)
1. Increase hand-eye coordination. Catch the quaffle a lot. Alone, if necessary.
2. Increase stamina. Longer bikes, running if necessary, swimming.
3. Drink more milk. (hahahahaha)
4. Build more muscle to be harder to push around.
5. Learn to tackle better.
6. Mental toughness. (Remember that book I talked about on my rant about Jake Heaps?)

Anyway. It's... early. And... I'm tired.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Okay. So. Chris works nights. Which means that if I want to get to talk to him, I have to stay up really late. This has generally evolved into me being almost nocturnal along with him, which is why I'm writing a blog post at four am. Even when he doesn't work, it's easier to stay in the general rhythm of being up all night and sleeping all day. Which means a lot of nights lately have been spent with us talking until like... five am. Whoops. (Hurray for having a basement so I don't wake up my roommates!)
Last time we saw each other, we told each other our respective first kiss stories. When I demonstrated mine (it makes the whole story SO much more accurately awkward) he laughed. It made me laugh. It was interesting to me how I used to think it was the most awkward thing on the planet, and how I was so embarrassed to tell anybody about it, but now I realize it is pretty ridiculous and funny. We talked a lot about high school, and how we don't want [my children or his children or, at this rate, TBH, our children] to be as dumb as we were. We talked about how we want our kids to really realize that there IS life after high school, but at the same time we don't want them having what I call "college tunnel vision." I honestly think that's what ruined my senior year. All I could think about was how badly I wanted to get the heck out of high school, and Logan in general, and I forgot to enjoy it. And, of course, we talked about how we don't want our children to pair off in high school. But the fact of the matter is, they're going to do it anyway. And I'll be there when they get dumped, not with an "I told you so!" or a "NOW don't you wish you'd listened to me?!" but rather with a "this really sucks, I'm sorry you have to go through this."
Anyway. I'm chatting with Chris on Facebook and totally just lost my train of thought, which is a bummer, because I had some good things to share with you folks.

Oh! Yeah! So I'm a Crimson Flier now. I'm pretty much the official Fliers graphic designer. Because I'm just that awesome. But Chris and I are going to play for the Lost Boys at the Cinco de Mayo Cup and I'm waaaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyy excited! :)
I'll just leave you with my latest creation. When I say Crimson, you say Fliers!