Blogging From Overseas
The Top 10 Ways to Tell
You’ve Been Overseas Too Long!
Posted: March 9, 2007, 10:57 a.m. ET
It really depends on where you go but for everyone there comes a point when you realize you've been out of the States too long! There are a lot of things that you can do to make you feel like you're at home that helps make the long months pass by with relative ease.
I'm lucky that one of my WNBA teammates and best friends Jennifer Lacy is close by. We've had the chance to spend a few weekends together here in Thessaloniki. This past weekend we shopped! It's one of my favorite pastimes and something that ALWAYS makes me feel better no matter what's got me down.
But for everyone there is a breaking point. Something that makes you anxious for home, for friends, for family, for the familiar. There are warnings that start popping out at you like neon signs that tell you you've been gone too long!
10. It feels weird watching something without subtitles... even though you can't read them!
9. Applebee's and Friday's actually sound like delicious dinner choices!
8. You have no idea what your teammates are saying but you actually understand them and start to reply, both to their shock and yours!
7. You get overly excited when you find Charmin in the toilet paper isle at the market!
6. You start calling the grocery store the market!
5. You get a package from home and it's an "outing" to go to the post office and pick it up!
4. You sit in your assigned seat at the movie theater despite the fact you're one of five people there!
3. You start buying house plants like you're gonna be there forever to take care of them!
2. You completely disregard all traffic signs, especially STOP signs, and instead just lay on your horn!
1. You start waking up in the morning lying width-wise across your bed because you are so used to sleeping boyfriendless and dogless!
The last one is the saddest and most pathetic of all! But, as much fun as it's been here in Greece, I find myself becoming anxious for home and the rapidly approaching WNBA season. I'm also looking forward to going to bed at night with my beagle Hektor in between my legs and my other beagle Ella with her head on my shoulder. It's a sad thought that your dogs have more real estate in your own bed than you do… but they're too cute to move!!!
You never realize until you're gone what you enjoy the most about your day-to-day life!
My Cup Runneth Over
Posted: February 14, 2007, 9:19 a.m. ET
I think some of most unique, special and peculiar relationships you form during the course of your life are those you form with your family. Everyone's family is different; in size, in closeness and in many other ways. Some families have close relationships, some children divorce their parents... nonetheless, I believe despite all of these factors, the bond you form with your family is like nothing else you'll ever experience in your life.
I happen to be from one of those families that is ridiculously close. We are of Irish and French descent which accounts for the fact that we love to yell and scream and then drink a bottle of wine. But after that we have the closeness to fall back on, like the security blanket that never unravels no matter how many times you've washed it or dragged it on the ground behind you.
The funny thing about my family is we are brutally honest with each other. When I was younger this brutal honesty almost always ended in some sort of a fist-fight. With two boys and three girls, there were plenty of opportunities for fights.
During the '80s, especially in the small town I grew up in, it was perfectly acceptable to leave your children in the car while you were grocery shopping. And now, being older and having a plethora of nephews and a niece, I know taking small children into a grocery store is like a very slow, very loud torture. The cereal isle alone is the cheapest form of birth control I've come across yet!
I think my parents figured out there were two advantages to making us wait in the car. The first being shopping in peace... shopping for a family of seven is hard enough, the only thing that makes it an unbearable task is having all seven there for the outing! The second advantage is that by pretending you are oblivious to the fact your five children are physically beating the tar out of each other while you're in the store, you are ensuring by the time you get done shopping they've worn themselves out and at the very least the 45 minute drive home will be quiet. No fighting over the music, who gets to sit in the front seat, who's touching who, or yelling at them for sneaking the potato chips out of the bag when they are passed out from exhaustion!
All the relationships with your family change as you get older... it's a natural process. I don't think it's natural for siblings to actually like each other until they don't live under the same roof. The same with the parent-child relationships. Every kid will always favor one parent for one reason or another. I happened to be a Daddy's girl and am proud to say I am even to this day! By the time I got into high school, I believe that my Mom and I tolerated each other out of necessity. It wasn't until college that I started to figure out why that was: WE ARE THE SAME PERSON. Funny how as you start to get older, you begin to realize all the things about yourself that is the same as your parents.
It took moving out of my parents' home for my Mom and I to actually form a close relationship. At 26 years old, I have no problem admitting that I talk to my Mom at least once a day. Often twice. Being overseas does put quite a kink in that routine. Now we talk maybe three times a week. The funny thing about these conversations is the fact that I am paying to call my Mother from Greece and every time a call comes in on the other line she swears she has to take the call! There are two issues I have with this. One being my Mom is nothing if not long-winded. I swear phone solicitors have to hang up on her! The second is that despite having caller ID, after swearing it's a call she HAS to take, she will click back over and tell me it was the wrong number. Please tell me how that's possible.
Either way, annoyed or not, I have made my peace with the fact that in 25 years I will be my Mom. So I exercise the one thing I am in short supply of... patience. And if you knew my Mom, you would understand how that supply is quickly deteriorating!
But the great thing about my family is knowing that I have so many people to depend on. They are happy for me when I've accomplished something important to me. They cry with me when I am sad. They yell at me and tell me when I am being stupid. They let me know when I have made a decision, bad or good. They laugh at me when I've said something stupid like asking how there could be wallpaper in a second-hand store! They are there to share in the monotony that is my life. And the reason they are there for me is because they know I am there for them. That's what family is for... and my family is fortunate. For us, being there for one another isn't a duty. It's a joy.
Greek Gossip Game
Posted: January 30, 2007, 11:50 a.m.
Last fall when I left for Turkey, embarking upon my first WNBA offseason abroad, there were many things that I knew I would miss, like my two beagles Hektor and Ella, many I thought I would miss, like Court TV, and things I had no idea I would miss, like two-ply Charmin and toilets you didn't have to hover over!
One of the things I had no idea I would miss was my weekly splurge on gossip magazines! I went through serious withdrawal until one of my friends from high school started posting a weekly gossip magazine summary on MySpace as a sort of gossip "patch." Soon these weekly updates became very popular with many of my WNBA friends and teammates also experiencing gossip magazine withdrawal!
Don't ask me what it is about these magazines that are absolutely addicting. In my defense, I don't partake in the smut gossip like Enquire or anything ... just People, Us Weekly and In Touch! I enjoy the pictures of the stars all dressed up for whatever event, award shows, or just a night on the town. Come on now, people, I play basketball for a living! My attire consists of shorts and a T-shirt partnered with a towel to wipe the sweat.
Honestly, though, it's not only the pictures. I sinfully look forward to reading the latest news on Brangelina, Paris Hilton, Nicole Richie and what she's not eating, Mr. Spears and the trailer trash clan, Lindsay Lohan and which one of her boyfriends she's currently romping around with and who she stole him from … and, of course, Jennifer Aniston and the rebound relationship. I read the articles, look at the pictures and ultimately gossip about the gossip with my friends and boyfriend.
Of course, being a reasonable person, I know not to believe everything I read in those magazines. That goes without saying. But it never stops me from repeating it. In my defense, it's about celebrities and everyone knows the gossip, true or not, is part of their reality.
Being a WNBA athlete is fortunately a part of my reality, and even though I don't equate it to being a movie star, recording artist or fashion model, being a professional athlete is seen as a form of celebrity as well. And with it comes its own gossip!
Fortunately I have never been one to care much about what people say about me. There are few people in my life, other than my family, whose opinions of me truly matter. In all honesty, these are the people who know me for who I am. Others I meet along the way through one avenue or another and see occasionally? I choose not to burden myself with their opinion of me on any severe level because growing up in a family of seven taught me that no matter what you do, it is impossible to please everyone!
However the recent round of gossip among my fellow WNBA "co-workers," we'll say, has left me at odds to say the least. Like anyone in my early 20s, I can say without hesitation I've enjoyed myself, had my fun, made some great decisions and balanced them out with some terrible ones!
But then again, being overseas, as I mentioned earlier, can sometimes bore you to the very core. This year, instead of getting my weekly "celebrity" gossip updates, I am getting the weekly update on the gossip surrounding none other than yours truly! And I must say it is WAY more entertaining than anything I've read in People.
As much fun as it's been, I want to say how honored I am that people who didn't
bring a book, their Playstation, or enough DVDs to keep them occupied, are finding
interest in my less than eventful life.
Anyone who knows me well knows I have always hated to disappoint. However truth be told I am not nor have I ever dated a Bahamian model, I am not marrying a Greek aristocrat, I am not in love with a stripper nor am I a stripper, or ANY other form of entertainer of such a "persuasion." I will say there is something about a pole that has always made me want to dance but I guess we all have our weaknesses. I am not having a heated affair with a woman or sleeping with an NBA player (if that were true I wouldn't be spending my winter in Greece!).
In fact, apart from the WNBA season when I get to be around my team and my friends, I spend a lot of my time doing mundane things I find wonderfully enjoyable! I love working in my yard and doing things around my house; when you own it seems there is always something you want to do. Reading my smutty romance novels mixed in with educational material on everything from dreams to the mysteries of the Bible, speaking with my Mom on the phone at least twice a day, teaching myself to play the piano, refinishing furniture, shamelessly carrying on one-sided conversations with my dogs and most recently taking on the task of learning calligraphy! Doesn't the personal ad practically write itself?!
Actually, now, after thinking about it, I can see how the gossip part is way more entertaining than the reality. I guess I should be flattered that people waste their free time gossiping about me!
All Greek To Me
Posted: January 23, 2007, 3:06 a.m.
Life overseas can be challenging at times for various reasons. For example, it would take two months for me to get high speed internet in my apartment so I am blessed with the good old dial up! I can't tell you how many times I've teased my Mom about having dial up... funny how karma works!
There are many other things like busing to games, buying milk in a box, and my favorite... searching for tampons with applicators! But all in all, this being my second off-season and fifth country playing overseas I'm fairly used to the so called challenges of living away from home.
But there are always things that one can never plan for. We traveled to Thebes for our last match and of course during a 7 hour bus trip there is plenty of time for movies, music, and chit chat. This bus trip in particular was rather entertaining for me.
The movie of choice this trip was Monster with Charlize Theron. One thing you learn when your overseas is that pretty much anything "American" is desirable. I couldn't help but ask the girls if they knew what the movie was about... the answer... "No, but it's Charlize Theron!" So I suggested maybe this wasn't the movie they wanted to watch with the President of our team sitting in the front seat. There was no changing their minds so I simply settled back for what I knew was sure to be an extremely entertaining two hours!
For anyone that has actually seen Monster you know exactly what I was in for! The moment Charlize's character met Christina Ricci and there was an obvious attraction, twelve faces turned to me like they were the cats who ate the canary. I simply smiled and said I told you so. As we got further into the movie...rape, murder, sex, f-bombs, scandal...the looks were more frequent and shocked.
Then the inevitable question was sprung. Why did she kill all those men?
How do you explain to a group of women from a completely different culture who speak limited English the turmoil and damage that a woman of her circumstances and history could possibly have experienced without coming across as if you are defending the actions of a deeply disturbed woman? The only thing I could tell them was she was crazy and all I could think of is I was crazy for agreeing to watch the movie rather than read my smutty romance novel!
Still, trying to explain a psychotic maniac is much easier than answering any question about my love life! Sadly my team has not had the best of luck with American players. I've never had any problems while playing overseas with teammates. It all comes down to the basic rule I learned when I was in Kindergarten...treat others like you want to be treated! Sounds simple but the last thing I want to be known as is high maintenance no matter what country I'm in! So nonetheless, they've taken a liking to me and are trying to figure out how they can get me to stay.
Creativity isn't a strong suit for many. I can't claim to be creative in many senses...and match making is not one of my particular strengths! However, apparently in Greece many women feel like they are born matchmakers. So, their best idea is to find me a Greek man so I have to stay!
As flattering as it is, I had to share that my boyfriend may not appreciate the fact that my teammates are trying to find me a man! I'm not necessarily attracted to hairy men anyway... oh wait... I'm not attracted to hairy men at all.
Then came the silliest question... "Why are you
having a long distance relationship?" I couldn't help but laugh; uncomfortably.
I've never been asked that question. Because of my job I travel all the time...
different countries, all over the States... that's just my life! I would never
have a relationship if the person I was dating was required to be in the same
place as me all the time! So, the only way I could explain what appeared to be
complete craziness to them was to tell them the distance isn't an issue because
he is so wonderful to me!
No matter how much I think I've adjusted to whatever culture I'm living in at the time there will always be something that will catch me off guard...something to make me laugh and make me miss home and my boyfriend just a little bit more!