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Posted 2014-05-04T19:37:44Z

Rip City

I have been a Blazers fan since I knew how to walk. I have a running list of reasons Robin Lopez is my favorite player, and five or more may or may not be related to our shared love of Powell's City of Books. This is bigger than my favorite number being three from the time I learned it was Cliff Robinson's number until I read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Guess what number RoLo wears? That's reason #2 on my list of why he's my favorite. I love Sideshow Rob more than Robinson, more than Sabonis, more than even Derek Anderson - the only athlete to ever make it up on my bedroom wall in poster form. I mean, have you seen Fropez dunk? This guy is unstoppable in the key, and his greatest aspiration is to have a cameo in the sequel to The Goonies. He never says die.

My mother, well aware of my desperate need to match my headband to the color Cliff was wearing every game I watched since I was three, was delighted to tip me off to the best Blazer news in over a decade. I woke up yesterday to a message from my mom that said, "Watch the last .9 seconds of the Blazer game." Knowing that I created and colored posters for players each season as a child and forced her to save them in the coat closet in case I got to go to a game, she wouldn't tip me off to a bad play. Friday night, the Blazers took on the Houston Rockets for game six in the round one playoffs. We were up by a game in the best of seven, and would advance to the second round of the playoffs for the first tine in 14 years if we won. My mom's message was the first clue, and I went to my newsfeed on Facebook, sure the team would have posted any stellar play on their fan page. My news feed was nothing but celebratory statuses from everyone I know in the PNW. I found a link to the buzzer shot, and my jaw dropped as Batum passed the ball in to Lillard, and without hesitation Lillard shoots a three for the win - the one point win - that puts the Blazers into round two. Naturally, like any citizen of Rip City, I lost my mind when I saw Lillard's legendary shot. I rewatched the video about twenty times.

Now, my love for this particular sports franchise is not a secret though you might need to know me more than a single season to see how deeply my childhood was formed by running down the hallway with my headband chosen to match Cliff Robinson or how I considered a career as a Blazer dancer so I could go to every game as my job. I love the Blazers (but I couldn't care less about the rest of the NBA - in fact, my sister has doubted my love of basketball because I only care about one team rather than the whole league). However, I don't go around introducing myself saying, "Hi, I'm Laura. I love the Blazers, I'm passionately opposed to all things Bronte because of my unwavering devotion to Virginia Woolf, and I plan my summers around Discovery Channel's Shark Week." Some things just take time to learn about people. Even if I did use that as my opening sentence when meeting new people, it still leaves a lot unknown; I'm brilliantly fascinating, and I can't be contained in three random facts (though they can reveal a lot about me).

I learned some fascinating things about other patients this week, and it got me thinking about what I choose to share about myself and what I learn about others. I've been having meals with the 2011 Badminton world champion for weeks and didn't know until yesterday. What I knew previously was that she's fluent in German, Swiss German, French, English, and Swedish, plus conversational in Spanish. Every individual is a never ending source of fascinating - including you who is reading this. Yes, you the individual, not the nameless masses.

I've shared before how weird it is for me to write so much about myself and know so little about the masses reading it. Well, I've come up with an idea that doesn't balance the scales, but it will provide me with ample amusement and encouragement. Plus I'm a teacher who hasn't given a homework assignment in over three months; I'm withering away.

I'd like to ask every single reader to share some things with me:
First, who the heck are you? Some of you I know, some I don't. Please tell me your name and how you heard about my story or how you met me. For example, I know someone reading could write, "I'm friends with your roommate's parents, and I've been following your blog since you started." My sister could write, "Grandma Janet bribed me with Oreo cookies to get out of bed to meet you the day you were born. I liked the cookies more at the time, but now I think you are pretty swell and care about what you do in life."
Once that formality is done, add three random interesting facts about you. If I do know you, make them ones you don't think I know already. All the better if they make me laugh, and please don't try to make me cry. I have enough to cry about without your help; I won't make it to the Berlin early release of the TFiOS movie in June.

Second thing, why the heck are you reading this? Why is my story important to you? A stranger might tell me, "You seem like such a weirdo, and I'm fascinated by your strange response to life's rotten move to you. You're like a train wreck; I can't stop staring at the oddity." Thank you, kind stranger; that's high praise. My previous roommate could say, "I read this because even though I love you and complain to Kara that she gets to talk to you more, I consistently ignore your FaceTime calls and have no other way to stay informed on your condition because of my insistence upon not answering probably because I'm working."
Whatever the reason, I'm desperately curious to know why you keep listening to what I have to say; it's a conundrum that baffles me and my sister. We don't understand why people think I'm so interesting. I beg of you, tell me why. 

Finally, what's one thing that made you smile today? Or yesterday if you're reading this in the morning. I want to hear about happiness and beauty in the world. I think joy is worth sharing. One thing that made me smile was hearing Emily tell me the story of buying my Stumptown coffee at Bipartisan. Little things can brighten a day, so it doesn't have to be watching Damian Lillard's shot live (though I do know some people who were at the game and may have relived it all weekend on YouTube).

I can't expect you all to be willing to share in comments though you are welcome to use that platform. For those less public, I have a gmail account I used just for student teaching that you can send your responses to. I won't reply, and please know this isn't my personal email. I'm not giving you a direct link to me; I have a hard enough time replying to messages from family members. I won't check it again after the next few days. I also won't open them unless the subject is "RipCity" in case any of you are meanies who sign me up for spam. Nevertheless, I'm begging you to fill this inbox with these responses. Send them to [email protected]

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Comments (15)

  • Vanessa K
    Vanessa K

    Duuuude. I have zero cares for basketball anymore (sorry not sorry Rip City) but back in the day Cliff was my fave player, too (which also lead me to the number three being my favorite number). Twinsies. Which leads me to fun fact number one: 1. I went to the opening Blazer game at the Rose Garden (now called Moda Center because why no one knows). 2. One time I wrote Harry Potter fanfiction that has since been lost to the ether. Because God is a good God. 3. I have never done a cartwheel--nor do I ever feel the need to indulge. Love ya lady! P.S. My students like to ask me whether your tattoo is a lady wearing a lion head or a lion eating a lady. I feel that it is appropriately ambiguous.

    6 years ago · Reply
  • The Taylor Family
    The Taylor Family

    yup, SWEET SHOT by Lillard!! Will have to work on your 'assignment' later, Miss to bed! ;) h.

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Marcia Richardson
    Marcia Richardson

    My dear former student!! I know you because you were one of my favorite students at Faith and have become one of my dear friends!! As far as the rest, no time to share now, will try later!! Praying for you and sending love and hugs your way!!

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Patricia Rogers
    Patricia Rogers

    I taught the guy who helped groom Lillard to be the player he is and was at Weber State. From all he has posted, Lillard is a great Christian young man. I became your granny when your mom had you. Saw you when you were 2 months old the first time. Oh it was my first time to see you, not that you were 2 months old more than once. I just live for your posts dear granddaughter of mine. We get our plane tickets this next week. I pray that God will continue healing you and you might get feeling back in your lower half.

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Pam Nicholson
    Pam Nicholson

    Hi Laura. I'm Pam Nicholson, the mom of Rachel Nicholson, second grade teacher @ CSK. I read each of your updates as they appear in my Inbox because I care about those who have touched Rachel's life. I also am deeply aware of the power of people praying. God moves when his people pray. Facts: I love to walk or hike. My husband is one of the very best. We spent two weeks with Rachel last summer and were incredibly blessed to meet her students and colleagues and to also travel together to many amazing places in Germany and Switzerland. I smiled this afternoon while walking through God's creation with a friend from church. We saw new green growth bursting forth in the woods, water tumbling down over rocks and fallen branches, multiple colorful warblers flitting among the trees. We heard the sounds of this beauty when the warblers twittered above, as the rushing water of the river passed far below, and the trees creaked like wooden stairs in the sometimes careless breezes. We tasted the berries, bright red, juicy and mint flavored. Fresh smells of new life filled our beings while the touch of God's presence enveloped our very souls. I smiled with gratitude. And I smile again putting into words this joy filled experience for you to picture in your mind's eye, thousands of miles away, while you too walk through God's creation.

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Carol Bonham
    Carol Bonham

    We met because I had the pleasure of helping you settle into life in Germany last August. I love animals (I guess you knew that - it is such a draw to visit you because I get to walk past all the cool critters ;) ). I love getting out into nature - looking forward to when you can go out on walks with me. I am afraid of heights but went parasailing once and found it to be a truly worshipful experience. I follow your post because I love to see the many ways that God shows up in your life and I love learning from the life lessons he has been teaching you - you explain them so eloquently. I smiled yesterday when I learned that if you smile and give direct eye contact to strangers (read men) in Germany, they think you are coming on to them. Who knew? I have been flirting for 13 years and didn't know it!!!

    6 years ago · Reply
  • George Wood
    George Wood

    George Wood Hi Laura, I was praying for you before you were born as your folks have been good friends of ours since the 70's. It seems only right that as I continue to pray for them that I continue to pray for you too, especially now. I love to see how God chooses to answer our prayers. He is using you to glorify HIm. I have so appreciated your attitude and outlook! I smiled and praised God today as I climbed to several towers on the Great Wall of China. The hills were steep, the wind was crisp, and my legs were saying this is a great workout, but you will feel it tomorrow. Blessings to you.

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Carol Newlin
    Carol Newlin

    Laura, I've known your mom since she was about 7 years old and your Grandmother was my Brownie leader. I was in your parents' wedding. You may not know that I have a cousin who suffered a similar injury at age 27 and has been totally paralyzed from the neck down for 25 years. He went on to graduate college and earn a Masters after his injury. The way he coped with this challenge, changed the way I look at everything. I like to read your entries because they are not only funny, interesting or inspiring, but they are about a young woman who is exploring the meaning of her life in the context of a combination of unusual circumstances - in a Rehab facility with other patients; in a foreign country; on your own far from family; away from your chosen career. It's interesting to someone from a "normal" life. I like to look up. If you look up a lot you see cool clouds, beautiful birds flying or perched in high places, trees blooming, sunshine, rain or snow, and an immeasurable expanse of openness. I love that. It opens my mind and makes me grateful for life. You too make me grateful!

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Patty Beal
    Patty Beal

    Laura, I first heard of you through Mike & Michelle Gawlinski & Ginger Hanford from BFA. They are faithful members of our prayer group at Center Point Community Church in Naples, Florida, for which I am the unofficial "secretary." I believe we started praying for you before you were out of surgery & once we read your first prayer request we knew we loved you & wanted to intercede in your behalf. I am a semi-retired court reporter, no longer able physically to do the stenography part, but I still edit transcripts for another reporter. I literally do not have to get out of bed to go to work. I spend a good deal of time watching over our 17 1/2 year old Lab mix Minnie, who has almost as much trouble walking as you do & lives on for reasons we do not understand. My husband of almost 31 years, Mike, is a lawyer/bass player/softball umpire. I smile a lot because God is good & it also helps my disposition. <><

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Beth Viducich
    Beth Viducich

    Laura... I have known you since you were say... months old in the nursery at CMBC! That said, I have prayed for you over the years and will not stop now! Our Laura and you are 2 months apart and I have watched you grow up. Why do I read this blog? It is about YOU and how Jesus is healing you... remember that dance I am doing for you? AND, it comes to my email as a reminder each time you add a note. Keep them coming! What do you want to know about me? Lets see... I am the oldest of 5 kids... and now the oldest one in my entire family--eek! How did that happen? I think reading books to little kids is one of my most favorite things to do--I like being interrupted for questions and to look at the pictures and to talk about it all. I met Tony when I was 17... that was A LONG time ago and he is my bestie. Lastly, I love flowers, color and life-- sunshine and being outside top off a great day. Nothing too funny though I do seem to have a gravitational pull towards the wrong sex bathrooms... with some harrowing moments! Someday I will learn to look at the sign first!

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Deb Piccirillo
    Deb Piccirillo

    Hi, Laura. I attend Pastor Bill Bateman's church in Downingtown, PA, USA. He added you and your situation to our prayer request sheet, so I started praying for you. Then I asked him one day for an update on your condition, and he mentioned your blog. I have read almost all of your entries; you're an amazing woman! I pray for you contantly. I pray for you because I am priviledged, through Jesus, to have access to the throne of the One True Most High God, and shame on me if I didn't avail myself of that opportunity on your behalf. I am 55 yrs old, I have raised four children, and I am a teacher--like you. That's one connection we have. I teach English in a local community college, and my students are wonderful. Thank you for being so transparent and for pointing so many people, like myself, to the Lord. I am enjoying getting to know you.

    6 years ago · Reply
  • The Barbers
    The Barbers

    Laura, we (Michele and I met you) at BFA at one of those get-to-know-the-new-staff events. We didn't get to know you well since we worked in separate buildings but like all staff, we were slowly learning names and jobs and such. We knew multiple of your housemates better because of other interactions with them. We started praying the weekend of your injury when we first heard. As a PT, I have eagerly followed your progress because I have worked with people relearning the same things you are now relearning. Every rehab is different, though they often follow similar paths to similar goals. I really enjoy your blog and am excited both as a friend and as at PT at each new step of progress. I enjoyed the "ironic pun" in the first line of your post. Was that intentional?

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Angela Ray
    Angela Ray

    Hmm, I don't remember the whole assignment but I will do my best. I met you the launch service for Westport church! I read because you inspire me. Random facts: 1. I love muscle cars. I had a 77 Chevy nova in high school. I wanted to Jack up the back and paint it people. But some kids t-boned me and totaled my baby. 2. I have the sense of humor of a six grade boy(you may already know that) 3. I someday want to vacation in Bora Bora and spend my days laying in a hammock. I love you sweet friend.

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Angela Ray
    Angela Ray

    That should say paint it purple. I'm doing this on my phone, so cute me some slack. :-P

    6 years ago · Reply
  • Chantelle Meyer
    Chantelle Meyer

    Laura, we met at Concordia as the two English/Teaching majors in the Honors program with blonde hair and black glasses. We bonded over Starbucks, church, your SuperBirthdayBowl party, and reading Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire as we drove up to Chelsea's house. I found out about your accident the same weekend another friend found out her cancer had returned and the day before my grandpa died. Every time I think of one of you important people to me, I think of the others, as well. I have been praying for you! Someday we will finish writing Twilight: The Musical. As for things about me you may or may not know: 1. I officially graduated with my MFA in Children's Literature yesterday. 2. I finished writing a book! I also have several short stories, but haven't pursued publishing yet. 3. I am very obsessed with all things related to The Avengers. Thank you for your thoughtful posts on life, hope, faith, pain, suffering, and healing. God's hand is with you and prove his love to us! Oregon misses you.

    6 years ago · Reply