Football things on Friday

What’s that you say? College football is back? How did that happen? It seems like I spent most of last year—and all of last August—obsessing over the coming season. (And if my TimeHop app is to be believed, I’ve spent all of August obsessing over the coming season for the past eight years.) But somehow the most wonderful time of the year snuck up on me in 2015.

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1st down: Admittedly, it’s tough to get hyped for football when you’re busy getting hyped for (and subsequently enjoying) an African safari. But a more sinister influence may have been involved, too: winter.

For the first 26 years of my life, the start of football season meant that fall—and a break from 100+-degree temperatures—was nigh. In my 27th year of life, when I was brand new to Boston, the start of football season meant that fall—and its associated New English delights (Crisp weather! Leaf-peeping! Pumpkin beer!)—was nigh. But in my 28th year of life, the start of football season has me worried that winter—and its associated New English miseries (Blizzards! Six months of cold and darkness!)—is nigh.

It’s not that I’m not looking forward to football season—I am, after all, a red-blooded Texan and an SEC grad living in the most fall-tastic region of the country. It’s just that my excitement has been tempered slightly by what comes next.

2-point conversion: But never mind that! I’ve got three and a half months of gridiron greatness ahead of me before the worst of winter sets in, and I’m going to enjoy every last second. Clear my calendar, barricade the door, and turn off the phone because the main event kicks off tomorrow, and Sean and I aren’t leaving the house. No, seriously, he told me we’re not even allowed to pick up pizza. Delivery or death.

3 and out: Good thing I’ve already got our game day eats planned: bacon-egg-and-cheese stuffed biscuits in cream gravy while we’re watching ESPN College GameDay in the morning; buffalo chicken dip and maroon and white brownies while we’re watching literally everything else.

4th down: Including, of course, the fightin’ Texas Aggies. I’m cautiously optimistic about this season, and not sure what to expect from our game tomorrow night. But that didn’t stop me from being the only girl in New England to proudly display my school spirit on #CollegeColors Day today.

5(0) yard line: That’s not to say I haven’t enjoyed the previews that started on Thursday. North Carolina v. South Carolina? Check. TCU v. Minnesota? Check. Baylor v. SMU? Check!

Extra point: I’m participating in my very first NFL fantasy league this year, and it will surprise no one that I drafted Aggies almost exclusively. (Including the Broncos defense for Von Miller.) With so much maroon on the roster, Team Ur Going Meown is bound to win the tiara.cashin_out_manziel_gif

When your grad student springs back from the dead…

Or: How we celebrated the arrival of warm weather & Sean’s break from grad school

The spring semester was tough on us. It was dark all the time, it snowed basically every day, it never got above freezing, and Sean was so busy with work and two classes that we almost never saw each other. And even during our few fleeting moments together, nothing was open or worth braving the elements to visit, so we never left the house. It was so boring and gross and depressing that I eventually started referring to myself as a grad school widow.

But mercifully, spring sprang out of nowhere at the end of April, just as Sean was wrapping up his spring semester classes. The perfect storm of nice weather and free time was on the radar, and we knew we only had about three weeks to enjoy it before his summer class started on May 26, so we were determined to take advantage by:

Driving around Cape Cod.
I swear, since the day we arrived in Boston, we’ve been asked at least once a month if we’ve been to the Cape yet. And up until last month, the answer was always a sheepish “no.” The Cape is the vacation destination for New Englanders, yet somehow we missed it on our epic Year One tour of this place. I dunno. But because it’s such a hot spot, it gets really crowded in the summertime. We decided to make our first visit early in the season so our opinions wouldn’t been tainted by traffic and long lines. And it worked. Cape Cod is a delight! Coastal houses and endless beaches and seafood shacks and lighthouses galore. Even though it was a little chilly, I really, really loved it and would happily go back…in September once everyone else has left.

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Going to our first pub trivia match.
Sean and I are both a little bit a lot obsessed with trivia. We listen to a trivia podcast whenever we’re in the car together and we’ve played our Trivial Pursuit game so many times we’ve memorized the cards. So I’m not sure why it took us so long to try pub trivia. But try it we did—at a local brewery with our fellow New England Tex-pat Erin—and it was a damn revelation. I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun on a weeknight. We didn’t come close to winning, oh no, but it was a privilege just to play the game. (Har.)

Watching the Before trilogy.
After my cruise to Germany and the Czech Republic, I was on a bit of a Europe kick. So the time was ripe for us to re-watch one of our favorite European movies: Before Sunrise. And we enjoyed it so much that we couldn’t help but watch the the other two movies in the trilogy in quick succession (as you do). They’re so wanderlust-y and funny and refreshingly real. Not to mention perfect for enjoying with a glass of wine and a whole lotta cheese. Once you pop, you just can’t stop!

Spending a day in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
Have I mentioned that I love coastal New England? We checked Maine off the list last year (LUV U, MAINE! Be back soon!) and the Cape, clearly. But despite of our best intentions, we hadn’t found time to visit New Hampshire’s little sliver of coastline…until last month. We spent the morning exploring Strawbery Banke, a living history village with houses that have been restored to different eras in Portsmouth’s history. (We visited a tavern from 1771 and when I told the owner we were from Texas, he said he’d never heard of it. Well OF COURSE NOT.) Portsmouth is known for its craft beer scene, so after indulging in history, we did a different kind of indulging. (The best/most interesting brewery we tried was Earth Eagle Brewings. And I say that in spite of the fact that I drank a beer made with cow heart there. I mean, it tasted pretty good, but cow heart.) Our last stop on our Tour de Portsmouth was the local lighthouse because, hi, have we met?

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Making indoor s’mores and watching The Sandlot.
I’d been jonesing to re-watch The Sandlot for months (good news, millennials—it holds up) but Sean was adamant that we wait until it actually felt like baseball season. And in true Sean and Sarah fashion, when the weather finally warmed up enough, we turned watching The Sandlot into An Event: We made s’mores (how could you not?) and timed it so it would coincide with…

Going a Rangers/Red Sox game.
Before I moved to Boston, I didn’t consider myself an especially ardent baseball fan. But I love, love, love Fenway Park so much that I just can’t help myself these days. I was anticipating this game almost as eagerly as I anticipate football season. And that’s a lot of anticipation!

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Visiting my brother in Minnesota.
To cap off our three-week freedom fest, Sean and I flew to Minneapolis to visit my brother over Memorial Day weekend. I’d never been to the Midwest before (Chicago notwithstanding) and I really, really dug it! The people are so nice! The cheese curds are so fried! The beer is so plentiful! (We made a day trip up to Lake Superior and had dinner over the bridge in Wisconsin, where you can buy a 50oz. beer for less than $9. WHAT.) Not to mention, there’s so much incredible nature in Minnesota—lakes everywhere (10,000 in fact), the raging Mississippi River, a waterfall in the middle of Minneapolis, and *ahem* a lighthouse…

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The best time I was on ESPN

I have a deep, abiding love for ESPN College GameDay. I may have mentioned it. (Saturday morning cartoons for sports fans, best thing to happen to fall since pumpkin spice lattes, etc, etc.) So when I heard the troupe was going to be in Cambridge for the Harvard/Yale game, I didn’t care how cold it was going to be or how early I’d have to get up — I knew I wouldn’t be able to stand watching my favorite fall show on T.V. when it was being filmed just across the river from my house.

I didn’t decide to make a sign until the morning before, and my Friday night plans meant I only had an hour to throw it together.
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But here’s the thing: In 99% of College GameDay scenarios, the set is so packed with people that it’s almost impossible to tell where one sign ends and another begins. Only the insanely clever or the insanely obnoxious make it on T.V. If I lived anywhere else in the country, I wouldn’t have bothered with a sign at all. But I live in New England, where they worship at the altar of Big Papi and Zdeno Chara — who’s Kirk Herbstreit? I figured if there ever was a chance for me to get right in the thick of College GameDay, this was it.

I figured right.

We got to the set an hour after the show started, and by GameDay standards, it was practically empty. What’s more, only about a third of the signs and a third of the fans were there for the Harvard/Yale game. Everyone else was repping other (more football-crazed) schools. (We met another Aggie almost as soon as we showed up, who just happened to be standing by two guys from TCU, who just happened to be standing by a fellow who grew up in College Station. Texas forever!)
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The area right behind the stage was barricaded off, and they were only letting people without bags inside. So my sainted husband told me that if I wanted to take my sign into the stage area and have the full, glorious GameDay experience, he’d hang back behind the barricade with my purse. That’s true love, y’all.

As soon as I walked in, my sign and I started making me friends:

  • I got a “gig ’em” from a guy wearing a Miami Canes jersey
  • A man with a little boy in a Harvard shirt talked to me about being from Houston
  • A stranger of unknown allegiance waved me over and pointed across a barricade, where another fellow Ag was standing with a gig ’em and a HUGE smile
  • An Ivy guy asked “What’s ‘gig ’em?'” When I told him it’s what we say at Texas A&M University, he said, “That’s what I thought. Did you really drive here!?”
  • A very friendly dude from California asked if I was going to the LSU game on Thanksgiving. (He was, and he was looking forward to the 70-degree weather.)
  • I heard “Oooo, Texas!?” more times than I could count

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I was only about four rows back from the stage, and the aerial camera was hanging right above me, so I waved that sign above my head furiously for the better part of an hour and a half hoping to become College GameDay famous. My feet went numb from the frigid ground despite my tights and wool socks and leather boots. And hey! Did you know that it’s possible for the meaty part of your hand between your thumb and index finger to get sore? All you need is a piece of cardboard and a dream.

Was it worth it? After I got the text from my cousin that she’d spotted me on T.V., I no longer needed feet or thumbs — I was able to get by for the rest of the day on adrenaline and my newly sprouted wings.
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