Still Loyal, Still True

Proud and immortal
Bright Shines Your Name
Oklahoma State
We Herald Your Fame
Ever You’ll Find Us
Loyal and True
To Our Alma Mater
O – S – U

I love this time of year. Once the calendar shifts from early September to late September and then into October, I begin to feel the weight of summer slough off. Not only does the weather change and the leaves fall, but also my body starts to crave the late afternoon sunshine, the dead grass, the pumpkin spice everything and long scarves. Often times, my thoughts drift back in time to when things were easier and simpler. They inevitably drift back to my childhood, like most melancholy thoughts do. I loved my childhood. I had my own kingdom. Multiple kingdoms, in fact, that I viewed as my domain. My safe place where my mind came alive with stories and characters and transformed simple things like a stone wall into a hedgerow in a field.

One of my safe places was the campus of Oklahoma State University. Like so many people in that region, I grew up bleeding black and orange. Both parents, my brother, and I all have degrees from OSU. My father worked for the university until I graduated from high school, and my mother worked at the university for 10-15 years, as well. I spent many, many hours roaming the halls of Life Sciences East, where my dad worked in a lab. I would later work in the same building as a student, and I remember walking those halls again, as an adult, and seeing ghosts everywhere I turned. The kind old ladies who worked in the main office. My dad’s colleagues in the lab, most of whom were much older than him. They were my honorary uncles and grandfathers.

Because I often accompanied my parents to work during the summer, I spent a lot of time trekking back and forth between their offices, cutting through buildings and trembling in fear at the size of the classrooms and the booming voices of the professors. Life Sciences West had terrariums that held snakes, right there on the first floor, I would stare at them, transfixed and terrified, until I would tear myself away, shivering with excitement and fear.

I got donuts and little cartons of milk at the Dairy Barn, which is exactly what it sounds like: an old dairy barn. Like so many of the old buildings on campus, the Dairy Barn had been transformed into something more useful to humans, and I actually spent some time in the attic of the building as a student, running inventory on things that no one used.

But my favorite place on campus? The entire reason I always wanted to go to work with my parents? The Duck Pond, or as it’s more formally known, Theta Pond. I loved the Duck Pond because there we ducks, lots of them, and also fish and lots of exciting little bridges to explore and dream about.

Theta Pond - Flickr

Theta Pond – Flickr

It was my own little space, a place I allowed other people to enter simply because I was nine and couldn’t possibly keep an entire town and university from crossing through. The trees were my forest and the bridges carried me across rivers too large to wade across by foot. In reality, the water was stagnant and often reeked of…I don’t even know what that smell was. It was and is uniquely Duck Pond-y.

Another chunk of my childhood was taken up by football. Most notably, attending football games with my family and their friends. We’d hang out at a dive bar near campus, back when it wasn’t unheard of to allow children in a bar with their parents. The bathroom was dingy and terrifying and as I grew older, would become the setting for several emotional breakdowns by female characters in stories I wrote because the bathroom was the perfect setting for the dashing of dreams and hopes. It also boasted a pair of paper mache legs that disappeared up into the ceiling. I, of course, was convinced it was a witch who would get me if I went to the bathroom alone so thanks for coming with me all those times, Mom!

The marching band doing marching band things

Marching band, 2002

Football games in Stillwater are a day-long event. Tailgating starts early and goes hard until game time. And then it continues to go hard for those without tickets, those who willingly hang out and listen to the game on the radio and cheer along with the fans in the stadium. Those stoking the fires. We didn’t do a lot of tailgating when I was little. Tailgating for us was the bar and friends and then a happy, loud walk a few blocks to the stadium.

Lewis Field, 2002

Lewis Field, 2002

As a little girl, I watched Thurman Thomas, Barry Sanders, Mike Gundy, and countless others bring fans to their feet. At that age, I didn’t like football but I certainly liked the energy and excitement and stadium food and HORSES. A perk of growing up a fan of the Cowboys? Horses. So many horses! We have Bullet, our official horse. Bullet runs the field before games and after touchdowns and is as beloved and revered as other live mascots across the country. Bullet is always solid black with light hooves and he’s a special horse — how many horses do you know that can enter a stadium of 50,000 screaming people and maintain calm and precision? He does, however, poop everywhere. He IS a horse, after all.

October 2002, after ending a 40+ year win drought against Nebraska

October 2002, after ending a 40+ year win drought against Nebraska

October 2002, after ending a 40+ year win drought against Nebraska

(A quick aside: as a little girl, my obsession with horses was like, ridiculous, and my favorite horse was the Clydesdale. One year for Homecoming, the Budweiser crew marched in the parade, complete with their team of six clydesdales. My dad worked his ~inside connections~ to the university and got me an up-close and personal meet-n-greet with those horses. I don’t remember much aside from being lifted onto the top of a barrel so I could actually pet them. They were beautiful and docile and I still want one.)

The old west end zone, 2002

The old west end zone, 2002

As I grew older and began to think about college, I had the usual rebellion against what my parents had done. I wanted to go to school far away, where I thought I could find…something. I looked at Colorado and Oregon but never applied. I knew, deep down, I’d go to OSU. And I did, willingly. I loved every second of that experience, as miserable as parts of the non-college experience were. As a student, my relationship with the university changed. It became a place where I invested in myself and where I learned about other people and cultures and became a better person.

OSU is my home.

As the news of the tragedy began to unfold through various app alerts on Saturday morning, the first tears I cried were tears of disbelief. Is this Stillwater? Did this happen? Why? How? At the parade? What on EARTH? It was incomprehensible. It shouldn’t have been; tragedy strikes OSU at odd times and with much force: the basketball team’s second plane crashing in 2001, two women’s coaches and two alums/donors killed in another crash in 2011. Ten years span these two events but for the OSU family, that span is much, much smaller. We find ourselves wondering why we’re going through all of this again.

I posted on Facebook and as the likes and comments started rolling in, I silently crossed off names on my list. This person is okay. This person is okay. Oh thank god this person is okay. I texted my brother, who lives a few blocks from the site of the accident. He wasn’t there and was fine. I messaged my bestie and waited, checking my phone every 30 seconds to see if she had responded. As more time stretched, I became more and more fearful. But then the message came. She was fine. Not there. Fine. Her son and his marching band crossed through the intersection with the first responders behind them in the parade. Several minutes later, the car tore through the intersection. Her son was safe. So many others were not. As the day wore on, one of my friends got the call from her boss. I immediately thought of my own work family and wept.

The thing about OSU and the Cowboy family is that we know about perseverance. Whether we gain it from having a really bad football team for duration of my brother’s years at school (do NOT get him started on that because he still holds a grudge) or from a horrible tragedy like this, we know about the strength of the heartland and pulling together. We know about putting rivalries behind us for the good of the state. And this just isn’t a State characteristic. Our biggest rivals, the University of Oklahoma, has been nothing but a class act all weekend. Their band flew our flag during pregame ceremonies and the OU chorus started their performance this weekend with OSU’s alma mater.

We lost four members of our family this weekend. A beautiful little boy named Nash. His mom is a student at OSU, practically a baby herself. A young woman named Nikita, a student from India. I cannot imagine the pain her family must feel, being so far away from their daughter. And an older couple, taken together, perhaps mercifully. They were my parents’ age.

It makes no sense. Tragedy’s defining characteristic is the senselessness. We all struggle to find some sort of meaning or reason when these things happen. She was mentally ill. She was drunk. She was on drugs. She was an untreated diabetic. In the end, those details really don’t matter now. Whatever happened behind the wheel that morning, the consequences are set and permanent. Calling her ‘crazy’ won’t place Nash warm and safe in his mother’s arms. Not allowing women to drive solves nothing. (Yes, people actually said that.) It isn’t a conspiracy theory involving black and orange and the media. (Again, yes.) It’s a tragedy. Someone either made a bad choice or suffered a medical crisis that took four lives with a fifth hanging on and 45 other people injured, many of them children under 13.

Stillwater is a beautiful town. When I fly home to visit my family, we go home to Stillwater. Sometimes I’m sad because the town has moved on without me, just like I’ve moved on without it. But then I’ll see a familiar landmark, a street called Duck. We’ll drive by my old apartment, which doesn’t exist anymore, and I’ll miss my friend, who has moved on just like me. I’ll marvel at the remodels on campus, the new buildings. I’ll head over to Morrill, my home away from home during my four and a half years, and I’ll sit on the steps in the sun with my bestie and reminisce about claiming that spot for our brainstorming sessions in upper level courses. We’ll eat too much food at Joe’s and laugh until our sides ache.

And then I’ll remember that this is Stillwater. This is home.


Anyone who was within hearing distance of our apartment, or following me on Twitter, got to witness the absolute upheaval of my emotions tonight while I watched the OSU game. At the end of it all, as heartbroken as I am over the loss of the game, and more importantly, the loss of women’s basketball coach Kurt Budke and assistant coach Miranda Serna, I kind of think that ISU deserved to win that game. We played horribly. Whether it was just our time to lose, a bad night caused by the emotions of losing members of the OSU family, or a stupid fluke, ISU out-played us. It’s been a hell of a year for OSU football and guess what? It’s not over yet.

Image courtesy of, which you probably should avoid if you are a rational and decent human being.

A few baseball-related notes: Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young, Clayton Kershaw won the NL Cy Young, and four Giants pitchers got votes. Congratulations to our starting pitchers, who basically carried the team this season.

Darren Ford got DFA’d.


Either you’re surprised or you’re not

I am behind on NaNoWriMo, which is not surprising. This is how it happens with me. I might start on a good note but then I fall behind and then knock out 30k in one weekend. MARATHON WRITING FOR THE WIN. My story is about baseball. See what I mean about either you’re surprised or you’re not? I’m writing about baseball. This should surprise NO ONE these days. It’s a good story. The writing is not good. The story is good. Or at least it has captured my heart. I’ve already shed tears over it and I’m only at the beginning, before the real meat of the story even starts. Our intrepid hero, Bennett, is just so down on his luck right now. I don’t want to tell you more because I’ll jinx myself. Maybe someday I’ll share some excerpts of it. I probably won’t but you know, whatever.

Speaking of baseball, SF Giants LHP Jonathan Sanchez (38-46, 708 IP, 607 H, 360 R, 376 BB, 736 SO over 6 seasons) was traded to the Kansas City Royals today, along with minor league pitcher Ryan Verdugo, for OF Melky Cabrera (.305, 18 HR, 87 RBI, .339 OBP in 2011). Fact: if you couldn’t see Dirty’s departure approaching from a thousand miles away, you might want to have your vision checked (unless you aren’t a Giants fan, then you get a pass). He’s probably already peaked and he was erratic at best in 2011 (when he wasn’t injured). A quick Google search will produce a dozen analyses of this trade that are far more sophisticated, professional, and based on actual facts than this blog post but my baby baseball brain says this will probably work out in the long run, if for no other reason than to not have two craptastic pitchers on our roster who are costing us waaaaay more than they’re worth.

And speaking of the Giants, I’m pretty sure everyone knows this happened over the weekend:

 Photo credit: Brian Wilson’s Twitter

The argyle socks and Nike Air Mags are just the cherry on top of this tremendous outfit. I should’ve known it’d turn out to be an awesome day since this was how it started for me. I was blearily putting together our Ikea coffee table (without coffee! right after waking up!) and then I just at on my floor shouting OH MY GOD WHAT HAVE YOU DONE at the television for a good five minutes because seriously, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE.

His mom must be so proud.

But back to how epic Saturday turned out. Electric Girl and I got a bed and a mattress set and I put together MORE Ikea furniture and then LSU beat Alabama and then I CRIED REAL, ACTUAL TEARS when Oklahoma State beat Kansas State. ACTUAL TEARS. ON MY FACE.

I grew up watching OSU football. I grew up on Thurman Thomas and Mike Moore and Hart Lee Dykes (okay, maybe not the best example) and Mike Gundy and Barry Sanders. BARRY FRICKIN’ SANDERS. Who is on Twitter, by the way. Oh and Thurman Thomas is on LinkedIn. Sometimes I’ll get an email from LinkedIn and it will be all THURMAN THOMAS POSTED A MESSAGE IN THE OKLAHOMA STATE UNIVERSITY GROUP and I’ll be all OMGGGGGGGGG and go read it because y’all, I was mad in love with him in the third grade. Y’all don’t even know. I WROTE HIM A LETTER AND HE WROTE ME BACK. He had atrocious penmanship but was very, very nice. I even got a signed picture! Which I need to find when I’m at home for Christmas.

Okay, where was I? Right. OSU football. So we’ve not been good in a long, long time. We’ve been better than usual for the past few years, and we did all right most of the time I was in college. At least I didn’t have to deal with what my brother dealt with during his time at OSU. I think they had a losing record every single year he was at the university. Oops! Anyway, this year we’re good. We’re GOOD. We don’t play like the OSU of the past. We make plays in the second half. We claw and scratch and dig it out, week after week. And last week’s game was hard to watch. So very hard to watch that I actually DIDN’T watch a lot of it. I kept it on in the living room while I built furniture and when I was done being all crafty and productive, I sat down for the last quarter. And aaaahhhh! I screamed out of joy! I screamed out of frustration! I screamed out of joy! I screamed out of frustration! I flailed with delight when Brandon Weeden started bouncing around like it was Christmas morning after the two-point conversion. I screamed NNNNOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO each and every time KSU tied the game up. And when it was all said and done, when we finally beat them, I was so relieved that I cried. I felt like I did during the entire summer, watching baseball.

Oh, and Brandon Weeden? Currently the only Yankee I have ever loved.

Don’t worry, Yankees. Sometimes I spell his last name “Whedon”. HABIT.