Category Archives: generosity

a tribute to team trivia

We are all linked in certain ways to certain people. The smaller the group, the closer the knit, the more bonded we feel. On the broadest scale, we are human beings, relating to each other because we share a phase in evolutionary progress. We are Americans. We are Tennesseans. We are Memphians. As the sizes of these groups lessen, our loyalty builds. If we hear about a fellow Memphian in the grander scheme of national news, we experience a sense of camaraderie. If a coworker or neighbor is put on public trial, we will stand in support of his cause.

It is loyalty and community like this that sometimes surprises me, especially under circumstances of competition. So when I heard applause break through the hanging smoke of the crowded barroom tonight, I was brought nearly to tears. The 12th-place name announced was ours, and the clapping came from a team across the room, one with whom we’d been competing the past few months at a similarly smoky barroom across town. To hear anyone applaud for us besides ourselves was surprising, but it reminded me how closely knit we feel coming from the same Wednesday-night Fox & Hound subset of the Memphis Trivia League.

Here is a quick rundown of how the league works for those unfamiliar… Teams convene at 43 bars across Memphis and the surrounding area and vie for points, gift certificates and standing at their respective bars. This regular competition goes on for a number of weeks, during which teams can be comprised of any number of players and show up whenever they want. At our location, first, second and third place teams each week received $50, $25 and $10 gift certificates (respectively) to the Fox & Hound for food, games and non-alcoholic drinks. Other bars have their own system for compensation. Each win gives that team a certain number of points that are tallied on the online leaderboard. Once the regular season ends, the top five teams from each location qualify for the first round of semifinals. Seven bars’ worth of teams compete in these initial semi-finals. With no-shows, 28 teams were in the game tonight at Brookhaven Pub & Grill off Poplar. From here, the top 12 teams will advance to the next round of semi-finals and on into infamy.

In all those weeks at the Fox & Hound, we began forming bonds, not only with our own teammates, but also with those who faced similar challenges. With a cheating team constantly coming out on top, we became closer with the often second-place winners, Spinal Tappin’ That Ass (hereafter STTA). They are a kind-mannered bunch of nerds (like us) who win totally on their own smarts and merit, no iPhones necessary. We always felt better when STTA beat Boats and Hoes (the cheaters, hereafter B&H) and when STTA showed up so low in the standings at halftime tonight, we were sad for them. B&H didn’t show their faces, but we still wanted STTA to make it through. They deserved it after such a valiant effort in the regular season. Little did I know, but STTA was cheering us on too.

When the final 12 teams were called that qualified for round two, we clapped when STTA was tied for 9th place. And when they called us as team 12, STTA cheered for us. Not just clapped, but CHEERED. They then walked over to our table, congratulated us with big smiles. Even as competitors, we were so happy to see that both teams had made it through. I rarely see such genuine sentiment these days. We were bonded by our shared location, our honest/fair playing practices, our desire to beat B&H into the ground and a general nerdiness that comes with being trivia players. And we were both underdogs, rising from the ashes of 25th+ place and 20th place to reach 9th and 12th. That’s a lot to go on.

Humanity astounds me sometimes. Even when I feel like the most selfish person alive, I still know that I’d be happy to see STTA win it all. It wouldn’t make me feel like I’d won it all by association. And I wouldn’t feel envious that we didn’t make it that far. I’d just feel happy that these great people won. That they showed us support, and we showed it back, and they took the win. I hope that happens. They’d deserve it.

Go BBB, go STTA. Team Trivia FTW.

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Filed under friends, fun, generosity, recap, thoughts

women of wetlands

I attended a great fund-raising event tonight at DU’s headquarters. My original Friday evening schedule made me think I wouldn’t make it in time, but plans changed and I was there at 6 p.m. sharp for the start of cocktail hour. And, let me tell you, those strawberry margaritas and daquiris were welcome after the week I’ve had.

This was a women-only version of the typical DU events held across the country all year long. (To find events in your area, visit DU’s Events map & click on your state.) It was great to see my female coworkers in a relaxed environment (sort of) outside the workplace. I got to chat with one coworker who’s a Facebook friend but with whom I hadn’t had much chance to talk up to now. And all of the women were thoroughly friendly and sweet.

Women of Wetlands has given me a new perspective of DU’s events system. Previously, I was all for banquets and male bonding and raffling off guns—every dollar helps further our conservation mission—but I never felt much like I fit in in that system. And even though many of the women in attendance tonight are hunters and outdoorswomen themselves, our common ground was our love for DU and its work to restore and conserve our continent’s wetlands.

Each ticket cost $35-40 and there were several raffles, games and auctions throughout the night that I hope netted a good chunk of money for DU. It’s hard for me to break out of my strict frugality (aside from buying my ticket to get in) but I appreciate how willing the other women were to bid more than an item was worth just to see the extra money go back to our cause—that’s a strong testament to our dedication if you really think about it.

Our emcee, Tad, reminded us of the preciousness of clean water and how privileged we are to be able to turn on a tap and receive fresh, clear, cool water that doesn’t require a three-mile trek to the nearest well or (dirty) animal pond. It reminded me of charity:water, but it wasn’t until Tad mentioned it that I realized DU plays a role in that, too, right here at home.

One downside to the evening: the all-male serving staff was considerably older and less dashing than I would’ve liked. Apparently last year’s crew was younger, sleeker and a lot more convincing when it came to selling raffle tickets to the ladies. =) But at least the portly bartenders didn’t judge me when I went up for my second cocktail within the first 20 minutes. Thanks guys. And thanks ladies. From me, DU and the ducks.

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Filed under environment, fun, generosity

the turning of a heart

I don’t really have time to write at the moment, but I’m doing it anyway, before I forget what this feels like. I know part of it is just that I’m seeing familiar faces for the first time since Christmas, but seeing my sister and her family is just amazingly powerful for me. They drove 13 hours from Michigan loaded down with a camper, two large dogs, three bikes and their 10 year old in tow. They came to Memphis, of all places. And while my sister mentioned that it’s just nice going somewhere they’ve never been, Memphis isn’t exactly a tourist attraction—my presence here clearly played a role in their choice of destination. Which is almost surreal to me. To think that anyone—let alone my older sister—would drive all the way to the Mid-South to spend Easter weekend with me is just… beyond words.

I’m an awkward person. I’ll be the first to admit that. So I don’t think my thankfulness translates very well when we’re face to face. I’m definitely smiling and upbeat, but I doubt I come across as bowled over. Because when I went there at lunch today and ate a PB&J, generic Cheetos and a glass of milk, I couldn’t have been more thankful. Even with a wet dog nose stuffed in my armpit while I ate my sandwich.

In about an hour, they’ll be coming over to DU for a quick tour of the lobby and my office before we close early for the Easter holiday. Then we’ll be finding a local pizza place… somewhere… and hanging out for the evening. I still remember the days of old when we’d do that very thing, in one of their various condos or another, watching “Friends” before it was in reruns, listening to awesome ’90s easy listening. We’d almost always have pizza. And everything felt safe and wonderful. I miss that feeling.

I know my sister doesn’t know this blog exists, but thank you, sis. I’ll say it more than once this weekend, and probably several more times through e-mail after you’ve left, but thank you for coming here, for making such a long trip to see me. For the e-mails we’ve exchanged over the past month, for your willingness to give me another chance to be your sister, to be part of your family. I may not deserve that chance, but if you’re willing to give it… well, I won’t let you down. Thank you for being there for me, then, now and in the future.

[I wrote a very brief synopsis of the reasons behind my strained relationship with my sister on April 6.]

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Filed under generosity, happiness, love, thoughts

charity: water

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Filed under generosity, health, lessons, web

catch the fever! (try to read it all)

Donate to Ducks Unlimited on my behalf!I know my reader base is not extensive, but it’s very valuable. Each one of you is greatly appreciated and often individually considered when I’m trying to decide what (not) to post here. That’s how it goes when your fan club is only 5 strong—you can make pretty much anything happen! =)

So, here’s where I prostrate myself (just then? I started typing “castrate”) before you, loyal readers and friends, on behalf of wetlands and ducks everywhere. I not only work for Ducks Unlimited—I also wholeheartedly support its mission to conserve, restore and manage wetlands across North America.

I’m not a hunter. I don’t even fish. That’s not a requirement for being interested in DU. I love wildlife, picturesque scenery, biodiversity—and clean drinking water! Wetlands are vital to the filtration of our water supply, and they help protect against flooding. Remember the floods in Ohio? More healthy wetlands would’ve helped curb that.

Enough soap-boxing though. I’m writing this post to ask for your help. I am currently attempting to raise $250 for DU as part of our brand-new Duck Fever personalized fund-raising campaign. Basically, you can donate any amount of money you want—from $5 to $infinity—and it will come to DU in my name. It’s spurring healthy competition between DU employees already, and it’s about to become even bigger. (Skip to my two guarantees if you donate.)

Aside from the benefits to our flora and fauna, the other reason I’m sharing this with all of you is because I’m extremely proud of my company, my amazing team of coworkers and the work that goes into our site every day of the week (literally). Duck Fever is one product of that great work, and I’m very excited to share it with everyone I know!

Before I get too caught up in the moment, let me say that I know times are tough for pretty much every single person reading this. So, please, don’t feel compelled to give just because I’m a big Intarwebs whiner. =) But, if you can, do consider giving $5. It’s tax deductible! My nifty little goal meter will go up (see it at the top of my sidebar?) and I will be able to laugh in the faces of my coworkers trailing way behind.

I have two guarantees for any of my readers who donate based on this blog post:

  1. Unless you are against the idea, I will dedicate an entire entry to how awesome you are (assuming I know you). I will sing your praises to the entire Internet nation. Nothing too personal, of course, but I will make broad, sweeping, generalized statements about your character, kindness, intelligence and good looks.
  2. For any donations I receive from this post, I will match you. Since I am out here saying, “Help me raise $250!” I should be willing to give at least half of that myself. So, I will match donations up to a total of $125. Sound fair? I think it should be enticing enough just to see the super-frugal gal squirm as she doles out her money. =P I’m like a side show, people.

Thanks for reading this lengthy plea, and I hope you will consider giving to DU on my behalf! Visit my donation page to see a pretty picture of me and read more about why wetlands rock. https://www.ducks.org/support/ind/?id=66

THANK YOU AGAIN, from me and the ducks! (Questions? Concerns? Comment!)

P.S. For any of you out there who actually think I’m cool enough to warrant a Christmas gift in real life, please donate to DU instead. 1) It’s a better cause than my endless collection of “stuff,” and 2) It helps me stay employed! Even better than a weird Japanese toy or pair of long-johns!

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Filed under animals, generosity, web

buttercream frosting

That’s what’s on my mind at the moment – I just finished icing a dozen and a half cupcakes for a potluck cookout this afternoon. The 1980s singles group from Hope Church is putting it on, the last of my church-related activities this weekend. Yesterday was the Hope blood drive, 5:30 service and attempt at a singles’ concert (didn’t stay as the fun level seemed dangerously low). Today I went to the Heartsong 11 o’clock service and the second half of their two-part class on becoming a “partner” (member) of the church. And I managed to interact with almost no one during any of these events. =P I’m like a loner participant in social stuff. Strange how that works.

My landlady is on the road to Kentucky right now, off to care for her aunt who’s got some pretty advanced cancer. What seems crazy to me is being that close to an aunt. I mean, of course I would be sad and do what I could to be there for that part of my family, but I can’t imagine driving to another state to be at their bedside. Maybe that just makes me a heartless person. =\ I don’t know.

My blood donation last night was pretty eventful. First, the person giving me my initial Q&A/mini physical was a hot EMT named Jim. Later, I reflected that I should’ve given him my number, but that’s never my first instinct. I’m too much of a wimp anyway. I also found out from another blood mobile worker that my blood is without CMV (Cytomegalovirus), which makes my donations viable for babies less than 6 months old. How cool is that?? And she said there’s something else weird about my blood that makes it extra useful in some other way too. GO DONATE BLOOD NOW. Even if yours isn’t as cool as mine, it’s still more than worthwhile. =)

All right, time to head out. Hope everyone’s having a great weekend!

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Filed under faith, food, fun, generosity, health, recap

southern kindnesses

Did I ever mention that the girl who cut my hair gave me her phone number and told me to call if I was interested in trying out her church sometime? If I didn’t, I should’ve. She was such a sweet person and gave me the best haircut of my life. I guess I should’ve called her, huh?

Yesterday was the second time that someone providing me goods or services gave me her name and phone number, with request to call if I ever wanted to hang out. I find it interesting that both of these instances occurred in Memphis; no store clerks, gas station attendants or masseuses in Michigan ever suggested we become friends.

This girl was a salesperson at Macy’s. She was pretty much the nicest person I’ve met in a long while – or at least the most obvious about her niceness. When I approached, she said, “Ooh, what did you find??” It caught me off guard at first; I thought she might be confusing me with another customer who she’d been helping earlier. But no – she was just being excited about what I’d picked out. Maybe I looked apprehensive about my $170 purchase? =P

Anyway, right after that, she asked how tall I was. She said her 16-month-old daughter is already up to her hip, and the doctors estimate she’ll reach 6’2″. After talking about that, she then asked how old I was. Just like I’ve been wanting to do for weeks now, she asked if I knew of good places for young people to hang out, since she’s 22 and wants to broaden her horizons from the club scene. I laughed and said I’d been wondering that very thing, though I’ve never really been to a club before. She was flabbergasted by that and asked if I was married. No. Dating someone? No. Then she pulled out a blank bit of receipt paper and wrote down her name and number for me. She said she and her friends go out quite often and would love to have me come with them. She said I should be prepared to get hit on a lot and get a couple marriage proposals (“But just say no!”). I had to laugh at that, and mentioned that I’d never had that happen either, so it’d be interesting if it ever did. She said I would with them. So funny.

I don’t know what my weekend plans entail, but calling this “Mandy Moore” chick (that also made me laugh) is somewhere on the radar. It would be nice to meet some young people around here, especially in such a random way. Stories to tell people and write about later, at least. One can blog about one’s job only so much.

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Filed under fun, generosity, plans, recap