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I vividly remember the night several years ago we got the call that my soon-to-be-a-Marine brother had been in a car accident and wouldn’t make it past the night. His TBI (traumatic brain injury) from the car crushing his skull was too severe and even if he did make it, he would be a vegetable and/or mentally and physically handicapped for the rest of his life. He miraculously made it through brain surgery, a coma and intense physical therapy. Against doctor’s predictions for his life, he now is a marketing manager, back in college, owns his own house and makes our family laugh on a daily basis.

Sadly, another local family wasn’t as lucky as mine.

Gail and Paul Casey from Clifton Park no doubt spent many a restless night worrying about their son’s safety while he was away fighting in Afghanistan. Yet Patrick Casey, 33, didn’t die defending our country. He died defending a friend at a McDonald’s in Washington, D.C. Sucker punched by an assailant still on the loose, he suffered a TBI and never awoke from his coma.

One cannot explain or begin to understand the senselessness of  this tragedy. We are only left with the pieces that have shattered around us. So many people have been touched by this soldier’s life– either while playing football with him at Shenendehowa High School or RPI, touring with him overseas or recently meeting him at a class in George Washington University where he was getting his Master’s degree. Perhaps the only small silver lining in this dark cloud is that many more people will be touched by this young man’s life- literally. His parents gave permission to donate his organs.

While he may be gone way too early in this life, I highly doubt his family and his friends will let his memory fade. Let’s help keep this “gentle giant’s” strength and courage alive by supporting his family this coming Monday at the Gordon C. Emerick Funeral Home in Clifton Park. Calling hours are 4-8 p.m.

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Things I Learned This Summer

ABOUT LIFE:

* if you tell the police officer you “have to go potty really really bad, can I go inside while you write my ticket…” you most likely won’t get a ticket.

* leaving the top down on your convertible overnight is never a good idea when it’s supposed to rain.

* having a puppy is kinda like having a kid. It’s great practice.

* traveling, whether to the next city, county or country, is the key to sanity.

* traveling with someone you enjoy spending time with doubles the pleasure.

ABOUT FAMILY:

* don’t volunteer to stay in the same room as your two youngest nieces when the whole family goes on vacation. You will get zero sleep.

* volunteer to stay in the same room as your two youngest nieces when the whole family goes on vacation. Your heart will burst with love.

* brothers don’t appreciate you trying to find them a good Greek girl.

* having a lot of kids runs in the family’s DNA.

* going to the grandparents and parents house just to eat good Greek food still counts as “visiting the family.”

* ignoring your mother’s text messages is not a good idea.

ABOUT MY CAREER:

* admitting that I hardly ever watch tv freaks people out.

* putting a sales job behind you to pursue broadcast didn’t make financial sense but emotionally and professionally, it was a great move.

* having someone tell you they want to get in the business after watching you on-air is a very humbling moment.

* once you do this long enough, you start to play devil’s advocate and tend to look at things more objectively  in general.

* wearing my hair up looks horrible on camera.

* when someone doesn’t understand how I can report for a parenting show if I don’t have children, ask them how can a reporter report on crime without being a criminal? or on politics without being a politician?

ABOUT POLITICS:

* city council meetings in Troy are NEVER boring. Although sometimes you wish they were.

* the political races in Troy this November have a lot of good looking guys from both sides of the aisle.

* there are always two sides to every story.

* getting political signs planted in your yard that you never asked for equals as garage sale signs once you’ve spray painted them.

ABOUT FACEBOOK:

* having a few good, close friends is way better than having a lot of acquaintances/facebook friends.

* never ask what a poke means. You don’t want to know the answer.

* don’t feel bad about ignoring game, or even, friend requests.

* it’s okay to not let people tag you, check you into places or know every tiny detail going on in your life.

* blocking people who continually post negative updates is okay.

* correcting someone’s spelling on Facebook is addictive.

ABOUT HAVING A CONSIGNMENT SHOP:

* multi-tasking on some days means sitting outside on the front steps with tanning oil and a good book in hand.

* threatening the neighborhood kids to behave actually works.

* having a dog with you at the shop is better than a chime at the front door.

* you can re-arrange the furniture/displays/racks as much as you’d like at any moment’s notice.

* being surrounded by beautiful clothes never gets tiring.

ABOUT FISHING:

* how to reel in a really really big fish.

* going fishing with a strong guy who has really big muscles doesn’t mean he’ll reel in the fish for you no matter how much you whine that it’s “too heavy” and your arms “hurt really really bad.” He would make a bad police officer.

* multitasking on some days means putting the fishing rod in it’s holder and sleeping under the sun’s rays with tanning oil slathered on.

* guys take their fishing very seriously.

* but really it’s all about one jerk on one end waiting for a jerk on the other end!!

My GIANT confession

**Disclaimer: If you are or aren’t an avid NY Giants fan or hater, you may or may not enjoy the following article. Read at your own risk.**

I love reporting. I love meeting random strangers and then interviewing them. It’s like a drug. Very addicting. My aim is to be very authentic and so if a story doesn’t require a lot of background info, I prefer to go into the interview very spontaneously. I don’t discuss in detail ahead of time the exact questions I’ll ask…one, because if the person I’m interviewing is so obsessed with what they have to say to me, they either freak themselves out or they sound too rehearsed. And two, because sometimes I don’t even know the specific questions I’ll ask. Luckily, it comes very natural to be inquisitive by nature and (pat on the back) I’ve done pretty well so far at it. One thing I always do, however, is get the person’s name and title on camera before we start the interview and ask them to look at me *not* the camera. To ease any lingering tension as they step into the spotlight, I often jokingly remind them “as hard as it is to look at me, try to do it anyways” (that’s pretty funny, right?)…well, last summer I got the chance again to head out to the Giants training camp right here in Albany. It was my second year going to the camp and I was looking forward to it because not often do I get to report on sports. While I like the idea of sports, I’m not a sports fanatic by any means and am not that knowledgable about sports in general… unless we’re talking hockey. Don’t get me started. I love the fighting action!

My football-loving photographer lets me know when we get there that we’ll be interviewing the players themselves as he was able to get us press access. This should be fun, I thought! Not because, well, they’re the freakin’ NY Giants but because I have no idea one player that plays on the team. I wasted the drive over checking out the local and national news on my phone instead of a Google crash course on Giants and football. I mean, I don’t even get football. I can never see where the football is. I forget which way the players are supposed to be running. I cringe when I see these GIANT (no pun intended) men gladly running straight into each other. How is that sportsmanlike?! I like watching it, don’t get me wrong. It’s just harder to understand. At least with hockey it’s pretty easy to follow. Really hot guys with great bodies fight each other…um, I mean, athletes with missing teeth skate around and slap a puck around the rink until it eventually lands in the net either by sheer luck or a stupid move from the other team.

I think to myself I can’t admit that I don’t know any one on the Giants team. I know there’s someone famous on the team. His name slips my mind but I need to interview him so I can put it on my demo reel and one day someone somewhere will be impressed. Touchdown! My photographer sets up in the corner outside the dining hall they’ll be coming to eat breakfast at before practice. I confess to him that I really don’t know all that much about football. He doesn’t look shocked but promises to help me out with names, stats and topics. Then they start to come. Some of the biggest boys I’ve ever seen in my life. Thank goodness I wore my 3″ heels, now I can at least look them in the chest, I mean, eyes. I proceed to go find my victims. I later found out you’re supposed to go through their handler. Maybe that’s why they seemed so surprised I was going in for the kill on my own. It worked to my advantage though. I didn’t give them time to say no. I just marched them to our corner set-up and went for it.

Out of habit, I went with the first question I always start with.

“First and last name, please?” I asked this shy, lanky lad in front of me while wondering if he’s the waterboy.

“Um, Eli Manning,” he responds hesitantly as if I’m kidding around with him.

Oops. I recognize that name. He’s some famous football player. I keep going.

“And your official title?”

“Ummm…”

quiet pause

“…quarterback for the NY Giants?!” He lets out a bewildered laugh.

I can feel my photographer laughing behind me.

I want to smack myself upside the head with the microphone. Correction: that brick wall by us sounds better. I continue on with the interview and realize I won’t be able to make this package about the upcoming season because I don’t know anything about the upcoming season. So I start questioning him about his love of the game, growing up and when he realized he wanted to play football, and other personal questions. I realized while I was a fool for not preparing myself for this interview like I should have, I’m getting to talk to him about his personal life something which he didn’t seem to talk about often.

I eventually let him go and continue to interview the other players. This time letting my photographer point out the player by name and then relaying important facts to me about them. But I like the personal route I mistakenly stumbled upon with Mr. Manning and take that stance with most of the other players. And one of my last interviews made the entire trip worth it.

After the interview, he leaned toward me and whispered, “I have to ask you…is that your real eye color?”

I wonder if my sparkling green eyes somehow turned a different color during the interview. I assure him they are mine and they are real.

“Your eyes are so intense and beautiful, I could hardly look into them while you were interviewing me. I didn’t want you to think I was avoiding looking at you.”

*sigh*

I now scream like a football fanatic whenever Jonathan Goff’s name is mentioned during a game…I may never let myself forget a rookie mistake out on the field, but my eyes never forget a compliment!