Tag Archives: Baylor

sleep deprivation, sports and social media

Calling all sports fans.

“Go my favorite sports team!” (Brian Regan, for those who’ve missed his hilarity.)

When you’re a sports fan living in Asia, you’re called to make some sacrifices. I’m specifically talking about sleep sacrifices.

If you want to watch your favorite sports team, many times it means waking up early or staying up late. Losing sleep for sports sounds silly to many.

This past weekend I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. to watch The Battle of The Brazos – that’s Baylor vs. Texas A&M, for non-Texans. It’s the official rivalry between these two universities that’s been intact since 1899 – that’s 112 years folks.

It’s the last year it’ll happen since Texas A&M decided to leave the Big 12 conference.

It was a heartbreaking game. Do I regret staying up?

I did initially, I mean, really, who is thrilled at watching their alma mater succumb to the Aggies? But now, looking back, I wouldn’t have changed anything.

During the World Cup last year I stayed up and woke up early to catch the games. I had mornings that started at 4 a.m. and nights that ended at 2 a.m. I cheered during the heart-wrenching penalty kicks in the USA games.

I’ve stayed up late to watch Chelsea FC games since London is a good six hours behind us.

Thank goodness for social media and free streaming Web sites.

When I watch games I tweet and post status updates on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s been fun finding camaraderie on Twitter. I am sure I annoy most people my blowing up their Twitter feeds with sports updates, but it’s almost like watching the games with others even when you’re alone in your room in your pajamas.

There’s something about knowing others are pulling their hair out waiting for Landon Donovan to take his PK.

There’s something just something about seeing tweets of jubilation when your Baylor scores.

There’s something comforting in knowing others are frustrated with the referees calls against Chelsea.

There’s something energizing in knowing you’re not the only one losing sleep to watch the game/match.

It’s the sense of community that social media has allowed. I’m not able to be at the games in person or watch with others, but I can have a shared experience via Facebook or Twitter. It’s like being in the stands, almost.

There isn’t any tailgating on Twitter/FB yet. There is yelling and cheering though.

I’ve met fans I’d never have met otherwise because of Twitter. I’ve connected with friends I can’t be with in person on Facebook and Twitter. I’ve learned stats and information about the games because of social media.

Sleep loss can be shared and tweeted.

Sports are universal. Sports have united people around the globe and it’s been made easier by media.

So, I’ll see you late at night or early in the morning on Facebook or Twitter. @thaitessa

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american pastime, seventh inning stretch, captain jack sparrow

Why do they wear hats?

This is a true Tessa question.

I’ll admit, when my mom and extended family said/wrote on my wall, Go Gamecocks, my mind raced. What sports season are we in?


The American pastime (pass-time?). It always brings questions to my mind. Questions, yes, I have many in life.

As you know, I’ve grown up outside the U.S. and baseball hasn’t really been a staple in my life. Yes, they plan in Japan, but I lived in China. I won’t go into the political and historical implications.

I’ve been to a few games, two, maybe, a Rangers game and several Baylor games. None of the games I went to were particularly enthralling.  But then again, I hear you go for the atmosphere (This can be expensive atmosphere, enjoy the air).

The college World Series just took place, as I found out one game in to the series, that’s series lowercase, lest we get confused with the bigger event, or are they the same? The University of South Carolina took on the Florida Gators.

I am a staunch Carolina fan, as is my entire mom’s side of the family. Many of my family members are alums and/or have grown up a Gamecock. I was not allowed to wear orange growing up and neither were my cousins. I recently found out from a Clemson fan that he doesn’t allow his son to utter the word “Gamecock.”  (For those who are not acquainted with the SEC and South Carolina rivalries, Clemson University is the arch nemesis of Carolina. Their color is orange and purple, random, I know). The rivalry is serious.

I naturally will cheer for Carolina in any sporting event as I of course will and do cheer on Baylor University as I am an alumna and have grown up a Baylor Bear since infancy. My dad’s side of the family has several generations of Baylor Bears. One time in my college career, Baylor played Carolina in basketball. I sat in the Bear Pit, the crazy student section, with my jersey and I sported a Carolina baseball cap. I wasn’t too popular among my Baylor compatriots.

I’ll always cheer on both universities on in whatever sporting event.

My mom and dad and I Skyped through portions of the last two baseball games. I had many questions and musings.

The second game in the series went into 11 innings I believe.

“Is it like sudden death in soccer? Whoever scores, wins?” I ask.

“No honey,” my dad and mom said. Florida bats last. Ah, right.

Then, today, in the third game, I forget that there are normally nine innings, I’d misremembered and thought there were seven. Oops.

The seventh inning stretch. Ah yes, stretching is good. It reminds me of the intermission in movie theaters in India. I hear they stop the movie at exactly halfway through the movie, even if it’s in mid-sentence. Everyone gets up an uses the little girls or little boys rooms and buys meals.

Do the players stretch more than they normally do during this time period?

I couldn’t help but think that the pitcher’s dominant arm must be massive in comparison to their dominant arm. Are they then lopsided because of the imbalance of weight? Maybe this causes a swagger in their walk. Think Captain Jack Sparrow, without the rum.

I think it would stink to be the catcher. You are Asian squatting for ump-teen (not to be confused with umpire, which also sounds like empire, maybe they have empires) innings. The catcher has to arrange his mitt and catch ridiculously fast balls. Balls that go faster than any car in Thailand ever has. I can’t fathom throwing something faster than a car. Can you?

Also, can you imagine how bad it would hurt as the batter to get hit by a ball? Yep, that’ll leave a bruise.

Who would try to steal bases when the pitcher can throw as fast as a race car? But then again, does the pitcher have eyes in the back of their head to know they’re stealing bases?

“Why do they wear baseball hats?” I asked my mom on Skype.

“Why do they wear hats,” my mom repeated. “This is a true, true Tessa question.”

I’ve been known throughout my growing up years to ask similar questions, I’ve always got to know the mechanics.

My mom told me they wear hats to shield the sun, even though this particular game is at night, to keep sweat out of their eyes and to “complete the total look of the uniform.”

OK, I can respect that. It’s be like not wearing socks with cleats or volleyball knee pads. And, by the general populace wearing them, we can all simulate the Captain Jack Sparrow swagger without the rum or massive throwing arm.

Baseball. I’m still learning about American culture. I am still asking questions. When you’re a third culture kid, there is always another question because there’s no true place that’s completely home.

Carolina won, by the way. Two-time champs. That’s right.

Don’t forget: it’s not sudden death, there are nine innings unless there’s a tie, you can be Captain Jack Sparrow and don’t get hit by a fastball.


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lions and tigers and bears. oh my.

I loved watching “The Wizard of Oz” as a child. Those ruby red shoes were so cool. I loved watching the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion interact. The line from the movie, “lions and tigers and bears, oh my!” still sticks in my memory.

I think “The Wizard of Oz” was a crucial part of growing up for many people my age. Granted, the movie came out in 1939, but most people I know have seen it. Many people can relate to one of the characters in the movie, whether it’s that we think we don’t have the capability to have good ideas or aren’t smart enough (the Scarecrow), or whether we don’t have the heart to love or be loyal the way we should (The Tin Man) or maybe we struggle with fears and insecurities (the Cowardly Lion).

As I morphed from a child to an adult, I first became a tiger, a Grace International School tiger. During that time I struggled with fears and insecurities, but overcame them with the power of friendship. Then, when I went to Baylor, I became a Baylor bear. I found that I did have great ideas. When I joined Alpha Delta Pi, I became a lion and learned more about love and loyalty.

I still have a lot to learn about friendship, ideas and loyalty. The yellow brick road hasn’t ended. I’m just going to keep following, arm in arm with lions, tigers and bears. (Oh my!)

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When Hope Dies

The hooves were frostbitten. The horse lay on its side. Two of the horse’s legs rested suspended, thick and brittle from the freezing, North Dakota winds that claimed its life. A frozen expression of forlornness and depression remained on the horse’s face. Forever cemented.

It is 5 a.m., December 25, 1924. The sun had begun to rise on this Christmas morning.

“Annabelle. Poor Annabelle,” Theodore Smalley said. This horse was what connected Annabelle Neill to her mother, who is in heaven.

All the neighbors agreed. The horse seemed to have an ethereal disposition. Annabelle claimed she could hear, smell and sense her mother’s presence in every fiber and hair of the Palomino. The Palomino was not a workhorse. She was the prettiest horse any of the neighbors had every laid eyes on.

The horse had become a source of hope in the sad, monotonous lives of the ranchers. Now, hope is dead. Nothing beautiful remained in the impossibly flat plains. What happens when hope dies?

Benjamin Cartwright simply stared at the horse. Cartwright was the practical one. He grew up on the farm. Ranching and farming were in his blood. There was no denying that. Cartwright had an underlying disdain for the poet-in-remission, Theodore Smalley. Who needs poetry? He had said as much to Smalley when he first moved to Bottineau, North Dakota.

He knew better than to breach a question like that again. Smalley used words he didn’t understand.

Smalley had come to Bottineau to “rediscover” his pen for poetry. He had hoped he would find inspiration amongst the farmers and ranchers who lived outside the sleepy town. What Smalley didn’t like to think about was the current depression in the stock markets didn’t leave much need or want for poets or poetry. His creative ideas were squelched and bankrupt along with what seemed to be a nation-wide depression.

Instead of renewal, he found frostbite and drudgery. Life in North Dakota is hard. The majority of time is spent indoors because it is simply too cold to do otherwise. Not quite what he was expecting, Smalley would remark to anyone who would lend an ear. Yet, he remained optimistic.

The minutes of gaping at the horse and the impossible task before them seemed like eons to Smalley.

“I suppose it is too heavy for us to lift?” he said. He started to roll up his sleeves, but was reminded why this was not a good idea when the sub-zero winds froze the blond hairs on his arm.

Cartwright did not answer. Of course it was too heavy. Anyone with any common sense would know that.

His wife was expecting their first. He worried for Sarah. Night and day he worried. After Rachel Neill died, he worried. The baby boy had survived, and he knew what a difficulty Joseph had loving the boy, taking care of Annabelle and running a farm. He sensed a small measure of hurt whenever he saw Joseph looking at Samuel. Samuel had taken Rachel’s life.

There was a doctor in Bottineau, but that was 50 miles away. In winter, snow prevented the doctor from leaving the town.

It was Christmas morning. Joseph had asked Benjamin and Theodore to move the horse before Annabelle could see.

Joseph must have forgotten to take in Polly, the Palomino, on Christmas Eve. Cartwright could only imagine the agony Joseph was feeling.

“Come on,” Cartwright said. “We’ll get two of my horses and a cart.”

He turned and walked away.

“But, but how will we lift Polly?” Smalley said.

Smalley was forced to follow Cartwright’s lead when no reply came.

When they returned with Cartwright’s two sturdiest horses and a low-lying wagon, it was snowing. It was a flour-in-a-sifter snow, but it could turn into a bag of flour unsifted very quickly.

Cartwright tied a thick, coarse rope around the nape of Polly’s neck and another around her midsection. The rope was tied to a yoke that rested on Lucky and Jude’s shoulders.

“What are we doing?” Smalley asked.

Cartwright’s annoyance deepened. He could be helping me, he thought, instead of standing idly.

“Lucky and Jude are going to pull Polly onto this wagon. Once we’ve got her on the bed, then they’ll pull the wagon.”

Smalley was puzzled.

“Couldn’t we tie the rope to her legs?” he asked.

“Her legs are frozen. They’ll break under force,” Cartwright said.

Life in North Dakota was so bare-boned, so ugly. The reality of the situation seemed to catch up with the poet. This wasn’t anything like Boston. His circle of poet-friends would be appalled with everyday life in North Dakota.

They spent their days sipping imported Earl Grey and eating scones and philosophizing, romanticizing and spouting off epithets. Hours were spent spouting off lines of iambic pentameter. No one in North Dakota knows what iambic pentameter is. His idea of going back to grassroots wasn’t going as he planned.

“Well, are you going to help?” Cartwright said.

Cartwright and Smalley, with a good deal of trouble and cracking of vertebrae, managed to get Polly onto the wagon bed. When they made it back to the Cartwright farm, Sarah was waiting with shovel in hand.

“What are you doing outside in this weather, Sarah?” Cartwright said. “The baby, think of the baby.”

Sarah looked down and the fresh grave she had dug. It is harder to unearth frozen ground. It had taken more energy than she would admit to Benjamin. She knew how much he worried.

“Polly needs a place to rest,” Sarah said. “Annabelle will find out, and she will need a place to come grieve and mourn.”

Cartwright and Smalley lowered Polly into her final resting place in the hard, arctic soil.

“Is there room in poetry for Polly?” Cartwright asked.

“What?” Smalley said. Smalley had never heard Benjamin mention poetry, much less in this tone.

“Do you suppose,” Cartwright said, “you can write poetry about Polly?”

A pregnant pause followed.

“I, I suppose, one could endeavor, to write some poetry,” Smalley said. The thought of writing about a dead horse had never occurred to him. He was looking for something cheery, abstract and flowery to write about. He had never thought of writing about death, sadness and dreariness. Where was the nobility in writing about death?

He couldn’t seem to find anything noteworthy to write about since coming to Bottineau.

Life, hope and death—or the death of hope.

Maybe poetry isn’t about cataloging the revolutionary ideals and abstract principles. Maybe poetry can also be about the hardships and the unfairness of life. Maybe poetry is about hope.

What happens when hope dies?

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An august August

I can’t believe the month of August is almost over.

It’s weird how time flies when you become an adult. When you’re a child, time goes by so slowly. It seems like Christmas will never come and you’ll forever be in the fourth grade.

I think it’s when college hits that time starts its time warp. Does anyone know how to stop a time warp? Does sticking bubble gum in it work? Or what if you were to yell really loudly, “SLOW DOWN A BIT, WILL YA?”

I guess that’s why God tells us to make the most of every moment.

August is my favorite month. This is why I am alarmed that it’s almost over. Now I have to wait a whole ‘nother year for it to come again.

The origin of my favoritism could possibly be from my birthday. (It’s in August) When I think of August, I think of wistful days spent in green grass and afternoons in the summer sun.

I also think of August Gloop in the 1971 “Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.” Yeah, he was the boy in the Oompa Loompa song who fell into the chocolate river.

Hmm, that was a bit of a Debbie Downer throw-in. Sorry about that.

August also is just fun to say too. It’s fun to say in Thai too — “Singha khom.”

Time never slows down, so I hear, it only gets faster. This scares me because I don’t want to waste a day. I don’t want to watch days float past me like Russian racehorses on a clay track. I want to be a part of the race. While I’d like to think I am, many a time I think I take the lazy spectator approach to life.

It seems like only yesterday that I was walking across Fountain Mall at Baylor heading to the journalism building. A few days ago I sipped Dr Pepper floats. A few weeks ago I was a nervous freshman.

It’s crazy how time flies huh?

Treasure the past, savor the present and hope for the future.

That’s all I can say.


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treasures in teak houses

*I wrote this while in college. I’ve edited it some and added a few elements.

Childhood is now a silhouette, masked by adulthood. It comes back, my childhood, that is, quite often. It sometimes feels as if I’m living in a world of un-lockable memories. Well, they aren’t really un-lockable. I’ll be driving down Chiang Mai’s “super highway” and a memory will play before my eyes, like it was in real time. Just as quickly as the memory came, it leaves.

Allow me to relive a memory of my first home in Thailand.

It was a beautiful, Thai teak house.

Our first house is now a distant memory even though I now pass by the road leading to the green gate that encloses our former sanctuary.

Thai houses are covered in windows to combat the tropical weather. Central air and heat do not exist in Thailand. Heat is never artificially needed because heat composes every season. Window-covered houses are wonderful because of the amount of light they allow. I will never get used to the lack of windows in American houses.

Wood is an essential part of houses in Thailand. Wood floors, furniture and beds are staples.

Our kitchen in that house remains one of the largest I have ever seen.

There are no such things as garages in Thailand. Each home had a “carport.” Come to think of it, that sounds awfully like a Star Trek invention. Carport? Taking off somewhere? Not quite sure…

Our yard seemed as if it came from a child’s dream. Taylor and I romped daily  in the vast green expanse bordered by  mango and jackfruit. The yard truly  was mini-botanical garden — complete with tropical flowers. I wore frangipanis in my hair as my accessory of choice.

We held Christmas pageant in that yard. Mary was pregnant with a basketball. And the crew, a motley one at that, are now all adults.

I can’t tell you how many different worlds I traveled to in that yard. Imagination limitless, I sometimes lived in an alternate reality. Having just seen the movie, Inception, I would have imagined myself superior to the architect, Ariadne, in my ability to sculpt alternate realities.

My imagination never failing, I would get “in character” and try to trick Taylor into thinking I was a villain, or Zorro. It didn’t really work, but it upset him to no end.

We shared the yard with our cats. It started out with four–then they had babies. I believe we had 12 at one time.

One time, several of the kittens decided to climb in the gas canister. Someone turned on the gas stove and we found then blackened and with whiskers singed. These same kittens I dressed in doll clothes and kept my closet as a ward for. This closet cause the death of one of the kittens.

My room was huge. I had two double beds and a chest with a mirror that I would sing Testify to Love and Backstreet Boys’ songs in front of.

I played with my American Girl dolls, paper dolls, Polly Pockets, Pound Purries and Petshop animals on these wood floors.

On the wood floors in the den I watched Cartoon Nework. On those floors I received my first CDs.

My parents gave me a classical CD one Christmas and an extended family member gave me a WOW CD. That was the beginning of the WOW obsession and my love of music. I didn’t appreciate the classical CD then, but now I wish I had it.

There is something about listening to classical music that aids you in writing. I don’t know what, because I am just discovering this.

Does music make memories surface? Is it music that enlivens the writer?Do we have a way with words, or do words have a way with us?

We lived in four houses in Chiang Mai and I still think of that house with a sense of nostalgia.

This memory surfaced as I sat in my apartment in Waco, Texas, and listened to Beethoven, Chopin and Rachmaninoff.

I’m now sitting in my own apartment in Chiang Mai. It’s concrete, not teak, and I’m an adult now. Before, I’d banish the thought of ever becoming or calling myself an adult. But it has come. It’s the weekend before my 23rd birthday. I’m not sure how I got this old.

I do know that memories are funny things — they surface without a whole lot of notice. Memories surface for a reason and a season.

I also now know what treasures teak houses hold.


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