Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Oh, The Places You'll Go!

Always an avid reader, as a child you would often find me reading Dr. Suess books. There was no particular reason why I enjoyed these specific stories, but I’m pretty sure it had a lot to do with the fact they rhymed and the characters were funky and colorful.

Now as an adult (did I really just call myself that? Wow, I’m so mature) I’m finally realizing the deeper meaning most Dr. Suess stories hold, particularly, the one titled Oh, the Places You’ll Go! Since arriving in Portugal, this book has been on my mind and I haven’t been able to shake it. Perhaps I have a lot a free time, thus I’m re-living childhood memories, or maybe, just maybe, this story has come to my attention because I’m living it. Call me crazy, but re-reading Dr. Suess’ words have really struck a chord. I'm finding I can relate to everything he writes in his book - it’s almost uncanny.

Congratulations, today is your day/You’re off to great places/You’re off and away…
Those of you close to me know what a difficult time I had this summer. After a better than hoped for first season abroad, I was on cloud 9. I had a very successful year while enjoying my time spent in Scandinavia. I don’t think it could have gone better (well, I suppose a few more wins would have been nice.) When I finally arrived home after 6 months overseas, I made a list of countries I wanted to play in and figured the chances of landing in one of them would be pretty good. As the summer months progressed, I found I wasn’t receiving as much interest as I’d like and none from my 2 countries of choice. My former agent wasn’t doing a good job of communicating with me or listening to what I had to say. By the time mid-August rolled around, I started to panic. Almost all my friends playing overseas had been signed months ago, while calls and emails to my agent remained unanswered. At this point I started to scramble and began to act as my own agent by negotiating with teams and coaches who had previously shown interest in me - which is not in my job description.

You have brains in your head/You have feet in your shoes/You can steer yourself any direction you choose…
I finally realized I needed to take things into my own hands and started getting in touch with other agents while explaining my situation. They were more than happy to help and produced results almost immediately – begging the question, what the heck was my former agent doing all summer? Did she forget about me or just not care? Since I was bound by contract, working with a new agent would be tricky. I was fed up with how I had been treated during the summer months and decided to put the wheels in motion and get in touch with FIBA (based in Germany.) In a process that took almost a month, FIBA listened to my issues and concerns and agreed to release me from said contract. I could now legally work with another agent. I eventually decided on Lluis Tunez and have been happy with him ever since. He’s been great. Considering that the European season was underway, Lluis did a great job finding situations that would suit me. He was also quick to offer opinions and guide me away from teams he didn’t think would fulfill their promises. I appreciate his honesty, as it shows he cares and wasn’t just trying to sign me and move on.

You’re on your own and you know what you know/And you are the one who will decide where to go/You’ll look up and down streets, look them over with care/With some you will say, I don’t choose to go there…
After considering my options, ultimately, I was the one who had to make the final decision. Though others would offer their opinions about certain countries, leagues and dollar amounts, I had to do what was right for me. Sometimes money isn’t everything (further evidence I’m officially a grown up…) After playing for a year, I’ve found how many European teams work and what amenities are important in contracts. Is a meal offered? Transportation? Is the team competitive? How have they done in previous years? How close is the apartment to the gym/city center? What kind of time frame do you get for Christmas? Who is the other American on the team? These are just some of the many questions that pop into mind when making a decision that will affect the next 6 months of my life.

You’ll be on your way up, you’ll be seeing great sites…
With the stresses and problems now behind me, I’m thankful that my situation in Madeira has worked out so far. I'm enjoying myself and basketball again, while also using it as an opportunity to see new places. I know I’ve touched on this before, and I’m sure I will again, but I can’t tell you how much I am thankful for what basketball has given me. Not only do I get to travel the world expense free, play the game I love and make money while doing so, I actually get to experience different countries and cultures. Though the thought of backpacking around Europe is enticing, I think I'd rather spend long periods of time in specific cities. Being able to spend months in one place is gratifying. Not only do I get to practice the lifestyle of the particular area, but I get the chance to better understand its culture, values, food, people, politics, language etc. If I was hopping from Athens to Rome, then on to Amsterdam and Brussels, I don’t believe I’d be able to appreciate the uniqueness and value each country has as its own. I’m not ruling out future jaunts around Europe, but I’m very content with how I have been able to see the world so far.

You’re off to great places, today is your day/Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way…
At any rate, I’m sure you’ve had about enough with my ramblings about the deeper meaning of Dr. Suess, so I’ll move on and update you about the ‘mountain’ I’m currently climbing. And quite literally, it’s the mountainous island of Madeira (trust, I’m going to have some seriously toned hammies and glutes once my time here is done.) I’ve already discovered and encountered so many wonderful things that are hard to describe with words and I can’t wait to see what’s next. As mentioned earlier, when living in a new city one of my goals is to learn as much about it as I can and be somewhat of a tourist. I’ve already met American vacationers and have been able to share some secret spots I’ve stumbled across. Almost everyday after morning practice I set out on one of my made up walking tours. Basically I choose one direction and see what I can discover that day. I haven’t been disappointed yet. From hidden free beaches (most charge on entrance), to a rock inlaid cave, tucked away farmers markets full of fresh fruit and veggies, obscure lookout points, beautiful eroded rocky coastlines, Oceanside promenades and narrow tiled side streets – I can’t wait to see what’s waiting around the next corner. I wouldn’t technically classify myself as a tourist, rather a knowledge seeker. This is not to say I don’t checkout the touristy sites, but what I most enjoy is finding local spots away from camera happy folks and those referencing their maps every 5 steps. Not that there is anything wrong with that – I just prefer to see where the unlabeled road takes me. You’ll often find me recharging at a tucked away cafĂ© trying to converse with its owner while ordering a coffee.

There is fun to be done, there are points to be scored/There are games to be won! And the magical things you can do with that ball/Will make you the winningest winner of all!
With a second game under my belt, I’m finally starting to get a hang of things on the court. Once comfortable, basketball is basketball. Each team has 5 players on the court, with the common goal of putting the ball in the hoop. Danielle and I work really well together, making us a formidable duo to defend on the hardwood. With both us playing well at the forward spots, a double team always gives the other an easy look. This league isn’t as strong as I had hoped, but the goal remains to win the title and hope my play gets me into France next year.

Boa noite,

Sidenote: Check out some videos I've shot in Madeira by clicking here.


Anonymous said...

Wow, a great BLOG. Where did you learn to write like that? You must take after your mother. It sounds like you are enjoying your new experience. Have another great game on Monday. Happy American Thanksgiving!

I'm very proud of you.
Love, Dad

Anonymous said...

Watch out for bats in those caves!


J said...

Why have there been no reports about the wine?