29 October 2010

The Dover Race

Sorry it's been awhile.  My life has been complicated for the past few weeks, but more on that later.  Back to my vacation time with Mom.  When we left off, Mom and I were about to enjoy the Dover race package that I had won, compliments of NAPA.  The proper name was the NAPA Race Day Experience, or NRDE.  We were welcome at the NAPA chalet all day, which was located in Hospitality Village.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

We woke up at 4:00 a.m. and left my flat at 4:30 a.m. after a short pit-stop (ha ha) at Sunoco (The Official Fuel of NASCAR) (where my mom ACTUALLY tried to buy the clerk's uniform off his back!!!) for breakfast.  We pulled into the Dover parking lot exactly two hours later.  Breakfast service at the chalet started at 8:00 a.m., so we planned on napping in the car for an hour, which would give us half an hour to wake up and find the chalet.  However...

Right in front of us were these tailgaters who were literally sitting on their tailgate and hitting the Corona.  The fellow on the left insisted on shouting "PUT THE LIME IN THE COCONUT!" every few minutes.  Not, mind you, singing the entire song - no, no; just that one freakin' line.  After a few repetitions of that, I wanted to put my lime in his coconuts, if you know what I mean:

They were literally about five feet in front of our car.  Mom decided she couldn't sleep with them staring at us.  I mean, it isn't as if they were staring at us on purpose.  They were just kind of mindlessly staring ahead (except when something caught their attention to the side, which is when I took the opportunity to take this picture), and that's where we happened to be.  Then, of course, they decided they needed a trash bag out of the back of their truck.  That's when the view REALLY improved:

 While I was busy snapping this picture, Mom was dying laughing at something happening to our left, which I did NOT get a picture of (sadly).  You know those port-a-potty tents?  Those little tents that you can take camping with you that hide port-a-potties?  These people who had camped out in the parking lot hadn't staked theirs down, and it fell over.  Mom laughed so hard I thought she was going to (sorry, I can't help myself here) pee her pants.  She was all, "I hope no one was in there!"  Meanwhile, to the right of the guys in front of us, we watched a guy (who had a grill in the bed of his pick-up truck) pull up about five inches, get out, shake his head, then back up three inches.  Hope that helped, buddy.

We finally made our way to the NAPA chalet, where we received a really nice goody bag.  The bag itself is a nice backpack, and in it is lip balm, a set of earplugs, a mini Sharpie, a decal, a diecast, a hat, a koozie, a poncho, and a coupon for wiper blades.  They gave us breakfast, an offer for a track tour (which Mom and I skipped), and a lunch buffet (burgers, hot dog, potato salad, pasta salad, mac and cheese, coleslaw, brownies, etc.).  We also got to enter a drawing to win Martin Truex, Jr.,'s helmet, and we could submit a question for the Q&A session.  Speaking of the Q&A session - most of the people there were people who are NAPA employees or who are somehow affiliated with NAPA, but you could tell they definitely weren't race fans.  The guys at our table had actually gone online, printed out information about Truex, and were studying for Q&A session.  Mom and I were cracking up.

Martin made his appearance, answered a few questions (no, we didn't have to answer questions about him - shocking, I know), gave away his helmet, and dashed away to the Drivers' Meeting.  I felt bad because a few people booed when they announced he didn't have time to sign autographs, but it was written on the information we received with the schedule of events that no autographs would be given, so I don't know what was wrong with these people.

I will say that the hospitality workers were pretty awesome.  No sooner did you clean your plate than they whisked it away to the trash for you.  As soon as you approached the drink barrel, one would approach from nowhere to ask you what you wanted (God forbid you should actually get your hand cold digging for your own drink!).  If you were headed to a trash can with something, they'd take it from you.  It was actually uncomfortable at times - "No, really - I can throw it away myself, but thanks!"

Martin Truex, Jr.

 Before Martin showed up, we had wandered around to some of the other chalets to see if any of the other drivers were making their appearances.  We caught the tail end of Jeff Gordon's appearance at the DuPont chalet.  If you look VERY carefully, you can see his silhouette smack-dab in the middle here (ignore the grumpy-looking woman in the foreground; I don't know what her issue is):

Jeff Gordon, I promise!
If you follow me on Twitter, you know that after Martin's appearance, I SPRINTED like all hell (not easy to do with a year-long groin injury) to the Interstate Batteries chalet to try to catch the future Mr. Min (aka: The Elusive One), but I was told I missed him by about two minutes.  Drat.

All of these activities pretty much took us to time for driver introductions.  We made our way to our seats, with a quick stop at the restrooms first.  And we had to laugh at the sign on the bathrooms:

Go Fast; Team Tylenol: Feel Better Fast

The race itself was great.  Our seats were amazing, and unlike at Kansas Speedway, when the national anthem ended there wasn't a race to sit down first because the seats are so close together (and bleacher style) that you want to claim your butt-space before your neighbour gets her/his butt down before you do.  This will be a spoiler for those NASCAR fans who are REALLY behind on race news, but I was very pleased when The Guy Who Drives Chad's Car won the race.

The Guy Who Drives Chad's Car doing his burn out.  Chad had given him strict instructions NOT to hurt the chassis.  "Burn all the rubber you want.  DO NOT HURT MY CHASSIS."
 After the race, we got to watch the cars go into the haulers and the haulers pull out.  The way this is done at KSS, you can't see this at all.  I took several pics of different haulers, but I'm only posting the most beauteous one of them all (and I took about six pics of this one):

The most gorgeous hauler I ever did see.
Then we got kicked out of the speedway.  Literally.  The usher guy asked us to leave about four times.  We were busy pointing and laughing at something and weren't done yet.  It was really Ria's fault.  She wouldn't answer her phone.

12 October 2010

Mom's Visit

When we were in Charlotte for the May races, I won a NAPA Race Day Experience to a future race. I was sent a list of several races (I think it was about 8-10 races), and after I found out that I wouldn't be attending school this fall, Mom and I decided to attend the Dover race. The plan was that she would fly out here for a bit to visit me and go to Dover, then we would fly back to KCMO together to attend the KSS (Kansas Speedway), and I would spend a few more days back in KC just chilling with the fam.

While Mom was here, it was important to me that she meet some of my friends that she hadn't met before who I had wanted her to meet. It was tricky because our time was limited and she had come armed with a list of things she wanted to see and do, too. This was complicated somewhat because her energy level is compromised by her Sjogren's Syndrome. Plus, as some of you know from my Twitter posts, I had been sick and bed-/couch-bound for about the ten days prior to her visit and wasn't feeling like attacking the city myself.

Nonetheless, we were able to fit in visits to South Street, Jeweller's Row, Fabric Row, Reading Terminal Market (my mom's favourite Philly haunt), and a few restaurants that I wanted to introduce her to.

On the Thursday before the Dover race, we met Ria, Curtis, and their daughter Angie. Forgive me for totally cheating, but I'm going to link you to Ria's blog and you can read about our Thursday over here on her blog. Trust me when I tell you that it's worth the read; we had a great time.

On Friday, we got together with Rachel (aka: Med Student), Kirsten, Peter, and Sue. We went to Mixto for supper (a Cuban restaurant in the gaybourhood), followed by dessert at Scoop de Ville in Centre City.

Rachel and Kirsten

Mom, Peter, and Sue

11 October 2010

National Coming Out Day

I know I owe y'all updates from Dover and Kansas Speedway, but today is National Coming Out Day, so I want to focus today's blog post on that instead.

Most of you know that I identify as bisexual. What a lot of you don't know is my journey. In recognition of NCOD, I wanted to take some time to document that. Usually on this day, I make a list of all of the things I am (a domestic violence survivor, a rape/incest survivor, a queer, etc.), but this seems more important, especially given recent current events in this country.

Whenever my friends and I play "first tv crush," mine is always Jo from "The Facts of Life," played by Nancy McKeon. She was attractive, she was tough, and she worked on cars (what more could I ask for?) Meanwhile, all of my female friends in school were crushing on Ricky Schroder and Kirk Cameron. Hmmm. One of these things is not like the other.

Throughout school, there were guys who I was interested in (I distinctly remember getting yelled at for kissing Mike G's arm on a field trip), and my mom was convinced that Scott from across the street and I would get married some day since we hung out all the time and seemed pretty inseparable for a couple of years.

Meanwhile, there were still girls and female celebrities that caught my eye. Confusing.

One night, I was at my grandma's house and we were watching "The Women of Brewster Place," and the old man accused two women of being lesbians. I asked grandma what lesbians are, and she replied curtly and with disdain, "It's two women who love each other." "Oh! So you and mom are lesbians!" "NO. We. Are. Not!" Con-fu-sing!

When I got to undergrad, I started dating guys, so I decided I must be hetero. It's just that I just also appreciated how attractive women are. I mean, there's nothing wrong with that, right? But by the time I moved to Philly and started law school, I decided that I had been wrong all along and I must be a lesbian. I was just way too attracted and interested in women to be straight.

So I started coming out as a lesbian. It didn't go over too well with Mom, so I kind crept back into the closet with her and we just pretended like that day hadn't happened. But my friends rolled with it. I mean, hell - I was at Temple Law School at the time. If liberal law school peeps couldn't handle it, who could? But then it was hard because I was still attracted to guys, and I felt like I was always having to hide that. Or having to keep it a secret that I had dated guys before. Or when talking to lesbians, I'd do the whole, "You know, the guys I dated before I figured it out" thing and we'd laugh and they'd go "Oh yeah, I've been there, too - ha ha ha."

See, I'd only ever heard the term "bisexual" once in my life. It was at an undergrad cast party (one of my minors is in theatre), and it was in context of "I know you're interested in that guy, but you should stay away from him because he's BISEXUAL." I really had no idea what it meant (other than that he had sex with both men and women), but it was clearly BAD and EVIL and something to be avoided at all costs. And if YOU were bisexual, people would want to avoid you, too.

Fast forward several years. I've dropped out of law school, I'm miserable because I'm a Southern Baptist-raised girl whose lesbian-identified but really like guys and is convinced she's going to Hell either way, since God only wants straight people in Heaven. Enter a wonderful therapist, stage right. We got the religious issue righted pretty quickly, but then we focused on the sexual orientation issue since that one was more frustrating, confusing, and persistent. She suggested that I may be bisexual. I suggested she was insane. She asked me if I knew what bisexuality was. I told her not really, but I knew it wasn't anything I was. She told me when I was ready to discuss it, I should let her know.

Eventually, through a lot of talking with her and with some really great friends, I came to understand what bisexuality is, and I understood that I am, in fact, bisexual.

I have since come out to the people who are most important to me in my life as bi. And that is my coming out story.

A slight aside: For anyone who has yet to visit the "It Gets Better" project started by Dan Savage to encourage LGBTQ youth after the recent suicides of several teens who were the victims of homophobia (why are bullshitting ourselves and calling it "bullying"?), go be inspired here.