The long awaited unabridged review of Hope Solo’s book. No one was waiting? What? -__-,

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There has been a lot of discussion in the sports world over what Hope Solo’s book is about. Why she wrote it. Much of it negative. Discussion might be too strong of a word considering many of the people talking the loudest don’t seem to have read her book at all. I am looking at you espnW. Do they really not care to learn more about the woman they keep writing articles about? When journalism as we know it finally breathes its last I’m going to propose “self inflicted wounds” as the cause of death.

What is her book about though? It isn’t a tell-all about Dancing with the Stars. Sorry reality tv fans. You get just a chapter in the back. It also isn’t a book that is going to bring the USWNT down to its knees. The part about the 2007 debacle is what we all knew anyway. The bones of it at least. Only now fleshed out with her POV. 2007 is an inescapable part of her life so of course it would be included in her bio. There is nothing malicious about it. It is just part of her life.

By the 2008 Olympics, most of the major players in the plot got taken out by an aggressive case of bad karma anyway. In the long term, the remaining people worked really hard to grow up like in the case of Rampone, Tina, and Abby. As it is written the important people get a resolution in the book as in life. That’s quite a bit more peace than the media ever given her on the subject for example.

What is it about if not those two things the media keeps going on and on about?
To me it’s a book about someone who chooses to be happy. Who chooses that over and over again despite all evidence in life that happiness just isn’t in the cards for some people. You have to fight for it and continue to fight and you have to be ready to treasure the smallest shard that comes your way.

The two major figures in the book, Hope and her father, both came to that resolve during different stages of their lives. That isn’t to say it is some kind of moralistic story full of lessons or whatnot. Well, maybe if you are a fan of grace through fire Flannery O’Connor Southern gothic style. Pacific Northwest gothic? Twin Peaks? David Lynch can direct her movie. Someone, make this happen! Ok, back on topic.

Choosing happiness leaves her open for more hurt, often by people who should know better, but that choice can also be an act of defiance. Her father. Her mother. Family love tinged with the effects alcoholism and grifting. Always a battle between the two. More than once she seemed to be afraid the worst parts of her own personality were legacies of that. Would she be lost in the woods for as long as her parents were? Take soccer away and what would be left?

She is amazingly optimistic just by continuously trying for her dreams despite what the universe seemed to be telling her. It all goes back to what her grandmother would often say:

Don’t let the devil steal your joy.

Thoughts on the rest of the book under the cut, semi-related (or not) ramblings about introverts, and uneducated speculation. Best if you’ve read her book first. Maybe had a glass of Walgreens wine too. | Amazon/B&N

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Lightning Struck Twice

My two favorite athletes burst into the sports scene almost simultaneously five years ago. Derrick Rose had a 1.7% chance of being drafted in 2008 by the Bulls. That’s like a lightning strike’s chance of hitting his home city of Chicago.

Hope Solo arrived with an unquestionably inauspicious splash less than a year earlier. Her senseless benching in the 2007 Women’s World Cup semifinals, subsequent booting from the team, and the a media infamy that followed spoiled a world debut that had to wait until 2008 to be fully realized.

They are self professed introverts who live large (if sometimes reluctantly) in the spotlight. They are unquestionably once in a generation prodigies, enigmatic to a media that wants their athletes easily packaged like forever smiling Dwight Howard or “girl next door” Alex Morgan. Yet both succeeded even while unwavering from who they are. They’ve got that crazy, slightly unhinged intensity that all true superstars have concerning their craft and use their haters as motivation. They have their “true fans” and “haters”. Rose has his MVP-deniers. Recovery deniers.

Solo an ever present magnifying glass of bias media (think the Eye of Sauron all up in her business), 2007, and the shadow of NTs of yesteryear breathing down her neck.

Solo is a self-professed bookish loner who, while on the road, often chooses the company of a nonfiction bestseller over that of her teammates. “I’m trying to overcome those moments of being shy,” says Solo, who studied economics and speech communication at the University of Washington. “In front of the world, all of a sudden I’m a great athlete and I’m put into an environment with 25 other women and I’m expected to go to team meals, team functions… “I just want to stay in my hotel room, read my book. I enjoy that private time. And it doesn’t go over well on a team. But outspoken? I don’t want to say outspoken….”It can be a lonely world as a goalkeeper,” says Paul Rogers, who coaches the position for the women’s U.S. national team.” [READ MORE]

“I like living here,” he says (about his new flat). “They just try to make you comfortable. The people here, they are mostly from out of town; they don’t know who I am. That’s why I picked this place.” (It’s easy to understand why one would enjoy working in this building, too. When Rose orders two bottled waters for us during our chat, he hands the bellhop two $50 bills.) Presidents talk about how the White House begins to feel like a prison. Rose speaks the same way about the town that adores him. “It gets on my nerves that I just can’t go out,” he says. “It’s just boundaries now. People are like, ‘You can’t go here, you can’t go there, you got to let that person know where you’re going.’ It’s just weird. I’m never alone. Ever.” [READ MORE]

Recently they both went through major, near career ending injuries. Rose with his ACL and Solo with her destroyed shoulder. Their fall and rise back to the top is something to marvel at. Especially since both came from truly humble beginnings and through family, community, and willpower caught up to and then surpassed all others. Hopefully like Solo’s Golden Glove and gold medal performance Rose will also return from injury and claim his place in history.

Strange Glue

My birthday is closing out. I’ve been very existential leading up to it, but on the drive home from a family get together today I had a peaceful clarity settle in me. Not quite a Moses descending the mountain moment, but a lot more peace of mind than I have been having for months. I’m hoping it sticks. I’ve had my life plan interrupted by being sick with this blasted auto immune disease, but that’s ok. None of us were promised “easy”.

My parents tricked me into staying an extra hour tonight by bringing out baby albums. It was hard for me to not look at the photos and want to yell “You were sick and you didn’t know it!” All that time I was a little ill here and there, insomnia and stomach aches as a kid. “You were sick!” Worse, all those cake pictures from birthdays past. “Don’t eat the cake!” Stupid celiac. Stupid cake.

I came across this photo of me on my favorite birthday ever. I had to be six or seven at the time. We didn’t have any money, but my parents got my sister and I hostess cakes (a rare treat) and took us to a park where we had a picnic and swung on this giant tire swing. I kept telling Dad to push us higher and higher. He pushed us too high and I thought I’d fly right off it but I didn’t. I had the best time ever. In fact I am still trying to top that birthday. I think while looking at that picture something in my head clicked. Things are going to be alright.

I guess I should stop listening to this song on loop then.