My Trip to Baltimore

was a-maz-zing!!! Every minute was one I’d love to relive!!

Sunday morning I woke up like I do any other day. It didn’t dawn on me where I was until I looked at the right side of the end of the bed. On it was my outfit.

An orange, hand-painted Dallas Cowboys/Dwayne Harris tee, jeans, and a purple Ravens tee to go in my back pocket. I also had a Ravens hat to wear.

We get to the area and found good parking. Dayna (my cousin who went with me) laughed as she said she hoped to remember where we parked. So, I took a picture of the building across from the deck we were in.

Looking for an ATM (b/c neither of us had cash) we get to a hotel and go inside. We noticed people standing in a large group outside. Then 3 buses pulled up. I walked up to the counter and asked the receptionist why the people were standing outside. With a small attitude she says, “they’re waiting”. I responded, “I can see that but is there any way you can tell me what they’re waiting for’. Her attitude got stronger and she rudely replies “they’re waiting to leave”. I said okay and walked away.

I didn’t know it at the time but we were in the lobby of the hotel the Cowboys were staying in. Those people I saw knew that and were waiting on them to come outside.

Dayna and I get outside and we realize that the buses were for the team. I turned around and saw Dwayne and about 2 or 3 other Cowboys players walking out of the hotel. I knew he didn’t see me so I sent him a text saying “we’re passing your buses”. Or so I thought he couldn’t see me. He replies back “I see you”. I squinted and realized that he was standing on the second bus looking at me.

I figured if he could see me then that meant he saw my shirt. So I took my jacket off and turned around. Dayna laughed and asked me what I was doing. I told her that he could see me. I also sent my mama a text about me being right by his bus. She told me to take his picture but I wasn’t able to.

He called me and asked me if I wanted our tickets then. Of course I said yes. I figured an assistant or someone would get off the bus, come up to me and say “are you Ashley” and hand me two tickets once I said yes. Nope, I look up from my phone and Dwayne himself is walking towards me. He smiles and hands me an envelope. On the outside it said Dwayne Harris, Dallas Cowboys, Two Tickets.

I didn’t open the envelope and Dayna told me to tuck it away b/c we would be walking among crowds of people, many of whom would be begging for tickets.

We passed through Orioles Stadium and surprisingly I didn’t take any pictures. Well, I’m not that surprised.

Finally we entered Ravens country and you’d have thought I’d just been given a lifetime supply of free Chick-fil-A my eyes got so wide. I didn’t know what to take a picture of first.

There were purple jerseys EVERYWHERE. For just about every player, from Ray Rice to Torrey Smith, Michael Oher, Haloti Ngata, Ed Reed, Joe Flacco, Terrell Suggs, Lardarius Webb, Jameel McClain and of course Ray Lewis. I even saw a few Tony Siragusa jerseys. The Goose, as he’s affectionately called, is now an NFL commentator.

But, for every three purple jerseys there was one blue or white Cowboys jersey. I was a bit shocked to see so many Cowboys fans honestly.

A man more than twice my size stopped me and asked “whose side are you on”. I said that I was going for both teams and that it didn’t matter to me who won.

That is when Dayna started calling me a “confused fan”.  It was also when I realized that I would have to get used to being asked which team I was cheering for since I was wearing something from each one.

As we waited for the gates to open she spotted what she called “another confused fan”. A lady who’d taken a Tony Romo jersey and a Joe Flacco jersey and put them together. It was neat too b/c she’d split both jerseys down the middle and put them together where the back said “Rocco” and the 9 and 5 (Romo and Flacco’s numbers respectively) were merged to where they looked like an S. She’d even painted her jeans (for Miles Austin and Ray Rice)

I loved it and took her picture. And then we took a picture together. She noticed my shirt and asked about the player on it. I explained to her who Dwayne Harris was and we parted with her saying she’d look out for him.

Game time!!

We were seated in the Cowboys section (obviously) and so even though some Ravens fans booed as they ran onto the field I screamed along with the Cowboys fans.

And then the Ravens were introduced. I got my camera ready to film Ray Lewis’s infamous dance. The wind was blowing by then and it was moving me and my hands were shaking. . I screamed and yelled as he was being introduced.

I cheered for every tackle, sack, touchdown, interception, completed pass, incomplete pass. Everything, no matter which team benefitted from the play I cheered. I grinned and did a little dance every time I heard “Ray Lewis on the tackle”. I distinctly remember what looked to be Dallas’s O-line making way for him to get a good tackle on their RB. Looking at the replay on the screen it really did look as though they moved to the left as the RB (forgot who it was) moved to the right. Right into Ray Lewis’s path. He grabbed him in a bear hug like way and took him down.

If you’ve ever been to a professional football game you know that every team has their own little cheers and chants that are played during time outs and time taken for tv commercials. In Ravens country there’s this one chant that I’ve been playing over and over in my head. It’s a guy (who sounds like Fat Man Scoop) saying “when I say ‘protect this’, you say ‘house’. And every time the Ravens moved the ball down the field, the eyes of a Raven would appear on the big screen with chains that said “move those chains”.

Ravens country gets excited about defensive 3rd downs. So much so that on the big screen comes the words “Third Down” while an announcer says the same. Their cheerleaders are also a stunt team. I loved watching them do stunts b/c it reminded me of when I used to be a cheerleader and would get tossed in the air. (I later learned that they’re the only team in the NFL with a stunt squad)

They played Jeezy a few times and I caught glimpses of Ed Reed and Terrell Suggs dancing.

By the second quarter though, it dawned on me that there was a possibility that Ray Lewis and Dwayne would go head to head seeing as though one is on defense and the other offense. I got quiet for a while wondering how I’d feel if I ever saw it go down.

The Cowboys scored a touchdown and I started doing my touchdown dance. I looked up and the guy selling beer was staring at me and smiling. By the time he came back around the Ravens had scored a TD and I was doing the dance again. This time he gave me a weird look as if to say “weren’t you just cheering for the Cowboys”.

Once the game was over I contacted Dwayne to see where I could meet up with him to see him. Dayna and I walked around the stadium as I waited on him to respond. Somehow the lady from earlier (with the sewn together Cowboys/Ravens jersey) found us. She tapped me and said “I was on the field before the game and saw your cousin. I took his picture”. I smiled and she and her husband kept walking.

Dayna didn’t tell me she was leading me to where fans gather to catch the Ravens players leaving for their cars. I just figured we were buying time until we got word from Dwayne. We came to a crowd and she said “let’s wait here”. I saw this man standing by a door and slowly it was coming to me exactly where it was that I was standing.

After a few men in suits emerged from the door Torrey Smith came out. Well, a woman wearing his jersey tee came out first. He was behind her and behind him was a man and two other women. One of which I think was his mom. She was wearing a large grin and an oversized Smith jersey. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the woman who came out first was his girlfriend. She was pretty but she also had that “yeah, I’m his girlfriend” look on her face. I took a few photos of him and waited to see who would come out next.

Next up was Michael Oher. He is extremely handsome in person. I called his name out and he looked in my direction. At that moment I hated not having packed the tee I had painted in support of him.

I looked down and noticed that I was still wearing my bright orange Cowboys tee and told myself that even if Ray Lewis were to come over to me he’d ignore me b/c I was wearing the other team’s shirt. Remembering the purple Ravens tee in my pocket I handed Dayna my camera instructing her to take a picture of the next player she saw. I quickly changed shirts.

“It’s Ed Reed” I heard as I was fixing my shirt. I looked up to see him walking in between two large guys to his car. He was too far for me to get a picture but I have a mental one.

By now Dwayne had told me that his bus was under the tunnel and I wouldn’t get down there and that they were on their way to the airport. I got upset b/c I really wanted to see him afterwards. And talk to him.

I got over it remembering that in a few weeks I’ll see him again when the Cowboys meet the Falcons at the Dome.

Torrey Smith had gone back to the locker room (I’m guessing) and had come out again. I took a few more pictures of him. For the next 10 mins. or so men in suits kept coming out. I knew they weren’t players so I didn’t bother with taking their picture.

Dayna and I talked about how long it would possibly take Ray Lewis to come out. I said that he’d be last and hoped that the crowd would be long gone by then. “Yeah right” she said and added that “just like we’re going to wait until he comes out, so will everybody else”.

He came out not too long after. I missed that very first photo op b/c I was too in shock that it was actually him. I recovered and snapped a photo of him. He looks handsome in a suit and tie, like extremely handsome.

He came down the ramp and I left Dayna to get a better view. I climbed up on this gate and held my camera up. He got closer to the crowd and this plus size woman began leaning on me. She was yelling “Ray Ray over here”. He started rounding the corner to get closer to us and the closer he came the more she leaned on me.

You know that moment when it hits you that you’re falling? That moment came over me as I realized that the gate was falling. I was caught between it and the lady so as it went down I went down. Finally I yelled out “oh gosh, I’m falling”. Ray (and the security guard) heard me and stepped back. Wish he’d have reached out to grab me. The security guard saw the gate going down, grabbed it and asked people to step back. It was then that the lady got off of me. I was glad for that b/c I’d have died had I fallen face first in front of Ray Lewis. Though I did wonder what he would’ve done had it happened b/c he heard me yelling and looked in my direction.

I was finally able to stand up and snapped one last picture of Ray. It was a great close up of his face.

I went back to Dayna excited and out of breath. I screamed and showed her the picture I took. And then I tweeted about it.

My day had been made. Not only was I able to see him play live but I’d gotten close enough to him to get a good picture.

I’ve been smiling and reliving those moments in my head ever since.

I’m definitely going back to Baltimore for another game. Maybe not this season but next season and despite rumors, Ray Lewis WILL still be playing.


{October 14, 2012}   #30WriteOctober Day Thirteen

*screams* I’m in Baltimore!!!!

well, right outside of it if you want to get specific

The weekend that I’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. Tomorrow I will be at the very same stadium as my favorite football player Ray Lewis

Just wanted to say that I love my cousin for giving me the opportunity to see this game. To see him play live for the first time. To see his team (the Cowboys) take on my favorite team (the Ravens) in Baltimore!! A dream come true (literally)

the big question that EVERYBODY has been asking me though is “who will you cheer for? Ray Lewis or your cousin”. and up until recently I didn’t know. I’m going to cheer for both. for the entire game

another question I kept getting asked was “will you wear something Ravens or something Cowboys”? Answered that question about an hour before my flight. I got a Cowboys tee made especially for my cousin. It’s orange (yes, I’m well aware of the Cowboys team colors, I wanted this shirt to stand out and it will). It’s cold up here so underneath I’ll have a purple shirt and somewhere on me I’m going to stick a Ravens tee. And I’m thinking of possibly wearing my Ravens hat as well.

That doesn’t sound like it matches but right now (and this may change once I see how it REALLY looks tomorrow morning) I don’t care.

I’m so excited. Not too excited to sleep though b/c I woke up at 6 this morning to attend a portion of New Members class before flying out

Speaking of flying out, I missed my original flight but that’s cool. Had to succumb to buying expensive airport food. Wait, I could’ve but I didn’t. I only bought a small take out box of fries. Less than $4.00. and the water I had with it was surprisingly free.

There was a Chick-fil-A in the airport but they only served sandwiches. and you can’t use coupons. the only coupons I have currently offer you a free sandwich with the purchase of something else. Something else that wasn’t on the airport’s CFA menu.

this weekend will be unforgettable. I will def. look like a tourist tomorrow taking all kinds of pictures. It will be obvious that this is my first time in Baltimore and at a Ravens game. and I’ve been told that the Wal-Mart in Baltimore has the most inexpensive Ravens gear so you know I’m going to buy SOMETHING!!!

Every 10 or so minutes I grab my cheeks (the ones on my face), cheese really hard and silently scream “I’m going to see Ray Lewis tomorrow” <~ THAT is how excited I am

{October 12, 2012}   #30WriteOctober Day Twelve

A few moments ago I realized that I hated you. Okay, hate is such a very strong word so I’ll say that I severely dislike you.

You put me in a place that I never wanted to be in. and I’ll never go again.

I’m sorry that I allowed you to take me there and I guess it’s partially my fault but this isn’t about me, it’s about you

You found me in a vulnerable state and I unknowingly let you take advantage of me being that way

I pretty much regret every interaction we’ve ever had. SO glad I’ve never met you in person

You made me “one of those women” and I hate that.

I’m taking the necessary steps to rid myself of you forever

{October 12, 2012}   #30WriteOctober-Day Eleven

I hate how uninspired I feel during my period. I literally live in two places during these 3-4 days. My bed and the bathroom.

It’s sad, actually

Like, if it isn’t in my reach while I’m in the bed I convince myself I don’t need it. Or just gather up ALL my strength to get it the next time I make a trip to the bathroom

I hate how laziness consumes me during this time. No matter how hard I try to fight it

And what really sucks is that I don’t cramp with every period. And after having a period for over 12 years I JUST started cramping this year. Memorial Day to be exact.

And up until yesterday, I hadn’t cramped since.

So, in my defense I think I’m entitled to be all up in my PMS during the periods in which I cramp

{October 12, 2012}   #30WriteOctober Day Ten

I was supposed to write this yesterday but Mother Nature had other plans

*TMI alert*

We made our goal so as promised our boss put food on the grill for us. I went in early to get food b/c I wasn’t sure if he was going to cook enough for ALL the shifts to get some. Also b/c my co-workers operate on a “every man for himself” mindset. I figured I could go in, get something to eat and hang out with my co-worker’s children until it was time for me to go work

That’s what I did and ended up learning that he’d be back to cook for the night shift (the one I’d be working)

I get to work and already I’m cramping. and it’s unusually hot in the store. Normally I have a jacket handy b/c the store is freezing cold. Not tonight though

I get to my register and I’m thinking “yeah, I’m not going to last all night. Especially since I have to be on my feet”

I started doing what I usually do when I come to the register, straighten it out for MY liking when I feel water dropping down my face. Sweat. I remembered the cookies in my car that were for a co-worker and arranged a way for her to get them.

I could feel a panic attack coming on and let me tell you, cramping AND enduring a panic attack is not what’s up. At all

Co-worker comes to my register and I’m on all fours tapping the side of it. She’s on the phone and I hear her telling our other co-worker that I was “doubled over about to give birth to my uterus”. That made me laugh but Mother Nature said “I dare you to chuckle, I dare you”

My manager said that she was sending someone over to take my place so I could go home. That person took too long so I left while a floor associate watched my register

I get to the breakroom door and a co-worker says “are you okay, you look really pale”.

I sit in there for a long while.  I kept telling myself that I needed to get up and go home.

Finally I gathered enough umph to get up, grab a piece of chicken for my dad and gather my belongings. Yeah right, as soon as I wrapped that chicken up and sat it back on the table did I run for the trashcan.

EVERYTHING that I’d eaten that day came back up. and kept coming up. and kept coming up

I stopped puking enough to clean my face, grab my things and head to my car.

I had every intention of taking some hours from a friend but my night manager took one look at my face and said “nawl, you stay home tomorrow”

So I did

{October 9, 2012}   #30WriteOctober-Day Nine

An observation

As I’ve gone back over some of the things I’ve written over the past few weeks (and maybe even months) I’ve noticed something. Something that I’d like to change

I’ve noticed it with my tweets too.

There’s a certain repetition and I hate it. but what I hate even more is that I catch it AFTER I’ve sent the tweet out or put something on Tumblr

I’m vowing to fix this. and soon

{October 9, 2012}   #30WriteOctober-Day Eight

My writing and the time I was finding for it slacked once I became employed again.

That, of course, wasn’t my intention but it happened.

I guess I was just so caught up and so happy to be among the working world again.

this challenge has been a rough but much needed help to me with getting back on track with my writing.  Rough in that I’m still catching up on days. Much needed in that it has gotten me to write daily again.

{October 9, 2012}   #30WriteOctober-Day Seven

My mama’s birthday. Today is also the day I joined the church that I’ve been visiting for a little over a year. When the service called for people who wanted to join I decided that I’d take myself down to the altar. But the man on my right had other plans. I was holding hands with the people next to me and I politely let go and said “excuse me” and attempted to walk out of the pew. Realizing where I was going the man asked me if he could walk me. I said yes and he walked me down front (in his defense, the pastor DOES say if the person beside you wants to come down front walk with them). Completely forgetting that I was going to have to leave the sanctuary I left my purse on the pew. I also didn’t know I’d be gone for the remainder of the service. (they take the group of people who come down front to either A) get saved, B) join the church or  C) renew their relationship with Christ to a room to find out why they came down and then assist them accordingly). When I went back to my pew my purse was gone. Before I let myself think that someone in the church would stoop so low as to take my purse panic I figured my dad (who was a few rows in front of me) saw me go down front empty handed and decided to collect my belongings. I was wrong. I finally turned to find an usher. She smiled at me and motioned for me to come to her. I did and she welcomed me to their church family and handed me my purse. She said that the man who walked with me was, in her words, “very protective of my purse” and took it to her once he saw that I wouldn’t be back before the service let out.

I thought that was nice of him.

The usher tried to lecture me on leaving my purse but I explained to her why I left my purse on the pew. She smiled at me again and whispered “we’re always looking for ushers”. I smiled even though I knew I wasn’t going to be one. I’ve always thought you  had to be an older woman in order to be an usher. Probably b/c I’ve never seen an usher that looked younger than 35.

{October 9, 2012}   #30WriteOctober-Day 6 Rewrite

I had written a rant piece on what I’ve learned since working retail but decided not to post it. Everything I said was the truth but after re-reading it I realized that some of what I said may not be meant for such a public forum as this. I’m not ashamed of what I wrote though, let’s make that clear.

So, I did a rewrite for Day 6. Enjoy

It has been said that “if a writer falls in love with you you can never die. You will always be alive in their work”.

I can’t (and won’t) speak for other writers but this is true for me.

If I’m attracted to you it’s quite possible that the part of you that will be reflected in my writing will be sexualized or really intense. It all depends. On how deep my attraction to you goes, that is. Whether or not I’ll share said piece is also determined by how deep the attraction is. If you’re aware of the attraction can sometimes determine if I’ll share the piece with you.

I don’t necessarily have to be attracted to you in order for you to find your way into my writing though. I may take bits and pieces of your personality and apply it to a character. Your traits that I admire and even the ones I can’t stand may be given to a character or a general piece I’m working on.

I was on Twitter once and a tweet from my crush crossed my timeline. I looked at his avatar and wrote an entire piece based on one little detail that I saw. One detail. Said story is a favorite of mine and that of my growing list of readers. Does he know he inspired the story? Yes. Has he read it? Yes. Did he like it? Yes.

I took a few personality traits from two people who hate each other and applied them to one character. They’ll never know though.

I am in no way attracted to my pastor but while listening to him one Sunday I wrote an entire story while in church. A tiny piece of the side of him I see is given to the hero in the story.

I love when inspiration hits me. Where may not always be convenient in that I may not have pen and paper handy but thank God for my phone and its Notes section. I can write an entire piece and discover, during the proofreading process, that I’ve put someone who may have recently crossed my path somewhere in it.

I can appreciate that I have a writing style all my own. I have an “on/off” switch for the obvious factor. I can write where it will be obvious to the reader that I have a personal connection to a plot or character. Sometimes it’s not so obvious. At times I write where the connection is only obvious to me.

{October 6, 2012}   #30WriteOctober-Day Five

I’m cheating with this one but who cares

After this post I’ll be caught up.

Days 1-5 posted during the wee hours of Day 6

Day 6 to be written and posted after work

et cetera