you would think i’d remember since this blog is mostly dad-oriented!

You can write all you want about him.  But he’s my father.  When people go after him with their vitriol, I look at this picture, as well as the pictures I have from childhood, and I think about how lucky I am to have such a cool dad for reasons that have zilch to do with his work in sports.  And I smile.

Happy (exceedingly belated) Father’s Day, Daddy.  ti amo e grazie per tutto che abbiate fatto...
ps.  the picture is from 2007 after i had recovered from a stay in the hospital (mono is a vindictive witch of a mistress).  After hearing that I wasn’t allowed to do any heavy lifting of objects, Dad tried to get me to carry a cooler down to the beach.  Later that night he called from dinner to check if i wanted ice cream.  he then brought it home to me in bed.  that’s daddy for ya.

cherries and yogurt.

Just realized that I haven’t updated in over a week.  Blasphemy.  This weekend I wasn’t anywhere near a computer.  I was at the shore in our family beach home, trying to remember a fourth grade rain dance to get the sun to come out.  The first day I was there, the sun beat down and I was sweating and enjoying myself tremendously.  For the rest of the weekend, Mother Nature was all, “Just Kidding!”  Sadface.  But I spent a lot of time with my family, including my father, who regaled us with stories about Riga, Latvia (“the women are the most gorgeous women outside of the Czech Republic that I have ever seen on the planet, and the men look like dogs”), and my brother, who I hadn’t seen in weeks.  We watched Grease and played charades, complete with my father’s critique of my mom’s attempts to play (“WHAT KIND OF A CLUE IS THAT?!”)
Now that I’m home and settled in, I will take the time to answer some of your wonderful questions while I watch So You Think You Can Dance (Evan danced a Mia Michaels routine…pardon me while I look for my face as it just melted off my head).  Keep them coming! They’re fun to read and twice as much fun to answer.
pvicki11 asked: Does it ever surprise you how the following (fans and media) has grown over the past fifteen years or so?
Not really.  I’m very used to it in CT, although sometimes it does strike me, mostly when people recognize him when we’re not in our home state.  When people see him in NYC or any other place and point and go “Coach!”, that’s when I think a little bit about the real impact my father has had on the sport of basketball.  One thing that really surprised me is when I was in Camelot at the Little Theater of Manchester, and because it got advertised in my town, suddenly I was a hot commodity to the UCONN fanbase.  I got people at games congratulating me on my performance, making me realize that they had gone to the show simply because I was in it! I am very, very blessed.
cuzinvinny asked: Does your father have a garden where he grows tomatoes?
That is so funny you ask this, Vinny, because my father does not have a garden, but we talked this weekend in Avalon about how Nonna used to have a garden in her old rowhouse that delivered tomatoes, basil, arugula, peppers, onions, the works.  She used them all in August when she made her tomato basil sauce (which you can buy at Stew Leonards! Run run!).  One of my hobbies as a small child involved digging up the literal fruits of her labor.  I was a weird child.  Still am.
rpatrick529 asked: Do you think your mom would be willing to share her risotto recipe that you love so much?
It really is quite simple.  Follow a normal recipe for risotto and add a ton of parmigiano reggiano and onions.  I don’t know how it turns out so amazingly.  Maybe it’s because it’s hers?
enkidu asked: Is your dad a bear to live with after a loss?
Depends on the context.  Sometimes he’s actually happy.  When we lost to Villanova in 2003 (a loss that snapped our 70 win streak), Dad was jubilant.  “We’re going to win the national championship,” he said as we walked over to the press room.  “We’re going to win.”  He knew that the loss would recharge us, and he was right.  Usually when he loses, I stay far away from him, but Dad’s great at leaving work at work.  Sometimes he’ll snap and go on long harangues about why something’s terrible, but he usually shuts up if I get after him about it.  He really only answers back to four women in his life.  I’m one of them.
speedster83 asked: Does your dad watch the WNBA on TV? If so is it as a fan or is he screaming at previous players for things they do/don’t do during games?
He does! Usually when he can’t watch he checks the scores on his phone.  Now he has to watch a lot more of them because of his Olympic commitments.  He doesn’t really go nuts at all when he watches WNBA.  He’s more sedate when its’ not his own players.
Brian S asked: Much has been written about the relationship between your dad and Jim Calhoun.  I am curious about your relationship with Jim’s children.  
That’s a great question.  I actually have never met Jim’s children.  They’re a little bit older than me and my brother and sister (they’re married and have toddlers, I hear) so we’ve never really ran in the same circles.  I’m sure they’re lovely people! I just have never had the pleasure of meeting them.
enkidu asked: Chris Dailey has coached with your dad as long as he has been at UCONN.  Is she close to your family? Is there any chance of her taking a head coaching job?
I love how every year the “Will CD leave” whispers grow loud during the summertime, and this year they are much louder since both Tonya and Jamelle have left us for head coaching gigs.  Safe to say, CD ain’t going nowhere.  If she did, I’m pretty sure what’s left of my dad’s mind would disappear like the lost city of Ys.  (Did my full throttle geekery there just scare you off?)
Also, Writers Unblocked asked me that since I mentioned the vegan eatery I’m obsessed with, am I a vegetarian.  With all the soy I eat, I should be.  But I’m not a vegan or a vegetarian (note the chicken I had with dinner, plus the yogurt I just ate).  I work out for up to 2 hours a day, so I need the protein that comes from dairy and meat to sustain my body and brain.  Yes you read that right.  I am a fitness freak.  Over the past four years I’ve lost and kept off 60 pounds, so I am pretty rigid about what I put into my body.  I don’t eat red meat simply because I was never a big fan of steak and I avoid pork (although I tried bison a few weeks ago and my taste buds had a technodance party in my mouth), my diet is about 50 percent raw, fried foods are a no-no, I don’t eat anything with high fructose corn syrup or refined sugars or hydrogenated oils, and I substitute tofu burgers and hotdogs at barbecues.  Other than that? GAME ON.  I eat pasta, cheese, chicken, fruit, yogurt, granola bars, lots of veggies, eggs, and turkey.  I mean, I’m Italian.  If I didn’t eat cheese or pasta, I think my parents would disown me.  And I drink a lot of water, with some decaf coffee if I need something else.  If I weren’t an actress, I’d be a dietitian.  I get grief from my parents sometimes for being too “granola” (dad asks me “how’s your diet of lettuce and seaweed going?” about four times a week), but I love what I eat and I wouldn’t change a thing.  And I’m not someone to turn down sweets.  Last night at a dinner party I ate two pieces of cherry crostata.  And I can’t have dark chocolate in the house.  Just can’t do it.  It’ll be gone in four minutes.

Let’s get happy.

Wow, I haven’t updated in nearly a week.  It feels like longer.  Someone on Twitter suggested that because I was not going to the movies tonight no matter how nice it’s gotten outside (earlier today Mother Nature, to quote Tropic Thunder, pissed her pantsuit), I should update my blog.  I laughed, and then realized it has indeed been a little while.  So, now that I’m nice and full with shrimp and tofu noodles (I eat weird things), here’s my update.

Despite the rain and the gross weather we’ve been having lately in NYC, life has been pretty good.  My job has started in earnest, and I’m starting to realize that working in a restaurant is an entirely different beast than retail.  While the hours at J.Crew were rigid in that you clocked in and clocked out at the appointed times on your week’s schedule, in a restaurant if you get a callsheet that says 5-11, that is just a grey nebulous time continuum of “maybe you’ll work for six hours.”  I walked in on Thursday night at 4:45 and I walked out at 1:15.  Damn you, Kobe, for putting the game into overtime!  At the end of the night I was leaning against a wall, feeling my Achilles turn into Jell-O, hearing the takeout order computer hum away.  And then on Sunday I walked in at 10 (expecting to leave at 4) and I left at 6:15.  Awesomesauce.  I do love my job, though.  The people are great, and the money is fantastic.  And let’s face it, the food is right up my alley.  Barbecue sauce is one of the most glorious things ever invented.
I’ve been auditioning a lot, which has been very fun, although slightly grueling.  The night that I closed at work on Wednesday I ran home, fell asleep, and woke up at 6 AM for an audition, and shockingly, I nailed it! I mean, they haven’t called, but I’m happy that I finally have an audition under my belt in this city that went super well.  I also had my first rehearsal for the cabaret I was invited to do, which was wonderful.  I found out that one of my favorite Broadway singers is hosting the event, which didn’t make me nervous.  Not at all.  (Did you catch that?)
The savior of my life thus far in the city? Reality TV.  I know, it’s gross.  But I don’t watch crap like I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. (Speidi? Get out of this planet.  No one cares.)  I recommend these reality shows with all of my heart:
So You Think You Can Dance.  If you get past Mary Murphy, it’s a brilliant show.  Mia Michaels is a dirty genius, and the top 20 this year are incredible.  Just plug your ears when Cat Deeley says “Mary, over to you.”  Trust me.  Plug.  Oh, and Cat Deeley is the best host ever (you hear that, Seacrest?).  On Fox.
The Little Couple.  A couple who’ve been married for about a year adjust to life as newlyweds.  Jen’s 3’2″ and Bill’s 4″.  They are wonderful to watch.  On TLC.
Whose Wedding Is It Anyway? Wedding planners plan weddings.  It’s addictive.  I got hooked on it when my sister got engaged and we spent countless hours watching it, trying to figure out the perfect day for her.  The more the wedding planners freak out, the better it is.  I love James Tramondo! On Style.
Intervention.  My cousin Marsi got me into this show.  If you haven’t seen it, it’s highly disturbing, but then it becomes so compelling that you simply cannot look away.  On A&E.
Obsessed.  On the same lines as Intervention, but dealing with OCD and the treatment of patients with the disease.  On A&E
Top Chef.  It’s not on right now in its glorious original incarnation, but it’s showing as a spinoff called Top Chef: Masters, which is more about four-star chefs showing each other that they’re better than everyone else in the free world at whipping up ceviche.  I love to cook, so this show is heaven for me.  On Bravo.
The Real Housewives of New Jersey. I can’t explain it.  Just watch it.  Watch and be amazed.  On Bravo.
And of course, anything on Food Network.  If I weren’t an actor, I’d be a chef, just so I could be like Giada and Ina.  They’re so warm and welcoming to the camera and the foods they make are stellar.  However, I’ve made more of Ina’s foods because they’re more hearty and rustic, rather than Giada’s which tend to be more glamourous and four-star.
Off to watch Intervention and turn in early for the night…

Promises, promises.

Thank you all so much for the positive feedback on the video blog! I will definitely make it a weekly thing.  I’m going home this weekend, so maybe there will be a guest in the form of my sister or brother, or possibly Dad if he doesn’t make fun of me mercilessly for it.  Perhaps I will do the next one with the help of my trusty video camera so I can interview people in my home.  Be warned: My family is quite possibly insane.

Question time!
Ho11yS asked…What is your favorite place that you’ve been? What spot haven’t you made it to yet but is on the top of your to-go list?
I am very blessed to have the opportunity to travel with the team a lot.  I’ve been everywhere from New Brunswick, NJ, to Rome, Italy.  One of the most fun times I had on a trip was when we went to Europe when I was thirteen, especially Italy.  I’d love to go back sometime to see everything there with new and adult eyes.  I wasn’t quite old enough to really get what I was seeing.  However, I did get to go back to France last year and it was truly a transcendent experience.  Aside from that, going to St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands was eye-opening and interesting.  I’d never been so close to the equator before, so aside from frying in the sun I learned a lot about Caribbean culture.  Plus, the whole thing made me think of PIRATES.

Jennifer asked…As I was watching your video blog, my neighbor calls and says she just literally ran into your dad at Bolton Mobil! Did not mess up his hair though… ha ha ha...Question about Charde: Does your Dad ever talk to her now? What was their relationship really like? I always rooted for her through her struggles… I was really happy she decided to stick it out at CT and from what she has done in the WNBA Geno’s strong arm helped her in the long run.

first of all, how funny that you saw him there! That’s right on the way to school as well as the highway, so he’ll stop there sometimes to get his gas.  I myself use that station all the time.  And good thing his hair remained perfect.  Nobody other than myself and my family is allowed to mess with it, make fun of it, or force him to cut it.  He had a very strange almost Afro-like quality about it earlier this year, and after I told him he was starting to look like Nonna, he ran out and got it cut.  That’ll do it, apparently.
Ah, Charde.  Charde was and will always be a conundrum.  I didn’t get to know her too well.  She’s an enigma.  Everything you think you know about her is probably true and probably wrong at the same time.  Underneath it all that hair (or lack thereof when she got rid of it) there lies an enormous wealth of potential to become an incredible player.  But what I think everyone didn’t understand is that sometimes you can have a great coach and a great player and they just don’t gel.  My dad and Charde were never on the same page.  He wanted things out of her that usually Charde just couldn’t give him.  It was a frustrating situation at times, but the moments where she showed her brilliance are still incredible.  Pretty much every time she shot the ball from around the foul line arc, I knew it would go in.  I gave her the biggest hug after the North Carolina game when she took over and pulled us through that game, and when she helped us win the Big East Championship she definitely earned the MVP trophy.  But those moments were shadowed by inconsistency.  I’m glad she’s doing well in the WNBA.  I think that’s a better environment for her.  In my opinion, Dad’s program proved to simply not be the right fit.  We’ve had players that decide that and then transfer, but Charde chose to stick it out and for that I definitely applaud her.

conanaim2007 asked…You said your sister and her hubby is the most adorable couple. What about your parents? Aren’t they? And I remember you said it somewhere before that you couldn’t sing in front of a lot of people. I suppose you got over that, didn’t you? 😉

Well, I didn’t really think that by saying Todd and Jenna were cute, I was damning my parents to some unholy “UnAdorable Couples” purgatory.  But my parents are very cute.  One New Year’s Eve at about 2 AM, I sat in a pile of discarded paper hats and watched Dad twirl Mom around the dance floor, screeching “The Way You Look Tonight” in her ear.  The singing was, in a word, abysmal, but the actions were wonderful.  I remember feeling very blessed that in a word of broken marriages, my father’s union with my mother is still going strong after nearly 31 years together in marriage, 37 total.  And I actually said that I find it extremely hard to sing when I’m in front of people that I know personally.  I have usually no problems singing before crowds of total strangers, but given a room of five of my friends, I freak out.  The fear of failing comes so easily when it’s people that you love making the call.

enkidu asked…What shows are you auditioning for? Is your concentration musical theater? Are other members of your family musical? I love New York for the variety of its ethnic food. What are your favorite places to eat? Oh, I have always thought the world of Stacey Maron, what was she like in person? Do you know what she is doing now?

Stacey Marron is a wonderful girl! We got along very well when she was at UCONN, I actually just saw her a few months ago.  Dad in turn thought the world of her.  I’m sad to say that I don’t really recall what’s she’s doing now, but I think it’s something to do with sports medicine.  As for the shows I’m auditioning for, there’s a bunch that I’ve been seen for and a bunch more to come.  South Pacific, Avenue Q, Cabaret, Young Frankenstein to name a few.  My concentration is anything and everything musical theater, but I was trained in Shakespeare and Classics as well at UCONN.  My sister has a good singing voice, but I really got my urge for the stage from my grandmother, my mom’s mom.  She went to the Professional Children’s School in NYC and knew Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, and was to become an actress before she got married and settled down.  And as far as my favorite places to eat, I recommend Haku on the Upper West Side for Japanese food, Karen’s on Astor for their great vegan and healthy selections (I’m not a vegan but i love vegan food) as well as La Masseria in the theater district for awesome rustic Italian.  For dessert, I love frozen yogurt, so I recommend Red Mango as well as Pinkberry.  But Tasti DeLite is great too.  I also can say that Charm in the Upper West has great Thai curry, but in general I try to cook for myself.  I’m a health nut and I like to know what’s in what I’m eating (although I am definitely not one to say no to anything with chocolate in it)! 

Alyssa asked..What are your thoughts on Pat Summitt and Tennessee? Were you disappointed when the annual series was cancelled?

I felt a number of different things when the series between us and Tennessee got cancelled.  One feeling was sadness for all of the amazing fans both in CT and TN that wouldn’t get to see this amazing battle between us anymore.  One feeling was anger, because the series was cancelled for reasons that I still don’t understand entirely.  And one was, shockingly, relief.  The series had spun out of control at that point.  People were slinging mud from all directions and I just was sick of it.  I respect Pat’s accomplishments.  Her program is legendary.  I got to meet her at one point many years ago and she was nothing but kind to me.  She’s a Southern lady in every sense of the word.  When she got her 1,000th win this year, I was happy for her.  I was also happy that she didn’t get it against Oklahoma, because I love that program and Stacey Hansmeyer.  I hope that’s a good enough answer! 🙂

Questions answered: Through Video!

Today I had my first day of training work for my new job.  It’s going to be very fun.  I work at a barbecue joint, and the smell of sweet potato fries drove me insane for nearly six hours.  This is not necessarily a bad thing, but it did make me want them in the worst way.

Anyway!! Here are your answers, my dear viewers.  Enjoy!  And ignore the fact that I’m wearing pajamas and no makeup.

Original Video– More videos at TinyPic

superboy and the invisible girl

In NYC there is simply no filter on what people will wear at the gym.  Or rather, what they won’t wear.  Sometimes I come into the locker room and automatically put my head down so I don’t feel like I’m staring at all of the bodies on display.  It’s like the world’s strangest free peep show.  Sorry, I’d rather change in the bathroom behind the safety of a closed cubicle door.

I’m sure some of you know that my father and our family own a vacation house on the Jersey Shore.  There’s been a little bit of talk about it whenever the summertime rolls around, since people always ask me “What does your father do in the offseason?” Well, when he’s not recruiting he’s hunkered down in Jersey, smoking cigars and drinking wine and putting off re-applying sunscreen until I yell at him to do so.

This weekend, I was allowed to bring a few friends down to our house on the southernmost tip of the Garden State for Memorial Day, which was in turns blazingly hot and freezing cold, and utterly hilarious throughout.  One particularly funny moment was opening the local newsletter and finding a long article that my father was interviewed for in which he extolled the virtues of the New Jersey beaches.  One of my friends mentioned that on the wikipedia page for our town, there’s a list of celebrity homes and my father is not mentioned.  She said as a Father’s Day present, she would edit the page so that Dad’s name did appear, which I thought was hilarious.
But now I’m back in NYC, hanging out in my apartment before my job interview as a hostess for Wildwood BBQ tomorrow (Well, I have the job, but I need to get my training schedule worked out) and I thought I’d answer one question that John Altavilla put on his blog because it intrigued me.  Sorry if I steal your thunder, John!

Q. Who, in your mind, is the best shooter UConn has ever had?

 Wendy Davis.  Now, that makes me sound utterly old.  But if any of you ever had a chance to watch Wendy play…there is a reason her nickname was and will always be “Silk.”  There are some records she held in shooting that were broken by Maya just this past year, and she graduated almost two decades ago.  For a very long time, she came into Dad’s camps and taught shooting technique, and I don’t remember her ever missing a shot when she demonstrated her wrist flick.  

Now I’d like to take questions from you, my beloved bloggos and bloggettes.  Ask me anything about Dad and my family (within reason!) and I will try and answer as thoroughly as I can…



look to the books

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve blogged, and I had promised my Twitter followers that I would have an update up last night.  Unfortunately, my brain shut off around 11:30, and I forgot to put it up.  I’m now blogging under duress, since I made a joke that I should be caned if my entry wasn’t up before midnight last night, and I see people waving bats at me.  

I’m typing this from my house, after getting here this afternoon for my cousin Nick’s wedding tomorrow.  My cousin Nick is the son of Dad’s brother, Ferruccio, and his fiance (soon to be wife) have a little baby named Nicky, who I am sad to say I haven’t met yet and will do so tomorrow! He’s absolutely adorable from what I’ve gleaned from pictures and videos.  It’ll be the first time in two weeks that I’ll see my sister and her husband, Todd, and I can’t wait to see all of my cousins as well as my beloved Nonna.
This week, my father got invited by Brioni (the company that helped him auction off ties) to a private screening of Angels and Demons in NYC near Tribeca, and since I’m living there now, I joined them.  I was so excited because I thought it was the actual premiere of the movie, but I was disheartened when I found out that it was only a small screening for the Brioni company.  The reason they got to see it first was because they made Tom Hanks’ suits for the film.  It was great to see my parents and have a glass of wine with them before the movie (a Barolo, VERY good).  We also ordered a plate of artisanal cheese before the film at a bar down on Canal Street, and while the parmigiano reggiano was great, the recommended cheese (a romano made from goat’s milk) was extremely garlicky.  I thought it was delicious, but my dad complained about it until we left the bar.  “My god, I can’t meet the Brioni people smelling like toilet!” It took all of our strength (and the rest of my Orbit gum) to shut him up before we got to the theater.  Another thing at the bar that was delicious? They had a very dark nutty bread filled with fruit and nuts.  Absolutely delicious.
I actually just realized that I haven’t posted since Jamelle’s announcing as the head coach of Cincinnati.  I must admit, the announcement made me sad.  I’ve known JJ since she was 18 and I was 7, and for her to not be around anymore is truly a sign that I am a grownup.  I’ve always loved JJ, from her ferocity on the court to her teddy-bear demeanor off it.  During the tournament, I went to get sushi with a friend in South Windsor, and she was there coincidentally.  It was really cool chatting with her as a friend rather than her as an employee of my dad’s.  
Not to say JJ was always an angel.  When I was 9 (during the 35-0 season), Jen and JJ played a rather EPIC prank on me.  I always sat with one of them on the bus, and one time after dinner, after seeing how red and swollen my lips were from the bitter cold weather (and my lack Vaseline), Jen and JJ held a mock trial, accusing me of stealing Jen’s lipstick.  As an impressionable (and totally gullible) child, I completely missed the fact they were kidding, and I kept screaming “NO! I didn’t do it, I just have really chapped lips!” over and over again.  Obviously they knew this (my lips had bigger cracks than the San Andreas Fault), but that didn’t stop them from having a grand old time at my expense.  JJ testified on my behalf, but they all voted and came to the conclusion I was guilty as sin.  JJ even slipped the lipstick into my pocket when I wasn’t looking, then told me to search my jacket.  I was aghast when my fingers closed around the lipstick tube.  As JJ and Jen (and the rest of the team, who had gathered around to watch) roared, I burst into tears.  That’s the last time they pranked me (I think they felt bad at how upset I got), but I still hear about it from both of them.  When I was trying to come up with a story I could tell on this blog, Jenna constantly says “Tell the trial story!”
I have so many memories of JJ it’s hard to consolidate them.  I remember when she fouled out of the 1996 Regional Final game against Vanderbilt after being called for a block that should’ve been a charge.  JJ was knocked flat on her back, and when she realized she was called for the foul, she grabbed her knees and screamed at the sky in horror.  She never missed a freethrow, ever.  Whenever I see her, no matter how long we’ve been apart, she always greets me the same way (with a shout of “Hey Ally!” and a huge hug).  Aside from Meghan Culmo, I don’t think any other player in UCONN history knows me better than JJ, and I’m going to miss her terribly.  
I can’t wait to see her when we play her in conference…

i’m as normal as blueberry pie

My life in NYC is boringly busy.

It’s an oxymoron, I know. My life has settled into a somewhat routine: Get up, breakfast, walk around, grocery shopping/any kind of other shopping for the apartment/laundry/dishes/clean apartment, lunch, do some reading, dinner, watch TV until bedtime. It should pick up soon; I had an audition last week for the national tour of South Pacific, which went okay but not stellar. I was relaxed until I opened my mouth, and then I got nervous audition voice, which made me get wobbly at the end of my phrases. However, it was really cool to be in the Bernie Telsey casting offices, as Bernie Telsey is a Broadway giant. At one point he came into the room to look for something, and I tried not to stare at him! There’s a chorus call for SP in a few days that I’ll be going to just to keep my options open.

I’m typing this from a Staples wi-fi kiosk, as my computer has unceremoniously killed itself. I’m going to the Genius Bar at the Apple store in SoHo tomorrow to get it all sorted out (a plus to this situation? It’s right around the most amazing places to shop in the entire downtown area).

This weekend I came home on Friday and had a mani-pedi and sushi with Connie, and went to see my friends up at UCONN in the Connecticut Repertory Theater spring production of Hair, which was absolutely incredible. Congratulations to all involved, it was an incredibly brave, moving, hilarious, and profound experience.

Saturday afternoon was the Horsin’ Around event for the Kentucky Derby down at Mohegan Sun. It’s the first time I’ve been able to go and I hadn’t been to the casino for a big event since my sister got married there, and it was a blast! Unfortunately, my floppiest of floppy hats did not come in the mail on time, so I had to settle for going bare-headed. Regardless, I had a great time with some awesome food (I ate so many figs I thought my stomach was going to take root and grow a ficus). The highlight of the night for me was A) seeing Sue and Maria and having laugh riots with them and B) watching my dad take an overamplified microphone and proceed to scream into it during the live auction. At one point I literally had to mime to him “Dad! SHUT UP.”

The auctions themselves went extremely well, I believe we raised over $20,000 but I have to doublecheck. There were some great items up for bid, and Sue at one point joked about betting on one of her signed items (a poster from the 2008 Olympics signed by the women’s team).

At one point, I was persuaded (okay, I was forced) to sing with the live band. I wasn’t expecting it so I was a bit uncomfortable. When the spotlight shines directly on me when I’m not prepared for it (or if I’m onstage as myself) I get very uncomfortable. Had I been in a character guise, I would’ve been fine with it, but since it was just me, trying to remember the words to “Sherry” and “Under the Boardwalk” it was just plain weird. But it was a good time, and I got some compliments.

Next time I come home is a bit dicey, I’m not actually sure when it’ll be. But I’m going to see Jersey Boys hopefully on Wednesday with my Dad, and then on Monday is the big event I’ve been waiting for for a few weeks: I’m going with my parents to the Tribeca premiere of Angels and Demons. If I see Tom Hanks, I may freak…


we hold these truths to be self-evident


There are days when I don’t like all the attention.  And then there are days like today.  
Today I met the President of the United States, Barack Hussein Obama, at the White House in D.C.  
As a blueblooded liberal who registered as a Democrat the instant she was legal to vote, I was ecstatic when Obama was elected last November.  The entire team came over to the house to watch the election results.  I wore an Obama pin, and kept freaking out whenever McCain took a state (so I freaked out maybe three times, zing!).  When he won Pennsylvania, then Ohio, I knew we had it in the bag.  At 11:00, when the West Coast came in and it was clear he had taken it, I watched as the girls on the team danced in my living room to “Signed, Sealed, Delivered”, while my mom attempted to join in and failed.  My dad just grinned.  It was justice that he was so happy to see Obama win, as he had been leaning towards voting Republican and Mom and I got him to switch teams just in time for the polling.  Peer pressure’s a powerful thing in my family.
I flew to Washington with the team this morning around 9:30, and you could tell there was a big buzz in the air.  Everyone was happy.  I was happy but really nervous.  I didn’t know how I’d react when I met Obama.  However, it was also really great to see the girls again.  While I compared lipstick with Tahirah, Sarah Darras came back to explain that three of the girls would be given video cameras to document their experiences at the White House, and that the videos would end up on the official Government website.  The cameras were very tiny, top of the line HD Flipcams, and I spent most of the morning dodging them while they popped out at every given opportunity.  
It was a gorgeous day if insanely hot, and we pulled into a parking lot next to a huge overhang of trees and foliage.  Beyond that was the back end of the White House, but you couldn’t see it beyond a bit that stuck out behind a large black gate.  Looking the other way gave us a pretty good view of the Washington Monument.  
We had some time to spare before we had to go in, so we mulled around, taking in how gorgeous D.C. is in the springtime, and tried to avoid the blazing hot sunlight as much as humanly possible.  My mom and I tried not to complain, but we’re Italian.  We sweat.
After getting the full security checkpoint treatment, I had to go first due to the alphabet and I kept screaming “Someone walk with me I don’t want to walk in by myself!” Finally we got into the East Wing lobby, right next to the First Lady’s Office.  Part of me was absolutely dying to see Michelle Obama, but I knew it wasn’t going to happen.  The tour then commenced, and it was really quite incredible.  The portraits alone made it worth the entire trip.  Something that surprised me but shouldn’t have was how tiny the rooms are.   The biggest room we saw was smaller than your average hotel ballroom, and the Secret Serviceman who gave us the tour told us that it was the room that John and Abigail Adams dried their laundry in, after realizing they didn’t want the people of Washington to see the President’s dirty underthings out on a pole, blowing in the breeze.  Sadly, no Oval Office tour.  But we did see the Blue, Red, Green, and Yellow rooms, as well as the Banquet Hall with the official White House prayer, taken from a letter John Adams wrote to Abigail:
“I pray heaven to bestow the best of blessings on this house and all that shall hereafter inhabit it. May none but honest and wise men ever rule under this roof.”
After the tour, we hung out in one of the Executive Offices that faced the South Lawn, where the press junket was to be held.  That’s when we all started getting a bit loud to cover how nervous we were.  At one point the woman who was corralling all of us came in to tell us he was on his way, and everyone got very quiet, only to shout out when the First Dog, Bo, ran past the room.  I unfortunately didn’t see it but everyone else yelled “The dog! The dog!”
Then it got quiet again, and people came in and out.  Then…
“Hey, Coach!”
And loping into the room like the most relaxed person on the face of the planet, there he was.
The noise that came out of some people’s mouths…I think it’s suitable to say that it was a squeal.   I didn’t say or do anything.  I may have gaped.  My face melted or something.  The 44th President of the United States was walking towards me and I couldn’t feel my feet.  The DNC in 2004, the debates, Dreams From My Father, the moment after the 2004 election, after I had campaigned so hard for Kerry and was devastated when he lost, and when I thought to myself “Obama will win in 2008”, and this past year’s Election Night and the celebration in our home…I thought about all of it.  Then he came over to us, and it kind of disappeared.  He became just a normal guy.  
First he shook hands with Dad, then down to Mom, talking about how happy he was to see us, and he genuinely looked it.  And then he shook my hand, pronouncing my name correctly, and said he was pleased to meet me.  My mind was completely blank but I managed to say that it was a great honor to meet him.  First of all, he’s handsome on TV, but in person, he’s just extraordinarily good-looking.  His handshake was firm and he looked me directly in the eye.  He’s a tower of confidence, but not in an intimidating way.  Some people of that stature and fame scare the hell out of me.  Not Obama.  He makes you feel like you’re the only person in the room.  We got a picture taken with him, and looking back at it, I realize how tall he is.  I was wearing three-inch heels, and he still is a good head and a half above me.  
Two people have asked me what he smelled like, which is a pretty normal question to ask in my opinion.  The answer? Cigarettes.  It wasn’t so much that it was gross, but I got a faint whiff of it on his clothes.  I had known beforehand that Obama was a smoker trying to quit so it didn’t come as a shock.  I personally think that due to all of the stress in his life, I say let the man have a cig every once and a while.  Man’s got enough to deal with!
After he shook my hand, Dad gave him one of our wristbands from Geno’s Cancer Team, which are the same bands that were given at my sister’s wedding.  They’re pink and stamped with the slogan “Remember, Celebrate, Believe.” In keeping with his overall awesomeness, President Obama immediately slapped it on his wrist and promised to mention it in the speech.  And he did, which prompted thousands of clickclickclicks from the CNN cameras to document that he was promoting the cause.
I didn’t get to talk to him too much because we got ushered out into the conference area on the South Lawn.  The speech itself was standard, but very casual and fun.  The President, after giving a shoutout to the fact that the girls play Pictionary (I wonder if he found that out from my blog…?) pronounced Auriemma correctly, something that Bush had failed to do, although Bush made a funny joke about it so I forgive him (“Whatever his name is, he sure can coach!”).  He also added that as a father of two particularly tall girls, he appreciated women who remind them that they can be successful no matter what.  Although I honestly think that Malia and Sasha can do whatever they want anyway, since they’re two of the world’s most famous kids right now.
After the speech, Renee presented him with the customary jersey, which Obama promised to wear while he played.  There were pictures taken by CNN and other networks, I got another handshake, and it was pretty much done.  I kept cursing in my head because I had probably the best seat at the conference and my camera had died.  I cursed even more when Obama suddenly said “You know, we’ve got a hoop down that road.  Should we shoot some? I think we should shoot some baskets.”
And off they went!  And while Renee complained (and rightfully so) that if she had been in sneakers she wouldn’t have done too bad, Obama was on fire.  He’s got a pretty sweet jump shot.  Tiffany loved him because he’s left-handed.  They sort of have the same delivery!
It was all a bit surreal, but it didn’t feel like we were shooting hoops with the President of the United States and default leader of the free world.  We were just hanging out with a guy who had a great sense of humor and a killer midrange shot.  Even when Meghan missed a long jumper, he laughed it off and said “She’s a power forward, it’s okay!”
After the White House trip, I had to take a taxi to Union Station to catch the train back to NYC.  I was only in there for about an hour, but Union Station is absolutely gorgeous.  I like it so much better than Penn Station! It’s almost set up like an airport, with different gates and terminals.  However, it has those big train station windows and vaulted ceilings.  
After the shootaround, Obama thanked us for coming and reminded us that he really loves this part of his job.  Renee stepped forward to give him back the ball, which is emblazoned with the Obama logo and his name.  “Actually, I was wondering if I could keep this?” she said.  Obama looked at her and said “You know what? Yes.  In fact, give it to me, I’ll sign it.”  
Renee better put that thing in a vault in Fort Knox…

Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up.

Just to let all of you know, I will be at the Derby Day event hosted by Geno and Kathy Auriemma (aka My Parents) at Mohegan Sun next Saturday.  I will be sporting the floppiest of the floppy hats.  If you see me, feel free to come up and say hello, I promise you I’m a nice person.  

I urge all of you to donate to the auction and bid on the items, which promise to be stellar.  Items up for bid include tickets for Britney Spears’ concert at the casino, two  invites to the Hall of Fame Ring Ceremony, and a basketball signed by the 2009 UCONN women’s basketball team.  Proceeds from the live and silent auctions will go to the V Foundation through Dad’s organization, Geno’s Cancer Team.
This cause means a lot to my family, as my grandfather lost his battle with lung cancer twelve years ago.  Also my dad was a great admirer of Jimmy V, and attended Kay Yow’s viewing.  It’s interesting to note that the first ever paparazzi photo I’ve seen of Dad was when he was leaving the service.  They always seem to catch people at the worst time, eh?
Even if you can’t donate, I still want to see you there.  There promises to be great food and wine, and a lot of fun to be had with the running of the race.  And it’s a casino, so there will be no shortage of fun things to do.
Personally, I want the Britney tickets.  But I’m saving up my money, so we’ll see.
See you there…
EDIT: I am horribly sorry to add the following addendum: I completely forgot during the writing of this entry that my grandmother on my maternal side fought cancer for twenty years, only to succumb when I was three years old.  I had thought Nana had emphysema, and therefore did not mention her.  I apologize to Mom for leaving her out!