The Other Daughter

A blog by Lara Jackson’s sister

Posts Tagged ‘Carly Rose Jackson’

Aside: the “Do you know who we’re with?” thing

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on April 21, 2009

 
Danny, Mom, me, and Dad showing off the stars.
Danny, Mom, me, and Dad showing off the stars.

I wrote in my NCAA Wednesday blog about Danny coming all the way out to College Station to surprise Lara.  I know Lara was happy to see him there, but I was more directly affected.  Danny and I were buddies all weekend.

We first made our presence known by showing everybody our stars.  See the photo at right?  Mom is trying not to look embarrassed at how obnoxious we were.  Dad is just laughing.  By gray-shirt day (Friday), Danny and I had our routine down.

When something inconvenienced or annoyed us, (like when people were in our way, or there was no parking, or a restaurant was closed just because it was 11 p.m.) we would display our badges with Lara’s picture on them, and say loudly, “Hello?? Do you know who we are?  Do you know who we’re with?”

Like this:

The Jacksons, including Danny, display badges with Lara's picture.

Then we would turn around and point to the stars on our back.
 
Hey, it’s hard work being part of Lara’s crew.  We had to arrive early to warm-ups at prelims and finals.
We arrive; notice Danny's strut.

We arrive; notice Danny's strut.

We had to take plenty of pictures.
paparazzi-cropped
And if anyone strayed into our circle, we made sure she was fully equipped to join the fun.
My friend Rachel Davison recently moved to Austin.  She drove a couple hours to hang out while I was in College Station.  We gave her a shirt with stars, and she helped us cheer as the team left the the hotel for finals.
Though most of the time we played it cool, Danny did have a fanboy moment.  The five of us went out to dinner on Wednesday evening.  My swimmeet-veteran parents spotted some familiar faces: Annie Chandler and her parents and boyfriend Matt Grevers.
This is a blog about swimming for people who know nothing about swimming, so I’ll forgive you if you don’t recognize the name: Matt Grevers.  Click here and you will see that Matt Grevers got the Silver Medal at the 2008 Olympics in the 100-meter backstroke.  Click here and you will see that Grevers was in the 100-meter free relay that got a Gold Medal.
So Danny and my mom got a picture with Matt Grevers, along with his autograph:
A TYR ad featuring Matt Grevers.  Mom got his autograph.

A TYR ad featuring Matt Grevers. Mom got his autograph.

Can you see his signature next to his arm?  It says, “Go Cats & USA!”
Thanks Matt Grevers.
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Texas, or NCAA Wednesday

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 28, 2009

texas-shapeI had been looking forward to NCAAs since Christmas.  I couldn’t wait to see my family — I hadn’t seen my dad or sister for a year– and to be someplace warm.

My parents drove to College Station from El Paso.  They brought Lara’s best friend from high school, Danny Motoya.  You know he’s a very good friend because he spent nine hours in the car with my parents.  My dad made him listen to Mark Levin podcasts.  Now Danny has Mark Levin on his own iPod.

Lara didn’t know Danny was coming.  My parents and Danny kept it a secret for a whole year.  Danny even sent faux “good luck!” text messages to Lara on Wednesday.

Mom, Dad and Danny picked me up from the College Station airport, the smallest airport in the universe.  It was smaller than a Wal-Mart.  There was only one gate and one baggage claim.  I’m certain that 90 percent of the people on my flight were there for NCAAs.

Aw Texas.  There’s a saying in Texas,”I wasn’t born in Texas, but I got here as fast as I could,” (I found out this phrase has been imitated by California and Montana among others, but those states are just fooling themselves.)

Well, I was born in Texas — technically.  El Paso is really it’s own place, which I already wrote about here.  But I have road-tripped extensively through North Texas and Central Texas.  This is what road-tripping in Texas looks like:

The blue sky, the green grass, the open road.

The blue sky, the green grass, the open road.

I couldn’t stop looking at the sky!  We don’t have sky in Boston, we have tall buildings and a gray space.  There’s something about open space that makes you feel like you can breathe.  I miss that.

The other major difference about Texas is how people talk to you.  On Wednesday night we went out to dinner and the waiter was very attentive.  He made eye-contact with every person at the table, and there were five of us!  Can you imagine a New England waiter taking the time to wish you a good night and look you in the eye?  I have yet to find one.  At first I thought he was just working for his tip, but no, that’s just how people are in Texas.

Back to the reporting: Lara’s fan club (Mom, Dad, Danny and me) were at the hotel when the team came back from the pool.  Danny hid behind a large column.  Lara came in and she hugged us.  I was ready with my camera.  Then Danny came out from behind the column.

In the crowded Hilton lobby, Lara yelled, “What the f*** are you doing here?” and jumped on him.

Here are my pictures: Danny Surprise

Then she whispered, “I said the f-word really loud and people looked at me.”

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Olympic Trials Part II

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 15, 2009

Olympic Trials were the last week of June and the first week of July.  I had a wedding to go to in Chicago over the weekend that Lara would swim her 50-free.

Lara was in Lane 5.  Photo by: Martina Jackson

Lara was in Lane 5. Photo by: Martina Jackson

Lara swam preliminaries in the morning, Saturday July 5.  I was staying at the Palmer House Hilton, with many of the wedding guests.  I managed to sneak away from the festivities to watch prelims in the business center at the hotel.  I think it cost $7 per 15 minutes of internet use, but I wanted to make sure I could hear everything and get the live feed set in plenty of time.  I monopolized one of three computers in the UPS business center for about an hour.  Those hotel guests who needed to print boarding passes? Yeah, they had to wait.

I managed to get the video feed, but I couldn’t hear anything either in my headphones or through the computer’s speakers.  I asked the two UPS guys working in the business center.  They could tell I was pretty anxious.  My hands were a little shaky and my voice was definitely tense.  They probably thought I was another irate customer.  Once I explained that my sister was swimming in Olympic Trials, they were very helpful, though.

By the time the 50-free started, sound was set, most of the hotel guests had left, so the two UPS guys and I watched the 12 heats of the 50-free.  Lara was in the 12th heat.  I wrote down the fastest time for each heat, and the World and US records in a notebook.  I wanted to know immediately how Lara did.  Turns out I didn’t need to worry.

So the 12th heat begins.  I’ve been sending text messages to my mom, so I know which lane to watch.  It started, I was tapping the desk.  The two UPS guys are riveted.  I start chanting, “Come on Lara, go Lara!  Faster Lara! Go! Go!” 

Also swimming in that heat was Dara Torres, who beat Lara in Nationals the year before.  The announcers were very excited about Torres, because she was 41-years-old.  They kept saying, “And keep an eye on Torres in lane” whatever, I didn’t care.

During the race, however, Lara pulled ahead of Dara, and the announcer said, “Whoa! Look at Lara Jackson!”

Lara won!  She broke the American record!  I was near tears.  The UPS guys congratulated me, and one gave me a hug.  I thanked them for letting me occupy the whole business center.  He said it was exciting to be so close to a potential Olympian.

That’s when I realized the impact of the Olympics.  The unsung athletes get a lot of respect from people.  One of my friends, another guest at the wedding, said the Olympics is the one thing that makes her proud to be an American.  So even just watching the race with the sister of a potential Olympic athlete was memorable.

From the UPS business center, I went to a ladies brunch with the bride and several wedding guests.  I wore an Arizona t-shirt, with star tatoos on the back, over my brunch dress.  I wasn’t ready to take it off, I still had an adrenaline rush from Lara kicking butt in the race.  Thank goodness the bride was so understanding. 

Lara was expected to swim semi-finals shortly after the wedding ceremony.  I wouldn’t have to throw down more cash for the business center, though, because semi-finals were televised.  I went to the wedding, which was only a block away from the hotel.  I dressed up, put on the make-up, attended the wedding, cried, visited with friends, got my table designation, went through the receiving line, then ran back to the hotel to watch semi-finals.

The timing was perfect. 

Cecily and me at her wedding.jpg

To the right: Cecily Martin, the beautiful, understanding bride, and me in the receiving line, after which I ran back to the hotel to watch semi-finals.

I can’t remember if Lara got first place or not during semi-finals.  The important thing was that she made it to finals.  No problem.  She was in.  I went back to eat the delicious wedding dinner and shake my groove thing at the reception.

The months of anticipation wouldn’t find relief until the next day, July 6, 2008, 50-meter freestyle finals.  I was scheduled to be on a plane at the same time that Lara was to swim.  Bugger.

I got to the airport early, and claimed a table in a cafe where I could watch Olympic Trials on TV.  The minutes ticked away, and I debated how badly I wanted to watch finals.  Would it be worth missing my flight?  Did I really need to go to work the next day?  So what if I spent the night in Chicago Midway airport?

Well, turns out I like my creature comforts.  I watched the trials, but no miracle occurred to bump up the 50-meter freestyle race before my flight.

Instead, I spent the whole flight clutching my phone, sighing and rocking back and forth.  Yes, I was literally rocking in my seat.  The passenger sitting next to me probably thought I was crazy, or severely afraid of flying.  I waited until I could turn my phone on and send a text to my mom to find out what happened.  I stared at my watch, “Ten minutes after 7 o’clock.  Do they know yet?  Do they know if Lara is going to Beijing?”

“What would happen if I turned on my phone mid-flight?  Would it interfere with the pilot’s radio?  Would a flight attendent storm down the aisle to reprimand me for putting all our lives in danger?”

“Fifteen minutes, do they know now?  Why can’t this plane go faster?”

“I’m sure I saw that flight attendent using her Blackberry.  How dare they tell passengers to turn off electronics and she’s using her Blackberry??  What if she interferes with the pilot’s radio?  She could be putting all our lives in danger!?”

“Do I have to wait for the plane to reach the gate, or is it safe to use my phone when we’re on the ground?”

“Twenty minutes past.  They know now.  They’re either celebrating or mourning,  Which is it?  Why can’t I be in Omaha right now?”

“Twenty-five minutes past.  The whole world knows except me.”

I was never on a longer flight.  I was good, though, I didn’t turn on my phone until the flight attendent said so.  I sent a text to my mom: “WHAT HAPPENED?”  No response.  I called.  No response.  I sent a text to my dad.  I called my dad.  I called my mom again.  Nothing.  They forgot me.  They completely forgot that I exist and want to know what the hell happened.

Finally Mom answered her phone: “She got third,” Mom said.

Seriously?  Third?  That’s worse than last place!  Stupid Dara Torres!  She’s already been to the Olympics! Four times!  Let someone else go!  Let my sister go!

Alas, four more years to wait.  What if Lara gets sick of swimming?

Here’s an NBC video of the finals race, in which Lara got third place.

Then, the woman who got second place, Jessica Hardy,  tested positive for performance enhancing drugs.

Trials 2008 bronze medal.jpgNormally this would mean that Lara could take her place on the team, but USA Swimming didn’t release the information in time to add Lara to the team.  Just as Lara, and all of us, were accepting Lara’s bronze (pictured left), we got this news.  It felt like she lost her place again.

Still, as her friend and co-captain Taylor Baughman says, Lara’s medal is framed and hanging in her room with the word “motivation” under it.  Motivation for this year, and the next three.  See you in London.

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Tucson

Posted by Carly Rose Jackson on March 13, 2009

Swimming was not necessarily a burdensome limit on our family vacations.  Going to out of town meets gave us the chance to see places we never would have visited otherwise.

The first such city was Tucson.  I love Tucson, especially when in an air-conditioned room.

Below, Lara and a view of the Tucson desert at the Sonora Desert Museum.

Lara at Desert Museum.jpgLara swam at a meet in Tucson every June.  We would stay at a cozy Embassy Suites which had the best breakfast spread of any hotel I’ve stayed in, including the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago.  In Tucson we felt positively decadent with our short-order pancakes, fruit, and juice bar, sitting on the patio in the cool morning.

After breakfast, we would stock up the cooler with sports drinks and water and head to the swim meet.

Lara & Gramp & Dad in Tucson 1999.jpg

To the right, Lara with our grandfather, Richard Jackson, and dad, Keith Jackson in 1999.  The bleachers are above the pool, which you can see in the background.

I would usually spend most of the meet listening to Cowboy Mouth on my CD player, reading sci-fi — and I will not post a link to exactly which sci-fi, because I’m too ashamed to admit what horrible stuff I used to read.

In the evening we would

a) go to a movie, because movie theaters out west are usually extravagant.  My theory: during summer, people like to go someplace cool and dark and drink bladder-busting sodas.

b) go to the Sonora Desert Museum.

We drove for about an hour (again, me listening to Cowboy Mouth and reading in the car, because in high school I avoided “togetherness”), arrive at the museum at dusk.  The museum is something like a nature hike, zoo, and natural history museum in one easy package.

We walk these trails, with signs pointing out important flowers and cacti, and warning people to avoid the javelinas. Javelinas.jpg

To the left: javelinas on the trail.  Oh yes, they run free in the desert.  They may look like friendly, furry pigs, but in real life they’re vicious killers and will eat your face.  At least that’s the impression I got.  I’ve never seen one.

The museum has animal enclosures.  I remember the mountain lions and the mountain goats as big as mountain lions.   Sonora Desert Museum mt goats.jpg   The animal enclosures blended so perfectly with the landscape, you forgot they were in a zoo.  To the right, three mountain goats and their au naturel cage.

 There was also an awesome display where you went into a cave.  I don’t know how much of the cave was man-made and how much was natural.  there were tight cave paths that kids (humans, because goats weren’t allowed) could squeeze through to learn about spelunking and bats.

 One year, my parents bought a new camcorder and I took control, taping Lara’s races, but also documenting the rest of our vacation.  I learned how to work a camera, use zoom so that nobody gets motion sickness when you force your unsuspecting relatives to watch it, and to edit because as cool as it is to stare at a mountain goat in real life, no one wants to watch a two minute home video of a goat.

Below, a picture of Lara and me probably watching a display about bats, which is why it’s so dark.

 Lara and me at Desert Museum.jpg On one trip, we went to Old Tucson, the movie studio where masterpieces were filmed, including:

 Rio Bravo, starring John Wayne

 The Outlaw Josey Wales, starring Clint Eastwood

 The Frisco Kid, starring Gene Wilder and Harrison Ford

 My dad and I would always watch Christmas with The Duke on TBS, so when we came upon that Rio Bravo set, where the final shoot-out takes place, I went bonkers.  I stood in the same place where John Wayne crouched behind a rock and shot a Hollywood gun.  You are so jealous right now.

 My parents loved traveling to Tucson.  We would look at the record boards, the lists of names and my parents would speculate that Lara might one day attend UA and have her name on the records board. records board Oct 2008.jpg

 In October 2008, my mom took this picture:

See Lara’s name, with a whole bunch of other glamorous swimmers?There’s one place Lara has made her mark.

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