It’s the most wonderful time of the year

I have discovered the secret to overcoming Daylight Savings Time. If you sleep like crap the week beforehand (as I did), you won’t be on any kind of schedule and your body won’t have such a problem adjusting. This morning it didn’t feel like 5:30 when my alarm went off. It felt like 6:30, because that’s what my clock said. I am glad to share this secret with you so that next year you too will be able to make an easy transition.

One of my favorite times of the year will be drawing to a close tonight. Sure, you might say, it’s easy for you to be a fan, because your team is in the final game. True, but I love watching the tournament regardless. Ask my friend Theresa. We met for a couple of years on Friday afternoons to do Bible study. There was one Friday in March, though, where I insisted that we watch the tournament instead. She was horrified to find out that there were games all afternoon and complained bitterly to all who would listen about my poor treatment of her. (Imagine my surprise and pride when she emailed me to ask me if I’d watched her beloved NC State beat UConn in the tournament, because she was pretty anxious there for a while. My response: “Is this actually Theresa? Because I don’t remember Theresa watching basketball except under extreme duress.” I haven’t heard back yet.) Ask my friends who still think I’m a Maryland fan because I wore red to their 2001 Final Four party (Maryland was playing Duke, what can I say?) and their 2002 Final Four party (I had a hard time deciding which Coach Williams I was rooting for in that game, but ultimately my ACC loyalties won out over my affection for Roy). Ask my dad, who always says, “You’re taking this a little too seriously.” My response? “Put mom on the phone.” hehe.

I am known among my friends for following basketball pretty closely. There was that time early this season when I was in Greensboro and couldn’t find a score for the Carolina/Kentucky game so I called Brian and made him check it on ESPN.com (much to his dismay). He says I have a problem. There’s the frantic call we made from the Atlanta airport a few weeks ago when we were trying to find out whether NC State had been able to pull it out against Duke. There are the grudges I hold against Boston College and Weber State. There’s the funk I was in after the Wake/West Virginia game a few weeks ago. There’s the fact that I get so excited before the tournament that you’d think it was Christmas for me. There’s also that little detail about how I told Mike that if he wanted us to be together, he’d have to learn to like basketball (hey, I learned football for him!) and he would have to be a Carolina fan.

Apparently I am getting to be known that way at work, as well. On Friday afternoon, some of the circulation staff was discussing the Carolina/Michigan State game, and they couldn’t remember what time it was going to be. “Go ask Kari,” they said. “She’ll know.” (I did.) Two of the guys here and I have been discussing our brackets ad nauseum. On Saturdays during basketball season, my coworker and I always set our computers to update with the scores. I’m the one who was updating everyone on the first two days of the NCAA tournament. I’ve already exchanged high fives and cautiously optimistic statements about the game tonight with a couple of coworkers, and everyone is asking me if I’m excited. (Yes.)

On Saturday, just before the second game tipped off, one of my friends and I were talking, and I said, “You know, I consider myself pretty lucky. I’ve calmed down a lot, so it’s not like Carolina losing a game ruins my day like it used to. But at the height of my crazed fandom, when I knew every player’s stats and watched or listened to every game, my team won a national championship. That’s not a bad deal. A lot of people can’t say that.” She said it was much the same for her.

Win or lose tonight, this has been a great season. One that I’ll remember for a long time. And no matter what happens tonight, I’ll be a little sad tomorrow that the season of buzzer-beaters and ACC loyalties, crazed overtime games and basketball from noon until midnight will be over. I like baseball, to be sure, but it’s nothing like basketball for me. On the first day of the tournament, I had the day off, and Mike and I were watching the games all afternoon. I fell asleep on the floor during one game, and woke up to a completely different game. I turned to Mike and grinned, saying, “This is the life. You fall asleep, and basketball is on. You wake up, and it’s still on. This is the best time of the year.”

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