"There are over 400,000 NCAA student-athletes, and just about all of us will be going pro in something other than sports."
SO YOU'RE SAYING I HAVE A CHANCE?!
I used to scoff at that commercial.
My dad played in the NBA. He did it.
I was recruited by almost every school in the nation. I did it.
I'm going pro.
I'm one of a kind.
I'm the best there ever was.
I'm going pro.
I'm one of a kind.
I'm the best there ever was.
I'm currently working at the JW Marriott.
As a cocktail waitress.
I know what you're thinking.
She's hit rock bottom.
Not so fast! I now know the difference between Kettle One and Tito's.
Swimming knee deep in chardonnays and pinos? Let me enlighten you on the difference between which have been locally fermented in the vineyards of Napa, and which have been imported from the sprawling countrysides of Italy.
And don't get me started on our seasonal raspberry mules and summer shandys!
After graduation my aunt, uncle, and 3 precious little cousins took me out to dinner. They flew all the way out to California from Florida to support me on my big day. They were staying at an airbnb in Venice Beach. One of their buddies owned it.
My Florida fam is super outdoorsy. They're the version of myself I still hope to become. They surf. They sail. They're musically inclined.
With that being said, I was hoping to wow them with my surfing prowess that afternoon. I strapped my board to the top of my car and met them in Venice.
The airbnb was beautiful. A two-story beach house a block from the water. The owner and his wife, Imen, were amazing. Imen is now my manager. At the JW Marriott.
Long story long, she convinced me to give the hotel business a shot. I could tell how much she loved her job the way she lit up when she talked about it.
Was I missing something here?
Is the food and beverage department in the hospitality industry the secret to happiness???
7 days and a 70-hour work week later I can tell you that it's...
Not exactly what I thought it was going to be.
But it has taught me so much so quickly.
I really do take pleasure in a 4-star beachfront resort overlooking the water. It's quite lovely serving guests in the beautiful California sunshine.
And the people! I've made a myriad of friends from all walks of life. Some of the most humble, hardworking, nose-to-the-grindstone co-workers I think I'll ever have.
Plus, I'm making some cash monnnaayyy if youknowwhaimsayyyin.
My lease ends in a month.
College is over.
For those of you who know me, you know I can't sit still. I have to be doing something. If I'm not, I drive myself crazy. And yes, sometimes sitting on my butt not doing anything is something and I'm okay with that. But I have a limit. If the limit is exceeded, I lose my cool.
So, why not take up bartending?
Why not dive into an area totally untapped by my cerebral cortex and give it a shot?
I mean I did graduate from UCLA. How hard could it be?
It's been the hardest 7 days of my life. Just ask my roommates. They've seen me at my worst. That's if they see me.
I leave at 9am and get home at 9pm, battling traffic to & fro.
Then I eat dinner.
Then I shower.
Then I go to bed.
Then I wake up and do it all over again.
My head coach at UCLA offered me a part-time job working for UCLA athletics.
This was before my newfound gig as "diner girl."
My role would be to emcee basketball games, create behind-the-scenes videos with athletes, and--within the confines of women's basketball--dabble in broadcast television.
After basketball season ended I got an internship at Wasserman. It's a world-renowned sports agency, one that represents some of the best clientele in the world.
Russell Westbrook was a frequent visitor.
One evening at the office I took the elevator down with him and took him to get his car washed. That internship was cool.
Two weeks ago, I was camp director for the UCLA basketball camps and had to consistently kick off the Los Angeles Sparks, Kanye West, Real Madrid, and Kyrie Irving from the practice courts.
Only at UCLA.
Two days ago, I had an interview at CBS in Los Angeles. I met with the GM. The same GM who was my mom's GM when she worked for CBS in Dallas.
This morning I found out I got the part and will be cast in an Under Armour commercial.
Sounds a little more "Nicole", am I right?
These are the kinds of opportunities I regurgitate to people when they ask me what I want to do for the rest of my life.
But what people don't know is that I haven't said yes to any of them.
(Except for the Under Armour commercial because that's just flat-out sick).
It's been two months since Coach Cori offered me the job and I haven't said yes.
Coach, I know you're reading this and I know you're wondering what I'm about to say next.
I don't know if I want to do it.
I don't know if I want to stay in California.
One day I do. And the next day I don't.
I love this city with all of my heart. We all know this. We're all annoyed by this.
But facts are facts-- my rent is $1200 for a single bedroom and I live with 4 other girls.
No AC, no dishwasher, a broken microwave, squeaky floors, zero closet space, and the funniest lookin' half bath that you ever did see.
All 1 sq. ft. of it
But boy let me tell you.
10985 Roebling Ave. will live on forever.
I had the best year of my life in that apartment.
From L to R, back to front:
Sangria, Dom, The Protestant, Mom, Graham, and me
But everything boils down to one question:
After my fourth day in a row at the Marriott, I was reaching a breaking point.
I'm not supposed to be a part of that 400,000 who goes pro in something other than sports. And last time I checked, bartending doesn't even qualify me under the 400,000 who do. I'm in a category all by myself.
Day 4 of work:
Wake up, roll over, hit stop, lazily get out of bed.
"Here we go again."
The glamorous real world. Hitting me square in the face.
An hour later, I clock in.
Time to fill up ice buckets, wipe down sticky countertops, and fold napkins.
Time to roll up my sleeves and serve the good-good.
After finding a spare minute to continue my newfound talent in the art of origami, commonly referred to as napkin folding, crease by crease and linen by linen my hope for a better future felt unattainable. That was until a sudden cloud of darkness enveloped me. It was a figure. Part man. Part beast.
"Will you put this on the rocks for me, my love?"
Many of you know Allen Iverson is my go-to guy. The wind beneath my wings. The bread to my butter. The fairy to my tale.
After yesterday, Steven Adams became one gangly mustache hair away from taking the crown.
The Oklahoma City Thunder were checking into the JW Marriott on Ocean Ave.
My JW Marriott on Ocean Ave.
As my Oklahoma born and bred counterparts know, Billy Donovan is head coach.
Billy left Florida Luke's sophomore year. So he was very familiar with the Gator-killer himself, Luke Francis Kornet.
Billy & his wife sat down for lunch.
Steven Adams and his darling New Zealand lad did too.
Kyle Singler, Enes Kanter, and Andre Roberson went off to explore the pier.
The Thunder stayed for 3 days and 2 nights.
Never have I been more excited to wake up for my 10-hour work days.
I became really close with Steven, Coach Donovan, and fellow Sooner, Chris Condit, after their short stay.
The guys would roll in after their morning workouts and Steven would shout out in the middle of the lobby, "NICOOOOLLLLEEEE, I'M BAAAAAAAAAACK."
How fast I fell for that Grizzly Adams-looking man.
Coach Donovan was the last one to check out on Thursday.
Before leaving, he made eye contact with me and motioned me over to him.
"Now don't forget to tell your family I said hi, okay? Promise me you'll tell them."
15 minutes later he offered me a front office job for the Thunder.
20 minutes later he gave me the contact information of Matt Bonner's sister, Becky.
Becky works for "Basketball Without Borders."
She travels around the world with NBA athletes and teams and helps organize camps, fundraisers, and global networking events. She's currently with KD in India. Next is Russ in China. Imagine that.
So there I was in my little black dress and vans, laughing to myself at the fact that this crazy cocktail gig of mine landed me to this notion:
I might move back to Oklahoma.
I don't know what I'll do next, but I do know that my lease is up in one month, I have a couple of job offers up my sleeve, and I will blog allllllll about it.
P.s. I hope I didn't lure you into thinking this article was going to be about Luke. So glad you read, though!