12.31.2003

Hockey
Y'all know I play hockey. There's no hiding that. What I have not really mentioned (forgive me if I have) is how hard this season has been. A couple of things happened this fall: 1. I made the Seals, acheiving a year-long goal. I still get giddy when I put on that jersey, like finally, I've arrived. I realize that arrived means pulling up to the always-ghetto, never-quite-clean Oakland ice rink but there I am nonetheless. A Seal. Part of a group with a very high, very small-in-range skill level. I'm at the bottom of that level, bottom-middle on a good day but that doesn't matter. I'm a Seal. Arf arf. 2. I made maroon. Going to the tryout was a last-minute thing. There was just something about being a Seal who played in Red that didn't sit right with me. Not exactly a pride thing but a 'I should be more challenged in my regular league' thing. So (if I may brag for one moment, which really, is why I have this site, for chances to brag about my bad self) I rolled into one maroon tryout and made it, no sweat. I wasn't even on the maybe list. I know, I looked, while lobbying for the maybes to get moved up too.

So there I am, in maroon. I adore the level of play, it's much more interesting than red but for a lot of our games, I missed my red friends desperately. Getting the call to be their goalie didn't help -- that's an entirely different thing than being a skater. Trust me. Goalie is like the hired help. After every game, every practice, I was getting really depressed. Way, way, way outside of my comfort zone and struggling. Hockey was a good challenge, but it wasn't fun anymore.

I pushed myself to make it fun again. This started with relaxing around my maroon team, speaking up more and trying to be a standout player. I stopped caring if we lost (which we have. A lot.) and just worked on having fun. That's starting to pay off. Last night, we lost 4-8 and I just don't care. It was pretty fun, though a couple people were a little too bitchy for my taste. I did have fun taking note of how many times a friend on the other team fell down (13) with Sally and shouting 'blah blah blah' every time the other coach shouted at his team. I played like shit but nobody seemed to notice. So there.

I'm still struggling with my co-ed team. They're a wonderful bunch of folks. I take all credit for this, I work really hard to make sure the group is mellow but hard-working and will get along. It's paying off, we're becoming a cohesive bunch. But now the problem is me. I love the team, I do. But I'm bored when we play. It would be much easier to back up my bored claim if I scored a lot (though I do rack up a few assists here and there) but it's still true. The Seals have spoiled me.

The real question is, where do I go from here? I'm just not sure but I know it needs to be wherever I can to keep this fun. Because it's worthless if I'm not enjoying it. Same goes for you people. Find something you like, maybe even something you love and do everything you can to keep it fun. Peace.

A year ago, we were ringing in the New Year in Shanghai. We went to the top of some tall-ass hotel and took pictures, then crashed back at Andrea's parents condo, knowing that in less than a day, we'd be heading home. We would've gone to bed earlier, had we any idea that the flight home would be the worst ever. Surrounded by a large group of tourists, we got the brunt of their anger when a disgruntled youth took a sleeping pill. 8 hours of yelling at the kid, pounding on the back of my seat, then yelling at us to mind our own business ensued. Finally the people fell asleep and I started pounding on their chairs. Accidentally, of course.

But this year, we're home, home, home, in our small but messy house. We plan to stop by one party but the goal is to be on the couch with the dogs at midnight, not just to ring in the new year with them but to prevent Gus from going insane when our idiot neighbors light firecrackers in the street.

In other news, today, our Roos are three! It seems absolutely unreal that they're getting to be no-longer-puppies anymore. Didn't they just come home yesterday? Wasn't Alice just here too?

Rainie and Patrick, posing with their mama, Ellie

12.30.2003

Not having schoolwork to worry about means that, barring a teeny bit of freelance work that I'm trying to wrap up, I actually have a few days off. Like, really off. It's weird. I'm not quite sure what to do with myself so I think I'll take a nap.

Later, or perhaps starting now, I'll refer to this Christmas as the Year I Had Hives. Now, hives are one of those things that are usually funny, when they're not happening to you. Hives! Ha ha! Funny! But not always, not when I have them. There they were, on my arms and legs, a physical manfiestation of a great (very very large) deal of stress, the sum total of a semester of stress over grades, a year of stress over money and just in time for the holidays, some very painful shit. It equalled more stress, I think, than I've ever faced at one time in my life. All of it, right there at the same time. Just add parents and poof! Hives.

The only time I can remember being more tired than I was last week was when we first bought our house and were working all day, rushing home to pick up Alice and Zeus, then rushing to the new house to paint, scrape floors and get ready to move in. Never mind having to pack our old house up, no, we just forgot about that until way past the last minute, forgoing food and sleep instead. This last month has been like that, but worse, because it's not fun stuff like owning your own house for the first time. It's more like shit you'll never forget, only get to put behind you if you're lucky and there are no lingering side effects. That, and finals.

So the hives make sense, really. But they're still not funny.

I did my daughterly duty, pretended like everything was A-OK, appeared at all events with some sort of smile on my face (though Andrea, as always, acted as my human shield, stepping in to cover when I was in over my head, which was really the entire visit) and made it through. Another Christmas, over, hives and all.

My most sincere hope for the upcoming New Year is that I never have a Christmas like this one, that I never again feel this tired or this low. I also hope that those who chose to treat me (or anyone) badly this year get what they deserve. Soon. No, I'm not talking about the kind of garden variety bad treatment like you might expect, harsh words or subtle smacks in the face. Those are fine, give me those treatments all day. I forgive you, let's move on. No, I'm talking about something much less benign, something I may never be able to discuss here. But I do give thanks for the chance to say: Fuck You for hurting me and the people I care about this year. You had no right to change our lives. May karma kick you in the ass and not ever let you stand up again. May you break out in hives, that I may laugh at you while you scratch in misery.

I'd like to give the hidden details about my year as much as you'd like me to. But I can't. For my own reasons, all of which would surely sound weak to you. They sound weak to me. But if you're one of the three who know, well, you can surely understand the hives.

Wishing all but a couple of you a hive-free 2004.

12.24.2003

The calendar tells me it's Christmas Eve, that on the morrow the world shall rejoice, our savior is born! Except that it's not quite like that, there's no savior coming tomorrow. Barring an onslaught of terrorist activity that once again alters our internal and external landscapes, the world will look the same. The problems that weigh me down now will still be there, the hurt that I cannot let go of will still reside deep in my heart. The only difference? I'll have a few gifts to add to my collection, some chosen out of a sense of knowing me, knowing what this-or-that might improve my life a little bit, might bring up a memory of a cherished friend, but a lot of which were purchased out of obligation.

It's that obligation that gets me. Year after year, it grows worse, the 'whatdoyouwantforchristmas' that I hear over and over again between Thanksgiving (or in some years, Halloween) and tomorrow. The best part about Christmas right now is that I won't have to answer that question any more. Until next year.

I like getting gifts, don't get me wrong. If you're in a store (or, more likely, a hockey rink pro shop) and see something that fits in your budget and you know, just know, I'd enjoy, even though it's mid-June and there are no holidays in sight, I urge you, get that thing and consider it your 'get-out-of-Christmas-free' pass. You will be exempt from the forced obligitory-ness that is Christmas. Hell, even if you don't see that thing, you're still exempt.

Despite having grown up Catholic, Christmas has always had this sort of connotation for me, the gifts forced. While the folks who forced this sort of thing on me are extremely well-meaning, the end result is the sum total of 30 years of growing resignation to having to quick! think of something I 'want.' Even though, right now I'm as broke as I've ever been and a true gift would be a Safeway gift certificate, a promise to pay even $5 towards next season's hockey, things that aren't as glamorous as the Bauer 5000 goalie pants that I got (and desperately needed, and am extremely grateful for) but 'things' that aren't 'things,' things that are true gifts, that would make my life a little/a lot easier.

I mention these items not as a solicitation for gifts but as a suggestion to all of us. If you don't 'feel' Christmas (and I suspect a lot of us don't) then don't force it. There's no mental laxative that will make you a believer. Pushing through a thousand crowds to buy something I don't want proves only to both of us that once again, we've fallen for the retail trap that is Christmas, not that we've found some solace in one another this year and wish to acknowledge the gift of that solace. Which, I think, is what it should be, rather than some empty celebration of a timeless story that may or may not be true, which at any rate, was undoubtedly not created (or chronicled) with the intent that we all become raving lunatics every December.

I see religious people wearing bracelets and lanyards that say 'WWJD,' asking what Jesus would do, were he here. I do not think he would be at the mall, in fact I suspect he'd shut down the malls and force us to come together, to take a minute to remind each other of the good we see when we look into each other's eyes, not to rush to this store or that to buy a gift without meaning.

To that end, I offer a snippet of what I see when I look into the eyes of those I love. Andrea, first and foremost, offers me a kind of unconditional, free (not like a hippie kind of free) love that seems to trancend everything that's going on around us. You could easily have given up on me so many times, but you chose not to. I can't say enough how grateful I am for my life with you.

Actually, she's all I can think about right now. I think that's good. Merry Christmas to all, you three readers of mine. May this holiday give you the chance to see in your family's eyes the gifts that their love brings you, to see the love and devotion that God (or whoever) has been kind enough to send my way that fateful day I met Andrea, back in 1995. Thank you thank you thank you. She's better than a thousand Christmases.

12.22.2003

Today was a banner day of hockey, hockey, hockey. It started with Andrea's green game, where I coached with my most excellent co-coach, Lisa. For some reason, she and I hit it off right away and have become a coaching force to be reckoned with. Or at least a coupla coaches who get along real good. Andrea played a great game, even being one of three defenseman, I was still very impressed with her.

Then it was on to my maroon game, where I begged, pleaded and cajoled to get a chance to play wing. In the second period, I got the chance, moving to left wing (admittedly my worst position but beggars can't be choosers). I had a number of breakaways, surprised myself at how many (all but one) of my shots were on goal. The next period, there was some discussion -- should I go back to defense or stay up? I held out and stayed up where once again the force to be reckoned with of Lisa and I was together, this time as a wing pair (did I mention that she's also on my maroon team?). We were close into the net, Lisa was tied up by a nameless agro-defenseman, but the puck got loose. I ran to it, Lisa still flailing about behind me, got my blade on it and shot it right past the goalie, where it hit the cloth part along the bottom of the net so hard I could hear it. My annual goal has been scored! Woo! Though this year, I'm shooting (ha ha) for 5. I'll keep you posted.

We lost 2-1 but hey, I was the 1.

After that, I raced down to the ice center where I put on my goalie costume and subbed in for my first 5-on-5 co-ed team. The guys were really nice and I had a blast. More importantly (at least as far as securing that elusive NHL contract in the future) I looked and played like a Real Goalie. I let in 2, a very very respectable number and was assured that I'll be asked back again. Thank you, thank you.

It was the most fun I've had playing hockey in a long time. I lost both games but just don't care, I rocked in both. Sometimes, that's more than enough.

12.19.2003

Highlights from today's pickup game:
  • Having more good saves against some really good shooters than I'd dared to expect.
  • Sparky hitting me right in a very sensitive spot. Nice aim!
  • The 14 year old kids who skated circles around everyone. For the most part, they didn't shoot but the one time one of them did, pow! slapshot to my unprotected upper thigh. That's gonna be one for the bruise book. Re-confirms the need for actual goalie pants.
  • Enjoying it and doing fairly well. Who am I to complain?

12.17.2003

Good news, bad news
The good news? The exam is behind me, I wrote for 2.5 hours with scarcely a break and thing I did okay.

The bad news? I got my final paper back and it was a B+. Considering that I wrote it in a day, that a lot of bad things were going on at the time, it's not the worst thing but still. I'm not here for B's, thank you very much. My gracious instructor has allowed me to revise, if I get it in by Monday. So here we go again.

In the spirit of the holidays as well as the spirit of avoiding studying for tonight's final, I have updated the archive page to be current and removed the dead links to my longer pieces. My gift to you. Enjoy it, because that's all you're gonna get.

Exhausted. And Not Done Yet.
Finally, I presented my paper last night. Not with the great kind of gusto and gut-busting antics that some of my collegues had, but with the quiet sensibility of one who can do no more to make this paper better. I rushed through it, scarcely taking a breath. Pretty much it read like this:

This afternoon, I’ll be talking about the evolving space of blue that separates heaven from earth in Alice Sebold’s The Lovely Bones.

20 minutes of rushed speaking ensued, then:

blah blah blah: heaven.

Thank you, I'm here all week.

Actually, I tried at that point to escape the podium, to once again retreat to my seat but Alan, my teacher and now boss, made me stay and address the all-too-obvious-to-me allegorical aspects of the book. But then I was done, at least until Alan pointed out that he had 'thoughts' about my personal essay and a couple of small works I'd turned in the week before.

Today, I'm trying to get ready for my only final, a 3 part series of essay questions, for which I am both ready (in that I need to talk out of my ass. That, I can do) and not ready (while talking out of my ass, I need to cite at least 7 sources from our volumunous reading, correctly stating the year and spelling of the author's last name. Fine if those last names are Smith but not so easy when it's Csikszentmihalyi (1990) and Rybcznski (1991)). But really, I just want it all over so I can have the obligatory nervous breakdown before my parents get here on Sunday.

Wish me luck.

12.16.2003

I am right now printing the final version of my final paper. After tonight, I have one final and I'm done done done with this semester.

Tried on goalie pants today. The most amazing thing happened: I actually need a size small. A small!

12.12.2003

Could someone please explain to Zeus that appropriate places for old doggies to snooze include the following:
  • His very special small doggie bed that only fits him
  • The communal doggie beds that fit him, along with everyone else
  • The crate in the kitchen that he's so very fond of
  • Either of the two couches
  • The futon behind me
And while you're at it, could you also explain to him that the inside of Andrea's hockey bag, though it is currently on top of the futon, is actually not on that list? Thanks!

Saw Bad Santa the other day with Annette. It was so damn funny, dare I say it was Annette-smacking funny. We sat in the back, 2 of the 5 folks in the theater, laughing our asses off, despite the stunned silence/occasional titters of laughter from the other 3 theater-goers in the room.

I got the call!
The good news? I was asked to sub in for Blue, the highest division in the women's league. I would, of course, love to do it, for the opportunity to make an ass of myself in front of a new group of ladies, if nothing else. However...

The bad news? They're playing the Seals. I'll be there already, making an ass of myself in front of a team who already knows what to expect from me.

But still, I got the call! Here's to the call!

12.10.2003

The paper, while not quite finished, is much closer. The parts that are finished are really quite good, or at least close enough to really quite good that I'm happy with it. Need to revisit the middle part but progress is progress.

In the meantime, I am so very tired, unable to sleep more than a few hours a night, utterly devoid of time to engage in supplemental napping. Soon, I'll be caught up, able to spend more time resting. I hope.

12.09.2003

I'm still in the throes of writing for school, trying to wrap up final edits to both my personal essay and a longer conference paper on Alice Sebold's books. Right now, I'm surfing the web, reading other reviews and works on these books. Now that I'm so intimately connected with both of them, now that my copies are dog-eared and well-loved, I am offended at the people who write about these books without checking their facts. I'm taking it personally when they get a date range wrong, summarize too freely or belittle anything that the narrator does in any way.

I admit that it's a little weird, but I also think it's good. It means I care, that what I'm writing will at least be accurate, if not good and that I'm very interested in what I'm writing.

12.08.2003

On my way to turn in one of two portfolios I have due over the next week. With 55 pages in have, I'm on my way to an A. Woo!

Played two games back to back yesterday, first my maroon team, which I'm starting to adore, and then with the Seals. We lost both games but I (and my shoulder) felt okay. I did some fancy moves like skating backwards with the puck a lot along with not too many stupid moves. It was nice to be back on the ice. I even had enough energy left to help coach Andrea's practice an hour after the second game. That was fun, too.

Finally, hockey is fun again. Woo!

12.03.2003

While in class last night, weary and out of mental gas, I looked at the syllabus for tonight's class and realized that my final paper is due. Naturally, I hadn't yet started it. Now, it's due in a mere hour and a half but I may have something worth sneezing at, though I'm really so exhausted I couldn't tell you for sure.

Today I learned the following from K, son of the guy my boss at school shares the office with:
  • There were no cars before 1989, only horses
  • The world was created in 1982
There you have it, folks.

12.02.2003

Home at Last
I've never been so happy to be home.