Monday, January 15, 2018

Shades of Games Long Ago Played

For the second time in two weeks, I found myself yelling with delight at my television set as a football team scored an improbable, last-second touchdown to claim a victory from near-certain defeat. Since this had happened exactly zero times in my conscious memory previously, yeah, it's a big deal in this house. Yesterday's was even more shocking and remarkable, in that perhaps the most tortured franchise in professional sports, one that has had this sort of thing happen with numbing regularity over the decades, was the beneficiary, not the victim. As Stefan Diggs crossed the goal line last night, a whole bunch of thoughts went through my mind:
1) I was a Vikings fan for over 40 years, until finally I just had enough heartbreak that I had to walk away (it was chronicled in this blog, sometime in 2010). But like an ex-wife, I have never stopped paying attention to the team, and I cannot say that I am completely divested in any interest or feeling toward the team. My primary allegiance is to the Bills now, which it probably should have been all along, since it is the closest thing to a local team I have and it is the only team that I have actually watched play live, in a stadium, more than once. But of course I am still invested in the Vikings.
1a) Even while the team was going crazy in the end zone last night, I was thinking of past soul-crushing, stomach-punch defeats, the last just two years ago when their kicker missed a chip shot field goal to lose a playoff game in Seattle. But one in particular, as long ago as the Crusades to most of America but very much real to those of my generation and older, came to mind. The best Viking team of all time never even got to the Super Bowl; the 1975 team lost a home playoff game to the Cowboys on the original Hail Mary, giving up a touchdown on a play that was clearly offensive pass interference with a few seconds left in the game. The official that missed the call is one of the few whose name, even at a distance of forty-plus years, is burned into a particular fan base's memory. His name was Armen Terizian, and even though a sort of rough justice was extracted in the immediate moment-- the game was played in the old Metropolitan Stadium, an outdoor venue, and some fan threw a whiskey bottle with military precision that hit Terizian right in the noggin and knocked him out cold on the field shortly after the touchdown-- his name has been one of the scars that Viking fans cannot forget or forgive. As Diggs whipped his helmet away and stood with his arms extended in the end zone as the mob was arriving, I am as positive as I can be that thousands of people across America were thinking what I was thinking-- that finally, forty-two years after the cosmic crime, a rough measure of justice was finally extended. If this was a more primitive society, Terizian would be dug from his grave and rude injuries done to the body, but as it is, one will have to be satisfied with merely noting that his perfidy has finally been expiated.
2) Sports teams mean much more than they should to a significant portion of the population of this country, but at the same time, allegiance to them is a recognized factor in any accurate psychological profile of their fans. As part of my own personal journey, I did a lot of work and spent a lot of time analyzing on how and why the sports teams I had followed passionately since I was in grade school had affected the development of my personality and how they had truly and actually directly affected all areas of my life. For most of my life, I have been a devoted, even diehard, fan of four teams, three professional and one college-- the Vikings, the Red Sox, the New York Rangers, and the Syracuse Orange college basketball team. My other passion for many years was horse racing, and this tendency showed up time and again in that realm, too-- of course I preferred Sham to Secretariat, Alydar to Affirmed, Bet Twice to Alysheba, Easy Goer to Ferdinand, and wilted with several horses whose Triple Crown hopes died in the Belmont, Charismatic and Silver Charm and Smarty Jones. Time has passed and circumstances have changed, but to anyone aged, say, 45 and older will instantly know, even if they know next to nothing about sports, that these teams are associated with a lot of misery and heartbreak in the past, but especially in the 1970's and 80's, the period of time when I was emotionally and psychologically coming of age. It wasn't like the teams were perennially lousy; they were more often than not true, actual contenders for championships, yet for a long time never managed to close the deal, often in excruciating fashion. And while some may scoff at the notion, I know that this constant, almost-but-not-quite-good-enough-to-win-it-all experience had a real and corrosive effect on my soul, on my self-image, and that it had real, concrete carryover effects into my everyday "normal" life. I have struggled with self-esteem and trust issues that are very much related to the experiences of those teams--never quite good enough to get what I really wanted, never happy even with a record of substantial accomplishment, a pessimistic and cynical view of the world, an absolute and very real inability to enjoy life to the fullest even when all was going well on the surface, an ever-present and very real expectation that somehow it would all be snatched away just before feeling joy. Tangential effects included a very real tendency to not feel like my true worth as a person, in whatever area, was not only not good enough, but that I never got the credit I was due for the accomplishments I did consistently put up. It may sound somewhat ridiculous, but it didn't make it any less real, and to some degree that internal battle has raged on well into my mature years.
Of course, for three of those teams and their fan bases, their seemingly endless misery did end. The Rangers finally won a Stanley Cup in 1994. The Orange finally won an NCAA championship in 2003. The Red Sox broke through in 2004, and have added two more since. But the Vikings--no, not the Vikings. When I finally gave up on the Vikings in 2011, I actually regarded it as a psychological step forward, that I had grown enough as a person to not be satisfied with always-a-bridesmaid, to not accept ultimate failure as my fate, that I was able to confront reality, dispense with false hope and accept my denial for what it was, and move on with my life.
But life is not that simple, obviously. The 40 years of emotional investment, as noted earlier, cannot simply be wiped away with a mere decision. And it was some dismay that I realized, as I got on my real life, that the effects identified as part of being a fan of one of these kind of teams did not instantly vanish. I went through a 3 1/2 year relationship, to take the most obvious example, where the happily-ever-after always seemed within reach--but ultimately was never grasped, with the concomitant heartbreak when it finally irrevocably slipped away. I had a job that was ideal for me that ended, after many years, when funding evaporated, and it has been a two year-plus struggle to find a job that was both rewarding and semi-lucrative. My daughters have grown up, and I have realized that, as good a job as I actually did raising them, I did not do quite the job I thought I had done, that they are not immune from struggles and poor decisions and heartbreaks of their own. It has been sobering and honestly hurtful at times to realize that a resolution to change and/or move forward does not free oneself from the baggage accumulated over a lifetime, and that a person's imprints are not easily wiped away, that the intrinsic programming is not so easily dispensed with. It is a process of growth, and growth is inevitably accompanied by not only pain, but constant reminders that lessons that are seemingly learned are rarely, if ever, completely ingested and processed in a short time. It bothered me, for a couple of years, that I still cared about the Vikings, and it still bothers me a bit that I am not quite capable of summoning the passion for the Bills that I had for many years for the Vikings. And on the flip side, I am a little uneasy even this morning about how good I felt yesterday afternoon when Diggs scored his touchdown. This emotional involvement thing is messy and layered and, I am beginning to suspect, never capable of complete resolution. "He who increases knowledge increases sorrow," says Ecclesiastes, and while it may seem pretentious to quote Scripture in an essay about a football game, it is apt and applicable, at the same time, to larger life and bigger matters.
3) Having said all this--in the back of my mind as the reality that the Vikings had actually pulled this off yesterday began to sink in, was "which moment in the past was this most like?" I thought instantly of several moments in the playoff journeys of the teams that did break through. I thought of the Messier hat trick game and the Matteau double-overtime goal, of the Ortiz home runs, of a couple of games in the 2003 NCAA tournament. But the one that stuck in my head was not any of the ultimate redemption moments, but Game Six of the Red Sox series against the Yankees, the famous "bloody sock" game. And in particular, one moment that I vividly remember--actually, two moments-- in the same game that, even though the ultimate accomplishment belonged to the future, drove home the idea with a sledgehammer that, unlike in the past, something was different about that year, about this quest. They were moments when--and this has been confirmed as passing through the minds of dozens of Red Sox fans, famous and not, at the same time when it happened--the shocking and earth-shaking thought came that "this sort of stuff always happens to us, not for us." They were moments that were stomach punches for the other team, that they did not benefit from some crazy break for once, that something that had always gone wrong did not go wrong. And in Game Six, alongside the drama of Schilling pitching with a stapled tendon in his ankle, there were two incidents within a half-hour of each other that were so different from past experiences that even the jaded, pessimistic Red Sox fan base began to believe, to have faith, that maybe this year is going to be different.
The first was the Mark Bellhorn home run. It was initially ruled a ground-rule double, and when all the replays started, it was clear that the ball was first hit by a fan and then by the Yankee outfielder, meaning it was in the stands and therefore a home run. There was an interminable umpires' conference--and then the home run signal was given. I vividly remember sitting on my couch in absolute shock; this type of situation never before worked in the Red Sox' favor, not in my entire life. People like to pretend that justice always eventually wins out, but to a Sox fan in 2004, that was a demonstrably false premise--until that moment. It was a home run, but the call had been made wrong, and history showed that the injustice was always allowed to stand.
And then, in one unbelievable moment, it wasn't.
And as if that wasn't enough of a sign that the universe was shifting, an inning later came the A-Rod incident, when he slapped the ball out of the glove of Bronson Arroyo on a tag play, a run scored and two guys were on base. The original call was safe, but after another conference of the umpires, A-Rod was called out, the run was cancelled, and order was restored. And I recall sitting there again, still drinking the same glass of orange juice as the previous inning, thinking, "This effing never happens in our favor." And it just had--twice.
What was weird about the entire experience was that the Red Sox, after that game was over, still had to win Game Seven and then the World Series--but for the first time in my life to that point, I believed. I believed. I actually was quite sure that they were going to kill the Yankees in Game Seven, and they did, and I never seriously considered the idea that the Cardinals were going to win the World Series from them (and a third moment like this happened in the Series, the Jeff Suppan base running fiasco that, in the past, had always happened to the Red Sox, not benefited them). It was a novel experience, one I had literally never felt before, and have really never truly felt since.
But I suspect that I do believe, at least 95% so, right now. I cannot conceive that the Eagles, as good as they are, are going to beat the Vikings without a passing game. Drew Brees took his best shot and came up short; Nick Foles sure as shit isn't going to do it, is he? And then there is a Super Bowl to be played after that, and likely the Yankees of football will be waiting. But...as much of a dynasty, byword-for-winning that the Yankees have been for a century, they didn't win every Series they were in. Yankee teams lost World Series that they should have won when Babe Ruth was on the team, when Mickey Mantle was on the team, when Yogi Berra was on the team, when Reggie Jackson was on the team, when Derek Jeter was on the team. I can think of two flagrant examples, from 2001 and 2003, in my own memory. I remember the perfect Patriots blowing a Super Bowl. I remember the start of the Patriot era, when the Rams were a much better team and yet the Patriots won the game and started a run that hasn't stopped.
I used to write free-lance about football and get paid for it, in the 1990's. And almost alone among major sports, there are examples in pro football of teams that were disappointments, whether in the "always-lousy" or "perennial bridesmaid" categories, for years, even decades, that, after breaking through, became perennial champions. The Steelers did not play a playoff game for the first 40 years of their existence--but have now won six Super Bowls. The 49ers had a rather sordid history, including some historic chokes, until 1981--then won five Super Bowls in 15 years. The Patriots were alternately terrible and hugely disappointing for 40 years, until 2001. It may seem hard to believe, but for about six years in the late 1960's, the biggest "choke" team in the world was the Dallas Cowboys, until they finally broke through in 1971. No one thinks of the Raiders, despite a recent dry spell, as a "cursed" franchise--but a Raider fan circa 1975 certainly thought so, after six championship game losses and a Super Bowl loss in an eight-year span. The Broncos, too, had a decades-long history of agonizing disappointments, until the year when they actually won, and have added a couple more Super Bowls afterward.
And for many of those teams, there was a game or a moment like yesterday's, when yet another crushing loss seemed imminent, and somehow the mojo changed, something miraculous happened that reversed many years of bad karma. The Steelers actually trailed the Raiders in the AFC championship game in 1974 going into the fourth quarter, but got two interceptions to pull ahead and stay ahead. The 49ers famously had "The Catch" to beat the Cowboys to get to the Super Bowl for the first time. The Patriots, before the Super Bowl against the Rams, had the "tuck rule" game against the Raiders. The Cowboys got gifted with five turnovers in a playoff game with the Vikings in 1971 to manage to win, even though the Vikings had the ball for nearly 40 minutes of the game; I distinctly remember one of my uncles saying during that game that it was always the Cowboys who kept throwing picks in playoff games, and what a novel experience it was to watch it turn around. The 1976 Raiders benefited from a phantom roughing-the-passer call to keep their winning drive against the Patriots alive in their first playoff game, then caught the Steelers without either starting running back in the championship game. The Broncos beat the Chiefs in the divisional championship game in 1997 because KC had a made field goal called back because a penalty and then missed the retry, and then later in the game didn't make a first down on a fake field goal, in a game the Chiefs lost by fouur points.
And if the Titans had made one more yard on the last play of the Super Bowl against the Rams, the Music City Miracle would be even more of a legendary play then it is now.
So there is precedent for believing that generations of karma actually did change as Stefon Diggs crossed the goal line last night. At the age I am now, I am not quite as emotionally invested as I would have been at most other points in my life. But I am--and this is a completely different feeling than I have ever had at any time in my life regarding the Vikings since about 1969--actually feeling optimistic, not just hoping against hope, not expecting some unbelievable cock-up to dash their chances. They have faced down the moment where generations of purple-clad predecessors have failed, and somehow made it through. They are playing with house money, and they have every reason to believe that the Long December is over, that this year really will be different than the last, that there will be a new answer, in three weeks, to a trivia question that has tortured this team's fans since the Patriots, ironically, won their first Super Bowl--"What is the oldest team in the four major professional sports that has NEVER won their league's championship?"
Atlanta Falcons fans, you should start getting nervous.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Book Review: THE DAILY SHOW: AN ORAL HISTORY

I discovered The Daily Show late in the game, during the 2012 election campaign, by which time Jon Stewart was a national icon. And I usually watched the monologues and some of the highlights that next morning until Stewart left the show two years ago, and I have to say that his take on matters I almost always agreed with. This book is a running, more or less chronological commentary from almost anyone associated with the show about its history and future, and it is fascinating, especially when their memories don't jibe. There are also references to many classic moments and skits, and reinforce the central premise of what made the show tick: politics matters because political decisions affect all of us, and if it takes public pointing out and exposure to ridicule of the hypocrisy in some of the decision-making in order to effect changes and to push office-holders to adhere to a moral compass, than that's what it takes. Stewart never backed off, and became the most trusted voice in the nation. He even managed to get his most usual targets on board with some of his causes before he was done. And he is missed.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Book Review: HIS FINAL BATTLE

Joseph Lelyveld's His Final Battle is about our greatest modern President--FDR--and his struggle to stay alive and healthy enough to win a fourth term in 1944 and his attempts to secure a lasting framework for peace as World War II was closing. FDR knew he was not well, and much of the book is devoted to the question of how much his doctors knew about how serious his illnesses were. But it was also clear that FDR believed he could not let go of the wheel, not in 1944, and that it was also clear that he knew not making it to 1948 was likely, hence his efforts to get Henry Wallace out of the Vice-President's office. The details of the Tehran and Yalta conferences are important but ultimately a little dull, but underscore that FDR understood that massaging and trying to keep Stalin in the alliance till war's end was the most important key to a manageable post-war world. The details of his personal life seemed incidental, but I suppose had a bearing on his end and how it came about, too.
FDR is, Republican/wealthy revisionism notwithstanding, either the greatest or second-greatest President we ever had. And this book clearly demonstrates why. Roosevelt on two cylinders was better than most men on six, and even now, his vision and ability stand in stark contrast to the smallminded, petty, vindictive, and selfish motivations of those that opposed him. And in today's fever-driven, ideologically dominated world, what stands out about Roosevelt, even when he was clearly failing, was his pragmatism and lack of rigidity; he had core beliefs, but he never let his ideology skew his views of reality, but would adjust his views and actions to what he actually saw, heard, and felt. And while he had a substantial ego--anyone who was ever anyone has to--and was extremely manipulative, he also did so in such a way that it was hard to see his hand at work, and often the results were so that what was necessary got done, not for the benefit or revenge or personal agenda of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
FDR remains our only physically disabled President that came into office that way. And the author makes a convincing case that his having to deal with polio and its effects softened him, made him humble in a way few politicians are, made him sensitive to the needs and desires of others in a way he never would have understood if he had not been dependent on others for even the most basic, taken-for-granted things like standing up and moving from place to place. I've thought often about that in the last few days, watching the Washington circus unfold and the pettiness of local politics draw inexorably nearer to me. And it makes me wonder, not for the first time, how fortunate this country really was to have had him available at the time he was needed most, with his specific skill set and a powerful identification with the great majority of the people he led. And how unfortunate we are now, in an age where the cult of the individual, of blame, of omerta, of materialism, and of callous regard for others is embedded like a tumor. Trump is the anti-FDR even more than Bush was; there is nothing but self-interest involved in Trump's politics, nothing at all, and the contrast to the man who brought us the New Deal could not be more stark. Or more poignant at this time.

Friday, May 5, 2017

Odds And Ends, Early May 2017

1) So the House Republicans delivered on their Obamacare repeal. And almost anybody that has anything to do with actually treating sick people, including the insurance industry, says it is an awful piece of legislation, going to doom lots of people to sickness and (no hyperbole) death, and provide a windfall tax break for the few thousand of megawealthy people in this country that don't need the money.
This country is now closer to the Zimbabwe of Mugabe than it is to an actual democracy. In just one generation, dating from the election of 1980, we have turned from a flawed society that was still genuinely devoted to providing the best possible outcomes to most of its citizens to one that is governed almost exclusively for the benefit of the wealthy, and designed to both repress and marginalize most of the other people in the country. And I have been convinced, and only become more so with every passing week, that the only way true change will happen is by revolution, violent revolution. And since functional democracies almost never result from revolutions, the Great American Experiment is in its death throes.
2) And so I find small pleasures in large passions, to keep from driving myself to impotent rage. And one of my passions is the Rangers, who won easily again last night to tie their series against Ottawa at two apiece. There's a nagging voice inside my head that tells me the series should be over already, and that it is not a good thing that Tanner Glass has more points in the playoffs than Kreider, Hayes, Miller, and Vesey, all forwards on the first and second lines that have played all ten games, do. On the other hand, the path forward is there; Ottawa certainly can be beaten, the Penguins await sans Crosby and playing Fleury (who for some reason has problems with the Rangers in the playoffs) in goal, and there's nobody left in the West that's scary. But there's a part of me that doesn't want to win the Cup, too; it would make it next to impossible to cashier Alain Vigneault, whose decision-making grows more incomprehensible by the week.
There are some parallels here to my favorite Ranger team of all-time: the 1978-79 overachievers that lost in the finals, then imploded shockingly fast for such a young team. The two biggest ones are that there is no one on this team that is consistently offensively effective (yet somehow they get the pucks in the net anyway), and the expansion draft looms over this team like an sword hanging from the ceiling. They're not going to lose four players, and they're unlikely to move five more for one player, which more than anything killed the 1979-80 and beyond teams; half the team was gone by the next November. But changes are coming, and it's hard to imagine that Vigneault and nominal GM Jeff Gorton are going to get this right. So enjoy it while you can.
3) I've discovered the joys of aux cords and playing music from my phone in the car. It didn't make the final cut of my favorite songs I counted down a few years ago, but there is one song out there that gets covered by more or less everybody, including the guy who wrote it and first performed it, and with rare exceptions, everybody does it really well. The song is All Along The Watchtower, and there have to be a hundred, if not more, different versions by almost as many performers, on You Tube, including a bunch by Bob Dylan himself. One of the many things that I have loved about Dylan over the years is his ability to rework and reinvent his own songs into something completely different as time passes, and another is that he will absolutely give credit when it is due. Both of these traits come into play with this song. Dylan's original version, released in 1967, was acoustic and haunting, effective in its own way, even spooky. But then Jimi Hendrix covered it and made it an absolute rock anthem, and much of what is out there is inspired by Hendrix' cover.
Including Dylan's. Dylan has been quoted as saying that Hendrix "got it right" with Watchtower, and most of his own versions over the years that have made their way into his concerts are closer to Hendrix' versions than his own. But he continues to tinker with it, and the buffet of cover versions on You Tube begins with the variety of Dylan performances. The three I am very enamored of are the House of Blues performance from 1996, the live "rare" performance put up by someone named Elston Gunn, and the joint performance with Bruce Springsteen. The Gunn video, in particular, really shows off Dylan's creativity at reworking it, the performance is driven by a drumbeat so heavy that it sounds like a relic of the Studio 54 era. But it works.
Neil Young has made the song a staple of live performances of his own for years, and there are at least four out there are completely golden. No one but no one enjoys playing guitar like Neil Young, and he lets it fly on this song without exception. Many of the usual suspects have covers on You Tube, and there are some that you wouldn't expect. Dave Matthews Band has one, and while I really don't like it, it is a different take and if you are a DMB, it might work for you. And the most surprising great cover out there is John flipping Mayer, of all people. Mayer's cover version is essentially a cover of Hendrix' version, and Mayer is good enough with a guitar that he pulls it off, repeatedly. Simply amazing for someone whose original work I really don't care for.
4) Project Keep Busy continues this weekend. I am taking my neighbor to work in a few minutes, and meeting with a sponsee at 10, going to see my brother and going to a celebration. Tomorrow I having breakfast with Right Said Fred, a good friend I haven't sat down with in a long time, and going to a different type of celebration tomorrow night. I have to shop, I have to clean, I have yardwork to do if the weather permits, and before you know it, it will be Sunday and I will be complaining about going to work again  after a too-short weekend. But it beats sitting around thinking too much, and it beats a whole other bunch of alternatives I can think of.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The Elephant In The Room

I've become a lot more responsible in recent years about what I write about. And even though I do write about my personal life in this space more often than many are comfortable with, I have been really striving to keep what I disclose about me and my feelings and effects on me. I have become acutely aware that 1) my audience is bigger than I want to believe it is, and 2) there is another person involved, and what I write and say may have a substantial effect on the course of her life, too. So as matters have fallen apart in the last six weeks or so, I've tried to stay as positive as I can about the entire situation, and have stayed away from details, especially if they might be perceived as damning or finger-pointing. I have not met this lofty standard a hundred percent of the time, but I have tried to, and for the most part succeeded.
And it has become clear in the last week or two that much, much more is in play than the state of my household or my heart. It is literally a matter of life and death, a struggle that has almost been lost twice in recent weeks. It is a battle that ultimately I am irrelevant to--I cannot restore anyone to sanity, and the fight ahead is not so much to keep it down as it is to find something that will fill a soul that is mostly empty (and what is there is filled with pain and values that are not healthy). I have had to let go, and I have realized that my part in this was not what I believed what it was. I have accepted that, and I have also moved from being upset and angry over specific details to the ability to pray for and be genuinely concerned for the long-term well-being for someone who is, whatever the outside may look like, a lost soul.
You would have to be a real dick to want to add to the misery of a lost soul because you didn't like how your part of the story ended. I'm not a dick.
She is in a safe place now, and still at liberty, and hopefully the process of healing and recovery is beginning. The last thing I said to her, right before she entered, was that after being spared jail and having survived several brushes with death in the last couple of years, I hoped that she was coming to believe that God, whom she has a lot trouble believing in, has other plans for her than an early death, and that perhaps she would be able to stop what she's doing--all of it, not just the using--and find a way closer to what He has in mind. And I meant that. It's not going to involve me; in fact, my personal belief is that she would have a better chance of the seed of recovery taking root if she goes to a rehab center away from here, and in any event, it isn't like we're even really talking. I've maintained a distance for my own sanity and well-being, and I have closed a door that was open for three years to get healthy for myself.
And it is closed. I am not going to tell you that I never think about her, or what has happened, but I can tell you that it is in the past as surely as my high school graduation. And with every passing day, especially when there is no way that she and what she is doing can force itself back into my consciousness, it gets a little easier to completely accept, to move further in my own journey, and to start to see the world through different lenses than I have been wearing for years. And honestly, I like the view, and I'm, if not deliriously happy, at least pleasant most of the time, and able to focus on and take care everything going on in a busy life without looking back. That is a gift I am grateful for, and one that I am taking more and more to heart every day.

Monday, May 1, 2017

Jails, Institutions, Death

"We are people in the grip of a continuing and progressive illness whose ends are always the same: jails, institutions, and death."
We lost one to death over the weekend. She was a woman who had been here for many years before moving to Rochester, seemingly finding recovery at times, at other times not. I knew her as an addict, and then I got to know her better as the perplexed mother of a youth that crossed my path professionally. She spoke often of a deep faith in Jesus as her Lord and savior, and I hope for her sake, wherever her soul may be, she is finding solace and comfort in that faith now.
There was another that nearly lost their life last night, and will likely be experiencing jails again before the day is out. I cannot write dispassionately about this at this time. I found out just how deep the disease of addiction in some people can go. I am not only coming to terms with the near-loss, but the reality of just what was over the last couple of years versus what I wished it was. I am not going to tell you that I feel nothing. I need to to really get with my own Higher Power today and try to find compassion for someone I'm not really feeling much of it for at the moment.

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Enjoying What It Is

I had a pretty good weekend. I got a lot done, did a few things I wanted to do, spent some time with people I like and people I want to get know better, and went to a few softball games of Sabrina's. And I'm going to need all of this accumulated pleasantness going forward, because this is the way you work through the downs, the feelings that you get at times when you think your life stinks and/or you don't get what you want, or you dwell on how shabby you've been treated by other people or by your job or strangers.
Distraction is a well-known parenting technique with babies and toddlers, and I have found that the same principle still works on adults. When there are major disruptions in your life, when you are going through emotional changes and emotionally-charged situations, it is necessary to do two things: maintain routines as much as possible, and find ways to stay busy. And this week was like a buffet of ways to do that:
1) I made every meeting I normally make, and went to two I haven't been going to recently, either. One still sucks; one ended up being very good.
2) I met with my sponsor and the sponsee I've been regularly meeting with, and resumed with my long-term sponsee and made a commitment to communicate daily and meet regularly.
3) I made almost all of Sabrina's games, at least in part.
4) I tried to visit with my brother as much as I could.
5) I've connected with a few people I knew but really didn't know this week, and found them worthy of spending more time around. I really enjoyed going out to the Chinese buffet with someone yesterday afternoon, instead of Taco Bell or McDonald's or some hideously overpriced sit-down restaurant. One of the men in the rooms that I've known for a long time but kind of just tolerated, I went to his house yesterday, and was surprised by how different he is there. The woman that's lived around the corner from me for a year continues to be a revelation. I'm talking to more people than ever on social media, trying to expand my horizons and my circle. And it's working.
6) I worked hard at my job to get my billable hours in. And don't intend to take any more personal time or wayward-woman time off for some time. My budget is busted; there's no more leeway (although in a development that can only be described as God-sent karma, I am getting MOTY's tax return because of back child support. It's not here yet, but it's coming).
7) Even stuff that didn't happen, I was willing to do. Someone offered to take me fishing yesterday, someone with (ahem) manageability and reliability issues, and it didn't happen. But I was willing to try it.
8) Today, we are going to try to start off with our "Sober Softball" games. I doubt we'll get a huge turnout, but build it and they will come. And my waistline can use all the exercise it can get.
9) I'm making a commitment to start walking the dog further again. He's getting fat and bored, too.
10) The Rangers are still playing, and I watch as much of their games as I can. Although yesterday was ulcer-inducing, and the season may only last two more games.
But this is the way of depression-induced obsessions. And the planting of seeds that might bear good fruit in the future. I'm not chasing the next relationship, and I'm not pining for the last lost one. But I'm not in a monastery, either, and I am finding that enjoying someone's company for an hour or three at a time is enough to be happy right now. I don't need massive commitments of time and emotion right now.
There are also unpleasant aspects of keeping busy--and one of them is working on Sundays. But it's time to get ready.