Coffee, Call, Write.
Some things just make sense. Others need more thinking through. Yesterday I was in a make sense situation that has developed into a bit of a think through. Here’s the situation:
I’ve been having a lot of back pain. This is not to the level it was when I threw out my back a few years ago, but the pain has been intense off and on for weeks. At the worst of it there were simple movements–twists–I just could not do without collapsing. Make no mistake, in this situation the smart move is to go to a doctor. I did not do the smart thing. Instead I walked around like this until the pain subsided. Mostly subsided.
My partner is a relentless and wonderful human being who cares about my health a great deal. I suppose she wants me around a bit longer or at least for the time I’m here to be as pain free as possible. She convinced me to go to a physical therapist. I did. Eventually. What he told me was riddled with surprises. I knew that my core was weak. My expanding girth is surely proof of such. I did not know about the uneven muscle weakness in my legs and glutes. I really did not know that my horrible back pain was actually a muscle pain unrelated to the previous back stuff I’d dealt with. So, I was enlightened by the experience.
The bill was an enlightening experience all by itself, which brings us to the thinking through. Now that I know exactly where the issues are, should I pay the $75 a week to work with the trainer or should I keep my finances stable and find ways to stretch and strengthen with the help of books and friends (and books are my friends too)? I believe I should not go back. The cost of this stuff is prohibitive. While it is true that my life is worth a certain cost, I don’t think not returning risks my life. I think I’ll focus on staying put and saving my cash.
I have three hungry boys after all.
Following week one of youth football two things are clear. To begin, I need to find a lot more balance in my life.
I woke up at 3 in the morning on a Saturday to get ready for youth football. I wasn’t excited–I was overwhelmed. I was worried about all of the little things I needed to get right and ready in preparation for the game and I missed a few things still. As a result of all this I spent the day strung out–a condition that worsened as we went from a loss to a second game blowout (proof that good players and coaching yield success) to a 3rd game loss (proof that size matters and we need to learn how to compensate for what we do not have). I was strung out and sad and missing my partner. What sucked even more is that instead of calling her when I had a moment, I texted and missed a really valuable opportunity to connect.
I have to learn to pick my spots. I have to learn to step away and do what matters. This is a very tough lesson because it blows contradictory to the winds of what everyone around me in these situations is demanding. I need to fight harder against the gale and hold on dearly to what matters most.
In game terms I probably needed another week of game prep personally. In addition I need to create more opportunities to get the ball to receivers in space and build those opportunities around a lot of this very useful misdirection. I wasted my 4 backs in the I formation, meaning week 2 needs to see me moving the ball around in a lot of screens and quick passes which will eventually lead to some shots downfield once my QB is ready to do so. Here’s the new plan for me: compartmentalization. I shied away from that, mostly because it felt like such things were fueling relationship problems. I need to recognize that while this is real it is more how I carry it out that causes problems.
I woke up at three in the morning–the witching hour for many–and found myself applying helmet decals and trying to be ready for a week one game I was absolutely not ready for. By not ready I mean I didn’t have any real sense of who my opponent was (true again next week) and who my team was going to be. I have a better sense of the latter now, because we lost a game that should’ve been a straight up blowout.
We played like we were scared and didn’t know what we were doing and in the later minutes forgot how to act. The game was 7-6 going into the 4th and we lost 21 six on three big plays. It wasn’t like we couldn’t win. We could. Even down our star RB we could’ve won. I think we should have.
I think I worked too hard and not at all hard enough. In other words I worked on the wrong stuff and now that I know what needs to be done, I can do that as well. It is a lot to explain and frankly another post entirely. For now…
- I continue to believe the universe is putting me in situations just to see what I’ll do. In layman’s terms, the universe is fucking with me.
I still have those days where I wonder why I do what I do.
Yesterday was such a day. I spent the majority of my time dealing with one situation after another and generally letting reality worm its way under my skin. I did not ever get angry. It was not that kind of day. I did get tired–dragged down by all that is too real and too terribly wrong.
My favorite kid on the fb team was suspended from school and thus cannot play in our opening tilt. This is a serious problem because he is key to the offensive and defensive engines. He’s one of those kids who doesn’t have a backup.
There’s more. I could talk about the way my ex got my kids all riled up over something that is out of their and my control. I could talk about the students who screwed up so badly that it set back my opinion of how much my class can achieve this semester. I could talk about my failure to properly prepare for a series of class activities for my collaborative class that is going to force me to scramble today to get things done.
In the end it all comes down to mindset. I’ve been so overextended by the football stuff that it leaves me less prepared for the other stuff in my life–the stuff that is usually handled first. Because football looks like such a hot mess, I am trying to hold that together at the cost of other things. What it all boils down to is losing that balance that allowed me to enjoy so much of what I do.
Now it all feels like a job I don’t want or need.
A few days ago Mexico City held a drill to commemorate the 1985 earthquake that caught the region off guard, killing scores of people. They wanted to remember and they wanted to make sure that this time they were prepared–that after 22 years the city was finally ready.
Just two hours after the drills the earth began to move again. 51 meters below the surface the earth shifted. The result was a 7.1 magnitude disaster. The fallout was far worse. Hundreds have died throughout the region and the damage and losses are still being counted as I write this post. Yet as I write this post I have questions. I question the coincidence of the oddly timed 22 year anniversary. I question the fact that no aftershocks were felt anywhere near the epicenter. I question that this 7.1, which follows an 8.1 that hit earlier in the month is not being seen as a trend. The area of the earth in question is known as the Cocos plate and is undergoing subduction to the North American plate. This movement, though slow, is so violent that it triggered a volcano as a result of this past earthquake.
Yet nobody is interested in having that conversation.
Similarly, little is being said about the quake in Westwood, California that resembled an aftershock to the Mexican quake in every way but location. Given this movement and the unusually strong storm season, it stands to reason that the earth is going through some sort of upheaval right now. It could be that there are seaquakes happening as well, triggering additional storms and threatening our extremely fragile cities. Of course, nobody wants to have that discussion unless its happening to characters on the big screen.
Because things like that never happen in real life, right?
- I started here today, because I don’t have anything to say. This isn’t a pregnant pause before profundity strikes or even the flip, an emptiness of thought. I don’t exactly know how to put my thoughts together this morning.
- The thoughts I do have are less profound than conspiratorial.
- I remain completely in love and completely aware that while I will keep the love, the life that should blossom isn’t.
- I think I know what I ought to write about now. As above it is about things that should be simple but aren’t.
I wish I could be a fly on the wall. I wish I could’ve been a fly on the wall when the Giants GM watched his O-line get used by the Lions in the home opener and watched Eli look absolutely hapless in trying to locate receivers. I would’ve said, “Damn, I should’ve picked up some more folks in free agency.” Since Madden imitates life, I’m going to do that on my own. I’m going to take over that franchise, make immediate changes and roll to the SuperBowl.
Back in reality we are looking down the barrel of 0-3. This is already the worst start in the 92 year history of the franchise and it shows no signs of stopping. Odell was a decoy at only “80%” of his true power. Marshall is a decoy, which appears to be his actual role. He earned another trio of targets and caught one for posterity. He dropped one in typical Marshall fashion. Seriously, when he’s on he is fire and when he is off, he is trash. He’s been off all season and I feel that can be attributed to a lack of targets. He needs work to get rolling. Still, at his declined speed, he needs time to get open and Eli has none of that. Eli also looks like a scared rabbit–albeit one with a no legs or will to run.
The Giants suck right now. There is no O-line, no run game, and the defense is getting hurt because they’ve spent more time on the field than any other squad in the NFL. The Giants offense has barely cleared 200 yards combined in the two weeks of play. Three and out sounds like their motto.
In short, I’m pissed and I want a refund on my DirecTV package. I’ll watch. I’ll moan. I won’t expect more that 9 wins in the regular season. If that’s enough to scrape into the playoffs, we’ll win the Super Bowl. Because that’s how Giants roll.
- I’ve been experiencing some very strange time phenomena. Yesterday I listened to a full minute of my audiobook while driving down a stretch of road and then, I kid you not, I did it again. Same stretch of road, same dialogue. Afterwards the book intoned, “Time gets strange when you’re near a thinny.” and I became convinced the universe was screwing with me. Then today I watched my son hit the timer on the microwave and turn to me and say, “I put it in for 30 seconds. Is that too long?” I responded that it was not, and as soon as I said that the timer went off. 30 seconds. In ten. Maybe I’m going crazy. Maybe I’m just living near a thinny that is starting to awaken. Stay tuned.
Late yesterday afternoon I resolved to live life as fully as possible. This resolution came in the midsts of a very difficult transition and, at the time, seemed rash. When I woke up this morning I recognized that it was not rash at all. In truth it was liberating. Part of it was watching the twenty and thirty somethings I hang out with live these extraordinary lives. Part of it happened later. That part of it was a much simpler recognition that the life I’d been hoping to create further down the road was not ever going to happen. My first reaction to that bit of news was an utter surrender. Part of me still lives in that state and perhaps always will. But surrender is a type of freedom too.
It left me with a choice. I could keep on as I have been doing or I can accept the reality I face for what it is and learn to stop wanting what isn’t ever going to happen for me. I’ve long claimed that life without hope is a dark thing, and I still believe that. Yet in that darkness there can be possibility and growth. I asked myself, ‘what if you only had one year to live?’ I knew instantly I would not spend that year sad and broken, but would milk every possibility out of life–do the things I have always wanted to. I would care more about my joy because I knew I only had a little while to use it.
So that’s what I resolved to do. We don’t last forever. In the limited time we have we must be true to ourselves–to our wants and our needs. We must embrace what is possible, what is folly, and what has been lost. We cannot dwell on such things, but reality allows us a window and once we see that for what it is, living becomes much easier.
Sometimes I write for ten minutes and the word flow out of my consciousness like water from a ledge. Other times there is no water; nothing to come forth. I started this blog three times before this and deleted everything. That happens sometimes too. But I came back. I didn’t quit. I’m here and I’m typing and the words, though weak and meaningless at first, are coming.
Writing has never betrayed me, though I have failed it time and again. I have often not afforded it the attention it deserves. I have often not loved it as I should. Writing has and always will be there. I can come home to writing and I will again. Perhaps not now or even ten years from now, but I know that I will always have stories buried inside of me waiting to emerge.
When it comes to football, I want to be a mad scientist. That might also be the problem. A key tenet of youth sports–of life in general, perhaps–is Keep it Simple, Stupid. I have never done that in life, and trying to do that in 12u football is breaking me. Honestly, I probably should coach a younger team where I am not expecting as much from my players. Not only do I want these kids to execute the plays, but I want them to understand the sequencing and I want a QB who knows how to make audible calls in the huddle. Barring that, I have a lot of work to do in order to streamline my offense.
At least I figured out a play call system that is working.
Two, actually. I’ve been running plays in and out of the huddle with my wingback, because they are largely interchangeable. This is a good look, because it keeps teams guessing as to which back is the real breakout back. I’m not even sure yet, but I know that each of the wings possess speed, but one is a better between the tackles runner and the other has a bigger arm. Each play I switch them out to get the new play call in. Sometimes I’ll keep them both and pull the QB to go into a pure wildcat package. This, however, is not the complexity that concerns me.
All my plays stem off the idea of jet sweep. Simply put that means if you can beat the B-gap, you can likely disrupt what I am trying to do. I’ve developed some on the fly calls to challenge that–particularly running opposite the sweep with the FB and RB. It works to confuse a defense that starts creeping heavily to one side or the other, but the execution has to be money and it has not been thus far. Part of that is not having a fullback I can completely rely on. As with all things it comes down to personnel and practice.
- Rough night in many ways. Still, I’m doing my best to be that rock.
On any given day I have no less than 15 windows(tabs) open in my browser. That’s just one browser. I usually have a second browser open full of the carryover stuff from the previous day. That’s 30+ windows of media content open at any time from a kid who grew up rocking a Commodore 64. That is to say that the computer age has seriously enabled my ADD. Hell, it probably created it.
The inability to stay focused and locked in on a single task is a real problem for me. Case and point: I haven’t worked on my novel in nearly a week. That’s my passion project. I haven’t played any Madden and only have watched a smattering of football here and there. Yes, this is sounding more like depression than distraction, but the truth of it is I find my self deep down the rabbit hole on most occasions. ‘Checking shit out’ if you will.
The real issue is how much I expose myself to. I teach a novel writing class in which students dream up very cool things. They also expect me to have a basic understanding of the media that influenced them. So I look it up. Rabbit holes.
Did you know that Haruki Murakami ran a Jazz bar in Tokyo? That’s the kind of stuff I’m talking about. All of this inspires my students, but they aren’t the only reason I’m checking stuff out. I too seek inspiration–the logs to further my fire.
- First scrimmage for my new team and my primary concern is that I don’t have the right colors to wear. First world problems.
- Loving is easy. Letting go… not so much. Still, people have to do what they must and you have to trust in what you know to be Ka.