Should or shouldn’t?

Some visual displays of how well I am handling the quarter at this point:

lucy

honeyboo

bad hula

So there is that.

I haven’t talked about it much, but I am the president of the Nico’s school’s parent group.  To be fair, I thought it was a bad idea when I said I would do it.  I think most people who know me would have been like, “Yeah, you shouldn’t do that.”  But here we are.

It is a bad idea mostly because I am just too busy to do it right.  These are the things I need to remember: just because I CAN do something doesn’t mean I HAVE the time to do it right.  These are very important distinctions.  Like today, right now, I just realized that I had planned to go to wordpress to update the website for the parent group.  And I was distracted by my blog.  And decided to write a blog post about how busy and distracted I am.  So, there is that.

Before the next school board meeting, I have to write 5 proposals for fundraisers for the fall semester, so that they can be approved by the school board.  Some of these are for fundraisers that are already underway. A couple are pretty cool though, so that is alright, I guess.  I just don’t want to be the reason why we aren’t successful at raising teh monies this year.

 

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Books I Read in 2018

This year, I did the GoodReads Reading Challenge, setting out to read 25 books. In total, I finished 50 books. Some were really exceptional. Some, I was annoyed at having wasted time on them. The ones below that have a star next to them are some of my favorites.

Endurance*
The 2017 O. Henry Prize for Short Fiction
Lincoln in the Bardo
You Will Not Have My Hate
The Remains of the Day
Annihilation (Part of Southern Reach Trilogy)
Authority (Part of Southern Reach Trilogy)
Acceptance (Part of the Southern Reach Trilogy)
Born to Run*
Ready Player One
The Sun and Her Flowers
Decluttering Your Life at the Speed of of Life
Red Sparrow
438 Days: An Extraordinary True Story of Survival at Sea
Fahrenheit 451
Deep Work*
The Productivity Project
The Game from Where I Stand
A Brief History of Seven Killings
Quidditch Through the Ages
Dietland
Walking the Americas
Caroline: Little House, Revisited
Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the the Culinary Underbelly*
Crazy Rich Asians
Everything is Awful: And Other Observations
Anne of Green Gables
Astrophysics for People in a Hurry
Teammate: My Journey In Baseball and a World Series for the Ages
Theft by Finding: Diaries 1977-2002
Gone Till November: A Journal of Riker’s Island
Calypso*
The White Tiger
Where Did You Go Bernadette?
The Last Black Unicorn
We Were Eight Years in Power*
Guts and Glory: World War II
Strangers in their Own Land*
Holidays on Ice
Fear: Inside the Trump White House
Little Fires Everywhere
The After Party
The Wife
AntiCancer: A New Way of Life
The Hate U Give
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do
Escape from Camp 14*
The American Plate: A Culinary History in 100 Bites
In Extremis: The Life and Death of Marie Colvin*
The Happiness Project

Interestingly, about 10% of the authors I read were Asian and 14% were black; which left about 76% white. I tended to read overwhelmingly the works by male authors (87%). About 24% of the books I read this year were by authors who were not US based (mainly coming from the UK and Canada). I read more non-fiction this year than fiction (54% versus 46%).

I would like to try to do a better job this year of reading more diverse authors. It is just that when my holds at the library come up, they come up. So, a book I might have been planning to read gets pushed back because of what is being pushed to my Libby app (the app for content with the Chicago Public Library).

Some books that I am planning to experience this year:
We Should All Be Feminists (Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie)- I love her voice and really want to listen to this.
Wolf Hall (Hillary Mantel)- This is part of that great idea I had to read all the Man Booker books. Its been VERY slow so far.
Fly Girls: How Five Daring Women Defied All Odds and Made Aviation History (Keith O’Brien)- About women pilots? Yes, sign me up.
The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing’s Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living (Scott and Helen Nearing) My brother recommended.

Christmas Blah

I am having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit this year.  I don’t know what this funk is, but its there.  I can’t explain it.  It isn’t exactly tiredness or not liking Christmas- I mean, it is culmination of my favorite time of year Thanksgiving-Christmas.  

Maybe its because it just feels like a tough one.  I mean, don’t get me wrong, I am going to love being off of work.  And just for good measure, I am even taking Thursday off (work is closed starting Friday).  And I even have a couple of craft projects planned (bath bombs!) And I bought this cool cookie thing, where you use successively larger stars to cut out cookies and then you decorate and stack them on top of each other.  Like, honestly, if I don’t see a similar bake on GBBO next season, I will be having a word with Paul and Prue.  Its genius.  

Like, even I could be star baker with such a setup.  

So it is definitely not a matter of being ready for a break.  I am ready.  

But also, I think I am not ready for THIS Christmas.   

Its just that 2018 was just so shitty, I am also ready for it to be 2019.  

The 2018 Alumni Game

These girls made up three fourths of the North High defense in 1997-1998, when I played in goal.  I transferred to North for my senior year, which was probably a strange move.  But it absolutely ended up being the right call.  Sometimes I wonder about how good I was.  I couldn’t make varsity at Ft. Myers, but moved to North and helped them win districts that year.  I was recruited to play in college, but it was the late 90s, and a lot of girls who weren’t college level played college ball.  

But then I remember that 7 years after I graduated, my college won the first of four NAIA national championships, so maybe I could play.  

These girls could play though.  They were also three fourths of some seriously fast track relay teams.  4X100 fast.  Do you know how fast that is?  Let’s just say that if your plan was for a quick counters against us, that was always a doomed plan.  Because it is one thing to have one defender on your back, chasing you into the goal area to face a goalkeeper that would take the ball, hoping to get a little piece of you.  But three?  Good luck keeping the ball, brah.  

This year’s North High Alumni Game was a success! No one died! No one was “seriously” hurt (if you don’t count the girl who was accidentally tackled on the other team).  I say accidentally, because I really don’t think the guy who tackled her even saw her… but she hit the ground hard and didn’t play anymore.  

For me, it was kind of subdued.  I wasn’t planning to play in it. When I flew down, I did so two weeks before the game, and I was focused on my mom being in the hospital.  Also, you know how I feel about giving Spirit Airlines one additional dollar beyond my fare, so I was trying to put two weeks worth of clothes into a backpack.  So, I didn’t bring gloves or my turfs.  I actually played in goal in yoga pants and running shoes.  I did take a ball off my face early (as one does when one doesn’t have gloves).  But it was all good.  

It was nice catching up with people from my past.  I was marveling with my mom over how some people can stay in a circle of friends for decades.  I feel it acutely when I am around my North High friends.  Maybe I would feel differently if I saw my Ft. Myers High friends more… but therein lines a major difference.  My favorite people from Ft. Myers High are scattered all around the country, California, Virginia, Boston, etc.  My favorite North High people are still mostly in Ft. Myers.  Strangely, my sister, brother, and I have all moved away… so that is different.  

Maybe I am just incredibly shallow.  Maybe I am just not capable of sustaining these kinds of friendships for decades and over distance.  I wondered if gender had something to do with it.  Like, maybe guys don’t change as much after high school as girls do.  Maybe the act of altering one’s appearance every day of out life makes girls more susceptible to change- to fit in, to be liked, to manage the expectations and emotions of people around us.  

Or maybe it is all just in my head.  

It could be that. 

Rage and Grief, Grief and Rage

My mom was diagnosed with Stage IV metastatic breast cancer last week.

It’s hard to think about right now. I spend my time cycling between grief and rage, rage and grief, grief and rage. But it’s hard to think about anything else. I can’t concentrate on anything for longer than a few minutes. I welcome distraction, but I don’t want distraction. I want to feel something else but I don’t want to feel anything else.

I think my distress is related to the fact that this puts a clock on my mom’s time here.  Granted, it is unknown at this point how much time is on the clock.  And if we were being real, I would have to acknowledge that her having breast cancer maybe doesn’t change much.  We’re all dying, really, moving one step at a time to a place where each of us will cease to exist.  But, if I am not being philosophical about it, I’d have to recognize the reality of her situation: that whether it is 3 months or 15 years, the rest of her time here will be effected by cancer.

The thing is, most of us will experience the death of a parent. Sometimes it happens when we’re young, just figuring out who we are and our place in the world. Ideally it happens when our parents are quite old, peacefully in their sleep. As we grow up, I think our parents become a beacon- the signal that comes to us across miles and states and countries, reminding us that we’re someone’s child, we were someone’s baby, worthy of shelter, care, sacrifice, and love. They are the first people to love us wholly and unconditionally.

I used to think that the people I’ve known who lost a parent when they were relatively young always seemed a little sad. Scarred a bit by their loss, as if they’d been roughed up by life. But at the age of 39, I am not really all that young, even if I mostly just feel like a kid most of the time, looking around for an adultier adult.

Pic from http://mentalfloss.com/article/59817/15-post-harry-potter-revelations-pottermore

My mom is fighting it now, which is good. But it’s not a fight I would wish on anyone, let alone my mom. She is in the hospital now and while its good, its still the hospital.  She is such a private person, modest, she is uncomfortable with attention from her care team.  This is such an awkward thing for her.  She is always prepared to put others at ease- she asks the nurses and the doctors how they are doing, about their lives, their interests, etc.  Listening to their answers is annoying.  They are being polite- answering her questions.  Because she has always been the best listener I know, she asks followup questions.  The end result is that we learned so much about their past traumas, their lives, their histories.

But, it’s a defense mechanism.  By asking people about their lives, she doesn’t have to reveal her past trauma, her life, her history.

As these people prattle on about their lives, I am tempted to scream: NO ONE CARES.  NO ONE IN THIS ROOM RIGHT NOW GIVES A FLYING FUCK ABOUT YOUR FUCKING LIFE.  FUCK YOUR STUPID FUCKING LIFE.

So much of my identity was built on her perception of me. She thought I was tough and strong and brave, so I became these things, eschewing other identities.

And so the night time drives between the hospital and the AirBNB is spent ugly crying and swallowing the urge to howl.  The woman who made me who I am is in a dog fight for her life. Yet the world goes on around us, Her: battling cancer, Me: trying to be strong and tough and brave and trying not to lose my shit.

When I’m standing in line at Panera, it takes everything not to shout, “HEY! MY MOM HAS CANCER.  MOVE THIS A-FUCKING-LONG, NO ONE GIVES A SHIT ABOUT YOUR FUCKING LIFE.” It’s snowbird season in Florida, which means half the people you encounter in Publix are on vacation, completely, totally, absolutely oblivious to the people around them.  I am standing there, waiting to place an order for a sub which is going to be my dinner and breakfast.  It will be eaten hunched over my lap in her hospital room.  And some retiree lady is flirting the retiree sub guy. All I want is to grab this sandwich so that I can get back to the hospital and get in the door before visitor hours are over (when they lock the outer door).  He’s giving her turn-by-turn directions to some place like a GOOGLE FUCKING MAPS DOES NOT EXIST.

When it is my turn, I swallow the rage and graciously smile at the sub guy to place my order.

My mother has cancer.  That is her life now and the world moves on around me.

Powerstrikers: Disassemble!

On Oct. 28, we had our last game of the season, which was a blast. The boys played really well- tying 3-3 (and we led by two at one point).

The season was hard for reasons we weren’t expecting. If you know me I real life, you know I have opinions about The Youth Soccer Industrial Complex in the US. You would not be surprised to know that I have strong opinions about the league and the division we played in.

We won our first game of the season and then lost 7 more. Now, I don’t care about the win-loss record; because I know that sometimes, you learn more from a 2-1 loss than a 10-0 win. Buuuuuut, we lost most of our games by a lot more (13-0, 8-0, etc). Which is frustrating.

Based on what Dave describes in the seeding meeting, apparently it’s kind of a crap shoot. Theoretically, it’s a league where teams that win lower divisions are supposed to be promoted. But, coaches are largely able to say what division they are going to be in. A team can win the 3rd division and say they don’t want to be promoted because they are “losing their gk and 3 other players”.

Which I think is horseshit.

I said what I said.

The problem with allowing coaches to decide what is best for them (not the league), you end up with teams that should probably be in 2nd or 3rd division, killing teams in the 4th division. This season we had 4 teams who were competitive with each other and a 4 teams straight murdering, week in and week out.

I don’t really understand the point of playing a division down- I mean, I’m not sure what a team gets out if blowing out opponents week after week. One one hand, if you’re a paid coach who has to produce- I guess it’s better FOR YOU to sand bag your team. But on the other- this might be part of the problem of why the US sucks at developing a legit soccer culture.

In any case, I felt bad for the boys. It’s hard to get stomped like that- week in and week out. I worry about some of our better players deciding they want to go to a different club or a different sport. We have the spring season, and Dave thinks it would be better for us to play in the 5th division. It’s annoying, because the bottom of our division is what I think we should be playing. But if teams are going to sand bag and play down, then I think it would be better for ya to move down and at lest have more competitive games.

American youth soccer, y’all.

The Ocean to Lake Trail

In  Florida, there is a network/system of trails that make up the “Florida Trail”.  It runs  nearly the length of the state and is pretty sweet.  There is a spur off of it called the Ocean to Lake Trail, and runs  from the Lake Okeechobee to the Atlantic (near Hobe Sound).

Here is the thing: I am trying to decide if I:

-want to be a hiker/camper type person.

-want to be ABLE to be a hiker/camper type person.

-want to be a person who likes hiking anc camping.

The way I see it, each of these is a different proposition.  I have been proceeding as if I want to be a hiker/camper type person, with very little evidence from my life that this is something that I would enjoy.  If we are being quite honest, I do like to sit on my ass quite a lot.  But, I also like being alone a lot, able to listen to my music and audiobooks and such.  And I also like to eat garbage.  Honestly- convenience store snacks are always my favorite types of snacks, but they are trash.

So, for me, it is hard to know if I really like the proposition of camping or if I like the IDEA of camping.  I have been proceeding, to date, as if I am a person who will like camping.  I have begun acquiring quite the collection of miscelanea that is necessary for camping (or for doomsday prep- considering your perspective).  I have two different backpacks, a quilt, stove, cook kit, tent (2 person ultra light and 3 person basic tent).  I have a hammock and a tarp.  The only real things I need are a sleeping pad and water filter and would feel comfortable going camping.

This said, I think I am ready to try my first solo hiking/camping trip.  We are going to be in South Florida at Christmas time, so I am thinking about taking a couple of days while we are there to hike part of the Ocean to Lake Trail.  While it is only 63 miles, I doubt I could do the full thing- I can’t imagine I would be able to devote a lot of time to “training”.  Also, I have no idea how well I’d like it, but I am thinking about trying to do half of it.  Basically, I would have Dave and Nico drop me off at the halfway point and hike to the Ocean, which would require a 2-3 nights of camping. Basically, I would meet them at the beach…

The trail itself varies- from prairie to savanna to sand dunes.  In some years, a bunch of it is under water, although reports right now indicate that it is not terribly wet (right now).  There is some wild life (read: gators), but I grew up in the south Florida swamps, so really, gators probably ought to be afraid of me.

Some of the walk is on boardwalks, some on roads, some on trails.  Here is a cool video that someone shot a couple of years ago:

 

I’ve never camped alone- but I think I would like it.   So, we will see.