Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Don't be happy, just worry

Do you know what it's like to have no control over a relationship? You're anxious and sick to your stomach all the time. And even when you have a good day, you worry about what might go wrong the next time. Do you know what that's like?

Well, I sure do. I saw this quote online last week and found it really appropriate for my situation:

"What happens to you when you're like that is that you don't enjoy what you accomplish because you live in a constant state of anxiety with small moments of relief. And that's something that just doesn't change."

The quote is from one, Nicholas Lou Saban, relatively unknown in relationship guru circles but somewhat of an expert on the 3-4 defense and pattern-matching pass defense. Upon reading it, I immediately copied and pasted it in an email to Axl with the subject line "THIS is exactly how I feel...EVERY GAME!" I'm referring, of course, to my relationship with Alabama football.

"A constant state of anxiety with small moments of relief." Nothing could sum up my experience of watching a Bama game better than those ten words. I basically said as much last year, when I wrote that watching a game was "95% anxiety, 5% elation and relief." In hindsight, I may have overestimated the elation and relief percentage.

Saturday's game was an exercise in frustration. We couldn't score a touchdown. By the 4th quarter, I had pretty much stopped cheering. Everyone around me was cheering, but there I stood with arms folded, completely sick about how we had played on offense. I even asked my sister at one point in the 4th quarter if she was ready to leave because, quote, "I'm tired of watching this. This is pitiful." And this was when we were WINNING 12 to 3!

I also invoked a new rule mid-game Saturday, telling my sister I was no longer cheering for field goals. I want touchdowns! Then I forgot and cheered when we hit a 50-yarder in the 4th quarter.

"I thought you weren't gonna cheer for field goals," she asked, ever the observant one. And that is when I, ever the master of making up the rules as I go, wrote and passed the first amendment to the Field Goal Act of 2009.
"Oh... alright, I'm only cheering if they're fifty-plus yards or game-winners."

Why does it always have to be like this for me? Can't I just be happy that we scored at all, that we're ahead in the game? Apparently not. If we're not looking particularly good doing it, then I'm griping about the problems we're having and "well we might beat Tennessee, but if we play like this we'll never beat LSU."

But it's the coach's job to worry, not mine. I'm a fan. I should be enjoying this. So why do I continue to go through the same thing, every game, every season, every year of my life?

Things had been on the verge of turning disastrous Saturday night. Leading 12-10 with seconds to play, our opponents lined up to attempt what would have been the game-winning field goal. Then, as my mother would say (and probably was saying) the Bear looked down on us. Our defense blocked the field goal as time expired and sent everyone in crimson home happy.

Well, maybe not everyone.

All I want is complete and total domination for four quarters and for the other team not to score. Is that too much to ask?

I suppose maybe there's a 12-step program for people like me. The problem is I really have no desire to get better. I wouldn't know how to act without this thing to care about and pour every ounce of my emotion into. Sure it might be unhealthy, but I need this! And let's face it, with my deep-seated mommy issues this is more than likely the only kind of relationship I will ever know.

"And it makes me think there must be something wrong with me. Out of all the hours, thinking somehow I've lost my mind. I'm not crazy, I'm just a little unwell..."

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Life and the lack thereof

I set a new personal record last night, by drinking milk four days past the date on the carton. That broke my previous all-time personal best of three days, achieved on numerous occasions, most recently the day before yesterday.

Why did I do this?

Why not? Isn't that what life is about? Setting goals for oneself and having the courage to go after them. Consider me the Michael Phelps of lactose. (But really, I just had some Double Stuff Oreos and didn't feel like getting dressed and going to the store to buy fresh milk at the almost-witching hour of 9 PM.)

In other news, I think my fall social season is winding down at last. I've really been making the toddler birthday party scene this year. In the past couple of months, I have attended no less than three parties for one-year-olds.

At the most recent cake and diaper mixer, I ran into fave cousin, which isn't a huge surprise as it was his daughter who was turning one. Anyway, he asked if I had been working out. I thought he was kidding, so I gave him the you're-kidding-right snicker, but he responded with a no-I'm-serious-you're-huge look, then he mentioned something about my arms looking bigger. This would make a much better story if he was a girl. And also not my cousin.

But that's how things go sometimes. I believe the Beastie Boys may have articulated it best when they said, "Lookin' for a girl, I ran into a guy."

Life hasn't been all fun and LeapFrog games, however. Sometimes there are lulls. Some days I put on my pajama pants as soon as I get home from work with no intention of even so much as opening the front door until the next morning, then I stay up 'til 2:30 AM because TruTV decides to show six Forensics Files in a row and what am I supposed to do, not watch?

Some days life is about as exciting as a scoliosis screening.

And that's OK, because if there is one thing I have learned in all my misadventures, it is that you do not want a scoliosis screening to become exciting.

"The secret of life is gettin' up early. The secret of life is stayin' up late. The secret of life is try not to hurry, but don't wait, don't wait..."

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Ten fingers none the poorer

As Blogtober passes the halfway mark, I've managed to write every day except one. I didn't get home from the Bama game until after 1:30 this morning and was just too worn out to try and write. Maybe I can write an hour or more tomorrow to make up for it. You know, double up on my prescription. That's always worked really well for me with pain medication.

Parking is always an issue at the Bama games. The place we'd parked the past two years was turned into an RV lot a few weeks ago. So at the last game, we paid ten bucks to park over a mile away from the stadium. Thing is, I have a little issue with paying for parking, more specifically, paying to park over a mile away from the event. I adhere to the George Costanza theory, which is loosely translated (or exactly as he said it word-for-word): "It's like going to a prostitute. Why should I pay, when if I apply myself, maybe I could get it for free?"

So through talking to a few people and Google-mapping the area, we found a new place to park yesterday, for free. And mostly legal.

Last night was also the first cold-weather Bama game. The low temperature was in the upper 30's, which was a problem for me because I couldn't remember how 38 degrees feels. It's been so long since last winter, plus how often am I out in the cold for four or five hours? Two, three times a year, max? Thus, I wasn't sure what to wear.

What we need is a program where you enter the expected temperature and wind speed along with how long you're going to be outside, and it would tell you what to wear.

For example, I'd input 38 degrees at 10 mph for 4 hours, and it would spit out: "ear muffs or a toboggan, gloves, wool socks (preferably Argyle), thermal underwear, long pants, and a long-sleeved shirt under either a sweatshirt or a stylish cardigan." (Speaking of, whatever happened to The Cardigans? Love me, love me, saaaay that you love me...)

My device could be called the Outfit Forecaster. Maybe I could somehow combine it with my Outfit Flow Chart of a couple years back. That would seriously cut down on the amount of mental energy I expend each day trying to figure out what to wear. Then I would have more time and energy to spend pondering important issues such as, well, whatever happened to the Cardigans.

In the end, I think the ensemble I chose for the game worked out OK, except that I didn't bring any gloves. Also, the band of my thermal underwear got a little itchy. Sometime during second quarter, one of my fingers started going numb. (This had to do with the gloves, not the underwear.) I looked down and all my other fingers were flesh-colored, but this one was a scary yellowish-white.

I might have had a brief, mostly internal panic attack. I'm too young to have circulation problems! How will I blog?! I showed it to my sister and she said, and I quote, "You're probably gonna get gangrene and your finger will fall off. You should have put plastic bags on your hands. Didn't Dad ever teach you anything?"

Fortunately, I returned home with all my digits. And now I remember quite well how 38 degrees feels. In mid-October, nonetheless.

Welcome to Alabama: The new North Dakota.

"This evening has been, been hoping that you'd drop in, so very nice. I'll hold your hands, they're just like ice..."

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Growing up here

Growing up here wasn't all that exciting. Town closed down on Sunday, except for one of the four drug stores. If you needed to do any other business, you either drove to the city or it just didn't get done until Monday. To this day it's still a dry town and county (meaning you can't buy alcohol there, at least not legally).

There was no mall, no bowling alley, and no movie theater. Well there was, but it had been closed down for years. But we found things to do, we made our own trouble and our own fun. When I was little, the teenagers all cruised the town square on Saturday nights. By the time I was old enough to drive, the Winn-Dixie parking lot was the place to be.

There were five stop lights that I can remember. If you timed it just right, you could miss every one. But the four-way stop sign out at the main highway could get backed up four or five cars deep some Friday nights.

There was a little store where they would pump your gas. You could get a fresh-sliced bologna sandwich, an old bottled Coke and a Sunbeam honey bun. But if you were going, you better get there by sundown, because they closed early just like everything else. Growing up here was inconvenient at times.

Everybody I knew went to church on Sunday morning. We prayed before the high school football games and before we sat down to eat. To a lot of folks today that might seem a little backward. But I didn't think so then, and I don't think so now.

It seemed like the whole town was at the county fair. If you brought your ticket stub from the high school football game on Friday night, you got in free. They had bingo every night of the fair starting at 8. I remember for the first few years, Mom wouldn't let me play. It was too close to gambling, I guess.

Growing up here, you knew all your neighbors. They knew your business and you knew theirs. You knew the cops in town and more importantly, they knew your parents. And if you got in trouble at school, somehow your momma found out about it before you even got home.

I can't remember the first time I had a glass of sweet tea, but I sure remember my first taste of unsweet. I recall countless evenings playing out in the yard or at someone else's house in the neighborhood, and our parents calling us home when it was time eat.

We shot off fireworks in the backyard on the 4th of July, and usually the 2nd and 3rd and 5th, too. Not once did the neighbors ever complain. A lot of times they'd even come out to watch. Everybody handed out candy on Halloween, except for one lady who always handed out fruit.

Growing up here, we never locked our car doors. It's just something you never thought about. I remember my parents did neighborhood watch one summer when I was little. About the most exciting thing that ever happened was somebody's cow getting out, inside the city limits of course.

There were rocking chairs on porches, clothes out on the line, and miles and miles of cotton fields. Every so often you were bound to get behind a tractor going down the road. But not to worry, he'd eventually wave you around when it was clear.

There was a hardware store, a furniture store and two drug stores on the town square, and a barber shop with a barber shop pole. Everybody would throw up a hand when they passed you driving down the street, even when you had no idea who they were. People would bring over fresh vegetables they'd picked from their garden. And the women would cook and take food when someone got bad sick.

I don't live in that town anymore, but I never strayed very far away, either in body or soul. And when I drive by that sleepy little brick house with the blue shutters, gravel driveway, and the back screen door which seemed to squeak louder the later it was, I find myself missing so many things.

I guess growing up here wasn't all that bad.

"Erwin Nichols there with Judge Lee playin' checkers at the gin. When I dream about the Southland this is where it all begins..."

Monday, October 12, 2009

Did someone grant me three wishes that I wasn't aware of?

I don't know if any of you have noticed or not, but lately I have been drifting, aimlessly. I had no center, no direction. Sometimes it felt as if I were merely existing, rather than living. Well, I finally figured out what was missing in my life. A girl? A family? Motivation? Ambition? A social life?

No! Seinfeld!

It was revealed to me a couple of weeks ago when I saw a commercial for the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. And what were they promoting but a Seinfeld reunion!

Of course. How did I not see it before? In the eleven years since the show went off the air, I still haven't moved on. Oh sure, I have a pretty steady thing going with The Office now, but I've never really gotten over my one true love. To this day I still reference Seinfeld every chance I get, to the delight of all, I'm sure. And somewhere in that deepest part of my heart which holds my most secret desires and dreams, I clung to the past, and a tiny shred of hope that someday there would be a reunion.

Now the day I have been waiting for, lo, these many years has arrived. My ship has finally come in.

Of course, Curb Your Enthusiasm comes on HBO, which I don't have, but thankfully you can watch everything online these days. Not that I wouldn't have ordered HBO or found some way to get it illegally. That's not to imply that I'm getting any channels illegally right now, nor have I or would I ever. What I meant to say is that maybe I could get a free trial period of HBO from my cable or satellite provider--whose name happens to be Mason. As in, jar, or Dixon. He can also start your car or get into your house without any keys. And he only accepts cash, or ammunition.

Now if this had been the only piece of good news I received all year, that alone would have been enough to make this one of the best years of my life--right up there with the year I got an Atari, the year I discovered Clorox disinfectant wipes, and the year I stopped peeing the bed. But more good tidings were yet to come.

Days later, General Hospital posted a message on Facebook that Jonathan Jackson would be reprising his role as Lucky Spencer beginning in October.

This had been my dream! For years, I told the Darryls and anyone else who would listen that I wished the original Lucky would come back. (Also, that Frisco and Felicia would come back, and Robert and Anna and the WSB, but let's stick to one dream at a time here.) I could scarcely believe my eyes. I even Google news'd it to make sure it wasn't a hoax. It wasn't. No more weird middle Lucky or lame third Lucky. (Sure, third Lucky has lustrous hair and rugged good looks, but I need more. The character had become about as exciting as an all-day scoliosis screening.) At long last, the original Lucky is returning!

I simply cannot believe my luck. It's as if a genie visited me while I was in a deep sleep one night and granted me three wishes, two of which have already come true. I'm bursting! We're talking Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah's-couch happy. No, happy as a lark. I'm a lark jumping up and down on Oprah's couch.

So let this be a lesson to us all. People may tell you not to cling to the past, but clearly that has been proven wrong. And sure, most hopes and dreams die hard, never having been realized or even chased, but... uh, I need something uplifting here. Hmm..... well, anyway.

As for my third wish? I have considered several obvious possibilities: A Wham! reunion; that Tab would make a comeback; that just once I could play the word QUETZALS in Scrabble covering two triple word scores and get the maximum 347 possible points.

But in the end, I passed them all over. Now I don't want to jinx anything by telling you what I finally decided on, but I will give you a couple of clues.

Clue #1. Two words: Brandon. Walsh.

Clue #2. Blank-0-2-1-0.

Happy sleuthing!

"I'm a genie in a bottle. You gotta rub me the right way. If you wanna be with me, I can make your wish come true..."

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

As autumn stirs

Autumn arrived on a Monday this year, not according to some number on a wall, but just as she always does, with a familiar and unmistakable change in the air. A certain chill which serves notice that while winter may not be imminent, it is also not all that far away.

Autumn is a reminder. First, of autumns gone before. Then, of itself, of all the things that autumn is--windy days, a high school football game, Halloween and Thanksgiving, trees surrendering their leaves in grand displays of oranges, yellows and reds as the Earth slowly falls to sleep.

The autumn wind seems to stir up a rustle of memories. I think of Homecoming dances and driving my Ford Escort to school, rolling yards and backyard football games. I think of camping out, singing every song we could think of, and no one complaining when I broke into my beyond bad falsetto to sing "Sherry, Baby." I think of girls I knew and almost knew. And I think of jumping into big piles of leaves as a kid, and Thanksgivings when everybody I loved was still here.

Every year has one and only one, that first day of chill in the air when summer finally relents, knowing its hottest days have been spent.

There's a comfortableness. And yet something nostalgic. It's nothing you can grasp or hold in your hand. Just something you feel, and know, without being able to explain.

Summer is freedom--sunglasses and a smile. Winter is harsh and lonesome. Spring holds promise of things new and fresh, and the hope of something better.

But autumn?

Autumn remembers.

"The last time I saw her it was turning colder, but that was years ago. Last I heard, she had moved to Boulder. But where she's now I don't know..."

Monday, October 05, 2009

Twenty-seven days hath Blogtober

I've gotta make some changes in my life. A total of four blog entries in September? I'm embarrassed. Coming here after each seven-to-ten-day absence feels like calling to wish your mother a happy birthday a week late. I think it's got to be all or nothing for me. I'm not a person who can be happy doing things halfway. Well, other than relationships.

And so, I hereby do proclaim this the month of Blogtober. What does this mean? It means that I am going to make myself spend at least thirty minutes writing for the next thirty-one days. Except that I'm four days late--that's what she said--so make it the next twenty-seven days.

Will I post everything that I write? No. None of you have done anything terrible enough to me to deserve that. But I do hope this will result in a few more posts this month anyway.

For those who make it to the end of the month, rumor has it there will be a big celebration across the United States as well as the Motherland, where not only will you be able to dress up in costumes but apparently some people will be buying up candy by the bagfuls and just giving it away.

So welcome to Blogtober. Now get ready to read some crap!

In other news, I went to a county fair last weekend. My favorite part of the fair is the food. On this particular evening, I enjoyed a corn dog, fries and lemonade, with a caramel apple for dessert. My least favorite part of the fair is when I see some adult--excuse me, over-grown kid--hogging the rides and dominating the fishing game, playing against children. Then later you see him on the merry-go-round, making horsey noises. It's just sad, really. For example, this guy:

Caption? "The Almost-NASCAR Driving Experience wasn't quite what Bone had expected." Feel free to come up with your own.

"Well baby you know I just love the sound of that pipe organ on the merry-go-round, baby down at the county fair..."