Home, Away From

12 08 2019

Homemaking is one of the oddest words. Or perhaps all words are equally odd, but with varying degrees of familiarity.

Think about what home means. The smells you grew up with, the feel of your bedroom floor. Making those again is impossibility itself. We cannot make home for ourselves. We can only hope to make it for others.

At 33, I am beset with a weird sort of hollowness even as the thrill of a new job and a real sense of adventure has come upon me. I am here, far away from everything I’ve had, and I can do whatever I want.

I always could, in theory, but the actualizing is sobering–if not in practice.

How do you build a community while also relishing that daybreak before the noises of the day take over? I know the people will be there, that my life will fill up with somethings, all sorts of somethings. I have lived this before, and found life. Here too, I may find life, even if I have to harrow my heart in ways I’ve heretofore spared it. Look, these are the types of sentences I write when I don’t have anyone around to read what I’m spitting out.

It’s one thing, then the next. It’s looking for a job, then it’s starting the job. It’s looking for a new place, then moving into the new place, then furnishing the new place, then decorating the new place, then getting other people into the new place. Rinse and repeat. And rinse well, especially here. The sweat, man. The sweat.

For two weeks now, I’ve worked. I just got my first paycheck from this job, and it gave me a silly sort of delight to see it in my bank account. I am getting paid to teach chess, or to try to teach it. This is not how you draw things up, but I’m drawing a salary just the same, so thank goodness the drawing will start and end there. I still am rubbish at drawing.

I got invited to go two-stepping with some “hot young coworkers” last Friday. I chickened out, if that’s the right term for abstaining from something you won’t enjoy intrinsically. I’m all for putting myself out there and trying new things, but I mean, you can’t force someone to sign up for the “get punched in the face club” on day one. Not yet, anyway. Four more years though, and who knows?

I might go shop for a couch at The Furniture Store. Imagine that. Imagine it. If I’m living out some weird recursive DNA trip, I hope someone at least has the decency to write a book about it. Goodness knows it’s too hot outside for me to think about writing a book just yet, though.

Advertisements




Oxford is

5 11 2013

image





“Oh yeah? I’ll show you!”

22 07 2013

image

I do hope some enterprising youths have had their picture taken here. 

The possibilities exist.





Ludic

21 05 2013

lu·dic adjective \ˈlü-dik\: of, relating to, or characterized by play

 

 I learned a new word while reading Sayers the other day.  Well, I should be honest:  I was reading a blog penned by an older English lady back in 2003 in which she reviewed Sayers’ Wimsey mysteries.  She (the blogger, I mean) was working on her dissertation, and she would often pause to write these really critically-constructed reviews of the mysteries’ characters and genre.  As a bonus[1] to an anglophile like me, the comments are largely written by other Britons, and so I find myself an wallowing in riches three times over:  Sayers, blogger “Truepenny,” and the commenting public of the island nation.  Witness my reverie for a moment, if you would.  Okay, that’s enough.

And so it was within the golden ashes of a long-abandoned blog that I discovered the word ludic, which is a rather old adjective relating to sport.  You’ll kick yourself in a moment if you haven’t already made the connection to the more contemporary adjective ludicrous, but there you have it.  I was delighted to realize that here, here was the legitimate grandfather of an adjective I had met in my youth and seen corrupted in my teens by a certain actor/hip hop artist.  Not since the discovery of burgle had I encountered a word so effortlessly peremptory, so readily available to one already afflicted with pretension in spades.   

As I thought more about ludic, I gradually began to wonder how it had dropped out of our vernacular, at least in America (although I believe its usage is rather rare in England as well).  Ludicrous had no trouble sticking around, but that is often the case with adjectives placed further toward the end of the spectrum.  We are a people who miss the forest for the trees, clearing them in a frenzy to expose the utter west of our nation.  England has retained obsequious, we’ve opted for suck-up.   That’s the way it is, and I think I’m okay with that.  We are a people defined by our unquenchable thirst for convenient consumption, but that need not restrict our and my vocabulary today. 

I played soccer tonight, and there was nothing ludic about it other than the rules.  We got murdered, not literally, although Sayers actually described some homicides less grisly than the one my team experienced.  Our frustration mounted along with the goal margin, and by halftime we were down lots of goals.  Like, all of them, basically.  Just so many, many goals that went in the wrong net.  Like the one where I, filling in for our erstwhile goalkeeper, accidentally batted a ball into our own net.  At first, I was utterly disgusted with myself, our team and the game of soccer itself.  Then I took a deep breath, thought about what was really important in life, and calmly retrieved the ball from a corner of our goal to drop-kick it into the netting surrounding the field, getting it stuck behind a post about eight feet off the ground in the process.  It’s kind of like when the basketball gets stuck in between the rim and the backboard, except much more humiliating.

“Oh,” I thought.  “This probably doesn’t make me look good.”  I looked around casually, and noticed the following:

  • That our celebrating opponents were jogging back to their half of the field unaware of my artistic little pout.
  • That the referee was discussing something with the scorekeeper and had his back turned to me.
  • That my team had their heads down in shame, looking anywhere but at the seething glare upon my not-really-sweaty face. 
    • (Goalies don’t exert themselves much in games like this for the simple fact that they don’t make much contact with the ball.)
  • That the only people who knew where the ball was other than yours truly were the spectators who had just witnessed my triumphantly petulant burst of idiocy.

It’s a funny thing about adult sports:  You tell yourself that you’re playing for the exercise, the camaraderie, the healthy competition or whatever, but eventually you will discover that your inner nine-year-old has always been the driving force behind it all; you will also eventually discover that he has just been dying for the opportunity to metaphorically pants you right when you’re feeling down.  At 26 years old, gainfully employed and moderately mature, I had summarily executed my dignity for everyone to see.  Good thing most of them weren’t looking.

That ball couldn’t stay there forever, though.  I stood there thinking about it.  If I did nothing, someone would eventually point out the location of the ball to the players on the field.  Adult soccer players are not known for their intellectual agility, but I would be found out one way or another, and it would probably be humiliating.  It was already humiliating.  Alternatively, if I pointed  out the ball to someone else, they would inevitably wonder how the ball got stuck up there and how I was the only one who knew where it was.  This had the tempting advantage of at least delaying my embarrassment for a few moments while everyone’s curiosity was piqued by the ball retriever hoisting himself up to get the ball.  But someone would ask him, and he would tell them, and they would say, “Really, that Robert guy?”  That part would suck. 

No, I had clearly burned every one of my ships back to the island of self-esteem when I punted the ball with all my pathetic might just a few moments ago.  There was no choice:  I had to get the ball myself.  The amused onlookers surely had a good laugh as I nonchalantly trotted over to the netting, jumped as high as I could, and supported myself with one hand while I artfully scooped down the ball with the other.  In case you don’t care much for sports and you’re not clear on how the game was going, let me clarify:  this was, by far, my most successful moment of the evening.  As I landed, I mediated on the fact that learning humility and maturity while playing a child’s game with other grown men is a rare event—granting that I learned anything at all—and hey, I at least executed the retrieval maneuver correctly.  I’m an athlete, you may have heard.

I’m not sure when I’ll give up playing soccer completely, but I know I’m closer to quitting today than I was last year.  I love the competition, but it’s pretty clear that I’m neither appeasing nor refining the most admirable of desires during this one hour a week on a soccer field.  If I’m honest, I probably get loads more healthy satisfaction (not to mention genuine exercise) from regular jogging than I ever will from sporadic competition.   Even the fact that I now talk about quitting as a “when” as opposed to an “if” is coldly real to me.  After embracing the ludic for so long, I’m reluctant to admit the increasing presence of the ludicrous along with it.  There’s a certain pride that comes from participating in sport well.  It’s tough to hold on to that pride when my age keeps whispering louder each week, sometimes voicing itself in aching joints and ankle braces, or if I’m lucky, only in my fruitless attempts to keep up with those 19-year-old college players.   I am not what I was, but I do know what I want to become:  a man willing to hop up and retrieve that ball shamelessly with a smile on his face.  And even more than that, a man who doesn’t have to run that far to retrieve it in the first place.  

 

 


[1] I originally started to write the phrase, “As an added bonus” before subsequently excoriating myself for exercising the “Biggest pet peeve” faux pas that has caused me no end of teeth-gritting over the past few years. Image





Here’s a Thing That Happened

24 04 2013

Image

For my birthday last year my mom scoured bookstores for a rare-ish Nero Wolfe novel I had been wanting to read.  While unsuccessful as of my 26th, she nevertheless persisted and eventually persuaded a small bookstore proprietor (the store was small, the proprietor average) to order a used copy of it, which she then surprised me with a few weeks later.  And yes, since you’re dying to know: it made me cry.

Mom told me a little while back that this bookstore has since folded, which is either sad or instructive.  There is probably a lesson here!

 

 





Untitled Cicadian (on lunch break)

16 02 2013

image

image





Rose Parade 2013!

1 01 2013

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image

image