Losing the world when reading.

Today was the final tournament of SFUC. Yesterday, the tournament was a beach tournament, 5 on 5, because the fields were too wet to play on. As I wasn't particularly interested in playing beach ultimate, and neither was Kris, we stayed home and worked on the backyard, which is a jungle.

Getting up to go to the tournament was rough this morning, as we were getting up at 8:00 am! 8! Ugh. Still, we rolled out of the house at 8:30 and arrived at the fields at 9:30, just as the first games were getting started (1/2 an hour late).

My team won our first game (in pre-quarters), so we had a two round bye until the quarter-finals. Great. For someone who would rather be home sleeping, or at least just working in the back yard, this was a little torturous.

But only a little.

True to form, I had a book with me (The Reality Dysfunction, Part 2: Expansion), and read during the byes. I sat at the sideline of Kris' games (we managed to play only one of six rounds at the same time), so that I could watch him play. When he was on the field, I would watch. When he was on the sidelines, I would read. Worked out well.

At the end of the day, Kris asked me if I noticed when he was playing in the sunshine.


He went on to explain that, at one point when he was on the sideline next to me, he positioned himself so that he was casting a shadow over the book as I was reading. He then shifted back and forth to cause the shadow to flicker on the book as I read. Had I noticed?

I had not.

Not only had I not noticed his doing this at the time, I also disbelieved him when he told me he had done so.

So I told him about the first time I knew of when I didn't notice the world while I was reading. I was 11.

No surprise to anyone, I've been a bookworm my whole life. As near I as I can tell, I've always loved reading. So, when the family was all gathered in the family room (oh, to have a house big enough to have a separate living room and family room!), I would sometimes read when everyone else was watching TV (I still do this: "TV is a waste of time, but reading is productive!").

It was one of these evenings that, while I was reading (a Nancy Drew book, actually, probably borrowed from my friend Jenny), everyone in my family jumped up and ran out of the room.

I noticed the movement, and puzzled, stood up to follow them out of the house. Everyone was in the kitchen, which looked out over the front yard (which, as this image shows, is about 3/4 of an acre deep).

There used to be a huge tree at the very front of the yard, about 10 feet from the road. The tree trunk was about 3 feet in diameter, so it was a good sized tree. About once a year, someone would come around the curve too fast, stare at the tree as they came around the bend in the road, fixate on that tree, see nothing but that tree, and plow right into it.

This particular night, it was several young men (I don't recall the age, but I don't believe they were underage) who met the tree. They had been drinking (an open six-pack in the backseat), and driving. The driver came around the bend too fast and wrapped his car around the tree.

Turns out, the whole family heard the screech of tires and the loud crash of the car.

Except me.

I never heard the sounds. Our neighbors many many houses over came out to see what was going on. Some were over a quarter mile away and still heard the crash.

Not me.

My dad commented to his dad sometime after that how he wished he had the ability to block out the world when he read. He didn't understand how I did it. He was glad I had the ability to become absorbed in books, as it meant I could concentrate well. But he didn't understand the gift.

I related the story to Kris after he told me he had shifted his shadow while I was reading.

I never noticed.

Current wish List


In no particular order at the moment:

New winter gloves
Exercise warmup pants
Cold weather running tights, for under those warmup pants if I go play winter league.
Balloon or flat whisk (not french)
Olive oil from Sciabica's
scone mixes (blueberry, cranberry-orange, lemon-blueberry)
Heath bud vases, in yellow, black, blue or green.

The license plate Holy Grail!

Oh, so close! So very close!

When playing the license plate torture game, I thought the best license plate to see would be a non-vanity, 2 character license plate: one where all the numbers were the same, and all the letters were the same. Some would be better than others (5SSS555 and 2ZZZ222, for example), but even so, a 2 character plate would be awesome.

Well, I came close today.

While at lunch, Mike and I pulled up behind a mini-bus with a government license plate. The number was 1112212.

Now, technically, it satisfies the two characters requirement. But it's not a passenger car. So, I'll keep looking.

The closest passenger car I've seen was a 4MMK444.

Crime? Be-Fow-LING the castle!

Here's an excerpt from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:

Page 126, third paragraph:

"Name ... Harry Potter. Crime ..."
"It was only a bit of mud!" said Harry.
"It's only a bit of mud to you, boy, but to me it's an extra hour of scrubbing!" shouted Filch, a drip shivering unpleasantly at the end of his bulbous nose. "Crime ... befouling the castle ... suggested sentence ..."

A couple days ago, Kris was sitting next to me on the couch. At the top of his lungs, he yells, "Crime?!" Startled, I looked over at him.

"Befouling the castle!"


And then he let one rip.

Now, if you've never been in the presence of one of Kris' farts, let me warn you that they are quite, um, odorous. When I hear one, I flee.


Of course, I can't say mine smell any better. I'm just used to my smells.

So, our new word for "Flee for your life if you wish to avoid the smells emanating from my butt!" is "Crime?" yelled at the top of one's lungs. The proper way to finish the warning is, of course, "Befouling the castle!"

It's quite entertaining.

Be careful what you wish for

Everyone over the age of 8 has heard the saying, "Be careful what you wish for, you just might get it." When you want something badly enough, and your mind and your body decide to follow, mountains can be moved. Even when just your mind decides to help, you can get your wish.

A while ago, like last November, after Regionals were over and my toenails were all black and bloodied from ultimate abuse, I pondered having my toenails surgerically removed. I couldn't decide if I truly wanted to have them removed, might I regret it later? How long do I expect to play ultimate anyway? Things like that. Not two months later, I started to lose a different toenail than I was contemplating removing. Voila! Gross things, but soon I'll see a nail-less toe and can use that in my decision.

Or how about learning to scan the ultimate field better? Higher level atheletes are very good at scanning a field before deciding what to do. Cameras that watch the eyes of professional athletes show they are more aware of movements on the fields than amateur athletes. A series of migraines back in November caused a reduction of peripheral acuity, forcing me to scan the field in order to see what I would have normally seen 4 months ago. I know something's there, I just can't see it, so I scan my field of view far more than I used to. Out of necessity more than anything else. Rough way to get there, but I actually see more of the field than I used to.

Or how about fewer emotions? Now that's a battle I've had my entire life. Did you look at me funny? When I was younger, I'd probably bawl my head off. Or when I became frustrated, my nose would turn bright red and the sting of tears would start. Funny thing is that since that same said series of migraines I haven't cried once except in the case of extreme physical pain (and damn it hurt!). I keep thinking, huh, I feel like I should cry right now: I'm frustrated, I'm tired, blah, blah, blah. But I don't. Maybe because I'm getting older and my hormones are shifting. Maybe because I'm actually somewhat happy in life. Maybe because those migraines shifted something. Maybe because John Schmidt's saying, "Nothing to be done about it? Then don't worry about it." finally sunk in. Maybe I just realized what it was going to take to finally get to where I know I want to be.

And sitting on my ass just wishing isn't going to cut it.

So this is what confidence feels like.

Last Saturday, SFUC had a make-up day. Various teams that weren't able to play during the normal schedule because of rainouts were able to make up the missed games. My team had three makeup games on Saturday morning. Fortunately, Kris' team also had three makeup games and the two of us were able to carpool up to the City.

One of the reasons I've been playing SFUC all these years (I've been playing for I think four years now, might be three) is to become less intimidated by players I don't know. Growing up a non-athlete, I've been known to psych myself out before games even start. Ooooo, look at how well that woman throws! Wow, check out how fast she runs! Look, she carries herself like an athlete, she must be good! It's very easy to assume the other player is better, and give up right there.

Since I've been working out with G at ASA, I've become an athlete (I can say that now. I'm not a geek/nerd/brainiac pretending to be an athlete. I'm an athlete. And the recognition of such is a Good Thing™). And since I've been reading the Mental Game of Baseball, my mental game has also become much stronger. An even better thing.

Because of the workouts G has designed for Kris and I, my quickness has increased. I suspect my top speed as also increased. My core is stronger. I weigh more (also a good thing, actually). And, surprisingly, my endurance has increased. This one surprised me a bit, actually, because many of the exercises are explosive ones, giving more quickness, but at the expense of all day endurance.

But I digress.

I started Saturday morning off playing as hard as I could. My team's record was 2-6 going into the morning, having lost 2 of those games by 2 points, 3 of those games by 1 point. One point. Which means they could have gone either way. I figured, if I played hard and we lost by one point, then there is nothing more I could do. But if I played hard, maybe that would be enough for a win. I think other team members thought the same, because we left the day with 3 wins. Whoo!

The first point I played on Saturday set the tone for the day for me. I marked up against their top woman, but was open on every cut. The second game was against the only team to beat the top team in the league with an 8-1 record. I kept up with their top woman in all her cuts, I caught up whenever I was poaching and had to scramble back to mark up. I was terribly surprised when I was back 3+ yards when my woman went deep, yet still caught up to her after 30 yards.

I threw no turn overs that I recall (though I did have an turn over assist when a teammate dropped a catch that hit him in the wrist), but had two brilliant turn-and-fire throws to brilliant continue cuts by Liz and Nate. Knowing I could go in when I wanted to go in, and stay out when I needed to, and have the confidence to keep up with my players was so wonderful. There was no intimidation. There was no oh-my-god-this-woman-must-be-good. There were no head-cases.

Just run, catch, fake, pivot, throw, repeat. And that feeling made all the 3+ hour workouts worth every minute.

I think George Cooke may have had it right when he told me, "I think this will be your year."

Pulling Up My Pants

Everyone has embarrassing moments. Those moments in time when you desperately want to be some place (any place!) else. Oh, god, they are the worst place to be when they're happening. But, damn, they make great stories weeks, months, years later.

The trick with those moments is to make it through them. Just make it through. Humour helps, if you can manage it.

The other trick is to remember them without the overwhelming emotions associated with the embarrassment. It's easy to let feelings of guilt, anger, helplessness overwhelm the situation.

Talking about the situation will certainly help afterward.

So, here's one:

When I was 3 years old (yes, I have a memory that old, several actually), my family was helping the Brickleys move into the house 3 doors down from our house. What can you give a 3 year old to carry into a house? A bag of something or other.

As I walked up to the house, my pants started falling down. My pants were falling down! So, when I arrived at the front door, my arms full carrying the bag of whatever, I asked Gayle Brickley (the family's mom, the adult! the big person!) to pull up my pants.

Yep. "Please pull up my pants."

Her reply?

"What? What did you just say?"

I was completely mortified. I mumbled nevermind, scampered around the door, and hurried into the kitchen, where I deposited the bag, and pulled up my pants. I'm sure I didn't say "Would you please pull up my pants?" for, as a 3 year old, I'm also sure I didn't have that command of the English language.

Three years old and so embarrassed that the adult was asking what did I just say? The tone she used clearly implied that I had asked something terribly shameful. Oh, so embarrassed!

I carried that memory and feeling of complete shame around with me for another 25 years. Every time I thought about that moment, the feelings of shame and embarrassment overwhelmed me. I couldn't tell anyone about that incident. Too shameful!

Eventually, I did tell Kris about that incident. And what happened? Poof! All the feelings of embarrassment and shame disappeared. How could such a small incident of so long ago have such power over me? Because I let it. Because I let an embarrassing moment be more than it really was. And telling Kris helped me see it for what it was.

Which was nothing.

But a little humour might have helped.

Bad Performance Review

I received a bad performance review today. I'll admit it to being a bit of a shock, though in retrospect, not surprising.

In the past two weeks, I've had food poisoning (-2 days), a migraine (-1 day), traveled to Virginia for my father-in-law's open-heart surgery recovery (-4 days), and to Pasadena to deal with a condo flooding (-2 days). I desparately want to say, "Look! I'm not making shit up! I'm not making up excuses!" but the end result is that I'm behind in a project and it's affecting not only one client/customer/project, but also other projects.

And I don't like it one bit.

I'm going full tilt (20 minutes work, 5 minutes pause, 14+ hours today) to get this stuff done, but I don't feel like I'm getting any closer to the end. The more I do the more I see I have left to do. Geez, does it ever end?


I have officially posted my most boring, I'm whining post ever. This is why blogs suck. It's someone whining about a life that is actually pretty damn fucking good, with just a hint of stress in it.

The good thing about today? I didn't cry. I realized that, well, you know, crying isn't going to help a darn thing. When I'm done, I'm still going to have all this work to do.

Nothing to be done about it? Then don't worry about it.

Crouching Agnostic, Hidden Christian

So, the problem I have with most "devout" Christians (aside from the obvious hypocrisy of the religion and the practice of said religion) is that they refuse to listen to reason, logic or common sense when confronted with thoughts, events or other beliefs that conflict with their "faith." It's almost like becoming religious means you stop thinking for yourself.

Some scientific studies show there are distinct biological differences in the chemistry and makeup of the brains between devout religious persons and the rest of us (heh: I almost wrote, "between devout religious persons and normal people."). Perhaps those differences account for the desire to let someone else think for them, to follow blindly without a critical thought? Of course, the issue could be a brain disorder instead.

I know very few intelligent, well educated people who are also devout religious people. Note I said "few": I do know some. They exist. Though I'm not sure how they balance faith with critical thinking. Maybe early indocrination into the religious cult, er, organization?

Regardless, here's my thought about it: how about starting a blog or website that's nominally Christian based, but with pushes of critical thinking in it? It could have lots of Bible quotes, but a history of how the books of the Bible were selected, and how people should read the other "forgotten" books. And maybe some pointers about you shouldn't dump your money into some televangelist, because even Jesus tipped the bankers' tables over in the church (though it was probably a synagogue at that point). Oh, and how about the obvious-to-anyone-who-isn't-a-devout-Christian observation that being a Christian means respecting other people (even if you don't like their opinions). Oh, and that God gives us all free will. That means each of us chooses our actions and you, Mr. Bible-Thumper, may not choose mine for me.

Eh, we'll see. I could do it free at Blogger (and get some free links/search access to it!). If I do decide to create the site, I'm sure anyone who knows my writing style will recognize the site immediately as mine. Maybe when they do, they'll keep mum about the originator.

Do You Look Back if No One is There?

I took Kris to the airport this morning.

We received a call from his sister yesterday that his father was having chest pains in church. He went into open-heart surgery 2 hours ago. Kris is flying back home today, and should be there when his father wakes up tonight.

I think I've managed to see Kris for 8 days this month. I think that's a new low water mark for us. I miss him.

When I dropped him off at the airport, I went around to park the car as he was checking in. Wade Hellner gave Kris his Southwest Rapid Rewards ticket, so he could fly out on a moments notice (thank you again, Wade!). Wade booked the ticket last night, which meant Kris couldn't check in online. So, I dropped him off, went to park the car, and then went inside to get that last 10 minutes with him before he spent the day travelling back east.

I think when we split at the "Ticketed passengers only beyond this point" spot, he assumed I left. I hadn't. I waited until he was through the line, turned the corner and walked to his gate. I managed to squeeze in an extra 4 minutes there. Even if he was 10+ yards away.

He didn't turn around to wave, though. Didn't know I was still there.

I miss you, Kris. Be safe. Love and prayers to your dad.