Where I’m Calling From*

Raymond Carver (1938-1988)

I know, I know. I haven’t posted in a while. I’ve been sick and having family problems, the combination of which has zapped my energy.

Also, there’s just not a lot to analyze politically these days. Politics seems to have devolved even further, and less and less information gets through. The blogosphere has changed journalism for the worse, its amateurisms and reactionary thought processes infecting the fourth estate at nearly every level. It was bad enough when journalists were buddy-buddy with politicians, but hid it. Now they’re out in the open with it, writing naked defenses of what should be indefensible, picking fights with readers on Twitter, and the content is all he-said-he-said-Palin-said bullcrap. I’m so frustrated by that!

I’m also frustrated by indicators that things are getting worse for us Main Streeters. The market recovered. Gas Prices are going up. Commodities (the shit we need, as opposed to want) are going up. In other words, business is booming once again, but no jobs are being offered. Who needs us when you’ve got China, Malaysia, etc.? There’s so much more, but I just don’t want to think about it.

The point is, I feel powerless. I am powerless. And that, too, zaps the energy.

Raymond Carver wrote about this, the working class condition, the view from the outside, with such tenderness and beauty. In his short stories he captures the futility, the shamelessness and blamelessness of a life with fewer options, marked as it so often is with poor choices. He understood that redemption could be found even here. Sadly he lost his life due to lung cancer at just 50 years old. Carver was a life-long smoker.

That’s where I’m calling from today. Facing down 40 in six weeks, feeling pretty hopeless about the world, and quite frankly feeling the urgency to reform my own poor choices. Like Carver, I often turn to writing to ease my aching heart. Here’s a poem I wrote, inspired by Carver and my own poor choices. Continue reading

88! 88! 88! UCONN Huskies WIN!

81-50 UCONN. What a game! A stumble on both sides at the top, the Buckeyes gave UCONN quite a game until the 2nd half, when that famous UCONN endurance kicked in and they broke away.

The reason for this endurance is because UCONN’s coach, Geno Auriemma, trains his players like the men’s teams do, with weight and endurance training. He started that practice in Women’s College Basketball, and the trend is growing. It’s changing the women’s game all over.

There’s been a lot of talk about how the women’s game is different than the men’s game, and as a hardcore fan of basketball in general, I can tell you this is true. But there are reasons for that. WCBB is relatively new, and unlike the men’s teams, the players don’t get the benefit of a lifetime of practice. Women usually start playing in high school, so their curve is longer. That is changing, though, as the women’s game grows in popularity and more scholarship funds go to women players.

What’s amazing about UCONN is that their game is every bit as good as the men’s game. They dominate because they are that good. They are changing the face of women’s basketball and because of their work, very shortly I think we will see a whole conference with skill as good, if not better, than the men’s.

And let’s not forget most of these women are doing this with GPAs of 3.5 and higher. You don’t see that in the men’s game.

Congratulations UCONN Huskies on your historic win today. Now it’s on to Tuesday and an attempt to BEAT UCLA’s record (airing on ESPN2!). Go Huskies!

UCONN Huskies v Ohio State Buckeyes: A Historic Game

At the end of the last college basketball season I wrote about the University of Connecticut  women’s basketball team being within striking distance of beating the men’s record (UCLA) for longest winning streak. Since 1974, that record has stood at 88 straight wins.  At the end of last season, UCONN needed eleven wins. The new season has started and so far they’re still winning.

Today #1 ranked UCONN plays game number 10 at Madison Square Garden against #11 ranked Ohio State. If UCONN wins, they will tie the men’s record. This is going to be one historic game! I can’t wait.

While I celebrate the achievement of these hard working women, others aren’t taking this as seriously. Some want to qualify it, or hedge it, and ESPN has relegated it to their third-tier, ESPNU. At least it’s being called out out in some quarters. Here’s Michelle Smith at Fanhouse:

The Connecticut women’s basketball team is on the verge of history…<snip>

Connecticut hasn’t lost since the 2008 Final Four. They’ve won two national titles at the end of two unbeaten seasons.

But so many conversations about the Huskies’ accomplishment begin with a preface, a hedge, a “yeah, but …” Something that makes it clear that what the Huskies are doing shouldn’t be compared with what UCLA did, that it’s less worthy.

The Huskies are about to win more games in a row than anyone in the history of NCAA college basketball. And we’ve come to the part where the “merit” of the achievement has to become part of the discussion.

Because this is women’s basketball.

Because this is women’s basketball, it will be regarded as less-than-equal to UCLA’s achievement. Because it’s women’s basketball, it’s simply regarded as less. Continue reading

Holiday Traditions: Our New Christmas

I’m with Cynthia. I hate Christmas. The holiday season in general just gives me the blues, and Mr. Peacock gets even bluer than I do. That’s really kinda sad because the little one, Lily, really digs it. Of course she is almost 17 now and hardly a little one anymore. But her birthday falls mid-December, and Christmas comes right after that, so it’s her season.

I, on the other hand, not only had a difficult childhood with ugly holiday memories, but have also struggled with giving Lily a proper birthday just days before Christmas, which has always been financially taxing. I positively dread this time of year. If you were around for the in-law wars I wrote about earlier this year, you have already guessed correctly that we basically had to sever ties completely. This was Mr. Peacock’s first Thanksgiving without his parents, and this Christmas will be his first without them. I expected him to get bluer than usual as a result.

I try to stay positive in life. Sometimes stuff gets to me, but I try to keep that balanced outlook, keeping it all in perspective. Above all I am on the eternal hunt for solutions. Why bitch when you can solve, ya know? Oh, I know there’s a whole market out there catering to the eternally outraged, by it doesn’t appeal to me. Since the summer Mr. Peacock and I have been discussing creating our own traditions around the holidays. We reason that we live in America, where we’re free to do so, and we’re not particularly religious (I’m absolutely not, but Mr. Peacock is “spiritual”), so why couldn’t we just come up with whatever we wanted?

The first thing to go was the tree. Who needs all that work (twice!) and killing a live tree is really immoral when you think about. At least in the volume Christmas-celebrants do it. Fake trees are gaudy and perfectly symbolize what’s wrong with the holiday these days. Plastic, cumbersome, with a price tag. A vacant trinket for the living room. It’s an empty gesture to a dead religion which was co-opted by another religion. It really doesn’t mean anything anymore, except, I guess, for aesthetics’ sake. They’re often pretty, I’ll give you that. Continue reading