Perfect world

bowling_genericI was nervous, I was sweating and I could barely stand — and I was not just trying to stand, but then walk while holding and then throwing a 15-pound bowling ball. But that’s not really unusual.

I think about things, a lot, sometimes long beyond any useful purpose and even to my detriment.

It can be especially good at showing up at inopportune times, like athletic competition. Having been in a bowling league for 15 years, it has reared its ugly head more than once while I stood on the approach at the end of a key match with ball in hand.

A 300 is a perfect game in bowling, something I’ve never really approached before Sunday. I’d thrown a pair of 279s, meaning I had all strikes except for one frame prior to the 10th in which I had a 9-spare. But I’d never come closer, because the games in which I’d done that the spares came very early on, second or third frame, and I then struck out from there.

The most strikes I’d ever strung together to start a game I think was seven, but it was a long time ago and I was most definitely not in the right frame of mind to close out that kind of a start. These days I’d put together five or six in a row to open games a couple of times, but that was it.

Sunday I was struggling during warmups to find my line, the ideal trajectory for my ball to strike, and I was leaving pins all over the place. My first ball of the game, I pulled it badly but luckily crossed over and threw a strike after burying the ball in the left-hand pocket between the 1 and 2 pins.

I threw two such strikes, plus a couple of other less lucky but somewhat fortunate strikes — my shot in the seventh frame seemed to leave the 6 pin until a messenger pin from the other side shot across and took it out. I struck again in the eighth, and had done a pretty good job of keeping conversations going between frames.

I learned years ago that the best way to take my mind off what I was doing — when I seem to bowl best, I’m not really paying a lot of attention to the game itself — was to talk to people about non-bowling topics. I’m usually at my best when I have to be reminded that it’s my turn.

Sunday I was chatting with my teammates about various things until the eighth, when the talk suddenly died down. I have a feeling that people were noticing what I was doing, and it was getting to be like a Major League dugout during a no-hitter. I didn’t want anything like that, so I started talking to a teammate again about his struggles in the game, trying to help him find a solution and stop it from being so damn quiet.

I struck again in the ninth, and went to the 10th frame with my chance at a perfect game still intact and needing three strikes to close it out. I was ready to get it over with one way or the other, though my body was telling me something different. But I managed to stay upright, threw a good ball and buried it in the pocket. The 7 pin stood staring at me for a second or two after the rest had disappeared, until it fell backward into the pit.

The second ball was good as well, and the pins went flying for the second strike. By this time I knew a crowd had gathered around behind me, and was waiting to see if by some miracle I could pull this off.

There are a lot of good bowlers in our league. It competes on Sunday mornings, the perfect time for a sportswriter whose schedule changes constantly but has one day a week where he’s almost always off and free to throw a few games. Though especially in recent years there’s always been at least one bowler averaging a 230 or better, my highest average in the league has been just over 200. Mine stood at 199 entering play Sunday, which was a nice improvement over earlier in the year thanks to a new ball I bought after hitting a low point near the end of the first third of the season.

I’d been throwing better, with a 279 in the first couple of weeks after getting the ball. I’d been getting more consistent as well, which is what I’d been searching for and came as I learned to control a ball that had a lot more power and hook than the one I’d used for more than a decade.

But there I was, trying not to shake as I stood on the approach and staring down the pins and my mark on the lane that I was trying to throw at. I could feel the sweat under my arms and my shirt sticking to my pits. I took my four steps, swung my arm and released what looked like a great ball when it started down the lane.

300bAnd it stayed that way. There were many congratulations from people throughout the league that I’ve bowled against for months or many years. And for a brief moment, it was a perfect world.

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It’s a wonderful life

It wasn’t the plan to spend all day watching Christmas specials and movies, though there were one or two I did intend to catch. But with the missus still feeling the after-effects of two days of stomach pains and other issues, she just wasn’t up to going to the family gathering.

And when you’re not feeling your best, you can often find yourself plopped down in front of the TV. I kept Tina company so we could spend time together. Thus we ended up catching bits and pieces of the marathon items like “A Christmas Story” and “The Princess Bride” that were running on TV, capped the night with the new Doctor Who Christmas special, and in between picked out the following Christmas items:

  • A Christmas Carol (1984)
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Buffy The Vampire Slayer, “Amends”
  • Warehouse 13, “Secret Santa”
  • Eureka, “O Little Town”

Some will see this list as Christmas movies followed by some oddball sci-fi TV. But A Christmas Carol (and the Muppet version) both feature ghosts, not to mention visits to the past, other present and future. Why is watching a sci-fi show using some of the same tropes (or others of their own devising or borrowed from other sources) any different?

If you haven’t seen any of the above, give ’em a shot. You might find out you like it. That’s what I did this year with It’s A Wonderful Life, which played on the big screen nearby on Christmas Eve. I’d never seen it before, and couldn’t resist the idea of going to the theater for my first viewing. I enjoyed it, and will look forward to catching it next holiday season.

We didn’t get to spend the day with family except for each other, but it was still an enjoyable day. And that’s really the key, finding a way to make every day enjoyable despite the circumstances.

No time this time

I probably could have written this post earlier, but put it off as usual and I’m now trying to quickly bang out something for the record after a long day today and with another long day ahead tomorrow.

Sundays end up being long days because I’m in a bowling league that competes Sunday mornings. If you’re wondering why a sane person would do such a thing, a) maybe I’m not that sane, but b) when I joined the league some 14 years ago I had just started working at the paper as a sportswriter.

When you work as a sportswriter, the one thing that you’re sure of is that you’re rarely sure of your schedule. It changes week to week, season to season to fit the immediate needs of the sport or department. The one time you’re pretty much guaranteed not to have something to do is Sunday (lots of nights and weekends in sports), so that was the obvious time to do something if I was going to.

I enjoy it, I’ve gotten pretty good (today’s results notwithstanding) and it keeps me active even when I’m pretty much not otherwise. So I do it, sacrifice some sleep since I can rarely get to bed early and get up at 7 am.

I’ll be traveling to visit a friend tomorrow and likely won’t be posting anything unless something really amazing happens, and even then I’d probably save it for Tuesday. I’d write more, but with another early wake-up call in the morning I really have no time this time.

Whole day off

Because I’m trying to kick this cold that’s been kicking my ass the past day or two so I can be close to 100 percent by Thursday, Wednesday was a day to do as little as possible.

There’s a fine line though, when you don’t want to or feel like doing much of anything but by the same token boredom can quickly set in. It’s a balancing act that involves TV, books (if you can focus enough to read unless you have something nice and brainless to fall back on) and maybe checking out the internet or YouTube.

But you can’t do that too long because the computer screen’s hard on the eyes, and your eyes are among the things bothering you most. They burn, they water, they itch and you just want to close them and hope it goes away. But I didn’t feel like sleeping, and I didn’t want to be bored, so I found things to occupy my time. I had one thing that had to occupy it — a bit of freelance work.

Of course, I know from my years working at the paper that as a sports reporter — especially with a new season right around the corner — there’s rarely any such thing as a true day off. I’ve even received calls while on vacation in another state partway across the country, asking for help, information or a phone number. There is no escape.

Even if I wanted to ignore things I simply couldn’t and get done what needed to get done. So I did a bit of research, did an interview, and got things ready to bang out a story.

Maybe it’s just me. The last time I simply slept all day I was sick, a few years ago. I think it might have even been around Christmastime. That time I didn’t go to the doctor, and was so floored by whatever flu I had I slept for something like 16 hours straight. But I find that very hard to do as a general rule, and while this illness has made me miserable it’s nothing compared to that plague.

So I probably didn’t sleep enough, but hopefully I rested enough to be able to attack Thursday a little more head-on. Because things have to get done, and I’m the one that has to do them.

On the ropes

When I woke up this morning, my hopes of this cold not getting too serious were quickly dashed. My throat was sorer than ever, and the congestion had finally moved in to match.

I was supposed to be babysitting Wednesday, so I quickly decided (or at least as quickly as I did anything) that I should see if I could get in to see my doctor and get some antibiotics to hopefully knock out the cold faster.

They squeezed me in to see a physician’s assistant in the office since my regular doctor wasn’t available, and despite some unsolicited advice she did say she was sending a prescription for a Z-pak to my drug store — across the street from the office.

I assumed that meant the prescription would be there when I arrived a few minutes later, but the pharmacy said they couldn’t find it. I thought they’d sent it electronically, and they said they’d text me as soon as they received it and it was being processed.

That text never came, and eventually it was closing time at the doctor’s office. I called the drug store back, they said they still didn’t have it, so I called the doctor’s office and explained my plight to the answering service. One of the other doctors called back and said it was definitely put in, but he would call again to make sure. While I was on the phone with him, the drug store called back. When I returned their call, they said they’d found the request — on their answering machine.

So then I had plenty of frustration on top of not being able to breathe (I’m currently on my third box of tissues today). I was in no condition to pick up the prescription by this point, so I had to wait for my wife to bring it home. Thanks to work and traffic, it was 8 pm before I finally got to take my first dose.

That was after hearing my cousin was hospitalized overnight. Then to cap things off I got to hear that a close friend had been laid off from his job, just as I was earlier this year. Luckily he’s one of the smartest people I know, so I have no doubt he’ll be employed again soon. But I could really use a break from this cold, bad news and just crap in general to give me a chance to feel like I’m getting off the ropes and back in the fight.

Whoops….

Well look at that.

Three and a half months since the last post about dusting this blog off.

My, how time flies.

But obviously I am feeling somewhat inspired again, or else I wouldn’t be here. So expect some things coming up over the next few days, and I honestly am going to try and update this thing on a more regular basis going forward.

Promise.

In the meantime, here’s a little something by way of an apology (or at least show you something I enjoy):

This place could use a good dusting

new-year-2014-versus-2013Wow, been a long time since I’ve been around here. I think the idea of having a separate blog which ended up also being about sports was a good idea in theory, but I think it felt a little too much like more work and I have more than enough of that as it is. So things got neglected, and at times I forgot I even had this blog.

But it’s a new year, and time for a new attitude. So I’m opening up the windows and letting some air in to help get rid of some of the dust that’s accumulated around here. I’ve changed the name (though that could go through a few more changes), the look, and the purpose of the site.

I’ll write here when I feel like it, which will hopefully be on a regular basis, and this time it’ll definitely be about whatever I feel like at the time. I have a lot of interests, at least some of which are on display in the new cover photo (which I hastily designed myself; impressive, right?), and I’ll write about them and other things.

Sports will still be welcome here, and I’ve added my Twitter feed which is mostly about sports since I use it for work. But I won’t be seeking out esoteric sports topics to explore further, unless that’s what I feel like doing. Otherwise it’ll be whatever, whenever, for however long I want. But spelling and grammar will still be a focus, because they’re always important.

So enjoy your time here. Hopefully there’ll be a lot more to explore in the near future as I get more random posts like this up. I still like a lot of what I did before, so check that out too, but from now on most of what I’ll be writing here will be a lot more off the cuff instead of researching and agonizing over every syllable. Let’s cut this sucker loose and see what happens.