Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Middle school or Middle age?

Now capable of taking risks
Last week was Blue's first basket ball practice where the other kids showed up.  And there were these moms all hanging out in a circle, a shape without an opening. And after a while of standing around feeling increasingly odd and out, I left.  Yes, I was indeed in a middle school gymnasium and I wondered if it wasn't these buildings that cause this sort of thing. After decades of cliques, the walls had gotten infected somehow and were oozing this sort of clannish anti-newcomer virus.  So I left and sat in the car and chatted with my mommy.  But when I returned, one woman broke away from the group and approached me.  Obviously an introvert, she was shaking as she began a conversation.  It was stunning. Someone had learned something in the intervening years. Of course, I made it as easy as I could in my awkward, never-ending fourteen year old way.  And soon we realized that we'd met before and she'd worked with Huck.  And then another woman overheard Huck's name and it turns out that her husband and mine had been in a band together that practiced at her house.  So, I didn't know anyone, but this group of ladies knew my husband - and I felt like I then slid easily into the B-ball moms.

World's Best Cat
Last night was Blue's first game. And another reminder that even my best is sometimes, frankly "is often", not good enough.  I began formulating my plan of attack the night before to get everyone where they need to be.  I might as well tell you now (I usually don't tell for security reasons) that Huck is working out of town for a while.  And by that, I mean that his company got him a house in Idaho. And so things will get tricky schedule wise (and in a lot of other -wises too!). And we arrived early, fed, homework done, etc. etc.  And it turns out that's not where the game was. As all my relatives know, this sort of thing is my undoing.  I have no idea why I over-react to things like this, like missing the ferry to bring my mother to an important funeral, missing my flight out of India, missing all of our flights out of New Orleans once and being stuck there for days and days more. Every so often, even my surpreme paperwork, planning, i dotting, t crossing skills fail and fail spectacularly when they do. And my reaction is usually equally spectacular! 

Eventually we made it to the other side of town, half way through the third quarter of my daughter's first game. First game, in that the refs had to give constant mini-briefings on things like where to stand during free throws, what the lines mean, etc. etc.   Obviously, no one was upset we were late.  No one even cared, except they'd all been there before. And one mom says, "We have to fail like that some times, to give them something real to complain about."

Hard Cider begins
I was concerned that Blue would feel embarassed or discouraged with so many corrections and redirections.  I felt that way.  I started basketball when I was in 6th grade as well.  I actually played for McDonald's through the Salvation Army. And boy, were there some spectacular fails then!  My favorite was when I grabbed the ball and was instantly surrounded on all sides by my opponents, all grabbing into my space for the ball.  I'd seen girls in this position before, so I was pretty sure I knew what to do.  I twisted violently, left and right to get their hands off my ball.  And as I spun a large, thick, wet rope of snot flew out my nose and slapped each girl across the face and then suddenly disappeared back into my nose when they'd all been hit, never to be seen again.  It was like the Angel of Snot, smiting mine enemies. The girls ran away, squealing and screaming. And I got the foul!

But the real trouble came in eighth grade, when my backwards parochial school finally got sports.  First we got a new principal who no longer believed that sports were an abomination to god, a waste of time better spent in worship and devotions, 'cuz that's what we were all doing instead, right?  So we first came up with a mascot, the terrifically frightening "CRUSADERS".  No shit.  We named our team after historical fanatics who killed anyone who didn't believe exactly as they did, including a ton of Muslims, obviously.  Not that they didn't retaliate.  But still.  It was our fantasy that our fledgling sports teams imitate these studly pillars of the faith and slay our opponents mercilessly.  Under this banner of Christ's love, I played volleyball, basketball and baseball. I loved basketball the most.  I was a goddess at guarding, unsurpassed at passing, and a queen at dribbling.  What I was not good at was 1) knowing the rules and following them and 2) making baskets. I wasn't good at making baskets because I never shot and I needed glasses, but we didn't know that yet. I mean, I really never ever shot.  Until the very last game, we were 84 - 2 and my coach insisted that everyone had to pass me the ball until I made a basket.  I nearly passed out from trying to keep from crying.  On the one hand, no pressure.  We're 82 points ahead; we ARE the crusaders.  I couldn't possibly loose the game even if I tried.  On the other hand, the entire fourth quarter was focused on me and my refusal to even try for a basket.  I don't know if I ever did try.  I don't know if I made one or not.  But I have certainly retained a very intense memory and thought it over many times.  My conclusion is that I was afraid to take a risk in front of everyone.  I think it's the same reason I hate to shop in stores with big windows.  I don't know, just that shooting baskets is a very private thing for me, I guess.  Like pooping.  I just need the doors shut and the fan on, is all.  What do you think? What psychosis underlies my inability to take a shot in front of people?
Pirate, Poirot, Death and Ood

Later, I'd play pick up games with Orcas boys, who managed to put me on the "skins" team.  Of course, I managed to get in with the "shirts" instead.  I at least knew enough to play a decent game.  And to take shots eventually, no matter how far afield they go.

I just quested for my McDonalds/Salvation Army team photos to show you how classy I looked in sixth grade with my perm and my goldenrod and red polyester uniform.  I swear I've seen these photos recently.  I think my mother handed them over because she figured I was finally responsible enough, with a cavernous enough house to take in my own memorabilia.  Sorry, mom, you were wrong, apparently.  Instead I found a suitcase full of 14-15 year old Sarajoy.  And it messed with my head. I discovered that I have forgotten what sound like very sweet and lovely memories. Who was Laura, and why were we in her hallway? I also haven't changed enough.  I wrote really messed up letters to people. I wrote excellent poetry, and some really bad stuff too. I wrote about my own death a lot.  I was obsessed with death. I was seriously depressed and lonely and lost. And I feel all mixed up now, especially after watching 6th grade basketball last night.  Am I 11? 14? 37?  

Fingers? Nah, they're people!  With rights!
And so instead of preparing for Saturday's Folk Fest performance, I ran out of the house crying, you know, to prove I'm a big girl now. And I went for a hike. And I found my favorite tree. (I'm telling you, I'm really worried I haven't changed at all!) And I tried to take a photo of it, but my camera was dead.  So I cried, because I'm 37, damn it. And then I climbed to the top of the tree and curled up in a branch crotch and watched the swans. Until I felt like I might actually be 37 again.  And then I climbed down, which was scary because I was 37 again, and decided to further procrastinate memorizing a 45 minute monologue by writing in my blog.  And now I have to go pick up the kids.

 Anyway, I watched Blue and knew she was going to respond to all of this very differently than I did.  But just in case, we plotted our places on the learning curve, to show ourselves that there is more to learn and that we aren't expected to know it all right now.  But soon, we will know so much more than we do, right? right? I'll know where her games are and she'll know where to stand during a free throw.

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