Month: May 2019 (Page 1 of 2)

Friday Playlist

“You’re Trying Too Hard” – Nightjacket. I feel like I definitely have a sound for 2019 so far: Female vocals over what is mostly indie pop with some hints of other genres mixed in. This band fits right in it, blending some dream pop and shoegaze into their pop stew.

“Who You Are” – Mannequin Pussy. This band fits right into that pocket, too. Mostly straight-ahead pop-rock with a touch of jangle pop. Kind of a wacky name, though. I guess they’re counting on no radio airplay.

“Baby Blues” – Moving Panoramas. Hey, why not one more just to prove my point? I hope at least one of these songs gets stuck in your head this weekend.

“Seven Devils” – Kansas City’s Kevin Morby’s latest album, Oh My God, is a sprawling, complex, tremendous piece of work. I don’t love every one of the songs, but I admire his ambition. Fittingly, this song has a Wilco vibe to it, and from the era when Wilco was one of the most ambitious and daring bands in the world.

“Constructive Summer” – The Hold Steady. Raise a toast to St. Joe Strummer and build something this summer. 

One Down…

On August 16, 2010 we began a new chapter in our family life: we sent M off to St. P’s for her first day of kindergarten. Today, we close the book on her life there.

Today is the last day for her eighth grade class. This afternoon they will clear out their lockers, pack up their bags, and walk through a tunnel of their kindergarten buddies at about 2:45. If tradition holds, both the eighth graders and the kindergarteners will be in tears. Outside the school, the class will be blessed by their priest, we’ll take a bunch of pictures, and they will be free to go a few minutes before the rest of the school is dismissed for the day.

For all the physical and emotional changes M has gone through, she is, for the most part, the same person she was when she started. She’s still a little loud; her only consistent behavior issues in nine years have been talking too much in class. She got her mom’s volume; you can always hear her voice over the crowd. She’s always been a sharer. I remember her first grade teacher telling me how M would stand at the door and tell everyone who arrived after her in the mornings any news that she had already heard. She is very stubborn, although we think she has moderated this a little, at least when it comes to dealing with friends. She’s still stubborn as hell with us, though. This morning when trying to take a last day of school picture, she rolled her eyes at me three times when I told her to move. Words were exchanged. Her smile may not have been as dazzling as normal because she was pissed at me.

I see a lot of myself academically in her. I think my interests were broader, but I see a similar streak of laziness and an unwillingness to put too much work in. She’s smart and knows it and thinks showing up is enough. I’m trying to teach her that even putting a little work in can turn those B+’s into A-’s, and A-’s into straight A’s. Like many of her classmates she got the worst grades of her St. P’s career this quarter. Since Christmas break she’s been awfully full of herself and extra dismissive of her sister’s 6th and 4th grade experiences. I’m hoping she shakes the attitude she’s had this quarter and finds more of her mother’s academic drive before she begins high school.

The transition from middle to high school is always big. I think it might be bigger when you’ve been in the same building, with the same classmates and friends, for nine years. Going to high school was no big deal for me. I had switched schools three times growing up, once in the middle of a school year. M has already expressed some concern about how quickly she’ll make friends at CHS and how she’ll miss a few of her best friends who are going to other high schools. I keep telling her she’s never had any trouble around kids her age, and being in a school of 1200+ kids presents so many more opportunities to meet new people and try new things. Still, I understand her worries. St. P’s is a small community in a building with two hallways. You can only get so lost there, and every teacher and administrator knows who every kid is and where they belong. For all the possibilities that CHS presents, there is also the potential to be anonymous and drift if you can’t find a group to latch on to.

I have a lot of worries about what the next four years hold – driving, boys, alcohol, drugs, emotional issues, shitheads who tear other people down – but the least of them is M finding a place where she fits in at CHS.

In a couple months we’ll begin the next chapter in our educational story. We’ll all get to learn a new set of routines and expectations at CHS. We’ll all likely be a little lost for awhile. And we’re also down to our final four years at St. P’s. I wouldn’t say M’s nine years there have flown. I can barely remember her first day and we’ve certainly packed a lot into her time. I have a feeling these next four years are going to pass at a much quicker pace.

Belated Holiday Wrap

A quick holiday weekend wrap up.

It was a strange Memorial Day weekend. For the first time since 2013 we were not at the lake. As the weekend got closer, it kept feeling very strange not to automatically have plans and to not have people asking us, “You going to the lake this weekend?” As other friends went off to their own lake homes, and as the temperature and humidity climbed, I did have a few moments of wishing we still had the house. Especially since L and I were right down the hill at camp Thursday and Friday.

Ahh, but then I remembered all the reasons I was so for getting rid of the lake house even before we bought our new home here and any regret quickly fell away.

We had a pretty laid back weekend at home. Saturday evening we had some of the local family over for a cookout. S and I are really enjoying her sisters having two and three year olds. Not that our girls don’t have their issues. In fact two of them got into it during our gathering Saturday. But with teens you yell at them, take away their phones, and send them to their rooms. With two year olds, however, they just keep sucking the life out of you. S and I tipped our drinks to each other a few times as one parent or another was getting frustrated by a toddler that wasn’t listening to them. Our only jobs are to make sure the kids don’t get into any dangerous situations and don’t get any food or drinks near our new furniture. The rest is on the parents.

Sunday was race day in Indy. We did what people in Indy who don’t go to the race do: projects around the house while listening to the race on the radio. I remember how weird I thought that was when I moved here. “You listen to a car race on the radio?!?!” Now it’s a regular part of my Memorial Day weekend. We were cleaning gutters when the Air Force flyover circled over our house twice, which was pretty cool. Later in the evening we went out with our old neighbors at a very cool area in Carmel. I swear, Carmel has gotten like 80% cooler in the 11 months since we’ve moved.

Monday L and I went out in the morning to play some golf. Well, she played foot golf while I played nine next to her on the pitch-n-putt course. The course was very wet since it has rained about 97 straight days here, so she struggled in her first attempt at foot golf. I told her to kick low line drives so they would roll, but the first time the ball hit the ground it would quickly get water-logged and come to a halt. She “kicked” a 40 or something like that. She’ll do better next time. It was also her first lesson in golf etiquette, which she didn’t always get. When I told her the ball farthest from the hole always hits first, she took that very literally. She thought I should walk behind the green and see how far my ball was from the hole before she kicked her ball that was short of the green. Luckily after a couple holes she caught on to the concept of ready golf.

Monday evening we went to a party for a nephew’s third birthday. He’s the first of the local boys to turn three, and his two younger buddies were both there. The birthday boy was very happy to share the unwrapping of his gifts with his cousins, which was a good thing since I’m not sure everyone understood it wasn’t their birthday, too. There was a lot of grabbing of bags and taking things out and then playing with new toys before the birthday boy even got a chance to see them. There were also some tears when gifts were taken away and given to the birthday boy. Again, S and I laughed and laughed, and got the hell out when things looked like they were spiraling out of control.

Summer has not begun for us. M is in school until Thursday. C and L go through next Tuesday. The schedule is stupid this year but, I must admit, I voted for it 18 months ago. Of course, I thought we would still own a lake house at the time and figured an extra weekend in August is better than one in early June. I’ll know better next time…


St. P’s fourth graders always make an overnight trip to CYO camp in the spring. Given L’s troubles with sleeping over at other people’s homes – she’s had one successful sleepover ever and shown no interest in trying again after her most recent meltdown last summer – I knew I would have to go along with her. Since M and C have both gone there multiple years in the summer, and always raved about their experience, I was moderately excited about the trip.

We headed down first thing Thursday morning. We totally lucked out on weather. In the last 20 minutes of our drive to camp – which is located about 90 minutes away, and 10 minutes from our old lake house – it absolutely poured. There were lightning strikes seemingly feet away from the highway. The mom who rode with me and I started wondering what the hell we were going to do if we were stuck in the cabins all day with a bunch of bored, hyper kids.

Fortunately the storm passed just before we arrived at camp and it didn’t rain again in our 30 or so hours there. It was, however, very muddy. Camp is built into some very hilly terrain and there were little rivers of run-off all over.

Three other parents and I had a group of 11 kids. Luckily for me two of the parents are good friends, so we could share snarky comments with each other. Our activities for the first day were canoeing/kayaking in the camp’s little pond, working on the circuit course of suspended ropes and wires, and archery. No canoes or kayaks were tipped over, no one fell off the circuit course, and no one was pierced during the archery. Solid day.

M and C have both told us how great the food at camp is. I’m not sure if they’re just so hungry in the summer that everything tastes better to them, or if being part of the last group of the school year meant we got whatever they needed to clean out of the freezer. Most of the food was pretty bad. Thursday night our dinner was “pulled pork” sandwiches. Not sure the “meat” was actually pork, and it certainly wasn’t pulled. It was a crumbly, tasteless mess that really didn’t resemble anything I’ve ever had before. Fortunately the salad and fruit bar was full of fresh items. The parents mostly loaded up there.

When bedtime rolled around I was hoping L would be so tired that she would just pass out. We were sharing a large cabin, but with the boys/dads on one side, girls/moms on the other. Bathrooms were in the middle and the sides were not open to each other. A couple of the moms know about L’s issues, so they were looking out for her. I hoped that would help, too. But at 10:45 I got summoned out to the front porch and found L there sobbing. I asked her what was wrong and she shrugged and said, “I don’t know!” This has become the routine on attempted sleepovers: whatever it is that stresses her out – nervousness at being away from home, general worrying, anger at herself for not being able to relax – gets her super wound up but she can’t articulate what the problem is.

I hugged her and told her she was in a safe place with lots of people who loved her. But, I said, we could not go home, I couldn’t sleep in her cabin, and she couldn’t sleep in mine. She was going to have to figure it out. I hugged her awhile longer, told her she could do it, and sent her back to her room.

We were trying to get the boys wound down at the same time. Official lights out was 11:00. My bunk was near the front door of the cabin. On the opposite side of the cabin was a heavy door that led to the bathrooms. For about the next hour someone opened or closed that bathroom door every 3.5 seconds. And every time I heard it open, I thought it was a mom coming through the front door to come get me because L was melting down. So I couldn’t relax and go to sleep, either. I tried listening to a podcast, but I brought my old bluetooth earbuds that die quickly, so that didn’t help. I yelled at a few boys who were acting like fools, but that didn’t help either.[1] I think it was well after 1:00 before I could relax and go to sleep.

Friday morning, as people started trickling out of the cabins, I asked moms how it went. Both who I talked to said it was rough. L was crying, could not relax, etc. One of them, who had tried to host her last summer, laid with L awhile but couldn’t get her to settle down. Finally L crawled in bed with one of her friends who also hates sleepovers and they talked until around 1:00 before they finally drifted off.

Oh, that reminds me, the other big event of the first day was one of L’s friends talked her into letting her braid her hair. As we headed out for the campfire portion of the night, all the boys and girls and parents were giggling and laughing when L came out with braids. I don’t think her hair has been braided in at least five years. I got a couple pictures and in both of them you can see kids in the background with incredulous looks on her face. She seemed to be ok with it, although she was pissed Friday morning that she couldn’t find her brush and had to leave them in. Something must have clicked, though. She asked S to braid her hair before we went to a birthday party on Monday. And Tuesday she woke up early so S could braid her hair again. She appears to have turned over a new leaf!

Friday we had three more activities. We played “camouflage,” which is basically hide and go seek although the seeker had to keep their hand on a tree. Hiders had 30 seconds to hide, when the seeker gave up they had 20 seconds to re-hide, and then if anyone was left, they had 10 seconds to be the first to touch the tree to take over. Parents joined in and this was pretty fun. I was always an all conference caliber hider so I enjoyed this.

We also had a craft session and did some pond ecology stuff that kind of went awry. I think our counselors were a little checked out with the holiday weekend ahead and summer camps starting in two weeks. Their enthusiasm level was a little low.

Our group was pretty good. We had a couple of the more troublesome kids, but these are kids with emotional/behavioral issues rather than little shitheads.[2] I can handle kids with legit issues way better than kids that are just dumbasses. We did have one kid that kept insisting he was ready to go home, faked getting sick, complained about walking up any hill, etc. A couple of us took turns dealing with him.

After lunch the kids played a couple more games, which included three kids absolutely wiping out in a muddy spot, and then packed up and headed home. Three of the four girls in my car were asleep before we were back on the Interstate.

I think L had a good time, other than the sleeping part. I asked her if she wanted to go back for a week in the summer and her eyes got big and she said, “NO!” thinking I was being serious. No way would we try that. Maybe she’ll figure out the sleeping away from home thing in time to go to college in eight years.

  1. L told me over the weekend, “All the boys in my grade are scared of you!” Nice!  ↩
  2. Shithead is a great word for kids who act out. C’s class is full of shitheads.  ↩

Friday Vid

“Summertime” – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

Apologies for the lateness; I spent the last two days with L down at CYO camp and just got home a little after 3:00 today. But it is Memorial Day weekend, so let’s kick off the summer of 2019 with the greatest summer song of all time.

Anatomy of an Obsession

Over the years I’ve had plenty of obsessions that dominate my attention and time. Sometimes it was a person – sorry to all the girls I was a little weird about back in the day. Sometimes it was a band – there’s a long list of artists that I got way into and would listen to, non-stop, for months at a time.

And sometimes it was an activity/hobby. Photography has been the most recent example. Before that there was modern electronics/tech in general, Apple products in particular. Running, Dungeons & Dragons, shortwave radio, Atari games, Pac-Man, the Star Wars universe, and baseball cars are others. There are dozens more I’m forgetting.

Over the last, what, eight months? I’ve shifted away from doing shit with my camera to wanting to hit golf balls. Thus I’ve turned over all the things I pay attention to that are ancillary to the main obsession and cause me to obsess even more. Through that process I’ve both examined how my addictions grow and laughed at myself for how deeply I fall for things that interest me.

Here’s a run-down of how my obsessions take over my life along with some observations of how they have changed over the years.

I’ve always been an information junkie. Throw in that I grew up as an only-child who was often confined to the house because my mom was constantly working, and from an early age I got creative in how to be obsessive within those constraints. I’m guessing it’s more fun to take on a new hobby when you have a sibling who is either interested in it, too, or that you can force to be interested in it. I learned how to make-do, though.

The first step was always reading everything I could find on a topic that interested me. I’d go to the library and check out books. At bookstores, I’d spend hours looking through the magazine racks finding issues that highlighted my interests, or searching the aisles for newer books than I could find at the library. Then I would read the hell out of this stuff. One thing about my family situation was that there wasn’t a ton of money to throw at whatever my latest infatuation was. So I often had to wait to get the gear I needed to actually start doing the activity. In the interim I always figured if I read everything available on the topic, I’d be ready to dive in once my birthday or Christmas rolled around and I received the equipment I needed. I wonder if there’s some master magazine subscription database somewhere in which I could look back and see how many strange magazines I had one-year subscriptions to because of one stupid hobby or another.

The modern addition to this is, clearly, the web. As my hobbies shift in my adult life, so too do the websites that I read and plug into my RSS reader. With social media eclipsing the traditional web for sharing information, I’ve rolled my interests into Twitter, Instagram, and the podcasts I listen to. Looking at all these accounts over time will show how my the people I follow wax and wane as my interests do the same.

If there is a TV angle, I’ll pull that in as well. When I was really into Italian soccer, I would tape the weekly highlights show that aired at something like 2:00 AM on the Prime Sports Network. The summers I’ve been most into baseball, I’m as likely to watch the programs dedicated to baseball news and discussing the game as the actual games. CNet used to have a really good computer show in the late ‘90s that I made sure I watched each week. In the case of golf, I’ve added the Golf Channel to my most watched channels after years of ignoring it.

I think most of us take on hobbies not just to participate in something, but as an excuse to buy things. No matter what your pastime is, there is always something shiny and new that you can go out and buy in hopes of making your experience better. I’ve tried to temper this a little bit, but when I was younger I would sign up for every catalog available for whatever I was interested in at the moment. Our mail carrier was probably like, “WTF is wrong with this kid?” after seeing all the random catalogs that he had to jam into our mailbox. I remember passing golf equipment catalogs around in class my freshman year of high school with other geeks.

My current version of that is stopping in at my local Golf Galaxy or the PGA Tour Superstore at least once a week. I don’t buy something every trip, but I will test putters for half an hour, look at club sets or clothes, all while trying to avoid the sales people who really want me to go through a club fitting. It is both more fun and more dangerous than flipping through catalogs. More fun as the products are right there in my hands. Dangerous since it is awfully easy to walk out having bought something I really don’t need.

It’s worth throwing eBay in, too. You can spend hours looking at used camera lenses or discontinued putters while doing the mental math on whether the savings is worth the possible issues with each item.

Put this all together and I realize that I often spend more time considering an obsession than actually doing it. That’s not unusual; the guy who rebuilds old cars on the weekend will likely spend more time from Monday through Friday planning for his projects, shopping for parts, etc. But my ratio is probably a little more extreme than most. Because of that, I often am better at knowing about things than doing them. I believe that all goes back to my childhood when I sometimes had to put the doing part off until my mom could afford the new toys I was interested in.

Anyway, I’ve laughed at myself a lot lately for how much time I spend thinking about golf. It has been funny to realize I’ve been doing that my entire life and there are clear patterns to how I do so, even if the technology changes.

Here are some of the ways I’m wasting time these days, mostly centering on golf.

Podcasts I listen to regularly:
General: Roderick on the Line, Back to Work, Road Work, Reconcilable Differences, Omnibus
Tech: Accidental Tech Podcast
Golf: No Laying Up, The Shotgun Start, Chasing Scratch, The Golfer’s Journal Podcast
Photography: The FujiCast

YouTube channels I subscribe to:
Golf: No Laying Up, plus a lot of random videos that get suggested
Photography: Denae & Andrew, Matt Day

Forums I Read: No Laying Up’s Refuge

Throw in books and magazines and S was telling the truth when she told her med school buddy we went out with awhile back, “Have D tell you about his new golf obsession.”

Reader’s Notebook, 5/21/19

Oh snap, somehow I’ve gone over a month without an RN entry. I’ll blow through my last four books to get caught up.

The Sisters Brothers – Patrick DeWitt
This is a tremendous and lovely tale of two West Coast gunmen – brothers Charlie and Eli Sisters – who prowl Oregon and California for a regional crime boss during the early days of the Gold Rush. Charles is the head of the crew, the tougher, meaner, and more manipulative brother. Our narrator, Eli, on the other hand, is thoughtful, regretful of his career, and really just wants to find a nice lady who will love his ugly ass. He also wishes Charlie didn’t know how to push his buttons so well when he has thoughts of defying him.

The Sisters brothers are sent on a mission to find a man who is in possession of a great discovery for finding gold that their patron wants. When they eventually track down their target, leaving a trail of bodies along the way, they both realize that the man hasn’t done anything wrong other than be smart enough to discover a chemical reaction before anyone else did. Eli’s more sensitive side wins the day and they decide to ignore their assignment and join forces with their target. Only to learn that the “discovery” – a concoction that when poured into rivers clearly shows the location of gold – is deadly toxic.

The book is funny, touching, and filled with the spirit of the Coen brothers.

The Feral Detective – Jonathan Lethem
Lethem has written some of my favorite novels of the past 25 years, most notably The Fortress of Solitude. His latest effort was greeted as an important book for the Trump era. For the first time ever, I was disappointed by his work.

Following Trump’s election, Phoebe Siegler quits her job as a fact checker at The New York Times as a form of protest. Just before inauguration day, she travels to California to help search for the daughter of her best friend, a college-aged girl who disappeared from her Oregon dorm room without a trace in the fall. Siegler meets Charlie Heist, a highly recommended but rather bizarre detective, who she has been told may have a lead.

Heist leads her into a hidden world in the desert where two off-the-grid movements are locked in a continuous battle with each other. Or something like that. Honestly, I had a ton of trouble sticking with Lethem’s story. I understand these two groups were supposed to be allegories for our current political climate. Maybe. But they weren’t all that interesting to me. And the story seemed clunky and confusing.

I wonder if Lethem was trying too hard. And perhaps critics who have given the book good reviews were trying too hard to support something that is anti-Trump. I hope the next important book of the era is better.

A Gentleman’s Game – Tom Coyne
I’ve become a fan of Coyne for his work on The Golfer’s Journal podcast, and read his A Course Called Ireland book last fall. My plan for this summer is to read through his other golf books, and I figured I would start with his first, this novel about a boy with a gift for the game coming of age.

I had heard Coyne talk about this book before, and his admissions that he tried to throw in everything he learned while getting his MFA. That’s an apt description of how it reads. There’s a nice core story about the golfing prodigy, his efforts to connect with his distant father, how he tries to bridge the gap between being the son of a country club member and his job as a caddy, and some higher level generational and socio-economic conflicts. But sometimes Coyne tries too hard, or the connections he seeks just aren’t there. It’s good to know his writing gets better.

An Absolutely Remarkable Thing – Hank Green
Can the younger brother of John Green be as talented as the author of The Fault in Our Stars? Based on one book, I’ll say he absolutely can be.

This is one of my favorite books I’ve read so far this year.

It reads as the memoir of April May, a 23-year-old in New York with an art degree who is working at a soulless start up to try to afford living in Manhattan. Late one night – or actually early one morning – her subway card doesn’t work and she’s forced to walk back to her office. That’s when she discovers an absolutely remarkable thing: a huge, Transformer-like statue stationed in front of a Chipotle. In very New York fashion, everyone else on the street seems to be ignoring it. She calls a friend who is skilled at video, they record something quickly, and post it to YouTube. Next thing you know, April is a world-wide phenomenon.

Green takes the story in two directions from here. First, there is the unraveling of the main plot. Where is the robot, which April calls Carl, from? And why did 63 others suddenly appear around the world? Why don’t they move or make noise? Why can’t they be moved, no matter how much force is applied to them? Why do people all around the world seem to be having the same, deeply complex dream? If the Carls are from another planet, what is their intent?

Second is a bigger social critique of our addiction to, and reliance on, social media, how we’ve devalued the traditional news media and turned it into a circus of people shouting at each other, how we are programmed to take the word of people we are physically attracted to, and how arguments that have nothing to do with politics are often used to divide people into the same camps that we argue about politics in. Green began writing this book long before Trump but I think he makes some of the arguments Jonathan Lethem wanted to make about our times far better than Lethem did.

The book is at turns hilarious, chilling, maddening, cute, sobering, and inspiring. Although not slotted into YA lit like his brother’s works, Hank Green certainly has some elements of that genre in his writing. Although the book ends with a rather huge cliffhanger that sets up a sequel, I’m almost disappointed this won’t be a stand-alone work. I like the questions it leaves unresolved. And while this may be unfair to Green, I don’t know if he can pull off the second half of this sci-fi mystery as well as he did the first.

Friday Vid

“Beautiful Stranger” – DMA’s covering Madonna.
Just a video today. We had a huge, surprise storm blow through between 5:00 and 5:30 yesterday afternoon. Our power went out at exactly 5:32 and did not come back on until 4:45 this morning. Thus I’m scrambling a little this morning, and have to be at school for the annual Walkathon shortly. We were lucky; we only lost a few tree branches. There are houses very close to us with huge, old trees lying on their roofs. There are streets blocked everywhere. I can hear chainsaws and tree chippers from all directions. Power was still off for over 11,000 people in Indy last time I checked.

Anyway, a buddy sent this to me earlier this week. It didn’t hit me at first what the original was. Then, I had a High Fidelity moment: “Is that fucking Madonna?” I think this is tremendous.

End of the Sports Year

We wrapped up the spring kid sports season last night with the City track finals.

C had a very good night.

She first ran in the final of the 400. Looking at the preliminary times I figured her best chance for a high placement was in the 200. She was fighting a cold and coughing/sneezing a lot, so I told her before this race that if she was struggling it was ok to back off and save some strength for the 200.

I regretted that advice when she fell into 8th place – out of eight runners – at about the 200 meter mark. But she battled back and caught the girl who passed her pretty quickly, then ran down another girl before the finish. I actually thought she was 7th at first and didn’t realize she was 6th until I saw the official results. A spot lower than where she qualified, but she also dropped almost two seconds off her best time so it was a great run.

The finals meet moves quick so she only had about 10 minutes before she started staging for the 200. I reminded her how the top five runners were all within a second in qualifying – she was fifth – and she was fully capable of catching the girls in front of her.

She’s usually a slow starter and runs people down late, but she got off to a great start and was fourth coming into the main stretch. She passed one girl and then had a very strong final 50 to finish third, just behind the second place runner. Her time was actually slower than her prelim time but jumping up to top three was awesome! Especially since this was only the second time she had run the 200 in a meet. As a bonus, she beat a girl who shares her name who had beaten her in every race they had matched up in this year.[1]

She was very happy when I caught up to her, a big smile on her face as she accepted high fives from teammates and friends. I made sure she had one more 200 in her, as she had the third leg of the medley relay.

We knew that relay would be trouble. The first two 100 legs would likely put us in a hole. And the 400 leg would be against the fastest 800/1600 runner in the state. There was just a little pressure on C to have a good run.

As expected we were in fourth – of five – teams when C got the stick. I wish I would have clocked her because she freaking blew the doors off her 200. She caught two girls before she finished the turn, passed the leader with 75 meters to go, and absolutely destroyed the last 50. When she passed it off to the anchor we had about a 30 yard lead. I’m pretty sure I lost most of my voice yelling at her during this run.

Our anchor is faster than C in the 400, and a stubborn, hyper-competitive spit-fire, as her mom calls her. She tried her hardest and held the lead for about 300 meters. But the girl chasing her had knocked five seconds off a 15-year old meet record in the 1600 earlier in the day. She’s just a freakishly good and fast runner. She caught us at the end of turn four and our anchor just didn’t have enough to chase her down. We finished second by nearly two seconds. The team that won the other heat was almost eight seconds faster than our girls, so they finished third overall.

It was a great end to C’s first year in track. I’ve mentioned this many times when sharing her cross country exploits, but she runs a little funny. Very powerful, choppy steps that aren’t terribly efficient. But they move her quickly so we haven’t messed with it. Her track coaches have worked with her a little on her form, focusing on getting her to use her arms more, saying that the legs will follow if she can learn to pump the upper body. Several people came up to me last night and said, “She was really using her arms in the relay!” So looks like she’s making progress.

I was thrilled with her finishes yesterday. I’m happy that she really enjoys track. But what I love most is what I mentioned in the footnote about the girl she beat in the 200. Any time she’s staging for a race, you see her talking to the girls next to her. Afterward I’ll ask what they were talking about and she’ll say, “Oh, we were just talking. She’s really nice.” I love how even though she’s competitive she almost always sees the good in others. There are some girls she will tell us are mean, but she stays away from them. I hope those girls she does talk to are telling their parents that C is nice, too.

And now the calendar is clear! No practices, no games. We do have kickball evaluations next week, but those are after school. No running anyone around until C starts cross country in July.

  1. I will note that C says her namesake is very nice and I like how they are always chatting and smiling before and after races.  ↩


Yesterday was the fourth time one of our girls played in a kickball City Championship game.

For the fourth time, we played our worst game of the year and walked away losers.

L’s team got waxed pretty good, 20–4, and it really wasn’t that close.

The team they played was solid at the plate and really good in the field. They only had a couple girls who could really blast the ball, but every other girl knew how to either kick away from the defense or to the spot that forced the defense to make a tough play. Our girls have been fantastic on defense this year but they made just enough mistakes to put us in a hole early. Then they could never get anything going on offense and the result was not in question after about the third inning.

So much of this game reminded me of some of M’s City title games. We got down early, and you could see our girls tightening up. There were those bobbles in the field, something M’s team always and only did in championship games. And we were cursed by the big roster. You play ten in the field in kickball, but everyone kicks. Because we weren’t putting long innings together and have a roster of 16, we didn’t make it through our entire lineup two full times. Our last kicker was on deck for her second attempt when the final out was made. Which meant L and our other big kickers only kicked twice. Unless you’re perfect in the field, you can’t win that way. Same blueprint as two of M’s City losses.

L did ok. She had two singles. Her first kick was solid. It could have been caught but they only knocked it down and were able to keep the runner in front of L from advancing, which kept L at first. Her second kick was down the third base line and kept in the infield. She told me before the game she was nervous and it showed in her kicking.

The team we played had a couple girls that looked more like sixth graders. Seriously, one of them was almost as tall as their coach. One of L’s teammates has cousins at that school and she said she was going to check their yearbooks to make sure those girls really were fourth graders. A little late if they’re not!

The other bonus was this team was coached by the crazy coach C’s team played against earlier this year. We were walking in at the same time and she did a double-take, “Where do I know you from?” she asked. “I coach our sixth grade team. You beat the crap out of us last month.” As she was after C’s game, she was super nice in the few moments we chatted. But, man, during the game she is turnt up, as the kids once said. I was glad I was on the opposite side of the diamond from her this time.

So we are now 0–5 in City playoff games as a family, all the losses coming to teams from the south side of Indy. Seriously, there’s something in the water down there because they just eat up good teams from the north side. Looks like we’ll need another combination of craziness like M’s team had last year to ever win another City title.

There was some pressure on this group because we’re pretty sure it’s the last time all of the best girls will play kickball. We’re still debating whether to move L into a more competitive soccer league next fall. Another good player runs cross country and plays competitive lacrosse and we’re not sure if she’ll come back. Two other players are at the point with softball where they will start playing year-round travel ball.

If this was it for them as a whole class, it was a great season with a disappointing finish.

Oh, one thing I forgot to add to my weekend wrap: C’s kickball team won their last game of the season last week! After two close calls – games we really should have won – we avoided going 0-fer with a five-run win. The girls were all super excited. And I think they were done with the head coach and I. We were a little intense in the last couple innings as we tried to will them to the win. Two girls in the field who kept getting in each other’s way were especially done with us. But, hey, we got the Dub!

C finished a fantastic individual year with another home run, a couple more runs, and some more great plays in the field. Her dad coaching third did run her into an out, though, when he fell asleep. She was flying around second and my focus was on the runner in front of her, who was dragging ass. I was yelling at her to move it as C approached third. A defender was chasing but I assumed she would dump the ball off to the pitcher to end the play. Instead she cut toward C and had a great angle. I yelled at C to stop, she skidded, ended up on her ass, and was then tagged out. I quickly told her it was my fault as she wiped away tears of pain because of her skinned palms. She nodded and walked away wordlessly. I seriously don’t think anyone has ever run her down on the bases so I think she was pissed about that more than the pain in her hands. But it was totally on dad, which she forgave me for later. Thank goodness we didn’t lose by one!

« Older posts

© 2023 D's Notebook

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑