Thursday, November 3, 2016

The fulfillment of a dream

"It happened in my lifetime."  --My dad
Last night (actually, very early this morning) the Chicago Cubs won the World Series for the first time in 108 years.

Yep, that's what this is about.

Chris and I aren't big sports fans. We don't really follow teams, keep stats, even know who the players are.

But I will always root for the Cubs. Even though it's just a passing 'hey, they won yesterday'. Because being a Cubs fan runs in the family. It's in my blood.

My great-grandfather was at the famous World Series game in 1932 when Babe Ruth called his shot.

My grandpa was a die-hard Cubs fan his entire life. He was born 2 years after the Cubs won their previous World Series in 1908. He died having never seen them win a World Series.

My dad was born after the Cubs made their last World Series appearance in 1945.

There was a time back in the 90s when we spent a weekend every January at the Cubs convention. We got to meet some of the new players (Kerry Wood and Pat Cline before their major league debuts). We listened to panels with favorite players past and present (1984 Cubs were always our favorites). We walked down the hall next to Mr. Cub himself, Ernie Banks.

Photo of my dad holding my then one year old son who is wearing Grandpa's Cubs hat
Passing the tradition to the next generation
A few weeks ago my dad wore his Cubs gear and flew his W flag to celebrate the Cubs winning the National League title. He hasn't worn his Cubs shirt or hat, or watched a game, all season.

Sports fans, especially Cubs fans, will recognize his superstition, since the Cubs have played great all season... when he hasn't watched the games. He would have loved to watch his beloved Cubs play, especially this season. But it was more important for him that they win.

Today I talked to my dad on the phone. He turned on the game last night just for a few minutes in the 9th inning.... and things went badly. So he turned the tv off again, grateful for the text updates from my niece and nephew, who stayed up to watch the game and kept their grandpa informed. (They're good kids.)

He didn't get to see the Cubs win. He gets to find highlights of the game online today (yay for living in the future where he can see the final out, even though he didn't watch the game!) and fly his W flag with pride. And pick up a world championship t-shirt.

And next year, well, next year he says he might watch a game or two since they've won a World Series once in his lifetime. They've broken the curse and if his watching means they lose an occasional game, well, there's always next year.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

A dysfunctional relationship

This post, Fandom is Broken, on Birth. Movies. Death., has been making the rounds today.

Just as in life, sometimes the things we love end, or change, or turn out not to be what we thought. And just like in life, we need to adjust and deal with that. The current state where fans try to change the thing they love, molding it into exactly the image they want it to be rather than accept it the way the creator made it is kind of a metaphor for relationships, in a way. Broken, controlling, dysfunctional relationship.

Fandom or Dysfunctional Relationship?

  • 'Loving' someone or something so much that you try to change them/it into some perfect ideal rather than accepting them/it as is, flaws and imperfections and all
  • Feeling possessive, a sense of ownership
  • A feeling of rage (not just sadness) when it's over
  • Feeling betrayed when the someone or something changes or turns out to be different than expected
Many shows I have loved have been cancelled, and I've been sad. Sometimes I've wished they could have more time. But the older I get, the more I realize that maybe, sometimes, its good for a show to end 'too soon', when it's still at the top. I have memories of perfection, before the writers struggled for ideas and the show got stale*. 

Sometimes a show, or book series, or whatever, takes a turn I didn't expect and maybe don't particularly like. Sometimes I trust that the creator knows what's best and I see where the new direction will lead. Sometimes I decide it just isn't for me anymore. 

It's great that people are devoted fans of whatever they are fans of. I have my fandoms too. But smothering something you love doesn't allow it to grow, and flourish, and continue. Smothering it kills it. 

If you love it, let it be.

* The more time that passes, the more I realize that, for example, Firefly will always be that one perfect season. There will always be the what could have been. But the show never 'jumped the shark'. It never got stale. It's forever a wonderful memory I can revisit.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Stress, exhaustion, and limits

The past two weeks have been very busy and stressful for me. I've been taking two programming courses--an intensive, 2-week Python course and a 6-week PHP course. Programming does not come naturally to me.

I've actually kind of enjoyed the Python course. The syntax is simple enough that I felt like I could concentrate on the logic. Some concepts just made sense while others are still sinking in.

Some of the homework assignments were quick to complete and others took several hours. There was a homework assignment each day plus the lab tasks if I didn't finish them during class. Class met Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday last week and this week.

Simultaneously, I have been taking the PHP course, which meets Monday and Wednesday until mid-June. Once again, there is a homework assignment after each class.

So Wednesdays, when I spent 3 hours in the morning learning Python, grabbed a quick lunch, then spent another 1.5 hours learning PHP, have been crazy, exhausting, and stressful. Also, confusing, as I try to keep the different syntaxes straight.

So as not to fall behind and to keep the concepts as fresh as possible when doing homework, I have pretty much spent each afternoon and evening after class working on the homework assignment from that day (although the Wednesday PHP assignment has been falling to Friday because I just didn't have the brainpower to do both assignments on one day). But, my Python course is now over, which means the next four weeks should be a little easier.

I know I've been stressed trying to keep everything juggled. I was so exhausted last night after the a day of both classes, coming home and doing the Python homework, that I went to bed just after 9. I only made it that late because I had to finish the assignment.

Each semester is its own bit of stress, balancing classes, homework, reading for class, kids, and everything else. I'm only a part-time student. I only take one or two classes each semester rather than a full-time load of three. I know three would break me.

And I'm old enough and wise enough to know that I shouldn't do that. My mental health is worth something to me, and graduate school is not designed with mental health in mind. Each semester there are 'relaxation nights' and 'destress workshops' and whatnot. But really, those are pretty much a joke. Because balancing a full load of courses with the amount of reading and coursework, plus the part- or full-time jobs many students have, plus families..... I have the luxury of taking my time to get my degree, which not everyone can do.

I'm getting better at saying no. Recently I was asked about taking a position on the PTO at the boys' school next year. I told them I just couldn't take anything else on. Despite the assurances that it doesn't involve much work, I just can't commit to it. I can't add another obligation that I'll have to juggle, constantly feeling like I'm not doing any of it well.

It seems to be a female thing, thinking we have to take everything on. I'm not a superwoman. I have my limits. Someone else may be able to juggle more than I am, but I can't. And that's okay.

I'm happier when I'm not exhausted, cranky, stressed. I've had a job that drove me to tears from stress. I occasionally have weeks where I am stressed with school work. But I don't need to add to it. I know my limits. And I don't have anything to prove.