Go Team Go!

Recently a regional professional sports team won their league title – you know the best thing that could ever happen to their team.  I understand that that’s a big deal.  Afterall, achieving the best you can in your chosen profession is always pretty damn cool.  What I don’t relate to is the reaction of so many of the fans.  And for this I will be criticized and will offend a large number of people.

Here’s the thing.  There was a parade.  A parade in which hundreds of thousands of people attended – to watch people they don’t personally know drive around a giant trophy.  It was blistering hot, and a weekday.

Yet, earlier in the spring, the remains of an POW/MIA Korean War Vet was returned to his family.  I heard about it on social media and the radio, there was a request to line the route and fly a flag as the convoy passed.  However, there was no traffic jam, there were not thousands, not even hundreds, of people lining the streets.  Honestly, the only evidence I saw just an hour later was an American flag, that previously wasn’t there, hanging from a local business.

And let’s not forget the people who daily do amazing things, but rarely get recognized  – the surgeon who saved my neighbor’s life, the teachers who helped your kids get through a rough spell in their life, the garbage collector who collects our refuse, the maintenance crew that shows up when a water line breaks, the friend who saves a stray animal, the kid who shovels their elderly neighbor’s walkway without being asked.

Again, I’m not trying to belittle the achievement of the team that won their league “We’re number 1” title.  Instead, I want to ask you to think about how you react to that, after all, it’s very likely that you had nothing to do with their victory.  But celebrate, it’s always fun, and I get the excitement behind it – after all, sports provide some of our best entertainment.

In general, we like to know that people are cheering us on, be it in a business venture, a friendly competition, a performance, or a league title.  And believe me, if my nieces and nephews lived closer, I’d be trying to get to a few of their events to cheer them on – be it an athletic event, spelling bee, or dance recital.  Because, again, it’s nice to know we’re being supported by those who know us.

What I don’t understand is why so many people think having a “winning” professional sports team in the area is such a great thing for the children.  “Think of the kids!  They got to see their team win!  It’s so inspiring!”  First of all, it’s not “their team”; their team is the one they play on through their school or the local organization that is home to the field/arena on which they practice and play.  Secondly, how is watching a group of paid, adult athletes  who are done developing physically, and with resources the kid will most likely never have access to, inspiring?  I understand that it can be inspiring to watch someone play the game well.  But to put so much emphasis on a team or player at a level which so very few can ever attain, just seems silly to me.

Which brings me to a bigger question, especially if you’re a Christian and have ever, EVER, accused someone of worshiping a false god: Are you simply a fan of the team, or are you worshiping them?  I know that sounds harsh, but if that question ruffles your feathers, you might want to ask yourself why it agitates you.  If you are a Christian, ask yourself, if the parade were held on a Sunday, would you have skipped church for it?  It’s a slippery slope, being a fan vs. worshiping a false god.

Many of the Christians I know often use the word “idolatry” when referring to money, greed, keeping up with the Joneses, pride, or vanity.  But how often do we use the word “idol” and forget that it designates the object/person being idolized, meaning, it’s a form of idolatry.   Sure, it’s good to have people to look up to, even idolize, as we all need a goal, something to strive for, or a person to inspire us to do better.  But at what point does it become more than that?

Unfortunately, I see way too many people, regardless of religious affiliation, who act in ways that treat professional sports teams and players as if they are gods to be worshiped.  Are your religious rituals much different from your sports rituals?  Both have designated locations, suggested attire, chants or songs, food or culinary expectations and rituals, and strong affiliations.  I can just imagine an alien life form viewing our broadcasts and labeling the planet based on professional teams as religious sects?

“Hmm, it looks like the major religious beliefs are based on a checkered round ball, but this continent seems to have adapted it to a pointy oval one.  And across the planet there seem to be variations on the round ball, they aren’t all colored and they come in different sizes, some groups kick it, some hit it with an object.”

“Agreed.   I can’t seem to keep the different sects separate.  It looks like the prominent biped species shows their allegiance by wearing and displaying the colors and symbols of the sect they follow.  A large number of them have shrines in their home and have rituals they must follow before the clergy meet.  And the sects do seem somewhat regional with missionary type pockets around the planet. “

“True, but I haven’t yet figured out what the primary clergy are trying to accomplish when they meet.  They seem to schedule meetings of different sects during certain seasons.  But I’m not sure how the outcome is interpreted by the followers or what the different types of clergy are trying to to do during the meetings.  And why are some sects physically violent, but not others?”

Silly?  Yes.  Harsh?  Probably.  But again, I’m not against sports; team sports are a great way for people to build relationships and learn to work together, and all sports offer physical exercise, which many of us don’t get enough of.  Don’t even tell me that you think I’m jelous – because let’s face it, the odds of anyone making it to a professional sports team is pretty slim (The Goat has done the math).  And I’m also not against being a fan of anything – I’ve got favorite bands and musicians, authors, foods, restaurants, etc.  And I will gladly tell people about them when asked or the topic comes up.  It’s the level of fanaticism, bordering on idolatry, so many people have towards pro teams that I don’t understand.

If you have a favorite team, by all means, keep cheering them on – especially your little league and local minor league teams.  Please just remember that for many of us, including most sports fans, a victory will most likely only minimally affect your daily life, if at all.  Tired or hungover because you stayed up to watch the game?  You probably still need to get up the next day and go about your routine; just like those who were up to late with a sick kid,  someone who made a trip to the ER, parents waiting for their teens to get home safely, and everyone else who was going about life as usual.

I’m not trying to villainize sports fans, or take a righteous high road.  I’m just looking at it from a different perspective, albeit a minority perspective.  But then again, if I were born ages ago, you probably wouldn’t have found be at the Coliseum watching gladiators either.  Go Team Go!

 

I’ll let the dog out.

untitled.pngTwo Saturdays ago, our schedules changed abruptly.  We got a 3 year old Airedale Terrier named Charlie Brown.  He’s been a jumping, wriggling, bounding, bundle of fun – and my glasses will never be clean again.  After losing The Jasmanian Devil a year ago, The Goat and I had fallen into a less regimented schedule, simply because neither one of us had to get home to let the dog out.

I now have a walking companion every evening – and I needed to get back into that routine.  I’m spending more time in the yard playing fetch, which means the gardens are getting the attention they need much more regularly, and the list of chores is remaining manageable.  (Despite a friend’s disbelief, it’s quite easy to play fetch and get work done…especially when Charlie drops the toy on the pile of weeds.)

Because he’s so busy and bouncy, instead of vegging out while watching Netflix,  I find myself doing the little chores around the house that tend to pile up until I think “When am I ever going to get this all done?” – things like changing the winter/summer curtains, moving plants outside, and even the dishes.  However, my crocheting and knitting is falling behind – not a good thing for a yarn shop owner, but I’ll survive.

But, I have started wondering, as we’ve had to adjust our schedules, when we had Jasmine, how did we do everything?  Without a dog, we just stopped paying attention to the timing of things, I guess.  It’s odd, little things, that made me notice how we adapted to being dog-less.  It’s amazing how quickly one adjusts to changes – the good and the bad.

I had fallen into the habit of stopping at the grocery store a few times a week to pick up items for the next few days and only making a large, staple restocking trip every few weeks.  I need to get back into the habit of thinking ahead a week or two when grocery shopping.  I had stopped thinking about whether or not The Goat would be home to let the dog out during an evening class at my shop.  The Goat and I had stopped coordinating our schedules, because it didn’t matter if our schedules conflicted.

Because I was feeling antisocial and needed to drag myself out of that rut, I had started to try and squeeze a few extra social activities into my schedule.  But I was still having a difficult time making my schedule work – even without the excuse of needing to let the dog out.   However, because of Charlie and having to readjust to a new schedule, I may need to rethink a few things.  And that’s ok, as I was already questioning whether or not a couple of the organizations were worth my time.

Let’s face it, the work week is changing for many of us.  Retail, education, healthcare, telecommuting, independent contractors – the workforce is changing.  Neither The Goat nor I work a “regular” 9 – 5 job.  And this sometimes conflicts with activities; since most organizations plan things around the 9-5 M/F work schedule.   And to be honest, organizers need to plan things based on something – why not use a common standard like 9-5 M/F?

I try not to let my schedule conflicts bother me, because I made the choice to open my business, and I chose the days and times I’m open based on what is most logical and effective for a small specialty retail store like mine.  I know it’s not the organizers’ fault that I can’t participate in something due to my shop schedule, as we’re often trying to accommodate the same people – those who have a 9-5 M/F work week.  And I don’t feel that it’s fair for me to question an organization’s schedule, as I’m not any more important than anyone else and I understand planning for the largest participant base.

It’s no one’s fault, it’s just how things work.  Like most people, I tend to plan things like doctor’s appointments, scheduled car repairs, and other errands around my work week – which being in retail, means that those few extra activities I should be able to attend still get brushed aside and I often miss out on things I used to enjoy doing, and probably still would.  It also means that my circle of friends has shrunk, because I’m not able to participate in activities or socialize with like minded people like I used to; and my resume has gotten shorter, due to a lack of volunteering opportunities.

But now that there’s a dog that needs let out and tended to every day,  I’ve got a more exciting excuse than “Sorry, I have to work.”  I can reevaluate those activities that I have had a difficult time squeezing into my schedule;  and I can simply say no to them without feeling like I didn’t try hard enough to squeeze them in.  And believe me, I tried.

As for my social life?  My shop provides me with an ample supply of creative souls to socialize with and The Goat and I have a handful of good friends we spend time with regularly.

And my resume?  I think it’ll look ok if I ever need to update it, after all, I do own my own business.

So I think I’m ok with limiting my schedule because I need to let the dog out.  And I know that Charlie is ok with that decision too.

charlieMay2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ll vote for the possible!

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My mind’s been reeling lately, there’s so much happening worldwide, nationally, locally, and personally.  It can get to be overwhelming.  It doesn’t help that along with rhododendrons, flowering trees, crocuses, and daffodils, campaign signs are springing forth.

Our local primaries will be May 16th.  Mark your calendars; and if you aren’t in Pennsylvania, find out when yours are and mark your calendar accordingly.  While the nation may seem to be falling apart, we can still show up en masse  and voice our opinion locally; because lets face it, the local election results are often what hurt, or help, us first – as they are the elections that determine who will govern and make the local laws, ordinances, and policies that we deal with on a daily, and often, more personal level.

Locally there’s a mayoral race that could get ugly.  And like the November election, I’m shocked at how many campaign signs are springing up in support of someone whom I view as not worthy of the title of “Mayor”.  This may be one of the few times that I make an effort to contact a campaign and put a sign in our yard – I probably won’t, but the fact that I’m thinking about is says something about the race and how strongly I feel about the candidates.  Heck, I might even go to the debates, just to watch the circus – wonder if they’ll sell popcorn (I could pull a Lorelai Gilmore and bring my own*)?

I had been registered as an independent until the last Presidential primaries when I wanted to vote for a major party candidate in the primaries.  For that reason I finally picked a party and changed my party affiliation from Independent to Democrat.   Right now in the local mayoral race, there are 4 candidates.  The hot mayoral primary race will be on the Republican ticket where the incumbent and two contenders are running.  Since in PA you can only vote on/for candidates on the ticket for which you are registered, I can’t vote in the Republican race.  I’m not thrilled about the democratic candidate, so I need to research whether or not you can write in a name from the other party and still have my vote count.  That might be the loophole I’m looking for.

So why is this such a big race?  Because we live in a small city with big city problems.  Because the city has so much potential but many want to try to recreate and relive in the glory days of their youth.  Because many don’t want to try and combine heritage and history with progress.  And because, like many cities of our size, we’re broke.

I don’t believe I’m being naïve when I downplay the problems in the city we call home.  The Goat and I have lived in this city for 20 + years.  Yes, we’ve got crime but I’ve never felt threatened when taking my morning or evening walk around the neighborhood(s).  It’s hard getting along with everyone when we you live in such close proximity to one another, but my neighbors help each other out, chat with one another across the street or from porch to porch, and the kids play games across multiple yards.  It’s an urban setting,  but I just spent the weekend raking leaves.  We have a drug problem, but so does most of the nation – be it heroin or prescribed medicines; the solution is out there and like the rest of the nation, it may just take some time to find it.

Yes, there are problems.  But there are good things too – our hospital, public transportation, a varied selection of stores and businesses near the Main Street corridor, paid fire company, a police force that’s active in the community, a large public library, a wide selection of houses of worship, the YMCA and YWCA, an active community theater group, a decent park system for a city of it’s size, a community based farmer’s market, a rail-trail that links to a neighboring community, a minor league baseball team and stadium…

You get the idea.  So for me, this May’s primary election is about the possibilities, not the problems.  I hope it is for you too.  I’ve found that when you focus on the problems, especially in an election, the negativity starts to take over and solutions seem more difficult to find and/or implement.  When you vote for the possible, the problems are often solved in ways that are creative, effective, and life changing.  Even if you aren’t in our area, when you go to your primaries, vote for the possible!

 

*Lorelai Gilmore is a fictional character from the television show “Gilmore Girls” who would stash snacks, including popcorn,  in her bag when she attended town meetings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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