31 October 2014

Sweet Dreams are Made of This

“Dreams, you know, are what you wake up from.” -Raymond Carver.

Woke up again today. And here I was. Day off. Breakfast. Went to gym. Walked in the rain. Crossramp, treadmill, stair master, weights. Home for smoothie. Then to movie. Watched. Stopped at bookstore. Bought. Home again. Dinner. TV.  Now writing. These are the words I’ve written and they come in the wake of thoughts that I’ve entertained.

Now I can hear our neighbor. A relentlessly cheerful young man with three young children. His wife is a very nice woman with an unfortunate nasal midwestern voice. They are leading around a group of small children who are loudly and happily trick or treating. Some people don’t like Halloween or Valentine’s Day or Christmas. They want everyday to be March 18th. The same. Heaven forbid young people go cavorting about in costume enjoying something different. And they call me a curmudgeon.

More trick or treaters at the door. My wife handles the candy distribution. She enjoys it. Me, I’m happy for them to come but I sit out the festivities. The downside to Halloween is all the left over candy that I eat, even before it is left over. Like the overwhelming majority of people in this country today I have a rather sizable sweet tooth.

It’s been a bit of a struggle in recent years to keep myself away from sweet fattening foods. I indulge in ice cream when there is cause for celebration provided by the world of sports. I had a mighty big cause for whooping and hollering and leaping about two days ago when my beloved baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, claimed their third World Series title in five years. As a friend said, it never gets old.

The phrase walking on air best encapsulates how I felt yesterday and that euphoria has only a faded a whit today.

The Giants playoff run lasted almost all of October. That was a solid month of pacing and fretting and fist pumping and dancing jigs. When the World Series made it to a 7th game I was a wreck and could barely watch. When with two outs in the ninth inning a Royal reached third in a one-run ball game I feared the worst. When he popped out I broke into a happy celebration that included lifting oldest daughter perilously close to the ceiling. As much as joy, I felt relief that it was all at last over and that on top of it ending the outcome was perfect. Madison Bumgarner is an amazing baseball player and will live forever in World Series lore.

Sports spectating can be cruel. I have learned over the course of decades of following my favorite teams not to let a loss of any kind ruin my day. I’m pretty good about this now. I don’t throw hissy fits or collapse into depression when my teams falter no matter how excruciating the defeat. (Cal football has provided many tests of my resolve, twice this year alone.) But a World Series run stretched out as long as it is and with games lasting well over three hours each starts to gnaw at one’s nerves no matter that ice water runs through the veins.

Sports has done irreparable damage to players, fans, economies, psyches, budgets and communities. But it has also been a great healing force and a means of enrichment for all of those as well. I refuse to argue sports with people. I refuse to tease or taunt other fans or be teased or taunted and I refuse to be sucked into following every sport and every team under the sun. I reserve my viewing and attending to the Giants and Arsenal — an English soccer team — and Cal’s football and women’s and men’s basketball teams. I no longer follow the NBA, tennis, the NFL or any other college teams or sports. ( I do occasionally check on the San Jose Sharks of the NHL.)

There is far too much else to do.

But I love when sports causes strangers to high five and acquaintances to hug and people to relieve some of the stress of their day and escape into a game. I love the beauty of athletes making incredible plays and teams succeeding through cooperation and spirit. I love the roar of a home crowd.

I've been planning or writing about the best ever film about being a sports fan and promise to do so in November. A month which the calendar tells me will start tomorrow. I may also write about the film I saw in the theater today. It was damn good and well worth scribbling about. Happy days.

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