convos with strangers

conversations with strangers #19

i am still talking to strangers.

i was sitting at the bar with two fellows who are kind of coworkers, but kind of not. the details of that don’t matter here. the point is, we were having a meeting to discuss an upcoming event which we are planning. because we were at the bar and because it was a thursday night, we got off topic.

coworker 1: i used to have season tickets to the patriots. *proceeds to talk about the glory days, which were full of as much glory and gore as you’d expect of 25 guys with football tickets.*

me: i’ve only been to one game, but it was an awesome one. actually, it was [another “coworker”] who invited me. i was probably the eighth person he asked, but that means seven people before me said no and i got the green light. [two other coworkers] went with me. so fun!

bartender: now there’s a positive attitude.

me: well, it’s true. i’m just happy i got to go. it’s the only football game i’ve been to and it was a complete blast.

coworker 2: with the motley crew you went with, i’m sure it was nothing but trouble.

me: you have a point there, sir.

the meeting eventually got back on track after further discussions of the other boston area sports teams, but what struck me was the bartender’s interjection. it was a quiet night at the bar and the three of us were a very random and lively crew, but it never occurred to me that he was listening in and that he might be the one to initiate a conversation or that i might be the one labeled as the stranger.


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writing through the wall (or writing 101)

i don’t know why or where or how i was under the impression that you only had to break through writer’s block just one time and that once you were through, it was all SUNSHINE and HAPPY THINGS and TRA LA LA LA LA all the time from your fingertips.

not so. oh, not so. you have to break through that wall EVERY. SINGLE. TIME you sit down to write.


this post by jessica corra explains it all so much more eloquently, especially the part where she relates it to sports, specifically running. just because i hit 3 miles yesterday doesn’t mean that running today is going to be easy. i mean, it might. the weather might be cool and crisp and my legs might be fresh, but then again, the humidity might be solid and my legs could feel like that as well. who knows? all i know is that i have to push through and keep running because once i’m done that’s when i feel all ENDORPHINEY and SHINY and TRA LA LA LA LA LA and GOOD.

i want to get to that place from writing and the only way to do so is to finish. and to finish, i have to start. each day (or, you know, most days). word by word and sentence by sentence, the pages will fill up. sure, the rough draft is going to be icky and horrid and unfit for all human eyes (save my own), but that’s when the EDITING and POLISHING and SERIOUS WRITERLYISHNESS comes in.

getting that first draft down and out has been difficult for me. i’m not going to go all psychotherapist on myself to figure out why, but instead be grateful that i’ve stumbled into one bria quinlan who’s the funniest type of taskmaster. she’s getting me to put my butt in the chair (at the thinking cup and/or at california pizza kitchen and/or at my own house) and i’m writing. i really am. (look ma, no hands!) (wait…)

the other thing this fast drafting process has shown me is that i’m so busy working i don’t have time to sit and think, “hey, this is really bad and these characters all sound the same and the plot? what plot? and UGH, i stink and what’s dangling participle again?”

i’m just there in the moment writing.

like with running, i don’t have time to think, “hey, my arms aren’t swinging enough, my foot falls on its heel, do i look weird?” because i’m watching for traffic and deciding to go left or right and pushing forward and feeling how my lungs are doing.

i’m just there in the moment running.

it would appear that by just doing [said task], i’m able to push through that wall, which, for me, is composed (brick by brick) of self-doubt. your wall might be made of a different foundation, but the point is not what it’s made of. the point is not to give yourself time to think or worry or ponder, but to get around, over, under, through, past it any way you can.

and if you have trouble getting going, i think it’s okay to start by writing ON the wall.



my alarm went off to the tune of a simply sweet song. but then it broke down into a rap.

i woke up smiling because i understand. on an average day, i’m like the first portion of the song: nice, sweet, and melodic, but sometimes, oh yes, sometimes you just want to unleash your gangsta side.

playing sports does that for me. especially when my team is the underdog and we’ve made it to the playoffs.

like tuesday night.

my work (beer league) softball team was up against the #1 team. the competitors played not to lose. we played to win. and guess what? we did. even though it was the first round of the playoffs and in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t that monumental, we celebrated like it was. we all rushed the infield. we threw our gloves in the air. we screamed. we yelled. we cheered. we high fived. you see, we had taken down the #1 team. but more importantly, we had made it past the first round of playoffs. this hasn’t happened, well, ever, so our celebration was completely warranted.

but my point was not that impromptu celebration, but rather what came before it.

there was an incident on the field where one of our players was trying to stretch his hit into a home run. maybe he should have stopped at third. maybe he shouldn’t have. either way, he motored around third base and headed home. the ball flew in from the outfield. the catcher, blocking the base, caught the ball but bobbled it. our player ran into the catcher because there was no other way to get to the base. the catcher, who, since he didn’t have complete control anyways, dropped the ball. the “coach” of the other team came flying over quoting the rule book that this is a no contact sport, etc. etc. it’s true. this is a no contact sport, but we’re playing to win, buddy, and we need every run we can get. and your player was blocking the base. there was nowhere to go but through. so why are you now reciting softball regulations when you were jovial and jolly a minute ago? why are you suddenly so uptight? when did you become an expert on rule 3.459-1/2? is the score getting a little too close for comfort? are we making you nervous?

if i had a better grasp of what the rule book said, i probably would have gone out there and yelled. i know, me, yelling. HA. but this is my team and i have to defend our actions. as luck would have it, i happened to be on the mound pitching when one of their players ran into our catcher the very next inning. we didn’t have a play, so that wasn’t the issue. the issue, for me, was that how come rule 3.459-1/2 of the “no contact, no sliding” that was implemented an inning ago is all of a sudden off the table? i don’t care if we weren’t making a play. no contact is no contact. at any time. at any base.

and i told him so*.

*in a passive aggressive way where i was talking to my “coach” in an intentional-i’m-trying-to-be-overheard loud voice saying “what was that about no contact?”

but seriously, if you aren’t going to play fair, you can’t be surprised when i break out my rap girl attitude.

i know, threatening, right?

yeah, you should back up now, son.


boston wears spring well. i don’t.

things i learned on a very spring-like sunday afternoon.

i like to make lists. of things i need to do. of drills to run before the game. of the lineup. of things the team needs to work on. of who needs a new uniform.

the learning curve is very steep and we’re at the bottom. this is a very new program, our first year for the U13s and we’ve only had 3 practices. we are playing against a team that has been in existence for 10 years. they are going to be better. it’s a complex game, but we are going to keep practicing and keep educating ourselves. watch your backs because here we come.

some kids do remember me. even one who wasn’t on my team. yes, my first game of the 2010 season and i’m playing against the program where i coached for the past 5 years. yes, it was a bit nerve-wracking.  but the kids remembered me. it feels good to know that maybe i am making a difference. maybe they are listening to me.

your car can get towed on a sunday. even though it’s sunday. and i’ve parked there before. and other cars were parked there. and we checked with a police officer who said they weren’t ticketing or towing. and people will comment “oh yes, i saw your car getting towed 10 minutes ago.” and it doesn’t matter that you just spent 3 hours volunteering your time and 20 more minutes cleaning up the field. no good deed goes unpunished. and the guys at the towing company will not be friendly or contain a smidge of nice in between their beards and gravely voices. and you will have to pay a fee for daily storage even though your car has been there for less than an hour. and you will have to pay for the gas the tow truck guzzled as it toted your car from parking lot to impound lot. and you have to pay in cash. even if your purse is in the truck of the car that’s been towed away.

it’s not the score that counts. sure, we’d all like to win but we got one goal in there. it wasn’t a complete shutout. the ref complimented the girls on a clean, well played game. the parents were cheering. the girls had fun. plain and simple. i couldn’t ask for more.

i need about forty pairs of hands. to fix goggles. and sticks. and hair. and uniforms. and about forty eyeballs. to watch the game. the girls on the sideline. the refs. the goalie. and a voice that’s forty times louder. to be heard over the ref’s whistle. over the length of the field. over the roar of the game on the next field. over the parents yelling instructions to their children.

it’s about more than just lacrosse. it’s about the water fight at the end of the game. and the players testing me to see if they can throw water at me. it’s about them recognizing i am serious when i say no. it’s about them giggling anyways. it’s about trying out attack and defense to see which they like better. it’s about the smallest girl on the team asking to play goalie. it’s about high fives. it’s about the quietest girl being the most competitive and shocking me silly. it’s about them asking for help and me doing my best to provide it. it’s about the parents asking me questions to further their understanding the game. it’s about getting outside on a gorgeous afternoon. it’s about making the best use of my free time. it’s about sharing my love of lacrosse with people who feel the same way. it’s about stepping out of my comfort zone so i can keep growing, keep improving. it’s about these girls who say the craziest things and make fun of me and have so much energy. it’s infectious. it refreshes my own supply.

and, pray tell, how was YOUR weekend?