Thursday, September 27, 2012

This, that, and a hiatus

I've tried twice now to write in this space and have deleted it both times. I don't really know why, other than maybe I'm over the phase of my life where I need a "diary," or maybe things have gotten so routine that there just isn't anything to hash out.

Playing goal is pretty regular (I still suck about 75% of the time, and get lucky the other 25%).
I'm still losing weight like a bandit and have loads to say about that, but dear God, the world does not need another fitness or weight loss blog, amirite? And really, while I do torture my Facebook friends with the trials and tribulations of my every-other-day running adventures, I know that's super annoying unless you're also a runner.

I've never written about my home life like some might, but thankfully it's tame enough that it really doesn't need writing about. Mr.C's job continues to be an all-consuming, raging clusterfuck for him, Major has a cancerous growth on his leg that we're figuring out how to treat, and the new kid is Louie, and he sleeps curled up next to me and has the softest ears you've ever felt on an animal. I lurves him.

That's my socked foot, not some strange protrusion from Louie's hip.
I was on sabbatical from work for the last month, which was great. Vacation in Alaska and Toronto and some time at home. It went by in a flash and I didn't take a ton of pictures, but other people's vacation pictures generally bore the crap out of me, so I'll spare you. Well, okay just one:


The only other big thing is that I'm the new Houston Aeros beat writer for the Houston Chronicle. Okay, so that's pretty big. Real big. At least to me. Andrew did a spectacular job and I tried to learn as much as I could from him, not really with any inkling that this opportunity could come some day or that I would have a prayer of getting it if it did, but just because being a good beat writer is as much an art as anything.

And I may be more in the finger painter realm of beat writer artists for now, but I'm going to do my dead level best at it because it's really important to me to honor the opportunity. Not many real sports writers get such a chance, much less a hack like me.

So, right now I'm trying to find the balance between taking it seriously but also not being a total bore in the process. And part of that is figuring out whether to keep this blog going or just put it on hiatus. I write so much (and even more now) during the seasons that writing for personal enjoyment now happens in 140 characters on Twitter.

I think, for right now, the blog is going to take a planned siesta (as opposed to the last year or so where it was on an unplanned siesta and made me feel guilty).

But I'll still be around. Follow me on Twitter, read over at Third Intermission, read the Chronicle. I won't be doing Backhand Shelf anymore, as that is just too time consuming and stressful to do in addition to the Aeros beat. I'll pop in occasionally on Hockey Wilderness. And I'd like to do a piece on Jack Campbell for InGoal this season if I can arrange it.

Anyway, here's to the lockout ending in December (color me selfish but I want to see the stud prospects for myself) and lots of juicy stuff to write about for the Aeros all season long. Cheers! :)

P.S. Also, just because I'm feeling the love today: #TeamBrusty. Go get 'em, big guy.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Mask sneak-peek and running from zombies

The front of my mask is still getting painted but I called an audible Friday afternoon and asked Jason at Head Strong Grafx to add a tribute to Jessica on the back of my mask. Now, what I asked for was her initials in the spot where San Antonio is on the map of Texas that was already going on the back.

What I got (after he asked if I wanted something cooler than that), was this:

WHAT? I was just blown away. It's just beautifully done and since it's kind of zany mask theme and Jess was kind of a zany girl, it just seems so fitting. Plus, I got green to go with my red hair... hey! Go red-heads!

Anyway, so excited to wear this mask finally. Just honored to have such amazing artwork on there. It's really a treasure. Will unveil more as Jason sends me progress shots.

But one of my last messages to Jessica was that I would let her know how I liked the Zombies, Run! app I was trying out. She hated running and was intrigued by the idea of something to make it less boring, just like I was.

Except I don't find running boring... yet. But I wanted to try Zombies, Run! to see if it maybe distracted me from the agony of running and made it more fun or, fingers crossed, EASIER somehow.

Well. No. It did none of those things for me, but I think it's just me. Lemme 'splain.

I have two things working against me:

First, I shut down like Fort Knox when you boss me around, especially for no good reason. So when the comm guy who is talking to me, Runner 5, as I'm running around collecting supplies for the town and avoiding zombie hoards, says, "OMG RUN RUN RUN!" I'm like, "Fuck you. No such thing as zombies."

Second, running is hard. Like, the first mile, I kind of enjoy. My breathing is good, my legs are peppy, I'm not coated in a waterfall of sweat. But as the run goes on, the more I have to focus on continuing to run. There is self-talk going on like you wouldn't believe in order to even get 2 miles out of me. 3 miles? Yeah, total and complete focus. By the third mile, I don't even really hear my music anymore.

"Just keep going. You can only stop if you're physically ill. But you're fine. It's just hard, but it's not killing you. The hard is what makes it worthwhile. Keep going. I'm sure the lady will say it's been a kilometer in her super awkward way before you know it and then you can walk for a minute. But don't think about that. Just keep going. Zone out. Look at houses, yards, just keep going or you'll feel like a jerk when you're done."

So, if I have to listen to these zombie town people talking to me over my headset between my songs, not only does it keep me from diligently keeping myself going, but it also doesn't time up with my walk breaks (which I really find are helpful to keep me fresher later in the run and also gives me a mental "treat" every now and then).

In my one run with the Zombies, Run! app so far, I ended up walking more than I have for any run. It was literally my worst run ever in terms of accomplishing my goals, feeling strong, etc. Part of that is that I was running along the bayou by my house which isn't flat as a board like my usual route, and also, I really hadn't eaten much in the way of carbs that day and my legs just would. not. go. Though I honestly think that was 90% mental.

At some point, I'll try it again. Maybe when the weather cools off and it doesn't feel like I'm boiling from the inside out and maybe it will take less focus and maybe running 30 minutes won't seem as horrible for the final 15 minutes. And I'll do it on my usual flat sidewalk routes around my neighborhood.

All that said, the story is good and well acted and engaging. I just don't have the focus right now to do anything but will myself to put one foot in front of the other. I kept wanting to stop and walk and listen to the story because I didn't have the focus to both run and enjoy the story.

Bottom line, if you're a headcase like me, it might not work out for you, but if you're an experienced runner, I think this might be a fun way to shake up the ol' routine a bit. At $8 or so, it's not a huge risk either way.


Friday, July 20, 2012

It's everybody's loss

"So sorry for your loss."

My dear friends, hockey and otherwise, have expressed this sentiment many times today as I've let loose my sorrow at the horrific death of my friend and fellow red-headed Texan hockey writer, Jessica Redfield, in the movie theater shootings in Colorado last night.

I very much appreciate the sentiment and support and hugs, but all I can think is, "It's all our losses. We ALL lose here." We are all minus one spunky, funny, down-to-earth, smart, hockey-loving gal.

She was someone I considered a friend, even though we hadn't met yet (I always assumed we would eventually... hockey is a small world), but I've come to realize how many people fall into all the same boat. "I just talked/texted/DMed with her yesterday." I've seen that so many times from so many people today. She managed to touch that many lives, up close, from afar, everywhere she went.

We bonded over a number of things: Being southern girls passionate about a northern sport. Our deep love for Texas and hockey and most importantly, sharing our love of the game with others through our media work. She didn't just dally around the edges of hockey either. She learned to play, she wrote about it, she connected with movers and shakers in the hockey media fearlessly -- not because of what they could do for her, but because of what she could learn from them.

It's been a really tough day. I can't imagine how much worse it's been for her family and closest friends. I'm surprised by how hard this has hit me personally, but Jessica stood for something that you don't see much anymore. She had integrity in the face of plenty of reasons to ditch integrity. She had maturity beyond her years in that regard (beyond MY years, even), and I've long admired her for that. I was so looking forward to seeing her career and her life blossom. She had so much going for her, I had no doubt she was going to get a big chance one of these days.

I've seen a lot of great things written about Jess today, but this post spoke to me the most.

I keep seeing pictures of her that her boyfriend is tagging on Facebook and I just can't believe she's gone. But in a way, she lives on in all of us who knew her, even just a little bit. I'm having her initials painted on my mask so I always carry a little piece of her spirit with me. But right now, it feels hollow. A pretty special light was extinguished last night and it will take a while to come out of the dark.


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drunken win

Well, that was a fun night at the rink.

Started with meeting the opposing goalie at the bar before the game for a few drinks. Neither of us had ever played tipsy goal before and we figured if we BOTH were buzzed, it would be an even playing field. So, tonight was the night. We met an hour before we had to get dressed, each knocked back 3 frozen strawberry margaritas, and wobbled to our locker rooms to get ready for the game.

The hardest part was remembering how to put my gear on. I'm usually kind of on auto-pilot doing that, but I kept having to stop and think, "Okay, now, what's next? How do I do this?" Once I got on the ice, though, I actually felt fantastic! Well, after a quick warm-up anyway. At first, I couldn't track the pucks (which made me giggle a lot), but I got it together pretty quick.

I've always said I'd be happier and more successful in life if I could just go around with the equivalent of one drink in me. Just knock that inhibition down a notch, right? And it seems that in goal, a little alcohol in the system and a little inhibition reduction is quite a good thing. Also, thinking less is good. Moving more freely without fear of really getting hurt. Just reacting. It was pretty great.

Of course, they scored first and I thought, "Uh oh" but it was a breakaway by their best player, so even sober, my odds aren't great there. Rest of the game, I made some crazy saves that I don't normally get to and though the score was stuck at 1-1 for a long time (how great a story would it have been if it had gone to a shootout?), we won 3-1 in the end.

Hard to deny that a little drinkie-poo might be a good thing, or at least isn't a bad thing. I think 3 drinks was too many, but a shot, maybe two, seems about right. I don't think I'll be making it a habit though. Too many calories negating the workout.

After the game, we headed back to the bar (I wasn't going to pass up victory beer) and I HAD to have some of their delish chicken noodle soup. So good!

Then I look over my shoulder and notice the Griffs taking the ice. I tell the girls, "OMG, my pretend goalie boyfriend is playing!" and from there, the rest of the night is spent watching the B-league game and cheering for my pretend goalie boyfriend (okay, one of many). He rocked it out as usual, in his foxy Brusty pads, and had a shutout until about 2 minutes left, when the dumb other team got a couple of quick goals that I totally blame on defense. :)

It was fun to watch and hopefully we didn't embarrass anyone with our cheering and gawking. I will admit, there was one glove save that made me blush. Inappropriate things were said. It was a really sweet.

Anyway, the Griffs took the win and we took off for the night.

Supposed to get up and run in the morning but I drank a bunch and wrote this instead. Goooodnight.


Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Goalie, help me jump this mental hurdle

Here's a thing I can't figure out: I've got this one player who gives me the serious yips when he shows up for my Monday drop-ins. It's happened enough now where I'll have such good games without him there, and such horrible games with him there, that the pattern is crystal clear to me. Dude is in my head.

The issue for me is that he's really tall and beefy, very good at hockey, basically outplays everybody on the ice every week. We have smaller guys who are really good, but they can be bumped off the puck. People basically move out of this guy's way because he's just huge and they know he's going to beat them anyway. (so, let's just say, we don't get the best defensive play when it comes to shutting him down).

He gets what feels like 10 breakaways a game and can put the puck pretty much wherever he wants (and HARD, too) and makes it look like he's just taking out the trash, it's so easy and he so bored with it. But also, he's a nice guy, and doesn't deserve the animosity I feel toward him.

Anyway, lately, he comes at me and the rink starts spinning and my brain starts zapping and I tense up because the instinctive threat level is just off the charts after being beaten by him so many times. I'm like Pavlov's Dog... it's just an uncontrollable response at this point.

I've tried being rational with myself and acknowledging the problem and saying, "Hey, it's just for fun. Don't take it personally" and "If he's that good, you shouldn't be THAT bothered by getting scored on by him" and the ol' "look at it as an opportunity to improve! Think positive!"

But I'm unable to put that wisdom to action. I just have this uncontrollable swell of GAHHHHHHHH about him and it wrecks my whole night. I honestly just get anxious just seeing him, even off the ice.

So, help me out. How do I get a grip on this? How do I circumvent the panic response so I can play his shots with a little sanity like I do everyone else's?

I think that's the part that bothers me the most about it and what sets the whole negative chain of emotions off. If I felt like I could give him my best save attempt, I wouldn't feel so bad about getting beat. But my brain just short circuits at the sight of him. I feel like nothing I do will be successful against him and that helpless feeling is super sucky and counterproductive.

I've had this problem with other players before but I always ended up finding some weakness in them that made them less intimidating to me. I've been playing with this guy for years and I've done nothing but get more intimidated.

Maybe I should do like in the Waterboy and put a crying baby face on him. Not sure that would work, since I'm not so fond of babies either.

Impart your wisdom upon me, goalies and sports psychologists!


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Catching up: Tourney, League, Stuff

1. Women's Tourney

Lots of fun and I saw WAY more shots than I normally do, which was a big challenge given the 4 games in 2 days situation. I worked my can off, and so did the rest of my team. Unfortunately, the divisions were kinda off (we were more novice, the other teams were more intermediate, even though it was a Novice/Intermediate "blended" division) so my team was unable to score. Ever.

Games went 3-0, 2-0, 6-0, and 3-0. Sigh. In a sense, it frees me from feeling bad about contributing to a loss because I'm not really in a position to provide offense. But I did actually play well, especially on the first day. I think there was maybe one goal the whole weekend that I felt like I definitely should have had (was probably a foot deep for the shot), and that was in the finals game, which ended up being against the other Houston team, and by then I was on auto-pilot, I was so tired.

The 6-0 was so bad because, as the other goalie told me between the 2nd and 3rd periods, they had to score a certain number of goals to get into the championship game. I was grateful she told me that because I and the rest of my team were ready to just start swinging sticks at these girls. And they were just way better than us. Held the zone, could pass nicely. A lot of those teams have been playing together a long time. We'd had one practice and a lot more true novice players. Really only one of the other teams even had any novice players. It was tough.

But I did get MVP for our first game. Unfortunately, they don't count shots (super lame), so I have no idea how many I faced, but about 10 minutes into the first when the other team had been in our zone for 9 of those minutes, I told the girls, "I can't do this for an hour." I was sucking wind and really grateful that I've been working out quite a bit lately or I might have left the ice on a stretcher.

2. Working out lately

I was so proud of losing weight early last year and then we got balls deep (eyeballs) in moving and selling our house and it was SO fucking stressful and busy -- add in the Aeros long playoff run and a ton of real job work and organizing Camp Brusty -- and I just didn't have the focus and energy to do the preparation required to eat right and make time to exercise other than hockey. And even that suffered.

But I'm back to chipping away at it again. I've done Weight Watchers enough now that I can almost set it on cruise control and not have to be too obsessed with it to stay on program. I don't even weigh in weekly because, with working out, it makes my weight fluctuate from day to day. So I only weigh in on days where I actually feel like I've lost weight. And I'm usually right. Saves the emotional rollercoaster of "gahhh, I worked so hard, why am I up a pound!" that I'd go through otherwise.

I love my iPhone so much. It's my partner in doing this, not only because I can track my points anywhere, but because for years, I've tried to do the Couch to 5K running program. I'd start and usually get hurt somehow before getting too deep. Plus, I was having to watch the clock to time my running and walking intervals. But the app does that for me, so I just go until the friendly lady says, "Begin walking" and I think what a nice lady she is for letting me stop running. But I'm enjoying the process more than I have before. I've got great music, the app lady doing the clock watching, and so far *knock on wood* no aching joints other than the ankle soreness that won't die (but that's a hockey injury). Week 4 begins with my next run, though, and it's the biggest ramp up so far. I'm excited to see how I fare. That will be Saturday morning's adventure.

On my off days, I'm doing goalie specific training, but I'm stalled on that a little at the moment until I go to the doctor tomorrow and find out why my fingertips are kinda numb on my pinky and ring fingers of both hands. Leave it to me to have some weird shit going on. Started after the tournament, and though I don't remember getting hurt, I don't see how it wouldn't be related somehow. I just want to get the "don't worry, do your thing" stamp of approval before I do some of the things in the workouts that I know put strain on my shoulders and neck and wrists.

3. Women's League

I suppose as a "make-up" for all that effort with not much reward in the tourney and a couple of less than stellar WL seasons, the hockey gods have blessed me with the best women's league team ever this season. We have 3 excellent defensemen, one super star who just moved here from Pittsburgh, and everyone else has that tenacious honey badger spirit where they just battle hard every shift and play their positions well. It's such a pleasure. Plus, they're all fun gals and I love my captain. Nirvana!

We even had one of our D and the super star out on Tuesday, so we only had 2 D the whole game and they never left the ice. I saw a whopping 11 shots (felt like more, but shots went wide, hit posts, etc. so I was working as hard as if they were shots) and we won 1-0. Last week was a shutout, too, but I saw 4 shots and it didn't even feel like that many, so I don't take any credit for that one. This week was a full team win. Really proud of the girls. Hard fought.

4. Hockey Season

It's almost over. :( Go Kings!


Saturday, April 21, 2012

Stop this ride, I want to stay on

"'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all"

The last game of the season (at least the last one at home) is heart-wrenching. It doesn't really matter how the season ends on the ice, to be perfectly honest. I'm not particularly invested in the outcome of the season, the way coaches and players and hockey ops people, and I suppose fans, are.
I'm invested in the my experience as a writer and as a human being trying to make the most of the opportunities that have landed on my doorstep.

There's no doubt that pro sports, even hockey, has its share of egomaniacs and jerks and poseurs. But in Houston, I've been incredibly fortunate to work with Drew and John by my side, each doing our own thing, but all of us still able to come together and do what I think is a pretty great job at T3I (more because of them than me, at least the last couple of seasons).

It's weird. I tried hard to walk that line between fan and... maybe not full on journalist, but at least someone who can analyze the team and its personnel fairly. Once you start going downstairs and having to look in the eye the guys you write about, it changes everything.

Unfortunately, they're not all like Brusty, who was always unbelievably cool about my constant and ridiculous fangirling over him. Somehow I could write Debbie Gibson-esque posts about how I get lost in his eyes, and we could still have conversations about the team on a friendly/professional/serious level. I cherished it at the time, and do even more so now that I don't have access to that kind of genuine insight any more. (And also, GAHHH IMISSYOU*SNIFFLE*)

So, writing about the team is certainly less fun now that I don't get to say blatantly ridiculous things about the players in the name of a laugh. But I spent 4 years of college (supposedly) learning to report the news, and while it's not particularly fun in and of itself, it is very satisfying to provide information that people crave.

And what IS fun, as I said, is working with those guys, getting to know the Aeros staff, at least the ones I deal with personally, and working those game nights. I'm not going to lie, we have a lot of fun. We're getting work done, but we're having fun, because writing about hockey is fun work. You take it seriously in as much as you want to be fair and accurate, but frankly, it's just a game and we aren't doing rocket surgery up there. Nobody's living or dying or inventing velcro from it.

That camaraderie, or the lack of it over the summer, is why I'm randomly leaking around my eyes tonight and maybe tomorrow, too. I used to love going to Aeros games just because of the hockey, but nowadays, I get excited to go because I get to hang out for a few hours with all those folks I've grown to care about and appreciate so  much over the past few seasons.

The hockey is still the pulse of it, but pleasure in life is about the genuine connections you make with your fellow humans, and when the season ends, those connections are severed for a while, and really, from season to season, you don't always know what you'll get back in October.

I sniffled to my husband tonight that I had the "end of season sadz" and he said, "You'll get another season." I suppose, but I think you have to appreciate the season you have, while you have it, and I try to consciously do that every single game.

And, when you spend that much time appreciating a season, I also think it's normal to mourn its loss in your life. Each one is unique and fleeting and hilarious and awful and wonderful, and only those people you shared it with really understand the full experience.

So, tonight, I feel awash in utter gratitude, as well as the wish that I could have stopped time tonight and made it last just a little longer.


Tuesday, April 17, 2012

The Saddest Drop-In

I didn't want to play hockey tonight. Not at all. See, I found out today that a dear friend, about whom I've used the words, "Sister from another mother," is facing the final days of her life.

She has cancer. It started as colon cancer, she had surgery and they tried to get it all and she was doing well for a while. But it was pretty advanced when they found it and, like cancer tends to do, it creeps around the body, hiding from the chemo, and flourishes.

At least, that's what it did to Leisa. And we hear tonight those words you dread: "If you want to see her, come seen her soon."

Even though she's a Texas girl like me (more reason to love her), I met Leisa along with a bunch of girls online. We all had a mutual sensibility and formed our own little private community. We shared in each others pain and joy. We've had babies born, divorces, affairs, marriages. We've gone on trips together, we've been held each others hair while we puked from drinking too much, we've been lazy together and rowdy together, we've rallied around each other.

We lost another sister, Angie, to cancer several years ago and still talk of her often. We will lose Leisa soon, too, and while we have known it's inevitable for a while, it still feels sudden. Our hearts are collectively so heavy and we feel so helpless. I feel like gravity is heavier or pulling harder or whatever the fuck gravity does. I feel leaden. And just so, so sad.

So, playing hockey tonight, caring about that little black disc through my sad fog, just felt like the last thing I wanted to do. I really wanted to lie in bed and cry.

Leisa is special to me because not only is she one of the funniest people I know (we dubbed it The Funny Truck, because she'd just come out of nowhere with a one-liner that was so priceless and clever and off the wall, it would knock us over laughing), but we also share a lot of the same neuroses and I find that charming in a person. Let's be crazy together, and in a similar fashion, my love!

She never had nor wanted kids, which of course, is rare to find in an adult female, so I appreciated her voice when I was struggling with feeling like a complete weirdo for not wanting kids.

She's just in her 40s. A sincere and devoted Christian. An animal lover. A gentle soul with a biting wit and deep kindness.

Anyway, I went and played, heavy heart and all. I just hoped that endorphins would sit their fat ass on my fragility and hold me together. And indeed they did. In fact, I felt so focused and in the zone during the first 15 minutes, I thought I was destined to have one of my best games ever. The puck was in my end a lot, but I felt good. Bring it on.

And then the fact that I hadn't eaten for about 9 hours (I know, dumb, but I just had no appetite) hit me like a brick wall. It was like the life drained out of my toes, and I ended up spending most of the game in survival mode. I stayed on my feet as much as possible, or if I went down, I stayed down until I had to get up again.

Finally, a few skaters left and the game slowed to a crawl, so I bailed. The clock was off, and it turns out we'd been out for an hour and a half (we're usually only get a little over an hour). For feeling so shitty, it went fast.

I got to my car, read some more messages from the girls about how Leisa is doing, how sad we all are, and I just broke down. I sobbed there in the parking lot. Everything just feels wrong. And I guess that's how it's supposed to feel.

But I'm also grateful to Leisa, for showing so much grace during her illness; to her husband, who is doting on her mercilessly and in whom I have utter faith in this awful time for him; to my friends, for being stronger than me in the face of a crisis (I'm such an ostrich, but we have enough "go getter, ring-leader" types to keep our momentum going); to hockey for forcing me to be ALIVE and feel things and work up a sweat rather than sitting home crying.

I'm just raw and fragile and I hate that feeling. But that is life, I guess. I want a shirt that says, "My dear friend is dying and I'm really, really sad, so I'm sorry if I start crying for no apparent reason." And I hate saying, "I'm good. How are you?" when what I mean is, "I'm devastated and I need a hug."

At this point, our goal is just to make sure she's comfortable and knows she's loved beyond measure. And I think that mission is being accomplished, so I do find solace in that.

I dunno. Life is weird and terrifying and beautiful and simple and complicated, isn't it? Sorry for being a downer, and for rambling. My heart and mind are a rambling place right now, though. And this blog was always, at its roots, about getting stuff off my chest, processing my thoughts, and lightening my mental load.

What this does, however, is guarantee that I'll not wait so long between posts, as knowing this one is at the top is just too sad.


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Calamity in the crease and other catch-up crap

Wow, was last night's hockey ever craptacular. But I'm oddly okay with it. It was clearly one of those just "not meant to be" kinda nights, and the other goalie struggled in weird ways, too, so it wasn't even just me.

Starts off, I'm getting dressed and I tie my toe ties on and get my pads halfway strapped up before I realize I haven't put my jock or pants on. I was thinking I seemed pleasantly mobile and cool for a change (goalie pants are hot and bulky in terms of needing to dicker around with your skates/toes/etc).

Okay, take the pads off, put pants on, it's all good. Then I hit the ice and think, "Man, it feels so good to have this cool breeze in my hair! Why don't I appreciate this every time I hit the ice?"


Ugh. So I trudge off, feeling stupid (but delightfully cool... amazing how much heat those lids hold in) and put my mask on. I think it's so tidy in its new padded, ventilated mask bag (in anticipation of my beautiful new paint job, if the guy will ever finish the renderings so it can be painted), I just failed to notice it in my bag.

So finally, I get out there. Have a good warm-up. Happy with my first period, though the teams are unbalanced as usual when Big Bird is there, so I'm not seeing a ton of shots.

Then I switch ends and it all goes to shit immediately.

First, I don't know if the zamboni fucked it up or some brat kid did, but the ice in the crease at the end (B rink at SLICE by the zam door) had huge ruts in it and was sloping downhill towards the net. I guess that's one way to learn to play at the top of your crease is to basically make the bottom of your crease unskateable.

THEN, as if I needed more skating issues, my toe tie laces came untied and I kept slipping on those. Half the time, I couldn't tell whether it was the ice or the skate laces screwing me up, and sometimes it was actually both! I just couldn't keep them tucked up out of the way for more than a couple of minutes.

Needless to say, I was a wreck that half of the game. Let a ton of stuff in because I was so distracted by the mess at my feet, I was just a pylon out there. Bleh.

On one goal, one of my defensemen slammed his stick against the boards. Dude. It's drop-in. Anybody keeping score at this thing is just setting themselves up for disappointment. And the other goalie and I both struggled at that end, so if they were keeping score, it had to have been ugly.

I've already tweeted SLICE to please get that fixed before tonight, because I'm back on that rink again at 8 p.m. tonight.

Playing Memorial City Wednesday, too. I figure I need to get some more ice time in to get ready for the heavy load I'll be facing in the Memorial Day weekend women's hockey tourney in Dallas in a couple of months. 4 games in 2 days. Assuming they're full 60 minute games, and I haven't played even one of those in ages.

This will be my first real tournament and I adore all the girls going (at least the ones I know), so I know it's going to be a lot of fun. The other thing is that the Jays are in Dallas that weekend, so I know I can catch Friday's game, but Saturday and Sunday will be difficult, I suspect. Still, very excited to kill two birds with one stone there. Even if Snidey did get demoted (lousy bastards).

Anyway, if you missed it (but I don't know how you could, the way I pimped it), I've literally spent years contemplating hockey as a religion, at least for me, but there seems to be some consensus among my readers, too.

I've wanted to write about it for a long time and I still don't feel like I did it the justice it deserves. I think part of the problem is that I'm half kidding, but also half serious. Would have been better if I were earnestly committed to one direction or the other.

But anyway, here's that post on Backhand Shelf from Sunday.

Amazing how I seem to get the haterade in the comments on the posts that, generally, most other readers seem to connect pretty well with. Working on my thicker skin in earnest so it doesn't discourage me, and honestly I don't know a single writer, even some I consider the very best at it, who doesn't get some prick strolling by occasionally telling them how lousy they are.

Part of the game, I guess, but certainly doesn't leave me awash in enthusiasm for it. Still, I do it to players all the time, critiquing and/or criticizing their play and I know they don't always like it or take it well. Ah well. Have Ambien, will still sleep at night. Thank you very much.


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Goalie brain in overdrive

I just have to say, after how stressful the home buying/selling stuff was all last year, I feel such warm fuzzies when I pull into my driveway now. After 8 years in a 3 story house, my little 60 year old rancher just feels like home. Totally worth all the grey hair.

Just had to get that gratitude out there into the universe.

So, check this one out: Tonight I had my usual Monday drop-in. Wasn't feeling super awesome after a physically taxing day, so I was kinda in, "Whatever" mode.

I'm awfully tired early in the game and one of me D is pulling a Scott and telling me to "GET UP! GET UP!" while the puck is still in our zone, but... like I said: Whatever mode. And now you've bossed me around, so now I'm really not getting up. Punk. No problem though. My d clears it out.

Then there's a scramble in front and the puck is sorta laying in front of me but between my d-man's legs and he's saying "Cover! Cover!" and again, I'm thinking, "Shut up. I know to cover, dummy."

And then someone shoots from the neutral zone, kind of an easy dump-in but it goes on net and I butterfly and corral it. Guy on my team says, "Good job." Yeah, because that was hard. *grumble*

So by this point, all this bossing and (perceived) condescension, I'm feeling like the worst goalie ever.

Game carries on, I switch ends with Neil midway, let a few goals in but nothing horrible and it's drop-in so whatever. I'm used to getting lit up, but I'm feeling like this has been a pretty decent game for me, actually.

We finish up and head off the ice and Neil goes, "Wow! How about that shutout you had going?!"

"What shutout?"

"The whole first half!"


"Yeah! You were a wall!"

Uh. Okay.

Drove home thinking, "How on earth did I not notice that I was pitching a shutout?" And then I realized, it was those comments from my team that kinda made me feel sour that kinda tricked my mind into thinking I wasn't playing well.

I was so distracted by this perceived disappointment from my team (presumably from my historically mediocre to bad play against this group) that I just sort of assumed I wasn't playing well at that end and not playing well = goals against, right?

Anyway, I kinda laughed at myself because my pathetic goalie self-esteem basically pulled the bad-goalie-wool over my eyes! How goofy is that?!

Of course, I have awesome goalie brain when it comes to goals against, but not so much for relatively harmless comments from my team. Tonight it actually paid off.

So, if you've been wondering, in spite of my not posting here, "Is she still a fucking headcase?" The answer is obviously, Yes.

BTW, if you haven't been keeping up with the writing that's causing me to neglect this blog, you can go catch up here:

I'm not totally unproud of it. Response has been good. This week's was about beer league goaltending, so it's kinda fun and "on topic."


Monday, January 9, 2012

Up for air, finally

I drive home from hockey each night I play, thinking, "Oooh! I should write about this (or that) (or the other thing) in my blog!"

And then I realize, no, I don't have time. I have to get my Wednesday story at Hockey Wilderness done. I have to get my Sunday story at Backhand Shelf started. I have to get interview notes ready for my InGoal magazine pieces on Matt Hackett and Bob Mason.

And by the end of even thinking about all that, I'm too tired to consider writing for "fun" (though, I'm not gonna lie, they're all pretty fun... just less self-indulgent).

But the InGoal stories have been turned in (2 days early, which is more scary than a relief... what have I missed?) and I'm allowing myself a day to catch my breath from having finished that before I start the other two.

Considering it was, like, November when I last posted, I should probably be ashamed, but in that time, I've had a huge work deadline, accepted an offer on our house that was then reneged on at the last second by the buyer, done all the repairs from their inspection anyway, found another buyer, dealt with her insane agent for a couple of weeks, made the repairs THEY wanted, and finally closed on that house.

Oh yeah, and did that Christmas thing. I've never been more grateful that my family does just little stocking stuffer type gifts. I got my shopping done in about 3 hours at Target and Walgreens, or online.

So really, today is the first day I'm coming up for air and don't have anything but the usual suspects weighing on me. Naturally, the dog picks today to need to go out at 4:30 in the morning, but that gives me a spot of time to write here, so it's okay.

My hockey playing was pretty light in December, not only because my Monday group only played the first two weeks, but because I threw my back out the first weekend of the month and it was so bad, I missed two weeks of women's league because of it.

But I played well in my return to my full-time playing schedule (Monday and Tuesday nights) last week. So well, in fact, that I'm still a little annoyed that one of my defensemen who isn't used to playing with goalies of my "caliber" (aka make so few awesome glove saves that I stop and cele all of them) and he didn't properly acknowledge how cool my saves were.

The image of his "yeah yeah, just give me the puck, numbnuts" demeanor when I... get this... stopped a shot off my blocker and caught it in my glove (!!!!) is burned in my brain. How dare you be so blase? This might have been a one in a lifetime save!

I really think if I only played a couple of times a month, I'd be a much better goalie. I'm just too mellow to work up the "GRR" I need on a twice weekly basis consistently. And I refuse to play angry any more. It's just hockey.

I have a women's league teammate who really cares about the result, and kinda unloads on our team or gets her panties in a bunch if the skaters aren't playing their positions up to her standards. And we all just sit there, kinda stunned at her attitude.

Sure, it's awesome to win, but women's league is such a social affair. I think 99% of the girls feel like, if you had fun, burned calories, and did your best, then it was a great night at women's league. Pretty much in that order, too. As I say, if you're not smiling your way through women's league, you're doing it wrong.

Hell, if you're not smiling your way through any kind of rec hockey, you (or someone around you being a douchebag) is doing it wrong. So much other shit in our lives is serious and responsible and "required" and if hockey isn't an outlet to just ride a wave of pure fun and adrenaline for an hour of your week, then I don't know what the point is.

Oh well. There's one in every crowd, I guess.

This week, I'm off Monday because I have no skates. Tomorrow I'll get them back at women's league for our last regular season game. I have no idea where we are in the standings but it can't be all that great. Apart from the 4-shot shutout, I'd done nothing but lose (though I've missed 3 games) until last week when I had a really legit win. Lots of shots and pulling saves out of my ass. First game I really enjoyed this season, honestly.

But I went ahead and signed up for Harpies Wednesday night since Mr. C is out of town. Now that I have actual TIME in my life again and am not running ragged, I'm excited to get to skate that again.

So, I'm not sure of the deets yet but it sounds like my payment for writing the InGoal magazine piece is a mask paint job from one of our advertisers. I'm pretty settled on some kind of blind squirrel theme.

Like this but with a goalie stick instead of a cane and an outstretched glove with a puck in it instead of a nut. Of course, how to execute that on a 3 dimensional mask is a whole other ball of wax.


Here's a funny nugget: My BS pieces are pretty much just me being me on whatever hockey topic tickles my fancy, and generally I get good feedback.

But I got my first hater yesterday. And on a piece that was about as serious as I ever plan to get. Everything about the comment is so, like, "I'm doing you a favor by telling you what a fucking idiot you are."
Every Sunday I try to read the articles you post, and every Sunday I never get through it. Most times I would rather scoop my eyes out with a spoon than finish reading the drivel and diatribe you write. Although your heart may be in the right place and the topics you choose may be worthy of being written about, your style is revolting. Good on ya for getting an audience, but I want you to know, I am not part of it.
It's just so earnest! It's not like, "Eh, this is shit. Fuck off with your puck bunny garbage." It's like, "I want to like you because I like the rest of the site, but oh my god, I just DON'T SO SO SO MUCH! PLEASE STOP BEING... YOU.. or I'll be forced to ... NOT READ YOU!"

Your heart's in the right place? Is that supposed to make the whole "revolting" and "rather scoop my eyes out with a spoon" thing better?

Just hilariously out of whack.

There are writers (even Backhand Shelfers!) whose writing I just don't get or get into at all, but obviously someone does or they wouldn't keep getting hired. So I just don't read them. In fact, the act of NOT reading someone is infinitely easier than reading them, so it's actually kind of a relief when I can just say, "Nah, never read that guy" and move on happily with my life to writers I DO like. There are already more of those than I can keep up with.

I like to be liked so I won't lie that it doesn't annoy me, but blessedly, I have a lot of people who seem to genuinely like what I do, so I have to trust that they're not just humoring me. If they are, then I hope Bourney will sack my ass and put everyone out of their misery.


And on that delightful note, welcome to Monday, suckah!

I've had this song in my head for a week. It makes me want to scoop my ears out with a spoon!!!! Just kidding. I actually like it. But talk about earnest. Gosh. Emo much?


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