Monday, October 22, 2012

Losing, Or... Not Winning.

Alright, I know my title isn't up to its usual clever goodness, but it's late, so give me a break, OK? I came to thinking about this post while watching the Cardinals vs. Giants game tonight. However, before I begin, I'd like to preface this by stating that I actually don't care so much about baseball, and generally I find it rather boring. (I mean, we could all save a little time if the pitchers didn't fake out first base every 3 minutes.) But I have to admit I found myself getting into the postseason last year and even more so this year, largely due to a significant person in my life who is a diehard Cards fan. So yeah, I was disappointed when the Cardinals lost tonight. I enjoy sports of any kind when they get super intense, and it's a bummer when it has to end.

Of course most of you do know that the Cardinals lost tonight. What you may not have known is that the St. John Junior Varsity volleyball team also lost tonight. (Slightly smaller headline on I would like to point out that I found some striking similarities and differences between the two losses that I think sheds light on life and humanity in general.

1. Losing isn't fun. I don't think that either the Cardinals or my volleyball girls enjoyed looking at the scoreboard and realizing that they were down by what seemed like an impossible amount. As I recall one of my 4th graders Molly who was out on the court and just about in tears after missing her second serve of the night, I think of David Freese, striking out for the 800th time, probably also almost in tears. David and Molly would probably have a lot to talk about after tonight. Sometimes you just can't get the job done, and losing doesn't feel good.

2. Losing is never fully lose-lose. Now, let me state for the record that I think it's ridiculous that anyone should be paid millions of dollars to swing a bat and take a lap every once in a while. But I can understand why you may think it feels worse to lose a game for a Cardinal than for a junior high volleyball player. There's a lot of money riding on those games! The whole franchise is worth millions! They should be delivering wins! Well, let me tell you what. There is a bag of Halloween goodies (including a pair of funky socks AND a pencil) that is waiting for those girls at their last practice on Wednesday. And there is probably a check for $56,000 waiting for each Cardinal when they get home, too. So it's not a total lose-lose. Everyone ends up getting what they were promised.

3. Losing doesn't last forever. There were more than a few downcast faces as the St. John JV team high-fived and "good game-ed" the other team. But a mere 4 minutes after our game was over, my volleyball girls were running around in the hallway, scrambling to get snacks from the concession stand. Now that's what I call resilience. I'd like to see the Cardinals running into the Giants' stadium after a loss, trying to snag a last-minute pretzel or hot dog. The day I see that, I'll think, "Hey. There's a guy who's got his priorities straightened out."

I guess what I'm saying is this: no one likes to lose. This much is obvious. We spend a lot of time practicing our craft to produce winners. If you're a Cardinal, you've been spending the last 20-30 years of your life intensely training for the moment when you get to make it count in front of the world. If you're a JV volleyball player, you've been spending the last eight weeks spacing out in practice and complaining that your canker sore is going to make it difficult to run laps. It's basically the same thing. So when it comes down to the wire and we can't quite nab the win, it's disappointing. However, I think if the Cardinals could all find the 4th grade girl deep inside them, they'd be better off for it. So if any of you Cardinals are reading this (Hi, guys), try to look at the bright side - there's usually ice cream waiting for you when you're done.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Just When I Thought Politics Were Getting Me Down...

... I found out the worst. You guys, it's true. Emily "blahblahblah" Maynard and Jef "Yep, one 'F'" Holm from this most recent season of the Bachelorette are over. As in, they will not be living the dream with Ricki-Tick for the rest of time like we all thought they would. No tying of the knot, no elaborate wedding with a 2-hour TV special, no sneak peeks into their lives when they have beautiful blonde-haired, blue-eyed children together! Color me shocked and disappointed.

The state of the world today is sketchy, to say the least, and now THIS. I don't know how I'm going to handle it. Just thinking of Emily fake crying while oh-so-conveniently showing off her perfect manicure is enough to bring me to my own fake tears. And poor Jef. He's probably so bummed it didn't work out that he can't even gel his hair into that perfect Greased Lightening coif. (Just kidding. That would never happen.) And let's not forget the star player of this ill-fated season of the Bachelorette - Ricki. That girl is probably so confused as to why her mother protected her like some sort of mama bear on steroids, only to bring a strange man into the house for a mere three months of lovin'. At least we know that Emily's not sending any mixed signals to her impressionable daughter...

And speaking of impressionable, I have to admit, I was the fool. I thought this love would last. It breaks my heart to see that yet another reality show couple has bit the dust. I only hope they can find some sort of consolation in the fact that they're each ridiculously beautiful, or the fact that they're both so obviously loaded (I mean seriously, what single mom lives in a house like that?), or in the fact that they'll continue to be D-list celebrities for the next seven years. Maybe Emily will wheedle her way back onto the Bachelor to win Sean's heart, this time for real, people.

I am so distraught. I keep thinking, "What could I have done to stop this from happening?" And I always come back to the same answer. If only they would have read Sparkle, Sparlke, they would have found the answers to life's questions and the solution to saving their relationship! So as my gift to the world, I will somehow find a way to make this blog visible to Sean Lowe as the new season of the Bachelor starts. I will give him my advice, encouragement, and a little Sparlke to keep him going during those taxing luxury vacation dates. And when the show ends in happily ever after, I'll know I did my part to fill the world with the true joy and love that only a strangers-to-engaged-couple-in-60-days can bring. You're welcome, everyone.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Why People Go To School, Or What I Tell Myself When I'm Starting To Feel Real Dumb

So there's this theory out there that you go to school to learn stuff. Wacky, right? Apparently you don't waste your time in class if you already know everything. Which is weird because I inevitably have this moment during every class where I start to panic because I feel like I don't understand anything. My mind starts reeling through the following thoughts:

"Oh my gosh. That person just said something that sounded really smart. They used a word that I don't even know. I wish I could get out my cell phone and look it up. But then I would just look like I'm texting, and I don't want the professor to think I'm a slacker. Maybe I should start bringing a dictionary to class. But then I would look really dumb, like I don't know any of the words. I'd use context clues if I knew what the rest of their sentence meant... wait, I should be listening to the prof's response. OK, wait, what's he talking about now? How did we get from that to this? I'm so confused. Maybe I should just nod a little... yeah, that's good. At least I look like I'm on the right page. Oh my gosh, I totally don't get what that person just said, but it sounded really intelligent..."

Or you know, something to that extent. It's usually at this point where I have a small mental breakdown and question my ability to complete grad school and also my entire life. Then I move to the resentful stage, which goes something like this: 

"Ugh! I still don't get what we're talking about! What the heck is phenomenology anyways?? How is this going to impact my life? I mean, will I seriously not get a job if I can't explain the premise of this existential essay? I just want to talk about something that seems more relevant. I just want to say SOMETHING PERTINENT AND NOT SOUND LIKE AN IDIOT!" 

Please note that instead of "phenomenology," you could insert any number of words that have about eight syllables each. And sometimes words that only have one syllable but are still confusing anyway. After I get a little worked up (still in my mind, rest assured), I move into the stage of shame, which sounds like this:

"Oh man, I know this must be important somehow. It's not the professor's fault if I'm just not bright enough to get it. But everyone else seems to basically know what's going on. Is that true? Or are they just as confused as me? Definitely not that person... or that person... or that person... they all have insightful comments. If I could just follow this train of thought for like five minutes, I might be able to get back on track. Ughhhhh, I don't know anything." 

And eventually I'll circle 'round again to Phase 1: Utter Confusion. It's great! It strikes me that perhaps this process could be diagnosable as some sort of Perpetual Cycle of Perceived Academic Inferiority. I mean, if that's a real thing, I definitely have it... or am in it, or whatever. 

I have to consciously remind myself that I'm in school precisely because I don't know everything. If I did, I'd not only not be in school, I'd probably be out like, instating world peace or something. But instead, I'm here. In grad school, working my mind's butt off (nice image, eh?) everyday to understand what the texts are saying, what my classmates are saying, what the professor is saying, and how it all fits together to make that thing called "art history." And when I remind myself this, I get a little faint glow of hope in my soul that eventually I'll understand the things that I struggle with today. I won't ever know everything, but I'll know more things, and that's a pretty cool thought. For those of you who are still in school (or if you're not, but still feel clueless about your job or life), remember this: You don't have to know everything now. Remind yourself that life is a learning process and it's supposed to be that way. And keep your mind open! Because that's how the knowledge gets in there.