Saturday, December 31, 2011

Far Post

This is my 100th and final blog post on Kick Soccer Mom (at least for now). Thank you to those kind and faithful souls who read, reposted, commented on and liked my blog these last two years – I truly appreciate and value the time you took out of your busy lives to read my silly stories. Who knew that something I started on a whim one day after reading a newspaper article about how there are no funny women out there would become 100 blogs long? Here’s some stuff I learned along the way:

Not all blogs get famous and turned into books. Julie and Julia was the model for me – the story of the woman named Julie who blogged about cooking all of Julia Child’s recipes and then got her blog profiled in the New York Times, got a book deal, and had her bestselling book made into a movie starring Meryl Streep. I figured I’d probably follow the same path....I mean, sure, Meryl is a little old to be playing soccer, but so am I-- and I know she likes to tackle challenging, different acting roles. Alas, it was not meant to be. But it doesn’t mean I can’t turn my blog into a book. Forcing myself to write something every week for almost two years means I’ve got loads of material written already...and then when my book gets famous and Meryl comes crying to me, wishing she had found me earlier-- I can give the movie role to some younger actress. Suck it Meryl, with your phony baloney foreign accents. I don’t need you after all.

The internets like pictures, not words. According to my stats, my blog has been looked at 16,640 times since I created it, and if I had to break that down, I’d say that roughly 40 of those times someone was reading it, 600 times someone was looking at a pictures of Jesus playing soccer that I illegally used last year, and 16,000 times was me looking at my blog to see if anyone else had looked at it.

Playing drop-in soccer with men is more fun than playing soccer in a women’s league. Of course I may be biased on this point, because both times after university that I played in women’s leagues, I almost immediately tore my ACLs. But regardless of that, the most joy I’ve felt playing soccer was when playing drop-in games with mostly men. I suppose it is because I would much rather play with people who are better and faster than me-- their passing is so good that it makes me look like a much better player. I’ve found most of them to be unfailingly generous teammates, and they tolerate me by treating me like that untrained pet that it’s hard to stay angry at. We have a lot of laughs. It feels like high school gym class – or maybe cutting class-- we’re all shirking our responsibilities with our jobs and kids and running around getting a little fresh air, often in the middle of the day on a weekday. Indeed, it is so much like gym, that if we ever chastise each other for being late, the response is usually “It’s okay--I brought a note from my mom.”

Physiotherapists have a lot of power. Turns out telling your physiotherapist about your blog after writing about how mean and demanding your physiotherapist is can be very, very punishing indeed. Even other patients were like “Wow, you have to do 3 sets of 50 squats? Whoa. Why?”

Time can go by really fast. When I started my blog I used to worry my dad would see it and be angry at some of the personal stuff I was making public, but now his dementia is so profound he can’t read the word ‘Vancouver’ on a Canucks poster and doesn’t know who my sister is. We were never close, and he never told me that he loved me or was proud of me, but he is still my dad- - the only dad who repeatedly showed up with a truck to help me and my friends move all those times while we were in university, and who took me to Holland after I endlessly pestered him about it when I was ten years old, the way some dads will break down and take their kids for ice cream. (Why Holland? Who knows? I think clogs were popular and windmills seemed cool at the time.) Instead of writing silly soccer blogs, I need to sit with him when I can and listen to him tell the story, once again, of how he hit two home runs in one baseball game. Each time this story is more fantastical than the last time he told it and it is hard to hear. Is this me, in 35 years, telling tall tales of soccer goals I scored? I hope my daughters will sit with me and listen patiently.

My husband is a very tolerant person. I know it’s not normal, this constant running off to play soccer at my age when and I could be advancing my career and earning more money, or I dunno, at least cleaning out our closets or something. But sometimes when we have tons to do and the kids are being psycho and the house is a mess, but the sun is shining, I will slip guiltily downstairs in my soccer gear, and look worriedly at Steve, and he always, always just smiles at me and says, “It’s okay. Go play. Have fun.” I know, ladies, that I’m playing with an unfair advantage. He is my biggest score.

Soccer is everywhere. Not only is soccer the most popular sport in the universe, it may, in fact, be the universe. Several years ago, a mathematician published an article in the prestigious journal Nature, which claims that ”the universe is small and spherical, consisting of curved dodecahedrons that together create a shape akin to a soccer ball.” That’s right people, in my very last blog post I decided to casually drop in the word ‘dodecahedrons’. I’m that good. Enough said.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Still Kicking

Instead of the usual request for money from its alumni, last week when I opened an email from UVIC, I received an invitation to a special ceremony to celebrate this year’s men’s varsity soccer team because they won a national championship. The team is called the Vikings, or Vikes, and apparently I am a special guest of Vikes Athletics for this event. It’s because I used to be a Vike myself, for the women’s varsity soccer team. I graduated from UVIC over 20 years ago, and this is the first time anyone has ever acknowledged that I used to play there. I’m totally going.

I don’t know anyone else who will be there, but I’m wondering if I’ll see any of my old teammates. I was only 17 when I played there, so along with many, many other mistakes I made back then, one foolish error I made was not to keep in touch with anyone from the team. We shared a lot of sweat together. The field and hill where we used to run sprints and take shots now has a building on it. I doubt that the same chain link fencing we had to climb over to run the stairs of the men’s stadium is still there either. (I do not miss that chain link fence; it earned me the nickname ‘Alpine Groome’ since I was so terrible at scaling it. Where the hell were all my teammates from, anyway, that they were so good at climbing tall chain link fences and dropping effortlessly to the ground on the other side? Curious. Also, couldn’t anyone have given our coach the keys so we could enter the stadium the normal way? Grrr.)

Those same girls I played with also concocted elaborate fake ID schemes to get me into the bar for our rookie player initiation, held up my 80s David Lee Roth style hair so I could throw up more efficiently, and probably paid for my taxi ride home too. We shared hotel rooms together on road trips and they taught me that if you eat fast food almost exclusively, your food per diem can also pay your bar tab later. Why can’t I remember more of their names? Many times I’ve both wished that Facebook existed back then so we could still be in touch, and simultaneously been so thankful that Facebook did not exist back then to forever document our dodgy exploits.

Many other UVIC soccer memories came flooding back too. I was known for always walking in and out of the first year residences carrying my cleats, and was once introduced by one fellow to his out of town friend thusly: “This is Cathy - she’s a soccer player. Check out the bruises on her shins. Can you believe it? They always look like that!” Once back in my room, my roommate was always bemoaning the fact that our garbage can was filled to overflowing with used, stinky, white athletic tape from getting my weak ankle taped before every practice and game. And then there was the fact that twice a week my practices were scheduled for the exact same hours the residence dining room was open for dinner, which meant my dinner was late and consisted of either air popped popcorn I made in my room, or kraft dinner made in the tiny ‘hot pot’ my friend had for boiling water for tea. (Oh carbs, we had some good times, didn’t we? I think I miss you most of all, carbs.)

I realize the acceptance of this invitation is directed at the elder, stately me. They are going to raise a banner in the gym in celebration at half time at the Vikes Basketball game at this event, so I imagine me and all the other former soccer players who go will be herded into one section of the stands and will at some point be asked to stand and be acknowledged. When this happens, we’ll all struggle to stand up on our crappy knees and half wave to the crowd, and people will think look at all the old farts. Am I ready to be identified this way, as one of the grand dames of the Vikes soccer past? I’m 42. I googled pictures of UVIC soccer girls now and they look impossibly young. There’s no way I could deal with slide tackling anymore. Perhaps I am ready.

But...I did score two lovely goals this week in a pick-up game where I had some sweet give-and-gos with a few superfast teenage boys that joined our game. I’m not quite done. I don’t need a cane just yet. Can I be the stately elder who still takes a sweet corner kick?

Maybe I am only ready-ish.

Friday, December 16, 2011

RIP Hitch

Feeling melancholy on hearing that writer and critic Christopher Hitchens died yesterday. He was a formidable intellectual who I didn’t always agree with, but I will miss seeing him stumble onto talk shows in a rumpled jacket with a cigarette, a glass of whisky, and an attitude. In recent years, he has been known mostly for his staunch atheism-- a complicated thing to write about, especially in America-- but no matter what your religious views are, there’s something everyone can take away from this Hitchens quote I saw today:

The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.

Whatever your religious views, let us all be as unflinching as Hitchens is about life. Use it. Do not go gently. Find that thing you’re passionate about, whether it’s soccer or stamp collecting, and be unrelenting in your pursuit of it.

Risk more.
Feel more.
Try more.
Fail more.
Learn more.
Love more.
Give more.
Laugh more.
And finally, if that thing you’re passionate about is soccer:
Play more.

We have all the time in the world, until we don’t.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How Lovely Are Thy Branches

This morning I was cleaning out my soccer bag, and along with a cup and a half of tiny black rubber turf bits and a stinky sock, I found my mouth guard. I don’t wear a mouth guard to play soccer -- I need to leave my mouth free for all the trash talking – so this must have been in there from the few slo-pitch games I played last summer. The mouth guard was not in its case. Naturally, I thought of Christmas.

The year after I finished university, when I was waitressing and renting a house in Victoria with my friends Richard and Ted, we decided to pitch in together and get a tree. Of course, being young and without full time jobs, we quickly discovered that our budget was tapped out after buying the tree itself and two strings of lights. It smelled great, but looked sad.

Richard went to his room, saying “We must have some stuff we could put on the tree to decorate it.....” and Ted went off downstairs to see what he could find too. We did pretty well, actually. Did you know that a Labbatt’s keychain, the kind you get given free in a bar, can look just like a Christmas ornament? My old dangly earrings that had lost their partners were also good because they were sparkly. Fairly soon though, we ran out of festive stuff like this and basically decided that anything hand sized or smaller was good enough to be an ornament – a pencil sharpener, a potato peeler, beer bottle caps, the can opener. And yes, Richard’s old football mouth guard.

When you stood back a bit, the tree looked awesome. Our other equally broke and young friends would come over and freak out – “You guys got a tree?!” and then say “It’s so pretty!” and then, in a different tone, “Wait, is that someone’s mouth guard?” On the top, instead of an angel, we hung Ted’s Doonsbury Uncle Duke action figure, the one based on Hunter S. Thompson, who has a cigarette dangling from his lips and a machine gun in his hand. I’m pretty sure we’re all going to hell.

So, back to modern day: I notice in all the store flyers that tree ornaments are sold in themed groupings now – the country-style quilted ones are called ‘Homespun’ and the elegant metallic ones are called ‘Prestige’. Our tree has never had a theme. I’m thinking of scooping up these black rubber turf bits and gluing them into my mouth guard to make an ornament. If you squint, it kinda looks like caviar in a unique, u-shaped crystal bowl. I’ll hang it on the tree with all the other homemade ornaments we have, the ones the kids made out of spray painted macaroni. Our theme can be ‘Reminisce’.

The can opener is staying in the kitchen though. It would be a pain to have to go into the living room every time I had to open cat food.

This is how I spent my evening...crafting this for your viewing pleasure.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Lucky Girl




Friday, November 25, 2011

Four Reasons Why a Soccer Ball is Better Than a Fork

I've shamelessly stolen this idea from the blogs The Oatmeal and Hyperbole and a Half. You should read those blogs instead. They're hilarious.

1. A Soccer Ball is More Fun to Play With

Soccer Ball:


2. Heading a Soccer Ball Doesn't Hurt, But Heading a Fork Does

Soccer Ball:


3. Round Things That are Kinda Soft are Often Better Than Sharp, Pokey Things

Soccer Ball:


4. Both Soccer Balls and Forks Can Be Used To Eat Pie

Soccer Ball:



Friday, November 18, 2011

Painted With the Same Brush: Marketing Soccer to Women

The paint company CIL solicited advice from the public to come up with some new names for its colours. I think this is probably just a grab for free publicity, but their press materials say that they feel that men ‘give the final nod’ in a couple’s paint colour decisions, and would more likely choose a paint colour called “Beer Time” instead of “Butterscotch Tempest”. Some of the other new CIL paint names meant to appeal to men:

Midlife Crisis
Brute Force
Old Sweat Pants
Pimpin’ the Trans-Am

What, no “Let One Rip”, “Four Beer Belch” or “Remote Control”?

As imperfect as this list is, it’s given me an idea, and I need your help. I’d like to get more women out to Monday night soccer, since lately I’m the only one (Chrissy, where are you?) and I’ve decided, like CIL, that perhaps it’s all about how it’s marketed. How can I appeal to women to come play with us?

I looked at the covers of a number of women’s magazines for research on marketing. Most headlines are related to:

Weight loss
Glowing skin
The latest boots for fall
Saving time
Meeting men
and uh, pleasuring men.

Apparently, as a woman, this is what I care about. (Really? Both this and the CIL list are depressing. Neither men nor women want to all be painted with the same brush as their entire gender.) However, if, like CIL, I’m going to follow the norm and work directly from this list, I can create my own headlines to advertise Monday night soccer to the fairer sex. (I apologize in advance that all my headlines end with exclamation marks.) What do you think?

Kick Those Pounds to the Curb with our New Soccer Workout! (This is obviously not true because if playing soccer was all you needed to thin out then I’d be down to my birth weight. But nearly every exercise weight loss claim is bogus, so let’s go with it.)

Get Glowing Skin in Time for the Holidays! (Technically true, since ‘glow’ is the old-timey term for female sweat.)

Makeup Secrets from the Pros! (To be fair, these secrets would probably be things like “Jeez - don’t play soccer if you want your make-up to look nice!” and “If you play, you will get chunks of mascara all your cheeks, even if you use ‘turbo proof’ washable brands – what were you thinking?!”)

Falls Latest Boots! (These would be soccer boots, obviously.)

Save Time with Soccer! (Like every single ‘time-saving’ invention introduced in the last few years, anything I could come up with here will not save us much time for long. But before you’ve proven yourself to the guys, I guess you could get a lot of mental planning done while you run up and down the field, not getting passed to.)

A New Way to Meet Interesting Single Men! (You will not meet interesting single men if you come to Monday night soccer with me. You will meet sweaty, sarcastic, married men. I guess there’s a chance one of them might bring a recently divorced, middle-aged friend though. He will also be sweaty and sarcastic. Single ladies: try to contain your enthusiasm.)

The Touch that Gives Him Pleasure! ( Most of the dudes at Monday night soccer would definitely be pleased if you had a great ‘touch’ with the ball and could do a sweet cross from the left wing so they could head it in and take all the glory for the goal. Can you do that? If so, please, please come out and play with us. I don’t care if you’re a man or a woman. We need you.)