World Champions

So, the Rose City Rollers, my league, won the world championships. To do so, they defeated Gotham Girls Roller Derby. Gotham had gone unbeaten in their last 67 games and been the world champions for the past 5 years. It was a huge night in the derby world and for Rose City.
I’ve never felt so disconnected from my league.

As an official, I take my commitment to impartiality VERY seriously. I’m not just impartial when I’m working, I’m ALWAYS impartial. (Honestly, does anyone believe that an official who cheers for ‘their’ team/league one minute can be impartial for the hour that it takes them to work a game?) So while the whole damn derby world, including many other officials from my league, are cheering their fool heads off, I’m over here in the corner with my game face on. I felt so dejected that I had to leave the venue before the awards ceremony. As I was leaving, I stopped to shake hands with Agent Meow, the league’s dj who’d been spinning for that final game. He was in tears and when I shook his hand, I came close to breaking too. I feel very alone.

 

On the upside, I looked snazzy in my new NSO shirts.

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Organizing chaos

Last RPG post for at least a few days, I promise.

Dungeons & Dragons, well, actually, Wizards of the Coast, does a public play thing. Every Wednesday, kinda wherever one may roam, there’s this thing called Adventurer’s League, D&D Encounters. It’s essentially the first few chapters of whatever the current campaign season is. The first season was Tyranny of Dragons. The second was Princes of the Apocalypse. And the third (current) season is Rage of Demons. So on Wednesdays, various game shops (and other places) host public play. It’s an opportunity for new and veteran players to come enjoy an evening of play. Every shop has a coordinator; towns/counties have a Local Coordinator. I guess there are area coordinators and regional coordinators, etc. Well, I am sort of the store coordinator for TimeSync Gaming in Salem. Mostly that means that I make sure that there are DMs to run the tables. On the one hand, it’s a good fit for my need for structure. On the other hand, my need for structure can make it a little frustrating when others don’t feel the same need.

For the past couple months, we’ve been running the main storyline, Out of the Abyss. But in November, we are giving the DMs a break and running a different series of adventures. We run three tables each week so we need three DMs. One of my DMs for tonight is calling in sick. I only have 2 DMs for next week, and possibly only 1 for the following two weeks (me).

It would be nice to feel like I didn’t have to go tonight, because I am flying to Minnesota early tomorrow morning (more on that tomorrow). But then there is that over-developed sense of responsibility.

 

Reading: Elminster: The Making of a Mage, The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag, Underwood and Flinch

Cuvette verte

Last weekend I attended a multi-game event. In truth, I was somewhat disappointed. Very few skaters signed up to come play. For the black and white scrimmages, each side typically only had 6 or 7 skaters. There were enough skating officials for 2 crews, but not enough NSOs for even a single full crew. I found out when I arrived at the event that I was sort of a crew head and I was expected to do some on-the-job training for the other NSOs. Some of these NSOs were the freshest of the fresh, only experienced in a single position (and not well trained at even that one). Others were of middling experience and did fine. And a couple who were pretty inexperienced really ended up doing quite well.

Some expected games got cancelled due to lack of teams to compete, and an already short schedule got shorter as the weekend progressed.

From what I could tell, the weekend was pretty beneficial for skating officials. They each got a lot of individual feedback from the tournament head ref. So, good for them and all.

The biggest problem is that this event was so far away from home. It took 4-5 hours to get there and I spent a lot more $$ on food (eating out) than I would have had I stayed home.

 

Ah well. It could have been worse. And I did get to see some people I already knew and meet some other cool people. And any weekend in which I have plans is better than a weekend wherein I have nothing to do.

Presidents’ Day Weekend

Pretty good weekend. I had to jet up to Portland on Friday afternoon to see an Oscar nominated movie, No, at the Portland International Film Festival. A derby girl friend asked if I could transport her daughter to Pioneer Square to catch a TriMet train. I contrived to get off work 30 minutes early as I felt that I needed extra time to allow for traffic, but between the extra stops for my passenger and an accident on the road, I ended up being a few minutes late for the movie; they had already resold my seat. Nevertheless, I saw all but the first few minutes of my movie. It was good.

Returning to Salem, I drove straight to a bowling alley to meet up with some derby peeps. There were seven of them there when I arrived and they were mostly through their first game. It was good to socialize with these folks, but I found that bowling alley very off-putting. It was quite expensive and the employees were rather snotty. I will not go there again. I give AMF Firebird Lanes a thumbs-down.

 

Saturday I attended a roller derby boot camp put on by the CCDG travel team, 8 Wheel Assassins. It was a beginner group, but I was far and away the only true beginner there. Also the only guy. 🙂 The other students were much steadier on their wheels than me, and I’m sure got a lot more out of the session. I do think I learned some things, and I look forward to practicing those skills and getting better. I’m signed up for the next two sessions (in March and April) but I am embarrassed and frustrated at my lack of coordination and feel guilty that so much individual attention needed to be given to me. Not that the other students were short-changed, but I am super uncomfortable being the center of attention and even more so when it’s while doing something I’m not good at. Really, I’m just embarrassed.

After boot camp, I met with the other folks from the production team for The Forum on KMUZ. I’d call it a fruitful meeting.

Saturday evening was a bout and it was the first time I wasn’t an NSO for a bout at the Mad House since I started with derby. I did have a job; I was assisting Hitman with the event coordinator duties. One sour note, a friend had asked for a ticket on Thursday and I’d purchased one for her. She’d made the request for the ticket on facebook and within 10 minutes I confirmed that I would acquire one for her. I said that I’d leave it at will-call unless she wanted to make other arrangements. Anyway, during halftime on Saturday night, I go and check to see if she’s picked up her ticket. She had not. Turns out that after asking me for a ticket, she didn’t check back to see if I’d done as she requested and just went ahead and bought one for herself. WTF?? It’s not that I mind spending the money, but I went out of my way for her and in return I get treated like something she needs to scrape of the sole of her shoe. Plus, it means that someone who wanted to attend the bout didn’t get to because the event was sold out. Not cool.

Post-bout, I went to the afterparty, which was pretty anemic. Oh well, I got to chat with a few of the Kittens.

 

Sunday I got up early in the morning to attend the 8:30 Mass. I was scheduled to sing at 11 AM, and going to the earlier Mass allowed me to learn the songs. 🙂 I got home from church by 1:00 and after a little TV, took a nap. That was nice. That evening, back to Portland for another Oscar nominee, Kon-Tiki. This time I was plenty early and got a good seat. Had a nice chat with fellow attendees too, including one woman who shared my disdain for Beasts of the Southern Wild. Kon-Tiki was an EXCELLENT movie! It’s my pick for Best Foreign Film. Didn’t get home until 11:00 that night.

 

Monday was a holiday and I took advantage of the day off by sleeping in a little. In the late morning I went shopping and bought a couple of shirts and pairs of pants. (I’m getting fat again. 🙁 ) I then saw the last of the foreign films for this years Academy Awards, Amour. The movie was good, and Emmanuelle Riva was great, but the best movie of the year it was not. I was feeling a little tired so I opted not to see a second film, Warm Bodies. I’ll shoot for next Saturday. I finished off my weekend with more tv. (I’ve really been falling behind.)

Lunchtime Ponderings #1

First in an occasional series of things I think about during lunch.

Today’s lunch involved a walk over to Safeway to buy some vitamins and a sandwich. The sandwich was good enough, but it took just about forever to get through the line to order it. I probably won’t be heading to Safeway for lunch too often.

Anyway, during the stroll I thought about the virtues of friendship and loyalty. I can hardly claim to be a completely virtuous man; I have SO many faults. But I have always felt that I do a very good job in the loyalty department. And not too long ago, I had someone else tell me that this was the trait she thinks of when she thinks of me. I guess I take this quality for granted and am shocked and surprised when it is missing in others. The perplexing question for me is why do I sometimes choose to befriend people who do not seem to value or manifest loyalty. When I am hurt by the actions or inactions of my friends, I tend to accept that I bear the responsibility for how I feel. I did choose these people after all. Oh sure, the first instance may come out of the blue, but as the old Russian saying goes, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”

So here’s the question, why do keep placing myself in the position to be so disappointed by some people. Is the lack of loyalty an example of being good to each other? I think not.

 

So, last disclaimer(s). I’m not really looking for anyone to answer/respond. I’m sure we are all searching for meaning in this life and this is just me giving voice to something with which I am wrestling. Also, I have many, many areas in which I am deficient. We could talk about any number of those and I wouldn’t be on such a high horse about them. Today, I was thinking about loyalty, an area in which I tend to score highly. Tomorrow may well be about perseverance or discipline or motivation, all areas in which I suck tremendously. I’m not making myself out to be some sort of noble higher being. Finally, I am not, by any means, painting everyone I know with the same brush. I have many, many people in my life who are tremendously loyal. There are just a few who have really fallen short. And I’m sure I fall short in some areas for them.

Vindication and apology due

This story is years late in the telling.

Throughout my 20s, I had in my circle(s) of friends, numerous supporters/advocates of the LIFE TEEN program.
I was not one of these supporters.

LIFE TEEN was (is?) a youth program centered around the celebration of the Mass. Typically, a parish would identify one weekend Mass, usually Sunday night, as a LIFE TEEN or ‘youth’ Mass which would be followed by the LIFE Night (youth group meeting). At the Mass, the homily, music, and pretty much everything else was prepared with an eye towards appealing to and connecting with teenagers. So, for example, the music was often led by a band and the songs that were selected would, as many times as not, come from hits on Contemporary Christian Radio. Teens would fill all the ministerial roles (except presider), regardless of their ability to do well at that role. During the Eucharistic Prayer, teens (and only teens) would be invited to come up around the altar, presumably to help them feel closer to Christ. Because as we all know, proximity equals depth of spiritual and emotional connection. At the end of Mass, LIFE TEEN replaced the dismissal text, “The Mass is ended, go in Peace.” with “The Mass never ends, it must be lived.” Frequently, hand gestures were proscribed to accompany some of the ritual music or other moments in the Mass. And there were, perhaps, many other local flavors to the way a LIFE TEEN Mass was done.

Well, I alone among my friends did not approve of all these things that were being done, starting with the very concept of a ‘youth’ Mass. I believe that all Masses are for all people. To single out a group and make a Mass (especially a weekly Mass) focus on or dedicated to that group denies the universality of Mass. Supporters of these things will say that separate but equal is sufficient; as long as everybody has a Mass that they can go to, we can carve out one for that most vulnerable of groups, teens. I have also heard, many times, that this or that parish has several Masses for adults, what’s wrong with having just this one for teens? My position, of course, is that those other Masses aren’t just for adults, they’re for everybody.

Although I didn’t have a particular objection to people going up into the sanctuary for the Eucharistic Prayer, I felt it was wrong to only invite some of the people who’d gathered for Mass. Because, you see, most of the people in attendance were not teens but adults, the parents and supporters of teens. Ignoring the majority of the gathered faithful was a recurring theme at LIFE TEEN Masses. I remember attending the very first LIFE TEEN Mass at St. Anthony’s in Manteca, CA. The presider had what must have seemed like a clever way of resetting the room for Communion. Following the Eucharistic Prayer, to clear the sanctuary, the priest invited the assembled teens to exchange with one another a sign of peace, and then to go back out to the pews to exchange a sign of peace with everyone else. I and the rest of the adults there for Mass weren’t invited to exchange a sign of peace; we were an afterthought, a prop to get the teens back away from the altar.

Anyway, my friends had no issues with any of this. As long as we were doing everything we could think of to coddle and cater to the little darlings (teens), we could do no wrong. No such thing as abuse in service to the greater good. We would often argue about the legitimacy of the practices of LIFE TEEN. I was always alone on my side of the issue whereas supporters of LIFE TEEN would close ranks against me.

Then, in 2004, LIFE TEEN, the formal organization, was called to task by bishops and other officials in the Church. They were to stop calling teens up around the altar and saying, “The Mass never ends…” at the end of Mass. So we have at least a partial correction, one which eliminates the most visible of the abuses.

I think these friends of mine owe me an apology.

 

I don’t even know if LIFE TEEN is really around any more or if it retains any of the cachet that it seemed to have 15 years ago. The lasting effect for me is that I feel like my friendships really suffered. I was never part of the “in” crowd. I was aware that my friends often gathered to celebrate and share their faith, but I was seldom invited. I suppose I needed different friends. As a result of moving (and possibly something that led to me moving), I am not friends with any of these people any more. I wish things could have been different because many of them are great people.

As is typical for me, the impetus to write this up and post it has evaporated as a result of writing it. Cathartic I suppose. Nevertheless, I’ll post it as a record and reminder of what I was feeling and thinking.

 

A song that we used to sing that helped me get through some of the times of strained relationships is Press On (written by Bob Filoramo).

For the man who follows Jesus all the days of his life, picks up his cross and walks with his God, a glorious inheritance awaits him at the end where he will see and know his true Father, and the pearl of great price is in his hand.

(Refrain)
So as for me I will press on in running the race with my eyes fixed on Jesus who inspires and perfects my faith, I will fight the good fight with all my heart and soul ‘til the day that I’m with Jesus, the day I’m finally home, the day that I have won the crown.

He will approach the throne of his Father with Jesus at his side, the Father will rise and say, “Welcome home! You’re a good and faithful servant, come in and take your reward. The battle’s done come, and take your rest. Stay with me for evermore”.

(Refrain)

And the heavens will resound with a thunder of praise, the Angels and the Saints will shout for joy. And the Father will dance for his son has come home. Another warrior returns from the fight. Another victory for the Lamb of God.

(Refrain)

Drama Around Oregon

I’m a member of several Meetup groups. These groups have been very helpful in my first few months here in that they’ve greatly facilitated the meeting of new people. I’ve gone on numerous hikes, some dinner outings, several coffee meetups, dancing, photography, book clubs… I’ve met some great people. But there has also been drama.

One group I’m in is based out of the college town 30 minutes south of where I live. It was initially set up as a summer outdoor activity group. Let me bore you with some history.

The group came to be in May. The organizer (whom I’ve never met) scheduled a few meetups to discuss what kinds of things the group ought to be doing. It seems like this founder only paid for a month’s worth of service to the Meetup.com website and then elected not to renew at the end of that month. At the beginning of July, one gentleman in the group, let’s call him Ecurb, was thinking about stepping up (and paying the subscription fee) to become the new organizer, but he decided to sleep on it. By the next morning, another member, Abby, had already paid the fee and become the group’s leader/organizer. Ecurb contacted Abby and let her know that he’d been considering the role and offered his help. Abby made Ecurb a co-organizer.

A couple of activities were planned for July and August, and I joined the group for a hike in September. This hike was only the fourth activity for the group since its reboot. Starting in October, the group got much more active, at least in terms of how often meetups were scheduled. Ecurb was doing most of the scheduling, but Abby had organized a bike ride for Oct. 9. I was attending all the meetups and Ecurb asked if I’d be interested in being a co-organizer too. Sure, I said. Make it happen. Abby didn’t make it to the bike ride she’d scheduled, but did alert us ahead of time.

By the end of October, it had been nearly two months since I’d seen or heard from Abby. I did hear that life had gotten pretty busy for her, and that’s fine. What I did want was a bit of discussion amongst the organizers as to what the group would be doing as we moved forward. Anyway, towards the end of October, Abby did schedule two or three more meetups so we knew she was alive.

*Side note #1*
Following a hike at the end of October, 8 of us went to lunch at a local Mexican restaurant. They were apparently short-handed that day and the service reflected that. I am always very chill when in that kind of situation. First of all, I understand that for the most part, they are doing the best they can. Certainly my getting upset won’t help the situation. Second, if I feel that this is what I can typically expect from the place, I just won’t go there again. I realize not everyone reacts the same way. Ecurb in particular was quite vocal about his displeasure with the service. I was really uncomfortable with how he dealt with the situation. Despite the fact that we’d been going out to eat after every hike for the past two months, I decided that I would not be eating out with Ecurb again.

*Side note #2*
Ecurb is quite a bit more eco/hippy than me. Nothing wrong with that, just different. Whereas I react to the fact that the seasons are changing and the weather is likely to be MUCH more rainy for the next several months by looking to plan indoor activities for the group, Ecurb feels that getting drenched is just part of Oregon living and we should embrace it. He even responds to a discussion about what to do during the winter by scheduling a hike and calling it, “The question asks, ‘What should we do?’. I reply, ‘Enjoy planet Earth'” instead of “McDonald Forest Hike”. Not at all descriptive of the hike itself. But whatever, that’s just Ecurb being Ecurb. Not a huge deal.

*Back to our original story*
So a week ago, I get a message from Meetup that Abby has stepped down as organizer and someone else needs to pay for more subscription time or the group will be closed. (Ecurb did end up paying for more time and thus became the organizer.) I emailed Abby to ask what was up and she replied that she’d received a nasty-ish email from Ecurb chastising her for not living up to his idea of leadership. Her response was along the lines of, “If he wants to be in charge, fine, he can be in charge.” A day later she quit the group entirely. While I think that her rage quitting was an overreaction, I blame Ecurb for stirring up all this mess for no reason and for no gain. There was NOTHING that he or I couldn’t do as co-organizers that he can now do as the primary organizer. He’s emailed me a couple of times since this incident to criticize Abby and to explain some of his thoughts on leadership. But I’ll say it again, we’ve gained not a single thing as a result of stirring up this shiz, and not only have we lost Abby as a member, but one of her friends has departed as well. There may be more to come. Gaahhh! So idiotic to have initiated this drama. Well done, Ecurb.

 

*Some closing notes*

  • I haven’t really gone into this much detail about how I feel about the situation with Ecurb. You may ask why not. Well, two reasons. One, much like my attitude about poor customer service, I’m not one to inflict my opinions on others as to how I feel about their behavior. People can do whatever they want, and I can react however I want. My reaction is to distance myself from those people. Second, I haven’t seen Ecurb in person since this all ‘sploded.
  • It’s entirely possible that he will be reading this post. I’ve changed the names to protect the innocent and the guilty, but anyone halfway aware of the people involved will recognize the players with no difficulty.
  • I’m at least 50% tempted to drop this group myself. I don’t need the drama. But before I go that far, I’ll try some distance for a while. Who knows, my lack of 100% participation may motivate Ecurb to send me a nasty email complaining about my leadership.

Final post

This will be my last post here.

Here’s the secret that I’m always afraid someone will find out. I suck at life. I am hopeless when it comes to managing money. I’ve tried to get better, and honestly, maybe I have. But I am staring at the biggest financial crisis of my life right now and I’m just about ready to give up hope. Last month, there was an $800 wage assessment on my paycheck. IRS. I guess I didn’t do my taxes right or something. This month, there was another assessment on my paycheck. $1500. I guess I REALLY didn’t do my taxes right. Or was late. Or forgot to file last year. I don’t know. Maybe all of the above. Anyway, this month’s paycheck doesn’t even cover rent, nevermind utilities, food, car payment, etc.

You see, somehow, I’ve become an avoider. Something unpleasant comes along, and I do my best ostrich imitation. Yeah, maybe it will go away. Thing is, it almost never does. It might fade from sight for awhile, but it always seems to come back, and just when I’m least prepared for it. Yes, yes. I know. I need to be different. Believe me, I’m trying. It’s not something I talk about much because it’s rather embarrassing and humiliating really. I really believed that I was on track to getting all caught up and maybe even getting ahead by the end of this year. Maybe that could still happen if I wasn’t getting laid off. Maybe it can still happen if I find a new job quickly. But will I be able to eat in the mean time? Will I still be able to live here? Will I still have a car?

Yes friends, I suck at life. I’m really ready for things to get easier.

In any case, I won’t be paying to continue hosting this blog, and I really don’t feel up to the whimsy that inspired the blog anyway. Thanks for reading.

Wedding shoot

I assisted with a wedding today. I was, again, late showing up for taking pictures of the guys because I don’t have iPhone service at the moment. The groom’s mom was not happy with the situation, but I did my best to smooth things over and took some shots. Then, I heard that the principle photographer wasn’t at the bride’s house yet so I high-tailed it over there to get some shots of the bride getting ready. I didn’t get to go in for the putting on of the dress (more’s the pity), but the girls called me in right after and I got several shots of the jewelry and garter and shoes going on. Such a beautiful bride! The photog did show up soon after and took a crapload of photos. She’s a nice woman, but not super organized. Good thing she’s a talented photographer! All told, I took something like 750 photos throughout the day. I showed some of them to her, and she was complimentary. That was nice.

Anyway, I’ll TRY to post a couple of the shots I took here tomorrow.

Though I saw it all around, never thought I could be affected

I had a meeting with my photographer associate today about helping her with a shoot tomorrow. I was 30 minutes late because I couldn’t find her house. I went to use Maps on my iPhone only to find out that I’ve had a service interruption. I was sure I’d paid that bill, but maybe not. I don’t know. It’s just one thing after another sometimes.

When I went for my run today, it was really hard. I am just feeling down and dispirited and the difficulty of the run was almost too much. Just when are things supposed to get easier?
I mentioned my difficulty in a Twitter/Facebook post and a couple of friends replied with some words of encouragement. Yeah, it made me cry a little.

I submitted a couple more job applications today. We’ll see.

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