Monthly Archives: May 2019

The end of wrestling (original draft March 2011)

Wrestling ended officially last weekend with the annual Wrestling banquet and honors ceremony for the team. For us it was the final banquet, and very bittersweet.

Wrestling is over for Andrew. He has no plans on wresting in college and, as far as I know, there are no wrestling “pick up” matches in which former wrestlers can participate if they get the urge to wrestle — unlike many other sports such as basketball, baseball and football.

I don’t have a lot of regrets, but one I do have is not being interested in Andrew’s sporting life earlier. I rarely went to any of his soccer or rugby matches or basketball games when he was young, and while I probably went to more wrestling events because they were inside, didn’t go to most of them up through middle school. I understood none of the rules of any of the sports he liked and was not interested enough to try to learn. I’ll never get those days back for a re-do.

Once he got into high school and was chosen the varsity wrestling team as a freshman, I began to take an interest. I volunteered to redesign and manage the team website and attended most of the meets and tournaments throughout his high school career. I learned the rules, screamed directions to the wrestlers with the best of them, and cursed out the referees poor calls like a pro. I developed an appreciation for all of the sensory assaults experiences one encounters at a wrestling tournament: the shrill whistles, loud buzzers and screaming fans; the scent of hundreds of sweating adolescent bodies mingled with the odor of bleach used to sanitize the mats; the backache from sitting for hours on hard, backless bleachers; the sight of constant movement on the gym floor under unforgiving gymnasium lighting; the taste of whatever was sold in the concession stands.

I am so proud of my son and what he accomplished these four years as a wrestler. I believe that much of what he’s become as a young man (a delightful, smart, charming, kind, thoughtful, strong young man) is due to his experience on the wrestling team. I wrote about his coach a few years ago — but it was even more than that. It was his team. His teammates. His opponents. It was the whole experience that helped shape him.

The facts that he took first place in the county and region and fourth place at States are admirable as is his inclusion on the local newspaper’s  “first” team, but even without these honors, I would have been proud of him. They’re just added value — icing on the cake.

Here’s to the end of wrestling — the end of an era for us. We’ve got a lot of memories and a whole lot of photos.

Here’s my favorite. He’s hugging his coach after his very last wrestling match of his high school career. He lost, but took 4th.

DSC_0474

On Writing (originally drafted 2010)

Original draft

For as long as I can remember I’ve wanted to write. I dreamed of someday being published and having people read what I’d written.  In 2000 or so one of my grad school professors asked me if I’d help him with part of a book he was writing for AOL. I was in charge of an annotated appendix about various software and websites on photography and found the writing and research part easy, but the formatting part impossible. The professor ended up doing the formatting and also, I discovered when I got my copy of the book, pretty much changed every annotation I wrote — using words I’d never uttered in my life (maven was one of them). That experience sort of squashed my desire to be published. It seemed like a lot more work than I was willing to do.  My words would, no doubt, be changed anyway. Oh, and I hate rejection.

As you may know, I kept a journal (actually many journals) for several years. The trouble with journals was: no one read them but me, so all the creative energy I put into writing entries was sort of wasted. I remembered when my 10th grade English teacher read my journals and commented on things I wrote — it sort of validated something in me — that I had a voice.

Then I discovered blogging. I remember searching for journaling software — I wanted to type my journals instead of write them long-hand — and stumbled upon Blogger. I thought it was a perfect compromise — I could keep a journal and maybe someone would read it someday. Just like when Miss Sliger read my 10th grade journal. That was all I really wanted anyway — to write and have someone read what I wrote.

It was frustrating at first. I’d write but didn’t know if anyone was reading. The first year I had the blog not one person commented and there were no analytics attached to the software for me to see if anyone even visited. I persevered though, and did actually get published that year in an online version of a magazine.

Addendum

I am not sure where I was going with this or why I wrote it. Maybe just to say that blogging is my way of writing and even if no one reads it, it really is all about getting it out there.

Since writing this I was also published (twice) in a newspaper supplement about my time spent in Chetek, Wisconsin. They posted some blog posts of mine with my permission.

I feel that my writing is suffering from either my old age or my lack of practice. I read things I wrote years ago (like these drafts that I am going through today) and am surprised at how much better my writing was then.

Dean suggested that when I retire I should take a class at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda. That would be cool.

A dysfunctional non-profit (draft from 2009 or 2010)

Addendum

Wow. I don’t remember writing this ten years ago, but I imagine that I didn’t post it because I feared the wrath of the outgoing Director of Operations in case she stealthily read my blog. The film group is still going strong, even after the death of our president. I continue to do the website and write and send the emails. We have only two other active board members — the doer-of-all-things and a film reviewer who helps select films and has some contact with some embassies. We met last weekend and decided the show must go on but two out of three of us are tired of it.

We’ll probably keep going. I promised to be more active after retirement. I also suggested that the doer-of-all-things say a few words before each film, mostly about how we really need help.

Original Draft

Before I had kids I don’t think I ever volunteered for anything — but once they were in school and I got a taste of volunteering for school-related events and organizations, I couldn’t get enough. That was also around the time I’d acquired a new skill (web design) and my “talents” were needed.

One non-school organization I volunteered to create a web page for was a local film group. I found out about it because I’d heard about a film on public radio that didn’t get wide release and I saw that this film group was showing it. I was so excited about this group that I bought a season subscription and soon after volunteered to redesign their web site. They invited me to join their board of directors, and I’ve been on it ever since.

The board consists of a president (the original founder of the club), a film discussion leader, a treasurer, a secretary (who writes all the press releases), a web designer and email list keeper (that would be me), and a director of operations (a job that has the most frequent turnover rate).

The president is sometimes hard to work with. She has strong opinions about what we should do as a film group and sometimes I disagree. For instance she decided we should not serve coffee or bagels this year because she thought the price was restrictive. While she did give in to allowing coffee to be served, she steadfastly refused to provide bagels. Instead she bought a few dozen tiny muffins which were gone long before the last patron went past the coffee area. However, I understand that this film group is ultimately hers. She founded it and, I think, should have the final say, even if the board disagrees.

The job of director of operations (a name that one of the folks who held that job created for himself a few years ago) is probably the hardest one, but as with all of the other positions on the board, has no set list of duties. The first person that held the job when I became involved in the group did the following:

  • ordered the films the president chose
  • sent the films back to the distributor
  • acted as treasurer
  • sent email alerts to our patrons reminding them that a film would be shown the following Sunday
  • instructed me as to how the web site should look

After that person quit we found a new treasurer and I took over the email alerts, so the job was a little easier on this member of the board. I think that this person then took on the responsibility of helping the president order the films as well.

He lasted a year and when the president could not find someone to take over, asked if I’d help out. I did, but I hated the job. I hated contacting the distributors, especially if I had to do it over the phone. I hated the tension of wondering if the movie would get to the theater on time. I hated the fact that the job took up so much of my time.

Luckily midway through my year as the director of operations a patron of our film club decided to take on this job. She was recently retired* and wanted a new challenge. She did a great job and added “outreach” to her list of duties. Because of her we increased our film patrons. She also had many ideas for the group.

I agreed with some of her ideas: sending emails to the local embassies when we were showing a film in their native language, increasing patrons by inviting other groups, and continuing offering free bagels and coffee when the president was ready to give up doing so.

However, I did not agree with her idea of sponsoring a film festival or sponsoring a trip to a film festival. She also had grand plans for our website, based on her cousin’s advice. She thought our site is boring. Her cousin’s site is trashy and reminiscent of something from the late 1990’s. She wanted to use our email list to send out a request to see if the film patrons wanted to join her on her trip to Africa this summer. I guard our email list ferociously and refused her request.

She still wants our patrons to be able to order tickets online and pay with credit card. While I agree that might generate more income, I don’t want to be responsible for credit card numbers of anyone but my own. I foresee big problems if we accept credit cards, especially online.

Three weeks ago this woman sent an email to the board announcing her resignation. The email was hurtful, in my opinion, and if it were directed at me I would have thought, “good riddance”.  However, it seems that some members of the board, including the person it was directed at, have asked her to reconsider.

Yesterday she sent another email saying that she’d reconsider if she were given the rights to making all decisions regarding the operations of the group.

I was shocked. In my opinion, what she is asking is to have the dictatorship (which is what I think we really have) transferred from the president to herself.

If it were not for the group losing the treasurer and most probably the director of operations, I’d resign myself. This is just too much for me to deal with. I hope that the president calls a board meeting to discuss this because it is too much to handle over emails.


*A few years ago I discovered some interesting fun facts about the woman who was briefly the Director of Operations’ position.