Monday, October 19, 2009

Make Me Feel It


It’s not even a week since I posted my very first blog, and my fingers have been twitching to start the next one ever since. You know, strike while the iron is hot and all that. Though in this case it’s more like strike while the builders are being relatively quiet. I won’t go into my renovation stories here, as I can usually spit out what I need to say about that in 140 characters or less on Twitter. Any more than that, and you’ll all start whistling and tiptoe away from this page. Let’s face it, I know that my own personal Bob the Builder narrative would be boring to everybody else.

I have been browsing a lot of other blogs lately, in hindsight I realize it was a scouting mission of sorts, and have noticed that most people’s first postings are about themselves or why they started blogging. Remiss of me not to have done that, but I have never been one to do what’s expected. Or what’s logical.

It started when a friend, who seems to have similar tastes to me in a lot of different areas, and whose opinion I highly respect and value, recommended a posting on a blog as a great read. Oh fab, couldn’t wait to check it out, as I figured this would give me an indication of whether I have the ability to do something remotely as good, or whether I should just pack up my keyboard and my little blog brainwaves, retire to the front porch with a rocking chair and start crocheting blankets.

So I read it. By the end of the first couple of paragraphs I already had a nagging feeling that it wasn’t going to float my boat. I persisted and waited expectantly for something to grab me, a line, a phrase, anything to spark my interest and engage me. When I got to the end, I stared at it, convinced I must be overlooking something. A quick reread seemed to be the next step, so I desperately ran my eyes over it once more, still believing I must be missing the hidden wow factor. And then it hit me, an epiphany, that what I was missing was any emotion. In myself.

When I read something I like, I am usually enthused about what’s coming next, but all I was hoping was coming in this blog was “the end”. I was blank. If I want to be soothed or lulled to the point of boredom, verging on slipping into a coma, I will watch Question Time in Parliament, study 100 Years of Australian Cricket Statistics or listen to glockenspiel music infused with whale sounds.

What I want when I sit down to read, whether it be on the sofa with a cuppa and a much anticipated paperback, or at the pc with a red wine and a friendly-looking blogspot, is to FEEL something. Happy, sad, excited, uplifted, intrigued, outraged ....any of these would do. If the writer’s angle is to be funny and I have reacted with anything from a few wry grins to a raucous belly laugh, then it’s a winner. If it is a depressing piece of prose, but I have frowned, sighed or shed floods of tears, then it too is a triumph. When a blog aims to leave me enlightened or inspired, then it needs to make me want to learn more, be involved more, read that book, listen to that music, see that movie, join that cause, sponsor that child, take up that hobby, rush to the phone and order that Hip & Thigh Fat Blaster Thingy....okay, maybe not that.

Of course the best blog in the world would be a melting pot of everything I need, a rainbow of emotion-inducing words, but I know they will be few and far-between. I have no pretensions of even being a writer’s asshole, but I do know what I like. I’m thrilled if somebody transports me to another world, or paints me a picture with their words, or stirs up a distant recollection of my own experiences. Just make me feel it.

A few days later, the same friend endorsed another blog posting. I wondered if there was a kind of precious blog buddies clique, where everyone spouts about each others efforts and pats each other on the back, regardless of quality, like every child in the class getting a gold star. I hesitated to read it, the memory of the first one still a little fresh, a bit like childbirth memories that are too recent and painful and we have no desire to revisit them. But sweet smiles, reassurance and massive sleep deprivation make us forgetful and we go back for seconds. So curiosity got the better of me, I am a female after all, and I clicked on the link with some trepidation. Opening paragraph, I smiled. I’d had my first emotion drawn out of me so I was already hooked. I read everything with interest and truly enjoyed it. Faith restored.

I know I will not always love every posting in a particular blog, just as people will not love everything I have to say, and I accept that I will not always agree with friends over what constitutes a good read. We are all different, we look for varied things to occupy or amuse us, to get our brains humming, or to calm us down. For example, metal music is not my thing at all, but I dearly love some friends who thrive on it. (if they ever read this, I love you guys, but Slayer? really?) I will probably, whether intentional or not, flirt with a little bit of everything in my musings, and judgment on my success is really up to the reader. If you smiled at ‘glockenspiel’, cringed at ‘childbirth memories’, laughed at ‘Fat Blaster’, or were outraged at ‘asshole’, then today I succeeded.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Everything Changes, Yet Everything Stays The Same


So the new season begins, you have your members passes in your hand, granting you the privilege of sitting in the same hard, plastic seats you have graced for almost 20 years. You wonder briefly if you will still be coming to the games at an age when you will need to bring a cushion.

All the familiar faces are back, ready to ride the rollercoaster with you again. People who have become like an extended family to you, and yet somehow they are still strangers. You know their first names, but not their surnames. You see them almost weekly for six months, then not at all for six months. You have looked at their photos and listened to their stories. You have watched their hair get greyer, those who are lucky to still have hair, that is. Some have hairlines you have watched recede until they have finally taken to shaving it all off. You have watched their faces get more lined, their climb up and down the steps get slower, and you marvel at how everybody else has aged except for you. Then with a wry smile you admit they are probably thinking the same thoughts.

There is the couple in front, luckily neither of them very tall, so you have had a gloriously uninterrupted view all these years. You know the husband will never be at any Wednesday night games because he plays lawn bowls and he doesn’t give that up for anything. You know when he disagrees with a referees’ decision, he will throw his arms in the air in disbelief and turn around to ask your opinion.

There’s the couple off to the right, you know all about their no-good son-in-law but you never point out that maybe the daughter has issues too, since he is their fourth son-in-law. You know all about their dodgy builder, the air-conditioning which caused so many problems, the plumber who ripped them off and the whole swimming pool/landscaping saga. In fact you could probably describe the exact layout of their home for any would-be burglar, but you have never been there. You look for the young couple in the row behind who had a baby, wondering what will happen this season. The previous year they took it in turns coming to games, while the other stayed home to babysit. You found that admirable, but sad that they couldn’t come together anymore. You notice she is there on her own and offer a smile.

You have watched the family across the aisle grow, from a young couple so passionate about the game, through what seemed a never-ending pregnancy with twins, to the addition of a third child. The area under their seats, where once there was a stylish handbag, is now littered with drink bottles, toys, snacks and pacifiers. Prada has been superseded by Dora the Explorer.

You know the woman in front of them more than most, since she used to teach your kids at school. You watched your kids change their perception of her from authority figure to actual human being, just because she goes to the games too. What a leveler sport can be. You know the guy a few rows in front will always wear a cap indoors, probably in an attempt to hide his afore-mentioned receding hairline from us all. He also brings a cushion. You are still deciding if that makes him old or smart.

You know the guy who has the tickets alongside you will not sit there, as that would interfere with his stronger desire to hold up the bar at the top of the steps. Except for the one night you bring along friends, telling them they’ll be able to sit with you, no problems. That’s the game the drunk chooses to bring a date and show some decorum by buying one beer, then escorting her to his usually vacant seats. Sorry friends, you have to go up to the nosebleed section now. You know the two young guys in front will always get up and start moving towards the exit with two minutes to go in the game, presumably to avoid the crowd crush. You wonder if one or both are slightly claustrophobic or just commitment- phobes.

There’s the row of guys who stand up the back, within dashing distance of both the bar and the men’s room. You know that after half-time when the amber fluid has been flowing freely, they will get louder, starting chants and cheers, getting the crowd to join in. You roll your eyes occasionally but start cheering because you secretly love it. And then your kids roll their eyes.

Off to the left in the next section, there’s the dad and his disabled son. Dad struggles down the steps, helping his son with one hand, clutching a cup of beer in the other. You know that half his beer will have probably slopped out by the time he reaches his seat, but you also know he doesn’t care. The smiles on both their faces confirm it.

You catch up with family members and old friends who are scattered around the stadium but all converge to a central location for a half-time beverage. You discuss the game’s progress, whether or not we’ve found the right mix to really give it a shake this time, lament the loss of a crowd favourite, and condemn the player who moved to greener pastures.

Over the off-season ownership of the team has changed, the rules of the game have been revamped, the stadium has had a lick of paint, the player roster looks like we bought a whole new team in kit form, even the catering seems to be different. An improvement though, so you don’t complain.

The one constant seems to be the people around you, the hardcore fans who return each year whether the team is looking good, bad, or downright indifferent. Week in, week out, they’ll all turn up in their team colors, hoping for the best. You know you will be there with them, and with a resigned sigh, you know you will be needing that cushion soon.
Everything changes, yet everything stays the same.

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