Saturday, December 29, 2012

Softball

It was the best of times.  It was the worst of times.  To quote a great novel, this is so true of my life with softball.  I write this post to get it all out before the new year.  I am putting some things behind me so I can be alive with joy in 2013.

Barb Wolfe started it all.  When I was a third grader at Joy Elementary she came to the school one day and talked to the girls about starting a softball league.  I had no idea what that was but I wanted to do it.  I signed up, or rather, she told me I was signed up.  She must have saw something in me and knew that my parents wouldn't do it or would forget.  They weren't sports people.

I still remember the first games I played.  I guess you can call them games.  We didn't know what the hell we were doing, but I loved it from the beginning.  I really sucked at first.  Wouldn't swing the bat.  I got walked a lot.  That first season was a lot of learning.  When I came back at 10, I knew what I was doing and I did it better than the others.  Lots of people knew who I was.  When I played for Pawloski grocery's team I was the shortstop.  I was really good. I could field the ball and if the first baseman caught it, it was great teamwork.  When I got up to bat everyone would say "move back!!!"  It felt so good.  This is when my wicked competitive nature started. I was not a nice kid on the field.  I wanted to win.  I moved to left field as I got older.  There wasn't a ball in play or out-of-bounds I couldn't run down.  Loved it.  Have a few fence-prints probably still on my back to show how I would jump to steal a homerun ball with a catch.

I still remember getting ready to go into high school.  I was so ready to play.  I sized up the current left fielder the first day of school and told her I was taking her spot.  She didn't like me much. Then the bomb hit.  My mom said that if I played high school softball she wouldn't let me play summer ball too.  I loved summer ball. I was on the same team for 4 years and they were the greatest girls in the world.  I still remember most of their names and where they played.  So I had to play tennis that first year of high school.  I was #3 singles and #1 doubles.  I hated it.  I would watch the softball team leave for the field to practice and get on the bus for games.  It was heart-breaking to me.  I still retain a lot of anger and hate from that time in my life - I am trying to let it go.  My love was torn from me.  I had a really good year in tennis and got a trophy in doubles for the city tourney or whatever it was called back then.  But it was empty.  That left fielder, Suzie, she just gave me that wicked smile every time she saw me.  She knew I had to eat my words.  The next 3 years were different.  I played softball, I didn't care at what cost.  I played hard.  I earned trophies, a MVP, and the highest batting average at the school.  That record stood for a very long time.

I played through college and had a good time.  There were some really fun girls on that team.  That's when people started talking about softball synonymous with lesbians.  What the hell were lesbians?  I never understood the connection.  Hell, if they were good players, I didn't care what they were.  They could be aliens and I was fine with it.  After college I was on many league teams.  Softball was fun.  I still wanted to win, but it was becoming fun.  The big deal then was when I played in the mixed league (men and women not lesbians and non-lesbians).  The guys would come in and I would hit it over them.  Hehe.  That was great.  They wouldn't do it a second time.

When my girls got older, I encouraged them to play.  Emmy didn't like it - she was a through and through soccer girl - flipping phenomenal that would lead to All State in high school, Erica played for a bit but her talents really were in music and speech - amazing talents that led to being a state champion.  Erin was the softball player.  She was good - better than me.  Hit more homeruns than I ever did.  She was a state and national champion. She was a catcher.  I remember one of the catchers I played with - Lynn.  She was good - really good.  Lynn had a look that I loved.  I bet the girls she stared at thought Lynn was going to kill them.  It was a GREAT look.  Erin became better than her, that's when I knew Erin had what it took.  She began to play travel ball.  That was when I was introduced to politics and who liked who in sports.  It didn't matter what Erin's stats were, if she wasn't the favorite or wasn't a coach's kid, she didn't play.  (Okay losing mind moment: CRAZY BULLSHIT THAT I WILL NEVER GET OVER.  HOW DO YOU NOT PLAY YOUR BEST PLAYERS? WTF IS THAT?)  Erin finished high school with a .492 avg.  She showed them.  I am just glad when it was over for Erin in college, she held her head high knowing she had the 3rd best batting average on her college team, led the team in homeruns, and was always a decent and kind person (she got that from her dad).  We did help get the coach removed from her position (or retired as they stated in the release).  She was a bitch, an old nasty bitch.

I do need to give a shout out to several coaches who made softball a wonderful experience for me or in my opinion for Erin during the 37 years of my life that it occupied:  Barb, Linda, Debbie, Sue, Bill, Bob and Gary (amazing shout out - I never appreciated them as much as I should have and I am sorry for that.  Gary holds a very strong place in Erin's heart now and probably always will), and Larry - Larry made Erin's last travel ball year one of her best.  Finally, a shout out to some of the memorable players for me: Lynn, Linda, Sue, Sue, Liz, Julie, Marilyn, and Tina.  I didn't have a lot of friends on the field.  I was too competitive.  These ladies I respected to no end.  I probably never told them that, but that is how I feel.

It feels so good to write this.  It allows me to finish this chapter in my life and walk away with the good memories.  Fade to black as Shelley wipes a tear from her eye...


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas as a kid

I can still see it all like it was yesterday.  I just shared these memories with my own children a few days ago.  When I was a kid having Christmas Eve at my great-grandma's was the best.  The house was jammed full of relatives.  People I saw throughout the year and those I only saw on holidays.  It was fantastic. The dining room table full of food that we could eat all evening.  No formal sit down dinner - no assigned seats - no nametags.  Just eating whenever you felt like it, wherever you felt like eating.  Between the black olives and macaroni salad, I don't understand how I didn't explode. The aunts were in the kitchen making and baking away.  The only smell that I didn't like was every time they opened that one cabinet...the one where my one grandma kept her Limburger cheese.  YUCK!!! That smell is worse than any gas ever released from any relative at any event.  And I have some smelly relatives.

The uncles would play penny-ante poker and smoke (that's back when you smoked indoors, we all breathed it in, smelled like it and no one thought anything about it). The kids ran around and used their imaginations to play games.  Yep the ol' imagination, a thing of the past.  Then would come the present opening.  Greatest event ever each year.  Everyone would cram into the living room.  Kids would be under the chairs of their parents.  There wasn't a nook unfilled or a cranny left without a person.  The presents would get passed out and then it was a FREE FOR ALL!!!!  Ripping and shredding and happiness.  Paper and bows strewn about.  It was fanflippintastic.  Then you went around the room saying what did you get? what did you get?  and then you ate some more!!!  Those were amazing and fantastic times.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Valkerie

I love dogs.  I have always loved dogs.  It started way back when I was a wee little kid.  There was Rebel, a beagle who I think the neighbors poisoned.  He did bark relentlessly and was an outside dog.  He used to bark and bark and then one day he didn't and he was dead.  I am certain it was a neighbor. I guess it was our fault.  No one ever did anything to stop the barking. Then there was my favorite, Val.

Val was an English Pointer.  A fantastic show dog who was beautiful in every way.  She even bit the mailman when she thought he was coming in the yard when we were out playing.  She just knew he was up to no good.  She was always with us.  She had a couple of litters of puppies that I remember.  They were named after gods - Loki, Freya, etc.  They were gorgeous.  My parents sold them.  I hope they lived great lives.  I tear up as I write this.  Val was amazing.  Unconditional love.  Isn't that what we are looking for and I got it. I got it for a long time.  I am so lucky.

One thing that I didn't like was that Val was beat with a rubber hose when she misbehaved.  I think that really shaped me in many ways.  I would see that and just be filled with rage.  My rage makes me cry.  I didn't know how else to manage it.  I think that was when I first started to dislike my "dad."  I use that term loosely. I will talk more about that later. This will probably piss some people off, but I don't care.  It is how I felt.  I never understood and to this day do not understand how anyone could or would beat their dog with a rubber hose.

As Val grew older, she lost control of some of her faculties and life became hard for her.  But he still had that fucking rubber hose.  I remember the day she went to the vet for the last time.  God, I loved that dog.  I use those memories to make sure I treat my dogs well.  I look forward to when I get to the point in this blog where I talk about all my dogs as an adult.  They tell a lot about me.  A lot...

Saturday, December 22, 2012

What's to come...

So many interesting characters have been a part of my life.  So much crazy shit has happened, good and bad, that make me who I am. I am going to share all the stories, probably changing names to protect the guilty, and I expect on occasion I will embellish.  I have always embellished in my head and many times out loud in my youth.  People called it lying.  Especially my mom and I think I still have that damn two knuckle alligator ring imprint somewhere on my body to prove it (this is not embellishment. That ring would be a lethal weapon today).  I called it making lemonade out of lemons.  Not everything will be in order, some characters are too big and had too much impact on me to wait their turn.  I so look forward to getting this all out.  I am hoping it is the therapy many have thought I have needed for years.  As you read these stories, I am sure you will agree...

Friday, December 21, 2012

And so it begins...

I am thinking that right before I was born some angel thought, "you know, I have been doing all these good things and it is getting on my nerves.  I am going to have some fun and be a little naughty."  Then she (because it was clearly a woman who started all this shit) touched me with the nasty wand and thus was born into the world a girl who would be fighting from the get-go.  Even my mother didn't want to have to deal with all that was coming and she didn't even know the half of it.  So up for adoption I went.  That's when it all started...Liquid soap and spiders.  Pay attention folks and soon you will understand what I mean as I lead you through what I have called "life."