Long break, there.
In the end, I did not visit Molly Malone’s Irish Pub in Louisville to watch the Norwich match. I didn’t sleep well while I was in Kentucky so when I woke up early on Sunday morning, I knew I had to get further down the road before game time or I would be too tired to drive the rest of the way to Illinois safely. My daughter was with me (my son and husband stayed back in Illinois because my son had wrestling matches and practices), but my daughter isn’t confident to do much highway driving. And to be honest, it’s not all that restful for me to have her drive.
The Sunday games are almost always televised, so we were surprised to learn while on the road that the game was only on NBC Live Extra. I have the app on my phone and iPad, so could stop anywhere with Wi-Fi to watch. Unfortunately, free Wi-Fi is often not sufficient to stream a game. We found that to be the case when we stopped for coffee and a match break. The Wi-Fi was so bad, I missed both Arsenal’s goal and the bad one a few minutes later, Norwich’s goal. We loaded up on coffee and listened to the match on arsenal.com on the road. A frustrating 1-1 draw.
The reason for my inability to sleep was typical: rumination. The rumination that kept me awake originally was the usual thing, Big Problem A, which I won’t talk about much here, except to say it’s a situation that I am not equipped to solve at this moment. There is an easy solution that will cause its own problems, most of them substantial. And there are solutions that require some element of luck. This makes it a problem not worthy of rumination. Unfortunately, that does not occur to me in the night. In my mind, I examine that situation and turn it over and examine it further, and turn it over and examine it still further. I go through all the ways that Big Problem A might be reduced, or be dismissed. Then I tell myself to think about something else so I can get back to sleep. In KY, the something else that kept coming to mind was my Dad. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that he passed away earlier this year. Although we did not dwell on him over Thanksgiving because my mother was determined for it to not be a sad occasion, his absence certainly hung over the proceedings.
His absence was present. That is somewhat ludicrous, is it not?
But I’m still not ready to think about Dad, and especially not ready to think about his death. So I would only let my mind go two inches into that topic before returning to Big Problem A.
I mentioned in my post, Voids, large and small, a card game that has always been played at family gatherings, Escalator. That was the game that we could use to rouse my Dad from any fatigue or illness, just by sitting down at the table and shuffling cards. He loved to play cards of any kind, but Escalator was his specialty. We broke it out for the first time since my Dad’s death at Thanksgiving. Maybe we just needed a push from extended family to get it going again. It was fun, as always. Interesting to play and have a shot at winning, for once.
I have searched the internet to find the rules of the game to share here, but they can’t be found. I have written them up here, my sole contribution to the worldwide web.
After Dad passed away, one thing that was guaranteed to bring tears was coming upon something he’d left that looked as though he’d be coming back in a second. You’d get into his car and there would be his stuff. His cane, his boxes, his umbrella, as if he’d just stepped out of the car to go into a store. His closet full of clothes, smelling of soap, fresh, the way he always smelled. But on Thanksgiving day, I made a crazy discovery of something Dad left in the pantry that brought a smile. While looking for a cookie tin to store cookies that a relative brought to Thanksgiving, I found a full tin of cookies Dad made last year for Christmas.
My parents had a lovely tradition of baking cookies to give to friends and family as gifts for Christmas. My mom did almost all the baking when we were little, and we would help as well. I remember cracking and grinding nuts, thousands of them, to make Mexican wedding cakes, and Crescents, and hazelnut cookies, and Rocks. We formed, cut, and frosted. Then we’d assemble plate after plate of a variety of cookies and go out delivering them with my dad.
After we’d grown, my father completely took on the tradition, baking many, many cookies to package and deliver. I would look forward to getting mine in the mail. Over time, he seemed to gravitate to traditional German cookies, lots of nuts, spice, candied fruit. Those were not my favorites, but I think he was recreating something important from his own childhood, where his mother would bake the traditional German sweets. I recall hearing that when she died, the belonging that each of her kids wanted to have to remember her by was her giant mixing bowl.
Anyway, these cookies I found in the pantry were one of these traditional kinds, heavy, spicy, topped with a quartered, green, candied cherry. They did not look delicious to me, but they looked perfectly fine. No sign of mold whatsoever. I put them back in the pantry, but a few days later after the guests had gone home, I showed them to my immediate family. My sister even sampled one, inspired by the memory of my father, who was famous for eating expired food. (“It’s perfectly good!”)
Because I helped organize his affairs afterward, I am quite familiar with what my father did in the last few weeks of his life before checking in to the hospital.
What did he do? He made some charitable contributions. He paid bills. He was writing a letter to the editor for the local newspaper, as he so often did, a letter that would have given the Danville City Council fits, as it so often did.
What did he not do? He did not eat those cookies.
I dumped the rest out, washed the tin, and we took it back in the car with us, filled with fresh cookies my daughter made while we were in Kentucky. The cookie baking tradition has skipped a generation, but it has continued. The cookie eating tradition has skipped no generation.
When we got home, I watched the Norwich/Arsenal match on Live Extra. I do that sometimes even when I know the outcome. It’s an interesting exercise because with the result and drama out of the way, you can evaluate what actually transpired. We didn’t look that bad. Just didn’t get the job done.
But we are further handicapped going into the festive season, because we lost three more players to injury during the match. Three important players: Laurent Koscielny, Santa Cazorla, Alexis Sanchez. Two will be out for at least three weeks. We don’t know about Koscielny yet, he of the sensitive back. We are a team bandaged together, limping into December. When you list off all the first team members and subs who are injured, it reads like Santa’s reindeer.
On Wishere, on Walcott, on Welbeck, Cazorla
On Sanchez, Coquelin, Arteta, Ospina
Near the top of the league
From there now we crawl
Dash away to PT
Dash away, all!
I watched the first half of the match with the sound off because my daughter was practicing piano. While she was playing a majestic piece, there was Hector Bellerin striding majestically down the field, gazelle-like, in time. When she was playing a dark and dramatic piece, there was Koscielny writhing on the ground in agony. When she was playing a jaunty piece, heavy-set referee Jon Moss was skipping nimbly down the field on too-tiny-for-his-body legs. Quite surreal. I may try that again one day.
We’ve gotten through November without a single Gooner Triumphal Feast. That’s not because we didn’t win–we won two important Champions League matches—but we didn’t win a Premier League match that occurs on a weekend during the entire month.
With some new blood having to come into matches in the next few weeks, maybe we’ll have cause to celebrate with something other than German or Chilean food.
Or maybe not.