A message from my mechanical pencil

Over the weekend, I was missing something that’s loomed very large in my life for the past 8 months.

I had virtually no travel to plan.

mechanical pencil
The eraser in this photo doesn’t extend beyond the plastic sleeve that holds it.  What does it mean?

My husband and I have one more match to attend live in London. Unlike all of the other matches, which are apparently subject to change even days before we might leave, the last match we will attend will take place at only one time, completely predictable. That’s because it’s the very last match of the season.

For the last match of the season, every team plays at exactly the same time to encourage teams to take the match seriously. The league doesn’t want every team to know what it will take to achieve their goal. (“Oh, a tie is good enough” or “Who cares if we lose? We’re definitely in fourth place because the 5th place team lost yesterday.”)

What gets settled on the last day can be quite interesting. We might only know the winner of the league on the last day, like the year Manchester City won for the first time in 2012. We might not know all of the top four teams that will have the opportunity to play in the Champions League in the following season. And we might not know all three teams to be relegated.

Last week, my husband had sorted out our air situation for the last match in May. And on Friday evening, I booked hotel. Done and dusted.

Alex Iwobi, looking like he did some work (because he did). Source: Guardian

I awoke Saturday to some excitement: Arsenal were playing the early match against Everton. We had a decent match, scoring 2 goals in the first half. The first was a quintessential Arsenal goal marked by collaboration and trickery and a nice finish by Danny Welbeck. The second was a rare Arsenal breakaway, with a finish through the keeper’s legs by 19-year old Alex Iwobi. Iwobi, who had a great match against Barcelona, had a very good day against Everton, too. He was universally declared man of the match.

We did not score again in the second half, and I have to admit to being less than confident that we’d hold onto the lead. Not that Everton looked particularly dangerous, but my confidence is somewhat shot. I stood for the last 10 minutes to relieve my nervousness.

But as soon as the match was finished, I felt a large void. As stated, I had no need to plan a trip to London; the part that could be planned had been planned. I had no need to immediately plan the Gooner Triumphal Feast because we were going to a church event including dinner that night. The other thing that consumes much of our family time, activities around my daughter’s college acceptance and decision-making, was settled earlier in the week. My daughter had been accepted into the music program at her favored school. Game over, and with positive results.

I evaluated the list of things to be done that could occupy my time, if not my brain. This evaluation produced an hour in the yard of bagging sticks and leaves. I came back inside to eat lunch and review the status of the later football matches. Chelsea managed to hold West Ham to a draw. We care about this match because now Arsenal has to be concerned about the teams behind us who might pass us by. West Ham is only a few points behind. That tie kept the wolf on the sidewalk rather than at our front door. Leicester City won its match. Their commanding lead was untouched again this week.

I allowed myself time to watch a few minutes of Swansea v. Aston Villa. This seemed desperation to watch two basically crap teams (albeit one that managed to beat Arsenal at home). I actually found myself berating the referee over this crap game.

It seemed sad, even to me.

I took a short walk. Then I went to the grocery store. We were down to just about nothing, no milk, no bread, no orange juice. No salt, but of course I didn’t notice that before I went to the grocery. In addition to all the usual stuff, I bought a bouquet of flowers at Trader Joes to cheer me up.

three trees
Three Trees. Source gabrielsreport.com

We went to the church event, a production of The Tale of Three Trees for which my daughter played violin in the orchestra. The Tale of Three Trees tells the story of three trees, each that had a dream of what he(?) would be in life. During the play, achievement of the dream came to look bleak. Finally, the dream for each tree was realized in a way the trees never never expected though God’s plan.

It was a lovely production, but I was in no mood to think about it too closely. Sometimes I just don’t feel like waiting and praying to see what God has planned. How about you show it to me now, God? 🙂

(What does God think of smiley faces? I would guess he says “I know you are not kidding, Amy O, so just cut the crap, here.” Naturally, he says it in the voice of Charlton Heston, and pronounces “crap” so that it sounds godly and not gauche.)

Sunday: More of the same. I was busy, but not occupied. Went to church, where my daughter was participating in leading the service, took a long walk, organized dinner, went to my daughter’s piano recital. Had a nice day, really nice, but just felt all day the same thing: something is missing. Meanwhile, Tottenham won its match, so Arsenal made up no forward ground on the points gap there either. We stay in third.

Monday came. Everybody understands Monday, so no need to elaborate. My Work BFF is on vacation, so no hilarity break was possible. The big excitement of my day was getting a new stash of pens and mechanical pencils from the supply cabinet. Before getting the new supply, I had noticed a weird thing about my last remaining mechanical pencil. The eraser was worn out before I ran out of lead, something that never happens. It was so short it could be seen but not used.

I established the following possible interpretations of this situation:

  • The pencil manufacturer is no longer supplying the same length or quality of eraser.
  • The pencil manufacturer supplied more lead in this pencil than usual.
  • I am making more mistakes than usual.
  • I am more indecisive than usual.
  • I am forcing one poor eraser to handle the mistakes of many pencils.
  • Why are you even thinking about this, Amy O? Who cares? Least of all, you. Find something worthwhile to worry about.

Ok.  It is clear to me. I need to work on what my life will be like with a grown-up daughter who is going to college next year and a football season in which I can’t flit off to Europe seven times in nine months. Yes, my son will still be in the nest, and I could focus on him and coddle him as never before possible. We all know that is not what should be done.

Ergo, during the international break (yes, it is again the international break when no league football will occur), it is time for some experimentation, some mental time away from football, some time to figure out Life 3.0 (or whatever version we’re up to by now; who can keep track?). I will keep you updated on my progress.

If a tree–let alone three trees–can have a life goal, I can certainly come up with a plan for thrills and chills to replace those I will lose next year.

Iwobi trots above the peanut soup.

But first, a picture from our very delayed Gooner Triumphal Feast which didn’t take place until yesterday. Alex Iwobi has been with Arsenal since he was 8 years old (more than half his life), but he is a native of Nigeria. We made this Nigerian peanut soup. It’s reminiscent of something Thai and far more complex in flavor than its five ingredients would suggest. Funny to me that a dish from Nigeria would remind me of Thai. I just don’t mentally put those two cultures together.

The human condition is just not as varied as we might imagine.


3 thoughts on “A message from my mechanical pencil

  1. Ah Amy, I could feel the void reading this. What an amazing thing to have traveled there for those matches and had the opportunity to love and support a passion of yours. You set the bar high in terms of experience. But they’ll be another. Go write your Gunner novel!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I would miss making travel plans too, mind you I change mine at the first drop of rain as you may have noticed. You could always buy an RV for weekend travel – probably cheaper than all those flights!! Always something to blog about too.
    And don’t think of it as an empty nest – she’s a fledgeling spreading her wings and will always return.


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