Dog pile of despair

When I started this blog, I was sitting in Meg’s Daily Grind, my favorite coffee shop in Rockford, Illinois, waiting for my daughter to finish her ACT. Why I have a favorite coffee shop in a town 75 miles from my home is a bit of a puzzle. There is nothing glamorous about Rockford. It is a working class town in the midst of farmland, home to industry, hit hard by our recent economic woes.

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Dependable Meg’s

But Rockford is also home to Sports Core 2, the massive soccer complex in which the NISL seeding takes place late summer, and where the girls’ state soccer tournament was held one year when my daughter’s team tried to make a go of it. It is home to the BMO Harris Bank Center, where the IKWF state wrestling tournament is held.

In short, it has been where of some of our family member’s happy moments have played out, but mostly where we have experienced heartbreak. It is also home to Meg’s Daily Grind.

Meg’s, ah Meg’s! It has the broad shoulders to support our very few trophies. It has the broad shoulders on which we have shed many a tear in defeat, losses and injuries. It has enough caffeine and carbs to enable us to drive our weary bodies back to the Chicago suburbs while the defeated one(s) sleep it off.

On the day I started this blog at Meg’s, there was no winning or losing in the air. I was only biding my time, having just recently made a decision to partake in the available share of Arsenal season’s tickets that plunked into my lap and refused to be pushed aside. I started researching blogging, ended up on the WordPress wbsite, and started a free trial.

As a part of setting up the trial, I had to name my blog. I put less than 60 seconds into the decision to call it WholeArsed, and substantially more time (5 minutes, at least) deciding whether it had a suffix of. com, .net. or .me. The “Arse” part was easy because that’s a phrase that gets attached to so many Arsenal things. I thought of half-arsed, and then said to myself, “no, this year in which I travel many times to England to see Arsenal play; this is a year of being far more than half-assed.” So WholeArsed it was.

What has struck me on so many occasions is how divided my devotion to Arsenal must remain to be a halfway decent mother, wife, daughter, sister, employee, supervisor, colleague, parishioner, member of society. I have found it impossible to be absolutely WholeArsed. As devoted as I am to Arsenal, I probably achieve only 3/4 Arsed at best.

Sunday produced a great example. The match was at 10:00 a.m., the same time as church. On other occasions, I have attended a different service to be home to watch a match, but my daughter was a part of leading the worship service this week, along with other youth. The involvement of youth is intended to appeal to multiple generations but they also literally keep us young, pushing the envelope of the worship experience. I always find the services in which the youth participate to bring something new and fresh to a table that, honestly could use a little refreshing. To see things in a new light, you have to let a different light shine. And we are in the final few months of my daughter being an official “youth.”  It’s important to me to enjoy these last moments.

So I had a plan to divide my time. If the service ended when it was supposed to, I’d miss the whole first half of the Arsenal v. Crystal Palace match and a few minutes of the second half.

My daughter and her cohorts were doing a fine job and had produced many a magical moment. But the service went long and so I hatched a plan to complete a maneuver I’ve pulled on several previous occasions. Depart after Communion. The Communion for the Balcony People, as we call ourselves, usually takes place at the back of the church. I would put my purse on my shoulder and take Communion, then walk out.

But this time, I was stymied by a different plan for Communion. It was to take place at the front of the church, something I didn’t realize until I was downstairs. I tossed my purse behind the last pew and went down the aisle for Communion and then returned to pick it up.

As I walked out the back door, my  daughter and her friend were literally singing, in perfect harmony,

Your love never fails

Never gives up

Never runs out on me

The irony was not lost on me as I ran out. I could hear them far down the street.

So I got 1/2 of all available Mother points and 1/4 Christian points and 1/4 WholeArsed Arsenal fan points. In short, I failed from every angle. There were only 30 minutes left in the match by the time I got home.

I try to excuse myself by noting that it’s getting so awfully hard to be WholeArsed, because even the team can’t be arsed for a full match. From what I heard, we put in tremendous effort in the first half but couldn’t score more than the first goal. Crystal Palace was looking modestly more dangerous by the time I got home and at some point it was seeming completely inevitable that they would score in some ridiculous way. Sure enough they did. Petr Cech has probably stopped thousands of shots of the quality of that one, but he didn’t this time.

And then Arsene turned to Theo Walcott who did what Theo Walcott has been doing lately; i.e., not much of anything at all. It ended with a 1-1 tie. Believe me, it felt like a loss.

Leicester City did my bidding on Saturday  by going down to 10 men after a Jamie Vardy red card for diving in the box. At long last his theatrics were rewarded in the right way. But it wasn’t exactly what the doctor ordered because West Ham (well really, last week’s West Ham hero, Andy Carroll) managed to give away a penalty at the end. They tied, which wouldn’t have been a terrible result if we had won. Jamie Vardy will also sit the next one out, and maybe more because, in addition to the dive, he apparently called the referee something quite rude.

Tottenham played yesterday, winning handily.

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A much happier dog pile than the one we made Sunday

After the final whistle of the Arsenal match Sunday, my son and I made a dog pile of despair, both of us in the fetal position. My daughter, by then home from church, joined us in solidarity. My husband stared at the TV.

At this point, it seems Arsenal will be lucky to compete for the famous “fourth place trophy.” First place isn’t mathematically out of the question, but it is realistically out of the question. There are now too many people who have to fail and fail big, and one of them can’t be us. Right now, it seems only we are willing to produce the requisite level of failure.

After the Dog Pile of Despair dispersed, I tried to make it up to my daughter by taking her shopping for prom dresses. That was such a deadening experience for both of us that the pain of the Arsenal tie was somewhat lessened. I worked in the garden in my “new” gardening sneakers; it was a beautiful day. I had a cup of tea on the back patio. My daughter and I combined efforts to make beans and rice for dinner, something she came to love while traveling on Costa Rica over Spring Break. I took a walk. I got caught up on some work, or tried to.

Some days, it’s best to be less than WholeArsed.

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