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I’ve been thinking a bit lately about motivation.  In part, I suppose, because that is part of my job these days.  I should be keeping my techs motivated to do good, accurate work.  It’s tough, though.  I suppose I try to just be fair and lead by example, and maybe I haven’t gotten much further than that with it right now.  And that’s institutional motivation anyway.  Everything is different when working within an organizational framework.  One needs to consider corporate culture.  Ethics.  The law.  It’s complicated.

Shouldn’t personal motivation be simpler?  Sometimes it doesn’t seem so, but I’ve been keeping at it.

I really got my ass kicked in broomball Thursday.  It was a good night, let me be clear.  I got my first assist, and I had some shots on goal–even if they weren’t great ones.  But man did I push myself.  I was aggressive and kept pushing.  In the second half, I started to go too far and felt it immediately.  I was playing wing, and I could feel their defense getting tired.  I scrambled like mad on a few back to back plays, sprinting harder than I had since basketball in high school.  I rotated back to the bench a minute later, out of breath and panting like I’d just gotten run over.  My breaths came so deep and hard, for a second I thought I would hyperventilate.  Right there, mortified in front of these teammates who are still very new acquaintances to me.

Things cooled down. I caught my breath, and in the end we chalked it up as a somewhat successful loss, as for the first time this season we were playing with some real teamwork and putting pressure on goal.  I spent the next day completely laid up.  I’m getting old, man, I can’t keep doing this.

And yet I do.

I’ve been striving for discomfort lately, and from it I’ve been finding a new reserve of self motivation.  It’s tough when you’re in your thirties, and so many things in life seem to be on…. I want to use the phrase “cruise control” here, but instead I think I’ll say schedule.

You live by the schedule, you die by the schedule.  You have a career–an organization and a set of peers that have daily expectations and challenges for you.  You have a home–a never ending set of responsibilities and projects.  You have a family–where do I even begin with that one?

You live by the schedule, you die by the schedule.

It’s easy to lose your motivation when locked into a circle. A routine that can seem as meaningless as it can directionless.  I’ve taken to the inconveniences to break it up and keep me moving.  The problems, the challenges.  Too many people let go and let the schedule make all the decisions for them.  I mean, it’s easy.  I can’t even call someone lazy for simply checking in every day and meeting those tasks of career, home, family.  After all, there are many who fail to even do that.  Those destined to wipe the schedule clean and start over.  Once, twice, maybe again and again. We all know a few of those folks.

It’s tough, but I’ve been at it in little ways.  Playing in a more competitive broomball league is just an example.  It’s hard, it’s kicking my ass, I have no idea how successful I’ll be, and yet I’m keeping at it.

I woke up today sore as fuck and yet as refreshed as ever.  Decided to hell with stopping by the office on a weekend (I had planned to go in).  Today I’ll set my own schedule.

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The older I get the more I seem to fall back on simple truths. The kinds of truths that we choose to believe and hold close. And for me one of the most important is this: be a lover, not a hater. In fact, let those damn haters hate.

It’s lovey dovey Valentine’s Day, and the world–especially the internet–is showering us (itself?) with a hearty salt and pepper mix of affection and cynicism. The lovers gushing, the cynics growling. Me? I’ve got a hot date with an ice rink tonight, so you won’t catch me doing much of either. While at this time last year I was getting smashed on Leviathan with my then girlfriend, the lack of either this year has not dampened my spirits in the slightest. In fact, I may have actually been asked out once or twice this week and politely ignored or misinterpreted such invitations. There hasn’t been anyone on the radar lately who has caught my attention. Well, not who’s single anyway.

But enough of that.

I’m pumped for tonight. This winter my love affair has definitely been with winter sports. I’m playing in a full ice broomball league this year, and the competition level is higher by a manifold set of notches. You might not think there’d be much difference between half ice and full ice, but it almost feels like a different game. Like the difference between put put and real golf. It’s a long, fast horizontal game. Lots of sprinting. A lot more contact. And real, actual strategy.

Fear not, I’m accustomed to dating the cold ones.

The first couple games I wasn’t sure what to make of the competitiveness. At first of course I liked it. No dumbed down casual league rules. Folks on the ice are actually trying to pass and make real plays. But as we lost two games, the flip side quickly began to show. My teammates freaking out over missed plays, goals, and losses. A mad, wide-eyed, “C’mon guys! We gotta get back in this!” I play sports in my free time to have fun first and win second, so we seem to have different ways of looking at it.

But I think they’re starting to get through to me. In a good way. And fuckin A good, this is what I wanted. All week, I’ve been obsessing over my Thursday night game. Thinking about how much sleep I get. How many minutes of practice I can sneak in before the game. What my sticking is going to be like. Hell, even what I’m going to eat today so that I don’t cramp up. I want that win.

The drive feels good. Something that I’ve been missing lately for sure. Feels like once I got my promotion last year, I settled in and started to get comfortable. Once I get comfortable, I get lazy. This seems to be a theme for me. But self improvement is also a theme, and I’ve got a very determined opinion about which of these I want to win out.

So let’s see a win tonight in broomball. And if not a win, then at least some good aggressive play and perhaps even a goal.

I was going to write about skiing here, but perhaps I’ll save that for another post. Here’s a picture from Seven Springs, where I just went this weekend with a bunch of folks. Loads of fun, and I’m definitely getting better. Can’t wait to hit the slopes again this week.

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I spent the weekend deep in the wilds of Massachusetts. Did you know that there are Republicans in Massachusetts? It’s true. They all live up in the boonies, next door to some friends of mine.

So anyway, I was going to write a deep soulful post about long distance friendships, but instead I find myself watching the Steelers v Patriots game. I really want the Steelers–in their but ugly peanut M&M uniforms–to lose. Every team in our division lost this weekend… we need the Steelers to lose too. Baltimore wants to maintain the status quo.

Ok, so wait a minute. Like go read what I just wrote there. I want this to be documented for all the world to see: me talking about football.

I’m not particularly into football, and I’ll never be particularly into football. But I’ve come into this funny relationship with it.

It started with work. I have certain coworkers who literally talk about nothing but football. It used to be that these people annoyed the living shit out of me. But at some point in the coming of age process, I recognized that I needed to connect with some of my coworkers if I wanted to take my job and career seriously. Especially with the people I don’t really know. The bottom line at some point became clear to me: it beats talking about the weather. In fact it’s an adequate substitution for a real conversation between people that you basically have to talk to.

So that’s where it started.  I mean this weekend I found myself hanging out with long distance friends and at times football came up.  Jesus on that ride back home we were all bored as shit, tired, and sick of the satellite radio.  I was chiming in with updates about the games.  I really was that bored.  But it was something to joke around about with folks who are more than just acquaintances to me.

I’ve found kind of a happy medium:  pay attention to our division and the other division leaders.  If you know that information, all you need to get through a conversation is questions.  For example:  So how is Kansas City doing this season anyway?  Weren’t they having some problems.  (KC got whomped today, so it was a conversation point.)

And what happens is a funny thing:  as long as you’re not stuffing stats down their throat, the football folks are happy to carry the conversation.  And oftentimes in life, this is a good thing.  You need to socialize with a coworker that you don’t have jack shit in common with:  bam football.  Even with friends:  football.

Let me be clear–those of you friends who know me–this is no titanic shift.  Like when I was hanging out with my friends this weekend, I had already approached them about music.  A stack of CDs.  Good stuff too.  They hadn’t heard of most of it, liked what I played, but didn’t really care a whole lot.  That’s okay.  Not all my friends need to be music snobs.  Also, I was reading a Jonathan Letham novel in the car.  I didn’t bother trying to talk about that.  I just defaulted to something we could josh about.

And one other thing that’s important:  limits.  I’ll watch the home team game, but after that I am done.  Turn Sportscenter off.  Because I don’t want to hear it.  And I’ll never care for college ball.  I’ll never care for any college sport.  It’s just not me.

One of the things that I like about life is that the older I’ve gotten, the less and less of a hater I’ve become.  At some point I won’t be allowed to wear that Maryland is for Haters t-shirt if I get one.  I used to run my mouth endlessly about how much I hated football and how I felt forced to care about it.  Like here is what football was to me as a kid:  being ignored.  Even before the rise of ESPN, my parents would be locked out to me for whole days.  The football game was on.  The football game was on.  It was like a favored sibling that was smarter, better looking, and infinitely more charming than me.

But you know what: I endured.  I got to that point in life where I’ve gotten over my parents’ crazy shit and hangups.  So why worry about it?  It’s a decent sport.  Keep up with the home team and set your boundaries.  It’s been working out pretty well so far.

However for right now, I must turn the game off.  This is not my home team.  And Boardwalk Empire and The Walking Dead are about to come on.  Time to veg out to my shows before heading to bed.

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So, apparently there’s some basketball game going on today or something?  I keep hearing people chattering about it, and it was even on NPR in the morning.  So I guess it must be significant.  All I can say is thank god we only hear about basketball a few days out of the year.  I’d much rather hear about the World Cup.

Both sports, basketball and soccer/football, have negative associations with me, actually.  My parents forced me to play soccer for years, and it was aweful.  I was never athletic.  Looking back, it still frustrates me that my parents made me play, although the dynamic of the frustration has evolved a little.  When I was younger, I just hated that they made me do something I sucked at.  They thought that, in order to be normal, I needed to be good at math and play sports.  Many years, lots of therapy, and tons of drinking later, it still bugs me a bit.  I just don’t understand how they didn’t understand their son.  But this is something I don’t understand about parents in general.  I guess I’m open minded, but if I have kids I look forward to encouraging them in whatever direction they go, rather than making them miserable to fit some preconceived notion of normal.  I think what gets me about it now, is that they kept pushing and pushing, and clearly I was not a normal child, and yet they just kept pushing.  Couldn’t they see it wasn’t working?  I digress.

Basketball.  I actually tried at basketball, briefly.  It didn’t go well, and anyway it was right before I got into music, so I don’t think of it much.  Except to say, fuck basketball.

Anyway.  I’m actually excited that Americans are paying the World Cup some mind, and I’m pretty annoyed at the xenophioc (mostly) conservative assholes who are trying to make a stink about it.  Guess what, America:  you could stand to be a little more worldly.  We don’t get all snotty about the olympics.  Why do we get snotty about the World Cup? 

I loaded up the FIFA site and tried to understand the brackets, but couldn’t make much sense of it, except to see that apparently Argentina is whooping some ass.  And the U.S. might be about to get our asses whooped in our next match.

Anyway, people, stop being so uptight and love the World Cup a little.  Soon enough we’ll be back to watching the Orioles suck, and in the fall, well the Ravens might have an amazing season this year if all goes well.

Don’t be like our friend Sad Keanu here.  Cheer up a bit.

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