na foine ting

Saturday, May 29, 2004
Kannon, baby, this one goes out to you...

I was just seventeen, when I made the AHL
I couldn't skate in junior, but my fists rang like a bell.
I'll never win a title, and I'll never win the cup,
But when it comes to ladies, I've had the best of luck.

My first one was a sly one, hanging round the rink,
But they sent me off to Cornwall, as fast as you could blink,
In Moose Jaw I was right in love, the daughter of the coach -
He traded me for nothing, didn't take to my approach.

So good-bye, fare thee well,
There's no time for delay,
You'll see me at the face-off, or catch the play-by-play
So good-bye, fare thee well,
I'm glad you shared my bed,
But never trust a fellow with a helmet on his head.

Chantal was from Moncton, elle a jouer avec moi.
A tongue as sharp as razors, but she had a fancy car.
Her husband was a bruiser, played senior in Quebec,
If he'd had the rights of it, it would have been my neck.

Nancy couldn't watch me fight, she'd always be in tears,
Waving from the bleachers, and screaming in my ears,
Dee I should have married, and we had a dandy fling,
But I had a one way contract, blew the money for the ring.

I should have sent a letter, and it would have been polite,
But I'm cleaning out my locker, and time is getting tight.
I'm calling from the station, perhaps another day,
Cause they're calling up a rookie, and they're trading me away.

Great Big Sea, 2004
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
OK, I'm feeling better, thanks.

Had some fabulous email, caught "Shrek" with G and Bec last night, which was the first time G's ever seen a movie in a theater, and after hiding his head in my lap for the first 10 minutes (which was the previews up until the moment the knight in armor came galloping onscreen and he sat bolt upright), G thoroughly enjoyed it. Shrek was great, but G's reaction was even better.

Then I caught Lynx' 11:15pm game, which late hour they more than made up for by being, well, Lynx. Noble in the face of adversity, but not too noble, because Kevin got sent off the ice and even other than that there were a fair number of black jersey minutes spent in the penalty box. Some absolutely fantastic goals, great plays, and general offensive domination.

Coming back from two points behind must have been primarily for dramatic effect, although it's possible Joey really wasn't on the planet for that one goal. Or maybe he felt bad about the temper tantrums and crying on the other team's part and thought he'd just give them one or two. He seems kindhearted that way...

And yeah, good hockey makes me happy. Tripp (who was on the opposing team and seemed quietly if diplomatically unhappy about some of the BS that went down) said something about 11:15 amateur games being not worth the effort, but it's not at all true.

This is the best hockey. Where you know everyone involved, where you know who they are and a bit about their hearts and a lot about their play and when once and a while there's a turn up to the stands and a grin, or a wink, or you know they feel your gaze and it matters.

Where there's no salary or fame or any other reason to go all out except it matters absolutely in that span of three twenty minute periods. For you, for the team.

I see it in Lynx in particular, maybe. That huge heart, that generosity of spirit and total willingness to take it however far it has to go.

I've paid a lot for tickets and gotten far less. And that's never mind the additonal perk of being able to drink beer with this team now and then.


Yesterday was also a Fed Ex day for Gavin and I, a complicated ritual involving picking him up, going to the Fed Ex near my work, dropping off packages and securing a styrofoam pop-out airplane, which we take to the little indie coffee shop next door. Gavin rapidly and competently assembles the airplane toy (complete with little shims to hold the wings in) while I get us our drinks.

Then he holds court with the host of by then gathered onlookers, telling them all about the various parts of the Fed Ex plane (which apparently includes guided missles--who knew?) and how to count to ten in Chinese.

Sometimes he has a cookie.

As we were leaving yesterday, we were discussing hockey and his jersey number, which has been 4 since he was old enough to know what a jersey number was and how important it is. Yesterday he admitted the possibility of other numbers, specifically 5, 6, and 7. Apparently now these would be OK also.

I said, "what about my number?"

He gave me a blank look.

"You know. My number. 12. Who else has that number?"

He knew it was an important question. He thought carefully, taking a sip of hot chocolate to give him some time. "Um, Thornton?" he ventured, and winced, seeing my expression. "No, no, Marleau!!!" he remembered. "Marleau!"

"And who else? Who's my favorite player in the NHL?"

"Frieeeeeessssseeennnnnnn!!!" he hollered, before I'd gotten the whole sentence out. Then he looked at me gravely. "Why'd they trade Friesen?" he wanted to know.

He knows the answer. This is a ritual conversation.

"I don't know, baby. That's a good question. I don't know why anyone would have traded him. I just don't know."

We shook our heads sadly.

"I'm gonna find whoever traded Friesen," Gavin said, still shaking his head. "I'm gonna find whoever traded Friesen, and I'm gonna... I'm gonna mess up his shirt."

Yeah. That's it. You know who you are, pal. You think they all forgot about you. But you've been marked by a four year old for some serious shirt messing.

We still miss Freeze. We still remember.

Watch out.


So after the coffee shop I took him by my work, which he's visiting before. After giving our leasing manager an enthusiastic high-five, G marched over to the cubicle where I've put him to play his video games on other times he's visited.

"Mom," he called over while I got the stuff I'd forgotten from my desk, "why is there all this stuff on my desk?" He pointed to the three hole punch. "This doesn't go here."

"Uh," I said, because really I couldn't think of anything else to say.

"And who put these papers here?" he wanted to know. "Great," he said with heavy sarcasm. "Now I have to clean all this up!"

I watched in amazement as he carefully transferred the three hole punch, the big stapler and a stack of brochures to another cube.

"This can stay here," he said about a ream of color copy paper. "In case I need it next time I'm here."

"OK," I said, still not quite sure how to respond to all this.

"Mom," he said, looking up at me seriously. "Tell people not to put things on my desk, OK?"

There wasn't much else to say. "OK, Gavin, I'll send out an email," I said.

Monday, May 24, 2004
Just finished a story which was big and difficult and is good. The story, and also finishing.

Feeling peevish and like where the story was now there's a sort of sucking wound, and feeling irritated with myself that it's that way.

Two hockey games back to back yesterday. Played all out in both of them, which was exhausting but good. More shots on goal, building up that sense of being a real forward, not just adjunct. But still not quite wholly there.
Friday, May 21, 2004
little feet

imagine the bare toes of

nightgown flapping and


We had pancakes this morning and
we're waiting for you

another fork and
more maple syrup at the table and

the press of your little bare feet
into my palms.


I'm pleased to announce that Becca is pregnant, and we're expecting the arrival of our second child sometime around Thanksgiving this year.

Thanks to everyone who, one way or another, helped to raise the first one. So far, so good. We hope you'll all be part of this second fabulous adventure.

Thursday, May 20, 2004
Priestess, whore, little girl, bag lady, mother, village idiot, knight.

You'll find what you dig for. Or content yourself with the surface, if you like.
Monday, May 17, 2004
I could see it happening.

I could see getting to a place in this game where your whole experience of it revolves not around the ice, the play, the puck, but around pain. What you feel. Getting past it.

And worst of all, trying to avoid it.

I can't imagine playing at the pro level, where I could take this hurt and mutiply it by a hundred times and still not approach what these guys feel at the end of a day.

I'm wrecked. Bec suggests that maybe somehow recently I opened up in a way I didn't mean to, allowed myself a vulnerability I haven't had before, and am suddenly more fragile.

After two games yesterday--no more rough or intense than any other--I'm covered in bruises. Even on my tan, freckled skin, they're coming up now. Forearms, between my glove and elbow pad. The back of my triceps, where my shoulderpads and elbowpads don't quite connect.

The huge livid circle where I caught R's wrister almost point blank on the inside of my thigh.

He skated by. Wicked grin. "Did I fuck you up, K?" he murmured, unrepentant.

Until now, these bruises and marks have faded quickly. Injuries have come and gone before that week's practice, or the next game. As though even the spill of blood into tissue, even the impact of bone and skin on ice could be easily shaken off, registered and then discarded as unwanted and unnecessary.

This week, my resilence has diminished somehow. I rest and am still tired, and welts and marks hit, deepen, linger. I am slow to get to my feet, and after two games yesterday, find I'm walking with a new, unexpected limp.

I take painkillers. Fight an unreasonable superstitious panic that maybe I have lost some invisible magic charm I had, failed to say some particular unknown but essential phrase.

I played through hurt last night for the first time. Usually even the worst usually disappears on the ice, where I am immortal and invincible and fearless of everything except my own fuckups.

To my horror, I felt myself register it while in motion, in fighting. I felt myself wince, guard, recoil.


I didn't see the hit N took, didn't see the stick come down on his wrist, but I didn't need to to know it was broken.

I skated off with him, got him to elevate and immobilize and ice it, told friends to have someone drive him to the doctor.

N is normally sunny to the point of obnoxious. Small but fierce and lightning on the ice, where a singleminded rush on the net leaves defenders literally spinning behind him, trying to figure out which way is up and what the hell just happened.

He's foulmouthed and contentious. In our earlier game that day, he'd pinned two guys twice his size against the boards, and when the whistle went, elbowed them both for good measure. "Well, you're a little bitch," one of them sneered as they all got escorted off the ice.

"Yeah, and you're a big bitch," N said.

Later, he held his arm to himself and I said it wasn't a diagnosis but I was pretty sure he'd broken it. He surfaced to look at me blearily and nodded. "I've done it enough times to know," he said.

Then he went back into himself, a coiled place of deep retreat I could never imagine N finding. Silent, withdrawn, diminished. Other than that, for all his youth and general big emotion, no other sign of how much pain he was in.


C knelt on all fours at the red line, helmet blown off and tears lingering on the black grill of her face mask before dropping to freeze on the surface of the ice. She's one of these women who is just as beautiful when she's crying, even with reddened eyes and hair a shambles and a huge lump rising on the back of her head, hunched in all that sour smelling hockey gear.

Later she'd be diagnosed with whiplash and a concussion. She sat on the bench with ice held to her head and neck, refusing to leave until the game was over.

E and N and I would come back after each shift, make sure she was still alert and oriented. "This is stupid," E said, shaking his head. "We probably should have got a C collar on her and stopped the fucking game."

He called us later from the hospital to give us an update. "And the only thing she can do is complain about having to stop playing hockey," he laughed.

Sounding tired, but also relieved.


I took the hardest hit I have to date last week. A stunning full on blow which could have been even worse if R had really thrown his weight into it.

I'd knocked the puck away from him on three perfectly good rushes, and the fourth time he came in hard and fast, pissed off and determined not to give it away.

Somehow I didn't read him right. Somehow he was focused ahead of himself, and didn't avoid me.

At the very last moment I felt him flinch away, curse, knowing what was about to happen.

You don't hit the ice just once, you hit it a few times. First your whole body. Then your head. Once. Twice, rebounding. Then you lie there and sort out what just happened. Eventually everyone comes into focus, and you struggle to get control of your limbs and shake it off.

I would have shaken it off. Hurt and fear that could make me cry hard, in another world and life, just swallowed. A wet-dog-shiver, grit of teeth, the "fine, just got my bells rung," smile, skate away.

Stay on the ice for the rest of the shift, to prove I'm not a pussy. Skate hard, to prove it didn't rattle me. That I can take all that and more.

Except R stopped me on the way up. Helped me to my feet and before I could say anything wrapped long arms around me. Laughing.

"Fuuuuuuck," he said.

Acknowledgement of many things I had been about to push past. That it was huge, and scary and painful, that my smaller mass had taken most of the force, and that it had fucking hurt, hurt a lot.

I let him be there. Let myself acknowledge it, and the unexpected safety and comfort, for a few brief seconds. Then grinned at him as we both pushed back and glided away.

Maybe it's a willigness to go there, now, that's brought this to me.

A willingness to actually look at the size and shape of my endurance, rather than act like it's limitless while I know better.

Maybe there's a place of reckoning here, of being willing to actually look at the size of the risk and really measure the consequences.

It doesn't matter, in the end.

As long as we still go out there.

As long as we step back out, and play the game.


Friday, May 14, 2004
If you hit me hard enough, I can almost be sure of being here.

Hit me harder still, and I'm almost sure you're here with me.

Located, in this moment on the ice, against the boards, or that moment against a wall. An impact so complete that the shock resonates through me utterly, and I still feel it days later. In my skin, my bones, deep in blood that rises to the surface, trying to trace the shape of where you have been.

Never apologize.

I came here looking for this.


Thursday, May 13, 2004
today I'm a bag lady I've

got all this old crap here
an old radio that barely works
a dirty coat you wouldn't be caught dead in
a strap and a buckle to hold down something I don't have anymore
a half bottle of water
a list of things I should have done a long time ago
an empty candy tin I'm keeping to keep something in

like the bag full of bags

two stamps with last year's postage
something I saved to eat but it's no good now

everything smells bad
looks terrible

I'm always saying things too loud that no one wanted to hear like


or "that's the stupidest thing I ever heard of"

and sometimes everything I own falls on the street and strangers
--far better dressed--
help me pick it up all up

except for the bag full of bags
which tumbles off down the street,

blown away.
Monday, May 10, 2004
H's leaving for Iraq.

I mean, he still has to pass his physical and he claims he's an old man and passing it isn't a sure thing, but that's bullshit. He's in better shape than I am, and he can kick anyone's ass with a rapier and main gauche in about ten seconds flat. He'll pass, and he's going.

I had comforted myself with the thought that he'd be flying helicopters--that's what he does for the DEA, or so I'd been told--but it turns out that that's not at all all he does, and he'll be an officer right away and will be commanding ground troops.

HG had a barbecue to see him off on Sunday. Turkey and beer and cake. I found a million reasons to put off going, until HG finally called me and said "enough stalling, get your ass over here," or the HG more motherly equivalent. So I went.

H volunteered. I know the reasons why; I know him well enough to get it, you know, despite all my ambivalence about the war I can respect H and admire him all the more for those reasons. I still skulked around and avoided talking to H, to anyone except HG. We sat in dour silence under a patio umbrella and finally I said "this sucks; I don't want him to go," and HG said emphatically, "yes it does; me neither."

That was it.

I watched H and Karl go after each other with the new sabres like it would be the last time for a while, and wondered why it is I'm usually so emotionally overbearing except in times like these. When I get silent and reticent and say nothing I mean to say about how important a person is to me, or how highly I think of them or how much they've taught me.

Instead I said "come back soon," except somehow the last word dropped off as I hugged H and I wound up saying only "come back."

H nodded seriously. "I will," he said.


We played the A Team last night, and it was a good game for us in terms of being a win and our strongest play to date.

A bad game in that Carrie got leveled in a collision and went to the hospital. Mild concussion and whiplash symptoms, but the most ironic part is that now we're being accused of playing rough.

I admit we played really rough against the Re-Habs. We had a score to settle, and they play rough. It's mostly guys on that team, the women they do have play hard and heavy and smart (remember the "wanna go?" incident?).

I consciously backed off this game, avoided heavy duty contact except to give Heather a bad time in front of their goalie. But we were both grinning, even as we pushed and shoved.

I backed off because I *knew* this would happen. If we didn't let them skate all over us, if we put up anything resembling a fight, if we did *anything* that could be construed as aggressive, we'd be accused of being assholes and bad players and told we didn't deserve the win.

So I backed off, tried to baby a team that shouldn't need the insult of being babied.

Because it is an insult. Hard play means real competition, it means both teams are fighting hard to win. It means, for the sixty minutes you're on the ice, that each team considers the other a real rival, a real threat. It means there's real fear of losing, real fear of being hit first.

It's about respect.

So next time, I'll tell the Hounds that they should back off, and pamper the other team. Don't push them, don't fight for the puck. Give them lots of space and room and don't hurt or scare them.

One of my teammates went to the hospital, but we're going to coddle the team that sent her there.

Because apparently, that's the way they want to play this game.


Thursday, May 06, 2004
Retreat: it does happen, and I'm there.

One too many hits with the snake, as they say, and unfortunately in this case it's neither as sexual or as fun as that sounds.

See you on the flip side.


Sorry, let me clarify: I have raging PMS and have gotten a lot of bad news in one day and am sucking my thumb. You are all to be deeply concerned and solicitous and bring me chocolate and offer me lots of free sex.

Will return to a more normal less petulant state in a few days, meanwhile, fucking humor me, OK?


Wednesday, May 05, 2004
Coffee has been a recurring theme in conversations recently.

I mean, coffee's always a recurring theme: I have to have it to function.

But the other day a coworker watched me put around a quarter of a cup of sugar and seventeen shakes of creamer in my coffee in sick fascination and finally asked me "OK, Kate, what's the point?" since obviously by the time I'm done with it it tastes nothing like coffee anyway.

I started drinking coffee at the age of four.

No, seriously, four.

In Burma, we'd sit on our neighbor's porch to wait out the power outage, and watch the rain come down like Armageddon, so loud you almost had to shout to be heard. There we'd drink a mixture of espresso-like coffee and sweetened condensed milk, the kind that comes from a can. This was less like coffee and more like dessert, and remains to me the ideal, virtually mythical "perfect coffee" to this day.

In Ghana, I drank coffee with my Norwegian best friend, Lise. Lise's father Kare was a highly successful commercial fisherman, who was about seven feet tall, had a huge personality and a booming voice to match, and made coffee of similar size and volume. Coffee was served with every meal--whether or not there was also beer available--and also drunk between meals from thermoses you could find in any room in the house.

My recollection of time spent over at the Wiedswangs is mostly of two serene adults reading the Oslo daily newspaper amid a sea of caffeine-crazed children, who careened around the house along with the Wiedswang's pet monkey, screaming and breaking things.

Between Ghana and Samoa there wasn't much coffee, except for special occasions. Sometimes I'd get a cup when we had company, part of staying up late and being allowed to share in all the fun, semi-illicit adult things.

Coffee in Samoa was had compliments of our German FAO neighbors, who shared the Wiedswang "all day long" philosophy of coffee, and brewed it to match. So that even by the end of the day, a cup still had flavor and authority, if you could only manage to bring your quaking mug to your stuttering lips.

For the Winklers, coffee was as integral to hospitality as the couch. Come in, have a seat, here's your mug. So how are you, anyway?

We'd look out on a Saturday morning to see Claus and Dorette seated in their folding chairs on the lawn, that tamed carpet of docile green beaten out of the jungle that surrounded our little 3-house compound in all directions.

They'd sit out there and drink their coffee and eat home made pastries off of good china. Crisp in their white linen and with the smoke from Claus' cigarettes wafting over it all.

Coffee's ritual now, and memory, and of all the disparate places I've lived and stayed, a familiar thread of continuity.

In one cup, home.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004
Ice Hounds grudge match against Re-Habs last night.

Now I understand why they say "schooled." I learned a lot.

I learned that when someone says "wanna go?" there's a strong chance they're hotting you up and have no intentions whatsoever of fighting you. This ends in your flinging your stick to the ice with every intention of gloves following and a good smash-up on the horizon and responding "yeah, yeah, wanna GO? Wanna GO??" only to have her (yes, her) say in the most derisive tone possible: "No. Stupid," and skate away.

And the "stupid" is deserved, because then you realize the rest of your line is over back at your net, several thousand miles away, and you're parked in front of the opposing goalie and are now very, very, very, very offsides.

I learned that I can put my entire and considerable mass into high gear, get momentum and fling myself bodily at someone and nothing happens. I mean, nothing. Like a mosquito hitting a brick wall at about 200 miles per hour. See also: ow.

I learned that on some teams ringers can, and will run up the score.

(Note to self: learn to hit harder.)

I learned that good goalies will not play down, and even a beginner can still score on a good goalie if he's got enough heart and dogged try in him (nice job, Erik).

I learned that I can be part of a 1-10 loss and still come out feeling like it was a good game.

And yeah, Brian, it's a very good hurt, to answer your question.


Monday, May 03, 2004
Chez Gaiman, someone wants to know how you finish a short story.

I spent too much time writing too little this weekend, including the following Things Done in Writing Time Which Were Not Writing:

  • Eating Safeway sushi and reading Kate Bush interviews only tangentially related to the story in question, certainly not related directly enough to qualify as research

  • Drinking BV cheapass chardonnay in sufficient quantities that all I could effectively do was attempt to flirt with Skillingstead by email and bear bait conservative old white men on the Asimov's board by insisting that at least 1/3 of males (including those self-identifying straight (ie., the conservative old white men on the board)) really actually do want to get fucked up the ass

  • Reading all the sections around the sections in the DICTIONARY OF SCIENTIFIC LITERACY that didn't have to do with the General Theory of Relativity, the Special Theory of Relativity or Singularities, which means that I now know much more about things like the Genome Project, Sonography and Sickle Cell Anemia, but not much more about relativity as it pertains to my story

  • Played Sims

  • Ate Ben and Jerry's frozen yogurt in the following flavors: Phish Food, Cherry Garcia and Half Baked

  • Stared at the Patrick Marleau picture on my bulletin board and tried to figure out what exactly happened to his game on Saturday and if it had to do with relativity or singularities or if he just needed more B&J's Cherry Garcia

  • Thought up how the other story in my head is actually going to be a bestselling smut novel and immediately got a hundred plus ideas for it

  • Played more Sims

  • Ate more frozen yogurt (you see why I had Bec stop buying the 55%-of-your-RDA-of-fat-in-2-ounces ice cream)

    ...and so on.

    I got to the *ping* moment, the "getting the theme and point of the story" point on Friday, and promptly bawled my eyes out and didn't want to write any more. Not just because I realized I really needed to know something about relativity, but because the story is sad, and sweet, and I'm scared--more so than usual, which is usually a lot--that I won't do the idea, the thing in my head, justice.

    Fortunately there was things like hockey and South Park and neighborhood kids and running around in the sprinklers to take the edge off. And I did get a little bit of writing done, around all that.


    Pokemon has landed.

    After all my invective and "mass media sludge" that and all the "plague on the face of the universe" and "whatever happened to comic books as brain rot," I was confronted with the real deal today, Flygon and Energy cards sticky from gumballs in my kid's little hands.

    The first thing I said, before I thought about it was "hey, these look a lot like Magic cards!"

    "Duh," Becca said.


    So after almost two years of playing ice hockey I realized not only have I had no recurring injuries, but I've had relatively few injuries at all, and all of them have healed completely and rapidly. This is the list, astonishingly short:

    Tailbone bruise
    Elbow tendonitis
    Bruise from taking a puck to the foot
    Misc bruises from taking slap shots to the unpadded back of my calves (serves me right for having my back turned)
    Bruised breastbone/sternum
    Talbone bruise #2.

    The only persistent one was the elbow tendonitis, which went away completely when I switched to a lighter stick, and even then was only bad a month or so.

    Either it has to do with genuine abandon and the thing about God protecting drunks and small children and me and Korky, or I'm not taking enough risks.

    What do you think?


    Here's how you finish a short story:

  • Stop playing Sims even though your Sim is really, truly just on the verge of a promotion and you almost have enough to buy a pool table

  • Shut down AOL

  • Remind yourself that Patrick Marleau puts in many, many hours a week of ice time, gym time, tape review time and everyone has an off night or two... despite all the work, which still has to be done, like how about now

  • Resist the urge to start on the new novel, including writing notes or that tantalizing first chapter because it's writing but it's also still procrastination

  • Promise yourself you can have more Phish Food after you write three paragraphs

  • Resign yourself to not quite understanding relativity and grab hold of the truth, which is that the research isn't driving this story, you are

  • Take a deep breath, exhale and trust the still small voice which has been speaking the story this whole time.

  • Missing the mark is not the worst thing that could happen.

    Not writing the story is.


  • Powered by Blogger