June 28, 2010

Whirlwind weekend

I know that plenty of people spend their weekends in constant motion, because they've been cooped up all week in a cubicle and there's so much fun stuff to do, or because they have two kids in three sports and life is just a constant soc-vol-swim-ball minivan roadshow, or because they have ambitious DIY plans for their house or yard. Plenty of people, sure, but not me. Pre-kid, I spent as much weekend time as possible with a huge Sunday newspaper and a pot of coffee.

Lately we've been trying to get out on the weekends (Nice weather! Local cities to explore! Not giving L couch-potato habits!), and we're falling into the typical German pattern. Grocery shopping on Saturday (stores are closed on Sundays), some time for going out Saturday morning, but Sunday is the main day for doing weekend things. This last weekend we finally got out to the outdoor swimming pool by L's kindergarten, which we've been meaning to do since last summer, and had a great time. There were a lot of other people there, but there was space for everyone. The pool is big, and split up to make room for serious lap swimmers, loungers, and splashing kids, and there is a huge lawn for people to lie around on. We did a little of everything - splashing, showing L some swimming basics, lying around watching the clouds - and immediately started planning to go back.

June 18, 2010

World Cup madness

It's the World Cup! Did you know? C and I sort of paid attention to it when we lived in Santa Cruz, mostly because we had friends from countries where the football is important. We'd go over to someone's house late at night, or to 99 Bottles (owned by a futbol fan) to watch games, but we didn't have that much invested. The US doesn't always qualify, the tournament is usually held far away, and we didn't grow up in a strong culture of soccer fandom. The US also doesn't often compete as a single entity in international sports events - there's the Olympics, but the World Cup isn't treated like a big deal, the Tour de France is more about the individuals than their national affiliations, and we're not even invited to Eurovision.

People here in HD are psyched, though. Every game in the tournament is on the public TV station, there are public viewings of Germany's games in parks and stadiums all over the country, and even in our sedate little suburby neighborhood there are flags on cars, hanging from windows, and temporarily tattooed on our kid (courtesy of a big kid at kindergarten).

I've been watching a lot of the games, and I feel like I'm not watching the way people here do. I want everyone to win! I'd be excited if the US team kept doing well (hey, I'm even wearing red, white and blue because of the game this afternoon), but mostly I want to see good teams play well, wherever they're from. This is in sharp contrast to how I would watch the World Series, by the way - growing up in Seattle, there are definitely teams I couldn't ever support (coughYankeescough). I'm going to take this "happy whatever happens" attitude about the World Cup as an unexpected advantage of being from a place where soccer success isn't a big part of my identity.

June 17, 2010

So I'm trying this thing

I like Shapely Prose. A lot. The three people who were writing there when I first started reading (Kate, Sweet Machine and Fillyjonk) had a big influence in my "your problem with me is *your* problem" version of self-esteem. The essays they wrote said what they meant, they drew out connections between past and present, society and self, and they said, so clearly that it may as well have been on the banner at the top of the page, "there is nothing wrong with you." I hear a lot of societal messages about the necessity of fixing what's wrong with you, making yourself better, and the terrible vanity of being happy as you are. Vain, and don't forget selfish! Don't you know people can see you? And you look like that? When you take these messages as truth, they're motivations to keep playing the game, looking for approval that you're never going to find.

It reminds me of Sarah Vowell's take on Puritans in The Wordy Shipmates, that their sincere belief that you could never tell if you were on God's good side kept them all looking over their shoulders, never able to relax, miserable in the knowledge that they were probably damned. There's no rest for people in search of external approval, especially from the incorporeal.

I've wandered a bit from where I started out meaning to go in this post, which is this: Shapely Prose has added and lost writers over the past few years, and right now Kate is the only one writing there (in addition to writing here and here), and I've developed a bad habit. I check for new articles all the time. Even though I'm pretty sure essays like this take time and revision, even though it's apparently taken me two months to write this bit of fanmail. So not only am I an inconsistent blogger, I'm a hypocrite too! Enjoy the irony here: what makes sense to me as a response is self-improvement on two fronts. I'll try to write something here when I'm mentally complaining that there isn't something new over there.