The Supposed Calm Between Jobs

“The gods were moved; but none can break the ancient Sisters’ iron decrees.” – Ovid, Metamorphoses 15

Being between jobs often feels like a Greek Tragedy. The actions are fated and the result is already written. I’ve noted to friends in this situation that “you will send out 40 resumés with no response, but only then will you get a call from someone you don’t know about a company you had never thought of.”

Today I signed up for a Programming Course on Coursera.  Yesterday I threw myself into an hour of German on Duolingo. It really feels like time to dive into all the things I never had time to do in the last few years.

loadin-trussesBack when I was touring, everyone lamented the same situation.  When working, we put in 16 hour days and looked forward to the end of the tour when we could relax.  When not touring we sat staring out the window wondering where our next tour was coming from. It would be difficult to decide which period was more stressful.

I often declined commitments during my off time. I did not join a band. I did not play for a rugby team. I always knew that, sooner or later and probably at the most inconvenient time, I would be called away to live on a bus for six months.

My current situation is quite different, yet the result is the same. The biggest difference is the time scales. I worked at my last position for over three years, using two weeks of vacation time. I was not looking forward to any “down time” in the future. It just happened.

The result for me was throwing myself into the search for my next position: two weeks of contacting everyone I knew, two weeks of disappointment, two weeks of renewed battle, and then…

whosviewedyourprofileI’m not good with sudden shifts, but I recognize patterns when I see them. I’m more stressed now than when I was last working. Sometimes hard to sleep at night. All my usual stress reducing activity (tai chi, meditation, refereeing) put on the shelf while staring at my Linkedin account. This is not a healthy time!

I’m hoping that the answer is setting goals that have little to do with my career. In my experience, as soon as you plan the future, Fate will step in to ruin everything. Here goes (preliminary list):

  • Finish Programming Course and get shiny certificate (three months)
  • Finish Duolingo German Tree and continue to Fluency (seven months)
  • Cross over to USSF Referee Level 8 and move towards Level 7 (six months)

So I tempt the Fates! Stop me if you can!

Fußball Fanatic in Less Than A Year

echteliebe_small“Jaaaaaa! Berlin, Berlin, wir fahren nach Berlin!”

Tomorrow I will be watching the DFB-Pokalfinales live from Berlin…on ESPN3 on my laptop.  Apparently no US broadcaster found the German Cup Final to be interesting.  I’m not that surprised, as I haven’t been able to watch a Pokal match on broadcast all year.  To be fair, I will be able to watch it in Spanish on ESPN Desportes, delayed by eight hours.

“But wait! You’re an American! Did you grow up somewhere else?  Somewhere…soccerish?” No, I didn’t. I’m here to say that anyone can become a fan of any sport or team in very short order, given access and incentive.

The incentive towards soccer came when I was a bit disgusted with rugby last September.  I had refereed rugby for 13 years and wanted to try something new.  I took an AYSO course, got a yellow and black shirt and I was off.  Except for one fact: I played soccer for three years in the 70s, and remembered little.  So time for a scan of my TWC channel listings.

So, the access.  You can’t watch much soccer on the standard cable package. Big games now and then on Fox Sports 1. I wanted to see matches on Bein Sports and GOLTV. I was to discover that Bein (and Fox Soccer) required a special $9 package. That sufficed for a month or two with Spanish and English soccer galore.

I had a second incentive. I intend to live in Germany within the next five years, so why not watch German soccer? The problem here was that the Bundesliga was licensed to GOLTV. That was another $9 “Spanish Language” package, even though the matches were broadcast in English. There’s a reason why TWC is the second most hated company in America.

In December I was watching German fußball for the first time.  Now, six months later, I am breathlessly awaiting the final match of the season.  How was it accomplished?

  1. Forsake all others – I follow the SF Giants and Irish Rugby. Not many Giants games on in LA, so no conflict there. Irish Rugby was an issue and I did watch three Six Nations matches. This was, however, a bit of a downgrade from all of the Munster, Leinster, Ulster and Connacht matches that were now available to me.
  2. Pick your team – at first I watched a few matches and thought that Bayern München was my team. Subsequent discussions with relatives in Germany and German friends here stopped that slow forming love affair very quickly. It was Dortmund or nothing.
  3. Watch and learn – when I started watching Borussia Dortmund they were at the bottom of the table facing relegation. The drama of each match was intense. Within two months I knew every player on the roster and their position.
  4. Get social – I’ve joined the Borussia Dortmund Reddit Group, follow the team on Facebook and often call my Brother-in-law in Westphalia after a match. I won’t see a match in Dortmund anytime soon, but today it’s possible to be a virtual fan.


After tomorrow, it will be the Women’s World Cup for a few months.  Only something to pass the time until the Fall. This time a full season with a new coach and new players.

I’m Special! Really.

I recently listened to a talented gentleman (Moth Radio Hour?) painting a small vignette of the End Times:

You wake up one morning and it’s the Zombie Apocalypse.  You go next door to talk to your neighbors about it, but they are no longer your neighbors…they are delicious!

zombiesHow many people watching Zombie movies ever consider what their odds would be in that future hellscape?  The obvious odds, probably 99%, are that they would be zombies.  Do they relate to the movie in that way?  Of course not.  They cannot picture it that way.  Instead, they are Alice, wandering the world shooting all those nasty zombies in the head.resident-evil-alice

Personal Exceptionalism:  a trickle-down version of National Exceptionalism.  In a Western, you would be the lone gunfighter stepping out on the street, instead of a cowardly towns-person huddling behind your door.  In a war movie, you would be carrying your buddy 50 miles to safety, instead of lying in a ditch with a gaping wound.

Continue reading I’m Special! Really.