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.

emma_klopp

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.

The Faithful Servant Wakes Up

Two days ago I was driving to the store for milk and lettuce to support my (fairly mundane) eating habits.  I turned left on Slauson and into the on-ramp for the 90 to Marina Del Rey.  Suddenly I woke up.  This is not the way to the store; this is the way to the job that I felt happy and secure in, three days ago.

Yes, I have been “laid off.”  This is a first for me and I was unprepared for the emotions that it brought up.  I needed a little refresher on the Five Stages of Grief to make sense of it.  Hopefully I won’t be getting to Stage Four.  I’ve never been prone to depression and don’t expect it now; but I didn’t expect the others either.

The experience itself?  I came into work on Monday to find the parking lot less full than usual.  I got my coffee as always and went to my desk.  It was eerily quiet everywhere in the office.  I answered three emails from London, knowing that they would be leaving the office soon.  I checked for new projects in my queue.  I went for another cup of coffee and noticed that my section was empty.  Ominous.  My Manager saw me, seemed flustered, and said “do you have a minute?”

Skeletons_Funeral_David_GoodrichDown the hall and into an office, seated across from the head of HR.  She got straight to the point and continued on, but after the first few sentences I was sealed in a cocoon of numb shock.  Vacation pay, severance, COBRA and finally reaching behind her desk while asking if I needed a box for my things.

Continue reading The Faithful Servant Wakes Up