I only get disappointed in myself when I lose a bout I know I should have won. When i’m fencing someone who is clearly better than me, my goal is to focus on each touch, try to do something which will negate my opponent’s advantage. Sometimes it works, and I can score an upset win. But a lot of the time it won’t work, meaning I don’t win, but if I at least discover something about myself or my opponent, I can walk away from it with some level of satisfaction. It’s when I just get beat and don’t learn anything that I get disappointed. And when I lose to someone I know I should beat, it bothers me probably more than it should. I don’t accept second-best from myself, and when I don’t have the level of success that I feel I should have, that’s just not acceptable to me. Losing let’s me know what I need to do to improve.
Literature is for teachers and others who live in the past because they can’t deal with the present.
There’s only one classic work that I’ve enjoyed, and that’s “Paradise Lost.” I think Satan’s a great character, and no, for all you smart-asses out there who think I like Satan because I’m anti-Christian, I hate the church for more immediate reasons. I like Satan because he’d rather rule in Hell than serve in Heaven. I identify with his self-righteous rage. People say I have anger issues, and I say I have issues with people who don’t understand that anger is the only appropriate response to society. If you’re not angry, you’re a tool, and I’ll gladly fight the mediocrity and maliciousness of our world, rather than give in and perpetuate it’s madness.
Coach Dan reached into the sack of masks, and piled one out to offer to Annie. He turned back to the bag, thin looked up again when he heard Annie laugh.
She had put on the mask , which was two sizes too big for her head. She shook her head, the mask twirling as if on a stick.
“you’re kidding, right?” she asked.
“I’m not asking you to wear it,” Coach Dan explained. “Just carry it.”
“You know this was Miles’ mask,” asked Annie. Coach Dan nodded.
Bernie looked up. “Have you heard from Miles lately?” he asked.
I really don’t find much stuff that’s worth reading. Most of the new stuff that’s out there is pretty lame – cheap melodrama and titillation – reading that kind of garbage makes me feel stupid. And the classics, they’ve all been read and studied so many times, what’s the point? You’re only supposed to think what your parents or teachers think about them anyway, so what’s the point of coming up with your own opinion, it’ll just be wrong anyway.
One book I have read lately is “The Catcher in the Rye.” I think the author’s hit the nail on the head, the world is a bunch of phonies. Maybe that’s just the narrator’s point of view and the author doesn’t really think that way, who knows maybe he’s making fun of people like me who think like the narrator. If that’s the case, then screw the author, that just means Holden’s more real to me than he is to the author. Can reader’s really know more about characters than the authors who create them? Yeah, if the author’s a jackass who got lucky. Anyway, I really like that book, I’ve read it a few times even, and the fact that it’s been banned in every bookstore and library within a twenty mile radius of this stinking town – no joke, I’ve been keeping track of this ever since Coach Dan gave it to me a couple years back – makes me like it even more.
Amazes me the crap my so-called “intellectual” teammates read. Annie is doing what all the good little girls who’ll inherit a fortune do – read the prescribed classics, the operating instructions for the ruling class. She’ll never have an original thought for herself, which is fine so long as she does what she’s told.
Bernie and Butch are into this sci-fi crap, with a little Tolkien thrown in for good measure. I honestly think they haven’t read the whole Ring trilogy yet (which, come to think of it, would show better judgement on their part than they usually display). Reading that stuff gives them the illusion that they’re unique, but what they’re doing is just substituting one paradigm for another. They’re just finding a different way to be the same as everybody else – comfortable rebellion.
Rex is into the Three Musketeers, Cyrano de Bergerac, Zorro – the stuff everybody else thinks we all read. Can’t stand the way he keeps reinforcing the stereotypes that I keep fighting against. His idiotic escapism is what gives all of us a bad name.
Kassandra’s into Shakespeare and Lovecraft, which is fitting, because you can’t understand any of their writings, much like you can’t understand anything Kassandra says, and when you do accidentally figure out what she’s talking about, you regret it.
I don’t think Dawn reads. Probably not so bad, because it would be a waste of time, given her lack of intellectual acumen. Coach keeps giving her books to read – mostly contemporary stuff, pulp novels without many multiple-syllabic words – but I don’t understand why. The effort’s lost on her, and if she ever were to find out the truth about herself through her reading, she’d probably get so depressed she’d kill herself.
“I don’t get you,” said Annie. “You act like you have some agenda that you keep to yourself. Even when we were going out last year, you acted like you wanted to be somewhere else. That’s why I couldn’t stand being with you – you never acted like you wanted to be with me. I was a means to some kind of end.
“and what you’re doing now with Bernie, it’s just sick. You’re torturing the poor guy, and I have no idea why.”
“Don’t you think he should be able to take care of himself?” asked Double-J. “If I’m causing him so much grief, why doesn’t he fight back? I can’t help it if he’s such a typical, privileged softy.”
“look, can you knock it off with that self-serving crap,” said Annie. “you think because you haven’t had it as god as some of us, that gives you the right to be a jerk. Listen, there’s a lot of people in this world, in this town even, who would switch positions with you in a heartbeat. You want to feel sorry for yourself, fine. But keep me out of it. And because Bernie’s my teammate, I want you to back off him as well.”
He wasn’t sure at what point work stopped being what he did and started being what he was. The thought of work defining him, of his being what he did, greatly upset him. “Should I try to Changge my job,” he would often say to his wife, ” or change who I am?
“Dealing with stress is really quite simple. You just act like your passing through, that this stage in your life is only temporary. You act responsibly, sure – you be a good guest. It’s when you start obsessing over where you are, when you give your surroundings more attention than they deserve – that’s when your surroundings start to fell like an unpleasant home, when you feel that you’re stuck where you are. You take up mental residence in your surroundings, and before long you’ll feel that the walls are closing in on you.”
Been working my way through Doris Keans Godwin’s political biography of Abraham Lincoln for a few months now – it’s a long book that I am reading at night ( reading myself to sleep does not produce the quality of sleep tha t I would like to enjoy, but it’s a far better way to come down from stress than are many other activities), and this effort has kept me from writing many reviews. But seeing as my Kindle tells me I’m only 60% through the work (the Battle of Gettysburg just concluded – looks like the North is going to win the Civil War), it’s probably best if I give my impressions along the way.
Hadn’t known too much about Edward Stanton, Lincoln’s Secretary of War. He was in many ways the opposite of Lincoln – his bunt, no-nonsense demeanor was a sharp contrast to Lincoln’s affability. Stanton made plain that he had no time for the humor that Lincoln would interject during the most serious of Cabinet meetings. It is certainly a credit to Lincoln that he would provide so much authority to someone so different than him, especially given that Stanton had humiliated Lincoln years before during a legal proceeding in Cincinnati. Lincoln knew he needed someone with Stanton’s skills and drive for this critical position, and how Lincolnian it was of him to look past his personal grievances with Stanton when he asked him to fill this role.
There’s a quote about politicians that I need to write about at some point.
“the problem is, you have no trust.”
“didn’t peg you as a particularly trusting person.”
“If you’re talking about trusting other people, hell no. People aren’t worth a damn. Trust I’m talking about is in the future, it’s about knowing everything’s going to work out fine.
“see, people like you, you’ve been given everything in life, so you don’t have to trust in anything. It just comes to people like you. When you live like I do, trusting in the future is a survival skill.
“So when adversity strikes you, you don’t know what to feel. Something’s not given to you, you don’t know how to respond. That’s why you freeze up all the time. Me, when my back’s to the wall, I’ve been there so many times that responding in those situations is second nature to me. The trust I have is in myself, and the world. You’ve never had to trust anyone, and nobody’s ever had to trust you. That’s why Ihave success, and you don’t.”