ASK Musings

No matter where you go, there you are.

Monthly Archive: June 2019

Thursday

13

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

Nearly a Year of Football

Written by , Posted in Adventures

You know I love football (the kind I grew up calling soccer, not the kind where only like two people on the field touch the ball with their feet). I’m a Reign supporter (and have written in the past about how media fails to support women in football), a US Women’s National Team Supporter, and have just returned from the first of four trips I’ll be taking to France over the course of a month to watch six Women’s World Cup matches. And, as I shared in September, I’ve found a club to play with here in London. This post is a reflection on the last ten months.

Over the season (if my count is correct) I’ve played in about 20 matches. For a few weeks I was lucky enough to play on Saturdays and Sundays, which meant there were some weekends that were all football, all the time. Other than travel or being sick/injured, I’m at training every week, which this winter meant training in rain and snow. (I prefer snow, though it feels more dangerous). I also read a book on goal keeping, because it quickly became clear that even though I’ve been playing in goal since I was a kid, I didn’t have much of a strategy other than ‘stop the ball.’

The book helped me visualize a couple of things, and offered some good off-season strength exercises, but that’s not where the learning has happened. Those weeks of training drills and those 20 matches? That’s where I’ve been figuring things out and improving. I’ve grown in confidence and I feel more comfortable with my decision-making. I’ve got so much more to learn (including how to do a fucking goal kick that doesn’t end up at the chest of the opposition), but that’s what makes this so fun: there’s always more to learn.

Obviously I’ve been putting the work in, but I can also credit support I’ve gotten from our back line, the other keepers on the team, and the coach. One keeper is the team captain, and while she is good in goal, I think she’d prefer to be out on the pitch, somewhere mid-field. She knows about body positioning, and going to ground, and letting the defense know where she is. She warmed me up before matches, and shouted back to me after a goal or before a goal kick, telling me to just relax and keep going. I can’t begin to explain how helpful that has been.

The other new keeper on the team has been an awesome support as well, texting good wished before matches and sharing in frustration when a training has gone by where we haven’t had much time in goal. And the coach has helped me figure out how to fit in with the style of play the club promotes, was extremely patient when it was taking me forever to feel comfortable with going to ground when one-on-one against a striker, and is helping me figure out those damned goal kicks.

Last month the team held its end of year awards banquet. It was delightful to be in a room with so many amazing, talented, fun women. I don’t know all of them well, and in some ways I do still feel like the new girl … but on the other hand there were like 20 new girls this year, so I always felt like I had a place somewhere. I also was voted Most Improved, which, in my opinion, is one of the kindest bits of recognition out there. I worked hard this last year, and was surrounded by supportive teammates who had patience, who didn’t let any frustration they felt towards my performance impact our interactions, and who understood that I was always out there trying my best and working at getting better.

 

I’m excited for next year. I’m excited to get even more comfortable with my decision-making and my voice. I’m excited to get fitter (cross-training with football definitely helped my half-marathon time; in the off-season I’m going to spend more time on weights to increase my strength). I’m excited to welcome new members to the team and see what we can all do together. It’s fantastic to play with — and against — talented, tough, interesting women playing the sport they love.

 

 

Monday

10

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

How to Be a Footballer by Peter Crouch

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
People who enjoying playing or watching football, especially the men’s game, especially the English Premier League.

In a nutshell:
Professional football (soccer) player Peter Crouch offers a glimpse into the lives of professional players, including what goes on in the changing rooms, what it’s like to be traded (sold) to another team, and why so many seem to buy such … interesting cars.

Worth quoting:
“You should probably be able to absorb the pain of an opposition goal without needing to wave two finders in the scorer’s face…We all like goals. And if it’s a goal you personally do not like, you can be certain that someone with the same primary leisure interest as you will be absolutely loving it.”

Why I chose it:
I like a good football (soccer) biography, and this one had the potential to be especially entertaining.

Review:
What a lovely surprise this book was! I love football (or, as I grew up calling it, soccer). I’ve played since I was a kid, and last year joined a women’s league here in London, so I train every Tuesday (and one Friday a month), and play in matches on Sundays (and some Saturdays) from September through April. It’s a lovely camaraderie as well as a way to stay fit and keep my brain going as I try to improve. I’m also going to the Women’s World Cup (tomorrow!), where I’ll watch the US Women’s National Team play each of their group stage matches, and then return for the semi-finals and finals.

I have read and reviewed a couple autobiographies from players for the US Women’s National Team, but they were fairly straightforward sports bios, whereas this one is more a collection of humorous observational essays. And, because I didn’t grow up watching the England men’s premier league (or much men’s international football at all), there are a lot of references that I don’t get. However, that didn’t take a way from the book. Sure, there are a lot of players and moments (say, an amazing goal) that are mentioned, but there is enough context within each chapter to get the general gist.

Crouch played for a few teams in the English men’s premier league, as well as for England’s men’s national team. You might recognize him as the extraordinarily tall, very lean, striker. Seriously, the guy is 6’7”. Damn. He currently plays for Burnley, and has played for Aston Villa, QPR and Liverpool in the past. But this book isn’t so much about that. I mean, it is – he talks about his experiences working under different managers, and traveling with different teams. But each chapter is about a different aspect of a footballer’s life, and it doesn’t follow any traditional trajectory. Any given chapter might refer to his time in the youth league, or at a World Cup. He doesn’t talk much about his wife or kids — this is a book about football.

And it’s funny! I don’t know how better to put it than that. Yes, I think you need to have a passing interest in the sport, but Crouch is a genuinely endearing, funny guy who can make an already entertaining story even better. He’s just the right amount of self-deprecating, and he’s also willing to point out when he thinks something is just silly.

I mean, come on:

The only bummer for me is that at no point are any of his examples of amazing plays or players women. Yes, obviously he’s played only with men, and only in men’s leagues. But he doesn’t limit his anecdotes to just things he’s directly experienced or people he has played with; he references loads of players and moments that took place before he was playing. Is there really no goal a professional woman footballer has scored that is worth a mention? Not Carli Lloyd’s hat trick at the World Cup Final in 2015? Not Abby Wambach’s headers? It’s just disappointing.

Still, I recommend this book if you like football and you like to laugh.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Pass to a friend

Sunday

9

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – June 9, 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

2020 Election

“Though Biden isn’t the only Democratic candidate haunted by an account of inappropriate touching, he is the only one who seems to think he can laugh his problems away. And so far, his strategy seems to be working: He currently has a significant lead over his competitors, although that may change as voters interact with him more often.” What’s So Funny, Joe? (by Sarah Jones for The Cut)

Dangerous Shit Tr*mp Did

“Scientists condemned the administration’s decision in the strongest possible terms. “We believe this decision to be politically motivated, shortsighted and not based on sound science,” read a prepared statement by UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. UCSF is using fetal tissue to find a cure for HIV. “Today’s action ends a 30-year partnership with the NIH,” Hawgood continued, adding the ban will “undermine scientific discovery and the ability to find effective treatments for serious and life-threatening disease.” Trump Administration Bans Government Scientists From Using Fetal Tissue (by Sony Salzman for Rewire.News)

“Although the pride flag can and is being flown elsewhere on embassy grounds, including inside embassies and on exterior walls, the decision not to allow it on the official flagpole stands in contrast to President Donald Trump’s claim to be a leader in supporting LGBTQ rights overseas. Trump’s administration has announced a campaign to decriminalize homosexuality overseas and this month issued a tweet and formal statement to “celebrate LGBT Pride Month and recognize the outstanding contributions LGBT people have made.” The denials to U.S. embassies have come from the office of the State Department’s undersecretary for management, Brian Bulatao, a longtime associate of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo who also worked for him at the CIA. Under State Department policy, embassies that want to fly the flag on their flagpoles are expected to obtain permission from Washington.” Trump admin tells U.S. embassies they can’t fly pride flag on flagpoles (by Josh Lederman for NBC News)

Labor

“Claire Stapleton, a longtime marketing manager at Google and its subsidiary YouTube, said she decided to leave the company after 12 years when it became clear that her trajectory at the company was “effectively over”. “I made the choice after the heads of my department branded me with a kind of scarlet letter that makes it difficult to do my job or find another one,” she wrote in an email to co-workers announcing her departure on 31 May. “If I stayed, I didn’t just worry that there’d be more public flogging, shunning, and stress, I expected it.” “The message that was sent [to others] was: ‘You’re going to compromise your career if you make the same choices that Claire made,” she told the Guardian by phone. “It was designed to have a chilling effect on employees who raise issues or speak out.”” ‘I’ve paid a huge personal cost:’ Google walkout organizer resigns over alleged retaliation (by Julie Carrie Wong for The Guardian)

Reproductive Health

“This is just the latest case in the news, but if there was any doubt before, what we are seeing in Missouri and across the country is a public health crisis. We are in a state of emergency for reproductive health in America, and it requires a true emergency response. Over the past few months, we’ve seen just how vulnerable access to safe, legal abortion is across the country. Anti-abortion politicians in states across the country have enacted extreme, dangerous, and unconstitutional abortion bans that will endanger lives. Alabama’s ban would outlaw abortion at any point in pregnancy, others in Georgia and Ohio’s before many even know they are pregnant. Some, like Alabama, Louisiana, and Missouri, don’t include exceptions for rape or incest. And some would put doctors in jail for years—Alabama even has a maximum sentence of 99 years in prison—for doing their jobs. These laws don’t just affect doctors; they would even open the door for miscarriages to be investigated.” Dr. Leana Wen: A State of Emergency in Missouri and Across the Country (by Dr. Leana Wen for Rewire.News)

Something Good

Austin wrote this magazine’s opening article, about games worker unionization. Download it here.

Sunday

2

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

Written by , Posted in Reviews

Four Stars

Best for:
Anyone whose life doesn’t fit the script. And anyone whose does, but insists that other’s lives fit as well.

In a nutshell:
Keiko is 36, single, and has been working in the same convenience store since she was 18. Family and friends want her to get another job, find a husband, and maybe have a child.

Worth quoting:
“When something was strange, everyone thought they had the right to come stomping in all over your life to figure out why. I found that arrogant and infuriating, not to mention a pain in the neck.”
“The normal world has no room for exceptions and always quietly eliminates foreign objects. Anyone who is lacking is disposed of.”
“People who are considered normal enjoy putting those who aren’t on trial, you know.”

Why I chose it:
It’s been on display everywhere I go lately, so I finally picked it up. Glad I did!

Review:
Keiko doesn’t fit into what society expects of women. She works part-time in a job that others look down upon, she doesn’t date, and she doesn’t have many friends or interests outside of work. She makes people uncomfortable because she doesn’t have the same life goals as others – she has no interest in sex, she doesn’t want another job. She studies others so she can fit in better, but overall she’d just be happy if people let her be. But of course, people don’t, including a misogynistic jackass who starts – and quickly leaves – work at the same convenience store.

This is a short book, but it packs a lot into it. Author Murata uses an interesting and different character – one who it might be hard to initially relate to – to make a bigger point about life and what we expect from it for not just ourselves, but others. I get a taste of it at times because I am not having children; some people with children often seem to not entirely know what to do with me once they realize that I’m not going to change my mind. And on a more serious level, I see this playing out in my home town of Seattle, where people who aren’t fulfilling what others view as their duty (namely, to somehow miraculously figure out how to find a home with money they don’t have) are viewed as a drain on society. There’s a life script, and people who follow it (usually people who, I would argue, are unhappy they had to follow it) can be utterly cruel to those who either can’t, won’t, or don’t want to.

Obviously this is complicated by the fact that the thing that seems to make Keiko happy is working in what so many people think of as a soul-crushing job. I saw one review that considered this a horror book. And perhaps part of it is. Or perhaps the author picked something that it would be hard for so many of us to see as a positive to challenge us further. Either way, I’m into it.

Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it:
Keep it

Sunday

2

June 2019

0

COMMENTS

What I’m Reading – 2 June 2019

Written by , Posted in What I'm Reading

Apparently I didn’t do a lot of reading this week …

Reproductive Health

“Rep. Renitta Shannon (D-Decatur) said she witnessed an increase in police presence at the capitol over the past two legislative sessions. But the level of police activity surrounding any debates on HB 481 was strikingly different. She told Rewire.News that police were used to “stifle dissent,” and that this sent a clear message. “Anytime the general public comes to the capitol to say how they feel about a bill, if it’s not something that Republicans agree with, they [Republican leadership] immediately sic the police on them,” she said.” Georgia Democrats: Police ‘Stifled Dissent’ During Near-Total Abortion Ban Debate (by Ari Bee for Rewire.News)

“Lawmakers in conservative states across the nation are striking at the US supreme court’s 1973 Roe v Wade decision that legalized abortion nationally. Abortion opponents are pushing new restrictions on the procedure in hopes that a case will make its way to the high court and two new conservative justices appointed by Donald Trump could help overturn Roe. Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi and Ohio have enacted similar bills, while Missouri lawmakers approved an eight-week ban on abortion. Alabama has gone even further, outlawing virtually all abortions, even in cases of rape or incest. None of the bans has taken effect, and all are expected to face legal challenges.” Louisiana becomes latest US state to pass six-week abortion ban (The Guardian)

Something Good – Women’s World Cup!

“The U.S. Women’s National Team players are known for their athletic abilities and the inspiration they provide to fans across the world. They’re role models and winners. They’re also young, vibrant, fun and can make you feel like they’re your BFFs in a matter of seconds. They have traditions they swear by, they tell inside jokes, and they use fun nicknames for each other. With the WNT Dictionary, we present an inside peek into the world of the U.S. WNT and invite you to join the U.S. team as it gets ready to compete for a fourth title at the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup in France this summer.” USWNT Dictionary