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Monthly Archives: September 2011

Oh, October, how we love thee – October 1, 2011

Well, that was fast, wasn’t it? We just had Christmas and then spring was here about two weeks ago. Then we blew some stuff up in July and here we are and it’s October again.

Yes. It’s October again. And no one is happier about it than I am. Except maybe Czarina Post.

There are two sorts of people in my life: those who’ve been around for a while and start sending me emails in July asking if I’ll be writing about October again this year and the new people who are confused and ask things like,”What’s the big deal about October? Are you off your meds or something?”

Yes, I’m writing about October again and no, no meds are needed, October or not. If you don’t get it, you don’t have to read any further. Go about your business. Nothing to see here.

But if you do get it, you’re one of us: you’re a lover of All Things October.

For the new kids, a brief history: in the fall of 1994, I found myself in a van with five other folks doing laps around Lake Michigan. Most of October was spent in Wisconsin, a place where October is perfect and beautiful, perhaps more perfect and beautiful than any other place on earth. The harvest, the changing color of leaves, an abundance of Chex Mix, all these things brought the six of us to a common place: a shared love of October and all her trappings.

We would decide and announce in grand fashion our October Thought for the Day each day. Those October Thoughts carried us through kind of a rough time. It’s not easy traveling nonstop with a bunch of strangers. There were cultural and philosophical divides that we had not yet figured out how to bridge but October brought us together in ways we didn’t expect and I, for one, still don’t quite understand.

The Thoughts were dormant for a few years after that until I joined the internet age and started sending out emails to Alison, a former van-dweller who had landed unceremoniously in Detroit. This whole mess has grown exponentially since then. At one point, I had a direct email list of upwards of eighty people, many of whom would then forward these silly emails on to friends and family all over the place.

I’ve finally given up on sending out emails. Everything is here. To get here, you have to have at least enough motivation to click on a Twitter/Facebook link. You have to want to be here.

What do you get for your trouble? Well, you get me rambling on about the wonder of October. October is a time of magic, of bounty, of color and flavor and scent. It is the boundary between the light of summer and the dark of winter. It is, as has been often said, when the veil between worlds is at its thinnest.

We will talk of simple things, of candy corn and spider rings and apple crisp. We will comment on literature and perhaps some world events. We may take a cursory look at some theology but won’t go too deep there unless one of you turns out to be an expert in October-centric theology. Anything is possible.

It is October, after all.

 

Oh, something I just learned? September 30 marked Sarah Winchester’s 149th wedding anniversary. We’ll talk about her later in the month. Lots of ground to cover here. Are you in?

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Posted by on September 30, 2011 in October 2011

 

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Pre-October reflection on some major life events

I know lots of people have gone through some seriously life-changing events this year and I in no way mean to belittle those experiences. Births, deaths, marriages, divorces, graduations. Hugely significant happenings, all of them.

But I’ve had two pretty big events this year myself. The first was losing my job of seven years. It was a job I enjoyed where I was lucky enough to work with dozens of people that, over the years, had become more like family than coworkers. But, looking back, it was a job that hindered any sort of creative pursuits, limited pretty much every other aspect of my life and once asked me to make the choice between a promotion and my education.

The second “event” is that, through a couple lucky turns along the way, I ended up being a season ticket holder for the Portland Timbers.

I’ve never been a sports nut, never played sports when I was a kid unless it was a required part of my academic career. I followed the Winterhawks, our local major-junior hockey team, when I was in junior high and high school. I profess to be a Packers fan, but that’s mostly just genetics. I do my best to avoid the Trailblazers if at all possible, a very difficult thing to do when one lives in Portland.

So, no, I know nothing about soccer. I had no idea what I was getting into when I put down the deposit for two seats several years ago before the team made the jump from the USL to MLS, essentially taking the Timbers from being a lower-tier venture meant to sell tickets when the local AAA baseball team was on the road and putting them on par with teams featuring marquee names like Beckham and Donovan and Henry. To me, this prospect was less about the big names in soccer and more about finally having something that might compete for headlines vs. the Trailblazers. It was time.

When my number came up last summer to finally purchase the tickets, I wasn’t sure it really was for me. I’d been to a few matches over the years but still didn’t really understand the true appeal of the game. But I remembered a chance encounter with a few members of the Timbers Army (see this for details) and I decided to dive in.

Best. Decision. Ever.

So, unemployed me has spent the better part of the last six months as a fulltime Timbers supporter. I think I’ve almost figured out the offsides rule. Almost.

I’ve seen some phenomenal matches and some heart-wrenching breakdowns. I was there for the home opener when we stood in line for hours while it rained sideways. I’ve witnessed keeper Troy Perkins create magic. I’ve marveled (like many others) that our mascot carries a chainsaw. A chainsaw.

But there’s more to it than surviving the weather or following the events on the pitch. There’s a sense of unity here as well as a sometimes overwhelming sense of community pride. We sew patches onto our sweatshirts that sport the Portland municipal flag. We collectively find ways to volunteer, to give back to the city we love. We support not just our team, but each other.

We’ve been lucky to get where we are. And I know I’m late to the party. I don’t count myself among the faithful who have stood with the team since the ’70s, or even since its reincarnation ten years ago. I was not among the 18th Street Ladder Crew who were relegated to the sidewalk for a full season after demonstrating their displeasure with choices made by the team in the 2006 season. I didn’t take up the Timbers Army trademark scarf until just a few weeks ago. I don’t know why I waited so long, but I look forward to making up for time lost.

I know that in the years to come, the novelty of it all will wear off for some. The crowds may thin, the faithful will be tested. The New York Times will eventually stop writing about us.

I look forward to moving next year from my cheap seats into the North End to stand side by side with those who shouldered the heavy burdens that were necessary in order to bring us all to where we are now. And I hope to pick up my share of the burdens we face as we group and progress, both as a team and as the greatest football supporters the world has ever seen.

Rose city ’til I die.

 
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Posted by on September 28, 2011 in Timbers