Wednesday, April 22, 2009


I could have written a very different title to this post, but it would have been so expletive-ridden and filled with such venom it would have tainted what I have to write now.

Truth is, I am actually kind of over it now. Over what? Let me explain.

10 days ago, we took the car to a mechanic to fix the problem with it stalling mid-drive. They couldn't fix it. Scratch that, they made it worse (incredibly, I diagnosed they had knocked a hose off so it wouldn't idle at all - I was right.) So, we had little choice but to take it to a dealer.

Sure, they could fix it, but they mistook us for people who could afford to pay to replace everything that was broken with genuine manufacturer parts. Their first quote? Three grand.

That went up to three-and-a-half after a water pump and a timing belt and some other shit.

Then, the coup de grace. Some bolts had sheered off inside the engine... so... a new short block. Or, as I call it, another nearly two grand.

Given this news, on the back of using our tax rebate to get our finances way the hell in order, I went through the five stages of grief with clinical precision:

Denial – I can’t believe this is happening

Anger – Those crooks are ripping us off

Bargaining – It would have been OK if this new charge hadn’t totally screwed us

Depression – we are never going to have money for anything fun ever

Acceptance – but it’s only money, so... Let’s move on.

And really, if we had known the car was in such a mess, and been putting off getting in repaired until we could afford it, we would probably be happy at this point. There's no cosmic force picking on me. It's a car and it needs fixing. That happens to cars sometimes. That's how I'm looking at it. Please don't try and convince me otherwise. I might believe you and go postal on those crook mechanics.

... deep breath....

In other news (as the Yankees continue to battle hard to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in the 12th inning and a thunderstorm on the way) my latest manuscript is ready for the self-publishing factory.

Yes, you read that right. In a few months, I will have a book available on Amazon because I will be putting it there with the help of I am looking forward to it just as much as I was 18 months ago when someone else was going to pay to have my book published. We know how that ended up, but I think this move toward self-publishing will actually help me let go of the disaster that was the first book deal falling through.

I will publish updates and will soon have a brand new in place. I deleted the old one today with all its references to the old book.

I am so happy to be playing tennis tonight, given the therapy hitting things provides. I will also get home late enough that the rest of the house will be asleep, freeing me up to play Star Wars: Battlefront II or watch The Wire for a couple of hours.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Love all

I have rediscovered one of the fine sports I grew up playing, and it might just save my sanity.

A few weeks ago, I was unexpectedly called upon to play tennis on a Sunday night to help fill out a doubles game. Having not played in more than 10 years, it was the most fun I had enjoyed in many a month. On the back of this, we hastily assemble a four to play regularly starting next week, and the cherry on top was being called upon again to help out last night.

My love affair with tennis was unavoidable. If I ever get back to the house I grew up in, I will take the time to measure in paces the number of steps it takes from me to get from my old front door to the tennis courts across the street in the park opposite. My estimate would be about 25.

From the first dry day of the year (sometime in April) and all summer long, I would play tennis. It's the rare sport that allows you to work up a sweat but never really be exhausted, even in the many set marathons we would partake in as teenagers. Sunday mornings when I was maybe 10 or 11, I would play mixed doubles with my mum or dad too, although unlike in the games when they weren't around, when the park-keeper came along to collect the payment, my parents would pay him. When it was just us kids, we would run away and hide when we saw him coming, and then when he came back, we would run off again.

There are two misconceptions you are probably assuming at this point:

1) That I am good at tennis. The truth is, I suck. Like every other thing I do, I never bother with the fundamentals and just jump in. So, my backhand is awesome... maybe once in every four swings. I can really put back spin and top spin on the ball... apart from the majority of the time, when I will catch the ball on the metal frame of my racket, or skid the ball harmlessly into the net AGAIN. I have this one move when I will return a volley at the net with my back to the ball and it's pretty much unreturnable... on a ratio of 1:16, the 16 being the times it either hits the net, or drops to the opposing player for a lay-up smash winner.

2) That tennis is a game for rich types who are physically fit and like the straight-laced nature and tradition of the game. Not the way I play it. There wasn't any white on display when we took the court yesterday. I was wearing the same shorts I had played soccer in that morning and a grey football t-shirt, for example. Also, as with every other game I play in, the trash-talking is what made it so enjoyable, and that is a constant that goes back to my games as a teen. Some examples:

"Don't feel bad - nobody could have returned that..."

"Careful! That ball is probably still hot from the ace I just put past you."

"It's OK, I'll only need one ball [as opposed to two to serve with, implying an ace is coming]."

And so on. I'm glad I've been reunited with tennis. With some many memories from my younger years so far away, playing now with a new bunch of friends after a 10-year break genuinely feels like picking up right where I left off with nothing changed.