Under Pressure

So, today is the day RUTHLESS launches! Yay for Ruth! Go buy a copy! But that’s not what I want to talk about right now.

On Saturday, I watched #UFC 189 with some friends. The entire card was epic, and I don’t use that word lightly. By the time my beloved Conor McGregor walked out to the haunting sounds of Sinead O’Connor singing, “The Foggy Dew” my emotional gaskets were nearly blown. By the time McGregor beat Chad Mendes late in the second round, after a brutalizing ten minutes of fighting, I was overwhelmed. So was Conor. Usually one to beat his chest and declare his supremacy  after a fight, instead Conor met his coach on top of the cage and cried, then kneeled on the canvas and cried some more. In his interview with Joe Rogan immediately after the fight, he talked about the crazy mix of emotions leading into the fight and I suddenly realized just how much pressure he’d been under.

This was just for the weigh in, you guys. Not even the fight. The weigh in.

This was just for the weigh in, you guys. Not even the fight. The weigh in.

In the words of my friend Mary Quinn, “Ireland doesn’t have a lot going on right now.” The last twenty years have been a roller coaster for Ireland in a lot of ways, and right now, things aren’t great in the island nation. The Irish have latched onto Conor in a big way. 16,000 plus people were in the arena in Las Vegas. 10,000 of them were from Ireland. That’s love and support – it is also pressure and expectation.

More immediate and intense is the pressure Dana White and the UFC have put on Conor to be their avatar and breakout star. They flew Conor around the world twice. He did a monumental amount of press and promotional engagements. They spent more money marketing this fight than any other. All the while, he had to be getting fit and cutting weight, going from his normal 170 to 145 lbs by fight night.

Conor did this for six months. It exhausts me just to think of it.

David and Freddie ask us why we can't just give love one more chance. Sigh. "Under Pressure" is definitely in my top five songs of all time.

David and Freddie ask us why we can’t just give love one more chance. Sigh. “Under Pressure” is definitely in my top five songs of all time.

And then, two weeks before the fight, the champion Jose Aldo drops out. Conor claimed he had far worse injuries and fought anyway. I don’t doubt him, given the injuries he’s fought with before. At this point, the entire thing hinged upon Conor facing an opponent that he hadn’t prepared for and offered a challenge he had fewer resources to combat.

That is so much pressure. Millions of dollars of promotion, the money and travel plans of his countrymen, not to mention all of the money that could be made for everyone involved. All of it hinged on one man who’d been going at a breakneck pace for six months and who had been on a continuous ride for two years – a ride with little to no real downtime.

No wonder Conor fell to his knees and cried when it was over.

When I was a kid, I hated group sports. Especially group sports that involved balls. I never understood the rules and I had crappy hand-eye coordination. There’s a John Fogerty song, “Centerfield,” with the lyrics, “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play…” That lyric blew my mind. ‘Who’d want baseballs hit TOWARD them?’ I’d wondered. The last thing I wanted was to be put under pressure.

I’ve also thought a lot about freedom and responsibility lately. Specifically, the common desire for freedom – especially the freedom to be truly ourselves – and the corresponding lack of interest in taking responsibility for much of anything. It strikes me that we’ve become a nation of committees, people hiding within herds of other people. It strikes me that there is little reward offered for sticking out our necks, and so we don’t. We want to maximize our freedom and minimize our responsibility whenever possible. This is not a recipe that breeds greatness. Which makes me wonder, do we even aspire to greatness anymore? I don’t see it. Not often.

And this is why people like Conor McGregor capture the imagination. You can say he’s a narcissist and I’m sure you wouldn’t be wrong. (Although the man gives regular and humble thanks to his team.) But narcissist or no, it takes courage to ask for the pressure, to want to the point man, to believe you can live up to millions of dollars worth of expectations. Of course, Conor found himself in that position to begin with because he loves what he does. He has followed his bliss, it has led him here, and he has simply said yes to providence.

For myself, I am no longer the 5th grader who desperately didn’t want the ball thrown my way. I’ve found my own place of embracing pressure. Not nearly in such a dramatic way as Conor McGregor, but let’s just say if Simon & Schuster wants to send me to San Francisco to sell Ruthless to librarians, you better believe I am all about it. To quote another song lyric, “I’m a put on a show kind of girl.” (Britney, Circus.)

 

 

 

Change

Found this image of a banner for a Victorian flea circus, and I had to redo Fanfreakingtastic in its image.

Fanfreakingtastic! It’s had a makeover. I’ll never forget, when Fanfreakingtastic first debuted, more than a year ago, and my beloved BOTASTIC said, “Really? Pink? Orange? Little stars?” I replied, “Yeah! Little stars!” Botastic said, “Huh.” So I was like, “What’s wrong with little stars?!?” And Botastic was all, “I just figured you go with, you know, autumn colors or something.”

Botastic had a point. I’d put together the original Fanfreakintastic whilst in a particularly happy mood, whilst particularly enraptured with a pair of pink and orange sandles I’d bought. True story.

So, I present to you something reflective of the Victorian dark grunge freak show that is more reflective of my usual mindset? Question mark because, not sure if it’s ACTUALLY more reflective of my normative state, but it’s definitely a state I visit at least somewhat frequently. Rather like Georgia or North Carolina.

Also new to the Fanfreakingtastic site – the Equus category, where one can find all horse-related links. A friend recently made the point that there was no one place to go for all horsiness. Now there is.

Hope you like the new look! If you don’t, I’m sorry. I’m done fighting with WordPress for the time being. I’m sure I’ll get back in the ring again eventually. Change is good for soul, after all.

Ego Boost

So, I had an uncharacteristically angsty week there! It’s almost as if I grew up in the Seattle area during the age of Nirvana. I was seriously about twenty minutes from putting on some flannel and writing horrendously bad haikus about my shoulder. Something like: Shoulder, you failed me/Abandoned to the elastic/Band of therapy. Or perhaps, Mortality looms/Age cripples youth, crumbling away/Hello, elastic band. 

It’s true, yo. Physical therapy really does make mad use of that elastic band. On the plus side, my physical therapist sounds exactly like J. Lo and looks like her, too. So if I close my eyes, it’s like J. Lo’s there. And if I open them it’s still kinda like J. Lo’s there. So entertaining!

Anyway, during the angst, I realized I hadn’t planned anything for dinner one night, which made me veer dangerously toward the flannel. (I was teetering on the edge, it wasn’t taking much at that point.) I remembered the free dinner I’d won from McGee’s, so I asked Evan if he was cool with driving all the way to Anderson.  (This is no more than a half an hour, but when you live in Pendleton/Clemson any drive longer than ten minutes becomes so far. When I first arrived from LA I was like, ???? Anderson is right down the road??? But now I, too, have realized just how far away it is.)

McGee's Irish Pub in far away Anderson, SC

Anyway, point is, Evan agrees to the trek, and we set sail for Anderson, intent on collecting our free dinner. I’m still angsty, but content in the knowledge that a server and a cook will be taking care of feeding me. Sometimes, on particularly overwhelmed days, that’s a big deal.  

Evan and I are, in many ways, like very old people. We eat lunch really early and we eat dinner even earlier. So, when we arrive, it’s just us and a handful of the aged. One older lady in particular is obviously a character. She’s in our section and she could’ve easily been included in the cast of Steel Magnolias. Hardcore Southern drawl, funny, a little nuts. At one point I turn, and she yells across the restaurant, “You’re the girl from story night!”

“Why, yes I am,” I say. The lady proceeds to tell her friends about me and my epic win, and she keeps using the phrase, “This girl wouldn’t quit!” I don’t really know what that means, but she appeared to be using it as a compliment, so, hey, I’ll take it. After basking in the warm glow of her nice words, and with a full belly, I suddenly realized, “Hey, I won a contest! I am a contest winner! I am fine! Life is good! Who cares whether my shoulder doesn’t work quite as well as it once did?”

And y’all, I didn’t get into it much before, but it was a pretty awesome win. You get instant feedback, as the crowd judges you. Each table has a score sheet, and as soon as the performer is done, each table raises their card. McGee’s has 25 tables.  After my bit was over, I looked out into the crowd, and I’m not even going to front – it was pretty wicked cool to see 24 “10’s” out there. One table in the back gave me a “9.” One of my competitors was sitting at it.

Even more wicked cool was the incredible group of people who came out to support me. It was a beautiful case of worlds colliding. My parents meeting horse friends meeting gym friends meeting book trailer friends meeting work buddies meeting my writing group sisters meeting friends so old they’re more like family. 17 people showed up to cheer me on, and they were LOUD. It was helluva a lot of love and support.

I am a profoundly lucky human being. I am surrounded by wonderful people. I have a wonderful family and wonderful friends. They not only let me be me, they encourage it. I don’t know how many people can say that, but I know it’s not enough.

Thanks to Lisa (writing group sister) and Julia (horsey soul mate) my stand-up routine made it on to YouTube. If’n you’d like to check it out: Here it is.

10 Pre-Resolutions at the Rejectionist’s Behest

This is a weird year for resolutions for me. I’m actually doing mostly what I want to be doing, so it’s really more a matter of keepin’ on keepin’ on. So – things I want to keep doing, plus a couple I’d like to add on:

1.) Continue the running. I’d gotten severely out of the habit, instead sticking to comfy confines of the gym/weightlifting. It’s nice that Evan and I are running together now. Good bonding time.

2.) Continue the gyming. I want to get my leg press up to something pretty rad by the end of the year. Definitely 600 lbs. but I think I might hit that relatively soon. Will revise to 700 if needed.

3.) Continue Operation: Woo Indie Bookstores. They don’t know I’m a writer yet. I just make this giant circuit, buying books from each store every couple of weeks or so. Once I am ensconced within their consciousness as an awesome customer I’ll be all, oh, I’m a writer, and then one day I’ll be like, and guess what? I totally have a book coming out, LET’S THROW ME A PARTY.

4.) Continue to improve web presence. Must overhaul Fanfreakingtastic. Must overhaul Truth Be Told site. Must create writerly website. Must force friends to subscribe in vast numbers. And by force I mean invite politely – no, wait, I really mean force.

5.) Continue learning. A.) about the craft and B.) about the business.

6.) Continue Operation: Karma. Example of Operation: Karma – on Friday I am going to a local author’s book signing.

And onto the new!

7.) Get back in the pool. Somewhere along the way swimming went out the window with the running. I miss the pool. I need to make time for it.

8.) Begin Operation: Woo Librarians. What with Operation: Woo Indie Bookstores I haven’t been to the library much. And by much I mean I’ve been there once, to get a library card. That I’ve never used. But I do have it in my wallet. If that counts for anything.

9.) I NEED TO LEARN HOW TO DO MY DAMN HAIR. I CAN’T CARRY ELIZABETH AROUND WITH ME, AFTER ALL. Although she is rather small. Conceivably it’d be easier to carry Elizabeth around with me than to learn how to make it do something OTHER THAN JUST LIE THERE, STICK STRAIGHT HIPPIE STYLE. UGH. 

10.) Once I’m done with my next major revision I want to go on a for real vacation.

Your Money. And What I Want You to Do With It.

We all remember Botastic, right? And by Botastic I mean not the exemplary human being of that name, but rather, the post on this here blog that was named in his honor. Quick summary – I participated in the Cooper River Bridge Run, drank too much water like an idiot, ducked into a gas station, found myself next in line to a lovely young lady, with whom I had the following conversation. ME: You’re wearing Clemson orange! LOVELY YOUNG LADY: I work there! ME: Oh really, where at? LYL: Admissions! ME: You must know Gooch! LYL: I love Gooch!

And that’s how I became friends with Alrinthea. Although I didn’t see her again for months. I went to poker lady party at Gooch’s house, and she was there. She stared at me, funny-like. I said, “Convenience store bathroom line!” And she said, “That’s right!” And our friendship was confirmed.

Two things I know about Alrinthea:  

  • She’s an exceptionally good person who donates her time and energy to worthy causes.
  • She needs help reaching her goal in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure walk!
Scrooge McDuck

Illustration of Alrinthea, one week from today.

Which means:

  • I want you to give her money

Also:

  • Please

And:

  • Thank you

I will also be donating. Just two days ago I heard the news that a wonderful woman I know was diagnosed with breast cancer. Maybe I am wrong, but I can’t help but feel that with all the support being summoned for the Susan G. Komen movement, some kind of breakthrough must be in the offing. Please be a part of that movement, and get Alrinthea to her goal! It would be fanfreakingtastic if we could make that happen!

CLICK HERE FOR ALRINTHEA’S PAGE