Friday, September 29, 2006

Looking for me?

...I'm hiding out somewhere else for the moment. Drop me a line if you want to see...

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Why I Play

I blame Allie for this.

Every once in a great long while, a person appears in your life who
makes you...not question what you're doing, but makes you want to
understand it better. Tear the guts out and lay 'em on the ground for
all to see. Get *it*, whatever it is.
My it is golf. Has been for the last six years. A game where you
smash a small white ball around a field with implements ill-suited for
the purpose, to steal wholesale from Twain (I think). And as much as
has been written about the what of golf, the challenges, the
disappointment, the dedication it takes to play at the highest level
you're personally capable of...well, it's been a long time since I
really tried to figure out what I'm doing this for. Or more properly,
what drove me to turn my life upside-down and rededicate it to a thing
few respect or understand.
The only answer I seem to be able to come up with is that I owe it to the game.

In the beginning - when I was a younger Reverend, scrapin' for a shot
here and a putt there - I know I golfed for solace. I went to the
golf course for the same reason people drink, do drugs, sleep around,
thump bibles or any of the other activities people get into to help
ignore that voice in the head. You know the one. You're not good
enough, you're not smart enough, you're not anywhere near the person
you wish you could be.
One of my first breakthroughs in golf was the realization that I
don't use swing thoughts when I play. I can't. I have, and I suspect
I always will, hit my best shots when thought wasn't present. When I
danced with the girl that brung me. When I believed that my swing,
flat, shut and past parallel, worked.
And to do that, I need internal silence.
Golf allows me to shut the fuck up. To stop beating on myself. To
not use something random I see remind me of another failure, another
embarrassment, one more time where I didn't live up to whatever I keep
thinking I need to live up to. I can't explain it, which,
unsuprisingly, bothers me a bit. But in a way, I don't feel like I
need to. It's enough to know that it works. And there's a lot of
comfort in knowing that there's a place I can go whenever I need to
remember that I can be who I want to be. For an hour of practice or a
45-hole day, I have a place where I feel sane.
Maybe that's why I never want to leave.

My second big breakthrough came a lot later. I suspect it was
prompted from the three seasons I spent at Tor Hill in Regina without
a regular game. I'd just show up at the course and go out with
whoever I found. I wasn't interested in playing with the same three
guys over and over again; I wanted exposure. I wanted to compare my
game to everyone else I played with. I wanted to learn. If you're
looking through the right eyes, the 36 handicap can teach you more
about your own game than the plus-two - even if it's just recognizing
your own flaws in someone else.
Around that time, I finally made the mental leap that's made
everything make sense since: that golf is inseparable from life. At
least it is to me, anyway. It's a tool that allows you to see your
life as it is, as it was, and as it could be.
On the golf course, I failed, time and time again. That's golf,
though. The game itself has sweet fuck all to do with what you do
right - it's how you manage what you do wrong. What I discovered was
that I could accept my failure there, because the next shot is always
a chance to put things right. Blow one out of bounds? Fine.
Fairway, green, one-putt. Miss a green? Fine. Chip it in. Top it
six yards? Fine. Pound the next one. You can't do a single goddamn
thing on a golf course you can't put right - or at least learn from,
if you're paying attention.
You're bright enough to see where this correlates to life, I think.

Not long after, three people who I love very dearly took me to a
place I love very dearly: Bandon, Oregon. Just walking onto the
property releases something inside me, this amazing feeling of
personal acceptance. Cellphones don't work there, and neither do the
voices in my head.
It's a good place to think, I guess is what I'm saying.
I've talked about The Walk, the five AM stagger to the twelfth green,
on more than one occasion. I've talked about the moment of
self-discovery I found there, too, the nudge from above, below,
whereever. I understood myself for the first time with my feet
dangling in a pot bunker/urinal, Marly Red in one hand, flask of
Highland Park in another...or accepted myself, maybe. I know I walked
back after kissing my fingers and touching the flagstick a different
person. No more pretense. No more acting for someone else.
It really is all about me.

People play this game for a million reasons. They want to feel that
perfect shot, shot after shot. They want to take two bucks off their
buddies. They want to look good. They want to accomplish something.
They're all valid. They're all not why I'm out there, though.
I play because I fuck things up. I play because I set things right.
I play because it's one of the hardest things you can do. I play
because it's scary. I play because it's beautiful. I play because it
makes me remember that being alive is the greatest gift you've ever
been given.
More than anything else, I play because it makes me believe that one
day I'm gonna see Grandpa again. Because he taught me to play that
ball down and where it lies. Because he got it, whatever it is.
Because he gave me the greatest gift I've ever received. Because he
set me right.
I play because someday, I get to say thank you.

And if you're reading this, I'm thanking you, too.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Your little ray of sunshine...

...is in my three-wood, children. Yes, the Club That Dare Not Be Replaced hasn't been replaced, but it's been upgraded, that's for damn sure. For years I hit the stock King Cobra SS 3W with the stock Aldila HM-Tour in it; a light, mid-kick, fairly whippy shaft. I loved it. Hit the everloving piss out of it. I've had other 3W's come through the bag, but never for long; The Bitch was just always the weapon of war.

Well, Donovan's assistance in the gym this winter has finally rendered The Bitch just a hair too flappy. It still went long and straight when hit smoothly, but I couldn't grunt on it anymore. Well, I could, and I'd make contact, too, but god knows where it'd end up. Deep and right, snaphooked, three yard draw - I'd give you a thirty-three split on each, right there. So I did my research, figured that I could do a lot worse than putting a matching Fujikura Vista Pro 70 in it like my driver...and then found out that Fujikura is so deep in trying to ship out their OEM comittments that there's no way you're getting a Fuji, no how, no way...so I went to plan B, and, well...

Let's just say that I think it's lust.

Grafalloy CompNT Prototype 85, stiff. Mid kick, mid flex, 2.7 degrees of torque, just a snatch-hair overlength...and it is the golfing equivalent of the railgun. Point and shoot. Hell, the driver might be next...

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Here we go again...

They can't move until July 3, which means I can't go until August 1. Maybe.

No mas. I surrender. Anyone lookin' for a IT guy?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006


Yeah. So. New spot around here. Kinda barren, but I'll work on that. It's not like I've got a whole lot else to do these days.

You want the truth? There's something strangely liberating in nuking two years of writing. Hell, at this rate, I might cook off the collection on the hard drive, too, the last fifteen years or so. Realistically, I haven't written anything worth reading in about two and a half years anyway...mostly 'cause I haven't needed to. Writing's always my way out, my way of dealing with everything, and in the last couple of years, I haven't had a whole lot to deal with. It's been a semi-charmed kinda life, full of fun, great people, and wonderful experiences; put blunt, I've been blessed, and blessings blunt your edge.

Case in point: I'm running tonight through my folks' neighborhood at about ten at night, surrounded by SUV's and Beemers, the smell of fabric softener and grass clippings. The iRiver is cranked to 'fucking hurt me' and my lungs are doing their best Alien impression, and all I can think about is how I wish I was running somewhere else. Anywhere else. This isn't reality, here. Regina in general doesn't feel like reality. It's always felt like...well, someplace you go to wait until your parole comes up.

This is in marked difference to the Island.

The first time I drove across that bridge in August of 2004, the first moment Borden and Points East gently came into view, I felt like I was home...and that's not a feeling I'm all that familiar with, you want the pure and honest truth. When folks asked me where home was - and that seemed like every second fucking question on the Island, let me tell ya. This was crucial information, for a reason I'm still not privy to - I usually didn't know what to say. Sometimes I'd say Regina, 'cause, for two and a half years, that was, and there was still a shitload of my stuff in my folks' basement. Sometimes I'd say Calgary, 'cause that's what my birth certificate says. Sometimes I'd say Charlottetown, 'cause that's where I laid my head down. And sometimes, if I felt like telling the whole twisted tale, I'd grin and say Canada...

But the bottom line was that the Island in general, as small and as invasive and as boring as it could be...it felt right. Solid. Some place I could see myself putting down roots. Hell, I even started putting some down...the start of a career at one of the best courses on the Island, some extremely close and wonderful friends...even a wonderful girl who I still think about every single goddamn day. And then...and then.

It'd be a lot like me to say "and that's when I started to piss it all away". That's been me ever since I was small, man; get my ducks in a row and then fuck 'em all up, one by one. But actually, this...this isn't me, apparently. I'm going after the brass ring, here. I've got the job I've dreamed about ever since I started thinking about working in the golf industry. The only hitch is that I don't know when I'm gonna start, well, working.

Allow me to explain.

When you build a golf course, you need permits. You need all KINDS of permits. Some are easy to get, and some, well, aren't. The one we're waiting on - the only thing we're waiting on, apparently - is the archeological permit. And getting the folks to sign off on something that says "come build a golf course on our historical land" in the BC interior, in these days of Olympic-sized broken promises...well, near as I can tell, it's about as easy as fistfighting a hornet's nest. And until some ink hits the paper, I don't have a job, and, well, I'm just like everyone else. I got bills to pay.

Which means that I'm starting the job hunt in earnest. I always keep my eyes open, but now...now I need one. I can't decide whether to find a joe job that'll keep me in green fees while I wait, or look for something more permanent, with the kind of things I need to start thinking about - pensions, benefits, promotions, pagers and cell phones, seventy hour weeks, broken relationships, signing on for the life I swore I'd left behind. Because that's where I'll go, if I gotta do the foreseeable-future thing; the IT game is what I know.

There isn't a day that goes by that I don't remember the exact moment I couldn't see home in the rear-view mirror anymore; where I don't remember that last sliver of green nipping beneath the big, solid concrete barriers of the Fixed Link. At the time, I tried to calm the kneading in my gut with another gargantuan pinch of Skoal Straight and some thoughts of What's Next; this was before I knew there'd be this kind of delay, where my stay in Regina could be measured in single-digit days. And those two things, the dip and the anticipation, they helped me beat back what every instinct I own and a few more that hadn't been active for, oh, two and a half years or so, said:

Go back. It's not too late. Danger lies ahead. Go back.

Know this: I don't even pretend to understand my golf game, but I am cogent enough to understand that in many, many ways, it mirrors my life beautifully...and every single time I hit a bad shot - even if it's just a little bad or if it's catastrophic - it's because I didn't trust my instincts. My soul knows what club to hit, every time. I just need to pay attention.

When I left, I knew that this road was gonna be hard. I knew that there was gonna be sacrifice involved. I also knew that it was time to be bold, to strike out and do something most folks wouldn't, couldn't bring themselves to do. I knew that I was leaving behind everything I was comfortable with, and that this...this was gonna be a great adventure.

Wanna know what else I think about, every day, somewhere between the girl, the Meadow and my friends?

What if they wouldn't do it because it was a fucking mistake?