Well, the world is significantly worse off than it was the last time I wrote one of these. COVID isn’t taken particularly seriously by the rank and file (and certainly not by the federal government) and protests are now rampant throughout the US as a result of inexcusable police behavior that continues every day. It’s a horrible state of affairs. I hope you are all safe and still social distancing and taking care of yourselves and each other.
As for me, I’m hanging in there. It is still very hard and the isolation is difficult, but I get plenty of opportunities to take the pups up to Julienne’s site, walk the fields and woods, read to her, take pictures, and feel her presence there. There have been many hard days, as hard as the days immediately following her death, where I am inconsolable (not that there is anyone who could try, since I’m alone) and bereft and wailing on the floor. The other days I just miss her with everything I have.
I’ve gotten to the point in therapy where I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can, at this stage. With outside activities restricted, there isn’t much I can do socially beyond what I’ve been doing, so trying to get out in the world isn’t part of my life or recovery anyway. I’ve thought long and hard and decided that where I am right now mentally and emotionally is a place that I am unlikely to be moving away from anytime soon. It’s the same place I’ve been for almost 8 months, where the only thing I actively want to do is mourn my wife and do things for her. Instead of caring for her directly as I did for a long time, I now take care of things like her site and our home, where I have been trying to maintain it as she always liked or wanted it to be.
Now that it is fully spring, I’ve turned my attention to our backyard. It was the reason why we bought the house in the first place, a combination of utter wild beauty and spaces like the deck and pool that we loved and spent the majority of our time enjoying. It spent almost a year being completely untended, and it was hard for me to be out there without being completely overcome with emotion. I just couldn’t bear being out there without her. Finally, a couple weeks ago, I went out there and cut grass, pulled weeds, swept leaves, strung lights, uplit trees, and hung places for fairy berries, just like I use at her site. A few days ago, I decided to open the pool, since the raggedy cover made it look wrong. Doing these things for Julienne give me peace and a sense of accomplishment which literally nothing else can do right now. So I’m just going to keep doing it.
Julienne and I had suddenly become homeowners four days before our wedding. She would fondly point out during this time, and after, that on the lists of most stressful things one can endure, major illness, buying a house, and getting married were always on there, and we were grappling with all of them at the exact same time. We may have found our dream house, but we still had just a few days to pull off the wedding of our dreams as well.
A few years ago, I gave out awards in random categories for the following reason:
…Coming up with a top ten list has to be the easiest writing job in the world. Jot down ten things, come up with superficial reasons for their inclusion, and then explain how blatantly wrong you are as just “a way to get people talking about it.” It’s the ultimate mail-it-in, who-gives-a-shit approach to writing.
So I am TOTALLY in!
I followed it up with the Second Annual Aravan Awards for 2011, then didn’t do one for 2012 or 2013 because my life fell completely to shit and it took me a while to climb back out of it. But now I have, so it’s time to dust off the formulaic and simplistic content generating machine…
THE THIRD SOMETIMES-ANNUAL ARAVAN AWARDS!!!!
What are the Aravan Awards, you probably didn’t ask? I’ll tell you anyway! The Aravan Awards are completely arbitrary awards in arbitrary categories that I give out for arbitrary reasons. For example, the 2010 Aravan Award for Best Movie I Watched in 2010 went to Pulp Fiction, which did not come out in 2010 and I’d seen years previously but happened to rewatch it in 2010 and it was better than anything I saw that year. So you know what you’re in for. Plus, the awards are arbitrary because I don’t always remember what year something happened, so it’s kind’ve a grab bag of Shit That Happened At Some Point. Bear with me. The Aravan part of the awards name comes from the pseudonym I originally used here until I published my first book and changed the blog over to my real name (OR IS IT?!?!) and I’ve stuck with it because Tradition. And now you can’t un-know any of that useless information.
Anyway, on to the cheap shitty statuettes!
This post is going to be all about football, so most of you won’t care. It’s also going to be about the Redskins, meaning still less of you will give a shit. In fact, it’s going to be about one particular Redskin, so that’ll reduce the potential audience for this post to about one. I don’t give a shit. Some things need to be said.
I’ve been conscious of being a Redskins fan for 35 years. In that time I’ve had heroes, from good days and bad: Joe Theismann, John Riggins, Darrell Green, Dave Butz, Dexter Manley, Art Monk, Downtown Charlie Brown, Joe Jacoby – hell, I could go on forever. But it’s been a long time since the Glory Days of the Hogs and Gibbs and the Pearl Harbor Crew and the Posse and Fun Bunch and all the rest. In fact, for 20 years now, being a Redskins fan hasn’t been all that fun. There was fleeting success during the Norv era, but that didn’t last, and then came the Bataan March of coaching. Schottenheimer, Spurrier, Gibbs 2.0 (and the last glimpse of success), Zorn (Jesus Christ, I still can’t believe there was a Zorn Era), and now Shanahan. I have hopes for the current coaching staff, I really do. Hope is pretty much the only thing Redskins fans have had to hang their hat on for 20 years. Hope that this year the line can stay healthy. Hope that a quarterback could emerge from the pile and become an NFL-caliber star. Hope that the defense would finally stop giving up 65% of 3rd down conversions. Hope that the young guys could do something.
For 8 years, though, there was one position that I, as a fan, didn’t have to feel hope about. It simply wasn’t necessary, because for this one area, there was certainty. At tight end, for the Washington Redskins, Chris Cooley was going to give everything he had on every play. He was a bright spot, an anchor, one guy we could count on every play even when we were certain nothing else would go right. On the field he was a beast, even if he never got the pimpage from ESPN that others like Witten or Clark or Gonzalez got. Didn’t matter. We, the Redskins fans, knew how awesome he was and how special it was to have him in the burgundy and gold. He was Our Guy.
In Week 7, The Redskins got to face the Carolina Panthers and their rookie quarterback Cam Newton. The Panthers came in with a woeful defense, injuries on their offensive line, and a 1-5 record. The Redskins came in with a banged-up o-line of their own, a quarterback who’s 30 years old and has fewer career starts than the rookie on the other team, and a good defense. Logic dictated that the Redskins could run the ball, their defense could stymie the Panthers, and if they could just get decent production and a lack of turnovers from their quarterback, they could win the game.
The Redskins had their bye last week, which meant they couldn’t lose and I didn’t have to be angsty all day wondering whether they would or not. They even had a chance to grasp sole possession of first place in the East without having to do a damn thing. The prospect was pretty unlikely, however, since the Giants were playing host to the inept Seattle Seahawks and seemed a pretty sure lock to go to 4-1.
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA – ahem, sorry.
Instead, under the Bad-Ass Quarterbacking Duo of 2011 – Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst – the Seahawks became suddenly ept and upset the Giants, thanks to a bunch of turnovers. At the end, though, it looked like the Giants were going to pull it out. They got down to the Seahawk’s 10-yard-line down 5 and were moving the ball with ease. Eli Manning tossed the ball to Hero of the Day, Victor Cruz, who’d snagged a one-handed bobbled pass and turned it into a TD earlier in the game. Cruz bobbled it, started the one-hand grab thing, and then everything fell apart as a Seahawks’ defender grabbed the ball and raced back the other way for the game-sealing touchdown.
Funny thing was, it was the second time I saw that play that day.
In week 4 of the NFL season, the Redskins managed to regain the NFC East lead. Yes, they did it in part by beating the totally terrible Rams in traditionally close fashion. A game they should have won 38-0 was, of course, a nail-biter when Sexy Rexy Unleashed the Dragon but forgot about the middle linebacker yet again. But the defense led by The Human Wrecking Ball Brian Orakpo and They Call Me High-Motor Because I’m White Ryan Kerrigan shut down the Rams offensive display of offensive ineptitude to hold on for the win. So they did their part to regain the division lead.
But it couldn’t have happened without Tony Romo.