What’s so Super?

50 is here, and in this case it’s not so pretty. The 50th Super Bowl will be held in the Bay Area this Sunday amid pomp, ceremony, and controversy. A longtime 49er fan myself, the event stirs mixed feelings. Both of our local teams sucked bilgewater, and the clueless rookie 49er coach was fired five minutes after the losing season ended. I enjoy the game, especially debating the merits of players and games with friends, but there’s always been a dark side to that enjoyment that’s grown darker in the last few years.

The NFL has been grappling with an increase in incidents of player violence – domestic violence in particular – over the past few years. In late 2014, there had been 48 players involved in incidents, with 88 percent receiving no or minimal suspension. At the beginning of the 2015 season, there were 27 active players who had been arrested for domestic violence, DUIs, or other infractions. There’s also a correlation between an increase in domestic violence and games in general, with one study showing across multiple cities following a loss, violence in the home increased 10%.

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The Dreaded Senior Center

Bette Davis famously said, “Old age ain’t for sissies.”

The scariest thing I’ve done this month is to start taking a yoga class at a local Senior Center. After the first class, I couldn’t shake the disquieting feeling that there was something wrong about the whole thing. The room was too dark; the instructor went too fast; other people blocked my view, whine, whine whine. I had only paid for half the sessions and resolved after only one class not to see it through. Forget that the stretching made me feel better, that other returning members graciously lent me their mats and pillows, or that I discovered a beautiful Japanese garden next door. Clearly being there wasn’t for me!

Upon reflection – you know, that part of you that knows better – (Freud called it the Supergo) –the part that says you shouldn’t eat that or you’re going too fast – that part called bs on my lame rationalizations. I didn’t want to go because it was in the Senior Center.

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I am not Scrooge

Everyone loves to hate bankers. Even before WE* ruined the economy and took down a third of our own institutions, bankers were well known as miserly, humorless, unfeeling “covetous, grasping old sinners.” When someone mentions bankers, most people think of Scrooge.

But even before Scrooge, bankers had been treated with disdain or outright prejudice. Jesus threw the money changers out of the temple. In many parts of Europe, Jews were limited to acting as moneylenders, and the discrimination against the job and the religion became intermingled. Edward I (in coordination with the Catholic Church) compelled English the Jewish bankers to lend the crown and church significant sums, and then simply declared the debts to be gifts or else taxed heavily. As the Jews protested, rumors were spread of the faithful performing bloodthirsty rituals and eating babies, and in 1290, the Edict of Expulsion forced all Jews out of England.

Prejudice against the religion has since diminished (though not completely), but prejudice against the function has not. Yet it is a function that plays a key role in society – people do have a need to borrow money and to house it somewhere other than under their mattress. But when bankers are mentioned, everyone thinks Old Man Potter of It’s a Wonderful Life, forgetting that George Bailey (Jimmy Stewart’s character) was a banker, too.

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Attach Seat to Chair

This sentence doesn’t know where it’s going. This sentence feels pretentious. This sentence doesn’t like serifs but knows it’s trapped. This sentence feels lucky but guilty. This sentence is retired.

After wanting to leave Corporate America for more than fifteen years, I feel suddenly overwhelmed that I have done it – the dog that caught the bus—now what? I was ready for it. I was not ready for it.

At one point – before banking – before B-school – I was an English major. And it was assumed that if anyone might produce the Great American Novel in my family, it would be me. I actually wrote a couple of books in my twenties, but they needed a lot of work which I was unwilling to invest at the time. Meanwhile, my spouse found a new lease on life as a writer and gravitated to it full time when our children came along. She started it with a discipline that she developed into a craft and thirty plus books later, there’s no longer any doubt who is the writer in the family. And yet .. and yet.. the urge is still there for me.

So through this blog, I hope to find that voice I might have had – might still have – with no silly excuses about making a living to get in the way. Once each year at Christmas, I have successfully shared insights that people find worth reading. It might not be through the Great American Novel, but when was the last time we read one of those anyway? (That seems like an excellent topic for a future blog, note to self.)

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