Do I Like Sports Now?
On Figuring Shit Out Late and Being My Own Exposure Therapist
On Friday night, our oldest and I went to an AHL game at the nearby arena with some of our neighbors. I’m not a huge sports fan, but it was my idea to go. I’m trying to be more social, especially with people who aren’t writers. Love my writing community, but as I’ve said here before, there’s more to life than books. Hockey tends to be a fun sport to watch, especially in person.
Something I’ve been thinking about, as it relates to sports, is that knowing all the intricacies of a game or being an athlete is not necessary to enjoy a game. Those aspects aren’t even really the point. The point is spending quality time with others—the game is only the backdrop. This may be obvious to some people, but it didn’t become apparent to me until a few years ago when I started going to the bar with the neighborhood dads to watch UFC or boxing.
Our son had an excellent time. Said the game was more fun than he was expecting and that he wanted to go again. He even got a pat on the head from the Texas Stars mascot on our way out. This was, of course, the highlight of the night for him.
For me, I just enjoyed being out and taking in the energy of the space. A community of people excited about the same thing can have a pleasantly intoxicating effect if I just let myself enjoy it.
Going out to the game reminded me of a time when I still lived in Pennsylvania. I was up in my room—probably reading something pretentious like Sarte or watching some Italian horror movie I pirated—when my brother Vince gave me a call. He told me to come to the Roadhouse, which is this dive bar within walking distance of where we used to live. He said the Flyers game was on and they were about to win (I think) the playoffs. I said, “Come on, you know I don’t care about sports.” He said, “You don’t understand, you have to see this.”
I told him I’d be right over, slathered on some deodorant, ran my hand through my hair, and walked out into the night. We lived on this road that had a lot of … let’s say “character.” There were our next-door neighbors, a Baptist couple who had at least a dozen children (mostly adopted) and offered me faith tracts whenever I passed them on one of my walks. There was also a junkyard, complete with a brigade of Rottweilers guarding the barbed wire fence. And then there was the halfway house, a place whose inhabitants more than once mistook our house for theirs. One of them even once sat down in our dining room, poured himself a glass of Merlot, and put his feet up. Yeah, make yourself at home, pal.
The road also had lots of woods along it, which gave the illusion of a rural thoroughfare. So, even though it was technically a residential zone with a 35 MPH speed limit, cars and trucks loved tearing down the pavement at 50, 60, sometimes 70.
That didn’t stop me from walking that night (or many other nights, either to the Roadhouse or the Newportville Inn). I just had to come see this spectacle at the Roadhouse Vince was telling me about. Here’s the thing about Vince: if he tells you something is worth seeing or doing, then chances are it is. Dude knows how to have a good time—sometimes to his detriment.
Anyway, I got to the Roadhouse and the parking lot was packed with cars. After showing the guy at the door my ID, I stepped inside and into a swarm of people. Usually, such a crowded area is not my scene, but my brother was there and alcohol was available and the people there were all happy.
I found Vince, ordered my drink, and proceeded to watch the Flyers demolish the Bruins. More than that, though, I watched the people. Cheering. Hugging. Lifting their drinks. I even got caught up in the excitement, high-fiving and fist-bumping people I never saw before and haven’t seen since.
It was truly life-affirming, much like the Stars game this past Friday night.
I mention all this because I can sometimes be a bit judgmental when it comes to certain situations. I won’t unpack why in this newsletter, except to say that it’s due to a nice cocktail of mental illness and various traumas. But there are times when all the medication and talk therapy in the world can’t replace simply making myself go somewhere or do something out of my comfort zone. Talking myself through it. Essentially finding ways to enjoy myself.
Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t always possible. Sometimes, I just don’t have the energy, or I’ve got too much else on my mind. Or sometimes, the scenario is a genuinely bad scenario (a few come to mind).
What I am saying is I’ve got more control of myself than I sometimes think.
And hey, maybe you do too!
All right, so this newsletter is called Fiction for the Cosmically Disturbed. My books occupy a grimy liminal space where psychological horror, cosmic horror, and extreme horror meet for drinks. Given this, I can understand why subscribers may read this newsletter and wonder why it’s so preoccupied with self-help, family and friends, and mental health matters.
The reason is simple, actually: all the dark shit goes in the books. I’m not a brand, I’m a person. We like to get to know the people who create the art we appreciate. That’s why social media has taken off the way it has. And that’s what this newsletter is for me and my readers. Short of hanging out at a convention, this is the best way to get to know me outside of the books I write.
Speaking of my books, I decided to do a soft launch of my webstore. I need to add more products still, but right now, you can order signed copies of Bladejob, Snow Angels, Saint Sadist, Gods of the Dark Web, and Mania.
Currently Reading: Hidden Prey by John Sandford and Transcendental Mutilation by Ryan Harding.
Currently Watching: Designated Survivor, WWE Royal Rumble 2002, and Dragon Ball.
Currently Playing: RoboQuest
Currently Listening: The latest episode of Make Your Own Damn Podcast.
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