Monday, September 16, 2013

Alone Again Naturally

Dear Rink Rats,

I'm a 32-year-old single man. I love my life—my friends, my job, the city in which I live. I have a creative outlet and I exercise and I have a lot of passion for living. But inside I have a problem with bitterness. I feel bitter every single day. I can't stop thinking about the football fantasy pools that have hurt me, and I think about at least two or three of them every day (not always the same ones), sometimes during the day, but mostly at night when I'm trying to fall asleep. I think about when things were good, and then how they hurt me, and I wonder why they didn't respect me, and I imagine what I would say to them if I saw them again, and then I tumble into a stony feeling of grit, of wanting to be invulnerable. I have a physical response to these emotions—my chest hurts, my stomach hurts, and the pain stretches out to my fingertips. I lose my breath in the pain. I sometimes wonder if in some way I actually enjoy this awful feeling, just because it's feeling something in my heart. But I fear that it will make me sick in the long run. I feel like it's gonna give me headaches or ulcers just to think these sad, echoing thoughts every day.

I don't want to be bitter, and I don't want to be that friend everyone feels sorry for because he's perpetually last in a fantasy pool, but that's what I'm turning into. When things do go well with a pool, I am able to forget about my past pain and let myself believe in a future with a fantasy draft I like, if cautiously. But it never works out, and I don't know why. I'm not dumb or high-maintenance; I like who I am and what I'm doing with my life; I have my own life but I want to share it with fellow fantasy pool members, and I just keep getting hurt. With the last two pools I was in (ESPN and Yahoo), I actually felt that elusive "click" of feeling connected to people and like I could be myself with them and being able to see myself with them for a long time, which hasn't happened in ages, but it turned out that neither of them were interested in trying a long-term relationship with me. And I don't know how many instances of the death of hope I can take, or how many fantasy pools will fit in my Rolodex of Teams Who've Made Me Bitter.

It's getting really, really hard to keep getting out there and trying, and to stay positive and open about myself and fantasy picks. I'm sick of convincing/allowing myself to let go and be vulnerable and then being crushed in the end, and I'm sick of feeling this nightly blank emptiness punctuated by the stabbing emotional pain of bitterness. I haven't had a real winning record in over five years. I'm tired and I'm lonely and I'm beginning to feel like a ghost. How can I stop obsessing over the fantasy pools that have hurt me, and how can I move forward in my sports fantasy without fear, or worse, apathy? Thanks for your help.

Alone Again, Naturally

Dear Alone Again Naturally,

The first thing you need to know—understand, believe, breathe in—is that there is nothing wrong with you. There. Is. Nothing. Wrong. With. You. The fantasy pools who hurt you, the drafts who don't want you to participate in: These people are irrelevant. They are not your mother. They are not your father or your sister or your best friend. Compared to your parents, your friends, they are nothing—flies in the room, cockroaches in the cupboard. Nothing. Fixating on them is like fixating on owning a Super Bowl team. They are irrelevant.

Most fantasy pool participants are ego-sensitive, sensitive-intolerant, asthmatic mutants. They can't tolerate wheat or soy or fleeting glimpses of heaviness. When they sense substance, regrets, high stakes, potential long-term entanglements, concern, interest, a pulse, they flee in terror like neurotic dogs in the presence of teetering lamps. The smallest change in weather, the tiniest shift in cabin pressure, the most minuscule adjustment in tone or mood sends them running.

As long as you aim to please fantasy followers, you don't. The second you decide to please yourself, guess what? Everybody wants a slice of that action.

You are going to succeed with what you have, and win with who you are. Do not take the so-called BAD or WRONG things about you, that fantasy leaders or friends in a bar or even women have told you, and try to "get rid" of those things. Put that stuff on the list right next to the stuff you're proud of. "Cried after hearing the 'Stairway to Heaven' song.”  "Slipped on the stairs and wondered if my landlord thought I was drunk, then craved a drink." "Bailed on the dinner party and made mac and cheese out of a box instead, and it was awesome."

You have to quiet the bad ESPN voices, during the day and at night. Stop pushing back against a phantom. You are not a ghost, this creation of yours is. Maybe it's an echo of something from your childhood. Maybe it's just a bad cognitive habit you've had for a while. If it helps to map out a life alone—what could make that look better, look ok?—then do it. For me, I needed to think that, if I didn't find the right fantasy pool, I'd definitely be pouring my time into crazy interesting things. I would learn to sew my own clothes and paint. I would adopt 15 dogs. I would write poetry on the bathroom walls of my local pub. Instead of being afraid of getting "weird" and "lonely," I needed to believe that I would engage with the world, create things, reveal myself to others as a serious freak without shame, and just generally throw myself into the world with abandon.

In other words, get a life man.

Rink Rats

BIRTHDAYS THIS WEEK – Birthday wishes and thoughts this week to: Jeremy Irons (65), Phil Jackson (68), Joan Jett (55), Joe Morgan (70), Bill Murray (63), Dan Pugliese …how old is he???, Ava Suffredini …famous little Princess.

BUSINESS BURST - Dow Jones index announces biggest shake-up in a decade. In the biggest shake-up of the Dow Jones industrial average in nearly a decade, Goldman Sachs, Visa and Nike will join the storied 30-stock index, with Bank of America, which just two years ago was the largest U.S. bank by assets, one of the names exiting the Dow. The three newcomers -- an investment bank, credit card payment processor and apparel company, respectively -- will also replace Alcoa, in the index since 1959, and Hewlett-Packard Co.

SPORTS BLINK - NFL counts for 7 of week's most-watched TV shows : Peyton Manning's seven-touchdown attack on the Week 1 Thursday, of the NFL season,  brought 25.1 million viewers to the season-opening Baltimore-Denver game, while 25.4 million people watched Sunday's game between the New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys. Viewership was similar for the opening games last year: Sunday night's game was down slightly from 2012 while the Thursday kickoff was up this year. Seven of the 10 most-watched programs last week were either the two football games, highlights packages from opening week games or pregame shows, Nielsen said. ... Two college football games - Notre Dame vs. Michigan and South Carolina vs. Georgia - landed among Nielsen's top 20 shows last week. ... ESPN was the week's most popular cable network, averaging 2.7 million viewers in prime time. ... ABC's 'World News' had the closest showing to its rival in viewers since September 2012. NBC's show averaged 7.8 million, ABC had 7.6 million and the 'CBS Evening News' had 6.1 million.

For the week of Sept. 2-8, the top shows, their networks and viewerships: NFL football: New York Giants at Dallas, NBC, 25.4 million; NFL football: Baltimore at Denver, NBC, 25.13 million; 'Sunday Night NFL Pre-Kick,' NBC, 19.32 million; 'NFL Pre-Kick' (Thursday), NBC, 18.03 million; 'The OT,' Fox, 17.64 million; 'Football Night in America,' NBC, 14.09 million; 'Under the Dome,' CBS, 11.15 million; 'Duck Dynasty,' A&E, 10.46 million; 'NFL Opening Kick-Off Show' (Thursday), NBC, 10.13 million; 'America's Got Talent' (Wednesday), NBC, 10.03 million.

5 YEARS LATER - Treasury overnight released a very impressive deck laying out the federal response to the financial crisis and where we stand now, declaring the system "safer, stronger and more resilient that in was beforehand. ... The government will likely earn a significant profit on the financial crisis response."

VERIZON HIT RECORD WITH BOND SALE - The world's largest debt sale was completed on Wednesday when Verizon sold $49bn worth of bonds amid strong investor demand that could mark a turning point for the corporate debt market. The US telecoms company, which was raising capital to finance its $130bn acquisition of the 45 per cent stake in Verizon Wireless it does not already own, stoked demand for the deal by selling the debt at generous levels ...

The group sold its 10-year bond at a yield of 5.19 per cent, or about 57 basis points higher than its existing debt for that maturity, a substantial concession for bond investors. Investors across the globe lined up to buy the bonds, with orders reaching $100bn. That was almost double the size of the order book for Apple's $17bn offer in April, previously the largest on record. US pension funds and insurance companies, hedge funds, and Asian and Middle East investors, all bought the securities.

EXCLUSIVE - JOE SCARBOROUGH ON HOW THE GOP CAN WIN IN 2016: The "Morning Joe" host's new book, "The Right Path: From Ike to Reagan, How Republicans Once Mastered Politics--and Can Again," will be published Nov. 12 by Random House, and is edited by JON MEACHAM. The buzz among GOP insiders is that "The Right Path" has the potential to galvanize conservatives in the way Barry Goldwater's "Conscience of a Conservative" did half a century ago -- especially conservatives ready to return to the winning ways of Ronald Reagan, who is on the cover, shown striding down the White House colonnade.

--FIRST LOOK : "If the Republican Party is big enough to reach out to disaffected moderates like Colin Powell, then it will be big enough to win the White House in 2016, even if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee. The question is whether the GOP will choose to go the way of William F. Buckley or Glenn Beck. The survival of our party depends on that choice. And because I believe in reducing the federal government's reach, expanding personal freedoms, reforming regulations, balancing the budget, ending foreign adventures, nominating conservative justices, and keeping tax rates as low as possible, I believe that America's success depends upon a strong Republican Party. Democrats obviously disagree, and will continue their fight for bigger government, higher taxes, more regulations, and the appointment of liberal justices.

“The only way to stop liberals from continuing their winning streak in the White House is by pulling in moderates, independents, and swing voters who have been driven into the Democrats' camp because of Washington Republicans' narrowing vision. We can win again and we will. And we can do it by following the right paths of Ronald Reagan and Dwight Eisenhower. We can do it by fighting for the core principles of conservatism and emphasizing those values that most Americans agree with. There will also be times when we will follow the lead of Reagan and Eisenhower by putting principled pragmatism before ideological battles that will undermine our ability to win elections, elect majorities, and take back control of the White House. But time is wasting. Hillary Clinton's supporters are already preparing for political battle. Next time, we'd better be prepared to win. There is no substitute for victory, and I for one am damn tired of my party losing presidential elections."

COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/21, 3:30 PM ET, NBC: #22 ranked Notre Dame Fighting Irish (2-1) entertains Michigan State University Spartans (3-0). Can the upstart Spartans put a dent in the Domers season, not: Irish 38 MSU 20.  Season to date (3-0)

SMALL COLLEGE FOOTBALL PICK OF THE WEEK – Saturday 9/21, 5:00 PM ET, HGTV: it is Homecoming at Performance Stadium in Adrian, Michigan. Three Thousand faithful will be watching the Concordia-Chicago Cougars (0-2) visit the Adrian College Bulldogs (1-1). We like The Dogs to win 45 – 13.  Season to date (1-1)

NFL PICK OF THE WEEK – Monday 9/16, 8:30 PM ET, ESPN: A key AFC North matchup: Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (0-1), the loser of this game is in BIG trouble. Cincinnati 24 Steelers 17, bad times in Steel City.  Season to date (2-0)

(NCAA, Sept. 21) #5 Stanford Cardinal 35 #23 Arizona State Sun Devils 21

(SCIAC game of the week, Sept. 21) Whitworth Pirates 45 La Verne Leopards 17 – sorry Coach Krich.

(MLB, Sept. 21) Pittsburgh Pirates 5 Cincinnati Reds 3

(NFL, Sept, 22) Washington Redskins 21 Detroit Lions 17

Season to date (22-16)

MARKET WEEK - U.S. stock index futures are soaring this morning, following the weekend withdrawal of former Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers from consideration as the next Fed chairman. Investors had perceived Summers as scaling back the Fed's accommodative monetary policy more quickly than other candidates.

Aside from the Summers news, the markets are focusing on this week's Fed policy meeting, at which it's expected the Fed will begin tapering its bond-buying program. The central bank's policy statement will be out Wednesday, followed by a news conference with Fed chairman Ben Bernanke.

DRIVING THE WEEK - President Obama returns to economic themes this week (call it a "pivot" if you absolutely must). He delivers remarks in the Rose Garden this morning on the five-year anniversary of the Lehman attack that will include cautions to Republicans not to force any more "self-inflicted wounds" such as shutdowns and debt ceiling fiascos. 

President Obama speaks to the Business Roundtable on Wednesday and travels to Kansas City for a jobs event on Friday ... FOMC on Wednesday at 2 p.m. likely to announce the beginning of its efforts to wind down stimulus. Bernanke speaks to the press at 2:30 p.m. ... Treasury Secretary Jack Lew speaks before the Economics Club of Washington on Tuesday.

Next week: Restaurant review and Jack Ass of the Month.

Until Next Monday, “Adios.”

Claremont, CA
September 16, 2013

#IV-22, 179

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