Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Not Writing…

I haven’t been a very good blogger lately. I haven’t been writing much. Actually I should say that I haven’t been finishing anything I write lately. Maybe I should change the title of this post to “Not Finishing My Writing.”

I don’t really know what’s going on in my head right now. My mind has been a jumble for several months now. I seem to have a hard time concentrating on my writing, among other things. Actually I have been writing lots of stuff, I just can’t organize my thoughts so that what I write makes sense. I will write a page full of stuff and when finished I discover that all I did was ramble. So I start rearranging and rewriting and it doesn’t get any better. So I have all these temporary files full of half written or poorly written thoughts and ideas cluttering up my hard drive. This is all very frustrating. There is so much going on in the world, in California, in Ridgecrest and right here in my home that I could be writing about.

Almost as frustrating as not being able to write is that I’m having a hard time reading also. It took me almost a month to read the last paperback book I finished. The one I’m reading now I have been working on for over two weeks. I have spent the last 30 years of my life reading, on average, about 60 books a year. At my current pace I’m lucky to finish a book in a month. I have even slacked off on my blog reading. I find myself scanning blogs now and then, yet I read very little of the content. I just can’t seem to stay interested.

I’m not sure why I’m having this problem. I don’t feel sick. I am tired, but then I’ve been functioning tired for most of my adult life. Getting only 5 or 6 hours of sleep per night has been normal for me since high school. However lately I have been getting less sleep than normal. I just haven’t been sleeping well lately. I’m tired all the time. When I go to bed I usually go to sleep within a couple minutes. Then I either wake up several times during the night, or I toss and turn all night. Even the few nights that I do sleep I wake up feeling like I haven’t been to sleep yet.

My dear wife asks if I have something I’m worrying about. Well yeah, I do. I’m a husband and a father; of course I have things I worry about. I’m concerned about taking care of my family, saving for my children’s educations, doing my job and keeping up with my responsibilities. You know, the same normal stuff everyone worries about.

My job is still pretty stressful. I have been working for this program for almost a year and I am still in the dark about how the whole system works. There is absolutely no training available for new employees and the system is incredibly complex. Management seems to think that if they keep giving a person enough little “keep busy” jobs eventually they will get the hang of the whole thing. I guess my mind doesn’t work that way. I hate making changes to source code for a program that I can’t even run well enough to test some of the changes I’m making. Management doesn’t seem to mind that it is taking me so long to come up to speed, but it really bothers me. Past experience has shown me that while they are being patient with me now, eventually I will run into their unspoken “secret” deadline for when they think I should understand all this stuff. If I don’t then I will be pounding the pavement looking for a new program to work on. I hate not knowing how things work. I hate even more not knowing how long I have to figure it all out – 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months, 2 years, yesterday?

I’m worried about my volleyball teams. I have 16 middle school girls who are counting on me to teach them the game, teach them to be athletes, and make the game fun for them. I really love working with these girls. But it gets stressful. There is so much to pay attention to that I’m afraid that I may miss something and end up letting some of my players down. I made some big changes to my program this year in order to better train my players so that they are ready to play volleyball in high school. I’m worried that I may be pushing some of these kids too hard. I had my second player quit yesterday. Unlike the first one, she says she isn’t quitting because it was too hard. She says she just lost interest. I tried to convince her that she hadn’t even gotten to the fun part of volleyball yet. Our games all start tomorrow. But she was discouraged because she isn’t making faster progress. I tried to explain that her progress for a first time 6th grade player was fine. But she was adamant that this game just wasn’t her thing. Her parents were supporting her decision which was also disturbing. I have gotten used to parents who insisted that their children finish things they start. This year I’ve had two of them who are teaching their kids that it is okay to quit when things get hard. But life, and the volleyball season, goes on and I have 16 other student-athletes who need my attention.

Finally I’m worried about my daughter. She has made the freshman volleyball team and they are trying to work her really hard. But she just doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of how much hard work sports take. Volleyball seems to be very important to her. She talks about playing all the time. In her church group last week she listed one of the most important things in her life as being on the volleyball team. She talks all the time about wanting to play all the way through her high school years and sometimes even talks about playing at the college level. But unfortunately all she does is talk about it. She works hard during practices, most of the time. But off the court she leads as un-athletic a life as she possibly can. She puts out no effort at all during off days to try and improve herself. I have tried every way I can to convince her that she still has a long way to go if she wants to ensure herself a starting spot on the freshman team and improve her chances at making the JV team next year.

My daughter is way behind the other players on the team athletically. Most of her volleyball skills are better than most of the other girls. But she is not as athletic as the rest of the team. She will not believe me when I tell her that the coaches in high school place a much higher priority on athletic ability than volleyball skills. It is a lot easier for them to teach volleyball skills than it is to train athletics. It is also much quicker. They can teach a player to pass or set a ball in a couple weeks. It takes many many months to train a player to be strong, quick or agile.

My daughter still seems to believe that her volleyball skills will make up for her lack of athletic ability. She seems oblivious to the fact that the other girls on the team are rapidly catching up with her skill level. Every practice it just becomes more obvious that she is the slowest moving player on the court. The problem is she wants to be a setter, a position which requires her to be one of the quickest players on the court.

So I worry a lot about her. She is counting on playing this game so much and she has one asset available to her than none of the other players on that team have. She has a coach/father who is willing to watch her practice and watch her play and then help her analyze where her faults are and what she needs to do to fix them. She has made it pretty clear that she is not going to do anything I suggest, or pay any attention to things I say. Even if the words coming out of my mouth are the same thing that the three other coaches at school have told her.

I think I reached my breaking point on Sunday. I had tried several times during the weekend to get her to sit down and watch a couple college games, I had Tivoed, with me. But every time I would hit the slo-mo button to show her an exceptional play, and point out the basic skill that athlete had used to make that play she would just roll her eyes and tune me out. Then after a three day weekend in which my daughter had done nothing physical all weekend, I told her on Sunday night to wear her shoes to her youth group meeting and instead of picking her up I would walk down to get her and we could walk home together. She actually responded back, “Maybe I’ll wear my flip flops so you can’t make me walk home because it will mess my feet up.” I told her to wear her shoes. She wore her flip flops, just to avoid a one mile walk home. I just don’t see how she expects to improve as an athlete when she goes out of her way to avoid putting out even the small amount of effort it takes to walk one mile.
At this point I don’t see that I have much choice but to admit that I failed her as a coach. I wasn’t able to teach her the work ethic needed to be a competitive athlete. She is determined to do this her way and without any help from me. She had made it clear that she doesn’t want my help, my advice, or my interference, which just breaks my heart. I was hoping that volleyball would be the one thing we could share that would keep us connected through her high school years. But all she wants from me is a ride to and from practice and for me agree with her when she blames everyone else on her team for why she isn’t playing well. I can do the first of those things, but not the second. I will take her to her practices and games. I will sit there through them all if she wants me to. But I’m not sure what I’m going to say when she starts blaming her inability to set well on bad passes from her teammates. Right now all I can think of is to quietly mourn her failure as a competitive athlete and my failure as her coach and father for not teaching her better.

I know that as a coach there is always going to be some girls who just aren’t going to “get it.” But why did my first big failure have to be my own daughter?

Those are the big things that seem to be foremost in cluttering up my brain. There are lots of the mundane daily little duties that we all deal with. I have two other kids who need Daddy’s attention, my technology committee duties at the kid’s school, the school’s web site that I’m in charge up needs updating and I’m behind in my regular ‘taking care of business’ paperwork for my Dad and my family, as weel as mowing the grass, fixing things around the house, etc. But no matter how much I do, or how much time I spend, I feel like I’m not getting anything accomplished.

I'm not sure if the events in my life that are worrying me are effecting my ability to write or not. It's not like I have never failed at anything before, or totally screwed things up before. Believe me there have been times in my life where I could have been declared the king of screwing up. But in the past I was always able to concetrate on things like reading and writing inspite of any turmoil surrounding me. If fact writing and more often reading have often been my refuge from my real world problems. But this time is different, and I don't know why. I plan to continue writing every day. If I manage to do so in a manner that makes some sense (unlike this post) I will post it here. I just wanted to let my meager readership know that if I don’t post something everyday it’s not because I’m quitting, I’m just trying to figure out how to keep going.

No comments: