Pondering Arena Lanes

The poopsnack that was 2020 has come to an end and according to my horoscope I profited from the, uh, seventh house of Capricorn, and courtesy of several planetary alignments (or something), 2020 was indeed a great year to make friends. Saturn had a transit between (let me see here) the sign of the Goat and Aquarius, and if what the internet and cosmos indicates, this year will be, as the kids say, fire. Or whatever.

With the Farmer’s Almanac saying THIS is the year to grow Rosemary, the Pantone colors of the year being Illuminating (a yellow hue) and Ultimate Gray (it’s just…gray?), you know there’s no better time to be alive. I mean, aside from the pandemic and all that.

Here’s your headlines:

The Illinois winter is well and truly here, which even for as much as my wife and I aren’t big fans, our puppies LOVE snow. They go nuts for the stuff, frolicking and running amok in our little backyard. It continues to blow my mind how much having dogs has changed my life. I so often find myself in moments of quiet reflection while giving them pets and belly rubs, sometimes working myself up to the point of tears wondering how I’d ever be able to go through life without them. Digby, our Shih Tzu, just turned two, and is a sassy, strong-willed little goof who could play forever and is a master of the “no take, only throw” game. Sherman, a Japanese Chin, isn’t even a year old but has developed such an interesting personality. He’s incredibly loving, cuddly, and sweet, if not a little bit rough on the potty training (which is our fault). They bring us great joy and keep our house lively and interesting, especially during the last year or so when it has often felt like a bit of a lifeboat.

Someday in the future I hope we can give them a bit more yard to run around in and stuff. The pups themselves are not gonna get any bigger, but there’s only so many times you can run around the pergola before it gets boring. Right?

The Bears “made the playoffs” and it was the most underwhelming sports experience I’ve had in a long time. I’m well and truly conditioned to endure the Bears being disappointing bags of crap, but something about them wasting everyone’s time by qualifying for the playoffs only served to make me more disgusted. As a cherry on top, they held perhaps the most cringeworthy press conferences in Chicago sports history in subsequent days, doubling down on every wishy-washy sentiment of recent years, sticking by existing mediocrity, and basically opting out of the competitive football business. OK then.

The Blackhawks mercifully got to beat up on the Red Wings for a series, and that felt nice. Lankinen is emerging as the goalie of the present, not that his competition is anything great. There’s a few interesting young guys on the roster that make me optimistic, but there’s not much else to pin your hopes on. The Blackhawks are in a weird state of affairs, and playing teams like the Red Wings, while neat, is likely only polishing something of a turd. We shall see.

I have no other real sports nuggets of interest beyond that I have developed a heavy interest in watching PBA bowling tournaments from the 1990’s. Some of them on YouTube even have the commercials, which is incredible for those who enjoy a good TV time capsule experience. Bowling has a special place in my heart thanks to my late Grandma who many, many times throughout my childhood took me to the local bowling alley (shout-out to Arena Lanes) where my relatives and I would thunk bowling balls against bumpers time and time again in between trips to the arcade.

The bowling alley had a perpetual tang of cigarette smoke, a shiny coffee service cart that offered its own pleasing scent, and a concession stand that served some delicious fares. The ambience of that and all bowling alleys have always been a source of great comfort to me.

I’ve bowled a few times over the years, namely with my Mom’s league almost 10 years ago, which was … an illuminating experience. I would’ve enjoyed it far more if I wasn’t a headcase at the time sorting out my life, and in the end I think I made an ass of myself more than anything. My wife and I went bowling awhile back, and while it was unfortunately more expensive than I would’ve ever predicted, it was just as fun to play and share the silly game with her for an hour or two.

We often talk about our grandparents, namely her grandpa and my grandma, neither of which we’ve respectively met. It almost always leaves us misty-eyed, but I think those moments and stories always leave the impression of somebody who clearly meant so much that there’s no doubt of just how important and loving they were in life.

Anyways, I won $50 playing Jeopardy and used it to buy Fat Tire and some whiskey. Seeya.

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