Sometimes I forget why it's better to fly out the night before a California business trip, rather than trying to squeeze the trip into one day. Yesterday reminded me not to squeeze a whole trip into one day. The morning started off well, as I got some progress done on some important work projects. I even posted what a good mood I was in. But it all went downhill from there. I had a lethargy bordering on depression, which can best be described, I suppose, as weariness. I fell asleep at noon and slept most of the afternoon. Then I arose to heat up something from the freezer, only to find we had no bread. The grocery is five minutes from us, so a sensible person would have just gone and got some. But I was in a wretched mood--too weary to put into place any plans to do anything. I had had dreams of fishing, hiking or doing something fun. I earlier checked out the Dallas Chess Club website for a tournament, but they had a "junior" open on. I am a bit old for the under 18 tournaments.
I hate wasted Saturdays. But I was too exhausted. I felt irritable. I played chess on-line, scoring some nice wins, but feeling un-productive. Someone phoned for my wife, who is "on call" to solve any last minute docent problems with her club's home tour, and I could not even remember her cell phone number to give the caller. She doesn't carry it all that often, but still, I felt I should know it by heart. I began to pore through our billing records to try to figure it out.
As I was sinking from the slough of despond into the protected wetlands of self-loathing, the phone rang. A fellow said "I read at the US Chess website about the chess club". Suddenly, the day perked up a bit. I had noticed a few weeks ago that the US Chess Federation website had managed to list my chess club without any
of my contact information on it, which rather defeats the point. I sent them an e mail, and they remedied the problem. A nice fellow now wished to find people who played blitz chess. As my kind weblog readers named my club the North Texas Blitz Hegemony, he understood that this would be a blitz chess club.
Now, this was quite timely, because the yahoo groups folks reminded me just this weekend that I would need to have to actually have members and post messages if I wished to keep my yahoo newsgroup for the club. Previously, my 11 year old nephew and I were the "charter members" of our club. I have a tournament set up in January, but I'm concerned that folks may not attend, since instead of prizes, I am donating the proceeds to charity. But I do want to get this chess club off the ground.
I saw redemption of my day begin through a bit of live chess play. I made arrangements to meet the fellow, named Michael, at the Java and Cha coffee shop in Plano. Michael's a tech writer, like my wife, although like so many of our friends and acquaintances in high tech here, the recession cost him a job. He's a perfectly decent player, although rust meant that I had somewhat the upper hand in most of our games.
He plays the Polish Opening, which is also called, somewhat poetically, the Orang U Tan. We had great fun, and he's interested in helping me get the club off the ground.
On my way to play chess, I passed a place called First Chinese BBQ. I like Asian bbq places, but I thought that it might be a hard sell to get my wife to go, for one reason or another, although she also likes Chinese foods. When I arrived home, though, it turns out that she had just received a recommendation for this same restaurant. We drove over to give it a try, after I noted that Kansas State was slaughtering Oklahoma, which made me feel good, because I had considered OU quite over-rated, and that morning's local paper had trumpeted that OU may be the "best college team ever", which is the sort of hyperbole that gets my hackles up a bit.
Praise from our local paper's jabbering sports guys is like a poison, though, so I should have known OU would lose.
The First Chinese BBQ was filled with folks, most of whom were Chinese-American. While Richardson, two suburbs from us, has many wonderful Chinese places, Chinese in our suburb of Allen and in neighboring Plano can be very predictable, fast-food-like and uninspired. But this place was a marvel. I had a duck rice plate with hot and sour soup, while my wife got a great vegetable surprise with tofu. It was so good to be eating good Chinese food a reasonable drive from our home.
We then went to Coffee Dreams, the local coffee shop, because one of the wait staff there was performing. Carla is a student at the University of North Texas, a state school thirty miles down the road that has made jazz education its personal priority. I like that school, because they encourage students to play dates wherever and whenever they can, in coffee shops, clubs, and what have you. I accept the theory that a performer in training ought to be performing.
Too many manuscripts are in the backs of drawers. Too many guitarists never leave the garage. The money is not what matters--it's getting oneself out there.
Carla and her friends had started a Christmas quartet, and sang carols so lovely that it was kind of like one of those time on television when the background group is so good, and I say 'yeah, right, nobody in some suburban coffee shop really sounds that way', but like so many things I say, I would be wrong.
It's fashionable to be a bit of a curmudgeon about people younger than oneself. During blitz chess at Java and Cha, I found myself amused by a Chinese-American girl in wealthy Plano, where everyone attends school with the goal of getting into Princeton or the University of Texas, trying her best to sound like she was a hip-hop culture maven straight outta Compton. I don't really mind casual obscenity among kids--I grew up in rural Arkansas, after all--but this girl was like a B movie extra from a Charlie Sheen "hot shots" feature parody of a teenager. But Carla, the young twentysomething coffee shop singer, reminded me that people still pursue dreams and live with grace and courtesy (and have firm handshakes, by the way, which always impresses me).
We headed home, and went for a walk in our neighborhood, where some neighbors have put out Christmas lights in a big way. We have not put up "decoration one", as the expression goes. I would like to get battery-operated window candles this year. I do not like the fire hazard nor the expense of elaborate light diaplays outdoors, but I do like a bit of a holiday festive air. Window candles on batteries seem to me a reasonable compromise.
I got a good night's sleep last night, but I am exhausted again this mornuing. I lost game after game of blitz chess on-line, which is a sure sign I'm tired. Sometimes I realize that travel is harder on me at 44 than it was at 25. But I want to exercise more, eat better and treat myself as young and capable. There's no benefit to getting old before my time.
It's funny how small things can send a day to rock bottom, and then cause it to rebound. But that's the way things are sometimes.