Thursday, June 19, 2008


I'm having some withdrawal pangs now that the NBA Finals are over. Who knew I would get so sucked in? I was genuinely happy that the better, more likable team won. Sometimes, justice prevails.

Anyhow, I'm in a rut. I'm exhausted with Campaign 2008 after the grueling, debilitatingly long primaries, my soccer teams are on their early summer hiatus, my tenor saxophone is being repaired, my Japanese classes are over for the summer, I have film in my camera that needs to be developed, our gutters have been taken down while we wait for the painters to come by next week, and I'm 33 for just a few months more.

I was excited about the fruit trees we recently planted in the backyard, but it'll take years for those to bear fruit. It's nice to go out and water them twice a week. It makes me feel quiet and contemplative, like a man with modest needs that are easily fulfilled. Not that that's necessarily true, but that's how I feel, temporarily, as I'm standing there watering the trees.

Last night, Mrs. Octopus had dinner with friends and came home a bit later than usual. I got home earlier than I normally do. I went out to the Eagle Rock Recreation Center and played a couple games of pick-up basketball. I was pretty awful in the first game: my game is limited to ungainly, reckless drives to the basket (think of a novice trying to end a chess game against his computer very quickly), but I was getting stripped and/or running into two or three big guys before I could get my shot off. A major problem for me is that I don't like to call fouls in pick-up, so even though I am often getting hammered, there's nothing I can do about it. The thing in pick-up is to be able to hold onto the ball and score even as your opponents are trying to put you into a headlock. You don't want to be the jerk who's calling fouls everytime he misses a shot. I mean you could, and the universal code of pick-up would require that the other side respect your call, but you would be racking up serious bad pick-up basketball karma.

Anyway, in a later game, I was playing five-on-five and one of my teammates was this kid who must've been like thirteen or fourteen, but he was a baller. He was throwing Chris Paul-type passes, exposing the defense, creating ridiculous opportunities for his teammates -- all of this eliciting vocal appreciation from the lanky high school kids checking their text messages and smoking cigarettes on the sidelines while they waited for the next game. The kid also had an outside shot, which opened up the defense a bit for me, and allowed me to do my crazy head-down, charging at the basket to better results.

It was about eight o'clock or so during my last game. The sun had set, and it was getting dark, and we were still out there on the outdoor Eagle Rock court, pre-teens, older dudes who were like fifty, and one guy staring at oncoming middle-age, all working on our games. Walking back to my car alone in the gathering dark after the game, I was filled with a sense of listlessness and emptiness.

I got home, and Mrs. Octopus still wasn't back. I walked around the house. I turned the TV on, watched some baseball highlights, and then turned the TV off. I drank some water. I checked my email. I read a chapter in a book about the history of India. I thought about playing my alto saxophone. I thought about doing some Vietnamese homework. I tried to think if there was anyone I could call -- but I had nothing to say. I felt, mostly, fine, but a little bored with myself.

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