away on business

So Spencer Hall shut down EDSBS today.

I think I first ran across the site when looking for someone to admit that Vanderbilt got hosed by the refs against Florida in the Swamp in 2005. I don’t know how exactly that worked out, but it was long before the SBNationing. I was there in my office in Cupertino, the one that got bulldozed to build the Spaceship, reading posts with tags like “drunk white women” and “Alabama man he can drink he can bowl he can drink some more” and “my God the Orgeron”. Will Leitch was crafting the glory era of Deadspin, and EDSBS seemed like the perfect rough-and-tumble dive-bar version devoted exclusively to what was still ostensibly my favorite sport.

And then, and then, and then. It’s not unreasonable to say that EDSBS was my principle online social outlet for about six years there for a while. I remember racing home for the national title game, trying to load the comments on my Kindle browser (seriously). I remember it being the place where you’d go to watch the sort of things people watch with Twitter open these days – the Osama bin Laden announcement, the Final Four, all manner of stuff. The Commentariat made up most of my Twitter feed for a long time, and I think many of them still follow my Vanderbilt account. (The personal ones, obviously, were lost in the act of ritual Twittercide when I blew up that account in the dark days of December 2016.)

I haven’t been a regular poster for at least three or four years, maybe more. Certainly not since the end of Brigadoon at Vanderbilt, not with college football becoming ever more intolerable and ever more annoying. My online society has become circumscribed and limited to try to avoid making a bad world worse. But I couldn’t take EDSBS out of my RSS feed, not when I would get things like this or this or this or this.

And of course, there was God’s Away On Business, to this day still the single greatest thing ever written about college football, with the paragraph that hits home more than anything on the internet probably should…

“There is another edit. The one between naivete and cynicism. It is a delicate one. You will first have to accept that this breaks your heart. You will have to accept that this is in some part a scam. You will have to accept that you are bad firewood walking: wooden, a puppet guided by strings pulling you in directions you can’t always understand or accept. You’ll have to accept, in one form or another, that God’s away on business, and you will have to take care of this yourself no matter how long you have to run. You have to accept that the only redemption for the large, cheap machinations of life is the redemption of experience, the only thing you can control…”

I got laid off a couple of weeks ago. It doesn’t take effect until the middle of September, and I have the same job waiting the next day through another employer: doing the same thing, at the same place, for the same salary, with diminished benefits and total compensation and a reduction in stability and security. That’s what life is in 2019, really: first priority has to be holding close to what you have already, because you’re not promised to keep any of it.

Writ large, that paragraph explains why I’m running, trying to use a couch-to-5K program to make cardio a regular thing. That’s why I’ve been seeing the nutritionist for a year and forcing more vegetables into my system and swearing off almost everything over 4.5% ABV except on very special occasions. That’s why I’m sitting alone making ridiculous vocalizations for fifteen minutes every day to try to strengthen my palate enough to put a dent in the apnea. That’s why I’m seeing more assorted health professionals than I’ve ever seen simultaneously, even if I can’t see how it’s going to do any good right away. That’s why I’m trying to force myself through Python and Swift, expanding my skill set ever so slightly. That’s why I set LinkedIn to “casually looking” in hopes that I might catch someone’s eye before I have to.

There are bad things in the world and bad things in my life, and I have no control over most of them. I can’t do much for the health of my loved ones, except try to support them however I can. I can’t change the politics in this country, other than by voting and trying to throw a few shekels where it might do some good. I can’t make Silly Con Valley take a fifty year old seriously as a job candidate, aside from picking my spots and shoring up my weaknesses.

But I’m doing these things anyway, and I’m going to keep doing them, and Spencer explained why.

“The horizon is always hungry for daylight, and takes it ray by ray. Run one way or the other. Stay still and your choice is made for you anyway.”

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