Sunday, May 21, 2017

The Pitch Of Love: A story about family, betrayal, and indoor soccer

The TV was so loud that I could only see, not hear, the phone call that changed my family forever. My dad stood still in the middle of the kitchen, clasping the phone between his chin and shoulder, but as the news sank in, his head began to move back and forth, twisting in such an over-the-top, directionless chaos, that I didn't even notice the phone drop; I blinked, and the chord was just swinging beside him, like deranged pendulum. My dad collapsed to the ground and I ran into the room, meeting him on the cold, hardwood floor. He broke the news to me fast: Hannah, I'm so sorry. You didn't make the soccer team.

My life would never be the same.


I actually did make the soccer team, just not the starting line up, but to my dad, being benched was an even greater sin than being cut. That a Hogan, a family respected for generations as supreme baseball, hockey and rugby players, would be condemned to the bench, was not only an embarrassment, but an egregious insult; an attack on our entire family too terrifying for my dad to accept. So he didn't, and, instead, declined the offer and immediately began plotting his revenge.

Invigorated by spite, my dad did something that had never been done before in the history of Peterborough sports. He formed another all star soccer team; a second, alternative squad, that was in the same league as, and would compete against, the team who had just rejected us. Like Hitler, my dad attempted a coup on the Under 13 Girls Indoor Soccer League, declaring himself the new coach in town and his daughter its captain. His bold seizure of power was poorly received by the original all star team- they were furious-and what should have been a fun loving season of soccer, a way for kids and parents to get through the long winter months, turned into a hellish nightmare of divided loyalties and tween in-fighting. Parent turned against child, child turned against parent. Friendships burned under a fire of bruised egos and Seventeen Magazines.

My team, unaffectionately referred to as the B Team, was comprised of several out of shape, flat footed, and athletically challenged thirteen year old girls. My dad, however, ignored these glaring deficiencies and began every practise with a melodramatic filibuster about being underdogs. I didn't buy into his propaganda because I had a talent for seeing through hubris, since, as a pre-teen, most of the time, I was creating it. In the beginning, I oppressed my disdain for my dad and the spectacle he called coaching, but as the season progressed, we digressed, losing every game. The harder our team fell, the more determined to win my dad became, and his competitive focus was always directly proportional to my rising levels of irritation. We began to argue. The shame of failure weighed on me. The stigma of being related to the man who instigated this civil war taunted me. I sucked, my team sucked, my dad was delusional, and I was in love with Leonardo DiCaprio. There were too many things going.



The playoffs arrived and since the universe enjoyed tormenting me, we were up against the A Team. We came out hard, but at the end of the first half, our team was down by five. According to my dad, we still had a shot, but I disagreed. Just as I had predicted, we were losing, and I wanted the game, the season, and this humiliating chapter of my life to be over. The second half began, but I was going through the motions, so I asked my dad to take me off the field- to bench me- but he refused. Hustle up, Hogan! Push, it Hogan! I don't know what bothered me more, the fact that I wasn't allowed to rest, or that my dad called me by my last name like I was his slave, or worse, his bro.

Annoyed, I did what I always do when things aren't going my way, I played dirty. I tripped, shoved, pushed, and sadistically chopped at the A Teams legs like I was a sous chef on Adderall. I cut a girl off from behind, and was given a yellow card, but despite my reckless behavior, my dad still wouldn't take me out of the game. This enraged me, so I faked a heat stroke, and the game stopped for five minutes. I pretended I couldn't breath, but my dad called my bluff, and hollered at me to keep playing. I should have channeled my anger into the soccer game, but I didn't, and instead, I snapped. In the middle of a play, I stopped running, quit chasing the ball, quite literally, I just gave up. I completely disengaged from the game, ignoring and avoiding the action, and soon my teammates instructed each other to not pass me, their captain, the ball.


When clock ran out, and we officially lost the game, I was satisfied in the way that only an unruly pre-teen can be satisfied, with a mixture of glowing contempt and stubborn resolve. In the car ride home, my dad declared that he would never coach a girls team again, he said that was too hard, that you can't push girls the same way you can push boys. I took things a step further, and banned him from ever attending any of my future soccer games. I exiled him from my athletic life forever and he never participated in the Peterborough Girls Indoor Soccer League again. I'm not sure if it's connected to me being a female, but I agree with my dad, I don't like to be pushed. After all, I am a Hogan- even if I lose, I find a way to win.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Nashville, Now.

I called myself crazy the other day, and my boyfriend tried to convince me I'm not by telling me a story about himself. He told me that when he was a teenager, he always called himself weird. Then his brother-in-law said, Why are you calling yourself weird? You're not weird. Stop saying that. So, my boyfriend stopped calling himself weird and eventually, he stopped feeling weird. In that vein, if I stop calling myself crazy, I won't be crazy anymore. It's an interesting anecdote, full of flaws, but interesting.

I can be myself with my boyfriend but I can't walk all over him, which is a true oxymoron. I always thought that The Taming Of The Shrew was a sexist story; that a woman must yield to a man in order to experience true peace. I suppose that, by modern axioms, submitting to the will of a man is the antithesis of feminism, but I know female activists, full of independence, free from the claws of men, and so many of them are hopped up on antidepressants and drunk most of the time. Sometimes I worry that feminism is the gateway drug to mental illness. I know a lot of house wives are closet alcoholics too, so maybe, life is maddening no matter what brand you follow.



I don't have the answers, so I try to listen to my heart, but it's deaf and dumb, and not very helpful. My boyfriend tells me, I love you, don't worry, everything is going to be great, but I'm so afraid I'm gonna die or he is going to die, or worse, neither one of us is going to be famous. If I'm not successful it's because I wasn't good enough, but if we stay together, and he doesn't make it big, it will be because I weighed him down. These are the thoughts that I think. I don't say them out loud, because that would make me a negative person and no one wants to date a pessimist, except for maybe an optimist, because opposites attract.

I'm viscerally aware that I could be making a terrible decision, throwing away my plans by moving to the south for a guy, yet the longer I'm with him the more I adore him. My heart has trapped me, or my co-dependance, which is the same thing. I spent ten years doing comedy in Canada, working to accomplish enough to move to America, and then I throw it all away so I can watch Family Feud in the arms of man that I met at an open mic. It's foolish, I know. But the idea of being a thirty something actress starting all over in LA, networking, beaching, traffic, woman in comedy, trying so damn hard to be famous, sounds way more depressing. I just wanna live, or so I keep telling myself.



They say you fall in love with what you need, so I needed a recovering alcoholic, Christian from a trailer park. Every room he walks into he shakes peoples hands. It takes him so long to walk through a comedy club, where as I can work an entire weekend with out saying hello to one waitress. If his gas tank fills up before he gets to the amount he paid for, he goes back into the station and gets his money back. When that happens to me, I always just drive off, but he will go in and get that extra ninety cents, every time. It's my money, he says. And I think, you're right. It is you're money.

I was feeling sorry for myself the other day, thinking that my unresolved childhood trauma is the reason I feel unstable. I said to my boyfriend, The accident ruined me. It made me angry. I'm always going to be terrible to deal with because of what happened. And then he said, But didn't you yell at your mom before she got in the car? The accident didn't make you like this, you've always had a temper.  And that should have been the worst thing anyone has ever said to me but because he said it, it was only kind. I'm not a bitch because I'm broken, I'm broken because I'm a bitch. It's an interesting anecdote, full of unfathomable, un-integratable realities, but interesting.





Thursday, May 4, 2017

It's Not An Apology He Wants

My ex said our relationship was toxic.

He took me out for coffee, two years after we broke up, to tell me that. Well, I paid for my own coffee, but it's the thought that counts. I was surprised he reached out to me, because other than when I emailed him to tell him that he might have HPV, we hadn't spoken since we broke up.

We met up, and it was awkward, but I'm a good conversationalist, so it was fine. There was some small talk, but we mostly reminisced on our tumultuous relationship. Always an opportunist, I apologized to him to for being a difficult girlfriend. I was reading a lot of self help books, so I was confident I had the right vernacular to trick him into thinking I'd changed. He assured me not to worry about it, that it was all in the past. He was always a really nice guy, so, not my type.

One time, when we were dating, I told him I was going home for the weekend, but I didn't go home, I locked myself in my apartment and smoked pot for three days. It was a self induced, really weird, super dark, weed coma- I do that sometimes- and since, like I said, it was weird, I didn't invite him. Instead, I lied to him. Thinking I was gone, and wanting to do something sweet for me, he showed up to my apartment. He was dropping off some candies for when I got back into the city, but smelling the weed through the door, he knew I was home and I was officially caught red-handed, or pipe-handed. I let him in, and even though I was high, he was the one who looked messed up. 

We continued to date.



Eventually, we did break up and he politely asked me to not do any stand up jokes about him. I did any way. He immediately deleted me from Facebook and we didn't talk for a long time. Then, one day, as exes tend to do, he suggested we catch up, and I obliged, because I needed some new stand up material.

I found out that he always suspected that I cheated on him, which is not true, I never cheated on him. I thought, wow, this guy thinks I'm a monster, so I put on my best, fake Hannah, and sincerely apologized to him. I'm so sorry. I was terrible to you. You didn't deserve it. Bla bla bla. After two hours, thank God, it was over. We parted ways and he added me back on Facebook. 

I thought it was over. Closure. I was wrong. Two weeks later, he asked me out for coffee again and we had the exact same conversation. Again. I thought we covered everything at the first reunion, but he wasn't done yet. I was running out of things to say to him, so I just kept apologizing. I didn't know what else he wanted from me.

The conversation started to lull, and then out of no where, he said, You were always mean to your dad. You should be nicer to your dad. This gave me pause. I definitely should be nicer to my dad, but I didn't know that he knew that. It hurt. I still think about it. I can't believe I dated someone so heartless.