We Suck

As I’m sure you’re aware, the underdog New Orleans Saints won the Super Bowl the other day. They’re probably still partying in NOLA. It was a great game, and a joy to watch, and I’m really happy for those guys, and their city.

I need to hang on to all that happiness and joy right now, because tonight at 9:00 ET, my beloved UNC Tar Heels take to the basketball court against the  hated Duke Blue Devils.

Normally, I’d be getting really psyched for this game. We usually play the spoiled crybaby  prima donnas from Duke and their rat-faced little coach at least two, sometimes three or even four times a season (depending on the tournament brackets), and each game, by virtue of the intense rivalry between the teams, becomes the Biggest Game of the Season.

It’s difficult to explain to outsiders just how intense this rivalry is. It can best be summed up by the title of a book (yes, an entire book)  by Will Blythe about it: “To Hate Like This Is To Be Happy Forever.”

But I’m not foreseeing much happiness tonight. See, the problem is, the Tar Heels SUCK this year. I mean we really, REALLY suck. We’ve lost six of our last seven games. We lost to COLLEGE OF FUCKING CHARLESTON. It wouldn’t be so bad if we hadn’t, you know, WON THE NCAA TOURNAMENT LAST YEAR. I know it’s a rebuilding season, but JESUS, I cannot BELIEVE THESE GUYS…

Oh. Sorry. Was I shouting? I get a little carried away. Our old dog used to get up and leave the room every time he heard the sound of  shoes squeaking on a basketball court on the TV, because he knew that yelling was soon to follow.  It’s kind of a  family tradition.

So, anyway, it’s probable that we’re not going to do all that well against those smug, insufferable pantywaists and their coach with the ridiculous and unpronounceable name. And it’s kinda got me down.

It’s not just me.  UNC Coach Roy Williams, as you might imagine,  is really in the dumps about how poorly our team is doing. In a recent interview, Roy (we call him Roy, ’cause we’re all like family) said : “The way I’m feeling now,  I’m wondering if I’m worth anything, wondering what I’m doing.”

I read that, and I thought, “hey, that sounds familiar.” And I bet it does to you, too, if you’re a writer. You know the feeling I mean. The one you get after getting a rejection that  things suck, they’re never going to get better, that let’s face it, YOU suck, and why do you even try?  It’s even more discouraging if, like a lot of writers, you had some success in the past few years, only to get caught in the recent publishing bloodbaths. Clearly, any success you had was a fluke, an aberration, a mistake. Just admit it and move on, right? There are wonderful opportunities waiting in the ever-growing food-service industry.

But, you know, the team’s had bad times before, most recently in what we call The Dark Years (2000-2003), when Matt Doherty, who was clearly not ready for the stress,  took over.  Doherty managed to not only lead the Heels to their first losing record since 1962 (8 and 20), but also managed to drive away both key players and long time Athletic Department staff by, basically, being a world class jerk.

But we bounced back from that, with a vengeance. Did I mention last year’s NCAA Championship? And that makes it easier to believe we can do it again.

In the mystery world, look to the  example of Charlaine Harris. Her first novel, REAL MURDERS, got nominated for an Agatha. But subsequent books and series did not, as her website delicately puts it, “set the world on fire.” Until she wrote DEAD UNTIL DARK, the first Sookie Stackhouse book. It won the Anthony, and more importantly for Charlaine’s career,  hit the NYT bestseller list, as have the sequels. The Sookie books became a series on HBO, and I hope they’re making Miz  Harris dirty rotten filthy stinking rich, ’cause she’s a nice lady.

So, despite the bleak season,  the Heels lace up their shoes and get out on the court, and we go back to the keyboard. In the meantime, Roy has some more words of wisdom:

“I don’t think there’s any question you need to enjoy the ride and enjoy the journey…If you don’t enjoy the good times, the bad times can just kill you.” Williams said.

Amen, Brother Roy.

And,  in writing as well as in sports,  I always try to remember this classic conversation between two fans of the British football club Arsenal in the original UK version of the movie FEVER PITCH:

Fan 1: What about last season?
Fan 2: What about it?
Fan 1: They were rubbish. They were fucking rubbish.
Fan 2: They weren’t that bad.
Fan 1: They were fucking rubbish last year. And they were fucking rubbish the year before. And I don’t care if they are top of the League, they’ll be fucking rubbish this year, too. And next year. And the year after that. I’m not joking.
Fan 2: I don’t know why you come, Frank. Honest I don’t.
Fan 1: Well, you live in hope, don’t you?

Yeah, Frank, we do. Who knows…it’s the Atlantic Coast Conference. Anything can happen!




30 thoughts on “We Suck

  1. Cornelia Read

    I am in the midst of a giant "I SUCK" session right now. Probably because of the nasty flu I had yesterday, which lingers on but doesn’t quite hurt so much this morning. Feh. I hope your guys win.

  2. Karen in Ohio

    Heh, heh, heh. Isn’t College of Charleston 90% female? Yes, I think it is!

    Frankly, I prefer Charlaine’s other series to the Sookie one. The Grave series is the best, but I can even read Aurora Teagarden more easily than another *^&#@$& vampire series. There’s a trend I wish would get staked in the heart, frankly, although I’m happy for Charlaine.

  3. TerriMolina

    Great segue into the writing. I’m on the perpetual I SUCK roller coaster, but lately it’s a not as bumpy a ride as it usually is.
    I don’t follow basketball (it’s Boring with a capital B) and, I don’t really watch sports on TV because I get way too competitive and crazy when my team is losing—especially the "pros" (dude, you’re a pro, play like one!!). I could probably out-scream your family…though I’d add more than a few colorful metaphors and really scare the dog. hah
    Good luck to your team!

  4. BCB

    My daughter and her friends have Phase 1 tickets to tonight’s game.

    "Mom, we suck so bad. But I have to go. It’s my senior year. And it’s Duke."

  5. Alafair Burke

    "It’s difficult to explain to outsiders just how intense this rivalry is."
    You’ve given this outsider a sense. I’d say "Go Duke" but I’m afraid. Very afraid.

  6. Jake Nantz

    Dusty, this really isn’t so much directed at you personally. Hope you know that. But to all of the arrogant, whine-and-cheese, bandwagon, couldn’t-spell-Chapel-Hill-even-after-reading-this, Walmart, uppity, tag-along, douchebags with the overinflated sense of self who claim to be Carowhina fans (despite their mysterious disappearing acts during the Doherty years), get over yourselves, shitbags.

    Try living with the knowledge that, not too terribly long ago (and yet SO fucking long ago), your school–that you actually attended, unlike most unc-ch fans–had a huge rivalry with Carolina, two national championships hanging in the rafters, and no one had heard from that NewJerseyTransplant school up the road since Vic Bubas (the coach who played his college ball at your school. Then, along comes some jackass who writes a book without fact-checking any of it, and the local media (mostly graduates of said rival’s "school" of journalism…and if you’ve read any of the local papers, you’ll understand that most elementary educators take offense to that place being called a school) blows it way out of proportion, turning unchecked "facts" into gospel.

    So of course, the NCAA sends in an investigator, who actually DOES check the facts, and in the end proclaims he’d proudly send his son to play for the defamed coach who’s taking the brunt of all of this nonsense. So what does the board of trustees at said school do? Fire the guy anyway, because the book has brought bad press.

    Flash forward 20 L-O-N-G years of mediocrity punctuated by an AD who couldn’t hire a decent janitor and the "best years" being the most overrated coach in college basketball managing one Sweet 16 and no championships in 10 years (4 of his total 5 wins against your rival coming against D’OH), and you have an idea what it means to be a State fan, where Dickie V drools all over himself proclaiming unc-ch and Dook the "greatest rivalry in all of college sports" when time wasn’t so far gone that no one around here gave a shit about those royal blue jackasses.

    So for ONE bad year after a fricken National Championship, and you boys in girlie blue are complaining? Cry me a fucking river, you spoiled, pissant little pricks. And for every one of you who talks about Dook fans being uppity, spoiled, bandwagoners…buy a mirror.

  7. Stephen Jay Schwartz

    All I ever had in the way of sports growing up was our local college team the Lobos, which was the football team for the University of New Mexico. Or maybe they were the basketball team. That’s how connected I am to sports. Maybe if I grew up in Chicago, or any place there was a professional team and a sense of community around sports, I might have a different outlook. I’m starting to get into golf a bit, but that’s just because Tiger’s a sex addict. Suddenly the sport seems exciting.

  8. Jeff Abbott

    "They’re probably still partying in NOLA." PROBABLY? Oh, Dusty. It was Dat Tuesday/Lombardi Gras in NOLA yesterday and this will be the biggest Mardi Gras EVER. Nobody’s going to get in trouble during Lent; everyone will be exhausted. Sorry for your team’s troubles, these things are cyclical. Think of how long the Saints were the Aints.Carolina will come back.

  9. Brett Battes

    Oh, Dusty, Dusty…you had me laughing out loud here at my favorite table in my favorite cafe/coffee shop. The looks I got!

    I’d say I feel for you, but you WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP LAST YEAR! I don’t think my college has even MADE the tournament as many times as yours has won it all.

    Good analogy to writing, though. Nice work there. 😉

  10. Pete

    Not entirely related, but with the Olympics approaching, I’m reminded of the fact that Canada is the only nation that’s never won a gold medal while hosting. Now that sucks. BUT now that the games are in Vancouver we’ll be able to finally turn things around. At least I think we will…

  11. JD Rhoades

    Sorry, I keep forgetting Jake’s’ a State fan. It’s easy to forget because Jake can actually spell. And then there’s Sarah…Who knew there were two?

    Alan, good luck with the mixed marriage. It ain’t easy.

    Cornelia, I hope you feel better. We’re passing some sort of crud around our house, too. (And thanks for the good wishes).

  12. Jake Nantz

    Dusty, yes, I can spell most of the time. Unlike the vast majority of "journalists" unc-ch seems to be churning out. Then again, their incompetence and obvious biases have the local paper going down in flames and most of us looking for marshmallows, so I guess it’s a push. How you turned out to be a decent person, a great writer, and a tarhole all at the same time is just a mystery to me, Dusty.

    And for those of you worried about me being grumpy, or not "taking my meds", Roy recently compared losing 6 of the last 7 to WHAT HAPPENED IN HAITI. Said his therapist tried to explain that the earthquake was a catastophe and the losing was just a disappointment, and he replied that it depended what chair you’re sitting in. It’s on WRAL’s website if you don’t believe me. THAT is Carolina arrogance at its finest.

    Go Dook, beat those spolied whiny punks by 50.

  13. pari noskin taichert

    I can’t help with the Tarheels BUT on the wall, just beyond my computer screen — at eye level — I have a piece of paper with an inspirational phrase that became the battle cry at the Master Class I took last October:


    And above that I have: You are responsible for your own career.

    I look at those many, many times every day.

  14. toni mcgee causey

    Oh, Dusty, I am rolling, with tears in my eyes. Though I think we need to coax Jake out of his shyness, ya know? It terrifies me, how repressed that boy is.

    We are still WHODAT-ing over here, still partying. N’awlins will have the best Mardi Gras ever this year.

  15. Jake Nantz

    Don’t worry, someday I’ll climb out of this shell, just you wait.


    Meanwhile, have a few stiff party drinks for those of us who are still waiting our turn for a true championship celebration (people ’round here just didn’t follow me into the Stanley Cup celebration the way they should have, so I’m waiting for something more well-rounded that all can enjoy, like the Panthers winning the Superbowl, or the bombing of the Dean Dome).

  16. Zoë Sharp

    Hi Dusty

    I’d wish your team luck, but I fear more shouting – either from you or from Jake.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that having sometimes extended periods feeling you suck is normal behaviour for a writer. NEVER feeling you suck shows … you probably really DO suck.

    Somebody said to me recently that writers have to endure more knock-backs, knock-downs, and general stinging criticism, in a year, than most people face in a lifetime, and I think that’s probably true. Go and look at the Amazon reviews for books you thought were brilliant, and more often than not you’ll find keyboard heroes who were deeply unimpressed and said so in no uncertain one-star terms.

    Everybody gets raspberries blown at them in this game. That’s just the way it goes. And sometimes you blow raspberries at yourself.

    It’s how you respond to it that makes the difference. So – and Cornelia as well – don’t let the bastards grind you down.


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