The Path of Thorns

Author Archive

I wish you were here, but you’re not here, you’re there. And there doesn’t know how lucky it is.

by on Aug.19, 2009, under human emotions, love

Life feels different when certain people in your life aren’t around.  Not everything has the same feel – the days don’t have the same routine, and it all makes you miss the person more.  Even if it’s just for a brief while.

I haven’t been able to wake up and hear her outside babysitting.  I don’t wake up to the almost-empty coffee pot keeping warm just outside the bedroom.  I don’t hear that pretty laugh, I don’t walk in a room to see her head-over-heels enthralled in her Stephanie Meyer books.  The house doesn’t feel as warm, and many things around the house remind me of her.

It sounds silly – she’s only been gone a short time, and many couples actually get excited about this – but while I’m happy with myself, I’m a whole lot happier in my daily life when I get to see that pretty face on a good day or bad day.  When someone brings that much life and spark into your own, it’s sorely missed when it’s not physically there.

People need personal time, days and nights to themselves, to decompress and gather their thoughts and work on themselves if need be.  Or to just sit and not have to talk or worry about our expressions, or to let a bad mood pass through.

But on a rainy day, or multiple rainy days in a row for that matter, when you’re not working – you wish more than ever that her pillow was back on the bed, her clothes back in the closet and her smile lighting up your day all over again.  It makes you realize how lucky you are and how much that person means to you, and it makes you realize how much loving someone can make you feel that much lonelier when they’re not there for a long time.

I’m a lucky man, and I can’t wait to have my girl home.  I’ll cherish her all the more when she returns.

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The Closer

by on Aug.18, 2009, under baseball

Last night, a Cubs pitcher lost his job.  He wasn’t traded, or released, or even benched.  But he lost his role – a role proudly held by relievers for decades, since its invention by Jerome Holtzman.  He, be it temporarily or permanently, lost his job as the closer.  Many Cub fans want to wring his neck and yet out all their hard feelings on him, and I was one of the many who was incredibly frustrated.  Seeing him give up three runs to a last place team defined a lot of the anguish Cub fans have been going through since the days of Theodore Roosevelt.

But then I remembered – it isn’t like he wanted to do that.  He didn’t want to let his team down and be humiliated.  The cliche players use is that they have to just shrug it off and go out and try again the next day, a new day.  And that would be great if the human mind and heart could be so on and off like that.  Athletes are modern day warriors, out to seek and conquer, and perfect themselves.  I bet that pitcher barely slept last night.  I bet he analyzed what he did, what he threw and how he threw it.  After all, if a warrior went for a kill and his weapon didn’t do the trick, wouldn’t he question it?  He’d be shamed.

Of course, his teammates have to back him up and support him.  You win together, you lose together.  Even if some part of you wants to let every word of annoyance and frustration out at him.  It simply wouldn’t do any good.  It wouldn’t make his ball snap as well as your words would.

The best closers have that one devastating pitch that confuses and baffles hitters.  Sure, every pitcher could use that, but closers need to bring the idea to the batters’ head in the ninth that the game’s already lost.  Closers should drive fear, should have that quirkiness in them that intimidates a batter and leaves them already thinking about the next game.  Where you know you’re cooked before you’re even thrown in the pan.

The Cubs closer that lost his job may get it back; or he may not.  If he finds that pitch that blows the other team away, he’ll get it back.  If he takes the mound like a warrior and looks like he’s in for the kill, he may be able to have intimidation on his side.  He’s had success before, and he will again – he has no choice.  Until then, he’ll have to shake it off and try again, like they always say.

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Baseball does not build character. It reveals it.

by on Aug.13, 2009, under baseball, goodbyes, human emotions, love

For twenty-three seasons, X has been a major league baseball player.  A star for many seasons, always reliable, always professional.  Always came to batting practice early, always doing the extra infield drills, always talking to each coach thoroughly, with the eagerness of a rookie, year after passing year.

That’s what made X such a wonderful player, and such a perfect role model.  It doesn’t take a baseball fan to understand the love he had for his craft, for his brethren, for those that loved him as much as he loved them back.  It’s may be talent that allowed him to work his magic with his glove and his bat, but it took character to turn that into the respect and devotion he’s put into his entire carer.

X was finishing up work on his glove one Spring morning, in the clubhouse.  He always used the same mitt; that same old trusty mitt, that’s caught over 10,000 balls in its lifeline.  X was beckoned into the manager’s office, where the door was shut gently behind him.  X stood up and smiled, and put the mitt inside of his duffle bag.  He knew.

“What’s going on, Mr. Coach?” X asked, knowing the conversation that was about to begin.  Yet still respectful, as always.

“X, I don’t know how to say this, but I’m going to try anyway.  The staff and I just put together the 25-man roster, and I just spoke to (General Manager).  This is killing me…but you didn’t have a good Spring, X.  We both know that.  you hit under .100 and could barely chase any fly balls.  If we kept you on this year, everyone would see it would hurt the team, and neither of us want that.  I know you’ve been on this team since half our lineup was born…you know what I’m saying, X.”

X blinked a few times, and looked down, noddling slowly.  “I know, Mr. Coach.  I lost count of how many hours I ice my shoulders and knees these days.  The desire’s still there, so is the passion…but my body isn’t.  You don’t need to say anything else.  I’ll clean out my locker for the kid and fly back to Chicago.  Thanks for letting me play the Spring out, Mr. Coach.”

The coach smiled, with faint tears forming on the sides of both eyes.  He stood up and shook X’s hand gratefully.  “We could have put you on the 40-man roster and sent you down to the minors, but you looked like you were saying goodbye every day already.  You and I go back a lot of years, X, no one will miss you more than I do.  Thank you…thank you.”  The coach took his hat off, holding it in front of his stomach, and let the tears flow.

X was speechless.  He nodded and smiled, and went to open the office door.  As he did, he looked back one more time.  “It’s been a great run, Mr. Coach.  I’m going to go on the field one more time, if it’s alright, and I’ll be on my way.  Give the new kid my regards.”  The coach humbly nodded and smiled back, and X shut the door.

Getting back to his locker, he went through each memory he had as he packed up.  The first cap he got when he signed his first contract two and a half decades ago, pictures of him friends long since retired or deceased, and a sticker he got on the first day of spring training twenty-three years ago that said “Baseball is your music; sing your finest tune.”  A token from one of the best players of his lifetime.

X’s eyes watered to match his lightly quivering cheeks as he carefully peeled the sticker off the locker and put it outside of the locker door.  “Best of luck, kid” X said as he gathered his things.  He took one last look at the old and small clubhouse, still as can be.  All of the other players went on that old familiar plane right back to the major league city, preparing for the 162 game season ahead.

X walked slowly out of the clubhouse, down the long and low hallway leading to the field.  He walked up to the plate and took out his bat.  Seeing the groundskeeper, also a dear friend, he called out to him “Hey Z, can you do me a favor?”

Z didn’t need to ask what he was doing there, but wasn’t sure what the request was.  An old high school friend of X’s, he felt the goodbyes of the Spring with everyone else.  He shook his head and laughed, and walked over from where he was in the visitors bullpen, where he was fertilizing the grass.

“Yeah X, you old lug, what do you want?”

“Do me a favor and walk over in front of the mound and pitch one like you used to.  Just one.”

“I’m not even going to ask.  Whatever floats your boat, X.”

Z walked up in front of the mound, about fifty feet from home plate.  He picked up a nearby ball and got his grip.  Smiling through his focus, he threw one straight and true in front of X.

X pushed his right foot back, flexed his arms, quickly raised them and swung through his aching bones and muscles.  He flinched in pain as he connected with the ball, and swung through before dropping the bat immediately.  The ball sailed, almost looking as if it was enjoying its moment in the air, before finding its home past the center field fence in the accompanying lawn.

X stood there, with the numb pain lingering throughout his upper body, with his throbbing fingers.  He looked at where the ball landed for what felt like eternity, and looked back at Z, who looked back at him quixotically.

“No worries, Z, just had to do that one more time.  I’ll see you around.”

Without another word, X walked through the field, taking it all in after his self-produced last hurrah, and let himself out through the right field gate.  He didn’t look back that time; he let the hit speak for itself, as he always had before.

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I am ready to meet my Maker. Whether my Maker is prepared for the ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

by on Aug.05, 2009, under death, family, human emotions

I write my best when I write either autobiographically, or when it’s about something I love, but always when it’s without fear.  I have topics in my head I want to go further about – and more of it will include baseball – but I wanted to erase the rest of the fear I have inside me to write without looking back.

I wrote the following piece when I was 16.  I wrote it before I’d forget it, and I’ve never been more grateful of my own writing than I am of this piece.  It’s allowed me to remember what I knew I wouldn’t otherwise.  It’s a personal story, and it’s about the day I died.  It’s not for the faint of heart, but I’m proud of the way I wrote it as a high schooler, and posting it publicly will allow me to prove to myself that writing without fear is a task I really am going to defeat.  Some things have changed – I don’t go to Children’s Memorial Hospital anymore due to lack of insurance, and their desire for me to go to Northwestern when I get a PPO again, and the health of my body has greatly improved, though now I have diabetes.

Nevertheless, the experience changed me more than I ever thought anything could.  And I’m thankful for that.  On this day, I’m not sure I saw Heaven, but I saw something that keeps me agnostic and not atheist.

Enjoy.


I looked at the clock with fearful eyes.  8:30 a.m.  Sitting on the uncomfortable hospital bed, with my mother, father, aunt and maternal grandfather, a moment seemed equivalent to a lifetime, and a time that would determine my future.  The coldness that crept up my back from the open hospital gown upon my shoulders matched with the sheer terror running through my veins.  As I continue to sit and wish that I’d live through the day, my name is called.

I gaze up at the nurse, as the Anesthesiologist and two other nurses take the bed and, as I am slowly wheeled away towards the room of Fate, I wave goodbye with one hand and wipe my tears with the other.  Minutes later, I would be unconscious, unaware of the instruments that would hopefully save my life.  My organs were getting eaten up by clogged toxins and my digestive tract was destroyed.  As a result, my liver is that of a sixty-five year-old alcoholic, and my pancreas, of which only two-thirds exists now, was the worst my surgeon, Dr. Superina, had ever seen, and took out my gall bladder because it was so destroyed.  A piece of my small intestine is now my digestive tract.  My Fate was uncertain and anything would have been amazed, for this has never happened before.

The next day, I gained full consciousness and was laying in a small room with about five other kids and teenagers (I was being taken care of at a children’s hospital downtown) with my family by my side.  I was told how frail and pale I was, and the IV’s and machines in me kept me from comfort along with my weaknesses.  My mother and sister fainted at my poor sight, for it was quite depressing.  I was quickly regaining my strength and got moved out of critical care, and was starting to walk and get my strength back, I probably would have gotten out in a week.

However, Fate had other plans in store for me.  The morning of October 2nd, during the usual 4:00 am X-ray, the X-ray showed that there was a black liquid in my lungs and it was causing me to breathe unevenly.  I was rushed down to intensive care, as the liquid began to come up.  Three emergency nurses shoved a large oxygen mask upon my pale face, and as it went up against the liquid, it got caught halfway in my throat and I could not breathe for about two minutes, when I finally got a rush of strength and shoved the nurses away, as I allowed myself to breathe once again.  Anger and fear overcame me and I caught myself screaming vulgar things at the resident in charge of putting the mask on me, and my father, who was there that night/morning, had no idea and tried to rationalize everything.  After about five minutes, a middle-aged woman who appeared to be a nurse calmed me down and told me to breathe into a smaller, softer mask, and within seconds I was unconscious once again, which, as I found out later, was a drug-induced coma.

Later I was told of everything that happened to me when I was in the coma, though some of the things are now mental blocks because if I was ever to repeat them, both me and the listeners would just be thrown back way too much.  Just to give a few examples, my fever hit a deathly-high 106 degrees, I had a ventilator to do my breathing for me and my body was entirely infiltrated with IV’s, pick lines and other contraptions to keep me going.  From what I have been told, it was like something you’d see in a horrific movie.  Doctors, nurses and residents alike would stand there twenty-four hours a day, in shifts of course, watching me like a stopwatch.  Days would pass, and I would not budge, or get any better at all.  In fact, for weeks I got worse every day without the success of the medical staff.  At one point my only hope was the prayers and thoughts of many throughout the country, awaiting the day where I’d wake up and be a normal teenage kid again.  Fate was cruel throughout that whole month of October.  You hear about such frightening things happening to children and adults everywhere, and you’re just lucky it isn’t you, and you figure it never will be.  The next thing you know, Fate has you on His waiting list.

Those long nights when I was on my deathbed got even longer and colder, and the days, though sunny, did not shine on us.  My entire family flew in from all over, and though it was the first time in many years they were all in the same place, the reason for this was all that was on their minds.  My uncle would hound the doctors and strongly attempt to get answers, the answers no one would ever know.  No one knew what would happen to me, or even if I would live through the hour.  It was a living nightmare for everyone, and the shock of it all evenly matched with the throbbing, hasty beats of their hearts, bleeding for my agony.  God, along with the cruelty of Fate, was all that we could all look to for a miracle.

One day, in the last week of October, that miracle came.  My parents, along with my paternal grandfather and his second wife, were all in my little ICU room, which only had two curtains as walls.  My father and grandfather were reading the paper, my grandma’s second wife was watching TV and my mother was washing my feet.  It was early in the morning, and the sun was out, doing its usual attempts to cheer my family up.  This morning the sun could take the day off and relax, for that morning, I had done more than it ever could have.  I opened my eyes, and slowly, yet fearfully, gazed around the depressing scene around me, unaware of what happened and what was presently going on.  My mom felt the strength begin to surge through me and screamed with delight, and relief at the same time.  Fate lost the fight, and Death was cheated greatly, and looking back on it, it’s amazing my family, especially me, all went through such agony and suffering to be as healthy as I am now.  It’s as if it were one horribly bad dream.

One thing will never leave me, however, and that is the one sight I saw during my coma.  Only for an instant, I remember a light.  It was a bright white light, and I am convinced it was Heaven.  Robert Plant would be let down, there was no stairway . . . there was no direction whatsoever, just a warm white light, it was very comforting and entrancing.  It was as if it were a drug; it was almost irresistible but in a good way, like something you cannot get enough of but a welcoming emotion . . . it’s out of this world, in multiple definitions.  It’s something that I’ll have with me for the rest of my life, and it’s something that changes your whole perspective of life and how you live . . . ever since then I’ve been happier, stronger and friendlier than ever, for now I know how precious life really is.  It’s a story for the ages.

That last week of October, for me because I was then conscious, were the darkest days by far.  Though the morphine numbed the agonizing pain I would otherwise feel, it kept you up all night.  The machines going off, telling you that one other thing is wrong with my already novel-long list of disabilities.  I’d lay there and watch the young residents relax and try to have a good time mingling, despite the deathly ill kids around them.  The residents couldn’t have been above thirty, and they seemed to be very good friends, maybe more.  I remember just blankly gazing at them, with weary eyes, wishing I could be just as alive and happy as them.  They were smiling and looked so colored and healthy, yet at the same time efficiently doing their jobs.  There were those few residents who just wanted to get the job done and go home, but for the most part they were great.  They didn’t talk to me, for they did not want to disturb me, though little did they know I couldn’t get more disturbed.  The ventilator covering my pale, tired face made me unable to talk anyway.

Another amazing this about all of this, was how I was completely in the hands of the doctors, nurses and residents.  Just a couple months before, I was able to walk, talk, breathe and be a normal kid.  I had everything going well for me; a good, well-paying job at the Village Market, a longtime girlfriend I loved dearly, and a group of friends who always knew how to have a good time.  Now, as I slowly looked at myself, I realize all that could be gone forever, and I could give away at any given moment.  Life can take away all your worldly possessions and your God-given abilities in an instant, without being able to do anything about it.  It makes you wonder if you’re next.

As yet another prayer had been answered, I very quickly regained my strength, and floored the doctors once more.  Just days after I woke up from my coma, Dr. Superina ordered my ventilator to be taken off, for I was able to breathe quite well on my own.  That black liquid I had the moment was disappearing just as quickly as it entered my lungs.  I was once again able to slowly feel the life in my arms and legs, and move them from the spots they would be at days at a time.  My voice, my singing voice I cherish so much, was becoming less and less hoarse and got stronger and more powerful with the rest of me.  Straining physical therapy got my blood fueling through my body like the healthy kid I was once destined never to be.  My physical trainer just happened to be a young, beautiful woman with a sweet personality and determination to get me back on my feet, which helped me all the more.

I recall walking in a circle along my entire floor, and getting the cheers from the residents and nurses, which just made my day and made me even tougher.  A day or two later, I’d be walking down to the basement to eat at McDonalds or sit in the cafeteria and talk to everyone I knew, smiling constantly, knowing how blessed I was.  I’d laugh if I saw someone I knew from ICU that would pick their jaw up from off the floor, seeing me walking and talking again.  It made me feel on top of the world, getting that warm feeling of life back in my veins and bones.  Machines and IV’s disappeared, including morphine, and I felt more of a human than a guinea pig.  Like they say, the best things in life aren’t things.

Once November came, the doctors basically said they had no use to keep me anymore, and on the 3rd of the month, I was discharged.  The anticipation and pure glee from knowing I could go home after five long, dark weeks was too much.  My mom and I would chase down doctors and residents so we could get cleared and go home, and the delighted looks on their faces to see me better again gave me the strength to continue fighting to normality again.  It is a life-changing experience to know, and see, dozens of people strive to do all they can for you, and make sure you’re alright.  I got attached to them and vice-versa, and it was hard to say goodbye and the “thank you”‘s I gave could never add up to the caring everyone had for me.

I continue to go to Children’s every couple of months for checkups from everyone, and the responses I get are better and better, for my health continues to progress.  To know that at one time they were working overtime because of me, and now just sitting back and talking to me most of the time, amazes me at how sick I really was, and how well I’m going now.  The relief is more than words, and those days last fall will never leave me.  The affection I received, blended with the white light I felt in my coma and the trauma I saw and felt in ICU, changed me forever.  I am a totally different person nowadays; I’m much happier and more social, my esteem is boosted because the gut I once had from my organs is gone, and people know how strong-willed I really am.  These days are the best I’ve ever had, and may ever have, and I’ll never forget the days where it was all almost over.

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If the King loves music, it is well with the land.

by on Aug.03, 2009, under human emotions, music

I don’t know what will end the human race first; our own greed for power, or our ability to let music be as pathetic as it is today.

Fifty years ago, music didn’t even have the ability to screw up.  Music that was considered garbage back then is held close to the hearts of most of the world; Buddy Holly and Elvis being the best examples of that.  After that, the Beatles, the Byrds, the Stones and the rest of the British invasion, that continued through Black Sabbath and the ultimate band the critics LOVED to hate, Led Zeppelin.  I can’t begin to tell you how many sources I’ve red, those of credible journalists and writers and critics, that called that music garbage, crap and a waste of studio space.  Can you believe that?  Can you believe those same artists that were considered the dregs of American music are heralded as the brilliant young musicians of a generation?

Music today, for the most part, makes you want to scream “IS THIS ALL YOU’VE GOT?!?!?!”  It’s unbelievable.  We have enough people who are celebrities that shouldn’t be – Kim Kardashian, John & Kate, Paris Hilton, to name a few – but there are as many, or more, people in music that don’t deserve what’s usually only given to the very best, the ones who fight tooth and nail to sign the dotted line.  Who?  Lady Gaga.  Jamie Foxx.  Pitbull.  Diddy.  Kanye West.  Lil Wayne.  People who are making millions because their fans don’t know any better.  People who make $80 million a year for talking into  a microphone with music a friend of mine can make in an hour on his Mac.  You’re being fooled, people.

Before there was Amy Winehouse, there was Janis Joplin.  Before there was The Jonas Brothers, there was the Osmonds or the Monkees.  Before there were Fergie and Diddy there was, oh, I don’t know, no one because no one flaunted themselves like buffoons to their level of self-important magnitude.  Kanye West calls himself the ‘King of Pop’ like an idiot – and yes, to give him credit, so did Michael Jackson – but at least Jackson backed it up with a decade’s worth of some of the best pop music in history.  Kanye walks around with sunglasses the size of his forearm, a faux-hawk and I ask myself if he even DOES music.  I can’t name a single song of his, ten years into his career.

My blog’s dealt with human emotion, understanding and trials thus far.  To reflect that, I will not entirely blame the people I’ve named, and those similar to them, for their careers.  They make piss-poor music and troll around like fools because we let them.  If we didn’t want to see these people, they wouldn’t be so well seen.  If we didn’t want them making music, the record companies would have no reason to invest in them.

The purpose of music, the sole purpose, is to better the soul, heal the soul, make us think, make us feel, make use use the words and sounds of music to help us illustrate and explain our hearts and minds.  It’s the universal language, and the only language that doesn’t need its own slang to explain itself.  And that’s where we get fooled.

Life is very serious, and very dark these days.  When you come home, you don’t see sitcoms or comedians working their tails off to make you laugh and breathe  a little bit.  You see overly dramatic mumbo jumbo like ‘Lost’, ‘Heroes’ and the trillion cop shows where you can basically see what the deepest, darkest parts of human action is.  If I want to hear about a woman’s rape, or someone overdosing on heroin, I can turn to most of the major networks.  If I want to laugh, or watch something that’s easier to swallow at the end of a long day, I have to channel surf.

Perhaps its that darkness we let ourselves take in that, combined with how hard so many of us work and how many of us are struggling, we allow garbage music to be played like it is.  So many of us are counting the hours until we get our direct deposits that we don’t listen around us anymore, and we accept how poor music is today – we have enough to worry about, why would we care if Lil Wayne’s sneering with his big platinum teeth like he’s a human trophy?  We’re all living paycheck to paycheck, counting our pennies and not our CD’s.

I’m not saying that all of today’s music is crap, either – Imogen Heap, ADELE, Bon Iver, John Mayer, Ray LaMontagne are all brilliant and well beloved to those that know them.  They’re few of many, however, who don’t rely on charts and big numbers anymore – because they can’t.  Because art is all too hard to find.

However, it’s mind-blowing that those who were successful 20, 3o, 40 years ago are still topping the charts and the venues today – Elton John, Aerosmith, Metallica, The ROLLING STONES are still light years more successful and talented than most anything that’s come since.  It’s like they’re waiting to hand the torch down, with no one there to reach it.  No one’s blowing our minds anymore.  Jim Morrison isn’t here to test our minds, Jerry Garcia isn’t here to teach us all how to relax, and Jimi Hendrix isn’t here to show us just how a show’s supposed to be done.  And if they were, they’d be here to pass the torch too.

Music is doing one thing well that it always has, though; it’s defining our generation where we like it or not.  In a world where we’re all fighting, struggling, letting ourselves be overly sensitive while tapping such small amounts of our own dignity and humanity, music is defining that.  It’s defining it by being as crappy as too many of us feel.

Once we let ourselves heal, and if we ever stand up and let ourselves take in a little more life, music should hopefully be back to the brilliance it can be.  Because right now, music isn’t the work of art it used to be considered to the masses; it’s merely flash-in-the-pan entertainment.  And that’s the darkest aspect of all.

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Life is like a baseball game. When you think a fastball is coming, You gotta be ready to hit the curve.

by on Jul.30, 2009, under baseball, family, friends, human emotions, trade deadline

I write this post in the wee hours of the morning on July 31st, 2009.  For most of us, it’s just another day.  Offices are doing end-of-the-month reporting, people are tearing another page off their calendars, specials are changing at your local restaurant, and Summer’s first half is long gone as the year’s 58.3% gone as well.

For Major League Baseball players, emotions are at some of their highest, as this is one of the most emotional-driven days of their season.  Like Spring Training and the playoffs, this is a pivotal point for many lives and many paths.  Between now and 4:00pm on the east coast, hello’s and goodbye’s will ring more than at any other point in the heart-wrenching, body-killing 162 game season.  Owners, presidents, general managers, scouting directors, agents, and most importantly, the players, will hear the clocks tick, the phones ring, and the stats thrown left and right on a player as if he’s a mere sheet of paper in a hungry pennant race.

A few chosen hotels are standing by, waiting for a call from a team telling them to book a suite for their next piece of their hopeful championship puzzle.  Or for the next select piece in their farm system, where those running up the hill, and over the hill, play for a dream.  Some players know they’ll be gone, some players get a rude awakening, for better or worse for them.  Wives and girlfriends (or boyfriends) are waiting to hear the fate of their husbands and lovers by the hour, by the minute, as Father Time’s finite period for this deadline draws nearer and nearer.  July 31, the non-waiver trading deadline for Major League Baseball.

Agents speak for them, general managers speak of them as pawns in their chess game, because this day is all about what the team needs.  Their needs and moves are life-changing, as the media and the fans chew on the fat of each news story, each twit, each tidbit of new information on a trade.  Whether a player wants to leave, or whether he dreads the notion and daily reminders from the public, dozens of uniformed soldiers report to new personnel in a mass quantity all week, and for 14 more hours.  The nervousness, the anticipation, the excitement, the frustration, all show each true color as they do their best to go about their daily lives.  Or try to, anyway.

To the vast majority of the fans, players are simply components that affect the representation and winning capabilities of their hometown teams.  If they under-produce, most don’t care if they’re dumped just like that.  If they’re expendable, who cares if they’re gone, so long as they fill in a hole in the roster?  Few of us stop to think what that means to the player.  How it determines the rest of his season, his career, and the life of his family is rarely fathomed.

I got a chance to talk about this topic with a former Major League Baseball player.  I did not get a chance to ask his permission to use his name, but I will say he was once a member I valued on my beloved Cubs, and someone who has gone through this very thing.

He mentioned a few things I did not think of – the idea that if you’re performing well and get dealt, you feel secure because there’s a better chance you’ll stay with that team, and find yourself a new home and a new exciting fan-base.  But if you get traded for under-producing, as I mentioned above, you stress more because of the new equation you’re brought into; that is to say, your new role with the team.  You may have been a beloved member of team A, but to team B, you sit on their bench and watch a team you may hardly know play without needing you as much.  I can’t imagine the loneliness, or the uneasiness.  Yes, ballplayers are millionaires these days, who will be financially stable anywhere once they hit this level, but they’re also human beings who may find job relocation following a business lunch or a thirty-second phone conversation.  And all a player can do is wait.

The player I interviewed made another mention – how their children have to say goodbye to their friends, how their wives are left behind to figure out their mandatory new living situation.  Some players who are traded still have several years left under their current contract, and may not see many warm days at their current home again.  New schools, new estate, new ways of life – including a new dreary apartment or shared house to those players still unproven.  Many wives have to say goodbye to the house they made their own with the player they wedded, to the friends they’ve grown attached to, to the happy life they had where they were.  As much as a player is a mere soldier in a battalion, trudging through a million-mile season, they have to be nomadic and well-prepared if they’re to make it through a long and hard career.

For every game that has to be won, a birthday is missed.  For every RBI scored, and anniversary is missed.  For every loss taken, a player’s lover says goodnight to an empty pillow.  These players, these soldiers, these pawns, have a job to do, a talent to use, a unilateral skill to answer to, and each of the thirty teams has a vast game of chess to play without getting a checkmate.  For each piece lost, one step forward needs to be taken.  Each piece on the board needs to be in a certain place in order to win.  Only the chess you and I play have tangible and unfeeling pieces…to thirty front offices right now, they change lifelines.  And business in this old game never feels colder, or more surreal, in the heated Summer than it does today.

New friends are made, old friends hug or shake hands, promises to keep in touch are made briefly, and a bus, or plane, awaits their fate.  The fate of the player, their wives and lovers, their children, their family, their friends.  Bags are hurriedly packed, goodbye kisses are known to be salty with the tears breaking between lips, retrospect is administered, and a fresh new start shows itself as a sharp right turn.  Whether a player is meant to stay with the team for three months or three years, depending on their contract, a new significant chapter must begin.  Even if they wanted to go, they leave a whole life behind them – and maybe a teammate, wife or lover that just doesn’t want to see them go.

While a team trades for a player, they really set the course of lives before them, and all of those they love.  And in a day where baseball is making more than it ever did, with more players than they’ve ever had, with a larger media than ever before, more and more of these lives are changed as more uniforms are created.  As I sit here writing this, I can guarantee a score of our hometown heroes, our team’s lifeblood, is watching the clock right now, wondering what their future holds.  And if they have the same anxiety disorder I do, I couldn’t try to put into words what they’re going through at this moment.

Players can still be dealt after today, but not in a condensed situation like this.  Not like any other point on the battlefield they encounter 162 times in six months.

So to every player right now on the wire, whether they know they’re on it or not, and to very wife and lover of these men, as well as their children, friends and family – there’s at least one fan out there who appreciates what you must be feeling right now, joyful or melancholy as it may be, and I thank you for going through it.  This is the last night of this deadline, so breathe, get up at the same time for practice, and either await Father Time’s pendulum, or completely ignore him.

13 hours left as of the end of this entry.  You can make it.  And whether we fans are watching you go, or watching you enter, we await your fate alongside you, with or without similar feelings.

And if you find yourself in a new city at the end of today, you’ll continue to do your best to make your own fate, and the July 31st trade deadline will be 365 days away once again.

Breathe.


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What I take from my nights, I add to my days.

by on Jul.29, 2009, under human emotions, night

I have no idea why I like the night as much as I do.  I’ve liked it ever since I was very young – I taught myself to read when I was barely older than a toddler, I do most of my real writing at night, and I do the vast amount of my thinking at night.  So that makes sense that I’d enjoy the night, right?  Well, yes and no.

Yes, for the reasons briefly stated above.  Plus, I love the still of the night, the peace and quiet, the tranquility.  I’m born to work late, as this is when I’m my clearest, but will give it up in order to be home with my Tara every night.  That decision I will leave for another post.  But I also love the aspect of night because no one’s judging you.  No one’s interested in the busyness in their lives, or the sharpness of it, for the most part, because many of our lives allow us to only do such things during the day.  Normal business hours.  Hours of operation.  Hours where our minds are bred to give and take parallel to the sun.  I’m the opposite; I get by during the day, and as plans go into the night, I wake up.  It’s like a constant second wind every day; if I stay up long enough, I’m extremely quick, at ease, and focused.  I suppose I join most of the writers of the world that way.  I think any writer who does his best work in the morning either writes light work, or is the wrong side of crazy.

I don’t like the night, because once in awhile, when completely left alone for several hours into the night, my mood changes drastically.  I get moody, or emotional, or vulnerable.  I even get a bit anti-social; if someone were to start engaging with me after I’m left alone in this situation – only once in awhile, mind you – I’d likely be rude and short with them.  In that sense I know if I ever did work late at night – which I would fight to do with everything I’ve got because I want to come home to my Tara – it would have to be a more social job.  If I were a security guard in a lonely office building, or a patrolman, or the like, I’d probably be a grouchy one.  Tonight was one of these nights – the grouchiness actually passed tonight – but it happened for a good few hours.  It’s the biggest negative on my company of the night, but I’m a very self-controlled guy who doesn’t let such moods in all that often.  Just sometimes they manage to slip by now and then.

When I get down and out on those few nights, I always figured it’s because I’m a social creature of habit.  Those who have me as a friend know I cherish and worship you.  Between them and Tara, they’ve filled the hole left my certain family of mine as well as any group ever could.  Yet I need a lot of alone time to keep myself happy and optimistic.  As someone who loves reading people, I get a lot of work out of myself.  But then, we all do; it’s not psychologically or sociologically unintelligent to make such hard work out of ourselves, it’s human nature.  A phenomenon of who we are as people; we’re all so self-centered and caught up in our own twists and turns, that we can hardly read ourselves most of the time.  But I’ll leave that to another post as well.

Few people even know about these once-in-awhile nights where my mood changes heavily – and unless you’ve had a late-night conversation with me where I get to be a pain in the ass, you never would – but this is another case of me opening myself up.  It’s always easier to be the second, third or fourth person to speak up – let me be the first to dissect my inner-psyche for you, and any quirks or habits I come across of myself.  This blog will certainly not be limited to that, but that’s the seed I have planted.

Because the night belongs not only to lovers, but to the erratic, the geniuses, and the writers who don’t know when else to write.

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The family is a haven in a heartless world.

by on Jul.27, 2009, under dad, family, friends, human emotions

This is my first update since being unemployed.  Which is funny, in a way, because of the increased amount of time I’ve had.  Part of it had to do with my trip to Boston and New York, part of it an accidental lack of inspiration.  I wasn’t sure if this site was going to continue to be my breakdown of people’s emotions, or if it would be about an interest of mine – music, baseball, comedy – but I’m starting to get centered again.  This site was getting good hits in its first two entries, so I hope to reignite the little light that was beginning to emerge.

Since I’ve been unemployed, I’ve been getting in touch with a side of me I’m familiar with – and my biggest fear – insecurity.  I’m at an age where people are forming the rest of their lives, or the next chapter in it.  Chapters where they need help lifting off, or doing what they want to, even if that just means emotional or mental support.  Most people get that from their families.  Family is what everyone rightfully puts first – blood runs deeper than anything.  Family gets you through – in the end it’s correct to actually depend on one’s self only – but for most people I’ve come across in my lifetime, few have had to truly be that extreme and be solo.

I see parents who put their kids before anything they do, and would rather die than ever wrong them or endanger them, or hurt them.  Parents who can support you with their wallet, or their home, or their friends, or at the very least, with their hearts and good will.  Those people may not always realize how good they have it to have such supportive parents.

But when you don’t have that, it’s a hole that really never gets filled.  Some say friends are family instead, family you can pick – and I agree with that, as I have many remarkable supportive friends that I’m grateful for every day – but the bond of blood will always have its unique strength that can only be self-filled.  Money is never an issue for loving parents, if they can give it.  If they turn their back on you, or let you down, it hits harder than if anyone else would.  The bonds of friendship, the bonds of confidants, in the end, never truly fills the hole left by a parent who isn’t there for you.

As a result, you overcompensate – maybe appreciating or looking to your friends more than others – or you feel lonely quicker, or less secure.  A lot of times you don’t even feel the hole – not at your busy job, or on a fun night out, and you may not on a plain old bad day either.  But you’re always reminded of that hole when you tread a rockier road, when you need all the stability and support you can get.  When they’re not there, when they can’t help or don’t care to help…it’s never something you really get over.

My mother and sister are amazing people.  A few relatives I’ve drifted apart from incidentally are as well.  Everyone else…leaves me with that gaping hole.  I am that over-compensator.  I am that of someone who needs stability in an unstable, darker world. I miss the father I thought I had, that ended up destroying so much, without looking back.

I’ve been scared to talk about myself so openly, and I debated with myself for weeks as to whether I want to get personal or not.  But I decided to let go and say what I need to say.  I don’t force anyone to know me, or understand me.  But this door’s open for those who are interested.  My blog will be about my thoughts, my ideas, my views, and as it seems, my history too.  I have decided to let go and let you all in, fearlessly.  I’m slowly stripping my walls, and letting this blog reflect the stories inside.

I write from the heart – and to be a good writer, I need to let go.  So here I am.

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Love?

by on Jun.24, 2009, under human emotions, love

Love.

Arguably the most common feeling, or thought, or reasoning, for almost everything in this world.  It’s one of the most open-ended words to define, and certainly one that’s just as misunderstood as it is carefully examined.  It’s a feeling all artists touch on, be it their falling in love, falling out of love, doing something for love, saying something for love, being bitter and rejecting love, dumbing down love, or claiming it doesn’t even exist and that it’s just a fancy way to say infatuation or lust.

I looked up a few definitions of love.  The first one was certainly interesting:

any object of warm affection or devotion; “the theater was her first love”; “he has a passion for cock fighting”; ”

What’s interesting about that was, my first reaction was to laugh at that second example.  A passion…or love…for cock fighting?  Out of all the things you could love and have a passion for?  But that just goes to show how vast love can be taken or felt. 

A ‘first love’, as in the first example, seems to be used when someone first finds their niche, or what they enjoy doing more than anything they have previously.  It’s another interesting way of using the word because you consider love to be mutual, and with some sort of affection shown.  Yet one could counterpoint by arguing that a theater could love the person back, by existing and being there for her to find her talent and excitement within.  By being there as a place of refuge, a place of success.  That goes to show how far love really can go; by being there, you can create love, and hope, and serenity.

I found another interesting definition of love:

“…be enamored or in love with; “She loves her husband deeply” ”

Enamored is essentially the actual feeling of falling in love; the bonding that comes with it.  I will argue that this is most everyone’s utmost demand for love.  We find it, or attempt to find it, in any and all places; a coffee shop, a bar or club, online and through personals, through friends and family, at a party, and just throughout our daily lives. 

People looking for it too hard threaten the possibility of finding a false sense of it, or an incomplete love that leaves us feeling more lonely and/or alone than we did before it occurred.  The world is very tough, considered to be a lifelong fight and struggle to survive and find happiness in our mortality, and we all want someone to fight alongside us in battle.  It is for that reason that many people settle for and accept, and basically expect this lesser love.  As long as SOMEONE’s there, someone who we think knows us and understands us to a degree, most will accept the chronic issues and faults that come along with such a relationship.  It’s why many people bring back into their lives though that cheat, or lie, or steal, or hurt us in many other factions.  We bring them back out of familiarity; because we feel we may not deserve more, or our hearts and minds have become lethargic, but with the underlying reason that we need someone to help us  battle through life, and it may be easier to do so with imperfections than take our whole lives fighting it alone in hopes that perfect love will come along.  A perfect love no longer exists or is even deemed a possibility by many, and it really never was.  To err is to be human, so many unforgivable thoughts and actions are, in fact, forgiven.  And this lesser love continues.

My thought has been, and has matured over the past decade; do I REALLY want to spend the rest of my life with this person?  Would there be cracks in our relationship that would lead to a lesser love?  Can I wake up every morning, see this face, and know I have a good life because of this person?  Do I trust living with them in our home, telling them our deepest thoughts and ideals, and letting down every single teeny tiny wall we have?  Will that person never betray me, never hurt me, never insult the love we’ve created? 

Many have been duped after answering ‘yes’ to all of the above questions – another reason many accept lesser love, or the love of a place, or of our work, or of our friends & family only, with romance as secondary.  If one truly answers ‘yes’ to those questions, and are double-crossed, our hearts break.  That is to say, we feel the deepest hurt and betrayal in the darkest and most hidden part of our selves because of what all we let down for the person, and how much we had led them in.  If an associate hurts you, it’s nowhere near the pain of someone closest to us doing the same.  Humans can be unpredictable, and many question if they ever fully and thoroughly know the one we’re with.  Or the one we want to be with.

To have a non-human ‘first love’, like the previously mentioned theater, is safer for many.  It’s a place, it’s a lifestyle, it’s what you take it to be.  You always know where it is, you make it to be the relationship of your choice.  It’s always there.  If our first love is a self-made painting, it’s safe because it shows the colors of our choice, it’s love we created that exists as long as the painting is loved.  There’s no risk in a painting doing you wrong.

In the end, we all want to come home from the theater, or glance away from our painting, and look around us.  Many don’t mind going home every night alone, waking up alone, cooking alone, and planning their lives out alone.  Many others simply do so with friends and family.  Many have pets to fill something best filled with the love returned of another, whether we admit it or not.  At some point, all of these people who choose alternatives to a perfect love, by default or by choice, will ask themselves who notices.  Who cares what we do?  Who cares how we look?  Who cares what our dreams and thoughts are?  Why bother?

We bother because we all want, in some feeling in some crevice in our hearts and minds, or the pits of or stomachs, during a moment of weakness or self-pity or realization, that perfect love.  Knowing that someone or something can knock you down, and someone’s there to break your fall.  That someone that your heart knows will always be there for you, without doubt or question.  That two people can struggle through a single fight of life means a better chance at success, and a wonderful chance of happiness and safety.  And love.

In the end, our hearts and minds are there in existence to fulfill a promise.  No matter when, or how, or if ever it’s realized or noted, their goals are to fulfill that promise to another pair.  And fall into a perfect love.

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A Stone’s Throw to Uncertainty

by on Jun.18, 2009, under human emotions, the mask

I’ve spent the past few weeks deciding on a topic here.  There’s so much that flows through my mind, so many things I’m passionate about and curious about.  I’ve wanted to balance that to what my readers may enjoy and want to discuss or think about themselves.

In the end, your best bet in beginning your writing career is to only worry about what interests you, and let your mind form your ideas, arguments and compositions along the way.

I begin my blog with a thought I’ve had in my head for a long time.  It’s a very humanistic fault, or strength, or habit – the descriptive word can be among many.  It’s something everyone does – it’s something I do to a point – and it causes many results and effects as a reaction. 

That is, we all put on a mask, to a point.  We all mold ourselves to be accepted and open to a specific point; honest to a specific point; unyielding to relate and give particular information or giveaways about ourselves.  Humans aren’t really all that different; our intelligence, comprehensions and social interactions and reactions are a few of the vast differences humans can have with each other – a lot of our differences can be placed into those few categories. 

So why a mask?  Why don’t we all just accept that we’re the same race, out to persevere, gain a wanted amount of power and enhance our selfish (or unselfish for those we love) ways?  I knew I was right when I told myself to just put words down and go with the flow with this blog – this post can easily be broken down into several, and I may do just that.

For the sake of unilateral thought and conversation (I’ll remind you all I’m severely ADD!), I’ll stick to the more social side of this ‘mask’ we all have. 

Let’s say you’re at work.  Your co-worker is clearly going through something troubling – it could be financial, or work-related, or it could be a heartbreak or bad fight they had with someone.  Either way, you have no idea what it is, and it’s upsetting you as well.  For argument’s sake, we’ll say you’re not very personal with this co-worker.  This co-worker has the ‘mask’ on – one that allows them to still be professional and courteous at work, but you’re the careful observer and you see through the mask to the distress on their facial expressions.

Clearly, the awkward and generally unacceptable thing to do would be to take the co-worker aside for a moment and see what’s wrong, and if you can help.  Such a thing could even get the two of you in trouble at work, and your co-worker would likely be even more upset and uncomfortable.  Yet all you’re doing is try to help.  The common thing to do is to ignore it, even be wary of them, and allow the ‘mask’ to go accepted and to not dare speak of it.

We all want to be consoled in some sense during times like these.  We fight it, we have humanistic semi-artificial reactions like pride and false strength to attempt to keep the fight going, but we all want to be okay.  We all want to be heard.  We all want problems to go away however possible.  Yet we only want it from certain people; people who have known us a long time, or who may know the situation, or people who have helped us before.  Even if that person closer to you may have weaker or even incorrect advice on how to go about the problem, and this co-worker pulling you aside, for all you know, could be the Conficius in your daily life.  99.9% will never, ever open up to you, unless you’ve passed these unmarked doors to their inner selves and their hearts & minds.

The result, of course, is because we’ve all been hurt in the past, or double-crossed, or anxious to open ourselves up.  The ‘mask’ is easier – you isolate the issue to your own head, and you already know your enemies – or at least you think you do.  If you don’t take the ‘mask’ off, this co-worker can’t open you up and tear down your little wall somewhat.  Better off not risking it, you think to yourself.

I’m not advocating the troubled co-worker open up to their associate, nor keep it in.  But we all know this routine, this ‘mask’, that we feel limits the already-existing issue.  Despite the fact that we’re all so much more alike than we’d choose to admit.  Humans can hurt humans if information is given, and at least if we have the ‘mask’ on, the most we do is hurt ourselves.  Which is less severe.  Right?

Maybe.

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