Tuesday, March 06, 2012

D***

My 2011 can be quickly summed up with a four letter word that starts with a “D”. While some of you automatically slid into the proverbial gutter……others of you took another route and I am here to inform you, you are both wrong. I would ask you to kindly remember I have a no penis joke policy here. If I can’t make them, then no one can. And, if that was the first thought you had when you read your crossword clue, well.. You have a harder task than I do. I only have to get through this blog without crying


I've been meaning to write you all for some time. In fact, I've started this blog many times in the past year, only to find I get choked up and can't bring myself to finish it. Again, if you're still associating everything I say with the previously assumed word, then you find my writing extra hilarious. In which case, I'm glad one of us does. But for me, it’s something I've been hurting over for quite some time.

You see, that four letter word.. is Drew.


I don't know if you have ever experienced death, but it’s one of the greatest losses one can suffer while still walking this earth. And people sit around and tell themselves that the person that has passed is now at peace, and everything will eventually settle into some "new" normal. I'm here to tell those people to politely "kiss my grits" and give them a courteous middle finger.



In my 28 years on this planet, I've had very limited experiences with death. I lost a few friends to reckless driving and bullying as a teenager, and my grandfather to a second bout of lung cancer that eventually spread to his brain and then took hold of his spirit. Of those, my grandfather obviously left the biggest wound, because he and my grandmother are such a big reason I am the person I am today. But with older people, especially those who have battled illness for quite some time like my grandfather, you morbidly expect them to at some point... die. It’s just something we are taught. I remember reading E.B. White's Charlotte’s Web, and the teacher trying to explain how the book was so poignant and how the ending *spoiler alert,* where Wilbur's spider friend dies, was indeed a "happy one", to a bunch of six and seven year olds. To this day, I still think she's full of crap. I remember watching Bambi, and not being able to get over the feelings of reckless abandonment the wonderful people at Disney had left my five year old self with. (As you can tell, I was a bit of an advanced thinker for my age.) My parents tried to explain this concept to me even further, with each passing of a pet, most ending up in a towel or a high top Reebok shoebox, and subsequently in a make shift pet cemetery in our backyard. Having seen Lion King, I figured this was merely my dad’s way of making sure I saw my furry friends deaths were not in vain, and also doubled as a really effective fertilizer. And before you ask, No. Sterger is not Jewish.

But still, I don't think you really come to understand the permanence of death, until it’s someone very close to you. And very sudden and totally unexpected.


While the rest of the world was sleeping during the wee hours of Jan 12, 2011, I was watching St. Elmo's Fire and the 14 inches of snow New York City was being pelted by, wondering when it would stop. (The snow, not the movie.) Though some would argue, sitting through either one of them is painful. Being a fan of everything made in the 80s, including myself, I texted the only person I knew would be up at that time of night, and asked him "When would this snow effin stop?" On any other occasion, Drew in his usual wit would respond in some snarky Al Roker reference, laugh politely at my retort, and wish me back to sweet dreams. Only this time, there was no answer.

It continued to snow the whole next morning, and into the early evening hours. I had sent off numerous texts throughout my day, generally about nonsensical things, but that was the nature of our relationship. We lived to make each other laugh and happy. And somehow even with thousands of miles between us, we managed to stay best friends.


But as the evening hours fell into night, I sensed something was wrong. My texts, my emails, even my phone calls had gone unanswered. I've often been told I worry too much about things. Very stupid things. And more times than not, I tend to agree. Not this time. This man was my best friend, and it wasn't like him to go more than a few hours without talking to me. By six o clock, I had reached for the panic button. With every email, every phone call, every text message going unanswered, I sent off one last email before I called the police.


"If you're mad at me, if there's something I’ve done... I don't care. I just want to know you're ok."


Send.


Nothing.


Just... Nothing. I’ll spare you the details of that night, only because most are too painful for me to write down. But after countless hours of phone calls, inquiries, and waiting I was informed that sometime, during the early hours of my brat pack marathon... I had lost Drew.

I live in a city that is so overpopulated you can't drive down the street without trading paint with someone. Where they can charge you a small fortune for you to live in a room the size of a portapotty, and you're one of the lucky ones if it doesn't smell like it. It’s the type of city that if you're not ready for it, it will chew you up and spit you out like an America’s next top model contestant at a Cici's All-you-can-eat dinner buffet. And she doesn't try to sympathize with you. Nope. New York City is a cold hearted bitch. And at times, I've wanted to quit her, but whenever I got those feelings, Drew was always there to pull me off the metaphorical and sometimes literal bridge.


Drew and I met in Spring of 2006. "Cowgirl fever" was still in full force at FSU, as my magazines were just hitting the local newsstands, and I was trying my hardest to concentrate on my studies. My true love, college football, was MIA til the Spring game, and even then it was more like Groundhogs Day: Football popped its head up from the turf, said... 4 more months without me…and Goodbye. Tease. But one day, in a heated message board discussion regarding my boredom with baseball, the board’s moderator presented me with an enticing offer.

"Come and watch an FSU baseball game with the Animals of Section B. We will change your mind."


So the following week, when we were scheduled to play Florida, I was introduced to “O Canada”, Shannon’s red stuff, Fluffy’s loud and overly drawn out Kkkkkkk time, and Dominic’s Noles cheer. And they all openly welcomed and accepted me as one of their own. Because Drew did. And like that, my new-found appreciation for baseball was born.


A lot of people will never fully understand my relationship with the man. To outsiders, we were an odder couple than Dennis Rodman and well… anyone who has dated Dennis Rodman. But, we didn't care. We taught each other so many important things in life.


A lot of people have been quick to judge me these past five years, but not Drew. The man saw me for who I was, a little girl with big dreams and a knack for just wanting to entertain people. Whenever people would attack me personally, Drew was one of the first to defend me. Whenever a boy would break my heart, he was the first paramedic on the scene. Whenever something amazing happened in my life, Drew was one of the first to know it. We shared so much of our lives with one another. My wins were his wins; my loss was his loss...


Most people’s internal compasses point north. But mine points south. South… to a place, where for me, times were simpler. You see, I’ve traveled all over this country the past few years, all because of a small twist of fate. And no matter where I was, I never felt alone. That's because I had Drew. With him I was never lost. That's also because Drew was, more often than not giving me directions to somewhere! Hell, he and I joked that he probably knew the city better than I did since he had virtually walked so many blocks via Google Maps on the phone with me. And while most would feel a bit claustrophobic, I always seemed to feel alone. But not with Drew. He’d walk countless city blocks with me, at all hours of the day and night. And while some people may find this a bit odd, we didn't in the least. Because no matter the time, or place, we always were there to share our lives with one another. Even from thousands of miles away. I took him to faraway places with me. He brought me to a place that felt like home!


One of the first times I hung out in Hollywood, I was at a meeting with this director. We were at a Starbucks discussing a film he was working on when his phone went off. I asked what he was grinning at -- and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t a baseball game recap from Drew. He didn't know that I knew Drew personally, and I was soon to tell him, but he told me how those emails always made him smile. Like me, he lived 3,000 miles and a world away from Tallahassee, but every time he read about what was going on at Dick Howser, part of him was 12 years-old again. The part that was still a kid, sharing sunny spring days with his dad and not knowing how desperately he'd cherish those lazy Sunday afternoons and wished he'd appreciated them more before his father finally succumbed to his battle with cancer. Drew gave that to him. His emails brought him back to Howser. To a time and a place that's long since passed, but is so deeply engrained in his soul that it is encoded into his DNA. Drew’s gift was one that no one could put a price tag on. But what Drew did brought this joy to countless Noles.


Since the night Drew passed on, I've only written a few things. None were as difficult as this, except for maybe his eulogy. And as much as part of me wanted to just do that on the fly, I knew the rest of me wouldn't be able to muster through it without bursting into tears. For the record, I made it further than I thought I would. The reason none of my writing has been posted however, is that Drew was the only person I trusted with my unfiltered thoughts. An interweb sieve, if you will, of the right mix of edgy yet politically correctness. (I think that's a real word, if not, just pretend it is for the sake of this blog.) A lot of people, even those I trust with the raw format of me, cringe at the way I express myself sometimes. It’s because I'm brutally honest to a fault. After all, I am the reigning champion of the “Says what everyone else in the room is thinking but doesn’t have the balls to say award.” For me, the cathartic part of the writing process isn't the writing, it’s the posting and responses I get from the people who actually take the time to read it and empathize. So for the past year, that process has felt like a relatively empty transaction for me.


Until now…..

I know what you're thinking.." A year plus of silence and blank pages from this girl.. And THIS is the shit I get to read??" I know, I know. I've given you nuggets of goodness and hopefully a few laughs via twitter and other sources, but this is the heart of my internet presence, where you find out who I really am. And much like the pages of my blog, the events of 2010 and beginning of 2011 left me in what I would term... Survival mode. I was merely fighting to stay afloat. Suffice to say, the rest of 2011 is a bit of a blur. I don't really know where it went or what I did, though I'm sure I will unravel some of it here in these next few blogs. But this is where I had to start. It's a story I needed to write down for my own selfish reasons. So I could write again, so I could live again. So I could one day look back on my friendship with this man and not see it as something stolen from me but something that made me stronger and a much better person. Someone doesn't become such a huge part of your life and just vanish like this ... And have it not absolutely destroy you to the core.



You can look back on your life and stare at your hardships and wonder, Why? Why did this happen?? And often times, the answers don't necessarily present themselves the way we'd hope they would. I'm still trying to figure out why this happened. I think a lot of people are. I think it’s best to accept that we may never know WHY it happened, only that it did. It’s taken me months to grasp this. Losing Drew was one of the hardest things I have ever had to deal with on my journey through life. But having him IN my life was more rewarding than anyone could imagine. He was what I would call a "lifechanger." He's one of the few people I can honestly say made me a better me, who saw me not as a girl in a sparkly bra and cowboy hat, but as a fellow band nerd and best friend.


I've gone through the whole range of emotions one is supposed to experience when dealing with death. Well, all except acceptance. It’s hard to think he won't be there at the end of that text message, that phone call, that email. And for that very reason I can't bring myself to delete him from my phone or Google chat. Because that would mean he is truly gone. It pains me to think that FSU baseball's greatest ambassador won't be rooting on our Noles every season as they take the mound. And worse yet.. He wasn't around to see me make it out the other side of the terrible rabbit hole that 2010 sent me down.

I guess it really hit me while I was sitting in another random airport one night, ALONE. Except this time I was really alone. With no one to call at that crazy hour of the night, I instead picked up my blackberry and started typing this…..


Of course when I got to the end, I instinctively hit send.. Only to realize I had sent it to Drew.

Which makes me wonder? Do you think they get Gmail in heaven? My guess is with Drew there, they most certainly will now. And if it could make it through the clouds, I know he’d write me back just to tell me how amazing it is. He's up there right now looking down on all of us. Maybe a tad flattered, a little embarrassed, and so grateful to have touched so many lives in his 37 years in this world. So now when the marching chiefs take the field, he will make sure their formations are straight. He was always a stickler about that. When the Animals demand to "take some guy out of this ball game," there will be a faint echo that returns back to them. Because no one was a bigger sports fan than Drew. And now, he really does have the best seat in the house. And in our hearts.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Tap...Tap...Is this thing still on??


Well, glad that’s over. ..

Where do I even start?

For those of you who have come back to this blog time and time again in the past year, waiting for an update.. Well, the time has come. 

Wanted to make sure, before I got back to my regularly scheduled programming, that I get to share with you the awesome stuff I’ve been doing over at Spike TV and for Fox’s The Daily. And just in case you don’t have Twitter or Facebook, or in the event you have a real life (unlike me at times) here’s some links for your viewing pleasure:


Jenn's Spike TV "Spare Time" episodes

For those of you who are new to this space of mine, welcome!  You’re officially part of the gang. I can’t promise you my grammar will always be correct. And most likely my spelling will be horrendous. But I assure you, every word written on this blog is heartfelt, deliberate… and brutally honest. So if you’ve come here to spread hate or troll, be gone!.. or someone will drop a house on you! However, if you’re poking around here out of curiosity or you landed here on accident thanks to Google images… well, hopefully you will stick around. Because as I like to say … “$h!t is about to ‘get real.’”

Friday, August 27, 2010

Notes on life

Sometimes I forget that people actually read this stuff. No, make that.. most times I do. Because I've never had to write for anyone but random English teachers or college lit. professors. They'd simply skim the surface; check my grammar, punctuation, spelling, sentence structure... And give me some subjective grade and send me on my way. The paper? Never to be seen again. And the grade? Well, believe me, after the cowgirl thing began at Florida State, and it became harder for me to blend in, the grades got extremely subjective.

But one English teacher stands out in my mind. He was a tiny little man, with fiery red hair and beady little eyes that narrowed at me from behind his frameless glasses that told me "Don't ever do anything that involves writing. Ever. You're terrible at it." Harsh words to say to the youth of America that looks to their teachers for inspiration. Then again, most are getting paid duckets for a thankless job that helps so many.

Believe me when I say, I took that man’s words to heart.

In high school, I went through an identity crisis. I spent so much time questioning my life and was so ridden with teen angst that I would’ve made most John Hughes’ movie plots look like child’s play.
Every few days it seemed I would find myself sitting in front of my guidance counselor, Mr. Peak, questioning why kids were so cruel, or why I had to deal with the hardships I faced. To anyone else outside his office, I probably looked like some overly pretentious spoiled brat, looking for a way to "legally" ditch class. But in all actuality, I was learning lessons about life you can't get from reading books or writing perfectly assembled five paragraph essays.

In our sessions, I shared with Mr. Peak the things I was scared to share even with my closest of friends. Like the extreme sadness I experienced watching my grandfather slowly slip away from us before our very eyes. Like the fact that someone took a baseball bat to my car just weeks after I had broken up with a guy on the baseball team… random right? Or like .. Well, there are certain parts of my life I can never bare for anyone to read. But for the few people that will read this, and instinctively know.. Yeah, that messed me up pretty bad too.

But the one thing Mr. Peak always understood about me was my love and passion for music. No matter how big life’s problems got, I always had my music. It was what got me through the other five grueling classes of the day. I knew come 6th period I would be among people that "understood me" and loved to create something as much as I did. I may not have been the best at it, but I poured my heart and soul into it. The 6th period wind ensemble, 7th period "showcase" or as most people in pop culture these days have come to address it.. "Glee." I belonged to the live band that accompanied them, but it wasn't from lack of vocal talent. I just preferred to play piano; after all, it was my one true love. Even on the really crappy days, where I bombed that AP physics exam or when the mean girls convinced my prom date "not to go to the dance with me or they wouldn't be his friend anymore"...I always had my music and it never broke my heart. In fact, I poured myself into variations of song. That is until the end of my senior year.

It was just a mere two weeks or so until our senior day, which I can only describe as a half ass version of the one depicted in "Grease." The teachers had already taught you all they could, the final exams had been taken, and essentially… Well, you were pretty much just going to mail in the rest of your remaining days anyway, so why drag this out any longer? With the end of the year came the end of the year music concerts. It was something I always looked forward to, but this one was special to me, as it was the culmination of four years of hard work on my life’s greatest passion. The band concert always went well, and I usually landed the all the flute solos. I even got to conduct some too, which I found I got as much joy from as actually playing. But then came “Finale”, my show choir’s end of the year performance.
I had spent weeks preparing for this event: making a senior slide show, helping people with their solo numbers. I dealt with overbearing stage moms that insisted I was playing in the wrong key when it was really their kid just being tone deaf, then me learning songs in new keys to rectify said problem. And I did this all with a smile on my face. Why? How? Because I loved what I did, but more so the way it made me feel.

That Wednesday night was the big show, and boy do I remember it well. We had finished the final song.. And now came the curtain call. One by one the names of all my fellow band mates and glee clubbers were called until we were down to just me. This is it, I thought, my big moment..

But my name never came.

I looked out into the crowd of people, and found the faces of my family.. My mom, my dad, my grandmother.. All of whom had come to see me. And.. Nothing. The moment I locked eyes with my mom... I lost it. There on the stage, in front of a sold out auditorium, I tilted my head down, and wept. As they say in mean girls... "Gretchen Weiners had cracked."

The next day I came to school in a daze. I was a shell of my former self.
My eyes puffy from crying, I tried to put on my best happy face for all those end of the year pictures people take while they sign each other’s yearbooks. Somewhere near 3rd period, I tapped out.

A lot of dark shit went through my head that day at school, but mainly just that my music had failed me. How could it do such a thing after all these years I had been its loyal disciple? How could it break my heart in front of a room full of people like that and rob me of what little self-worth I possessed? I got so angry, and so upset.. I just wanted to pull a fire alarm and disappear into the parking lot so I could jump in my car and blow that popsicle stand. But as it turns out... I didn't have to.

My mom showed up to school mid-afternoon. She had found a note I had written the night before.
It wasn't addressed to anyone in particular, just an open letter.. to my parents, to my friends, to my ex-boyfriends, to my music, to God.. To anyone that had ever touched my life in those four years. Before anyone goes jumping to conclusions, it wasn’t “that kind” of note or anything, just more so a list of all the crap I had silently endured over my tenure there. I won't go into all the heart-breaking details, but I can vouch for what happened next. My mother, an employee of the school system herself, marched into the principal’s office... and proceeded to tell them what I had written. They stood there, speechless, unable to pull together one coherent reason why such a bright child, with as big a heart as mine had been treated so poorly in their care. Beyond being forgotten at my own senior finale, and ridiculed by my English teacher, I had had enough.. And my mom had had all she could handle in watching me.

While my music may have failed me, my writing may have saved my life. It wasn't the perfect five-part essay. It was probably filled with spelling errors and sentences fractions. But no one seemed to care. It was written from the broken heart of a girl that wanted nothing more than for someone to understand what it felt like .. To be her... "To want to matter."

My life experiences these past five years have been anything but ordinary. They've often bordered on that territory of complete absurdity and randomness that have had everyone besides Daniel from the dentist asking.. "Is this real life?" Maybe that's why I took to writing. Music, though powerful, is hard to bring along for life’s journey. Sure, there's always the iPod, but it doesn't compare to the feeling I got when I touched the keys of my piano. So my computers keyboard became the next best thing.

I write for myself. I write because it makes ME feel better and keeps ME off a psychiatrist couch when shit in life just gets a little too real. If people want to rip apart my writing style, or my terrible spelling, or crude, mostly self-deprecating humor, then so be it. I am what I am... And whatever that vague, grey area is.. I wouldn't change it for the world. I can't promise you that I will write complete sentences, because I write in stream of consciousness. And that stream happens to be more contaminated than the Hudson River, with raging attention deficit disorder and borderline OCD. I can tell you I will probably never win an award for my writings, nor frankly do I give a damn if I ever do. I don't write to report on things, nor do I claim to be without bias. I would never dare call myself a serious journalist. Hell, I would never use “serious” to describe any aspect of myself. I'm simply a girl, sitting in front of a computer asking you to love her for who she is... a fast talking, southern girl with a big heart, a bigger mouth, and not enough self-censorship to tell her when not to use either of them. If my critics choose to write 2,000 word essays on “Why I suck at life” well… I really just feel bad for them. One, that they had that much time on their hands, and two, that they feel the need to tear others down to validate their own existence. I don't promise you that you'll always agree with me, or even find my humor funny.. But that doesn't say someone else won't. If that's the case, then you simply don't have to read it. No hard feelings. I was writing before you got here, and I’ll be writing long after you're gone. But for those of you that come back time and time again, have “ridden the bus,” and gotten to know me through the years, I thank you for your continued friendship and support. I figure, if life has to drag me through all the ups and downs it has, I might as well share it with whoever wants to read it. Because no matter how crappy life may get sometimes, it’s always better when you've got some company along for the ride.

"Be who you are and say what you feel. Because those that mind don't matter. And those that matter don't mind" – Dr. Seuss.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Year of the No-No

Tonight is one of the most anticlimactic nights in sports: The Major League All Star Game. Sure, in theory it’s cool, but this year??.. Eh, I’m expecting an old fashioned pitcher’s duel. Sure both teams are loaded with the best bats from every franchise, but it seems this year.. pitchers are just too damn good. In fact, 2010 has been the year of the pitcher. Even before we headed into this All Star break there had already been four no hitters, two of which where perfect games. Well, there was the Galarraga incident, but I’ll try not to rub any more salt in that wound Jim Joyce. Perhaps it’s the crackdown on performance enhancing drugs. Or even just the fact the pitchers are just that good with the emergence of phenoms like Stephen Strasburg … and, who the hell is this Ubaldo Jimenez kid???... Eh, never heard of him. Could it be the fielders behind the hurlers have gotten better??? Or maybe .. Just maybe we should chalk it up to luck and chance.

After all, you can't be a diehard sports fan without having a superstitious thread or two in your body. Me? I simply believe in karma… and jinxes. Maybe that's why my personal trash talk is so limited. I know the power of the sports Gods is both mighty and swift. And having been a loyal Tampa sports fan for many years, I raise my arms to you and ask, “Haven’t we suffered enough? Did you not SEE my Bucs last year?”

My superstitions not only revolve around my favorite sports teams.. But around my personal life as well. Confused?... Let me explain.

There are certain things in life you just don't talk about. In my small albeit random dating world, I view being in a functioning relationship like pitching the ever elusive “perfect game.” The less you talk about the X’s and O’s, and the sheer mechanics of it, the better chance you have at making it work. Anyone that's been around the Game knows that the jinx is real. I hadn't come close to throwing a perfect game since 2007. And it wasn't a pretty one. It was more of the Edwin Jackson versus the Rays variety. But do style points really matter at that point in the game? Some will say I was still using performance enhancers in the form of my 34Ds. And I while I wasn't trying to write José Canseco tell-all about it, I certainly didn't argue with them.

In 2009, I laid off the "juice" I guess you could say and went back to the basics. I dusted off my heater. Shaped up my curve, and prayed to God that my slider didn't look like Scott Kazmir's. It was small yard ball, the kind you see outside your local YMCA or in sandlots across middle America or small town stadiums in generic Carolina cities. The mechanics weren’t perfect, but the talent was there. And at least no one was winning free steaks from hitting one off of the Bull at my expense.

The funny thing is I wasn’t worried about being perfect or throwing no-no’s I was just simply a girl having fun. That is until one guy dropped the dreaded title on me in public.

"This is my girlfriend… blah blah blah blah blah.”

Once someone had applied the Heimlich, I'm pretty sure I visibly shuttered. When did that happen? Better yet, how had this happened? Miss monogamy? Miss relationship? Miss perfect girlfriend? And all of the sudden I shuddered at the idea of being in a committed relationship. WTF was wrong with me? Here were perfectly good men. Who treated me well. Who I had tons in common with. And I couldn't muster up the two syllables they longed to hear. Boy... friend.

I mean, in the most literal context, they were boys, and we were friends. But, I had tons of male friends. So what made these so different.

I just didn't see the need to define things. Did relationships really need labels and boundaries? Maybe I was hiding from something? Maybe I was just keeping myself from getting hurt. I've never been the one to hide my feelings from people. Shit, I post them in my blog for the ten of you that may actually read my drivel, one of those is my own mom. But for the past year or so I had played my emotions close to the vest. I was that bad ass Angelina Jolie-esque girl. The kinda girl that had made boys cry and showed no mercy doing so. Well, at least publicly. When had I become such a cynical asshole?

Just the idea of being 'Pujolsed’ again made me haul ass faster than Willie Mays. My friends often joked when I'd show up in a new pair of sneakers, that I'd simply run the soles out of the other ones. I won't lie, I'm on my 3rd pair in less than a year... So their observations aren't totally inaccurate.

So for well over a year it seemed I did the dance about the mound. Sure, I struck some dudes out, but my pitch count bordered on insanity. Then this past spring, things were starting to come together. I was seemingly on top of my game. I had been consistent. I had been calm, and collected.. Things were awesome on this one particular day. It was the bottom of the seventh, I was playing it cool.. But then my head got the best of me over this one particular batter.

Next thing I knew there was a meeting at the mound. Self Doubt was playing first base, my emotions were at short, and insecurity was on second. Had one of those ridiculous Fu Manchu mustaches going on. He was forever in an image identity crisis it seemed and during the off season would grow out his facial hair only to shave it into some random configuration in time for team pictures. This look defined ridiculous on his young face as he tried to feign a “devil may care” persona.

Ego played third. He's the type of dude that had a portrait of himself commissioned as half horse, half man. And while we all publicly razz him for it, there's an inner voice in us that says, "Vain, and bordering on some weird Liza Minelli territory or not.. That shit is bad ass."

Each had their own two cents to add on the subject. When Self Doubt brought it up.

“Hey Sterg, you do know you’re in the middle of a …”

“SSSSSHHHH! What the French toast are you doing Self Doubt? Keep quiet,” said Ego.

Effing rookies. Don't you know the first rule of a no hitter..

By the time our meeting adjourned my mind was anywhere but on the mound. At that point in time, I might as well have been Doc Ellis mid acid trip.
“What are you doing? Are you sure you're the only one he's seeing? Don't you need to define what this is?”

“No!” I yelled back. “I don't. Why jinx it?”

I'm sure to the outside world I looked the Grant Balfour, glove to my mouth shouting obscenities at my inner voices, reprimanding them..

"Don't you jokers know.. You don't ever talk about a perfect..."

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!”

Maybe the time had come when I had to talk about it. This game had gone on for months now between us. And no one was willing to acknowledge what it was we were doing. So.. I did what I thought I had to do.. I broached the subject on the ride to the airport one day. The home stretch. The bottom of the ninth. “At least I would know,” I thought. So I served up what little heat I had left in me.. And..

CRACK.

I not only allowed a hit, but I allowed a solo home run shot. As my friend Billy Zane would say.. "It’s a walk off."

How had I committed a grievous rookie error? C’mon Sterger. Clear the f'n mechanism. You're better than this.

Maybe I had been right to just let things develop as they will and not overthink things as I tend to do. My brain often times had been my own worst enemy calling back memories of that time I’d be Albert ‘Pujolsed’ in front of my friends, my family, and on the airwaves that had watched the drama unfold before our very eyes.

Any kind of experience like that will have even a seasoned vet questioning themselves. Maybe I didn't have what it took anymore. Maybe my Smoltz years had come and gone, and not only had the team I had been so loyal to didn't want me, but I hardly had enough gas to be traded for a pile of used bats, and a half empty box of big league chew. I was doomed to wind up teaching pitching methods to dumb ass kids with stupid nicknames and hooking up with a much younger hotter Susan Sarandon as I faded into obscurity.

Why is everyone else around me pitching perfect games? What do they know that I don't? My stuff is just as good as theirs. I'm just as dedicated. Maybe it really was all just a giant mind f*ck I had put on myself. Being around sports as long as I have been, even I know a pitcher can be his own worst enemy. A few wild pitches, lousy officiating, and you could start second guessing yourself.

My next few starts didn’t go so well. Ok, they were downright disgusting. Finally, I just found myself sitting on the mound for what seemed like months, and waiting for the inevitable: for the manager to stroll out to the middle of the field and give me the business in front of a crowd of people. And put me out of my misery. But a funny thing happened.

He never came.

Instead I looked over to the dugout, and found a team had rallied around me. Mostly the usual suspects, but a few new faces that had joined the team in the past few months for no other reason than they liked me for me. The goofy girl who is far too smart for her own good. The girl who knows no strangers that spends countless hours socializing with random people whom she's never met, yet considers friends. The outwardly cynical tom boy, that's 2 parts bad ass to 1 part Julia Roberts.. all while still remaining open to the idea that the right dude could convince her to change her wild ways. Eh.. Or something like that. I made a rookie mistake that so many guys had made in their dealings with me.. but rest assured I had learned from it.

I'm not saying I'm going back to the horn rimmed glasses or carving patterns in my head that would embarrass Kid n Play.. But I’m definitely going back to the roots of the game.. And the pitch I knew best.

Confidence was crouched behind the plate. He calls all the pitches and knows me best. Sometimes we don't always see eye to eye, but he's definitely pulled me through some tough situations. I think that's the veteran in him.

He's always the first to remind me, "Hey remember that time when... Yeah? Well, this ain’t shit compared to that. So settle down Sterger. You've got this! Give 'em the heater Sterg.”

That's right..

To quote a very wise friend of mine.. Sometimes you just have to step back and look at it all.

Then say..

"I'm Jenn effin Sterger.

“I'm effin in. And they're effin out."

That’s the thing about No-No’s. Sometimes they happen when you least expect them to, but more often when you need them the most. Just don’t try to talk about them. After all, that is what arbitration is for later.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Smurf Ninjas, Panera, & Lessons in Sleepwalking

My body is blissfully unaware of any actual time schedule. It knows the sun and the moon, and it knows them well. Sometimes we pull the day shift, others the night… and sometimes I have been known to sleep walk between the two.

One such instance was this morning. I crawled out of bed sometime around noon after having been up most of the night, and made my way a few doors down to my usual lunch spot, Panera Bread. For anyone at home that is thinking of chastising me for eating at a chain restaurant… a giant middle finger to you. I love chain restaurants, mainly because most have a standard of excellence. However high or low they may set the bar, it’s been set regardless. So you always know what you are going to get. And I don’t mind that. I am after all like every other human a creature of habit. It’s when I veer from that habit that the Rainman-ness of my day gets thrown for a loop. This is one of those stories.

I rolled out of bed, and proceeded to search for my signature “Lil Ninja Jenn” uniform as my makeup artist Amy has come to describe it. In short, it is an all black track suit. There’s nothing about it that draws attention to it, no crazy neon trim or letting across the ass of the pants to tell people just how “Juicy” my ass has gotten since the last time I worked out. It makes me feel surprisingly strong, stealth, and dare I say it.. sexy… to the point I’m beginning to think I actually have a chance to be cast as the next Lara Croft, or some other gratuitous booby ridden action movie that is NOT classified as porn. I should note I own about 10 pairs of these pants and various formfitting tank tops. I should also note that it has been about two weeks since I have had a chance to pick up my laundry, or drop of the next load of dankness which means two things: I had run out of my signature Ninja Jenn outfits. And 2… If I didn’t claim my laundry in the next day or so, there would be some foreigner going through my unmentionables laughing at the pair of Victoria’s Secret underwear I own with the phrase “IMPRESS ME” emblazoned on the front of my hoohah.

Sadly, with no ninja outfits, I reach for my dark blue tracksuit. It’s not nearly as awesome as any of my black ones, and to be honest, I find quite obnoxious due to the fact it has sequins all across the bust. Sure, I could search for something that with some semblance of an outfit, but damn it.. I’m hungry and need to feed myself before I turn into a diva from one of those snicker commercials. So, I pull on my rap stars girlfriend meets high school dance team ensemble.. and walk right out the door.

Panera is only a few doors down, so I really don’t see the necessity to put myself together. Honestly, they are just lucky I brush my teeth before I go down there, that is how entirely lazy I am. From the moment I walk in, I sense that something is oddly different. For one, babies that had been crying suddenly stopped, and actually looked up at me and smiled. I shrug.. eh.. kids love me. And though Panera’s target demographic is typically limited to people who only have enough teeth to eat soup or large quantities of macaroni and cheese (read… babies and old people), there were a surprising number of decent looking younger guys there this particular morning. Clearly Steven’s has to be in summer session. God bless them.

The table of guys I walk past stare at me, but more of a mouth wide open stare. Hot damn, I think to myself.. I’ve still got it even with no makeup on, and in this awful tracksuit. It wasn’t until I walked up to the cashier to place my order I got the sense that something was terribly wrong.

“Um… Jenn.. you have something on your face.”

“What?”

She does like a hand wiping gesture in front of her face, and hands me a reflective mixer cup that was by her register. I pull up the cup into a makeshift mirror to see what the fuss was about.

The image that looked back at me… was Smurfette.. meets Braveheart… meets avatar.

So preoccupied with getting myself fed, and so thrown from my usual OCD game, I had forgotten to take off my facemask before I left the house. Luckily for me, I didn’t leave home without my sense of humor. So I casually mentioned I may or may not be shooting a Smurf live action movie, I was dressed in head to toe blue. I took my Sierra Turkey (no onion) sandwich and what was left of my dignity “To Go”… and went home.

For those of you that read my blogs, hoping for some enlightenment… on this one.. I’ve got nothing.

Actually wait… that’s not true. Even the best of us can get thrown off our game from time to time. Just gotta learn to roll with the punches... the moral of this story is.. don’t brush your teeth in the dark.

Now if you’ll excuse me.. I need to go pick up my laundry.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Good talk, Russ

Don’t let the long, dark hair and five inch heels fool you, I’m a card carrying member of the “Boys Club.” I don't enjoy overly girly things like spa days or uber sappy movies like "The Notebook." To me, spending an afternoon at Macy’s in Herald Square is like spending a night with Freddy Krueger. My Worst. Farkking. Nightmare. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a nice pair of heels and a dress every now and then, but it’s usually more for someone else’s benefit than my own. If I had my way, I'd spend my days in boots and a pair of blue jeans or even better, my all black “Ninja” gym outfit, but unfortunately I have to keep up this femininity facade so I don't fall into this odd Samantha Ronson category. Because as often as I get hit on by girls, and it happens more than one would expect, well, I'm just not quite ready to venture into that uncharted territory… yet.

A long, long time ago.. in a suburb far, far away.. while my sister was busy with her Barbies, I was fascinated by my Pow Pow Power wheels and my Dad’s crazy ideas on how to make my bright red Jeep four wheeler go faster than Tyco had ever intended it to. (Of course, it did catch fire one time, but we won't go into that. Lesson learned.) I remember my Dad driving me to school in the ghetto, because they bussed all of us suburb kids there in attempts to either harden us as human beings, or scare us into getting a proper education. He would be cranking Jethro Tull, or The Beatles, or his all time favorite, Billy Joel as we made our way through the maze of pawn stores, liquor stores, and gun shops before we pulled in the parent drop off line. So I sacrificed the 30 minute ride, countless retellings of his “roadie days” stories, and any street cred I could’ve had by exiting the car in front of the cool kids jamming to Dad’s old school tunes. But in the heat of those late August days, that thirty minutes of air conditioning far surpassed spending my afternoons crammed into the faux leather seats in a pool of the kid next to me’s ass sweat.

The truth is.. while some kids are embarrassed by their parents at this particular age… I was actually quite proud of mine. Sure, they had their quirkiness about them, but I think it was more just a generational thing than anything else. After all, it’s why my friends dubbed them Clark and Helen Griswolds. They were the kinda parents any kid would be lucky to have, and I just happened to be one of those kids. While some would argue I was a Daddy’s girl, I would tend to disagree. I think I was an “equal parts” kinda kid. I had my mom’s no nonsense stubborn, independent streak with my dad’s streets savvy and go-with-the-flow attitude. In short, I was the like the “son my father always wanted” trapped in the body of a girl that would later force him to purchase & “load up” many a metal baseball bats with a weight.. making them great for hitting serious line drives or dismantling some kids jaw should he break his daughter’s heart.

My dad will never admit this, but I’m sure some part of him is a little sad God gave him two girls. He has no one to blame but himself though. After all, it wasn’t my mother’s fault.. she was only capable of donating 50% of the kid. The rest was left to chance & God. Karma being the bitch that she is, decided my father needed to suffer for something he did in a previous life, and gave him 2 X’s, which in bowling would’ve been quite awesome. But in the Russian roulette of his little swimmers… well, they have a site to list those kinds of stories..
Fmylife.com. Gone are the chances he had to toss a ball around in the backyard. Forget going to Varsity football games, unless you count being a band or dance team chaperone. And God save us all if mom leaves it up to him to have the birds and the bees speech with us.

“They.. uh.. teach you kids that in school now right?”

“Yup Dad.”

“Whew… Good talk Russ.”

Yup, instead it was Spice Girls, Drum major uniforms, & a crap load of boring piano recitals. That didn't stop him from instilling tom boy like qualities in me. I love fast cars, sports, and anything that causes an adrenaline rush. Unfortunately, I’m just not coordinated enough to play anything remotely cool. And despite the beast of a car I own, I am still a female driver with an extensive accident record and the speeding tickets to prove it. Sigh.

But one thing my dad has always been good for… is advice. After all, if you want to know how the other half thinks, it works best when you can just ask one of their own. Mom’s have a tendency to sugar coat things. They would never want to be the one to make you cry. But Dads? No way. Dad’s are straight-shooting, no bullshitting kinda people. They’ll hand you the answer even if it’s something you would have preferred not to hear.

“Why do guys do this? Why’d he say that? What should I do?..” And the most heartbreaking question I'll ever have to ask him .. “Will he come back?”

Time after time, he’d give it to me straight. Maybe that's because men tend to view their interactions with others as more business-like transactions, while women can't help but get emotional sometimes. We’re just hardwired that way. My father was the captain of the stone faced stare. I think he may have cried four times in his entire life.

One day I got to thinking though.. What if I had really been a boy? If I'd have been a boy, people would have taken my drive to succeed more seriously. Guys wouldn't be shocked when I step out of my Shelby or when I spout off movie quotes. My voice wouldn't blend into the background of conversations, and my opinions wouldn't always be dismissed for those of my male counterparts. My jokes, my sense of humor, and general mischievous perversion wouldn't be so frowned upon, or viewed as social awkwardness. And if I stood up for myself I certainly wouldn't be called a bitch. I'd just be assertive.

More so.. I've always said, if I were a boy, I'd make an awesome boyfriend. It’s not that I'd be some sappy chump that gets turned out by man eating bitches, because I certainly have more backbone than that. But I'd definitely know how to treat a woman while still maintaining my sense of self. Basically, I’d be the same person I am today, only with an Ellen DeGeneres haircut.

Sometimes I think my membership to the fraternity does my brain more harm than good. Because for every promise I’ve had a man keep, I've heard him spout some other bit of absolute bullshit he fell through on. I know their games better than they do. And that being so, I could probably run them if I wanted to. Better than they do. And I'd never get caught. But that wouldn't make it right. Besides, I’m a woman.. I have no penis to “think with” and more importantly… we have consciences. Damn all this estrogen.

The fact my brain operates like a man’s is downright scary sometimes. It creates a ton of inner turmoil. Why? Because the logical or “male” part of my brain tells me one thing, while my inner chick gives me a while different set of instructions. The result? Awkwardness that usually manifests itself in my life as some self sabotaging behavior. I find myself trying to balance two totally different sides of my personality, playing up the one society says will help me be accepted, while banishing the one that shows I do indeed have weaknesses otherwise known as “feelings.”

I’ve had a lot of these arguments with myself lately, both congratulating myself for my professional accomplishments, while calling offensive pass interference on my dating life. 10 yards.. 4th down. How could I keep doing this to myself?.. Was I really saving myself from getting involved with bad people, or was I keeping myself from evolving as an adult. Even if I like a guy, I would be the first to pull the plug if I sense there is any bullshit being pulled behind the scenes. Or I’d make excuses as to why I couldn’t go on dates… “my career dictates my social life.” It got to the point where I valued my quality time with the treadmill over the company of other human beings. That was the most recent predicament I found myself in, weighing my options in my current situation as “complicated” as it already was.

Trying to keep it casual while actually having feelings for someone, coupled by only seeing each other once a month or so, really wasn't cutting it for either of us. So I simply just waited for the other shoe to drop. When it did, I didn't cry or get upset. I actually.. felt relieved. It wasn't that I didn’t care for him, because our times together were like spending days on end in this super "high." It was more so... well, he's just not the boyfriend type, and I'm not the girlfriend type. And neither of us has time for anything messy or remotely complicated. I know what you're thinking... "Jenn.. you're so full of shit." And until the other night.. I would have argued with you. But now.. I'm not so sure.

One night, as I was leaving the gym, I happened to walk through the lobby and discover a brand new piano sitting in the rec room. Sure, it wasn’t my grandmother’s old upright Steinway… but it would do. It’s been so long, I wondered if I even remembered how to play. As I sat down at the piano, years of lessons and performances came rushing back to me. But it wasn't Fur Elise, or Beethoven’s Fifth that came from beneath my fingers. It was something much more familiar.

By the time I reached the chorus, I was already singing along, oblivious to the people that had gathered in the doorway behind me.

"And the waitress is practicing politics

As the businessmen slowly get stoned

Yes, they're sharing a drink they call loneliness

But it's better than drinkin' alone"


Somewhere in the chorus that followed, my voice cracked, and I realized there was a tear rolling down my cheek. I blinked through it as if it had been a technical glitch in my system, but then another tear followed suit.

As my hands rolled through the final chords, I heard the door close behind me. The crowd that had gathered in the door way had dispersed, and all that remained was the quiet little door man. He had to be in his late 60s, and his English was broken.

"You're very, very good," he said, "but why so sad?"

That's a great question, because I honestly had no idea. I think sometimes I go to such great lengths to put up walls, I block everything out. Maybe it’s alright to feel something. To feel homesick, to feel lonely, to feel hurt, to just.. Feel. I’m so used to people disappointing me that I’ve almost become numb to it… like.. emotionally botoxed.

"Please don't tell anyone I was in here.." I asked.

"Don't mention it. It’s no problem"

My time in the city has done a number on me. It’s made me a much more cynical, hardened version of myself, so much so… I really feel like I’ve morphed into my father. He always did his best to protect that my inner little girl for as long as he could, telling me to “grow a thicker skin” or to “toughen up.” And in some instances, I think it worked. I’m sure now he realizes I'm old enough, and have made enough mistakes in love and life to usually handle myself. But every once in a while, my father’s tough exterior will break down, and he’ll show a little compassion to the sensitive side in me, and not the hard ass he's tried so desperately to raise to protect her from boys like his old self.

"If a guy isn't smart enough to realize what he's got in front of him,” he’ll say, “he's not worth hanging on to. Regardless of any of the crap people tell you.. even the best relationships require work. And you are the hardest working woman I know next to your mother. You just have to focus on your career right now, and the rest will happen when their supposed to. Because the guy that's smart enough to see what he's got, will be the one that will never let you go."

The bad ass boy in me thinks he's spouting a crock of crap.

The inner girl in me.. Secretly hopes he's right. But I’ll never let him know.

“Thanks Daddy.”

“Good talk, Russ.”

Monday, June 07, 2010

There's no hugging in baseball

At twenty-six, I’ve had a good share of men in my life. Some good, some bad, and some.. well.. let’s just say I don’t exactly send them Christmas cards. There have been some extraordinary ones though, that even with their short stays, left lasting impacts on my life and the way I am the way I am today. But no man has left quite the lasting mark... as a boy named Thomas.

During my first two years of college, I spent my off days from school as a nanny to a six year old kid. Some argued that Thomas had a form of a learning disability, but no one really defined what it was. In my non-expert opinion it was probably just a little ADD and an excessive amount of energy from ingesting way too much sugar. Honestly though, Thomas was bright kid with an extreme passion for sports, which I was one of the first to help him to indulge. He could tell me all the names of the Rays starting line-up, and even recite their batting averages. He regularly schooled my ass in Madden, but what kid these days couldn’t? (If you’re saying you’ve never had your ass kicked by a kid with a headset & a hand controller at a video game, well, you sir are a damn liar. Today’s kids come out with ever y cheat code to Modern Warfare Gazillion ingrained in them, like its genetic coding.) Of course, it wasn’t long until Thomas got the itch to play organized sports of his own, which prompted his mother to sign him up for every sport imaginable except for maybe Cheerleading. After all, when a kid had as much energy as Thomas, you certainly didn’t want it to go to waste driving you insane and destroying your house now, do you?

So every day after school, I'd take him Thomas to his little league practice or his games. I was always there to cheer him from the bench, even if it meant getting ogled by the Dad’s and death glares from the Mom’s. But like any new skill set or activity, Thomas still had to learn the rules of the game. And that’s where I came in. I was there to remind him not to hug the kid who tagged him out at second.

“THERE’S NO HUGGING IN BASEBALL THOMAS!!!!”

When soccer rolled around, I was the one on the sideline screaming for him to not sit down in the middle of the field til the ball came back his way, or that he was in fact, about to score a goal on his own team. Or to tell him to stop running in slow motion like they do in replay mode on the NCAA football Playstation game. It was a challenge at first, teaching a kid logistics that some grown ass umpires still don’t even understand. ::cough.. Jim Joyce..cough:: But, once he learned them, Thomas was the greatest stickler for rules.

By the time he was eight, Thomas knew what the rules for every game were. But even more so, he knew the consequences if he broke those rules. He never once tried to cheat at Candyland, or Chutes and Ladders, or anything else for that matter. And that's more than I can say for some of his playmates who were not only older than him, but also some of the biggest shysters the game of Monopoly has ever seen. But don’t think this babysitter let those little bastages get away with it though. If there’s one thing I won’t stand for, its kids that think they can get away with cheating and cutting the rules. Sure, I could teach Thomas to cheat and beat the little snots at their own game. Even I knew how to rig the deck of Chance cards in his favor. But what good would that do?.. I would just be setting the example that it was OK to stoop to their snot-faced little level. So instead, I sent them home to be their parents’ problem. It was “Do not pass Go, Do Not Collect $200.” I’d be damned if I wanted to watch a room full of Dennis Mitchells. Especially if I wasn’t getting paid for it.

At twenty six, I’m still not sure I want kids. I mean, they seem cool and all. And I love all my friends’ kids. But that is because I view them like I do my Netflix subscription. I can keep the ones I like as long as I want, and the ones that suck, well, you just stick them back in the mail and send them back from the movie hell they came from. But when I’m around kids, I certainly try to set a good example and be a good role model. I can have fun, and be the “Cool Aunt” while still showing them I’m a bigger boss than Tony Danza. And the kids generally respect me for it. My friend’s daughter even wrote a paper about me. Did I mention that her teacher “Googling” me also resulted in a parent teacher conference? Oops.

I try to instill in the younger generation what my parents did in me. My parents have always taught me the importance of playing fair even as far back as my Green Acres Preschool days. I remember the boys in the sand box that would constantly throw sand in my eyes and tease me about my curly hair. Or the boys that would cheat at Duck Duck Goose because they knew I was faster than them. That didn't stop them of course from tussling my hair as they went past just to show they liked me. Hell, I admit that I may have tapped one boy’s head harder than the rest.

Though I may have grown since then, I certainly haven’t grown up. And why should I? The games really have never changed. There are still those boys I refer to as the sandbox lovers. The boy that throws "sand," quirky little barbs, and acts way cooler than you just to keep your attention focused solely on them. And the funny thing is.. Nine times out of ten, their methods are absolutely effective. Isn't it ironic how certain guys have the ability to turn even the most confident of girls into bumbling idiots? It’s because even in their adulthood, they still remember how to get under even the toughest of girl’s skin.

From the minute the dating puck is dropped with the exchanging of the numbers… it’s game time, bitches. Do you text her right away? Do you wait the standard three days? I guess there are still some no bullshit kinda people out there that will tell you up front that their motives are to either: 1) Start a relationship with you or 2) Have sex with you. Very rarely does a guy who only wants #2 ever discuss #1, but I almost applaud him for his brutal, albeit crude honesty. And as for the guy who states #1 up front, while planning our future together and naming our unborn children.. well, I usually pretend my phone number was mysteriously changed should we ever encounter one another again.

Most of the time, dating is just two people testing each other’s limits, pushing other people’s buttons.. seeing what they can get away with.. and how the other person will react. Reaction shows that you care… to care is to show weakness. And weakness lets the other player know they’re winning.

I remember back when playing games used to be fun. Sure someone would win, and someone would lose.. but at the end of the day it was just a game. It’s not like anyone went home crying about it. Oh, wait.. I forgot about the Little League World Series, my bad.

Back when we were little, and society hadn’t turned us all into completely jaded assholes, we still had a sense that life was fair. That if we played by the rules, all would be well. We also used the phrase.. "First is the worst, second is the best." Who came @#$! up with that crap? Because nowadays, if you ain’t first, you’re last! That’s just how real life is. But if I have learned one thing about myself, it’s that I refuse to treat someone like a priority that only sees me as an option.

What fun is a game when you're constantly watching your back and second guessing someone’s motives? Why do we have to pretend we don't like someone to get them to like us? Aren't we all just playing the same bullshit games we did in preschool, bopping kids on the head, throwing sand in their eyes? And we still expect them to LIKE us? More so, how are we expected to keep up this whole charade while we’re trying to drive our careers and maintain our own personal lives? Who really has time for all the nonsense??... More so, does anyone ever really win?

I want a guy that gets excited over the fact I want to see him, not act like it’s some chore or great favor to ask of him. I want a guy that has the perfect balance of friend time, family time, and significant other time and doesn't define himself by any of those things. I don’t want a person that NEEDS me. I want someone that WANTS me. And if you really want someone.. why chance it by playing games? Risk is only fun when it involves little plastic pieces and a game of chance, not in real life scenarios. Why do you have to wait three days to call someone? Or act too busy for them when they text you? If I like a guy, but he continues to “beat around the bush” in the gumdrop forest (and no that is not a euphemism for sex), then I got news for him. Successful individuals with their own lives going on won't stand for it, and we will simply cut our losses rather than go down with our battleship you just took out. The thing is, I’m just as guilty as most men are. I self-sabotage, I run people off, make excuses, or I simply cut bait with no explanation. I play the same stupid games men do, to keep from committing, to keep others from hurting me. And it’s cost me plenty of opportunity not to mention probably made me miss out on the real genuine men out there. I’ll be damned if I'm not the type to learn from my mistakes.

It’s hard enough finding someone you mesh well with and that “gets you” in this crazy world these days. It seems people will just try to “wife” someone up for the sake of not being alone, instead of really getting to just know the person with no bullshit façades. So when you find somebody that makes your life a little happier by just being in it, why waste each other’s time playing “it cool”… instead of just enjoying each other’s company? After all if you spend your entire life playing games and bending the rules, eventually the rest of the kids at the playground will get fed up with your shit, take their ball and go home.

During one of my trips home, I took Thomas to a Rays game. Nothing beat watching his face light up, as I walked him through the tunnel and out to the cushy seats right behind home plate, where he sat just mere feet from some of his favorite players. I got him some cracker jacks and peanuts, and all the things that make up the ball park experience. One of the Ray’s staff even brought him down a team signed ball. The kid was in heaven. Maybe that's why I loved Thomas so much. Kids in general, well… most of them anyway, are some of the most genuine, honest little people you will ever meet. There are no hidden agendas, there’s no rule breaking, and there’s not a single game played that does involve a ball. Thomas may not have won at every game he played, but he certainly played fair and by the rules. Maybe if adults took a page from their rule book, there would be a lot less miscommunication between the two sexes. And those are the kinda rules I could definitely live by.

BJ Upton hit a walk off home run that night, which set the Trop on fire. Thomas jumped up and down on his chair and cheered. If only all victories in life were that sweet. As I walked him up through the tunnels past the clubhouse to the exit, he spotted Carlos Pena down the way. Like a dog after the postman, he slipped out of my grasp and ran to meet the first baseman, who he hugged as if he had known him all his young life. Oddly enough, Carlos just laughed. And so did I.

:::Slaps forehead::::

Eh kids.. well, at least it wasn’t the kid that tagged him out at second this time.