Month: May, 2012

Happy Thoughts On Rainy Days

  • We watched the Marlins’ game with one mission: to see the home run sculpture go off. We’d seen the drawings, the Youtube video, and we wanted to see the real thing in action. We thought we might be waiting awhile, but Omar Infante’s solo shot in the second inning set off the 75-foot monstrosity, much to our delight. In celebration, I raced to the shelf to grab a bottle of Bulleit and we did a shot directly from the bottle and turned on Gloria Estefan, which I’d argue only heightened the experience.
  • He tried to convince me that the Bleacher Creatures at Yankee Stadium were an endearing fixture and that I should learn to appreciate the hard work and dedication they bring to the ballpark every game. Upon the third acknowledgement, I changed the station and he wrestled me for the remote. We settled on fifteen minutes of the banal History Channel television show Pawn Stars, before I agreed that Chumlee is far worse than Ali Ramirez ever could have been and I watched all nine innings.
  • He wanted to wait in line at Shake Shack, which I thought was extremely ridiculous, disrespectful even, given the fact that there was a baseball game going on. Yet, he waited in line while I leaned over the balcony watching the game in the distance and he greeted me with a shake and a kiss—even though he missed two innings, I certainly felt as though I’d gained something.
  • He doesn’t come to visit often, but when he does, I make sure to take him to a shop that sells action figures and other collectibles. Among the Alf dolls, Star Wars action figures, old records, and Lite Brites, there are bins filled with used action figures that haven’t seen regular playing time in twenty years. Being sheltered from nerdom, I don’t recognize most of the contents in these plastic totes, throwing aside the Han Solos and space creatures, because we’re looking for something very specific: the Starting Lineup baseball action figures we had as kids, but have since lost. A Mike Greenwell and a Carl Yastrzemski later, the trip was a success.
  • At a bookstore that also serves dessert, he tried to convince me he was a man who knew what he wanted, despite his age.  While I’d usually find such conversations on first dates about wanting a relationship frightening, he said everything with such conviction; I had no choice but to believe him. And to be fair, for two months he was right.
  • It had been a long day of work and travel, and by time I arrived at his place, I was exhausted. I kept fighting the urge to fall asleep, and even through cat naps, he kept talking to me about baseball. He’d go on a lengthy diatribe and ask, “Cee are you awake?” and I’d say yes, even though I wasn’t. We fell asleep on a sectional sofa, arms adjoined across the L shaped furniture, listening to Vin Scully call the Dodgers game. I remember it all, even though I was sleeping.
  • Because of the patio party tickets at the White Sox game, we had unlimited hotdogs and beer, which ultimately leads to poor decision-making. Somehow we acquired stickers for the busy right-field patio bar, and six of us crammed into a picnic table attended for four. For three outs, in an act of pure drunken ignorance, he continued to scream, “IS IT PRONOUNCED BOSSSSSH or BOUUUUSSSSH?” at the right fielder for the Detroit Tigers.
  • We sat on the floor for over an hour, digging through unorganized bins of baseball cards. Some were separated by team—the White Sox and Cubs had their own boxes—but most were sorted by era only, creating a grab bag of surprises. As the three of us sat there pilfering through the boxes, growing our collections, we shared laughs over tragic haircuts and statistics. When it was time to go, we paid nominally for the collection of cardboard, and purchased new packs to find rookie Jason Heyward’s. I wanted an autographed Varitek card that resided with the other cards of value underneath the glass, but couldn’t justify the expense on my graduate school budget. On the walk back to the train, I was surprised by a card a friend purchased for me—a Jason Varitek card in a camouflage chest protector, which I affectionately call my Camo-tek card.
  • While at an Orioles game, he told me that the reason Nick Markakis would never reach his full-potential is because if you look at his spray chart, he hits everything to Center field, and so he just misses out on home runs frequently. In his next at-bat, Nick Markakis hit a homerun…over the Center field wall.
  • At the Phillies/Red Sox game, my dad quizzed me on baseball trivia as the occasion necessitated. Fortunately, I could name all the teams John Mayberry played for and I also knew what year Pete Rose joined the Phillies. We ate peanuts, which is our ballpark tradition, and because of the wind the dust of the peanuts was blowing everywhere—including into the Paula Deenesque hair of the woman in front of us.
  • Even though I had 103 fever on Opening Day, I decided to go anyway. I cuddled up on the sofa in the suite with a blanket that someone from the organization produced when he saw me shivering, drinking hot chocolate and Kahlua, watching the first game of the season. Though it didn’t aid in my recovery from the flu, it was at least a three-hour departure from feeling miserable.
  • He told me that he’d bought the cheap seats for the game we attended because money is tight, and I completely understood. I didn’t look at the ticket as we entered the gates, and we stopped for beer, a new hat, and to hug a statue, in that order. I followed him through the concourse, because I’d follow him anywhere…and he led me to seats just a few rows from the dugout instead of the nosebleeds I’d expected. Even though we’re not together, he continues to be the best surprise of my life.
  • When we met at the White Sox game, he had biked down from the north side. He had agreed to watch the White Sox/Red Sox game, instead of the Mets. From our seats, you couldn’t see the outfield scoreboard that posts the scores of other games, so he was insulated from seeing the Mets score, which he was recording at home. Our seats were in the shade along the right field line, while two friends baked in the sunshine of the third base line. Reaching their tolerance, they came to find us. Upon arrival, they introduced themselves to my friend. Noticing his Mets hat, one of them said, “Mets? Oh, they won” ruining the surprise of the game’s outcome that awaited him on the DVR. Luckily, they became friends anyway.
  • Our second date was watching the San Francisco Giants win the World Series in his bed on a television that still had bunny ears, even though it was 2010. It largely didn’t matter, because there was good company, a bottle of champagne, and a cool breeze coming through the bedroom windows on an October evening. I’d cut out early on a pumpkin-carving party for this celebration, a decision I do not regret.

It’s Over and Beginning

I spent the morning standing on the corner of 13th and G Northwest in Washington, DC in the pouring rain. I kept pacing around a newspaper box, trying to collect my thoughts. Armed with an umbrella, my cell phone, and my journal with whales on the cover, I made phone calls.

I just needed reassurance that I was doing the right thing. That the decision I made was best for me personally, while also being the right move for my career. Throughout the calls, I weighed the pros and the cons. I shrugged my shoulders frequently saying, “I don’t know if it’s right!” and the revolving characters on the other end assured me that it was.

When I got back to my desk, I googled “How to Resign.”

I have left jobs before, but it’s never been a shock that I was leaving. In fact, I was always clear and honest with my employers when I had life-changing events that would lead me to quit my job, but this was uncharted territory: I was leaving a position after being there for six-months, because it wasn’t the right fit.

I knew that this day was going to be a possibility since February, but there were several delays in the process. Throughout this time, I’ve learned I’m terrible at keeping secrets. But sometimes, life demands that we keep secrets, no matter how badly we want to tell them.

But now, I don’t have to keep secrets anymore. The DC experiment is over, and in two weeks, I’ll be moving for a new job that I’m extremely excited to tackle. It will be complicated, demanding, and finally put my degrees to good use, and I couldn’t be happier.

The job search for me has always been interesting, because I’ve always said I’d be willing to move anywhere for the right opportunity. I applied for jobs in San Francisco, I interviewed with a company in Texas, I had interviews for jobs in Ohio and Maryland, before making my decision.

They say you can’t go home again, but I’m willing to give it a try. See you in two weeks, Chicago.

The Seeker

Of the last nine weeks, I have traveled seven of them.

My roommate laughs every time I write my absences on the calendar that coordinates our schedules on the refrigerator, because she assumes that all of this travel is for leisure. She’s jealous and inquisitive of the time I spend away, but the truth is that it’s been anything but leisure: it’s desperation for escape, a desire to be anywhere but here. I wish it were as simple as wanderlust.

I have lived a lot of places, and I’m kicking myself daily: the adjustment should be easy. But everything in DC is a reminder of failure, and honestly I don’t like the person I’ve become here: a person who begrudgingly wakes up in the morning. A person who exists, but doesn’t live.

It probably has very little to do with DC itself. Plenty of people are happy here. In fact, when I tell people that I do not like it here, I’m met with blank stares and confusion, as though I’ve told someone I do not enjoy daisies or sunshine. But to me, DC is a lot of things, none of them pleasant. It’s a constant comparison to a former life that is so fabled and exaggerated in my head, I’m not even sure those things ever really existed.

Close to the water, DC feels like a rowboat with a large hole in the bottom. This isn’t ideal because of my propensity for motion sickness, my disgust of fecal contaminated water, and I haven’t been swimming in years. Fortunately I have a bucket and I keep dumping gallon after gallon of water over the edge of the boat to keep things afloat, but no matter how comfortably I should be perched, the boat is still sinking.

Since DC isn’t creating happiness by happenstance, I’ve decided to chase it. My time here has turned into an attempt to interview as many potential eastern seaboard cities for future residence. I pull up to every location now and ask, “Could I live here?”

I find myself on street corners, closing my eyes to take deeper breaths, and think, “is this the place where I belong?” A few deep breaths later, I open my eyes and survey the landscape, immediately finding microscopic flaws in the place where I’m standing.

I’m finding it makes no difference if I’m there. Or here. Or there.

Some things don’t change. Cellphones are a reminder that we can be lonely anywhere—if I had a landline I could assume that the answering machine were full of messages from people that wanted to connect with me—but constant refreshing of the inbox, my timeline, and my voicemail have led me to conclude that’s not true. A watched phone never rings, and when you are desperate for someone to say hello, you remain desperate for a very long time.

I’m looking under rocks that haven’t been peeked under in years. I’ve tried picking up some hobbies that are long since forgotten, but none of them are bringing fulfillment. Playing with a digital SLR camera was the closest to happiness I’ve come lately, until I looked at the price tag and realized that contentment through a glass lens was several paychecks away.

I’ve tried unconventional relationships. I’ve made friends with people that I wouldn’t ordinarily give the time of day; I’ve opened pieces of my heart to explore new relationships, but I’ve largely failed. There is certainly not contentment in trying to commit yourself to someone then quickly realizing that you’re overcommitted and incapable of pulling the trigger even on momentary delight because of a fear of the future causing paralysis.

There have been a lot of baseball games, and there will be even more. I wish I could explain the escapism of being inside a ballpark, but it’s better than any other form of therapy I’ve paid for. Perhaps it’s the prescribed roles of all involved: the players play, the coaches coach, and the fans sit in the stands delighted in patronage.

It’s mostly impossible to have a bad time at a baseball game, save for a handful of reasons. Those events include, but are not limited to: being hit by a bat, being hit by ball, being hit by a drunk person doing the wave, getting a sunburn, ending up on the Jumbo-tron, or awkwardly refusing to hold someone’s hand, no matter how much they insist.

I particularly like keeping score at games because for three hours I am the keeper of all importance in the universe: that notebook depends on me to pay attention, keep my pencil sharp, and remain in my seat for the duration. There is no leaving, no time for daydreaming or fretting; there is only time to write numbers and letters in the scorebook. I put more care and thought into the scorebook than I have any project at work in six months—it’s a reminder that when challenged, even my dyslexic brain can stay engaged for long periods of time. I was starting to wonder if that was even still possible.

I hope that I am chasing an elusive happiness, not one that doesn’t exist. At the same time, I’m not exactly sure what I’m seeking—it’s difficult to quantity, qualify, and it’s impossible to Google. I’ve been operating under the assumption that I will know what it is when I see it, but it’s been years and I’ve seen nothing yet.

Some happiness has been a mirage. Most of those moments came recently in the form of a prospective friendship, turned relationship, turned friendship again. It came mostly in the form of intimate moments, thoughtful gifts, and an unrivaled spoiling. As it turns out, it couldn’t be any of those things, but even the idea of it was enough to be satisfying in some regards.

Right now, the greatest happiness comes in the prospect of the future. It’s easy to be consumed with the present and the laundry list of items that are not going right, but there’s satisfaction in knowing that as soon as I can gain a clear idea of what it means to be happy, genuinely happy, I can work towards carving those things out for myself. A wise person once told me that you are the keeper of your own satisfaction, and I believe that to be true. It’s just a matter of constant reassurance, readjustment, reconnecting. The rest might come easily.


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