Nov 22

1, 2, 3, 4

I’m experiencing a combination of drive and paralysis with my non-Variety writing. Paralysis is winning because it’s less stressful – it’s easier right now for me to live with the unfulfilled urge to create than fit the struggle of creation into my schedule.

Ever since I began this hiatus two months ago, I feel like I’ve been catching up on 10 years of lost sleep, dating back to when my daughter was born in September 2002. I’m sleeping more hours per night than I have in all that time, and it still feels like it’s barely enough.

I’ve also been a little less of a slave to the desktop computer than I’ve been in that time. Year after year of juggling projects has mostly, for the time being, been transformed. Other than working on next spring’s revision of 100 Things Dodgers, I’ve been a one-job man since baseball season ended.

That job, of covering the awards scene at Variety, is challenging in that I’m the newcomer now, trying to establish my place among the folks that have been on the beat for years. I’ve done some good work, but there’s always, always more that I could be doing. That alone is enough to cower my ambition in other areas.

Whatever I contemplate doing – and I contemplate a lot – there’s always the feeling that the following is more important: 1) family, 2) Variety, 3) exercise, 4) sleep. Not necessarily in that order. I have a very comfortable bed and I enjoy every moment in it.

As for my waking hours, I’ve been home from the office this week on a staycation, and my chief activity has been preparing for a garage sale. I see offseason Dodger news and mostly feel relieved I don’t have to pause to address it. I miss the idea of doing Dodger Thoughts and how special it made me feel, but I don’t miss the reality of it.

I’m not sure when the yearning I have to create again will translate into actual activity, or whether I can find fulfillment completely in my day job, which would be somewhat ideal. Even this post, which was meant to be a five-minute stream of consciousness, has become something that I’ve spent more time than I intended on – and yet not turned into something entirely satisfying. Doing something of substance requires a level of commitment that I am wary of.

I’m still never sure if I’m working the appropriate amount. Recall my post two years ago about myself, Matt Kemp and John Wooden.

… I approach life a certain way. I want to be better, and I’ll grind at it, but there’s a limit to what I’ll do. I work very hard, I feel, but I can’t emphasize that limit enough. And that limit can change on a weekly, daily, hourly basis. There always has and always will be a part of me that wants to do nothing more than smell the roses, whether those roses are Saturday morning cartoons as a kid or a nice long walk in the twilight as a grown-up. I like the work I do, but I don’t like to work. I accept the process and can even enjoy the journey, but the result is a big part of my reward. I always want my life to be easier; I always want things to go right the first time.

And so that limit of how hard I’m willing to work is a moving target. …

Should I be working harder to provide more for my family, or should I be working harder at being with my family, or should I be content to get a good night’s sleep? Thanksgiving doesn’t answer the conflict between ambition and satisfaction.

Nov 21

Soul in That

Twenty years ago, on December 2, 1992, I finished the last poem of my Georgetown grad school poetry workshop – the last poem I have ever written or intend to write. It’s nothing the least bit remarkable, but I found it during some housecleaning this week and thought I’d share it.

I have some good memories of that workshop, though none better than of our instructor, Roland Flint, a Burl Ivesian man of letters and a baseball fan who expressed warm envy for my sportswriting career, such as it was. We even made a trip to a still-new Camden Yards together. Flint passed away in 2001.

Anyway, here’s the poem. For my farewell effort, I had decided to take my best stab at telling a Springsteen-like tale in poetry.

* * *

Soul in That

Understand me now:
he wasn’t much
just some overgrown bolo-wearin’ Bob.
I could run him in circles any day o’ the week.
But yessir, to answer your question,
you could call it a push.

I tried explainin’ to Shelly,
but she wasn’t in no mood for understandin’.
See, that was our spot
up on Hays Peak.
Then last month
this guy come to steal Shelly.
And then
I heard
that they
was up at
our
spot.
That was too much of mine to take.
And so I took somethin’ of his.

You ever think about them words?
I       took         a         life.
I did.
You’ll do whatever with me ‘n mine now.
Don’t matter none, ’cause it’s already been spit on shit on put down ‘n run round,
and ’cause I got his,
got it for keeps –
and you’re payin’ ‘tention now, ain’t ya.

Understand me now:
I done it, but I ain’t guilty.
I’m a decent man.
My shirt ain’t tore.
I ain’t no long-hair metal-head.
I like a nice, soft tune.
I can tell you that Patsy’s “Crazy” is A24
on the Midnight Bar & Grill jukebox.
Say, you should write a song about this, sir,
do a little something for y’self, like
me.
Hold on – I’ll even ante up a couple bits for ya:
Lessee,
Sun was out hot, those weird twistin’ rays.
nice little backdrop for his hey hey heeeeeeeys.
Ha –
tell me there ain’t no soul in that.

* * *

Below, here’s the real deal: