The last time someone outside my family was in our house was March 13.
Category: Thinking out loud (Page 1 of 7)
I remember the Dodgers.
I want to say something, but it’s less about the what than the why.
What I’m going to tell you won’t be anything you need to know. It goes back, as it always does, to this core dilemma: I have feelings, and I want them to be heard. I want them to be felt, even if they don’t matter.
What’s different now? Less distraction, maybe? I don’t have a commute. That is time I’ve filled with exercise — walks and short runs and sit-ups — rather than writing. But never not thinking.
What’s the same, but maybe more pronounced, are feelings of inadequacy. We are living through the singular event of my 52 years. How am I rising to the occasion? By following the best instructions for hiding.
I have one skill, which is to arrange words into thoughts, and I haven’t been using it. It doesn’t help that the Dodgers aren’t playing, but then again, the Dodgers aren’t relevant. It doesn’t help that I’m at the very, very beginning of turning the first draft of my novel into a second draft, and I’m feeling intimidated by the work.
I’m jealous of people who are producing. I’m jealous of people who are relevant. I’m a jealous person.
If I focus on my family, I’m fine. I’m grateful. I’m grounded. But my mind wanders, to very specific places.
We are living in a life or death world, and I don’t want to be silent.
This is the first episode of Word to the Weisman that I’ve posted in more than a year, so check it out. You can also get it on Apple, Spotify, etc.
My wife hates to fly. She gets very anxious, more so with each passing year.
I’m pretty good on airplanes. I completely buy into the data that it’s safer to fly than drive, and I know driving almost as much as I know breathing. That’s not to say I enjoy a whole lot about air travel, but I’m pretty calm about the mechanics of it all. It’s one of my few great strengths as a husband.
Turbulence is part of the equation. So many flights have it, and for the most part, it’s a series of speed bumps. You go through through the bumps, and you go on your way.
My wife finds any turbulence deeply unsettling, and if I’m next to her, I take her hand. I try to reassure her. It’s one thing I can reliably do. It’s neither ironic nor coincidental, but on point, that when I proposed to her, it was after midnight on the wet tarmac of the Binghamton, New York airport after a difficult flight from Washington D.C. through a rainstorm.
But sometimes the turbulence gets rough. Really rough. Rough like some hidden hand has picked your plane up in the air and is shaking it. The ride isn’t bumpy, it’s jagged. I’m being jerked around, literally and figuratively. And then my mind takes me places. And I worry about dying.
In some ways, there’s nothing better than being awake in the middle of the night. It’s only a shame you have to pay the price later in the day.
I woke up at 3:30 a.m. and couldn’t get back to sleep. It wasn’t because of these thoughts, but as the next hour passed, it seemed like as good a time as any to get them out of my system.
It was drowned out by the Howie Kendrick grand slam, by Juan Soto teeing off on the fattest pitch of Clayton Kershaw’s career, by Anthony Rendon taking a golf swing at a Kershaw pitch near his shins.
It was smothered by a National League Division Series Game 5 that tore the Dodgers and their fans apart.
But before NLDS Game 5, there was Game 2. And in Game 2, there was one inning, arguably one pitch, that speaks as much to the Dodgers’ Job-like journey through the Octobers of the past seven seasons as any other.
Sometime late in the afternoon, when I began to feel anticipatory stress for the winner-take-all National League Division Series Game 5 at Dodger Stadium, I thought back to the origins of my becoming a baseball fan.
My earliest memories are hazy, but they were all painless. The Dodgers were 1974 World Series losers the first time I watched a Fall Classic, then also-rans the following two years. In 1977, I had my first feeling of disappointment, mostly inflicted by Reggie Jackson, but by then I was deeply, ferociously bound to the Dodgers.
Still, my roots were simply in feeling the game as a game.
During tonight’s game, even before the Dodgers lost their 3-0 lead and ultimately their season, I started to question where my journey had taken me. I’ve suffered through more painful defeats as a fan, more than I care to recall here. But from the moment Walker Buelher walked Stephen Strasburg in the top of the third inning, my tension devolved into relentless misery, despite Los Angeles being ahead. In my life, I don’t think I’ve ever spent so much of a game that the Dodgers were winning so unhappy.
It’s one thing to fear that the Dodgers might lose their lead. It’s another to barely enjoy the lead at all. At first, I cheered as Buehler escaped a couple of jams, but later on, I was slumped on the couch even after the Nationals trailed in the fifth, the sixth, the seventh.
And it’s not because I didn’t think the Dodgers would win. I really did. It’s that I was obsessing about how it would feel and how people would react (including total strangers on Twitter, for heaven’s sake) if the Dodgers didn’t win, rather than simply living the moment. It’s the worst way to spend a baseball game. It’s completely against my ethos. And yet I couldn’t break free.
Now they’ve lost, and people are going to analyze it to death and point fingers and hurl insults and demand heads. I don’t want any part of it. I genuinely don’t care.
During my afternoon recollections, and again now, I thought back to the 91-loss 2005 season, the Dodgers’ worst this century, when I came up with the Losers Dividend. It’s not that I’m looking to return to the days when the Dodgers were postseason outsiders. However, I do think I need to find some perspective again. Baseball is supposed to be fun. That doesn’t mean it can’t hurt. But if you’re not enjoying the happy parts, what’s the point?
I refuse to go any further in my life worrying about whether the Dodgers will win the World Series or not. I will always root for them, but I don’t ever want to have tonight’s experience again. I want baseball to be my Shangri-La, not my prison.
It was August 11, 2018, according to my journal, that I made the decision to put aside the non-fiction book I started working on and dive into trying to write my first novel.
On Sunday — 51 weeks later — I reached the halfway point of the rough draft.
Just to put that in perspective, my first book on the Dodgers, from conception to completion, took about six months. My second Dodger book, took about nine, mostly accomodating the interviews I wanted to do.
Those books came with deadlines, and deadlines haunt you like shadows. You can hide, but you can’t outrun them. So there was no choice but to stay up late, wake up early and give over massive amounts of free time to getting those books done.
But still – a year in, I’m only halfway through a draft that will need heavy rewrites. Why am I doing this to myself?