When I was a kid, many of the insults that I lobbed at people came from TV.
Full House: “Well, pin a rose on your nose.” (Stephanie.) "Go fall on a rusty nail." (DJ.)
Saved By the Bell: “Take a flying leap into a toxic waste dump!” (Jessie, getting pissed at Slater.)
The Flintstones: “Droll. Very droll.” (Fred, usually to Wilma, sometimes to Barney.)
Imagine elementary school-me saying those things. If memory serves, the reception was mostly bemusement: my classmates suspected I was trying to insult them but didn’t really get it, while Pop and Ma seemed to be impressed, as parents are, at what seemed to be a preternaturally clever stringing together of words.
Okay, that is hyperbole. I don’t mean to be theatrical — although, back in 2009, I used to take long walks home from The Ballpark imagining that you would someday propose to me in The Ballpark.
That was of course my first summer as an authentic baseball fan and the beginning of this interminable infatuation project known as never-to-be-sents. I lived on a side of town at just about the polar opposite from The Ballpark, so it was definitely a significant walk. But that’s the effect that dreaming has on me.
There was one song that I kept playing on a loop during these long walks. Are you ready for the cheese and lameness? Brace yourself: it was “Love Story” by Taylor Swift. If you’ve been reading these never-to-be-sents (I doubt you have, so that “you” was really addressed to shippers and the one or two friends who claim to read these from time to time), then that should come as no surprise — I have the mindset of a teenage girl or, at the very least, a girl in college. Depending on how you look at it, that could be disappointing, disheartening, or disturbing. Or maybe none of those.
(I hate to admit that in my old age, I’ve become cynical and wary, and I’ve inched closer to the outright hopelessness that I’ve seen demonstrated with distressing frequency by my own friends, and in abundance on social media. Still, a part of me persistently battles to continue dreaming. Interestingly, the sermon topic for church this Sunday, I’ve learned in advance, will be about persistence.)
"We were both young when I first saw you," opens the Taylor Swift song. And it’s ever so true, because I certainly was young when I first saw you, in addition to the literal fact of you being two years younger.
As the years have gone by since that dreamy summer, life has also, as it tends to do, gone on — an ocean, on which I’m the unwilling passenger of an unreliable boat, nauseous with every wave and even during still waters. Baseball, much as I wanted it to, has done little to inoculate me from this unavoidable reality, though I still listen to the Taylor Swift song from time to time, and for the last few weeks I have been making my way through Rainbow Rowell’s latest sensation, Fangirl — a young adult novel that should not take this un-young adult weeks to finish, except for the fact that I have been savoring every moment and every page, partly out of longing, partly out of a hope that persists with every word: this is me, this is my life, and maybe there could be a happy ending in store if I just wait long enough.
But life doesn’t work according to the narrative in our heads, or even our hearts. The song has changed, Linc — it’s no less romantic, cheesy and/or lame, but it’s now slower. The singer is someone Wolfie, once in many of his infinite guy-ish teasings of me, called Mariah Scary. But I’ve been a lifelong fan of hers and even when she went through that crazy phase at the turn of the millennium, I never thought Mariah was scary.
The song is also called “Love Story,” and the version of it that I’m referring to isn’t even the original album track or the version that was released as a single. There exists a ruminative acoustic that not only confirms the non-scariness that is Mariah’s voice but is the main title theme of my life at this stage of my baseball fandom, of these never-to-be-sents. Remember in Moneyball when Brad Pitt asks, “How can you not get romantic about baseball?”
My love story, single sided as it is, is now a little over four years old and continues steadily, aging as my body and my mindset have aged. When I read that Kanye West had popped the question to Kim in AT&T Park, my reaction wasn’t immediately one of derision but the thought that, wow, I couldn’t have imagined that happening back in 2009. Also, “Kimye” doesn’t instill in me the hatred that is popularly leveled against them, but I do admit to being disappointed that Kanye, who I believe is extraordinarily talented, has done nothing to soften his douchey image; as for Kim, my outlook on the entire Kardashian clan rests squarely within the realm of If you can’t say anything nice…
Nice things aren’t really what I talk about with RQ guy. Um, the only way I can describe our conversations is to quote from this one Drake song I really like at the moment: “You’re a good girl and you know it / you act so different around me.”
Interestingly, I’ve been conversing with RQ guy nearly every day for the last few weeks. At one point, he even texted me a message that gave me pause for its provocation: “I don’t know why I keep talking to you.”
In response, I said something that I thought witty, and he responded in kind despite the evident deflection. Or maybe I’m overthinking it. As I confessed to Gemini, however, lately life has not been easy — that is to say, I know that life isn’t easy, but lately it has become more and more agitating. It is a constant management of one challenge after another, and increasingly I’ve come to rely on every scrap of solace thrown my way. If existence were structured in a way that marriage required only the exchange of clever conversation, then perhaps I would be RQ guy’s wife now. (I use the word “wife” facetiously, not to demean the role, which I revere, but because RQ guy has often pointed out, to which I have merrily agreed, my capacity to be heartfelt in ways that men usually are not. Or maybe I just haven’t met other heartfelt men yet; and anyway, I long to meet just the one.)
The other day, I was out to lunch with Spencer, who I’ve seen less and less these past few weeks even though she has extended one invite after another to go to this ice cream shop or see that movie. Adulthood, or life itself, has been getting in the way, and gone are the carefree days from our twenties when we would drop whatever to go hang out. Over lunch, the subject of RQ guy came up — as it should, since Spencer, being the obligatory gay man’s BFF, is someone I often talk to about these things. For a while, we bantered and cracked up over the things that RQ guy had said to me during these past few weeks, and then the focus shifted to more sobering things.
"Most men aren’t ready for marriage until they’re at least in their forties," she’d said to me while forking a tomato slice. "They date for years until it dawns on them to not date anymore."
I traded for Spencer’s tomato slice with a French fry, as she is actually allergic to the concept of healthy eating and had only recently begun this salad kick when her doctor advised her, despite her pleasingly outward exterior of stereotypical Asian thinness, of concerns related to blood pressure and cholesterol.
The tomato slice was so good that I vowed to eat more vegetables instead of French fries, not just during that lunch but in general.
"The frustrating thing is that I don’t think that way," I said. "I’ve been ready for marriage since I was in middle school. I’m not a hooking up person. I’ve slept with one guy."
All Spencer could do was shrug. I dove onto her plate for a cucumber slice.
"Hey, did you hear that Tim Gunn has been celibate for 29 years?" she asked.
Not only had I indeed heard that, but I’d talked about it with RQ guy.
"Maybe he didn’t think sex was in style anymore," he’d said, to which I’d laughed and felt good, as I so often do when RQ guy talks to me.
"Linc, meet Gemini and Pisces. Gemini and Pisces, meet Linc."
"Um, what are you talking about?"
My imaginary boyfriend, who of course doesn’t exist to begin with — after all, he is imaginary — is sitting next to me in Our Ballpark, in our usual nosebleed seats. And even he, this imaginary boyfriend of mine, in this perfect and imagined evening recreation of Our Ballpark, has begun to suspect I’m crazy thanks to my latest act: introducing him to the empty space next to me opposite of where he is sitting.
"You have reached a new low, Joseph," Linc says, shaking his head. "Now you’re asking me, a person who doesn’t exist, to talk to the empty space next to you? Couldn’t you at least drum up Gemini and Pisces sitting next to you? This is supposed to be your imagination.”
"Don’t do that."
Linc simply offers his hands with palms faced up in a quizzical gesture.
"Don’t call me ‘Joseph’ when you’re scolding me," I tell him. "Mary does that. Clara picked it up from Mary. And then Gemini picked it up from Clara tonight — even Ally’s done it once or twice and she’s never even met any of these people!”
"Do you ever sometimes wonder why your friends scold you so much?"
I cross my arms and grimace sulkily. Linc continues undeterred: “All right, I know who Gemini is. But who is Pisces — and why are your friends named after horoscope signs?!”
Well, not exactly. The people I talk to him about and write about here are composites. Mary, a gal who has been my best friend since high school, may or may not actually be one person. The same thing with all of the rest. If you were to come into my real life — as opposed to Our Ballpark — in search of, say, Gemini, you might be hard-pressed to find the person on whom she is based. Or persons.
"Pisces is her new boyfriend," I say, and then exhale a forlorn sigh, relaxing my prior petulance. "Sometimes I feel like there’s this constant misunderstanding between the universe and me."
Linc repeats my word with disdain: “‘Constant misunderstanding between the universe and me.’ What is your life, Joseph? A cosmic Three’s Company?!”
Now Linc shoots his fingers upward, his palms facing me in surrender, and he’s grinning widely: “Peace, Joe. Peace be with you.”
I’m too upset — upset! at my pretend boyfriend! — to explain what I mean. Not long ago, I set my sights on Filipino men — full-blooded, as opposed to mixes like Linc. I had never before thought to date them because I always thought it seemed like I was dating cousins. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized how absurd that is. And something else has changed: to bring home a Filipino husband to Pop and Ma, who have been accepting but never exactly embracing of my sexuality, might soften them.
Also, there are a lot of attractive Filipino men.
I never thought of men of my own ethnicity as attractive as I now do: their brown skin, their bizarrely shared habit of shaving their heads bald. (What is up with that?!) Their almost universal interest in cars. Suddenly, all of this is extremely appealing in a significant other. Mostly I think about their brown skin, about licking leche flan off their bodies…
So I told the universe that I wanted a Filipino boyfriend. And what did the universe do in return? It gave… Gemini a Filipino boyfriend!
Who, by the way, I met for the first time tonight. She had been talking about him for weeks but our schedules never aligned so that I could meet him. Finally, Pisces had an opening in his calendar and he, Gemini, Clara, and I got together tonight for karaoke.
Because, you know, it’s the Filipino thing to do.
First impression? Pisces is a catch. He’s smart and he looks absolutely adorable. He fits the above description, although I didn’t get around to asking him about cars. (Gemini drove us all tonight. But if Pisces owns a Dodge, then he will be just perfect.) He’s getting his Masters degree in… something that I can’t remember, because I was too busy being happy for Gemini and cursing my lot in life.
I don’t really want to name him Pisces, but Gemini joked about that tonight at dinner, before we went to karaoke. The four of us were sitting around a meal of homecooked lasagna at Gemini’s apartment when she suddenly said to me with a mischievous grin: “So, ___ is a Pisces.”
"Oh yeah?" I asked, casually spearing a tomato slice in my bowl of salad, unaware.
"Yeah. Are you gonna blog about him now?"
My eyes widened at my salad, and then I slowly craned my neck so that I was at that moment locking my frozen, awkward smile with Gemini — whose face was red with laughter. I rarely talk about my blog in real life. I know it’s public. But how often is Wally Lamb accosted on the streets by curiosity seekers hunting for answers about the fate of Dolores Price after she finally saw the elusive whale she’d been seeking?
No, no, I struggled to subtly mouth to Gemini. Except that she was outright cracking up, and when I looked toward Pisces, the smirk on his face was somewhere between alarm and amusement.
"What?" he’d asked with a tentative chuckle.
To my horror, Gemini said: “Joe has this blog and he gives everyone pseudonyms. Mines is Gemini…”
I murdered the tomato slice in my salad bowl as she continued to explain my blog.
Actually, we worked through the rest of dinner with varying fits of laughter and conversation. Pisces and I chatted a lot about the Filipino experience: going back to the Philippines, for example, and how United States military service seems to run in both of our families. As for his opinion of my blog, fortunately Pisces didn’t have a chance to give one as I was able to successfully steer the conversation to other subject matters. After dinner, it was time for karaoke. We went to Japantown. Besides the fact that it was great to be with two good friends, and one new friend, in the same room singing a bunch of songs, I had great fun prodding Gemini into singing. Even though this whole outing was her idea, she stubbornly insisted that she was the type who best enjoyed watching everyone else sing — that is, until Pisces talked her into doing a duet of U2’s “With Or Without You” with him.
I had fun, too. It had been a long Saturday. I missed my first class because of a mandatory job training. After that, my next class seemed really long, for no reason other than how I’d already been through a long morning. (I really like the subject matter, as well as the professor, an entertaining carbon copy of Kevin Kline from In & Out.) Over dinner, when Gemini asked me how training went, I shrugged and explained succinctly: “Minimum wage hell.”
Which only made dinner and karaoke that much more fun.
I should note that the karaoke place we went to was one of those places where the song machine gives you a score at the end of your song. We found that the trick to getting a high score was switching mics during the song, or singing into a single mic at certain angles. It doesn’t really have anything to do with the voice quality, of which I have zilch.
To Gemini’s amusement, one song that I did tonight was “Love Story,” the Taylor Swift song that I, in my fanboyish haze upon first discovering Giants baseball in the summer of 2009, had listened to repeatedly for the remainder of that season. My score from the machine was 24 — poor, yes, but also Willie Mays’ uniform number. All the time that I had spent daydreaming to that song and here at last was the universe’s acknowledgement of my affection — in a karaoke joint, in my thirties. No one noticed me rolling my eyes as I passed the mic to Pisces, whose turn it was to sing.
So if you leave San Francisco, what will your legacy be? Two World Series titles and a gay guy who wrote a blog about you. All right. Not bad.
Even now, this song still occasionally pops up when I listen to Pandora. It’s appearance has been especially helpful lately because I have been more depressed than I initially let on. It’s always been hard for me to open up about myself. I know how strange that admission must sound. Baseball 2.0 is my heart and I wear the damned thing on the whole world.
In between the craziness of going to Buffalo, Europe, and Comic Con nearly one after the other, I’ve been trying to manage school and career. And, of course, looking for Mister Right.
To write about the details of how hard it has been for me to juggle all of that would likely take a never-to-be-sent even longer than what I usually post, if that’s even at all possible given the stretches of TL;DR that I have unleashed on social media. In addition to all that I’ve just described, I have also witnessed life and death: marriages, births, death, illness and, thanks be to God, recovery. It seems corny and naïve to wish that I had the hands of just one man to hold throughout all of life’s stages on which I seem to have hitched a ride all at once this past summer. The fact that I am sitting here, writing this, says that I have endured. But I don’t know if I’m living. This past week alone, I’ve felt as comatose as I sometimes felt in college — and that was in my twenties, Linc. Nevermind writing to you. What is a 31-year old man still doing having existential crises?
And then I hear this song and suddenly it is the thing that brings me back. For now, it is the hand held out.
Yesterday, I had planned to spend the entire day at home. It’s easy to do when you have a tight budget, aren’t scheduled for work at the job that you dread, have a ton of homework, plus a bunch of books from the library. But then I got an e-mail from someone at church who reminded me that I had expressed interest in seeing her kid, a high school junior and one of the most engaging and smartest youth I know, make her debut in an opera. Once I read her e-mail, I did actually remember being happy for her kid and enthusiastic about seeing the opera, at the time. But I wasn’t sure if I could part with the stupor from which I’d enclosed myself: blinds drawn, thick blanket, pajamas. All eerily reminiscent of an angsty, collegiate past that I thought I’d overcome.
I made myself go out, Linc. I couldn’t quite get over the funk that I was in — somehow, I managed to pick out a decent outfit and make the commute downtown without feeling much of anything. The opera was really good, though. There were moments when my applause wasn’t perfunctory, especially during one number that was unexpectedly, but effectively, infused with some jazz flavor. The whole thing was kind of a crazy opera. I’m glad that I went. It felt good to be out in the world, on a Friday night, with a crowd, even though my mind and my whole self just seemed to be asleep somewhere else.
I thought about getting a cheap ticket to watch your start tomorrow. I really wish that I could. But even the cheapest ticket feels like too much of an expense right now. Anyway, I have a ton of homework.
119.0: Time stands still and two hearts catch fire.
Well, now that I’ve got your attention with a Mariah Carey song — I am pretty sure that if you were really reading this, your attention would be drawn less to the romanticism of the song and more to the physicality which even I appreciate — here goes.
It’s been a roller coaster ride, not just since I wrote my last never-to-be-sent, but this entire year. Sometimes there are lulls and the weird, ironic thing is that I get bored during those lulls — like, I wonder why life happens so slowly. Yet when it rains, it certainly pours.
If only you knew about all the paperwork and all the e-mails that I exchanged today alone! It was my day off from work but some of that paperwork actually necessitated that I go into the store and talk to my boss for a few minutes. You know life is crazy when you have to duck into work on your day off. I haven’t done anything like that since my salaried days in marketing. Most of the paperwork had to do with school stuff. I did not expect getting together my finances for school to be a breeze but I am still astonished at all the red tape. As for the e-mails, many of the ones that required the most emotional investment came shockingly from church. You will not believe what an intense commitment church leadership is. I do not even consider myself a “leader.” At best, the semantic that I find most suitable is one that I just made up myself: I consider myself more of a “super-volunteer”. Did you ever see that episode of The Golden Girls when Rose had burnout from so many volunteer commitments to various charities and then she ended up having a near-death experience and became kind of a hippie and she had to move out because the girls couldn’t stand… well, I should probably know by now to never ask you a question that starts with ‘Did you ever see that episode of The Golden Girls…’
I used to think that volunteering was, well, quite frankly for old people, do-gooders, and people who want to make their resumes look good. I do like the idea that being so involved with my church is a good way to put me in touch with the larger community; and, of course, I do it for God. But I also must add that I’ve fallen in love with my church, Linc. I have fallen in love with the friendships, the faith, the music, and the food — the pastor’s husband recently whipped up an incredible chicken dish, which I devoured awkwardly flying in the face of my Lenten commitment to give up meat, an endeavor which has been (mostly) successful — however, unlike in the romantic comedies that I like so much, falling in love is actually a messy proposition and just because it is happening between me and my church doesn’t make it any less messy. It seems to me that the way I conduct myself both in church and with church business is destined to be the way I handle my future whenever-that-might-be marriage.
I have fallen into a pattern of reading YA novels. This popular book genre is best illustrated by, you know, the Harry Potter series or The Hunger Games trilogy. But there’s so much more to it than just the blockbuster stuff, Linc. Lately I’ve been checking out stuff by authors like David Levithan, John Green, and Rainbow Rowell. I would like to think this is merely an extension of my 2009 syllabus when baseball inspired me to revisit the likes of Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume but lately I have felt as if I am on a very different life track where baseball has become this distant, far away, background and even trivial thing. Oh no, Linc — isn’t that also part of falling in love? Not just burnout but growing apart. How do people do it, Linc? How do they keep their marriages going for a long time?
Today when I wasn’t dealing with the lofty business of life I was trying to sneak in some reading time. In the past few weeks I have devoured, among others, Eleanor and Park and Marcelo In the Real World and now I am working my way through the 2012 Time Magazine novel of year — novelof the year, Linc. Not just YA, but Time actually named it the best novel — for YA readers, and for old-A (ha ha, I just invented that) readers. Then I went with some church friends to watch Oz the Great and Powerful and it hit me that today has been a good illustration of my life these days: tackling the world and all of its worldly business while still trying to hold onto dreams and dreaming. When I get overwhelmed by checklists, calendar entries, and e-mails I forget that I was once a kid who actually dreamed of becoming the grown-up who might have to deal with checklists, calendar entries, and e-mails. I would like to remember joy.
Oh, Linc — how I do miss our conversations in Our Ballpark. They used to be real enough for me. Time moved as fast or as slow as I wanted it to move. Stars and galaxies floated in a nighttime sky clear of fog. We sat in those nosebleed view reserve seats while a chill blanketed the air even though we could sit there without need for jackets. I even used to imagine that someday the real you would walk in.
He speaks with a tone that I don’t like: “There’s a game on, you know.”
It is not an infuriating tone, but one that does make me roll my eyes. “Not until two, fucktard. I’m not an amateur.”
His retort comes as no surprise. “Then explain BABIP.”
"Ah, shut up," I say, swatting toward him. He laughs.
Linc, who was only called The Avatar back when he was nameless, leans back in the stadium seat and angles his face toward the unobstructed sun and the blue sky. The Ballpark is ours, as it always is in this parallel universe, this imagined existence. Linc is wearing a simple outfit of jeans and one of those grey tunics that has three buttons down the middle from the collar. If his real-life counterpart were hanging out with me in an empty ballpark, this is how I imagine he’d be sitting.
His eyes are closed as he soaks in the sun. “Who says ‘fucktard’ anymore, anyway?”
My own outfit is much simpler than Linc’s because it is a reflection of what I’m wearing in real life: faded running pants that ought to be replaced sometime soon, and a baggy t-shirt. It is not especially flattering, but I’m not leaving the house today, except to escape here.
"I’m detoxing,” I reply irritably. “I’m here to decompress. You’re not helping.”
In this world, there are always sounds of traffic in the background and the city is exactly as it appears in reality, except that no one’s around and the streets are actualy empty. It is an interstitial reality born from selfishness and yearning.
"Do you think anyone ever sneaks into AT&T Park like this?" Linc asks, sleepily.
"You tell me. You’re the one who works here," I say with a shrug and a yawn. His somnambulism is contagious.
I lean back in my seat the way he does. We’re in the nosebleed section, called “view reserve” in the terminology of AT&T Park. The dugout is just beneath us. This is the kind of day that Jon Miller would find some lyrical way to describe as the perfect day for a ballgame, and as Linc has mentioned, there actually will be in the ballgame here, in the real world. But this is Our Ballpark, and though related to its counterpart, baseball here exists in its own form and dimension.
"The heart of baseball," proclaims Linc. His hand, which had been draped over the arm rest of his seat, moves to drape over my own hand, except that there is no contact. I cannot feel the warmth of his flesh nor the electricity of his touch because I have never experienced them in real life. The appearance of Linc is a cruel manifestation of hologram and apparition, yet I reach for him in return, in yearning.
"Yeah," I reply with a labored, cynical sigh. “‘The heart of baseball.’ Fat load of crap that’s gotten me."
"Hey. Don’t talk like that. I thought you were detoxing."
In the real world, my cell phone is turned off and my calendar is clear. I have a book to read, a story to write and some movies to watch. Perhaps I’ll even listen to the game.
If I think hard enough, I can perceive Linc’s hand over mine as the breezy wake of a ghost that has just spirited away.
It saddens me that one of my good Tumblr buddies is not a Taylor Swift fan. “Love Story” was the anthem of my magical 2009 baseball season. Well, it wasn’t quite so magical for the Giants, who didn’t win the World Series until the next year, but it was magical for me because that was when I got into this whole baseball fandom thing.
I saw Chronicle this weekend. It wasn’t “appointment viewing”. The trailer looked interesting for two reasons: I like super hero movies, and I also like Michael B. Jordan of All My Children and Friday Night Lights fame. But I only ended up seeing it because Spencer and I were bored the other day, and it turns out that she was mildly interested in seeing it as well. This time last year, my first favorite movie was The Adjustment Bureau. In 2012, I did not expect for my first favorite movie of the year to be Chronicle. The marketing for that movie did not do it justice. It was full of surprisingly powerful storytelling and acting. I’m so proud of Mr. Jordan, but his fellow cast members all did quite well, too.
I am a bit of a sentimental person, so Chronicle made me appreciate my friends a lot, especially my guy friends. Which is not to exclude my lady friends, but because Chronicle is about three guys who stumble across super powers, I immediately thought of Ray and Wolfie, minus the super powers. Maybe friendship is our super power.
I am not watching the Grammys.
Is it “Grammys” or “Grammies”?
The house that I’ve been living in for the last two years does not have a TV, but even if we did, I don’t know it if I would be watching the Grammys. When I was a kid, I used to live for that stuff. One of my best friends growing up used to rely on me for the latest scoop. Nowadays, although I use social media quite a bit, I’d make a pretty crappy social media professional. I only live on the outskirts of popular culture. I witness it but I am not a part of it. I am not “in the know,” so to speak. I usually find out about stuff five minutes later. Just ask my good Tumblr buddy, the one who is anti-Taylor Swift. I’m always the last to know about Giants gossip.
If I ever become an important writer, I wonder how closely these blog entries will be analyzed. Let me just now state for the record that they don’t require too much scrutiny. What is written here is all the open book you need to read: I’m a baseball loving, Trekkie warping, Taylor Swifting soap opera fan with a moderate to liberal sociopolitical predilection.
I’ll never become an important writer. Besides, no one ever “becomes” an important writer. You do what you can, and one day, something amazing just happens. Or not. The important thing is to try.
My room is nearly empty. I’m almost done packing. I paid a little extra money to move out of here early — next Sunday, to be exact. I’m finally getting out of this crummy neighborhood. I’ll be living with Wolfie, who is finally moving to San Francisco, except without Lisa. She got a promotion, and one of the conditions of her promotion is that she has to live in Barnaul for a year. She’s a civil engineer and apparently she’s supervising some important construction projects over there. What Wolfie will never tell anyone is that, for someone who is six feet tall, burly and a Krav Maga master, he is actually as sentimental as I am. You’ll need a lot of cheese to go with the whining he’s been giving me about how much he will miss Lisa. It’s all very sweet, though.
I sometimes like to flatter myself by comparing my life to that of a journeyman baseball player who goes from team to team, who is never a star but gets the job done. Such thinking helps me get through another day.