Eww. Looking at the pictures of One Direction on that YouTube video really freaks me out.
If I saw One Direction in everyday life, doing everyday things, I wouldn’t give them a second thought because they look totally and utterly like children. The only outreach I’d do is probably a minor temptation to ask them if they are keeping up with their studies, or if they have a curfew to which they should be abiding sometime soon. I feel old, but I’m proud to now be this age — I’m less certain about enjoying catchy songs by an international phenomenon comprised of members who would be indistinguishable kids to me in daily life.
I keep having all these different ideas for what I want to put in a letter but I never seem to have the time to sit down and write them down, or if I do, I only have time to jot out a letter that is not especially meaningful and is only composed of perfunctory language. Does David Sedaris write essays that are not especially meaningful and are only composed of perfunctory language? No. Does my ex-lover Mindy Kaling write essays that are not especially meaningful and are only composed of perfunctory language? Again, no. Do I personally know either David Sedaris or Mindy Kaling? Aside from briefly chatting with David Sedaris at an event where I was selling his books, no.
It’s really tough keeping up with what has been happening in my own life. It’s even tougher when a natural disaster happens like that tornado in Oklahoma City. I think what has made these last few weeks so challenging is the constant push and pull of internal and external struggles: what I want to do with my life; practical responsibilities to maintain toward work, friends, and bills to pay; as well as worrying about my friends themselves, my family, and staying aware of the world at large. I can show you a good microcosm of these struggles by telling you more about my experience as a church leader. We are dealing with so much in terms of how to be socially responsible and a diverse community. It’s not easy being good Christians in a world where Christians have acted so badly. But that kind of reflection is an entirely separate letter.
It’s no wonder there are times when I just want to hide out in The Ballpark. Which I’ll be doing tomorrow. This season, day games have provided me with a much needed respite in the middle of a crazy schedule — although next week I’ll be on vacation for Selma’s wedding. The funny thing is that I didn’t start to think of it as a vacation until basically the last few days. Certainly it’s been on my mind as Selma’s Big Day, but it didn’t occur to me to think of it as something beneficial for myself as well. I wonder if that is an important oversight on which I should reflect. Or maybe it is saying nothing at all and I should not take things so seriously.
When I first started working at the bookstore, I was a full-time events coordinator. It was a role that involved a lot of responsibilities. One day, the general manager wanted to catch up with me to ask how I was acclimating to the role. I was honest and let him know that there was a lot to process but that I was starting to get the hang of all the various procedures and responsibilities of the role. Toward the end of our conversation, he nodded seemingly out of satisfaction over everything I said. But he also seemed visibly detached. What his face lacked in expression he made up for with an overwhelmingly, and unexpectedly poignant question.
“But are you having fun?” he said.
It has been a few months since I left the position to go part-time so that I could have time to go back to school. Did I have fun as an events coordinator? I would say that I realized that even though I was enthusiastic about applying for the position, once I spent some time in it, it became apparent for both myself and my colleagues that I was not the right fit. I’m grateful that they were able to find a role for me on a part-time basis and I still consider working in a bookstore to be a dream-come-true. However, now that I am back in school suddenly the world is once again as rich with possibility as when I was the age of the kids in One Direction. At times I have even found myself thinking to myself, “I want to make a difference.” It is a youthful answer to the decidedly adult question of, “What should I do with the rest of my life?”
I do wonder if, at 31, I am too late to make the kind of difference I could have made if I had instead decided back then the things that I am deciding now. But as soon as I wonder about that kind of thing, suddenly I realize that there isn’t much time to get stuck in that kind of moment, and I have to move on.
Spencer gave me another talk. This time it was to reassure me.
It has not been a good week for my fandom. On General Hospital, one of my favorite actresses, Kristen Alderson, came back after an unplanned absence. (A bunch of contract drama. You know how it is.) But she’s not playing the same character anymore, and that character was one of my favorites. The new character is disappointingly irritating and so is the new storyline to which she’s attached. In fact, a lot of the young kids on the show are starting to irritate me, and I’m not just saying this as the bitter old man that I have been since taking my first breath in the world.
Usually, I think that the storylines of the younger kids are okay — for example, I like the character Molly, and the gal who plays her. I also like TJ, the guy who is her boyfriend, but I don’t like Molly and TJ together. However, I like the relationship between TJ and Shawn, the man who was appointed TJ’s guardian when TJ lost his parents. I do not like this kid Rafe, because even though it’s cool that he is the son of a vampire — don’t ask — the character himself is kind of a whiny brat, and I hate how he’s coming between TJ and Molly even though I don’t like TJ and Molly together. Are you following any of this? Haha. Probably not, but to me these are very critical distinctions.
I also don’t like the way they brought back Morgan. I hate the way he says “bro” all the time now. When this character was still a child, there was no indication he’d grow up to be such a douche. But I guess the show needed a “good brother, bad brother” pair, since Michael is, mostly, the good brother. I hope that Morgan is quickly redeemed, though, because this is getting old. Fast.
Where is your head these days, Linc? Is it a lady? Of course my head will always go there. I think it’s funny how there are so many fangirls who also wonder about this kind of thing. I guess the world is more accepting about this stuff when it comes to girls. One of my friends always makes me feel better about these letters, for example, because I know for a fact that she spends her spare time actively trying to marry a baseball player — not writing never-to-be-sents, Linc, but pushing herself through autograph lines and conveniently making herself available at bars where ballplayers are hanging out. Hell, even Ray knows where your condo in Seattle is! He has friggen driven by it. I don’t know how he knows — or why — but, um, apparently he does.
I am not that much of a fan — yes, there are these letters, but nothing more. I feel bad even having one too many of your bobbleheads on display. One is on the shelf, another is tucked away behind some books. I only have two. I don’t want my room to look like a creepy shrine.
To be honest, I save the true creepiness for my mind. When Ben Franklin advised against venery, he didn’t specify whether or not it was okay to have pleasurable sex with your spouse — which is what I fantasize about, really. People joke about me “needing to get laid,” and that stupid phrase is a whole separate sociological conversation altogether — but maybe they are right. In that I don’t merely need to get laid, however, but that I need a committed relationship, a family. Lasting love. And yes, to have regular sex with the other half of me, whomever that might be. I’m working on it — by working on myself first. It’s why I’m busting my butt going back to school.
When I saw the lopsided score from yesterday’s game, I knew that it was partly because the team overall has been having problems with this road trip but also because you started that game, and so the focus — and blame — would be on you. This was the second strike against my fanboy heart. The third was finding out that the new Star Trek movie made “only” $70M over the weekend.
I’ll tell you the truth, Linc. As big of a fan I can be about certain things like Star Trek, if there isn’t some grand gesture involved, like a lot of people being a fan right along there with me, I can get bummed out pretty easily. I know it’s stupid to rely on that kind of validation, but when I read the first box office reports, I immediately whined to Spencer, “WHY ISN’T THE WHOLE WORLD WATCHING THIS MOVIE?!”
To which she said: “Box office profits never correlate to quality.”
That made me feel a little bit better. And it made me feel better to remind myself that in 2016, the Star Trek franchise will be 50-years old, so there is a moral obligation — moral, I tell you! — to release at least one more movie, even if might very well be the close of a singular trilogy.
Maybe they could spice it up by adding a sub-plot about a gay crew member with a low-level, even boring, job on board the Enterprise whose husband is in a senior and much more dangerous position. Heh.
Listening to this piece of music, I’m reminded of how wonderful Into Darkness was, and that Spencer is right. This piece of music belongs to a part of the movie that is like nothing else I’ve ever seen in Star Trek. The only way I can describe that part of the movie is to say that it feels like a coalescing of many other and different stories that I’ve ever loved — The Fault In Our Stars, Felicity, General Hospital, and yes, Star Trek itself — with seemingly overwhelming disparity between one another, until now. A lot of people saw Into Darkness, but even though I feel spoiled saying it, I wish so many people had watched Into Darkness that it could have broken through the $100M barrier. I will just have to content myself with knowing that it is at least a critical darling.
"In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as pride. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had compleatly overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility."
— Ben Franklin, from his autobiography, which I have to read for class. And for some reason makes me think of baseball, and the character it promotes.
I imagine that when I receive the inevitable news that you have gotten married, the disappointment will be comparable to a recent conversation I had with Spencer.
When we first met in college, I had drifted away from watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My first semester happened during the show’s fifth season, and like many people who made the mistake of not having faith in the storytelling prowess of the great Joss Whedon — can you tell that I’m a little, little bit of a fan…? — I abandoned the show because the sudden introduction of Buffy’s little sister Dawn did not seem to make sense. Also, with the start of college came the start of a new life on another coast, a new life entirely. I couldn’t commit to Buffy.
When I met Spencer a couple of semesters later, she was an uninvited guest who was accompanying a friend and I on a hike. My friend had asked me at the last minute if Spencer could tag along, and I didn’t want to be the jerk that said no, even if the question was asked of me only at the last minute. (We were in our early twenties, which is my excuse for not having any concept of manners.) It was even worse when we swung by Spencer’s place and she strolled out in an especially stylish leather jacket.
I was sickened for two reasons: firstly, it struck me that my friend was probably having her tag along because he was totally just that into her and, secondly, she looked pretty good in that stylish leather jacket, which at that time meant to me that she had to have an accompanying bitchiness. (I know that sounds sexist so, to be fair, I think the same about guys — I see so many guys that look oh, so good. From the bus to the sidewalks, my eyes are constantly wandering, yet at the same time warring with my mind which constantly advises me that though the packaging is good the contents are probably jerks.)
Spencer never wavered from her fandom of Buffy nor of Joss Whedon. She has watched The Avengers probably about as many times as I’ve watched each of the Star Trek movies, which is to say: a lot.
I’ve watched The Avengers one time. I meant to watch it again not long after that first time, but I never got around to it. Which is to say: I liked it, but not as much as Spencer did, and not as much as I’ve liked most of the Star Trek movies. (Even that heinous fifth one where Kirk asks of a terrible special effects alien pretending to be God, “What does God need with a starship?!”) I feel bad that I haven’t watched The Avengers more often because I have often professed to be an unabashed follower of Joss Whedon. I am.
But for me his greatest work will always be Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And there will only ever be one Buffy Summers — with respect to Kristy Swanson, who certainly contributed to the legacy, to me Sarah Michelle Gellar will always ever be the only Buffy Summers.
That being said, years after the show ended, I’ve been clamoring for its return, either as a movie or some other limited-run TV show. I know there are canonical comics — but it’s just not the same. I miss Sarah Michelle Gellar as Buffy. I miss her so much that I even had high hopes for her big return to TV, on a show called Ringer, which I recognized as a flop several episodes in and then it barely lasted its first season before getting canceled altogether. Next season she’ll be back in a sitcom (!) co-starring Robin Williams. I’m excited that she gets to work with Robin Williams — and I’m actually excited that she’s doing comedy. Watching Buffy, you can see that her physicality isn’t just about the action, but there’s also slapstick. Sarah Michelle Gellar can be hilarious.
But I don’t think there will ever be anymore Buffy, not the way that I want to see it.
“Would you expect JJ Abrams to go back to Felicity?” Spencer asked me.
“Yes!” I said quickly. (I loved Felicity, too, by the way.)
I knew her point, though.
Did you know that Sarah Michelle Gellar also once popped up on Sex and the City? Man, in high school, I hated that show. I was convinced that it was immoral — yeah, really. But then I started watching it more and then my life started going in a direction where I could find myself relating to the characters. There’s a prequel show on right now called The Carrie Diaries, and I admit that I read the book on which that prequel show is based, and that I liked it. There’s another Carrie now, since it’s a prequel and all, and I hear she’s actually pretty good. But I haven’t gotten into it because, well, it’s just not the same.
Selma’s fiance made me buy new shoes for the wedding. Keep in mind this is Selma’s fiance, now, and not Selma herself. Selma could care less what shoes I wear. When I told Selma’s fiance the kind of dress shoes I have, he actually said to me, “Maybe it would be best to get different shoes.”
I don’t mean to make him sound like a jerk. He’s not. We’re both Trekkies, so he already scored points with me a long time ago. But this shoe requirement required me to devote a singular but intensive hour in the middle of a packed schedule yesterday to the act of shopping in consideration of 1) budget; 2) style; 3) honor. You know me, Linc: only I can turn shoe shopping into an existential nightmare.
About number three: the thing is, I’m giving a toast. I’m also in the wedding party. I’ve known Selma since we were twelve. Should I invest in a decent pair of shoes that might be a little beyond my budget but will return lasting values, lasting memories? Should I honor Selma’s special day by dressing a little better than I usually do? I will. I do.
You should have seen me walking around yesterday, Linc. I was such a poseur, with a big shopping bag slung around my shoulder like I was some sophisticated urban guy! I have to admit that I felt like I was channeling a little bit of Carrie Bradshaw — okay, a lot. I even happened to walk past a movie theatre with a marquee advertising that it was playing this new documentary that I want to see called, get this, Scatter My Ashes At Bergdorf’s. But I have to admit that the first time I saw the trailer for that, my first thought was that Bergdorf’s was way too expensive for my blood. If I were going to have my ashes scattered anywhere that wasn’t AT&T Park, then it would be Macy’s.
I know that today is a problematic day for you. Ever since I first read in some article a few years ago about your feelings about your mom, I haven’t read much else about the matter. Maybe you haven’t given it much thought — baseball players, after all, are supposed to remain focused on baseball, at least during the regular season, and who knows what you think about during the rest of the year.
I wonder if the image of goofy aloofness that you project so skillfully conceals a racing mind. Supposedly, Geminis are known for that sort of thing. I recently blew a couple of bucks on some astrology book that I’ve been reading at work during idle moments. I had finally decided to buy it because no one else was, possibly because of the crease in the spine that I was at least partly responsible for creating from of my repeated perusal.
Astrology is not something that I “believe” in, per se, but I think it’s fun, and sometimes it is inspiring to think that the predictions and descriptions apply just to me, or at least people like me. The book says that you, as a Gemini, have a mind that is constantly racing. Your mind is always thinking about something, or about many various somethings, and this I found amusing because the image that you project is so convincing that, quite frankly, I would be a little surprised to know you are consumed by anything existential…
Aries are supposed to be leaders. I’ve never seen myself as a leader. I have always thought of myself as more of a helper but whenever I’ve consulted a second, third, and fourth pair of eyes about my resume, I am consistently told that I need to project myself as taking the lead. This is apparently what works in the workforce.
A couple of letters ago, I mentioned that I’ve been using social media to help guide me along my career. To tell you the truth, the idea of what I want to do with my life has crystallized only within the last couple of years. As I’ve mentioned before in other letters, becoming a fan of baseball really helped with that. I’ve spent my whole life thinking that I want to become a published author, and even though I would still like that someday, something else has entered the picture, some other goal that consists of my own interests and goals while aligning with Pop and Ma’s own hopes for me and, ultimately, the realities and practicalities demanded of the world.
It hasn’t been an easy thing to do, Linc. These kinds of revelations have been happening to me all of my life — I become consumed with something that I want to do, and then I do it until I can’t anymore, like writing. And then I am forced to try something new.
Hopefully this something sticks and, you know, the thing is that I think it will. I think I’m lucky this time: being consumed with something that I want to do, and being at a point in my life where my own interests are in such wonderful alignment with the rest of the world. Stubbornly, I’ve played a kind of lone wolf all these years. It’s romantic… in youth. And when youth ends, I think, the rest of your life can begin.
So now I am on this human resources kick. It’s what I want to study now that I am in business school. It’s the kind of internship or low-level starter job that I want to have while I am in business school. It’s the kind of career that I want to have in the near future.
I am not entirely certain why human resources took so long to come to mind. Maybe I just needed to endure the natural progression of the years to understand that all of my work in customer service and admin assistance in tandem with this indefatigable and seemingly congenital drive to get along with so many different kinds of people was all meant to crystallize into human resources. Also, there is a concentration on public policy available at my school and when I think about declaring that concentration, my chest soars with expectation. Lately I have been thinking a lot about the politics of labor…
I don’t know why I am telling you all of this. I don’t really know why I have spent the last four years telling you a lot of This. You will notice that I have dispensed of “never-to-be-sent” and referred to these things as, finally, just letters. When I started Baseball 2.0, the conceit was that it would be a blog of unsent letters to you written as a public and living memoir — or, put more simply, a regular ol’ blog where I write about my days and other various #firstworld idiosyncrasies that are stylized, perhaps presumptuously, as letters. Never-to-be-sents. Whatever. They’re letters, and even though I keep saying out loud that I know you will never read them, anyone who reads them knows that I feel differently in the privacy of my heart.
It has been an undertaking with a presence in my life significant enough that I’ve included it as part of my repertoire. That’s kind of a risky move. The field of human resources is necessarily conventional — there are policies with which to comply, standards to uphold, all of it constructed upon a firm ground of trust and good character. My background as a writer could, justifiably, be called into question. But that’s part of policy, and politics: explaining yourself.
Do you have a resume, Linc? Let me be straight with you. (Har har har. If this were an episode of The Golden Girls, at this moment I would have glanced at an ajar angle toward the frame of the scene and ever-so-subtly away from the audience as kind of snarky self-referential acknowledgement of the hilarity of my saying “let me be straight”.)
Anyway, you should consider having a resume. You should have a follow-up plan. Baseball history has shown that when a player’s career comes to an end, his options are limited. Some are lucky enough to put their college education, if they have one, to good use. Many end up finding other kinds of work in baseball or, sadly, pursuing questionable business schemes. Unless you’ve developed a forecast in which you’ve budgeted all of your millions of dollars so that you can basically give yourself a paycheck on a regular basis if this baseball thing ends up having to come to an end, you’ll have to go into something else. Have you ever thought of doing anything with your life outside of sports? In response to that question, I find myself amusingly thinking of the SportsCenter commercial where you’re sitting at a desk awkwardly trying to use a computer mouse. Maybe you do think about stuff like this. That’s what Geminis are supposed to do. Who knows.
I’m accumulating a small collection of polo shirts.
The last polo shirt that I had, I threw it out because it was this shade of lime green that didn’t go much with anything; and I never replaced it because I wasn’t into polo shirts to begin with — until now.
So far, I have two polo shirts. One is purple and the other is orange. I have never been much of a clothes shopper. For one thing, I never have the money, so when I do shop for clothes, it’s at secondhand stores. Lately I have taken to going back to Macy’s, which I have not done regularly since I worked at my better-paying content editor job last year. Macy’s has good prices. Being there also reminds me quite a lot of my childhood. Ma loved department stores and still does. When I am at Macy’s by myself, I can’t help but simultaneously be in the present, as an adult trying to find his way in life, and as the childhood accompanying his mother up the escalator, dreaming.
I know it seems pretty insignificant and mundane to report on owning two polo shirts. How comically #firstworld. Right? But then again, when through these never-to-be-sents have you known me to report on something sugary — all sweetness, no substance? Having the beginnings of a polo shirt collection reminds me so much of Pop. For as long as I can remember, he has enjoyed wearing polo shirts. He still does. In his youth, when I was barely a toddler but old enough to remember these things, he even popped the collar. Yeah, in his youth, my dad was fashionable!
Cologne is too expensive. But I wish that I could buy. Lately I have taken to idling my time at Macy’s trying out different colognes and even dabbling the one that I like best on my neck. Spencer isn’t a fan of artificial scents, and because of that I refrained from wearing cologne a few years ago. Since then, I’ve lost the one and only bottle of cologne I ever had, which incidentally was from Pop, who wore cologne with his polo shirts, of course. But I think that I’d very much like to go back to wearing cologne. I am realizing that I like it when a man has a signature scent — not too overpowering, like how amateurs, mostly kids but also many misguided men, practically bathe themselves in the stuff. Just a hint. There’s maturity in knowing when you’ve put on just enough. I’m also realizing that if I want to attract the kind of man that I like, then I ought to become my own man first. Enter polo shirts and cologne samples.
I love my parents. I like that I am becoming like them.
Yesterday I went to a pro soccer game. I am not going to lie, Linc: I have never had any interest in soccer, playing it for fun with my friends, playing the video games — which I have read that you like to do — and most especially in watching pro games. Zero interest. I went to an Earthquakes game yesterday because a game ticket was included with this sports networking event thing that I signed up for. For the last few weeks — hell, for this entire year so far — I’ve been busting my hump trying to set a direction for myself, and the idea of working in sports has persisted since 2009. What I liked about going to the Earthquakes game was how homegrown it was. The whole organization is pretty much a startup. Major league soccer has yet to take off here in the states, but the thing is, it could. There’s a very real chance of that. And when I was sitting in the tiny stadium, getting cozy with everyone on the bleachers around me — all the seats were bleacher seats — moving my head to the tune of the tribal drumbeats (!) in the distance, it felt kind of amazing to be part of the start of something.
It sounds melodramatic to keep crediting my interest in baseball as the thing that finally drove me to start doing Something, with a capital ‘S’, with my life. But melodramatic as it is, in 2009, when I sat down to that fateful Giants game, I was struck with what the author Mal Peet describes as a Road to Damascus moment. But I wasn’t converting to anything, Linc. I already had an existing set of values, dreams, hopes and wishes that were suddenly clarified. This does not, of course, mean that a happy ending has come so easily. It’s not even here yet. Four years after getting into baseball, the hunger of my bank account and marital status are nothing to brag about. But the difference between now and then is that… I feel like I might, at long last, be getting somewhere.