I’m Writing again — er, obviously I’m writing. I’m writing this never-to-be-sent, for example.
But this is what I mean when I say writing with a capital ‘W’: I’m writing a story, an actual story. I haven’t attempted anything like that in a long time. It’s getting harder to get a story started. I used to be able to write them with the same ease and frequency that I write these never-to-be-sents; sometimes I have even finished entire manuscripts, which are best left collecting virtual dust in their computerized file folders, but at least there are finished manuscripts.
It’s not all good news. The timing for this sudden burst of Writing could not be worse. My schedule is all over the place. I feel overextended, although I don’t do it on purpose. If something comes up that I want to do, and there is an opening on my calendar, then I will most likely pencil in that something. For example, I had to skip church yesterday because I got some hours at work thrown at me, and I always need the hours. Always. But to make up for it, our church’s nascent LGBTQ group was going to go out for drinks afterward, and so I agreed to go to that. We hadn’t gotten together in a while and the plan was to reconvene and catch up, have a good time, talk about the most pressing LGBTQ of the day — marriage equality, transgender rights, soap operas. (No one else in the group is a General Hospital fan, but this one guy loves Days of Our Lives, which I used to watch, and it’s kind of different from General Hospital, to be honest with you, because you can stop watching it for years and still know exactly what’s up. Was anyone really surprised that Sami would end up with EJ? I saw that coming way back when Susan gave birth to him while Stefano was standing nearby in an Elvis suit… OK, I’m rambling.)
I really wanted to meet up with them for drinks, I really did. But work turned out to be a long day (not in an especially bad or even eventful way; it was just a long shift on top of everything else on my mind these days) and as I got closer to the end of my shift I was feeling relentlessly burned out. So, I gave my friend a text, conveyed and owned up to my flakiness, and then proceeded to not go have drinks after work.
I didn’t go home either, though. According to my therapist, with whom I talk about such things, among others, the true definition of an introvert is a little bit different from the one commonly known, in which introverts keep to themselves and are anti-social. We are not. Introverts love being with people in addition to going solo. The extra difference is that they need that solo time to recharge. By the way, if you want to make a masturbation joke, go ahead. I figure your mind already went there, especially if your thinking is anything like Wolfie’s. I tried to explain this introvert stuff to him the other day and once I mentioned the notion of alone time, his mind went triple-X on me, and not in the Vin Diesel movie way, which is ironic because my mind also tends to go triple-X when I think of Vin Diesel, but not in the movie way, and now I’m rambling again…
At some point during work, I was stricken by a craving for chicken tikka masala. But seeing as how I am now gradually becoming more vegetarian, for dinner I went out and ordered vegetable tikka masala instead. Also, I took out my notebook and wrote. I’m only on chapter two. It will be a while before this gets anywhere, if it gets anywhere. For a long time, I had a fantasy that maybe my never-to-be-sents could one day become a book. The material is already here. All that needed to happen was for some publisher or agent to find it. Blogs get turned into books all the time, after all.
Well, not “all the time,” after all. There are some high-profile successes but in the grand scheme of things it’s mostly kind of a pipe dream. Unfortunately with all dreams of celebrity, even the comparatively harmless dreams of literary celebrity, the danger is in wishful thinking, of which I did plenty: oh, maybe Tim Lincecum really will read these someday. Maybe a publisher will. Maybe they both will.
But probably not. After almost four years of doing this, I think it’s time to try an actual story; so, I’m still going to keep writing my never-to-be-sents, because it’s fun and who knows? Maybe you will write back one day. As for the story itself, as for the thing that I am hoping will become a book, what I can tell you for right now is that it is going to be a Young Adult novel. Also, it’s an interesting coincidence that Solange Knowles, whose music I am quite into these days, became a mom when she was seventeen. I did not know this. One of the main characters in my new story also became a parent at seventeen.
It certainly helps that YA literature is a hot property right now. But I’m not just writing for a profitable market; if that were my only reason for starting this story, I would have tried to scrape something together ages ago. The thing is, it wasn’t until my coworker sucked me into reading a ton of YA lit these last few months that it occurred to me that the YA writing style is one I can tackle. In fact, even in drafting just two chapters, I am wondering if it might have been my style all along. Anyway, you didn’t think that I could read all of those amazing YA books and not be moved to try and write something of my own, did you? Oh, and also, I realized that the dream of turning my blog into a book is kind of mean — like, the stuff is already online for free, and I was dreaming about putting it all into a book to sell to people? Capitalist pig.
As you might imagine, I felt bad for skipping church. My pastor is one hell of an intuitive human being because she randomly dropped me an e-mail describing what her sermon would be. “Hope to see you there,” she wrote.
Like with most sermons at my church, her topic was going to be something immediately relevant to my life. This kind of coincidence always happen to such a degree that the cynical part of me wants to believe it is nothing more than happenstance, a lucky, albeit frequent, shake of the cheapie 8-ball. Fortunately, there is a reformed Christian belief system out there that believes in something called “God’s providence” — fancy talk for coincidences meaning Something, with a capital ‘S’.
The pastor was nice enough to send me a transcript of her sermon. I haven’t read it yet, but you can bet that I will. Also, it turns out that I picked up another Sunday shift, and like I said, it’s not practical for me to turn down hours; so, I won’t be at church again next Sunday. Hey, you should go in my place! Oh wait, that’s right. Firstly, that’s the last game of a Dodgers series. Second and lastly, you’re only my imaginary boyfriend. And C, the game starts at the same time church does. Ah well.
I was reading the blog of a recent follower and a version of this song started playing in the background. There is a remix that I like by an outfit called the RAC, and I’m including that remix here. There is a very appealing and affirming coincidence to the fact that the original song itself was part of an album released in 2009, the year that I got into baseball.
My mind is going crazy with all the synchronicity with which I have lately been surrounded. In fact, the effect is literal: right now, I have a headache because my mind is dizzy from so much coincidence, but I can’t really do anything about it until I’ve had breakfast. What I want to do to combat this headache is take some Tylenol (we who are under Coumadin for life can’t take aspirin) but I know that I am going to be sick if I don’t first have any food in my stomach.
Back to synchronicity. Yesterday, I went to church. That should sound as no surprise, since I have portrayed myself to be a church-going kind of guy. But I was thinking of skipping it. I have been thoroughly sucked into The Brothers K and it sort of hurt to take a break from it even if it was for a good reason like church. The funny irony is that I am reading The Brothers K for my book club — which is part of church. (No, we don’t only read religious books. Really, we read anything — and, in fact, I think that The Brothers K is the first book that we’ve read that has anything religious, even if religion is just one of many themes in it.)
It was during Sunday morning when I was thinking of skipping church service, which as I have written before, is held in the evening. That morning, I was taking a little break from reading the book — I had just burned through 55 pages in one sitting, and when you read that much all at once, you have to do something else for a little while — so I went online and bummed around. I already had it in my mind that I was going to go ahead and not go to church. But then I went on Facebook and my pastor had posted a link to a New York Times op-ed entitled — get this — The Benefits of Church.
Our pastor is an easily accessible person. In fact, I have her cell phone number, and sometimes I text her completely silly messages, like this one time a few months ago when one of my Pandora radio stations was playing a string of Christian pop songs out of the blue even though it wasn’t a Christian pop song radio station. (Speaking of synchronicity.) Her response to that text message was, “Haha,” which either meant that she was genuinely amused by how stricken I was about the coincidence, or a polite way of saying, “That’s nice but please don’t text me unless it’s church-related.”
I had thought about texting her that I was probably not going to church, which would have been the second Sunday in a row that I was absent, due to my skipping out last week to partake in my birthday, the celebration for which I had extended to the whole weekend. It would have been the most absences I’ve had from church in 2013. (Such is the lot of baseball fans that we examine life through the lens of that game, in which streaks matter.) But without even texting her my thought, that op-ed piece materialized seemingly out of the blue and seemingly in response to the feeling. As for the op-ed itself, it made some good points.
Social support is no doubt part of the story. At the evangelical churches I’ve studied as an anthropologist, people really did seem to look out for one another.
We’re not an “evangelical” church but I understand that point. Here’s another related point:
Certainly many churchgoers struggle with behaviors they would like to change, but on average, regular church attendees drink less, smoke less, use fewer recreational drugs and are less sexually promiscuous than others.
The examples in that quote are not behavioral problems that I’ve struggled with, per se, but yes, there are some things about myself that I have changed. It’s a risky proposition to give one’s church credit for the improvements made to behavior and character because one never wants to convey the notion of a cult or some otherwise fringe type of being — the culprit instead is God, who led me to this church, who exposed me to situations and brothers and sisters who have made me reconsider my life and my choices both big and small; for example, I swear less, which is something that I’d been wanting to work on anyway, but being in an environment in which everyone carefully considers their language has helped me more than I was ever able to help myself in that department. On the other end of the spectrum is my decision to go back to school. For a small church, our congregation is quite diverse, but I have been especially moved by how many accomplished people there are — people with interesting jobs and college degrees. Without going to church, particularly this church, I might have just rested on my laurels, to employ a cliché that is nevertheless true. Without church, I might have just thought a lot of nice thoughts about what I want to do with my life without actually doing anything.
I am sometimes asked how I am able to keep up with my own crazy schedule. For example, today is my day off but as I write this the hour is nearing seven in the morning and I have been up since six. Here is one simple reason: lately the weather has been very good. Not only has it been sunny, but it has been warm, too. When I look out of the window and see how beautiful the world is, it makes me want to do something with my own life so that I can be part of the world out there. Existence is dynamic and bright and shiny and I want to feel like I deserve to be part of existence rather than just merely existing.
But another reason why I keep such an intense schedule falls under the banner of Things I Have To Take Care Of, which includes those aforementioned nice things. A few days ago, I came to the disheartening conclusion that I have to unregister from one of my summer classes. It makes me really sad, Linc, but after I crunched the numbers it turns out that I am going to have a financial aid shortfall if I go forward with three classes. If I only take two classes this term, I’ll have some extra money that I can use for books and whatever else I need to, but the major point is that I won’t have to be sweating bullets about how to pay the remaining balance. I spent about a day being bummed out about this, processing it, and then moving on. I still believe that financial aid is a useful tool but the best way I’m going to pay for this expensive but quality education is to try and nab myself a job that pays more than where I am working now. The trouble is that I don’t just want any ol’ job, Linc. I’ve spent my whole adult life thus far getting jobs just because I can get them — I’m computer literate, dependable, and I’m a people person. These are all good qualities for an admin assistant or a customer service professional, both of which I have been nearly my whole adult life. Even being a bookseller, which was on my bucket list until it actually happened, is really just customer service; I certainly love being a bookseller, but I’ve been busting my butt trying to find something new to try, which is why I get up early on days that I don’t have to.
If I hadn’t gone to church yesterday, I might have not found out until later that someone whom I consider a good church friend is leaving this summer. We had all known that he was thinking of moving away. He was not happy with himself professionally so he started applying to grad schools. He also happens to be from Maryland, which also happens to have one of the best schools for the stuff that he wants to study; in fact, we went to rival high schools, a fact that I enjoy sometimes reminiscing with him. But I find myself a little heartbroken that the Bay Area was not able to provide the missing piece of the puzzle that would have completed his life here because, otherwise, it’s here that he found true love and it’s here that he found a church he was able to finally call home. And, you know, Linc, I really like him. He cracks me up. He’s kind of sassy. He’s really funny. He kills it when he plays the piano. He has a weird habit of twisting his hair during idle moments when people are usually twiddling their thumbs. I’m really going to miss him. I understand when people have to leave for these kinds of reasons but I still cannot help feeling sad that, unlike me, they were not able to call this place home, too.
The Brothers K is set right smack dab in the middle of the Cold War, a fact that is remarkable in and of itself, but it also struck me as intensely coincidental that this is the book that I chose to read after finishing Life: An Exploded Diagram. As I mentioned before, I procrastinated quite nastily on The Brothers K, and that’s mainly due to my nascent infatuation with YA lit. I scheduled Life: An Exploded Diagram to be the last book to cut in line in front of my long-gestating commitment to The Brothers K. Some two hundred pages into The Brothers K, I came to the stunning realization that both books take place during the same time period. In the singular parallel world of these books, it is the 1960s. Life: An Exploded Diagram takes place in England. The Brothers K, in Washington — not my Washington, Linc, but yours. There was no agenda on my part, no theme of reading two books, one after the other, that took place in the 60s. The time had simply come for me to finally pick up The Brothers K so I could finish it in time for my book club meeting. It turned out to be one of those times that I needed Tylenol.
What I mean is this: this morning, I had just gotten out of the shower. I was putting the finishing touches on putting on my face — yes, besides genetics, there’s a whole regimen involved with looking this young — when I sat down at my computer to pass the time away while my face, you know, also sat with all the stuff that I had applied to it. Also, I was having a lazy, idle moment, and I wanted to browse the web just a short while longer before I needed to get the rest of the day started.
I hit some random button on my keyboard to switch off the screen saver; it turns out that the last thing I was looking at on the web was Facebook, which I didn’t click off before taking my shower.
So, there’s my Facebook news feed, and it’s the first thing that I see when the screensaver goes away — and then suddenly on the news feed a new item materializes from your Facebook page. It’s one of those parenthetical posts that is accompanied by the attribution “Posted By Team Lincecum.” (Assuming that you, yourself, are not involved in this function of your promotion, I have not discerned whether or not there is a pattern or otherwise some methodology involved with what constitutes a “Team Lincecum” post and what does not.) The posting is a link to an article about how the Giants could gain some ground in their shaky season performance thus far because of this series against the Padres, who have, it seems, not been doing well thus far this season. The link was accompanied by the comment: “Tim takes the hill today against the Padres!”
I hit ‘Like’.
Just like that. It took me all of a handful of seconds to read the comment and what the link was about (without actually clicking on the link) and then, nearly within the same breath, I clicked on ‘Like’.
It made me crack up, at myself.
That posting had been published only “a few seconds ago” according to Facebook’s own time stamp and already I had hit ‘Like’!
I felt vaguely stalkerish and, still chuckling to myself, I sheepishly muttered, “That was an accident,” as if I had to explain to someone my seemingly instinctual Facebook-liking of a post from your page — and then, still embarrassed, I thought about un-Liking it. I started moving the cursor over to ‘Unlike’ and then… changed my mind because I thought, What the hell, who cares? No one will know unless I say anything, which, I suppose, I now am in this-never-to-be-sent.
It’s going to be four years since I became a baseball fan and there are still many dynamics about this plane of reality I am trying to understand. That’s why I keep making what Ray calls mistakes, like listening to baseball gossip that doesn’t really have anything to do with baseball itself. That’s why I am still reading lots of books about baseball. When something is interesting to me, I let it pull me into its orbit; willingly, I follow its energy. In 2009, I decamped from my plane of reality at that time and started to follow baseball. I’m still following.
I work a short shift today and I have been tempted to see if I can score a cheap seat at your start tonight. But I have this enormous mountain of laundry to do and I’m about to run out of underwear. Also, I have to read The Brothers K by David James Duncan for a book club meeting on Wednesday night. I have had two friggin months to read this book, which is so dense that the book club leader let us all skip last month’s meeting so we could have more time to read. For two reasons I am not going to say where in the book I am because 1) I lobbied hard for this to be the book selection that opened our spring season, so it’s a little unfortunate and disappointing that I am so behind as I am on a book that I was initially very passionate about and 2) I think they sometimes read these never-to-be-sents.
To tell you the truth, I’ve kind of lost the will and the rush to go through The Brothers K, but I am sure that everything will be OK when I pick it up again. I am sometimes stubborn like that in how it takes me a while to do something that I ought to be doing anyway, and then when I finally do the thing, it turns out that I really wanted to be doing it all along. Anyway, finishing The Brothers K will at least liberate me to continue along my reading queue. I really want to get started on Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In. I’m still following baseball, but now the new thing to which I have let myself be pulled along for the ride is the world of business, for which I am going back to school. One of the methods I am employing to motivate myself is the cheesy but nevertheless tried and true method of seeing How Others Do It. I’m even going to hang up a Sheryl Sandberg poster in my room — no, really, there is such a thing. We have this really great-quality promotional poster in the store and I have already asked our merchandising supervisor if I can have it when we’re done displaying it.
Probably you are wondering why of all people I want to have an enormous photo of Sheryl Sandberg on my wall. (By comparison, one of your bobbleheads is displayed, prominently, on the bookshelf — in a corner — and another of your bobbleheads is tucked away, because of convenience or lack of space or laziness, behind some books.) For starters, I don’t know much about her — other than that she seems very cool. They say that she is second-in-command, after only Mark Zuckerberg, at Facebook. She also has kids — it just seems awesome and impressive to me that she is such an important business leader and that she is a family woman, and I want to read about how she does it. Her book is aimed mostly at women but one of the stereotypes about us gay men that is nevertheless true is that women have been better role models, at least for me. Look, I love Pop, but the first people in life that I looked up to as role models were Ma and Grandma. Pop was and is a hard worker but I didn’t really know him in those days. Ma and Grandma were the ones most often in my life. I looked to Ma as a role model because of how hard she worked in her professional life, and I looked to Grandma as role model because of the hard work that she took on with family life in terms of helping raise me and helping Pop and Ma keep house and home. From there, it all spiraled — the first fan letter that I ever sent was when I was, like, six or seven, and it was to Chelsea Clinton. (All right, I was really only writing to her to get to Socks, but that’s beside the point.)
Good luck with your start tonight, Timmy! (Yes, I like to sometimes cross over the hazy patina that divides these never-to-be-sents between an imaginary boyfriend and the actual person from whom he is derived.) After four years, to tell you the truth, my fandom for you has shifted from what was at first the simultaneous and breathless admiration for your athletic ability and hotness. I never truly believed that we would ever meet, but if we did, it would be very interesting to be your brother. I truly wonder what it would be like to shake your hand and discuss these letters. I also still wonder what it would be like to kiss you. Ew, well.. thank goodness that we’re not actual brothers.