Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Can We Talk About Baseball, Yet?

No. Definitely not. I am too superstitious. I know that simply by writing this now and intending to make this public, I will jinx the Cubs. Because I am responsible for whether or not the Cubs win or lose. Me. Not Lou Piniella or Derek Lee or Jim Hendry or any of the people who actually went to a game this year. Me.

Can you believe that there was a time when I didn't care for baseball? I mean, I always cared about the Cubs, in theory, but there was a time when I compared watching baseball on television to watching paint dry.

As a teenager, I hated most sports on principle (because, you know, us punk rockers were above all that. Only jocks and boring people actually liked sports.) Sure, I would watch the Olympics, but hey, they only came around twice every four years, that hardly made me a sports fan.

Then, in college, I developed an interest in basketball (not coincidentally, this was the early '90s, when Michael Jordan first began acquiring all those championship rings). Watching a game was a tense affair for me. If the game was close, I would hide in a closet during free throws because I just couldn't bear to watch. But then Michael Jordan retired, twice, and watching basketball lost its appeal.

Then Fred started watching Cubs games. Far from being boring, I learned that watching a baseball game was like watching a high wire acrobat working without a net. I came to understand that baseball afforded me more opportunities for unbearable tension, joy, and outright agony. And, if one is a masochist, one really can't go wrong by choosing the Cubs as their home team. I am lucky my parents ended up on the North Side of Chicago (although, up until 2005, Southsiders were no strangers to heartbreak either). I probably wouldn't be having this conversation with all of you if they had stayed in New York.

So here we are and the Cubs are tied for first place in the Central Division.

I tell myself that it won't matter if the Cubs don't win the division. I tell myself that it will really be better if the Cubs don't go to the post season because, really, I don't need another month of this, do I? I tell myself it is better if the Cubs don't go to the World Series because, well, isn't there something epic about being a Cubs fan? (Just ask all those Red Sox fans and White Sox fans how long their joy lasted. Winning only lasts until the following season.) I tell myself that it is only a game. Then I run out of the room because no amount of telling myself anything can make it any easier to watch the next pitch.

You can imagine how stressful the next couple of weeks will be.

Two reasons the Cubs deserve to win the division and the World Series this year

1) It has been 99 years. Do you really want to hear all the variations on One Hundred Years of Solitude that will be trotted out next year if they don't win this year?

2) Must another generation of Cubs fans suffer?

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Thursday, September 13, 2007

First Day Of School

For the past few weeks, Julian has been waking up at 6:30 am, regardless of when he goes to sleep the night before. While I found this to be earlier than I would like from the perspective of needing sleep myself, I was aware that this would serve us well when school finally started. I figured we needed lots of time because he tends to dawdle over breakfast and hates pants. A 6:30 wake up would give us plenty of time to get dressed, eat, and bike to school by 8:15.

So, today was the first official day of school and Julian slept until 8 am.

Which is funny because last night my mom suggested this would happen.

However, in keeping with the abnormal behavior, Julian ate quite a bit of food (mango, strawberries, tofu, string cheese, half a whole wheat tortilla) and got dressed without any fussing. We drove to school.

Otherwise, everything went really well. Julian didn't like the fact that I wasn't able to stay with him in the classroom, but he didn't cry and demand I stay and/or that he go with me. I had a bit of the "my baby is growing up and doesn't need me anymore" twinge, but I think that has passed. All in all, it went well.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Madeleine L'Engle

“Why does anybody tell a story? It does indeed have something to do with faith, faith that the universe has meaning, that our little human lives are not irrelevant, that what we choose or say or do matters, matters cosmically.”--Madeleine L'Engle

When I was seventeen, I went to see Madeleine L'Engle at a bookstore. She signed my copy of The Small Rain. It is still one of my prized possessions.

As a teenager, Madeleine L'Engle was, perhaps, my favorite writer. But then I grew up, read more, and had my head turned by people who considered her writing uncool (not only for its linearity, but also for its faith). And while I still love A Wrinkle In Time, I am older now, the story does not resonate for me as it did when I first encountered it at age ten. The Small Rain, a book which was my favorite, a book which, when I was fifteen, seemed to mirror my own feelings regarding big topics like love and friendship and loyalty, seems simplistic to me now in precisely the way my own teen years seem to be simplistic. While I am now secure enough to argue the literary merits of the young adult writers who have come after (J. K. Rowling being the most notable) and really could care less whether my reading choice are deemed cool, but it has been a long time since I thought about Madeleine L'Engle or read any of her books.

But I feel the loss of her, as I read her obituary, and I feel a bit of emptiness, an emptiness that comes from having turned away from something I dearly loved in childhood, and I realize that there is still so much she can teach me about faith, about life and about writing.

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