28 February 2009

I am Manny Ramirez

I get to play baseball for a "living"; people pay me to play a game.

I can hit a baseball a long, long way. I drive in a lot of runs. I can't really play defense, but then I don't really need to.

I am completely full of myself, and I know how to play "the game." Last year I got sick of playing for the Boston Red Sox, so I started loafing, not running hard, faking injuries, etc. while still drawing a salary of well over $100,000 per game. I was rewarded by being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, where I hit a ton and led my team to the playoffs.

I have been a free agent since the end of last season, which means I can play for any team I want, so long as they want me. And really, who wouldn't?

Remember, I am Manny Ramirez.

I am thirty-six years old, and probably have less than five productive years left in the game.

I've been offered a contract with Los Angeles three different times this off-season, each one paying over twenty million dollars per season, and I have turned all three down.

I turned down an offer yesterday that would have paid me twenty-five million dollars for this season, and twenty million dollars for the season afterwards.

I turned down this offer because it isn't "fair." A "fair" offer would pay me closer to thirty million per season, for four years.

I turned down forty-five million dollars, guaranteed. No matter the economic situation, once the ink was dry (had I signed) I would have been guaranteed that money.

I turned down forty-five million dollars!

Don't you wish you were me?

In a perfect world (I am no longer Manny Ramirez-I am just the humble scribe of this blog) Manny Ramirez will go by the way of Latrell Sprewell, who a few years back turned down a fourteen million dollar deal from the New York Knicks because it wasn't enough, citing that he had "a family to feed." The Knicks told him to go scratch, and he hasn't really been heard from since.

I loved baseball when I was a kid. I have kept trying to love it as an adult. This is always difficult, as I am a Cubs fan. It is harder now than ever, knowing that someone has the stones to turn down FORTY-FIVE MILLION DOLLARS and will probably wind up getting it sooner or later.

If Ramirez winds up getting that type of money from the New York Yankees, I can only wish for the hallowed new grounds of Yankee Stadium to shake, rattle and roll on opening day, and then open up, swallowing every overpaid athlete into the bowels of the Earth (OK, spit out Derek Jeter, as he seems like a nice enough guy), never to be heard from again.

Forty-five million dollars! And Ramirez treats it like an insult. How can someone be so out of touch? And why isn't he being laughed out of the country?

If you make $100,000 per year, you'd have to work 450 years to earn forty-five million dollars. That sounds like one hell of a rat race.

22 February 2009

Fourteen months

As of Saturday, Desmond has been around now for fourteen months. We celebrated by going to get his very first haircut-hard to believe that the kid who had a natural mohawk for about the first seven months of his life needed one. Aside from a little discomfort when the electric razor trimmed the back of his neck, he was fine.

Getting your haircut must be tiring at that age, because he fell asleep around 5:30, shortly after we got home, and he is still upstairs sawing wood and has barely stirred. When he was an infant I felt the need to check on him while he slept all of the time, waiting until I could discern that his chest was rising and falling, sometimes putting a finger under his nose to feel his exhalations if it was taking too long. I don't check on him when he sleeps now nearly as much; he flops around all over the place and actually sleeps quite loud. I'll poke my head in when I am going to bed for the night, and then he normally wakes up as soon as my head hits the pillow. He is uncanny that way.

Fourteen months. Might as well be fourteen years because it gets harder and harder with each passing day to remember a time when he was not around. And I cannot believe how sentimental I've become in that time. It's impossible for me not to think about everything in terms of what it means for my kid first. Before all this I never thought of myself as the type of person who would want to see their kid get his haircut for the first time, but I really, really wanted to be there today. I'm not a fan of the type of place it was-too cheesy with everything available to make kids unafraid of getting their haircut; what's wrong with just plopping the kid down in a chair and cutting his hair?-but seeing Desmond's reaction in person made my day.

Yep, I'm getting soft. I'm sure age has something to do with it, but I react to everything now in terms of being a parent. Last night I watched a fictional TV show where a fictional woman lost a fictional four month-old fetus, all I could think about was how emotionally painful that experience has to be. Kristen and I watched
Juno tonight (somewhat over-rated, and I hated how Jason Bateman's character turned out to be a dick) and throughout the entire movie all I found myself thinking about was how these imperfect (fictional) characters were making decisions that would affect an unborn (fictional) baby. And when the fictional adoptive mother holds her fictional adoptive son for the first time, and asks the fictional grandmother how she looks, it seemed pretty real to me.

I remember going to see
Into the Wild a few months before Desmond was born. I loved it, one of my favorite films of the last decade, and sitting in the theater I thought about Emile Hirsch's character just wandering away from his life to roam and live off the land, and I was envious.

I rented the movie last March, when Desmond was three months old, and had a completely different reaction. While I still loved IT, I found myself screaming "DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU ARE PUTTING YOUR PARENTS THROUGH???" over and over in my head at the main character, the same one that I had romanticized just a few months ago. He was cool in November, reckless in March.

That, in a nutshell, is what parenthood has turned me into.

Now there are certain things that I will
NEVER do: I will never use the word "playdate" in a sentence (unless it is to say something along the lines of "Whoever came up with the term 'playdate' ought to be kneecapped"). I will never get excited about a parade. I will never spend my entire weekend driving my kid(s) to fifty-six sporting events. I do have some limits.

And with that, I can hear Desmond stirring upstairs. He's going to be needing a midnight snack.

(Kristen took some pictures of Des getting his haircut and can be seen here if interested)

17 February 2009

And now we see if I can embed video in blogger...

When I was a kid this song was painful, and abundant, so I am happy to finally listen to nineteen seconds of it and not want to stick bamboo sticks into my ears:

13 February 2009

I have no good title for this

Has it really been three weeks since I wrote anything here? How is that possible? I write all the freakin' time-granted most of it is in my head, but still-so you'd think I'd get over here more often.

We were cruelly teased with a high temperature of 66 last Tuesday, and despite the rest of my body pleading with it not to do so, my brain immediately moved into "winter is over, here comes spring" mode. Fool me thirty-six times, shame on me. It snowed last night, not much, but it did, mostly because I told Beth that it was going to be balmy here for the weekend. If by "balmy" I meant "still cold enough to rue not having your gloves if you have to walk more than two blocks" then I nailed it.

And this is what we call a segue: I spent some time downtown Friday and Saturday at the AWP Conference at the Chicago Hilton and Towers. If you've seen The Fugitive then you've seen the hotel-it's where the movie ends. This reminds me that no one does a better impersonation of the evil doctor who is startled to see Richard Kimble in at the banquet in the ball room: "Richard, I'm in the middle of this speech..." Part Ren from Ren and Stimpy (duh), part Steve Martin and Dan Ackroyd's "Two wild and crazy guys," and a little recall of what it sounds like when I have a massive headcold.

But I digress. AWP stands for the "Association of Writers and Writing Programs" (I have no idea why it is not known as AWWP, but I would like to know what the unused W did to deserve non-inclusion) and while I am technically not a member, I was able to attend the conference through Roosevelt University (where I FINALLY graduated from in December, though I have yet to receive my dilpoma, and I envision myself in graduate purgatory. It's not as bad here as I thought. Could use a little color though).

I keep noticing that the autosave has been failing over and over. If I lose this entry when I try to publish it, I'm going to angry, really, really angry (I'll be mad-I've been watching too much Sesame Street). Of course, if I do lose this entry, no one is going to know about it except me. I think I just proved that purgatory is also highly existential.

AWP is two things: first, it is a festival of writing programs. The exhibition area in the basement of the hotel was chock full o' people from writing programs all over the nation. The scope of this was a little depressing because until someone out there decides to publish something I've written, these are all entities that have fostered my regret. I did my fair share of getting to know some of the folks behind the scenes of a few literary publications, and I am hoping that 2009 is the year I get to see myself in print. Maybe if I wrote poems instead...

The other thing AWP is is a bevy of seminars and panels, everything from how to write your memoir of growing up poor and not having indoor plumbing to getting people to pay you to write. I am being vague; there were hundreds of things to choose from in three days. I went to three. One was a reading by Stuart Dybek, who is a brilliant writer, the best at capturing Chicago as I have ever read. I had looked forward to this for a while but found myself incredibly annoyed at whoever decided to have someone on stage with him translating his reading to sign language. I should say that the presence of this person was not annoying but rather their positioning right next to Dybek. I swear they bumped shoulders a few times. It was hard to concentrate on what he was saying and I found myself either closing my eyes or looking away, which worked all right, but I have to say it made for an awkward experience. I'm happy that I got to see one of my favorite authors in person, but I'll always remember that while he read there was someone next to him on stage that looked like they were trying to hail every cab in the city.

I also attended a seminar discussing the rise of nonfiction on the radio. If you've ever listened to "This American Life" on NPR you'll know what this was about; there's a greater demand for stuff like this, and it intrigues me, because I write nonfiction more often than not. I believe I have a tremendous drawback to this though: I do not have a voice for radio. I hate to hear a recording of my own voice. When I talk I think my voice sounds OK, but when I hear it played back I'd swear it wasn't me. It's far too nasally and high-pitched. I've heard other people mention that their recorded voice sounds a lot different from what they here when they speak. There's got to be a name for that.

At the end of today I caught up with a few friends that I hadn't seen for a while, and then I walked a little over a mile to the train. I remember when I started grad school in the fall of 2005 that I though I would find it a lonely experience. I was very wrong, and I made some great friends, but I always knew that this time would go quickly and that most likely when it was over I wouldn't see much of them. I felt the same way about being in downtown Chicago three times a week. Yesterday was the first time I walked in the loop in a few months, and it has been well over a year since I was down there more than once in a week.

Today as I walked to the train I thought about when the next time would be that I might be downtown. I have no idea. I only live fifteen miles away, but it might as well be fifteen hundred. And I thought about how I was right, about how quickly the time that I would spend there would go. I'm happy that I had the ability to recognize that as it was happening.

I don't know where I am going with this. I guess it is the idea that change is always coming, and it is better to know it than to be surprised by it. I sit here now and I can hear Desmond breathing as he sleeps upstairs (I do not have extra-sensory hearing, just a really good baby monitor) and it makes me wonder how much longer he is going to sound like that, because he already sounds so much different than he did just a few months ago.

Why do my endings always seem like something that belongs at the end of an episode of "Doogie Hoswer." I'm going to try to post this now. If it fails and you happen to be struck by my computer as I throw it through the window, well, perhaps you shouldn't be out this late.