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It’s true, I’ve been hiding from writing. I can’t exactly pinpoint why. I had been chalking it up to the ebb and flow of inspiration but today I sit soaked in shame from the excuse. Even more sad than that, it was inspiration that nudged me this way. Sitting at my desk, listening to newly released old Jeff Buckley demos I got to thinking about the singer I adore so much. He was always in motion, pushing step by step to his goal of perfect music. Even when stunted, like the year leading up to his death, he kept trying. That is what struck me and reminded me that I need to be better. You can’t just put down the pen when the words aren’t flowing, that is what writer’s block wants you to do. You have to continue to jot down words, even if they’re banal and horrible.
After the jolt I decided to consult an old friend. Writers and artists, actually anyone really, should grab a copy of On Writing by Stephen King. I’ll admit, I have not read a ton of his fiction as I’m not the horror type (which most of his writing is, genre-wise) but this bit of prose is somewhat of a bible for me. Every time I need to be shoved in the right direction, I flip through its pages. Today’s read, pregnant with fate, led me to a particular line: “Don’t wait for the muse.” I’m aware that this notion is not horribly groundbreaking but it was a shot in the arm. Certainly a case of right place at the right time however.
Another idea he shared that spoke to me was that one of the reasons for his success is staying married. While I’ve only been married for two and a half weeks now, I’ve been in the relationship for nearly three years. When the swell of realization hit me I messaged her immediately. I said that I needed to be held accountable and I’d share my goals with her so she could remind me. Her response was a simple “Do it up, sunshine.” That’s all it takes. In the last few months when I’ve been my lowest about writing, she never faltered. That’s what love is about, lifting one another up. I’m grateful for that.
So this post is a deceleration of sorts, no more fucking around. As President Bartlet said on the West Wing, “You know what? Break’s over.”
It is hard for me quantify why I love baseball so much. Baseball is the greatest sport to ever be played. It’s the Great American Pasttime. I was raised to love baseball. Growing up my dad instilled in me the importance of the sport, as his father had with him. My grandfather was a giant Cardinals fan. My parents remind me time and again how much my baseball passion reminds them of him. It is my little way of carrying on his legacy. I’ve spent countless hours in the backyard playing catch with my dad and family. As the mitt pops back and forth, we fill the air between us with discussions of the history of the game. This discussion has evolved over time, beginning with my dad teaching me about the greats such as Musial, Gibson, and Williams and evolving into talks about current greats like Smoltz, Pujols, Jeter, and Ortiz. I’ve loved this game my entire life.
The Boston Red Sox are like the heart and soul of baseball and my love for it. They went through 86 years of failure, of mishaps, and of heartbreak. And they came through it! Those guys day in and day out play their hearts out. It’s beyond me, it’s beyond you. A lot of my friends and family get annoyed with my mood swings during the season because if the Sox have a bad game, I have a bad day. And when the Sox are killing it, I feel like a million bucks. In recent years it has been particularly up and down. Some of the times have been unbearable like losing seasons and the worst of all, losing a post season berth on the final day of the season. But the highs have been so glorious. 2013 is a season that still, two years removed, I cannot quantify. It was all born of tragedy. The team put an entire city on its back and spent all of October healing wounds. It’s tough to be so wrapped up in something. It takes time and patience. But it’s a passion, it’s a real passion. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Red Sox Nation doesn’t give up. Red Sox Nation fights through it and is there for a heart breaking game 162 loss to fall out of the playoffs, is there for a 93 loss season, and is there when they clinch the division with the best record in all of baseball and go on to win the World Series. These moments are so sweet because we’ve earned them.
I never get sick of it. I follow all 162 games of the season. Factor in the month of spring training and the month of the post season, it is nine months out of every year. And there is nothing in the world like attending a baseball game. It’s the atmosphere that gets me. All the cliched things people say, but they are true. It’s the ballpark franks, the roar of the crowd, the peanuts and cracker jacks, the vendors yelling about how cold their beer is, the hecklers yelling at the players, and seeing your favorite player get up to bat. And even better when they deliver.
I have seen a lot of incredible things at baseball games. Beckett’s one hitter in 2011 the night the Bruins won the cup. Nap’s walk off homer against the Yankees in 2013. A 14 inning a marathon walk off against Oakland in 2011. Carp’s pinch hit 10th inning grand slam at the Trop in 2013. I wasn’t sure I could top it, but Saturday I did.
David Ortiz is probably the player who has meant the most to the Boston Red Sox franchise. A team with such a storied history, that is a bold statement. The man has meant a tremendous amount to the team, the fans, to the city. Tonight when I went to the game with him sitting at 498 career homers I was less than confident I’d see such a historical moment. Multiple times over the day leading up to it I said incredulously ‘there is no way he hits two in one game for it’ to push the feeling of dread that he may do it Friday, the game I wasn’t going to. After his first inning three run home run for 499 I felt my chances gaining. My heart swelled. I was extremely nervous. Could I be so lucky? In his third at bat he led off the inning, with two strikes on him – an inside pitch. WHACK! To the seats. I was shaking all over. High fives, screaming, hugs, tears welling in my eyes. He had done it. It is the pinnacle of all I love in the game of baseball. David Ortiz, released by the Twins after the 2002 season, became Big Papi in Boston. He is a hero. The 2004 ALCS, in the face of elimination, he put the team on his back. We come back to beat the Yankees and go on to win the first WS the team had seen in 86 years. ‘This is our fucking city.’ 2013, bases loaded with two outs against the Tigers in the ALCS, GRAND SLAM into the bullpen. Going on to bat .688 in the 2013 World Series and taking home his first WS MVP. It goes beyond those moments. It goes beyond these moments. But he started with modest beginnings, a young man with a dream leaving Santo Domingo and coming to America to pursue it. Three World Series rings, one World Series MVP, one ALCS MVP, nine time All-Star, six time Silver Slugger, and now the 27th member in the over one hundred year history of Major League Baseball to hit 500 home runs.
Often it is hard to be a fan. It hurts, it is cruel, it will break your heart. But on Saturday it was a reminder of why you push through, why you shoulder the pain. It is a beautiful game. It is unlike anything in this world and I will love it until my last day.
A video posted by Fox C. Mason (@kaitgolightly) on Sep 12, 2015 at 4:43pm PDT
Happy Force Friday!!!
Okay, so it is actually three days later and Monday now. But, really, Force Friday began Wednesday with the 18 hour unboxing live stream. That was the beginning of a whirlwind of weekend that was equal parts fun and exhausting.
To begin, I had been a little under the weather during the front part of the week. Short of death, nothing was going to keep me from participating in Force Friday. Luckily my lovely fiancée was there to support this and help me get to feeling better.
The tide of my sickness began to turn just in time for the live unboxing stream. What initially sounded a bit unnecessary to me ended up becoming something I thoroughly enjoyed. The real stand outs from the event, for me, being Poe’s black X-Wing, Sphero’s BB-8, and the Millennium Falcon quadcopter but more about that later. The fervor that grew with each hour of the stream (I did sleep for some of them but they showed recaps) was a great lead up to Friday. Grade A job from the marketing people there. Andi Gutierrez and Anthony Carboni were troopers and stayed awake through all 18 hours hosting. Major props there as I’m fairly sure I would have died, sick or not.
When Thursday finally came around I was as giddy as a kid waiting for Christmas (or just myself waiting for Christmas, truth be told.) We decided to head to Toys’r’us when they closed at 9 to scope out the situation. Equipped with water, iPads, and a wallet preparing to get lighter, we were ready. We were greeted by two small groups in front of us (four people in total) already forming the line. The humidity made it pretty awful but we powered through. We all struck up a conversation that would last until they opened the doors at midnight. We found no need for our iPads. Linnea told Josh via text that “these are her people” and it is true. It was nice to immerse myself with people who had the same kind of passion that I normally dealt with on my own. While I’m so grateful to Linnea for going with me, it was nice to compare notes with fellow fanatics. The awesome folks that were first in line have a Facebook group that I gladly joined and am enjoying posting in.
In comparison to them, I felt like a bit of an amateur. They were headed in with the intention of getting one of everything, ultimate collectors. I could only tip my cap. I’m not as much of the collector type. I like to open my toys and enjoy them. But I have complete and total respect for those who do collect, it takes an extreme amount of time, money, and determination. I couldn’t help but be a little envious.
Some members of 501st showed up. Had to snap a picture. As time crept nearer Linnea and I discussed what I wanted most and a budget (one we’d both blow through and then some.) After a Starbucks run and two large bottles of water were crushed, the time crept closed to midnight. When doors finally opened we snagged our free poster – an excellent Kylo Ren poster, and free Lego brick featuring a first order stormtrooper. We headed for the aisle, my excitement level through the roof really. I quickly grabbed Finn and Poe figurines. Linnea grabbed an Artoo lunch box and the Funko BB-8. The latter garnered some attention as it was the last one and we even had someone try to barter for it. I was slightly disappointed to find that they had none of the large Poe Dameron black X-Wing so Linnea suggested selflessly that we go to Target as well. She’s truly the best, considering she had to be up in six hours at this point.
Target was a total success. Not only did they have Poe’s X-Wing with the figurine but I also picked up a giant 18 inch of, as Oscar Isaac said, “the best damn pilot in the galaxy.” We left Target on cloud 9. I was so glad to share the evening with her and have a blast. Passions are the best when shared with the ones you love.
At the time, I thought this was essentially the end of our mission. Hardly. The worst thing for our bank account that happened was the pre-planned trip to Orlando with my family. The first day there we tried the Super Target where I picked up Rey on her Speeder, a First Order Stormtrooper coffee mug, Linnea got a cute BB-8 shirt, and I bought my nephew a Boba Fett hot wheels car that he clutched all weekend.
From there, we went to the Florida Mall. Also a mistake for our financial responsibility. I bought a set of figurines from the Disney Store. Even though they were just six little figurines for a modest $15, it ended up being one of my best investments. After all of the shopping, back at the condo, I sat on the floor and unboxed them with Luke watching me closely. Sharing this time with him, the same kind of moments I had with my dad during the prequels when I was young, was not lost on me. It is something that means a great deal to me.
I happened upon the ultimate prize of the weekend at Brookestone: the Sphero BB-8. Being championed by many as the best Star Wars toy of all time, this item is already selling out everywhere. Some have compared its future Christmas sales performance to huge hits such as furbee or tickle me Elmo. Linnea promised to get me one for Christmas but as soon as they started to sell out everywhere we decided to jump the gun. Let me tell you, I do not regret it. The thing is as cool, if not cooler, than I could’ve imagined.
At the end of it all, I know that I’m really grateful to have Linnea. She puts up with my crazy obsessions and passions. If anything, she encourages them. That’s all you can ask for in life. 101 days until the Force Awakens and I can’t wait.
A successful weekend indeed.
The last three weeks of my life have been exciting (and equally tiring) in multiple ways ranging from thrilling to mundane. To begin with, Josh bought a house. We had been wanting to move into a house for as long as I could remember, whether renting or buying. I much prefer this route, as it gives us the freedom to do what we want without consulting a landlord. So we packed up our things from the apartment we’d grown increasingly annoyed with, and began the process. You never realize how much shit you have until you move, that is a certainty. So after an exhaustive move, which was made even more difficult by a dog’s leash tearing two to three layers of skin off of my ring finger in a bloody and tender mess, we settled in. House life suits the three of us immensely. Josh and I have our offices (though I refer to mine as a study.) Linnea set up her sewing table and the kitchen. All of us enjoying our own little galaxies in the house universe. My quality of life, while not awful before, has skyrocketed. I’m exceptionally content. Also, we have a pool and it makes me feel like a child again.
Around the same time as the move I started contributing to thebeardedtrio. This blog involves all information regarding George Lucas, John Williams, and (probably most significant to me) Steven Spielberg. My first post was a wildly successful essay I wrote about the two stages of Spielberg’s film catalogue, revolving around the seminal classic Schindler’s List. (If you haven’t read it, you can do so here.) It felt like a small victory, a sort of validation in the goal to be the best writer I can be. It is easy to let the words flow when you’re writing about something you feel passionately about. Spielberg is certainly a subject that calls to me, he is my hero. I’m on a mission to watch, or re-watch for many, all twenty eight of his films. The biggest hurdle I’ve encountered with that is my desire to revisit my favorites before viewing some of them for the first time. I’ll finish eventually (before the year is out.)
Over the weekend we finally visited Kennedy Space Center. I had been wanting to go back for some time now, having not been since I was a young child. It exceeded my expectations. It was educational and fascinating. Linnea and I made the wise decision to purchase annual passes. I was immediately glad we did because it is simply too much to take in in just one visit. We did not get to everything and many things we glossed over a bit due to time constraints. I’m already looking forward to going back. The best moment, by far, was viewing the relatively new building that houses the Space Shuttle Atlantis. Though the STS has finished, its legacy lives on. This mammoth sucked me in. It left me in wonderment. The space program is a never ending inspiration for me. The fact that we did something, as a country, that we didn’t have to do. Our lives didn’t depend on it, but we did it to explore. We did it to reach something beyond imaginable. Only for the greater good of science. We sent giants into space, the greatest giant there is.
“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.” – JFK
At my large wooden desk nestled in my study I began working on models and model rocketry. It is a very calming and time consuming hobby. There is something extremely rewarding about holding the model when you’re finished and looking at the intricate details that you did yourself. My first one was a snap together Back to the Future DeLorean. I soon had a craving to do a real model; glue, paint, and all. So I ordered a model of the Hughes H-4 Hercules. Do not dare call it the Spruce Goose to me, it was made out of mostly birch. Howard Hughes is an on going inspiration in my life. He was a modern day renaissance man. I bought a kit to begin making model rockets as well, which I’m hoping to launch at least one this coming weekend. That will be a whole new adventure.
Most importantly, I’ve been making an effort to read more. This may make some who know me well laugh because I’ve always been an avid reader. But I have been feeling as though I’ve been drifting away from it, getting distracted by other mediums. So I’ve dug in. First it was October Sky. I cannot stress enough how much I recommend it. It immediately became an all time favorite. I feel inclined to read it again already. Then I read An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, which was like a self-help book from two hundred and forty nine miles above. Now I am onto Ready Player One. I’m only forty pages in and can feel myself being pulled into the labyrinth of the story. Full disclosure, it was brought to my attention because Spielberg is doing pre-production to make the film adaption. But the story contains so many elements that I enjoy: gaming, pop culture, dystopian reality, and adventure.
Many other things occupy my thoughts on a daily basis; the new Star Wars films, my novel, writing in general, the Ninja Turtles, my new Apple Watch, and gaming. The last is stirring because there are a few xbox one games being released in the next few months (Star Wars Battlefront, Halo 5, Fallout 4, etc) and my dad just got me a new gaming PC. I think I have spent more time downloading games than playing them, but it will even out. It reminds me of moving in that way, the excitement fizzles a little as you have to unpack everything but once you’re in place, excitement ensues. The new Star Wars, the Force Awakens, is slowly exposing more and more details but is still 122 days away. In JJ We Trust. If it is anywhere as good as Super 8 then we’re in for a treat.
This post may sound like a long string of ramblings about mundane life features, to me it is something more. In An Astronaut’s Guide to Life on Earth, Hadfield says “Life is just a lot better if you feel you’re having 10 wins a day rather than a win every 10 years or so.” Maybe we’d all be better off if we applauded the little things and valued tiny victories. It is my effort to do so.
I’m trying to figure out why we are so obsessed with finding some deeper sense of self in life. We have created this. It is a perverse rite of passage that has been crafted over time. It is almost as if when a child hits a certain pre-pubescent age they must immediately begin to foster doubt, storing it away so that they can obsess over it as soon as they hit puberty. Furthermore, that is what every teenager is told about college and adulthood, that they’re required then to go on a grandiose search. The run of the mill, coming of age years were created mostly by the entertainment industry. This concept is not meant to demean anyone. There are certainly folks who deal with strife and have to overcome it, but that does not mean every person must wrestle with inner demons. You are not broken if you simply exist. In ‘Some Remarks on Kafka’s Funniness’ David Foster Wallace hits the nail on the head, as he often did: “The horrific struggle to establish a human self results in a self whose humanity is inseparable from that horrific struggle.” It is a vicious cycle. All of this just to meet some predetermined objective. Is it possible that maybe we are not all special snow flakes? It sounds cynical, I’m aware. But honestly, can’t we all just exist? We all want to be bigger, smarter, stronger, more attractive, and most of all we want to be well liked.
Being well liked doesn’t really appeal to me. I’m sure that isn’t a believable statement to many but it is true. Sure, there is the burst of excitement when someone shows interest, but after the jolt turns to tingles and then disappears all together it only becomes tedious. There is so much expectation that comes along with human interaction. For example, even the smallest one, how fucked up does it feel when you lag back an extra moment to hold open the door for a stranger and they do not say thank you or even acknowledge your existence? That is expectation strangling us, leaving our necks spurned with black and blue resentment. I hate any expectation. The pressure is as unbearable for me as a plane ride with no chewing gum next to a screaming baby. It is in my experience that I often rise to the occasion when pushed into action but I hate meeting it. My loved ones have likened it to some kind of psychopath behavior. I will hate every moment of things but damn it, I’ll be good at it and use it to my advantage. This might be my entire life in a nutshell. I tend to joke with others about how I hate people despite my various social skills. This is almost worse than having no social skills at all. It is like having some gift you certainly do not want. A lot of money has been made with superhero stories similar to that premise. I would gladly relinquish the power if I could. But I cannot. So I fight expectation and I stress over remaining solitary. It is essential to my survival.
The world could be a calmer place if we were a little more concerned with meeting our own goals, not the ones others regulate. I wonder what it would be like to live a life in which you did not worry about what another would think. Dreaming is a powerful tool. Success only comes when it is paired with the idea that any dream is worth pursuing. We will not all become uber successful entertainers, or leaders of countries, or rich business investors, or famous athletes. A lot of us will do seemingly mundane work but it does not diminish your worth. It is okay to be ordinary. What is ordinary to one may be extraordinary to another.
But this soapbox is a little high for my liking. It is my own crank psychoanalyzing at play here. I only share this diatribe out frustration. Maybe it is all too frank but maybe that is what I need more of. This week I joked that I had finally become a writer because I received a rejection letter. My own humor trying snuff out insecurities. In the same piece by David Foster Wallace he explains that “our culture has trained to see jokes as entertainment and entertainment as reassurance.” Maybe that is what all of this is: reassurance. In the absence of confidence there are only words.
“Where did it go?” I asked the void. The only reply I hear is a sinister laugh, deep and saturated. This is how it works, unfortunately. There is this giant void; it is as deep as it is wide. It is dark and thick, like trudging through miles of Florida swampland. You never can actually see the ever-elusive light on the other side. More times than not I am convinced that it doesn’t exist. It is a pinprick in the grand scheme. We do not find it; we stumble upon it by chance like fools. The void doesn’t do a damn thing to lend a helping hand, and why should it? I let myself lapse into an unexceptional zone. This is on me completely. The zone is teeming with excuses and doubt. Fear is the path to the dark side, as they say in Star Wars. Or it is the path to the void in my case, at least. Slowly but surely the void thins out over time, as it has every instance before. But one of these days I fear it will not. It is all time lost. I then mourn the wasted potential of time-gone bye. It will not rest in peace. It will linger, serving as a reminder of my inadequacy. At least for today the void is nowhere to be found and pen has found its way to paper.