Wednesday, September 30, 2009

an incredibly busy time, preparing for peru, but all my kids in crisis, one crisis or another, and fall coming down like a clear blue page in a new chapter. all i can think of is baseball, and that's partly because october was always the big baseball month, but also, because baseball itself is the ultimate escape, when virtually everthing else seems like too much. too much grading, too much grammar, too much stress, too much reading skills workshop preparation, too much lack of swimming pool. in the morning i take the seven-yr-old out front where he catches the bus; red berries fall from ornamental trees in the yard, and fall shines all over. baseball, i'm thinking: wonder if the twins beat the tigers. or if there are any other games that matter.

first thing i used to do when i was a paperboy, 5 30 in the morning, was open up the first paper, and thumb backward 'til i found the sports section, and thumb backward some more 'til i found the indians' box score. the smell of newspaper ink would rise up out of the fresh papers stuck to my fingers but the ink would easily come off in the dew beside the sidewalk. whether the indians won, lost, or got rained out had almost no bearing on the day itself, as i was barely awake anyway, but the trained ability to focus would help me concentrate later on. sometimes my brother would win free baseball tickets or i'd get them through the paper route- but then, we'd see the pirates, as this was in pittsburgh- and sometimes, of course, the dogs would come through. or the giants- saw a lot of willie mays, mccovey, marichal. or even the cards.

thus a life of being in one outfield bleacher, and looking across the field at where the scoreboard was slowly being updated, by some guy who hid behind the green number signs after he turned them around. i'd look for the indians game. if the pirates were in a race the fans would check to see how the cubs or the dogs or whoever was doing- what else was happening in the league? but i would check only the indians, or mostly the indians. clemente, stargell, mazeroski, alou, bonds, these were names i remember from that era, pirates who were always circling the bases based on some hit to deep right field. but they had no pitching- the other teams were usually doing considerable base-circling also. when the game was over we'd take the trolley home and i'd read the box score the following day and compare it to what i remembered or what i'd seen...before that, i'd gone to tiger stadium, several times, and memorial stadium, cleveland, once- got lost both places, in detroit, more than once. i was too easily distracted, and the stadiums were too big. on some level i was collecting stories, images, names, places, which i could now use, needing a lot of distraction, being so busy, and so frazzled emotionally, that the best i can conjure, mornings, or even now, is some baseball story.

but, a person could do is, after all, october. more later.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

the unusually fresh and clear air, blue sky, geese overhead, the whole works, clears out some cobwebs in my brain, and reminds me that, what was i thinking last night, i made a whole post about the images in my memory, without once bothering to look up what nowadays has become very simple googling. so it turns out, after mulling it over a little today, a little clarifying is in order. i don't want to change the post (below)- it's an accurate though rambling account of my memory- but the least i can do is set the record straight.

when i told my son about it this morning, i had to admit, first of all, that i had no idea about the standings today, who was up, what was up, anything. so, first thing tonight, i looked those up, and found out, lo and behold, there is actually one and only one race in the majors, in our very own division, between the tigers & twins, with the twins but 2 games out & playing the tigers a lot. but both are at least ten wins behind the red sox & not likely to win the wild card if they don't knock out their brother. so, that's ok, i like the twins too, even lived in minneapolis for a while, but that's not to mention the ten years in toledo, shadow of tiger stadium, watching al kaline and dick mcauliffe from far left field. i love 'em all, even the white sox & royals,they're our neighbors, except of course when they play the indians, but in case they make it & the indians don't, i'll stick with 'em most of the way, i'll keep likin' 'em, tigers, twins, whoever makes it.

so then, turns out koufax's big decision was in 1965, and occurred against the twins; if the yankees were involved at all, i couldn't discern. probably the giants were, on some level, as they were always haunting the dodgers those days no matter how good the dodgers were; but that would have been the regular season, this was the series. and what was remarkable here was that, one would think that by not pitching game one, koufax would forfeit the right to pitch three of the series games (in a 7-game-series)- a true star signs right up for 1, 4, & 7, no? but religious koufax, in ducking 1, would now pitch 2 & 5, & miss 7. but lo & behold he pitched 2 & 5, then pitched 7; and, though he lost 2, he won 5 and came back even stronger in 7, and won that too. so he came back very powerful, as if rested by the spirit, as if, you sit out the big one, you can pitch 20 innings if you like. and bowl them over in the process.

another story involved al rosen, an indian, and then, greenberg, a tiger, and then, a few modern players also, all of whom now face this problem. my own recollection, though, is funny- how did i turn it into a game against the yankees? or, as a perennial new york argument?

koufax, it turns out, was from brooklyn itself. native son, trolley dodger. i'm ok with that. i'm going for a twins-dodger series, drawn out to seven, maybe i'll even get a tv again; haven't had one, really, since the days of 9/11 or before, when everything on there pretty much turned my stomach, but when, ironically, the weather was much like it is now: cool, clear, blue-sky, geese-honkin' beautiful. if there were a twins-dodger series, now that would be different, it would be worth getting or at least watching a tv. that, maybe, or the indians again. chou...

Monday, September 28, 2009

the onset of yom kippur brings on a cool clear fresh fall air, that makes leaves crisp and makes cars go faster on their way out to the country to saw logs for the winter, or whatever. it puts a quickness in people's pace, as if there's all of a sudden more work to be done, and the steamy yet dry september weather finally gives way letting people breathe and be outside at the same time. yet it's not a vacation season here, not the new year, not eid, not chusok, just the grinding end of a term that is as busy as ever, with on top of it, a broken dryer at home, and upcoming trips to peru and new jersey, in that order. though i'm not jewish, i certainly could repent for my sins, beg forgiveness and at the same time forgive all those who have stepped brutally on me and ground me into the mud with the sharp heels of their jack-boots. instead i tell my son the story of sandy koufax, and the dodgers, who in fact were the brooklyn trolley-dodgers and don't let anyone fool you because of that light blue and l-a type hat. well anyway he was jewish, and along with don drysdale was one of two excellent dodger pitchers in a world serious year series against the yankees i believe. and they might have had to beat the giants too to get there, so there were really three new york teams in that mix, and the big question was whether he would pitch on yom kippur, and if not, could the dodgers win anyway, or have him pitch three games of the series, if it didn't rain, which was out of the question for the part they were actually in l-a. but you see, they should never have even been in l-a, if they hadn't have gone, they could have had "pray for rain" as the extra pitcher. repent, new york, you let go of an entire team, and let them go out there and wear ocean blue.

don't even know if there are any jewish players this year, but i do know that the series doesn't even start these days until about halloween, so yom kippur can't play much of a role in years like this when the divisions are pretty much sewn up and the playoffs don't even start 'til the ticks are dead. one year there was a huge flood in our town on yom kippur, and another the indians were in the race, though this year they were pretty much wiped out on the sixth day of the season after they'd lost five in a row and it was pretty certain they could not get it back. so i've kind of lost track of who exactly is in the race, though i'm sure the yankees are in, and there are the dogs, out there in the west, looking mighty blue, and i guess the tigers and phillies too. so it could be a classic year, once the ticks are dead, maybe it's worth hanging around for.

don't know how they'll feel about all this down in peru, but i can tell you, in new jersey, they might be willing to talk about it. in jersey i spend some time on the newark-new york public transportation, and i can see if there are as many yankee hats as there were in the dominican republic, and see if i can tell by people's accents which side of the trolley tracks they jumped from. it's pure speculation to me; i've been "out west" for as long as i can remember, and when it gets cold enough to watch people's breath curl up above eye level, and mix with the steam from the steam grates, all i can do is marvel at the fact that there are steam grates at all, let alone that people are actually living on them. or maybe that was denver, during the snowstorm, but it all gets kind of mixed up in my memory. i can say this, it also brings to mind a single incident, which i'm sure is buried deep in this blog somewhere, one of the classic memories that sticks in my mind from the days i used to hitchhike in and around new york, on the triborough, the parkways, the busy highways that cut across the city. once a guy gave me a ride, and it was cold, maybe mid-november, air was crisp and it was night to boot. and he stopped to give another guy a ride, this one with a dusty pack but coming out of the airport area going west. and this guy said he was going to peru. peru, we both said, in amazement. i was going to, like, philly or something. he says, yeah. it should take me a few days. i'm coming from europe. wow, we both said again. well, he said, it's all worth it. believe me. it's worth it.

it was a cold and grim winter, but, somehow, i made it where i was going, and remembered the story. one lives, comes 'round to another year, repents, dusts off, and keeps on going. what else is there? wait 'til next year, indians fans. everyone gets a turn to beat the yankees, at least once.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Two new stories:

omg wtf tmi, just written

The nurse left,
written for an npr contest, which, as far as i know, i did not win.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Thursday, September 10, 2009

my fingers are getting rusty, it's been so long since i've posted; i hit a dry spell, a time in which everything seemed too much work, or too trivial, to say anything. a son was in the hospital, and, though he's ok now, it took awhile to get caught up and out of that state of emergency when you drop everything, and only pick it up when ready. weeks later, i'm still picking up.

thursday is the cruelest month, is a saying i've taken up, not only because some thursdays take a whole month, but also because they're cruel in the same way april is cruel, holding the promise of freedom and renewal, warm weather ahead, and at the same time devoid of any real sustenance, in terms of rest, or weekend, or the good stuff we live for. that old expression about april is kind of dormant now, though lots of people i know are aware of april rocks; so, i'll get going on my thursday expression. the classes take forever; what really takes forever is just making it from one to the other. a hint of fall outside, with trees changing color, a turn in the weather, and lots of morning fog that shows how confused the earth is, that the air is so much cooler than the earth, or the other way 'round. next thing you know, the geese will be flying low overhead, honking and arguing about whether they really should be flying south or north this time of year; or, maybe, arguing about why they took a route that had so few good restaurants.

the route to the hospital took me through roads & roads of blossoming corn, ripe beans, seeding grasses, lively creekbeds, and woods; it was very summery, though i was not in the mood to stop and really enjoy it. and it took me near cahokia mounds, capital of ancient americas, a huge place now surrounded by seedy racetracks, poisoned headwaters, toxic dump lowlands and a steel mill. the mound stands imposing, making me wonder if they ever really dug inside, found out what was in it. the mississippian people, here a thousand years ago, ruling for about five hundred years or so, disappeared without a trace, just before the europeans showed up and wiped everyone out with diseases. but why? where did they go? maybe they found a planet, or, set out to sea. maybe we'll never know. even here, less than thirty miles from the great river, we find ancient places, and know they must have spent years in such a fertile valley, such a meeting place of the rivers. the trappings of a city- arch, casino, steel mill, interstate- don't detract a bit from the imposing tower of their memory.

it's back to driving cross-town for me, though one day i went to the state fair in duquoin and performed in an interesting production called timmy the tractor. this was a musical with intense dancing and kid-oriented plot and songs; we were in the background, as performers. the memories of high summer, now totally replaced by the large numbers of students, in town, flooding the bars and restaurants, making driving more of a hassle. the city, in other words, is at high tide, and so is optimism, peacockism, traffic-ticketism, and actual studying. it's back to work for me- and, with my son back, and a full plate- i'm busier than ever. maybe i can get something creative done this term- a calendar, or a book or two- some of the work is done; i'm just not so good at the follow-up.

as for the mississippians, they will be my witness. things come and go; yes, it's all trivial, or seems that way; yes, maybe something will remain, by which i'll be remembered, in a millenium, or even in half. chou...