Astropus

Way way out there

Category: JMV

Los Angeles has Two Seasons.

The Off Season & Baseball Season, and today is the Solstice.  On that harrowed field nestled in Sulfir Canyon, adjacent to the freeways, warehouses, and skyscrapers of LA’s urban core, America’s pastime will commence again as the Boys in Blue, the Bums, The Briedgrooms, the Los Angeles Dodgers will take the field at Chavez Ravine to face their storied rivals the San Francisco Giants.

When the  ceremonial first pitch is thrown, this year by Dodger legend Fernando Venezuela,  an event with all the astronomical and astrological power of the Solstice, innumerable fans across our country, and the globe, will experience the zenith of their hopes for the season.  All 30 teams on equal footing.  All records 0-0. All batting averages .000 and ERAs 0.0, and our lives will again be filled with the promise of peanuts and Cracker Jack, walk-off bombs and crushing called third strikes.  Favorite players will fall to injury while names unknown rise to stardom, and maybe fall back to earth.  Win or lose there are 162 games on the schedule and 162 games worth of lengthening days and warm nights to enjoy before the seasons change again.

My Off Season began with the whimper of the 2010 team being unable to finish the season with a winning, or even a .500, record and it spiraled down through loss, death, and a dark and cold winter that shook me to my core.  The most difficult element of coping with the death of my mother and my mother-in-law has been the slow realization that life goes on.  It moves forward for everyone around you first, while you are still mired in the new reality foisted upon you.  Then life sweeps you along and your only option is the white-water or to kick hard for the shore.  I’ve spent a lot of time swimming over the past months.  Towards what, I never seem to know, but I’m fighting the rapids and keeping my head above water.  And today the struggle gets a little easier as even a losing season or a full-blown implosion of the team cannot eclipse the joy and hope of the top of the first inning when all the boxes on the scorecard are empty.

That is perhaps Baseball’s most beautiful trait: there are so many fresh starts in the sport.  The start of the season of course, but also always another no balls no strikes at bat; always the chance of a 9th inning comeback; or the chance to “get them tomorrow.”   It is this hope and opportunity that makes me love the game so much, and life’s ups-and-downs seem so much more manageable against the backdrop of April’s young season or the dog-days of July and August, or a tight pennant race in September.  The successful teams are the ones that can look past the hindrance of injuries, the despair of a slump, or the despondency of a protracted losing streak and see that hope and opportunity and find ways to succeed. They say that baseball is a game of adjustments; hitters have to make minute course corrections at the plate over the 162 games to be productive.  Pitchers need to make careful tweaks to their mechanics to keep their pitches sharp. Managers influence the game with small changes to the line-up or the rotation.  Any one of these could be enough to turn an at-bat or a game or a season around.

Baseball’s galaxy of statistics are the basis for many of these adjustments.  Untold numbers of  statisticians churn though ever iota of data to quantify every aspect of the game.  the beauty of the numbers is just below the surface of the game and it’s something I am fascinated by. I often wish that everyday life had such a multitude of metrics to measure our progress.  Something to base personal course-corrections on and measure week-to-week accomplishments and progress by.  Instead I struggle against the external judgments and even harsher self-opinions that face every decision.  After a lingering off season and the brief run-op of Sprint Training I am ready for the fresh start. Ready to move past the winter’s doldrums and eager to hear the crack of the bat and watch a ball sail, a tiny while orb against LA’s azure sky, deep into rabble seated in the pavilions.

Today, when Vin Scully speaks the words “It’s time for Dodger baseball,” I will probably shed a tear.  A tear for the losses and pain since the last time he spoke those words to the innumerable fans.  A tear for the part of myself that was lost and forever changed. A tear of realization that now it will always ring differently to me.  But also a tear of joy and of excitement for what the imminent future will bring.  Win or lose it is time to take the field, wait for the pitch, and put a good swing on the ball.

The seasons are changing in Los Angeles, and Baseball brings me and hope and a new outlook.  Play Ball!

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An Editorial Note.

While I continue to develop the voice and tone for this project, I wanted to clarify my usage of the editorial we.  While at times I will use the editorial we, I am predicting that the majority of instances of “we,” especially in a post categorized as “JMV,” will be referring to myself and my wife and partner Julie.

I cannot even fathom what path my life would have taken without Jules.  But I do know that the last 12 years that I have spent with her have been more full and wonderful that any years I have had prior.  Each night I go to bed next to her excited for what the next day will bring for us. My greatest goal, on a long list of goals, is to make a living working by her side.  I cannot abide spending so much of our waking lives apart and working to make other people money.

My dream is to spend our working lives together, but I haven’t been able to figure out how to make that work.  I’ve been working away at this problem for a couple of years, and it remains #1 on my list.

Do you work with your spouse/partner/soul mate? What do you do? How did you find a vocation that would highlight both of your skill-sets? Any tips for me?

A New Place to Hang my Octopushat

For months I’ve been scribbling notes and ideas in my notebook, sketching page layouts and banner designs, and generally boring myself with the details for some new Big Idea. Some shiny new silver-bullet to answer all my questions.  Some outlet for all these fragments bouncing around in my head.  140 characters was novel for a while.  An interesting constraint to fuel artistic output; like Jack White and his Guitar-Drums-Vocals sound or Red-White-Black pallet, I took it as a challenge to craft effective bits of writing.  I liked to think of it as idea shrapnel.  But the ideas never stuck the way shrapnel is supposed to, and I’ve been pondering better ways to get the bigger thoughts out there.

I’ve resisted the idea of “blogging” again.  It just seemed too trite.  Too easy to start, then give up on.  Too played out in this 2nd decade of the new millennium.  But writers write, as they say, and I’ve been off the wagon for far too long.  I had acquiesced to the inertia of inaction and was happy to work my 9 to 5 and plink along on the guitar, and tell stories to friends that would listen. And I was even happy about it.  During my first vacation in five years, sitting on a beach and watching the sun languidly sink into the Pacific from the island paradise of Kauai, I thought that I had finally struck a balance of creating and doing and thinking and being. Then my world was obliterated by the sudden death of my mother in November 2010.

A story all its own, the weeks immediately following changed my perceptions of the world and myself.  My life suddenly lost the clarity that I’d attained and more resembled a stream swollen by sudden rains, waters moving fast and silt stirred from the bottom.  I spent a couple of months of fighting these new currents and struggling to keep my head above the water and then my Mother in Law, who was diagnosed with Liver Cancer just a month after the death of my Mother, was overcome by the disease and died.  Once again my reality was violently upset.  The waters swept me out to sea and left me with countless questions.

As I struggle to find perspective, and strength, and direction in these dark waters I feel the creative force within me build.  Energies that I experienced dwindle; from their roar in my adolescence and early adult hood to a faint buzz as I grew complacent on the still waters of my everyday.  I’m cannot wait for the prefect outlet, I need to harness this energy and apply it to whatever is in front of me.  My notes and journals can’t contain the pent-up energies any longer, and I have too many 1/2 formed ideas and too many ambitions to get hung up by the notions of what a “blog” could and should be.  Everything has changed now; the sandcastle I spent my adult life building was swept away.  But there is limitless smooth sand spread out from me now and Astropus.com is the first pail-full of the reconstruction.  This post the first spade of sand for the foundation.

I hope that you will join me as I experiment with this outlet.  As I try to strike a balance between grossly narcissistic and the culturally inane.  As I fight attention span to keep up with a post-count. As I expand, or contract, or diversify, or focus this site.  It is going to be a journey, and I don’t have any maps or even ideas when I’m headed.  But I’m compelled to take the first steps.  I look forward to hearing what you think.