I think one of the biggest torments of severe depression- or any bout with any debilitating mental health issue- is the absolute solitude nature of its torture. The anger, sadness, and frustration intensifies inside you without anywhere to go becoming a venomous arrow paralyzing you to the world outside of your own thoughts. You become a volcano whose eruption only blows up itself- it’s lava pouring back inside the earth leaving the ground trembling with flaming fears. Such intense self-reflection leads to at times periods where our lenses to life are skewed to reality. Self-absorption becomes our sin because connection to others seems so far away- a distant land too many miles to seek out alone. When you are in the midst of a depressive bout the ability to actively connect with others is a foreign language. Spoken words are never understood anyway when you yourself have lost your voice. So you turn even more inwards losing your connection to the outside world.
For me that loss can plummet to even greater depths where death seems like the best option available. When life is strangling you slowly then suicide seems the comforting solution over that ever present drudgery; that is a life that seems to be rather a slow death suffocating all glimpses of hope, love, and life out of it-dooming you to a life lived cursed as a hollow tomb- a Monet to the outside world- but strictly walking dead inside. It’s not that suicide is ever truly appealing- it’s thought of peace it brings that becomes so alluring.
Thinking back to the past seems more like a vivid nightmare than real life-years either seem closer to the past, or, further from the future then they actually are. A kaleidoscope calendar fills out the remnants of my memories of these fractured times.
Back in those dark days gratitude lists got me by. I learned that when your brain is fighting itself you have to become like the dirtiest player in the game, Ric Flair, and use any tactic at hand to win. The brain can’t think of two things at once- so no matter how bad your depression, sadness, anger, fear, or any of the smorgasbord of emotions that are occurring at the time are- you can always mindfully take a moment to barrage it with some goodwill. Because at the times when you are feeling that low it’s those bright moments you can always cling to as you struggle to climb forward. So use gratitude like Omar used his shotgun and leave your brain shook shouting, “Gratitude Coming” across all hemispheres.
Using gratitude is one of the simplest tools you have at your disposal in battling these ailments. Whether it’s starting each day by listing five things on paper, keeping a gratitude journal, or just focusing on a tiny comfort in life like fresh socks and underwear will guarantee your first thoughts each waking morning will be full of positivity, hope, and thankfulness. With practice those peaceful moments can expand to peaceful mornings, afternoons, and beyond. Remember the practice of gratitude is just like lifting weights- the more you work at it the stronger you become. And with that strength comes a better connection to oneself and the world around it. Gratitude started me on my journey to wellness, and you best believe it is indeed part of my “code to living” till this day.
One thing I have learned is closure never comes just because you want it- It only comes like a fog covered peak after miles and miles of a laborious trek. Birthdays are a great time to reflect- I turned 39 the other day and was grateful for how much closure I was recently granted. Closure has come for me many times these past two years- first from myself, from the murders, and lastly the former lovers hearts I gripped way too tight- using them as a substitute for alcohol when life was too frightening to deal with shieldless. My actions when the alcohol returned forever ruined those relationships- leaving me with handfuls of frays of ember burning my skin while I clung to the glimpse of peace they once offered was a truly hard drug to give up. My intoxicated actions forever haunt me- and hopefully this SOS will greet them with peace. It’s the least I hope for those hearts I treated with such previously cruelty in the end. It was never my intention- but that’s the problem in intention- or your reasoning, or any bullshit excuse- it never changes how these actions affected others. I am learning from my failures- the process is ever going- so I am honoring those loves from the past by knowing I will be treating the loves of my future with all the wisdom and care I wished I could have experienced with and giving to them. It’s not enough I know- but it’s the only way I know on how to forge ahead.
My current penance has been reflection- taking a year to remove myself from any romantic relationships with any female- be it mental or physical. I really had to learn who I was on my own-without the alcoholic buffer- to realize what I truly offer a future partner- or even what I am looking for or need in one myself. I am writer- a romantic in love with the chaos of beauty- the passion of instant intense connection- usually formed in unique situations that burn so hot in the beginning that no matter what it’s doomed to an ember ending- smoke signals of cruelty. A love only wonderful in prose- but a disaster in reality. Itself an addiction from reality sealed with a kiss. When two tragedies collide it’s not a recipe for romance- but always disaster. A happy ending is never in a tragedy’s future- no matter how much you will it.
So now I trek tenderly ahead. Avoiding the fire and easing into the ocean of connectivity. Treading softly for the future hearts I may encounter.
It’s just over 365 days since my last sip of the devil’s elixir. That’s one year alcohol free-it’s got me feeling like I am CM Punk. It’s funny it probably took me about eight years just for this one year to happen. The amount of time I spent in the ring boxing with the legends of depression, ptsd, anxiety, and booze earned me a PHD in getting my ass whipped. In those early fights I hadn’t learned yet not to lead with my chin-or leave my body exposed for those breath crunching kidney shots that will have you pissing a red amber color witnessed only by fisherman on nights when the sea turn angry. Over the years those rounds left me bruised, beating, and frozen with scars of failure. I couldn’t properly fight back because I had grown accustomed to the misery- that misery seemed the lesser of the two evils- the latter being honestly and truly exploring my emotions to find the root cause of my pain, and engaging in a plan of action to overcome it. I began to be more comfortable living in the misery of the terror- than in the thought of embracing the horror of what was to come. Some rounds I become so intoxicated with hate and anger I would just take an old school beating like Rocky Balboa-just to feel the pain. Other times I would come out swinging- knocking down some of these foes- but always eventually forgetting my way- and getting knocked out once again. Eventually I learned to slip a punch or two, and jab when needed. I learned I could take a punch, and punch right back- till eventually I learned my own unique fighting style and began knocking out these demons one by one.
My loyal readers will know that this blog started out as an outlet to try to find some clarity- well let’s be fucking honest- it was so I wouldn’t kill myself. I was at a point where my head was slowly convincing me that death was a good idea- and I knew if I wrote about it honestly it would be out there- a reality because it was typed. I couldn’t pretend everything was all right if the internet already knew the truth. So began my long complicated journey for mental health clarity, and I knew the only way to get there was to eliminate alcohol. It was the one x-factor that clouded all judgement- and conveniently also been my most effective and best developed coping mechanism since graduating college. Alcohol by the end only brought out the ugly in me. All my self hatred came out through vicious words and thoughtless actions. I still feel the sting of this in wondering if some friendships just became lost due to time and miles away- or did my years living in between blackouts destroy it. Those things still haunt me. Choosing alcohol over love that still haunts me. But alcohol, itself, that shit doesn’t haunt me anymore.
For I learned it never really held any power over me- rather I allowed it to be all powerful over me because it seemed the most endurable terror at the time. Luckily I found you don’t have to endure terror if you are willing to grind for mental peace instead. So grind I did, and one year later I am booze free. And now mostly demon free. Still a work in progress- but now a much less haunted one.
And thanks for all those that been reading from the start- I promise I will post more from now on.
I was lost in thought the other day- half way between meditating and thinking of new ideas- when I had this moment where I realized my life was no longer consumed by my previous PTSD/Depression. No longer did my identity revolve around the murders, or the harmful ways I attempted to address that pain. For the longest time I didn’t even realize I was living this way. PTSD and the depression that sprung forth stripped away so many things I loved. I even stopped enjoying djing for awhile. My heart wasn’t into it, and the fact that not having that love didn’t even feel off to me- looking back at those times I didn’t fathom why I no longer cared that something I loved so much I could brush aside so easily. Or why I would get soul crushing anxiety anytime I would have to play out in public. Thats the real crime of depression is it robs you from experiencing the things you love to the point you can’t even remember why they gave you joy in the first place. It was so bad that I didn’t even make a dj mix for over five years. Music become a chore- something to be endured not enjoyed. So in the past year being able to experience the joy of djing brought me all the way back to my teenage years in my basement mixing records. Having that passion rekindled in me has been beyond a blessing, and a blessing I will soon be able to share with you with a new mix in the coming weeks.
But before that glorious day my hours passed in a fog of frozen hell. I had no idea all those years later that the despair I fled in the wake of the deaths would eventually wreak so much havoc in my subconscious, and subtlety weave it’s way into my whole view of the world. It was as if I was wearing those Roddy Roddy Piper glasses in They Live- but instead of seeing aliens my eyes were clouded lenses of tragedy and fear.
Thinking back the dogma of AA prayed upon and played into those fears for many years. I was indoctrinated that I drank- not because I hadn’t properly dealt with some serious emotional pain I was suppressing- because all my pain was just resentments that the fourth step would cure with the turnarounds. For those not aware there are 12 steps in AA. The first three are basically saying you are powerless to alcohol and only god(higher power- something greater than yourself can save you from your drinking.) Alcohol is this big boogeyman in AA always in the parking lot doing push ups, and other body focused isometric exercises. Alcoholics do some terrible shit while drinking so AA professes that deep down all alcoholics are selfish and resentful at their core, and thus it’s not really your fault since you just never were were not giving a proper design for living(aka Big Book and 12 steps)before to deal with these bedevilments. So the fourth step is where you first write out all your resentments to the world- so anyone, or anything you felt has wronged you during your entire life. This is also the step where you have to to do a turnaround on said resentment- which is where you show the role you played in the resentment. For example the resentment of my brother murdering my sister, niece, and nephew was my fault because my reaction to the trauma was to drink to avoid it. Never mind the batshit logic of having to explain where your at fault for a murder is fucking nuts. Even worst AA loved when I said that. Real taking of accountability the old timers would snarl- but if you look at this beyond the surface why the fuck I am exploring such a deep and nuanced subject based on anecdotal science from a hundred years ago with a sponsor(for god bless their souls and my past ones were the best people!) whose only qualification for exploring this process with you is they themselves completed the steps. These are not licensed counselors you deal with- just normal people. So imagine the type of harm that can happen from these types of exercises even if the outright intention is not malicious. After completing the steps, sponsoring others (three of which who were in their early twenties who passed on), going to multiple meetings daily, and running a sober house I still wanted to drink. No matter how much I prayed I was still miserable. So I would drink again and then have to go back to AA and grab a newcomers white chip and start all over. And have to lie when I shared that I didn’t trust god with all my heart enough as the reason for my drinking again- not the mental anguish and toil going on from unstable brain chemistry mixed with unresolved emotional trauma. Nope just not being 100 with GOD. Or I drank because I didn’t pray hard enough, or I just didn’t want it enough- because AA is not for people who need it, it’s for people who want it. Looking back the whole process makes me want to puke.
In AA everything centers around alcohol- and the program becomes all consuming in your life where meetings serve as your new addiction. I know today I can not drink- I ruined that ability in the midst of trying to avoid my emotions. I abused this liquid escape to a point my body can no longer consume without being a total asshole that you don’t want around, who will sabotage anything good in his life. I am at peace with not drinking- plus drinking makes me fat. At my peak depression about five years ago I weighed 280 pounds-this morning I weighed in at 221(more nutrition posts to come I am into overnight oats now) But just losing the weight didn’t make me happy either. Long story short what made me happy was a long and arduous journey of self-discovery full of too many failures to count. Being able to write while feeling joy is something I feared I would never be able to experience. If I followed AA’s path I would still be stuck in that purgatory pain fog which was a living death. But as a part of my journey I am thankful for the lessons I learned along the way in AA, and the amazing people who came into my life because of it. I am not here to destroy AA- because for those it works for it is a beautiful thing. But for the others struggling today to I want them to realize there are different paths to happiness, and to keep searching to you find the right one.
As the days slowly but surely get longer, and the faint whisper of spring can be heard through vibrations of sawed off icicles. It signals one thing is soon to be coming to an end: that’s right the quarantine cuffing season is all most over, and love will soon be in the air again.
In honor of this I decided to reflect back on love. And I realized I used to write about a love so raw- so primal- so full of throat punches you could feel it pierce through your molars. A love that burned through emotions, bridges, and tsunamis of hearts. A passion that was a strike from a drone: an explosion you never see coming till your guts are caressing the canvas floor. For a fire so intense was always made to self-combust, and blow the fuck up it always did.
That type of love is not sustainable- that type of love is more of a high than a partnership. For along time I couldn’t tell the difference. I was so full of hate, rage, sadness, and anger that my vision was clouded to only see love in those same violent colors. Searching for a love so pure and intense it could replace the root of bitterness that had intertwined with my soul, and had me rushing down the raging rapids of sorrow. I was too selfish and guarded to be saved- instead I was an emotional terrorist blowing up any empathy around me.
That passion- that naivety- that listening to the lizard part of my brain forgoing all reason – well yeah I sometimes miss it-but not really. I am at that growth part in life where you are at a such a good place you know that the only person dating you right now should be you. I am currently wooing myself with 1985 wrestling dates. Future suitors take notes.
I still seek a pure love- but I am not seeking it out to save me from my own self-destruction, or as a distraction from life itself. In fact I am not really seeking it out all. I figure when fate wants it I will find that dope female of my future. Until then I always have these words I write, the love you, my beautiful readers, give me, and the pure joy of pro rasslin’ at my side.
I love my readers like corny ass Chance the Rapper loves his wife, and because of this I’m always looking for new material to write about to entertain you. You know keep our relationship spicy- the old slip a finger in the butt just to let them know you still care time in a relationship (this is probably why I am single- actually this is not even close to the reason why I am single so let’s move on shall we). So for the past week I decided to get my legal sport bet on. Mind you I am not a gambler- and before last week I had never made a sports bet other than a friendly wager among chums. Hell, I had only been to a casino once and only played slots there that reminded me of Joshi Wrestling
But this past Sunday a Holy Ghost vision of a Buccaneers victory struck me- the image appeared in neon lights in the clouds as a vision of none other than one of the shining trinities that is guiding me to greatness in 2021- yes the one and very drunk and focused Tom Brady- appeared before me.
Of course I had to bet on Brady- and of course that dude came through and I won my first bet. I also had my first taste of losing as my prop bet that Brady would gallop for more than .5 yards failed to occur. This betting win and lost would be the pinnacle of a well thought out bet, and what I dubbed a doing dumb shit bet. My initial bet was the Tampa win, and Leonard Fournette to rush for the over of 47 yards. Why I made this pick was based on logic and knowledge of said sport and players. If Tampa was going to win they needed to be able to run to get the play action pass going, and Fournette was going to be that dude to get those yards. Unfortunately fan duel went down for a bit so that bet didn’t go through, and then I decided I wanted to go for the sexier bet of Brady getting rushing yards- because we all know there is nothing more breathtaking than a good ol’ lead-foot Brady scramble.
Of course I lost that one, but at the end of the night I came out up $41.20- almost doubling my investment. And I was content with that pay out- until they pulled me back in with a free bet for the earlier technical difficulties I experienced. Now feeling pretty good after my win I decided why not get my uncut gems on and do a parlay: which is a wager where you bet multiple games to win, and only cash out if all of your picks are right.
After spending an hour going through Reddit, and various sites and Twitter feeds I came up with a perfect parlay.
It was not perfect.
Eric Gordon screwed me.
But I did learn from that loss and I got the bug to participate in the other contest to win a 7 dollar free bet when you purchase three 8 dollar over under bets. I went 2-3 on my over under and was now up just under 50 dollars with a free 7 bet. In the next couple of days I was up to almost 90 dollars when the gambling gods showed their face- like a gruesome fun house mirror mash-up of the Michael Jordan crying meme and Charles Barkley’s normal everyday mug- and I started doing a lot of small but doing dumb shit bets. Mind you at this time I was technically losing fictional money (and yes all the non broke-boys out there are judging me over this 90 dollars- but I work at a public school and I don’t have that Showtime money yet) but being able to cash out at $100 is a lot better than $25.
So back I went to the betting gods on that day after love- Valentine’s Day. A week of gambling was a lot like love itself with all those highs and lows. And just like love I decided to go all in at the end and make a wild go for broke two last bets. You know get a get a real good climax to this tale about the agony of winning and losing. And since I didn’t find love on Valentine’s Day why not go for the next best thing in life: winning money.
Plus I wanted to make up for all those doing dumb now picks like a 7 team parlay with college basketball and hockey lines.
See I don’t know shit about college basketball and hockey other than at surface level. So I can’t decipher the bullshit from the statistics that work with these sports when I am doing research on the games.
So post Valentine’s Day I was locked in. I did my research and found two perfect games to parlay. I would grab the money line (that’s for the Warriors to win straight up with no point spread) on Golden State versus the Cavs. My logic behind this pick came from the fact the Warriors had just dropped a home game to Durant and the Nets this past Saturday, and would be ramped up to play. They were also playing the Cavs at home, who would be without Andre Drummond who they just announced they were sitting till they can find a trade partner. You couldn’t really find any formulation out there that would show any momentum for the game going the Cavs way. And true to form the Warriors came out and crushed them. I doubled this game up by taking the plus 5 points for the Bulls against the Pacers. The Bulls would go to win outright in over time cementing my 97 dollar win. My other bet was a five dollar Julius Randle to score over 21 points – and dude goes off for 49 putting the exclamation point on my night of gambling dominance. I ended the night up to $106 proving that I am a lot luckier at gambling than I am with love.
In the end I hope you enjoyed this little tale of my gambling week, and how I turned 25 smackers into a hundred dollars of straight moolah. If y’all want to see me get my bet on in the future just let me know in the comments, or send me a message and I will do another one for March Madness.
All right readers I been having a bit of the old writer’s block. It’s not that I didn’t have any ideas to write about, but when I started to write the faucet I had hoped would be spewing forth tsunamis of words did not open, rather, like most middle schooler’s cameras during a zoom class, my faucet was definitely turned the fuck off.
So to engage this glacier of the mind I figured I think about what has often been the most popular content on this often malnourished of new content blog. Then it hit me: people love reading about anything promoting a healthy lifestyle, and it’s New Years so soon to be broken resolutions are in full effect. So for the past week I been getting my ITF 16-8 on! Ohh word you ain’t down win with the lingo? Well fear not for that’s why I am here to break it all down to you in it’s glory. ITF is the Poochie way of saying Intermittent Fasting- a hip now eating pattern designed to ideally make you feel better, lose weight, improve brain activity, and all that cross fit Jesus mindful commandments that are promised to you when you start praying to the kale god.
I chose the 16-8 method because I am not a sadist. This method involves eating for 8 hours and fasting for the other 16. There are other versions of fasting such as the eat-stop-eat method- where two times a week you don’t eat after dinner for 24 hours. And the 5-2 week- where two days a week you only eat 500-600 calories. But fuck those versions- we doing the 16-8!
I started this past Monday, and because I am bad at math my first two days was more of 14-10 breakdown. For two days I really thought there was only 8 hours between 11-9. Now this mistake happened because I teach individual math to two students. And these two students always make the same mistake when doing double digit subtraction of not regrouping, and just subtracting 9 from 1 as 8, when 1 is on top of 9 and thus needs help from his left side number friend to be properly subtracted. Anyway that blunder aside those days went by pretty smoothly since my lunch at work is at 11, and all I had to do was not drink my TB protein smoothie till later in the day instead of on my way to work. But alas by Wednesday I had discovered my mistake and ate my first meal at 1. Wednesday went easy- Thursday and Friday a bit of the hangry definitely arouse during the morning- had me feeling a bit on edge like a tween wearing her first pair of Vans to school, and then coming home to listen to Billie Eilish records on a turntable- all the while smugly mocking U2 for losing its edge even though they kept their guitarist. ( washed references are in full effect today.) As you can see by the now onslaught of words I am bombarding you with that by the end of weekend I awoke feeling full, and with the extra energy of the my pillow guy when he used to sleep on a pillow of crack each night. So I am going to keep it up the fasting for the next-week- see how my body reacts as I kneel at the altar of the kale god once more.
Speaking of my body this is where we talk about being washed. For being washed I use the example my man Desus put forth stating, “Being washed is a state of matter much like solid or liquid or plasma. Anything or anyone can be washed. The only known Law of the Washed Universe is that it happens to everyone.”
Embracing my washedness is a key on my journey to enlightenment. But sometimes you got to show yourself you still got it. So I found myself in race against time- aka my sixth grade student. As we turned for the homestretch of that basketball gym floor homeboy was right next to me-cue ‘Chariots of Fire’ music in the background- so I sprinted as hard as I could to barely beat him to the finish line. But washed or not I still had to prove I could still go when needed. Speaking of washed I just spent ten minutes trying to remember that Chariots of Fire was the name of that movie. A reference so old it came out a year before I was born.
So if you are wondering embrace being washed. Enjoy that gray in your beard, warm yourself with a cozy bathrobe and black tea, and come to terms that all your witty references will now go over anyone’s head who is old enough to be on the TikTok. But remember like Gucci Mane preaches continue to embrace your inner greatness and destroy all completion. If you see a sixth grader you race that student. And well- you beat that student. You embrace your inner Cobra Kai- no mercy.
Also shout out to Tom Brady for getting to the NFC finals, and proving he was an ideal choice for guidance to lead to me to a better self. And like that hunk I am drinking a lot of water. At least 16 glasses a day. It’s great. I feel hydrated as polar bear chillin under a waterfall in the Lazy River at Water Country.
My loyal readers I know I been absent. In the past five months you might have feared I ventured back to my demons; but alas worry not- because since August 10 my days have been full of progress, acceptance, a complete overhaul and cut back on meds, some weed smoking, no fucking alcohol, and actual happiness. I was finally able to visit my sister’s grave on the anniversary this past October for the first time since the funeral in 2004.
And for once my soul feels uncluttered of the albatross of anger and depression that had imprisioned my ability to truly perceive life for what it truly could be. When you are under the intoxication that is depression your world view becomes severely skewed. Now I feel so disconnected from those past years- as if those last 12 years of memories were of some doppelgänger- my own Twin Peaks Bob- as they are only remembered as securely as an etch-a-sketch drawing.
Luckily, like Cormega before me, I was built for this.
Yesterday was James Baldwin’s birthday- an author whose words always leave me in awe. So today I reflected on one of his quotes, “To accept one’s past—one’s history—is not the same thing as drowning in it; it is learning how to use it. An invented past can never be used; it cracks and crumbles under the pressures of life like clay in a season of drought.”
So in the past few weeks I have been really diligently trying to be mindful so I don’t return to my past harmful ways of thought. It means having to be truly insightful, and honest of my past behaviors- especially the selfish ones that came from fear. It meant embracing the fact I hadn’t truly been pushing myself for being stagnant is oh so comfortable. It’s realizing I feared failure more than I desired success. It meant looking in the mirror and deciding I was not going to let my old ways of thought bury my future happiness . And it meant learning past failures are key for they unlock the skills for future joy. And most importantly it meant sacrificing immediate happiness and comfort to experience the discomfort of growth. Which I exemplified by not pursuing a relationship with a truly beautiful girl because you realize lust is not a foundation you build relationships on. That looking outside for validation only ruins yourself and the other soul’s ability for connection, and ultimate growth. That two boats letting in water don’t fix each other’s holes- and in the end it just leads to two people drowning even quicker. Each an anchor preventing one another from reaching the shore ahead.
So Instead of drowning in past failures I am actively learning from them. Some days I still want to drink, and instead of simply running with the thought and mindlessly allowing for it to occur; I now challenge it. Realizing that maybe that thought is occurring from a lack of connection with others; my own loneliness gutting through my belly causing such feelings of emptiness. Maybe it’s the routine of the past, and a desire for a return to turbulence out of the current tranquil waters I swim in now. Maybe it’s just my brain firing on old pathways I haven’t successfully rewired yet. Either way the only thing I know for certain is today those pathways have a big ass detour sign in front of them blocking those shortcuts of sabotage.
For I agree with Baldwin that our past always shapes us, but it never defines us. With our first morning breath we choose which path we will follow today. Our footing as solid, or perilous as we wish for rock solid foundations are only built with time and effort. Each day I am putting in the effort to reshape my future. Each night knowing my past has helped guide the way to this current future. And each day struggling towards a better tomorrow.
Baseball opens up this week- which honestly does not excite me as much as I thought it would. I am still mad the Red Sox did not pay Mookie Betts, and instead traded him and World Series hero David Price for a bucket of balls. In a sport with no salary cap, and homegrown super star, who is arguably the second best player in the game, to be traded at 27 years old is disgusting. But I will admit the many Works Series rings the Red Sox have won the past 15 years has quelled the anger a bit. But it did make me reminisce to the day when I truly believed I never would see a Red Sox title, and back to the worst year of my life 2004. And from all that tragedy a mammoth Dominican named David Ortiz saved my life- or at least my hope. So I have remixed a story from my MFA novel about the stubborn faith of hope, and the unlikely saviors who show you it exists.
I have to admit something now that I should take to my grave. I think I used to be a Yankees fan.
I want to think I might be making this Yankee story up because could I really have rooted for something so evil? I can’t fathom doing it, but then again why would I make up anything so terrible? It’s definitely a repressed memory as if the Yankees molested me in my youth. I picture having to go on the stand while Don Mattingly looks at me from the defense stand, wispy moustache and all, and winks at me as the prosecutor brought out a doll and asked me where he made me put the New York hat. It’s all too horrifying to remember.
What made me think of this memory was a vision of me at four years old in New Jersey, and standing on the doorstep of my uncle Chris’s house decked out in a full baseball uniform. The uniform had pinstripes. It wasn’t red either. I think I am going to be sick.
I was also going going to be sick because my uncle Chris was at work, and his wife Gi Gi was going to make breakfast. In my memory she is Jersey through and through, and seemed like she could have been a mob wife—you know, polyester pant suit and all, and she probably had big hair. What I do remember distinctly was how she used about a dozen eggs, shells included, to make the worst scrambled eggs in the history of all scrambled eggs. If they made a shiny medal to inadequate and god-awful eggs, she would have won. I am not sure she understood the concept of cooking, but at least to her benefit she gave it the old college try.
So here I am, a chubby little four –year-old Babe Ruth, sitting at the kitchen table covering my plate of eggs in mountains of ketchup that made these runny eggs look like they were hemorrhaging blood, and all the while trying to be polite and eat what’s in front of me in a fucking Yankees uniform. This was a memory that should have stayed suppressed.
In 2003 I thought it was our year. When you’re a Red Sox fan every season has to be the year. But now this was the year. I was living in apartment right off of the UNH campus with Loafy and Justin. Loafy and I had started a tradition to celebrate each Red Sox victory by table diving. Table diving was exactly how it sounds. We had a long hallway in our apartment with a table we used to play drinking games on. The table was blue and sturdy as hell. It had to be through all the abuse we put it through. The goal of table diving was to stand at the far end of the hallway while we flipped the table on one its ends, so when you impacted it you would be able to ride it to the other side off the hallway and be catapulted off as the table landed back on its other side. If you took the table at the wrong angle, you would fly off the side and into the wall where there were a few holes to commemorate table divers whose dives went off course. After each Red Sox win I would wake up bruised and hung-over. And yet after every Sox win I would stare down the table, start running, and leap into that table with sheer exhilaration knowing that any bruise I received was worth it to dismiss eighty- five years of torture.
After the Red Sox won their first playoff series against Oakland, it seemed as if all of UNH headed downtown to celebrate. The police would say we went to riot. The next day on front of the page of the UNH school paper was a picture of Loafy standing on top of a car, “Howard Dean for President,” t-shirt prominently displayed across his chest, leading a chant of “Yankees Suck,” with the headline, “UNH Comes Close to a Responsible Celebration.”
After the Oakland win the Red Sox were going against the dreaded Yankees for the right to go the World Series. Seven games later it was not our year. Aaron F’N Boone broke our hearts in the twelfth inning of game seven, launching a home run off Tim Wakefield. This was only after Grady Little inexplicitly left Pedro Martinez in for too long in the eighth inning and set up our doomed fate. It was as if the Gods were conspiring to make the Red Sox lose in the most brutal ways possible. I felt as if I was at Guantanamo Bay with a battery charger hooked up to my genitals. Why do the Yankees always win?
Then 2004 came and a 6’4”, nearly 300 -pound Dominican man restored my faith. His name was David and he slayed the Goliath of baseball. Everyone writes about the Red Sox winning the World Series after so many heart-wrenching and heartbreaking losses over and over again. Jimmy Fallon even made a horrible movie about it that no true Red Sox fan can stomach. If someone tells you that they like that movie know they are probably some asshole Cowboys fan who grew up in San Diego and has a Yankees ball cap in their closest. But the 2004 series was more than baseball to me. This was a referendum to me that life wasn’t futile and just full of heartbreaking pain. I am not talking about heaven, religion, or any of that bullshit. I am talking about real life miracles. This was a team that was down and out and on the verge of a humiliation, and most importantly elimination. No team comes back from this. History has taught us this much. Who could ever in the wildest dreams think the Sox could come back? We are talking about a team down three games to none to an evil empire that has feasted off and inflicted so much misery on them throughout history. They were the smug villain in the Eighties movies with the hot girlfriend, and here I was rooting for the Ducky of baseball, a team destined to always be second rate. Good guys only overcome these odds in the safety of cinema.
People love to belittle sports as not meaning anything. It’s just a game they say, and of course it’s just a game. But the magic is found in it is its ability to transcend one’s life, and for a few hours make us believe in the impossible. It’s a never-ending novel with twists and turns and the Red Sox was the protagonist I followed through all the bad times and well, more bad times. Sports have this unique ability to put the gifted on a pedestal, where they either succeed or fail on the grandest stage possible. There are statistics to judge them, and championships at the end to reward them. Life is never this uncomplicated. So when I was feeling the worst in life I turned to the Red Sox for hope. Sure, in the end they wouldn’t bring back what I lost, but they could bring something I thought I had lost, and that was hope. And no matter how much life throws at you, you can never let hope escape from you. If you lose hope, your fate is doomed. So I rooted for the Sox with this in mind, knowing after what I just experienced something good had to happen.
The first night I went out on town after my sister, niece, and nephew were murdered was game three of the divisional series and the Yankees were already up two games to none. I was with Justin and we were barhopping in Portsmouth. The goal was to get drunk. Rip-roaring, shouting- at –the-moon, biting –the- heads- off- bats drunk. We succeeded. But every pint I threw back or shot I took didn’t change how I felt. The Red Sox was how I felt and they played like it. Every inning the score was worse. Every bar we hopped to welcomed us with another Yankee run. It was 19-7 by the end, and I was blacked out. It was fitting the Yankees won with a score that resembled the last time the Red Sox won a World Series. As I puked on someone’s flowerbed it all seemed too fitting. The Red Sox always lost. At least some things hadn’t changed.
I watched game four in my parents’ basement curled up on a futon with a blanket that could be pulled over my eyes to shield me from the inevitable loss I was about to witness. I needed to watch this alone. Rooting for the Sox was I guess like putting faith in religion. You know it’s going to fail you in the end, but each year you still blindly follow, hoping that your endurance and faith will be rewarded.
I spent most of the game with an impending sense of dread. Even if they won this game, there was no way they could pull of four straight. They were playing the Yankees, Curt Schilling was hurt, and these are the Red Sox. I love them, but they are fuck-ups when it comes to winning the big game. I pondered turning the channel. Maybe watch a cooking show on the Food Channel, or a reality show on VHI. Hell, maybe read a book. Or even fly a kite. Anything seemed like it would be better than torturing myself with this game. But I am a masochist, hence a Red Sox fan, and I had to watch every minute, as gruesome as it may turn out to be.
Everything was going according to plan. The Yankees were winning going into the ninth and quite possibly the greatest closer in baseball, Mariana Rivera, was coming in for the close. The Sox were a run down and with him on the mound that might as well be ten runs. Rivera does not blow this save. The Yankees don’t blow this game. History taught us this. But I still blindly believed. I needed to believe in something. So why not the impossible?
And then the impossible happened. Kevin Millar walked and the atmosphere at the stadium changed. I looked at the clock it was 11:58, not quite midnight, but midnight in a perfect world was about to happen. It was like every Red Sox fan was hit by lightning and suddenly realized, you know, we might be able to win this after all. Dave Roberts pinch ran for Millar, and we all knew he was going to try to steal second. If this was a movie, Dave Roberts would have been the aging star, down on his luck, and his career in its twilight. He would know his fate was to steal this base. In the movie everything would slow down. Roberts would saunter out to first and dig in with his cleats, kicking dirt and slowly building his lead from first. The pitcher would stare down the plate and then Roberts at first. The sweat would be sneaking down the pitcher’s skin and he would rifle a throw over to first to try to keep Roberts close. Roberts would dive back safe. Roberts would dust himself off and build his lead again. The pitcher would sneak another look back and then fire a fast ball to the plate. Roberts would be off with the pitch. The camera would pan the crowd leaping to its feet, and cut back in slow motion to the pitch hitting the catcher’s glove with a loud thud and the catcher rifling the throw to second. Then there would be silence as Roberts slid into the back of the second base bag and the tag is applied on him. The umpire would then appear to signal he was safe. The crowd would roar.
And this really just happened! Roberts just stole second! Roberts stole second! Holy shit! I need to high-five something. I’ll high-five myself. Any other game he gets thrown out. But he did it, and Rivera was rattled. This was like when Hulk Hogan slammed Andre the Giant. The impossible just happened and for once you knew the Sox were going to pull this off. Robert’s steal had put the Yankees on the rope, and then Bill Mueller’s single into left them staggering as Roberts scored to tie the game. We were headed to extra innings.
In the bottom of the 12th inning David Ortiz strolled to the plate with fate on his side. Fenway erupted with cheers, and was willing Papi to come through. I was sitting on the futon emotionally drained. But as Papi dug into the batter’s box, and did his ritual of spitting into the hands of his batting gloves, I felt nothing but hope. For once I truly believed the Red Sox were going to come through. And just like that he rocketed the next pitch out of the yard for a home run to win the game. I was in shock. My face was wet with tears, but I was smiling.
This win had helped me find something I feared was lost forever. This meant more to me than any baseball game will ever mean again. You have to realize I never felt worse in my life. My sister and her two kids, whom I adored more than anything in the world, were dead. And I was rooting for a team that cultivated misery, and I assumed they would lose and I could wallow in my pity. I expected that. I mean who wouldn’t? But in the matter of a few hours I went from debating changing the channel because I didn’t need any more heartbreak in my life, to watching the Sox rally on the of the greatest closers in history, and Big Papi hit a 12th inning game-winning home run. The hope they gave me meant more than anything in life. I questioned my faith so much, so to combat this I put all my faith in the Sox, assuming they would fail. But they didn’t. There was hope for me after all.
I get it that people look down on sports as an art form, but those baseball players for the Sox renewed my faith in mankind. Isn’t real art determined by the impact it has on you emotionally? If the Sox can come back even for one game against the evil of the world, that meant I too could overcome the pain that was trapped inside me. Thank God for Big Papi because with one swung he changed everything.
The Red Sox went on to do the impossible by coming back from 3-0 hole to their most hated rival, something that had never happened in the history of baseball before, and then went on to sweep the St. Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. Eighty-six years of baggage forever gone, which proved to me you can’t change your history, but you can change your destiny.