Tag Archives: baseball

Baseball, Opening Day and fresh starts

It’s perhaps my favorite day of the year. Baseball. Opening Day.

I have a few rituals. I always watch my team, the Fightin’ Phils. And I clean my Phillies shrine and burn a little red candle for good luck. What the hell, it can’t hurt.

Calling on the spirit of Larry Bowa and Dickie Knowles ...

Calling on the spirit of Larry Bowa and Dickie Noles …

There’s something magical about Opening Day. It’s a fresh start. Everything starts anew. Zero to zero. Anything can happen.

One of my fondest childhood memories is riding my lime green bike with the banana seat to Mr. Food to buy packs of baseball cards. They cost 15 cents a pack. I would buy as many as I could afford, saving enough money for a pint of Icy Tea in bright orange cartons.

I would sit outside on the curb with my brother and our friends, the summer sun lighting up our faces as we opened our packs and sipped our drinks. Inside the wax wrapper, anything was possible. We shuffled through the cards looking for Phillies players. Steve Carlton, Mike Schmidt, Greg Luzinski. These were gold. After making a few curbside trades, we shoved our stacks of cards in our pockets and pedaled home, our fingers white from the powder-coated sticks of gum.

That’s the thing about an unopened pack of baseball cards. Anything is possible.

That’s the thing about Opening Day. Anything is possible.

It’s funny, but I don’t feel the same excitement today as I have in previous years.

It’s not that the Phillies are pegged to win only 70 some games this year or that the majority of their players are almost as old as me (ok, so maybe not that old).

It’s that I don’t feel the need for a new start these days. Things with W are good. Better than good. Maybe better than ever. And I have my writers’ group and a work in progress. I have so much besides baseball to look forward to.

Most of my life has been spent starting over, wiping the slate clean. Trying again and again and again. Letting go and moving on.

But right now I don’t feel that need. I feel like staying put. Digging my heels in at the plate and swinging for the fences.

If you’re interested, you can read last year’s post on Opening Day here.

It’s a glorious day to be a baseball fan

We interrupt this week’s romance-themed posts to bring you this special, two-word announcement:

Pitchers.

Catchers.

Pitchers and catchers

Ah, summer, we hardly knew ye

Wow, summer is almost over.  I was in the grocery store yesterday and overheard a group of rabid moms chanting, “One more day, one more day!”  Kids here go back to school on Monday.  Nothing like overworked, overtired mothers throwing their kids under the school bus.

It’s been a weird and wacky  summer.  Our oldest was away at camp for six weeks.  The middle one was home for about half the summer but is now back living at his dad’s house.  The youngest spends long stretches of time in his room.  So, Middle-age butch had lots of time to herself.

xx

I had planned on being this version of Wonder Woman.  Nothing beats a classic.

I had planned on being super productive this summer: Cooking healthy and tasteful meals using fresh produce purchased from our local farm stand, writing ten chapters for my memoir, cleaning up the yard, building a brick “pad” for under my bird feeder, organizing the house, romancing W, saving the world and blogging about everything in my downtime.

Turns out that I did the opposite of that, which pretty much means that I did nothing.  I have learned that I am irresponsible when it comes to idle time and work much better under the pressure of a deadline.  Must be the writer in me.

The summer wasn’t a total loss, though.  Here are some highlights:

  • Finished a few memoir chapters.  Perhaps, more importantly, I got back to getting down and dirty and writing about the things that really matter, even though they are the hardest to write about.
    • This was us ... well, if we were dogs instead of lesbians.
    • This was us … well, if we were dogs instead of lesbians.

    Strengthened my relationship with W.  We had a lot of alone time this summer.  We even had a romantic dinner at a nice Italian place that had live music.  It was just like Lady and the Tramp, except that we’re lesbians and not dogs.  Although I have been called a dog more than once.  We’ve been putting a lot of time and effort into improving our relationship and our communication, and it’s been paying off.

  • Went to P-Town, just me and W.  Saw a whale, a drag show (I will never look at Katy Perry the same way) and a whole lot of gay boys in very short shorts.
  • Fed and pet a pair of giraffes.  I love giraffes.  So gentle, so graceful, so beautiful.  We have a small zoo near us that currently has two males on loan from other zoos.  W got pictures of me feeding them.  I’m even smiling.
  • Went to the Jersey Shore.  Found shells on the beach.  Ate pizza and french fries and drank lemonade.
  • Discovered a writer named Ivan Coyote, who has blown my butch mind wide open.  Ivan, I hope to grow up to be just like you.
    • xx
    • If I could, I would eat everything in miniature plastic batting helmets.

    Went to a ball game.  Not a major league game but a minor league game.  Drank beer.  Ate ice cream out of a plastic baseball helmet.  Note: This is the all-time best way to eat ice cream.  Kept score.  Admired the green, green grass.  Loved every single minute of it.

  • Made multiple batches of rustic tomato sauce with farm-fresh tomatoes and homegrown basil.  And, BLTs with beautiful, ripe, red tomatoes.
  • Saw a lot of movies.  Favorite: The Way, Way Back.
  • Celebrated my one-year anniversary with WordPress.

So, with summer wrapping up, I’m looking forward to getting back to normal, to daily to-do lists and kids at school, to cooler days and a more industrious frame of mind.

Some goals:

  • Work on my memoir and other creative writing.
  • Blog, focusing on quality and not quantity.
  • Romance the socks off of W (even though she rarely wears socks).
  • Organize, fix up, clean up the house.
  • Live healthier.
  • Spend more quality time with the kids.
  • Continue to move forward and reveal more of who I am.

It’s interesting.  My life has been filled with so many transitions.  I came out later in life, identified as a lesbian, then called myself a “soft” butch because it seemed less offensive.  Now, it’s just “butch.”  It’s all been an evolution, and I find that I’m not done changing, growing, learning.

A writer friend of mine said that when all that we want to do is lounge around in our elastic-waisted sweatpants and watch TV, there’s a reason for it.  We should allow ourselves to do so, taking note of what we’re watching and how that might be exactly what we need at the moment.

I think it’s good advice to not be so hard on ourselves and to feel deserving of our down time.

So, folks, your favorite butch is rested, relaxed and ready for just about anything.  Bring it on, world.

* * *

What about you?  How was your summer?  Any highlights?

Friends in low places

I was mowing the grass yesterday in my front yard when I saw a neighbor pull up in his white Lincoln Continental.  My son hightailed it into the house with a quick “bye.”

This neighbor lives down the street — maybe 5 or 6 houses down — but always parks near our house.  I have no idea why.

He was most likely coming home from work, and I thought the loudness from the lawnmower would deter him from stopping and chatting.  It didn’t.

He walked right up to our fence and started talking.  Out of politeness, I stopped the lawnmower.

He was talking about baseball.  About his Orioles and an upcoming series with the Jays.  Something about the Yankees.  We both despise the Yankees.

He mumbles a lot and is difficult to understand.  I usually respond with broad statements.  “Yep.”  “I dunno.”  “We’ll see.”  “You never know.”

These cover a lot of ground.

He’s an older man in his late 60s or maybe early 70s.  Trim with a white beard and soft features.  He reminds me of Uncle Jesse from the Dukes of Hazard except he’s skinnier and never wears denim overalls.  He refers to himself and his friends as “good ol’ boys.”

He first approached me right after we moved into our house.  He saw our Phillies flag and struck up a conversation about baseball.  We talked starting pitching, the Red Birds and the standings in the AL East.  I strained to maintain my end of the muddled conversation.

Jesse Duke of Dukes of Hazard fame

That’s when he dropped the K-bomb.  Or, the KKK-bomb, to be exact.I didn’t know what to say.  Didn’t he know he was talking to a lesbian?  I’m pretty easy to spot.  I’m what you call a 100 footer.  “A girl/woman that you can tell is a lesbian from 100 feet away,” the Urban Dictionary says.

I probably should have indicated my disgust with anything that has to do with the Ku Klux Klan or racism or discrimination in general.

But, I didn’t.  I thought I would just steer clear.

And, that’s what I did.  I dodged him as best as I could, circling the block if I saw him walking up the street or waiting to leave the house if he was parking his car nearby.

I started becoming aware of the neighbor’s tics and tocks as he traveled up and down our street.  Sometimes he has these outbursts — profanity laced tirades — that can be heard from inside our home.  On occasion, there are shouting matches that take place in front of his house.  He yells that they’ll be sorry — all of them.  He talks and gestures to invisible companions in an agitated manner.  Fists raised and wagging.

I soon realized that our neighbor has a mental illness.

And, that’s all I know.  I don’t know his first name or last.  I don’t know whether he really knows any KKK Grand Wizards or clansmen or if he has a white hood in his closet.   I don’t know if he hates blacks and gays and Jews.  I don’t know where he works or what he does.  I don’t know if he takes medication or is supposed to and just doesn’t.  I don’t know who he lives with.  Or, if he was ever married.  Or, ever fell in love.  If someone was ever sweet and tender with him.

I see his soft, rounded features and immediately think that he has had a hard life.  That life was so hard and brutal that it beat its fists against him until any sharp spots or angles were forcefully transformed into curves and half circles.

I don’t know if this is true, but it’s what I believe.

As the years have passed, the neighbor still strikes up conversations with me.  And, I try my best to listen and respond appropriately.  I don’t avoid him as much as I used to.  He has never been aggressive, rude or threatening in my presence.

We mostly talk baseball. He knows the standings in each division to the half game.  He asks if I know who Johnnie B. Baker is.  (Answer: Dusty Baker, former Dodgers great and current manager of the Cincinnati Reds.)  He tells me his Orioles can’t let up with the play-offs on the horizon.  “Yep,” I say.

Sometimes he tells me about his “gals.”

He thought his newly acquired Lincoln would be a chick magnet of sorts.  All long and fancy and shiny and white.  A status symbol from a bygone era.

1975 Lincoln Continental Mark IV

He tells me about the gal that he has his eye on.  Someone that he knew from the old days.  And, another who waited on him last week.  I imagine someone like Flo with tall hair serving him hotcakes with a side of wise cracks and a snap of pink bubblegum.  That’s the kind of woman he would like.  Someone with some spark and spunk and a twinkle in her eye, even though they would get into heated, throw-the-plate-at-the-floor fights nearly every day of the week.

Florence Jean Castleberry

I often wonder if he realizes that I am a woman in men’s cargo shorts and Phillies T-shirts.  Sometimes I wait for him to punch me on the shoulder and give me a wink.  “You know how them gals can be,” I imagine him saying.

But it always comes back to baseball.  His beloved Orioles are surging, 3.5 games behind the dreaded Yankees.  My Phillies are in the tank.  “Maybe next year,” I tell him.  “You never know,” I add.

I go in the house and one of the kids asks who I was talking to.

“A friend,” I say.