Category Archives: Essay

Berroa and the Blue October

I’ve been a Royals fan for all 27 years of my life and until Friday sometimes it felt like all I had to show for it was this lousy t-shirt.

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OK, it’s actually a jersey. I have a few other Royals t-shirts, too, ones of Mark Teahen, David DeJesus and Jeremy Affeldt that I got for free back during the “T-Shirt Tuesday” giveaways of 2006 and 2007. This jersey, however, didn’t come for free. I received it as a birthday gift in 2003. My parents got it personalized on Eastbay for me so I could walk around displaying my love of the Royals through my favorite player at the time: (gulp) Angel Berroa. Continue reading

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Going Back to Philly

Phila

Philadelphia was the first city I truly experienced. As a suburban Midwesterner, my jaunts into urban centers growing up consisted of family vacations to Chicago or St. Louis and trips to downtown Kansas City in which my high school friends and I would eat BBQ and then sneak into a pool on the rooftop of a Westin Hotel (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!).

Then I moved to Philadelphia the summer of 2007 for an internship. Though my job was writing for the Bucks County Courier Times, I had little desire to experience life in another suburb 1,500 miles from the one where I had spent so many years. So I subletted a place in University City with a few Penn students and commuted via SEPTA every morning.

Our apartment was….cozy. I’m pretty sure late seventeenth century day-laborers built it as part of William Penn’s original plan for Philadelphia, and it had been renovated once since then, in 1882 perhaps. It was located at 39th and Ludlow, an intersection that combined a little bit of Penn with a little bit of West Philly. Here in the mornings, it was normal to see overly-preppy Ivy League students walk to class on sidewalks splayed with tiny green vials that had contained drugs the night before.

As excited as I had been to move to a big city, I didn’t always like what I had to see. I needed some time to adjust to the people and my surroundings. Here’s a story from an earlier blog post I’ve written about that summer: Continue reading

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Forward in Boston

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I went to Boston last weekend because I wanted to see the marathon the year after.

Marathons have environments that defy logic. I’ve seen them in St. Louis, Kansas City, Dallas and now Boston. To think: An event that considers its origin the death of a Greek messenger sharing the good news of a battle is equated with a party. But it’s true. Marathons have evolved from the necessity of Pheidippides, to the straight-business approach of most of the twentieth century, to block parties full of behavior that would be considered odd in about every other circumstance. Continue reading

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Being in India

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The car accident was actually the perfect welcome to India. About ten or fifteen of us, fresh off the plane and jetlagged from twenty hours of travel, boarded a bus for a ninety minute ride from the Kochi Airport to the hotel in Thrissur. It was inescapable to not quickly notice that we would experience an eventful ride. Continue reading

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Stuff…and not having any of it

For two weeks this summer I had to be a drifter. This transformation of lifestyle was driven not by choice but rather inconvenience as the lease at my old place ended on July 31, a full two weeks before the lease at my new place began. This is a common problem in State College, where I live as a writer, aka a conscientious objector of the real world.  Unlike in most cities, where I suspect these two weeks would be viewed as an obvious nuisance, State College has the perfect can-do attitude that turns any obstacle into an opportunity. This city, after all, ranks among the places leading this country in intelligence, as well as among the places leading this country in arrests for drunkenly stumbling into the wrong house at 4 a.m. (Ed’s note: The mayor would not confirm this last detail for me.) One of my friends opined, in fact, that bumming around on couches is a Hajj-ian experience for college town residents, an action that must be undertaken at least once. Over these two weeks I easily found refuge at two friends’ apartments and was even able to sleep on a mattress. There was no need for an extended stay motel or to browse AirBNB. Problem solved.

So the hard part wasn’t securing a free bed; it was figuring out what to do with my bed. WTF was I going to do with all my stuff? Continue reading

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The last match of James Blake

Source: AOL

I bought so many headbands in the fall of 2005. Not the 90s fashionable kind for women, mind you, the athletic kind. I bought a black headband and a Carolina blue headband with the white Nike swoosh, a red headband with the black Jordan jump-man logo and, knowing my taste in tropical colors, probably something neon yellow.

I bought all of these headbands because of James Blake. He had become my favorite athlete. Continue reading

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Kansas City in the Summertime

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I was in the Crossroads on Thursday night. Drove down there from Johnson County with my dad.  Thunder clouds hung overhead, gray but not entirely threatening, and summer’s humidity snuck through the windows, which were cracked open an inch or two as the air conditioner blasted.

I love the Crossroads. Set a few blocks from downtown, this area has a Wild West feel. There’s enough grit and wide openness to imagine yourself in a self-sustaining enclave isolated from the glitz and rush of a city, but the tall buildings touching the sky in the distance assure you that everything you need is right here. Continue reading

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Subway or No Way

All Subway “sandwich artists” employ one of two very precise techniques for slathering mayonnaise (NOT Miracle Whip) on their god-awful sandwiches. Their choice is dependent on the utensils available at the respective restaurants. Some Subways carry the plastic spatula. The artists at these establishments dip this rectangular piece of plastic into a square-ish receptacle – also made of plastic – twirl the spatula until it is sufficiently coated in mayo and then splotch the mayo back and forth on the sandwich in a motion almost entirely unlike one used by Monet as he applied a final touch to his canvas, searching for a perfect measure of abstraction.

Other Subway restaurants store the mayonnaise in a canister similar to the type used for ketchup and mustard. These canisters are opaque, the better to prevent customers from seeing the yellow, solidified state the mayonnaise has reached while it has lingered away from refrigeration for several hours. The artists squeeze the mayonnaise out and in a fluid motion they zig-zag it over and over and over again atop the cold cuts. Though the strategies involve markedly different skill sets, each leads to the same frustrating, invariable conclusion, which is a mayonnaise-soaking so deep and thick that a small rodent could drown on that piece of nine-grain honey oat bread.

I imagine the sandwich artists are trained how to spread mayonnaise during orientation when they are newly hired. Some middle-manager on a video tutorial probably says, “Remember kid. You can never give someone enough mayonnaise.” After taking a few minutes to display a good mayonnaise-drenching, the middle-manager, I suspect, must also train the newbie employees to accept the look on the face they are bound to see from the customer whose sandwich has been dampened, which is, invariably, a look of resignation.

I haven’t been to Subway in a long time. Continue reading

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Boston, sorrow and leisure

Thomas McDermott won the first Boston Marathon, back in 1897. He suffered from cramps and blisters most of the way and by the end could peel some of the skin off the soles of his feet. He vowed to never run a marathon again but by the next year was back in Boston, finishing a  minute faster. I suspect he must have experienced the same tortuous emotions, the grueling pain that is in fact pleasure of the highest so many marathon runners have experienced at Boston for over a century and hoped to again on Monday. Continue reading

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You Mad at the World, Bro?

World Basketball Project

Defeating the world is not as hard as it sounds, particularly in March. In this awesome month of green beer, spring break and college basketball, the world becomes an opponent of many coaches and athletes, with nearly everyone involved in college basketball regularly declaring that “it’s us against the world.”

Yes, somebody has already said  and will continue to say those exact insufferable words during March Madness, or they’ll say something similar, perhaps explaining that nobody, and they mean nobody, believed in them. Or, if the timing is just right, they’ll say both.

“It was us against the world,” Louisville’s Peyton Siva said to USA Today upon making the Final Four last year. “Nobody believed in us.” Continue reading

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