The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Archive for August 2018

It Took 48 Years

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How often do you say that you don’t feel your age?  You don’t!  And why should you hide that feeling?  It’s grown difficult the past decade to recognize on sight people who are in your age range because you don’t feel you look like them physically (despite your grayed-out goatee), plus you can still run faster than you did when you were sixteen, plus you’re a high school teacher and it’s true what they say about the kids keeping you young.  If all that isn’t enough, you’ve never seen cause to stop doing some things you’ve done since you were a kid, like playing video games and watching your fair share of animated television shows.

Sadly, this feeling of not feeling your age has been shot in the ass in the last month.  Perhaps you should have paid closer mind to the consequences of hubris as conveyed in Classical Mythology.

48

It started with tuna salad.  You’ve got a damn good recipe (try it!).  But it makes too much for one person, so you usually give some away.  You didn’t last time.  You kept it around longer than you should, which you swear wasn’t that long, and bam!  Within two days, you had enough gas to inflate The Hindenburg (with potentially the same results).  That was followed by violent diarrhea.  Like Krakatoa, minus the lava.  The only good thing that came from this whole experience was learning a new definition of “uncomfortable.”  Some people might be thinking to themselves, “I already know what uncomfortable means…”.  They don’t.  Uncomfortable is when you’re leasing an Air BnB in Ann Arbor, Michigan before the food poisoning fully set in, and then the food poisoning fully sets in.  It arrived in a manner similar to the Uruk Hai arriving at Helm’s Deep.  And you weren’t staying in one of those private-access, private-entrance Air BnBs.  It was the spare bedroom in a young Asian doctor’s townhouse, down the hall from her master bedroom.  At 3:30am, you had to make the longest walk of your life fifteen feet down the hall and knock on her door and ask her to take you to the emergency room.

Stories that start like that never end well unless the first line is “Dear Penthouse…”.

So you got a few bags of hydration at UM Hospital, laid low the next day, and still made it to the soccer match you were there for in the first place.  You even had enough pep in your step to tailgate and fully enjoy the experience.  But be careful, because, “…you’re still weak and dehydrated and blah blah blah,” said the ER doctor.  No problem.  You can chill and recover.  But for two weeks?  It turns out you were so gutted that the probiotics in your gut were blasted away with everything else.  So you can’t digest dairy.  Every time you had a big bowl of Honey-Nut Cheerios and a container of Chobani for breakfast, which is practically every other day, you were treated to an episode of The Return of Violent Diarrhea.  You can’t figure this out until you take the probiotics your regular doctor said to take, and cut out all dairy.  They probably told you this in the ER.  That was probably the “blah blah blah” part.  Great job listening, wiseass.

Things settle down in time for you to take a trip the next week with the girlfriend to Door County.  You’re feeling strong and healthy, mostly, and are happy you made your summer weight goal even if the last few pounds came by way of diarrhea and dehydration.  Monday morning rolls around, and you wake up with a back spasm.  But this isn’t your typical back spasm.  Your typical back spasms are in your trapezius, and even those aren’t so typical since you haven’t had one for eight years.  But you know what a back spasm feels like, and what you’re feeling feels like one, right there at your right kidney.  Damn, what a sting.  Still, no worries.  You know how to deal with spasms.  Some ice and Aleve are enough.  Cut back a little bit on your regular workout routine, and it’ll work out.  Even the chiropractor a few days later said, “Yep.  That’s a back spasm.”  She tweaked the hell out of it with her thumbs (which outta be registered with the police) and told you to put some heat on it.  Okay.  Gotcha.

You wake up a week ago and head to yoga class to work out some kinks and get some good stretching in.  It’s hard to believe that back spasm is still with you, huh?  But hey—you’re so active in the summer, so maybe that’s why it’s lingering.  But what about those funny bumps you feel on your back at your kidney, right where the spasm occurred?  When you look in the mirror at home after class:  Holy fucking shit.  Those things look nasty!  And they’re wrapping around from your back to your navel.  What the hell is going on?

Shingles is what the hell is going on.  Congratulations.  You’re officially getting old.  It took 43 years, but Shingles (also known as Chickenpox II:  The Reckoning) has finally emerged.  It’s been waiting since you were four years old.  All it needed was to find a time when your immune system was weak, combined with some life stresses.  “That wasn’t a back spasm,” your doctor says.  “That was Shingles emerging.  Here’s three different medications to help.”  And, well, fuck.  You don’t even take one medication.  Now here’s three.  Better fire up that pill reminder on the Walgreen’s app, wiseass.

So now you have Shingles after food poisoning that you completely underestimated the effects of.  And why did you underestimate it?  Probably because you don’t feel your age.  Which translates into you truly don’t believe you’re as old as you are, so why would you worry so much about routine food poisoning?  Because Shingles is why.  You’re most likely to get it once you’re in your fifties.  Forty-eight is close to fifty (you looked on a measuring tape to confirm this).  Now you’ve got to deal with the rash, the ongoing ache from the back-spasm-in-disguise, the fatigue and general malaise, and the Post-Herpetic Neuralgia.  It’s too soon to tell, but something with so many syllables is generally not good, even if it is preceded by “Dear Penthouse…”.  You text your friend, and he texts back, “I definitely don’t want post-hook-up-herpes necromancy.”

It’s a helluva way to spend the last month of summer vacation.  Here’s a good idea:  Stop saying that you don’t feel your age.

 

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Written by seeker70

August 26, 2018 at 6:45 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Ten Years of The Seeker?!?! Da Fuh???

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Lo these many years ago I sat in a friend’s basement while on vacation in Nashville and took the steps that established The Seeker.  That’s way back when Blogspot was still a thing.  I guess that rather obtuse interface is still a thing under Google, though it’s probably been re-branded and re-imagined since I moved The Seeker to WordPress after a year and a half.  Not that it matters—I won’t be going back to Blogspot.  No need.  WordPress is doing just fine, and I’ve gotten used to using it.

So why a blog?  I had heard it’s a good idea if you’re a writer.  It keeps you accountable to something so you at least keep writing.  That’s true, by the way.  It helps if you have a focus, and it didn’t take me long to figure out this should be a blog mostly about writing.  Plus other stuff.  I used to write movie reviews.  I used to write a lot about baseball.  I’ve written too much about running.  I used to write some about teaching.  These days, I’m mostly writing about writing.  But that’s okay.  I’ve never restricted myself too much on these pages, and the original intent of the blog was to write about writing anyway.  And speaking of restrictions, I always have my students in the back of my head somewhere when I write, so I try to keep content and language mostly appropriate.  No shit.

As fate would have it, I was sweating throughout the first year of The Seeker to complete my thesis at Northwestern.  That process provided content for a long-running serial, and I’ve been casually in pursuit of serialized content since then.  The thing that strikes me just now is how much I used to blog.  For the first few years, I was blogging more than once a week; this last year, I’ve done little more than once a month.  There are several factors that influence frequency, though.  One is how busy I am teaching, and last year was a beast of a year unlike I’ve had for about ten years.  That cut out lots of blogging time.  Another factor is whatever other writing I’m working on.  I’ve been working on a helluva lot of stuff this past year, so my blogging frequency diminished.  I’ve found, too, that my affinity to take on the poem-a-day challenge the last four years has reduced my blogging quite a bit November through January.  But the blogging I’ve done in the past year has been a lot about writing.  So I guess I’ve returned to the function of the blog, and that was helped by having a banner year getting stories published and hashing out what led to them reaching print.

You may have noticed that I don’t do much to spruce up The Seeker.  I stopped using “categories” shortly after I started using them, so that’s one element of organization I flushed.  I also haven’t revisited older posts to refresh or take out dead links, nor have I even changed my profile information too much.  I just keep letting the entries stack up month to month.  That’s not unlike how I write my other pieces.  I let shit stack up and then keep other things around forever, always thinking I’ll get back to them.  I won’t, and last January I wrote about how and why I’m changing that habit.

I joined Facebook two years ago with the intention of using it to get more people to read my blog.  That worked to a degree, though I posted on Facebook recently that more people read my Google Reviews than read my blog.  That’s okay.  I ain’t hatin’.  But now Facebook no longer supports publicizing my posts on their platform.  Who the hell knows why.  The darkness that is Facebook has ruled that it is forbidden, so that shoots my idea to publicize my blog right in the ass.  It doesn’t, actually.  Now I just have to publicize manually rather than having it done automatically from the settings I employ.

So here it’s the 10th birthday of The Seeker, and I’m pretty much “Meh…”.  Yep.  That’s where I’m at.  I’ll keep blogging because it does keep me somewhat accountable, I enjoy reflecting on my writing process on the occasions I get published, and the space is still available to catch loose pieces I would otherwise not write and to air out thoughts worth airing out.  I ran a little “greatest hits” 5 years ago at this time, and while I’m not going to do that now, I will reflect on my favorites piece I’ve written here.  One would be the Ted Nugent reflection, which I think is still the most-read piece in the history of The Seeker.  I had a helluva lot of fun writing one of the earliest pieces, that one being about Dirty Harry.  And I surprise myself sometimes not by what happens but by what doesn’t happen.  I thought this three-parter two years ago might grant me an audience with the principal in the building given its content and that it was my first piece widely disseminated on Facebook, but that didn’t happen.  I think that goes back to more people reading my Google Reviews than my blog.  So maybe that’s a good thing.

Written by seeker70

August 10, 2018 at 9:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Shades of Blue: Revisiting Cubs v Brewers

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The nice folks at Lovable Losers Literary Revue published my piece “Shades of Blue” ten years ago (ten years?!?!  I was so young then…).  It was a timely piece in which I discussed my dual citizenship to Cubs and Brewers Nations as the teams vied against each other in a late-season playoff race.  I thought this would be a good time to revisit it given both teams are again thusly engaged.  I just now reread what I wrote so long ago—so many forgotten names!  But you’ll see Craig Counsell figures prominently into the results of the game that got me on-board with the Brewers, and he’s again making a difference in this race from a different perspective.

If you care to see the original piece, peep it here:

Shades of Blue:  Bleeding for the Cubbies…and the Brewers.

You can also comb through the rest of Lovable Losers, which has been stagnant for some time now.

Anyhow, the piece is pasted below.  If you want to dig all the dirty details of the game under consideration, here they are from Baseball Reference.

Shades of Blue: Bleeding for the Cubbies…and the Brewers

By Jeff Burd

I possess a dual baseball citizenship that triggers many sideways looks when I announce it. My fellow baseball junkies don’t understand how I can cheer for both the Cubs and the Brewers when they are division rivals. Some dismiss it as a result of living in Gurnee, which is almost the midpoint between Wrigley Field and Miller Park. The truth is that my burden can be traced back to a moment of transcendence I experienced in Milwaukee on July 5, 2004.

I was in my fourth season as a fan of baseball and of the Cubs as I settled into a seat behind home plate that day. I loved the Cubs, and had a pretty easy tenure with them up to that point. They had been a playoff hopeful my first season, a miserable mess the next, and then ran deep into the playoffs nine months previous.

Matt Clement was on the mound for the Cubs. He was one of the remaining starting pitchers saddled with keeping the team afloat until Kerry Wood and Mark Prior returned from their residencies on the DL. Ben Sheets was pitching for the Brewers. I was concerned about his status a Cub killer; he had compiled a 5-2 record against them in three seasons.

I blanched when “Jose Macias” flashed on the scoreboard as lineups were announced. He and his anemic .260 batting average would supplant Moises Alou in left field and bat second. Slugger Aramis Ramirez had been replaced by .262-hitting Ramon Martinez and the frustratingly inconsistent youngster Cory Patterson was batting fifth behind Derrek Lee. It wasn’t the first time that season I was questioning Dusty Baker’s judgment; in fact, it felt like it had become instinctual to do so since the Cubs’ failure in the NLCS.

The Brewers’ struck quickly when Craig Counsell unwound his corkscrew stance and popped a pitch over the fence in right center to grab a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first. The Cubs missed their first chance to strike back by stranding Macias on third the next inning. The same happened with Todd Walker the next inning, and they managed an early-game hat trick of wasted chances by leaving Michael Barrett on second base in the 4th.

Nothing changed by the top of the 8th, courtesy of the twelve Ks Sheets hurled to help the Brewers hold on to their 1-0 advantage. Clement was lifted for a pinch hitter as the Cubs faced Sheets’ relief. Dusty put his faith in Tom Goodwin’s .214 BA instead of turning to Alou and his reputation as a feared clutch hitter who could deliver in critical situations.

As I watched Goodwin dig in, I thought about the game up to that point. The Brewers’ solid play impressed me. They did all the little things you need to do to win games. Ned Yost had his team playing like a highly disciplined squad in the mold of Arizona, Anaheim, and Florida– teams that had won World Series championships since I started following baseball. It was like they had planned this game as their coming out party to announce their legitimacy to the dismissive Cubs fans.

Goodwin struck out swinging. Walker did likewise. But then the Cubs rallied and had a runner on second base. Had Alou batted, it was likely that he too would have been on base or would have scored during the rally. When Lee struck out, wasting the Cubs’ fourth chance to score, Brewer Nation roared. I sank into my seat, shook my head, and sighed. Like all the other fans Cubs fans. Dusty leaned against the dugout rails throughout the inning, shifting his toothpick from one corner of his mouth to the other.

Dusty didn’t try to manufacture any more opportunities for the Cubs. He could have called on Alou with two outs in the ninth, but instead allowed Macias to hack futilely at the first three pitches he saw to become the seventeenth Cub to strike out.

I muttered a stream of profanities as I walked among jubilant Brewer fans in the parking lot. They were singing the praises of Ned Yost. His team played tough defense behind their pitchers. They made a single run stand up, despite striking out eleven times and managing only three hits. They were easily the best team on the field. It was all true; I realized that the Brewers were playing the type of ball I loved to watch. They had won my respect by doing so.

As for Dusty, he did nothing more than confirm what Chicago sports writers had been saying. He couldn’t manage tight games. He didn’t preach fundamentals. His players had no plate discipline. He wore out his pitchers. He couldn’t develop young talent. I had no respect for him, but could no more abandon the Cubbies than I could a close friend who had made some poor decisions. I decided that if I wanted to be happy watching baseball, I would have to do what most sports fans would consider unthinkable– especially Chicago fans in regard to Wisconsin teams– and adopt a division rival. Respect trumped my regional obligations, and that was enough for me to make my decision.

*

I’ve cheered for both teams with equal enthusiasm the past four years. The tension that would seem to naturally evolve because of my dual citizenship has been non-existent, probably because the teams have never slugged it out with something at stake late in the season. That is all going to end over the next two months. When the Brewers inked CC Sabathia as a summer rental, they elevated what had been a tepid regional conflict into an arms race in which the Cubs immediately fell behind, despite the addition of Rich Harden. If he is able to impact the Cubs the same way Sabathia already has the Brewers, then my teams will be engaged in a full-blown divisional war late this season that could rival the intensity of Bears-Packers.

My friends have grilled me about what I’m going to do since the Cubs and Brewers will play ten more games before all is said and done, including four this week and three the last weekend of September at Miller Park. They dream up scenarios involving bean balls and take-out slides and extra-inning grinds and the possibility of the rivals meeting in the playoffs. They press me for answers in emails and text messages and during phone conversations and at parties and over beers as we watch games. They don’t understand that there is room enough for me to love both teams, that I don’t consider my baseball allegiances to be a monogamous marriage from which I can never stray or even be divorced, that I never stopped loving the Cubs and that I’ve been as happy as every other Northsider to see them return to playing winning baseball. I know they won’t cease their assault until I tell them the truth: if it comes down to game seven of the NLCS, I’ll be cheering wholeheartedly for the Cubs. Of course. You never forget your first love.

Written by seeker70

August 3, 2018 at 8:35 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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