April 30, 2008 - Goodbye, Wedding Planning Today's Quote in Frightening Context: Today's in the sense I've forgotten about it for a week.
"You can fly an aircraft across the Pacific or across the Atlantic, and at any point in that journey you know where you are within about three meters, until you get on the ground." -- Longtime pilot noting the most dangerous part of flying is on the ground.
The article has aboslutely nothing to do with this list of the world's 10 scariest airplane runways, but they almost fit together.
It's sitting in a Best Buy bag on my coffee table as I type.
It would be fair to say I've been waiting for this for a full year, given it was supposed to come out last fall. I actually picked it up a day late, which makes me glad I'd preordered it. (There were just two other copies sitting on the pickup table after I received mine, the clerk being sure to tell me, "This is supposed to be an awesome game."
I've only read one review, but from what I understand, GTA4 is being held up as the advancement of civilization (via the destruction of civilization, the news will soon tell us). The original non-binding plan all along was that this game would be what finally pushed me to buy both an XBox 360 and an absurd HDTV.
One half took care of itself via Matty Cooch. The other half is shelved, because it's much easier not to spend a few grand on a TV I won't watch enough while jacking up my cable bill even higher.
Should we move, DirecTV may be the first call I make, since there's not a doubt in my mind it would have saved me hundreds of dollars during my time here.
Never mind the fact that every time I've seen HDTV in person other than the first time -- Matt Boggie's 42nd street apartment in NYC, watching the 2003 Hall of Fame Game -- my response has largely been, "Really? That's it?"
I blame it on my bad eyesight. There's no way I can be that far off the curve.
In a lot of ways, though, this might be as good as it gets. I never finished the last game, and clearly never will now ... since leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup at the beginning of the month, I haven't played a second of games.
I have no doubt the game is way too advanced for someone who hasn't bought a football game since 2004, at which point I realized they might be a little more complex than my mind can handle. Yet the beauty of being morally pliable and ironically humored by everything -- Buzz Bissinger, not a fan of ironic humor -- is that there'll be something. To this day, one of the many things that sold me on the whole GTA series was the roving bands of Elvis impersonators in GTA2, singing "A hunka hunka burnin' love! Step on ..." to no one in particular.
I caught myself doing it tonight in the office, killing time while the AP saw fit not to send more than three inches of Celtics copy before 11:45.
Idle hands, which probably won't be idle for the next six weeks or so.April 27-29, 2008 - Hey, I Had A Headache How the hell did I do this thing every day for like six years?!
Sunday's Inside Baseball, which was mostly about the Diamondbacks, is somewhere in the ether. For the third straight day, I'm trying to find it.
So I head home for the weekend, and my mother presents me with a letter.
-- With it was a laminated copy of our engagement announcement that ran in the mighty Agawam Advertiser News.
Now, this is the kind of service you don't get in the civilized half of the state. (Buoniconti oversees the Fightin' Hampden District, which encapsulates some comical population that I'm not going to figure out just so you can laugh at him, jerkass!)
What I enjoy most, though, is that the monthly produced form letter wasn't good enough. Typing out a personalized letter, though, was too good. So we get the "give them the form letter, but scratch some stuff out" letter. I want to believe there's a pecking order ... wedding announcements get the "no, they deserve something more" treatment. Honor roll appearances are at the bottom. Essay contest victories get the sort of phone call the president offers a Super Bowl champion.
Apparently, my father and the senator have crossed paths a few times, and chatted amiably. Perhaps that earned us some blue ink.
Regardless, thank you Mr. Buoniconti. Had I gotten engaged a couple years back, I would totally vote for you, but now you're stuck with my non-registered mother and Democrat-hating father.
I'm just guessing you're a Democrat, given your stances that appear to care about the well-being of poor people. Though I have to say, this paragraph from one of your 2006 press releases:
In a letter to the Secretary of Administration and Finance, Thomas Trimarco, Senator Buoniconti petitioned for a portion of the remaining Hurricane Katrina Disaster Relief funds to be allocated to the City of Springfield to cover the costs of the damage caused by last week’s extremely severe thunderstorm. struck me as hilarious in my ironic, dopey worldview.
I'm not going to say a whole lot about the post-game festivities in Montreal, because none of my pictures came out. Thank goodness for this guy.
-- Fagstein, kudos. Whatever that is in French.
We heard something was up on our way out of the building, but on the block-plus back to the hotel saw nothing but people honking and hanging out of cars celebrating.
Then in the hotel bar, we're discussing how to hide we're from Boston. Five minutes later, we're walking past burning cars, burned-out cars and riot police.
Mick said things got a little more intense than he was totally comfortable with. Me, I never really felt threatened. Things had died down significantly in the time we were working postgame, and seeing smashed, burned-out cop cars struck me as more surreal than anything else. I mean, hell, five of us willingly walked into the scene knowing full well what had happened ... how bad could it have been.
Not to say the entire affair isn't among the most absurd things I've ever witnessed in person. Most telling was the last thing we saw: one guy getting taken down by 20 riot police he'd obviously been taunting, two other guys mouthing off at that act, and the Quebecois cries from the crosscorner we were on of "Leave him alone, you fucking pigs!"
It says a lot, and among the least important is just what the Bruins managed to do this season. Irrelevant, my ass.
Hockey's always held kind of an odd place for me, and it wasn't until I had 12 hours in a car to think about it that I was able to quantify it.
Really, I've never really had a hockey team I called my own. My Hartford Whalers fandom is well documented, but I'll be honest ... they sucked, and I wasn't the kind of kid who could really throw his heart behind a team that sucked. So there were a lot of dalliances.
I liked the Penguins in the early '90s, partially because they were winning, partially because my smart, attractive friend Lonnie was from Pittsburgh and liked them.
I jumped on the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers, because the idea of hockey in Florida struck me as cool. Then, the Colorado Avalance because, well, their logo is absurdly awesome.
There's been infatuations with almost all the Canadian teams -- Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, most prominently -- because the Canadian teams deserve to be better at hockey than everyone else. Then, of course, the Bruins because they're here and they've never really done anything to embarrass themselves.
More than any other sport, on its own merits, I just love hockey. It's the only season I can think of that I'm annually sad when it ends. Baseball's always been about the Red Sox for me. Football, the Giants and Patriots.
Hockey is hockey. And that's why, while it certainly would have been better if Game 7 wasn't a lopsided mess, I can't really imagine having enjoyed it much more.
It was a celebration of hockey, and when you live in an area where half the play it gets is tongue-in-cheek, it was more refreshing than you can probably imagine.
Bear in mind, despite how well people are telling me that story came out, I was in panic throughout most of the game about the prospect of writing. I mean, I'd imagine the vast majority of people there covering a Stanley Cup playoffs Game 7 on deadline were not covering their first hockey game EVER.
Also, it's hard to explain just how loud it was. The press box at Bell Centre is literally a catwalk, hanging suspended from the rafters. Behind you:
-- More seats, open to you and stretching higher than you.
The noise envelops, and gets in your chest. I knew going in it was going to be louder than I could imagine, and I wasn't disappointed. Worth the drive through the manure-laden fields between the border and the St. Lawrence.
Despite my six-day absence, the game was pretty much the trip. In the hotel about an hour, to Bell Centre, out drinking, sleep and back on the road by 10:30 a.m. Tuesday. Regardless, other quick hits.
-- Never before have I felt worse about not absorbing French. You can get away just on English in Montreal. (I'm told Quebec City is a whole other issue, but that's another story.) Regardless, there was a moment when we were trying to take the Metro that two things struck me:
1) I have no Canadian money, 2) I have no idea how to buy tickets or board the train
I've retained just enough French in the decade since I took my one semester at BU (following five years worth in Agawam) that I can generally figure stuff out. At that moment, though, I felt completely beholden to Mick, who had all the cash and was attempting to communicate with the man in the subway booth. He could have told me to jump the turnstyle and run, and I'd have done it before the words had left his mouth.
If you're unaware, they took the old Montreal Forum, gutted it and turned it into a mall. They saved a section of corner seating, slid it next to where center ice was, and mocked it up between an AMC Theatres and whatever was on the left.
April 20, 2008 - Marijuana Day Miracle A Moment with Ryan Seacrest: I tend to enjoy Sunday morning drives to Fenway, because the roads are empty and parking is strangely simple. (Though with the Boston Marathon on Monday, some of the free meters on the course are blocked. No matter. I have my secrets.)
Inevitably, I always end up spending several minutes listening to part of the American Top 40 Countdown ... it's on several stations, and at least a handful of the songs aren't R&B shlock.
It struck me today, while Ryan Seacrest was telling me about the large cell phone bills being run up by Zac Efron and Not So Secret Naked Picture Girl while they filmed movies in separate places, that Seacrest would be my mortal enemy if everyone in the world were somehow cosmically assigned mortal enemies. His existence and celebrity is based entirely around everything that I hate. Pointless fawning over the talentless, prayer at the altar of schlock, not releasing the home address of the song requester who said she "missed Nickelback" and needed to hear them on the countdown again, etc.
(Seriously, whomever you are from Seattle. Are you not aware that you can steal music off the Internet? You can listen to Nickelback whenever you want! Wherever you want! The only exception would be if that bitch of a manager won't let you control the radio at Dots or JoAnn Fabrics or Lane Bryant or whatever shitty mall store you're working at until your career as a MySpace camwhore or SeaTac's "Gas Girl" takes off.)
Instead, I look at him with bemused indifference, same as I do Curt Schilling's collection of witty T-shirts.
Lowrie Making Most of Chance -- Sadly, I was three-quarters of the way through this story when I remembered I wrote it last week. That offense story was a better choice.
Just you wait, Seacrest. Once I get past seething about SmartMouth mouthwash and the "bad breath expert" they employ in their radio commercials, you could be next.
Triumph Pharmaceuticals recognizes that bad breath is a massive, silent, social problem and it can cost people relationships, jobs, and friendships. In our lives, both love and business revolve around relationships and bad breath can destroy them. -- Racism is also a massive, silent social problem. One at a time, I guess.
This will only be the third Patriots Day game I've missed since I think 2001, given I bought tickets to the two prior to me starting to cover the Red Sox. I always like going to the morning game, not only because it's a unique start, but because typically my father and brother come to it on the annual trip that the Holyoke Elks lodge runs.
It's like a rite of spring: they call me in the morning, tell me they're at Copperfield's bar down Brookline Avenue. I never get down there, then go visit them down at their seats. My father offers me a beer. (Without fail, this happens every year.) I politely decline, head back upstairs and hope they make it out alive.
Given how few games my family gets to, they have an obscenely good track record. Last year, it was Jacoby Ellsbury's major league debut, then ALCS Game 2 with the laughable Manny Ramirez walk-off.
My father seemed a little disappointed that I won't be there on Monday, but honestly, that's because I think I could hear him processing "I'm going to Montreal" as the call continued.
I wasn't surprised. Without the constant thoughts about the first Red Sox game I ever covered being Game 1 of the 2003 ALCS, the first Bruins game I've ever covered being the franchise's biggest game in almost 20 years would seem an absurd lie. Never mind that I still can't believe a paper of our size was able to get a second credential for a playoff Game 7 roughly 48 hours before it was played.
The obvious answer is my seat is in the parking lot, with an obscured view of a television. I look forward to it. Au revoir!
April 19, 2008 - [ unintelligible gasp ]
Longoria Takes The Early Money -- I tried to spin Inside Baseball into a big picture story, though I don't think it totally worked. But hey, more Kyle Fernandes news!
Yeah, so remember earlier this year when I mentioned one of my sports pipe dreams being going to see a playoff hockey game in each of the six Canadian NHL cities? I can't seem to find it, but I remember Sly saying something in the affirmative about it.
I'll be getting that list started sooner than I thought.
-- This is about 10 percent of the French I've retained through the years.
You thought the entirety of this game was unlikely, just on its own merits? Imagine the Bruins actually winning it when it was decided/finessed beforehand that I'd be going to Game 7 were there a need for it to be played.
Throughout, whenever the camera shots would pan the legitimate sellout crowd, packed to the ceiling and going absolutely bonkers, I couldn't help but think about Hockey Homecoming '06.
The nice thing about attending home openers is they give you lots of free stuff -- big signs with the schedule on the back, magnet calendars and T-shirts.
The sad thing is they have to, as watching the pre-game production made me realize just why the game wasn't a sellout: The Bruins haven't even sniffed a Stanley Cup since 1992, a playoff series since 19989 and the only good thing to happen to the franchise in the 21st century happened in Colorado. -- Oct. 19, 2006
I won't even note that of the hypothetical six, Montreal wouldn't have been any higher than fourth. With the guarantee that something historic is going to happen, I'll keep that to myself.April 18, 2008 - Eek? Now, That's More Like It: With it something like 70 degrees this afternoon, one of my neighbors -- she and her presumably boyfriend showed up here one day in a truck with Louisiana license plates -- was walking around outside in a white sun dress, flip flops and multicolored leg warmers.
It struck me as very odd, since the leg warmers appeared to be knitted out of the same sort of wool your grandmother used to make those nice Irish sweaters out of. (Everyone's grandmother used to knit giant Irish sweaters, correct?) Apparently, though, that's what you make leg warmers out of. All the better to warm, as it were.
So clearly, such behavior is completely normal. I have no idea why this is even notable.
In its last season, BU's football team won one game. Yes, the Terriers lost only one game en route to winning 12 a few seasons prior, but the team's final record showed the program's true direction. Baseball wasn't far behind, especially considering it had vacillated between varsity and club status before being laid to rest 11 years ago. Hall-of-Fame BU alumnus Mickey Cochrane wasn't walking onto that diamond in 1997 -- wherever that day's "home game" may have been.
In fact, fielding a winning team wasn't even always the baseball team's purpose. According to former BU Sports Information Director Ed Carpenter, the school used to stash hockey studs on the baseball roster in order to grab extra scholarship money for the Ice Dogs.
It makes perfect sense now! Why hasn't BU been a national power at hockey since I showed up? Because around the same time I showed up, the school cut baseball, thus eliminating BU's ability to cheat.
As always, Cartman was right.April 17, 2008 - So THAT'S How You Play Hockey Editorial Comments: Well, that was wholly unexpected. So much so that Julie and I went to dinner after the second period. I caught the aftermath of the fifth goal, and Julie walked over to the bar TV to see what the score was.
I believe her exact words were, "You should probably go take a look yourself."
-- Only funny for the right reasons if you're too cool for the room. And even then, it's funnier if it involves a cat.
Nick made several attempts to get on the site, for which he receives credit since he's the biggest Bruins fan I know who doesn't also cover them.
Blaine Lacher is, I guess, the Nick Esasky of Bruins goaltenders. If you understand the reference, you know it's not real strong. If you don't, shut up and let's move on, since I can't go to Game 6 (which I found great seats for as recently as 24 hours ago, but have no way to get the night off for).
-- They kept asking me whose dad I was. I thought they knew something I didn't.
-- Spelled right, without my saying anything! They're smarter than some of my fan mailers!
My popularity was high throughout the afternoon ... I mean, how could it not be, wedged between the day's math lesson and snack time? But once I brought out the newspapers, good Lord. Anyone depressed about our business being in trouble should go bring some newspapers to a kindergarten class for an afternoon.
Nice as it was to get a free breakfast from the Tabor Academy cafeteria last year, I'll take a slew of hugs and white board messages every day of the week.
The girl who started what I'll call the "hug line" -- above, in the pink shirt and white sweater -- wrote that she loved me on the white board, then when I went with Julie to the assembly that followed, saw me again and starting blowing kisses across the gym.
A dozen years from now, when she's a decent high school athlete and I'm on the cusp of 40 with no hair and a legitimately bloated middle, I'll need to recall the laugh.April 15-16, 2008 - Will There Be Fingerpaints? The Beauty of Being Clueless: When you get caught on a story like Travis Ford's not leaving, leaving, few people notice.
And when something like "Rockies in 6" happens, you just get laughed at and everyone moves on.
I've gotten to know Ron pretty well the past couple years, and in the pantheon of first impressions, his Fenway press box meal of salami and Cheerios when we were introduced is safely in its own category for perpetuity.
At some point, it would make sense for me to finally redesign this site and give up the pretense that I'm going to continue with daily updates. The simple truth is that I've turned into an old man: days largely spent not doing anything, with the wackiness of college far away, replaced with Internet surfing and showering at 4 p.m.
However, for the moment, I'll just pin the blame on the finally vibrant 'Better Red Than Dead'. Admittedly, most of the posts are built my probably confusing "Stars of the Plus-Minus" MVP contest, but it's the sort of numberwork that's my speed.
Thursday, though, big plans. The perfect follow-up to last year, when I spoke to a class of English students at a prep school and at a high school journalism conference.
Lowrie Wastes Little Time -- Let's pretend I sat on this story for a couple days because I knew he'd have three RBIs in his debut.
Stay tuned.April 14, 2008 - Faith The jersey. Inevitable.
But there is something else that really worries me about this, more than curses or anything else (and given Ortiz's struggles at the plate this year, maybe he was the person who got jinxed here!) It frightens me that somebody who worked for the Stadium for all of one day was able to get such access to bury this. What if some monster buried a bomb, and not a piece of cloth, in the concrete?
Maybe I'm worrying too much.
Nooooooo. Impossible. If anything, you should be more concerned, and respond by never leaving your $3,400, one-room apartment ever again.
Thank God newspapers are, via blogs, truly giving people what they want. More voice to the world's lowest common denominators.April 11-13, 2008 - Yankees (and Internet Issues) Help Me Out Here:This can not possibly be among the 10 most Miss America-worthy girls out there, can it?
I mean, even if it's a bad picture ... really? That's it?
(You may recall from the past that this corner of the state has a shocking dominance on the pageant circuit. It must be all the fish oils both in our diet and in the air.)
Hit on a bit of a natural hat-trick this weekend. I covered the Friday game, watched the Saturday game from an office shift and went to the Sunday game as a fan. (Friend of a friend's season tickets, and I was off.)
-- This transformation couldn't have taken an hour, also knows as "two innings" in Sox-Yanks speak.
Tonight was especially interesting, since the game was terrible and it was far colder than it had been for even the World Series, when I sat outside with little incident.
I'll choose to remember it this way.
-- Of all the nights in the universe ...
April 10, 2008 - Why Do I Like Hockey, Again? Wistful College Update, Part 2: I am not a lecherous old man, but it's worth pointing out that it was 70 degrees today in Boston. It was the first truly warm day of the year, which means, well, everyone came back out.
I parked at BU today, and both on the way to the park (approx. 3:30 p.m.) and back (approx. 12:30 a.m.) was reminded of many of the wonderful things that BU provides beyond the U.S. News and World Report rankings. Not like I went out of my way to do so, or hid in the bushes to take pictures. They're on the stoops. They're on the grassy treebelts. They're everywhere, as they always are.
So of course, on this annual celebration day, the college rag's lead story is about THE BU QUIDDITCH TEAM.
In fall 2007, Middlebury College hosted the first Intercollegiate Quidditch World Cup, and the event spurred interest at colleges all over the United States. The Intercollegiate Quidditch Association now has 105 schools listed as members -- Boston University included.
Sean Culleton, a College of Arts and Sciences sophomore, said he attended the Quidditch World Cup at Middlebury and was spellbound by the event.
"I was very impressed with the level of intensity that people showed for the sport and the amount of spectacle that they were able to put on," Culleton said.
. . .
"As college kids we need to relax a bit more than we do," he said. "I also think a lot of people - especially at BU since BU is such a demanding school - forget that we are supposed to have fun when we are young and be a little ridiculous."
It is not news that I not only was in a very dorky club in college, I ran said very dorky club for three years. And yet, I climb this pedestal here to look down on what has to be ... I don't even know what to say. Maybe it's the picture, which is the quintessential picture to go with this.
BU Quidditch members CAS sophomore Sean Culleton and CAS freshman Hilary Wartinger, also a Free Press photographer, demonstrate how to play muggle Quidditch.
Seriously, there are few ways in which it could capture it better.
Lauren Dobbs, a CAS freshman, said although she cannot play Quidditch the wizarding way, she plans to celebrate team victories with just as much magic as the Gryffindor team would after defeating the Slytherins.
"We'll have some Butter Beer because some of us are not 21, so we can't drink Fire Whiskey," Dobbs said. "And we'll eat Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans, and then we would probably go to a Weird Sisters concert."
Clearly, my life has taken some wrong turns, because every time I confront something regarding Harry Potter, I just sit back and go, "Wow. That's incredibly stupid."
Yet J.K. Rowling continues to be a millionaire. Good on her.
Perhaps I'll go taunt the Fenway hawk on Friday night. That'd get the job done.
Let me tell you, the reactions I got from peers when I announced -- via Julie -- that the Canadiens scored twice in 2:02 were not great. First there were the actual people pulling for the Bruins, then there were the people cheering for chaos.
Not a shining moment for the knights of the keyboard, though most of them felt a bit better after learning of this.
The epitome of failure known as the Foggy Goggle has been bought out by yet another Boston roadstop, the Drop Kick Murphy's (No offense to DkM fans, but there's no closer to the approximation to hell than being in the middle of the "pit" of a Drop Kick Murphy's St. Patrick's Day show), with the Pour House's 2AM liquor liscence set to be sold to the bar that's coming onto Lansdowne Street, and be opened up to the Foggy Goggle in may.
With that kind of spelling, I have to assume it's official. Memories of my 21st birthday will never be the same.
Though given I have memories of my 21st birthday, I'm guessing I probably did it wrong.
Bill James Online: For $3/month, I've gained access to more meaningless numbers than I could possibly imagine.
There is no way this will end well. Inside Baseball just got an hour longer to write each week.
Probably. I can't figure, even if they do win the Cup, it'll be via sweep and end with a pair of OT winners by Patrice Bergeron.April 7-8, 2008 Thanks: I've gotten a good number of e-mails since the last post, and while I'll be getting around to responding soon enough, just know they're all appreciated.
My technically-not-quite-yet niece has bruising on her brain, but is otherwise fine (if such a phrase can actually be used). At some point, I look forward to holding her in a way that will be comical to all those around me who don't understand I am in constant fear of breaking young children. They just strike me as very breakable.
This might seem incidental to some; after all, rich, handsome young men are often associated with sexy young women. But baseball's history of relationships between players and media figures may be an indicator of distractions to come for Buchholz.
Carl Pavano's years dating Alyssa Milano have led, directly or coincidentally, to a career spent on the disabled list. Kris Benson's model wife Anna so disturbed things around the New York clubhouse that the Mets sent the pitcher into the purgatory of Baltimore. And Chuck Finley's marriage to Whitesnake inspiration Tawny Kitaen led to her getting mug pictures and him stuck with the image of a battered husband.
And wait, yes. They went out and gathered quotes.
Asked if he thought the Red Sox should interfere with the relationship, Sox fan Brian Donohue said," Sure! Give her to me, I'll make sure she stays away from him!"
Another fan outside Fenway Park, known only as Oily Tom, responded to the same question by muttering,"Wicked hot. She is just wicked hot." A group of fans wearing Sox apparrel said owner John Henry would be a "dumbass moron" to try to keep Ellyson away from the park. They suggested keeping Julio Lugo away might be a better idea.
-- This will probably not be commemorated in the press box one day.
-- Course, I wouldn't have put this in the entryway.
March 30 - April 6, 2008 It has been a long week. Without hyperbole, probably the longest I've ever had, and it seemed like it was going to be such a nice literary package.
On Sunday morning, I got the phone call I've been grimly accepting for years ... my grandmother, my last surviving grandparent and in a nursing home for a handful of years after a pair of strokes, was on her way off this mortal coil. She did not last the afternoon.
On Monday afternoon, Julie called me from her school. Her sister, whose pregnancy was rather dramatically revealed on the day Julie and I got engaged, just had her water break.
I kind of chuckled to myself and began packing my things for the drive across the state.
I'd make that drive four times in five days, and my mind wasn't settled for a one.
-- Christmas 2003. I actually hadn't realized it had been that many years.
I've always inhabited an odd pocket in the Couture family tree, the only kid born in roughly a six-year period. A bit of an odd spot when it came to needing child care, but something that definitely made it a lot easier when it came to dumping me over in Chicopee over at Grandma's house.
It did not take very long, once I became generally conscious of my surroundings, that my going over there was less about need and more about desire. I distinctly remember one stretch during a summer or a school vacation where I spent five straight days there, because every day when my parents would call to figure out when to come get me, I whined until they consented that I could stay another day. It reached the point that I had a legitimate neighborhood friend from there because I was around so much ... she apparently was Most Like to Succeed in her high school class, which makes sense since last I knew she went to Cornell with the hopes of being a lawyer.
I could go on for days with individual memories. How I would endlessly watch the Weather Channel there because we didn't get it in Agawam and I wanted to be a weatherman. The day I found my father's Army uniform in the basement closet, or discovered the back stairwell that connect all the levels in the three-decker -- Aunt Muriel lived on the second floor with her grown-up son, and the third floor was a rotating parade of always-friendly relatives. The time on the porch playing the original Gameboy. How she taught me solitare, or made sure the place was stocked with frightening amounts of strawberry Dole Fruit and Juice Bars for my arrival.
But more than anything, it's the warmth of knowing I've not written a hundred stories, and I've forgotten a thousand. It's why even though I made my piece with losing her years ago, it took me almost three days after her burial to write this. Why I spent all that time in my car this week, only to remember when it was over that it was her last car, and that she'd more or less given it to me. (It's long been a family joke that I was her "golden child," and the one picture that I wish I had to post right now is the one of her and I on Magazine Beach in Cambridge after I received my BU diploma.)
It's also why, a couple years ago, I quietly said to myself I would never again go visit her in the nursing home. The same nursing home that was more or less the only place I even knew my grandfather, wracked with Alzheimer's and gone going on 18 years.
I don't remember how I found out about her first stroke, but I remember going to see her with my family at Mercy Hospital in Springfield. She was still Grandma, as sharp and as loving and as normal as she ever was. I have no idea what we talked about because I didn't really think much of it ... I honetly thought we had dodged the bullet, and that she'd have years left being who she always was.
She had another stroke soon after, and that was it. Her mind moved to an alternate universe that I'm sure so many have before and so many will after. She'd claim to have seen dead relatives in the hallways, have had conversations that were impossible. Look at you, be able to convey she knew you, but come up with a name from somewhere else in her 92 years.
I wasn't the only one who knew how much she would have hated knowing that was her life. My father, whose dedication to his Mom will remain in my head forever, would couch it, talking about how happy she was, wherever she was. I had the chance to avoid it, though, and I did. It was selfish. I've felt guilty about it, and how it must have hurt my father, for four years. But I can't say I would have done it differently ... she and I had talked too much about it, whether in the context of my grandfather, after the rare times when I'd go with her to church, or just a winding conversation that ended up the sort of place teenagers usually don't chat.
Come Monday, it had company in my mind. Julie and I raced home to wait, as I found myself thinking about what Terry Francona (of all people) had said about birth in the context of Daisuke Matsuzaka's wife:
"It's out of my hands, thankfully. That shit comes when it wants."
That shit, in the context of my niece, was in no rush. When I left the hospital on Tuesday afternoon, 25 1/2 hours after Lindsay's water broke, there was only a doctor looking at her charts quizzically as Mom watched Jerry Springer, in blissful enjoyment as her upspeakable opened up like Stargate.
If someone could please forward that to the Pulitzer people, I'd appreciate it. Much like my Wikipedia page, I feel weird doing it myself.
There was still no baby throughout the two-hour drive back, and only a "she's going to be pushing soon" text as I started my shift.
She wasn't born until early evening, after an hour and a half of pushing (I'm told). And Becca-Anne was rushed out of the room when she was born.
She wasn't breathing. When she started, there was fluid in her lungs. Then came seizures.
As I write this, five days into her life, she's in her second hospital, perhaps looking at another week in the natal ICU. Things are a lot better than they were ... Uncle Jon appears to be among the few family members who haven't yet held the baby, which looks exactly like almost every baby ever born.
-- Is it actually her, or a random Googled newborn? My tongue-in-cheek point exactly.
I can't even imagine. Not a bit of it.
Individually, it would have been a lot. Next week, it would have been a disaster, since only I would have pulled myself toward the Sox on top of everything else. But together, it just gassed me, especially with the sort of family battles that I've always naively assumed get shelved when the point is to celebrate someone's fucking life.
At the risk of saying too much, I would love nothing more than to either elope, or scrap the entire wedding plan and start over. I'm disgusted to the level the day has ballooned, even as I'm being told by everyone I talk to that this is what happens 90 percent of the time.
But, I'm back. Does it still count as breaking a story if not much of anyone may give a crap about the revelation?