Candor

 

CoffeeCup

WHY I WILL NEVER BREAK UP WITH COFFEE

image2-15***

Let’s face it: Starbucks just might be one of the smartest businesses on the planet. It totally understood what was happening in the working world when it blossomed into something spectacular and omnipresent. People were working longer, harder, and were busier than ever before, especially in corporate America, and it knew exactly what we needed, how to seduce us, sustain us, and how to give us extraordinary pleasure.

And I’m not talking about sex.

You may agree with me or disagree with me, but the truth is, coffee rarely disappoints and provides endless satisfaction.

When I go to bed at night, I often coax myself into grappling with the next day’s affairs by reminding myself that my day will begin with coffee; it will always be there. Savory and extraordinary, every cup. I’m also in love with my Keurig, as it provides me with my best cups of coffee. I am delighted every day to drink my cup of coffee, and even more satisfied because of my new Yeti that keeps my coffee hot the entire 35-minute drive to work.

It’s the little things, people.

According to Caffeine Informer, there are 19 solid reasons why coffee is good for you, and when I reviewed the list, I picked my top favorites as to why coffee doesn’t have to worry about our relationship. It wards off depression, fights Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes. For those of you who drink too much (and I’m not talking about coffee here), it also can help protect against cirrhosis of the liver. If you’re not convinced yet of its benefits, a typical serving of coffee contains more antioxidants than grape juice, blueberries, raspberries, and oranges. Want to read more about it? Visit Caffeine Informer by clicking here.

image1-19

While relationships can let you down, coffee rarely does. It does its job on most days. When I’m feeling a little sluggish in the morning and have to teach a class, my cup of coffee comes with me and helps perk me up. I am not alone in the endeavor during morning classes, as many of my students walk through the door with cups in their hands, either from Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, or our student cafeteria.

None of us is breaking up with our coffee.

So there you have it. While there are plenty of bad habits we can get addicted to in our lives, I won’t buy the fact that coffee is bad for us, as some may suggest, like a bad boyfriend.

And while, honestly, Starbucks isn’t typically my cup of tea (ah, yes, tea! Can we chat about that sometime soon, too?), I prefer the taste of Dunkin’s coffee or Panera’s coffee. I like to think we’re a team, coffee and I: it is created, I buy it, and it makes me happy.

Consumer heaven.

As I said in yesterday’s post, life moves pretty quickly, and we should indulge in certain things that bring us joy.

Coffee and I will be intimate for life.

________

When Did You First Fall in Love with Reading…And with Someone?

The Bowie Branch Library – where my mom would take us to check out books when we were little.

*

My mother recalls my disconnect as a young kid with books.

“You were too busy doing other things–you were a doer.” This statement comes despite my mother’s genuine love for books and reading and the library. If ever there is a role model for someone who likes to read, it’s my mother. She’s been a voracious reader since she was a kid. There’s always a book open at her house; she conquers, on average, a book a week or two, I would guess.

I remember my mother taking my brother and me to the Bowie Public Library as a kid, where I’d check out books and bring them home. Don’t get me wrong—I did read. I remember reading lots of books as a kid and enjoying them.

But it was not love yet.

I remember that I was active and hard to pin down. I was busy playing, being involved, taking some sort of lesson or another, practicing the piano, cheering on teams in high school, and finding any excuse not to sit down with a good book and take a load off.

I fell in love with reading the same year I fell in love with my first boyfriend. I was 16 going on 17. And maybe that’s what made me fall head over heels in love with reading—I could finally relate to love and a love story on a more intellectual level; I could connect with first loves and breaking hearts. I understood unrequited love. And then I understood a much deeper, meaningful, selfless love.

I started out reading Lucky by Jackie Collins (she was the rage back then), and I couldn’t put her stuff down. I wanted to read more, and I did. I was bitten. But perhaps the most poignant book I read that thoroughly transformed me happened in 1987, when I realized what the combination of masterful storytelling and strong writing was. It came in the form of The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher.

That book sealed the deal for me. I’d already fallen in love with reading, but that was the turning point. There was no going back after that. It was also the moment when I thought to myself, someday I want to tell a good story. Someday I will write one.

I’ve done that now, three times.

And while my first boyfriend and I didn’t make it past my first year of college, my affinity for reading did. However, my relationship with him made everything I read much more meaningful and deeper.

It’s funny how that happens, how things become relatable though the magic of books, and how relationships force you to see the world from new perspectives. I’ll always be grateful for that.

Can you recall the moment you fell in love with reading?

________

THOUGHTS ON MISSING WORKING IN BASEBALL

It’s a question I get asked a lot.

“Do you miss working in baseball?”

Students ask me this often; then they ask what it was like to work in baseball, in sports, for a Major League baseball team.

I have often blogged about how working in baseball changed my life in so many ways. I became a serious student when I got my job with the Orioles as a sophomore in college. I learned how to budget my time and work long hours. I loved every minute of it. I even roped my best friend and college roommate into working there during my second year when I supervised a small staff and someone quit before Opening Day. She was supposed to be a fill-in and ended up staying the entire season…and then some. I grew up there and stayed for 13 total seasons. My best friends are from there. I met my husband there. I learned valuable skills that I now teach my students. I learned about the game, its history, and its pomp and circumstance—all of which I treasure.

Then I wrote a fictional novel about working in baseball entitled Baseball Girl, summoning my recollections and stories about working in the game.

On Friday night, I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time with my mentor and dear friend, Dr. Charles Steinberg, in Boston. Our students and faculty were in town for a communication convention, and Charles, who now works for the Red Sox and Pawtucket Paw Sox, took us out to dinner. It’s funny how things come around full circle—I learned so much of what I know from Charles and Julie Wagner, and both are still my dear friends and mentors. Both Charles and Julie also wrote a case study for a textbook my colleagues and I wrote about event planning. Sitting at that table with Charles made me realize a couple of things: (1) how thankful I am that I had the job I had for all those years and that it helps me in my current job today, and (2) that strong friendships sustain themselves even when you don’t see each other as often as you would like.

Today is Opening Day, and I will not be there at Camden Yards to celebrate its 25th season at the ballpark. I have to teach my classes.

I was there on Opening Day 1992 when Camden Yards took center stage, and I helped coordinate the opening ceremonies. I value all of my time there—first as assistant director of community relations and then as director of publishing. For fun, and at Charles’s request, I even spent time as the ballpark deejay for a while, spinning tunes and getting the crowd fired up.

So the question remains: “Do you miss working in baseball?”

On days like today, with a fresh season upon us, a new team, and a clean slate with 162 games to go and a chance to win a World Series ring as a member of the front office, the answer is simply…

Yes.

Sometimes I do.

 

________

 

BASEBALL = LOVE : REFLECTIONS ON CAL RIPKEN JR, LOU GEHRIG AND 2131

2131-Verni

* * *

Twenty years ago this week Cal Ripken tied and broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games record. Twenty years ago. It seems difficult to fathom, actually.

I was proud to have been a part of such a wonderful front office — people who cared about the game of baseball and wanted it represented well both on and off the field. If I could have picked any time in history to have been with the club — including that 1983 season when the Orioles took home the World Series trophy — I would not change a thing. I started out on the ground floor as public relations assistant (who actually had to go out into the stands and sing “Happy Birthday” to fans), worked side-by-side with my mentor Julie Wagner in community relations, and was promoted to Director of Publishing where I stayed until I ended my career with the ballclub in 1998. Honestly, I wouldn’t trade one moment of my time there, even for a World Series ring (though I won’t lie–that would have been a very nice heirloom).

Readers of my blog know my incredible affinity for the ballclub. Pictured above is Cal, on the night of 2131, with his arm around his mother, Vi, Julie Wagner, the Orioles Community Relations Director, and me there in the front (Cal’s dad can be seen off to the left, barely in the photograph). As members of the event team that planned, organized, and executed 2131, we are standing on the field while the tributes and celebrations were happening, and I’ll never forget how Cal’s parents’ faces beamed. I was fortunate to have been assigned as the escort for Cal’s parents for the evening, and I was responsible for getting them where they needed to be as events began to unfold. Our team photographer, Jerry Wachter, captured this moment, and I’ll be forever grateful. Although Julie is probably mid-sentence saying something to me about what was going to happen next because she was one of the lead planners of the ceremonial events, Jerry caught us at just the right moment, and as the Whitney Houston song “One Moment in Time” was played that night, I believe we all felt suspended, relishing Cal’s amazing accomplishment, and sensing Lou Gehrig winking from the Heavens. If only for a moment.

Incidentally, one of the reasons why I hold on so dearly to memories made either at Memorial Stadium or Camden Yards is because some of my dearest friends were made there, memories that I will keep. Whether they are funny stories that make up my collection of 13 years at the ballclub or friendships that continue to grow and flourish even after we’ve moved on, the spirit that was the Orioles will remain with me forever. Cal’s remarkable evening is just one of hundreds of things I’ll always keep in my lovely, baseball memory bank.

The book we put together at the Orioles to commemorate Cal's accomplishment. I served as the editor and many of my friends and colleagues wrote chapters of the book.
The book we put together at the Orioles to commemorate Cal’s accomplishment. I served as the editor and many of my friends and colleagues wrote chapters of the book.

 I met all these women through baseball. We celebrated my birthday and 30 years of friendship on August 21. 

* * *

10 THINGS THAT BASEBALL IDIOMS HAVE TAUGHT ME

Glove

*

After working in baseball for 13 years and seeing the game through many different lenses, I thought I’d share the Top 10 things baseball idioms have taught me.

  1. Coming home means the world to me.
  2. It’s important to touch base with people you care about, and often.
  3. Being on the ball helps make you successful.
  4. If you’re going to throw someone a curve ball, be prepared for what comes afterwards.
  5. Playing hardball works sometimes, but it’s not a guarantee for success.
  6. In life, don’t expect to always bat a thousand. No one is perfect. There’s plenty of room for making mistakes.
  7. If you’re going to strike out at something, make sure it’s something you love. And then, try again.
  8. If you’ve got two strikes against you, swing anyway. You never know how far that next ball might travel.
  9. When you do hit a homerun, don’t boast, make everyone feel a part of your success, and share the joy with those you love. Those who truly love you will be happy for you.
  10. If you’re going to go to bat for someone, make sure it’s someone who is worthy, and who would likely do the same for you.

________

10 MEMORABLE BASEBALL QUOTES

BaseballIn baseball as in life, quotes can be inspirational, funny, or can just tell it like it is. Quotes are a big part of my second novel, Baseball Girl; each chapter’s lead quote ties into something that’s going on in the story, and I’ve had a lot of fun constructing them and their meanings.

Here are some quotes from notable players, coaches, managers, and folks who love the game. I can’t call it my all-time favorite list, but it certainly includes some great ones.

* * *

If a woman has to choose between catching a fly ball and saving an infant’s life, she will choose to save the infant’s life without even considering if there are men on base.Dave Barry

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball. I’ll tell you what I do. I stare out the window and wait for spring. Rogers Hornsby

A hot dog at the ballgame beats roast beef at the Ritz.Humphrey Bogart

Baseball, to me, is still the national pastime because it is a summer game. I feel that almost all Americans are summer people, that summer is what they think of when they think of their childhood. I think it stirs up an incredible emotion within people.Steve Busby

There are only two seasons – winter and Baseball.Bill Veeck

In baseball, you can’t kill the clock. You’ve got to give the other man his chance. That’s why this is the greatest game.Earl Weaver

Opening Day. All you have to do is say the words and you feel the shutters thrown wide, the room air out, the light pour in. In baseball, no other day is so pure with possibility. No scores yet, no losses, no blame or disappointment. No hanger, at least until the game’s over.Mary Schmich

I’m a guy who just wanted to see his name in the lineup everyday. To me, baseball was a passion to the point of obsession.Brooks Robinson

In the beginning I used to make one terrible play a game. Then I got so I’d make one a week and finally I’d pull a bad one about once a month. Now, I’m trying to keep it down to one a season.Lou Gehrig

All the ballparks and the big crowds have a certain mystique. You feel attached, permanently wedded to the sounds that ring out, to the fans chanting your name, even when there are only four or five thousand in the stands on a Wednesday afternoon.Mickey Mantle

________

THE HEART OF BASEBALL — FOR LOVE OF THE GAME

John watching the games...
John watching the games…

A few years ago, our family experienced something very special. Despite our recent move to a different county, we kept driving back up to our old county so that my son could finish his baseball season and participate in the playoff games. You see, his team just couldn’t lose. They kept on winning. In several come-from-behind scenarios, the Brewers hung in there and eventually ended up winning the Championship.

We won’t forget it.

However, what we probably won’t forget more than anything is a gentleman named “John” who came and sat through all the games. We called him our lucky charm. At 84 years of age, John drove himself to Kiwanis-Wallas Park, visited the concession stands, and then joined us in the bleachers as we rooted for the Brewers. He became one of us. And an important fact to know is that he was not related to anyone on the team.

It is not often that I am touched beyond words, and I’ve put off writing this post for a particular reason: I don’t think I can do his love of the game justice.

As you know from my past work experience with the Baltimore Orioles, I am a big baseball fan. Not only do my children both play softball and baseball, but I worked in the sport for many years in Baltimore. I’ve been touched by a lot of things over the years, from Cal’s Streak Week, to seeing Joe DiMaggio in person, to being with my colleagues and friends at the Orioles out in the stands in 1997 as we watched our team lose its World Series chances.

But this man John may just become my favorite baseball memory.

Night after night, he came. By himself. He cheered. I listened to him tell stories of his mother (“She spoiled me rotten; I was an only child, you see…”) and of how he would unload the trucks (in Pennsylvania) as a kid, then ride his bike seven miles to the nearest ball field to play for hours with his friends. He lived near Williamsport, PA, ironically the birthplace of Little League Baseball, and described how he played as 12-year-old. “I love watching this age group play,” he said. “I was this age when I started playing ball.” The time was 1939, the year The Wizard of Oz was made.

At the end of the night when the Brewers won and they stormed the field, John stood and clapped and cheered and said, “Yeah, Brewers.” When our team would put men on base, John would yell, “There you go, Brewers! You’ve got ducks on the pond now. Let’s do it, Brewers!”

When he called my son a “scrappy player,” I loved him even more. My son has had to fight hard in this league, as the kids are bigger and stronger and their curve balls more fierce. My son’s adolescent growth spurt has not yet begun.

Nevertheless, I will never, ever forget John. I will never forget how he applauded the kids, and at the parents’ urging, even posed in team pictures at the end of the night with the boys and coaches.

He was our lucky charm, and an enduring memory that my son, daughter, husband and I will not soon forget. And this is what baseball is all about: bringing people together, sharing moments, and reveling in the bliss that all starts with a ball and a bat.

________