Thoughts on Missing Working in Baseball

Orioles friends from our reunion a few years ago.

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.

Charles and me from Saturday night in Boston at Pico Niccolo.

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.

Good friends…

Stephanie Verni is Professor of Business Communication at Stevenson University and is the author of the newly releasedInn SignificantBaseball Girl, and Beneath the Mimosa Tree.  Along with her colleagues Leeanne Bell McManus and Chip Rouse, she is a co-author of Event Planning: Communicating Theory and Practice, published by Kendall-Hunt.  To visit Stephanie’s Amazon Author page and see her books, click here.

Fiction Friday | A Not-So-Happy Story of Love

For this week’s Fiction Friday, I used a prompt that asked us to write something we don’t normally write. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you know I’m a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic. I usually write stuff that ends happily. However, today I didn’t. Today’s prompt asked me to write something about two people that doesn’t end well–that they do not end up together.

I have to admit, I just wrote this, and I’m depressed now. It’s like I want to go back and and change the ending, but I’m not allowing myself to. This time I’m allowing the characters who have been married for a while to not have a happy ending.

I don’t like it, but I hope you do.

The Wedding | 722 words

churchMegan could only see part of the back of Cecilia’s head. Therefore, she could only catch glimpses of half of the veil she helped construct. She was seated in the seventh pew of the church—an expansive, old-fashioned Catholic church with wooden pews, dim lighting, and shiny tiled floors that sparkled. Every noise, whether it was a cough, someone clearing his throat, or a child’s laughter, bounced off the massiveness of the cathedral ceiling. Unfortunately, the large man in front of her blocked her view of the altar. She gave up trying, and glanced at the Stations of the Cross, surveying them one by one, as they were positioned at each stained-glass window around the perimeter of the structure. The priest’s voice fluttered upward, enveloped by the beams, the archways, and the light. She felt the guilt churning, lurking deep within her. She sat five inches from Paul.

They by-passed the receiving line that gathered after the ceremony, and got in Paul’s new BMW. They were only there together because Cecelia and Evan asked them to be there. Evan was Paul’s best friend; Cecelia was hers, and had been for years. Since they’d left the house, not a word had passed between them. She’d gotten used to the silence, to only hearing her own thoughts as she rattled around in the quiet house. It’s amazing how much anger you can store up inside of you—and keep inside of you, she thought. Sometimes she wanted to scream; at other times she wanted to cry. She ran out of words. There were none left to say.

At the reception, they were seated at the same table, as few others knew the status of their crumbling—or rather exhausted—relationship. Nevertheless, today wasn’t about them, and they both did their best to smile and nod when talking to Cecelia and Evan’s guests. At no point in the evening did they look each other in the eyes. Why would they? Their eyes were nothing but empty, cold, and pathetic; they dripped with disgust. The rumble of conversation in the reception hall became dwarfed by the music as the band began to play.

Megan watched Cecelia move around the room with grace and fluidity. Was it only eight years ago that she had beamed the way Cecelia beamed now? Had she once been that happy? It was hard to fathom. Had he once looked at her with love and affection, with respect and admiration? Had they not promised…

He touched her hand, and she jumped.

“Dance?” Paul asked.

“You’re joking,” she said. He was looking at her in the eyes. She looked back.

“No,” he said, taking off his jacket and placing it on the back of the chair.

The expression that he’d worn on his face for the past few months, one mostly of frustration, gave way to a foreign expression she hadn’t quite seen before. She realized he had placed his hand back on hers, and they both got up from the table, his hand holding hers tightly now. They walked to the dance floor and crept toward the middle where many other happier couples were enjoying the music.

She couldn’t remember the last time she’d touched him, and yet they’d lived under the same roof for years, and even during these last months when she slept in the guest room, she hadn’t come closer than two feet from him.

Megan felt his hand lightly touch her back, and then he pressed her closer. She could smell his cologne, something she hadn’t smelled on his body in…months?

Their bodies moved together in sync, the band’s music forcing them both to remember to step, sway, and turn. At one point, he took her hand and twirled her. They both laughed. She hated him. Detested him.

Cecelia caught a glimpse of Megan and Paul dancing and smiled. It was her wedding day, after all, and this pleased her.

When the song was over, people clapped for the band. Not Paul. Paul grabbed Megan’s hand, brought it to his lips, and kissed it. She saw tears in his eyes. She felt a lump build in her throat.

“I did what Cecelia and Paul asked,” he said. “But saying goodbye here and this way might be easiest,” he said.

She did not reply. She stared at him, and he back at her.

He went to the table and grabbed his jacket off of the chair. She watched him walk toward the double doors. He stopped just as he reached them and paused. She caught herself holding her breath.

Then his hand touched the handle, and he was gone.

Sentimental Teacups: My Bridal Shower was Paradise in a Teacup

image4-4The reason you become sentimental about certain gifts is because the gifts were given to you by people you love.

Okay, wait. Rewind. First we have to go back in time.

I’m writing this post today because I just displayed some sentimental treasures that were given to me 18 years ago when my husband and I married. My friends hosted a bridal shower—a high tea—at a cute little place called Paradise in a Teacup.

Me, unwrapping lots of presents and teacups, 1997.
Me, unwrapping lots of presents and teacups, 1997.
What was so special about that afternoon was that each friend, cousin, and mom and mom-in-law-to-be gave me a teacup as a remembrance of the day. Today, I unboxed them, dusted them off, washed them, and redisplayed them in my cabinet. When I moved here two summers ago, I sort of just put things in places, and didn’t take the time to consider all my sentimental items and where I wanted them displayed. These teacups stand for love and friendship, and I want to showcase them properly.

One of the most sentimental things about receiving gifts when you marry or have a baby is remembering fondly who gave them to you. These teacups are from England, Ireland, Austria, the United States, and many other places. Each one has its own personality and each lady chose one she liked. I think each teacup reflects each of their personalities as well.

I hope my dearest friends—the ones who attended and planned that shower—take a peek at this post and find the teacup they gave me that day.

I love all the teacups and all of you.

XO,

signature

Photos by Ellie Verni

image3-6

image5-3

image6-1

image9

image2-7

image1-9

image8
The table setting at the shower in 1997 with the teacups!

Motherhood, Marriage, and Making Lunches

CareerI was wrong, and I admit it.

Years ago, when I was a mostly stay-at-home mom, working part-time, I admit to sometimes sitting in my Ivory Tower and judging other women who were working full-time but who didn’t participate in extracurricular women’s functions. Things like neighborhood groups, book clubs, and womens’ circles were often dropped by these women for reasons I couldn’t understand.

As I’m now in my fifth full-time year at Stevenson, I have a completely different view of the full-time working woman.

And what I think is this: They’re amazing.

stephwturkey
Making the turkey on Thanksgiving.

It takes a certain amount of skill to juggle the demands of today’s society on women. Yes, some men have become more involved in their children’s and family’s lives. Some have even become more helpful in ways. But the truth of the matter is, it’s still women who are driving the car, shopping and planning meals, shopping and responding to birthday parties, decorating the house, paying the bills, organizing the garage, driving the children to activities, helping with homework, making the lunches, planning the Christmas parties, running to doctor’s appointments, and scheduling nights out in the name of having a good marriage—all while they do another important thing: they work full-time.

I’m one of those frantic moms these days, especially with the holidays quickly approaching. I’m not the most organized person in the world, but I do my best to stay afloat. My husband yells at me daily to get my calendar organized on my iPhone. My mother calls weeks in advance to put things “on the calendar.” My friends probably cracked up while I planned and then rescheduled, and then rescheduled again, a date for a party on my calendar. I’m trying, honestly, I am, but it’s not the easiest thing to do, because while you’re making one list, another one is quickly growing.

I’m not complaining. I wouldn’t trade my career, my part-time writing life, the activites we’re involved in, or the hectic, chaos that ensues every day for another sort of life.

It’s not that at all.

It’s just that I appreciate the full-time working mom more than I ever have.

Here’s to you. Cheers! And best of luck as we make it through the holiday season together.

I have to go make the lunches now.

Official Date Night is Just What the Doctor Ordered

Date Night...

I’d been editing my book all day on Saturday, trying to work through my final draft to get it ready for self-publication. It takes forever, so for those of you who are asking when my novel will be officially done, I’m not sure yet. The process takes much longer than anyone can imagine.

However, when I called it quits for the day and could no longer look at a computer screen, my husband and I went out for an official date night. Our children were spending the weekend at their grandparents, and we had the evening to ourselves. We ate delicious food at Sushi Sono (hands down the best sushi restaurant in Maryland), and then parked ourselves outside at the Lake in Columbia and listened to a terrific jazz band. The weather was beautiful for it.

My husband and I both love listening to live music as we sit among the stars. By nature, the very notion of it is romantic. The atmosphere forces you to reconnect in only the best of ways. It was just what the doctor ordered.

Life is hectic. Taking the time to talk and eat casually, and then stretch out while enjoying the sounds of relaxing music is needed therapy for any marriage when we often get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As my friend Michelle always says about going away each year for a night or two to celebrate her wedding anniversary, “I go away so I can remember why I married this person in the first place.” She’s funny—but it’s true. If we don’t make the time to enjoy each other, we can get lost in the daily grind of who’s picking up the kids, who will grab some milk from the grocery store, who will call the interior designer, who forgot to take out the trash, and answering the never ending question “where the hell is the match to this sock?”

So, my darling husband, it was good to talk to you and reconnect. It was nice finishing sentences without being interrupted. I enjoyed eating dinner at a leisurely pace without having to discuss “table manners.” I’m glad your new job is going so well for you. I do like the new ideas for redecorating the family room. And it was nice holding your hand. Let’s do it again, soon.

Oh, and yes. I can pick up the kids from grandma.

Marriage and The Blues

Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams in Blue Valentine

I’ve been catching up on some reading and movie watching this summer, as you can tell by some of my posts. My husband attended a dinner last night, and I plunked myself down in front of the television alone and watched a movie I’ve wanted to see ever since this year’s Oscar nominations came out—“Blue Valentine”—starring Ryan Gosling (Dean) and Michelle Williams (Cindy). While I’ve decided not to do a full movie review, I’ll tell you that I liked it and found it thought provoking, hence the nature of this post. It was raw, depressing, and chock full of emotions. One of my former students, Jordan, loved this film, and I can see why she loved it. The realistic performances by both stars are worthy of the accolades the film received, and the artistic directing made me feel like a voyeur, which added to its uncomfortable authenticity.

I did, however, have trouble nailing the exact moment that the relationship between the two main characters starts to go downhill. There’s not one particular fight or argument or disaster, and then I thought, is there always? Marriages fail for a variety of reasons; it’s not always just one thing. People fall out of love, and sometimes one can no longer be a part of the duo. Or, as Michelle Williams’s character Cindy says in the film, “I just can’t do this anymore.”

My wise friend, Amy, once compared marriage to the waves in the surf. “Sometimes with relationships we are riding high on the crest, and other times, we are crashing down in the surf,” she said. I’ve never forgotten how aptly and poetically she put this; I think it’s so true. Marriage can be tumultuous at times. But it’s certainly nice when the ocean is calm and the crest and crashes are at a minimum.

This film depicts marriage in an interesting way—we feel for both characters, though it’s not a pretty picture of marriage by any means. It’s the downturn and separation and sadness of it that we see, and we question, was the pair ever really happy to begin with? Were these two meant to be together? There are circumstances that lead to their swift betrothal, and these certainly cannot be discounted. Did she give up too much of herself at too young an age? Did he give her all that she needed? Did he do his part to work through the struggles? Did she?

Obviously, I’m left pondering these questions twelve hours after the credits rolled last night. As I continue to write my fictional work, it’s always educational for me to look at the relationships of others and how they are depicted.

One thing is true, though: “Blue Valentine” certainly makes you think and wonder about your own relationship and whether or not you are doing all you can do to make it a happy one.