For the second consecutive morning, I started my morning with a 45-minute nap at my desk. I drew the blinds closed, placed my phone on my desk, rested my feet on the horizontal bar in the leg space – which I believe must be there for this specific reason – and closed my eyes. It was a glorious 45 minutes that felt like 5.
We had the 8:15 game last night and it was our first in a month. I felt a little stiff and was sure I’d built up a little rust, most of it concentrated in the stomach area. I don’t know how a man who has played baseball for half his life gets jammed by 20 mph underhand pitches in two separate plate appearances, but I am doing it, baby. When my third at-bat rolled around, I felt like I swung really early, and the result was a base hit over the shortstop. As Matty and I took the field at the end of the inning, I said “I feel like I was super-early.” “You were,” he said. “What are you doing?”
It’s been this way for a while now. I am broken and I don’t know how to fix myself. I would go on to tally two more hits on the night, but both were little singles, the trajectory of which resembled the curve of my stomach – when lying down.
The worst part, of course, is my inability to unwind quickly after games. I knew I wasn’t going to sleep for a while, so I read in order to quiet my body. I put the iPad down at 10:30, not really tired, but I had to sleep. That’s when I spent what I think was the next hour in that trance of thinking thoughts that are like dreams, then waking up and not knowing how much time had passed. When my alarm went off at 4:45, I had a strong headache and knew I was destined for a classroom nap.
Despite the three knocks, the highlight of my day was helping Madison with her homework. Mad’s work is due on Thursdays and arrives in her backpack in separate folders on Monday. Since I am me, I gravitate toward the ABC and Spelling folders, leaving the math and IXL (internet homework) for Lynnette.
I had use the bathroom when we got home, and I assured Mad we’d start her homework as soon as I got off the throne. When I emerged from the bathroom, I found Madison pretend-sleeping on the couch. “Let’s go, Mad. It’s homework time!” I said, the second statement in Oprah’s excited voice. “But I’m so tired, dad.” That’s right, Madison – she who hates napping more than anything – would rather nap than do her homework. Sorry, honey, no daughter of mine is going to be a no-homeworker doinger.
Madison’s histrionics are legendary. She’ll flop and groan and put her chin on her palm as she rests the elbow on the table. It’s all a kind of protest of homework; it never works. When Lynnette got home, she informed the two of us that topic for Madison’s sharing this week was “Living and Non-living.” “Do you know what living and non-living means?” Lynnette asked. Madison nodded. Lynnette pointed to the practice chopsticks in Madison’s hand. “Is that living or non-living?” Lynnette asked. “Non-living,” Mad gamely replied. “How do you know?” Lynnette followed. Madison paused. She examined her chopsticks with the likeness of a penguin atop it. “Oh, because it can only move one leg – like this,” she said. She proceeded to show us the penguin opening just the one leg. I started laughing. “No,” Lynnette said.
I’ve been trying to write different versions of the following section for two days. I haven’t been able to give it the space and detail I want. Part of that is it’s extremely self-centered and therefore boring. I’ll go with the short version.
Lynnette and I had lunch without Mad on Saturday and somehow this led to a rarity: Lynnette and I had a meaningful conversation. It’s not that we are incapable of having deep discourse, it’s more that we don’t have the time or energy. Well, this led to something rarer still: we left the conversation in total agreement.
I don’t know how it started, but we came upon the conversation of the fact that I am still at Damien and am not completely thrilled about this. I confessed to Lynnette, though, that I am not angry because I have never been able to identify an alternative. It’s just frustration. A brief summation: I never wanted to be anything, and so even now, I do not have any professional aspirations. I am simultaneously happy for and jealous of my family and friends who are doing what they love. I never found it. The reason I’ve come up with is a lack of exposure.
All of my interests are exactly the same as they were in high school, with the exceptions of food and travel. Those two interests didn’t blossom until I started going out with Lynnette. She exposed me to those things. I’m really passionate about baseball and music and comics as those were the only things I cared about as a high schooler (Lynnette resolved my other adolescent hobby of yearning for girls who weren’t interested in my and/or were otherwise involved) because they were the only things I knew. My childhood was very simple. I’ll have to ask Paul how he found the law.
Anyway, when I suggested this idea, Lynnette seemed to balk at first until I asked her about her own life. She is a nurse and was first exposed to it through her mother. “Yeah,” she said. “Because I remember going to my dad’s office and seeing the things engineers and architects did and not liking it.” After a few moments of thought, she added, “I ended up in the NICU because I became interested in it when I interned.” There isn’t a direct correlation. Exposure doesn’t equal direction, but it doesn’t hurt. “Do we just expose Mad to a while bunch of stuff?” Lynnette asked.
“Yes,” I said. But it’s deeper than that, I think. I look back at the last 5 years of my life and – at least to me – there is a clear difference in my behavior when foiled by my life prior. While laziness is more or less my defining quality, it is decidedly less so in situations that pertain to Madison. I think I understand why. Raising Madison is my very first long-term goal. It is important to me. Making sure she has opportunities like traveling and trying new things has become the most important thing in my life. Regardless of the reasons, she’s the first true purpose I’ve ever had. I just wish I could have found that professionally, too.