Along my journey I have occasionally said (SCREAMED lol) hey, I just need to rest. I just need to absorb this. My whole life has been in operations of some sort, find the problem, find the solution, marry the 2 and be home by 4 PM.
So when I am down and write it's because I can't figure out how to put a square peg in a round hole. For me, I really think my frame of mind dictates my feelings. So when I am down...I sound down. If anyone read every blog post they would def. think I am nuts lol
Today I want to talk about some of my really happy moments, I apologize in advance as it may sound (May even be a little) narcissistic. I also want to preface these "Good times" are pre-marriage. There is nothing that brings me more joy than my wife and children, being with them, watching 2 of them born, those are the happiest moments. I am going to end this post with a wedding pic.
From very early on I was a sports nut. During periods of isolation I would play strat-o-matic baseball up to 10 hours a day, every team, every game. I made a notebook sheet of paper for every player to record the stats by hand. I played football later in life and will try basketball this fall. I do still play quite a bit. It's online now and has a few really neat sites to help it run smooth.
My other love was fishing. I remember living in Chicago and getting up at 4 AM to catch the big perch. My sister and my "girlfriend" of three years would tag along. We were ages 12-15. So the whole girlfriend thing was a little misleading, we never did any more than hold hands. Of note, my family took a vacation in 2008 to Chicago and met her and her husband and had dinner with them. It was really cool to see my first love ;-) and LAST love giggling in the corner like 2 old friends.
An ability to do theater surfaced very early. I think 5th grade. Once we had moved to KS I struggled to find my identity in HS. We didn't have a school team so you could play city league or commit the summer to play on the Travellers which would play all summer. The level of quality was high as summer leagues didn't care what school you went to. I joined debate and theater as well...always saying, up to 11 months ago, "I refused to be classified, its too restrictive" (Now I know why I would say that...I had no self identity)
I played the lead in the Sr. play. I was Earnest in the Importance of being Earnest. Great English play. Later in life when I re-entered college I played several roles, received a full ride. My biggest role was Hamlet (When I was in healthcare finance I would say "I bet there's not another operations manager anywhere that can say they played Hamlet")
Oh Michael...your narcissism runs deep :-)
I excelled at debate. My Senior year we started off winning 2 of the first 3 tournaments including a Masters one. We were 17-1 to start. I could have gone anywhere to debate but my love was baseball. My partner was kicked off the team (attendance) and the rest of year was barely above .500, including getting beat by 1 speaker point in a tie at state to go to the semi's.
Baseball. I was always a Cub fan and always will be. Sports- All Chicago teams sans the White Sox (Sorry too many bloody noses w/Sox fans growing up lol) and an ancillary following of KC Sports. My university in Chicago did not have a strong sports department. So I follow my dad's alma matter K-State. Bill Snyder. Family First. Personal growth second. He's not just a great coach he is a great person. I started Pitching at age 15. That year I threw a 1 hitter (Don't remember it but found the paper article lol) By 18 I was 5'10" 190 pounds and threw 86-88. Had a nasty overhand curve (When it broke...when it didn't..not so good) I wish I had listened to my Dad and developed a change up. I had a few smaller schools scout me and settled on Tabor College (They are now a powerhouse in all 3 major sports) in Hillsboro Ks.
Well...ya had to study. This wasn't KU (no offense meant) or another large college where grades could be "improved." I dropped out my Sophomore year not failing out but on academic probation. We were the antithesis of the current program going 8-24 my Fresh year. I had 2 wins, including opening day which was on my 19th birthday. I had one more game where a Mets scout was there to watch another pitcher. We jumped on him and had a 5-0 lead. I struck out 5 of the first 6. I saw the scout talking to my coach, then he left and I gave up 6 runs the next inning...but it was 1985 so no pitch counts, you went as far as you could. Later we took the lead again and I loaded the bases. I promptly struck out the side as the other team was going nuts during the inning, trying to rattle me...talking smack
Well as the last strikeout occurred, I turned to their bench and waved my hand up and down their bench and screamed "That's on all ya all" Coach took me out and I thought "Oh shit I gotta shake their hands" Well they ended up winning and were really nice, it was fun. The ending tournament that year was in Chattanooga TN where the AA Team plays, The lookouts. I got to pitch game 1. It was against the 15th ranked team in the nation and I threw the game of my life, losing 2-1. I was promptly suspended that evening for being 5 minutes past curfew, on the phone w/a girl.
Are ya seeing a pattern? It sometimes feels like I kill things that bring me joy.
In 1988 at the age of 20, I was hired to coach the new JV team at my HS who had finally added it as a spring sport. That was a lot of fun. We went 4-22 LOL I was tossed from 3 games. Which led to the AD telling me, why don't you go back to college and contact me when you graduate :-( I was also the Varsity Pitching Coach. A good buddy of mine had gone to Arkansas and was home. We pitched a game, him against the JV team and me as the Varsity team. Now he and I had 1 and 2 on the travellers and he was really good.
I won, last game I ever threw. However, the umpire was my assistant coach and that strike zone was huge lol. So I take that win with a grain of salt
One of my favorite moments was meeting Rick Sutcliffe and seeing him multiple times. He came up to WI where I was waiting tables and I was off and in my grubs. I heard he was coming so we had an escalator. At the top was me in the middle 2 suits on one side, 2 women suits on the other. Other than my Dad, he was my biggest hero growing up. As he came off the escalator he lifted his eyes and sorta stepped back as there were 5 people standing there. All of sudden he says "Mike!" and comes up and gives me a man half hug. One of the greatest moments in my life. I hadn't seen him in 18 months and not only did he remember me he singled me out. I don't think anyone there believed I knew him. That evening a gave him a dog (Racing) at 25:1, it won and he didn't bet his $5 on him. I was like "Are you kidding me! I'm never gonna have a dog at 25:1 that wins" There I was chastising Rick Sutcliffe (Playfully...so yeah that was due to my narcissism.)
I waited on several people. Mark Green- A RB for the Bears. (Came in w/Mom and Dad...was cute) I waited on Jonny Roland and Dave McGuiness every week during the 91 season. I think, it was the year they lost to the Giants in the playoffs. Great guys.
I think these relationships were so important to me. Just think, I was (am) a really good waiter and these guys really liked me. Asked for me. I think it really served me well when I went into Healthcare Finance. Even though my narcissism needed to be fed I had developed a genuine ability to relate to people way above (Sports, Dr's, CEO's) me like they were just normal people. I think that stemmed from those earlier days.
There are some other really happy memories. Playing against Rodney Peete, Lee Stephens and David Segui my senior year (Stephens owned me 2 HR, a line drive double off the CF fence- one HR in the state qualifying finals that may not have landed yet) Winning awards, hosting the debate roast and finding out I had won 3 of the 5 awards. So I would open the envelope and see my name and say "And once again...I am the winner. Finally winning the Masters at Gen Con in Axis&Allies.
The common thread between these moments is I felt safe, needed, accepted, cared for. I had a blog post early on where I ended it with "I still have dreams." It's hard being 48, unemployed, disability looks bleak, 3 kids I can barely afford school clothes..and that probably causes me the most pain. My kids love me and its hard because I feel like I let them down.
I still have dreams. People tell me my dreams are too big, laced w/narcissism and grandiosity. I feel like I have a lot to offer. There are a few things I have never discussed or elaborated about on this blog. So I have seen the bottom. Even 2 weeks ago. But I struggle and fight to move forward. Everyday.
My new "dream" is to take my ability to empathize, speak or write, and knowing how the medical system really works. What poverty is like, wondering how you will make the next rent payment. I want to take the knowledge and empathy to those that feel like they have no hope. Sometimes that first step is the hardest one to take.
It's not just a dream, its a passion. I may be unemployable but I won't allow that to stop me. I will use more mindfulness. I will take time to enjoy the good times, past and present.
I'm too damn stubborn to fail
These are my wedding day pics, yeah I had to take a picture of a picture. So may have to enlarge. It was 9-9-99 and 72, no wind. Couldn't have been a prettier day. If any of you have ever seen "Johnny Dangerously" you may appreciate my son's outfit lol