Tuesday, August 18, 2009

America

Living in New York can give you some perspective on things. I'm not talking about some world shattering perspective about the human race or anything, simply about how people interact. I was sitting on the Subway (D train for those who care) on my way back from a concert in SOHO, when I realized that in a short span of time I had seen so many cultures interacting. I was in SOHO, having just walked through Chinatown, eating dinner in Little Italy, while sitting next to a jewish rabbi reading a russian science book. Only then did I realize how much America really doesn't suck. For the last 9 months all i've heard from the media and politicians is how screwed up America has become. How we've let the deficit run wild, the economy spin out of control, innocent soldiers die in a country they have no business in, etc. etc. etc. Well I'm here to tell you not to get all in a fuss. Yes, perhaps we aren't perfect (shocker, i know) but we are far from being nothing more than a money/oil hungry superpower pushing the world around and leaving its people desperate and in disarray. We are a Melting Pot (see 6th grade social studies book fro reference). We have every ethnicity and nearly every country represented inside our borders (hell, maybe even the borders of New York City). And you want to know why...because within these borders lies more opportunity than anywhere else in this world. Because here cultures coexist in the midst of their differences. And here everyone has something to offer everyone else. All Men Are Created Equal...meaning everyone is on a level playing field. No one race or people group is higher than any other, only side by side in search of something special, something everyone comes to America in search of...their own American Dream. I'll never say that America sucks, because for all her imperfections she is and will always be America, The Beautiful

Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Bad Significant Other: A Remedy

For a long time now I, as well as many others I suppose, have fallen prey to what I like to call "The Significant Other Lull". This Lull is reached usually around the 1 year mark, give or take the level of apathy to which each individual is capable. I, for instance, am remarkably caring and aware for approximately the entire first year minus a few stumbles here and there. But I tend to hit my snag when the initial "make her like me" stage turns subtly into the "she likes me, now what" stage. In this stage, the proper thing to do (and most appreciated I find) is to keep doing the same sweet, thoughtful, and romantic things you were doing in the first place when she didn't like you. Yet we all take this opportunity to go and royally screw the pooch. A typical conclusion of events: fail to remember small pet peeves that you so tediously abided to previously, Valentine's Day (no flowers, no candy, only card), arguments...many of them over who will get the last word. Then throw in a tongue lashing about how you never make the other person feel special any more...skip ahead a month. Now you have three half-finished "romantic" gifts sitting in the closet waiting on nothing more than a couple finishing touches and some postage. Expensive matters more now, because the prospect of living your whole life with this person and having to buy lavish things all that time begins to weigh on the future checking account that you may jointly have one day. All in all, you forget why you do things in the first place and get more and more comfortable with delaying them indefinitely. 

Solution. 
Simply do things. You don't have to get all fuzzy and googly eyed again, just start to do some of those things that have been sitting in the romantic place in your brain, hybernating for the last 6 months. Every day try to remember who you're doing it for and why it matters. I promise that soon enough you will remember why you spent so much time and effort getting his/her heart in the first place. Caring is contagious, so as a plus, you may even see a little kickback from your thoughtfulness. The Lull cannot end soon enough people, so go get your Significant Other back and stop being so damn stupid.

Monday, July 6, 2009

One of Those Days

Ever had just "one of those days?" You know, those days where everything you do, say or feel just isn't right. Of course you have, everybody has. Well today was one of those days for me. I wish i could say it was like a Murphy's Law story where everything goes wrong before it all turns around and ends up great. No, it was more of a day that starts out with a lot of promise and slowly bit by bit it gets progressively worse. Here's how mine typically go...

set the stage the night before: Days Inn. Troy, NY. gorge myself on Cheesecake Factory cheesecake. come back to a room that is never quite hot or cold enough all night. don't fall asleep immediately. don't fall asleep eventually. don't fall asleep at all. toss and turn in a a bed where the sheets don't cover your feet. wake up to the phone alarm...7:30 am.

start the day off right, sort of: love my morning coffee. wish it wasn't at 7:45 at a sticky IHOP in Troy, NY. check out of said Days Inn. leave my pillow in room.

get away from normal "big event" routine: maybe you drink a protein shake, give yourself a pep talk, rehearse, etc. I usually listen to music, heat my arm, and pray. Today my ipod died, i burnt my arm with the heat pack (damn thin towels), and sang the national anthem so beautifully to myself that I forgot to thank God after my bullpen. 

"big event" goes worse than you foresaw...much worse: 3.2 inn, 5 runs, 8 hits, 1 walk, 1 hbp, 1 error, 1 pitch for a strike in 1 spot, 1 glove throw, 1 expletive, many "tough day" mantras repeated to me, 0 that had any effect.

day that should end there just doesn't: 2:00 deli meat sandwiches (again. 3 days in a row). 4 hour bus ride through New Jersey even though we played 90 mi. north of NYC (enough to make any day worse). crammed van ride through Brooklyn...back seat on the tire. latin music blaring. ipod still dead.  

silver lining becomes nothing more than a shade of gray: I love food. peer pressured into a 20 min. walk to Buffalo Wild Wing for dinner. table of 13. no separate checks. don't have cash. order chicken sandwich. no chicken left. order burger. mediocre at best. wish i could've had more beer. too expensive. 

you figure out the actual silver lining hidden in the mess: in the midst of my nightmare, I have a fiancee and family that know no other way than to encourage me and tell me "tough day" and "you'll get 'em next time". Im always reminded of the things that transcend crappy days. even really crappy ones.    


Tuesday, June 23, 2009

New York, New York

New York is the all-around winner in my "world's best cities, so far" contest.  The combination of history and culture is unlike anything i've ever seen.  Everyday I drive on the brooklyn beltway, and if I turn my head to the right and twist my neck to an uncomfortable angle I can see the Statue of Liberty.  Still, every day that I get a chance to see it I hold that painful pose to get a glimpse and a moment of the history that the huge copper monument represents.  Millions and millions of people have sailed those waters which connect the rest of the world to the busiest part of it.  In my head, I can picture my great great great (insert lineage here) grandfather McHugh sailing from Ireland and setting his eyes on the same green Lady Liberty that I pass everyday, and thinking "this is it...".  

New York is busy. Very Busy.  I don't think people here are intentionally unfriendly, they just have somewhere they have to be...which happens to be more important than saying hi or thank you.  Don't worry New York, I get it.  It's kinda refreshing to know that you don't have to have etiquette to fit in.  Take note South.  But the fact is, you can't afford to have etiquette or be polite, because there are so many cultures here you would spend all day trying to figure out what is polite to whom?  People are OK with YOU here. There are crazy people, sane people, loud and quiet, overdressed and naked, long hair, short hair, no hair, fake hair, D&G purses, trash bags, and everything in between.  I really believe its the perfect place to carry out Jesus' most important command. Love One Another!  You see so many different people everyday that you can't afford to choose who you want to love, you just have to simply (yet so against our nature) love everyone.  

 I love it here.  It feels like I was meant to be here.  If you get a chance to come here, don't spend all your time trying to act like you're not a tourist.  Conversely, don't spend all your time taking pictures.  Just be who you are and take it all in...well as much of it as you can.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Why I Can't Stand Baseball Players

For all you ballplayers out there (i know you're probably not reading this, but you should be) Do me and everyone else a favor...stop talking about yourself. Stop talking about how great you were in Little League and how I should have seen you against the 12 and under yankees in '01. Stop talking about how many people you struck out in middle school or how many wins you had in high school. Stop telling the story of how you hit a homer in the last inning of the big game or that you hit it off of a future 1st round draft pick. I don't want to hear about how hard you threw that one day or that your team was ranked 3rd in the nation for 5 years in a row. First of all, what the hell rankings are you talking about? The AAU national association of who gives a shit? Also, nobody cares. Nobody cares whether you were your team's MVP or whether you were player of the week 12 times in one year. I don't care if you were a 1st round draft pick or an undrafted free agent. That also means, I don't care how much money you made. You may want to tell me. I know you just can't wait to let me hear how rich you are...save it. 
Im over baseball players affirming the stereotype of dumb, cocky, jock. The fact is that so many ballplayers are really good fairly humble people who are just out there doing what they love. However, the only people anyone ever hears are the ones who talk the loudest...usually about how awesome they are. 

Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Second Best Game in the World

I love golf. 

Golf, next to baseball, is the best game ever. To those who say it's just a game for yuppies who like dressing up in ugly pastels and chasing a little white ball...you're right. I pulled out my seersucker shorts and yellow polo shirt, shelled out 35 big ones and teed it up along side the elderly and wealthy port st. lucie crowd. I don't know what it is about the game that gets me every time. Maybe it's the outdoors without getting dirty. Maybe it's the inevitable golf car racing that occurs as soon as you leave the clubhouse. Maybe it's the 2 balls I have to hit off the first tee to feel like im ready to play (even if they're both 60 yards out of bounds). Very possibly it's the way I find my groove only after 36 ounces of alcohol have been consumed. But without a doubt it's the one shot that you hit perfectly and stick 5 feet from the pin that brings you back. You could miss every fairway, every green, every putt, and every beverage cart lady and still, when you hit that one shot you have to smile and say, "I love this game."

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Don't Sweat It

Next to arguing with an intelligent woman (like my clearly superior fiancee), there is nothing more exhausting or futile in this world than worrying. The fact is, we cannot accomplish anything by worrying. It's a cycle of if's and buts that eventually lead to fear of something that hasn't happened yet. We've all experienced worry in our jobs, relationships (the silent killer), beliefs, etc. But today, even knowing all this, it hit me like a wall rushing up to meet me. 
I hate worrying, so I've learned to disguise it as anxiousness or curiosity. I woke up this morning tired as usual (not a morning person) but it was worse than normal. It was that heavy feeling that makes everything and everyone 50x more annoying. All morning I couldn't help but wondering if/when I would ever make progress in my career, all the while mumbling to myself about how I deserve it and it wouldn't be fair if I didn't move up.  My worry about things that are out of my control led me to resentment which led me to a sense of entitlement. All that to say...I was a miserable person to be around (you know those people). 
Anyway, I brought my bible to the clubhouse yesterday in hopes that I would be motivated to read for the first time in a while. I was sitting at my locker, bible closed in front of me, really just getting sick of myself. I'm usually a nice guy and I really enjoy it, so for me to be brooding emo Collin all morning was eating at me. I had some spare time (shocker, i know) before the game today and so I just started praying. No powerful earth-shaking banter between me and God, just your normal "hey, it's me. I'm struggling here." And so comes the good part. Isaiah 40:31. "Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength." I had to take an inventory of where my hope was and where it was coming from. The reason for my worry wasn't that things aren't going as I planned, but that my hope is in some circumstance I made up, not it the One who creates circumstances. And then, just then, my eyes opened up and I was ok. Not perfect, not ecstatic, but really ok. Really content. 
My remedy to worry...contentment.  Plan of attack from here is to, as Paul McCartney put it (minus its existential origins) "Let it Be."

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Day Older, A Day Wiser

I'm not a rookie (first of many baseball/athletic references) at the social networking phenomenon. In fact I have pretty much run the gambit of all of the major ones: Facebook, Myspace (though sleezier than once thought), Xanga, Twitter, AIM, etc. Even with all of the social commentary at my fingertips, I couldn't help but explore the first and most honourable of all avenues...the blog.
The title of this blog does not necessarily mean that simply for reading this one will become any wiser (although older is an inevitability. I'll try to keep it brief). It simply means that, in my life, time and wisdom go hand in hand in the same direction. I believe that no matter how unwise (can we find a different word?) one may be at whatever age he/she is, they will get wiser with time. I have 21 years of wisdom instilled in me via, among many others, the Christian Church and my Christian family, college and minor league baseball, music, and Love. All too often the manifestation of my wisdom involves the combination of all the afore mentioned. Today, something about baseball. 
Minor league baseball is, for all of its shortcomings, The Great Equalizer. Some may say "you're wrong". Hear me out. I am currently in Extended Spring Training for the New York Mets, and in our clubhouse on any give day you can find no less than 15 different countries represented, 10 different languages, 80 different schools from 60 different conferences, and socioeconomic brackets ranging from "wipe my ass with this 50" to "i've never seen a 50". We've got dads and husbands, only children and one of 12, lefties and righties, innies and outies, black and white and many many shades of brown. We've got first round draft picks and free agent signees each with their own discreet or indiscreet signing bonuses. We have them all in one place fighting for the same 25 major league roster spots. Ok, there are lots of politics, sure, but in the end if you can play you've got a shot. As they say in the poker world (to which i was introduced yesterday to the tune of $240) "All you need is a chip and a chair". In my world it would be better said that "all you need is a jersey and a tool" (not a chainsaw or anything, but 1 of the 5 baseball tools...i'll explain sometime later). I love the fact that, no matter how hard people try, no one person is bigger than the game. No matter where our checkbooks, skin color, language, or "ya, but I know a guy" puts us...we are all in the same boat. The same grueling and wonderful boat that's headed to the Bigs with some of us. The hard part is trying to stay on board the whole time.