Resisting the “No!”

resisting the nofbnotesIt is so easy to say, “no” to things — particularly “things” that require getting out of bed, schlepping somewhere, or putting on pants; in some cases, all three. Activities outside the home, particularly ones that involve other humans, require effort. More and more, as opportunities that involve these herculean tasks, specifically the donning of pants, present themselves, my initial reaction is to say, “Thanks, but no thanks!”.

I have a physically demanding and mentally stressful job that requires me to do all of the above AND to interact with people all damn day. Quite frankly, I am tired by day’s end and, more often than not, have had my fill of people. Thus, rationalizing the “no” comes easily at the end of a long shift.

Following the schlep home, all I want to do, all I feel that I can successfully achieve, is to take off my pants and to crawl back under the covers. Where I am safe. Where no one is making demands of me. Where no one is criticizing me.

I have learned, though, to take a beat before responding in the negative, to think about what, exactly, I am saying “no” to (or for). Once I have gotten over the hurdles that include, but are not limited to, leaving my bedroom, throwing on some clothes, and transporting myself elsewhere — and, really, sometimes “elsewhere” is just up the block! — I am always pleased that I resisted the urge to beg off.

Still, the “no” comes more naturally. The “yes” has to fight for top billing.

Recently, because I said “yes”, I was able to enjoy the latest incarnation of “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” on Broadway and, in the same week!, I was entertained by Chinese acrobats. All because I agreed to put on pants.

I enjoyed the play and the acrobats. Truly, Jessica Lange’s performance in “Long Day’s Journey Into Night” was mesmerizing; and those Chinese acrobats were something else! Even so, these outings were about more than just the events.

I enjoyed the company, the camaraderie, of the people that I was with. Because they were not just any old “people”, they were “my” people — people who I have chosen, people who have chosen me.

I am not in their lives to fetch them straws or to make them some cockamamie drink. They are not sitting in judgment of my job performance in light of the fact that I spilled a ramekin of butter on a guest. They appreciate my eye-rolling and sighing, welcome it, even.

When I am at work I feel as though I am the subject in the most recent installment of a little game show that I like to call “Let’s Build a Better Employee”. I am not sure which is worse: knowing that I am the subject or knowing that I am not the best possible choice of contestant.

There was a time when I would have been the perfect contestant. That time was not all that long ago, it may, in fact, have been last week. But, now? This week? It seems that I am getting so few things right.

Getting all of the answers wrong takes all the fun out of the game. I go home at the end of every shift feeling uneasy, anxious, and, defeated. When I have been made to feel like I have no value, slipping into a pair of pajamas and sliding into bed seems the best course of action.

It is not. Surrounding myself with “my” people; saying “yes” to them is, in fact, the better choice, the antidote, to all of the other bullshit that life throws at you.

What I have discovered is that when I am around “my” people, I am almost instantly transformed into a person who has value. I feel, not only valued, but truly loved and appreciated. For that feeling I will resist the urge to go to bed at 7:00 PM. For that feeling I will schlep to wherever I need to schlep. For that feeling I will put on pants.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Why I CANNOT Vote For Donald Trump

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I cannot vote for Donald Trump. My reasons are not high-brow or intellectual. Still, I have put a great deal of thought into them. I hope my tribe of liberals can forgive me.

Putting Trump’s message and his demagoguery aside, my reasons have more to do with his hair and his love of self-tanner, than they do with his political beliefs. On the face of it, a person’s appearance may seem like a shallow reason not to vote for him. Stay with me, though, it will all make sense in the end.

His absolute insistence on maintaining a bad haircut says a great deal about him, both as a person and as a leader. His commitment to embracing something that is so clearly wrong, something that he could very easily change, does not scream “I like my hair and I am leaving it as it is!”. Rather it says, “I’m not taking suggestions from the crowd.”

This is a fine attitude for a rock band who does not want to play “Freebird” to adopt, but not the attitude that a person who wants to lead a country should embrace. Leading is as much about recognizing situations where compromise may be in order as it is about being in charge.

It has not gone unnoticed that plenty of dictators throughout the course of history were also in possession of bad haircuts. Hitler. Stalin. Kim Jong-Il.

We all have a bad haircut story. Bad haircuts are part of life. Most of us, though, have the sense that God gave a cow and we do something about it OR we, when we can, wear a hat. At the very least we explain our bad haircut. “I had a groupon” pretty much says it all.

Even though he is a billionaire, I would still accept the groupon explanation. Frugality is not a bad thing.

The very fact that he has failed to demonstrate any common sense where his hair is concerned has always troubled me. In fact, he is pretty resolute on the hair thing. Even prior to listening to his rhetoric this political season, I could not get behind anything he said or did because I could not get past the message his hair puts out.

I do not believe for a minute that his children, a couple of whom seem like sensible people, have never looked him in the eye and said, “Your hair is crazy, Dad!” I know mine would. I wouldn’t get away with sporting that look for a minute!

Are we supposed to believe that his daughter, Ivanka, a woman with a successful fashion line has failed to have any conversation with her father about his hair? The more likely scenario is that he has just refused to listen.

It is hard to fathom that a woman who puts her name on some very fine products—have you seen her shoes?—has not taken the opportunity in a quiet moment to have a frank discussion with her father about his hair. I would never expect her to go public with this information, though. I feel certain that she feels awful about her inability to convince him to make a change.

I know that I would. I also know that I would be shaking my head and telling my father that “it’s not a trademark, Da, it’s a hot mess!”

The Donald has fancied this bad comb-over with a mind of its own style for years. The self-tanner, though, that is more recent. I can understand a person who wants to have a healthy glow without subjecting themselves to harmful UV rays. I can understand a person on a budget who ducks into the local CVS and plops down the ten bucks for the self-tanner that she can afford. What I cannot understand is how Donald Trump, a billionaire who is running for President of The United States, thinks that the best place to cut corners, financially-speaking, is in the self-tanning aisle.

It is not. It is just not. His orange face in combination with that awful hair does not project self-confidence; it projects his inability to recognize bad decisions.

He has managed to be in out of a several marriages, though. He does not seem to have the same level of commitment to the women in his life as he has to the misguided belief that he looks fantastic.

He looks orange. He looks weird.

He looks very much like the crazy person that he has turned out to be.

Still, even had he not proved himself to be an authoritarian, hate-spewing, violent reactionary with no real qualification for public office, I still would not be voting for him. Because of the hair. Because of the self-tanner.

Shallow though my reasons may be, I think I have a point, don’t you?

 

Photo Credits:

Trump Looking Orange

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It Won’t Be Like This For Long

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I awakened in the dead of night in a cold sweat. I dreamed that I could not find my daughter. It felt so real. So much so that I was, momentarily and, quite literally, panic stricken.

Once I had convinced myself that it was just a bad dream I made a few vain attempts at getting back to sleep, but the images from the dream continued to haunt me every time I closed my eyes.

I finally fell asleep. It was a very deep sleep. When I woke up this morning I had only a vague recollection of the frightening middle-of-the-night events and, thankfully, a sense of relief.

In the light of day I laid there for a time and tried to sort out the message that my subconscious had been sending me. Upon reflection, the message was not scary at all.

Why my dreams, and this one was no exception, often have the feel of a 1920’s speakeasy — illicit, hazy, and filled with shady characters — I will never understand.

Regardless of its overall mood and the strangeness of its setting, images of my daughter, not as she is today, but as she was as a child, were a large part of the dream and, upon conscious reflection, its overriding theme. They were not only memories, these images; they were also actual snapshots; photographs — happy photographs for the most part — taken by me or by someone else; real, tangible items that I have held in my hands.

Her on a swing in the park. Her, with her father’s assistance, putting the angel atop the Christmas tree. Her at an ice cream shop on a long ago vacation. Her dressed as a Pilgrim. Her playing field hockey. Her, in her prom dress, with her head thrown back and her arms akimbo, laughing. Her face on a baseball card. Her, as an infant, sleeping in her father’s arms.

Mostly, though, there was the one of her in her purple hat and matching coat. She was six years old. It was late Autumn. The Halloween decorations on the front lawn can be seen in the background. I must have had film left in the camera. Likely there were pictures of her, dressed as Tinkerbell, on that roll. I remember taking that picture.

That little girl that I was relentlessly (and unsuccessfully) searching for in my dream no longer exists. I have to let her go. I know this. Of course I know this. It is not easy, though.

On some level I blame Hootie for the dream. Yes, Hootie, from “Hootie and the Blowfish”. To be fair, he goes by his real name now — Darius Rucker. Last night, which was, incidentally, my daughter’s first night back at school since mid-December, I was watching a PBS program which featured Mr. Rucker.

As I was laying there, missing her, thinking about the fact that I may not see her until April, he began to tell the story of one of his most popular songs, “It Won’t Be Like This For Long”. While I have heard that song countless times, I guess that I never really listened to the words. Last night, I listened to the words. And I burst into tears.

Thankfully my husband had already fallen asleep. While he has developed a taste for “Downton Abbey”, “Mercy Street” may not have been his cup of tea. So, there I was, feeling alone and vulnerable, trying to decide whether or not “Mercy Street” had been my cup of tea either, when this music program came on.

I like Darius Rucker. I figured that listening to him sing would be a nice way to end what had been an angst-filled week.

The last week before she returns to school is always bittersweet. That, combined with the fact that I hit the bad job jackpot — I now have two jobs that I hate, aren’t I a lucky gal? — and an ill-timed decision to paint my kitchen (don’t ask!), left me longing for some mindless entertainment. Enter Hootie.

And THAT song.

Yeah. It won’t be like this for long. I know. Still, I would give just about anything if today I was posing her in front of the pumpkins in her little purple hat and asking her to smile and to say, “Cheese” instead of sitting here thinking about how she is 300 miles away.

On the other hand, it won’t be like this for long.


 

To hear “It Won’t Be Like This For Long”, copy and paste this link:

http://www.vevo.com/watch/darius-rucker/It-Wont-Be-Like-This-For-Long/USCN20800069

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shuddering At the Thought

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Joe’s Crab Shack announced yesterday that it is instituting a “no tipping” policy in its restaurants. Instead, they announced, they will be paying their wait staff a wage of $14/hour. One might think that I, a lifelong server, would applaud this move. I am going to reserve my ovation for the moment.

While this may well be a step in the right direction, I am concerned about the hourly rate. How, I would like to know, did the folks at Joe’s Crab Shack arrive at this figure? (To be fair, they did indicate that some servers — based on merit — would be paid more.)

I think a pre-tax hourly rate of $14/hour is low. I think that the majority of the staff at Joe’s Crab Shack will be taking a pay cut. Actually, at least here in the northeast, I know that they will be. I took a look at my most recent pay stub and discovered that, for me, and I would guarantee for most of my co-workers, this would be true. The pay cut that we would be taking if our company were to go in this same direction? Approximately 50%.

Does anyone think we do this because we LOVE our jobs? We do this for the money — and for the flexible hours. I would hazard a guess that servers at Joe’s Crab Shack are going to lose both money and flexibility, particularly in terms of the number of hours they will be allowed to work on a given day. Many States have laws on the books that require a person be paid time-and-a-half for any time worked over 8 hours/day. Typically, tipped employees are exempt from these rules.

Generally, I work an 11-hour shift at least one day/week, sometimes more often than that. It allows me to maximize my hourly wage and to work fewer days.

I would also like to monitor the prices at Joe’s Crab Shack — for the past year and for the coming year — for increases. I am willing to bet that the consumer will still be paying the service staff, only in a different way; in a way that will now be controlled by Joe’s Crab Shack, rather than by its patrons.

It will also be interesting to see whether or not the level of service will decline once the service staff is no longer incentivized. Think about it. If a server has three tables in an hour and their sales in that time period add up to $300, they have a built in incentive to service these guests well. Why? $45/hour, that’s why.

While I understand that a person will not net $45 in that hour (one must take out taxes and tip-outs). Still, 15% of this $300 in sales would, at a minimum, translate, after taxes and tip-outs, to about $30 in the server’s pocket, which is still more than double the $14/hour that Joe’s Crab Shack has decided is a fair wage for its service staff. (No, we do not make $30/hour ALL the time, but during peak dinner hours we can earn that.)

I watch servers now — servers who have every reason to provide excellent service — who do not do their jobs. These are people who, in my opinion, will be content with a flat rate wage. Will their customers be content without a water refill? Will their tables be full of dirty dishes? Will they have ketchup? Time, I suppose, will tell.

If this trend takes hold, I would not be surprised if most good servers, professional servers, leave the industry altogether. If people think servers are stupid (or lazy, or lack menu knowledge, or…. insert your own preconceived, but likely wrong, notion here) now, just wait until they see what they get when the person waiting on them is only taking home about eleven bucks an hour. Trying to find your server will be like trying to find the person wearing the orange apron at the home improvement store. Good luck with that!

I understand that there are restaurants where tipping is not allowed. I understand that it works for them. Frankly, I don’t know how — not when these same workers can go down the road and make twice what they are making in an establishment where tipping is the norm.

Where a “no tipping” policy works may have something to do with workers who are comfortable with this custom. For example, there is a Japanese restaurant in NYC where tipping is not allowed — because tipping is not allowed in Japan. I am not sure how this translates to the US economy, but it seems to work for them. (So they say.)

There may be isolated cases where a worker simply can not go “down the road” to another establishment and make more money. I would imagine that a restaurant located in a lightly populated area — an area where the hourly wage vs. being tipped evens out. This sort of establishment might draw a decent pool of workers who are happy to work for a flat rate. This is not the case in my corner of the world.

Do not even get me started on what the expectation from employers — once they are paying their front-of-house staff $14 an hour — will be. I guarantee you that cleaning bathrooms, removing garbage, and spit-shining fixtures will be in the future of service staff members nationwide. That will not be a good thing, not for servers, but especially not for the folks who currently do these jobs. I would bet that quite a few of these workers will find themselves out of jobs — jobs that they sorely need.

Currently our “side work” can be back-breaking. There are considerations, though, about how much of it we can have and how long we can reasonably be expected to complete our tasks. The law says that we must be able to finish this work while we still have tables — while we still have the opportunity to make at least minimum wage. Once we are being paid $14/hour, all bets, where “side work” is concerned, will be off.

Where I live, bringing home $11/hour will not cut it. Working for $440 a week would bankrupt me. (This is assuming that a restaurant is willing to give me — or anyone else — a full 40-hour a week schedule.) I would have to have two jobs — two full-time jobs — to earn what I currently take home working one. I am, quite literally, shuddering at the thought.

As consumers, you should be shuddering at the thought, too.

#shutupaboutthecupsalreadyandbegrateful

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Like many other people in the country — so many that there is a trending Twitter hashtag (#starbuckschristmas) devoted to this extremely important issue — I feel the need to weigh in on the whole “Starbuck’s changed its Christmas cup to appeal to the complainers in the world who want to take Christ out of Christmas!” brouhaha. Like many other people in the country, I honestly cannot remember what the old Christmas cup looked like, but not knowing about a thing ever stopped me from expressing my opinion about it before. Unlike the folks up at Starbuck’s, I will just go ahead and stick with tradition, dammit!

I am assuming that there was some nod to Christmas on the Starbuck’s holiday cup. I seriously doubt that there was a nativity scene emblazoned on the old cups. But, what do I know? Maybe there was. I never noticed.

Frankly, I don’t notice much when I am in Starbuck’s. Except maybe how many people are standing between me and my ability to get my French vanilla latte, made breve, with an extra shot of espresso. Depending on the season, I may replace French vanilla with Pumpkin Spice or Crème Brulee. Yeah. I’m flexible like that.

I am also flexible about a company changing the design of its cup. Actually, I don’t really care about the design of the cup, so long as they don’t screw with what they put inside of it. I love Starbuck’s coffee. I am not ashamed to admit it. Some people have gone so far as to suggest that I may need a 12-step meeting to deal with my addiction. To this I say, mainly to my husband and daughter, “Stop talking to me. I am trying to decide between the French vanilla and the Pumpkin spice.” , as I wonder if there is a 12-step program for nagging that I could direct them towards.

To the people complaining about the cup design I say, “Be grateful you have a cup to put your $6 coffee into; be grateful you have the six bucks for the coffee at all.” I have a suggestion for them, those who are so offended by the audacity of a corporation to change the design on their cups: stop drinking it.

They won’t though. They won’t suddenly become Dunkin’ Donuts customers. Would you like to know why? Because, if they did, then they would have to drink Dunkin’ Donuts coffee. No Starbuck’s coffee drinker in their right mind is going to voluntarily switch to DD. No way. No how.

In a world where there is much to be grateful for (truly, there is), the existence of Dunkin’ Donuts is not something a Starbuck’s coffee drinker could ever be grateful for. It will serve in a pinch, but as an every day substitute? No way. No how.

This idea of what we should be grateful for reminded me of many scenes from my childhood, most of them involving my father. My father began a lot of sentences (from the front porch, with coffee cup in hand) with  “You’re lucky….” . And, we were.

We were “lucky”, to his way of thinking, to have arms with which to rake leaves for hours, fingers with which to pull weeds from between the sidewalk cracks all day (likely a punishment for saying we were “bored”!), and legs with which to get our asses to the store for a loaf of bread and a gallon of milk. Before you get the idea that my father was the 1970s version of Simon Legre, let me just paint a picture for you.

In that picture you will see a man that worked all night and stayed up with us during the day. (Hence the porch sitting and the coffee drinking.) You will see a man that often helped us with the leaf raking (he wasn’t a big fan of the weed pulling) and always (and I mean “always”, as in every single time) joined us as we jumped (or, very often were thrown — by him) into the giant piles of leaves that wound up in the cement pond that had long ago ceased to contain fish or frogs, but made an excellent place for growing mint in the summertime and for depositing leaves in the Fall. He didn’t really work us, no matter what we told our mother, all that hard.

Depending on the season, there was always cocoa or lemonade at the end of whichever mindless task we had been assigned. If we had to run down to the store to fetch milk or bread, the change was always ours to spend — on whatever struck our fancy. I, usually, spent mine on magazines or comic books, my sister spent hers on snacks. Unless it was Summer; it was nearly impossible to resist the lure of the “bomb pop” on a hot day — even if Donny Osmond or David Cassidy were gracing the cover of the latest “Tiger Beat”.

I can remember walking home covered in “bomb pop” remnants. The stickiness of the red and blue dye that were the hallmarks of having eaten a bomb pop made me, I am sure, look like an urchin. Still, I was a happy urchin. On a sugar high. Now, I am a happy adult. On a caffeine high. Thank you, Starbuck’s. Thank you, Dad.

I was lucky. I know that now. I knew it then, too. I think it is high time that other people recognize how lucky they are. And, they are very lucky indeed, lucky enough to have the time to fret over coffee cup designs. To that end, I would like to suggest a new Twitter hashtag, #shutupaboutthecupsalreadyandbegrateful.

Tales From “The Annoying Bar & Grill”: If You See Something, Say Something!

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Last night I overheard a customer who was sitting at the bar ask my bar partner what my name was. I had no idea why this guy wanted this information; I had had absolutely no interaction with this customer at all. “Great!”, I thought to myself, “What the hell did I do NOW?” Because, yeah, I always think the worst. I’m Irish: it is, alas, in my nature to be a pessimist. Also, it has been my experience that the sole reason someone wants to know your name is so that they can complain about you.

I went over to him and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Jackie. How are you tonight?” This was a tactical move on my part. I figured that maybe I could “make my case”, nip the whole complaining about me thing in the bud by being straightforward with, by ingratiating myself to, “the guy”. I was wracking my brain, trying to think what the hell I could have done wrong.

I quickly scrolled through the possibilities. Did “the guy” witness me committing some heinous error related to personal hygiene? Did I touch my hair? My mouth? Did I pick up a glass by the rim? I didn’t think so. I am careful about those things. Still, anyone can make a mistake.

Did we ignore him in favor of someone who walked in .05 seconds after him? That happens sometimes. It is not intentional. It is, more often than not, a result of someone standing in a more convenient spot than another person. Eventually we get to everyone. We try to be fair. People don’t always see it that way. I have been at this long enough to know that.

“The guy” had nearly finished his meal. From what I could tell my bar partner had adequately attended to this man’s needs. Or had he? Did this gentleman think me “in charge” because I was the elder stateswoman behind the bar? Was he going to lodge a complaint about my young co-worker? That happens sometimes, too. Actually, that happens a lot.

I am, by the way, not “in charge” of anything or anybody. People don’t know that, though. They often grab me, thinking that I, by virtue, I suppose, of my gray hair and conscientious manner, also possess the magical ability to solve their problems, which, of course, I do not.

Did I bash into his barstool, causing his knife to slip? Did a morsel of food go sailing off of his plate as a result of my clumsiness? Perhaps. I am not known far and wide for my gracefulness.

I do not see well in the dark, either. The manager on duty last night likes to keep the lights low. I can barely see a thing. I have no time to fool with lighting. Sure, I’ve bitched about it. The manager’s answer? He likes it that way. Okay. I am a woman who has learned to pick her battles. I am not going to engage in lighting warfare with a manager who, outside of his penchant for striking a romantic atmosphere, does his job well. Life is too short for that kind of nonsense.

He, the manager, finds it hysterical when I bring up the flashlight on my phone to find things in the dark — and by “things” I mean the cash register. Yeah. I would love to get one of those miner’s helmets and strap it on the next time we work together. That, too, would amuse him. He and I have a few laughs, mostly at my expense. Because he is a good egg, I am willing to move past our lighting issues. In the spirit of congeniality, he is willing to overlook some of my more idiosyncratic behaviors. (Like my trademark eye-rolling, for example.) It is what it is.

Did “the guy” think he knew me from somewhere? That happens. I know a lot of people. I have worked locally in bars and restaurants for the past thirty years. A lot of people know me. It is slightly embarrassing when I don’t remember them, but what are you going to do? I can’t be expected to remember every person I have ever come into contact with in my life, can I?

I was hoping our conversation was not going to be a trip down Memory Lane. I was busy. Far too busy to take a jaunt back in time with a guy that I would have sworn on a stack of Bibles that I had never seen before.

All of this was rolling around my head as I was standing in front of “the guy”. He politely explained that he wanted to know my name because he wanted to commend me. When he wants to compliment a person, he said, he likes to know their name. What?!?!?!

This hardly ever happens. This was not a scenario that had played out in my head as I approached “the guy”, particularly because, like I said, I had had no interaction with him whatsoever.

I did not see this coming. I did not even know he was aware of my existence before he asked my bar partner for my name. He told me that I was the hardest worker he had ever seen, compared me to the “Energizer Bunny”, and told me that he was exhausted just watching me. I apologized for tuckering him out, explained that my bar partner made my success possible (“couldn’t do it without him!” “we make a great team!”), and thanked the customer for noticing.

As I was speaking with him, I noticed, out of the corner of my eye, that I was being summoned by a woman who was seated at one of the bar top tables. I excused myself, but was planning to make my way back to “the guy”, to get HIS name, to thank him again. (To beg him to return!) Once I had attended to the woman’s demand for, I kid you not, “a dozen” lemons, (yes, that’s what she wanted, a “dozen” lemons — for her steak!) I looked for him, but he was gone.

I wanted him to know that he made my week! It had been a bit of a rough week, to tell you the truth. Many of us worker bees had wondered, aloud and with head-shaking seriousness, what had gotten into people this week? Seriously. Every shift was chock full of the nasty and the weird. We all felt slightly outnumbered.

This guy, “the guy”, softened the edges of what had been an angst-filled week. The lesson here, my friends, is this: if you see something, say something, especially if that something is nice. It may just mean the world to someone. I am lucky that last night that “someone” was me.

Exceeding Expectations

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I was listening to Jackson Browne’s seminal album, Late for the Sky (1974), today. One of my favorite songs from that album is entitled “Farther On”. It felt appropriate today to listen to this particular song. The New York Mets players and their fans — of which I am one — awakened this morning to the sad reality that this season is over. Like this song says, our “dreams have come up torn and empty”.

Last year, following a below .500 season, I published some musings on my team in a post entitled “Here’s To Hoping!”. The Mets gave us more than hope this year; they brought us to The World Series. They gave us October baseball. Hell, they gave us a little bit of November baseball. We went to The World Series. The World Series!

I have decided that rather than be saddened by the loss we experienced last night, that I am going to be grateful for the season we, the fans, were given. And, of course, I will remain hopeful for next year. (Hopefulness and a certain amount of cock-eyed optimism regarding “next year” are hallmarks of all New York Mets’ fans; it is in our DNA.)

So, they did not win this year. So, what? They got there, which is far more than any of us, individually or collectively, could have reasonably expected from this team only one short year ago! Actually, never mind a year ago, things looked bleak as late as this past July! And then, BOOM!

It happened. The unthinkable happened. Some trades were made at the deadline which shored up both our offense and our defense. The Washington Nationals imploded. We began to hit.

The long ball became our deadliest weapon. Yoenis Cespedes, who was acquired just minutes before the trade deadline, came to New York on what looked like a mission — a mission to tear the leather off of every baseball that was thrown his way. Boy, oh boy, was that exciting!

Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed added depth to the bullpen — depth we sorely needed. They formed the bridge from our young, but stellar, starting pitchers to our closer, Jeurys Familia — himself a young man with little experience who, stunningly and, yes, surprisingly, emerged as one of the most reliable closers in baseball. Yeah. Hell, yeah!

We battled the Dodgers and the Cubs, teams with the most effective starting pitchers in all of baseball. Nearly unhittable, these guys are. Tell that to Daniel Murphy, our second baseman. He got hot in the playoffs — so hot that he tied a record for post-season home runs, a record which was set by — wait for it — some guy named Babe Ruth. And he hit them off of the most unhittable pitchers in the game. Yeah. Pretty impressive.

Alas, The Kansas City Royals were impressive, too. They played their game, capitalized on our weaknesses, waited out our starting pitching, got to the bullpen. This year was their year. That’s okay. Our journey took us farther than we or anyone else expected us to travel this year. It was a long and often strange trip. It was a great time to be a Mets’ fan throughout this pleasantly surprising season.

At the end of the day this should be everyone’s goal, shouldn’t it? To exceed expectations? To achieve the unthinkable? To be pleasantly surprised? Yeah. Who wouldn’t be happy with that? I would be happy with that.

I have set my own goals for this month. I would like to take a page out of the Mets’ book and exceed my own expectations. I decided to take part in National Novel Writing Month. I have no idea if I have a novel in me, but I am going to start writing one — or something else — every day in the month of November. I have set a goal of 1,500 words a day. Who knows? Perhaps, like my Mets, I will surprise not only myself, but everyone else, too. Maybe, just maybe, I will look like this at the end of November:

Sep 7, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) reacts after scoring a run in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 7, 2015; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets third baseman David Wright (5) reacts after scoring a run in the seventh inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

When I think of this season, this is the image that will stick with me. If I become discouraged by my own arduous task, I will close my eyes, summon that moment right there, and remember that obstacles can be overcome. That guy? That’s David Wright. He’s our third baseman, our captain. He missed most of the season because he was diagnosed with spinal stenosis, which could have ended his career. (Its onset has ended many a promising baseball career.) That it will likely shorten his career, that it has already stolen much of his power and agility, saddens me beyond measure. Undoubtedly he, too, is disappointed in the cards he has been dealt.

You wouldn’t know it, though. Not only did he NOT give up, he continued to be a credit to the game. AND he went to The World Series. The damn World Series. Yeah. So, what am I worried about? Typing? Thinking? Pshaw!


Here, for your listening pleasure (and mine), I give you the song that inspired this post, Jackson Browne’s “Farther On” (from the album Late for the Sky, 1974).

I have a sneaking suspicion that if you asked him, Jackson would admit that he, too, exceeded his own expectations. I wonder if he wakes up some days thinking, “Wow, I can’t believe I wrote THAT!”