Josh on baseball

This morning I was having one of those deep thought moments while I was in the shower. I remembered my short-lived career in pee wee baseball. My parents put me in baseball before I think I even knew what baseball was. The first year or two were dad-pitch seasons. Then we moved up to kid pitch.

I remember being up at bat. The pitch came. I connected. It happened in the blink of an eye. I felt the ball, and then I saw the ball, slowly rolling back toward the pitcher’s mound. But I didn’t swing. It was a close pitch and the ball hit the ring finger on my right hand.

The ball hit the nail on my finger hard enough to reverse direction on impact and roll all the way back to the pitcher’s mound.

I didn’t know what happened. One second I’m watching the pitcher wind up, the ball comes, and then the ball goes. I saw the ball rolling before I realized what’d even happened. The hit. The ball. The confusion. And then the pain.

I think I might’ve been six or seven years old. My coach, my team, and everyone in the stands didn’t know what happened either. We all saw the ball rolling toward the pitcher. I was confused and I was hurt. My coach screamed, “Run!” Everyone on my team screamed, “Run!” My parents screamed, “Run!”

I think I might’ve tried running to first base. I’m pretty sure the pitcher had already sent the ball there. I was just trying to not cry. Blood was pouring from my finger, I was in pain like I’d never felt before, and all I wanted to do was run to my mom in the bleachers so she could stop the pain.

I was out.

And that was the last time that I played baseball.

Maly’s little Yaris

We finalized the purchase of this little Yaris for Maly this afternoon. I’ve now purchased two vehicles from next door (two different neighbors).

It’s bittersweet how we happened upon this little car. It belonged to Alfonso, who was our next-door neighbor. Unfortunately, Alfonso passed away from pancreatic cancer this past April.

This summer we’ve had the opportunity to get to know Alfonso’s adult children as they’ve been active in managing their dad’s estate. While it was a bit awkward, I asked the siblings if they’d entertain selling their dad’s car to me. I figured it would be one less [big] thing for them to have to deal with, and our daughter will be testing for her driver’s license soon and will need a car. They were quick to agree to my offer. So we’ve slowly spent the better part of 3 weeks emailing from afar (one sibling is in Austin, another in Spain, and another in Hungary) and getting all of the necessary documents in order to complete the sale. This purchase wasn’t terrible, but it’s required a few more hoops through which to jump as we bought the car from an estate versus directly from an individual.

Anyway. It’s a cool little car. 2011 Toyota Yaris with barely 24,000 miles on it. It’s basic. No frills on the inside or out. It’s a little 4-cylinder that gets 35 mpg. I think now that we own it, this’ll light a fire under the kid to practice her driving so she can test for her license.

Zilker Relays

I had a lot left in the tank. And I’m 100% A-OK with that. I had fun. We had fun.

Tonight Eric, Jacki, Susanna and I ran the Zilker Relays. We also had two other teams from the Circle C Run Club compete. I never thought I’d see the day when teams (multiple) from the club show up to a race.

The Zilker Relays is a 10-mile course in Zilker Park with four runners. Each runner runs 2.5 miles. Yours truly was nominated to run the anchor leg. There were a lot of teams there, but when you set out on the anchor leg of a 10-mile course, there isn’t really anyone to race. I decided I’d shoot for 15 minutes flat. That’s a 6-minute-mile for 2.5 miles.

I came in at 15:23. I didn’t look at my watch after the first mile. I felt settled in and pretty good at that pace. I could have gone harder. I could’ve found another gear. Especially in that last half mile.

I’m okay with that. Our teams were made up of neighborhood friends. None of us set out to hit a certain time or place in our division.

Fifteen minutes was a good, even number to shoot for. I missed it, but I’m 100% confident that I could’ve come in at 14:5X if I’d stayed dialed in and pushed through a couple spots where I’d let off the gas.

Nature eats civilization

Fifteen or so years ago I drilled an eye bolt into our beautiful cedar elm in the backyard. This was so we could hang our clothesline that stretched from the deck. I think Elise used that clothesline twice.

I’ve backed that bolt out a handful of times as the tree has grown. And then one year, I didn’t.

That mighty elm will finish absorbing it for another year or two. Then only the tree and I will know the fate of that old clothesline bolt.

Maly’s first day of 11th Grade

First day of 11th Grade today

First day of 10th Grade today:

First day of 9th Grade two years ago:

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First day of 7th Grade four years ago:

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First day of 6th Grade five years ago:

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First day of 3rd Grade eight years ago

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First day of 2nd Grade nine years ago

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First day of 1st Grade 10 years ago:

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First day of Kindergarten 11 years ago:

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First day of school 12 years ago:

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First day of school 13 years ago:

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First day of school 14 years ago:

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Mara’s first day of 5th grade

First day of 5th Grade today:

First day of 4th Grade last year:

First day of 3rd Grade two years ago:

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First day of 1st Grade four years ago:

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First day of preschool seven years ago:

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The finality of Bill and Sandy moving

When I woke up this morning, I was having a pretty okay day. The air was crisp and cool this morning for a late-April day in Texas. Nothing overly special about the day. Just sort of a run-of-the-mill nice day.

Bill came back to the house around 10 a.m. because today is the last day that he or Sandy would have access to the house. Bill needed my help unhooking and unplugging the washer, dryer, and refrigerator. And then my mood just did a 180. And I’ve been down in the dumps since. That was the first time that I’d been over there and experienced the finality that is them moving out. The house was completely empty except for the appliances that I was to unplug. It was like turning off life support. I don’t know how to explain it.

Being in their kitchen again. I put the new lights in over the island. Just being there with Bill sitting on the edge of the bay windows as I’m unhooking the washing machine. Being in the backyard again. I’ve spent countless hours and walked miles mowing that yard. Hanging out and talking to Bill in the driveway. Replacing the bulbs in the garage.

We’ve grown close to Bill & Sandy in the last nearly 20 years. I’m probably closer to them than any other neighbor. I actually think Bill was the first neighbor I met when I took a letter over to their house that was accidentally placed in our mailbox.

And it’s kind of dumb, but one of my fondest most recent memories was when we were in for a freeze on a night this past February. I ran across the street to help Bill move some plants inside and he and I just hung out in the foyer and talked. I guess there was just something about him and I out in the cold, taking care of the plants, and then going inside where it was warm and having a chat about probably not much of anything.

I’m just really going to miss the hell out of them. I didn’t realize how important and special the neighbors that live right across the street from you can become. They’re really like family to me.

MVP

The end of year lacrosse banquet. While she’s been playing middie, she was awarded MVP Attack for points scored and draw control.

I’m really excited to see how she improves in this upcoming club season, and then the return to Bowie lacrosse as an upperclassman next year.

When I worked for years at Under Armour, they’d always say “we’re just getting started” to the point where it just became numbing. I feel like Maly’s just getting started. I’m hopeful that she steps into a leadership role and helps her high school team fight for a winning record in the 2023 season.

I’m so damn proud of this kid.

This is a slide from her “Getting to know me” presentation that she submitted at the beginning of her freshman year.

Ten

And just like that — ten years have passed.

I get choked up when I think about my children growing up so fast, but I remind myself that that’s what life’s about. As parents we celebrate the flame in the torch we pass growing brighter and stronger.

If I could selfishly have my own wish on her birthday it would be that she never outgrows giving me her heartfelt hugs. Those mean more to me than she’ll ever know.

Sweet 16

Four desserts at Strega

Maly spent her 16th in Boston. When she was born I wasn’t a runner. Her birthday coincides with the Boston Marathon. We did the touristy stuff today. She doesn’t seem to mind spending birthdays in Boston.

Breakfast date

Yesterday evening Maly said to me, “we should, you know, get up early and go get breakfast tomorrow.”

I took it as an on-a-whim verbal utterance from my teenager. But I indulged her and asked, “you mean, like, you and me? Or the whole family gets up and we all go get breakfast early somewhere?”

“I don’t know. I mean, I guess the whole family could go.”

I don’t remember what was said after that. I think I might’ve said, “okay.” But the conversation didn’t carry on after that. Maly went to her bedroom and I went about whatever I was going about.

She came to me again later in the evening and said, “I was serious. We should go get breakfast tomorrow morning.”

I’d be lying if I said at that point I wasn’t concerned. The child wants to go out for breakfast on a Tuesday morning. Early. This is a teenager who is at that stage in her life where she’s being thrust into the bad habit of staying up too late and coveting as much sleep in the morning as she can. And now she wants to get up an hour early to go have breakfast with her dad. She’s like me. She’s a morning person. She gets up and she’s on her game. I’m nervous that there’s an important life question. A confession. A proposition. Something sensitive that’s going to require “getting it out the way” before the start of a Tuesday.

I’m racking my brain trying to figure out what it is that she’s going to tell me or ask me. My dad head goes to dark places – like human trafficking and drugs.

She decides on Kerbey Lane at 7:15 a.m.

I fell asleep last night, wondering why we were going to breakfast. I woke up 30 minutes before my alarm and the first thing that came to my head that question of what she was going to ask or tell me.

I heard her alarm at 6:30, and then I could hear her getting ready as I was packing Mara’s backpack.

7 a.m. and she’s standing in the kitchen waiting on me, ready to go on our breakfast date.

And that’s all it was. My first-born child and I went to breakfast together on a Tuesday at 7:15 a.m.

I asked her during the second half of our breakfast if there was anything she needed to ask me or wanted to talk about. “Or, was this just a random breakfast date with your dad?”

“Yep. Just spontaneous.”

The food was terrible. Maly said her ginger pancakes were good though. I was on edge and anxious the majority of the time. I wish I hadn’t been. I wish I would’ve known it was just a spontaneous dad and daughter breakfast. I jokingly asked last night if there was anything big that we were going to be discussing. Like if she was finally going to ask me for a pony. She laughed and said “no.” But you don’t usually say there’s going to be a big question or conversation when there’s a big question or conversation on your agenda. It’s not like you boss says, “Hey, let’s go grab breakfast so we can talk about the big downsizing” if you know absolutely nothing about the big downsizing. Your boss invites you to breakfast like everything’s normal and then he tells you about the layoffs.

I’m unbelievably thankful and blessed to have been invited to a spontaneous breakfast date with my daughter. One day I hope she gets to have that experience.

Grief and the trots

I have a really good friend who I’ve coached for a few marathons. She lost her mom on January 14th. Jess and I usually communicate via text messages or in person. Our conversations as of late have been more lengthy, so we’ve exchanged a few emails. Upon learning about her mother, I did as best I could to provide some empathy and words of encouragement. Not so much running encouragement, but life and grief encouragement.

I told her about my dad dying in 2006 and how hard that hit me. I told her about how I still think about him every day and I still grieve. But that grief is different now. That grief is good now.

She wrote to me today and said: “Grief comes for me the way runners shits do – inconvenient, messy, watery, and I’m not in the place to deal with it. But you find a way to either suck it back in or just let it rip.”