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Time for baseball

One of my strongest memories from childhood is lying on my parents’ bed at our house in Redmond, while my dad was watching a Mariners game. Randy Johnson was pitching that day, and Ken Griffey Jr., Alex Rodriguez, Jay Buhner, and Edgar Martinez were all playing. My dad told me about each of them, and 3-year-old Brita was intrigued. Or maybe I was 4. It was 1995 or ’96. But I definitely remember him telling me that Griffey’s real first name was George. He denies to this day that he told me this, but it’s a fact, and not an alternative one. 😉

I tell this story because this was the beginning of my relationship with baseball. I never played the sport, but it was my obsession from then up until high school, when other concerns flooded my mind. That’s probably because the Mariners stopped being good after 2003 or so, and next time I paid a little attention, I didn’t know who any of the players were. But before then, I knew all of them. Everyone knew who Ichiro Suzuki, Martinez, and Buhner were, but I remember the less significant ones, like David Bell, Carlos Guillen, Mark McLemore, and Stan Javier. When my parents and I would go to Mariners games, I’d cheer just as loudly for them as I did for the superstars. In 2001, the year of 116 wins (and no world championship), I liked how everyone contributed to the team’s success in some way. Ichiro got a lot of hits and stole bases. Bret Boone hit home runs. Martinez was his usual clutch self. Jamie Moyer threw slow pitches and deceived hitters. Kazuhiro Sasaki closed out the close games. No one had a bad year. 9-year-old Brita was overjoyed.

It wasn’t just the Mariners I fawned over. I knew at least couple players on all 30 teams. So much that in 2003, I started writing a play called “Baseball Congress,” where a player from each team represented at meetings just like the ones the Continental Congress had during the years of the Revolutionary War. I’d become obsessed with the musical 1776 and combined my two obsessions by writing about them. My dad and I had fun making up stories for them to talk about in the Congress. And I would make sure my parents recorded the All-Star games on videotape (yes, videotape, not DVR) because I’d have swim meets while the game was going on. Complete obsession.

I don’t know why I stopped paying such close attention to baseball. By middle school, the Seahawks were taking over the attention of the Seattle sports scene. I became busier with swim team and orchestra. I spent much time away from home during the summers at music camps. I started watching football more. And of course, the Mariners were terrible. (Still are.) I stopped videotaping the All-Star games, though I did continue to watch them. It was part of growing up, I guess.

By the time I moved back in full-time with my parents in 2014, I had more time on my hands, fresh out of college, so I paid more attention to the Mariners. I didn’t know any of their names, except Felix Hernandez. I don’t think they were very good that year, but we kept the games on in the summer evenings. I was often too busy with my friends to pay attention.

In summer 2015, spending evenings in my apartment, I began to turn to baseball again. This time, the Twins. Also not a great team lately. But I found the broadcasts comforting. Watching baseball on a summer night seems like the right thing to do. Plus I enjoyed seeing whoever Bert Blyleven chose to “circle” on TV. I went to 2 Mariners vs. Twins games in 2016 – one here and one in Seattle. The Twins won both.

I hardly know any Major League Baseball players anymore. That’s when I feel old. The players I grew up watching have mostly retired, or if they’re still playing, they’re close to 40. Ichiro is still playing, actually, for the Miami Marlins now. George Ken has been inducted into the Hall of Fame. Martinez is the Mariners’ hitting coach. Moyer and his wife run a foundation for helping children in distress. Hernandez is still pitching. He’s still one of the few Mariners I know, except for Kyle Seager.

My love for baseball has reduced from the obsession it was when I was a kid. But it still lives quietly within me, reminding me that I don’t have to grow all the way up. I still call my dad sometimes and ask how George Ken is doing.


Where is enough?

I often find myself wondering if I’ve put too much on my plate. Many Luther students do. We all have different combinations of things that add up. I’ve already gone on about mine in great detail. But it’s no secret that it’s exhausting, so much so that I don’t feel like being productive when I have the time to get things done. I was doing quite well for several weeks, but now my brain feels like it’s collapsing in on itself. I had a 3-hour long orchestra rehearsal this morning (with a break) and by the end, I could barely focus, I was so tired. Hopefully that won’t be true at tomorrow’s concert (which you should come hear if you’re in Decorah!). I’m going to bed shortly to get up in time for the Lutheran pow-wow in the morning, at which I’m sure there will be coffee. You can’t have a Lutheran service, especially not one of this stature, without coffee.

My biggest mental pressure right now is my senior paper. Well, now there are two senior papers, technically. I have my Shakespeare one, which I’ve talked about, and my seminar research paper, which will be on Wuthering Heights. The latter one is shorter than the first, but they both require intense research and thought. I’m not sure where I’m going to get this brain capacity from. This is classical liberal arts, though: making you tackle big questions. That kind of education isn’t for everybody, but it is for me. We have our last Center Stage Series show of the semester on Saturday the 16th, a ukulele orchestra from the UK. Then on the 17th, Symphony is running out to Mahtomedi, MN (Twin Cities suburb) to play a concert at a church up there. I’ve never done a run-out before, as in, a day-long tour. It will be a glimpse of what we will experience on our spring break tour. Luckily I will have time on the bus to work on these papers, too. 

My senior paper is going well. I wrote 8 pages within the last couple weeks – so helpful to finally get words on the page! You have no idea. Or maybe you do. I went over it with my main advisor and one of my secondary advisors yesterday, and they helped me see what direction I need to take it from here. Basically, I need more of an argument. I want to argue that Hal (King Henry V) is a better guy than a lot of critics make him out to be, and that there is an ends to his means of coming to power. The argument has taken longer to come together than I wish it would have, but this semester isn’t the end of it, fortunately. I’ll have time to go back and revise throughout the year, but I want to have a complete draft by the time I leave for Christmas break. Then over J-term, I’ll bridge between the scholarly work and the creative, aka, writing my own play. I do see that what I’m studying right now will help me with my own play. The argument I am going to make is based in the aspects of politics that Shakespeare is dramatizing and why, so I can come to my own conclusions about what I should dramatize about modern British politics. It’s all about rhetoric, really, my new favorite subject. And it’s a huge topic, certainly worth more than a 20-25 page discussion.

One of the more recent highlights of my college life was a visit from the hip-hop artists Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, who performed a concert here on Halloween. Yes – they, a couple of the most famous musicians in America, came to a small liberal arts school and performed with enthusiasm. Ahh, Macklemore (real name Ben Haggerty) is such a ball of energy! It helped that I knew the words to the songs, too. I was on an adrenaline rush throughout the night and for several days afterwards. Maybe that’s what I should do from now on when I feel sad: think about that night. Mack was originally scheduled to come in April but cancelled due to illness. I would have gone then, but then again, I would not have appreciated it as much as I did now. I spent the whole summer listening to him in the car, driving to my Patch towns. Plus he’s from Seattle, too. So I developed this strong connection with him. It may sound silly, but it made a difference in my life. It reminded me how valuable my hometown is to me. I spent my second half of high school dying to move out to the Midwest, but now, I can’t wait to continue my life in Seattle. I took it for granted for eighteen years.

Well, time to watch an episode of How I Met Your Mother, sleep, and process all of my thoughts. I always have too many. I don’t know where to draw the line of enough.