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Baseball Season Winds Down…or Up For Some

Baseball Season Winds Down…or Up For Those Who Only Watch Post-Season Games

TGIO! Thank God It’s October!BaseballFan

I never thought I’d utter such heresy, but for the New York Yankees the 2013 season was the worst in recent memory, and stats will no doubt prove it. Talk about injuries! The dugout in the Bronx was like the Emergency Room at Bellevue.  Every time a supposedly healed player returned, another one went down—and sometimes, as in the case of Captain Jeter and his stubborn ankle, the same guy came and went the same day. These guys probably had more emotional pain than physical. I sure did.

When the Mets swept the Yanks in a four-game series, they had the grace and humility to recognize they hadn’t actually swept the Yankees, but, as I came to call them, a bunch of Strangers on the Field. In fact, the thrown-together, ragtag, rotating players did pretty well considering their experience and team cohesion, or lack of both. They fought bravely to the last, nearly making it to the playoffs as a wild card—but didn’t.

And now the Playoffs. As noted up above, some people don’t even watch baseball until things heat up for the post-season. Players pull out all the stops come October, and the games are their most exciting. Each year, it seems, more and more teams compete to get into the World Series, as MLB comes up with more new ideas to make it happen, crowding the field with more wild cards than a poker game among six-year-olds.

Big PapiNow we’re down to just four teams, two from each league, both in the midst of the semi-final battle. In the National League it’s the LA Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals, while in the American League it’s the Boston Red Sox and Detroit Tigers. I care more about the American League, given who’s playing, but I don’t care so much who wins as I do  who should not win. Which is obvious: as a Yankee fan I’m fervently hoping the Sox go down soon with as much humiliation as possible (with the exception of Big Papi–one of my favorite players, he’s allowed to do well as long as he doesn’t win it for them). This year in particular, after what the Yankees and their fans have been through, it will be devastating if the Sox take the WS title. Besides, the only bright spot in the whole of a bankrupt, dying Detroit is their baseball team. So go Tigers! Whip their butts! Whip ’em good!

As for the National League, I’m not fond of the Dodgers and their violent fans, one or more (the perpetrator still hasn’t been caught) of whom severely beat up a Giants fan on opening day two years ago, compromising the workings of his brain. Before an LA fan jumps in here to deliver the news that a Dodger fan was recently murdered on a San Francisco street—I know this. So? It doesn’t lessen the vileness of the first incident or make it right. Let’s hope these crazy morons call it even, and the guy didn’t die entirely for nothing.

Chair of Broken Dreams

The other 2013 story, in the Bronx if not in all of MLB—no, it isn’t A-Rod and his steroids and lawsuit–it’s Mariano Rivera’s season-long farewell. It was such a heartwarming event, or series of events, it almost made us forget what else was going on. Rivera is probably the only player in all of baseball who’s respected and even loved universally. The gifts, the accolades, the notes, the speeches, the donations to Rivera’s charity—every time the Yanks showed up in another city, we got another wonderful story, like the Chair of Broken Dreams or Mariano as Pizza Man delivering to stadium staff. What a trip! What a guy! This is one player who is irreplaceable, and will be greatly missed. So will Andy Pettite, who only announced his retirement a few days before the season closed. Maybe he didn’t want to steal Mariano’s thunder…but Pettite’s also well regarded throughout baseball. Remember the Core Four?  Jeter, Posada, Pettite and Rivera—they played together for something like 18 years. And now there is one. I sure hope his ankle heals by next season!

As my son, a diehard Mets fan says every October, Wait until next year! This is the first time I’ve been forced to say it. Come on, all you broken-hearted Yankee fans. Take a deep breath. Repeat after me:

WAIT UNTIL NEXT YEAR!

 

 

People ask me what I do in winter when there’s no baseball.  
I’ll tell you what I do. 
I stare out the window and wait for spring. 
 ~Rogers Hornsby

Shameless Self-Promo

It’s about time, I’ve decided, that I inform or remind readers of my books for sale, what with a new one just published and another one making the rounds.

Note: As many of you no doubt know, I’ve edited a dozen anthologies of women’s erotica. In case you’re wondering why they aren’t listed here, the reason is simple: I edited those books, and these are books I wrote. Completely. Entirely. To view the erotica, as well as books to which I’ve contributed, see my Publications List

 

 Love and other Illusions

A collection of short stories on love, friendship, joy, pain, breakups and commitment. The stories in Love and Other Illusions, while not explicit, vibrate with passion as they explore topics like the complexities of women’s relationships with men and with each other, the tragicomedy of STDs, and even adultery among a pair of octogenarians. Ebook available at Rennaissance Books, and as an Amazon Kindle.

HTTSHalfway to the Stars

New Low Price! $0.99

“What a strange new world I’ve come to, where the highest holy days honor masturbation and homosexuality.”

So ponders Rachel Max, a reporter from Vermont who migrates to San Francisco on a quest for adventure, work, and love, not necessarily in that order. As editor and writer for a sex-positive journal, it’s Rachel’s job to spin every story into an upbeat celebration. Walk with Rachel through the wilder streets of San Francisco, into the houses, flats, motels, and lofts where sex adventurers and radicals gather for parties, salons, hot talk and hotter action. Available on Smashwords.

SexForTheCluelessSex for the Clueless:
How to Enjoy A More Erotic and Exciting Life

 

My sexual self-help book—every writer has one!—came out in August 2001. Ring any bells? By the time I had copies in hand and was ready to do readings, it was post-9/11 and nobody cared about sex—or at least books about sex; all they wanted to learn and read about was Islam. I’m lax enough about doing publicity; between that and the timing, Sex for the Clueless was swiftly relegated to the crowded warehouses of ignored books. Better late than never! Clueless is still available on Amazon, and it’s well worth a read (say I modestly), as these reviews testify:

I bought this book at my local bookstore and it’s wonderful! Funny, informative and downright clever. It’s the best new sex guide I’ve read in a long, long time.”

“A wonderful book! although it did not teach me about sex (this i know already) it did help me feel more comfortable talking about sexuality with my children. I want them to grow up confident and at ease with their sexual side, and while i wouldn’t go into all the details found in these pages with them, I would certainly keep those very important lines of communication open.”

 Perfectly NormalPerfectly Normal:
A Mother’s Memoir

 

Who says you can’t write about sex and motherhood? A lot of people in the publishing industry, that’s who. Ridiculous! said I, and as soon as online self-publishing came to my attention I put my story up (written many years previous) on iUniverse’s Disability Press, at that time free for those of us writing on the subject. Perfectly Normal tells of my early years as the mother of a child born with a chronic medical condition.

It was 1965 when Daryl was born with hydrocephalus, a neurological disorder in which spinal fluid accumulates in the head, causing abnormal growth and other problems, sometimes even brain damage. A surgical procedure kept him alive, and, now 48, he lives independently.

1965: The comparatively Dark Ages for people with disabilities. I was just nineteen; like most mothers of children with disabilities, I had to learn motherhood while bombarded by self-blame, denial, fear, and resentment. I was confronted with a woefully inadequate medical profession, an educational system devised to meet the needs of “normal” children only, and the so-called helping professionals who marched through my life uninvited. This life experience radicalized me with regard to social attitudes and treatment of people with disabilities; by the time Daryl reached adulthood I was writing about the growing Disability Rights Movement. In Perfectly Normal  and elsewhere I wrote not only about my personal difficulties, but also social injustice. I purposely told my story without offering the balm of fake “inspiration” or an uplifting message. I told the truth.

Available as paperback or e-book  on iUniverse and Amazon.

 

Daily Prompt: Might As Well Jump

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TheWordPress Prompter says Might As Well Jump and then asks: What’s the biggest risk you ‘d like to take–but haven’t been able to?

Golden Gate Bridge

The timing for this could not be more perfect: just yesterday a piece of financial news had me imagining the jump.  Readers won’t love or even like my response, since the expectation of this prompt, or so I assume, is to be inspiring–but that’s of no consequence to me. My jump would, however, require courage–which is in large part why I still haven’t made it. When I saw the words “Might As Well Jump,” an image I’ve harbored for a long time immediately came to me: an image of myself in mid-air, the Golden Gate Bridge behind me, the Pacific Ocean ahead.

I know it won’t feel soothing the way I used to imagine the water would feel; I’ve been told and I’ve read the facts over and over again. The waves will not embrace me, they won’t fold over lovingly. No, they say it’s like hitting cement. WHO says that? The few survivors? There are some who’ve jumped from the GG Bridge and lived to tell the tale–very few, “they” say. Who are these THEY who have so much to say about everything anyway?

I’ve always had romantic feelings about the bridge. Before moving to San Francisco I visited the city, and one day I walked across. The fog swirled around me, and an inner voice whispered, I could write in this City. I was as far away from suicide that day as I’ve ever been. Halfway across the bridge I stopped to stand against the rail and gaze out at the ocean and the skyline, lost in romantic thoughts and future plans. I went into a kind of trance, not that unusual for me, and lost track of time. Suddenly an ancient weathered-faced man appeared at my side. He looked pointedly at me, grinned, and asked, “How we doin’ today?” I nodded and told him I was just fine. And then it hit me: he was one of the guards, or whatever they’re called, who hang out at GG Bridge watching out for potential suicides! I had to laugh.

I was only 42 then. Jumping at the age I am now isn’t entirely irrational. I’m 67, and I don’t look forward to the choices or possibilities that lie ahead. Given I have a lung condition and keep smoking, though struggling against it constantly, I’ll probably go out gasping for oxygen.  The big THEY is always pointing out that it’s a horrible way to go–but come on, what might be better? There aren’t that many attractive ways to get out of here.

I prefer to decide when to go, rather than waiting around to be taken. But the thing is, I don’t exactly want to give up living–it’s just that some of the circumstances of my life make it harder and harder to go on, so given I’ve gotta go anyway…It’s such a bitch that we don’t know when it will happen. I could die today or I could live another 20 years. If it’s the latter, though, what will my quality of life be? It keeps getting worse. The signs, the information, are all around, all I have to do is look at those who are older than me. When my son broke his ankle recently, he was in a rehab facility that was also a nursing home, and I got a real good look. There were days that I couldn’t stop crying.

Sally Binford, a friend of some of my friends, is a hero of mine. She took her life at 70, as planned, even though she was, as far as anyone knew, still healthy. She’d decided a long time before then that she didn’t want to grow older than 70. And then there’s Bill Brent. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bill, who jumped off the bridge last September–the only person I know personally to make the jump. While I was sorry to see him die, and sorrier still to see another casualty of a culture that makes it almost impossible for writers like Bill to survive, I could not help but admire his courage.

Cover of "Final Exit"

I’ve read books like Final Exit, and I regularly check into online forums on suicide. One of the difficulties of attempting suicide is you might screw up. My preferred method

actually wouldn’t be to jump; it’d be the much simpler way out of an overdose. Trouble with that is, pills don’t always work. Final Exit lays out instructions involving specific drugs and a plastic bag over your head–which isn’t the way I want to go, sitting with my head in a vegetable bag, waiting. I can’t imagine using a gun, or knife, or any other kind of physical violence. It’s like Dorothy Parker’s brilliant poem:

 

Resumé

Razors pain you;

Dorothy Parker Photo: Sat.EvePost

Dorothy Parker
Photo: Sat.EvePost

Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

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Maron: Brilliant Tragicomedy

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Marc MaronI finally got to see Marc Maron in person doing his comedy routine, or rather his tragicomedy, tonight at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco. Better than I expected even, more than I could have hoped for. True, I don’t have much to compare to since I rarely go see standup comics–but still, this guy touches his audience on such a deep level, and on so many levels, one cannot simply call it comedy. Which is why I’m using tragicomedy.

A tragicomic example: He did one riff where grownup Marc spoke to Fat Little Boy Marc after the kid blew a baseball catch in centerfield. He fell before the ball even got there, and it landed on his face. After painting a picture of his 9-year-old self all bloodied and crying, he told this little boy exactly how this incident was going to affect the rest of his life. In therapy this would be a breakthrough. In conversation with someone close to him it’d probably inspire tears.  As performance it was all that, plus hilarious. Why such a tragic story should be funny I don’t know, and how Maron transforms the tragedies of life into comedies I can’t figure out, but there you have it.

Much of his performance had me thinking, Wow, men have it bad too. Maron pulled off something I’ve only seen in a male performer maybe once or twice in my life: he aroused in me the kind of empathy I easily feel for women when they share this kind of personal experience. He pushed my compassion buttons so I felt the pain of the American male—or at least this American male. The struggle of little boys who aren’t, as Maron calls them, alpha males; the lifelong fear of jocks; and now, with a girlfriend who’s 20 years younger, he’s become an easy target of righteous wrath from women who assume he’s a shallow man with a trophy wife. He talked about the issues an older person of any gender faces when involved with a younger one, panting to keep up the pace when walking down the street with her, or running around to concerts and such at night. He didn’t choose his girlfriend for her age, but her age carries its own specific baggage. On top of which he has to live with hateful looks from feminists and other women.

It reminds me of the days when I did feminist theater, and men’s reactions were always, “What about men?” We’d say, “Make your own theater!” Most of them didn’t. Maron did.

Yin_Yang

It was a major schlepp getting there and a genuine trauma getting back to a BART station, San Francisco  being no better than the East Bay when it comes to transportation, including taxicabs. No; especially taxicabs. Yet with all that it was worth it. I don’t want to go into the nightmare travel details, but believe me, when I say it was worth it, I’m saying a mouthful.

I restrained myself from talking to Marc afterwards, even though he made himself available to his fans. I suspect  he already thinks I’m a stalker, based on my emails to and blogs about him, so I didn’t want to frighten him further by showing up in the flesh. But hey, Maron, in case you’re reading this: I’m the lady who yelled “Ew” to your dinner of Chinese lamb fat, and later yelled “Brilliant” about your performance. You were.

Plastic Bag Legislation

Muppt judges
The time has come to speak my mind on a subject of great consequence to us all as individuals, as a nation, and as citizens of Planet Earth. The subject I refer to is plastic bags, toxic to birds, fish, and other living creatures. It seems to have reached the tipping point, what with cities and counties throughout the country passing piecemeal legislation banning them.

In California, legislation to ban plastic bag usage has been debated for several years. In 2010, a bill backed by grocers and then-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger didn’t make it past the legislature due to opposition from—who else?– the plastics industry. The first state to ban plastic bags was Hawaii. San Francisco was the first city, in 2007.

In Alameda County where I live a law took effect this January 1st prohibiting food stores from packaging goods in plastic bags. A good law, a sensible law; who doesn’t want to save the poor little fishies who mistake these bags for food and choke to death on them? It’s a kind law, a progressive law. Or so I thought. Like most people I didn’t pay attention to other aspects of the law. Either that or I have a more simple mind than I thought I had. It never occurred to me that banning a product would mean doing anything besides removing it. As it turns out, in addition to the plastic bag taboo—in food SaveWorldstores, that is—customers who forget their tote bags or don’t have any or for any reason don’t wish to hang their purchases  around their necks are welcome to a paper bag—for ten cents. I asked one cashier where the money goes. To the state, she said uncertainly. For what? Nobody seems to know. As I’ve so often observed, most Californians don’t care about small inconveniences; it hadn’t even occurred to them to raise the question.

But I am still a die-hard New Yorker, and I care. I would like to know the rationale behind this fee for paper! One cashier said she thought it was a way of encouraging consumers to recycle by bringing their own bags. I ask you: when did ten cents ever change anyone’s behavior? Those who’ve been recycling bags all along will continue to do so, and those who haven’t are unlikely to start doing so for the money.

Another thing: I’ve always used the plastic bags I get from stores–when I forget to bring my totes–as garbage bags. I cannot understand people who carry on about the dangers of these bags, yet go out and buy plastic garbage bags. Where’s the logic here?

And one final irony: When I bought a mug and some other chatchkalas at Pier One, they put my tissue-wrapped purchases into a plastic bag.

“I thought you can’t use plastic,” I said to the cashier.

“That’s only in food stores,” she replied.bluemeany

If this is true, then the whole thing is just plain absurd.

If it’s not, well, where are the Plastic Police when we need them? Never mind the plague of violence in Oakland—they’re pushing plastic at Pier One! For the sake of the fish, get an undercover team out to Emeryville post-haste!