Finals Season is a crazy time

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Finals.

The worst concept ever created. Death is a more welcoming idea. Whoever thought that it would be a good idea to test students on every single class they’ve had in a matter of a week and have each of those tests be worth anywhere from 20% to 50% of your overall grade should get prize.

Like the complete opposite of a Nobel Peace Prize. A Hitler War Prize maybe.

Finals week is where the men are separated from the boys and it turns out everyone are boys. It really makes you put into perspective what important in your life. If you’ve been through it you’d understand and everyone should go through at least one finals week in their life because you can really find what your purpose is.

Just imagine this. You’re 2 finals in. They’ve weathered your confidence. Studying for Saturday’s two tests is looming over your head. Your eyes ache, your head hurts, and you have not moved from your spot in the library for hours.

What would you rather be doing instead? You start bargaining in your head. “If I study later tonight I can game for about an hour” or maybe “If I just study all night tomorrow, I’ll be able to write that novel I’ve been picking at for the past couple of weeks”

Whatever you’d rather be doing is the real you. You find out what you miss most and it can get pretty mundane. At one point, laundry became an escape from finals for me. I hate doing laundry.

Everyone is a little stressed about finals, but some either have such good grades that one C won’t hurt them while others need a 102 to pass the one last class they need to graduate. Semesters are defined in about a week. I remember freshman year I had A’s and A-‘s across the board. I was content. I was cocky. Why study for finals when I could watch some old cartoons I watched as a kid? I knew what happened in the episodes, but they’re still cool to watch. My good grades so far must mean that I already know everything that I need to know for the finals. I never stood a chance. My naivety was my downfall. That and my fascination with superhero cartoons.

I won’t give out any exact numbers, but it got ugly quick. Like 2017 politics ugly.

I vowed to never let that happen again. The pointless slaughter of my freshman GPA would not be in vain.

I started prepping. My notes marked dates and what the finals would cover. I’d figure out all my finals dates and when I should start studying for each weeks before finals reared its horrible mug. I can’t say that finals for me are easy in anyway, but I sure feel better during the week.

I got time to workout and write (with the occasional cartoon thrown in there). I mean sure I could study more to get that 89 on the final to a 90, but as long as my grades didn’t completely falter I’m content.

Other people I know don’t even bother preparing and it works fine for them. The stress finals puts them into some next level state where their sole purpose in life becomes to absorb information and then spout it out at given times during the test. It’s quite a sight. I’d ask them why they did that to themselves. Why hurt yourself for an entire week? It was the only way they knew and it got the job done. I feel like far too many people hold this philosophy and I respect that.

Some people don’t crack under pressure.

Finals affects everyone differently. At some base level everyone is stressed. I feel like I can relate better with other students because I know they’re feeling something similar to me. However, I don’t handle stress well. You can tell from a distance when I’m stressed; I dress worse, my hair is messy because I play with my hair when I’m unnerved, and above all else I’ll get a forehead full of bright red pimples. Don’t let the appearance full you, I’m used to the stress. I am always some level of stress about something and it is a habit I’m trying to fight off. I’m more focused when I’m stressed, hence why my high school baseball coach referred to me solely as “Mr. Clutch”. I stepped up when it mattered, but man do I feel horrible the whole time doing it.

I try to keep to my routine during finals. Try to eat as healthy as always (with obvious failure), workout everyday, and sleep in a regular cycle.

Some people show no signs of change. A girl I know still dresses like its just another day, her makeup is on like nothing is new, and her demeanor is just as happy as if she was at Disney World. It’s sickening. However, when we sat down to study, she broke down mentally. “I am so screwed, I don’t know anything. I should just drop out”. Fucking hell. Finals got to her too.

Finals induces stress which is dealt with in a variety of ways or not at all. It pushes you mentally and that can leave your body in a way worse off space.

One of my friends from back home always posts stories about him working until 4 AM and then starting his day again at 7 AM. It’s both a shame and a marvel to watch. The kid always tries his best, but putting shit up can add up quick. If I had to choose one piece of advice I could tell myself about finals when I was younger it would either be get as much sleep as you usual do (granted that isn’t much), plan waaaaaaaay ahead for finals, or maintain a routine so your body doesn’t go into shock from the sudden 3 all-nighters in a row.

My high school teacher would tell us while studying for the AP exams, “The hay will already be in the barn the day of the test”. You either know it or you don’t. At some point forcing anything else is only counterproductive.

Or at least I think that’s what that meant. Whatever, I should be studying right now anyways.

Finding Yourself in College

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It’s such a cliche isn’t it? College is where you figure out who you are and where you fit in. High school had you still under the control of your parents for the most part, although I’ve seen some horror stories of parents continuing their reign into college. College gives you a degree which is amazing in itself, but almost as important is how you react to such an increase in freedom.

You wanna drink at 3 AM in your bathroom? In college that’s a typical Wednesday night. Wanna drive a state over to drop acid at some concert? No one is gonna stop you. The sudden shift from subservience to almost complete freedom (within legal confines of course) is yours. Some people feel almost no difference. More of the same for them. Others can’t function. They have been told what to do and why for years and now these fledgling adults were expected to do laundry and homework without someone telling them to do so.

Is it really that simple or is it one of those Hollywood moments? You come in a piece of clay. You exit molded by your experiences and understand exactly what you want to do in life. Some kids just want that dream career or the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a degree. Others just want to find people to make memories with, through video games, clubs, or alcohol. How many ways can you really find yourself though?

I have no clue who I am. Quite frankly I know even less about myself than before and only have one year left to go. I’ve hung out with the partiers, the stoners, the athletes, the nerds, the loners, the weird kids, whatever. The list goes on and on. If there is a cliche for a type of person, I’ve hung out with them. From all of that I found that I have no idea who I fit in with best. There are ups and downs with how each of them handle themselves and it seems so clear-cut from their perspective. For me I was none of those. I was just a wanderer. I enjoyed being with these groups, yet that’s it. Being with them is different than being them.

I get it. Woes is me. The tragic tale of the guy who doesn’t have a place. How horrible it must be to fit in with almost anyone (though I’m not that good at that still trust me). I surely can’t be the only one right? I’m not worried I’ll never find my purpose in college. It’s just a strange realization to be having. Am I missing something? Probably. There was definitely a lecture that explained how to determine who you were in college and I was taking a dump somewhere else at the time.

Maybe the point of college is to show you that you’re never just one thing. Or at least that’s what I’ll use to justify my situation. I mean there is still time for me to figure out who I am, but clearly I’m not looking in the right places.

Maybe my spirit animal got run over by a car on its way to my college.

The Importance of Planning Ahead

Growing up, I was decent at school. I had above average grades, but I mucked about like any of my friends. From a distance it would be difficult to understand why I was so much better with my grades compared to my “under-performing” peers. Do I think I was smarter than them? No, not really. After all, I once tried breaking up a random fight I had not dog in. I’m probably on the dumber side of the population if anything.

What I did do well was plan. I was extremely rigid about it as well. If I missed even 5 minutes of studying, I’d remove my break time and study more. Punctuality was a consequence of my planning, nothing more. Every semester I’d plan my day down to 15 minutes and barely enough flexibility to keep me sane. Whenever I got a new class or job, I’d throw out my old schedule and make something completely different. Deviation from the schedule was intolerable, but there were instances of me doing so without my consent. However, I did everything in my power to avoid such horrible tragedies. One of my most embarrassing secrets is that I did a fairly good job of studying other people’s tendencies and schedules and factored that into my own. “No I can’t go get food at 6 because I’ll see Tom on the way and I’ll have to listen to him for hours”. In a perfect world, everything would have been like I was one of those super villains watching the hero beat up their thugs and saying, “It’s all going according to plan”.

Now the most obvious reason for why I planned so much was because of my household, but that was not the case in the slightest. My parents were not helicopter parents, they never asked about them. They were always impressed when they’d see my grades at the end of the year and how I managed to do anything else in the meantime. Deep-down the planning obsession was all mine. It was not healthy.

Why did I start or care about schedules so much? I can’t be certain, but it’s probably the control. Life is a bunch of random event occurring one after another. Each day has new problems along with older ones that still linger. Planning gave me that cathartic release from the stress of my life. Frankly there was not that much happening in my life at any one given moment, but that single ounce of stress made me want a life completely filled with.

The schedule became worse than the stress than the stress being mitigated. Missing one study period to hang out with friends sent me into a frenzy all-nighter to recover. I was always checking my phone to make sure I did not miss my 5 PM break-time. Yup, I reached the point where missing my time intended for relaxing was stressing me out. Don’t get me wrong, I stuck to the schedule probably around 90% of the time. However, I forgot to factor in two things.

First I’m human. Sometimes it would take me 32 minutes to learn something even though I only allocated 30 minutes. Spotting a random guy at the gym added 5 minutes to my workout time and I cursed him out the entire drive back in my car. Also, always doing the same things at certain times really grinds you down eventually. No one likes being in a rut, but the schedule made the rut. How could I plan to not be in a rut, when planning was what threw me in it to begin with? The mind needs to be stimulated and after a while it’ll figure out your everyday patterns.

The second was that life has too many variations. How could I possibly know that my grandparents were moving in the summer and therefore need me to help move their stuff instead of working more hours at my summer job? How could I have known that the girl living in the dorm suite next to me was going to have an emotional collapse and need at least 3 people to help her through it? The schedule did not always have the answers. It could account for the mundane stuff, but outliers completely screwed it up.

Schedules are good in determining what you know you need to get done and figuring out how much time you have to do it. However, they shouldn’t become your personal Bible. I still make schedules, but now I place much more flexible hours to allow for unexpected events. If I miss some time for studying, well I guess I’ll just have to study harder later.

Maybe I shouldn’t be having these thoughts right before finals though…

How Smart Are You?

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There are a million different ways to measure intelligence. People often think of academic intelligence, the classic nerd that we see in the movies. No doubt some of the most intelligent people in the world are a part of academia, but there are other ways to be smart. It’s usually the non-academics that say that kinda stuff, ” I may not be book smart, but I’m street smart”. Not the best way to say that you’re no good at school, but there is some truth behind it. There is no doubt that excelling at academics is one of the most notable types of ways to show your intelligence, but there are some other types of smart out there.

You got your emotionally smart people. These ones are some of the most dangerous because not only can they read people, they can manipulate them. They can be some of the hardest to find, but when you spot one its best to keep an eye on them. I’ve only spotted five or six in the wild, but man can they work a room. No matter how academic someone is, there is always the danger that their emotions take over. Sadness can make a person do something they would never do in a heartbeat like some new heavy drugs or even suicide.

Intensely rational/logical people are often lumped in with the academics. They may not come into a problem knowing how to solve them, but give them the time they will fix it. Its the application of knowledge that certain people excel at. Old people usually fall into this category since they’ve seen the same shit going on for years. Problems seem to follow patterns and even though they may not always have a full deck of cards never underestimate an old person.

The social smarts is something that entirely escapes me. Some people may not know they are even doing it, but working a room is nothing to them, It irks me when I meet people like this because they make it seem so effortless meanwhile I can barely string together a sentence. Some of the more nefarious ones will know exactly what to whisper into their boss’ ear to get a promotion and manipulate others to get their own agenda through.

Then there’s the philosophers, or the “life smarts” as I call it. Some people just have life figured out and there isn’t a curveball life could possibly throw at them that would take them by surprise. Its usually pretty closely tied to the wise/rational, but there’s a distinction. Life smarts people will often only think about stuff in the largest picture. They zoom out enough in perspective and give a better view of consequence associated with the problem at hand. They’ll see the perspective that you couldn’t and are often the extremely optimistic and pessimistic people. After all everyone thinks they’re a realist.

One can’t forget the creative smarts people. If you give them a blank piece of paper and an hour, they’ll give you back something worth a couple thousands dollars. Painting, writing, singing, whatever. Some people were born to create something larger than a single person could ever hope to become. I feel like this is one of the more underappreciated smarts by those who aren’t as gifted (not that I’m creative in anyway). There is a difference between color on a canvas and a painting and it is up to the artist to do so.

I’m sure there are plenty more types of intelligence. Everyone is at least predisposed to one of these types, despite what others may say or think. It can take time to figure out what exactly you are good at. However, there are some people who just seem all-around smarter than you and its horrifying. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve met people smarter than me in the traditional sense, but I rarely feel like there is someone who is smarter than me in every facet.

Those are the people that intrigue me the most. It may not seem like much at the time, but if you come in to contact with someone like that keep an eye on them. Its a sobering experience. What will they do with their clear superiority over me? Are they simply just toying with me?

I met a girl in college like that. On the surface she seemed normal. Nice, pretty, and social. There was no indication at the time when I first met her, but there were hints. She seemed to just luck her way into whatever. Good grades, plenty of friends, and she had to constantly reject guys from asking her out. She was the perfect storm. The scariest part though was that I didn’t even notice. I guess I’m just too dumb, but she knew how to manipulate everyone and do so in secret. In every area she excelled and all I could do was try to figure out how she did it after the fact. The worst part was that she masked it so well. To most people she was just a pretty face, but retracing what she said and how she acted it was clear that she had ulterior motives. Yet it seemed so natural for her. At first meeting her she seemed like a typical ditzy girl, which is exactly what she wants.

Maybe in another post I’ll go into, but at some point you have to sit back and marvel at the prospect. You ever see those anime moments where the hero’s friends see the hero/villain’s power and go, ” His power is unreal. How is something like that even possible?” It’s like that but with intelligence. How are there people like that in this world? They must be seeing the everything in a whole different way. Are we all just pawns to them? Are there people out there that even outclass them?

It’s humbling and terrifying all in one. I’m gonna keep my eye on her from here out and try to keep up. Maybe I’ll learn a thing or two.

Everyone is smart in their own way. How they use it may not be apparent at first. Who knows exactly how smart anyone else is. You can only gauge them in relation to yourself and its impossible to know if its their real selves you’re seeing.

You can never truly know if you’re getting played, all you can do is a keep a look out.

College Love Tragedy

College is a strange time for people. Some people are figuring out how to be adults. Most haven’t even started worrying about it. Certain kids I saw on campus looked like they were fresh out of a middle school, while others were already bald (I still think about that guy).

I’ve never seen such a mix of people in one area before and the amount of dumb shit that resulted from it is astounding. Whoever thought it was a good idea to group thousands of young adults in a small area should be forced to live with them for a year. I never knew how dumb people could be until I lived on-campus and I worked in retail. My freshman hall went through at least 3 microwaves at the expense of finding out what happens when you let metal get hit by magnets or whatever the hell makes microwaves work.

I have plenty of stories about college, but only one captured the essence of love in a single night.

For background, I lived in a hall with suites; basically a common room and bathroom with four rooms connected to them. I lived with some athletes, stoners, and a really strange kid. However, the stars of this short tale are not us, but the room across from us.

707.

Room 707 was a girls suite and housed 8 girls who all had a variation of “Taylor” for names. It was spooky. I don’t think any of them were named Taylor, rather names like Taylah and Tally. When they introduced themselves to our suite, I just assumed there had been one girl named Taylor in the room that had control over them all, but that was just a theory.

Anyways, these girls were fairly…recyclable. Not quite trashy, but from a distance its hard to tell the difference. Loud, drunk, they garnered a lot of attention from other guys. None of the trashiness mattered as long as they were willing to date/screw guys. The college that I went to had an extremely poor guy to girl ratio, so finding a group of girls was difficult enough. Just being a girl and conscious made you at least a 7 at our school.  It was rumored that we were an all-guy school with a couple of cross -dressing students. I have never seen an almost all guy yoga class before, but the disappointment combined with testosterone was palpable.

So a poor girl to guy ratio combined with a room full of recyclable girls, its like a perfect storm of drama.

Among the Taylor ranks, one rose above the rest over time. I’ll call her Taylor because I cannot remember what her real one was. Taylor was fairly cute and extremely social. She barged into my suite on the first day to talk everyone up and personally invite her whole suite to ours. At the party she was all over everyone yet had a vibe of just friendliness at the same time. I don’t think I had ever met a blackout drunk that was so accommodating and friendly. They usually just say that they’re too drunk and pass out in our trashcan.

Anyways Taylor garnered a lot of attention that night along with the rest of the Taylor squad.

Every weekend after, gentleman callers would slip into the suite at various times of the day. I’m talking like 5-8 a day. Our suite would call out which lady he was whispering poetry and propose dowries for their hands. It became a game.

“Hey jack-o-lantern head is back again for Tay-tay no doubt.”

“Nah man I heard he’s with Tyalor (sic) now”

We were in no way trying to shame them, but man was it a drama fest. I have seen more fights occurring in that hallway between 707 and our room than I’ve seen in a Pay Per View Special. A couple times the fight would spill into our room and I can assure you that restraining a 6 foot 4 football player with a blood alcohol content of 1.00 is difficult when you’re fresh out of the shower.

Taylor ruled over the rest of them though and accepted nearly every challenger.

That one Taylor was essentially the Helen of Troy to the campus. The wars with the victor stumbling into her room to receive their prize. It was a weekly event.However there was one night that was different.

One of my roommates was on lookout, ready to call if any drama was about to unfold, and suddenly noticed an unfamiliar face.

He called from the door, “How often does a ginger kid with an under-bite come by?”

My mind instantly raced with a sea of faces, but none quite matched. He didn’t seem like someone who frequented the 707 girls.

“Oh God he brought flowers what the hell.”

Everyone within earshot in our suite rushed to the door, peaking through any crevice we could see through. Our giggling was only stifled by our curiosity.

When I managed to sneak a peek at him, I recognized him and horror began to fill my chest. I knew him. He was a kid in my Actuarial Math class. I’ll just say that kids in those classes were not exactly studs, myself included. He was so out of his league he was in a different sport. He was so out of place he was in orbit. He was so not supposed to be there that he shouldn’t have been there.

I later learned that he had been in a group project with her and her constant flirting was taken the wrong way. No one knows how he found out where she lived. He was pacing back and forth, doing some last second integrals to check his chances.

To everyone’s horror/humor, a basketball player shoved him aside and went into 707’s suite. The contrast between athlete and actuary was staggering. These were two people who did not even acknowledge each other’s existence in college.

We could see him rethinking his plans, fighting with his doubts. I could gauge what he was thinking pretty well.

“That guy was going to see a different girl in the suite. Taylor is different. She likes me.”

That poor man.

After about five minutes, he did it.

Without so much as a knock, he went in. I could not see what was happening, but I could hear yelling and screaming almost immediately. The guy had barged in on her and the basketball player practicing the pelvic heimlich maneuver.

He dropped the flower and bolted out. Taylor ran to the door to scream at him and the basketball player chased after him. I have no clue what the two did, but neither came back that night.

Taylor was still butt naked and every one of my roommates could not keep quiet witnessing nature in all its beauty. Her gaze shifted to our door and we bolted to our on rooms within the suite.

We all waited a bit before we heard her door close and I slowly came back out to check if anything else would happen. I was surprised to see that the basketball player never returned, but a new challenger, a lacrosse player came in nearly 20 minutes later to, I can only extrapolate here, finish what the basketball player had started.

I don’t know what lesson I should have learned from this situation. College love does not exist. Yet at the same time, the confidence and determination of the Math Man were commendable. In the end, it was the man who waited who got the prize, not the romantic or the first-comer (ha).

College is weird.

Everyone Hates Dentists

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One of the most relatable childhood problems was a dislike for the dentist. There was a weird smelling waiting room with other people who did not want to be there. Sitting there was never laughing or playing, just a somber silence with the occasional sound of drilling or metal scraping teeth.The smell has a faint doctor’s office feel, yet there is something more pungent with all the spit and open mouths that makes it worse. Cartoons tend to exaggerate every aspect of one’s childhood, but even as a young adult the dislike is still there.

No fully functioning adult goes to the dentist voluntarily. “I’d love to go to the movies this weekend, but I got this sweet dental appointment that day”. If you’re healthy, there should not be a force on this earth to prevent you from not going. Except one’s mother of course.

Maybe its the pain associated with it. Having hooks scrape your teeth and gums for what seems like hours is not good for one psyche. Having to remain motionless as a complete stranger goes to town on your mouth, the only stimulation being some weird motivational poster with zebras on it on the ceiling. I have been going to the same dentist for 15 years and I still have not deciphered its meaning. Perhaps its a message from past patients who could not bear the process and bled to death from their gums.

The atmosphere sucks. The process itself hurts and sucks. But NOTHING compares to immediate feeling after the cleaning is done.

Whenever I go to the dentist I try to stay positive with the dentist. I talk about what has been happening in college, ask them about their kids, just trying to make the situation as bearable as possible. In a few minutes that person is going to be knuckles deep in your mouth with metal objects, it’s wise to keep them on your side.

I’ve always been the kinda guy who tries to keep as healthy as possible, teeth included. I floss everyday, I brush twice a day, and I brush for the full two minutes with an electric toothbrush. I only forget to brush like once a week. I’m the ideal dental patient. Dental colleges (are those a thing) should be paying me to be a model or something. Every time I go into the dentist chair I’m confident that this will be the time that they find no real problems with my mouth. I’ve finally overcame that hump. I’m no longer a disgusting heathen, brushing his teeth with sugar and Sprite.

But even if the appointment is quick, the dentist’s composure hides the truth. Before it begins, they’re talkative with me, smiling and asking questions. We’re best friends. Then they have work on my mouth. It changes them. The dentist won’t even look me in the eyes. They lost a little bit of their humanity by working on my mouth. I’m pretty sure they schedule my appointments so the dentist who works on me can go home, take a cold shower, and smoke a couple cigarettes. I change dentists or something. This horrible environment is nothing compared to the monster I am in their eyes.

I swear I do everything they tell me to, but I’ll always have a disgusting mouth. Whatever. I hate dentists. I just won’t tell that to their faces.

The Big Little League (part 1)

In my town there was nothing to do. That sentiment was not only from rebellious teenagers. Even the kids and adults felt that way about our town. The community heads tried their best. They sponsored new events that always ended with rain and the same people showing up. We as a collective town had nothing. The only slight joy the town provided was the park in the middle of town,and in the middle of the park, the baseball fields.
For whatever reason, the fields were nicer than the middle and high school fields. The town’s little league program was nowhere near the best in the state let alone the country, but man did everyone care about it. Adults coming home from work would sometimes swing by to say hi to their friends and cheer on a bunch of middle school children play baseball. To make it in my town’s league made you a pseudo-celebrity for a year or two. Kids younger than you would look up to you like a hero and adults that did not even have a kid in the league would pick up a team to support. Friday was a day to come together as a town and enjoy baseball on a fundamental level.
Everyone knew about it. Watching “the game” wasn’t our high school football team, but the little league ones. Teenagers and parents would come to watch their little kids play. Other adults would come to socialize, eat some under-cooked hot dogs, and drink enough to still be able to drive home. Even the senior citizens could would appear; out of breath from their mid-afternoon strolls. They’d plop in a seat to record the kids statistics and enjoy the next generation.
I never felt too attached to my town, but those years of baseball helped me appreciate the togetherness the town had when it came to the league. The crowd that gathered to cheer for their arbitrarily chosen team. The warm evening air that became a cool breeze as night approached and the lights turned on to illuminate players and mosquitoes alike.
Baseball was king in my town. Every boy dreamt of playing in the Major League. Not the MLB no. The oldest group the league had to offer was made up of sixth and seventh graders (though I can’t remember every detail). I just remember it was in middle school.). Even in kindergarten, the boys would be fantasizing over becoming the best the league had seen and get the celebrity status that came with it. If you were one of the pillar players for a team, you were immediately popular. Older kids would high-five you. Adults would compliment you in the streets. Homeless people would give you change. Being among the elite came with its own prestige and risks as well. You were expected to be the best in every aspect.
There was a mystique among the pillars. They were the players that had superpowers when they stepped onto the field. Coaches would have to prepare strategies around countering them. Every team had at least one and in rare instances more. If asked any player who the pillars were for that year, they’d rattle off every single one along with what made them a pillar.
It was a privilege to be in the league. It was an honor to be a pillar.
See not everyone made it into the league. The popularity of it in the town had made it so almost every sixth and seventh grader wanted to play. There were set tryouts, something unheard of at that level. On a cold early spring morning, sixth graders and the occasional seventh grader would spend a grueling 6 hours being test and analyzed. There was more running in that one day than the rest of the season combined. Fielding,batting,pitching,base-running. They were all drilled, then a small break followed by going through it again. At the end of the day, the coaches would draft their teams in private. The release of the team rosters would be out by the end of week, stapled to the side of the snack shack in the center of all three of the baseball fields. Over the course of the weekend, adults would take their children down to the fields. They would get tosee either their dreams come to fruition or get stomped down by a single piece of paper.
There were always plenty of tears.
When my class became sixth graders, the first day of school was not filled with talks about teachers, or summer activities. Who gave a crap about some old farts, the real magic was the Majors tryouts. They were in the Spring, but even in the Fall, everyone was trying to figure out who was going to be on what team. The only other time I had ever witness so many kids in my class talking about a singular topic was when a kid poured some hand sanitizer in a teacher’s coffee.
I was not one of those people.
I played baseball since the earliest possible age, but I was one of the worst players in the league. I knew it, the other kids knew it, my Dad knew it. Baseball was the first thing I’d talk about with people I met. I loved the stats, the lore, the culture, but when it came to using the bat to hit the ball, I failed each and every time. The tee-ball stand almost threw a no-hitter against me. Whatever team I was on was a stinker, blowing game after game. I don’t think any of them even made it to .500.
I was moping about what I would do with all of my free time this Spring. There was no way I made a team, unless the coaches were blind, deaf, and did not know the rules of baseball. In that scenario my chances were still not the best.
In the lower leagues, I’d always beg my Dad to stay to watch “the Majors” games. I fantasized over leading my team to a championship and being a pillar. Pillars were popular, confident, and had superpowers when they stepped onto the field. The pillar I that I idolized the most was nicknamed “Sky”. Every single ball he hit arced high and always managed to drop out of outfielders’ reach. Anytime the Reds played, I went down to the park to see him in action.

Some kids looked up to Superman, but I looked up to a kid that would go on to work at a local gas station…

While going over my plans of becoming a gas station attendant, someone grabbed me by the shoulders and shook me. It was Matt, one of my oldest friends.

“You pumped for the Majors?”, Matt said grinning from ear to ear. He was always way too positive off the field, but once he got on the field he was more business than a Japanese CEO.

“It’ll be weird watchin’ from the sidelines”, I replied without looking up.

“Oh come-on, tryouts haven’t even started and you think you’re already cut.”

I looked up from my desk, “It’s a little bit different for kids who aren’t locked for a spot.”

Matt was the son of one of the coaches, the Tigers. The sons of coaches automatically made the league and almost all of them were pillars the year they got in. He was one of the fastest pitchers in our class and hitting was already second-nature to him.

Everything was coming up Matt and his Majors career hadn’t even begun.

Matt looked hurt. He sat down next to me with a large sigh, saying, ” I can think of at least 5 kids worse than you no doubt.”

“That’s a lie and you know it.”

Matt shrugged,” Who knows maybe my dad picks you so we can witness your destruction of the league”.

At that moment, my mind raced to being one of the pillars with my first friend and dominating the league. Looking back now, that was a load of cow manure for plenty of reasons. Matt was not only destined to be a pillar from the start, but he was put on one of the top teams too. Though the turnover of coaches was biennial by nature, cultures of teams were carried down as a form of adding more variety and tradition. The annual contenders were the Tigers, Athletics, and Rockies. Those three of the eight were always the best, placing victory above all else in their cultures with slight variations. All teams wanted to win, but only those three were successful. They attracted the most competitive coaches, who in turn drafted the best kids, and continued the dominance. When you fantasized about being in the league, it was wearing one of those colors.

I was still in my daze of glory when class began, and my off season preparations began.