Baseball, Steve Jobs, and Starbucks

It’s 12:45 on a Thursday afternoon, and I have found myself situated in a Starbucks, no, the Starbucks, where all my “creative genius” was spawned all those years ago.  I didn’t plan on coming here.  Well, that’s not entirely true.  I intended on going somewhere that offered free Wi-Fi, and this was the first spot I found with a free chair.  There was a time when I thought nothing of sitting here for hours on end, discussing the most random of topics with my best friend.  He has since moved to the other side of the country (although temporarily, as he is in school) and I moved far enough away that coming here was more effort than I was willing to put in.  There are Starbucks closer to my apartment, however the first one I visited offered nowhere to sit.  I was worried the same would be true when I arrived here, but I found myself a small circular little table just big enough for my laptop, so here I sit, Jack Johnson playing through my iTunes as I try to drown out the noise of the other patrons spending their lunch break or whatever sipping a latte and feeling important.

Speaking of iTunes, I thought it appropriate to mention the death of Apple founder Steve Jobs.  I see everyone else is doing the same, so why not me?  The fact is, I knew nothing of Steve Jobs outside of his company.  That being said, I still felt a bit of sadness when I learned the news of his death last night.  While I don’t suppose anyone’s death, or life for that matter should be valued more than anothers, no one can deny the fact that through his inovation the world as we know it is considerably different than it was prior to his existence.  I suppose you can argue that his inventions, although incredibly cool, did not necessarily change the path of human evolution, however, through many of his entertaining ideas, the ways in which humanity communicates and connects with one another has changed dramatically.

I bought my first computer, one of the original iMacs probably ten years ago.  I fell in love with it instantly.  Sure, at the time, any computer hitting the market was internet ready and so forth, but something about the silly colors and funny sounds it emited made technology feel just a little more accesible to the average man.  It wasn’t until a little later that I truly became enamored with Apple, the first time I got my hands on an iPod.  Suddenly, every song I could think of was stuffed inside this little package, no bigger than a pack of cigarettes that I could carry along with me anywhere.  Music is how we identify ourselves from age 12-25, and this little box effectively represented who I was.  No longer did I have to cart around a briefcase of CDs and limit myself to the 12 tracks that filled one CD at a time.  I loved driving around with my iPod.  I typically left it playing on its Shuffle feature, pleasantly surprising myself with reminders of my past, songs that could lift my spirits, remind me of the harder times in my life, or infuse my heart with a shot of adrenaline as Bon Jovi pumped through my speakers.  I laughed, I bobbed my heat (I never dance) and I even choked back tears upon hearing certain tracks.  I don’t carry my iPod around now as much as I used to.  My car rides are shorter and I don’t like leaving in my car, but I still have it, and when I go for a walk at night, it is always with me.

I don’t have an iPhone or an iPad, and I doubt I ever will.  (Ok, never say never) I do, however, appreciate the impact these devices have had on society.  Instant communication, for better or worse, did not exist ten years ago.  Would Facebook still be here without Steve Jobs?  Probably.  Google?  Certainly, but let’s face it, Steve Jobs put the “cool” in our society of technology.  People complain about technology.  I complain about technology.  Are there bad things about the advancements we have made?  Of course.  Have we lost something by surrenduring our privacy to Facebook, Google and an iPhone?  Undoubtedly, but can anyone deny that the advancements we have made thanks to these inventions?  I don’t think so.

I don’t know anything about Steve Jobs outside of Apple Computers.  He still changed my life.

Speaking of life changing events, I suppose I should talk about baseball, as it is in the title of this entry.  This is another topic I debated discussing for some time.  I’m here though, with nowhere to go at the moment, so why not talk baseball?  Tonight, the Yankees take on the Detroit Tigers in Game 5 of the Divisional Series.  This is another change that took place in the course of my life.  When I was born, baseball had two sets of playoffs and had never used the term wildcard to describe anything but an unpredictable pitcher.  Today, we have the Wildcard race and the threat of more playoffs in the coming seasons.  While I enjoy the thrill of a playoff series, I find the changes being made to baseball, although inevitable, hard to accept.  Now let me first say this.  As an impressionable youth, I latched on to that belief that somehow sports matter and winning and losing was worth fighting over.  Today I see that there are more important things than who throws the most touchdowns, buries the most three pointers, or hits for the cycle.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy a good game, whatever the sport.  It just means that if the Yankees lose tonight, my life will continue tomorrow morning.  I won’t be able to call out sick from work or receive any kind of benefits from the loss.  It’s a game.

With that being said, there is something about baseball.  When I was younger, there was a mystique that surrounded baseball.  Perhaps this mystique only existed because our father’s and grandfather’s insisted upon it, but somehow I came to view baseball as both a sport and something that brought people together.  If you’ve ever had the opportunity to watch Ken Burns’ documentary, Baseball, you may agree with me.  If you haven’t seen it, give it a chance.  Yes, at the end of the day, the number of pitches, balls, strikes, etc., are meaningless, but somehow baseball finds a way to creep into our lives and remind us of a simpler time.  Baseball is a lazy mans game.  Those that excel make it look effortless, as it should be.  Catching fly balls should not be hard.  Hitting one in the gap should come naturally to all of us.  When I was a kid, the Yankees won, the Red Sox lost, and Bob Sheppard was the only voice of God I ever heard.  It’s very possible that if 2003 was the peak of my baseball enjoyment, 2004 was the end of innocence.  In 2003, after fighting the Red Sox all season long, the Wild Card Playoffs brought them together for one final battle, and battle they would, swinging for the fences right until the bitter end.  In an ending fit for a movie, Aaron Boone, a relatively mediocre player stepped to the plate in extra innings and launched a shot into the left field stands of Yankee Stadium sending the Yankees back to the World Series where they belonged and the Red Sox home for the winter, where they too belonged.  For a time, all was right in the world.  Then 2004 came.  Inexplicably, the Red Sox won.  It was unheard of, and it crushed my love for the game.  It was still a game, it was still fun to watch, but the mystique died for me that season.  If the Red Sox could win, well, no one was invincible anymore.  In the coming years, it became evident that the Yankees were not super heroes, just men who swung the bat better than most.  Bob Sheppard past away, the House That Ruth Built was brought down and the truth that all sports are just that, sports, began to sink in.  Derek Jeter was a kid when I really started following the game.  In the next two or three years, Derek Jeter will retire.  How did this happen?  Athletes don’t age, do they?  Apparently, yes.  I’ll still cheer them on tonight.  I’ll still claim to hate the Red Sox, but I’ll do it with less enthusiasm.  If the day comes that I have a son of my own, will I be able to instill that mystique into his life?

I’ve now been here an hour at Starbucks.  Jack Johnson is still playing.  I have nowhere else to be, but should I stay here or head home?  I decided to use the bathroom, buying me at least another hour here.  I brought a book to read, but haven’t been motivated to pick it up yet.  In the back of my twisted mind, I always hope some random person (female, age 25-35, 5’3″, 120 lbs, brunnete, college educated, bilingual) will come over and strike up a conversation with me.  “Oh, what are you writing/reading/listening to?”  So far, it’s never happened.  I often wonder if the best writers are the quietest people.  I argue back and forth with myself as to whether or not I really want to find that “special someone” or if I am just better off remaining single.  Certainly, if the urge was that strong to be with someone, I imagine I would be, so it tells me maybe I am happy on my own, but being thirty makes me see that if I do want to be with someone, I better get a move on.  It seems acceptable for old men to marry women drastically younger than them, but I don’t thnk that’s the course I want to take.  I would like to find someone relatively close to my age who shares the same basic ideas and philosophies on life.  I suppose in order to do this, I should make myself visible to that portion of the population.  As it is, I doubt I will come home some afternoon and find a women waiting for me in the kitchen.  Sometimes I look at my Thursday afternoons as opportunities to find that love of my life.  I mean, think about it.  I have two days off, Thursday and Saturday.  Saturday will only find couples strolling through the malls or grocery stores.  Thursday offers me the chance to find a single woman who may be banking on her lunch break, stopping for a coffee on her way to the gym (ok, people who drink coffee on the way to the gym do bother me a bit, but I can’t afford to be picky anymore) or or possibly seeking her soul mate.  (Switched to Dave Matthews Band…why not go back to my youth a little more?)  People say the grocery store or the waiting line at the bank are two great spots to meet women, but I tend to use the self checkout and I only bank at the ATM.  I think I subconciously try to sabotage my own life.  There is a cute girl/woman working behind the counter here at Starbucks.  I’ve seen her before, but fear she may be just a year or two young to fall into my age range.  I have to be careful, as if i go after someone too young I will be forced into the trap of having to date someone, versus having an adult relationship.  Let me clarify.  Dating is for 21-29 year olds.  After that, you can have a realtionship, and I suppose you can still go on dates, but it is different.  Once we reach the 30 year old range (and this can go backwards a bit…say 25-35) there are less preconceived notions of what has to take place in order for a relationship to blossom.  Young people are expected to go to dinner, see a movie, go to a bar, hug the first date, kiss the second, so on and so forth.  I loathe all of that.  That’s not to say I am going to try for more than a hug upon the first date, but that’s just it.  It won’t be a date.  Our intentions will be out in the open.  Thirty year olds want stability.  They aren’t going out to have a one night stand and move on, and even if they were, they would just say so.  I don’t want to have to buy new clothes and go to a restaurant I have never heard of to impress a woman who ultimately wants nothing to do with me.  I’ll take the bar at Chili’s in a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt any day.  If she wants to go home with me, great, but there will be no doubts.

I suppose it better to pack my things and be off.  I should get lunch, another opportunity to spot the love of my life, however unlikely, and I would like to do some of the things I intented on doing this afternoon.  Off we go…..

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~ by James on October 6, 2011.

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