So, About 2012…

Pat Hughes

I was going to do some kind of reflective, year-end post about 2012, but I’ll be honest…I don’t really feel like it.

Most of it was pretty boring. I did boring, routine things. I struggled to pay my bills, used up a big part of my savings, felt like a complete failure, failed to meet many of the writing goals, and totally lacked any kind of success on the professional front (and most of the personal front, too). Really nothing to get into or write the Internet about.

But I did rarely have the occasion to do some cool things. I went to Cubs Con and Casino Night. I saw the Cubs lose their 100th game of the season, but Pat Hughes waved at me and that totally kills any of that pain. Let me repeat that. Pat Hughes waved at me.

I was able to hang out with friends I hadn’t seen in a long time (Hi, Becca!) and I met some really cool people, too (Hi, Harry!). I reconnected via social media with some people I haven’t seen in ages (Hi, Josh!) and I met some really cool people that way, too (Hi, everybody!).

I found out just what I’d do to try to make a life and a career my way and just how frustrating and hard that can be (and just how frustrating and hard I can be, too).

I changed a little, grew a little. It wasn’t all fantastic and glamorous. Most of it wasn’t. But it wasn’t an absolute waste either.

2012 was okay. And it’s a good thing I went through it because I have a feeling that 2013 won’t be much different.

I’m ready.

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Goodbye, Kerry

After a few days of thinking about it, I feel like I can put my feelings and thoughts into a coherent form without it sounding like nothing but sappy, saccharine drivel. Nothing screws up my Friday like finding out one of my boys is retiring.

A few weeks after Kerry Wood threw his twenty strikeout game against the Astros, I graduated high school. That was 14 years ago and in that time, the two of us have changed quite a bit. He went from starter to closer to setup man. He went from young phenom to a guy that fans called broken down and useless. He went from a chubby teenager to a grown man, a husband and daddy at that. I went from college student to dropout to student to dropout to student to dropout. I worked in retail, banking, and professional wrestling. I went from only seeing one game ever at Wrigley Field to making a point of going to the opening and closing homestands. I went from fat, single girl to…well, still fat and single, but a little more of a woman.

Really, the only thing Kerry Wood and I have in common is the number of times we’ve ended up on the DL.

But it still feels like we’ve grown up together in a sense, which is a stupid thought, but the only way I can explain it without mucking up the works. So his retirement strikes a chord with me. Just a couple of weeks before, at Casino Night, I told Harry that Kerry Wood was my guy. That so long as he played, then I wasn’t old. That night, just a couple of day or two after he chucked his glove into the stands after a frustrating outing, he was one of the last players to leave Casino Night, talking and taking pictures, a smile on his face. It was encouraging to me that despite the struggles he was having this season, he was still smiling.

Now maybe I know why.

As much as it saddens me to see Kerry Wood retire, his final appearance on the mound couldn’t have been happened any better. Ending his career as it began, with a strikeout, was beautiful. His son Justin running from the dugout to hug him as he left the mound brought tears to my eyes. His press conference the next day, all of his thank you’s, was another example of class (I got the tears again when he thanked Lester Strode because Lester is so often overlooked). I’d always hoped that when Kerry Wood left (and therefore left me to be officially old in baseball years) that it would be on a high note.

Really, I don’t think this note could have been any higher.

I wrote last week that Kerry Wood was veteran and a pro and that he would find a way to help his team. When I wrote that, I wasn’t thinking about retirement. But I guess he was. I guess this was the way he felt he could help them best.

I’ll miss you in pinstripes, Kerry. But I’m glad you’re a Cubs lifer.

I guess that’s one more thing we’ve got in common.

Casino Night 2012 Pictures

Between Harry and me, we only got a handful of pictures to share. I’ll be honest, I didn’t whip out my phone until the end of the night and the three pictures I managed to capture reflect that.

Honestly, I need a professional photographer to accompany me to these sorts of things because I am terrible.

Also, it’s easy to tell the difference between Harry’s pictures and mine. Harry’s are the good ones. I also thanked him in every caption.

Harry and I at Casino Night taken by a professional photographer who may or may not have been riding the biggest sugar high ever.
Bryan LaHair dealing (thanks Harry!).
Ian Stewart dealing (thanks, Harry!).
Carlos Marmol. I’m resisting the urge to make a joke about a line forming for the Marmol Coaster. (I didn’t resist hard.) (Thanks, Harry!)
Theo Epstein talking to Dale Sveum. (Thanks, Harry!)
Crystal Bowersox performing.
Somewhere in there is Paul Maholm, Chris Volstad, and James Russell.
That tall guy on the right is Chris Volstad.
That bald guy on the left is Paul Maholm.
David DeJesus and his lovely wife Kim (with cameos by Sarah Spain and Theo Epstein). (Thanks, Harry!)

Casino Night

Wednesday night, by virtue of the fine people at Wrigleyville Magazine, I and my friend Harry attended The Dempster Family Foundation Casino Night. It’s a fundraiser to help raise money to help those with 22q disorder, a chromosomal disorder. It’s very classy, very expensive, and very fun.

The first hour was the VIP experience where we got to mingle with the players, past and present, and other athletes and local celebs. I admit that I did more people watching than mingling. I’m not a good mingler anyway, but put me in that situation and I was a little overwhelmed. It’s an interesting experience to be waiting in line at the bar with Bryan LaHair or have to scootch past Matt Garza or Dale Sveum to get somewhere. Just surreal. And a little intimidating when the players would group together for conversation. It’s daunting for a not good mingler to approach that.

We moved to the gaming room at 7 where the players and others worked the tables. There was also an auction, a silent auction, and a raffle. Since Harry and I knew we wouldn’t be able to participate in the big stuff (there were things that sold at the auction for 20 grand), we each bought mystery bags. We also got little goodie bags as we left the VIP room with a t-shirt and shot glass.

John Vincent and Crystal Bowersox both performed sets. I never head Crystal Bowersox before and I have to say, I quite enjoyed her.

Theo Epstein was a hit at the blackjack table as he would intentionally bust his hand at times by pulling a card, then throwing it away. Ian Stewart’s table seemed pretty popular, too. Harry and I played at a less popular table and our dealer, a lovely woman, was a tough one! But we still managed to leave the table winners, always managing to come back from the brink of bust.

We were two of the stragglers reluctant to clear out at the end of the night. I was pretty impressed with the guys that stayed the whole time. Chris Volstad, Paul Maholm, James Russell, Darwin Barney, Kerry Wood, even Theo Epstein were still around after the lights came on (obviously, Ryan Dempster was still around).

It was a great night for a great cause and I know I’m not doing it any justice (I’m writing this on four hours sleep and a three hour drive).

Just take my word for it. I’m thrilled to have experienced it.