The Long Dark

Most people crave autumn, but August’s finale guts me. Always the heartbreaking close of summer, no matter the weather, always the beginning of the end of baseball season, which is the beginning of the long dark.
-Holly Wendt

Thus begins what I ominously like to call “the long dark”—the vast, vacant space between the last live game you’re able to attend and that gleeful, optimistic day down south where pitchers and catchers report. (It’s just about 136 days, if you’re interested.)

For me, everything in that bleak expanse in-between is waiting—an abyss, a black hole where hope seems so far off. Whenever I lament this end of baseball in such a melodramatic way, someone inevitably says “but the postseason” or “there’s always winter ball,” but for me, it’s always been about the ballpark and my access to it. If I can’t be in it, you can’t convince me there’s something to look forward to.

I’ve never really understood why the ballpark is the one place where I feel the safest, the happiest, and the most like myself. The amazing part is that it doesn’t even matter what ballpark it is—the foreign diamonds found at the end of hasty road trips, the tiny gleeful stadiums of spring training, the neighbourhood parks of intercounty league. Even little leaguers tossing a ball at Christie Pits or drunk friends running the bases in a Toronto park in the dark buoy me. I have some loose theories about justice, and fairness, and community that I throw around when asked, about how it’s the closest I’ve ever been able to come to a religious-style faith, but for the most part the reason for the feeling of calm escapes me, and I refuse to question it.

When I try to unpack my devotion to the church of baseball I actually wonder if it’s better to not write about these things—the sacred, secret places in our lives that keep us whole. Writing is a compulsion, but it’s also a job like any other, and there has to be an escape from it somewhere. Maybe I shouldn’t write about the ballpark in the same way I don’t write about the people who are closest to me, the things I want to keep safe and private. Of course I want to understand what it is about baseball’s sights and smells and sounds that put me so at ease, but maybe it doesn’t matter why. Maybe it just matters that I’ve found something that does.

Baseball is a heartbreaker, and you have to be a bit of a masochist to love it like I do. It is, however, generous enough to give those of us with losing teams a slow transition into the long dark. LM Montgomery’s plucky heroine Anne Shirley said “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers,” and for now I’ll find solace in this final, glorious month—the playoff season and all its generous dramas.

And when winter comes I’ll watch replay montages at my desk while it snows outside, wear a team t-shirt under my scratchy sweater, and set a countdown clock to that hopeful day come spring, when pitchers and catchers report.

(excerpted from from here, because the song remains the same year after year.)

"You want to talk, you’re dying to talk, you need to talk, but you can’t talk to other people. It’s the most repetitive thing in the world. Do you know how repetitive grief is? The same thing; not just every day, every hour. The same thoughts, the same horrors, the same lost feelings, the same cycles over and over. Talk about the interior circuit; you’re endlessly circuiting, and you need to talk about it. You can’t impose that on anyone else other than someone whose profession it is, whose job it is to sit there and listen to you, and help you find a way to do something with it."

Francisco Goldman

"I knew that I couldn’t fall back into the abyss again. I couldn’t fall back into the abyss of loss that ruined my life for five years, and I couldn’t fall back into the self-destructive chaos — the march to the nadir as you say — that defined so much of that summer. I pulled myself out of it. I told myself, I’m not going to let this happen. It’s time to write this thing. I felt like I had finally emerged from the cave of grief, from the solipsism of grief, from the murk of grief. I had finally gotten onto a constructive path. I had finally begun to embrace life again and feel productive, like I was all right and in control of myself. I told myself, I’m going to write my way out of this. I’m going to do it by retracing my steps of the summer of 2012, by mapping my steps, mapping the ways in which I managed to recover myself from grief. And that’s what the first half of the book in so many ways is. It was a celebratory story fought onto a good path. I re-embraced life. I experienced a reawakening."

Francisco Goldman


And that’s when I get it. The worst thing we can possibly do in situations like this is make men feel uncomfortable. Acknowledging the enormity of male violence, the staggering scale of entitlement, would require a change in perspective so massive that it’s easier just to shut up and not talk about it, and isolate anyone who does. We don’t want to hear it.

It can be terribly uncomfortable for men to hear about misogyny, particularly their own. Unfortunately for them, as soon as they start to think and speak about gender they often run into one awful, unshakeable fact: how much men as a whole have hurt women. That means that it’s hugely difficult for men to talk about masculinity without coming to terms with how frightening and aggressive masculinity in its modern form has come to be. It’s frightening. It’s going to hurt.

Here’s what I’d like to say to those men. It’s okay to be afraid. It’s okay not to know what you’re supposed to be, or how you’re supposed to behave. You’re not allowed to question what it means to be a man, or even raise the possibility that there might be a question to ask, because if you did, if anyone did, then we might get answers. We might discover that what we all liked to think of as ‘masculinity’ is in fact a front, that ‘masculinity’ is actually fragile, and vulnerable, and hurting, and nothing more than human.


— Laurie Penny


I started hating every day. I hated seeing the sun rise. I couldn’t put one foot in front of the other and I wanted to put a butcher’s knife into my heart behind my ribs. I was very lonely. I was consumed by grief and sorrow until I was lucky enough to become numb. I thought I could resist by not dying, but that might be too hard and maybe I was too old and too tired and couldn’t do it any more. My body was a curse and had betrayed me. I couldn’t figure out why they would want to do this and why they would want to do it to me.

I couldn’t be consoled. I couldn’t talk to anyone. How could I say the words to the people I loved, most of whom work precisely to stop violence against women: this is what he, someone or they, did to me. Yeah, I know I represent something to you, but really I’m a piece of crap because I just got raped. No, no, you’re not a piece of crap when you get raped, but I am. John looked for any other explanation than rape. He abandoned me emotionally. Now a year has passed and sometimes he’s with me in his heart and sometimes not.


— Andrea Dworkin

"Where I come from, we don’t like losing, It’s a matter of fact. We don’t like that."

Jose Abreu

via csnchicago

(via mightyflynn)


Here’s the thing, a lot of us have been voicing our opinion on how NOT JUST THE NHL but sports as a whole can make moves to make not only women, but fans who are not just white men feel welcome. Making us feel “welcome” is a disgustingly low standard honestly. I would prefer being acknowledged and accepted as an equal rather than begrudgingly tolerated. “Welcoming” is what you do at a get together where there is forced social interactions and instead of being nice and talking to everyone you’re really just glacial and backhanded and dick around on your phone the entire time and whine the wifi is password protected. Believe me, I would know. I recognize my own behaviors.

I’m infuriated because so many have said this in so many ways for years. That article does a disservice to the countless women who have written thoughtful pieces on how hard and complicated it is being a fan of something that honestly doesn’t like you and just sees you as a walking wallet. It doesn’t acknowledge all the women who have logged so many hours writing about hockey and trying to process things passionately even if they don’t have the luxury of a massive reader base. I’m angry because no matter how women have expressed what needs to happen in a variety of tactics, they have been shoved aside and disregarded. It does not matter if I scream from the rooftops or politely hold civil discourse (and use a quiet voice) where I’ve been routinely talked over.


— "How The NHL A Better Job Of Welcoming Women” – said the man, from wrap around curl

(Source: wraparoundcurl.wordpress.com)


Die 4 U



Lana Del Rey’s sound is nostalgia for an old lie

“Darling, you can’t let everything seem so dark blue. Oh, what can I do?”

—“Black Beauty,” Lana Del Rey

The summer I was 16 and cripplingly awkward, my father’s job moved our family from Toronto to the southern U.S. After spending my whole young life in Canada, I started my first day of 10th grade at George Walton High School in East Cobb County, Georgia, and the ensuing culture shock was about as harrowing as you can imagine for an already uneasy teenage girl.

The high school of nearly 2,700 students was primarily white and Baptist, complete with daily prayer around the flagpole, pancake breakfasts for Jesus, and a Friday Night Lights–style football obsession. On game days, fully suited football players brought roses to their assigned cheerleaders, while the girls, clad in their freshly pressed red-white-and-blue uniforms, provided players with baked goods and breakfast sandwiches from Chik-fil-A. The town was famed for a 56-foot-tall steel-sided chicken statue, and for being an early adopter of evolution is just a theory stickers for its science textbooks. In one memorable round of bullying, a few other students decided I was a weirdo and a freak and threw food at me in the cafeteria while gleefully chanting insults.

The only way to suffer through 18 months in the slo-mo sport-movie montage of southern teen culture was to fetishize Americana—protests in Marietta Square and peach pies cooling on windowsills, buttery Waffle House grits and chain-smoked Marlboro Reds with bottomless diner coffee, and the appealing façade of southern hospitality. It was a bright-side approach to darkness, a juvenile fascination with the great American road trip, with drug-fueled binges for the sake of poetry and art, with Hollywood glamour and revolution and the blinking lights of Vegas—a false frontier mentality that made America seem majestic rather than menacing. Deluding myself into survival, I found something to love where there was nothing. And decades later, I’ve found that Lana Del Rey that sounds exactly like that glorious pretense. Her songs, are in essence, nostalgia for an old lie.

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"It is foolish and childish, on the face of it, to affiliate ourselves with anything so insignificant and patently contrived and commercially exploitative as a professional sports team, and the amused superiority and icy scorn that the non-fan directs at the sports nut (I know this look - I know it by heart) is understandable and almost unanswerable. Almost. What is left out of this calculation, it seems to me, is the business of caring — caring deeply and passionately, really caring — which is a capacity or an emotion that has almost gone out of our lives. And so it seems possible that we have come to a time when it no longer matters so much what the caring is about, how frail or foolish is the object of that concern, as long as the feeling itself can be saved. Naivete — the infantile and ignoble joy that sends a grown man or woman dancing and shouting with joy in the middle of the night over the haphazardous flight of a distant ball — seems a small price to pay for such a gift."

— Roger Angell, my heart.