Derek Jeter: My Twin, Sort Of…

Derek Jeter on big board at Yankee StadiumIt’s the day after in my part of the world. The day after what you may be wondering?Well, baseball’s regular season ended yesterday. The end marks another disappointing season for the locals, AKA the Yankees. Yankee fans (Mrs. MMK among them) are not used to the season ending in September as they have been spoiled by long reigns of success.However, this year’s disappointing season hurts even more as it corresponds with the final season of Derek Jeter. To say Derek Jeter is loved around here is an understatement along the lines of, “Those ISIS folks are not good people.”

Jeter’s impending departure has been resonating for the whole season but has ramped up the past week.  He was talked about and or interviewed in seemingly every newspaper, television channel, and radio station ad nausea.

It seems everyone has a Derek Jeter story. Well, here is mine.

You see Derek Jeter and I share something. But first, let me tell you some of our differences so you don’t confuse us.

Unlike Derek Jeter, I am not chick magnet who has dated Hollywood starlets, pop stars, or beauty pageant winners. But, my wife kind of likes me though.

Unlike Derek Jeter, I have not earned millions and millions of dollars. However, I am able to pay the mortgage, and I eat pretty well.

Unlike Derek Jeter, I don’t have millions of fans who applaud my every move. Yet, I did once have a blog post go on Huffington Post that got six hundred likes on Facebook.

Unlike Derek Jeter, I was not part of a team that won Five World Series Championships. But I did form a team – along with my co-manager, Ms. MMK, – and BR and SJ are signed to long term contracts.

So, what the heck do Derek Jeter and I have in common?

Well, we both came to the New York area in 1995. Derek Jeter of course came up through the Yankees farm system before debuting in May of 1995. He was sent down to the minors later in the season but did finish the season with the Yankees.

I arrived in New York in August of 1995.  I landed in downtown Brooklyn. That fall I was enrolled in the master’s program at the Long Island University, Brooklyn.

While I was excited and elated at the prospect of living in New York, I was intimidated. I didn’t know anyone either in the master’s program or in the city. You would think the odds of meeting one person in a city of 8.5 million would be high.  But it wasn’t easy. In fact, there were times when I felt lonely. Just like Derek Jeter who noted that he was overmatched when he came out of High School and started in the minors. He says he called his parents often and even thought about coming home (and leaving baseball).  In fact, he even cried.

On the first Sunday of my residency in New York, I went to Central Park. Backpack, bagel, and book in hand, I meandered around Vaux and Olmstead’s creation and stared at everything. People who saw me probably wrote me off as a goofy tourist from some hick town. And in some ways, maybe I was.  Anyway, the beauty, diversity, and cool energy of Central Park made me love Central Park from that very first Sunday.

In Derek Jeter’s first full season – 1996 – he won the American League rookie of the year award, and was one of the leaders of the Yankees World Series winning team. He also was already a darling to Yankees fans and respected by his teammates.

By 1996, I had wandered around many parts of New York City, learned the subway system and was no longer intimidated by its vastness. I had made a number of friends, many of whom I am still in touch with today. My grades were excellent, and I felt myself gaining confidence in my writing.

Fast forward to today and Derek Jeter has said goodbye to New York and Yankees fans. He made an indelible mark and will be forever loved in this part of the world. I, however, will continue the journey – from across the river in the New Jersey suburbs.

Thanks for pointing the way Derek.

I’ve got it from here.

 

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The Return of Father’s Day

Childern for Father's Day

BR& SJ – my reason to celebrate Father’s Day.

Father’s Day is coming, and I am looking forward to it. That was not always the case. In fact, I ignored Father’s Day for over six years.

My father died in 1997. He had been going back and forth to doctors for a few months. They couldn’t figure out what was wrong with him, so he continued to work. That’s what he knew, and that was his way.

He was readying to go work on a Saturday. He had some things he wanted to take care of at the office. He probably would have ended up doing more puttering than anything else. Anyway, he received a call instructing him to go to the hospital. So, he did.

Our family still was not informed of the seriousness of his condition. On Tuesday afternoon, the day after his 65th birthday, I received a phone call. Things had become bleak. I rushed in to Philadelphia from New York. I didn’t get to see my father till it was too late. That still upsets me to this day. I think it always will.

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Small Town

Well I was born in a small town And I live in a small town Prob’ly die in a small town Oh, those small – communities. John Mellencamp “Small Town”

A cool song. I was born and raised in Philadelphia. As an adult, I moved to New York – Brooklyn to be exact. I lived in Brooklyn for more than 4 years. From there, I lived in Manhattan for the same amount of time. I then spent a little over two years in the Bronx.
Besides being a bit of vagabond, you’ll note there is no small town in my past. So, unless you count my time at my college (State College, PA – the main campus of Pennsylvania State University), I am as big city as you can get. Well, that is until my family, and I made our way out to the suburbs of North Jersey nearly six years ago.

THE MOVE

I couldn’t take it at first – the suburbs, that is. I don’t like mowing the lawn (http://larrydbernstein.com/sort-of-green/), and I like noise, and thrive on activity. Yet, I’ve adjusted. There is peace and quiet and space. I love the space. So even though a part of me will always miss the city – Manhattan in particular – I am okay here in the burbs.
There is a sense of community in a small town. When I think of small towns, I think of familiarity. When I lived in the various boroughs of New York City, I was in high rises (some were higher than others), and I would see the same people coming in and out of the building. Yet, I knew very few if any of them. We shared hallways but not lives.
It’s not like that here in the suburbs. Now, it’s not like I know everyone, and we get together for brunch once a month on a rotating basis. Still, you can’t help but see people around whether it’s at the bagel store, the dry cleaner, the bank, or the town pool. At one point in my life, I probably would not have cared about this or even found it suffocating. Now, there is something about it that I find nice, decent, and comforting. It’s as if because of our proximity, we are bound together on some level.

OUR TOWN ACTIVITIES

Our town does some nice things to foster this sense of community. There is a Memorial Day Parade. The fire engines, police cars, EMTs, local servicemen, and high school march. You can watch the whole parade in less than an hour. There is nothing cool about it. But we’ve gone multiple times and enjoy it every time. We get to see and appreciate those who support our community.
Yesterday we attended a carnival at the local public school. The carnival was simple – none of the rides is about to make its way to Six Flags. We were there only a short while, but the boys had a lot of fun. They went on some rides, ate some popcorn, and drank some Coca Cola. We saw past and present classmates of SJ (who attends the school). Also, my wife volunteered to work at one of the booths. The tickets and snacks were pricey. But we didn’t complain. After all, the purpose of the carnival was to raise money for our local schools.

My wife hard at work at the booth and dealing with two clowns.

My wife hard at work at the booth and dealing with two clowns.

SJ & BR - two swingers

SJ & BR – two swingers

The boys and I enjoying the fair.

The boys and I enjoying the fair.

This big city guy is content. “It’s good enough for me.”