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Tag Archives: pac-12

26 Before 26: Do Batting Practice

1 Jul

Just like Matt Kemp

In my 26th year of life, I am attempting 26 new things that I’ve never done before. Full list here.

Boy oh boy, I needed this.

One of the best and most pleasantly surprising things about my 26 before 26 endeavor has been the eagerness and enthusiasm of others to hear about it and to help me. I keep a copy of the list on my phone, and anytime anyone hears about it they immediately want to see it. They go through the list, laughing at some of the items and becoming overly excited about others. I haven’t been as diligent about my list, because life gets in the way. But a new friend from my soccer team, Dave, saw this on my list and insisted on taking me to the batting cages at Chelsea Piers. I was happy to go.

We went on a Wednesday night, after a crappy Wednesday day. I went into work slightly hungover and proceeded to have a bad luck day. I was mainly having issues with catheters. Catheters were so scary to me for such a long time, but once I got the hang of it, I felt so proud. But Wednesday, every catheter I put in would kink and I would lose the flow. It’s heartbreaking, to see the flash, to slowly insert the catheter, to pull the stylet…nothing. No blood. I’d pull the catheter out and see it had bended all weird. Everyone kept telling me that it sometimes just happens with catheters, but I would look down at the blown vein and beat myself up. I was having such an off day with those effing blue catheters.

So I headed to the batting cages to meet up with Dave. It’s a pretty good deal, really. $2ish for a token which gets you ten pitches. Dave went for the medium pitch cage, but I wanted to take whacks at the slow pitch softball cage since that is what I encounter in my Pac-12 softball team. There was a pair of girls who had rented the cage for an hour. They were dripping with sweat, taking turns in the cage. We got to talking with them, and they make it down to the pier once a month to rent the cage for an hour and go to town.

“We’ve got a lot of rage,” one of them told me breathlessly.

Once they left, I took my turn in the cage. It was much easier than actual softball. I knew exactly when the ball was coming and where it would be. I also didn’t have rows of Pac-12 dudes cheering me on. I love my Pac-12 dudes, but I want to do so well for them, I stress myself out. This time, it was just me and a machine. Somehow, nothing feels better then making contact with a bat, hearing that pop, imagining where that ball would go on a real softball field. Such a perfect stress release, and I made a mental note that I must rent the cage out sometime for myself.

Afterwards, Dave and I grabbed a beer at a bar next to the golf driving range. It was perfect weather down my the water, and it was hypnotizing to watch those golf balls sail out towards the water, like a meteor shower. A couple of Dave’s friends showed up so they could practice their golf swings for a tournament they put themselves through, known ominously as “The Cup.” It’s an epic battle amongst old college friends which never fails to entertain me when they start talking about it. There’s even a draft.

I told them that I’d never actually gone to a driving range, and maybe I should put it on my 27 before 27 list. But why put off until tomorrow what you can do today. They invited me to come along and hit a few. I was pretty horrible, but after they gave me a few tips, I don’t think I was so bad. It took a couple of swings before I finally hit the ball, but when I did, one of Dave’s friends Adam said something along the lines of “Yay bucket list.” It took me far away from the worries of a 22-guage catheter.

The next day, my shoulders were so, so sore. But I was relaxed, and 15 minutes into work, I had to place a catheter into a squirmy King Charles Spaniel. I got it right away.

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26 Before 26: Go on a Wine Tasting

1 May

The menu for the night.

In my 26th year of life, I am attempting 26 new things that I’ve never done before. Full list here.

This one fell right into my lap. Since coming to New York, I have been fairly active in my alumni group. This has led me to a Pac-12 alumni group, made up of alumni from the larger, West coast schools.

They organize a wine tasting two, maybe three times a year at a fancy Murray Hill restaurant that some alumni’s family owns. It’s an amazing deal, and I was excited to see my Pac-12 friends. Pac-12 softball is gearing up, and I dearly love playing with them in Central Park, then getting rather sloshed at a sports bar in the Upper West Side.

I always thought of a wine tasting as touring some countryside, swirling wine in glasses, sipping it gently, trying to distinguish notes. Maybe that’s how they do it in Napa (I really have no idea), but in New York, we through them back. All of the wines were bottomless. They had waiters walking around filling our wine glasses. Like filling ALL our wine glasses from ALL the courses.

In my early sobriety, I was taking this wine tasting rather seriously, but by first course I didn’t even know what I was drinking, just that the wine was ever-flowing. I was kind of listening to the wine-guy who was talking about special grapes in South Africa. But sitting here in my jammies two weeks later, I can’t tell you a single thing about those wines. Except that they were white. But I didn’t need no sommelier to tell me that.

I like white wines. A controversial opinion, apparently, as most wine-snobs I’ve met in my life have scoffed at such a statement. But I like what I like. I also like fake maple syrup over real maple syrup. Sue me.

Funnily enough, my favorite course/pairing was dessert. Feast your eyes on this beaut…

Mango Mousse with Amarula Cream Liquer

Honestly, I wish there had been five courses of this. It was fantastic. I was certainly not listening to wine-man at this point. All I could really think was “cake cake cake cake cake cake booze cake cake cake…” It was like being a kid and having to wait for your parents to light the candles before you can eat your birthday cake. I’m infamous in my family for prematurely licking the frosting off my birthday cake when I thought no one was looking. No one was looking, except the family friend who was videotaping me. Shame.

To sum up my wine tasting experience, it was a variety of delicious booze. It was an experience akin to most of my weekend excursions. Maybe I didn’t do the experience right? Maybe I should have paid more attention to what I was tasting. I was looking through one of my notebooks the other day, and I found something I had written down last fall.

“I tend to devour, but I am looking for someone to teach me a thing or two about savoring.”

Well, obviously, I have not learned my lesson. But there are certainly more wine tastings in my future.