The Jacket Collection

Screenshot 2023-05-20 at 7.21.34 PMLast weekend, seeing this Facebook Memories post from five years ago floored me a little bit. What started as a simple nostalgic attempt to recreated a beloved piece of clothing from my post has now become a vital component to my self-identity. But, first, a little necessary background…

Back in the ‘80s, I was one of those high schoolers who placed pins and patches all over their denim jacket. For this particular teen, it wasn’t just a means of self-expression. It was also a weird form of defiance. Despite getting reasonably along with my peers, I felt very much like a social outcast. Figuring that there was little that could be done to change that, the pins, patches, and the peace symbol bleached into the back of the jacket became a way to proudly proclaim my independence from the high school social order and make the feelings of ostracism my own.

I loved the hell out of that jacket.

However, I retired it upon becoming a college freshman. Stepping foot onto the campus of Drexel University was my big chance to find social acceptance for what felt like the first time ever. I wasn’t going to blow it by flying my weirdo freak flag (the decision was enabled by the fact that the bleached-in peace symbol was starting to fray apart and threatening to put a giant hole in the back of the jacket.) In retrospect, it wasn’t the best decision. In fact, I was doing things backwards – college is the perfect time to fly your freak flag and find the weirdos who get your own eccentricities. I still found a way to express my individuality, but it was certainly a restrained, genteel version of it.

(In retrospect, that wasn’t the only thing I did wrong during college – especially after I transferred to Rutgers-Camden – but since my past experiences and decisions put me where I am today, the lesson of Guster’s “One Man Wrecking Machine” absolutely applies here.)

Growing up in a world dominated by Baby Boomers meant that graduating from college signaled it was time to play by the rules. Student loans needed to be paid, and although the ladders for career advancement held no interest for me, having a stable profession was essential for the kind of middle-class lifestyle that I strived towards. So, dressing my age and cultivating/maintaining a certain kind of appearance were essential components to achieving that particular goal.

After 15+ years of muddling along that path, I started taking advantage of the opportunities presented by a transition to working from home full-time. Rarely needing to appear in the traditional office setting made it easier to unfurl my personal freak flag. It helped immensely that Sally encouraged me to embrace my inner weirdo. Initially, this meant more regularly wearing the kind of geeky t-shirts I loved and building a larger collection of them. Then, in the spring of 2018, I decided that I no longer wanted to continue wearing the kind of boring light spring jackets that were age-appropriate for the middle-aged crowd.

I needed to once again own and regularly wear a denim jacket covered in patches and pins.

After finding an unadorned thrift store jacket that was the same shade of blue as my high school jacket, it was remarkably easy to acquire a combination of patches for it – far easier than it was to do so in my teen years. In fact, it was far too easy to find the kinds of geeky, sociopolitical, and just plain weird that appealed to me. As a result, I quickly accumulated more pins than needed. Didn’t seem like much of an issue, however, as pins could easily be swapped out, replaced, and moved around as the mood struck. The 2018 version of my high school jacket brought large amounts of joy.

The only issue was that I kept finding and acquiring additional pins that just spoke to me. It didn’t take long before I also found myself wanting to purchase additional patches despite the fact that there really wasn’t enough room left on the jacket for them – at least, not without feeling like I had overdecorated the jacket. Yet, I basically resisted and was essentially happy to wear it whenever the mood struck.

Then sometime after the pandemic hit, I simply felt the need to create another one, this time with a different color of denim. Once again, it was far too easy to find sufficient patches and pins to adorn it with. After that, the notion of acquiring multiple jackets in such a manner just felt right. Within relatively short order, I found myself with a large collection of them.

IMG_6672Along the way, the realization hit that the jackets were serving multiple functions for me. As well as providing a means of self-expression, they allowed me to channel my creativity in way not possible with the creations I made using my Lego collection. In addition, the patches and pins themselves became a kind of temporary tattoos, and as the number of jackets grew, I found myself reaching for particular jackets that seemed appropriate for the mood I was experiencing at that time.

Most importantly, though, the jackets had become my armor for navigating a world that seems to be increasingly hostile to my sensibilities. Being a woke, middle-aged, cis, hetero, white male, I am aware of just how much my subset of species collectively has done regards to fostering racism, misogyny, tribalism, homophobia, and a host of other reprehensible sociopathic behaviors. I’m also aware of how much my subset of the species is clearly acting out against and clearly feels threatened by a world that is more open, pluralistic, queer, and not willing to put up with toxic forms of traditional masculinity.

Each of my jackets contains patches and pins that absolutely engage in virtue signaling. However, the intended audience is not minorities, women, or members of the LGTBQ+ community; the target is other middle-aged, cis, hetero, white males who are trying to stand in the way of what I believe is a better world. I want them to know that while I may look like them, I absolutely want to part of the type of society they are trying to defend and reassert. Wearing these jackets makes me feel more at ease, more secure. Hence, armor.

I am now in the process of decorating my ninth jacket. Amazingly, no two are the same color, and there is very little in the way of using the same patch or pin on multiple jackets. They are significant reason why I feel like I am now living my best life. I also believe that teenage me would be thrilled if could somehow see what I’ve done during my middle-aged years. At that age, even though felt wrong, adopting certain tenants of traditional masculinity seemed essential in order to be socially accepted and draw attention away from my natural non-normative behaviors. These jackets are a part of my openly embracing my weird true self.

And, I couldn’t be happier.

Odds and Ends for May 18, 2023

I actually have two different, completely unrelated, longer pieces I’m currently working on for the blog. Ideally, I would spend this time working on either of them, and I will do so later this evening. However, there are also a few odds and ends I would like to post about. So, without further ado:

  • I still cannot overstate in any fashion how “meh” I feel about my choices of hangout for the times I want to have a drink or two outside the house, reading a book and/or pounding away on my laptop for blogging purposes. I’m currently giving another chance to The Ashburn Bungalow Alehouse, which was the runner-up when I made my decision about where I should spend these interludes, and it is actually making me wish I was currently at my first choice, Finnegan’s, which is actually damning with faint praise.
  • One of the two posts currently underway involves my collection of denim jackets. I bring this only because I am in the process of adding another and decorating yet another one. This one is purple, and the array of pins and patches I’ve ordered from Etsy and other online vendors have already started arriving. It’s yet another reason I wish I could go back in time and simply tell my teenage self that all the angst, anxiety, and depression will be far more than amply compensated for in the middle-aged years.
  • While pounding this all out on the keyboard, I’m actively restraining myself from closing up the laptop, asking for the check, and returning home as quickly as possible. Shortly after arriving here, I received an email stating that my other new clothing purchase has been delivered at the house. I’m never worn this article of clothing before, but now that it’s been quite some time since I reached that stage of my life when there are less than zero fucks left to give, I’m absolutely ready to try it now. More on this soon.
  • Yesterday, I shared this particular Twitter thread to Facebook. I had actually shared it previously, but someone else that I follow on Facebook had reshared it and brought it back to my attention. It’s frequently been rolling around in my head since seeing it again, and it’s made me even happier that I decided to try out a piece of clothing I’ve never worn before. It’s also made me think again about the fact that as a non-normative but otherwise absolutely hetero cis male I absolutely feel a kind of kinship with the LGTBQ+ community.

I think I’ll wrap it up there for now. The last song I selected for to the jukebox is playing now, and I really want to get home to try out my new piece of clothing.

Yet Another Odds and Ends Installment

Another odds and ends post tonight, but something far more substantive should be online this weekend:

  • Because I’m getting my second Shingrix shot tomorrow at lunchtime, I’m sorta-kinda treating tonight as my Friday night. I’m having a couple adult beverages and chips from the comfort of the couch later tonight, seeing as it wouldn’t be a good idea to do so after getting the vaccination. I’m also preparing for the possibility that I’ll feel like crap on Saturday as my body deals with the wonders of modern science.
  • When talking about Staunton in my last post, I neglected to mention that while visiting our favorite antique mall, I stumbled upon other item I can use to decorate my denim jackets: tie clips. Obviously, I’m not using them in the manner that they were designed for, but that’s part of the fun. They also serve another purpose: they serve as a little reminder of Pops, my grandfather, who always used them when wearing a tie. Although, I’m reasonably certain that he wouldn’t use any of the ones I would select. Actually, that’s not 100% true – I actually have one of his old clips, and it will be used one of my jackets.
  • Random thought that occurred to me earlier today: there is a non-trivial chance that the Sixers could make it to the NBA finals this year, which would make them the third Philly team in less than a year to make it to the championship game/series. If they do in fact make it there, I might actually finally jump on the bandwagon and pay proper attention to them. It would be the first time I actually did so since I swore the team off after they traded Charles Barkley over 30 years ago.
  • Thanks to one awesome online friend, we now have all dressed chips in the house again. She IMed me (or, is that “DMed” now? – I’m getting too old to keep up with the hip tech lingo) and let me know that Aldi was carrying an in-house brand of them. Between Sally and myself, we picked up eight bags in order to ensure a stockpile in the almost certain eventuality that they stop stocking them in the not-too-distant future. I’m not exaggerating either – eight bags.
  • Ghost continues to pay dividends as my midlife musical obsession. I’m absolutely loving their cover of “Jesus He Knows Me,” which they awesomely released on Easter.
  • As typical, I don’t have anything decent to end this post with.

Post Cinco de Mayo Odds & Ends

Sally is working today, and I’m left to my own devices until 2:00, when I’m going to meet on old friend. So, until then, I’m hanging out in downtown Frederick (where I’m meeting said friend) and finding myself feeling ridiculously nostalgic for my teen years – which is rather amusing given how eager I was to flee this town upon graduation from high school.

Reminiscing about my youth, however, is not what I really wanted to do before opening up my laptop. Maybe I’ll do some of that once I’ve finished with some other ruminations currently bouncing around in my head:

  • I’ve started selling off pieces from my baseball card collection again. It’s now been eight years since I left the hobby, and that amount of time has made deciding what to keep and what to sell remarkably painless. Unfortunately, this process will likely take years. The easiest thing to do would be to simply select what I want to keep, and then accept the offer from the dealer who would give me the most money for the remainder. However, I just can’t bring myself to do that, knowing how much the collection’s actual value and what the likely range of offers would be. I figure that will be a point in the future where selling it piecemeal just isn’t worth the effort to me anymore. Until then, the money is going to shore up the back account (a necessity following the purchase of a new water heater back in March and some other looming, necessary home maintenance) and towards the purchasing of some of the newer Lego sets that have caught my eye.
  • In addition to the baseball cards, I’m also eventually going to post some other items of value to eBay – in particular Lego sets I no longer want or need. The fact is that my Lego collection now takes up a frightening amount of space. If I want to keep buying interesting new sets, I’m going to need to start making the space for them
  • Sally and I spent this past Sunday-Tuesday in Staunton. Originally, our trip there included seeing Nickel Creek in concert in Charlottesville on Monday night, but a few days before the weekend started, Nickel Creek announced that a postponement due to illness. In place of the concert, we instead saw Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret in a downtown movie theater. I didn’t do this simply to make Sally happy – she had been looking forward to its release since first hearing that it was in production – I genuinely wanted to see it as well, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. The number of attempts by misogynistic Bible-thumpers over the past five years speaks volumes about how bugfuck insane, closed-minded, and authoritarian they are. (I didn’t actually need to see the movie to know this, but Sally says the movie was a faithful adaptation of the book, and that’s all the additional information I needed.)
  • While in Staunton, an individual approached me with questions about the decorated denim jacket I chose to wear that day and then proceed to ask if I was interested in selling it. I immediately and emphatically stated that I wasn’t interested in doing so, and then left it at that. In retrospect, it might have been interesting to have stated what I would’ve felt was a fair price. The actual cost of one of my jackets, once all pins and patches are purchased and applied, is around $300-$325. Add what seems to be a fair markup for my time and effort acquiring those materials and then properly putting it all together, it seems to me that $450 would have been a fair starting point for negotiation. (Though, there wouldn’t be much wiggle room below that price.)
  • One of the long-term, seemingly never-ending, projects in our home is getting the entirety of our music collection imported onto the Apple Mini that is wired into our home entertainment system and creating a large variety of playlists to suit either or both of our various musical moods. One of the more recent playlist creations, and a current favorite, is one I titled “This Dance Mix Is a Little Bit Off.” The list is so-named because the majority of the music contains some element of darkness (musically and/or lyrically.) As a result, there’s a lot of Depeche Mode and ‘80s New Wave and alternative. In addition, there are “Weird” Al parodies of songs you might hear on a dance floor – such as “Word Crimes,” his take on Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” – and other interesting little tidbits like Cookie Monster’s “Me Lost Me Cookie at the Disco” and the disco cover mashup of music from the original Star Wars. I make no apologies for anything in it.

It’s actually getting rather close to 2:00 now. If there is any musings about my nostalgia regarding late ‘80s Frederick, it’s going to have to be in a future post.

Creating a Suitable Environment for Myself

For more than a few years now, I’ve felt the desire to spend more time reading and writing. Yet, as that desire remained constant, I’ve actually devoted less time to either task. There doesn’t seem to be much that can be gained for exploring the reasons (some of which are certainly no more than excuses) – I just need to act, but it has become clear that I first needed to create an environment that encourages me to do so.

The problem has been that there hasn’t really been a place in the house where I felt… well… “at home” doing either of those things. I can’t really use my work desk because it’s just too much my place of employment. When done putting in my time for major defense contractor, it’s the last place I want to spend any more time in. Reading or writing on my personal laptop from that chair simply doesn’t work. Furthermore, there simply wasn’t a spot in the living areas or our bedroom that felt comfortable for either activity.

I think I’ve made some headway in regards to creating those spaces – I just need to start trying them out. The other thing that would help is simply picking a new preferred place outside the house. I did an incredible amount of reading and writing from the comfort of O’Faolain’s before it became a victim of the pandemic. I’ve already accepted that I’m just not going to find a pub that suited me as well as that one, but the fact that nothing has even come close has been disconcerting. So, it’s time to just pick a place from what’s available and go from there. (In fact, I’m currently at the place I’ve chosen for the time being.)

Having said all that, time for a few odds and ends:

  • I’ve ordered some new pins and patches for newest denim jacket, number eight in the collection. Between those orders and the unused existing supply, I should have it completely decorated within before Sally’s and my trip to Staunton next weekend.
  • Took the day off yesterday so that we could spend an afternoon in Frederick. Being there reminded me just how much I miss living in a city. Sally has already agreed that we can look into moving into one when the time seems right for us to finally move out of our suburban townhome. I will continue to be patient as long as necessary, but I will continue to fantasize about city life until that day comes.
  • Thanks to the arrival of a recent Teepublic order, I now own five different Marvin the Paranoid Android tees. If I didn’t already own a few dozen other beloved t-shirts, I would absolutely get more. On an oddly related note, yesterday I started openly mulling the idea of getting a kilt. I think that embracing my inner weirdo might be encouraging me to take my need to be different in new directions.
  • Not much of a Twitter user, but if I was, taking part in the Block the Blue campaign would be a moral imperative: Twitter users #BlockTheBlue as ‘verified’ accounts take on new meaning – The Washington Post.

That’s all for now. Making it a point to post more here tomorrow.

Odds and Ends for April 2, 2023

Alas, couldn’t come up with a better title for the post. A random assortment of items for today:

  • For some time now, Sally and I have been playing catch up with Queer Eye on Netflix. (We are frequently behind on television shows, and typically there is never more than 2-3 current shows that we fully caught up on.) One aspect that continues to amuse me is Tan and his insistence that people dress their age. Although I cannot imagine Sally or anyone else who knows me nominating me for the show, I would love to experience Tan trying to get me to stop using my denim jackets and my Eddie Bauer relaxed fit dad jeans (which are actually a necessity given the size of of my legs – my calves in particular.) I like to think I’d be his hardest challenge ever.
  • The quest to find a post-O’Faolain’s acceptable preferred hangout continues. I cannot overstate just how wonderful O’Faolain’s was and how perfect a place it was for me – a fact that is almost certainly acting as an impediment to my settling on its “replacement.” None of the places I’ve tried out works for me anywhere near as well as O’Faolain’s did before the pandemic killed it. Interestingly, if I lived much closer to Frederick, I probably would’ve already settled on an establishment, but even if that were true, both of the options there simply pale in comparison. There are multiple contenders, but each of them has some kind of significant flaw in my eyes. It’s a shame I don’t live in my adopted hometown – this search would’ve already ended some time ago.
  • The Lego Christmas display is still fully intact on the bookshelf. I am going to have to make it a point to start disassembling it very soon if I’m going to build something else to display there before it becomes time to put together a Halloween display. I really wish I had the kind of space that would allow me to leave my various builds intact for much longer. Along those same lines, it would be awesome if I had the space for assembling and leaving intact at least a couple of the massive 5,000+ piece sets I own. I actually purchased the new Rivendell set yesterday, and I will be building that one soon, as we finally have some space where I can leave a set that large assembled and on display for some time. 
  • I’m sure it comes as no surprise to anyone that I have lots of thoughts about Trump finally being criminally indicted by a grand jury for something he did. In lieu of going into any kind of significant detail, all I’m going to share aloud for the time being is that the reaction of so much of the GOP and the American right in general is only serving to add to my anxiety about the future. Too much of this country is far too willing to embrace fascism, simply because getting their way is far more important than justice, rule of law, and the actual will of the people.
  • But, that isn’t the only thing increasing my anxiety when contemplating what the future might bring. There are just so many significant existential threats to both this country and humankind in general that I’m increasingly finding that the best way for me to cope is to just do my best to forget about all of it, and just focus on spending my time enjoying my interests and socializing with those I love. I know, I’m able to do that because I’m operating from a place of privilege enjoyed by very few – even in this country.

Really nothing else to add at this time. Hope to not go months without posting again.

New York City Travel Log, Several Weeks Later

Ever since moving away from regularly journaling/blogging and instead actively posting in smaller posts on sites such as Facebook and Twitter, I’ve occasionally started a blog post only to leave it in my computer or iPhone notepad in partially finished form. Tonight, it seemed like this might be a good time to revisit one of those incomplete blog fragments and finally post them online. The following was an originally a series of brief thoughts that occurred to me while Sally and I were in New York back for a few days during the second week of November.

This is my second trip to New York City in two years. Before these two trips, I was last here in the spring of 2007. Both of these visits have been heavily laden with nostalgia for the two years I lived here after graduating from Rutgers — as well as some wonderful memories from the few trips back up here after moving back to the DC area in 1998. Ideally, it seems clear that making regular visits is a moral imperative. However, the cost of these trips mean that we simply can’t do this every year. Train fare (the only civilized way of traveling from DC to NYC,) staying multiple nights in a hotel in Manhattan, and the other necessary expenses incurred in a multi-day stay here make this a rather expensive proposition. So, while three trips in three years appears unlikely, maybe we can be back here again in 2024…

One of the things I miss most from my time living in New York is The Strand. It remains a wonder of a bookshop, but it has undergone one significant change in the nearly 25 years since I lived here: the “review copy” section of the basement is no more. One of my favorite things to do when living here was going through those shelves and coming home with a number of recently published hardcovers for far less than cover price. Given the changes in the book industry in the interim, it’s disappearance comes as no surprise. It’s still fun to come in and browse the shelves, but the absence of the review copy section means that coming here just isn’t the same for me. Alas, that’s just something time does to all things…

This trip included an afternoon where Sally and I are off doing separate things. She planned well in advance to join a gathering of women who love Gudrun clothing. I, however, didn’t plan anything on anything in particular while on my own, and started by simply wandering around the area and seeing what I might find. Eventually, I decided that I should go to McSorely’s — an option I considered in advance but hadn’t made any previous decisions about. I suppose I get why people still go there — I mean, where else can you go that both John Lennon and Abraham Lincoln both drank at? — but I wonder if it’s now something where you’re primarily paying for an experience more than anything else. If I lived here still, I wouldn’t feel the need to return. Oh, thank goodness I actually did have cash on me — it’s hard to believe that there are cash-only establishments in this day and age…

One thing we generally didn’t plan in advance for either of our visits was where we were going to eat. When the time to do so came, Sally and I did a lot of just walking around and checking the menus of restaurants as we passed by. Inevitably we would find a place that looked like a great place to try — though on a couple occasions this took longer than we liked. It was kind of surprising how large a percentage of the restaurant didn’t provide vegetarian fare. It was certainly larger than the percentage of restaurants in our section of Northern Virginia not providing meatless meals. Not willing to make any kind of conjectures as to why the weird dichotomy exists. To me, a city as diverse as New York would mean that more restaurants made an effort at accommodating both vegetarians and omnivores…

One of the exceptions to meal planning was a visit to The Cauldron. During our visit list year, we had such a wonderful time doing the potions making class that we made another visit to simply enjoy the atmosphere and the fantasy themed cocktails. Alas, this year’s visit was somewhat disappointing. The place was more plainly decorated, the waitstaff less personable, and the vibe very much subdued. We still enjoyed ourselves, as well as had a great time with an old of mine, Erica, I hadn’t seen in over 10 years, but some of the magic (pun fully intended) we encountered last year vanished…

One return to a favorite from the time I lived in NYC that didn’t disappoint was The Cloisters. It was on our list of places to see last year, but we just weren’t able to get up there. This time, we purposefully set aside a specific date and time to go up. It was everything I remembered. It helped immensely that it was a gorgeous day outside, which made the gardens and balcony overlooking the river…

On our visit last year, we went to the observations decks on both the Empire State Building and One Vanderbilt. This year, we thought that checking out the 30 Rockefeller observation deck would provide an interesting change of perspective. It absolutely exceeded any expectations. Although we visited the top of Empire State at nearly the exact same date and time, the colors from just after sunset were absolutely breathtaking. I don’t think I’ve ever taken as many pictures in as short a time period as I did that night. I don’t recall the exact verbiage from the moment, but while pausing between photos, I said to Sally that the impending environmental collapse and global warming crisis make it hard to be excited about the future, but at least the view before the shit hits the fan is amazing…

If there is one part of this trip I wish for a second stab it, it’s visiting Oscar Wilde. It would have been smart to get there earlier in the day than during the after work rush. It was just one of those places where the combination of decor and drink menu was just awesome. If there was a downside, it’s that it was clearly a trendy place for the 20-something crowd. I think that I single-handedly lowered the coolness quotient of the establishment while Sally and I wear at the bar.

Finally — though by no means the last thing about the trip worth noting — R.I.P. The Slaughtered Lamb and Jeckyll & Hyde. Both of these establishments were casualties of the pandemic during the (relatively) short time between Sally’s and my two trips to NYC. We made to it the Slaughtered Lamb during our first trip, but it was clear at the time that the bar was a shell of its former glory. Despite the fact that both locales were kitschy destinations designed with tourists in mind, I nonetheless had fond memories of both places both from my time living in New York and during a couple of my subsequent visits before meeting Sally. It’s always sad to see a notable physical part of your past disappear, and these two spots were certainly no exception.

At the Start of the 2022 World Series…

29 days ago, Sally and I were sitting in a beer garden in Center City Philadelphia, having a drink, and watching the Phillies get swept by the 88-loss Cubs for the second time in the season. It was their fifth loss in a row, and I was thoroughly convinced that they were going to experience their fourth consecutive late September nosedive and painfully miss out on the postseason yet again. At the time, I felt like that even if they awkwardly stumbled into the postseason, they would be lucky to win one game.

Then, it was if a light-switch had been turned on. With the exception the last two rather meaningless games of the regular season, they got hot and started winning like a team possessed. When the playoffs started, I repeatedly stated that I hated the fact that MLB’s playoffs gave third place teams the opportunity to win a World Series. Even after everything that’s happened over the past four weeks, I still feel that way, but these are the playoffs we now have. So, I have experienced an awesome ironic episode of cognitive dissonance as I root for my favorite team while still feeling as though they’re not even supposed to be here.

It’s like it’s been Opposite Dante Hicks Day for a solid month.

Rooting for your favorite team when you are they are considered the least likely to win it all makes for a far less stressful experience. Having been on the opposite end of that spectrum (the 2011 Phillies,) I would rather my team be the underdog every single time. They are riding a hot streak while playing with house money – what’s not to enjoy?

If that hot streak should happen to suddenly end in the next few games, I am still going to cherish everything about this postseason. A few days back on Facebook, I stated that I had so many different thoughts concerning the Phillies over the past month that I should just compile them all in one blog post. Well, that time has finally come:

  • By far and without question, the biggest and most important moment in this postseason thus far, and the one I cherish most, has been watching the Phillies clinch the pennant with Brandon at a nearby sports pub. A few years back, I got to watch the Eagles win the Super Bowl with him and his mom, but that paled in comparison to being the only two Phillies fans in a bar cheering, hollering, and jumping around in unfettered joy when Harper hit the winning home run in the bottom of the 8th, and then doing it all over again when Castellanos caught the final out of the game.
  • The only thing about this run that I wish could have been a little different is that I’ve mostly watched it without any other Phillies fans. Brandon is off at college (he made a special trip out here for the NLCS-clinching game,) and while Sally has been amazing about accommodating me, she’s not a fan. If I lived much closer to the Philadelphia area, I would almost certainly be going out to a local sports bar to watch the World Series with other fans.
  • Having said that, the way we’ve watched many of the games thus far is likely to be my new default setting for all future Phillies playoff runs: living room party lighting on, the game on the TV with the sound off, party music playing on the stereo, and enough alcohol to dull any anxiety that the game might cause (I said it was much less stressful, not stress-free.) I’m not a fan of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (mostly not my kind of humor,) but I absolutely feel a kind of disconcerting kinship with Mac and Dennis at the end of the Riot Juice scene from the “The World Series Defense” episode.
  • Just before the start of the playoffs, I began writing a blog post talking about my complicated set of feelings regarding the Phillies and the way they qualified for them. I got about 600 words into it, but laziness took over. I’m reasonably certain finishing it won’t be difficult, and it will likely happen at some point in the indeterminate future. However, some time and distance from this postseason will be needed to properly recapture the state mind necessary for completing it.
  • I’ve always known that I have a ridiculous number of Phillies jerseys (over two dozen,) but this postseason has managed to put it in further perspective. I’ve worn a different one on each game day thus far, and I’ll be able to continue doing so for the entirety of the World Series, even if it goes seven games. Having said that, despite the fact I swore before the 2020 season that I would never buy any Phillies jersey with the Nike swoosh prominently displayed on the chest, I may have to purchase one so I could have an official jersey with the 2022 World Series patch on the sleeve.
  • I swore off baseball card collecting back in 2015, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. However, if the Phillies win the World Series, I am going to be the first person in line to purchase the “limited edition” box set celebrating that victory.
  • It’s more a highly unlikely idea than anything else at this moment, but if this does go seven games, I may decide to get a hotel room, go up to Philly to watch the game from a Center City sports bar. The seventh game is on a Saturday night, so the plan is doable. The only constraints are cost, and, frankly, how eager I am to do that much driving in two days. We shall see.

July 13 Infodump

Because I continue to only sit down to post every week or two, another series of otherwise unrelated items:

For the first time ever I am stopping midway through a bookshelf display simply because I’m just not feeling it. I liked the idea initially – creating a scene inspired by The Witcher, with Geralt and Yennefer – but something about the execution right now doesn’t feel right. I’d rather stop, tear down, and start a new one than attempt to figure out what isn’t working, how to potentially fix, and then act accordingly. Given where we are in the calendar, I really should just go ahead and jump directly into my Halloween display…

Heck, if I’m going to put together my Halloween display once I take the half-finished one apart, I should simultaneously just go ahead and put the Halloween tree up. In fact, I visited the local Hallmark store earlier this evening to check out the new ornaments that they’ve already put out, and there are a couple this year that would be great for Halloween use…

I’m continuing my efforts to find a successor to O’Faolain’s as my new preferred hangout away from home. I use the term “successor” very deliberately, because nothing is ever going to replace it. The fact of the matter is that O’Faolain’s was damn near perfect for me. It had everything: the right atmosphere/decor, hard cider on tap, awesome french fries (the most essential requirement,) otherwise decent Matthew-friendly (and Sally-friendly) eating options, TouchTunes-enabled jukebox… it just had everything I wanted in my favorite pub. Each of the three current contenders – The Ashburn Pub, Wicket Door Pub, and Finnegan’s – is lacking in one or more of these aspects. Ideally, my new favorite hangout would be no more than 20 minutes from my house, but I’m going to cast the net a bit wider in the hopes that there’s somewhere else that can top one of those three. Otherwise, it’ll be time to weigh the pros and cons of each and just run with it…

I’ve actually been in something of a funk the last couple days. I don’t think there’s any actual cause for it – it’s just a kind of malaise caused by the current state of affairs and my pessimism/nihilism about the future. These funks started to happen on infrequent occasions a few months into the pandemic, but actually started to subside during the second half of last year when things genuinely seemed to be getting better thanks to vaccines and common sense public health measures, Alas, COVID continues to evolve, with a new variant (BA.5) that the current vaccines and boosters don’t actually seem to prevent you from getting infected with. Despite having had COVID (most likely a different variant) just six weeks ago, I really need to start being more careful again. In fact, another requirement for my new favorite hangout is absolutely going to be outdoor seating – which actually eliminates one of the previously mentioned contenders (The Ashburn Pub…)

Heading back up in Philly in a little over a week to be spend some time up there with Manchild, finally see Keith for the first time in a year, and then see a Phillies game with the family. I wonder if I would experience these emotional funks less frequently if I lived closer to there and could realistically make day trips up there more often… 

Yesterday, I placed an order for the burgundy denim jacket that will become the fifth to be covered in an assortment of patches and pins. I’m actually planning a longer post in the near future about these jackets. They’ve come to represent and mean a number of different things to me, and actually even contribute to my mental well-being. So, yeah, making them the subject of an in-depth blog post seems like a moral imperative… 

Feel the need to state that it has now been two years and eight months since my last haircut. Obviously, much has changed in the interim, but back when I cut my mullet-tail off in the spring of 1995 I really thought that was going to be the last time I would have any kind of long hair. I’m sure that 23-year-old me would be quite stunned to know how long my hair is now…

Finally, in my last post, I wrote about my efforts (or lack thereof) to lost weight since the start of May. Things have nosedived a bit since then. So, tomorrow, I start doing the one thing that I tend to neglect most when I get really off-course in taking care of myself properly: weighing myself each morning and hold myself accountable each day. It’s been over a week since the last time I did so, and the number showing on the scale will almost certainly suck. Hopefully the damage isn’t not as bad as it did when I went off the rails at the end of last year.

July 3 Infodump

It’s been over two years since O’Faolain’s became a permanent casualty of the pandemic, and I still haven’t found a suitable local replacement. Sally works today and Brandon is vacationing with his mom, and pre-pandemic this kind of weekend scenario typically meant spending a large chunk of the afternoon reading, temporarily taking over the jukebox, eating fries, doing some writing, and having a cider or two at O’Faolain’s. Admittedly, given the progression of Covid over the past 27+ months, I haven’t tried very hard to find my new favorite local spot away from home, but today was the kind of day screaming for such treatment.

So, after spending some time reading reviews of nearby pubs, I settled on The Ashburn Pub, where I’m currently pounding this out. Initial verdict: not a likely candidate. The atmosphere isn’t right, it’s a bit on the small side, and while they have cider in bottles, they don’t have it on tap. Furthermore, though there are a few items on the menu that look interesting, overall it isn’t doing that much for me. However, the jukebox is TouchTunes enabled, which is always a major plus. Alas, that isn’t enough, so the search will continue…

Along those lines, while deciding on The Ashburn Pub, a horrifying dystopian thought occurred to me: Red Robin is closer to my ideal pub than most of the other local places I’ve visited or considered. The truly frightening part is that I momentarily gave serious thought to going there. Clearly, unless there’s some hidden nearby currently unknown-to-me gem, Sally and I need to flee the exurbs to someplace that’s at least close to a proper urban area (or a reasonable facsimile thereof) as soon as it’s legitimately feasible…

Earlier this week, over on Facebook, someone who knew me back in high school engaged in some concern trolling with me because of a comment I left on a mutual friend’s post. What I said:

“The events of the last two years make it abundantly clear that women, non-ammosexual parents, blacks, and the LGTBQ+ community would absolutely be justified should decide to burn it all to the ground.

“If that time comes, this cis, straight, white male will help by supplying kerosene and lighters.”

The response:

“You scare me… Anger… justified, chaos and stupid online rhetoric isn’t.”

I am so fucking done with these moderate, “reasonable” assholes. The other side has been stating openly for years that “2nd Amendment solutions” are reasonably on the table should the American left go too far (I saw more than a few people state both in 2016 & 2020 that a Bernie Sanders presidency would justify such a use of violence.) In fact, they puts those words into action and fucking attempted a coup on January 6, 2021. Now, they are insisting that the public January 6 Committee hearings are somply grandstanding. Yet, my rhetoric – which in my mind was clearly a kind of metaphor and contained more than an hint of hyperbole – is a problem? My real mistake was attempting to debate this point with him. I need to remember more often that I’m truly out of fucks and that attempting to engage with such idiocy achieves nothing more than angering me…

By the way, not celebrating anything tomorrow. Nothing has materially changed since the BLM protests in the summer of 2020, women’s rights are being stripped away from them, the insane right-wing majority on the Supreme Court is busy making sure that Christian nationalists pretty much get whatever they want under the guise of “religious liberty,” and in the states where they currently control all the branches of government, the GOP is legally creating mini banana republics that make it exceedingly difficult to actually vote them out of power. Given that these are all signs of a slowly unfolding right-wing coup taking place, and that no one in a position to do so seems to be actively trying to derail it, it seems ridiculous to be celebrating the July 4 holiday… 

Part of yesterday afternoon was spent in downtown Frederick, and despite high humidity and temperatures in the upper 80s, I continually wore one of my denim jackets with the sleeves rolled up. Yes, I’m that dedicated to flying my freeky geek flag. A couple weeks ago, the realiation hit me that the jackets serve as my version of tattoos. The difference is that mine are removable and can be readily replaced with other depending on my mood. In fact, a couple of the jackets are more suitable for certain kinds of personal expression than other. I suppose it’s not surprising at all that Sally so easily readily talked me into adding patches and pins to a fifth jacket, rather than stop at four…

It wasn’t my intent, but for the past two months I’ve essentially maintained my weight rather than continue getting down to my goal weight. So, I have a good idea of what I need to do once I actually lose the remaining necessary pounds. However, I decided to let myself go for the last week of June and for the July 4 weekend. Haven’t stepped on a scale since June 22. Frankly, I am a little scared of what the scale states on the morning of July 5, but I have the utmost confidence in my ability to start doing all the right things again on that day…

That’s all I got for the moment.