Seat 14

It's hot. It's August 27. Los Angeles is unknowingly on the brink of a record setting heat wave, and I'm sitting in the sun at Dodger Stadium. 

All season, Dad and I have been watching games together, just like we have every year for what seems like my entire life. Sitting in the living room of our little yellow house, the nights where we both manage to be home and fed by 7:10 are my favorite unspoken summer tradition. Making the trek to the stadium doesn't happen often, partially because of the 110/10 interchange, but also because I don't think Dad has fully forgiven the Dodgers for the Time Warner blackout. 

Here, in the blazing sun, I wonder inwardly if and when the sun will reach our seats. A season ticket holder in the row behind me answers my silent question-- "you'll be in the sun about 1:40. It hits me at 1:30" There are no charts that tell you precisely at what moment the sun hits Reserve Section 6, Row H at Dodger Stadium, but there are season ticket holders. I smile and thank him, unfazed by his apparently psychic ability. 

We don't get beer until the third inning. I don't ask why, but I know it's because we're finally in the shade, and so are our cup holders. Even with the degree altering cover of the shade, it's warm enough that the beer feels cooler and crisper, just like this season feels bigger and better given what came before it. 

My eleven year old cousin marvels at the peanut man as he throws bags across five and up two rows of people. My Dad’s girlfriend, who I know has never watched baseball of her own accord, seems genuinely interested in the game. A 20 something behind me dragged to the game by two of his friends thinks we're playing the Pacers and doesn't know what a foul ball is. The mind reading season ticket holder chimes in now and again with commentary directed at the players but meant for our benefit.

 "Come on Loggie Bear, take away some of my hurt!"

"Wake up them bats, boys, come on!" 

For a moment, we are all together. Drawn from the furthest reaches of the sprawling metropolis that is Los Angeles, we're all here, for 9 innings, 27 outs, the national anthem and the seventh inning stretch. This, to me, is the magic of baseball. 

The Dodgers lose, but it's fine. I know they'll be back tomorrow. And so will we.

About the Author: Lauren is a born and raised Angeleno and as such knows that Los Angeles only has one baseball team.

pride

As a straight person, Pride month isn’t about me. It isn’t about the LGBT people I know or rainbow flags or the corporate goodwill projects of the companies I shop at. 

It’s not even about love really— at least, not in the fetishized emoji hearts and rainbows way. It’s about people, in this country and beyond, who encounter prejudice, hate and physical violence every day, and their right to exist without persecution.  Making Pride month solely about love romanticizes a historically violent fight for equality. As with so many things, we’ve come far, but there is much work to be done.

The past year, I’ve watched my little brother come out to friends and family with a mix of relief and trepidation. He’s lucky enough to have an incredible family for whom nothing changed. He is still our same son, brother, nephew that he’s always been. But we live in LA, in liberal California, and I know that this is not everyone’s experience. 

My heart breaks to imagine Rusty being treated differently at work, at the store, at a concert, planning his wedding. I’d do anything I could to protect him from that. But supporting a community isn’t about supporting the people you know in that community and turning a blind eye to the rest. It means being an ally, for every single person, and standing up for them and stepping in when you witness injustice. 

As a straight person, Pride month isn’t about me and my voice shouldn’t be the loudest, but it should be present. This month, and every month, as a sister, a friend, a stranger, an ally. 

The Land

Cleveland is a sports town. Through and through, from babies in Indians onesies to grey haired women in vintage Cavs gear,  the city loves its sports. It is unified around an almost godlike reverence for the Cavaliers, genuine enthusiasm for the Tribe, and apologizing for the Browns the same way that boys complain about their moms (Yes they suck, but no, you can’t say so). 

Lebron James is as much as part of Cleveland as the buildings that house its nearly 400,000 residents. (It doesn’t matter that he is from Akron— close enough). His likeness is plastered across the city— “James 23” emblazoned on the backs of Clevelanders almost like a bible verse, except there is no chapter 23 of James but if there were, it would be about hard work, loyalty and achieving greatness. More than once, I hear and see maybe Lebron’s most beloved quote— “nothing is given. Everything is earned. You work for what you have.” Beloved is a weird word to use for a quote from an athlete, but it’s the only one that fits. It’s a line from the last paragraph of an open letter Lebron wrote to the city announcing his return, explaining why he left, but stopping short of asking for forgiveness, because, as Lebron says, nothing is given. Everything is earned.

James is not Cleveland’s only hero, though he is certainly their biggest. On the banks of the Cuyahoga River in a rapidly gentrifying area of town, there is an iconic shot of teammate Kyrie Irving with the words “Take your Shots, I’ll Take Mine.” He is exhilarated, almost laughing as he shoots the ball, the crowd behind him frozen in anticipation, their blurred faces a mix of anguish and awe. I know nothing about basketball, but it strikes me. My friend tells me that it’s been called one of the greatest shots in NBA history (by whom, I don’t ask) and explains that it’s from Game 7 of the Cavs historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit against the winningest team in basketball. 

A lot of Cleveland is like this; the city sees itself as an underdog on its way to greatness. Whether intentional or not, some of its biggest sports heroes espouse a mentality of determination and perseverance that strikes me, a born and raised West Coast girl, as distinctly Midwest. Work hard to make yourself the best you can be, don't give up, and you will succeed. The preface to that Lebron quote above? “In Northeast Ohio, nothing is given…” 

The Cavaliers existed for 46 years before they won a Finals.. The Indians haven’t won a World Series since 1948, but they got pretty close last year. And the Browns? When they seemed doomed to a winless 2016 season, someone started a Browns Perfect Season Parade GoFundMe to commemorate a 0-16 season. For both the wins and losses, Cleveland turned out 1.3 million fans celebrated the Cavs win at a historic championship parade. When the Browns eventually blew their perfect season by beating the San Diego (now Los Angeles) Chargers, the creator donated the money raised— an astonishing $10,000, to a Cleveland Food Bank. And the Browns matched it

 

This is Cleveland— celebrating wins and enduring losses together. The struggles and victories of Cleveland’s teams are the struggles and victories of Cleveland’s people, a unique breed of men and women, working to earn their place in history— whether anyone outside of Ohio recognizes it or not. 

on being robbed

the dog was darting across pacific coast highway, through a line of oncoming traffic. a thick blue collar wrapped around its neck, it was clearly someone's pet. it looked back briefly as it skittered through the lanes and i cringed every time a car passed through the intersection. sitting in the left hand turn lane, i watched it darting around cars, eventually reaching the sidewalk unharmed.

it sniffed around a triangle of grass on the corner and i wondered-- should i pull over and try to see if it had tags? i was running a few minutes over on my lunch, but i work at a church and knew that stopping was the right thing to do and my boss would agree. inexplicably, i wrestled with the decision for the minute that i sat at that light. should i? it felt like, for some reason, i should not. someone else will stop, i assured myself as two bikers passed the dog apparently unfazed by its vulnerability. as the light changed, something in me took over- -was it guilt? fear of how i would feel were it my dog? whatever it was, i decided to stop. 

i pulled into a nearby parking lot, got out of my car and walked over to the patch of grass where i last saw the dog. i was wearing a dress which would've made it hard to bend over and coax the dog towards me and as the wind picked up the hem rippled in the wind. i looked around for the dog but didn't see it. people looked on from their cars wondering what i was doing on the corner, in the wind, my hand shading my eyes as i looked around for some unseen thing. or maybe no one noticed at all. 

it couldn't have gone far, but i couldn't see it anywhere. the feeling from before, the "you shouldn't have done this" overtook me as i walked back to my car. a group of men exited the restaurant i was parked at and made their way to their respective cars. as i climbed back into mine, i thought maybe i saw the dog from the corner of my eye running down the street. but now there were witnesses, and i had to get back to work.

 

my dad works hard. he always has. he can fix just about anything and if he can't fix it, he'll build a new one. he's earned everything he has and everything he has given to my family. he had the same kindle (a father's day gift) for five years-- a time span in which i saw three phones, two ipads and a new laptop. he bought himself a new one this Christmas but ended up giving it to my brother instead. last week, he finally bought himself a new one.

we live a pretty simple life, in our small house on a quiet street with our dog. dad has lived there for 13 years, me for three. i've always felt safe, at home alone on the weekends or walking my dog late at night because the rain finally stopped at 12:27AM and she hasn't been outside in 14 hours. 

yesterday, our home was robbed. someone walked into our house, past my sleeping dog, pictures of my brothers as babies, and polaroids of a Christmas party and stole over $4,000 in electronics, cash and personal items.

my brother's brand new backpack that he let me borrow for a trip. my laptop-- the first big purchase i ever made and paid for entirely by myself. a cleveland cavaliers hat that i bought as a souvenir for my brother at the team store and kept in the bag because i thought it was cool. dad's old kindle. and dad's new kindle. 

people talk about the invasion of privacy that comes with a home robbery. it's true-- suddenly there are two very large uniformed police officers in your very small house, taking notes and asking about the value of what's missing. a forensics unit is coming to your home to dust for fingerprints and take photos and you have seen enough episodes of CSI and Law & Order to know that you have seen too many episodes of CSI and Law & Order but you still don't know if you should put things away or touch anything in your house.

for just a brief moment, you stop and try to see your home as the intruders saw it. did they notice the pictures of you on the bookshelf when they took your jar of change, where you hid dollar bills from yourself, secretly saving for some undetermined future? did they know that the sleeping pit bull didn't wake up because she was born deaf? did they realize that the camera that they took is worth maybe $75 to a pawn shop, but much more to you, knowing your mom shot with the same one 20 years ago? when they grabbed a bag of cables did they know that your external hard drive with six years of research and writing was in it as well? was this their first crime? did they act alone? do they have a family? that moment ends abruptly as you realize that you are trying to reason with evil and find logic and understanding where there is none. 

as you're falling asleep in a room that doesn't feel like yours in a home that doesn't feel safe, you'll smell some foreign odor of rot and unfamiliarity. maybe a neighbor is taking out the trash or maybe you're imagining it, but somewhere in the millions of synapse firings, your brain convinces itself that the smell is trace left behind by the people who invaded your home, a bitter and pungent reminder of everything that they took from you. 

retrograde

sometimes (most of the time) it feels good to have a reason to feel, act, or think the way we do. some all knowing higher power (god/gods/g-d/etc) or insurmountable influence (society) or someone you respect telling you what to do (mom). 

for me, right now, that is mercury.

people who believe in crystals and auras believe that when mercury is retrograde, the world is askew, spinning slightly off its’ axis, things happening exactly as they should not. i just googled it and i still have no idea what mercury being retrograde ACTUALLY means.  (i did learn that the proper grammar is “mercury IS retrograde” NOT “mercury is IN retrograde”)

but i have been blaming shit on mercury for-e-v-e-r. up until a week ago, when mercury clapped the fuck back and said not today, sista. own your mistakes. on the same day, the *stars aligned* and tequila lauren showed up to party and shit hit the fan. i missed almost all of a concert i had been looking forward to for months, lashed out at someone i hardly know, and spilled rehydrated beans all over my best friend’s car. i know, i hate me too. 

in the aftermath of what can only be described as a shitshow, i realized several things. first, i should drink more water and less alcohol. second, i am an asshole. but the real deal, true blue, youcantavoidthisanymore thing that i realized was that i hadn’t processed the loss of someone i had been convincing myself i didn’t miss for over a year. 

there are good people, and there are bad people. there are really, truly, far less bad people in the world than we let ourselves believe. the world is hardly ever as simple as good and bad— that privilege is reserved exclusively for christian bale movies and cheese (always good, never bad.) but when it comes to people, there are a number of good people that we just meet at the wrong time. it doesn’t make them bad, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less when they let us down, or when our relationships with them fall apart because we want different things from each other.

it’s hard, and it hurts, and it sucks. you wonder if you were wrong for them or if you were just wrong. in my experience, it’s a little of both. but one day you’ll get to a place where it hurts a little less, and then one day, not at all. and you’ll sit down at your kitchen table and write about it because that’s how you process it. or you’ll go for a run and sweat it out, or maybe you won’t do anything because you’re a grown adult who understands how relationships work and nothing is forever and life is fleeting. 

we’re all different. maybe you got there faster than me. maybe you need tequila and some quasi-science bullshit like mercury retrograde to get there. maybe you’re more of a whiskey person. i don’t know you. my point is, you’ll get there. and it will feel great. after the hangover.