I'm up in Mammoth with my team this week. The weather is pitch perfect and so far there hasn't been a forest fire to destroy air quality. Being a coach in the modern age means a list of duties and obligations my high school and college coaches would never have dreamed of adding to their to-do lists.
My Mom died this morning. I was in the middle of cross country practice when I got the news. I stood stunned, then finished the workout before wandering around in a weepy daze. Rosemary Hope Fitzgerald Dugard would have been 84 on August 1. Mother of five, married for 58 years; TWA flight attendant, Mass General nurse, Wing Commander's wife.
An excerpt from the new paperback edition of To Be a Runner. . . . "Ever think of giving it a try?" It was a year since my knee surgery. Liam needed new running shoes, so we were back at our local shop, the same place where I decompensated after that morning at the symphony. My youngest son was now a senior captain on the JSerra cross country team, tall, independent, and fully versed in the ritual of purchasing trainers and flats.
I'm waiting for my wife to get her nails done. Thankfully, the Laguna Beach Brewing Company is just across the parking lot from the salon. So here I sit on a picnic table outside, "A Town Called Malice" — one of the great underrated 80s songs — playing on the outdoor speaker system. Today, it's an ironic term in that I feel anything but malice in this special town I call home. . . .
I am well aware of my introverted ways, of which solitude is a key component. When my oldest son was turning twelve and decided to skip his final year of Little League baseball, he agonized over the decision — not because he would miss baseball, but because he feared that I would no longer have any friends if I left the Little League coaching community. In time he came to understand that a lack of friends is not the issue, but the lack of a need for friends.
I won my bracket. . . . Thanks to an iffy last-minute foul — and a non-call — I win. As champion, our punishment is that the loser now has to chug a six-pack of the beer of my choosing. Our group numbers several grown men who have achieved considerable success in a wide variety of fields, [b]ut when it came time to select a penalty for losing the bracket, we all resorted to the residue of our college days.
Back when I first started writing for a living, it was common to write a new piece, print it out, place it in an envelope, and mail it to my editor. This was especially helpful when missing a deadline, because it was easy to blame the US Postal Service for being late. That all changed with fax machines, but there was still the handy excuse that the fax machine was out of paper or some such claim. . . .