Tuesday, July 31, 2012

92 hours and counting...

We're Megabussing (if that isn't a verb, it is one now) it to New York for a very long but still whirlwind day Saturday. I mean it-- we arrive at 5am and depart at 10pm for a 1pm game.

There is a method to this madness- I never feel like I have enough time in that oh-so-big city, plus (and even more importantly) I'm hoping to mitigate the inevitable pain from visiting Yankee Stadium by doing a few fun things. Nick was a HUGE Yankees fan in addition to his devotion to the Pirates. Yes, he was somehow able to maintain simultaneous fandom for a pair of polar opposite teams. It may have been my fault- well before he became a fan, I bought him a Yankees hat as a souvenir on a high school trip. And the obsession grew from there- including some ill-advised accessory choices.

So two years ago, when Megabus came to Pittsburgh and made such a trip semi-affordable on my teeny grad student budget, I took him to New York so he could finally see a Yankees game at Yankees stadium. It was a trip on the extremely cheap- think hostel on 103rd and eating cheap pizza cheap- but he actually hugged me when I told him we were going. It was cool because we did some things on our own- I hit MOMA & Chinatown, he did the Intrepid & the game- and it worked out perfectly. Then.

Of course, now I regret not going to that damned game with him in ways I can't begin to express. Which is why I really need that cushion to do lighter, more fun things-- because I'm already in tears, and I have no idea how I'm going to bear being in the vicinity of that stadium, let alone watch that game.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Special delivery!

Look what the UPS guy just delivered-- Yankees tickets! Because apparently Will Call isn't an option for US billing addresses (but it is for Canadian billing addresses), the regular mail option takes 10-14 business days to print (oddly enough, half that for Canadians), and I have to have the real tickets like Nick, I paid another $16 to have them shipped.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Now batting fifth, the New York Yankees

It's a little hectic in my life right now.  Weekend before last, I was in Pittsburgh.  This weekend, we had Baltimore (and Batman) business, with a day trip to Philadelphia.  This coming weekend, we're doing a quick trip to Rhode Island on the super cheap.  And two weekends after that, we're in Pittsburgh (well, Butler) for the Bantam Jeep Festival.

Which meant that, when looking at the calendar, our window for squeezing in a New York game-- either Mets or Yankees-- was closing fast.  So I ordered Yankees tickets for August 4th today.  Less than two weeks away from what's arguably the second most important stop after PNC Park in terms of Nick's baseball fandom.

And I just ordered Mets tickets for September 22.  I think that'll be the last game of the season, and officially put me at 1/5th of the way through... of course, that was the easiest 1/5th because it's literally the 6 closest teams, all but Pittsburgh doable as a day trip.  The remaining 24 teams are going to require a lot more planning, a lot more coordination, a lot more vacation time, and frankly, a lot more money with travel and hotel on top of tickets.  Using Megabus could help with the midwest swing, but I still need to start saving and budgeting for airfare and the like for next year.  Years.

Ugh.  Time to start evaluating hostels and similar options for travelling on the cheap.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Squeeze play?

We're gonna need a bigger shelf.  Only four parks in, and my O's crab is getting crabby for lack of space.

Citizens Bank Park

Today was a strange day-- the first time visiting a park I probably wouldn't have ever visited in the normal course of things were it not for this little endeavor.  The resultant emotions were a bit... heady.

We managed to leave our apartment in the west Baltimore suburbs (in Unfinished Business World Tour shirts, natch), make a fuel and breakfast stop, marvel at the tolls on 95, get gassed by the chemical plants in Delaware, let me breathe a hesitant sigh of relief at being in my native state (though on the wrong side), and managed to get to the park by 11am-- a full two-and-a-half hours prior to game time.  Which was okay-- we snagged a decent parking space and had plenty of time to scope out the place-- including the giant inflated Phanatic outside.

It was a little tricky to get a picture with the inflatable and NOT the insides of our nostrils.  And I kind of like how he's standing on R's head.  Sadly, we didn't encounter the real Phanatic in the stadium, either (he didn't seem to make the same kind of random appearances as the Pirate Parrot or the Presidents in DC), so we made do with his cardboard doppleganger.

The park was nice enough, though even pricer than Nationals park.  I'm not sure Nick ever got to visit this one.  The last time he-- or I-- were in the city proper was in 2004 for my Jeopardy! tryout.  I remember that he took a ride out to see it, but I don't think he actually saw a game there.

Note that this was NOT the view from our seats.  Contrary to popular belief, being a humble civil servant doesn't pay nearly that well.  Our seats were waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay up high, in the topmost, lastmost, highestmost row in the park.  The actual view was more like this

And this

Definitely nosebleed seats, but not too bad all things considered.  And even better, we were under the cover in the shade and benefited from the near-constant breeze.  One thing that was a little weird was the complete lack of real soft pretzels-- all we saw were the same Super Pretzels that are in every ballpark, which was definitely odd for Philadelphia.  But we did find the "Pennsylvania Dutch" funnel cake concession, so we managed to get some kind of local flavor.  All in all, not too bad a day at the ballpark despite  my heavy heart.  But because we both have work tomorrow, we had to leave in the 9th (the Phillies eventually managed to scrape out a W in the 12th). 

I'm wrapping this up on a cutesy note, because I really can't share what R did on Nick's behalf in Philadelphia in this forum.  It's just our little secret, but I think he would have made Nick proud.  Or at least laugh.  We made pretty good time heading home, so we made a quick pit stop in Havre de Grace, to see the tiniest most adorable lighthouse on the Chesapeake.  

Look where we are today

Stop #4: Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia. Let's see if I can get out of the city a little less battered than the last time I was here...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Next in the lineup....

Well, it took forever (and three failed order attempts) but I finally got the Phillies tickets reserved.  We'll be there this Sunday, July 22 in section 427.  Yeah, I know, crappy seats.  But despite popular belief, federal workers aren't paid that well.

I'm not sure how much of it is big huge new job with big huge learning curve and big huge new responsibilities (and the accompanying stress), or the big huge new life changes that involve a big huge boyfriend moving in (and the accompanying stress), or what, but things have certainly been a little rough lately with respect to big huge reminders of Nick (like the day my mailbox contained both the Civil War journal I now receive thanks to my donations in Nick's honor AND a Central Blood Bank postcard with his face on it), upsetting nightmares, and so on.

I mean, there have been a few really great developments in my life, but in this corner?  Things just continue to suck, and I don't know how they'll ever get better.  I desperately wish he was there to call, to bullshit about the Pirates performance as of late and how long this apparent miracle will last.  To see what he thinks about JoePa's fall from grace (the guy he frankly always felt was inappropriately idolized), about the campaigns (always funny when you actually got him to express a political opinion), about The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises and to crack wise about the Megadeth/ Rob Zombie show (and the, um, interesting audience).  It just... sucks that I never get to hear his voice, hear him crack wise, argue with him, have a mundane I'm-bored-and-stuck-in-traffic call or anything again.  I know I'm lucky to have someone willing to handle what's hiding in the mailbox when I simply can't handle it, to be goofy or as supportive as he can, and to hold my hand each time I walk into a baseball stadium and the tears start.  But it doesn't stop it from sucking, or mean that my grief has truly lessened in any way.

So, anyway.  Stop number 4 will be Citizens Bank Park on Sunday.

Ballparks left to visit: 25