Sunday, April 6, 2008


For baseball enthusiasts that has meaning.

It stands for "Hit By Pitch." Something that hitters take pride in and pitchers are ashamed of.

Currently I am reading "The Brothers K." A book mainly about family, religion, life, and baseball. Recently I was reading a section where the main character was talking about his dad (a pitching phenom) and one of the first times he remembered seeing his dad plunk someone. He went on to describe how painful it can be for the hitter, etc.

This sparked my thoughts and made me think of one of the most ridiculous, but yet unbelievably respectful and unforgettable thing my brother Jeff has ever, and will ever, do. To premise this story I will say that HBP's were something that Jeff was always a team leader in and always took extreme pride in.

My senior year of high school of baseball Jeff was an assistant coach. After about the first week of games he noticed something about all of our hitters. We were jumping out of the way of possible HBP's. One random practice he gathered the entire team at home plate and sent one of our hardest throwing pitchers to the mound and our catcher to the plate. He told the pitcher to throw at him. Not a person there knew what he was doing and wondered if he was possibly insane (which I'm pretty sure he is). He went on to describe to us that there is an easy way to get hit, etc, etc. The pitcher, reluctantly, threw a pitch right at him. Jeff turned his shoulder, arched his back, and took it right in between the shoulder blades. The entire team grimaced and couldn't believe what they were seeing. After the crowd settled he had the pitcher do it again, and once more after that.

After that day, no one on the team ducked or jumped out of the way of an inside pitch again. And I can guarantee that everyone on that team remembers that moment just as vividly as I do. Understandably so.

Cheers to you, Jeff.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Welcome to Real Life

Well the past few weeks I received a full dose of real life.

Real life where people don't necessarily care about you. Real life where business decisions need to be made. Real life where hit and runs happen. Real life where life can take a 180 degree turn at any second. Real life where 20 teenagers have been shot and killed in the city since the beginning of the year. Real life where just under 50% of African American teens have STD's.

For those of you who know me understand that one of my flaws is that I focus on the negative. Just to let you know, I'm getting better. I don't mean to give you all that bad news but thats what is on my mind right now.

Also, for those of you who know me probably already know I was laid off about 2 weeks ago. Myself and about 5 others. I will spare you of details but I obviously think I was given a raw deal but understand that sometimes things need to happen. It's a bit humbling. It took me two weeks to even think about putting this on my blog. But hey, it happened and I can't do anything about it (can you believe those words came from me). I never knew things we're out of my control!!!! ha, just kidding.

The other things that I mentioned earlier were fresh on my mind because of a church service I was at this weekend. It was at St. Sabina. A largely popular church on Chicago's south side with a very controversial pastor that, much to my chagrin, definitely DIDN'T separate church and state. This pastor is very involved with attempting to cut down crime in Chicago (possible??). He shot out some statistics that seem crazy. 20 teenagers have been shot dead already this year in the city alone!!!!!!! WHAT??? Also, almost half of teenage African American teens have STD's. Ridiculous. Where are we failing? Parents, schools? I blame parents first.

Some other news: Katie and I are moving to San Diego. Don't know when, not sure how, do know why, not exactly sure where. But, we're going. Katie was accepted into grad school. Needless to say, I am looking for jobs. I need a job. Housing prices>My Income. The sad part about me being "let go" is that I enjoyed what I was doing. I think my ideal job out in Cali would be leasing apartments for an up-scale apartment community. However, I am an open book. I am open to anything.

6...................Can anyone guess what that number is??? I bet you wouldn't guess "number of jobs Mark has had in Chicago in a matter of 6 months." Yeah, thats right, I am now going on my sixth job since moving to Chicago:
1: NCSA-Scouting/recruiting job.
2: The Homestead Group-Leasing apartments.
3: The Enterprise Companies-Part-time leasing.
5:Amundson High School- Assistant Varsity Softball Coach. Don't ask......
6: Wills- Bartending.

The last four I am doing all at once.


Thursday, March 13, 2008

60 Degrees

Today was my day off and it couldn't have landed on a better day. I was able to get a glimpse of why Chicago summers are so great (from my short experience and from what I've heard).

My buddy Scott called me and wondered if I wanted to join him on a bike ride. I was reluctant because it was my day off and I tend to want to sit around on my butt as much as possible. After he showed, and after I saw the sun streaming into my living room I had to take him up on the offer. We biked down to the beach and took a ride south to Navy pier where we found a spot to sit and chill in the sun for about 45 minutes. People were scattering the lake shore. Walkers, bikers, and runners came out of the woodworks. Everyones face was a little more red and and breathing patterns were a little more heavy. Definitely including mine! I had a hard time keeping up with Scott at a few points but I was fine.

Today makes me wonder how I will survive a job that requires me to work weekends.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"Boy's Town"

Just recently I experienced a little bit of the gay district in Chicago. One of my co-workers turned 24 and Katie, myself, and Katie's roommate Allison met a bunch of people from my office at a "gay" bar/restaurant. I hadn't been to any of the restaurants in this area since I have been in Chicago and didn't really know what to expect. It turned out to be a great night. Funny enough, there were more straight single women than gay men/women. I talked to my gay co-worker about that and he said that its pretty normal to find a TON of girls at these places because they do not feel threatened. I do not blame them.
The joke around the office was that I wouldn't come because I am slightly "homophobic." The more I thought about that it bothered me because I am supposed to love everyone. Jesus did. I think Jesus would have gone and hung out with the gays. That doesn't necessarily mean I agree with the lifestyle but I can't say much because there are things about my lifestyle that don't really bode very well either. So, I went and had fun. It's not like this was some life changing event for me but I just think there is a lot to say about how we as Christians sometimes separate ourselves from the rest of the world. We are all equal distance from the cross. It doesn't matter if we constantly take part in gossip, live a gay lifestyle, or if we murder someone. I guess this is my opinion but whatever. Sorry to whoever is reading if you don't wanna hear my opinion!
Anyways, this makes me think of a song by a great singer/songwriter: Martin Sexton

"What about Jesus
Didn't he do it too?
Hang out with prostitutes
And have a drink or two.
Power of example
My mama said it and I heard
She says one ounce of action
Beats a ton of words."

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Schools and Weddings

I've got more quick news for everyone out there:

1: Katie was accepted into yet another school, in Chicago. The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

2: My childhood friend Joe Westra recently became engaged to his long-time gf, Keri Kingma. Congrats.

Today, is my day off and I am enjoying it greatly.

As for experiences in Chicago......hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm. Nothing too exciting but I'll make sure I have a story soon.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Grad Schools and Such

This is more of an update for everyone about Katie.

Recently she was invited by the Boston School of Professional Psychology for an interview into the Masters program. Her flight and hotel are booked and she is taking off this weekend for an adventure, by herself, to the east coast.

Also, she was invited for an interview by "Alliant." This is a similar professional school of psychology in........wait for it..................San Diego. So, as of now the list of potential destinations for Katie and I is Boston, Chicago, or San Diego. Awesome.

On my end, things are going well. I am enjoying the new job but it has presented some stress that I wasn't prepared for. I guess you never know what your gonna get.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

City Experiences

Well, I received a suggestion from a reader that they would like to hear more about my city experiences.

The first thing that comes to mind is the fact that I moved down here in the middle of August and already am on my second job. Changing jobs that quick is weird to an extent but the fact that I somehow ended up renting apartments?!?!?!?! I hardly even know this city and I am driving people around in my car pretending that I know exactly what I'm doing. To me, that is kind of ironic. People wonder how long I've lived in the city or how long I've been renting apartments..... My response? Something along the lines of"Long enough," or "quite a while." Which, to some, could seem like a lie but I don't think so. As any salesman knows you learn to stretch the truth or say certain things that are by no way a lie. If I told a client that I just got this job and have absolutely no clue what I'm doing, they would retreat. I know I would. I tell people about how cool the neighborhoods are and what restaurants are good. This is because I have heard they are cool and good, not because I have experienced them first hand. Call me a liar. I don't mind.

How is the city from Katie's experience right now? A good way to sum up the way she feels about the windy city is, surprised. She has had some horrendous experiences with the public transit. Now she has her car and is realizing how absolutely ridiculously difficult they make it on drivers.

Funny city experience of the day: I drove a client to 2 properties today and had absolutely no idea where I was going the entire time. Needless to say, he didn't rent. Do not worry loved ones, that doesn't happen a lot. I am learning the city extremely fast.


Dark Maniel