Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Right about now, I'd love just one thing

Guest Post by Michael Ginsburg

Call me crazy, but I’d say it’s safe to assume that athletics have consumed a huge portion of my life. Whether it’s actually playing the sport or just having my mind on it, I’ve devoted an abundance of time and energy to the subject. Malcolm Gladwell, the man who coined the “10,000 hour rule” argued that it takes 10,000 hours for someone to become and expert at something. With this on my mind, I sat down and calculated that I have spent roughly 2,400 hours simply working on my basketball skills. While I would never consider myself an expert, I still view it as one of the longest withstanding, unwavering commitments I’ve ever made.
I remember when my Dad first told me that he signed me up for a basketball league. I was very young (young enough so that I was enjoying the painting at my sisters birthday party).  My entire family was there when my Dad broke the news to me. As the story goes (and pictures shows), I bawled my eyes out. I didn’t want to play basketball. The next thing I remember is my Dad teaching me how to make a layup (a landmark, really). I used to steal a pass, run down the court, stop, and shoot (and normally miss), thus, I learned the ever-so convenient layup.
            The next few years were blurry, but middle school came along and it was great. That’s where the chemistry started with our “dream team”. We all started on the “B” team where we were coached by two legendary men. The first was Brooks Lakin (the man who Park’s performance court is named after), who would drill us with defensive shuffling and sliding drills until we would drop to the floor. The next was Howard Jachman. Both, were truly amazing people who taught all of us life lessons. Coach Lakin passed away a few years after he coached us, and Coach Jachman at a young age a few years after. I had really become close with Howard, and I played with his initials “HRJ” written on one side of my shoes last year.
            When high school came around we killed it our freshman year. Defeating Mcdonogh in double overtime of the championship game was a highlight of my high school career. In high school the relationships I developed with coaches will last forever. I remember when one of my favorites, Josh Ackerman approached me before a big practice and told me that he may have testicular cancer. It rallied us as he made long bus rides with us amidst the pain and carried us through the playoffs. Something about sports creates this sense of unbreakable unification. Sports connect all kinds of people, because no matter who you are, if you love the game, we all have something in common.
However, it all quickly came to an end. After a hard fought 31 minutes, the buzzer sounded and Jake Max checked in for me. I took a long slow walk back over to the bench, head down—dejected. How could all of this end so quickly? Hours, days, and years all committed to this one game simply ended in a matter of minutes. Even more than that, it was the worst game I had ever played. Everything ended so quickly; and ever since, it’ll never be the same. I haven’t picked up a basketball in over a month. Something that was once the cornerstone of my life now plays no role at all. So, right about now, I could really use a little basketball. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Break Even

I’m back, and it’s not about extra letters this time (sorry). As his older brother, obviously I’m the biggest and most radical critic of Jake’s posts. However, as embarrassing and exaggerated as some of them are, his most recent really hit home. You know something has significance in your own life when you immediately empathize with it.
While Jake missed out on some dope outings we had before he got home, his attempts to create a sense of solidarity in a partially damaged group of friends were valiant, but mostly unsuccessful. While this post takes on a few points, the one I want to focus on is keeping in touch with old friends that are miles apart.
Jake lived 9 houses down from mine. From the days where we played Pok√©mon and I swung him around in my front yard, to when I froze him behind his house during freeze tag and subsequently ran home (leaving him there frozen) and ultimately when he joined me at Park, we’ve pretty much spoken every single day for at least 12 years. I remember when he whipped out his first cellphone (a krzr) at his bar-mitzvah luncheon (he looked dapper), seeing him roll up in his first car (a red Jetta, you can’t miss it) and when he got into Emory (a miracle, really). And, although our colleges are relatively close compared to the rest of our boys, we still only manage to communicate a few times a week.
When it comes to others, communication is even more infrequent. Regardless of what happened in high school, I firmly believe that communicating with people from home frequently is just a hard thing to do on a day-to-day basis. Although I don’t talk to some people as much as I’d like to/should, it just makes seeing them at home that much better. While Jake emphasized the pitfalls of his “tough break,” I’d like to do the contrary, convey the highlights.
Each time I have come home for break, I’ve found a new appreciation for someone from my days back in the 410. Some petty grudges have been revoked, while others withstand. It really helps you weed out who may actually remain a close friend of yours as the school days slowly draw to a close. While I believe that people do change, I haven’t seen much change in anybody, yet. It’s unfortunate that Jake didn’t get to experience this quintessential idea he had of winter break, but it’s not time for him to give up yet (although the submission of his Camp Androscoggin application makes it quite clear). Baltimore will be Baltimore, and the ‘Ville will be, well, you really have to see it for yourself. But at the end of the day, that’s what life is. Although it’s a harsh reality, it’s probably hit some sooner than others.
Each break has brought something new. New phrases are coined and memories are made. Hopefully all of the people you consider your “friends” will read these posts and have the same realization as you, Jake. They’ll learn to cherish these short but sweet breaks. They’ll learn that home will always be home, regardless of how settled in we all become at our respective schools. No matter how “out of pocket” you get, once you’re home it’ll all eventually go back to normal. Don’t give up just yet, Jake. People do change. Whether it’s for the better or worse is for you to determine.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Tough Break

            Admittedly, I was very excited to see my friends over winter break.  After a semester of homework, essays, and exams, I couldn’t wait to spend a few weeks with my friends from home.  Of course we would hang out by day and party by night—it was supposed to be awesome.
            A lot of my break was awesome.  I saw most of the people that I wanted to see.  I ate at a few of my favorite places and spent time with my friends that I hardly see anymore.  But coming home this December, it wasn’t quite the same.
            I didn’t return to Baltimore until December 27, because after taking the last scheduled final exam in the entire university, I went straight to Florida for a week to visit my grandparents and spend time with the rest of my family.  By the time I got back I was ready to go.  I called all of my friends to see what they were up to, but they had a party the last night and most of them didn’t feel like doing anything.  Nonetheless, a few of my buddies came over, and I was happy to be home.
            The next few days were pretty exciting; New Years Eve was a lot of fun and I enjoyed catching up with everyone.  Yet, by the beginning of January, I already had friends who were returning to their respective schools.  Others had yet to return from vacation.  The ones who were home were reluctant to make any plans.
            I didn’t understand.  I was finally home, but no one wanted to do anything.  Petty grudges and broken friendships from high school deterred the group from getting together.  When we were together, it just wasn’t quite the same.  I didn’t see one of my best friends for the entire break, because the only day that both of us were home, we also both happened to be busy.
            I talked to many of my friends and asked why all of a sudden it was so different.  No one had a great answer, but the consensus was that people change.  It’s not good or bad, people simply move on with their lives.  After all, we can’t live in high school forever.  So, instead of pleading with 14 freshmen in college to get together in one room I did the best I could.  I spent time with the people who wanted to spend time with me.
The last day that I was home, a bunch of the guys watched the Ravens game together.  We screamed and cringed as Ray Lewis and company brought home the 38-35 win over the Broncos.  When Justin Tucker nailed the game winning field goal and the victory was finally secured we dog-piled on the couch in celebration.  In the wake of that moment I was hit with nostalgia, knowing that in a few hours we’d all have to part once again.
There’s no doubt that I miss being home.  I miss the days when all of my friends lived a short drive away.  Back then, breaks were the only time I didn’t see everyone, and now they’re only time I even have the chance.  I try to keep in touch as best as I can, but distant schools and summer jobs make it all the more difficult.  In the end, it’s sad moving on, knowing that many friendships will remain, while some will undoubtedly be lost.