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Cobb County Braves

November 11th, 2013

Turner Field

I don’t think when I posted a spiel about Braves baseball at the beginning of this past season that they would have an offseason like this. I’m amazed that all of this happened so quietly, not a peep was given in the press, and everyone seemed surprised. The Atlanta Braves are now moving to a new stadium 10 miles away from my house. I’m conflicted.

On one hand, I’m one of those people. The very people that ITP’ers sneer at and the very people that the Braves want in their games. I live in the northern suburbs and I have no interest in driving downtown on a weeknight to go to a Braves game. I’m one of the people in the dark red part of this map that shows a red dot for every Braves ticket purchased last year. I wouldn’t go downtown for a Tuesday night game, but Cumberland? Well, that’s a different story, I can be there in 20 minutes and home from a game before 11:00 PM. I’ve read some complaints about how the Braves are leaving a stadium only 17 years old, but this isn’t about the stadium, this is all about where it is located.

On the other hand, I’m not sure how a congested area is going to handle additional traffic. Atlanta has terrible public transportation, the reasons are many and varied, and it was terrible at Turner Field and it will be terrible at the new location in Cumberland. I don’t understand how it’s going to be easy to get to or get out of a game. I also don’t know how a feel about pulling part of the soul of the city out of downtown and moving it out. Yes, it’s only 13 miles up I-75, but there was something special about that view looking out on the skyline from behind home plate. At the new stadium? Maybe you’ll see the skyline off in the distance? I am very concerned about the area around Turner Field, which was pretty impoverished already. I assume they will tear down Turner Field, which is useless now, but what fills the vacuum in an area that no one already wants to go to?

Objectively, the whole thing makes a lot of sense for the Atlanta Braves. Baseball has, for better or worse, become an increasingly suburban sport so it makes sense to go to the suburbs where the fans are. The Braves are leaving a lot of money on the table when they have a nearly empty stadium on a Tuesday night in August. Also, for the large part of the Braves fanbase, nothing really changes. For the people that live all across the southeast and come to one game a year I don’t know that it makes much of a difference if they travel to Cumberland or Midtown. Despite all of this though, I can’t shake the feeling that it is going to be an awful experience traveling on I-285 during rush hour on a Tuesday night in August (it’s already terrible.)

A couple things I do know for sure. One, I’ve been saying for a couple years that we need to take the girls to a game at Turner Field and now I absolutely must do it before time runs out. Two, you can bet that I’ll check out a game at this new stadium. This whole thing is ridiculous, but sports are as a whole ridiculous. I’m just along for the ride. Along with the ridiculous stadium that the Atlanta Falcons are getting, why not add a ridiculous stadium for the Braves? We don’t really do “old”, “historic”, or “traditions” here anyways.

Happy 39

November 4th, 2013

Tech Tower

I’ve developed a habit of having some pretty awesome, amazing, epic birthday weekends and they are almost always unplanned, they just seem to happen. This year was no different. The week started off a little stressful with a work deadline to meet but Halloween night, while the girls were out trick-or treating I was handing out candy at the door and wrapping things up. That cleared the decks for the weekend so I didn’t have any work issues to worry about.

Adriene left on Friday to drive up to North Carolina to meet some of her friends for a weekend to celebrate our friend’s last chemo and radiation treatment. We are so excited for her that she has fought a hard fight this year and it looks like she is emerging the victor. However, that meant I was on my own for my birthday. Adriene even protested a little when invited for the weekend, “but that’s Jeff’s birthday” and Alisa replied, “tell Jeff I had cancer.” Well then. No matter, my girls and I went out for dinner (they insisted on something “fancy” for my birthday and I suppose Macaroni Grill counts as fancy, at least in their minds) and then on Saturday we drove out to visit my parents. I left the girls with my parents and went downtown for Homecoming at Georgia Tech. I’m glad I arrived early as I had time to visit with old friends, some I hadn’t seen in several years, and also wander around campus to take photos of all of buildings that have changed so much since I was in school. The game was pretty exciting as well as Tech won a hard fought game over Pitt. Sunday was fun as well as we visited my parents’ church and enjoyed a potluck lunch that reminded me of so many lunches at church during my childhood. Also, the girls spent large amounts of time outside in the incredible weather, which makes everybody happy. They even slept in to a decent time when we fell back an hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time. If that isn’t a birthday gift right there, I don’t know what is.

So, here we are a year short of 40. My mom insists the forties are much better than the thirties and I’m inclined to believe her. I used to post a lot about how difficult life had become during the first years of having babies and then toddlers, but the last couple years I can definitely feel the slow easing off of difficulty as they get older. I had the girls to myself for the last two weekends and it is noticeably less tiring than two or three years ago and there are so many more laughs and jokes now.

I love these epic birthdays and I love that they seem to come out of nowhere. I also love how they set up Thanksgiving and Christmas as the year begins to wrap up. The 40th birthday has a lot of work to do to live up to these last few birthdays.

My photos from Homecoming and the football game are on Flickr for your perusal.

Blue Jean Sky

September 11th, 2013

The cherry tree in our front yard has already lost all of its leaves. It is always the first tree to bud flowers in the spring and lose leaves in the late summer. Like me, it is always too eager to finish off winter and summer and get a start on spring and fall. I can’t blame it. I’m not going to use all of the cliches about fall (one of the funnier retweets going around Twitter this past week: “If you look in a mirror and say ‘Pumpkin Spice Latte’ three times, a white girl in yoga pants will appear and tell you all of her favorite things about fall.”) but if you know me, you know how much I love this time of year.

I don’t know why the weather is always so spectacular on September 11 here in Atlanta, but it seems like it always is. We say “Never forget”, but it’s hard to forget about that day twelve years ago when it feels just like that day outside. September is always a month that is both a little somber and filled with a little anticipation. Everything is about to start moving a little faster at the end of the year.

The title of this post is from Over the Rhine’s new album Meet Me At The Edge of The World

I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry, and I Love You

September 3rd, 2013

We have become experts at being outraged. There is an entire industry making money off of making you outraged. Outrage is an easy response to all of the wrong in the world and there are plenty of things wrong. However, it is much harder to say “I was wrong, I’m sorry, and I love you.” and admit that maybe we too are a part of the problem. This is where we find Derek Webb, now ten years deep into a solo career after a successful career as a member of the band Caedmon’s Call. Around 2002, Webb quietly started distancing himself from his CCM machine about to release another album and entered the scene on his own with She Must And Shall Go Free The album was Webb’s observations on a church culture that needed reorienting and release from an intertwining of material cravings.

Now, looking back on that initial album, Webb has returned back to speak to the church again, perhaps a little humbled and bloodied from fighting a battle on many fronts. The last few albums have worked further and further out onto some shaky limbs accompanied by distorting melodies and dissonance in the sound. It’s not necessarily that Webb was straying into extremes, despite what some bloggers would tell you, but that it was more and more challenging to listen to his works. This is not such a bad thing as I thought the CTRL/SOLA-MI combination was a powerful commentary on our growing addiction to social network and one of his best pieces of artistry yet.

At some point however, the rubber band has to snap back and Webb has realized he needs to give some reassurance to his longtime listeners and also his vocal critics that he’s “Closer than you think” So, just as Stockhholm Syndrome was a jarring sound from his previous works, this album can be a little jarring as well, dropping layers and layers of sound to give more straightforward major tones and melodies. In some ways the album incorporates bits and pieces of previous work, the title track is a retrospective of him looking back on his career and is the thesis of the album. From there, he continues with some themes of reassurance with “Lover Part 3″, the third part of what Webb came to realize later was a trilogy of songs about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

“Heavy” is a confessional where Derek gets more personal than he has in many albums, but before the listener has a chance to get dragged down “Everything Will Change” is an appeal to drop cynicism and apathy. I particularly liked this song, “it’s hard to keep showing up…”, but the hopeful message is that ultimately everything will change and every sad thing will become untrue.

The album loses a little steam for me at this point, but it starts to ramp back up with “The Vow” which a beautiful statement on a marriage that’s been together for enough years to not be new anymore, but still have a long way to go and then Webb follows that up with a tender song about his wife, Sandra McCracken with “Your Heart Breaks In All The Right Places.”

As someone who loved the density and challenge of Webb’s recent works, I’ve had a little difficulty getting into an album with less to peel back and uncover. Upon further listening though, there is plenty to reward the listener here with each repeat and Webb’s voice has never been better. It’s a most welcome self-reflection that allows reflection into my own life. I’ve spent enough time in my own life making judgments about other people’s life choices and making divisive statements in public places like Facebook and Twitter. Perhaps now it’s time to start mending some fences, admitting I don’t have all the answers, and telling more people that I love them.

Dear Wilderness, be at your best

August 6th, 2013

With all of the rain we have had here in Atlanta and with school starting tomorrow, it feels as if we really didn’t have a summer. Even so, we managed to squeeze in a couple summer vacation trips. We spent a week with Adriene’s parents in Myrtle Beach with trips to the beach, a baseball game, water parks, and even a short visit with friends. This past weekend, sensing that school was looming like a shadow over us, we did a quick trip to Chattanooga to play in the Children’s Museum, go to the Aquarium, and even do the touristy ride up the Incline railroad to the top of Lookout Mountain.

Now, time has run out and delay as we might, it’s time to transition to a new phase of life. Tomorrow the girls begin Kindergarten at the “big school.” We’ve been dropping them off at Pre-K for years now so this shouldn’t feel like such a big change, but it does. We’re going from letting them play in the kids pool to swimming in something deeper and it’s no surprise we’re a little apprehensive.

When Adriene was pregnant one of the songs that went through my head a lot was Sleeping At Last’s “Umbrellas” and the line “You were meant for amazing things” kept resonating through my head as we waited with all of the imagined potential of what our daughters would be. Now, another song keeps going through my head by Sleeping At Last. In “Wilderness”, Ryan O’Neal begs the unforgiving world “though it goes against every grain of your sand, like turning wolves into lambs, be your best for her.” We are prepared the start a new world, but we’re asking, please, dear wilderness be at your best.