$Texas, Me Myself and Ty, Uncategorized

Life is a carnival

I used to hate Melvin Mora before I moved to Brownsville.

Yes, I soured on the Orioles’ highly paid third baseman after his numbers fell following the front office’s sweetening of the pot. From North Carolina it seemed like he was sandbagging after he got his big contract.

IMG_4003During the latter part of his time in Baltimore, I was hot on my streak of watching at least one Orioles game per season (which sadly ended in 2013) and each time I made the pilgrimage to Camden Yards, Mora came to bat while the same song played.

I heard the song occasionally outside of the stadium and each time I was reminded of his failure to produce, and I would wince. In truth, I have realized in hindsight that the fact that no one could replace Cal Ripken Jr. likely factored into this dislike, but the truth remains that reminders of Mora brought me no pleasure until I came to South Texas.

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DRIVEN, Me Myself and Ty

Driven: B-More…Why B-Less?

Due to some computer issues, I never got around to chronicling my Baltimore weekend before now. Below is my story:


My baseball mecca: Oriole Park at Camden Yards


Brought on mostly from my authoring of another post, I decided I needed to take a trip up north.

I referred to it in my head as a pilgrimage to my baseball mecca: Oriole Park at Camden Yards. I had been to at least one game in Birdland for the past four years and I wasn’t about to let my streak end so long as there was gasoline in my tank.

So I wrecked my already paltry IRA further and headed up north Oct. 1 about 8 a.m. Hard to believe, but yes I was up before noon for once.

Anyway, I had Facebooked ahead and gotten a lunch date with one of my best friends from high school, Jeff McCumber. He’s getting his Master’s degree at Wesley Theological Seminary in D.C., and with it being right on the way I decided it was too good of an opportunity to pass up, especially since I hadn’t seen him in four years.

So I headed to D.C. and met him at his dorm where, just before he came out to meet me I witnessed the bird bath you see to the right. I love little birds and these feathery puff balls were so cute, I had to get a few pictures.

Anyway, Jeff took me up to meet his girlfriend and see his brick-walled, Bob Marley shrine of a room where he showed me exactly where I’ll sleep when I visit next time. (Yes! A callback!)

We went to an Irish pub and ate and talked about girls and love and life, but it eventually turned into a game of naming obscure people from high school we hadn’t thought about in years and reminiscing about how much we hated and loved football practice.

Jeff had to get to a youth ministry camp later that afternoon, so our time was cut a bit short, but since the Orioles game from Thursday night had been postponed due to rain, I had a doubleheader to catch anyway, so it worked out perfectly.

Until Jeff showed me a shortcut. I followed him to I-495 South, where he called to inform me was the road I wanted, just in the wrong direction. He suggested I take an exit and loop around to head north toward Baltimore.

Okay…so if you’ve read anything from my Driven series, you know I like to drive. I pride myself on my sense of direction and my ability to drive backwards, but the following details the most stressful series of driving miscues I have ever experienced:

I took exit 45. Minutes later (At 4:01p.m.), I noticed a text message from Jeff instructing me to not take exit 45 because of its toll road. If only I had gotten on the toll road! I took the free road to the airport (D) where there were NO exits! I went through the airport parking lot, grabbed a parking ticket and breezed out no charge. Now I’m only 12 miles away from 495. No biggie.

But remember the airport road? It’s in the center of the toll roads like this:

|  ^  | ^
|  V |
(The bold indicates the free public airport road).

The exit for 495 northbound comes up, but you have to merge over to the toll road to take it. I missed the merge and continued down the road before turning around again.

Now I see the exit on the right that says “To I-495.” Boom. I took it. I’m on the way to Baltimore and I’ll still get to see the first game of the twin-bill (First pitch was scheduled for 4:35 p.m.)

By now, Jeff has already posted the following on my Facebook wall:

“So I watched you ride off into the sunset on a road I know you shouldn’t be on… oh good times good times… Today was a good day. Thank you again for going to lunch, and I hope you have a good time at your game…whenever….you…get….there…..”

That was at 4:41. At 4:50 I responded to his post that I had just reached I-495, just like I thought I did.

Man, I turned on some Jason Derulo and went into my driving zone. The wind through my hair with the top down: this was why I had wanted to do this solo road trip in the first place.

But then I felt something. It didn’t feel like I was going north. The road signs didn’t say anything about Baltimore.

A Google depiction of my route. Total distance traveled: 69.3 miles. Total time wasted: 1 hour 50 minutes.

Now to the voice in Ty’s head: “Wait…is that a toll road? I want to avoid that. Let’s take this exit to the airport…airport? WHAT. THE. FUCK.”

Yep, I was back on the road to Dulles International with no exits to change my route. This time I followed the road around the airport (See, I did adapt with new knowledge to avoid the parking lot line, at least) and headed back toward 495 AGAIN.

No big deal, right? I mean, yeah I’m getting stressed but all I have to do now is take that 495 North exit I missed the first time and I’m right back on track.

But it’s time to adapt some more. Last time I missed the exit because I wasn’t on the excitable toll road. Let’s get over there now to avoid missing it again.


So now I’m on International Drive, except not really. I’m stuck in standstill traffic on the ramp to get to International Drive, which is a road I know I don’t want to be on.

I fight through the traffic and manage to turn myself around again, but I’m done with Jeff and the Nav system and that horrible airport road. I took a look at my fancy phone map and discover Lewinsville Road, which seems to lead to a 495 junction. I took the road and finally, at 5:51 p.m. as evidenced by a Facebook post I sent to Jeff, I was on the right road to Baltimore…

I arrived at the park about 7:30 p.m. and walked in just in time to see the second pitch of the game. The ticket was just $6 with my student ID, so I was pretty happy.

I grabbed my customary crabcake sandwich and a beer and stood in right field to watch the first half of the game. I moved to centerfield (Eutaw Street Reserve) for a spell, then back to SRO before taking a seat right beside Nick Markakis in right field. The Orioles won, but my friend Kaitlyn who was supposed to meet me at the game was held up at work, so the game was a solo shot.

It was nice to just enjoy a baseball game by myself. Anyone who knows me well knows about my affinity for the sport and reverence for its traditions, so it was almost the fulfillment of my pilgrimage to simply sit and observe. I cheered and yelled and made snide remarks to myself still, but it was a tranquil and relaxing experience.

After the game (WE WON!) I hit the road back south to stay with Christine in D.C. After finding a Thomas Street in Alexandria, I went to Thomas Street in Arlington (The one she actually lives on). I slept in her room, mostly so I could blog that I slept in a room with a girl…and then awoke the next day to continue south to Rocky Mount where Taylor had a volleyball match.

They won in five sets and I headed west toward Raleigh for the N.C. State/Virginia Tech football game. I got there in time to see most of the second quarter and thus my solo road trip came to a two-touchdown loss end.

And so my pilgrimage was completed and the weekend will go down as one of my busiest, most traveled, most athletic event watching weekend in Ty Johnson history. Yay.

Me Myself and Ty

Just another day

That’s how my dad always referred to any non-family oriented holiday. This meant St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Day, Columbus Day…you name it…were all just days when mail delivery was questionable and some workplaces were closed.

It’s important to note that my dad is a fireman, so his schedule doesn’t take into account holidays. Idiots with dry, unwatered Christmas trees light them up with candles on Christmas Eve, Day and any other day of the holiday season, so in his line of work there isn’t really a day off.

It’s also important to note that he doesn’t drink, so these Cinco de Mayo-type excuses to get plastered on a weekday never appealed to him either, but I think more than anything he recognizes holidays where families come together. Christmas, Thanksgiving and a few family cookouts complete his recognized holidays, which brought me to the way I feel about my birthday.

It’s just another day.

I love birthdays, just not mine. It’s always so much fun to make a big deal about people on their birthdays and buy them presents and drinks, but on my birthday I can’t help but feel narcissistic.

People sing TO you…you can’t sing with them. I’m too self-aware to just let go and be pampered, so every year since I can remember I’ve found a way to get upset about my birthday.

I laid awake the night before my 16th, wondering if I would die. I was convinced God would never let me drive legally.

The night before my 18th, I laid awake knowing that any crimes I committed the next day could result in me being lethally injected…yeah it gets that dark.

The birthday, to me, is just a reminder of how far I haven’t come in so long. It comes with the territory of living within the same one-hour stretch of highway for your entire life…plus the knowledge that Maria Sharapova won Wimbledon at age 17.

But I did have one great birthday. Two, actually. One was my eighth. Cal Ripken Jr. was my favorite baseball player and I had seen him play just THREE games before he broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games streak in early September. His number, of course, was 8.

So my mom made a white, circular cake with orange baseball seams and an Orioles font 8 in the middle. Oh. My. Gosh. It was the best cake ever!

Fast forward 13 years to when I met Sonja Jones. Her birthday (March 12) is the best day ever, and if you don’t agree…well she doesn’t care.

Sonja learned of my disgust at my birthday and sought to change it. She arranged a day-long scavenger hunt that ended with my parents and all of my friends at a party complete with two replica cakes of my favorite birthday ever! (And, in a throwback to my Kate Nash post: Mouthwash defines this birthday in my head. Not because it was a Friday night, but because it was a Saturday night and I recall being drunk and singing it with the actual night tweaked in very loudly).

EDITOR’S NOTE: There was another Orioles cake produced by Kate Shefte, Ana Andruzzi and my friends at ‘Technician‘ last year on my birthday. Its significance was not lost on the author of this post, but the cake decorations were more coincidental than on his 21st birthday. Nevertheless, the cake should have been mentioned at this point, and the author failed to do so. It was delicious.

Of course 21 is a special birthday in the United States, but this one I set apart because of what it taught me: birthdays aren’t necessarily for those who celebrate them. Sometimes they’re for your friends.


Me with my two replica cakes courtesy of Sonja. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Fowler. Saturday, Oct. 11, 2008.


Sometimes it gives them a chance to spend money on you. Sometimes it gives them an excuse to get you drunk. Sometimes it’s just a time when they take a Facebook post and use it to show you they still remember you and cherish whatever friendship you have or have lost.

That’s why I like birthdays so much…I can celebrate someone for no other reason than their existence.

That’s when I realized that the truly narcissistic thing about a birthday is when you don’t allow OTHERS to make a big deal about it. Saying “It’s just another day” or posting a ridiculously long rant on your blog about how much you don’t care for your birthday is the selfish move. Acting like the U.S. Government decided to place Columbus Day on your birthday simply because Ty Johnson Appreciation Day is difficult to fit in a calendar square allows your friends the opportunity to make your day special. Not embracing a birthday is like refusing to accept compliments…nobody feels good about it.

So while I still hesitate to tell people about my birthday, I’ve come to appreciate it for what it is: an excuse to live one day like you would like to live every day.

For me that means I’m doing a lot of illegal parking and pushing a lot of yellow lights. Woo hoo!