Stepping Out

This is going to be my last post on BeckySarwate.com for a few months. As readers who know me offline are aware, I’ve been contracted to write my first non-fiction book with friend, colleague and Lost in the Ivy author, Randy Richardson. We’re headed into the intensive drafting phase (at least I am – the always on top of things Randy is already six chapters in), so I have to step back from my baby here for a bit.

The book, with a working title of Cubservations, will be a collection of perspectives from high-profile fans about what it means to bleed Cubby blue. Naturally, the work was greenlit because in November 2016, the team permanently shed the Lovable Losers mantle and millions of long-suffering fans were granted a dream fervently nurtured, but scarcely imagined. When Randy, who has published multiple novels in his career, first told me about the project, I thought myself audacious in volunteering to serve as a reader. The moment I comprehended his offer to co-write remains frozen in time, an unbelievable, overwhelming flash of unreality.

Since April, supported by the solid research and detection skills of our own Brian Walsh, I have interviewed a collection of talents and personalities admired, in many cases, for decades. How is it possible that the weird, snaggle-toothed nerd who pored over fantasy league stat sheets with her father throughout the 1980s and 90s, a young girl who wept openly over Cub heartbreaks in 1984, ’89, ’98, 2003, ‘08 and ’09, would get to discuss 2016’s unbridled joy with the legendary Bob Newhart?  A combination of amazing fortune and most excellent taste in friends and collaborators.

The time for conversation with Mr. Newhart and others with whom I never imagined corresponding, is winding down. Now I must start organizing all of this rich material to tell the stories of these successful Cub fans – locals and transplants, genetic die-hards and rebels, believers and skeptics. It will be hard, rewarding work and I look forward to resurfacing when the book is ready for primetime.

In addition to expressing my gratitude to Randy and Brian for opportunities and support already amply given, it would be an egregious oversight not to recognize my fiancé. I said at the beginning of this post that it would be my last for a while. But I haven’t published to the blog section of this website since October 2016, not for lack of anything to say.

Today is Bob’s 37th birthday. And in just 17 more turns of the sun, the love of my life and I will marry in front of 32 of our dearest ones. For years I bled my feelings, struggles, tragedies and triumphs all over the Internet. I had to in order to survive. Writing my life was more than therapy. It was a guarantee that the story would be told and recorded, that I would not be forgotten across almost a decade of lost isolation. With word and reflection, I looked for the escape hatch from a vortex of bad decisions, health struggles and a continually shattered heart.

I’m not finished searching. I am not done with blogging. And those who know me away from the screen can confirm I’ll never have surfeit of oversharing. But I’m evolving, growing into a better woman and hopefully, a more stable, confident creative.

Nearly a year ago, Bob and I began intensive discussions about our future, our home and our time together. In tandem, I made an unconscious decision to reclaim a complicated, messy, busy and satisfying analog life. I continued writing about politics, sports and the Chicago theater scene. But it no longer felt necessary to process my relationships and trajectory via the World Wide Web. Instead I can turn around and talk to a smart, loving and loyal friend, who’s also, I might add, pretty to behold. The computer can’t compete with that.

Anyway, I’ll still publish the occasional theater review even as I shut down for what is certain to be a novice author’s anxious and exhilarating writing, editing and publishing process. And I’ll still have plenty of succinct commentary to share on Twitter and Facebook. In the meantime, Brian will keep the lights on here with regular Missing in Action updates.

I appreciate your constant support of this website and my journey as a writer. See you soon.

Cubs Post All-Star Hot Streak: Welcome, but Weird

“How about 9-2 since July 11? Sounds a lot better, doesn’t it? Looks and feels different too. Our cross-town rivals, The White Sox, were kind enough to part with starting pitcher Jose Quintana on July 13, and Q has quickly proven a valuable addition to the Cubbies’ bruised staff of hurlers. His July 16 debut at Camden Yards was verifiably historic, with Quintana fanning 12 batters over seven innings – without allowing a run. Holy Cow! A commanding announcement that the Epstein administration’s eye for the right talent at the right time remains unclouded.

The batting averages clearly have room for growth but Kris Bryant is leading the pack at a respectable .278 (at the time of publication). Wilson Contreras is the best catcher in baseball and in the middle of a red-hot hitting streak. Fan favorite Kyle Schwarber is back from a stint in the minors and crawling from the bottom. And the outfield is much better with a healthy Ben Zobrist and Jason Heyward.

Yes indeed Wrigleyville Nation. Things are looking up. The Cubs remain a half-game behind the first place Milwaukee Brewers, but have widened the gap considerably between themselves and the rest of the NL Central. Can we all just take a moment to savor a fourth-place Cardinals club (with all-due love to Dexter Fowler)?

As I mentioned in a Facebook post yesterday, I’m always elated to #FlyTheW. I’m certainly not looking for trouble. That said, and despite all the winning, there’s a few…curious variables at play. Some strange things are afoot with some of our key players that could impact current momentum. As wizened, sober residents of Wrigleyville Nation, we need to keep our eyes on the following…”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.

Cubs Give Fans the Greatest Gift: Time

cubs

“The Cubs’ first playoff match doesn’t happen until October 7. There are weeks left of the MLB’s regular season – 19 days of joyous, easygoing rest. The Cubs are the best team in baseball and with few exceptions, these guys are an endearing, likeable bunch. I’m just shy of middle age but well-read and acquainted with many a senior fan. There’s never been a better year to be a member of Wrigleyville Nation.

The playoffs and their requisite nail-biting, restless tension will be here soon enough. Let’s try something new, shall we Cub fans? Let’s enjoy the triumph and continue to embrace the target. There’s no reason to disregard Manager Extraordinaire Joe’s Maddon’s directive, stressing about events that haven’t yet occurred. I write these words for myself as much as the other anxiety-riddled citizens of Cubs Nation.”

Read the full post at Wrigleyville Nation.

Go Cubs Go? (July 29, 2009)

Drum roll please…this is our 101st post! I just became aware of this milestone as I sat down to the computer. On the one hand I can hardly believe I have found so many topics and occasions on which to blabber, and at the same time, I feel like I’m just getting warm. Sorry folks – Becky Boop is here to stay. My thanks to everyone has read along with Jen and I the last 7 months.

I have had a curious relationship with my favorite baseball team, especially this decade. Like that old friend who annoys you more than anything else, the one your husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner asks you why you keep around, and you don’t really have an answer? This friend only calls you when he/she is in trouble or needs to borrow something like your car, couch or money. They have no discernible ambition or skills and may still live with their parents. In short, they’re a royal pain in the ass, always taking and never giving. But somehow you just can’t seem to let them go. They’ve been in your life forever and you don’t know what it would look like without them.

So it is with me and the Cubbies. We quarreled badly at the end of the 2008 season. Or rather, I was left in shock in my living room, clutching myself to quiet the shivers and wiping my tears as another false promise was made from April-September. I will not rehash what went down. It was tragic.

When Spring Training 2009 rolled around, the familiar murmurs of the Cubs being “loaded with talent,” began. I tuned them out. I would not be fooled again. I kept the team at arm’s length, the way you avoid hugging or kissing your Mom when she drops you off somewhere to hang out with your friends. You know she’s there and you love her. You’re just too embarassed to acknowledge her. “Talent nothing!,” said I. Bah! If the Cubs could finish with a 97-64 record last year, make history by tying the record for the most All-Stars on any one team, watch Big Z throw his first no hitter, and still get swept in round 1 of the NLCS? Phooey. I will believe no more.

And it seemed I was on the right track. The Cubs woefully underperformed before the All-Star break this year. Injuries, the returning suckiness of Fukodome, the shittiness of big name pickup Milton Bradley, and worst of all, the seemingly hapless attitude of Big Lou. I felt smug in my aloofness, smiling wickedly and knowingly at the twinkling ballpark lights I can see from my living room.

I have three acquaintances who shall remain nameless (my father, Theresa and my trainer Rob). These individuals have tried to sell me their theory that last year the Cubs crumbled under the weight of high expectations. After their humiliating exit from the first round of post-season play, the bar is set so low this year. Wouldn’t it be just like the Cubs to sneak up and take it all now? It’s a nice thought but I just don’t associate the North Side team and winning, no matter how perverse the circumstances might be. I snickered at these people. Fools.

And yet this week, I have become aware of an unconscious stirring in my breast. The month of August is upon us and the Cubs appear to be in the division race. As of the time of this posting, they are in a dead heat with the St. Louis Cardinals. Dammit. There was an exciting game this week, which ended in a walkoff grand slam by the not-good-often-enough Alfonso Soriano. Double dammit. Because, somehow, though I thought I was enjoying the view in my lofty tower, I have begun to care again. I am being sucked in.

Do not accuse me, as you might, of being a fair weather fan returning to the fold in times of calm. I have sat through many a game, live and on TV, happily during years of mediocrity. I just can’t tell you how bad I wanted it last year, and how much I truly believed it was going to happen. I worked it up in my head that 2008 would be the best year ever because Obama would be our new president, and the Cubs would win the World Series. I was left to console myself with 50-50. Can I really put my heart on the line again?