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John Candy died on March 4, 1994, at the age of 43.

March 4, 2017.

In a previous newsletter, I discussed how few times I’ve left the country and how sort of embarrassed I am by it. My wife has been to Africa; she lived in Spain; she worked in England. I, meanwhile, went to baseball games in Canada a couple of times. But every year I get older, and, more to the point, every year I get deeper into life as a parent, it becomes more and more clear: My travel time has passed. I should have done all this shit years ago, because it sure ain’t happening now.

Rather infamously, I write every day and hate taking days off. The last scheduled day off I’ve taken at Sports On Earth, non holiday/weekend version, was November 2014. I come by this honestly. When my father retired, he had more than a full year’s vacation stored up, and he only had that little because during his last five years at Ameren, they kept making him take days off, actively telling him not to come in. (He usually popped by the office.) My mother is officially retiring as an ER nurse this fall, but in actuality, she’s retiring in a couple of months; she just has so much built-up vacation time that she can take three months “off” and still be on the payroll.

Those November 2014 days off were for an actual vacation, a trip Alexa and I took to Hawaii after the World Series that year. Hawaii is a very attractive place.


Careful of the Hazardous Cliffs, though.


For that trip, we flew our sons to Indianapolis from Atlanta, drove them to Illinois to hang with their grandparents, drove back to Indianapolis, flew back to Atlanta, got on another plane to Los Angeles, got on another plane to Honolulu, then hopped one final one to Kauai. We then did the same thing when we came home. The travel out there and back was so exhausting that you needed half the vacation to recover and the other half to prepare. So it’s perhaps not a surprise, when you combine my aversion to leisure time and the difficult of stashing children somewhere you’re not traveling to (we don’t have any family here in Athens to run them around), that we haven’t taken a vacation since then. We might try again this November — taking suggestions for good foreign destinations where the weather is pleasant in November — or in May 2018 when my wife hits a certain birthday, but we’ll see. There’s just a ton of moving parts.

But we do do one “vacation” a year, no matter what. We learned our first year in Athens that Spring Break in a college town means exactly that: Everybody gets the hell out of town, students, professors, families, everybody. This was initially exciting to us: All the restaurants and bars typically crammed with students — and all those horrible drivers who constantly almost hit me on my runs — would empty out, and we’d have the run of the town. Until we remembered: Another classification of people who exit over Spring Break is “babysitters.” Suddenly, we realized that Spring Break was the opposite of that for us. It was five days, right in the middle of a regular work week — my wife and I both work at home — in which the kids were going to be home all day and we had no one to get them out of our hair. It was unrelaxing, unproductive and unpleasant, for both us and the children. Someday, when they’re old enough and the younger one no longer requires a midday nap, we might go on a trip, or they might go on a Spring Break trip without us. But for now, we were all stuck in a house together, them with nothing to do and us with far, far too much.

So we figured it out. This year, for the third consecutive year, we are having what is typically referred to as a “Staycation,” though we don’t call it that because parenting makes you feel lame enough already. This Saturday morning, I’ll fly with the boys to Illinois, where we’ll all spend a day with my parents in Mattoon. Then, the next morning, I’ll fly back to Georgia, leaving them there. They’ll spend a week with Baba and G-Ma and Aunt Jill, going to museums and fishing and watching Illini basketball games and spending an evening in St. Louis so they can see Busch Stadium and the Arch. They’ll get to see the grandparents who desperately want to spend more time with them (and who someday may even move to Georgia for that opportunity), and vice versa.



Meanwhile, I will come back to Athens, and my wife and I will just ... live. We’re spending an evening in Atlanta, but other than that: We’re just working as usual. We’ll go out to dinner a couple more times than we would ordinarily, we might go play some tennis, I’ll probably stay up later drinking one or two more nights than I would in a typical week, but otherwise: It’ll just be our regular lives. Except with no children and no children’s needs. We just get to be normal people for a week. We spent last night hugging them and wrestling with them and having them jump on my head, because they are fantastic and we think they are the best.



But parents need breaks, and grandparents need grandchildren, and balance must be restored to the universe. At the end of the week, on Saturday, I will fly out to St. Louis, pick them up and fly them back with me. This is our one vacation a year. I should probably be more depressed that this is the best vacation either of us can imagine, but I’m really not. We love our children dearly, and we will miss them this week. Well, by Thursday, probably. Maybe Friday. Definitely by Friday.

Here is a numerical breakdown of all the things I wrote this week, in order of what I believe to be their quality. (This is an attempt to have an objective look at the value of my work in a way that I suspect will be difficult to sustain.)

1. Atlanta’s New MLS Team Offers the Excitement of Anticipation, Sports On Earth. I have way too much Atlanta United gear in my house right now.

2. The Most La-La Land Oscars Ever, The New Republic. This was the first movie-related thing I’d ever written on deadline like a sports story. It was the Patriots-come-back-against-Falcons of movie events.

3. Review: “Logan,” The New Republic. So many nerds are yelling at me about this negative review right now.

4. Conference Tournaments Mark the Beginning of the NCAA Tournament Madness, Sports On Earth. I will be paying a little bit too much attention to the Big South Tournament this weekend.

5. The AL East Could Be All About Sox-Yanks Again, Sports On Earth. I did not jinx David Price, stop looking at me like that.

6. The Dumbest Sports Stories of February 2017, Sports On Earth. Short month, still lots of dumb shit.

7. Your Way-Too-Early 2018 Oscar Predictions, The New Republic. Go Aronofsky!

8. MLB Players Who Stick With the Same Team Are Rare, Sports On Earth. Yadi forever.

9. Your 2017 MLB Jersey Buying Guide, Sports On Earth. This is the only thing I have disposable income for.

As I say every week: If you are the sort to subscribe to a weekly newsletter, I would have to think it wouldn’t be too much of a hassle to subscribe to one of the three podcasts I do. You don’t even have to listen to them! Just download them. Here they are:

Grierson & Leitch, we did a morning-after Oscars recap, and also looked at “Get Out,” “Se7en” and “The Deer Hunter.”

The Will Leitch Experience, Alyson Footer and I discussed politics in baseball, the World Baseball Classic, Tim Tebow and the AL East.

Waitin’ Since Last Saturday, next show is the day after Selection Sunday.

Let’s hope this trip to Bloomington, Illinois goes better than the last one. Have a great weekend, all.

GO. ILLINI.


Best,
Will