Shortness of breath

red and white signage

Photo by Anna Shvets on Pexels.com

I took my bike out this morning. I live at the bottom of one of Manhattan’s few hills, and before I got to the top, I found myself huffing and wheezing.

For the fifth or sixth time in the last two weeks, I became convinced I had the ‘rona. I started scheming on how I might quarantine myself from my wife, who works in a hospital, and considering options for childcare for our toddler. But by the time I got to Central Park, I realized I was breathing easier.

I don’t think I have COVID-19. I think I’m just out of shape.

I have no unique insight into the pandemic sweeping my home city and much of the planet. My wife does, but it’s not mine to share, and she prefers I keep her out of my digital nonsense. If you’re looking for useful information about the coronavirus, you’ve come to the wrong place. Obviously.

But I do have a heck of a lot of experience spending time alone in my apartment, and it strikes me that a whole lot of people are currently adjusting to spending time alone in their apartments. And if I have any marketable skills whatsoever, they include the ability to entertain bored people from the confines of my home with only the use of my laptop and an internet connection.

I started this site in August of 2009 in part because I worked in an area of the SNY office that was otherwise empty for most of every workday. I was lonely, and writing here helped me connect with other bored, hungry Mets fans looking to kill time at work. (For a while, I think, TedQuarters could boast one of the internet’s very best comments sections — not because it was ever the most active, but because it was reliably insightful and respectful and hilarious and fun — and I don’t know that anything I’ve done professionally has ever been quite as satisfying as helping to cultivate that small but generally excellent online community.)

mona lisa with face mask

Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

As the primary caregiver for a delightful but predictably dependent 2 1/2-year-old, I can’t often say that I’m bored anymore. And I feel like raising a child is a defensible thing in practically any situation.

But at the same time, I don’t feel good about the idea of entirely sitting this shutdown out when basically the only thing I know how to do might now, in some way, offer some value to someone somewhere. This is my paltry contribution to this war effort, my post-9/11 American flag cake: Starting today, and running until either a) baseball comes back or b) the virus renders it impossible or c) my kid stops napping reliably or d) it becomes clear that no one at all is reading, I’m going to post something fresh here every weekday to help distract you and me both from the horrors happening around us.

It’s not much. I can’t put toilet paper on your shelves or money in your pocket or certainty in your future, but maybe I can help you think about something other than those things for, like, 10 minutes a day. That’s obviously presumptuous — who the hell do I think I am? — but it’s also therapeutic for me, and the site’s called TedQuarters.

I haven’t published anything anywhere since the last post on this site in October, but my understanding from some baseball-writer friends is that they see some backlash to anything they put out that’s not about COVID-19. I understand the sentiment, but I strongly disagree with it. Same goes for something I read in the N.Y. Times recently (and can’t find now) arguing that fiction writers shouldn’t write coronavirus-themed fiction until after the pandemic is over, if then.

I don’t think anyone gets to tell anybody what they can make or when they can make it, as long as it’s not hurting anybody else. Picasso started painting Guernica four days after the bombing of Guernica. Did no one say, “too soon?”

If you don’t want to read about baseball right now, don’t click on Eno’s stuff. If you don’t want to read fiction about pandemics, don’t read fiction about pandemics. What difference does it make to you if it exists? I’m not interested in math metal at this stage of my life, but I’m not tweeting at Meshuggah to tell them to stop.

Which is all to say: If you don’t want to read about random shit I find online, sandwiches, or cargo shorts, don’t visit TedQuarters.net. If you are, then by all means, come on by. As I referenced, I’m aiming to do most of the writing in the early afternoons while the boy naps, so you can probably expect to see something new by about 3 p.m. every day. I can’t imagine I’ll write much about the virus, but I also can’t imagine avoiding it entirely, given the grip it has on all our attention right now.

I’d be surprised if I write a whole lot about baseball, seeing as there are hundreds of employed baseball writers putting out good baseball content despite the complete absence of baseball right now. But, hey! Maybe some of that content will be so compelling as to suck me back in.

If you’re curious what I’ve been up to since I left USA Today in August and lost on Jeopardy! in September, it’s not terribly interesting: I’ve been mostly on dad duty — enjoying the hell out of it (at least up until they closed the zoo and the Met and the Museum of Natural History) — plus hosting baseball trivia and general trivia at my friends’ bars, and trying to fulfill my lifelong dream of writing fiction, which, it turns out, is extremely hard.

I plodded through 50 pages of a novel, but about a month ago, I read over the first chapter and noticed that it totally sucked. When I started it, I was so bitter about my career that the tone and voice did not reflect, at all, the person I am now or the writer I want to be, plus I was so desperate to be literary that I made the mistake of choosing a close third person narration where first person would’ve been so much more natural. Also, it was sci-fi/speculative fiction set in 2029, but it obviously did not account in any way for the terrifying, paradigm-shifting shit happening right at this very moment.

I’m still trying my hand at fiction, and you might even get some of it here in the days and weeks to come — it depends how long this thing lasts, I guess. But you’ll also get some stuff about Taco Bell, for sure. Thanks for reading. I missed you. Wash your hands.

11 thoughts on “Shortness of breath

  1. ted, for the love of good, do not risk your family’s health and safety to bring us a review of the triplelupa

    but, you know, if you can try one without endangering your loved ones…

  2. Oh thank God you are back. When I would tell friends that I know this sportswriter from USA Today, I always said you were a great sportswriter then proceeded to reminisce to them stories you wrote on TedQuarters. It really is your best writing! I’ll be checking in often. Welcome back Ted. Say hi to the doctor and BigHands.

  3. Great to have you back, Ted!

    On writing fiction: doing some of it myself, and the best advice I’ve gotten has been to just get a first draft on the page, no matter how much it sucks. I’ve got 105 pages of garbage right now, but I’ll worry about cleaning them up when I’ve got more like 300. Want a first person narration? Start at page 51 and worry about the beginning when you’ve finished the last page. Cheers, and good luck!

  4. I, for one, welcome our new virus overlords, but I’m extremely happy to hear you’ve still been working on stuff even if it’s not stuff you want to put out into the world. And I’m delighted to get to read the stuff you do.

  5. Thank you for being here for us, Ted! I look forward to reading and hopefully seeing some new Embarrassing Pictures of Cole Hamels.

  6. Welcome back Ted! Is it too much to say that with its rebirth, this blog is the heir apparent to old, good, Deadspin? It’s got the requisite mix of humor, goofy shit, and surprisingly insightful writing. So happy to see you back for now.

  7. Pingback: Stranger than fiction | Tedquarters

Leave a Reply to Mike Landes Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s