Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Today is an off day, not exactly by choice, but more so out of necessity. This weekend, I am meeting Emily in L.A. for a friend's wedding. That obviously means I have to get to L.A., which isn't the easiest thing to do from the middle of nowhere. Really, outside of Subway and Walmart, it's not that easy to get anywhere from here. So tomorrow, I'll make the two-and-a-half hour drive northeast to Eugene, stay in a hotel, then get on a plane Friday morning and fly back southwest to Southern California. Yet another demonstration of efficiency in its purest form.
Because of this itinerary, and because I just finished a four-day job yesterday, I was left with two options for today: go out to the resort and wait for a one-and-done assignment that might never come, or stay home and try to do something more productive. I chose option No. 2, mainly because it meant I didn't have to put on actual pants. Whether it's caddying, writing, working on my golf game, or even doing laundry and running errands, my goal for each day out here has been to be productive in some capacity. I'm a master of doing nothing, a bona fide natural, and because that comes so easily, I've had to actively fight against those inherent instincts. So given the blank slate of this morning, I figured it was the perfect time to finally do something I've been putting off, something small that signifies something so much bigger, something I've been avoiding that I won't be able to avoid much longer:
Updating my resume.
Sunday, August 25, 2013
After cursing my alarm clock for having the nerve to go off, the first thing I do every morning is check the weather app on my phone to see what the impending forecast looks like. This has become an almost pointless ritual, though, as virtually every day I've been here has been a carbon copy of the one before -- sunny, temperature in the 50's and 60's, with wind approaching tighten-your-hat-strap proportions.
That's why it was so strange today to see that there was a 60 percent chance of rain -- and it was also what made my morning that much more unpleasant. For one, given the fact that I've been battling a cold the last several days, the prospect of spending five hours in wet, windy conditions was not something that sounded all that nurturing; and two, the less-than-stellar weather meant that I was going to have to find something new to wear.
Generally speaking, caddies at Bandon Dunes have two uniform options: the whites, or the blacks. The whites are the classic coveralls, as seen in the picture below. I never thought I'd be a fan of anything that was one piece (I've explicitly warned my father that he is never to wear a one-piece coverall, no matter how old he gets or how appropriate he thinks wearing shorts and black socks is), but I like the whites; they're lightweight, flexible, and feature plenty of pockets, and they provide easy access to the additional pockets of the shorts I wear underneath them (yes, I wear a t-shirt and shorts, though I'm tempted to go commando and bask in all that the prevailing north breeze has to offer). Having worn them during every round I've worked, I'm at home in the whites -- even if I do feel out of place in them at Subway after the day is finished.
The blacks, on the other hand, are not quite as desirable, at least they aren't to me. They're the "free" rain suit we were given in return for paying the $125 yearly fee that allows us to caddie at the resort. A lot of guys like the blacks and wear them all the time, even when it's sunny out, but I've never found them to be that comfortable. They're heavy and hot, and they're stiffer than an Anthony Weiner text message, and they have a limited number of pockets that aren't especially accessible (my name is Brent Stoller, and I'm a pocket snob). And you know how wearing a jacket out to a bar seems like a good idea yet always ends up going wrong, how it's great for those five minutes when you're actually outside, but once you get into the bar, it no longer serves any purpose, and you have no clue what to do with it? Same thing with the rain jacket -- it's a lifesaver when it's raining, but the moment it stops, you either have to stash it somewhere in your player's golf bag or cook in it if there's no place to store it.
It was raining as I left my house in Coos Bay, and the skies looked just as ominous when I pulled into Caddie Parking. And so, the blacks it was. It would've been foolish to risk getting needlessly drenched on the course when I had a perfectly good rain suit in the back of my car. After yanking the pants on up over my shorts (three consecutive prepositions...that can't be proper English), I was quickly reminded how restrictive they were -- and things only got worse as I loaded them up with my towel, water bottle, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. They're made by a leading brand that shall remain nameless, but considering how unpleasant they were going to be to caddie in, I couldn't imagine trying to actually play in them.
Beyond making my entire lower body feel as if it was consumed by an unforgiving pair of tidy whities (thank you again, seventh-grade version of me, for switching to boxer shorts), though, putting on the pants made something else plainly apparent, something that I'd suspected for a while but for which I had never received full, functional confirmation:
I've lost a decent amount of weight.
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
The few responses I received about my recent post, "Life on the grass," all commented on how positive and optimistic the article was. This was in stark contrast to the typical feedback I get, which often include things like, "Are you okay?" and "I'm a little worried," and "You're sooo good looking."
I realize that what I write isn't always the most uplifting stuff to read. When I first started this blog several years ago, I made a point to end every piece on an undeniable uptick, but in time, doing so began feeling cliched and disingenuous; I wasn't being authentic. Because the reality is that things aren't always fit for Pollyanna. Sometimes I feel down. Sometimes I experience frustration. Sometimes I don't know what the answers are. Sometimes I screw up, sometimes I get embarrassed, and sometimes I need to process my feelings in order to work my way through those issues -- and this is the perfect forum to do so.
Take yesterday, for instance. Faux Rocco (the guest I've been caddying for who looks like professional golfer, Rocco Mediate) and I were on the seventh tee on Pacific Dunes, which sits approximately 40 or 50 yards from the eighth green, where another group of guests was currently playing. Typically, this is no big deal; the distance between tee and green is substantial enough so as to allow play to continue on each without the risk of disturbing somebody on the other.
But yesterday morning, the hole on the eighth green was cut in the back right, meaning the players over there were that much closer to us on the seventh tee. Seeing this, what I should've done was told FR to wait for the group on No. 8 to finish before hitting his tee shot; that way, they could knock their putts in -- and then he could hit his tee shot -- in total peace and quiet. My guess is that's the standard protocol for this type of situation, but honestly, doing so didn't even occur to me. I've been on that tee probably 20 times, often alongside experienced caddies, and I've never seen play on seven interfere with anything going on over at eight.
That is, until FR hit his worst tee shot of the day and yelled, "Oh, NOOOOOOO!" at the top of his lungs -- then it all clicked into place. I was able to see the situation clearly and in its entirety -- the too-close-for-comfort proximity, the proper etiquette I should've enacted, and my egregious error in judgment for not doing so.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
I've recently been feeling a sense of regret for not finding this whole caddying experience earlier. In hindsight, it's what I should've looked to do right out of college. Granted, Bandon Dunes wasn't Bandon Dunes in 2000 (the first course had just opened in 1999), but I look back now at that time after graduation, and I was in such a hurry -- to get a job, to get a girl, to get a real, adult life. And honestly, I'm not really sure why; it's probably because everybody else was headed that way, and I simply fell in line behind them, hoping to fit in.
This risk-averse, follow-the-pack mindset weighted me down from that point forward, and whether it led me to take safe jobs I despised or sabotaged me when I dared taking a less traditional route, I never could shake free of it. It stopped me from coming out here in 2006 when my father initially told me about the place, and it stopped me in 2008, when I actually flew out here to see it firsthand -- only to crumble the moment I got off the plane before slinking back home to the security (and humiliating paycheck) of my Administrative Assistant job.
I've always joked that, if you were to look at where I am in my life -- my career, my romantic relationships (pre-Emily, at least), my assets (biggest purchase: a dresser from IKEA), my facial hair (I still can't get anything to grow on these small, symmetrical patches on either side of my mouth) -- you'd think that I was 10 years younger than I actually am. And the reality is that, until a couple of months ago, I just wasn't mentally and emotionally capable of handling something of this magnitude; I wasn't strong enough to hold up against the pressure.
Although this experience thus far has allowed me to focus on two of my passions (golf and writing) while also keeping me out of two of my soul-sucking nemeses (traffic and cubicles), by no means has it been perfect. I despise getting up before 6 a.m. (mainly because I can't make myself go to bed early enough to adequately accommodate such an early wake-up). The social aspect of it has been challenging to say the least, and because my apartment's shower head reduces the term "low flow" to never-before-seen depths, I could probably benefit from The Wolf spraying me down with a garden hose. But in spite of all of that, in spite of the pre-dawn alarms and the lonely times in the caddie shack and the longing for the Commando 450, there's one, special place where things almost always come into focus:
On the grass.
Wednesday, August 7, 2013
Beyond my hairline and my ability to sleep through the night without using the bathroom at least once, one of the biggest things that has deteriorated for me with age has been my awareness of what time of year it is. When I was younger, this was never an issue, because my whole world revolved around school, and whether I was in, out, or taking a break from it let me know exactly where on the calendar we stood.
Once I graduated college and joined the real world, though, everything got a little less clear. Gone were the reference points of spring break and winter vacation and "Back to school," commercials; in their place were these seven-day, rinse-and-repeat cycles. From Monday to Friday, everything was the same, and every Saturday and Sunday was a welcomed, all-too-short reprieve from this monotony. The scale of focus had shrunk; it was less about the big picture (the time of year) and more about the immediate future (the day of the week).
And now, out here in Middle of Nowhere, OR, that scale of focus has become even smaller, reduced down to a series of nameless, 24-hour sequences, played out over and over again. It's completely irrelevant what day it is; at most, it only matters what time of day it is -- so that I can either get to the resort at the appropriate hour, or so that I can get to sleep early enough in order to get to the resort at the appropriate hour.
This reality was painfully apparent earlier this week, as I was forced to perform deductive gymnastics to figure out what day it was while trying to silence my 5 a.m. alarm. It felt like Monday, because I didn't want to get up, and because I'd taken the previous day off, which was Saturday, which meant that it was now Sunday. I used to hold onto my weekends with everything I had, refusing to do any sort of work unless I absolutely had no choice. But now, here I was, pulling into Caddie Parking at 6:20 a.m., prepared to hold my Sit & Stare pose for the next eight hours, as I waited to see if I was going to get an assignment or not. Coming off a four-day job, I didn't like my chances of picking up anything beyond a one-and-done.
I had barely settled into my chair, though, when over the P.A. system came a 10-minute call to board the shuttle to Pacific Dunes. I couldn't believe it; in just a few weeks time, I'd gone from doing nothing but sitting to barely having enough time to sit and watch a segment of SportsCenter. And after scrambling to shove my peanut butter and jelly sandwich in my pocket (no worries...it was in a Ziploc bag) and applying an ample amount of sunscreen, I logged into my schedule and saw that this was a three-day assignment, with two of those days consisting of 36 holes. Were my days of riding the pine and stockpiling splinters really, maybe, possibly in my rear view mirror?
As a caddie, it's always nice when your player has some game, and my guy, Rick -- who was in from the great city of Austin, TX -- had some game. More importantly, though, he was an unbelievably great guy with whom I clicked immediately. He was psyched to be out there, and he was psyched to have me on the bag, and we both fed off of that energy. Figuring out what club to hit and how every putt would break was a collaborative process, and each positive outcome was followed by a celebratory fist bump. Thankfully, we were making good decisions, he got things going a little, and I kept creeping closer and closer to making it through an entire round without a single, blatant screw-up.
But alas, the quest for that elusive cigar continues.
- "It's not a lie, if you believe it." Those were the words of one of my generation's great sages, George Costanza, and the more of life I experience, the truer they ring. And while I still haven't found what I'm looking for, the search for my own personal "truths" is never-ending. Care to come along for the ride?