Cesar Cedeno

November 4, 2008

I have to go early to my job today and stay late. I couldn’t sleep last night, worrying about all the things I have to get done. Eventually that worry expanded into a metaphysical reckoning, something that should never be entered into at two in the morning. I got out of bed and went to the room with the computer and sat there on the edge of the futon in my underwear holding my stomach. The small blue circle of light around the on-button of the computer monitor flashed. I got more and more upset. Felt trapped. I did some push-ups. I punched myself a few times in the head, even though I swore I’d never do that again. I pondered existence, panicking. The Big Question: What is this shit? I took deep breaths. I fucking prayed. I pray sometimes. In fact that’s what I’m doing now, what I’ve been doing all my life with the Cardboard Gods. I was able to go back to sleep for a couple hours. Now I’m up and have to go do my job, which has gradually become the job of three people. Everyone in the cubicles around me is doing the job of three people, too. This has something to do with the increasing number of empty cubicles. At night we watch the news of the economy collapsing, jobs disappearing. I’ll never be a father. I wish I was mildly brain-damaged, free of responsibility and expectation. Only an asshole would say such a thing. My stomach hurts now, and my back, and my eyes have that gauzy feel from lack of sleep. My shoulders are tight. None of the things I will do today will be memorable. If I get old and look back at my life this day will not be there, even though it’s a potentially historic day. Where were you the day Obama was elected? Where were you the day Obama was shockingly defeated? What did you do? This is what my grandchild would ask, presumably, if I were to live a life that included children and grandchildren. Anyway I’d have no answer. I worked. I went to my job and did the shit you do to stay clothed and fed.

The future curdles. This is a thing only an asshole would say on a day that many are feeling hopeful about. Change, great. I voted for “change” and did so happily. (I voted early, in some kind of old municipal hall that was also hosting a Halloween dance. No one was at the dance yet. “Jungle Boogie” by Kool and the Gang was playing. There was a skeleton and skulls and a Darth Vader head hanging over the door to the building.) Will it impact my life? I doubt it. The future used to be one thing, and now it’s something else. It’s clearer, less vague, narrower. I’m 40. I will work until my heart ceases, most days squares to put a line through when completed. Cesar Cedeno, shown here around the time it had become clear that he was after all never going to be the next Willie Mays, seems to be both safe and irrelevant. The play is happening somewhere else. He has lost his helmet. He has been moved from centerfield to first base. He has aged. He is looking toward the play going on without him. In a few years he’ll be altogether gone from the scene.


  1. 1.  Great writing.

  2. 2.  Ironically, I was up at two last night myself, with no idea why other than I woke up thinking about some of my more irksome grad students. I went to the computer and read about the Dodgers awhile. But then I thought about a book I read last week, Stephen Ash’s Firebrand of Liberty, about the first black units to see action in the Civil War. In the opening chapter, Ash describes how these white officers and politicians came to the South Carolina Sea Islands to speechify to the soldiers and other newly-freed slaves after Lincoln issued the Proclamation. At a certain point during the festivities, though, one of the freedmen just began to sing “My country ’tis of three, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing.” Soon, all of the just-freed slaves joined in. What a song for former slaves to sing, people with broken backs and scars and lost children. I finally went to sleep wondering what they would sing on this day.

  3. 3.  Hey, I think we’ve all been having those sleepless middle-of-the-night anxiety spells lately.

    Certainly the climate of media over-saturation concerning the environment, the economy, and the BIGGEST ELECTION EVER only fuel the stress levels. I mean I must have had ten conversations with friends over the past week about how today’s results are truly “Do or Die,” and how our country is poised at the brink of a Game 7 sudden-death overtime when it comes to our political future…

    You should do what I do when I find myself sitting in front of a computer having a panic attack at four in the morning. Let technology work for you.

    Just look up some obtusely convoluted and complicated internet primer about something that already confuses you (such as tax codes and interest rates), and then go to one of those Web sites filled with articles about how the world is going to end in December of 2012. Stir, marinate, lie awake staring at the ceiling listening to sports-talk radio.

  4. 4.  1986
    At last Cedeno is patroling left for the Dodgers.
    The single to left is rolling right at him.
    He bends over to pick the ball – but not far enough.
    The ball continues unimpeded to the base of the fence.
    Cesar appears in 36 games and bye-bye.

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