Category: Joe Grace Columns

Six years of 16-inch-softball: How it changed my life for the better

Six years of 16-inch-softball: How it changed my life for the better
16-inch-softball is a relatively simple game. 10 players in the field. Seven innings. Three balls. Two strikes. One oversized leather ball. No gloves. See ball. Hit ball. See ball. Catch ball. Hope ball doesn’t break your fingers. And that’s all you really need to know. Not much to it, right? But for something so simple,... Read more »

On falling asleep and waking up

Each day, we fall asleep. Each day, we wake up. Sometimes we struggle to fall asleep, our thoughts preventing us from nodding off. Sometimes we wake up grumpy, hair tied in knots, baring our fangs at the rising sun. Sometimes we fall asleep easily, barely remembering our head even hitting the pillow. Sometimes we wake... Read more »

On being a hopeful, thankful father on the 1st Father's Day after the death of my son

On being a hopeful, thankful father on the 1st Father's Day after the death of my son
I remember softly singing a nursery rhyme to my 1-day-old son in his hospital room in the hours before he passed away. The made-up lyrics are buried somewhere in the recesses of my mind, but I still can hear the tune in my head. It is a tune that both comforts and haunts me. It... Read more »
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Reflections on the first snowfall of the year

Reflections on the first snowfall of the year
I woke up this Sunday morning to the first snowfall of the year. And while I usually am the grumpiest of grumps when it comes to snowfall, for some reason I thought it was quite nice this time. I settled myself on the couch in the living room and looked out the window at the... Read more »

Strength, courage and love at the end of the sidewalk

Strength, courage and love at the end of the sidewalk
Throughout my wife’s pregnancy, I would read to our unborn baby before going to bed. Sometimes it would be a fairy tale. Sometimes it would be the Berenstain Bears. Sometimes it would be one of the thick baby books meant more for chewing than reading. But my favorite thing to read to our baby were... Read more »

On rocking chairs and panic attacks on my 33rd birthday

On rocking chairs and panic attacks on my 33rd birthday
I spent the night before my 33rd birthday building a rocking chair. Gray. Nice fabric. Comfortable. Full of splinters when putting it together. A fairly typical rocking chair. I fit the pieces together, inserted screws so that it couldn’t turn into a Transformer on a whim and placed it in the corner of our nursery. Today... Read more »
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Joy, poop and other thoughts on finding out you're going to be a dad for the first time

Joy, poop and other thoughts on finding out you're going to be a dad for the first time
Sometime late this summer, my life is going to change in the most spectacular, delightful, crazy and poop-filled way possible. I am going to become a dad. It’s hard to describe quite how this makes me feel. Perhaps the great Prussian philosopher Immanuel Kant said it best: Squeee! (Or whatever the German equivalent of that... Read more »

Joy and why it's the best word in the English language

Joy and why it's the best word in the English language
My favorite word in the English language might be joy. (With iguana coming a close second because I pronounce it e-guana, as if it were some sort of internet guana, which sounds both awesome and non-existent.) A feeling of great pleasure and happiness. The feeling of the warmth of the sun after a string of... Read more »

Penny's Noodle Shop, pad Thai and the wonderfulness of food whims

Penny's Noodle Shop, pad Thai and the wonderfulness of food whims
I remember the first time I ever had pad Thai. It was about eight years ago at Penny’s Noodle Shop in the Wrigleyville neighborhood in Chicago, the very Penny’s Noodle Shop that recently announced it was set to close after 23 years. Eggy, peanuty, noodley, cilantroey (OK, I should never do that again), it had... Read more »
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How a 16-inch softball rule can help make baseball watchable

How a 16-inch softball rule can help make baseball watchable
I was listening to The Boers & Bernstein Show on my way home from work on Thursday and the hosts were discussing how tedious many people find watching baseball to be, especially with a team like the Boston Red Sox that intentionally tries to gum up the works and slow the game down. I’m with... Read more »