Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Which gangstas are the most dangerous?

Q. Who's seen me at my most nervous?
A. K.M.H.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

K.M.H. is the only person in these entire 40 posts who has been on a date with yours truly. Serious. We're talking an evening date. Me picking her up, paying for dinner, seeing a movie, kiss good night... no other way to detail the evening: DATE.

We actually had a couple of dates.
Then she hopped on a plane for Spain.
I have that effect.

Kidding aside, that Spanish voyage was well known before date one - so I think the dates went well because I was an immature fellow not knowing what to do with a possible long term thing - so the only way I could have a good date was knowing that its end was imminent.

Regardless, or as she would say ironically "irregardless," we became good friends. Which may not really surprise most because I met her before my 12th birthday... But if you know the history you know that we didn't speak one word to each other over a near 10 year stretch.

Thankfully our paths intersected one night many years ago and I consider her a confidant. She has a very hard and honest opinion that is never shy from being shared. I'm very appreciative of that... appreciative of her.

In fact, we really need to get caught up... It's been too long...

Monday, March 30, 2009

Who's very fun?

Q. Can you think of someone who has matured, but is still has as much fun as when he was a kid?
A. D.G.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

This guy, D.G., I 've spent some of the most carefree fun around. I have great memories of driving over to his neighborhood after school (high school) to play as serious a street hockey game you'll find without park district involvement. D.G. made out of PVC pipes his own nets, had full equipment, and even crafted a "Willard Cup" (named after his Grandfather) to award to the 3 on 3 team champion.

Later, in the year of my personal purgatory between High School and College, D.G. and I found our way to some great concerts in the city. Foo Fighters and Reverend Horton Heat are the best memories - but this year of our concert going lives was highlighted by the discovery of Ben Folds Five: a now defunct trio from Chapel Hill that has yet to be topped in "best first impression by a band" ever.

We've also gone to quite a few college football games in a historic stadium in Indiana, which made me very thankful to return the favor last month - by taking D.G. to a Marquette home basketball game. I was very happy to see him experience a sell-out atmosphere at the Bradley Center, and equally as crushed when MU couldn't beat Syracuse.

What's truly remarkable: though all the changes we've had in our lives - our level of fun together has never dipped... Not through my high school illnesses, not through us going to different schools, and especially not because of his l0vely wife.

This needs special attention: too many friends have been lost from finding "love." They more so enter a "exclusive friendship" instead of a romantic relationship... D.G. is to be commended for staying a close of a friend to me as always- and has won bonus points for introducing his wife into my life too (for she's super cool as well).

I'm very thankful to have D.G. in my life - without him would certainly decrease my quality of life to depressing levels.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

How can you close the gap?

Q. What crowd do I feel the most distant?
A. The cousins from my Dad's side of the family

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

Family reunions for my Dad's family seemed to occur every four years in my youth.
I remember being the only one not in high school.
Then I remember being the only one not in college.
When your dad is the youngest of six, and your his youngest - it sets you quite a ways apart from some cousins... I have cousins who have kids my age.

But I'm really looking forward to this August, at a psuedo-reunion under the umbrella of a wedding outside San Francisco. Sure, there's still that distance in age, but I feel that the experience gap is shrinking. It's going to be a great time to catch up... For me, and for them.

Friday, March 27, 2009

What's something my Dad and I have in common?

Q. Do you understand the joys of an older sister?
A. My Father's two sisters

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

My Dad has two olders sisters: Katie and Margie.
I know, from great experience, that an older sister is a huge wealth of information and guidence.
Usually the info isn't requested.
Thankfully, the advice comes from areas of expertise not just little known by us younger brothers - but from areas completely off our radar.

I've had the pleasure see my Dad's sisters give him advice.
It's fun to see my Dad squirm...
Fun to know that I have more years to expect these situations from my beautiful sister.

Margie lives out in California... I can't wait to see her this August at one of our great family weddings. These weddings have become the defacto reunion for my Dad's side of the family... Sadly, I fear that funerals may soon replace these because
a) nobody more can get married
b) our mortality

Katie, I've spent a considerable more about of time with thanks to her recently living about three hours south of here. The first memories of Thanksgiving were our trip down to Peoria to see them. Sleeping on the futon. Worshiping their cable television. Trying to learn from Katie's husband: my Uncle Ted. (Uncle Ted is a retired professor of philosophy of Bradley University - I regret that they moved to the Pacific Northwest when I finally became educated enough to debate with him)

I might have sold my Father's brothers short yesterday - there's a very long fight I've had with them in which I struggle to maintain a truce. Sadly, I don't understand the dynamic between brother to brother the way I know the dynamic between younger brother and older sister...

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Was the doctor was a good man? and thorough? (Lebowski On Trial)

For three weeks I served as a Juror in downtown Chicago. It was a Civil Trial - medical malpractice. Basically, I had to evaluate if the Defendant was a good man, and thorough.

The specifics of the case were daunting: the visual torture of doctors' notes, nurses' notes, blood test results and expert testimony became overwhelming at times. For the sake of my civic duty, I took copious notes. (I also kept as quiet and listened as intently as Liam)

I was jolted in the jury box during the cross examination of the Defendant. I don't have access to the official transcript (although I do wish I could have given the court reporter my number - but that's another story related in my quest for a special lady friend), but here's a very close reinterpretation:

QUESTION: ...and the ultrasound showed it to be one by three and a half centimeters in size?
QUESTION: About the size of a golf ball?
ANSWER: Obviously you're not a golfer.
QUESTION: But that's what the note said...

Later in the trial, the Lawyer for the Plaintiff said, "The imperial 'we'?"
Close Counselor... Nice effort.

In an action completely unrelated to my love for all things Lebowski, we ruled in favor of the doctor.
He was a good man, and thorough.[TQ]

When happens when "black sheeps" become the majority?

Q. So are there people out there with different names related to you?
A. My Dad's brothers

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

Today's post was to be dedicated to my Dad's three brothers, and the extended family under their various patriarchies...

Honestly, I hate to say it - but I'm pretty distant from them all... Geography doesn't help I guess... Not to mention my Dad doesn't seem much like his older brothers (at least the two still living). It's pointless to get into the differences...

Maybe if I list them out you'll have a better time knowing my inability in knowing where to start
-the former Jesuit turned author
-the former Priest turned protestor
-the touring musician
-the academic, university professor, muscisian
-the one that has learned the craft of making mandolins from scratch
-the folk musician, who I'm sad to say probably would't recognize on the street tomorrow
-the landscape architect or evaluator of organic farms in New England
-the mother in Minnesota (who has two kids who I think are in college now)
-the homosexual in San Fran
-the 50+ year old cousin of mine that got married in a cave (still married)
-the cousin, who I've never met, that lives in Australia

I actually think I'm missing some...
But in listing that out, I think I've found my focus.
The widow of my Father's oldest brother.
Ever since my Uncle's death, my Dad has taken it upon himself to make sure he stays in contact with her.
She's the kind of person that I want to write to her grandchildren - to remind them they have an awesome opportunity with an unbelievable "crazy fun grandma"
Carla, her name, calls my dad "Danny." (It's always a surprise to hear this nickname, and a shock to see my Dad react to it)

My Dad doesn't seem to be cut from the same cloth as his older brothers... And by extension, I might feel as close to those cousins as some others... But by that same token, I need to understand that my life has been shaped by them.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who raised who raised you?

Q. How many of the four were you honored to know?
A. My grandparents.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

My Dad's dad had passed long before me. My mother never even got to meet him. I share his first name. He was born in the North of Ireland, and I will have to settle for a third hand account of how he got from there to here. Somehow, I feel like a huge slacker when it comes to the Men in my family. My Dad's dad intentionally saved up his vacation days to use before Christmas - in which he'd take a part time job at the Post Office during their busy season. My father has a similar work ethic - you can see it today in his resistance to retirement... Meanwhile, I'm more content than ever to sleep in and waste time in front of a computer or television.

My Dad's mom had also passed before either me or my sister. Thankfully, at least my Mom got to meet her. There's not much we know about the woman raised by a strict English Protestant family named The Bartletts. We can only guess the internal persecution she endured falling in love with a foreigner - and a Catholic one at that. Stories about her are held very close to my father's chest. It creates a charming mystery around her.

I have few memories of my Mom's dad. My sister has a much more vivid memory. I remember meeting Digger Phelps at his funeral. I remember my Dad trying to tell me that was a big deal. It was "pre-highlighter" Digger. If I had known then what I know now... who knows. My Grandfather drove a big yellow Cadillac. Nobody loved the University of Notre Dame more than him. He was able to get my parents married on campus, and was able to get burried in the campus cememtary where he rests today. It's good that my Marquette dedication started after his time... It would've made for an uncomfortable Christmas.

And finally, we have my Mom's mom. "Grandmother" as she insisted to be called, was a very large prescence in our family for the last 15 or so years of her life. If a heaven exists, which I believe does, and I'm allowed one last confession I will devote the majority of my time in front of the gates to this woman: my Grandmother. I regret all the times my eyes rolled, all the times I shot back smart-alek remarks, all the times I put up a fight when called into service. This is the woman that raised my Mother, and I never gave her the amount of respect she deserved. (understandably, there is no way to ever give as much respect as these kinds of people deserve, but there was no doubt room for more). I think the only way I can make it right is when my Mother gets to that stage in her life. I could almost feel the hurt of sacrifice my Mother exerted caring for her mother over a long amount of time when the end was clearly just out of sight. I have from now until whenever that happens to get stronger. Thinking about that task now makes me weak.

Grandparents force you to think about mortaility.
I believe their intangible influence is beyond measure.
Anybody who still has grandparents around today - I am envious...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Are there lawyers in the family?

Q. How formally does your family argue?
A. The brothers P.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

My Mom's nuclear family consisted of two older sisters and two younger brothers. The sisters went on to become teachers, the brothers lawyers. Those are just feathers to put into your cap.

Before my Mom's youngest brother had kids, I would play basketball with him on various hoops over various garages. Lately my other Uncle has been sending me free giveaways from his frequent trips to Kaufman Stadium.

Soon I will give the trial lawyer Uncle an in-depth account of my Jury Duty. I also hope to hear an in-depth report from the other (now retired) Uncle's yearly spring training report.

It's odd for me, as I try to look back at my relationship with these two Uncles... I remember having carefree conversations about basketball and baseball in days past. Maybe those conversations were to humor me the child... And today's conversations are more about humoring them (as they have genuine interest in details from my professional life or theories of how to best run Vegas).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Who makes the holidays more fun?

Q. Who makes my sister and I look like just upstanding citizens of societ?
A. The H Family

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

For the sake of fairness, I need to consolidate the posts of this week. I want to make special mention of the entire extended family that has my Mom's sister at the top of the tree.

This family has often invited ours to their home in middle Indiana for some of the best Christmases in my childhood's memory. However, I must admit that it has a separate feel as of late. Our family has pretty much stayed static: My two parents, my sister and me. That's it. However - them - they now have spouses and kids... A lot of kids. My aunt is a grandmother many times over.

It's good to have family you can look up to. Although I know I won't have the fiscal means to give the kind of gifts they give my Aunt - I can always go to them for advice. They have a multitude of upper level degrees from famous institutions. I'm proud to have cousins as smart as them.

Finally, it's nice to see my Mom and her sister together. Two old school schoolteachers that share a rich common memory and upbringing. My Mom is never more comfortable than when she's with her older sister (a feeling I know very well indeed).

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Is there a Deacon in the house?

Q. If I was on "Who Wants To Be A Millionaire" who would be my phone-a-friend?
A. A.M.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

A.M. is the husband of yesterday's subject (E.M.), which also makes him my honorary Uncle.
He is a retired school principal of the Milwaukee County School System.
He is now a principal at a smaller Catholic High School.
Retirement, in my opinion, is a lazy choice in his mind.

He recently volunteered in South Africa.
A livelong fan of Milwaukee baseball.
Oh, and before I forget, he's a deacon.

He's the man I want to preside my wedding*

*granted it ever happens
*granted my future wife rejects my desire to elope in Vegas (however, I'd pay to put A.M. on a plane to fly him out last minute)

Friday, March 20, 2009

Who is my honorary Aunt?

Q. Is your Mom's cousin your first-cousin-once-removed?
A. E.M.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

My grandmother, and E.M.'s mother, are sisters - which makes my Mom and E.M. cousins. We would frequently have E.M. & Co. over at our house when our Grandmother was still alive - to allow the two upper matriarchs spend more time at the end of theirs.

From an outsider perspective, my sister and I treated E.M. with as much respect as an aunt - but we always just called her E. It's a nice relationship, unique in our extended families.

E. wrote me an e-mail, inviting me to her home for Easter dinner. It's these extra pieces of effort that makes me love her. Glad that she sees me as an honorary nephew. Of course I'm going with my family - and I don't have any decision making power, but it's a kind gesture nonetheless...

(I'm reading what I'm writing above - and I've realized that I'm not effectively detailing why E.M. is worthy of a post... But in my heart, there doesn't need to be any explanation)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Who taught me how to flop, turn and river?

Q. Do you like how the world shrinks as you grow older?
A. P.S.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

P.S. is the husband of G.S. (previously profiled as my sister's best friend).
He welcomed me into his home, on the reference of my sister.
And, in in typical fashion, he's now a good friend thanks to my sister.

I thank him primarily for my current interest in playing cards. I was always wanting to learn how to play cards, but was never invited to "card nights." Nobody volunteered the patience to teach me. Nobody until P.S. (along with his legion of childhood friends).

If I ever somehow attain something large from playing cards - he will be the first person I thank.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who is rocket fuel for who I love the most?

Q. Who was someone you can't imagine how you functioned not knowing?
A. G.S.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

Now that my sister has met G.S., her best friend, I am forever thankful for the immense flow of friendship she constantly provides. Only now do I realize how much better my sister's life is having a friend as close as her taking such a large role. Our family is very tight and strong - but G.S. has opened up new paths to happiness and allowed my sister to live the quality of life she deserves.

Nothing I can ever write can provide the credit G.S. deserves.

Not to mention, she's an awesome person - in her own right. She's been a great friend to me (on a personal level independent of my sister) - but I do not want to dilute my point using selfish examples. My sister appreciates G.S. - and I do as well.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Who has the best baseball mind I know?

Q. Who's another example of someone younger than me in years, and miles more mature?
A. M.C.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

I play basketball with M.C. I met him when he joined our parish with his (then) fiancee. She was in the process of converting to Catholicism, my sister was her sponsor. My sister is now the godmother to their first child.

This is the first time my sister has been a godparent. Lord knows she's one of the best capable for such a role - and that same Lord realizes that she shouldn't have to wait until your younger brother (if ever) gets an offspring.

M.C. deserves all the credit for turning our weekly basketball night at our church into a vessel for better. Not wanting to charge money for use of the gym, we all bring in an item for the food pantry. I'm not a fan of this term, but it's a small example of paying it forward. I feel guilty for not developing this idea myself. I work amidst mountains of food samples that eventually find less than deserving homes.

This man, is just one of many I hang around hoping I can learn to be a better person through proximity.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Who lives their life the right way?

Q. Who doesn't realize they are a role model?
A. T.M.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

When I first met T.M. I was twenty and he was thirty.
Now I am the one who is thirty.
Our friendship developed rather slowly from the start.
But soon we realized we had a lot of common interests.
And it gave me hope, that I could be a contributing citizen to society and still like video games.
That one day I could live by myself, have a TV as big as I wanted, and literally dictate my own life.

I'm not quite there (TV not as big as I want) but I'm well on my way.

All toys aside, T may be the most professionally successful man I know.
He's also the greatest example of having a faith that can be strong and silent.
T is a hall of fame Catholic. (will be elected in on the first ballot)
(My sister is probably the captain of that team, by the way)

There are a lot of areas in my life I hope to one day increase to T's level:
-His level of faith
-His level of generosity
-His level of availability without question when help is needed.
-His level sincerity.

Of course, I'd love to have his yearly salary / benefits and a TV as big as his - but I'll glady prioritize the above items before those.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

What has two initials, but four people?

Q. Where do I wish I was at in ten years, if you asked me 7 years ago?
A. J.W.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

There are four of them in Rosemont.
They all have the same initials: J.W.
I'm probably closer friends with the matriarch.
However, if I had decided upon this project two or so years from now, the patriarch would have his own post... (we are quickly becoming better friends and hanging out more)

By the way, I'm using these antiquated words to describe two people both younger than me.
Two people who are married to each other.
Who have two young daughters, very young.

I met the matriarch when I started at the company where I am now working. She has since moved on to a better opportunity, however we still keep in contact. Since that move, I've become closer friends with her husband - as we now play basketball regularly.

They have provided me with a viewpoint on the forming of such a beautiful family. I remember the day he proposed to her outside of our building. Her pregnancy caused me to attend my first ever baby shower party.

Cleavers, they are not. The Wife swears like a sailor, the husband is heavily inked, and the children poop... But trust me people, the love is there - and it would warm your heart if you saw all four of them in action.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Who is America's last scientist?

Q. Who both teaches it, and practices it?
A. Mr. P

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

Mr. P is a first year high school science teacher.
Mr. P is an actual scientist.
Mr. P is doing what he can to carve out a niche at his school (ski trip after ski trip)
Mr. P burns the midnight oil working as a temporary contractor at a major pharmaceutical company.
Mr. P is one of many young teachers in America.
Mr. P may be the last remaining Scientist in America.

So I gave this guy a chair.
The chair isn't any good.
It's older than my memory.
But he liked sitting it during Bear games.
On the day of Super Bowl XLI, I called him a few hours before kickoff.

"Hey, there's gonna be a lot of people - more than usual - here watching the game.
I think you better get here early, make sure your claim your chair."

He's recently moved out, bought a condo.
I've heard stories of him working on his computer while sitting on a crate.
He now has this chair that's older than my Memory.
America can't afford its last remaining scientist to be sitting on crates when he's trying to relax.

Mr. P is also the commissioner of our fantasy baseball league.
That's more important than I care to admit.

Mr. P and I also have something in common.
It's really tough for me to go into a lot of detail.
But we both seem to have an easy time finding a first date,
a tougher time finding a second date,
and a nearly impossible time finding a third...

One day, not too long ago, him and I went to a Chicago Basketball Bulls of Cook County National Basketball Association Regular Season Contest Game...
We had a frank discussion about this topic.
As he drove through a horrible snow.
That's a friend.
That's someone that makes me feel safe about the future of science in our society.

Mr. P,
Keep up the good, honest, and hard work.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Do you know how to hijack a friend?

Q. Who did I once ask if they spiritually ever existed?
A. B.T.B.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

The subject of today's post, BTB, is a very close friend of SAS (the subject of yesterday's post). BTB visited SAS one night during our first year at school - it is when I first met him. As my sister will tell you, I have a long history of meeting many friends through other friends, however I rarely introduce my friends to other circles. This phenomenon is tough to explain, and not important to the message I need to convey.

I'm happy that I can now consider BTB an actual friend - not a "friend of a friend." The following is one of my most favorite experiences with him - and I think might be considered the turning point of our friendship.

BTB lives near a famous body of water that has a history of flooding. Last fall, when checking flood levels online, that will eventually mandate him to evacuate his apartment, an alert on his computer notified him that the Chicago Cubs at Houston Astros game (canceled due to Hurricane Ike) was rescheduled for play in Milwaukee's Miller Park. Out of impulse, and my personal opinion of refusing to surrender to the misery the flooding was impeding on his life, he bought a pair of tickets.

The following day, as he was over at my place watching the Bear game (he's quite the game day contributor by the way) and mentioned his extra ticket. This was probably the first significant event the two of us went to - without having SAS there. A few hours after the Bear game, we were on our way to Milwaukee.

Carlos Zambrano threw a no-hitter.
I was there.
In a stadium nearly full.
All attendees didn't know they would be there 24 hours earlier.
Everyone felt happy to be there.
It was one of the more pure sports moments I have ever experienced.
Something I'm never going to forget.

I thank him for including me in that night.
I'm thankful he's not just a friend of a friend.
It's really tough to find good friends the later you get in life.
And BTB is a great example that proves it can still happen.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Who has an immediate sense of wit?

Q. Who's the most famous person I know (who's not yet famous)?
A. S.A.S.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

Many years ago, an uncle (I guess?) of S.A.S. described him as having, "an immediate sense of wit." I instantly agreed with that statement, was upset I didn't think of it first, and was saddened that I wasn't able to hear it firsthand. He has a very sharp perspective on the world that is often humorous and always insightful.

I could also go on at great length on how sophisticated he is, for instance his immense talent as a writer (he's literally a published author - he's not "publishing on blogspot" like amateurs, but in literary magazines). I can't wait to be able to buy multiple copies of his novels to give as gifts to many others. Because he's a friend of mine, it makes me want to be a better writer. By the same accord, I read more serious literature now.

At the risk of sounding melodramatic, I'm a better person because I can count on S.A.S. as a friend. Just to keep up: I've become more knowledgeable about current events, politics, literature and video game ethics (that last example should not be overlooked).

I think everybody who considers S.A.S. a friend lucky for having him as a friend. People who don't know him, are just flat out missing out.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Who is a nice guy?

Q. What's a great nickname for someone you haven't met yet?
A. R.G.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

There were these girls that lived, I think on the 4th or 8th floor, in McCormick Hall my freshman year at Marquette University. They were from a suburb about 20 minutes west of Milwaukee. Some of these girls were cute, it's probably why we were talking to them. We might have watched Dawson's Creek with these women.

One day, they mentioned that a friend of theirs from High School lived on our floor too - and that we should hang out with him because he is a nice guy. Before I met "R***" he was known as "Nice Guy R***" For the record, I was not the one who assigned this nickname.

It remains one of the better, and more accurate, nicknames anybody ever assigned to someone before they were met. Over ten years later, he's still living up to the rather high bar placed for him by those randomly cute girls that I probably won't even recognize today if they passed me on the street.

R has one of the nicer last names for more nickname generation. And once we actually got to know him, "Nice Guy R" evaporated because I think we just assumed and started to take his "nice guy" appeal for granted. That, and his last name was flexible enough to allow us to mold into a "****sie" or "****s".

We really didn't talk much after I graduated from MU. He had an extra two years to complete his 6 year master's program. But in the last two years we've reconnected, sparked from obligations to go to a bachelor party and his wedding. It made me realize that he still is a Nice Guy, and that more of an effort should be made to spend time together. I'm also thankful that his wife has enjoyed meeting friends from "before her time" and helps plan nights around the fact that she can cook and we can not.

And now he's back to being a good friend: going to concerts and basketball games and the like.

Special note: I think "Nice Guy R" is one of my sister's favorite nicknames she's heard from me, but she only first met R a few weeks ago for the first time.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Who is someone that needs to be met to understand?

Q. Who's the only person to survive having me as a roommate?
A. "B.H."

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

I met B very early into my time at Marquette University. We spent a lot of time playing a hockey video game on his Gateway computer. I always chose the Philly Flyers because I liked Eric Lindros. B would always select the Dallas Stars because he liked Mike Modano. We would play 7 game series after 7 game series. I honestly don't ever remember winning a series. I did win games, but he would always win in either 6 or maybe 7 games.

The next year we were roommates, and the rest is history...

Of course there are tons of other stories to share, but I like looking back to those late nights in McCormick Hall, spent on a very uncomfortable wooden desk chair, leaning forward in locked concentration on a 15 inch monitor. That was pure. That was real. That was how simple my life once was...

B now owns a condo about an hour away. I also own a condo. Neither of us have roomates. However, I'm glad that he makes the effort to travel up here to watch Bear games. Soon, if Vegas August works out, I may get a PS3. The more I think about it, the more I think I'm going to buy a hockey video game.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

What's the most fun you've ever had at work?

Q. Who knows you best?
A. "Skip"

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

Of everyone I know, I think Skip has the most accurate opinion of me. There probably isn't anybody I've been more honest to. Sadly, I'm including my beautiful sister in this statement. There are certain, let's say arenas of conversation, that my sister and I don't need to ever discuss.

From the the time of my high school graduation, to the time of my college graduation, I worked in a warehouse of a small family owned company. I went back there for every Winter and Summer break. For most of that time, it would be just Skip and I alone in the warehouse. The job could really be handled by one person working 3 hours a day - so when you have two people working 6+ hours a day, it left a lot of room for us to goof around.

We invented crazy time killing games including Bowling for Dollars, Soccer Superstar and a plethora of impromptu challenges involving anything from a mop bucket located on the other side of the alley to the friendly UPS truck driver.

It's still quite amazing how close of friends we became. In almost any way you can list, our lifestyles are on opposite ends of the spectrum. However, times together were always fun and full with laughter.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Who's good enough for K.B.?

Q. Who am I best enjoying learning more about?
A. D.K.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

I remember when K.B. first started dating D.K. By the time I finally met D, K was already in "love mode" with him and it was easy to see why. D is an extremely kind individual who is as giving with his time and effort than hardly anybody I've ever met.

By the way, to those that are reading this, you know I own a barber chair - right? I'm sorry if you don't know this, and worse if you've never seen it. But when I moved into my condo, that chair had to get moved.

D is the #1 reason that chair got to my place. Our effort to disassemble it left two large pieces that equated to two refrigerators. His truck helped get it to the curb and his strength got it up to the third floor.

Meanwhile, D happens to be the best golfer I know. Thankfully, he was also blessed with patience. To give you a sense of how serious he is: the man golfs in long pants with his shirt tucked. He also carries his bag, no cart or any kind. I look forward to having my game improve beside him.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Have you ever sneezed on a small Asian girl?

Q. Am I really going to share that story?
A. N.B.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

And now we've arrived at the baby of this family from Prospect Heights: N. I should also mention that all three kids now have advanced college degrees. One has a masters in physical therapy, one is a doctor of optometry, and this "baby" has a masters in architecture.

The kid's flat out goofy. A hilarious mind. If I get crazy rich, he will design a custom home for me. It'll probably have trap doors leading to slides and hidden trampolines. The following story says nothing of his character, but I laugh out loud every time I think of it...

I think I was 19 or 20 at the time, which places N at roughly 13 at the time of this story. A bunch of cousins (of their family, not mine) had driven up from Louisiana. We went to a standard issue museum in Chicago. Of course I tagged along. It didn't matter that I had been to that museum on countless prior field trips, and there was nothing new for me to see there. Just knowing that all of us (The B family kids and I) going to a place like that was going to produce something.

We're in an exhibit that was called "Gold from the Kremlin" or something of that sort. Me and N were looking at a bedazzled cauldron. N had to sneeze. However, he was holding a shopping bag for his Mom in one hand, and the portable cassette player (containing the audio tour of said exhibit) in his other. This prompted him to just turn his head away and sneeze out into the open.

He didn't realize that a very small Asian girl was literally under his nose. It was easily one of the more disgusting sights I've ever seen. However, I wasn't mature then (and obviously not now), and to see that poor girl have to wipe a load of snot off her face with her full hand made me laugh uncontrollably.

All N could say was, "sorry" in a very humbling tone. His apology could not have had much weight with his friend being as hysterical as I was beside him.

So there you go:
A man with a masters degree that he worked very hard to attain.
A man who has actually landed a job at an architecture firm when half of his class still hasn't.
A man who has the artistic ability to actually draw things that look like what they are.
A man who taught himself, from the Internet, how to play the guitar to the point he can recreate songs from the radio by ear.
A man who loves his family, and is a cherished younger brother.

Yet I chose to share a story involving his germ warfare on an unsuspecting foreigner.

Sorry N.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Do you need a good optomistist?

Q. Who is maybe the most underrated member of the Whimsical Cottage?
A. C.B.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

For those scoring at home, this will be the fourth (of an eventual 5 straight) posts dedicated to the same nuclear family based in Prospect Heights. C is the middle child of the family.

C is three years younger than I. He has always been a better athlete, and it didn't take him long (I think his freshman year of high school) until he was finally able to beat me one-on-one in basketball. That day will always be one of the saddest moments of my life. He's also way smarter that me, but I've always been okay with that. He's now literally a doctor. Passed all the optometry boards and is bona fide certified.

It's too bad that I have a great trusting relationship with my current eye guy. I'd really like to give him more business. However, I must admit, I'm not sure how comfortable I'd be with him manning the glaucoma air gun when I still have vivid memories of his room completely dominated by the Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles. (bedspread, wallpaper, desk stationary, and an army of toys)

Let me know if you need an eye exam. I've known this doctor his entire life.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Whose wedding almost made me cry?

Q. Who is not my younger sister, yet feels like an older sister?
A. K.B.

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

For those scoring at home, this will be the third (of an eventual 5 straight) posts dedicated to the same nuclear family based in Prospect Heights. K is the oldest of the three kids.

Although she's a year younger than I, she's always been more mature. I remember helping move her into an campus apartment during college. She had place mats, candlestick holders, and even a napkin cozy. At the same time, I had built a nightstand entirely out of extra and unclaimed phone books.

I was touched and honored when she asked me to play a role in her wedding. Maybe I'll be able to return the gratitude.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Who's got a sharpstootin' Mom?

Q. Who is five-feet-three inches of power capable of wielding a trash can as well as a rifle?
A. Mrs. B

(For Lent, I've decided to write 40 posts about people I love / made me who I am / thankful to know / appreciate)

My last post's subject, Mr. B, is the husband of today's subject. They are the head of a family very close to my own. I'm thankful to be on "can show up whenever I feel like it" terms in that household. I'll admit, that I usually plan on showing up during meal times (Mrs. B is an excellent cook).

The following events were traumatic then, but have been sources of perpetual comedy ever since:
She once busted her garage door, and asked for my Father's protection against her husband. (My Dad's response: "You're the one holding the hammer, you don't need my protection.")
She once backed over my sweet Huffy bike with her minivan (my family refused to accept money for my newer - more "boss" bike)
She was a member of the NRA in her youth and has multiple awards for marksmanship.
She once picked up a kitchen trash can, to beat it against the kitchen table, in order to get her children to listen to her (It successfully stopped the current conversation - but resulted in uproarious laughter)
She designed the dress she wore to her daughter's wedding.

I could go on - the point is - she's one of the more interesting people I know... One of the people I'm most glad to know.