Monday, February 27, 2012

Bone Marrow Donation??

In recent weeks, I was made aware that I was a possible match for bone marrow donation for someone suffering from cancer. As I thought about and discussed the possibility of donation with friends and family, a couple of questions continually arose. They asked how and why? I've given the short answer to several people. Here's a more full answer.

How? How did I get on the registry? In 2000, a friend from high school, Kara Irving, was diagnosed with cancer again after a battle she fought while in high school. She was in need of a bone marrow transplant and a drive took place in Wilmington to see if anyone in town was a match. To give you an idea of how great Kara was, the high school gym was full of eager people ready to see if they could help. Myself included. I was not a match for Kara.

Why? Why donate now? After I was tested, I was asked if I'd be willing to go onto the registry for someone else. At the time, I honestly didn't think about it and I don't mean that in a selfless manner. I just said okay with every thought that I'd never hear anything about it again. And I didn't for 12 years.

When the text came from my dad, my first thought was not about donating. I'd forgot about being on the registry completely and then that day in the school gym came rushing back.  All the feelings I'd had of helping my friend returned to me in a moment.

After completing a questionnaire and having several vials of blood drawn for further testing, I was told that I'm a match and asked if I'd still like to proceed. It all became real in that moment on the phone. Of course I'll do it. If it were me in need of that kind of help that may or may not save my life, I'd want the other person to do it. Life and death are always somewhere on my mind but lately have been weighing much heavier. When the news of my friend Mike Enriquez passing came, it hit me hard. I have been away from Chicago for quite some time but the impact Mike made on me is huge and will never be forgotten or overlooked. Kara Irving is the same and in many ways, I'm doing this for her. And for Mike.  And for an anonymous man in New Jersey. 

Friday, January 13, 2012

Revolver and Mike

It's been over five years since I left Chicago for Orlando and I'm often asked if I regret the choice I made. Honestly the answer is no. I don't regret it however it wasn't easy. Not only was I leaving my best friends from UMass, I was leaving my new best friends, Revolver.

Revolver is a team (if I'm correct, still one of the best teams!) at the iO Theater in Chicago. Currently, Revolver performs every weekend and is a house team at the theater but when I left, we were about a year old and climbing our way through the ranks. Several of us were cut from previous teams and the others were recent graduates of the classes. With the varied levels of skill and experience, the person at the helm had to be a strong, smart coach and improviser who could lead this team to cohesion and that person was Mike Enriquez.

Mike was my coach on my previous team and at first, I didn't realize how lucky I was to be under his watchful eye once again. Mike made Revolver a solid unit with his great coaching and better yet, his amazing friendship. Mike really brought us together in our rehearsals but also helped us become great friends outside which really makes a team great in my opinion.

I have many great memories of Mike and Revolver. Getting unexpectedly drunk with Mike at Mullens happened frequently and was always a blast. Learning from him was also a joy. If I'm any good at this improv thing, Mike Enriquez gets a lot of credit for that. 

Thanks Revolver crew. Miss ya.

Thanks Mike. I'm thinking of you. Thanks :)

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011: 1/1/2011 - 12/31/2011

As the clock struck midnight on Dec. 31, the year 2011 closed his eyes for the last time. He was one year old.. He came in like a lion and went out much in the same way.

2011 lived big and loud. He made some of us think the world was going to end...twice. He watched with us as Casey walked free and as gays were finally allowed to serve free.  He saw many gather in parks and in the streets to occupy while many others gathered and bickered to see who would challenge hope in 2012. He gave us the IPhone 5, the IPad 2 and maybe the greatest gift, a trip home for soldiers in Iraq. But with all he gave us, he took just as much if not more. A hilarious Jackass in Ryan Dunn, a musical butterfly named Amy Winehouse and the greatest mind of our time, Steve Jobs. He didn't only take the good. He grabbed Kim Jong, Gadhafi and Bin Laden and made certain that they wouldn't stay longer than he.

At his funeral, some set off fireworks and cheered his demise while others said goodbye to a cherished friend. A polarizing figure in the end, 2011 will be remembered by all one way or another.

His baby brother, 2012, was quoted as saying "At least he got a full year. Some doctors only give me until 12/21/2012." He is seeking a second opinion.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Summer Wedding Tour Part 4: Beth's Big Day

Ever since we were kids, my sister Beth wanted to have a big wedding. She wanted a wedding party the size of a small nation, many exotic animals and of course, the perfect groom. Two out of three ain't bad. No animals.

This wedding was lucky number four for me this summer. The grande finale to a tour that saw the perfect indie film marriage, the church wedding and a journey into the steampunkiest day of my life. What would this one have in store for me? I really had no idea what to expect. What I got was a wonderful weekend with new family, old friends and a terrible outing of golf.

The setting was a golf resort in the White Mountains of New Hampshire in the small town of Bethlehem. This resort looked eerily similar to the hotel in The Shining. No joke. There was even a hallway that I fully expected to see the twins calling to me. And the first night of my four nights was only three of us in the ENTIRE resort. It was mildly scary...until we started drinking. Then the fear went away and the joy began. It was only my sister Beth and her fiance Rick in the resort. I really enjoy spending time with them. Rick is a great guy and I couldn't be happier that he's now family. And he sends me some fun texts.

As the weekend wore on, more people arrived, including my entire family. It was really great to see all of them again. I don't get to spend much time with them, being that I live in Florida. It's nice though that when we do get together, it seems like no major time has passed, except of course that we are older. I'm 30, by the way. I also got to see many old friends that I haven't seen in years. One guy in particular, Ken Ward. Ken and I were best friends back in the day but as time passed, we went in different directions. Now, over 15 years later, he and I reconnected at the wedding. It was really wonderful to see him and to know that despite going different ways and making different choices, we can still connect.

I mentioned golf earlier. I played. I sucked. That's all. 

The wedding itself was what Beth wanted. Big. Her wedding party was huge and when it was time for her to arrive, all eyes were on her. She looked beautiful as my dad walked her down and happily gave her to Rick. It was a simple service because the party needed to start. Great music, along with an excellent beer selection, led to a raucous reception that ended with a circle of drunks singing "Piano Man."  The afterparty took place in mine and Billy's rooms. We were staying in these gorgeous suites with two floors and a wrap-around balcony. Lots of Pumpkin beer. Now Beth, Rick and their friends are expert party peeps. They know how to do it and this night was no exception. We all drank and laughed until the wee hours of the morning. The next day, as I packed up, I realized that it would be a while before I saw my family again. I definitely had many a nostalgic thought and had the feeling to move back home. Several times I felt that I...needed to go home. However, I know that I have to keep doing what I'm doing down here.

SO that's it for the summer of weddings. I love weddings so this was a great time for me. These weddings, and my 30th, caused me to think about love, life and where I stand in all of it. But that's another story ofr another time.

See ya. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

You like THAT movie??

Whenever a movie discussion comes up, I often hear the phrase, "You like THAT movie?"

It's true. I find that the movies I like are typically unpopular by most people standards. Don't get me wrong, I like some good movies. Many of the classic films I love but some of the movies that I call my favorites are often met with disdain and mockery. SO, here is a list of five movies that I love that often draw a confused and/or judgmental look.

In no particular order:

John Cusack and Kate Beckinsale are in love but will they be together?? Are they meant to be?? It's a sappy ass love story and anyone who knows me knows how much of a sap I am.

Robin Williams dies and leaves behind his soul mate. Incredibly sappy and full of cheesy romantic overtones, set in the literal painted world of Heaven. The reunion scene with his daughter always leaves me in tears.

Other Robin Williams movies I like: Patch Adams, Jack, Toys

Who wouldn't love a movie starring Kim Catrall as an ancient Egyptian who is hiding in the body of a department store dummy? Not only that but Andrew McCarthy is her love interest and James Spader as the tight-assed manager. And of course..HOLLYWOOD! Honorable Mention to its sequel. Also really good.

Guilty pleasure. Motorcycles, luaus, talent shows and Michelle Pfeiffer (spelling?)

Enough said.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Summer Wedding Tour Part 3: Steampunk!

"In the tube,man, time moves differently."
                                        Pete Ives

To be "in the tube" means to be inside of a wave when it's cresting on your surfboard. I can only imagine how that feels; to be doing something that seems to go on forever but ends in seconds. After hearing one of my gracious hosts say these words to me, I thought the same of this place. Time is moving differently here. Slower. Three days felt the best way possible. The place? Martha's Vineyard for the steampunk wedding of Sean Kelley and Chelsea Ives.

Steampunk is industrial victorian, to put it simply. Bowler hats with goggles, pins that are gearshifts, jackets with tails, vests and pocketwatches. It's a dress up dream come true and this is how Sean and Chelsea chose to theme their special day. Guests arrived in proper attire and were treated to a gorgeous venue with two wonderful people committing to the rest of their lives.

Before I talk more about the wedding itself, I need to go back to the place. Martha's Vineyard. Off the coast of Massachusetts, this island is beautiful Complete with hills, woodlands and beaches, it has everything New England can offer. Not a single stoplight on it, only some stop signs. The only way to arrive is by boat.

Those of us lucky to be a part of the wedding army stayed at the Allen Farm in a converted barn. Everyone except me. I was staying a bit down the farm in a small shack that from the outside looked like a cabin out of Friday the 13th, Blair Witch Project and any low budget horror film combined. But never judge a book by its cover. With the windows open, I awoke every day to the crash of waves a few hundred yards away. The barn was great as well. It had a full kitchen, wood burning stove, a beautiful deck and a few clevis toilets. What ARE clevis toilets, you ask??? They are composting toilets, meaning that the waste you put in gets put to good use! As you sit, you don't see a bottom to your toilet, oh no! A long, dark tube that know...poop. After you've finished your business, you toss some saw dust down the hole and let nature happen. At first this was scary but after the first shi...try, it became just another poop. In addition to that, we had to shower outside! A shower attached to the side of the barn was the main source of bodily cleanliness. The verdict? Invigorating! Imagine standing in a scalding hot stream of water and then by simply leaning in one direction, you get the crisp New England air regulating your temperature. I thoroughly enjoyed the outdoor shower. We all did. Not together.

Add to this awesome place some of my favorite people from Chicago and UMass.  It felt like my first real, grown up vacation. Sean and Chelsea assembled some of the finest people to help them in their wedding. And...we drank. Thursday? Drank. Friday? Ate and drank. Saturday? We married and drank. We put away some serious brew over these few days. And it was all good beer.

Now let's talk the wedding. Wow. I had the honor of marrying them. I've known Sean and Chelsea for over a decade. I helped get them together and even pushed them into that first kiss. As I stood before them with the ocean behind me and a sea of family and friends watching, we had what I can honestly say is one of the best weddings I've ever been to. Sean and Chelsea spoke to each other with such love and adoration. Tears of joys filled everyone's eyes, even mine. The ceremony culminated with an absolutely rocking party. We drank and danced the night away. The gang was together again. It was great reconnecting with Caitlin and Cindy, laughing again with Ryan, Molly, Pete and Rob, getting to know Bill and Mel better and running through the grass with Beth Cartier. Leaving today was very hard. Absolutely everything was perfect. Sean and Chelsea's families were so proud to see that their kids take that step today.

Time travels at a different speeds with certain people. Those people at the wedding? I could go years without seeing them and then we snap right back into place. As "real" time goes on, our opportunities to see each other get less frequent and shorter.

But when we are in our tube, man, time moves differently. I love that tube.


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Summer Wedding Tour part 2: Cape Cod

Tradition took center stage as my cousin Erin and her fiancee Tim tied the know on Cape Cod last Friday. Of my four weddings, this one was the most traditional. They were married in a catholic church by a priest in a very sweet ceremony which was followed by a very wonderful reception at a nice country club. The weather? Hot as b*lls! For some reason, the heat has decided to follow me wherever I go. Chicago was very hot and so was the Cape. Now I know what some of you are thinking, "The Cape is always hot in the summer." Yes that's true. However it's not THAT hot all the time. The heat was magnified by the bus ride from our inn to the reception. The buses we took were school buses with NO A/C! Sweating profusely occurred before the dance floor even opened.

Despite the heat, the entire wedding was great. Erin is a wonderful young lady and Tim is a great guy and it made me happy to be there for their special day. In case I haven't made it clear, I like weddings a lot. I enjoy everyone getting dressed up and partying. And this wedding was quite a party. My Uncle Tom and Aunt Helene rolled out the red carpet for their guests with lobster tail during the cocktail hour and everyone's favorite two words: Open Bar. Jack and Coke? I'll have 10. And I'm pretty sure I did along with several beers afterwards with my brother in law to be Rick.

It was fun to catch up with family and see everyone. Summer of weddings continues in September with the wedding of Sean and Chelsea at Martha's Vineyard and then the big one: my sister Beth in the mountains of New Hampshire two weeks later. Those will be intense and I'm quite excited for them .

Until then, friends! Stay young.