Back on the road, this week to Napa Valley. It's only a 50K tournament, so in theory, the quality of players might be a little bit lower, but I haven't even looked at the entry list now that there have been about 7 withdrawals.
Flight leaves this morning at 7:10, so of course I got to the airport at 5:30 so I could be super prepared to get through security, which is obviously so tough in Champaign-Urbana. I was up to the gate within 10 minutes. Really, when you think about it, it's kind of embarrassing.
I also missed yesterday's bar crawl with my friends. I believe the 5th annual? 7th? I don't know. But to think they did it while students were in town...yikes.
That's it for now. Going from CMI to DFW to LAX to SFO today, about a 14 hour day. And here we....gooooooo
Mostly because I don't have many public outlets anymore.
So, professionally speaking, I'm now:
-A PA Announcer, proudly, at the University of Illinois.
-A tennis play by play broadcaster. WHAT?
-A "professional" poker player. WHAT?
I'm really excited about the new things in my life.
Personally, since my last post, I've gotten married, and bought a house.
Seriously. It's not like we have a ton of money, but I'm absolutely thrilled about the direction life is headed.
My next trip out on the road is September 22nd. I think I'm going to blog as much as possible on the road, so that I remember the trips as they go. 3 stops in Cali out there, including Napa Valley. Hell. That's incredible.
OK. This is a start.
Had a nice little get together for a few friends and family last night. Very thankful that Dad and Steve could make it from Lombard, and Leigh from...well, wherever she is nowadays. The thing about parties like that, you're never able to spend enough time with everyone. So to my friends and family that were able to come, I'm sorry I didn't get to spend time with you. But I'm quite appreciative that you could make it.
Why do I like Ke$ha? That's messed up.
Vegas was, as always, fun. So wonderful to see the Satki, and Walls. Spent a ton of time with LouLou Daschler, which was also enjoyable. And seeing my brothers in a more fun and relaxed atmosphere...it was good. My biggest disappointment, which should be no surprise to anyone, was not being able to play more poker. Ultimately, however, poker pails in comparison to getting a chance to see people you don't get to see very often. So I'll take that.
Upcoming for me: Trip to Minocqua this weekend to see the grandparents, and then a *gasp* cruise in August. It terrifies me. I'm sure one of the two things will happen: 1) Some sort of listeria type illness. 2) We will sink.
Or 3) Vomitorium.
But I'll battle through. Any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.
Well, I'm done with announcing for the year. I mean, I have a high school game that I have to do next Monday night, but no more U of I games for a while.
The move for Julia and I has been challenging, as there are several issues with the house. Bugs, dirt, a bum thermostat...just a bunch of little things that have added up to more stress than I think either of us needed or wanted. But we're hanging in. Julia's parents arrive today for a 5 day stay. That should again test my guilt issues. I struggle mightily with the fact that I get up so early, and wake people up. I mean, it's a necessity, obviously, but I still feel crummy about it.
The cats are coming along. Maggie still hisses and attacks my cats from time to time, but it's not nearly as bad as it was. And Stinky has a new haircut (which you can see on twitter and FB), which makes him much more cool during these hot summer months.
Trying to figure out where to go this summer. Going to Vegas next week with the Satki, Walls, and Mcnabb-Daschlers. And my brothers. Thats something. In July, I'd like to sneak up to Wisconsin for a couple of days. And then in August, I'll need to go somewhere with Julia. So we have to figure that out. ANy suggestions?
So, the funeral was this weekend. It was certainly emotionally gutwrenching, but again, it made me gain some perspective. Hearing Steve's father's words about his lost son...just an amazing tribute to a man gone too soon. I hope some day, people would say so many kind things about me.
That being said, the family asked that any donations go towards an educational fund set up for Steve's son, Charlie. I would like to run the Nashville Half Marathon next year, and raise money for that purpose.
In that respect, I've never done a fundraising run, nor any fundraising at all for that matter. I have a couple of concerns. 1) I don't like asking people for money. That's one I'm just going to have to get past. 2) This is not a traditional one. It's not like I'm doing the American Cancer Society, or L&L Society, or anything like that. I'd be running to honor the memory of my friend, and help with his son's education. How do I do that?
I don't really know how to process this too well. Essentially, Steve was diagnosed with leukemia, and within 48 hours, he died. He was 33. He has a newborn at home. He got married just a few years ago. Julia and I got to see him and his wife Robin last summer, and they took us out in Nashville.
It's obviously not fair. That child will grow up not knowing that his father was a great, great guy. Steve won't have the luxury of being there to see his son find his own Dukes of Hazzard. Steve's parents have to put their own child in a grave next week. My mom is struggling with this a great deal too, as she and Sue are still great friends.
I struggle a great deal with death. I never know how to process it well. I think about how much that person meant to me, and how they impacted my life. But just like so many other people, tomorrow, or the next day, life goes on, and we lose the ability to have that person's life, or death, impact us in a way that it should.
So I'm trying to choose to celebrate what Steve meant to me. He was a great, great friend. From the moment we moved in to Orchard Downs in 1981, until he moved to San Antonio six or seven years later, we were best friends. His parents took me in a lot while my mom was working and doing her studies. In so many ways, he was more a brother for me than anything else. So many children of single parents struggle with the fact that their parent is gone a lot of the time. I never had to deal with that, because the Andersons took me in without question.
Steve and I would play catch, race big wheels, and yeah, we watched the Dukes of Hazzard every Friday night. I would delay going to my Dad's house specifically so I could watch it with Steve.
He played on my softball team when he came back here to the U of I to do some graduate studies. I got to go to his wedding in Atlanta a few years ago, just an incredible ceremony...
I don't know what else to say. Today I'm running a 5K. It's the first time I've been lucky enough to run a race since ripping up my hamstring last August. I have bitched and moaned about it, and so many other issues in that time. Meanwhile, a friend who I think so highly of, and impacted me in so many ways, thinks he's dealing with allergies for months...
I think over the last three or four years, I've done a very good job of making sure I focus on living in the moment, and celebrating the good things that happen. It's been a drastic change for me, as I know I can be an extremely negative person, and get bogged down when things don't go my way.
These are definitely the moments that reinforce that all the therapy, study, and personal work I've done have been for good reasons. To celebrate your good times. Remember that having enjoyable, laughable, romantic, emotional moments are so much more fulfilling than just complaining about your job, or how you didn't get enough sleep, or whatever. I have to remember that tonight, when I'm running that 5K, and my knees start to ache a little, or my hamstring feels like it's not 100% again. I'm here, I'm doing something that I love to do, and just focus on that.
I know I'll be fine. The initial shock of the last hour is the tough thing, along with the services in the next week or so. After that, the sting of loss goes away, and what you're left with are some wonderful memories of a kid who meant a lot to you then, and an adult who made an impact on so many.
So to his wife Robin, son Charlie, parents Sue and Charlie, and sister Kristen, I send my sincerest thoughts and love. I can't imagine the difficulty that the next week will bring. I wish I could do more to help ease it, although the knowledge that Steve meant so much to so many will comfort you in some way.
To Steve, thank you. You have been a great friend. I admire you in so many ways. We both dealt with some pretty difficult circumstances growing up, living in the Downs. It wasn't glamourous. But I think we both made the best of it, and had some spectacular times. I remember crying my eyes out at my Grandparents house the day you guys moved to San Antonio. Seeing you as an adult, and how you've matured, and become a great man...it's inspiring. You made quite an impact, and I will miss you.
To myself...focus, Mike, on things more important than yourself. You've done a great job of being better with this in the last few years. Try to continue to improve upon this. You have many large challenges facing you in the next couple of years. Tackle them, deal with their difficulty, and celebrate the experiences.
So, I moved. That's one thing. Julia and I have a house...which is nice, except for the fact that so far, we've dealt with the following: 1) lack of water 2) sewage coming through a toilet 3) uncleaned rooms 4) a plethora of dead bugs in her studio 5) Cats who are all pissed.
It's been tricky. I also fell down the stairs on Sunday, and may have torn something slightly in my left shoulder. Rough week. But we're getting through, and it's on to the next one.
I also have lots of thoughts about the Department of Justice and FBI seizing the domains of the 3 major poker sites. Fuck that. Excuse my language, but of all the things to worry about, you worry about that? These are companies that have been working hard to become legal so that the US can get a part of the profits...yes, while they increase their profits, but it would potentially mean BILLIONS to the government. And the FBI and DOJ step in? Ridiculous. Regardless, it has made things much more difficult for me in terms of working on my hobby. Tony has found a site for us to play on, though, and we're working on getting some cash on there. Will keep you updated.
I've been meaning to write this for a couple of days now...what happened at Zorbas really hit me pretty hard last week.
For those that don't know, a fire started in the apartment above Zorbas last week, and destroyed the top floors of the building that houses the restaurant, along with Zas and Pitaya on the first floor. Zorbas itself didn't burn down, neither did the other two businesses. But it was such a massive blaze that the water damage and smoke damage was extensive.
Last night, Matt Mortenson, the owner, and my boss for four years while I worked there, posted some pictures of the damage. It was hard to look at. Again, no actual fire damage, but the memorabilia on the wall....the floors....the walls...all just really in pretty bad shape.
I actually went over the day of the fire. If you follow me on twitter or facebook, I posted two pictures. It's hard to explain. Those four years, I met some of my closest friends, people I still get to talk to and hear from. It was amazing how many of them I reconnected with on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
A lot of people have offered Matt their support, although none of us can really do anything. He said during an interview with our morning show that he was staying positive, and was still cracking jokes.
And that's my lasting memory of Matt. Continuous positivity. He suffered through some very difficult times while I worked there, as he took over the business from the previous, longtime owner. Yet he stayed positive, focused on what he could control, and remembered that his family was his #1 priority at all times, and the business a close second.
The other thing I will always appreciate about Matt was his willingness to engage in a marketplace of ideas. Matt is a religious man, and his faith tends to make him lean in a more conservative direction. Yet many of his employees tended to be much more on the liberal side. As a result, we would have these very serious discussions about things ranging from abortion, to presidential politics, to financial matters, all while slinging gyros. And he encouraged it, and participated. It meant a lot to a lot of people. I hope he understands how many people were affected by the way he treated us as employees over the years.
So close. I did another great rehab workout on Monday, and I've been slowly, SLOWLY increasing the amount of weight during some of the exercises, and the pain has not come back. Now, the muscle is just sometimes tired, which is to be expected. So are many of the other leg muscles, because they haven't been used in that way in 7 months.
It feels great.
Tomorrow, it's going to be 58 degrees outside. I'm thinking of at least going for a nice walk, and seeing what happens.