Today marks my 25th year alive on this planet. I’ve successfully not died for a quarter of a century. Normally I wouldn’t think much of it, but with my grandfather passing away at 76 years old, it puts the perception in my mind that a third of my life is over.
While that comes across as quite a negative statement, I couldn’t be more happy with my life so far. I have amazing family and friends, a fantastic job, and have been on plenty of adventures. That said, I hope none of that stops and continues on for the rest of my life. Up until now the only thing I’ve never had is a surprise birthday party. They’ve always seemed like fun, and I’ve been jealous of everyone who gets thrown one.
This weekend that all changed. As I got off work on Friday, I realized I had no plans for my birthday. I made arrangements to get together with a few friends at the Muddy Pig. Everything was fine and dandy until I got home and Erin said she was slightly upset with me. She said it with a smirk, and I was slightly confused. She then informed me that she had planned a surprise birthday party for me, inviting several of my friends, at the same place and time that I had started making plans for. While I was slightly upset with myself for ruining my own birthday plans, it was cool that Erin knew what I liked well enough to plan the same thing that I did.
The plans were made for Saturday night, and Friday night we had a quiet night with a little home made parmesan chicken. Saturday morning Erin made some homemade salsa to go with fresh corn chips.
After giving it a thorough taste-testing, I helped our neighbor/friend Matt pick up a new couch. When we got back, Erin coerced me out of the apartment for a long enough time, and then texted me saying she needed help with a large package that was delivered. I walked downstairs and was greeted by the smiling faces of my best friends from Chicago, Brad, Dan, Catherine, and Carly. That part of my birthday remained a total surprise, and it’s more than I could have asked for.
We spent the night drinking, sharing stories, eating good food, laughing and smiling. It was my first (un)surprise birthday party and it was perfect. Today was spent recovering and relaxing, and feels like the perfect end to an awesome weekend. I couldn’t have asked for anything more, and I owe the great time to Erin and my wonderful friends.
I’ve been doing a lot of traveling for the holidays. This past Saturday we swung up to Milwaukee in order to watch a Marquette basketball game (we won!) and see some friends. While passing through Marquette’s campus I reflected on my 4 years there. The further back I went with my memories, I realized that my college career did not start how I wanted it to.
When I was still in highschool, I was hard set on attending Marquette. Maybe a little too much though, as until my parents forced me to apply to two other schools Marquette was the only university I had submitted an application to. My dad went there, and I had visited my cousin Mike who is three years older than me. I was ready to bleed blue and gold, and I wanted to do it in the dorm best know for it’s freshman engineering floors, Carpenter Tower.
But there was a problem, I couldn’t just choose to live in Carpenter, I had to pick my top three dorm choices and hope I got in. Carpenter was my number one choice, and I’ve honestly forgotten my second two choices, but I know for a fact that McCormick was not any of my choices. Weeks later I received my dorm information, and I ended up in……..
Or as many students like to call it, “The Beer Can”. I was also placed on the ‘diversity floor’, which was definitely an interesting experience. I was, by far, the most un-cool kid on that floor. While I was studying for computer engineering classes, or playing a few rounds of Halo, the rest of the floor was usually busy partying, playing basketball, or playing really loud hip-hop music. Don’t get me wrong, they were all really nice guys and extremely friendly, but we had vastly different hobbies.
There were also a lot of nice girls on the floor above me. It was awkward at first, as I had always had a hard time talking to girls in highschool. I was lucky though, as all of the gals on the 8th floor of McCormick were not only kind and friendly, but were charismatic and easy to talk to. My social skills grew by leaps and bounds that year, and I made friends that I still talk to today.
While I wasn’t unhappy, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted. I wanted to be with fellow nerds on the fourth floor of Carpenter. I wanted a geeky roommate with whom I could make jokes like, “I wish I were your derivative so I could lay tangent to your curves.” I had to get my nerd fix whilst at engineering classes in the Olin and Haggerty Engineering buildings on campus. I met a lot of great guys, and they quickly started inviting me back to Carpenter with them to work on homework, projects, and study for tests. There were a few critical moments that changed my life for the better. One of them was when I started hang out with Phil and Shivam, and we collected a huge amount of SoBe bottles. The other was when Matt invited me over to his dorm room, The Cave, to work on some homework. It was there I ran into Jim, who to this day remains one of my best friends.
It wasn’t the first time I ran into Jim though, we had an English class together. It’s hard to describe how he looked in that class. Take an Irish heavy-metal rocker, dress him in all black (including black denim jeans!), add in a dash of college home-less-ness, and remove any possibility or hint of a smile from his face. That was Jim, and he looked like the kind of guy who would stab me in an alley. It probably also didn’t help that I rolled into our first class wearing Heelys. Yes, the shoes that five year old kids wear at the mall and slide around on. And yes, they make them in a size 12 for men.
Upon walking into The Cave and seeing Jim sitting in the corner, smile-less, shrouded in darkness, my first though was, “oh shit, he’s got me trapped now.” Thankfully Jim turned out to be extremely nice, and only had a rough exterior.
I become close enough to a number of the C4 guys (as they were commonly called), they started inviting me to spend the night in their rooms, crashing on a floor or couch. There was a catch though, as Marquette requires all guests to be checked in, For overnight guests you need to fill out a pass, and you are limited to a certain amount per month. The solution to this was simple, I hopped from room to room each night and slept at Carpenter. It happened so often that I was even considered an honorary member of their floor and was invited to their post-college get together.
Being forced to skip from room to room forced me to become friends with a large number of people. All in all I think it turned out for the best. I had experiences I will never forget, I made lifelong friendships, and I obtained social skills that will last me a lifetime. No, college didn’t start out how I wanted it, but looking back, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
This weekend has been a blast, and both Erin and I have been having awesome social adventures. On Friday we hit up the Shout House with Jake and Samantha. There was a short stint where they just belted out a Disney songs.
Before going out though, we cooked up some great dinner! Well, at least I did. Erin is usually the house/apartment cook so I thought it would be nice to return the favor. On my work lunch break on Thursday I picked up some goods from the downtown Minneapolis Farmer’s Market. Fresh corn on the cob, peppers of various colors, and hand picked tomatoes accompanied white rice and chicken.
Today (Saturday), Erin and I brought Tucker to visit Chad and his family in Saint Anthony. We all played in the back yard for about two hours, and I was easily the most worn out by the end of it. A quick power nap was a great way to reenergize. Then this evening Sam and Mike stopped by for some burgers and other miscellaneous food things. (Side note, they do GREAT frontend web development.) In preparation I stopped by the local liquor store, Big Top! I find it humorous that it’s called Big Top, and the logo is literally a circus tent. They do have a fantastic micro-brew section, both local and domestic.
In my preparations I failed to get cheese for the hamburgers. I’ve never been a fan of having cheeseburgers, so much so that I had a whole shopping list for dinner and didn’t even write cheese down. A quick jog over to the nearby gas station and I was able to grab some. Along the way I was able to get a quick panoramic photo of our apartment building.
It’s been a great weekend with great people, and I look forward to a lazy Sunday tomorrow.
Not sure where the title came from, those words are just currently ringing through my head. After finishing my first day at the new job, I came back to my apartment and just relaxed. A quick trip to Target allowed me to buy a few groceries, and with them make some spaghetti for dinner. It seemed fitting, as it was always something my mom would make me, and it was comforting to cook something that reminded me of home. After eating, I had the pleasure of receiving a phone call from Brad Collins. For an hour and a half we caught up, shared stories, and reminded of one of the hardest parts about leaving Illinois: leaving my best friends behind.
For those of you who don’t know, Brad and I met in the Fall of 2003, in a computer programming class held at Marian Catholic Central High School. That is also where I met Dan Borkowski. The two of them have been my best friends, and two of the closest people I’ve had in my life. We’ve played video games until the wee hours of the morning more times than I can count. We supported each other during the dramatic times in school, talked about girls, discussed our plans for our futures, celebrated each other’s 21st birthdays, and to this day rely on each other for advice and support.
Part of my hope with this move is to find new friends, not to replace any existing ones, but to add to the wealth of happiness and friendship that I already have. I would consider myself extremely lucky to find new friends who are half as good as Brad and Danny are.
As I sit here pondering all of this, I enjoy the evening sky, and the night breeze by sitting on my balcony. I’ve never had a balcony at any of the places I’ve lived, and it’s pretty awesome. I enjoy hearing the sounds of Minneapolis, trucks rolling by in the distance, quiet conversations of people walking below, and the trees shuffling in the wind.
Too all my friends back home, I miss you all and plan on visiting as soon as I can!