Saturday, January 9, 2010

Me, my M.O.O.S.E. and I

The Christmas season officially comes to a close tomorrow (liturgically that is, in the Hallmark world I think we are well on our way into Valentine's Day already), so let me take this time to reflect on this past Christmas season. Now I could reflect on the wonderful time I had at home in St. Paul, hanging with the fam and catching up with old friends, or I could discuss the snow-swept plains of central Wisconsin where camp friends congregate each year for a staff reunion, but instead I will share with you an epic tale of someone I hate. And his name is Tom Klind.

Please note the cleverly devised title to this post. Do you get it? It's a play on words of that old phrase "me, myself and I". Some (certainly not my roommates) might say that this phrase may accurately describe the motivation behind most of the things I do. I can't say I disagree. But dare I say that this is a quality that Tom and I share, his own propensity for "#1" nearly mirroring mine. It can be suffocating to be in the same room with the two of us, as our big heads leave little room for much else. Perhaps this is why we are friends...or enemies?

Tom has played guitar at Thursday Night Mass (the new Tuesday Night Mass) (which of course makes Tuesday Night Mass the new 6pm Lutheran Service) for the past four years. So imagine my surprise when Tom told me this fall that he was in a new Rock & Roll band (aka devil music). Clearly, I was opposed to this band from the outset, and not just because Tom was in it. Would my salvation be in jeopardy if I listened to their music? I couldn't be sure. The band was called M.O.O.S.E. and the Newfies and they were to have their first show last month at Caffrey's Pub right on Marquette's campus. (For the curious bystander, M.O.O.S.E officially stands for absolutely nothing, but unofficially stands for Men Offering Others Sexy Entertainment.) I refused to go to Tom's show (nothing could irritate Tom more) and fortunately, I felt that God had spared me from damnation by conveniently scheduling me to work that same Friday night. So not only did I ignore the facebook invite (each consecutive time Tom sent it to me), I wasn't even able to go. Nonetheless, Tom still apparently wanted me to be there, offering to ask two of my coworkers that he knew (Clete and RJ) to take this Friday night shift for me. This was an offer I never actually expected him to follow through on...

Now, two critical things happened in the weeks approaching Tom's first show at Caffrey's Pub. #1 Tom developed a certain propensity for a unnamed roommate of mine. This affinity was a near constant source of entertainment for the rest of us who were
able to live and watch it go on...and on...and on. #2 A couple days before the show, Tom, shall we say, broke my confidence on a certain matter, for which I was less than pleased with him about. And don't you worry, gentle reader, I let him know about it. But like all good Catholics, Tom is very motivated by guilt, so the next day I received an olive branch text message from Tom. "I asked Clete if he could work for you," it read, "he's got a wedding." Moderately touched by the reconciliation he was offering via the newfangled technology of texting, I responded by thanking him for trying.

It was only a few hours later, when To
m, using his BlackBerry® wireless device from U.S. Cellular, placed a real live phone call to me.

"Monica," he said. "I found someone to work for you!" F
airly amazed by this feat, I asked, "Wow, was RJ able to take it for me then?"
"," Tom replied. "RJ has a hockey game that night." I was now a bit confused. Who, other than the two coworkers Tom knew, would be taking
my shift at the Information Desk on Friday night? "Then who is working for me, Tom?"
His reply? "Jeff." Jeff??, I thought.
"Tom," I asked, concerned. "Who is Jeff, and how did you go about getting him to work for me?"
"Well, Monica," Tom responded. "It's funny that you shoul
d ask. You see, after I found out neither Clete nor RJ could work for you, I just walked into the Union, walked up to the Info Desk, and told the two people working there that I had a friend named Monica who really needed someone to take her shift for her on Friday night, and I asked if either one of them was available. Jeff said he was, I gave him your email address, and he should be sending you an email shortly taking that shift." Tom was clearly very pleased with himself, but I myself was speechless. Jeff was obviously one of the new hires that I hadn't even had a chance to meet yet.
"Let me get this straight, you just walked up to two people that neither you or I know, and convinced one of them to take my shift on Friday so that I could come to your concert?"
"Yes," he responded, pridefully (of course).
And that, my friends, is how Tom Klind became the new shift manager at the Info Desk.

Now, before you get all caught up in how wonderful of
a guy Tom is for going to such great lengths to rectify a friendship, let us look at this situation a little closer. There are three possible motivations for this act of decency:
#1 Tom could just be a really great guy, who wanted to
help a friend out, and would go out of his way to do that. Possible.
#2 Tom's ego is so great that he would do anything possible to get even o
ne more fan into his show. More likely.
#3 Tom realized that it would not bode
well for his chances with my roommate if one of her roommates was pissed at him. Let's be honest, people, this is probably why he did this.

Anyway, at this point you might be wondering what any of this has to do with Christmas, and I tell you that I'm getting there, this is just back story (and yes, only I would write hundreds of words of back story before ever getting to the actual point). Now I was able to attend and dare I say enjoy Tom's show, and it was so successful that Caffrey's invited the band back for a Christmas show in December. Now, not wanting to let Tom think that I would actually willingly attend his subsequent show, I had to take a stand and make a deal with him. I tried to think of the most unlikely Christmas song the band would choose to play at their Christmas show, and make that the deal breaker. "God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman" I told Tom. I would only attend his Christmas concert if and only if he played this song. He laughed, agreed, and I think perhaps thought I was kidding. For weeks. I wasn't.

I showed up to Tom's concert that night fashionably la
te, about 15 minutes into the set. There was already a crowd swelling around them as they jammed. I smiled at this because I walked in with a small sign that read, well, something like this:

Except imagine this: a crowd of people in front of M.O.O.S.E. and I enter Caffrey's unnoticed. As soon as I get there though, from behind all of these jiving people, I simply hold my sign above their heads, and I wait. Tom's singing...singing...singing...and all of a sudden he sees just the sign above the heads of his fans, doesn't even see me. And the kid just starts laughing on stage. People naturally began to look back at me, but I wasn't ashamed. Sure Tom had a set list prepared, but he knew what he needed to do. He had to play it. He promised. But he just ignored me. I did not give up.

Eventually others joined in the cheering for it as well, even people I didn't even know. Between songs, it just became a constant barrage of shouting for Tom to play God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and the sign was waved high during other songs. By the break in the sets, I was getting a little dismayed, worried that maybe Tom thought us joking about this for weeks meant I was actually just joking about it. I wasn't. But then, a few songs into the second set......

....the kid came through. It was brief (Tom tried to tell me later that GRYMG only has one verse. False.) but it was wonderful. Some people missed it the first time around too, but Tom did not want to disappoint, so he played it again. And it was then that my Christmas dream came true. Some people wish for horses, some fine jewelery, and some...just want an old fashioned Christmas tune played. And who isn't excited about that??

But even if Tom hadn't come through, I probably would have still enjoyed the concert...maybe?

Note: The following text messages were exchanged in preparation for this post:

MONICA: Tom, would you be horribly offended if I wrote an entire blog post mocking you, or would it pad your ego?
TOM: Haha write two.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

An aside...

Some devoted readers may recognize this picture from my infamous (and arguably best) post about Tyler Hansbrough and his suspected endocrine disorders. Well, endocrine disorders happened to be on my pharmacology exam yesterday, and this picture found its way into the notes. Indeed it seems as if Dr. Mantsch googled "Grave's Disease" as well and found this same picture. I laughed.

Friday, November 20, 2009


Many of our faithful readers may have been concerned by the lack of posts of late, but I would like to assure all of you that I am alive and well, though my soul is slowly being sucked out of me through PA school. (Pray for me.) So to catch you up on all that has happened in the past few months, I thought I would give you a photo slideshow. Unfortunately, precious little has happened outside of studying, so the slideshow will be brief. Just one photo.

My roommates find my method of studying fairly entertaining, so I thought I would share it with all of you reading at home. Yes, this photo depict me on a step stool staring at my wall. But fear not, PA school has not derailed my psyche so much that I interact with inanimate objects. Nay, if you look closer, the wall is covered in study guides detailing the intricacies of diagnostic technologies and treatment plans for just about anything that could go wrong with your kidneys or urinary tract. I typically make these guides, then tape them to the wall so that I can see everything at the same time. It helps to compare things, get the big picture. But while my roommates laugh at me, one of my professors who is studying me for his Master's in Education called my method similar to those that geniuses employ. It wasn't long after walking around the apartment referring to myself as the live-in genius before Megan said, "Yes, Monica, but most serial killers are also geniuses." Fair.

Now this particular evening was not only epic for the amount of studying that occurred, but because of the true disaster that occurred while trying to heat up a simple snack. All I wanted was some popcorn, you know, to keep me going into the night. But while my mind was on kidney stones and boggy prostates, it clearly overlooked two essential mechanisms specific to the making of popcorn in our microwave. #1 Our microwave may or may not be nuclear powered and #2 I had bought those cute 100 calorie packs of popcorn last time at the store (in accordance with my half-assed Weight Watchers). In the end what happened was I put my mini bag in the microwave for the same amount of time I would a normal bag. Then I turned on the faucet to wash dishes while it cooked, not hearing the pops slow to a stop after, you know, probably 30 seconds. No, for two solid minutes that popcorn popped, baked, carcinogenized and nearly caught on fire. And what was once my biggest pet peeve (burning popcorn) was now my own greatest failure. It was truly a personal low. Naturally I took it out of the microwave, smoking, and threw it out on the porch. I shut the kitchen door so that the smell would not dissipate to the remaining rooms of our apartment. And on a 30 degree evening, our backdoor was open completely for over four hours, without much improvement. I am telling you that I mutilated this popcorn. It was no average burn. Significant fumigation continued the next day, and eventually the odor has disappeared. Thankfully my roommates mostly thought it was funny (mostly) but it has taken awhile to walk away from the shame.

A view from the porch. WHYYYYYYY?????

Taking responsibility for what I did.

And so we press on. It's almost Thanksgiving, so hopefully that will mean time for more blogging, but in the mean time, keep reading and remember that no snack, no matter how delicious, is worth ruining the nasal passages of those you live with.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Nerf Guns

As I was discussing Veterans' Day with my students today, we obviously got on the topic of war. During the discussion, one of my students raises his hand and asks (in all seriousness) 'Ms. K., why can't all wars just be fought with Nerf Guns?'. Good question. Why must we have all this senseless loss of life? I believe as a nation, we have become detached from the idea of war and the horrible things that go along with it. We hear about all the people who died on any given day, but do we really take the time to realize and mourn for the loss of a human life? Someone lost their brother, mother, father, daughter or son, and we simply go on with our lives. Today we honor those who have sacrificed and continue to sacrifice to serve our country. Let their sacrifices not be something we think of once or twice a year. We say 'thank you' to those who have given their lives so we can live our lives the way we do. I pray that one day we might change the way we live our lives so that sacrifice of life is unnecessary. I pray that we, as a human race, will change our hearts and make war something people read about in books rather than see on the news every night. Bring on the Nerf Guns.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

California 10

10. Destination...California
Drive West on 80, stop before you drive in to the ocean. Pretty simple. So one would think. February is not an ideal time to be driving 1600 miles through snow and ice, but I had my brother, lots of music and Stephen King short stories to keep me company. The trip had been relatively uneventful (minus people getting walked in on in gas station bathrooms, gazelle sightings, and toxic trail mix) for the first day and a half. Living my entire life in places with snowy winters, the snow we had encountered was not an issue. Having just gotten off the phone with my parents, telling them everything was great and that we were on our way to Sacramento, we began the trek across the Sierra Nevadas. Cue blizzard of the century. Approximately 45 seconds following the phone call, the snow started to come down. There would be no turning back once we started through the Sierras. There was a heated discussion about continuing or stopping. Onward. The interstate was closed to trucks. It was also closed to vehicles without snow tires or chains on their tires. in Chicago, tire chains were not the types of chains one needed. Therefore, I got to pay approximately $100 for a gym teacher from Reno to install snow chains on my tires. You might be questioning why we continued and I am still questioning that myself. Rolling through the mountains driving 23 miles an hour, arguing about whose fault it would be if we end up like the Donner Party, unable to see more than 2 feet in front of the car, things got a little tense. I have never seen a snow like that before. I am glad that we lived to tell about it. Things were touch and go for awhile. The next day I dropped my brother off at the airport in San Francisco and promptly got myself lost in the city. Managing to find the Golden Gate Bridge, I pulled into the viewing area with approximately 4003 other non-Californians and took this lovely photograph.

Welcome to California.

9. Postcard scenery

The redwoods are pretty incredible. As are the stars. Being in the sticks had it's benefits, but there were moments of terror as well. Walking home from work one day, I about had a heart attack when I thought I thought I saw a mountain lion. Just the neighbor's dog. Having found a mostly eaten deer carcass the week before, I don't
think my fear was too unfounded. Then there was the time I thought I saw a wolf under my front porch. Wolves don't live in the area, which is why I was extra scared. But there were bobcats around and I grew to be less afraid of the eyes watching me in the dark. Oh, and on a night hike I found some glow in the dark fungus. It was the coolest thing. I was with a group of students and thought I was imagining things, but sure enough, we found some luminescent fungi.

8. Wine Country
When I used to think of wine, I would think of rich, sophisticated people dressed in suits eating brie and discussing whatever rich sophisticated people discuss when in social situations, or I would think of groups of college kids drinking wine (with a classy name like Carlo Rossi or Charles Shaw) that was scooped from a plastic drawer into a solo cup. Sonoma County, California is wine country. Close to Napa Valley, but maybe slightly less well-known. I was told by many folks that it's better than Napa, but being in Sonoma, they are obviously biased. Regardless, it is beautiful! Rolling hills and mile after mile of perfect rows of grapevines. Sonoma county has over 250 vineyards. Thats a lot of grapes. There are many different events in wine country, one being Barrel Tasting. Two weekends in March, where wine makers give folks a preview of the next year's releases. Sounds like a good idea, right? For the wine makers, yes. For Laura, no. I learned a lot about wine, what goes into making it, the process, etc., but I still probably couldn't tell the difference between a $3 bottle of Charles Shaw and a $70 bottle of De Loach. So Barrel Tasting weekend comes around and you get a wine glass and visit the various wineries. There's great wine, music, food and lots of people. The whole purpose of the event is to get people all loopy on wine and then entice them to buy 'futures' of the wine they are sampling. Futures are offered at a percentage off of the cost that the bottles will probably cost once they are released (I say probably, because since the wine isn't fully aged, it will taste different once it is released the following year). So we're having a great time and visit a place where my friends are friends with the owners. The very nice people at Graton Ridge Cellars. It's no secret that I like deals, so the idea of a large percentage off of anything is difficult for me to resist. Add a couple glasses of wine and an amazing salesman named Greg to that equation and you get me (who has purchased a total of approximately seven bottles of wine in her lifetime), spending a paycheck on a case of wine that I will not see for a year. It all happened so fast. I'm still not sure how it all transpired. So, once I figure out how I am going to pick up my order from California, you are invited to my house to enjoy some delicious Petite Syrah and Chardonnay!!

7. Summer Camp
I definitely thought my summer camp days were over. It had been great volunteering the past few summers, but work at summer camp again?! Well, that happened. It just made sense with my schedule, and I had the opportunity to take a pretty cool job. Lots of planning, organizing, scheduling and a bit too much office time, but it was a good summer. It was definitely a waaay different summer camp experience for me. My role was a lot different. I enjoyed myself, learned a lot, and became an Excel wiz. This guy Casey and I had the same job title, and did pretty much everything together all summer. If we were more than three inches away from each other for more than an hour or so, it felt weird. He's phenomenal and I don't think I could have done that job with anyone else. He is also the master at making Excel spreadsheets. He took me under his wing and taught me more than I thought there was to know about spreadsheets. I got to work with many incredible, talented, funny people. Experiencing something familiar but having it be a completely different experience allowed me to really think about my previous camp experience. I am grateful for the opportunity to re-realize the gratitude I feel for my time at CG and the amazing people whom I love so much!!

6. Are you a California Department of Transportation Employee??
I love the color orange. I love it so much that I never realized how many people don't like the color orange. Especially how much they don't like wearing orange attire. Around May, we were discussing the color of our staff shirts. it thought it would be a great to have orange staff shirts. So I suggested it. Tangerine looked like a beautiful shade of orange on the computer screen sample. Somehow they got ordered and were on their way. Well, when our tangerine shirts arrived, they looked a bit more like a highlighter than the gatorade cap color I was anticipating. Oops. I couldn't blame this one on anyone. We all looked like Cal-Trans workers. Needless to say I am not allowed to have any input on shirt color next year.

5. Yosimite National Park
My roommate Cary and I went on a short back packing trip to Yosemite.
We got to sit in traffic for awhile passing through Oakland. Nothing says California like five lanes of stand-still traffic. Due to unforeseen circumstances, the drive was longer than anticipated.
When we arrived to the park, the first campsite was full. We checked the next closest one and that was also full. Decision time. Do we drive all the way in to another potentially full campground or do we go back out of the park to the hotel we passed awhile back? Back we went. No Vacancy. Went to a campground, sites were $60. Keep driving. We finally find another campground. Sites were available and $20. By this time in the night, it seems senseless to set up our tent for the six hours we were going to sleep, so we slept in the car. Classy.

4.5 Everywhere you look...
Whatever happened to predictability?? Hopefully you recognize the words to the beloved TGIF staple show. While visiting San Francisco one day, I decided to find the Full House House. A task, scratch that, mission that I would not leave 'The City' before successfully completing. I had spoken to several folks who were unable to locate the house. I set out, following a fairly involved internet research session. I refused to become another statistic who mistakenly believed that the Painted Ladies are where our dear friends DJ, Stephanie and Uncle Jesse lived. So I set out on my excursion. My friend had to work in the city, so I was rolling solo with my free tourist map and little else. So I walked, and walked, and walked and walked. I stopped and enjoyed some Rice A Roni, saw Alcatraz from afar, walked up and down many a hill and then continued walking. I walked up the steepest street I have ever been on, then kept walking. I found the house, and saw Uncle Joey sitting on the front steps. I wish. I had about six seconds to enjoy my little victory and wonder what happened to TGIF's all star line-up before having to speed walk back to the Ferry Building. I raced through some seedy neighborhoods, stopping only once in the Fashion Discount store where I nearly made a very poor clothing decision. I made it to the Ferry with two minutes to spare. When I google mapped my route, I had walked about ten miles. Wow, it's a sad day when you're visiting a city and do little other that wander around trying to find a house where fictional TV characters lived.

4. We are Fools.

The weekend closest to April Fool's Day, many a fool converge on the tiny settlement of Occidental, California for the annual Fool's Day Parade. The town itself is approximately one and one half blocks long. People sure came out of the woodwork for this one. My friends and I all did our part in dressing up and bringing the crazy. We walked in the parade (which lasted about three minutes) and then hung out for the rest of the afternoon. I was fortunate enough to meet this guy named Joe, who was one of the more interesting folks I've met in a long time. 1. He's hysterical. My face hurt after talking to him for an hour. 2. Randomly enough he a
nd I went to the same high school. Granted I grad uated about four decades after him, but we did have the same Social Studies teacher. 3. He offered me a baggie of marijuana. When I said no thank you, he promptly disappeared and I didn't see him for a couple weeks. 4. He gave me two plaid buton down shirts. He gave them to this guy I work with to give to me. Not sure why. One is awesome though and I wear it often. He sent a message with the shirts that would be inappropriate for me to repeat here, but I think he was upset because I told him he couldn't follow me into the bathroom. oh, Joe.

3. Surfing USA!!
I have wanted to go surfing for quite some time and finally had the opportunity. There is one beach I would go to often and watch the surfers, but I didn't think they took beginners out. I had heard about how many people died on the Sonoma Coast and thought it better to stay out of the water. But, I found a little surf shack that offered lessons, so I slipped into a wet suit and ventured out with Bob the surfer and four new friends. Being in the ocean was amazing! Surfing is not easy and I was terrible at it, but I loved loved loved it. If I had started surfing when I got to California, I don't think I would have left. At one point, I decided to try and get past the
break and just hang out in the ocean, so I started paddling and paddling and paddling. I do that for a good thirty minutes, thinking I am actually making some progress. I look back and I am literally twelve feet from shore. Talk about defeating. I gave up on that adventure. The words pummeled and battered have new personal meaning to me, but not only did I not drown or getting eaten by a shark, I had a blast!

2. I used to consider myself a good driver.
Drove into a ditch. No excuses. Thank you AAA for getting my car back for me.

1.5 Random stuff...
My first Californian friend Noah nicknamed me 'starfish'. Not sure why he decided to give me the lamest nickname ever, but when you're one of Hubbell's Angels and you've heard the story where 'I made a difference to that one...' five dozen times, at least it gets a laugh.

I took this picture of my friend Gurpreet (who was kind enough to drive back to Nebraska with me) and it is probably one of my favorite pictures ever.

My friend Rachelle got married in Chicago so I got to spend some time with friends and enjoy the city I miss a lot more than I thought I would.

I got to see my cousins' band, The Henry Clay People, play in San Francisco. They put on a great show!

Casey is an avid disc golfer. He took us out and was very patient with us. This is my friend Cary at one of my favorite courses in the area

Being a native of Wisconsin, I was always irritated by those 'happy cows come from California' commercials. There were many heated discussions about whether or not happy cows do in fact come from California. I saw a lot of cows in California, and I have to admit, they look pretty happy. Happier, I don't know. Apart from the herd of cows I saw fighting over a ten foot shaded area in 105 degree heat in the valley, they look like they're living the life.

1. The Ocean
I fell in love with the ocean. From tidepooling to spectacular sunsets, the ocean off the Sonoma coast has become one of my favorite places in the world. The twenty minute drive from Occidental to the ocean along the incredible Coleman Valley Road might be one of the most beautiful drives in the country. Winding through forrest and pastures, passing by grazing cattle and the beautiful valley, coming up on breathtaking views of where the ocean crashes into land, there is nothing I've seen that's quite like it. There is something incredibly peaceful and inspiring about the ocean. I was fortunate to end many days watching a beautiful sunset at the beach. Something I miss and look forward to experiencing again.

Monday, August 31, 2009


I recall asking my mother for a laser tag birthday when I was 10 years old. I got mini golf instead. Little did I know, twelve years later my dream would finally come true when I would find myself ringing in 22 at the Kalahari Resort playing none other than...laser tag.
Welcome to Pat Hurley's debut on my blog.

Yes, after 10 exhausting weeks of PA summer school, I got on the first train I could and headed to the 'Boo. There is nothing more intellectually relaxing than stomping through a stream, dressing up as a lumberjack's wife, and yelling out Shake Yo' Foot. But before campers came, celebrations naturally needed to occur. A group of us, affectionately referred to as the "old" people, headed to Damon's after placements on Friday. Camp Gray icons like Joe Van Tassel, Mr. Patrick Hurley, and Nicky Kaeler were in attendance and the yucks and grub were good. After at least 19 people had celebrated birthdays around us, my dumb friends decided mine was close enough, and we also celebrated mine.Note the Camp Gray style celebration (aka head rubbing) post-birthday song.

Now, after our meal was finished and they began to turn the lights off, we considered our options for the rest of the evening and also our proximity to the brand-new Kalahari Indoor Adventure Park (as if the Kalahari needed anything else). And we decided to just "take a look".

Well, after giving the terrifying ropes course a look, Mr. Hurley and I decided it would be necessary to check out the laser tag facilities. After going down into the deepest, darkest crevice of the adventure park, we found it. And it looked good. So we loaded a card with enough cash for all of us to play one round and headed to the Kalahari basement for what was sure to be an enjoyable throwback to our childhood.

Lindsay was crucial to the success of this adventure. She was confident that if we worked the employees just right, we could get more than one game out of this. I was skeptical. Nonetheless, there was a bit of a wait before we were able to enter the laser tag arena, but this provided a wonderful opportunity to establish a relationship with our laser tag employees. They were no doubt a bit surprised at the sight of us...I think the average age they typically see down there is 9. But this lead to some jocularity and a bit of a guessing game as to what Mr. Hurley's actual age is. Let's just say they overshot it a little bit (...33!) So as Mr. Hurley repaired his damaged ego, we set out into the laser tag arena. Black lights, bright scenery, it was truly a sight to behold! I discovered several things while we were there: #1 I am not very good at laser tag. #2 Although I am not good, I am consistently not good, and there is something to be said for that. #3 Never wear a floral print shirt to laser tag (you will "light up like a Christmas tree!") #4 Kids, small ones, are ruthless and have no mercy on people who wear inappropriate attire to laser tag (thus contributing to #1). Despite these things, it really was exhilarating and I felt like I was channeling my youth. Dodging lasers, beaming up the sirens, trying to physically harm the children who were playing with us...all around fantastic. And Lindsay was indeed right. After finishing our first game, it only took a few minutes of schmoozing before the laser tag people beamed us up again for another go at it. And another. And another. Yes, four games for the price of one at the Kalahari Resort. We were even so much fun that the employees came out to play with us (again, they make a living at this, so see #1). I'm not really sure why they thought we might be any sort of competition, but I think we made their night, and they certainly made ours. Well played, fellow tagees, well played.

Back row: Joe Baker and me (looking friendlier now than we ever would again--we had just met)
Front row: Mr. Hurley, Carol!, Lindsay, and Bill Van Wagner

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Summer Summary

Nothing, no nothing, brings me more sadness than disappointing my faithful readers. So when I break this news to you, please know that it was truly unavoidable and there is absolutely nothing I can change about it, try as I might. I know that all three of my faithful readers have been waiting at long last for the exciting catalog of my summer escapades, but this is where I fail you, faithful readers: my summer was pretty much uneventful.

I know, I know, you have been looking forward to this day for so long, and here I have so little to share. But we all know that I have a true art for being able to write long winded entries about almost nothing (see all text above), so fear not. I'll find something to say about my summer.

Immediately following senior week (sufficiently covered below), summer school began. I am not sure who thought up the idea of summer school, but I have a feeling that that person will share the same circle of hell as perhaps the people who thought up clam shell plastic packaging for the last ink cartridge I bought. (By the way, did you know that over 6,000 people a year end up in the ER due to injuries trying to open that stuff? Wish I had my own personal Jaws of Life sometimes...)

So back to summer school. It was difficult but interesting. For the first time in my life I am taking classes that are applicable to my future career--who would have thought?! Much of the summer was spent preparing to give real live patients a physical exam and take a medical history. To that end, many friends became much closer friends as I checked out their heart, lungs, skin, etc. Check out how thrilled Joe was to be my guinea pig:

(Look at that face. Would YOU trust that? God help my future patients...)

You will note that the building looks a bit dim in this picture. I will tell you we went through many, many patients in preparation for our Standardized Patient Exam. Some kind souls would literally go from physical to physical if they were friends with many PAs (note to self: befriend only one and you'll get out faster!) This picture was taken late on a Friday night stuck in the building. Sad, I know. But I don't think the program foresaw what would come if they remodeled the building and gave us 24-hour swipe access to it. Yes, frazzled PAs would do what any other reasonable individual would do after a lot of hard work on a Friday night:

We played poker.

Now you may be thinking to yourself, "Self, is that really ALL Monica did this summer? If so, that would be sad." You would be correct in that assessment, but in fact I did have a few exciting events to keep me going. I visited my family for Fourth of July, visited my good friend Lindsay in Racine, and traveled to Madison for one of the most beautiful weddings of my life (Terese and I attended the wedding escorted by our friends Tom and Dave. They knew we would get emotional, but they weren't prepared for just how emotional we would be. As Alison began walking down the aisle, Dave noticed me tearing up on his right, Terese bawling on his left, looked at his watch and whispered, "It's been four minutes!")

In between these big events, many smaller events occurred in what became a Thursday night ritual, if you will. It all began one night after JJ, Jack, and Ryan asserted their manliness by helping me move. (I bribed them with Sobelman's burgers first.) After moving me entirely in under 90 minutes, singing the entire time, we all grabbed a well-deserved beer and stepped out onto the fire escape. Ryan de-asserted his manliness by grabbing a Smirnoff Ice. No one knows why. But it was there on the fire escape that we planned our summer. We agreed to go to weekday Mass together once a week, and as luck would have it, the night that worked out the best was in fact Thursdays. You see, we are all frequent school-year-Thursday-night-Mass goers, so it was only fitting to attend Thursdays in summer as well. This time however, Mass was at 5:30 PM and would be promptly followed by a barbecue each week on my fire escape. Without fail (ok, July got a little weak) we met for Mass and brought a truly delightful array of goodies to Apartment Y. JJ brought wine and store bought coleslaw each week, Jack tantalized us with marinated steak fajitas, and Ryan rarely brought anything but ate twice as much as anyone else. Others joined us on these occasions as well and these times spent trying to light my Roundy's brand charcoal are some of my best summer memories.

The group culminated with a trip to Miller Park for Jack's birthday. Our very favorite Jesuit, Fr. Thomas Anderson, joined us for this celebratory occasion. Fr. Tom drove us in the Jesuit Toyota RAV-4 (vow of poverty?!?!) and made a quick detour into Walgreens when we realized no one had brought buns for our tailgate. Ryan flew in and showed true all-star potential by avoiding the long lines at the check out and making his purchase in photo. Genius.

The trip became moderately to significantly awkward when, while the rest of our group was setting up the grill and Fr. Tom and I left to grab our tickets from will call, I noticed that a friend of a gentleman I had recently ceased dating was tailgating just three cars away. Ducking behind a car, I then had to explain to a Jesuit how I needed to avoid this situation in case my former datee was accompanying said friend. Yes, in the Miller Park parking lot, behind a Chevy Silverado, Fr. Tom became my wingman.

Fortunately said friend was tailgating with his family, and no awkwardness ensued. However, as we would later walk to the stadium, Nicki would inquire more about the story behind this gentleman I had formerly dated. As I began to tell her more, I would recollect how I less-than-gracefully found out this gentleman was 28 years old:

"My sister is 27 years old."
"Oh, so you're not the oldest?"
"No...I am. I'm 28."

Fr. Tom, overhearing this situation, gave me judging eyebrows and said something to the effect of, "If you want to have any luck with love, you better work on your game."

Dismayed, I replied, "You know your love life is bad when you're getting advice from a Jesuit."

He quipped, "You'd be surprised how much you learn in the confessional."

Truly, an exercise in humility. Sometimes I wonder what in my life isn't.

(By the way, this photo is of us in our seats in the The Very Last Row at Miller Park. Yes, the nosebleeds of all nosebleeds. The best part was, there were people already sitting in these seats when we got to the park. People, in the last row, with plenty of other seats open for us to just grab and sit, and Fr. Tom KICKED THEM OUT. I don't know if he was trying to be funny or honest, but either way it was hysterical...and mortifying.)