Archive for July, 2008
Four years ago this past week my sister and I were out looking for a place to live. We were both moving out of separate apartments due to recent break-ups, and decided to look for a house to rent somewhere off of Fifth Street in St. Charles. After a couple of days of fruitless searches, I took a friend’s advice and picked up a copy of the local Times Newspaper.
My sis and I stumbled upon a recently renovated three-bedroom house right behind the still-under-construction St. Charles Convention Center. Luckily, we were the first people to tour the place. Not only was it gorgeous, the rent was amazingly low, it had a huge deck, and it was minutes from the highway. We signed the papers immediately, and moved in a week later.
I lived in the house on Barbara Drive through both years of grad school at UMSL and absolutely loved the place. We had many great parties and late nites at the Barbara house, including a giant Memorial Day Bash, two massive Halloween parties and even a Beer Olympics.
I moved out of the house in 2006 for Florida, leaving behind my sister and Bill to take care of the Barbara House. While living in Florida, the House always served as a base of operations on my trips back to St. Louis. Coming back to visit the house was my own personal Cheers, a place where everyone knew my name.
The house is currently occupied by Bill, Doug and the notoriously absent Mark, but not for long. Bill is taking the big leap and getting an apartment with his wonderful girlfriend Sarah. The House of Barbara will finally fall in August. Accordingly, we celebrated the End of an Empire in the only way that made sense: Toga Party!
Saturday nite was one last bash to send the Barbara House out in style. Most of the North County crew was decked out in Roman gear, with Bill dressed as Caesar and Sarah as a bad-ass Medusa. Even some of the old crew made surprise appearances. Here I am trading hats with Potson, decked out in his wicked North County wife-beater.
It was a fitting end to one of the best spots for parties in the city. Beverages flowed, ping-pong balls were tossed, poor decisions were made, and everyone had a great time. Even though it was ass-early in the morning when the party finally died down and I was ass-tired, I still had a bit of a hard time leaving. Knowing that it was unlikely I would ever step foot in the house again was difficult to realize.
The Barbara House has been one of the few constants in my life for the past few years. Saying goodbye to place so full of great memories truly feels like the end of an era. To celebrate the House of Barbara, here are some of my favorite memories from the past four years.
The start of last week presented a real opportunity for me to grab a hold of my goal for the year. Back in January I declared 2008 to be the Year of Focus . Since that time I have been trying my damnedest to improve my focus, with mixed results. Circumstances have necessarily complicated my life, which diverted much of my attention away from the focus I desire.
By July my life had thankfully slowed down considerably. Last week was the perfect time to capitalize on this and get back to focusing. My new boss at work started last week, which was wonderful. He is excellent at providing me with the direction and priorities I need to focus my attention.
I also started back on the road to getting in shape last week. I’ve gone to my new gym every day after work for the past two weeks. It is now quite apparent that I cannot reach my original goal of having a flat stomach by 30, but I don’t really care anymore. Getting in top shape is going to be a long process, and timetables don’t feel as necessary as they did for the wedding. It feels good to be back on track, and that is enough for now.
Committing to the Year of Focus is turning out to be much more detail-oriented than I originally imagined. It involves me committing to doing the things that I usually put off. I’ve been keeping a much closer watch on my personal finances. Today I made an appointment for a check-up with my old doctor. Tomorrow I am actually getting my dry-cleaning done.
In the midst of my focus on the details of my life, something reminded me to not lose sight of the big picture. On Tuesday nite, I was at Tenacious Trivia at Stella Blues with my sister, Jamie and D. Right after this picture was taken
some Goldschläger was accidentally spilled on my left hand. My wedding ring became rather sticky, so I took it off and put it in my pocket.
On the way to work on Wednesday, I notice I’m not wearing my ring. After work I check the pockets of the previous nite and do not find the ring. An exhaustive search of the loft does not produce said ring. I called the bar, no ring there either. After confessing to my lovely new wife that I may have lost my wedding ring, I went to bed feeling like a total goon.
This morning I woke up extra early so that I could go to Stella Blues on the way to work and search the parking lot for my ring. When I’m getting in the car, it strikes me to look under the seat. Sure enough, there it was. I felt ecstatic the whole drive to work and I arrived fifteen minutes early.
Sitting in my car in the work parking lot, I decided to give the random song phenomena a try. I hit random play on my Ipod and was pleasantly surprised at how the song the popped up fit my situation. I had not heard the song in question, “Politk” by Coldplay, in several years. In fact, I pretty much forgot it was on my Ipod. Despite not being a huge fan of Coldplay1, I always really liked this song. In particular, these lyrics really stood out.
“Give me strength, reserve, control. Give me heart and give me soul.”
That pretty much sums it up. I can’t let my renewed sense of focus cause me to forget those things that truly define me. The details are important, but the big picture is what it’s all about.
1 I don’t dislike Coldplay, but I definitely don’t get why they are so loved. To me, they’re basically another version of the Dave Matthews Band. They both put out a solid but unremarkable first album with an overly sappy love song. On their second album they refined their signature sound and made their definitive record. Since then they both have basically reproduced a similar version of their second album every couple of years. The only real difference is that Coldplay still claim that their new albums are a dramatically different direction, whereas Dave gave up claiming that fucking b.s. five years ago.
As some of you may already know, I was really into comic books when I was a kid. In my teen years I gravitated towards the darker comics like Sandman and Preacher . Dark comics still fascinate me, so it was no big surprise that I was highly anticipating The Dark Knight. Everything about this film appealed to me.
With much excitement I hit Ronnie’s on Friday nite with the rest of the nerds in St. Louis. Of course I loved the movie, but enough has already been said about the film’s greatness so I won’t bother. Instead, I want to discuss anticipation. Today I started thinking about how long I’ve been looking forward to both The Dark Knight and Grand Theft Auto IV. Now that I’ve experienced both, I felt a twinge of emptiness this morning.
I rather enjoy the feeling of anticipation. Often times the idea of something I’m looking forward turns out to be better than the actuality. While both Batman and GTA lived up to my expectations, the abstract notion of what these would become was just as exciting. So in order to combat this now lack of anticipation I was feeling, I decided to compile a list of upcoming things that excite me.
Top 5 Things I Am Eagerly Anticipating
Back in April, the original line-up of my favorite band, Jane’s Addiction, played together for the first time in sixteen years. The original broke up before I had a chance to see them, and now there is talk of a proper reunion tour. The main song-writer and my favorite member, Eric Avery, has refused to play with the band since they split after Lollapalooza ’91. According to his blog , he is considering touring with Jane’s sometime soon.
This is about as exciting as it gets for me. I saw Jane’s in Chicago back in ’97, when they had Flea stand in for Eric. It was a great show, but I could definitely tell Flea wasn’t quite comfortable playing the songs. While Flea could be considered a good replacement for any bass player, his slap-style didn’t quite fit with Jane’s. The anticipation of seeing the whole band together has been enough to hold me over for years. Hopefully it will actually happen.
I’ve been a big fan of Baron Cohen’s since his Ali G days. My favorite character of his was always Bruno, the gay Austrian fashion reporter. I love him so much I used his best sketch for my Ach, Ja and Nicht Nichts . Hilarious reports have already begun to surface about him parading around as Bruno for the film. The film is scheduled to be released next May, and I can’t wait.
With the typical lack of anything worthwhile on television, I am stoked that Mad Men is cued up on Netflix. This show garnered a whopping sixteen Emmy nominations and has been hailed by almost everyone. Plus, the second season starts on Sunday July 27. Looks like it’s time for a Lost style cram session!
These men made two of my favorites from the nineties. Jarvis wrote one of the decade’s best albums, Pulp’s A Different Class. Wes Anderson wrote one of the decade’s best films, Rushmore. Combining the two for a stop-motion animated version of the kick-ass children’s book The Fantastic Mr. Fox should be a win-win.
I love stand-up comedy, and right now my favorite comic is definitely Jim Gaffigan. If you haven’t seen him, he’s a pasty, overweight, balding Midwesterner who jokes about being a pasty, overweight, balding Midwesterner. His typical jokes range from food to Catholicism to being lazy, or Meg’s trifecta of humor as I call it. His last special, Beyond the Pale, is the best stand-up this decade has seen. He’s getting ready to tape a new special, and he’ll be in St. Louis in September perfecting the material. Check him out and go see him at the Fabulous Fox !
This past weekend I attend the Hazelwood West 1998 ten-year reunion. But Captain, didn’t you graduate in ’96? Yes I did, but my lovely wife graduated in 1998 as did my sister.1
As cheesy as reunions are, we both had a pretty good time. The organizers did a great job of keeping the cost low, while still making the event relatively classy. Check us out swanking up the joint.
I had pretty low expectations heading in to the reunion. I figured the advent of MySpace and Facebook would really take the excitement out of reunions. I am already cyber-friends with most of the people I knew at the reunion, so I knew there would not really be any mind-blowing revelations. I already knew who was married, who was living far away, who was skinny-and-now-fat, who was still living with their parents, and who was fat-and-now-skinny.
Even with no revelations, the evening was still surprisingly fun. What makes a reunion interesting is having so many familiar faces under one roof. Weddings are really the only time a wide array of friends manage to gather in one room, and weddings are full of old people. It’s rare to have a joint full with people roughly the same age.
My favorite moment of the night was the simultaneous excitement and embarrassment I felt watching my wife celebrate across the dance floor when she was announced as the winner of the trivia contest. No one can revel at being the smartest girl in the room quite like my little nerd. Good job sweetie.
1 My sister did not attend her own reunion, which sucked big time for me. This meant I was forced to update twenty people on the last decade of my sister’s life. Towards the end of the nite I started making stuff up, such as “Have you heard that story where the girl wakes up in a hotel bathtub full of ice, missing both of her kidneys? That was my sister!”