The one and only

The one and only

I met Sindy in 7th grade Homeroom. Our last names are close in the alphabet and she sat behind me. As far as our similarities go, that was about it. We both were in band and chorus and felt as though the band teacher was just a TAD lame. But we got along if nothing else as friendly acquaintances for 7th and 8th grade. In 9th grade we started hanging around the same people so we hung out more. It was really my senior year when we really started hanging out and becoming close. Again we hung out with the same people, but we were also more mature and noticed we had more in common than we thought. After high school we kept in touch as well as my then girlfriend (now wife) remained good friends with her. We went our separate ways, her to culinary school, me to college. Slowly but surely, we became closer and I became close with her family. Her family let me work on their computer when I was studying how to repair them, and she told me how her dad works (I’m sure she’d laugh at the interactions we’ve had since!). She truly was one of the best friends we had. We even had her do a reading and her sister sang in our wedding (though much to my dismay her parents sat with her on my wife’s side!)

My future brother-in-law smacking Sindy's rear end at my wedding.

My future brother-in-law smacking Sindy’s rear end at my wedding.

I remember when she was looking for a job in the area, she was down to a prominent hotel in the area, or a restaurant chain. I, being the stellar career counselor that I am, told her to go with the hotel. She promptly went with the restaurant chain. She started out doing the prep. Eventually she worked her way up to cook, and before we knew it, she was 2nd in command in another location of the chain. One day my wife and I surprised her at her work when we went to visit my grandmother in the hospital. It was out of the way, but we knew we wouldn’t have this opportunity again anytime soon, if ever again. Sindy was elated to see us. We couldn’t help but feel proud that we were seeing our friend pretty much run an entire restaurant. It was unbelievable. Later that year, the inevitable happened – Sindy got her own restaurant. We knew it was only a matter of time.  We were so proud of her.  We had nicknames for each other, I was tech man because of my experience with computers, she started out as Chef Boyardee, but then changed to Iron Chef (For obvious reasons I she preferred Iron Chef to Chef Boyardee) . Life was good, all for about eight months or so.
About eight months later my sister in law called us freaking out, apparently Sindy was in the hospital. Sure enough, Sindy has autoimmune hepatitis. As soon as we could, we drove up to see Sindy. We stayed for awhile. So many people came and went. It was amazing how many people loved her and wanted to see her. She had so many flowers in her room, one of her nurses who was allergic to flowers had to wear a face mask when she came into Sindy’s room. We laughed so hard that time it was great. I honestly don’t recall a time when I had more fun in general, let alone at a hospital.
But the happiness was only temporary. Sindy eventually slipped into a coma and eventually passed. It was six year ago today.
Her funeral was unique. It was more of a celebration of life. Not that funerals aren’t a celebration of life, but this was special because her family requested everyone wear bright colors instead of the traditional black. We laughed, we cried. And the meal after the funeral? Where else? The restaurant chain I advised her to not get a job at. Where it all started. That night a bunch of us sat around a fire, and toasted her with Coronas. Just as she wanted. My wife and I still have those bottles packed somewhere.
In the six years since, my wife and I have come to call her family our family. We visit them whenever we can and catch up what is going on with each others’ lives. When Sindy passed, my wife and I made a vow that if we were ever blessed with children and if we had a girl, her middle name would be Sindy. Less than two years later, Madison Sindy was born. We make it a point to talk about her “Aunt Sindy” to our daughter and talk about how she is up in heaven watching over her, that her Aunt Sindy is her guardian angel. We show her pictures and she knows Sindy’s family as her aunts and uncle. Four years to the day that Sindy passed, her namesake took her first steps. We truly believe that is no coincidence.
Sindy truly was someone who brightened your day. I’ll never forget her (who could?) I often think what Sindy would think of her namesake. I’m sure she’d say we didn’t have to name our daughter after her (which is the truth, but we wanted to and am glad we were able to) and I think she would laugh very hard at the events that have happened in our lives.
I’m glad that the last memory I have of her, she was laughing. Because that’s what I remember the most about Sindy. Her laugh.


Man Night

Man night crew at our finest.

Man night crew at our finest.

About once a quarter or so a bunch of guys get together at my friend Jay’s house for what we all call “man night.”  Man night consists of four things: 1) eating 2) drinking 3) catching up on our lives 4) some sort of shenanigans.

example of said douce-baggery

example of said shenanigans.

This ritual started about 12 years ago.  Jay and I went to school together and he invited me to go out with him and a friend of his, Soke to a dance club.  Well, I went but clubs aren’t really my cup of tea so he invited me up to his girlfriend’s father’s house to hang out for a gathering where I would meet his future brother-in-law Jeff, his dad and many people who eventually became friends of mine as well.  Soon it became a tradition where at some point one member of the group held a gathering at their place where we would eat, drink and have a good time.  Then Jay and his girlfriend got jobs out of town and moved in together (and eventually got married) and I moved down to where I live now.  So the gatherings became less frequent, and eventually stopped altogether.  Then Jay started having birthday parties for himself at his house, which was just like the old gatherings, except we spent the night most of the time.  Then the parties became too much of a hassle (his birthday being in January and all) and they turned into smaller gatherings dubbed “man night.”  As I grew older I stopped wanting to travel as much  because I got lazy and especially when I became a father, my desire to be away from my family was down to practically zero.  Plus at the same time I was going to school so there wasn’t a lot of time for me to go out, especially two hours up to my friend’s house.  But Jay worked with me and I attended a few.

I recently attended what will certainly be my last one for a bit due to the fact that I am due to become a father for the second time.   I wish my friends lived closer.  I don’t like driving alone.  I don’t like leaving my family, but I do enjoy man night.

The problem with man night, is that I am the only one who goes who has kids.  Another guy who has a son has been invited, but rumor has it his wife has but the kibosh on hanging out with this circle of friends…or friends in general depending on who you ask.  So my end of the conversation ends up being “Hey let me tell you about this funny thing my daughter did last night… oh wait.”  To their credit my friends haven’t shunned me for making the decision to have children and they do embrace my daughter (Jay happens to live just off the route I typically take to and from where I grew up and where my wife’s family lives, so if I (or in one instance my daughter) needs to use the bathroom or just a break, him and his wife are always welcoming.  Plus they have cats and my kid LOVES cats.

Another problem is Soke.  I love Soke.  He’s a good guy with a heart of gold. But he cooks us dinner, which I do appreciate.  He is a good cook too and doesn’t ask anything in return except to eat and enjoy.  So what’s my complaint you ask?

your typical spread at man night

your typical spread at man night

It’s that I want to eat at a “normal” time.  You see, Soke likes to eat late.  Not 7:30, 8:00 late.  Like 10:30, 11:00 late.  Dude, I have a three year old at home.  I go to bed when this kid is up because chances are I may have to get up several times a night, and who knows when I will have to get up for the day.  I want to eat, have a few beers and go to bed.  This isn’t the old days where you plan no getting no sleep.  I WANT SLEEP, DAMNIT.  But Soke never wavers despite my numerous threats of physical violence (I tend to get a WEE BIT cranky when I’m hungry), he never wavers and so I am forced to hunt for my food in the rugged terrain of Mechanicsburg, PA.  I may be gone for hours, days (even though I’m just up there for the night), who knows?!  I am forced to rough it.

Well shoot.  Now what am I supposed to do to pass the time before eating.

Well shoot. Now what am I supposed to do to pass the time before eating?

But Soke does cook and cook well, and I eat like a king.  The next morning we all get up bright and early (Despite drinking into the wee hours of the night) and walk.  Well, some of us.

NO.  I will NOT go walking.  Even if my wife works at the Wegmans by where we walk to.

NO. I will NOT go walking. Even if my wife works at the Wegmans by where we walk by.

We used to walk just around the neighborhood but now we walk to the Panera by Jay’s house to grab breakfast and then back.  Usually Jay’s dad is leading the pack with Soke close behind him.  Jay and I usually take a leisurely stroll and chat while being scorned by those up ahead.

Then we head back and I usually pack up the car to head home to see my loving family.  All in all, it’s usually a good time.  Just don’t ever leave in the middle of the night.  Even if you’re bored and can’t sleep.  You’ll never hear the end of it.


A couple of months ago I saw the movie, “The Silver Linings Playbook.”  It’s about a guy who is trying to get his life back in order after being in a mental institution after nearly beating to death a guy he caught in the shower with his wife.  As part of this process (and I believe at the urging of his therapist) he tries to find the silver lining in everything, something he calls “excelsior” or “ever upward” in Latin.  I thought the movie was good – meaning I was entertained (I’m not sure what makes a movie “good” or not, but I enjoyed it.)  I really liked that he tried very hard to look on the bright side of things – something that I have a hard time doing for myself.

I have decided to undertake the difficult task of selling my house.   What complicates matters is I have a three year old, so it’s not like I can make the house (Especially her room) “neutral”. What complicates things even more is that my wife is pregnant and due soon, so we want to have this house sold (or at least under contract) and a new one picked out by the time she delivers (We plan on moving 1.5 hours away).   I also did a lot of the work on the house myself (she did what she could and without her we wouldn’t be at the point we are now).  I realize I am not the first person to do this, but having a certain timeframe in which we want things done makes things difficult for me.  At least in my mind.  I’m trying to make this move as easy as possible on everyone, especially my daughter who will undoubtedly have the hardest time adjusting.  At the time I am writing this my house has been on the market six days, and quite honestly to me it’s six days too long.  I’m being tortured mentally.  Up until today we’ve had a steady flow of traffic for the most part.   We got spoiled the first day when we had a showing request within two hours of the listing going active and the feedback promising saying they liked the house and liked that they would stay in the same neighborhood and would know their final decision the next day, only to be completely stood up.

Everyone I’ve talked to besides my wife says to have patience.  Well that’s not fair.  She says to have patience too, but everyone says “It will sell.  No problem.”  I have none.  I’m not sure why, but I’ve never really had any.   I want the house sold NOW.  My realtor has the patience of a saint.  So does my wife.  My realtor gets constant questions from me asking all sorts of questions.  She gives me her standard answer and depending what it is, sets me off.  I’ve never gone off on her for anything, only occasionally whined/bitched to my wife.  My wife has taken the brunt of the effects of the stress.  I do feel as though our realtor has our best interests in mind.  I just sometimes felt as though what we have isn’t good enough. Like if we made one or two more upgrades, we’d be golden.  But we don’t have the money to be throwing into a house that we want to sell and we probably won’t get back.   Then we got feedback, which made me have a little more positive outlook, while at the same time questioning my faith in humanity.  The majority of the feedback was positive or neutral- just not what they wanted, he loved it she didn’t type thing.  Then came the realtor from Annapolis.  She nicknamed my house “The Princess house.”  Look, my kid is girly.  She likes princesses.  Like her father (and like most three year olds) she dislikes change.  So to take down the border and decals in the room is asking too much for her.  DEAL.  We already have all of her toys either a) in storage b) in a closet or c) in our cars.  She has been an absolute trooper in this process and hasn’t really complained about not being able to play with her toys.  Asking a three year old to alter their lifestyle while you try to sell the only place she’s called home is a lot.  I (and I think most people) recognize this.  Spending her days away from the house, sending her beloved dog to stay with a relative so the process can be smoother, it’s a lot for me let alone my daughter.  We haven’t even really talked about a new daycare where she’ll have to make new friends (When she is just beginning to talk about people outside of daycare now).  The one time I brought up a “new school” she cried and ever since whenever we talk about a new house she says she doesn’t want a new school.  So we do what we can to keep her happy while at the same time do what we can to make the house look as nice as we can.  For the past two months I stayed up literally almost every night working on something. Painting this, repairing that, cleaning that other thing.  I wasn’t sleeping much and every little flaw in my house made me crazy.  Every little spec of dirt that wasn’t coming up, any flaw, I over examined – multiple times.  To my credit, I became somewhat handy and with some help from some friends, I think the house looks nice.  For that vile human to call my house “The Princess House.”  I want to find her and rip her a new one.   Does she not realize that her criticism of  it not being “De-kidified” enough can be (easily) fixed when you purchase the house?  I mean really, take down the border and the decals and paint it.  IT can be done over a weekend.  I mean I know most people don’t want a “fix me upper” but seriously. My realtor for her part said the criticism wasn’t really a deal breaker for houses though, could she offer any more?  Well the realtor let loose.  Her remarks make me think that she hires a disabled tour guide to take her kids through Disneyworld so they don’t have to wait in line.  Most of the complaints weren’t something that is a shock to the people when they arrive (it smelled funny, the grass was 14″ high). It was stuff like the closet doesn’t have a door, the kitchen cabinets are two-tone.  So that makes me question humanity.  Why come in the door?  Just to look down on me?  Just to make me feel like you’re better than me?

But I try to look on the bright side.  There have been at least two and a half interested parties, that for whatever reason didn’t go through with it. (The first showing who said they liked it, another buyer said the basement smelled “musty” and that was the deal breaker, and another couple the guy loved it and the woman did not.    It’s also somewhat disheartening to hear that the deal breaker was something that can be easily remedied. Like a smell in the basement.  I got a dehumidifier.  But even if I didn’t, if there is water damage the home inspection will find it and I’ll get it repaired. If that’s not the problem, buy a dehumidifier yourself.  You’re spending over $300,000 to buy a house, spend a couple hundred more and fix it yourself!  Seriously, you’ll pay more in closing costs!  But at the same time, I’m trying to look at the bright side of things.  There’s enough interest that people want to look.  Just about everyone who I have talked to says the house will sell.  I just want it done.  The flaws I was worried about aren’t being brought up, so I can’t complain there.  It hasn’t been a week and I believe that everything happens for a reason so I am trying to convince myself that I will get something soon and it will work out for me.  It is just very hard.

I suppose there are worse things in life than worrying about why your house hasn’t sold in a week.   I’ve been told that my emotions (wondering why the house hasn’t sold yet) are battling logic (understanding that it has not even been in a week and I need to give it more time) and that I need to let logic in or else I will go crazy (as if I haven’t already).   While I recognize this and try (very) hard to overpower emotion with logic (Which I can do so very well to other people), I gotta say it’s a dead heat and emotions have runners in scoring position with their stud hitter coming to the plate.  But logic does have that ace arming up in the bullpen, and the game could be called on a count of rain (i.e. the house being sold) at any time.  I just need to not think so much and continue to look ever upward.