Just Because… Archives

Tasting Room Closing 11-16-13 h

Last night (November 16, 2013) one of my favorite hangouts closed. I suppose it is weird that my first post in over a year is about a wine lounge but the closing got me thinking about the places we go in our daily lives and who we let in our interpersonal circles when we spend time there. Each year, each month, each week, each day, every hour somewhere we all do our favorite jaunts to our “spots” (or whatever we call them) to close out a period of time of our lives. Each place has a particular meaning to us and why we spend so much time there but we do “just because” and while some of our friends or acquaintances don’t understand, we continue to go to places where we feel normal.

I like wine. Period. No doubt about it.

Everyone who knows me knows that. When I go to a place to have wine, I hope they have more
than just three choices (red, white, rose…blah!) and that there is a selection of the local fare of several countries that I have grown fond of over the years. However this post is less about that and more about the experience. Over the years I have met many people who were also “regulars” from many walks of life who enjoyed wine as much as I did. We talked, we laughed, we shared stories, we sometimes vented. We were from different professions, different walks of life, but bonded nonetheless.

Now many times each week, as we frequented our place, a strange thing happened. We realized that we kept coming because we expected to see each other rather than just to enjoy wine. Enjoying each other’s company became the light of the moment rather than trying something new. The place we had grown to love had become a respite from our busy weeks, a pause from the hustle and bustle of our daily professions. No matter how many stories we told each other, secretly envying each others jobs and lives, the brief and consistent times we spent together made it all worth while.

We all have those places.

Each one of us has one, or several, that throughout our crazy weeks we look forward to going to those places that remind us that life is normal again. For instance, this closing made me think of other places I went to that I took for granted that will always be there that closed. My cleaners for instance. 17 years I went there. Went there so much they practically watched me grow up. When I walked in, I didn’t even have to fill out a ticket for my cleaning. They just said “Hi Marc!” and took my clothes and sent me on my way. The trust had been established over the years that my items would be handled with the care as if I had cleaned them myself.

Then one day “Chuck,” decided he had enough.

To say I was devastated would be an understatement.

After the initial shock wore off (seemed like an eternity) my second thought (after the sadness of knowing I wouldn’t see Chuck again) was: ” Where the *&^%% will I find someone to clean my clothes now!”

I must have said that out loud because Chuck howled in laughter.

Anyway, fast forward to November 15th and after a long day at work I went to “the spot.” The look of shock on their faces threw me for a loop.

“I’m so glad you came!” They said. When I asked why, they said they were closing.

After I picked my mouth up off the floor I struggled to find the word………….”Why?”

They told me and for the rest of the night, I was in another world. Reminiscing over the last 10 years, when it started, the ups, the downs the good times, the not so good times. They invited me to come down for the final evening and said all the “regulars” will be there and I said I would try.

While I was sitting at home the next night they called me and told me to get down there. The owner was there, greeting those she had known over the years, and I wondered how I had not met her in the years I had been going there. Funny thing is that she was wondering the same thing out loud, though she recognized my face.

The “regulars” showed up, one by one. We hugged, we laughed, and we shared stories from the years. We teased the executive chef over some of his “interesting” creations that we had the pleasure of trying (sorry Mark…I had to go there LOL).

We even fought back tears.

At the end of the evening we all said that we would keep in touch and try to find another place to go. I do hope we do but knowing what happened to The Friday Club when they broke up the wish seems hollow. The Friday Club was together for 8 years before our spot closed down. We still hang out, go to dinner or sometimes the Cubs games, but it just isn’t the same. We watched each other grow in our lives and jobs, graduate from medical school (Go Frank!), support each other through prosperity and through unemployment, and celebrate birthdays and holidays together.

We loved the camaraderie that formed from the karma of good people getting together in one place simply to have a good time.

Then one day it ended…

…and we are still looking for a new place.

In the end of the current run of me frequenting this great wine lounge, I can say that I have met some really good people and had some really good times. I even got a souvenir during the final night, a signed wine menu. It was a cool gift, but I realized that really I got something more valuable than that, more valuable than the great tasting wine I have tried over the years. I had established friendships that have lasted over time and hopefully will continue.

I realized that these are people who I have come to love and enjoy seeing. That we go to these places, see the same people, and know that in our busy lives the things we look forward to seeing will still be there.

Until they are gone.

Now that doesn’t mean that is bad, it just means that the moment has run its course and we should feel fortunate to have experienced it, if only for a brief time.

I could go on but I will close by saying some circles just can’t be replicated and that is probably a good thing because if everything was the same then nothing would be special (100 points to the person who can name the movie reference that came from…if you still don’t know, here is the hint).

So I will cherish the memories of my little place. On that night, we raised one last glass and said one last goodbye. We shared hugs and reminisced over all we have seen and talked about. To the owner, all the managers, servers, and of course the “regulars” I want to say “Thank You!” for an amazing 9+ years. You all will be missed but certainly not forgotten. I hope our talks, stories, hugs, laughter, and friendships continue in the next chapter of our lives in our new place wherever that may be.

I love you all.

Here’s to you.

Tasting Room Photo 3


Finding Silence (and Solitude) in a Sea of Sound

“Find your Happy Place, Happy!” said Chubbs.

You know I had to get my first golf reference in sometime didn’t you?

There is a time each day where I reach the point of no return with external stimuli.

When so much noise, talk, emotions, and elements of the job reach the boiling point.

I was watching the news recently and a story came on which said that our brains need some downtime during the day for us to stay alert and effective. That our brains and bodies are not equipped to be “on” for long periods of time without stopping.

I certainly agree.

As any administrator knows, we are “on” 24/7 and are expected to keep going non-stop no matter what is thrown at us. However, try to take a moment to yourself and it is almost frowned upon. On the other hand, how about you just try to take a moment at all.

Good luck with that.

I get to work early just to be in my office and have some  “me” time. I almost have to sneak into my office because once people find out the time you as the administrator gets to the office, that’s the time they will be there to “discuss” something with you. If you come in earlier, and they find out, they will be there earlier. Parents. Teachers. Students. Etc.

Yes students (By the way, parents, don’t drop your child off at 6:45 a.m. thinking someone will be there to greet them and supervise them when the school opens at 8. We are a school, not a day care).

Sometimes I wish my brain came with an off switch. That way when I am in my “Happy Place” I won’t think of anything except what I want to. That is if I want to think of anything at all. Not the school, children, life, or whatever.


Silence is an unappreciated gift these days, one that students don’t appreciate either.

Why is it that when two students are talking, they are screaming at the top of their lungs even though they are right next to each other? Also, why do they seem to go crazy in a silent room? It’s like their brain suddenly goes haywire and forces them to make noise as if the silence is abnormal.

Teachers who are parents themselves also have my sympathy. How they get though the day with 24 hours of stimulus and sound is beyond me. One high school teacher I used to work with used to say the funniest thing about not being able to find his “Happy Place.” He used to say: “I teach first through eighth period each day and when I get home with the kids I have to work through periods ten through fourteen!”

So I try to find my “Happy Place” during the day to give my brain a rest. Sometimes it’s possible, many times it isn’t. Are we as workers, and not just in education, reaching the point where taking a break during the day is not possible? How many times have lunches become working lunches, if there is a lunch at all? And how many times are we expected to not take lunch, work straight through the day and somehow remain alert and effective?

I hear teachers say all the time: “Sometimes I don’t even have time to go to the bathroom!” I certainly sympathize though many people don’t. They really believe that people, and especially teachers should be able to go non-stop all day and not be worn out at the end. No matter what the students have done all day, no matter what was thrown at you all day, when they come to you at 6 p.m. (after the 100 people who came before them) they look at you and say “what’s wrong?” (and get irritated at the look you give them) not knowing or realizing that at the end of the day we just need some time, just a moment, for ourselves.

People seem to forget that educators are people too.

It is at those moments, many times where it seems like my office is the designated complaint center that I sometimes threaten (privately of course) to put a sign up in my office that reads: Your crisis is not my emergency!

I envy those people I know who can take a lunch or even a break and find their “Happy Place.” I used to know of a teacher whose school was three blocks from a golf driving range and he spent his lunch break there, hitting balls, enjoying his “Happy Place.” He would then come back to the school, refreshed, re-energized and ready to tackle the rest of the day.

Two of my other friends are able to find their  “Happy Place” too. My friend Phil finds his place on a treadmill at 4:30 a.m. and Kim finds hers sitting at the Friday Club with a glass of wine, reading a great book (How she can do that with all the noise around her is beyond me but highly impressive).

Mine is sitting in total silence. For about 30 minutes when I get home after being “on” for 12 hours straight.

No sounds, no talking, no phone, no computer, no television, no lights…and no people. Just sitting and thinking about walking the perfect golf course, overlooking an ocean. Nothing but me, the ball, perfectly cut grass in the fairway, the hole on the green, and plenty of sunshine.


So no matter your profession, no matter what you do, you should find your “Happy Place,” go there, and give your brain a rest sometime each day. You will be much happier and healthier for it.

Trust me.

This is a little off topic I know, but this is something that has been on my mind for several days.

It seems that more and more, each and every day, a part of our community disappears. A part of our lives that we were used to seeing every day, everywhere no matter where we were. Any city, any place, any time, there they were.

Whenever we needed our literary works sent to far off places, there they were ready to accept them without complaint. We gave them our words, knowing they will be safe and sound, to be magically transported to where we wanted them to be and to the people we wanted to see them.

They were a staple of our communities. And now, more and more they are harder to find. If you are lucky enough to find one at all.

The few that are left (if you can find them) should be placed on some kind of “endangered” list before they all are gone for good.

I wonder if when they are all gone if people will speak about them as if they are reading an obituary (“We are gathered here today to pay our respects to a part of us that is gone…”). Or how we will describe them to the next generation what they were when they see pictures of them or when they come across the real ones saved or the replicas in museums.

I know you may be wondering where I’m going with this, my sarcastic side out in full force.

Where did all this come from. Well I had some words that needed to be taken from me and I couldn’t find my trusty delivery method. My little blue friend. I searched and searched, driving in my car for blocks (which seemed like miles) only to give up, defeated. I wondered where they all had gone. Who had taken them away?

Do you know? Do you know where they have gone?

Did you guess what I was talking about?

Hope you got a chuckle and a smile out of that. Have a wonderful week!

First Post…and Welcome to the Lounge!

Ok, I am just about ready to put up my first post. I  must admit I am nervous to start this thing called “blogging” but I have been told to just  “dive in” because I would be surprised at how many people want to talk about the things I will be blogging about.

Before I begin, I have some thanks.

First to Michael Smith and his PrincipalsPage.com blog. You can find the link to his page under the contact link above or in the list of blogs that may interest you on the right column of the page. I can’t thank him enough for answering all my many questions (some at some REALLY late hours…do we ever sleep?) and his good advice on blogging. He even answered one of my questions in his blog. Nice.

Second, to my friend Tasia (no, I won’t throw her last name out there in blogworld) who after I told her what I was thinking about doing helped (ok, came up with) create the name for the site. Great minds do think alike. Hope you enjoy what you helped bring into existence!

Third, my dad who convinced me to blog. I’m not sure he (or I) knows what he has got me into. 🙂

Lastly, to all my friends in the “Friday Club” at McCormick & Schmick’s who were very supportive of the idea and are excited to see it come to life and read what I have to say. To Kim, Phil, Norm, John, Jim, Kyle, Kathy, Frank, Julie, Tasia, Jennifer, Sam “The Man” (from Tin Fish), and any others who have traveled in our little but ever-growing circle, I love you all and know that YOU ARE THE BEST!! Thanks for all your love and support. Knowing all of you since we met has enhanced my life in ways I can’t imagine or put into words. You all are the best friends a person could ever have.

So everyone, get ready. I hope you will enjoy reading my musings and give me yours. I have one more addition (which probably won’t be the end…these things tend to take on a life of their own) to this site before I fully launch it and release it out to sea (so to speak), so get ready and I will talk to you soon!