Monday, November 22, 2010

It All Seems So Familiar

‘Tis the season…and for all of you premature celebrators who are excited about the thought of reading a Christmas-themed entry, NO, I’m not talking about the holiday season…It’s November 20th and for two full weeks I’ve been obnoxiously greeted every morning with a lit tree and garland-decorated bannisters…I refuse contributing to the commercial-driven excess. Before you go all “Bah Humbug” on me, I love the Christmas season just as much as anyone – but I don’t like NFL preseason the first week in August; I don’t like pre-class reading assignments; and I don’t like Christmas music before Turkey me Scrooge…but do so only in November. Now, where was I….oh right, ‘tis the season: the Job-Hunting season. For those seeking traditional MBA-type corporate jobs, you’ve interviewed for the last two months and are now hearing some answers - offers or rejections. As my boy Tom Petty likes to say, the waaaaaaaiting is the hardest part….and, it can really mess with your confidence. As I wait myself, I thought I’d share some thoughts on the experience up to this point. I figure it’s a whole lot healthier to write about it than to sit by the phone and wait for it to ring…in fact, come to think of it, it’s analogous to something we males are all too familiar with…

“Sorry, I can’t go out with you this weekend…I have to dry my hair”. It’s the universally overplayed excuse a girl can give for rejecting a brave admirer. In our family, we often refer to the response heard by Uncle Kev after having asked some lucky St. Peter’s gal to the Saturday dance, “Sorry, can’t do it this weekend. I have to…uh…I have to go to Hawaii”. 8th grade; couldn’t make it up… Both are great examples of the awkward communication exchanged between desperate males and their more selective gender counterparts…and both are perfect metaphors for similarly awkward exchanges between equally desperate and selective job-seekers and employers. Instead of hair dryers and weekend Hawaiian getaways, we hear things like “you’re overqualified” or “you don’t meet the minimum years of experience requirement”…excuses used to break it softly to candidates. And that’s not where the similarities end…

Speed Dating

In MBA-land we call it “Networking Events” or “Career Fairs”. As students, we show up wearing our best ties and most conservative suits going booth to booth to talk with more casually dressed and relaxed prospective employers. It’s really pretty terrible…in a 5 minute conversation, as desperate unemployed students we are trying to make an impression lasting enough to land an interview…you could have a dozen rehearsals of a similar scene… it usually goes something like this:

“Hi, my name is (Candidate).”

“Nice to meet you. I’m (Recruiter). “

Awkward pause as we both wonder who is going to speak first – will it be the recruiter asking about MBA’s pedigree or the candidate trying to sound smart? (a la ‘Singles Night’ at the swanky downtown bar)

Candidate makes first move: “So, as I was reading your annual report, I saw that sustainability is really important to your corporate vision…” (“You have beautiful eyes”)

“Yes, it is…thanks for noticing. Our CEO made it the company’s chief priority a decade ago” (“How original, that’s the 6th time I’ve heard that line tonight”)

Candidate replies as Recruiter’s eyes dart to see how long the line behind him is, “I know exactly what you mean! I agree and think my skills and values would fit in great with that kind of culture” (I’d love to take you out for dinner sometime)

“If you have a resume or card, why don’t you leave it with me and we will be in touch” (I’ll be drying my hair in Hawaii next weekend)

First Date

The first interview can take one of many different forms. Could be a phone call…could be a cup of coffee…could be an on-campus interview. It’s usually hosted by either a rep from HR or an alumn recruiting at their alma mater. For all intents and purposes it’s a screening interview to get to the next level…kinda like a lunch date first to see if it’s worth a full blown dinner date. If you ask her, Emily will tell ya…khaki’s a size too small, a ride in grandma’s Saturn, and lunch at a chain restaurant – I really know how to impress them…once a goofball, always a…which reminds me of a pretty embarrassing first round interview story. A Fortune 500 company was on campus conducting interviews for a highly competitive program. I was very interested in the opportunity and admittedly a little nervous about the interview. In walks my interviewer…

She’s a couple of years older and slightly tardy for her first interview of the day.

“Sorry about being late…it was my husband’s birthday last night so I stayed home to celebrate and had to fight traffic all morning to get here”

“No problem at all”

The interview is mostly behavioral and seems to be going reasonably well…I’m reading some positive body language but, then again, how do you really ever know, right? Things are wrapping up and as we stand up from the table, I try to make a smooth transition and leave on friendly terms:

“Well, your husband is a lucky man….” (as I’m saying the words, I know it doesn’t sound right) She looks confused… (Realllll smooth) “…uhh…because you stuck around for his birthday and suffered through a long commute this morning…” (Yea, that wasn’t weird or anything).

And there you have it – tight green khakis in a ‘94 Saturn to Max n’ Erma’s all over again…I could only hope that, like Emily, the interviewer could see past my inner goofball… She handles it well, politely smiles and doesn’t make it any worse than it already is. Surprisingly enough, I got a second round (and date).

Will She Call?

OK, so you’ve made it past the awkward meet n’ greet. You managed to not screw up the first round… no fatal mistakes anyway. Now, time for a round of on-site interviews. If close enough to drive, great. If not, “call our travel department for a flight and hotel”. You might be the only interviewer that day and it might be with a lineup of people from the local office. Or, it might be a conference with 70 candidates and hundreds of interviewers all trying to match just a handful of open jobs. Either way, in all likelihood, a decision will be made soon after your performance that day. This is the four course meal and dinner date. The thought pattern as you walk out of the first interview goes something like this:

“Killlllllllled it. Man, I thought that went great…hmm, I wonder if it goes that well with everyone they interview…he was really nice and clearly a good salesman otherwise he wouldn’t be a chosen interviewer for the job…maybe everyone walks away feeling like they nailed it….maybe I should’ve answered that greatest strength/weakness question differently…who wants to hire a guy who’s greatest weakness is that he’s ‘toooo hard working’....yea, good answer moron....crap, I forgot to ask for his card…now I can’t send a Thank You email later…they’re going to think I don’t care…Sonnnnuva- I blew it!…The world needs ditch diggers too…maybe the cemetery is hiring…NAHHHHH, forget all that stuff - you killed it… I’ll hear good news in a couple of days…”

Not that different from what the thought pattern can be after a big date:

“Stuuuuuuuud. She was digging you all night…hmmm, I wonder why she didn’t take me up on post-dinner ice-cream…maybe I shouldn’t have been so chatty with the waitress…do you think it was interpreted as too flirtatious?...I wanted her to know I can relate to the commoners (thanks Constanza)…why did I do all the talking?....Why didn’t she confirm another date…shoulda kept that road rage in check…Maybe she WASN’T all that interested… NAHHHHHH, she’s just shy. You’re the man. She’ll call in a couple of days like she said she would…”

4 weeks later, no callback.

Maybe the firm’s not really hiring due to a “budget freeze”. (she has a boyfriend and what I thought was a date, wasn’t a date at all)

Maybe you blew the interview and they were just too nice to let you know it (You misinterpreted the body language and she just wasn’t that in to you) – this thought always followed by the question: ‘Well, why didn’t they just call and tell me already?!’

Orrrrr maybe, just maybe, they have been really really busy traveling or with day-to-day work that they haven’t been able to respond yet. They actually did like you and maybe you just need to be more proactive and call THEM back to make sure they know you’re still interested…(this can sometimes result in anonymous phone calls from a random land-line with a quick hang-up before mustering up the courage to actually ask where you stand and risk rejection…we’re all insecure (desperate) job candidates (men) deathly afraid of rejection.

Either way, the anticipation takes the shape of a bell-curve – in the days following the date (interview), you wonder if they’ll call right away (after all, you were great). After a reasonable amount of time passes (say a week) you expect the call any second and can’t leave the cell anywhere (crap, the battery’s low!!!)…anticipation now at its peak …Slowly, the anticipation begins to fade…and fade….and fade…(that haircut was a bad idea).

Your family has stopped asking if you got the offer. (Your boys have stopped asking if she’s called yet).

The Courtship

The self-doubting is extinguished - they finally called and offered you the job! (Of course I didn’t forget about you. When can we go out again?) Awesome news.

You thank them for the offer.

They tell you they’re so appreciative of your time and interest in their company that they’d like to fly you to a destination resort on the beach so you can ‘get more comfortable’ with the culture.

“But I haven’t even accepted yet”

“Yea we know but it’s still an honor to be considered and we’d like to recognize you for it”

“Well OK, cool. See you next weekend” Come on…who, wouldn’t take a free weekend at the beach in November when the alternative is South Bend?

For a day and a half, you drink Kool-Aid from a fire hose and are brainwashed with subliminal messages about, “work-life balance” (a myth) and “corporate responsibility”. The tables have turned…now THEY want YOU…this is great. You’ve got leverage. Geographical needs, start-date preferences, Relo packages – it all seems negotiable…they’re actually interested in hearing what you want.

The analogy – “Ohhhh what’s this fantasy football thing all about…neat…tell me who I should root for…I never knew football could be so much fun” - She’s the coolest…

Months later you’ll find yourself grinding out 80 hours a week on the reg….annnnnd apple-picking at some remote farm on a Sunday. It was supposed to be just 10 minutes down the road but is actually an hour away; it’s noon, there’s no cell reception and you’ve got three bye weeks in your starting lineup: “Stop whining about your make believe sports - get over here and hold my hand”…ahhhh, the ol’ bait and switch…well played.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURE: This is not reflective of personal first-hand experience and is, instead, a combination of mostly second hand stories and exaggerated wide-spread societal norms.

‘Tis the Season…Happy Hunting

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

October 15th

Ola Laken Popola is the kind of guy that’s almost impossible not to laugh with. An old teammate at Ursinus (class of ’05), Lekan has a magnetic personality and a thick English accent that often aided his intended attempts at humor and many times unintentionally turned the ordinary into hilarious. The “Pope” was always the ladies’ man too – and it really shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that a guy who spent lots of time in the gym doing curls and a guy with a thick English accent was held in high regard by the opposite sex on a college campus. Lekan, undoubtedly, used that English accent and a sense of humor to his advantage when courting any one of his many different girlfriends…and, in fact, it’s that same combination of accent and humor that turned a very ordinary reaction to one of those many relationships into a very funny and unforgettable line. It’s a quick little story…we were in the locker-room before a practice over winter break. Most of the team was already there preparing for a pre-practice film session when Lekan walked in looking a little down. “Hey Lekan, you all good man?” Someone asked…(picture a 6’0 guy wearing 2XL sweatshirt, hood on, shaking his head, looking at the ground and answering): “I never knew I loved her until I lost her…”…It was easy to tell he was still nursing the fresh wounds of a break-up…whether you knew he had a girlfriend or not (which many of us had a hard time keeping track of)… also easy to tell his reaction to the question was genuine and sincere – the guy really was heartbroken…annnnnd you had to appreciate his honesty in one the most testosterone laden environments possible…all this was fairly obvious but we just couldn’t help ourselves. After a quick pause, we each arrived at the same insensitive conclusion – maybe it was the accent…maybe it was that most of us didn’t know he had a girlfriend…whatever it was… at that moment, we thought it was the funniest thing the Pope had ever said …we broke out in laughter while a confused Ola could only smile and laugh with us…Nothing like talking it out with your boys to get over a breakup.

The Pope and his unforgettable line were top of mind this week. Anyone who’s either played or coached at any level of college hoops knows that October 15th is an important date. For the past 8 years, it’s been a day that’s brought with it some mixed emotions for me: The dawn of a new season accompanied by all the promise and excitement that comes with it counterbalanced with the 6 week wait for uniforms and the pain of conditioning week…as a player, we dreaded the timed mile, stair workouts, and never ending sprints…as assistant coaches, we knew it meant a week as glorified trainers and 5 months of scarce free-time. As players, though understanding how critical the entire preseason was, we couldn’t wait to get to the games. Couldn’t wait to compete. Couldn’t wait for the home rivalry games. It was a dangerous mindset to let sink in and as coaches (who were first players), we knew it and always worked hard to guard against it. The focus was day to day improvement. Preseason was tough; it was hard; and rarely was it ever much fun…..BUT, everyone knew it had to be that way and we all went through it together… as a team…recognizing that hard work bred stronger character. It’s the month and a half where every team begins to form a personality and where authentic leadership starts to take shape. A time for walk-ons to earn a spot; a time for upperclassmen to cement a role; and a time for coaches to ensure focus through any means appropriate (A la: “GET THE ___ OUT OF MY GYM!!!”). In the player’s mind, it’s a necessary evil. In the coach’s mind, it’s the difference between missing the playoffs and winning the conference (Coach is always right on that one, btw). If done right, it’s the kind of thing you can be proud of in hindsight but have a hard time enjoying in the moment. Freshmen are totally lost and close to useless (except for laundry). Upperclassmen think October can’t turn to December fast enough and the end of February might seem like years away. Coach worries about getting everyone in shape and having enough time to put in the playbook. Roughly speaking, same routine every year…

I can still remember listening as a junior to Colin Burkhart (’03) come back in his second year as an alum to shoot the shit with us players before practice. Here was a guy who played an integral role in an undefeated championship season…he saw buzzer beaters, improbable comebacks and great parties…What was it that he most missed? …Practice… Practice? (‘We talkin’ bout practice?’)…yea, right…it was hard to believe. I mean…it was hard to believe at the time.

October 15th, 2010 was a pretty damn good day…I am studying for an MBA at Notre Dame and my family was in town for the weekend’s home game. The campus was abuzz as we wandered around on a beautiful afternoon… and… good a day that it was, for the first time in 9 years the words of the Pope never rang truer. December will come soon enough and February will be here before you know it. If you’re a player reading and have practice tomorrow, know how lucky you are and do all us has-beens a favor – leave it all out there for every second of the home rivalry game but don’t wish away the hardest minute of the hardest practice of what may seem like a long season…you might not realize it now, but some day you too will be hearing Lekan as you think longingly about that timed mile: “I never knew I loved her until I lost her…”.

Go Bears.

Fondest Oct 15th memory: (Now Associate Head Coach) Mike McGarvey’s reaction to learning he just ran a 6:01 mile on the outdoor track in 2002…the best part - he didn’t realize it was even close!!!

(What’s yours?)

Sunday, October 17, 2010

UC Far From The Sea

“Bri, I just want to tell you that I’m having a really great time”…during a 48 hr period from about 9am Friday morning until about 9am Sunday morning, these were the words of a very appreciative Papa Glowacki uttered about every 20 minutes…

What has since become known as, “Ursinus Fantasy Camp 2010, South Bend”, began right on schedule – 10:05 pm, Thursday October 7th at the South Bend International Airport. As I hear the calls of “Tuuuuuuna” coming from over my left shoulder while waiting underneath the “Arrivals” sign (it was clear their excitement was hardly tempered by a 5hr trip), I immediately pop up, spin with football in hand and roll out to my left eyeing a streaking Bret Jenkins who has just dropped his luggage to run a skinny post…it doesn’t matter that the ball was badly underthrown and barely catchable – he adjusts like a pro and hauls it in…it was the best way I could think to welcome in the boys from Philly…

After some more fly patterns and plenty of hootin n’ hollerin, we hug it out brohskie style – Dstant, Nutass, Jenk, Miggity, Vinny G….Great to see you guys…wait a second, no Vince - where’s Vince?!...“Yea, he got left behind in Cleveland during the connection. Overbooked. We tried but no luck. You know the kid can’t handle three nights anyway, he’ll be fine”…yea, you’re right – good move Vince ($450 the richer for an extra night’s restful sleep), we’ll see ya tomorrow…Fantasy Camp rolls on…

First Stop – the best spot in all of South Bend. If we’re going to get this in and do it right (after sunset), it’s gotta be right away. We pull into campus, through the gate, and drive around the 9 hole Burke Golf Course on the west side of campus… the lakes on our left; dorms and volleyball courts on our right… after reaching a clearing between the two lakes – “Fellas, you don’t have to be a religious guy to appreciate this – on your right is the Grotto…” We park, get out, and a whisper falls over the group of 5 very excited and primed mid-twenty-somethings (you’re welcome Den)…we walk up, say a prayer, and stand back for a moment to take in the beauty of the scene…naively not recognizing it at the time, this proved to be the lone moment of peace to be had for the next 72 hrs… After not long, we head back to the car. McGarv, turns to me and quietly says, “What a great way to get things started. This is a pretty special place, huh?” You know it dude, glad you guys figured out how to pull it off…

Thursday night was a great time. Got home, dropped the bags off, and then watched in disbelief as Dennis walks out of the bathroom wearing a baby blue t-shirt that’s about 3 sizes too small…when asked if he was serious, he says (incredulously), “What? It’s an XL…got it at H&M; yea, doing a lot of shopping there these days”…hey man, whatever you’re comfortable with (eyes rolling)…we walk down the street to Corby’s, the grad school corner bar. With most MBA’s finishing up finals that afternoon, there’s a pretty good crowd for a Thursday night…A guy like Steve Mignona (see picture) can stand by the bar for only so long while there’s a beat playing. Five minutes later, he’s showing up all the locals and doing the Cupid Shuffle like only Miggity can do. After a round of beers and a welcome shot, we take the party into town to Club Fever. Good time at Feve (as the undergrads call it) despite the embarrassment of having Baby Blue in the crew. Jenk – MVP. McGarv – close second (for bravely following Migs on stage). We grab a cab to the diner and we’re in bed by 4:30…long day; it had only just begun…

Friday morning, 8:30am. There’s a knock at the door. Who the hell… GLOWACKI!!! (goofy brohskie-hugs all around) Come on in brotha and make yourself at home…shortly after his arrival, I take the boys over campus to see the field. At 10am every Friday, the gates open for all the pilgrims to walk the tunnel and pay homage while kneeling at the altar of Touchdown Jesus – the home team endzone. Good spot; Couple of pictures. I’m tempted to say, “we’ll be back soon” but I hold back and keep the secret under wraps...we go pick up Vince at the airport around noon. We meet Tuz back at the place around 1. Seven now on the ground and in South Bend…still missing just one… A couple of competitive pickup games later (at the Roc) and the boys are ready for a shower. We head home to clean up, then back over to campus for a lackluster pep rally before going out to the Oyster Bar for a round of Chicken Cordon Blue’s and ‘mini-bombs’…best sandwich in South Bend...the bill comes and somebody suggests credit card roulette (the game of many winners and just 1 BIG loser) – Thanks Den, really appreciate you picking up the tab. I get the boys home, we tap the keg and get started on the Frat-House Party…Grrrrrrrreat party…lots of highlights: the Ursinus vs. ND flip cup game on the back deck (chants of Flip-Flip-Flip-adelphia by the ever-gracious Ursinus team); a dance party in the living room with a spinning beer bottle; keg stands, funnels and backup kegs in the shower – it was a full blown college party all the way….buuuuuut, the highlight of the night had to be the arrival of a man who needed no introduction. In he comes…blackberry buckled to the belt, dress shirt tucked into jeans, boat shoes protecting his feet. My dad would look cooler showing up to a college party. The guy is dressed for a dinner party that he’ll be hosting 15 years from now; hardly a Fratboy party at Fantasy Camp in South Bend…Teddy P!!!! Yeaaaa!!!!! To his credit, he enters ready to go – rather, ready to keep it going (airport bar on the layover)…About an hour after he arrives, the legend of TP starts to take root: He comes to me with a huge gaping hole down the inside of his left leg and says, “Dude, I think I need to borrow a pair of jeans…” I have no idea how you did that, but sure no problem…,”Yea, it’s weird…this is the second time the same thing has happened to me in the last month”… About an hour later, now extra confident with a fresh pair of jeans on, he decides it’s time to address the party…he climbs on top of the stool, someone cuts the music and he starts, “well, it’s not every day you’ve got 200 people looking at you…” (40 people tops in the whole house; another 20-30 out back…close to 200)… ”…and, well, we just wanted to thank Tuna for such a great weekend. We love the guy and it was really nice of him to throw this party….annnnnd…uhhhh….RUUUUUUDDDDDYYYYYYY!!!!” He gives a parting fist pump to the ceiling as the music is turned back on and a couple of the Philly boys pull the guy down from the stool….what a speech. The party ends after keg #2 is kicked and we head back to Corby’s for the balance of the evening…another late one that landed us in bed no earlier than 3:30.

8:15 AM comes quickly on Saturday. Up and at ‘em right away...quick round of showers, we pick up the extra tickets and parking pass (nice work Ted), and we’re sitting in fold-out chairs next to the stadium by 9:30, basking in the sunshine on a gorgeous October day in South Bend – on its way up to 80 degrees and not a cloud in the sky. Awesome tailgate scene – bloddy mary’s, baggo, washers, plenty of beer, and a sandwich platter…couldn’t have planned it any better. We’re having a great time, when, at 1:35pm the call comes in – it’s Jimmy Z, “Hey Brian, looks like we’re a go…take your boys in through Gate A look right and find me wearing a big white t-shirt. Be there by 2:15 and I’ll take care of the rest”…awesome, these guys are going to love it. At 1:45pm, I make the announcement that this tailgate is over and we’ll be walking into the stadium by 2pm…just trust me…2:05 – we’re walking into the stadium…Gate A, where is it…Oh, crap! We have student tickets that have to enter through Gate D – the opposite end of the stadium!!! We get everybody into the stadium through Gate D by about 2:15 and start our run over to Gate A…it’s a long run…up the ramp, over two gates, back down the ramp…by the time we finally get to Gate A, you can probably guess by now that there’s no big guy wearing a white t-shirt named Jimmy Z looking for us…it’s 2:25 and it appears we’ve just missed a “golden” opportunity …I go up to a shorter lady wearing a yellow jacket (clearly part of the stadium crew), “excuse me, but do you know anyone by the name of Jimmy Z?”…she looks skeptical, “I do…”…”Well, my name is Brian and I was supposed to meet him here 10 minutes ago. I know we are late but I was wondering if he’s still around…”…”Hold on, let me go and check”….she disappears into a back tunnel and comes out 2 minutes later, “Sorry, he’s not back there. You must have missed him….” OK, thanks anyway…Now dejected, I let the guys in on the plan – we were supposed to meet Jimmy Z (who, btw, is a friend of a friend of friend that I’ve never met who paints the lines on the field) at Gate A at 2:15 and he was going to get us on the field for warmups…OHHHH MANNNN, That would have been Awesome!!!, they’re disappointed too…some of them go back to the lady in the yellow to ask where Jimmy Z is…I try him one more time on his cell phone…all of a sudden, I notice a pretty huge man wearing a big white t-shirt giving me the stink-eye from over by the lady in the yellow…that’s gotta be Jimmy Z...he looks pissed but at least I owe him an apology... I head over and he meets me halfway, “Jimmy Z, I’m Brian and we’re so sorry that we missed you earlier. You see, we came in through Gate D and-” (I’m cut-off) Steam now coming out his ears, Jimmy Z launches into a tongue lashing, “Were you harassing that lady over there? Tossing around my name? I’ve been here 22 years and in 5 minutes you’re going to ruin my reputation? I coulda had you guys on the field with Joe Montana…with Mike Golic…with all the celebrities!! If I tell someone I’m going to be here at 2:15, I damn well make sure that I’m here by 2:10…”…He’s pissed and there’s no calming him down. He’s already talked over every attempt of mine to explain and apologize. Finally, I realize he’s too upset for an explanation, “Jimmy Z, look, we’re really sorry that we missed the time but we brought this for you and want to make sure you have it anyway…” I pull out the Helferich Hooligans T-Shirt (the Ursinus 6th man shirt), hold it up, and hand it over: “Thanks anyway. We really appreciate it and are very sorry for any trouble”…Jimmy Z’s expression completely changes. He takes the t-shirt and says, “Hang on a second, let me see what I can do…” And with that, he’s into the mystery tunnel…comes back 1 minute later, “Alright Brian, get your boys together…has anyone been drinking?”…Noooooo Sir…we all immediately look at the speechwriter of the group …”Alright then, these two guys will take care of you…”

Chip and Pac take us back through the tunnel…we stop for pictures with the Pitt cheerleaders…high fives to the Pitt Panther…then we come out to our landing spot for the next 20 minutes: hanging over to the wall that overlooks the ramp from TD Jesus to the field…somebody pinch me…McNutass loves his iPhone and got some great video of hanging out with the band, watching the Pitt team come off the field and then, the cooooolest part, high fives for the Irish as they run off the field to the echoes of the fight song played by our new band friends…we were all on top of the world. Jimmy Z - what a guy!! Wouldn’t have happened without that Helferich Hooligans T-shirt (Thx Smalley)…The game is a little anticlimactic after all of the tunnel excitement. The Irish manage to pull out a win. Our visitors enjoyed the student section while the MVP napped through the second half. The unusually warm October day allows for a post-post game tailgate that continues long after dark and includes lots of UC nostalgia as we talk about the Glory Days before heading off to the Linebacker Inn to cap off the weekend. A typical sweat-fest of loud music, tall beers, and uninhibited dancing…an appropriate ending to Fantasy Camp 2010, South Bend.

It was at some point amidst the confusion of the Backer on Saturday night that Glowacki turned to me and delivered the now well-rehearsed and expected line – “Bri, I just want you to know, I’m having a really great time”…smiles ear to ear on both of us, ”So am I, Chris…so am I”.

Fantasy Camp 2011 – Destination unknown…anybody planning on an MBA? How about an SEC school...I recommend the two-year option.

Friday, September 10, 2010

He's a P-T-P'er Baby!

Sold. I buy it. All the hype; all the rah rah; all the tradition. There is no place like it on a Saturday in September. I've been out for a number of games before (SIDENOTE: Teddy P's face as we stand at the gate in Philly International Airport at 6:00AM on a Friday morning having just realized I booked two flights for Chicago departing at bad dude) but I've never participated as an active member of the community and seen firsthand how it all builds up and eventually comes together at 3:30 Saturday afternoon...

The first real signs of the approaching holiday appear Wednesday afternoon. Huge tents start popping up all around campus, Port-Au-Johns roll in by the dozens, and the student newspaper (produced every day...isn't that crazy?) starts running a tale of the tape on the weekend's matchup. Thursday, the anticipation builds. Big Signs are going up and middle aged men start walking around the quad with faded ND hats and cameras hanging from their belts. On the walk to my car after a full day of classes and group meetings (MBA school loves case studies), I'm entertained first by Coach Kelly's pregame radio show emanating from the outdoor speakers at Legends (the on campus bar) and second, by the marching band practicing their halftime routine in the far corner of the parking lot...there is nothing like hearing the beats of Taio Cruz from hundreds of trumpets, tubas, drums, etc. Friday morning, you're excited but not really sure why (surely it's not the 90 minute lecture detailing all legal ramifications of excessive personal spending by a public company's CEO) Noon, the throngs of pilgrims are clogging up the parking lots and might as well be gameday...footballs flying everywhere. The tents now selling anything you could ever want with an ND logo on it. Friday night: Pep Rally in the S. Quad, a Notre Dame tradition. New Head Coach Kelly takes the mic and rallies the troops (all 15k of them). The alarm goes off early on Saturday morning. The tailgating starts right away (MBA's apparently have a rep for this kind of a thing). At 2pm, the band begins their march from the dome to the stadium...very cool (but also very crowded) all culminates with a 3:30 kickoff as the entire student body collectively breathes a sigh of relief after the first ND touchdown...maybe this is a different year...the optimism is cute. The effects of the weekend continue into Sunday as I naively walk into 10am mass at the time it starts (stupid me), only to see about all 82k fans from the game yesterday and am forced to stand in the foyer with the other 'late comers'. And, finally, the aftermath of the weekend wears off Monday with a 5 minute diagnosis of strengths, weaknesses and a scouting report of next week's opponent from each professor at the start of their class...great stuff...

It's a weekly routine steeped in so much tradition and so unique, that it draws alums, locals, and otherwise unaffiliated football fans from all over the country...some more high profile than others...which leads me to a quick story: On Friday afternoon (after that riveting lecture), I head over to the athletic center to try and catch the tail end of the pickup scene...I’m there just in time to get in the last (and pretty awful) game of the afternoon. After the rest of the gang hits the showers, I stick around to get some shots up for a bit. A bunch of little kids (maybe 7 years old) come running out wearing ND jerseys and start shooting on the court right next to me. After about 15 minutes, I look up and notice a very familiar face watching the action from the second floor - it's the kids' grandfather, DICKIE V!!! How cool is that...I'm shooting around while Dickie V watches from above...come on, what Big Ten school as THAT to offer a washed up DIII hoops MBA candidate? I told you, a unique place. It's pretty well known that he's a big-time fan (I think his daughter's an alumn)...after playing it cool and continuing to shoot for 5 minutes, I just couldn't help myself - I had to go introduce myself...up the steps, around the corner and there he is. I walk up, shake his hand and say, "Dickie V, I had to say hello, I'm a big fan" (what a star-struck geek)...He says, "Hey how ya doin man"'s fairly clear that he's not interested in the attention but he's polite enough to recognize a fan...I'm ready to let him off the hook and back to family time when he casually says with a flick of his hat to my chest, "Hey kid, you can really shoot the ball can't ya?"...!!!...holy my boy Shirley said when I relayed (OK, bragged about) the story, "You sonuvabitch, that's like George Clooney telling you you're good-looking"...I immediately go weak in the knees and stammer through a clumsy response full of stuttering (what a star-struck geek) all lasted about 2 minutes (yea, yea...that's what she said)...As I walked away from the gym blasting out a text to family and friends bragging that Dickie V likes my J, I knew it'd be a great one for the blog.

Who knows if this whole MBA thing will lead to a better job and one worth the investment...and who cares really? I just got my money's worth in about 120 seconds. Go Irish...BABY!!! (He knows talent when he sees it on this campus)

Monday, August 30, 2010

The (Bouncing) Circle of Life

By his own admission, my Dad was not the star of his high school basketball team; not the leading scorer; not the best point guard; not even a starter during his career. When he remembers his playing days, he talks of coming down with rebounds in a crowd of forwards 5,6,7 inches taller than he; he talks of locking up with the best player on the other team and taking pride in not letting him score; and of course, the humble guy that he is, he talks of his Achilles heel – the soft spot in his game; the reason he didn’t get the shoe contract; the shot opposing teams happily allowed: the almighty LAYUP…given 10 attempts from the top of the key or 10 breakaway layups, he’ll make double the jump shots just about every time. These facts and the stories to support them I’ve come to learn over years during countless backyard shooting sessions…

There’s a little slice of heaven back in Interlaken, NJ on Woodmere Rd where a patch of blacktop has sat tastefully cornered for over a decade in a perfectly self-manicured landscape just wide and deep enough to fit a regulation three point arch that half moons around a full fiberglass backboard outfitted with a red white and blue net like you used to see at the playgrounds…”backyard of the year” kind of stuff...a peaceful, private spot where a guy has no excuse for not getting hundreds of jumpshots up every day…a place where Dads rebound for sons while passing down the stories and recollections of “rebounding amongst the trees” . If we all had to choose just one place to live down the rest of our days, this is probably it for me. The concrete was first poured at some point between my 12th and 14th birthday…I’m a little hazy on the details obviously and I’m sure my Dad would know for sure, but I can back into this two year time frame because I know it was there when I started high school and it wasn’t during one of them indelible moments that a guy will never forget.

As a 10 and 11 year old kid, you don’t know and probably don’t care how many points per game your Dad averaged in high school (but you assume it was a lot, of course). When you’re regularly playing one-on-one in the backyard, the only thing you know and care about is that he’s taller, stronger, quicker and that you’ve never beaten him. As an 11 year old, he could probably shut you out every time if he really wanted to but he lets you compete for a while before shutting the door and imparting the life lessons of humility and the value of a strong work ethic…these lessons, as we all know, don’t become apparent until later in life and lacking any perspective at that age, you wonder if there will ever be a day that you find that first victory…that is, until you actually pull it off on your 12th birthday. I’m pretty sure the plan was not to let me win that day…I would imagine the script called for letting the young pup get close enough but then clamping down and preventing any real chance of victory…ahhh, but alas, the script would be thrown out...

One in a million. A total prayer that had no right to go in. The memory remains pretty vivid. I couldn’t tell you how we got to game point, but I do know that I was checking it up with a chance to hit a two (pointer) for the win. I know that it wasn’t the new court because we dribbled on a patch of dirt/weeds and shot at a backboard in worse condition than the ones at the DS Basketball camp held in a tennis facility. He checked it up and stood toe to toe ready to thwart any attempt at moving an inch closer to the basket. I had no chance and I knew it. My only option was to take a dribble away from the rim, spin with my back to the basket and heave desperation in the general direction of the goal. It could have ended up in any one of a hundred different places that it deserved to: the most predictable being over the fence, down the hill and in the neighbor’s yard across the street…BUT, it didn’t. Nope. It first landed squarely in the center of the box on the backboard (a place no self respecting balla player ever aims for) and then dropped cleanly through the net, signaling that first victory and sparking a celebration replete with loud noises, high stepping and double overhead fist pumping. Equally goofy as it was obnoxious I am sure…but hey, what did I care? I just beat my dad (my hero) for the first time ever in basketball. I’ll never forget it.

As the years wore on, the games of 1v1 became more and more competitive and then less and less so…I continued to grow (and figured out that Achilles heel) and eventually our time in the backyard was spent mostly doing shooting workouts. Some real quality father-son bonding back there in our own little slice of heaven…and we didn’t play the 1 on 1 game but twice a year: His birthday and mine. When I eventually went off to college and was only home during the summer, the ritual stretched to just once a year: the 4th of July. Father vs Son, 1 on 1. It’s funny how things tend to come full circle. He now playing the role of unlikely underdog and I the boring favorite. Mom would come out and watch from the steps of the back deck tsk-tsk’ing and shaking her head while I backed him down in the post as if to say, “If you send your father to the hospital, you’re out of the will”. We found subtle ways to level the action and keep things competitive but inevitably if he ever got close to game point, I would check it up, stand toe-to-toe, take away the top of the key jumper he loved and force him to the rim. We battle it out once a year every summer: no injuries; loser pours…

This past summer, with me off at College Part Duex, the annual tradition was put off until the second week in August (during my two week break). We laced ‘em up, he put on his Ursinus basketball shorts and an old school ND jersey (class of ’75) and we checked it up out back with Mom watching from the steps. Game 1 followed the script: a close, scrappy contest with more bricks than swishes but eventually less bricks from the 26 yr old…a predictable outcome. Game II followed a similar pattern from the start. We seesawed for a while in the summer heat conceding open jumpers to each other while conserving energy. The score stayed tight as we got closer to 11 and I finally found myself checking it up with the old man a two away from victory. So what did I do? This was crunch time...I got low and close and was determined not to give up that top of the key jumper….what did he do? He shot faked, looked right, drove left and you’d never believe it, but he went up for a contested layup and actually made it…oh boy…now the 16 seed is just a point away closing out the 1 seed…check it up…determined not give up the game winner and convinced the last point was a fluke, I assumed the stance. Same move: head fake to the rim, I stay on the ground…he fakes right, starts the drive left…there’s no way he’s getting that layup off again; I’m with him the whole way. One dribble and he stops…on a dime he rises up and shoots the pull-up…I’m caught off guard, expecting the layup and he gets a clean look….ball in flight …hits the front the rim, bounces off the backboard and finally drops through…game over…with all of the goofiness and none of the obnoxiousness of a 12 year old, the routine of high knees, double overhead fist pumping and hollering ensues. The crowd (of one) empties from the bleachers (the step) and rushes the court (lightly jogs through the arbor) to join in the upset celebration… needless to say, I poured three beers that night…one for the loser and one for the victor and his cheerleader.

At 57 years old and playing on stiff knees, he’s still teaching life lessons on the blacktop in the backyard…today’s thesis (with an assist from Mom): You’re never too old to live with a 12 year old’s joie de vivre.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Saint Malinowski on N. Saint Peters

At long last, writing this week from the road! The final class of the summer session let out only a couple of hours earlier and my girl has just taken the wheel for a couple of miles…with the wheel comes ownership of the dial and I’m sorry to turn off Cleveland’s ESPN radio (and the riveting discussion in anticipation of an intra-squad brown/white Browns scrimmage) but it provides a good chance to sit back and reflect a little bit...

The last week of the “summer intensive” proved to be a nice transition to the approaching two week respite – just a morning pass/fail course on the subject of “Strategy Essentials” (mostly some touchy feely shi…stuff). After Monday’s class, Emily and I realized that with a light course load, it might be a good week to host our turn at dinner … an unofficial club has formed within the MBA student body and it is the brainchild of our classmate Greg Carlson. During the first two or three weeks of the program, he casually polled students seeking interest in a no frills dinner-club-type group where each member would take a turn at hosting a homemade meal of their own “specialty dish”… the thought was, as he put it, “work hard one week and then sit back and don’t do jack for 15 weeks”. He came up with a name - the “College Meal Plan” (sounds like it should be a Kanye album doesn’t it) – and then volunteered to host the first meal two Fridays ago. He delivered a great night and a meat-lover’s paradise – bacon wrapped grilled chicken stuffed with Italian sausage and portabella mushroom…lights out…as delicious as it sounds…after the feeding that night, the process for establishing the next host was agreed upon – the game of “Fingers” (involving a pitcher of beer) that produces no true winner(s) and just one loser. As you might imagine, with the odds stacked against us (two players), it was no surprise that team McEvilowski would have the honor of chef responsibilities for round II…Cool, nooooo problem….we left that evening promising the very best (and likely first) shrimp enchilada our guests have ever seen.

In an effort to continue the momentum of the Meal Plan, we really wanted to get our Enchiladas in before the summer break. After learning that the this week would afford the chance, Monday night we sent out the invitation and received back a near unanimous response - 15 affirmative RSVP’s….the gauntlet had been thrown – a grown up dinner party for 17 people… as the responses trickled in, we thought hmmmm, maybe we were in a little over our heads….nahhh, no way. How hard could it be, right? I was going to cook up a couple batches of my specialty Enchiladas (the only thing I got) and Emily would bring it all alive with some sautéed broccoli, green beans, asparagus and a side of Mexican rice while also preparing nachos and a corn dip for an appetizer (she takes a lot of pride her dips and seems to have developed a bit of a niche in the department). We set off for the food store on Tuesday to get all the necessary ingredients (we were missing just the corn tortillas). The next morning we wake up, go to class, and each have our own agenda for the afternoon. We agreed that we’d meet back at the house at around 5/530 that evening and I’d make sure to pick up the missing tortilla shells and some borrowed baking sheets…

Among other things on the agenda was a tentatively scheduled workout at about 4pm. It’d been a while since my last showing at the pickup scene and I was hungry for a little hoops action…planned to get some shots up on my own and then run a couple games with the afternoon crowd (they usually trickle in between 4:30 and 5)...Took a while for us to finally round up 10 but once we got going, my team won a couple games and I was feeling pretty good about my performance … (the Matt Harping pull-up game was sharp and I was the proud recipient of a recruiting pitch from an intramural team captain)…so good, in fact, that I kind of lost track of time and before I knew it, when I finally asked someone what time it was, the response that came, “eh, a little after 6” was a bit startling…Oh ____!! (you fill in the blank…they all apply)…I hustle to the locker room, pack all my stuff in a bag and immediately head off for the car – no time for a shower, change of shirt or even shoes. It’s now 6:15 and I look at my phone to see 5 missed calls and 4 new text messages coming as early as 5:10 and evenly distributed through 6:10….You can guess who they were from….there was a gradual progression of tone: First, “Bri, maybe we should get started sooner”…then, a little later, “You already picked up the dishes and the tortillas right?”…and the 6:00 one: “You do know we are hosting 17 people at your house in an hour!”…OK, now I have a lot more work to do than I originally thought. There's a fairly long list of responsibilities when it comes to hosting dinner party and on top of it all I’ve now managed to find myself squarely in the dog house…Walking to the car, I call back: “I’m really sorry, I had no idea what time it was, I’m on my way to the food store and John’s (for the baking dish), I’ll be there in 10 minutes”…”Bri, I already went to Johns. He had no idea where you were. I’m sitting outside your house waiting for you. Do you have any idea how mad I am right now?”…Sensing this was not the time for sarcasm, I’m thinking solutions, “The spare key is -------. Let yourself in and I’ll be home in 5”…click…I’ve now just parked at the local grocery store and am running through the parking lot into the store wearing a completely drenched t-shirt, fully laced ankle braces and high tops…moving so quickly I don’t even notice the strange looks coming from fellow shoppers…I get the tortillas, run to the counter, check out and am back in the car in 2 minutes flat…hmmm, I wonder if there’s ever been a quicker trip to this grocery store ever…phone rings, “Bri. The key’s not there. Your roommate must have it. (Thinking to myself: Oh, yea…I told him to take it yesterday…whoops)” …click…Any many who’s been in a relationship lasting more than 6 months knows just how quickly emotions of the opposite sex can turn…I roll in front of the house at 6:40 and it’s abundantly clear that I’m dealing with undiluted and raw anger…”Em…”…”Don’t even try it”

She goes right to the kitchen to begin the prep work. I start straightening up the house. We planned for dinner to be served outside and to use the picnic table in the back as necessary seating…don’t exactly have the resources to host a 17 person formal dining experience…but the clouds are now threatening and only adding to the pain. As I start to move the two tables that we have out to the back deck, “What are you doing? We can’t eat outside. It’s hot and humid and it’s about to storm”…”But we really can’t fit everyone in…you’re right. My bad“ (A blatant lie. There is absolutely no way inside is going to work). I set up the tables inside and stand back to try and figure out #1) where we’re going to find another 5 chairs and #2) how the heck we’re to fit 17 of them around these awkwardly positioned tables…(still wearing the same wet outfit)…Emily continues to scramble preparing the food but looks up and finds me in problem solving mode (otherwise known as standing still doing nothing) … “What are you doing?”… “I’m trying to…”…”Just do something!”…OK, Fine. Time for an executive decision: the clouds will blow by. We’re eating outside. I move the tables outside, get the 3 chairs we have and set up the table cloths. Now, time to enter the Lion’s Den….I tread cautiously to the kitchen to take care of my culinary duties – the Enchiladas. Emily heads right for the bathroom to shower. I get done what I have to and at about 7:15 she emerges from the shower and asks, “Soooo when were you going to go to Greg’s to get the chairs and a pan for the rice that I need?”….Oh, right…On my way...

I grab the cell phone, “Greg, you still around? I have to come by to get the chairs…and do you have a pan for rice?”…”yea man, no problem. I’m on my way over in 5 minutes. I’ll just bring them with me.”….”Trust me dude, I don’t mind. See you in 2”. I hustle to get the chairs and am in the car turning the key when I realize that I forgot about the rice pan….pretty sure that would have been the straw that cut the camel’s balls off…I hustle back to get a pan and am again in the car headed home when I notice rain drops starting to hit the windshield...cursing and looking up to the sky (THINK: Henry Hill looking for helicopters in Goodfellas), I’m trying to evaluate how long it’s going to last…eh, doesn’t look bad, shouldn’t be too long…I get home to find a jeep parked outside and two guests inside…PHEW. A shield… the previously set tables are drenched but the rain seems to have stopped. We dry the tables and put the cooking into motion. It’s 7:35 and the rest of the party starts to show. After a dramatic 55 minutes, things seem to settle down and we look to have everything under control. The appetizers are served and receive many deserving compliments. The Enchiladas are in the oven and baking right on schedule. I finally have a chance to take a quick shower and by 7:50, I have a beer in hand and start to relax…man, that pull-up jumper felt damn good today…

Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and after dinner, in true McEvily fashion, I forced all guests to play two rounds of knockout on our backyard basketball court…proudly sent them all home losers, I might add, as they wondered aloud what kind of person makes everyone play a game just so he can win… All in all, it turned out to be a fun evening and I could sense the tension easing with my ever-patient partner chef. When the last person left at around 11:30, the negotiation was quick and relatively painless. The act of contrition: a dinner at her favorite South Bend Italian restaurant, Papa Vinos. She really is the best….

“Bri, you ready to take back the wheel yet? There’s a rest stop coming up soon…Hey, what are you doing on that thing by the way?”…”Just typing up a blog post”…….”Let me guess, you’re going to make me relive it all again aren’t you?...I really should go find a new boyfriend!”

Sometimes, it’s hard to argue with her.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chalk It Up

For those of you unfamiliar with the many different distinguishing characteristics of this special little town of South Bend, allow me to enlighten you with yet another fun fact: South Bend is home to North America's very first artificial whitewater waterway...Didn't know that did you? Yea baby - nothing like a first-mover advantage (love the MBA-speak)... the South Bend course was the first of four now scattered throughout the country. Why, you ask? Well, thanks to some limited research (Wikipedia) the answer seems to be that these courses were built as training grounds for Olympic athletes to prepare for the Games' whitewater events. While South Bend was once home to such training, the official US National Whitewater Center, constructed in 2000, is located in Charlotte and serves as the venue for most of the training these days (They teach us that the first-mover advantage always wears off...). For you Wednesday night 'Wings n Trivia' regulars, the other two sites are in MD and TN.

The East Race Waterway, as it's called, now falls under the domain of South Bend Parks and Recreation Department. It opens during the summer on weekend afternoons for the local daredevils to taste for themselves what if feels like to fight the 1900 feet of scale 2 rapids. For just $5, anybody measuring in at a minmum of 4'6" can take the quick ride...a pretty tame exercise for even the most risk averse...With the summer program winding down (1 week left before a 2 week recess) us 1 yr students realize that without immediate action, our opportunity to brave this unique experience would soon be gone...and so it was that this past Saturday afternoon, a group of 10 MBA students took to the river each with 5 bucks, a pair of water shoes and expectations for not much more than a checkmark on the list of 'Only in South Bend'...

I should start with a little background...scale 2 rapids may not mean much to the rookie rafter, but for those of us with experience riding the safetynet-free waves of Mother Nature's scale 4 rapids, you'll have to excuse our see, during the summer of my 14th birthday, the McEvily family vacation took us out West for a 5 day rafting excursion down the Green River and through the canyons of Utah...a great vaca that produced some unforgettable memories and, apparently, a touch of whitewater hubris that lingered untested for the next 12 years...

Getting back to present day South Bend...We arrive at the course, buy our tickets from the hotdog stand (I know what you're thinking but sadly no pre-game corndogs) and break up in to smaller teams. The combination of Garner, Shirley (male classmates), and McEvily develops a natural rapport and forms a smaller team of just 3...(Perfect, less of chance for novice rafters to get in my way)...we select our life vests, helmets and the winning raft before setting out down to the launching dock...."So, is this your first ride?" says the blonde lifeguard (full tattoo running down her right thigh) as she grabs the raft from us (the same one just requiring the efforts of three grown men to transport)..."Yep"..."OK, then let me give you my safety spiel..." As she goes on to describe the depth of water (~3ft), positioning of lifeguards (every couple hundred yards) and the proper "Rescue Me" technique (on your back, feet up, blah, blah, blah), I'm about ready to interrupt with, "Uh, Have you ever heard of the Green River? I think I'll be OK, Thanks..." but discretion gets the better of me...She pushes us off with one final piece of advice: "make sure to lock your feet into the sides of the boat or the seat in front of you for better balance"...and just like that, we're off...

...the current gradually picks up a bit and we can now see an approach to some white water...we attack it head on ready for some we go...annnnnnd....Oh...Are you serious? THAT was IT??? ...what a least it'll be over in 5 minutes...current picks up some rapid - half a step up...wonder why they even bother with lifeguards out rapid - little more challenging...hey, this is close to being fun...the next one now in our sights...looks like a fair amount of white...we might actually get some splash here..."Yo Shirley, what are you doing? Why is the boat turning sideways?"..."You got me!"...we're now hitting the rapid big deal..."Man, you guys should've seen me on the Green River..."...the sideways approach seems just fine...Hey, look - there's our other group walking back....wait a minute..."Dude, we're stuck!"...the raft, still sideways, is at the bottom of the current rapid while a mini waterfall effect prevents our progress down stream...A rush of current hits us from the side annnnnd....yep, you got it - the dreamteam capsizes (those Greek Gods always punish hubris)...

...ahhhh, water not too cold, this aint so bad, good way to cool off...I pop up from underwater and notice Shirley now floating down the river too...wait, I'm under again...something’s off here...Ahhh, Shoot! foot is caught in the boat (wedged under the seat in front of me, of course)....can't shake it loose!...up for air again...back under...the raft is now floating down stream with a Tuna hanging from its starboard!...can't break out...oh this it?...3ft of water on a manmade whitewater course with scale 2 rapids...what a way to go... thoughts flashing through my mind…I wonder how many people would come to my funeral...Definitely should have gone on that Brazil trip... Can't believe I missed that three in the '05 tournament game...FINALLY, the seat in front of me gives a little bit and the foot shakes free...PHEW!...OK, what was it that she said about the "Rescue Me" position...floating on my back...feet up...a lifeguard is now in sight and shouting instructions....he throws us (Shirely 5 ft ahead of me) each a rope...lifeguards from both sides of the waterway are delivering confusion....what the HECK is going on here...there is only 3 feet of water!...this guy is struggling with his biggest catch of the day...Garner meanwhile finds his way back to the raft but clearly losing command of the vessel on his own and finds himself once again in the water! He's looking back at us, deer in the headlights...the two lifeguards on the other side are now yelling obscenity-laden orders at him…“Get back in the boat immediately!”… they think he's intentionally jumped overboard...He's yelling back, "CHILLOUT!"…superman lifeguard is pulling two of the biggest goofballs the St. Joseph's has ever known to shore while Garner manages to fight his way back to the raft...what the F just happened?!?! I notice our classmates, who have just witnessed this very embarrassing spectacle, are now across the way doubled over and laughing uncontrollably...

Shirley and I are dripping wet and walking to the end of the course to meet up with our team's sole survivor...having a pretty good laugh ourselves...Through plenty of tries and lots of duds, the guy seems to have really taken pride in having a one-liner for any situation (better known as Shirleyism's): "Well, I guess you can chalk that up to something that looks a whoooole lot easier than it really is"...There it is - a perfect delivery.

Indeed, only in South Bend...

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Decision

Shifting gears from the social scene to the academic schedule, we just recently finished up a week-long session of career development where critical skills like interviewing, job searching, networking and dinner table etiquette were hammered home...very important things that I was receptive to learning all about...but I just couldn't help myself from daydreaming during the afternoons about that glorious moment at some point in the near future when I finally decide which of the 10 different 6 figure job offers (dream sequence) is the best for me (they all swear the job market will be ready for us): Should I announce the decision in a more traditional way by making a phone call to both the winner and losers of the McEvily Sweepstakes.... orrrrrrrr, should I announce the decision quietly through this blog and let the scores of followers (employers included) find out all at the same time (call it the Kevin Durant style) orrrrrr, better yet, should I call up CNBC, request to have a 1 hr special a week from now, sell out to a bunch of sponsors, let the entire world fixate on me and only me for a couple of days, pretend like the decision really hasn't been made, take a bunch of bullsh*t questions from Jim (Cramer of course; I'm not lame enough to sit down with Grey), before finally announcing to the world (and my parents for the first time) that I've decided to pursue a career in subprime lending on the other side of the country (Sorry Mom, I'll fully expect you to write a seething letter about your son's bloated ego and sense of entitlement).....hmmmm, Durant or Lebron?....Tarantula or King James?....this is tough....what to do....

Shoot! Back to reality...the career coach with the microphone in hand now circling the room cold calls on me, "So Brian, how about you? What do you think your biggest strengths and weaknesses are and how do you expect to convince a hiring manager in an interview that you are the only candidate for the job?"...uhhh....well....I guess I'm pretty good at...uhh...Hey, have I told you about my blog?

Here's hoping for tough decisions in the next 6 months...

Sunday, July 11, 2010

When In Rome... as the Romans and when in South Bend...well, go the local Demolition Derby. Yea baby, nothing like the smell of fire and oil to bring the kids out for this week's family affair.

Having a grand ol' time out here in Indiana and taking full advantage of all that that the area has to offer...btw, in case you were wondering, the star of the show last night at the Derby was a 14 year old kid (who looked not a day older than 12). He lasted until the final heat and cemented his status as the fan favorite (and true winner) as he climbed out of the opening where his station wagon's windshield used to be to jump up and down on the hood of his car...
Nothing like a jumbo corn dog and fifth row seats to the best that the St. Joe's 4H County Fair has to offer. Pretty embarrassing moment actually when I went to order that Jumbo sized corn encrusted foot long hot dog..."so, how do people usually eat these things?", I ask the girl at the window who kindly served know, like standard ketchup/mustard or is there something even cooler made specifically for corndogs that I don't know what I was case you were wondering, there's not and what I thought was a legitimate question turned out to be just the opposite: Her mouth went straight to the floor, she looked me dead in the eyes and asked, "Wait, you mean you've never had a corn dog???" Thankfully, Emily has gotten pretty good at apologizing for her boyfriend and shoved me in the direction of the condiment stand before any further embarrassment...the corndog, for any other CD virgins out there, turned out to be damn good too with nothing more than a little yellow mustard.

When we're not getting down with the locals at the county fair, it's college as usual...last week, after gutting through a double final Friday, it was about time to host the first house party of the summer and I was proud to offer up 109 N. St. Peter St as the spot. Went out, bought a keg, enlisted some help for food (lights out buffalo chicken dip from Martha Malinowski), and picked up some ping pong balls...I'm going colllllleggggge all the way baby...keg stands and beer pong until 4am!!! So I send out the invitation through facebook - party starts at 9pm...first guest shows up at 9:30 with the classic look of fear that any first-to-arrive guest usually has: "Oh man, did I miss the party??" he says as he looks back at his car (the only one on the street) hoping for an easy out...Nope, you're the lucky one!...come onnnn in and help yourself to some buffalo dip and a beer (or about 25 because I'm not so sure anyone else is going to show)…. As luck would have it, he was the first of about 50 and it turned out to be a decent little shindig. Not much beer pong (or keg stands for that matter...disappointing, I know) but we did drum up a rowdy game of flip cup on the back deck… for about 10 minutes or so, until the party was officially christened an authentic Colllleggge house party when, from inside the house, I hear. "Oh, $hit. Where's Brian?!...the cops are here and they want to talk to whoever lives here". Certainly not unfamiliar words for a college kid, but as I find my way outside, thoughts of my brother's somewhat harrowing experience hearing those same words run through my mind (as a 20 year old, he bravely answered to a similar request in Chestnut Hill, only to find out that the Boston PD has a real ballbusting policy for honest kids who take responsibility for the cowardice of drunk and incoherent roommates who actually threw the party in the first place...but I digress). Anyway, without any roommates to dump this one on, I am introduced to Officer Kelly who promptly asks for identification...he takes a peek at the Jersey license and after finding the birth date, we all notice his face drop just a bit, "Damn, this guy’s 26 years old. Not the underage bust we were hoping for as we listened from the street. Better make up something about the neighbors calling in a noise distrubance"...he tells us to move it inside and keep it down. "No problem, nice to meet you Officer Kelly, looking forward to seeing you again soon..." 1 party, 1 visit from the cops...what a badass (just don't mind the white chinos and purple golf shirt ensemble while I obediently act on the SBPD demands)... after the run-in with officer Krupkie, errr I mean Kelly, the crowd slowly thins…ahhh, NOW it's starting to feel more like college again…

Indiana’s not so bad after all…We’re making do with what we got…Next party, it’s definitely buffalo dip AND corndogs.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Basketball Without Whistles

The life of a "baller" on the pickup court years after any meaningful competitive action can sometimes be a rather pathetic existence. We cling to any remaining trace of skill that once existed and occasionally test the boundaries of old...sometimes it's an aggressive shot selection that completely misses iron (airball) or a move to the lane that once worked (that is, until you forgot how to dribble with your left hand), or it could be a lefty hook that you never had the balls to shoot in a real game but now take with reckless abandon without the slightest regard for "time and score"...19 out of 20 times these attempts end in total disaster and can severely impact interaction with your friends for the evening...buuut, just like that perfect 7 iron to 2 feet on hole 11 en route to shooting a 117, there's always one shot, no matter how bad things are, that keeps you coming back for more every time.

Ultimately, we all find ourselves at some point during the 'afterlife' falling victim to something that is even more pathetic than the actual spectacle itself - actually thinking about and reliving the experience post mortem. It isn't enough that we waste two hours of every week playing the game....nope, we waste even more time daydreaming about it. Might be that perfectly tossed pass in transition or it could be a game winning jumper...OR, maybe it's a really bad turnover that lost the game (possibly a full court pass attempt from under your own basket with 3 seconds left, up 3 that hits the ceiling eventually resulting in a made three at the buzzer from your opponent and a loss in 2OT...idk, just a random example)...the point is - basketball remains a pretty highly anticipated weekly event for us has-beens and the results can often induce a "wish I had that one again" type of a reaction... one that's been known to linger... it's widely believed that Steven P. Erfle's experience at his own wedding was a 9.5 (out of 10) because he went 0-fer at Ursinus that morning...and it would have been only a 9 if not for the ride of his life during the "Hora" (chair dance)... See, I told you - really, pretty pathetic...

So the other night, immediately following the IPO, I received a call from an old colleague (who happens to be a self-titled Associate Head Men's Basketball Coach). It was a call in direct response to the blog posting and began with a very pointed question, "So, how much are you looking to get from MTV for dropping their show in your blog?"...I told you, this guy definitely spends too much time out here...Annnnyway, after explaining that there are no financial incentives behind this blogger's motives (so far. make me an offer) and after getting through the standard pleasantries that former colleagues typically share, I soon learned that he was "Ranging" down to the shore (he drives a white range rover) with his brother sitting shotgun. His brother, who happens to also be a good friend, is a newly minted college grad. I told him to say hello for me and I asked him how he was doing...a question to which the reply came back without a moment's hesitation: "He's doing pretty good...tough out there but he's working real hard to make his own opportunities...things are going to come together soon for him...his guy scored on him a couple of times but he went to the rim solidly at least twice tonight". It was only halfway through that I realized he wasn't talking about his kid brother trying to land a job during double digit unemployment...No, much more importantly, it was a coach's/brother's interrpretation of his play only minutes earlier...(with the honesty that only an older brother could deliver). Even sadder, I quickly forgot, myself, all sense of reality and started to ask details of the game...pathetic? Definitely. But a welcomed interruption to a night of statistics and accounting homework.

OK, so before signing off, I leave with a quick story about the 1 out of 20 that keeps you coming back...earlier this week I received an invitation to summer pickup from our classmate in the MBA program, Tim Abromaitis...quick bio - he graduated in three years and is making use of NCAA eligibility by pursuing a graduate degree...oh, and he'll probably be with your favorite NBA team next season...(a little different than ballroom dancing classes while Mom hangs out on scholarship in SoCal...btw, the BushPush has now been officially eradicated from the books. Never happened. ND won.) ... getting back to the story - I said that I'd be happy to play as long as they weren't looking for anything more than just another body to make 10. Ok, Great - Monday afternoon at 5:30 it is. I end up meeting Mr. NBA at about that time. Takes me back through the lockerroom; pretty sweet digs - plasmas, video games and leather couches for the "lounge" (I mentioned we were fundraising for a new lockeroom rug back in C-ville). We suit up and hit the floor. It's a smattering of current players, buddies still on campus and some alums back from playing overseas looking to stay in shape. Ends up being a good run and I hold my own (not completely embarrassing the family name) until an opportunity in transition materializes...I receive the outlet off a miss at the right hashmark. Just me and the 6-10 guy who's got a pretty good start and is defending the very hoop that I have my eyes on...I can see him salivating in my peripheral vision...I'm lining up the layup and I know he's asking himself if I'm really going to attempt it...hell, I can feel everyone else in the gym thinking the same thing (Think Sandlot scene where first fly ball is hit to Smalls in left and everyone else watches with one eye closed)...I bravely go up for the attempt - take off from the left foot...ball in right hand...he leaves the floor fully anticipating the spike....Then, a quick shift from the right to the left and I sneak it in for two. The classic lefty layup from the right side of the court!!!!...if there's such a thing as a patented move for a washed up DIII whiteboy, mine is this. Every once in a while you can catch an unsuspecting poor this case - the victim was the 6-10 kid who plays in the Big East.... 0-5 from three? Slept like a baby that night.

1 in 20. I'll take it every time. So, when are we playing next?

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


OK, so I must admit - never thought I'd ever be a "blogger"...always kinda thought of the "blogspot" as a place for computer geeks to leek images of the next iPhone or where rumors of political sex scandals started...a place where the likes of Mike McGarvey go to waste endless hours over lunch breaks or "film" sessions...(had to give my boy a shoutout in the maiden voyage)...needless to say, haven't spent much time over the years out here in the ol' blogoshere...until now that is. I've come to learn that there's some good that can come from it all and that it can serve many different purposes....hell, with a couple clicks of the mouse, they'll let anybody set one up for any old reason. So here goes - my attempt at publishing in the public domain...

Let me begin briefly with a purpose. After 4 years of undergraduate studies at the U (Ursinus College for you many followers accross the country) and another 4 years down the road at SEI Investments, I've now taken this show on the road out to South Bend in pursuit of an MBA from the Mendoza College of Business at the University of Notre Dame (in case it wasn't self-effident through my witty title...gotta love BusinessSchool). Mendoza, by the way, is the #1 ranked (undergraduate) business school in the country according to Bloomberg's BusinessWeek. And just walk through any one of the may halls here - there are constant reminders that us MBA'ers are total slackers (though if you leave out the whole undergraduate thing, it can sound pretty impressive)... but bragging about something I've had no part in building is not why this whole blog thing started. No, It started because I was in search of an outlet to write about the "Domer" experience and to document a short stint out here in the land of...well, what is this the land of, anyway? Underachieving and over-emphasized athletic programs??? Ok, you're right, a low blow from just a 2-week'er...In fact, the truth is that it doesn't take very long at all to realize just how special this place is and why it presents the opportunity of a lifetime. Looking forward to every moment...another 6-6 football season included.

So in case you didn't know, Indiana's state motto is "The Crossroads of America" (yea, there's a big sign that lets you know at the border) and I don't exactly know what they (the state's founding fathers, of course) were going for when it was coined but to me, it just sounds like some place in the middle of nowhere where nothing cool (or state motto deserving) ever happens...and I can confirm that it's definitely not a place with any beaches...So what's a guy supposed to do out here in the middle of the summer? Well, after taking part in a kickball tournament this weekend (no, that's not a typo. We really did play kickball...and I'm pretty terrible at it. SEE PICTURE for evidence), I would be lying through the keyboard if I said there wasn't the slightest moment of reget. I miss you already my friend, the Jersey Shore...though, thanks to MTV, you now mean something very different to everyone I meet...(deep sigh)'s a very sad reality that I have to introduce myself and my hometown with a disclosure that there's no affiliation with Mike "The Situation". F'in MTV producers - THANKS A LOT.

OK, first entry out of the way. Bottom line - this is a man-diary and I'll post if anything noteworthy happens. Be back soon enough....