Hobbits, the Beach, the Eclipse, Fifty Year Anniversary and Move-In Day

I usually like to write about learning new things, becoming more wealthy, work-related items and changing our way of middle class thinking.

However, I had such an interesting stretch of eight days that I just had to share.  I do not think that anyone else in the entire world did the same things that I did over the eight days from Saturday, August 19th, through Sunday, August 27th.

Besides mowing my lawn, which literally millions of other middle aged Middle Class Guys like me did on Saturday the 19th, only a few dozen guys like me attended the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s rendition of Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers movie score while the movie showed at the Ravinia Festival that evening.  I attended with my son, who knows the Lord of the Rings books and movies nearly word-by-word.

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Ravinia is more of an upper class hangout, considering that you pay around $25 per ticket to sit on the lawn and listen to orchestras or chamber music.  They do have some popular artists come through there, but we missed them all this year despite wanting to see the Gypsy Kings and Santana.

My son and I had a great time.

The next day, I took my daughter and her BFF to the beach in Evanston.  We had to shell out $24 for the privilege, or $8 per person, but it was worth it.  Unfortunately, it was the only day so far this year that we have gone to the beach.  Every year, I say that we need to go more, yet we have only made it a sad one time per year in each of the last four or five years.  I have never adopted it as an official Resolution, but in 2018 I resolve to take her at least three times if not more.  It really is a fun and rejuvenating way to spend a few hours on a nice day.

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We met with my mother and had a pretty good dinner at Noodles & Company afterwards.

The following day, I experienced something that I never have before.  I had been somewhat upset last Monday that my family would not be together to view the solar eclipse.  My daughter would be in the middle of her school day at high school and my wife began her lunch supervisor duties that day at right about that time.  My son was home and probably just waking up.

I walked one mile to the library in the town where I work and where I am writing this on my lunch break.  I was going there to donate a book and thin my hoard of them by one.  Lo and behold, right around 1:00 p.m,, I saw someone handing out the solar shades to view the eclipse.  Although I am not a resident of the town, I am at the library about a hundred times per year and they know me well.  I asked for a pair, and they handed me one of the last ones that they had.

I viewed the eclipse about ten times, including stopping to look at it about five times while I was walking the mile back to my office.  I called a few colleagues, including my young new boss, and shared my glasses so that others could view that amazing eclipse for themselves.

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The rest of the week, I am not going to detail besides the fact that the main way that I have been coping with the stress and anxiety associated with my new work situation is by handing myself over to the department every day, coming in with a strong work ethic, and doing whatever it is that they ask or order me to do with a smile on my face.  I would like to write that I am fighting the system some but, truth be told, so long as my work product is known to my bosses and they are happy with my response and my attitude, my transition has become less stressful with every week that goes by.

Friday night was my daughter’s first high school football game as both a member of the varsity poms squad and a member of the marching band.  She sure drew a lot of attention running from the poms team following their halftime routine to fetching her trombone and marching with the band.

My wife and I had already attended every game for the four years when our son was one of the leaders of the marching band, and it felt pretty good to be back.  It helped that my wife selected and saved a seat for me in a section of respectable adults.  We did not hear any cursing throughout the entire game, and barely even any yelling.  We heard our fair share of both during our son’s years, as parents urged their sons to kill somebody and the F-bombs flew every time a call went against our school or their little Johnny.

This past Saturday morning, I had to put on my best suit and drive my beater car nearly thirty miles by 9:00 a.m. to attend a fifty-year anniversary lunch at the synagogue where family friends of ours have been members for about forty years.

Like going to Ravinia, the beach, viewing a solar eclipse and watching your daughter do both poms and marching band, this added to my unique string of days, never having been at a fifty-year anniversary party before.

My parents would have celebrated their golden anniversary this past spring had my father not passed away from cancer.

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I endured three long hours of prayer service which in my book was about twice as long as it should have been.  However, I did come across some prayers that I enjoyed, one of which is the inspiration for my next post, my prayer for you to have a blessed September.

Following the three hours of prayer in Hebrew (trust me, it was painful) we enjoyed one of the most lavish Jewish-style meals that I have had.  I loaded two plates worth of lox, bagels, tuna salad, gefilte fish, salad and many trimmings.  I tried herring and still hate it, like when I was a kid.

My first plate of food included many Jewish favorites.

The best part of it was celebrating the impressive golden anniversary for my first friend’s parents, and seeing that first friend and his wife and three children.  Unlike me, he is not a Middle Class Guy, having pursued electronic engineering as far as the field goes, which has led him to become an executive with an aerospace company based out of the Boston area.

I did not ask how much he makes, but I know that they have a great spread in an upper middle class suburb of Boston, they travel several weeks per year including abroad to Europe, and they generally live the kind of enviable lifestyle that I can only aspire to.  Being an engineering executive for an aerospace company must be nice.

Sadly for me, yesterday was move-in day for our son’s college.  I know that it should not be sad that he is going back, but we sure did love having him around for the summer.  He did not have the best summer, but it improved dramatically throughout August as he began cooking some of the best dinners that I have ever had several nights per week.

My son’s dormitory at a private liberal arts college.

If you knew about our son’s college, you would assume that there is a moderate level of prestige involved.  It enjoys a strong reputation in the area and would cost nearly $50,000 per year including room and board without any scholarships.

However, his dorm room looks worse than some jail cells that I have seen and more resembles what Soviet-era public housing must have looked like.  Comprised of cinder block construction and, like last year, in the basement of a nearly one-hundred-year-old building, the view from his window is a retaining wall about two feet outside the window.  Vile and degrading rap music was blaring out of several rooms in his hallway while we moved him in yesterday morning.

On the plus side, his roommate seems nice and, if you went to   college or know somebody who did, nearly everyone ends up with roommate horror stories.  I have several of my own.  My wife and I are hoping that he gets along well with his roomie, as I know that our son is.

On another plus side, it sure will make his bedroom at home look spacious and comfortable, considering that it is about the same size as the room that he now shares with someone that he met yesterday morning.  Also, the mattress that the college provides is perhaps six or eight inches thick at the most.  Cadets in basic training have more comfortable beds than my son does in his dorm that costs me about $1,000 per month for him to stay in.

Today, my nose is back to the grindstone.  After all, even though the preceding is all indicative of middle classiness, paying for concerts, college, beach attendance, handing my daughter twenties over the weekend, shopping for more dorm supplies and even shopping yesterday at Whole Foods is costing this Middle Class Guy plenty.

Today is a day to make some money and to put in a long work week so that I can collect my pay this Friday and on many alternate Fridays for years to come.

My forty-five minutes of writing during my lunch hour is up, so back for three more hours of trying to improve this town’s economy.


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