I’ve been playing massive amounts of catch-up this week, but it was all worth it because I got to spend the a long weekend in Denver this past weekend! My best friend Patrick graduated from engineering school and was chosen Outstanding Fall Student (valedictorian).
As we’ve been friends since high school, I’ve been around for a bit, and the guy definitely deserved the honor. He spent enough time studying, testing and interning to put about five engineering students through school. I can’t fathom that level of dedication and commitment. Every week I thought I put in a ton of hours going through grad school was easily trumped with a passing Facebook conversation on his way to the library or his internship.
Patrick is that friend that makes you wonder sometimes why they’d want to be friends with you. I’m not getting down on myself, but guy practically sparkles. I’m so lucky he’s still willing to slum it with me, and few people know me better than he does.
At least I can say I got him into CrossFit. He and his wife Jen have been going several months now and are loving it. I got to visit their box while I was there and it was so cool to see their progress and complete a WOD with them the first night I was there.
Lunges (each leg)
Burgener Warm-up – focusing on bar form
EMOM (Every Minute On The Minute): 8 minutes (at 85 lbs)
1 Power Clean
1 Hang Clean
20 KB snatch (10 each arm at 20 lbs)
10 lateral bar-facing burpees
10 jumping lunges (35# bar on shoulders)
I picked up a sweet shirt to show my friends back home. I only wish I could have taken their pull-up rig with me as well, it was AWESOME. After WOD, Patrick made an awesome dinner of two flavors of pork loin and the best honey bourbon sweet potatoes I’ve ever had. Did I mention Patrick is an amazing cook? We also cleaned out two bottles of wine and spent the night trying to form coherent conversation. It ended up being a lot of mumbling, giggling and saying “you know?”
Saturday morning we had a HUGE breakfast at Hotcakes downtown. I had an omelette, hash browns and some pancakes as a special treat and guzzled 3 cups of coffee.
We then went and got our nails done. Patrick was hilarious. He was just getting a pedicure, but his feet are so ticklish that he was almost convulsing in the chair.
Saturday night was Patrick’s graduation party. He picked his favorite (and mine) restaurant, Cafe Brazil, and we were spoiled all night with the most amazing food and drink. I had a Dark ‘n’ Stormy, made with Black Seal rum and ginger beer and a Caipirinha, which is made with cachaça, sugar, key lime and crushed ice. The Caipirinha was by far the best drink I’ve ever had. It’s somewhat like a margarita, but is made like a mojito. It’s super fresh and light, and not overly sweet, which I love.
We managed to make it up and out of the house the next morning for his graduation. We had reserved seating in the first row, which was great because it was a HUGE ceremony. We were there for close to 3 hours, just for the graduation!
Patrick gave an amazing speech, by far the best of the evening. He was so comfortable in front of all those people, and they just kept cheering for him. I think everyone found his story so relatable.
After graduation, we all walked down the road to Rialto Cafe for dinner. We were completely starved. I ordered a Milk Stout from Left Hand Brewing Company while waiting for my food. So good! For dinner, I opted for a BLT, which for whatever reason came with a big slab of mozzarella in each half. Not complaining though, it was super fresh and the pile of fries practically put me in a food coma alone.
Downtown Denver was absolutely gorgeous that night. Knowing we almost moved there, and would still in a heartbeat made the walk back to the car somewhat bittersweet. It’s sometimes hard to reconcile where you want to be vs. where you’re needed.
After dinner, we rushed home so Patrick and Jen could pack for their red-eye flight to Costa Rica. It was so funny. I took them to the airport, then stayed at their house for another night. It was sooo weird coming back to his house without him.
I managed to entertain myself a little though. Cutest kettlebell ever!
Now I’m home and it feels like the entire trip was a dream.
I didn’t want to close this post without acknowledging the events in Newtown. I don’t have anything profound to add to what has already been said, but I worried mine and Neil’s silence would be confused for apathy, so I wanted to explain our feelings and maybe some perspective given where I was this weekend.
Everything was unfolding as I got off the plane in Denver Friday. It nearly created a standstill, and there were people crying and burying their faces in their hands, nearly two dozen at each of the TV’s I passed in the concourse. For as much as I hear we are desensitized to violence and tragedy, it was anything but business as usual in the one place that has suffered so similarly this year.
During Patrick’s graduation, a posthumous honorary degree was presented to a student who was killed in the Aurora Theater shooting last July. Her parents accepted it for her, and in their speech they spoke candidly about their daughter’s life before her murder and the impact her desire to help others will now have with a scholarship created with thousands of donated dollars, and a yearly charity event that will collect sports equipment for needy children. There were no news cameras, and I got the sense from just about every face in the room that they weren’t wanted anywhere.
I can’t say I blame them. The media response to events like this is tragically routine. All someone not directly involved (99% of us) needed to know was easily obtained in a breaking news alert. The rest was almost a second tragedy that unfolded in slow motion over the weekend and now continues a full week later. Non-stop coverage.
Neil and I have avoided the news altogether. We don’t know any of the details and I don’t believe we really need to. Not when the continuous broadcasting cycle fills air time with gruesome details and interviews with anyone they can chase down and harass into speaking with them. Affected communities have repeatedly and publicly asked for privacy and for the media to not sensationalize details or victims, yet as long as the public demands it, as they do, they deliver — creating another infamous place known for one thing to everyone on the outside, a scar that will never heal.
What I don’t think people realize is that in an age of social media, we too are broadcasters. I read a post by Andy Crouch this week that asserts that, just like TV or Radio, silence doesn’t seem to be an option in social media. Silence is interpreted as mutely absent rather than silently present, leaving little difference between us in our choices to speak (or type) and the choices cable news makes in what to air.
I’m not unaware or unwilling to address the seriousness of the problem we have in America regarding gun violence and a host of other related issues we can’t seem to address preemptively without being pegged as socialists, but I believe that is a dialogue that needs to happen outside the immediate aftermath of tragedy, not in it.
Like I said, I didn’t have anything truly prophetic to say, but I know I’m not alone in thinking that sometimes the best form of comfort is a silent presence.