This time of year….

This time of year is odd for me…

Today marks the 7th anniversary of my dad’s death. I still miss him every day. I talk to him all the time, sometimes in my head, sometimes out loud. Mostly if I’m trying to figure something out, or if something happens that he would’ve loved. Once in a while I’ll see someone on the street or in a store who reminds me of him and my breath catches for just a second – that usually takes the rest of the day to recover from. He was a a great guy, caring, smart, funny, imperfect like the rest of us, and I always knew I was loved. I wear the 25th Anniversary ring that he got from Ford Motor company, just to keep him close. (Well, he got a tie tack. Since my dad wore a tie about 3 times in his 68 years, he turned it into a ring when he got it!) Here’s what I wrote the day after he passed away, if you’d like to read more about Frank Caselli.

The other reason this time of year is weird is that 8 years ago today I was in the St. Joe’s Chelsea Hospital, after having collapsed at home, starting my long “meningitis adventure”. I remember very little of what happened, especially the beginning 6 weeks or so. The occasional flash of a hospital room or my wife or sister. I have clearer memories of the last few weeks, as I was waking from the coma and going in and out of consciousness. Some visitors, struggling to breathe, my parents being there non-stop. I remember a LOT of very vivid, long, coma dreams – what felt like other lifetimes and other realities. Here’s what I wrote about that experience, if you’d like to read more about that.

Also, my birthday is this coming Monday! It’s so close to these two things that have changed my life forever that it feels weird to be thankful and excited for my birthday, but I am. I know a lot of folks don’t like birthdays – “Another year older, ugh!” and all that, but I love it. Especially the last 8 years or so. “Another year older” isn’t “Ugh!” for me, it’s “I MADE IT!” – I got another year with my family, friends, enjoying the world around me. Especially with the pandemic and the world being what it is right now. This one will be 53! Who knows if I’ll make it to 68 like my dad – heck, who knows if I’ll make it to 54 – but I know I’m going to try and enjoy being here now, and celebrate the wonderfulness around me.

So, today, I encourage you all to celebrate. Celebrate your lives, celebrate the life of my dad, hug your loved ones and your friends – tell them how awesome they are, and put hang-out days on your calendar right now! This is the life we have – time is being spent right now. Enjoy it. Savor it all.

Quick update

This last month has been such a whirlwind! So many things to be grateful for, exciting challenges at work and at home.

After my birthday my sister-in-law Jackie, my brother Dominic and my daughter Maggie threw a surprise birthday party for Jeanne and me (my beautiful wife’s birthday is a few days after mine!) So many wonderful people came, it was enough to get me all choked up. Maggie played her “get them to the restaurant” role perfectly, too – I never saw it coming! Jeanne and I are so lucky to have so many wonderful people in our lives, it’s just such a blessing.

To Quiet The Quiet has been going well at the theatre. It’s a powerful, dark piece that makes people uncomfortable. I’m okay with that, sometimes that’s what theatre should do. The cast, director and production team really produced beautiful work and the way audiences are responding, it’s paid off. We close it tomorrow!

Speaking of the theatre, we are getting close to being able to announce next season, and I love it. More to come on that soon – but first we still have to get through more of THIS season! I love the season selection part of my job, and have been reading so many plays lately. There just isn’t a lot better than a curling up on the couch with couple cups of coffee and a good play in the morning, y’know?

Other positive things:

My daughter turned 21! I made her take a picture of the server carding her at HopCat. 🙂

In less than 60 days I will be in Germany visiting my son Max! He’s going to introduce me to his wonderful host family, who kindly offered to house me for my stay! I’m excited to have him show me around his part of Germany, and to meet his friends. Then we’re going to Italy for a couple of days to visit our former exchange student Tommaso, who is at university in Milan now. I’m really looking forward to this trip, and time with Max. I can’t speak of German, but I’ve been working on my Italian again. Il mio italiano non est buono, but I’m enjoying it!

Hug the people you love today, folks. I say that a lot, but with good reason. Take a minute from the craziness of life, and count a few blessings. Really: take a second and breathe, and think on a few things, and a few people, that are wonderful in your life. Then go and make sure the people you listed know they’re on your list.

The Big Five Oh!

I don’t know about you, but I’m now voting that the best way to finish up a birthday is to relax on the couch after everyone is asleep, with a drink, snuggled up in your Heat Miser/Snow Miser pajama pants, your Star Trek t-shirt, and a Superman wool cap. (What can I say, my family and friends KNOW ME!!)

What a day! Had first preview of To Quiet The Quiet by Christy Hall, which went wonderfully. Was surprised at the end of the preview talkback by cast, crew and staff presenting me with a birthday pie and the whole audience singing happy birthday to me! (Yes, birthday pie. Pie is better than cake – MY PEOPLE KNOW ME!)

Turned 50 today. What a great day! FIFTY! Amazing. 5 years ago today I was in a coma, and my family was going through hell, but being supported by so many wonderful people. I am SO grateful to be here for another birthday, and to be able to spend it with so many awesome people. Thank you to everyone who sent birthday wishes today!

So, I sit here, a bit after midnight, finishing my drink and the brownie that my daughter left me (with a candle in it and a match so I could blow out one last candle before bed,) just watching the snow fall out the front window. Peaceful, quiet. (The drive home wasn’t, but I made it!) Now I can hear the furnace humming in the basement, and occasionally a cough or a gentle snore can be heard from one of the bedrooms. FlipFlop, our schnoodle dog, just padded out and flopped down onto my feet. I re-read the wonderful birthday message my son sent me from Germany.

I don’t know what the future holds, or where we’ll all be in 5 years.

I know that 5 years ago was a nightmare.

I also know that this, though, this right now, is perfect.

Thanks, Universe.

One more trip around the sun!

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
William Shakespeare
birthday

44! I remember when I was very young, I figured out that when the year 2000 came (THE FUTURE!!), I’d be 31. At that point, I thought “Man, I’ll be so old!”
Now, of course, I’m looking forward to when we hit the year 2100!
At 131, I’m sure THE FUTURE will be even more awesome.

PS – My wife and kids put this picture, from Fringe, on our computer to surprise me for my birthday! Awesome. 😀

Birthday Beer: Bitter Tony’s Rye Bitter!

I’ve talked in the past about how awesome my friend Duncan Williams is – Duncan is the Brewmaster at Grizzly Peak Brewing Company in Ann Arbor.

Well, after I teased him about it, (as reported here), Duncan started brewing a beer named after me for the Winter season! The good news is, it’s back right now, on tap at Grizzly Peak. The whole family visited last night, for my “Birthday Eve” as Max kept calling it, and we had a great time. So – if you’re near Ann Arbor, get yourself to Grizzly Peak quick and drink it!!

The sign:

The beer

Me, enjoying my son AND the beer!

One More Time Around the Sun!

It’s my birthday!

With mirth and laughter let old wrinkles come.
-William Shakespeare, “Merchant of Venice”

As I write this, it’s just after midnight, so officially it’s the 24th, and I’m now officially 43! And I couldn’t be happier. 42 was great, 43 should be, as they all have been, the best one yet! 🙂

Today was a great “Birthday Eve”, as my son kept calling it – some work at the theatre, some quality family time, A NAP!!, and just wrapped up recording a podcast with a good friend. (More on that in a day or two!)

So – here’s to 43! Let’s do this!