Our Personal Therapist

May 23, 2013

So, I wrote a blog about my father.

And I wrote a blog about my sister.

And as I near the end of my High School career…I can’t help but notice there was one person I left out: My mother.

I think the reason I put this off so long is because it’s hard to describe the relationship between a mother and her kids. It’s easy to look at Dad and recognize him as a role model. He’s hilarious, he’s happy, and he seems to have it all together. It’s easy to look at Molly and know that she’s one of my best friends on this planet. And she always will be. But it’s hard to look at Mom and sum her up in one, quick swoop. I don’t say that to belittle the relationships that I’ve built with my other family members…but I’d be surprised if anyone could accurately describe the intricacies of motherhood.

Because mothers are so much to children. Life-givers. Care-takers. Wound-healers. The list goes on. Most apparent, however, is a mother’s ability to understand human nature. It just so happens that my mother also majored in psychology. So…I mean…that was kind of nice for Molly and I. She was like Our Personal Therapist. The public school system can get a little sticky at times, it’s nice to have someone to talk to. And Mom is always understanding. Sure, she could apply a little tough-love sometimes, but it never took long for us to realize that she was right. She was always right.

You know the funny thing? And I know, I just know I got this from my Dad: Sometimes, it would take me forever to realize I had an issue only Mom could solve. (Stupid pride.) I would be faced with a moral dilemma and it would worry me for days before there would just be some night that I’d look at her and think: You Idiot. There’s the solution right there.

And, without fail, the solution was right there.

She’s brilliant. She’s the taker of blurry photographs. She’s funny. She’s the inventor of the middle-aged-woman-friendly dance move: “The Margie” (which mostly just involves snapping your fingers to either side of your head.) She’s got great stories. She understands people better than I ever will. And she was always this constant support in my Life that I know I would be nowhere without.

As I go off to the college where she got her doctorate, I want to raise a glass to her and say: This one’s for you.

This one’s for the Track meets. The PAC shows. The Cross Country races. The Homecomings. The Destination Imaginations. The banquets. The books. The Proms. Everything. This one’s for you.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

Our Personal Therapist

A Sister Like Molly

February 27, 2013

A Sister Like Molly

Last night, my family and I went to a production of Hair at Miller Auditorium.

The treacherous, snowy roads did little to dampen our spirits as we made for a little restaurant called the Roadhouse, just five minutes from the theatre. After a quick dinner, we hurried off to see the show.

The show itself was great. I enjoyed the music and I thought the singing was really good  The play was interactive and the audience was responsive, which is always fun. The story followed that of a free-spirited tribe and their struggle with one of their numbers being drafted into the army.

The highlight of the night, however, was during the curtain call. The cast members took their bow and then started to pull audience members on stage to dance with them. Molly and I laughed as we saw Mom get pulled up. A few seconds later, another actress reached out to us across a few rows of chairs.

“Oh, boy,” Molly chuckled.

I turned to Molly and grinned. As a thespian to an artist, as a brother to a sister, I said:

“C’mon. We’re goin’ up there,” I grabbed her hand and pulled her down the aisle until we reached the stairs to the stage.

We trotted up the steps and took our place amongst the dozens of other people dancing.

“I hate you,” Molly laughed.

It was amazing. The phrase: “Too much fun” comes to mind. I felt so unbelievably unabashed, even though I’m sure my dancing was terrible enough to make the shows choreographer cry. Lights were flashing, music was playing, and a huge crowd was cheering loudly for us.

It was in that instant that I realized how lucky I am to have A Sister Like Molly.

Molly and I were like every other brother-sister pairing when we were younger. We despised each other. She still occasionally brings up the fact that I used to be a little bit of a biter. But it wasn’t too long before that attitude disappeared. In recent years, I’d say Molly is one of my closest friends. That doesn’t mean, however, that she’s not afraid to chase me around the house, pin me down, and Charley-Horse my leg whenever I tease her.

But I owe Molly some thanks for a lot more than the countless bruises she put on my leg. When I was entering High School as a Freshman, I was pretty clueless about a lot of things. It was thanks to Molly that I didn’t completely embarrass myself on multiple occasions. (For example: When I asked a girl to Homecoming.) To any parents out there with younger children, your second child’s best chance at having a successful High School career is their older sibling. The first child’s just gonna have to tough it out on their own.

Luckily, Molly is plenty tough enough to handle anything Life throws her way.

Molly is a kind, caring, funny, relatable sibling. She makes me look at countless classic siblings and smile…because I know what it feels like to have a friend like that.

I know how Ron feels about Ginny.

I know how Jem feels about Scout.

I know how Orville feels about Wilbur.

I somewhat have a slight idea about Kim’s feelings towards Kourtney.

So, while I suppose I’ve always known that I was fortunate to have A Sister Like Molly…it sometimes takes dancing on stage together in a touring Broadway show to fully realize it.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

A Very Idiotic Christmas

December 23, 2012

A Very Idiotic Christmas

It’s hard to find someone who can genuinely say that there is nothing about the Holiday Season that they enjoy. There’s such a multitude of joyous events that I think it’s nearly impossible to be a Scrooge…or a Grinch…or whatever. Holidays in the Wiegand household are always happy. And I can think of quite a few reasons why that’s true for me…

Christmas Music

There isn’t much that my family does over the holiday season that doesn’t involve Christmas music in the background. My personal favorite Christmas album is Michael Bublé’s. The man has the voice of an angel. I would totally say his rendition of All I Want For Christmas Is You beats Mariah Carey’s any day of the week. And that little girl’s version from Love Actually is in a close third. I have this friend named Grace who thinks the little girl beats ’em all, but I don’t think I could ever agree with that. Anyway, I believe it’s next to impossible to overplay Christmas music because you only get to listen to it for, like, one month every year. So sing on, Mr. Bublé.

The Gingerbread House Building Competition

This’ll be happening in just a few minutes! I’m trying to get this post up before Molly gets home because when she does get here, we’ll probably start working on our masterpieces. (And then Molly and I are probably going to play Jak and Daxter until the wee hours of the morning…Ah, Christmas.) Each year, my family participates in a Gingerbread House Building Competition where we work to see who can build the best Gingerbread House. (Pretty self-explanatory.) We cover the table with graham crackers, frosting, candy, paper plates, knives, icing, and some scrap pieces of cardboard (To give our walls support (But sometimes Mom makes this big deal about how the Gingerbread Houses have to be entirely edible.)) In the end, mine is generally pretty pathetic. Molly’s is consistently near perfection thanks to her artistic touch. Mom’s is oddly…homey…like, it always has this maternal vibe to it. And Dad’s is always really bizarre. I think he feels like he spends his whole Life designing realistic buildings as a career, and this competition is the one time he can design something totally absurd and really unrealistic just for fun. So he goes ahead and does it. Usually resulting in a lot of laughter from the rest of us.

The Family Gathering

Every year, on Christmas Day, my Mom’s side of the family gathers in a single house. It’s pretty packed, to say the least. And there are traditions to uphold. A huge dinner. A White-Elephant style gift exchange. Songs from Uncle Ed and my cousin, Matt. And it’s always a blast. It’s always one of the big highlights of my Christmas Season. One memory that I recall fondly was when my cousins used to quiz me on the names of our relatives because I had some difficulty remembering them all…

The Frozen Lake

I live across from this lake and it usually freezes in the Winter. I don’t know what’s up this year but we’ve barely seen a lick of snow. And, unfortunately, the lake hasn’t frozen. In past years, though, Dad will shovel off a little ice rink in lake for people to skate on. Sometimes, he even makes these little paths that lead further out into the lake. I’ve always thought that walking on a frozen lake was a really cool thing. It’s so open and bright. The snow reflects the sun in every direction, it’s like the ground is covered with trillions of tiny mirrors.

Waking Up On the 25th

I’m 17. In a few short months, I will legally be considered an adult…But I still get giddy the night before Christmas. Waking up on the 25th of December is exciting. I’m excited to see the look on Molly’s face when she sees what I got her. (And I’m worried about what look I’ll see on my parents face when they see what I got them…They’re so hard to shop for.) And I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a little bit excited about whatever was under that tree with my name on it. Of course, we get it drilled in our head that: “Christmas is about giving, not getting.” And that’s totally true. And I think it’s important to be grateful for what we do receive. And I think it’s important to be grateful for what we can give…But that doesn’t mean it’s not nice to receive gifts…Just as long as we all keep our heads on straight.

The Season

In the end, it’s all about “that time of year.” It’s all about the Holiday Season. It’s all about the fact that this is the time of year that we unanimously give each other an excuse to drop everything and remember that we’re surrounded by people we love. Friends. Family. I’d be willing to give it all up…the music, the competition, the lake, the morning of Christmas…as long as I still had my two weeks off of School and as long as I still had my two weeks spent entirely with people that I cared about and people that cared about me.

So, to all of you out there reading this…

Happy Holidays from an Idiot.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Prince of Kalamazoo

September 29, 2012

Undoubtedly, one of the most prominent relationships in any boys Life is between him and his Father.

Thankfully, I feel that I’ve grown up with a very, very successful Father-Son relationship. My Dad has taught me about selflessness, hard work (even if I don’t always exhibit it), and about the value of getting an education.

My Dad is the greatest.

And…

My Dad is the King of Kalamazoo.

About 30 years ago, Kalamazoo was dead. The city was barren because it was deemed unsafe by most in the surrounding area. Businesses failed faster than they could start. Hardly anyone lived within the city limits. WMU students made sure to stay on campus and avoided the city like the plague. And my Dad was on a committee that was determined to change that…

Kalamazoo needed a jump start. It needed Life to be breathed into it. It needed to be invigorated. It needed…college students. And the committee knew how to reach them.

See, there’s this thing called “Bronco Bash.” Bronco Bash used to be a party held on campus at the start of the Fall Semester each year.

Not anymore. Now, because of the committee my Dad was on, Bronco Bash extends into the downtown area.

This change may seem small, but it had a huge impact. Thousands of college students were given vouchers for sales in the downtown area and let loose into the city. The streets of Kalamazoo were swamped with college kids having a blast at Bronco Bash. Games were played. Vats of Jell-O were slid into. Sales were made. Scavenger hunts were hosted. And business in Kalamazoo was skyrocketing. All of a sudden, WMU students were comfortable with maneuvering in the downtown area and spent their free time throughout the year providing business to shops downtown. And, as if that wasn’t enough, WMU students started to enjoy Kalamazoo so much that they would make it their permanent home after graduating. Kalamazoo was thriving.

 

And that’s how Kalamazoo got it’s jump start. That’s how Kalamazoo became the Kalamazoo it is today.

This worked out unbelievably well for my Dad, an architect and builder. (The founder of SouthWest Builders.) Suddenly, there were businesses coming into Kalamazoo, all trying to get a bite of the college student apple…and they all wanted fresh, renovated spaces to work in. My Dad was happy to supply this demand. And not only that, the flood of WMU students who stayed in Kalamazoo after graduation all needed places to live. And my Dad had a knack for building condominiums. The condos in his buildings would be bought out before he even finished the project.

In total, my Dad has renovated about 12 buildings downtown.

From the Arcadia to the Style Shop to the spaces above Cafe Casa to the South St. Coffee Shop to the Kinko’s on campus to the Park Club to the Keystone Bank building to Trough and Denning, my Dad has affected them all. My personal favorite, however, and the one I never forget to mention, is the Olde Peninsula Brew Pub. I love the Olde Peninsula. And I love going there with my Dad even more.

The story of the Olde Peninsula is an impressive one. Dad renovated the space for the owners, Steve and Marie, and it was costly. The couple sank everything they had into creating the Olde Peninsula. Dad finished the project and watched in awe as every Saturday night, the street would be lined with people waiting to get a seat in the Brew Pub. Within a year, Steve and Marie had paid off all of their debt. The Olde Peninsula, to this day, is a smashing success. It’s still packed every weekend with tons of Kalamazoo citizens brought in by the effect of the committee, my Dad, and the Bronco Bash.

And so, I think of my Dad as the King of Kalamazoo.

It’s actually a challenge to walk the streets of Kalamazoo with him because he’s frequently stopped by seemingly random people who know his name and he knows theirs. They always take a moment to catch up before we walk on. And after each of these moments, I can’t help but look at my Dad in this new light. Like he’s the King of Kalamazoo.

And I suppose that kinda makes me the Prince of Kalamazoo.

That’s why I look up to my Dad. That’s why he’s a great Father. He’s changed lives. He’s made his mark on this city. He’s been imprinted upon the very buildings of Kalamazoo. He breathed Life into an entire city. He met the demand required of all these new citizens and gave hundreds of people the homes they live in today. He made a difference in the world. This humble man from a small town where he was constantly told he would never amount to anything…he changed an entire city.

He changed an entire city.

“I had fun. I had a blast doing it. It was a lot of hard work. But it was always fun.”

So, I idolize him. My Dad. My Father. The King of Kalamazoo.

Is this a post written in arrogance? Of course not. Do I really think I’m a Prince? Not even a little bit.

Do I think my Dad is a King?

100% yes.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)

The Birthday Pee

August 26, 2012

So, yesterday was my nephew’s Birthday.

My nephew, of course, does not come from my 20 year old Sister, Molly. But instead comes from my 35 year old brother, Andre. Andre is married to an awesome sister-in-law, Joy. Together, they have two sons: Lance and Austin. My nephews. I am Uncle Brian. Which is kind of cool.

So, yesterday was Lance’s Birthday.

He was turning three, he was definitely old enough to realize it was his Birthday and to understand what that meant. You can imagine his excitement. Presents. Cake. Everyone being there just for him. I think the most common phrase uttered from his mouth was probably: “Can I open presents now?” I’m certainly not trying to imply that Lance is spoiled, he’s not. He’s just very excitable.

Anyway, the party was great. It was held at our house and we just had a couple family members and friends over to celebrate. The guacamole was good (which is saying a lot, coming from me). Dinner was brilliant. The pool was a nice temperature for the guests to swim. And the day was bright and sunny. A perfect 3rd Birthday party.

Much to Lance’s great appreciation, it was eventually time to open gifts. He opened a few bags and packages, finding clothes, a few Cars toys, books, and a couple water guns. A good haul. After presents, Molly started cutting up the amazing cake she’d cooked earlier that day. (Molly is amazing at making deserts. Maybe I think that because it’s what I grew up with, but I love any cake, brownie, cupcake, batch of puppy chow, pudding, cookie, sweet bread, or Jell-O that Molly makes. I think they’re the best.)

There we were, just a handful of us, sitting at the dinner table. A few people were still mingling outside, including some of Lance’s friends who’d come to the party. At one point, my Mom and I just happened to look up and out the window to see one of the toddlers trotting out onto the front lawn. We watched as the boy dropped his swimming trunks and started to pee…in complete view of everyone at the party and anyone driving down by the road. At first, it really wasn’t a big deal. I mean, he was just a little kid. But then everyone’s jaw dropped. This toddler’s stream, I kid you not, shot forward at least a good five feet. His stream was longer than he was tall. I just about peed myself, from laughing so hard. I’m serious, that kid watered our lawn so well, I don’t think we need to turn our sprinklers on for a while. For a second, I considered that maybe he had our garden hose in his hand? Or maybe one of Lance’s squirt guns? There was no way that such a small body could be peeing that far. But it was. When the kid finished, he bent down and pulled up his trunks and went on to keep playing.

Later, it was explained to us that the boy lived out in the countryside, peeing outside was pretty routine for him. Not that it really mattered. I mean, it made for a funny story, didn’t it? Oh well.

And so the party, pee included, was a success. It was great to see Lance so happy. He’ll only turn 3 once, right?

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)