Tuesday, October 31, 2006

A Good Thing

Joshua and I do not own a television and, for now, we do not want one.

My parents keep offering to buy us one, but we keep insisting that they not do so.

The only thing we ever want to watch on television is college basketball and football, and we can do that over at my parents' house on Saturday afternoons. Otherwise, television is a distraction from other things that are much more important to us right now.

When my brothers and I were growing up, our parents would strictly limit the amount of television we were permitted to watch, and somehow I never got into it, and neither did my brothers.

On the whole, I think this was a good thing.


Joshua and I love to eat, and I love to cook, an activity I no doubt picked up from my mother.

Joshua never did much cooking before we met, but now he likes to cook with me. We talk and we laugh and we horse around as we prepare dinner every night, and we talk and we laugh and we horse around as we perform the after-meal cleanup. Our necessary time in the kitchen is fun.

We are both meat-and-potatoes guys, and we typically eat standard American fare. We know four different ways to prepare a pot roast, our favorite of which involves green onions, mushrooms and real cream. We know four different ways to prepare a baked, stuffed chicken and we know four different ways to prepare pork chops. Most of the recipes we use come from my Mom.

We eat steak, too, and we also like tuna steaks and salmon steaks. Once in a while we will bake a ham.

We love mashed potatoes, and we probably eat mashed potatoes four nights a week. We peel and boil our own potatoes, as nothing compares with the real thing.

We are big eaters of vegetables, and we even eat some of the less-common vegetables, like Brussel Sprouts and parsnips. We will eat three or four different vegetables every night.

One of the few non-American foods I can cook is authentic Viennese Wiener Schnitzel, from an old Viennese recipe. Josh likes it, and we always eat it with hot, sour Viennese potato salad.

Truly, however, my specialty is breakfast. I have been cooking breakfast for years and years, probably since I was about twelve years old. From that time forward, I would tell my mother, most nights, not to bother getting up early the next morning to prepare breakfast for my Dad and for my brothers, and that I would do it instead.

I can do any type of eggs to perfection, and I am a master of any type of morning potatoes. I can do any type of pancakes, and I can do waffles and French toast. Something I learned to do, from a French cookbook, was French-style French toast, made with French bread and served with a special caramel butter.

Because Josh and I both love breakfasts, and because we only have breakfast at home on weekend mornings, owing to my work schedule, we will sometimes have breakfast foods for dinner.

There are certain foods I have never been able to master. I can fry chicken in the oven, but I cannot fry chicken in a pan. For some reason, meatloaf is beyond me. There is nothing I can do with shrimp to make it work right.

I already know, pretty much, what I can do and what I cannot do, and I try not to experiment very much on poor Josh!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Upcoming Trip To Northern Germany

Our entire family is very excited about our upcoming trip to Northern Germany--even my oldest brother is excited, even though his work and his baby boy prevent him and his family from joining us.

My father has been to Hamburg before, but my mother and my middle brother and Josh and I have never visited Northern Germany. The closest we ever came was a train ride from Copenhagen to Cologne, on our first family vacation to Europe, many years ago, in the summer of 1991, when I was not quite eleven years old. However, on that Copenhagen-to-Cologne journey we never left the train, which traveled on a course West of the Hanseatic League cities on the Baltic Sea.

We have all been very busy, trying to decide how we will spend our time. We will use Hamburg as our base, and there are certain attractions in Hamburg itself that we have already decided to place on our itinerary.

At the top of our list is the Hamburg Kunsthalle, Germany's largest (but by no means finest) art museum. The Kunsthalle has a magnificent collection of Medieval ecclesiastical art from Northern Europe. It also holds a small but fine collection of paintings by Flemish and Dutch masters of the 17th Century. Of greatest interest to us, however, will be the museum's holdings of 19th and 20th Century German art, one of the finest collections of its type in the world. From early 19th-Century German Romantic painters to 20th-Century German Expressionists, the Kunsthalle is one of the great repositories of German art.

Caspar David Friedrich figures prominently in our decision to spend some serious time at the Kunsthalle. Not only does the Kunsthalle own the largest collection of Friedrich canvases in the world, but our visit will coincide with the most important Friedrich exhibition ever mounted, "Caspar David Friedrich: Inventing Romanticism", in which virtually all of Friedrich's major works, from all over the world, will be assembled, probably for the last time, in one place. In addition to Hamburg, there are three other cities with substantial holdings of Friedrich paintings (Berlin, Dresden, and Saint Petersburg) and those cities are all lending their Friedrich paintings to Hamburg. Even the handful of Friedrich paintings held outside Central Europe will be in the exhibition, including the Friedrich works owned by the Kimball in Fort Worth, the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York, and the National Gallery in Washington.

We will love visiting this exhibition, and we can hardly wait to see such seminal works as "Wanderer Above The Sea Of Fog" and "The Sea Of Ice". We shall probably have to visit the Kunsthalle several times, both to view the special exhibition and to view the permanent collection.

Hamburg has three other important art venues, two of which we plan to visit. One is the Bucerius Kunst Forum, which will be sponsoring a special exhibition about Cleopatra (the exhibition will include ancient statuary from Rome's many museums and paintings from several different collections) and the other is Hamburg's Arts And Crafts Museum, the German version of London's Victoria And Albert Museum. My mother will be in bliss, visiting all of these collections. She is a great lover of art, and a dedicated museum-goer.

There is one additional museum on our list: the Hamburg History Museum, a gigantic museum tracing the history of Hamburg and environs from the 8th Century until the present. Josh and my brother will love this museum, and my mother will love coming along, too, just to give everyone a break from all the art viewing.

We have already purchased, online, tickets for three different orchestral concerts to be held in Hamburg during our stay. The first is a concert by the NDR Orchestra Of Hamburg, to be conducted by Christoph Von Dohnanyi. The program will include Beethoven's "Eroica" Symphony. The second is a concert by the Paris-based Orchestre Des Champs Elysees, to be conducted by Philippe Herreweghe. The program will include Mendelssohn's "Scottish" Symphony and Schumann's "Rhenish" Symphony. The third is a concert by the Oslo Philharmonic, to be conducted by Jukka-Pekka Saraste. The program will include Mahler's Fifth Symphony.

I have never heard the NDR Orchestra of Hamburg, but I have heard the Orchestre Des Champs Elysees (in a concert in Edinburgh in 2002) and I have heard the Oslo Philharmonic (in a concert in Munich in 2003--and, again, in Mahler, playing the Ninth Symphony under Previn).

We will attend the Hamburg Staatsoper only once--my brother does not have a high tolerance for opera, nor, for that matter, does my father. To assure that we hear something my brother can sit through, we will attend a performance of "La Boheme". Hindemith's "Mathis Der Maler" and Wagner's "Parsifal" are also on the bill during our stay--as are "La Traviata" and Britten's "A Midsummer Night's Dream"--but I don't think that my brother would enjoy any of those offerings, so we will happily forego them on his behalf. Myself, I would love to hear the Hindemith, as I cherish the Kubelik recording, but I suspect that I am the only one in the family who truly wants to hear that work, and I don't wish to impose it upon others.

Hamburg is a city of historic churches, and Josh and I have researched Hamburg's churches thoroughly (and we have even prepared a booklet about the churches for us to take with us, detailing their histories, architecture and art, organs, prominent treasures, etc.). We will be visiting eleven churches in the city, including all five main historic churches in the very center of town. We will climb the church towers and explore the church crypts and view the church art and study the church architecture and listen to the famous church organs during the weekly recitals. It will be great fun.

The large churches maintain fully-professional choruses and orchestras, and we will be able to attend services and hear full-scale mass settings incorporated into the services. We will enjoy this very much, too.

Still in the planning stages are our decisions about which nearby towns to explore via daytrips. Lubeck is an obvious choice, but other candidates are Stade, Buxtehude, Luneberg, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Rostock and Kiel.

Two weeks will not be enough time!

Books And Discs

Joshua and I tend to read several books at a time, going back and forth between them. We like to choose a subject matter we want to learn more about, select between three and six books on that topic, and then begin reading. We just completed an extensive reading program on Russian history, which lasted us most of the summer, and now we are working on a hodgepodge of books, on no particular theme. We selected these books merely because we thought they would be of interest to us.

The Baltic: A History Of The Region And Its People by Alan Palmer

The Somme: Heroism and Horror In The First World War by Martin Gilbert

1945: The War That Never Ended by Gregor Dallas

June 1941: Hitler And Stalin by John Lukacs

The War Of The World: Twentieth Century Conflict And The Descent Of The West by Niall Ferguson

Rome's Greatest Defeat: Massacre In The Teutonburg Forest by Adrian Murdoch

Three of the books address facets of the two world wars, a subject both of us seem never to tire exploring. We are reading the Baltic book because we will be visiting the Hanseatic League cities of Northern Germany for two weeks over Thanksgiving (my father must travel to Hamburg on business, and he has asked my mother, my middle brother, and Josh and me to join him for the trip). We like to read Niall Ferguson because he is generally provocative. The last book on the list is sort of a wild card.

My Mom and Dad are also reading the Baltic book, and my father is also reading the Niall Ferguson book and the book about The Battle Of The Somme (he has already read the two books about World War II).

Josh and I also like to keep six different compact discs on our CD player for a week at a time. We select six discs of music from different eras, thereby providing us with a varied listening program for the week.

This week we selected:

Bach's Brandenburg Concertos Nos. 1, 3 and 5, performed by the Akademie Fur Alte Musik, Berlin, on the Deutsche Harmonia Mundi label

Mozart's Symphonies Nos. 38 and 39, performed by the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Rafael Kubelik, on the Sony label

Schubert Songs, performed by Janet Baker and Geoffrey Parsons, on the EMI label

Mussorgsky's Pictures At An Exhibition and Ravel's Valses Nobles Et Sentimentales performed by Ivo Pogorelich on the Deutsche Grammophon label

Nielsen's Symphonies Nos. 4 and 5, performed by the San Francisco Symphony under Herbert Blomstedt, on the Decca label

Czech A Capella Choral Music by Dvorak, Janacek and Eben, performed by the Prague Chamber Choir under Josef Pancik, on the ECM label

We are enjoying all of this week's discs except for the Bach, which we find difficult to enjoy because of severe lapses in intonation. The first time we put the disc on, we thought the disc had a manufacturing defect!

On the Czech a capella disc, the Janacek composition, "Our Father", is indescribably beautiful and moving, and new to both Josh and me. We played it for my parents, and they asked to hear it over and over again.

My parents know Janet Baker, and I met her once when I was eight or nine years old. She came to our house several times, including before I was born and when I was a baby, and she always told my parents that Minneapolis was her very favorite American venue. Being such a gracious guest, she may have said the very same thing to every American host, but she placed Minneapolis on her recital schedule for almost all of her American tours, and that probably signifies something about the sincerity of her remarks. My father says that a 1973 Janet Baker song recital was the finest song recital he ever heard, and he still remembers every composition she performed that night.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Enough Time To Be Alone Together

Now that Josh and I are settled into our own home, and working, our life seems to have become much richer and much less stressful. Our academic period is concluded (at least for now), the bar exam is over, the move back to the Midwest is behind us, living in temporary quarters is over, and we now have a routine that, while not perfect, pretty much accommodates us.

We are now alone together much of the time--for the first time since we met. While we were still in school, and while we were staying in my parents' home this past summer, we could not be alone together as much as we wanted or needed. Now, for the very first time, we have enough time to be alone together.

Monday through Friday, I rise at 5:00 a.m. and get cleaned up and leave the apartment at 5:45 a.m. I have to walk fifteen minutes to a bus stop to catch a bus that takes me to downtown Minneapolis. When the bus reaches my downtown stop, I walk to my office, generally arriving right at 7:00 a.m.

On Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, I work until 6:00 p.m., and take a bus back home after work. I generally walk in the door of our apartment a few minutes after 7:00 p.m.

On Mondays and Wednesdays, I work until 5:15 p.m., at which time I take the elevator downstairs and catch a ride home with my Dad, who picks me up in front of my building and drives me back to Edina. We generally get back shortly after 6:00 p.m.

On weekdays, Josh generally sleeps until 8:00 or 9:00 a.m., because he does not need to be at work until 12:00 Noon. He works from 12:00 Noon until 6:00 p.m., Monday through Friday, at a bookstore in an adjacent suburb. Josh drives my car to work, and it takes him about 35 minutes to make the trip, so he leaves home at 11:15 a.m. each weekday, and he gets back home at 6:35 p.m. each weeknight.

Josh and I always stay home alone on Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights. This time alone is sacred for us.

On Monday evenings, we have my parents over for dinner. We do this for two reasons: to give my mother at least one night a week in which she does not have to prepare dinner; and to allow my parents to get accustomed to and to become comfortable in our apartment. My Dad and I get there first, just after 6:00 p.m., and my Mom drives over sometime between 6:00 and 6:30 p.m., and Josh gets home at 6:35 p.m. Josh and I prepare a nice dinner for my parents, and we spend the rest of the evening visiting with them. Generally, we just talk and play canasta until 10:00 p.m. or so.

On Wednesday evenings, Josh and I have dinner at my parents' house. Once again, my Dad and I get there just after 6:00 p.m., and Josh arrives at 6:35 p.m. My mother always has an excellent dinner prepared for us. After dinner, we generally just sit in the kitchen and talk and watch television.

One weekend a month, my parents go to New York to see their new grandson, and on that weekend Josh and I keep the family dog, Rex, an enormous German Shepherd who looks frighteningly mean but in fact is as sweet as pie. We take Rex on errands with us, as we visit grocery stores and drug stores and Home Depots and such, and we take him to the park and we run with him and we play outdoor games with him. Rex is happy as long as he is participating in whatever we are doing. He seems to like our apartment, and he particularly enjoys sitting on our sofa, since my mother does not permit him to do that at home. Rex also enjoys a good meal thirty or forty times a day, so Josh and I cook things for him that he likes. One of his favorite foods is a cooked ham bone with lots of meat on it. When we give him one of those, he is occupied--quiet and content--for two hours. At night, he sleeps with us in our bed, and we like it, despite the fact that he spends much of the night sleeping on top of us or between us.

On other weekends, when my parents are in town, Josh and I generally go over to my parents' house on Saturday mornings and we spend the entire day and evening there. We help my Dad by doing the yardwork and taking care of the cars, and then we help my Mom in any way we can, whether it be cleaning and waxing the kitchen floor, polishing furniture, fighting tile grout, or washing windows or washing clothes or washing dishes or washing Rex. We enjoy this family time together very much, because we get to keep an eye on the football games and we get to eat good food and we get to chat with my Mom and Dad, and all of us seem to have an absolutely wonderful, relaxing time. By late Saturday afternoon, the work winds down and we all have a nice, quiet dinner and after dinner we watch a movie or play cards or just sit and talk. Josh and I generally stay until 11:00 p.m. or so, before we finally head home.

On Sunday mornings, Josh and I meet my parents at church, and we sit with them during service. On alternating Sundays, we part from my parents after church, and they spend the rest of the day with my mother's relatives, and Josh and I spend the rest of the day together, alone. On the other Sundays, Josh and I spend Sunday with my parents, too, and we generally eat lunch out and then do something special, whether it be attending a museum exhibition, a concert, a film or a theater performance. Afterward, we go back to my parents' house for a light supper, and then Josh and I go home.

This schedule suits us, and it suits us well. It gives us plenty of time to be together, alone, and it gives us plenty of family time, both of which are essential to us.

The Next Niall Ferguson

Joshua's father is a trial attorney and his mother is an accountant. Joshua has a younger sister and a younger brother, both of whom are still in high school. Joshua's younger brother is very athletic, and he is on the high school football and basketball teams. I have met Joshua's family, as his entire family traveled from Oklahoma to Washington to attend his graduation and mine.

Joshua's father was married once before, and Joshua has one half-sister and two half-brothers, all of whom live in Florida. I have never met Joshua's half-siblings.

Two years ago, Joshua and his two half-brothers received small legacies, and they used the money to travel to Turkey for two months. They visited not only the obvious attractions in the Western half of the country but the seldom-visited Eastern half of Turkey, too. They had an extraordinary journey, and I have read Joshua's Turkey journal and viewed his photographs many times. Alas, Joshua has not seen his half-brothers since that wonderful Turkey trip.

One of Joshua's half-brothers is a restaurant manager and the other is a gemologist. Joshua's half-sister is a dance instructor.

Joshua's undergraduate major was history. He chose American University because its history department has a renowned history faculty. Joshua is interested primarily in European history, from the Middle Ages to the present. Josh has an especial fascination with the history and politics of Britain, France and Germany.

Josh has highly-developed writing skills, and he hopes to become an historian. His writing is evocative and stirring, and he can assemble facts and analyses into a compelling narrative. Perhaps he will be the next Niall Ferguson. I suspect that something like that is his destiny.

Great Company

My middle brother will be 29 years old in January.

He is 6'2", and he has blonde hair and blue eyes, too. He drives girls crazy, as he is exceedingly handsome.

He was always interested in science, and he attended the engineering school at Iowa State University in Ames, only four hours South of the Twin Cities. Consequently, he is a Cyclones fan, the only Cyclones fan in the family.

After graduating from Iowa State, he went to Colorado to get an advanced engineering degree, and he remained in Colorado after completing his studies, accepting a job with an engineering firm in Denver.

My middle brother has taken up skiing, the only one of us with any skill on the slopes. He loves to ski, and I fear that his love for skiing may be keeping him in Denver. I want him to move back to Minneapolis, and so do my parents, and we are working on him. He comes home for a few days every couple of months, but that is not enough for us--we wish that we could see him all the time.

He has an incredibly sweet disposition, which he gets from my mother, and he is more of a listener than a talker, but he is great company.

When I was in law school, he and I would spend an hour, late at night, every night, instant messaging each other. After I met Joshua, our nightly IM conversations started to drop off, and my brother sensed, correctly, that I had met someone--and he alerted the rest of the family. My brother even figured out who I had met, and he told my father that it had to be the son of my father's law school classmate--the very guy that my father had insisted, as a courtesy to him, that I call.

My brother is a very smart guy!

Manly, Graceful And Beautiful

My oldest brother will be 32 years old in December.

He is the tall one--he is 6'3", manly and graceful and beautiful--and he has the blonde hair and blue eyes that run in the family.

He has always been a math whiz since he was a boy. He went to M.I.T. for his undergraduate degree and afterward he went to Stanford for his MBA. Since graduating from Stanford, he has worked on Wall Street.

For two years he worked in London, sent there by his firm, and it was in London that he met his English wife. They met at a party, and my sister-in-law says that one look at "that big lug" was all she needed to know--she knew that she had found the guy she wanted to marry. And marry they did, and soon they moved back to New York.

My sister-in-law is a psychiatrist, but she has never practiced, as she got married and moved to New York as soon as she had completed her studies.

My brother is very serious about his work, but he is also very serious about his family--both his own family in New York and his family members in the Twin Cities and Denver. We all talk on the phone and email and instant message each other constantly, and that makes having one brother a thousand miles to the East and the other brother a thousand miles to the West somewhat more bearable.

My older brother loves to swim, and play basketball and handball and racquetball. He also loves to golf, a sport I despise. No matter the sport or the game, he plays to win. His competitive streak is always on display, whatever the activity.

When I was in law school in Washington, I would go to New York once a month to visit my brother and his family. I miss those visits now.

Friday, October 27, 2006

A Loving And Nurturing Angel

My mother is a saint. If we were Catholic, she would be well on her way to beatification by now.

My mother was born and raised here in the Twin Cities. The only time she lived elsewhere was when she was in college, when she lived in Northfield, a small town not far South of the Twin Cities. Northfield has two renowned small colleges, Saint Olaf and Carleton. My mother attended and graduated from Carleton.

My mother studied literature and French in college, and she has great artistic instincts. She appreciates and understands art and literature and music at the very highest and deepest levels.

Although she could have done anything with her life that she wanted, my mother wanted nothing more than to have and care for a family. She came from a large and prominent family herself, in which she was the youngest child, and all she ever wanted was to have her own family to love and nurture. She got her wish.

I have often asked my mother whether she regrets not having a daughter, or whether she regrets not having more children. Whenever I ask her this, she always throws her head back and laughs riotously, telling me that caring for three rambunctious sons and a husband, and keeping us going, was more than enough for her to handle.

My Mom has never worked outside the home, although she has always been extremely active in our church and in various philanthropic endeavors.

My mother adores my father, and she has always treated him like a prince (and he has always treated her like the precious gem she is). My parents are a genuine love match, and it is clear to everyone--strangers, acquaintances and intimates--that they were made for each other. They are inseparable--they go everywhere together, side by side--and their strengths and differences complement each other.

My father is highly analytical, while my mother has infallible (and even spooky) instincts. She always knows, with the slightest glance, what every other member of the family is thinking and feeling. She always knows exactly the right thing to say or do to make people feel comfortable, happy and content. This is a very special gift she has, and has always had, since she was a child.

My mother loves to cook, and she takes great joy in cooking for my father and for her three sons (as well as for her new, fourth son, Joshua). She can cook anything and everything, to perfection, as guests to our home quickly find out. No dinner invitation in Edina is more coveted than one to my mother's table.

In the last year, my mother has been granted two new and great gifts: my friend, Joshua, and her first grandchild, a baby boy born in October 2005, the son of my oldest brother and his wife. My mother and father travel to New York about once a month to see their new grandchild and to visit with my brother and my sister-in-law and to help out around the house. Babies create lots of work! My father jokes that my mother, after all these years of living in the Twin Cities, now wants to move to New York!

My father and my brothers and I are very fortunate to have such a loving and nurturing angel selflessly looking out for us at all times.

Pretty Dazzling

I love my Dad. He is the world's greatest guy.

He is brilliant--literally; he is a genuine intellectual--and he is kind and good and generous and sincere and noble and gracious and patient and loving. When God made my Dad, God threw away the mold. There is no man on earth more worthy of love and respect than my father.

My father grew up on a farm in Iowa, near Pella, a town settled by Dutch immigrants, which is why I have a Dutch last name. Pella is a beautiful town, one of the most beautiful small towns in America, and is widely known for Pella windows.

My father obtained a scholarship to Yale, and after completing his B.A. he enrolled in law school. He chose the University Of Chicago Law School because the University Of Chicago was such an intellectual hothouse at the time (it was the 1960's) and the entire campus was bursting with brilliant professors and brilliant scholars and brilliant students. Has America ever enjoyed such a remarkable assemblage of talent in one place at one time?

After law school, my father moved to Minneapolis, where he has lived and worked ever since. He is now General Counsel for a large corporation headquartered here.

When my brothers and I were young, my father would rise at 3:00 or 4:00 a.m. and go to work. He would do this so that he could leave work at a reasonable hour and spend his late afternoons and evenings with his three sons. He never missed any of our games or school activities or church events. He was always there for us when we returned home from school, and he would spend all of his time with us, playing ball with us and having us work with him in the yard and monitoring our homework while we all sat around the large kitchen table. Happily, now that we three boys are all grown up, my father can work more-or-less normal hours.

My father is great reader, and he owns practically every history book and history journal and essay collection and biography of note published since 1970. Our family home is a virtual library, with books filling the library and the den and the upstairs study and the living room and the family room and the hallways and all of the bedrooms, even the guest bedrooms. Luckily, my parents bought a very large house when my oldest brother was a baby.

My father is also a great lover of classical music (as is my mother--in fact, they met at a concert of the Minnesota Orchestra). My parents constantly attend orchestral concerts and chamber music concerts, and my father has a near-comprehensive collection of LP's and compact discs, representing practically the entire repertory from Bach to Stockhausen.

My father has been and is friends with many, many great musicians, some of whom now have passed. Many of these musicians have been dinner or overnight guests in our home, and I sometimes regret that I was too young to appreciate my contacts with great persons now gone.

My father loves to watch college basketball and college football, and he has still not decided--even after all these years as a Minnesotan--whether the Iowa Hawkeyes or the Minnesota Golden Gophers are his favorite team.

My father has been a perfect parent to his three sons--and I am sure that all three of us boys absolutely drove him nuts while we were growing up--and he has been a perfect husband to my mother. His love for all of us is unconditional and unlimited.

My father is a big, strapping guy. At 6'1", I am the shorty in the family, because my father is 6'2" and my older brothers are 6'3" and 6'2". My Dad is also a very, very handsome guy. My Mom says that she fell in love with him, just looking at him across the lobby of the old hall where the Minnesota Orchestra used to hold its concerts before the current concert hall was built. I can fully understand how she felt; my Dad is pretty dazzling.

I love to talk to my Dad. I like to talk to him about everything: politics, religion, sports, art, music, literature, philosophy. I can talk to my Dad for hours and hours and hours until we both lose track of the time, and my mother has to intervene, and tell us it is time for dinner or time for bedtime or time for something else.

My brothers and I are the three luckiest guys on the face of the earth, having been blessed with such a wonderful father.


I detest the word "jock", so I will only say that both Joshua and I are very athletic and enjoy sports very much.

Joshua was a basketball star in high school. He was the shooting guard for his team, and he gained a starting spot halfway through his Freshman year and he kept it until he graduated. When he was a Junior and Senior, his team was expected by many to win the state championship, but that was not to happen. Josh also ran cross-country in high school when he was a Freshman and Sophomore, but he gave it up because it was "too boring", running for miles and miles and miles, mindlessly.

My prep school did not offer much in the way of organized, competitive team sports. We did have a swim team--and a very good one--but I, unlike my two older brothers, did not join (which disappointed my parents immensely). As I told my Dad at the time, I thought that the coach was "too weird".

Tennis was always my sports passion. I was always on the tennis team, and I am still rated 5.0 and I still play whenever possible.

Josh and I play basketball constantly, and we also play handball and racquetball and swim.

We love to watch college football and college basketball, and we obviously are big fans of the Big Ten and Big Twelve conferences. Neither of us have any interest in professional sports at all.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Above A Garage, On A Property

Our apartment is located above a garage on a property two miles from my parents' home. The house and property are owned and occupied by one of my former teachers at the boys' school I attended. After leaving for college, I always kept in touch with her and saw her at church during school breaks. When she heard that Joshua and I were looking for an apartment near my parents and near church, she suggested that we look at the apartment above her garage.

The apartment is only one large room, with a kitchen in an alcove and with an enclosed bath. It is very light and pleasant, because there are windows on three sides.

For two weeks before we moved in, Joshua and I sanded the floors and applied a new coating of floor varnish, after which we painted the apartment, top to bottom, in a shade of white. My Dad helped us when he could, and my Mom kept bringing food over for all of us to eat while we worked.

Our furniture all comes from my parents' basement. We have a bed, of course, and a sofa and two armchairs, and a small antique dining table for meal times, and two bookcases. Finally, we have a piece of furniture specifically built to house our sound system, as we enjoy high-quality audio reproduction when we listen to music.

The apartment is cheerful, and large enough for Josh and me, and we like it (although we would not want to spend the next thirty years living here). It really only seems too small when we invite my parents over for dinner, which we do every Monday night. What with a dining table in one corner, the bed in another, and the sofa-armchairs-bookcases-audio furniture occupying the other half of the room, there is not a lot of extra room when we have guests over.

Still, we are very happy here.

Directness And Lack Of Affectation

Our final term in school was hectic.

I lived with roommates near Capitol Hill, and Josh lived with roommates near American University. It seemed that we were always on our way across town, back and forth, to see each other.

It was not easy, finding time to be alone, because of our living situations. I suspect that my roommates got sick of seeing Josh all the time, and I suspect that Josh's roommates got sick of seeing me all the time. However, the roommates seemed to take everything in stride and with good humor, and I will always respect and appreciate them for that--and especially since all of our roommates were straight!

Neither one of us particularly cared for Washington (in fact, Josh HATED Washington), and neither of us regretted leaving Washington after our graduations and returning to the Midwest. We both embrace Midwest values and we both are happiest living among Midwesterners, with their directness and lack of affectation.

To me, Minneapolis has always been home, and I believe that Josh will find himself very happy here--but, if not, we will have to go somewhere else. If I did not think that Josh would be happy here, we would never have returned to the Twin Cities.

More Than They Bargained For

The funny thing about Joshua and me is that we met each other because of our fathers.

Both of our fathers are attorneys, and they were classmates at the University Of Chicago many years ago. Because Joshua and I were attending school in the same city (Washington, D.C.), our fathers encouraged (i.e., pressured) us to meet.

We agreed to meet each other just to get our respective Dads off our backs, and we met at a Starbucks in Georgetown one Friday afternoon, after class, in February 2006. We immediately took a liking to each other, and we quickly became inseparable.

I think our Dads got more than they bargained for!

Embarking On A Life Together

Andrew--6'1", 180, blonde hair, blue eyes, born 11-22-1980 (Saint Cecilia's Day), Dutch and Norwegian descent

Joshua--6'0", 185, brown hair, brown eyes, born 11-19-1983, German and English descent

We swim and we play basketball, racquetball, handball and tennis. We read history and philosophy and art criticism, constantly and assiduously. We love classical music--Bach, Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, Mendelssohn, Schumann, Brahms, Bruckner, Mahler, R. Strauss, Schoenberg, Hindemith--and we love movies and we love the theater (and we wish that there were theater in the U.S. worth attending).

We both work now, and we are finding that working full-time certainly takes a substantial chunk of time out of the day!

I just passed the bar and have started work full-time at a big law firm in downtown Minneapolis. Joshua is working part-time in a bookstore.

We have a small apartment, only two miles from my parents' home. It is not luxurious, but we are happy. When we want luxury, we go over to my parents' house!

We are excited to be embarking on a life together.