True, the appearance of The Wilson Chronicles has been a tad inconsistent these last few years. That might in part be because the fortunes of the aforementioned family being chronicled have been a bit inconsistent as well.
Nobody seems to know if it actually exists, but supposedly a Chinese curse roughly translates to, “May you live in interesting times.” We have lived in interesting times. But they probably aren’t of great interest to readers of The Wilson Chronicles, all four of you (yes, our numbers have doubled in 10 years!).
Rather than bore you with meandering generalities of how things sucked in general, we’ll just bore you with excruciating details. Just kidding, some of it’s actually a little interesting.
We’ll start out near the beginning of 2011, because it’s a convenient format when I have nothing else to start with, then we’ll meander around a bit, jump ahead, jump back and end up at the end at some point. And realize, of course, that I have no way of knowing if you read one word of this, so feel free to skip over parts or, you know, click “delete.”
So, away we go.
There be snow. I am working mostly free-lance work (read: broke) for Patch.com, a hyperlocal news website (founded and run by AOL) that focuses on community news. I’m covering Cuyahoga Falls, Stow and Fairlawn-Bath Township. Patch does a lot of social media promotion, which is generally a good thing.
In other news, the Arab Spring gets an early start, making the biggest splash in Egypt. Adios, Hosni!
There’s that Super Bowl thingy, and by strange coincidence, Matt has a little snowboarding incident that day. Which will happen when, on your third day of snowboarding, you take a flying jump 15 feet (at least) into the air off a quarter-pipe ramp at a high speed. Yeah, he stuck the landing — nearly straight on his head. The diagnosis nearly scared the crap out of us: compression fractures in his lower spine. Luckily he was wearing a helmet (later in the year, Uncle John took a nasty spill that, without a helmet, would probably have been fatal). Matt was kept in a body splint for about two months. Miraculously, he healed quickly and to see him now you’d never know he had such a serious, potentially crippling injury. Really dodged a bullet with that one! And, get this, he wants to go snowboarding again this winter. They just don’t never learn, do they?
Meanwhile, I was covering the Al Sharpton Show for Patch.com, which always draws a crowd and gaggles of media types (insert eye-roll here). Well, Al Sharpton has toned down his rhetoric a lot from, say, 25 years ago, but he still grabs the spotlight, this time regarding a single mom who “smuggled” her kids into a neighboring school district to get them in better schools. Big hubbub. If you really want to know more, follow the Patch.com link. Frankly, I thought it was overblown.
Mom (Grammy) is preparing to move out of the house before it becomes more than she can take care of. Had a garage sale. Everything must go! Moving to a sensible independent living retirement apartment. All the amenities, none of the hassles. And the house sold quickly despite the crappy real estate market. It was well-kept, in a great neighborhood and in a desirable location.
In Arab Spring news, it was Moammar Gadhafi (one of a dozen spelling varieties) who got into the spotlight, and we know how that turned out for him a few months later. 2011 became The Year of Dead (or at least severely limited) Dictator.
Three words: Kate and William. So enthralled was I that I conducted an utterly unscientific poll. So. Did you watch the royal wedding? Did you attend in person? Did you record it for future viewing? Did you get a look at Pippa? Yowza!
There was a storm. For your entertainment, I’ve provided a link to a local weather clown getting blown around in a storm. OK, here’s the actual video on Youtube:
There was Easter.
Somewhere along the way in the last year or so, DeAnne has been taking classes with an eye toward something in health care – probably either in nursing or physical therapy. She’s been getting A’s and B’s in some really tough classes, including anatomy & physiology, chemistry, phlebotomy and more. A reorganization at Macy’s required all employees to work Saturdays, which conflicted with a big class she was taking.
Guess which priority won out? Yup, it’s Macy’s loss, although I wasn’t thrilled about the loss of income. The timing could have been better. There have been times lately when it’s felt like I’m living with a college roommate again (although I never had female roommates, as far as my parents knew!) .
May was The Month of Getting Things Done, Whether We Wanted to Or Not. There was the Pelee working vacation, which was a planned and welcomed diversion putting some finishing touches at Eric and Yvonne’s Pelee Palace, which I jokingly refer to as the Pelee Shrimp Shack.
Then there was the plumbing disaster that immediately followed at my house, which most certainly was neither planned nor welcome. At all.
Meanwhile, word that The Rapture would soon be upon us had certain media types (ahem) scurrying about searching for anyone to say anything about The Rapture that was sure to come. Of course, your intrepid Patch correspondent comes through just in time for the, um, Rapture to, um, pass without anything really happening.
There are some more storms, actually several storms, including tornadoes. Very stormy. Stormy times. Patch is there to report.
May and June were busy months for me – I had plenty of Patch writing and editing, and we staged our reconstituted Floodwater 40 bike ride, moving it (at least temporarily) from Memorial Day weekend to June.
Derek, Eric and Yvonne and our youngest Floodwater 40 participant, Natalie, joined the Towpath festivities this year. It was a hot day, which took its toll, especially on Eric, who was towing Natalie most of the way. I had been hitting the bike trails pretty regularly that spring and summer, so I managed to complete the ride with only one minor near-death experience.
Matt turned 16. Sixteen! And now he drives a car! With real wheels! We took Matt and a couple of buddies to see the Akron Aeros AA baseball team play ball (they lost – boo!) and caught some fireworks. Not too shabby.
Matt is now interviewing for jobs to help fund a car, which he’ll probably need to get to work, which he’ll need to pay for the car, which (you get the drift here, right?) …
It took a while, but we finally got the whole Siegle crew together to give John W. Siegle, aka Pops, aka Grampy, my second dad, a proper burial at sea. Because he was in the Navy (he enlisted at 17 to go see the world; in its infinite wisdom the Navy parked him behind a typewriter), he was eligible to have his ashes scattered at sea, and I guess Lake Erie qualifies as sea for these purposes. The Coast Guard provided transportation out of Cleveland.
July was also a drought month, in terms of gigs. Not much happening. Which led to August and my brief career as Pizza Man. But first …
On Sunday, Aug. 8, I got a call from one of my Patch colleagues around noon. Shots fired in Fairlawn, maybe injuries or fatalities. I hopped in my car with camera and note pad. After following a false lead, I came across a local cop directing traffic around a blockade. I asked him how bad it was. “It’s bad,” was all he would say. As the day unfolded, the awful truth came out: Eight dead, including the “alleged” gunman, who was shot by police but not before he killed seven people; two of the victims were students at Copley High School, another was an 11-year-old boy, hunted by the killer, cornered in a neighbor’s basement, and shot point blank. It was my first mass-murder news coverage as a reporter/photographer, and I think I can safely say it will be my last.
And then I added pizza delivery to my already-impressive resume. Mild-mannered reporter by day, fierce deliverer of pizza by night! It was a brief career, happily. I’ve had my share of crap jobs, and this one is right up there. Or down there. You get my drift. But sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. This was one of those times.
And in September I added a third gig, ghost writing as a Harvard professor and business guru for a boutique digital PR firm in North Carolina, thanks to an old connection from my Myrtle Beach days. That was an interesting and challenging assignment, and one that served me well.
Matt began his sophomore year at Firestone High School. This year he started on the JV soccer team as a defender. By the time school started, he showed no symptoms from the back injury. Amazing. He’ll have to work with some off-season teams if he wants to play varsity next year. Guess what Matt is doing this winter?
Lindsey, our little baby, is in seventh grade. She is clearly a tween on the verge of becoming a full-blown teenager. God help us all. She is still dancing at the Dance Institute at the University of Akron and she has graduated on to the pointy-toed shoes. And she is a Red Cross certified baby sitter. Need a night off from the kids? Look us up.
Both are getting good grades and seem to really like their schools and what they’re doing, and they have terrific friends. Matt seems to absorb information and concepts pretty readily, except when it comes to foreign language. Spanish really kicked his butt last year. We have moved on. Lindsey is a really diligent student and it has paid off with a couple of consecutive 4.0 GPAs. Jeez, I don’t think I ever nailed down a 4.0 for even one quarter!
October got really busy, as I took the reins as interim local editor for the Cuyahoga Falls Patch – a full-time job – while still trying to juggle the other two jobs. There were some 20-hour days in that stretch. But it sure beats the alternative that was July, when nothing was happening. The folks at Patch were working furiously to get higher-ups to approve appointing me there permanently, but you know how slowly these things move sometimes.
It was about this time that an opportunity popped up at Tremco, where I happen to know someone …
November was largely a repeat of October, except it got darker earlier, which made for some interesting pizza deliveries. People, when you want a pizza delivery and it’s dark out, turn on your lights outside!
And, fellas with big beer guts, please have a shirt on when you take pizza delivery. This is a public service announcement on behalf of pizza delivery people everywhere.
And Thanksgiving at Uncle John’s (or brother John’s) beautiful new house:
New month, new career trajectory. I started my marketing and communication gig at Tremco in Beachwood. The commute is much more manageable than I originally anticipated. Half-hour in light traffic. Great company, great people, great opportunities. And, hopefully a year from now and for many years to come, I’ll have more good news on that end.
The past five years have been pretty bumpy, and I know we’re not alone in those struggles. We’ve been blessed with a lot of support from family and friends. I am grateful. Hopefully, we’ll soon be in a position to give help and hope to others more.
Just last week I joined some of my new co-workers in helping distribute Salvation Army (new!) coats and Christmas toys for folks in need at the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University. One young woman wearing scrubs in line said next year she planned to be a volunteer with us. She was nearly finished with school and would be an RN next year and, in theory, no longer living in poverty.
Many of the hundreds (probably thousands) who came through had been there before. But quite a few obviously had not. They were the ones who looked embarrassed. But they were grateful. Everyone was grateful and well-behaved (except for one pushy dude). And it occurred to me that I was not far from being among them, standing in line, humiliated, waiting for a handout.
I came away with something else from that experience too. From that day forward, I don’t walk past a Salvation Army ringer without dropping a buck or two in the red bucket. It’s an organization worth supporting.
I think it put me in the Christmas spirit a bit.
And on that note, may you have a Merry Christmas and a happy, prosperous New Year. We deserve it, and so do you!