Musings of an Irish-American

Sometimes I think about stuff, and then I write it here…

Monthly Archives: October 2009

things change

A little over a year ago, a blog was born…this one to be specific. It was in the midst of a Fall Break that involved next to no work (which, oddly, sounds exactly like this one). In a little over a year, this site has been visited 2477 times, which I find extremely humbling, given the fact that I don’t really think that reading about my fairly insignificant life warrants being read that many times (I am aware of the fact that this doesn’t necessarily mean that that many people have visited the site, but still, it has to be quite a handful).

A couple of things related to that first post: 1) I still have doubts about whether or not I want to start teaching the minute I leave DePauw, 2) still about 10 steps ahead of myself, 3) Fall still reminds me of smooth Jazz (which is why I spend a lot of time listening to it these days), 4) that whole “Boy Meets World” thing is probably still true- the other day, I watched the last ten minutes of the series finale and actually shed a few tears…again, 5) I still like “Somebody to Love” by Queen (and was extremely pleased to see it featured on Glee a couple of weeks ago) and “Africa” by Toto (which I expect to see on Glee soon :-D) ¬†and, finally, 6) I’m glad to see I haven’t “dropped” this, although I have not kept up with it to the extent that I wish I had…this hopefully will change.

But enough about the past. I spent two days this past week working with my dad, who is a stationary engineer at an office building in downtown Chicago. My first thought going into this endeavor was how awful it was going to be, only because my experience of working with my father had been horribly jaded by my working with him the summer after my Freshman year at DePauw. I wasn’t really mentally prepared for working with my dad, as he is a very particular person about what he wants, and knows exactly how he wants to go about it. Not knowing this going into my first opportunity to work with him, I don’t look upon it very favorably. However, I honestly can say that I did enjoy this experience in working with my dad, if only because I feel like I learned so much about him (and myself) over the course of those two days. I had already figured out that the personable, outgoing side of me was something I had picked up from him (not to say that my mother isn’t like that, but she’s certainly not as “in your face” as my dad is), but I also figured out that the analytical, problem solving part of my personality came from him, as I watched him figure out how to remove a defunct hot water heater from about twelve feet up using a pully system created from a piece of conduit pipe, electrical wire and a piece of metal that I attached to the hot water heater to create a pseudo-handle on the unit. My roommate and I made a joke a couple of weeks ago about how my dad was like MacGyver when he fixed the power in our room simply by pushing the circuit breaker further into the “on” position, but watching him rig this system (and it working with no problems) certainly made it seem less like a joke and more like an honest comparison.

Besides learning more about myself, I’ve spent the past week mainly not working on assignments due after Fall Break and doing other things such as: 1) watching the series finale of the former Disney Channel series “Phil of the Future” and being extremely disappointed (if Phil’s parents and sister all wanted to sabotage going back to the future, then why bother? No, instead, let’s have Phil and Keely say goodbye to each other and never see each other again…boo), 2) attempting to re-string my guitar (which I barely play as it is) and botching it to the point of breaking both the old string and the new one, 3) reading Dubliners by James Joyce, which I am enjoying thus far, 4) going to lunch with one of my good friends from home and pondering life’s difficulties.

Among these things, I also went to dinner with my retired church music director, who, I am happy to say, is enjoying retirement but, I am displeased to report, is very unhappy with the way the music ministry is going at our parish (you can’t be happy with something if you use the phrase “it’s breaking my heart” to describe it). It really hit me hard when she told me she was retiring over the summer, but now the fact that it’s a reality is something I’m having a hard time coming to grips with. Since I was a very young boy, she’s been the music director of our church. I can remember running up the steps of the organ loft (when the organ was still functional) as a young tyke and saying hello to her. When I decided to join the music ministry at the church as Freshman in high school, little did I know I was going to learn so much from this woman I had known basically all of my life. She’s always been a staunch supporter of everything I’ve done, and I’ve always enjoyed working with her and just talking with her. Although there’s great gap in our age, I’ve always felt like she’s seen me as a peer, which is probably why I’ve always enjoyed passing time with her. Now, I honestly don’t know how to feel, since I know she’s no longer contributing to the parish in the way I’ve always seen her doing so, and I don’t know how I’m going to react when I step into that church tomorrow morning and see someone who (to me) is a complete stranger doing what I’ve seen (and greatly admired) her do for so long.

But, as they say, life goes on, because we and our lives around us change. Charles DuBois once said, “The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” As much as change can suck, sometimes we have to embrace change wholeheartedly, or else we may never fully attain our potential.




In what is becoming a personally disappointing pattern, I have noticed that it has once again been almost a month since I last visited this place.

Could it be because I have been busy with a theatrical production? *shock, awe* Yes, very much so. This, along with the fact that this semester is successfully giving me the back of its hand in many ways, most of which involve driving around rural Indiana observing classrooms.

First things first, in these past six weeks I was involved in rehearsals (and performances) of DePauw Theatre’s production of Moliere’s Tartuffe. I had the joy of working with many familiar faces from DePauw Theatre’s Twelfth Night, with my good friend (and roommate) Jared Norman playing the titular role. I played Cleante, the show’s well-mannered, yet horribly verbose, level-headed voice of reason (who, in my honest opinion, bears a liking to William Daniels’ John Adams in the musical “1776”). With a lot of hard work, the whole production went off without a hitch, with four sold out nights of shows that ended last Sunday.

Monday was an odd experience, given that it marked the first time thus far this semester that I had a night with no rehearsal. I was also feeling pretty good physically, thinking I had avoided my traditional post-production physical meltdown that involves me getting horribly sick.

Then Tuesday came; started feeling feverish that afternoon and ended up cancelling for both voice studio and my night class and going to bed at 9 PM. I proceeded to wake up at 2 AM feeling as if my body was on fire…needless to say that Wednesday morning was no better. I arose at about 10:20 that morning still with said fever; unfortunately, things were not going to get better.

10:49 AM. Call from home. Mom informs me that my uncle Patrick O’Beirne, the husband of my dad’s sister Mary, had passed away the night before at their home in Athlone, Ireland.

All I can remember saying is “What?”

I have always fondly remembered the visits that my Uncle Patrick and Aunt Mary would make to the States from Ireland. Uncle Patrick was a well-read man, and well-spoken too (what Irishman isn’t?). I remember most recently a trip they made to Chicago this past summer. Uncle Patrick bought me a keychain from the Lincoln Museum in Springfield, IL; for some reason I thought it was particularly nice of him to think of me, since I couldn’t make the trip with my parents and them to Springfield. He had an affinity for golf, but was kind enough to always speak with you about almost anything. It was the kind of thing where you felt like what you said really mattered, because he was actually engaged and interested in what you were talking about. I’ve gone through the process of wondering why God would take such a loving and caring man away from his family, but have come to realize, through the wise words of a friend of mine, that if you dwell on questions like that, you’ll only hold on to bitter, negative feelings. My deepest and sincerest condolences go out to everyone affected by the passing of Patrick O’Beirne, father, husband, uncle and friend, among a host of many other things, I am sure.

What we have done for ourselves alone dies with us; what we have done for others and the world remains and is immortal.” –Albert Pike
I think there is much that my dear uncle Patrick has left that is immortal; Rest in Peace.