Introspection, Reconciliation & Patience: 2020 In Review

I, like many others, had quite the plans for 2020:

  • Easter in Vegas, with Hollyville on stage at the fashion show for what could be the world’s largest rockabilly event, Viva Las Vegas
  • The fourth-annual A Retro Affair in April as well
  • New York in May for Pam & my fifth wedding anniversary
  • Possibly my first visit to Texas in the fall for my niece’s wedding
  • Los Angeles in December to see Marquette/UCLA

That’s not even including my personal goals of getting in better shape and taking better care of myself, or any potential leaps in terms of sports work.

Also like many others, though, my 2020 plans changed significantly when COVID-19 caused a worldwide pandemic that has now taken over 1.8 million lives worldwide. Among them was my Uncle Bill’s wife, Marjorie, and a friend’s father. Bill, now an older gentleman but long one of the most athletic members of the Pfeifer family, is still recovering from a bout with the virus himself that has had him in the hospital for an extended period.

None of the above travel happened. The anniversary was celebrated with “the best of Milwaukee takeout.” The wedding and UCLA game went on, but we stayed away from both in an effort to do what seemed best for greater society: Reducing trips, thereby reducing risk of spreading the virus.

Needless to say, this year has been unlike anything I think anyone expected.

Meanwhile, a plague, with symptoms ranging between feeling no different than normal to long-term breathing issues and death, is not something we’ve ever dealt with in modern times, especially when you consider it’s spread by simply breathing. My mom likes to make comparisons to polio; I don’t think this is nearly the same. The Spanish flu is probably a better reference.

I didn’t take it seriously before things started shutting down. In a February message to my OptiShot golf buddies, I said, “The Coronavirus will not stop [us from golfing]. Nor will the Spanish flu, Bubonic Plague, HIV or disco fever.” At that time, I figured first-world countries would be spared in the end, as it had been with most other major health concerns in my lifetime.

Nope.

My eyes were opened wide the moment the NBA started cancelling games. As someone intimately involved with sports at a variety of levels, I knew that didn’t occur for mere precaution. There’s entirely too much money at stake, for too many people, for that to happen at sport’s highest levels unless concerns are gravely serious. For basically every sports league worldwide to then take similar action was all I needed to know.

Furthermore, it was a jolt to read about the superspreader event that was the Atalanta/Valencia Champions League match in Italy. Sports and entertaining large crowds are a big part of my life. And yet, it became clear early in the pandemic, sports crowds were probably the worst possible thing for spreading the disease. I’m not easily shocked, but I was with how sports led the world in making it clear how serious COVID-19 truly was.

Before Times

The last event I worked under what I would consider normal circumstances was a Marquette men’s & women’s lacrosse doubleheader on Saturday, March 7; the men dropped an 11–10 decision to Robert Morris before the women fell to Ohio State, 16–14.

Before that, 2020 had been an eventful year for me sports-wise. On February 28, I got the nod to do stats assistance for ESPN’s broadcast of Bucks/Thunder with Ryan Ruocco and Doris Burke on the call. It was the first time I ever got to be intimately involved with a national network TV broadcast and the experience was worthwhile. Weeks later, though, Burke would be one of the first notable sports names to test positive.

I got to put on the referee stripes and be the official scorer for a couple Marquette Women’s Basketball games after working my first in the role in 2019, even getting to sit next to my right-hand man, Paul Junio, who ran the scoreboard for one.

On a smaller scale, I got back into recreational participatory sports, bowling in a work league and buying my own ball.

But the biggest thing sports-wise for me that happened in “before-times” was something that set a theme for 2020: Reconciling a piece of my past.

For the unaware, I am a University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee alum. Setting aside the little bit of PA work I did as a student at Brookfield Central, my first true experiences in big-time game ops came at UWM, notably as the PA announcer for their soccer and baseball teams from 2001–04. However, as I neared the completion of my degree in 2005, things went sideways between me and UWM athletics. I wasn’t happy with them and they weren’t happy with me. We did not part on good terms. My loyalties went wholly to Marquette as soon as I finished my UWM studies.

UWM, Milwaukee Panther Athletics and I have had a lot of changes since 2005. At UWM, few who were around 15 years ago are still there. In recent years, Panther SID Chris Zills had complimented my work and said he’d be open to having me help with UWM games again sometime. It took until 2020, but on January 18, I was given the call to do my first Horizon League game in any capacity since 2005, my first game in the venerable UW-Milwaukee Panther Arena, and just my second-ever Division I men’s basketball game (a UWM/Wright State game in 2003), when the Panther men took on the Oakland Golden Grizzlies.

I couldn’t avoid the callbacks to the past. One of Oakland’s assistant coaches was Tony Jones, an assistant under Bruce Pearl at UWM and someone who made a point to playfully mock my announcing style whenever he saw me around the athletic offices in the early 2000s. Jones and I shared a hearty handshake and conversation before the game. I wore my old UWM letterman-style jacket to the arena. The marketing staffer managing game ops production was actually working on a promotion celebrating the 15th anniversary of UWM’s 2005 Sweet 16 team.

But not everything was a callback to a different decade. The on-floor host was one who had worked with the Lakeshore Chinooks. Shea Hansen and Adam Schemm, both involved with the Panthers’ marketing efforts at the time, had also been graduate assistants in Marquette’s athletic marketing team and worked closely with me on Marquette Soccer years prior. They had grown. I had grown.

So much has changed with the Panthers that it very much didn’t feel the same as the early 2000s, much less the games I went to as the child of UWM alums as far back as 1993. In some ways, it’s more modern. In others, UWM has taken some steps back from its early 2000s successes. I still have some people I have trouble forgiving, but they’re not a part of Panther Athletics anymore.

For me, returning to work a UWM game was a big step toward healing a sizable, black-and-gold tinged wound I’ve had for a long time. It reminded me I have done the right things, haven’t given up on honing my skills, and maybe, yes, I was more in the right back then than I was made to feel.

I feel like I can support the Panthers again, even if Marquette is still my “main sports squeeze,” as it were. It was looking like I might get the chance to work some games with UWM Baseball in the spring, were it not for the pandemic. I’m hopeful my name will still come up in conversations when sports get back to normal in 2021.

Quarantine

Healing old feelings was a big part of 2020, but moreso after quarantine began.

Less than a week after those lacrosse games in March, I found myself lugging my work laptop, desk dock and monitors to a folding table setup in my living room that has been my work-from-home setup ever since. A 2021 project is to get some home office space in a spare bedroom, as it was made clear to us near the end of 2020 that working outside the office is going to become a new norm for my day job at Marquette.

The first 36 hours or so when things started shutting down, I was panicky. The reliable elements of life — the whirr of however many NBA, MLB, college hoops and soccer matches going on in the background nightly, grocery stores fully stocked, etc. — seemed to be getting upended.

Thinking it was plausible we could end up with massive societal shortages as supply chains broke down, I began the exercise of doing a daily Facebook log of everything going on. Thinking people might be bored, I even engaged in creating trivia questions about things I had the chance to do in my life.

Looking back, logging early quarantine is perhaps my biggest regret of 2020. It was a self-indulgent exercise that seemed to cause more consternation for me than anything, as I laid bare my opinions, feelings and daily activities (the annual end-of-year note, however, is a tradition, and once a year is more tolerable than once a day). It was, to an extent, the opposite of the best of 2020 for me. While I won’t out-and-out delete my old logs, I’m not really excited to look back at them. It feels like a failed exercise.

When I say those logs were the worst of 2020 for me, I point to how this year forced a level of introspection that I think I handled in a far better way than many others. The logs, in a way, were introspective, but they were making the introspection external, which is kind of oxymoronic.

My big takeaway from quarantine — and ultimately 2020 on the whole — is I used it as a chance to make my life better.

While I was dealing with the shock of the world shutting down, I was at least able to tell myself how best to handle it: “Have calm and class. You will see this as an opportunity to improve, as it will allow you to narrow your focus and do the things you don’t normally have time to do. Use this as a chance to become a better person, while staying safe in the process as well.”

That mantra, if you will, has never left my mind since the pandemic started. I’ve liked having that feeling of knowing life is less crazy, I can do things in ways more comfortable for me and, rather than bemoaning the negatives or things lost, I can instead look at the positives and ways in which things are actually better in quarantine.

There are a few caveats to this:

  • Quarantine was wholly different for people my age who have kids versus those who don’t. We do not have children. Work and school from home, along with constantly having to have children around, has admittedly made quarantine very difficult for those with kids. We did not experience that, obviously.
  • Both Pam and I are fortunate to have jobs that weren’t hugely pandemic-impacted. While yes, my sports work largely went out the window, my day job went on and I was fortunate not to have to deal with being furloughed or laid off in 2020. Pam, meanwhile, probably should have come home from her job at the childcare center, but ultimately didn’t when overall handling of the situation went in a direction we’ll discuss later.
  • Pam and I are both introverts, me even moreso than her. That may take some of you who have known Pam over a decade by surprise, but she does more of the talking around the house than I do.
  • Lastly, a friend did make the point to me that, for many, they don’t have a choice who they can and can’t quarantine with, which might mean exposure to bad actors like abusive family members and spouses. I get that there’s no cure for those folks.

I think there are some counter-points to the above, though:

  • I have always known kids and I weren’t a good fit, even in normal times. I’ve been lucky that Pam has gone along with that. But it was a choice and one I, and we, gave thought to. Quarantine reinforced that no kids was very much the right choice for us. For better or worse, it’s a choice I think more folks might want to encourage young people to give greater weight. It’s one of the reasons I feel birth control isn’t a bad thing whatsoever.
  • I don’t want to attribute having pandemic-proof jobs entirely to luck. There is something to be said for choosing a career path with relatively inelastic demand. I’ve always said the only thing that will put me out of business computer-wise is a Snake Plissken, Escape from L.A.-like EMP pulse, not to mention I have skills in a variety of areas such that, if I needed to switch fields, I could probably do so and survive. Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always said my dream job was doing play-by-play for the NFL on CBS. But I also worked really hard in school because it’s the right thing for everyone to do, and (was admittedly talked into) having a backup plan. I’m glad I was.
  • Pam and I are a tremendous fit for each other, which has helped. Whereas other couples “get sick of each other,” we do not. Yes, occasionally Pam wants more of my attention than I’m in the mood for, whether it be because I’m concentrating on something else or because I’m just ready to zone out. But it’s rare, and usually she picks up on those moments quickly. For the most part, we have a lot of fun and make each other’s lives better when we’re around each other.

Late this fall, I saw a shared Facebook post say, “even the introverts are wanting more human connection now.” And I made the point to say … no, at least not for me.

Now granted, I was never totally isolated in 2020: I still had Pam around, of course, and I made a point to get out of my usual social circles through Zoom, be it happy hours hosted by Lynn Richter or the regular PA announcer Zoom chats that had numerous announcers from around the country. I even took part in a Zoom seminar where I got to have a semi-personal audience with great voices of sports, like Jim Nantz and Bob Costas, as they provided wisdom about what they, the best in the business, do to be the best — it was reassuring to hear it’s mostly things I already do.

However, many times in 2020, I actually made the point to ask the question online: Why do you extroverts feel so much of a need to be around other people? Why does it pain you to not be around other people? Why doesn’t Zoom and social media make you feel the same? They worked for me, almost better than reality, where I’m often thinking my appearance is sub-par, overly concerned about what others are thinking of me, feel like I can’t jump in on conversations or am worried I’ll say the wrong thing in the moment. I was actually hoping quarantine would make more people see the joys of introversion. And yet … no.

The only meaningful response I got was one person who said joy is nothing if not shared. But really? Is a gorgeous sunset any less beautiful if only you’re there to see it? Do you only feel accomplishment if someone else knows you did something? I don’t think so.

But more on that later.

Quarantine, and 2020, were good for me. I followed through on my mantra and it taught me things about myself.

I spent time working on me. I cleaned out a healthy amount of my stuff in our condo, though there’s still work to do and I’ll admit I’ve also regressed some in recent months. I said to myself, “If I don’t do it now, there’s no way I’m ever going to have the time or will ever do it.” So I did.

By my calculations from my phone fitness tracker app, I spent 70 hours and two minutes on the elliptical machine in 2020. In 2019, that was 34 hours and 45 minutes, meaning I more than doubled my workout time this year before even discussing any bike-riding. In 2019, I rode my bike to work once, a back-and-forth trip through some rain that ultimately ate up two hours and three minutes on June 24. In 2020, I took the time on 28 separate days to get out and ride my bike through Milwaukee’s great network of bike-friendly streets and trails. I spent nearly 37 hours biking in 2020. I also got out and golfed more, usually walking nine holes when I did.

I said I would take better care of myself in 2020. I did, and then some. And while my diet still isn’t spectacular, as was pointed out by a few friends, and my sleep patterns are still questionable, even with a new mattress to help things out, I took steps in the right direction on those fronts this year as well. Being at home meant at least a little less fast food and being more calorie-conscious. I was sleeping much better in the first few months of quarantine, until I started the scoreboard project, and we’re hoping the new mattress we got ourselves for Christmas will help in that regard, too.

Financially, not having to leave home nearly as often or drive as many places meant I made gains on cutting down debt, mostly by saving money on food and gas, even without much sports work income. Some of that would go back into sunken costs, like groceries, food delivery fees, running the furnace more and being more active in supporting charitable causes with others having it worse than I did. But I made gains financially in 2020, which many can’t say.

On The Board

Of course, perhaps the most visible thing I did in 2020 was the County Stadium Scoreboard Project.

Yes, I had investigated buying a commercial sports ticker in the past, but it felt like one of those, “Gee, that would be nice, but way too expensive” things. Tacky-looking tickers with only basic info often set you back at least $1,000. Nice-looking ones range closer to five-figures. I somewhat wrote off ever getting one because I couldn’t envision spending the price of a car on displaying data I can access on my phone.

However, for about $200 and a healthy amount of my June and July, I built something even neater myself.

I emphasize “for me” because I really didn’t think it would generate as much interest as it did. People build HO train sets and models of the Millennium Falcon everyday. Furthermore, I tend to think people view scoreboards as merely functional things. Yes, County Stadium’s was unique as the first designed to entertain as well, showing animations and video like the Sausage Race, Two-Fisted Slopper and whatnot. But it was still an obscure part of local history. Much like my sports work as a PA announcer, which I sometimes begin to seen as more unimportant to the world in general than I want it to be, I think people view scoreboards the same way. They’re functional and serve a purpose, but they’re secondary to the game on the field and often not worthy of a second thought for most people, much less a model recreation 20 years after the fact.

I, however, am not most people. And thus, I now have a working scale model of the County Stadium scoreboard in my house.

I did underestimate how popular it would be, though. The Facebook post in the Old Milwaukee group literally got thousands of reactions. I got a wide variety of offers to recreate the model of varying degrees of seriousness, including some who have suggested I should mass-produce it — something I can’t do since I don’t own any of the visual trademarks, much less the data.

ESPN guy: “Why are we getting so much more API traffic? From specific addresses at 10-second intervals?”

Other ESPN guy: “Some guy’s selling scoreboards using our data.”

ESPN guy: “Sue his pants off.”

(Disclosure: I made one panel-only replica, no box, for the back-office guys at the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame, moreso as a “we would make the homebrew panel, but we don’t know how” thing. They paid me for my time, not the product.)

The board garnering so much attention, including a neat story on CBS 58, did take me by surprise, if only because it’s perhaps the most “me” thing I’ve ever done. I love sports. I love history. I love tech. I love computers, programming and figuring out the “why” of how things work, which was most of the work with this. There was even some carpentry, which my family-patriarch grandfather would have appreciated had he not passed in 1997, and which was done by Junio, one of my favorite people on the planet not named Pam.

Yet I’m far more used to “me” things often being about toiling in obscurity and never being the front-and-center thing, than being something so ridiculously out-front for everyone to enjoy. Most people don’t care about those things I said I love above as much as I do. In fact, I find most people don’t care about them at all. Many people see learning about history or figuring out how things work as a burden, not a passion.

But, when they all come together for a neat finished product like this one was, I guess it does capture people’s eyes, even if I saw it as just my personal version of building that model Millennium Falcon.

It was a singular accomplishment for me. I’ll have it for years to come, and I figure out new, fun things to program onto it all the time. But I also think the novelty will wear off, too. It’ll always be a conversation piece for folks the first time they see it. But eventually, I think it’ll just be another “thing” in our house. As such, I take it for what it is when I get caught up in anything involving scoreboard code: A quirky, odd, hobby-like thing for me that only I and maybe a few people on the internet will see as interesting. So be it.

The World Around Us

Given everything said above, I hope it’s clear: 2020 was actually a really good year from me. Even when I think about my day job — how much easier it was for me to focus working from home, how nice it was not to have to put myself together for work every day, how much longer I could sleep in the morning not having to commute, even not having to worry about if someone would just come visit my cube and judge me for peeking at Facebook at work — 2020 and the changes that came from it, other than a potentially deadly disease lingering, were good for me.

But, clearly, for most people, 2020 was a garbage year they just want over.

I’m not going to say it doesn’t make sense to me. Summerfest, State Fair, sporting events, bars, et al., don’t have thousands upon thousands of people go to them because they aren’t enjoyable. While I was able to say, “It’s better to have them, but things can still be good without them,” I get that, for people who more so live for those things, this was a bad year. Everything some people do builds up to those things, even if they’re truly only a fanatical patron. It makes sense that yes, they’ve been deprived of their joy and are feeling down accordingly.

I do think adjusting to saying, “Things can still be good without” those things is entirely possible. Heck, I did it in 2020.

Still, a lot of people didn’t make that adjustment. And, worse yet, when asked to do simple things to help alleviate concerns about the disease — wear a mask, stay home, etc. — a lot of people, perhaps in a misguided act of frustration about not getting to have those things, or perhaps to fit in with a culture of others’ who decided to act out, or perhaps just to thumb their noses at people like me who could make 2020 still good, decided to vocally say, “You can’t tell me what to do!” and did a lot of the “wrong” things, if only to prove they could.

Now yes, a lot of people had very valid reasons to say 2020 was bad: Lost jobs, lost wages, lost family members, et al. But there also seemed to be a lot of people out there who let it be bad, who let themselves simply be resigned to the year being trash. And then there were others who almost seemed to seek out chances to make it bad for others. Leaders who forced people back to work who probably didn’t need to be, perhaps in the name of greed. Businesses that not only opened back up but tried to make things feel as normal as possible when, clearly, they weren’t, nor should they been made to seem that way. And so on.

That said, while I’m still making a hearty effort to stay home and stay safe, one thing I did say all along is that I would make a point to risk working outside the house if those around me at least made a reasonable effort to acknowledge safety measures. Some risk to achieve some reward is almost always inherent.

In the end, I did end up doing some sports work during the pandemic. Camp Shutout went on, albeit in a socially-distanced manner in Racine rather than its usual home of Stevens Point. The SKYGEN USA Milwaukee Summer Pro-Am also went on, but outside at the familiar-to-me outdoor grounds of New Berlin’s Malone Park. While I still question the safety of having schools open and playing sports — valuable, yes; essential, no — if they were going to happen, I was willing to be there, and I was even able to add a new fill-in client, Muskego High School volleyball, in the absence of my usual fall sports. I also shifted from being a high school football play-by-play voice to the voice of Football Friday Night, the must-listen high school football postgame show aired on a statewide network of stations. I have a weird feeling I’ll continue with that show after the pandemic as well.

However, I want to bring up one thing I’ve been doing this fall relative to the events of our world this summer: Working with the Rep Your Loved Ones basketball league.

Make no mistake: There were cultural tensions the world, especially in Wisconsin, in 2020. There are still boarded-up business in Wauwatosa. Kenosha will take some time to recover. While there were people like me that embraced #KindnessInMKE and the chance to build any bridges across cultures, there are also plenty of people out for a fight, who believe they’re right, or their culture is better, or they’re more deserving of good things, or whatever. Those people made their voices heard quite a bit, as did the people who tried to counter them by using words like “justice,” “equality,” and simply trying to assert they simply wanted to feel like they mattered.

RYLO is probably not the kind of league you would picture me being associated with. I am, by my own admission, a dopey, geeky, product-of-the-suburbs white kid. I relate a surprisingly large amount to the characters on The Big Bang Theory. RYLO’s games are all on the north side of Milwaukee. The majority of players and staff are African-American. If I didn’t play a healthy amount of DaBaby and Meek Mill pregame, I’d be looked at oddly.

The league gets rough sometimes. There have been games, plural, where players have taken swings at each other. Arguments between coaches, players, officials and staff have gotten heated to the point of having to be taken outside the gym. The gyms are a far cry from suburban facilities like Muskego’s and it’s sound system that supposedly uses much of the same audio equipment as Fiserv Forum’s. The logos on the wall at one gym are paper printouts where the word “Eagle” handwritten letter ‘s’es tacked on the end to correct them to be plural.

But I don’t say this to cut the league down — not one bit.

Just because it’s a very different culture doesn’t mean I don’t fit in. I share smiles, jokes and conversations with the officials and concession stand workers just the same. For the bad stuff that happens, I see far more good stuff: Those stand workers are incredibly sweet, friendly and accommodating. Staffers work long hours to make basketball possible. Coaches and players come hours before their games, or stay hours afterward, to help with the scorebook or scoreboard. Everyone’s masked. The teams are named after family members the players care about. There’s a lot of hustle, heart and guys trying hard. One of my favorite players in the league just became a firefighter. It’s not uncommon to see players with their kids before and after games.

Is it a very different culture than the one I’m in most of the time? Yes. Does that make it worse? Hell no; it’s just different. Does it mean the folks in the league are trying any less hard to do the right thing for themselves and the family members who they’re representing with their team? Also hell no. Are they misguided sometimes? When they’re throwing punches at each other or getting into heated arguments with the refs, yes. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to do the right things, or aren’t trying most of the time. They get frustrated like all of us. They’re human and do human things, too. But their heads and hearts are in the right place.

I don’t want to make it sound like I’m working the league as if it’s some sort of act of pity or charitable support. I’m not doing it because it takes me into that community. It’s a sports gig, just like my others: Ultimately, I do it for the reps and to make a little extra money.

But save when I have to get up early for games — nothing will ever make me a morning person — I enjoy working RYLO, and I don’t think it’s a bad side effect getting to be around and support people in the Black community in a year when it became clear that culture is still wrongly under attack by certain groups. When I see how virulent some people are in our world about people of different cultures, it bothers me because I’ve put myself in the middle of different cultures and trained myself to be comfortable around them. I wish more people would do that and see that everyone, without fail, is deserving of respect. Yes, we’re different, but I respect the people in that league and they respect me. They’re just as deserving of good things in life as anyone.

The only thing I feel bad about with RYLO is the fact that, when college sports return, they probably lose me to those a lot of the time. But I’m going to make a point to stay connected. I like the league and what it provides for the community. I’m going to support it, and I do.

The Last Word

The end of 2020 has brought both a return of hope and a return of some of the frustrations I sometimes felt back in more-normal times.

Yes, a vaccine is on the way.

On the sports side, I got trained up in using the NBA’s computer stats program as a potential backup for the Bucks. However, confusion over whether Bucks personnel could or couldn’t work Marquette games as well had me thinking for a couple weeks that I’d get the chance to work Marquette games as a Bucks backup. Instead, a last-second call meant not only that I wouldn’t be working Marquette games as I thought, but also that, in the confusion, I wouldn’t be covering Marquette as I had the last six years, either. A real-world setback.

Also, without getting into great detail, things are … weird … with my family at the moment. My Dad’s behavior has gotten somewhat erratic in recent months. We’re not sure if it’s simply being stir-crazy, his medication, age, lingering deterioration from his 2003 stroke, or some combination of the above. It’s a situation we’re going to have to deal with sooner rather than later in 2021. Mom, meanwhile, is dealing with my aunt’s aging process in addition to Dad’s issues, which hasn’t made things easy for her. There’s a good chance I’ll be talking about that more next year.

At least Pam’s been a rock for us. While she’s had a few instances where her childcare center has had to close for stretches because of positive cases, she, too, has made the most of quarantine, growing Hollyville’s online sales in 2020 during a year when many other small businesses are suffering. When normalcy returns, it will be interesting to see how much Hollyville will grow in the next couple years. I wouldn’t bet against her right now.

The business’ success also allowed her to add a neat thing to our garage: A cool-looking, retro Vespa scooter that will get plenty of use next year.

Ultimately, though, my biggest takeaway from 2020 is this: For much of the first 37 years of my life, I’ve struggled with self-image. As I said above, I have a tendency to worry about how people think of me, particularly when I’m around them.

However, I discovered this in 2020’s final introspection: When I’m not around other people, and other people aren’t around other people, I actually do really flippin’ well compared to others. I can do better at my job. I can build a scoreboard a lot of people find really cool. I can take really good care of myself. And I can do it during a time when a lot of other people find it to be a struggle.

That’s actually helped my self-worth. I’ve reconciled with myself. I’m realizing I shouldn’t be as down on myself or as worried about who I am as I thought. I’ve got it right. I can do it right. I can handle these things other people can’t. I need to remember that. I need to remember that 2020, didn’t get me down, mostly because I didn’t let it get me down, took it head-on and accomplished a ton while others allowed it get them down. I’m centered. I’m mentally strong. I’m talented. I’m focused. I should believe in myself. I’m patient enough to keep doing the right things through a worldwide pandemic, and I’m patient enough to get where I want to go when it’s all done. I’ve waited 15 years for the chance to do more with Marquette Athletics and basketball, for instance. It didn’t happen like I thought it might. But I’m still patient. I’ll get there.

My hope is that I remember that the rest of my life. We’ll all remember 2020 the rest of our lives, after all. But I’ll remember it differently than a lot of other people.

How that stays in my mind when things get back to normal? I’m not sure. But I’ll just do what I do and continue onward. •

Occasional musings of someone occasionally amused.