While we're all much more than just being Royals fans, it is the tie that binds us. What brought you to the Royals' front stoop knocking on the door to be let in? Perhaps more importantly, why did you stay?
Shortly after my birth, my father joined the JAG force of the Army. Eventually, we ended up in Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, as most JAG families do at some point considering the military prison there. As my dad was a sports enthusiast, he took me to a Royals-Rangers game when I was five, and I was a Royals fan from then on, even though my dad was a Phillies fan. I grew up going to Orioles games, but I never wavered in my support for the Royals. A little part of me credits Cal Ripken, Jr. for my loyalty to the Royals. We moved to DC when I was six. Ripken was all the talk in the pre-Nationals-era DC sports world, and my father could not stand the god-like status The Washington Post bestowed upon Ripken. So, I had this memory of a Royals game, I missed Kansas as it was the first place [of which] I had vivid memories, and I had a father ranting against the local baseball hero. A lifelong dedication was there.
As time wore on, being part of this journey, this idea that a once-proud franchise would one day return to the promise land became something I really believed in as a fan. I embraced being part of an underdog, part of a national joke, part of something you had to be crazy to be part of. In a sense, I loved the fact that to be a Royals fan you had to be a romantic.
Standard dating profile questions: Age? Sex? Height? Hair color? Marital status? Kids?
29, Male, 5'11'', Dirty Blonde, I'm in a long term relationship where both people don't believe in marriage for various reasons, no kids.
What is the special lady friend like?
The lady is a very understanding one. She helps shore up my weaknesses, and I do the same for hers. Obviously it's not a perfect balance, but we both see where we need to yield for where the other can't help. She keeps me interested in her by evolving, and I admire that. She's also Belgian, which is almost Dutch, so she's almost Greg Holland.
While many choose not to define themselves by their job, what do you do to make ends meet? For how long have you been plying that trade?
I'm a classically trained French chef. I've bounced around various sectors of the food industry in efforts to fully know the field. I'm not trying to tie myself to one idea of what a chef is. I want to try all of it. I've done private chef, restaurant chef, mass production, high end, low end, catering, and now to a test kitchen for a magazine likely read by our readers.
While no one wants to out you professionally, I think it's safe to say that we all subscribe to the Pennsylvania Journal of Microwave Dining, so kudos. Seriously, though, what culinary experiences do you look back upon most fondly?
I look back at many of them fondly. I look back to the firsts most fondly. First Mother's Day buffet at a country club on omelet station was early, and when I survived, I knew I could hang. Learning to use new equipment, new recipes, new staff, it's all part of the fun of the food world. It never stops changing, you just have to make sure to keep changing yourself. Most fondly though: getting an A in my first culinary lab at JWU is something I'll always remember; making room service for Jimmy Carter followed by him sending me a personal note of thanks; cooking for celebrity chefs at events was cool, but not as cool as outsiders probably think; all the crazy personalities you run into, the food world is not short on interesting people... Hard to nail down... It's been fun.
Would you repeat them, or are you more concerned with trying to expand your experiential culinary life?
Would I repeat all of them, yes. Some of the stages (paid internship, sometimes unpaid) I've had have been horrid. Some big chefs are big dicks. I didn't enjoy that, but now that I know that and can move on. Not completely (due to SSS), but I know high end isn't my thing anyway. I tried out running the floor for a organic manufacturing plant, and holy hell, I wanted to shoot myself because it was a desk job with food mixed in. I've been bumping around, willing to burn bridges, sometimes burning them myself, on my way to finding what I want. I only have so much time, so I wasn't willing to wait on something that did nothing for me than a good paycheck.
Where do you live now, and where did you grow up?
I live in Allentown, PA right now. Area of about 850K some 40 miles from Philly. I was born in Pennsylvania, then some moving around and grew up on the Virginia side of the DC metro area. Due to moving around and travel quite a lot as a youth, I've moved a ridiculous amount of times as an adult. Since graduating college, I've lived in 32 locations. But anyway, where I grew up was nothing to complain about. It was the DC suburbs. Good schools, diversity, affluence. It had no real personality as few people are really from the DC area, but it gave you a little sense of all areas of the country. I was shown a little glimpse of all options in life.
Wait, 32 locations? Does that mean 32 different towns? How is this possible in the eight or so years since college? Are there any of those locales that strike you as places to which you would like to return to live?
I meant since high school. After thinking, it's 14 locations, but 32 places, I think. It's foggy in parts. I still think that might be off. I took summer jobs anywhere but back home during college, I took stages after my degree, and I just moved around a lot in general due to mitigating circumstances. I didn't like Connecticut. I liked New Hampshire. I love Charlotte, but I hated Asheville (basically drug addict USA). I love DC. I dream of moving to San Francisco, but we'll see.
You mentioned your dad was JAG. What was your family life like growing up?
Too perfect. Dad was a JAG, then joined the Treasury Department working arbitration cases for them around the country at the various FMS branches. My mother was a school teacher, mostly elementary. They met the day after both of them graduated from high school and have been together ever since. My older sister, who is now the Chief of Staff for a U.S. Representative, and I got along very well. She was three years older than me. Life was good in some regards. My mom doting, my dad always unsure about how to emotionally connect other than by way of sports. We traveled a lot. Both sides of the family saw great tragedies when I was in 7th grade that changed things. Both parents became withdrawn, each to their own degree. Overall, my parents did as good a job as you could ask.
With the understanding that obviously baseball and the Royals are an area of interest for you, what other hobbies and interests do you have?
I'm big into Presidential history/American history, have a lifetime goal of visiting every President's house and writing a book on Calvin Coolidge. I love basketball, play pick-up whenever possible. I cook even on my down time. I love European soccer. Play the piano. I volunteer with mentally disabled children when I can. I was Key Club president at my high school, so I've always been big on volunteering. Someday I'll be on Jeopardy, co-workers call me Rain Man. I love Temple basketball, and now that I live near Philly, I'm back to going. I love to single track mountain bike and cliff jump, good times. Crosswords. I'm an old Irish man at heart.
An old Irishman at heart? So does this mean you're a Catholic who took his coffee with a shot of Jameson's?
I just meant that as a stupid expression. The alcoholic in my blood seems to come from no one. My Slovak great uncle was a drinker of four beers a night, but that's not alcoholism. My dad might drink two beers a week. It's like a gene mutated just to mess with me. The only part of this is that my Grampie (Irish born) doesn't know who his dad is, and that's a story in and of itself, so maybe there? No one knows.
What is your educational background/area of study?
I went to West Virginia for Landscape Architecture, and Johnson & Wales for Culinary Arts/Food Business.
So did you finish your studies in landscape architecture at West Virginia, or did you change course part way through?
Yeah, I wanted to design golf courses. I was doing well. But I was working in this sports bar and I was loving it. So I transferred. Went over well at home as long as I graduated. Part of why I left is because I had been arrested/ticketed at WVU for drinking violations four times. I'd been kicked out of dorms. I was sick of it. But, part of addiction is thinking a change in location will cure your ills. I sit and wonder sometimes if I'd stuck it out, (I had a 3.8) at WVU), where I'd be. I look at it as the right situation. It was the first in my migration towards recovery and help. If I'd just stayed there, drinking my ass off, getting a 3.8 and a good job, who knows how bad I'd be mentally right now. I was recognizing something then but wasn't ready to fully address it. At least the courses transferred were a plus.
Was there a moment that you could point to where you knew that sobriety was a necessity for your well-being? In what ways did your alcoholism present itself and take hold?
Having guns pulled at your head because you broke your own window, that did it for me. In the mid-Atlantic in near downtown areas, I kicked my own window in and had five guns pulled on me due to my vulgarity. My alcoholism is a scary sight that I saw for too long. Once unchained, it's all on me to remain unchanged. I have no excuse now. I'm that. Live it in sobriety. But, I hate AA for its complete BS, so it's tough. Sports are honestly my AA. I was driving home tonight, thought of a drink, then I remembered I wanted to watch USA v Mexico.
We all have a long list of stupid shit that we've done. What's the dumbest thing you've done?
I'm pretty content with my decisions in the past as I'm now at a happy place in my life. I laugh at some past actions, but I don't regret them. I'm not sure I want to get this out there, but I finally decided to take meds for bipolar within the last year, so my answer for this question is likely caused by that decision. I might go there, but I'm not sure.
For those who also suffer from bipolar disorder, it might be helpful and instructive to explore this a bit more. How and when did it first manifest itself with you? Were there signs before the diagnosis?
Bipolar started long, long ago. My bipolarity manifests itself in impulsive decision making, extreme social anxiety which manifested feeling like all eyes where on me constantly (which is a horrible term, I actually had a ton of friends, that's a misleading symptom), tendency to lean toward the negative on possible outcomes, an internal calculator, inability to empathize with those closest to you, constant lying to frame a situation that results in a positive outcome for you, loner (this sets in once the substance abuse goes on), annoyance with loud noises unless they are your desired loud noises, apathy, the ability to live in a pig sty and know it needs to be cleaned but refuse to do so, horrid money management.
Sorry, those are just my signs. I wanted to go beyond DSMV. First thing was feeling isolated and limp in 7th grade even though I had friends and girls who liked me. I became so obsessed with the negative outcome that I wouldn't even act. It was horrifying. But just as this was happening, my family had tragedies happen, so I wasn't helped for a long time.
I'm glad you went past the textbook symptoms. Obviously there are variances from case to case, and nothing is tidy when it comes to diagnosed mental disorders. You mentioned a tragedy befalling the family. What happened, if that's not too personal? Did the timing of the middle school incidents distract from the issues that were beginning to manifest themselves in your behavior? When were you properly diagnosed as bipolar?
I wasn't diagnosed due to reasons that are hard to articulate without placing blame. Most of my family died in a plane crash when I was 12. I had exhibited anxiety in 7th grade, but it was at this point that the depression hit. I was a complete wreck. So was everyone. I was alone at 13, very hard to put into words.
Both in media portrayals--recently, Shameless--and in real life, there is a prevalence of people who are resistant to medically regulating their manic depression. In your own words, how is your life different on the meds versus off of them? Did it take a while to find the right combination? Is there still a temptation to err from the medicated path, or do the recent turns for the better outweigh the deleterious effects that the medication has?
Oh my god, I was totally resistant to medications once diagnosed. I hated that idea. The bipolar person is stigmatized in this society. How dare you stigmatize me? I was also drinking at this time, but those were my thoughts. Basically, you want to label me a crazy person? I've moved on, but I still think we as a society treat people with mental disorders horribly. We can blame our parents on how I felt, but how will we feel when we're blamed? Let's all do a better job of informing the next generation that they didn't make a decision, they were just born with a condition. I feel like our generation got born in a weird bubble where everything was sunshine and roses, and then we got hit with this. Our generation was born in an era of rapid change, this should be one thing we change. I still hear "bipolar", and I'm not sure as I haven't read up, and I don't doubt RR has people using "bipolar" as an adjective.
My lady calls Lithium her best friend as a joke. I love it, I'm never leaving it.
Clearly having both problems woven into your being cannot have been easy. How did alcoholism and bipolarity work in congruence with one another in your case?
My alcohol use is always highest in a manic stage. I sleep 20-30 hours a weeks, I can't stop moving, can't focus on anything for more than five minutes, have an inflated ego. I'm an ass that annoys people in this stage. I'm self-aware enough to realize this, so I drink to try to slow it down. Problem is, this leads to a depressed state. To stay with current times, I'm Phil at the beginning of Last Man on Earth when I'm depressed. This state leads to absolutely nothing. The manic phase I'm at least part of society, but manic me isn't. I know these two worlds exist, and I long tried to find the perfect equilibrium without help, but my attempts proved impotent in the end. That's really how they come together. One side needs it to wind them down; one side doesn't to amp them up. But, you get nowhere with constant u-turns.
What's the best thing you've read in recent memory? Describe it as though you were trying to convince someone else that they should read it.
I read it quite a bit ago, but I'd have to go with Manhunt: The 12-Day Chase for Lincoln's Killer. If you find history boring, well screw you, but the assassination of a sitting president and the hunt for his killer wasn't, so read this you shallow asshole.
Describe yourself in three sentences or less.
An endless mess of energy that loves the things he cares about.