This past weekend was jam-packed with reunion fun as we had both my judge's clerk reunion and my family's annual reunion to attend, with the slight problem of them being six hours driving time away from each other. Saturday afternoon was a bbq at my judge's home in the Chicago suburbs, which was full of excellent food. I had to say goodbye there to my co-clerk Peter, who was hitting the road on Monday morning to head back to the East coast. His last day at work was Friday. He's been an awesome colleague and it's been sad not having him around this week.
We left the Chicago area around 5:30pm on Saturday, straight from the bbq, and hit the road for Cleveland. We stopped, as we typically do for long road trips, at Cracker Barrel and picked up a book on cd. (If you don't know this trick, it's great. You can "buy" a book on cd from Cracker Barrel and return it within seven days to any other Cracker Barrel, where you'll be refunded the price of the book minus about $3.50.) Rob left me to pick the book on my own and I admit I made a terrible choice -- The Second Horseman by Kyle Mills. You know a book is bad where part of the plot centers around protagonists trying to avoid nuclear war and you find yourself thinking it'd be fine if the bombs go off because at least then the book would be over. There's also a character who's rabidly anti-Semitic, but it's couched in these falsely intellectual terms and you don't really know he's a villain until late in the book... so before you get to that point, the character's rants leave a really bad taste in your mouth that jolts you out of the book. I have to blame some of the bad opinion on the fact that we listened to an abridged version (the last 30 minutes just made no sense at all so there must have been a lot left on the cutting room floor) and on the person who performed this particular book on cd. His style made everything sound schticky. And the voice he gave the main female character was like a caricature of a little old lady cartoon voice... only problem was that the character was supposed to be a young, bad-ass CIA agent. The voice was so ridiculous that it kept making us laugh, even at the many points in the book where she and the hero are about to be killed.
Anyway, we arrived in Cleveland at about 11:30pm and hung out at my grandma's for a while. A little after midnight my Uncle Tom (who is in his 50s) tried to get a game of "SPUD" going. Awesome late night game that's kindof a combo of "HORSE" and dodgeball. The game, which involves yelling, was interrupted by my grandmother shouting out her window that the game was too loud and we had to stop... which led to my Uncle Tom throwing the ball in frustration and saying, "Aw Mom, that's ridiculous!" My cousin Paul, Uncle Tom's 27-year-old son, was very amused.
We checked into our hotel a little before 2am and headed back to Grandma's around 10am. We met up with Libby and Colin to begin our morning as heathens. Most of the family was at mass, which included a baptism of my newest cousin Marcus. But we heathens who aren't so comfortable in a Catholic church had planned on doing breakfast together, so we stuck with that plan. We decided to just drive down Lorain Avenue, a main street near my Grandma's house around 220th Street, straight towards downtown where we'd later be catching an Indians game and just stop when we found something good. After passing up "Hobo Joe's," we stopped around 41st Street at Nick's Diner. From where we parked, the front of Nick's was blocked by cars. Rob ran across the street first, turned around grinning and said, "In about ten seconds you guys are going to realize this was a great idea." Indeed! In front of Nick's was a sign advertising their $1.99 breakfast -- 3 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon or sausage, home fries or grits, and toast of your choice. An extra buck got you coffee. Not exactly keeping with Operation Portugal, but who's going to buy a $4 omelet (also a great deal though) with that special staring at you. Colin and Libby, gentle eaters they are, pondered sharing the special, but Rob and I let them know how wrong that would be. So we all got the special plus coffee or tea and an OJ for Colin -- our total bill was $16. Unreal. And it was delicious! Score one for the heathens.
We made it to the game just as it got underway. It was the Tribe versus the Yankees and apparently someone forgot to tell the Yankees fans that Jacobs Field is not Yankee Stadium. Holy crap there were a lot of Yankees fans. (I'm not sure I can forgive my dad for letting his girlfriend show up in a Yankees hat... a pink Yankees hat no less. ;) They cheered so loudly after their team would make good plays, you'd think it was the hometown fans cheering and do a double take to make sure you hadn't missed something good. The game was reasonably close and the Indians needed a win to maintain their standing at the top of the AL Central. But the Cleveland fans in attendance could hardly be bothered to cheer their team through the closing innings. That's not to say there was a ton to cheer about. Leaving the tying runs on base in each of the closing innings is appalling. But sheesh! Don't let "Let's Go Yankees" cheers in the Jake go unanswered!!! At the top of the ninth, the Indians had two outs and two strikes on Jeter. So what would any home team fan do in that situation? You stand up and cheer on your pitcher, that's what! And what did I do? I got up and screamed my head of from the very top back corner of the stadium and tried to get some noise going. The M-nariks are always good for noise. But we need the fans in actual shouting distance of the field to do their part. And what did the rest of their Cleveland fans do? They sat on their hands in silence. Seriously. SERIOUSLY! And what did the Yankees fans do? They cheered on Jeter -- loudly. And what did Jeter do? Well, you can figure out the rest. Damn Jeter. Damn Yankees.
Bottom of the ninth, 5-2 Yankees, but the Indians show some life. They score a 3rd run, leaving men on second and third with no outs. You can pop fly your way into extra innings from that position. The Cleveland fans gave some half-hearted cheers, but nothing worthy of the fight their players tried to get going. So we the fans deserved the result we got. Three straight outs and the runners never moved. Devastating. I'd blame it on our heathen morning, but my Uncle Matt's priestwas with us at the game, so surely that cancelled out our debaucherous morning!
After the game, we went back to Grandma's, soaked with sweat from the sun and humidity. We watched my Uncle Dan zoom by us on the highway. Hee hee. I had an excellent chat with my cousin Andrew (who's 15) about Harry Potter. Rob, Andrew and I started kicking around a soccer ball in the backyard and nearly a dozen more cousins flocked over. So we played a multi-generational monkey-in-the-middle-type game, as my cousin Judy and her two oldest kids joined the game too. Those are the best moments of M-narik reunions to me, the random playing. When I was growing up, nothing beat time with my cousins. I still love playing games with my cousins and I love seeing all my younger cousins (the youngest is just a couple months' old) play with my older cousins' kids (the oldest of that generation is nearing the end of high school). So cool.
Finally, we began the long trek home. Shout out to Rob who drove the entire trip -- about 5.5 hours each way. So that's 11 hours of driving in about 30 hours just so I could spend a day with my family.
Work on Monday was a little strange. A new law clerk has moved into my old office while I'm working down the hall for my bonus weeks with my judge. I spent a lot of Monday playing tour guide for the two new clerks who started. Then yesterday was a lot of catching back up on work. The new clerks seem absolutely great and are so diligent. Makes me realize how much they have to look forward here. In just a couple more weeks, I'll be leaving behind about 60 bench memos at around 4000-7000 words a pop, 22 opinions drafted initially by yours truly (but later undergoing major revision by the smartest person in chambers) with the shortest still over 10 pages, a smattering of dissents, countless pages of PFR recommendations, and a million other little things. I wish I could do it all over knowing everything I know now, but of course if I knew last year exactly how much work was facing me down, I might not have survived!
Back to work I go.