Friday, December 26, 2014

"Twice Told Tales"

     Monday Night, I got a text from my sister Erin. She had been saying
aloud to herself, "I have an appointment in Samarra." without really knowing the origin of the expression or what it meant. So, I explained to her that it was an inside joke between our mother Hope, and brothers, Brian & Joe.
     Later that night, a hall door is left open, and she falls down fourteen steps. Her husband, Randy, jumps out of bed and races down the stairs only to find Erin at the bottom, head twisted, not making a sound, not even breathing! He thinks she must be dead, but employs artificial respiration anyway for a total of five minutes. The looks on her face, and the rest of the telltale signs point to a no return. Finally, after all his effort, Erin says, "I'm Ok".
      She isn't really ok  but after six hours in emergency with two broken vertebrae, bruises, etc., she is back home again with more than one eerie feeling...

      "A merchant in Baghdad sends his servant to the marketplace for provisions. Shortly, the servant comes home white and trembling and tells him that in the marketplace he was jostled by a woman, whom he recognized as Death, and she made a threatening gesture. Borrowing the merchant's horse, he flees at top speed to Samarra, a distance of about 75 miles , where he believes Death will not find him. The merchant then goes to the marketplace and finds Death, and asks why she made the threatening gesture. She replies, "That was not a threatening gesture, it was only a start of surprise. I was astonished to see him in Baghdad, for I had an appointment with him tonight in Samarra." W. Somerset Maugham retelling of an old story that he reused as an epigram.

Sunday, December 21, 2014


     Hope and Bill would have been proud today watching as the family filed into the next pew (actually it took two). My guess is the children fell within the range of two-to twenty two. The father held the two year-old (my guess) during mass while she brushed and curled his partially bald head constantly. He didn't seem to be distracted by it.
      All the kids were so well behaved and nice to each other at the same time. My first rush reminded me of my own childhood. Going to mass with Hope and Bill sitting in the pew behind. It was like a well managed classroom with love as the discipline. The fact that the kid's behavior training had been instilled way before this inclusion was obvious for it was like a picture book story.
       The first generation (G-1's) live on! G2's like myself are still
benefiting from our upbringing.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Grind Stone City


      I'd heard the name a number of times, ringing in my brain. When I was older and able to drive, I began to look  without success. I would ask directions and a number of earnest replies later still sent me on the road of no return.
      Wm T. planned fishing trips to the site, but the trips  never really launched. So, in my own little brain, I decided  this must be a mythical city. Even the name seemed to originate in the stone age.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Avuncular Advice

      I never really saw my uncles very much, but Uncle Jack was one of the great ones! He was always helping our family, especially at Christmas. Uncle Jack and Aunt Ronnie, year after year, always made sure our family had extra presents under the tree, even though they had a large family of their own. As Erin said, "We thought they were Santa Claus."
       The last time I saw him was at a family reunion and I believe he was in his early nineties. His advice rings in my ear til this day. "You gotta give the other fella a chance." 
There was a lot more to this conversation than that bit of positive thinking, but the important fact was that he was still positive. Age hadn't diminished his spirit one wit. 

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Once in a Blue Moon

       Mike told me a little bit today about his first management job at GM as a foreman on the frame line. On the first day into his new job, a man in a shirt and tie was retching in the parking lot.   He told Mike that he had just quit this morning and was going to work at SeaRay boats. "What was your job here?' The terse reply, "Forman on the frame line". I guess you could call it an exit interview.
        Heading to work some months later, Mike opted to bypass his new job and just keep driving. One hundred miles down the road, he was in the Blue Moon Bar, settling down for a brew, safe and secure. The phone rings, "Is Mike Quinlan here?", the bartender queries. Unbelievable! His wife Carol continues on the line, "GM has been looking for you all morning!"
        Next morning the secretary hails him into the office, "The superintendent wants to see you.The superintendent spins around in his big leather chair, "Where were you yesterday?"  Face to face the conversation is short "In a bar." The super taps his wooden pencil against the desk several time, "Next time, take me with you."


Friday, August 23, 2013

Moose Tale

      The deputy is checking out the vehicle in the ditch as Patrick drives up in a four wheeler. "Has this car been in an accident? "No" Patrick responds, "This is the way it normally looks." Many credentials later the deputy drives away a bit baffled. 

       Reminds me of a story, Mike replies. "Ms Carol and I were driving one of the trucks I bought from Brian named the "General Lee". It cost me a $100, but it started with a beer can opener. We were on Duck Lake Rd and I decided to open it up since the engine was getting ready to blow anyway. The gravel spun in the back like a rooster tail, everything going sideways. 
       We ended up about a mile and a half into the swamp only to walk out hip deep in the muck much later. After a couple of days, I came back with the John Deere and chains with rescue mode in mind. I towed it back to the farm. Then, I tried the beer can opener. It fired up like it never knew it had gone to rest." 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Best Case Scenario

       The winds of change have shifted. The new pope, Francis, is the right man for the right time. As a world body, the Catholic Church needs a new focus. I'm excited because I see two important elements coming into play. First, the poor, and then some rigorous stress on education. As a Jesuit, Pope Francis has these qualities in spades. In the liturgical cycle, lent will soon be over. Time to get back to the main mission.
        Reading Thomas Merton, my favorite monk, last night, I chanced upon words that just blew me away.  "We live in the time of no room, which is the time of the end. The time when everyone is obsessed with lack of time, lack of space, with saving time, conquering space, projecting into time and space the anguish produced within them by the technological furies of size, volume, quantity, speed, number, price, power and acceleration."
      When Hope had a message of concern, she would tear a page out of the Robert Service book of poems, and mail it to me along with some cryptic side notes. As Mike and I talked about it this morning, Hope and Bill really taught us to survive which is the best you can really ever do for your kids. The synopsis: You can drink beer, but if its premium, you will have to spend a little more.


Thursday, December 27, 2012

Bon Mot

I ran into Patrick yesterday in McDonalds sporting a new lid. Just another sign that he was healing back into himself. He related a tale of verbal jousting with the "powers that be" that further confirmed this fact. 
A police officer stopped his car earlier in the week. Following standard protocol, the officer queried, "Do you know why I stopped you?" Patrick responded, "Sexual attraction?"
Iron Man is bounding back!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Some May even call it Brutal.

My dad was brutally honest about everything. A few years ago when he got a bad report from his doctor saying that the cancer was in his spine, my dad called and we had the following conversation:
Dad: "Well, Kelly. That's it. I'm gonna die. Cancer is in my spine and that's it."
Me: Crying. "No, dad I don't want you to die."
Dad: "It's ok. You had a hard time getting started with your life, and better me, than you."
Me: "I don't think so, dad. I don't want you to die." Me still crying.
Dad: "I can't listen to you cry any more. Can you go call your mother so she can console you?"
And then he hung up.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Golden Boy vs. Black Sheep

Driving back last night, I was trying to wrap my mind around a couple things. 

The first of which was how my Aunt Shannon actually thought she might screw up my niece's computer by logging on to using her own email address on a computer that was not hers. Ummm.....I am sure you were just kidding....right? Please tell me? Right? 

The second idea...was much more complex. All families with multiple children have to know exactly what I am talking about here..... Quinlan kids....3 boys, 1 princess...whoops...sorry Quinner that slipped! 

In every family...there is a "chosen one". Now, bear in mind, this "chosen one" is not necessarily chosen by the parents, but this is a perception that siblings must have in order to properly rank their importance in the herd. Brother Patrick perceived me as the golden boy. 

To this day, it baffles me. I mean, sure, my folks paid for my college, allowed me to travel the world on their dime, helped me buy my first house and my second house, and "gave" me a canoe livery. But aside from that, I got no preferential treatment. All the while, Patrick was raising babies. Three young ladies...on his own. Times were very tough for Patrick, I know, I used to drive by his house....and slow down. It looked TOUGH! 

This path in life created a natural "edge" between us. At times, it became very intense. 

In 1988 we received a "Christmas in July" check from my Grandmother Margaret. My father, Patrick and I all ended up at Fred's bar in Roscommon. It was a joyous occasion, with lots of laughter, beer, and shots. Amidst all this joy, I decided to confront Patrick about an old debt. The details of this debt are not important, suffice it to say he "totally boned me" on a utility bill that he set up at his house in my name! I knew he had the cash in his pocket to cover it. I demanded payment. He reached in his pocket, and pulled out a fist full of NOTHING and said, "this is exactly what you're getting from me....tonight."

SECONDS later, there we were, in the parking lot, battling like only true brothers could. YEARS of frustration being laid out on the pavement. My father was in a state of shock, powerless to stop the EMOTIONALLY charged battle. I was tough as hell back in those days...Patrick was much tougher! 

When the dust settled, and cops rolled in, Patrick climbed off of me. He looked me right in the eyes and said, "I could have killed you golden boy...but I didn't."

I would give ANYTHING to have that battle with you again, Black Sheep. 

Anything! (and if I have to let you win again....I will!) 


Brian Quinlan

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Caddy Shack

Written Sep 15, 2011 9:01am
 I have to go all the way back to 1980 for this story...

My brothers and I got jobs as caddies at Orchard Lake Country Club down in Oakland county.

I was pretty focused on the gig, carrying as many bags as I could, and working towards buying a new Mongoose BMX bike. It took only a few months, and I was promoted to Honor Caddy, which allowed me some freedoms, and big tips that many others could only dream about. Patrick was not all that impressed, and enjoyed his B caddy status. Most of his days were spent at the caddy shack (not on the course!). He was our comedic relief, and was constantly involved in some sort of caddy mischief. Our Caddy Master was a guy named Kirk Heart. He was a complete ass in every sense of the word. Obviously he and Patrick had very different goals for Patrick!

Caddy "golf day" every Monday was huge in terms of fun, as we had the entire course to ourselves. Patrick, not being a golfer (and barely a caddy!), remained pretty uninvolved. I made the mistake of golfing with a caddy buddy of mine who had been suspended for "un-caddy like behavior". Upon hearing the news on the following Tuesday morning, I was fired. At 15 and desperately devoted to overachieving, I was absolutely crushed. I went back to the Caddy Shack, and reported the news to Patrick. I remember the look in his eyes, and saw it years later in the eyes of William Wallace in the movie Brave Heart. There were about 20-30 guys sitting around us in the shack, all waiting for our absolutely fearless leader to make his decision. As tears welled up in my eyes,  fire welled up in Patrick's heart. Two fist pounds on the table later, he started his walk down the hill towards Kirk Heart, in the Caddy Master shack. We followed. Patrick out front, and an even larger crowd growing behind him.

A small part of me wanted to warn Kirk of what was coming, but this was truly out of my hands, and firmly in Patrick's. As Kirk stepped out of that little box he worked in, I remember him looking so small and insignificant. From Caddy Master to weasel in an instant.

As we all stood in awe, we listened to Patrick verbally destroy him (he had obviously been practicing his cussing intertwined with anatomy), his attack was both relentless and brilliant. This culminated in approximately 40 of us CHEERING AND CLAPPING WILDLY!!!!!!!!

As the dust settled, William Patrick Wallace Quinlan walked slowly into the sunrise. Now jobless, without any money in his pocket, but oh so wealthy with principle, integrity and glory.

I was completely amazed by his fearless leadership that morning. I still am.

I shook his hand as he walked out of the Caddy Shack, I could not thank him enough for defending his brother in such fine fashion. 

Of course, I waited about 15 minutes before I walked down the hill and begged Kirk for my job back.

Looking back now, I think they had those caddy rankings all out of whack. Oh, we did have an Honor Caddy in the family, but it wasn't me.

love, B-caddy

Brian Quinlan

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Inter State Party

The jury is still out, but at this point it looks like a coordinated effort from four states. Graduation, Good Bye, Reunion, and No Reason at all, are reason enough to party. Tampa on the bay is the place to play. Part of my responsibilities for this event in 
November are to work on the music. The word out of Tampa is a boat party. Colleen pictured this boat for me, but I am still uncertain as to its availability for the week of the party. 
It turned out the boat was unavailable, but it didn't make no never mind with our party signature song intact.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Chase Boat

[note: after Patrick's motorcycle accident last September, I was incredibly worried, scouring facebook for a status update, photo or any hopeful news at all. Thankfully, someone initiated an online care journal where Patrick's progress and encouraging thoughts could be added and shared. Brian wrote several entries that made me understand what laughing and crying simultaneously felt like. - CQ]

Written Sep 13, 2011 12:54pm

I remember a few years back when you decided that you were going to paddle the straights of Mackinac. After some discussions about your plan, and your route, I suggested you get a "chase boat" ...just in case someone was to flip or experience some unexpected challenge.

You said, "I don't need any effin' chase boat!" and you were correct. You and your crew made it with little difficulty. Perfect day...perfect friends...perfect experience.

This term is just stuck in my mind today. Chase boat. 

There have been hundreds, if not thousands, of times you have affected others and helped them through a difficult time by being their chase boat. You, my brother, don't need a chase boat, because you ARE a chase boat. You will be needed again and again to fill this role for your friends and family....we are here for you now, and we know you will be there for us in the future!

(I did peel a $20 out of your fanny pack at the hospital. You said you would pay me back this week - you did!)

 Brian Quinlan

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Don't Take Your Guns to Thompsons

When the Quinlan Clan first moved to town, Keego  Harbor to be exact, the main game with our new neighbors directly across from our house was kick the can. The equipment wasn't expensive and easy to replace if it was damaged. Joseph William (Joe) was in elementary school at the time.

Further down the street lived the Thompsons. Being an adventurer, Joe would walk down the road and play with them, even though they were somewhat older. One summer day, when Joe was walking back, it appeared something had run amuck, perhaps foul play. Cowboy guns were twisted around, hair messed up, but still singing a Johnny Cash tune he loved:

  Don't take your guns to Thompsons
  Leave your guns at home Bill 

His lyrics were skewed, but the meaning 


Wednesday, August 8, 2012


Butch (John David) was an original. No birthday, no anniversary today, just a little story.  Once, driving through the city of Pontiac, we were stopped at a red light. Three well dressed, pretty ladies, were on that same corner. They were very intent on watching the light change above their heads so they could hurry across the street. When the light changed, they bolted. Butch, in one fluid movement, opened his door, and leaned his seat forward. Two of them tumbled in the back seat and immediately started to laugh. A few jokes later, they were on their way, released on their own cognizance, but with an altered view of the urban landscape.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

G2 Iron Man

Patrick reappeared with an apocalyptic aura. Walking the streets of town, black staff in hand, backpack in place, determination etched on his face, surfacing as though  a coma of one hundred and eleven days hadn't slowed his pace. 
When I caught up to him at the farmers market, it was as Knute Rockne would testify, "Back to the Basics". He was so thankful for his family, and everyone's prayers. Farther on, he went on to describe how he saw his mother and a Carpenter during these 111 days. When he asked the Carpenter a question, the Carpenter just nodded at the ocean. As his dad explained earlier, "Patrick has been places we'll never be."

Monday, July 9, 2012

B.Q.'s Birthday

I just found this and decided to repost it. I realize his birthday was a month ago, but he never paid much attention to timelines, so I think this is ok.

He is known to many as B.Q., Tubby, or Duke.
And to three of us, he's known as dad.

Happy Birthday Dad.

Thank you for raising me with the grit to get through this. I have cried a lot over the last few months, and I really miss our talks, and our phone conversations while I drove to work. And some days, I don't feel strong at all. I feel ill equipped to take on one more day.

But then I remember how you're pain free now. Served your country that in my opinion, didn't return the favor. But you didn't even wait to be drafted. You ran in, while others did their best to run away.

And I thank you for your service. Vietnam did what it could to wreck you, and you spent the rest of your life picking up those pieces, when I'm sure it would have been easier to run.

Here's a few things I want to share with you today.

1. I came to work today. I really wanted to stay home. Or huddle up on a bar stool. I can't promise I won't do that later. But, you'd never begrudge any one a good time, so I know you understand.

2. I appreciate you never making anything cliche. Instead of calling me your little girl, you always called me your little goil. And you're the only person who ever called me goil.

3. Thanks for giving me your wit, your humor.

4. Thank you for the sharing the gift of your story telling.

5. Thanks for the large Irish family that just won't go away. :) Even when you tell them you want to be alone, and just can't make this year's family reunion.

6. Thank you for our amazing nuclear family. A fantastically quirky, artistic and fun mom, who raised us to be good people, and two brothers who would kick any one's ass, who tried to harm me in any way. And to you, for always insisiting your kids were polite, well groomed, and well mannered.

7. Thank you for sending me to grad school which lead me to this job. A job that lets me show up later than most, and while here, I'm paid to write. Sure, I'm writing in a blog right now, instead of writing about Lincoln, but it's because of you that I'm here.

8. Thank you for the tea parties. That's a special dad that will sit with his daughter and drink gallons of imaginary tea.

9. Thank you for all the generous gifts over the years. It was never about the material items for you. I know you just loved to share the wealth, after growing up poor, you wanted your children to have nice things.

10. Thank you for instilling in me, a sense of survival. Perhaps ironic writing that on your first posthumous birthday, but it's true. You survived Vietnam and seven years of cancer. I think that fighting spirit, was passed down to me.

As a baby born at just over six months, doctors all said I would die.
I remember you telling me the story a few years ago.
How you wanted to give me a name, Kelly Rose, so that I would know that somebody was figthing for me.

The torch has been passed. I'm fighting to win the grief battle every day.

Happy Birthday to the original fighter.
The Might Quinn, indeed.

Your loving daughter,
Kelly Rose.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Every great car...

...deserves a photo shoot:

Saturday, June 16, 2012


Brian quit drinking for seventeen years. Quite an accomplishment for anyone, but the triple crown for anyone of Irish extraction. During this time period, he was pulled over by a police officer who wished to know why he had swerved on the road. Satisfied, after questioning, that he wasn't drinking, the officer asked one final confirming question, "Can I look in the cooler" which lay in the back of the pickup truck. "Sure",  Brian said knowing what it contained, and added, "Would you mind bringing me up a water when you're back there?" The officer was miffed, but complied.
The officer, through no fault of his own, had apparently missed one of Hope's debriefings to the final quadrant of the dozen she raised. "Beware of born again Christians and recovering alcoholics."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Pa's Car

Grandpa showed up in the early afternoon to visit Hope and Bill and discuss farming. They never seemed pleased to see him. Grandma would head for the house and Grandpa would head for the milk house. I don't know what they talked about, but they pointed at different fields. Grandpa seemed to know a lot about fertilizer, seeds, and horses. Bill hated horses. They never stayed 'til dark because Grandpa didn't trust the lights on the '37 Ford and Croswell was a country far away without a license to get there. When Grandpa started his car he held the accelerator to the floor. As the car filled up with blue smoke, He would slowly ease the clutch out, partially. He was slow to embrace technology. The Ford garage in Croswell had an engine in stock for him and would install a new one every year. We kids stood as close as we could waving goodbye, hoping he would come back. Hope and Bill would return to their tasks.

- Mike

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The Conversation

Yesterday, when I visited Patrick in the hospital, we had a great conversation. As I walked up to the door that was partially open, I read the caveats on the door sill. "Please talk softly, don't upset him, etc." all of the precautions that one might expect with a brain injured patient. Through the crack in the door, I could see him smiling as he was talking to a lady that had been reading beside his bed. As Patrick introduced this lady, I had the feeling that I had stepped into the Academy Awards as his praise for her was so profuse.

"Hi, Unc, good to see you, are you just passing through?"
"No, actually Patrick, I came to see you."

He looked good with his dark beard and shaved head as he lay there in bed eating the finger food for lunch with his fingers.

"They feed me all the time here, but that isn't what I need most. I need to get to the Lighthouse, so I can do some rehab to help myself get better. Tomorrow, they are moving me there."
"Wow, that is great!"

Patrick quickly shifted the conversation, and I felt like I was being interviewed. "Still live on the river? How is the Mrs? How is that job going?" His humor was shining through, but the last question left me in a quandary. I retired a couple years back, and this question along with some other ones made me realize that Patrick's memory of the last couple of years was a bit scant. What should I do so as not to disturb him with this new information, but still tell the truth. I replied, "Ya, I retired. Spontaneous move, didn't give it much thought, but I'm glad I did it."

Patrick's follow up, "What do you do with all of your down time?"
"I haven't worked on Christmas music for many years, but I am now working on compiling a Christmas CD"
"Great, would you make me one?"
"I'll make the first one for you."

As the conversation took other turns, "How is the Mrs." again, I can see that Patrick is doing his standup comic routine, even though he is laying flat on his back. Then he said, "I have to go to sleep now, cause I need my rest." We finish up the conversation and I depart.

As I drive back, I really hope that Patrick will be moving to the Lighthouse today and that it isn't just wishful thinking on his part. Later, the lady at the laundry mat confirmed this fact. There have been three fund raisers for him and he is a celebrity in at least two counties, if not more.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

What Kind?

In the sixties, the western branch of the Milford Quinlans lived at the end of Arrow View. This road was so bad that a veritable pond covered the road almost year around, just down from the house. Visiting "The King" and his family was quite a venture.

The oldest two boys, Michael Patrick and Patrick Michael, often played together in the same playpen. Patrick was very verbal and I believe could talk, long before he could walk. This is an example of the dialogue of a particular game at the time.

Michael: "Dogs can't do that!"
Patrick: "That's the kind of dog I am!"

Patrick is now fighting for his life after a motorcycle accident. I would like to say not only what a great human being you are, but many people are praying for your recovery.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Abby Normal

My dad Tony, hands down, is the quirkiest individual I know. Oh, sure, it's funny when, once a year, he cancels his phone, internet and cable services. Any idea how frustrating that is for his drunk-dialing descendants living in different states?

I called to harass after receiving his "preparing to disconnect" email, and was eventually able to leave a voicemail (after dialing a series of previous phone numbers), "How do you expect me to be normal* when you set this kind of example? Huh?"

*which is funny, actually, because I've never been a big fan of normal. It seems like a synonym for boring. 

He took my message and transferred it to his portable voice recorder, to serve as a reminder - go normal! Am I the tiny voice of reason in his life?

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Day o' Fathers

"There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself." ~ John Gregory Brown

(*click on the photo to make it larger)

Friday, June 17, 2011

Mo Ghile Mear (My Hero)

Its that time of the year again. Its almost Fathers Day again. Im extremly thankful to of had a father like mine. Even though he's not with us anymore, the lessons that he taught me will last forever. He taught me to always treat women with respect and love. I also learned that it is okay to show your emotions. Not only did I learn everything i know from him, he also helped me become who I am today. My dad came to every band concert, wrestiling meet, football game, play and track meet. Whenever i succeeded at something, he acted like I had just won the Medal Of Honor. I always knew that he would be watching me preform. With him in the stands, it made me push myself that much harder. Every time i saw him in the stands, I always ran that much faster and wresteled that much harder. Never did he ever miss a day of work, a house payment or a car payment. We never went hungry even though he might of. He was honestly the best father I could ever wish for.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Shirt

Now there are many great things about the Quinlan Family. One thing is their story telling ability. But I think that one of the most endering qualities, is that they are more then willing to give you the shirt off of their backs. It reminds me of one of my favirote memories of my Uncle Tony. It was back when we still owned our cano livery in Roscommon. One of the yearly traditions that my dad and I participated in was, almost every weekend we would go up north on Friday night. When we would get there, my dad would order a large pizza and an order of hot wings. At about that time my dad would go over to my Uncle Tony's place, which was literaly maybe two miles down the road. They would sit around and shoot the breeze while having a few beers. While they were doing their thing, I would be at our cabin, eating pizza and watching T.V. Well one of the times, my dad and Uncle Tony were doing their thing, Uncle Tony was wearing this T-shirt that said "Why Cloning Should Be Illegal." Above that was a dozen pictures of one of Three Stooges. When my dad saw this he said something to the effect of, "Man, that is something that Connor would love." So with out a further word, Uncle Tony took the shirt and gave it to my dad. To this very day, I still have that very same shirt and I still wear it. To this day, every time I see that shirt, I cant help but think of my dad and Uncle Tony and what a cool family i have.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Actual Wedding Picture of Skeet & Jenee'

Beautiful wedding, happy couple, new little family!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"What'd the five fingers say to the face?"

SLAP. Now that’s something that Rick James would say. My nephew, Rick Collins, on the other hand would say something along the lines of ‘Keepsin’ it reals’. I’ve never encountered another human being capable of so many name changes in such a short amount of time.

At the mere age of seven he grew tired of his birth given name, and decided he wanted everyone to call him “Flint” (this was his grandfather’s nickname on the track team). Flint had a ring to it, but not enough of a chime to carry him through middle school. Seeming a bit more established, he let go of the name Flint, and decided to go by ‘Rodney’. Always being a revolutionist of sorts, my nephew was a head of the game in so many ways. No sense walking this planet having people call you by anything other than your absolute favorite name. He was highly aware that his destiny was in his own hands.

Fickle to some, but a genius to me, he went back to his roots and let go of the name Rodney. Well, a form of his roots, and started to go by the name Rick. I’m sure his teachers couldn’t deny the logic in Rick being short for Patrick. Where in the spelling of Richard do you see Rick? If you’re going to shorten your name, and ‘go by’ something else, the reasonable etiquette should be… just cutting your name in half.

It would have been nice to have a ‘Rick Collins’ pave the way for me. I was abnormally envious of those kids, who corrected the teachers during roll call. They all seemed so smug, and why were they “so cool” to “go by” something other than their actual name. In reality it was just a club I wanted to belong to. At the age of seven, my nephew decided to topple this club and make it his own. He was able to fine-tune the rules, as he grew older, and extend its membership to his peers. I like to think he gave the David’s of Enterprise High School complete confidence in saying, “It’s not David; I go by ‘Vid”

The artist, formally known as ‘Rick Collins, is now going by RC Collins. I’m guessing college has broadened his horizons to this name game, making it clear that initials are yours for the taking as well. I’m not sure if the formula is as simple as previous name changes, merely cutting the name into half. It appears you just take the initials of your first and last name, move them once to the left, and re-add your last name for flair. VoilĂ . And there you have it. Seriously, how much cooler does TQ Quinlan sound? (Maybe the world viewed Albert Einstein’s Aunt a bit wacky as she went around talking about how great E=MC² was, but who's laughing now?)

Today RC Collins turns 21, and has already shown the world, that you can be whomever it is you choose. If you want to be of Russian descent, then so be. If you want your name to be Rodney, then so be. As Cat Steven's would say "you can do what you want, the opportunity's on." I for one am excited to see what other revolutions that RC has in-store. I know it's impossible to duplicate one of the best, but this world could use more cats like him. Keepsin' it reals' 24/7.

(Side note: I would have played a more 'crunked song to dedicate to you on your birthday - but these lyrics have one of your names written all over it.)

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Dudas, Do Dat

[I originally posted this in my own blog in 2007, and several commenters noted our similar leaning posture. I hope to eventually steal her walk].

Tall (5'9"), lanky, and naturally thin, my mother eats more than any other woman I've ever known (my dad is the same way, but did they pass those stellar metabolisms down to moi?? Of course not.). She had a baby a year after I did, when she was forty-two and her energy level makes me wonder if she found the secret fountain of youth (if that's the case, I plan on aging badly, thankyouverymuch). My mother is a goddess and today is her birthday.

Although she's extremely intelligent, kicks ass at all things mathematical, has memorized bridge hands for the past 20 years, and has flawless grammar skills, she is still able to embrace her inner fruitloop. When I was an angst-ridden teen, these idiosyncrasies would annoy me because I always wanted her to be serious. And Martha Stewart, dammit. Years later, however, these are traits I find most endearing:

Her odd medical mystery tendancies, like watches breaking from her electromagnetic energy? And the fact that she was hypoglycemic until she gave birth (now she's fine), or that she gets asthma if she stops smoking. Mosquitos never bite her and perfume turns rancid because of..too much vitamin B?

She would, and still does, stare at me in the car, drying my hair, while talking on the phone..."you're so beautiful," she'd say, "I can't believe I gave birth to you." Now that I'm older with my own son, I see this for the true psychological torture method it is.

She would laugh, especially in public with my aunt Susie. Gleeful, uninhibited, loud laughter that mortified me to no end. Now when we're in a quiet pub or at home, I'm proud to be sharing a space with someone so capable of expressing joy.

We'd be having a conversation, or so I would assume, when her end of it would suddenly stop. Thinking that the was the end of the discussion, I'd retreat back to my head...covering a range of several other thoughts when she would respond to the intial conversation. "Yes, I think so, too." Uh...huh? What?

Every time she pulled the car into the driveway, she' d say, "Honey, we're home." Every. Single. Time. In my head, I'd be yelling, "Duhhhhhhhhh, where else would we be?" (because I was obnoxious like that), and it makes me laugh now when I still hear her say it.

One year, I saved my allowance for several weeks to buy her a "hot to trot" keychain because I thought it meant she was beautiful. Happy Birthday, mom, and I still think you're beautiful!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good Irish Women

"Here's to good Irish women. May we know them, may we raise them, may we be them."

In honor of St. Patrick's Day, I took a second look at this quote. For a moment I realized why every woman in the Quinlan family has a decoration of some sort starting that very thing. When I think of good women, I think of Quinlan women... and they so happen to be Irish.

Before I start my mushy gushy rant, my disclaimer is that just because I'm only talking about how wonderful the women are, doesn't mean the men aren't too. I happen to be female, so they get the blog for the day. Plus it is mostly the wonderful Irish women of my family reading this blog!

What does being a "good Irish woman" mean?
It means that when your Godson needs to come home, the United States Marine Corps doesn't stand a chance against you.
It means you move across the country to chase your dreams and take chances.
It means you house nieces and nephews while they get on their feet or before their mother's want to cut off their feet.
It means at 60 you are still plotting cross country trips.
It means you cry when you want to cry and you don't wear a bra if you don't want to.
It means you raise your kids, or your nieces and nephews with pride, humor and love.
It means you get kicked out of hotels in Las Vegas for laughing too loud.
It means you publish books, read poetry, make quilts, craft cards & produce movies.
It means you still have weekend long sleepovers with your sisters.
It means you protect the virtue of the ones who can't on their own.
It means you travel hours across two states to attend a funeral of a man you met once or twice because you wanted to be there for people you loved.
You teach, you empower, you tell it like it is, you cook for your family, you laugh at things that aren't even that funny, you wear purple.

Being a good Irish woman means you take risks, love until it hurts, and always, always, always look after one another.

Each aunt, cousin, sister & mother in my family took a part in raising this Irish woman. I have had the honor of growing up around good, strong, powerful women. I know them, they've raised me and therefore I can only hope to be one like them.

** I originally just wrote this for my own blog, but when I realized no one wrote something representin' the Quinlan's on St. Patrick's Day-- I had to spread the love. So if you read this on my blog, sorry for the repeat, but SOMEBODY has to pick up the slack on here ;)