HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | AUGUST 2016 | Coming soon!

July marked the first month of my HUMANS OF THE PFISTER (HOTP) series.  The theme: Life, Liberty, & Happiness.

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This second month of HOTP will focus on augustly stories of guests and visitors to The Pfister Hotel–of which there are sure to be plenty.

As a preview of what’s to come, look for tales inspired by the etymology of our eighth month:

august (adj.)
1660s, from Latin augustus “venerable, majestic, magnificent, noble,” probably originally “consecrated by the augurs, with favorable auguries” (see augur(n.)); or else “that which is increased” (see augment).
  • Who is the most venerable, majestic, magnificent, and/or noble person you have known?
  • When have you felt the most “consecrated by the augurs”?
  • When have you felt the most “increase”?
augur (n.)
1540s, from Latin augur, a religious official in ancient Rome who foretold events by interpreting omens, perhaps originally meaning “an increase in crops enacted in ritual,” in which case it probably is from Old Latin *augos (genitive *augeris) “increase,” and is related to augere “increase” (see augment). The more popular theory is that it is from Latin avis “bird,” because the flights, singing, and feeding of birds, along with entrails from bird sacrifices, were important objects of divination (compare auspicious). 
  • When have you felt like the cards were in your favor, like the stars were aligning, etc.?
  • When did you interpret a “sign” of some sort and act upon it, for better or for worse?
augment (v.)
c. 1400, from Old French augmenter “increase, enhance” (14c.), from Late Latin augmentare “to increase,” from Latin augmentum “an increase,” from augere “to increase, make big, enlarge, enrich,” from PIE root *aug- (1) “to increase” (source also of Sanskrit ojas “strength;” Lithuanian augu “to grow,” aukstas “high, of superior rank;” Greek auxo “increase,” auxein “to increase;” Gothic aukan “to grow, increase;” Old English eacien “to increase”). 
  • When have you felt the most “enlarged,” the most “enriched”?
  • How did you become the august person that you are?
auspicious (adj.)
1590s, “of good omen” (implied in auspiciously), from Latin auspicium “divination by observing the flight of birds,” from auspex (genitive auspicis) + ous
  • Have you ever had an epiphany?  A time when the lightbulb lit up?

 

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | JULY 2016 | Continued

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It’s all about connectivity.  For example, the local urban agricultural scene.  It’s not just about growing food in urban settings.  The real essence of it is individuals and communities taking back ownership of their lives through local employment, creating a community system that feeds itself, literally and figuratively.  It’s about creating conditions for this to flourish, which can catalyze and create unforeseen values.  The old urban planning model is B.S.  If we give people the means to take care of their immediate needs, then all kinds of unforeseen values can arise from that.  If we create incentives so that people can figure out how to help themselves, then everyone can be free to breathe and create.

You can’t PLAN that, you can’t ENGINEER that.  And that’s coming from an engineer.

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | JULY 2016 | Continued

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More than anything, I treasure my friendships.  I love taking care of my girlfriends.  I’m married, and I love him, and that’s all fine and dandy.  But as you get older, you need your friends more and more.  When you’re in your 20’s, you think and talk about stupid shit.  I mean, we’re not talking about deep things all the time, but you know what I mean.  I love to laugh with them, tell a good, funny story–things that are really living and that are new experiences.  One thing I really love to do is bike with my girlfriends (I’m a member of the advanced cycling team Velo Femmes).  They make me happy.  And to me, happiness is a state of freedom, of being unencumbered, with no stress, free of worry and life’s pressures.

I think I felt the most free when I stopped giving a shit what people thought.  I’m not an ass or anything, but I just stopped caring what society thought I should be, what people said about my age, all the compartments people wanted to put me into.  I just don’t care anymore, which has been so freeing.  And I also stopped judging other people, which is a good thing.  I’m interested in making myself happy instead of relying on others to make me happy.  I have confidence in my own skin.

There are so many horrible things happening in this world right now: random people being shot by the police, random police shootings, kids getting killed.  It makes all the little things we worry about pale in comparison.

In the end, I want people at my funeral to say good things about me not just to say good things–but because I was a good person.

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | JULY 2016 | Continued

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This woman is a state legislator from North Dakota.  She and her husband were enjoying some sit-at-the-bar time after a long week for her at a Council of State Governments conference.

We are happiest when we travel.  We were in Dublin this spring, and this fall, we’re going to Iceland then London.  One of our favorite places was Seattle.  I [Mike] particularly loved the Boeing airplane exhibit.  My dad flew a B-17, so being able to get on a real B-17 and crawl around on it, sit where he sat–it’s a magnificent plane–was pretty incredible.

We’ve traveled in groups many times, but as we got older, we got used to just traveling together.  We learned how to adjust to each others’ schedules, think about someone else’s feelings, things like that.  We do a good pace, we think.

When we travel, we really are sit-at-the-bar people.  We meet the most interesting people, some of whom become good friends.  We’re able to suggest things that strangers might like–and just have a good time.

We’re both retired teachers, so travel always had to happen in the summer.  But now . . .

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The photo is a little blurry, but this is the one she liked.  It captures her youthful spirit, which emerged as she talked about her independence.  When I saw her, she was sitting alone, reading the newspaper, her expression inscrutable.  I couldn’t tell if she was going to welcome my company. 

I am happiest when I travel to a new city and I get to figure out how to navigate it, use the mass transit, and such.  When I travel, I’m almost always on my own, which makes me feel independent and strong.

My first trip was–I was only 20 or 21–when I went to New York City.  I was working at the time.  I didn’t finish college.  I didn’t drop out, though–back then, they called it “stopping college.”  Most people who “stopped” college planned on going back after they “found themselves.”  But once I started working and the money started coming in (I was never rich, of course), it got comfortable.  There was a documentary on in the 60s about elderly people who didn’t have enough to eat–and I remember telling myself that I didn’t want to be poor when I got older.  So, anyways: all my friends had just graduated from college, and they didn’t have a lot of money.  I figured that I could either wait to go to NYC until they had some money or–so I just went.

I never got married.  I was born independent.  In fact, I had my fortune told by a psychic once.  My mother was deceased, but the psychic saw her and my mother told her, “She’s always been independent, even as a little child.”

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | JULY 2016 | Continued

Two buddies from college in Indiana attended a wedding of a friend at the Milwaukee Art Museum this past weekend.  They both spoke about the happiest moments in their lives.  Guess which one is which. 🙂

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Brian:

People think I’m the ‘Wedding Grinch.’  But the happiest day of my life was calling my wedding off 17 days before the date.  I saved her life and my own in the process.  That’s why I always have a smile on my face.  I love my independence: I have my family, my friends.

What’s funny is that I had my bachelor party planned from the time I was 7.  All I knew is that it was going to be in Las Vegas and that money wasn’t going to be an option.   I didn’t know, of course, about Scarface or women or any extracurriculars.  I just wanted it to be fun.  And when my buddy Matt offered to help, as best man, I told him, ‘Don’t worry.  I got it.’  

I’m the life of the party.  I danced the night away with a 7-year-old at the wedding this weekend.  We’re buddies for life now.  But happiness is not identifiable only with weddings.

Matt:

The happiest day of my life?  Well, I got married in November.  The wedding day was great, but the engagement was better.  It’s all about the preparation and the anticipation.

So I bought a ring right around Thanksgiving and called my parents–my dad started crying.  I wanted to ask her parents’ permission, thinking I could wait until the next holiday, like Christmas.  But my mother told me, ‘No, you’re doing this now.  This week.’  So I flew from L.A. to San Francisco on the following Monday, making up a story to my girlfriend that I was on a business trip, emailing her parents to tell them that I was going to be in their neighborhood.  I’m pretty sure they knew I was going to ask for permission to marry their daughter, but they didn’t say anything.  I did, then proposed two weeks later.

Her dad and mom had been in a long-distance relationship like ours, except the reverse: she was in L.A. and he was in San Francisco.  He had brought her down to the beach to propose, but it started raining and she didn’t want to get out of the car.  So he proposed to her in the car.  I brought my girlfriend to the same beach and proposed to her there–successfully.  My father-in-law still jokes about how the next generation makes up for the mistakes of the previous one.

Today is actually the anniversary of our first date.

Brian had to leave for the airport, so we departed, and within minutes, Amy appeared in search of food.  “I’ll have the burger,” she told Val, barely having scanned the menu.  “I just got here from the airport.  I’m very hungry.”  I took a risk and bugged her as she waited for her food.  We both discovered, however, that we could have talked for much longer; she barely touched her burger until I left.  (I won’t lie.  It was partly that we discovered we were both Eurasian, she Chinese-Sicilian, me Japanese-Calabrian.)  Amy offered a different perspective on relationships and marriage than Brian or Matt.

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I waited a long time to get married.  My husband kept trying and trying and trying.  When I lost my mom–I took care of her for four years–I told her on her deathbed that I didn’t want to get married or have kids.  I wanted to travel and . . . When I think of freedom, I think of travel, of having choices.  Dancing, too–that’s being free.

I finally agreed to get married.  But I was firm from the first date: “No kids.”  There’s a social stigma surrounding this, though.  People might say you’re selfish.  From the perspective of overpopulation, I think I’m being rather green by not bringing another person into this world ‘just because.’  I’m making a choice not to become a mother.  There are obviously many women who choose to become moms, but what about people like me who don’t want to give into social norms?

People have told me, ‘You’re not a woman.’  But a female shouldn’t be defined by her ability to bear children.  I want to be able to wake up every day and not have to take care of another human.  I mean, maybe when I’m old and all alone and wondering why there’s no one around to take care of me, but . . . for now, it’s my choice.

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | JULY 2016 | Continued

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HUMANS OF THE PFISTER

JULY 2016 EDITION

When do you feel most alive?  

When do you feel the freest?  

How do you pursue happiness?  

Feel free to send me a photo and an anecdote (more questions here) to hotelnarrator@gmail.com!

The following letter was sent to me by Marie Foote, who divides her time between San José, Costa Rica, and Denver:

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“Hello Dominic,

“I grabbed your flyer from the 23rd floor of The Pfister Hotel–what a
fabulous idea to tell the stories of those of us who have been touched
by its historic & modern charms!

As I write this out, I am currently en route from Milwaukee to Chicago
with my husband and two children. We are happy Denverites, serving in
a coffee business and ministry in San José, Costa Rica. It just so
happens that we are family reunion-hopping this week (a grand total of
3, yes, THREE reunions!), before we wing our way to Costa Rica, to
renew our two year residency status so our work can continue.

“We had plans, initially, to stay at another hotel in the Milwaukee
area, but after our first night there, we realized that the atmosphere
–ahem, other obnoxious guests–would not be the cohabitants with
whom we’d love to share the next two days! So, we canceled our
reservation there and chose to stay at the Pfister. It was one of the
best gifts we could have been given this week! Every interaction we
had with the staff resulted in us feeling as though we were the only
people they were serving the entire time. The Pfister serves with
excellence and pleasure . . . and left us aching for more time there
than our two splendid days!

“You asked what my happiest memory has been . . . when I’ve felt fully
alive. That ‘moment,’ for me, has been a conglomeration of several
memories from the last 12 years, since we first held our daughter in
our arms. All of the moments, pieced together into one grand story of
love, are moments which include the three people who complete me the
most:

My husband, Jordan, my best friend and unfailing servant-companion
for 19 years; we have laughed and cried together on many international
journeys.

Our daughter, Megan, adopted since birth, who sprinkles a multitude
of drawings on scraps of paper in every corner of our world–her
artistic signature sealing a life-letter full of chatter, song and
compassion.

Our son, Micah, also adopted since birth, who can entertain a
roomful of incredulous adults with his Wikipedia-esque recitation of
random facts or humorous quips, and yet would rather eat a chocolate
donut with his Dad than do just about anything else.

Whether serving others in a tropical capital city, far from our
homeland, or receiving the gift of refreshment in a luxury hotel near
Lake Michigan, these three fellow travelers are the means by which God
gives me the strength to face each day, no matter what may come.
Living as an expat missionary in another culture is, at times, the
most trying task we have been given and yet, the joys which call to us
through every trial make every step worth the struggle. We have become
a family who travels well together, lives well together, loves well.

With them, traveling the world, I am fully alive.”

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Here we are, in our living area on our last night at The Pfister (July 5, 2016), playing with our Mac’s Photo Booth app. Megan and I are in the robes provided by the hotel, after a late night snack from the lobby restaurant. The additional photos sum up who are in 3 snapshots. While the quality of the photos will never win an award, the “moments” they captured memorialize our side-splitting laughter and giddiness, for the joy of simply being together, without a care in the world. –Maria

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER | JULY 2016 | Continued

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HUMANS OF THE PFISTER

When do you feel most alive?  

When do you feel the freest?  

How do you pursue happiness?  

Feel free to send me a photo and an anecdote (more questions here) to hotelnarrator@gmail.com

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.48.09 AM“I feel most alive when I’m at my peak, with my home life, my love life, my work life.  And also with my wealth.  I don’t mean just monetary wealth.  It’s also my personal wealth, the things I value, the laurels I have–and then staying true to those things.  I feel most alive when I’m doing things the right way and things are working out.”

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“I feel most alive when I feel like I’m making a progression, moving forward.  Otherwise, I’m at a standstill.  I measure myself to see how I’m progressing.  It’s not an ‘envy’ kind of measurement.  But I’m only twenty and I feel like I’m behind.  We’re all born with different cards.  Some people get aces, kings, or queens.  Others get deuces, two’s, or three’s.  I just want to feel like I have a nice strong deck in my hands.”

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Her: “I am the happiest when I get to watch my husband find his happiness.  He’s a closet rock star who never pursued that part of his life.  Luckily, though, we live in Madison and there’s a band called The Gomers who play what’s called ‘Gomeroke.'”

Him: “How lucky am I?” (referring to his wife, with whom he was celebrating their 28th anniversary) “I do feel so happy when I’m on that stage.  It doesn’t matter what song you want to sing, they’ll play it.  And if you’re singing off-key, they’ll change the key.  If you forget the words, they’ll fill in for you.  And the best part is coming down from that stage to join my wife and friends.  This was like my therapy at times.”

Her: “Sometimes magic happens on that stage–I cried when he sang Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game.’  And sometimes people are pretty bad, but it doesn’t matter.  The band will just smile and keep playing, and we’ll all celebrate the fact that they got on that stage.  And me, I’m a doo-wop girl, a roadie, who’s there to help everyone shine.”

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 11.47.23 AM“My country song would be a happy adventure song, fully of travel, sunshine, and good people.  I really foresee more travel for me in the future.  My cousin and I have been talking about going to Cape Cod, the east coast, next.  And Greece has been on my European bucket list for awhile.”

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“My country song would be kind of like my cousin’s: full of sunshine, warm weather, and water.  And there’d be a little love story.  But definitely a beach, because it lightens you, frees you.  Ooo…it’s invigorating to me.”

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“We love coming downtown and staying at The Pfister.  We live out in Sussex, but we still come down, even though lots of people out there would say we’re crazy going all that way.  We used to live on 89th and Center in Milwaukee before we moved to Sussex.  And when we first moved, our four-year-old daughter would cry: ‘It’s too quiet, mom.  Where are the sirens?  And where are the sidewalks?  And the street lights?’  It would be dead silent.  But you know what?  She got used to it.  And loves it.”

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“My wife has some health problems and so we’re part of a support group.  So many people are dying, so I try to lighten things up.  I write a monthly, 18-page newsletter.  I can put whatever the hell I want in it.  There are a lot of jokes, of course.  And this month I’ll have a quote from Patrick Henry: ‘Give me liberty or give me death.’  There will be a Beauty of Nature section with a beautiful bird.  And an Everybody Needs Somebody section with pictures of people with their dogs.  An Aunty Acid section.  Features about special people, like the one about the police commissioner of Chicago, and excerpts from caregiver journals.  I’ll send you a copy of the latest newsletter.”

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Him: “I’m the most alive when I’m listening to live music.  I get emotional.  So I try to go wherever the music is: Jazz Fest, Newport, Austin, here for Summerfest.  Wherever.  Even last night, at the Johnson Control stage–their whole focuse was on emerging artists, we got to hear Peter Bjorn.  Me being fifty-six, I’ve never heard of them before, but it was like Swedish pop heaven; everyone was singing at the top of their lungs.  I got–I get–very verklempt; I feel a connection.  I mean, life is about dancing and singing.  They’re the two biggest cures for illness.  If we don’t live, then we’re not accomplishing anything, right?”

Her: “We just watched a documentary about China and Samoa and global warming.  A woman in the film was saying that there has to be a shift in our moral imagination if we’re to fix things and be happy.  She asked, ‘What do you want to do as a human being?  You’re an adult.  You have to make a human choice for yourself.  You need the personal satisfaction that you’re doing something morally right for yourself and the world.  Imagine, then, where you want to be morally, as a moral person.”

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER Teaser (Guess the Human!)

HUMANS OF THE PFISTER

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I met some fun Humans today at Blu and the Lobby Lounge.

I’m preparing their stories for the next installment of HUMANS OF THE PFISTER (HOTP): LIFE, LIBERTY, & HAPPINESS,

but for now, here’s a preview of their beautiful faces.

Can you guess which of these HOTP said the following?

a. “I feel most alive when I’m at my peak, with my home life, my love life, my work life.”

b. “I just want to feel like I have a nice strong deck of cards in my hands.”

c. “Singing with the band was like my therapy.”

d. “My country song would be an adventure song, with travels, sunshine, and good people.”

e. “Our daughter was four years old when we moved from Milwaukee to Sussex.  At first, she’d cry and say, ‘It’s too quiet, mom.  Where are the sirens?’  She got used to it.”

f. “I’m a doo-wop girl.  Or a roadie.  I like to help people shine.”

g. “I love the beach because it lightens you, frees you, and oooh, it’s invigorating to me!”

h. “Life is about dancing and singing.  They’re the two biggest cures for illness.  If we don’t live, we’re not accomplishing anything.”

i. “I try to lighten things up.  I write a monthly newsletter–18 pages long–for the support group.”

j. “We just watched a documentary about how we need a ‘shift in our moral imagination,’ so that we can have personal satisfaction that we’re doing something morally right, that we’re doing what we want to do as human beings.”