Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Production

Norwalk, CT

The cup sat on a table in our bedroom for weeks. Marked with a biohazard symbol and a lid sealed with a sticker, the cup was a constant reminder of the inevitable. Like getting my wisdom teeth removed, or getting a colonoscopy, I was putting this off for as long as possible. I was hoping for fate to make some adjustments in the form of a smiley face on a stick in our bathroom. But with each month that ticked away, my meeting with the cup was becoming a reality.

They use the term "produce" to describe the process, as if I were financing a movie or recording a pop-star's album. I could "produce" in their office, or at home with the knowledge that I'd have to get my work to their office in Greenwich in less than 20 minutes. Frankly, as an artist, I didn't want to work under that kind of pressure, and getting to the other side of Greenwich during the morning rush wasn't going to happen in that time frame. I opted for the former.

When I was a kid, the dentist would let us dive through a cardboard treasure chest to pick out a prize after a successful appointment. My mom would take us to get ice cream after our yearly physicals, or donuts after a trip to the orthodontist. This would be different. The only prize I could hope for was leaving with whatever scrap of dignity I had left.

I brought Lindsey along for moral support, thinking having her in the room might provide some guidance. As soon as we entered the office, the receptionist gave me a smile filled with a delicate and knowing element of "we both know exactly why you're here." We were escorted into a small room with a chair where ... and this is not exaggeration ... Lindsey said, "Yeah, you got this. I'm out," and left so quickly, it was like a Looney Tunes cartoon where a cloud of smoke was all that remained.

Given instructions along with directions on how to use a circa-1980s VCR, the nurse shut the door and the silence crept in. And in the quiet moments, one's mind tends to wander. I began to think about the things that had been done in this room. The bodily horrors the walls had witnessed...

Suddenly, I didn't want to touch a thing.

As if trying to double down on my anxiety, my mind filled equally with thoughts of time. Too quick and every single person in this office would know. Too slow and people would wonder. The ceiling pushed down toward me and the colors faded to grey.


Gathering my composure, I took a deep breath and exited the room with the cup in my hand. Handing it to the nurse, who, if we're being completely honest here, seemed overly judgmental. The only thing I could muster was, "I'm sorry. I thought there'd be more." She stared at me, half unamused and half disgusted. In a monotonous voice, she asked a series of questions - including if I used the VCR (I didn't) - and finally walked me out to the waiting room. 

There is not a single question that is appropriate to ask at this moment, and Lindsey realized that quickly. We exited the office quickly and went out to the car. 

"So...," she asked hesitantly. I stared straight ahead, wanting nothing more than to get on with my life, but I knew this was going to take time. "How did it go?"

"Oh, you know. Pretty standard. No surprises. The nurse was kind of a jerk."

"Well, I'm proud of you," and with that she patted my head like one would a dog who'd managed not to shit in the house. "We'll get the results shortly."

And like a sledgehammer to a Faberge egg, my spirit broke. The results. For one brief second, I'd forgotten about the results. I didn't want it to be me. I didn't want to be the cause of this. I didn't want it to be Lindsey, but I definitely didn't want it to be me. A nice middle ground would suffice. Too many electronics in my pants pockets. Not wearing a cup during my ribbon dancing routines in high school. Eating too much steak. Something external. 


For the curious, the results came back fine. However, I like to embellish and tell people that the doctor weeped on the phone saying my "production" was like a symphony. That I should be studied. That the secrets of the universe were unlocked in the fractals contained inside that plastic cup. But really, I got nothing more than a thumbs up. And while it wasn't a small toy or a donut, it was enough to make me smile.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Flight Time

Wilton, CT

The water of Flushing Bay turned to a blur. My face was pressed to the window, with the roar of the jet engines concealing my giddy laughter. At five years old, I took my first plane flight and got hooked on aviation. Thundering off the runway at LaGuardia and into the sky toward Chicago, this was the start of my time in the sky.

Admittedly, somewhere between 1990 and 1997, I developed a small fear of flying. It wasn't enough to keep me from flying, but lack of understanding about how and why air travel worked scared me a bit. Whatever fear existed was systematically crushed by weekend flights in and out of Miami to compete in races with my college rowing team. A particularly nasty thunderstorm over Tennessee convinced me if a plane can fly through that, it can fly through anything. Plus, my brother was involved in an air "emergency" somewhere in the Himalayas, which convinced me that fate would strike the same family twice. Now, I can't recall how many flights I've been on this past year, yet alone in my lifetime.

If everything goes according to plan, that number will increase dramatically. Tomorrow, I'm taking an "introductory flight lesson" and hope I enjoy it enough (and can find the cash to take more lessons), that it becomes not just a hobby, but a means of convenient and exciting travel for me. Given as a birthday present from my wife, this was either her way of giving me a chance to try something new, or a great way for her to get some cash from my life insurance.

In preparation, I've watched tons of videos online, read several books, bought aviation magazines, and even flown a few flight simulators. None of these, I'm sure, capture what it feels like to actually guide a vehicle through the wind. But I do expect to have that same unforced giddy laughter that I felt all those years ago when I take to the skies tomorrow.

If you're in the New York Metropolitan area tomorrow, I suggest keeping a constant look out on the skies, and for good measure taping a pillow to your head, there may be giant pieces of metal hurling toward the ground. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

What's in a Name?

Wilton, CT

Introductions were always fun. I'd wait with anticipation to see how someone handled it. More often than not, I was just "Adam" - a safe and Cher-like statement. But every once in a while, I'd watch as the introducer, more than likely a long time friend or colleague, would destroy my last name. I'd get "Urnowski" "Urineski" "Uhnowski" and a barely audible mumble. I don't blame them, "Uhrynowski" is a hard name to pronounce. It's also a hard name to spell. 

My wife Lindsey and I had debated what to do with our last name for a long time. She never changed her name to "Uhrynowski" and I whole heartedly said taking her last name wasn't something I wanted to do. So we had this small, but significant divide between us. We wanted to feel like a family unit, we wanted to share a name, but the options presented to us were less than amazing. 
  • We didn't want to hyphenate. Making a long last name even longer seemed ridiculous.
  • We didn't want to create a combo name such as "Jarbowski." As funny as it is, it was a little odd.
  • We didn't want to insult our families by choosing one name over the other. 
  • And because Lindsey and I are anything but traditional, we decided to think outside the box.
"What if we came up with our own last name? Something that has no meaning to any of our families?" I said, watching Lindsey's eyes start to sparkle with the idea. 

"Something totally new? I love it!" She said.

And so, we began to search for a new last name. Something that met a handful of criteria.
  1. It couldn't reference any of our families for fear of "playing sides."
  2. It had to be easy to say.
  3. It had to be easy to spell.
  4. It had to be short.
  5. We wanted it toward the beginning of the alphabet.
  6. It had to sound good with our names.
We spent a few weeks going back and forth, but finally arrived at our new last name: DRAKE. We sat with it for awhile. We tried to poke holes in it. But nothing we did kept us from really enjoying the name. (Mediocre Canadian rappers aside.) 

It took some time and a lot of paper work, but after almost a year, Lindsey and I are, officially, the Drakes. We understand this is unconventional, it's weird, it's kind of funny, but it's also something that we felt we needed to do in order to bring us even closer together. 

And so that's that. I'll always be a Uhrynowski. I'll always be a Ferguson. But I'll also be a Drake, something I can share forever with the love of my life.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Lights Dim Slowly

Wilton, CT

"I'm not coming back."

With those words, I watched as the stars unhinged themselves and crashed to the ground in shattered pieces of yellow porcelain. And in the nothingness she left behind, the cold black of the abyss, the thundering silence, I found myself with two options. One, stay here floating in the unknown. Two, jump into the void and search for the bottom. Clenching my teeth and closing my eyes, I took the leap and found a world in reverse. Pain became happiness, the end was the beginning, and chaos unspiraled into a straight line.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Ski Videos

Wilton, CT
This winter was horrible, but throughout all its horribleness it managed to be a great winter for skiing. And with that in mind, we hit the slopes and my camera was there to catch it.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Where I've Been

Wilton, CT

I usually sum up the year with numbers, facts, and small anecdotes. This year, I've decided to do something a bit different. This year was remarkable in that I've/we've done an immense amount of traveling. So, instead of talking about the things I've done or how I've done them, I figured I'd show you. Below is a map of all the places I've been to. There are some rules:

  • I had to spend more than a few hours there. For instance, I've driven through Intercourse, PA but haven't spent much time there. As a result, it is not marked on the map.
  • If I've been to a place multiple times (or lived in different areas in one city), it only receives one notation.
  • Green marks indicate a place I've lived.
  • When possible, I've tried to be as accurate as possible in the pin placement.
  • Sadly, I'm sure I've missed a few places along the way.

  • View The Places I've Been in a larger map

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Head of the Charles: 2013

Wilton, CT

After competing in the singles event last year, I was determined to make it back to the grandaddy of all rowing races, the Head of the Charles. This year, on a bet/dare, we managed to put together an 8-man boat, spent many early mornings practicing, and ended up doing quite well at the race. The overly-dramatic video below gives you a view of how it all went down on race day.