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My 2017: In Review

Nag’s Head, North Carolina Outer Banks

“Geology is the study of pressure and time. That’s all it takes really…pressure…and time.” –Andy Dufresne, Shawshank Redemption

Yes. My second favorite quote from one of my favorite movies. The other was the one about choosing to get busy living or get busy dying….advice I once took and ran with some years ago, but that’s another blog post for some other time.

Pressure and time. Pressure is something we directly or indirectly feel everyday. Pressure at work. Pressure at home. Self-imposed pressure, whether merited or unmerited……and of course, time.

Time is such a marvel of perspective. On one hand, while getting out the Christmas decor this past month I kept thinking how it felt as if I just put this stuff away! On the other hand, as I type these words and reflect on the year that was, it certainly feels like some distance has passed since the last time we prepared to ring in the new year.

With time in mind, I wanted to stop and share some of my memories of 2017.

The Four Horsemen

In March I had the pleasure of experiencing a long overdue reunion with some of my greatest friends. Robert Sever, Jon Kulczar, and Kevin Stankiewicz. My three closest friends from high school. Jon and I went on to be college roommates at IU as well. Rob and I stayed in close contact for some years after college. Kevin and I were damn near inseparable during most of our twenties. Then something called our thirties happened. For one reason or another, the four of us went 10 years without being in the same room together. Getting together that day back in March was like shooting right back in time. It was like we were never apart. True friendship man. It stands the test of time. What a great day!

Chris Cornell: RIP May 18, 2017

I don’t normally get all busted up when some famous person I never met or knew dies. Yet when singer/songwriter Chris Cornell took his life last May, busted up was exactly how I felt. I blogged about him back in May, so I won’t say much here, but what a horrible feeling to witness someone of such immense talent and success succumb to the living hell of depression. He’d overcome his personal demons of drug and alcohol addiction years prior. He’d overcome any professional shortcomings in his music career and was back with his great band. His family life was in order, with a loving wife and beautiful children. Despite all that…….I guess there’s pressure and time. The two were apparently more than Chris could bear. It still stings a bit every time I hear one of his songs. I’ll miss his brilliance.

2017 Indy 500 Challenge Winner

Two things you can always count on in late May. My best bud Dominic comes over, and the two of us watch some really fast cars make left-hand turns at 16th Street and Georgetown Road in Indianapolis. Of course there’s also Dom and my annual Indy 500 draft challenge. A tradition started around 2000, it received a major upgrade a few years back when Dom made an actual trophy. Prior to that it was usually a case of beer to the winner. This year, thanks to Takuma Sato of Andretti Autosport, as well as my sage insight to draft him, the trophy is with me for the year.

Dom, Mike Essig, Jon, and little D.

We had some other friends join us too. A great time on Chimes Blvd.

2017 Detroit Grand Prix

A week later, joined by our buddy Jim Matz, Dom and I were off to the Motor City for the IndyCar Grand Prix on Belle Isle. This was the 2nd year we’ve gone. It’s my once-a-year boys-night-out. Much like our first year, this year’s event and stay at the MGM Grand Resort and Casino was great fun. Can’t wait to do it again in ’18.

The 2004 Jeep Liberty Renegade

In June we said goodbye to an old friend. Julie bought this off our buddy Mike back in 2005. She drove it for 9 years, me another 3 after that. It was a great vehicle for us. But when all the little things in need of repair more or less double in cost what she’s worth…..well it was time for a change. Needless to say, based on the winter we’re having so far, we should have just kept it as a seasonal vehicle!

Manteo, NC -“Pirate’s Adventure!”

July brought on a first for me. Never in my life had I experienced the long family road trip. Growing up we never drove further than my dad’s home state of Wisconsin, or to see my Aunt in Cincinnati. So driving from South Bend to the Outer Banks of North Carolina was certainly a new experience for me. Julie and I had driven home from North Carolina before. But let me tell you, Asheville, NC, in the Blue Ridge Mountains on the west end of the state is a whole lot different from the Outer Banks on the Atlantic. We split the drive into two days. On the way there we stayed in Virginia the first night. On the way home we drove as far as Pittsburgh, then called it a night. Still, I don’t know how these “straight through to Florida” people do it. After 10 or so hours in a car with two little kids I was done.

The Outer Banks were great. It was too damn hot, but that’s to be expected in July. But it was beautiful. It was a group trip, so we stayed in a huge beach house with four other families we’re close with. It was my first vacation in over 5 years. I’m not used to vacations. Waking up everyday for 7 days and having nothing I really had to do? It’s awkward to me. Sometimes I miss the pressure and don’t know what to do with the time!

Oakwood Resort, Lake Wawasee, Syracuse

Those of you who either have young children, or remember when your kids were young, certainly know how your kids command all of your attention and all of your time. Julie and I are awesome equal partners and duel CEOs of the Giovanni & Leo Corporation. Although we love this role, we also miss being awesome partners in the Vic & Julie marriage business. To celebrate our 10th anniversary, we went with a low-key, simple, one-night get-a-way that was actually less than an hour from our home. The Oakwood Resort on Lake Wawasee in Syracuse, IN is a beautiful, romantic little place that none of you have likely ever heard of. This wasn’t extravagant or fancy, but neither are we. It was a perfect little get-a-way.

Heading home!

Little Leo had some health issues in 2017. Some minor, some not so minor. In May he got five stitches in his right ear. In August he suffered a seizure while at the zoo. Finally, in November he got the triple crown…..tonsillectomy, adenoids removal, and tubes in the ears. I love this picture of big brother Giovanni wheeling him out of Memorial’s Children’s ward. I’m hoping for a healthier forthcoming year for my baby boy.

Giovanni’s Christmas Musical at school

So there you have it. 2017. One thing’s for sure. These two guys won’t look the same a year from now!

Some people think life is short. Some think life is long. I think life is a long series of many, many, many short events in time. That’s my perspective.

Thanks and Godspeed,


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