It’s A Wonderful Life– because of You

It’s A Wonderful Life Movie- Full


It’s A Wonderful Life, the Frank Capra standard of all Christmas season movies.  Sure it’s played on TV so much that people get sick of it, but it still remains one of my favorite all time movies (& that’s not just because I think Jimmy Stewart is cute).  There are a lot of great quotes from the movie.  These are just a few from wingless-2nd Class Angel, Clarence. 


George Baily and Clarence

~You’ve been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.~

~ Strange, isn’t it? Each man’s life touches so many other lives. When he isn’t around he leaves an awful hole, doesn’t he?~ 

~ “Dear George, remember no man is a failure who has friends. Thanks for the wings, Love Clarence.”~

 I think about this movie a lot as applied to my own life.  No need to worry though, I have no plans to run on to the Hoan Bridge and attempt a jump into the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewage District plant !  I just think about how my life would be different if I had made different choices or not met certain people.  In a way, I guess I think about the movie in opposite mode.  Not how many lives I have touched, but how many people have touched my life.  I see it in my mind’s eye as like a flowchart of people and bubbles and arrows. (could it be I’m actually using symbolic logic and conditionals—if this then that???? The class that frustrated me to the point of almost dropping out of college). 

I hope the people I mention below do not get upset with me for putting their real name here.  So know that it is truly a wonderful life for me because of you.  Also let me disclaim that just because you may not be mentioned doesn’t mean that you are not significant. Some people just drop into place so naturally and besides my brain is not a super computer… I can’t connect all those dots ! 😉

 (not in any type of order)

The first person I think of is my government teacher from MATC (& current Milwaukee County Clerk).  If I had chosen to sign up for American National Government & Politics Today during the summer with one of my classmates from the Paralegal program, I would never have met him, thus, right there is a life changing decision.  He was such an inspiration to me and became someone that I looked up to as a genuine politician.  If not for Mr. Czarnezki I believe that I would not be working in City Government.  (And if not for Amy I would not STILL be working at City Hall).   He had spent nearly a decade at City Hall after working in the State Legislature before he began teaching.  Also, if I hadn’t learned what I did about civics, government, politics, I don’t see how I could have made it to the White House.  He wrote a letter of recommendation for my internship, so in return I made a promise to myself to repay him and will campaign tirelessly for any public office he is running for- regardless of what differentiating political parties we belong to. 

Next is a wonderful lady, who took a chance on me and will forever be a significant part of my life.  I swear if I ever am cursed with Alzheimer’s disease, the one thing I will never forget is her name and the sound of her voice on the other end of the phone, “Hi, this is Jodie Steck from the White House.  Do you know why I’m calling?”  She watched over me while I lived in DC for three months.  Sure she’d give me a hard time, but without her I might have given up. 

Not having served as an intern, I would never have crossed paths with Audrey and her husband Justin, whom I consider two of my very important friends.  Audrey recognized that I was lacking something during my internship and her being such a genuine and caring, giving person befriended me.  It took away a lot of the loneliness and homesick feelings.

This is kind of hard to pin down, but may explain more of how certain aspects of my personality evolved.  Staying in Washington for a few more moments… I had been aware of Vladimir Putin before hand, but after looking at the many pictures of President Putin and President Bush together I began to see him in a different light.  He was less scary for starters.   So when I came home, the next semester I signed up for “Politics of the Soviet Union and Its Successor States” with Professor Donald Pienkos.  I remember a comment he made about President Putin compared to Boris Yeltsin.  He referenced that at least Yeltsin would be a fun guy to party with (I infer because he drank a lot) and couldn’t see Putin as being the cuddly type (again an inference to how strict and controlled he seems all the time).  I had a twinge of feeling sorry for him [Putin] and began cuddling him in my own way.  Needless to say my naivety in that class won me a C grade and an unfavorable assessment of my research paper on Russian Elections. 

I stuck with what I felt more comfortable with, and that was history and not politics.  So I signed up for “The History of the Soviet Union: Lenin to Gorbachev”.  Mid semester, the professor had a guest speaker or sub teacher for the day (I honestly can’t remember which it was).  But sitting in the front row, and listening to Yuri Kitov talk on and one for almost the entire hour impressed upon me a feeling that stuck with me the rest of the semester and all summer.  I wanted to see this guy again so I signed up for his class “Russian Life and Culture”.  I wanted to impress him so I sought to find knowledge before the class so I could make a good and intelligent impression.  So I used what resources I had, social media and My Space.

Here I found my most favorite friend in the whole entire world, Andrei.  I just love him; he’s such a dear confidant and always lends an ear when needed.  He’s a wealth of information and intelligent.  He can match my 5 page letters and his words are so soothing and descriptive that I feel like he’s right here and not thousands of miles away.  One of my greatest fears is ever losing him as a friend.  I contacted him for the first time on August 31, 2008. 

Back to Yuri, after spending a month in his class, I decided I had to find a way to become friends with him.  Scheming the way that Marvin says I’m so good at, I decided the best way would be to tell him I was struggling in the class and needed help.  As it turned out, I think he was also trying to find a way to get to know me better.  I think he thought I was someone important because I had the Presidential seal on my book bag.  Silly, but it worked… and he knows now that I’m not important, but we’re still friends anyway. 

Many years prior in 2003 I had taken a “History of Wisconsin” class with Professor Hauser.  This man is directly responsible for changing my entire career and intensifying my love of history.  He had such a story teller way of teacher that I looked forward to class and hated to see it end.  In fact at the conclusion of that class I told him I wished I could sign up again just to hear his lectures.  Subsequently I signed up for 3 more of his History classes.  When I ran out of classes that he was teaching I had taken so many that I decided to turn these into a Bachelor’s degree in History.  Before transferring to UWM I would be able to transfer a few more credits so I looked for other classes to sign up for.

In truth, if the attorney I had been working for hadn’t left the firm and began working in Mequon I would NEVER have attended the MATC North campus.  Of course, if I didn’t work at Walmart and never knew Gregg, he would not have introduced me to his wife Patty who worked at the law firm and got me an interview.  I figured that if I was in school up there, I may be able to wiggle in to a few lunches with my old boss- hoping to get a job once again.  I got something better instead…. a new friend in Dave.  However, I didn’t know at the time it would turn out that way.  I was leery of this history class because I had been so used to the way Mr. Hauser was teaching that I wasn’t sure if I would adapt.  When class began and Dave walked in I thought to myself ‘this is not going to be fun’.  But I was wrong !!  It was, and three classes later I was also out of history sections I could sign up for, but I wasn’t ready to let go yet.  As it happened fate didn’t think it was time for us to part ways either.  Once again fishing for a recommendation for my White House internship, Dave obliged and we’ve been friends ever since.  Dave is also one of my favorite friends because I feel so comfortable around him.  I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not.  He’s a ton of fun and treats me nice… despite threatening my snowman with a hair dryer =)

These are relatively new friends, but in terms of longtime friendships that date back to the early 1990’s Candy and Chris have been my rocks.  We became friends when I needed friends the most.  Candy came into my life at a most difficult time of the beginning of teenage life, when I struggled with gaining an identity beyond a child and dealing with middle school.  I had a friendship ending fight with my ex best friend Jenny and she had stolen all my friends away from me by telling lies and making up stories.  The beginning of 7th grade I was truly alone.  Being shy, I never made the effort to talk to anyone, but in gym class I had to do just that.  I approached another girl sitting on the bleachers who also hadn’t chosen a partner for football practice. That choice would affect my life for the next decade and a half. 

My neighbor Chris exposed me to a wide variety of things that I don’t think I ever would have experienced before.  The adventures we’ve had on the island, in the mountains of Virginia, walking the freeway in Las Vegas, and traversing the Pacific Coast are all life altering.  Truly a fortuitous meeting, I’d not know him, even though we attended the same school, if he didn’t wander into the Laundromat behind our homes where I was working nights. 

I often think back to how it is that I got so hooked on submarines.  When Tony and I vacationed in Buffalo to see Millard Fillmore’s grave, we toured a submarine, but it didn’t initially make a sizeable impression on me.  Carl from the hardware department at Walmart was in the Navy and told me about the Sub in Manitowoc, but those are the only connections I can make. 

There’s also a mental wall that I can’t see beyond when I look back to my teenage years.  I can’t recall where my life was headed before my dad left, but I can be certain it probably wasn’t in the path that I did eventually take.  I have no recollection of what I was planning on doing after high school so I think it’s safe to say he if hadn’t left, none of this would have happened.  In summary, if I hadn’t met the afore mentioned people I would be less educated, uninvolved and lonely.

Stay tuned.  I may have a part two in the future if I make other realizations and connections.


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