Mike studied nuclear engineering at MIT, so naturally we had a lot to discuss. (Ahem.) He thought he would be a scientist, but he realized he was more interested in learning about it than doing it. Now he’s a program coordinator in the Office of Energy & Environment at The Ohio State University.
An avid movie watcher (he used to see a movie every other day – now closer to once a week) and college football fan, Mike has taken up piano lessons. He typically rises around 4 or 4:30 every morning. No surprise, he’s completed all of his Saturday errands before most of us crack open our eyes.
One of his earliest memories is his mom taking him and his two brothers to the neighborhood library to get his library card when he was about six. His parents valued learning, exploration, openness and questioning authority – traits he seems to live wholeheartedly as an adult.
I met Mike & Pete in November. Mike told me well into our conversation that it was a difficult month for him. His mother died when she was young, when Mike was in the 8th grade. His younger brother died at age 20 in a car accident in Mexico. Both events happened in late October, but with his brother, it took until early November for the consulate to get word to Mike’s father. He and his siblings were all born in November, spaced exactly 2 days apart from each other. His brother’s birthday was the day before we met, and Mike’s own birthday was the very next day. His mom’s birthday is also in November. “So this month is a very … I kind of get a little crazy.”
After college, Mike lived in Pescadero, California, a small town off Highway 1, about an hour south of San Francisco. He flew to England to attend the wedding of a good friend from high school, and when he got back two weeks later, the friend with whom he was living picked him up at the airport and announced that they had moved to an entirely different town. Gone was the single-family house, just a 20-minute walk from the Pacific; in its place was a trailer off a gravel road, with no running water and no electricity.
Mike moved shortly thereafter.
I asked a lot of “what’s your favorite …” questions, and Mike apologetically answered that he didn’t really have any. He’s not really a “favorites” kind of guy. I’ve not met too many people who don’t have a favorite in any given category. But in keeping with his ongoing quest to learn, explore and try new things, he seems to consistently take away something from each experience.
“I can be as judgmental and critical as any human being, but I’ve always been a fan of that phrase, ‘nothing human is alien to me.’ Everyone has the same human frailties and strengths, thoughts, fears …. human behavior is universal. I try not to judge people.”
“Well — too much,” he smiled.