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Endless cast of characters create life-long script

MY LOVE of movies is well docu-mented, but what most people don't realize about me is that my real delusion finds me as the star of a television show. People make movies with a clear vision: They know how long it should be, they know whom it will star, they know it will end. Television, on the other hand, is a less perfect medium with many more unknown elements, making it more like real life.

The true measure of a man is the people you carry with you as you go through life. This measure is far more qualitative than it is quantitative, but I seem to hit the jackpot in both categories. It's a cast roster comprised of passionate people.

It's my mother, Estelle, who woke up with me and my sister every morning at 5:30 a.m. just to spend more time with us, and my father, David, who picked me up from every single activity I chose to get involved in, and who taught me to be as selfless in my dealings with others. It's my beautiful sister, Erica, who I can look at and trust that the future will only be better. It's my Aunt Ellie and Uncle Donald, who applauded me for walking to the beat of a different drum.

It's the greatest woman I know, Katie Dodd, who taught me more about pride, passion and patience from 600 miles away than most could in my backyard. It's Tom Bednar, who made me stop doubting and proved that the greatest things do come to those who wait, and in whom I found the brother I secretly always wanted. It's Amy Murawski, who says what she feels and means what she says. It's Amy DuBrueler, Christian Yarnell and Carrie Gibson, who gave me a foster family courtesy of their open-door policy in the Jouett and make even a trip to Wal-Mart a memorable sojourn. Small world!

It's Katie Dalton, who taught me that true strength lies in sharing, not withholding. It's Stephanie Batten and Emily Roper, who got me un-stuck from a moment I couldn't get out of alone. It's Janelle Holt, who apologizes for not being a better friend when she already is as good as it gets. It's Kate McHugh and Megan Epp, who let me be as nasty as I wanna be. It's Bryan Maxwell, who gives up time doing the hundreds of great things of which he's capable just to be an attentive friend.

It's the denizens of 107A Kent Terrace - Patrick Gantz, Mike Benneyworth, Dan Carlile and Barry Hite - plus Alex Toma, Andrea Benvin, Anthony Holbrook, Sunit Shah and the other guest stars who spent time in our pad. Despite all the Sturm und Drang that occurred, that year remains the most connected I have ever felt to a group of people, and I thank you for it. I should have said that before but I never did; I bet you already knew.

It's Matt Terry, Brian Bishop, Saad Hossain, Joe Hammond, Brian McLaughlin, Brennan Gilmore, Dinesh Kalwani, Kiki Petrosino, Annmarie Stanley, Betsy Brinker, Kate Murphy and the rest of the Maupin Alliance. It's Phil McCarty, an RA who continues to affect my life for the better. It's Meg Merwin, who got me through Lambeth.

It's Kerri Hannigan, Katherine Martini and Areshini Pather, who indulge my movie-modulated theories on life. It's Rachel Alberico, for making me fall in love with Austin without ever having been there. It's Erin Perucci and Jen Schaum, my favorite tiny dancers. It's Margaret Mincks, for the radio surprise of a lifetime. It's the girls of the 14th Street brothel, who showed me a new use for pumpernickel.

It's Emily Kane, Mike Greenwald, Meg Scheu, Masha Herbst, Sonia Karim, Tee McKnight, Christine Chase and Gretchen Eitt, who have showed that time and distance actually strengthen ties rather than sever them. It's Crystal Whitlow, Laura James, Stephanie Waters, Meredith Barnhart, Kristy Wesolowski, Anne Iverson Vest and Sarah Fish, for being my girls - now and forever. It's my cousins Harriet, Michael and Sheryl Gordon, for expanding my social circle to Florida, and Dave and Jynne Martin for doing the same in New York City. It's Tamara Fraser and Julia Primavera, who taught me the difference between a house and a home.

It's Sharon Bradley, who always has an ear to lend and two arms wide open, and never gets enough credit for either. It's Lester Wilson and M.J. Siedlicki, great employers, but even better cheerleaders. It's Michael Levenson, Eric Lott, Tom Oltmanns, Lew Rosenbloom and Bess Rothenberg, who made me more excited about being a student than any of the alternative distractions in my life.

It's Amy Shapiro, Jon Erdman, Alexis Tonti, Christa Dierksheide, Charlotte Barrows, Phil Wickizer, Mary Beth Walker, Jaime Levi, Jacquie Roper, Tina Hong, Rakesh Gopalan, Mary Beth Walker, Margaret Chipowsky, Aditi Vaish, Erin Schrad, Lindsay Means, Ed Hock, John Clark, Sam Le, Nicola White and Lindsay Wise, who supported me and listened to what I had to say, and made me believe they were things worth saying. It's Michael Gillespie, Brian Haluska and Bobby Rector, who shared all of my interests and reminded me that I wasn't alone. It's Jim Reedy and Jed Williams, who shared my drive, thus ensuring we were never in our apartment at the same time.

If I've meant a fraction to you of what you all have meant to me, then you know how amazing that feeling is. U.Va. was where I became me, but as I leave, I don't leave that "me" behind. Instead, I take U.Va. with me as I move on. As the TV show of my life continues, the writing will change. I know that some storyline arcs will be happier than others, but the show will go on.

So stay tuned.

(Doug Strassler was a 2000-2001 Arts & Entertainment editor.)


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