Fretless

Introducing Aubrey Strasser
By Davey Strus /

Aubrey Strasser joined Fretless in December 2016. In true Fretless fashion, we conducted this interview in March, 2018, and are just now publishing it in January, 2019.

Hey, Aubrey!

Hi!

How are you?

I’m good. How are you?

I’m doing well. Who’s our guest?

Oh, this is Murray.

What’s up, Mer-Man?

Can you say “hi”?

[Murray babbles]

Thanks for letting me subject you to this. It’s a tradition now. Let’s just dive right in: How the heck did you end up here?

Miles is a friend of my husband. They went to high school together. Miles needed help with things that he could do, but didn’t really have time to do. So he asked if I was interested in doing some administrative work for him. I started really part time, because I was still teaching kindergarten.

[MURRAY SCREAMING]

I ended up not going back to school after having Murray. I am still part time, but working more hours than I was.

How long were you a teacher?

I started teaching in 2010. I was the Childcare Director at the Y[MCA] and… pause for just a second.

[More screaming]

We’ll see if he’ll calm down on the floor.

I was the Childcare Director for two years, and then I decided I wanted to be in the classroom more, and I taught 3rd grade, 4th grade, and then kindergarten. So I was in a public school for four years.

All at the same school?

No, I have been in 2 different schools.

Had you expressed to Miles that you were interested in this sort of thing? Where did he come up with the idea of asking you?

I did. Teaching is hard. It’s very rewarding emotionally, but there is not much appreciation in the field. Miles had mentioned that he needed an assistant and he thought with a teacher’s organization that I would be good at it, so he asked if I would be up for doing some work for Fretless. Honestly, deep down, being an assistant or secretary has always been like, “Oooh, that seems really fun!” So, I was like. “Yeah, I would love to give it a go!” We also mentioned because we were friends first that if it didn’t work out we had made the decision that we would still be friends. We’d be adults and say, “Hey, we tried it, it didn’t work.” But here we are making it work!

Yeah I’m sure the people whose friendships do fall apart say that at the beginning too. “Oh we’re not gonna let this ruin everything.” Do you find Miles is easier or more difficult than a kindergartener to deal with?

[Laughter] Oh man, put me on the spot! No, Miles is definitely easier to deal with than a kindergartner. He does some things as last minute as a kindergartener, but he is definitely easier to deal with.

That sounds like the guy I know. I know you live in Monticello [Indiana] now. Are you from Monticello, or where are you from?

I am from Logansport. It’s about 35 minutes from Monticello. Born and raised there in the country. When all my friends were out in town playing ditches, I didn’t get to play, because I was in the country.

Did you say, “playing ditches”?

Yeah, you didn’t play ditches?

No, I have no idea what that is.

It’s like hide-and-seek in town. You group up, and you go hide in ditches. [Laughing] Then someone comes to find you.

There are more ditches in the country. There are, like, storm sewers in town.

[Laughing] Okay, well anyway, I never got to play because I was too far away.

That’s really funny. So Miles and Nick are from approximately that area too.

Right, different high schools. They went to Pioneer.

You got siblings? I know the answer to this, but I am going to pretend I don’t.

I do. I have two brothers, both older. My oldest brother has three children, and our middle brother has two children.

And now you have one, so plenty of grandkids.

Oh, yes.

Very nice. Murray’s the best though, right?

Well, of course, I mean…

Just objectively. He’s just a better person, right?

[Laughing]

I can already tell. Have we ever talked science fiction and whether or not you like that thing?

I do. Actually, Nick and I are celebrating our anniversary, and we are going to see Ready Player One

Oh yeah?

We’re excited

It just premiered at South by Southwest and the audience reactions are pretty good. I’ll be honest, I thought it looked absolutely terrible, but Steven Spielberg is a reasonably competent filmmaker. I think he’s gonna amount to something one of these days.

We are really into the Marvel movies more than sci-fi. We own all of them.

Really? There are 17 you can own at this point because Black Panther you can’t own. I just figured this out over breakfast. Infinity War will be the 19th. That’s counting The Incredible Hulk, which technically counts. The Edward Norton movie.

Yeah, we don’t have that one.

I haven’t seen that one actually, but I guess it counts. I think Robert Downey, Jr. shows up in the credit sequence or something like that? Wow, what’s your favorite?

I have seen Iron Man a lot. All three of them really so… probably Iron Man

That’s a pretty solid choice

(still thinking) I really like Bruce Banner so…

Yeah, but he doesn’t have his own movie really. He has the aforementioned Incredible Hulk with Edward Norton, but it’s the Mark Ruffalo Bruce Banner who’s so great.

Right!

Yes, he needs his own movie, but those rights are tied up with Universal, so it’s complicated. That was part of what was so great about Thor: Ragnarok. There was so much Hulk that It was almost a Hulk movie. It’s on DVD now.

Oh, we don’t have that one. We just saw it in the theater. So, I had never been to a movie with a leather recliner. It reclined, and the footrest came out, and it was a giant screen, and it was wonderful. You could get alcoholic drinks. I’ve never been to a movie like that.

Which theater was that?

The one at Castleton, I think.

Yeah, the AMC at Castleton. There are several now.

Now I never want to see a movie that isn’t there.

I know!

So, the tickets are like $16. A regular ticket is like $12, so why wouldn’t you pay the extra money?

Yeah they are about IMAX priced. Plus reserved seats so you don’t have to go early and line up.

Right! Come on!

That’s a big improvement. Now Circle Center is that way, the IMAX is that way. Studio Movie Grill is that way. Not sure about Flix Brewhouse. I loved Thor: Ragnarok. That was one of my favorites. I did particularly enjoy Iron Man 3. It was off the wall in a way that I kind of loved. I loved The Mandarin being a phony. I thought that was a beautiful twist that probably enraged a lot of comic book fans. Being the guy who loves where sci-fi overlaps with the marvel universe, I have to admit to being a pretty big fan of Guardians of the Galaxy as well

Oh yes! We also have that one. That’s one of Nick’s favorites. The music! I love all the music.

I would say it was Iron Man for me for a long time, but at this point it’s a really close call between Guardians and Thor: Ragnarok.

I forgot about Guardians of the Galaxy. I love Baby Groot.

Everybody loves Groot, big or small. What else should we talk about?

Well I love to surf.

Really?

Well, not like big wave Hawaii surfing, but behind a boat.

I was about to say how on earth, growing up in Logansport, do you surf? So you surf on the lake.

Yeah, Nick and I bought a boat 2 summers ago. We always knew we wanted a boat and planned on getting one. We didn’t plan on getting the boat we have, so it was kind of on impulse. But we did it, and we love it. We would go out in the morning, just the two of us, when it was beautiful, and the lake was glass. He would wakeboard, and we would both surf. We love it. We love the water and the sunshine.

So do you hold onto a rope or anything? What do you do when you surf behind a boat?

Yeah, there is a short rope. You can either start on the back of the boat holding on to the rope or start from the water. I have surfed in a t-shirt and shorts before without getting wet. I started from the back of the boat and started surfing then put the board back on the platform of the boat when I was done surfing. You don’t do that very often. Normally you start in the water. You start with the rope and then throw it in.

Is that different than wakeboarding?

Wakeboarding you never let go of the rope and you are way farther back. When you wakesurf you are really close behind the boat, and you throw the rope in, it’s like surfing. It’s super fun!

Cool. So is being someone’s assistant all it’s cracked up to be? All that you dreamed? You weirdo!

I love my job. So this is funny. Here is my paper calendar, because I need it to stay sane. Miles thinks it’s obsolete, and no one needs a paper calendar anymore, because the Internet exists. But I need it. It’s color coded and beautiful. Yeah, I am very happy. I love my job. I love Fretless.

Hey if paper calendars keep you organized, then knock yourself out. They don’t help me, but I certainly have no bias against them. I like the calendar that shows up on my watch.

I end up putting it into my online calendar as well.

Sounds good. What else should we talk about?

I love coffee.

Oh, me too but I can’t drink it.

Oh no, why?

Acid reflux. Coffee was the first to go. It’s terrible. Hopes and dreams for the future?

I’m living one day at a time. haha

All right, yeah. That sounds fine.

I want to retire and do whatever I want when I am 70.

Just surf all day long.

Yeah I want to still be able to surf when I’m 70.

Septuagenarian surfing, very good. Seems like we should talk about the whole code.org thing. You got to show off all of your teaching skills.

Yeah, that was a good day. It felt really good to be back in the classroom and not have to worry about the administration of the classroom, and to just share knowledge. That was fun.

Boy, we loved having you there.

I look forward to doing that again.

It all just seemed kind of magical to us. Having not really seen… I mean, when we were in kindergarten and first grade we weren’t aware of any classroom management techniques. Watching somebody who is good at it in action from this perspective was kind of magical. It seemed like sorcery.

Many tips and tricks of the trade have been shared between teachers.

Miles and I have both been thrilled with the way this has turned out. It’s been over a year now. We are sure happy to have you. Thanks again, Aubrey.

No problem. Thanks!