Getting Personal: Ralph Roether

Getting Personal is an email Q&A with a local personality. Here, a chat with artist and musician Ralph Roether, 44, of Pesotum.

What time do you typically get up? What do you do the first hour of the morning?

I usually get up around 6:10 a.m., after the second snooze on my wife Jenny's cell phone. When I get up, I take a giant gulp of water and swallow my daily pill of Levothyroxine. I grind coffee beans and turn on the coffee. I then make two cups of hot chocolate with straws and pour two doses of Zyrtec for my son and daughter, Keaton and Theda. I wake my children and lay out my son's clothes, then I jump in the shower. After the shower, I get dressed and remind my wife to get up. Then sometimes I make toast for Keaton if he is in the mood, and I drive him to the bus stop right around 7:10 a.m.

What did you have for lunch today? Where? With whom?

At lunch, I go to the Fitness Center. I then usually pick up a custom-made salad at Za's, give the garlic bread to a co-worker and eat the salad at my desk.

Best high school memory?

One of the best memories of high school is when my friends and I used to go to teen night at this place called Coo Coo's on Monday nights. In the summer of 1987, I won a Honda Spree in a dance contest there. Hilarious.

Tell me about your favorite pair of shoes.

I have a love/hate relationship with shoes. I love cool leather brown and black dress shoes like Steve Madden's brand makes, but since my shoe size is around 6, the world hardly makes any adult shoes in that size anymore, so I don't own any. I mostly buy cheap boys' size shoes. My best friend, Robby, once said I had the ugliest feet he has ever seen. They are kinda wide and flat.

What does a perfect Sunday afternoon include?

Sleeping past 8 a.m. with my wife with no interruption. A nice, classic breakfast that is horrible for me. Lots of coffee. Being able to relax. Either watching movies on Turner Classic Movies or some pro wrestling most of the day. "Wrestlemania" is always on a Sunday.

Was there one book you read as a child that you still cherish? Own? Read?

People who know me would tell you I'm not a big book reader. I'm a combo of lazy and too busy. But the first book to capture my imagination was "We Have Always Lived in the Castle" by Shirley Jackson. Some characters are so mysterious, and the town folk are so judgmental. I think I related to it in a weird way, growing up in a small town.

Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

1969, the year I was born, but at my current age. But realistically, somewhere in Europe since I have never figured out how to get there yet.

Tell me about your favorite pet.

I think I was a horrible pet owner as a kid. But just before we moved from Chicago to southern Illinois, when I was 7, our neighbors gave my family a puppy that was part golden Lab and German shepherd I think. His name was Smoky, and he was probably my favorite. We used to let him run wild in the field behind our house. I think he really loved that.

Have you discovered that you are becoming like one of your parents? Which one and how?

After having children, I definitely feel like my father sometimes. As kids, we seemed to stress my father out very easily. He was a nervous man also. I mirror him that way sometimes. Life can be stressful, busy and nuts, and it is hard work to keep everything in balance. I work on that balance by exercising, trying to eat better and trying somewhere in my life to find time to relax. I also find myself gesturing exactly like my father in many ways the older I get.

What would you order for your last meal?

Coffee, hummus, lime Tostitos, salsa, pecans. Roasted red pepper Gouda soup from Pekara, probably some kind of chicken and either cheesecake or the lemon pie my mom used to make.

What can you not live without?

My family. Pro wrestling. TCM, it is the only hope we have left for basic cable television. A channel that has stuck to its format.

Who do you have on your iPod?

Like everything? I have around 64 gigs of music on it. Air, Asher Roth, The Avalanches, Basement Jaxx, Beastie Boys, the Beatles, Best Coast, Big Audio Dynamite, Bill Hicks, The Buggles, Camera Obscura, The Clash, Culture Club, The Cure, The Cramps, Daft Punk, Dave Attell, David Bowie, De La Soul, Dean Martin, Deltron, The Doors, Duran Duran, Eels, Elvis, Eminem (at the beginning of the alphabet).

What's the happiest memory of your life?

The births of my healthy children.

If you could host a dinner party with any three living people in the world, whom would you invite?

Anyone from "Kids in the Hall," the artist Wayne White, (his movie "Beauty is Embarrassing" is so creatively inspiring). And the third would be Arty Schroeder, my neighbor friend on Kedvale Street in Chicago. I haven't seen him since we moved to southern Illinois in 1976 and would love to see how his life turned out.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

Take a breath before reacting to something in a way you may regret. Hard to follow all the time, but I do way better than I used to.

What's your best piece of advice?

Never be afraid to learn something new, and try not to fear things foreign to your little immediate world.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

As a kid, I mowed lawns for about three bucks a yard. My first eight-hour-a-day job was a summer program where me, my sister Tanya and my cousin Cheryl cleaned our K-12 school from top to bottom for 10 weeks. We cleaned desks, walls and even shampooed carpets. I'm pretty sure the pay was right around $3.15 an hour.

What was a pivotal decision in your career and how did you arrive at that decision?

Learning not to take criticism and/or negative feedback on my work personally. I have struggled with that for years. It still isn't easy sometimes, but in the end, it is just a job. It has actually been a motivator for me to do more of my own personal work.

Do you have a bad habit? What is it?

I have become pretty anal with cleaning the house. It prevents me from relaxing. I also think I use way more paper towels than most people. If I'm in the kitchen, I am constantly using them for something.

How do you handle a stressful situation?

I try, try, try to take a breath and step back before I react. Most of the time, I can. But now I know why my dad used to take long walks anytime he got mad or had an argument with my mother. Time to breathe.

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Ellen wrote on February 24, 2013 at 8:02 am

Am I the only one that thinks part of Mr Roether's response is missing from the question...Where on Earth are you dying to go? Why?

asparagus wrote on February 24, 2013 at 9:02 am

It seems complete to me.  He is saying that he would like to go back in time to when he was born. He does not specify an actual place on earth.  It is a whimsical response.  Then he gives a response that is serious.

I admit though that when I first read it it didn't track and I had to re-read it more carefully.