2012: My year in review, part one

Less than forty hours left in 2012.  I can’t help but think that each one of these years passes faster than the last and that I’m racing into old age at an alarming pace.  I think back to the summers on the beach in Vermilion when Kristin was a teenager and I acted like one, and it seems like those years lasted so much longer.  Perhaps it’s because they were stuffed so full of the kind of memories you never want to forget and the past years have been littered with the mortgage and new jobs and living 700 miles apart; perhaps it’s just simple nostalgia playing mind tricks again.

That’s not to say that 2012 was a bad year.  In the decade since I took Kristin to Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, I’ve only had one bad season, and while I’m sure it seemed neverending at the time, today it barely registers as a blip on the radar.  Since that time, I’ve learned to not take anything for granted, and the appreciation for life that developed as a result of that lesson has made it nearly impossible to have another bad season.

I started 2012 with two of my favorite people, celebrating New Year’s at Barfly in downtown Minneapolis with Kristin and Tiffany, drinking a bottle of champagne and dancing on a platform with the two people I have spent most of my New Year’s parties with over the years.  It was a phenomenal idea to fly them out to my temporary home for a few days, even if I did spend half of the time sick.  After our Windsor trip, this was definitely my most memorable NYE.

The rest of the winter was probably one of the mildest on the books in Minneapolis.  I remember grilling in my little Weber Smokey Joe during a particularly nice day in January which, only a year before, had seen temperatures of twenty below zero and two feet of snow.  If I had to spend a single winter alone in Minneapolis, at least it was the one that didn’t even really feel like winter.

I say alone, of course, because I spent the first seven months of 2012 living seven hundred miles from everyone that had been important to me, that had become staples in my life.  Alone may not be the best description, however, because I do count myself fortunate to have expanded many existing digital friendships into the real thing over my eleven month stay in the condo in Bloomington.  Many of the people I had spent years talking to on the company forums and working with in my remote Covert Ops positions were located around the corporate headquarters of my employer and they were very welcoming.  Most of them were transplants themselves, moving closer to the office to take a new position or prepare for the right opportunity, so it only made sense that we all ended up getting along so well.  It was here that I learned the value of the post-work Happy Hour as opposed to the Saturday all-nighter… one distinction I really miss about my time in Minnesota.

I definitely racked up the points on AirTran as well.  Flying back and forth between home and “home” every few weeks gave me more than enough credits to fly the girl and I round-trip to our vacation destination next April at no cost.  The destination is TBD, but we’re looking at San Juan or Nassau.  While I definitely enjoy the flying experience more than most these days, I’m very happy to spend so little time in the air now.  It’s easier on my wallet and my relationship.

As the seasons changed in the Twin Cities, another major change happened on C7 at the corporate office:  My new boss was finally hired, five months after the last one left, averting disaster and bringing me a huge sigh of relief.  My former boss, Tyson, was definitely a great boss… he gave me a chance in a new environment, took my side in salary negotiations, gave me a lot of perspective on the position and showed me the ropes of corporate life.  It was pretty devastating to me when he was scooped up by the competition, but not surprising.  I only wished I’d had more time to learn before his departure.  Now, however, that same competitor lost one of their best talents to our team as Chrissy took that open spot.

Two months into her tenure, we had a new, coherent plan, we stepped up our social presence to the next level, and Chrissy and I were already finalizing a plan for me to take my work back to Ohio.  My remote workforce dreams were coming true!  The fact that she was able to accommodate this after only two months was simply phenomenal and, after another month of working out logistics, I took a day off on Friday, July 27th and started the fourteen hour journey back to Ohio in my car… packed with all of my belongings, which demonstrates how light I was living out there.

I decided to make the trip home a two day adventure.  The first night, I drove out to Milwaukee, where the first franchised location of my favorite local bar Two Bucks had recently opened.  I met up with agents Megan Czaplewski and Jason Willadsen to check it out, and while the music was too loud to have normal conversation and the bar area was too cramped to get a speedy drink order in, the prices were right and I think Milwaukee is a great place for a successful bar.  All the rumors of rampant alcoholism seemed to be true as the bars were packed.

The next morning, I drove down to the Weber Grill restaurant in Chicago to have lunch with Felicia, who I hadn’t seen in several months, and the restaurant was amazing.  I’m a bit of a Weber fanboy, so this trip was a long time coming, and it was only improved by having an awesome person there (a local, even) to enjoy lunch with.  We’ll definitely be going back.  Hopefully soon, even though Felicia has also made the jump back to Ohio since that time.

The past five months back in Ohio probably deserve their own part two as this has gotten pretty lengthy.  This calls for a sudden awkward closing.  Bye.