2012: My year in review, part two

Part one is here.

I had pretty big plans upon returning home, not the least of which was a night out at some bar on West Sixth in the VIP with bottle service to celebrate the money I was saving by moving back home.  Sadly, time went on while I was away and it seems some of the dynamics of my old “crew” had changed dramatically and friends that I had assumed would always be part of my weekends out were suddenly not getting along or no longer in the picture for various reasons.  After building some solid friendships in Minneapolis, I hadn’t guessed that I’d come back home to such a different situation in Ohio.  On a positive note, I didn’t waste money on bottle service, but I’m still disappointed by the shifts and I hope 2013 will see my friends growing in positive directions and moving past the summer’s drama.  I want us to all be in a bar together by spring, the way it should be.

August was a crazy month.  No matter how it looks on paper, Kristin and I returned to our state of cohabitation not in a romantic storybook reunion sort of way, but as two people a year older and a year more stubborn.  We developed our own way of doing things and hadn’t had to compromise in so long that it was a month of learning to adapt for both of us.  Fortunately, even when one of us drives the other up a wall, I think we’ve come to realize that the petty squabbles won’t mean anything the next morning, so we just get over it.  After the first month, things returned mostly to normal, but we’re both still growing and learning as we always should.

I haven’t had much of a chance to talk about grilling yet, but here’s the paragraph for my fellow carnivores:  I had many firsts on the grill this fall.  My favorite was the herb-crusted beef tenderloin with white wine cream sauce, but I was also thoroughly impressed by my very first tri-tip, found at a West Side Market vendor, which I made according to this rosemary tri-tip recipe.  Kristin’s favorite was the Disappearing Pork Tenderloin with homemade pico de gallo, mostly for the pico de gallo.  For those who remember the Chick-fil-A “Hold the Hate” event, I made the Ultimate Summer Sandwich as my #HoldTheHate meal.  While not on the grill, I also discovered my love of Cubanos this summer.

It wasn’t all carnivorous, however.  I learned this summer and fall that I like Mexican and Chinese food quite a bit as well, and that the only sushi I’m crazy about is deep fried, proving my redneck heritage still plays a role on my palate.  The urge to try new things, especially in the food arena, was a new thing in 2012 and I’m coming out of it with a lot of confidence.  I’m sure it will be meaningful to all my friends who were once forced to pick restaurants where I could find a burger or some other standard American fare.  Adaptability is good!

Speaking of the Hold the Hate event above, the past few years I’ve experimented with more keyboard activism than I used to employ, and that event was a moderate success with five digit invites and four digit participation.  I barely made it out to any Occupy events after spending a few nights at Occupy MN in fall 2011.  I haven’t attended a real, actual protest of any kind in quite some time either.  I’m not sure if it was laziness, distraction, or simply that I had become jaded with the entire process and how little actually gets accomplished.  While the Hold the Hate event was somewhat significant, I’m realizing that I’ve gotten off track and most of my participation is haphazard and aimless and that I spent most of 2012 advocating on each topic for about 30 seconds in a Facebook update with very little sustained pressure on specific topics.

In an upcoming blog, I’m going to spend a little more time addressing how I plan to take advantage of the skills I’ve picked up in my current job to better prepare, package, publish, and promote a more streamlined set of issues and solutions in the coming year to make my participation more efficient and effective.  If my 2012 activism taught me anything, it’s that I need to be far more focused and intentional if I want to make any difference… and I will also be making a point to keep personal friends with strongly differing viewpoints from seeing my political posts in their feeds, because when I get caught up in the same five arguments every time I make a post that was targeted to a broader audience, it defeats the purpose and prevents others from participating.  I’m going for scale; there’s no logical reason to try to “convert” friends and coworkers who are just as well-read and stubborn as myself.

Turning 33 wasn’t a high point for me at first, but that changed rapidly when I received this year’s birthday gift from Kristin two days later.  For the first time in my life, I was treated to a college football game… a blowout victory by the Wolverines at the Big House.  She took care of the seats (which were amazing), the hotel, travel, everything… and I had no idea where we were headed until about halfway to the stadium.  That was unforgettable and I can’t wait to return someday for another game.  Go Blue!

The most recent two months have been relatively quiet.  Kristin and I both took time off around Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s (including now, as I write this entry) and visited family, opened gifts, and just generally relaxed after a few solid months with non-stop work.  I traveled to Orlando for work in late November then to Minneapolis to work from the office in early December.  As my Facebook followers will know, I cleaned out the gutters, mounted my television and installed a new kitchen faucet and water filtration system over the last few weeks, building some homeowner cred that I plan on expanding this spring with new projects and investments.

All in all, 2012 wasn’t the most eventful or exciting year (with the exception of the Michigan game), but simply moving back home was a dream come true and I couldn’t have rightfully asked for more than that.  As I look to plan out 2013—the home projects, the activism, the vacations, the self-improvement—it feels good to have a solid base to build from.

Tonight, we’ll be sending 2012 out with a bang as Kristin and I, along with Felicia and Steven, head out to Beachwood for a party the girls discovered a few weeks ago.  First, though, we’ll be checking in at the Beachwood Hilton and enjoying the champagne they’ll have on ice because I know how to pretend to be rich while actually on a decent budget.  It’s one of the talents I honed in 2012.  Tomorrow, we’ll welcome 2013 by continuing the party, sleeping until the hotel’s breakfast hours are almost over, then rushing down to get some food, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Have a safe and happy night, my friends, and see you next year!