that’s a wrap

2011 was a tough year, for me and a lot of other people. As the year draws to an end, and I always do, I look back. A lot happened in the past year. Some good, some not so much. However, every event has had a role in my life and how I’ve grown.

After 2 years and 9 months, I left the only city I’d been able to call home for more than a year since I left Jackson. Fargo was good to me, even if I wasn’t always good to it in return. Some of the best friends and best experiences I’ve had in years, came from Fargo.

Chicago, the city of my dreams, became home. I transferred stores, and began working in what I could only describe as a pinball machine. It tests me every day, and some days, I fail.

Lessons learned:

-Some jobs just suck. But no matter how much it sucks, it’s a job, and it’s a means to an end.

-Big city life is both exciting and overwhelming. Striking a balance is hard, but it’s possible.

-The best meal of your life may not come from a Michelin 3-star restaurant. It will more likely come from a side street gastropub you only know about because a customer raves about it online.

-It is really possible, and honestly the easiest way in a big city, to make friends on Twitter.

-It is also possible to be surrounded by 3 million people and feel completely alone.

-Life is rarely at all like the movies. There’s no fanfare, no big climax, and no life-altering character catharsis. But a huge life change can feel like the movies.

-Finding comfort and solace is much easier than it seems.

-Your best friend is the person who doesn’t let you wallow in regrets and demands only the best of you.

Some key and defining moments of the past year:

Celebrity encounters:

Marc Malnati, owner of Lou Malnati’s Pizzeria, the best pizza in Chicago

Chef Dave Beran, head chef of revolutionary restaurant Next, owned by Michelin 3-Star chef Grant Achatz of Alinea

Live music:

Mat Kearney, November 17th

Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band, December 15th

Chicago BluesFest, late June

Restaurants of the year:

Frontier

Cafe Spiaggia

McCormick and Schmick’s

Nichole’s Fine Pastry

The Hotel Donaldson

Song of the year:

Alter Bridge “Make it Right”

Writers of the year:

Jim Harrison

Kathryn Schultz

“Welcome to Chicago” moment of the year:

CTA Red Line experiencing catastrophic electrical failure on my way to work

“Proud to be from Michigan” Moment of the year (TIE):

Detroit Tigers Pitcher Justin Verlander winning Cy Young and MVP Awards

Wisconsin Winter Tourism campaign controversy

Best week of the year (TIE):

Spending a week at Rose Lake in Michigan with Michonne and her family

My long-absent best friend, Tish “The Californian” and me together for the first time in 3 1/2 years

Best day of the year:

May 20, the day I arrived in Chicago

Resolutions/Goals:

Write more fiction.

Get fit again.

Get a new job.

Cook more.

Make more friends in Chicago.

Visit Michigan more.

Final thought:

Life is too damn short to be unhappy. At 31 years old, I don’t have time to spend any more time frustrated and unsatisfied.

 

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