Sunday, January 15, 2012

In the Rear View 2: Electric Boogaloo

Well hello!
I've been excited to come back and do the rest of that last post on the year in review and in pictures!
This week has been a little crazy (or a lot crazy) and lack of sleep has been the theme, but I'm more rested now and back from out of town and back from watching my friend have a baby a month early (which is part of the lack of sleep part) and so life is...more...normal?  At least for the purposes of having an evening to sift and tell stories.
Which is what I plan on doing. :D

When last we ...well, when last I was here typing... it was June, and my brother had gotten married and other neat things had occurred. It was hot. Very hot.  Summer in IL is gross and hot and sticky.  Not much of a news flash, obviously. So let's jump into July and see what happens...

Kicked July off with a girl's night out to see Maroon 5 at Ravinia. It was insanely hot that week and we all thought it might be absolutely deadly out on the lawn, but when we got there, it had cooled down to an optimum temperature. There was wine, there was girl talk, there was Maroon 5. Maroon 5 is amazing in person, and we had a wonderful time picnicking on the lawn and listening to the music.  Great way to start a month, I tell ya.
This was the scene from the 4th of July in Round Lake. Spent that with Patty and Cherie and Aedan and Summer and Michael and...well you get the idea. :)  It was nice to be back in Round Lake with friends from there.  The friends I made at high school that followed me into the post-high school bonfires are ones I really couldn't imagine life without, even when things aren't good.  It's nice to get that back now and again.
Somewhere in the early to middleish part of July we had a huge, horrible windstorm. Lasted about 10 to 20 minutes, but knocked out power for a full week for most towns in the area, including parts of Libertyville. I was home from my temp job at Mercer that day sick, and I woke up to a frantic cat and that train I really thought it was a tornado. Scary!
I also took a trip out to the city again. Had a fun time spending the day there with Erika and Stephen. We ran into an art fair and had dinner and caught a really fun improv show at the IO theater.  I cannot stress enough how much I love having THIS city so close by.  We had a great time.

August turned out to be a pretty amazing month.  Started the month out getting a lot of time with someone I very much wanted a lot of time with.  I took a little mini vacation to the Ohare region...which doesn't sound fantastic, but it was.  Between the quality time, the nice hotel, banana splits in the park,  the trip to Wicker Park to wander around an AMAZING bookstore I discovered with someone who would appreciate it just as much as I did...and a particularly nice dinner much fun. It doesn't always matter where you are so much as the company.

I had a *real* vacation planned anyway to take place later that month.  My wonderful friend Kija was getting married in Colorado Springs, and somewhere in there I was lucky enough to convince my awesome friend Lewis, who was biking all over the US, to meet me there and be my date to the wedding.  I got to explore Boulder all day by myself, including a visit to Centro Latin American Kitchen, where I had probably the best meal I've had in my life, visit with my sister and the lil' baby nephew, get some great time together with one of my best friends from New Mexico (including a lot of hiking and picture taking) and see another awesome NM friend marry her best friend.  I count that a success. I had such an amazing time in Colorado. I love it out there.  But you've heard that, and I've posted a million pictures from that trip.  So...yeah.
Last day of that trip I finally got to go to Seven Falls.  It's got a ridiculous number of steps to conquer. Very, very steep steps. With nothing on either side. And while I'm *better* about not freaking out about heights, the major amount of stairs, the way they moved, and the amount of effort it takes were pretty immense.  It was amazing and I'm glad I did it, but holy crap, it's quite the workout and quite the test to your handling of your irrational fears. :D
There's way more than 224 steps by the way, this is just one of the signs...
It was good to get back down...but a little sad to go back to IL.  My heart's just out West. But we knew that already.

A little ren faire with one of my oldest friends...and ren hair...
Good times. Which kept rolling when I got to host my friend Jacquie here at my house. She was in from Texas to see her husband, who was training to be a SEAL at Great Lakes. 
 We did some botanic garden wandering, a lot of laughing and talking til late at night, and some catching up with a bunch of friends back at Olando's.

And some playing in the water. It was pretty amazing.  Jacquie and I have lots in common and I was really glad to have her here. I feel like I got to know her better and now have an even closer friendship with her, and that makes me glad. :)
It was also time for homecoming. :)  The 10 year reunion was in September. I was realllly wishy washy on if I even wanted to go. The mixer at the Vine was fun, the game was alright.   I think the mixer seemed more friendly, and the game kinda seemed..meh.  So, instead of going to the second event after the game, Cherie and I took her son to Chicago for the first time. Which.was.awesome.

I take a lot of city trips, obviously, but this was different. Aside from not being alone, it was really cool to see the city through the eyes of a little kid.  He loved to run up and interact with the sculptures and was afraid of the Art Institute lions, but it was a day of firsts for him, right down to the train ride. Meanwhile we got to catch up, enjoy a beautiful day in the park and a nice dinner, and generally just stretch our legs.   Pretty awesome.

October was a pretty outdoorsy month for me. I took a LOT of long bike rides.  I was also randomly let go from my contract at Mercer for no apparent reason.  Just ended the contract unexpectedly.  That was pretty rough, and I think my way of coping was to get out on the trails.  All in all, not a bad way to handle it.
To be fair, it was a pretty gorgeous October. :)

And here's me on a normal day where I went ahead and did something I was afraid of doing. Sitting on my favorite rock on Lake Michigan taking pictures isn't that thing, but auditioning to be an on air radio host is.  Like I said way back in the beginning of this whole rear view retrospect thing...this year was about challenging myself. And while obviously, I'm not an on air radio host...I'm proud of myself for trying. And you know what? I didn't miss out on that job because I wasn't good at it.  I know that for sure, and I never would have if I didn't try.  So, scary or not scary, it was worth it.

Honestly, November was pretty awesome this year.  I had already arranged to spend an extra day downstate over Thanksgiving because my birthday was the day before it this year.  I took the Amtrak down early and played around in Springfield some. :)  I found a neat little cafe for lunch, ordered food to the room, went swimming no less than 4 times in 24 hours, and really enjoyed the alone time.   I had a party too, the weekend before which was also awesome (but i can't find the pictures from it...weird..) but it was all really nice.
Plus, it led into Thanksgiving down at my aunt's. She just got a new place so it was fun to see what that was like and still have the big traditional trip and feast.  

This December was more or less all a big buildup to the holidays.  We didn't get our snow, sadly, but I can say we had a pretty wonderful Christmas, and one I was really looking forward to.
I did get a really neat opportunity too, though. :)
One of my friends invited me to a Christmas cocktail party at a local mansion!  It was really exciting and again, something I wasn't entirely comfortable with right off the bat (because it was all formal and because I'm a bit of an introvert, and because I wouldn't know a lot of people) but I went and it.was.amazing.  The mansion was decorated with all kinds of sparkling lights, it was amazing to get dressed up and we felt like royalty all night long.
Apparently iphoto has done away with the photos from that night that weren't in the original post, but that wasn't that long ago, so take a look back if you want to know more.  It's a beautiful place, and I was really glad to go.

Christmas though? Even more awesome.  We were hosting Christmas this year, and we had EVERYONE here.  Not everyone literalaly, but my sister and her husband, plus my amazing and adorable nephew, my brother and his wife, my uncle, my aunt, my cousin and his wife and their two kids, and my friend Sarah.   It was a bit crazy with all those people, but we had a great time. Everyone got to stay for a while too.  We had a crazy time playing apples to apples, watching Collin try to walk, and just sitting and talking. Great food, lots of activity, and just...a great time.  

Family and friends really do make all the difference.   That's pretty much what I've learned the entire time I've been doing this retrospective.  This year was certainly not the best, and there's a lot of lowlights that you obviously don't get to read on here...but you know what? The people you love?  Kinda make that go away. So I hope this year is filled with people you love to help you through the hard times and make new good times.

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