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This year was a hot dumpster fire, right?! 2016 as a whole was not great for a lot of people I know – and honestly, it wasn’t my best year ever. But, there were a few things worth noting, and in the interest of my ongoing quest to stay positive, here are the ten best things that happened to me this year.
- Hey New York City, I Love It When You Turn On Your Lights: I had a lot of really great trips and experiences this year, but the one that was the best was the trip I took to New York a few weeks ago. I went with a few of my best friends and made a ton more friends – oh, yeah, and saw my favorite band play four nights in a row. As a bonus, I also got to see Laura Stevenson for the first time, as well as the precursor band for The Hold Steady, Lifter Puller. (And got a Lifter Puller shirt, which I barely want to take off.) I also ate a lot of pizza, had amazing conversations with an author I have long loved who is also a fan of the band, and just being around people who love the band as much as I do (after almost 10 years of having no one to talk to about them) was pretty cool.
- I Think I’ll Go To Boston: Dani and I have long planned to move to Chicago, and the time is almost here. In May, I went to Boston for what I thought was my last trip before she moved, and it was really great. We went to bookstores, got take out and watched TV at home, went to the Sam Adams brewery, escaped oppressive heat in an ice bar and brunched. Also, pizza tour. We also met up with one of my other friends who had recently moved to the city as well. It was a great break from Nashville, and I’ll miss her little apartment a lot!
- Tune It Up to Memphis Time: Nashville is only three hours from Memphis, but it still took me a year and a half to get there – which was probably a good thing, since from the first sight, I didn’t want to leave. SJ and I went for a weekend trip guided by Cory Branan (well, kind of – he tweeted me his “must sees,” and we did our best to follow the itinerary) and I never wanted to leave. Stax Museum, Sun Records, so much barbeque, dive bars, and Beale St. – it was a really great trip, and it even continued my streak of absentmindedly walking through movie sets as they were filming Million Dollar Quartet outside our Airbnb. (I went back later in the summer and went to Ardent Studios, where hundreds of huge albums were recorded. The record that had me falling over in the lobby? New Miserable Experience, of course.)
- Man, I’m So Tired of (Not) Running: I started racing again! Just two 5ks, neither of which had very remarkable times, but after two years of inconsistent running and then an injury right after I started to regularly work out again, it’s a start. I have my eyes set on a couple of different halfs for next year, and I’m excited to set some PRs.
- Cory Branan’s Got An Evil Streak: The saddest part of leaving Nashville is the reduced access to Cory Branan shows. This year, I saw him six times, including for my birthday. He kind of became my substitute for The Hold Steady – when they went on hiatus, I found that his shows were where I felt happiest. I stand in the front of the crowd and shout out for sad songs and I always know it’s going to be the best part of my month. Hearing “Visiting Hours,” a song from the upcoming album, at SPACE was a highlight (and it’s been stuck in my head since July.)
- Rock Me Baby Like A Wagon Wheel: Folk Alliance is like folk music family reunion meets South by Southwest, and it was the best music conference I’ve ever been to. Three full floors of hotel rooms have showcases for 13 hours a day, plus six-seven official showcase stages running concurrently: it was like a dream. I saw Penny & Sparrow play in a suite, stumbled upon a band I now love a lot just by passing by a room and liking what I heard, saw Nashville friends play, and saw Grand Rapids band The Crane Wives for the first time since I graduated from college. People talk about Disney World being the happiest place on earth, but they’ve never been to the Kansas City Westin during that week in February. (I also got to see my cousin and go to a brewery with him, and anytime I get to see my family is a great perk.)
- I Can’t Get the Hell Out of Tennessee: Moving out of Nashville was not logistically easy for me at all. Even though I thought I had a great plan in place as to moving things to Chicago for storage and dumping some things at NP’s in Ohio – when it came down to it I ended up running out of time and panicking. Dani is forever my savior, and she flew down the last weekend I was there and packed up the leftovers of my apartment around me when I wasn’t able to take off work. We also did the touristy Nashville things for the last time, like eating our body weight at the Loveless Cafe. I am so thankful that she came in in the clutch, and that I got to show her some of the city before I moved.
- I Saw Some Old Friends: I hadn’t seen Pedal Steel in an excruciatingly long time, but a work project brought him to Tennessee, so I headed over to spend the weekend with him and the UVa Baja Racing team. Though my Minnetonkas fell victim to walking the muddy racetrack, I had a really great time playing PA while he shot footage for a multimedia essay on the team. He also brought me two six packs of Positive Jam, The Hold Steady beer, and I could not have been happier 🙂
- And If I Live Past 72, I Hope I’m Half As Cool As You: One of the reasons I came home instead of trying harder to find a sublease in Chicago or somewhere else was to help out with my grandparents. It can be stressful and overwhelming sometimes (like the time I had a little breakdown in the kitchen as I prepared the same lunch my grandma used to make me when I was little,) but I’m really thankful to get to spend this time with them while I can, and try to help out a little when they’ve given me so much.
- From a 727: Even though this year was supposed to be the “year of no travel,” things didn’t exactly turn out that way. Boston, Memphis and New York were just a few destinations – I ended up being on a plane every month from March-December. I had a great time and I’m glad I decided to go for the adventure.