2014 In Review: Life

Normally the Year In Review is the one Life blog post that i make sure to write before the end of each year. I like reflecting on the year and wrapping everything up in a neat little month-by-month post with pictures as visual aids. But this year i haven’t really felt the urge to write it yet. I did a horrible job of taking pictures outside of our Europe trip, for one thing, and for another i just haven’t felt terribly reflective this time around the block. For once, i spent December working to bring light to the darkest days of the year, and i spent New Year’s Eve sparkling and laughing with a heaping handful of some of my favorite people in the world rather than swallowing back tears, and i spent New Year’s Day starting work on a new story and a new read. I didn’t really pause to think a lot about 2014.

It was a really good year. It absolutely FLEW by, especially the first half. Nothing terribly bad happened—knock on wood. There was a moment when i had to step back and take a hard look at myself and decide to make an effort to be more empathetic, and that was actually really hard for me. But i think i’m improving, and it’s worth it. The year was mostly just a series of good things, which is all that a person can really ask for. There was a lot of Cards Against Humanity playing. That game… I don’t know.

JANUARY

NYE 2013 started off good but then it sucked and i cried and it’s not worth talking about. I’m over it. One of the goals that i set for 2014 was to try a local dance class, so in January, i did. I went to an adult hip-hop dance class, and i was one of two students in it. And thank goodness there weren’t more of us, because the studio was about the size of a shoebox. I didn’t go back, and i’m still keeping a wistful eye out for a dance class in Des Moines that i can join. I might have to break down and try Zumba instead.

FEBRUARY

In February we went to Baconfest, which involved 1. a very expensive ticket (which i shouldn’t complain about because they were gifted to us), 2. standing in line outside at the fairgrounds in frigid February for what felt like an hour, 3. standing in more, shorter lines inside to get very small but complimentary strips of bacon from different companies, and 4. paying more money for crazy bacon-infused foods of all sorts from the myriad restaurants in town. There was live music and a bacon queen and stuff. I was cranky, but it was pretty cool i guess. I wouldn’t pay to go back.

Our buddy Mike turned thirty so we went to Up-Down (the arcade bar) and El Bait Shop (the beer bar) with him and a bunch of friends. I think they continued on to other adventures, but we pooped out early because it’s getting hard to close the bars down these days. Mike seemed pretty happy, unlike some people who are also turning thirty right about now.

MARCH

I think it was in March that i had my gastroscopy and learned that my heartburn is sort of imaginary. In any case, there’s nothing wrong with my upper GI, so that was wonderful news. It was also in March that i made a road trip to the twin cities with Calee to see the Arcade Fire. We stayed with her fiancé’s family and they fed me stuff and let me use a bedroom in their lovely house for free, both of which are always hugely appreciated. Cards (Against Humanity) were played. Calee and i made a good team at IKEA, and i scored a couple of bookcases for $20 off. There may have been a little bit of a meltdown at one point, but eventually we managed to eat dinner and get our butts to the show and we weren’t even late. Dan Deacon sort of sucked, but the Arcade Fire was amazing. I ended up really glad i went.

APRIL

In April i joined Calee again for the Har Mar Superstar show at the new Social Club here in DSM. I really didn’t know what i was in for when i agreed to that show. Har Mar has been described as looking like Ron Jeremy, but i think he looks even a little skeezier. And he likes to take his top off and act all sexy while he sings. Excellent voice, but not so pleasing on the eyes. (Yes, i get that that’s supposed to be amusing and/or empowering, but for me it was just weird.) And Gloom Balloon was not my kind of show, either. Thank goodness for MAIDS. I enjoyed them quite a lot, and in fact that reminds me that i need to buy their album…

MAY

In May i took my mama to Ewing Park as a Mother’s Day date. The lilacs were in bloom and the place just smelled like heaven. It’s one of the best things about Des Moines. Later in the month, Nathan and i drove down to St. Louis for my brother’s birthday celebration. We did an epic vertical of The Abyss, a big imperial stout. It was interesting how a couple of the bottles somehow stood out; I think about three years old was the sweet spot, if i remember correctly. We played Cards Against Humanity. For the first time, but not the last, i didn’t win.

JUNE

In June Nathan and i went to see Electric Six at the Vaudeville Mews for the second time. It was worth staying up for. Later in the month we flew to Oregon for my sister’s wedding. Hanging out with my family at Eugene’s excellent beer spots was good fun. The coast was beautiful, as always. We even managed to catch a perfect sunset! I got to see my Dad’s new house, and got a huge surprise when he gave me an old popcorn tin full of my long-lost My Little Ponies. The wedding was really beautiful, and i wish i’d camped out at the Tipi village there like my sister had wanted me to.

Ponies!

Me and my sister
Me and Nathan
Wedding photos courtesy of Amanda Basteen

JULY

In July i went to 80/35 with my friend Emily again. The lineup this year was pretty disappointing, but we did get to see Best Coast and Surfer Blood, both of which were a lot of fun. The men joined us at the festival later in the evening, since i assumed there would be a fireworks show on the 4th like there was a few years back. Not the case. So, we got kind of screwed out of fireworks this year. I may end up sitting 80/35 out in 2015 unless they book someone i really want to see.

Later in the month our buddy Justin got married, and Nathan was a groomsman in the wedding. It was the kind of reception you could dance at—as long as you didn’t mind pretty bad music and a somewhat sweltering barn—and so of course i did just that. I wore a very shimmery dress and it was a lot of fun. We managed to take a six-person selfie with Nathan’s family (that doesn’t show my dress at all, sorry).

selfie

AUGUST

In August i suddenly decided that it was time for us to add a third car to our fleet, and so we found and brought home the 2009 Honda Fit (in Blackberry Pearl). It’s pretty cute and fuel-efficient, and it’s supposed to be very safe and reliable. I’m happy with it.

I had a low-key birthday party at which we played not Cards Against Humanity but Munchkin, and discovered that we liked the game a lot. On my actual birthday Nathan and i went to the Iowa State Fair again. We had somehow never had a peppermint ice cream sandwich from the Bauder’s Pharmacy cart, and when that was rectified it was a real epiphany. I also got a henna tattoo on my arm, and we watched a goat showing that was nearly as silly as we had hoped it would be.

Toward the end of the month we took a trip to Decorah on some rather confusing information about a beloved beer that turned out not to actually be there just yet. We made the most of it by going to see the eagles and venturing a very short way into a very interesting cave. I also bought a beautiful journal in the bookstore there that was used to document our Europe trip, so all was not in vain.

I went to see Future Islands by myself here in DSM, and i’m kind of glad i didn’t bring anyone because it was a strange show. There was a lot of pantomiming of eating things, and i don’t think i’ve ever seen anyone sweat so profusely. Good music, weird show.

SEPTEMBER

In September we went to Zombie Burger with some friends and family to celebrate Nathan’s 30th birthday! And then we hopped on a plane for Europe. I’ve told the first part of that story, and i might even tell the second half some day. For the record, Vienna was my favorite part. It’s an amazing city. Oktoberfest in Munich was good inebriated fun. I was proud of the amount i drank, and i didn’t even get sick! It’s like an enormous carnival, though, and there was no way i was getting on a carnival ride after all that. Still, it was fun to walk around and look at everything. And there was plenty of fun stuff to eat and shop for and take pictures of. It was a good time even for a lightweight like me.

OCTOBER

In October my alcohol tolerance was put to the test once again at Nathan’s exclusive birthday beer tasting party. What i had learned at Oktoberfest was to stuff myself with plenty of bready foods before drinking, and that method coupled with lots and lots of tap and bottled water was effective in getting me through all of the twentyish strong beers (which were each split many ways and spread out over many hours, but it was still a fair amount of alcohol for a single day). I tried them all! And once again did not get sick. Good job, me.

Jimmy Eat World just happened to play Des Moines on Calee’s 30th birthday, so obviously that’s how we celebrated it. They played the entire Futures album because it was ten years old, which is just weird. I remember when that album was brand new, when i was in college. Was that really a decade ago?

Unfortunately my employer had to lay off twenty percent of the payroll in October, but my job was spared. I’m really not confident that the company will last more than a couple more years, but the Powers That Be are, for whatever reason. So we’ll just have to see what happens. I’m not leaving yet, and if you’re curious as to why i’d be happy to tell you (it’s not interesting), but it’s not a very relevant thing to talk about here.

I ran outside not once but TWICE this fall! I usually like to take one run in the cemetery on the most perfectest day of the year, but there were a couple of days that were irresistibly pretty this October, so i doubled my usual achievement. (I run indoors a couple times a week, i just don’t much like running outside the way normal human beings do.)

I carved pumpkins at Emily’s house and i think went to a book club meeting at a member’s gorgeous backyard patio in Norwalk in October, and just generally walked around loving everything. I love October so much. Love love love.

Oh, and we went to a Halloween party dressed as Wayne & Garth from Wayne’s World. I was Wayne, wearing a hat that i puff-painted the WW logo onto very nicely, freehand, and Nathan was Garth. I fluffed up his long hair as best i could, but it’s so thick and heavy! It’s not fair.

NOVEMBER

In November i participated in NaNoWriMo again. And won! But i’m still hugely unsatisfied with the quality of my fiction writing. So in 2015 i’m going to try to write every single day, even if only a paragraph, and focus on quality instead. I just want to write a few good short stories, i don’t care about writing a novel right now. I don’t think i’ll be doing WriMo again unless i develop some mad new skills before then.

Thanksgiving was really nice, and then we went Bourbon County pillaging shopping on Black Friday. I’m not a big fan of getting up at like 5 a.m., but my husband does a lot for me, so i do this for him once or twice a year. Plus, it’s really excellent beer.

A friend of ours had a surprise 30th birthday party at Skate North, so we went rollerblading at an actual roller rink for the first time since about 8th grade. It was so much fun! If only it hadn’t been 100° in the place, and if only my feet hadn’t started blistering after an hour or so. I kind of want to go back really bad. I might have to copy the idea for my 30th, but who knows how hot it will be in there in August if it was that hot in November?

Skating party

DECEMBER

In December(ish?) my brother passed his licensure exam for psychology!! So he came up here to visit and let us help him celebrate. A couple of my cousins were also visiting, so we got together with a bunch of the in-towners and played—you guessed it!—Cards Against Humanity. Which is an extremely awkward game for family to play together, but it was fun anyway. We’re all pretty weird. My aunt Vicki cleaned the floor with all of us though, which sucked.

I finally got to host a book club discussion about The Night Circus! I went overboard, serving caramel corn and chocolate mice and mulled cider and cinnamon twists and red wine, and gifting each guest with a red rêveur scarf. I hung extra white Christmas lights up around the windows and played Erin Morgenstern’s Night Circus playlist. I only ended up with four guests, but it was totally worth it. I love that book so much, and to be able to inspire a little bit of that love in each of them was awesome.

I got to see a couple of other dear, dear out-of-town friends this December. You know, i might be starting to love December, even if i still hate Christmas music…

Christmas (Eve/Christmas Day) was lovely. Christmas is always lovely, isn’t it? I really enjoy picking out gifts for people—even more than i like getting gifts, i think, although i got a lot of very thoughtfully-chosen gifts this year and i’m very thankful. My family and friends know me really well, and that makes me feel all kinds of loved. Christmas to me is all about family and light and showing a little bit of love, so that’s what i tried to do this year. It’s a joy to make the effort when it comes to Christmas.

Nathan finished up his beautiful bar in our basement just in time for our New Year’s Eve party. I love it, and i’m super proud of him. He put a lot of work into our bar, and i hope we get to use it for many years to come. The party was wonderful and there were so many people and so many conversations and tasty things to eat and drink, and all six or seven hours of it flew by in the blink of an eye just like our wedding did, even though there was a lot less dancing involved. Those of us who made it until midnight toasted with sparkling wine and popped those confetti cracker things and blew on noisemakers, and it was wonderful and a great mess to clean up the next morning, but totally worth it. A couple friends who crashed at our house even got us breakfast and helped clean up. We’re very lucky. There are a few of our friends who will sadly be leaving Iowa in the next couple of years, but for now i just feel connected and happy and very fortunate to have them so near.

NYE Me!

If 2015 is anything like 2014, it’ll be a wonderful year. I’ll turn thirty this year. Bring it on! It’s going to be great fun, and i anticipate that my thirties are going to probably be better than my twenties were. So, thank you to everyone who made 2014 great. I’m going to try to pay it back this year. Let’s make it another great one!

My 2014 Song of the Year award goes to Red Eyes by The War on Drugs. We were listening to it when midnight struck. I can’t get enough of it.

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