Year in Review: What I Learned

This year flew by!

I started out the year with a whole bunch of MRIs and a general shrugging of the medical establishment.  Maybe I have a degenerative bone disease that teen gymnasts get?  See how it goes!

I got acupuncture for the first time and (for me at least) it was the bunkiest bunk that ever came to bunk town.

I quit my job to be intentionally unemployed.  I had the best quit party ever, complete with a pinata of a beer can.

And after quitting your job there’s really only one thing to do: go to Disneyworld.  I went for a day en route to Miami, where I had never been.  On the way we went to NASA and got to see the Vehicle Assembly Building, which is the largest single story building in the world.  I seriously cried at the wonder of science.


I walked around the Wynwood Walls, which is an amazing industrial neighborhood that is full of amazing graffiti.  There I committed to buying a DSLR and learning how to use it.  I went with my good friend Rachel and we saw art deco and jai alai and ate a ton of Cuban food.

Then I started the long process of going through my dad’s, grandparents’, great-grandparents’ and friend of the family’s stuff.  Because it is all in my condo.  A lot of it was easy to get rid of, and what I want is easy to glean, but the stuff to sell is all weird collectables that I need an appraiser for.  If an old man collected it, I own it.  I have a coin guy, a few watch guys, and a gun guy.  Selling a weird estate is hard, and though theoretically it may result in me getting some money, the per hour of work salary is pretty low.

I started taking singing lessons and learned a little bit how to sew.  I turned a year older than Jesus and stayed out long enough on my birthday that the brown line began running again for the morning commute.  I got to accompany my friend Sam to a production of his great play here in Chicago and walk around some cemeteries with him.

I ate at Next and Ing but also at Sheetz and Mario’s Fishbowl, and I enjoyed all of them.  I got up egregiously early to tour the Fermi Lab Particle Accelerator.  It was awesome.


Claire & Peter visited. Genie & Stu got married.


Chris & Elizabeth got married.  The Cubs played the Mets.

I saw a lot of metal shows with Paul.  And we did a bunch of podcasts.  And I went to the beach with Ellen before they both moved to Portland.

I read & fell in love with The Great Gatsby.  I saw the movie in 3D with Zach and it was shockingly better than I expected, but I thought it would be The Worst.

I took a trip to Pittsburgh with my friend Heather,


and then a road trip through West Virginia with Molly.  I found a pig in the Morgantown, WV Ramada parking lot.


I saw The Mountain Goats for the first (and second) time.  I hit both WV and MD for the first time.

I made a commitment to see more movies in the theaters which meant a lot of movies I wouldn’t normally see.  I saw my first Fast & Furious film and forty others which is some sort of record for me.

The American Library Association had their conference in Chicago, so I got to see a lot of friends.  I ate the best pie I have ever eaten at Gilt Bar.

I went to my first Comicon in San Diego.  Thanks to my friend Eric R. I got to meet the cast of Grimm, Wayne Knight, Roseanne Barr, and William Shatner.  My fb profile pic is me and William Shatner still, because what can beat that?


I went to a seriously life changing panel where I met John Layman and Ed Brubaker (among other giants) and totally dorked out.  I learned which kind of geek/nerd I am and which I am not.

I went to Stone Brewery and spent almost a week in Orange County with my friends I & T.  We ate all the amazing food and saw the Nixon Library.


The ocean seriously beat me up in Laguna.  We went to Knotts Berry Farm and got to go on real roller coasters!  Then I went to LA to hang with Tavis, Rachel & Brett.  We met Yakov Smirnoff.


I got to visit the Museum of Jurassic Technology, one of my favorite places in the world.

Mary & I went on what I think is our best road trip ever throughout Appalachia.  We went to bluegrass fests, mountain dance fests and the Carter Family Homeplace.  This was the hardest vacation to plan since so many awesome places were left on the table.  But it was amazing and we made all the right decisions.  We spent like half a day in a library one of the days.  Glorious.  We ate at White Duck Taco, meals I dream about still.  We visited Billy Graham’s home place, the Andy Griffith Museum, the Cheng & Eng Bunker Museum, the Foxfire Museum, and Bob Jones University.  I visited GA and SC for the first time.  It was really pretty:


I finally came home and Adam visited from Philadelphia with a free ticket to the Cubs/Phillies game.  I went to Champaign and saw tons of great people and set up some work for the coming year.

Then I went on a cruise with my friend Matt and a whole bunch of podcast nerds and famous people.  Three of my heroes hugged me.


I made a ton of friends.  I got real sunburned and visited the Bahamas for the first time.  I ate conch.  I saw a man ride a horse in the ocean.


I got a behind the scenes tour of the Field Museum with the AMAZING Emily Graislie of The Brain Scoop and met some great adult Nerdfighters.


After much work, I got a new iphone.

I fell in love with Baltimore


and went to a professional conference.  The trip renewed my faith in solo travel and my profession.  I went to the Pentagon, the DEA, and the Laogai Museum.  Then I went to see Dan & Laura.  We went to Foamhenge and saw a Holocaust Denier.


I started going to a regular meditation group I really like.  I went to NYC over Thanksgiving, and a lot of people were in town and I got to hang out with so many of them, despite getting food poisoning while sleeping on my poor friend Eric‘s couch.  It was the first time I got sick all year, which is shocking based on the number of planes I was on.  I spent my first and only night in New Jersey visiting the very pretty Asbury Park.


I went to the TBN studios and my friend’s new restaurant.

I faced my first homeowner crisis and, though it was terrible, it’s over!  I had Steaks for Frank.  Lots of friends visited for Christmas.  Chris & Angie had a big anniversary party.  Dan & Cherry got married.

Sometimes when I tell people I am purposefully unemployed they ask what I could possibly do with all the time.  Or they assume I do very little.  I’ll admit I didn’t accomplish every goal I set out for this year, but it wasn’t until I actually checked out my flickr and foursquare feeds for the year that it really hit me–I’ve been busy.  Without this time off I’d never have had the ability to see so many friends, learn so many things, or make so many memories.  The ability to have a friend call me and ask if I want to take a weekend to go to a city we’ve both never been to at the drop of a hat has been priceless.

With my brand spanking new camera I took a picture of my favorite place in the city.  The Calder Flamingo:



Have a great 2014!

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