2011 down, 2012 to go.

It’s the last Friday of the year, and after an infuriating final Thursday of the year, during which I couldn’t so much as type an appropriate sentence, I’m back in the swing of things. Maybe it’s waking up at the crack of dawn that gets my productive gears in motion. Or maybe I was just really in need of a good night’s sleep.

The past few weeks, months have been a complete blur. Ever since I returned from my trip, it’s been difficult getting in to a real routine. Being unsure of what to do with the end of my year, I decided to take on a seasonal retail gig at a small design store at one of the local malls. I probably couldn’t have asked for a better retail experience (my first after 27 years on the planet). I met lots of interesting folks and learned that when I really want to, I can be a pretty decent saleswoman. I also learned that most of us don’t really need things like spaghetti measures, but that when we see one that is aesthetically pleasing and functional, we tend to wonder how we ever did without it.

2011 has been a strange year, to say the least. I recall 2010 ending and wanting nothing more than to get on with my life. I’m ready for this one to end as well, but it’s almost bitter sweet. I’ve had so many incredible moments this year and met so many amazing people, people that helped me along the way, people that have inadvertently changed my life for the better, whether they realize it or not. Luck has really been on my side. It had to be when I left home with not more than $400 in my pocket and managed to see a fair amount of this country on my own, sleeping on the couches of complete strangers, traveling on buses and trains with all my possessions in tow.

I don’t even really know how to list everything that’s happened. Eventually, some of those stories will get thrown in to a book. For now, here’s a short run down of my favorite moments of 2011:

The day my nieces were born. My sister in law had an extremely complicated pregnancy and had to be on bed rest for 6 of the months that she was pregnant. The girls were supposed to be born in June but April 22nd, they decided they couldn’t wait any longer. I was having some post-work cocktails at Sunset Tavern with my friend Allie when I got the call to rush over to South Miami Hospital. At 3 and 4 lbs respectively, my twin nieces, Sophie Faith and Chloe Grace Gomez were born. Considering I don’t really want to have children of my own, it’s nice to have two that I can mold into my ways without actually having to do the whole “giving of birth” thing. More than that, it’s nice to see how happy my entire family is now that they’re here – these brand new little humans! Side note: It’s been 8 months and I still haven’t changed a diaper. Go me!

On a side note: They are pretty damn cute, aren’t they? Sophie’s got my scowl, for sure. Punk rock.

Getting rained on in NYC. I must have gotten soaked practically every night that I was in NYC this past summer. Even though it was a nuisance, it was the best way to get my trip going – a real cleanse. The rain is also how I met some new awesome NYC folks (Danny and Lori). And even though by the end of my week there I was practically cursing the city, it made me realize that to love something, you really gotta love everything about it, even when it’s got you running ankle deep in cold puddles.

The magic hour (specifically the day of the carnival) in Athens, Ohio. I didn’t know what to expect when I was traveling to Ohio. I was going to hang out with my old internet friend Adam (who i’d met the previous year in Miami for a drink) for two weeks. It all felt a bit strange. Luckily, the barriers came down quickly and we became fairly close (as much as two people being together nearly 24 hours a day for 14 days can be). One of his favorite traditions was to go outside when the sun was setting, what he termed: The Magic Hour. Like falling in love, we stood outside practically every afternoon watching the colors of the sky alternate, pinks and violets and lavenders and periwinkles, detailed with pale stratus and cumulus and cirrus.

On one particular afternoon, we went on an afternoon date to the Athens County Fair and the magic hour hit just as we were leaving. After hours of ferris wheeling and nacho eating, it was the perfect end to a fantastic day.

Seeing windmills for the first time en route to Chicago from Colombus, Ohio. Something in me changed at that moment. I imagined understanding what Quixote saw. I imagined more.

A tour of St. Louis with a comedian, listening to Bon Iver’s self-titled. I was on my way to St. Lou from Chicago, happy to be out of the city that held me captive for 2 weeks longer than it should have, when I started messaging back and forth with a comedian on one of those awfully familiar and free dating sites (you know the one). Kevin (not his real name – have I mentioned that I usually switch names out yet? If I haven’t, there’s the disclaimer) first picked me up from the free art museum (St. Louis has an incredible amount of free entertainment!) and took me out for some pizza and conversation. While I was staying with other (also equally as awesome) people in the STL, I mostly hung out with Kevin. He asked me if i’d ever heard of Bon Iver (pronounced bon hiver in French, but they drop the H for some reason). I said no, because I’d never heard the name pronounced like that. Then it hit me that the name meant “good winter” in French, and I felt instantly silly at never having made the connection before. We listened to their self-titled album several times as Kevin was really into it and so was I. It just so happened that it was one of the few albums I listened to on repeat throughout my entire trip. If you haven’t downloaded/bought it yet, please do yourself a favor and go do it right now. Here’s one of my favorite tracks to convince you to do it:

My situation with Kevin was much different than my situation with others, and I’m still not sure why. Sometimes I still wonder.

A night on Frenchmen Street (New Orleans). I fell in love with New Orleans the minute I arrived. The Amtrak terminal was nothing special, and I was upset at how hot it was compared to STL. Still, there was something about the energy of the place. I stayed with several Couchsurfers while I was there, plus an old friend from Miami, so I was able to get a nice idea of what the different neighborhoods were like. But mostly, it was Frenchment Street that got me by the heart strings. On one particular afternoon, I wandered over and hung out at the BMC, where I met an old tugboat captain who later invited me to dinner and a smoke at his apartment across the way. He introduced me to the Apple Barrell and Checkpoint Charlie’s and the Blue Nile. From there, I hung out with a keyboardist who was playing while I was at the BMC. He took me on my first Vespa ride around the museums and back to the Quarter and then I hung out with my friend Karina and her friends, hopping between reggae at Cafe Negril and jazz at Maison. On another night, we wound up at Mimi’s where I met (and subsequently forgot) several handsome gentleman and ran in to my first NOLA hook up, a sweet and unusual boy who had treated me to ice cream and a mini-tour of the Quarter some days prior. There really is no better way to describe those nights on Frenchmen other than complete and absolute FUN.

Settling in with my group of girl friends. I think it’s been a while since I had a female pack of ladyfriends, but i’d say right now that’s who make up the majority of my social circle. It’s nice to have people that you can depend on, bitch to, and hang out with. They’re the people who make Miami life worth living. To my girls, thank you for making 2011 freaking awesome!

As for now, I need to get ready for a shopping date with one of my ladyfriends, to hunt down an outfit for NYE. I’m putting together some CDs for the drive around town, catching up with 2011’s best of (thanks, Pitchfork!)

Happy 2011 to all of you!

 

PS. You may have noticed some changes to the site. More where that came from very soon!

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