2017 in Review: Globally Awful but Personally Lovely

Thursday, December 28, 2017

I've been pretty lucky to have a few good years in a row. What does it say about me if I'm perpetually living in fear of waiting for the other shoe to drop?

OK, wait, let's not think about that. Let's think, instead, about the year we're leaving behind, which was a pretty darn good one.

Let's take a look back, shall we?

For the second year in a row, we rang in the new year with friends at Darren & Lilly's apartment, eating cheese & charcuterie & enchiladas & donuts & only watching "New Year's Rockin' Eve" in the two minutes before the ball dropped. Perfect!

My first trip of the year was to Austin in January for my friend Jill's bachelorette party. I only knew one other attendee, but was so much fun to get to know Jill's friends - & how fun is Austin? I need to get back ASAP, for those breakfast tacos if nothing else.

We spent a weekend in Pittsburgh visiting friends & for a change of scenery. Though very cold, we hit up a delicious dinner, had drinks on a twinkly, enclosed rooftop patio, ate a boozy brunch, & had a quick, caffeinated meetup with another set of friends.

I staffed a teen conference in Chicago, where it was unseasonably warm - but I never even left the hotel, so it didn't really matter! I did get to spend time with some great coworkers, & I was proud of the work we did at the event. 

We discovered lots of great new places in the CLE, including Western Reserve Meadery, Hi & Dry, Brewnuts, Chow Chow Kitchen at the Parkview, HiHo Brewery back in my hometown, & lots of others. I look forward to seeing what opens in 2018! 

I took a work trip to D.C. for a team retreat, where we did a bunch of team-building activities & learned about our own work styles. For the first but not the last time this year, I sucked up my fear of public speaking & gave a presentation on SEO, blog headlines, & online marketing.

Mike & I hit up New Orleans for our friends Jill & Michael's wedding. It was Mike's first time there, so we did a whirlwind tour & tried to fit in as much as we could, including the Pharmacy Museum, the oldest bar in America, & a little voodoo visit. 

I struggled with losing my best friend after we had a major falling-out in March. I haven't talked much (read: at all) about it, but it weighed on me for the entire year, & I'm only now starting to come to terms with it - if that's even possible.

We headed to D.C. for another wedding, this time celebrating our friends Allison & Ryder. We were only there for 24 hours, but it was worth it for a wedding full of a bunch of my closest friends in a snazzy, trendy art gallery.

Speaking of art, I photographed as much Cleveland street art as I could, starting in the Hingetown neighborhood of Ohio City. I haven't done a blog post on it yet, but stay tuned in 2018 - & send me tips on where to find your favorite murals! 

My now-sister-in-law graduated from Ohio University, so the whole family made the trip down to Athens, OH (where I attended my first three years of college) to watch her & their cousin William walk. Such a proud day.

In May, Mike & I moved into a new apartment & signed a whopping three-year lease. It's a great place, right in the heart of the Tremont neighborhood (three blocks from our old place), & there's great comfort in knowing we're settled in for a little while.

On Instagram, I talked about body image & my ongoing struggles with weight loss, size acceptance, body positivity, etc. It was a moment of vulnerability that I was terrified to post, but to my relief & gratitude, people responded with such kindness.

We hit up tons of fun events around Cleveland, including Ale Fest, two shows at Playhouse Square, the Festival of Trees, my first church basement fish fry, a pierogi festival (also in a church basement), the Cleveland Asian Festival, & multiple Cleveland Fleas - to name a few. 

My friend Marchae & I presented a Lit Cleveland session on blogging to about a dozen newbies who were incredibly enthusiastic to learn about our favorite online medium. It took place in my new favorite book store, Loganberry Books.

In July, we spent a long weekend at a cabin in Pennsylvania with my cousins & some friends. I've been going to the cabin since childhood, but this was Mike's first visit, & I loved showing him this piece of my past. Unfortunately, we didn't see any bears.

I had jury duty... kind of. It was my first time ever being called, & though I didn't end up on a case, I did have a surprising amount of fun doing my civic duty & waiting in a nearly windowless room for a week with total strangers & spotty wifi.

We went back to D.C. for the wedding of my cousin Patrick & his longtime girlfriend, Claire, this time accompanied by my mom. We didn't see much of the city, but we did love celebrating with them at a fancy Georgetown wedding with a reception at a nature reserve.

My aunt threw me a bridal shower attended mostly by family friends - though my maid of honor did drive up from Tennessee for it. Toast in Gordon Square was the perfect spot for a lovely, intimate get-together with these wonderful women.

I attended my first Cleveland blogger event, a meetup at Hi & Dry right here in my own neighborhood, where I met local bloggers new & old. It also paved the way for me to feel comfortable attending other events, like a menu reveal at the Rowley Inn & a pizza party at Platform.

I spent lots of time with N, my "little sister" from Big Brothers Big Sisters. We mostly go out to eat - including a trip to Olive Garden - but we also visited the toy store Big Fun, hit up the Feast of the Assumption, toured a candy warehouse, & went to a Cavs watch party.

Thanks to the organizing skills of seven of my closest friends, I had a bachelorette party weekend in Savannah, GA, that involved no penis-shaped things & no public sash-wearing, which was exaaaaactly the kind of party I wanted.

My mom & I spent a week at the beach thanks to her timeshare (so '80s!) in Hilton Head Island, SC. Her friend Gloria joined us, which helped diffuse any possible mother/daughter tension, & the whole vacation was so much-needed & relaxing.

My friend Lilly & I spent a night in Detroit to see a live show of our favorite podcast, My Favorite Murder. We loved the show but couldn't figure out Detroit's Greektown, which seems to be full of nothing but clubs - so we spent the night drinking boxed wine in our hotel room.

Our friends Trevor & Callie got married in Geneva, OH, so Mike & our friends & I spent the night in cabins on Lake Erie after attending their beautiful reception at Trevor's parents lake house right on the water. Such a pretty weekend!

For the third year in a row, we dressed up as Harry Potter characters for Halloween. This year, I was Tonks, & Mike was Lupin - though we were only really identifiable as such when standing next to one another. Can we do it again next year? Stay tuned!

On November 11, 2017, Mike & I got married in a beautiful ceremony here in Cleveland, attended by 170 of our loved ones. The party that followed was, in a word, epic, & marrying the love of my life was easily the happiest day of my life.

We haven't taken a honeymoon yet, but we took a few days off work & spent an "afternoon honeymoon" in Amish country. It included a cheese factory, Ohio's oldest general store, homemade mac & cheese, & a covered bridge.

I spent Thanksgiving with my whole family (minus my new husband), who all gathered together for the first time in more than five years. We met up in Cincinnati for a throwback holiday celebration that was so very joyful.

My mom retired after 16.5 years as the head of the children's department at my hometown library. She was worried she'd be bored or wouldn't know what to do with herself, but now she's turning into a gym rat & learning how to sleep in.

I was published in Cleveland Magazine for the first time in more than 10 years, since I was a college intern there, after an entertainment editor there read my book reviews here on this blog & reached out to be about freelancing. 

Mike & I hosted Friendsgiving at our apartment, finding it a worthwhile use of our leftover wedding booze. It was one of the smaller versions of this annual gathering, but it was a lot of fun, aided by copious amounts of baked mac & cheese & the joy of testing Alexa's limits.

I saw two of my favorite musical acts live: Billy Joel for the first time (be still my heart) with my mom at Progessive Field, & Jimmy Eat World for the fourth time, at Blossom with friends. (The latter opened for Incubus, but we left when they came on.)

On the work front, I staffed my organization's biennial convention in Boston, with headlining speakers like Senator Elizabeth Warren, author David Grossman, & actress Fran Drescher.

I read 76 books this year, surpassing my goal of 60. The longest book I read was Stephen King's 11/22/63, a book club read; my shortest was for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. Stay tuned for a roundup of my favorite books of the year, coming soon.

We celebrated Hanukkah & Christmas together & with family. My mom even came to my in-laws' house for Christmas! It was a simultaneously stressful but low-key holiday season, with lots going on but also plenty of time to chill.

Whew, what a year! More good than bad, at least on the personal front, but I can't even begin to speak about politics & global concerns. I have a feeling those will continue into 2018, but I continue to hope for - & work toward - better.

Tell me: What are some of the best things that happened to you in 2017? What are you looking forward to in the coming year? 

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