2012: The best year

[Editor’s Note: My apologies for the late-ness of this post … I was busy leading up to the new year and have been pretty busy since and haven’t had time to sit down and write. Well, now I have some time to sit back and reminisce on 2012 and put it on (hypothetical) paper.]

Graduating from Central Michigan University in 2011 still stands as the single greatest moment in my life, which rightfully so made 2011 the best year of my life.

Until 2012 came along.

The year didn’t start off so great, as it included the my first real heartbreak. However, the relationship had started on difficult circumstances, so I was lucky enough that it even lasted as long as it did. Needless to say, I am a better person now for going through that experience.

Now on to the fun stuff, the things that made 2012 so epic.

Family

The birth of my niece Taylor in 2011 made it difficult for ’12 to top ’11, but simply seeing Taylor age and grow so quickly over the last year has been life-changing its own right. Prior to her birth, I did not like babies, or young kids for that matter. Maybe it is just me being biased because she is my niece, but I love Taylor like she is my own child. She is amazing, she is beautiful, and I am glad to be her uncle. I just can’t wait until she can fully speak and will be able to say “Uncle Chris.”

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I’m just happy I became an uncle before I became a father.

Writing & Photography

My writing and photography took off in 2012 by doing freelance work for The Township View. I was a bit weary at first about shooting photos since I don’t yet have top-of-the-line equipment (although I’m getting there, eventually), but the photos I took and had published exceeded my expectations tenfold.

I covered a few baseball and softball games in the spring which moved into football during the fall, giving me something to on Friday nights which I haven’t gotten to do since high school; watch football.

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Except this time it was different … I was on the field, working, getting paid to watch football, shoot photos, and then later write a story — exactly what I went to college to do.

I am so proud of the job I have done, not only while being behind the camera, but talking with coaches and writing stories and getting down to more than just the final score is really enjoyable. Granted, I do not find myself in the most ideal position since graduating college, but at least it’s a start.

It is awesome seeing my writing and photography skills turn into money, allowing me to get better equipment to further my skills and build on my profession (and hobby, of course). I have finally gotten paid to do what I love to do: watch sports, write, and shoot photos.

Bennigan’s

Geez, where do I start with this one?

When I started at Bennigan’s in August 2011, I made it known I had no intentions of being there more than a year. I had just moved back home after graduating and it was a temporary, part-time job just to get my feet back on the ground until I got a job as a journalist somewhere.

Then, enter June 2012.

Never in my dreams did I think I would e given the opportunity to be a corporate trainer and travel the country and world. But, someone saw something in me they liked and saw the potential in me to do so, and I was given that chance and made the most of it. I consider myself fortunate for having such an opportunity, and I never have, nor never will, take it for granted.

[Houston, Texas]
It was my first time in Texas, and honestly the furthest west I had been in tha United States. Actually, I had been to California as a child, but I don’t remember it so I don’t count it as me having been there. Previously, the furthest west I had been was Houghton, Mich., which is actually further west than Chicago.

Aside from the humidity and heat, Houston was awesome. (Get used to seeing that word, “awesome,” as it will be used a lot during this post.) Being part of an opening team for a new restaurant is a very eye-opening experience. It is cool to get to see what it takes to open a new restaurant; all the ins and outs and the training process of the new staff is really fun to see.it is amazing how quickly a restaurant can go from almost barebones to functional and open in a weeks time.

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Oh, and I had the opportunity to catch a Houston Astros game at Minute Maid Park, which the baseball fan in me was VERY giddy. Love that park.

[Plano, Texas]
Texas in August is … different. Especially in the Dallas area, where unlike the humidity in Houston, it is dry, and hot. There was only one time where the temperature dripped below 90 degrees when I was in Plano, and that was at like 3 or 4 in the morning. Otherwise, it was 110+ during the day and mid 90s at night. However, I would much rather take the weather in Plano than Houston. A much as I dislike heat, I would much rather it be a dry heat than humid.

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While I was in Dallas I got to see the JFK museum in the former Texas Book Depository, which was a very moving experience. Very cool to be in the very spot that changed American history. I was also able to catch a baseball game at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, which to date is my favorite big league ballpark.

[Fort Worth, Texas]
I can honestly say that aside from the sickness I was experiencing while in Fort Worth, it was the worst opening of the four I have done. Partly due to the fact I think I was mentally checked out the entire time I was there. The sickness had its part in me not being fully involved as I normally am during an opening, but I was too concerned with my trip to Dubai immediately after I returned home from Texas that I wasn’t 100 percent while there. And, I was upset that I had to leave them early and didn’t get to be there for the whole training process, so I think that led to it as well … like a “I’m leaving soon anyway,” mindset.

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Dubai, UAE
Best three weeks of my life, hands down. Experience of a lifetime, and I lived up every minute I was there. I never thought in a million years I would get to go to Dubai in my lifetime, let alone go there on someone else’s dime and get paid to be there. Life changing experience, to say the least.

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For a more detailed report on my trip to Dubai, there are 15 posts before this chronicling my trip.

It was a blast.

Friends

Thanks to my opportunities corporately at Bennigan’s, I met some very awesome people in 2012, many of whom I consider good friends, and dare I say family? They sure as hell feel like family.

From my Wisconsinites, to my Floridians, up to my Illinoisans, all the way over to Dubai to my Filipinos, Indians, Moroccans and Sri Lankans, and back to my two Michiganders (who I had to travel across the country to meet), my training partners and trainees are some people I hope to never forget.

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Not only to meet these people, but to get to travel the world and work alongside them has been a true blessing. I would go as far to say it has been an honor to meet these amazing people because now I have friends all over the country, and world, for that matter, that I can travel to and vacation to see them later down the road.

If for some reason I am not able to travel anymore, I would love to get everyone back together for one more beer by the pool in my trash can filled with ice for a cooler, or an overpriced Guinness at the bar, or for a link check, or for one last koosh.

I miss those guys already.

Car

For those of you who are familiar with Betty, my 1995 Buick LeSabre, you know how old she was and how much she was hurting. In 2012, with the help of some friends and family, I was able to rid myself of her and get into a “new” vehicle. As eager as I was to get a new car, I am nothing but grateful for how good to me she was for eight years. She’s been through rugged Upper Peninsula winters, countless mechanical issues and even been near totaled (not my fault, she was parked), she was a great vehicle. She just took a turn for the worse real quick and wasn’t going to last me much longer.

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My new ride is a (nameless) 2006 Grand Prix, she is a huge upgrade from Betty. Love that thing already, and I have only had her for about two weeks now. I’m not quite used to how she drives yet and what quirks she may have, but I’m learning. I love driving and now I love it even more that I have a newer, better car. Already have road trip ideas brewing in my head for this summer.

Review

I know I have forgotten some things that have happened this year, but I have touched base on all the major events that have happened in my life during 2012, and getting a new vehicle was the best way to end the year.

With e everything that happened in 2012 — my niece and family growing, my writing and photography taking off, traveling the country and world for free and getting a new car — aloof these things combined to make 2012 the best year of my life. Granted, graduating is still the single best moment in my life, but in terms of a calendar year, 2012 is tops out of them all.

Bring it on, 2013, you’ve got your work cut out for you.

Until next time …

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