Its that time of year again! You can add this to your list of “year in review” posts. I vowed to write more this year, and, as all New Year’s resolutions often go, it fell to the wayside after the first few months. However, I wanted to do another post-closing out the year as I did around the same time last year. It is easy for me to tell myself another year went by and think that I have not accomplished much this year. So this helps me practice some gratitude and realize some personal progress. Below I will take a couple of highlights from each month.
Boyfriend & Best Man Duties
Every year starts with my favorite gal’s birthday, and to celebrate, and we went to Morton’s Famous steakhouse. The meal was delicious, and the restaurant took our picture and framed it for us. That’s what I call service! Later on, in January, I went on a Bachelor’s weekend to New Orleans with one of my best buds and his groomsmen. I was the best man, so I organized the whole trip. I wrote a blog post shortly after going. More details on that trip here.
After winding down after the trip to the big easy, I took on the task of actually raising some money for my buddy Joe’s wedding. This was quite the task for me, considering I never planned a party before. However, I had some help from my friends. My friend Jordan helped me pick the venue and talk to the manager about the shindig. The venue, Crush Sports Bar, was pretty cheap, and I was able to raise enough money to cover the venue costs and then some with the tickets and the great raffle buckets we put together. Not bad for my first party planning experience! The only best man duty I had left was delivering my speech at the wedding the following month.
Weddings, Canada, & light backpacking
The big day finally came for Joey and Mary at the beginning of March. The wedding was fantastic, and I gave my speech without choking. Being the best man was a great experience, and it was an honor to be there for one of my oldest friends on his special day.
Later on that month, my buddy Vlad asked me if I wanted to take a trip up to Toronto, and I leaped at the opportunity. One Thursday night in the middle of March, Vlad and I took his rental car up into Montreal for a quick stop at his buddy Louis’s place. The next morning we jetted through Ontario, picking up another guy on the way to Toronto. We spent St. Patties day drinking beers and exploring the city. Overall, it was a great trip, and Vlad’s buddies always make me feel welcome.
Since the weather was getting warmer, and Dan & I were planning to go on a backpacking trip later on in the year, we decided it was time to do a trial run. The spot we chose was a small clearing off a hiking trail that is minutes away from where we grew up. The weather was perfect for the occasion and we had prime views of the Housatonic River. We even had a small run-in with a local who road his ATV through our campsite at sundown. We had a short conversation with him about the area and how it was prime for bonfires.
Taking our relationship to new heights…literally
After Toronto, life was business as usual until May when Becca and I took a quick road trip down to the Washington D.C area to her college friend. We took this same trip last year but this time, rather than go into the city, we went off the beaten path a bit. During our stay there we spent a lot of time in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley doing outdoorsy activities such as berry picking, winery hopping, and hiking. We also took a drive on the famous Shenandoah National Park’s skyline drive (pictures below), which I would visit again later on in the year. It was a very fun and relaxing time and we are always grateful for Stefanie’s (Becca’s friend) hospitality.
A Busy Month
June was a super busy but fun month. I saw a couple of great concerts in the city with my brother, Lee. We first saw the Local Natives rock out at Brooklyn Steel and a rather intimate Raconteurs show at a small bar called Coney Island Baby. The Raconteurs show was particularly awesome because Lee had won the tickets and it was a show promoting their new album so we were able to get a signed copy of the vinyl!
Every year, couple of my oldest friends, Jon and Joe, and I hit the Belmont race track to see the last leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes. This year we decided to take the train rather than drive to the track and we found this to be a better experience. We didn’t leave rich but we didn’t lose too badly either. Overall, it was a great time.
In addition to all of the fun stuff that month there were some points of stress. In May, I found out that my longtime roommate, Jon, landed a new job in Boston which meant me my other roommate, Dylan, had to find a new apartment in a hurry. This got a little complicated because I had to plan around my trip to Florida for a week-long trade show as well as the 10-day long road trip that I had planned out months prior. It was a miracle that I got everything in place before my July trip. I moved my stuff into my new place in New Haven right in time for my journey down South.
Back on the road
For the first couple of weeks of July, I was on the road with my best buddy, Dan. This was a follow-up trip to our cross-country trip that we took the year prior. We scaled down the trip in all aspects but this did not take away from how much fun we had. In many ways, this trip was even better than the one we had done a year before. We decided that we wanted to explore the South a little bit.
At the end of June, we packed up my Toyota Camry and took off. Our main destination was Ashville, North Carolina, a mecca for craft breweries. We made many stops on the way and each one had its own adventures. Highlights included staying with his cousin and her long-term boyfriend in West Virginia, seeing natural wonders like the Monmouth Caves in Kentucky, and a two-day backpacking trip in the Smoky Mountains of Tennesee/North Carolina. I would need an entire blog post to go over the details of this trip but let me assure you, Dan and I had an amazing time. We plan on having more trips like these in the coming years.
A Birthday Surprise
When I got back from my road trip, it was the week of my birthday. I never get super excited about my birthday and it usually comes and goes without much fanfare. However, this year I was very pleasantly surprised. On the day of my birthday, I went out to dinner with my parents and Rebecca had said that she had made fancy dinner reservations for the next day. She said that she had gone shopping with one of my good friends and needed to be picked up from a brewery that they had stopped at. To my surprise, I walked into a room full of my closest friends. Rebecca had organized a party for me! I was at a loss for words. She even got a custom Apple logo cake made for the occasion (I am a huge Apple fan). Thanks to my girlfriend, I was able to catch up with all my closest friends and I got to see one of my favorite comedians, Jerry Seinfeld. In addition to the party, Rebecca and I ended up getting a fancy sushi dinner and playing some retro games at Barcade. It was a truly wonderful birthday experience and I am grateful to have such a thoughtful partner.
A Historic Getaway
Rebecca has gotten quite familiar with city life and most of the Northeast since starting law school. However, she has not seen the most prominent and historic city in the area, Boston (and the witching city – Salem). So we had to change that…
We had an action-packed weekend of historic sites, brewery tours, and delicious food. Not to mention we got to see my former roomie’s new digs which included a gorgeous rooftop view of the Northend.
A Full-time New Yorker (almost)
Before the end of this summer, I had been working at a small AV Distribution company in Massachusetts called ZeeVee. Working for my good friend Garth was great and I learned a ton. However, it was time for me to move on. Rebecca and I are planning on moving in together in the NY later on this year so it was the opportune time to start making the transition into the city.
I landed a Marketing Associate position at a small AI software startup in midtown Manhattan called Aquant. I was one of their first marketing hires, so I now have the opportunity to help shape the department. It has been a huge adjustment to go from working from home to commuting in on the subway but it has been a rewarding experience thus far. I love my coworkers and I am excited to see what this year brings.
Dude where’s my car?
When Fall rolls around, another yearly tradition emerges – camping in Acadia National Park with the boys. I spent Columbus Day weekend camping, hiking, and drinking beers with some of my best buddies and it was spectacular. However, this trip did not end as expected…
I was fast asleep in my tent on Columbus Day when I was awoken by a phone call. It was my Dad. I was quite startled by this because I knew that my mom was going into surgery for her hip that very day. Thankfully, the call was not about my mom but the news was quite grim nonetheless. He was calling to let me know that my car, which I had left in West Hartford at Vlad’s apartment parking lot, had been found abandoned and badly damaged in East Hartford. I was in shock and completely flabbergasted. So, after hanging up with my Dad, Vlad and I rushed (6-hour drive) back to Connecticut to fill out a police report. The whole experience was a complete nightmare, but it taught me a valuable lesson and I had family and friends to help me out. Long story short, the car was deemed a complete loss and I am now a proud owner of a 2016 Honda Civic EX.
Holiday Festivities & Clean Living
Once November rolls around everyone seems to shift into holiday mode. Thanksgiving is full of traditions with family and friends. The boys come back into town the night before Thanksgiving and there’s usually a good amount of drinking involved. The Valley New Year tradition is starting to wind down because everyone is getting older but it was fun this year nonetheless. Rebecca joined my family and me again for the festivities and she always brings stellar baked goods. She outdid herself this year with a chocolate ganache tart!
The last couple of months of 2019 brought me a lot of stomach pains. I started noticing these pains in September and I was finally able to see a doctor in early December. The doctor said that I was experiencing indigestion and recommended a sort of restrictive diet. This diet is called the Low FODMAP diet. It calls for food without certain complex carbs, some sugars, and lactose. On top of the diet, I received my blood work back the week before Christmas and it indicated I had high levels of certain enzymes that can be associated with liver damage. This being said, I need to lay off alcohol until further notice from the doctor. This was quite hard during the holiday season but I have been persevering!
Conclusions & What’s to Come
In conclusion, I can confidently say that 2019 was a year of transition. Looking back at this year has made me realize how much I have accomplished and makes me excited for the year ahead. This blog is simply the highlights from the year and there is so much I did not mention. 2020 will be an exciting year. I will be finishing up my MBA as well as making the big move from Connecticut to New York. Here’s to a fun and prosperous 2020 folks!