Here we go again, friends. Another year, another year in review post. If you’ve been reading for a while, you know I’ve had some pretty good luck and strung together some pretty good years, with the 3 best years of my life coming in the 4 year span of 2009 through 2012. Well, surprise, surprise. Here we go again. 2013 was, without a doubt, the best year of my life, and I’ve got a pretty good feeling that 2014 will be even better. I’ll be turning 30 in May and I plan on charging in headfirst and sort of hitting the reset button on some parts of my life. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though, dear readers.
The main reason my year has been so good is that I found true love for the first time in my life. Since Mid-August, I have been in a relationship with a girl named Jennifer. We had met a few months earlier at a party and seen each other out and about here and there in the months that followed, and on that fateful night in August, we left Communion (a weekly dance party) together and have been pretty much inseparable since. We had been hanging out at Communion that night, and she said she needed to work at 7 and had no way home. I told her I was leaving and she was welcome to come with, and that I could find a way to get her home in the morning when I was sober. She asked me if I would wait around for a bit while she decided, I’m not sure if I am right about this but to me it seemed like she was going to find another dude or a ride home or both. I said no, I’m leaving right now, take it or leave it. And she took it! I was a little skeptical at first after that but all of that was gone after the first day, we both felt that it was the start of something special. Both of us called in sick the next day and spent it together. We said we would hang again in a few days, but we ended up seeing each other at the movie in Loring Park the next night, and then the day after that, and the day after that, and before long she was essentially living with me. I have had something like this happen a couple times with a couple girls, where I just wanted to be with them all the time pretty much right away, but those ended after a few weeks and looking back I know they never would have worked long term. But over 4 months later, I am very happy to say I still feel the same way about her as I did when we first got together.
She has been living with me for several months, and while I have had some growing pains as I have not had a roommate in 5+ years, she has really shaped my place up. It looks a lot better than it did before she moved in, and I am at least a little bit more organized. Sometimes you need someone to come in and see how you live and say “Are you fucking kidding me?” The change hasn’t always been easy for me, but I am really loving it, and I feel more like an adult. In addition to that, she has brought her awesome dog Dwight to come live with us. He is a very relaxed dog that loves to cuddle, and we have been fast friends ever since he moved in. I have lived with a dog before but never really saw myself as a dog person until now. I love him as if he were my own, and its great to have him around. I don’t think I could handle the responsibility of dog ownership alone, but with Jennifer it’s definitely manageable.
Here’s a trophy I got for Dwight for Christmas
As I write this, we (and by we I mean mostly her) are making the apartment cat-ready, as the next and almost final step of her being fully moved in is bringing her two cats over. I am a little worried as I am allergic, but I am also allergic to dogs and I know just living with them will help build up my defenses against at least these particular cats. Still, it’s not a very big apartment, so I’m a little worried. But we’ll see. I like her cats, so that helps. I started writing this on Friday 12/27, we got the cats the next day (I’m not sure why I didn’t delete the first few lines of this paragraph, either), and they have been at my place for two days now. My allergies have not been an issue AT ALL thank jord! Her one more adventurous kitty has had no problems, he’s already my little buddy. The other one is a hider, and she has found many different hiding spots, but there was a little stretch where Jen, myself, and all 3 animals were on the couch together while we were watching a movie, and then this morning the hider came out of hiding to snuggle on the bed with the rest of us before we went to work. It’s nice to have the family all together!
Everything with Jennifer has been easy. We get along well, we have similar interests, and she makes me very happy. For the first few months there wasn’t even a fight to speak of. That ended, it was starting to get weird that we hadn’t had a fight to be honest, but there are still a lot more good times than bad. In fact, after I started writing this but before I posted it, we had the worst fight we’ve had yet, but we got over it the next day. I’ve never been in a long-term relationship in my life, so there are some growing pains for me, and coming to terms with the fact that being in a relationship comes with a cost of some of the freedoms I used to have, and that I don’t get to decide every single thing I do. This is not unique to our relationship, and it affects her just as much as it does me. It’s just taking some getting used to. But in the end, despite a few fights here and there, it’s been amazing to have a true partner these last few months, it’s something I’ve never had in my life and she makes my days so much brighter and easier to handle. I can barely remember what life used to be like.
And now for something a bit less interesting:
2013 was my first full year at my new job. If you read my recap post from last year, and I assume you did, you know I loved my new job and was excited to see what the next year held. Well friends, I am happy to say I still love my job. Well love might be a strong word, but I do like it. With 15 months now under my belt, I feel like I’ve got the hang of it pretty well, and now that I’ve done the full year I know what to expect. For starters, last year I was worried about what the busy season might look like here, and I am very happy to say it’s not so bad. I worked roughly 55 hour weeks from the second week in January through the second week in February, so about 5 weeks total. There were even some nights in there where I left at the normal time of 4:30 or 5, and some weeks were definitely under 55 hours in total. The jist of it is there are several different reports and financial statements that need to get done, and they are all reviewed, sometimes by more than one person, so it depends on the timing of when things get back to me. Interesting, right? In addition to the busy time, I have 3 other days during the year where I need to work 12+ hours, usually the 10th day after quarter end, so April, July, and October 10th. I get busy around those times but generally don’t have to work more than 8 hours any day aside from those 3, so all in all I am definitely working less than I did at my old job, while earning a higher salary.
Before I even worked here a year, I was given a bonus (for the 3 months in 2012 I was here) and a raise. At my performance review, the one and only negative thing that my bosses commented on was that I have bad handwriting. I’ll take it! It feels good to be good at my job. I know it probably seems nerdy to some, but a lot of times the kind of accounting I do can be sort of a number puzzle. If something doesn’t make sense I can usually find the answers in the numbers.
I am still loving working downtown. The walks are getting tougher with some of this extreme cold we’ve been having, but I’ve learned to just bundle up to a sometimes ridiculous extent, but it makes the short time outside in negative 20 windchill almost bearable. All in all, my happiness has gone up and my stress has gone waaaaaaaaaaaaaay down but not needing to use my car on a daily basis. Every day it snows, I thank the commute gods that I don’t need to worry like my co-workers, and everyone else really, about wasting a few hours a day just to get to and from somewhere I don’t really want to be.
If you read my post last year, or are good enough friends with me to see my Facebook posts or see me in person, you know one of my goals for this year as I headed towards 30 was to get in shape and lose weight. Well I am happy to report that after losing 20 pounds last year solely from walking to work for 3 and a half months, I signed up for the YWCA in March, just like I said I would in my post last year, and used a calorie counting website to monitor what I was eating, and as a result, I lost an additional 30 pounds! I am very proud of myself! It’s not quite the lofty goal I set for myself, but hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day. And yes, I am comparing myself to one of the greatest civilizations the world has ever known. I started the year at 225, and while I stopped losing weight during my busy season at work, I didn’t gain weight either, and considering I always gained at a minimum 10 pounds during tax season at my old job, that felt like a victory to me. Once I signed up for the YWCA, I started hitting it hard. I went every week day, and I started taking classes there. I was dropping pounds like crazy, and by June I had hit my first goal of 200 pounds. I kept going, and got down to 193 by the time I started dating Jennifer. It was a combination of me not being so strict on my diet and also not caring if I missed a day at the gym (and also I switched from going to their classes to just working out on my own – doing the elliptical for half hour and then push ups, lifting, etc), but I sort of hit a plateau. I go out to eat more with Jennifer, and I’m the type of person where if there is a bag of chips around, I will eat them until they are gone, so there were some new challenges with her involved. I had got myself down to 190, so obviously I was still able to lose weight after we started dating, but then I’ve been eating very badly basically since Thanksgiving, and also missing more days at the gym, and as a result I have gone back up to 198-200 depending on the day. At first I was trying to fight it, I wanted to be at 195 by the end of the year. But just recently (like, yesterday) I came to terms with it. My goal for the busy season again is to just maintain my current weight, and then as soon as busy season ends I am going to hit it hard on both the exercising and eating fronts. I know I can do it, I just need to be more focused, and I was able to do that just fine last year. I just can’t let there be any half measures. My goal is to be at 180 by the day I turn 30 (May 4), and I do believe that is obtainable.
Anyway, enough focusing on the negative and next year. I have never felt better than I do now. I am buying new clothes – I fit into pants/shorts that have a size beginning with a 3 for the first time since I have bought my own clothes. I have more energy. I have less random back/knee/etc pains. I get noticed a lot more by women – I don’t think I would have been able to get Jennifer if I hadn’t done this. As part of making room for Jennifer to come, I went through and got rid of a lot of my clothes, basically anything that was size 42+ in pants or XXL. As I was going through the clothes, some of them I remembered owning either in high school or in my freshman year of college. I just didn’t really care about my health back then, it was kind of alarming to realize I was that big that early in my life, and it felt great to get rid of my old clothes to make room for the new.
On top of the weight loss, there were a few other accomplishments that have me leaving 2013 with a sense of great achievement. I will discuss this a little more later, but in January I saw Prince at the Dakota, which was maybe the best concert I’ve ever been to. I was pitched by the Gimme Noise (City Pages blog) editor to review the show, as they were not offering media passes and I had a ticket. I was certainly glad to at least partially offset the $280 ticket, so I said yes. Here is the review. The reason I bring this story up is that after the review, the editor encouraged me to pitch him ideas for pieces if I ever had one. And pitch, I did. I ended up writing for them 5 times in 2013, with the last one coming out in the final days of the year. In addition, I was paid to write two reviews for my first “employer”, the TC Daily Planet, meaning I was paid to write 7 times in 2013. I had been paid to write twice in my life before this year. I feel good about my relationship with City Pages. I am not looking to become a professional writer by any means, but it is something I enjoy, and I feel City Pages is a good place to do that because they have big viewership, and well….they always pay.
The piece I am most proud of is the one about the Communion/Crave fiasco, although it is something I would rather leave in the past. The other pieces I wrote this year were interviews or reviews, this one was not. This was probably the first time I did honest to goodness journalism. It was difficult for me to write, because I felt that I was on one side of it and that it would be hard to be impartial, but I feel like I was able to fairly present both sides, even though I got a little biased towards the end. It was also a bit uncomfortable because I know the guy from Crave who I talked to to get their side of the story. But god damn did it feel good to write that last paragraph. Originally it was even more biting than it was as printed, but I toned it down. If you’d believe it.
Anyway, here are links to see the things I was paid to write this year: my author page at City Pages, which has links to 4 of them, CP interview with Steve Centrific, TC Daily Planet reviews of Femi Kuti and Vieux Farka Toure.
Like I said, I’m not trying to become a professional writer, and most of these pieces were ones I actually enjoyed doing and wanted to do, so I feel like 7 is close to my max for what I would do in a year, but who knows? If the story that I find interesting is there, then I’ll do it. Either way, I feel very good about my writing this year and look forward to building on it next year.
My favorite piece that I did all year, however, was unpaid, and that didn’t matter to me one bit. I was asked by the people at MPLS Zine, who launched from the group that did MPLS.TV, to do something for their Movement issue. I wrote about my history with dancing, going all the way back to a religious experience I had while dancing in Israel when I was 17 to today. Here it is. In addition, my friend Bacon covered one of my So You Think You Kahn Dance dance classes for the same issue. I also ended up teaching my most successful SYTYKD class yet at a party they put on. I did one in April at Gamut Gallery, that turned out pretty well thanks in large part to several members of my family attending, it was great to see them letting loose and following my lead. The MPLS Zine one was my best one yet, though. It was part of a party they were putting on, so there was already a large group of people there that were mostly unfamiliar with me. It was also only 15 minutes, so I could focus on a few tried and true subjects – the dance circle, the soul train, and the dance off. It took a little bit, but most people there seemed to get in to it, and by the end of the 15 minutes I saw some real improvement, and that’s what this class is all about. I did one more at Gamut in October, and gallery members notwithstanding , the only people who came were Jen, her mom, and two of her family friends. To be fair, I struggled putting this one together and probably could have put more time into it (it was country themed), but I was let down. I realized I need to do something more like what the MPLS Zine party was. I need to be part of another event or the pre-party for another event, something like that. I am not done with the class, but in 2014 I will need to re-invent it, which is something I am confident I can do.
Here’s a good photo from the April SYTYKD class at Gamut Gallery
Another highlight of the year was DJing techno music at Bassgasm in February and July. I wrote last year how I had taken Ableton courses at Slam Academy, I took another this year, my first taught by my friend JP. The class was Dance Music Production and I felt like I learned a lot…but sadly I have not done much to use what I learned. Ableton still feels overwhelming to me, I know I just need to sit down and use it for a loooooooooooong time to get the hang of it. I’m hoping I can make myself do that some day, because since I’ve started with the classes I have songs forming in my head all the time. My problem is I can’t turn those songs in my head into songs outside my head. Anyway, my first experience at Bassgasm was one of the highlights of my life, not just this year. I was a bit worried, but a lot of my closest friends came to support me, and there were also plenty of Minneapolis techno people in the crowd. A few songs in, I felt like I was in a groove and I wasn’t worried any more. Looking out into the crowd that I am usually a part of, and having them hoot and holler like I do when I’m out there really meant a lot to me. I was on cloud 9 all night. All night, people I didn’t know came up to me and told me they loved my set, and that my friends, is the thing that I chase as a performer. Friends go easy on you. People you don’t know are real, and to have them come up and tell me that felt really good. The next one in July was in the main room, on a crazy sound system, which was very nice as well, but it was so early (7 PM) that no one was there, and the equipment they used on the main stage was well beyond what I am used to, and I needed some help getting set up.
I still feel a little weird about DJing. I really like doing it, but I don’t really know how to do it. I know how just like everyone knows how. Technology makes it easy. To me, it’s all about getting the party going and keeping it going, when I’m out I’m not listening for perfect mixing. That said, I know some people are, so I know I have a long way to go before I feel comfortable doing it often.
2013 also saw the achievement of a lifelong goal of mine that I’ve had for the last 4-5 years – walking in the Gay Pride Parade. I was asked by Stuart DeVaan, a friend of Freaky Deeky and member of Savage Aural Hotbed, to walk with their float. It was very clear that there were no floats like ours, which was a trailer that carried Savage Aural Hotbed, and we also had a guy sitting on top with some weird fog bubble gun machine. I didn’t see the whole parade but I had several people tell me we were the best float, and who am I to argue? It was pretty surreal waiting in the parking lot for the parade to get going. We were surrounded by big corporate floats and groups that were fruitlessly trying to get some choreography together for about 100 people with little to no rhythm. Walking in the parade was everything I’d hoped it would be, and I really hope they do it again next year because I’m sort of kind of hooked.
Here’s a photo someone I didn’t know took that I was tagged in on Facebook.
Here we are, almost 4,000 words in, and I’m finally about to get to my last achievement of 2013, and that was becoming a member of Gamut Gallery. I have helped them with accounting here and there before, and watched from the sidelines with great pride for my friends as they grew and grew. When they asked me to join, at first I was a bit reticent as I know they have meetings ALL THE FUCKING TIME! But I was assured the meetings were going to be streamlined, and the expectations for me would be pretty straightforward, mostly just help with accounting, and of course hosting some of their events here and there. The Gamut crew reminded me of the Freaky Deeky team before I joined up, so that was a big motivator for me. At Freaky Deeky, everyone handled something different to help the show, everything did what they did best, and at our height, it felt like I was a part of a well oiled machine, working mostly in unison, and I believe that’s what the Gamut crew is all about too. I already helped with the first big thing, the accounting for the Raging Art On Sale, and I’m feeling pretty good about 2014 and beyond with as a member of the team.
Alright friends, home stretch. Last year was so/so in terms of live music, but I knew this year would be great pretty much from the get go after I got a ticket to see Prince at The Dakota in January. As I mentioned earlier, the huge ticket price was at least partially offset by paying $50 to review it for City Pages. You can read my review for a full picture, but it was an amazing show. He played a lot of songs I didn’t know, but it was still just so surreal to see Prince in a place that small, and I had never seen the Dakota like that (with no tables). I also ended up grinding very hard with a 40+ year old woman. So that was neat. Other non-techno live music highlights were Femi Kuti at the Cedar and Larry Graham, also at the Dakota, which was the night I got back from Detroit.
Detroit this year was flat out amazing. I wrote a long post about it here, but in short, I feel like I finally truly got it right this year. It helped that the music line up was as good as it’s been since I’ve been going, but what really made this year great was having a great set of roommates who I hung out with most of the weekend (versus being sort of a lone wolf the first two years), as well as knowing a lot more Minneapolis techno people. It felt great to see people I knew everywhere I went, felt like I was at home. I knew the weekend would be great right from the start, when I went to a Twins/Tigers game with my buddy Max, and Anibal Sanchez took a no-hitter into the 9th inning. I was rooting for him at that point. Anyway, the highlights of the weekend were Dan Bell closing out the Made In Detroit stage on Sunday night, as about 15 of us from Minneapolis danced like crazy in the middle of the floor, followed by us seeing one of the best dance floor circles I’ve ever seen. Maybe the best. Another highlight was Old Miami Monday morning around 10 AM, and then finally seeing DVS1 absolutely destroy the underground stage with the closing set of the festival Monday night. We had gone down early to watch Silent Servant, and about half hour after Zak started, I had to pee. I looked back and saw the place packed full because it was raining outside and this was the one stage under cover. I grudgingly accepted the fact that I would have to watch the rest of the set from up top. I did see some Minneapolis people when I went up there, but it really bothered me that on my way back to the bathroom, I passed a bunch of bros on drugs who were just trying to rub their boner on some poor girl and didn’t care about the music at all. So I decided I wasn’t going to end my festival on anyone’s terms but my own, so I went back down and shoved people out of my way until I was up front and center with the Minneapolis people again. I was very tired from the weekend at that point, but once I got back up, I felt like I was full of energy and danced like crazy. At the end of the set and the festival, Zak yelled out “MINNEAPOLIS!”, and all of us were walking around with a bit of a strut after that. Felt good!
Here’s my awesome roommates and me
And a photo I really liked that we took at the airport in Detroit on the way home.
Another musical highlight of the year was DVS1/Ben Klock at the special spot that can’t be mentioned. To see world class DJs in our own backyard, in a room built for 250 people…well it’s hard to explain how cool that was to people who aren’t into that kind of thing. I love seeing DJs tag team, and Zak and Ben went back and forth, record for record, for almost 2 hours after they each played a two hour solo set. Makes me want to go to Berlin and see them on their turf. Zak has been an important part of my life this year, as a matter of fact, as the Communion that Jennifer and I left together after was the one he played at. We were celebrating our 3 month anniversary in November at Masu, and Zak and his wife walk in and our seated right next to us. Weird shit, right?
Nothing much to speak of on the movie front, although I did just see American Hustle yesterday and it was pretty damn good. I would like to see it again. I know Silver Linings Playbook is from 2012, but I saw it for the first time in 2013 and friggin love that one too. Same guy made them, if you didn’t know.
On a sad note, a radio show that I have listened to for hundreds of hours over the past few years, The Best Show on WFMU ended on December 17. It was on the air for 13 years, and I sort of feel like I’m in on a secret just knowing about it. It’s one of the funniest things I’ve ever watched/listened to, and I am very sad to see it go. I could go on and on about this show and what it meant to me, but instead I will just post this link to a blog post I made about the show and it’s host Tom Scharpling a few years ago. It sounds like Scharpling and his partner Jon Wurster will move on to do something similar on a different station/network/channel, and they sound optimistic about the future so I have no choice but also be.
Well that about wraps up 2013. Just over 5,000 words. By my standards, a little light. I apologize dear reader. I know you expect more out of me. Anyway, 2013 was the best year of my life, but I have a good feeling 2014 is going to be even better. I turn 30 in May, I will be a member of Gamut Gallery for a full year, and more importantly, I will be putting a variety show on at Patrick’s Cabaret on April 25 and 26, 2014, to celebrate my 30th birthday. I’m leaving the weekend of my actual birthday open for actual partying, hehe. I wrote about this in my recap post last year, and I knew it would be a ways off, but I feel like I will be ready for this. It’s what I’m here to do! I will be doing some of my bits (Silent Film Guy, etc) and some dance numbers, and then fill out the rest of the line up with either people who have helped me get to where I am today or people who I think only need an opportunity, like I once did, to get going. I’ve had so much help through the years, it’s time for me to start helping other people. And then of course, there’s no other way to end the show, especially at a place like Patrick’s Cabaret, than to bring back Freaky Deeky! April 26 is the 5 year anniversary of the first time I went on the show, an event that would have more impact on my life than anything else I’ve ever done. We’re gonna be getting real sentimental down in South Minneapolis!!
And now, to thank a few people who have made this year special. That’s not to say that there aren’t many others, but I try not to do repeats too often.
Jen Ozhigwan – Jen has been a good friend for years, but this year I feel we forged an even stronger friendship. Some of our friends have been having very rough years and I felt at times we helped to keep it all together, but Jen especially. She also organized several great getaways, twice to a farmhouse in Osceola, Wisconsin, and once to an amazing cabin in Two Harbors. All 3 trips are definitely highlights of my year.
Steve Centrific – It was very nice getting to know Steve better this year. Steve and I became fast friends when we met, but we definitely got closer this year. We went to Detroit together, and I felt very much a part of his Intellephunk crew, it felt good to be a part of something that awesome. In the interview I did with him for City Pages, he mentioned that everyone has to play their part, whether it be pushing speakers and working the door, or being a promoter or something in between. I feel like I have found my niche in that regard, as a writer and encourager. He had me pick up Dan Bell from the airport, which was pretty friggin awesome, and for one of his shows I was unexpectedly on the list (he told me it was for helping spread the gospel when I asked him about it the next day), and he never really has a list. It meant a lot to me.
Mark Joachin – Jennifer and I first met at Mark J’s birthday party in June. From what I’ve gathered, Jen was friends with him before she ever came to a techno show, so to me, he is undoubtedly the reason our paths crossed, and I can’t thank him enough for that.
Michael Dietl – He was becoming a good friend to me before I even met Jen but he was also her friend and he has been very generous to me, both before and after I started dating Jen. A very good sort of person, and I look forward to being better friends with him in 2014!
Zak Khutoretsky/DVS1 – Our matchmaker. I always love seeing him DJ for obvious reasons but now when I see him with my baby, it feels so special to me. I’m glad it was him that did it! I also only officially met him last year in Detroit, but he would always come give me a high five or something like that after we met. What I’m trying to say is he has the exact opposite of a big head, despite all the accolades he’s still very down to earth and kind.
Woody McBride – Woody has been a big fan for a long time, and he gave me the opportunity to DJ at Bassgasm twice this year, including once in the main fucking room of First Avenue!
Kurtis Johnson AKA Kujo – I could really thank the whole Gamut crew here, but Kujo especially gets my thanks. There is no bigger booster of my dance classes than Kujo, and he came to the country one even though he was sick. He’s one of the funniest and most enthusiastic people I know, and a real treat to know.
Stuart DeVaan – Had me be a part of his Gay Pride Parade float, and has been very helpful to me and to other projects I’ve been involved in over the years.
You, Dear Reader – Just kidding! Fuck you! No, I’m kidding again! Thank you for reading my nearly 6,000 words! See you next year, my friends!