2016 Done.

March 4th, 2017

2016 was one helluva year. I endured pain, worked a lot, but I still had my share fun and adventure. Outside of me, it was an election year in the US, which does not need any more mention – i think we’ve all had our fill of politics. We also lost some great musicians – David Bowie, Prince, and George Michael – and I’m grateful for their music and artistry. But you know about that. Let me fill you in on me.

The pain I referred to was due to a pinched nerve I got in early January – it was unlike anything I ever experienced, and taught me humility, patience, and how to really endure pain. The first few days were the worst, couldn’t sleep, crying every day, not knowing what to do. But after talking to some doctor friends, I ended up seeing a physiatrist, aka Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (PM&R) physician, who eventually diagnosed me with a herniated disc and pinched nerve at C7 vertebrae. 3 ESI’s and a couple months later, I was almost back to normal, so then I focused on getting back in shape. I saw a physical therapist from May to July, with the goal of rehabilitation and preventative maintenance. Well, rehabilitation was quick, but preventative maintenance is a tricky one.  Sometime in august my shoulder was hurting and I stopped almost all the exercises I learned, since they all involved my shoulder. I still could do long runs, and that continues to be a nice stress reliever, but my back and shoulders still cause me trouble. Today my issues are manageable, I’ve learned the power of controlled breathing, and am thankful everytime I’m able to pick up a bag of groceries without pain.  I often think about what my grandparents used to always say when someone complained about this or that – “well, at least you got your health”.

In terms of our New house, things are pretty much settled – but not done, things are never done. It’s been 2.5 years since we bought it. The first year we spent lots of time fixing things up, but we ended up only doing essentials off our huge wishlist. Like most things, we prefer to spend our time and money on other priorities. Nonetheless, some of the essential house fixin’ included electrical work (3 different electricians), maintenance on boiler and radiators (main floor), maintenance on HVAC (upstairs forced air AC + Heat), tuckpointing ($7k to fix outside brick walls) and basement work. We are also lucky to have a handyman friend, B-Dub, work on a bunch of random things throughout the house. One of the most important things to me was getting the basement into a place I liked. When we bought the house, the wife and I agreed the basement would be mine to customize, she calls it my man cave. Like most basements, it doesn’t have nice wood floors, high ceilings, fancy wood trim. What it does have is my complete control. A place i can leave as a work-in-progress, pause and resume at will. Last year i set up the basics so i can do work – lighting, tables, shelves, desk – a place to put everything. This year i made it mine – got my leather chair, sofa, big tv, nice speakers, a subwoofer, and a mixer – a place I can unwind after work, let music wash over me, or binge-watch netflix, amazon, or plex.

Speaking of music, my life has been full of changes, but one thing that has not changed is my love for music. Don’t get me wrong, I love my family, friends, wife, my work, other hobbies .. but music is .. like my best friend. Listening to the right song when i feel a certain way is like home. And I strayed from music for a few years, not spending much time alone with it. I still enjoyed seeing shows, listening while commuting, at the gym, or just background music while doing other things. But spending time alone with music is special. Finding new music, carefully listening and appreciating it, forming opinions, making playlists, sharing with others. I still want to spend more time here (or hear, punny), finding new gems, getting to know my old favorites again, making playlists so i can easily listen wherever i go. This is the year I feel like music made a comeback for me. And for now, I give thanks.

Now to expand on the fun and adventure. The wife and I hit the beach in January, as we do most winters in chicago, but this year we did an all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic. We were lucky to be next door to a Pearl Beach Club, a brand new club on the beach with serious sound system – you know I love me some good loud house music. The wife and I also had one more getaway – a nice long weekend in Michigan in October – hot tubs and airbnb! In March, September, and NYE, I visited my family down south – really enjoyed camping on Cumberland Island. In early June I made it out to California to visit friends and get some mountain time – hiking in tahoe was very healing for me, as was seeing my old friends and honoring Jeffrey on bike and brew ride. Additionally, there was countless BYOB Supper club dinners, Freakeasy parties (DLC tribute to Prince!), and, like every year in Chicago, summer was a non-stop fun factory of concerts, street festivals, biking in shorts, and hanging out with old and new friends. Now that I think about it, I had had a lot of fun in 2016.

So to sum up, I will always think of 2016 as the year I had my herniated disc. And there were other things that were not so fun. But its important to “Count your blessings” (as Mama used to say), and after writing this I realize I am lucky and blessed to have time and ability to continue doing the fun things I’ve always enjoyed. 2016, I thank you. Good day, sir.

I said, Good Day.

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