A Year in Review: 2017 Highlights and Lowlights

With the end of one year and the advent of a new one, I always become contemplative. I’ve been doing “year in review” stories for work, summing up the year from the aspects of city and county government and economic development, so I wanted to try something similar on my personal blog.

I’ve compiled a list of the most memorable moments this year, good and bad. I’ve included some sad ones, because it’s incredible for me to see how even moments of sadness and despair have led to wonderful things.

I hope you enjoy!

Leaving the Las Vegas Review-Journal

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After working at the paper in Las Vegas for nearly nine months, I ended my internship without the job offer I’d hoped for. As many things, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Though I miss my colleagues and the newsroom environment daily, I felt it was time for me to move on.

Working at a gentlemen’s club

at the sapphire

After I left the paper, I knew I needed to find some sort of employment while I looked for a more permanent job. I applied to work as a lifeguard, a tutor, a swim coach,  and in public relations. But I ended up doing something totally different: I worked at a strip club.

Ok, fine: I was a social media coordinator at a pool that was owned by the strip club. It wasn’t the type of job I ever foresaw myself having, but I’d met the owner while working for the paper, and I figured it wouldn’t hurt to reach out.

Luckily, they were  looking for someone to shoot photos and handle social media for their dayclub during the summer.

What was my experience like? That could be a book in itself, but it was mixed. I met some wonderful, kind people, and I met some shallow, self-absorbed people. I listened to “Despacito” enough times to make me never want to hear it again. I saw some of the strangest things I’ll ever see (topless golfing, a swingers club, and a porn star making out with a millionaire). By the end of the summer, I was more than ready to leave Vegas.

Going to the Electric Daisy Carnival in a party bus

EDC

I’ve got to say, I’d never buy a ticket to EDC, but when my boss (at the club) offered me a VIP wristband and insisted I join him on a party bus to the electronic music festival, I felt like the experience was worth any discomfort to my ears.

As we entered the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, I felt like I’d stumbled into an alternate universe of heat and flashing, spasmodic lights. At 100 degrees at night, I was thankful to be on the VIP platform, avoiding the body heat of those who stumbled down below.

While I wouldn’t go again, it was worthwhile to go and see what all the fuss was about. You know what they say about dancing like no one is watching you? I did, but it wasn’t that no one was watching me: everyone was just too high to care.

Going to Zion National Park (twice), hiking Angel’s Landing

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Summit of Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park

Zion is probably my favorite place on earth. My parents began taking me as a young child, so when I moved to Vegas, I figured I’d go often. But it took me seven months to get out to Utah for a hiking trip when I finally went in April.

I planned to go primarily to conquer Angel’s Landing, a relatively low-elevation hike made difficult by the sudden rise in elevation and slow going up boulders.

Nonetheless, I made it up and back down before noon, allowing time for lunch and two shorter hikes before dinner on a patio just outside the park.

And in June, when my mom came to visit, we took another day trip to Zion. It’s my plan in 2018 to make it back to the park.

Having my car stolen

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The tow yard where I picked my car up after police recovered it

I awoke one morning in August to discover my car wasn’t in the driveway. I immediately checked our security cameras and saw that thieves had made off with my car.

After waiting all day for the police to arrive and take my statement, I had given up hope of my car’s recovery; I was sure it had already been scrapped for parts.

With no money for a new car and no way to get around town, I asked my mother to come retrieve me from Vegas and bring me back to California while I figured out what to do next.

I was packing my belongings in my kitchen with my two friends, who had come to bid me farewell, when I received a call from the police station: they had recovered my car (the day before).

To this day, I am unclear on how they found it, but when I picked it up at the tow yard, it was undamaged. And later that same day, I heard from my now boss about the job that would bring me from the west out to Tennessee.

Moving to Tennessee

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After a 2,000 mile trek across the country in my car (which had been stolen two weeks before), I felt nothing but bliss to be crossing the Mississippi River into Tennessee.

The three-day drive was one of my favorite memories from the year, full of contemplative silences and euphoric air guitar solos as I passed over rivers and through mountains, valleys, plains and forests.

Seeing Chris Stapleton perform in Franklin

When I arrived in Tennessee, my boss asked me if I would be able to cover Pilgrimage Festival, a two-day music and arts festival at a Franklin park. Knowing nothing about it, I said sure.

When I arrived and saw the headliners (Justin Timberlake and Eddie Vedder), I was thrilled. One of my favorite YouTube videos is of Timberlake and Chris Stapleton performing “Drink You Away” together at the 2015 CMAs, so I had hopes the Leiper’s Fork neighbors would again grace the same stage. (Hopes that were confirmed by a local producer).

On that muggy September evening, I ended up in the VIP section instead of the media area. Justin Timberlake is a talented musician and performer who oozes charisma. But when Chris Stapleton finally took the stage, performing my favorite cover of “Tennessee Whiskey,” I thought: life doesn’t get much better than this.

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Folks wait for Justin Timberlake to take the stage at Pilgrimage

Attending my first NFL game

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I made a new friend

I didn’t grow up in a sports-oriented family; the only football we watched was soccer during the World Cup.

But when a friend asked if I wanted to take advantage of NFL tickets her dad received to go to a Tennessee Titans game, I jumped at the chance.

We sat front row behind the bench as the Titans turned their season around with a 24-20 victory on a gorgeous fall day.

Christmas season in Franklin

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Merry Christmas, from me and my self timer!

In case you missed my holiday photo blog post, I love the Christmas season. I appreciate the symbolism of light shining through darkness, the change in weather, and the sense of cheer that eludes the rest of the winter months.

In Franklin, that holiday spirit is especially pronounced through decorations, as well as community gatherings. I couldn’t be more blessed to take part in it all.

Going to the Music City Bowl

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Two years ago, I mistakenly thought the Outback Bowl, which the Wildcats were to play in, would be held in Nashville. I began rallying my meager resources to figure out how I could attend before my mother (who knows next to nothing about football) told me where the Outback Bowl really was.

BUT two years later, my wish has come true, and in the perfect timing! I was able to attend the Music City Bowl to watch the ‘Cats take on the Kentucky ‘Cats with some of my friends.

And after a freezing cold, 4+ hour game, the purple ‘Cats took the win, 24-23. I’d say it was a great way to close out the year.

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