Most years, regardless of the victories and defeats, I feel ready to embrace a new calendar and see what new adventures a new year might bring my way. This year is different. I’m not afraid of 2017, not by any means. It isn’t even that 2016 was all good. Although…, it’s going to be tough to beat.
I started 2016 by romping in downtown LA with my fiancé Amber and one of my best friends Danny. It featured searching for wedding venues and beginning to pencil in the details. Act One paved the way for all the joys that were soon to follow.
In January, I spent the last weekend of winter break exploring D.C., Philadelphia, and Boston, relishing the opportunity to spend time with friends and see important historical landmarks. It even included a two hour road trip to get some lobster in Maine. Two months later, on spring break, I participated in my Evangelism class trip to London. I was confronted with new thinking and methods of Christianity. I was challenged with new ideas and definitions of what it means to have a faithful witness. I made the iconic walk across Abbey Road into the Abbey Road store, just outside the actual recording studio. I sat where Paul McCartney claims to have had a “religious” experience at Primrose Hill. I stepped foot into a Futbol stadium, home of the Arsenal. I even saw the remnants of where Sherlock Holmes fell to his death. (OR DID HE?) People still believe he is alive.
The first week of May, just as I was finishing up my first year of seminary, I became an uncle. I’ve only gotten to see my nephew twice, but he is such a joy, and I look forward to watching him as he continues to grow into a wonderful young man. (And Buckeye fan! 1-0, 30-27 2OT)
Later that month, as a class requirement, I travelled to Fort Collins, Colorado, and served as a student-leader with Athletes in Action’s Ultimate Training Camp. I got to witness and minister to more than a hundred student-athletes that find themselves dealing with the same life problems that everyone deals with. Another valuable and wonderful experience.
In June, Amber, Stuart, and I began the journey back to Los Angeles. It featured stops in Albuquerque and Phoenix before finding a resting spot in Torrance. As hectic as the final few weeks were, the details worked themselves out. (We will never go to a craft store again!) We watched Hamilton utterly destroy everyone at the Tony’s, saw some blow up Rabbit art instillations in downtown, even explored UC Riverside, Amber’s alma mater.
The Bachelor Party, two days worth, was everything I could have asked for. Trips to my favorite spots in LA, including Carnitas Michoacan, PUC Excel Charter Academy, Randy’s Donuts, hiking in the Pacific Palisades, brunch by LAX and bacon wrapped hot dogs from my old street vendor in Koreatown. I rode the bull near Universal Studios, devoured Korean BBQ, went to a taping of Jimmy Kimmel, and a show at the Upright Citizens Brigade in Hollywood. Surrounded my favorite people in the world, it truly was incredible.
On June 24, in front of friends and family at a beautiful venue in Rancho Cucamonga, Amber and I got married and started this new adventure together. PRAISE JESUS!
We didn’t get to spend as much time in LA as we wanted. There truly is never enough time in that place. So many wonderful people and amazing things to see. More than three years after landing there for the first time, I am still completely enchanted with the city and all that it is.
Included in this love for Los Angeles and Southern California, was our first trip to Disneyland as a married couple. A special place for Amber since her childhood and it became a go to place for us as well. You might say that it is ‘magical.’ I know I say it is.
With July and August, came the end of summer 2016. It meant driving back to Waco, vacating our old separate premises and developing our first “home” together. It isn’t finished but it sure has come a long way from that Monday back in July.
This fall, Amber started grad school. I continued into year two of my seminary degree. I started as a sports writer for the Baylor Lariat, Baylor’s newspaper and news media website. I also found myself coaching middle school girls volleyball again. I have dearly missed coaching. I dearly miss being around students. It was a joy to coach them this year.
2016 has certainly had its challenges. Every year does. Some of them have been quite substantial, but here we are reaching the conclusion once more, excited to turn the corner and make the most of what’s to come. I have high hopes for 2017. But know that 2016 gets my vote as the real MVP.
Let’s not forget the year it was for music. No, I’m not talking about the new Bieber album or Kanye. Did Kanye drop an LP in 2016? That may work for some but not for me. My taste is a bit more adventurous and acquired than most.
In 2015, it was Beach Fossils, and RAC, and Martin Courtney that delivered the goods to move me through the year. 2016 came out swinging.
Within five days of each other, new (old) Dr. Dog in the form of Psychedelic Swamp was released and Anchor & Braille released its third album, a cool set of jams with a heavy Drive influence. (Wanted to blast this album while driving down the 405 around midnight, but this opportunity eluded me. For now.) Andrew Bird dropped ‘Are You Serious’ and basically brought Fiona Apple back into existence. Young the Giant and Two Door Cinema Club both re-entered and departed the studio with new LPs, Blind Pilot pushed out its first batch of new music since 2011’s We Are the Tide. Band of Horses gave the world an excellent effort in Why Are You Ok, including my favorite Pink Floyd-y track Dull Times/The Moon. The great Alex Turner and Miles Kane returned to the music scene as The Last Shadow Puppets, giving us their long awaited sequel. Local Natives delivered a great third effort, including ‘Fountains of Youth,’ one of the year’s best for sure. TV Girl not only released an EP entitled, Natalie Wood, a song based on one of Hollywood’s greatest (yet seemingly obvious) murder mysteries ever, and my favorite song of the year, but also released a cool set of ten songs, in the form of Who Really Cares, all of which bring something worth remembering to the table. Blood Orange shocked the world by releasing his new album early and giving us the outstanding single, Best To You. The xx dropped one of the best songs of the year as well, On Hold. Rumors are that Spoon and Phoenix are working on new material and they can be expected sometime soon in 2017. Wow. That’s a lot. Thanks everybody, you were great. And major props to Corona for putting Jesse Woods’ Gold in the Air in one of their commercials. Brilliant marketing.
Sadly, as great as the year was for music, I didn’t get much of an opportunity to get to the theatre much to explore the world of film. I did see Ron Howard’s Beatles Documentary, Eight Days a Week, which was excellent. I did make it to see The Remnant, Snowden, Room, Hail Caesar!, The Hateful Eight, Zootopia, The Big Short.All those were excellent. Captain America:Civil War and Star Trek Beyond were entertaining. The Lobster was so good then it got so weird and uncomfortable. Still undecided on it overall. Suicide Squad had me wanting my money back. Lots of films I didn’t get to this year, but hopefully I’ll find some time soon and a little bit of spare change as well.
Without a doubt, La La Land is a top priority heading into 2017. Manchester by the Sea and Moonlight are right behind it though.