2014: A Year in Review

In many ways, it’s been a fun and transformative year for me. I think 2014 will go down in the Jerry Book of Life as the year that I grew up. Here’s how...

Firstly, I took a big bite out of the bucket list of shows this year. After many years of waiting, I finally saw Billy Joel and Tony Bennett (not together). They were both exactly as excellent as I hoped they’d be. As is the case with so many of the acts I watch, the years have only made them better performers. Tony also released an album with Lady Gaga that, in many ways, I feel I contributed to. (See my Tweets about Gaga’s jazzy voice last Christmas). “Cheek to Cheek” is the album Gaga was born to make. Hands down, without question, this was the best album of the year. They’re coming to Chicago in the summer and I am ANXIOUSLY awaiting the day that tickets go on sale. 

As second comings go, I saw Cher and Liza Minnelli again! Also not together. Cher’s D2K Tour was absolutely, jaw-droppingly amazing. The material on the new album lent itself nicely to the kind of grand theatrical numbers that the tour provided. It’s unfortunate that the second leg was cancelled because I had every intention of seeing it again. Liza, on the other hand, has slowed a little bit but the effort to keep going is worth admiring. I will see her every time she’s in a town near me and so should you.

Perhaps the best/most important/mind-blowing show I saw this year was Fleetwood Mac’s “On With theShow”. FINALLY reunited with Christine McVie, the quintet set Chicago ablaze with their still hard-rockin’ sound. It was incredible to see Stevie Nicks and Lindsay Buckingham do what we love them to do. And who can hold a candle to Mick Fleetwood, I ask you?

It wasn’t all old acts though. In August I managed to see one of my favorite “up and coming” artists,Steve Grand (pictured left). If you don’t know about him, you should. In brush-with-fame news, super exciting thing happening with him in 2015 that I will surely pass along when it happens.

In more direct-contact news: I got to see Pink Martini for a third time this year and meet the band after! Glad to report that I didn’t disgrace myself with my fanboydom like I did the first time. Thomas Lauderdale also follows me on Instagram now so I think we’re on our way to becoming best friends (if only in my head). Also and it must be said: No one fronts that band like China Forbes. She’s exquisite. They unfortunately suffered a major loss this year that we all grieved with them on.

Speaking of losses now seems an appropriate moment to pause and reflect on some of the deaths that impacted me the most this year.

In happier news, a lot of fun and exciting things happened this year, too. Firstly, my best friend had her first baby! His name is Mikey and he was born at a very respectable 6.6lbs. Since February, I have been completely obsessed with him. I mean, look at him. Who wouldn’t be obsessed?! So much so that I have pictures of his first poop. Let me love the way I wanna love, dammit!

Baby aside, the most significant thing that happened to me this year happened in July when Javierand I moved to Chicago. Loving him the way that I do (which is a lot and then some), I knew that moving here with him was the only option when he was accepted to medical school. In truth, it’s probably the single best decision I’ve ever made. We’re having a ball in the city and making our house a home. He even let me make a movie room! It’s wonderful to be in love, to share a home, and to make that home really, really cool-looking.

In November, Javi and I had our first official guests visit. My girlfriend Cindy and her beau came to stay with us for a fun weekend. We had a hoot showing them around and doing touristy stuff. Of note, we also got to see the Second City folks do their thing. My mom came to stay with us the week of Thanksgiving and that was also wonderful. It was important for me to have my mom see and understand my life now. For so long I think we denied the obvious flaws in our relationship because it was just easier. Now, with the benefit of time and distance, I think we understand each other better. We’ve both chosen our paths and we are learning to respect them. Also worth noting: Javier made one of the best Thanksgiving dinner’s I’ve ever had the pleasure of enjoying. It was his first try, too.

It wasn’t all great, though. I spent a couple of months in the throes of unemployment. Suffice it to say that it involved a lot of cleaning and watching The View. Spending endless days looking for jobs, alone with a dog really does a number on your sanity. There were days when all I could do is hope to run into a neighbor so I could talk to another human. Thankfully, that agony ended earlier this month when I accepted a sweet gig in Downtown Chicago with an office full of colorful coworkers.

Speaking of coworkers, leaving FIU for Chicago proved to be harder than I imagined. In fact, saying goodbye to everyone in Miami was harder than I imagined. Although I worked for the FIU office remotely from here, saying goodbye to all the folks there that became my friends was difficult. 

Saying goodbye to my friend and piano guru Roberta was also very difficult. In the years I’ve known her, she’s been a constant source of light and fun. The last night I went to Magnum, I got up the nerve to sing “Midnight Train to Georgia” and it was as pitiful as you can imagine. Still, it was essential for me to say goodbye the only way I knew how to. 

The hardest goodbye was undoubtedly the one I had to say to my dog. More than friends or family (who understand because, you know, they’re human), saying goodbye to the Mooms (who I’ve known and loved since she was a puppy) was the most excruciating part of my move. Although I was excited to move and start a new life, I was very sad to do so without the best part of my old life. If saying goodbye was hard, the months of missing her proved to be even harder. Reports of her not eating, then getting fat and developing a limp only made everything worse for me. However, I’m thrilled to report that I pried her from my mom’s grasp this holiday to bring her up with me! The Mooms is the now the newest and heftiest resident of Chicago. Let my mom miss her for a while!

I closed off the year as I have done so for the past 10 years: surrounded by friends at my house for a holiday pachanga. Although many of us live in faraway places these days, I try to reunite everyone for one night of boozy fun. And boozy fun it was! The truth of the matter is that no one knows you better than the friends you’ve known since you were kids. There is an innate kinship there that I think is important to nurture.

When all is said and done (and I’ve said and did a lot this year!), I am happier today than I have ever been. I am grateful to love and be loved. I am thankful to live somewhere than inspires me to be my best self. And I am eager to continue to live a life that I am instrumental in shaping.

Many well wishes to you all. Lets kick ass.


Hoer Ruman said…
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Javier Castillo said…
Loved reading this. XOXO

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