2010: My Personal Highlights

December 31, 2010

Since 2004, I’ve reviewed my journal entries for the year to pick out highlights.  I don’t really care about current events; I want to remember what happened to me.  I drop and add categories on a whim, they change from year to year.

2010 was substantially skewed by my trip to Paris with Genevieve.  (If you don’t want to hear me brag more about our trip, stop reading.)  It hardly seems fair to lump the trip in with a normal year when Paris was the highlight of a lifetime.  So I’ve doubled up some of my categories, giving an answer for life outside Paris and what happened during the trip.

My Most Memorable Moment in 2010:

The Stratford Shakespeare Festival continually blows me away with its brilliant staging.  This year was no exception.  I snagged a last-minute seat to The Winter’s Tale because everyone was recommending it.  It was a simple but joyous production.  The final moments were astonishing.  Hermione and Leontes were reunited after years of heartbroken separation (all through acts 4 and 5).  They approached each other on stage slowly, consolingly, lovingly.  The rest of the world had melted away.  When they reached out to embrace each other, the stage went black.

My Most Memorable Moment in Paris:

I got goosebumps when I turned the corner and saw the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles.  The same thing happened when we walked up the stairs into Sainte-Chapelle.  But on Friday night, Paris was alive with music, lights and pedestrians, Genevieve and I walked all around Notre Dame and took pictures of the brilliantly lit cathedral.  I talked her into walking along the Seine, looking up at the overflowing ivy and rose window across the river.  Parisians dotted the sidewalk in pairs and groups, wine glasses and bottles in hand—toasting the night, the city, youth, love, destiny and life.  It was irresistible.

The Best Book I Read in 2010:

I’m still not through with Les Misérables, so it will go on the list for 2011.   This year, Lost on Planet China was the best book I read.  It was the best ending I’ve read since The Grapes of Wrath.

The Most Important Thing I Did in 2010:

I came out to my parents.  They took it as well as I might have expected.  Their approach has been to ignore it for the most part.  They don’t want to talk about it.  If you’re reading this news for the first time here, I apologize.  There were lots and lots of phone calls going on at the time.

My Most Uproarious Laughter in 2010:

This category is a perennial favorite of mine.  Unfortunately, it’s not necessarily the funniest story that I can tell others.

I visited my cousin Cecilia at her house after she had a throat surgery.  She couldn’t talk for a week.  So I did all the talking (highly objectionable to most anyone).  Cecilia had a notepad to jot down comments.  I told her about a soapdish that I bought the day before.  Except the word “soapdish” had slipped my mind.  Making do, I settled on “soap-boat.”  Cecilia was unsatisfied and wrote the proper word on her pad and showed it to me.  My own idiocy is always amusing.  I tried to stifle my mirth since I knew Cecilia wasn’t supposed to laugh.  But that just made it all the more humorous.  The gales poured forth.

The Most Uproarious Laughter in Paris:

My birthday was about a week before our Paris trip.  During the trip, I was sick—often in a drug-induced stupor.  (That’s my excuse.)  One night after dinner …

Genevieve: “Oh, by the way, happy birthday!”

Craig: “You’re welcome!”

More gales.

The Most Memorable View:

I was up early to run along the north shore of the Ohio River in Jeffersonville, Indiana.  Louisville was waking up to the crisp November morning across the river.  The sun tickled the underbellies of the stratus clouds.  Their reflections of pink and violet glistened off the undulating water.  The iron framework of the disused Old Bridge, hulking and imperious when overhead, receded into intricate lacework downriver, carving the brightening mandarin sky into mosaic panes.

The Most Memorable View in Paris:

Georges Abstraction Surface Restaurant sits atop the Centre Georges Pompidou north of the Seine.  During a peaceful sunset, Genevieve and I sat there too.  Many of our excursions through the week were now at eye level with us—the rooftop of Hotel De Ville, the towers of Notre Dame, the Domes of the Panthéon and Les Invalides and the ever-present Eiffel Tower.  The only interruption of our view was a forest of chic square umbrellas and the long-stemmed red roses that adorned each table.  If Genevieve weren’t my cousin, I might have felt obligated to propose to her.

The Best Music I Heard in 2010:

I attended many excellent concerts and musicals in 2010.  I attended my first Indianapolis International Violin Competition event (the first night of the finals) and saw Clara-Jumi Kan—the eventual winner—play Beethoven’s Concerto in D major, Op. 61.  As wonderful as that was, I’m going to give my nod to the Stratford Shakespeare Festival’s production of The Two Gentlemen of Verona.  Shakespeare included lyrics for a song Who is Sylvia in Act 4, but there is no official music for it.  Dean Gabourie’s production set the play during the 1920’s with the leads as members of a vaudeville act.  Jonathan Monro’s setting of the tune utilized a phonograph on stage playing period-style recorded accompaniment.  It was sweetly and earnestly delivered by Gareth Potter as Proteus.  I’m disappointed to think that I won’t ever get to hear that tune again.

The Worst Music I Heard in 2010:

Secretariat had all the elements of a great sports movie:  a struggling heroine facing incredible odds as the owner of a horse farm, a promising race-horse, a wise and gruff horse trainer, and the requisite Cinderella ending.  What it lacked, however, was a proper musical score.  I don’t know what Nick Glennie-Smith was thinking of as he wrote this music.  I suspect he was dwelling on the death of a beloved family pet.  I’ve never heard music so morbid.

Scoring a sports movie should be a relative no-brainer: strings play excitedly in twelve-eight time, horns blare on tonic and dominant notes, timpani rolls and cymbals crash at appropriate intervals.  Hell, I could have scored this movie.  I’ll do that in my spare time next year.

The Best Music I Heard in Paris:

On one of our last metro trips, we rode in a car where a clarinetist played a snappy rendition of La Vie en Rose.  Hearing that song wasn’t on our list of things to do, but it made the trip to Paris complete.

The Best Christmas Present of 2010:

I usually don’t rank my Christmas presents.  But Genevieve outdid herself.  She uploaded our Paris pictures to Shutterfly.com and created a phenomenal coffee-table book.  She even reprinted my La Dame de Fer post in it (which I just now realized I misspelled, dammit).  I was thrilled.  I’ll need to rethink the disparaging remarks I made about picture-taking.  The book captures the energy and excitement of the trip as well as the staggering beauty and colossal proportions of the architecture.  It’s almost as much fun to flip through the book reminiscing as it was to go.

My New Friends in 2010:

For extroverts, this entry likely makes no sense.  For me, it is absolutely necessary.  I fail so regularly and miserably at making friends that I need a category to track it.  I’ve actually listed new friends one year who weren’t speaking to me the next year.  (Imagine that.)

Ellen is the daughter of a fellow choir member at my church.  She just moved to Chicago to get into the theatre business.  I applaud her spunk and determination.  At every opportunity this year, I’ve encouraged her in her efforts.

Everyone in my circle left me to my own devices when choosing a school and career.  And everything inside of me at the time said, “Be practical first, then creative.”  I didn’t realize that changing careers after graduating from engineering school would be like climbing Mount Everest without the Sherpas.  I wonder how life might have turned out if someone I trusted and admired had said to me, “You have talent, you need to develop it.”  (Of course, there may be a reason no one said this to me.)

Long story short, Ellen is quite a talented young lady.  I’m hoping to be an encouraging voice in her head to keep plugging away.  We hug whenever we get to talk to each other.  That’s a pretty good definition of friends if you ask me.

The Most Craigo Moment of 2010:

In high school, people started calling me “Craigo.”  I didn’t like it.  But if it is said with the right inflection by people I know and love, it grows on me.  My Craigo moments are the ones where I’m accidentally myself—when I speak before thinking, act before remembering my surroundings or just do something stupid that is completely in-character for me.

The Starbucks staff was cleaning as I walked in.  Most of the floor was freshly mopped.  I hate walking on mopped floors.  It’s so rude.

I ordered my tall vanilla latte where the mopping stopped, barely in reach of the counter.

The barista went to make my drink without taking my money first.  So I waited at the edge of dryness near the cash register.  Like some OCD child, I refused to step in the fresh mopping.

The mopper of floors had stopped and was behind the counter doing something.  I’ve seen him a hundred times.  He’s friendly and we’ve chatted before.  But I was too distracted for chatting.  Why, you ask?  Because I was in the middle of paying.  I had to pay for my drink.  I order, then I pay.  It’s a pre-ordained, universal law.  I would never presume to step outside such a natural law and speak pleasantly to the guy behind the counter.   I was in the middle of paying, teetering at the threshold of fresh mopping.  As I stood there, thinking more on the topic, I considered the mopper was probably impatient for me to leave so he could finish.  So my frozen limbo became more anguished.

Hence, the people at Starbucks think I’m a really weird person who’s not friendly and is scared of water.  I didn’t sit down in Starbucks that night, obviously, since I couldn’t get to any furniture except by boat.  I left, feeling like a nincompoop.

The Coolest Thing I Did in Paris

This is a new, but necessary category.  Genevieve and I attended L’Italienne à Alger at the Opéra Palais Garnier.  (L’Italiana in Algeri if you’re following along in Italian.)  If I didn’t create a category for this, I would have listed it in every other category.  Waiting for the overture to start was the most memorable moment of the year;  the orchestra and singers delivered the best music I heard; the resplendent theatre was the most memorable view.  It was thrilling, engrossing, overwhelming and surreal.  The stage lights glittered off the gilt columns and reliefs around the balconies.  The house was packed with well-heeled and stylishly-coiffed patrons.  They hung over the railing on the upper levels, smiling faces resting on forearms.

Our view only covered about half of the stage.  Our burgundy, fabric-wrapped box was aimed directly at the VIP seats in Box Five.  The opera was in Italian and helpfully translated at the top of the stage into French.  The leads were from Alaska and Ohio.  Just being there was cosmopolitan, exclusive, worldly, cultured, historic and literary.  They could have put on Sesame Street and I would have been overjoyed.  But they put on Rossini and I was insatiable.

When I saw the tickets themselves before the show, I found out that their face value was 25 euros.  I had paid Super Bowl prices through an online reseller.  Strangely enough, it didn’t matter in the end.  I’ve never been someone who would use this kind of superlative, but attending the Paris Opera was—far and away, hands down, without equal—the coolest thing I have ever done.



  1. Is is bad that my favorite part of your 2010 Highlights is your Most Craigo Moment of 2010? I can’t even stand how totally Craigo that is. When you write things, it makes wish I had been there. My coworkers believe me to be crazy, as I was laughing out loud. Ahhhhh, thanks.

  2. I think it’s your favorite because you, naturally, love to say Craigo, Michelle!

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