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2011: My Personal Highlights

January 30, 2012

A belated Happy New Year, everyone!

2011 was a year of firsts for me.  I attended my first pro football game (an easy thing to do during the Colts’ Manning drought).  Someone seriously offered me a partnership in a consulting firm (I turned it down).   I ordered my first drink from a swim-up bar (I did not drown).

My Most Memorable Moment in 2011

My cousin Maria, her beau Dimitri, and I were among the guests at the Bahamian wedding for Maria’s sister Joyce.  The night before Maria and Dimitri were to leave, she wanted a picture of the giant chess set near one of the resort’s bars.  The knee-high pieces were set up on a concrete chess board with benches around them.  The area wasn’t directly lit, but the building sconces and the most brilliant starlight I’ve ever seen made everything visible.

Dimitri and I, who’ve not spent much time together, decided to play chess.  We began at 10:00 PM.  We were both slow and methodical players—much to Maria’s dismay.

Other resort guests strolled by in the moonlight.   Maria complained to all of them how disgusted she was.

“They’ve been playing for over an hour!  Only one game!”  She wandered off multiple times to visit her sisters at their villas.

Joyce, the bride, made for the most surreal memory.  She was preparing to leave the next day as well.  She passed by us several times traveling back and forth to the main office.  The first walks were casual, later ones were more purposeful.  Finally, she eschewed the paths all together and was running through the grass.  She flitted past, laughing musically, her shear Tinkerbell dress backlit theatrically.

After I chased Dimitri’s king around the board, putting him in check on nearly every move, he defeated me at 1:00 in the morning.  Maria asked if we’d bonded during our game.  Dimitri and I looked bemusedly at each other said, “Sure.”

“What did you talk about?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?!?”

It was a great night.

The Best Book I Read in 2011

To all the Les Misérables book fans out there, I apologize.  My favorite book is generally one that I don’t want to end.  I was definitely ready for Les Misérables to come to an end.

I spotted Becoming Shakespeare by Jack Lynch on a bookshelf in Stratford, Ontario in 2007.  I didn’t buy it because I wasn’t sure if I could stomach a whole nonfiction book about Shakespeare plays.  I was tempted into buying it last year at a used book store.

Becoming Shakespeare is not a how-to book for aspiring writers.  The back cover text sums up both the book and its delightful tone:

This is a book about William Shakespeare’s afterlife, but there’s nothing mystical about it.  It’s a book about sex comedies with no sex, about tragedies where everyone lives happily ever after, about a Shakespeare festival where not a line of Shakespeare was spoken.  It’s a book about a king’s teenage mistress and a prudish doctor afraid of blood. … It’s about a classic of children’s literature written by a murderess. … It’s about a regicide, a whore and a forger all contributing toward the production of a genius.  It’s a book about a provincial bumpkin who became the great portraitist of the universal human condition.  … [I]t’s a book about one of the greatest paradoxes in all of world literature … how Shakespeare became Shakespeare.

The Most Important Thing I Did in 2011

I suppose if I’m going to be honest in this blog, I’ll have to fess up.  My brother nearly kicked the bucket this year.  He had a huge blood clot that swelled up his leg.  He had multiple surgeries, stints and fistulae.  It wasn’t pretty.  My parents made the trip to Michigan many times to be at the hospital and help with my nieces.

I stayed in Indy.  And stayed quiet.

There were a few rumblings that I needed to show some support.  So I sent a card.  It wasn’t completely impersonal.  It was a card left over from my grandparents’ collection in the desk I inherited.  But it didn’t mollify the family.  My parents were still calling and emailing—telling me that my brother’s in-laws were all wondering why I hadn’t called yet.

So why hadn’t I called?

The very thought made me nauseous.  My brother and I try to be polite to each other, but when push comes to shove, there’s no relationship for us to fall back on.  In the time we spent together as children and adults, my brother has left me with one overall impression of what brotherhood means to him: he doesn’t want one.

I’ve only ever been a thorn in my brother’s side.  During this year’s episode, my parents said he was lying in the hospital in a lot of pain.  A call from me would be the last thing to alleviate pain in his life—that was my opinion, at least.

After enough family prodding and counseling from Cecilia and Keith, I called.  My brother acted happy to hear from me.  On Keith’s sage advice, I let my brother do most of the talking.

So I guess things are marginally patched up now—physically for my brother, emotionally for the rest of us.  People in Michigan are still talking to me.  I’m not banned from seeing my nieces and the nieces themselves have not acted differently toward me.

But at some point in the future, despite the way our family neatly sweeps things under the rug, we’ll probably be forced to admit that my brother and I are only one step up the ladder from being estranged siblings.

My Most Uproarious Laughter in 2011

My friends Keith and Matt have been irritated with me because they do not appear in annals of Rubicon as important pillars of my life.  That’s by design.  Most of our conversations are virtually unrepeatable—either for their complete tastelessness or my unwillingness to provide background enough to capture the moment correctly.  The same has happened this year.  I would waste half an hour of my readers’ lives explaining why I fell apart with laughter when Keith said: “Land o’ Goshes!  Keith’s dead!”  But it’s simply not in the scope of this blog.

On the other hand, most of us have been exposed to the universal condition that married couples have difficulty communicating with each other.  My dad is regularly castigated for not remembering the words my mom speaks in his presence.  But there is another side of the coin, I discovered.

While taking down an address one night, I asked whether Utah was abbreviated UT.

“Yes, it is,” my dad said.  “I don’t know why the post office makes us abbreviate the four letter states—Utah … Iowa … Ohio.  Seems like it wouldn’t be that difficult to throw on an extra two letters.”

My mom looked up from her newspaper, “Ohio.”

“I already said that,” Dad retorted.

“Oh.”

“Didn’t you hear me?”

My mom was irked to be caught in the trap she habitually sets.  But she was undaunted.  She drew herself up immediately and said, “No.  I didn’t suspend all thought while you were speaking.”

I imagined my dad giving the same response to my mom and couldn’t contain my mirth for a good little while.

My Most Memorable View in 2011

Flying over the Atlantic on the way to Exuma from Nassau, the sun was setting behind the propeller plane.  We flew around the towering clouds.  They hovered over the calm ocean, as if supported by a glass mezzanine.  The deep blue water reflected the white, orange and purple outlines.  A mysterious bright light shone up at me in the water; it flashed occasionally from behind the clouds.  After a few moments, realized it was the near-perfect reflection of the moon.

The Best Music I Heard in 2011

Do You Hear the People Sing was a concert of Boubil-Schönberg musicals premiered by the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra on October 7th and 8th.  I understand this will become a traveling feature for other orchestras.  Expenses were not spared in gathering singers.  Lea Salonga (the original Kim in Miss Saigon) and Terrence Mann (the original Broadway Javert) lead an elite cast.

A secret gem was hiding in the concert.  I’ve long considered the song Please to contain the most beguiling melody in Miss Saigon.  But it functions as a conversation that masks its beauty.  Ms. Salonga told us that this melody was actually intended as its own ballad.  That song, Too Much for One Heart,  was cut from the show, but has been given new life in concerts like this one.

Too Much for One Heart wasn’t actually my best musical moment.  I’ve seen Les Misérables nine times on stage.  I’ve read the book.  I’ve been to Paris.  All of these memories were scrolling through my mind as the orchestra played.

Naturally, one of the selections was Bring Him Home.  I know every note of Les Mis by rote.  But I hadn’t been fully attentive and in the moment with Bring Him Home in years.  Peter Lockyer sang the simple beginning.  The second line ended as it always did, “… you have always been there.”

I was bowled over anew.  Suddenly, I realized that Les Misérables has been with me for more than half my life.  It has been a cornerstone of my philosophy and a touchstone of what I think music is and should be.

Quite unexpectedly, I cried.

The Worst Music I heard in 2011

Perennially, some music makes me gag.

My cousin Genevieve gave me the first season of Glee on DVD to watch.  I have been actively avoiding Glee ever since it came out.  I prefer not to be addicted to TV shows at a particular time slot.  I have lived far too much of my life planning around the TV schedule; I refuse to do it any more.

I watched the entire first season at Genevieve’s behest.  I’ll admit that the show found a lot of talented people.  I’ll admit that Lea Michele can give me goosebumps.  I’ll admit that I would rate Matthew Morrison a solid 8 out of 10 for looks; I’m bewildered that he skyrockets to a 9.9 whenever he sings.

The high points of Glee are like miniature islands of paradise with Taj Mahal gazebos.  But the low points of Glee are like a crocodile infested sewage runoff surrounding the idyllic archipelago.

If I must pick one worst moment from the first season (and bottom-dwellers abound), I’ll select Bust Your Windows.  Apparently this travesty of lyrics and dearth of melody made it into the Glee Live show.  What sad commentary on the state of music appreciation in this country.

My New Friends in 2011

Since I’m belated, I can report that I’m already down by two friends for 2012.  Which is typical for me, I suppose.

But a happy thing happened near the end of 2011.  I was at Gregg’s (a gay bar) and, much to my astonishment, I saw Rob, someone I know through work.  When we were working together I suspected Rob was gay.  But Rob told me he had a daughter, so I assumed (like I normally do) that my first instinct was wrong.  When I saw Rob again at Gregg’s, he was there with his boyfriend.  My gaydar works!

The Most Craigo Moment of 2011

Cass, Michelle, Wes (Michelle’s heretofore unnamed husband) and I attended an Idina Menzel concert at the symphony in March.  An animated discussion followed the concert as we waited in parking garage traffic.  At one point, Michelle and Wes were trying to come up with a band name.  “Alien Ant Farm,” Wes said with satisfaction.

“Ah.” I chimed politely.

Wes laughed.  “I like when Craig says, ‘ah,’ as if he’s learned something, but you know he doesn’t care about it at all.”

Cass agreed, “He immediately clicks the ‘spam’ button and chucks it.”

I tried to defend myself.  “It’s not that I don’t want to know.  It’s just that there’s no category in the outline to file it under.”

Michelle seemed to think this statement encapsulated how my mind works.

For the record, I can name no current or past members of Alien Ant Farm or any of their songs.  You’ll have to look them up yourself.

Those were my highlights.  Hopefully 2012 lives up to all the hype.

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4 comments

  1. Welcome back, Craig!


  2. Thanks! I hadn’t intended to go missing. I realized I have a lot of projects to complete this year. I’ll try to keep posting. We’ll see how it all goes. Thanks for reading!


  3. Now I can put a bow on my 2011! By the way, I enjoyed “Too Much for One Heart”


  4. I’m glad it only took me a month to wrap up 2011 for you. 2007 is still floating around in unwrapped Limbo. Thanks for reading and watching!



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