Goodbye 43, HELLO 44!

My 43rd Year - the people I met and the places I went

Tomorrow October 4th is my 44th Birthday, so today I am looking back on the past year – my 43rd year. Overall it was a good year with the exception of one devastating loss. My Denver Broncos won the Super Bowl (for the first time since 1998), I met Ralph Macchio whom I have loved since I was 10 years old, but I lost a dear lifelong friend. I guess you have to take the bad with the good.

I got the idea (I forget where now) to make sort of a corkboard journal of my year’s events. Rather than just throwing my ticket stubs and photos on a shelf or stuffing them into a drawer to save and never look at, I pinned them up on my corkboard, so I could see them throughout the year. And it made a pretty cool photo too (look at the top of this entry). I started off my 43rd year going to the last Orioles game of the season on my birthday with my best friend Cindy.

Besides the Denver Broncos winning the Super Bowl, I also got to see my Denver Broncos play in Cleveland last October. The Broncos won and Talib had a pick six. I had a great weekend in Cleveland that also included a trip to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Last year was also the year Rick Smith started our Baltimore Chapter of the Denver Broncos where Broncos fans in Baltimore gather and watch the games together. Our group has grown and now we have our own bar, well the top floor of it anyway – Social Pub & Pie in Federal Hill. I have made some great friends and now have a home on Sundays to watch the Broncos with others who love them as much as I do.

In addition to meeting Ralph Macchio at a Karate Kid screening and Q n A in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania during my 43rd year, I also met Brady Anderson at Orioles FanFest (and got my photo with him for just the second time), I met Toad the Wet Sprocket and got my photo with them, and I met Memphis Grizzlies’ Zach Randolph and got my photo with him in Philadelphia before the game as he was running off the court after shoot around. I went to one other Grizzlies game – in DC where I took my dad to his first Grizzlies game and his first time at the Verizon Center. Last year was a special year for Dad as he turned 70, and I surprised him in Florida for his birthday.

I went to some great concerts during my 43rd year with the highlight probably being the New Kids on the Block weekend with shows in Coney Island and MixTape Festival in Hershey, Pennsylvania. I finally got to go Coney Island where I have always wanted to visit for some reason. And it didn’t disappoint. My friend Vicky met me there and we walked along the boardwalk. I saw the Cyclone and ate at Nathan’s after the NKOTB and finally ate at Walhburger’s – lunch before the show.  Other concerts I went to were Olivia Newton-John front row in Lancaster, Pennsylvania (amazing – close second to NKOTB), Bryan Adams at Wolf Trap for the first time (fantastic – loved him since middle school), Cyndi Lauper and Boy George at Wolf Trap (so fun – first time I’ve seen either of them), Chris Cornell in Baltimore (beautiful as always), Howard Jones and OMD in Baltimore (fantastic – first time I’ve seen either of them), Maroon 5 in Baltimore (with Cindy because she loves them, but it was a great show), the Main Street Music Festival at Merriweather to benefit Ellicott City with Toad the Wet Sprocket headlining (amazing and this is where I met them finally after 20 some years) and of course the Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis that I go to every year – this year I was most excited about Violent Femmes who were fantastic and played their first album in its entirety but Gin Blossoms were also very good (we were on the front rail at the stage)!

I attended the Beale Street Music Festival on my annual pilgrimage to Memphis. But this year I was joined by my coworker and now friend Allyssa (another good thing that happened during my 43rd year). Allyssa had never been to Memphis before and enjoyed my tour of it taking her to Graceland, Sun Studio, the Johnny Cash historical musical marker unveiling, eating and and drinking on Beale Street at Rum Boogie and Alfred’s and of course attending the Beale Street Music Festival. We had a blast (and even won some money) staying at our almost free room at the Goldstrick Casino in Tunica, Mississippi. Little did Allyssa know back in January when we went to Memories of the King with Elvis impersonator William Stiles at Maryland Live Casino that she would be in Memphis four months later touring the real Elvis’ home.

It was my 43rd year, but 2016 was the 30th anniversary for some of my favorite movies. To celebrate this, movie theaters re-released these movies just for a day or two. Cindy, Angela and I saw the 30th anniversary of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (taking Cindy’s oldest daughter Tabitha with us) and the 30th anniversary of Pretty in Pink, which is still one of my top five favorite movies of all time. I watch it over and over again, but it was great to see it on the big screen again. Then Angela and I spent six hours in the theater watching all three movies of the Back to the Future trilogy on Back to the Future day, which was October 25, 2015 the day Marty and Doc traveled back to the future in Back to the Future II. Besides movies, I also saw two plays with my aunt. We saw Streetcar Named Desire and Death of a Saleman at the Everyman Theater in Baltimore.

I only read 13 books during my 43rd year – I would like to double that in my 44th. I probably started about 10 others but didn’t finish them so they went back into my library to read later. I get distracted whenever a new book comes out and start reading it. (I am simultaneously reading three books right now – luckily I read memoirs, biographies and histories so I don’t get the storylines confused like I would with novels.) I love reading, but somehow I always get distracted by a tv show or movie or something. I have so many books in my library (like over 250 books) I haven’t read yet, but I keep buying more and more. Anyway during my 43rd year I read the following books: Don’t Ask Forever: My Love Affair with Elvis, I Feel Like Going On: Life, Game and Glory (Ray Lewis’ memoir), Reckless: My Life as a Pretender (Chrissie Hynde’s memoir), Thirteen Days: A Memoir of the Cuban Missile Crisis by Robert Kennedy (he’s my favorite Kennedy), Wildflower (Drew Barrymore’s memoir), Out of Orange: A Memoir by Cleary Wolters (the real life Alex from Orange is the New Black), Nicole Brown Simpson: The Private Diary of a Life Interrupted, Life So Far: A Memoir by Betty Friedan, The Next Elvis: Searching for Stardom at Sun Records (telling never heard before stories at Sun Studio from a woman who worked there after Elvis left), Go Cat Go: The Life and Times of Carl Perkins, the King of Rockabilly, If I Did It: Confessions of a Killer by OJ Simpson, How I Helped OJ Get Away with Murder (yes I got a little obsessed with the OJ Simpson trial), A Little Thing Called Life by Linda Thompson (Elvis’ live-in girlfriend for almost five years). I am currently reading Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll (it’s over 600 pages in small print), The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo (Amy Schumer’s ‘memoir’ although she doesn’t call it her memoir) and Happier Days: Paramount Television’s Classic Sitcoms 1974-1984.

When I wasn’t reading or traveling to concerts or to games or to Memphis, I was home with my dogs Elvis and Priscilla, hanging out with my parents and once in a while going out with my friends. My new favorite thing to do at home is binge watch Santa Barbara – yes the soap opera from the 1980s. It was my favorite in high school – I was obsessed with it, especially with Eden and Cruz. I watched the first year of SB on YouTube then bought the episodes from 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990 and 1991 until Eden’s last episode in June. I’ve just started 1987. (Maybe this is why I haven’t been reading as much as I would like?)

Tomorrow Ocotober 4th is my 44th birthday and I have absolutely no plans and am SO excited about that. (My trip to Memphis the end of the month is my birthday present to myself.) But for now I am getting my favorite meal (a large extra cheese Ledo’s pizza and sweet tea) after work tonight and taking it home so I have it to eat tomorrow on my birthday – for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (Yes that’s right. It’s my birthday. Don’t judge.) Tonight I am going to remove everything from my corkboard and start anew. For my birthday tomorrow (I of course took off work), I will be binge watching Santa Barbara with my dogs and eating Ledo’s pizza (and I’ll probably squeeze in some reading too). Sounds like a perfect celebration to me!

I already have lots planned for my 44th year including three trips to Memphis (for the opening of the GuestHouse at Graceland and the first two Grizzlies home games in October, Beale Street Music Festival and the new Graceland visitor center in May, and Elvis Week in August – it’s the the 40th anniversary of his death), visiting my parents in Florida in February for my mom’s 70th birthday, seeing the Grizzlies play in Philly in November and DC in January and seeing Temple of the Dog in concert at Madison Square Garden in New York City in November. There is a rumor U2 is going to release their next album and tour, but I really hope they wait until my 45th year for that because I am a little booked up. 44 should be a great one for me!

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