Sunday, December 16, 2012

2012: What a Ride!

Greetings friends, family, colleagues and assorted well-wishers, and happy holidays!

I began 2012 in the Magic City, and I sit here today writing this Christmas letter from my new home in the Cream City. As I look back on the events between Point A and Point B, I realize there's no way for me to condense them into a coherent narrative that anyone would want or have the time to read! It suffices to say that it was eventful, and to borrow a sports cliche, I "left it all out on the field" this year.

My move from Miami to Milwaukee late this year marks the beginning of a new chapter in my career, and my life. I feel incredibly blessed with the opportunities and challenges I've enjoyed, and just plain lucky for the great friends I enjoy them with. That means you. Thanks for making 2012 one for the ages.

I hope the end of 2012 finds you and yours in good health and even better spirits. I hope your holidays are full of warmth and love. And I hope like heck the Green Bay Packers can get healthy in time for the playoffs and push on to the Super Bowl--but you'll be able to read about that in 2013's letter.

Here are a few of the highlights from my year, the moments I've cherished the most, and many of them part of the reason that looking back on 2012 makes me feel just plain exhausted, in a good way!

"Who puts a shirtless photo in a Christmas letter?" I hear you asking yourself. Well I'm illustrating a point, and not JUST that I actually had a passable tan for the first fleeting instance in my life. Living in Miami was an absolutely alien experience for a kid from smalltown Wisconsin, one that challenged me and helped me grow as a person and a professional. There were also moments, like Ben's New Years visit, that were just plain fun. Pictured here, two Sconnie boys looking about as out of place as it's possible to look on South Beach.

As much as I loved the winter weather in South Florida, I made sure to find the time to visit Joe and Emily in their temporary home of Colorado. I have to say, these two took to the slopes like ducks to water. By sheer luck, my sister Katie, her boyfriend Tim and his family happened to be in Breckenridge at the same time. You can't have a good trip without good people, and as a result, this was one of the best.

Walking the red carpet is the last thing I expected to do this year. But when Starz's new series "Magic City" staged its World Premiere in Miami, I was fortunate enough to receive an invite, and luckier still to have the lovely Leti Cavalieri (down in front) in town for a visit at the time. As a former film student, I'm not ashamed to admit I was a little more giddy than professionalism would have dictated.

Speaking of professionalism, mine received the test of of a lifetime as I covered the tragic shooting of Trayvon Martin in central Florida. As a "reporter on the ground" in his hometown of Miami Gardens, I found myself thrust into the lion's den with none other than Headline News's Nancy Grace. I survived. That's about all I can say. The video's online, but don't ask me for a link.

Mom and Dad welcomed a new furry face into the family while I was visiting in April. Barney is part beagle, part basset hound and all unbridled affection. Needless to say, he's fitting in well with the family.

I'll never pretend to be a Miami Heat fan, or even much of a professional basketball enthusiast. But I will say that WIOD sports reporter Andrew Julian's unfortunately-timed vacation plans worked out pretty darn well for me. Covering Miami's title win from the floor and the post-game locker room, the excitement was more than contagious--it was inescapable.

Among the other great perks of working for WIOD in Miami was the occasional availability of helicopter rides with our hardworking team of traffic professionals. For only about the dozenth time in 2012, the eight-year-old kid deep inside my heart was jumping up and down with giddy enthusiasm.

The hardest thing about accepting my new job in Wisconsin was leaving behind the passionate, dedicated and downright FUN colleagues and friends with whom I worked at WIOD in Miami. Every day's a battle in the newsroom, and these were my brothers and sisters in arms. Folks like Mike, Andrew, Nathalie, Patty, Jason, Erica and all the rest--I miss them something stupid.

I saw my fair share of sunrises running down to the beach in South Florida. It never got old. This was among my last as I packed up my life, yet again, to head back home to the Midwest. The Budget Truck drive home with Cam Klein was the kind of adventure that transcends words, and I can think of no one better to be locked in a truck cab for 24 hours with. Thanks buddy.

My new home is pretty great, too. This is my new office. Completed in 1895, Milwaukee City Hall is one of a kind. As Public Relations Supervisor, it's my job to help all 15 members of the Common Council and the City Clerk interact with the media and keep the public informed. Like being a reporter, it is NEVER boring.

I'm also called upon to host interviews and programing on City Channel 25. Being on TV is a little weird to me. Having to wear a suit is weirder still. But it's growing on me.

My triumphant return to Wisconsin means that getting to a Packers game with Dad and Grandpa no longer necessitates the purchase of plane tickets. Nor does seeing the family. And that's really a winning proposition. It is really good to be home.

The couple of months since my return to Wisconsin have been a whirlwind. There have been weddings. There have been concerts. There have been events like Cheese Days in Monroe with two of my three favorite BKs (Bryan and Ben). It seems like every week I find another reason I'm glad to be home.

And yes, I've already gotten in some broomball. Our team fought our way into the final eight at the Milwaukee Broomball Classic before we were eliminated earlier this month. Kevin, Steve, Laura, Catherine and the rest were fierce competitors. And once the darn lakes freeze, you'll find me out on the ice again, living proof that even after you've taken the boy out of Wisconsin, you can't take Wisconsin out of the boy.

Here's wishing you only the best, and plenty of adventures, in 2013. Merry Christmas.