Friday, December 21, 2012

post 633! the annual column ...

"Button your lip, baby!
Button your coat!
Let's go out dancing --
Go for the throat!

Let's bury the hatchet,
And wipe out the past!
Make love together --
Stay on the path!

You're not the only one
With mixed emotions!
You're not the only ship
Adrift on this ocean!

This coming and going?
Is driving me nuts!
This to-in and fro-ing?
Is hurting my guts!

So get off the fence now --
You're creasing your butt.
Life is a party!
Let's get out and strut!

You're not the only one,
With mixed emotions!
You're not the only ship,
Adrift on this ocean!

You're not the only one,
That's feeling lonesome!
You're not the only one,
With mixed emotions!

Let's grab the world,
By the scruff of the neck.
And take it down deeply,
And love it to death!

So button your lip baby!
Button your coat!
Let's go out dancing --
Let's rock and roll, yeah!

You're not the only one,
With mixed emotions!
You're not the only ship,
Adrift on this ocean!

You're not the only one,
That's feeling lonesome!
You're not the only one,
With mixed emotions ..."

-- "Mixed Emotions" by the Rolling Stones.  Chosen as the theme for the 2012 edition of my favorite column I post each year, because God bless it, this was one really confusing year full of mixed emotions.  There's that, and the fact that I'm a huge, and I mean hu-yuge Stones fan ... and believe it or not, this is my favorite song by them.  Although "Sympathy For the Devil" is the best song they ever did.  Even if a certain person who'll appear in these prepared remarks did a damned solid job of arguing "Gimme Shelter" was as good as it gets, and at least one of my parents would head slap me, DiNozzo style, at ignoring "Get Off Of My Cloud" ...


Every year, this post gets harder to write.  Usually, it's because I have so many people to thank for their participation in my life over the previous year, that I fear I'm going to miss on at least 5-6 obvious "hey dude, you forgot me!" folks who will jokingly ask where the hell their shout-out was.  (At least, I hope they're joking.  (Pause.)  Hang on, let me lock the front door just to be safe ...)

This year's post, is going to be the most difficult to write yet ... because 2012 will not go down as a year that contained my best days, my best weeks, my best months, and it sure as all hell wasn't my finest year.

And yet, despite it all -- and trust me, the stretch from the evening of August 15th, to the night of December 12th, and really more the evening of December 14th at Lew's, when this stretch was mercifully killed and officially buried 29 feet under the ground, deep enough to stay buried even during a zombie attack?  Was damned near the roughest stretch of my life -- I have to look back once again with wonder and amazement at how amazing the truest of friends and co-workers and acquaintances and family in my life, at how amazing and incredible they are.  It never fails to humble me, that people who appeared in the inaugural "annual post" five years ago?  Virtually every single person is still in the 2012 edition.  And the 2012 edition is virtually guaranteed to be the longest one yet.

So before I hit the individual thank you's and shout outs, a generic thank you (beatles voice) from me, to you*.  Because you guys (and gals) have lived the words of that song so perfectly for yet another year:

"If there's anything that you want?
If there's anything that you need?
Just call on me, and I'll send it along,
With love, from me, to you."

Thanks, y'all.  Truly.  Thank you for simply being you.  And for embracing and loving me, for being, uuh, me.

(*: here's your random trivia fact of the day: "From Me to You" was the Beatles first number one in the US of A.  Most people think it's "She Loves You" (which was their second) or "All My Loving" (which never hit number one, somehow, even though that song's performance on "The Ed Sullivan Show" is what launched them to greatness.)

So, without any further ado ... here we go.

First, the prior editions of the "annual column":

2008's inaugural edition.
2009's version (scroll to final question in fake mailbag, and yes, this year's edition sucked).
2010's version.
2011's version.

* As always, I begin by thanking the folks whose night of tomfoolery, hijinks, and failure to use protection resulted in the seriously screwed up individual typing this.  (That would be my mom and dad, for the clueless idiots reading this.)  Lord knows I'm not an easy person to love, and I'm not an easy person to understand.  Hell, my "mental health professional" I see for an hour every Tuesday still doesn't truly "get me", and I've only been paying her money I don't really have for the better part of ten months, to try to figure out what's wrong with me.  You two have always "gotten me", and rather than try to change me or fix me or throw up your hands in surrender, have instead embraced me, loved me, and had my back no matter what, even when defending my back, meant defending the indefensible.  I cannot thank you enough, for simply being you.

Even when being you, means holding me accountable for my numerous screw-ups.  Holding someone accountable doesn't make you wrong -- it makes you a true friend.  And I think it's damned cool that two of my best friends, are my mom and dad.

* So let's hit the first of the four on my "Mount Rushmore" of friends next, and that would be my brother.  We've come a long way from that one fateful night when I was 11 and you were 8, we wouldn't stop fighting, so mom had the brilliant idea to move us into the same room "until the two of you get along!"  One trip to the emergency room 35 minutes later to deal with where my head, helped by your hands, inadvertently landed quite awkwardly and painfully on the corner of the window sill five times in seven seconds ... and we were good.  And have been ever since.

* And to your amazing other half, all I can say is, "wow!"  I mean, if you had to wager on either my brother or I meeting the love of their life, because she's the bartender at your local watering hole ... well, ok, fine.  I wouldn't know which one of us to wager on either.  But you two are perfect together, and I'm glad you are in a new job that truly takes advantage of your skills, and that you truly enjoy.  But yeah, I'm also happy that you gave me the three most amazing people I've ever met.  First up:

* My special little girls.  I cannot believe you two are almost two and a half.  I cannot believe you are walking, talking, and most importantly, have perfected the “Unca Teve!” greeting as I walk in to the main room from the garage when I come to y’all’s house.  True story – my mom and dad watch them every Tuesday, and I had a couple pieces of mail that got sent to my folks house that they dropped off to me at work one Tuesday in October.  I walked outside to meet everyone in my dad’s car and get my mail, and the girls literally lit up in recognition of their crazy Unca Teve.  “Hi Teve!”  “I Wub You Unca Teve!”  Girls?  You had my heart the second you were born, and thank God you waited until midday on that Sunday, so your crazy drunk uncle could haul (rear end) back from the float trip he was on, to see you enter this life.  I love you two so, so much.  Your Unca Teve doesn’t play favorites*.  But if he did?  As much as I love the two of you ...

(*: this is an outright, absolute lie.  I do play favorites.  Which is why, if you’re mentioned in this post?  You should feel really good about yourself.  I DO play favorites, dammit!)

* I love my “special little guy” that much more.  Either my mental issues are worse than even I think they are … or I do have a soft spot for certain people, because A-Man?  The second I see you, I want to cry, I love you that much buddy.  My favorite picture of all time, is of me holding you about 20 minutes after your birth, in the delivery room, and I’m just staring down at you, tears running down my cheeks, in amazement and total love of the miracle I am holding.  My second favorite picture of all time?  Every person who enters my cubicle sees it first thing – you and me, standing in Gigi and Papa’s front yard, on Easter Sunday last year.  Just you and me, buddy.  Oh, and the ever present glass of wine in my hand (rimshot!)  Buddy, your uncle loves you, and lives for that moment when I open the door, and you’re the first one to yell out “Teve!” as you sprint down the stairs to hug my leg.  (Just don’t let your sisters know, ok?  That’s our special little secret.)

* To "The Voice of Reason" ... uuh, what the hell happened to our Chiefs this year?  I mean, really?  2-12?  Worst scoring differential in franchise history?  Players killing themselves in front of coaches and front office executives?  Blackouts by fans?  How did this sink so far, so fast?  You're the "Voice of Reason", for God's sake!  How?  How did this happen?

In all seriousness, you're the second of the four on my "Mount Rushmore" of friends, and how we're still standing 20 years after we reached our (outrageously racist old guy in "fidelity" ads) "why not?" moment, and combined our gambling pools in study hall, I have no idea.  But here we are.  Still going strong.

Congratulations to you, to "Mrs. Voice of Reason" as well, on the latest addition to the family.  She's beyond adorable.  As is (montell jordan voice) "Little G".  So glad to see the life the two of you have committed to, is going as well as it is, and it could not happen to two better people.

* As I noted earlier, this was a "mixed emotions" kind of year for me.  There's so many people coming up next, that I'd normally thank for making a few Royals games with me, for hitting up a float trip or two with me, for hitting up a concert or five with me, for hitting up the "Insert Ouncer Here" Tailgate that was a tradition for as long as this site has been in existance.


Sadly, I made a grand total of two Royals games this year: one in early April with my brother and "The Voice of Reason", one in June with "The Champ".  I made one concert all summer, and that was the first Saturday in June.  I made zero float trips.  And the "Insert Ouncer Here" never found a date that worked for the core, key folks to be able to all show up.

(Told you this year sucked (rear end).)

So let me combine a few folks here, because this is normally where I'd say "hey, that was a blast!" / "glad you made it for (insert event here), wouldn't have wanted to share that with anyone else!" comments for them.  (AKA "this is the (emphasis on) former co-workers, save for one ... section of these prepared remarks".)

* I saw my buddy Brett once this year, at the Royals game DJ and I went to.  (I can only imagine how drunk, baked, or both, we looked ... considering it was 108 degrees, we were about the only three dumba**es to sit in center field, and we were leaving in the third inning when we ran into you.)  We gotta do better than that next year, both you and your awesome other half Shannon.  Glad to see from Facebook that the family is doing great.  And to your brother Scott, his awesome other half Rachelle (THE best jello shot maker ever, and as someone who is so full of himself it's disgusting ... I hate admitting that), congrats on the new one!  And I hope 2012 was a great year for y'all; it certainly appeared to be from a distance.

To my buddy Heath, and his wife Sarah, and their kids: glad all is good, and we can't be strangers next year, like we were this year.  It just isn't a summer until the Rivermaster breaks out "Beer Thirty" every hour, on the hour.  To my buddy Phil and his better half Lacey, congrats on the daughter, congrats on things being good from a distance.  Another "it just isn't summer" moment -- it ain't summer until I literally stun the hell out of everyone as your buddy passes the breathalyzer around the bonfire, everyone wagers I'm actually nearly sober ... and I blow a .26.  (True story: that happened in the summer of 2008.  The lesson?  I have the most ridiculous tolerance level known to man).

To Anthony and Megan, congratulations!  Hang in there dude -- life is funny sometimes.  In the words of Michael Corleone in (arguably) the most underrated sequal of all time: "Just when I think I'm out?  Somebody pulls me back in!"  Hang in there dude.  If 2012 has taught me anything, it's that your true friends ALWAYS have your back.  And I'll always have yours anyway I can, dude.

To some other former TA folks I saw far too little of this year, let me give you your well deserved shout out here.  To Hadley and Shari, to Robin and Justin, to Tucker, to Tim (I'm still in utter shock -- shock! -- at your post TA career, but good for you man!), to Amber and Jamie, to Melissa, to Pat, to my old boss Mary (ha!  You just can't escape either me or my brother making your life miserable, can ya!  (cue sitcom laugh track here).  I'm kidding ... somewhat) -- thanks for having the impact on me that you did, and come 2013, we need a nice reunion dinner.  Or poker game.  Whatever's clever.

* Let's jump a little bit back into some more personal recognitions.  To my buddy Brent, aka "bts" -- congrats, man!  Your wife is an amazing person.  And as always, I could not be prouder at who I ceded my spot on the couch to.  Glad you're back in KC, glad you met the girl of your dreams, and glad that she's, uuh, dream worthy.  

(And for your random "what are the effing odds" encounter of a lifetime?  This recap never gets old.)

* To my buddy Jasson -- thanks dude, for going all out and welcoming back into your life the last couple months of this year.  It'd been way, way, way too long since we simply had a fun conversation, let alone a fun day together.  Don't be a stranger man.  You either, Mrs. Jasson.  And dear God -- your kids are in high school!  Sweet merciful Jesus, where did the last decade go?  I can still remember your wedding day nearly ten years ago ... if only because it was hotter than hell itself, and you two were dumb enough to let Gregg and I play bartender at the reception.  How nobody got a DUI on the way home, I have no idea -- I made damned sure every drink was made "Stevo Style" (aka "at least 50% booze).  Fun times.

Oh -- and last time I checked, Jesus hadn't returned yet, so we're still cool on the Royals Double Header Day tickets from that summer.  (Rimshot!)  God, dumbest payback plan ever.  "Sure, just get me the money before the Second Coming, it's all good!"  I have a feeling I'll be going to my grave, to lie in nothingness for eternity, still owed $12.  :)  (Just kidding man.  Glad to have ya back!)

* Let me now switch to the Chiefs crew (and close friends as a result of said Chiefs crew) portion of these remarks ... before hitting the home stretch, and there's at least four* specific things in said home stretch, I wanna hit on.  (Three of them, I know what I plan to say.  It's the sprint from third to home, I'm still figuring out.)

(*: and in writing down who still to thank ... I count at least eight more "thank you" sections to go.  God bless it!  I am truly blessed!)

To my second parents, Russ and Mona?  I cannot express into words how much you two mean to me.  I literally -- the English language has not created a word that can actually convey how I feel about you.  And just so I'm perfectly clear -- I am NOT the only person who feels that way, even if I'm the only one who'll post it for the world to read.  You two are amazing.  Just amazing.  Like with my actual parents, I can only hope and pray that someday, I'll actually deserve the love and friendship and support that is unquestioningly always sent my way from you to me.

To Nancy, my second second mother (somehow, this makes sense, I swear) -- didn't see ya as much as I'd like to have, but every time I see you, it's an absolute good.  

To Mr. Griffin, had a blast at the Ralph Wayne rally.  It's always a blast when you grace us with your presence at the pool, if only to laugh our (rear ends) off at what passes as a "swimsuit" in your vernacular.  You're a great guy man.  Loved getting to know your crew this summer as well.  If you Colorado guys somehow stumble on this -- don't be strangers.  You guys were a blast every Sunday.

To Donnie, you never fail to make me laugh.  NEVER.  The single funniest moment of my last two years has to be when you saw Doc for the first time at the DJ/KJ wedding "reception" at the pool last summer.  That literally might be the single funniest moment of my life.  Glad to see I'm now third on the "wish list" (rimshot!), behind two good friends of mine.  I kid, I kid.  I love ya man, in my own way.  You're a great friend, you're a great person, and I'm beyond honored and humbled to count you as both, in my life.  And happy belated birthday; I'm pretty sure I forgot to Facebook message ya earlier this month.  (And if I didn't?  Then I did it twice (rimshot!)  Admit it, that's a better dream present than getting an actual message (rimshot!)  Good God, this is tanking fast ...)

To Susan, I hope you'll renew.  We love having you as part of our Chiefs crew, our summertime at the pool crew, our "what the hell, it's a random Thursday in March, let's hit up someplace for dinner!" crew.  And by "we", that includes "me".  You are by far and away the best addition to our group in the last five years.  I hope you choose to make it six, at least at Arrowhead.  You're always welcome in my life, anywhere, anytime.

To Jeff and Paula: sorry girl, but I still opt for "Mixed Emotions".  Although anytime you can spend a solid 30 minutes at a tailgate debating what the best Rolling Stones song is?  You're a winner in my book.  I wish you two nothing but the best in 2013, because you gave me a couple really fun weekends in 2012 ... and as Cowboys fans -- oh hell yes, not just me, but ALL of us, expect you to join us on the roadie to Jerry World sometime next fall.  (Hopefully late in the year.  Seriously, the whole point of a roadie, is to go somewhere warmer than KC.  I learned my lesson in 2003, when Gregg and I traveled to Cincinnati in mid November (and I had to drive back in the worst fog we've ever seen, ever), and Minnesota in late December (walking through 11 inches of unplowed snow to a car buried in 8 inches of snow?  SUCKS!)

To Anthony and Jaimmie, and your friends (I apologize, I'm gonna miss at least 5) Paul, Michael, Brandon, Ana -- don't be strangers guys.  We love having you around.  And yes, the pool is open for business pretty much every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial to Labor Day.  Well, unless Russ and I are trying to install a pool liner.  Then it might be more like mid July (rimshot!)

To Ray, Julie and Tim, and the rest of the Springfield crew: you guys joining us most weeks this year for tailgating, has been beyond awesome.  And yes, this is a flat out "seriously, fish fries rock!  Let's do this every week!" attempt to, uuh, make that happen as often as possible.  It's the Milwaukeean in me.  (Seriously, folks -- if you've never been to Milwaukee during Lent, to experience the fish fry every Friday at Lakefront Brewery or Rock Bottom Brewery?  You have not experienced life to its fullest.)  Have a great offseason, and know that come August, I'll head down and save as many spots as you need.

To Chris, and by extension Dr. Frank and Nancy ... you all have courage, grace, dignity, and resolve that I wish I had.  I have such admiration for you.  I can honestly say, there are very, very few people in life, I respect and love.  The love part, is easy for me.  (Hence the still "unsure what to say" final two shout-outs to come.)  But respect?  You have to earn it with me.  I can promise you two things girl -- you'll always have my respect, and you'll always have a hug waiting for you, when you arrive at the game, be it at tailgating, or the game itself.

And to Will and Robin -- a blast sitting by you guys this year.  Don't be strangers!

And, finally, to the "first generation" that's moved on for whatever reason(s): to Joe and Robert, to Beth, to Bill and Vessie, to Debbie, to Davey and Tracey, to Jennifer and Tony, to whoever obvious I'm missing: thanks for still being friends guys.  Have a great 2013.  You deserve it.  And to Joe Knows?  Thanks for your concern, caring, and kindness over the last couple months.  Your Facebook emails that morning last month, was exactly what I needed dude.  Thanks man.

* OK, at least four eight biggies to go.  Let's start with current co-workers:

To my boss, thanks for your support this year, and your understand and coping amazingly generously with my personal issues.  And to my immediate co-worker: please, take however long you need to get well.  Because we ain't letting you back in the door, until we know you're you again.

To my immediately prior boss, you got my prayers, always.  Keep fighting.  To Heather and Joe and Dale, I miss sitting by y'all ... but hey!  I'm apparently moving in the next few weeks.  Happy days are here again!  (Ditto getting to raid Kathy's candy bowl.  And thank God for that -- I never realized how expensive it is to maintain the department's candy bowl, until I had to do it, on my current side of the floor.  Who the hell knew a decent bag of Skittles was pushing $6!)  To Bettie, Linda, Kathy, Mary, Ed, and Ron -- love being rowmates with ya, for as long as it lasts.  To John -- so happy you've recovered.  Loved working with ya at TA for the few months we did, and I am so happy to see ya back every day, being you once again.  To Geoff and Shannon -- you two never fail to crack me up.  Next year Shannon, we definitely gotta take in a Chiefs game together, if only so that you can learn what the "watching a game with Stevo experience" is like. (Trust me -- you'll love it!  (cue every friend of mine voice) NO -- RUN!  DO!  NOT!  SIT!  BY!  HIM!  GIRL!!!!)

And of course, DeNeece, who is deserving of her own separate post.

And to my former co-workers still with us -- had a blast tailgating with Lucy and Jeff this year, and you're welcome back anytime.  Ditto Courtney as well.  And congratulations Pat, on the marriage!  I miss our daily "so what's new with you" shoot the sh*t conversations, pretty much every day.  I am so glad you found happiness.

* OK, at least four seven biggies to go.  Let's next move on to a few friends I've inadvertenly skipped to this point ...

To my buddy Neeck, you remind me so much of Dusty, actually in every way ... the most of which, is that it's impossible to hate you.  It's impossible to stay mad at ya.  It's impossible to actually dislike you, no matter how much you try.  There's just something about ya that's so neat, you just can't help but smile, laugh, and enjoy the time spent with you.  And in that, lies the truest quality a friend can give you (other than that whole "have your back no matter what" thing).  My brother punted well beyond his coverage, to have you as one of his best friends ... and I punted it out of the (gosh darn) universe, to count you as one of mine.

To Phill and Jenny, who knew that a dude I went to junior high with, and a girl my sister-in-law tried for a solid month back in 2006 to set me up with, would wind up together?  Obviously not me ... but you two are awesome people, awesome friends, and Kendall is an amazing girl.  You two are always welcome in my life, anywhere, anytime, anyplace.  (Pause.)  So long as nobody brings a bottle of "Rich and Rare" (rimshot!).  

To the other Jenni in my life, my sister from another mother -- so glad you love the new job, so happy you've made a great life for yourself.  Cannot even begin to express how proud I am, of what you've become.

* OK, at least four* six biggiest to go.  Next up, my college roommates.

(*: I love the scratch through feature on Blogger more than any other.  It's neat.  And yes, to answer the obvious -- I've been drinking while typing this up.)

To Vineet and Frank, you guys still rock all these years later.  Only in true Stevo Logic could my "Mount Rushmore of Friends" have five heads on it ... but definitely, at least one of the four heads, is "double jointed" to say the least.

I mean, where else are you gonna meet someone who looks (according to "The Voice of Reason" ... after a 30 pack) like "Tony Gonzalez", and where else are you gonna meet someone who (according to me and Francisco, after a 30 pack and a medicinally legal product) looks like the chimpanzee on the Cocoa Puffs cereal box, other than on a random day your freshman year at TCU?  Exactly.  

There are exactly three things I miss -- and by miss, I mean "I'd consider giving up time off the back end of my life, for one more day of how things used to be" -- exactly three things I miss.  (1) Sunday nights in high school and (summers) in college, when mom would make me and her BLT sandwiches, crack open a bottle of wine, and we'd sit out on the back deck, chowing down, plowing down, and catching up with each other over how our week was, and what the next week had in store.  God, I really miss that.  (2) "The Couch" on Stubbs.  And (3) the Planters Cheez Balls cannister on Hornaday Circle.  (Please -- don't make me explain it, other than "the answer is yes" to the obvious question.)

* We're down to four five biggies to go!  (kazoo voice) !!!!!!!!!!!!!  Next up ... bowling league (save for two people).

To Ammie, you have no idea -- no idea! -- how much our conversation that random Wednesday night in early December, did to heal what was broken between me, and the two special friends I'm closing the thank you list with.  You set the end-game in motion that night, even if you didn't realize it.  I am beyond happy that we've become good friends, even drinkin' buddies every so often.  Don't be a stranger girl, in 2013 and beyond.

To Ashley and Cameron, thank you for allowing me to be a part of your incredible, amazing day this past June.  That was one of the funnest weddings I've ever been to ... and amazingly enough, it's not the first one where I've wound up as the designated driver afterwards.  (Although it is the first where I've been the DD, and been semi-sober as said DD).  You two are amazing, incredible friends.  Enjoy the hell out of where life takes ya this year, and going forward.

To Jason, welcome aboard dude!  Ditto Emily as well.  You two keep being yourselves, and you'll earn a status on this site that only the best of the best earn: a legitimate "hide the evidence!" nickname that I don't just bestow on anyone.  (The obvious answer is "yes", to the obvious question of "Is this guy not all here?!?!")

Just as a heads-up, introductory warning to the two of you: I tend to go off the rails at times, and I tend to overreact to things that 99.99% of the population wouldn't even react to, let alone overreact.  (Hint: there's a reason I pay to see a "mental health specialist" every Tuesday night.  (Pause.)  Oh, got it -- this is why!  Wow, I just cured myself for far less than I've been paying!  Son of a ...)

But in all seriousness, if I ever come across as angry, or pissy, or just not all there, you'll learn, as so many others in my life and in this league have learned -- it's just me, being me.  I am really glad you two are a part of us now, and going forward.

To the friends I've made over the last five years in this amazing league, and I'll try to remember them all here, because this is the portion of the "prepared remarks" I always eff up -- Steve, Suzanne, and Mark.  Wayne.  Dale and Susan, and Sally.  The Shepherd's and Graham.  (When he shows up) Skip.  Kyle, Daryl, Kim, Shelly, Scott, Jeff, Dan ... ok, now I'm just gonna start whiffing, so -- if you're in the UUG League?  I'm glad you are.  And thanks for welcoming me into your community.

* And finally ... to Penny and DeHart.  I know it's a running gag -- I'm the only person in our league nobody wanted on their team, and yet you had to ask me twice to be your teammate.  I'm damned proud to be a part of your team.  I'm beyond ecstatic.  Thanks for going out of your way, after my proposed team fell apart, to still give enough of a damn to ask me a 2nd time.  That's beyond awesome.  I only wish I'd had the common sense to say "yes", the first time.

* Wow, actually only four five* to go!  Next up, immediate family.

(*: I forgot a biggie.  As in, "I wore that crappy mistletoe to a Chiefs game and looked like a freaking tool doing so, I love this girl that much" biggie.)

My biggest shoutout has to go to my favorite aunt, and that would be Gail, on her marriage to Mike this month.  I like that guy.  He's a keeper.  And to my cousin Zach -- you gotta let this Claire girl meet your crazy drunk cousins.  If she survives both Drew and I giving her one helluva interrogation?  She's a keeper.

To my cousin Brooke (and again -- I don't play favorites (yeah right) ... but you are definitely my favorite), congrats on the new job!  To your awesome husband Craig -- thank you for not only making me (I'm guessing) the only Romney supporter you didn't unfriend ... thanks for your hospitality, your friendship, and next fall, when y'all are reunited in DC?  Wizards game!  (Or at least one helluva bar tab ... again.)  Either way, it's all good.

To my cousin Kristin, and your equal half Bryan -- I wish we'd gotten more time last year at your wedding, but sh*t happens.  Namely, the sh*t that happened was "kid who lives in KC hits a beach in November -- leave me alone and let me bake in the sun!"  Was so happy I could be there, considering I missed my cousin Spencer's wedding to Sam due to that whole "wow, I don't have a job, can't afford this" debacle I was in, in 2006.  So glad Spencer's home, safe, and thank you for your service sir.

And to my cousin Jordan -- hang in there man.  I actually know exactly how you feel sir -- I've been there.  It does get better.  Just believe in yourself.  And if you ever need a shoulder to lean on, a voice to talk you through things, again -- I've been in your spot.  And I'm still standing.  My number's on Facebook.  Call me if you ever need to talk, for any reason.  I've got your back man.  Always.  We're family.

And I've now hit page 22 in Word ... so let's start speeding this up, because the last shout out, probably has at least a solid page in it.  So to the rest of my family -- my uncle Bruce, aunt Marsha, my awesome Uncle Bill and Aunt Sandy (so, so thankful for your health!), my cousin Brad, his wife Heather, and your awesome kids, my cousin Brent, wife Gail, and your awesome kid Guy (seriously -- how awesome is it to have a legit hockey named kid in your family!), my cousin Brian, all the Chicago folks -- Skip and Sandy, Nancy and Fred, great aunt Julie, and our favorite non-uncle anymore, Geno -- I hope 2012 was awesome for you. 

And I hope 2013 is the greatest year of your lives.

* And then, there were four.

(Seriously, no scratches this time.  We're getting close.)

* To Doc (and Shannon): you've always been my favorite friend of Dusty's.  I like Mark and Sarah, I like Mickey and Amy, I like Jennifer and Jeremy, I like Bleese and Jimmy and Brandon and Amy and Nick and Lauren, and God knows how many I've missed.

But you sir?  Have always been my favorite.  Had a blast at the Chargers game with you.  Thanks for the shoulder to lean on that day, as I attempted to figure out why ... well, it happened.  (Time to let it go, Stevo.)

I'm renewing both tickets in 2013 for the Chiefs.  I'm just not sure if it'll be where I was this year, or back in 132.  Either way?  That second seat is yours anytime you want it.

* To "The Ex" ... wow, we had our issues this year, too.  I seriously need to learn how to keep my opinions about people to myself sometimes ... especially when I was proven wr ... wr ... wr ... possibly incorrect, about your significant other.

Having said that ... I love that we still get a day or two a month to just be "us".  You'll always be my "bff".  Nothing can ever change that in my eyes or my mind.  I will always -- always! -- love the hell out of you.  You truly are the sister I will never have.  (Well, unless miracles truly happen.  (cue my parents voice) No!  No!  We're retired!  No!  Mas! Kids!)

And to your significant other -- I'm glad I was wrong about you.  And note that I didn't drop the wr ... wr ... comment there.  I'm glad I was wrong about you.  And that's just about the highest compliment I can give someone, because (as "The Ex" can confirm), I'm normally a 100% rock solid judge of people, and their character.  I've never been more wrong about someone, that I was about you.

* To "The Crush", what can I say.  You'll always be my ultimate "what if".  (I'd never go for it -- I refuse to hurt DJ like that.  Guy code.  You never, ever, ever actually go for the best friend's ex.  See that whole "Joey Locks Chandler In the Box" episode of "Friends" debacle.)

Having said that ... I love the hell outta ya girl.  Hell, I love ya enough that I've pulled off the sh*ttiest mistletoe hanging known to man two years and counting, and gotten what I wanted.  (Although give me an ounce of credit -- at least this year, it wasn't a napkin with the word "mistletoe" written on it.  Improvement!)

I hope you'll always be as good a friend to me, as you were on Stubbs.  And you'll always -- always! -- be the first pool volleyball draft pick come mid-May, when we (pathetically) actually have a draft to determine who goes on which side of the pool, on a random Sunday in July.

* And then, there was one.

OK, fine -- two.

Yet another "double face" on my "Mount Rushmore" of friends.

To my "Champ" and my "Chica".  To "The Kid" and my "Boasheao".  2012 has not been our finest hour.  Hell -- it hasn't been our finest decade.

I have debated for a solid week how to type the shout out to the two of you ... and I think I'll end with this.  

I (attempted to) express through song, to each of you, how I truly feel about you, in the Christmas gift package I gave you.  Except, while I thought it was neat how I linked each of you to one of my two favorite Beatles songs ... neither song ("In My Life" for Kellie; "Across the Universe" for Dusty) truly represented how I truly feel.

Because I'm going to close this post, by truly expressing how I feel, as of this moment.  Try not to cry, because I'm struggling not to.  You two ... (godd*mmit, now I AM crying ...) you two?

I unfortunately had to watch your most blessed day via video, since (stunner!) I didn't have $1200 to accept Dusty's request to be his best man.  (Although at least Zeuser broke in the couch apparently, that week you all were gone.  (dusty voice) that thing was already broken in, Stevo!)

Kellie?  You're the single most amazing girl I've ever had the privilege of calling my "friend".  If someone asked me right now, "what's the single thing that stands out to you the most about Kellie?"  It would be this: that I'm not good enough to be in the same zip code as you ... and yet, this incredible girl, not only chooses to ignore my flaws, not only chooses to ignore my failures ... she goes out of her way to always make sure I'm introduced to someone I'm meeting for the first time as "my friend, Stevo".  You are so amazing, so incredibly, uuh, incredible ... that I literally cannot describe how I feel about you.

And Dusty?  Champ?  Kid?  

I close with my message to you, in song.  And I apologize -- the lyrics I'm feeling?  Are amongst the 5 worst cheeziest / "how the eff did this hit number one on the charts?!?!?!" songs ever recorded.  But the last half of the chorus?  Somehow, the English language did find the words to describe how I feel for you two.

Champ?  Chica?  We're all good in my eyes.  Past, present, future.  Because -- hang on, those song lyrics are about to take over ...

"Every memory repeats.
Every step I take?  Retreats.
Every journey always brings me
Back to you ..

After all the stops and starts?
We keep coming back to these (three) hearts --
(Three) angels rescued from the fall!

(and ... the money shot:)

And after all we've been through?
It all comes down to me and you.
I guess it's meant to be --
Forever.  You and me.
After all."

Merry Chrismukkah 2012 guys and gals.  Please -- let the lessons of the tragic events of December 1st, be your guide going forward.  

Shake hands with those you despite.  

Tolerate those you dislike.  

And hug the hell out of those you love.  Never fail to take the time, to let those you love, know exactly how you feel about them.

Because at the end of the day?

"After all that we've been through?
It all comes down to me and you.
I guess it's meant to be --
Forever.  You and me.
After all ..."

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