2018 was a year where I reconsidered
a lot almost everything in life, though I didn’t make many radical changes. Things as fundamental to me as my politics, my religion, and my personal future all came under scrutiny in my mind this year. Some were caused by events, while some just came under question for me between my ears. Where I want to live, what I want to do, and who I want to do it with are all things I’m actively contemplating these days.
But I did check walking out onto the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge off of my bucket list.
The impossible happened in 2018- on February 4th, 2018, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the Philadelphia Eagles beat Tom Brady and the New England Patriots 41-33 in Super Bowl LII. I’ll be honest, it took me until about 15 minutes later to realize what I just watched. A few days later I’m in downtown Philadelphia with a bunch of my childhood friends at one of the wildest parades I’ll ever see in my life. After years of close failure, I won’t lie, I never thought I’d see the day.
Yesterday the Eagles snuck into the NFC Playoffs, with a chance to win Super Bowl LIII. We’ll see what 2019 brings.
I started out 2018 celebrating a lot of success from 2017. One of the fun celebrations was the swearing in of Northampton County Executive Lamont McClure and a brand new Democratic County Council majority. After helping Lamont through the campaign and the transition, it was nice to see my home county run by someone I have faith in. The after party at Oak wasn’t bad either.
I have to give Lamont and that Council a lot of credit- a year later, I think they’re doing a good job providing quality county services for those in need, while protecting the interests of our taxpayers. I believe they’ll continue to govern with a progressive, but pragmatic mindset.
I believe that in life, you eventually have to face all of your biggest disappointments again. The 2016 Election was a huge disappointment for me, in what it meant for our world. The 2018 primary was a huge personal disappointment that made me question if I wanted to continue being a part of my Democratic Party. I took a couple months off and contemplated my future. Then I decided to go back to the scene of 2016’s crime, North Carolina. I had offers in several states, but I just saw an obvious choice in front of me, eventually.
I took over the Charlotte region for the North Carolina Democrats in mid-September. I took over a difficult situation, and a team who had not been put in position to succeed. It was not always a pretty campaign, but we swept up all five Mecklenburg County State Legislative races the Democrats targeted for pick-up (4 House and a Senate seat), the mission we were sent there to do. We took over get-out-the-vote operations also in the now controversial NC-9 Congressional race as well- But we’ll never know what really happened in that election.
I went to some really fun college sporting events this year. I went to the NIT Final Four games at Madison Square Garden, seeing Penn State win the title. I saw Notre Dame beat Syracuse in football at Yankee Stadium in November. Finally, I made it to Happy Valley for the first time in a couple years and saw Penn State crush Maryland. The NCAA might be a morally bankrupt organization, but their games are awfully fun.
Way back in the bitter cold early days of 2018, I went to Philadelphia to celebrate another 2017 victory, that of Judge Ellen Ceisler to the Commonwealth Court. Sometimes you pick candidates strategically, and to advance yourself. Sometimes you support candidates because you just want to. I first chose to support her, then work for the Judge because I felt like her politics and values matched mine. I never regretted it a day. Her swearing in and party were held in City Hall, and I was reminded again that Philly has the most beautiful City Hall in America.
I had a stocking for Christmas at the College Hill Tavern. The owners, management, and staff there continue to be some of my favorite people. It’s good to have a go-to place here while I’m home.
One of the weirdest, most amazing things I’ve done this year was attend President George H.W. Bush’s lying in state at the U.S. Capitol. The 41st President served from the time I was five, until I was nine. He was one of the most qualified and intelligent Presidents we’ve had, even if I don’t agree with his politics. He was a hero of mine as a child, when I could respect the office of the Presidency.
There was so much winning in 2017 that there was lots of celebrating in 2018. Lehigh County Executive Phil Armstrong was possibly the most satisfying win I’ve ever managed. He’s just a great guy who wants to do well for the community. Celebrating his swearing in was a very happy day.
For the past two election cycles, I’ve had the privilege of managing State Rep. Eddie Day Pashinski’s re-elections up in Wilkes-Barre. This year we got him through a 15% win against a long-time local radio host. We had a great message, a good team, and a damn likable candidate. I’ve been lucky in that the three state representatives in Pennsylvania I’ve done regular work with- Rep. Pashinski, Rep. Maureen Madden, and Rep. Jeanne McNeill are all A+ people and fighters for the people of Pennsylvania.
My long-time good friend, Ryan Pfenning, married his now wife Aly on May 12th. Ryan has been one of my loyal and best friends, and having the opportunity to celebrate my 35th birthday at his rehearsal dinner, and his wedding the next day, was an unforgettable experience.
Speaking of unforgettable- his wedding was the first time I’ve been in a wedding. Most of my best friends either just had family in their wedding or didn’t have big weddings. I’m not sure about their judgment for putting a hellraiser like me in a wedding, but I’m thankful they did.
Charlotte. Dear Charlotte. What an awesome town. I found so many great spots, like Pure Pizza and Common Market. I met some really great people. The skyline was amazing. The clash of old, “Billy Graham” Charlotte and the young, “New South” City sprouting up was really cool. I also found some great food in the Latino neighborhood out on Central Avenue. The city was a really nice place to spend my Fall.
I put on a suit a few times. That’s actually big news. I hate wearing a suit. I don’t want your attention for what I wear. I don’t want you to feel like you were so important that I got dressed up, either. I did it a bit more though this year. My general rule is that I’ll get dressed up for weddings (had that), funerals (thankfully, none this year), Presidents (Clinton and Obama at least, neither of which I saw this year), and the Chris Dodd Christmas Party (pictured here). I added swearing ins to that list this year.
Dewey Beach- now that’s a fun town. It had not dawned on me that the Delaware beaches really weren’t any further than the South Jersey ones, and that I could watch the Phillies there too. Like in South Jersey, I got a dolphin show, but I was shocked how close to shore it was. It also seemed to be a hangout for many of my DC friends. It was a fun town.
One more swearing in that I can’t ever forget- it was maybe the most frigid cold night I’ve ever seen, but I got to the Union League in Philadelphia to see my friend Maria McLaughlin’s installation on the Superior Court. If you know Maria or her husband Jonathan, you can’t help but like them. I have great confidence knowing the Judge is hearing appeals and rendering justice in our Commonwealth.
It seems like every two years, after the election, I end up hanging around DC, drinking all the coffee and booze I can. This year I got some good friends together each night, including on this night at the Cap Lounge on the Hill.
For the third time in four years, I got to 40 pro baseball games (majors and minors), this year on the dot. It was actually entertaining this year. My Phillies improved by 14 games from 2017, and the Lehigh Valley IronPigs won the IL North Division (AAA) title. Here’s to an even better 2019.
There’s few things I’ve never second guessed in life. I’ve never second guessed working for Senator Dodd’s 2008 Presidential campaign. It was an honor to work for such an accomplished Senator. It’s been a minute since then, but I always enjoy going to his Christmas Party in DC.
Goodbye Chase Utley, goodbye heroes of 2008. While the ridiculous “hustle love” Philadelphia talk radio had for Chase always grinds my gears, I was truly sad to see his career come to an end. Chase Utley’s play and attitude made Philadelphia baseball cool again. With he and Shane Victorino’s retirement, we’re pretty much down to Cole Hamels and J.A. Happ hanging around from the World f###ing Champions.
My grandmother, Ann Wilkins, turned 90 in March. I’ve been blessed with 35 plus years now with her. She can be an adventure to deal with sometimes, but I appreciate her more and more as the years pass on.
It might have only been for a couple nights, but my friend Nana Addo Opoku was in Easton, and convened a group of us at Ashley’s, out on the deck. One of my great regrets was missing Nana’s wedding in Ghana during the height of the 2016 Election. Now that he’s in Brooklyn, I intend to get up there soon to see him.
Philly vs. Everybody. Super Bowl 52 champs. Villanova Men’s Basketball, NCAA Champions. 53 winPhiladelphia 76ers. Ben Simmons, Rookie of the Year. Nick Foles, Super Bowl MVP. Rhys Hoskins and Aaron Nola, certified bad-asses. Oh, and Gritty.
America starts here.
I got to Gaffney. I saw the “big, stupid peach.” Even as they took Frank Underwood off the show for being a real life creep, I got my last “House of Cards” fix.
It was a tumultuous year for our world. From the daily chaos with President Trump, to the midterm election, to the death of iconic political figures, to gravely serious foreign policy issues, to Brexit issues, market instability, and government shutdowns, it was a crazy year for the world.
For me, I turned 35, bought a new car after my old one exploded, won and lost some elections, and went to cities, beaches, and ball games a lot, as usual. My food highlight was getting to J.J.’s Red Hots, a “diners, dives, and drive-ins” (did I get that right?) featured spot, while in Charlotte.
2018 was a very good year. Thank you, but next.