Monday, December 28, 2009

A Year In St Louis... (Plus My Top Five Moments)

So, I guess I can't call myself "the new guy" anymore, can I? This Saturday it'll have been a year since I packed up the rental truck and made the long trek down to St Louis from Chicago on January 2nd. In anticipation of the move, I started on December 18th 2008 with this post, so I suppose the One year anniversary of the blog has already past. It's so funny looking back at that post because it reminds me of just how much of a crazy thing it was to move here on such short notice. This resonates - "I'm doing this alone and I have no idea what I'm doing." That sentence is dead on. But then again, I'm not sure I ever really know what I'm doing. Hell, the same could be said about this blog (the story of which can be found in this post about the newspaper article from back in July). The good news is that, even after a year I find something I love about St Louis everyday.
Keep in mind I could never say that about anywhere I've ever lived. From the way Soulard looks in the morning (I think it's at it's most historic around 7:36 A.M.), to the my recent fascination with the old streetcar system, there are so many forgotten layers to this city that I don't think I'll ever get bored seeking them all out. Of course, St Louis wouldn't be worth anything without the people. Congratulations on being super nice, STL! That said, my top five St Louis moments/places/things this year...
5 _ Going to ridiculous amounts of Cardinals games
I could probably pick a top five moments that just involve being at a baseball game, but I'm particularly fond of the game that, I think, went 15 innings. By the time it got to the 11th inning I was able to get right up behind the Cards dugout and watch the game from there. Pujols won it at 1 A.M. on a double to center. Good times.
4 _ Training for the Marathon in Forest Park
You have no idea how many hours I spent running that 5.6 mile circle. I know it like the back of my hand - which incidentally I'm not sure I could pick out of a lineup of hand backs. For blogging purposes let's just go with it as a figure of speech. Anyway, there is nothing that equals this park in terms of sheer and audacious usefulness. To give you an idea how much other cities should wish they had a park like this, let's do a little comparison skit I'll just type off the top of my head. Okay, so pretend you're crazy thirsty. Because this is just fiction let's really go for it and say you've been looting sporting goods stores all day and you're parched. Now, you have this tree in your backyard, but all it does is grow stupid leaves. Well, it just so happens your neighbor has a tree too, but all it does is grow delicious water. You'd want that water right? Of course you would. And, somehow, I've lost my point here... Anyway, it's awesome. Yeah, that's what Forest Park is like.
3 _ Mardi Gras St Louis
As fully reported in this early Arch Observer post, this was likely the most fun I've had all year and that's saying something. I doubt this year will be able to live up to last, but I'm certainly willing to give it a try.
2 _ The Mississippi River
Sure, she's a nasty beast. Floods, murder, general grossness and a dark shade of mud aside, she's still what made St. Louis what it is today. I've been lucky enough to drive along side of her and the Arch on the way to work for the past month, and although there's that big shiny symbol of St Louis on my left, I'm mostly drawn to looking out over the water on my right. The strange thing is that I don't know why I'm so drawn to it in the first place. I suppose it's the raw and natural power of it. The fact that it's such a symbol of America and an important natural resource might have something do with it, but I have a feeling it has a lot to do with it being a natural boundary. Almost like it's protecting us... And I don't mean from East St Louis.
1 _ Supporting Downtown
I think what I love most about St Louis is the opportunity. We have this downtown full of historic and interesting buildings (many of which stand empty) that have so much potential. I've loved being a part of and supporting the new life that's popping up all over town. There's such opportunity for this city to reinvent itself and I want in. I was just speaking with someone who is also not originally from St Louis about living here and they mentioned that this is a city where you can make what you want of yourself. There aren't very many obstacles. That's true on many levels and the same could be said of downtown. This infrastructure is a clay that can be molded into a true 21st century city. We have all the pieces - all we need is some people who want get dirty. (You'll see some of them in the blogroll - check them out.)

Yeah, I know, this post got a little deep. It's hard to not be reflective at the New Year, though. I feel compelled to thank all of St Louis for such a great year. I've never felt more welcomed into a community. I'd also like to thank you, the readers, for sending me recommendations and the nice emails. And also, perhaps most of all, for sticking with me through the slow blogging times. I know that's annoying, but the good news is the beard thing is working! It's been 9 days since I blogged and my face looks like it's being attacked by ants.
Have a safe New Year, everyone. Mardi Gras is right around the corner!


Smarty McFly said...

I am happy that you came to St. Louis. I totally feel the same way. When I am driving around, I think about how in love with this city I am. There is so much possibility. It makes me feel really optimistic.

Jenn said...

Great post, Jim. Even though I've called St. Louis home for 29 years, I've discovered a new appreciation for it in 2009.

Happy New Year to you...and I look forwrd to more fun times in 2010.

Unknown said...

after visiting three times in the '09, i can say that i love st. louis as well. truly a great city.

that said (i hate saying that said, don't know why i use it so much) you have never lived in chicago. i think it is pretty similar to st. louis in many aspects and an equally great, if not more corrupt, city.

nice work with the weblog.

Anonymous said...

Love this blog and ST Louis, keep up the good work.
P.S. I was the one that said hi in Walgreens.

Bridget said...

Isn't your face getting itchy?

Jim Barnthouse said...

My beard is definitely itchy. A post if forthcoming. :)

Mo said...

Great post! To more great discoveries in 2010! Happy New Year.

bob said...

Tip for Mardi Gras: take a big camera with an obnoxiously huge lens. It makes drunk people flash with more enthusiasm.