2010: The best and worst of Rapid Eye Reality

Looking back at 2010, I’m surprised I survived. In the span of 12 months, I found myself under a tsunami warning; I was lightly assaulted by Nelly and who I still suspect to be Snoop Dogg’s father; and I offended Montel Williams. I waded through a throng of angry South American protestors. I sat in the same poker chair as suspected killer Joran van der Sloot (it was still warm). I spent 106 days on the road. I said goodbye to my dog. I saw my dignity harness fly off more times than I could count. All in all, it was a pretty tame year.

It was also one of the better years in recent memory. I worked more than I have in my life. I took the best vacation ever with my wife for our ten-year anniversary. I went on my best-ever family vacation. I ran the my first (and second) 5k races. After not being able to jog a mile without stopping in August, I racked up more than a 100 miles of running. I played 44 rounds of disc golf. I only played 63 total hours of online poker. I played 284.5 hours of live poker for a profit so modest it’s almost funny. I saw some great live music with great friends, read a lot of good books, and marked nine years of writing on this little blog.

The past 12 months have been eye-opening in a lot of ways I have a hard time defining. I’ve been up and down more times than I can count. It’s been a ride and a half, and with only 12 hours left in the year, I’m still not sure what it all means. I only know that it all makes me who I am, for better or worse.

As I look ahead to 2011, I can’t help but recognize some pretty significant goals I’m setting for myself. I have no idea if they are attainable. For the sake of brevity, I’ll not bother to list them here. If I had to boil it all down, I want only one thing: to be better than I am.

If you’re having a slow start to the new year, I’ve included below some of my favorite Rapid Eye Reality posts from 2010. It’s some of the better writing I’ve done this year and a fairly good measure of my manic head. If you’re really bored, I also included some of my favorite personal photographs; all the books I read; all the movies and documentaries I watched, and my favorite meals throughout the year.

Finally, a word of thanks to those of you–old and new–who continue to come back, read, comment, and email. I give up on this space in the ether about once a month. Your encouragement, guidance, and friendship keep me writing. Thanks for making it happen.

Happy New Year, friends. May you be as lucky as I am.


The road

  • Cocaine Cabbies–An examination of the world’s fixers and their broken fares
  • How Otis got his T-Pain back–A moment of navel-gazing in the reflection of a rapper’s bloodshot eyes
  • Memorial Day 2010–On a plane with a soldier
  • Dogs at large–A defining dinner in Argentina with a career criminal
  • And so…LA–A late-night confession from la-la land
  • Running man–The fastest I’ve ever run for a plane, and why
  • Husband, Father, Suburban Warrior

  • St. Francis Hospital: The real cost of having a baby–My 4,000-word love letter to the medical billing industry (also the most widely read and shared piece of the year)
  • The Brett Favre of Parenting–What could’ve been my biggest disaster of the year
  • Sinner and a sinner’s son–Testing that theory about the sins of the father…
  • The Irrational Machine–What I consider to be the best-ever metaphor for parenting an infant
  • To catch a fish–What was probably the happiest day of my year
  • World Cup tears–When a football family becomes a “football” family
  • Goodbye to my dog–An obituary for my beloved mutt
  • Grown-ups can have hamsters–How my kid’s want of a new dog turned into a discussion of war
  • Four fathers –As my friend Ryan put it, I got on a plane and found America
  • Walking Gray –A short story for the people who dig having the creeps
  • Pompous, self-righteous commentary

  • On pretense and population–How Steve Jobs is controlling the world population (and ruining a lot of college guys’ lives)
  • Thank you Mr. Bin Laden. That will be $5–The real cost of terrorism in the American south
  • Belief–Acknowledging my flailing escape from the mainstream vis a vis the age of humanity
  • Life before Angry Birds–An addict’s admission
  • I knew I should be afraidBurn this, sinners–A giant, foam middle finger to someone who really deserved it
  • Remember today…–The important things to remember on 9/11
  • Navel-gazing to the nth degree

  • Reject–My life as a reject, from second grade to age 36
  • Fight–My first fistfight and its sad prologue
  • Charles Wakefield, finally free–My worst mistake as a journalist and its resolution
  • Sunrise–In the face of death, so many reasons to live
  • ****

    30 snaps from 2010


    23 books I read in 2010 (in order!)

    Under the Dome
    Inherent Vice
    Eating the Dinosaur
    Killing Yourself to Live
    Then We Came to the End
    The Road
    Game Change
    Invisible Man
    Same Kind of Different as Me
    Double Whammy
    The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
    Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and People Who Cook
    Lost Vegas
    Cat’s Cradle
    A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again
    The Chosen
    The War of Art
    The Corrections
    Tokyo Vice
    The Financial Lives of the Poets
    Everything Matters!

    41 documentaries I watched in 2010

    Vernon, Florida
    Food, Inc.
    Waco: The Rules of Engagement
    The Kid Stays in the Picture
    A Certain Kind of Death
    Loose Change: An American Coup
    Our Brand is Crisis
    The Union
    Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
    Touching the Void
    Kurt and Courtney
    Dear Zachary
    Street Fight
    Grateful Dawg
    Love the Beast
    June 17, 1994
    Queen: Making of a Night at the Opera
    Aileen: Life and Death of a Serial Killer
    When You’re Strange
    Pressure Cooker
    We Live in Public
    Buy the Ticket, Take the Ride
    Anytown, USA
    Black Money
    Jesus Camp
    The Most Dangerous Man in America
    The Fog of War
    Lost in La Mancha
    Deep Water
    From Dust to Glory
    Tales From the Script
    Art & Copy
    I Am Trying to Break Your Heart
    Rolling Stones: Stones in Exile
    And So Goes The Nation
    The US vs. John Lennon
    The Kennedy Detail
    Exit Through the Gift Shop
    Heartworn Highways

    37 movies I watched or re-watched in 2010

    The Hangover
    13 Days
    The Ant Bully
    Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang
    California Split
    The Spanish Prisoner
    Zach Galifianakis: Live at the Purple Onion 
    Lewis CK: Chewed Up
    Willy Wonka & Chocolate Factory
    The Informant!
    Men Who Stare at Goats
    District 9
    The Hurt Locker
    The Invention of Lying
    The Heist
    Sherlock Holmes
    Edge of Darkness
    Crazy Heart
    The Mist
    Up in the Air
    The Brothers Broom
    Step Brothers
    In the Loop
    The Candidate
    A Serious Man
    Waiting for Guffman
    The Postman Always Rings Twice
    Little Children

    12 best meals of 2010

    Seafood Haven (Nassau)
    Super Bowl gumbo (Homemade)
    Rick Erwin’s (Mastodon Weekend meal, Greenville, SC)
    Frank Pepe’s pizza (Mohegan Sun, CT)
    Blackened mahi (Homemade)
    Zozo’s (St. John, USVI)
    Bonita Michoacan (Las Vegas)
    Grayton Beach shrimp boil (Homemade, FL)
    Slow-cooked pork; aligator/shrimp pie (Rosario, Argentina)
    Halloween Corn Chowder (Homemade)
    Thomas Keller roasted chicken with root vegetables (Homemade)
    Nantucket (Greenville, SC)

    And still the reason I get out of bed every morning

    Brad Willis

    Brad Willis is a writer based in Greenville, South Carolina. Willis spent a decade as an award-winning broadcast journalist. He has worked as a freelance writer, columnist, and professional blogger since 2005. He has also served as a commentator and guest on a wide variety of television, radio, and internet shows.

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    7 Responses

    1. Susan says:

      Happy New Year Willis clan. Hope your 2011 is great! Miss you!

    2. It was a roller coaster for sure. Happy 2011 – it’s going to be a great year.

    3. Bam-Bam says:

      So what you’re saying is, if I merely aspire to be as good as you, I’m now shooting too low?

      Gonna’ be a tough year!

      FWIW, I have NO doubt you’ll over achieve again this year.

    4. Drizztdj says:

      Keep achieving sir. Best of luck in 2011.

    5. G-Rob says:

      January Minutae :

      Blog Posts : 0

    1. February 1, 2011

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