A Year of Snapshots: 2014

You’ve heard it a million times and you’re going to hear it again: it’s been a busy year. If you’ve been with us since the start of this silly little blog at the end of January, then you kind of knew that already…but if not, well, this is your chance to catch up.

I was inspired by a few of my Facebook friends who compiled little albums of their year and captioned the pictures with the ‘memories’, so here’s what my 2014 looked like in little snapshots from each month.



The greatest gift of all - record player from my grandparents
The greatest gift of all – record player from my grandparents

Since I go to Columbia, I have an unusually long winter break (team J-term,) but since I work in my department, I came back early to get some extra hours. Nobody is really around campus during that break, since that was around the polar vortex time, so I was living alone. Pretty much by myself whenever I wasn’t at work. But, since my grandparents are A+ grandparents, they shipped my gift to me around that time. I got a record player for Christmas last year, and I spent an unusual amount of time listening to records, buying records, and obsessing over records this year. Particularly in January, since I had so much time on my hands.

I also spent a lot of time working in January, since I didn’t have classes going on. Below is a picture of my boss, one of my coworkers, and myself taking some time off at the popcorn shop.

Co-workers of Chicago Kernel
Co-workers of Chicago Kernel


First of many mid-run selfies
First of many mid-run selfies

Not much was happening around here in February. Classes started back up, I started this particular blog and it turned more into what it is now…but February is the month that I actually started running. 2014 has definitely been a year of running. It became a big part of who I am in a short amount of time, and kind of makes it so that nothing else really stand out from February. Whoops.


Finishing photo!
Finishing photo!

Like I said, running was a big part of this year, and this is one of the big reasons why. Mid-March, I completed my first half marathon (13.1 miles) in Chicago. Two of my roommates and some of my friends met me at the finish line, followed by going out for pancakes. It was a spectacular day, and got me hooked on running to race.

Wild Child at Lincoln Hall in Chicago
Wild Child at Lincoln Hall in Chicago

All through March, I lived one of the reasons I moved to Chicago. I got to go to a lot of concerts, and it was absolutely wonderful seeing a different show every week for almost a month and a half. To name a few; Flogging Molly, Ingrid Michaelson, Imagine Dragons, and Wild Child. My favorite? Wild Child. They played at Lincoln Hall close to the end of March, and it was one of the best shows I’ve ever been in the crowd for. The whole band came to the middle of the audience and sang “Pillow Talk” with us. Unmic-ed. It was pretty humbling, and cool, and I still can’t stop playing their music over and over to this day.

'Oscar-esque' selfie with some of the Great Northern crew in Virginia, MN
‘Oscar-esque’ selfie with some of the Great Northern crew in Virginia, MN. L-R; Heidi, Christina, Aaron, Erika, Tucker, and Matt

A big part of my life is the Great Northern Radio Show. I’m lucky enough to be the Associate Producer over there, and we travel all over Minnesota. In March, we went to Virginia, MN for our spring show, and it was the first time I met one of the other writers of the show, Matt Nelson from Hibbing, now DC. Virginia was a blast. We laughed a lot, I learned a lot, we had to cut some things from the show, but it was a wonderful trip home for a couple days, and a killer start to spring break. We even took an oscar-esque selfie (above.)


First of the morning run appreciation pictures
First of the morning run appreciation pictures

My schedule started to get more hectic as the days started to get longer, and I ran out of time every day to run. So I made time in the morning, and started to get up earlier to run with the sunrise. I love watching the golden light turn to real light, and the way the buildings look in it is amazing, especially in Chicago. Of course I took a picture to brag to my Minnesotan friends who were still dealing with 75 feet of snow and dreary skies.

Record Store Day 2014 with Sam; Laurie's Planet of Sound
Record Store Day 2014 with Sam; Laurie’s Planet of Sound

Remember that record obsession I had in January? Well, it never went away. In fact, it was fed even more with Record Store Day in April, when my roommate and I traveled for about 40 minutes north to hit a new record store on the day of vinyl sales and exclusives. We waited in line forever, but it turned out to be a success. And by success, I mean we both spent well over $60 on records.

The tail end of April brought elections for Student Government, and thanks to JG, I decided to run spur of the moment. Another one of my close friends, Rachelle, designed posters to hang up around the department in an effort to get votes, and it worked. I’ve been the Radio Department Senator for a semester, and I’ve been having a blast working with a group of driven individuals who value making a change and helping fellow students as much as I do. Definitely looking forward to another semester with the lovely SGA.

Campaign Flyer
Campaign Flyer


May brought the end of the spring semester and the end of my first year at Columbia. One of the classes I took, Production II, had us produce a ten minutes “rockumentary” (a ten minute audio doc about a band or musician,) and I did mine on Matt Nathanson. Even though I would do so many things different now, I’m still pretty proud of how it turned out. Check it out here.

The Multitrack session of my "rockumentary"
Multitrack session of the “rockumentary”

Selfie with the roommates at our last Argo Trip of freshman year
(L-R) Erika, Sam & Jessie [roommates] saying good-bye at Argo Tea
The end of the semester also brought some farewells – namely, the ending of a year with two of the best roommates I could have ever asked for, Sam and Jessie. Our first year together went well enough that we decided to give it a round two for our sophomore year, and we’re still living together (and not tearing each other’s hair out…yet) to this day.

First day on the job
First day on the job

A big part of my summer was my internship with Northern Community Radio, and it started in May. I hosted a lot of music shows, learned how to host All Things Considered from our station, produced a lot of promos and other little bits, researched grants, sat in on many Great Northern meetings, and so many other things. It was so much fun to work in the place I grew up in, and even more rewarding to continue learning from the group that taught me so much. I fell in love with public radio all over again, and was able to keep chugging on my hopeful career path. And it allowed me to do so many different things over the course of the three months off from school.

Heidi's hand, Kari, and myself in Bemidji, MN enjoying dinner
Heidi’s hand, Kari, and myself in Bemidji, MN enjoying dinner


In June, the Great Northern Radio Show wrapped up the third season in Ely, MN, my favorite little town in the true northern Minnesota – gateway to the Boundary Waters. We had a killer program with outstanding skits, Aaron had my favorite monologue, some delicious food, and some fun music to boot. A great start to an already action-packed summer.

Acting in Ely, MN for the Great Northern Radio Show
Acting in Ely, MN for the Great Northern Radio Show
Finishing selfie at Grandma's Half Marathon in Duluth, MN
Finishing selfie at Grandma’s Half Marathon in Duluth, MN

The weekend after the Great Northern Radio Show, I drove over to Duluth, MN to cover the press conference and award ceremony the day before Grandma’s Marathon & the Gary Bjorklund Half Marathon. It was incredible to listen to the training plans and ideas of these elite athletes, and it was the perfect way to segway back to the running/racing state of mind for my second half marathon with my mom and dad. The closest thing to a family affair we got to, it was cold and raining during the entire race. A beautiful day for running 13.1.

VidCon Friends (L-R) Coley, Brett, Hannah, Melissa, and Adhara
VidCon Friends (L-R) Erika, Coley, Brett, Hannah, Melissa, and Adhara

The month closed with a trip to California with one of my best friends Coley, who I met marching Spirit of Atlanta in 2013. We went to VidCon, a conference that celebrates online video (namely, YouTube,) and had a blast making new friends, standing in line, and paying way too much for food. The summer was already hectic, and going to California offered a much-needed break at the time. Coley got me hooked on Starbucks and I got absolutely torched at the beach.

I also had the pleasure of finally meeting one of my best friends, Sarah. We met online through mutual friends in 2009, and when she found out I’d be in Anaheim for VidCon, we immediately decided we’d be spending a day together. We shopped at Downtown Disney for a few hours, explored an amusement park, and tried to eat dinner at a couple different places…then finally settled on a very strange pizza place in a random mall. But hey, at least it made for a sub-par story?

Almost-in-Disney picture with Sarah
Almost-in-Disney picture with Sarah


Forest Jam for the Grand Rapids State Bank's Centennial Celebration in Grand Rapids, MN
Forest Jam stage at the Forest History Center in Grand Rapids, MN

Don’t worry, I did a lot more work in July. The first weekend brought the Forest Jam, a music festival put on to celebrate the Grand Rapids State Bank’s centennial. They hired me to be the stage manager, which basically meant I got to hang out with musicians all day and get paid for it. A similar experience to this was the Mississippi River Festival put on by Northern Community Radio, and that was an absolute blast, too… but I didn’t take any pictures that day.

Another working thing, I presented at the Itasca Area Social Media Breakfast for July, and I shared all of the things that I had learned both at VidCon and from my ‘expansive’ knowledge of social media that I’ve picked up in my ‘experience.’ Even though it was pretty much volunteer-based, I was reminded how to put together a presentation and compiling information. Plus they made a poster about me, so that was pretty cool.

Social Media Breakfast promotional flyer for July 2014
Social Media Breakfast promotional flyer
Finishing Selfies are Better with Friends! Nikki and I after the 2014 Timberman Triathlon
Finishing Selfies are Better with Friends! Nikki and Erika after the Timberman Triathlon

I still got to be active during this busy working month – I did my first Triathlon, and had the time of my life. Even though I didn’t train for very long (only about a week – oops,) I still got a pretty good time and look forward to doing another tri sometime in the future. The Timberman is an awesome race with crazy nice people, and if you’re in the area or looking for a destination race, I highly recommend it.

'On Wednesdays We Wear Pink' - Band Camp with my students in Deer River, MN
‘On Wednesdays We Wear Pink’ – Band Camp with my students in Deer River, MN

Another highlight of the summer was teaching color guard at my alma mater, and the end of July brought band camp with my lovely ladies and Fletcher. Teaching these kids brought an indescribable joy to my life that I will likely cherish and appreciate forever, and they ended up teaching me a lot about this sport of the arts I can never get enough of.

I was also blessed with the opportunity to march, and even though I was technically filling a hole for Minnesota Brass, Minnesota Brass kind of filled a hole for me. I hold on to the month and a half-ish that I spent with Brass so fondly, and the entire organization grew to mean a lot to me in a short amount of time, again, forever thankful. For All We Know.

Rehearsal weekend with Minnesota Brass, somewhere in southern Minnesota
Rehearsal weekend with Minnesota Brass, somewhere in southern Minnesota (Please ignore my terrible technique)


The last action-packed month brought a lot, and that included more teaching of band… like my kids’ first performances, such as the Tall Timber Days parade.

A selfie with the kids - Tall Timber Days 2014
A selfie with the kids – Tall Timber Days Parade
Jessie, Sam, and Erika in the middle of Lake Michigan
Jessie, Sam, and Erika in the middle of Lake Michigan

It also brought a lot more travel. One of those trips was a bus ride back to Chicago to reunite for a weekend with my roommates, which started with a boat ride to Michigan. We spent a few days hanging around, eating sushi, and laughing at the stupid jokes we make. A train ride back to the city, spent some time with my radio department friends, and boarded the megabus back to Minnesota. Three of my best friends from high school and I decided to venture in to the Boundary Water Canoe Area Wilderness, where we left behind paved roads, running shoes, and cell service. It was beautiful, and completely refreshing. We buzzed home, and I booked it back down to the cities for a weekend with Minnesota Brass. A whirlwind of a week, but it was completely perfect.

Nikki, Reid, Trevor, and Erika headed into the wilderness
Nikki, Reid, Trevor, and Erika headed into the wilderness
Minnesota Brass 2014 Color Guard at DCA Finals in Rochester, NY
Minnesota Brass 2014 Color Guard at DCA Finals in Rochester, NY

The craziness continued with working at the station, teaching color guard, and driving back and forth from the cities every weekend, but the summer wrapped up in the best way possible – a road trip via bus to Rochester, NY for DCA Finals with Minnesota Brass. I was reminded yet again how much I love this activity, and not just because we won second place/got to perform a wonderful show, but because it offered me the opportunity to see some of my friends from Spirit that I hadn’t seen since New Years Eve (or some I hadn’t seen in over a year.) I made new friends at Brass and got back in the band spirit completely, right before moving back to the city.


Back to school, back to morning runs. September brought perfect running conditions and gorgeous sunrises along the lakefront – still holding out for spring. I have so many pictures similar to this one, but you can’t deny that this city is gorgeous. Even though it’s in a different way than some other experiences.

Lakefront Trail Run Morning
Morning Lakefront Trail Run
"Selfie with the students" at Eastview
“Selfie with the students” at Eastview High School in Minnesota

The band spirit didn’t go away for long, since my color guard had two competitions the first weekend after I moved back to Chicago. I was flown in to offer moral support and warm them up before the shows, and it was exactly the release and segway I needed to make it through the first month of my sophomore year of college.

September also held my last race for the year – Brewer’s Mini Marathon – in Milwaukee, WI. It wasn’t a great race for me, but it was made better by the fact that three of my friends decide to come up to Wisconsin with me for the weekend, and even though we had some not-so-good times, I won’t forget laughing hysterically at absolutely nothing in the hotel room for a long time.

"A tired/asthmatic finishing selfie"
“A tired/asthmatic finishing selfie” – Brewer’s Mini Marathon in Milwaukee, WI


Myself & Sam the roommate heading off to a halloween pumpkin party
Myself & Sam the roommate heading off to a halloween pumpkin carving party

October was crazy busy with school and wrapping up the marching band season for my kids from afar (and another quick trip to Wisconsin), but I still managed to have some fun. Above and below are two instances – the first being the weekend before Halloween with my roommate, about to walk up a few flights of stairs to carve pumpkins, and the latter one of the first out-of-class gatherings of the “vikes”. You’ll find out about that in a second.

Austin, Melaina, and myself at a gathering of 'the vikes'
Austin, Melaina, and Erika at a gathering of ‘the vikes’
My best friend, Pascal
My best friend, Pascal

The hardest part of the year came in October. Pascal was a part of our family since I was in second grade, when I got him for a Christmas present. Besides all of the vet bills, he was one of the best dogs in the world without a doubt, but one fateful Thursday night, my parents called while I was at work. He was diagnosed with Leukemia and given a prognosis of a few days to stay alive with minimal pain. I went home that weekend to say my good-byes and I-Love-Yous to my puppy of almost thirteen wonderful years, and it’s been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. Pascal was put down the following Tuesday, again, while I was working. I wrote a pretty lengthy post on this when it happened, so if you want to check that out, you can so here.


The vikes after landing in Iceland!
The vikes after landing in Iceland!

Definitely one of the biggest highlights of the year, I went to Reykjavík, Iceland this year with my Covering International Festivals: Iceland class early in November this year, and I had the opportunity to have a media pass to Iceland Airwaves. It came with a lot of work – we did an hour long audio documentary on Icelandic culture (I was one of the two Executive Producers on it,) and we were responsible for blogging about the day/reviewing three bands every night of the festival by our midnight deadline (just the tip of the iceberg, we did a lot more stuff than this, really.) It all came with endless research, too many emails sent at 4am, learning how to type single-space papers with accents scattered throughout, mispronunciations of way too many names, and an insane amount of stress. But, it was totally worth it. Iceland is an amazing country that has an incredible music scene and has the views that deem it worth to be dubbed by us as “Planet Iceland”. I’ve found some of my favorite bands, made some crazy memories with the best class I’ve ever had (or will ever have) the pleasure of being a part of in my life. Thank you, vikes, for helping me get through this semester. It’s been a sh*t show.

The group (sans Austin). Photo Credit: Austin Montgomery
The group (sans Austin). Photo Credit: Austin Montgomery


Spending the first half of the month with my radio department friends, the annual Christmas party was probably one of the most significant moments of this month. I don’t want to say much else in fear of jinxing it, but here’s some pictures of the Christmas event of the season, Shane’s Classy Christmas (Pt. 2):

(L-R) Erika, Keara, and Rachelle
(L-R) Erika, Keara, and Rachelle
Jesse, Erika, and Taylor. The Fall 2014 "True Friday Crew"
Jesse, Erika, and Taylor. The Fall 2014 “True Friday Crew”

End of the semester, wrapping up the Iceland doc, audition season, training for a winter race, maybe a new job, and still a lot of sudoku. The year is wrapping up in a nice little bow, and I think 2015 is going to start with a lot going on.

So incredibly thankful that this post was so difficult and time-consuming to do, not only because there’s not much going on now, but because it means I had a lot going on this year. Thank you to everyone who made any of these events (and those not included, too,) possible. I’m so so happy at this point in my life, and I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am without you guys. Thanks to the radio department workers/vikes for being my family, my roommates for putting up with my rambling on a daily basis, my family-family for being there for me to dump information on so I can process it correctly, and my corps friends for being there when nobody else understands life. Life is good, and so are you.

Stay with us for 2015.


Author: erikabunk

Raised in Northern Minnesota. BA in Radio/Business & Entrepreneurship. Painfully average marathoner. Spends too much time on Spotify, in search of the best record store in the world, and dreams of returning to Reykjavík.

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