By Alissa Lawton Special to Published Jan 10, 2011 at 9:14 AM

As I get older, New Year's Eve seems to have less and less of a draw. It's a magical holiday filled with expectations and anticipation, whether it's who you're going to kiss at midnight or what the New Year will hold. But the actual event of finding something really crazy, fun, and over- the-top to do usually doesn't live up to the suspense.

This year I went with a group of friends to Turner Hall for a '70s funk party. We'd discussed dressing up in our best disco get-ups but, in the end, opted for more modern party outfits. Getting cabs down there was a breeze. The party, on the other hand, wasn't really what we expected.

The music wasn't the "Get Down, Get Down" we anticipated and, in the background on the humongous big screen, they were playing a bizarre mash up of clips from orgies, burlesque dancers putting on lipstick and, I think, a few car accidents. I began to forget I was at Turner Hall and started to think I was living in A Clockwork Orange.

We left and headed to McGillycuddy's where I came to realize I have grown up a little. The majority of the girls on Water Street were of college age, of course, and most of them made the classic college girl mistake of leaving their coats at home so they wouldn't bog down their skanky outfits with something sensible.

Of course, the minute the bars let out it was impossible to get a cab, and unlike at 10 p.m. when we'd left the house, it was now bitterly cold and windy out. We walked along Water Street begging for cabs to stop for us. I think I was delirious from the cold. I actually found myself clicking my glittery heels together and repeating, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home!" I'm not positive it had anything to do with a little Oz magic but after about the fiftieth time I said it, a cab pulled up and rescued us. Hello 2011! If I had it to do over, I would've made other plans.

The next morning, I was sure my guy pals would come to their senses and decide not to go through with the Polar Plunge, but they were more determined than ever. A few coffee-with- Baileys and mimosas and they were as ready as anyone can ever be when you've volunteered to become hypothermic.

I was born and raised in Wisconsin so cold weather has just been part of my life, but that doesn't mean I have any drive to throw myself into the freezing waves of Lake Michigan in January. And now that I've seen it first-hand, I know I've made the right choice all these years. But kudos to those that did do it.

Later that day we went out to Fire on Water just north of Joey Buona's, for a Rose Bowl Party. As we all know, the game didn't go well, but the beer at Fire was cheap and the food was pretty good. The pizzas were the biggest hit with some creative options and fresh-tasting ingredients. I gave the fried green beans a try; I like the concept, but they were a little too breaded for my taste. We headed back home to veg out in front of the television and called it a relatively early night at midnight.

Sunday was another blur of a day. We headed up to Lambeau for the Packers game with the Bears. I was still cold from my trek down Water Street on New Year's Eve and 'spectating' the Plunge so, like a wimp, I spent most of the tailgate in the car drinking coffee. I know I should hang my head in shame for this, but I couldn't get the chill from my core.

The game was great and the majority of the Bears fans we ran into were good sports and had a sense of humor about the relentless trash talking they received. It was a long day, but a great way to end a non-stop New Year's weekend. I've paid for it all week with the flu, but for the most part, it was worth it. Happy New Year to all! Here's hoping we're all a little wiser and better prepared for whatever comes our way than we were last year and the year before that.

It's occurred to me that some readers are under the impression that I consider myself something of a foodie or drink expert. Let me clear the air once and for all. I have no cooking or serious food education other than what I've experienced traveling and in trying new things. And I've never intended to imply more than that. I don't care what food or drinks cost. You can serve me the most expensive thing on the menu, but if I don't like it, I don't like it.

On the other hand, I can enjoy a good ol' bowl of Kraft Mac & Cheese occasionally. I've had glasses from $800 bottles of wine and I've had glasses from $2 bottles of wine. I'm no connoisseur, I'm just a person that knows what she likes and is willing to try most things once. By no means do you have to agree with me, but this isn't The Food Network so try not to take yourself so seriously.

Alissa Lawton Special to

Alissa grew up on the near west side of Madison and had childhood dreams of being a veterinarian. Instead she moved to Milwaukee to attend college and attained a Bachelor's degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from UW-Milwaukee. Previously an advertising copywriter and a marketing specialist, Alissa always preferred the writing aspect of her career.

An animal lover, a shoe lover and a white wine lover, she now resides on the much beloved East Side of Milwaukee in what she describes as an ancient apartment building full of character, but lacking sufficient electrical outlets and the convenience of an elevator.

To some she comes across as a shy wall flower, to those that know her much better she is a social butterfly, usually overdressed and wearing inappropriately uncomfortable shoes for nearly every occasion. Either way you choose to see her, Alissa has a strong desire to bring awareness to the social issues in our city while maintaining a sense of humor about herself and surroundings.