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This year proved that what I am really best at is either a) looking on the bright side or b) deluding myself. Because despite getting laid off (RIP, MKE), I traveled a lot, developed new relationships, discovered what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. At the very least, 2008 was waaaaay better than 2007. Or even 2006!

1. I see Poland, I see Prague:

Going to Europe with Kathy, Justin, Marla and Carrie was pretty life-changing. Not because I got to go to Auschwitz or ÄŒeský Krumlov (aka Chesty Kumquat) or the Bone Church or Austria, although all those places were amazing. It was life-changing because after the 10-day trip I made my Milwaukee keepers. We had fart-offs, meat sweats, jumping shots, cartwheel shots, amber infusions…it was fun. The only non-fun was having to hold Justin’s hand while Kathy was in the bathroom or something, while waiting to board airplanes. That hurt.
vorsicht at auswitchz

2. Food Night

What it is: Sunday nights, Justin Shady & Co. (we called them the Ohio crew) would buy ingredients for a yummy meal and cook dinner for the masses. Then we’d all sit around drinking booze and talking.

How it works: Basically whoever was hosting (Justin or Marla or whoever) would buy the ingredients, plan the menu, and cook. The guests would start trickling in while the cooks were preparing, and sometimes help, sometimes just drink booze. Then we’d sit in a circle and eat everything. The cooks would tally up the cost of the ingredients and divide it by the guests, and it would usually amount to $5 or less. You had to bring your own booze.

Who goes: People who knew the TLC crew, lovers, dreamers, musicians, yogis, bicyclists, painters, illustraters, writers, copy editors, comedians, actors, dogs, photographers, drummers, guitarists, etc etc etc.

Why it was a highlight: Food Night in Milwaukee made all of us feel that we were part of a family, one of our choosing. Other than my sister’s house, the Shady-Bryja-Scott household was the most at welcome I ever felt in the Midwest. And it also inspired me to start cooking. And do household chores. And I got better at picking booze. And drinking it. So, you know, it also made me appreciate Milwaukee so much more.

Final Food Night

3. Staying in Riverwest

There were reasons I didn’t want to get my own place in Milwaukee long term. I knew winter wasn’t my thing, so I didn’t know how long I was going to stick around in the Midwest. I was saving a ton of money living with my sister, and I loved being around Zach. Plus I always thought my sister would be sad if I moved. Subletting Marla’s place was a good idea though; I had alone time, I made my own food, I wrote a short story, I wrote a few songs. I found out about the Reservoir, I took care of dogs, I felt more responsible than I had in YEARS. Okay, ever. So that was pretty cool.

riverwest

4. Getting Laid Off

On one hand, it was the biggest ego blow I’d ever experienced in my life. On the other, it seemed like I was getting paid to finally do what I really wanted to with my life. Getting laid off paved the way for me to do everything else that made 2008 one of the best in recent history. I miss working with people from MKE, but I love what I’m doing now (i.e., partying).

5. Going to Alaska with my family

Total chaos, but fun. I flew from Milwaukee to Seattle early so I could explore the city a little bit by myself. When my family arrived (from Manila and California) we boarded the NCL cruise ship then  hit Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway and Prince Rupert in Canada. In Ketchikan, we toured various totem poles. In Juneau, we rode a float plane to look over a bunch of glaciers and have a salmon bake…we also saw real bears eating salmon leftovers at the barbecue! In Skagway, we biked around town. We were too late to book a whale watching tour in Prince Rupert, so we all just hung around the small, non-descript Canadian town.

I’d never been on a cruise before, and to go with 13 members of my family (cousins, aunts, grandma, mom, baby nephews) was pretty awesome. I KNEW my family was fun, but group vacations are always a nice way to prove it.

Mi Familia in Alaska

6. Burning Man: More than a “drug-fueled desert artfag epiphany.”

Regardless of how passe Burning Man is perceived (so passe that even ragging on it is passe), it probably the most amazing thing I did last year. Random notes from my journal; none of them really concrete. Also all mentions of mind-altering substances and real names will be hidden under words like “unicorns” and “rainbows” and “roses.”

Day .25 – flight delayed, got to chico really late. j*sh and i did wizards and smoked. they had half an oz. of unicor s. went to walmart. would’ve forgotten i was at chico except for teh ‘chico state u’ t-shirts. bought water jugs, camelbak, stole a little girl’s bike by accident. it was pink, but there was no bell. luckily i am very short. also groceries (not stolen)

Day .5 – more walmart, picked up the uhaul from a dude who was fired but rehired and used to be meredith’s neighbor…who ended up giving us free shite from uhaul…we drove to nevada……was in line to get in Black Rock City 12 hours, worst thing ever

Day 1: set up camp in a dust storm. slept at Hookahdome, all wasted on rainbows…it was awesome. for some reason burning man felt really really like home, it was amazing, everyone so nice and friendly and weird and so much magic…i felt like just being there was sacred space…

i think we took roses. i don’t know. it was great, even though i was alone i had a whole city to explore. i felt kind of intimidated in the beginning.

Day 2. – 6. took two sugar cubes of griffins. then explored the city on my bike, at dawn. it was constantly, like, 100 degrees, and i couldn’t process any of the shit that was happeninng properly. a cubicle in the mmiddle of the desert? sure. a cheshire cat truck trundling across my tent? of course. a magic carpet ride and a disco that people danced on while it moved through the city? why not. But by the end of the trip I was burnt out, burnt and tired. We left before the man burned. Still, it was AWESOME.
the man at dawn

7. Earthdance/Sebastopol
More hippie bs, but time with MamaSu and Lia was priceless. I met Su’s family from Humboldt, I camped out some more (but only for three days!) i got to smell a lot of hippie bullshit sage, and also, there was more available unicorns here than at burning man. there were angels and dodos and peacock feathers. one night i took peacock feathers and Neko Case saved my life. I did not bathe for three days.

I also had a great time just BEING in Sebastopol. The yoga studio was walking distance, so I would take ashtanga classes daily. It got me back into the practice. I drove around San Francisco, went to see Michael Franti, spent time with my cousin Rosanna in Berkeley and B + Karla in Oakland — all in all, a very productive NorCal sojourn.

8. Driving to Cali from MKE
It was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done — three days in a car through eight states, just driving, driving, driving. The whole one foot in front of the other is great in theory, you know? I really enjoy going to different cities, like notches in my belt. Or something. Plus, I always wanted to be able to say I drove cross-country. (Also, I saw my odometer hit 666.)

666 on my odometer

But when you’re on the road and just listening to music, seeing cornfield after cornfield turn into snow turn into rain turn into the desert, you just have an amazing amount of time with your thoughts all swirling around in your head, loop-de-looping in your brain.

I’m glad I didn’t need to follow a map; instead, I just convoyed with my friends Justin Shady and Kathy Bryja + the fab Mr. Fabulous, who were moving to LA. It helped give me a focus, plus Kathy learned to drive stick (fast learner) and helped me out during the moments I got really sleepy. Here was my view for most of the trip:

My view for most of the trip (a Budget van and KB's car towed behind it)

9.  0%

I’m not very good at being with other people, and I always have to apologize for that; it’s like something in me is locked into alone mode. Sometimes, though, I get lucky and do the right thing at the right time, and just live in that moment.

Shadow, light

10. Going to the Philippines
coconuts
When in doubt, go home. Best idea I ever had.

xoxo,

siargao inn