Mia was an awesome little lady I had met when looking for a rideshare to get to Burning Man in 2018. She was a kick-ass Asian American about my age (though of course she thought I was younger at first) who, of the group of ladies we went with,I knew I wanted to be friends da with.
Organizing the whole thing, she would also drive and be out doing the physical things with the gigantic RV that I was used to either a man or myself doing. Hurray for breaking gender rolls!
Doing burner things, our own thing and her introduconge to the Hash House Harriers, we had been friends ever since.
It was finally time to go to Sint Maarten, baby!
Sister was turning 40 and, after finding the tiny half Dutch half French Caribbean island on a cruise, it had been one of her favorite places. Excited to finally be on the go again, I was also nervous about doing the all-inclusive resort thing given that it was pretty much the opposite of my style. Still, I was happy to do it for her and tried to focus on the potential of it being a way to take it easy and get some rest for once. Something that didn’t happen, of course, bit it was worth a try. What had been more than a small challenge leading up to the trip on the $25k a year I was netting was the $1k room cost for the six nights we would be there along with the $1k in additional expenses. I had damn near killed myself during the two or three weeks before by working 80+ hours to cover it and even had that first grand-mal seizure of three years talked about in the last post. I had wondered if it was a fluke the first time but having one again put me in a position of trying to process the upsetting reality of having epilepsy and what that meant to my future. Working so much in Nor Cal while also plugging away on getting my TEFL teaching certification had me all turned around with trying to keep track of anything else. That included thinking that I was on different flights from my family when in fact we were all on the same both to and from. Well, all minus our brother and niece/his daughter who didn’t come. Not flying solo as I had initially though was bitter-sweet as I could have used some alone time to decompress and process. At the same time, I was happy start to the adventure together. Finally getting there after half a day’s travel, Sonesta Maho Beach Resort was just OK by my tastes. Lots of sparse white walls with big open spaces and there was only one elevator working among the construction still understandably going on in recovery from the hurricane. Luckily nothing too bad considering. Especially given that we got the rooms at half price because of it. Always the little things, what did bother me was that the booze in my room wasn’t stocked. Regardless of the discount, I didn’t pay that much to be shafted on “all inclusive” treats and it was my vacation too, dammit. Especially if I was going to be stuck in a place full of young middle-class mostly American families and the elderly. Not exactly a crowd I related to. That afternoon being the first time hanging at the large peanut-shaped pool (which had one of the palapa-covered pool bars I loved so much), we grabbed a drink with Dad and I splashed around with Sienna as she climbed all over me. Loving seeing Dad actually have an adult beverage and Sienna letting go to play with me, it would end up being one of my favorite family moments of the trip. Later but not late enough for anything to be poppin, Big Red and I headed out to a hookah bar called Beirut sxm that was set up like an(atthe time) empty dark disco on the strip next to the resort. It was OK but I didn’t like that she let an arrogant bartender from our resort of whom she had befriend partake in the hookah she paid for. I didn’t like his cocky energy and wasn’t hiding it. A few drinks in, I eventually started calling him a fuckboy. Not my proudest moment. Like other friends of mine, I loved how generous she was but throwing money around forever reminded me of the gluttony and shadiness of the subprime mortgage industry. I hated it.
After that, and as was to become the norm, she went back to the resort and I stayed to hang with the locals. Quite the introduction, that first night turned into my meeting a cute guy who had a puppy I wanted to pet when trying to blow off a different guy. The one with the pup just so happened to be the son of the chief of police and the only (rated PG 13) romantic interlude of the trip. Being what must have been in his mid twenties, way too young comparatively, he was a pup himself and I pretty much a cougar. On our impromptu date of the night, we walked the puppy around (he was also a dog trainer) as he told me about the area and then we dramatically argued with the resort staff saying that he was who I was there to visit and so should be allowed in. Asshole move on my part as they could get their pay docked if caught. After waking my parents up to steal their booze in the middle of the night (whoopsie) for a last drink while hanging a wee bit longer, I sent him packing before things got too hot and heavy. Going to bed for the few short hours of sleep I’d get before Wendy woke me up bright and early, it was a somewhat alarming rise-and-shine as I was covered with all kinds of mystery bruises. I didn’t know it then but that was to become a serious autoimmune disorder that was going to get worse over the next few months. A lot worse.
Best part about the resort and it’s three restaurants: best jerk chicken ever! We ate it almost every day. It was also fun to spend time at the beach with Sienna who was was once again crawling all over me in the ocean, both of us cracking up as my sunglasses were lost to the ocean while she turned into a sea-monkey smothering me. Later we set off for the day with a laid back local taxi driver, Walter, of whom we had hired independently. One of the things I had been adamant to my sister that we do and we all ended up being super happy about.
One of the first stops was to feed wild iguanas lettuce. Something pretty cool and fun in it’s own right but especially watching Mom enjoy it and Sienna freak out. Driving along the coast as we headed to the French side of the island (we were staying on the Dutch side), it was a mental trip to see so many boats on their sides from the hurricane, many of them looking like multi-million dollar yachts that had never been used. I was snapped out of it when our guide informed us that it was Carnival. Forever in FOMO mode, I was all over checking out what was going on with the list he gave me as I giggled to myself with the thoughts I always had of how much our family reminded me of National Lampoon’s Family Vacation. The classic National Lampoon with Chevy Chase, not the newer one. Remember, I was 41.
Stopping to shop on our day’s sightseeing trip of the island, Wendy was ecstatic to find a wooden sword. She had gotten one taken away from on her first visit to the island when goofing off too much with it. Something she continued when accidentally hitting me in the head with the new one. The French side was definitely, at least the part we saw, more run down and less touristy. Walter told us it was due to being less focused on tourism and it’s inhabitants living off the French version of welfare. The ability to earn on the island was almost at the same income level as what they got from that so it didn’t make sense to work. I got where the concept was coming from but my workaholic-ass couldn’t relate. It just seemed depressing. Stopping to get French pastries for later, we made our way to a cute and quaint French restaurant Wendy had found with light pink walls, flowers, candles and a live lobster pool that we watched be filled with the crustaceans that had just been caught in the ocean that day. Opposite to what is often expected from the French culture, I was surprised and charmed by how friendly and charismatic the staff was. It was over all an enchanting culinary experience.
Sleep deprived and hungover being the theme of the trip, it was a lovely day but I was happy for the chance to end it with a wee bit of recovery and more quality time with Sienna back in our rooms while Wendy and Dad went to the casino across the street. Causing multiple people to wonder what the heck was on my legs over the next couple days, that included letting her use the henna from India on me that I had given her. Regretting not having spent the night in her and Wendy’s room as Sienna requested, night two was the second in a row of not sleeping much. That time, though, was due to insomnia, not partying. C’est la vie. The next day, May 4th, was Big Red’s actual birthday. Heading to the pool and beach, she managed to find thw 40s club of the resort. In other words, we made friends with a couple and two ladies who were also there for 40th birthday celebrations. I, of course, eventually had a tray full of colorful drinks with little alcohol and a lot of sugar brought out to the waterfront for the grand finale of our hang. From there, sis and I headed back to our rooms to get dolled up for the dinner she had reserved at one of the resort’s nicer restaurants. A dinner of lovely family time that was temporarily interrupted with a hiccup when a man was being abusive to his wife at a table nearby. Both Wendy and I told staff and I shot him eye-daggers when he looked over but other than that it didn’t affect the dinner too much. Actually, I was proud of sis and I for being lionesses who weren’t about to let someone be abused without a little protection. Among other things, Sint Marteen is known for Maho Beach. More specifically, a small strip of land where people can stand on the sand while being blasted by planes taking off from the island’s airport runway. While too tired to do it myself, we did manage to watch a little boy do it while dining at the neighboring Sunset Bar and Grill. An awesome restaurant next door that we all loved enough to visit twice. Foodie note if you ever make your way there: it had the best coconut shrimp I’ve even had.
That night was the major “fun” event for me. Carnival’s Wet Fete! I had found it on the list from our tour a couple days before and, while Big Red and I had been too tired to go to the party of Carnival the night before, I was determined to make it to this one. I mean come on. Water and soca music with almost all locals? So much so that we only saw two other white people and they weren’t even American. I couldn’t miss it! Good thing I didn’t given that it was the total highlight of doing something more my style.
Set up on a big asphalt area half an hour from the resort, of course I happened to be one of the first people sprayed with a big hose when picking up Wendy’s shoe to put back on her Prince Charming style.
Prior to coming in, she had talked Walter into coming in instead of waiting in the car, telling him she would pay him to hang and be our bodyguard. Something that was about to cause a big fight between the two of us back at Sunset Bar the next day with the after I had ended up being the one to pay him after she passed out. Back to Wet Fete, sis also made friends with a woman from the islands of whose drawn on eyebrows I couldn’t stop staring at.
Dancing away while Big Red continued to lead us to the bar to keep the drinks flowing (her generously paying once again), we were all free flowing and having a blast until sis had one too many and started getting a wee bit too feisty. Amusingly liking to tell dudes I was a player when she was loaded and that particular time acting like I was lame for not letting her drink anymore (too much booze made her feisty and made me cry), I decided it was time to leave somewhat early before we were both too much of a hot mess and would have regrets. My little sis had to enjoy her epic 40th, dammit!
After putting Wendy to bed, Walter continued on with me to go out on the strip by the resort after and we immediately ran into our 40s group friends at the fun outside bar next door called Tres Amigos. Cool but would have been better if Wendow was there. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for him to try to kiss me (go home to your wife, dude) and I sent him packing. Then I sat on the strip chatting until shortly after sunrise with another guy who had come back on foot to say hello after driving by with a fancy car. Dr. Philing him (AKA: I think I’m a therapist after I’ve had a few), the guy seemed to think we were in a relationship until weeks after I was back in the states. There I went again. *Rolling eyes at myself.* Sis showed up to my room still buzzed a couple hours after I had gone to sleep claiming that she was waking me up to make sure I was OK. I believed that she was really just excited to get the day started and still loopy from the night before. From there, she took me pointless wandering so much that we never got to eat before leaving for a snorkeling excursion. Not a good combo with a lack of sleep, booze the day before and a boat. She had been excited and inadvertently not letting me sleep the whole trip. Something that wouldn’t fare well by the end. Still, the snorkeling trip was fun and the guides were cute (well, one of them) and playful. We got to see the wrecked ships even closer, sad and surreal, and check out the tropical fish of that Caribbean island. Cool but somewhat sparse and not overly-impressive compared to other places I had been. I had spoiled myself!
Feeling shitty and way too tired by the time we got back, I went to lay down for little more than an hour before Mom called my room to say that the family was waiting in the lobby for me to go back to the restaurant by the airport. No one had given me any notice and it felt like I was an afterthought. Let’s just say it didn’t help my mood. Grouchy and especially not happy with Wendy, I finally lost it when she tried to say she paid Walter, not me, because of how much she spent. Then we went into full sister-syndroming when she said that I always freaked about money, which she hates. As a reminder, I was netting $25k a year and had just spent a couple grand (as well as a seizure) on the trip. Also that I hadn’t felt comfortable and didn’t want Walter (who was lucky his wife was still with him after impregnating another woman) to go. And then I had ended up being the one to pay him $100 as she hadn’t been in the state to do so by the time we got back. As was all too common, she took no responsibility for her own actions and I was hostile as hell about it. Yeah, we were both sister-syndroming each other like crazy. I was usually the crazy, wild and irresponsible one but she had her moments too and I had hit my limit. Even if it was her 40th. I did take responsibility for not handling it well though, at least to myself. I would spend a long time sadly regretting that one. Maybe forever. The next day was our last. That trip being no exception, I had a habit of getting burnt out and bummed at the end of being somewhere. Travel, Burning Man, between my homes of Southern and Northern California, you name it. Riding the coat tails of the night before, breakfast and hanging by the pool the next morning with the rest of the family tolerating my shitty energy, we made our way home and me to finally get the rest I had thought I would get there. Yeah, I needed to work on my grand finale skills. Nobody’s perfect.
Happy 40th, sister. Even with the lows, it was one hell of a high. I love you.
Hike, hike, hiking in Henry Cowell State Park.. Those redwoods, the doggos and horses on path…I coveted it and was happy to get it on a regular basis. Hitting the Santa Cruz burner happy hour wasn’t my thing once the EDM started but I was happy to make it over to hang with burners for an hour or two. What was my thing was going wine tasting in the mountains and for a couple drinks at of course our local dive, Monty’s Log Cabin. Routines sounding familiar yet?
Dinner with Brigit & Aaron at Casa Nostra, an Italian restaurant that was becoming a routine, was quite a treat as was Svet and I enjoying White Russians at Morgan Hill’s dive bar M&H Tavern both in celebration of our late friend Wren and to say goodbye to the little town before she moved out. The siblings were annoying me with the sis being all about her body and getting six-pack abs for her 40th birthday the next month (though I got it at the same time) and the brother with messages about studding out his purebred dog. Superficiality and breeding dogs, especially when I had seen so many in trouble during my travels, were topics that didn’t sit well with me. They knew that.
Highlight of the month: I got my ticket to Burning Man! Or should I should say that Brigit did. We both sat on laptops plugging away the second they went on sale, each facing error messages that weren’t all too unexpected until she finally got through. Yay! True to a burner’s heart, her and Aaron even gifted me with covering half of mine as well as our friend Melissa’s. B kept saying that she had been gifted in her earlier days and now it was her turn. I love, love, love our community. And them. My little man-made family. Sad to have to cancel a flight home for my brother’s birthday and Easter, the reason was happy as it was to save money for Sint Marteen for Big Red’s 40th! Instead I got to celebrate the holiday with Brigit and Aaron where she, in her smirk of dark humor, carried on a tradition of cooking rabbit. A couple more hangs in Santa Cruz, meals in San Francisco, hot tubbing under the stars with Brigit, Aaron and even Melissa finished off the month. That along with finally making it to Muir Woods for a hike (Pelican Inn is a cute place to stop to eat but I wouldn’t recommend the stew) and signs of the second time having grand-mal seizure/s (first being years before) when waking up on the 25th with a majorly bit up tongue. I may have been stressing my body out by working too much for the sister’s birthday trip. Whopsie-doo. It was a short and sweet month in Nor Cal enjoying the peace and pals. Not my norm and not so bad. Probably overdue, actually.
Starting the ‘ol birthday month with my grandma in LA was a nice way to warm up. Always getting to her house late for initial arrival, that particular time was due to hanging with burner buds in Long Beach the night before. The next morning started with her making brekkie, something she was sweetly stubborn about doing, and even the repetitive nagging of wishing I visited more while at the same time on repeat about the effort it took to do so added to the Grannie magic. Of course it drove me crazy (duh) but it also warmed my heart to see her being amped about my being there. She was getting used to my coming around on a semi-regular basis. That made me happy. After breakfast I took her out to run errands and for lunch, took her to a place in her neighborhood called Zankou Chicken that a podcast I had been listening to called My Favorite Murder had talked about. It had been covering the story of how the founder had killed members of his family. Delicious food with only a hint of murder. 2019 was a year with more traveling back and forth within my home state as opposed to the overseas tornado of 2018. Something I was especially enjoying given that I was planning on being overseas for just about all of 2020. Going home to SD on the specific date I did this particular time was for the purpose of watching the dog of my homie and old roomie Jewels. Poor baby had cancer, as had her other pup who had passed a few months before. It already wasn’t hard to get my help with doggos and the year had been turning out to not have quite as much time at home as I was comfortable with (though was loving my second home) so I was happy for the push to come back for a couple weeks. 2019 had been, and would continue to be, a year of family. Probably the most of my entire adult life up to that point. Of that, Kati, Nik and their families were lower maintenance than my blood family. Not to infer that my blood family was high-maintenance in a bad way, we were just close for the first time and when I saw them they were usually all together. Mostly because they lived on the same estate (the Satterwhite Sanctuary) and it was a half an hour away. Even more challenging, totally outside of the central-coastal bubble I lived in. Yeah. Not easy. Going to their property was the hardest of all the time we spent together as it meant an entire day of different stages. All of us together, Mom and Dad in their house, my niece’s at the pool, my sis at the bar, socializing with their friends, my bro on the couch in front of the TV…it was a family circus. And something I didn’t want to miss. I’d eventually learn to give up on accomplishing anything else on those days and to just plan on spending the night but wasn’t quite there yet.
On the opposite, going out to eat was a norm with them and maybe the only way time management stood a chance. It was super fun being able to take them, especially my parents, to places in SoCal I had always thought they would like. For instance, taking them and their dogs to Julian for the town’s famous pie. Special times that would always warm me up to think about later on. Being a traveler and living in NorCal part-time sometimes magnified the ticking of life’s clock a little too loud. I never felt like I had enough down time at home in the comfort bubble of my small community beach town. Not being home all the time did make me especially love my routines more than ever though. Even doing laundry was fun and something I looked forward to. For example of how, the $10 burger and a beer lunch special at our local dive, The Stick, was directly next to the laundromat and something I always paired with it. Home when my birthday once again hit on Feb 8th, for once I wouldn’t have made a big deal about it given that it was coming on the heels of the big 40. Sis wasn’t having it though. She arranged an awesome fondue dinner with the Kid (little bro Sean) stepping up to have her back to make sure we fondid it right. Even Grandma surprised me by being there! I wasn’t the most thrilled that Wendy invited her ex-husband knowing that I had strong mixed feelings about him given that he was usually super cool but also a leach on our family and would once in a while would go getto. Something I had no tolerance for even from someone who was usually super cool. Otherwise, all happy sparkles. It didn’t take long after that for me to be back up north in Felton with a stop along the way to visit the peacocks at Casa de Fruita. Back to work right away, the sightseeing of driving for Lyft was part of the fun and something I enjoyed getting back to. Every once in a while, the destination of passengers would even take me by the house I grew up in that my parents had only moved out of a couple years before. I, of course, used those opportunities to send photos to the fam though I didn’t miss that city in general at all. Besides using rideshare to sightsee, socialize and network, there was also the usual stuff of my NorCal life to keep me happy. Hangin at Cafe Gratitude in Santa Cruz, visiting my pal Renee in wine country and small lingering birthday celebrations such as Svet getting me shoes I emo-loved thanks to their raising money for doggos being a few examples. Of course I accidentally rubbed part of the heel off from driving within a couple weeks of wearing them non-stop but that just made them rep me with all the more accuracy. The big event of the month, and why I was back in Nor Cal so fast, was Brigit and Aaron’t party to celebrate his being done paying alimony. Money to Burn was the name and it was a 1920s theme that was the absolute bee’s knees. Fabulous as the parties she threw always were, I got a huge kick out of their goal being to use the budget of one month of what the payment had been. They even flew out a friend from Hawaii to cater the food and hired a fan dancer. It was full of bohemian-spirited people and a level of the cat’s meow that would be hard to match.
For the perfect ending to my 41st birthday month a week or two later, I went for a low-key hang at Monty’s that started with my walking into dogs abounding, a fresh couple dancing to “Magic” by Kenny Chesney (love!) and ladies from Hawaii chatting away. It was one of those enchanted moments that made time slow down for a minute. Something that didn’t happen as much at home as when I was traveling. You better believe I grabbed onto it when it did.
With the plethora of holiday parties over, I finally got a chance to chill out at home in San Diego. Something that included details like binging on a podcast called My Favorite Murder that I found out about when dropping some women off at a live recording of it. It kept me sane driving so many long hours even though one of the two women hosts (yay for ladies!) drove me bananas by sounding dumb as dirt and the other, while I liked her in private recordings, sounds fake as fuck during public ones. It would eventually be why I stopped listening but hey, it was great while it lasted and I probably couldn’t have come close to their over all magic. The simplified psychology of the murders and humor mixed in was indeed a great formula and their ratings showed it. It was great to get back to my roots in Ocean Beach. A local dive bar called The Tilted Stick had a delicious $10 burger and a beer deal that I loved to take advantage of while doing laundry next door. While still only on my “to do” list, driving by donation-based yoga on the beautiful Sunset Cliffs further down the main street was also awesome. So was writing on the back patio of a restaurant called Breakfast Republic. It reminded me of a couple cafes I had gone to in India with Alexandra which made it even extra special. Hangin at the beach meditating with my mala beads and reading Playa Dust for my third time was something I had been dreaming of and was finally back to doing. Juliette was forever pulling me over to another of our fun local dives called Lucy’s and unfortunately sometimes also pulled me into hangin with her soon to be loser boyfriend. Sweet dude but had too many problems to count and would later try to hook up with me while also trying to spin it to make it sound like I was coming onto him AND his friend. Knowing I would never do that, she saw right through it (helped that I had his attempt in writing) and I did my best to hold back on bitching about lowlifes. Made me extra thankful for my type being slightly nerdy sweethearts that have their shit together. I mean, one of us better, right? Back to the love, visiting Jewels and snuggling on Sugs made me happy when I got a chance to do it. She was always a ray of sunshine even though really upset about something that happened involving her friend on that particular time back and I was happy to be able to dog-sit. Yup. My life was thankfully still where I had left it. Still in my bubble though in a neighboring art district called Liberty Station, a swanky movie theatre called The Lot offered discounts for members on Wednesdays so I took my pop and then to a burger place called Sladers 50/50. It was a great daddy daughter day. Something we would soon do again but farther away when I took him a couple weeks later to a casino called Barona for a $45 lobster Wednesday buffet and a few hours of gambling. The half an hour to pick him up, popping into the Satterwhite Sanctuary (hurray to be able to love on the four pups) and another half an hour to the casino was a somewhat painful trek but I was happy to be spending time with him. Not knowing how much longer we would have him given his health was always haunting. Especially with the idea of going overseas for more than a year. Gig work was still a hustle, especially catching a cold for a week and a stupid BS delivery company I was thinking of starting with threatening me when telling me I had to return their equipment since I didn’t sign up for a shift fast enough. Unregulated gig work was such crap and the class action lawsuits hadn’t begun to roll out against them as they were to a few months later. Heading out with the roomie for a drink was fun and a good bonding experience before heading back to the Bay. Kicking my time off back there with a fun night at a Star Wars Bar called 7 Stars Bar & Grill with the homies from high school Nick, Ant, Leilani and a couple more, of course Nick started a conga line. Of course.
Dropping my phone in a toilet a few months before = no audio but you get the idea…
India creeping into my subconscious once again, I came upon a spot in a parking lot of the seedy East Side of San Jose littered with garbage in a way that reminded me of my time there followed within a day or two by also being transported back to Thailand when getting a cheap massage at a spot called Life Reflexology. Little reminders that I may be taking a breather at home but I was happiest when also on the road. I loved spending time with my little Felton family of Brigit, Aaron and sometimes Melissa. Just like home in SD, I was forever humbled to be able to call such a magical place my second home. During local hikes in Henry Cowell Mountain State Park, I would watch deer feed in fields, people ride horses, dogs walking with their human family and got to say hi to my horsie friends at the neighbor’s cute and quaint corner house. Lady’s night with Brigit and Melissa at Henflings was super fun and felt extra great to have cheaper prices even though only being half an hour from the Bay. Something I was painfully reminded of at lunch a couple of days later when a Korean place double-charged me for a lunch by serving it hot instead of cold without telling me first that there was a price difference. It was extremely rare for me but I was definitely not leaving a tip there. $20 lunch my ass! Catching up for my few short weeks in Nor Cal, Svet and I screwed around trying stuff on for the Money to Burn party Brigit and Aaron were going to throw to celebrate his being done paying alimony (Brigit always threw great parties) and then it was back to driving Lyft all over the place up there with SF, the mountains and Santa Cruz being my favorites. Already time to drive back to Southern California, I visited Grandma for a couple nights also driving for Lyft in LA (no bueno) and even managed to meet up with my burner buddies Angelique, Sid and Ash. Back and forth, back and forth…there was always plenty of good times and adventure even in my quieter moments. My personality may not have allowed for a life that had much of it but it was at least more than average at that time. I was soaking it up.
Deciding to stay home in California until after Burning Man 2019 by no means meant that the adventure was about to slow down. December exemplified that as it gave me plenty of opportunity to do what I loved to do best. Celebrate! Santacon, a pub crawl started in San Francisco in 1994 in which everyone dresses as Santas (with a few relating exceptions) has evolved into a tradition that different cities around the world have continued on. Brigit was heading the charge for Felton and I wanted to stick around for it. My buddy from Spanky’s, Blackbird, even came down from SF to join and we had a blast. Adding additional entertainment, a server from a local restaurant, Creamer House, (where Brigit and I frequented for tuna melts) was one of the twenty or so who joined in and not only managed to leave with a crush on me but also with the big, furry cape my momma had made to keep me warm when I had been working in matchmaking in San Francisco. Long story short, even though I wasn’t all that interested, he still managed to give me a guilt trip about leaving to go home to San Diego and pissed me off by not getting the cape back to me for months. After Santacon but before I headed back to SD, I got my hair did for the first time since Layla died in 2015. Something that may seem as boring and mundane as getting a pedi at first mention but, as had happened with many before, it had taken on some sort of right of passage. Even though I was disappointed with the result, probably my fault for not communicating clearly, I was happy I did it. To me it symbolized making an effort to take care of myself in the ways getting my bohemian lifestyle off the ground had been beating me up. A graduation to the next level of sorts. It’s funny how little random things so often end up being what marks moments of growth and change in our lives. Heading home to San Diego within a couple days thereafter, I staycationed for an event another friend put on called Naughty or Nice. It was a weekend where a social group I had joined years before stayed at a local resort and did all kinds of local activities with the main attraction being a Christmas-themed pub crawl (not a Santacon though) in one of our local beach towns. So, so many pub crawls… Svetlana had flown out and I met a cool guy from Denver who became my event boyfriend. For any of you burners, travelers or festies out there, you probably know what that’s like. It was great to catch up with old acquaintances and friends. Svet and I had a room right by the event’s main suite, making it even more fun. One of the nights of the event was also Sea World’s annual Christmas pub crawl where trainers, new and old, reunited for some fun. I had been around a lot when Nik was a trainer so it was always fun to join even if it meant that I was jumping between both of the events on one of the nights. It was good times to be sure but I was definitely ready to take a break from partying by the time it was done. For a few days at least. Speaking of Nik, while I was always happy to be back in general, hanging with her and Kate was what what always made it most feel like home. I even managed to dive right back in with their kids when giving myself a black eye throwing Kate’s youngest, Audrey, up in the air in just a way that landed her chin right onto my eye socket. Christmas celebrations still pouring out everywhere I turned with more party plans that hadn’t quite being fulfilled, Wendy and I thought it would be funny to utilize that shiner at champagne brunch in PB for a photo opp before getting drunkenly stuck in neighborhood Christmas parade and block party. The high of the day, something I still proudly chuckle at, being when we successfully crashed a random work Christmas party at The Grass Skirt tiki bar and successfuly pretended to be employees. The low of the day later being when I grabbed a dude’s cock while telling him to do the dishes at Nikki and Brent’s Christmas party. To be fair, Nik had only told me about the party a few days before so I hadn’t had time to rearrange boozy brunch. I stood no chance. Thankfully the dude and his wife were super fun, cool and also rowdy, though it still wasn’t exactly fun apologizing to her a couple days later. God. I still get embarrassed thinking about that one. JerseyJ’s Christmas party was the last of the holiday tornado. It was fun with her awesome Italian cooking and big warm and vibrant personality that fit especially great with the holiday but it was also awkward thanks to her roomie being pretty much done with her after all the drama she had put her through with her then recent ex. Also because the rebound she had there at their party was an obvious loser, no doubt added fuel to the fire. It also caused Jersey J’s other friends there to “WTF are you doing” and her to get really upset about it. Beyond those who cared about her just being concerned, she never seemed to acknowledge how the people she put in their lives affected them. I was far enough removed at the time to find it interesting to compare behavior patterns and reflect on my own. In the end, even though I didn’t agree with her, I had her back. I didn’t want her to feel alone and she was the only one responsible for making the decisions of her life. Especially when she was spinning in all kinds of different directions from her breakup. I’d end up regretting it but you’ll have to wait to find out about that… At some point over the month, Wendy set up family pictures at a stupid department store (so 1995) in which I looked horrible. Something that made sense when I got hives an hour later. Probably because I hate those cheesy pictures and thought it was especially lame given that we lived in a beautiful place full of great photographers. Well, just maybe it was also because I had been to about five million boozy Christmas celebrations. Over all, she wanted to make sure we had a recent picture because of how sick our dad was. That was pretty rad. Just like Thanksgiving had been, Christmas day was mostly a bust. Still not comfortable going over to the family’s house, my parents met me for brunch on the OB Pier and that at least ended up being a pretty awesome high given how much they loved it. I then spent the rest of Christmas alone with hives. Again. Even if it wasn’t to last as long as I wanted, I loved being home for a minute to catch up with my people and little beach town. Alas, NYE was on our toes and I had plans for it that were about to lead me back North. More specifically, a campout with Mia and Los Angeles burners in the LA mountains. Fun but it was too damn freezing! By the time I had found a warm communal tent on the second night, I wouldn’t leave it. Between that and a couple of dudes I managed to smooch out with, I did manage to find my warm and fuzzy for saying goodbye to 2018 after all.
Yes, Svet is originally from Russia.
We met when my dog Layla died in 2015 and I had rainbow hair.
A man who we had known online had invited a few of us together for happy hour to get me out of the house for what may had been the first time since losing my girl.
Her being a sweet and shy accountant (though with a secret wild streak), others often tease about how opposite we are and show confusion about how we could be friends. Among other similarities and bonds they couldn’t see was that we had lost one of the women in our small and close group of friends when she jumped off the Golden Gate bridge in 2017. She had been the heart and one who pulled us all together yet Svetlana and I had managed to find a way to continue it on after she was gone. It was actually when we finally got close
Brigit and Aaron are two of the first people I met my first time at Burning Man. Brigit is a nanny and semi mountain hippie with a love of the wilderness and great ability to throw a fantastic wvent while Aaron is a sweet and quirky NASA engineer who grumbles but is happy to get pulled into the burner and hippie ways.
They are OGs of my burner family and, despite our 18 year age Gap, some of the first people who I ever felt I could relate to in many of my outside of the box ways.
They host me to live with them sometimes in the redwoods of the Santa Cruz mountains. I love them and they help me to not feel alone in ways that I had for most of my life.
JerseyJ was a nurse practitioner who had the full-blown Jersey Italian thing going and I loved it. She was loyal, loving, generous and nurturing in a way that was special and hard to find.
We knew each other through the boating world. Something I was a part of because of the boat I lived on and and because her ex-boyfriend owned one.
We were close for a time but her social, dating and partying choices (and the way they effected my own) became too much of a problem. As did her burning the relationship with my roommate and the repetitive lecturing and essentially telling me that my problems were BS and that she wasn’t going to deal with them after all she went through at work. Understandable to a certain level but she had put me through the ringer not so long before that with the things she had me do when losing it during her recent breakup with the boat dude. I guess you could say that I was her rebound.
I played more than my part as well. Of course. Relationships and being a pain in the ass are never one-sided. Especially when being a strong woman who likes other strong women.
Kate and Nik are two of three sisters I’ve known since high school and are the two closest people I’ve ever had in my life and the most support I’ve ever had.
I started hanging with Kati when one of my high school besties introduced us and the three of us would hang. We got close when I would later visit her at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical School in Arizona. She was a pilot at Skywest and is currently a stay at home mom to two little girls with new aeronautical endeavors in the works.
Nik was a year younger and my sister knew her better than I. She dated a guy I hung out with a lot and we became close when both moving to San Diego around the same time in 2000. Her to become an animal trainer at Sea World, which she did. A senior dolphin trainer. She is now a stay at home mom to two little boys.
They have a younger sister Debbie (AKA) Doozer who is a doctor and lives in a different state. Dooz is more of her own person, which I love her for, and someone I also consider a part of my family.
These women are some of the best people I have ever known and probably the most important people I’ve ever had in my life. I’ve thought of them as angels, at least my Angela, for the close to two decades we’ve become close enough to consider each other family.
A travel & lifestyle journal about the messy pilgrimage of adventure and personal growth of a Gen Xer.