Remembering, Re-Creating 2008

I was looking over my 2008 LOST calendar and looking at the dates and events I had marked down, mapping out my life for 12 months. I decided in celebration of the New Year, that I’d ruminate/highlight/chronicle the most memorable parts of my life as it unfolded in 2008.

A quote from one of my beloved discoveries of the year, Radiolab Podcasts: “All remembering is an act of creation.”

This is not an attempt to be eloquent or deep. This is solely my mind taking inventory and indulging;)

So here’s to Re-Creation of 2008.

-An overnight, whirlwind of craziness to NYC to do an OaKs show and interview on WNYC’s Public Radio International. Hauling my 500 pound accordion through the subway and streets of NYC will not rank high on my list of favorite things to do. But flying up to NYC for 24 hours is probably the most rock star-ish thing I’ll ever do. Our “meet-the-press” session felt strangely like an episode of Flight of the Conchords. Meaning nobody came. And thanks to an uncensored interview with the folks of Uncensored Interview, I discovered that I intensely dislike being on camera. Ironic, since I know thrive off of video blogs, nearly 11 months later.

-An awkward but necessary camping trip (which later actually turned out to be refreshing) where I finally met a ton of people at Status, despite attending for more than a year and not ever getting involved. Three lovely people (Josh, Lauranne and Jessica) broke me into community that week and the rest is history.
-Erin’s 21st/Black and White birthday. I just remember laughing a lot that night and having a lot of “appletinis.” For some reason, I remember playing the opening bars of “Smoke on the Water” with a few other people by blowing on open bottles of root beer. This was also the night of the best game of Catch Phrase. EVER.
-A road trip to Kentucky and Tennessee with 7 of my favorites. We took a gazillion pictures, played in snow (some for the first time), stayed in the most amazing cabin ever, endlessly played Phase 10 and Skip-Bo, made pancakes. Playing that crazy Untangle game in the hot tub took far longer than it should. Also I will never forget not being able to tell if it was Erin or Michelle lying to me during Mafia. I remember sitting on a sun-warmed porch overlooking the mountains and thinking that for a few days anyway, I wanted to live on top of that mountain forever. And the drive through the Smokey Mountains on the way home looked like Narnia.

-Recording the OaKs Songs for Waiting album. Well this began much earlier, but it culminated finally this month in our OaKs CD release show at the Social. I loved the challenge of figuring out vocal lines, collaborating with the guys on harmony and Wurlitzer parts. The producers and artists I’ve worked with have always been firm believer in the homegrown, grassroots approach and so I’ve always loved standing in front of those mikes and pop filters, with nothing but a pair of headphones and the warmth and wood floors of somebody’s home, rejecting the stark sterility of a recording studio. On the CD release night, I remember bright lights and lots of friends cheering and jamming my heart out.

We started to feel like a band.

-Traveling to Austin, TX for South by Southwest 2008 and playing the Fanatic Promotion showcase as well as several day parties. Again, those day parties felt extremely Flight of the Conchordish. Bands and sound checks and bars and wandering through vibrant, pulsing city streets. Feasting on tangy Texas BBQ our last night there on the remote outskirts of the city was heavenly and I will not forget that evening that saw me drink my first bottle of Fat Tire.

The Hotel Cafe showcase at The Parish changed my life. The conversations, the ease, the intelligence of songwriting and the camaraderie onstage showed me a new way of being a singer/songwriter.

-Mostly a blur of more OaKs shows in Tampa and the Social, a birthday party I should have gone to but didn’t, and endlessly fun evenings of The Office, LOST, Scrabble and Apples to Apples at Oscar and Jodie’s

-Seeing Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova (from the movie “Once”) live in Atlanta for a show. Beautiful, soothing music. I only wish our seats could have been better. But hey, the flight was free. And coming off of their Oscar for Best Song, I’d say the evening was slightly legendary;)
-the one month I was actually consistent with going to Sphere to talk about Disappointment with God, led by Jeanne and Tiffany (little did I know where these friendships would lead…) I’m starting to actually see people, and not just let them float around me in a blur. I walk away from these discussions refreshed, challenged, intrigued.
-FMF festival: blue men, bright lights, confetti, and an ease into the routine of set-up. Later that week, an early night cut short led to Cheyenne Saloon and Ceviche.
-the last show with The OaKs, though I did not know it then at the WMNF Tropical Heatwave show. Think SXSW, except the audience is mostly hippies.

-OneRepublic concert–I think I can trace the true beginnings of my hanging out with Jeanne, Tiff, Les and Su to this evening. Piano keys pounding, cello sighing and crazy awesome subwoofers. Music owns the night.
-Ingrid Michaelson concert–I got to sing onstage with her for two songs. I will never forget that. This evening was exuberant and legendary, but only in my own mind.
-An evening where everything fell into place: a rodeo where we learned about the extent of animal cruelty and that nobody really dresses up for rodeos, coloring in the kids’ menu can bring hours of entertainment at Bennigans, and hanging out with friends can be fun even though the movie is super lame.

-Trip to New York City to hang with Paige and Jenny on July Fourth weekend. I remember Jelly Beans, endless shelves of books at the Strand, rooftop fireworks in the rain, taking shelter under a crowd of umbrellas, flying through the air and hanging out on rocks in the middle of Central Park, drinking coke and amarettos in some supposedly trendy club that played lame music. Endless photos, wandering and laughing.
-sitting in Books a Million with Becca and poring over an Atlantic Monthly article and having our minds blown. We sat in the parking lot, contemplating mystery and feeling suddenly very small. I can always count on that girl for amazing conversation.
-a inexplicably memorable day at the beach. sun and sand and waves and foam and strawberries and baby sharks. a day remarkably beautiful in its simplicity.
-a Black and White party of mayhem, strangely potent green liquid, dancing, red boots and bonding with Leslie through laughter.

-another random party. Laughter and absurdities and recorded voicemails on the back porch. My Filipino Freestyle was born, my purse was stolen, the ground was wet and the couch somehow managed to survive it all. Even to this day.
-A wedding. I reconnected with an old friend and found that I missed him much more than I imagined I did.
-trip to DeLeon springs: sun, canoes (I remember it felt strangely like being in an episode of LOST), pancakes that were worth the two-hour wait, plus the most amazing bacon ever. I still remember lying beneath the sun and trees and thinking I wish I could bottle up moments like that forever.
-Meteor shower in the open field near our house. Oscar helped me acquire this fire pit, which turned out to be the best investment I made this year (apart from my Macbook), as it has proved to be the central focal point for many a social gathering this year. New friends and old friends bonded over s’mores and iPhones, mixing and blending on blue tarps and blankets. I saw beautiful lights flash brilliantly across the sky all night long.
-Tiff’s birthday, despite horrid Tropical Storm Fay; Happy Hour at Friday’s, B.B. Kings and Cowboys and Wall Street Plaza. We had a fake bridal shower wedding, and then flipped quarters and ate hash browns at Waffle House until almost 4a.m.
-D.C. with Jeanne: I ate the best filet mignon of my LIFE, wandered capitol hill and stayed in an amazing old Colonial-era house with tons of character. I loved the wandering, the exploring, [the eating:)] and the conversations.

-evenings of book discussions over C.S. Lewis.
-lots of running by misty, orange and pink sunrises, endless political debating
-crazy trying to cram 5 people into a photobooth at Bar-B-Q; playing Rock Band live to Journey
-I believe this is when Jeanne and I bought our ticket to Sydney. Though I may have gotten the date confused? Regardless, I discovered someone who was just as restless and keen on leaving and having an adventure. The rest is history. (Or at least, a history that is still being written…)
-trip to St. Pete for beach and Salvador Dali

-I wrote Slide. Starting to find the secrets of writing decent hooks. But only just.
-The Mel version of Hiphopapotamous was born after Midnight Mass. Also, I got caught in a rainstorm while running this weekend. “Primal connectedness to nature.”
-The first 80s night at Backbooth for Walt’s birthday. As Jeanne so eloquently put it: “I saw flashes of fluorescent lights, people shaking it, and pearls. There were silly boys and funny old men. The next thing I saw was a photobooth strip, memories in a memory. Birthdays are best celebrated like this.”
-the Longest Best Day ever: Muse Theology with Chuck deGroat, volunteering with Praxis kids at Give Kids the World, and then dancing the night away for Jahred’s going away party.
-Aquatica–blissful day in the sun and water with beautiful friends.
-Halloween Party–chaotic, haphazard evening of fire, dancing moose, alter egos, Clue Characters, ukeleles, guitars and blue tarps
-Food and Wine Festival-
-Seattle- my first trip to the West Coast/Pacific Northwest. An evening of skee ball, hash browns, paper telephone, and almost making it to the club in Portland with the 80s dancing on a trampoline floor. A beautiful dream that may yet come to pass.

-Election Night–another evening of fire (sort of an ongoing theme of 2008), marshmallows and video blogging.
-Finally running the 10K! I felt exhilarated, learning I could run and talk at the same time (thanks, Dana) and my body felt like rejecting all junk food forever. For all of 30 minutes. This feeling was shortly followed up by a glorious chocolate chip waffle.
-Disney at the Swan and Dolphin with the girls. Escape from reality. This is where Texas de Brazil daring was officially born.
-New York City–a whirlwind blur of the Statue of Liberty, the Financial District, finally seeing Chicago on Broadway, and scoping out Justin Timberlake’s restaurant. Conversations on planes, in parks and on city streets.

BK’s birthday brought a memorable evening of Mongolian BBQ and conversation with my three favorite ENTJs (well Sonny MAY be an ENFJ).

A Cuban-Filipino Christmas with the family: amazing Cuban food, an evening of Scrabble, exchanging gifts. I forgot how much this quality time with family is necessary and central to my life.

I finally finished The Brothers Karamazov, a goal several years in the making (unfortunately).

Stardust gig/night of IHOP: probably December’s most memorable evening so far (still banking on tonight;). And for this reason:

I’m realizing more and more how beautiful the people and relationships around me are. They’re difficult, but rewarding, if I take the time to take off my blinders, my comfort level and actually engage with people and pour into them and just take the time to notice and be invested and be involved… well, it’s not even about a reward. It’s just LIFE.

I’ve never regretted a single spontaneous late night, initiating a necessary [or just enjoyable] conversation, spending time with any one person, taking a random trip somewhere new and exciting. Ironic, since I am going to an “I Hate ’08” party tonight, because I truly did not hate 2008. It’s been a remarkable year of new friendships, renewed friendships, discovering (or re-discovering) community, putting into practice all the hard lessons of 2007, learning to be vulnerable, remembering to give, to write, pray, to surrender, to create, to be still, to make time, to be completely present where I am, yet to plan and to dream. I’m not perfect and don’t claim to be–I cringe at the flaws but celebrate the growth. This year has been probably one of the most enjoyable and remarkable years of my life.

Part of me is bracing for the storm, because I know that this only a season, maybe even an aberration, but for now, the main theme in my heart is [unceasingly] gratitude.


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