Mi Año in Review

As January keeps rolling, and 2017 starts up, I’ve been going over the last year a lot; the good, the bad, and the ugly. Almost everyone I know has been looking forward to the end of the dreaded 2016, and who can blame them?? I think it’s safe to say that we lost more talent and passion in 365 days than we had in at least half a decade, and it really hurt. We also somehow turned our already fragile political system into a 3-ring circus courtesy of one Donald Trump. {Jesus Christ on a bike, really??} Thankfully, I was delirious with a cold during the elections and somehow found it humorous, until of course I felt better and realized the gravity of the American peoples’ situation. So yes, 2016 was definitely a struggle.

My personal 2016 wasn’t the easiest by any stretch, but I do have to say it was one of the best years I’ve ever experienced. Maybe that’s because I was in a new city, hell, a new country. Maybe it was because I’d spent the previous 3 years in a tumultuous relationship that ended in divorce. Maybe it’s because after 6 ½ years of doing the same job, in the same town, with the same people, being part of the same disgusting gossip, I was finally in a place where I could express myself without consequence and feel appreciated as a person.

In the last year, I had so many moments of ‘yes’, it was incredible. As I’ve mentioned before, I helped with TedX talks that the incredibly talented Klaudia Oliver brought to San Miguel. In fact, that happened just over a year ago. From that event, I met many people who I couldn’t imagine my life without. I’m excited to see what this year’s talks have in store for us.

As the year kept going, I was also asked to be the subject of a short film by Gianluca Fellini, a close relative of the iconic Italian director, Federico Fellini. The experience was ethereal, erotic, heady, and sensual. There were four of us that worked on it that day, and it brought us closer in a way I’ve never felt before. Here’s a link to see the incredible, final product.

From there, I began working with an amazing artist in town who opened doors for me with other creatives. While I hadn’t been able to attend the workshop put on by Guillermo Gomez Pena of La Postra Nocha fame {holy hell, check out the site}, an imaginative and thought-provoking performance artist, I was asked to bar tend the event, allowing me the chance to be a small part of the creation. At one point in the evening though, Guillermo asked me to join his creation. I was of course thrilled, and jumped at the chance. {Here’s an image of that moment taken by Estaban Betancort, proprietor of the future Brooklane B & B, opening in San Miguel summer 2017.} The night was so beautiful and so freeing.

Soon after, my fantabulous friend JoAnna made the trek down to visit me. Rather than do the same old thing in San Miguel, we had the opportunity to go to Mexico City with some girlfriends for a weekend of Chopo Tianguis {a punk-rock open market} and city clubs. It was our first time in a hostel {I know, wtf??}, and while our ages ranged from 27-34, we acted like a bunch of teenagers and almost got kicked out/arrested. It was a blast! I was so happy I got to experience the weekend not only with new, strong lady-friends I’d made, but also with a bestie from the States. {Let’s do it again soon, babe!}

Not everything was unicorns and rainbows. In about the middle of the year, there were a few events that could easily go under the ‘fuck that’ file. I lost two very good friends of mine in less than a month of each other. The pain was practically unbearable, but in each situation, I found myself surrounded by people who were ready to drop anything to make sure I was ok. It was a bittersweet experience, knowing that I’d lost two friends, but had in fact gained many more. I know they’d be relieved that I wasn’t alone. Some people retreat into themselves when faced with death; I am terrified of being solo. For me, the silence grows louder, and I’m free to hear ALL my thoughts and dwell on the sadness. Fortunately, I didn’t have to go through that.

Regardless of the support I had, it took me far too long to get back to my old self. For a few months I was very self-destructive and those closest to me (and not that close) were concerned for my well-being. Rather than get in my face and tell me what they felt was right and wrong, they were just there for me, gently letting me know they understood and were ready for me, when I was ready for me. There were many tears of gratitude during the lucid moments I realized that everything would indeed be alright.

*Shudder* What a fucking strange time that was.

Ok, as the year was winding down, I had the pleasure to see two of my favorite people tie the knot in a gorgeous ceremony in Sacramento, CA. {Congratulations again, Aaron and Erika Nunley, the most loving and beautiful couple I’ve ever known!} This was a special experience that I won’t soon forget. And my hair was

Some happy friends of the gorgeous bride

Next in the month of October, I was asked to help produce Spencer Tunick’s shoot during La Calaca, a rip-roaring good time here in San Miguel that celebrates along with Dia de Muertos, and many of its traditions. I had never really done anything like it before, and while it was a challenge, and I most likely messed up here and there, it was nonetheless thrilling. Working with Spencer Tunick was a treat. The man is beyond talented, and never made me feel like an idiot, although I’m sure he had plenty of opportunities. This is one of my favorite images from the shoot taken by the equally talented Cedric, who acted as our behind-the-scenes photographer on that amazing day:

Helping the Models Through the Burs – by Cedric

This was also my first year to have an official Catrina face painting, and I went all out with my gorgeous cousin Sophia {who I only met for the first time in 2016 as well!!!}. In fact, I’ve met quite a few new relatives in San Miguel that I never even knew about. I’ve felt quite connected, even we don’t see each other all too often. Part of the reason I chose to move to Mexico was to get to know this side of my family better, so that’s a big goal for 2017!

Sophia & Barbara, Love at First Sight

The rest of the year went by and was just as amazing. There was Friendsgiving with the enigmatic Van Dorens, then actual Thanksgiving with them as well. Christmas followed closely and I went to Mexico City to spend it with my dad’s favorite little sister {mi madrina}, and her family. I also met friends of family over the holidays who I can now call my own.