A Year in Review - 2018
I blast through life like a high speed rail car, making stops along the way. f you don’t step on before the door closes, I will be a pinpoint on the horizon before you can mouth the word ‘fuck’ to yourself. Sometimes, I get lonely, but most of the time I feel so incredibly surrounded by love that it is intoxicating. I’m usually so focused on what I’m in the midst of and with planning the next thing that I very rarely take time to reflect. But I think that today is a good day for that so let’s talk about 2018…
I spent much of December 2017 and January 2018 with a lover of mine in San Diego. Days were spent relaxing and nights were filled with laughter, dancing, and good food. I shared space and time with this beautiful human, his partner, her boyfriend, and a newly sparked flame of mine (which quickly erupted into wildfire).
The truck I had driven out west that fall decided to quit on me in LA rush hour traffic which left me immobilized in San Diego trying to figure out my next move,and that folks, is when Bessie—my sweet chariot—came into my life.
the ‘95 Chevy G10 Van
Throughout this year, I have put such an incredible amount of work into this baby, I’ve practically been paying rent, but I’ve gotta say she’s been worth every penny.
Together, Bessie and I have crossed the country, coast-to-coast, five times. We’ve covered 37,000 miles. She’s escorted me to work at countless festivals all over the nation. I also got to attend Sterling Stage Folkfest, Saranac Lake’s famous Winter Carnival, and the New Orleans Jazz Festival. Bessie cruised through numerous National Parks including Glacier, Theodore Roosevelt, Yellowstone, Joshua Tree, Grand Teton, and probably more. It’s been really comforting having a hole that I can crawl into and feel like I’m home anywhere that I go. We’ve driven through thirty-four states this year (though I have visited thirty-seven), over countless mountains, to the trail heads of hot springs, over rivers, through forests and deserts, blizzards, windstorms, hail, and everything in between. Has she left me broken down on the side of the road (or in the middle of the highway) more times than I’d like to admit? Sure. But what meaningful relationship has never had to overcome hurdles?
Some notable trips that Bessie was so kind as to facilitate:
Joshua Tree with Joe “Reach For The Stars” Vela, the easy-to-love duo of Rike and Lexi AKA Rexi, Pat “Can’t Hold Him Back” Mahany, and Nolan “Shred Gnar” Langhammer.
Festival skipping with my darlings Aimee LaPlume, Kody Vicknair, and Cassidy Snider.
We packed SO MUCH gear into that van I’m surprised we didn’t bottom out in the Smoky Mountains. We covered a lot of ground and laughed a lot.
A trip to Lake Tahoe from Michigan with Nolan.
We went to a baseball game in Milwaukee on the 4th of July. Hiked through the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin. Hiked my favorite trail in Glacier National Park. Quickly breezed through Yellowstone Park and landed back where it all started, Tahoe.
And my last notable road trip of 2018 was the GIRLS TRIP with Kelsey Dunne and my darling niece, Brit Reisinger, from Rochester, NY to Olympia, Washington.
Brit and I set out from Rochester and headed to Pittsburgh for a night to visit my dear friend, Dante Villagomez. Then to Lafayette, Indiana to witness the beautiful union of my college roommate Grace to her now-husband, Holden Mugford. To Fort Wayne, IN for a night of dancing with my high school bestie, Sarah Colletta. Up to Chicago to pick up the hilarious Kelsey. Over to Madison, Wisconsin to visit the incredibly kind Rajaa Soleil, a friend I made while traveling the island of Puerto Rico. From there to Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota which was surprisingly impressive. I didn’t know what to expect there and it had a lot to offer. There’s a great gas station/store just outside the park in that little town there with an AMAZING selection of socks. From there to Bozeman, Montana to visit the forever-beautiful Tori Burchill (Check out her metal work! She’s currently making sterling silver sperm!) where I maybe ate a few too many mushrooms. Whoops.
From there we knew we needed to get to Seattle, but would need to break it up a bit. We planned to stay at a campground in Idaho that wound up being closed. This led to us blindly meandering Idaho country roads into the night with no cell service and only one headlight. We just so happened to stumble upon a group of very welcoming folks having a bonfire roadside that invited us to stay the night. We drank whiskey and wine and traded adventure stories with our new friends. I cooked up some stew on the camp stove to share with our unexpected hosts and in the morning, we were invited in for a hot breakfast. We all got to take much needed showers and we picked two grocery bags full of apples from the trees in the yard. We were sent away with squash, potatoes, onions, tomatoes, and full hearts. And that’s how we met our new Uncle Kent! (Sorry I made out with your girlfriend.) We finally made it to Washington where my darling niece fell in love with the city of Seattle. She is now researching establishments to further her education there.
Bessie is the only partner-in-crime that has ever been able to keep up with me and actually, come to think of it, that’s not right—I’m not taking her overseas with me next month and she also hung out at home while I gallivanted around Central America last winter. And speaking of Central America, let’s talk about that now…
Love In Warm Places
In January 2018, I fell in love with a boy named Nolan. Dumb love. Dumb, stupid love that threw me around and made me cry and question everything I thought that I knew about myself. But before we got to that part, it was...well, I’ll just quote another one of my posts here because I’ve already said it:
On February 22nd, we flew in to Panama City.
Over the course of two months, we made our way through the islands of Bocas del Toro in Panama, accidentally secured employment in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, and climbed numerous volcanoes in Nicaragua (even sledding down one of them). Those two months were filled with delicious street food, home-cooked meals, beautiful views, lots of Spanish, sex on the beach, jungles, rum, grimy hostels, swanky hotels, books, laughter, hiking, new friends, swimming in lakes, pools, and bed sheets, sloths, kayaking, lots of cheap beer, snorkeling, riding on boats, hand-holding on stone streets, pictures in front of large doors, and just carefree young love. Everything that I actually did in Central America has become a blur, but I’m not sure that I’ll ever forget the way that it all felt…
After the trip, I went to New Orleans for Jazz Festival with my dad and then I went back to New York to begin mapping out the next chapters of this life that I’m trying to live. Nolan went off to work on a farm in Nevada. We ached for one another until I took a last minute opportunity to work a festival in Vegas and flew out to spend a week with him. After that he quit his job and joined me on the road. We were basically carnies, traveling the U.S. in a van selling pizza to hippies at music festivals. We were in love and on drugs, dancing and fucking our way through the summer of 2018. But good luck being that high without it all eventually crashing down around you and leaving you in pieces, scrambling to pick yourself up and put it all back together again. We fell apart, lost our job and went our separate ways. And honestly, it’s still a struggle. It’s part of why I woke up sad on December 31st.
Now, I’m not going to sit here and pretend that this was once-in-a-lifetime love, because quite frankly, this wasn’t the first time that I met a boy, fell in love, and flew off to some foreign land hand-in-hand with him. I’m also aware that this won’t be the last time that I embark upon something so impulsive. I read something the other day that vaguely said, ‘meeting a person even for a moment is reason enough to do anything,’ and I have been tossing this over again and again in my head. Because what is a good reason to do anything. I think damn near any reason is a good reason. I went to the Apostle Islands in Wisconsin this year because a picture of it popped up on my laptop screensaver. I went to Iceland this year because my brother had vacation time he needed to use. And I told five-hundred people I loved them this year because any one of them might not be here tomorrow. I live for passion and connectivity and new experience and love. It’s the fire under my ass. It’s what makes me feel alive. But every time I have to say goodbye, it gets more and more difficult, because the deeper I get to know myself and the deeper I get to know others, the heartache cuts that much more. I feel it’s important that I remind myself that just because a chapter has ended, doesn’t mean it wasn’t a great read. And that you never know when an old character might resurface.
Don't let me forget to tell you about the music!
Part of what I did for work this summer brought me to festivals across the nation. Festivals such as Bonnaroo, Electric Forest, Lost Lands, Electric Daisy Carnival LV, Electric Zoo, Firefly, and what was supposed to be Phish’s Curveball festival. Working at these events allowed me to get paid to see live music.
It’s difficult for me to pinpoint who I saw where because this year has just been such a whirlwind but I’d like to mention some notable performances I got to witness this year: Sturgill Simpson, Eminem, Paul Simon, Joan Osborne, Wild Child, Turkuaz, The California Honeydrops, Dr. John, The Killers, Muse, Driftwood, Sheryl Crow, Paramore, The Revivalists, Bon Iver, Trombone Shorty, St. Paul & the Broken Bones, Pigeons Playing Ping Pong, Ryan Montbleau, Gramatik, The String Cheese Incident, Griz, Aqueous, Andrew Duhon, Lukas Nelson, Jack Johnson, Bonnie Raitt, Aretha Franklin, Big Freedia, Bonerama, Anders Osborne, Mike Dillon, David Byrne, Jon Batiste, Fruition, Tab Benoit, Petunia & The Vipers, Kermit Ruffins, Lionel Richie, Toots & The Maytals, Beck, Jason Isbell, the whole Neville Family, Tank & The Bangas (who if you haven’t seen, you should really check the hell out), Ruthie Foster, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Soul Rebels, my Philly-fantastic friends Tweed, The Motet, Donna The Buffalo, Better Than Ezra, The Nth Power, Aerosmith, Jack White, Steve Miller Band, Galactic, Swampcandy, Buddy Guy, and on and on and on and on...I can’t even remember all of them. These are just some names you might know. I don’t even have space in my brain to start listing off all of the wonderfully talented local musicians of WNY I got to support and musicians across the nation that I never got to learn the names of.
2018 was quite a year for music.
I formed an LLC
Hey Dude After Hours is a business that my father, Darren Gauger, has been laying the groundwork for for decades. Together we organize various family-friendly festivals on some of our family property in Hannibal, NY - The “G” Lodge. This business would not function without the help of so many of our friends and family. You know who you are and THANK YOU. We hosted three amazing community events this year that I’m very proud of. Folk City, Big “G” Jam, and The Fall Down. Stay tuned for 2019 events.
I managed a comedy festival
The Midwest Queer Comedy Festival is a floating festival focused on showcasing the voices of the LGBTQ community while raising money for local charities. Last year the festival was held in Columbus, OH and raised money for Equitas Health. This year the festival will be held in Louisville, KY which I am particularly excited about because I’ve been through Louisville three times only ever stopping for lunch. I’m looking forward to exploring the city a bit more.
Shout-out to all of the incredibly talented comics that traveled in from across the country to perform, and thank you to the festival producer and my dear friend Dwayne Duke for inviting me to be part of it all.
And if you’re saying to yourself, “But, Gabi! You’re not queer!”, you obviously don’t really know me that well.
sex toy princess
Remember Joe “Reach For The Stars” Vela from the Joshua Tree road trip? Well he isn’t just a pretty face from a slide show; he just so happens to be the CEO of the sex toy company that you all love hearing me talk about, Emojibator. Joe thinks I know how to sell a toy or two which is why he invited me back to work at the Sex Expo in NYC again this past year. Working this event got us guest-listed for an event at a sex club afterwards which I took full advantage of. A ‘Sexy’ story about that night is currently in the works so stay tuned!
But before I give you the pics, we’ve got a surprise for you, treat yourself to some good vibes at Emojibator and take 15% off at the checkout with promo code “GABIGOGOS”—Are you stoked? Yeah, me too.
An Object in Motion Stays in Motion
This year, minus a short stint tending bar in Costa Rica, eleven days in New Orleans for Jazz Fest, and a month on a farm in Oregon, I spent every weekend in a different place. Let that sink in for a little bit. Every week. A different city. A different state. If you do the math for every state I visited this year (37), and how many weeks there are in the year (52), that’s a different state every 1.4 weeks. That’s not including the ten weeks I spent visiting five countries outside of the United States this year. The amount of ground I covered this past year is remarkable. I literally don’t know anyone that has skipped around as much as I did in 2018. Even I am impressed with myself.
And I am very glad to say that in July I finally made it to Alaska, my fiftieth state.
I didn’t realize that visiting all fifty states would be a goal of mine until I got to thirty-eight a couple of years ago. States 38-46 rolled in pretty easily after that. I pushed myself to reach Maine last year (47). Then all I had to do was cartwheel across the Kansas/Missouri state line (48 and 49) and fly on up to Alaska. Done. Fifty.
If you’re interested in hearing more about Alaska, you’re welcome to read, or reread, my tale of not getting a free sandwich while I was there.
I decided I needed something else to chase so this summer I set out to become a 46er. What that means is that you’ve climbed all 46 High Peaks of the Adirondack Mountains. The peaks are all said to be 4000ft+ though some appear to have been suffering from osteoporosis, much like my grandmother Ruth, who used to be 4’11” and now comes in at a shiny 4’6”. I only made it to the tops of two this year, Cascade and Porter, and I figure if I stay going at this rate, I can hopefully finish them before I become a grandmother myself. Read more about the High Peaks and climbing them here.
Here’s my butt atop Porter Mountain.
You know what else I did this summer?
I FUCKING QUIT SMOKING
For real this time.
June 30th was the last time I took a puff off of a cigarette and it will be the last time. But the first time I pressed my lips to the filter of a smoke, I was twelve years old. By thirteen, I was stealing them from my mom and having my older friends buy me packs of Newports. I’d sell half of them to pay for the next one. The hustle is in my blood. This is back when they were five dollars a pack. I was smoking ten cigarettes a day. This went on throughout middle school. In high school, I was in the state system and foster care so rules were strict but I’d still find a way to sneak them. By the time I graduated high school I couldn’t wait to start smoking again. I smoked a pack a day. Twenty cigarettes a day. I struggled throughout college to tone it back. Sometimes I’d even quit for a few weeks, a month. But one night out drinking and I’d be outside the bar, bumming. I would tell myself it was fine if I was drinking. I’d tell myself it wasn’t smoking a cigarette if I only took a drag off a friend’s. I told myself all of the things to keep on puffing along. For the first half of 2018 I had been really struggling to quit. I would go almost a month, be so proud of myself, and then I’d mess up, smoke again, restart the clock.
A huge thank you to Nolan for all of his motivation in helping me to finally put the pack down. I really don’t think I would have done it without him reiterating how “fucking disgusting” it was, lol.
I also started running. About three miles on average, three times a week. And it feels amazinggggg. I took a hiatus in December because…well, because I was drunk all month. But I’m back at it again and feeling really great about it.
pot farms in the fall
When the leaves start to change, that’s typically my sign to pack up the whip and get a move on. I’m not a huge fan of cold, wet feet which is why I spend the winter months in warm places really far away from Western New York. But you can’t get out of town without some cash, which is why I make the great migration west to work on the pot farms. Trimmigrants. Is what they call us.
I’ve got a funny story about weed-trimming coming soon!
I almost forgot iceland
I did a small update on Iceland already so I almost forgot to mention it. But it was the fifth country I visited this year outside the U.S.—Panama, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Canada (I’m including it damnit! I go to Toronto all the time! And I spent New Years there) and ICELAND.
I thought that it would be funny to take pictures of my brother Ian taking pictures. And as it turns out, it was!
Bonus pic that I accidentally took of his shoes.
And a few more photos from the trip.
So Why was I drunk all of december?
December was spent with friends and family overindulging like I think many of us do around the holidays. I perhaps indulged more than I needed to however. I get excited to be back around my friends again and I try to cram too much into the day. I blacked out more times in December than I’d like to admit at twenty-seven years old and I damaged a couple of relationships that I care very much about as a result. If you’re saying, “Yeah, Gab, get that shit under control,” perhaps you didn’t know me from age seventeen to twenty-three because one month of drunken debauchery is the record low. When I woke up on Thursday, December 31st feeling somber and lonely, I decided it was a good idea to follow through with something I’d been thinking a lot about. I chose to start the new year out on a dry foot and to enjoy January without booze. And I chose to take some time to reflect upon everything that is great in my life, because there is a lot of it. I’ve got a lot on my plate right now, a lot that I’m really excited about and I’m using this month to write and be productive and just overall better my health. Mentally, physically, and emotionally.
And i just got this news!
I’m hoping to boot-scoot this tush over there within the next month!
To a well-balanced New Year.
OH! And follow me on Instagram! I’m going to fucking New Zealand - @gabigogos