2011 is, as people say, "one for the books". This year has been… Hmm. I'm not exactly sure how to finish that sentence. Yes, there's a plethora of words to choose from, and while they would fit the part, they wouldn't entirely do justice. Looking back at the year, and everything that has happened, I'm not sure there's any other way to say than to just tell it like is.
This has been one hell of a fucking year.
I woke up on January 1, 2011 no longer co-owning a business I ran for the previous two years, plus some. No doubt about it, this was the best way for me to start off the year. The time spent with this business, while successful in many aspects, was also the darkest days of my life. I was in a bad place. Physically, mentally, emotionally, financially, creatively… To put it bluntly, this time broke me. It shattered who I was. It wasn't pleasant and wasn't how I wanted to spend my time. After much internal debates and struggles, I knew what I had to do, and there was no doubt about it. I needed to wash my hands clean and regain my life.
By stepping away from my business, that allowed me to spent 100% of my time working on Dead Weight, the film I co-wrote/directed with one of my best buddies, Adam. Now, I could go into a detailed breakdown of how I spent my time, and go on and on about the experience it's been making Dead Weight, that would undoubtedly get stupidly wordy. Let's just say this, for the first time in my life, I feel like I am doing what I am meant to do. Yes, I have long days, get burnt out and frustrated, but when I step back and assess my situation, I am doing what I've dreamt of my entire life, making a full length film, and there aren't words to describe that feeling. Without a doubt, the worst days I've had while doing what I love are still better than the best days doing what your heart isn't in.
Through Dead Weight, I've had the honor of working with some of the best individuals I've ever had to chance to, strengthened established friendships and created new ones. I learned first hand (even though it's something I've always believed) that if there is something you want to do, the only thing that can prevent that from happening is you. If there's something you want, no matter what that might be, just fucking go for it. I know it sounds cliche and generic as all hell to say it, but there's a reason it's cliche to say. There's a reason why people say it all the time, because it's true! The opening line to The Descendents' "Global Probing" comes to mind…
Aside from Dead Weight, another huge part of this year was spent with the Time Community Theater, a non-profit and volunteer-based theater in Downtown Oshkosh that I help run. This was my second full year being on the board, and what a year it was. Friday Fright Night ran every other Friday from April through September, just like last year. What differed from last year is the success it was. Now, I'm not saying last year was not successful, it most certainly was. This year, though, things got even crazier. Our average attendance doubled, tons of new faces came in, we celebrated Vincent Price's 100th birthday, and most importantly, continued to bring the theater back to life. While the second Oshkosh Horror Film Festival was incredible, as well, the highlight of the year was bringing The Rocky Horror Picture Show back to Downtown Oshkosh for the first time in over 20 years. Things got stupid (in the best possible way) that night, and we can't wait to bring the vulgarity, transsexuality, dancing, singing and throwing back to thew aisles next year.
And let us not forgot dancing, singing and sweating in the crowd during The Suicide Machines set at Riot Fest Chicago. I'm not one for large venues, especially when it comes to punk rock shows, but there was no passing up seeing my favorite band for the first time in six years since they broke up. While I was excited about The Descendents performing, I was also somewhat skeptical. Let's face it, Milo went to college a LONG time ago. This is where I eat my words. The Descendents fucking killed it, and (rightfully so) get the spot for best live show I saw in 2011.
Know how you're getting older? Friends keep getting married. In less than three months, I went to six weddings. Needless to say, that's a lot of dancing. Honestly, though, I am honored I got to be a part of my friend's lives, and the start of their new lives together.
While this year had a ton of ups, there was also plenty of downs. To start things off, money. Fuck, I hate money. And this years marks the least amount of money I've ever had. Adam or I had to make a serious commitment to working on Dead Weight full-time in order to make it happen, and I was in a better position than him to do so (and completely willing). I was well aware of the situation I was facing when I made the decision, and knew what could happen. Not having a paying job for (at least) a year is a huge gamble, but necessary for what we wanted to do. It's been a difficult year. Everyday I feel the stress of being completely broke, and not knowing how I'll pay bills next month, or having money to do "fun things". I do my best not to let it get me down too much, as there are so many other things in life to focus on than how broke I am. Let's just say it's a good thing I have no issue with eating oatmeal and beans just about everyday.
This year also brought loss, on a personal level and non-directly. Loss is never a pleasant thing to experience, and sometimes it's harder than you let on. I've always been one to hide my feelings and shove emotions into the corner. Not something I'm proud about, but something that I've become really good at. With having the film to focus all my attention on, my emotions were squashed away, but they sure surfaced at times.
Lastly, one of the worst parts of 2011 was all the time I missed with my friends. This was an incredibly busy year for me, and I was completely submerged into everything that is Dead Weight, and my social life was a big victim. I say this now, and please know it's nothing but genuine and sincere: My friends are my family. You mean the world to me and I love you endlessly. I by no means wanted to be MIA so much this year, it was nothing personal. Just know that the reason I've been gone is a positive one, it's going to result in something (I hope to be) great. You all have been extremely supportive, and I can't thank you enough.
I suppose that wraps it up for now, and for this year. There's plenty of things I didn't cover in here. Not because they weren't as important or weren't worth sharing. Rather I figured I already occupied enough time of yours, and I thank you for that. I've had some of the best experiences in my life in 2011, and only hope that 2012 will bring even better things.