Tea’s Weird Year: Here’s What I did in 2022 (and 12 Things I Want Myself to Remember)
2022 was quite a year. It was often challenging. Challenging doesn’t necessarily mean bad. I pushed myself, I won some, lost some, and a couple times landed in-between. I don’t think I’m qualified to give anyone life advice but I’ve put some key points from this year in bold as notes to myself on lessons learned and appreciated this year or things I should remember to be grateful for. I’ve also linked to relevant articles, blog posts, etc.
In January, my friend Paul Kjelland asked if I wanted to jump in the van and road trip with him to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Yes, I did. I thought Santa Fe was beautiful and I checked out some interesting stuff. Santa Fe is mostly adobe style houses and many people hang bunches of dried red chile peppers on their porch to celebrate New Mexico’s status as “Chile Capitol of the World.” Dishes with chile sauce are popular in Santa Fe. You can get a red chile sauce or a green one, I recommend getting “Christmas” style, a mix of both. That trip was the only out-of-state travel I did in 2022, but I do believe there is more in the future. (1.) Traveling to new places and seeing how people live their lives there is important.
I wrote a total of 67 articles (for various publications) and Tea’s Weird Week columns in 2022 (yes, I kept a list). I had a feature article in the February issue of Milwaukee Magazine titled “Fishy Business” (note: I’m referring to all articles by the title they had in the print version, those often get tweaked or changed completely for the web version) It was about the thin line that makes the sale or barter of sturgeon eggs illegal. The Sconnie Crimes Unit: dees are dem der stories. But seriously, I had no idea and found the entire story to be fascinating, everything from the family traditions involved to the number of cars that fall through the ice every year to the hilarious difference in how caviar is presented in the Lake Winnebago area versus some fancy restaurant (Lake Winnebago: a Ritz cracker with a smudge of cream cheese and a cheap beer). (2.) Look for interesting stories you’re not aware of in your own back yard.
“Visibly Indigenous” was a feature for the March issue of Milwaukee Magazine. It was honor to write. In talking with my editor, Chris Drosner, my goal was clear– (3.) Shut up and listen. I am grateful to Chris and the rest of the Milwaukee Magazine staff for their faith in me to do a good job with a story.
There were two seasons of Tea’s Weird Week podcast in 2022, one that ran late January through early April and another that went late June through early September. Many weird news items were examined and interesting people were interviewed. Thanks to my co-host Heidi Erickson, sound engineer Android138, trivia host Miss Information, and all our guests and listeners. We got a holiday/end of year special that will be out next week but I’m not sure when a new season might roll out.
Ghost tours started up in May. This year, besides freelancing, my gainful employment was leading tours for American Ghost Walks and filling in some odd shifts at Lion’s Tooth (a great bookstore here in Milwaukee). (4.) I greatly appreciate working for people who have businesses I am glad to support and who treat me kindly and fairly.
More favorite Milwaukee Magazine articles– “The Last Fisherman of Washington Island” (June) and “The Last Frame” (July) which both kinda sound doomsdayish, but they’re not. I enjoyed my visit to Washington Island and the more familiar environs of the Falcon Bowl. I also wrote an article on infamous Milwaukee prankster Mark Gubin and am working on another project or two in different mediums to tell his story. (5.) It is good to enjoy what you are working on.
August through September was a dark period for me, not going to lie. I think it took me awhile to figure out why, but one factor was I finally got COVID in August. There was also some work stress, lost work, and rejection and other bad shit. Normally I probably would have pushed through like a hammerhead, but I think the COVID put me in a bad mental state. I was in bad shape there and I know a couple people might have been worried about me. Sorry! (6.) I’m trying to learn that sometimes failure is inevitable and you just got to pick yourself up and keep going.
It was around this time that this Tea’s Weird Week column went into a hiatus mode for the most part. I was too zapped to do a weekly column. That’s ok. I’m going to reevaluate the Tea’s Weird Week column in the New Year to see how it might move forward. After that rough period, there was a lot to do, so I got back to work… Milwaukee Paranormal Conference happened October 15-16. Overall, I think there’s a good handle on this event now. This was our third year at Alverno College. American Ghost Walks and our great volunteers helped a lot. (7.) I’m trying to learn to be better about asking for help when I need it.
I’m producer on a documentary titled “I’m Your Host” based on a 2021 article I wrote. Alicia Krupsky is the director, other fantastic people are involved, too. We applied for a Brico Forward Fund grant and found out in October that we won! That will help make sure we have the right resources to get it done. Alicia showed me part of the edited doc the other day and it’s really coming together well. (8.) It’s great to meet solid collaborators who share your vision.
It’s weird because this has been the first year in the last ten years that I’ve not been signed to some book deal. There are things in the works. Me and co-author Jenny Sanchez are working on a travel guide together titled Paranormal Road Trip. Looking forward to working on that more this coming year. I got a couple other book ideas, but I’ll keep those on the down low for now. (9.) It’s good to have future goals.
Pretty cool– I tabled at a few fun events around the state this year– conferences, bookstores, events, and sold my books. I was a guest on several podcasts and radio shows this year and was featured, albeit pretty briefly, on an episode of 99% Invisible in November for an episode that talked about the Real Life Superhero movement. Nice to know my first book, Heroes in the Night, published almost ten years ago, still gets talked about sometimes.
And then BAM, Milwaukee Krampusnacht on December 4. This year was a leap of faith. It was a lot of work, the biggest event I’ve produced so far. To be honest, it was a little terrifying. Was it possible? Would we make our money back? Would we get permits in time? Would people attend a second-rate Knockoffnacht instead?
It ended up being an incredible collaboration between artists, performers, musicians, vendors, and all sorts of wonderful weirdos all helping and participating. There were some places for improvement, but overall a huge success I’m happy with that we can build on next year. Big stuff ahead for Krampusnacht. I will be putting together a Planning Committee– more info on that next month if you’re interested. (10.) We must (and will) continue to kick ass! Atlas Obscura wrote a great article about the event here: www.atlasobscura.com/articles/what-is-krampus
Sadly, it seems every year, I have to say good-bye to someone. Linda S. Godfrey was a wonderful paranormal researcher and author I got to meet while working on my book Monster Hunters. She was a Milwaukee Paranormal Conference guest speaker and I last saw her a couple years ago (2019) when I lead a discussion about her (last) book I Know What I Saw at Boswell Books. Jann Goldberg— another paranormal investigator I met while working on Monster Hunters, one of the funniest people I’ve met, also passed away, as well as my friends EB Brown and Sarah Danger Underhill. I wasn’t very close to either of those last two in recent years as they had moved out of state, but I have fond recollections of hanging out with both. (11.) I was fortunate enough to meet these people and they will live on in my memories.
Thanks to everyone who has participated and supported me, my weird life, and various projects this year. I’m looking forward to seeing what 2023 has in store for me, to keep learning, keep working on personal growth, and keep dreaming.
First up for 2023 is cleaning and organizing my office– it’s a mess because I was so busy with events that I just threw stacks of paperwork, boxes, and books on my desk, shelves, wherever I could stuff it without causing an avalanche. I also need to organize my plans, my calendar, and my mind. I’m listening to an audiobook with Kate, Work Clean: The life-changing power of mise-en-place to organize your life, work, and mind by Dan Charnas. Mise-en-place (“putting in place”) originates from the culinary world and refers to properly preparing and organizing. In a kitchen that’s having a station set up with all the ingredients and utensils in place and ready to go, as well as being physically and mentally prepared so you’re not running around the kitchen in a panic. Charnas applies this to other professions in his book, and I’ve found his lessons insightful. And so, my last note to myself from 2022 is: (12.) Get your damn mise-en-place ready to go for 2023 cause it’s gonna be a big one.
I think that’s all I have to say or want to say about this year. I hope you have a happy Krampusnacht, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, Yule, Boxing Day, Saturnalia, New Year’s, or whatever holidays you choose to celebrate.
Krulos Central Station, Dec. 21, 2022