As some of you are aware, my family is very, peculiar. And composed of more humans than average. Hell, we made the Braintree Forum when little baby Mikey was born because we were that well known as the family that just wouldn’t fucking stop. (This true, my mother has it saved. It was titled, “Stork Brings a Baby Boy”)  But what you may not know is, my family is made up of not only my siblings but the outcasts my mother took in along the way and the many who were so unlucky to befriend myself or one of my many siblings and really just anyone who has ever in any way associated themselves with anyone in the Shanley family. The thing about my family is that we commit too easily, so once you’re a friend to any one of us, you’re sucked into this life long commitment that you never asked for.

So, a little background of my very unconventional, yet ever loving family; First we have the cult leader, my mother, known to some as Big Momma Kath. Without her, none of us would be the overbearing, clingy people we are. She is a woman of great strength, a little too loving and someone I will be forever fortunate to have ever known. Then we have my more motherly mom, lol, Rianna. Though technically she is the eldest sister of the bunch, being a fair amount older than the rest of us, she has taken in all of us cherubs as children of her own. (Which she claims has made her never want kids ever in her own life, i can’t understand why though. Who doesn’t want five kids by basically the age of 15??? And then doesn’t want more????) Rianna is my soul mate, idol and my biggest supporter. Next, we have Nick. Who, albeit not blood related, is and has been my older brother for as long as I can remember. He was one of the first people to think he could just date a Shanley and then not become an integral part of the family. Sucker, lol. He is a huge part of our life, being the older brother all of us wanted, and the one Mikey needed. Then, there is Albert. (This is really just getting started, I’m only half way through, so escape now if you need too.)  Who is a very dear friend of both Rianna and Nick and another older brother to the rest of the gang. He’s been around for too many years for me to count now, he lived with us for a year or so when he was 18, so he is an honorary member who survived all of our craziness. Back to my blood relatives, Kelcy. Kelcy is probably my mortal enemy who I later befriended in my older years when she decided she’d rather befriend me than ruin my life. So we tight now. Next we have the village idiot, Christa. Kidding, she’s not the dumbest Braintree has to offer, however, she has her moments. But she always has and always will have her beauty, so I digress. I’m next in line, but being the narcissist I am, you know who I am if you regularly keep up with this blog. Paige comes after I do, and she is basically a funnier, prettier version of myself. But whatever, I am not bitter. And finally, little baby Mikey. My best friend, and obviously my favorite sibling, fuck the rest of these guys. Never have I ever loved a human being as much I love him, he is everything I could have ever wanted him to grow up to be. Well, not everything, Emma Lynch and I were banking on him being gay, what with growing up with five sisters and a mother as his father figure, but alas, hetero. 😦 At least I know he isn’t a douchebag, so he has that going for him.

(Okay, done with that portion. I also just want it to be noted that these are my family members that are relevant to this post. I have many other people in my life which make up my obnoxious family, but they didn’t come on this trip.)

So, the reason for this post, my trip to Arizona. If you’re my friends from Braintree reading this, remember that time in seventh grade when I like went missing for two years?  But then I came back freshmen year after being presumably dead for the past tow years? And there were all these weird stories of me being in like Virginia, New Mexico or Arizona? Yeah, I went to Arizona. For reasons I shan’t address in this post because that is a story too long to tell now. Anyways, I moved there seventh grade and stayed for all of nine months. (Not to cover up pregnancy of one of my sisters, although it is a rumor I in fact started to spread because it was too funny.) We left, because we hated it, and thats really all you need to know about that for this story.

Some of you may know Nick as the former lead singer of the band, A Rocket to the Moon, and current lead singer of Beach Weather. Nick started that band many many years ago, and my family has been there to support him and also abuse his fame to allow us to do many cool things, meet insanely cool people and just live vicariously through him. A couple years ago, A Rocket to the Moon broke up to move on to new things. And let me tell you, nothing has or ever will break my heart more. Nick and his band had been my childhood. It was the only reason I was even remotely cool and with them deciding to go their separate ways, I no longer knew who I was as a person. So fuck them for making me go through an existential crisis at the ripe age of like 15. But anyways, a band called The Maine was approaching their 10 year reunion and decided to hold a little festival to celebrate not only themselves, but their friends who helped them along the way and also grew alongside them. And since the two bands started up together and grew up together, ARTTM was obviously going to be something people wanted to see at 8123 fest. My inhuman heart could not handle the news when Nick told us he’d be doing a reunion show with Rocket for the festival. I’m pretty sure everyone in the fam shed at least a single tear. However the show was in Arizona, but that was not going to stop the fucking Shanley family. (It probably should have the stopped us though, we are a very poor family who likes to live like we are not poor.)

So, every one of us saved up every dime nickle and penny to save up the money to go. (Big Momma Kath couldn’t come, as my Nana and Papa needed her and she wouldn’t leave them) Except Mikey, the fucking freeloader is too young for a job, so he was paid for by Rianna, the lucky bastard. And we decided that if we’re going for broke on this trip, we were gonna fucking go for broke baby,. So Rianna decided to make it a little road trip too. We were going to fly out to Arizona Friday night, go to the festival on Saturday, then on Sunday we’d drive out to the grand canyon and go to Vegas for the night. We’d be back by Monday night. All this traveling in a 7 passenger van with 8 people plus all of our luggage, and Nick’s guitars. Here’s how it all played out.

Friday: Nick had already flown out a day before us as to rehearse and such. Which left, Rianna, Albert, Kelcy, Christa, Paige, Michael and myself to all fly out together on Friday night. Rianna is a flight attendant so we got to get tickets really cheap for our flight but we were also the suckers in the back of the plane near the bathrooms. But it was cool, I can’t complain as my ticket was virtually the cost of nothing. We got into Arizona at like 8 (9, 10ish?? I don’t remember.) And were all very tired so we headed to the hotel, we had a big day the next day, we aren’t lame, we’re wise. Kelcy, Paige and myself shared a bed, with Rianna and Christa on the pullout couch in one room. And Mikey and Albert were in another room sharing a bed. We weren’t paying for luxuries here, however many we could fit in a bed were in a bed together.

Saturday: 8123 Fest didn’t start till around noon or a little after I believe, so we had a little time to blow before we went to it. And since we were back in the place we once lived, we decided to go back and see our old haunting grounds. We lived in a little place called the Ahwatukee Foothills, where every house looks the same and you’re surrounded by dirt and cacti. In order to get to our house you have to drive down a very long road called Pecos Road until you reach the very end, driving alongside nothing but dirt and cacti and occasionally a grouping of homes. It’s extremely scenic though, as we are very close to the mountains. You know that feeling when you go back to a place that means a lot to you and it feels very nostalgic and cathartic? Yeah, that didn’t happen for me when I got back there. Nothing had changed there and neither did my feelings for the place, but it was cool to see it again, it was a major year for myself and my family. After that, we went and grabbed food at a dog themed restaurant, which was so odd. Then we headed to the festival. The bands that preformed were huge parts of my life, as Nick and Rianna had made them, and it was so cool to see them all in the same place. There were The Summer Set, The Technicolors, This Century, the Maine, Beach Weather and obviously, A Rocket to the Moon. It was awesome to see such great bands preform together in the same place, but nothing compared to seeing Rocket preform for the first time in so many years. (I remember when Nick first told us that Rocket was breaking up, and seeing them preform together for what I thought would be the last time four years ago.) I was standing with my whole family, Rianna, Albert, Kel, Chris, Paige and Mikey towards the back of the crown waiting anxiously to see Rocket together one last time. It was, embarrassingly, one of the most emotional moments of my life. I felt like I was a kid again, and I remembered all the fondest memories I have associated with Rocket. Being back in Braintree, bouncing on my trampoline with Emma Lynch listening to the On Your Side album, going to Summers’ End concerts with Rianna as a kid and just everything Rianna and Nick had helped make my childhood to be. Watching Rocket preform again felt as if they had never broken up and everything in my family was still the same, we would never change. We would always be the same insane family, and we would always be too close with each other for comfort. We would be overbearing in each others’ lives and always be exactly what we all needed each other to be. But at the same time, as Rocket kept playing, I looked at my family and saw that in fact we have all aged. We weren’t the kids who lived on Lisle Street anymore, we would all eventually go in different directions, as Nick had with Rocket, and it was a very bittersweet moment for me. Even though I know we can’t be kids together forever, we will always be a family, no matter what. Every single one of us shed a tear while watching Nick preform, Christa, being the dramatic one, cried an embarrassing amount though. After Rocket, The Maine closed the show and it was once again a very heartfelt moment for me and my family. They preformed songs I had listened to growing up and that had meant so much to me. At one point my family and I had formed a conga line of sorts with our arms wrapped around each other singing the lyrics to We’ll All Be and it was the silliest thing ever but also one of my favorite memories I have from this trip. At the end of the night we went to In and Out as a family, and spent too much money. We had too many people that we couldn’t sit together but we divided our group up into parts and still had fun.

Sunday: On Sunday, we had to wake up bright and early in order to get in our road trip for the day. I had made a playlist for the road trip, it being like 12 hours long. (I came too prepared. But check it out if you want to!!! It’s on spotify, called 8123, by madison.shanley) The drive was incredible. Every time you looked out the window you would see an endless view of mountains, cacti and just wilderness. And that was only the first half of the drive. About an hour and half into the drive the view changed dramatically with snow. It was incredibly beautiful and breathtaking. Being the Shanley family, we are known for our incredible bad luck, and due to all the snow we saw, the Grand Canyon was closed. :))) And that was just awesome. I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself, you lived in Arizona and never saw the grand canyon? Yes, we were too poor to travel to the canyon, okay?!! And we traveled all this way back to see it and we couldn’t. But it’s alright, I’m not bitter. We got to see the Hoover Dam, at least, so it was cool. And besides, we were going to Vegas baby!!!! The whole drive was very long and pretty uncomfortable, but when we got to Vegas, that was all forgotten. Now, we all couldn’t gamble, obviously, but just seeing the casino and the fucking mall within our hotel was enough to keep us preoccupied for the night. But Nick, Rianna, Kelcy and Albert gambled. However, only Albert won, so he treated for dinner. (A dinner which I did not attend as a little fight broke out with some family members who shall remain nameless. But I mean, we had all beem cooped up in a car together for so long so tensions were running high. So I didn’t go to dinner but ate with Paige and Rianna in our room.) The view from our hotel rooms were INSANE. You could see the whole vegas stip as the window extended from the ceiling to the floor. Once the night came to an end, we went off to sleep.

Monday: The next day Paige, Mikey and myself went home, as we all had school to go to, lol. But everyone else went to Disney Land. Which, I am bitter about. But whatever. And that was the trip, very eventful, very emotional. Everything I expected.

A few days after everyone got home, I was in my dorm when Rianna began to facetime me at like 11 at night. And I am  a lame human so I was basically ready to go to bed but I decided to pick up the call thinking it must be important if she was facetiming me at an hour so late, lol. When I pick up the call an image appears on my screen of a ring on Rianna’s finger and it was late, so I was confused. She was at home with my mom, all of my siblings and my nana and papa. I didn’t understand what was happening as there was a lot of commotion but finally Rianna told me that Nick had proposed to her. And oh my gosh, the tears immediately began streaming down my face. Nick and Rianna have been dating for almost the entirety of my life, and even though I knew he was going to be my family forever I was not expecting to him propose. And it was a beautiful moment for my family. I mean it was more beautiful for Rianna and Nick because it’s really between the two of them, but we all live vicariously through them so we’ll make it about the whole family and not just them. Although I am bitter I wasn’t with all of them, I can’t tell you how stoked I am that they’re engaged. I love them both with all of heart and am so stoked for their future and my future with them, as I am basically their child. Anyways, that was basically the greatest week of my life, and I’ll probably never be as happy because that was like a years worth of happiness in one week. I love my crazy family, even though sometimes I hate them.

I can understand if majority of you didn’t make it through this post. It was a lot to take in and you probably couldn’t care less. But if you did read it all, you now know more about my family than you’ll ever need to and you’re practically an honorary member of my family now. Till next time my friends.


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