all photos by Maria Gotay

Pandemonium: noun. wild uproar or unrestrained disorder; tumult or chaos. a place or scene of riotous uproar or utter chaos. the abode of all the demons. hell.

One year ago, the year of pandemonium began. It was nothing cosmic or mythic but everything terrestrial. Deforestation, overpopulation, geopolitics working together to pinball a virus across a planet, infecting the poor to the politicians. Total destruction at the end of a human breath.

In March 2020, we sheltered in place amidst a storm of emotions: disbelief, fear, confusion, panic, powerlessness, regret, despair. Those lightning bolts would strike us again and again in…


Meow Wolf has brought interactive arts to the world’s stage with the opening of OmegaMart inside of AREA15, an immersive warehouse of art experiences.


on a hopeful day in Sydney. photo by mitch o’hearn

I landed in Australia the day after Halloween with strobe lights still imprinted on my eyelids. The New York I had just left behind was fading into a black-peacoat winter while I stepped onto the diving board of summer. I squinted into the balmy southern hemisphere and 5 weeks on a continent I had wanted to explore for so long.

A twangy Australian accent had peppered my childhood. My Uncle, with whom we spent every thanksgiving, had immigrated to California from Queensland with my American Aunt in the 70s. …


photo by Brandon Barr

Burning Man is best-known for a few things: dust, debauchery, and one particularly dazzling fire. The Saturday night finale is an always-iconic and increasingly-ironic middle finger to corporate society, or “the man.” 80,000 watch in primal elation as the effigy collapses into flames.

By the time the embers have cooled, many have packed their bags and are on their way back to the “default world,” thoughts buzzing between the high points of the week and the long, hot shower ahead. …


Never doubt the power of the self-timer

Roadtripping alone through a new country, squinting at street signs typed in a foreign alphabet, shifting gears up narrow hills in a rented two-door. Google maps fading in and out, the buzz of the radio reduced to static, no co-pilot to double check the route. Sound like a nightmare? Welcome to my happy place.

Traveling solo can be all the things you imagine: confusing, dangerous, risky. But it’s a challenge that I’ve come to prioritize in my life.

One pair of footsteps starting into the unknown is a soundtrack rich with lessons & learnings. Tackling solitude in a new place…


“One of the great joys of life is riding a scooter through Vietnam,”

declared Anthony Bourdain, mouth probably half full of noodles and half full of exhaust fumes. That quote was very likely what planted the dream in my ex-boyfriend Logan’s heart to one day blaze up Vietnam: lush, open country ahead, the current a fishbowl of traffic, me, the rugged backpacker damsel in the sissy seat. A seed that blossomed into a motorcycle license and then a plane ticket to Asia where we were to spend 3 months exploring by land, sea, and shitty motorcycle. I planned the visas…


Nothing makes it easier, but if it’s possible to rebound from the sudden death of someone you love, you must be on the upswing.

Your adaptive body has revealed its defense mechanisms, physical manifestations of shock and devastation. But the ten pounds that stacked the curve of your hip have started to slide off the bone. A forest of baby hairs starts repopulating the bald patch near your temple. You look in the mirror and see someone who is healing.

Saying the words “My Brother passed away” has become a surreal routine your mouth performs. Every time the phrase takes…


If your only sibling was ripped away, gone without a goodbye, no longer your partner and confident for life, how would you cope? By digging in your roots, clinging to those who are left, letting the waves of pain rise, slowly but surely, until you’re washed away, too? Or would you rise above the tides, seeking solace in motion, to take your broken heart on a journey?

I waded for a while, then learned to float, allowing myself to be pulled along by the idea of a pilgrimage. I rode all the way to Pacific coast of Peru, to a…


You’re still receiving messages from friends for whom it took a while to get the news. Over the past weeks, you’ve absorbed almost everyone’s kind words, their Facebook messages are laden with heart emojis and phone numbers and offers to help in any way possible. But there are still those unopened laments that you can’t bring yourself to fully read just yet, like the one from your brother’s teenage crush, a girl writes she will never forget the first time she saw him.

Life confirms melodrama, and the days spent sobbing against foreign hotel floors proved to you, for the…


I woke up hours before my alarm on November 9th with a nervous jolt and the halo of a hangover. The night before came rushing back: going to an election celebration dance party with high hopes. Showing up to a silent dance floor and a wide-eyed crowd hovering around a screen. Biking home and seeing a chair fire in the middle of an empty boulevard. Nauseous waves of disgust, shock, and disbelief as I fell asleep, praying things would be different when I opened my eyes again.

But the results haven’t changed, and yet, everything has changed. Our country, the…

Maria Gotay

Writer, designer, traveler. www.mariagotay.com

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store