Tag Archives: Burning Man

Crashe’s 40th – Riding until the wheels fall off.

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Then there was Crashe’s 40th birthday. Oh lordy.
With mine having just been on the 8th and her ex’s in Feb as well, we ended up being birthday backup dancers also with undertones of it being my last hurrah before a year abroad. Well, for what was planned to be a year. As long as the health issues I was semi-hiding didn’t get me booted. That or being a wild child in a conservative country.

My original plan had been to spend a few hours a day with her and work around it. To stay in San Francisco at the hotel she booked as my own little staycation and because it would make it easier to be in the thick of it with her.
It was a struggle to be back and forth across the state so much in such a short amount of time but I managed to jam back to SF from San Diego on the 13th. Driving through the beautiful snow-covered overpass on the San Gabriel mountains and getting texts from Crash and her man as they started painting the town red kept me entertained during the long drive at least. They were cracking me up as I made that nine hour journey, him giving me the play-by-play of her chatting everyone up at the bar after the drinkies had gotten her nice and lubed.
Finally making it to our friend Eve’s in Petaluma (actually about an hour north of San Francisco) for the first couple nights, it was the beginning of what was to be the biggest event with burners outside of the actual burn that I had ever been a part of. I was going to have a damn hard time keeping up through the whole thing but it meant a lot to me. Besides the reasons already mentioned, because it was likely that I wouldn’t make it to the burn that summer. We didn’t know yet that it wasn’t going to happen anyway thanks to Covid.
I was exhausted though still excited to see my friends when finally getting there just after 10 PM. Doing my best to follow Crash as she told us booze-fueled stories and occasionally went on confusing rants about not telling her dude anything about Thunderdome (she wanted to keep it a surprise), it was already chaos. Good times and lots of laughs regardless of feeling shitty physically. Years of insomnia were working in my favor for once.

Not quite refreshed the next morning, it was still relaxing to wake up to the beautiful rolling hills of Eve’s neighborhood. Taking a video of the ladder I made for Ish as my first piece of playa art, our crew was soon to head out for lunch and sight-seeing. Originally thankful I didn’t have to be the driver, I soon regretted it as I got carsick sitting in the back seat of the truck while Blackbird drove. It also wouldn’t take long to be cringing about our inadvertently stopping and blocking other drivers throughout the day.
Later that night in the middle of nowhere, we got pulled over for expired tags and rolling through a stop sign. The cop didn’t give us too hard of a time though. Blackbird had probably indulged in one too many but was still more chill than the rest of us. He looked older than the three of us in the back (he had white hair and I still looked like I was in my twenties) so I was guessing that the officer figured him to be the responsible one taking care of us. That or maybe he decided that it wasn’t worth dealing with since there were five of us. Whatever the reason, we were going back and forth after between reprimanding ourselves and cracking up as Crash made jokes. I can’t remember her exact words but something along the lines of “oh, you’re all doing body-bumps and tequila shots without seat belts, have expired tags and blew through a stop sign going 30 miles over the speed limit? That’s no big deal. So sorry for pulling you over and wasting your time, sir. My bad.” The worse the scenario she made up, the funnier it got.

Back to the day before that happened, Eve and Blackbird took us to lunch in her quaint little town and on a gorgeous (albeit windy) drive along the lush seaside cliffs, ending with a stop at a lovely spot at the beach. I was still so tired (and a little carsick) that I stayed in the truck to nod off but at least got an occasional peek through the window. Then we headed to a dock where one of our campmates that Crash had a special bond with snuck up on her dressed in the disguise of a crotchety old man that we would after tease him had looked like an aged version of a member of Motley Crew. Excited to go out on his boat, we at least made it for sunset before it started smoking and we had to go back to get the ‘ol girl docked with help from the neighbors. The symbology to life wasn’t lost on that one.
After that, it was time to finally make it to the hotel in SF for the packed pre-party and to get ready for one hell of a big night complete with the beginning of Crashe’s campaign to ensure that my cat-eye eyeliner was always on fleek. An odd obsession but it would keep me pretty entertained and give me a little of the warm and fuzzies of someone actually paying attention to my small details.
Then there was our night out. Holy shit. Somewhere around a dozen of us went to the Big Booty Mashup where even more joined for a fantastic show that was a mix of performers somewhere who were a mix of drag queens who were amazingly trained pole dancers, singers, aerialists and I guessed at some point a member of dance troupes. Some of them were so good, I thought them to be on the level of Cirque Du Soleil. I missed a lot of it, though, thanks to being so overwhelmed by the packed hyped crowd that I was hiding at the bar. Chatting up the bartender, I didn’t realize that an Aussie with a big ‘ol smile who excitedly came up to say hello was our friend. Not recognizing him without facial hair, I had thought he was just some random hot guy being friendly and fun. It was the vibe, after all.
Usually a sweetie of good standing, it didn’t take him long to make out with a chick in front of another in our group who he was then seeing at the time. He had been pretty devastated after recently separating from his wife. Not cool but it could be forgiven considering. What I could have killed him for, however, was my ending up being the one to take our gal in all her jaded glory (abrasiveness and aggressive personality, as she will proudly tell you) under my wing to calm and comfort until sunup. Thanks, buddy.
Six of us “slept” there but we didn’t get in trouble until the next night when our buddy snuck his dog in after Crash had given the green light. I talked to the manager who was sad-upset, making me feel like a lying asshole when saying so unconvincingly that the pup had just stopped by. Life goes on but it would be a long time (if ever) until I stopped feeling like an jerk for that one. Rough reminder that I wasn’t a liar. Another way I tried to pitch in was by paying for all the Lyfts throughout the week. It felt empowering since I was usually the broke one, though ouch. Expensive enough on it’s own, I was tipping fat for drivers putting up with our crazy-asses and because I didn’t want bad ratings on my account. I deserved them but somehow still lucked out and ended the week without my passenger account in jeopardy. It would be a surprise but maybe the drivers actually found us to be full of chaotic amusement. From my end, it was pretty funny to think back on all of us clowns crammed into those cars we had turned into our clown cars, me trying to chill everyone out with no success.
Our friend Goat hosted a party the next night at the house of burners she was watching (with their permission) before and after going to an event in Oakland. She loved the opportunity to be queen and I loved the friendly kitten at the house, Tyrone. What I didn’t love was the packed event with EDM pumping in every room. Then there was Disney karaoke. We had started it as a fluke at our friend Bacon Daddy’s own birthday party not too long before and had so much fun there that we were giving it another go. Alas, as I more than half expected, it had lost it’s magic. Especially after Crash earned her name when crashing into a plastic kitty box and a random chick, insecure and slightly arrogant, began bragging about her singing abilities along with how she did it for a living before taking the mike and clearing the room. From then on, Crash would be belting out “Let It Go” at the top of her lungs as tune-deaf as she could.
The next day was her actual b-day. Later laughing about how Goat told us to do a moop sweep the following morning and then talked Crash and her man into doing yard work she was going to get paid for, I helped for an hour and then took off to work and get some de-stimulation time in for a couple hours. F all that nonsense.
Feb 18th
Date Day Hoax! Probably my favorite day. Well, maybe not the first half when I had to go to Oakland to take care of paperwork for the teaching gig and to get a car window replaced that had been busted out on a cute street lined with shops and restaurants by our hotel. Lame but at least nothing got stolen and I got it taken care of pretty fast. Not fast enough to get through traffic and over the bridge in time to say goodbye to her man before he flew out, though. It was just the two of us for the first time from there. Instead of Sex The City, we were the Duo of Destruction.
After some beautiful nature time hiking in Golden Gate Park, we headed to the Haight. Walking the streets stopping at countless thrift stores, we then went to eat at my sister’s favorite SF spot, Cha Cha Chas. For me it was the warm memories of taking a French burner crew there a couple years before when they had just flown in and we were getting ready to leave for the burn. We made a new favorite memory there, though, as Crash had everyone in the restaurant thinking we were on a romantic date. Awkward and embarrassing for me at first but it became more and more entertaining as onlookers started cooing over us. She was so confident, I just went with it and it worked like a charm. So funny and so much fun.
The next day we ate at Queens Louisiana Po-boy Cafe on the Warf and then headed out to Napa and the surrounding wine country, including to see our sommelier buddy, Ish (the one I made the ladder for) at the private winery he worked at where we were treated like gold and in love with the wine. We also made sure to continue our “couples” photo shoot since we were still cracking ourselves up with it. Then we drove to a darling Italian restaurant in Santa Rosa named Rosso to meet up with Jo Jo and his dog again followed by a fun bar he picked that had a creative and edgy vibe that once again fell right in line with the world we knew.
FEB 20
On Thursday, we drove south. First to Testarrossa Winery which I’m not too much of a fan of given high prices, snotty attitudes and wine that I don’t even like. The grounds are impressive, though, with the tasting room being in a cave and having an interesting story that included how the property was leased from monks. I had written an article about it for a magazine in the past which always created sentimentality. North of that was my second home in the woods. Oh how I loved those forested mountains along with the wineries hidden within. Way more than the area better known up north. My favorite was MJA Vineyards, so I was determined to take her there. The tasting room attendant was awkward unfortunately and there was a woman with two cute dogs who wouldn’t stop chatting our ears off. As seemed to be a constant theme, annoying then but later it was comical. After we were off to meet Brigit and Aaron for one of their cocktail hours, first with a quick drive around Santa Cruz. Brigit was finally about put her cat Meowlie (as I called her) down within a day or two, so there was an importance to making it over beyond introducing different people in my life. Poor thing had been dragging her back legs around like a zombie for a couple months but she was was a fighter so she had stuck in there for way longer than I ever would have thought. I couldn’t believe how long she had lasted, actually. We all spent a little time together and then, with Crash being more warn out than me for once, we decided to sleep over. Not surprising to any of us as I wasn’t about to drive through those windy mountain roads with a buzz and we all knew we’d be having a couple.
I was pretty conflicted leaving Brigit the next day but it was Crashe’s last full day in town and we had to get back to SF. After meeting up with my colorful British burner bud Rupert at Spanky’s Cafe to pay homage to our camp’s name, we headed back for a picnic in Dolores Park. Crash seemed to be pretty recovered but I was dragging like hell. It had been one crazy staycation and I, feeling like Meowlie had looked, had officially hit the wall. I was only used to dealing with that level of intensity on the playa and I barely even survived then.
No one we had invited was able to make it in time for the picnic but Goat did join us for Irish coffees at The Buena Vista after and later on JoJo as well at a gigantic and very touristy tiki bar/restaurant called Tonga Room in the Fairmont hotel. Sharing an expensive group drink called Siren’s Song, I spent most of my time trying unsuccessfully to get Crash and Goat to stop acting rowdy (kind of stuffy high-end hotel) while JoJo just laughed.

Goat stayed back at the hotel after that while JoJo, Crash and I wandered around The Castro looking for a bar. Showing that maybe she had hit the wall too, Crash was being sassy with people, thinking they were being smart-asses with her (they weren’t) and using the word “retarded”. Meant as a slang word that proved we were teens in the ’90’s, it had since become a derogatory word (rightly so) that the folks of SF would not take kindly to if they overheard. Especially in the Castro. I was pissy about it regardless of knowing that the way I felt was more about being burnt the fuck out. Poor JoJo. Poor, poor JoJo. We were spent. No one had continuously rallied with us the entire time, which made us the only two champions crawling toward the finish line on bloodied knees.
The next day was goodbye. Even though we had nothing left in us unless we were going to a R&R retreat or, I don’t know, somewhere we’d be hooked up to IVs, it was bitter-sweet. It had been the most epic birthday celebration I had ever been to and probably ever would. It had been an honor and privilege to not only be able to celebrate my girl but also to ride her coattails with my own birthday, burn and goodbye. Happy 40th, Crash. You sure knew how to bring it in with one bodacious never-to-forget bang.

September 2019 – Bleeding Hearts

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I had just returned from being gone for two weeks on the pilgrimage of Burning Man 2019 When days before leaving for it, I had gotten out of the hospital. All I wanted was some down time to finish my damn California burrito in peace, snuggles from Sugs in that tropically decorated house Jewels had decorated like a true beach babe with my same taste and 20 hours of sleep. What did I get instead? Some tweaker showing up like a cracked out tornado as she talked even faster than me about how she had been the one dog/house-sitting and needed to grab the laundry she still had in the dryer. I didn’t know a thing about her and was not only completely overwhelmed but also uncomfortable as hell. Not to mention frustrated with Jewels for trusting someone like that, regardless of her being nice. Fucking bleeding heart, man.
My first instinct was to call Jewels to make sure everything was OK with the situation. I really didn’t like the woman being there at all, let alone having her car. Thinking better of it as I looked at my phone, I stopped myself. JerseyJ had bitched me out for being too overprotective with a call in the middle of the night on the 4th of July when her ex had been throwing a party at her pad when she was out of town. I didn’t want a repeat of that. Not to mention that I knew I’d be sending Jewels’ anxiety through the roof, possibly ruining the rest of her trip. So instead I spent the next three days miserably and uncomfortably dealing with the woman and feeling terrible for her sweet tween daughter. All the while trying to recover, survive a wretched cough and labor away on getting my stuff gathered, cleaned and put in storage before getting back to work.
Recover…yeah right. I had known the steroids weren’t working when my bruises had returned within the first couple days on the playa. That meant I pretty much expected bad news from a physical scheduled for the 5th. Not as bad as it turned out to be, though. Waking up on the morning of the 6th to multiple voicemails, the doctor’s office had been calling to say that it was urgent for me to be checked into the ER. My sister too since they had been calling her as my emergency contact. Whoa. I was in a serious enough situation for my emergency contact to be called. It may have been then that it was finally able to click. That it wasn’t just a passing fluke and was serious. Life slanted a little. My platelets were under 3,000. As a reminder, the normal range for Americans is 150k – 450k.

Going in for a platelet infusion, I argued with the ER doc that I also needed help with my cough. I was never going to be able to sleep in order to get better if I was constantly hacking so badly that my eyes were watering and I was almost throwing up. He blew me off. That is until he could hear me hacking up a lung for two hours from outside my room. That’s when a nurse came in to tell me that he was prescribing me cough medicine with codeine and that I had a respiratory infection. What I didn’t think about until until a week later when the infection was mostly gone was how coughing that hard could have possibly caused something to burst in my brain given my super low platelet count. Crikey!
Once again, I didn’t expect good news at the appointment with Dr. Vlad the day after that. My numbers were so uncommonly low that he had my blood taken twice to double check once there. His response was, saying with raised eyebrows and a surprised Eastern European accent, “well, you didn’t die”. That was followed with how I was to be hospitalized immediately, maybe for days. He let me go home for a couple hours first to get my affairs in order since I wasn’t showing signs of internal bleeding. That was let me go with nonstop and adamant comments from him, his staff and anyone in the health profession who heard my number to be careful to not hit my head. Nonstop to the point of making me WANT to hit my head.
Thinking about calling Jewel’s mom to watch Sugs as I drove back to pack up, I worried about asking it of her when she lived kind of far. Jewels already had that other woman doing it before me so, as much as I didn’t like it, I asked her to cover. Lord how I wish I would had just called her mom. Only going so far as to send her and Jewels messages to fill them in, I regret not being more outspoken about how I felt. I also wish I hadn’t left the cough syrup with codeine there. Especially after Tweaker Lady told me excitedly that people she knew would pay good money for it upon my return. Flash back to being a teen with friends drinking their parents booze and filling the bottles back up with water.
Back in the hospital, I received an IVIG treatment on top of the steroids that were still being used as a form of chemo. Coincidentally, that’s when my cough really started going away, too. My family didn’t come to see me. Parents because they had a cold and Wendy because we thought I was going to be in longer and she kept pushing it off. Sean…he was a lost cause. Besides the 10 minute ride I asked of him that was on his way home after picking up my nieces from school, I wasn’t even to get a text. Even after he was so upset upon dropping me off. Taking pictures of the two of us together and talking about how serious it was, he also commented about how one of his dogs had recently passed from the same thing. It’s what I expected, which was what hurt the most. What was newly painful and surprising, however, was when I found out that he was planning to buy his neighbors who had just lost their dog an expensive puppy from a breeder. He couldn’t be bothered to give a crap that I was fighting for my life but was doing that. Wow. I could at least find a little solace a couple months later when he told me that he was having a major mental break at that time and was in and out of touch with reality. Though that was a whole different kind of heartbreak.
At least I had friends that would come through. Well, a handful of them. Mia surprised me the most, coming once or twice and even talking about coming back to spend the night. Nikki and Kati came of course. I could always count on them. Nikki with lots of fun pampering stuff like facial masks, Kati with a book and a burrito. Not to mention finding the time to make it when she was dealing with major pain in the ass paperwork, calls and other setup stuff for starting a kids school for aeronautics. To make it even harder on her, she showed up when I had a bloodied IV in my arm and was being surrounded by nurses poking and prodding for too many different reasons to count.
Always the weirdo (and probably still in shock), the experience was new, exciting and even a little fun. I wowed all the nurses and staff with positive energy. They commented another two or three times about how I didn’t seem like a patient and how it was the happiest room they’d been in. At one point, I had a dance party with myself and even had a stationary bike brought into my room for a teenie bit of exercise. It was great to brighten their days albeit a little somber given that the reason for what they were accustomed to dealing with cancer patients. Over all, it was the best time to end up there if it was necessary. I was exhausted and in desperate need of de-stimulation as well as getting away from the sun.

Getting out of the hospital and back to my beloved home-sweet-home (and sweetie of a roomie) once Jewels was back, it was time for the last round of unpacking, cleaning from the burn and putting the rest of that stuff so far into storage that I didn’t have to see it until the next burn. Having drinks with one of the besties at her local dive soon after, it was nice to be back on the supportive side of things. She was understandably hurt by the reaction of her husband during an already stressful remodel of their house while living in the middle of it with two young boys. He had been so wrapped up with the project and work that he was too stuck in tunnel vision to remember that they existed. It was the second round of the same thing as they had done the same thing with the same result on their first house only a few years before. Que a weird form of suburban sadomasochism and drinking too much. Speaking of the suburbs, I made it to a movie and a drink with the other bestie and a couple of moms she was friends with. I connected fine with them (they seemed to be “cool” moms) but it was still weird listening to them talk with rolling eyes about the PTA and other scary suburban stuff. All-in-all it ended with me thinking, once I stopped being oblivious to one of the women disregarding my girl, that the suburbs still sucked.
Life was back to the norm almost instantly. I was proud of myself for making it to one of LanaBell’s soccer games within days of getting out of the hospital, though it was surreal (and a bit of a struggle) to be in a hot and sunny park while still on the roids. Smiling as I stole glances at her big sister under a tree with her boyfriend (aha young love) while talking with her mom, she commented on how her and her nurse colleagues called someone like me a career patient. Man did that hit, but life goes on and so would I. Beyond that, it was nice to participate in a few other “normal daily life” things over the course of the rest of the month. Dinner with the fam at Sienna’s favorite for her 11th b-day, Old Spaghetti Factory, Pop’s favorite Barona Casino followed by hanging with the family at their estate (though never comfortable there), hanging with Mia in OB and Jewels at her pad. Then there was writing the sentimental thank you note to Dr. Vlad for all his help with the ITP and continuing to be proud of Kate as I watched the progress of her aeronautical school for kids, trying in vain to think of a way to help.

There was more than enough to make for a happy month. Lots of walks along the beach, finally finishing up cleaning off the bike I borrowed from Jenny for the burn and getting the tent back to the folks, yoga at home (shout out to Yoga With Adrienne), dinner with the family again (including Grandma who had come down from L.A.) for Restaurant Week at La Bocca in Little Italy, driving around to see Halloween decorations and, I’m quite proud to say, hosting a local burner happy hour at THC. I had gotten frustrated with not seeing anything going on around me in our burner community so I went ahead and empowered myself to make it happen with a reminder of the “doacracy” mentality that had been taught to us. Go me! Another thing I was proud to have ponied up with and taken care of right away was when a palm tree fell on my car and busted the windshield. Well, Tavian’s car really as I was just the long-term renter. He didn’t think insurance would cover it, but seemed to be guessing, so I decided to do my own research. It’s amazing how much being broke can inspire when it comes to potentially lowering a bill. Getting past the overwhelmed anxiety that would have stopped me in the past, I called the insurance company and jumped through the hoops there to find out that it actually WAS covered with a $100 deductible. Someone was sent out to change the windshield and it didn’t affect the policy because it had nothing to do with my driving. Beyond that, we even got to celebrate Grandma’s birthday at the end of the month. Yep. Life was back to normal and changed forever all at once.

Before Grandma’s birthday, it was Sienna’s turn. Though right before that was when the beginning of what would be a long and emotional roller coaster about the ITP hit. How fragile and temporary our bodies were, not showing any symptoms beyond bruising to warn me, the reality of most of the relationships in my life…it was like a bomb went off, exploding in too many different directions to keep track of. I told Wendy about it. Specifically because I was worried I was going to start acting weird. Isolating and getting really dark, pushing everyone away…when things were really bad, I got nasty. It’s not something I’m proud of. I’m just in so much pain and unable to grasp what’s going on…I can’t get away from it. The picture of a wounded animal cornered, snarling and biting at someone trying to help has always popped into my mind.
Wendy had asked me to handle the decorations for Sienna’s b-day on the 21st and I had been excited to do it. Balloons and live flowers I had gone to get at the market – whatever I could think of to make my niece happy. True, I was running around like a chicken with my head cut off the morning of, but the level at which I was already disoriented and exhausted by the time I arrived at their house didn’t make sense. That’s when it happened. With Dad standing on one side of me and Sienna on the other, my being seated, we all worked on the decorations as they excitedly chatted away. Feeling it come on, I calmly called out to Wendy, her ignoring, as the first episode I’d had awake in years started. “Episodes” as in short mystery sessions I’d had for over a decade, both mental and physical, that gave very little clue as to what was happening to witnesses beyond my becoming a bit distracted, disoriented and starting to sweat. At first, and after being screened with nothing showing up, the associated medical team had blown them off with my main doctor’s response being “we don’t know, probably anxiety attacks”. Years later, after a witnessed grand mal seizure, the medical professionals involved at that time thought them likely somehow related to that. Whatever the case, I was totally whacked out after and needed time for my mind to reboot and exhausted body to recover. More time than I had.
Missing the beginning of the party to at least rest for a couple hours, I pulled myself together enough to go outside and join the festivities. That’s when, in my whacked out state, a little bit of the underlying resentment I harbored for my sister snuck out when I said something snarky about her to one of the kids moms. She felt justified in not talking to me for weeks after that. Regardless of how the ITP or episode played a roll or how I had told her only a couple days before about how I was just starting to get to fall into a dark place where I needed support. It didn’t need any help getting worse between us from there but it did. I felt abandoned when I needed her the most and when I tried to talk to her about it, she made it about her. I messed up but did I deserve that? I don’t know, maybe I did. But I still wasn’t going to accept it.

2019 – Bye Bye Burn, Hello Reno After-Party

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I was a loony-tune exhausted, overheated and upset mess once finally done with packing up and sending my stuff off with an aggravated driver. Trevor, always being the gentleman, told me to go lay down in his trailer and drink some of his signature mixture of ice, OJ and vodka, both of which I desperately needed (minus the vodka). Seeing ripped condom wrappers on the ground, I was relieved to see he had gotten laid before shutting my eyes for an hour or two, of course not really able to sleep, before heading back out to wander. Finding friends I hadn’t spent enough time with and sharing essentials during a quick hang, I soon headed off to Spanky’s to catch my ride off the playa. I would say happily but I couldn’t feel much beyond miserable exhaustion.
Kelsey and I had made plans to ride back with Levi/Pepper Jesus in his packed rental car to the hotel in Reno. Pepper Jesus was the one who was going to give me a tent but his car had broke down last minute before the burn. Close to leaving, I could have asked him to pick me up at The Swan but I instead headed to Spanky’s with the goal of trying to help moop. An unsuccessful attempt unfortunately as I couldn’t find much to do besides a wee bit here and there and the Admiral was too upset about so many bolting without helping to give much direction. I kept trying to find something myself and was asking others but after a couple hours, I gave up. Having thrown in the towel, the three of us took off with the Admiral getting a little upset with Levi for not sticking around longer to do more. Such a bummer to not having successfully figured out how to navigate the whole thing but that indeed was a constant of the burn. I made a big-fat note to strategize better for next time with step one, as always, being to figure out how to get some sleep. Then I did my best to let it go.
I thought making it to GSR, the hotel in Reno of the burner after-party, would make me feel relieved but I was too much dreading having to get out of the car. Then having to check in. Then eat. Then get up to our room. Then shower. Then put myself together before crawling into bed. Watching all the burners there in happy moods with the celebration of having made it through another year, I was bewildered (and a touch resentful) at how they could be so fresh when I was so beat up. Even so, I was thankful to meet some really cool folks. One of which Mia knew who connected with Kelsey by the end of the night and the two of them becoming inseparable from there. A lucky thing for her as after Mia and her friend left a couple nights before us (the four of us were sharing a room), she didn’t have to be kept up all night by a cough of mine that was progressively getting worse. She double lucked out when I misquoted her on our share of the cost that I would go ahead and pay. Made me feel better anyway since she was never in the room anyway so ~shrugs~.
Floating around in cool water at the pool party for burners the next day had been heaven the year before but I just wanted to get home. I still made it there, though, as well as to the annual Spanky’s dinner at a delicious Italian restaurant called Sardina’s. With luck that never lets me down, I ended up being stuck there with the guy handling the bill for all of us (and all the drama that came with) until everyone but the two of us were left. At least it got me out of going to a club where one of our guys was spinning EDM.
I was so done, I headed to the airport hours early the next day so I didn’t have to be around happy, rejuvenated burners. A decision that made me extra relieved when finding out by the time I was to board that people were missing flights because of all the folks flooding the airport at the time I originally would have. Flying back to San Diego, the plan was to go straight to house and dog-sit for Jewels. As much as I just wanted to go straight to my own home, it didn’t sound half bad considering I could dive right into cuddling up with her doggo, Sugs, and not do anything for a couple days. Just stay tucked away from the sun, chillin with my furry friend until I had to go pick up my stuff. Self-conscious about coughing up a lung as I flew home, I grabbed a Lyft from the airport and got the driver to go through a taqueria drive-thru so I could get a California burrito. My ritual when first getting home, no matter where I had been. I had finally made it. Not in one peace but I wasn’t dead. Something I was about to find out was pretty surprising.

2019 Burning Man Art

The End of Burning Man 2019 – Aug 31 & Sept 1

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Making it battered and bruised…literally… it was time to once again to burn the man.
Determined to make it to one of Kelsey’s performances in the Black Rock Philharmonic at 11 AM that morning (early by playa time), I first prepped for the goal of making it to the Naked Tiki Bar that afternoon when dressing in a Parrot Head getup. Grabbing my bike when ready to head out to watch her performance, I thought about how bummed I was to have missed the one they put on at The Folly. An amazing cousin to an old-Western style art center (for lack of a better description) that was one of the pieces to be sacrificed to the fire gods for the year. I had never made it there but at least I got to see the orchestra in their home camp, which just so happened to be my favorite day camp to chill at, Frozen Oasis. Regardless of being lucky to have averaged even a couple hours sleep a night, I was still able to enjoy the slushies gifted out, albeit perturbed by the terrible pour that could have fit into a rocks glass. Also lovely to literally help chill were the misters, soft color scheme of a light turquoise and grey, a metal dragon that breathed fire and us playing along with the kazoos that were handed out at the end of their performance.

Never good at wearing my mask, I rode around from there checking out art and hitting a few bars on the way to Dr. Bronner’s for a group shower. Backfiring from the original plan of counting on it to be relaxing and rejuvenating, the long line under the hot sun was making me feeling even more worn out, dizzy and worried about the ITP within twenty minutes of getting there. Adding even more to the bummer of it all, the guy from Mexico standing in line next to me seemed like an intelligent and interesting person whom I’d have enjoyed connecting with under better circumstances. I wasn’t able to enjoy the shower much when it was finally my turn to get in but at least I got to run into Annie, an old ridshare buddy from a previous burn.
The three hour excursion starting at 11:45 AM sucked up prime time during the day but I had learned through the principle of Immediacy and to quote Forrest Gump, that you never know what you’re gonna get, so I was able to do an OK job of shrugging it off. On my way to half-heartedly find the Naked Tiki Bar from there, I took a sharp left when seeing the popular drinking and hang camp, the Petting Zoo. Trying to dull the edge of how shitty I felt with a little buzz, I somehow turned back into a Dr. Phil meets Dr. Ruth sex therapist for a straight and gay man almost as soon as my buns were seated. No matter how burnt I was and how much I was depleted socially, I still got a rush when I felt like I was helping others. So there I was until the sun started going down, giving up on the idea of making it to the Naked Tiki Bar all together.
I had been dreading the long ride back to The Swan to head out with the crew for the man burn but it turned out that wasn’t going to happen anyway. Making my way to Spanky’s once saying my farewells at the Petting Zoo, I stayed longer than expected because, well, that’s what always happens, and also because one of our campers had a heart-stopping seizure and needed CPR. I would have felt like an asshole if I bolted so instead I used it as an excuse to stay.
Hanging with the couple who had shown interest multiple times in hooking up that year, it was a mix of both feeling discomfort and delighted at the situation while also a little resentment that I felt like we were all of the sudden playa-dating without my having even been consulted to see if I was into it. Relationships are already challenging but add in the aspect of such an unconventional community and it’s even more mind-bending. I did indeed dig them a lot as friends and wasn’t opposed to hooking up if the situation popped up organically but I was into the friendship aspect a lot more than sexually or romantically. I still wish that I could just feel more strongly one way or another, dammit.
The sun went down and it was finally time to head out to the man. Biking alongside an art car that some of my campmates were on, we eventually stopped to climb up on a taller one to watched the spectacle as the fire conclave danced. Spoon after, the arms of the large wooden stick figure with an upside-down triangle for a head raised as fireworks started to shoot out of his body and then a grand explosion lit him fire. It was still the biggest communal party I had ever been to in the world, even if I was too donezo on that particular night to be feeling the spirit. Still knowing when we were done with the merriment there that my body was too out of whack for sleep anyway, I gave up on the idea of even trying. I was sick of adding more misery to the exhaustion and definitely didn’t want to miss out on yet another night while I just laid there in frustrated despair. Choosing instead to stay up all night partying back at Spanky’s, it was more of the same but a “same” that I loved. Even through the haze of my zombie state.

Aha the day of the temple burn. Thank God. I was doing my best to stay present through meditative reminders that I was in the most important place in the world to me. Like every year, many of us were just fighting to just get through it at that point. A notable about of seasoned burners even left every year once the weekend (Labor Day weekend) hit. Being a year of extra miserable exhaustion for me, it was the first time the thought didn’t appall me. It was also the first time I realized that maybe the reason I never noticed the “weekend warriors” who were notorious for only coming with the goal of more superficial partying was because I was always too worn out.
I’m sure I started the day the temple was to burn at the Swan like usual but honestly, the whole day is pretty blank. Maybe nights were easier to recall because they were such a reprieve from the relentless sun and it’s inescapable hellfire heat. An unfortunate byproduct to such a level of exhaustion, the temple burn didn’t do much for me. The after-party at Spanky’s called Swine Bar where I bartended for awhile was my favorite event of the camp, though, so that was still a little fun. Especially having the little bit of space in the middle of the crowd that tending bar provided.

Barely knowing where I was, we kept going until dawn. That included ending up in one of our camper’s trailer for what I was to find out was one of his notorious after-parties. Two words: body bumps. I was probably just off my nut and there wasn’t any good reason for it but at one point I took the man of the couple I felt like I was “playa dating” outside of the cramped trailer so his wife could have a little space to wile out. That’s when the two of us started bickering in an almost comical drama-agro way about pretty much nothing. It’s definitely not uncommon for folks to be falling apart by that time in the week. Putting two colorful and passionate people together on top of that and, well, there’s some extra fireworks. Add to all of it how if an attempt of any sort is made to control or take ownership of me, it just adds dynamite to those fireworks. Flash to the future for a second: yes, we’re still pals and talked it out after letting the playa-dust settle.
Back to what had become the next morning, our continuing to argue without his hearing my comments about needing to get back to The Swan to pack up, I finally had to jam at dawn with him and another male camper in tow as I petaled across the playa like the crazy pissed off woman I was to pack up before Glenn came to get my stuff. Only being half-way to having my physical shit together (definitely not mental) when he showed, he was understandably agro about it. To be fair, he had actually already showed up that way thanks to committing to too many people and his wife ending up hating the burn. My not being ready just made it worse. That didn’t justify his leaving some of my stuff at the end, though. Stuff that included the incredibly sentimental cape my mother had made me. I wouldn’t have even known until days after getting home if another camper, first pissed off thinking I had left junk for others to take care of, hadn’t told me. Being too tired and feeling too shitty later in the day to think about asking Mia to take that stuff home, I ended up throwing most of it out on the drive back to Reno anyway.

Burning Man 2019 – Friday August 30th – Pushing boundaries

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Leaving Spanky’s somewhere around 4:30 AM to make a gallant attempt to catch sunrise in Deep Playa, I knew I’d regret it if I didn’t stop at Hardley’s Saloon for a shot of whiskey when passing it on the Esplanade at 5 AM. I had given up on the idea of Mia and I doing it together to celebrate the beginning of our friendship but that didn’t mean I couldn’t do it on my own. Instead, I met a handsome (and borderline too cocky) man from Australia who I connected with on a chair swing outside the saloon until it was too late to make it anywhere else before sunrise. His departure being just before yellows and oranges started to rise in the sky through the bars of the sleeping Thunderdome in front of me, I fought to keep my eyes open as the sun made it’s way over the horizon. Having only been asleep for a few minutes, a cutie-patootie of a Chinese American gal jumped off the back of someone’s bike (hers had been stolen) and plopped down, chatting before her buns even hit the seat. Seeming oblivious to my head bobbing as I fought to stay awake, I was bewildered by the tidal wave of intensity coming at me. If she had been ready to snuggle to sleep under that morning sun, I could have stayed there forever. Instead, I had to excuse myself after a few minutes of her happy chittering to petal my way back to camp with leaden feet to do my best at catching a few hours of ZZZ.

Miserably exhausted as I always was by that time of the week, I’ll be damned if I still couldn’t sleep even when in my own “bed”. Finally giving up on the attempt and getting up two or three hours later once the heat had become too much to bare, I headed over to one of the neighborhood’s lightly air conditioned chill champs inside a Middle Eastern style tent with a prayer that it would help. From there I made an effort to find Spicy given that he had already tried to find me so many times. Feeling insecure about showing up when I worried he might not want me to, I knew feeling that way was ridiculous but the torture of feeling vulnerable wasn’t about to let me get too confident. Even so, I made it all the way over to the other side of the playa per his direction and even made sure to take advantage and stop for a drink with random burners when something caught my eye along the way. For example, when I stumbled upon a Mardi Gras show at a New Orleans themed camp. A great example of one of the best and most magical parts of Immediacy at the burn. I don’t know if I ever would have had it in me to do so if it hadn’t been ingrained over those last five years or burning.

Finally making it to his RV, I kicked back in the oppressive heat on a mound of teddy bears and pillows he had set up under a tarp patio connected between him and his neighbor until he finally got up. Planning to head out to pick up the vest he had left at the glitter camp, we first hung with that attached neighbor who just so happened to be trans and also just so happened to be…we’ll just say also attached. It pushed my boundaries, yes, but mostly because she didn’t seem interested in befriending me and I don’t like feeling like second string. Our plan was short-lived from there as his bike had broke the night before and it became apparent that it wasn’t going to be a quick fix. It also became quickly apparent that plan B to hang in his RV wasn’t going to be a success either as he was too tired to perform and I broke the bed. It was time to call it. Leaving him to finally get what may have been his first major sleep for what could have been the entire burn, it would be the last time I was to see him.

The next few hours were pretty lax. At the beginning of the burn, it was always exciting to mark the “when and where” events in a book we were given when first coming in through Gate knowing full-well that we’d be lucky to make it to any one of them thanks to living on playa time. In a last minute “oh yeah” on that particular day, I remembered a burlesque show that I had marked and actually made it for the first time ever. It was an excitingly hopeful first step in attending other events and workshops in my future. That was if I was ever able to figure out how to get some sleep.
After the show, I thought it would be nice to try to go find Spicy’s vest (never even found the camp) and fun to get us souvenir cups from Sharkey’s. Walking up to one of the camp’s two wooden bars with a brief stop to watch people do some axe-throwing, a sweet and somewhat proper British man of average looks and a friendly demeanor started talking me up. Having a tenancy to step in as a buzzed therapist when drinking combined with a background in matchmaking, I quickly became his Dr. Ruth. Pouring his heart out, he told me about how he had limited sexual experience, specifically in ways of his less traditional desires, and how those needs combined with the shame he felt about them had always affected his confidence and self-esteem. His thinking it would ruin the relationship with his fiance, he couldn’t take it anymore and had told her anyway before leaving for the burn. Half expecting her to break up with him, she instead told him to go experiment and have fun. Being honest with her had not only set him free from the cage he had been in for so long but also strengthened their relationship. It was touching.
Speaking of touching, he then asked if I would be up for going to the Orgydome. I can’t say it was a surprise. It was obvious that he was looking for a sexual mentor and was already seeing me in that light. Honestly, for as free-spirited, sexually liberated and open-minded as I like to tell myself I was, I didn’t know how I felt about it. When it came to sexuality, it only felt right to me to do the horizontal hokey pokey when having an intimate connection both emotionally and mentally followed by physical attraction. Whether knowing each other an hour or a year didn’t matter, just that level of connection. That meant that my first instinct was to say no. Then I realized that I had a chance to do something I believed important enough for it to speak to me. Besides stroking my ego (among other things) and having a little fun, I got to help someone. Not only that but I got to do it in an area where I also had a history of great pain and shame until having found healing at the burn. So I decided to go outside of my norm and what the hell, say “sure, let’s go”. His wide-eyed expression of nervous excitement was another of the moments that resonated with me most that burn. It was…cute.
Getting in line at the Orgydome, I was a little impatient to have to go through the routine of all the safety, consent, no phones, etc. drills again one day later but also excited to watch him experience what that looked like. Then getting up to the front, one of the gals working the door excitedly asked, “hey, you’re the chick who was covered in the glitter the other day, right?” It was obvious from her tone that our libido and other fun had been talked about in the camp along, I’m sure, with annoyance at the glitter. It was also entertainingly awkward to respond that, yes, it had been me and a little embarrassing that he heard it. Continuing on, we went to the “open to more” room as opposed to couples only and started to make out. It was odd as I didn’t feel much of a sexual connection but I didn’t feel like that was why I was there anyway. Excusing myself to run back for nipple-glue remover once taking off my fuzzy pasties, I came back to him and an attractive Asian woman with a very cool mowhawk that had patterns buzzed into the sides waiting for me. She had apparently approached him wanting to join. Things definitely got more interesting from there.
While petite isn’t my “type”, I also believe that objectifying people by putting them into narrow-minded boxes is BS. I loved her vibe, so I went for it. Partly because I knew it would feed into his fantasy. Like most of my theesomes from the past, it became more about her focusing on me because I made her feel safe while he excitedly jumped in wherever he could and how I instructed. What was different from past experiences was that I was leading as a coach in the whole thing. Communication and finding a way to make everyone feel involved, seen and comfortable was what it was about for me. His mind was blown, as was my eardrum from her screaming in it as she climaxed. I was content that I had given them something special and in so, they had given me a gift that meant the world in return. It all ended abruptly after she came, though, as I realized that I was about to be late for a bartending shift at a Celtic sing-song back at The Swan.
Giving him a long hug and getting a happy rush from seeing his enlightened and mind-blown appreciative smile as he thanked me, I took off and was bartending 20 minutes later. It wasn’t to be the end of my sexcapades for the night, though. The year before, I had been left after unsuccessfully chasing an art car to get to the Great Canadian Beaver Eating Contest at Spanky’s sister camp, Black Rock Bordello. A fellow camper had talked me into going to another neighboring camp with promises that we’d be back in time, which of course we weren’t. Yes, I am absolutely still pouting and no way was I going to let it happen again.

I tried to talk my crew from the Swan (and other compadres from PolyParadise) into coming with but they were unfortunately already amped about going to an event where one of our guys was going to get naked and completely lubed up to wrestle another guy while swinging from chandeliers. That meant that the only one who ended up joining me was Trevor. Great. Don’t get me wrong, I was a fan of the big guy but his crush was suffocating and I resented that I all of the sudden felt like I was on a date that I didn’t agree to. Making it to the tent for the show, we took a front row seat and I was quickly jumping back and forth between him and other Spankers. Partly in an attempt to show Trevor that I saw him as nothing but a pal, I told Levi that if he wanted us to compete, to sign us up. It was an unintentionally mean and I still feel bad about it but feeling suffocated makes me panic. Haven’t mastered that one net.
Next thing I knew after that, Levi and I are being called up and I’m getting the most intense oral that I’ve ever received. So much so that I was gripping onto the mat so that my sweaty body wasn’t pushed off the stage by the pressure he was using. Almost laughing as I ripped off the rainbow wig I was wearing and putting on my sunglasses to hide from the intensity, I was in and overwhelming state of pleasurable shock that absolutely entertained me. That didn’t mean I wasn’t making an attempt to look up at the other competitors, though. I mentally pouted at those unsuccessful attempts but got over it when realizing that we must have been the best show given that the judges extended our time twice and I could hear the crowd cheering. As someone who thrives on bringing pleasure to others, damn straight I’m an exhibitionist and damn right was I loving it. Trevor was gone by the time the whole thing was over. Feeling relieved though bad, I was also later a bit angry when he pouted about how he was OK but would have rather been a participant in a way that made me think he was assuming it would be us.
What a day but the sexapades even STILL weren’t over. There was a hottie from camp who had been watching and had been turned on by the show. When he politely approached me about hooking up, I was a little weirded out that he would be interested in a woman who had just been receiving oral from another man, and in front of a crowd no less. We all have our turn-ons and I knew that, so I found myself once again asking why it made me feel awkward. The best answer I had was that I hadn’t been in that particular situation before. Being nice as I skirted off with a smiling decline to the invitation, I jumped around with my friends until he appeared again an hour later. Finding him sweet, laid back and quite attractive, I decided what the hell for the second time that day and went for it. Going to his nice conversion van, he lit candles and was more the most tender of my recent lovers. Kind of boring, actually, in that he liked me laying down doing nothing while he hit it from behind, but he did give me three orgasms from oral (extra impressive given alcohol and that crazy head from Levi) so it was a big win over all.
During our shenanigans, there had been a knock that I had a feeling was his partner with some kind of message. Seeming to have turned into a theme, it was the third new experience pushing my boundaries for the day. When I sought him out to say hi a couple more times over the rest of the burn, one of the times he had actually been with the partner who I assumed was the one to be the knocker. Not making an attempt to be part of the convo with him and I, it was once again what most bothered me. My connection with him didn’t go any farther. That was until he added me on Facebook and I found out that he lived in my Northern California neighborhood. Not that he’d even respond to future PMs. So weird.
Man…what a day for the books. Reminds me of a certain meme about doing all the wild and crazy things we can now so we have something to talk about at holidays when we’re old. Anyone who knows me well knows how much I love shock value. That’s one to look forward to indeed.

Burning Man 2019 – August 28th & 29th

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Following my favorite night was my favorite day. The morning started, as always, by hanging with folks at The Swan and PolyParadise until Spicy surprised me by showing up. Something he had attempted a few times before and would a few times after, usually without finding me. As luck would have it, he did on that particular day, though, and we were to spend most of it together. Dragging him right away to a camp controversial for offering biodegradable glitter, I had first been introduced to it my second year with the Frenchie friends I’d camped with and was determined to partake in that herpes of the crafting world fabulousness at least once again. Adorning each other head to toe, we then headed to Go the Fuck to Sleep in Hushville with stops along the way at camps that included one with a Russian roulette style game of choosing a flavored shot that ended with my taking one of disgustingly warm Cheese-It vodka and then headed across the street to a boring lecture on sexuality. Boring, I should say, for our level of experience. We made it to Brigit and Aaron’s camp after that for her popup event, Cougar Camp, where us ladies would all dress in leopard and sit out along the street to tempt guys (via Brigit yelling through a blow horn) into stopping to dance for us with a cookie as their prize. My favorite part for the year being a tie between Spicy being our pool boy and when chicks passing by would stop to join us.
Getting myself in a pickle with an actual pickle as Cougar Camp headed to a close, Spicy and I walked across the street to play a game of bobbing for pickles where the rule was to slap the bobber across the face when they came up for air. I didn’t understand it and thank God he wasn’t comfortable enough to really go for it despite my insistence. Receiving a small yet sobering smack, it was a slightly annoying experience that still makes me think of idiot frat boys and Marines of my past causing drunken brawls in bars. Moving on. The glitter camp and Cougar Camp had been main goals for the day but a goal for the entire week was to make it to Orgydome with him, so off we went. Before you get too excited, don’t. After the first five minutes, it’s nowhere near as wild and exciting as you might think. It’s mostly just a place for couples to have a mattress in air conditioning in a communal room with the occasional scene that’s more exciting than that. We’ve all experienced sex. After a couple minutes, it loses a lot of it’s excitement. That being said, it was by far the favorite time I’ve ever had in there and I’d imagine we were one of the rare who actually did put on a small show.
After getting past the mandatory lectures and speeches at the end of the line about acceptable behavior and measures taken to ensure them, we got to the main waiting room where we took advantage of cuddle couches and massage tables where I treated Spicy to what may have been the most epic massage I’d ever given. Per his request, we then moved into the couples only room when our turn came for two and a half hours of smooth and sensual sex. His libido mixed with an impressive member good at staying at attention was an orgasmic mix (pun intended) for a session that was less about the intense passion I was used to and more about relaxed pleasure that sustainable for a marathon. Challenge was that, even though we were rocking it James Brown style instead of ’80’s glam rock, it was still plenty enough over a long period of time to run out of water. His not being allowed to stay inside the tent without me, we got a break pass for 15 minutes to run out barely covering ourselves (not that it mattered) and try to find some much coveted agua. Unsurprisingly challenging as water was liquid gold on the playa, we didn’t find any. What we did find was margaritas at a camp called Sharkey’s directly across the street and ice cream sandwiches that someone walking by was passing out. Giggling as we hurried back with me joking about getting even more sticky, we gave it another try, though that time in the “open to more” room. Giving it a go for a little while longer, we had unfortunately lost our steam, but had an impressive four hour experience over all so we were happy. It still puts a big smile on my face to think about. Especially the part where we were running around like crazed, giddy kids trying to get back before we got “in trouble”.
I needed some alone time after that to recharge. Not specifically from him, more because I always did. OK yes, partly because I needed to process being into him more than usual. The environment of it all and wondering what was real didn’t help with all those confusing feelings either. Still, I would have preferred it if we were in the same camp so we could go back to our own places within instead of knowing it unlikely to find each other again that night regardless of what we planned. With word of meeting back up at Spanky’s a couple hours later, I let my foggy sex-brain talk me into skipping out on the night Aaron had suggested for the two of us and Brigit for the off chance of spending more time of him. Yeah, I was “that” girl. One of the many examples of the principal of Immediacy, time seemed to go away and I had even almost ditched the plan myself to jump on an art car made of a black light tiki-style face with curtains resembling moss as hair. Whether he showed or not, I did want to spend more time in my second camp. Still, I was just the tiniest bit resentful for giving up the chance for a night with B & A even if I did get to spend it reconnecting with other friends that I hadn’t seen in a year. Two of which were a couple from overseas who surprised me by seeming to be interested in a wee bit more than friendship. An odd follow up to the happenings of the day but hey, it’s all about pushing boundaries and learning about ourselves…right? Maybe, maybe not but it was too much for me at th3 moment. Even if it was fun in theory.

Starting, of course, with the morning hang in camp, I didn’t make it too far for my morning venturing the next day when heading to a camp across the street early afternoon to participate in a shotski where a tall dude on one side of me sent the short chick on the other flying by throwing it back too hard. His being so thoughtless and oblivious was one of those things that weirdly annoys me all these months later. Back to camp not too long after, it was my time once again provide some of the meal for camp. It was way more chaotic than the first time, though, and partakers seemed more entitled than thankful. I had heard that to be the case after main gates opened but it was still a bummer. I stayed in camp after that for a live music session at The Swan Brigit spearheaded that consisted of a Celtic jam band. Hiding by the bar with so much going on it, it was unfortunately all a blur. Exhaustion and over-stimulation were already enough to make my brain shut down so adding a boozy buzz meant that I barely remember saying hello to friends whose face I would only be able to see that once for the year.
Short but sweet, when later heading to Spanky’s for a night that included the aforementioned couple making a more direct attempt and a naughty cuddle puddle with us and a few others trying to awkwardly join in, I had another of my highlights for the year when opening the door to a blue room with lights blinking out from the inside and walking in to see a disco ball and other shiny paraphernalia covering the walls. I had heard of those mythicaly decorated port-a-potties for years but had never actually come across one. It took half a decade to happen but it did and it was oh so worth the wait!

June Not So Much Gloom 2019

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Brigit and I started out June with one of the hikes that I loved so much. It was one of the Nor Cal things that hurt to be away from when home in So Cal or overseas. There had come to always be someone or something that it ached to be away from. It was one of the heartbreaks of the life that I had always dreamed of and was finally living. The day after, though, I experienced the opposite when being happy and proud to make it to an art preview in SF for the years upcoming Burning Man. Something I didn’t yet know was that it would have extra meaning due to my not being able to make it to most of the art in person thanks to serious health stuff was about to pop up.

Continuing in the same vein of making progress in my goal of taking advantage of all the amazing things a lifestyle of vagabonding offered, I continued my days and nights by hanging at the beach in Santa Cruz and making it to that hood’s monthly burner mixer. More Sound Camp than the parts of the community I was into, it was still nice to spend the first couple hours with the community before the EDM took over. Keeping with the beach theme a few days after that, I also stopped to spend sometime in Monterey when a ride took me there. A goal with driving rideshare that I had tended to fall short on more than I would have liked.
The most important event of the month toward goal-advancement was a virtual interview for the public teaching system in S Korea by the name of EPIK. Excusing myself from a lovely tea Brigit was throwing in the garden of the front of the house, I was worried before it even began about how hot it was that day. For good reason as I was disheveled, distracted and sweating through the entire interview. In a culture I had heard to be somewhat vain, I was more than a little worried about that being even more of a problem than what I was already worried about in regard to weight and age prejudice. So yeah, when I found out soon after that that I didn’t get it, I wasn’t exactly shocked. I was, however, a little unjustifiably resentful that I had been in such a bad situation for the interview in the first place by trying to make the tea while not having a decent option of where I could set up. An example of my weakness of FOMO, still being too much of a people pleaser and something I should have been more proactive to solve beforehand. I may not have been shocked by the rejection but the wind was definitely taken out of my sails for a hot minute. It had been my main focus without paying attention to a plan B (more like plan F) for a while. A lifetime of experience gave faith that I’d pull myself up by the bootstraps but ugh…it was a blow.
It was always a pleasant piece of magic to experience how the little things made such a helpful difference. The hiking, of course. B and I even managed to get Aaron out and I made it on my own to a trail called Garden of Eden that lead hikers along a forested railroad to a set of connected lagoons that were used as a swimming hole. Beyond freeing myself with taking a weight on my shoulders by paying JerseyJ back money she had very generously loaned me to get into a rental car for work after an unexpected situation, I avoided her most of the month. Speaking of that car, it felt empowering to change my own tire in the middle of the night when getting a flat during a work shift. I also found a big breath of peace when seeing a deer as I pulled out from the house on my way to another. With the all too common reminder of all the small moments I’d be sad to miss, I stopped to take a picture of a beautiful house, grabbed a beer at Monty’s, spent time with compadres and tried to continue going out to new restaurants at least a couple times a week to foodie it up instead of just looking for the most convenient, cheap and/or healthy option. Being the hot-mess I was, I found the humor when that included rubbing my eye with Sriracha when eating pho. I got to celebrate Brigit’s birthday before heading back to SD at the end of the month. A happy ending that added to a life of detail that had me mostly over my job rejection and moving onto the next step within a couple weeks.

Something big happened at the end of the month. Big and scary, though I wouldn’t know it until later. I had been getting random bruises and was finally starting to trip about them enough to ask someone. I had been getting them for a while, actually. Before then, I had been blowing them off as one of the clumsy times I ran into something or when I bruised easily after knocking a few back. I wasn’t drinking enough for that to be the reason though. And I had started getting them too often to believe I was forgetting clumsy moves. They were only about the size of a thumbprint at that time but a tiny internal alarm was going off. Tiny but big enough that on June 25 I sent pictures to my nurse brother. As usual, he blew me off in his out of sight, out of mind way. I was self-conscious about them enough to bring it up again with folks from my Burning Man camp, Spanky’s, a few days later at a work weekend held at the farm of a couple awesome burners in Garden Valley, CA who were were part of a sister camp named Black Rock Bordello. Not just a farm by the name of Skunkworks, they had huge tents set up that they traveled with to help those in need and let Spanky’s use for those work weekends along with storing camp stuff the rest of the year. One of the hundreds of examples I could give about why I love the spirit of Burning Man. Making it to one of the pre-prep work weekends had almost been as important to me as going to the burn itself. It was also a great break in driving across the state between my two homes for the second time in a month, even if it did add just short of 300 miles to the trip.


April 2019 – Developing Nor-Cal Routines

Hike, hike, hiking in Henry Cowell State Park.. Those redwoods, the doggos and horses on path…I coveted it and was happy to get it on a regular basis. Hitting the Santa Cruz burner happy hour wasn’t my thing once the EDM started but I was happy to make it over to hang with burners for an hour or two. What was my thing was going wine tasting in the mountains and for a couple drinks at of course our local dive, Monty’s Log Cabin. Routines sounding familiar yet?
Dinner with Brigit & Aaron at Casa Nostra, an Italian restaurant that was becoming a routine, was quite a treat as was Svet and I enjoying White Russians at Morgan Hill’s dive bar M&H Tavern both in celebration of our late friend Wren and to say goodbye to the little town before she moved out.
The siblings were annoying me with the sis being all about her body and getting six-pack abs for her 40th birthday the next month (though I got it at the same time) and the brother with messages about studding out his purebred dog. Superficiality and breeding dogs, especially when I had seen so many in trouble during my travels, were topics that didn’t sit well with me. They knew that.

Highlight of the month: I got my ticket to Burning Man! Or should I should say that Brigit did. We both sat on laptops plugging away the second they went on sale, each facing error messages that weren’t all too unexpected until she finally got through. Yay! True to a burner’s heart, her and Aaron even gifted me with covering half of mine as well as our friend Melissa’s. B kept saying that she had been gifted in her earlier days and now it was her turn. I love, love, love our community. And them. My little man-made family.
Sad to have to cancel a flight home for my brother’s birthday and Easter, the reason was happy as it was to save money for Sint Marteen for Big Red’s 40th! Instead I got to celebrate the holiday with Brigit and Aaron where she, in her smirk of dark humor, carried on a tradition of cooking rabbit.
A couple more hangs in Santa Cruz, meals in San Francisco, hot tubbing under the stars with Brigit, Aaron and even Melissa finished off the month. That along with finally making it to Muir Woods for a hike (Pelican Inn is a cute place to stop to eat but I wouldn’t recommend the stew) and signs of the second time having grand-mal seizure/s (first being years before) when waking up on the 25th with a majorly bit up tongue. I may have been stressing my body out by working too much for the sister’s birthday trip. Whopsie-doo.
It was a short and sweet month in Nor Cal enjoying the peace and pals. Not my norm and not so bad. Probably overdue, actually.

Burning Man 2018 – Back on the Playa Again

Waking up and driving the last five or so hours (which included a few stops for eating, gas, water and groceries) on that day, Friday August 24, 2018, we finally made it to the outskirts of Black Rock City. Pulling up to a line of loaded up often decorative vehicles full of burners on a two-lane road that lead to a dried up riverbed that, beyond our temporary city, had nothing except a tan-colored alkaline dust that was known for getting so far into every crevace that it reached our dusty souls. It only took maybe three hours to get into city limits from there, which was the main reason I was happy to be there a day before the main entry. When coming normal entry my first year on the Burner Bus, it had taken over ten hours to get in and it had taken about twelve hours to get out the year before thanks to an Amber Alert. It was always a gamble and I had learned to change my mentality to embrace it as part of the experience (might as well get out and hang with traffic neighbors) but was happy when able to avoid it.
Knowing that we had two Burning Man virgins with us, my exhaustion was momentarily lost as I became majorly pumped as we pulled up to the greeters. Between not knowing what the deal of who these people were, the traditions they carried out and complications of being on the Burner Bus my first year, I hadn’t got my chance for the initiation our two gals were about to go through. Every year since then, I had lived vicariously as the initiation speech was given, virgins were rolled around in the dust and they were given a hammer to hit the gong. It certainly rang my bell in all the right ways. Most of ours, actually. To see people first experience the level of magic I had only ever found there was the kind of wonder that could bring us to our knees.

With the miserable experience of getting there and having to set up at night more than once in the past, my lowest of lows for those years, it was a happy relief that we had gotten there midday. It gave us time to build our individual homes for the week, mine being the second dropoff after Elena (aka: Glenda the Good as she was deemed for a burner name at warp-speed) at her Russian camp, You are Healer , and to either reunite or get introed to new campmates while helping to build our theme camps. A couple of the new guys I met, by the way, that I used the last of my favorite hot pink lipstick on.
After two more of my first new pals in camp helped me set up, a couple of Indian fellas from LA who were super excited to be there for their first time, Mia had found her way back over after getting set up at her own camp, Cheesy Porn. It hadn’t been far from my own, Spanky’s Wine Bar, but was still above and beyond to bring the things I had forgotten in the RV. As was all to common at the burn in regard to expecting the unexpected and it being so easy to bond, that quickly lead to hanging. Something that included a ride on one of my most-visited camp spots for the week, a Sybian. A fascinating (an expensive) machine in that all it looked like was a simple horse saddle with a lump (attachments are an option) that can be ridden fully clothed (if chosen) while giving women an intense orgasm. An experience for Mia that entertainingly puzzled the two of us in that semi-private trailer turned sacred safe space as it made her laugh uncontrollably. Spanky’s is obviously known for wine but also for PBR (playa beer) and for being playfully sex-positive. Beyond the Sybian was erotic massage with multiple sensory stimulations, especially an experience named by the campmates gifting it as Eros Tangere, naughty games at the bar and a stripper pole in the middle of the circus-like tent space that the camp was centered around.

Adding to the gang of new burner buds was a couple who had almost immediately offered me the shower in their RV along with napping any time I needed. Crash and Rex were super awesome and, among the many I bonded with, the closer of my new amigos. In no small part, I’d imagine, due to the time Crash and I got to spend together with her bartending while I barbacked. We both took on those rolls a lot during the first few days. It was by far the largest camp I had been with and the burn brought out such an amazingly loving connectedness that it was hard to not want to give back and participate.
The next day was the official first day of the burn. After grumbling to myself about adorning my body with the weekly atire of a Camelback, a scarf to breathe through in dust storms, goggles and a whole bunch more necessities one never wants to be caught without (including a more heavy-duty mask in my bike basket and mist bottles to gift), Mia and I took advantage of the morning hours to bike around the playa. Myself, beyond the things previously mentioned, in nothing more than a fanny pack, unicorn horn and hot pants. As we peddled around checking out camps on the Esplanade (the main street all the way on the inside of the u-shape of the “suburbs” that included the biggest, oldest, arguably most fabulous and eco-friendly camps), we managed to find Hardley Saloon. A camp that had always been one of my favorites with it’s theme being an all-night whiskey bar and old-West style saloon. Svetlana even went on a date with one of their main campers when we met him at the SF Decompression event a month or two later.
Once the temp started getting too hot to wander comfortably, I headed to Brigit & Aaron’s camp, Go the Fuck to Sleep. They were part of a neighborhood full of Rangers where I would, of course, be visiting a few times throughout the burn. Something I was particularly happy about that day as the worst dust storm I experienced for the year (along with a tiny bit of rain) meant that cars would be stopped at the gate due to visibility. Also holding them up was that more people than Nevada would allow were trying to get in. More and more examples of the ways the line could take so long. A big “whoopsie” on behalf of the org and why I was so thankfully relieved to come early entry.
In addition to finding shelter with Brigit and Aaron from the dust storm, it also provided one of my most entertaining moments for the year when Aaron came looking for after he got the feeling that I’d get lost on my way back from the blue rooms. Which I did. Opting to stay and hang back at camp later on with an “early” bedtime around midnight, the official day one was complete.

Back to the Burn 2018

It was time once again to head out to my favorite place in the whole world (and by far the most transformative), Burning Man.
After my aging parents had accidentally donated important belongings I had boxed up in their garage, I had secured a semi-seedy storage unit the size of a closet but for only $40 a month. Thanks to having a place for it, I was able to save supplies, I was able to cut down in my quest for what I still needed to two or three trips to pick up items found on Craigslist (like a bike), Dixieline (swamp cooler) and four or five orders off Amazon (costumes, heating packs, etc.). Maybe a little silly, I was excited and proud of myself for being ahead of the curve compared to my previous three years.
All set with my own personal checklist, or at least as much as I was going to be for the year, I had been up until 11:30 PM the night before hanging and handling last minute prep with the help of Fuckin Jewels and then unintentionally woke up at 4 AM before exhaustedly heading out during 7 AM rush hour to meet up with my carpool in the nicer pocket of a questionable area of San Diego known as City Heights. The lead of my ride, Mia, lived there and was the only woman of the four I had previously met. I liked her instantly.
Radiating kindness, playfulness and a caregiving spirit even online, the vibes I had been getting had only been solidified once meeting her in person when I had stopped in on her enjoying champagne brunch in Old Town after a run for a fun “drinking group with a running problem” she would later introduce me to called the Hash House Harriers. Being around the same age (which, as usual, would take a few reminders for her to remember), being a nurse (my people) and constantly flashing a big and playful jokeresque smile which was endearingly accentuated by being a petite Asian-American, I was already casually hoping we would develop a friendship beyond rideshare companions.
Starting what I had come to find as an experience within itself, the journey to the burn had begun with my already being worn out and hazy from not yet having time to recover from India. Thoughts about the irony of decompressing from that trip by going to my own intense journey of pilgrimage kept me amused albeit a wee bit nervous while unloading my car and packing the RV. Mia along with Rebecca, an aging (and proving we can still live fab over 30) ex porn star with the style of a cheerleader barbie doll were the women I had originally met on the local Facebook burner page who were going to be staying in the RV and were leading the rideshare. Well, Mia was really the one holding the reigns with a pop-in from Rebecca on rare of occasion.
Heading out a couple days earlier than originally intended, the three of us who had joined in for rides only, myself and two younger women, had been caught offguard when being told about extra expenses too late to figure something else out without excessive stress and effort. Specifically, we would be staying at hotels in Lake Tahoe for two nights on the way there and two in Reno on the way back. Not only was the cost of the rooms added to our budget but also the extra days we would have to take off work. Ballin’ on a budget meant that the start of the trip was a little more stressful (in line with expecting the unexpected when it came to the burn) but was also exciting once given the OK to pay later. Specifically for the ideas not only of comfort on the way there and back but also getting to spend time in our beloved Tahoe and a huge pool party on the way back. For all the things the burn was, comfort was NOT one of them. I didn’t fully know it then but those two adjustments were about to provide experiences that I was to want to become a normal part of my annual routine from then on.
I was not a patient woman and it was only getting worse the older I got and the more I got used to being alone. In was also ten-fold at the burn thanks to sleep-deprivation and to being at my limit of stimulation. In ironic contrast, that left me with so much love to give but also very little tolerance. Something I tried to reign in as Rebecca was on nonstop mode with whippets and complaing which both tested my limits by grating on my nerves and worrying me. I was able to find some compassion for it, though, as I got the impression it was related to anxiety and, while it seemed likely that she used to be a sparkle pony, she had learned to chip in. Maybe not as much as Mia (little Mizz kick ass doing everything) and on a lesser note myself (who was feebly trying to support Mia) but still tried. By the end of the burn, I had mixed feelings about her. Something that meant I’d probably like her in a less stressful environment where we weren’t required to be up in each other’s personal space while also relying on each other so much.
Elena, a cutie-pie joining our crew who also followed in line with myself and Mia in regard to looking younger than our actual ages, something accentuated by her being tall and thin with a blond bob, was a chatty 29 year old woman with a strong Russian accent who still had an innocence to her despite how scrappy she had provento be by all she had gone through coming to America. A sign that she was going to do great on the playa.
Having issues with the air-conditioner not working in the huge RV as we all took turns driving from SD to Tahoe, the two of us woke up alone in the hotel our first morning in that enchanted lake town full of pine trees as Mia and Rebecca had left to get the RV looked at. The scent and sunshine refreshing us as soon as we stepped out in our sundress-covered bikinis to walk down to the lake, myself also being filled with memories of childhood family trips, I was happy. I was also instantly overwhelmed by nonstop chatting being directed at me as it was just the two of us (the fifth and youngest of us five, Jewels, had taken off with a local friend the night before) as we walked up to a local gal miserably trying to smile through a cold while doing her job of granting access to the lake’s beach. Talking to her for a few minutes, the attention went back to being all on me as we laid there sunbathing while I wished for quiet meditative time while at the same time not wanting to cast her spirits down by asking for it. Trying not to be distracted, it bummed me put that I wasn’t in a better headspace to meet her on that plane as she was such a sweetheart, low-maintenance and had been doing her part to chip in. Dropping her off the next day with her Russian camp, I look back and wish I would have made more of an effort to roam the playa with her. Even if she WAS on the other side of the playa. 😜
Jewels (not FJ/Fuckin Jewels), a woman in her earlier twenties, was the youngest and the one who, while I could see the sweet side of a girl who wanted to do the right thing somewhere in there, more so both infuriated and insulted me with a constant ignorance and self-importance that I could only hope was an immaturity that would be outgrown. Also because, once again, I was extra situationally sensitive.
She and Rebecca were both always running late but she was by far the worst and seemed to have a self-entitlement of expecting us to do things for her. Never having been, she loved to tell us vet burners what Burning Man was all about, talked about drugs the whole way up as if it was nothing but some kind of rave (NOT my thing) and was the first to scratch the gigantic RV after acting like she knew what she was doing before driving it. She was a festie and seemed convinced that was what Burning Man was, which was a great big no no in the community. By the time we got back, I actively avoided the brewery she worked at, though I doubted she’d be there long given the team-player work ethic she’d proven not to have. At least not yet.
Rebecca and Mia returned in the afternoon to meet up with Elena and I and were sweet to cover the majority of an expensive dinner at a restaurant overlooking the lake so we could all enjoy it together. An extra super cool gesture since the rest of us were already way over our budgets. Something that’s hard not to do at the burn and they would also be experiencing by the end. Later that night, Elena and I walked into the hotel room after a spa session that loud splashing kids had chased us out of to a cloud of bacon smoke that started as soon as the elevator doors opened and trailed all the way to our room as Mia had been prep-cooking for her camp.
Bacon and PBR. Two things that can be found in abundance on the playa. Giggling at the tasty cloud, enjoying celebratory drinks and joining in the dance party after Mia had also take off her skirt after exclaiming that she was too hot, it was time to crash out for our last few hours before hitting the playa. Well, time for them to crash out. Once again, I couldn’t sleep. Shocker.

The thing is, when we go through such a big and transitional life experience with others, regardless of how we react at the time, we are forever connected to them and that plants a seed in our hearts. In this case, those seeds have grown into love for all of them. Yes, even for Jewels. 🦄💙🦄