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<editorsnote> Hi, I'm Jen Friel, and we here at TNTML examine the lives of nerds outside of the basements and into the social media, and dating world.  We have over 75 peeps that write about their life in real time. (Real nerds, real time, real deal.) Sit back, relax, and enjoy some of the stories!! </editorsnote>

 

 

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Thursday
Nov292018

#TBT: That time I accidentally met Robin Williams ... while stalking @EnriqueIglesias 

<editorsnote> If you're an executive reading this after our pitch meetings, here's a post highlighting what we discussed. And here is the most recent slave post. If you're a nerd, keep reading ... </editorsnote> 

I learned about a new style of surprise party this past weekend ...
 

It's called a "SURPRISE MEMORIAL!" 

I know this, because I ...
... attended one. 

As I mentioned in the last post, I had a series of people (one of whom I was close to) pass away recently. I chose not to attend the memorial for her due to the overwhelming texts, calls, and "drop bys" left in her wake. 

On Saturday, I went over to our friend's house (with the same group of friends that also knew her) thinking we were attending a belated "Friendsgiving." Little did any of us know that the host invited a Peruvian Shaman who does sound bath healings. 

Fortunately, I knew, but click here if you want to learn more. 

Two songs into our oohms and ahhs, she surprised us by mentioning our friend by name and said that "sometimes when people die suddenly they don't know that they are dead and we can help them by inviting them to go 'home' through song."

Already in a vulnerable state and clearly at the "anger" stage of my grief, I opened my mouth and involuntarily burst into tears ... baby-sea-lion-crying on my friend's designer shirt. 

Have you heard a baby sea lion cry? 

It's not pretty. 

Still a sea lion and post song/ ceremony, I looked down at my phone and noticed a text from my own shaman (aka The Modern Day Shaman): 

Is cheating on your Shaman a thing? If so, I might have done it. 

Like I said, I feel a lot better, I just prefer to have advance notice of a hide and seek style ceremony that forces my emotions to "come out come out wherever they are."  

Either way, speaking of someone who is also dead .... 

I shared this story with everyone and quickly realized I hadn't ever written about it. 

::cue post:: 

Picture it. Los Angeles. 2004. 

I lived in an apartment that cost $400 per month, with four roommates (who all had live in boyfriends). I was 19 and had just moved to LA without knowing a single soul. My very first friend was my actual roommate, J. She and I shared a bathroom and a bedroom with our two tiny twin beds. 

Either way, we couldn't help but become close quickly ... 

... and a few months into our friendship, she got a new job over at the Four Seasons in Beverly Hills working at the pool. (She was the one I crashed the Spiderman 2 Premier with, btw.)

"Who are your favorite celebrities?" she asked one day after her training. 

"I don't know," I said recognizing that a ton of celebrities have stayed there.  

Let me rephrase, is there anyone you'd want to meet if given the opportunity? 

YES!, I said without thought, and his name is Enrique Iglesias. 

J the tree-hugging hippie from Colorado sans any sort of aspiration in entertainment, looked confused. 

Do you not know who that is, I asked? 

I then powered up my Dell desktop computer ...

... and five minutes later opened up the internet explorer ... 

... and another five minutes later began typing in the name "Enrique Iglesias." 

OOHHH, she said. I don't speak Spanish. 

I immediately corrected her.

"His music isn't just in Spanish, he's part of the Latin pop culture fusion that began five years ago with Livin-La-Vida-Loca. The man can DANCE, and if he can move like that vertically, imagine what can happen horizontally." 

Do you know how many times I masturbated to this video as a teenager?

I recorded Bailamos every time it was on TRL in an attempt to view the LONGEST POSSIBLE VERSION available. I had over two hours of ONE SINGLE VIDEO and STILL didn't have the full version because TRL notoriously cut them short. 

You had ONE JOB MTV!!! 

I love Latin men. Always have, always will and Enrique wasn't just another pretty face, I learned Spanish because of him. 

Well, technically speaking, I switched languages to Spanish in high school because I had already learned enough French to qualify for the France trip, and now I had my eyes set on Spain next (which I did qualify for). 

I didn't just listen to his songs in English, I was equally obsessed with how the words sounded in Spanish. I can very confidently say "No Apagues La Luz" just because I listened to this song on repeat on my CD player ... 

So we're clear, if we're ever stuck in a Spanish speaking country and need to tell someone "don't turn off the lights" - I'll have our backs. 

Either way, J filed my crush away and months later I had all but forgotten about it. 

Sometime later I received a telephone call on my Motorola t720 ... 

::ring ring:: sang my fancy ring tone that I paid extra for (because that's what we had to do way back then)

"Hello," I said to my friend whose phone number I recognized as I saw it populated on the display.  

(Hello is the standard greeting when answering a phone call to someone you know or don't know, btw.)

"He's here," she said. 

"Who," I asked? 

"Enrique. He just checked into the pool. Come over and meet him." 

Enrique and the word come in the same sentence ... 

Mind you, everything J was doing was considered a HUGE no no to the hotel. They fiercely protect their guests, and as J saw first hand at the SpiderMan 2 Premier - I am not only very good at talking my way into and out of things, but I'm never an asshole in the process. 

J was opening a HUGE door for me (literally) to meet the man of my masturbation dreams. This wasn't just big, this was EVERYTHING to 19 year old Jen. 

Just kidding we didn't have hashtags back then. 

I then headed over to Beverly Hills with the top down in my 2000 Chevy Cavalier Convertible (hoping that my own top would be down later).

This was my actual car.

I began blasting Limp Bizkit's Significant Other from my CD player that I could only play in the car if I had the attached cassette port. 

Blasting "Nookie" I thought about my game plan. 

See, I've always been considered smart in terms of academic intelligence and (more importantly) how quickly I process information ... but emotional intelligence and having ANY sort of clue how to even TALK to a guy at that age was kindergarten or pre-school level at best. 

"Just be yourself," I kept saying.

"What does that even mean," I answered back to myself? 

"Get out of the car," I said back realizing I had not only arrived at the hotel but it was weird having a full blown conversation with yourself when people were looking.  

I then asked where the elevator was remembering that J had given me the details from there. 

"Just walk in," she said.

It was already dark and the pool was almost empty. 

She continued, "I'm the only guard at the door and I'll just walk away to do something else." 

"Done," I said confident to protect her employment status as much as I could. 

I then walked off the elevator and into the pool area sans any sort of guard or checkin (like she promised).  

When you're crashing something, all you have to do is look like you have a deliberate purpose. I couldn't just walk in and ask "WHERE IS THE LOVE OF MY LIFE?" I had to play it cool, and first act like I belonged there. 

I walked over to the lounge chairs by the pool and sat next to the only two other people there. 

"Hello," I said in an immediate attempt to make friends. "Come here often?" (I actually said this.) 

"Yes," said the mild mannered and very hair man. 

"Me too," I said with slight arrogance. 

I then made five minutes of small talk with the couple who looked like they were on vacation from North Dakota. The woman didn't say anything, but the man and I had a lovely chat. As we were speaking, I couldn't help but stare down at his chest; it was so hairy ... which I oddly found appealing. 

Focus off the follicles, Friel, I thought to myself. 

You came here for one thing ...

... and he can run ... he can hide ... BUT HE CAN'T ESCAPE MY LOVE! 

 That's an actual quote from this song ... 

I then walked over to the gym where I saw a man exposing the sexiest back I had ever seen.  

In an almost hypnotic trans, I began walking over to the lat machine.  

Five swaggered steps later, the man turned around and I first hand saw the face of my masturbatory dreams ... mere FEET away. 

Now, if you thought my 19 year old self walked up to him confessing my UNDYING, TRUE LOVE and the fact that I wanted to have all of his babies ... you would be wrong. 

If you thought my 19 year old self walked up to him and told him that I was a huge fan, had a big crush on him and wanted to have sex with him ... you would also be wrong. 

If you thought my 19 year old self completely froze like a deer in headlights at the sight of such beauty, and immediately bolted the property ... you would be ... 

I ran out of that pool and gym area like my FEET WERE ON FIRE.

He was so hot, I didn't know what to do with it!!! 

... and yes photoshop was around back then. 

I felt a tap on my shoulder as I hit the elevator button (satisfied about literally going down since there would be no other type of going down that night)

"I CAN'T BELIEVE YOU TALKED TO HIM!!!" J said in a loud whisper. 

Confused, I confessed, "I didn't talk to him. I was too scared." 

"Oh yeah," she said, "I saw you fail in front of Enrique, I'm more impressed with how you kept your cool in front of Robin Williams." 

"I MET ROBIN WILLIAMS?" I screamed loudly in shock. 

"Yeah, that's who was sitting by the pool. They left right after you got up."

I couldn't find the exact date on this photo, but this is what Robin and his then wife producer Marsha Garces looked like in 2004 ... 

I was so captivated by his hair that I didn't pay close enough attention to his face. OF COURSE, I want to tell myself I'd recognize Robin Williams, but in that moment I COULDN'T BELIEVE I DIDN'T!!!! 

Alrite, alrite 33 year old Jen admits 19 year old Jen's utterly horrific mistake ...

... but one thing I'm not ... is a loser.

::whispers:: and neither are you. 

#nerdsunite

 

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Tuesday
Nov202018

#NerdsUnite: Three deaths in 30 days ... I sent condolences to the aunt, but when do I get to say "uncle?" 

<editorsnote> If you're an executive reading this after our pitch meetings, here's a post highlighting what we discussed. And here is the most recent slave post. If you're a nerd, keep reading ... </editorsnote> 

I want to challenge myself with something I've never done before. Instead of writing out what happened next in this series of posts ... I want to write it in reverse chronological order. The reason why this is challenging for me is because I have a photographic memory and when I write I can (with the help of headphones) completely relive my life experiences. I've never done it backwards, but considering how "upside down I feel" it seems appropriate. 

::cue post::

I knew based on the fear that I felt for going to Burning Man that it was the "right thing to do." I accepted that I was going to come back a different person, I just didn't understand what that actually meant.

The best way I can describe this feeling is to compare it to living in an attic for 33 years completely unaware that there was an entire house downstairs.

I've spent the majority of my life in my head and now I've begun exploring my heart which is building out the rest of my home. 

A side effect of my move has been living in this constant fog-like-state. Some days it's been clearer, other days, I've spent wondering if I'm about to go off a cliff. 

The heaviest marine layer started a few weeks back when I got this text ...   

Without thought, (and with manager in tow) I bolted over to her unit in utter disbelief.

<tangent> Two of my friends live in the same building, and coincidentally I was helping the owner of their building with a project. I had spent weeks going back and forth to their place where we'd all hang out - which is how I got the gig to begin with; I just happened to be there. </tangent> 

Two minutes later, I placed one of the two 911 calls from the apartment.

When I say placed, I mean I was successful at punching the numbers on my iphone, but was unsuccessful at forming anything close to a word, let alone a single sentence. 

One by one, the neighbors that were home came out (due to the sound of screams that my ears will never be able to erase). Still speechless I handed a stranger my iphone. 

Hours later, I watched my friend that I had seen four days before ...

AND who had texted two days before ... 

She never responded back to my text.

... be wheeled out in a black bag by a guy wearing a jacket identical to this ... 

The management then contacted her next of kin as I painstakingly placed over 30 phone calls that day to our mutual friends. She meant a lot of things to a lot of people and the last thing I wanted my friends to do is to read about the news over text, or even worse in the form of an RIP post in social media. 

Call after call ... 

Cry after cry ... 

The words escaping my mouth began to mimic an answering machine.  

"I'm so sorry to be the one to tell you this," I started with, "but [insert name here] has passed away" 

One by one the next response was a loud "WHAT?" 

Some followed with hysterical cries, or tears. Others quickly asked the most obvious question, "how is this possible?" 

Hanging my head low, I explained that I didn't know anything. I just happened to be here and wanted to make sure her close friends were let known personally. 

We gathered in the building that night searching for peace in the sudden arrival of our friend's final rest in peace. 

The next day was spent in a haze. It still hadn't hit me that my very young and healthy friend had just ::poof::all of the sudden passed away. How does this happen? We were told almost immediately there was no foul play, which helped to a degree, but still didn't take any of the pain and confusion away. 

To make matters worse, our personal heartbreak then made international headlines. 

I then received a group text asking if I could speak with the family. 

"Of course," I said without thought ready to help with anything I could do. 

"There are some people out there trying to capitalize on her death, and they need your help." 

I hadn't been on the computer that day but assumed it meant something had broken in the media (she was considered a public figure).

I quickly googled her before the meeting was set to begin and saw the first of many outlets reporting on what happened. 

I was pleasantly shocked as I choked back the tears reading the articles out loud to my best friend (who also knew her very well). The headlines included the words of "icon" and "legend" placed right next to her name. 

"Best. Death. Ever." I shouted with a mascara stained smile to everyone's surprise!!! 

While yes, I was devastated at the loss of my friend, but I also couldn't help how fitting it was for her to George Costanza her own life and go out on top ... 

If you're Stan Lee and die in your 90s, you "lived life to the fullest." 

If you're Marlon Brando and die in your 80s, you "had a full life." 

If you're Johnny Cash and die in your 70s, you "lived each day like it was his last." (Which Johnny Cash did in a literal sense.)

Then you get into your 60s, and you were "gone before your time."

In your 50s, you were "taken too soon."

And anything below your 50s is considered "tragic and unthinkable." 

Her death not only made her the talk of the town but she even ranked as one of the top stories on Apple News. 

Which was another shock seeing your friend's picture as a top story while turning off the alarm on your phone. 

Later that week, we decided to all get together to celebrate her. A small group of us had plans to go out dancing with her that Thursday, so we all kept the date ... as difficult as it was. 

I wore a jacket and shoes she gave me for my birthday last year, and even donned a wig (which was something she frequently did)

You'd never guess by our faces that we were at a memorial of any kind ... 

 ... but that's how I knew to grieve. I rallied the troops and we celebrated our friend, who again, was having the BEST DEATH EVER!! 

I was pulled aside at the end of the memorial by one of my girlfriends ... 

"I can't begin to tell you how happy I am that it was you who called to tell us the news. I just don't know how you placed so many calls that day. I just want to make sure you're not 'Jen-ing' and you're processing it enough yourself. I have to admit, you don't seem like you're compartmentalizing, but I want to make sure you're okay." 

"This is how I grieve," I admitted. "We're all here together telling stories and sharing memories. It's hard, it's all hard, and I don't know what the rest of my grieving process will be like, but with a support system like the one that we have, I'm pretty confident we can all get through it." 

That weekend I chose to shut off my phone and take a "staycation" at a hotel in downtown. I was a shell of my former self, and if I've learned anything from years of travel it's that you put on your own oxygen mask before anyone else's. 

Whether or not I believed it, I was hell bent on this sentence coming to fruition ... 

Over the next couple of days I helped the family issue their statement to the media. I was the only person in the "circle of trust" that had any sort of media training, so I did the best that I could explaining to them media 101 and began writing the press release (also known as an obituary) should an outlet not pick up our story. 

Her obituary was one of the most difficult things I have ever written. 

As I cut and pasted her accomplishments from her website, I focused on the fact that this was going to help and not hurt her. A bunch of people had already made "comments" in the press on her "behalf." A statement from the family would immediately shut down anyone trying to ride her coat tails. 

I then helped find a home for my friend's (now displaced) animal in addition to creating her memorial flyer. As I clicked send on the group email, I thought to myself, "this is it." It's very easy in these life experiences to get caught up in the narrative and drama and none of that belonged to me. I had to begin my own grieving process.

At the end of the day, I not only happened to have a friend pass away, but I was there seconds after she was found. I hope none of you have to experience this, but there is a sound a person makes when it is a "gut cry." I not only made that sound myself that day, but also heard it from friend after friend. I was proud that I was in that moment the person I thought I would be, but it didn't make the "going through it all" any easier.

En route home from one of the last meetings with the family, I was greeted by a neighbor of mine who looked like he had experienced his own version of death.  

"She's dead," he admitted in shock. 

Going back into my tape recorded answer I said, "I know, I'm so sorry I didn't know you knew her." 

"How did you know?" he asked confused. 

"I happened to be there randomly," I said. "I was one of the people who called 911 earlier in the week." 

"We just called 911," he said. "The cops aren't even here yet." 

"Wait, what?!" I said in shock quickly realizing he wasn't talking about my friend, he was talking about someone else. 

Other than ... 

I then found out that my neighbor directly across the hall (we have an indoor/outdoor style building) had been found dead inside her apartment. Her boyfriend hadn't heard from her in a few days and asked my neighbor to help him get access to the unit, which unfortunately he was able to successfully do. 

"My eyes can't unsee," he said. 

My ears empathized as I placed my arms around him saying how sorry I was. 

Losing a friend I was close to hit my heart. Now in my actual home DIRECTLY ACROSS THE HALL, my (very young) neighbor was ALSO found dead. 

I wasn't close to her personally, but seeing that now familiar blue seal meant I was getting the fuck out of dodge. 

I was so busy with my friend's death, I had barely been home. I knew nothing, I heard nothing, and my assumption (based upon common sense) was that all of her direct neighbors were going to be questioned. 

I wasn't willing to sit through a repeat of the life experience I had just days before. This TRULY didn't belong to me, and I already had so little left to give to anyone. 

I then called the Music Man asking him to come over and a few hours later, he arrived shocked at how bright my apartment was. (I normally like to live in a cave.) 

"You're obviously freaked out," he said. "I've never seen your place lit like this." 

"I'm going to be freaked out until I find out what she died from. If it's foul play of any kind, I'm moving." 

"I can't believe this not only just happened to your friend, but for you to come home to also find your neighbor deceased." 

I was aware of what was happening immediately around me, but none of it was sinking in. Fortunately, again, with such a great support system in place - I didn't really have to do a lot of thinking. 

Once my friends had heard about the loss of my neighbor too, they showed up at my door with wine, groceries, and even a penguin facial mask that I made immediate use of. 

I knew this life experience would never make sense, so I might as well just continue to make it weird. Life isn't fair. People die before their time, and all I could do was enjoy my own life and honor them by living it. 

Which I did that night as best as I could ... 

I returned to work a few days later, and explained to my colleague what happened. She couldn't believe it either, but unfortunately had some news of her own.

She explained that one of our colleagues (who had been in and out of the hospital for almost a year) had finally succumbed to his illnesses.

I had been the cheerleader of sorts for the company visiting him in the hospital bringing him pizza to bribe the nurses, flowers to brighten up his room, and balloons just because everyone likes balloons (GOD BLESS THIS GIF) ... 

I wish I could say I was surprised, but I wasn't. Sad yes, but no where near the familiar feeling that like a fish had begun stinking up my life. 

Here I was only recently moving into my body yet taking hits to my head, heart, and home all days apart. 

It turns out my neighbor died accidentally (without foul play). My colleague had a private ceremony with his family, and while we still don't know about my friend, I chose not to go to the "official" memorial. It didn't feel healthy staying in this never-ending "death mode." 

"You're doing the right thing," my girlfriends said on Friday. 

I thanked them, but didn't need that reassurance. 

"Now can we talk about the wachuma (the grandfather to ayahuasca) I did last month," I said to the group? "Because yes, this is fucked up, but so is that ... only in a really good way." 

 "Let me tell you," I said more than ready to change the subject and what I already told you about ayahuasca was nothing compared to wachuma was like. 

#nerdsunite

  

Wednesday
Sep262018

#BurningMan: That time I discovered the center of the universe and two days later my g-spot (PT 3 ... definitely #NSFW)

<editorsnote> If you're an executive reading this after our pitch meetings, here's a post highlighting what we discussed. And here is the most recent slave post. If you're a nerd, keep reading ... </editorsnote> 

This is a series of posts regarding my experience at Burning Man. Here's part one and two if you want to catch up ... or don't, this is where I talk about the sex, so does anything else really matter?

Oh yeah, and dear Mom and Dad, it's definitely not a good idea for you to read this, but I love you.

Onto the post ... 

We left the hotel around noon on Sunday knowing it would take us a solid 12 hours or so to get there. I can't begin to tell you how physically exhausting driving an RV can be, and since we weren't in any big hurry we took our time figuring we would get there whenever we got there.

Our "Burn experience" had already begun and we were all slowly seeping out the stressors from our every day lives. 

13 hours later, four taped up windows (you have to tape up RV windows to keep out the dust from the playa), and one flat (but fixed) trailer tire later, we arrived at the gate which consisted of one very long line. 

Playa times at the gate can range anywhere from a handful of hours to as many as 15. We were lucky that it only took us six, but that's still six fucking hours that you're literally waiting in a single line. 

Before you enter the playa you must submit to a search of the vehicle. Luck again favoring us, we wound up not getting stopped but did get asked if there were any "Virgins" in the vehicle. 

Yes, my friends said, pointing back to me. 

They then asked me to step out of the RV where I could be properly "greeted." 

The half naked sorta superhero said, "Virgin, I command you to do a dirt angel." 

That's it? I thought as I faceplanted myself onto the playa. 

... and when I say faceplanted I mean I fucking faceplanted, rolled, and wiggled and flailed my arms to something that may or may not have looked like an angel. 

I was then instructed to ring the bell, which I did twice (for good measure) ... and we were off. 

"Wow," my friend said, "you really just go for things don't you." 

We arrived at camp and parked an hour later (mostly due to how big of a pain in the ass it is to park an RV and a trailer in a very designated parking spot) and what would now be our home for the week. (All of the trailers end up getting "stacked." Getting in and out is not an option.) 

Our designated spot was front and center in camp, and having a friend who is "Burning Man famous" meant that we were immediately swarmed. 

Still scared and not in the mood to talk to people, I quietly dipped out to scope our digs. 

Burning Man reminds me of more redneck-ie version of Disney's "Fort Wilderness." It's just trailer after trailer and these weird looking art installations (some better looking than others) ... one right after the next. 

On hand painted signs, I saw offers to find my soulmate, clear my chakras, visit a dildo garden, and even sign up for an orgy. 

Less than 15 minutes later, I solo cupped myself back to the RV hoping that maybe I was missing something. 

By the time I got back we were summoned by the camp to a mandatory meeting. 

See, when you first arrive the camp reminds you of all of the "rules and regulations." Those include the reiteration that:

1) YOU DO NOT GIVE OR ACCEPT DRUGS FROM ANYONE (as they could be law enforcement and you will be arrested)

... that 2) you are not allowed to take pictures or touch ANYONE without their consent, and

.... 3) that any "matter out of place" is considered MOOP and if you are guilty of spilling anything (even glitter) there will be hell to pay. 

Unsure what they truly meant by that, I quietly whispered to my gf that I was out and going to head back to the RV to get ready for the evening. I then casually but firmly bolted from base, changing into "evening wear" (which was only a fur coat, gym shorts, and a Captain's hat)

Outfit properly outfitted for any and or all drug use (fur feels amazing when you're fucked up), I then (obviously sober) climbed ontop of the RV where I watched the sunset by myself. I don't get it, I thought. This is like a glorified camping experience with 80,000 of my "closest friends" that all want to "welcome me home." I already have close friends, and a home, and that traffic was (logistically done as best as they could) insane.

The group came back to the RV shortly after the sunset, as we all prepared for what was to come. 

Night one, we said grabbing the drugs from our "totally secret hiding place" ... 

I then took a "small rock like" form of molly (which I had never done before) and placed one of the tabs of acid under my tongue (where it needs to melt for five or so minutes). 

We next lit ourselves up like a Christmas tree (in both a literal and physiological perspective) as you want to be "seen" on the playa by all the art cars. 

"... if you're tripping balls and think you see a car, you're probably seeing a car SO MOVE OUT OF THE WAY. Your worst case scenario, is that it's not a car and you just look stupid which is better than being dead," reminded the camp leader during the meeting.

Safety third may be the mantra of the Burn, but as a group we took that shit seriously. 

Before we walked out the door, I warned my friends of two things that I do behavior wise (which enhances with drug use) ... 

1) If I Taylor Swift "Blank Space" my face, it's cool ... it could mean

a) I'm having a super fun time. 

b) I'm having a super fun time and thinking of something. 

c) I'm can't believe what my eyes are actually seeing, but I'm still having a super fun time. 

I didn't have this photo at the time but here I am on a private flight with some of the "top minds in technology and media" en route to one of the cruises for the Summit Series. 

Fun Time Friel has an actual party going on around her and STILL didn't care.

I was into whatever I was into, and processing whatever it was at the time. It doesn't mean I'm not having fun, I'm just fully in my own little world. 

2) When I fall asleep I will curl myself up into a little ball. Don't worry I'm not injured, it's just how I sleep (particularly on drugs). 

Everyone listened and laughed as we then Bayside High fived solidifying not only our friendship but pride from my side in that I was truly relinquishing control on every level. I knew enough of the basics of how to get back, but anything and everything that I've ever considered a "crutch" was now gone. Radical self relience is one of the "pillars" of the burn, and as a do-er I was proud to check that one off first. 

We then walked down as a group to the "main playa area" and for the first time saw "The Man" (which actually burns) the temple (more on that later) and all of the art installations. 

OOHHH, so this is Burning Man, I said outloud as the molly started to kick in. 

The group laughed saying, "she's starting to get it." 

Whatever the "it' was it certainly was colorful, and muchlike my girlfriend said previously it really was like "seeing color for the first time."

Seeing all of the colors ... 

every color ...

EVER .... 

ALL AT ONCE ... 

Overwhelmed I asked if we could go back to the RV for a minute. 

Not a problem, we all agreed as some wanted to change into a onesie for further comfort. 

As I stood by the RV waiting for the rest of the group to change, I bumped into a wizardly looking face that happened to be familiar. 

SHUT UP, I said with pupils the size of saucers. 

"Jen Friel," I said super excited!!!! 

Hi, said the wizard who later identified himself as the Music Man. 

<tangent> See, my gf happens to be a very talented singer, and earlier in the year she wanted to set me up with an executive friend of hers. "You have no idea how similar your personalities are," she pressed. "He's SUPER talented in business, and creative, yet logical. I really think this is a fit." 

Cool, I said not needing much convincing already wanting to shoot myself from the misery of online dating. 

We then went out, and had a great date, but I didn't feel any chemistry. Conversation? Off the charts. Gentleman? Absofuckinglutely. He not only held every door, but brought me flowers. They were carnations (which is considered improper etiquette), but still - it was a gorgeous display. He didn't just "grab something quickly at the store" I could tell a lot of thought went into them, and while that impressed me - it wasn't enough to warrant a second date; I'm too passionate of a person to be with someone I don't feel chemistry with. </tangent> 

Where did you come from? Where are you staying, I asked still completely clueless and not even trying to pretend that I knew what I was talking about. 

He then said where he was staying and I recognized it as one of the sister camps.

"Where are you going?, he asked. 

"I have no idea," I admitted, "which I feel is so poetic in this exact life moment." 

"What do you want to do?" 

"I want to not be in a crowd and I want to be a fly on the wall." 

Done! he said, we're going to go for a walk. 

I shouted into the trailer that I was heading back out, but with everyone on their own "levels" it may or may not have sunk in. 

Radical self reliance ready, Dorothy (my actual middle name) and the Music Man wandered back to the land of Oz. 

We then locked arms as he asked what I was on.

Molly and acid, I admitted. 

NO WAY! He said super excited ... ME TOO!! 

Here, he said handing me a lollipop. Do you have your water? 

Yep, I said pointing down. 

For as "providing the Playa may be" water is one of the scarcest resources, and one of the hardest things to get outside of your own camp. On drugs in general you ABSOLUTELY have to make sure you stay hydrated, but on the Playa? It can mean life or death. 

We then skipped ... or at least attempted to skip (like we were in the Wizard of Oz) ... and somewhere near the scarcely populated Barbie Death Camp (an actual thing), we decided to stop. 

Here, I said pointing at the very large and comfortable stack of pillows and blankets. 

Your wish is my command, said the Music Man. 

Now in a contained space, the acid began to take effect. We both sort of lulled into each other as I laughed thinking how ridiculous all of this was. 

What are the ODDS that I would not only be here with my girlfriend whom I met you through, but we are on the same drugs, AND you happen to be part of our sister camp? 

How do you think we initially met, he asked? 

Oh yeah, I said and thought embarrassed that I couldn't remember much more from our date. 

Do you mind if I touch you? he respectfully asked. 

Of course, I said, leaning into him. 

For your reference, this is called a "cuddle puddle." 

I immediately laughed out loud, saying "what is it with these Burners, man?" I get how beautiful the Playa is, but it's almost like "too much of a good thing." 

I get it, he said, but it can also be so much more. Since it's your first time, you should stay as open minded as you can. You never know what might happen.

True, I said, still recognizing that I needed to abort the attitude. 

We then sank deeper into the puddle as we (poorly) began adopting an English accents pretending that we were faaarrrr better than any one here. 

Is out eliting an elitest a thing? If not, we were hell bent on making it a thing. 

Impressed with his improvisational skills, we whipped wit back and forth for what felt like hours (but might have only been as little as a half hour)Acid alters your perception of time. 

Having our own version of fun attracted more attention, and as the bodies began to dive past a dip into the puddle, I said to the Music Man that we should go back and check in on our friends. 

Not a problem, he said immediately picking up the "I don't want to be around people" cue. "Don't forget your water," he reminded. 

I then reached for the water in the pile of puddle, and realized I couldn't find it. 

"Excuse me, I said to one of the new water dwellers, do you see a water bottle under the blankets somewhere?" 

Yes, he said handing me the bottle (with the top off) served with a side of attitude. 

"And what's this?" he dramatically shouted ... "it's WET?!"

We both stared in unison for either a minute or an hour, ignoring his ignorance and (I think) immediately about faced bursting into laughter. 

Turning to the Music Man, I said, "I piddled in a cuddle puddle." 

His accent (better than mine), responded with, "we piddled in the puddle, oh heavens to Betsy what a whoopsie daisy!" 

In stitches, we somehow not only managed to compose ourselves enough to walk, but the Music Man managed to navigate us back to my RV within a period of time that wasn't considered annoying. 

We both jumped out of the cold and into the now dark RV. 

What's that, we both passionately mumbled with blood full of molly and mouths full of lollis? 

  

One of our friends accidentally left a set of lights inside one of the backpacks and because it was the only thing lit (outside of ourselves) inside the RV - it not only caught our attention, it became the center of our universe. 

We did what two normal people would do in that situation ... and bowed down to it. 

You know that cliche photo of "what the center of the universe" might look like?? That's EXACTLY what these lights looked like reflected from the backpack. 

Now on the floor and on our knees we inched closer continued to be FASCINATED by our findings.

I then grabbed my phone (which happened to be right next to the center of the universe) and began recording a video (for shits and giggles just for us to have of what this bag actually looked like whenever we were sober again)

"IT LOOKS LIKE THE CENTER OF THE UNIVERSE," I said in a shrill high pitch, POUNDING the couch cushion (which had been turned into a bed) "and I love how the center of the universe appeared in a backpack to two people in an RV at Burning Man." 

"We mustn't think," said the Music Man. "We must just observe." 

"IT'S ONLY MONDAY," I SHOUTED mentally dipping from a wildly crazy creative capacity to a hilariously logical "WTF ARE WE ACTUALLY DOING" perspective. 

Sure, we both knew we weren't literally looking at the center of the universe, but in that moment none of it mattered. Spar after spar we intellectually "yes and-ed" (a basic rule of improv) ourselves throughout the rest of the evening. 

In total we managed to spend 13 (actual) hours in the RV together.

We are both people that like to break things down, so we talked about social constructs, our family dynamics (from both a nature and nurture perspective), where the universe is going (which was technically rude since it was staring at us in the face) and what our "actual" intentions were (meaning the things we didn't want to admit outloud to even ourselves)

Sometime later, I woke up in my little ball on the bed next to the center of the universe.

Music Man was standing on the steps of the RV staring at what I don't know, but what I did know was that the room was still "breathing." 

"Look at this wallpaper," I said pointing to the wall. 

"Wooahhh," he said still feeling the effects. 

Moments later, my gf entered asking "what happened in here last night?" 

"What do you mean," I asked naively. 

"We came back a few hours ago and you were curled up into a little ball on the floor and my friend was standing over what looked like your lifeless body. My very first thought was, 'he killed Jen,' but then I remembered what you said about curling up into a little ball is your thing." 

"We were worshipping the center of the universe, I admitted. I took a video if you want to see!" 

Of course you did, she said. 

The Music Man then sat down on the bed next to me as my gf opened the RV door to get some air. 

One by one FIVE people individually creeped over asking "what happened in here last night? We couldn't tell if Jen was getting murdered of if you guys were having sex." 

"Neither," we said laughing. 

"Murder or sex? I love the polarities. I guess we were louder than we thought," I whispered. 

"Did you guys put the stabilizer down to the RV?" he asked. 

"What's that?" I asked. 

"I'm going to say no, so anytime we moved around last night the RV would shake." 

The curiosity of the group satisfied, their immediate follow up question was "what were you guys on exactly?" 

Sometime later, the group wanted to nap, so I bid the Music Man adieu and went on a solo adventure to the camp next door. I didn't want to go far, but wanted to be anywhere other than the RV that I just spent 13 hours in. 

The party was as "in effect" as the drugs of the participants, so I curled myself up on the couch and began people watching. (The room was STILL breathing for me at this point.) 

"Hi," said a guy sitting down next to me.  

"Hi," I said back not super enthused to be talking to anyone. 

"What's your intention?" he asked (which is the Burn social equivalent of asking someone their name, which Playa "names" are also a thing)

"I want to get married and have a family. I'm at a really great place in my career and want to plan what's next." 

"You can find that here no problem," he said with a smile that wasn't "flirtatious" but rather honest. 

"I'm not impressed easily," I admitted, "and I also won't settle. I enjoy my alone time too much." 

"What did you do last night," he asked? 

Without skipping a beat, I said "I spent 13 hours on the floor of our RV worshipping the center of the universe which happened to be in a gray backpack." 

Nearly spitting out his water he said, "that's one of the coolest stories I've heard from anyone's Burning Man experience." 

I then told him about the camp wondering if I was being murdered or having sex. 

"You were with someone?" 

"Yeah," I said. "A guy I went out on a date with earlier in the year actually. I didn't think we had any chemistry so I said no to a second date." 

"How was last night?" 

"Hilariously amazing," I said. "The fact that people thought I was either being murdered or having sex says it all, and I'd do it all over again." 

He then turned and regurgitated what I said, "Okay, let me get this straight, you want to get married and start a family, AND you just spent 13 hours with a man staring at the center of the universe, yet you don't think you have chemistry and you are sitting here by yourself. Does he want to get married and have children?" 

"Yes," I said remembering that that actually came up in conversation. 

"Then you have your answer," he said. "Go find him." 

I smiled and thanked him, not entirely convinced myself. Maybe it was the room that was still slightly breathing, but my stubborn self wasn't willing to accept something so simple. 

Sometime later, I then went back to our camp where the Music Man was still staying and the only meal I ate that day was being served. 

Scared of showing him my "I think I might like you card" I kept any and all contact to a minimum. 

"I'm going to take a disco nap," I said to the group. 

One full night's of sleep worth later, I was awoken by a shivering Music Man crawling into my bed. 

"I need body heat," he said. 

Without thought, I wrapped my body and blankets around him. (This is a thing at Burning Man, when someone asks you something, if you are comfortable with it, you just do it.) 

Still shivering, I kissed him on the cheek and got up to get him some water. 

I had no idea who was on what at that point, but in that moment no questions needed answers. I just saw that he needed someone, and I was there. 

I then laid down next to him placing my mouth near his - but not touching. 

I wanted to kiss him, but also thought about the consequences of my actions. If I do this, I thought, I am going to have to then see this person FOR AN ENTIRE WEEK IN VERY CLOSE PROXIMITY. What if he's a bad kisser and then I choose not to have sex with him and then we had this like weird kinda awkward make out moment? The last thing I wanted to do was layer any sort of responsibility on myself. Radical self reliance for the win, I kissed him on the cheek one last time before retiring back to sleep myself. 

The next morning we woke up, and began playing a game of Cards Against Humanity (reigning champion right here). I didn't ask about the night before, nor care to even bring it up. 

"Thank you for taking care of me," he said quietly in a private moment as he swiftly and firmly went in with an open mouth and one very hot, very quick, and VERY passionate kiss on my lips. 

He then got up to go back to his camp, as I formally accepted my mission. 

Friel, this is the man you are going to have sex with I thought to myself, and your next move is to figure out how you are going to have sex with this man. 

<tangent> My intention at Burning Man was, sure to have sex, but more importantly to meet a guy who had similar goals as I did. The reality of that actually happening?? That part didn't even register.

Statistically speaking, I average 434 (unique) messages a week on dating apps, and have a one in 217 chance of actually going out on a date with someone. Sure, there were 80,000 people here, but I didn't really want to talk to any of them. The fact that I knew this person beforehand was the key and now that I knew we had chemistry, it was GAME ON. </tangent> 

I then ventured over to a neighboring camp in an attempt avoid him at all costs, and proceeded to ponder my next doable actions. 

I have no idea why on Earth people keep me in the shot, but here is the EXACT face I make as I plot how to pound a person. 

Logistics are everything at Burning Man. I not only had to find a way for us to get alone time, but also make sure I was as fresh and clean as I possibly could be (which is great since our RV had a shower), and also keep it all a secret (incase if for whatever reason a part of my plan backfired)

I then apple cider vinegared myself past a point that anyone would consider healthy and went over to his camp in my astronaut onesie (which I found appropriate considering our previous engagement)

"Let's go do drugs and be weird together," I said equally as firm. 

"Done!" he said, offering up some shrooms. 

We walked the Playa for the next (however many) hours as he guided me from the crowds and kept me safe from art cars, creepers, and smelly porta potties. 

Emotionally this entire process had made me feel vulnerable and submissive, but here I was in a physical sense also submitting to someone (something I had never done before). 

How did I not notice how dominant he is? I thought knowing how big of an UNBELIEVABLE turn on that is and something I've wanted for quite some time. 

Remember this video? ... 

This was seven years ago. I still have yet to let a man put me in handcuffs.  

<tangent> It's not at all a disrespect to the other incredible men I have been with and dated, but you can only get what you are wiling to give. I have an entire career due to the fact that I have had difficulties with intimacy, and I recognized that I wasn't ready until now for this life experience. I had to be in a situation where I was TOTALLY out of sorts, completely out of control, and emotionally present enough to see what was right in front of my face. 

I wasn't afraid of going to Burning Man itself, I was afraid of the person I would come back as and as I quickly discovered, I was a virgin in every way possible.  

Here I was LITERALLY "making it through the wilderness ..."

"somehow I made it through ..."

"didn't know how lost I was until I found you ..." (or myself in this case which made me capable of giving myself to another person) 

</tangent> 

Back at the RV, I return the favor he gif-ted. 

"To the shiftpod," I said quietly as we (again) not so quietly began ripping each others' clothes off.  

Hydration was for once not an issue as we began having sex ... on the floor ... for two FULL hours. 

In that moment ... ::insert song title here:: 

and while I wasn't sure if I was ... ::insert song title here:: 

I felt the ... ::insert song title here:: 

Knowing fully in this moment that ... ::insert song title here:: 

and never in my ... ::insert song title here:: 

did I think sex could feel like this. 

He wham 

Bammed 

And thank you ma'amed me into a series of

the most intense orgasms I've ever had. 

Unable to move at one point, I joked as I realized I had grabbed the pole to the shiftpod so hard that it looked like I actually broke it. 

I couldn't tell if it was the shrooms, or the fact that our bodies that just merged so well together. I didn't care to analyze why what was happening when it was happening, all I knew was to go WITH whatever was happening and to just let it all happen. 

Oh oh! And because costumes were ready and available, I was also able to cross off "roleplaying" from my life list. 

"Grab that plaid onesie and paper towel roll" was a sentence that actually came out of my mouth. Executing LumberJack fantasies, FTW! (Take that Cards Against Humanity!) 

We had sex as an astronaut, unicorn, snowman, and pilot. We had sex in the RV, in the shiftpod, in the shower (not turned on because our bodies were already physically turned on and we weren't wasteful). I had so much sex with this man that I can now OWN the title of "sex blogger." 

<tangent> I've always laughed when someone says this is a sex blog. Yes, the word sex is next to the headline, but I DON'T HAVE SEX. HOW CAN I BE A SEX BLOGGER IF I DON'T HAVE SEX? </tangent> 

I could feel a confirmation of confidence grow as I quieted the analytical mind, and started speaking to and from my body. I was not only FULLY comfortable in my own skin, I was able to share that with someone else and experience pleasure in an entirely new way. 

WHO HAS SEX FOR TWO HOURS?!?! That was just that one time too!!! Do you know how PAINFUL your jaw and lady bits get like after an hour?? I'm also being banged on the floor of a tent, AND NOTHING MATTERED except the fact that this person was inside of me. 

And come to find out ... 

it was only just the beginning. 

#nerdsunite

Monday
Sep102018

#BurningMan: The release from intention detention (what Burning Man is actually like PT 2)

<editorsnote> If you're an executive reading this after our pitch meetings, here's a post highlighting what we discussed. And here is the most recent slave post. If you're a nerd, keep reading ... </editorsnote

This is a series of posts regarding my experience at Burning Man. Here's part one if you want to catch up ... or don't, I'll somewhere in this series be talking a lot about sex so does the catching up part actually matter? 

Oh yeah, and dear Mom and Dad, it's prolly not a good idea for you to read this, but I love you.

Onto the post ... 

I've at this point not only made the decision to face my own fear and actually go to the Burn, but now I have a ticket in hand, and written confirmation to work saying that I was off like a prom dress.

I wrote in that email that "I was going to come back a new person" and I truly meant it. I've changed a lot in the last three years; I went from feeling like I was going through this emotional puberty, to now seeing through bullshit faster and finally understanding how powerful of a manifestor and creator I am (and always have been) ... but just because it was finally starting to sink in didn't mean I was willing to do anything about it.

Feeling overwhelmed with both having a tech startup (with multiple verticals), a sold TV show I was solely (at first) responsible for getting back on track, a dog with on and off health issues, and friends and family I hold a deep loyalty to provided a strong enough distraction from my own goals. Burning Man meant I would be away from those distractions causing me to face what I actually wanted to do with my life. As a goal oriented person, it wasn't difficult to identify but it still didn't mean I was going to be comfortable with sitting with the vulnerability it required. 

I consistently create work projects to avoid my own ultimate project of self. 

To be in a healthy and truly intimate relationship, I have to learn to change that. As we all know the first step to any sort of intimacy is not only being able to express your vulnerabilities, but also face them yourself. I actually had a friend say this the other day that intimacy is "into me I see." 
It blew me away how simple that is, and how true I believe it to be. While they weren't "forever relationships" my two most recent were out of this world wonderful in their own ways. With each one I learned to share from places I didn't even know I held real estate. 
With no more property listings left unclaimed, I truly knew that I was finally ready (again) to be in a relationship and at 33 (almost 34) would be elated if it was my last. I don't know if anyone is truly "ready" to start a family but I'm ready for my own. (I came to that conclusion last year.) 

A big part of Burning Man is setting your intention going in, and mine was to find a husband. Albeit you can start a family without marriage, but as someone who is old fashioned, it was something I definitely wanted. Inching closer to my middle 30s means that I have to start to make very serious decisions about my still (for now) fertile future.
I've purposefully spent the last year working on myself (as it takes two to tango and if I want an actual "man" I have to be a "woman" myself) making sure my side of the street was clean.
I can't confirm that I'm 100% there yet, but my friends were ready and willing to help in the process. 

"What's your intention," asked my friend M one day over text. 
"I want to get married. I want to find a husband," I texted back. 
"Be careful what you wish for," he said "the playa provides." 
One full eye roll later ... 

... I in that moment made a decision to finally surrender to the process. If I continued to give any sort of attitude of the Burn being this or that, I'd miss out on what it actually is. 

"Let me help you, he said. I want to provide you with anything and everything you'll need for this life experience. You get whatever basic essentials you need, and I'll provide the rest."

WOW! I messaged back. 

With your intention being on finding a husband, I'll come up with ways to help spread that message. 

Never one to say no to when the universe is BLATANTLY providing something, I profusely thanked him for his help. 

"It's not a problem at all," he messaged. "It's bringing me great joy being able to help you." (I've previously helped this person with a lot of things, and even consider him and our mutual friends family.) 

The Wednesday before the Burn began, he stopped by my apartment with two full backpacks of HUNDREDS of lights, two masks, HUNDREDS of batteries (all different sizes), all natural chapstick with Matthew McConaughey's face on it .... 


... power supplies, adapters, first aid kits, camelback, carabiners, a cup, sharpies, polaroids (those are big on the playa) goggles, and a bike that literally represented my intention ... 

The basket even had a dried bouquet of flowers - when I say he thought of everything, I actually mean it. I was completely blown away. 

I can't even imagine how much time and money he spent on the supplies, but all I could do was say thank you, knowing it was coming from illuminated love. 

"I know you keep saying you're coming back a different person," he said, "but don't change too much. You're already a great person to begin with." 

"Thank you," I said again from the same place. 

He then pulled out two manila envelopes and one letter. One of the envelopes was sealed, and the other was open. They read "Cowboy Carl," "Temple," and "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap." 

"I don't want to tell you to do anything, as the playa has its own time frame, but if you can, find Cowboy Carl (he then turned over the envelope to reveal a handwritten map drawn in this weird U-ish-shape), place this one in the Temple, and if you can find the camp "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" please do and give them this letter. If not, don't worry about it." 

"I can't believe that sentence just came out of your mouth," I said laughing, but not a problem. "I don't understand this map though." 

"Don't worry about that part, you'll see when you get there, but this is a setup of the playa and here's about where Cowboy Carl will be. (He circled the right hand side at about 3 o'clock.)

I thank people with my actions and not words, so even though he said it wasn't that big of a deal, to me it was everything. I was MORE than grateful for all of his help and was going to do everything in my power to find the people he was looking for (with a limited understanding of where and how to go about even finding them)

Besides, the name "Cowboy Carl" sounded DAMN HOT, and I was ready and willing to explore all of the "providing-ness from the playa." 

By Friday, I had all of the supplies I needed for our departure early the next morning.

(Our plan was to take our time getting up there, and stop in Mammoth along the way there and back so we could rest. My friends have been going for nearly a decade and they continuously spoke of how arduous and physical the drives on either end would be.) 

I spent the morning and early afternoon working (from home), and somewhere around four I got a text from the NC-guru ... 

Working in social means that even though I am not personally posting updates, I am still on the platform in some capacity for the brands I work for. (I purposefully keep my hands in a bunch of projects at any given time - see what I was saying about that avoidance of self work?? Now you get it.)

 Being a mere two days before the gates to the playa opened meant that half my feed was photos and videos of experiences. Instead of feeling calmer about having a visual, I FREAKED. THE. FUCK. OUT. 

The playa videos gave me flashbacks to the movie Killer Klowns from Outerspace (a movie that I loved as a kid but also found utterly TERRIFYING) ... 

All I could think was ... 

BUT WHERE WAS I RUNNING TO OR FROM?!?! I DIDN'T EVEN UNDERSTAND THE MAP!!! ::cries::

I quickly wrapped up my laundry and joined the Guru, (who also had one of our other friends over at his place)

"Are you okay?" she asked as I walked in. 

"I'm fine," I said. "I've actually gotten really good at calming myself down from panic attacks. I slowly and calmly start calling out everything in the room around me. I look down at my feet first, noticing that they are touching the floor, then (out loud) mention anything and everything around me. The goal is to focus on what's real and not what I'm telling myself is "real." 

"You should be really proud of yourself," she said. "Do you know how many people choose to ignore things that they are afraid of? I've always admired you, but I can't wait to see you when you get back knowing that this experience is going to change you in so many different ways." 

"Thank you," I said. "That's the part that scares me the most is knowing I am going to change but I have had no real way to 'prepare' for an experience like this because all anyone can ever tell me is that its 'unlike anything I've ever experienced.'" 

"I get it," she said. "And I'm sure because your friends helped you in SO many ways, you didn't even have a say in the planning part." 

"That part I was okay with actually. I told my friends if I had to be responsible for planning too many things that I'd have to tap out. I would have NO CLUE what I was doing and will devote ZERO time to figuring it out. I've been so lucky that they've planned absolutely everything from start to finish." 

They then asked if I could stay for dinner (which of course I could since I was willing to do anything and everything to stay out of my own head), and we all cheersed as I dined on what felt like was my last supper. 

The van arrived the next morning, and as I began to load the bags into the back my friends surprised me with a send off reminiscent of this scene from Beauty and the Beast ... 

Their well wishes and endless support was the icing on the cake that I desperately needed in that moment. I can't say it helped any with the fear, but it did make me smile. 

Everything stuffed inside (thats what she said), we then grabbed the rest of the group before heading down to Orange County to pick up the RV.

See my face in this photo? See the excitement ... 

NO BECAUSE THAT IS THE FACE OF TERROR.

I wouldn't even open my eyes because I was actually pretty pissed he was taking my photo at all. 

OH, but see that poster in the back? Do you know the band Stiched up Heart? One of the band members lent us his van and trailer for the burn and even offered to drive us down. We even got to hear their new album on the way down. 

Here's some of their earlier work that you might know ... 

Finally Free has over 3 million views, and Grave has just over 2 million. 

In between songs my girlfriend piped up and said, "if anyone asks, we are two couples heading to Oregon for the week. We're not sure if we'll make it the entire way, but we're planning on driving up the California coast and seeing how far we can get." 

See, RV owners aren't exactly super enthused to rent out their trailers to Burners. Frankly, I think if you own an RV in the California/ Nevada area and rent it out during the week of Burning Man, you're already stupid and deserve every bit of dust collected. 

Playa dust is its own beast. It doesn't just "come off," you have to soak everything in vinegar, harness loads of elbow grease, and THEN clean as you would normally do anyway. We all agreed to be okay if we did not get the $1,000 deposit back considering the trailers that were "open" to Burners were nearly double what we were paying. 

An hour and a half later, we picked up our new home sans any sandy suspicions. 

The trailer was definitely one of the nicest ones I've been in. There were three beds in total, full kitchen, shower, and everything was electronic - which normally is awesome, but at the Burn sucked because it includes more place for dust to hide. 

"You tech people," said my girlfriend. "Does this thing have a GPS or anything that he could use to track us?" 

"Absolutely there are things he can use," I said, "but finding them might be a bit challenging." 

The two techies in the group attempted to view the master control panel, with nothing jumping out to either of us. We again had agreed to be okay with losing the deposit so the rest was going to be whatever it was going to be.  

En route, we grabbed all of the drugs we were planning on doing (which consisted of e, acid, and shrooms)

"Where's the weed," asked one of my friends. 

"Oh ... "

... said the person who was clearly responsible for bringing it. 

Not a problem, another one of us said popping on google identifying the closest dispensary. 

We then got off on a random half paved half dirt road and followed the navigation to what looked like the sketchiest weed shop (which says a lot for weed shops as I personally think most of them look pretty sketch)

Ass, gas and grass now in hand, we sparked a j (minus the driver) and really began the journey. Mammoth is 330 miles from the area where we picked up the RV. The state of California limits you from traveling more than 55 miles per hour with any sort of trailer attached. With stops and traffic, we expected it to take anywhere between 7-10 hours. Fortunately, the RV had a bathroom (and shower) so that limited those stops, but between gas and a final Walmart trip in Carson City, we still had plenty of work to do. 

That's one of the coolest parts about Burning Man is thinking you know your friends, but then REALLY getting to know them. Burning Man is very physically and financially taxing. I still haven't gotten the final amount but in total I spent around $2K for the entire trip start to finish. Which is a total steal. Had I had to purchase ALL of those playa supplies, I would have EASILY been set back another $500-1k. To say that one) I could afford it, and two) have SUCH AMAZING FRIENDS helping in every aspect of every way meant the world to me. I've always been a giving person, but the reciprocity I received was OFF THE CHARTS! 

Seven or so hours later, we finally ended up in Carson City and at our last stop before the hotel. 

We waited until the very last minute to grab all of the fresh food for the fridge and give ourselves time to pick up anything we forgot. An hour and a half of decision making under florescent lights later, we were all utterly exhausted and more than ready to go.

Shockingly though (or not considering how awesome my friends are), we were all still extremely respectful of one another. Even in a combined state of hanger and drowning in florescence ... 

We even took the quintessential "we actually bought all of this" series of photos.

For some reason we took this outside of the restrooms ... don't ask me why ... 

I'm not a happy person to begin with. 

A few hours later we arrived at the hotel (which was a really nice Westin) prepping for our last hot shower in at least a week. (We were staying the full time on the playa getting in on late am Sunday leaving late Saturday.) 

As room service was ordered, I opened up three of my bags realizing none of them had my clothing in them. I accidentally gave the wrong bag to our friend and placed all of my clean clothes in the VERY far back of the trailer making them totally unaccessible. 

Well, I thought, I expected to get dirty, I just didn't think it would happen at the "I should still be clean stage of things." 

The next morning, I quickly finished up some work as we grabbed breakfast by the lobby. When we were done I set for the first time in four years an "out of office" email response. I then closed my computer for the last time as the person I thought myself to be. 

I couldn't say I was "ready" for whatever was going to be "next," but my expectations didn't even come close to the reality of what I experienced. Burning Man was not at ALL what I expected. 

I mean I knew people had sex there ... 

... BUT THIS MUCH??? 

Or was that just us ...? 

Here's the actual text message I sent to my best friend when I got home ... 

and I can't WAIT to share all the dirt. 

Part 3 is up next and this one will leave you ... 

Click here to read part three

#nerdsunite

 

Thursday
Sep062018

#BurningMan: That time being called a Virgin Burner was a "good thing" (kinda NSFW)

<editorsnote> If you're an executive reading this after our pitch meetings, here's a post highlighting what we discussed. And here is the most recent slave post. If you're a nerd, keep reading ... </editorsnote> 

Oh, and dear Mom and Dad, it's prolly not a good idea for you to read this, but I love you.

Onto the post ...

 

After months of planning (two to be exact), multiple panic attacks (which I am very proud that I can now talk myself out of), and countless questions with answers like "it's like seeing color for the first time, you're not going to understand Burning Man until you actually experience it." 

For the last almost decade I've received invite after invite for Burning Man. The very basic concept of Burning Man is that it's a community that appears for a week (and some change) on a dried lake basin and operates solely on a gifting/ bartering system. 

Bartering is my jam. I'm naturally a giver and helper, so that's a no brainer ... but also being an entrepreneur, in 2009 I IMMEDIATELY saw the value of social media and without a quantifiable monetary value attached, I started bartering social media as a way to live. My lowest hanging fruit in terms of sales was everyone (since it was so new), and if I liked their product, I would ask for food, clothing, shelter, or shout out in exchange for teaching them how to use the platforms themselves. (I executed "influencer marketing" before it was a thing.)

Talk Nerdy To Me Lover Pitch from jen friel on Vimeo.

 

FYI, this post feels kinda douchey now, but here's our (still to this day) about us page and here's The Truth Behind TNTML (which is less douchey because I did not write it). 

With that as my baseline mentality you would think Burning Man is totally my peanut butter, and fluffernutter, right? 

The people that I was/ am personally and professionally involved with in tech talked about it in the DOUCHEST way. See this video below which hits the NAIL ON THE HEAD!!! 

I'm not that kind of person. I genuinely did what I did out of spending a lifetime being the one in class, in the family, and at work fixing and explaining various forms of technology in a VERY simple way that everyone could understand. During this time, I knew people that charged up to $12K to SET UP a Twitter page (NO STRATEGY JUST SETTING UP A FUCKING PAGE) - and it lit me up like a Christmas tree.

I felt like they were taking advantage of people and these SAME personality types were the ones that were going on and on about how "incredible" this society is, and how it was "unlike any other experience any human being could EVER experience." All that I knew from my perspective about any "world that they created" was something I did NOT want to be a part of.  

The off the chart douchefactor aside, did I also mention that I don't like crowds? Pardon the comparison (I know this will upset some Burners), but back in 2013 I had a sponsored trip to Coachella by JBL. I rode in an RV with Thomas Hawk, Robert Scoble, Sam Levin, Chris Voss, and had an all expense paid trip to the festival (including hotel, per diem and VIP passes)

We were asked to post about our experiences and if you notice on all of the Facebook posts I made, none of them HAD ANYTHING to do with the actual show ... 

I wasn't interested in Coachella AT. ALL.

I instead told a narrative around the JBL swag bag and gave all of it away (due to one part being on the very generous receiving end of this community and one part a marketer and saw the value in exposure vs needing more "things.") ... 

JBL was SUPER happy (you can read the post here) and see this video here. 

I make it a habit to go left anytime everyone else is going right. I either have an extra chip or am missing a chip but the concept of FOMO doesn't exist in my brain.

I don't have a fear of missing out, I instead create my own reality (typically with very few people existing in it). Had there been a band I was interested in at Coachella that year, I more likely than not would have seen their set ... but from a far far away distance (or front row - I operate in polarities - it's my personality type)...

I made it a point to show up on festival grounds to introduce myself to everyone working the booth (they had previously taken us to a dinner with the executives) but then quickly about faced it back to the (FAR MORE EMPTY) hotel where I laid by the pool ... 

... and then watched the sunset from my room because obvi.

I like what I like and I do what I do, so why on Earth would I choose to put myself in a position that would LITERALLY leave me stranded in the middle of nowhere for an ENTIRE WEEK without cell service, wifi, or any assistance of any kind from the outside world? 

1) Because it ABSOLUTELY PETRIFIED ME. (I've from a personal perspective been working on actually letting things go particularly with work, and there was no better way to do that than to be "forced" off the grid.) 

and ... 

2) Because my actual friends are awesome and they were the ones that invited me this year (and I trust how smart they are in knowing what they are doing with drugs. You do a lot of them at Burning Man, FYI and I've only done them a handful of times and would by know means trust myself to know what I'm doing. Read here and here)

Also, I noticed subconsciously that I kept using the phrase "I just want to burn it" over and over. My dog has had really bad food allergies on and off for the last year and as anyone who knows what that life experience is like, it makes everything the dog touches smell. Present party included! My couches, chairs, clothing ... I was ready to get rid of all three anyway, but was also balancing out the fiscal responsibility in doing so. 

I'd come home from work, or smell a pair of pants that Buster had been laying on (that I had been wearing) and shout, I JUST WANT TO BURN EVERYTHING!!!!!! It's not his fault that he has this issue, and as his mom there's not a snowballs chance in hell that I would let it affect any level of affection received on his part. 

The invitation was great, but it was the subconscious part that got my attention. I remember people saying over the years that the "Burn calls you," and "you'll know when you need to answer." 

Having also felt burned out with work (with two big projects coming to an end and another very large one beginning) - I recognized how exhausted I've been and wanted to avoid a repeat of the episode I had last year.

I haven't taken a vacation longer than a few days in close to four years, and I wasn't okay with that. Sure the timing couldn't have been more horrific, but if I was truly focused on letting things go with work, and taking better care of myself personally - this would theoretically be a no brainer. 

I wasn't sure, and all I knew was that as the weeks went on, my panic grew worse and worse. I operate from a logical capacity. If someone can explain something to me, and I can do a little research, I can at least partially wrap my brain around something and learn to not be scared of it.

<tangent> Riding along with a Vegas taxi cab driver between the hours of 4-6 am? Scary, but I also sent a photo of the driver's license to my friend and (hoped) my legs could run fast enough if I needed to get away. 

Crashing the Grammy Awards? Scary, but also knew my worst case scenario was paying a fine and sitting in a jail cell for trespassing. (I also saw the value in leveraging that into some sort of publicity - if I wasn't the person who crashed the Grammy Awards, I could be the person that failed at crashing.)

The list can go on, but you all know most of these stories and I won't bore you. </tangent> 


The more that I researched the Burn, the less that felt like I understood. Friends tried to be of assistance, but again, coming from a logical capacity hearing that "the Burn will be what you need the Burn to be" didn't help.

Besides, just because I made the decision to go to the Burn, didn't actually mean that I had any sort of ticket. Did I mention how difficult tickets are to get? (I actually learned that they release 50,000 tickets to any sort of "camp" that creates art ... tell you more about that in a second ... and the other around 30,000 to people who just want to attend.)

It's an absolutely GENIUS way to create supply and demand. The people that are creating the art are providing the spectacle for the Burners, and those that want to Burn (but aren't providing the visuals) have to work for it in their own way. No matter what everyone has to pay a base price (around $400 but on scalping sites can go as high as $2K), but that type of demand generates brilliant and FREE MARKETING (particularly in social media)

Excuse me but I'm feeling a little ... 

Just kidding, that part didn't cum until later. 

At the end of July, my girlfriend said there was a fundraiser for the Burn camp we would be attending. "We can see if they can get you a ticket," she said over text. "But they have to meet you in person."

See, Burning Man is all about the people you spend it with. Everyone has these "camps" that can range from 4 people to hundreds. This particular camp had around 70-80, which is good because if you have more than that you run the risk of your camp being searched by LE aka law enforcement. 

<tangent> Burning Man also has their own "code" - LE being one of them. Here's a glossary should you care to explore. </tangent> 

I can't say I was surprised to learn this, but cops (undercover and otherwise) are everywhere at Burning Man.

I don't know exactly if that's why they have camps, but it does provide (at least psychologically) a bit of protection. 

To be a part of a camp I needed to: 

1) Have an in with a friend (I had an in with three)

2) Go through an "interview process" (mine was done face to face).

3) And I had to send them my links in social media. 

Do I think it filters all LE out? Probably not, but I think that people reveal plenty (especially in person when on drugs ... you are also instructed to not bring certain people back to the camp ... more on that later) but I do admire at least some sort of preventative measure to keep the rif raff out. 

I passed the "interview process" with flying colors ... 

... and a few days (and $400 something) later, the "playa provided" in the form of a ticket from the head of the camp.

One part of me was ABSOLUTELY elated, and the other part was still terrified. A ticket in hand meant that this life experience was now actually going to happen ... 

Work, work, I thought using work as my LAST REMAINING HOPE TO STAY IN MY OWN COMFORT ZONE.

Why not invite fear to make itself right at home ... I'd happily make up a nice couch (hopefully smell free)... I can cook a lovely dinner ... wine!! I even have wine!!! 

I wish I could say this sentence is true ... 

... but I knew if I was this afraid of ANYTHING that I had to charge directly towards it with ALL FEAR ASIDE WHICH IS LIKE REALLY HARD TO DO!!! 

The Monday before Burning Man, I let my company know that I was actually going to Burning Man.

This is what I sent ... 

Here was the response ... 

Which is exactly what I did. 

I had ... 

Took ... 

 

and listened to ... 

Here's an actual text from last night ... 

and part 2 is coming up next. Click here to read.

#nerdsunite