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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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Wednesday
Jan092019

#ThatAmazingMomentWhen: I got stopped at TSA because of my dildo ... (did I mention this happened twice?)

<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 man, this story is funny, and I'd be lying if I said it only happened once. 

My biggest take away from this life experience ...

is that sex toys should come with ...

a rating on whether they are TSA compliant or not. 

In both cases mine were technically compliant, but did cause a pause for extra screening.

The TSA agent clearly didn't understand what it was ...

and definitely not where it went.  

 Maestro ... 

I went back east this holiday season and part of my packing priority includes my ::buzz buzz buzz:: of an animal that has no fur. 99% of women reading this will know what this is, but for the men who might not, this is called a Rabbit. 

The Rabbit was popularized in Sex and The City Season One Episode 9 "Turtle and the Hare" (1998). Miranda discovers the ultimate vibrator aka The Rabbit ... which is amazing because I feel like Miranda never discovered anything of interest (particularly not her fashion) on the show. 

<tangent> Being the age now that the characters are, I'm kind of amazed at that clip. I got my first pocket rocket (aka a vibrator just for the clit no insertion) when I was 22.

My first boyfriend had an aunt who ::surprise:: sold sex toys. 

Instead of being weirded out by her ::surprise:: Happy Thanksgiving day gift, I instead (curiously) put it to use. 

The relationship ended eight months later.

Totally unrelated to the vibrator. Kinda. </tangent> 

I have a couple different dildos but the Rabbit is my go-to. It's the wham, bam, thank you ma'am that gets in, gets you off, and lets you get on with your life. 

I packed my backpack as usual, nuzzling the Rabbit in a sweater somewhere near the top, remembering first to remove the battery pack. The next morning, I arrived at LAX a full two hours ahead of my flight to allow for extra backup with holiday travel.

As I stood in line I thought back to the time I got caught with a dildo at LAX.

(This part is very true. All of it is obviously - I'm not creative enough to make this shit up.) 

I laughed thinking back to how naive I was in terms of traveling to not remember to take out the battery pack. You can read the original post here.

That time in particular, I had simply forgotten, but after having countless vibrating toothbrushes ::buzz:: in my bag, I considered it a cardinal rule to make sure that anything with batteries shall be removed beforehand.

The TSA agent back in 2011 was female and quite lovely. The dildo on the screen looked exactly like that one (I'm assuming) that she uses, so instead of requiring any sort of search she quietly leaned over and whispered "just so you know, take out the batteries next time and you won't be stopped. When the batteries are left in it sets off an alert on our screen." 

She then winked and smiled wishing me a safe flight. 

Is a dildo angel "a thing?" If not it should be. 

I passed through security no problem (remembering to remove that little piece of paper that is always in my pocket), placed my hat back on, and walked over to grab my bag - noticing that it had been pulled to the "additional screening" conveyer belt. 

Thinking nothing of it, I walked over to the table admitting that this was my bag. 

"Is this your bag?" he asked. 

"Yes," I said, noticing that he did not hear me. 

If an animal played this man in a movie, it would be a sloth. I'm sure he's a lovely lovely person to his mother ... sisters ... he's the kind of uncle who always remembers to send you $20 in a birthday card (and you have no idea which uncle he is but you spend the cash anyway)

"Is ... there ... anything ... sharp ... in ... here?" sloth asked s.l.o.w.l.y. 

"No" I said, my eyes darting over to his screen remembering the only thing remotely "sharp looking" would be the Rabbit. 

Here we go again I thought ... 

processing that the sloth was going to  s.l.o.w.l.y. open up my bag ...

have to find and take out the hairless animal. 

Did I mention all of the other passengers ... 

that were just casually traveling for the holidays ... 

MOST OF WHOM HAD CHILDREN ... 

By the time he began unzipping (this was only as far as he had gotten at this point), I paused him. 

"Sir, I would like to go to the additional screening room," I said loudly.

One, because I'm pretty certain he was hard of hearing and two, because I wanted to be firm. 

He looked confused at my request. 

"This isn't for me," I explained. "It's for you." 

Confused, he fulfilled the request alerting a female agent and pointed over to the side room (which thankfully was empty because his walk alone was going to take an ungodly amount of time)

<tangent> I happen to LOVE sloths so please let me pause for a moment with EXCITEMENT! Please tell me you have all seen this video ... 

Alrite, getting back to the post. </tangent> 

The female agent arrived moments later. She also looked confused as to why we were in the private room.

I clued her in by saying "I asked for the private room for his protection not mine." 

Still confused, we both placed our backs up against the wall as he put on the blue rubber gloves. (This is only as far as he had gotten at this point.) 

Oh yeah, and did I mention that the hat I was wearing said 747? 


It's from Burning Man. I'm not an actual pilot but based on their expressions I might play one on TV one day. 

He then unwrapped the Rabbit from my sweater, placing his index fingers on the head and base. He began examining it as if it was some sort of ancient artifact.

I'm not sure what confused him, the part that looked like a penis or the extra extension that looked like ears made for clitoral stimulation. 

"Oh yeah, you needed the private room" the female agent said putting a ... 

on the exchange.

I smiled with an intense amount of pride as I grabbed the Rabbit back from the sloth and re-nuzzled it into its little hole.  

Look at that, here I was simply taking care of my own holes and I wound up taking a man down a Rabbit hole he had yet to experience.

I'd be lying if I said this was the first time. 

Wonder what would have happened if he had found the others (that were hidden deeper).  

I'm serious on that ... I really did have others. 

Note to nerds: Don't travel with a sex toy that has metal. The beads in the Rabbit are what set off the alarm.

Oh! And speaking of ::buzz::-ing ... I spent NYE with BUZZ ALDRIN!!! I have the exact same face in 10 different photos, and in this one I might have actually peed myself. 

Maybe my next toy should be one that works on kegel muscles. 

#nerdsunite

 

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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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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

 

Friday
Jul272018

#RealDeal: What's your fantasy (that time I catfished a celebrity only to be catfished myself the next day)?

<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've decided to go to Burning Man this year. I don't want to talk about it until I experience it, but one of the things my friends keep telling me is that once you are called and you answer (I know I know stay with me here), "things will start to fall into place and come together effortlessly and naturally." I can't see the full picture of what that means yet, but what I can see is that my actions have an almost IMMEDIATE reaction. This story is the proof in the pudding ...

On Saturday, I received this text from a guy on Bumble  ... 

I wrote "friend" and not "girlfriend," and by singular girlfriend I meant plural ... and by plural I mean 10 or so deep. 

Either way, he accepted the spontaneous plans, and after an hour delay on my part, we met up at the Brewery (still a half hour before my friends arrived)

I found him as soon as I walked in. 

Much like my NC dating master guru predicted, he was even more attractive in person than in his photos.

<tangent> See, I've enlisted the help a non-certified Guru that happens to be my bestie born in the body of a very attractive gay male. He's the reason why I changed my dating profile, and has helped identify which of the matches are actually worth my time in meeting. I'm looking to get married and have babies, which means I am pulling out all of the stops to make sure I am not only meeting the "right" kind of guy but that I myself am making the "right" choices. </tangent> 

From my perspective, his photos were great ... I mean come on ... 

... but I just didn't have enough of that pizzazz of back and forth witty banter that eventually woos me enough to want to meet with someone. 

It's a date, Friel, I thought. Stop overthinking and go meet. 

I mentally high fived the NC Guru upon arrival, feeling 1/2 Emma Stone's character in Crazy Stupid Love ... 

... and 1/2 well, this ... 

We then sat down grabbing a round, and started the ever so painful "getting to know someone process." By the end of the first drink we had covered current location (including every place we have ever lived), work, family, growing up, and a slight understanding of where our individual futures were heading. 

Wanting to shake things up a bit, I asked if he was any good at skeeball. 

"I don't know how to play," he admitted. 

"Let me teach you," I said.

Six games, a 100 point rim shot, and 380 score later, the student had become the master. 

Well done, I said with a high five beginning to now respect him. 

He mentioned during our "getting to know each other process" that he was a rocket scientist (my words not his, his words were "astrophysicist," which is close enough). Wondering if life was pulling my leg (because NO ONE that attractive could ACTUALLY be smart), I pried more into what he did exactly work wise and immediately found it fascinating. 

I had no idea that if you work for NASA or any sort of funded space program, as the scientist you are also responsible for fundraising your own research. Obviously that's spoken very simply and there's also a political element to it, but I had no idea that EVEN AT THAT LEVEL they had to hustle and work hard not only on their craft, but on their marketing, pitch, and sales skills; that takes an OFF THE CHART level of IQ and EQ that I found very attractive. 

By the second glass my girlfriends arrived, but not before taking this SUPER CREEPY video of our rendezvous. 

One by one my girlfriends ran up to introduce themselves each sharing the same reaction ...

Jen Friel, he is really hot. (My name is one word in that group, and throughout most of my life.)

I know, I said laughing, and HE'S ACTUALLY SMART  ... 

I then properly greeted the birthday girl, as she asked where I had found this guy. 

"Bumble," I admitted. "Totally new perspective on men, and I feel like my life is coming together in a full circle. I'm in the process of completely leveling up." 

"YEAH YOU ARE," she said. 

My date was four friends into surface conversation, before I checked his pulse. 

"You have really great friends," he said smiling. 

"Oh they are a handful," I said, but I respect and appreciate you were willing to meet me and them so spontaneously. 

I then asked if he wanted another drink, and he said he couldn't because he drove. 

I totally respect that, I said. Let me walk you out. 

I dared to not turn around as I walked him out wondering what hilariously obnoxious motions my girlfriends were NO DOUBT demonstrating. 

I stopped on the sidewalk as we approached the parking lot. 

"It was really nice to meet you," I said with a smile and a pause. 

See, normally if I'm not into a guy I'll go in for what I call the "confident hug." It's warm, and inviting but also leaves ZERO chance for any sort of awkward unwanted kiss. 

Standing there for a moment meant that I was interested.

He then went in for the hug, and it kinda seemed like he was wondering if I was going to kiss him ...

only I like the guy to take the lead in that situation so I didn't ...

standing there both confused we mutually went in for yet another hug which I wasn't mad at because DAMN HIS BODY FELT GOOD ... 

I walked back over to the group and was immediately asked about the kiss. 

Didn't happen, I admitted, but it was a really great date!

Still confused at how such an attractive and smart creature could be single, they asked again how we met. 

"Bumble," I said again. "I've had an entirely new perspective on online dating thank to the NC Guru. Look at my profile. It reveals everything and nothing!" 

 

My phone was then passed around the table as one of the girls clicked on my messages and saw that only one name was familiar. 

"Who ARE ALL these men," she asked? 

"There are plenty of great guys out there!! It's just ALL about how you market yourself!!! I've known this for a while, but never executed from the male perspective." 

Phones were then passed around as I changed two of the girls' profiles passing on the guidance shared. 

"You took away all of the things I like," she said. 

"Leave it for a week. A/B test. I could be right, I could be wrong. Just try it." 

Done, we all agreed, as I popped on over to the other side of the table. 

As I sat down, I noticed two of the girls laughing and admitting that they were catfishing someone. 

Knowing how attractive my friends are, I was a bit confused. "Why would either of you be catfishing someone?" 

"It's a celebrity," they said. "Do you know Puddin' Tane?" 

"Yes," I said, knowing that everyone knows Puddin' Tane.

<tangent> See, Puddin' Tane (name changed to protect the guilty) is a not only a very well known actor, but to the women of Los Angeles? He's known as ONE HELL of a creep in online dating. I don't know if this has been publicly revealed, and quite frankly even if it has been, it's not my place to call them out. Either way, because we had/have no plans on fucking him, we immediately decided to fuck with him ... </tangent> 

"THIS IS GENIUS," I said super excited. "I can help you confirm your identity. I HAVE HIS NUMBER TOO!" 

We moved our drinks to the side as my own spy mode was officially activated. 

First things first, I said, let's confirm if he uses multiple numbers and or has a burner of some kind. 

We both pulled up the info on the text message and confirmed that indeed it was the same number.

That technically doesn't confirm that he doesn't have multiple lines but as two "perfect strangers" that met him, we at least had the same digits. 

Second, you send him a photo from your phone, and I'll send that SAME photo immediately after. 

She did, and once complete, I sent this ... 

Immediately I got a response ...

"What's your name and how did you guys meet?" I asked for the first time. 

I BURST OUT LAUGHING as I text her answer ... 

See, our girlfriend really did meet PT in Cabo and got his number. It wasn't until she came back telling my OTHER girlfriend about it and it was the other girlfriend who admitted to liking him. Thus the catfishing began! 

Stepping right into our trap, he asked for what we both knew he would ask for ... 

We took two selfies and sent them (one with strategic placement of our mouths) ... 

See that? It visually reads "insert your penis here." 

 Catfish confirmation mission complete, we then level upped our own game and decided to Facetime PT ...

... and like a smart man he knew not to answer. 

Moving onto something else that was shiny, we quickly got bored and shortly after I grabbed a LYFT home. 

The next morning, (I was shockingly perky as a peach) I got a text from a guy I was scheduled to have a date with ... 

I then suggested a restaurant that 1) I knew had bottomless mimosas, and 2) was a place where I knew the bartenders. If the date sucked I could at least make the most of it by hanging with my friends and potentially meet another guy.

His answer surprised me ...

His texts continued ... 

I looked down at the photo ... 

That was NOT the person I matched with. 

I immediately texted the NC guru ... 

I then screenshot the photo and sent it, as I scrolled through my phone remembering that I had screenshot his profile (to brag to my friends how hot he was), but quickly realized that I had recently deleted it to make room for (presumably) other screenshots. 

THE ONE TIME, I thought mentally shaking my fist. 

I then thought back to his behavior and remembered that he had unmatched me earlier in the week. I only knew this because Bumble tried to match me with him again. 

I explained this to the guru as I also admitted my behavior from the evening before ... 

The guru didn't respond (due to him sleeping like a normal person), so sans any guidance I was forced to make my own decision.

Do I ...

a) tell the guy to fuck off.

b) Say WTF that does NOT look like the profile pictures you featured on bumble

or

c) Say nothing knowing that this is instant karma for my accessory to catfishing behavior from the night before and this was EXACTLY the kind of "sign" my friends were talking about in terms of the "burning man experience." 

Guess which option I chose ... 

I then grabbed a LYFT to head over to the bar. I made sure to arrive first to pick a table within the eye line of the bar (just incase I needed any sort of assistance from friends).

He arrived moments later, and looked exactly like the photo he had sent.  

We exchanged pleasantries and began the "getting to know you process." He admitted to working in the restaurant business launching a handful of hugely successful brands. 

"That's why you were so picky on the place," I said. "This is what you do for a living - okay, now that makes sense." 

We then chatted about life, and I got to pick his brain on trends in the culinary world. 

An hour or so later, our date was done. While aesthetically yes, the person I matched with was night and day from the one who I swiped on, but I really wasn't mad at the experience as a whole. Had he put the picture he sent of himself online would I have swiped? Probably not. Will I give him a second date? Hell no, that fucker is a fake ... 

Besides, I already had that life experience. (AND THANK YOU INTERNET FOR TRACKING HIM ... or should I say HER DOWN!!

<tangent> Also, how lucky am I that my catfish was such a giver? I got third row floor seats to the New Kids On The Block comeback tour!!! Who does that happen to?!!? </tangent> 

I then bopped on over to the bar to gush to my friends about my experience explaining to them not only the night before but my morning date's behavior. As I pulled up the photo to show them, I saved the photo to the camera roll. 

"Let's see if he's truly a pro," I explained. 

See, there's meta data when you take a photo using your phone. It erases if you upload it to social media, but if you're directly sending a photo to someone you can see not only the date it was taken, but also the EXACT location. Try it now on your phone ... it's pretty creepy. 

"The only way to turn off the meta data is if you put your phone in airplane mode when you're taking a photo. The type of person that would go to this kinda trouble to take a photo is the kind of person that would catfish someone." 

As I opened up the camera roll, the most recent picture was his, and the meta data recorded the photo as being taken "today" at that exact time. 

"Told you," I said with a smile. 

Mirroring a child who had just been told there was no Santa, my friend looked up and said ... 

"... some sort of spy?" he asked. 

No, I said. Just a nerd whose no longer the newest kid on the block. 

 

#NerdsUnite