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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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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

  

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