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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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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 ... 

#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