Blunder Woman!

Many moons ago, on the Burning Man playa, a friend of mine came into camp and gave me a Wonder Woman doll that he found laying in the dust. Whenever I look at the doll, I feel inspired. I think, “Yeah, I can do it. I’m just like Wonder Woman!”

Well those days are long gone because I can’t do it all anymore. I’ve spent my whole life giving, contributing, and leading, and it’s finally time to say NO!

Clearly this is all my fault because too many times in the past, I’ve said yes. But this is a new era and I’ve decided that 2013 is going to be the year of ME.

ME, ME, ME, ME! That’s right, just me!

I’ve got a house to sell.

I’ve got a ghost baby to conceive.

I’ve got a blog that is finally (after years of hard work) gaining significant momentum.

That means no more time for alumni councils or alumni functions.

Sorry, but I’m sure others can step in to help with our 20-year high school reunion. Why don’t we just pick a night and have drinks at the Forbidden Island in Alameda? Zero stress, zero planning.

I’ve got to curtail my time commitment to Burning Man. That may be the death of me, dealing with new volunteers and responding to questions about shifts and the schedule and tickets. Yikes!

I’m also big on group events. More bang for your buck, if you ask me. But what drives me batty are the people who can’t do the group lunch or the happy hour, and next think you know I’ve got emails asking for a 1×1 dinner or brunch. At least until my home is sold, I cannot deal with the 1x1s. I’ve got a handful of things scheduled over the next two weeks, but that’s it.

I’m on lock-down until my house is sold and the cash is in my hand.

Bye ’11, Hi ’12

A few favorite memories from 2011:

Having my parents over for brunch and playing Scrabble

Celebrating the Feast of St. Catherine in Siena, Italy

Watching the sunset from our balcony in Positano

My birthday in wine country

Picnicking by Lake Edith in Jasper, Canada

Burning Man: biking late night with Colin all the way to the trash fence and discovering art in the deep playa

The BBQ we hosted in LA

Ordering half the items on the menu at the Shake Shack, then dancing with Keith until 2:30am at the Industry Bar in NYC

Taking my nephews shopping at Toys ‘R Us

Belting out tunes at a piano bar in Phoenix

I’ve given quite a bit of thought to my resolutions for 2012, but the list keeps growing and I’m already starting to get overwhelmed. That’s not good!

I want to read more which is a cinch because I’m a fanatical reader to begin with and 2 book clubs keeps me busy.

We’re planning a trip to Morocco in the first part of the year and I’ll be in NYC in May for work, but I want to do so much more. I’m trying to get the ball rolling with friends and asking them for places we can go together fairly easily. Anyone else up for Portland, New Orleans, or Austin?

I say this every year, but I swear, we’re going to volunteer this year. I’ve got action items scheduled in my calendar to ensure that we do that. We’re a couple blocks away from Glide. Plus I’ve had my eye on an organization that does outdoor activities with mentally-challenged kids on weekends to give their parents much-needed time off.

Last time I went to the doctor for my first physical in years, the nurse asked how many hours a week I exercised. I told her I didn’t exercise. She furrowed her eyebrows, no exercise? No. I run a race every quarter so you can say I exercise, I dunno, an hour every quarter? Not sure how hard that is to write down in my medical record, but you’d think I’d given her a quadratic equation to solve. So on that front, we’re locked down for a couple races already. I’ve also ratcheted up my flexible health spending dollars so I can do acupuncture consistently. Loving that.

As much as I love eating and trying out all the new hot spots, I’m on a mission this coming year to discover all the places that are yummy that are inexpensive. Yesterday, I discovered a coffee spot one block away that also serves the BEST banh mi vietnamese sandwiches for $3. I’m already thinking of hitting them up every morning before I go to work. Fresh Brew Coffee at 882 Bush Street. TO-DIE-FOR. Park in front, stick a quarter in the meter, and get your meal to go.

But the one thing that I’m resolved to do is this: practice. In my formative years, I was always practicing something: piano, dance, a foreign language. Every day, I want to practice something, anything. And that’s where I’m getting confused. Should it be writing since I could surely practice that craft more.

I thought about learning the very practical Spanish language, but someone told me (and I fervently agree) that to really become fluent in a language you must move to a country where that is the main language. Otherwise, you’ll never really get it, or you’ll lose what you learned because you’re not ingrained in it, so that’s a waste.

I thought about taking an art class like painting, but I’ll probably be more frustrated than interested.

Also thought about taking up dance, but to practice, you need a big open space and our small apartment wouldn’t make that easy.

Lastly, I discovered a singing class two blocks down taught by an actress who teaches in SF and LA. Get this, she has all her students take singing classes first even if all they want to do are her acting classes. Something about how singing helps you project and become more aware of your body. Fascinating. We’ll see how much she costs.

So many options…so much ahead for 2012. Extremely excited.

Money Monday: Burning Man Swag

Since I’m just coming off my Burning Man high, I thought I’d share some pics of all the great loot I brought back from the playa. The most ever! I guess when you work harder than you ever had, people appreciate you more and you get presents. Remember Burning Man operates as a gift economy. So even though this column is supposed to be about money, this just goes to show that there are societies that operate completely non-monetarily. I LOVE MY GIFTS! So grateful for everything I got, even if it’s not pictured here.

Patches! Who doesn’t love long-lasting patches? I’m ready to stitch this stuff on now.


And look at these bomb-ass stickers! You know a Burner from all the stickers they put on their Mac laptops or their cars. Anyone remember my crappy car all decked out with stickers? Mean Dean removed all but one. Boo!


Pretty pretty necklaces. I am going to put these on a charm bracelet.


Here is a close-up. See that personalized one with my name? My friend Brian was so sweet and had that made for me when I gifted him with a ticket. That one, obviously, is my favorite.

I also got a bunch of warm, good quality hoodies and t-shirts, but all of that is a pile waiting to be washed. They are filthy with dust because I wore them during the event.

Playing in the Desert for the Next Week

And I’m off! I will not be blogging, checking email, or phone calls for the next week. That’s what I call a vacation!

I will be working, but very happily skipping around the desert. Yee-hah! SO EXCITED!!!

For all you Burners, you know where to find me. I’ll be at the ARTery and camping there in the smallest trailer imaginable.



What to Pack for Burning Man

2011 Rites of Passage poster by Cory & Catska

After 9 years of attending Burning Man, I have a pretty good sense of how you should prepare. Here is the most important thing. Read this carefully. The most important thing is that you arrive in Black Rock City safely, you leave safely, and you arrive home intact. That is true wisdom right there. PLEASE BE SAFE. One of the jokes at Burning Man is “safety third.” I laugh every time I hear it. It gives people license to climb to the very top of a 50 foot structure. But safety is not a joke and I have seen scary situations first-hand. RVs and cars crunched, collapsed, overturned on the side of the road. I see it all the time! Take turns driving. Make sure you are well-rested. Make sure the driver has an alert passenger who is also watching carefully. Take breaks.

How many times have I gotten pulled over for speeding? Let’s just say many years ago, I almost had my license suspended—during a time when I absolutely needed my car for work. That’s a bad situation. So pay attention to every speed limit sign. In Gerlach, you will need to slow down. Obey that limit, otherwise you will get pulled over.

On a happy note, make sure that you stop in either direction at one of the taco stands and get Indian tacos. Those are some of my best memories. Indian tacos!

Read the Survival Guide. If you buy a ticket, you’ll get one mailed to you. Otherwise, read it online. I read this every year. It is required reading with helpful tips on what’s new, safety, exodus, etc. Don’t be that first time burner who misses out on some really good information. Many smart tips from seasoned burners are in the guide!

I’m not going to give you a litany of all the crap you should pack. You can find most of that in the survival guide. My advice is to be prepared for the most extreme hot and cold weather you have ever experienced. Pack as if you’re going to the Philippines in the summer. Pack as if you’re going to Antarctica to see the Emperor penguins. Pack for extreme weather. I get heat rashes. After a week, little bumps start appearing all over my arms and thighs no matter how much sunscreen I’ve been applying. Do as much as you can to shade yourself. Also make note of the Walmart locations in Reno to pickup any last minute items.

In addition to a camera, I wish I’d had a flip camera or video capability to capture what a picture doesn’t—the roller coaster ride, the zip line, the Homouroboros zoetrope.

If you don’t have a lock on your bike, it will get stolen. Lock your bike at all times. Also, you can get disoriented and think you left your bike in a specific space. While you reorient yourself and get your bearings, it will give you peace of mind to know that you locked your bike and that it’s definitely there. Locking and unlocking your bike should be easy. I have a kiddie lock with a simple key that I keep strapped to my wrist. So easy to click in and out while watching other people deal with chains and complicated U-locks. Any simple lock is fine. Also, having a basket on your bike is huge!

One tip I like is to make your first picture: a piece of paper with your name, playa name, camp name, specific camp location, phone number, email address. That way if your camera gets lost, they know how to find you.

Make sure you have a backpack and bring a pen, pencil, and paper. It’s so nice to be able to write down events that you hear about ad hoc while chatting with people. A wedding here, a dinner there. That stuff ain’t going to stick in your head.

There’s no vending or exchange of currency on the playa with the exception of the Café. Make sure you bring lots of cash because the chai iced teas are to die for!

Bring pre-stamped postcards and envelopes to mail to all your Burner friends who can’t make it that year. I’ve never received mail, but I believe they have the BRC mark on it. Anyone know? Pre-stamped postcards also make great gifts since you can’t buy stamps at the post office. Remember, there’s no vending. It’s a fully-functioning post office without the ability to purchase stamps.

Since Burning Man is a gift economy, here are some of my favorite ideas for gifts: lip balm, lavender-scented anything, patches. Every year, I have someone come up to me and say “That patch is from my camp. We made those in 2007!”

You want to be a savior? Bring toilet paper to any of the porta-potties near the big sound camps on Friday or Saturday night. The porta-potties always run out of tp in the middle of the night. I have had women beg me when they see me taking my roll of toilet paper out of my backpack.

But the best gift of all is just giving of yourself: helping your neighbor setup her tent, helping a theme camp setup their shade structure, preparing a meal with friends, giving someone a bottle of water when you see them struggling.

The first time I went to Burning Man, my boyfriend told me to pack costumes. That was his advice to me. He told me to look at pictures and buy things so that I could fit in. That is the lamest advice I’ve ever been given. Burning Man is what you make of it. You can be all jazzed out or naked. Come in your t-shift and shorts if that’s who you are. Don’t fall into this trap of needing to get ‘playafied.’ There are people who will look down at you and think you’re not participating because you’re not wearing fur which is total bullshit. Come as your unique self. If you express yourself by dancing or reading poetry in the Café, that’s what real. Not your fucking costume! I hate that shit. A city of 50,000 should have 50,000 ways to express itself. Everyone is welcome.

Second to last point I need to make, buy your happy pills (if that’s something you do) before you get to the desert. Don’t go in search of that stuff when you’re on the playa. There are undercover cops. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s very scary. Get your goods from the default world from people you trust.

Lastly, the wait is torturous! The wait to drive into the city, the wait at Will Call, the wait at the gate. Exodus. Oh, the hell that is Exodus. Be forewarned. Be ready to entertain yourself, your camp mates, your car mates while you W-A-I-T!

Are you getting excited yet?!

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