Friday, October 26, 2018

Calmer Than You

So I first approached this post as, how do I find calm? As I thought through it and picked through my brain it morphed more into personal truths. With that said, here is where I'm at currently in my life! If there are any items you would like me to expand on leave a comment! I could turn just about any of these items into a post on its own, but I have been working on this for a few weeks now and wanted to get it out there.

Everything is bullshit.

Everything? Yes. The why may become clear after reading through my other personal truths.

Facts are only facts until new data proves otherwise.

A lot of what people state as facts are personal antidotes or personal experiences that are applied to a all future experiences. There is nothing inherently wrong with this, it is how we navigate the world, how we learn, and how we stay alive. But I accept that I don't know everything and that there is more to learn. As far as I know, science is based on the scientific method. At times a new discovery shakes the very core of what is known and unknown. Keep this in mind when arguing a fact, dig into the research, look for bias, find perspective. Be open to new or conflicting ideas. That isn't too say reject everything, don't be a dick.

You don't matter, none of this matters.

Who can really see and process "the big picture"? We can't all step into The Total Perspective Vortex and grasp the full gravity of the universe without having our brains melt. I don't see my actions or ideas shaking the known universe or altering the future as it stands. I guess you could take it as a way to be humble? I don't try to place myself in the universe, I like to believe that my life has value, at least to myself and to those around me who care for me.

No-one deserves anything.

We can earn things, we can inherit, make opportunities, pay for things, but nothing is deserved. When we feel obligated and pressured to give our time, attention, love, energy, or any part of ourselves I find that it feels bad and it isn't something I want to do or entertain. Why would I put that pressure on anyone else? So I don't.

Age alone does not make someone an "adult".

For most of my life I've seen adults as another entity, another organism that demanded respect. As I've grown, my body and my mind has shifted, adapted, absorbed information. Now I see people I've grown with in the same lifestyle and mentality that they had in high-school or college. Never moving from that stage of life. I've also seen others grow into brilliance. Being older does not demand respect, it should be earned. Getting older does not make anyone wiser, stronger, or anything other than older. Growth takes time yes, it also takes energy, focus, and effort. We can learn from experience or ignore it and stagnate. I prefer to learn.

People lack perspective and empathy.

Ever get frustrated because someone seems to be acting irrationally given a situation? 
Ever feel like someone doesn't get what it feels like to ___? 
Wouldn't it be nice if they had more perspective? 
Wouldn't it be great if I had more perspective? 
Lets focus now on things we can influence.
How can I gain perspective? 
What other angle can I see this situation from? 
It doesn't mean that I'll make sense of the situation, or that the other view-point is more correct or even rational! Not narrating myself as the victim helps me to deal with the decisions of others without getting as frustrated. Hard times, bad experiences, happy experiences, strange life moments, all are opportunities to gain experience, moments we can develop empathy to share with others. To experience part of a similar emotion. When I had my first migraine I was crying in darkness thinking about how bad it felt and how, at the end of it, I would have a tool to help empathize with others who told me they were experiencing a migraine. The experience will not be the same, but I felt my own pain and loss of function to possibly better assist others.

Everyone is the hero of their own life story.

Everyone has a story about their lives where all of their actions are justifiable. While to others may see the decisions as detached from reality, logically flawed, morally questionable, or outright destructive the hero in this story may only be able to grasp their perspective and experience, completely ignorant or blind to how their actions affect the lives around them. I take this into account when trying to parse the actions of others. While this doesn't ultimately justify or make every action "correct" it provides me with some perspective. I can then choose how I react and how I interact with them in the future. If someone is always pulling out the extraordinary self-justifying story, I'll distance myself best I can.

Everyone should see a therapist.

We see doctors for our physical health and are encouraged to do so regularly. We encourage others to see family doctors, dentists, gynecologists, eye doctors, allergy specialists, and a long list of medical professionals to keep our body running. But what about our minds? What about mental health and well-being? This has been a way for me to get a reality check and to get a professional view as to what level of crazy I'm at. It has been a great reset or re-balance of perspective and has helped to pull me out of some dark defeated experiences. I encourage others to seek therapy and actively speak against those who bash or talk down the idea of mental health.

Lets talk options.

I'm a big fan of options. Knowing what my options are or thinking what other options I can come up with. These may be terrible ideas and options I would not choose, but a brainstorming session helps me to generate more ideas and options that may be more favorable. I get frustrated when I hear "this is the ONLY way", I see it more as "this is the only option I'm willing to consider". This turns a conversation into a battle and stunts ideas and exploration.

Your feelings are valid.

While feelings don't make a lot of sense a lot of the time you can't control them, acknowledge them, I can feel whatever I'm feeling without bashing my emotions and things I can't necessarily control.

You can't choose how you feel, you can choose how you act on those feelings.

I don't know about you, but I can't turn my feelings off. Am I feeling depressed and can't identify a source? Well alright, that is fine I can feel that. That doesn't mean I beat myself up and decide to change what I feel. No, I feel it, accept it, then move forward when I am able to. I covered more of this concept in my last post about The Happiness Trap. If you haven't read it or the post, check it out! If you think your feelings control you, this may help shift that.

Be comfortable with silence.

While we can't experience total silence (breath, heartbeat, wind, birds, trees) I push myself into moments of silence and sit with it. Not having every moment filled with music, conversation, and noise is maddening at first. But I have come to appreciate breaks in conversation, moments of mostly quiet, enjoying the breath and heartbeat of others. My mind may still race, but I don't feel anxiety when I can't find words to fill the space.

That's all I have so far! Thanks for sticking with me to the end there! A lot bouncing around my brain all the time here. It is challenging trying to identify how I can best translate my feelings into words. I'm not exactly sure why this makes me calm, but I'm happy to have had the experiences that got me to this state of mind.

Monday, June 4, 2018

Book: The Happiness Trap

The Happiness Trap was recommended to me a few months ago by my therapist. I recently collected and shared some of my thoughts with him, and wanted to post them for others who may be interested.

If you would like to read this book you can get a free digital copy from The Internet Archive! Just click the link and download the format that works best for you in the download options.

For some background, The Happiness Trap by Russ Harris, is a book that follows the ACT method. The tagline is "A guide to ACT: the  mindfulness-based program for reducing stress, overcoming fear, and creating a rich and meaningful life". It comes off like a hoax or a lame get rich quick guide, but lets move past that and get into it.

The ACT acronym in this case stands for: Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. This is a form of counseling and a branch of clinical behavior analysis. Learning about this method was significant to me because I feel I have been practicing a form of this in my life. It was positive for me to see this as a more coherent and tangible resource I could share with others, rather than fumbling through my thoughts for an explanation. 

I like that The Happiness Trap focuses on self awareness and acceptance. There is a constant reminder to acknowledge and accept our feelings and emotions. Not to change, reject, overcome, or shame them, but to accept. Being able to take our feelings as they are, emotional responses, and to take control and ownership of our actions is empowering and challenging. Taking the time to observe how our body and mind react, to breath,provide space, allow the sensation and feeling to be there. These concepts have helped me to grow and become more comfortable with myself and my thoughts.

The author discusses how to view our interactions with others. We can feel trapped or overwhelmed by friends or family that are constantly negative or toxic in our lives. The focus isn't to manipulate or control them, but to focus on what we can do. A reminder that staying true to our values and asking for the respect or space we need can help create a more positive experience. The author reminds us that being helpful, loving and supportive to others doesn't mean subjecting ourselves to abuse. While it may seem like an obvious statement, I find the reminder helps me assess my connections honestly, rather than providing excuses for others.

Overall The Happiness Trap helps to acknowledge not only our feelings and experiences, but the feelings and experiences of others. I feel this allows those around us to feel heard and validated. It doesn't state that certain feelings are right or wrong, but acknowledges them. This can help us move forward or dive into the underlying fears with less resistance or defense. 

Half way through the book they take time to explain that ACT is a tool that helps to accept the pain that inevitably comes with living. The author makes a point to distance from religion or religious like practices. I feel they set fairly good ground work and really push to adjust perspective and perception of our emotions. The intention isn't to create a cult or law, but to remind us that these are guidelines and that we will struggle. Some concepts and exercises will work for you, others will not, use what works. There isn't a definitive end to our journey of growth, keep moving forward, and know that sometimes you will fall back.

Something that stood out to me was the author breaking the fourth wall several times. It is almost humorous and feels cheesy, but it provides a reminder to take the time to try and experience the exercises. This also acknowledges that the aversion to trying them is common and expected. This book wasn't designed to speed read or skim for highlights. It attempts to provide some practical application to really get you into a space with less stress, fear, and more meaning.

Overall I found the book to be a positive influence on my brain. There were some sections and stories that I reacted with a cringe or a sigh, but I found the message and concepts in this book refreshing and empowering. Finding "happiness" or striving to "be happy" is not a goal I have. Identifying and living by my values sounds a lot better.

"True success is living by your values"

Wednesday, May 23, 2018


I find myself moving constantly between hyper focus and distraction. I have activities that I'm exploring, but there is a constant struggle for me to stay involved in my work or have any interest in what I do. I don't talk about it much, generally when I share my experiences or feelings, the response is "everyone feels that" and "oh, that is normal", then why the fuck does everyone do something that feels bad? I've talked through some of this with my brothers. I found that if I wanted, I could get an official diagnosis and get medication that could calm my mind. I'm not sure what I want to do with that yet. I'm keeping it as an option.

So why do these expressions really grind my gears? I recognize that we all have our own experiences and perspectives, I am happy to empathize and to share my personal feeling if they may help someone feel less alone or provide encouragement, I don't intend to share to degrade, downplay, or dismiss. I take care to communicate that, take feedback, and do what I can to adjust. Sharing the assumption and dismissing my personal experience makes me feel ignored and mocked. If you feel the same way about your job you can share that without passing me off as an idiot. Something like "I have experienced that too" is better, and you could even offer some positive advice if you moved into a better situation "and here are some things I did to improve".

To expand on the struggle, I feel emotionally drained from work. Over the years I've leaned on dance to energize, fulfill me, and push me through, but now I've burned out on dance. It is hard not to jump into the next hobby with all my remaining energy, further ignoring my discontent with work. I'm trying to be mindful and explore my options, it is a struggle. I have some things I can work toward to supplement my income, like cuddling, which I mention later. I also want to minimize and de-clutter my home. I feel that getting rid of the "stuff" that I've been moving with and living with can help remove some of the mental weight those items bring. If it doesn't give me joy or serve a purpose, I can live without it. I still have a vision or hope to get into a space that is closer to a tiny home, this will help that as well.

That was weighing on my mind more than I expected. On with the update!

I've dabbled more with streaming, Currently I have a regular Monday schedule (8pm-11pm) with my brothers, now we have found a streaming service that lets us share the experience together! Having regular game nights with my brothers has been a positive experience. Even though we are spread out across the country we get time to talk, connect, and have some fun together. I don't expect the stream to grow quickly without some marketing or exposure push, but if we can keep our schedule consistent something could happen. Even if it doesn't I'm happy to have time with them.

I feel pressure to create marketing materials for my professional cuddling service, it would be more cost effective and less stressful if I was to redesign my personal website to better reflect where my focuses are. There are resources available for me to use and grow with, I haven't set the time to focus and embrace this as a regular form of income or a larger portion of my time. I intend on taking a few days off of work in the upcoming weeks to work on my cuddle marketing as well as selling some items in my home that I've been moving around but not using. You can follow my e-bay account if you are interested in what I'll be posting!

I enjoy interacting with the growing non-monogamy community in the area. The regular Poly Cleveland Meetups have been positive. One of the newer leadership members designed a logo for the group! It has a nice mix of Cleveland and an endless love heart design. It is a great addition to our image and has a positive response. The growth over the past year has been wonderful and very encouraging. Nancy has been contributing a lot of her time and organizational knowledge to keep things moving smoothly. It will be a challenge to keep things growing without burning out individually. Right now we have a good mix of events and participation, I'm happy to see the successes we have had so far. I hope for more positive experiences in the future!

I've started bouldering, this was an activity I dabbled with months ago, and I felt that it was something that I could spend a lot of time and energy on if I let myself focus on it. With that said, after going to 3 different bouldering gyms in 2 different states I decided to purchase official climbing shoes, I am very happy with the purchase so far! I went to the Cleveland Rock Gym on Sunday and my muscles are just about recovered. Its been challenging and I'm happy to get in the exercise. I'm going to need to manage the cost and muscle exhaustion, but it seems like something that I'll enjoy. As far as I have been told it is a very social activity, I enjoy pushing myself and advancing, I have less interest at this point in having conversations while I'm out, I assume there is some ideal of balance of climbing and rest, which is where the social angle would come in.

I hope you enjoyed the update! There are plenty of other things going on in my life and new people that I'm growing with, I don't have the energy to share all of that today. Thank you for your time.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Student Loan

So I payed off my student loans this week. Its been a work in progress since 2003, so for 15 years it has been a weight pressing down on me. Student loans always felt like a black hole, something that was just always going to be there sucking the life and income from me.

For those of you who don't know or are interested, I graduated from The University of Akron with two bachelor degrees. Information Systems Management and e-Business Technologies. As well as a minor in Management. That was about 6 years of school while working full time. 

I've gone from deferment, to income-based repayment, to blowing all my savings to pay the high interest loans. I know this is a burden for a lot of people and that others have stories more grueling, disheartening, and are in despair. For those of you, I am sorry, I don't have any insight or hope that I can offer.

Thinking through how I got to this point. I made it through with help from family, friends, and luck mixed with opportunity and action.
  •  I took several years and lived with my Mother paying a very reasonable rent
  • Worked with Nancy to strike up a payment plan that didn't feel overwhelming
  • Set up automatic payments from my checking account (I don't remember if it lowered my rate or qualified me for something, but it was strategic)
  • Took a friendly loan with little interest to pay off high interest loans (6.55%)
  • After 72 on time payments Great Lakes was kind enough to drop the interest rate of my low interest loans from 2.28% to 0.28%

Anytime I saved up money I called the company and had to ask them to apply the payment to specific loans (there were 13 of them). After the payment posted I would need to call back and ask them to apply the payment correctly.

My mind is still trying to comprehend the idea of no longer paying for a student loan. Each month I'll have money not going to these loans that were with me since 18. Just typing that out breaks my brain. This loan has been on my mind and part of my budget since I took it out. I don't imagine it will be hard to adjust to living without it, I look forward to not looking at my account balance every month to make sure I have enough funds to ensure the automatic payment clears.

Nancy suggested that I get my payment history and calculate how much I saved paying off my loan early. If I have the energy for it I'll make the calculations and post an update later.

Monday, January 8, 2018

2017 What Adventure

It has been a while since I've written, I can't say that I have nothing to write about, but I haven't felt driven to write. I feel like I've been on a bit of an emotional roller-coaster, just like everyone else.

2017 has passed, a lot has happened in the past year!

I purchased my second duplex, traveled to burning man, gained and lost friends, hit a fitness goal, did some cosplay, lost my gains, started a Meetup group, did some personal growth.

Looking though my photo folder it reminds me of happy and sad times in 2017. I traveled to Saint Louis, Massachusetts, Nevada, Texas, and Colorado.

I've had quite the range of experience this year, without my photos I would have difficulty remembering the breadth of experience. Generally I feel that time goes quickly because my memory fails me.

To share some of the more current things in my life. I am planning a party for my brothers and I for our 33rd birthday. A friend suggested it to me last year and I figured I would run with it. I rented out the "Silver Room" at a dance studio I've been to on and off for a few years now. I'm not sure how the range of friends will interact, having such a diverse set of interests across three different brothers, but I'll do my best to enjoy myself. With plans to remember the night.

I purchased myself a treadmill from Craigslist this week, I spoke with my friend Dave and he suggested it was one of the best times to pick up a used one, right around now the New Year resolutions have gone into full fail mode and the exercise equipment that seemed like a great gift can't get out of the house fast enough. The one I ended up with retails around $350 and had been sitting in the basement for two years with minimal use. I rented a truck from Home Depot for $20 and picked it up for $140.

It feels like a good investment to battle the weather and the desire to remove the fat feeling. I considered signing back up to the gym at work to run, but I don't want to be in the office any longer than necessary and If i'm just running the treadmill costs the same as 4 months in the gym. I also avoid the feeling of dread from walking into the office off-hours or on my day off.

So what is on the horizon for 2018?

  • I'm becoming more active with the non-monogamy community in the area. 
  • I'm working with a financial adviser to see what options I have investing in the future! 
  • I've been seeing a therapist to find opportunities for growth while working through sad feelings. 
  • I've set myself up to run 3-5 times a week (with my newly purchased treadmill), this is something I enjoy doing and can help regain some aspect of fitness in my life. I would like to get back to my zombie photo shoot level of fitness ... hopefully while maintaining more of my sanity this time!
  • I'm gearing up for a few travel adventures (I'll make some update along the way).
I have a quote sitting on my desk that helps me when I'm looking back on the past.
"Time holds too many possibilities. It is madness to try and re-live the past -- we must accept it and go on. What is ... is ..." X-Men Oct '96 #36
How was your 2017? 

Friday, October 6, 2017


Yesterday I had a hypoglycemic episode, its been a several months since my last experience and it never really gets any easier. I'm posting this hopefully to help explain my experience and what others can do to help.

I'm not sure if this is how others experience hypoglycemic shock, but it is how my body reacts.

Here is some background on Hypoglycemic Shock:

Hypoglycemic Shock and Hyperglycemia
If not enough food is ingested, then the blood sugar drops (hypoglycemia) and no glucose is available to enter the cells, even if there is enough insulin to permit glucose to enter the cells. The brain is very susceptible to low blood sugars, and coma has a very quick onset. Treatment is providing sugar. If the person is awake enough to swallow, a sugar solution by mouth is used, otherwise, intravenous fluids containing glucose are provided. If the lack of sugar was of short duration, the person will awaken almost immediately after treatment. If blood sugars remain low for prolonged periods of time, the brain's ability to recover is potentially lost.

So with all this the primary concern is going into a coma, which thankfully I haven't experienced since I was a child. I do however have a series of symptoms which seem to happen pre-coma, and some panic ensues on my end if I'm not prepared.

Generally I'll keep protein bars and glucose tablets everywhere. At my home, in my car, at my work, in my man-bag, and in my suitcase. Just so I can have a quick pick me up if I feel I need it. Here is the general progression.
  • Hunger
  • Lightheaded
  • Loss of vision
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Nausea
This is as usually as far as things will go for me, once my vision starts to go I'm pretty much fucked as far as productivity and function for the the next 12 - 24 hours.

So what do I mean by loss of vision? Well I see stars and vision gets spotty. I've tried to Photoshop an image to loosely match what things looked like for me yesterday, excuse my shoop skills.


At this point I need to get a glucose tablet and some complex sugar into my system. They are inexpensive but can go bad if they aren't stored in a cool dry place, so having it in the car for an extended time can go poorly.

The headaches can creep into migraine territory depending on when I'm able to start the recovery process, if things devolve to vomiting it can generally relieve the headache for a time, but at that point its probably time for a hospital visit for some sugar fluid solution and monitoring.

So what can you do to help?

Here is a simplified list to guide you!
  • Calm the hell down
I'm most likely already in a panic by the time I let you know my vision is going out, and having more people worried that I'm going to die is not going to help me cope.
  • Become familiar with some of the glucose tablet locations
I won't really be able to communicate or process much of anything very well, I will be very happy to eat a tablet if you put it in my face. Resorting to straight sugar or a high sugar snack or dumping sugar in my mouth may seem like a reasonable grab, and is highly recommended if I'm already comatose, but if I haven't passed out I would prefer less drastic measures.
  • Grab a protein bar
The glucose tablet will help me to stabilize and calm down, the protein bar will help my body recover and become somewhat functional again.
  • Get some ibuprofen or Excedrin migraine
I will have a headache, if I don't have one yet, it is coming don't you worry. I used the migraine medicine the first time yesterday, overall positive results.
  • Help me to bed
I won't be able to do much other than lay in the dark and try to sleep it off. I'll be ready to eat when I wake up but I'll be pretty physically drained.

That is the basic rundown of the experience and what you can do, thanks for reading and I hope you never have to deal with it!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Post Burn: Time To Reflect

I'm back from Burning Man 2017 and I'm alive! It was quite the adventure and I'm very much mentally exhausted.

Before you ask me "how was burning man?" I would suggest watching this video answering exactly that. It captures many parts of the experience and keeps the humor.

I think that some people really enjoy the Burning Man experience, although I wouldn't necessarily recommend it to anyone. While there are those that make it their purpose to attend every year, I don't think I'll be doing it again anytime soon.

There are so many places I could start the adventure, buying the ticket, preparing for the event, buying luggage, traveling there ... since I wrote about the luggage and ride to the airport in my last post I can start with the our arrival to Reno.

Getting into Reno

The flight itself was uneventful, we landed around 5 pm (8 pm EST) and got a ride to our hotel. After getting an Uber to Whole Food for a meal and walking to Target for a pillow, 1 ply toilet paper, and a gallon of water, we got to soak in a jetted tub and sleep in a king bed before getting to the dusty playa.

The Week of Dust

Something I heard a lot from friends and acquaintances who heard I was attending Burning Man was "take a lot of pictures". This wasn't really something that happened for me. One of the principals of Burning Man is immediacy. That and the declaration that you must "ask for consent" prior to taking any photos of people who were attending.

This guideline/rule wasn't followed by all 70,000 attendees, but it wasn't something that I felt particularly good about pulling out a camera and taking a photo or video of the moments I was experiencing, I preferred to experience the moment.

With that said I have about 40 photos from 8 days of travel. There were a few structures and moments that grabbed my attention. I'll include a few choice photos in the blog, if you want to see the rest feel free to send me a message! There are plenty online from others who decided that was how they wanted to spend their burn.

The Ride to the Black Rock Desert

In the morning we got another Uber back to the airport to jump on the Burning Man Express. Which is a great service they offer to burners from both Reno and San Francisco. The trip from Reno is about 3 hours. Once you arrive at the gate wait times during the first 36 hours after opening can be five or more hours. With the Burner Express you get to skip the line and go right in!

We got several materials to read on our trip and an event guide so we could plan out our week if we wanted.
The ride itself was fairly uneventful, it is about 150 miles from the airport to Black Rock City (BRC) and the bus was comfy enough. Nancy and I were together in the back of the bus and people were either talking to the group they came with or having casual conversations with those next to them.

There wasn't really much to see coming in, the most interesting part was the last set of local stores before getting to BRC, "burner" items for sale, a bunch of pieces of clothing that glows and hippy outfits. I was interested in browsing but our bus wasn't set to stop anywhere except the playa.

It was nice to skip the line, once we got close to the gate they had someone get on the bus and scan and verify everyone's tickets. We did have a guy in the back of the bus with us that had a counterfeit ticket. They escorted him off the bus and gave him his luggage. The others on the bus said that if he had any wits about him that he would find a ticket and get into the event before they sent him 150 miles back to Reno.

Later I heard about other people ending up with counter fit tickets or needing an extra ticket and ended up with 2 or 3 free options from others coming in to the event. I'm very happy to have purchased my ticket from the main sale, dealing with any of that would stressed me out entirely too much.

After our bus was clear to pass we drove up, slowly, to the drop. The speed limit getting in is 10 mph and once you are in BRC the speed limit is 5 mph. They were handing out fines of at least $1,000 for speeding. So you want to take it slow out there for sure. Both to preserve the environment and to stop an exponential growth of costs.

On the Playa

Once we got off the bus we were hit with a lot of sun and a lot of dust. There were several Burner Bus employees/volunteers who were welcoming the new arrivals.

If you declared yourself as a first time burner, a "virgin", they:
  • Line you up around a bell
  • Lay down in the dust and make a dust angle (think snow angel)
  • Roll to the right for a while
  • Roll to the left
  • Ring the bell and yell "I'M NOT A VIRGIN ANYMORE"

I did not partake in this ritual personally. I was adjusting and absorbing information and decided that I would rather watch than roll around. I would not say that I feel like I missed out by any stretch of the imagination, I had plenty of time to meld with the dust over the week.

After watching that spectacle we waited under a shade structure while they brought a separate truck to drop off our luggage.

The objective for us after getting our luggage was to find a way to our respective camps. I was staying with Tango'd up in Blues (TUIB), and Nancy was staying with the board game and coffee camp, SNAP.

I was ready to push myself to the camp and get things moving, I wanted to set up our tents, get our rental bikes, and get myself some water.

Nancy was really drained and did not have the energy to drag two pieces of luggage through ground, which was very much unpredictable in consistency and mobility. She waited for the satellite bus to come by and drop her off in a location relatively closer to her camp.

I managed to find my camp after some minor struggles and set up my tent pretty quickly. I met up with Nancy and got our bikes and then ventured for water. It was a bit challenging to carry a 5 gallon water jug on the handlebars of a bike, but I did just fine.

It was quite an exhausting travel and first walk around the playa to get ready for the week. I ended up going to sleep pretty early the first night, probably around 8:30 or 9 pm. I was told that it was the hottest day and the warmest night people had experienced out there. Which is to say it was grueling in the morning and pleasant at night.

The first scheduled event that I attended during my burn was "Ask a drunk scientist", they offered beer and scientific talk. I didn't have a question to ask but I enjoyed listening to them talk about theoretical science and teach them about micro dance.

I found that talking with people and hearing their story and what interests them was one of the things I enjoyed about Burning Man, the question of "what do you do" with the underlying question being "how do you make money in the default world" still came up, I tried to divert or avoid it when I felt I could, I don't generally enjoy talking about that, but it seems to be a go-to even in a remote area like the Black Rock Desert.

Early in the week I decided to take a trip to see The Man, which is a giant structure that is built differently every year and burned. When The Man burns it is a big celebration, there doesn't really seem to be a reason for it as far as I could identify, but people do enjoy the hell out of it.

The experience for me was not as I would have hoped. The general conversation and interaction with people was pleasant, but for whatever reason, out of the 69,998 attendees at the event I end up next to some first year burner that is 6+ ft tall and wanted to stand while everyone, other than his 4 other friends around him was sitting.

After asking to sit in-front or beside so I could see, I pushed past him to sit down. He was not happy with me, but people around him threw a bunch of kindness his way. But pride was more important than kindness, so he stood, and we were able to see a little less than half of what was going on.

Even back at the distance we were, we could feel the heat from the flames. I didn't bother trying to take a photo, but there are plenty of others who did, so I included one of them!

The experience did leave me angry, but it wasn't hard to cool down after leaving the area. And while it wasn't a great burn experience, there were plenty of other experiences and a wide range of emotions throughout the week to process and work through.

I did find out later that someone ran into the flames, I have no information regarding that and did not see it myself, you are welcome to google it, but there is little out there.

Another big structure that is burned every year is The Temple. While the burning of The Man is treated as a celebration, the burning of The Temple is sacred and met with silence.

The Temple is a place that attendees come to let go of something in their lives, to promote an organization, or movement they want to share. There were memorials of lost loved ones, pets, painful memories written out, trinkets, clothing, anything which had value or a memory to let go.

Generally people were reading, in quiet reflection, or crying. There was minimal conversation and noise, at times there was peaceful chanting or singing. It was a place with a lot of emotion.

The burn of The Temple was quite a different experience. There wasn't a big show leading up to the burn, it went up exactly at 8 pm on Sunday. The sounds that filled the air was that of wood crackling and the cries of those who were most likely reflecting on what they had placed in the temple.

I did not write or place anything inside to burn, but I was happy to have experienced walking through The Temple and watching it burn. I would recommend making time for this if you attend.

There were a lot of experiences available at Burning Man, and I feel that if you were looking for something, you could find it. Whether that was a hug, a drink, a trip, board games, dodge-ball, a skate-park, an arcade, aerial silks, ice-cream, sex, counseling, quite spaces, cuddle spaces, workshops, friends, enemies, and everything in between.

I don't know what I was looking for during my experience, I felt like I was mostly just wandering without a direction or a plan, I did this more and more as the week went on, never really satisfied or happy with the experience, but not totally sad either.

I did have a night of dancing at my camp "Tango'd up in Blues" which felt like every other dance weekend I've been to around the world. It was a surreal experience, and it was one that brought up panic and the need to go somewhere else. I had made a friend dancing, Jackie, and she accompanied me in a night-time exploration of the playa. We found several party camps giving drinks and spinning shitty EDM music. We found Tesla towers arching electricity and playing music with the different pitches. There were art cars spitting fire, and a boat illuminated with LEDs rocking out with people dancing inside and outside.

We were out dancing and exploring until 3 am. Jackie was very supportive and excited to explore, she was happy to stay at each place as long or as short as I needed. I feel like that was one of my more enjoyable nights and I was happy to have had the experience.

To share another positive experience without a good transition, Nancy has been approached by some of her camp mates at SNAP to take some time and talk about non-monogamy and polyamory. The next day we had about 6 or 7 people sitting with us asking questions and listening to our experience. We talked for at least 2 hours with those who came out.

There were a few camps that had discussions or workshops regarding polyamory but I was happy that we could share our experiences with others who were interested.

Journey Home

Getting home was a combination of stress and relief. Losing my passport felt pretty bad, but I did manage to get home even without it. Vegas and Burning Man have that going for them at least, so the TSA was kind to me. After an "enhanced pat-down" and a look through my luggage I was on my way.

But even before I got to the airport we got to take the bus home. There were plenty of signs for car washes, trash dumps, and "Indian Tacos".

Quite a few broken down cars and RVs on the road, which must be a terrible experience in itself.

There wasn't a lot of conversation on the bus, I was tired and wasn't looking to start up conversation or trying to share my experience with those around me.

Getting back to Reno and staying at a Hilton for the night before heading back to Cleveland was a good choice. The opportunity to shower and scrub some dust off myself and some of my things was very much needed.

There wasn't much time to relax back into society since we were in NV and there were plenty of advertisements and gambling around us. The contrast between the experience of Burning Man and Vegas was jarring.

Closing Thoughts

I wasn't sure how I wanted to write about my experience, if I wanted to give a daily breakdown or even share anything at all. I feel it has resulted in the jumbled mess that you have just read.

Overall I enjoyed the experience and I feel happy to have had the opportunity to participate. I also feel that I struggled to find a camp and group that I felt at home with.

I really enjoyed the times that I connected with people, talking about passions and sharing new ideas.

I was very annoyed at those returning burners who felt that the nights weren't cold enough, there wasn't enough dust storms, and how much better the construction of The Temple, The Man, or art, was another year.

It felt like a whole lot of nostalgia that was cocking up the whole immediacy thing. I feel that each burn should be a unique experience for those 70 thousand (+/-) who attend.

Trying to chase after the perfect burn or some familiar experience on the playa is not how I envision Burning Man. So #FuckYourNostalgia and enjoy the dust, let me know if you take the journey.

And no, I didn't push the button.