My Profoundly Simple Burning Man Takeaway

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I had no idea what to expect going into Burning Man, aside from the knowledge that it was the supposed holy grail of festivals, without being an actual festival. A few moments came as more than mildly shocking- but those happened more along the lines of “I am by choice biking at night in a dust storm with 0 visibility while slightly intoxicated at the same time as 80,000 other people… Let’s again put the emphasis on by choice,” and less along the lines of, “oh look, the 100th naked person I’ve seen today. (Hope they’ve been reapplying sunblock).” The group that I went with has attended countless festivals, camping trips and holiday celebrations together, and venturing into the desert together certainly felt right, however much it may have impeded experiencing full participation in the wider Burning Man community. If I go again I’ll certainly push myself more to do some solo exploring, which, thanks to Burning Man I now feel ready to do. Because my profoundly simple takeaway from my five days in Black Rock City was this: being open to meeting strangers is a choice you can actively make (and they usually are 0% as intimidating as you were anticipating). As an extrovert I’ve never had a problem meeting new acquaintances through friends, but I would not often be the person to instigate interactions with strangers, whether they are waiting next to me in the bike lane at a red light or squished next to me on MUNI. What I saw first hand at Burning Man was just how easy it is to actively decide to be open and friendly to everyone you meet, how easy it is to make the choice to be open and not guarded- but also that is is certainly a choice, and one that is made with each human interaction you encounter.

And all I had to do for this realization was almost die in a dust storm? Totally worth it.

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MUNI Musings

you are a teeny tiny fish...on a bus

DSF perfectly captures the MUNI experience

My journey home today felt like the ultimate San Francisco melting pot, in more glorious, uncomfortable ways than one. I had gotten on at the first stop of the 22 bus’ route- which leaves from the Dogpatch and makes its way, slowly but surely, to the Marina. I was taking that particular route home because I’d stopped by the Move Loot warehouse to pick up this baby.

So I start out on a relatively empty bus, holding two pieces to a bizarre looking coat rack (which I conveniently enough hung my tote bag off of- genius I know). As the bus moved through Potrero Hill the 4:30 school crowd got on, bringing with them the chaos and havoc of being 15. Their sweatshirts were emblazoned with the numbers 2018 in large block font. Jesus. 2018? That shit cray.

At some point an older gentleman got on the bus and began rambling what sounded like a mix between unstable rants and poetry. His cries ranged from “I’m. Not. Gay. Not gay, okay? You say? Okay.” to “PBS, PBS, Channel 9… these kids don’t even know what I’m talking about do they? Streets! Sesame Streets! Oscar, that grouch… do you kids even know? Even know?” He hooted and hollered at those around him, adding something almost delightful to the atmosphere. I should mention this was a 70 degree March 5th San Francisco day, so that atmosphere filled with people and noise and chaos, also had a true element of heat- that heat that turned the bus into the melting pot I’d mentioned above.

At 16th and Mission the first mass exodus left the bus, and the girl sitting next to me took out a large, bound, paper workbook. It was an instruction manual on becoming a yoga instructor. Ah yes, a fellow gentrifier. I almost told her I liked her yoga pants, but I was too hot, too distracted by the absurd item I was balancing- to interact with any part of the situation around me.

At Haight and Fillmore the second exodus left the bus, and I prepared to exit , taking care not to deck anyone with what could only be described as a blunt object. My disembarkment was surprising easy, and I reveled in being off the overly warm bus. I had survived another MUNI journey and lived to write about it.

And now we have a coat rack.

No Excuses, Play Like A Champion

url-1Friends on the east coast are always surprised when they hear about my annual pilgrimage to Coachella. Whenever the topic comes up I hear the same frustrating sentence, nearly word for word. “I would love to go to Coachella, but it conflicts with school/work/life. Maybe someday.”

It isn’t this sentence that bugs me so much, but the mentality, the attitude implied.

Someday I plan on having a family, a few kids, and a well established 401k. Now is the time to do the things that responsibility will prevent (or at least make logistically more difficult) later in life.

When I first began making the mid-April pilgrimage to the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival back in 2010, I had no idea that the festival would come to have a major impact on my life. As a lover of live music, I had dreamed about going to Coachella ever since first coming across my dream line-up of bands as a wee sixteen-year-old.  So when my freshman year of college rolled around and I finally had the opportunity to go, I jumped at the chance, and never looked back.

Each year that I’ve returned to Coachella I’ve learned new things about myself. I’ve experienced lessons in life, love and friendship, not to mention extreme heatunexpected rainstorms, group dynamics, channeling creativity, managing expectations, being prepared, and most of all, having fun.

Every time I go to Coachella, the three days of the festival seem to be concurrently the longest and shortest days of the year. I try to take a moment, each time I wait in line to enter the campsite on the Thursday evening before the festivities begin, to appreciate where I am, and the joyful rumpus that I know is about to take place. I know that before I have the chance to blink I will be strapped into an airplane seat, dirty and tired, with six to eight hours of travel ahead of me. It is during this time that I am best able to reflect on the year that has led up to this moment, and think back through my years of previous Coachellas.

I’ll leave you with a few nuggets of wisdom that I have collected over the last four years. 

When it comes to getting out of your comfort zone, don’t let yourself make excuses. Go on adventures with the people that you love. You will never regret getting to know them better, and you will learn more about yourself in the process. It may come as a surprise, but you can always learn new things about yourself, if you take the time to do so. You can never be too prepared, and you will never regret time spent appreciating art and nature.

 I may go back to Coachella next year, I may not, but I will be heading to Burning Man for the first time this August so I know one thing for sure: many more adventures await me.