Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Burning Man (Not Birmingham) Approaching Fast

Its that time of year again.  I leave for Burning Man in seventeen days.  My mom finally understands this is not an annual pilgrimage to Birmingham.  In fact, she is excited to receive a couple bracelets I’ll be giving away this year.  She has a friend that is super interested in all things Burning Man and wants to give her one to wear around the retirement community.  You gotta like 80+ year old ladies in Flar-da.  They wear colorful slacks, astounding hairdos and apparently they also don Burning Man schwag.

I wrote a little about this year’s Burning Man theme back in March.   Check it out here:   I’m excited about the Silk Road/Caravansary theme.  After a little discussion about what we were thinking, my awesome artist friend Amy made a ton of bracelets for us to give away on the playa. They turned out great!

If you are too lazy to click the link and read and the March blog, I’ll summarize the goat part of the theme.  There is a Caravan of Dreams Proverb that says, “If you have no worries, why not buy a goat?”  So we have a mountain goat (I live in the Rocky Mountains) with a tassel representing the Silk Road.  The goat represents luck, prosperity, longevity and happiness.  Cool, eh?

And of course we named our RV The Goat.  The ‘we’ is me and my buddy Rich.  We are making our third consecutive trip to Burning Man together; meeting up with our camp of about twenty people.  The RV is a used one we bought a couple months ago for a few thousand bucks and prayers that it works.  It has it’s own Facebook page.  Like it here. 

We figured it was a smart investment to buy an RV rather than renting and then we don’t have to worry about the abuse it takes going to Burning Man.  Plus if I can get a few side trips out of it with my kids, I’ll be happy.  We already have let friends borrow it and the Burning Man trip will be the 4th excursion in a month.  Hence the Facebook page to give The Goat a life of its own.

A lot of people ask what goes on at Burning Man and it’s really hard to give a complete answer.  So much of it is individual in terms of what you get out of it.  What is there is less important to me than what it does for me so I have a hard time listing a bunch of things about it.  Sometimes it helps to see pictures.  Google it and you will find tons.  Here is a link to some pics that a professional photographer took last year.  He just posted them today and they are awesome!!    Scroll past his written intro and check it out.

As with our first two years of Burning Man, we are kicking off the trip with our traditional stop in Salt Lake City to see Dawn.  

Speaking of kicking, read this sweet wonderful blog Dawn posted after we met the first time.  It’s so fun to tease her and banter shit at each other, but I have to admit I love this woman in a friend from the internet that has a live-in boyfriend kind of way.  Oh sorry, here is that link. 

So we are going to see Dawn and a few other friends in Salt Lake City on Saturday night 8/23.  I’m sure I’ll have great blog fodder after an evening with the Vapid Vixen.  And then we will carry on to Black Rock City, the middle of nowhere desert of northwest Nevada to experience my third Burning Man.

I feel like a wily veteran this year with our own RV and being part of an established camp with an awesome art car called Movement of Jah People.  It has its own Facebook page too.  Check it out and give it a like here.

I’m looking forward to seeing my family, checking out the over 300 registered art projects (with over 100 of them involving fire), meeting people from around the world, participating and giving.  I’ll be bartending at Camp Walter for four hours one day, attending the reggae and IPA party at Camp Shadyville another, hitting the Pink Party, the temple, the core burn, the man burn, the city and anything and everything for a week of very little sleep.  I can’t wait!

As I’ve talked about Burning Man, written about it here and posted stuff on Facebook, many people have said they want to go someday.  One of my pals from New York went last year.  And another buddy from Chicago is going this year.  But that’s it from my network of friends that pulled the old, "its on my bucket list."  A lot of talk but no action.

Hundreds, if not thousands of people are still looking for tickets to this year’s Burning Man.  It’s a tough ticket to get, even at the average price of $400 a head.  I may have access to one extra ticket.  So what do you say?  “I want to go someday?”  I say, “Really?”  Just like Black Rock City (the name of the city created and taken away every year at Burning Man), everything is temporary and could be gone by tomorrow.  Seize the day.  Carpe diem.  Live in the moment.  Rage rage against the dying of the light.  If you want to go to Burning Man, go now.  

All you have to do is let me know.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Did You Have to Wiggle Inside Too?

I haven’t had time to reflect on anything lately. Correction – I haven’t made time. Life is speeding by faster than a chick can spend a hundred bucks at Target.  Yes, that fast!  I am good at living in the moment, seizing the day, raging against the dying of the light and appreciating that everything is temporary.  But I’m not always good about letting my experiences sink into my heart and soul.  They often float around my brain and then get replaced by the next shiny thing I see before I can truly realize what I have learned, enjoyed or even feared.

It’s like the difference between happiness and meaningful happiness.  Having a fun night out makes me happy, but it is unlikely I’ll have life-long memories of each time this happens.  Being part of something bigger and meaningful is more fulfilling and likely to stick with me forever.  Sometimes the little things are indeed big and meaningful but I don’t give them a chance because I’ve already moved on to a dozen other things.

Writing has always been a good way for me to combat this non-stop revolving door because it causes me to think back and interpret things that happen in my world, whether they are funny, trivial, sad, interesting or whatever.  I haven’t been writing jack lately.  No particular reason.  I just haven’t. 

So today I write and all I can think of at this very moment is that there was a time when I chose my wine at home based on the type, grape, vineyard, accompanying meal and other traditional factors.  Now it’s based on which bottle has a screw top because it’s so much easier. Isn’t that remarkable?  Immediate gratification.  Short term happiness, bruthas and sistahs.

I suppose I thought of wine bottles because I’m craving wine, beer or a stiff drink right now.  I had been lax on visiting the doc and was way overdue for a physical.  I’m 47 years old.  My dad had prostate cancer.  Can you see where this is going?  My last prostate check was over a year ago.  My doc left the practice so I had a new one today.  What a way to meet someone for the first time.  After squeezing my testicles, this tiny Spanish woman ordered me to bend over.   She wiggled her finger.  She was limbering up!! Was that really necessary? She didn’t even give me flowers.  Needless to say, I didn’t shake her hand on the way out.

I also need to get a colonoscopy.  My dad had colon cancer too.  Thanks for the genes pops. I prefer my anus to be a one-way street.  I’m not a fan of fingers and tubes.  And if I’m going to be naked around a camera, I sure don’t want said camera shoved up my ass. That’s not the sex tape I envisioned.

Of course I decide to write on the day I see the doctor and am reminded how old I am and how I need to take care of myself, therefore I write about anus invasions.

The point is it could be over at any moment.  I expect to be around for another fiddy years or so, but I don’t take it for granted.  Which is why I’m going to try to write more, in order to reflect more and to appreciate the everyday things that I profess to enjoy by living in the moment.  It’s one thing to say it and think I’m doing it but quite another to step back, actually stop and let my life process from my brain to my heart and very soul.  I think I can keep up this rapid pace if I take time to think about it and write about it.  So that is my game-plan.  I have that going for me. Which is nice.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Sugar Daddy Tom

A few years ago, I was sitting in a bar with my buddy Tom.  Sitting in a bar with Tom is not a rare occurrence.  We were doing what we usually do – talking about politics, global issues, religion, humanity, string theory, the economy, which city has the best symphony, our favorite operas, where to buy a nice pair of shoes, local gossip, PTA, tax code, recipes, daytime television, Pinterest, nail polish, biological warfare, charitable contributions, symbiotic relationships and other typical bar banter.

Or maybe we were talking about sports and women.  I really can’t remember – it was over two years ago.  But I do know sports came up.  It was around this time of year, mid-summer when school is out and basketball season is still months away.  We were talking about the men’s NCAA basketball tournament.  Tom’s theory was that the same old teams win every single year.  The romantic root for the underdog in me instantly said no way – with 64 teams in the tournament and hundreds overall there must be tons of different winners.

So we went back twenty years and found that sixteen of the last twenty champions were from the same eight schools.  At the time, UCONN was on probation and ineligible for the next tournament, so if you take them out, 13 of the last 17 non-UCONN winners were the same seven teams.  I can’t believe this!

Despite the stats heavily in Tom’s favor, we made a bet.  Tom could pick any seven teams. I got everybody else.  He took the usual suspects – Duke, North Carolina, Kentucky, Kansas, Florida, Michigan State and Louisville.  He said he would have probably taken UCONN instead of NC if they were eligible.  I got everyone else.

The bet was for $100 and the winner leaves his wallet at home for a night out on the town.  Cab ride, dinner, drinks, more drinks and then more drinks. 

Unfortunately for me, Louisville won two years ago.  Michigan had them on the ropes in the first half but it played out just as Tom predicted.  I lost.  We did steaks at Capital Grille and had lots of drinks.  I think the whole bet ended up costing me $400+ however I did enjoy half the entertainment.  And I was pleased with myself for paying him the $100 all in quarters.

Since I lost the bet, I got to choose if I wanted the field or any seven teams for this past season.  I stuck to my guns, so of course I took the field.  Tom took the exact same seven teams.  Luckily for me UCONN held off Kentucky and I won this year.  And thank goodness Tom didn’t make a switch to include UCONN or I would have lost again!

The stakes were higher this year.  We talked a lot of trash throughout the season with lots of offers of buyouts.  It would go something like this – I’ll let you out of the bet for $75, five chais, two lunches and a case of beer.  We’d talk smack back and forth and what would happen is instead of a buyout, the bet would go up.  The hundred bucks became $125.  And then the $125 got higher and a couple chais snuck in there.   The final tally this year was $156 (and some change I think), two chais at Starbucks and a night out on the town. 

The night out payoff is tonight.  We are starting at 5p and are doing the Capital Grille again.  Surf and turf baby!  I invited a couple work associated gal friends to join us for happy hour.  Tom will be buying.  I wonder if Cap Grille sells any shirts?  Anybody else want to “unexpectedly” show up?

I’ll make Tom commit to his teams for next season tonight.  I know he is going with any seven again.  We will also set the bet terms again.  I have a feeling the stakes will start out higher from the get-go.  I think the loser should have to walk with a limp and talk with a lisp all night.  Of course, we’d probably end up with a gimp and lispy waitress, but that’s all part of the fun, right?

Find a buddy and try this bet out.  It makes for good conversation with other basketball fans.  Despite history in Tom’s favor, it’s been about 50/50 for people on whether they’d take any seven teams or the field.

And the best part is all the smack talk.  Strike that, the best part is the martinis, wine and steak with lobster tail I’ll be consuming in about five hours!! Cheers and thank you UCONN!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Messing with Mom

My mom called and asked what’s new. 

I said, “I dunno, let me think.  Okay, I bought a used RV with a buddy.  I have no idea how to use it but I’m going to take it to Burning Man (not Birmingham).  The goat bracelets are almost ready.  I’m going on a free trip to Switzerland.  But not in the RV cuz it doesn’t float.  As far as I know.  I was just in Aspen and New York.  The kids are off to Hogwarts.  They made Poop Potion yesterday. I sat next to a midget today.   He had red hair.  We won some new business.  Apparently a lot of pregnant women engage in substance abuse.  We are gonna try to help them.  Not do more drugs or get preggo again, but to stop doing scary things with a bun in the oven.  Will asked me what a gigolo is.  I stopped drinking Diet Coke for a week, but I’m having one right now.  And I went to get extra keys made and the key place was advertising stun guns for sale.  $59 and up.  Do you think the cheapest models stun you extra hard or just enough?  I can’t figure out if the more expensive ones would be more painful or more attuned to the right current flow.  I just don’t think a dude making duplicate keys for a living is probably qualified to talk stun guns.  Is that stuff regulated by anyone? I think that’s about it as to what’s new on my end.”

“Good grief.  I didn’t understand most of what you said.  You are going to Birmingham again?”

“Mom, you are kidding, right?”

“Yes! One of the ladies at Mahjong is infatuated with Burning Man.  Will you send me a couple of those goat bracelets?”

“Only if you promise to give it to her while saying the Caravan of Dreams Proverb ‘if you have no troubles, why not buy a goat,’ but say it with a deep 7-11 Indian type accent while your head is tilted at a 30 degree angle.”


“Never mind.  I’ll send you a couple bracelets.”

“The boys are where?  Woolworths?”

“Hogwarts.  As in Harry Potter.  At a camp.  All week.  They love it.  I had to write them both letters today to be delivered by owls on Friday.  Seems like a blast.  I’d like to go someday.”

“That is so fun!  I remember when they went last year.  Did you say Switzerland?”


“What is up with Switzerland?”

“Well, it’s a landlocked country over there in Europe.  You know, Alps, Zurich, Geneva, offshore bank accounts, stuff like that.”

“Brett! I know Switzerland.  Why are you going there, how did this come up, how long will you be gone?”

“Ha, I’m not falling for your double-talk trickery Mom.  I will not divulge where I’ve routed the money!”

“What are you talking about? What?”

“I dunno.  I just bought a deck of cards that has spy content on every single card.  For example, the ten of spades defines ‘safehouse,’ ‘sanitize,’ ‘shoe’ and ‘sleeper agent.’ Did you know a ‘shoe’ is a false passport?  And a ‘sleeper agent’ is an inactive deep-cover agent?  Do you think Dad is a sleeper agent?  He just sits around all day doing crossword puzzles and everybody knows secret agents hide messages in the answers to the crosswords.  I think he may be up to something.  Do you have a safehouse?”

“Brett.  What are you talking about? I’m having trouble understanding you.”

“I have heard that before. How well do you really know Dad?  I mean, you’ve only been married fiddy-some years, right?”

“When do you go to Switzerland?”

“Mom, I think you should take this conversation more seriously.  Dad probably has a bug on your phone.  Hi Dad, haha, I know you are listening!”

“Hi Brett.”

“Dad! I didn’t know you were on the line.  Haha.  Hey, what is your E&E plan (evade and escape as per the Queen of spades)?”

“I’m hanging up now.”

“Sure, okay Dad.  Mom, you still there?  Keep an eye on Dad.  I gotta jet.”


“Love you!”