June 21, 2017

A reason, a season, a lifetime, and the gift economy

Reason, Season, Lifetime. Anonymous

I met a man recently. No, not like that. Well, actually a little like that. Exactly like that. And this beautiful poem that first moved me years ago came to mind. Actually, it’s been on my mind for a while now. 
It’s coming up on single digits. The days till its been one year since Rupert died. He was both a reason and a season in my life. I think the two are similar, most are both and some are just one. He taught me so much about love and self worth. He raised the bar. And then instead of the future we were planning together, he died. 

The man I met earlier this week was a reason. We spent 15 hours together. We peeled back a few layers. There’s so many more that never will be. There’s no season for us, just the reason. 

He was stunning. Tall, lanky, strong face, charming smile, and twinkly dark grey-green eyes. A great conversationalist and a great listener. With a French accent and name to boot. 

I was the first person he’s ever met who’s been to Burning Man, which seems amazing for a world traveler from Montreal. But there it is. And he wanted to learn from me. I became his link to this thing, this event he’d heard of that he doesn’t know how to get to. “Just buy a ticket and get on a plane,” I told him. He replied with a big, sexy grin and repeated my words. 

I told him how I found Burning Man. “My undergrad is in photography, and I was a color darkroom printer.” 

“Useful job now,” he teased. 

“Ha! Yes, true. It was October 1994, and I was in San Francisco at a color darkroom rental facility. I’d moved from New York City nine months earlier.”

“That’s enough time for gestation,” he pointed out. I thought that was an interesting perspective and told him so. 

“A woman also using the darkrooms printed a picture of a man covered in mud on a giant desert. I introduced myself and said I would like her to take me to the next one. She laughed and the following August, 1995, she took me to my first Burning Man. I turned 25 at the event, and stayed an extra four days to help clean up because I couldn’t leave. I was home.”

I explained how hard it was to find your camp before there were roads, with 2,499 other people camped together and burning a beautiful wooden man at the end of the week. I described Pepe’s linghams and operas, and laughed while I described the embarrassing way I learned the meaning of the word lingham. We watched a video of the Temple of Wholyness burn over cocktails, and I described the somber quiet of that burn as compared to the frenzy of Burn Night. 

He listened to all if it, absorbing it, asking a question here and there. It was when I started talking about the gift economy that he stopped me. He had never heard of the concept and needed it explained. He needed examples. He really wanted to understand this aspect of the event. Of all the aspects of Burning Man that I described, it blew me away that what he latched on to was the gift economy. Later, because I wanted to gift him and because it felt like a great way to demonstrate he gift economy, I gifted him a key fob made by my dear friend Beveler. 


This man passing through town, dropping in to my life for a moment, gave me the opportunity to give a tremendous gift. I was able to teach someone who travels the world about the gift economy. In all his worldly travels, this was his first experience with it. Before this, he knew how to barter and buy. I am so grateful for the experience. I am so grateful that I was shown what a unique city I live in for a short time each year, but that I’ve been able to carry the economy of Black Rock City with me every day since I turned 25. 

Later that day, I saw my friend John Halcyon in a video he had made about the gift economy, and how important it is to avoid paying for labor at Burning Man. If you have to pay for it, scale it back, he said. An important message for all of us to remember. Because as I was shown earlier this week, the gift economy is a treasure worth fighting for. 

I love watching life for its lessons. It’s a hard place to live, this human existence in  21st century America. If you watch for it, though, the magic is there. The connections, the lessons, the synchronicity, the gifts. 

Who in your life is a reason, a season, or a lifetime?

June 17, 2017

I walked through the cemetery today while waiting on an oil change. As I walk through these last days of Rupert’s life one year ago, these things take on deeper meanings. The tombstones showed a wide range of ages and stations in life, beloved husband age 33; little Henry, two; entire families in one plot for more than a hundred years. I thought of both Alexius and Rupert. Alexius died at 39, Rupert at 45. “Dammit, boys, I can’t believe you left me here without you,” I thought. I need them, but they only exist in my heart and my memory. Sometimes it feels like it will all make sense soon, other times I still can’t believe they’re both gone and I’m still here. 

There seems to be grief everywhere around me, all the time. Facebook just now was a friend who’s going to two memorials this weekend.  I’m skipping the one I know. I walked past her hair salon today. There is a sad note on the door that the salon is. Loses indefinitely.  Indefinitely is spelled wrong, and it just made me sadder. 

Soon, the one year mark will have come and gone. I’ll be able to stop thinking about where we were a year ago. Our one year together. It makes no sense. It will all make sense someday. 

I made a vision board this evening after an early night out dancing with friends. I found the phrase, Moving Forward, and placed it on the board. Ever forward. 

April 17, 2017

A friend asked me to read this with her. Wow can we talk about mixed emotions here? I’m excited to grow and learn and gain wisdom from this highly recommended book, and yet the reason I’m single is because of a motorcycle accident. I know how to love deeply beyond “the Games of Seduction.” I had it and he died. 

I believe someday it will all make sense somehow. 

April 9, 2017

I’ve been thinking about living out loud today. 

This morning, a friend whom I admire and respect very much, posted that she sees herself as a humble bragger, an over photo poster, and a name dropper. How does one show love for their life and not do these things?

I felt her pain. I reached out online the other night in emotional agony, and I received so much love and support. And I feel embarrassed by it now. I was so vulnerable and raw. Last weekend, I worked hard at a Burning Man conference and met hundreds of people and made many new Facebook friends and there are SO MANY new photos of me circulating the internet. Who do I think I am? Or rather, as the button I can’t find asked, “Do you know who I think I am?”

I replied to my friend:

I’m sure people see me that way, too. Sometimes I worry what people think, other times I don’t care. Dealing with loss and death has left me with an empty bucket of fucks, which has been really good for me and very freeing. 

I melted down online Friday night and reached out and received so much love, although I’m a little embarrassed by it all now. Perhaps we can reframe the name dropping and too many selfies and so on as loving ones life and being a good story teller, and show gratitude for being part of an amazing community where we can name and place drop and feel like rockstars.

My bucket of fucks is empty. I’ve loved and lost so much. I do what I want and if people don’t like it, well, I have no fucks to give. I love hard. I’m loyal, honest, and real, and I treat my people like gold. As long as I’m not hurting anyone, I don’t care what anyone thinks. Most importantly, that lack of fucks is backed by a deep enjoyment in being a kind, caring, and loving person. 

Having an open heart wins. What have a got to lose, anyway?

April 7, 2017

Previously, I’ve been devastated because he’s gone. Tonight, I’m devastated because I’m moving on.

It was supposed to be this faery book romance. Instead, I’m moving on. 

Rupert and Absinthia took us both by surprise. We were friend zoned when we were teenagers because I was dating one of his housemates. Flash forward 20 some odd years and a drunken hook up after the Dead reunion tour – our first Show together since ’89. We fell in love. And then he died. 

Nine months later, I find myself grieving again. It’s been building over the last week or two, I can see that. And here it is. Emo music, tequila, tears, and all. This wave is different though. I’m not devastated because he’s gone, I’m devastated because I’m moving on. I’m moving on and I’m starting to see that clearly. Knowing that makes me ache. Its breaking my heart. 

I’ve had three lovers since he died. Beautiful people, inside and out. They have been one right after the other, short term but, strangely, serial monogamy. Brief and intense. Just days between each. Sudden, intense connections with limited face to face interactions. Two long distance, the other a bridge between. The ends of each have lingered with tangled emotions, with one deliciously continuing on from afar. It’s like I’ve lived years in the last nine months. I feel myself moving on after Rupert, and it feels right and wrong and I don’t want to be but I am and I need to. I have to! It’s important. Rupert is dead. He crashed his motorcycle. He’s not coming back. It hurts to be getting over him. It hurts more then any things ever hurt in my life. And yet, I’m doing it. Three lovers. That counts as moving on. 

I would like to find a way to take something positive from this. I don’t want to be hardened and unable to allow myself to make a connection with another man. This lifetime is teaching me male loss. Why is there so much male loss in my life? I don’t know how much more I can handle before I rid myself of the lot of them. Men. Fucking assholes. Too bad I really, really love men. Tall little boys, taught to be serious and to win, with their easily awakened silly sides, unsure of women and themselves and arrogant and entitled all at once. Not to mention their smell…mmm. Sorry, where was I? Right. 

Throughout my life, I’ve experienced father  abandonment repeatedly, divorce (my choice so that seems really different), the deaths of Alexius Stephen Rupert. My two gay husbands and my lover. Partner. Boyfriend. Late boyfriend. Men I never wanted to say goodbye to. Is it a wonder why it’s so much easier to say I love you and feel love with my female friends? Do I hold men at a distance because of this? Have I? Am I now? Will I, in the future?
That’s not who I want to be, walking away from this tragedy. I am moving on. I can choose how I will be. 

I choose connection. I choose love. I’m not going to be rash, but I’m not going to hold back. I do it in an invisible way, the holding back. You can’t see it but you can feel it. I’ll be open, and I’ll listen so much better than I talk. 

That’s where my work begins. 

April 6, 2016

Several months ago, you can look back and see the huge falling out I had with my parents. The horrible things they called me, and the financial and emotional disownment that followed. 

It was the best thing that could have happened to me. I feel like I’ve left an emotionally abusive spouse who was controlling me with money, telling me things to keep me small and little. 

I’m no one’s chew toy.  

My daughter spent the day with them today. She told me they said they love me very much and that was the hardest decision of their seven generations of life. 

I told my daughter I would never, ever even consider making a decision like that, and I held her tight. 

March 20, 2017

Do you have a few moments of your life that are your favorite moments? The ones where you’re a living legend, where you can’t make this shit up if you tried?

One of them happened tonight. One video of it already hit the internet. It was at the San Pablo yacht harbor under the Richmond Bridge. A spot I never even knew existed. It was both janky and breathtakingly beautiful. The crowd added a whole extra level of both. 

It was Robert Burke’s fundraiser. He has degenerative MS and is declining quickly. So we through him a party. It was like Burning Man 1996, only with a lot more gray hair. It was frenetic, with performances and dancers and a fire pit and a swing on a crane made of a giant metal ball, and weed and alcohol – i bartended the first few hours – and never a dull moment. It was a gritty crowd. Lots of long ungroomed beards and cardhardst and hoodies and smokes and straw hats and big boots. People being who they were before the world told them who to be. 

We had to drive right in front of the stage to leave. It was getting dark and cold, and Extra Action Marching Band was about to go on. We knew it would be hours if we didn’t leave just then. 

We drove straight to the road, right where everyone was dancing.  They started clearing a path, when Katy Bell started grinding my car and then crawled up on it and started dancing. She was just the first. Before we knew what was happening, there were hands and legs and butts dancing on the car and in the windows and even a woman climbing in through the sun roof ass first and out the passenger door window. The car was jumping up and down, even tho I’d turned the engine off. The three of us in the car laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed. After all of David Bowie’s Young Americans played, the music wound down and there was a small window and a friend telling me to inch forward. I turned over the engine and slowly drove forward through the sea of dancing bodies and out towards the road home, my friends and I rolling in laughter with tears streaming down our faces. 

It was the best ghosting a party ever!