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?

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 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!

March 15, 2017

This evening I was on a panel at SPUR in Oakland, presented by Intersection of the Arts, called Safe Spaces. We discussed the various efforts following the Ghostship fire. With me were members of WABA, Oakland Warehouse Coalition, ProArts, and architect Thomas Dolan, who designed and built the first live-work in the US and had just come from Sacramento proposing new code laws to the Senate. 

It was a huge honor to be on this panel, and I was nervous about being nervous. I wore Rupert’s ring and pictured him in the audience, and it calmed me right down every time. I talked about him, too. 

I talked about why I helped create the Safer DIY Spaces fund, based on my grief of Rupert and the 36 souls who died in the fire two miles from my home five months to the day later. I started with, “Grief is our birthright.” How his death made me feel, among other things, helpless. How much I wanted to help after the Ghostship fire. How I channeled my helplessness and attended a meeting a week later, where I met like minded people that wanted to help, too. 

I haven’t enjoyed public speaking this much in over three years. It really came together, and I’m so relieved. I felt in control and clear. 

I wrapped up my presentation with my ask:

Please send anyone who needs help making their space safer to our website and have them complete an intake form 

www.DIYsafetygroup.com

Please attend a fundraiser, use our Sparxo code when you have an event with tickets (we get the fees), host a fundraiser for us, or donate to tinyurl.com/DIYdonation

After, I was approached by people with offers of new fiscal sponsorship (3!), lunch by a public policy grad student, and a new foundation that wants to meet me for a possible fundraising role. 

What an amazing evening. 

March 13, 2016

I cried for him last night. First time in a long while. I’ve been afraid of death all day. An acquaintance died last week. I was hoping to see him at the GLC in a few weeks. We are all going to die. I am. My loved ones are. My acquaintances are. Everyone. 

Just gone. His stuff is still around. His earthly possessions. But he’s gone. He’s never coming back. That’s everyone’s destiny. It’s hard to be alive and experience that. 

Tex got philosophical earlier and talked about how we are each on a path. Rupert’s path and my path intersected, and then his ended. Mine is still continuing. Tex talked about my path taking me onto the Cadillac Oscar ad, a three second clip out of hours of footage on the cutting room floor. Rupert’s ex MIL has never met me but has seen me on tv twice. I was there when the term Sparlepony happened, and people in Australia thought I was lying, trying to sound cool. I was there and it’s in Polly’s book. Polly, the original Sparklepony. It’s why I’m blindly headed to the GLC, working for free for four days running the registration booths. Seeing everyone. It’s my path. Tex said some people’s path is life in Walnut Creek, commuting and living isolated in a big house with a few friends and a sexless marriage. ((Shudder)) I shudder but to some, it’s their chosen path and it’s what they want. What they choose. Which means this is what I choose. Every time. I constantly choose my path. 

My path has never been easy. It’s always been interesting. Very fun. Colorful. Full of amazing stories that I love sharing. There’s a picture of me on the internet in a green clown nose laughing incredulously while Frank Chu takes down my number to call for a date. He called, too. Twice. The first to go to Grace Cathedral and I was out of town but really wanted to go. The second to go to the Metreon to see him in the movie of his life called 10,000 Galaxies. I got scared of his illness and didn’t call him back. 

This is my path. Through love and death and Klowns and Sparkleponies and abandonment and the most amazing friendships in the world and motherhood and health and education and Burning Man and wildly rich and uncomfortably poor and lonely and connected and rarely alone. 

I’m glad I have no idea where the path is headed. Is it a path or a wild ride?