17 September, 2008

Death Is A Dream Come True

That phrase has layers of meaning, if you're willing to look, and not just the obvious one which I'm sure Satanic Thoreau would agree with. It's amazing how often I stare death in the face in my dreams. It's like my dream world is trying to live on the edge in order to counter my mundane waking existence.

So last night, I dreamed I was in an Aliens movie. I don't know which one it was supposed to be, but the idea was that at the end of the movie, there was a scene where a Predator attacks, and it was supposed to be some sort of lead-in to the Predator movies (the Predator movies, not the AvP movies). Here's the trick - the movie was simultaneously an actual movie, and real events that were occurring to me. I was *in* the movie, and despite knowing that it was a movie, I wasn't just acting - I was really being chased by a Predator and my life was really on the line.

It was pretty harrowing. At first, before the Predator showed up, there were three of us, and we knew the Predator was coming. We tried to hide in this one chamber. For some reason, the Predator's sight worked like a T-Rex's in Jurassic Park, despite the Predator's awesome technology. In other words, he couldn't see us, or at least tell that we were living creatures, as long as we didn't move or make any sounds. So I was lying there when the Predator entered the room, staying deathly still, with the thought on my mind that any second I would feel something sharp jab into me, and I would have to face an extremely painful death. Sounds like fun, don't it?

Well actually, my hiding place was a little bit better than one of the other two people that were hiding, and I was kind of hoping that the Predator would kill the other dude who was more exposed, so that maybe I could escape or something. Grim, I know, but hey, in a situation like that, you'll take any chance of survival over the entire party's total annihilation.

In any case, the Predator left the room for a moment, though for some reason I knew he would be back very shortly. But an image flashed in my mind and suddenly I knew right then that my best chance of survival would be to run for it. And I did. Unfortunately, the Predator came in at just that moment, saw me running, and came after me. I got outside, and as it happens, we were in a house instead of a spaceship. In fact, I think it was my gramma's house. Anyway, I thought that outside, with people around (and there were a few people around in adjacent yards), I'd be somehow safer. But even as I ran down the street shouting for help, it's not like the Predator stopped chasing me.

Although he did get distracted by one of the people long enough for me to run around the side of a house, and to my utter surprise and jubilation, it looked like I had actually managed to outrun and hide from the Predator. The Predator came around, wondering which direction I had run off in, and I snuck around the house to keep out of his sight. Unfortunately, the house, for some reason, was much like a car, in that it was raised a few feet off the ground, and sat on four wheels. I tried my best to climb up the side of the house or hide behind the wheels, but when the Predator checked under the house, he saw me. My oh-so-successful escape had been foiled.

I don't remember what happened after that. Perhaps the dream ended. Surely, I'd have no chance against a Predator. I'll tell you, though, sitting in that chamber with my eyes closed, waiting for the Predator to slice and dice me in an instant... Have you ever faced death in such a manner in any of your dreams?

Adding Up The Cost Of Burning Man

The long-awaited analysis. I think I can safely say that the Burning Man trip I recently returned from cost me in the vicinity of five grand. That's not to say that a trip to Burning Man actually costs five grand, but that's how much I spent. That's also considering that it was a two-man adventure. The fact that the festival takes place on the other side of the country contributes to a large portion of the grand sum, though also there's the fact that we were definitely over-prepared (damn Boy Scouts drilled their "Be Prepared" philosophy into my subconscious, and I'll be paying for it the rest of my life...). Anywho, I'll separate costs into "road trip" and "Burning Man", so you can get an idea of who cost what.

For the road trip, the major costs are (a) rental car, (b) gas funds, and (c) lodging. Food contributes also, but I'm certain we spent less on that than the above-mentioned three factors, and plus, food costs are harder to track because I had more of a tendency to pay for them in cash.

(a) Rental car total comes in at $1,200 base, plus the $500 insurance charge for the little dent I picked up in Fernley.

(b) Gas fees for a total of 9+ days of heavy driving comes to just under $1,000. That's about a hundred dollars a driving day, which is about right, since gas costs were in the neighborhood of $4.00 a gallon, and with a 20 gallon tank minivan, it cost about $80.00 to get her filled, and we averaged a little over a tank a day. Total miles driven from the time we picked up the car to the time we dropped it off comes to 5,526, with about half of that being the one-way distance between here and Nevada.

(c) Lodging for eight nights (all other nights were spent for free either at Burning Man, or, on the very last night, at home) comes to a little over $500. Cheapest accomodation was the Motel 6 in Reno, slightly under $50, followed closely by the Little A'Le'Inn. I'm wondering if there was a hidden Burner discount, because the Motel 6 we stayed at in Rock Springs on the way back cost twice as much. Most expensive accomodation was the Best Western in Lincoln, reaching a little past $100, which makes sense since it's the only *hotel* we stayed at, in contrast with all these other *motels*. That having been said, we stayed at that very same Best Western on the way back, and it cost significantly less. I'm wondering if the AAA discount we got that time (okay, we weren't really vigilant about the whole AAA thing) could account for that. Or perhaps there was some kind of "checking in after midnight" discount or something. I don't really know.

"Road trip" total then comes to something like $2,700 base, $3,200 factoring in the dent-in-the-car fee. And that doesn't include food, tolls, cash purchases and the like.

As for the actual Burning Man part of the trip, the best I can do is add up as much of the money spent on supplies, food, water, camping gear, etc. that I managed to keep track of (since very little money was spent at the festival itself). And to that end, I have at least $1,300 worth of crap inventoried ($450 of that belonging to the two tickets). I came back with no cash left at all, and I know I left with at least a couple hundred, I think. So the grand grand total for the whole trip definitely tops four grand.

As you can see, the road trip part easily doubles the festival part, in terms of money spent *and* length of overall trip. If I lived in California or thereabouts, and had the experience I have now, I could probably go back to Burning Man and spend less than half what I spent this year. That having been said, I still live on the other side of the country, and my savings account probably won't even have /that/ much money left in it after I pay off the Burning Man bill (oh, if I could just burn it instead...).

Burning Man was an amazing experience, and I would love to be able to experience it again. Though I don't feel necessarily compelled to return. However, I feel much more prepared to enjoy the festival now that I know what it's like, and I think I /could/ greatly improve my enjoyment of the festival by making certain changes in my routine.

For one thing, I think I'd spend less time nude, unfortunately. Instead of making myself a target and separating myself from the rest of the group, I think I'd have a better time /pretending/ to be a textile, but participating in more naked-friendly activities, like nude yoga, or strip Jeopardy, or naked watergun fight, etc. On the other hand, I think that if I used my nudity as a focus for connecting with people, I might get a lot more out of it. For example, walking around naked and then randomly asking strangers, particularly ones who express a curiosity in my (lack of) attire, to strip down and join me for a friendly walk around the block. It would be exciting to be the potential catalyst for getting people to realize firsthand what being naked is all about (forcing them out of their "spectator's" seat, and teaching them how to "participate"), and also, it would give me an opportunity to prove my point that I am a person, with hopes and fears and interests and desires, and not just a naked guy to be shocked by and pointed at as I walk by.

But then again, these are probably flights of fancy that I could never pull off, considering the difficulty I have communicating/connecting with people. I do like them as ideas, though.

Bottom line: Burning Man was worth seeing, but there are other places I belong at more. Places where I can get more bang for my buck (with the emphasis on less buck rather than more bang). Being a part of the social experiment that is Burning Man is something I can be proud of, but it's far from the utopia I had hoped. For one thing, it's too damn big. Population-wise. I do like the idea of the gift economy, though, but I can't help feeling that it's in some way ruined by the idea that people spend a lot of money on supplies outside of the week of the festival, and then survive on those during the festival. I mean, the gift economy is fantastic on its own, but it's just not sustainable in this way. And that kind of bugs me. I'm an idealist. I'm not content with one week of gifting, even though it's an amazing lifetime experience. I want a model for a gift economy that can work year-round. I want a utopia that I can spend the rest of my days in, not one that only exists 1 in 52 parts of the year.

So Burning Man is not perfect. But it's still probably better than most other places, at least in this country, if not the world. And I'm glad I was there, even if just once.

16 September, 2008

If You Died Tomorrow...

If you died tomorrow, and you could only take one memory with you to comfort you for the rest of eternity (assuming, of course, that that's how your afterlife plays out), which memory would you take?

Also, which is better: expectation, or fulfillment?

Journal 023?

I wasn't gonna bother posting, but I'm kind of bored. That's not to say that I don't have anything to do, but...well, I'm sure you get bored sometimes, too, and you know what it's like. I'm feeling a kind of void in the area of interpersonal communication. Not that that's something I rate highly in terms of priority or interest. But the message boards I frequent (and there's only two currently - one related to music and one related to nudism) have been pretty dry of interesting topics/discussions lately. As much as I want to readjust my schedule so that I can resume daily chatting with my friend who lives in a foreign country, I can't help feeling that holding onto my current semi-normal schedule is an important thing for me to do. Burning Man has burned through my finances (I'm still working on totaling up the bill), and it's looking like I'm gonna seriously need to get a job soon. Not that such a notion seems any more likely now than it ever has been, but the need is there...

What I wanted to mention was what happened last night. /After/ the whole weather thing. I woke up at 4am after having some trouble sleeping. I wasn't able to get back to sleep, so I got up for a bit, but it ultimately didn't throw off my sleeping schedule as I had feared it might. In any case, I was lying in bed, and I started thinking about food, believe it or not. I started craving a grilled cheese sandwich, and then I started thinking about other cheesy foods. In a day, I could have a cheese omelette for breakfast, a grilled cheese with macaroni and cheese on the side for lunch, and a cheese pizza with mozzarella sticks and a cup of cheesy minestrone soup (I had to throw that in since having some at Uno's) for dinner. I ended up going down to the kitchen and making myself a snack, but as I am too lazy to cook, I just put a couple pieces of cheese between two slices of toast. It wasn't quite the same. But it was something.

I just remembered part of a dream I had last night, that was pretty dramatic. There was this huge hotel - we're talking labyrinthine corridors, here - and somehow the halls doubled as streets. I was driving along, with Doug in the passenger seat (probably memories of the road trip), and a car with flashing lights passed me and stopped in front of me. There was another car or two with flashing lights stopped there, and I had to stop, too, as I couldn't get past. So we walked past, since these were not just streets, but actual halls of the hotel too. Well, here's the important part. The cars with flashing lights weren't actual cops, but some sort of terrorists in disguise. They were pulling some kind of hostage deal or something. They had guns out and were pointing them at their hostages, and there we were, walking right into the middle of it.

Well, it was pretty harrowing. My thought was, we're not a part of this, we have nothing to do with it, we're just passing through. So we kept walking. The terrorist guys pointed their guns at us, but they didn't really give us any orders or tell us to stop or anything. So we walked past them, with our hands up, saying that we had nothing to do with it, and that we just wanted to get past, that we had no intention of screwing up whatever plans they had. Walking past these guys with that gun pointed at me, I was sure we were gonna be shot to death. It was quite scary. But I kept walking, hoping that they'd just let us go. And they did. We just walked right on out of there, and they got on with their business. I was sure that I was gonna die. But I survived. Imagine that feeling. Then there was another scene trying to sleep in that hotel but being all paranoid about the terrorists and whatnot, but the scene I described was the important one.

These dreams are never as good when you try to explain them to someone, because it's the effect of being there that makes them so powerful. Oh well. I just caught up on the Claymore manga and watched yesterday's episode of Code Geass. Good stuff. I just started watching a series called Skygirls that I torrented en masse within the past week or so. Admittedly, it was an impulse download, and though I liked the sound of the premise - cute young girls piloting mecha-planes - I feared that it would turn out to be an exploitative piece of crap where the only redeeming feature was the girls. I'm happy to report, that three episodes in, I think the series is amazing. The girls are incredibly cute, but the series approaches itself seriously, and I'm really getting sucked into the characters. We'll see where it goes from here, but for now, two thumbs up.

14 September, 2008


The weather tonight is wild. I'm assuming it's hurricane runoff. I don't think I've ever directly experienced winds this strong in this area before. Not directly. These winds are like at playa-strength. Except they're a lot more intimidating because they're louder, what with all the trees around. Around here, you hear the wind, and it freaks you out, because it /sounds/ strong. Out there, on the playa, you don't hear the wind so much as you just feel it and know exactly how strong it is.

In addition to the wind, the standing air temperature is pretty warm (it felt perfect - truly perfect, the combination of heat and humidity (neither one too strong but both palpable) - before sunset). Even now, it remains in the high 70's, hours after sunset. Although, with the heavy and constant wind, it feels a little chillier than that, unfortunately. The full moon is also out, and despite heavy cloud cover, it has a tendency to peek out between cloud banks as the wind pushes them rapidly across the sky - and the full moon is bright enough that at times, when it peeks out between those clouds, you could believe (and I did, at least once) that somebody had turned a light on!

The power's been fluctuating a little tonight. It hasn't gone off, but it did - just now - fluctuate enough to reset my computer (though not enough to reset the clocks). In fact, it happened a second time while I was logging back in... There was some lightning that I saw, although it was very unusual. I didn't see the bolts, and it looked like the lightning was coming from behind the clouds in the western sky, but they were lighting up that sector of the sky in an eerie blue. It was really cool. There was still no rain when I last checked.

With weather like this, it's such a waste to sit inside and ignore it. I know it must not affect people on a spiritual level the way it affects me, but I just can't imagine sitting around and ignoring it. This is the kind of thing I live for. When I hear that wind howling outside, it's as if it were calling to me, and I have to go out and embrace it. I think that if I lived in an area with more frequent severe weather (like actual hurricane country, for example), I'd probably be killed sooner or later by stupidly embracing a dangerous storm when I should be running and hiding. But as I said, this is what I live for, and I just can't ignore it.

So I went outside to watch the sunset and strum my guitar - even though the wind was loud enough at times that I couldn't hear myself play. I came in, but the winds got stronger, and I had to go back out again sometime after dark. I went up in the wooden playhouse structure in the backyard (hereby dubbed "Eagle's Nest") - which I don't think I've been in for the past six years or so. I even took off my clothes and sat up there for a bit, because obviously, clothes just get in the way of connecting with nature.

During the stronger gusts, the wind was able to shake the Eagle's Nest a bit, making me a little nervous. At one point a fairly large branch dropped out of the tree above and wacked the side of the Eagle's Nest. After that point, I became a little more wary and cautious about the severity of the weather. There were some loud noises just over the fence in the neighbor's yard, and though it was dark, it looked as though a large branch - like an actual portion of a tree, magnitudes larger than the branch that hit the Eagle's Nest - hit the neighbor's house. In response to the noises, the neighbors started glancing out their back window with a flashlight trying to assess the damage. At this point I got a little self-conscious and put my clothes back on, which is a good thing, because one of the neighbors then came outside to take a closer look at the damage (which I'd like to think is minor, despite the size of things).

With the super-wind, the full moon, and the blue lightning, it was a hell of an experience. And yet, I still found myself lamenting the fact that it's so hard to get away from people in this area. I wanna go back to Rachel. Not a person from here to the horizon. Sigh.

Yesterday was really hot and humid. Although, it was really far more humid than it was hot. People were exclaiming "it's really hot", and having just been in the desert, I was like, "it's not /hot/, it's just really really humid." There really is a difference. I mean, living around here, hot and humid go together, and when it gets really humid, like when your clothes stick to your skin even when you're not sweating, it feels like its hot. But it's not really that hot, it's just humid. In the desert, it's hot. Here, I can feel the sweat dripping down my back, and I hate that feeling (more so when I have soggy clothes hanging off my back), but in the desert, it's actually about being hot, not wet (or sticky). Oh, what I would have given to be able to dive into a pool while I was out there in the desert...

Anyway, one thing I've learned, other than the difference firsthand between "hot" and "humid", is that my perfect weather is neither intensely hot, nor intensely humid, but a nice mixture of hot and humid, where neither one is too overpowering, but both are present. Whatever good that does, because it's not like I can just dial in the weather whenever I feel like it...

10 September, 2008

What I Really Want For Xmas

I know it's kind of early to be thinking about Xmas, but it'll be here before you know it. I always feel guilty asking for consumer goods when I don't really feel like I deserve them. But I also feel like part of my obligation to my family is to have a good time at Xmas, and I know people are gonna get me stuff anyway - asking for money or nothing at all just kills the fun of the holiday, and makes it harder on people that are determined to shop for gifts for me. And although getting things like cd's and books and movies and toys are a blast, those aren't the things that I really want or need in my life. I actually wrote up a short list of what I *really* wanted for Xmas last year, but of course there was no point in giving it to anyone, because it didn't contain the sort of things people could really get me. If Santa really were real, and he possessed some kind of magic to get people what they really wanted, beyond trinkets and toys, here's what my list would be like this year:

What I Really Want For Xmas (not necessarily in order)

a job
a car
an apartment
a girlfriend

And if I could only ask for one thing, I'd ask for a brand new personality - something considerably more outgoing than what I've currently got. Then I think I could finally have a good New Years and improve my life.

08 September, 2008

The Job Market

There are two things in particular (among others) that really turn me off of the job market: competition, and recommendation. I'm just not a competitive person. I don't want to have to prove myself as the cream of a crop of applicants. I'm of the opinion that there's always someone better, so for me to take the position of being the best, the perfect man for the job, is insincere, and I refuse. I want to find a job that speaks to me, that I think I can do, and I want that job to welcome me with open arms. I don't want to be the perfect man for the job, I just want to be the right man for the job - and it shouldn't be something that I should have to prove, it should be self-evident in the fact that I've taken interest in the job.

The other thing I hate is recommendation. I understand the point of it, but it just isn't for me. I'm a loner. I don't have a network of supports that can vouch for my character, personality, or abilities. And it's not because I have a poor character, a lousy personality, or no abilities. I just don't want my value to have to be judged by others. There's the person I am, and then there's the impression I make on people. I don't want to be judged by the impression I make on people, I want to be judged by who I am. And if somebody wants to know if I'm trustworthy, if I have a good character, a winning personality, or any kind of abilities, I want them to find it out from me. Get to know me, by asking me questions and spending time with me and learning from me - not from other people. I'm not walking around this world as a figurehead for a giant network of people who define each other. I am me. I am one. I will vouch for myself.