Dublin Double Take 

In my travels, one of the cities that most surprised me was Dublin, Ireland.   My first time there was a year & a half ago,  in the late summer of 2014.  I was there for work and had one day to squeeze in as much as possible.  

I loved how my day went so much, that when I returned a few weeks later, I invited my friend, Jamie, along and we kind of re-lived my first visit there.  Sure, the days weren’t identical, but it was cool to do a “double take” of Dublin… 

Both days started with a hike in Howth, a beautiful port city that made me feel right at home.  The trail takes you along the water, through beautiful neighborhoods and rolling hills of green that remind me of Irish Spring soap commercials I saw on tv as a little girl.  

Our train stop from the city to Howth.

Day 1 had a little carnival.

 

Day 2 had a local, Farmer’s Market…

  

with lots of free samples!


  
 

Day 1, with my crew member, Dan.


 

Day 2, with my crew members/friends, Jamie & Carolyn.

    *You might remember Carolyn from my Barcelona post.  2014 was her last year flying & this was actually her last trip before retirement. 

    
  

Day 1 fellow hikers


 

Day 2 fellow hikers


 

  

When I’m traveling, there are so many times I pass cool houses & I want to knock on the door and ask the residents if I can hang out with them for the day… This was one of those houses… I loved this view on Day 1.

 

I loved it on Day 2, too!

 
      

     

Day 1


 

Day 2

   

        

Day 1


 

Day 2

  
  

     

  

  

“Killa Villa”

   

Day 1

  

Day 2

 
     

After the climb up the mountain, we found a cute little pub.  It was only right to treat ourselves to a nice cold Guinness. Cheers! 

  
  

Day 1

   
  

Day 2

 

 

Day 2

 
After our drinks, it was time for food & more exploring.  Both days took me back into the city to play in the famous Temple Bar area.  Both evenings consisted of lots of Jameson, fish & chips, live music & a lot of fun. 

   
   
 

Both days brought me here for live music and even NFL football. I got to watch my Oakland Raiders play the Miami Dolphins, in London!

 

   
   


              
   
  

  

     

The second night was so special, because Jamie & I got to celebrate with Carolyn  on her last layover.  We all pitched in to get her a nice photo of Dublin & we had a cake for her on our flight back.  We all had a wonderful time.  Best wishes, Carolyn! 

Thanks for reading along, everyone. Cheers!
  

Chasing Nicky Jam 

Last week was my second attempt at seeing Nicky Jam, live, and (unlike my first attempt in Guadalajara) it was an utter success! It all started on February 13, in Mexico. I ventured out to the town that raised my father for amazing (economically priced) tickets for the Fénix Tour’s last stop in Mexico. For the price of the front-and-center seats, a (discounted) flight, hotel, food & drinks, I could experience Nicky Jam up close & personal for less than I could at any of his U.S. stops.  

Little did I know that my once declared statement of, “This man will only break my heart,” would come true so soon. Due to “lack of security & technical support,” the Fénix Tour had to “postpone” its Guadalajara show until further notice. I, of course, wasn’t made aware of this until I showed up for the concert, only to find a dark, lonely stadium. Talk about heartbreak! 

Lucky for me, my amazing career allows me to travel. I just had to request a refund, and cough up the extra cash to see Nicky in a different city. It just so happened that I had the day off when Nicky would be performing at Madison Square Garden. I’ve always wanted to see a show there, and since I was more determined than ever to get to see Nicky jam, I was in! 

My ticket for the Garden was more than double what I paid for at el Auditorio Benito Juarez, and my seat wasn’t nearly as good, but I was excited to dance the night away with great music & mi gente Latina de Nueva York! 

Zion Y Lennox got everyone on their feet as the opening act. They have so many huge hits. The crowd was singing along, letra por letra & the dancing was contagious. 

photo courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 Valentino did a great job at keeping people on their feet before Nicky took the stage.  

A large clock indicated the countdown to the main event & when it struck 0:00, the phone rang & el Cangri’s voice serenaded the crowd with the opening lyrics from Travesuras… “Hola bebe!” 

 

photo courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 
From that first song, until the last note was sung, the entire audience was on their feet. It was a night of dancing, singing, laughing, & screaming. Nicky Jam has a sexy voice, great dance moves, and a smile that could melt you like a Popsicle on the Fourth of July

  
  
  
 

photos courtesy of areaNewYork.com

 
His flirtatious lyrics, catchy beats & charismamatic stage presence make women swoon & men feel smooth. It’s the classic “every girl wants him & every guy wants to be him,” scenario. Nicky’s definitely got something special. 

The night included a lot of lights & fireworks. Nicky took breaks from singing to joke with the crowd, to host “this side vs that side,” (or “ladies vs fellas”) crowd participation competitions and to take Latino roll call. He greeted Colombians, Puerto Ricans, Venezuelans, Dominicans, & so on & so on… But, I never heard a shout out the recently cancelled-on Mexican fans, something I later brought to the attention of the NJ entourage. 

The night ended with an extended version of Nicky’s huge hit, El Perdon (featuring Enrique Iglesias), during which, Nicky had one of his colleagues select a lucky girl from the audience to join him on stage. It couldn’t have gone on long enough. I was loving every minute of it. I’m sure Angelica (the serenadee) felt the same way. 

Nicky made it a point to express his gratitude to the everyone in attendance. He kept saying that we were making his dreams come true, by allowing my him to say that he not only played Madison Square Garden, but that he played a sold out show there on March 3, 2016, a day I doubt any of us will ever forget.  

Bravo, Nicky. Bravo! 

   

  
Get your tickets to the Fénix Tour and all the latest news on Nicky Jam at NickyJampr.com

*Special thanks to Carlos Plaza at areaNewYork.com for collaborating with me & providing photos from concert. 

On The Radio! 

I started my blog with the intention to show what life could look like when you start over. I wanted to share what it was like to try new things & chase dreams. During a recent visit home, I had the chance to fulfill my dream of being on the radio! 

My friend, Alexia, is on air Monday through Friday on San Diego’s Energy 103.7. She’s been building her career in radio for well over a decade and it’s all come full circle. I introduced her to San Diego about 13 years ago, for a crazy weekend to celebrate her birthday. She (like many) fell in love with America’s Finest City instantly. Now, she’s working her dream job in the city that changed her life. I’m so proud of her! 

When she invited me to come chat on her show, I jumped at the opportunity.  You see, I’ve always wanted to have that, “Hey, what’s up, it’s your girl, Ceci, coming to you live. Up next, we have The Weekend with The Hills…” moment. It felt so good to make that come true. 

  
We spent hours sharing stories of our younger days, of my travels, my tinder-ing & just laughing & catching up. She made me feel like such a rockstar when she asked me questions about my life. 

  
But, for me, it was so much fun watching her in action. She amazes me with how quick she records & edits snippets, how comfortable she is on the mic, and how happy broadcasting to her listeners makes her. It was truly a beautiful thing to witness. 

   
   
  
So, this is my way of saying “Thank you,” to my friend, for allowing me to spend a night in her world, to experience something I’ve always dreamed of, and for being such an inspiration to me & so many others! 

  
  

  
Catch Alexia on air M-F from 7pm-12am PST on 103.7 fm in San Diego, or Energy1037.com worldwide! 

  
Thanks for reading along, everyone.  Make sure to tune in tonight! 

Sisters in Paris 

As I mentioned in my Amsterdam post, I got to enjoy a little vacation with my sisters in Paris this time, last year.  It was their first time in the city and we had a long list of things to do. 

We started our trip with a train ride from Amsterdam.  After hopping on the wrong train & transferring, we accidentally ended up in first class.  It was amazing! 

Our hotel in Paris was right near the Eiffel Tower, & we could peak at it from our window.  My sister & I made sure to walk over to the tower as soon as we checked in.  We took lots of photos. 

   
    
   

The next two days were filled with activities.  We visited The Louver and checked out the Mona Lisa, we stopped by the Eiffel Tower more than once, we ate delicious food, drank lots of wine & wandered the romantic streets of the city. 

  
One of my favorite events was when we took the train to Versailles to see The Palace.  Here’s what the royal estate looked like…  

  
  
  

   

The bedrooms, the carpets, the lighting fixtures, the drapes… everything was so beautiful!

 
  
 

I stopped to touch up my makeup in one of the royal mirrors, as I imagined being a princess, just hanging out at home.


 

Speaking of mirrors… here’s a shot in the famous Hall of Mirrors. You might recognize it from Rihanna’s Dior commercial!

  
  

  
 

Once again, pretending to be a princess…

 
  
  

My blogger bestie and her husband also joined us on the trip.  You saw them in my Amsterdam post, as well.  We met for drinks & bites at the highest view point in Paris.  Here’s a shot of our gorgeous view, from HautePinkPretty.com.  

 

It was a magical moment to share with the girl I once worked with at a bank.  We always dreamed of traveling & talked about following our passions.  Now, here we were, toasting in France! 
I also had the pleasure of taking my sisters to the famous Ladurée, for macaroons and tea.  It was an early birthday present to my big sis.  It filled me with joy to celebrate with her in such a beautiful city. 

  

In a couple of days, my sisters and brother-in-law are joining me for my 2016 vacation… In Colombia! Stay tuned for the post.  I promise to not make you wait a whole year for it. 

Rhymesayers 20 Year Anniversary 

Last month I got to celebrate with my Rhymesayers friends for their 20th Anniversary at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota.  I’ll admit, in 1995 – when RSE was getting started on building what would one day become my favorite independent hip hop record label – the only hip hop I was listening to was from the West Coast, and my 12 year old self was more concerned with singing Selena songs more than anything. But, just because I was late to the party, doesn’t mean that I haven’t been having a good time… 

I was honored to be invited to this celebration. My only experiences in the city of Minneapolis all involve Rhymesayers moments… & I feel so lucky for that! 

I get to the venue a little early to pick up my ticket. I hang around and say hi to some familiar faces before doors open. When I make it inside, I’m so excited! I want to enjoy every minute of this seven-hour joyous occasion.  

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
I join some of my favorite Rhymesayers family members stage-side to watch the show. I’m pretty excited when Los Nativos are on. With their Spanish lyrics and Aztec dancers, I feel my culture being proudly represented. 

  

 
  
 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
 
The show is moving on swiftly and I’m standing amongst some of the upcoming acts. I make my rounds to thank everyone for allowing me to be a part of this. It feels so good to be welcomed by the creators of the legendary label. 
I walk around the arena to watch the show from different angles. From side stage, to my assigned seat, to the engineer booth, it’s all amazing. I like to watch the entire production come together; it fascinates me to catch people (all people) in their element.  
Of course, my immediate attention goes to the performers, but watching Siddiq, J Bird & Slug enjoy the fruits of their labor is just as exciting. It’s beautiful to catch the look on the faces of some of the Rhymesayers artists, while they enjoy their label mates’ sets. I’m greatly entertained by Randy controlling & perfecting the sound. I’m in awe when I spot some of my favorite photographers capturing glorious moments that they’ll share on their websites & Instagram posts. For me, Sarah Dope, Cory Dewald, Van Styles & Beth Saravo are just as big as the stars on the mic.

 

Sarah Dope. Photo by Cory Dewald

  

Van Styles. Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I turn into a total geek when I catch these behind the scenes moments. When I make my way to the friends & family room, I notice that my dear friends have provided us with delicious snacks & plenty of libations. That’s not the best part, though. There’s a door connecting to the media room. It’s buzzing with all the social network stars, afore mentioned, who are working hard to capture moments of the big day. This is where the magic happens. These are the people documenting the night for all the world to see! With laptops, cameras, chargers, and electrical wiring all around, it’s thrilling to see these geniuses at work.   

 

A shot I got at Beth Saravo’s work station.


Around the corner, there’s an interview room. Artists are escorted to & from the exclusive area, while passing by friends & family who are taking a break from the bustling crowd. I dream of being the one behind those doors, asking all the in-depth questions on camera…someday! 

  
I spend my day bouncing around, taking in as much as I possibly can. When I make my way stageside again, I notice headliner, Slug, of Atmosphere.  I’ve had the pleasure of chatting with him casually on a few occasions. Feeling nostalgic, due to the whole “anniversary” thing, I want to share my first Atmosphere memory with Sean. When I go to greet him, he smiles, gives me a hug & for some reason, I chicken out.  
Even though he’s standing alone, and  I have his attention, something inside tells me not to bother him with my story.   I’m sure he hears stuff like this all the time... 

So, I keep the story of how 19 year-old me used to roam the streets of Modesto, CA at night, with loaded spray cans, good friends, and graffiti dreams to myself. “Star,” would be hit up on walls for all to see & I’d be bumping Atmosphere, “And this goes to those who tag and paint walls with aerosol…” 
I’ve never quite remembered what the name of the song was, but who better to ask, than Slug himself? Of course, he’d give me the answer that so many of my fellow Atmosphere fans have failed to provide. But, like I said, my self-doubt got in the way, and all I did was use my reoccurring dialogue. 

“Hi. How are you? So good to see you again!” 

Then, I walked away, hoping not bother him.  
The night goes on, acts continue to grace the stage & move the crowd. Dem Atlas blows me away.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

 
  Grieves has me enthralled. 

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
  Prof makes me jump to my feet & party hard with his energetic stage presence.  

 

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
 I’m amazed by DJ Abilities & touched by his tribute to Eyedea.   

Photo by Cory Dewald


 
As always, Aesop astounds me.  

Photo by Cory Dewald

   
Dilated makes me proud to be from California. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m wrapped up in every minute. 
I enjoy the show with some of my favorite Rhymesayers (associated) ladies – the Glam Dolls, friends, family & significant others.  

  

We step outside for fresh air, after Brother Ali’s set and hurry back in for some water & to catch Atmosphere as they close the show.   

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
I’m walking through the crowd, floor level when I spot special guest, Spawn, reunited on stage with Slug, performing the song that introduced me to Atmosphere & Rhymesayers as a whole. 

Photo by Cory Dewald

I could kick myself for not telling Slug about it when I had the chance… Oh how different that interaction & the entire night could have gone…

I could picture it already.  Slug would go all Betty Wright (Tonight is the Night) & say something along the lines of

“Ladies & gentlemen, I know a lot of you have been rockin’ with us for a long time. I know you may have seen us live before, but tonight’s set will be a little different. We want to bring back some memories. Everybody, think back to your very first time… When did you first fall in love with Atmosphere? What about Rhymesayers? Well, there’s a lady here tonight that clearly recollects her first time, and she shared it with me earlier…  

And it goes a little something like this…!” 

 

Photo by Cory Dewald

 
Haha! I know, I know… I have a wild imagination. But who knows? Maybe it would’ve happened… 

   

  

    

Photos by Cory Dewald

  
After the confetti fell, gratitude was deeply expressed, and the lights went on, people made their way back to their cars, trains & other forms of transportation to take home with them the warm memories & great feelings about what took place at Target Center that night.  
I headed backstage to check in with friends. When I shared my Slug story with Van Styles, he compared it to the feeling he gets after missing a shot & he encouraged me to always go for it & never hold back… “Because you just never know.” Then, he graciously invited me to Atmosphere’s green room, to tell the story to Sean, myself. I got there in time to watch Slug make his way out, & like my moment, he had escaped. 
On my way to party the night away with some of my favorite people, I ran into Ant & shared the short version of my story with him. It was then that I was finally told the name of that song: Multiples. Boom! Life was good. 
The rest of night was a collection of stories & celebrations with my RSE friends. We partied until we could party no more. Those are the kind of nights I live for!   

 

*Special Thanks to Ashanti for always taking care of me. To Siddiq, J Bird, and the entire Rhymesayers family & extended family for always making “Minnesota Nice” such a real thing in my life. I can’t even begin to express my gratitude in words. To Skye, Jeff, Sarah, Grieves, DJ Fundo, Van Styles, Tanya, Teresa, Jasmine & friends for making my night a fun-filled experience to remember. And, of course, to Beth Saravo and Cory Dewald for collaborating with me & sharing their masterpieces to bring this post to life! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Thank you all so much. I’ll see you at SoundSet 2016! 

Good Grieves 

I first met Benjamin “Grieves” Laub, at the SoundSet 2014 after party. We talked about music & life. I told him that I’m a flight attendant & blogger, and he expressed how much he’d like to share some stories with me. He gave me his contact information & asked me to follow up. I sent an email almost immediately, but never received a response. So, when I noticed him standing next to me at the Rhymesayers 20 celebration, I had to seize the moment. 

He greeted me very politely, after speaking with Photographer, Beth Saravo, who was standing beside me. I was also very polite with my greeting, & after introductions, I reminded him that we’d met before and I wanted to hear his in-flight experiences. 

I thought he was as going to ask me to email him again, but he didn’t. He took a deep breath and went into storytelling mode – something we all know this West Coast MC is very good at. 

  

Photo by Beth Saravo

  
He started with a flight to Denver, CO, a city I’ve come to love. He didn’t disclose which airline he was flying on, but he did disclose the shameless details. A female flight attendant wanted to go above and beyond customer service standards, when she offered (or insisted that he let her give him) a ride home… a little “extra” was definitely insinuated. I can only imagine… 

Another incident he recalls was a recent flight. The destination wasn’t disclosed, but his neighboring passenger was someone he’d never forget. 

“Throughout the flight this guy was complaining about how impatient everyone was. He kept saying how everyone was in such a rush. I just let it slide & didn’t say anything. Then, after landing,  (when the seatbelt sign is turned off), you know how everyone stands up?  People behind him were already in the aisle and he got all mad and yelled, ‘Oh yeah, like it’d kill ya to wait, huh?’

I didn’t say it, but I was like, “Um, You’re the only impatient one here.” ” 

I was impressed by his ability to spot someone who was clearly deflecting. Not everyone can do that & put their frustration aside, in those kind of situations. But, that wasn’t even the most impressive story. 

One time, upon landing, Grieves was sitting next to a young woman who wasn’t feeling well. She seemed very nervous & looked like she was about to be sick. His suspicions came to fruition when the lady began vomitting… In his direction!  He was sitting in the window seat, the woman in the middle, with someone to her left, in the aisle seat. Grieves was the unlucky victim of her aim.  

My first, and instant reaction, was ‘Oh f%^*#!’ But, when I looked at her, she said, “I’m so sorry. I’m pregnant. This happens.”

It was I one of those total human moments and I couldn’t be mad. I looked at her, wearing a thin top, covered in vomit & I took off my button down shirt,  to let her use it to cover herself and get off the plane. She was already so embarrassed, I didn’t want her to feel worse.”

I was so moved by how cool Grieves was in such an uncomfortable position. I see and work with passengers all the time. Not everyone is this calm & collected. Bravo, Ben! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
Grieves also admitted to me that he only uses social media to talk about good airline experiences. He likes to keep his rants private. We discussed the “power of the corporate letter,” and he promised to write something about the next flight attendant he encounters who goes above and beyond. Maybe my colleagues will catch him on their flights! 

As we approach a busy week with holiday flyers, I hope everyone keeps this post in mind.  Be like Ben, ya’ll! 

 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
I’d like to thank Benjamin Laub, for sharing these stories with me and for making my night so special. You’re a good guy, Grieves. I hope to catch you in the friendly skies soon. Cheers!  

For up-to-date information, head to GrievesMusic.com and Rhymesayers.com/Grieves 

Photo by Beth Saravo

 
*Special thanks to the amazing Beth Saravo, for collaborating with me on this post & providing her masterpieces.  I look forward to working with you again! 
Check out more of Beth’s photos on BethSaravo.com

My First Burn 

My last post was about my days leading up to Burning Man.  Even though I can’t possibly sum everything up in words, here’s my attempt at sharing some of my experience with you… 

Day 1 for me, is all about “adjusting.”  I really had no idea what to expect.  I’m still warming up to my RV mates when I meet the rest of the people in our camp. I’m feeling utterly unprepared. I don’t have a bike & that’s the main source of transportation around the 7 mile radius known as “Playa.” 
When some of the female campers want to go explore, I feel left out. Should I just walk? There’s no way I’ll ever keep up. 

One of our campers offers me his bike & I scurry after the girls to catch up. They’re all friends or know each other in some way and although it’s their first burn, they seem to know how to navigate around the clock-like area. I’m once again, reminded of how unprepared I really am. 

We make a stop for lunch. This is when I get to experience the “no cash transactions” policy for the first time. I have gifts to trade, but I don’t even have to use them here. It’s Chipotle, it’s free and it’s delicious! The camp serving the food is also offering signature cocktails. This is when I learn that you’re supposed to bring your own cup (*insert forehead slap). So unprepared.  

Luckily, I have a water with me. I chug the remains & use the bottle for booze at our future stops. We make our way around to different camps & stop frequently to admire some of the art pieces. I’m amazed.  

  
   

  

   
  
We head back to camp shortly after getting word that our friends, A&M have arrived. Maybe I’ll feel a little more at ease now that I have some familiar faces around.  

   
 
 
    
 We congregate with the entire group & have a camp meeting. Our camp leaders, (I guess you would call them) are some major veterans to the event. They have a lot of experience in Black Rock City.  They named our camp Anam Cara – soul friend. It’s their intention that everyone in our camp meet theirs during our time here. 

   
 The night comes quickly & a group of us head out to explore Playa at night. Only, I’m not really in the mood to party. I’m still feeling out of place, unprepared & unwelcome. Against my better judgement, I go out anyway. 

My perception takes total control after my group heads into a dance tent. The music is so loud & everyone is so excited to dance, but I can’t hold my tears back. I’m bawling & I just want my friend to walk me back to the RV so I can sleep it off and they can enjoy themselves without me. 

I’m pretty sure I’m going home in the morning. Maybe this place isn’t for me.  

Sure, It seems like fun to “go back to basics,” to experience life off the grid, and to have to use your limited resources wisely… but to be honest, I’ve experienced that kind of living. For certain years of my childhood, I remember times when my (then) single mother couldn’t pay all the bills. I know what it feels like to be walking through the house at night & the lights being shut off. I remember our house phone being disconnected by the phone company.  I already know what all that feels like. Why on Earth would I actually pay money to live like what I’ve worked so hard to get away from?  I don’t know, but I gotta go. For now, though, I’ll just cry myself to sleep.  

Day 2 is a little better. I wake up to my concerned friends asking if I’m staying.  After having a whole night to think about it, I realize that my camp mates are right:  I’m just out of my comfort zone. At first, when they suggested it, I thought, You don’t know anything about me or my comfort zone.  I live my life testing comfort zones.  I’m always in a different city, with different people and… And then, I realized, the constant change of scenery & people had become my comfort zone.  Taxis, subways, trains and planes have all become so normal to me.  I’m usually only in one place or around certain faces for a day or two.  It’s  easy to “smile through it” for a day.  But, I was here for five days, living intimately with my RV mates, with no social media escape & no Über to call to get me out of it.  It doesn’t take much time to think about my response.  I’m staying! 

I spend the day as part of a group, from morning to night. I’m still not fully familiar with the city and I want to be with my friends.  

     

      

  

photo by April Dydasco

 
It ends up being a day (& night) of dancing, partying & lots of drinking.

     
    
 I’m enjoying myself, but  I’m starting to think that it’s not quite the experience I came here for. Maybe I’ll try a different approach tomorrow… 

 

One of my favorite memories of the day: Having drinks at Scar Bar. To order a drink here, you had to show a scar & tell the story behind it. It was such a beautiful way to connect with one another.

  

photo by April Dydasco

 

Day 3 is the day I explore alone. I’ve looked over the booklet that I received upon arrival. It lists different events being held at certain camps. I’m interested in few workshops.  

I’ve heard that there are community bikes roaming about. You’re free to pick one up & use it as you please, when you actually spot one. I’m starting on foot and I hope to find one. 

I decide that I want to try something new today, and when I stumble upon a community steam bath, I know it’s time to let my inhibitions go. Even though I’m staying in an RV, water consumption is something you need to be aware of. Since showers are a luxury, I undress & climb into the igloo-like structure. There’s a lot of steam, and it’s hot like a sauna. There are a few spray bottles & lots of naked men. It’s definitely a new experience for me to carry on a casual conversation with perfect strangers, while bathing, but it’s also very liberating.     

This is a similar (miniature) version of the steam bath structure.

Now that I’m clean, I head to a couple workshops that touch on self development, self discovery & self empowerment. As I’ve mentioned before, I attended the Lamdmark Forum in 2013, and have enjoyed this type of work ever since. 

I continue my day with a personal coaching session, and a hot dog lunch accompanied by a tarot card reading – something I’ve always wanted to do! I’m noticing that I love daytime here so much more.  I’m what you would call a “day burner.” 

  
I stumble upon one of those community bikes & take myself around center camp. It’s a beautiful, huge tent where art is displayed, acts are on stage, and people are practicing acroyoga. It’s amazing to see.  

On my way back to camp, I get caught in the biggest dust storm I’ve witnessed my entire time here. Everything is consumed with dirt and the tiny particles hurt as they whip against my skin. 

 I don’t let the storm bother me. Even though it’s difficult to breathe and hard to see, I’m actually taking in all the beauty and strength of Mother Nature. 

There are times that I have to stop, because I can’t  bike through the white-out, but the journey back to camp is such  an adventure! 

This photo was a gift from a camp I passed during my solo bike ride, during the dust storm.

   
I decide that I’m continuing on with my solo mission tonight. I take the bike out & hit a couple of bars. One of my favorites is Spanky’s Wine Bar. It’s ladies night, which means men must do what ladies want. I’m in the mood to chill, and red wine is always perfect for that. I roll the dice at the bar & the “price” for my drink is that I have to find the founder of Spanky’s camp, ask to see his penis, point & laugh. 

*Note: Burning Man is all about consent & no one ever “has” to do anything they’re not comfortable with. 

I complete my task as payment for my wine. Why not? 
When I go back for the community bike that had gotten me around most of my day, I notice that it’s now serving some other lucky burner. It’s gone. I take it as a sign to head back to camp & get a good night’s sleep to seize more of the day tomorrow. 

Day 4
is my last full day in Black Rock City. I’m excited & free today! I want to hit a few workshops, spend time with the group, eat, drink, and stay up to catch the famous Robot Heart art car in deep Playa for sunrise.  
I start my day with delicious French toast and when my friend, A, wants breakfast, I can’t deny her. We head back for a couple of slices, even though my workshop is starting soon. She loves it. I’m happy. 
When we arrive at the camp hosting the workshop I want to attend, we discover that it’s full & has been moved. I’m sad that I’m going to miss it, but letting my friend enjoy yummy food made me happy. I’ll just look at other workshops.  
When I pop my head into a nearby tent, I recognize Dave Booda, who I completed a Lamdmark course with. If he’s here, I know his wife (my friend), Paula, must be near! I turn & suddenly, I see her standing next me. I’m so excited… In a place with no cell phone reception, the Universe brought me back together with this amazing, powerful, inspirational woman! 

    
I’m excited to participate in the workshop. It’s called Psychics 101. Little by little, we ease into exercises that lead us to reading each other’s energy. It’s mind-blowing! Some of these strangers are sitting in front of me, with their eyes closed, and they are picking up on so many truths about me. 
The workshop is a reminder of how much we’re all always saying, even without words. I’m present to how loud I am, even when I don’t speak, how much people can read me & how much I try to hide it. Wow! 
I also notice how much I try to ignore what people are giving me. I’m so caught up in my life & what I have going on, that sometimes, I just look past what other people are dealing with. I’m reminded to be more open with people. Life is so much more beautiful when we’re connecting.

I head back to camp, feeling fulfilled. A few of us head out for a bike ride.  It’s one of the most magical days I’ve had… 

  

        

      

        
Soon, we gather with our camp mates to offer black light, glow-in-the-dark body painting, as our gift to the Playa. It’s a nice way to come together and meet other burners.
The night goes on & we ride around looking for as much fun as we can find.  We eventually split up, agreeing that we should all do what will make us happy.  Since it’s my last night, I want to see more of the art pieces… 

This is the Burning Man Temple. People gather here to pray, meditate, and leave gifts & notes for loved ones, as a way of “letting go.” Before the week was over, the temple, along with everything in it, would be burned. Walking through it was very moving.

   
   
   
    
 

  

 

I left a little note for someone who was there with me in spirit…


 
   
 
    
  
 
    
  

I had to get a photo with The Man before he was burned.

 
 I’m determined to stay out until sunrise. So, that’s just what I do. By some – I don’t know, miracle- I find Leo (the RV driver that I had the bumpy start with) and his partner, John at a random bar with a bonfire.  We dance into the morning hours & drink champagne at Robot Heart. By now, we all love each other. 

     
  
  We ride around the outskirts known as “Deep Playa,” and find a huge art fire to warm us from the desert’s morning chill. Someone explains to us that this, like many other pieces created for this year’s gathering, will be burned. It’s a reminder that nothing lasts forever, that things are always changing & we are always building and creating.    

photo by John Andrew Kennedy IV

After a full night and a gorgeous sunrise, I take my time riding back to camp. I make frequent stops to appreciate the art pieces along the way. I know it’s almost time to pack my bags & get ready to leave Black Rock City.  

  
 

    
 

          
My same amazing friends who got me all set up to attend Burning Man, also set me up with a ride back out. I met Peter, a Philadelphia local, yesterday, and we set a meeting time for today. When he comes for me, I have to say bye to my RV buddies, who I had come to love over the last few days. It was a bitter sweet. 

  
As Peter and I begin our journey back into the real world, we spot a group of 3 hitchhikers. Since we have room in the car & we’re all heading in the same direction, we invite them to join us.  
We share our experiences and instantly bond. We talk about the people we met, the things we did, what we saw & how we felt. It’s nice getting to know each other on the open road.

We make a few stops for delicious food, the final one being a farewell to our lady hitchhiker, also a Landmark graduate (small world). When we arrive to San Francisco, I part ways with the guys. It really feels like the perfect way to to end my first Burn… 

Burning Man isn’t just a story to tell. It’s an experience, a feeling, a way of life. It’s a place that will never exist again, for next year, the entire city will change. After each annual gathering, the desert is left with no trace of what took place.  It’s a temporary city, built by the people, for the people.  

Where else can we simply use our gifts & words as payment for food and drink? Where else do we trade what we have with each other, to make someone smile. How often are we free to look and dress as crazy as we want? Where else is creativity & sexuality encouraged in such a way?  How often can wear as much (or as little) as we please? 
Although I complained, I resisted and I cried… I also laughed, connected, and felt confident & sexy… & safe. It was nice to be in a place where trust is the default. The instant camaraderie that Burners feel with other Burners is something so special and so rare. Something happens to human beings out there in that desert.  I’m not sure what that thing is, but I’m so glad that that thing happened to me.  

Thanks for reading along, everyone.  I know this was a long post, but trust me, it still doesn’t cover everything. 

*Special Thanks to each and every person that made Burning Man 2015 possible, especially those in my camp & those that I met during my time there.  I appreciate every story I heard, every drink I had, every bite of food, every dance, every tear, every laugh, every moment.  
**Assistance with photos: April Dydasco 


I know I’m failing & falling behind, but stay tuned for more on my #30postsin30days challenge.