saved from my own ways by beautiful boys

sanfran leap
San Francisco 2008

My summer is about to explode. It has already started, a little, (I sneaked into a rave on Friday night, spent Saturday on a cross-Atlantic guitar lesson with Richard, Saturday night with dear friends at a dinner, blowing people’s minds with synchronicity, and Sunday at an epic wedding that involved a boat, a full-sized, bright red, radio controlled dalek wedding cake that shouted EXTERMINATE, (part gluten free, too!), a hexacopter ring-bearer, and friends from six or seven countries), but this past weekend was just the amuse bouche.

My comrade Nathan is taking us to Cirque Du Soliex’s Totem tonight for my upcoming birthday, then we’re leaving on Thursday evening for the Sasquatch Music Festival. The line-up is absolutely fantastic, many of my favourite bands are playing, (Elbow, Mogwai, Die Antwood, The National, Cut Copy, TuNe-YaRds, etc.), and it’s going to be our first road-trip. I almost cannot wait. I feel like a little kid, counting sleeps.

Then, on the way back, Nathan is dropping me off in Seattle and I’m going to California for my birthday, courtesy of my ability to fit into a suitcase AKA a sweetheart’s business trip to the Google mothership! Flexibility pays off. Apparently I’ll be flying from Seattle on the 26th or 27th and staying for approximately two weeks.

I leave Canada in four days, but know zero about my flights or even where or when I’m to meet up with my dear B. It is so strange and yet delightful to know I am to be travelling, but not know when or precisely where to. It’s like a trust exercise with the universe that I am surprisingly completely fine with. Are we meeting in Seattle? In California? Where? No idea. I have zero information, but it’s.. gratifying? It feels proper. Makes it more of an adventure, for sure.

I imagine I’ll be taking the train a lot back and forth between SF and Silicon Valley for the first week and tucking in for work during the days, but other than that, my time is open. B. will only be there for the first week and mostly busy with work, which is a bit sad, he is smart and sassy and wonderful, but I’m still thrilled. Once I wave my kerchief goodbye to him at the airport, I’ll couch-float with friends in the Mission or the Castro or the Tenderloin.

The only plans I have so far: Jed and I are making sultry eyes at Too Much Light Makes the Baby Go Blind on May 30th, (come with us!), and Richard has informed me that must visit him at the Vulcan on the first Thursday in June. And Morissa says I can use her house for a birthday dinner party! (Party date as yet to be determined). Other than that, it’s almost all a giant question mark. Do you know of anything going on in SF between May 26th and June 6th-ish? Let’s adventure!

Then I’m back to Seattle for a week to go to the the Georgetown Carnival and the Power Tool Drag Races and all that fun stuff. Maybe play some flaming tether ball. Mars and I are learning to be friends again, too, which makes Seattle much better to visit. I don’t know if B. will be around, but I hope so. (If he isn’t totally sick of me after sharing a hotel room for a week, that is. “Why are all the towels stained scarlet?”, “Why is my pillow purple?”, “How did the room ceiling end up covered in glow-in-the-dark stars? Are those constellations.. accurate?”)

I plan to return to Vancouver on June 15th, immediately put my passport in for renewal the day I get back!, collect certain papers from my mother, Vicki, that she’s bringing back from Ireland, do all of the laundry in the world, maybe throw a quick Vancouver-based birthday party, then head out to Ontario. The plan is to go to REcon (June 23rd – 29th) in Montreal via Waterloo courtesy of Ian, my besty who wants to drive up from Ontario in my fine company. Improbable, yes. Possible, very. I owe his cat Dewie about a thousand snuggles. And I think he’s starting to get tired of carrying his favourite Internet Girl around in his phone à la Her. And Audra has offered us her charming AirBnB apartment in Toronto for a couple of nights, (she has a cotton candy machine!!!), so we could home base out of Toronto and visit with people and stay up late in the city rather than having to go back to Waterloo. I’m sure we’ll use it, as I’m five or six years overdue for a visit and the good people just keep piling up. I even have an uncle there I’ve never met who seems supracool. Why don’t I live in Toronto? I Do Not Even Know.

We’ll be stopping by in Ottawa on our way to Montreal, too, to stop by the river market and stuff our faces with scrumptious berries and sugary beaver tails and APPLY FOR MY IRISH PASSPORT WITH THE EMBASSY! Happy birthday to me! I’m Irish! I HAVE EU AND EVERYTHING. As of, like, six days ago. My mother, bless her, went to Ireland as part of a Canada Council art project with Paul and took the packet of my needful documents with her, followed the very detailed instructions, and has filed my birth with the Irish government!

REcon is apparently a marvelous time, too. It’s run by Hugo, who I love to hang out with at CanSec. I’ve never spent as much time with him or his friends as I would like, so this is perfect. And apparently the Circus Festival starts in Montreal on July 2nd, so maybe we’ll get away with sticking around for a day or two longer for that. Either way, I plan to get fat and happy on delicious food, hug a lot of people, dance my face off, and ride a lot of city bikes. Christine wants to go to the new Cirque show, Kurios, too. I approve. There will also be chocolate and a stop by Santropol. Oh yes.

And no, I don’t know anything solid about flight dates on this trip yet either. IT IS ALL A FANTASTIC MYSTERY.

And then I’m in Vancouver until ToorCamp. (That might be for less than a week, oi). ToorCamp is another hacker event, but in Washington State on July 9th. Nathan wants me to go with him, so of course I said yes. Hopefully my passport will have come back by then and I’ll be good to go. I don’t know much about it, except that the people I know who’ve gone in the past are all excellent.

I have also been tapped to work as the Art Director for Hacked Festival, another hacker event from August 11th – 14th, but this one in Vancouver. It’s their inaugural year and maybe I’ll be able to help, even though I’m barely going to be around for the next few months. (Apply to be a speaker or an artist naow!) I’ve told them about my travel schedule, but the founder met me at BIL and he seems to want me involved anyway, so I might end up going through with it just because. If that ends up being the case, that will fit in right after ToorCamp. And right before Burning Man.

I have a number of options for Burning Man this year, but I think I might be tossing a bunch of them over to stay with a lawyer friend from Seattle. Not only do I appreciate him a metric ton just in general, I cannot get enough of his art project, an infrared photobooth. People step inside into pitch blackness, the infrared flash goes off, and though all they see is a small red light, the pictures look like they were taken in daylight.

And then, come September, rest. Playing with ferrets. Adventure is fine, (dying is fine)but Death), but I’m going to miss my ferrets. Pepper and Selenium are the best.

TLDR; If all goes well, I’m going to live out of a suitcase this summer.

Burning Man 2011: Rites of Passage -::- the moving pictures show

Maybe soon the right song will slide on or an opportunity will blossom from a seed planted in the desert, but I haven’t been able to positively frame my time at Burning Man this year. I’m too drained to regret it, but nor am I happy I went. To make up for that, and for my lack of pictures, as my camera died its first day there, here are my videos from last year, which was truly excellent.

Burning Man 2011: Rites of Passage

An Earth Harp concert at The Temple of Transition

For more information about the Earth Harp visit

Propane Fueled Kinetic Fire Sculpture

Crunchy Mama’s Burning Man Wedding Ceremony

“Do you promise to support each other’s pursuit for other heavy machinery operators?
And act as the first line of defense in vetting suitors while not cock-blocking?
Do you promise to each honour and abide the No Fleetwood Mac rule?
Do you promise to give each other open access to your drawers, including culinary, personal, and mechanical?
Do you promise to keep their best interests in mind, give the best advice you can give, and never pull punches?”

The Miraculous Virgin Birth that resulted from the wedding

The Processional Pulling of The Trojan Horse

Read more about the Trojan Horse project at

The Gamelatron, the Robot Gamelan inside the Temple of Transition

Thunderdome Fight: Furry VS Furry!

A Persistence of Vision Art-Bike Wheel

El Pulpo Mecanico

For more information on this art-car, visit

Peter Hudson’s stroboscopic zeotrope sculpture: Charon

For more information on Charon, got to

on whom the pale moon gleams

by Arthur O’Shaughnessy

We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.

My mouth is full of night and water.


My dream started from where I had left off, lying awake in the tent, listening to Burning Man, Robin asleep next to me while I stared past the ceiling to the sky, wondering at myself, at what I might have to do to let anything in. Seamlessly, though in the shadow of sleep, I left the bed, carefully found my night clothes and put them on again. Then I crept outside, paused, took a breath as I stood at the mouth of the tent, then zipped it up like a child miming a promise kept. Then the dream skipped like an analog video on fast forward, its reality taking a moment to blur just long enough to get me to the Esplanade.

From there it was a long walk, all of it wrapped in pale dust and cold and the lights of fantastic things passing me by in the dark as if I were actually there, the thump of all the art cars blurring as I dreamed of crossing the Playa, the music hard and glittering, my body a shadow but as real as my mind could synthesize. My walk through the desert seemed to symbolize nothing, except as a means to an end, as I had a destination before I had even fallen asleep: The Magic Phonebooth, a public satellite phone some rich person provides every year as an art project that anyone can use to call anywhere in the world for as long as they want. I had spoken of it earlier to Robin, as one of my favourite things there that I had never used, offered maybe as a solution to some of my disassociation, some of what was keeping me from the world.

As I approached it, though, exhausted and cold, I could felt the emptiness inside my heart as if it were made of a tangible material, my apathy so extensive it could almost be measured by clever engineers. Yet my journey continued, my feet kept moving, until I was finally there, hand on the metal door, still uncertain of what I was going to say. My life seemed so hollow, so irrelevant, a pointlessness amplified to deafening levels. What was I looking for? Redemption? Validation? It was a mystery to me, but I opened the door anyway and stepped inside.

My dream self didn’t pause, though I would have fumbled there, but picked up the receiver and cradled it against my ear like an old friend, and dialled a number I’ve never actually known by rote. East coast. Across the river. The gantries. The transom over the door. The metal bed-frame. Lying on the couch, listening to a story about a man being bitten on the foot by a fish and losing one of his toes. “You would have been proud of me.” How I never would have gone back to that place if he hadn’t put his hand on the small of my back. How completely damaged he was. How much he liked the feathers in my hair. My photo in a terrible frame, tacky, grandmotherly. His picture pinned to a string at the foot of my room. The first time he told me, in a drug store that I have visited since to buy my first set of false eye-lashes, but hated in his absence, when he told me and I looked up and he shook his head as if I should have already known. It was a torrent. A rush. Endless, though it only lasted seconds.

The phone rang once, then clicked as he picked up. The background of traffic was barely there, even in the lee of the bridge. Late, I know, I thought, almost surprised that he had woken up in my dream, even knowing it was all pretend. “Hello?” An art car passed the booth, the wind picked up, the crawling sounds of Burning Man leaked past my lips through the wires, loud and flashy, obvious through my silence. He waited. I waited. When at least I finally spoke, it was only five words. “Everything is broken without you.”

the basic essentials of burning man: a packing list

As of today, I have 14 days until I leave with Robin and Nathan for Burning Man 2012.

I am not even remotely prepared. I can't even pretend that I am remotely prepared. The two people I'm travelling with are two burn-virgins, too, so I am somehow the most experienced leader of our little pack in spite of being the one with the least resources to pull on to prepare. To help them, however, I've put together a pretty good basic packing list.

In order to properly survive Burning Man, you need:

A tent with serious tent pegs and a shade. A sleeping surface. Warm bedding. A bicycle with a basket and a headlight and a lock. A big cooler. A camelbak style hydration pack. High SPF spray-on sunscreen. A sun hat. A warm hat. A warm coat, the fluffier and bigger the better. El-wire, battery operated string lights, or other equivalent light sources to attach to your bicycle, your bag, and your self. Two headlamps. A dust mask. Goggles. A week of food. A week of water. A camp-stove and fuel. Boots that go past your ankle. A camp chair. A light for your tent. A hair-brush or comb. Wet-wipes. Vinegar. Duct-tape. Batteries. Zipties. A pocket belt with clips. A small tub or pot. A first aid kit. Wrist or pocket watch. Luggage tags to put on your tent, your bag, and your bicycle. Sunglasses. Ear plugs. Antiperspirant. Toiletries kit. Daytime summer clothes. Superglue. Scissors. Nighttime winter clothes. Anti-chafing powder or gel. A flashlight. A kilt or pants with pockets. A water bottle. Energy and vitamin drink-mix powder like Zip-fizz or equivalent. A travel mug. Toilet paper. Playa Friend Map. Bike tire repair kit. Bicycle chain lube.  Safety-pins. Lip-balm. Soap. Dry shampoo. Bungee cords. Ziplock bags. Cocoa butter. Sanitizer. Carabineer clips. A folding hand fan. A mirror. A cooking pot. A hammer. A good knife. Extra socks. Trash bags. A multitool like a leatherman. Raincoat. A sharpie. A set of silverware. A lighter. Condoms. A towel. Moisturizer. Make-up. Costumes, including a tutu for Tuesday.

If you wear glasses: Glasses repair kit, spare glasses, lens cloth.
If you wear contacts: Contacts, extra eye drops, spare glasses, lens cloth.

Anything on top of that is gravy. You should, of course, bring fun things – stuff to share, bucky domes, toys, bubble guns, musical instruments, flags, water guns, parasols, stilts, crazy art, fire dancing tools, stackable snap-top bins or plastic drawers to keep your stuff sorted, lanterns, shade structures, hammocks, gifts, or whatever sort of general fabulousness your creative fancy can conceive – but on the whole, those are your survival basics. You might get by without safety pins or scissors, but bring them anyway. Treat everything on the list as a requirement for your own safety. 

If you bring a camera: The playa is made of a corrosive alkaline dust. Use tape, like electrical tape, to seal every seam on your camera. (Underwater protection bags suck.) Bring a large memory card and a usb cable to dump your photos with, so you don't have to open your camera. Try to charge your battery through usb only. Keep any lens not attached to your camera in a heavy-duty ziplock bag. Also bring, if you can, a tripod or mini tripod and a remote flash.

Do Not Bring: Anything that sheds MOOP, Matter Out Of Place, like feather boas or chunky glitter or sequins. Bananas. Made-in-china style swag "gifts" to share. (Gifts should be beautiful/interesting/useful.) Red twizzlers. Seriously, just don't. 

Pre-playa preparedness: Car tune-up. Bicycle tune-up, including el-wire installation. Fill your prescriptions. Give the Burning Man Emergency contact link to appropriate parties. Read the Burning Man Survival Guide. Extra key for your vehicle, plus a magnetic thinger to stick it to your car with. Buy your water as close to Burning Man as possible. Water is heavy and will negatively effect your gas mileage. Seal one set of clean clothes in a zip-lock for your return trip. Double-check you have the appropriate accessories for everything you are bringing, such as batteries, a can opener, an air mattress repair kit or power-cords. (You may not have electricity or internet but other people will and if you ask nicely, some of them will let you use it. There is also internet at Center Camp.) Seal anything metal, like batteries, in a zip-lock. 

Edibles: I recommend vacuum sealing your week's worth of food and freezing the bags flat before putting them in your cooler so that each meal acts as an ice-pack. Try to put aside at least two favourite meals. If you can, have enough food to share. Try to give away your left-overs to save on possible spoilage. Also bring MRE's, meal-in-a-bottle drinks like Ensure, canned fruit, fruit cups, energy drinks, energy/protein bars, oranges, dried fruit, smushed fruit food like apple sauce, pickles, cheese, chocolate, summer sausage, pudding snacks, crackers, cookies, juice boxes, candy, and other assorted shelf-stable snacky things. You won't want to eat meals during the day, but you're constantly using more energy than usual, so you need a lot of small, quick hits of calories. Playa makes sugar taste better. Bringing extra alcohol is also good to offer to others. (Bailey's is especially appreciated by those that usually drink cream or milk in their morning coffee).

While on the playa: Leave all of your valuables locked in your vehicle, including your wallet, especially on the Burn Nights, Saturday and Sunday. Carry hydrating liquids, goggles, and a dust mask with you at all times. You may only intend to be gone five minutes, but you may not end up back for five hours. Even sober, the shiny things will distract you. Be visible at night or die. Remember your ticket is a waiver for death and act accordingly. Because the playa is alkaline, try to soak your feet in vinegar water at least once every two days to keep yourself from chemical burn and injury. Most people do so while eating breakfast to help beat the heat. Garbage, if burnable, should be put in a fire barrel. Large fire barrels are provided at each keyhole plaza at the end of the week for trash disposal.

I want you to know that some things are still hard, but a lot is getting better.

My injuries are still significant, though my ankle is almost entirely fixed thanks to a birthday massage session with Doug in May while I was down there for Joe and Drew's wake. He helped my back, too, enough that I can get around again, even if not very well. I'm still going through naproxin like candy, but I'm no longer so regularly bed-ridden. Hooray!

I'm still dreadfully underemployed, which is a huge step up from the chronic unemployment I've been plagued with. I did a few websites for people and I've taken up work as a Social Media Manager for Matthew Borgatti, a new friend that I met through Willow at the Seattle Mini-Maker Faire. You might have heard of him through the Anonymous Guy Fawkes Bandannas he sells through his shop, Sleek & Destroy. So far it's been interesting and I love my work and I adore doing business with him and it's all completely groovy. Even aside from all that, being paid to write again has been intensely satisfying.

Another interesting opportunity: I hand-waved away a free staff ticket to Burning Man back in May, but a different one just landed in my lap that I've accepted, (though I said no to Early Entry), so once again I'm going to be one of the Luminferous, the Processional torch bearers that bring The One Flame to The Man and kick off Conclave on Saturday night. Right in the thick of it, helping make the important things happen, my absolutely favourite place to be.

I don't have the resources to afford the trip yet, but I have no doubt that things will fall together in the nick of time. My knack for survival is ground right in. 

cigarettes and chocolate milk

… the best power/weight ratio for humans is found in 12-year-old girls, but unfortunately they don’t have the stamina needed to be long range human powered aircraft pilots.

I recently spent a week and a half in Seattle attempting to take care of Tony, who just had all four of his wisdom teeth yanked out. It was, oddly, good times, even though I was sleeping on a cot on the floor and he was drifting in and out of hazy clouds of drug-hammered pain. As a bonus I tried get something new done every day, like hauling all the art downtown to be framed or finally getting the upholstery cleaned, that would improve his life but that he’d never get around to doing himself. I’m not sure how much success there was to be found in a week, but at least the surface changes were drastic. (Now if only I could bring the same zeal to my own housekeeping).

We also went to Seacompression together with Aleks, (who wore my Sputnik costume, ten points for giving it to a Russian to wear!), and danced our fool selves into exhaustion. The art there was amazing, as expected, but where we spent the most time was fairly simple, a boat filled with pillows that sat on the ground between three of the bars, stocked with two bamboo fishing rods and a bucket of “bait”, doughnuts, cookies with holes in the middle, and pretzels. It was surprisingly comfortable, (lending credence to my one-day-in-forever plan of using a small, hanging boat as a bed), and a ridiculously fun way to make new friends. I was hooked in with a chocolate doughnut, but when it was my turn I found the best return was in the cookies. Less of a commitment.

my very favourite art car

Duane Flatmo’s steampunk-styled artcar, El Pulpo Mechanico

El Pulpo was made entirely from recycled materials, mostly scavenged scrap metal, and only completely assembled for the very first time on playa.

It was astonishing, how there could be so much in one place. We arrived to a line-up, dust and darkness and running lights, every tenth vehicle hosting a tiny party of celebrants, giddy to finally arrive. I pulled my bike off the back of the car, explored back and forth, gliding as if flying from conversation to conversation, stopping to chat wherever I could. The line moved fast, though, and soon we were past the gate, pushing past the empty playa to the city, lights, music, and chaos swelling out of the dust, guiding our way.

The greeters, when you meet them, have a particular script. They ask if you’re new, if this is your first year, if you need to ring the bell or roll in the dust, as they hand you your booklet, your maps, and miscellaneous stickers. Mostly, though, what they say is, “welcome home”. There are layers to it, acceptance, comfort, joy. It is rote, but it is meaningful, and it was fascinating to feel the reply this time, to know that this trip was already different from last year, already more.

I set up my camp in the dark, assembling poles and slipping them into clips by touch, my small tidy pile of belongings lit only by the ambient light of a lantern that a new campmate Quan sweetly brought out to me after I’d already put up my tent. I fell asleep wrapped in simplicity, my bedding still clean of playa, wondering where Tony was, wondering at the stars. I was briefly disappointed in myself, at my driving exhaustion, my inability to go out and explore, but tomorrow would be okay too, I decided, freshly minted, a perfect block of time, seasoned and ready to be carved.

leaving for burning man and I’m not afraid. i have binoculars and my cape and my fangs.

500 people in 100 seconds.

And with that, I leave for the desert. Jordan’s due here any minute and all of my things are packed. We’re hoping to stop in Tacoma on the way down, so Andrew and I can finally meet, but as I haven’t heard from him yet, it may be something we’ll do on the way back. Our only other stop is Reno, to shoot some cards and try a slot machine, just because we can and never have. It feels strange to be going this alone, like I should be waiting for Tony to get home before taking off, but he left yesterday, it’s only the echo of our past relationship that’s reverberating through the walls. Nicholas stayed over last night, kidnapped from a party room at PAX, and said he’s not sure he could do such a thing, sleep comfortably in a place he used to live with a partner. “Too many ghosts”, he said. Maybe that’s it. At any rate, I’m leaving, and I won’t be on-line for awhile.

I love you all. I wish you all well. Be happy. Be safe. I’ll try to see you soon.