The Dirt Family: Or, my 6th edition of Wasteland Weekend

What’s Wasteland Weekend? The tl;dr answer: A 5 day Post Apoc party.

This event is not any of the following, though elements of these have been adapted to fit the Established Aesthetic–

*A rave

*A festival

*Burning Man

*SCA

Old Hands at Wasteland are all keenly aware that we must adapt to the environment in order to maximize our enjoyment of our time together. There is a certain aesthetic that the whole event is centered around. The purpose of “fully immersive” is to blend in, not to stand out. There are MANY variations on the theme that can and have been utilized to the delight of everyone.

Dozens of people volunteer to spend many hours in a harsh environment to set up and strike a fully-immersive, temporary space. Being the first and last boots on the ground is a weeks-long labor of love taken on by some extraordinary people. On top of this, many people volunteer before, after, or at the event to keep things running smoothly. So when you walk around with a neon pink fanny pack because you want to stand out, it’s taken as a true insult. Think of it as being in the audience of a play on Broadway or the West End and setting your phone’s ringer to the loudest setting. That help? 🙂

The “cost” of “fame” in this environment is to DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE. Use your talents to make cool things (costumes, props, vehicles, camps) and share them with everyone.

If a person wants to go to the event but doesn’t have the time/money/resources to create a camp within the aesthetic, there’s places to pitch your normal tent or park an RV of any size. Clothing is quite easy. Know those old dark-colored cargo pants you’ve had forever and only wear when you’re going to get dirty? The shirt you use to change your oil? Perfect! Learn how to “weather” things by watching any number of videos on the subject!

Each year is different, and each year is “the best” for different reasons.

This was the 4th time I was part of Road Rash, which is a tribe that’s been around for quite awhile. There are specific rules that were created because of this tribe. Honestly, they probably prevented many a true disaster as the event has grown.

The thing to know about us (and any of y’all can object, but y’all never deny it) is that Road Rash is not evil. I kind of think of us as Like-Minded Intellectual Degenerates. The smartass kids who somehow manage to be successful enough in real life to leave Ordinary Life behind and convene together for a week in the Mojave Desert. Many of us have contributed to running the event in many and varied capacities over the years as well, which has always added a layer of Randomness to each year as people are summoned for any number of reasons, ranging from Serious to Silly.

The reason our humor is so dark is because it’s surreal dark humor. We can joke about terrible things because we have a very high moral code and a sense of common decency. It’s hard to articulate because it only exists in the moment.

We protect each other (and the event in general) from Actual Evil. Anyone who doesn’t believe in consent and seeks to harm another will be discovered and, if necessary, banished forthwith. Violence will only be used on the evil. Thanks to the way the event always has been run, this rarely happens. (Thankfully, there are sources of Controlled Violence available for qualified, interested parties.)

We are quite a diverse lot, label-wise, but the only label we care about is Road Rash. Everyone is loved and respected for who they are. We all have different ways of contributing to our camp. We bring things to make our sleeping spaces comfy as well as make camp as weather-friendly as possible. Time has helped us increase the comfiness.

The best way to enjoy this event is to remember that your physical, mental, and emotional comfort is your responsibility. This is a grown-up event. Act like an adult, allow other people to act like decent adults, and you’ll have a great time!

Mostly Narrative Freewriting #EO-Eleven…

(Of COURSE as soon as I type a reference to Sammy Davis Jr do I get Michael Jackson’s “You Can’t Win” from The Wiz.)

I think I should dig up the original Ocean’s Eleven and watch it soon. I love that movie.

Work’s been quite busy, but mostly for good reasons. So HERE is the OT the recruiter mentioned in early 2020 when I interviewed for the internal transfer. 🙂 No more support-related tasks once I go off to the desert.

And I really need my Dirt Family. They put the thought of working on myself 5 months ago, so I’m eager to let people know that their love prompted me to realize, to quote an old movie “my mind was not right,” and even more significant, the courage to do something about it.

Weekly therapy has been the bonus of spring and summer. Just talking about a lot of the darker memories of my years with Kevin has helped. So has, now that I think about it, listening to the life stories of a few different women lately–Elvira and Carole King–have made me realize just how easy it is to defer to someone in a relationship even though it brings with it more harm than help. It’s not novel to be young and impressionable and dive into something that isn’t quite right. I think as the century progresses, we might change that fact. Oh there I go daydreaming again…

Polynesian dancing is fun and challenging. My jeans are fitting better, so I think I’m doing something right. Trying to eat better, but giving myself the freedom to indulge in my less healthy comfort foods if I want to reward myself for getting getting out of bed that day. It’s also getting easier to default to the healthier option, even though all the other stuff would be delicious. I can’t eat the way I did in my younger years, and that’s ok. It’ll help me have more of these older years, if I keep it up.

Jennette McCurdy is her generation’s Christina Crawford. She’s also a great writer and I’m kinda happy that I did not grow up watching her on TV.

Giving the Past a Slip

“How was your night, Daphne?”

“I got a little piece of my soul back.”

Just saw the Genesis tribute band perform “The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway,” pretty much the way Genesis did when I was a baby.

I had such a wonderful time, and it was very healing for me. I felt like I was also there for a few friends–JB, Golden Ears, Moo, and of course, Kevin. It was an experience I needed to give myself, and this is the perfect time in my life to have this experience.

And that’s really the only way to describe it. As Don Draper said of Hawai’i, “I had an experience.” No, I don’t have pictures, and yes, I actually stayed through the whole thing without taking a pee break. I couldn’t leave because I didn’t want to miss a second. I cried like 4 times. I saw an amazing performance from 5 talented, dedicated Canadians.

Admittedly, Trick of the Tail is my favorite album, but Lamb is second. I was definitely representing the younger end of Gen X. My elder Xers were out en force, and it was wonderful to share this experience with people who have bonded with this music the way I have.

I’m heading in the direction of another growth spurt–to finally process some of the darker bits of Amour Fou I’ve been avoiding dealing with. I’m ready for it. I really should have done this years ago, but at least I’m doing it now.

I need to finally process all of that. I need to feel those feels.

“It’s only at the turning point
That you find out how you fight”

–In The Rapids, Genesis

Remember me when you drink the wine
Of sweet success and I gave you my best
Remember me with every song you sing
Remember me as a good thing

I will, once I deal with the Fou.

Sweetie and Darling are my present and future. I know I’ll be a better partner by dealing with all of this now. It’s so much easier with them in my life.

Enough writing. Time to cuddle with those two. 🙂

Normie Mode: On

(By that I mean, I’m writing in a Starbucks. Though I’m not drinking coffee and I’m using my own internet. So why am I here? It’s right near a dispensary/dab bar, so I didn’t have to think about driving until after the dab wears off. DUI’s are something to avoid)

Had a nice little moment of self-realization in Group today. (I’m in one for a couple weeks to help get me back on track.)

The reason it is hard for me to ask for help is because I’ve always felt like the people who loved me had to love me despite my many shortcomings.

So now that I’m in this wonderful Triad, with two boyfriends who love me for exactly who I am, it’s time to upgrade certain mental firmware, so to speak.

It’s not necessarily anyone else’s fault that I grew up thinking I could never be accepted for who I am. Part of that was probably the normal plight of any “normal” queer kid growing up in a very heteronormative environment. Plus, the childfree and the non-conformity things on top of being the kid of parents with untreated PTSD. I really am unconventional.

I wasn’t easy to deal with in a few ways, for the reasons above. School was my “job” until adulthood, so I decided to make the best of it so I could have more opportunities once I (finally) grew up.

My environment tried to get me to follow the path of your average “female grandkid of highly religious immigrants”: Catholic School, College, Marriage, Motherhood, Career, Retirement, Grandmotherhood, Death. I still remember having to draw a life map for Confirmation class circa 1991. Mine was pretty much just what I described. I think my main thing was if I wanted to work before I started a family or not. At the time, I thought I knew who I was going to marry (after college, of course). The matter didn’t really need to be considered until the end of the 90’s anyway. Why obssess?

Then, in the fall of 1995, those plans were permanently cancelled when I ended the relationship I’d had for most of the decade thus far. I amended them greatly at the end of 1996, when I moved in with my Soulmate, Kevin.

To edit a line from a Beach Boys song,

“It’d be a peaceful life, as a forever wife, with no kids, no way.”

And to edit a line from one of my favorite Dean Martin hits:
“One house where lovers dwell/Three little kittens for the flavor”

(We ended up having twice more than that.)

And so it was, for the next 18 years, until I was the last person standing of the family I made with my Soulmate. Still feels so odd, being the only person who can still recall what those years were like. Nowhere near as traumatic as losing one’s family to war or natural disaster, but still not a walk in the park.

But I’m totally digressing. So I’ll stop and explain why I started on this little tangent–those relationships were not that great. Yes, they had highs and lows, but those equations never balanced. I had all these shortcomings, and it was made clear that I was loved in spite of them.

Which also makes me think that if those two relationships had been healthier, I’d have not gotten to my late 40’s before feeling that I can be loved for who I am.

But I know that I sought out those relationships because I didn’t know any better. The environment I grew up in wasn’t one with proper communication skills. If you don’t know how to properly express yourself, you don’t realize that what you say can be ripe for misinterpretations.

I know better now. Darling and Sweetie love me for who I am. There’s no burden, no compromise. . . just a desire to help me while I search for my better self. It’s hard to ask them for help, when my mind still remembers Kevin complaining that I was being “too clingy” and Melancholy saying he as tired of being my “safety net.” Vaffanculo to the both of them for that crap.

It’s interesting to have had this realization. It actually quenched the writer’s block I’ve had for a couple weeks.

It has been quite a wonderful thing, to be loved for who I am. These two have put in the effort to make sure I knew that I’m loveable as-is. Sure, growth is possible, and in some ways, necessary, but not mandatory to maintain their love for me. I love them for who they are, and will support both of them in their pursuit of their better selves.

I am getting better at accepting help when it’s offered, but I still have a lot of work to do when it comes to asking for help. I mean, I do ask for help in certain situations–like getting up if I’m sitting or crouching too low–but it’s hard for me to ask for a massage when I have a pain spike, for example.

I can stick up for others, but not for myself. Ok, so that’s a tiny bit true, when it used to be overwhelmingly true. I guess in the nearly 8 years I’ve been on my own, I’ve had to do a lot on my own, which has made me want to acknowledge my strengths and accomplishments more. I also know what I want and what I won’t tolerate.

Though I still have fallout from the whole “Catholic Guilt” thing. The bad stuff is always harder to believe, as Vivian said in Pretty Woman. (What a Fairytale!) I mean, if my soulmate said I was too clingy, he must have been right. Well, he wasn’t. Just because I need him to hold up his vows doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with me. And Melancholy had Mommy Issues, so what did he know?

It’s okay for me to be who I am, and to have needs, and to express those needs. I just can’t be a dick about it.

So. . . now that I know it’s ok to have needs, what do I need?

I guess it’s time to start thinking about that. . .

Mobile Blog whatever

On the way to work in a Lyft.

Miata will shift again and until then Sweetie and I share my electric one. Gotta get used to driving it.

Dear God means more to me now than as a kid. I guess because I know it’s true.

Sigh, Water Tiger again. Makes me miss him so much. Can’t imagine him living in today’s world. There’s stuff he might enjoy, but so much of it he’s better off dead. Sounds blunt, but I was the one who would have had to live with him through it.

Almost there. God I miss him.

Mobile Microblog #3

A mistake on my part turned into an opportunity to provide documentation showing my old boss is not ok. Of course, it happened because she triggered the fuck outta me by pretty much duplicating the kind of email tantrum Kevin used to have. (Y’all who exchanged emails with him know what I mean.) I was furious enough to pack up my laptop and work from home for two days to avoid yelling at her. Yeah, I made a mistake, but act like a grown-up in the workplace and accept my apology, don’t fucking point out the typo and continue to incorrectly assume I’d delete important data. Srsly.

Sweetie is due back in less than 48 hours. He’s been gone 3 weeks for a cool work project on the other side of the country. Darling and I have enjoyed the opportunity to spend all this time together–it’s rare for us, actually. (Well, we are in a triad!) We got through a lot of the first CSI series (just started season 7) and cleaned up a bit. I drove Sweetie’s car when it rained last week, and have been driving it off and on since. Such a different experience than driving my car.

Kevin will always be with me. Sometimes his absence hurts more than others. All I know is that I can’t go back a quarter century and not move in with him. And let’s face it, I wouldn’t if I could.

i think that Shakespeare describes Amor Fou in Othello–love not wisely but too well.

Mostly Narrative Freewriting #10: Return to an Old Favorite

I saw The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time in 20 years tonight. This was my 21st time watching it in a theater. The first time way back in November 1993 in Long Beach. I went on and off for the next few years. As a young college kid, was one of the few places I felt like I was free to express my repressed Catholic School graduate mind back then. It was a campy movie that was released the same year I was born. I was drawn to it, largely due to the fact that it was released on VHS my sophomore year of high school. (That seems like 2 lifetimes ago!)

Amusingly, the theater I went to tonight was a block or two down from the place where I went to the Hardcore parties earlier in the year. It’s a great place to get in some Pokemon Go while waiting for the movie to start. (Nothing special was caught, but I stocked up on presents, which is always good. I also won a couple of Grunt battles by remembering what kid of team to assemble according to their comment.)

It was a sold out show, and I was glad I’d bought my ticket last week on my last payday. It’s so odd to have a movie ticket on my phone, still. I don’t think I had a mobile phone with a color screen the last time I saw this movie in a theater, back in June 2001, when I was 26 and married to Kevin just over a year. There was a special showing in Hollywood for that year’s RHPS fan convention. After managing to fit into my 6th grade uniform skirt for the last time so I could dress up as a schoolgirl (’cause why not?!), I took the subway down to Sunset and caught a bus west for a couple miles. (I wasn’t keen on driving my RX7 down Barham into Hollywood in those days.) While waiting to get into the theater that night, a community sing of “Bohemian Rhapsody” broke out. The guest of honor was Patricia Quinn, which was a treat!

On that late summer night on the cab ride home, I had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to see this movie in a theater again for awhile. I was content, for the most part. It was a good night. I could file it away as something of my youth.

When I hit my 40’s, I started to think “Maybe one day.” And that day was tonight.

The traditional notion of a RHPS Shadow Cast is still alive and well. This cast was terrific. It was one of the best casts and shows I’ve ever seen. This is a true artistic endeavor that has been passed along amongst a certain crowd over the past few decades. It’s a shared experience that is still rewarding, therefore it is still sought out. It’s been re-imagined and re-done over the years, but the movie still seems to be the gold standard. It’s been a Cult Classic for quite a long time–way longer than I really want to admit!

As the movie went on, I realized a lot of the lines I used to shout shamelessly on all those Saturday nights may not be acceptable today. Most of the great lines are still in use, and I remembered as many as I’d forgotten.I stopped myself from saying a few things, just ’cause I knew I’d chosen to memorize those specific lines due to their “edginess.” I can keep those in my head and chuckle to myself.

The more things change, the more things stay the same, indeed. One thing I was quite surprised to see was the large portion of “Virgins” in the theater. I shouldn’t have been surprised–it is on Hulu, after all. I couldn’t help but wonder if any of these kids had been to the Hardcore Parties. As the attire for both events are quite different from each other, it would be hard to tell.

There were certain parts that used to drag for me that just flew by. I think because the cast was so engaging. It takes a lot to perform a musical in front of a movie screen on a tiny stage. It takes a labor of love in order to do this as well as it was done. Makes it awful tempting to go every couple months, especially considering the friend I went with is joining the cast.

I think some parts of our youth are worth revisiting, and I think it would be neat to get to seeing RHPS in a theater 30 times by the time I’m 50. 9 times in just under 4 years? I think that’s more than doable!

Unrelated:

I wrote a poem while I was waiting for my ride to the theater. I need to take a gander at it and decide if I want to post it.

Ramping down my meds has been fairly easy. I was probably taking too much for a couple months. I’m starting to feel alive again, for the first time in longer than I really want to admit. It’s taken awhile to get here, but it’s been a good ride, all things considered.

Mobile Microblog #2

Got bloodwork done after stalling for a few months. But if my doc wants to see me about getting Ibuprofen*, i might as well have bloodwork for her to look at. The butterfly thing gave me a bruise. (My body isn’t fond of giving up blood unless my uterus is involved, thanks to a bout of severe dehydration 1.5 years into my life.)

*Prescription strength ibuprofen is cheaper and more convenient than OTC stuff.

I got a flu shot too, as they had set up a station that was on my way back to the parking structure.

I started reading Brave New World for the first time since college. Interesting how the torture of infants still outrages me, and how creepy selective breeding still is to me. That poor little kid who doesn’t like to be touched was probably asexual. We’ll see what else I notice as I keep reading.

Mobile Microblog #1

(Maybe if I create a new series I’ll do this more?)

The Logical Song by Supertramp speaks to my soul. It captures that base childhood emotion of having your curiosity suddenly stifled when it was time to be properly educated?

Sweetie made dinner. We’re all good cooks, luckily.

Mostly Narrative Freewriting #9: Fall ’21

Survived Widowhood Season #6. The day itself was full of driving and Pokemon Go and doctor’s appointments. The MRI was more tolerable this time because I knew what it was going to be like. Plus Darling was with me the whole day. He’s an amazing boyfriend.

Spent what would have been Kevin’s 59th birthday venturing around LA with Darling, meeting up with Sweetie at a Goodwill near his work. We really need to move in that direction. I’ve got one of two places I can opt to work in the not too distant future. I’m not opposed to a train commute–I’d finally use the hotspot data I’m paying for. I need space from the land of my birth, even though it’s enjoyable having my family so close. The needs of those under my own roof come first.

Work’s continuing to be productive, and my efforts have been recognized in a tangible manner.

I do miss Kevin and Golden Ears. The more I grow the more I wish I could talk to both of them about it. In Kevin’s case, the growth is due to his absence.

Plus, life with Sweetie and Darling is not the drama-filled mess that Triads are supposed to be. It’s a good household, and all we have to do is be ourselves. That includes doing what it takes to co-exist in this day and age. Contrary to the “soul mates are the ideal relationship” and “jealousy means you love the person” and “exclusivity is the key to happiness” notions popular today, it’s easier to be in a relationship with two men than it was trying to maintain an Amour Fou relationship with one man!

Maybe I’m jaded, maybe I’m still bitter that I should have known better but deep down I know it wouldn’t have made any difference. I mean, if I really think about it, Grinner really tried to warn me on a few occasions, and Ka was the one who came up with the waveform analogy for my relationship with Kevin (he said sine wave, but sawtooth is more accurate. I just had too much invested to walk away. Never can say goodbye to Amour Fou,though, until it’s gone for good.

I’m very much enjoying playing Pokemon Go. It’s kind of weird jumping into that world as a newb who could recognize (but didn’t know the names of) the popular characters because of their presence in the popular culture of my teens and twenties. I just wasn’t the demographic. I’m still not that great at it, and owe my Level 37 status largely to all the tips I’ve gotten from Sweetie and Darling.

Sometimes I remember 1998 in bits and pieces. The tandem skydive, when I touched Kevin’s parachute with my toe as we both admired the great view. (I’m not sure if I’ve ever really tried to articulate that experience. It left me speechless, and the sensations and sights were overwhelmingly wonderful. Oh, and roller coasters were boring for a few years afterward.) My “office setup” in the corner of the bedroom with my shelves and my triangle desk. Working while I used my cool multi-CD player to shuffle through large bits of the Steely Dan catalog thus far, falling in love with it the more I heard. I think I really only knew the album Aja before that. Plus The Nightfly. Old school nerds with pre-OSX Macs and (only) four cats living the working at home hermit life.

Then I realize that was half my life ago. How much time has passed since then. Some things are the same–I’m not entertaining the idea of marriage, even though I’m in a long-term relationship. I’m working to establish myself in my new line of work (making roughly the same amount as of late, but with benefits and retirement!). I still get high and write on a computer while listening to the same music. I’d still love to make money writing the stories in my head, but I’ve finally settled on the stories after toying with the plots and characters for like a score of decades.

The cats, synths, and the soulmate are gone. Those were the gold, I guess.

When you lose someone significant, you start to think of time as “when they were alive” and “after they died.” It sucks.

Speaking of articulating life experiences from “when they were alive”–I don’t know if I can ever really describe some of those darker moments. Maybe in a film montage to Alice Cooper’s “Only Women Bleed” or The Who’s “Cousin Kevin”? Those are the songs that come to mind, even though the action won’t exactly mirror the lyrics. I guess articulating all that–even if I just write it out as a script–would require opening cans of worms that are sealed nicely, thank you very much. I’ve dealt with a lot of it, but there’s still all those snapshots in my mind’s eye that may never go away. I could probably do a great job describing one of them, but would that do more harm than good to my soul?

Wasteland Weekend was amazing, as usual. Even more so this year, as it was a smaller crowd and it had been 2 years. It was nice to leave normal life behind for a bit to go spend time with my dirt family. Can’t wait for Neotropolis to finally launch next year! I already have visions of a jazz lounge and I gotta figure out my Portal Object.