Archive | September, 2018

Glimpses of Friends & Food

24 Sep

After our trip to Baltimore, Katie CAME BACK TO PITTSBURGH WITH US!!!!!! On our first night back, we snuggled in my bed and got to know Victoria better 🙂



Friends are for snuggling, laughing until you cry, actually crying, practicing for the school of hard talks, and holding each other (literally and) to a standard of rigorous honesty.


We had such an amazing time talking and turning downtime into uptime (let’s not slander ‘mi), but I’d like to use this blog post to talk mostly about how FOOD connected us in such a solid way.

Let me formally introduce Victoria, my new favorite foodie.


Here she is with Katie who loves superlatives and is also my FAVORITE.


Victoria is not only an amazing human but she also knows everything you need to know about food (and more) like … how to make it look INCREDIBLE. And how to break a yolk properly..  She works for Table magazine and invited Katie to participate in the winter issue! Oats prepared three different ways, coming at you November 2018! Victoria described Katie as a “high-energy creative who planned an on-brand spread in just a few hours!” They wrote an article and had a photo shoot!  All of my food pictures from here on out should reflect everything we (collective knowledge) learned.


I mean… come on.  Food that looks as good as it tastes!

Our time turned into:



You get invited to participate in ONE food magazine, and suddenly everyone’s a photographer…



Please take note of the three matching white pumpkins, which Victoria got for Helen, Katie, and I because  — BEST FRIENDS, BESTFRIENDS, BEST FRIENDS!


Katie showing me how it’s done with an Onion Fritata! This PILLAR is moving food!


One of Victoria’s most impressive techniques was putting the food on the floor in order to get a stunning photo. OK, Victoria…


Respect the process.


But then, of course, even after any lingering (do you have to!) doubt, the picture ended up looking like this:

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SHE WAS SO RIGHT… #getaflaw


So now that Victoria has become a part of our lives, I’m more obsessed with food pictures than I’ve ever been.  Sorry not sorry, mum.

Victoria invited us to her gorgeous house for a dinner party (thank you!!!) where we had nacho night and enthralling conversations about tattoo deliberations and boyfriend MANifestiations (hehe, get it?).  Thank you to Katie for illustrating both.


Dinner party nacho night — we all took a photo from different angles but I won’t bore you by posting all four.  “Maybe we should put it on the floor?!” – Katie proving she’s the fastest learner of us all. Those skull plants got to come home with us!  


One day, Victoria gave us complimentary tickets to the Pittsburgh Pierogi Fest to eat our weight in píerogis.  Helen and I had made ourselves dairy-free the night before which helped limit our options. Dairy-free month day one. “Does Auntie Anne’s have butter in it?”  “Of course it does!” Helen snapped after first going to check and having her heart broken. #hurtpeoplehurtpeople We met up with Sarah, Randy, Andy, Patrick, Victoria, and a new friend, Madeline. We spent most of the day riding roller coasters (okay one, the Thunderbolt) since the pierogi lines were long and we opted not to get our faces painted like a pierogi.   I may or may not be (definitely am not) into roller coasters and was fretting before I got on the Thunderbolt. Sarah eased my nerves so patiently and Helen got out of having to actually ride the ride (lucky). Helen just got to do the fun part, which is obviously waiting in line #friendship  

Later, a group of us sat down and hung out, chatting, which was honestly the best part. We talked about how none of us had tattoos, which was crazy because we were travelers and since Katie had been planning on getting one that very morning.


Ready for pierogies! There’s a pocket inside Sarah’s jacket that I covet!  




Not too long after the pierogi fest (but like… on a completely different day), KATIE AND HELEN GOT TO PERFORM TOGETHER. I REPEAT: KATIE AND HELEN PERFORMED TOGETHER. I repeated that because it happened not once BUT TWICE!!! And both times were incredible. We gathered up a group and headed out to see this magic unfold:



Katie+ Guitar + Jokes = Perfection


Helen + Microphone + Jokes = Perfection



Wee Emily and Tall Laura (also Bel and Bam – but you avid readers of the blog probably already know that!)


Before Friday’s show Victoria (and Katie) did the absolute cutest thing and made these amazing wristbands for Katie and Helen in support of their performance, which we all wore proudly — like a sign but a bracelet. You get it. Man, do I love matching! Emily and Laura were still wearing them when they went to the Steelers game the next day… even though Katie and Helen weren’t playing. But support from the two of them is endless!


Repping their favorite comedians while footballing.


Speaking of repping, Katie and I decided to rep our ears and hark back to the most wonderful time of the yEAR (hehe), aka the furries.


Eyes eyes, ears ears, tails tails, LEGS LEGS.


And after the Brillobox show night, we gathered an all-star team who came back to the house, and EVERYONE was given a pair of ears.  Aawoooogah!! Victoria ordered us all an UNREAL spread of pizza, and I had the divine pleasure of reading the Letter from the Editor (written by our very own Victoria) in Table magazine’s fall issue OUT LOUD! 


Pack storytime, we’re all ears!


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Such a magnificent night where we had a lot to celebrate… so we celebrated like DOLPHINS! Goodness I love these girls.




Here are some more standouts from Katie’s hangout with us:


Are you sick of food yet? Me neither. Cafe du Jour with Emily, Laura, and Katie – all about that Roasted Pork Crostini (not pictured) and Watermelon Salad.

  • Katie and I had to take a quick walk– I’m talking an hour from the southside to the northside during rush hour.  We stopped to split two slices of pizza twice because the first place only had one…and then we absolutely loved how even that felt so we did it again.
  • We saw A Simple Favor with VIP seating. We admired Blake, the sunset, and ate at Primanti brothers (om nom nom nom).




“Pittsburgh…STOP.” – Madeline…My sentiments EXACTLY



Even her umbrella is fancy!

  • There were two laughter yoga sessions where we “won the lottery,” Katie almost peed her pants, and had some other realizations about bodily functions. “I feel downright mirthful!” 
  • Katie and I recorded a podcast in Helen’s room!



Welcome to our podcast, “Helen’s Room.” JK that’s not what it’s called… it’s called  Showing Up Messy! You should check it out!

  • I took Katie B. and all of her worldly possession on a scooter ride in the rain, but it was our favorite one yet because THE FUN IS IN THE RUSHING.



Pinksburgh is up and back in action!

  • We played a game of giant Uno with my best friends and I got them to dairy-free-fudge the rules. AND I got a lil somethin’ from mom & mom (wink)
  • We sat near each other talking, texting, and also Facebook-ing.  ALL THE FORMS OF COMMUNICATION in the same room!!! #downtimeintouptime
  • Bel, I love Down Time.



Are we in London or Pittsburgh?!


Alas, before we knew it, it was time for Katie Barbaro to go off on her year-long international adventure, Iceland bound. She wrote us a note on our white board in the dream flat, which, even though she set us up for success by writing a matching, handwritten note – because SHE SEES US (sobs) – it will probably still never get erased.  


Katie always leaves us notes on the whiteboard and we refused to erase them because KATIE WROTE THEM AND WE LOVE HER. This time, she did this. WE FELT SO SEEN.


One of the many pieces of wisdom Victoria gave us was that your best friends are glimpses of you. Not only did that make my heart explode into a million glittery pieces, it also makes perfect sense. To quote Victoria quoting Oprah quoting Maya Angelou: “You are a compilation of the five people with whom you spend the most time.” I have THE best glimpses, and I’m so lucky to call these girls my best friends… #stilltriggered.





‘mi, a proud best friend

Best friends (#triggered) in Baltimore

9 Sep

Helen and I decided to go to Baltimore for fun one weekend and to meet Katie Barbaro (two bars and an o) before she went off on her year of solo travel (WOOHOO!). At the time we were planning this trip we didn’t know she was going to COME BACK WITH US TO PITSBURGH #wildplan But that story is for the next post…for now, Baltimore.

…or should I call it Balti-POURING DOWN RAIN! The 4 hour drive took us 5 because of the weather.  It didn’t stop raining the entire weekend but LUCKILY we had designed this trip entirely around the National Aquarium — which is a Baltindoors activity, and most certainly not the last Baltimore pun that this triad of woman has come up with #foreshadowing

We checked into the Envy Hotel, whose name is definitely overcompensating for something.  Maybe they were trying to use reverse psychology? — It was really anything but envious. Actually, I take that back. The room was extra shareable, which…you know, is something I love and something to be jealous about. For example, there was a bug in one of the beds (the other bugs, not that we saw any, were probably envious that this one bug got a whole bed to itself), so Helen and Katie shared a bed while I took the bug bed for myself that first night.  We switched it up for night two because fair is fair. The bathroom handle was also broken, so you could see into the bathroom, which meant that we shared a lot of private moments together…and learned where other bathrooms in the hotel were located. Another few unique traits (questionably enviable) were that breakfast was served in the dank basement with instant coffee and that when you were in the lobby, you had to push the down button so that the elevator could come “down” to you. I mean, I guess that’s enviable for an up elevator– it’s way more work to go up than down, right?  “They do things differently in Baltimore,” said Katie, as we headed past homeless people back into the pouring down rain in search of dinner.


A few enJOYneer best friends enJOYneering their best friend fun!


We ultimately picked an Afghani restaurant called the Helmand. It was DELICIOUS. It only took getting out of the hotel, out of the rain, and five bites into the meal to completely change my mind about Baltimore, this place was great!


Equal parts of everything.  The pumpkin (bottom of the plate) was exceptional!


During dinner Katie and I learned that we didn’t like raisins, but by process of elimination. We ordered this delicious rice dish (to share, of course), and finished it all only to discover the one thing left in the bowl was the pile of raisins we had subconsciously ignored. Talk about passive aggraisins.


The “after” picture looks just like this, except everything else besides the raisins are gone.


We had a great time at the restaurant; our table was a share-table… like a potluck, but with feelings! While sharing at the share-table we discussed how amazing it was that we got to share it with THREE BEST FRIENDS. We’re each the best friend of our best friends, and it was just a whole best friend fest. We soon realized that “best friend” is our trigger word and sends our heart rates through the roof.  BEST FRIENDS, BEST FRIENDS, BEST FRIENDS!
For some added entertainment, we noticed a mouse scurry around the restaurant, but we weren’t bothered — it made me feel like I was a patron in Ratatouille. Spirits were high, the three of us had nothing to complain about.


A best friend and her best friend!



A best friend’s best friend; not pictured: their best friend.



Before the mouse sighting.



The mouse sighting caught in action.



Squeak squeak! We disQUEAKly told the manager so the restaurant would not get shut-down by Food and Safety.  We didn’t want to be out in that rain either, mouse!


Giddy and HAPPY AS EVER the three BEST FRIENDS!!! (an exclamation point for each of us) headed back to the Envy Hotel to rest up for the next day.



Snug as the bug in the other bed.


The next morning, we headed to the aquarium at 9 AM, right as it opened, and put school kids on field trips to shame by staying there for a whopping SEVEN hours.


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Good morning, Baltipouuuur!


We literally savoured each step we took, obviously, as we took seven hours to see the whole aquarium. In the beginning, Katie said something that really set the stage for the rest of our aquarium experience, and that was this:

“Wow. Life really imitates art! And by art I mean nature, which is really just life.”

I mean…truer words have never been spoken. And so we decided to actually watch art imitate life imitate nature by heading to two of the aquarium’s movies in 4D.



“4D?!  Balti-MORE dimensions?!”  – HW


We decided to see Shark and Being Dolphin (the titles did not leave us much room for guessing what these movies were about…but that was fine! We couldn’t wait!)

We learned a few things from these movies:

  1. Kids do not like 4D depictions of marine life, which is actually hilarious.
  2. These movies needed a content warning because they were definitely not relaxing.
  3. Shark skin is as sharp as teeth. They cut with their skin just to see if people bleed (no, these aren’t Simple Plan lyrics; it’s real science). But sometimes people will think they’ve been bitten by a shark, when in reality, the shark just brushed up against them.
  4. 4D includes being sprayed by water and getting punched in the back. When that part of the movie took place, Helen leaned over and asked us if we just got shanked. This was Baltimore, after all. And yes, we all had. The kids in the audience screamed. Everyone watching the movie got punched in the back, that was supposed to be a positive feature, I guess.  We renamed the film the Shark-shank Redemption.

After the movie, we explored balti-more of the aquarium. Here are some standouts:



Feeding time!!



Seahorsing around.



Peacock Mantis Shrimp. Andrew’s new fursona.



“That fish looks like it’s going as that rock for Halloween” — Helen






Showing off turtle shells.


Not in their natural habitat but still SO DARN PERFECT!  Those bubbles!


Our favorite exhibit was the jellyfish one. We loved the way they moved so fluidly and just bounced around and hit the walls. We realized we had just never seen jellyfish before — “like, ever.”


Could there be any balti-more jellyfish in this aquarium?



Interpreting a jellyfish — Whiskers and Labia.



Matching phone screens 😉


Exploring an aquarium for seven hours is hard work, so for snack time (thanks, Katie!), we had a blue Clif Bar– yes, that’s the flavor– blue. And we split 2 clementines into 3. We just loved how fair that felt.

Besides the jellyfish, we were also drawn to the dolphins because, I mean…dolphins. After seeing the Being Dolphin 4D movie, we were thrilled to find out the aquarium has an open dolphin exhibit where trainers feed and play with dolphins all day. You’re welcome to stay in there as long as you want but every few hours, the trainers give a Dolphin Talk. We visited them multiple times and went to every dolphin talk they had. One of the coolest things we learned (and that is a LONG list of #dolphinfacts), is the dolphins will willingly give their tails so the doctors can draw blood. They are trained to do so and practice that pose every day so that when the doctors come for testing, the dolphins are not stressed out.

Dolphins are so smart, curious, and playful. Three of my favorite qualities. The trainers have a symbol that means the dolphin can swim out and do whatever trick it wants. When it comes back, the dolphin gets rewarded with big celebrations and cheering. The trainer then did the same symbol and the dolphin knew it meant to go out and do a different trick. The same symbol has multiple meanings — these animals are so advanced! They also had a symbol to say “swim around the perimeter of the tank and show me any 5 tricks you want, as long as you don’t repeat any!” DOLPHINS ARE SO SMART. They have to be constantly teaching the dolphins new tricks because they crave innovation and creativity. I’m not sure how we figured that out about dolphins but I’m glad we did! HUMANS ARE SMART, TOO! 

DOLPHINS ALSO LOVE TO CELEBRATE!!! How cute is that?! Anytime they did a trick correctly, they would celebrate with their trainers! It was so full of joy and positive reinforcement. The trainers celebrate when they do something correctly and just ignore if they do something incorrectly so as to not reinforce the behavior. They said that works for children, too. #lifehack 

The trainers told us that sometimes the dolphins play baseball with flavorless jello, to which Katie, without missing a beat, turned to us and asked:

“What’s a dolphin’s favorite flavor of jello? Trick question!! Flavorless!”

When we left the aquarium seven hours later (seriously – go to the Baltimore Aquarium and see the dolphin talks), the three of us wanted to get something matching so we scoured the gift shop for anything that called our names — it had to call all three names or else it was a bust. We ended up just using that magnificent picture of jellyfish (shown above #captionfacts) as matching phone screens, which is perfect, but we also got this great picture, which we wanted but didn’t want to pay $50 for.



A few puffins with special powers. WE, THOUGH. ❤ ❤ ❤


And since 1 Clif Bar +  ⅓ of 2 clementines does NOT = a sufficient meal, we decided to head out for some food and have some more best friend time where we just constantly made each other laugh because we though.


“Helen: Sayer of words, mumbler of gems.” – Katie



Katie asking Helen on a best friend date. SHE SAID YES!


After we made the best use of Baltimore by going to see the aquarium and having dinner, we decided to balance it out by making the worst use of Baltimore and going to see an improv show, which apparently, in Baltimore stands for “Needs improvement.”


Couple celebrating their one year anniversary on stage. Happy one year, baby. #Badprov


Katie and Helen went up on stage as audience participants — they were my favorite part of the show.


“I need this 4th wall to get wayyyy thicker”– Katie



Moral support!


After sitting through some…some really ENVIABLE — there we go–  improv, we decided to just leave early. After all, it wasn’t our town. We didn’t know these people (thank goodness).  We could just leave right? Right. We left. After we left, we debriefed and wondered if we were clapping with them or at them. Like, how would we like it if someone came to our jobs and just started clapping at us? Our debrief was funnier than the actual improv #sorrynotsorry.

The next day, we got a delicious breakfast sans basement and decided to skip the trampolines and head home early, which is great because I love to stop.



Aquarium and food; the absolute best uses of Baltimore.



Sooooo good — also, no mouse sighting!


After breakfast, we got in the car and drove back to Pittsburgh. The 4-hour road trip took us 6 which I considered to be not bad at all. We also managed to go back in time when we stopped at a Burger King on the way home, and if you don’t believe me here’s proof (cameras still worked back then).



We let Katie drive.


We also stopped at an international market, and Katie and I realized it was the first time we had gone international together. Our destination? Goat cheese and caramel lollipops from Mexico.

There were also several realizations made on the way back home, which was a great way to turn our downtime in to up-time #always The first epiphany came when I realized, in real-time, that I was a quarter hoarder when we had to pay a toll. The first step is admitting you have a problem, and I did just that while making eye contact with Helen. I am a quarter hoarder.

The second realization came after we had made our last stop; Helen was driving (thanks for driving!), and she didn’t want to make any more stops (woe is me) so that we could get home on time to see Bonus Stage at Arcade Comedy Theater (good improv!). Helen noticed in the rearview mirror that Katie was getting her water from some grapes — something that dolphins do from ice-cubes or fish, by the way, because all mammals need fresh water! When she realized Katie was so thirsty that she had resorted to getting her water content from a grape, Helen agreed to stop because “I didn’t realize what a monster I was being!”

This Baltimore trip was definitely anything but a Balti-snore, we got to see everything that this city had to offer (and by “everything” I mean the massive aquarium.).  And it really made me appreciate a couple of things. First: my gorgeous, beautiful, funny best friends who are the best best friends in the world. Second: Pittsburgh improv. Third: Dolphins. 




Burn, Baby, Burn(ing Man)

3 Sep

Burning Man is a world of its own.  If you haven’t heard of this crazy, week-long event (held in the desert at the end of August), here is a definition to explain the wild pictures and crazy outfits that are in this post.

What Is Burning Man?


Burning Man takes the harsh (and ridiculously dusty) desert environment and pairs it with 70,000 people who are willing, excited, and inspired to temporarily live in said environment for a few weeks.  They build radically interactive, COOL, BEAUTIFUL, GORGEOUS art (disclaimer: my pictures will not do it justice) and survive by building their own shelters, supplying their own food, water, clothing, transportation, entertainment, ect.  Cell-phone usage is rare to non-existant and HIHGLY discouraged.  And a cornerstone of Burning Man is that it’s a “leave no trace” event, meaning that just as we build this crazy community, we also have to take it down as if we were never there — an element that adds to the dreamlike nature of it all…Was it even real?  Luckily I have the pictures (and dust on all of my belongings) to prove it.


There are 10 principles to which Burners subscribe:

  1. Radical inclusion – Anyone may be part of Burning Man.
  2. Gifting – There is no bartering or money exchanged.
  3. Decommodification – No sponsorships or advertising.  Tickets (I’m talking tens of thousands) sell out in minutes, as soon as they go on sale.  Burning Man is not a music festival. (Although this year, Skrilliex and Carl Cox — two DJs for those of you who, like me, aren’t in the know — played, much to the delight of Mikhail and thousands of other people.  But these shows were not announced in advance.)
  4. Radical self-reliance
  5. Radical self-expression — So many fun, interesting styles!
  6. Communal effort
  7. Civic responsibility – Outside laws still apply.
  8. Leave No Trace — The desert will be left better than it was found.  This means, among other things, no glitter, feathers, or other foreign objects.  A pack it in, pack it out mentality.
  9. Participation – !!!!!!! !!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!! ! ! !
  10. Immediacy – One of my favorites.  Follow whatever is in front of you.


So hopefully this explains some of Burning Man… but really, it probably won’t because Burning Man is one of those things encapsulated by saying: You just had to be there. Anyway, this was my second time attending. The first was 6 years ago (2012), but this time was going to be different (aka I would be more prepared and it would definitely be more fun).  Brittny and Ricky were the reason I decided to go, they spent years convincing me on how much they would help ease me into the scene AND THEN THEY DID 🙂 The two of them brought supplies. Michelle and Scott helped, too!  They encouraged me every dusty step of the way.  And Natalie graciously brought an air mattress that she shared (thank you!).  It was because of these people that I was nurtured into this intimidating event; they were my gateways into Camp Gallivant and my saviers along with Jake (aka Cuddle Puddles), who literally saved my life.  If it weren’t for him I probably would’ve just turned into dust and became one with the desert (leave no trace, amiright?) in an entirely un-fun way.  But he provided EVERYTHING — a yurt, safe place to sleep, a respite from the wild sun, and most rejuvenating of all, friendship.



Mikhail and Brittny


It made the most sense for me to fly from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Reno, Nevada and then to take the Burner Bus to Black Rock City, Nevada (a city that only exists during Burning Man, aka a city that doesn’t exist for 50 weeks out of the year).

The Burner Bus was great.  I was so excited that we were about to experience playa magic. But in fact, the magic started on the bus before we even got there with everyone on board acting generous and friendly.



The “I haven’t left the airport” look.



Enjoy the running water while you can, Sammi.

My “Time” at Burning Man

Almost as soon as I stepped off of the bust into this arid artist’s desert city, I felt like like there was no time — only more continued moments of now. #deep #butforrealthough #whatistime.  Most things are unplanned (see Principle No. 10: “Immediacy”, follow what’s in front of you), but there was a hand-held schedule of events that was mailed to me (along with my ticket) and thus, I diligently went about reading the entire thing and making a list of everything that I wanted to do and see (even though of course I saw many more things than listed and I missed most what I had planned).  Here are some excerpts:

  • Rise and Shine Yoga
  • Delicious hot donut holes
  • Healing foot wash
  • It’s watermelon time
  • Knot tying workshop
  • Legit Hobby Horse Course
  • Joy climbing wall
  • Tutu Tuesday
  • Costco Soulmate Trading Outlet
  • And literally hundreds of other things happening ALL THE TIME

Once on the playa, and after seeing how my INCREDIBLE group set up their theme camp (REPPIN’ CAMP GALLIVANT), I got a sense for how much work, effort, forethought, and perseverance (especially in the desert climate) it takes to set-up. And once I saw that, it served to make me appreciate Camp Gallivant EVEN MORE!

What follows are excerpts from my Burning Man Odyssey — events, art exhibits, art cars, dust. things, and people who would beautifully and chaotically distract me on the way to nowhere in particular.


  • When the Burner Bus arrived on the playa we were welcomed on The Red Carpet, which was a carpet that was only red in name, and not in color.



You can be whatever you wanna be, carpet, you’re at Burning Man!


  • Being part of Camp Gallivant I had a role: Procure ice for the day.  FULFILLING IT WAS AN HONOR!! 

Welcome to the desert.


  • Natalie gave me a handmade rainbow scarf and a new notebook (thank you!!).  Sidenote: That notebook is totally filled with scraps of notes I wrote to Patrick telling him how much I wished he were there.  Soon come?


  • Mikail gifted me with random facts (for example, did you know if you want to say grandfather in Russian you just replace the Bs with Ds– babushka → dedushka). 
  • Michelle’s father, Firefly, also gifted Camp Gallivant and offered us flights over the playa (he’s a pilot). We got incredible bird’s-eye views of Black Rock City and I got to ride to Reno and back… The views were breathtaking and the company fantastic ❤  



Early morning beauty.



I’d add co-pilot to my resume… but I’d be lying.



The whole planet was here for Burning Man and put on quite the impressive art display.



The dunes being dune-lightful.



Burning Man, Burning Lake.



Pasting this picture next to the ‘co-pilot’ title on my resume.



Black Rock City from the sky.



Take me down to paradise city, please.


Here are some other standouts from my journey (once I got back on land, that is):

  • Everyone was so willing and ready to engage, so welcoming; making genuine eye contact was commonplace and wonderful.  (So many people at Burning Man have these gorgeous, light-colored eyes).  Alternatively, I felt understood, like I could leave a crowd at any moment with no hard feelings. 


  • Night dreams at Camp Gallivant, snuggling and staying warm; laying underneath that COOL SPIDER with a fire underneath its belly.  THANK YOU, TERRY.


  • Mikhail and I found our Burning Man theme song — “Up all Night to get Lucky.”  It’s not necessarily that we wanted it, but we heard it sung every way possible, ways we didn’t even know were possible (like acapella, country, and rock), repeated over and over again, all in a row.  So maybe I should say our Burning Man theme song found us.


  • I felt so much generosity and love from others and of course I wanted to dish out as much as possible too, so I accompanied Brittny to a Burners without Borders talk instead of going to a BBQ Tri Tip event that I had been desperate to attend.  IF THAT’S NOT LOVE, I DON’T KNOW WHAT IS.



The inspiration for my LOVE.


  • Taking literal notes while talking to my guru, Michelle.


  • The time I ate a fancy, 3-course French meal in the desert.


  • I appreciated the continuous ‘thanking’ of various positions — like the Trash Removers — involved in the Burning Man community .


  • Meeting Glory, glory hallelujah when I was struggling to drink water and ride my bicycle at the same time because that’s hard.  My cup runneth over, and my heart was OVERFLOWING.


  • Meeting Allison Grey and getting to share with her.  I was also invited onto their art car, which in and of itself was pretty incredible, but I had to respectfully decline because I had plans with my Camp.  CAMP GALLIVANT ❤

  • The nights when we planned to reconvene at Camp “whenever we got cold” rather than at any specific time because, again, what is time?


  • During my adventuring, I realized that I’m more of a day-burner than a night-burner.  For me, Burning Man becomes overstimulating at night and after I realized that I mostly stuck to daytime activities.



Night time still has cool elements but day time is my preference.



Cuddle Puddles and Natalie


  • Nurse Kickstand (named that in conjunction with both her profession and with her innate ability to hold Scott upright) reiterated my belief that I’m normal.  For example, I was talking to her about how hard it was for me to swallow my vitamins, and she gave a great reaffirmation: “It’s hard for most people.”  See, totally normal.  It was also amazing to be around her infectious, pure, and wonderful laugh.


  • As I wandered the desert, Michelle told me what plug and play camps were — people could pay a group to set everything up for them; basically like a Burning Man hotel.  My goal was to sneak into one of them…and I ended up doing it!  — They had an incredible breakfast that included freshly baked chocolate chip scones. Desert??  More like dessert.



Sneaking into a camp with my new, international friends.



At Burning Man, rainbows bring in the morning.



And the playa is a rainbow at night.


  • I went to an event where I got a bowl of cereal but only AFTER I had offered up a “cereal confession” of sorts.  I’ll never tell what I shared.


  • I found tacos at Burning Man, which was pretty cool.  I also met Sir Who What and Tid Bit while I was in line.  They were great.  I followed them around for hours, going on my first full day’s adventure while rocking super cool red boots, a gift from Natalie. 

Sir Who What’s feet and my newly acquired red boots went for a climb.


  • The dust acts as both an equalizer and a cleanser, making everyone look white-washed and like they’re wearing an Instagram filter which is (happily) exacerbated by the very small amount of clothes attendees wear during the day.

Thanks to Brit, I got to participate in tu-tu Tuesday.


  • Remember how I’d had that list of everything I wanted to do? (Ha!


  • I did end up taking one “regular” yoga class.  But, in true Burning Man fashion there was a twist…my yoga teacher was dressed up in a shark head.  She was a great teacher and kept telling us how impressed she was with all of us!  The yoga class, as a whole, made her so proud that she started crying literal tears of joy (but she didn’t take the shark head off, which only served to add to my joy.). 
  • Speaking of joy….I GOT TO PARTICIPATE IN LAUGHTER YOGA!!!!!!!! 
  • LAUGHTER YOGA WAS THE BEST THING I DID ON THE PLAYA!  I did it four times, four days in a row.  My biggest regret is not going to class the very first day it was offered (but I was happily distracted thanks to Sir Who What and Tid Bit).  Laughter Yoga, like most things, is better when everyone (including me!) participates. 
  • I was five minutes late to my first Laughter Yoga session on the playa (#mistake) BUT THEN NEVER, EVER AGAIN.  I PLANNED MY ENTIRE DAY AROUND LAUGHTER YOGA, hanging out at my favorite nearby bar (DPW) until it was OFFICIALLY TIME TO LAUGH!  The leader of the Laughter Yoga sessions was awesome!  He was humble and modest, and if he had comment cards I would tell him not to change a thing except to MAKE IT LONGER!  


  • Throughout the day if anyone asked what my favorite thing was at Burning Man I’d say (or did I yell?) “IT’S ABOUT TO HAPPEN!!”. 


  • Laughter Yoga was my favorite place to make friends on the playa because you could tell how easily a person laughed BEFORE you befriended them! #lifehack   Michelle joked that if anyone came to the camp looking for me she would ask them to “show me your laugh!”  Which is amazing and how I’d like everyone to greet me from now on.  “Show me your laugh!”

Nicolina and the birthday boy (was his name Strawberry?).  Nicolina was my favorite laugher.


  • The friends pictured above are who I hung-out with on my last night.  We named ourselves Team Eventually Adventure.  Or, Rock, Paper Scissors.  We often called a roll-call so we (I) would’t get lost.  Yours truly was almost always scissors. 
  • Team Rock, Paper, Scissors (ROCK!, PAPER!, SCISSSORRRS!) needed a respite from the over-stimulating lights and night sounds so we went looking for a camp that was dark and quiet.  We stumbled upon one with a gentle light up teddy bear sign out front and several empty benches that looked like they were glowing.  This camp also had a cave-like area that seemed to be fairly protected from the elements, great!  Just what we were looking for.  Giggling non-stop from our adventures, we stepped inside.  As our eyes adjusted, we could see that there was a mass-pile of soft, giant teddy bears skewed about all over the floor.  Nice. Hopefully we could use these as pillows.  But before we jumped onto the pile, we let our eyes adjust more and we slowly realized that THIS WAS ACTUALLY A PILE OF PEOPLE SLEEPING IN SOFT BEAR COSTUMES. I mean… WHAT?! Taking the furries to the next level.  We started whispering the news to each other and got really quiet, backing away cautiously, just as you’re supposed to do when you encounter a cave full of bears.



Safely out of the woods, with my human friends.


  • By the end of my time at Burning Man, I was having so much fun that I almost missed the Burner Bus back to the airport.  I miscalculated how far away our camp was from the terminal and Ricky sweetly offered to bike me (and all of my stuff) to the station.  We made it on time but not before the two of us toppled over while scrambling to catch the bus. Everyone was fine and it definitly made the journey more memorable. As Molly would say, “The fun is in the rushing!”.  Thanks to Ricky for helping me not to get abandoned in the desert! 

“Thank God!” is right!  It’s a jungle in the desert.


  • When I got back to the airport aka ‘the default world’, I could tell who had just been in the desert (and not only because they had just gotten off of the Burner Bus with me but also) by their dirty legs, interesting outfits, and most notably, their shoes. 
  • I started the deep de-dusting of all of my possessions outside at the airport, since I had 12 hours before my plane departed.  A couple of white clothing items had to be thrown away (see those white overalls in an above photo), but others I methodically wiped down and beat out the dust.  I had just started this MASSIVE undertaking when one guy saw me and said, “Give it up!” Ha!  Two hours later, I was really grateful I had taken the the time to do it. I love taking care of my belongings! Note to self, it was an important part of my 2018 post-Burning-process to de-dust all of my belongings at the airport. 
  • My final thoughts before I slept on the floor of the airport were ones of gratitude: ‘Are airport stalls and toilets always this clean?’.  And ‘Wow, how good does it feel to wash your hands with warm, running water?!’  (‘ooo, girl, wash those hands!’)


Least favorites.

  • Playa names (these are names people use solely for Burning Man). For some, I think they like the anonymity of theses names.  For me, I felt like it didn’t create long lasting connections and only served to further the ephemeral encounters. 


  • Before I found Laughter Yoga I struggled to find enough laughter on the playa. There was joy and generosity (SO MUCH GENEROSITY IT WAS MIND BLOWING! Especially from Camp Gallivant and specifically JAKE!  I CAN NEVER MENTION ENOUGH HOW GRATEFUL I AM FOR JAKE! ❤ ).  That being said, unfortunately, outside of my camp, I couldn’t find people who shared my same sense of humor. It’s probably there.  In fact, I’m sure it’s there.  But I didn’t find it (until Laughter Yoga came along).


  • How sticky some of the men could be. (#notallmen but let’s not derail the issue.)  The Burning Man environment encourages openness — it’s an absolute pleasure for me to be easygoing, happy, and engaging.  That’s my default, for those of you who know me, AND I LOVE IT.  But I found, even at Burning Man (where I thought I could be myself), I had to be careful (read: more closed) about sending the wrong message with my very pure (I stand by that) interactions.  Lame! I think a lot of it has to do with how I look, as I discussed at length with my seatmate on the Burner Bus who followed up with me after.  My bubbly, respectful personality was misinterpreted.  Friendship intimacy was mistaken for romantic intimacy by a married guy in a monogamous relationship (smacks face).  Come ON.  In the end, we had a healthy adult conversation (which, as a compliment to him, was not the case with lots of these stories) where he listened, apologized, and encouraged me “not to change just because he misinterpreted” which was sweet and heartening.  J****, if you’re reading this, we did have a happy ending but I’m writing about this inappropriate interaction because it was personality-suppressing, exhausting, unnecessary, and far too common.


  • It’s always easier for me to send boys away when it’s for my team, I get super protective.

On the Burner Bus.


  • The lack of women friendships that I developed.  I realized towards the end of my Burn this was the case and, once I realized it, focused on making it a goal (helloooo Laughter Yoga). Outside of Camp Gallavant, men were easier to meet and more readily available, but I’d like to find some of those desert gal pals!  #Lessonsforthefuture 
  • The effects of the elements on my skin, eyes, nails, and legs.  It was sooo tough out there; It’s difficult to imagine living in the desert for any longer than the five days that I spent there.  My whole body needed to be soothed (but my mind was happy!). 
  • The intensity of the night-time lights and music.  As I said before, it was overkill for me.  When I did stay up all night I couldn’t wait for the daylight to come and make the stimulation stop.  It was a total overload. 

Not a good example of the overload,…look how cool this moving art piece is!


List of Things I’d Want if I Came Again:
…Does That Mean That I Would?!

  • More bike lights (can’t have too many)
  • Carabiners
  • Cute boots (thank you, Natalie, for those red ones!)
  • A strong, fancy coat for at night with fur and lights — think outrageous
  • A cup with a handle and ID attached
  • A traveler’s outfit — I saw a girl that looked like she was going on a safari.  Dark green jumpsuit. Bandana accent cloth around head… Need I say more?
  • Multiple pairs of goggles. One for the day and one for the night. Possibly ones that will fit over my glasses?
  • Gifts to remember the interaction. I’m thinkin’ stickers with contact info…
  • And Bam, remember, for better or for worse, the playa destroys.



The more lights the better!



The End of an Odyssey

Burning Man is a difficult environment to be in, you really end up understanding just how much effort it takes to survive in these elements.  That might sound dramatic, but it’s true. Burning Man is hard. But, with that being said, Burning Man is also a bunch of sexy humans who embrace the outdoors and harsh environment #rugged and allow it to inspire them artistically and spiritually.  Everything about Burning Man — the people, the art, the cars, the values, the interactions, the sand — is beautiful. In 2018, Black Rock City captivated me.

Overall, I enjoyed the earlier days of this Burn the most because of all of the people who had put in hard work.  And all week I took advantage of “Radical Inclusion”; Everyone is constantly sharing and offering up invitations (that I gladly accepted!).

As I was at the Reno airport, leaving Nevada, I saw a girl turn on her phone after a week of having it off in the desert.  “What happened in New York?” her friend asked, to which the girl responded, “I promise you, nothing more interesting than what happened at Burning Man.”  I couldn’t help but agree; It was a fascinating week.



And just like that…



We were gone.