It could be my unicorn crazy flu fever talking here, but I have something to say. Or thoughts. Or crazy hallucinations. Whatever you might want to call them.
I filed my taxes yesterday. I'm actually getting a refund this year. I never get a refund and usually owe about $3.00 because that's just how it has always worked out, but hey, this year I am getting one.
But here's the thing:
Why, when there are so many programs in this country that absolutely rely on our TAX DOLLARS to function properly, should I actually get a refund? I drive on the roads. I take public transportation. I use the public library. I walk on our sidewalks and take the dogs to the parks. I would like CONGRESS to actually show up and do the job we've elected them to do, but that requires us to do more than just vote in Presidential elections, that requires real participation and more reforms, so let's just say I understand they have jobs to do and I want them to do their jobs! I actually would appreciate LilSalty getting a GOOD EDUCATION (as well as other children in this country). I want to have public lands to enjoy. I want good and available HEALTHCARE for everyone.
Now, I am not saying we should give handouts to people. I actually believe that we should ALL PARTICIPATE. In other words, if you need a sandwich, come and help me make the sandwich. Don't tell me that you can't help me make a sandwich? Because, I believe that you can help me make the sandwich if you're hungry enough to eat the sandwich. If you need to see a doctor, help me clean the clinic where you're going to see the doctor. Oh, yes, I understand that right now you're very ill, that you need affordable care and medicine and I'm happy to help you get exactly what you need, but I also believe, yes I do, that you have something to contribute to the overall success of your own COMMUNITY. That you can PARTICIPATE in your own care. That you can show up.
Back to my refund. If I were asked, which I was not, I would give it back and remind the government that they're running at a DEFICIT and shouldn't be refunding TAX DOLLARS, but to STOP FUNDING the WAR MACHINE and perhaps spend it on REAL HUMAN BEINGS and their real HUMAN NEEDS. Of course, that is me hallucinating.
There are a whole lot of people in this country just like me. I feel it, I know it. We're trying really hard to participate and to show up and to effect change and to save a planet that needs us to hug it fiercely. It's not going to happen if we don't put our own sparkly boots on the ground, actually show up, as I said, truly participate in our own CARE and FEEDING and start to really talk to one another, hug one another and, well, give each other more than just rhetoric about spare change.
Brothers and sisters, I love you and I want to give you my refund, my heart, and to participate with you. I'll make the sandwiches. I just need you to help me to do it. xo
Do you love to help people? Are you the caregiver in your tribes? Are your bags/backpacks/cars/personal possessions often full of tools, food, herbal remedies & other various handy articles "just in case" someone needs something? Do you often pull over to help people who seem broken down? Is it hard for you to walk by a stranger that looks distraught? Do you live to be of service to other people? If so then you might be a LOVEBEET!
The LoveBeets are a worldwide group of self proclaimed Fluffers whose greatest pleasure is to spread love & to really help others wherever they happen to go. Burning Man 2016 is on the horizon, and the LoveBeets really hope to expand our fluffing camp in order to be able to service more builders and their camps on playa. We are a very special mobile fluffing camp that arrives fresh and ready to relieve workers in various camps all over the playa by providing their builders with delicious food, water, caffeine, electrolytes, massages, sunblock, building assistance, unloading assistance, hugs, smiles, shade & any other relief we can during the build week (& sometimes Burn week as well). We do our very best to show up & lighten everyone's loads & spirits! Last year we were completely booked & this year we are hoping to expand in order to bring even more smiles to more camps. We are a very fun, loving, hardworking & caring crew that takes care of each other. Our love literally beets across the playa!
-Hardworking, timely, responsible, fun loving, organized
Camp Dues are approx $250/pp & as we mentioned this includes most of your water & food for build week (it ALL goes to water, food & fluffing supplies) Also there may be a discount for those who can stay for tear down (September 5-7) when we ALSO like to show up to help others in our magical, beautiful, LOVEBEET ways.
Also if you have a camp/installation that would like to be fluffed by the LoveBeets, please PM me with what day your crew will be arriving on playa, your addy (I understand you may not know this yet, but when you do) & any special needs of your crew (aka, "Wed will be an extra hard day because we will be erecting the tower" or "help unloading the truck on Tues would be great" or "we are all Vegans!") & I will get you on our schedule!! (The earlier the better with this as our LOVE SCHEDULE fills up fast!). ♥
America is only as good as all of those who actually choose to participate. In every way. The small ways are just as important and valuable as the big ways. In fact, more important on most days. If you're reading here, you already know that I'm big on love. That I like to give it freely. That I truly believe there's always enough. Enough power, enough talent, enough opportunity...for all of us. For everyone. IF we practice community. If we stop hording. If we share generously there will always be enough for a feast.
That's a big IF. I know. I get it. I practice it every single day.
I've sung songs about being both a patriot and fearing my government, about revolution, about answers blowing in the wind.
I believe in the hearts of people, I believe in you. I believe that deep down we will find the love that connects all of us. I believe we'll sort this out and find our way home.
I am not the mother or the father of that small child who lives with me. As my sister, NeverNakedBeth kindly pointed out to me in the very earliest months when I first met him, "Jennifer, he is not yours and he might die!" She said this as she asked for his car seat to put in her back seat to take him with us to a film screening. I had not even thought about a car seat, because, well, as noted, he isn't mine.
I do share my heart, completely, with him, despite the fact that he is not mine. LilSalty has snuggled right into the creases and owns a part of it and he knows, without a doubt, that I love him fiercely and am, if nothing else, absolutely honest with him about ALL THE THINGS and that, well, yes, comes sometimes with consequences, but also means there is no filter when it comes to life with me.
LilSalty turned 11 two weeks ago. A magical and masterful 11. He's whip smart and curious and wants to be a YouTube star and is quite certain that Donald Trump is going to ruin ALL OF US. If you support Trump, you're no friend of his.
Which brings me to the whole point of this. Because, I actually do have a point. I'm here to share something from my own heart.
If that small child who shares my heart actually was mine, if he belonged to me, I don't think we'd be sitting here in Utah right now just watching this whole thing unfold or listening to bits and pieces on NPR or the occasional Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert video. No. We'd actually be participating in Iowa in the whole process. Home schooling, I guess, is what you call it? And, yes, I understand that is a completely radical notion.
Here's the thing. America is still a democracy. A shaky democracy, but it still is a democracy. One built on the revolutionary passionate hearts and minds of people willing to truly participate. I think being on the front lines, participating, seeing our process in action, is the best way to learn how it all works and understand how to be effective to make change.
LilSalty is 11. He's our future. If change is going to happen, despite his inability to vote right now, it begins with me, but it also really happens with him.
So, I'll be participating in all the ways that I can. I will also be including him, as much as he wants to join in, too. Again, he already has strong opinions about Donald Trump. I am guessing, with lots of thoughtful conversation and some more participation, we can also have some strong feelings about the whole democratic process.
As we both love to say: It's worth a shot.
This is big news.
I feel, well, like all my words have finally been heard. She's still BARBIE, and we all know that I have always said to everyone who will listen that none of us have to "look like Barbie", that we should love the body that we have.
But isn't it kind of refreshing that someone, somewhere, finally decided that Barbie should maybe, just maybe, look just a little bit like the rest of us?
It only took my entire life so far, but hey, it's a first step for all of us.
Now, let's talk about Ken.
I promised myself I wasn't going to do this. I said that this year it was going to be different. I said that this year, I'd just go with the flow, the the magic happen, let the festival unfold for me the way it should.
I should know better.
I've been sitting here in a queue that doesn't even promise me a single ticket because, you know, #SUNDANCE.
I have a problem.
It's called documentary films and the passionate people who make them.
Every single morning, at some time before noon, it is never ever the same time, but it is always every single day, I will walk into the coffee shop and stand patiently in line and eventually when I get to the counter no matter who happens to be working that day, that very sweet woman or man will act as if my arrival is the most exciting moment of their entire day and gush and fuss and make absolutely certain that I know, without a doubt, that I am loved, adored, and appreciated.
I rarely, if ever, mention to any of them, that I am there for coffee. That part just happens magically.
In fact, I'm not even certain that I go there for the coffee.
At this point, after 8 years of this daily ritual, I'm convinced that I go there for worship. Not theirs, mine. I bet you think it is for their adoration, but truthfully, I go because I know that when they acknowledge that they see me, I know, for certain, that I'm still here.
And I am so very, very grateful.
I could share all the details about a locked trailer door, the massage therapist who was anything but, the bruises that lasted far too long on my chin and my body, how I slept at night with a carabiner slipped between the zippers of my tent door just to make it a little more difficult to open, or how I was determined to just desert the desert, but those are all just small details that are not really important for you to know.
What I want you to know is that I was sexually assaulted at Burning Man.
Why I want you to know is because while we all want to believe that Burning Man is some beautiful co-created special magical place that rises up from the dust, it is, as I have always maintained no different, truly, than the individuals who come together to create it. We bring exactly who we are to the city we create. All of the very best of our good (and all of the very worst of our bad) come with us and a whole lot of it even gets elevated there, because we're encouraged to let social norms and rules slip away.
In the aftermath of those hours Monday night that stretched into Tuesday morning, I blamed myself for what happened over and over and over again. I was stupid, I was an idiot, I had been too trusting, I had not noticed the obvious, I was selfish for even participating this year. All of it. I was traumatized and shaken and kept asking why and how and especially WHAT THE FUCK because, honestly, this, this especially, was not the Burning Man or the camp, the little LOVE camp, I had intended to create. This was not the way I wished to participate. This was not and is not how I show up in this world or any world. Ever.
Aggression, especially sexual aggression, many times is incapable of hearing the word no. It also many times does not respect your boundaries. Or understand that an open and loving and naked heart is an invitation for sex and violence.
I can't lie and pretend that all of this did not traumatize me. It absolutely did.
I chose to stay because I felt that leaving, deserting the desert, my camp, would be allowing him to steal even more from me than he had already tried to steal. I know even that may sound ridiculous here, but honestly, my heart and soul were right there with the very people who had helped me bring our LOVE to that city and I was determined to let love win.
So that's what I did.
I just opened up and beamed even more brightly, if you can imagine that?
More love. Wherever and whenever and however I possibly could.
All over the place.
In the food I fed others, in the laughter that I shared, in the hugs that embraced me, in the quiet conversations shared hiding out from all the white outs, and in every single smile that I gave and came my way.
You can try to take my heart, but in the end all it does is create more love.
I just returned from a week in Chicago. A week that included a trip through a wormhole and a visit back to a previous version of myself, or maybe it would be better to say just a different part of my own heart that has kind of been under lock and key for the last twenty years or so. It isn't that I haven't held it dear, as it were my own, as they say. Or even shared it and unlocked it, and held it out for inspection every now and then, but I will be the first to tell you that when Jerry died in August of 1995, I absolutely took off the tie-dye and got off the bus.
The remaining members of the Grateful Dead have milked their legacy for the last twenty years in a variety of ways, both together and separately, and none of us can blame them. Certainly not me. If I had created as rabid a fan base as they had created, one that was willing to follow me around selling vegan organic chocolate chip cookies just to make it to the next show, I'd certainly sort out a way to get those kids to continue to spin in circles and hand over the cash. The Grateful Dead, besides serving up music that was medicine for me, are also pretty savvy business men and know how to give just enough away for free, to keep us wanting and begging for lots more.
I will share that I resisted going to Chicago, mostly because I'm such a damn purist about these things. When they announced that they were putting Trey Anastasio into the line-up it really pushed some pretty strong buttons for me, personally, and I had trouble reconciling those feelings. Then all the HYPE happened, I found myself getting caught up in the frenzy, and thinking to myself about how I had BEEN THERE and DONE THAT and if this really was going to be the last time, I kind of maybe wanted to actually be there. Even if, yes, this was NOT THE GRATEFUL DEAD. I kept reminding myself of that.
I had to.
You see, it was not the Grateful Dead. It was, perhaps, the world's very best Grateful Dead cover band of all time, but this was not the Grateful Dead and no one will ever, ever convince me otherwise. Not even those who have written so eloquently about these particular shows since seeing them. Nope, I remain convinced this still WAS the very best of the best cover bands we were ever going to get.
Purist. Table for one. Right here. I'm happy to dine all alone. It's okay. I have plenty of vegan cookies and kombucha and beets to sustain me. xo
I had fun, yes indeed. I cried real tears. I hugged people fiercely. I danced naked to Scarlet Begonias and Fire on the Mountain and was absolutely the best Deadhead I knew how to be. I shared my heart in all the right ways and I let that music swirl inside my body and wiggle my spine and do all the things it is meant to do for all of us. I remembered why I used to love it so very much and I have absolutely no regrets that I went.
None. Not a single, dingle, one.
That was three magical days of music and love and community and kindness and rememberence for which I will be forever and ever grateful. That band positively changed my life. Amen.
Thank you to every one of you, whom I know and don't know, who shared the magic with me all along the way. You live on with me in my heart. Every time I listen to the music play, your voices are singing the songs with me. It is your light and your love that will always shine the brightest for me and believe me when I tell you that I can see it no matter where I happen to be. xo
I don't leave #Korea for a few more days, but my life here is absolutely closing up shop, pulling down the shades, sweeping up the crumbs and hopefully, just hopefully, leaving behind a few hearts touched and changed.
Tonight I'm hosting the last of what has become one of my favourite things that I've done during my social experiment here, my Sunday Night at the Movies. It's a gathering in our apartment where we all watch a film and then discussion inevitably follows. There's popcorn and snacks and people show up in their pajamas(!!) and it is, well, delightful. The kind of thing I wish could happen more frequently in my life no matter where I happen to find myself on the planet.
Let's face it. I am a social girl. I like to gather together with people who have interesting stories to share and to hear them. I like to learn knew things. I always like to be exploring and figuring out a new solution to even the oldest of problems.
Which is why I've also so very much appreciated what I've dubbed my SOUL WEDNESDAYS. I don't think anyone could ever truly explore and sort out and discover every little surprise that Seoul has to offer. The city is a present that is just wrapped up and waiting for you to untie its big technicolor bow whenever you're ready. No matter which alleyway you happen to choose, what subway stop you dare to exit, if you go this way instead of that way, there is always, ALWAYS something delightful to not only entertain you, but educate you and remind you that not only are you not alone, but that we are, yes we are, all humans and sharing a very small blue planet together.
This morning my professor booked his own plane ticket back to Salt Lake City. When he first booked his ticket to come here, last year, I did the most logical thing I knew to do and spent nearly a month in the desert so his absence, 6,000 miles away, might not be felt so immediately. I sought solace in the company of 70,000 friends and strangers in a place where delightful surprises and the lessons you might need to learn would meet you head on as you bicycled out beyond the orange trash fence. It doesn't matter how far you cycle, you know, or how far you wander to get lost, your own soul is always tucked right there with you. You can not leave it or the people who love you the very most behind.
I may be leaving Korea in a few days, but there's a part of me that will now always be here. I've left a lot of footprints here, but Korea has left far more than that on my soul and in my heart. Unexpected, most assuredly. But quite welcome.
This journey, this entire journey, for all of us, has mattered.
In the early part of yesterday afternoon, I found myself standing on a step, looked down and saw those words. It was not by accident.
The thing is, while I know I always need love, I also know I've got love. Man, do I have love.
Last night I was naked sitting outside in an old stone pool filled with hot salty bubbling water with a sky overhead that was turning slowly from a velvet blue to black. I haven't had the opportunity to sit under the stars, naked, in quite a long while, and my soul must have needed a little push. Or a reminder. Or maybe it was just the salt water which was is not a whole lot different than tears.
All I know is that I was overcome with gratitude. And wonder. But mostly just gratitude.
For all the love that I have in my life. The daisy chain of beautiful flowers that just begins with you (because it does, absolutely begin with you) and then just continues up and over and under and around my whole heart again and again woven with webs of gossamer silk so fine and delicate that of course it could break at any moment, but the beat (BEET) is so strong, I only have to sit still for a moment to understand that it is always right there. Just right there. Always.
So I just started saying it outloud. I love you, Jay. I love you, Amber. I love you, Davis. I love you, Beth. I love you, Robin. I love you, JoJo. I love you, Dave. I love you, David. I love you, Dom. I love you, Deb. I love you, Nadine. I love you, Naomi. I love you, Steve. I love you, Roger. I love you, Tamara. I love you, Simone. I love you, Nina. I love you, Lynda. I love you, Chuck. I love you, Joesephine. I love you, Doug. I love you, Tommy. I love you, Talei. I love you, Jessie. I love you, Tori. I love you, Lydia. I love you, Mark. I love you, Skip. I love you...well...it just kept going. It became a mantra. A prayer. I litany. With each name, another love bubbled up, came into focus, became part of the chain. I had to send it out.
Three older Korean women joined me in that pool and I was still whispering my love out loud. I love you, Gabe. I love you, Lupi. I love you, Phyllis. I love you, Katie. I love you, Gay. I love you, Heather. I love you, Justin. I love you, TP.
They heard me whispering. They heard me in my quiet prayers and they circled around me like they were holding vigil or, more likely, trying to better understand.
I love you, Gary. I love you, James. I love you, Grace. I love you, Gwen. I love you, Valerie. I love you, Joel. I love you, Arthur. I love you, Caitlin. I love you...
One of the woman touched my arm, ever so gently, and asked, "You love me? You okay?" I smiled at her and said, "Oh, yes. I love you and I'm okay."
For a few moments, the spell was broken. She and I chatted briefly about my love chants, my prayers of gratitude, what it all meant for me. She told me she would send some love, too, because love was what we all need. The most.
I had to leave the pool, obviously. I couldn't stay all night with my love prayers. This hasn't stopped me, though. The chain remains unbroken, my I love you litany continues. There are so many of you who I carry around in my heart. So many of you who love me and allow me to love you back, fiercely. You all, each and every one of you, make a very fine beat.
And the beat goes on.
I love you.
This morning, I was lucky enough to purchase tickets for what might just be the final and last hurrah for the remaining living members of the Grateful Dead. They have decided to reunite because this is the 50th anniverary of their first collaboration and even though Jerry Garcia is no longer with us, along with other wonderful members of the bad, as well, those of us who like this sort of thing are obviously still willing to show up and sing the songs whose words are quite literally emblazoned not only on our hearts but also across a lot of our bodies and even in the names of our children and pets. In other words, we have not forgotten who we are, or, more importantly, were and so, for three days on the first weekend in July we'll have one more chance to share smiles, hugs, love and that unidentifiable and intangible spark that we all just "know" and recognize when one stranger is no longer a stranger and instead is absolutely a friend.
I thought, quite honestly, that was all I had to say on the subject. Just pure joy and happiness that I'd be going to Chicago and dancing my little dance that no one else can quite dance and sending my love bubbles up and knowing that like all those other times, this time I'd be there, too, to share the magic and share the love.
As someone who did this for a very long time, who traveled the roads, who sometimes asked, "Why is this band following me?", who gave her heart (and her soul) and the bottoms of her dirty bare feet to taking care of lots and lots of sweet, kind, beautiful friends and family (yes, we were family) all across the globe and who always, always just gave her extra tickets away, it really hurt me to see THIS:
2 TIX for $10,000 being sold on eBay just minutes after the sale ended this morning.
I know times are tough. I get it. But come on. We, as a community of hearts and love and who know all the words to all the songs and all the roads that have led us to all the places where we learned all the things we know, know better. We can do better. We should do better for one another. We just should. I realize there's been panic and consternation and that, honestly, this whole ONE LAST TIME, has not been handled as well as it maybe should have been and there's always a way for things to be done better and we are always still learning, but in that process, along the way, sometimes we should perhaps STOP and say..."Hey, just because we can, doesn't mean we should."
And in this case....we certainly do not need to make $10,000 on a ticket to a show. Any show. I don't care of they were bringing Jerry back from the dead. Today I spent more $ for Grateful Dead tickets than I have ever spent before. Again, I understand that economic times have changed. I realize that market values are different and I am not going to pay $17.50 for a ticket to see a band that makes my spine tingle and my ass jiggle.
I'm looking forward to dancing barefoot with all of you. Singing all the songs we all already know so well. Letting the music tingle my spine. I just hope, I really hope, that your own miracle tickets found you in the ways that are meaningful and how it was meant to be. We all get one more show exactly as we should. I also know that. So, I suppose what I'm saying is, I do really hope you'll be there with me and that come July there are lots of wonderful MIRACLES happening all around me in the parking lot. Hey, it's just the way we do things. xo
It's Christmas. Time for our annual NakedJen Film Festival.
I'm not going to lie, I really do miss the days when this was a larger gathering in Santa Cruz and we spent a few days sorting out the schedule and even having a bit of an argument over which films would actually make the LIST and how it was all going to go down on Christmas Day. Because, you know, FILMS and sitting in the dark, and a break for some decent food and discussion and all that good stuff.
I'm alone in Salt Lake City this year with the professor in Korea and having to choose not to travel to NYC where I would be able to share the festivities with my partner in all things that make the Nakedjen Film Festival TRULY a FESTIVAL.
So, without any further ado, here's my recommendation for your viewing pleasure tomorrow, or in the coming days, when you may find yourself wanting to escape into the darkness and quiet and to allow someone else's beautiful, tragic, or even happy story unfold and take you away. There's always the option of a two drink minimum and some popcorn, of course.
BIG EYES ~ Tim Burton delivers to us a holiday gift starring Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in the true story of Margaret Keane. I'm terribly excited to see this film because, well, Tim Burton (and finally not Tim Burton doing his goth turn, but Tim Burton doing something more like BIG FISH) and a story that I think just may be this year's The King's Speech. I feel OSCAR. Go see it.
INTO THE WOODS ~ We all love the musical. We all need a musical on the Nakedjen Film Festival line-up. We also all love Meryl Streep and Johnny Depp. Especially at Christmas. It's dark and edgy and perhaps not even suitable for all the children. So that makes it worthwhile to go and see it.
THE GAMBLER ~ Some of you will hate me for this recommendation. However, we've got Mark Wahlberg as a WRITING PROFESSOR. So, yeah, I'm going to go sit in the dark and watch this film. Plus, the adorable Brie Larson is here. I know YMMV, but I know I'll find it entertaining.
STILL ALICE ~ On the other end of the PROFESSOR spectrum, starring Julianne Moore, again I have my very own personal reasons for really wanting to see this film and it isn't even bowing tomorrow, but has been in theatres for a week or two. That said, this is a film that deals with Alzheimer's from the victim's p.o.v. and as a woman who has a long list of brain disorders I really want/need to see this film. I have a feeling there's a LOT of story here for me to really THINK about and digest.
SELMA ~ The most serious of my choices for the NJFF, but also perhaps the best of the bunch. (Some of you may choose to go see UNBROKEN instead and I may see that, as well, if I can). I have heard nothing but excellent things about this film and especially about how well David Oyelowo captures Martin Luther King's speeches. But more importantly, it feels as if this film is especially historically correct and quite timely and will give me a lot to consider and that is one of the best reasons for me to go and sit in the dark, to watch and to listen.
Whatever films you decide to see this holiday season, may you also leave the theatre with something new to think about and to consider and perhaps a lighter and happier heart.
I'm leaving #Korea tomorrow.
When the professor accepted his position to teach here for the full year and our initial plans were being made one consideration happened to be for all of us, me, LilSalty, the dogs and the professor, to come here together as a complete family and live here. It seemed completely plausible and exciting and like a grand adventure, quite honestly. Let's remember that I am a girl who really does love grand adventures.
As time passed, though, and the details got less fuzzy and far more clear, and other hearts and minds became involved besides just ours, it also was made very obvious and clear that what seemed like a grand adventure and opportunity for some did not for others and so our grand experiment of living a year as three 6,000 miles apart began with the professor in Korea, me in a desert in Nevada and LilSalty with his own mother in Salt Lake City.
I finally left that crazy wonderful experiment in the desert and found my way back to Salt Lake City and to my big black beautiful dogs and a house filled with college boys and college angst (provided by the college boys) and while I adore those boys (I really and truly do) the pieces there were all rearranged and very different and I bumped into things and had lots of trouble finding my own heart in a place where it just did not feel like it belonged because other than my dogs, I felt like two large parts of it were really and truly missing.
They were missing. The experiment we had created together, the one we thought we would try, was really hurting. I had substitute boys living with me (again I really love them), but my heart felt split and torn and I couldn't find enough super glue to hold it tightly in the ways it was supposed to be held together.
That is why I have been calling Korea home for the last five or so weeks. I was not supposed to be here, but when hearts are splitting in two from failed experiments, what we do is not just sit and suck it up buttercup, but perhaps re-think the experiment and see if there is another solution. X + Y can equal love if you solve for Y in the right ways.
I am going to admit that I behaved rather badly in the months leading up to my professor's departure for this adventure. I was not as lovingly supportive as I could be and there are a lot of reasons for that, some of them selfish, some of them not, but I am going to own my bad behavior and publicly share that I do feel bad that while he was already under immense stress and doing his best to take care of his own son and me, I was not being exactly the very best in return.
I am also going to admit that I did have my own pile of things that were not going well at the time, my own personal whirling tornado of anxiety and that did not help, of course. It isn't an excuse because certainly bad things happen to good people every single day and those good people still manage to, yes, suck it up and actually continue to radiate good and DO GOOD and make the lives of those around them lovely. I did not and with my mirror that allows ample reflection, I know I can always do better. I will do better. I am doing much better.
This one on one 24/7 time with my professor, here, in Korea, has been such a beautiful gift. On so very many levels. Once again, the shape of my heart has changed. The shape of us has changed. We are, again, together and different. But the glue is definitely stronger. The roots are deeper. The love is hinged back together in just the right ways in the places where we seem to fit together best. I found my wings on a random street and I believe that was not a simple accident.
Exploring unfamiliar territory, together, of course, has helped. But what has also been truly lovely, for me, has been participating, truly participating, so actively in my professor's life as a professor. It isn't something I've really done before and while I know he's a very smart man, I have to admit I have a new admiration for him as The Professor. He really is a gift not just to me and LilSalty, but to all his students, as well.
I'm grateful to Korea for pushing all of my boundaries, all of our boundaries, for the things I've learned about myself while I have been here, for the patience, medicine, the good love. I have you in my heart. I love you long time.
I knew as soon as we started exiting the stop at Jegi-dong Station that we were in for a fun adventure.
I know I am both blessed and lucky, as well as, yes, even perhaps a bit spoiled to be able to be here, in Korea, without worrying about, well, really much of anything. How many people get this kind of opportunity? I want to suck every little bit of it right through the biggest straw I can find and make sure that I say "YES" to all the little and not so little things that come my way. At the same time, my professor is, in fact, professing. He has a job to do here and I don't want to get in his way, you know? And, let's face it, I am a rather independent person when it comes down to it. I just like including him in on the adventure if he wants to come along.
Which is what happened yesterday. As I was mentioning, when we started exiting the Jegi-dong Station in Seoul, I knew, straight away, that we were in for an adventure. We were, by far, the youngest people in the station by about a good 30 years. It was filled with very old Koreans who all seemed to have a variety of ailments. This was not a huge surprise to me because the whole reason we had come to this specific part of Seoul is that it is the location of the Yangnyeongsi which is the traditional Korean medicine market. Above that subway station, winding through the streets, were over 1,000 herbal medicinal clinics and dispensaries of all kinds. There are all kinds of practitioners who are selling a variety of fresh and dried herbs and tinctures and who are willing to consult with you, right on the spot, to concoct a remedy or tea or prescription for whatever it is that may be causing you trouble.
I was in heaven.
My little Dreamsweet heart burst with such excitement and what made me particularly happy was that as I walked from shop to shop I actually was able to recognize the various herbs sorted in their huge baskets that were for sale.
I realized, quickly, that herbal medicine, like love, really can be a universal language. Koreans have been practicing their form of herbal medicine for over 600 years and over 70 percent of all herbal transactions happen right here in this part of Seoul. My professor and I were absolutely the only non-Koreans present yesterday and I know we were quite an attraction, but I was so happy to chat with more than one shopkeeper and actually do some business. I want to make a medicinal kombucha while I'm here (for both me and the professor) and wanted to get specific herbs for it, as well as find some other herbs that would aid in my own quest to rid me of a parasite. Through broken Korean and a lot of gesturing, I was able to explain what I needed, but more importantly to me, why I needed it. And I got exactly what I needed from not one, but three different shops. It was just lovely and also, well, kind of magical. Deep down I know that I know this stuff. Sometimes, I just forget that I really do know this stuff. But being there, standing still, surrounded by all those herbs and their powerful energy, I knew that I still speak that language. And it still really speaks to me.
We had an even more gracious surprise when I insisted that we walk back to the subway by crossing to the other side of the street. There we found a museum dedicated to the History and Culture of Herbal Medicine in Korea. It was a very complete museum and we were given our own docent who made certain we truly saw everything. What I most appreciated were the very old acupuncture tools and all the various herbs, plus how she kept showing me the difference between Korean herbs and Chinese herbs. Earlier in the market, I had actually insisted upon buying Korean herbs instead of Chinese and that was a very personal choice on my part. I wanted local herbs, of course, but also I have also learned from my many years of herbal practice, that the herbs from China just are not very good quality.
At the end of our tour at the Museum, we were given tea and gifts (a very Korean thing to do) and then we were also both given a health analysis. Again, this was a gift and a surprise! We learned that according to Korean Traditional Medicine the Professor is Soyangin and I am Soeumin. I honestly was surprised to learn this about myself as I imagined from all my time getting acupuncture that I would be Taeyangin. And, as our docent said, perhaps I really am and yesterday was just a day where my qi was showing something different?
Full of that adventure and new knowledge, the professor and I headed to Hongdae to find some lunch. Late lunch. But we were in for such a treat.
Last March, when we were in London and Paris, one thing we ate quite a lot were falafel. It's an easy meal to eat when you're vegan/vegetarian and traveling because you can sort out quickly if it truly is what it is AND it also allows me to avoid the dreaded avocado (usually). Yesterday, in Hongdae, we headed to a restaurant called Jack and the Bean. It serves falafel in a variety of ways. Korea is not exactly the hot spot for falafel. But what struck both of us, immediately, was that on the wall in THIS restaurant were photos of the two falafel spots in both Paris and London where we had eaten in March! Those two restaurants are not related to each other or to this one. All three just happen to serve falafel. And, well, the professor and nakedjen. They also are all quite DELICIOUS.
Once we ate, we wandered all over Hongdae and took pictures of street art for the professor's upcoming class, admired lots of the lively vintage stores, chatted with many shopkeepers, I got to love a huge sheepdog, we snuck through back alleys, the professor ate some sort of crazy fish cake concoction stuffed with ice cream and custard and chocolate skewer of grapes and pineapple because, as I mentioned to him, you only live life once and you have to do the things you want to do in this life when you have the opportunity and not say, "Oh, maybe next time..." because what if there is not a next time? and then I actually took my own advice and ate some Korean street food, too. It was a hot donut kind of thing, my professor says it is a hotteok, that had been dipped in honey and OMG. I feel like I need another one. And then another one. I also said to my profesor as I was literally INHALING IT that what would be great was if it had walnuts in it and he told me it sometimes DOES have walnuts in it and now I feel like I have to go find the ones with walnuts in them. I mean, for research purposes. So I can share with you if they're as good as I think they should be.
We got back on the bus, eventually. Did I mention the bus? There's a bus that takes us from the University here to the University there. And it's rather civilized and seems the way to go if you're wanting to go from here to there to have an adventure and suck everything you can through the straw in all the days that you're here. Because, honestly, how many people really do get this kind of opportunity?
Before I write another word, the first thing I must do is wish a happy birthday to Lydia. I know most of you do not even know who Lydia happens to be, but I will share with you that she is one of the reasons I happen to get up every morning with a smile in my heart and show the world all the love that I feel. She's that friend you can call at three in the morning who will answer the phone and actually will get out of bed and bring you M&M's to eat after she's bailed you out of jail. Or, you know, will drive 3,000 miles because she didn't think you sounded quite right on the phone and she thought you might need some company. She's THAT friend. The one who shows up.
She also will tell you that I am THAT friend, too. My world collided with her world a very long time ago and we've been best friends ever since. I wish I could tell you that we've been inseparable, but that would not be accurate, at all. Still, I can honestly say that on this day, half a century ago, Lydia decided to bless all of us by choosing this planet to land on and this planet has not been the same since. She's the one who will happily grab the microphone and sing the loudest no matter what song happens to be playing. Lydia's the one who is your biggest cheerleader at whatever sport you're playing, but especially if it happens to be Steeler's football. She will absolutely throw you a parade, if you need one, and maybe even if you do not and she's always happy to invite you to take a spin across the dance floor. But what she's best at, honestly, is love. Unconditionally.
I was not making that up about getting up in the morning with a smile in my heart because of her. It's been over 30 years since she started shining in my own little orbit and I am so grateful for that light. Every.single.day. So, happy birthday, Lydia-Jane. May this spin around the sun be your most magical, love-filled and hopeful one, yet. I love you the most. I really and truly do.
I realized quickly this afternoon, that while I may have been the only non-Korean woman in the entire women's spa area of the jimjilbang, I had definitely found myself in familiar company.
This was absolutely a Sunday afternoon family affair and there were small groups of grandmothers with their grandchildren, mothers with their babies, girlfriends gossiping as they soaked and relaxed in all the various mineral pools and saunas and steam rooms. I almost felt as if I was intruding on a party without an invitation. Almost. Except that being naked, soaking in warm waters, having the sing song of laughter dance over my ears, and taking a cozy nap next to an ajummas while we both lay together on the cedar planks of the sauna just felt like the most natural thing I could possibly do on any day, but especially today.
Whole families come to the jimjilbang. The men going one way, the women another, later meeting in the common rooms where they all can even sing karaoke, share in wellness classes, gym classes, more massage, more saunas and detox rooms and eat a delicious meal or grab a sleeping spot, get cozy and stay the night. All I kept thinking as my body and soul relaxed and renewed was, "We could use a whole lot more of this in America."
I mean that. Sincerely.
Let's put down our worries. Let's get naked and have a laugh, tell some gossip and have a soak. Let's rub off all our dirt and all of our dead skin and let it all wash down the drain. Let's take a nap together and share all our dreams.
Dave Winer said that. Dave has said a lot of wise things to me over the years that I've been very blessed and lucky enough to love him. I mean that sincerely. I have Grace Davis to thank for introducing us properly even though Keith Teare, my boss at one of my previous companies, had actually sent me to Dave's original BloggerCon to try and interest him in what our company was developing at the time. Dave was working on Podcasting at the time and what we were doing was video chat and hosting with all the bells and whistles (think Google Hangouts!) that you could actually record and save and we really thought it might be a good marriage for the podcasting world.
Anyway, I went to BloggerCon and introduced myself to Dave (and we both really do not remember THAT), but what did happen is that I went to many of the sessions on BLOGGING and I was inspired beyond belief and my own little blog was launched that very weekend. NAKEDJEN happened because of BloggerCon, because of Dave Winer and this blog you're reading now actually would not even exist without his loving heart, his generosity, and the really wonderful tools that he has created.
Yes, this sounds like a love letter. I suppose it really is. The thing is, sometimes we have to just sit down and write it all out and say thank you out loud to the people in our lives who have made a real difference. Who matter. Who show up in our lives, whose hearts crash into ours and we have that recognition, who make us laugh just a little bit louder than the rest, who get our jokes, who actually listen when we're talking to them, who call when no one else wants to pick up the phone, who create things that might seem like just small little things, but actually are big important things, and who, well, make a big fucking difference in your own little life on this blue ball that is spinning around the sun.
Sometimes you just have to actually sit down and write a thank you letter. Or a blog post.
I write a lot of words and say a lot of things and am noisy and naked and disruptive and really appreciate that I have the freedom to do this without fear that someone might come and lock me up. That's the beauty of blogging and the gift that we have been given by those who stepped up and gave us the freedom to hit the publish key and say exactly what we wanted to say, just as boldly as we wished to say it.
I can't imagine how different my life may have been if I had not been naked for the last twelve years. Yes. Twelve years.
Dave has been at this for twenty years. It's been a gift of letting me stand naked on the corner and shout at all of you for twelve.
I thank him for not asking me to ever put my clothes back on.
He's truly a man who stands up for all of us. Especially those of us who have a lot to say.
nakedjen: Sorry the mirror is so dirty! This is my best find at DI ever! Look out Korea! ♥️
Oh. My. God. Any way you could send a clearer picture?
And did you get my msg about the kombucha??
I've removed the clothing. I need a photographer.
Wait until you see it in person. Trust me. It is truly remarkable.
my professor: From what I could make out, I agree entirely. And it is on a remarkable body, which makes it that much better.
It is gold and has sparkles and a halter top and I'm not quite sure who in Utah ever wore it?
my professor: Someone who said to herself, "this is NOT for me. I need to take this to DI so nakedjen can find it."
nakedjen: It honestly must have been made for someone in a marching band...like a
baton twirler. Only, of course, I see it and think....OH MY GOD, I'm
going to wear that every day!
my professor: That is one of the many reasons I grin when I think about you.
I get excited over baton twirling outfits to wear grocery shopping and the man grins. You have to love a man who loves me like that.
I have a standing acupuncture appointment every single Monday at 4:00 p.m.
Acupuncture it turns out is very effective at keeping me alive and well and actually with two feet firmly planted on this planet. It isn't that I mind floating among the clouds like a small pink balloon every once in a while, but the professor is not here to hold on to the string I tie tightly around my ankle during such occasions and also it is not the best thing for my brain, truthfully, to take those adventures.
I've written before about some of the troubles of my head and the challenges it has so I won't bore you with all that nitty-gritty, but I will share for those who may be new that I have seizures that are non-responsive to the usual therapeutic doses of medication, I suffer from migraines, I'm bi-polar, and I currently have a blood-clot that is in the deep recesses of my brain and is inoperable. Yes, I've been dropped on my head a lot. I am asked that often.
I'm grateful, honestly, for every single loving person who has found their way into my life, crossed paths with me, and has helped me to sort out a way to not only feel better, but to thrive. I had my first traumatic head injury when I was just six weeks old so, yes, this really has just been my life.
I am this way simply because this is the way I am. There's no other me to be.
At acupuncture today, I arrived and my acupuncturist said, "So, Nakedjen, what's the word?"
And I said, "Pending."
And he said, "Pending?"
And I said, "We've had thunderstorms since yesterday. There are more on the horizon. Your work has kept a migraine at bay, but...I can feel it coming. Right over my right eye."
He was holding my wrist at the time, checking my pulse and he said, "Pending was quite an accurate description. No more chatting. I've got the answer."
With that, he quickly stuck a needle right into the edge of my left foot, just below my pinky toe, and I yelped. Electric impulses zinged up my body and I felt like I was going to throw up. He looked at me, smiled, and asked, "How's your head?"
I could feel the pain start to break apart. "It's starting to break apart, but I'm pretty certain I'm going to puke on my own toenails."
"Oh, I have no doubt about that. You're the most sensitive patient I have. Now, hold on..." and with that he put in another needle just below my big toe. Again, I yelped. More nausea, less pain. This continued as he placed more needles up my leg following the liver and gallbladder meridian and explaining that he was releasing the stress and blocks that were trying to cause the migraine.
He put matching needles in the right leg and foot and then two in each of my hands. Those were especially painful and he explained that I got no awards for being a hero about it, but I reminded him that it always "calmed down" and I knew those were emotional centers (the hands) and I wanted to let that STUFF go.
He left me to think about things. Or not. I try not to really think. I try to imagine bright golden light flowing out of the top of my head. Or I try to think of myself as love energy flowing to those I know need it. You, for example. I always know you need it, so I send you some of my own heart as I lay there getting tuned up.
I was there for two hours.
My acpuncturist is truly wonderful that way. He knows I can't just get some needles and go. He knows I have to be left alone to do my thing. So he just leaves me alone until I decide that, like the scarecrow, I've been stiched carefully back together again and am ready to go fight the good fight for love.
"How's the head?," he asked as he gently removed the needles, each one giving a little zing as it said goodbye.
"It's all good. Like magic! I'll be back though if it doesn't behave."
"Of course you will. You love it here."
He's absolutely right. I do love it here.
It is easy to be a carrot when your own soul is orange.
There's so much for me to say about my own personal experience this year at Burning Man, but when I start to try to talk about it, to write about it, I really feel like words are not enough. I want to hand you my own heart, let you hold it in your own two hands, feel the shape of it and how it has changed. Because it has. It definitely has.
I arrived at the playa very early this year. To fluff those who were building our little corner of what would become a city of 70,000 revelers and celebrants and, yes, burners in the middle of the desert. When I arrived, I am not going to lie. I burst into tears. Why? There was no one there. Not even the Man was standing. There were just pockets of small campsites dotting the vast horizon and I honestly felt such peace and joy and like I was really HOME.
I spent the next seven days creating magic with some of the most incredible people you'll ever hope to meet (and I mean this quite sincerely). I feel so blessed and lucky that I shared that journey with them, that kitchen in the middle of nowhere with them, the laughter and tears with them. That they put up with me and my shenanigans and would just smile and literally march in the desert sun with me as we somehow produced wine from water and manna from dust. Our evening meals, with tired workers crammed at our tables in our Fluffing Academy tent, had love bubbles bursting in the air and my heart bursting right along with them because THIS, all of THIS, was not even supposed to be happening.
But it did.
And all of us, every one of us, needs to take a bow.
Of course the city grew up all around me and the rest of the week found me giving away vegetables at our Farmers Market and Marching against Pesky Rabbits with my beloved Carrots and climbing to the tops of amazing art and taking foam showers with lots of naked people and dancing until sunrise and learning more about tantric sex and giving my heart in all the ways I know how to so many gorgeous people and receiving their hearts into mine.
That's how it changes shape.
I've explained to my professor, now that I'm back, that what Burning Man really is for me is a whole lot like what being on tour used to be like for me. Especially now that I've sorted out this going very early and fluffing business. My heart lives way outside my chest. The best medicine I have to give is the love that I share every single day. I can't even contain it, really. For me, love has no edges and loving is like breathing.
I live to love. I love to live.
My professor left very early this morning. He took a small part of my heart with him because, well, that's how these things work. I gave it to him, but I will admit that he had to earn it and it did not come easily to him. At all. Still, the knowing of him, now. some how makes all of this not as hard as it may seem from the outside looking in. Or maybe it is just that I'm a different me than I used to be?
With the exception of a trip to Korea for his birthday, I won't be seeing much of LilSalty over the next year because he will be living with his mother. That small child also has a big piece of my heart in his heart, though, and we all know this because, well, that's how these things work. I have bits of both their hearts in my heart, too. Right in the very spaces and places where my heart went into their own.
It's all good, as I like to say. The love will keep going. Family is not defined by the house that you live in. It's defined by the hearts that hold it.
Our hearts hold it fiercely.
If we had a theme song for our summer this summer, it would definitely be PEACHES by Presidents of the United States of America. Yes, I realize it is a song from 1995, a good ten years before LilSalty was even born. But here's the thing about this kid. He's got a very wise soul. He just knows things. One thing that comes pouring out from all the molecules of his body, every single one, is music. He can't stop making it. Ever. Even if he tries. He sings in his sleep.
I introduced him to Peaches at some point in the late spring. It has been our summer jam ever since. We've created all kinds of lyrics for that song. It's special for us because the Oregon Country Fair logo is a peach, the dragon's name is Peachy, the fair is our MOST FAVORITE THING EVER, and there's a lot of OREGON to drive thru from here to there and that means a lot of singing with a lot of made up lyrics.
You get the drift.
I've talked a little bit about how life is changing in a lot of very big ways for the Salty Family.
Today, the last day I really had to spend with LilSalty before we all begin our year of living separately, he and I took the dogs for a walk. We talked all about art, because that's the kind of thing we talk about. Van Gogh and Monet and Ansel Adams and Yosemite and how you photograph large landscapes and how you paint a painting like A Starry Night and how you might, one day, have your own art gallery. And we also sang about peaches, only we sang our own lyrics about Stella and Buddha and the dragon at the fair.
I picked some lavender for him as we walked along and told him I'd put it under his pillow for good dreams. He asked me about charming some bees. We wondered about dinosaur foot prints on the sidewalk and how they possibly got there and he told me all about Godzilla and a mod that was troubling him in Minecraft. And I swallowed back my own tears and refused to be anything but furiously happy that everything was absolutely filled with sunshine and love and, well, peaches.
Because this, this is who we are. This is how we love each other. This is just what we do.
No matter what.