Monthly Archives: July 2011

Beer, Lightning and an Eagle Feather

It’s a Saturday morning and I’m sitting in my box, the fan making my eyeballs crunchy. Perhaps surprisingly, I’m not hungover. Nah, I went to bed early last night. We were headed for the hot springs when it started to rain. So we stayed in the trailer park and watched the lightning like it was a drive-in movie.

I’m trying to drink every other night. Uh, read that as trying to get drunk every other night. There’s no way to avoid drinking out here — at least for me. It begins with an after work beer, then there’s a beer or two at Joe’s…or Bev’s…just to “shake off the day,” as After 5 puts it. Dinner looked so unappealing the two of us walked in, eyeballed the wheat bread and lunch meat splattered with some unidentifiable substances, and walked right back out. To the bar. Well, to Joe’s. Where a polite young local complimented my feather tattoo. “Are you gonna be here for another 10 minutes?” he asked me, “I’ve got something for ya.” Ten minutes later he returned with an eagle feather. I guess I’m outing myself; I hear there’s a $20,000 fine for having one if you’re not Native American. Miss Fives was irked about it: the gift, where it was given, how it was gifted. I’m not looking any gifthorses in the mouth and will accept any good juju that magically comes my way. I’ll have to ask her if she can cleanse it and cast a new spell…or make whatever magic she believes should happen, because, as Jess said, “That feather found its way to you.”

Rambling on….it’s been over a week out here in the desert. There have already been times of high hilarity, utter bliss, total irritation, abject fear, panic attacks, boredom (yes, boredom!), relaxation and the pleasure of the “job site” I manage whirring into life like a well-oiled machine. I’ve got a great crew, they’re all hard-working and happy, and Black Rock City’s signs are well under production.

I promised I’d try to blog while out here and it isn’t easy. I’m either enjoying myself and my co-workers or I’m so bleary-eyed I can’t contemplate staring into a computer. Today I woke up early enough to get in some writing before breakfast. If you’re interested in keeping up with the photos of my antics out here, I have a Facebook DPW 2011 album. I’ll do my best to blather here but uploading pix is a lot easier!

Stories We Tell Ourselves

When I was in college I bought a pair of wild shorts at a tacky tourist shop. They were patchwork plaid seersucker. I called them my “You’ll never get a date in those shorts.” And I didn’t. In fact after I’d broken up with my freshman year boyfriend I didn’t date anyone. Sure, I slept around; it was the 70s. But no dates.

After college I moved to New Jersey. Still, no dates. I told myself it was because I was too…a lot of things: too tall, too loud, too picky, too opinionated. Too smart. And so far from compliant. No Stepford Wifery for me! I would regale my friends with hilarious tales of just how un-date-able I was. A self-fulling prophecy.

When I moved to Newport Beach, there were cute boys living below me. I wound up sleeping with one of their friends, who subsequently became a boyfriend. I guess we dated, but we were already together. Then I moved to New York City and I dreamt up even more baroque stories about why no man would want to take me out. By then it was the 80s and the media had predicted that “A woman over 30 has as much of a chance of getting married as being hit by lightening.” Nice. I was, of course, 30.

My sister gave me a New York Magazine personal ad for my birthday. Yes, that was back in the days before internet dating, when people actually put pen to paper in an attempt to meet someone. It seems like the fucking Dark Ages. And those days were, indeed, dark. Even though I was finally “out on a date,” as in a guy was buying me dinner (or whatever), it wasn’t quite right. They were hoodwinked into wanting me by my clever turns of phrase, my effusive prose. Or maybe my measurements. Whatever it was, it didn’t feel like real dating. And it never was.

I managed to find a boyfriend eventually: a one-night stand who actually called. After about two years together we broke up and soon I found yet another boyfriend who was yet another one-night stand who called. I wound up marrying that one!

Fast-forward to today. I’m 52 and lamentably single. When I wind up in a conversation about dating or sex – or the lack thereof – I find myself rebuilding my repertoire of why-I’m-un-date-able tales again. “Every 50-year-old guy who has all his hair and can see his feet thinks he deserves a 35-year-old.” “Why would anyone want a woman my age?” “It’s a vast wasteland out there.” “I go to parties but everyone is so much younger. And where else do you meet people?” “I’ll never get picked up on in a bar ever again.” (I was at least recently proven wrong about that last one! I didn’t act upon it but I certainly could have.)

At least I’ve learned from my past mistakes, one –and perhaps the only – benefit of being older. I can hear how I sound and now stop myself mid-sentence before I seal my fate with more self-fulfilling prophecies. Yet I once told those tales of why no one would date me and somehow managed to find love anyway. I’m sure I’ll find it again, in probably just as unlikely of places with equally unlikely men. (Or man, why be greedy?) Perhaps I should drag out those plaid seersucker shorts!

Ex’s Exes

Last night I met E, an effervescent young woman who had commented on a few of my blog posts. We share an ex-lover, E and I, and we compared notes over beers, much as another ex-lover of my ex-lover and I once did. It seems this ex-lover has a bit of a problem telling the truth and note-comparing shines a light on those lies that is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking.

I’m not the first woman to be lied to. And I’m most definitely not the only woman this man has lied to. But meeting E made me doubt if there was ever any truth to my relationship with him at all, which is exactly how his previous ex felt when I met up with her. It causes me to reevaluate everything he said to me — daily! — to doubt myself and wonder how the hell I could’ve been so stupid. I have other exes and I can’t say that I feel the same way about them. Although our break-ups ended in varying degrees of disappointment, I never felt betrayed.

I am now faced with seeing this man every morning at breakfast and every evening at dinner. I’m doing my best to not direct any energy his way and he’s wearing a long face. In order for me to survive he simply must not exist in my world. Which is pretty fucking sad. His long face is a reminder of the lies he’s told about me — and the lies he told me about his previous ex — that paint him to be a victim. It seems that if he is able to elicit sympathy, love and affection soon follow. Again, sad. And there I am, in his trap.

Recently he betrayed yet another strong, confident and talented woman. He brought her on a group camping trip and left her stranded, ditching her for another fuck. [See here for sick story of said fuck.] In an extremely public manner. It pains me to know that there’s now one more woman out there wondering how the hell she could’ve been so stupid.

Yes, there are a multitude of broken heart stories — songs and soap operas, chick flicks and novels — and everyone has been hurt by someone. It’s life. And love. But I don’t know of any other men who have serially damaged each woman they’ve come into contact with the way this man has. It’s just fucking depressing.

Open for Business. WIDE Open!

TMI ALERT! Personal medical blah-di-blah below, so beware!

I’m a little achy today. My breasts are tender and my pussy is sore. But not for the reasons you’d suspect. Nope, I didn’t get lucky last night. Yesterday I had three different medical procedures and they all involved much poking and prodding.

The first was with the gynecologist to follow up an abnormal pap test. The doctor has been monitoring my HPV, another fabulous parting gift courtesy of the ex-boyfriend. She took a peek inside me with a microscope. Nothing too scary! Hah! But seriously, there’s no “cure” for HPV; often it just spontaneously disappears. Mine has been hangin’ around for a while now, longer than is healthy, and the virus can lead to cervical cancer. So she keeps on inspecting my cells. Thus far, they’re behaving.

From that scrape-n-scrutinize I trotted a few blocks west for my (slightly less than annual) mammogram. The nurse had to re-do two of the four “shots” due to folds in my breast-flesh. Ouch! That uncomfortable compression session was followed by a “trans-vaginal sonogram” to check  out my (thankfully) shrinking uterine fibroids. This procedure was conducted by a sadistic Eastern European Svetlana who crammed her sound wave picture-taking pokey thingamajig into every corner and crevice of my cunt. It wasn’t a very pleasant sensation, though I did try and tell myself it could just as easily be a penis as that magical medical wand.

Which leads me to my latest state of mind. (Perhaps I should call it my State of the Snatch!) I’ve decided that I’m gonna have sex. Loads of it. With whoever will have me. Yup, I’m gonna whore it up, really get back to my roots — my dirty, slutty roots. I’m gonna get shitfaced and suck cock. I’m gonna get black-out drunk and make out with whoever is handy. I’ve been feeling sorry for myself long enough. It’s time to get back onto that damn horse and ride it till it’s dripping with sweat.

That said, I’ve gotta arm myself with a big ol’ tub of lube and plenty of condoms, so I can protect my prospective partners from the HPV. If you think you’re in line for a piece of me, consider yourself warned! The rest of you, stay tuned!


After a week spent with family on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, I got back into town on Saturday earlier than I’d anticipated. I still had a house guest so I went straight to my sister’s fancy ass apartment. I was able to come back to my place yesterday. I’m now in the throes of packing and organizing and compartmentalizing in my mind, so sitting down to write anything coherent is close to impossible. Not only am I about to disappear into the high desert for three months, I’m opening my home to two different couples — foreigners, in both cases — while I’m away. I need to clean and tidy up, put away personal effects, make room in my closets and drawers, send off house keys…and generally freak out.

Add into that mix two doctor appointments and financial meltdowns, as I play my usual shell game with cash, checks, bills and what I owe to who. Oh, and yesterday was the closing for my sister buying my ex-husband’s half of my apartment. It’s no surprise that I wake up in the middle of the night unsure of where I am. And that won’t be changing any time soon.

In about 10 days I’ll be living in a box on a ranch in the middle of fucking nowhere. From there my box will be wheeled into “town,” the tiny town of Gerlach, population hovering around 200 until the Burning Man staff starts showing up. In Gerlach, my box will be Tetris’ed into a glamorous trailer park, where I’ll be sharing a bathroom with 20 or so other dirty hippies out in the desert to help build Black Rock City. Once we’ve built the perimeter fence, transpo starts moving shipping containers — and everything else necessary for the city’s infrastructure — onto the playa, the dry prehistoric lake bed. My box will be moved out there as well. I’ll be “placed” in a “camp,” where my box and I will remain until after the event, when transpo begins reversing the process and my box gets shuttled back to town.

Once everything has been removed, the Playa Restoration crew begins “line sweeps,” two weeks of picking up every bobby pin, button, cigarette butt, beer tab and zip tie left lying on the desert floor. Even though I enjoy making signs, it’s my favorite part of the process, a very Zen way to spend the waning days of summer.

Over the next three months, I’m sure I’ll experience stress and sleeplessness, as well as drama and delight, ideally more of the latter. I’ll do my best to check in, but the internet connection in my box is dodgey, at best. In town, it is slightly more reliable, but only slightly. And when we’re out in the middle of the playa, I’m betting it’s gonna be crap. Of course, we have a crack tech team doing their best to hook us all up, so we’ll see!

Whenever my ability to connect may be occasionally compromised, I can certainly continue writing and then back-blog when I’m online. It does get a bit difficult for me to stare at a computer screen when I’ve spent all day in the glaring sun, so I may just wind up jotting down notes. Who knows.

I’ve already made my appointment with my tattoo artist for whatever “Rite of Passage” ink I feel inspired to receive upon my return, which will be sometime in October. Every year I learn a valuable lesson and translate that to imagery. The appointment is for November 11, for maximal good juju (11/11/11).

Between now and then, I hope to continue my introspection, in whatever form it may take. Stay tuned!

My Ambulet

I was walking through my neighborhood the other day with a friend. I’d stopped briefly at a new store a few days earlier when I didn’t have much time. It’s on a stretch of East 9th Street that’s crowded with cute boutiques: wedding dresses and antiques, vintage clothing and Wiccan spells. This new shop caught my eye because of its display: a wall of outstretched hands, delicate necklaces dangling from the ceramic fingers. Spread on the tables, boxes of clever rings: a toy car that spans three fingers; a tiny architectural model man, striding confidently; dog heads and dinosaur claws. Each one a stunning sculpture.

On my previous dash in, I’d spotted a knife, its blade glinting appealingly, the whole piece less than two inches long. It was sharp. I scanned the hands, found it and showed it to my friend. “Should I treat myself?” I asked, fastening the clasp behind my neck. “Sure,” she enthused. “It can be your ambulet.” She’d meant amulet but the fragment of her Freudian slip worked; combining amulet with ambulance resulted in ambulet. Perfect!

My “playa handle” is “StAbby.” It wasn’t bestowed upon me, as most playa names are, but was instead inspired by a song I sang at the DPW Talent Show in 2008: “Feelin’ Stabby,” sung to the tune of “Feelin’ Groovy.” I like the lowercase t and cap A, making it a double entendre, both stabby and Saint Abby. The tiny knife certainly looked “stabby.” And I can use all the help I can get.

a small object worn to ward off evil, harm, or illness or to bring good fortune; protecting charm.
1595–1605;  (< Middle French amulete ) < Latin amulētum

For the past bunch of months I’ve been wearing my feather, the one I found my first year of Playa Restoration. I usually take it off when I’m working on my tan in preparation for the desert; I don’t want a big feather-shaped white spot in the center of my chest. The Lilliputian kitchen utensil won’t cause a spot; it’s not only small but light, so it will easily slide around. This little knife isn’t imbued with as much magical juju as my feather is but a talisman is only as powerful as its wearer believes. I will touch it every time I feel my confidence slipping, when the tears are about to start, when I forget to breathe. Perhaps I’ll stop by the witchy-poo store and have them cast a spell on it!
315 East 9th Street
NY NY 10003
424 East 9th Street
NY NY 10009

My Roots

I’m on vacation. Not that I need a vacation, since my life is pretty much a non-stop vacation as it is. I haven’t worked in months and months. And if you don’t “count” DPW Sign Shop, I haven’t worked in years. Years. Sigh.

But back to my “vacation.” I’m in North Carolina with family and a few assorted others. It isn’t what I would call harmonious. Beyond the expected cacophony of kids — aged 2, 5, 8, 9, 11 and 13 — there are the adults, whose grim silences are actually far more grating. More “grown-ups” are en route, along with two more kids (who only speak German, but I’m sure will be capable of contributing to the aforementioned cacophony). Sigh. I wish I’d stayed home, since my time at home is limited. In fact, after I get home from this vacation I only have a week until I head out into the desert.

There hasn’t been much room here for my recent anxieties or emotions, in between the tears of the kids and the dueling divorces. My discontent pales in comparison with child custody and the separation of extensive worldly possessions. Oddly, though my stress level doesn’t seem to have budged a bit, the hideous neural pain I’ve been experiencing has eased. I’d assumed it was somehow stress related but, well…

I’ve had three sessions of acupuncture and enjoyed it immensely. I’d like to think that it’s why my pain has subsided. Perhaps it is. TMI ALERT! Coinciding with the initial session, I started experiencing a strange sensation in perineum. It feels like there’s a droplet of water about to dribble off of me…or a tiny little bit of breeze, as though I have a hole in my underwear. Very peculiar. I’ve been to the gynecologist recently and, well, there’s nothing physically amiss. Nothing growing or leaking or whatever. It isn’t irritating or anything; it just constantly draws my attention to that area. I was wondering if it had any relation to the root chakra. Not that I’m all woo-woo about that shit but, well, ya never know. I can’t explain it any other way.

So I emailed my friend Barbara Carrellas about it. She’s an expert on all things chakra related and the author of Urban Tantra, among other books. I asked her what she thought. Her response:

I think this can be explained in several ways. Neurologically speaking, the acupuncture needles might be stimulating in some specific/unusual way one of the major nerves (pelvic, vagus, pudendal, et al) on which sexual/pelvic sensations travel.
Energetically speaking, yes, it does seem like there’s some sort of opening happening. Is the energy chi? Kundalini? Something else? I don’t think it matters what you call it. Is there any connection between the neural pain you’re treating with the acupuncture and the first chakra? Meaning, might it have anything to do with security, tribe/family, survival, home, grounding, or money as it relates to one of those?
I think you’re on to the important aspect when you say that it’s bringing mindfulness to the area. Perhaps you could expand your awareness beyond the physical sensations to the other properties of the root chakra. You could meditate on this during the acupuncture sessions. See if you get any insights, messages, etc.
This is fascinating. Let me know how it goes.

I haven’t had another session since I heard from her and plan to meditate (as best as I’m able) on the topic the next time. But whoa, there sure as hell are a lot of things going on for me that relate to the root chakra:

The dueling divorces.
My sister buying my ex-husband out of my apartment.
My inability to actually afford said apartment…the maintenance, and, well, life in general…
If my “tribe” is at all burner related, you’ve been reading about my trepidations…
My dad becoming increasingly more rutabaga-like.
My sister’s new relationship. And my mother’s inability to accept it. Not to mention my objections…
My reluctance to leave my “home” for that home in the desert.
My fear about leaving my insular New York City social circle for the less-than-supportive environment of the playa.
The “giving” of my home to friends and, soon, strangers, even while I’m still in the same city.

In other words, when it comes to all things root chakra related, there’s pretty much nothing I feel secure about. Including security itself. So even though my relatives are driving me bat-shit-crazy, I’ve been — literally — feeling no pain. Could it be that despite the collective insanity of my family I am experiencing — however subconcsiously — temporary security? And if that’s the case, will the pain magically re-appear, as quickly and inexplicably as it disappeared, once I am out in the middle of goddamn nowhere?

I realize I’m all over the map here. I have been working so hard at feeling strong, focused, powerful. When in fact, I just feel exhausted. I’m actually feeling sorta tired of feeling. The ex-boyfriend is still seeing the same woman he was “caught” fucking at that party. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a big surprise. But I sure wish it was me who was happily screwing someone instead. Sigh. I’m going to bed. Early. And I have a feeling (heh. feeling…) that I’m going to be going to bed early a lot in the coming months. Dear Universe: Please send me someone to go to bed with. Love, Abby