Tag Archives: Scrabble

Routine vs. Regimen

rou•tine [roo-teen]
1. a customary or regular course of procedure.
2. commonplace tasks, chores, or duties as must be done regularly or at specified intervals; typical or everyday activity: the routine of an office.
3. regular, unvarying, habitual, unimaginative, or rote procedure.
[rej-uh-muhn, -men, rezh-]

1. Medicine/Medical: a regulated course, as of diet, exercise, or manner of living, intended to preserve or restore health orto attain some result.
2. a systematic plan (as of diet, therapy, or medication) especially when designed to improve and maintain the health of a patient.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions but after spending midnight meditating I realized that I need to make some changes. I could definitely use more peace in my life — specifically, stillness — and I need to be more productive. I brought home my little Poodle, Scribble, after Playa Restoration not only because I missed animal companionship; I felt the need for responsibility. I wanted to be responsible for something. My life is so unconventional — you know, with all this “living’ the dream” freedom and such — I long for structure. My work for Burning Man provides it, but only for three months out of the year. We get up every morning for a 7am meeting, have breakfast and do our jobs. It’s almost as disciplined as the military. Once that work ends I find myself yearning for more routine, more…regimentation.
So I decided, in my moment or two of “Zen,” that I would give my life a bit more structure. I hate the sound of the word “routine” — I mean, unimaginative? — and “regimen”; they both conjure boredom and drudgery. I’m sorry to say that all this motherfucking freedom has resulted in far more boredom and, yes, drudgery than those 90 days of 7am meetings. I would even welcome a job, not only for the early rising and all that shit but to have a reason to wear something other than pajamas and gym clothes. But I digress.
In order to give my life structure I came up with a “routine” or a “regimen,” if you will. My month of “no pants” felt like an achievement, if only of something as insignificant as not wearing pants. I had maintained focus. For one full month. What can I focus on and manage to maintain throughout the year?
I need to make living my life more like a job. So I came up with specific “tasks” to complete on a daily basis, just as I would have if I went into an office every day. Well, almost. The obvious difference being that no one’s paying me. Also none of my tasks are too terribly…strenuous. But at least they may give me some sense of accomplishment.
Here is my list of daily tasks:
1. Meditate: I want to start with 20 minutes each morning, advance to 30 minutes and ideally shoot for 30 minutes in the morning and evening.
2. Exercise: I already work out pretty much every other day. I’d like to make that every day or at least five out of seven. Add in daily sun salutations, in keeping with my, you know, move toward spirituality and enlightenment and shit. Hah!
3. Writing: I ‘d like this to mean a bit more than mere blogging because all my goddamn navel gazing ain’t gettin’ me anywhere. I have so many ideas for projects and make absolutely no progress on them because I am so easily distracted. I can literally waste an entire day playing Sudoku and Scrabble. Must. Restrain. Myself.
4. Watch less TV: I don’t really watch TV, necessarily, I often just listen to it. Mediocre network programming drones in the background while I (unsuccessfully) attempt to focus. This has gotta stop. Realistically, that means limiting myself to my usual two hours of “The View,” “Jeopardy” and “Wheel of Fortune.” Throw in a crime show now and then and I should be okay.
5. Home maintenance: Aside from ordinary daily upkeep, I still haven’t unpacked all the crap that I put into storage. I’d like to divest myself of more crap, get rid of my extra storage space (do I really need TWO?!) and complete the process of moving “back into” my apartment.
I realize that these aren’t exactly the loftiest of goals. I don’t want to set myself up for failure. And I know there will be things that get in the way, especially socializing. Manhattan offers so many ways to keep busy and I take advantage of them all! Last night I wound up with friends here for a few hours that should’ve been spent writing. Ah, the best laid plans…
Anyway, I will blog about my progress, which will no doubt prove to be stultifyingly dull. Bear with my boring drudgery! Or skip over it. Don’t despair; I plan to continue blogging about all my other, usual things. But hopefully, something good will come of my self control.
Day 1: January 11
1. 20 minutes of meditating
2. 90 minutes working out
3. Only blogging…
4. Successfully restricted myself to my “TV Diet.”
5. Took down the Christmas tree, swept most of the apartment, did two loads of laundry.
A fine day! (Okay, I’ll try not to be tooooo chirpy!)


I got a new tattoo today. Finally. It’s one I’ve wanted since last fall. See, for the past few years I would get a new tattoo after every Burning Man. Thus far they have been: the word “cunt,” to symbolize my “owning” my cuntdom; the word “breathe,” after a season of hearing, saying and experiencing that word in many meaningful contexts; a partial Burning Man DPW (Department of Public Works) logo, to commemorate my first year helping build Black Rock City; a fork, because I felt like I was at a “fork in the road” of my life and because I kept finding forks , literally, in the road, during Playa Restoration.

Today’s tattoo is about 15 months later than I wanted it, due to life getting in the way and my bank account never really synching up with my desires. Not that my bank account is cooperating any more today than it was a year ago but after so many months of wanting, researching the symbolism of feathers, and being caught up in the whole 11:11 phenomenon, I decided that I had to get this particular tattoo on this date — January 11, 2011: 1/11/11 — to ensure the best possible juju. Plus I had a somewhat remarkable feather-related experience.

The back story on my passion for feather imagery is that during my first year working Playa Restoration I found a stunning sterling silver feather. I’ve been wearing it around my neck almost ever since I picked it up off the desert floor. I recalled having a pair of silver feather earrings that I’d probably had since high school. I don’t remember where or when I got them, possibly at a gift shop in Schroon Lake, and it’s been a long time since I’ve bought jewelry at a touristy gift shop! Anyway, I started wearing the earrings to match my necklace. Working post-event in 2008, I was taking down signs in Center Camp when I lost one of the earrings. I remember exactly where and when — I took off my sweater at one point — but never found it. And this year, during Playa Restoration, while playing a game of Scrabble with some friends, I told the story of finding my feather and losing my earring. One of my opponents looked at the remaining earring and said, “I found an earring in Center Camp that looks kinda like that. I’ll see if I can find it.” The next morning at breakfast, she showed up with the earring I’d lost two years earlier! That earring had been lying there in the desert dust for two years! And found its way back to me! So you can see how I’ve come to feel the way I do about feathers and why this year I became even more attuned to their symbolism.

But back to the tattoo. The design is an eagle feather that I sketched, then cut out of an 8’x4′ piece of plywood and mounted on the Trash Fence that serves as the boundary of Burning Man. It was one of a series of five feathers. They were briefly mounted in First Camp as decor for a wedding, then moved to the Trash Fence at Point 3, which is the apex of the city. If one were to follow the line from the Man to the Temple off into the distance, Point 3 would be the last point within Black Rock City, the furthest point a person can walk, making the feathers a distant destination. I registered them at The Artery as “Trash Fence Feathers,” made and mounted to look as if they’d been blown into this “corner” of trash fence.

I checked on them periodically and was initially disappointed when people began tagging them. Then, as they became covered in graffiti, I embraced the exuberant messages: “I made it!” “My first burn!” And from my friend Jamye, “I love you, Abby!” It was exciting that, having made art that wasn’t exactly interactive, people had chosen a way to interact with it. The feathers were pretty visible from a distance, even at night, when they were lit by small solar-powered lights. I loved the idea of people seeing something “out there” and making the journey to see what it was.

At the end of the event, rather than burning the feathers, I packed them into my van and took them home. Perhaps someday I’ll have a yard or some other suitable place to re-mount them. Until then, I’m wearing all three of my silver jewelry feathers and one of my “Trash Fence Feathers” on my right arm, permanently.

Thanks to Ronn, my tattoo artist! You can find him at Addiction Tattoo on St. Marks Place.