20 August 2012

Missing My Papa (Two Years Later, It's Still So Hard...)

Dear Papa,

In 2010, while I was in a swirling magical world of playa dust at Burning Man, you passed away, holding the hand of your beloved wife. I was broken-hearted at your death – you were such a beautiful source of love and light in my life. Your stories of being in the British Navy – your tales of London in your youth – your journeys around the globe in your work for British Airways – you and I had a special bond of family but also the love of travel.

When I last saw you, I gave you homemade cookies and sat on your bed in the rehab center. I kissed you and begged you to eat. I asked the nurses for extra soup. You were in pain. I was selfish for not wanting to let you go, for wanting you to live, even though you were in pain, even though you claimed you had a long wonderful life and you didn’t need any more. But sometimes, love motivates you beyond reason.

Papa, upon my re-entry from Burning Man to the default world in 2010, nothing seemed important. I missed goodbye. I missed your funeral. I missed the stories. And I missed you.

I told my mother about how sad I was – “Mom, I was probably dancing when he died,” I cried to her, missing you so desperately. She responded, “He would be happy you were. He loved life so much and would have wanted you to be enjoying every moment.”

Two years later, I still miss you desperately. At the temple burn this year, I will think of you – I will miss you, but I am also glad you aren’t in pain.

I love you so much, Papa.

Your Granddaughter, Cheryl aka Cherie aka CherryBomb

13 August 2012


 Is it time to run 50k yet on the playa? This year, I've had over 50 people email me to sign up, plus countless people on Facebook. I'm SO excited at the potential.....I can't wait to run an ultra at my favourite place in the world.

12 August 2012

Wildcat 50k

I'm an addict. An ultrarunning addict.

Erin and Mary and Iliana all decided to do the Wildcat Ultra - 50miler with Erin and Iliana, 50k for Mary. How could I not do it? How can I not do a nearby ultra?

Sigh. Sign me up.

What distance? 50 miles, of course. I love 50 milers. I knew it would've been smarter to sign up for the 50k, but smartness when it comes to running is not always something I specialize in. To make things better, I decided I'd run easy - run with a friend, just chill, have a fun day of trail running.

Erin, Iliana and I started with the 50 mile start, laughing, joking, up the hills, rocks, rocks, rocks, mud. "I didn't know there were hills in New Jersey." No indeed. But let's move on. 

It was hot, humid. Stream crossing. We talked, joking, keeping the pace easy. Erin was having a terrible day, Iliana was being chafed and impacted by the humidity, so I held back with them, enjoying the easy pace, trying to cheer them up.

After one lap, it was clear 50 miles would be really difficult at the pace. With the pace problems and the humidity, we all decided to drop down to the 50k. I was secretly relieved, as I had run 100 miles three weeks before and am running a rather important 50k, ahem, the Burning Man Ultramarathon, in two and a half weeks. So yeah, probably not the best idea to do a 50 miler on still-tired legs.

We ran. We talked. The stream crossing sucked every time, and I celebrated our reduction to a 50k on the crossing. "At least we only have to do this one more time after this instead of three more times!" Erin laughed at me when my butt was completely covered in dirt and mud when I was leaning over in the stream, washing my hands.

We talked about books, about work, about life, about love. We talked about running, about how we felt (poor Erin was not having her best day), about races, about everything...We acted like how other people did when they were at the bar - catching up. Someone woman running behind us in the ten miler option, panted, "How do you talk - so normally?" We're just used to it. We told some crazy stories, stories that probably kept her motivated.

I actually felt pretty good - the pace was easy, my legs felt relaxed and I didn't feel too stressed or crazed. It was perfect, just what I needed - happy chill running on beautiful trails with good friends. Rick promised we'd see bears but I'm glad he was wrong and the bears didn't keep up his promise.

We ran into Johnny and Mishka and Lesley and other friends - we exchanged sweaty hugs, complained about the humidity. Many people dropped - the humidity and rocks and difficulty were just a lot.

We trucked on. We sucked down water, complained about the humidity, stumbled over all the many rocks, climbed the hills, ran up, down, pushed, pushed. Erin impressed me with how hard she could push even when she was in such misery - that's part of what ultrarunning is all about. Pushing past your limits. We talked about runners who did not understand ultrarunning and who put their nose up in the air. Why? I can never run a fast 100 meters or do the 400 meter hurdles in any sort of respectable manner, but that doesn't mean I'm knocking it. I don't get it.

We finished with slow times, but happy. I sucked down a coconut water and Johnny who nicknamed me "Princess Bubblegum" made sure I got a proper adult beverage. We ate cookies and brownies and talked and hung out and ate watermelon and cheered everyone else on, ultra-style.

We hugged and were happy and went home and relaxed. Because we knew at the end of the day. it's always worth it to push yourself to see what you can do - even if you don't feel like it.

07 August 2012

Burning Man Prep

It's not just a festival, it's a lifestyle.

Will the medals ever be done? Naptime first!
As my boyfriend and I move around in the mess of our apartment (me sewing, piling toiletries and sunscreens and pots and supplies and writing recipes and grocery  lists, him making medals for the Burning Man Ultramarathon), I realize it's not just a festival, it's a lifestyle. It's making lots of fabulous costume (pink and gold sparkly fishnet dresses, bikinis with fake leaves and flowers sewn onto them, fake fur bras and skirts and legwarmers), it's me organizing a 50k ultramarathon and putting way too much time and energy and money into it than makes sense - but it does because I love it and because I love to make people happy (and to introduce them into the world of ultras!).

But now - as we have pots and sunscreen and fake fur and a cat in the middle of it all - yes, it's more than just a festival. It turns into a lifestyle.

That's a little scary.

But mostly exciting.

I'm going home.


"[Civil disobedience] is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that numbers of people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of the leaders of their government, and have gone to war, and millions have been killed because of this obedience...Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves, and all the while grand thieves are running the country. That's our problem."

--Howard Zinn

05 August 2012

The Deli

I was waiting to get a roll of paper towels, because Wayne forgot and it was 11pm and of course I, like any New Yorker, needed my paper towels NOW so I could clean the litter box. I wanted things done right now, like any New Yorker. So I picked my recycled paper towels off the shelf and was shocked to see the couple in front of me with their massive amount of stuff. (Most New Yorkers buy a Red Bell or some beer or chocolates.) They were shopping - chips and cheese and blueberries and they asked for a big bottle of Dr Bonner's soap and a Mrs. Meyers candle.

Something touching - in how he tried to pay, or contribute, and how she gently, quietly shook her head now. He nodded, reached over her for the two heavy bags. I could see their love was new. He was covered in tattoos, wearing a shirt for a punk band, but all he was emanating was love for her. She was wearing some old black shirt with the arm holes way cut out so you could see her bra - and she too had a lot of tattoos. But mostly, you saw the adoration.

They didn't notice me. They barely noticed the smiling guy behind the counter. They were so sweetly falling in love, it struck me. This is what it's about.

I watched them float out of the store, and paid for my paper towels, too much for what they are, but that's what New York City delis are like. And then I went home to my little world, where the boy in love with me was washing a sink full of dishes - and our cat slept happily under the A.C.

And it was just another night in NYC, where falling in love and being in love are what keeps us going.

02 August 2012

playa eats

Dinner a la dust

These are not for dinner, it's war!

Free playa eats, er, the leftovers