Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

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Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:45 pm

tl;dr - Watching videos of past BM celebrations is creating excitement in this burgin but now I have all these expectations!

Like many virgins, I heard about TTITD long before time, funds, and other logistics finally fell into place. For about four years, I fell steadily more in love with BM vicariously. I spent hours browsing photos. I watched the rocket "lift off" and the Man burn live through streaming videocasts. I even lurked in a BM IRC channel for a bit :shock: In short, much of my determination to participate was fueled by the emotions stirred by online media.

The proverbial stars aligned for me this year. Cue even more time consuming published packing lists, blog posts, photoblog posts, videoblog posts, and years worth of eplaya "how-to" posts, some for the second or third time around.

I intend to continue reading up for the next half-year. In short, even if I haven't reached the point yet, I feel like I'll be a fairly well-educated virgin come late August. So here's my problem/question: I've noticed admonishments to come to Burning Man without expectations. Is there any advice for how I can balance excitement over fantastic YouTube videos, photoblogs and conversations with all you awesome ePlayans with the idea of coming with no expectations?

After a bit of introspection, here are some of the expectations I'm talking about:

People: The participants of BM will be awesome. They will be all types by age/nationality/sexuality/profession/etc., but they will be happy and helpful and perky and open and accepting. Even if I'm shy in the beginning, I'll be able to find lots of cool people. The "thinking" part of my brain reminds me that there will be leeches on the community, like bicycle thieves, the occasional loud/violent drunk who wanders into camp demanding X, Y, or Z, heck even just people who are there for the music and don't care the least for the 10 principles, but it's tough for this reality check to have much weight after reading the nth awesome post about playa serendipity, playa sunrises, or playa magic.

At some point I'll surely run into a grouch or have an instance of miscommunication. I need to let these moments roll off my shoulders, not shatter everything I hoped BM would be. Is being aware of this option enough?

Distractions and commitments: In the face of the rants about the city being flooded with clueless burgins, I often go back and re-read the many posts reassuring burgins that their (self-reliant) presence is all that's asked for, as opposed to cheap gifts or multiple 4-hour shifts volunteering. And still, I want to step up to the plate. In the default world, I consider myself to be a fairly reliable person. If I volunteer to serve a two-hour shift every afternoon for a week, I'll be there with my game face on. Now, I'm considering requesting to join a camp that requires a daily volunteering shift. The camp is well-known to welcome and support burgins. The photos and videos of the camp's activities are for me at least as iconic as the Man himself. So do I dive in with something I anticipate I'll love on the basis of the emotion the idea stirs in me? Keep in mind I've been waiting years to get my butt to the dust.

I expect that I'll be able to live up to my commitments to the camp despite all the enticing things blinking around me in the city, but it's just that: an expectation.

Emotions: Anything goes. I may overflow with euphoria, I may break down crying, I may need frequent naps when I'm drained by overloading stimuli. Though I'm certain I'll love BM on the whole, I think I'm doing pretty good with leaving expectations wide-open here.

Weather: I know I'm a fairly hardy and low-maintenance gal but I have also seen enough videos and warning messages that I know to expect the temperatures on the playa will be hotter than I've ever experience and that the air will be dustier than I've ever experienced. This is one expectation that I'm actively trying not to abandon. Instead, I'm preparing equipment (handkerchiefs, googles, mask) and I'm preparing my attitude by coming in with a prepared mindset: weather will happen, embrace it.

I'll end with a story. Isn't the power of an appropriate mindset amazing? I lived in Japan for a while. The first day I arrived in my new home-village, the locals took me to the public baths. I forced myself to realize my two options: I could be body shy or I could embrace communal nakedness as a new cultural experience. Looking at the problem head-on made the decision so simple, almost trivial. I am trying to use that technique more often in my life and I think it serves well for the options of "bitch about dust/noise/drunk burners" vs. "dance in dust," provided I've come prepared with goggles and earplugs and a smile.

P.S. - Mods, please move this thread if you feel another board is a better fit. I put it here figuring questions about mental/emotional preparation are at least as important as "Which flavor of rebar goes best with bacon?"
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby graidawg » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:55 pm

its a good series of questions there, i felt the same when given the same advice before my virgin year last year. As best as i can explain it is.

if you havent been i can't explain it, once you have i don't need too.

I think what is meant is don't expect Bm to change your life, it may but it may not . its like finding out your best friend's secret when you've known them for 20 years, you kind of go how did i not know about this? and it either blows you away or doesn't effect you at all.

see i just cant explain it perhaps someone who has been coming for longer than me will do better.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Elliot » Thu Feb 23, 2012 5:49 pm

Hey there, Enchilada! :wink:

If all this year's birgins are as "ready" as you seem to be, we'll have a humdinger of a time!

About the dust.... If the dry winter continues, the dust will probably be on the heavy side. But I have found that I can breathe just fine even in a complete whiteout. Maybe I'm a freak, but I simply don't notice the dust in my airways -- the stuff is so microscopic, it blows in and out unnoticed with the rest of the air molecules. Might be worth trying. There could be a touch of myth, or fashion, or mass hysteria, or silly-costumery, behind all the dust-masks and filters and World War 2 gas-masks.
My eyes are more sensitive, so no macho bragging on that topic. 8) :D
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby dr.placebo » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:09 pm

Ensimismada, you seem to have a great attitude. I'd expect that you'll do just fine. I've taken the liberty of doing a Q and A based on your message.

Q: Is there any advice for how I can balance excitement over fantastic YouTube videos, photoblogs and conversations with all you awesome ePlayans with the idea of coming with no expectations?

A: The videos and pix almost always emphasize the positive aspects of the event more than the negative. Some of the blogs have a more balanced approach, and a few have a relentlessly negative approach. The balanced ones usually give the best advice.

Coming to the playa without any expectations whatsoever is one of those purist goals that is unachievable for us mortals. Coping with the situation when those expectations are not met is an essential life skill that is even more important on the playa. That goes for both positive and negative expectations.

Q: At some point I'll surely run into a grouch or have an instance of miscommunication. I need to let these moments roll off my shoulders, not shatter everything I hoped BM would be. Is being aware of this option enough?

A: Awareness is never enough. Going in with a commitment to coping with the negative is important. Being physically prepared is important. It's going to be a challenging series of judgment calls. Do you forgive a mistake, or rip the culprit a new one in public? It's good to lean in the former direction (most people you meet will be good), but sometimes your safety may demand the latter (a few people may be nasty).

And to avoid being a grouch, stay hydrated!

Q: So do I dive in with something I anticipate I'll love on the basis of the emotion the idea stirs in me?

A: Why not? Be prepared to dive out if you've made a mistake, too. And try a few things that push your limits a bit. I figure that if I don't dislike at least one experience out there that I'm playing it too safe.

Q: Isn't the power of an appropriate mindset amazing?

A: Yes!

Q: Which flavor of rebar goes best with bacon?

A: Some say coffee, some say hot sauce, and some say chocolate. Try them all!


When I started to be a burner (1999) I went with one phrase that I kept saying to myself: "open your heart!" I use it every year, and it's still the best advice I have.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby 5280MeV » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:23 pm

Elliot wrote:If all this year's birgins are as "ready" as you seem to be, we'll have a humdinger of a time!


I just had beer with one... I started talking about darkwaddery.

He said that EL-wire was expensive.

I said, "really?"

He said, "Yea, I got 70 feet last year - it gets used up fast - up and down your leg, then the other..."

:shock:

He said, "The big stages at Bonnaroo are cool, but 90% of it is really just camping out, meeting strangers, sharing beer with people. I don't like the non-camping festivals so much."

:shock:

He said, "I am trying to wire up a USB camera and photo printer, and have something at my camp where you can press a button and get a picture printed out."

:shock:

We have not even hit the burnal equinox yet!!! What if the "festival crowd" really is buying all the tickets, and what if they are much cooler than we ever imagined? What if people have been "getting it" - whatever "it" is - all over the world, all this time? What if BM was not a completely isolated phenomenon? Is it time to get over ourselves?

Anyone who is reading my comment history will find a sordid tale of contradictory opinions concerning this year's burn. I disavow all of it, save for the contradictions themselves.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Trishntek » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:43 pm

Whoever ends up actually making it to the playa this year is meant to be on the playa this year. One thing about BRC is the playa is the Great Equalizer. No matter our differences and potential conflicts, everyone there is in the same situation. Yeah some have better shelters and other have no commitments. Others have camps to run, vehicles to take care of and navigate, or specific chores to accomplish.

But it is Burning Man! A precious week at home to experience and witness SO MANY THINGS for the first time. ALL OF US are there for an adventure. If we go with the intention of being part of whatever happens along our individual paths, we all exit with a unique experience. The week passes quickly and so much has been done to make it all possible that, by the time you arrive and settle into your camp, it starts happening without you even realizing it.

As Doc says, drink plenty of fluids, throw food down your neck once in awhile and try to get some good rest occasionally. Other than that, let the inner child go and have fun!
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby moonrise » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:38 pm

You'll have at least one mini melt down, so what, just get over it (quietly, we hope) and move on. And you're already a mega stealth burgin, I think.

I am very sensitive to breathing the dust, please DO bring a few+ (5 to 8? per person) 3M P95 (8577 NIOSH) dust masks, so comfy, one can last 2-3 days, low cost (@ homeless despot/lowest) can be hidden under an interesting patterned bandana/whathaveyou, and you can breathe and talk easily while wearing one of these, they work very well for me!!. YES, it is OKAY to leave in wrapping and return un-used ones (or anything new for that matter) many do this, they just won't admit it.
Be sure to wipe un-used, still in the wrapper stuff clean before you return to the evil wally mart (I call it un-shopping) and be sure to NOT let the wrapping become MOOP.

Coca Cola will cure playa throat, helps if you lose your voice, etc etc from breathing too much dust.

Get a hide-a-key and have spare keys for vehicle, maybe a few extras hidden in a few places, even if a rental car!

Some people go to Burning man during a crisis life stage, some live a charmed life, whatever :roll: that's just life.
I like what Cryptofishist said...the burn means many different things to many different people (loosely paraphrased) add in, we are all (most of us) like-minded!! :)And don't forget to bring pen, pencil and paper notepad for emails of new peeps you meet and like, so you can connect later, after the excitement of the event.

Be ready to make some wonderful new friends, and steer clear of rude grouches, life is too short.
Those same grouches might be wonderful a few hours later, who knows maybe they were having their own mini meltdown (or dealing with anothers') when/if you encounter them and they're in a grouchy mood, haha. (grouchy is not not common, but it does happen)

Unless you're a real gypsy, don't trust them!

Have fun and don't allow yourself to be led around on a leash (unless you're into that shit).

If you get high, be sure to take photos. Viewing platforms are fun for picture taking.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Eric » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:28 pm

My $0.02: you sound like you're getting yourself in the right mindset.

One little trick I learned was to temper my expectations with bad thoughts: "Oh I hope I meet some really cool people" followed by "I hope I'm prepared for a 2 hour white-out that catches me in the deep playa". Keeping the balance in your head helps you prepare for the worst while hoping for the best.

As moonrise says- you will have a breakdown. It will happen. Come up with a mental plan how to deal with it (stay hydrated, stay in shade, bring a book...). If you're one of the lucky ones, it won't happen. But it probably will.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Bob » Thu Feb 23, 2012 9:44 pm

You're overthinking. Get your gear together and do a practice camp somewhere one weekend.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Ugly Dougly » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:50 pm

Burn your expectations.
Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby BBadger » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:07 pm

I went to BM the first time without any idea of what it was, and my friend gave me the gift of keeping mum about ever single aspect of it.

I guess it's a catch-22 for some people: they wouldn't know about BM or think about going without seeing the videos about it, but their expectations are raised and they have knowledge of the event prior to going, which can ruin the experience.

Still, I end up telling myself: no pictures, videos, words, or even expectations can match the experience of being there.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby trilobyte » Fri Feb 24, 2012 2:37 pm

The videos and pretty pictures are great for romanticizing certain aspects of the event, but remember it's a lot more than that. How and to what degree you check your expectations at the door is completely up to you. Some people set theirs high, which can result in being improperly prepared for conditions or experiences or peoples' personalities, and some set them very low. I tend to aim for low myself, so I don't see any down-side. Prepared for the worst (in weather, in equipment issues, and people), and delighted when it's not. My campmates and I routinely joke about how things probably aren't even going to be very good, or that we'll be surprised if something actually works, or that we only have a reasonably good chance of survival and I think that helps us keep our heads on as well as put grins on our faces. Good luck finding a balance that works for you guys :)
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Savannah » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:49 pm

BBadger wrote:I went to BM the first time without any idea of what it was, and my friend gave me the gift of keeping mum about ever single aspect of it.

I guess it's a catch-22 for some people: they wouldn't know about BM or think about going without seeing the videos about it, but their expectations are raised and they have knowledge of the event prior to going, which can ruin the experience.


Agreed. I think it was very fortunate that I did not have too much knowledge of the event before the first time I went--besides what to bring, and that there were extremes of weather. I might have had a survival guide, and a couple of camp meetings, but I watched no videos and visited no websites. It was impossible for me to be let down. And so many things were surprises.

If I had known as much as we share here, I might have been disappointed, because it was by no means my best Burn. Beyond convincing me to go again, which was admittedly important, that first Burn did not change my life.

The only thing I should have done differently my first time: bring more cold weather costumes (I had sufficient clothing, but I like to be flashy), bring more flashlight batteries, and a 6-pack of Sprite. And the latter two were remedied by a friend's trip to Gerlach mid-week.

It is possible to lose something in trying to know everything.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby lemur » Fri Feb 24, 2012 3:55 pm

Savannah wrote:
It is possible to lose something in trying to know everything.


yeah!

"And what does the saint do in the forest?" he asked.

The saint answered: "I compose hymns and I sing them; and in making hymns I laugh and I weep and I hum: thus do I praise God. By singing, weeping, laughing, and humming I praise the God who is my God. So, do you bring us a gift?"

When he had heard these words, he bowed to the saint and said: "What could I have to give to you? I should leave now lest I take something away from you!" - And thus they parted, laughing like two schoolboys.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Mon Feb 27, 2012 9:20 pm

Now that posting new responses seems to have died down, I'd like to say:

Firstly, thank you, everyone, for your kind words and reassurances! You've helped me sort through my feelings a bit better than I could have done otherwise. Bob is of course right that I'm over-thinking things, but that's my nature.

I especially like the advice from Doc Placebo to commit myself to a certain type of response when things go negative, something along the lines of repeating the phrase "open your heart." Likewise, with the aim of keeping a balanced view, I'll remind myself something along the lines of "this probably won't even work, and even if it does, there could be a dust storm." I'm all for adventure (and have a good amount of camping/field experience), so this sort of thinking will help me be more realistic without weighing me down.

Also, I think that, from now until August, I'll do my best to avoid videos and photoblogs on the whole. I already know I'm going, so instead of daydreaming fantasies of awesomeness, I'll focus instead on bringing a bit of awesomeness to the playa.

As for disappointments, the group suggestions here woke me up a bit: just because BM is an escape from the everyday for almost every participant, doesn't mean Burning Man isn't "real life," and in real life I have ways of dealing with a disappointing interaction.

dr.placebo "I figure that if I don't dislike at least one experience out there that I'm playing it too safe."


Indeed, words to live by.

Thank you, everyone. If the Lamplighters will have me then when we meet on the playa I can give you a dusty hug while clade in white robes emblazoned with flames.
When he lights his streetlamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower.
When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby lemur » Mon Feb 27, 2012 10:07 pm

even if you dont find a space in the village this year Lamplighters will be needing walk-up volunteers every day.... and of course anyone can enjoy a part of the 'village life' with us at our lounge! oh yeah! and you can work with us every day too!

we will need walk-up volunteers every day!

ensimismada wrote:Thank you, everyone. If the Lamplighters will have me then when we meet on the playa I can give you a dusty hug while clade in white robes emblazoned with flames.



good luck getting there.

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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby mzfit » Tue Mar 13, 2012 10:47 am

One way that I tend to look at things is that disappointment comes from unmet expectations. But who controls my expectations? I do!! Therefore - no one is responsible for my disappointment except for me. That frame of mind helps me as I set any expectations that I have and tempers my reaction when I have disappointments! Simple concept to grasp - much more difficult to implement!
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Ugly Dougly » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:16 am

You got it baby.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby stinkyfoot » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:27 am

Expectations are like this:

There are the things that you should expect and plan for like dust storms, extremes in temperature, assholes running through your camp, feeling crappy because of exposure, needing shelter and food, people being everywhere doing things that you've never though of doing, art projects to see, things to do, transportation issues, the need to participate, etc.

So you bring you camp, you bring your gear, you bring some stuff that's going to enhance your fun like a cool outfit or a piece of art or some performance, you make a connection with people you need to get you there.

Then there the the emotional expectations we get when we watch those amazing videos and read about people's experiences or listen to our friends talk about what an amazing time they've had. And we get ourselves all riled up to think that once we get there some beautiful dread locked burner goddess is going to come down off a mechanical flying octopus and transport us into a state of transcendence where suddenly we're having spiritual visions and dancing to dubstep like some kind of party machine. And we see all there is to see and do all there is to do and make the best theme camp, and eat the best food and make the best art and are the most sparkly person ever to wear fake green fur on the planet. Or whatever fantasy appeals to your sense of grandeur.

Only your realize once you get there that you're nothing but a silly monkey eating cliff bars in a really inhospitable environment that's not so good for monkeys at all, and fuck spiritual enlightenment or dressing up, you'd just like to summon the strength to peel yourself out of your camp chair so you can go slap some sense into your camp mate who's being a total whiny bitch. And you forgot to tie down your trash, so in the last dust storm it mooped all over your immediate vicinity, and you'll have to clean that shit up once you got out of your camp chair. And everything is happening around you despite your horrendously cranky feelings, and there are some cool looking burners walking by but fat chance if they'd bother talking to you, sitting like a sad sack in your camp chair.

That is how expectations kill a good time.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby AntiM » Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:39 am

+1000

The opposite of that scenario is when you worry the week is wearing on and you haven't done this or that or seen all the art or or or ... and you realize that sitting in camp with good friends, talking, drinking a bevvie, is just as much Burning Man as all the rest of the madness.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Ugly Dougly » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:34 pm

Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby BBadger » Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:47 pm

AntiM wrote:+1000

The opposite of that scenario is when you worry the week is wearing on and you haven't done this or that or seen all the art or or or ... and you realize that sitting in camp with good friends, talking, drinking a bevvie, is just as much Burning Man as all the rest of the madness.


That contentment is just great. I remember after the trip hearing from a friend "oh, you didn't see X out near Y? It was pretty cool!" and while I did express some disappointment, I really didn't feel much more than "well, you can't see it all, and I was enjoying myself wherever else I was at the time."
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby BoyScoutGirl » Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:05 pm

I'm reminded of a memorable bit of advice I received about a year ago. I heard it in a very different context and yet the more I think on it, the greater variety of situations it seems to fit.

Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel.
When he lights his streetlamp, it is as if he brought one more star to life, or one flower.
When he puts out his lamp, he sends the flower, or the star, to sleep.
That is a beautiful occupation.

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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Ugly Dougly » Wed Mar 14, 2012 10:56 am

BBadger wrote:
AntiM wrote:+1000

The opposite of that scenario is when you worry the week is wearing on and you haven't done this or that or seen all the art or or or ... and you realize that sitting in camp with good friends, talking, drinking a bevvie, is just as much Burning Man as all the rest of the madness.


That contentment is just great. I remember after the trip hearing from a friend "oh, you didn't see X out near Y? It was pretty cool!" and while I did express some disappointment, I really didn't feel much more than "well, you can't see it all, and I was enjoying myself wherever else I was at the time."


You will always miss something. After the event you will (I GUARANTEE) hear of something so fucking cool that you didn't even know about. It's the Way of Burning Man.
You will also be disturbed or weirded out by something every time.
Just fucking deal with it, hippy. ;)
Please to visit PAGE TWO.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby robbidobbs » Tue Mar 20, 2012 7:44 pm

My first year I jumped in without any information other than the Survival Guide. I did read it at least twice. I thought I had it all nailed down. I came in during a 75mph dirt storm and I put up a cabin tent that I'd only seen put up once. I put that fucker up in that storm with a 2# hammer. The resources I found during that experience couldn't be predicted. Later in the week I went down from dehydration - I'd only drank water, and lost the electrolytes. I went DOWN. There I was at medical with a pint of saline in my arm, and I vowed this will never happen again.

I've been going 13 years, and just about every year I have a crying, dehydration event. I've never gone back to medical other than saying howdy doo. The loving people who have carried me through this know who they are. I am deeply grateful. I have a job to do that I just get distracted and not take good care of myself. Last year Gonzo went down for the first time in his life - he said it felt like being drunk.

So believe this, become the Burn that you want. Stay hydrated. It will sneak up on you and fuck you HARD. Be the hydration nazi in your camp if you want. The city is resplendent with zombies in the morning. Be careful with the intoxicants you ingest - they can be very dehydrating. Dehydration can make you barf - that's moop. Consider the consequences of your every action.

And if you want a really fun experience that will last the rest of your bm career, come see me for Poop Patrol.

Good luck!
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby Dr. Pyro » Tue Mar 20, 2012 8:40 pm

Robbi, truer words were never spoken. There's a reason we, your friends, love you.
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Re: Expectations: Building them, abandoning them

Postby robbidobbs » Tue Mar 27, 2012 12:00 pm

Loving you Doc!
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