Let it be said: All of Burning Man is a show of wealth. Tickets are $380, sure, but many of the art cars — immensely decorated buses and trucks — cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the neon furs, the metallic leggings and the lights (there were side-of-the-road hawkers at the gate who tried to sell me a rainbow stole for $80).
Standing near a party bus one night around midnight, Ryan Parks, a young entrepreneur covered in LEDs, explained the situation: “This is the height of excess,” he said, indicating the neon and fire-spewing art cars around us. “We go to the desert, where people die, to build shit we burn. TheMaslow hierarchy of needshas been met by our ancestors — so we can make art cars and websites. It’s wasteful but plants the seeds of possibility of whole new worlds.”
It’s not about tech money, because that’s nothing new. Annie Harrison — an early Burner and former writer for Wired magazine — told me, “I came out here in ’95 to cover the tech scene. It was tech-reporter catnip! Mostly stories about the lasers from Lawrence Livermore. I took a picture of a guy lighting a cigarette off a laser that my editor loved.”
But something new is happening at Burning Man: There’s now a rich neighborhood.
(Also via Ann Friedman’s newsletter; catch her on tumblr here.)
This post brought to you by reading "The Story of Land and Sea"*
I have a new theory about pregnancy anxiety — that fear at the pit of your stomach, somewhere below the kicking babe, that never leaves you. Fear about the birth, fear about the baby’s health, just plain fear.
I think it is, in part, an inherited anxiety, passed down like my almond-shaped eyes from mother, grandmother, great-great-great-grandmother.
My mother died while pregnant, yes, but good god if that wasn’t par for the course not long ago.
As a pregnant woman you stood an, oh, 10% chance, maybe even more, of dying in childbirth. It was the biggest gamble you would ever take with your health. It was Russian roulette. You might make it out alive, or you might not. A breech birth, an umbilical cord around a neck, a tear in the vagina, any number of now routine ”complications” — any of these could cause a hemorrhage and that was it. You’re dead on the delivery table, or more likely, in your bed.
I mean lord. Can you imagine being pregnant 100, 150 years ago? (Or being pregnant now without access to basic medical care?) And knowing your odds? Pregnancy would not have been this wondrous thing, a time for looking ahead, a time for imagining her little face, the life you would lead together, the things you would teach her.
Those feelings would have been there, certainly, but they would be tempered by profound uncertainty. You would, if you were rational and thoughtful, make as many provisions for your death as for your life.
So I think that’s part of what is bubbling up in me. A fear bred deep in the bones, in the genes. A survivor’s fear.
* Which you should read, absolutely — it’s a transportative, addictive tale of death and family and slavery and men and women in Revolutionary times — but if you happen to be a pregnant woman … well, it’s not a spoiler to say they (almost) all die.
… we’ve also been watching “The Knick” and good grief that first episode should come with a warning.
I've followed your site for awhile, and have recently moved to NYC. Wondering if you have any tips for a (New) New Yorker? Good dentists, doctors, gyms, etc.
Welcome! New York is just the fucking best. I hope you love it here.
I don’t particularly like my dentist but readers/friends told me the NYC dentists they love (and none of them were in my network). Maybe these work for you?
If you’re a lady, I absolutely loved my old gynecologist, Dr. Mulligan, (lots of my friends go to her — a kind of sisterhood of ladyparts), but then she also went out of network. Readers/friends suggested these as replacements. I’m currently going to CityScape, a group practice, and since I’m pregnant I am there a lot. They’re fine; professional; don’t keep you waiting; etc. If you go there, I’d recommend Dr. Rosenberg, Dr. Halpern or perhaps Dr. Warsheki, who is new to the practice.
I haven’t stepped foot in a gym since I discovered Tracy Anderson more than 6 years ago but I do take machine Pilates classes at Sal Anthony Movement Salon, the loveliest Pilates joint in the city. If you go, take one of Sylvia’s classes, which are very Tracy-esque in their challenge-level and creativity. I love her so much.
I absolutely love Tomo the handsome hairstylist, as does everyone I’ve recommended him to. He just switched over to a new salon: Kiyora. I hope he still charges $80 — my sister and I both have appointments tomorrow; I’ll update this post to let you know.
Here’s a random recommendation: it took me years of living in NYC to get up the nerve to try a Chinese massage parlor. While I can’t vouch for them all, for the most part they are clean, non-sketchy, CHEAP, and they hit the spot. I go to Nie’s on East 4th Street for regular massages.
Can you share more of your wisdoms re: insecure boy behavior? They are such a GD mystery! How can you tell an assclown from one with potential? I can burn a bridge faster than an unreturned text message. Thanks for your candor, it's medicine! xo
Candor can be medicine, can’t it? Well I don’t know if this qualifies as wisdom but I do subscribe to the he’s just not that into you philosophy. A guy who’s in it to win it is unmistakable. A guy who’s not is also unmistakable (as you said in your other message — you already know the answer to the question).
M. and I were talking about this last night and he said something he’s said often recently — I always knew we’d get married and start a family. And I knew it, too. (We uh had sex for the first time 10 years to the day after I lost my virginity and this was so significant to me because a. I am a fucking NERD and b. I knew he’d be the last.) However: we put each other through hell. I regret all the time we wasted fighting.
But through it all, I knew he wasn’t an assclown. I wasn’t 100% sure we’d ever get our shit together, but I knew we both wanted to. We always turned back to each other. Without that, it would have ended long ago.
So, either that’s happening for you now or it isn’t. You know what to do.
(And please be sure you really, really like him. That you delight in him, even. That is the most sure sign of potential I know.)
Were you ever a screwball with the menfolk? You seem so calm, confident & collected. I can't imagine you ever engaging in insecure girl behavior, like hanging around for a bad boy, or any of the other dipshit things that women sometimes do as we learn to navigate relationships.
ARE YOU KIDDING ME??
Can I direct you to this post about the time I lost my virginity to a boy and then gave him A GLASS CHERRY and then he broke up with me (the only sensible response) and I, while attempting to stalk him, knocked over a fire hydrant with my dad’s car and it cost me more than $1,000 (plus my dignity)?
Or perhaps I should tell you about my quote-unquote “first love,” freshman year of college, who also broke up with me — um, WHILE HAVING SEX WITH ME — and whom I also attempted to stalk but this time I did so by signing into his AIM account and then got totally busted when his friend saw him on it but knew he was at the library as part of a frat hazing ritual and he called me out and so I grabbed my friend Liz and we RAN to the library (skulking along the back routes) so that we could be seen in front of it, like, NOPE, COULDN’T HAVE BEEN ME.
Or any of the boys I had desperate crushes on from age 8 to 18, dressing for them, obsessing over them, cataloging their glances and passing remarks as though they could possibly mean something. (My diaries and journals from these years are an absolute treasure trove of shame, pain, and laughs-through-the-tears.)
There’s a reason my dad had to teach me the "two fingers" — because I was the girl who absolutely clobbered the boy with my feelings long before he deserved them. Or, uh, expressed any interest.
And the mistakes didn’t end there. I’ve made a slew of them with M. It took us, oh, about five years to get to a place where we feel truly secure with each other, and that had a lot to do with my insecure girl behavior — as well as his insecure boy behavior because mark my words, we are all just alike under the skin.
I don’t know anyone whose romantic history is not littered with mistakes.
So, how's it going mama? I'm enjoying all your pregnancy posts!
Oh, pretty great, let me tell you. I grunt (loudly) when I bend over and my lower back hurts all the time but all signs point to a healthy baby, I eat a lot but I’ve gained just 15 pounds (which puts me on track for gaining less than 30, exactly what doctors — and every nosy woman over 40 — recommend), and I’m starting to feel like I’ve got a handle on my to-do/to-buy-before-baby list. (We painted the nursery on Saturday a pinky taupe and I am obsessed with how it’s coming together.)
I found a diaper bag I actually love (after obsessing over the search since, oh, week 5), I’ve happily reached DGAF status, as evidenced by the fact that I’m wearing sneakers almost everywhere, and when I think about the birth, I channel Gisele Bundchen in all her obnoxiousness: I believe it will go smoothly, easily even. Except I will do it with drugs.
I’m really looking forward to hibernating with this little alien, introducing her to the weird world of gravity, digestion, and food that must come through the mouth. I’m looking forward to figuring her out, little by little, and eventually becoming the expert on her (not the expert on babies, mind you — just an expert on one. Until she goes and changes and I need to figure it all out again).
I’m really looking forward to my maternity leave, specifically my plan to spend a month with my parents at their condo near the beach in Santa Barbara; Gena will be doing her senior year at UCSB; my sweet aunt, uncle, and cousins live in town; M. (and hopefully Zoe!) will come for 10 days or so over Christmas and New Year’s; and our California friends will hopefully come visit for a day or a weekend (you’d better).
I get anxious and obsess over dumb stuff — stuff that has nothing to do with the baby, not really. It keeps me up at night (I’m convinced that all that extra blood flowing through your veins — the source of the pregnancy glow — overstimulates your brain). I wish I was more fun for my sister this summer — oh god what I wouldn’t give to get stupid drunk, just once — but the truth is when I have a second to spare I just want to lie the fuck down.
As for M., I’m amazed by how our relationship has evolved in the past year. We’ve been together for more than five and a half years, but we’ve done more learning and growing in the past 12 months than all the others combined. He is not a ‘natural’ father, I think he would be the first to agree, but he will make a great one. And he tells me all the time that he has always known I would make a wonderful mother, which is something I need to hear.
Even though — forgive my lack of modesty — I know I will be. I just do.
Video on Today: In the latest in our “Shine a Light” series, TODAY’s Tamron Hall meets with several women brave enough to share their stories of domestic violence, and she reveals guilt she feels over domestic violence her own sister faced.
One of my closest friends, Katie, was on the Today Show this morning speaking about her experience with domestic violence (she is the blonde woman who speaks first). I’m floored by how courageous and well-spoken she is. And the organization she works for, Day One, has raised more than $20k since it aired — a lot of money for a small nonprofit. So, so proud of her.
Gah he IS my husband, isn’t he? Still getting used to that — though we’ve really launched straight into married life. In the first week we met with a lady about life insurance, added him to my health plan, went to Ikea, and installed complicated shelves in the baby’s room — andwe’re still married. Amazing.
We met nearly 6 years ago at our friend’s supper club. I was helping to serve and he was there early to hang out. Our friend introduced us ‘cause we both work/worked in green buildings (he specialized in clean tech law) and we immediately hit it off. (Though his opening line to me was that in all my jewelry, I reminded him of his (Indian) mother. Never letting him live that down.) He took my card and emailed me on the spot, lalala.
And then … his date showed up.
She was kinda mousey, nothing I couldn’t handle, and I could tell it wasn’t serious. That night I got home, sank into an easy chair, and told my roommate Jane, So I met a guy….
But then he didn’t make it to my crazy global warming birthday party the following weekend (man, those were the days), and then I was hit by an SUV and was out of commission for a month, so we didn’t see each other ‘til Halloween. Jane and I were absolutely not going to go out ‘cause we had a 4 am wake-up call the next day to leave for PA to canvass for Obama. But our third roomie, Andrea, coerced us. When I mentioned this guy I knew (M.) was throwing a party in the East Village, her eyes lit up. Little did we know that her real motive was to casually meet up with a guy she had just started dating who she knew would be out in Manhattan.
Anyhoo, long story long, Jane and I found our kitties in Wilkes-Barre, Obama was elected, and M. and I were just friends for the next few months. Friends who had a crush on each other for sure — though I have since learned he was very dismayed at the prospect of dating “a blogger,” cue maniacal laughter, and, for my part, he was growing this outlandish beard and dressing in overly formal clothing to counteract it and I was concerned he was one of those hipsters (turns out it was for a charity bartender competition and all is forgiven all around).
Then in January I was on a two-borough, three-party, fuck-the-blizzard tear with Andrea and the aforementioned guy (file under shit you would never dream of doing in your 30s), and we ended up at the 30th birthday party of the guy who introduced M. and me.
M. was behind the bar, clean-shaven and wearing a t-shirt, and I got a load of those pecs and biceps and that. was. that.
Moral of the story is, girls are just as lecherous as boys and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.
“The so-called ‘psychotically depressed’ person who tries to kill herself doesn’t do so out of quote ‘hopelessness’ or any abstract conviction that life’s assets and debits do not square. And surely not because death seems suddenly appealing. The person in whom Its invisible agony reaches a certain unendurable level will kill herself the same way a trapped person will eventually jump from the window of a burning high-rise. Make no mistake about people who leap from burning windows. Their terror of falling from a great height is still just as great as it would be for you or me standing speculatively at the same window just checking out the view; i.e. the fear of falling remains a constant. The variable here is the other terror, the fire’s flames: when the flames get close enough, falling to death becomes the slightly less terrible of two terrors. It’s not desiring the fall; it’s terror of the flames.”—
A number of people are posting on Facebook and Twitter that if only he knew how loved he was, he never would have taken his life. A video from his film World’s Greatest Dad in which he describes suicide as a permanent solution to a temporary problem has been making the rounds, captioned with the likes of “he should have taken his own advice.” If only… If only…
But depression doesn’t work that way. It doesn’t work in any way that’s comforting or reassuring or filled with lessons.
I’m reminded of my dear friend Fiona’s wisdom in the face of her brother’s (my ex-boyfriend’s) suicide. She described his depression as ”a debilitation, mentally. It blocks off certain parts of the person’s vision.”
"One thing I’ve found in coping with this, is that I’m amazed at how my mind doesn’t allow me to be overwhelmed by everything at once," says Fiona. "So when I think about Cian, I think about different aspects of it. My mind finds a way to strategise it, I suppose, in order to get around that. That’s a survival mechanism. Depression, I think, is almost the opposite of that, because you are overwhelmed by all of the negative thoughts."
If you think about it as losing the ability to strategize around and through overwhelming emotions, you understand that a person can know that he is loved, and kill himself anyway.
a) how long you are pregnant for. I hear a lot of people saying pregnancy is 10 months because they do this math: 40 weeks divided by 4 weeks = 10 months — but, of course, months aren’t 4 weeks (unless they’re February). Nine months is accurate, especially when you consider that REAL pregnancy is only 38 weeks. Which brings me to…
b) when to begin counting the start of pregnancy. Now you think this part would be easy but nope. When you actually do the deed and the fertilized egg embeds bowchickawow, you are already TWO WEEKS PREGNANT. Wow! Amazing! But that’s ‘cause they count from your last period (rather than some unknown date of insemination), which earlier in my pregnancy I found kinda cheaty (how was I already 5 weeks pregnant the moment it was confirmed?). Now I don’t notice those two extra weeks.
c) what month you are. When people ask me how many months along I am, I am baffled as to how to respond. If we counted it like we count birthdays, I am six months pregnant — meaning I just completed my sixth month. But we tend to reset the pregnancy month at the beginning of the month, which would make me seven months pregnant. I go with that answer because, as I said, it seems to be what other people do and my belly looks “seven months.” But that means I’ll be “9 months pregnant” one month before the baby is due. Which is confusing. WHY IS THIS SO CONFUSING?
d) how to divide trimesters. Ok now we’re just getting dense. Some people say the third trimester begins at 27 weeks; my doctor and most others say 28. But that leaves 12 weeks to go and um 40 divided by 12 is not three (38 divided by 12 is not three!). I am 27 weeks (plus one day) right now and I am feeling VERY THIRD TRIMESTER. I would like my third trimester cred, please!
This post brought to you by a pregnant lady with way too much time on her hands.
(Last night I couldn’t sleep ‘cause I was panicked they made a mistake and the baby’s actually a boy — despite having triple-checked the “potty shot” sonogram just yesterday to be sure the “three little lines” were (still) there. I could do this shit ‘til the cows come home — thank goodness pregnancy is only nine months.)
You guys! I am truly pregnant. People give me their seats on the subway and everything (not every time, of course — what do you think this is, Sweden?).
I’ve continued to have a ridiculously easy time of it, though I have learned that no one gets through pregnancy unscathed. My skin, which was doing so great, suddenly erupted with zits last month and that really bummed me out because without my usual Micro Retin-A and in-office peels, a few scars formed in their wake. I gotta get married with this face in 11 months! My dermatologist assures me we can do a quick series of peels post-breastfeeding and I’ll be blushing-bride-ready. But unfortunately that means we’ve got a vanity cutoff on breastfeeding, baby. Either that or I say fuck it. Which may just be my motto for motherhood.
I’ve been seeing a chiropractor for the inevitable soreness that accompanies one’s pelvis pretzeling out of shape, a dentist for a new mouthguard to combat pregnancy anxiety night-grinding, and a cardiologist to monitor my heart in light of my birth-mother’s fatal late-pregnancy heart failure (my health insurance must love me). On Monday I had an echocardiogram — an ultrasound of the heart — and it was sobering, lying on my side in a darkened room, watching four chambers beat in time. Our happiness rests on so little.
I have never liked the feeling of my own pulse.
But — the results were positive; my heart is strong, and we have no reason to worry.
Still, we will all be glad when she is safely delivered.
And that brings me to happier thoughts — the delivery. Months ago my future-father-in-law, an anesthesiologist, told me he didn’t want me indulging in any of this midwife or home-birth funny business. “And when they offer you an epidural, take it!”
Never having been the kind of person to refuse drugs before, I can’t imagine suddenly doing so in childbirth. (He also told me that in the thousands of births he’s worked on he’s seen that refusing epidurals can actually slow down the process — the exact opposite of what you read online from ‘natural birth’ advocates. The idea being that the pain cramps you up, I suppose. I have no idea which is true but I did enjoy hearing an anesthesiologist’s perspective, particularly one whose only dog in this fight is a successful and smooth delivery of an already-adored granddaughter. And yay, drugs.)
Her room is coming together — at least in my mind, and soon enough in reality. I will share pics, of course.
On Saturday my aunts threw me a baby shower in St. Paul. Never having been a bride, the experience was totally new to me — new and awesome.
(I wore white because I am a mother-to-be, a bride, and a virgin. Not entirely sure why I look stoned.)
It was easily one of the most creative and fun showers I’ve witnessed and deserves its own post — just as soon as I get those photos (DAD :).
Gena is throwing me a shower brunch at home in a couple weeks and then a couple weeks after that Andrea and Peter are throwing us an engagement party at Clover Club. Oh and we’re technically getting married tomorrow at City Hall. Wheeee!
The end is in sight; from time to time I even forget what week I am. August and September will whiz by; October will be a heavy-hipped slog but at least there will be autumn in the air.
From time to time us OG Tumblrs ask ourselves the important questions: what amazing feats would I have accomplished had I not wasted so much fucking time on this site? and what the hell is Julia Allison up to these days, anyway?
And oh god I’m glad that second question popped into my brain this late afternoon (muscling out the question of whether I will pick up a hot dog on the way to the chiropractor because duh, of course I will) … ‘cause it turns out she is planning to marry herself at Burning Man later this month and if that ain’t the most perfect thing I’ve heard today.
You may find the voice familiar. As smooth as honey, with just the right bit of grit. Here and there, you might think it sounds like Sam Cooke. And you wouldn’t be wrong. It’s his younger brother, L.C., whose first studio album was delayed fifty years. Today, Cooke, at 81, is finally releasing his debut The Complete SAR Records Recordings, done in 1964.
Amazing! Click through to listen to “Put Me Down Easy” with what certainly sounds like both Cooke brothers.
hi nora, read your post on drinking during pregnancy & different country's advisement regarding this issue. as I as watched a French film this weekend: Making Plans for Lena, I was amazed how even TODAY French women still smoke during pregnancy, & blatantly! I have seen preg. French women smoking in films previously and realize their culture seems to think it is alright, or rather OK with the facts that it may cause low birth weight, but def. a different view in our cultures. Interesting.
Sooo interesting, isn’t it? I always think of the hugely pregnant working class Irish girls smoking fags outside the pregnancy center I lived near on the north side of Dublin. “Keeps the birth weight down!” they’d joke. Or, not joke.
I gave up smoking nearly 7 years ago but continued socially smoking ‘til just before I got pregnant. The smell of smoke totally grosses me out right now — I hold my breath and cover my nose whenever I see a lit cigarette — which I take as my body saying, Steer clear! Bad for baby!
But there are other French/international things I am doing in spades. Like eating certain cheeses. I just can’t get myself worked up about raw or fresh cheeses, or small amounts of (really high quality) raw fish. I ate a raw oyster or two when pregnant until my pregnant food writer friend explained that while she’s taking a similarly liberal approach to eating, oysters have a naturally occurring bacteria than can cause (very rarely) miscarriage, but is harmless when you’re not pregnant. So, oysters are out.
Not to be blase about it but healthy babies get born in the millions. My thought process is usually, if I lost the baby, what would I regret having done? And then avoiding that.
Have you had any alcohol during your pregnancy? I'm not asking to wag my finger, just that you obviously have a modern take on life and everything, so I was curious. I just found out I'm pregnant and haven't told anyone yet, and I don't think a glass of wine here or there would cause any harm, and my doctor agrees, but obviously people are judgy. Just wondering about your experiences in terms of food restrictions, etc.
Congratulations! And great question. This is something near and dear to my heart (because alcohol is near and dear to my heart).
Short answer: yes, I am drinking, but I had very little in the first trimester (like: 3 oz beer and maybe 8 oz wine, total). I was nervous about miscarriage, as everyone is.
These days I am going by both my doctor’s and the UK National Health Service's alcohol recommendations for pregnant women — 1-3 glasses of wine a week is not a problem (and may actually be beneficial in that a relaxed mommy is a healthy mommy). The US Surgeon General still says no alcohol and I'm sure will continue to do so for some time — despite something like 60% of American doctors now saying small amounts of alcohol in pregnancy is fine — because we're a pretty conservative country, and it's ethically challenging to conduct controlled clinical trials of limited alcohol consumption. (Even my cardiologist says 3 glasses of wine a week is fine, and I am potentially at a very small risk for heart complications in pregnancy, because that’s what my birth-mom died of.)
I’m staying away from hard alcohol because just the smell of it turns my stomach — and wine is the best. (But not gonna lie, one glass of rose DOES NOT CUT IT and ugh I cannot wait for that two-glass buzz again!)
As for judgy people, I’ve experienced a little bit of it, always from older people whose own mothers, ironically enough, probably drank without guilt when they were in the womb. The American medical establishment came down really hard on alcohol and caffeine in pregnancy in the last generation (when we were born), so I find myself constantly educating Baby Boomers and up on what we’re allowed to do now. (Which includes 8-10 oz of coffee a day, god bless.)
Whenever I feel a teensy bit guilty I remember the words of a friend of mine, who gave birth to a very healthy and very big baby girl one year ago — “My only regret with my pregnancy is not drinking more.” Meaning, don’t feel guilty about your glass. Enjoy your pregnancy!
Noted. (Hopefully our baby won’t refuse to nurse, as I did, cause that’s my whole weight loss plan — just like every (disingenuous) Victoria’s Secret model and starlet who’s had a baby in the past five years. Oh, I just breastfed….)