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Saturday, June 29, 2002

Sara: Confessions of a Bridezilla


Folks have enjoyed the (desperately-in-need-of-an-overhaul) Sewing Confession Booth over at sewgeeky.com for years. And now brides can have that same fresh feeling!

Come on over and confess!
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Sara: Ooooh, we have a heckler!

Acidman is entirely unimpressed with my humble blog. I don't think he gets the point of this at all, so I'm not going to bother to defend myself. If you came here via his link, welcome, have a look around. If you're looking for wedding stuff to snark on, you'll get bored a few entries in when we (the guy whose genitalia are such a concern for Mr. A. posts here as well) start going into detail about our trip to Bonnaroo. The regular stuff picks back up again around here.

As always, though, this kind of thing gets me thinking about how I am in the world, specifically about cynicism and flippancy, both of which are cozy places for me. It's so easy to be cynical; I did it for years and years and years and was so brittle I thought my bones would snap, and even wished that they would. Being split entirely open by love - love for and from the Dennis, love for and from God, love for and from the people who held those brittle bones together - has been the most difficult and painful experience of my life. It's like living in a spiritual burn ward, getting all of the old skin scraped off every day and exposing bits of myself that I didn't think were fit for the daylight. I'm awake and alive and a most joyful girl, though, and it is all worth it. Be a cynic, but know that it is the lazy way around the mountain, and certainly doesn't move you up to where the good stuff is.

So, that's where I'm coming from. This blog is my celebration of the love I've been blessed with, even if a few lines taken out of context don't show that. I'm thrilled to be marrying Dennis, happy that our community supports us in this, and so very grateful that life is full of second, third, and fourth chances whether we deserve them or not.
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Sara: There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in.

I have in fact slipped into a bit of a funk. Am trying to pull out of it but with a low success level. All the negativity coming my way takes it out of me after a while. Even though it's easy to see that most of the people who have a problem with the site have Other Serious Issues that prevent them from seeing me as I am, it still bugs me to be misunderstood. This isn't about the comments from Acidman or from this blog, it's about the way I react to a perceived attack. So far, I'm not impressed.

I need to be able to let criticism that doesn't matter slide, while allowing the stuff that has some truth to it to pierce me and start bouncing around so there can be transformation. Might as well hone those discernment skills on something that isn't life or death, like whether or not people like Going Bridal. Which is about as far from life or death as you can get.

This question of figuring out which messages to listen to is something I've been dealing with for a while, though; going from being a dot-com HTML monkey with an effective consituency of about 6 people in my office to working in a church where I belong to a lot more people, all of whom need something different from me, has been a struggle sometimes. I bounce between taking everything far too personally at one extreme, and not listening to criticism at all on the other extreme. I haven't been spending a lot of time in the middle area and that needs to change. It's not about developing a thicker skin, it's just setting up the right kind of filters.

And that is quite enough navel gazing for one day. Ooooh, lint!

Dennis just called and cheerfully told me that he spent the day cleaning out his closets and storage spaces to make room for me. I'm not moving in 'til after the wedding, but he's excited and wants to be sure I feel completely welcome. I'm really looking forward to living with him. He has a great one bedroom place in a fourplex on the Berkeley/Oakland border. It already feels like Our Place. The landlord doesn't care what we do, so we're going to paint and make other improvements between now and May. Ikea is going to be our friend for sure, since we'll need to devise storage for all of my sewing stuff, out of the way of Clyde the Curious Kitty. Ryan and I have been hitting antique shows and garage sales, though, so maybe something with a bit more character will present itself and we'll be saved from laminate.

He found an ancient emergency kit in his storage shed today. Apparently the person who put the kit together thought that, in an actual emergency, the primary crisis would be a lack of canned yams. He threw out multiple cans of past-their-prime yams. There was no can opener. I guess someone slept better at night knowing the yams were there. Maybe the kit wasn't even about earthquakes; maybe the person who put it there lived in constant fear of unexpected guests at Thanksgiving dinner.
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Friday, June 28, 2002

Sara: Arrrrrr

For the past day, there has been much discussion of tasty baked/salted/spiced/sugared nuts in my favorite message board. That was making me want some, and then this afternoon Ryan mentioned that we could make some baked almonds for the wedding. When the same idea comes at me from two different directions, I try to pay attention. So, I'll be having yummy nuts at the wedding, or at least nuts will be produced for the wedding. If they're stored at my house, I can't make any promises about them still being around by then! I think Fort Knox would be an appropriate place to keep them if they're going to last. Of course, now we have to start the difficult project of finding the best recipe. We're also trying to come up with a good excuse for a tea party so we can start testing foofy sandwich ideas.

[the Sea Captain has nothing to do with this whatsoever, but I can't think of the words Salty Nuts without hearing an Arrrrrr on the end of it, so there he is. Straight from my subconscious mind to you.]

Today's unspeakably hilarious thing from Satire Wire: One nation, (sponsorship opportunities available)
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Wednesday, June 26, 2002

Sara: They tell me miracles abound now more than ever

Sometimes you throw yourself into the sea of faith, and the sharks of doubt come and they devour you.
Other times you throw yourself into the sea of faith only to find the treasure lost in the shipwreck inside of you!
There ain't no guarantees, none of that nonsense like on tv, just gotta roll the dice, and take your lumps.
You're gonna get yourself knocked down, so better learn to stand back up, for those who dwell on disaster let sorrow be their master.
Me, I got 10 miles to go on a 9 mile road and it's a rocky rough road, but I don't care.
'Cause life's nothing if not a blind rambling prayer, you keep your head held high, a'walking and a'talking 'til the power of Love deliver you there.

That's from the Jim White song that has been in my head all day. Hear it.

I'm enjoying getting back into my life in a post-Bonnaroo world. It was good to be at work today, although a bit chaotic because we're in the middle of Vacation Bible School this week and there are many many extra kids running about singing another song that got stuck in my head today, about this being the day the Lord has made. I am indeed rejoicing and being glad in it, so I guess some of it rubbed off on me. [and caused me to think this article from today's Onion is really funny]

I think the vision for the wedding is shaping up. The ceremony will be at 2:00, and last an hour or a little more (full Eucharist), then everyone goes over to the hall for tea. I'm thinking a billion fussy little sandwiches and pastry bits and tea and punch and wine and lemonade (considering how happy a cup of lemonade could make us in the fields at Bonnaroo, I think we need to have lemonade at our wedding) and asparagus with dip and some meat-based tidbits and of course Leigh's contribution to the world of Cakes That Do Stuff.

I'm so much more at peace now that we've decided on this kind of reception, and not a huge dinner that we can't really afford. Or could afford, but only by cutting our guest list drastically and I don't want to do that. I've worked really hard to be surrounded by such wonderful people and dammit they're all going to be invited to this wedding. Everyone is local except my family, who will arrive early to toil in the Sandwich Mines. I'm excited that they're so eager to help, plus doing projects together will give us some sit-down time. I'm looking for recipes that can be made ahead and stuffed in the freezers and refrigerators of everyone I know. People will quake when they see me coming with ziploc bags, oh yes they will.

I've started doing embroidery for my corset. See it!
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Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Sara: Back to weddings!

I hope you all enjoyed our detour into The Bonnaroo Diaries, but of course we're here to talk wedding. Back at it.

I picked up Southern Living Weddings at the airport newsstand. Overall, decent wedding porn, with snark-worthy details such as a bride whose wedding monogram/logo thing (since when is a wedding a brand? Thank you for enjoying this day with Sara & Dennis™) was appliqued onto the altar cloth at the church. Putting bride-centric imagery at the altar creeps me right out.

There are some recipes in there that would be worth trying. The curried chicken salad tea sandwiches sound yummy, and so do some of the punch recipes. There's also a good article about handmade invitations, including a photo of some which have a monogram (not a logo!) embroidered on a satin ribbon that goes around the invitation. Hmmmm. I have an embroidery machine. Perhaps I will play with this idea for the ceremony programs.

I had CNN on this morning and they had the head chick from The Knot on, and instead of smacking her on the head and asking why their message board interface is so lame, they talked about bridezillas. It wasn't all that edifying, but they had a really great plastic Godzilla dressed up in a fluffy white dress and I coveted it big time.

Jon and Ryan picked us up at the airport tonight and we went to Berkeley for yummy Mexican food. It's nice to be home again.
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Monday, June 24, 2002

Sara: Escape from Bonnaroo

We got out! We went back to the tent after Norah (amazing show...) and there was a way to get the car out of the campsite, so we speed-packed and got ourselves out of there. There was a bit of congestion getting out of the festival site, but once we were on the freeway, all was smooth and easy. We were almost to Chattanooga when I realized that Dennis was entirely too worn out to drive us back to Knoxville. I wasn't registered as a driver on the rental car, so I couldn't take the wheel.

My solution was to pull off the road and find a motel. And did we ever! We stayed at Frick's Motel, whose neon wasn't exactly in great shape. It read ick's Motel. Anyway, we hit a drive-thru for food and were asleep within a few minutes of getting into our room.

We're back with my family now, and MacKenzie is trying to get Dennis into the pool with her.
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Dennis: Volunteer this, buddy ! (Another report from the wilds of Tennesse)

Now where did we leave off...

Dashing off to Karl Denson's Tiny Universe I found the tent stage area mostly empty. The massive crowd, by then swelled to nearly capacity at nightfall, were mainly gathering at the other tent stage for Keller Williams backed by String Cheese, comedic jam bluegrass, which I was glad to skip. It didn't stay empty long and by the late start at 12:30 am it was an ocean of people. This happened a lot at Bonnaroo. One moment I'm standing in wide open space and suddenly I can't see the edges of where I'm at for all the bodies jammed around me. Created some odd tensions for us with the heat and dust and the humanity, oh the humanity. But I hit a revelation about my own relationship to this scene, to this music which I'll talk about later.

The funk juggernaut that is KDTU (that's hip jamband slang for the band...) made the crowd levitate from note one. Seriously, the energy coming off the stage hit one like a blow that seeped into your body & spirit. Didn't hurt that they opened with their tribute to african musician Fela Kuti, a thunderous soul clap called Elephants Have Big Feet. 25 minutes later they paused mere seconds and then right back into it for 2 hours straight. Never a dip in the HUGE buzz coming off the 5 guys on stage. And though delighted by what I was hearing the full measure of my weariness jumped me like Mister Sleep himself had tapped me on the shoulder. At the set break we staggered through the now enormous Tent City and slept a night full of odd dreams of fireworks and freaks...

Sidenote: Mister Denson and his boys played until 5:30 am by the time the final encore wrapped. He then put in more guest appearences at the festival than just about anyone. Though pedal steel whiz and all around amazing human being Robert Randolph gave the brutha a run for his money.

Saturday we'd resolved to find a shady spot and make that base camp for all the daylight activities. Even without the extreme heat the bloody mugginess is a strength killer. Our spot was a shade tent at the very back of the biggest outdoor stadium. It also housed one of the mist makers scattered around the grounds. No showers but a light, cool shimmer of water. It helped. We were just out of range of the water to be dry AND cool. Even the occassional shift in wind gave us a hint of water on the breeze. Delightful and collectively dubbed THE finest place to watch music at the festival by all of us who'd figured it out.

That it was also a stone's throw from this hellaciously good BBQ joint on wheels did not hurt. And on the note of food, we ate like royalty the whole time. Soft warm breakfast quesadillas, orangeade ices, mad good hot wings, a vegie burrito with marinated tofu that made me think of how even Vegan Lars would have eaten well. Between the vendors and our own stash of apples, bananas, granola bars and the low rent croissant & beef jerky sandwich I introduced Sara to, well, I felt truly well fed everyday.

Now for the music on Day 2...

Two non-starts began the day for me and made me a bit pessimistic about what I'd gotten myself into. Blackalicious came out and announced that their rapper, Gift of Gab, couldn't be there for health reasons (he's diabetic and hurt his foot real bad 3 weeks back so needed to rest). Just a fairly plain DJ set from Cheif X-Cel. He's got crazy skills at making samples into music but he didn't move the crowd at all. Then Ben Harper comes out. I had been dubious of a solo act, any solo act, being able to fill a space designed to hold 60,000 people at peak times. And I was right. Couldn't hear him at all unless you were directly in front of the stage and then only if you were less than a 100 feet out. He played soft, introspective material and I just wilted. Maybe it was the driving or the worry about Sara having a good time there or something. But I got really depressed. Wandered around after Sara got back from one of her daily Cyber Cafe visits (which I was charmed by...even in the country my girl loves her technology).

When I came back Cut Chemist was just about to start his DJ set. He laughs into the mic and says, "I want to dedicate this battle of man vs. nature in the next hour to all the trees they cut down to make the roads into here. And to the wind." As if on cue a big blast of wind came up and you see how it rolled over the sunshiny crowd, cooling them as it passed their way. The first sound to emerge from his turntables was Laurie Anderson's O Superman. I was stunned. What a weird, perfectly cool choice. And then the beats came in. He layered so many sounds and interesting rhythms onto that song I know it will never be the same for me again. The rest of his set was equally unpredictable. Between obscure hip hop gems and ethereal electro excursions (love dat alliteration...) he made room for the Stones' Can't You Hear Me Knocking and the Beach Boys' Vegetables.

Standing in the field barefoot I let myself sink into the earth, yoga style. I started to think how long it had been since I'd touched the earth, how long since I'd had an afternoon to just sit around staring at clouds and people and bubbles and tie-dyed babies (and tie dyed babes for that matter). Out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of one of the many freshly-made-in-front-of-your-own-eyes lemonade stands. It had made both Sara & I feel revived on Friday so I thought it might do the trick again. When a small slice of genuine happiness can be purchased for $3 dollars then I'd call that a bargain...

From that point on the music never dipped below mind blowingly great. Not for one act of the many I saw in the next day & a half. The desire to show off, to really knock one out of the park was evident in every musician's face. But once they hit their stride a few songs into their set they relaxed, breathed in some confidence and let themselves soar. It was inspirational to see artists live like this. Yeah, inspirational, there is no other word that fits.

String Cheese came on and provided the ideal hit of Colorado cultivated positivity that I think everyone out in the Stadium field wanted, maybe even like me, needed. Kicked it off with a jumpin' take on Aerosmith's Walk This Way. There is such joy in their sound and the crowd soaked it up and reflected it back to them. By far the finest audience for any show we saw there. You actually stretch out your hand and feel the love in the air.

A few songs into their 2 1/2 set they bring out, "A man who helped inspire us to become a band." A tall skinny white dude sits down next to keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth. They dip into the saucy Latinismo and the dude is knocking me out with his Horace Silver style piano chops and they move slowly into a faster jam. The minute he opened his mouth I knew who was up there with them. Steve Winwood. His voice is as pure and powerful as ever and the version of his I'm A Man was the stuff of legend. Karl Denson popped out to add just a touch mo' soul to the proceedings and then stuck around for a few more numbers since the music flows from him in mighty rivers and cannot be stopped after just a few minutes once you turn him on...

On light feet after SCI (more jamband acronym stuff) we split before Widespread Panic came on to kick it tent side until a late night gig. The earlier tensions in the day resurfaced as we walked and by the time we were back by our stuff we'd moved into one of those serious talks we excel at. It was one of those times where we held up those deep dark truthful mirrors (thanks to Elvis Costello for that phrase) and got down to some reality. It's hard to love things more than your partner does and it's clear Sara isn't nearly as captured by this music or this enviroment as I am. And I was picking up on that. When it all boiled down the the nitty AND the gritty we found ourselves a place of compromise for the future, a place of greater honesty, a place of hope even when we keep saying there isn't any hope. She opted for a full blown night of sleep in our cozy blue tent and sent me off to Moe's late night performance (one of the main lures of this festival for me to begin with)...
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Dennis: Just a song before I go (last field report from the Southern wilds)

Hadn't mentioned earlier that the dusty trail from our tent area known as Camp Barbarino was a 1/4 mile plus from the stages/main center o' things. All the camp areas were listed on an extensive pocket map to aid us in finding our way home, all had amusing names/themes including Camp Chrissy & Camp Tripper or my favorite Camp Barracus where one pities the fool who doesn't sleep there...

I high tailed it to the Moe stage and found a mob already assembled a half hour before the show began. Being on my own I just weaved my way into the back end of the tent and immediately found myself surrounded by very nice young guys, all wide eyed recent converts to this type of extended improvisational music. As such they bubbled with excitement over every detail which only served to bring out the uber music geek in me. Talking we figured that between the 4 of us we covered points at far reaches of the entire north american continent. We laughed at how we'd all stretched our lives & bank accounts to attend this thing. But it meant something more than just a mere concert to us. The music had brought us here and our hopes for something unique, something truly extradionary brought us to this place. Inside the crucible of audience and stage and darkness and sound sometimes things truly do become much more than their base materials.

I have often felt embarassed about how much I love music and the live musical experience in particular. Without a doubt my passion for music is irrational, unreasonable and certainly childlike at times (though hopefully not childish...). But standing amongst 5,000 or so like minded people I realized something about myself: It's okay to love this stuff this much. There are so many opportunities for sadness in this world, for disappointment and frustration and despair. And there's just not enough things on the side of joy to always balance this dynamic out. So when we find these things that make us happy beyond belief we might want to embrace them. I silently promised myself that I wouldn't pretend to be cool or distant or any less giddy about the music I love again. Sure I'll keep the endless setlist rambling go with those not of the flock. Maybe some of you don't need to hear about the virtues of past two drummers in KDTU. I respect that. But just know that the minutae and footnotes and personal revelries delight me.

Then the lights went out.

Moe went on to play two 2 hour sets and a 1 hour encore. That's just numbers. What really happened for those that rode it out was a ritual that tested limits of body and space and time. Just as the moe boys operated on the outside edges of what they are capable, the gathered masses helped them make this music, gave them ears to listen to what they create. Each set only consisted of maybe 6-7 songs but they explored them in ways that made each seem new to me. The guests just brought out the best in them and let them see their own music in new light; Robert Randolph turning everyone's head with his unrehearsed improving on Head at the end of the first set (seriously Rob Derhak, moe's bassist, starting laughing with delight watching Randolph) or String Cheese's Michael Kang & Travis pushing the outer limits of two songs in the encore. Each set was a solid block of music, never a pause between each tune, only a seamless exploratory yearning that moved everything forward. From the fabulous opening Plane Crash through oddly funky new material and on through favorites that had all of us ruining what was left of our voices by singing along at the top of our lungs, it all was wonderful. More a rite than a concert and as such this music at its very very best.

Towards the end of the 2nd set I wondered for the first time what time it was. My answer came in the form of a skyline I will never forget. Out of the back left corner of the tent was the Tennesse sky brightening ever so sublety. Dawn was nearly here. I took a leap into the air and let the music take me for more than another 90 minutes. When it came to a close, the band thanked us for taking this journey with them. Their words not mine. I turned to T.J. (one of the 19 year old guys I was hanging with) and said, "Well that certainly was something." We smiled, hugged, said a silent goodbye and went out into the early light towards our temporary homes. I think it was a moment of idiot eloquence so I share it with you.

Sleep didn't come due to a gaggle of local hayseeds who were drinking at 6:00 am and loudly dishing all the people around them (most of whom were trying to sleep in tents RIGHT NEXT TO THEM). It was a sharp contrast to the friendly, generous cocoon I'd just emerged from (at the moe show people shared water & pipes & beers & hugs very freely). As I lay there on the air mattress next a softly snoring Sara a thought popped into my head. It was one that had first come to me the previous afternoon at String Cheese: If human beings can make sounds like this then there may be hope for us yet.

I truly believe in the power of music to unite people. Call me an old hippy if you must but there's something to this idea and I got to see it first hand a few times during the past 3 days. Put people in the right space and the right mind frame and make them dance (that's important) then good things happen. Maybe not always what one expects but it happens. And suddenly all the differences and short comings and ugliness melt away and it's easier to love people, easier despite themselves, easier despite our own stuff that holds us back from a life of joy & substance. It was a lovely thing to ruminate on as sleep eluded me.

Sunday, put simply, was one of the greatest days of my sweet short life. Sara and I had this amazing connection from the moment she opened her eyes. This happens everytime we push past our old crap, push through to Truth buried far below our self deception & fear. The music just fed this feeling. Robert Randolph and The Family Band delivered a gospel fueled performance that made even the shaggiest hippy throw their hands in the air and shout a prayer to the skies. Aided by Luther Dickinson on several tunes the holy church blues drew in anyone that happened by. It had that kind of power, the kind of power actual churches only rarely possess. That man manages to testify on his pedal steel guitar in a way that by-passes words. It's like having a musical lightning rod for the divine. Sara leapt into the air several times in undisguised joy. Tremendous to behold.

Enjoyed the heavy blues of the North Mississippi All Stars (Luther Dickinson is the real mojo hand carrying real deal I tell you what...)and the delicate banjo & standup bass duets of Bela Fleck & Edger Meyer. But knowing we wanted to leave before Trey Antipasto (that's Les Claypool's name for him and I intend to keep using it...) we opted out of seeing Phil & Friends. Being honest I rarely enjoy that band when Bob Weir sits in with them and Warren Haynes being off in Chicago just made the choice not to go that much easier. Having avoided the mobs at the Stadium we set up early in the Theatre tent. Early enough to catch a fantastic little group called the Gabe Dixon Band (they recall Ben Folds Five but with more color to their sound) and early enough to avoid the flash rainstorm that would have hit us. Five minutes later the skies were blue & bright again. What a state !

Then Norah Jones and her supremely talented band came out. A little baffled by their inclusion in this festival they stepped up and played a set that showcased their instrumental prowess and their finesse with the carefully built catalog they perform. It was graceful and lovely and calming after all the bigness of the previous acts I'd seen. When they pulled out the "Tennesse Waltz" for their final number Sara and I slow danced outside the tent. It was a perfect note to end our time in a field in Manchester so we made for the car and nearly skipped with joy when we saw we could make our way out. It was intense and dirty and I felt like I could burst with happiness.

I'd call that a pretty good vacation.
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Sunday, June 23, 2002

Sara: Sunday

I slept a lot yesterday, so now I'm ready for some dancing. Dennis was at moe. until the sun came up this morning; I was too tired to go at all. He was incandescent when he finally returned to the tent, so I'm sure there will be quite the review posted later if he gets near the computers.

I haven't been near a mirror in days, and that's probably a good thing. I brought some cheap short rayon dresses with me which are working out very well; they connect with my body at the shoulders only and I have a tank top on underneath, plus a pair of Dennis' boxer briefs. Yup, big confession, I'm wearing men's underwear. There's less thigh chafing involved. And that's more than you needed to know. Anyway, the fun thing about the cheap dresses is that they get longer as the day goes on. The one I was wearing on Friday grew about 6 inches in the back; it's probably a combination of getting them wet in the mist tents and the dresses being cut off-grain in the first place, but it amused me.

There's a lot of nudity, but it's as far from sexy as you can get. I'm not in a hurry to get up-close-and-personal with anything that has been in this environment. They were handing out condoms as we were leaving the show last night and the very idea of needing one was horrifying. Again, more than you probably wanted to know.

I love Dennis so much. I have been pretty close to tranq dart territory a few times on this trip, but he has handled it well. I'm so blessed.

Off to see some gospel and bluegrass this afternoon. We'll pop back to the 'net tent during Trey, when all will be a ghost town, for a full update and Dennis' reviews of the shows.
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Sara: ....and then the moon came out, and it was like Jerry willed it...

MST3K reference just for you, Ryan!

We were cracking open and sizzling in the sun, so I'm back in the air-conditioned net tent. It's just better.

I've developed a bit of an addiction here; they have carts selling hand-squeezed lemonade for $3 a glass. I have a lemon monkey on my back - I think I've had half a dozen of the things so far. Dennis keeps bringing them to me because he's fabulous.

Cheap dress #2 is also experiencing increased length, but only in the back - I look like I'm wearing an 80s prom dress. I keep wondering where my corsage is.

It's odd to be so completely away from my life. No one can reach us (well, except by email I suppose) and we are completely unable to be productive. I have had trouble adjusting to this concept, but I think it's finally sinking in. There is freedom in letting go, but sometimes its easier to just be bullheaded and hold on to things that aren't helping the situation. And then the tranq dart hits and everything is fine. Seriously, I brought the wrong head to this festival in a lot of ways. I've worried about the wrong things, and I've been overly focused on planning and worrying and being an anxiety fest on two dirty legs. It's been a humbling experience for me to realize that.

Back over to the tents for Norah Jones. We're skipping Phil Lesh, since we've seen him so many times in the past year or so. I'm looking forward to a nice mellow Norah show to get us through the rest of the afternoon.

It just started pouring while I've been writing this. Dennis is over in the Norah tent, but I have to forage across a river of mud. I suspect this new turn of events will lead to larger amounts of nudity. Naked people wallowing in the mud - next at Bonnaroo!
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