unreasonably ridiculous

Hi! Did you think I died of the R1 N1 NE1 Delta Plus Plus XL California Special variant of COVID? I did not. And in fact on Monday I'm getting the booster, because I work in an industry with High Occupational Exposure, which is to say I am frequently in close contact with West Hollywood woo woo anti-vax nut jobs who scoff out of their smug, entitled, unmasked faces when I politely inquire as to whether they've been vaccinated because, you know, they're endangering my entire team with their smug, entitled, unmasked mouths and noses. 

I tried to get the booster yesterday, but I was turned away because I'm still a week shy of the six month mark and Cedars Sinai was not having my rule breaking (and I respect that). But Monday I have a legit appointment and will be all boosted up for another several years months of this shit. LFG.

I have an assortment of adventures and updates to report on, precisely none of which are probably very interesting to anyone but myself, but let's pretend otherwise and plow ahead, shall we? Right.

I went to two festivals. One was an absolute delight and one of my favorites ever, and one was a slightly disastrous comedy of errors I still managed to wrangle a couple of good hours from. Beyond Wonderland was beyond wonderful and had some of the best overall music, production, design, and guest experience of any Insomniac fest I've been to. Just top notch. Then a few weeks later I skipped back up to San Bern for one day of Nocturnal Wonderland and oh boy was that a time. Laugh at me for a few paragraphs, will you?

The venue for Nocturnal is substantially further from the train station than the venue for Beyond. And I knew this. I've known this. I've been half a dozen times; always just grab an Uber off the train and no problem. What I forgot is that Uber and Lyft are no longer affordable, haven't been for months. I very, very rarely use them anymore in LA for this reason. But I had no other option once I landed in SB, and boom. $50 just to get to the festival - and that's on top of my $20 train ticket up, which is on top of my $30 shuttle ride back to the city afterward.

Trying not to think about this, I hop in with Doris, a sixty-something bottle blonde with a voice like sandpaper and predilection for AC/DC (and for keeping the windows open while barreling down the freeway at 75mph). Doris patiently waits in the drop-off queue to get me nice and close to the festival, making small talk I can't really hear over Back in Black. I just smile and nod at her rearview mirror, concentrating on getting festival ready (which means shimmying out of my pants, swiping on some lip gloss, and finger combing my windblown hair). 

It isn't until I've launched myself out of her backseat into the streaming masses that I realize two things simultaneously: 1. for some reason, this crowd is dressed a lot less...festively, and in fact, most people are wearing street clothes (which I absolutely am fucking not), and 2. it's a lot colder than the forecast led me to expect.

No problem, I think. Maybe I'm just feeling a little paranoid and chilly because the shrooms are kicking in. Oh did I forget to mention the shrooms I'd taken on the train? Let me now then mention the shrooms. Or shroom, rather, singular, because the thing I grabbed as an afterthought as I was leaving my apartment was the size of a cigarette butt, hardly anything big enough to seem problematical. (Narrator: it would indeed be problematical.)

Anyway, I know once inside I'll be surrounded by thousands of people similarly outfitted, so I'm not much bothered by that. But I am cold, and decide once I'm past security I'm definitely going to throw my pants back on. The fence net tights and dumb little white bikini bottoms I've got on are not gonna cut it once the sun sets.

Well, that was probably the last clearly constructed thought I had for the next four hours, because the tiny little nub of a psychedelic I had snacked on half an hour before was about to reprogram my entire itinerary, plans bedamned.

I pride myself on being someone who can handle her drugs. I can sense immediately when I've overdone it, and I know what to do in those instances. Get somewhere safe and comfortable, get some water, sit down, and ride it out. But holy shit. This thing grabbed me by the wrist just as I was walking downhill into the chaos of lights and sound and yanked me through its watery wavelength into a state of melting, staggering disorientation. That's a little intense when you've got 40,000 scampering, screaming ravers bumping into you from every direction. 

Dealing with a locker (which I'd paid for) was out of the question. I knew fumbling with a combination lock and trying to keep straight what I was putting in vs. what I was taking out would do me in. Chances were I'd leave my phone and bag on the ground right in front of it anyway. So I resigned to shouldering my backpack until I found my sea legs, getting the lay of the land so I could find my sets, and taking it slow.

But first: pants!

I set my bag (a super lightweight cinch sack made of parachute fabric) down and reached in to pull out my cozy, soft, favorite Monrow sweats. Won't these feel lovely and be so comforting right now, I thought. 

Oh fuck. Oh no. My pants. I left my pants in the Uber. Doris has my fucking pants in her backseat. 

NO PROBLEM, I think. I got this. I am hardcore. I decide to just rock my hoodie, which totally covers the bikini bottoms, and which combined with the barely-there fence net tights makes it questionable whether I'm even dressed from the waist down at all. I am now essentially Porky Pigging it around the fucking festival, but at least it is dark, and at least, let's be real, I am tripping way too hard to care much anyway.

I find my way to the stage I know I'll be spending most of the night at only to find it faces a small hill. The entire viewing area is raked on a not terribly small slope, meaning there is really no level place to stand unless I want to be sandwiched in close up front - which I definitely do not. It's about this time a couple of negative mental loops kick in, making it impossible for me to get physically or psychologically comfortable:

a) I realized that since I didn't dare mess with a locker, I wouldn't be able to charge my phone (the lockers have hookups for cell phones). And if I couldn't charge my phone, it would be dead by the time I got back to LA and needed an Uber from USC to my apartment. I might very well be stranded and have to hoof it home. Not impossible, but a solid 45 minute walk. With. No. Pants.

b) The hill I was standing on was completely throwing me off. I had no spatial stability and I kept catching myself facing slightly away from the stage, like an insane person. Eventually the shrooms eased up enough that I found this hysterical, but for the first little while I felt trapped in a fun house with 0% fun.

All this being said, the lights and sounds were amplified in a way that was just stunning. I was almost in tears at one point, my senses were so enraptured. But it was hairy, ngl. I briefly considered bailing and eating a $200 Uber just to get back home and crawl into bed. But #adventure. I only have so many of these festivals left in me, and I'll be goddamned if a little forest fungi is gonna ruin one of them. 

It leveled out. But I was still cold and overly high, and desperately needed to dance it off. Only that was impossible because of the stupid hill we were situated on. I found a little spot off to the side where I could set my bag down under a big tree-sized glowing mushroom (so meta!), and that worked okay except for the fact that people kept coming up and asking if I'd take their photo under the mushroom. I was like Yo I can barely see this dimension much less your tiny phone screen but let's do this. 

After Spencer Brown's set (which was just straight glorious), I explored a little bit, but there wasn't much other music that really did it for me and I couldn't find a groove. I met a few people, but I was underwater and they were on dry land, so I couldn't really connect with them. Eventually I trusted my cognitive abilities enough to go take advantage of my prepaid locker and charge my phone. But I was terrified of missing my ride home, so I left the grounds a full hour before the city shuttle was meant to depart. The nice clipboard lady who checked me in was all "Where were you this morning?" and I had to explain that noon was much too early for me trek up, and sorry if you waited, but I had no way of letting you know I'd be taking the train up instead. 

(I'm skipping over the fact that the actual walk from the venue to the shuttles was an insane 30 minute hell hike alongside a freeway and over train tracks in the cold desert night wind. If I hadn't been shuffling along in a caravan of other exhausted revelers I definitely would have gotten lost and died of exposure. Don't forget to picture my sad, huddling walk WITHOUT PANTS.)

ANYWAY, I survived. I miraculously got an Uber at USC, didn't lose any other clothes, and finally made it to a bed I'd never in my life been so happy to curl up in. And I realize now it was probably lucky to start winding down my EDM festival career on a low note, so I'll have less FOMO when I finally do hang it up. 

All things happen for a reason, even for unreasonably ridiculous people like me. 

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I'm seeing Spencer Brown again this Saturday in Hollywood at a venue his music is absolutely made for. Super, duper excited. My three favorite of his tracks: