Re-entering the Default World


Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday
And I feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen

–Gary Jules/Mad World


Picket lines and picket signs
Don’t punish me with brutality
Talk to me
So you can see
What’s going on

–Marvin Gaye/What’s Going On


Returning from a vacation is always challenging. Kind of a bummer. It’s always hard to get back into productive employee mode, even if you like your job, but some years it’s worse than others.

The year Mark and I went to Burning Man, 2001, was one of those years.

It is always weird coming back to the real world after Burning Man. A lot of Burners refer to it as coming back to the Default World. Not the real world, but…the one we’re sort of stuck with. The one that we inherited. Burning Man is a completely custom world, rebuilt every year. It is a wild, wild, mind-altering ride. When you spend a week where everybody lives in a sort of dream state made physical, it changes the way you view the world. It’s a lot like a hallucinogen. Even once you’re off the trip, your vision and memory still retain traces of what you saw and lived under the influence.

The week we returned from 2001 Burning Man, with the playa dust barely out of our hair, Mark got laid off from work.

Still reeling from the layoff, then came 9/11 and the whole country was turned upside down. The Default World, has never seemed more surreal than 2001. In a lot of ways, the Default World has still not recovered.


We went back to work yesterday.


I’m crossing my fingers.

The Default World still appears to be there.

We’ll see how the week goes.


Time keeps on slippin’, slippin’, slippin’
Into the future

–Steve Miller/Fly Like An Eagle






Burningman art car 2000

Burningman 2000

Burningman 2000

Inside Michelle’s Brain, episode 4

Those of you who know me pretty well know that I love pretty much all music with the exception of Country and Hip-Hop. I have been known to have seizures when forced to listen to anything with a twang.

The other day in the car, I was singing along with Patsy Cline.

Husband: “What’s with the twangy music? You should be having seizures by now.”

Me: “It’s Patsy Cline. Patsy Cline doesn’t count.”

Husband: “This is about as twangy as it gets.”

Me: “But it’s Patsy Cline.”

Husband: clunks head on dashboard.


Getting a splinter out


I could easily forgive his pride, if he had not mortified mine.

–Jane Austen/Pride And Prejudice



Slide the weight from your shoulders and move forward. You are afraid you might forget, but you never will. You will forgive and remember.

–Barbara Kingsolver/The Poisonwood Bible


On the first day of our vacation, I got a huge splinter in my index finger. Right under my fingernail. Yeah. Ouch. It was a big jagged hunk of wood, and it stabbed in about halfway into my nail. It pulled out easily (ewwww) and bled copiously (ewww) and hurt like a sombitch. I figured it would be better in a day or two.

It wasn’t.

It wasn’t terrible, but it hurt in that constantly irritating throbbing sort of way. It  looked fine, aside from the blood blister under the nail, but it  hurt. More than it seemed like it should. It still hurt when we got home a week later.  Then the blood blister rose to the top and all the skin came off the top of my finger along with it. The other thing that came out along with the skin was a quarter inch sliver of wood that had been in my finger the whole time.

A few hours later, my finger was almost completely pain free.


I think emotional hurt and forgiveness also  work something like that.

An emotional or spiritual injury might leave a  sliver of hurt in you. Until you can bring it to the surface and remove it, it will always hurt. It might not keep you from getting on with your life, but it’s a kind of a nagging pain that keeps you from being completely well as a person.

For a long time, I thought there were some things that are unforgivable. I’m not so sure about that now. Maybe you can let go of something and forgive without accepting it in your life anymore. Just because you forgive an abuser, you do not have to continue to accept abuse. It doesn’t mean you necessarily trust someone untrustworthy. It means you let go of it. You don’t use your energy on hating. You stop hitting back, either at yourself or the person who hurt you.

Not that it’s easy. Especially if the sliver is still inside of you.

Before anything can heal, the emotional splinter has to be found and removed.

Just like a physical one.

You remove the splinter, and there’s immediately less pain.

When there’s less pain, you can forgive.

With love and thanks to anyone who has provided tweezers when needed.

And beer.