I don’t really watch horror movies or read horror novels, mostly because I don’t like how they make me feel and I’m not interested in gore or violence, but I enjoy scaring people. There’s something primal about scaring and being scared that I think has roots in the fact that we are all animals with no real predators.

I have the opportunity to scare with the Georgetown Morgue this season thanks to some friends and had my first scare last night which still has me pumped up from the rush this morning. I enjoy scaring because it gives me the rush of the hunt, and I think a lot of people come to the Morgue to feel the adrenaline rush of feeling hunted.

Thats me on the left

One of my favorite hobbies when I was a kid was scaring my little brother, mostly because my brother’s reactions were always so over the top. I later learned that my brother sometimes played up his reactions to get me in trouble (fake panic attacks, that little genius).

Thanks to my little brother, I learned the foundational elements of scaring and how to scare people.

The element of surprise

At the foundation of any good scare is the element of surprise, catching people when they least expect something is the easiest way to scare someone.

With my brother I would sometimes hide in a dark room for an hour waiting for him to walk into the room so I could scare him. At the haunt I got a lot of screams by standing behind a hidden door and ripping it open as soon as people entered the room, or standing in a dark corner and suddenly jerking alive when people started passing by me.

Phobias

Everyone has a fear, or at least most people do. When we look at the genre of horror we see a lot of tropes, and for good reason because there’s a good chance that someone is scared of that thing.

The next foundation of scaring is knowing (or guessing) what scares someone whether its clowns, spiders, doctors, aliens, monsters, hacksaw/chainsaw wielding maniacs, small spaces, heights, etc.

My brother’s fear was clowns, so scaring him was easy once I knew, but it took some trial and error with creepy dolls, fake spiders/snakes, and other random failures to narrow it down.

The Morgue uses a lot of these tropes in their characters as well as in the actual building itself. Once you get a reaction out of someone you know you’ve struck gold.

The fear of the unknown

The fear of the unknown is what makes haunted houses like the Georgetown Morgue so successful. The owner of the Georgetown Morgue told me that most people visiting the Morgue are going for the first time or bringing others there for the first time. The magic of the unknown is it causes our primate brains to go wild with imagination and pump our brains full of survival chemicals.

I remember my first visit to the Morgue very vividly a few years ago: the dark narrow winding and twisting halls, and the shock and confusion of the various scenes and interactions with the actors. Experiencing it when I had no previous knowledge is what made it absolutely terrifying: I had no notion of what was coming next.

Being a part of the Haunt was a completely different experience and allowed me to learn the layout, meet the actors, and the secret passages throughout the winding path. I’ll never be able to experience the Morgue the same way as the first time but now I’m on the other side.

I’ve been off the playa for almost a week, and I’ve had a few people ask me things like: What was your favorite thing you saw? Favorite experience? I’m struggling with how to answer that and felt obligated (in the moment) to give some kind of response.

It’s hard to sum up the total collection of thoughts and feelings I experienced on the playa into one moment in time. How do you measure a journey as a moment in time? How do you measure a rollercoaster of thoughts, energy, and emotion? I don’t have a simple answer because there isn’t a simple answer, all I have are a collection of learning lessons:

My body isn’t as flexible in extreme conditions. I knew this before living on the playa but I still tried to push myself regardless of my best instincts. I pushed myself into heat exhaustion on Tuesday and this almost cost me the rest of my burn. It took a few days of resting, recovery and a lesson to listen to what my body is telling me. If I’m too tired to dance or play then I probably need to cut back on activity and rest.

I like to be busy, I like to have a job, and I like to feel appreciated for my contributions. In fact, if I don’t feel appreciated I’ll (have a semi-breakdown and) move on to another job where I feel appreciated. Acceptance, and feeling welcomed by people is more important to me than I’d like to admit.

I will always be a work in progress. If I want to grow and improve myself, I have to surround myself with people who want to learn and grow as well. Following through with commitments, challenging thinking, and holding others accountable are traits that require giving energy (and require challenging passiveness). I’m learning to recognize people who are worth giving time and energy.

I’m starting to understand what being an empath means or at least understanding why my emotions can sometimes overwhelm me. I’ve always been very sensitive to feeling emotions in myself and in other people. When I was younger it was difficult to deal with the constant bombardment of emotion giving me panic attacks, clouding my ability to think (reason), or even speak to people.  I’ve learned how to make sense of emotions in myself and others and recognize the “why” behind them. I’ve learned to recognize myself, at my core, and feel at home with myself. I value the ability to see people now.

 

For fun, here are some awesome memories:

Sunsets from the Firehouse.

Feeling present at all times (sorry Mom I couldn’t bring myself to take pictures but some friends of mine did manage to capture me).

Starlight walks and bike rides.

Watching storms roll over the playa, the chaos of dust storms.

Riding on top of the Shoe, wind blowing past me.

Chasing art cars on my bike. Playing chicken with an art car (they were not happy with me).

Disco fish dance party deep playa.

Hardware camp grinder show then deep playa adventures in the tool box!

Twirling on a lyra hoop under a fire breathing dragon.

Dance parties, fire spinning in deep playa.

Climbing, climbing, climbing higher!

Connecting with the most beautiful souls.

Working together and building a community.

Dancing in the Conclave then watching the man explode into an inferno.

Mimosa toasts with close friends.

The power of togetherness, and humanity’s connection.

The temple burn release.

I have a confession to make. I love music and festivals (that’s a given) so I finally spent a stupid amount of money purchasing a Lotus Bell tent to up my festival glamping game. I’ve been eyeing the lotus “Bud” tent for a while and finally made the plunge.

Part of my contribution to my camp this year is I am bringing my little tent has a hangout space and tea house (I’ll be serving teas as my mad hatter alias) for camp visitors. Here’s a teaser of the setup, I’ll make sure to post more photos of the final setup at the burn:

The inside roof of the tent, I have a lotus lamp in the lotus tent!

 

Hand painted Tea House sign with LED strips mounted on edges. I made dis.

 

I had the chance to test the tent out on a trip to Thompson Falls, MT and brought my tent to Summer Meltdown music festival in Darrington, WA. If anyone is considering investing in one of these tents I’ve decided to list a pros vs. cons list which I will update after the burn as well:

 

Pros:

  • Tent is very beautifully designed! I purchased a limited version with bright purple canvass so it really stands out, I got a lot of compliments and visitors to my tent!
  • Held up well in light rain. I had the tent out one night for a pacific northwest rain (so not a heavy rain). I was able to wipe off excess rain drops on the tent the next morning, and the cotton canvas dried completely on its own within a few hours. Stayed completely dry inside.
  • It saved me from bugs. I was camping in a dense forest in Thompson Falls, MT with basically 3 million hungry mosquitoes hovering outside trying to destroy me, ants and spiders crawling all over the outside of the tent as well. I was safe and bug free inside as long as mesh windows and doors were kept zipped shut.
  • The tent materials are all made with the highest quality (minus the poles which I will explain in cons).
  • There is no center pole in the tent so it feels very spacious, I can stand in the tent comfortably (I’m 5’4″). Amble room to hang out with 6-7 people sitting, 4 people sleeping. If you are looking for a tent to accommodate more you’ll want to go with the larger more expensive models.
  • The carry duffel bag is fairly easy to carry with two people, it packs away the tent and other gear very nicely, I haven’t had to fight to get everything back in like some tent bags.
  • Once set up, the tent is incredibly sturdy & solid. I even had people leaning on the walls (don’t let them do that!) on a hill and the tent leaned a little bit but nothing broke. Speaks to the quality of the materials.

Cons:

  • Tent is very heavy (around 45 pounds) it’s definitely a car camping tent.
  • Even packed in the duffel bag the tent is large, it takes up the entire back seat of my Honda Civic so be prepared if you need to pack a lot of gear.
  • The tent is time consuming to setup and requires two people. I haven’t been able to set it up by myself yet. That being said, this tent is best for setting up for longer periods of time (multiple days like a festival or extended car camping trip) otherwise it’s just not worth the hassle. Once setup all your friends will want to hang out in it with you and are more likely to help set it up for that reason 🙂
  • If the tent is in direct sunlight it gets VERY hot. I likely won’t be going inside this tent during the day at the burn. Disappointing for a canvass tent and I specifically asked the Lotus Bell customer service about this before purchasing.
  • Out of the box, the tent poles were already broken but I think it is a factory defect. Part of the tent instructions stated that you should be able to twist the poles so that hinges bend the right way, however some of the pole hinges will not twist at all and are facing the wrong way. While this hasn’t caused issue yet I can see with regular use these may break eventually. I found that I just have to take the tent poles out after each use otherwise they might break trying to twist the tent up for packing. Since I purchased this tent the company no longer sells the tents with poles (instead they switched to an air beam technology, likely because these tent poles suck).