Monday, August 5, 2013

What's in a Name?

A lot of people ask me about my nickname...No, "Monster" is not my real last name (but yes, my name is really Kate, not Katherine or Kathleen, or Katie. My birth certificate actually says "Kate"). But katemonster is what all my friends call me. It's an Avenue Q reference - one of the main characters in the Broadway musical with puppets is named Kate Monster.  It also refers to the fact that I LOVE the Muppets and I actually have a Muppet from the real Muppet Workshop at FAO Schwartz in Manhattan.  Her name is Shireese and she is a 26 year old reporter who loves to come to burns with me.

Here we are at the Million Puppet March in Washington, DC, asking Congress not to cut funding for PBS (along with my friend Carolyn on the right):


Hello readers!

Welcome to my brand new travel blog.  As I'm writing this, I've already been on the road for seven months.  After trying to keep my friends and family up to date through a combination of mass emails and facebook posts, I finally decided to dive into the "blogosphere," where I can share what I'm learning in my travels with a wider audience. Being what marketers call a "late adopter" when it comes to new technologies, I ask that you bear with me as I work out the kinks of this new update system.

This is a public blog, friends, so while I encourage you to comment on it, please also feel free to email me anytime.  Although I may not be able to respond immediately, I always appreciate hearing from you!

Before I get into the travel posts I wanted to explain the name of the blog.  The title is not only a reminder of a famous poem, it is also an oblique reference to Burning ManTM (Burning Man is a trademark of Black Rock City, LLC, which owns the copyright on the 10 principles) and it's associated culture; people who identify with the following 10 principles and attend Burning Man or Burning Man inspired events call themselves "burners."  The 10 principles are:
1. Radical Inclusion
2. Gifting
3. Decommodificaiton
4. Radical Self-reliance
5. Radical Self-expression
6. Communal Effort
7. Civic Responsibility
8. Leaving No Trace
9. Participation
10. Immediacy
(for a fuller explanation please visit the Burning Man website).

There have been many moments during my trip so far where I was reminded of these principles and saw them in action in other contexts, or where I experienced the creativity, spontaneity and joy that we all hope to feel at a burn.  And because being a burner is such a huge part of my life at home, I have also had MANY conversations with fellow travelers in which I tried to explain what Burning Man and being a burner was.  I have also struggled with what I feel is the primary flaw in our community, which is a tendency towards escapism and concomitant failure to do enough to improve the larger world around us.

All of this leads me back to the title, which is a foreshadowing that I expect my experience as an active member of the burner community to color my perspective on this blog and on my travels more generally. And now, if you'll excuse me, I should probably get back to packing!