The Arctic Monkey’s Post-Playa Decompression Guide (Don’t Divorce Your Parakeet Yet)

An important public service announcement via the Colonel from Arctic Monkey on the NY Burners guide:

In the interest of helping give a concise, helpful, guided re-entry into civilization after being at Burning Man, I wrote down a series of rules for Radical Re-Entry. After seeing four email threads flare up and two potential life-changing events start up with various friends over the years, here's the short version:

Monkey Re-Entry Rule Number 1:
Wait three weeks before you make any life-changing decisions.

But let me change that up a bit so it makes more sense.

When returning from the playa, you will be hot, dusty, tired, exhausted. Your body will have undergone immense stress, and if you live in a vastly different environment, your body will likely react by getting a cold (especially if you kissed anyone at the Space Froggie Free Kissing Booth).

Step 1. Take a shower, hippie. Shave, shower, steam everything off.
Take two. Or three. Then go to sleep. You need it.

Step 2. Clean your gear. Wash your clothes, car, stuff, or pack it up into the Burner corner of your house. Pack it away and dry it out.
Recycle, do your garbage, and wash your dishes. Get it put away.

Step 3. Breathe. Go through all your Burner stuff from this year, sort and organize, and then happily stash it away for good memories for later.

Now that your physical needs are out of the way, let's go to the mental


Yes, it was! Wow. Did you see that one guy with the thing? Those two girls? That...why are you looking at me like that? I'm just trying to explain it to you.

Right. The people who didn't go are going to eye you with either jealousy or trepidation, and your social acceptability standards while on playa are different from the real world. While you CAN expect the world to change to fit the Burning Man model, it seems to work better if you don't try to put your shoulder up against the wheel of the Real World right away until you figure out how that whole leverage thing works as more than just a metaphor. A single butterfly may make changes to the world's weather, but sometimes they just get blown into a bug zapper by the wind. Slow down there, Mr. Burner Evangelist.

You've got 360 days before you're heading back to the Awesome. Let your own brain process the nifty neato cool awesome, then hand it off to others.

You just don't get it.

Okay there, Mr Cranky McCrankerpants. Did you forget to take your 5-HTP afterwards? Are you still dehydrated? Are you wondering what the $3,490 charge for "snacks" might be on your visa bill? That's your own stuff and it's not up to the people around you - your loved ones, your hamster, your dog, your listmates, your campmates, your neighbor - to make accommodations for your emotional state post-playa.

That's entirely your bag of playafied emotional entanglements to work through. Take a few more minutes to consider what you're saying on email to people. Reread, check your emotions, and maybe put down the phone to keep yourself from doing irreparable harm to your relationships because you didn't sleep for a week and are still seeing the Sleep Deprivation Leprechauns in your dreams. Slow down.

Put your gear in order, wash your dishes, go for a long walk. Then go back and talk to your friends. If this is directed at people you camped with or your patience level is abysmally low, maybe you should also take what we in the business call "A Chill Pill" and go shut up in a dark corner with some Funyuns for a while.

Not bitching people out for supposed insults or slights or yelling at people for their "stupidity" is a good way to keep and maintain your friendships. Also, try not to play Mr. Huffy or Ms. Huffy about imagined or unimagined stuff that went on or didn't go on at the event that you failed to communicate and ergo, the other party SHOULD have known by magically reading your mind/emotional state. You will keep people from thinking you're a total whackjob and/or raging asshat who can't communicate. And you may keep your friends, instead of driving them before you.

And now back to Monkey Rule Numero Uno, PERIOD. (See? I ramble, but I return to the point.)


Do not quit your job.
Do not divorce your wife, husband, sister, dog, parakeet.
Do not sell all your possessions and move to Tibet to be a monk.
Do not ditch your car and travel the world.
Do not found Hobbit Camp.
Do not plan a giant zeppelin for next year's Burn.
Do not move out of your house, break up with your girlfriend, boyfriend, get married, move in your playa lover, sell your car, ditch your friends, or make other rash decisions after you come home. This is important, because the playa is still going to be in your brain, and the effects are like that of rareified stupid sometimes.

It will make total sense to have a threesome with your significant other and someone in an enormous rabbit costume at the Burn; in reality the ears get caught in the ceiling fan. Make sure if you have major life decisions to make, you make them AFTER you settle down and settle in. The emotions and the stress will still be in your system for some time; do not allow them to unduly influence your life.

Take some B-vitamins, some 5-htp, drink plenty of water and eat a good meal or two that you cooked yourself, go to bed early and read a good book. You earned it.

That major life-changing decision will still be there in three weeks, and if you reduce the sheer volume of stress you have, it will make those decisions easier to deal with AFTER you have time to put away all the other issues and emotions post-Burn.

You might not pay any attention to this little guide, or you might say, "That's for suckers! Real Burners quit their jobs and go work in an iron foundry with those guys they met that one night on the playa or go get married with that beautiful playa nubnub in Vegas! We don't need your stinkin' recommendations, Monkey!" And you would be right (and I will happily watch you run off while popping my popcorn and pulling up a chair).

But if you want to have an easier time recovering from the playa, you might take a little time down to remember what the rest of your year goes like, and adjusting your brain, your living patterns, and your emotional safety nets accordingly. It really does help, especially if you THINK you got all the dusty bananas out of your tent before you packed it away.

Anyway, that's it. Don't stress. Pack your stuff away, and wait three weeks before making any life-changing decisions.

Oh, and be nice to people. At the end of three weeks, you can be a jerk again if you want to.

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