Killer Creatives is now live!

After almost a year of hard work, my new blog, Killer Creatives, is now up and running! Check it out at killercreatives.com

I’d like to thank everyone involved in the early development of this project, especially the first artists who let me pick their brains about their careers and aspirations. You guys are freaking awesome. This is the beginning of something I hope will inspire and galvanize creative people all over the globe.

If you know any extraordinary creatives with inspiring stories who would like to be featured on Killer Creatives, drop me a line at alisa@killercreatives.com

This will be my last post on The Burgerfoot Chronicles. There’s no saying if or when I’ll start it up again, but I’d like to thank all of my readers for your support over the years. Here’s to a new chapter!

Thanks for everything.

All the best,
Alisa

Burning Man 2012

Me with the fire-breathing dragon art car, Gon KiRin. Photo by Mick Jeffries.

Ah, my first post in months.

Don’t expect excuses for why I’ve not written for the public lately. For the record, I have been writing, which is all that matters.

Since I never got to articulate my experience at Burning Man the first time around (last year, 2011), I’ll try to now. I took lots of notes, but not enough evaluations. It’s just so difficult to explain the unexplainable and formulate sentences that others who’ve not seen what I’ve seen and felt what I’ve felt would understand.

So, what is Burning Man?

Burning Man is anything you want it to be, and Black Rock City is where you’ll find your tribe. It’s where you can be the most extreme version of yourself — that person you are in your head 24/7 — without fear of discrimination, judgement or ridicule. Throw all societal expectations out the window. It’s okay to be weird. It’s okay to be you. And you will be embraced for it.

I have never felt more comfortable in my own skin than at Burning Man. Whatever confusion, anger or worries I had in the Default World disappeared after being in an environment where traditional social behaviors and interactions are disregarded, and uninhibited self-expression and enthusiastic participation are required.

At Black Rock City, you will build things with your own hands from the ground up, contribute to a community in which you’ll see immediate results, celebrate the human spirit and understand people from all walks of life at the most basic level.

Here, you’ll want to give, share, dance, love and laugh.

After my first Burn, I realized that we’re all trained to perceive the world in a certain way in order to stifle our creativity, keep our spirits down and do our jobs. This hardened world doesn’t actually exist, though. The world comprised from our imaginations and our hearts is what’s real. Making connections with other human beings — however superficial or profound — is far more rewarding than making tons of money. I became aware of my incarceration by concepts like social appropriateness, time, money and the public’s expectation of me to fit into some counter-evolutionary template. Actually being part of a community of like-minded creatives and feeling like I belonged in their company was a first. So after a quarter century of feeling out of place, I finally found a culture I identified with.

I’d found my home.

Now, after my second year at Burning Man, I sit in silence at my work desk with headphones on, diligently avoiding the task of requesting assignments from my higher-ups. I’m basking in the fumes of my experiences at Black Rock City, stuck in the ethereal cloud of love and good-feels one returns with to the Default World. My co-workers ask me how my vacation was, and all I can do is give them short cryptic answers accompanied by a distant smile. I want to stay in my head, in my world. I want to swim in between memories and emotions and epiphanies. My body is present but my mind is hesitant to follow.

One other workmate around my age has also made the trek to BRC, and although we never ran into each other on the Playa, we share the same haze of exhaustion and amazement. And I am reminded once more that the world is so much more beautiful than it seems, and people are so much more caring than they appear to be.

Life is incredible.

It was so fascinating and wonderful to see everyone’s imagination out on the Playa in tangible form. I feel so much closer to my fellow Burners, and I am excited about the new connections I’ve made on the Playa, as well as the ones I’ll make because of those connections, and so on.

Spent all day on the road Monday so I’ve had no real time to decompress. It is surreal walking through my neighborhood, riding the train, gliding through the city. I even put a handkerchief over my nose and mouth out of habit.

Looking through photos from the Burn. Wishing I’d done more. Although what I lost in experiences I’d gained in connections with new friends. Being in a large camp with so many incredible people really made my Burn this year. I am so grateful for that, and I am so grateful for Burning Man.

It was another transformative Burn for me. I’m looking forward to preparing for next year, and very excited about the new me.

Music Is Time Travel

Music Is Time Travel
by Alisa Damaso

Every time I hear Thursday’s Full Collapse, I’m 16 again and moving into the house I’ll eventually lose my virginity in years later. It’s November and raining and I’m equipping my empty new room with things I’ve collected over the years, my creature comforts, my teenage artifacts.

The house my dad bought has six rooms and used to be a convalescent home. It needs a lot of work — Dad already stripped the old, filthy brown carpet to reveal the cold concrete underneath for when we install fake wood panels, changed out the toilets and plans to re-do half of the tiling in the kitchen. The list of renovations goes on and on. This place was built in 1950 and the three back rooms were added on some decades later. The back corner room is mine.

The ceiling above the living room, dining room and kitchen is the drop ceiling of an old business office and lit with long tubes of fluorescent bulbs humming through clear serrated plastic sheets, yellowed with time and sickness and dead air. When we arrived at the house for the first time to clean it a few months back, it was still furnished and there were still sheets on the beds and clothes in the closets. There were old photo albums and framed black and white photos, award plaques and wire hangers in each closet, one hanger dressed in yarn, each a different pastel color crocheted and wrapped in the squandered time and eternal loneliness of a group activity led by young, detached foreign nurses with forced smiles and slow, condescending voices.

We rented two giant dumpsters and tossed everything inside.

Sitting on the floor, taking in my new environment and unpacking my things, my old compact stereo plays this worn-out CD the best it can over the heavy, splattering rain outside. It’s getting dark, and my small desk lamp lights the room from a corner on the newly carpeted floor. I can already tell I will spend most of my time in this room. I will study, sing, play my guitar, masturbate, write stories, cry, make out with boys and have epiphanies in this room. The old woman who lived in it, or died in it, will watch me, and I will talk to her when I have no one else. I can’t hear anything she says, nor can I see her, but sometimes I feel her. She is the loneliest of us both.

In this room, I will make several subtle transformations and become a woman without realizing it.

My oldest brother and his girlfriend will move out and get married. For a while my other brother will go through a period of recklessness until he finds the one that got away and rekindles their old flame and moves out of state to become a family man. Many will come and go into this house, rent a room and then leave, and eventually the bank will foreclose it and my parents and I will have seven days to find an apartment during the Thanksgiving holiday. My brother and his wife will have to take the dog.

The ghosts will stay, and they’ll have a huge party when we move out. Late at night, our neighbors will call the cops because of the noise, and when the officers get to the house it will be empty and dusty and untouched.

On Relationships

I’m not gonna lie, being single was pretty awesome.

On Relationships
by Alisa Damaso

I had a thought-provoking conversation with a friend the other day regarding relationships and love. A veteran of two ill-fated marriages and currently involved in a very successful one, he admitted that the first two didn’t pan out because there was no love involved. Not the real kind, anyway.

This brought me to think about my past serious relationships. None of them involved a mature kind of love. They were intense, yes, but this school-girl passion was manifested by a severe desire for companionship. I saw in them what I wanted to see, and things felt right because I wanted them to, so badly. It’s not that the feelings weren’t real; they definitely were. It’s that these guys were selfish, and I was too intoxicated to see it, accept reality and let go of them.

I fell in love with these guys’ potential, not their present capacity. They had the potential to love me as intensely as I did them. They had the potential to be successful in their own right. But they weren’t. Sometimes we’re blinded by our own love that we don’t see we’re being abused, or taken advantage of, or held back. I forgot that I was an individual with my own goals. I couldn’t make a decision without factoring in the other person, as if it mattered, as if we had a shared bank account or some shit. I’m still young and have my whole life ahead of me, and it was stupid to think that way — to limit myself and my goals. That’s how you know it’s not real love.

Love is sharing, honesty, encouragement and feeling secure with your partner. It doesn’t involve selfishness, lies, unresolved fights and jealousy. Nor does it entail walking on eggshells and not being able to straightforwardly talk about your feelings for fear of offending — or being judged or ridiculed by — the other person. A relationship involves growing together, not holding each other back. I know this now. And if you don’t believe me, I’m sorry to be the one to break it to you.

“You mean my boyfriend’s not supposed to be threatened by my sheer awesomeness?”

After my last relationship ended*, I really didn’t see the point in being in one again until I figured myself out. This last person changed me in such a negative way, I had to find my way back to who I once was — a happy, confident, ambitious young woman who didn’t care what others thought about her. I needed to revert back to that playfully vulgar, twisted and enjoyable dork I had once been before an insecure, alcoholic, not-so-subconsciously chauvinistic man-child influenced me to change the very things about myself that made me fundamentally me.

So for a year and a half, I lived my life stag by choice, and focused on MYSELF. My goals, my life, my work, my future. I came out with a damn good head on my shoulders, tunnel-vision for success, kick-ass confidence and a sense of self not all 24-year-olds are capable of possessing. I developed an unrelenting trust in myself, the most important person in my life. And when I was ready to dip my toes into the dating pool again, I found an equally vulgar, twisted and enjoyable dork who was irresistibly attracted to these newfound characteristics brought on by my self-developmental sabbatical. We’ve had some pretty amazing adventures, and along the way there were no fights, no jealousy and no bullshit. So a few months before our 1-year anniversary we decided to move in together to an inspiring city where we can both grow in our careers. So far, it’s going pretty ridiculously awesome. See? Self-discovery and patience really do have lasting benefits.

Three months in, we went to Burning Man together. Pretty much sealed the deal.

If I’ve learned anything from my young dumb loves, it’s this: Before you dive into a relationship, it helps to know what you want for yourself first. Know who you are as an individual. Know what your place and purpose is in the Universe and have some peace of mind before you go and ruin someone else’s party with your baggage. Because if they care enough about you, they will naively waste their time trying to help you, which you will rigidly decline in very scary, selfish and retarded ways. Don’t put other people in pain and suffering just because you’re unhappy or lonely. Figure your shit out and don’t be a douche; the world has enough of those.

Fuck-ups are learning experiences. Essentially, a bad relationship isn’t something to lament because it helps us understand who we are and allows us to measure our capacity for avoiding repeats, ultimately contributing to our genuine, long-lasting happiness. And that’s what relationships are for, right? Happiness and growth? Not every couple can be on the same level of emotional maturity, and this results in some pretty horrible feelings. Don’t beat yourself up or try to change the other person — these are futile acts that lead to nowhere or somewhere worse. It’s up to you to determine whether to stay in the relationship and make it work with your partner (it takes effort on both sides, who’da thunk?), or accept reality and break free from the unhealthy union while it’s not too late. The goal is to not lose yourself and not be miserable in the longrun. As for the hurt and pain after a breakup, it’s a TEMPORARY and necessary part of life. Just try hard to keep your head on straight. Soak it all up, remember everything and regret nothing.

*After more than a year together my ex and I broke up and then started hooking up again a month later. And then he turned 26 and stopped returning my texts and calls. That’s how it officially ended. Real classy!

Jealous Guys

After 2 long years of soul-crushing hurdles and technical mishaps which almost drove me and my AD/editor completely mad, my first short film, “Jealous Guys,” is now premiering on YouTube.

In 2010, with no background in filmmaking whatsoever, I recruited a group of experienced film students and started the project blindly. Despite a handful of production meetings and readings with the actors, I didn’t know what I was doing and I allowed myself to be pressured into a corner that I couldn’t escape. Pretty soon the movie was out of my hands, and I was horrified by the end product. This movie meant a lot to me; it was a story I wanted to share and there was no way I would let it simply die. Over the next few months I sharpened my vision for this project and recruited a completely different crew to help me carry it out. This second shoot was way more fun, organized and precise — and a whole new learning experience altogether.

My team worked very hard on this film, and they made it the best it can be (which is fucking awesome, by the by). I want to thank every single person who was in any way involved in the making of this film, for without  you it couldn’t exist and therefore I wouldn’t be a filmmaker.

More to come!

xoxo,
Alisa Damaso

Hard at Work

At-length, in-depth posts have been lacking lately due to various projects I’m currently engaged in. For one, I finally found a job! For the past 3 weeks I’ve been building my researching, writing and editing experience as a publications intern for a business communications association in the city. Also getting some freelance experience. So stoked!

In other news, my website for creatives is coming along — I’ve been doing research, interviewing artists and writing content for it like a madwoman. A launch date is still undetermined, but I can’t wait to share my long months of vigorous hard work with the world!

And lastly, I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel for my baneful first short film, “Jealous Guys.” In total, it’s taken me 2 years to make this movie. I’ll elaborate on the reason once the film is released (hint: lots of hurdles, egos and technical mishaps). Aiming to premiere the film on YouTube relatively soon. Despite everything the crew and I have had to endure while making this film, we’ve learned a helluvalot and I’m very, very proud of the result. Much love to my cast and crew for sticking by me to see this thing through and to help me tell my story. You guys rock!

Stay tuned!

Write to Know Yourself

A page from one of my high school journals

I’m currently in the process of reviewing old work to possibly include in my writing portfolio. In my search I came across some essays, poems and narratives I wrote in high school. It’s really interesting to see how much my work has changed and evolved in the past 13 years. I’m rediscovering the subjects I explored at that fragile time in my life, when every experience was new and painful, every crush unrequited, and every realization was dressed in profanity. It’s important to look back every now and then to track your progress and growth as an individual, whole human being.

One of the benefits of writing every day is you’re able to document your lifeline. Having access to your thought processes during important points in your life is key to discovering yourself and could help you realize strengths and weaknesses you have. By recording events and thoughts, you evaluate your relationships with others, understand yourself better, refine your memory, and prevent yourself from making the same mistakes twice. And possibly address certain psychological problems you need to work on to prevent future heartbreak :)

If you haven’t been documenting your life, I strongly suggest you start now. Keep a journal and put your thoughts somewhere lest they disappear forever. Know yourself!

Facing My Future, I Walk Sideways

At 20, sating my hunger for travel at Forsythe Park in Savannah, Georgia

Here’s a poem I wrote when I was 20 years old. It expresses my hunger for life and excitement for what lay ahead of me. It also reveals an insatiable restlessness developed through years of being a shut-in (I can’t think of more than one close friend I’ve made in college; that’s how serious I was about getting the hell out). The title of the poem doesn’t mean I was afraid of heading forward; walking sideways means living in the moment while keeping your goals in sight.

Facing My Future, I Walk Sideways
by Alisa Damaso

I need to get out tonight –
every night –
regardless of the destination or what I have to do the next day.
I need to condition myself to live –
to live restlessly,
to never stop
moving,
thinking,
talking,
laughing,
singing.
To never stop
loving.

I will not sleep until I have to.
I will not stop.

I’d say I’m experiencing a similar feeling these days, now that I’m on my own. Yes, my lust for life has been reanimated, but so has my hunger for producing and refining my life’s work. I am a machine, finally pursuing all the projects I set down years ago, building my portfolio and taking on freelance gigs to build my professional experience. I’m working diligently on my website for creatives (my next big opus) and I plan on launching it within the next few months. Living on my own has revitalized my motivation, jolted my creativity and pushed me to an amazing momentum I haven’t ridden in a very, very long time.

Having to take care of myself and living off of my savings makes it so much more imperative to beat down obstacles with my fists and achieve my goals like a bad-ass. Cheers to adulthood!