A Funny Kind of Lucky

A Funny Kind of Lucky

By on Jul 23, 2012 in Burn Stories, Burning Man, Travel | 8 comments

(Written by my dear soul sister, Jenna Shenna Roberts, with whom I drove home from Home in 2010.
Re-posted with permission by the author.)

“It has been over 10 months since the rollover accident, and I am still working my way out of physical pain. I am not saying this to pander sympathy (although back rubs and hugs are always welcome, why thank you), I say this because the tickets were just mailed out for this years’ burn, and festival season is here, and I want you to go to and from events more gracefully than I did last year.

I know many of you will soon pack hard, party hard, and drive tired. Recently, returning from Symbiosis, my friend Gray said that he thought of me and got a hotel in Reno rather than pushing it. He got nicely cleaned up and then ran into friends and ate and slept well for cheap. I am hoping that writing this will influence more of you to do the same.

I assure you that it’s an ideal alternative to being jolted awake from the gasp of your friend as a sudden jerk to the left becomes the ceiling smashing on the asphalt followed by every side of the metal box you’re in thundering after it as all of your oh so very well organized festival gear spews haplessly across the dusty desert highway while your freshly poignant ‘Now Is All You Have’ dashboard sticker gets splattered with your dear friends’ head wound blood. This run on sentence is brought to you by 5 seconds of nodding off.
We were so very lucky. I am even an example of the adjective “unscathed” in a fatigue-related accident and I have had over $15,000 in healing treatments. I also just enjoyed turning 35 years old and I am more deeply grateful for that this year than usual. Eben and I are a part of the mere 13% of non-fatal sleeping-at-the-wheel accidents (yup, an 87% fatality rate). One good friend who showed up to help me heal afterward had lost a lover when they fell asleep at the wheel many years ago. Others have shown me their permanent physical damage. This all makes my minor but consistent backaches and my cravings to dance freely again into petty whines in comparison, but I sure do miss bumping to beats a few times a week. I can count on both hands the number of times I have shaken my booty since tumbling (well, upright that is ;).)

I can’t even legitimately milk the sweet teat of guilt on Eben without being a hypocrite. I was slapping myself awake on the drive South in a caravan a few weeks before our crash. I don’t really get how caravanning makes it any better other than having witnesses to your spill anyhow. Eben and I had swapped out only an hour or so before. Granted, we had eaten a big meal and it was a warm day, but we were only an hour from Summer Lake Hot Springs where we would rest for a night or two. So just pull through it, right? I would likely have done the same as he and pushed on. We all do this, but we don’t actually need to. It’s better to catnap and be delayed.

It’s not like Eben and I are the first in our community to have had this happen. Tito had a similar narcoleptic crunch on the burn drive a few years ago. As he says, “I had two red bulls and a yellow jacket (energy supplement) and still went down.” Now, imagine a world without Tito, how much would that just totally suck? If you don’t know Tito, just imagine a fun, loving, participatory, community-building friend. (Oh, and now imagine a big protective ball of light around Tito to counter the ookie of the first thought. . . . Thank you.) Do we need a tragedy to wake us all up? I don’t think so. We’re smarter than that.

It’s easier to be smart than lucky, but I am so grateful for all the details that made this event less painful. Thank God my Subaru Outback was a solid machine that took a beating to spare us. Thank Goddess I had full insurance that included medical for all passengers. Thank our parents for making us always wear our seatbelt. Thank the Universe we were only 4 miles North of a desert town with a new hospital and a good staff. Thank the friends who showed up to help afterward. Thank us that we were totally sober, because going to court or jail in pain must be really, really hard.

Most gratefully, thank the incredible healers of Portland for helping us feel as good as we do. If anyone needs a good chiropractor, energy healer, physical therapist, acupuncturist, massage therapist, naturopath or herbalist, I know quite a few now. I also highly recommend the anti-inflammatory diet, which isn’t easy to do, but I may delve into it again to try and kick out this last bit of back pain. Because I am ready to be done with it. And I am grateful for all it has taught me. And if it saves just one of you, then every wince was worth it.

Please drive safely. Have fun. Sleep. Then drive safely home. Thank you for being alive and vibrant.”


  1. Dang. Glad you’re okay.


    July 24, 2012

  2. I am so excited for my 2nd burn this year! Your music guide was instrumental for the experience last year, thank you!.. will you be publishing a guide for 2012?

    Lou Score

    July 30, 2012

  3. glad youre ok. i was in a rollover accident coming home from the burn in 2002. three months in the hospital and 10 years later, it never ceases to be a vivid memory…
    i wish you and all the drivers a safe passage this year.


    August 6, 2012

  4. A similar thing happened to me, we had a 360 degree rollover and got out without a scratch on our bodies, although the car was totalled. So yes, definitely drive when you’re rested!!


    August 12, 2012

  5. Drowsy driving is a huge and serious issue. I also believe that accuracy is important to keep us all well informed. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, “The percentage of fatalities in crashes reported to involve drowsy driving varies by State. In 2009, it ranged from zero reported fatalities in one State to 9.4 percent of fatalities in another State, with a median value of 2.4 percent of the fatalities across the Nation.”.

    Todd Phillips

    August 15, 2012

  6. Were you two the folks who crashed just outside of Lakeview last year? Single car rollover? The couple was from Portland and I was about the thirteenth car on the scene. If it was you (or whomever it was), the driver sustained a head injury and the female passenger had a fractured wrist? It was a subaru. Me and a couple others picked up stuff all over the road and I put it in big black heavy duty trash bags. I nearly cried when I picked up her leather utility belt–if it was you, I’m glad you two are okay, if it wasn’t you, I’m hoping the other two are okay as well. Peace. ~rm


    August 23, 2012

  7. Guess I shouldn’t have trepipd the little old lady while walking into the library eh? Seriously, it’s funny how our interactions with others are seen, categorized, and evaluated by others. As an example, a person could be talking on the phone with a friend, say an off hand comment that is overheard by a patron walking by and they would make an assumption/judgment based off that one little snippet of information. I would think it’s important to remember that anytime anyone is dealing with a patron or even in the public view, they are representing their work place even when they’re having a bad day. Come to think of it, maybe that’s why they keep me locked up in the back room!


    December 22, 2015

Post a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.