Friday, 24 October 2014

All The Rest

And now I'm kind of sad because there are not so many journal entry days left for me to write about.  Things were wrapping up... ending.  And that's the poopiest part of it all.  But...here's what I wrote.

I woke up Saturday morning to the ground shaking.  No, not an earthquake, just an extraordinarily loud art car making its way home.  I could hear "I don't care" playing nearby and I happily danced in my bed to it.

I went out and found our neighbour looking a little rough in our comfiest chair.  We chatted a bit, I fixed the EL wire on my bike (yay for chicks with tools) (which reminds me, I have to switch the batteries out on that) and then woke up Connor and we went for breakfast.

It was dusty again, although not as dusty as Friday.  I did some extra careful MOOP pickup (I generally did a bit each day on my walks) and talked with the further away awesome older neighbours.

I can't remember exactly what I got up to for the rest of the day, but I wrote this:

I'm sitting here at Burning Man.  It's warm.  My back is sweating on my chair.  I'm dry and dusty, the wind is blowing and the tents and tarps are flapping.  There is a thumping noise song going, an airplane in the sky... giant teacups across from me and odd looking people on bikes passing by going somewhere.  Because I'm at Burning Man.  I'm at Burning Man.

Saturday is the night the Man burns so there's sometimes a sense of things ramping up.  Most people save a good outfit for Friday and I decided to pull out the corset I'd brought but never thought I'd wear.

We noticed what seemed like a lot of people starting to leave (to avoid the hours and hours Exodus can sometimes take.)  Dinner was wild bison!  Not something I'd ever thought I would have in my life, and there I was, in the middle of a desert having this yummy meal!  Awesome.

We went home after dinner, and got to go to a wedding vow renewal and party at the tequila bar.  And yes, I cried.  And no, I wasn't the only one!

The man took a long time to burn.... and that's all the notes I have about it.  I seem to remembering wondering if he was ever going to fall, but when he did, he did a giant face plant and that was rather amusing..

That's all I said about Saturday, I was tired and came home not long after the burn (had to pee like a racehorse too!) and slept.

Sunday - I cried on the way to the portapotties in the morning... "I don't want to leave"

It just feels like so long until this all happens again and all these people are going away.

All the people I'd just started to get to know, and all the fun people and all the people I never met but who I saw, they were all going.

And the whole place wouldn't exist anymore and I didn't want it to be over and I didn't want to leave.

I don't think I did too much more than sit and watch people passing by on Sunday.  I certainly didn't journal anything more about it.

Sunday evening, we made our own dinner and watched as our local art car got stuck.  And then we chilled out and had another mellow evening while people around us started to pack and leave.

Both of our immediate neighbours were gone; one of them mid day and the other when we were out for ice.  Each of those parties had to wait for one of their crew... there's always someone who doesn't want to stop the party I guess.

Funny, I realize I didn't write about it at all, but the Temple burns on Sunday night.  It was a beautiful burn this year, just gorgeous and the building twisted into a spiral when it collapsed.

Temple burn is silent and solemn and there's lots of tears around as people say goodbye to loved ones...

Connor and I had left our bikes in deep playa next to a structure we had hoped had lights... and... it didn't.  Plus, much of the Esplanade had started to pack up so some of our key markers were gone.  But both of us have a pretty good sense of direction, and I'd left my EL wire and blinky lights on on my bike and we did manage to find them.  (I'd thought we'd be back in the morning looking for them to be honest)

We got back, took down our shade structure and packed what we could.  We said goodbye to the awesome Vancouver neighbours and I cried over that too.  Good people...

We sat for a while, but knew we wanted an early start so didn't stay up too late.

I woke up around 6:30 Monday and woke Connor.  We packed, and de-MOOPed our area, did one last potty run and headed out.

I was sad, but happy to have been there for sure.

We had the most amazing Exodus and the day went smoothly.

We were back near home mid day Tuesday to a rip-roaring rainstorm and texts from C-Dawg letting me know there was crazy thunder and lightning at home.  I guess the trip came full circle somehow... rain, thunder and lightning to begin it and to end it.  Cool.

Got home Tuesday evening... exhausted... I can't even remember if I ate...

I remember putting a few things away (emptying my bag into my purse sort of thing) and trying to contain the dust covered stuff into one part of my living room) showering and going to bed.

Didn't sleep well, it's always a strange adjustment and I remember thinking for the next week or two that I was still in my tent and.... nope... Home home.

So there's the parts I can remember about this year's trip to Burning Man.

I'm sure other things will come up but I did want to cover the week not just for you, but also so I could have it recorded somewhere.

So, yeah.  Burning Man.

There you go.

It's a frigging cool thing.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Friday, The Rest

I'd been avoiding the Tequila bar down the road because my first experience with Tequila many moons ago involved me losing my keys and my I.D. and making out with a stranger in the parking lot at the bar.  So.... I haven't touched tequila since then.

But for whatever reason, I was sitting in our place Friday mid day and I looked at our fun neighbour and asked him if he wanted to go to Tequila poppers (a shot mixed with 7Up that goes down like candy thank you very much!) and of course he did so we wandered over and had us some tequila.

And then some more.  The unfortunate side effect was that I got instantly grumpy annoyed with Connor.  Like.... bad.  All the slight annoyance or irritation I'd felt so far that week turned into me being really annoyed with him.  So.... I stopped drinking once I realized this was happening.  I didn't see the point of being mad.

The neighbours and Connor and I decided a bit later that we should go for an adventure, so we hopped on our bikes to see what we could find. 

I took them to the wine bar I'd found the other day, but the music wasn't as perfect and so we didn't last too too long there.  Plus, the line down the street for sno-cones was too long for our tastes and the boys decided they wanted to go out to see the Temple as they hadn't been yet.

I started to bike out with them but realized I didn't want to go.  I don't know if I didn't want to go back to the Temple or if I just didn't want to be with people anymore, so I told them I was heading out on my own and I biked back into town.

I found myself in what I'm lovingly going to refer to as the "Gaybourhood" where there was a fantastic collection of LGBT friendly camps.

I stopped at a camp that had a "swag exchange" and left some of my necklaces and picked up some Jolly Ranchers. 

I biked out onto the farthest most street (L) and out onto the open Playa on the "far/back" side of the city.  The cool part was?  I didn't even have to pedal.  It was windy enough that I was pushed by the wind on my bike.  Awesome.  In fact, I stopped to take a picture of a guy windsurfing on the playa (wheels on the board, cool) and my bike started rolling away on me like a ghost was riding it!  It was pretty cool.

The boys got back and a couple of us went back to the tequila bar to dance and have a few more drinks and I enjoyed myself, being silly and dancing and chasing the "spinny" lights on the street.  (Some sort of projection lights... I don't know, I haven't been to a "real" bar in ages...)

At this point, I was really missing having a person there... someone with whom I am just easy, fun and relaxed with and can do stuff with without feeling annoyed by them and their energy or...whatever.  Someone who I'm close with...a friend.  Someone that I could go to, for example, the fireworks burn I'd just watched (for the Alien Siege Machine) and have an adventure with and try things with.  I had Jay last year, and I missed having someone with me this year.  I did have the potential for fun adventures with one of our neighbours, but he was a bit too wild (party-wise and mega energy wise) for me.

I took some time to myself when they all went out and I went back up to the stairs.  I only made it half way this time but I watched a firework show from up there before I came home, sat for a while, organized my space and then went to bed.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Heh

So I was driving home from work yesterday thinking about the second half of yesterday's post when I had a funny thought.  And it's probably one of those funny thoughts that is only funny to me, but, hey, it made me laugh after a long day anyway, so yay.

So anyway the thought was that I really hadn't done a very good job of explaining a whiteout and that I should show you a photo of what it looks like.  Which made me giggle, because the "best" whiteout photos look, of course like nothing!  Heh.

So, I could just leave a giant blank space in the post here and go, see?  WHITEOUT!

I'm tired... it's really really funny.

I did get a few shots of the (two) whiteouts although my camera's probably not thanking me for that, it's hard to find one to show to someone who's never been because you don't know what you can't see... if that makes sense?

So here's a photo, looking out from the innermost road out towards where the man is.

If you look closely, you can see a bike (on the ground) and a lampost standard (I think it was actually part of a swingset if I remember correctly) and, so yeah... that's a whiteout!  (Not much to see, heh.)



Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Friday Morning

Or, to quote myself directly from my journal "Friday - August something or other"

Because that's how awesome holidays are and especially holidays to Burning Man.  I had NO idea what day it was other than what day of the week.  Nice.

According to my notes (I have no real memory of this, which is why I love keeping a journal/diary type thing) I woke up groggy and decided to go back to sleep.  When I woke up again it was around 8:30, my latest sleep in yet!  Why?  Well, I stepped outside of my tent and discovered it was cloudy and super dusty!  I sat and chatted with our neighbour (who apparently stumbled in to their RV and woke all the other boys so he decided to come and sit and chill in our space with his music (which I'd happily woken up to)  I eventually woke Connor up and we went for breakfast, driving along one of the middle roads out to the farthest street where we drove straight into a whiteout!  IT WAS AWESOME!!!!

My first real white out.  Last year, the closest I'd come to one was biking through the deep Playa with Jay and not being able to see him for a while, but that lasted minutes, was mild compared to this.  This was stunning, and I was so happy to be actually witnessing a real whiteout!

Breakfast, I made special note was bacon, fruit salad and a salmon egg scramble wrap (using some of last night's left over fish it would seem) and "yum" was the quote I left myself.  I also said "dust storm baby!" as I was totally enjoying the whole experience.

Whiteouts....are awesome.  As in, they fill you with awe.  You may have been in a snow whiteout or a fog whiteout or something but a dust storm whiteout?  Crazy.  Everything gets coated in this thin, powdery dust.  Everything.  And you can't see what's not immediately in front of you so people appear like ghostly shadows out of nowhere and it's so cool.  All you can see is the dusty sort of grey-yellow haze and sometimes the sun, a pale ball of light trying to make its way through.  "Whiteout-wow" is the next note I left... (I thought it was awesome, clearly!)

We walked along the innermost road (Esplanade) after breakfast.  It was so cool.  You could barely see anything.  It was awesome.

Oh, I suppose I should point out that we were all wearing goggles and masks to protect our eyes and to try to filter the dust going into our lungs.  (Duh... I forget that if you've never been you might not know that)  So yeah, you're wandering around in this amazing whiteout of dust with your dust mask and goggles getting absolutely coated in the stuff.  And you're coming across people who also can't see barreling towards you on their bikes and wheeeee! 

It started to clear up a bit (meaning you could see a few feet in front of you now) and we went and got ice.  Yes, you need ice that much and it's that important and is one of the only two things sold at Burning Man (coffee being the other) and was something I hated feeling like I was wasting time getting but something that was necessary to keeping drinks and therefore us cool.

The whiteout was a little less whiteout-y as we made our way home (the "city" can tend to act as a bit of a filter for some of the dust at times) and when we got back to camp I cursed myself for not having fully sealed my tent when we left.

See, I'd been leaving it a bit unzipped to let in some air throughout the day but I hadn't known the dust storm was going to kick up or I'd have sealed it.  Good news bad news, I always cover my sleeping stuff and main gear with an extra sheet so they were still clean under the sheets, but EVERYTHING in my tent was coated with a layer of dust.  Damn.  Oh well, lessons learned...

Monday, 20 October 2014

Thursday

(Still finding it odd to be posting photos that aren't from Burning Man while talking about Burning Man....)

I was woken up by heat again Thursday morning.  I think it first woke me up around seven and I tried to keep sleeping but by eight, even with the doors and such unzipped, I was done!  Our morning routine was that I'd wake Connor up by the time we needed to leave for breakfast, so I got him awake and we headed off.

We came back and sat with one of our awesome neighbours for a bit.  Connor and I each came up with a nickname for him, but they weren't quite Playa name worthy...yet.  He had a great plan for his outfit for the day and I was really proud of them for being such great first time neighbours.  Yes, they'd come to party, but they'd also really thought through how they would participate and they really tried to liven up wherever they went. 

At one point, a rough looking guy, wearing a bra and short shorts with a hairy chest and long, blonde dreads walked by and I gave him/her a whistle.  I was expecting a happy wave back, but instead, he/she turned around and in the deepest, roughest voice yelled back to us "Do you have any Ketamine?"

These are the kind of random moments you encounter at Burning Man and after I shouted back that "no, sorry sweetheart, we don't" we all had a good laugh about the weirdness of what had just happened. 

We sat and talked some more while the other (good) neighbour boys put on their crazy fun outfits and then they all headed out for their day of adventures.

It...was hot.  At noon, I read the thermometer at 110 F (43 C my fellow Canadians) and kind of went.. wow... it's hot, and I'm "ok"!  I mean, I was hot, but doing so much better with it than last year.  It was once again too hot in our "shade" structure.  (I say "shade" with quotations because it's really not the best for this kind of heat and sun, but it's all we have at the moment) I put down the sun blocking side thing and realized it was oven-like in our little area.  So, I decided we should go out.

You can either sit in a too hot shade structure and roast on a hot day, or you can decide to head out and hopefully get some breeze and maybe some cooler shade.  Just make sure you're covered from the sun and have lots of water.  (At this point in the week, sunscreen isn't really doing as much as the dust is, because the sunscreen you put on gets so much dust stuck to it you have this extra strong SPF for free!)

We stopped off at the "Artery" (the main camp for finding out about the art and art placement) and when I turned around, there was the glorious art car I'd sat and watched from our camp last year.  I started to cry.

I hadn't been sure I'd be able to find or see it again this year and there it had just shown up.  (Playa provides)  I went up to it, still crying and went and spoke to the main artist and driver.  I told him what it had meant to me (through my tears) last year and thanked him so much.  He said he was really touched to hear that and we exchanged a big hug.  I gave him one of my necklace gifts and Connor and I stood in the shade of it for a while while I cried it all out.  It was some sort of magical circle that I hadn't even really realized needed to be completed.  It was perfect.  To me... those guys and that art car ARE Burning Man.  Perfect.

We went to Center Camp next... it was hot... but I sat myself down next to a funny art piece for a while and giggled along with people as they sat and realized that if they "yelled" into the mouthpiece of the thing it would vibrate along into the seating area of the piece and, well, heh. 

And then?  The icy hands guy came by.

And I started to cry again.  But a happy cry as I told him just how much I loved him and his icy hands that saved the day and I told him he'd saved me last year and man oh man did it ever feel good to have him put those freezing cold hands on my face again.  (If you don't remember from last year, he's a fellow who goes around holding a giant block of ice and then if you want, puts his freezing cold hands on your face, head, back of the neck... it's amazing.  A perfect gift.)

We left center camp eventually and saw that there was a short ice line!  Connor... ran!  Which made me giggle, and I followed behind after locking up our bikes.

There was a nice French girl in the lineup who gave us heart stickers and placed them on our faces for us.  I took polaroid (Fuji instamax, to be technical) shots of people in line (which always results in smiles) and we biked home with our ice.

Where... it was hot.  H. O. T. Hot. 

I wrote down that I still dislike the frat boys on the other side of us and their janky shelter but that I also had to remember that Everyone Burns Differently.

It translates into a life lesson (as so many Burning Man things do) but... it just felt important to me that I remember that doing it "my" way works for me and doesn't mean it's the right way for anyone else to do it.  Everyone burns differently and that's ok.  Or, I need to be ok and accepting of that.  (I'm not sure it means I have to like everyone but...maybe just not judge if I feel they're doing it "wrong".)  I don't know... it's hard.  But... everyone burns differently.

It was roast beef for dinner again and I stayed away from the extra killer spicy flakes this time (and crossed my fingers) and I had the most delicious green beans I've ever ever had in my life.  After dinner, I wanted to go home, but instead we went looking for the phone booth we'd heard about instead (you could make a five minute phone call to anywhere in the world for free.  Gifting.  It's amazing.)  We got distracted by some big Playa art (I seem to remember a giant planet model thing... [I looked and apparently they're called Orreries]) and art cars and a burn (some pieces burn Thursday) and never did manage to find the phone booth.  (We only had a vague idea as to where it was anyway)

We headed home eventually and on our way, passed by this giant set of stairs that was down the "road" from us.  I'd told myself I would never climb them (what with heights not being my thing) but they were blasting Led Zeppelin and there was no way I could ignore that much of a sign!

I only made it about half way up the 42 giant stairs before I had to sit down.  The stairs, when open, had one of the builders on them at all times and so this guy came down to talk to me.  He told me he was from Seattle (yay PacNorWest!) and that he knew how safe the stairs were because he'd help build them.  (It was his first burn... awesome)

I told him I wasn't worried about the safety, just that heights made me feel like I was going to fall off of them.  He asked me to take his hand.  Which I did, and he held my hand nice and tight.

"Now do you feel like you're going to fall off?" he asked.  And the funny thing was, I didn't anymore.

So.... I got up, turned around, grabbed hold of the railing again and made my way up alllll the way to the top of the Stairway to Heaven (which they'd wanted to call it that but thought it was to cheesy... I solemnly disagree.) and for the first time, I got to see Burning Man from the top.

It was.. spectacular.

Sure, I'd seen the night time photos taken from high vantage points, so I knew what the city looked like all spread out and lit up and just incredible but there I was, listening to Zep, at Burning Man, looking down on this incredible, temporary city in the middle of a Nevada desert, just teeming with life and fun and joy and art and engineering and humanity and it was breathtaking.  Spectacular and amazing and I'm so glad I did it.  So glad I went to Burning Man, ever... and again, and so glad I got myself to the top of those stairs, despite it being frightening and not my favourite thing to do.

I got down, a little shaky kneed, and wanted to talk to Jason.  I guess I wanted to share this awesome moment with him.  So when I got home I turned on my phone (it was beyond weird to me to see I had cell reception) and I got a few texts from people which made me smile.

We were invited by one of our Vancouver neighbours to come to a "block party" at one of the camps in the 9:00 area called Crossroads.  I didn't want to go, and Connor was feeling about the same, but I figured it was probably better than just going to sleep (I told myself I could sleep when I got home!) so we decided to give it a go.

We went to the 9:00 plaza and found a camp that had video game arcade type things that they'd altered to make awesome to play (ie, play Street Fighter by using the controllers for Rock Band.  Sweet.)  Connor kicked my butt in two separate games and then we headed out.  We found the Flaming Lotus art piece and watched as they started up the propane in the ... I don't know... awesome fire cauldrons?  I talked to someone there about how it all worked and how and why it looked so cool (you could stir the fire like a zen garden) and how she got involved.

We were going to head out into open Playa but I saw the place where the neighbours all were and I sort of figured we should at least half-heartedly try to find them so we could at least not lie and say we'd tried.

But then, I saw our fun neighbours in their awesome, unmissable costumes and it was great to see them and they, and our other neighbours were so happy to see us, I'm really glad we went.  They all said how awesome we were and I sat there wondering why I couldn't just accept it rather then coming up with all the reasons they probably didn't mean it.  (I guess I don't see myself as that awesome so it's hard for me to believe other people who don't know me that well would?)

The music was fantastic.

They were having electrical problems (the playa dust wreaks havoc on electronics) but they just kept giving it a go until they found a "clean" line and then they kicked serious ass. 

Crossroads is this amazing collection of I don't know how many... 30?  40?  musicians from all over who get together at Burning Man and put on live music!  With actual sound systems and lighting and a stage!  So there you are... in the middle of a desert, listening to a live, great band with full light and sound that they're doing JUST FOR US and just for fun!  It's incredible.  Blow your mind incredible.

They were playing songs from the 90s and they did some fantastic mashups in the middle of the set including a mashup of "Give it Away" and "Come Together" of all things. 

So much fun. 

I don't know how long we were there, it was so much fun being surrounded by so many people from Vancouver/Victoria/BC/Canada!  Our own little Canadian party, woo hooo! 

I started to get tired (and a little sore... I'd brought my backpack as I always do and it was annoying)  (I'm wondering if next year I don't always need my water and gear with me and could maybe have a lighter bag with me... or just goggles and dust mask and lights... something to consider, anyway) and Connor said he didn't mind heading home. 

We said our goodbyes and as we were heading for our bikes Connor ran into the friends he'd gone to his first ever burn with.  Awesome.  And, kind of how Burning Man works.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

In Other News

So in completely other news, Fall arrived last weekend.

I saw someone somewhere online describe it as Fall showing up rubbing the sleep out of its eyes and guiltily glancing at its watch.

We had rain last weekend that was pretty seriously heavy at times and then it was suddenly like all the trees remembered they were supposed to drop their leaves and so the streets got littered with leaves and acorns and chestnuts and trees started becoming a little less than green.

It was kind of weird, made the week feel a little different because we had more rain than sun and so I guess Extendo-Summer's over and it's the time of year where our hemisphere shakes out scarves and sweaters and wonders about how Winter might go.

Friday, 17 October 2014

Wednesday Continued

(I'm having a hard time believing that I'm only on Wednesday of my adventure, but each post is taking me at least an hour to write and then I'm all ... needing a break!  It's crazy... I didn't even make it all the way through Wednesday for Pete's sake... poor Pete...Anyway...)

One of the notes I made for myself is to "not bring janky stuff to Burning Man... it'll drive you nuts"

I'm not sure I'd heard the term "janky" before Burning Man last year, but it's a perfect term for some of the stuff there, and... some of the stuff out here as well.

For example, Connor and I decided to go with a giant water bottle (you know the ones I mean, they go in water cooler type things?) rather than several small ones and so we bought them in Oregon and also bought a pump for them.  I'd thought of pre-buying a pump up here, but figured I'd just get it there.  When we got to the playa, the pump turned out to be... pretty janky.  Not exactly awesome workmanship and not easy to get working.  Which... is incredibly frustrating on Playa.  We had to hold it a particular way while standing on one foot facing North North East and humming "Living La Vida Loca" to get it to work (I may be exaggerating slightly but it felt super annoying) and I ended up getting really frustrated with the thing.  Some days only Connor could get it to work, and I need to remember that cheap, jankily made things are not worth taking to the Playa because it'll just drive you nuts.  The dust makes everything work a little less well anyway, so take good stuff and it's less likely it'll be ridiculously frustrating.

I made myself another note Wednesday that said I wasn't as bothered this year by the hot, thin, pretty 20-somethings.  Either they were lovely (like the Australian girl from Tuesday) or sparkle idiots who I don't like anyway so screw them.  They're not me, that's for sure, and that's a good thing!

A few other notes I made Wednesday afternoon as I sat at my sitting spot were watching people bringing huge "pee jugs" to the portapotties from their further away camps.  Also, me making "pee buddies" with a camp of nice nice people who I "met" because I kept walking by them on my trips to the porta potties and back. 

I sat with my Pee Buddies for a while most days and on Wednesday, we were sitting chatting and eating pie when this PYT (pretty young thing) wandered over to where we were and asked if we had any water she could drink.  She looked close to tears and so we gave her water and insisted she come sit under the shade.

Long story short, she'd been given a ticket randomly the day before and had gotten a ride with a guy and had had him just "drop her off" around where her friends had said they'd be.  She was hot, overwhelmed and lost.  The place is so much bigger and less organized than you'd ever know if you'd never been before and this girl clearly had no idea what she was getting into.  She was a few blocks away from one of the camps her friends were at and we pointed her in the right direction.  She was astounded that it was "so far" away, but I was astounded that she had no water on her, and nothing more than a bag thrown over her shoulder that couldn't have held much more than a few items of clothing.  Yes, she was meeting friends and I'm sure they were going to take care of her but still... Radical Self Reliance babe... the desert is trying to kill you and you need to walk into this place being able to survive on your own if none of the rest of us exist.  Or if, say, you never manage to find your friends because the "address" they gave you means very little and will have you wandering around in the heat and elevation with no idea of how to find them or how to take care of yourself.

I wandered back home myself not long after that and continued to document the random things I was seeing. 

Like the guy who got his flowy outfit caught in his bike wheel that had me chuckling evilly and making a mental note about any future flowy outfits I might one day wear.

I watched another guy bike past and let out a massive belch that made me giggle.

It was hot.  I know I said it Tuesday too, but this was our hottest day so far.  Connor's thermometer on the side of his truck said it was 44 degrees Celcius, but that... that couldn't have been right because that's like 111 Fahrenheit so the thermometer must be broken.  Right?  Right.  But it was hot, lordy lordy...

We went for dinner and I found myself grumpy again.  I was annoyed with Connor and so I told him that evening that I wanted to have some time to myself and I took off for Center Camp.

There was a lovely singer on one of the stages from Australia, there on his first burn and I sat and listened to his lovely music for a while, just chilling out.  I wrote some... drew some.  And I smiled huge, when this young, long haired blonde guy sat down and offered beer and water to his neighbours.  When the singer took a pause, he offered to fill up his water bottle and I thought to myself now that's a Burner.  Giving.  Caring.  Thoughtful.  Kind.  Awesome.

I wandered along Esplanade to the 4:00 portal.  I saw a giant robot with flaming hands and a crazy swirling melty magic thing of fire swirls called Serendipity.  There was a Pink Floyd movie show at the portal entrance (4:00 and Esplanade, which will probably only make sense to those who've been in BRC) and I sort of had wanted to go but not alone.  It was 10:30 by then and the show wasn't starting til 11, so I went back to see if Connor was maybe up for going.  He'd had a few drinks and I didn't feel like pulling him out of that so I sat with him and one of our neighbours for a while chatting.  Turns out the ones to the left of us weren't as frat-boy-ish as first appearances would have suggested and this guy was a Canadian (yay!) living in San Fransisco and the three of us chatted until his three Spanish speaking buddies came back.  They were fun and lively and I went to bed happy that I wasn't, in fact, surrounded by dolts on both sides.  Now I had the fun guys one one side, the cool chicks and George behind us and the awesome older burners two down from us.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Wednesday - Morning

The first thing I noticed Wednesday morning was that it was hot.  I'd been woken up by the heat in my tent and when I checked the time, it was only 7am!  I opened the door/window flaps in the tent, but... it was hot in there so I got up.  The spicy spicy from the night before had disagreed with my tummy so I was moving a little bit slow.

Breakfast was yummy again, but I gave part of mine to Connor just to be on the safe side (stomach wise.)

I'd told Connor I wasn't feeling well, so we just took it slow.  We moseyed out to the Temple, and each took our time to do what we'd wanted to do there.  Temple is a very interesting place and it hadn't been open long so was still sparsely decorated.  It was, to me, an odd shape, but the work was delicate.  I had a lot of things I was saying goodbye to, so I had written out letters to those things (including my Ego) and I sat and re-read them and left them in one of the walls.  I also left one of Jason's art cards with a wish that his career would continue to do well.  I also told Fear and Anxiety that I really didn't need them anymore and that they could just go ahead and burn here with the Temple.

I wandered silently around the Temple once I'd finished my time and I saw some beautiful tributes to Robin Williams, including one of him as a young man with a sign that said Thank You and I was very moved by it and I started to cry.  It's not at all uncommon to cry at Temple, so many people are there to pay respects to someone they've lost, and it's a place full of silent respect and love.

I ran into one of our neighbours on my way out and she held me and we both cried together.  We told each other we loved each other and I left her to her time.

I sat outside in a sliver of shade I found and waited for Connor.  Sometimes I felt drawn to someone who was crying and I'd approach them and either sit with them, or offer a hug, or both.  Sometimes you can tell someone just wants to be held and sometimes you can tell they just want to be alone.  I find a lot of strength and connection in being able to support and love people in their times of sorrow and I'm considering working with the Temple Guardians at some point in the future.  Just to be there and to hold the space for people as they grieve.

I felt so much love there at the Temple.  People letting go of sad and hurt and all the un-needed things and I just wanted everyone to know they were loved and their pain was ok and they'd be ok.

Connor came out after a while and we walked our bikes out, both of us quiet and contemplative.

There was a bowling ball lane and a giant wooden wave you could "surf" on your bike and a hundred other random pieces of art.

We made our way to the Man and the souk that they had chosen to surround him with this year.  The souk itself felt a bit janky, which I'd sort of known it would be, and I sat for a while in the really nice, deep shade of the (giant!) man's leg and people watched.

There was a "Canadian Acculturation Center" with hockey sticks and a bush plane and it was nice to have a little piece of home in the middle of the Nevada desert, although I didn't feel the need to have my photo taken with the wooden Mountie.

On our way home, we stopped off at PO9, one of the post offices on Playa.  (Yes, actual post offices.)  My neighbour who went with us to Burning Man last year asked me if I'd send her a post card so I wanted to mail it off and I thought while I was there that I'd volunteer to deliver some mail.

Man oh man... it was so hard!  It's not as if you're working with street addresses and even finding a placed camp takes a lot of work, nevermind trying to find a random person with an address that may not even be accurate because their friend probably mailed it a week or two before they even got to Burning Man and they were only guessing where they might be camped.  So... someone who thought they might camp at 8:45 and J could be in a massive spread of cars and vans and tents that goes two city blocks up, down, left and right and unless someone knows who "Papa John" is and happens to be sitting in their camp as you're wandering along the street looking for said Papa John, you're kind of... out of luck!  I was finding it pretty stressful, Connor was out of water and it was really really hot.

I did manage to deliver two packages to two different camps but the third package they'd given me was just a guy's name and it was way too hard.  Addresses after all being very approximate!  We went back to camp, got water and cooled off and I apologetically returned the undelivered package later that day.

But yeah, seriously... there's mail at Burning Man!  It's pretty frigging awesome.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Burning Man Tuesday (Banana For Scale)

I woke up Tuesday morning after my early night and sat and watched.  One of the neighbours I'd left a gift for came over and chatted with me and shared some of her story.  She thanked me for the gift and complimented me on how I'd made it.  She's a long time burner, and definitely not a "frat boy" and so I felt like I sort of fit in with the people I wanted to fit in with this year... the art car drivers who waved at me as I stood, in my white top and tutu on an early Tuesday morning in the heat.  It's the greatest feeling.  They wave and smile and it's just a hello.  An acknowledgement.  Of the day, the morning, of each other.  Of me.  Of being there.  It's a hello.

So I sat Tuesday morning and watched our other neighbours, George and his family driving away on their elephant art car... like a king and his entourage, off on adventures.  George was there with his son (who was close to my age) and his mother (who was in her 80s) and if that doesn't make you love Burning Man, I don't know what would.

There was a rough and tumble gentleman sitting basking in the sun out front of his art car and on my way back from the portapotties he stopped me and called me over.  This, I felt, was a huge change from last year.  And I feel like that whole sense of "fitting in" and belonging shows that I wasn't a newbie anymore... or something.  Anyway, he called me over and asked me about my breasts.  It was very politely done... "they're gorgeous, and they're natural too, aren't they, you must have loved having them all your life.  This is my friend Brett, he's a breast connoseur.  You should really let those beautiful breasts breathe!"  Now, while this may sound creepy out of context, it didn't come across that way at all.  It was just friendly, complimentary conversation about how these two gentlemen appreciated my breasts.

This particular fellow didn't give up asking me all week to let my boobies go naked and all week I just laughed him off (although it did get a bit annoying and I did start getting my sexism back up later in the week but didn't feel like asking if he was intending on getting his willy out as I think he probably would have) and kept telling him it really wasn't my thing.  Even at Burning Man.

I did go braless one day, just my shirt, no bra, but biking on the bumpy roads made that a short lived thing, and yeah, I just don't feel the need to wander around with my breasts out.  I told him if he ever made it to sleepy little Victoria BC to look me up and we'd head to the nude beach and he could see them there.  But I digress.

We had some new girls start setting up camp behind us.  They made me happy.  Real burners.  There they were, just setting up, not giving a shit.  Sure, they were young, they were cool, but they were good.  No need to show off; they were just there to be there and to have a blast and they were setting up their camp.  F*&king awesome.  It made me happy.  I kept thinking they were the kind of burners I wanted to "grow up" to be.

It was hotter Tuesday, the hottest day we'd had yet but I felt better, and was very much looking forward to breakfast.

Breakfast, it turned out was eggs, potato hash browns, fruit salad and a view!  It was delicious and perfect and so amazing to be sitting looking out on the desert and mountains and the Man and all the art and people.  Way cool.

We went to get ice at the other side of town.  We biked along Esplanade, the innermost road and the surface was terrible!  We figured that the emergency vehicles and such must have driven on them during the rain, but man... it sure was a good example of why not to!  We got ice and biked back straight across the playa, crossing over the road to the man and making our way to a few roads away from our road.

It was unoffically Tutu Tuesday and it was fun to see all the different outfit version of tutus.  My favourite being a naked man with a tiny green tutu around his penis!  Yay Burning Man and burners.  I love you!

After breakfast I took off by myself for a while and made my way to one of the sex-positive camps.  Not for any kinky reasons, or for any action or anything...  I thought I'd try to connect with people there as I'd heard they were super friendly and welcoming but when I got there it just made me miss Jason and the staff wasn't there and it made me feel a little sad and lonely.

I went to a wine bar down the street instead and sat for a while while they played awesome music.  I was still missing Jason or having other friends with me, but on my bike ride back to camp I managed to find a giant light bright, the one thing I'd promised C-Dawg I'd try to find so that made me smile.

Our new (awesome chick) neighbours ended up being from Vancouver and that made me happy too.  I felt a lot better than I had Monday and that was also good.  The day was hotter and drier, but it's the desert after all... wasn't going to feel like it did on a rainy day!

I went back to sitting, and watching (and journalling) and that's when the random meowing started.

No, not quiet, a cat is trapped under the bed, kind of meowing, but loud, where the bleep is that coming from meowing.  Over...and over.  And then it would stop.  Just to start up again!  At some point, someone started barking and that just made me crack up laughing and damn if this place isn't awesome...  (I discovered later, on a trip to the portapotties, that it was a "sardines" art car that when stopped ... meowed.  Because duh... sardines attract cats!)  Meow...meow.  MEOW!

I wrote in my journal that "my people" are the workers.  The art car builders, the chicks who set up their own monkey hut and just chill.  The captain of a helicopter art car with a dark tan, cigar and that feeling of rough and tumble.  The good people.  Hard working, not giving a sh*t and loving it all.

At some point, a gorgeous gorgeous girl stopped with her friends out front of our camp and I went out to ask if I could take her photo.  She was a first time burner from Australia and we bonded over the fact that "Australians and Canadians are like cousins, we just get along so well!"  True that my friend.

I felt very glad I was at Burning Man... but I still wish I had friends there.

Later, Connor and I went out for our dinner.  I didn't know better and sprinkled my roast beef with what I thought were regular chilli flakes and then my mouth nearly exploded with whatever they actually were!

We went out to the Temple after dinner... it wasn't open yet, but we still stood and watched things for a while.  There was a giant boat art car.  Giant!  WIth a HUGE party on it and we stood and watched them for a while.  Then we watched the work being done on the Temple.  A ranger (local) came up to us and chatted with us for a bit before giving us a gift of chapstick.  It was super nice and unexpected.

We biked over to "Embrace" after that, one of the most talked about art pieces of this year.  It was... interesting.  Not my favourite, but I hadn't felt connected to the preliminary drawings either.  If you haven't seen the photos online, it's the upper torsos of a man and woman in a hug, entirely made of wood.  You could go inside and there was a beating heart and breathing lung as part of the art (I mean really, even if it wasn't my thing it was still pretty incredibly made and conceived) and stairs (that I chose not to go up) to look out of each "person's" eye and see the Playa from a different vantage point.

We kept wandering around (by bike mainly) and stopped for a while to watch a Flaming Circus and made our way past where we camped last year.  We went back to the wine bar I'd been at earlier and saw a fellow who was wearing a suit with EL wire he'd sewn on to make the cover from Pink Floyd's dark side of the moon.  Friggin awesome!  I chatted with him for a while and told him how fantastic his suit was and that I loved it.  It's moments like this, feeling joyfully connected to a stranger and sharing in that awesomeness that I love about Burning Man.

We biked around town some more and stopped for a while to watch some dodgeball.  Yup.  Dodgeball.  Some guy had set up a contained dodeball court with floodlights and a lit up center line and there was this eleven or twelve year old kid just killing it!  I was cheering away as "Sunshine" kept getting in trouble for putting his foot on the red center line, "don't touch my line, Sunshine!  Don't!  That's it!  Take the walk of shame, kid!"

I had a beautiful moment that I will talk about seperately that had me in tears and that night I sat up and watched the stars for a while.

I went to bed that night and sorted and organized my space a bit.  I was sleepy and rested, but then organized some more.  There was still noise around me but I went off to sleep.

Woke up in the middle of the morning, too sleepy to walk to the portapotties, but needing to pee, so I.. well, I used my pee funnel and my dedicated pee container!  Felt kind of bad ass doing so, and happy to be able to fall back to sleep, but you guys?  I will never take having an in-apartment bathroom for granted again.  Twenty steps to the bathroom is so nice vs having to put on clothes, walk for three minutes while watching out for art cars and bikes and then you're no longer half asleep!

One of the most memorable, moving, perfect moments I've ever had happened Tuesday night as Connor and I were biking randomly around.

I'd moved out of the way of an art car, so that they could take their wide turn in the intersection.  I was standing there, this huge smile on my face, marvelling at what all this was when one of the spotters came jogging over to me.  (An art car spotter walks alongside an art car to help the driver navigate)  He reached out his arms and I leaned off my bike to accept and return his giant hug.

"I love you," he said.

"I love you too," I responded.  Really truly meaning it, because my heart works that way.  And I love that lots of people's hearts do too.

"Everyone here loves you," he continued.  And I started to get choked up.  "I know, I responded," actually feeling and believing it for the first time in my life.... everyone in this whole damn magical place of Burning Man loves me... just because.  Because I'm me and I'm loveable and Burning Man is full of love and happiness and loving each other because that's how it's supposed to be.

"They built all this just for us to enjoy." He finished.  "Happy Burn."

And I kissed him on the cheek as he ran back off to the slowly moving art car and I started to cry.

A big, cleansing, letting it all out kind of cry.

Connor just stood there, supporting me... told me to let it out, and I did.

It was this pure, honest exchange of human love... two souls connecting and appreciating each other for no other purpose than to share the love and joy.  And knowing this human being loved me and I loved him and neither of us was afraid to share that.... and knowing that yes, truly, "they" build this whole damn city... all of it... all the art and fun and playthings and engineering and ALL OF IT just for us to enjoy.  For us!  For me... and him... and everyone.  It's just done for us.  It really is stunning and amazing and humbling and wonderful.

Happy Burn indeed my friend.

I only wish I'd been able to tell him just how much what he said and that he meant it meant to me.

Happy Burn.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Shudder

So I don't really drink much anymore.  No major issue, it just for a while it only made me feel unwell, and then it made me feel extra sad and so I just kind of stopped.

But over the summer, I found a yummy drink I liked and I've had the odd one here or there with dinner the odd night or two.

Over the long weekend, I stopped in the liquor store to pick up another bunch (they're canned drinks... did I pick up a case?  A... six pack?  Isn't that only for beers?) and I couldn't believe what I saw at the checkout.

Seriously young people.  With I.D.  Of legal drinking age.

They're SO YOUNG! 

C-Dawg and I have this saying that when someone's ridiciously young they're "twelve."  Now, I don't hang out with a lot of twelve year olds, but we're probably doing them a dis-service.  But seriously... these guys looked so young.  Young enough that I could hardly believe they were old enough to drive, nevermind drink!

What has become of this world? 

It's clearly not me.  I'm not getting older.  Nope... can't be that.

It must just be that they're now letting really really really young people buy alcohol.

Gah.

Monday, 13 October 2014

An "itis"

I'm having a little bit of "I didn't do enough" itis.

I remember getting home from Burning Man and telling Jason that I was not going to go again next year unless I had at least one of my people going with me.  That it wasn't worth it for me to go alone, or almost alone, as it felt for me with Connor.  I then said that he should ask me that again in eleven months because I figured once I got closer to next Burning Man I'd probably just want to go no matter what.

I've been home a while now.  More than a month, and I think looking over my notes and journals, especially the grumpy days I just finished writing about made me sad.  Sad because looking back and seeing I was unhappy... that I went to bed at nine... it's easy to think that I should have done something differently.

That I should have "forced" myself to stay up.  To go explore.  That I should have done more for the entire burn.  Seen more, met more people, just... more.  I'm sitting here feeling like I want to be mad at myself for not doing enough and that's not fair.

It's not fair at all.  I did exactly what I needed to do this burn, and exactly what I was capable of doing.  I wanted a quiet burn.  I wanted a calm and easy burn and I got that.

There will ALWAYS be more I could have seen or done at every single Burning Man I go to. Always.  It's the nature of the massive scale of it all.  You can't get to even a tenth of what's there.

I don't want to let my unhappy thoughts grab hold of this one, but I'd be being dishonest if I didn't mention how I was feeling.

Part of me hears me re-telling about the not so happy moments and wants to go back and have them not happen.

But life's not like that.  Not even at Burning Man.

PS  Happy Thanksgiving my fellow Canadians, I'm thankful for lots, and especially for holiday days off!

Saturday, 11 October 2014

An Accidental Playa Gift, I Hope

I didn't write this one down, but it keeps popping into my head, so I'm writing about it here anyway.

I lost something on the playa.

A scarf.

I'd brought it, one of those light sort of summery scarves to keep in my backpack in case of chill, or to use as an extra layer of sun-screening.

It was pink.  With skulls.  But you didn't know they were sculls unless you looked really closely.  Which is what I liked about it.  Made me feel like it was representing me somehow.  Tough, but not at first glance.  Sort of secretly a whole lot more than what I look like on the surface.

It wasn't until I got home and fully unpacked that I realized my suspicion was right.  I'd noticed mid way through the week that I couldn't find the scarf and I was kind of sad, but I hoped that it had just gotten stuffed somewhere and I'd find it once home.

No such luck.

Things get dropped accidentally on the playa all the time.  It's referred to as MOOP.  Matter out of place.  When you see it, you pick it up, take it back to camp and carry it out with the rest of your garbage because Leave no Trace is one of the ten principles of Burning Man, so you pick up what other people didn't know they dropped.  (And a team stays behind for the month after Burning Man to pick up the tiny things... and large things... we missed, so that we pass the land management inspection and are allowed back next year... PS.  We passed!)

Most MOOP is accidental (a bungee cord that breaks, or a button that falls off) some is not (I get really upset and angry picking up cigarette butts... but that's a rant I won't get into today).  I felt horrible when I realized that I'd lost my scarf because it means I'd MOOPed it somewhere on the Playa :(

My hope is that someone found it.  And that the person who found it loves it and it somehow suits them just as perfectly as it suited me.  Sometimes that happens, leading to the Burning Man saying "the Playa provides."

Like how Jason told me I should pick up a bike repair kit of... um... allan keys maybe? And one day I stopped my bike to pick up some MOOP and it turned out to be a set of allan keys.  Because the Playa provides.

But it makes me a little sad not to have my scarf.

When I go to put on a scarf on the colder mornings we've had, I see my pink skull scarf not there.

I wanted to bring it home and wear it and to remember that it had been to Burning Man with me.... but... I don't have it anymore.

I miss it.

So I keep just telling myself that someone picked it up, and someone thinks it's awesome, and someone is very happily wearing it right now, smiling at the thought that this is the scarf they found at Burning Man.

I just wish I could know who they are.

Friday, 10 October 2014

Thoughts

Tuesday morning, I felt like my grumpy had taken on a more specific target.

Jason, the week or so before I left kept telling me to "find my people."  Like, to go to Burning Man and find my... tribe.  Or something.  My collection of people where I just felt like I clicked.

I'd had a couple of experiences with him that summer where I'd found myself drawn to someone or just noticing something about them (a tattoo, or, in one case a Burning Man specific joke on their hat) and upon asking them if they were Burners, I felt like I was immediately with good people.

I think maybe he thought I'd go to Burning Man and be surrounded by tens of thousands of these people I'd just click with and feel at home with.  I was fairly certain, knowing myself and knowing what it's like there, that this wouldn't happen.  But what I woke up knowing on Tuesday morning, and what I wrote about in my journal for the first two pages of "Tuesday" was that I definitely knew who weren't my people.  And what I wrote at the time, although it pains me to re-print it here, is that the ones who weren't my people were the ones I don't like.

It's hard for me to admit I don't like someone.  Or someones.  Something in me feels obliged to love everyone.  Or that I should like everyone.  Just because they do something I don't like or act or behave a way I don't like, I still feel like I should... like them.  Cut them slack.  Accept them as flawed human beings.

But at this point, after two days of grump, I didn't care.  I did.  Not.  Like. Them.

Here's what I wrote:

I think the first couple of days were for me to see who weren't my people - the ones I don't like 

- the ones concerned with being young and beautiful and drunk and pretty

- the frat boys, the 20 somethings, the sparkle ponies and fucking hippies 

the ones who care too much

which sucks, because I care.  I do, I care about how I look, how I fit in, how I'm perceived ... do they like me?

I hate the frat boys and female equivalents and I feel them on each side - taking drugs, being drunk - fuck that shit.

SEE?????? The guys wake up their buddy with "Logan... you fuck the girl?"  FUCK THAT SHIT!!!

He took mushrooms, cocaine, ketamine, ecstasy... WHY???

I remember writing this and being ragingly angry.  There was more to their conversation and I heard it all.  The "teasing" of the friend for not having sex with the girl.  "Too many drugs?  Couldn't get it up?"  And I had to stop myself from marching over there and yelling at them to show some respect and that women were not there for fucking and using.  And the drugs.  I've never been a fan of drug culture, or drinking culture for that matter, but neither am I saying I'm entirely innocent (I was young once too, after all) but I do not understand why you would take a massive mix of chemicals like this young "man" apparently did.  I do not want someone to explain it to me either, I just hate the fact that some people come to Burning Man to do masses of drugs.  I hate it.

And I hate that some people, and I'm sorry, it's mainly younger people seem to think of this whole thing as this massive party where you get free drugs and can have sex with any gorgeous person you see.

The societal background that goes with this is something I will not even begin to talk about as it is something that either enrages me or upsets me and I don't feel like there's much me blogging about it will do....

But I really felt like I knew who at Burning Man were not "my people".  Or to put it in a slightly less angry way... I knew who were the people I did not feel connected to.

The people who were really concerned with being good looking.  The people who were overly concerned with how they were dressed... how their outfit was... their hair... their makeup... how good they could look... for show.

Did I want to look good for show?  Not really.  I wanted to feel like I didn't look unattractive, like I felt last year.  I wanted to feel comfortable, but I did not want to be walking down the street and having men drooling.  I did not want people to stop and exclaim at how gorgeous I was, and I feel like for a fair number of the twenty something crowd... this is what it's all about.  I know, many of the photos you see of Burning Man include gorgeous, sexy, scantily clad women, and I know sometimes it's hard not to be influenced by what you see and what's shown by the media when you're young.  (And possibly for some when you're older, but I do feel that with age does come wisdom, and with that, the ability to decide to not give a shit about what you're "supposed" to do/be/act/look like that is more of a concern when you're a teen or a twenty.)

For me, I take it as offensive when the reason someone is coming to Burning Man is to get wasted and/or to be/do sexy chicks.

It's so much more than that.  Or it should be.

I was frustrated to be surrounded by these "frat boys" as my neighbours.  These clearly first timers who seemed to not have an understanding of WHY Burning Man.

They just wanted to party.

They were very very very much not my people.

And to be honest, even if I'd been their age... even if I'd been going to the same college or University as them, they would still not have been my people.

My University didn't have fraternities or sororities, but I've never been attracted to the "let's get drunk and party" guys.

Which is ironic, because I've always enjoyed me a good house party, and I've always enjoyed getting drunk and partying.  But I'd be the one hanging in the corner on the couch with the surfers, the stoners, the musicians, the D and D players, the artists and the interesting people, not with the ones who were mannning the keg.

To be honest, I don't even know how to play beer pong.

But I do play a mean game of caps.

(And my game of darts (I actually used to carry my own set in my purse) gets really good a beer and a half in, and then gets bad again a beer and a half later.)

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The Rest of The Day

I don't really know if my mood got any better the rest of Monday because my notes from my journal that night are barely existent.  Like, probably twenty hastily jotted words max.

I wrote "tired and grumpy" three times, so I must have really really not been happy.

Connor and I walked to our dinner place.  Well, we walked towards where we'd scoped it out as being the night before, but neither of us had ever "done" a meal plan before so we didn't really know what to look for.  Or, I suppose, if we'd actually been scammed or not.  I was pretty sure not, because the chef had been placed with a very large theme camp, but I wasn't sure how we'd find the place.

We wandered around (me feeling quite nervous, as I often do when I take the lead on things but really, genuinely have no idea what I'm doing) and found a long line of people and figured we were in the right place.

Which, to be honest, surprised me.  I don't know why, but I guess I'd just expected it would be a few of us grabbing food from a guy who was cooking.  I didn't expect it to be the food and meal source for an entire, massive camp!  We checked in and got our wrist bands (the easiest way for them to identify those of us who were part of the plan/camp) and stood in yet another line.  I'm sure I was somewhat less grumpy in this line as I knew it meant food was coming.

I don't remember what we had, and I didn't make note of it, but I'm sure it was delicious.  Our meals were stunning, and well worth the cost.  I figured we would have spent just as much buying our own food but this way we didn't have to deal with refrigeration or cooking.  I'm not sure how "radically self-reliant" it is, to be honest, but I put my health first this year by giving this a try, and I'm so glad I did. 

By the time we'd walked home, I was utterly done.

My notes tell me that I felt overwhelmed.  I remember feeling this way.  I didn't want to be around Connor anymore.  I found everything just too much.  It was SO noisy.  All of our neighbouring camps had their music blasting.  None of it was music I enjoy (gangster rap, and yelly shouty misogynistic lyrics so not being my thing) and I wanted a break.

There is no break at Burning Man.  (Although I suppose I could have walked waaay far out into walk out camping... but that was on the other side of the still damp playa.. and I wanted my own space.)

It was all too much.

I remember my co-worker last year telling me that you get overwhelmed at Burning Man and that I should bring a book or some other quiet activity for those times.  Well, I took a book last year but never read it, so the only thing I had with me was a trashy magazine C-Dawg had given me the week before I left.

I went to bed early.  Like, nine o'clock early.  I shoved my headphones in and lay on my bed listening to The Dark Side of The Moon so I could at least be focussing on something aurally that I liked.

It might have been different had I had a friend with me I could have gone and done something with, but on the other hand I had been awake since six or so and was incredibly tired and grumpy.... so maybe I would have been going to bed even with a bestie there.

Listening to "my" music calmed me down a bit and my eyes sort of glanced at the words of the magazine even if I wasn't actually reading it.  I popped my earplugs in tight (still hearing the extraordinarily loud and irritating "music") and threw on my eye mask and did the best I could to sleep.

At some point, someone must have left their camp because I woke when some headlights lit up my tent and it was a lot quieter.

But in general, Monday afternoon had been me feeling grumpy and unhappy.

The morning had been wonderfully fun and exciting with the rain and lightning, but my mood went down from there.

Bed and sleep seemed like the best thing, because as I've ironically already shown this week, sometimes sleeping it off works really well for me and my mood.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

On To Monday. The Morning.

So I went to bed on Sunday, tired but happy, not quite sleeping deeply that night as I got used to being back at Burning Man... the constancy of noise, the fact of being very much elsewhere and remembering that while eye covers and earplugs help, you still hear art cars driving past, and feel the background bass that thrums from somewhere else right through your body via the playa floor, and you still get flashes of headlights or fire-flame-throwers and you know that that first night is going to be more about "sleeping" in a restful sort of way than it is about actually getting any restful sort of sleep.

I must have had a few hours at some point because I remember coming half awake dreaming about rain.

I don't know if you have those dreams where you're dreaming you're going pee and then you wake up realizing that you really really have to actually go pee and thank goodness you woke up in time?

Well, there I was, early Monday morning dreaming that it was raining.  Dreaming about rain on my tent and rain outside and I sort of started to come half awake because I remember knowing it was light out (maybe I'd taken off my eye mask) and thinking that there must have been a flame-throwing art car driving past and then my brain started to really wake up and put it all together.

I took my ear plugs out.

I listened.

And that's when I saw the flash of lightning!

It hadn't been a dream.  It WAS lightly raining.  And I wasn't hearing art cars booming and throwing off light, I was hearing thunder and lightning.

Well, this was exciting!

Honestly, that was my first thought.  "I'M SO EXCITED! I'M AT BURNING MAN AND IT'S RAINING!"

I knew rain sometimes happened (yes, even in the desert) and I was (of course!) prepared.  I also knew that you're not supposed to walk or bike or drive when it rains and so I wanted to make it to the portapotties and back before the playa got too too muddy.

I threw on some clothes, checked the time (sixish in the morning!) and unzipped my tent, stepping right into a little puddle.  Whoops.

Yes, I had thrown up a rain fly on the tent, but I hadn't actually bothered setting it up as I might do were I camping here on the West Coast, so the rain had dripped oddly and made a little puddle that I had stepped into.  (I would later learn this was a bigger issue than stepping into a little puddle in a temperate rainforest.)

I unlocked our bikes and moved them under the shade shelter, as I didn't want the rain to rust the playa dust into the metal of our chains so early in the week.  I checked to make sure my rain fly was as well laid out as it could be and then I speed walked gleefully to the porta potties.  I was so ridiculously happy getting to witness rain at Burning Man.  I knew I was safe and comfortable and had enough food type snacks to survive the day if we were stranded in camp, and we would be fine.  I even had an umbrella!  And rain slickers.

I had a huge grin on my face as I walked, not yet realizing that the slightly wetted playa surface was making my shoes into platforms!  The floors of the porta potties were pretty muddy and I was curious to see how this all would play out.

I got back to my tent, and had to change shoes, the ones I had walked in were now thoroughly coated and difficult to walk in.  I made a mental note to be more careful about walking on wet playa surface.

I sat under our shelter, trying to clean my shoe treads.  (I'd read in the extended forecast that there might be rain Monday afternoon, so I'd done some research and bought a small implement to poke the mud/clay out of my treads, but it was hard work... I set them aside after a few minutes to try to dry more.)  As I sat there, watching the light rain fall, I started to count the time between flashes of lightning and thunder claps.

It... was getting closer.  And louder.

Actually really a whole lot louder.

Connor was still asleep.  Or at least hadn't come out of his truck yet, so at this point I figured I was the only one awake in our neighbourhood.

And then there was another flash and crack of lightning and thunder and I realized I wasn't the only one awake.

"My chair just zapped me!"

"My bike just shocked me!"

I heard people shouting to each other that they'd felt some electricity and then it flashed again and the legs of our shade shelter sparked.

I was a little bit frightened.

Frightened because I've never actually been that close to lightning (we don't get much of it where I live and it's always just sort of a pretty thing far away in the sky) and I don't really know how to be safe around it and here it was making things directly around me spark and be... literally shocking!

I ran to the back of Connor's truck.  He was awake.  Had lifted up the latch thing and I poked my head in.

"Connor!  Where's the safest place for me to be right now!"  And right as I said that there was a MASSIVE flash of lightning and the loudest, most frighteningly huge crash of thunder I've ever ever heard in my life.

The whole place lit up and I've never heard anything that angrily loud.

Connor says my eyes went huge.  I have no reason to believe they didn't.  But he told me that a vehicle, with rubber wheels was the safest spot and I should jump in.

And I did.

I left muddy prints on the back of his fender, but I climbed in (shoes left on the side) and huddled next to him while we watched the rain and thunder and lightning crashing around us.

At some point, the (newbie) guys next to us started up their RV's generator and the exhaust came directly into our little safe zone.  I wasn't impressed with this (they'd parked way way too close to us) but wasn't willing to stomp out into the rain to tell them they were killing us.

Ahem.

After a while the rain let up and the storm seemed to have passed so Connor and I got out of his truck.

It was still rain-cloudy and sprinkling a bit (which, omg makes me think of this, awwww) and we both just kind of stood there...

Connor was happy too.  It was his first time seeing rain at Burning Man and somehow it made us both feel at home.  Look, I'm wearing pants!  I'm wearing a jacket!  We're at Burning Man and not boiling hot!  Because I will admit, that was one of my thoughts... that the rain would somehow bring down the temperature for the week, or at least for that day and that that would help.

We were a little bit at a loss because we'd been supposed to go that morning to find our meal plan place (I think I mentioned before, but I'd found an amazing chef online who for a really good rate would provide us with two meals a day) and so we had to fend for ourselves for breakfast as we'd missed the window of time breakfast would have been served.

The playa surface sticks to anything that touches it when it's wet.  And while the rain hadn't been torrential, it had soaked the surface and would take a while to dry.  Add to that the fact that it was still cloudy and it was going to be a long while before it dried.

I did see the odd vehicle or two drive by and I wanted to shake my finger at them.  It clearly states in about a gazillion different places that when it rains you can not, do not, should not drive... at all.  It chews up the surface of the playa if you do, not to mention it sticks like concrete to your tires.  I found this out last year when I drove my bike over a spot where the water trucks had just sprayed.  Bad mistake.  Never repeated.  And it's not like just the one rotation of the tire gets covered... it's layer after layer after layer.

Later in the morning I saw a girl "bike" past.  Her bike was barely functioning because she had such a thick layer of playa mud caked onto her tires that the rain deflector fender things were stopping the wheel from turning.  She was mad that the fenders were placed so close to the wheel.  I just shook my head at it... you can't use transportation on the playa when it's wet or still drying dudes... seriously.

I don't even know if her bike will have been usable for a couple of days.  Seriously.

I hadn't brought big bags to use as boot-rain-covers, but will do so for next year.  Apparently that's the best way to get around; to cover your shoes with plastic bags.  Someone also suggested (I read later online) that playa mud doesn't stick to bare feet, but I'm not willing to try that one as playa foot is apparently quite uncomfortable.  (The alkali of the playa is not good on your skin.)

At some point that morning we made our way out on foot to try to get ice.  There was a huge line at the nine o'clock ice plaza, but we needed it and made the decision to wait it out.  I wish we hadn't.

I was tired.  And, yes, you got it... grumpy.  And waiting in line does nothing to make that better for me.  I wasn't in the mood to spend an hour or two standing there chatting with the nice people around us, or with Connor.  I did my best to distract myself and stay positive.  A lovely gal came and played her violin on top of a lifeguard tower in the middle of the plaza (I know, I say that to people who've never been before and it just sounds like... what?) and then as she and her beautiful prom type peach dress were walking away the crowd cheered so much that she shyly made her way back and played us a few more songs.

The line got bigger and bigger and one of the volunteers from the ice place came out to let us know they were delayed for a couple of reasons.  One being that three of their volunteers had been hit by lightning that morning.  So many of the structures in Burning Man are constructed with metal and this one was a metal geo-dome.  He said that they'd all been taken to medical and one was still under observation... shaken and feeling "off" but fine.  They all felt lucky things hadn't been worse, but still, it was delaying their opening.

One of the guys we were chatting with eventually (like... an hour or so in) offered to go get us all beers.  We declined, but as fate works, five minutes after he left, they opened and the line started to move.  D'oh!

He managed to catch back up with us at the entry and we happily all parted ways with our ice.  Yay.

We chatted with folks on our walk back (there was an art car camp based out of Victoria we saw) and heard more stories of people getting "hit" by lightning.  There was the guy who had his hand on the metal of his art car who got a jolt through his arm, or the lady in the RV across from us who said their RV got hit and she peed her pants.

I don't know how these things work ("these things" being lightning) but it seems to me our general area was struck.  I don't know if it was one big hit or several small ones, but most of the rest of Burning Man seemed to have been left alone while our side and area certainly had strikes.

I don't know, I still thought the whole thing was cool.

I didn't know, that outside, they'd closed the gate (I mean, I figured, there was no traffic) and that thousands of people were stuck in line, or on the highway, or being turned around and sent back to Reno...or somewhere.  When I heard this, and heard it made National news (Festival closed for first time ever, duh duh duuuuuuuuh!) and that people were delayed for half a day or more, I felt extremely lucky.  We'd been safe and sound and all set up and comfortable.

And we'd just had a pretty good morning.  Even if the hours in the ice line had utterly grumped me out.

I wondered to myself if I should have abandoned Connor and said "this is making me so beyond miserable, can you get the ice yourself please?" but I still have that sort of guilty feeling conscience where I didn't want to leave him to do the "dirty" work that was really for both of our benefit.

Le sigh.

Plus, the fact that I was feeling grumpy at Burning Man was making me even grumpier.
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