Monday, 30 September 2013

Weather Or Not

Calm by foundimagination
It's all of a sudden not Summer anymore.

I remember last weekend thinking that it was chilly out, and then noticing that it was the 21st... that Fall was officially here.

But since then it's certainly been noticeably colder.

We've had some sunny days, which have been lovely, but they've been brisk.

I went out for a bike ride Friday after work and wore what I'd usually wear on a summer evening and I was freezing! 

It's not Summer anymore.

Vancouver had a major rainstorm this weekend, we just had a lot of rain.

I turned my radiator on, and am getting closer to putting another blanket on at night.

I really enjoyed Summer.  Burning Man was a large part of that.  I'm hoping Fall will be good too, if different.

So, here's to blankets and warm baths and hot drinks and scarves.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Grody

One of the things that I noticed in the weeks before I left for Burning Man was this sort of a Spring Cleaning feeling.

Like, a need to get rid of unnecessary things around my place.

I gave away some kitchen storage containers I haven't used in months and then I started thinking about my duvet.

I'm pretty fastidious when it comes to cleaning my bedroom.

I have a sort of dust allergy.  It's maybe not an allergy so much as, when there's dust, I notice it.  I get sneezy.  Sniffly.  Will wake up with crusty eyes and a stuffed nose.

So, maybe that is an allergy after all.

Anyway.  I wash my sheets every week.  Probably shouldn't as it tears them apart pretty quickly, but I also sleep a la (I want to say a la mode, but that means with ice cream, no?) naked, so I figure I'm keeping away the germs or skin dust or whatever by washing my sheets.

And I dust and sweep my floors, too and my bedroom is pretty free of clutter.

I notice on the weeks when I don't dust that my eyes and nose are icky by the morning.

Well, it occurred to me last month that I don't remember the last time I'd washed my duvet.

Or the cover.

And I wasn't particularly bothered by this, because, well, I wash my sheets every week.

I debated and debated taking my duvet and cover to a wet cleaner (the more environmentally friendly version of the dry cleaner) but they said they'd need it for four or five days and even though it's summer, I still like my blankie at night.

I hemmed and hawed, but didn't like the idea of coming back from Burning Man to a dirty(ish) duvet so I decided to wash it.

I looked up on the internet how best to do this, and then I spent most of a Saturday washing, and rewashing and then dry dry drying my duvet and its cover.

Now, that's not the part that shocked me.

What shocked me was when I unzipped the cover.

And saw the piles and piles of dust in the creases and edges.

Oh.  My.  Goodness.

I guess I'd never washed the thing.

Like.  At all.

Somehow it just didn't occur to me.  My parents bought me a brand new, fancy, expensive (they had it made! At a store!  It's cool!) duvet cover, and I never wanted to ruin it.  Or.  Something.

Because the amount of dust was disgusting.  Or, at least by my standards.

I vacuumed the thing first.

Which was gross.

And then washed it.

I don't know why, you guys.  But all that dust that had been falling on my floor, and on my bureau and chest of drawers?  I never thought through the fact that it was also falling on my duvet.  It just... I never thought about it.

But it had.  So I washed out years and years worth of dust and let's not talk about what all dust is made up of, let's just say that I followed the internet's directions and washed and carefully dried both my duvet and my duvet cover.

And I noticed that the cover did look a different colour.  Lighter.  Er... maybe... dust... free.  Ahem.

Totally gross.

But the best thing of all?

I woke up the next morning and for the first time in months, did not have crusty eyes or a stuffed up nose.

Go figure.

So now you know how I was accidentally gross and disgusting and didn't even know it.

The more you know!

Friday, 27 September 2013

Way Back

Lost Direction by foundimagination
Way back when the Breaking Bad season premiere started, the guy I was sort of starting to see asked me if I wanted to come over and watch the show with him.

It was the day after the premiere and I was relieved that I didn't have to lie, that I could honestly tell him I'd just watched it, but I hoped he'd enjoy, and thanks for the invite.

I'm so not in the place to be at a guy's house, this guy's house.  And I think it was maybe bold of him to ask?

Or maybe it wasn't that big of a deal.

I just think when you're in someone's house, their space, and you're sitting on their couch, near them, or next to them, things are assumed.  And if you like each other, things happen.  Hand holding, a kiss, a cuddle.  Things.

And I was really not wanting to go there.

We hadn't even held hands yet.  Being at his place seemed like a lot.

As I mentioned (somewhere) that once I was at Burning Man, I knew I didn't want to keep seeing him, in a romantic way, or possibly at all, really.  And that then, when I was out I saw him smoking and that seemed like an easy way out.  That I could tell him I didn't date smokers.

Oh, and then Connor and I ran into him out shopping that next weekend.  Or whenever that was.

I haven't heard from him since.  I wonder if he saw me with Connor and (wrongly) assumed I was on a date with a new guy.  Or if he just assumed that when I'd turned down his offer for a walk (saying, quite honestly at the time) that I was overwhelmed with being back at work, maybe soon, and then saw me out with Connor, that I just didn't want to see him?

Whatever the case, I haven't had to have that awkward conversation with him yet because he hasn't asked me out again.

He may still, and I'll have to find a way to explain that I'm not interested romantically, and I'm not sure what's best to say.  You smoke?  I don't feel a connection?  This just isn't a romantic thing?

Gah. 

No wonder people just prefer to randomly stop talking to people they're just kind of casually dating.  It sucks having to say you don't want to see them in that way anymore.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

From Sunday On

Sunday morning, Jay and I headed out on our bikes.  We biked around and ended up at center camp.

Things were being taken down.  Lots were already empty.  People had already left.  It felt... sad.

We relaxed at center camp, reading the Burning Man newspaper (which I found utterly hilarious!) and people watched.

After a while we headed out to find Jay's travel partner.  She told us there was a rumour going around of a storm coming Monday morning and that people were really worried.  (You can't move when it rains, everything is shut down due to the mud)  There was also a rumour that the Temple had been built with flame-retardant plywood and so it wouldn't burn.

It was hard to know what was real, but the storm seemed to be legit so I said goodbye to Jay and headed back to my camp.

Saying goodbye was hard.  I didn't know when I'd see him again, or even if I really would.  I'd forgotten, somehow, that he wasn't coming back to Victoria, that he lived in Vancouver and worked there, and that I had no idea if or when we'd connect again.  But I waved him goodbye, wiped away the tears and headed back to camp.  No time for sad, this was Burning Man after all!

My camp mates were in a packing frenzy.  They'd heard about the storm too and wanted to be ready to go at a moment's notice.

I felt bad that I'd been off relaxing while they were packing, but I'd also tidied my stuff the night before so between the four of us it didn't take long to take down our tents and pack everything into the RV.

We headed out after "dinner" (which again, I don't know if or what we ate... more jerky and almonds perhaps?) and went to the Temple burn.

It was amazing to me the difference in the two crowds.

On the night of the Man burn the crowd had been lively, noisy.  Well behaved and non-threatening, but alive!

The crowd at the Temple burn was quiet, calm, introspective, and respectful.  The burn started in silence.

I know I didn't have the attachment to the Temple that many did, although I think it was stunningly beautiful.  And I think I was perhaps also starting to worry about getting home in time and not getting stuck in the storm.

We checked the radio (yes, Black Rock City has a radio station for the duration of Burning Man, and I think perhaps after as well on the internet) and there was a six hour wait to leave.  (To get from the exit to the highway.)  So we decided to wait.

Connor went into the RV to make some space to rest while the girls and I got out our camp chairs and watched the hunky guys disassemble their art car.  (Delicious!)

I let them sleep while I monitored the radio station, which was announcing how long the Exodus wait times were.

It was somewhere near 2am when I realized that the wait time (which was up at 8 or 9 hours) and the amount of time when the storm was going to hit (it had been confirmed, not just a rumour) meant that if we didn't leave right then, we might get stuck in the storm and not be able to leave for... who knows how long.

So we left.

I did my best to stay awake in the back because it didn't feel fair that Connor should have to be the only one awake just because he was driving.  But it took a toll on me.

By the time we got to the highway at 7:45 I was in the roughest shape of the entire trip.

I popped a gravol and did my best to sleep.  Waking up a few hours later, I was glad I'd rested a bit.

Exodus itself is part of the Burning Man adventure, and if you leave on the days when most people leave, you know you're in for a number of hours in line.

They "pulse" the traffic, which means you're stopped for a while (half hour or so) and then you go for a bit, and then stop for a bit, etc.

I was pretty out of it, but did, at some point after dawn, head out to go to pee in the portapotty they place along the entrance/exit lane/road.

I jumped up and down and screamed when I opened the door of one to find a random guy going poop.  "Sorry, no lock" he said as I danced around.

There was a cute hippy sort of guy behind me also dancing around, but he told me he was doing the pee dance.

Later, he brought Connor some chocolate covered coffee beans, and Connor, later still, went to pee himself and somehow managed to keep peeing, even when the entire portapotty wall fell forward, exposing him to the line of cars, parked, waiting.

As we turned out onto the highway, Connor popped in a Floyd album he'd been saving for the trip home and...we lost power.

No radio, no dash lights, and, we'd discover later, no headlights.

We drove (or, I should say, Connor drove, thank you Connor!) for hours and made it somewhere or other before we stopped.

Which is when we discovered that the RV was, yet again, in need of repair.

We got a jump the next morning, determined to make it back to the awesome repair shop we'd been to on the way down.

It must have been Tuesday that they fixed our alternator (but not the mystery radio/dash/light situation) and on the way towards Washington state we got a new battery too (Connor wonders if the starting and stopping of Exodus did in the alternator which then did in the battery... or something.

I felt the worry of being back in time for work, and so we pushed hard, waking early because we had to drive while it was light out, and caught the five pm ferry back to Victoria on Wednesday.

As we sat in a restaurant in Port Angeles waiting for the ferry time, we were all exhausted.  There was not a lot of conversation and it was nice to have a meal, and be clean.

When we'd arrived at the camp site that first afternoon, I was thrilled that it had a pool.  And yes, I jumped in.  It was glorious.

As was the shower I took, even though my hands pruned up in minutes, unused to the moisture.

My hair had nearly started to make dreads the next day as I'd brought shampoo but forgotten conditioner and so I sat in the RV and slowly combed it out for a half an hour... pulling chunks of matted hair out.

Coming home I was tired, but wanted to deal with my stuff.  I threw some of it out right away, and put some in a giant pile to wash (with some vinegar added to the soap) and I tried to clean my bike.

Some other things I just left in the bin, or put in the trunk of my car to deal with later.

I felt pretty rough Wednesday night so called in sick for Thursday and Friday, and I'm really glad I did as I ended up with what felt like strep throat but what was maybe just "change of atmosphere" and "stress over wanting to get home safely, but on time" throat.)  Anyway, I spent Thursday doing laundry and cleaning things and resting and feeling dazed, and I don't remember anymore what I did Friday or that weekend except that I rested and slept and tried to take care of myself so I'd start feeling better.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Saturday


Morning Had Broken by foundimagination
Connor and I had made plans the night before to wake up and watch the sunrise.

I'd set my alarm, but with the earplugs in, didn't quite hear it but I somehow woke up in time anyway.

Not that I was terribly awake after a 2am crash, but I woke Connor in the RV and we cycled out into the walk-in camping area and watched as the sun rose up, red behind the clouds.

We went back to camp in the calm and quiet and I sat and journalled for a while.

Here's (most of) what I wrote that morning.

I feel like I'm on the edge of something.  Maybe writing will help me figure out what.

I need to talk less, respond less, and just be.  To absorb what is being said.

Lots of planes this morning.  I think they'll always make me think of Jay.
I keep thinking we'll have this amazing spiritual-sexual connection and then he just shows his complete self-absorption and I somehow get re-shocked by it every time.  I guess because we talked so much those early days, I somehow felt he saw into ME, and that he was sensitive and loving and would think of me and would take care of me and be considerate of me...but he's not, he really never was, but I took what I got from him because it was better than I'd had before.

I feel like I should go get ice.  And go back and get my Soul Mate.  I'm hungry though.

I guess I feel like there will never be someone who is my partner who takes care of me the way I want to be loved.  Or that there will be but I won't be interested in him.

Everyone's bikes are starting to click.  Noisy.  Creaking.

This is about me, but I wanted it to be about us, and it seem like "us", here, for him was only about the sex, not the intimacy or the closeness.  And I'm glad we shared the sex, but I wish it had been more, and that it had been every night.

I want people to like me but I always just assume they won't unless I be something they'd like.  That's why it's easier with kids, I can just be who I feel and they don't care or mind.

I feel like a lot of people are leaving.  I guess to get home in time for work.

Natalie called me "a Lover, not a Fighter."  She said I have a big heart.  That I can be quiet and introspective.

The Man burns tonight.  Makes me sad to know all that beautiful work, those hours, won't exist anymore.  Will be destroyed.

It's dustier on this side of Black Rock City.

After the regional burn with Jay, I know I won't seek him out and I don't really believe he'll seek me out here.  Unless, perhaps, he has some yet to be fulfilled Burning Man sexual wish that he wants me to fulfill.
I wrote to him at the Temple.  About him and to him. 

I think I took a break at this point and before I could get back to writing, Jay showed up.

I did not want to talk to him and when he came over to say hi, I was very curt.

He walked away, "I guess I just won't bother you then."  And part of me wanted to continue to mentally tantrum at him but I took a deep breath, realized I was not being mature and went over to him where he'd stopped to chat with Connor.

I pulled him aside and we sat down together on the playa floor under our shade.

I smiled, looked at him and talked.

"I keep wishing and hoping you'll be someone different and it re-shocks me every time you're not.  And I get hurt, and disappointed every time because I keep wishing you'll change.  And you don't."

"You are, by far, the most selfish person I have ever known and it absolutely floors me.  I do not understand it, or how you function in life like this, because I really have never met anyone as selfish and self-centered as you are."

And perhaps that sounds harsh, but Jay and I have always been honest with each other and to me, it was what I needed to say.  And I didn't yell it at him, nor was I coming from a malicious place.  I was coming from a place of "here's how I feel."

And then I think I may have leaned towards him and kissed him or maybe placed my hand on his leg or something, because I seem to remember him saying "well then why do you keep kissing me?"

And I laughed and said "I just can't help it."

Because I can't.  I love being with Jay.  When Jay and I are physically in the same place I am content.

When Jay and I are hugging or cuddling or being intimate, I'm happy and calm.

And I love being physical, and I wanted and needed to express that at Burning Man and Jay was there and Jay was safe and comfortable and I wanted to be with people I knew and who were friends.  And that was Jay.

We talked for a bit more, and I felt very much at peace, and we decided to spend the day together.

I went to tell Connor I was going to go pick up the information about my soul mate and he told me I didn't have to.  My soul mate was there.  He'd been given my information and had come to find me.

Ironic, no?  There was my new found soul mate, and there I was, arms wrapped around my ex-boyfriend on the desert floor as we kissed and didn't make up.  He asked if I wanted to hang out but I told him I was just hanging out.

He was leaving the next day and the irony did not pass me by.  My supposed soul mate had come to see me and I was leaving to spend the day with Jay.

Oh, Universe, you're so funny!

Jay and I, however, ended up having a great day.

We biked out into the deep open playa and looked at art all day.  We biked from one piece to another, through dust storms so thick we had to slow down so as not to lose each other.  We found a random bar where Jay drank and I had orange juice.  And where I sat and drew in the sand while he made new friends.  I sang along to the music when an art car pulled up and then I made my way to the random portapotties in the middle of nowhere. 

We left there and went to "the Oasis", another thing in the middle of the deep desert with couches and beach umbrellas and we napped there for a while, until a fellow there offered a ten minute meditation session.  I was happy and relaxed by the time we left, and happy to just be with Jay without feeling like I was "with" Jay... or anything.  I can't explain it, but it was like we were together but... not.

We biked to Mark's place for dinner, and on the way home from there we stopped so Jay could climb a giant rope.  (Things are just so awesomely random you don't even think about it.)

I sat as he climbed the rope and proceeded to hang up side down from it when this adorable gal from Tasmania called me over.

"Is he yours?" she asked.

"He used to be."

"Seems like you two still really like each other," she said after we'd sat and talked for a while.

We hugged.  "Yeah," I answered.  "We do."

Jay and I went to the Man burn together that night, just the two of us.

We sat right up close, took in the entire, gorgeous, I can't-believe-this-is-happening show, from the fire dancers to the fireworks and the explosion of the sculpture that then just burned and burned and burned with this incredible heat and smoke filled dust devils that would swirl and then get sucked back in, dancing, by the heat.

It meant everything to me that I was there with Jay.

That I was there with one of "my" people.  With someone I had a relationship with, not just a new acquaintance, and not just by myself.

I can be by myself, I do it a lot, but I much prefer sharing an experience with someone, and while Jay and I may not be... perfect, we do care for and love each other and have a great time when we're together, and I loved sitting next to him watching the man burn.

We separated a bit after the burn, when Jay wanted to continue with the crowd that was circling the embers and I wanted out of the crowd (where I was not entirely comfortable in a slightly feeling claustrophobic way) and I spent the next couple of hours wandering through the art cars that had gathered around to watch the burn.  It was awesome.

These gorgeously lit up pieces of movable art with people on them dancing or not, just being, whatever they felt, and flame.  Flame and fire.  And I must have stared at this one art car that was shooting flame for twenty minutes, no kidding.  (Yes, completely sober.)

Night is always a bit dustier and I still need to figure out how to wear my glasses so I can see but to also have dust goggle type protection.  Something to sort out before next year.  Or next time... which I hope is next year.

I made my way home after a while, and was greeted by Connor who told me Jay had been by and was looking for me.

I sat and chatted with Connor for a bit about his burn and Jay came back and found me, and we crashed out in my tent.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Friday

Friday was a great day.

In the morning, I went out with Natalie and we just biked around.  We'd wanted to check out the neighbourhood and see who and what was around our camp, but we ended up at the man.

We went up into the man (first time I'd seen it with no lineup) and looked at the art inside.  I, again, wished I'd brought my camera as the views from inside were really awesome.

We took the slide down out of the man (yes, you read that right, the slide!) and rode our way back towards home.

We stopped to get ourselves "stamped."  A little stand a guy had set up where you could get a stamp he'd had made stamped on you.  I got one on my arm and one on my back and then he gave me a hug and I was made a liiiiiitle uncomfortable when he told me that the hug had given him a hard on.  I just smiled and nodded, but, well, he was easily sixty years old and had that "don't take candy from the man in the white van" vibe to him, but, well, anyway.  Ahem.

When we got back to camp, we decided that Natalie, Connor and I would go try to do some of the things I'd wanted to check out.  So we made a list!

The list was entitled "vague plan" and had the addresses of five places we were going to try to get to that morning/mid-day.

We headed over to my co-worker's place (which I found IMPOSSIBLE to navigate to, but which Natalie found easily).

On the way there we encountered a random bunch of people giving away cotton candy!  Weirdly enough, I found sweet things overly sweet in the desert so I ate half of mine and gave the rest away.

We found my friend's place, but they weren't there so I left them a gift and a note.

Then we went and got snow cones!  In the desert!  They had a bike that they'd somehow converted so that when you pedalled it, it shaved the ice.  Then you got to choose your own syrup flavour and flavour powder.  I didn't even know there was snow cone powder!!!  It was delicious though, and so nice and refreshing to have ice and a snow cone... in the desert!

As we ate our cones, I talked to one of the guys who lived/volunteered/worked there and told him that this was the one thing I'd promised myself I'd do at Burning Man.  When he heard that he insisted on going and making me a giant, double decker, all flavour snow cone just for me.

How did people just keep being awesome?

We stopped by an "interactive" misting station that misted you with water... mmmmmm... water, and then made our way to another awesome camp that claimed to be able to find you your Soulmate!

We had to fill out long forms and then go through an interview process with the promise that if we returned tomorrow they'd tell us who at Burning Man was our soul mate.

We headed back, it was hot by then and someone had loaned us a stove, so we had a meal that I wasn't particularly able to stuff down, and then we watched the terribly gorgeous dusty mad-max men fixing their art car across from us.

Dreamy sigh.

In the spirit of Burning Man, and wanting to be more like this in life in general, I approached the super hot one and told him that watching them all work had been making my Burning Man.  I gave him one of the scarves I'd knitted to take as gifts and he thanked me (with a hug and kiss on the cheek! EEEE!) and put it on.

Happy dreamy sigh.

After dinner, I went out with Connor.  We took some photos of his friend's lit-up costume that he'd promised his friend he'd take.  And we went through the temple, and I left a note for my best friend's Dad who'd died this Winter, and I cried a bit for having lost him.

We then came across a regional sculpture that was going to be burned and we sat and watched it from start to finish.  I loved it, and took some photos I also really like.

I've always liked fires, but have never really had the opportunity to watch them outside of a fireplace or fire pit.  And it always felt safe, watching these things burn, as there were fire men and rangers and guys watching the burn and the crowd to make sure everything and everyone was kept safe.

We walked past the Thunder dome, but violence is not my thing, and we made our way home.  I was suddenly tired, and crashed out, somewhat surprised to see it was 2am.

Monday, 23 September 2013

Thursday

Always More Fun To Be Had by foundimagination
I woke up Thursday morning with Jay.  He'd wanted to stay closer to town as his setup was far out where it's very quiet.

We were still in a quiet part of town, but when our sexy horse art car came home at five or six in the morning blasting Nirvana, I had to laugh.

Welcome to sleeping in the city, Jay!  We don't sleep much here, and we like us our noise.

Or, rather more honestly, we sleep here because we've been out in the air and elements all day and biking or walking for hours every day and all it takes to sleep is being tired and putting in earplugs.  Because, yes, I slept very well at Burning Man, and woke up each morning feeling rested and restored.  Awesome.

Jay and I biked out to his setup and had breakfast, and then I took off to have the heat of the day to myself.  I knew I couldn't stay in our camp, and I forget what Jay was up to for the day but we split ways with plans to meet after dinner/sunset to go to the regional burns together.  (On Thursday night, they burn some of the art.  Not the main pieces, but some of the pieces made by various cities around the world.  Like, the Victoria Burning Man community built a piece and the Reno community, etc. etc.)

I went to center camp, a large, circular area that's partially closed off, and with some shade.  There are two stages within center camp with activities going on all day, art all around the space, dancers and partner yoga going on in the center area, and one of the only two places you can spend money (ice sales being the other) in the entire city.  Center camp sells coffee and iced drinks and I was happy to lie on the cushions and bolsters that are scattered throughout the space, drinking an iced lemonade and just watching everything going on.  I napped for a while, but eventually had to pee so I headed out again.

My bike lock had been acting up (I figured it was the dust) and so after I got help from information to find the closest portapotties (and had to do the birdie dance in exchange for a new map) I went to the bike repair camp and they helped me fix my lock (it wasn't the dust, but a super easy fix, and the guys there were awesome and helpful)  I headed out and not half a block away, one of my front brake wires popped off.  I was walking my bike back when I ran into a girl in a super mario mushroom costume who worked there and we chatted on our way back to the camp.  She and another fellow helped me put my cable back in (I think I could probably do it myself again now) and when I thanked her, I started to cry.

I'm an emotional person, we know this, but something about being helped, just because I was there and needed it kept striking me as the nicest thing.  No one wanted anything in return, they were just there to help.  Me.  And anyone else who needed help.  It's kind of an astoundingly awesome thing.

I biked around for a while, mentally shaking my head at myself because there I was out and about in the middle of the day, had I gone crazy? and then I made my way to the clothing boutique camp where they were set up like a store and you could go and find outfits that suited you.  I'd felt really out of place (another post another day) and so I found a scarf and a simple long black dress and a cute white shirt and then I headed back to my camp for more down time in shade.

I'd noticed my toe starting to hurt.  Not my big toe, but my second toe.  When I went to look at it, it was red, but I couldn't see what the problem was.  My skin in general was pretty unhappy.  Mainly my fingers and hangnail type areas.  My fingers were pretty destroyed and that toe in particular was unhappy.  My boot was just making it hurt more and when I investigated, my boots felt like rock.  (Pretty great hiking boots I got last Spring)  My best guess is that while I sweated in them, it turned the dust in them into a sort of hardened rock-like owie making thing, so I switched into my runners and that felt better.

That evening, after another non-meal of beef jerky and almonds, I sat around waiting for Jay.  I was feeling pretty anxious.  I didn't want to go out with my camp mates, I'm not sure I can explain why other than I ... just didn't want to go with them, but I also didn't exactly want to go with myself.  But I didn't want to just sit and wait for Jay if he wasn't going to show.

I had made a last minute decision to just go to the regional burns with my camp mates when Jay showed up.  He was annoyed at having to wait for my camp mates to get ready, and I was annoyed that he was annoyed after he showed up much later than he'd said he would.

We took off on our bikes and headed to the burns which were already under way.  We made our way to the front of the crowd and sat watching.  I leaned over to Jay and told him that I'd like to go to a burn with him.

He replied with "this one."

And I, in that moment, gave up.

It was the final straw for me with him.  He'd showed up late, had been frustrated to have to wait for us to leave and now he wasn't even going to consider spending any more time with me, wasn't going to go to another burn with me even as I sat there telling him it's what I'd like.  How many more times did I have to let this guy show me how very little I meant to him.  This was my ending point.

"This one," he said.

"Okay," I said.  "Okay."  And I got up and I left.

I stood by our bikes until they came back (Connor had locked his to mine and I didn't want to leave his bike unlocked as it might have been taken) but man oh man did I ever just want to take off into the desert and never see Jay again.

I left them and went to the Temple.  I wrote out a bit how I felt about our relationship and I sat and cried.  As I was leaving, I turned back and wrote the following...

"Jay,
Loving you showed me how little I think of myself.  
And you never even said thank you.
Victoria "

And I cried.

I was dizzy, that's how emotional it all was for me.  Seeing him being him, and seeing me wanting more, and how it wasn't really about him, but about how being with him just highlighted how I treat myself and think of myself.  And that's where the hurt comes from.  Not that he's who he is, that's his life.  I hurt because I don't seem to think I'm worth more than this.  Or the guy before.  Repeat.  Repeat.  Repeat.  It hurt me that I'm like this to myself.

I was pretty shaky, so I walked my bike around.  I found a sculpture piece that broke me down again.  It was all questions about YOU.  What do you want for your life?  How do YOU express yourself?  And things like that.  I wish I'd had my camera so I could have captured the questions so that I could sit here now and figure them out, but it was just the right thing at the right moment to make me think... about me.

I kept walking around, shaking until I eventually found myself back in center camp.  I found a spot and I put in my earphones, threw on some of my music and slept for a while.

I woke up an hour or so later, I don't know what time it was, maybe midnight?  But I was a little bit chilly and I knew I should get home.

It was a dark ride home, literally and figuratively and when I got back, Connor showed up but I didn't feel like talking and I told him so.

I remember cleaning my backpack a little, something had spilled and the dust had turned the spill into mud which had hardened and then I went to bed.

It was colder, enough that I was able to use my sleeping bag.

I remember thinking that I would likely not see Jay again.  That I was certainly not going to go looking for him and I believed, at that point, with all of me, that he would not bother coming to try to find me.

I was done with him and while I wouldn't say I was happy with it, it was a calm feeling.  If one still with some anger.

I remember lying there thinking that the playa was pulsating.  The beat of music vibrating, quite literally through the desert floor.  I remember thinking that I like the quiet.

I'm not sure that I made any choices with regards to Jay that night but I wrote down that I'm still hooked to him sexually... physically, but that something had changed for me in a major way.

I also wrote down that I was finding it hard to eat.  That I wish we had actual meals (which perhaps we would have had if our fridge or stove had been working.)  That I felt like I was forcing protein on myself, which was hard, and not because I'm hungry, but because I think I must need it.

(Now, before you jump in with any pitchforks or Jay bashing protest signs*, just know that the week wasn't over yet, and just because I thought I'd never see him again doesn't mean that's what the universe had planned for me.)



* I mean, not that you'd do that you delicious bunch of lovelies, you!

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Wednesday, Continued

Well, clearly I didn't come home.  The fact that I've already written here that I loved my trip and am so glad I went should be the spoiler alert that I managed to stay.

But I was really not sure I would be able to.

Once the bags of ice had started to bring down my core temperature somewhat, my co-worker friend (who needs a name... how about Mark?) Mark came in his car and asked if I wanted to come have dinner at their place.

Something in me shouted "this is a good idea!" so even though I was still scared of the heat, I said yes.

And I pulled on a dress over my bikini  (because somehow I felt that my co-worker shouldn't have to see me in my bikini)  and we threw my bike in the back (he was not allowed by the DMV to drive after dark so I was likely going to have to bike my way home) and we drove (less than 5 mph remember) through the dusty bumpy roads, across the desert to his place.

He'd insisted I bring my camera, which hadn't been out much the previous days, and I'm glad I did.  But even the ride there was more fun than I'd had so far.

Seeing everyone out and about, and maybe even feeling a little bit of a breeze.  (Of which there was none under our shade shelter)  I was already feeling a bit better.

We stopped and picked up some passengers which was also fun and soon enough we were at their place.

They'd brought their kids, which was nice, and somehow reassuring to see a pretty normal family life situation (eat your dinner please!) in this not so normal place.

I realized it was the first meal I'd eaten since Monday morning.  Sure, I'd had protein bars or nuts or some beef jerky, but this was a cheeseburger.

Our fridge didn't work, and our stove didn't work either (both worked before we got there, but didn't once we arrived) and so watching Mark cook on his mini BBQ and his wife produce cold juice drinks felt like a not-so small miracle.

And I was full after half the burger, but I knew my body needed and wanted the protein and energy so I made myself eat it all, slowly, but surely.

And you guys, these two saved my burn.

Mark and his wife, feeding me, having me over to their place in this world full of strangers was so reassuring.  And just what I (and my poor body needed.)

I was still overheated, and the dress didn't last long (too hot!) but Mark's wife asked if she could put some sparkly make up on me.

I felt like saying no, but again, it's Burning Man, I told myself, just go with it.

It was hard not to cry as she did my makeup.  Again, perhaps that feeling of being unused to people being kind to me, taking care of me, doing something nice for me just because.

Her three year old daughter insisted on lots of sparkles and some blue nail polish (but just on one finger.)

I started to feel like I fit in.  Like I wasn't just surviving.

We took some pictures, and then watched the sun going down (and I was fully in love with the people and how they love the sun going down behind the hills) and then we, the entire family and I (Mark in his costume, his children in theirs and his wife and I in our sparkle-makeup) on our bikes, off to look at art in the desert.

It was great being with them.  Everyone loved the kids, and I loved being out and about with people I knew (remember, they'd had me over for dinner a month or two before Burning Man and so I knew them a little) and felt comfortable with (they'd been before, and had a great setup at their camp and I felt safe and happy.)

I would have loved to have stayed out with them longer, but I'd not brought my glasses in my backpack and I can't see very well without them past dusk.  I went back to camp, and wasn't sure what exactly I was going to do with my evening, now that I could see, and Jay showed up.

It was, again, just what I needed.

As I write this, I'm struck by a saying that's sometimes heard on the playa.  Not "safety third!", that's a different saying for another story, but "The Playa provides."

Because as I sit here, looking back on this day, the day I thought I would be going home and talking about how Mark, and then Jay came, just at the right time to turn everything around for me, I realize it's an example of how the playa provides.

And it did.

Jay showing up was just what I needed.

I was still only able to wear my bikini, but I think I maybe threw on my tutu too (I was still so damn hot you guys.) and Jay and I set out to explore the city at night.

I'd been out our very first night, to see the man and the temple and the lit up city and art cars, but I hadn't actually been out.  The night before had been my heat exhaustion fuelled attempt to sleep, so this was my first real time experiencing Black Rock City.

As I'd left Mark and his family, I'd heard a massive sound stage blasting Pink Floyd.  Which, hello, could anything have been any more perfect?  And Connor had told me that they were showing a rare Floyd movie that night.

(But, as an aside, not at the actual movie theatre that I discovered was out in deep playa.  Yes, someone built an actual movie theatre out on the desert.  With a big screen and popcorn and they showed movies.  I never got to it but still... mind blowing.)

I told Jay I'd like to find it, but that I was only vaguely sure of where it was.

I was still not good with directions or how to get anywhere and so when I tried to describe where Mark's place had been and where in the city/playa the Floyd had been coming from I wasn't very helpful.

Jay and I decided to try to find it if we could, but to do whatever else we ran into.

I realized, fairly soon, that Jay was drunk.  Not wasted drunk, but tipsy.  And I've never seen Jay tipsy.

Other than one time when he was away and he and his co workers had been celebrating and he got drunk and passed out on a video call with me (which I found hilarious and he's not sure he remembers) Jay is not a drinker.  And so this tipsy version of him was pretty amusing to me.

And he wasn't shy with his hands.  Or his lips.  Which was fine with me.

It was really nice to be in familiar territory.

My stomach wasn't thrilled with having to process an entire burger's worth of meat after so little food for the two previous days so when we got to one particular art piece, I sat and put in my headphones and listened to music while Jay went up to the highest level of the piece and chatted with people.

I kept making eye contact with this one guy who eventually came over and asked me what I was listening to.  We listened together for a bit, exchanged some conversation, hugged and he left.

I went down to our bikes and waited for Jay.

We wandered through a bit more art on the playa and then headed back into town.  (I'd given up on trying to find the Floyd, I was so clearly disoriented.)  We wanted to find bathrooms and Jay decided to ask at the "Bureau of Misinformation" but after we'd both flashed them (me feeling really shy,  and quickly showing one quick boobie to the girl, Jay happy to strip down to nothing for a spanking) they told us something random and I was ready to leave.

Jay, however, was ready to sit with a hot chick and play giant Jenga, so I flopped down on a bean bag, sort of annoyed at having to watch him... flirt... even if it was just friendly, and even if we didn't have any claim on each other anymore.

I did, however, enjoy the tail end of a male burlesque show, and we found portapotties (which is when I discovered the ones near my camp were really super clean compared to the "party zones" of town) and then Jay decided to try a trampoline based ride and the second time he went on it, there was blood.  And it was his, and so off to the medical tent we went.

He was lucky that he'd been wearing a scarf around his head and so the gash didn't need stitches.  The medical care was awesome.  Volunteers, but all EMTs or nurses or doctors.  Incredible. 

I was still too warm, so we went to a cool place that had great live music, and went to their back tent where there were couches and pillows and we just relaxed.

Jay wasn't feeling awesome from his wound, and it was too hot to snuggle, well, ok, I was too hot to snuggle, but it felt really nice to be with him and near him and he suggested a camp he knew of that had air conditioning.

AIR CONDITIONING?  SIGN ME UP!

So we biked there and had a nap, curled up together, because finally it was a reasonable temperature and my body went "phew" and after a while we slowly biked our way back to my place and Jay spent the night.

He spent the night under my sleeping bag, while I spent the night out in the open.  My tent, I'd left the doors open so it was cooler, but not cool.  But there was enough air with the doors left open for me to breathe.

And I didn't care if anyone bothered to look in and saw me naked.  I just was happy to be able to sleep.

I was finally cooler (if still too warm) and I cleaned my teeth (didn't use paste as I didn't want to have to go spit it in the porta potty) and wiped myself down with baby wipes a little. (I felt like while I didn't have B.O.  I did have a sort of playa scent to me.  It wasn't a bad smell, but I noticed it.  And I didn't particularly care.)

Earplugs, face mask, and I slept well.  Relieved to have had food, and friends and a great evening.  Comfort.  And just a little bit cooler.

Friday, 20 September 2013

Wednesday, The 28th?

Witnessing by foundimagination
Not sure what all I did that next morning, but logic tells me that I biked to where Jay was volunteering.  (I just didn't write it down in my journal, but I know that's what I did and this is the morning that makes sense for me to have done it.)

It was a fair bike ride from our place, but it was also good to be out and about.  The breeze as I biked was nice.

By the way, people often ask if you really need a bike to get around.  Well, technically no, but the place is huge.  You're best to have a bike to get around.  (Although you do sometimes miss things because you're going at biking speed rather than walking speed.)

I got to where he was and asked if anyone could help me find him.  People tried but they weren't sure who he was or where he'd said he'd be and so I hung out there for a bit, biked around looking for his car for a bit, and was just about to give up when I walked around to the last side of the building and he was there.

I felt shy.  He seemed so happy.  So in his element.  And he looked great.  Like a gypsy roaming pirate.  One that I was very attracted to.

And he came over and gave me a hug and I told him that I wasn't feeling so good in the heat and that I was heading back to my camp.  I was maybe a little unsure about how I felt seeing him, but he seemed terribly handsome to me.  But I also just wanted to get home where I knew there was shade, and shelter and where I'd see how I coped with the heat.

My body was still revving high.  Still red in the face overheated.  I knew I had to be careful of my health, but the theme of the day was still "too hot."

I'd gone into my tent around four or five the night before and managed to sleep until around six, when the tent started to get warm again in the sun.

Back at camp, after seeing Jay, I sat in my chair, trying to cool off.  To no avail.  I was too hot.  I can't explain this enough.  I'm not even close to exaggerating.  I've never felt anything like this before.  Too hot, and nothing was seeming to help.

At one point, I turned to Connor and told him, quite honestly, that I felt I wasn't going to make it.

He promised me that my body would adjust in a couple of days, but I didn't believe him.  "What if it doesn't?  What if my body just can't handle it?"

I seem to remember having a heat-induced massive cry the day before, but like I say, the days all blur together a bit.

I know I was drinking a lot of water, and gatorade, and electrolyte enriched water, and at some point I changed into my bikini and that helped.

My co-worker friend stopped by in his art car to ask if I wanted to join him and his family.  They were going to center camp to try to beat the heat.  I asked them if it was cool there.  They hesitated. 
"Not... cool.. exactly, but distracting?"

I didn't feel like I could risk it, so I stayed put.  (In retrospect, I maybe should have gone with them.  But, these are the things you learn your first time at Burning Man, right?)

At some point.  Four?  Five?  Six?  I went with Natalie and Connor to get ice.  It was hot, but passed what I figured was the hottest part of the day and I thought ice would help, so off we went.  Me in my bikini and tutu.

I shouldn't have gone. 

I carried back three heavy blocks of ice a long way on foot and by the time I got back I was completely overheated.  Like bad.  Really bad.

I started crying.

Crying because I was too hot.

And that cry (which was coming from a very deep down, genuine place) turned into it being me sobbing because I knew that Jay, most likely, would not have stopped the fun I was imagining him having to come take care of me.  (Honestly, I know I wrote this in my journal as being Wednesday's cry, but I feel like the Jay cry may have been Tuesday's)  But I wanted him there.  Wanted a comforting person, someone who was mine, not strangers.  And I had a really hard time accepting that Connor was ok sitting there making sure I was ok.

I felt like he'd already taken too much time Tuesday to help me through my heat issues and my heat cry and now here he was stuck doing it again.  Between he and Natalie, they didn't leave my side all through the worst.

"You've been independent for a long time, haven't you?"  Connor said, when I sobbed to him that he didn't need to waste his time helping me.  Which just made me cry more.

It was (another) big cry.  I was overly hot.  I couldn't bring my body temperature back down.

Connor would bring me a special cloth I'd brought, soaked in ice water and it'd be hot in minutes.  A cold cloth from the cooler, put on my forehead was hot and dry in a minute or two.

What started to work was crushed ice.  In bags.  On me.  And in my water. 

Me sitting there, crying and hugging big bags of ice is all that worked.

It started to bring my temperature down.  And I was all cried out too.

I couldn't remember eating, particularly, and Natalie suggested that all my drinks have electrolytes in them, not just every second one.

I told Connor that I couldn't do another day like this.  That if tomorrow was like yesterday and today?  I was honestly going to have to go home.  My body was not coping with the heat.  It was not adjusting and it was not self-cooling. 

I feel like one of the things that saved me was watching the super hunky guys working on their magnificent art car.

I went up to one of them, the guy I'd spoken to our first morning, and who I think is still the dishiest person I saw at Burning Man, and told him, through my massive sobs, that this was my first burn.  That I was having a really hard time with the heat, and that watching him and his crew work was the perfect distraction and had gotten me through the last couple of days.

He was sweet.  Gave me a hug (which I wasn't too far gone not to appreciate) and told me that there were things I could do to help with the heat.  Did I want to go in their hammock?

I declined, told him I was hugging ice in my chair, but I felt it was important that I told him thank you.

I often feel that way in life.  That I wish I could thank people for how they impacted me positively that they maybe didn't even know about.  And Burning Man was not the place to hold back.

I was, honestly, seriously considering going home.  I knew something had to change.  I could not spend another day like this.  I had to get my body temperature down.

I talked with Natalie, and then with Connor about possible things I could do.  Could I volunteer somewhere that had air conditioning?  Maybe the medical tents would?  But if not, if it was just this again the next day, I was absolutely going to have to get a ride into Reno and catch a plane home.

This was not ok.

I seem to remember Jay stopping by at some point during the hottest part of the day.  He wanted me to come out with him.

I was flabbergasted.  How was anyone managing to be out there?  In the sun?  The heat?

I told him I didn't know how people were functioning.

He said he was hot too, did I want to come?

I told him again.  I didn't know how people were functioning.

He sat with us for a while, sat on my chair with me before I had to ask him to move because it was too much heat him being there.

You guys, I can't explain how bad it was.

It was the complete loss of control of my body's heat and knowing that it wasn't able to right itself and I didn't know what to do.

It was overwhelming and scary.

Thursday, 19 September 2013

And Now The Days Start To Meld Together

By my notes, it would have been Tuesday when we woke up on the playa for the first time.

(And may I just say that all of a sudden the "Frosted Lucky Charms" jingle is in my head?  From... nowhere?  Frosted Lucky Charms, they're magically delicious!  What is happening????  Ok.  Anyway)

We woke up that morning and peeked out the window and this massive art car had pulled up next to us.  It was these gorgeously styled metal hard core horses.  I wondered if perhaps we'd accidentally taken their camp and I didn't want to have upset anyone.

I wandered over to the (freshly cleaned, woo hoo!) portapotties and on the way back I asked a ranger (the Burning Man helpers/peace keepers) if we were ok to camp where we were.  They said that any reserved spots that were empty as of last night at 10pm were open to anyone and that we were ok to be in that spot (we'd gotten to it well past midnight.)

But we still weren't sure and I suggested to Connor that he talk to the guys I saw sitting on the car but then I figured, what the heck, I should just go talk to them myself.

And so I did.  I went over to these handsomely drunk and dusty men and, you know what?  They were pretty nice.  Sort of.

One of them sort of half ignored me and made some comment I didn't really hear and then the other, who I was already falling madly in love with, said he'd give me a half truthful answer and that yes, we were fine there, no problem.  And his smile was gentle and so I said thanks, told our gang and we started to unpack.

Which felt like rather a disaster.

It was so hot and dry.  I mean, they tell you as much, but you don't know it until you feel it.  It's completely energy sapping.  Especially coming from someone who lives where I do.  Where even when it's hot, there's at least moisture around.  And water nearby.  So even when it's hot here it's not like it was there.  Like I say, energy sapping.

I've been to hot places before, but never a desert.  (Well, other than parts of the Okanagan... but there's lakes there.)  And there was the elevation too.  I live at sea level.  This was nearly four thousand feet up.

I would be doing something, helping set up the shade shelter I'd bought (thank goodness I did buy that) and then I'd be dizzy and would have to sit down.  I did my best to keep drinking and be aware of the sun, but I'd not be able to do more than ten minutes before I'd need to sit for five.

My body definitely knew we were somewhere different.

I helped set up the girls' tent (I had my own) and the shade shelter and then I went off to try to meet my co-worker.

I realized once I got close to where he'd told me to meet him that I really didn't know where I was supposed to be.  So I sat and looked at the Man, amazed at how big it was, and just as I was about to give up, he rolled up on his bike.

He says I wasn't near where we were supposed to meet, but that he'd remembered me saying I made a tutu (it was Tutu Tuesday after all!) and so that's how he found me.

It was really nice to see a friendly face, but I felt like I didn't know quite what to say. 

I didn't know what I felt, and he asked me, how was I feeling, how did it all seem?  I wasn't overwhelmed.  (I'd really thought I was going to be.)  I wasn't impressed... or feeling anything in particular really just very " . . . "  unsure.  No comment.

He came back to our camp with me and told me where his is and then left to go to the DMV to register his small art car.  (That's the Department of Mutant Vehicles, by the way.  Heh.)  It was really nice to see him and he said, as we biked, that it was impossible to explain Burning Man to people.  That it was something you had to go to to understand.

I'm super happy he was there.

Back at camp, I joined back in setting things up.  Like my tent that we couldn't find.  (Hello mild panic... but we found it eventually.)

I got hot.

I'd met my friend at 10am, so it was probably 11 by the time I noticed I was too hot.

I did my best to keep drinking, but like I said, I would get suddenly sort of dizzy and need to sit down.  And every time I'd stand up I'd get the "stood up too quickly" spins.  I think that was most likely the elevation.

As we were working, we'd see people going by wearing tutus.  It was fun.  Tutus!  Yay!

By somewhere around mid day I was uncomfortably hot.  Like, red-faced hot.

I changed from my top and shorts into the sarong I'd brought.  (I wear one at home all summer)

It was too hot.

I tried wearing cooler clothes.  I tried soaking things in water and putting them on me.  Connor brought out his mini fan.

I was too hot.

It felt like my body was revving too high, revving in the reds and I had no way of bringing it down.

I realized I didn't remember having a "lunch"... had I maybe eaten one of the cured sausages we'd brought?  And I'd had water.  And electrolyte-filled water.  And gatorade (which tastes gross at home, but good on the playa) and I sat in my so-glad-I-bought-it-anti-gravity-recliner-lawn-chair and watched the scenery.  Art cars driving by.  People walking by.

I don't know how most of the afternoon went, but by dark, I was feeling exhausted, but cooler.  Ish.

My co-campers wanted to go out and about but I just wanted to stay and sleep.

I watched the nightlife for a while and then decided to let my poor body rest.  I went into my tent to get ready for bed, but the tent I'd so carefully selected to have no ventilation (to keep the dust out) was now too hot and way way too stuffy for me to sleep in.  I went to the RV, thinking it would be cooler, and knowing that Connor would understand if I told him I just needed to crash somewhere cool but it was too hot and stuffy too.  (I think that's when I realized that more than having a cool sleeping spot, I need to have air flow in my sleeping spot.)

I kind of panicked.  It was too hot in my tent.  I couldn't breathe or be in there.  It was too hot in the RV.  How was I going to sleep?  What was I going to do?  It was only the first day?  I was supposed to be here til Monday?  How was I going to do this?

But I talked myself down from that panic and I ended up grabbing my goggles, a dust mask, and a blanket from my tent.  I lay the recliner chair all the way back, popped in my earplugs and dozed off for a few minutes at a time.

At some point, the massive art car across from us turned on its loud, beat-heavy dance music and blindingly bright flashy lights.  And then the other metal horse art car put on its music too.  Somehow this didn't bother me.

I was cool enough to be catching some nap time, and I was resting.

This was Burning Man.  I figured that if I had to sleep out all week with earplugs in, a dust mask and goggles on, at least I was there.  And that was fine.

And my awesome napping skills came in handy.  I wouldn't say it was a deep sleep I had, but there was certainly some resting.

At who knows what in the morning, my camp-mates returned (less than sober, but still adorable) and found a note on the RV that Jay had left for me.

I must have slept through him coming by, and he must not have seen me, all wrapped up under our shade structure with its solar powered lights and decorations, but I was happy, I think, to have heard from him.

I stared at the note for a while.  He'd signed it "love, Jay xoxo"

What did I think of that, after all I'd gone through the weekend before we left?

Not sure.  But it was a relief to know he'd found us.  He was relieved too.  Last he'd heard (via my texting him) before he lost cell service was that we were stuck in Oregon for repairs.  He'd not actually known if we'd made it.  (I'd texted him the first morning when I woke up and was surprised to find I had cell service when I went to turn off my phone.)

He told me where he was working a volunteer shift the next day and that I should come see him.

I figured I would.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Questionate

Back Way by foundimagination
One of the things I've enjoyed about talking about my Burning Man trip with people is answering their questions.

A lot of the people I know have heard about Burning Man but never gone, and so they have questions.  And while my experience is just that... my own experience, and not what anyone else might go through, I can certainly talk about some aspects.

My friends who've been before say that this year was very mild, weather wise, so I'm aware that in a lot of ways we had it easy.

But, that's neither here nor there, and, yes, I know I'm babbling, you'll have to just put up with it, like always.  (insert smiley winky face here)

So I thought that maybe some of you might have questions too.  And that I could answer them in a future post.

Or maybe you don't.  Some of you have already been, I know, and some of you are maybe not that interested, or just want to hear my story play out, I don't know.

But I thought I'd put it out there anyway.  If you have a question about Burning Man, lay it on me, and I'll do my best to answer it.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Randomness

I feel like I have to pause here for a second and take a breath.  In the week that I spent getting home and then getting over that illness, life went on, and in the week I just spent recounting the days travelling down to Burning Man, life went on.  As life does.

We had glorious weather here last week.  So warm and sunny in fact, that I got a sunburn.  Something I didn't get down in the thirty five degree weather down in Nevada.  Go figure.

And then this weekend there was a change in weather and Sunday was full of rain and dark clouds and thunderstorms.

Just little baby ones.  We don't seem to produce giant ones here.  Not like the ones I saw in Texas where I thought the world was coming to an end but everyone else just slept through it.

Going back to work last week was in some ways not as awful as I'd worried it might be, but it was still overwhelming and brain numbing in so many ways.

I hung out with C-Dawg a bit this weekend, and with Connor, the driver guy who took us to Burning Man and back.  Connor and I went down to MEC for a walk and I ended up seeing the guy I'd been sort of dating before I left. 

I knew when I was at Burning Man that I wouldn't continue to see that guy, and I'm not sure I can explain exactly why I felt that way, but I was strangely relieved when I went for a bike ride mid-week last week and randomly saw him out and about in the neighbourhood and saw that he was smoking.

I kind of felt relief that I had a legitimate reason to not date him, he's a smoker.  Much easier than just feeling like I didn't like him all that much because he felt awkward to me.

Interestingly enough he seemed awkward when Connor and I ran into him too.  Guess it's just how he comes across.  At least to me.

My Dad was unwell again this weekend and it turned out not to be his heart, but still, it's not fun dealing with age and parents and health.

I feel like I have a lot on my mind and I really want to talk about it, which means I want to get around to writing about it, but I also don't want to miss getting my Burning Man memories written down while they're still fresh in my mind.

It's been interesting to see people's interest, and to hear myself telling the story of the trip to different people.  Not everyone needs every detail.  Not even you guys.  Sorry about that, but, such is life.

I also finally got in to see the foot specialist guy, and it turns out I did break my toe last summer.  And so now there's a bone chip that's stuck to another bone that was also injured and they're not sure what to do with me but we're going to try to avoid surgery, and it's either the walking cast boot again, and/or some really clunky looking shoes to try to let the area heal and rest. 

I guess I should have gone to see someone sooner.  Maybe just powering through the pain for a year wasn't the best plan.  Maybe I should have seen my doctor as well as the physio at some point.

Funny, when I went back to see my physio this summer for some other body part he was very surprised to hear my toe was still hurting.  It was his suggestion that I go to my doctor and get a more thorough checking out.

Maybe I've been avoiding it because it feels stupid to go into your doctor and say "my big toe hurts and I can't use it... from a year ago."

Monday, 16 September 2013

Arriving

Evening by foundimagination
(I'd made a conscious decision before I went to not get stuck behind my camera, to try to experience Burning Man without having to capture it in images, so I don't have a lot of pictures from the first few days, and the night pictures I do have don't really do justice to the charisma of the place. It's... delightful. And bright.  But this shot it from Monday evening as we were in line on our way in.) 

 Once we'd made it through the Greeters station, we drove (no faster than 5mph so you don't kick up so much dust) around trying to find the camp we'd been told we could camp near.  And to be perfectly honest, it all seemed stupid to me.

It was so much less impressive than I'd thought.  It was dark.  I was unimpressed.  Where were the massive structures?  The lights?  This was a dark, desolate, sad collection of tents and tarps and this was not at all what I'd thought it would be.

I know now that we were in "the boonies", the far outskirts away from the structures and the art and away from the theme camps, but I didn't know that at the time and I was feeling rather miserable.  It felt like I'd come a very long way for a whole lot of disappointment.  And that people were a lot more impressed by this whole thing than they should be.  I didn't know why I'd bothered coming.

We couldn't find that camp so we drove to the second camp we'd been told we could camp near and we couldn't find that either.  How one was supposed to find anything in the dark was beyond me, and I began to get worried about gas.  We were at half a tank, and still had to get out and to the closest (not so close) city on our way out on that half tank.  We'd tried to find the two camps, but no one was there for us to talk to or ask and it was so dark and seemed unorganized so I voiced my gas tank concerns and we drove until we found a spot we could back into and we slept.

Except, no, we didn't sleep.

One of our party took off into the night to try to find some of the people we'd meant to camp near, and the driver, my co-back of the RV sitter and I went for a walk.

We walked out into the city, and down to the main art piece, "The Man."  And from there we walked out to "The Temple", a beautiful structure that my new friend Natalie (back of the RV buddy) told me had been built with no nails or screws.  It had all been slotted in.  And it was gorgeous.

The idea of the temple, as I understand it, is to allow Burners to say goodbye to loved ones they've lost.  Or perhaps to say goodbye to something in their life that isn't serving them well, but it's a place of spirituality and reflection, and I thought it was far too lovely to burn.

And, on our walk back, I saw the flaming Octopus!  I'd seen it in previous Burning Man videos and my thought had been "well, I guess that was there that year and I'll never get to see it" and you guys?  There it was.  I don't think I can explain just what that meant to me.  This was Burning Man.  This was why I was there.

I was still wearing my runners from the trip and there was what felt like rocks in my shoes.  Piles and piles of dust mixed with my own sweat.  And I could feel the dust in my throat.

Not just because I drank some.

I'd already started to notice the heat that evening in line and so I'd dipped my face cover (bandana-buff type thing) in my water bottle, not realizing how much dust had already gathered in the fabric.  So when I next went to take a drink, it was silt water.

But I drank it anyway.

So, the three of us walked out, saw the Man, saw the Temple, and came back to the RV.

Our fourth came back, having found her friends, but not a spot for us to move to, so we set up to sleep for the night.  Or, for the next few hours anyway, seeing as it was probably close to three in the morning.  Our longest day so far.

Saturday, 14 September 2013

We Should Have Been There

We were awake at 7 Monday morning, and had the tow truck there at 7:30 to take us to the mechanic's.

And again, the people we met were so so nice.

We went back to the same place for food and they were happy to see us again.  ("They're back!" they shouted to each other when we walked in.  So cute.)

All we had to do was wait for the mechanics to finish so we wandered to the nearby dollar store (where everything was actually a dollar, not like here where "dollar" store items can cost 5, 10 dollars!)  And then we wandered into a Michael's where the wool was less than half what it costs here (dude!) and then we sat outside the local Safeway waiting for the courtesy car to come pick us up.

While we were there, we met another lady who was waiting.  With a shopping cart full of water.  Turns out she was a Burner from Germany who was waiting for her friend from BC (our province) to come back from checking another store for water.  It was kind of neat, but I also felt like I was missing time that I would have wanted to spend at Burning Man, so my feelings were mixed.

When we got back to the mechanics they had had to try three different radiators before they found one what worked.  (The first two had holes or something?)  And we noticed at least two other Burning Man bound vehicles going through their own repairs in the shop.

And then it was time for our big shop for food and water.

I felt like I didn't get enough.  I know I'd brought some basics (beef jerky and protein bars) from home, but still, I felt like I hadn't thought through what food to get and I felt somewhat under prepared.  But we shopped, and packed (stuffed things in more like) and then we went beaming down the road.

This may make sense to some of you but it felt and looked like we were in the Okanagan, the same sort of hills and we were blasting Harvest Moon and all was well.

Somewhere in the hills of California,"Learning to Fly" came on and I had my first cry of the trip.

The lyrics to that song have always meant a great deal to me, but when I heard "tongue tied, and twisted, just an earth bound misfit, I" I felt like I was finally breaking free of the fears that had always kept me earth bound.  Here I was on a road trip with strangers on my way to crazy wild Burning Man, having no idea what I was getting into or how it would go.  "Condition grounded, but determined to try."  And I had made it.  Here I was.  Learning to fly.

I had another cry when we put on Graceland and "Under African Skies" came on.  I think every song that came on with that album, I said "ooh, this one's my favourite."  "No, this one!"  But that song tipped me over the emotional edge again.

Something else I made note of on my travels that day is that not everything needs a response.

Something I really appreciated was that the travel partner I sat nearest to didn't feel the need to comment on everything, and it reminded me that silence is often all that's needed.  That sometimes people are just saying something to say it, or to make note, not to initiate a response.

We crossed into Nevada and I noticed more hills.  Hills and red... silt?  Rock?  Hill.

We'd hustled out of town as soon as the mechanics had fixed the radiator and we'd travelled through these red hills on a seemingly empty highway, stopping once to pee in the most deliciously scented sage bushes on the side of the road.  (It was lovely)  And then we took a left off of the highway and suddenly there were cars.

And somehow I hadn't thought it, but we got there and we were still not there.  There were hours in line to get through.  And there are 12 lanes of parked cars.  Car to car to car.  And people in outfits with packed cars.  And bikes.

But I wasn't anxious, and I wasn't bored.  I was just... there.

We got through the hours in line as the sun set and I kept thinking that Jay was already in there.  He'd texted me the night before that it was nearly midnight and he'd been in line for hours and he was happy, and I was... sad.

I felt like I should have been in there with him.  That we should have gone together and had we gone together I'd have already had a day.  That he was there having fun while I was here not quite in.

It wasn't an all consuming sadness, but I noticed it, and I was I guess, jealous that he was an entire day ahead of me, having fun.

We got to the greeters station, and in the darkness they welcomed the two of us who were virgin Burners and I almost cried when the greeter was talking to us, but the entrance ceremony did not affect me the way I think it may affect many new Burners.  Perhaps I was overtired.  Maybe it doesn't matter what I felt or why, it just was what it was.

And so with that ceremony, we were in Black Rock City.   At Burning Man

Friday, 13 September 2013

Still Travelling...Sunday

Waiting to Leave by foundimagination
I woke up Sunday pretty nervous.

This was the day we were going to get to Burning Man.  And what would that be like?  I'd survived the road trip, I'd more than survived actually.  I'd been mellow and relaxed and happy and moved so far away from Jay that I didn't feel I wanted to see him once we got there much or at all.

We had a plan to get to somewhere or other before we stocked up on food and water and planned on getting to the gate near (but not before) opening (at 6pm.)

We'd had another gentle start, all of us crowded together in a "big bed" situation we made by sticking my foamie between the two beds we'd tried the night before.  I think I'd slept so well the first night because I'd had so much less anxiety, and because I'd gotten up at four, and because we'd had a 17 hour day.

I was also so grateful to not be driving.  I would have been exhausted had it been me.  I'm not sure I would have made it, actually.  I would do another big road trip in an RV, but I don't think I'd do it in a car.  I can only imagine how uncomfortable I'd have been in Jay's car, I wasn't even comfortable in it in local trips.  Hurray for RV big back bench seats.  With seatbelts to boot!

We stopped at the edge of the campground to fill up with propane and then the RV wouldn't start.

He thought he'd flooded the engine, which had always needed a little convincing to start (the RV's an older one, if I haven't mentioned that before, but new to our driver) and so he tried again.  And then again with a battery helper.

But it just wouldn't start.

I started to worry that we'd be stuck when we tried to leave, during "Exodus" at the end, or that we'd get stuck on the Playa.  And I started to wonder at what point we should "do" something, rather than just waiting for the RV to feel better about starting.

And then he found the leaking.

Of something that shouldn't have been leaking.  And there was a trucker fueling up and we asked him to take a look and he was pretty sure it would be an easy fix for a mechanic.

Except that this was a Sunday, and we weren't in Victoria anymore where we could have found an open mechanics.

So we called BCAA (our road side assistance) and got a tow back to our camping spot.

Everyone we met and dealt with was awesome.  The propane truck driver, the tow truck guy, the local purple bearded Burner, all of them were so nice and kind.

We walked to breakfast, where again, everyone was lovely, but I wasn't particularly hungry.

I was a little sad and disappointed that we weren't going to make it, but I also felt very "it is what it is" and that we'd averted a worse situation like being stuck on a highway or breaking down somewhere where it would have been difficult to get help. 

We wandered through town after breakfast, checking out the Kmart and the Thunderbird.  Then we hung out and mellowed out.  One of the girls finished sewing the gifts she was bringing, and we sat through a cool thunder and lightning storm late that afternoon.

More Burners rolled in that evening and I felt relieved.  We weren't going to be the last to show up, it would be ok even if we should have been there in a couple of hours.

We used the GPS to take us to a Pho restaurant (walking, of course) nearby but it wasn't there, so we ended up at a BBQ place that'd been recommended.

And I hit a wall.

It had been days since I'd had any down time.  Days since I'd had any time to myself and I was completely overwhelmed.  I just wanted to be alone, but there was no way to do that and I was barely holding myself together.

One of the big tvs in the place was showing Big Brother and I zoned out on that for a while.  I'd told everyone that I was feeling really like I needed time and again, I didn't feel worried that they wouldn't like me.  I just wished I could be alone.

We three girls ordered what we figured would be the smallest salad in the place and when it arrived it was beyond massive.

We'd all noticed that the last day or two, the absolutely giant portion sizes we were being served.  But this salad was beyond even that.

Apparently our faces were a sight to behold.

I can't even describe how big this thing was.

We walked back to the campsite, with no lights on us or the streets ( I was still so in need of time to myself and found this stupidly dangerous) and we rearranged sleeping spots (I'd not slept comfortably the night before) and I read some of my book, or skimmed some pages at least and then we slept.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

The Next Day - Saturday

I woke up Saturday a bit stiff and sore, but feeling like I'd slept pretty well, which, like I said, was the first time in a week or more.

I was sort of nervous stomach queasy feeling so I decided that I'd just take a Gravol each morning we were travelling.  Better to feel a bit dozy than to start to feel nauseated and wonder if I was going to be sick.

From what I remember, we headed down Highway 58 and then to 97 and I remember thinking that it looked more like a back road than the highways I'm used to.  It was pretty.  And straight.  And I was in places I'd not been before.

We saw dust devils stirring on fields and I remember being struck by the very clear thought of "I'm on my way to Burning Man."

Some point Saturday, we stopped at a lake so one of us (who'd been dying to) could jump in a lake, and when we found the portapotties, our driver had the unfortunate discovery that one of the portapotties a) did not have a lock and b) was occupied by c) someone... er... sitting.  Ahem.

But it's funny when it doesn't happen to you!

The plan was to stop in Klamath Falls for the day and I guess it was just after a massive downpour when we rolled into town but the place was dead.

Like, we all kind of looked around and then stared wide-eyed at each other.  It was, I swear, something out of a zombie flick.  Where was everyone!?

We found a very sweet Mexican restaurant that was open, but just like Friday, I wasn't very hungry.  I loved the service there though, and we were happily fed and tired when we got to our campsite.

It was kind of neat, actually, there were six or seven other campsites with Burners in them.  There may have been more than that, but those were the ones we could see with the decorated bikes, and happily excited campers.  You'd see, on the road the people going down to Burning Man.  It would usually be the bikes you'd notice.  Not normal bikes, but fun bikes.  Bikes with bells and whistles, sometimes literally.  Bright bikes with big tires, fun, fun, fun and colourful.

And packed cars.  Young people from Alberta with giant (rented?) RVs, older Americans with big old campers and purple beards, and trailers full of stuff.  And bikes.

And then you'd see "the man" symbol, sometimes visible on the back of their vehicle.  We duct taped a man onto our RV too, and the girls started to decorate their bikes.  Something I'd done the week before we left.

We found out that the couple next to us was heading to Burning Man too.  They had a great story, this couple in their 50s.  They hadn't been planning on going this year, but were out travelling in their RV, when a friend called with two tickets.  As seems to happen so often with all things Burning Man, everything worked out so that the one night they were at a fixed address, their friend was able to overnight the tickets to them, and they'd spent that week finding whatever supplies they needed and were happy for the spontaneous trip to happen.

Cool.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

The Trip - Day One

Early Morning Singing Song by foundimagination
There are a few ways you can get off the Island. (Victoria being located on Vancouver Island, on the West Coast of our fine province.)  We took a vehicle/passenger ferry that would take us to Port Angeles, Washington, and since we were going to catch the (oh so very) early morning ferry, which meant being there (oh so very very) early Friday morning, we piled into the RV (really a camper van, but RV's much more fun to say) and drove down Thursday night.

Apparently that's a thing.  That people will drive down the night before and park their cars in the lot in order to get a spot on the ferry.  We ran into a ton of people heading down to Burning Man, cars and trucks packed full and decorated bikes attached to the backs.

We also, unknown to me, ran into a gal who was taking down a Victoria-built art car, something that had been featured in the news the week before.

I think that was somehow reassuring to me, seeing that we weren't the only ones heading down, and that we weren't going to be the only ones getting up at 4 in the morning.  (Gulp!)

I hadn't slept much at all the week before and there was no sleeping Thursday night.  Sure, I lay in bed with my eyes closed, but I did not sleep and I barely rested.  I was horribly anxious about the trip.  Even more so than Burning Man itself.  I didn't know how any of it would go and I think I mentioned, I'd debated flying down or somehow avoiding the whole road trip entirely.

I don't think I've ever been so wide awake at 4 something in the morning, and it was kind of neat to wander through town to the ferry terminal that early in the morning.  I was nervous, sure, but kind of figured that this was happening now, and I may as well just go with it.

The sun came up at some point and it was neat to be on a different ferry ride than the one I'm used to.  I spent a lot of the trip marvelling that my cell service hadn't switched over to US roaming as there's parts of Victoria where it'll think you're in the US and here we were an hour into US waters and my phone still thought we were in Canada, eh?

I chatted with some people in the line for the cafeteria, met a nice local First Nations chief, and felt like things were going to be just fine.

I started to feel a little motion sick right at the end of the trip so I took a Gravol (dramamine) to be safe.

We got to the other side, had the sweetest boarder guard ever, stopped for a fill of gas and were on the road.

I think, honestly, that the Gravol may have given me a little extra mellow, and I'm totally fine with that, but I feel like I was really mellow and calm.  I kept shifting my sitting position, knowing that my body might not love sitting for that long, and I made sure I stretched when we stopped.

One of our troop kept needing pee breaks, which earned them the nickname "hamster bladder" from our driver.  Not that I didn't use the pee breaks when we got them, but I think I'm pretty good at holding it in when I have to.

We stopped somewhere for lunch, I'm guessing it was in Oregon.  Washington ends up being a rather short state compared to Oregon, at least the way we were travelling. 

We also stopped at a Whole Foods, my first experience with one of those.  It was a glorified pee break so I didn't see much of it, but can see why people like them.

We stopped at a KOA site somewhere near Salem (I think) and drove into what turned out to be Corvallis for dinner.

Corvallis was awesome.  Such a great surprise.  Super cool and we all just loved it.

The Gravol made me a little dozy so I half slept here and there.  Travelling in an RV is surprisingly comfy, and I was so so grateful not to be driving myself.

I had no cell service for most of the trip, but when we got to our site, I got wifi and had a text from Jay.

Which made me realize I hadn't thought much about him at all.

It's as if I got on the trip and it was all about me instead of having anything to do with him.  It became my trip.  In so many ways, now that I was on the road, I was fine.  Which was a really nice surprise.

At some point on Friday, I remember thinking to myself that there was a difference between caring and caretaking.  The (awesome and mellow) girl who was sitting in the back area with me had caught a nasty cold and while I cared about how she was feeling, I didn't feel the need to fix her or to try to caretake for her.

This may not seem like much but it was kind of a big deal for me.

I think not knowing these people was an opening for me to look at how I interact with people and since I didn't have any feeling of expectation from them in terms of who I am or how I should behave, I felt very free to just be.

Which was also really relaxing.

We had a nice dinner and only briefly went down a one way street on our way home, and then we arranged the RV for sleeping and I completely crashed out.

It was the best sleep I'd had in weeks, really.

Maybe it was the early morning, or maybe it was just the relief of being on the trip rather than worrying about being on the trip but I slept so so well and woke up happy, relaxed and refreshed the next morning.

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Not Sure This Makes Sense, But There You Go

Theoretically, Maria Von Trapp said that the beginning is a very good place to start, but for some reason, I feel like starting at the end.

Ish.

The vehicle we were travelling had some issues.  It's a long, long trip, and it's an old (old) vehicle.  The fellow who drove it bought it this summer, so it was new to him, and this was his first big test of it.

I have to say, we were incredibly lucky.  The problems we had all occurred in a safe way in a safe place.  It could have been horrible and dangerous to have a breakdown on the highway or in the middle of an unpopulated place.  We were lucky that she wouldn't start when we had already stopped, or were able to get to a place where we could get fixed.

But knowing that we'd already lost a day on the trip down, and knowing we had to stop for more repairs on the trip home, I was a little nervous.  My time off from work ended on Wednesday, and we'd thought to be back Tuesday, so I was relieved to set foot back in Victoria early Wednesday evening.

By then, either the stress of the trip back, or the week in general... where I didn't take particularly good care of myself, or eat really much at all, or just being in the alkaline air and returning to sea level and ocean air, I was feeling exhausted and run down, and so by the time I ate late Wednesday, I knew I was fighting something, and so I called in a couple of sick days to take me to the weekend without having to deal with the added stress of work.

Oh, and my period came early.  Just by a few days.  But all of us in our camp had that happen, anywhere from a week to two weeks to two days early, even those of us (ahem, me) who have cycles that are hormonally controlled.  So there's that, if you end up going to Burning Man, expect your period, and also, I tend to be more run down around that time.

So, yeah.  Home, and sick.  Not quite strep throat sick sick, but close enough.  Spend the rest of the week and weekend resting, trying to eat, and taking fluids and vitamins.  And wishing I was still there.

I remember half waking up, it must have been Friday night, and feeling silly that I'd brought my entire bed down to Burning Man but man oh man wasn't in comfortable?  Weird that I'd brought my chests of drawers too though.  Go figure.

Weird also to try to sleep in the quiet.

Amazing what I so easily adjusted to.  Sleeping through noise, and lights, and just delightfully mad chaos all around.

I threw in some vinegar into the four loads of laundry I did, and I sprayed down my bike to try to get rid of the dust.  But it was dark by the time I got to do that and I wasn't thinking and so I didn't wipe it down, and so by morning it had rusted a fair deal.  I cleaned it some more the next day and tried to grease it, but I have no real skill or knowledge there so I'll have to take it into a shop or something one of these days.

I need a different bike though.  That one was great, but for riding here, I need something that has me not leaning forward so much, and if possible, not breaking my wrists.  And I completely understand why so many people retire to warm places.

I can't ride here for more than ten minutes without my wrist hurting.  At Burning Man?  Didn't bother me at all.

In fact, nothing really hurt.  Other than my shoulders feeling sore from a) wearing a halter top all week and b) all the biking.... the hours and hours of biking.  *happy sigh*  But yeah, no real aches and pains to speak of.

My legs are covered in bruises that I have no idea where they came from, and my fingers are pretty shredded and some weird thing happened to one of my toes.  But really, being home, I'm a little dazed, a little sort of sleepy (napped a lot the first two days back) but my throat is the only thing that's bad.

And, like I think I babbled earlier, I don't know if it's just being run down in general or if it's my body trying to adjust (again) to the change in temperature, altitude, and air acidity/quality.

So.  Home.  Not feeling great.  Took two or so days to get everything tidied and put away.  Haven't dealt with my tent yet, and am not sure if my hiking boots are cleanable or just dead.

Not looking forward to re-integrating back into work, but when do I ever after time off?

Oh, and my body still hasn't figured out the whole heat thing yet either.
Please don't steal stuff from here, it's not nice. But leave a comment, why don't cha? And drink more water. It's good for you.

P.S. If you think you know me? You probably don't. If you're sure you know me? Pretend you don't. I'll never admit I know what you're talking about anyway.

P.P.S. All this stuff is copyright from then til now (Like, 2006-2017 and then some.) Kay? Kay.