Tuesday, 29 November 2016

One Of Those Internet Thingies

1. What was the last thing you put in your mouth? Honestly?  I can't remember.  Food of some kind?  Sorry, I'm assuming this answer is meant to invoke naughty responses.  Gum.  I'll go with gum. (Now I'm realizing I haven't drank enough today either.)

2. Where was your profile picture taken? Watcom Lake, Washington State (did I spell that right?)

3. Do you play Pokemon? No.  But I will admit I am currently playing Pokemon Go.

4. Name someone who made you laugh today? Well, I'm typing this yesterday, but ok.  Jason.

5. How late did you stay up last night and why? About two am.  I'd had a really rough week and weekend and Jason suggested I watch Eddie the Eagle and I did, even though I started it late.  Then I read for a bit.

6. If you could move somewhere else, where would it be? I'm going to go with Hawaii although I'm not really sure.  Somewhere sunnier.

7. Ever been kissed under fireworks? I don't think so.  Under stars, which is way awesomer.

8. Which of your friends lives closest? Technically Jason I think.

9. Do you believe ex's can be friends? Yes, but it's not always possible and can be complicated.

10. How do you feel about Dr Pepper? Neutral?  Right now I can't even think what it tastes like.

11. When was the last time you cried? Today.  (Probably will today today too, so by "today" here I mean yesterday today)

12. Who took your profile picture? I think it was my friend M.

13. Who was the last person you took a picture of? Jason.

14. Was yesterday better than today? No.

15. Can you live a day without TV? Yes.

16. Are you upset about anything? Yes

17. Do you think relationships are ever really worth it? Yes

18. If you could have any job/career, which would it be? A combination of being paid for my art/writing and helping people with reiki and (not quite) counselling (coaching?  listening? I dunno) 

19. Are you a bad influence? I don't think so.

20. Can you Tag 3 friends you think will fill this out? Well, no, not here.  But I would love if anyone wanted to answer a random number in the comments :)

Monday, 28 November 2016

Dude

I don't even know how to begin to talk about the state I've been in this last week.

"Existential crisis" works fairly well as a summary though...

"An existential crisis is a moment at which an individual questions the very foundations of their life: whether this life has any meaning, purpose, or value." - Wikipedia

That. 

And no, this isn't depression, although it certainly has resulted in that sort of a feeling this is just frigging... everything.

So... after begging Jason to come over yesterday and talk talk talk and listen listen listen to and with me I'm exhausted and was just about to go to bed when my phone alarm reminded me "blog"... so... here's a post. 

"Strawberry Fields" keeps running through my head.... "nothing is real."

But hey, tell me about you.  What did you get up to this weekend?

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Copy Pasta

Good spam email today! 

(Got caught in my spam folder but I thought I'd share)  SO REALS!

My Dear Sir, you are greeted by U.S. Customs & Border Protection contact Center! Your package #UPS8364342 was DELAYED at import. A info of the administration is contained in the short report below.
Package type    Electronic devices
Purchase method    VISA **** **** **** 1423
Event time    11/22/16 11:27 PM
Detention status    Presence of radioactive metals (Li-Po)
You gotten this notice because Your mail address specified in the customs declaration to the parcel. Please contact us as soon as possible! Addresses and phone numbers are specified in the report.



Oh man... my radioactive electronic device is causing some problems at the US border and has turned me into a Sir.  OH NOES!

I mean, a info of the administration is contained and everything you guys.  Plus, they know it's me because my email address specified in the customs declaration to the parcel.  So you know, it's gotta be real. 

Also, I wonder what I ordered!!!  Should probably call to find out.  I bet they just need me to pay a customs fee or something.

Friday, 25 November 2016

Grumble

The digital program learning isn't going all that wonderfully.  (Sigh)

First day or two was trying to get over frustration with the tablet itself.  So when something wasn't working the way the tutorial I was watching suggested it should, I had no idea if it was me, or the tablet, or the program, or the computer and well, that resulted in not much more than giving up.

Jason found me a link to a patch or something and I know that often it's little things like you have to plug the device in before you open the program.  Or, in this case, I discovered, using the buttons on the stylus, you have to have the stylus pointing down towards the tablet and there is a touch of a delay.

But, ugh, part of my frustration is that I don't want to be learning ALL THE THINGS, I just want to do a few things.  So back to the "beginner tutorials" I go but there are so many gazillions of things to learn to do and I have no idea where to start or where to find the tutorial that will allow me to do that one thing I would like to try and so I'm kind of, right now, at a point of well.... this isn't much fun.... and I can't actually do anything.

I think a hands on course/class might be helpful so perhaps I'll look for that, but there's also a part of me that is wondering about just returning the tablet and kind of giving up, or just reverting to doing very very basic, simple, could have done this twenty years ago type things.  With my finger.  On my laptop's track pad. 

Sigh.

These programs have far too many parts and bits and aspects.  And while I'm sure a great many people enjoy having all those options, I, right now, do not.

*grumble*

Thursday, 24 November 2016

And, Finally, Mystery Package

I vehemently dislike being around people at this time of year.  Namely in stores, malls and parking lots.

The angst and frustration and unhappy energy of people as this holiday season approaches gets more and more uncomfortable for me, so I stay away, and I also try to have my shopping done by now. 

More and more I've been ordering online at this time of year and so a few weeks ago I made my main holiday online purchase.

I ordered a certain book for my Mom that I've been getting her since I was a kid.  (A yearly day to day quote type of thing) And so that was one of the main things on my order.  It arrived a week or so later and I mentally crossed that off my list.

And then late last week there was a package left outside my door.

Hmm... what had I ordered and forgotten about?  Hmm...


The package was hand labelled... and stamped all over it was "Grom the office of undeliverable mail, Canada Post."  Huh?  I hadn't mailed or shipped anything?  And was that an Amazon logo printed on the box?  What was this?

I, of course, left my groceries to melt on the counter while I carefully cut open the tape on the box.

A note inside... "Hi, we're glad we found you!  We had to open this box to find your address inside.  Next time, write your address on the top left hand corner so we can return your mail to you when it's undeliverable. Thanks!  Canada Post."

I what?  Who? 

What on earth had I sent, and I always put my return address... don't I?

I pulled aside the paper and there was a(nother) copy of the book I bought from my Mom.  With the Amazon receipt and gift printout and everything.  (Where they got my address from)  Huh.

I'm sending the book back to Amazon as we speak but the whole thing is a little bit of a mystery to me.

Did my address sticker from Amazon somehow come off or was it unreadable?  Did Amazon get notification that my package didn't arrive and so shipped me off the second (one that I actually got?)  Did they try to deliver it at all?  Where and when did Canada Post discover it was undeliverable and what does that mean anyway?  I am still oh so very confused.

But it all worked out anyway.  My Mom will get her gift and, well, I got to open a mystery package.

The end.


Wednesday, 23 November 2016

The Next Mystery Moment!

I'd forgotten my "energetic oddness" with the light that was really just a burning out lightbulb when I was making dinner last night.  But, suddenly things got weird again.

I was tidying up while things were finishing cooking and I heard a tinny song playing.  (You know the sound when there's a radio on but it's far away so you can hear it but have to really listen?)  The only radio I have in my house is my bedroom alarm clock and sometimes I get the A.M. and P.M confused and I figured that the alarm had (somewhat quietly) gone off but as I walked from the kitchen towards my bedroom to turn it off the music stopped.

Hmm....

Got back into the kitchen and there it was again!  So I headed into the bedroom to double check and no.  No alarm clock going off.... figures... it was far too quiet for that anyway.

Headed back to the kitchen... listened... yep, radio quiet noise....  Where on earth was it coming from?  My phone?

Checked that and my laptop and no.... Not an open browser window or anything....

Plus, when I left the kitchen, the radio seemed to stop.  Was it something I was broadcasting by being in a certain place in the kitchen?  How?  What?  Why?

And can we just pause for a minute to be thankful that this didn't happen on the same night as the mystery lightbulb?  I might have lost my poop if it had!

So, there I am, standing in my kitchen trying to figure out what could be picking up radio signals that were being amplified by where I was standing.  Because by then, I'd discovered that if I got to either edge of the kitchen area, the noise would stop... there was a certain spot, just by the sink where it was most noticeable.  I tried to concentrate on where the sound was coming from because it had to be in this room.  But... what?

I thought through... and my bottom kitchen drawer is a bit of a hold all and I opened it up and ta da! my wireless headphones.  With some sort of something or other happily playing through them.  Geez.

Even though the base was turned off and they'd been quietly away in the drawer for a couple of weeks (or so) I guess I had forgotten to turn the headphones themselves "off" and somehow they were, with my body's help, picking up something, from somewhere.

I could have listened, but sound waves and radio waves and wireless and stuff all kind of freak me out so I turned them off and went happily about my way, glad I'd finally figured out what on earth was making the noise!

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

The Thing

I have a few other random stories from Burning Man this year that pop into my head from time to time and I'll get to telling you about them, but for right now, I have to tell you about the amusing (now) things that have happened the last week or so!

First of all there was the haunting.... duh duh duuuuuuuh!

You know how you can watch a scary show or something and get yourself all psyched up and freaked out?  Yeah, so that's where I was when my power started flickering.

I ignored it the first time, but then, for some reason, I got it in my head that it was some kind of... not natural phenomenon.  I texted Jason.  "My light is flickering.  THERE IT GOES AGAIN!"

"I'm freaked out.  Help!"

And as we texted I got more and more freaked out... what if it was a haunting or entity or some kind of energy and what should I do and he said look, just calm down, if it's something like that then you freaking out isn't going to make it any better which made me freak out even more and then he said "Or you could just change the lightbulb."

Oh!

I laughed, mainly at myself, and got up and turned off the light in question and the flickering stopped.

No odd energy trying to send me a message, just... a dying lightbulb.  Heh.

The next not terribly amusing part of this story is that this is a lamp I've had since I moved in here and when I took out the lightbulb it was one of those pin LED ones.

Which I've been unable to replace since!  I did find ONE, at a big box store I'd have preferred to avoid, of a lower wattage or output or whatever and it will have to suffice (since I don't want to buy a whole new light just because those lightbulbs went back out of style) but yeah... so my lightbulb became possessed (with age) and when I took it out it turned out it was a weird one that I haven't yet been able to replace exactly.

So... no more freak yourself out movies, at least not in the dark, ok?  Ok.

Monday, 21 November 2016

My Brain Cells Hurt

I follow some really cool artists on that there instagram thingamy and I've found a few in the last couple of weeks whose art is digitally made.  Sooo..... I figured I'd give the whole digital art thing a look-see.

I started with what I thought was a logical search and googled "digital art for beginners".  Good place to start, right?

Well, no.  Turns out not so much, at least for me.

The first (youtube) tutorial I found was fine, explained that to do digital art you really needed a stylus and tablet.  Which I don't have.  Well, I do have a stylus, technically... tried to use it on my track pad and gave up and went back to my easier to use but inaccurate finger.  And I didn't feel like investing into a tablet without knowing if the style or system was something I'd even like at all.  I bought a tablet years ago, a Wacom Bamboo if I remember correctly and I never used it and ended up giving it away...Now I have no idea why I bought that however many years ago (maybe 10?) but that things must have changed and advanced since then and maybe if I liked it enough, I'd try again with another one.  This video also recommended a free program called FireAlpaca which I downloaded and started to noodle about on.

It was... fine.  Simple enough to just kind of guess at how to do things and so I made a couple of cool looking sort of things.  (Mainly with a symmetry drawing thing and then colouring in with the paint bucket fill tool...felt very old school and not "artsy" at all.)

After a bit of playing around with that I tried to find some more videos but they all suggested using Photoshop.  Which I happen to have but never use.  So I figured maybe before I considered buying a tablet, I should at least see if the program was better to use than the free one.

So again, I googled "beginner digital art" videos and man oh man I haven't been that angry in a long time.

For me, when I say "beginner", I mean BEGINNER!  These videos were all "hey, this is for beginners" but felt like being sat in the cockpit of a 747 and being told to watch the runway takeoff techniques.

But... I... don't know how to even start the plane's engine and you what?

So I got very very frustrated.  Tried to follow along and things wouldn't work.  Most frustratingly, I couldn't get the pen to draw any other colour than black and couldn't find anything out there that was telling me why or how or anything and HULK SMASH ARGH!

I vented to Jason about this over text and he said that yes, Photoshop is incredibly difficult and complicated to use and without being there he couldn't even guess what I might be doing that wasn't being helpful.  Which also didn't help HULK SMASH ARGH!

So I went back to the fun free program and made and coloured more mandala pretty things.  Sigh.

And then I accidentally (ie. I wasn't planning it) made a cool drawing and was like oh, maybe this digital stuff can be fun after all!

On whatever day it was last week I was still trying (and failing) to find ACTUAL beginner videos when I thought maybe it was me... and so I changed my search from digital art to "digital painting" and that's when I came across Cntrl Paint.  It was like the skies opened up and angels started singing because here was a program, a video tutorial series that finally, finally started at the basics... at the beginning... as in "hey, digital painting is a completely different thing so wrap your head around that by watching this first video before you do anything else."

And then the next one was SO simple I could actually do it!  But, I mean, not easy.  Still hurt my brain and made me realize how little of this kind of learning I have done of late.  Like... memorizing... and remembering.  But I was hooked.  And so over the next day or two I made my way through the entire beginner/intro series and learned some things and keyboard shortcuts and made some "pictures" and, well I think I'm going to get me a tablet after all!

Now, it wasn't all heavenly angel clouds... I was talking to a digitally based artist and asked him what program he used and he said he used Illustrator and explained why and when I mentioned that to Jason he said "yeah, that's what I said too" and I said oh.... but... will the Photoshop stuff I'm learning transfer over?  "No, not really." So now I'm a little bummed because my brain still hurts from learning VERY BASIC stuff that doesn't even allow me to do anything and the program is so damn complex and now I have to not even learn it or something and start again... sigh?

But yeah.  My point here is that it is extremely frustrating when people say they are doing a beginner tutorial and then they skip over a bunch of stuff that an actual beginner like myself has no idea how to do.  Like, select a new tool, or colour.  Or, you know, much at all.

I kind of needed to be told here's how you open the door to the airplane and here's where the pilot sits and these are the windows you look out of.... because man oh man... there's a lot of buttons and stuff y'all.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Where Was I?

Oh yeah.  I went to Burning Man by myself and the road trip part of it was really awful.  But I'm alive and healthy and that is no meaningless statement. 

When my parents were mid-move, we had a running family joke that they couldn't find anything because everything was "all packed away!"  It's kind of one of those "you had to be there" jokes, but now I have my own version, and it's one of those "gotta laugh to keep yourself from crying" type things.

Know where my hiking boots are?  "In a van in California"

Know where my fuzzy pjs are? (It gets cold in the desert at night!)  "In a van in California"

All my AA batteries?  "In a van in California"

And so on and so forth.

It took me a week or two to realize that it wasn't *just* my camping gear I'd left down in the van.  It was a lot of little things that I now didn't have access to.  Brand new, ultra awesome scissors?  "In a van in California"  The good flashlight?  "In a van in California"  Oh, and my bike???? "In a van in California" Sigh.

Most of the things I can do without right now, or buy a replacement if it's not too expensive (like the batteries) but the hiking boots I'm missing and the fuzzy pjs I had to replace.  *dramatic sigh*

The van, by the way is still in the process of being repaired.  And once that occurs it will be a matter of figuring out how to get her back to this part of the world and then going from there (in terms of keeping or selling to recoup costs, etc.)

I am trying not to be nervous about the state of my gear.  I know it is safe where it is, the mechanics have assured us of that, but I don't know the van well enough to know if she leaks and I've never not washed and cleaned my playa-fied gear right away.  But, in the vein of retraining my mind and brain and thought patterns and habits, I'm doing my best not to worry about what *might* be and will just deal with whatever it is I come across when that time comes.  (sigh)

Monday, 14 November 2016

Let's Keep It Vague

Well, that was a horrible week.  Personally, world-ally, I tried to hang in and be "OK" and "It'll all be fine!" but it all caught up to me on Remembrance Day and I cried and cried and cried. 

And that was how I felt and dealt all weekend. 

You know, they talk about "exogenous depression"... when the individual (or perhaps in this case many individuals) have a hard time adjusting to what's going on.

So... that.  I feel like last week coated me in a heavy blanket of sad and I think it's ok to want to curl up, take care of my(our)self(ves) and be sad.

I'm not saying it's the end of the world, just that this last week was heavy and hard and I think I have a lot more crying to do.

Saturday, 12 November 2016

Not Good

We got back to my place somewhere around one in the morning.  And I remember feeling angry.

I'd asked Jason to water my plants while I was away and I went around checking them and they felt light (as in "dry:) so I aggressively watered them.  I remember thinking that.  "I am aggressively watering these plants because I am SO mad and Jason didn't water them right.  That's probably funny... somehow."

Jason stood and watched me and I don't know if I was mumbling or what but I watered my plants that were WAY TOO DRY.

And then I started to talk to him.  Or at him, really. While I paced.

I tried to explain what it had been like.  The noise, the feeling, how awful it was and how not ok I felt.  All of it.  I tried to explain and he tried to listen but at a certain point he said "Victoria, I'm really sorry, but it's two thirty in the morning and I'm trying here, but I need to go home and sleep."  And that made me angry but I understood and let him head home.   And I don't really remember what I did.

Did I unpack?  I probably showered or took a bath.

Oh, I'd checked my messages when Jason was there and had a freakout about a couple of them and yelled at him for that....

But yeah, I don't remember when I got to bed or to sleep that night but there certainly was no sigh of relief that I was home... not like you'd expect or hope for.

I could re-read whatever I wrote that month and piece it together, but my recollection is that I was not ok.  I think I was still in shock and then slowly coming out of it, all while trying to function like the adult the rumour is I am.  I don't know that I was particularly kind to myself but I like to think I wasn't all that harsh either.

I slowly told people, like my parents, and assured them I was ok and would figure out whatever (the van... the money, the debt, my stuff) but there was a week or so where I really did nothing.  And then another were I didn't do much.  The whole thing had exhausted me.  But things settled slowly, and I adjusted slowly and I even got to a point where it didn't freak me out too terribly to write about it (hi!)  But man, that was so not what I signed up for.  Not at all.

Not the drive and all that horror, and certainly not the near death van issue on the trip home.  I tried to be positive about things, and I was and life kept happening and hey, the time change still is weird, eh?

So... yeah.  Burning Man.  2016.  Happened.  More on the way there and back than anything else, but yeah, it happened.  *hugs self*

Friday, 11 November 2016

A Pause... To Remember




Thursday, 10 November 2016

Homeward Bound

Friday morning I was up at the crack of early, and breathing myself through "I can do this"....

I packed up what was left of my stuff (that I hadn't packed up the night before) and handed in my key and walked down and across the street to the bus stop.  I'd talked to the bus people the night before (they called to confirm actually) and had found out where exactly the stop was and that I needed exact change for the fare.  (I seem to remember it was somewhere around thirty or forty dollars.)  There was a young fellow there and we got to talking a bit before his bus came.  (These busses are like between city busses, small ones, you have to pre-book your seat I think and they run once or twice a day two or three times a week, so they're not city transit, but inter-city transit I suppose.  Privately owned, I would guess.)  He, in his words, had gotten in trouble with his parole officer and so was going to go live with his Grandma in [other town].  I asked him if he was ok with that, or happy with that, I don't remember the exact words but I wanted him to know that I cared, and wasn't judging.  He said yes, that it was good, and I wished him well as he got on the bus with his backpack and pillow.  There's a whole other world out there...

There was an older man and his granddaughter waiting for my bus, and a large, loud gentleman that I didn't want to engage with eye contact or conversation.  We all got on the bus, paid our cash fares, put our luggage on the luggage rack and chose our seats.  I was... relieved.

I knew I had a very long day ahead of me, I wasn't going to be home for more than sixteen hours, but I was heading home.  This portion of this.... situation was going to be over and I was going to be home.  Soon enough.  Not in a few days, not at some future point, but tonight.  Or, very early tomorrow morning, I suppose, but now.  I was going home now.

The bus ride was difficult.  The scenery was beautiful and I wanted to sit and watch it, but being in a vehicle, and one that was being assertively driven was frightening me, so I put on Pulse (Pink Floyd live) and closed my eyes and just glanced out occasionally.

I had a few words with the little girl who had taken the seats in front of me, and her granddad, like everyone else I mentioned my situation to had heard about "that van that caught on fire"  and everyone repeated how lucky I was to be alive and safe.  Yes.  Yes I was.

God was mentioned a fair amount, as the reason for my safety and I always just smiled at that.  God.  Angels.  Science.  Fairies.  Dust devils.  Spirit.  Magic. Hope.  Prayer.  Whatever.  I don't care what the name or brand or look of what kept me safe, I'm just glad it did. 

There was a bathroom stop mid way through the trip and we were warned the bus was leaving in EXACTLY ten minutes with us on it or not and that we weren't really supposed to use the washroom but hey.... and then we were nearly there.

The little girl asked me if I'd like to come to her birthday party.  I told her if I could make it back to town I would love to, but that I lived quite far away so I wasn't sure that I'd be able to.  "Canada"  I said.  "Wow."  Yeah.... 

They got off before me, and the airport was the last stop and I stepped out into heat and this whole big city feel of the Reno we drove through was so disorienting.  But not as disorienting as the airport itself was.  Dude.

I got there around eleven, but I wasn't able to check in until 4.  So I had five hours of sitting there.... and that's what I did. 

Again, amen for having brought my computer, and amen for free wifi... I sat and noodled about online and people watched and tried not to think about needing to pee.  (Couldn't leave my luggage, or ask someone to watch it.  You're not supposed to do that anyway and there were constant announcements about heightened security... turns out it was the week of the 9/11 anniversary...)  I watched airport drama unfold, and some nice lady gave me her leftover lunch and water "you look like you need it" (Oh crap, do I look that bad?)  and after a long, long time, I was able to check in.

I paid for my suitcase (that's a thing I guess... sigh) and then I finally got to walk around a bit (and pee!) and this airport was so very BUY BUY BUY YOU NEED STUFF!!!! And had a mini casino and I just walked around shell shocked.  Took photos of things and texted them to people back home who were equally enthralled and weirded out by the BUY BUY BUY AMERICANA feel to it all. 

I went to eat at some point, but the meal I chose was so heavy (fried) that I didn't make it through that and the drink was so sweet (never had a Shirley Temple with coke before....) that I kept wondering what had happened... was it me?  Or was it mainstream America.  Where was my small town charm....?

When it came time to go through the... wherever... past security, I realized I hadn't flown since 9/11.  That my trips into the states had been via ferry or driving, so this was my first experience with the shoes off, full body x-ray scan and it was intimidating and .. yeah... intimidating.  I *knew* I was doing nothing wrong but I was still waiting to get "found out" or caught or something... it was bizarre.  No likey.

So, through security and then on to the making sure I had the right gate and trying not to wonder about if I'd feel ok during the flight and then onto the flight.

Where the guy next to me continued to use his not turned off and not on airplane mode phone through the entire takeoff process making me want to scream at him.... but I breathed and stayed calm.

Then there was a landing, and a new airport and more people and wow Seattle airport is busy, and then there was another small plane and I cried most of the trip and kept telling myself I was going home, I was going home, I was going home.

And then we landed.  I got my suitcase, I went through customs.  "Nothing to declare but some chocolate?"  "Yeah, sorry."  (No idea why I said that... I was exhausted.)

I went through the doors and there was Jason and I burst into tears and gave him a giant hug. 

It was all incredibly surreal and I somehow didn't even think I was actually there, and I hugged and kissed my beautiful, not on fire car and Jason drove me back to my place.  Home.  I had no words, but I was a mess.  And the rumour was that I was home.  Finally.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Stuck

It feels, or felt, like I was stranded in that town for ages.  And at times, I think I believed I would never leave.  I was as paralyzed by fear as I have ever been.  Or maybe not fear, but shock, or... something.  But there were moments when I would talk to Jason and literally have no idea how I would ever be able to leave.  Because I couldn't drive.... no one was able to come get me, and there was no way I could afford to rent a car... and I wasn't anywhere where there was a car to rent anyway.  But.... apparently I was only there four days.

Seemed like a lot more.

I'm not sure if it was the first or second full day I was there, but Jason encouraged me to try to "enjoy" the day.  Suggested I get out and shoot small town America.  So I pulled myself together as best I could, adjusted my attitude as best I could, grabbed my camera and headed out. 

I walked up the main street to a park and sat on a swing for a while, then I walked to the fire station to thank them, but there was no one there.  Went to the police station and thanked them (and cried, damnit!) and then I think I picked up some food and got some chocolate (and had my VISA stop working... seriously?) and went back to the room.  All of this, mind you, was costing me money.  Even though I was in the "cheapest" hotel in town, with the exchange rate and whatnot, it was still about a hundred bucks a night.  Plus whatever food I was eating, or the shampoo or whatever I bought with the last of my cash...

I got home and I had somehow managed to get a blister on the bottom of my foot.  And that was somehow yet another last straw.

I had no way home.  My VISA wasn't working.  My phone had been over-charged.  And now I had a blister.  It was almost amusing if it hadn't been that I had to deal with all these things.

I then spent several hours, yes HOURS on the phone with various companies trying to figure stuff out.  Like the phone company who "fixed" the problem after I waited online for an hour and then got cut off and then waited again for another 45 minutes and then had to get called back and so on and so forth (no, they didn't actually "fix" anything, by the way, it would take me another two months to get their repeated screw ups sorted... I am still outrageously mad about that) and VISA (because they shut down my card and I understand they were trying to protect me but it was really bad timing and again, about an hour plus on the phone to get it reinstaited, and yes, they knew I was travelling in the states... sigh) and BCAA and the insurance company and the RV-specific insurance company and basically everyone said "oh, wow, that's too bad, and, well, we can't really help you, sorry" so that did not help how I was feeling about anything. 

I don't remember too clearly which days where which, but I had one last set of friends who "love to drive" that I thought might be my chance of having someone come get me and I messaged them at a place I'd walked to (with my stupid blister) and they said I should just get the van fixed and drive it home and I think I just gave up.  No one seemed to understand what I had just gone through.  Even if they fixed the van, which they hadn't, and had no timeline for, even if they fixed it, I was too traumatized and freaked out to drive it.  Jason understood that, but no one else did.  I was frozen by the fear of it all and just wanted to live in this hotel room for the rest of my life.

I spent a lot of time in that hotel room... zoning out with watching whatever, or being online, or talking to or messaging Jason or C-Dawg or whoever.  I saw no way of getting me home and that's the only thing I wanted to happen.

At some point, probably Thursday, Jason said it was time to stop waiting for the van to get fixed (every time he mentioned that I would be ok driving it home I re-iterated that there was no way, I just wasn't able to do that and couldn't afford to keep spending a hundred dollars a night to stay here) and get me home.  I said there was no way to do that, and that I had no money anyway.  (The van had cost me more than double the budget I had had for it, and now this....)  Jason then basically held my hand through the next day or so, and without that I would be in a lot worse shape.  I was non functional.  He dealt with everything.

Jason found a bus that ran from that town to Reno, the closest international airport (about three hours away) and Jason found me a travel agent at home to help me book a flight out of Reno... oh, because RIGHT, I forgot about this.... (SWEAR WORD!)  Remember when Max and I were going to go on that trip and then he ended things?  I can't remember if I mentioned it at the time or not but Expedia and the airline wouldn't refund my money.  A thousand bucks they wouldn't let me have back, but would allow me to have a credit with that airline, minus three hundred bucks.  So finally I had a reason to use that flight credit, and thank goodness I had it, to save me some cash.  So I contacted Expedia (waiting yet again for ages on the phone) and was told that I could only use the credit to fly from the originally booked country of origin (Canada.)  Are you kidding me?  I explained my situation... literally stranded... no way home... like, not exaggerating... "Sorry Ma'am.  Would you like me to help book you another flight?"  And again, I don't usually swear at customer service people but in this case I did.  "No, I will fucking do that myself."  The lack of care shown by the businesses/corporations I dealt with was appalling.  They should go back to when the people working for them were able to act like humans.  So Jason gave me the number for a travel agent back home who booked me a flight out of Reno (I probably could have done it via Google or something but at this point I just wanted help and to not have to figure stuff out on my own) and Jason booked me a spot on the bus the next morning... the Friday morning.

I told him I still couldn't.  I had no suitcase.  I had no way of carrying my stuff on a plane.  And you guys these panics that I had felt utterly real and intense, even if you're reading them not seeing why I was concerned, everything was completely overwhelming.  I had no way to get my stuff home.  The stuff I had in my room with me was my travel bag and my computer "backpack" and a couple of shopping bags and my camera bag and I couldn't carry all that on I couldn't get on a plane, no way. 

Jason called the mechanic, talked to the lady there... she recommended a thrift shop on main street and said if they didn't have suitcases the local church might.  So Jason told me this and told me to go find a suitcase.

So I, yet again, steeled my frozen and terrified self, bandaged up my frustrating blister, and walked to the thrift shop.

It was all the things you ever imagine from a stereotypical thrift shop and I was wandering through it when I ran into the sheriff who had helped with my van and when he asked why I was still in town I explained that the van was not yet fixed and I had to fly home and just needed a suitcase.  "There's one way at the back there," he said, and sure enough in the back room there was an old suitcase that would to just fine.  I went to pay.  They weren't able to take my credit card (something about not being able to process Canadian credit cards) so I asked them to keep it aside for me and I went to find a bank.  (Sigh)  Got out cash (Jason told me to get out a couple of hundred which came in handy for airport fees and such) and went back and picked up my ten dollar suitcase and went back to the hotel.

Then, before I could collapse again, I took myself to the van.  I emptied out the water containers and ice... impressed that my new coolers had kept ice so well (yay) and tried to think what I might need... I grabbed all the underwear I could find, and a couple more tshirts and I tried to tidy a bit but it was hot and miserable in there so I locked it up, cried a little... feeling like I was abandoning her, told the mechanics that I was flying out the next day and thanked them very much.

They were awesome.  Promised I could keep it there as long as I needed for no charge.  Jason had talked to them about whatever needed fixed and the fellow had told them that I'd been really, visibly shaken up.  Which surprised me... I thought I'd seemed pretty calm.  Shock I guess.  But yeah, I left the van there and walked back to the hotel and packed the suitcase as best I could, reducing the bags I was carrying to my purse, computer backpack and suitcase. 

I don't know if I ate, or had leftovers or what, but I knew I had to be at the bus stop, thankfully not too far away at 7 the next morning, so I told myself to try to sleep.  It had been a really long few days, and knowing I was going home wasn't making me feel all that much better.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Shock Priority = Food

I remember getting to the hotel room and telling myself that I needed food.  I'm not sure what time it was by then, but it was maybe 3pm.  Or a little earlier.  But although I might not have technically been hungry (I forget) I knew that having food was a good idea.  So I put my shoes back on and headed out, in a daze, having consulted google on my computer (guess there was a reason I took my computer after all, eh?) to find out where the closest place was.

I ordered up a burger and fries and a milkshake and smiled at the people in the restaurant and ate a few bites and knew I'd never finish it so asked them to pack it up for me to take home.  I smiled a lot.  I was ok!  See?  Nothing was wrong if I was having a milkshake, right?  Yay!  Just a temporary stop and hey, milkshakes, ha ha ha everything is fine, milkshake!  I took myself and the bag of food to the store across from the hotel and bought some snacks and oh yeah, booze (Jason had said it was a good idea to have a drink or two so I bought booze... in the store, because they sell it there... so odd) and I headed back to the hotel room and at some point I think I had a shower and maybe even washed my hair and then I think I just sort of sat there texting and being online and trying to make things be "normal."

I even posted.  Vaguely, maybe, but I couldn't type out all that had happened, it was all just too much.  And I really wasn't ok.  I don't think I lost it completely that night, but I do remember finally being exhausted and wanting to sleep and then being unable to because when I closed my eyes there would be a video playing in my mind of the van catching fire, or the van rolling over with me in it, or the wheel coming completely off and me careening into traffic or off the side of a cliff or, or, or and so sleep was pretty impossible to come by.

I told a few key people, and cried each time they apologized that they weren't able to come get me, because again, I just wanted to be home, and I just wanted someone to come rescue me.

I mean, really, that was the thought I kept having... can someone please just come rescue me?  I begged Jason.  Begged him.  I know his days are flexible enough that he could come, but I forgot he doesn't have a passport.  I offered to have his emergency made up so he could come get me.  He apologized that he just wasn't able to come.  My brother said he wished he could but his work schedule wouldn't allow it, sorry.  Our "car guy" friend wasn't even reachable and I'd somehow thought he would for sure magically rescue me if anything went wrong.  But no.  It seemed no one was coming to save me and carry me home.

Someone later asked me if I had asked my parents, but no, I didn't even tell my parents this happened until I was safely home.  My parents wouldn't have been able to do the drive and they wouldn't have been able to change the situation except to worry, and I didn't want anyone else upset about this.  I was upset enough about it for all of us.

There were, after a couple of days, surprise offers of help from strangers online.  But I didn't feel I could accept any of them.  What about my gear?  What if they were crazy?  So I was on my own, with Jason to help and no one coming to rescue me.

But yeah, that first hotel day, I got some food and then some snacks and I rested.  That was all I was capable of doing.  I must have fallen asleep at some point that night, but it was awful trying to sleep.  And no, I didn't drink.  I might have had half of one but I just didn't feel like it.

I had just left the playa that morning, and I hadn't gotten very far and I had no idea how or when or even if I was getting home.  It felt like it had been a year since I'd left my apartment and I just wanted to be back there on the couch I wish I'd never left.

Monday, 7 November 2016

Numb

The guy on the phone from AAA was great.  Very calm and calming.

"I'm really sorry this has happened to you.  Are you ok?"  he asked, gently, once making sure myself and the vehicle were safe and off the road "Yes, the vehicle is off the road... 911 just left... put out the fire...no, I'm not blocking traffic..." and that was probably the first time I cried.. but just a little, because I knew shit had to get dealt with.

So he told me how sorry he was and how glad he was that I was ok, and he confirmed my location (even in my shock I was Big Brother creeped out when he asked if there was a building with a blue roof behind me. Uh... yes?  Damn... that's creepy) and told me the tow truck would get there as soon as possible.  He was going to send me to some other mechanic and I mentioned I'd been to a different one earlier in the week but whatever worked for them... he said whatever I wanted so I said that yes, I think I'd rather go back to the place I knew so he put that in and then said the tow truck would be there as soon as it could be.

They have an app now, that texts you or updates you and it said it would be an hour and a half or so.  So I carefully grabbed my stuff.

They'd taken my bike out to get access to the wheel area, and the wheel well area was all ripped up.

I figured it was from the friction that caused the fire when the wheel... did, whatever thing it wasn't supposed to do and I looked around and nothing was wet.  At all.  They'd yanked a hose INTO my van and still managed to not get anything inside wet at all.

I looked around.  Grabbed my travel bag... my camera... my computer bag, the GPS, my phone chargers and, randomly, and later, quite amusingly, my pee funnel.  (Habit from the week, I guess... a pee funnel can come in very handy when you're in a difficult situation.)  I sat on the ledge of the van side entrance and packed my things.  Went back and got the teddy bear stuffed honey badger thing I'd been sleeping with, and the map book I'd been using and I grabbed some gatorade and I sat there and talked to Jason.

Fire.  Wheel.  911.  Not drivable.  Please get me home.  Please.  Someone needs to come get me and take me home.  I don't care about my stuff, I just want to get home right now.  Now.  Home.  Now.

I texted a few other people and then got a message from Telus (my cell provider)  "You are $50 dollars over your data roaming"  I'm what?  Are you kidding me?  Where had been my warning message of "you've used up 80% of your package"  But whatever, now wasn't the time to deal with this, I'd deal with this once I was home. 

And then ten minutes later "You owe $100 roaming charges and have been locked.  Respond with YES if you want to unlock your roaming"  ARE YOU SHITTING ME?  But whatever.  YES.  I need this phone right now.  This phone is my lifeline.  Literally.  So yes, charge me you stupid phone company, we will deal with this later.

Jason was stunned.  What happened?  "I have no idea....WHOOMP happened.

And I kept driving."

But she was in great shape!

"So you said.  But here I am. Please just get me home.  Someone needs to come get me."

I've said it before, but shock is a funny thing.

I think I knew I was in shock but I kind of didn't at the same time.  I just knew I had to deal with things.  That there wasn't anyone else here to fix this or deal with this.  This all was on me.    So I had to keep my shit somewhat together.

I talked to Jason on and off while waiting for the tow truck and when he showed up, as I'd known it would be, it was the same guy who'd towed me the previous Monday.  He, just like the guy from AAA was calm and gentle, and as I sat in the front of his giant tow truck, I started to cry.  He got in, asked why I was upset and I told him I felt stupid.  I told him I had known something was wrong and I had just kept driving and that that was stupid.  He told me it wasn't.  He told me to be grateful that I was ok.  That he'd seen rollovers and bad accidents and I was all in one piece.  And I knew that. I knew I really shouldn't be ok and that I was, but still, I was mad at myself for putting myself in that position.  I "shouldn't" have driven past the initial WHOMP.  I "shouldn't" have kept driving past the gas station.  I "shouldn't" have been driving an old camper van in the first place. I "should" have just been a whole lot smarter and just stayed home and not put myself through any of this and nearly died.  I "should" never have gone to Burning Man this year at all.  Not at all. 

We drove, me crying quietly, the few minutes to the mechanic.  I stayed in the vehicle while he talked to the guys, they came by and said they remembered me and sorry I was back.  I cried again.  The guy came in to the cab with me while the driver was unloading the van in the back of the lot and told me they'd find parts and get me back on the road, he just didn't know how long it would take, but that they'd help me.  I told him I was in no rush.  I didn't want to ever drive again.  Certainly not that van.  And certainly not all the way home.

The driver took me to the hotel.  Waited to make sure I had a room.  Gave me the number of someone he'd towed the other day who was heading back to BC.  Told me I'd be ok. I asked the lady at the front desk for some change and I gave him a few bucks.  I didn't know what else to do, but say thank you and give him a tip.  (I find I'm very awkward with tips and never know how much to give but anyway, I wanted to say thank you and it seemed like the thing to do)  And then I carried my stuff to the hotel room and I sat there on the edge of the bed utterly numb and something akin to bewildered.

What... had just happened?

Saturday, 5 November 2016

I'm Scared Just Talking About It

The trip from the gas place to the town with mechanic in it is about half an hour.  A lot of that is the hilly pass area, but I figured I would be ok on it as I'd been ok on the way down. 

I geared down when I needed to, pulled into passing zone spots when they showed up, watched my temperature gauge and, again, traffic worked with me, and soon enough I was over the pass.  Phew.  GPS said there were just about 15 minutes til town.  Which would have been great, except things were rattling.

Or something.  I don't even really remember what was going on except I was terrified.  I *knew* something was wrong, I knew it with every inch of my body, but there was nothing I could do but try to keep going.  I hoped and prayed and knocked on wood that the van would be ok... just get me to town, just get me to town, but never before have I felt that much LEGITIMATE terror in my life.  There wasn't even a shoulder I could have pulled over onto, but the van was not feeling good and maybe just maybe the engine was starting to smell like burning... maybe?

I did my own version of rocking back and forth... sang along to the music I had cranked up as loud as I could, and pretended everything was normal and ok and watched the GPS count down the minutes til I got to town... please just get me there, please just get me there, please just get me there, BAD NOISE!  and then she did start to wobble.

I don't remember the noise itself, just that right on the edge of town (as in I just finally saw buildings) something went and the van started to wobble and I had very little control over the wheel.  Foot off of the gas, thank GOD there is finally shoulders, and I immediately pulled over, off the road (as I said, this was the first time I would have even been able to do this since I'd left the gas station), blinkers on and before I got out to see what was going on, I checked my side mirror for traffic and saw my wheel.

As in, my wheel sticking out.  Where wheels aren't supposed to be.

Again, adrenaline pumping, I grabbed my cell to call for a tow, so very very grateful I had cell service again, and that I'd made it to civilization.  I grabbed my cell, and looked at the back, driver's side wheel, and not only was it nearly all the way out of the wheel well... but now there was smoke.  There was smoke!  MY VAN WAS SMOKING!  Shit.

I grabbed my purse (brain figured I'd need that, but wanted away from the smoking fire vehicle), ran across the road (looked both ways still) and there was some kind of, I don't even know, motor shop or something and someone was outside and I said to him "can you help?  my van wheel is on fire and it's scaring the shit out of me!"

Yes, that's how eloquent I was.  See, I rarely swear here, but I pretty much never swear in public, but I was really really scared and that was the most accurate thing I could find to say to this person.  Help.  I'm really scared.  Fire = bad.  Help.

I pointed, and he ran inside, and then there were two of them, with a fire extinguisher and the shop guy said "he's a firefighter" and I just kind of stood there numbly holding my phone while they ran TOWARDS the now flaming back wheel, and then ran back because that fire extinguisher didn't work or something and I said "is this a nine one one call?" because, really, I had no idea what I should be doing, I just wanted away from the bad, unsafe van.  And he said yeah, so I dialed 911 (first time for everything) and reported that my van was on fire and they said they'd send help and then the line went dead and I don't know if that's what's supposed to happen or the line just died or what but then the guys had sprayed down the flames and the tire had exploded from the heat and then cars and trucks showed up a few minutes later and men just piled out of them and I realized that in a small town like this they would all be just volunteers... called out from their normal jobs to deal with this emergency.  And I felt very humbled.

The fire truck showed up too... again, just regular guys in regular outfits and the young man came over and politely asked if I could open the back door so they could make sure the fire hadn't spread and to be honest I didn't care.  I didn't care about my stuff, or anything, I was just so grateful I was ok, and I didn't want to walk back towards the van, but I did and I unlocked the doors and walked away again and I watched as the firemen all worked on making sure my van wasn't still on fire anywhere.

And you know how you can *know* what someone does but really not understand it until you see it?  Well, firefighters.  My van was on fire.  I was terrified.  And I ran away from it.  The firefighters?  Ran towards it.  TOWARDS THE FIRE.  Towards the danger.  They ran right towards it.  I'd *known* this is what they do but to see it, to feel the danger and see them running into it to make it better, well that impacted my life immensely... and is something I'll never forget.  Thank you firefighters for running towards what the rest of us run away from. 

The young man came over to where I was standing and told me that they'd tried really hard to not ruin any of my stuff and that they were certain the fire hadn't spread inside, but that they'd been worried as it was near the gas tank.

I held back the tears.  Didn't have enough thank yous to give, because they'd looked out for my stuff?  Are you kidding me?  I didn't care.  Didn't expect anything to survive.  Expected an explosion to take out everything, for there to have been a charred mess... I didn't care about my stuff, I was just thankful I was ok and un-injured, really.

And then just as suddenly they all got back in their vehicles and drove away.  Just like that.  No one came and talked to me, they just went back to their lives.  I waved a thank you at the trooper who'd been directing traffic and then I sat myself down on the side of the road next to my poor, wounded, broken van.

Numb.

I texted Jason "I need a ride home."

And then I called AAA.

"My van caught on fire and is not driveable. I need a tow to the mechanic."

Friday, 4 November 2016

Fighting The Panic

So I was a couple of hours out of playa, low on gas, with a vehicle that had just made a really really bad noise and no real choice but to keep pushing forward... telling myself it was all going to be ok.

But I knew it wasn't.

Something didn't feel right.  Which is stupid to say, because I don't KNOW vehicles... and I don't know THIS vehicle, but something didn't feel right... somewhere, but I didn't know what to do.  I had no way to contact anyone... not Jason, not even a tow company.  And what would I have said to a tow company... hi, my vehicle made a bad noise and maybe I'm just being stupid but I'm scared to drive it, can you come tow me?  I mean, you can't make a call like that (can you?) and I didn't know if I was over-reacting or what.  I mean, I worry... I have a tendency towards worry, right?  So maybe all this anxiety and fear I was having about something being wrong with the van was just my mind being mean to me.  I don't know vehicles... I have no way of knowing if something is actually bad.  And I need gas.

I was terrified you guys.  But I just kept pushing forward.

Every once in a while something would go clunk.  Or it would sound like something had fallen off and onto the road.  Fuck.. this wasn't good. It wasn't.  But I was in the middle of nowhere, what else was I supposed to do?

I kept driving.  Let out a huge sigh of relief when I got to the gas station. 

First thing I did was get out and look under the van again. 

Still nothing. 

Everything looked normal. 

I peed.  Filled up with gas.  Topped up fluids again.  Looked at tires and underneath again.  Cleaned my windows.  Looked at the tires... nothing. 

I was scared.  But I had made it to the gas station so yay for that.  Relief.  Chatted with another guy in a dusty vehicle from BC about how nice it is to get to a gas station again, right?  And I calmed down somewhat.

It was about half an hour from there to the place where I'd had the breakdown issue on the way down.  I decided that even if they rolled their eyes at me (not that they would literally, but the thought is there.... that I would be seen as a silly woman worrying over what are totally normal car noises) I would go directly there and not leave until they had inspected the vehicle and told me it was safe.  I didn't care (too much) if that would make me look stupid or if it cost me money un-necessarily, I just wanted to know that the vehicle was ok and safe and ok to keep driving home.

So, again, I calmed myself as much as I could... shoved the fear to the back of my brain, told myself it would be ok, and headed back on the road.  Fighting the feeling of "it's really not ok" with everything I had.

I had gas... now I just needed to make it to the mechanics... another half an hour or so... I... we could do that right? 

Deep breaths... and off I went.

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Going To Be Ok

Of course, it wasn't going to be all *that* easy (sigh) and once I'd hit highway, I found that a week of not driving had left me quite uncomfortable with driving.

I guess all the things I'd kind of gotten used to on the final day or so of the drive down had been forgotten, and suddenly driving her at speed was scary again.

Luckily, most people leaving head south rather than north, so I was able to slow down.

Yes, people RUSHED by me, but the first roads heading out are straight and it's easy to pass so I just happily let the GOTTA RUSH people pass me and slowed myself down to a speed that felt vaguely comfortable.

I think at first I was going about 30mph... anything over that felt quite unstable, scary and unsafe.  After a while, I got up to 40, and then it was curves and twists so slow was fine again, and eventually I started to feel ok again with being on the road and I got up to speed and comfort.  Phew.

It was chilly, being morning and all, but that desert sun doesn't stay down for long and so my layers came off, but the windows stayed closed which meant a little bit of music could be listened to, yay!

I was, still, very nervous about gas.  When I'd arrived on playa I had just a little over half a tank.  But I'd filled past the "full" mark, so I'd probably used a half a tank.  But now, a week later, it seemed I had under half a tank.  Which meant I didn't have enough to get me where I needed to go.  Ugh.  And that level fluctuated... up a little more sometimes, down a lot more sometimes... and as Jason had said, just trust and stop worrying about it, I did what I could to trust that I'd have enough gas.  Plus, I told myself, worrying wasn't going to help fix or change anything.  I hadn't gone to the southernly city, and I hadn't filled up my jerry can so I had what I had and that was it.  I tried to stop obsessively checking the gas gauge and told myself it would all be fine.  Sigh.

I'd been using a combination of google maps and my GPS (someone told me that google maps actually uses very little data, I'd not used it before because of data concerns, and I knew that Telus would be notifying me when I got close to my data limit, so I'd been using it) but with no service, I only had the GPS.  Which was fine, although when I was leaving the playa it wasn't able to "find" anything... which was a little intimidating... Calculating...lost signal... calculati....lost...cal... lost signal... calculating.... etc etc.  But it figured itself out (or the playa gremlins left) and I kept track of how long it would be until I could get gas!  I'd topped up my oil and coolant before I'd left and so it was really just the gas that I was worried about, vehicle wise. 

I was a couple hours out, and the drive had been pretty calm and easy traffic wise.  I was approaching the first small sort of town, with about half an hour or so left to go before gas and I was vaguely comfortable with where my gas gauge was showing.  Phew!  I slowed as I approached the town limits and then suddenly something went WHOMP!

That's the only way I can describe the noise.  There was a giant, loud WHOMP and I thought I'd blown a tire.  I was instantly terrified, but my Dad had told me that if you have a bad tire, the vehicle will pull to that side, so I took my foot off the pedal and my hands off the wheel and the van didn't pull to either side, so I figured maybe I had hit something or something else, I didn't know, but I pulled into the town and pulled myself over, shaking and frightened.

There are always people in this little town as burners will often stop for food or coffee or a break, so I felt ok about stopping and getting out.  My adrenaline was pumping, that had been a pretty scary noise and sensation... but I still had no cell service so couldn't call Jason to find out what to do...  I inspected all my wheels... everything seemed ok.  I got down on the ground and looked under the van.  Nothing was dragging.  Everything looked fine. 

Maybe I had, actually, just driven over a log or something... that I hadn't seen.  Maybe it was just that.  Right?  Sure.  Yeah.  Nothing was visually wrong.  It had just been scary.  Nothing was broken or hanging and the tires weren't low.  Plus I needed gas.  And had no cell service.  It was about twenty minutes until I got to the gas station, that wasn't far... I needed that gas. 

So I took a bunch of deep breaths, got back in the van, and started her up again.

Deep breaths, it was going to be ok.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

First Stretch... Actually Leaving

Monday night, I tried to pack as much as I could but I figured I still had about an hour of shuffling to do in the morning before I could leave (bedding away, bike in, stuff off of front seats and secured on now folded away bed area, dressed for trip, bathroom, maybe some food, etc.) and I wanted to be up and off as early as possible so I tucked myself in and went to bed Monday night, rather than heading out and taking one last look at things....trying not to be nervous about the morning.  But come morning, I was nervous.

I was nervous about time... I'd set my alarm for early, but one never knows how the exodus line is going to be... I checked (on twitter, actually) and it seemed short... which made me want to rush.  Damn.  I didn't want to be in a long exodus line because I figured that would use more gas that I didn't have.. so I felt a little panicky about getting out on time now that I knew it was a decently short exit time...

So I sweated and grumbled my way through the final packing, sorting and organizing and just under an hour later, I was pretty much ready to go.  Shit.  Now it might all go to heck... please let her start.

I knew once I was off playa, I wouldn't have cell service for a good few hours, so I texted Jason to let him know I was leaving.  Last communication for a while and all.  I don't think he was up yet, but at least he'd know I was heading out.  I'd reminded him I'd need him over the next few days as my navigator and stress manager again, he had said he knew and would be there for me.  I told him I was really really still very nervous about gas.  (He got back to me before I lost service and told me to stop worrying and that I'd be fine, so I did... try to stop worrying.)

I was really really scared that the van wouldn't start.  Really.  But I took a deep breath, sat myself in the driver's seat and put the keys in the ignition.

And she started!  YES!

I mean... she at least turned over. Which I'd been worried about. She turned over and I did my morning wakeup first start of the day routine with her and kept my foot on the gas extra long... and she died.  Sigh.

No big deal, right?  We know this drill.  She turned over, so it's just a matter of getting her going.

Tried it again... and... stalled again.

It's ok, Jason says it takes three tries. 

Someone else in my camp was awake by this point and came over to give me some hints.  I've totally forgotten what they are now, something about timing of holding the gas pedal down, but it worked and she caught and didn't stall out this time.  (But I was still nervous as bleep)

I thanked the gal and wished her safe journey home and started out on my way... tentatively.... but, she seemed (the van that is) to be fine and steady and so we started to make our way off of the playa... slow but steady, sun not long up, it was a nice, easy, steady drive to the pavement... and then?  On the road, I'd made it, she'd started, I had gone to Burning Man by myself and was now heading home, yay me!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

End Of The Week

I've found that as the week of Burning Man rolls along, there is a point where my mind starts turning to the sad reality of having to return home...

This year, I knew I didn't have to rush home quite as quickly as I usually do but once it got to the end of the week, I still started to get nervous about getting home.

For one... I had NO idea how the van would do after a week of sitting on the playa.  There are endless strange stories about vehicles (especially older ones) just not working, or not starting.... they say it's the "playa gremlins" and odd things happen to vehicles... so I was nervous.  Would she start?  What if she didn't?  How would I get help?  What if everyone had already left by the time I needed help?  And gas.  What about gas?  When you're leaving Black Rock Desert and heading north, as I do, it is about three or so hours until you can fill up.  There is a "town" or two you drive though but they don't have gas stations, and so I'd been very nervous about my gas situation when I left, and was very nervous about it now that I was close to leaving the playa.

Jason had assured me I'd "probably" be fine.  Which... not helpful, really.  And I didn't know the van well enough to know the gas gauge and, no, I hadn't bothered to fill up the jerry can I had.  Sigh.  I did consider going "backwards" down to the closest down in the southerly direction but I didn't want to... for some unknown, possibly stubborn, reason, and figured I would just learn, hopefully not the hard way, if I had enough to get there and back on one tank.  Sigh.

So come the end of the week, I was nervous about the vehicle starting at all, and if I'd have enough gas to get myself to the fill up spot 200 km or so away.  (125ish? miles)

Usually, Connor and I leave as early as possible on Monday morning, but since I was able to, I planned to actually stay for Monday and leave as early as possible Tuesday morning.  This made me nervous for the above reasons, but also because what if no one was left by then... what if the people I knew had already gone by then and I had no one to ask for help... with whatever went wrong?

I asked around my camp, and there were a couple of people planning on staying and the friend I'd made was thinking of staying too, so I was a little less freaked out about staying.

A few more people decided not to leave on Monday when the line to leave (Exodus) got delayed for police reasons (they shut down the city when a kid is missing... even if the kid is 17, apparently.... but she was found and all was well, but that kind of backup means leaving the city was quite delayed... as in 8-9 hours at that point) and folks who knew this decided to stay a bit longer....  so I was glad I'd decided to stay the "extra" day, even though I was fairly nervous about leaving for most of the day.

I didn't have the usual sadness around leaving as I was still anxious about getting back on the road and really wanting to get myself home.  I did cry saying goodbye to my new friend, but that was about it.  I'd done it, it'd been a week, I'd survived it myself.  Now, home. 
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, 2006-2016 and then some.) Kay? Kay.