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A blog in which Our Heroine records, reflects and wrestles with meaning. With lots of asides.

Rites of Passage at Burning Man: Part 7

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Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , record , life , lessons , inspirational , identity work , freaky , Burning Man , art

Hot air balloon over BRC-Burning Man 2011Once we bid farewell to the sunrise and the playa, we came down from the DJ booth and dragged ourselves back to camp and to the flurry of final camp breakdown and packing the car. I was exhausted by the time I finished packing everything back up again, but Isis really wanted to leave by 8am Sunday morning to beat the crazy exodus traffic. So we powered through, bolstered by a cool random hot air balloon sighting right above our camp and a final stop at Center Camp for coffee for Isis. Then we began the slow crawl out through Black Rock City and the dead zone between BRC and the highway.

We got out without too much trouble (Isis had been right), and stopped in the closest town (Gerlach) to get a preliminary carwash. As we headed back towards highway 80 and Reno, the euphoria of the previous night and the adrenaline of packing and leaving ebbed away and I started falling asleep at the wheel—so we pulled over in one of the other small towns en route and found a shady place to park and nap for a little bit. We slept for maybe an hour, and then roused ourselves to get back on the road.

The rest of the trip home was long and tiring but relatively uneventful. We stopped in Truckee for gas and lunch (we had sushi in an air conditioned mall restaurant, which was a bizarre contrast to what we'd just been living), and I think a couple of other stops to pee and stretch, and eventually made it back home around 8 o’clock at night. I unloaded Isis’ stuff for her at her house, and then quickly unloaded most of my stuff into a pile to deal with in the morning. The boys and Josh were away at a gaming con until the following day, so I had a lovely, quiet and relatively clean house all to myself, which was great. I took a long hot bubble bath (which I dozed off in briefly), then I finally got to go to bed in nice clean sheets in my very own comfy bed and even though I missed being at Burning Man, that made it a glorious homecoming.

Rites of Passage at Burning Man: Part 6

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Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , record , life , lessons , inspirational , identity work , freaky , Burning Man , art

Temple outside during the day-Burning Man 2011Saturday was really our last day at Burning Man, since we were going to try to leave really early on Sunday morning, so there was lots to choose from to do. I chose to go off on a bike ride on my own in the relatively cool morning hours, leaving Isis to go do her own thing for a while. I biked around the playa for a while and saw some more art, but found myself really drawn back to the Temple, so I biked over there. (Side note: It was at this point I decided to name my bike “Shifty”, since it had the temperamental habit of randomly shifting into a new gear without provocation. But since everything there was so flat, I didn’t really mind, and in fact found it kind of entertaining.) I found a bench on one of the walkways connecting the main temple to one of the smaller outbuildings and sat there for a while, hanging out and being quiet with myself, trying to process some of the things that had come up over the last few days. I wrote in my journal, and eventually on the Temple itself. This time I wrote on the Temple “WE ARE ALL CONNECTED” along with a little drawing, and “NO ONE CAN MAKE ME FEEL INFERIOR WITHOUT MY CONSENT...AND I DO NOT CONSENT”. Writing on the Temple 2-Burning Man 2011I wanted those concepts to burn up and send opposite messages to the universe—one was a wish for something that would come into being (the communal realization that we are all connected) and one was a wish for release (from the hold that others’ expectations have had over me). I also tucked one of my little freak flag cards into a crack in the wall, so that it would come into being in a big and hot and flame-tastic kind of way.

After that I came back to camp and shifted into work mode—we broke down and packed up as much of our camp as we could, and organized things for a quick getaway in the morning (put things in the car, moved our car, made sure the way was clear, etc.) That took most of the afternoon, though of course we took chillout breaks. Then we had dinner and got dressed in our final costumes (Isis was dressed as Isis with beautiful gold wings, and I was the Silver Supernova with my fabulous silver cape and silver sequin-and-fringe skirt). Then we headed out to go see the Man burn—the one big event that the whole city was built around, and that (most) everyone was excited about.

Isis and the Silver Supernova-Burning Man 2011As we headed to the Man, I looked around and saw a really cool effect—practically the whole city was heading towards the Man, and since everyone was lit up in some way (both pedestrians and bikes, in addition to the art cars of course) there was this interesting kind of arterial pulsing effect, where from all sides rushes of light and movement were moving together, converging on the same point. There was a palpable feeling of excitement and anticipation but generally everyone seemed pretty peaceful and calm about the whole thing. Isis and I found a spot to spread out a blanket and sit down to watch, and though we chatted a bit with our neighbors, we mostly spent the pre-burn time appreciating each other (I feel like we have a super close and supportive bond now that we never would have had if it weren’t for Burning Man) and appreciating the transformational week we’d had so far, and talking about what we wanted to release and burn away (fear, anxiety, safety, smallness, expectations, and other stuff I don’t remember) along with the Man.

Rites of Passage at Burning Man: Part 5

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Tagged in: solipsistic , reflect , record , life , lessons , inspirational , identity work , freaky , Burning Man , art

Thunderdome during the day-Burning Man 2011On Friday we had sort of a slow start to the day because of our late night the night before, but eventually I got myself together to go bike over to Center Camp to fetch us the ice we never got the day before. It was the first time there that I’d ridden my new beater bike (bought specifically for Burning Man), and it was pretty fun just cruising along the Esplanade with everyone else. The day was still relatively cool and it wasn’t particularly dusty, so riding was pleasant and I liked the feeling that I was getting to know my way around and recognize certain landmarks, as well as the people-watching.

As I was locking up my bike in the giant bike racks outside of Center Camp, a woman with a little cooler approached me and asked if I’d like a popsicle. Well of course I wanted a popsicle, even though truthfully it wasn’t all that hot yet. I like popsicles pretty much any time, but it especially made me happy to receive such a pleasant gift right at that moment. So I sauntered over to Arctica (where they sold the ice) while sucking on my popsicle, and yay there was no line so I just breezed in and out. Everyone at Arctica smiled at me because I was clearly in such a great mood. The inside of Center Camp-Burning Man 2011Then I went over to Center Camp to get iced coffee (once you start it’s hard to stop) for both me and Isis. I drank mine down pretty quickly and then I went and got my bike and rode back to SSV while carefully balancing a shopping bag full of ice on one shoulder while holding a full travel mug of iced coffee in the other. I made it back safely and deposited the ice in the cooler and the coffee in Isis’ paws, then headed over to the SSV office for a shift as an office coordinator. 

The office shift was quiet and mostly uneventful, although there was pretty much always a trickle of people to talk to (and Isis came by towards the end of it to keep me company). I organized the space a little bit, took some random pictures of myself, trained the guy who was after me, and then I was free. Isis and I grabbed our backpacks and I grabbed my bag of freak flags and freak flag-personalization supplies (sharpies & newspaper) and we headed out. Me in the SSV office tent-Burning Man 2011We loosely agreed that we would aim for Center Camp so that I could hand out my freak flags and have a place for people to personalize them, but first we wanted to walk a little bit in the other direction down the Esplanade, because we hadn’t really gone that way yet and Isis wanted to find some friends at the Deep Heaven camp.

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