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  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    This year I’m
    doing something
    different than my
    usual tradition of
    pithy punch list of
    lessons learned to
    wrap this series of
    entries up.
    I’m writing
    this last entry
    exactly two weeks
    after we got home
    from the burn, b ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Monday morning I
    woke up early and
    decided that I
    wanted to do one
    more personal ritual
    before we had to
    break down and pack
    up our yurt and load
    the truck and leave.
    So I took my handpan
    and one of our
    little chairs and
    walked ou ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    tough physically of
    course but
    it’s also
    tough emotionally
    because it feels
    like the setting and
    the vibe we worked
    so hard to put toge ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Saturday was my only
    day with nothing
    pre-planned and
    nothing I had
    committed to do. The
    burn was almost over
    and I was starting
    to feel nibbles of
    FOMO (Fear Of
    Missing Out) so I
    was determined to go
    see some more art
    (especially ...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Because I had
    actually gotten
    enough sleep, I woke
    up reasonably early
    on Friday morning.
    Josh was still
    asleep, but I wanted
    to take advantage of
    the relative
    coolness of the
    morning and go do
    something. So I
    decided to take my h ...


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Supernova with a giant pickle during the Meats and Cheeses party at Pink HeartSaturday morning we slept in (me more than Josh, surprisingly), and then it was time for the Pink Heart Meats and Cheeses party, which we wound up hosting in our shade patio. In addition to the sharing of delicious meat and cheese-related food items (and those that go with them like pickles and fruit), there was a bunch of Pinkie fun and merriment. One particularly memorable highlight was our campmate Karpo dressed up in a hilarious “cock and balls” stretchy onesie costume, swinging the giant penis around. (Trust me, it was funnier than it sounds.) Like I said in the Intro, I really felt so much closer to and bonded with so many more Pink Hearters this year—we talk about being a “PHamily” but this was the first year I really felt it so strongly. It feels really good to be a part of such a loving, open, committed, conscious, positive group, even though each of us has our individual “warts” and issues, our moments of less-than-awesome, and our particular agendas that sometimes make connection more difficult. It also felt very harmonious in camp this year (at least to me, with full acknowledgement that I was not privy to all that went on and others’ experience might well have been different and possibly less positive). The only down side to all this PHamily love is that now I really miss everyone! I could have spent hours and hours and hours more making camp with and hanging out with and adventuring with other Pink Hearters. We are a pretty amazing crew of kind, silly, playful, raunchy, loving, caring individuals and an absolutely kickass collaborative team.

Biking across the playa to ReFoamationAfter Meats and Cheeses, there was a big group of Pinkies that wanted to go all the way over to the other side of the playa to visit the Dr. Bronner’s camp, where they gift a shower experience called “ReFoamation”. The idea was not only to go get clean (at this point I still had not taken a shower or done any more cleaning of myself than baby of the benefits of having short hair this year) but also to give away some more of the boxes and boxes of leftover Headspace cookies that Anthony had made (and which never got given away on Headspace because it broke down and didn’t voyage through the playa). I had heard of the Dr. Bronner’s experience in years past but never been. This year it sounded good to me and I wanted to go (Josh stayed behind), although I was also feeling a little shy and self-conscious about being naked around other people given how red and obvious my scars still are. Kathy told me that she was going to wear a bathing suit so I decided to wear one of my sports bras and a pair of bikini bottoms that Anjanette loaned me. I’m really glad I did go though because it turned out to be super fun and pleasurable (because clean!)

The line outside ReFoamationAnyway we all biked over there and got to skip the very long line because of the cookie gifting we had arranged, and go in as a group. (There were other people in the dome with us too, but we were a large enough group that we went through as a clump.) The shower experience went like this: first you walked in to a big covered dome with a cool tree-sculpture (with a face on it!) and a DJ spinning upbeat but mellow music, and we took our packs and clothes off and put them on the side of the dome. The floor was covered with perforated foam tiles with a tarp underneath, so you could walk comfortably around (and dance) with bare wet feet. One side of the dome was the showers—so after getting naked, you walked with your group of about twenty people up some stairs and into a clear plastic-enclosed area with a scaffolding above it. There were people up in the scaffolding with foam and water sprayers. Everyone gathered in a clump on one side of the enclosure and they explained to us that the goal was to not wash yourself and to not use your hands, and then they blasted us with a ton of fabulous thick peppermint-smelling soapy foam while we all shrieked and yelped and giggled and wiggled around. (I have to admit that right beforehand I had a brief twinge of Holocaust shower PTSD but it was so clearly not the same kind of setting and so happy and fun that I didn’t linger in that thought.) Then the group moved down the enclosure to the other side where they sprayed us down with water (and there was more yelping and giggling). After that we all walked out and down a set of steps back into the rest of the dome, where there were people painted and costumed to look like satyrs and dryads and other fae woodland creatures who offered you oils and lotions (and later on, after we Pinkies got into the act, cookies). I have to say it felt blissfully great to be clean and moist and moisturized in a cool shaded dust free space while also dancing around and appreciating all the different shapes and sizes of naked bodies happily coexisting. Anjanette said to me at one point “you know, this is exactly what people who don’t go to Burning Man think we do out here the entire time” (e.g. get naked and dance around in pagan rituals). Giving out cookies to clean naked happy people was really fun too. I loved the whole experience and I will definitely do it again next year (and hopefully this time with no clothes on). 

Julia in her new Lady Luck costume, strutting the runway at Kostume KultFriday we were supposed to have a volunteer space on Headspace but it was broken and not going anywhere, so we had a day free of commitments to explore and play and do whatever we wanted. What that turned out to be was a slow start and some fun chill time in the back of camp with various friends over at our camp neighbors Deron and Suneeta’s place, and then Mom and Kathy and I decided to go over to our neighboring camp, Kostume Kult, for some free costumes. We’d been hearing them all week with their very loud sound system and often obnoxious MCs talking about the people strutting the runway, but we hadn’t yet gotten around to the whole Kostume Kult experience. What is the Kostume Kult experience you ask? I will share. First we went and waited in line along the edge of their frontage, which looked like a graffiti’d metro car cut in half, and watched people who had acquired their new costume pieces come do a parade down a long elevated runway that led from the curtained back of their frontage up to the Esplanade. Then we were welcomed in groups to pass through a curtain and into a large tented space full of clothing racks and bins on tables and wall clips full of costumes and accessories. A lot of what they had there were actual costumes (e.g. the low quality kind made for Halloween and other costume events that you might find at a Spirit store) as opposed to just fanciful costume pieces, but because burners could also bring things to gift (we didn’t, although apparently if you did you were allowed to skip the line), there was some random one-off stuff in the mix too. After browsing around we all found some fun things to try on, which we did over in one corner of the tent. Kathy found a beautiful long pink tropical flower print dress with little ruffles on the neck and sleeves, Mom found a black gauzy overshirt and a bright pink Mad Hatter soft top hat, and I found a silly “Lady Luck” costume which was a long stretchy green dress with three-dimensional foam dice as shoulders (being a long time tabletop gamer, I could not resist a costume with dice), a gold horseshoe insert at the neckline and a gold chain “belt” with a four-leaf clover, a small foam die, fake rabbits feet and a heart hanging from it, paired with an oversized “leprechaun” green top hat with a fake gold buckle on it. Once we were satisfied with the things we found and ready to take them away, we put them on and exited the tent, where we waited in a much shorter line to go show them off on the runway. It was fun to strut down the runway dancing to the music and doing model twirls; the MCs were obnoxious and loud but generally supportive. Sadly, at some point in the trying on fuss I lost my sunglasses, and even though I went back right away to look for them, there was no way of finding them in all the piles and bins of stuff. (I lost a lot of things—sunglasses, water bottle, buff, earrings, flashlight—at the burn this year, like little aftershocks of the bigger losses I had experienced during the year between last burn and this one. But they were very clearly just things, and though I was sad to see them go, it didn’t bother me that much.)

Anjanette climbing Lord SnortWe went back to camp to show off (and in my case, take off) our finds, and hung around for a bit longer with our campmates, until finally at some point in the afternoon Anjanette and I motivated to go out on another playa art adventure. (I got to spend a lot more time with my bestie at this burn than I had anticipated, and that was a real joy.) She wanted to climb on the giant warthog, which even though it was not spinning anymore looked too hard and dangerous for me, so I declined and cheered her on and took pictures from the ground. She made it all the way to the top and back again with no incident.

Doors to RecoveryOne other cool highlight from that set of art adventures was a piece that I later found was called “Doors to Recovery” but which Anjanette and I were calling the Lotus Temple (there was a giant and gorgeous Lotus Temple we had spent some time in the year before, but this was much smaller). It was a room-sized, lilac purple octagonal structure with a conical roof, and a big white lotus flower at the top of the roof. Each facet of the octagon had a door in it, and each door was painted with a beautiful painting and a question above it, which said things like “what makes your heart sing?” or “what sets your soul on fire?”. There were a few fill-in-the-blank questions too like “addiction is...” or “a natural high is...” or “self-love is...”. You chose a door to enter through, and once you entered you realized that (not surprisingly, given the size of the building) all doors led to the same interior space. Right in front of you when you first entered were chalkboard-painted walls punctuated with open entryways into an inner room. The chalkboard walls had the same questions as the outer doors above them, and space and chalk to write your answers below.

Freaks making flags at Pink HeartThursday morning I had to get up bright and early to run my “Fly Your Freak Flag High” (FYFFH) workshop, which started at 9am. (I almost never have to set an alarm on playa, but this was one of those times.) Mom had agreed to help me run the workshop, so she and I grabbed my box of flags and the box of newspapers and sharpies and made it out to the Pink Lounge right before 9. There was actually one eager soul already waiting there for us, but otherwise all was sleepy and early morning-vibe. I roped in a few more people who were hanging around the lounge, and got everyone started coloring. Then I took some blank flags and wandered around trying to convince other people to come play with us. I gave a few flags to the Pinkies working the water bar so they could recruit people who came for water (and do their own flags if they wanted). I realized this year it worked best to invite people to “come color with us” as opposed to “would you like to make a flag/make some art with us”. I think that’s because with the new popularity of adult coloring books and coloring as a meditative/relaxing activity, people were more interested in coming to chill out and color on something while chatting with others than perhaps they were interested in a specific workshop/art-making experience about figuring out what kind of freak they were and displaying that publically. Which is not to say that we didn’t do both (in fact I think the “come color” concept was a good Trojan horse way to ease people in to the fuller experience of thinking about their identities), but the “chill and color” concept seemed to be especially attractive in the early morning (probably would be during the hot afternoon siesta hours as well).

Freaks flying flags after the FYFFH workshopAnother thing I noticed about the FYFFH workshop this year was that we had many fewer people participating this year (probably only about 20 folks over the course of the two hours), but they were all really into the activity. Many who did participate took it really seriously and spent quite a bit of time making their flags. I had one woman tell me how making her flag really helped her clarify and bring into focus some of the big epiphanies about her burn, and she really appreciated having a way to create a physical memento to remind her of them. Cool! With so relatively few people to manage, I had more time to connect and hear people’s stories about their flags and what they put on them, and really give people the gift of being seen and heard. (I especially enjoyed chatting with a young man from Boston who gave me enthusiastic recommendations about “livetronica” bands from Philly to listen to after I asked him about the logo he’d put on his flag.) My friend Ron came by during the workshop and made a flag and we got to catch up a bit, which was great, and my new artist friend and camp-mate Deron came and made a flag too.

Supernova and Mystic dressed for the Pink RideAround 11am people were starting to gather for Halcyon’s Hug Nation talk and the Pink Ride (which meant our Pink Lounge was getting crowded), so I gathered up the coloring supplies and the box of flags and put them away and went to go get all pinked up for the Pink Ride. There were a bunch of Pinkies hanging around in the back of camp while Halcyon was talking, waiting for the Pink Ride to start. It turned into a mini-Meats and Cheeses farewell party over at Rod and Sarah’s shade patio, since they were going to be leaving the burn later that day. Eventually Josh and I went out front to get our bikes ready to roll and check in on what was happening with Halcyon’s talk, and I discovered Anjanette out past the Dream Swing flying a kite in the increasingly windy (and dusty) weather. She was having a happy time with her kite and decided not to come on the Pink Ride. Eventually the pink masses gathered and rolled out on the Pink Ride, following Halcyon and yelling “I love you!” and various compliments to people we passed as we cycled by. (People almost always yelled “I love you!” back.) The Pink Ride went a different route this year (I think because we were closer to Center Camp this year and Halcyon wanted to extend the ride a little). We rode out to the Man plaza and then down the 6:00 spoke to Center Camp, and circled the “Inside the Mind of Da Vinci” sculpture on the way. While we were all standing around in the big circle outside Center Camp waiting to go inside, I gave away the rest of the 40 or 50 pink heart bubble-wand necklaces I’d made (I’d given some to campmates earlier). Then we all held hands and spiraled in to Center Camp in a massive pink swirl and had a big “love you!” hug-fest with everyone.

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