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

Year End Reflections: 2016 Version

Posted by: julia

Once again I am stealing some time away amidst the familiar familial hurly-burly that is our Stinson New Year’s tradition to do some reflection on the past year and record it for posterity. 2016 will definitely be a memorable year in my book, mostly for purely selfish and personal reasons (helloooo cancer! And also, goodbye!) but also because this past year has definitely felt like a turning point in history, especially with the election of Donald Trump and all the accompanying upheaval in American life. We are certainly living in some interesting times and I am doing my best to stay solid in my values and my determination to keep loving and creating and making the world a better place for everyone.

But before I get too far down the rabbit hole of predictions and solutions for what kind of looking glass country we seem to be dealing with, let me go back to the point of this post, which was to record and reflect on what happened to ME in the year just past (because after all this is my solipsistic storytelling space). With the able assistance of my calendar and my photo log, I ought to be able to at least remember the highlights in vaguely chronological order.

January started off quietly, which was definitely welcome after so much upheaval (cancer surgery and treatments, holiday hoo ha) in the previous months. For my birthday weekend Josh and I got all dressed up and went to the Edwardian Ball in SF for two nights with a bunch of friends and had a terrific time. A few days later we also went to see the Wood Brothers in concert but it turned out to be kind of a bummer show since the band was sick. The week after that I had my first chemo treatment, at which I did not have a terrific time but at least it turned out to be less horrible than I had so fearfully anticipated.


Julia's hat on the dash as we waited in the Exodus line

Monday we got up as early as we could and spent three or four hours striking and mooping our own camp area and loading up the van and the Uhaul with all our stuff. We said goodbye to all our remaining camp mates and then Mom, Josh and I caravanned together with Kathy and Anthony to the Exodus line. We were expecting it to take a long time to get out and at first we were happy and perky hanging out in line with our friends and other random folks around us, but after hours and hours and hours of that we got tired (like you do) and cranky. I spent time writing in my journal and listening to BMIR. We didn’t hit pavement until nearly 9pm, which meant that our traditional stop at the Black Bear Diner in Sparks was not going to work (they closed at 10). So we decided to go back to the GSR to get some food (casinos are open all night, after all) and maybe see some other Pinkies there. Once we got into cell range Mom called Dad and we called home and spent a nice long time (maybe an hour?) talking to our eldest (youngest had already gone to bed) about what had been going on for him in the first week of school, which was great.

We got to the GSR around 11 and changed clothes and wiped down in the restroom there and then promptly ran into Alex, Lionessa, MissyKat, Halcyon and Millie. We had a late dinner with Kathy and Anthony and Millie, and then eventually got back on the road around maybe 2am. We were all tired but especially Josh, who’d been driving most of the way. I took over from him for the last hour or so, and had to fight to stay awake, especially when we hit morning rush hour traffic around Vallejo. We got home just before 7am, and the kids were already up and about getting ready for school (though my poor Dad was asleep on the couch waiting for us to get home). It was so great to see the kids (and they were happy to see us too) but it was also great that they left to go to school and we could finally shower and fall into our own comfy bed for a couple hours.


Sunday we did indeed get up ridiculously early and jump right in to hours of camp teardown. I mooped and schlepped and helped write down the inventory of one of our two camp storage containers (which both got absolutely crammed with stuff in every smidge of space). I worked on that until mid-afternoon, after which Josh and I tried to consolidate and pack up as much of our own stuff as we could in preparation for leaving the next day.

The Temple burningAround 7:00 we got a few people together to head out to see the Temple burn. As I already mentioned, that burn was particularly lovely and meaningful, although I’d done much of my processing already. I was especially drawn to/impressed by the smoke angels (vortexes or tornados of smoke that formed at the fire and “marched” across the playa in a line until dissipating into the air). They started at the Temple and kept leaving it in a beautiful procession, one after the other. I also loved watching all the embers dance away up into the sky, billows and puffs and clouds of tiny glowing sparks all moving this way and that until they winked out. I was glad to feel the sense that all the grief and loss of the last year were puffing away so beautifully, and to put a ritual sense of closure on my year of living cancerously. I took out my letter to myself that I’d been carrying around and re-read it. Ryan, who was sitting next to me, asked if he could read it, so I let him, and then Josh asked to see it too, so I let him read it too. Really the whole thing was beautiful and satisfying. I would have stayed longer but at a certain point everyone else with me wanted to go so I just let that desire go along with everything else I had let go of that burn and went back home to Pink Heart, where almost everything was transformed also. Our fluffy pink home during the week was gone, all packed up, vanished like the beautiful temporary love dream it was; but our little silver yurt and shade patio were still there. (Hmm, are there metaphors here? Yes, probably, but I will let you imagine your own.)

[Da Vinci's Workshop Intro]


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