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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 ...
    Readmore...
  • 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 ...
    Readmore...
  • Radical Rituals at B ...
    Sunday is always a
    tough day at the
    burn because we have
    to strike
    camp—it’s
    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 ...
    Readmore...
  • 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 ...
    Readmore...
  • 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 ...
    Readmore...

Parentheticals

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

closeup of the Man at night inside the pagodaThis 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, because it’s taken me that long to find the time and the energy to write all the previous entries and frankly, I needed a little time to let the lessons and themes clarify and precipitate out. People keep asking me “so how was Burning Man?” and my answer has been pretty shallow (“it was really great and really hot!”) because how it truly was and how I felt about it requires a much more complicated and layered answer and most people really don’t want to stick around to hear all that (but if you’re bothering to read this, maybe you do so I’ll tell you).

So how was Burning Man?

I enjoyed it overall, despite some discomfort with the heat and a few times of crankiness or upset with Josh. I spent some excellent quality time with familiar and unfamiliar PHamily members and felt I had a place and was valued, but didn’t get a chance to go transformatively deep with anyone. I was able to formally express my artist and musician identities by doing my Fly Your Freak Flag High workshop and the Radical Love Ritual and by performing on stage with my handpan at Center Camp, and those things were successful and made me feel recognized and appreciated, at least in a modest way.


handpan at sunriseMonday 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 out to the open playa, and played a sunrise set. A few people came out from both Pink Heart and Red Lightning and joined me, and watched the sun rise over what was left of the playa art. I’m so glad I did that—it was good personal closure to able to say goodbye to the playa and my experiences that week through making music. 

After the sun was mostly up I went back and Josh and I began the unpleasant process of packing and disassembling and loading our personal stuff. I was tired and cranky and had to keep saying goodbye to people who were leaving, plus there got to be a bunch of things that other people had apparently abandoned that we had to help figure out how to take care of that made me even more irritable. (And as it would later turn out, apparently I was also in the throes of PMS, which I certainly had not been expecting...I got my period for the first time in 19 months the next day.)  But Josh tetris-ed (yes that’s a verb) both the truck and the van like a boss, and we eventually got everything loaded and finally left the truck with Anji and drove the van out to leave Black Rock City by around 1pm. Amazingly enough there was virtually no wait or line at the Gate until the very last part where everyone had to merge down into two lanes (we made it completely off playa in about two hours, which is probably the best Exodus ever).

Pinkies at the Silver Legacy in RenoIt was a fairly slow slog once we hit blacktop, with some spectacular clouds and rain squalls along the way between Gerlach and Empire (we were soooo grateful not to have been trapped in the line to get out by that rain, though I’m not sure if it ever even made it to playa). We got ahead of the rain and wind and stopped off in Nixon to get rid of our trash bags, where the weather caught up to us just as we were leaving. We did see some beautiful rainbows though. We made it to Reno by around 6pm if I recall correctly, and checked in to the Silver Legacy. It was really great to be able to take a break there and not have to drive all the way home. We called our kids and took that blissful first shower and dressed in clean soft clothes and went down to the lobby to meet up with a bunch of other Pinkies (including Doug and Elena, who hadn’t been to the burn but who came to Reno just to hang out with other Pinkies) who were also staying at the Silver Legacy. We hung out in one of the casino bars for a while and then there was a big group dinner at P.F. Chang’s, which I enjoyed the heck out of, especially since we really hadn’t eaten much that day.


Pink Heart at sunrise before strikeSunday is always a tough day at the burn because we have to strike camp—it’s 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 together all year and so enjoyed all week comes apart so rapidly and irrevocably, and then is just gone, poof, like it was never there. (Yes, yes, we carry it in our hearts and in our memories, but at least for me, that dismantling always carries a shot of grief in it.)

So we woke up and put on our work clothes and reported for strike at 7am, and everyone started pulling things apart. I started by taking down the Gifting Wall and all the necklaces that had been left there with words of love. I distributed the ones that had been written on to as many Pinkies as I could find who didn’t get one yet, and then put the ones that were left with the blank ones that were left back on their sticks and in a box to give to Karpo (along with the sign explaining the ritual) to take with him to Youtopia (the San Diego regional that is happening in October), where they will hopefully be distributed. After that I helped with a wide variety of schlepping and disassembling and mooping, until it got to be the hottest part of the day and I had to rest for a bit. Some people were hardcore and kept working through the heat but if there’s one thing I think this burn was about it was self-care tests, so I decided this was not the time to be hardcore. Cookie was amazing and kept feeding us all, and that was a huge help. At one point we had to figure out what to do with the lost and found that had accumulated in frontage over the week, and there was the opportunity for a few playa scores (Kat was nice enough to cede a cool furry vest that we both wanted to me, which I’m pretty stoked about...and we didn’t even have to take it to the Thunderdome to resolve).

Pink Heart frontageI also remember at some point that day having a conversation with our campmate Lionessa and a few other Pinkies about the news we’d heard that someone had committed suicide the night before by jumping into the flames of the Man burn. Lionessa had been on the perimeter and close by. She watched the whole thing happen, including the heroic efforts of the firefighters who tried to get the guy out of the fire but were unable to save him, and she was pretty upset and traumatized. I don’t want to speculate on why someone would do such a thing or pass any sort of judgment except to say that his decision to do something so spectacularly and selfishly rash traumatized a whole lot of other people, and that is a bummer with a huge ripple effect which is still playing out in the burner community. (And once we got home, that tragic death was all anyone wanted to ask us about once they heard we’d been at Burning Man.)


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