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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 >> identity work

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.


Supernova playing handpan at the ManBecause 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 handpan and go play with the gongs at the Man base and see what serendipitous interactions came my way. I had a lovely couple of hours there people-watching, playing handpan and talking to people (and letting people try my handpan). It was fun and a bit frustrating trying to listen to and play along with the gongs (which were apparently programmed but in a fairly chaotic, random pattern that went from soft to loud and back again). In yet another example of playa magic, I was sitting there thinking “gosh I wish I had a picture of me doing this so I’d remember it later” when someone came by with a Polaroid camera and gifted me with a photo. A little later on another lovely soul named Jason wandered by and stopped to check out the handpan and talk to me, and he turned out to be a photographer with lots of equipment so he took some photos and video of me playing (though I was feeling kind of nervous and on the spot so I don’t know how well they came out, but I don’t care.)

Pinkies biking across the playaAfter a couple of hours I had to leave and head back to camp because there was a group of campmates planning to bike across the playa to TransFOAMnation (this was the Dr. Bronner’s foam shower camp that I’d had such a good experience at last year, when it was called ReFOAMation—they change the theme every year) and hand out cookies. I also brought a couple hundred Pink Heart wooden necklaces to gift (we had so many, and it was clear that we would not go through them all just by passively leaving them on the Gifting Wall). I definitely didn’t want to miss the trip to TransFOAMnation, both because it’s such an awesome experience in and of itself to be dancing around with friends and strangers all clean and naked, and because it represented a kind of personal radical ritual to me to try appearing naked in public in all my modified, scarred-up glory. (This year I was determined to go through the whole experience naked, unlike the year before, when my reconstruction surgery scars were still quite fresh and I was feeling kind of shy about being naked in front of friends and strangers so I wore a two piece bathing suit.)

Supernova in the True Reflections PalaceWhen we got there we once again got to skip the very long line and go straight in in a Pink Heart clump, and I took a deep breath and stripped down and climbed up the steps and got foamy with my PHamily. And you know what? It was great. Even possibly greater than last year. I really reveled in the feeling of being clean and naked and dancing around with a bunch of other clean, naked, happy people. I had fun connecting with people and giving out necklaces and love (I let other people give out the cookies). I didn’t feel self-conscious or have any negative body-image moments at all. I sort of expected that I might get comments (from PHamily if not from strangers) about my scars but no one said anything, and although in some small way that was weird (because this big important thing had happened to me was not acknowledged), it mostly felt great to have an experience where I felt “normalized” in my body again.


Burning Man 2017 - Radical Ritual - ticketI’m trying something new this year, and pushing to get my Burning Man reflections and wrap-up blog posts done in the first few days after I get home, instead of weeks later. I didn’t keep a journal at the burn like I usually do (because reasons, none of which are particularly compelling), so I am feeling some sense of urgency to try to remember and set down as much as I can while I still have a little dust left around me. Not letting it sit and stew for a few weeks may mean that the lessons and themes from this year’s burn are still a little unclear, but perhaps doing this write up will help to clarify them.

As usual though, you are welcome to click here if you want to just skip to the end of all this detail and read the list of lessons and takeaways, and click here if all you want to do is look at the pretty pictures with captions. And if you are unfamiliar with Burning Man in general, you can go read some of my initial entries from 2011 in which I do lots of ‘splainin’, or click here to go to the official Burning Man web site which has more info and content and things to look at than you can possibly imagine. (But don’t get lost, come back here eventually!) 

It was another busy overwhelming summer for me and especially for Josh, so as soon as The Game Academy summer camp finally ended in early August we spent a few weeks frantically prepping and packing All The Things (as Josh commented, we bring the equivalent of a small apartment out to the desert with us every year, because we are glampers and unrepentant just-in-casers). Once again Josh decided to go up early to playa (he left Tuesday with Anji) in order to help build camp, and I stayed behind to get the kids started with Back-to-School and finish the last few pre-burn to-dos. Luckily we didn’t have any major burn projects to work on this year (Josh had to do some fixes to the water bar; I made another scallop coat and put together a little Pink Heart gifting ritual, which I’ll get to in a bit) so it was really “just” getting all our stuff together and loaded (which is harder than it sounds because as I said above, it’s a LOT of stuff).


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