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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 ...


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

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.

The Temple on Wednesday morningSo now it is Wednesday morning and even though Our Heroine still has not slept, and neither has her bestie co-conspirator Anjanette, we decided it would be a good time to finally go to the Temple (which had apparently just opened that morning). We went to go freshen up a bit and I checked back in with Josh, but he was still sleepy and didn’t want to come with us. I changed into my Wednesday white outfit (which seemed fitting for a Temple visit) and grabbed my plaster bust art piece and then Anjanette and I biked over to the Temple. We split up when we got there (Anjanette had her own processing to do and I wanted to be by myself for a while) and I walked around the inner walkway for a bit, looking for a place that felt right to leave my offering. I finally settled on a corner of one of the four archways that led into the main sanctuary room.

The plaster bust I made to commemorate my Year of Living Cancerously, left at the TempleThen I found a place to sit down about 20 feet away with my back against a support pole where I could still see the offering I’d left, and I had a good cry for a long time, just thinking about everything that had happened in the last year and all the scary, painful, violating bits that I’d had to be so courageous through, and that now I was finally ready to release and burn away. I especially remember running my hands through my (still very short) hair and weeping for all the things I’d lost, and all the changes I’d been forced to absorb. After a while of that I was finally ready to re-read a copy of the letter to myself that I had written before I left (and which I’d taped a copy of to the inside of the bust so it could burn too.) I’m not going to reproduce the whole thing here (because believe it or not I do keep *some* things private), but for posterity (and extra juju) I will share the last couple paragraphs:


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