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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.

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:


The Space Whale at Center CampTuesday morning a group of us Pinkies (me, Josh, Mom, Anjanette and Deron) put on our tutus (for Tutu Tuesday, of course) and decided to go on a playa art adventure, spurred in part by reports that the Space Whale baby (more on that in a minute) was wearing a giant tutu in honor of Tutu Tuesday, and in part by Anjanette’s desire to go say hi to our mutual friend Chris (Chrispy) at her camp (ASS camp) a few time zones over. We hopped on our bikes and headed for Center Camp, which is where the Space Whale was located. The Space Whale was an ambitious and amazing project: a life-sized diving blue whale mama made of ball-and-joint metal skeleton skinned with over 1800 panels of gorgeous stained glass designed by Android Jones, with a baby whale rising to meet her. (The baby whale was not skinned with stained glass, but it was, as we’d been promised, wearing a purple tutu that day. Later in the week we spotted a narwhal horn on the baby whale.) We ooohed and aaahhed and I took a bunch of pictures but then we got restless (as you do when you’re on an art adventure) and kept going to ASS camp. We stopped in their lounge and did indeed find Chrispy and hung out with her and some other folks for a bit.

Lord Snort the giant metal warthogThen we got restless again and went to go look at more art. Highlights included a gorgeous wind-powered kinetic sculpture (made by the same artist who made the Olympic torch for Rio, apparently), a giant spinning metal warthog called “Lord Snort” that you could climb on (though we didn’t at the time, because it looked too fact apparently the spinning got to be too dangerous so they shut that part of it down later in the week), an incredible huge orange and blue octopus made out of concrete surfaced with a mosaic of round ceramic tiles (we met the artist, Peter, and some of his crew out there...they were giving away ceramic stamped octopus pendants and leftover bits of the mosaic tiles, and it was really hot out there with no shade so I told them I’d come back to them with some ice cold cucumber water from Pink Heart), an incredible 12-foot tall bear with “fur” made entirely of pennies pressed edge-way into concrete, and a giant friendly-looking metal robot called “Mechan-9” sprawled out on the playa as though it had just collapsed and been partially buried there, which we climbed all over.Josh and Anjanette climbing on Mechan-9

Eventually we headed back to Pink Heart, but as soon as we got back I went to our water bar and filled up two Pink Heart water bottles full of cold cucumber water and convinced Anjanette to come with me to give them to the Octopus crew. We gave them the bottles and they loved them, and we had a bit more chatting and took a few more pendants to give away, but then just as we were getting ready to leave the dust got worse and worse until it was a total white out so we had to stay put for a bit. (Anjanette and I seem to have a particular gift for getting caught in white-outs together.) By the time we got back to camp we were completely frosted gray with dust. But dust is something you learn to live with and appreciate out there so we just wiped down and then we went to go serve ice cream (Pink Heart also gives out vegan coconut milk ice cream on three different days, and as previously mentioned, free frozen treats in the desert are AWESOME). I spent a fun hour or so dancing up and down the line giving people ice cream while Josh and Alex scooped. Just like at Arctica, I loved being able to make a quick positive connection with a cross-section of amazing burners. Some people just take the ice cream with a smile or a thank you, but some you get to talk to for a minute or flirt with or make them laugh with a joke.The amazing mosaic tile Octopus (and fish)

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