Burning Man Memory Dump

October 9, 2011

I had so many new and awesome experiences at Burning Man 2011 and i wanted to capture them before they faded away.  This is my Burning Man memory dump:

hug mob | “i think i have to go to the bathroom” | playa surfers | tool manicure set | the art car ride that couldn’t | tiny rubber chicken | “i just wanna stay with the group” | brownies for breakfast | toothbrush cart | mid-day car wash | pink mammoth bartenders | the gatorade is not what it seems | “that’s my husband” | Bill from Marion | fire-dancing dangers | Glisten | skeleton wheel | bike biff | rogue costume cone | blocking chairs | gigglepants | the day i found everyone | furred bike | flower head | the wal-mart cart boogie | watermelon and basket o’ chicken man | my burn buddy | hoola-hooping hypnotics | robot heart sunrise party | balloon man | grandma | dusty temple day | led flower garden | black light lounge | the ticket gate line-up | bike maintenance day | the jellyfish water dance | perspective letter blocks | sensei | cigarette arm burn | the cold towel cool down | the boy who lost his bike | ” i think i saw a shooting star” | dancing camp lights | the ice trip t-shirt swap | where’s waldo gaggle | bunny hat | blue coat sewing day | kilts | the hummingbird | jaw massage | laser clock | the light that wouldn’t go out | the red muppet purse | rv crash out | LOVE | the night i learned to let go | the white watch | stu and the map nap | suitcase in the head | pink chair reservations | mayhem | bride woman | emergency vehicle standoff | “I’m just gonna go and get run over” | zombie bike ride

Dear Sensei,

September 20, 2011

You truly are my hero.  You gave me a gift that turned the intangible to tangible.  You allowed me to let go, to forget, to trust that you would be there to hold my hand.

You held me up and i got lost in the stars, wandering through galaxies.  i flew away with a hummingbird and it took me to heaven, whispering in my ear, making me giggle with delight.

You brought me water and danced through the dust, steadying my stumble.  i tasted the sweet air, mesmerized by the pulsing shapes that surged all around me.

i rode  a shooting star, leaving a trail of  butterflies that kissed the music flowing through the night.  You brought me home, gave me peace, gifted unconditional love.

You are beautiful, admirable, and your spirit is decorated with love.

You are magical,

enchanting,

our Sensei.

Grandma?

September 14, 2011

I never expected to see you on the playa, raining down from the stars, revealed in the swirling, smokey tendrils of my spirit guides. I felt the weight of those who drifted down, touching my breast where yours had been taken.

Communicating with silent stares, they told me of your happiness, your peace, how leaving this fugacious world was only the beginning of another chapter of existence.  And now that i have seen what i have always felt around me, i know you are there, waiting until my soul escapes this corporeal shell and joins you in the heavens.

Another Burning Man come and gone.  Leaving seemed much harder this year.  I was so lost last year, not knowing who i was, where i was headed in life.  And now, even when life doesn’t seem so threadbare, i still feel lost.  Lost in a place where only a few people “get it”.  Lost in a sea of judgment and failure and negativity.

i know this is in part due to my own levels of self-worth and i’ve had to struggle with that my entire life.  The hard part is knowing it really doesn’t have to be like that, but for some reason there’s this perpetual cycle spinning and spinning around and people are too afraid to jump off or work together to stop it and start it moving the other way.

There are tons of amazing people at Burning Man.  So many it feels like you’ve landed on another planet, one that’s void of selfishness and the desire to succeed. It’s as if we were all abducted and thrown together in a utopian community just to show us what home can be, what it can mean if we all stopped worrying and looked out for each other, took pride in our uniqueness, praised instead of criticized.

How is it that i can meet complete strangers and within an hour of hanging out with them feel a connection so deep that leaving them after a week feels like my heart is breaking?  Why is it that 98% of the most awesome people in my life, who i barely get to see once a year, are wound so tightly around my heart that i would give my life just to hug them one more time, give them one more kiss?

I’m not trying to be dramatic, though i know it sounds like it.  The awesome part is that this isn’t a stage production.  It happened for real.  People weren’t acting like they cared about the environment or pretending to say nice things about you, it was genuine–believable because it encompasses and folds you right into the middle of it, like the hug mob that attacked me, spiraling me into the center of their furry coats and squeezing me with happiness.

19 Days and Counting

August 15, 2011

Click below for Parts 1-7 of my  Burning Man essay:

Part 1    Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6

Part 7

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Unlike The Man, I am uncertain what fate lies ahead.  But I am alone, like him, standing on a pedestal, watching thousands of people staring up at me, looking for some truth, some answer, waiting for me to burn, wondering how long it will take before I crumble and fall.

The BM festival is essentially about survival.  Surviving the harsh winds of the desert, the sun that scorches your skin, making you delirious, confused, like that game where you place your forehead to the butt of a bat and spin and

spin and spin then try to weave your way back to home base, running into opponents, trying to make out your team’s shouts to lead you back.  Even with all the people running around you and your own team calling you home, you are still alone on that playing field.  It is up to you and you alone to find your way home.

Instead of overcoming life’s realities I merely found a place to escape where those fears were not present.  They still existed, but were stifled by acceptance and the magnitude of art and creativity.  The burning man festival will change you.  It’s hard not to be affected in some way by the massive art pieces, bass-heavy electronic music, costumes and commune-type life-style.  But it will not equip you with the armor you need to go back into the real world and face your real problems.

It’s depressing to go back home, to realize the festival is a living breathing entity that can’t exist forever, disappearing into the dust storm until the next year when it is resurrected again, just like the Man.  I went to burning man with the hopes of returning empowered, but in the weeks that followed, I was more depressed, more worried about my future.  This is what i called Decompression.  The BM website claims it is about returning home and reconnecting with friends and family, sharing and creating new art.  For me, decompression was depression, realizing I would only feel accepted and self worthy for that one week.  That a majority of the people back home wouldn’t understand the appeal of this type of lifestyle.  Months after being home, eyes gloss over when I talk about the festival as if I just returned the week before.  Coming home made me realize how alone I truly am.

And i can’t wait to return.  To be amongst like-minded people.  People who share their map with you and escort you to the bathroom.  People who will hug you just a little bit tighter and a little bit longer than normal.

30 Days and Counting

August 4, 2011

Click below for Parts 1-6 of my  Burning Man essay:

Part 1    Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5     Part 6

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The Man dies every year.  Resurrected, reconstructed and burned all over again. I am haunted by the Man.  He appears in my dreams, my thoughts, waking life.  He manifests himself in conversations that have nothing to do with him, yet I find myself veering towards him, directing everyone’s attention to my trip.

Most plainly, the Man is a pile of wood, represented by the )^( characters, constructed in the shape of a man atop some structure.  A lighthouse, a pyramid, a dome, a tower.  Stairs, broken up by several viewing platforms, lead up to his base, though you can never get close enough to touch him.  He stands above you, just out of reach. At night he is lit up with blue and green glowing electroluminescent (EL) wire, or whatever color is chosen for that year.  Thousands of people flock to the Man the week leading up to Labor Day, but he stands alone, knowing his fate.

He is encased by the Esplanade, a buffer zone between him and the camps, which is littered with art structures, most of which are interactive, like the HARVEYWOOD sign in which each 8-foot tall letter can be arranged into RAVE HOWDY or HAVE WOOD.  Many of the art pieces on the Esplanade are massive in size, leaving me wonder how they were erected, a mirage that merely solidified after a dust storm.

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40 Days and Counting

July 25, 2011

Click below for Parts 1-5 of my  Burning Man essay:

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3     Part 4     Part 5

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The Burning Man festival is a sort of freedom-to-do-what-you-want type of event.  There is no commerce, yet the 51,000+ attendees function like most cities providing services of all sorts.  Freshen your mouth with breath strips from the Minting Station.  Have your body painted by the “happy painting people” at the Tsunami Camp.  Check out the 24-hour cardboard robot experience at Cardbotropolis.  Participate in Socially Appropriate Fart Day where you can let go anywhere and not worry about social stigmas.  Be a private eye for the Deus Ex Detective Agency and explore BRC to solve their newest case!  Create sexy boob bling at the Pastie Workshop.  Have your nails done, try dildo fencing, see a film, a play, get a henna tattoo, a sharpie tattoo, breakfast at Pancake Playhouse, do the hokey pokey.  Need to know how to secure your tent to the ground?  See The Knots That Bind.  Broken bike?  Pandora’s Bike Repair Workshop will give you a hand.  Not sure how to please your man?  Learn the art of the blow job at Cheezy Porn Camp.  Curious about small-scale farming?  Visit the Home Free Dome.

There are endless activities in which to participate, a majority during the day.  If you haven’t spent all day sleeping because you stayed up till 5 or 6AM dancing or watching the sunset, or don’t mind slathering on bottles of sun block to combat Nevada’s 90-100 degree weather and scorching sun, you can check the guide for these events.  If you’re a first time burner, you’ll want to make sure you carry the map stapled in the guide’s center to help you find the camps, which by the weekend is nearly impossible as street signs have been stolen or uprooted and carried off by attendees who are clearly not adhering to the “respect what is not yours” policies.

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