59 Days and Counting

July 6, 2011

Click below for Parts 1-3 of my  Burning Man essay:

Part 1     Part 2     Part 3

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Whenever I met someone or was introduced to friends of Justin, I was greeted with the phrase, “Welcome Home” accompanied by a comforting hug.  Not the type of tap-tap hug in which there is still space between you, but the tight kind that leaves no room for air and makes you feel loved, wanted, accepted.

What a world of merriment their melody foretells!

As a virgin burner, I was extracted from the rental car, hugged with a forceful acceptance and handed a long metal rod, like the lead pipe from Clue, only life-like and heavier than you think and told to clang a bell, almost two feet in length and hanging from what looked like a miniature swing set.  This, of course, was after I succumbed to the playa.

I was slowly weaving the car through the cone-lined path towards the entrance, listening as Justin read the poetic quote signs bordering the far right lane.  It took nearly an hour before finally reaching the gate-greeter.

“Howdy, folks! Welcome home.”

A shirtless man in a sarong and mad-hatter style hat rested his arms along the rolled down, driver’s side window of our rental car.  He was covered in such a thick film of dirty white playa dust that the original color of his clothing was no longer discernable.

“This your first time?”

Justin leaned over from the passenger side telling him it was his second year, but my first.

“Well, in that case . . . .”

He pulled open my door, motioning me out.  Justin had hinted there would be something all virgin burners would need to do at the gate, but didn’t get into specifics.  The greeter gave me a short infomercial on how the playa dust was going to get in and on everything and that I might as well pay homage to its omnipresence.   I dived to the ground, rolling around on the hard lake bed like a dog let outside on the first spring day, came to a stop on my back and made a playa angel in the dust.

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81 Days and Counting

June 14, 2011

Disclaimer:  Last year was many things, but the most memorable was by far my trip to the desert of Nevada for the annual Burning Man festival.  It truly changed me in ways i’m still discovering.  And the more my friends and i discuss our plans for this year’s Burn, the more excited i get.  

While taking a writing class last Fall, i wrote a piece about my experience at the festival.  Actually, all my pieces were in some way tied to Burning Man as it was all i could talk about.  I’ve decided to publish some pieces and parts of that essay here in various installments.

No one can really describe Burning Man.  Trust me, i had a whole peer group of writers constantly telling me to describe it more.  You really have to see it for yourself.  It’s like nothing else in the universe.

So for all you Virgin Burners out there, I can’t wait to welcome you home along with the rest of my burning man fam.

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I clung to the small steel triangle through which my face was pressed.  Two girls with swollen foamy bats were bobbing in baby-swing harnesses strung by bungee cord rope that was tied to the top of what looked like a massive dome-shaped spider web.  I felt like I was in the middle of Tekken, a video game where you battle an opponent, equipped with special moves and powers.  Only this was real life, not a game.

Two girls were in the center of the replicated Mad Max Thunderdome, one with neon blue hair while the other sported pink, both with knee-high striped socks matching their hair and chunky black boots.  A bald man dress all in black motioned them to their corners before shouting the battle cry again.  They flew towards each other with Matrix-like poses, batons raised.  Pink Girl struck Blue Girl in the left breast sending her spinning to the right.

The dome, which was crawling with people, filled with cheers and shouts.  People in funky hats, superhero garb, bikinis and nothing at all lined its walls from the ground up, some leaning against its curves while others chose to dangle their furry boot-covered legs over the steel structure.

I looked back for Justin, who’d given me an encouraging nudge to check out the structure, making sure he was nearby, panicking for a brief moment as without him I would not be able to find my way back to camp.  I snaked through the crowd to where he was standing.

“I totally want to do that!”

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