Mimosa's Burning Log
Trip Start Jan 14, 2010
60Trip End Sep 02, 2010
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Burning Man 2010
"Why do you go to Burning Man?"
“What is Burning Man?”
“Isn’t it a bunch of naked people on drugs?”
This will be my second Burn. Last year was a complete blur for me, which some would say that I did it right, but a bit too fuzzy for me. This year I am better prepared – mentally and as a camper – and I think I will have even a better time.
I am so excited
Where else can a 50 year old dress up in exotic outfits, drink all day, dance all night and fondle (or be fondled by) near strangers? And, more importantly, why in gods name would I want to do that? After all, being retired and single I can do that at home in the privacy of my living room (and do from time to time). I don’t know really, and I’m not terribly interested in the self-diagnosis part of this question and answer game, but I do find it fascinating that 40,000 people do it on an annual basis. In the desert. In late August.
I’d say that I want to spend more time awake and sober this year, but it’s not exactly true. I just want to spend time doing the things when I want to do them instead of losing time by over doing one thing so that it takes away from my enjoyment of other things. As an example- I love drinking in the morning. There is nothing like a good buzz before lunch. This, of course, is a socially unacceptable practice in my culture so I don’t do it often or when people are looking but at Burning Man a 3rd cocktail before breakfast is norm. The problem is that after 7 or 8 I want to take a nap. Which is okay if you are at Burning Man when everyone is taking a nap in the afternoon so they are sober enough to start again at Happy Hour. I suppose timing is the key. As well as staying hydrated so you don’t totally ruin your own party.
This year is 'specially special for me because I turn the big Five-OH on the playa. I don’t think turning 50 will be nearly as traumatic if I am running about with a few bloody mary’s in my system and some cute outfit at Burning Man. This SO beats having an “over the hill” party at some bar and having to stare down all those stupid gifts. Don’t get me wrong, I love my friends (both of them), but basically I hate that kind of party for anyone.
To answer the questions at the beginning –
Because I can.
A self designed pagan festival.
God, I hope so.
Monday, August 30, 2010
As we were driving toward Home (aka Black Rock City where Burning Man exists for a week in the desert) we noticed several RV’s passing us going the other direction. This, of course, would be no big deal if it weren’t for the fact that we were on our way to Burning Man along with thousands of others and there was generally nothing and no one going the other way. The passing RV’s were clean, which meant that they had not been to BM and they were full of furry shit, which meant that they should be going to BM. Something was wrong.
When we passed through Gerlach the mystery was solved. Gerlach, population approximately 12.5, has one gas station, three bars and a very small market. Oh, and Indian Tacos. Anyway, there was a very long line at the gas station and some poor dude holding a sign that read “We are out of Gas: Diesel only!!” Ahhhh, Sooo!! The RV’s going the other way were making it back to the next town – Fernly- where hopefully they would have gas and if not, it was all the way back to Reno.
Which leads me to my random thought for the day; I think there should be a Theme Camp called “Burners without Brains”.
We made it to the line and waited for our turn at the gate. The winds were pretty wicked and believe it or not, the skies threatened rain. The line was endless. The dust storms were brutal, and then it began to sprinkle. As we finally crawled toward the official gate it began to really rain. Moments after we were welcomed Home they closed the gate. Cosmo did a great job of navigating through the desert as rain pelted the van in a near horizontal pattern. What do you get when you pour water on a very fine, very dry, desert dust? Mud. And lots of it.
By the time we found our spot the tires on the van were caked with mud several inches thick. I tried walking, but in a second my sandals became platform boots. Blessedly the rain did not last and they reopened the gate.
It was cold, but the night was fun. Pink furry poncho, pink uggs and crazy paisley pants. A good time was had by all.
Tuesday on the playa.
The day erupted with light. It was fuckin beautiful.
We made camp, set the sun shade, and arranged things. Then went off to see the land. The art this year is amazing. Magical. I don’t know how to explain to others what this is like. Kinda like having sex for the first time. Incredible and disappointing at the same time – mind blowing and then “is that it?” After camp we made coffee, which was torturous, and rode off onto the desert to look at things.
Burning Man is supposed to be a celebration of Radical Self Reliance, but it seems to me more like a festival of Radical Self indulgence. Which suits me just fine.
Early in the week is definitely my favorite time. Most people don’t arrive until later in the week so early on the Playa is quiet – relatively – and un-crowded
Conservatives consider this annual event a work of the devil. Which is okay, but I’m not sure how the devil feels about it.
Wednesday, September 1
Nearly every time I travel with a guy there ends up being one day or evening when I have my own personal tantrum. General it’s over nothing really and there is alcohol involved. Just so happened that September 1 was my day.
I got it out of my system and when the adrenaline and venom cooled off, I went for a walk by myself and pouted. Obviously, the night before I turn 50 might be an emotional time for me, even if I did say otherwise. Don’t know what I’m angry about. I’m turning 50 and I have my health, sanity and if I play my cards right I don’t have to worry about much. I’m in a good place. I’ve spent the year traveling and doing as I please.
Thursday, September 2
Like it or not, prepared or not, happy or not, the day came and I had to have a birthday. As I wandered back to the van about 4am I felt like I had got it out of my system. Whatever “it” was. The birthday “it”. The strange sense that no matter what you have or haven’t done, no matter what you do or do not have, whether you are married with a perfect family and straight teeth, or whether you’re recently divorced, lost your job, gained weight or found out you are truly sick, no matter what – “it” is not quite enough or right.
Perhaps a birthday is also a mini funeral – where your past is laid to rest. A good day to visit the Temple.
The concept of the Temple is to create a physical place where memories and remembrances can be communicated – via pictures, graffiti, objects of love, tokens or trinkets, often just quiet tears – and then the whole place is burned down. A place to say goodbye to loved ones, fears and dreams
This year the Temple looks a little like a house of cards – each layer leaning precariously on the next. It’s not as dramatic as some other years, but it is beautiful. Earthly.
Cosmo and I were supposed to join a group on one of the art cars to tour the playa and hear from some of the artists about their work. Everything that could go wrong, did. We waited in a very long line before be shuffled onto a big double decker bus and waited more. The fumes from the diesel began to become overwhelming and there were so many busses and mega-vehicles that we couldn’t see nor hear the art or artist. We abandoned the tour, went back to get our bicycles and cruised the playa. Much better.
People commonly say that they come to Burning Man to see the art. As our “tour guide” said “I can party anywhere – Burning Man is about the Art”. She has a point – although one must admit that this is one big fucking party. But back to the Art.
My favorite piece this year was an incredible metal woman. You could see this work from a mile away and up close it was just as incredible. I can’t imagine what it took to erect this in such an obscure place. Such talent.
Megaopolis was another magnificent piece. A mini-city with buildings several stories high including an elevator and an open invitation for graffiti
There is a potluck planned at our little camp tonight and then Cosmo and I are hosting a Birthday Happy Hour at our local bar – The Hair Of The Dog. Then, if things go well, we will jump on the Party Snail to cruise the playa. The Party Snail is a double decker vehicle that boasts a fabric snail shell, and lots of pink and green fuzzy seats.
The turn out at the Happy Hour was light, but it was early in the evening and early in the week. Things were fun and folks started coming in, then this big guy comes by with a “present” from my best girl friend (who was not at BM). French Champagne, funny hats, burner wear and all the trimmings. That’s when the party got started.
Don’t worry – I got my share of the bubbles.
Shortly after the last cold bubbly was served (into my camp mug), we jetted off to board the Party Snail just in time for take off. Deep into the playa we went – to the fence in fact – which for those of you who don’t know what that means – it is way the fuck out there
When we got back to camp, I don’t know when, we did something else… don’t remember. It was hot though…
More art goes here…
Thursday was a little blurry, but not because of my indulgence, rather the winds started up and randomly blocked the sun. I wanted to ride out onto the playa, but every time we thought about starting out the winds and dust came up. It ended up a day for the local bar – HOTD (Hair of the Dog). Stevan, my favorite Aussie Drunken Bartender Bastard was there. A fun time was had by all.
Friday… yea we did something on Friday, I think. Okay, yea, I remember – Critical Tits ride! An epic bicycle ride where otherwise perfectly normal women bare their chest and pretend they are doing a bike ride in the desert to celebrate the goddess within.
Right. I mean, Wrong!
Forget the goddess, bring the inner Bitch
Anyway, I opted out, wearing my “FU” shirt and drank Margaritas from a weed eater with Rupert and the Joyism art car. Interestingly the dust and winds put a damper on the program anyway. Now, just for the record, I have no problem with baring my, er, soul.
Later that night we jumped back on Joyism for a ride. I can’t quite remember where we went, but the evidence makes me think I had fun.
Saturday was heralded with a mixture of thrill and sadness. We decided that we would leave on Sunday morning, before the Temple Burn, so Saturday was the day to break camp. It was also the day for the Man to burn. Only my second Burn and it had come and gone so fast.
Again we wanted to go out to the playa, but the dust was too potent, and I, well, I was feeling a little delicate. HOTD was the cure.
Speaking of speak-easy’s. The local bar at Burning Man cannot be underrated. Ours, HOTD, a mere 30 paces from the van, was by far the most friendly and well stocked at BM. Their motto – “You bring the booze and the music, We’ll provide the booze and the music” could not have fit better and Saturday was stellar for live, improvisational, outstanding music
Saturday is the day for the Big Burn and although I fretted about it during the day, as twilight came to the desert the skies cleared up and the weather was perfect – after all, the good folks at BM LLC will not conduct a burn if conditions are not right. This, contrary to what many think, is not an amateur act – these guys and gals are highly trained professionals with all the gear and regulations (yes, rules) and safe guards. And, yes, I am serious.
The burn was epic. Clear, moonless sky, calm crowd, great view. After the many fire dancers and such the man lifted his arms and the fireworks came. Then the real fire.
There is something special about watching a huge thing burn to the ground without harming anyone. It is major cathartic. It is healing. It signals the end to something and the beginning of something else.
For me, this year, I concluded the first 50 years of my life and laid it to rest. All of my triumphs and failures, all my wish-I’d or could-of’s, all my shit, came down when the man came down. For me, I could move forward without the burden of my past. This is a good thing.
Sunday morning came with a vengeance, but not too much as we had behaved BM responsibly the night before and were quite able bodied to drive
Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were spent cleaning the van and sorting through all the stuff.
Why do I go? I don’t really know, really, but it has something to do with ritual and rites and leaving the past behind and moving forward freely, with acting up and yet not acting out, being audacious yet in control, or being in a place that you can’t control and yet being on top of things. Like I said, I don’t know. Not really.
But the theme for 2011 is out and I can’t wait to buy my ticket.
It was my intention to end my story here, but wait, there is more. I leave in a few days to join my daughter on her epic adventure – the move from Mississississippi to Florida. I think I am driving the U-Haul and she is driving the truck with the cats. Mo later.