Keep the lights on

August 4, 2010

Wednesday, August 4

Silence interrupted.

Although I didn’t put my ticket up for sale, I was forced to admit to myself that not having a real friend to plan, get excited, nervous and ultimately adventure with was eclipsing the unimaginable experience. I didn’t want to go to Burning Man alone. I didn’t want to have to figure everything out for myself.  My mind created a perfect neurotic trifecta of defeat, fatigue and cowardice. All that research for nothing? Where else could I strut that fur coat? Where could I experience the extremes, the desert, the art and people and occurrences that were waiting to happen? I felt like I was wrestling with myself.

On top of that, rational and practical obstacles reared up. Not working full-time for six months has taken its toll and every dollar counts. Honestly, I was kind of relieved, now I could say, “Oh, yes, I was planning on going, but now I can’t afford it.” No one could argue with that, including me.

And so I sadly and gently closed the door to Burning Man 2010, but left a tiny jagged crack between fear and spirit to let in a glimmering sliver of light that would allow a solution, if there was one, to be illuminated.

And now less than four weeks away, I’m standing in a dazzling dappled patch of light.

After everything I’ve been through in the last 18 months; accepting and learning that some things will stay with me to be managed, the renewal process of being on the playa; however it happens is very symbolic to me. The excitement is building again. I’ve pulled out my lists.

I’m meeting with my potential new playa mate on Friday to talk it out. Yay light.



June 26, 2010

Friday, June 26

Last night I went to Mission Rock to hear artists present what they were creating for Burning Man this year.

I looked around at the groups of friends who came to listen and the teams of artists who all seem to know each other and I felt a real longing for Burner community.  It very much seems like a group effort although I’ve read of profound solo treks. And once there, is the solo traveler really welcomed in? What a challenge.

The words, images and artists themselves have played in my mind all day, becoming things I can see and begin to think about all ready.

I was mesmerized by sculptor Marco Cochrane’s presentation of “Bliss Dance.” He explained he’s exploring the feminine energy within the masculine structural materials that sculpting requires. I felt very dreamy as he spoke about his vision and showed slides of what will be a magnificent, sensuous and beautiful illuminated 40 foot dancing woman. He said participants will be empowered to dance freely in this space. He said something like, there’s nothing more beautiful than a woman dancing when she’s completely comfortable and free. They’ll have belly dancers and hula-hoopers too.  I’ll find this one.

Another one that caught me was “Syzygryd” by Interpretive Arson, False Profit Labs and GAFFTA. This will be a huge  music, light and fire interactive sculpture. Participants will create music on panels, each unique composition will become part of the collective symphony that’s being created by others at the same time. It will be a place where friends and strangers create “melodious compositions.” This sounds fantastic and marvelous. It reminds me of “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” when we considered music was the universal and peace-making language of the cosmos. It made sense to me then and certainly does now. I can see participating and hanging out listening and watching the lights and fire for hours.

“Home,” by Michael Christian intrigued me. He spoke about the beauty of maps and called them “lace-like,” -a small poem. He expressed how he feels about cities and maps which struck a note. As I understood him, he explained how cities in reality can be disharmonious, not where one wants to be, but knowing cities through maps can connect a person to the city in another way. He’s exploring his love/hate relationships with cities. To know “of” a city versus knowing a city.  I also liked how he described how he works, “in process.”  He doesn’t have a lot of slides and drawings because he creates as he goes.

Tasty food for thought.

The theme:


June 20, 2010

Saturday, June 19

On what path am I meandering, on what sight just beyond the horizon have I set my mind’s eye?

This morning I took a car-camping class at REI. It made me want to go to a campsite within 200 miles with a favorite person, set up a cool little camp, hike during the day and have magical nights at our personal little campground.

(shaking my head to clear stardust) I’m not going to a campsite and I currently don’t have a favorite person, so maybe that can be autumn’s dream. Must stay focused on the task at hand which is me planning and following through on my solo trek to the playa.

Of course, the class wasn’t Burning Man centric but had lots of good tips.

My favorites:

  • cots  for the creaky
  • the image of playing frisbee all night in a meadow using glow discs and headlamps
  • hobo pie maker
  • rectangular vs. mummy sleeping bag
  • wearing a warm hat to bed
  • the importance of coffee
  • stainless steel margarita glasses
  • the two half-hitches knot

But the piece de resistance was the display outside where I saw this little sparkling jewel,

NEMO Morpho 2P

It’s NEMO’s Morpho tent, very expensive, but other than that minor detail, it seems absolutely perfect for me. I love it! The reviews say it’s worth it, it’s a keeper.  And I could dream my autumn dream…

Has anyone used this? I’d been planning on renting a tent, I haven’t checked yet to see if this is on the rental list, I sense that would be too good to be true.

All in all, I came away inspired.  Now all I need is a patron, a coach to keep me up and on task.


June 15, 2010

Monday, June 14

Inspiration’s been sleeping, maybe it’s on the fence, enjoying the weather.  Here’s what I’ve been doing, just so you know.

I attempted to go to a burning man event in Alameda a week or so ago, I thought I would try to work a hoop. Swirl the energy up from the earth with my womanly magic. I may have messed up. I thought the email said, reply back for the location, I did, but never got it.

I heard from Universal Babel Service, saying hi. I love them. I like old typewriters too. People and machines.

Every now and then I need to open the closet that holds stuff– including linens, wrapping paper, Christmas decorations, a lamp, clothes I can’t bear to part with and out of season threads – and I see the fur coat.

It’s awesome.

There’s been art and sunshine.

I went to a house party this past weekend featuring a blind wine tasting and a shy artist. His work was pleasing; it was hanging all over the house and covered a few subjects.  I particularly liked what I perceived as globs or globes of light among flowers in a vase. There were several depictions. Although I saw him watching me, he didn’t seem interested in chatting with me when I found myself near him and asked whether he liked whatever number wine we were tasting.  Just a watcher I guess.

The week before, I went to my good friend’s open studio. I loved hearing her talking about each piece, what she was thinking as she painted.  I bought this:

Saturday, all morning, the wind was careening down hills, through streets and pushing in windows. The window blinds were rattling each other, the metal levers and glass, the capiz lamp shade became a wind chime and the actual chimes for the doorbell swung gently into each other. Doors slammed until I secured each one.

It was a magnificent symphony, in one movement, courtesy, wind.

this ain’t no party

June 1, 2010

Monday, May 31

I’m desultory.  About everything.

I didn’t expect this indecision regarding Burning Man.

There are many reasons. Speaking my truth isn’t one of them. But going to the playa alone doesn’t seem fun right now.

At first I thought I’d catch a ride on the Green Tortoise but there are odd websites devoted to telling people how fraudulent it is and some creepy controversies I don’t want to be a part of. It’s off my list.

It would obviously be nicer to have my own car, packed exactly how I want it, but from where I sit now, it seems like a huge amount of work to get there alone. Although it doesn’t bother me to be alone there.

 I found a small camp,  Universal Babel Service, I’d  like to be part of, but there’s not a lot of details out yet.

My heart isn’t in it like it was. There’s lots of time, maybe something will kick in. Or will I waffle?

Fur Heart

May 25, 2010

Monday, May 24

There’s been a small but mighty battle between my head and my heart that took place in my belly. It started with a few conflicts, nothing more than slights and snubs that were easy to brush aside, but not to forget completely, they were just too small to dwell on.

My gut and all physical reactions are my true north; I can rely on the accuracy of their messages.

Especially now that my “last year” officially has ended, wrapped up and resolved, leaving me feeling very exposed and raw. The ordeal is finished. It gave me structure through the year, it’s how I lived. It required me to organize, work, heal, process and function in certain ways, outside the norm.

Now that structure has dropped and dissolved; I’m still here. That is a celebration. It’s also a little Rip Van Winkle when he woke, a little like being in a different but vaguely familiar foreign country, I can understand most of the language, but not all. I don’t really know anyone here. But I know myself. I feel a lot.

What’s awe inspiring is, it’s a whole new way. What’s frightening, is, it’s a whole new way.

The battle intensified last week. I chose not to fight although I was hurt.  In some ways I’m tough, in some I’m not. I want to connect, be truthful, joyful and kind. We sometimes don’t understand each other and have to fight to get there. When you’re with a friend there’s an implied safety. If you realize it’s not safe, you have to ask, what is the nature of our friendship? That’s what I asked.

I read a great quote the other day; if you can’t be kind, be vague.

After much thought and honest counsel, I made the decision to follow my heart. My bellyache disappeared instantly. I’m sad, but I did the honest thing.

Now, I’m on my way to Black Rock City, solo. That’s a little daunting for me. I’m not a camper, I have no stuff, I don’t know how to assemble a tent and now, no one to share the surrealness of getting there.

Now it’s even more of a journey for me, alone. Can I do this? Of course I can. Will I do this? I’m beginning my real research now.

I had dinner with friends of a friend the other night, and one of the new friends is a Burner, this will be his 7th, I think. He has been very generous to me with information and insights. He’s gentle and sensitive and also quite pragmatic and hilarious.

After talking a lot about costumes and accessories and always returning to fur (fake), and how I was hunting for it, he surprised me with this gift:

Not only do I love it and him for being so thoughtful and kind, I see it also as a talisman, as a sign that I made the right decision. And I’ll get this trip figured out so I can safely be a freak, celebrate, share, grieve, laugh, give and dance on the playa.

2 things

May 9, 2010

Sunday, May 9 

Something I thought was merely a casual and passing interest appeared as a sincere longing the other day. It had teeth.

 I was absent mindedly scrolling through an event calendar looking for interesting things to do over the weekend and saw the Crucible was offering a special mini-workshop weekend. I didn’t see a price; I hoped special meant super cheap. I’ve loved the Crucible from afar for years; the performances and classes are usually too costly for my budget, even when I’m working.

This weekend it was offering a jewelry workshop. I’ve frequently if abstractedly fantasized about designing and making jewelry, but I’ve never taken it past the drifting wishing stage, just a whisper I brushed aside like a fly.

I grew more and more excited about going and then in a seemingly aggressive sentence I read it cost $85. Sure that’s buckets cheaper than the usual class price of $310, but it doesn’t work for me right now. Might as well be $850.

I felt shattered and painfully disappointed.  Really?

I wondered at my somewhat melodramatic reaction.  Why this now? And almost simultaneously I realized I had heard my creative self and didn’t brush it off with excuses, reasons not to do; like I have no visual art experience, what if I’m not good, or horribly bad,  what will I do with it, why would I do it and who would care about it?

Who cares, who cares about it, but me?

Creativity feeds creativity if you let it. If I don’t listen to me, who will?

And later-

I took a walk around the lake.  A cool, steady and slightly icy wind was blowing off the Pacific, playing a riddle with the warm sun. Walking into the steady force, I had an urge to tear off my clothes and hold my arms straight out from the sides, to let the fresh full air enter every pore, get deep inside my head, bones and veins, and never losing its momentum, blast out the back of me.  And take with it every drop of the past, used up thoughts and beliefs, over-played compliments and criticisms, old memories, grudges and injuries; leaving only clean, clear and open space.

You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  -John Lennon

fertile dust

May 3, 2010

Sunday, May 2

On beautiful cool sunny Saturday  I walked along the lake to the farmers market, bought carrots, looked at many things and smiled at people as we passed.  I very consciously tried to stay open and receptive and breathed deeply and slowly to encourage that.

Trees in bloom bent and danced in the breeze, clouds of life holding pollen blew, travelling great distances on wind in search of places to thrive.

I’m wondering how burners feel all year long when people seem corked up like  half drunk bottles of wine, only letting a little air in and a little out.

How do they replicate an inexplicable aura of a vast swath of desert filled with people who believe in unlimited possibilities when they leave the playa?

 Playa dust travels far distances like pollen, some on the skin and belongings of Burners returning back here. Are Burners the fertile wombs the dust seeks? For 51 weeks does playa dust alchemize their lives?

 Otherwise, isn’t it simply heartbreaking?


April 27, 2010

Monday, April 26

I went to the swap meet at Laney College for the first time this Sunday. Partly because I read how utterly scrumptious the food was and also to check out stuff for Burning Man.

 I walked there with two enthusiastic friends. It was a brilliantly sunny warm day that grew hot the moment we turned out of the breeze.

 I had on this hat

I knew that I looked like everyman’s crazy Auntie Mae, but I didn’t care because when the sun has the sky to herself and I’m going to be outside for a time, I need and want a hat.

The sights were fantastic. Tools, hot bikes and electronics, stuff you’d get at Costco like 24 packs of toilet paper, huge bottles of shampoo, cleaning stuff; socks, tee shirts, flea market tsotchkes, shoes, toys, books, cd’s, dvd’s–tons of stuff that if lined up would surely circle the globe or at least Lake Merritt. It took us a while to find the highly sought after food trucks, but we did.

 I experienced a little magic. I ate my sliced mango, salt, chilies and lime and let my mind follow my taste buds to Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala…

 Up and down the rows we went. This is the place I know I’ll find boots and plenty of filmy, funky, light, breezy, flowy type stuff to wear on the playa. 

It got more crowded, the sun rose higher, it was 1000 degrees. I wondered, if I was so hot here, how would I make it in the desert for a week?

I finally found the truck with horchata, it tasted like cool nectar. I realized wearing filmy, funky, light, breezy, flowy type stuff would be much more comfortable on the playa than my armour-like brushed cotton shorts and sweater around my waist.

We all three walked slower and slower and looked longer and longer at stuff displayed under shade structures.

I tried on a hat like thisI was instantly at least 10 degrees cooler if not more; my head was cool, my shoulders, upper back and chest were completely shaded. It really wasn’t a hat; it was a personal portable shade structure.

However, this is a tricky style to pull off unless you’re

These hats are a little pricey, no swap meet bargains.  I’ve seen them at art festivals too. I guess you’re paying for a lot of hat material-you’re actually paying for two hats, or a small canopy. They’re expensive when you consider they might disappear in a dusty gust on day one or any day on the playa.  But it’s also the perfect place to take that hat.

I think the secret to wearing the portable tent on your head is having the right clothes and the correct amount of clothes; filmy, lingerie-y, flowy, fantasy-like, anything-goes-on-the-playa clothes. I’d attach some type of chin strap to tie it on; although I can see myself levitating if a little twister hit me exactly right, kind of like her-

I’ve now talked myself out of this hat twice; a year ago at the above mentioned art festival and now this weekend.

Of course when I didn’t get it, I wouldn’t shut up about it. My friend said I needed to get the hat. When I asked where I would wear it, she reminded me that it didn’t matter.  “You just need to have it.”   She’s very smart.

So I’m going to get that hat.  Or one like this

Or this

And hope I don’t look like this

 “Life is like a new hat. You don’t know if it suits you if you keep trying it on in front of your own mirror.”  Shirley McLaine.

accepting the unexpected

April 25, 2010

Saturday, April 24

Yesterday I began preparing for the trial, scheduled to start next week. I read the statement I gave the cops the night of the attack and started shaking. The DA had asked me to read it to make sure it was accurate and that nothing was left out.

I was astonished at the details I had given; I don’t remember those things anymore. Eleven months later, I’m not sure when I stopped remembering them; I have to think I shut them out so I could move on.

I was with my advocate, the attorney and the investigator, my team. As I put my sweatshirt on, my advocate asked if I wanted the window closed. ” No thanks it’s ok,” I said, even though I was shivering. “It feels good.”  The air blowing in was cool and refreshing in the otherwise stuffy room.

And then in a few seconds, what I had wanted to happen for almost a year and given up on, went down. Someone came and got the attorney, they stepped out and when she came back she said the guy wanted to plead guilty.

This brute kept me in limbo hell for eleven months, now literally one week before the trial, when I’m finally getting ready for my day in court, the bastard takes his deal. He got to hang in county jail for a year, thereby taking a year off his state prison term. He played the system, didn’t want to gamble with a jury giving him a longer sentence and kept me in a state of hyper-anticipation for almost a year.

It’s good I don’t have to deal with testifying. It’s hard and you never know how a jury will react. The preliminary hearing was brutal enough; the jury trial would have been more intense. Testifying as a victim awakens the cortisol, you’re fighting for your life again. Adrenaline pumping through the body is a powerful current and when it finally subsides, hours or even days later, the result is almost overwhelming emotional and physical  fatigue, for me anyway.  So to avoid that, great. It’s finally over.

I know that, but don’t feel it yet, his decision to plead out came as swiftly as the attack. I was literally preparing my testimony. I felt I was almost done with everything after a long year of start-and-stop-and–start-again healing. But this came so fast and unexpectedly I haven’t caught up yet. I’m waiting.

I’m so glad I decided to go to Burning Man this year. I wish I was in the hot dust now, taking care of my basic needs, riding my bike, laughing with Nora, being alone, being with everyone, letting it all drain into the sand under the blazing desert sun.