Wednesday, September 08, 2004

sandstorm prayers and pealing bells

Burning Man is over and we are now on our yearly 354-day pilgrimage into the 'real' world. As always we are equal parts spiritually refreshed and physically exhausted. And dusty. Mustn't forget the dust, precious, as if you could when it is embedded in your skin and hair and everything you own is covered with a fine white powder that sucks the moisture out of your skin when you touch it.

It was an interesting year... we camped out in the suburbs again, and it was again a good choice. A few too many SUVs in the neighborhood, but what can you do. Our experimental PVC structure performed it's main trick (not blowing apart/away) quite nicely, and also had the useful side effect of shielding us from the sun and wind. Our poor little car was so loaded down with shite that the back wheels were all up in the wheel-wells, but it was a trooper and got us there and back again. I completely expect it to die about a mile from our house, which will turn out to have been burned to the ground. I guess maybe I'm not too excited about being back.

The first 4 days were very mellow, as many of our friends didn't show up until Thursday and the weather was weird: Wednesday was like 60 degrees cooler than Tuesday. Of course 'mellow' is a relative term - it's not like there wasn't already a whole bunch of shit on fire, and the party was underway when we got there on Sunday... it's kind of hard to explain exactly how people who are dancing and making (and being) art and blowing stuff up can be seen as sedate, but I didn't feel like I was in any life-threatening situations until Saturday, whereas in previous years I'd already been through all of that by Wednesday or so.

Connections: some missed, some made. We ran into Rex and Bill (the drivers from our Green Tortoise trip to Baja), failed to run into Tina (her related notes should be required reading for newbie burners), and serendipitously hooked up with Caitlin, our beautiful friend from the aforementioned Baja trip who is currently studying law at Berkeley. We met a bunch of new people too, including Jacqui and her son Beau who were quite nice. On Friday Anne and Jim showed up - Anne has the same birthday as me (which incidentally was that very day) and has chronic pain problems that are literally identical to mine... I wish she had an online journal, it would be interesting to compare notes/rants/whatever.

The burn itself was a good ritual - not quite as powerful as in previous years, but still useful for those of us who belong to no specific tradition. I'm a little red from spending too much time dancing around and in the fire, but I choose to think of it as a purifying alchemical flame and overall it was definitely worth it. Anne-Marie and Caitlin and I went out dancing after the burn at a nice little funk place (she's a brickdootdoodootHOUSE) that wasn't too close to raverville, and wandered around checking out the amazing art. Caitlin and I climbed up a 4-story scaffolding in something like 30mph winds and sat looking out over the city (I didn't tell her that the same scaffolding had fallen over the year before, but this year the thing didn't have a huge cloth sail attached to it and looked pretty well staked down. Not that any of this prevented Extreme Testicle Retraction or anything, mind you.)

Healthwise I had a rough day on Wednesday and some severe pain Saturday night, which given the amount of activity I was engaged in basically means I had a free ride. This Is Good.

Anne-Marie and I spent a few days camping our way homewards, stopping at Goose Lake and the Summer Lake hotsprings before camping 2 nights at Trapper Creek and hitting McCredie hotsprings this morning. Note the water theme? Remember the dust? Aaaahhhhh.....