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September 10, 2016

Days and Nights at the Burn - Days 0

Note* This post is part of a series detailing my recent participation in Burning Man 2016. I'd like to warn the reader that I'm writing these for personal use and the details noted are likely biased, inaccurate, and increasingly full of profanity as the days go by. Names may have been changed.

I arrive in San Francisco near midnight; flying in from the east coast takes a lot of the day and I'm pretty tired when I arrive. In the first of many Uber vs Lyft engagements, I grab an Uber from SFO. The driver is pleasant (they all were) but I get some odd bites on my leg as I'm riding. I finally arrive at my host's house, and in a wonderful representation of the rest of my time here, he's super welcoming and I get settled on his couch and go to sleep.

The next morning I wake up and decide to putter around San Fran. I examine the bites on my leg and briefly hope I haven't brought fleas into my new friend's house. I'm about to spend the next week+ with twenty people that I don't actually know, and I would hate to start out as being the person who brought fleas.

San Fransisco is pretty cool. There are neat buildings coupled with filthy sections that smell like urine. I walk around, I catch up with an old friend in the area. I post some pictures on Facebook and then am reminded of another great friend in the area when she replies to one of my pictures with a "Are you in SF?!??"

I am a bad friend who can't remember where people live. We make plans to hang out after Burning Man. Eventually I start meeting the people I'm about to spend my transformative radical days with with we start packing up the supplies in our RV caravan.

They are welcoming and funny and cool. I may be slightly intimidated and its too late for anything to stop me. I am going to Burning Man.

Days and Nights at the Burn: Day 0.1

Note* This post is part of a series detailing my recent participation in Burning Man 2016. I'd like to warn the reader that I'm writing these for personal use and the details noted are likely biased, inaccurate, and increasingly full of profanity as the days go by. Names may have been changed.

I feel like numbering the days is somewhat inaccurate, mainly because once I got out to the Playa, i had a hard time remembering what happened from day to day. I've read posts from people saying "I don't remember anything that happened" and now I understand. You don't need to be on substances or intoxicated, its just that being out there is intense. Its a lot.

But it starts with a long car ride. After packing up all the supplies into 2 RVs and an old laundry truck, we all start hauling to Reno, our rest stop before driving into Black Rock City. A quick note to the uninformed, Black Rock City (BRC) is the temporary city that is set up in the Nevada desert for the event and I invite you to locate the wikipedia article on it.

I spend a lot of the ride to Reno sleeping. Jet lag is and continued to be an interesting factor on my trip. I kept waking up at 4am, every day until the day I left SF. The ride to Reno is uneventful and we pick up some rental bicycles for the event. I loved my bicycle; I named it Bella JellyBean. It was pink with a yellow basket and I rode it everywhere.

Once we get to Reno, we stop at a storage locker to pick up some couches for our camp 'Bloody Maryland'. What an amazing camp! Only two people were actually from Maryland this year but we did give away a lot of bloody marys, so I think that makes it all ok. I meet the person who I'm riding with from Reno to BRC. We all grab some dinner and settle down for the night to get some rest.

A small note on Reno - wow. Reno is like the nasty old part of Vegas or any other pseudo Vegas like Atlantic City. That's all i got to say.

Days and Nights at the Burn: Day 1

Note* This post is part of a series detailing my recent participation in Burning Man 2016. I'd like to warn the reader that I'm writing these for personal use and the details noted are likely biased, inaccurate, and increasingly full of profanity as the days go by. Names may have been changed.

With all the people at the camp, we had split up into two waves. Wave 0 had all the RVs and a large art piece that needed to be installed. They had skipped sleeping in Reno and were getting out there to set up the camp shade structure and basics. I am a big believer in sleep so I was in Wave 1, which partially left Reno at 7am - some of the others left at 9am.

The drive to BRC is beautiful and it gave me a chance to talk to the person i was in the car with. If you ever read this, thank you again for a great introduction to burning man and for the discussion. We made excellent time from Reno all the way to Gate Road, which is the single entry and exit from BRC. and this is where things started...

I don't know what was going on with traffic management, but there were about eight lanes on Gate Road. If you took the lanes on the left side, you were able to get in at least two hours before the lanes on the right. Gate Road has got to be about 2 miles, and it took us about 6 hours to get through it - we were on the right.

But this was my first time, so I actually thought the whole thing was pretty neat. We were parked on the road. People kept wandering around, taking their clothes off due to the heat. And it was a good chance to talk to your neighboring drivers. Our car was pulled up next to another car in Wave 1, so four of us hung out in the shade of an RV, occasionally spraying ourselves with sunblock, snacking, and chatting. We started talking to a guy named Brody, who came over when i remarked how nice his Dodge Challenger was.

Brody was on his second burn, and he was coming into this one alone because he was just coming off his divorce. "oh", i say, startled. "me too". He starts talking about how this is his second divorce, and I pull back for a moment. Is this me? Coming to Burning Man on a reactionary escapist whim? I didn't think so at the time but maybe? I shelve it for later.

Eventually we make it to the camp. Wave 0 has set up like a champ. We have a huge shade structure, an air conditioned hexa-yurt (the Hug Dungeon), and the RV's are arranged to frame our site. I set up my tent and change into my Playa clothes, which consist of a pair of harem pants from india, a beach cover up top, and my boots.

I don't recall what the rest of the camp did that night - they might have been tired from lack of sleep. I do remember that I grabbed my bike and rode out into open playa, the section in the middle of BRC. It was freeing to ride out after being in the car and I felt like i could go anywhere. I had wrapped my bike and backpack in lights so I was visible, and as I left the city, i made sure to spot some landmarks so i could find my way back.

That night, the street to my camp was flanked by a lighthouse pyramid and tall mustached eyeball. I don't remember what else i saw but it felt great to ride out at night into the desert.

Days and Nights at the Burn: Day 2

Note* This post is part of a series detailing my recent participation in Burning Man 2016. I'd like to warn the reader that I'm writing these for personal use and the details noted are likely biased, inaccurate, and increasingly full of profanity as the days go by. Names may have been changed.

The next day, i woke up at 4am. because jet lag. because east coast time. because i'd spent the last few years with a kid who was *always* awake by 7am. But i figured, the air was still cool in my tent, and I should make the most of it. So I rolled over and slept a few more hours. Then at about 7-ish, i woke up again and began what would become my daily routine.

first a wet wipe for my face, just to feel like I had cleaned up a little. Then sunblock on every inch of my body. Then sports bra and underwear, and my outfit of the day - which remained harem pants and a white cover up. I climbed out of the tent and had a cliff bar for breakfast.

That morning, only one other person was awake and we decided to go exploring for our first real venture into the daytime playa. It was cool, there was a lot of art and a lot of unfinished art. I was surprised by a memorial to cats out in the deep playa. We also found a giant box of saltines but no soup. At one point we participated in a psychological study being run by Oxford "Trust us, we're british!" They wanted to know if we'd had any transformational experiences. No - we hadn't. It was only Monday and I had zero intention of having any kind of anything.

There is an annoying thing about being a "birgin"; everyone keeps asking you what your expectations are. And its a trick. This may be my first time and I can still tell its a ridiculous question, asked only to entertain the questioner. My biggest fear at burning man was that I would be injured. My main goal was to just be there.

We came back to the camp and had breakfast. I met more of my camp mates, and we spent a little time looking at the guide to decide what to do that day. (yes - there is an event guide, more about this mystical publication later).

I can't remember what else i did that day. I think i peddled around some more and looked at things, at the people. And there was a lot to look at. The desert is beautiful, the art is surprising, and the people are wearing (or not wearing) all kinds of things. I reapplied my sunblock at least two more times, I drank some electrolytes.

A note about my camp mates* I haven't really mentioned them. I went to burning man with wonderful people. There was no drama. People cared about each other, and were funny and helpful. And we were each having our own experiences, be they spiritual, sexual, pharmaceutical, or whatever. I'd feel like an idiot trying to describe them, and nothing I can write would do justice so I'm not going to try.

That night I went out into deep playa again with one of the neighbors. It was a largely silent journey, except when we found an art car playing music out by the farthest most fencing. We danced until it was time to move on, at which point I was tired enough for bed and my neighbor headed for the parties.

Going to bed each night was also a routine. Each night I'd carefully place my shoes on my door mat, a yellow lion bathroom rug, and then remove my clothing into one of two piles: dusty or dirty. Then I would wipe down with a wet wipe. If I was feeling extra dirty, i would follow up with a sponge bath. Then it was pajamas, ear plugs, and eye mask, and I would be out like a light.

Days and Nights at the Burn: Day 3

Note* This post is part of a series detailing my recent participation in Burning Man 2016. I'd like to warn the reader that I'm writing these for personal use and the details noted are likely biased, inaccurate, and increasingly full of profanity as the days go by. Names may have been changed.

Tuesday. Tu-tu tuesday. I woke up at 4am and removed an ear plug. Bass music was thumping from an art car driving around. it sounded great. I put the ear plug back in and slept a little more. By 7am it was heading for heat again. There was a small patch of sunlight that would hit my tent and by 8am i needed to be out of there. I dressed, rinsed my nose with saline, and got out. I had some breakfast.

The last night, i had noticed that my bicycle was getting hard to peddle and was making odd noises. Its not a very complicated bike. No gearing system and you peddle backwards to brake. Still, I resolved to take it to one of the bike repair camps before it broke. So I looked up a bike repair location and started walking my bicycle towards it.

As I was walking, I came up along side a couple. The man looked at me and said "would you like some coffee?". Why not I figured, so I said "yes". "Well, you can help me make it then!"

The woman rolled her eyes, I figured this sort of thing must happen a lot. So I found myself at Hamster Camp 'Millions of fuckin' hamsters' for the morning. And it was an interesting morning. Jay-man made some coffee while one of his camp mates strolled around in the buff. I sat down with him and his wife; we discussed gender roles and Hurricane Katrina. It turned out to be a really pleasant chat - the coffee was great! Eventually, I decided to move along and made my good-byes. Another one of their camp mates gave me directions to another bike repair in case I needed it. and I set off again.

I'm really not doing these walks justice. Anytime you walk around there are a million amazing things to see. There was the "What would you do for a pickle camp", there was the DiscoFish art car down the street, VampCamp, all these things and a thousand more that I am sure I missed. Eventually, I made it to the bicycle repair. but no one was there. This wasn't unexpected. Things never really happened like you thought they would out there.

So after a few minutes, i walked back to the camp for another round of sunblock and electrolytes. I decided to park my bike for the day and worry about it later. Maybe it would magically ungunk itself? Besides, it was a bar day!

On Tuesday we had a bloody mary bar where we gave away free bloody marys. So I learned how to do that. Wow - what an experience. I met so many people, and on this day i remember the guys across the street from us, the 'pounders'. They were metal workers who were running a workshop right at the base of the Man where you could make bike tags or dog tags or just stamp things into a bit of metal. They were telling us that the Burning Man organizers had kicked them out of the workshop due to issues with the Man. Evidently the design for this year wasn't coming along and they needed to do some work. Which made sense, when i last peddled past the Man, he was upside down.

After awhile, I got tired of the bar and talking to people. I took a nap in the hug dungeon. What sweet bliss, to sack out in an air-conditioned yurt with your fellow camp mates.

After a couple of hours, i figured i should head out again. I felt like I wasn't taking advantage of what was on offer at Burning Man, so i decided to head to a shibari workshop. I started peddling out, and it was hot. my bike was still giving me problems and the dust was kicking up. So i put on my goggle and dust mask, and kept looking for the workshop. I got there 5 minutes late, i couldn't find it at all. I was starting to feel pretty terrible. I started walking my bike. I needed a place to rest.

I came up along side Camp Steep and a man standing outside looks at me. He gives me a hug, and asks me where I am headed. I tell him "here. I think I'm headed here". He introduces himself and tells me to go inside, they are serving tea. It sounds like exactly what i need.

While i'm in line i start speaking with the two men in line behind me. One of them has been having issues with the playa dust and is hoping for something acidic to combat it. I try some iced tea. The other man wanders off to go color at a table, and i sit down with the other and we have a great chat. Before we part, he says "wait a minute" and starts digging through his bag. He gives me a necklace with an image of the man on it. Its my first gift. I'm unexpectedly touched by the gesture. I head back to camp.

On my way back to camp, I run into two of my camp mates who are returning from the Com'meow'nist Revolution camp. They are having a good time, and as we talk we notice that Camp Nacho-Daddy is serving nachos.

Let no one tell you that I do not love processed cheese food. We headed in and got our nachos. I opted to get the free tattoo as well and headed for the line where a man was applying the tattoos with a wet rag. As i wait my turn the gentleman wearing only a tu-tu beside me announces "I want the tattoo on my foreskin" and he starts stimulating himself.

Now, i am not a man. I am not exactly sure how things are going to go with this plan, so I tell him "Hey, I'm going next. So don't get too excited." To which he responds, "that's the idea!" ok - so long as I'm going next, which i do. I get my tattoo and spend the next minute talking to the man holding it to my ribs, a first time burner from Berlin. Then i head back to camp and take a break.

That night, we go out dancing. The music is amazing.

About September 2016

This page contains all entries posted to daisyblahg in September 2016. They are listed from oldest to newest.

July 2016 is the previous archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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