September 3rd, 2004

Chalkboard

Days Worth of Words From Black Rock All At Once XOXOXO

Posted From The Playa in Bits When I Can Get On Which Is Not Too Damned Often

8/30/04
Monday Night

Oh Hello My Darling Beloved Journal Friends,

I am so very happy to be sitting down and writing to you -- ahhhh, sweet relief -- having had a night of rest, and done some RV organizing, with my body freshly cleaned and creamed, and a bowl of granola with raisins and soy milk. I had to wrestle an errant bunch of stinky green onions into a Ziploc bag when they jumped out at me from our overloaded mini-fridge, and clean up and organize bags and bags of trash and stuff. Then naked as I am, I had to dance around the open windows so as not to offend the people who were getting out of the car next to us. That's something we won't have to worry about at Burning Man -- just one of the many somethings that make life wonderful there in our giant group experiment in alternative communal living.

We are at a rest stop somewhere in the High Sierras. It is without question one of the most beautiful places in all of California. Obviously we haven't reached Burning Man yet, but that's okay. We gave up our, By midnight Sunday -- the very second it opens, gotta get to Burning Man by then, no matter what, goal, when we woke up yesterday in a parking lot in Salinas with a dead battery. Although I really did give it my all, and even at three AM this morning I was still hoping there was a small chance I would be able to hold out until we reached the Greeter's Station, where we would bestow our greeters with all manner of sparkling, colored-light-flashing, gift swag, throw our arms around them, get out and kiss the Playa floor.

Yesterday I bought some cool spinning copper wind creations from an elderly man parked by the side of the road. I like supporting artists and he looked so hot and tired sitting there all alone in his station wagon in the sun. I do like these spinning pieces of art and I'll probably give them away before we head home, maybe we'll keep one or two.

The radio was boring as all hell yesterday and only picked up as we got closer to Sacramento. All I could find on the AM dial was a Christian radio station, and nothing against Christians, I am one after all, (in my own Wacqui, Buddhist, Jewish, and Jain loving way), but it was so over the top it was funny so I kept it on.

"Remember that prayer draws families together." Well, that one feels kind of true and it can really be any form of prayer, whether that's meditation or the act of creating something like a family meal or a craft project. Right now I'm praying with you. But then it got kind of overblown and corny, "Mom, can we pray about this trip?" "Sure Timmy, God is always listening and you can pray any time." "Do you think if I pray hard enough God will hear me and send our Daddy back home to us?" Argh, too manipulative and obviously meant to tug at our heart strings, and frankly how many people do you know who talk like this? Beau is too busy shredding on his guitar to ask me if he can pray for our trip. I don't know if that's a good thing or a bad thing. It must be good because he's making music. Then the station devolved into this awful rant against gay marriage, 'We're sliding down a slippery slope to hell," and I got so angry I just had to snap it off.

Of course I had to stop at an antique mall along the way. There were just way too many of them calling out to me. The one I visited was big and not too full but there were a few things that I liked and bought. Mostly I was looking for cups to make Baileys and Coffee for friends in, and a bigger glass to make my iced tea. That and bowls and I found some nice Bauer ones that made me feel pretty good because ours are forever breaking from one thing or another.

The best thing about the antique store however were the people and this beautiful red haired baby girl who was so adorable, so cute, that I just wanted to grab her and cuddle her for hours, but she didn't know me and her Mom was watching over her protectively the way all new Mother's do, so no baby holding for me : (

After having driven for hours, late into the night Friday, (I never know if I should say late into the night or early into the morning), without finding anywhere to camp, I finally pulled off in Salinas, found an enormous deserted mall and parked in the lot. Beau was a little worried because it was dark, vast, and empty, but my instinct is usually pretty good about these kinds of things and I felt safe.

In the morning when I woke up and tried to start the RV I recognized that semi-familiar sinking feeling you get when you realize you've stupidly left the car lights on all night and you just know you're going to need to find some kind soul with cables who will take the time out of their busy day to give you a jump start. I could just imagine how much worse this was going to be in a strange city with a giant 30 foot RV. Like anyone is going to want to hook their little car battery up to this rented behemoth, let alone help a gal with blonde dread extensions, pink and green fabric and thread, and big flowers and bugs in her hair.

Well, I was wrong, and fortunately for me, without realizing it, I had parked in one of the most perfect spots in the entire US to break down next to; a Sears Auto Center, with a garage full of hunky guys who were dying to help a wacky lookin' chick like me. Oh the power of weight loss and a suntan. Scott was saying the other night how he'd love to know what it feels like to be able to flash his tits at people and get things for free, and I swear I am so out of any kind of manipulative, sexual, female loop, so far from it, that I honestly did not know what he was talking about. Now that I am losing weight and feeling more attractive, and without having to flash my boobs, because frankly who would want to look at the poor sagging things, I am beginning to understand the power of female attraction, a little friendliness, a smile or ten, my surprising Spanish speaking powers of persuasion, and they were putty in my hands ; ) No really, they were very kind, all six of them, and after an hour or so, and with the help of way more men than a jump start warranted, we were on our way...to more stores, bleh.

Salinas is a pretty cool place. We still hadn't seen any fellow Burners yet, but no one seemed to mind my hair as they had in some of the other cities we had passed through. Even in LA people were kind of rude and mean about it. But in Salinas not only did people not tug their gaping, finger-pointing children, firmly by their arms away from me, they actually walked right up to me full of compliments, wanting to know, "How I had made this fabulous hat, or was it my real hair?" It was actually pretty shocking at first because for those of you who know me, despite all the weird things I do, and my super candid writing here in my journal, I'm actually pretty shy underneath it all.

When the first teenager came right up to me and stood just inches from my face telling me how pretty my hair was, it kind of shocked me awake and took me a minute or too to understand what was happening. Maybe it's the small town affect or something but people who are strangers to each other just do not get as close to you as this in LA. I liked it, it was friendly and sweet and small towny, I miss this and want more of it.

Everywhere we went people exclaimed about my hair and I would then tell them how their town would shortly be invaded by fellow Burning Man travelers with hair and costumes much cooler than mine, and then the inevitable, "What's Burning Man?" thing would happen and I would endeavor to describe the semi-indescrible experience of our annual visit to the Playa. One woman in particular was very kind and sweet and we wound up trading phone numbers. She had her darling, openhearted, eleven year old daughter with her -- we chatted for a while about my hair and Burning Man, naturally, and then moved on to other interesting subjects, the cost of homes, arts and crafts projects -- she had a very, very cool fabric and paper doll book, and I had just come out of Michael's with a cart full of art supplies, (shrinky dinks, colored pencils, glue, glitter, sequins, rhinestones, Fimo clay, stamps, press on letters, various art projects and coloring books for the kids,) and my weight loss surgery. I tend to attract people who have been considering having, or who know someone who wants to have, the surgery. I enjoy talking about it and helping people, this happens pretty much everywhere I go. Then after trading e-mail addresses and phone numbers and hugging each other we went our separate ways only to have her daughter come back and give me a pink carnation lei they had made, a lei, can you imagine? I was so overjoyed, what kindness, what fun!

And then there was shopping to do -- a day full of it. I went to Target for RV supplies, basic things we needed but had forgotten to bring like a trash can, paper towels, extra toilet paper, more candy and gifts to give away. Oh BTW I am going to get to be the condom fairy after all this year. I think I told you that I wound up buying a bunch at Longs in LA and my dear friend Atra gave us a basket of fruit that I'll decorate and carry our condoms in so I can help stem the spread of AIDS, unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases, woohoo. I even made a tee-shirt to wear with my pouffy crinoline skirts that by happenstance spells out Burning Ma. I guess I must have forgotten to get that extra iron on N, or I lost it somewhere, so I just ironed on a little pink daisy after the A, and it's perfect for a Mom from Kidsville to walk around, handing out condoms in. The irony of a Mother from Kidsville handing out condoms every year is not lost on me. Sometimes the kids even hand them out. Get your lemonade and condoms here. We really do have a lemonade stand and people give little gifts to the kids in exchange for lemonade, or not. Isn't that the cutest?

It took us all day to get all of the shopping done. Who knew? I must have forgotten how expensive, how tiring, and how long it would take, to buy enough groceries and supplies for a week in the desert. This year we're doing pot lucks with a lot of the other families in our camp so I needed to have enough of one dish to contribute each night. I'm not much of a cook, as anyone who knows me will tell you, my beautiful gourmet kitchen has always been too full of pets friends for that, but I managed to figure it out. I've got a big green salad for one meal, and 7 layer dip, (you know, the one with the beans, cheese, salsa, sour cream and guacamole, that you eat with tortilla chips), a couple of pasta dishes, S'mores, minus the marshmallows, (we're still looking for them, they seem to be sold out everywhere we go, all but the minis), rice krispy treats, vegetarian taco fixings, veggie dogs, and enough pies from Marie Calendar's to feed an army. That ought to do, and that's not counting all of the beer, wine coolers, Red Bulls, wood for our burn barrel, and the toys and the toys and the toys I've brought to give to the kids, and any passing strangers or anyone I want to trade them to in exchange for something cool, like art, or Burning Man postcards from the Black Rock City post office.

All along the way here I've been straining to look in my RV's, hard-to-see-anything-out-of, rear view mirrors, craning my neck around on the highway, hoping to catch a glimpse of our fellow, weary, overloaded travelers. We didn't see anyone until after we passed Sacramento and took the I-80 turn off towards Reno, and then it happened...the familiar signs that make you honk, wave and gesticulate wildly; cars, Volkswagen mini-vans, RV's and rental trucks, weighted down with so much crap there's barely any room to see out of the windows, bikes hanging from the back bumpers and strange things like an enormous glittered satellite dish strapped to the roof of one car. I'm sure we'll see plenty more as we continue on our way today.

I know I had a lot more to say but I'm afraid I've yaked yer' ears off as usual and I've got a costume to put on, a motor home to button up, and miles to go before I...and miles to go before I...party in the desert with thirty-five thousand other, like-minded souls!!!!

Later the same day...

Oh God are the Sierra's beautiful -- the colors of the trees against the red soil, the blue sky filled with clouds, the clean crisp air that you can just open up and breathe in farther than anything you can take in at home. Every once in a while we'll pass a meadow or see a mountain covered with green grass and wildflowers that looks like something out of the opening scenes of The Sound of Music or Heidi -- so beautiful.

Beau always asks me about The Donner Party when we go through the pass and all I could remember about them was that they were pioneers who got caught in the snow and were forced to resort to cannibalism. I always associate The Donner Party with that Robin Williams joke about a cannibal restaurant where the hostess calls out your name, "Donner party of five." Well, this year I decided we'd better learn more about what actually happened there so we went to the little history museum they have in the campground by Donner Lake and it was interesting and not just a little depressing.

Later we stopped at this countrified gas station/restaurant that's housed in a big old red barn and we remembered having been there before. I was looking for marshmallows that seemed to have been sold out to campers in every store we searched. We'll never use them because even though we've got scads of them now and boxes of Graham Crackers and chocolate, I forgot to bring anything to toast them on. Maybe I'll get lucky and come up with something. Anyway as I walked up to the gas station this man looked at me and said enthusiastically, "I am LOVING you!" So naturally I replied, "I'm loving you too!" But her turned out not to be a fellow Burner which was surprising to me given how friendly and positive he was.

The attendant was a man named Froggy who in his spare time is a lead singer and guitarist in a band, but shit, who isn't these days? It's a little like meeting actors or screenwriters in LA, I keep running into singer songwriters. Maybe my world seems more peopled by them because I'm more attuned to them because of Scott. Anyway when I asked Froggy if he had any marshmallows I was fully expecting him to say the usual, "Nope, sorry," but when instead he said, "Yeah, I've got piles of them," it was my turn to whoop and shout, "I LOVE you!" When I asked him how he got his name he said, "I guess it's because I'm always searching for my princess," in a way that made me wonder if this was a line he always used or if he was seriously considering me as a potential candidate for the job.

As we left the station there was a group of fellow Burning Man girls gathered around a car. They were young and pretty. They waved and smiled sweetly and said, "See you out there!"
Chalkboard

Burning Man 2004, Monday Night From Kidsville

8-31-04 Monday Night

I'm sitting here writing to you while sipping hot tea, eating a little French cookie I brought from home, and listening to Burning Man radio. I'm feel pretty damned lucky right about now and all thanks to my sainted mother without whom I would never have been able to afford to do this.

We're finally here at home on our beloved playa having spent one night and a full day here. I can't explain the pull of this place although I'll always try. Maybe there is an alchemy at work here that makes it magic -- the mix of people, art, and location -- something in the desolation of this place that allows for all of this beauty and love.

I miss my partner and best friend Scott desperately. It hurts to be here without him, to see all of the couples snuggled up and holding hands, to stumble across people locked in passionate embraces on the playa and be here alone, to be the condom fairy who helps spread the word of safe love while I remain alone at home in my RV at night. I wouldn't make love with him before we left, I didn't do this consciously, I just found reasons to avoid it, and then while I was driving, because I have hours and hours to think when I drive, it occurred to me that I was probably avoiding the intensity of feeling and need that comes up for me when we're intimate. I must have known I'd be away for awhile and didn't want to be pining all the more for him.

The preparation, the journey, and the living here is hard -- it's challenging, and you really need to be in good health to do it. During some of our final shopping in Reno before we headed out, (I did so much shopping I told Beau, "That's it honey, I'm so done, if I even try to go to another store I want you to shoot me"), we spoke with a woman who had run into a couple at her hotel who were getting ready to come to Burning Man. When she saw them a day later she was surprised and asked them why they hadn't left yet. The man told her that they had left and were forced to come back after just one day because his wife had come down with flu symptoms almost right away and was diagnosed with dehydration sickness and heat exhaustion. They were going to rehydrate her with Gatorade because it has electrolytes and then try it again. That's dedication.

When we pulled up we were listening to the information radio station and one of the sentences that stood out for me was, "Welcome home, now get to work!" It's so true. You work so hard to get here and then as soon as you arrive you work your ass off setting up your home away from your other home here in this harsh environment. But the first days are always overwhelming and slow moving despite your best efforts because you are suddenly faced with things you don't normally have to deal with like the altitude, heat, wind, dust, and the lack of moisture in the air.

Beau just came back from jumping on the trampoline. He's a little sad because he broke his favorite goggles. He says, "I had fun but the little kids kept punching me because they think they can hit me hard cause I'm a bigger kid. I got to do one flip though, but my knees hurt now like they used to when we had our trampoline."

We got in late last night, one whole day later than we had originally hoped to arrive. Knock on wood, we made it through another journey without crashing into any oncoming vehicles or hitting any cows or rabbits. They tell you not to swerve for the kamikaze bunnies but you know me, I would swerve for a mouse -- I just wouldn't be able to stop myself -- so I take it real slow once we get out on the open range and just pull over and let the pissed off speeding people pass us. Too many people have died on the way to and from this event for me to risk my son's or my life to shave off a few extra minutes.

I was so tired and worn out though that I didn't even care about anything but getting here so I could pee and sleep, but then when we finally got to Empire, the people at the gas station were so sweet and funny that I started getting excited. Then I saw the lights of the city in the distance and when we were finally able to pick up some Burning Man radio stations I got that familiar tingly feeling that makes my heart beat just that much faster and I wound up feeling so happy and excited that my muscles ached from smiling.

The first thing you do when you come in is pull off the narrow two lane highway onto the dusty playa where you crawl slowly along behind a line of cars traveling at about 5 mph. If you go any faster you kick up clouds of dust that blow into Burning Man, covering everything with dust and choking people who are just trying to breathe. It's bad enough as it is, the dust covers everything -- you clean and wash yourself and clean some more and then eventually give up and wind up living like some desert creature caked in the stuff. So the community of people who work their asses off to organize this gargantuan event encourage us to drive slowly and throw up a line of funny signs to ensure we drive slowly to spare our city from the clouds of drifting dust.

There are the usual piss clears, don't let it hit the ground, slow down, and signs that relate to the particular theme of the year, but one of my all time favorites is, "Welcome to the vacant heart of the wild west," because it rings so true for me. I think the reason so many people come out here is because it is just that, vacant and wild. It's definitely a place to let go and begin again in. You do feel like pioneers when you are here, and maybe that is because of the thousands and thousands of people who crossed this desert looking for a better life in wagons long ago.

It is rough camping here, very survivalist, dirty and dangerous, but also thrilling and life affirming. I don't know how to express this exactly but I feel as if there is something important going on that has to do with death and rebirth, maybe that's what The Man and the fire is all about. We build up this city and then we tear it down and recreate it all again the next year, but each year it is different. It has to be. Then Beau and I go through this mourning process where we search for familiar things only to discover they no longer exist or they've come back in a different form -- they've metamorphosed into something else, and we learn to embrace the many new things we discover out here.

I often feel as if a part of me dies and is reborn here. I spend the first day panicking like someone who has been bit by a vampire and has to die in order to become something else. I struggle to keep everything contained, ordered, perfect. I fight to keep my plans on track, "I've just got to make that," whatever it was I had planned to make, and inevitably these plans are laid aside and everything goes to shit in your camp. But then when you surrender something completely other, something beautiful, comes out of it and you begin to live again out here in a way that is wholly other from the way you live your life back home.

Beau and I rode our bikes way out into the desert tonight. We rode way past the man and out to the temple or mausoleum which is further out there than its ever been. I got a little thirsty and tired on the way back but I was amazed at how much more I am able to do out here than I could before, how much further I can travel. It's thrilling to be here and be able to do things I had to struggle to accomplish before.

The temple is beautiful as always and has two long arms that require you to go way away from the center of it to walk a long bridge like path to enter it. It makes it seem like a pilgrimage of sorts and gives it the spiritual and emotional weight that it deserves. I've never stayed to see the temple burn because it hurts too much to stand among all of the many crying people, listening to their heartfelt sobs and good-byes to people they have loved and lost, although maybe I will brave it this year. I will definitely go out there again and pay my respects.

As we were about to head back towards this shimmering white bubbly looking installation we looked over and saw this amazing art vehicle thing that was coming towards us. It's hard to understand what things are in the dark out here sometimes. You just see a blur of pretty lights and sounds and have to wait to see what kind of surprise is in store. This turned out to be a horse creature of some kind and it seemed to be suffering, it was crying or neighing and making this plaintive sound. I wish I could imitate it for you because as my friend Kama said, "I thought it was broken because the sound it was making made it seem like it was really Fucked up!"

When it came closer we could see that it was some kind of big moving unicorn with zebra stripes and two cowboys with furry chaps riding it. It was shooting fire out of it's horn and had bright glowing lights all over it. It's mouth was mechanized and was moving up and down while it cried. I gave the guys who were riding it lollipops and asked them why it was crying and they said, "That's his mating call. He's lonely and looking for a mate. We're going to try to help him find one but he's pretty unique, he's a Zebracorn and may be the only one of his kind in the world."

Then they asked me if I wanted something to drink, "Would you like to suck some chilled margarita or water from our Zebracorn's ass?" I was a little too shy and germaphobic to put my mouth on these tubes coming out of this two story Zebracorn, that who knows how many people had already sucked off of, so I just watched other people do it. The guy driving would just push a button that connected to some pump he had rigged up and margaritas would shoot out of it's ass into people's waiting mouths. Whenever anyone would do this the guy on the back would shout out, "We have another ass sucker here!" When I said, "Oh my God I can't believe you did this," the guy driving said, "What else would you expect to come out of a Zebracorn's ass but an ice cold beverage?" Then when I said I was sorry I hadn't brought my camera one of the guys said, "Take a mental picture," and they both stopped and froze for a second posing for it and said, "there, ya got it? Okay," and then they slapped it's ass and yeehawed off into the darkness.

Beau wanted to see this white mass of blobbish shapes in the distance so we sludged our way through soft sand and headed back towards it. It turned out to be some kind of enormous floating white art installation that was made of these blown up plastic bubbles. You had to bend down or crawl through one of four twisting entrances to get inside. It was very cool but hadn't been completed yet so we'll have to go back and check that out again another time. There is so much more art out there and I am at a loss to describe it to you, but I'll keep trying. I really don't know if I'll be able to get these posts out to you since the connection is so spotty. It blinks in and out every few seconds.

I used to think that nothing could exist out here on the playa, at least nothing living except for all of us and the things we bring in with us, but tonight for the first time in seven years I saw my first playa bugs. They're cute too, small little flying green winged bugs. They were gathered around the lantern we use to light up our camp to help us find our way home. Someone else said they saw lizards, a little boy saw a bat, and Beau saw a blackbird. This is kind of shaking up my playa view and bears pondering.

Someone is shooting off fireworks near our RV. I can hear the explosions and the sound of showering sparks. There is a constant throbbing beat from all of the many sound installations, bands and parties that last into the early morning hours, and then there's the constant hum of the enormous generators parked just across the street from us. Beau just came in, set his stuff down, looked at all of the people walking and riding by and said, "I can't believe anyone would still want to be out right now. It's so dusty, there's a major dust storm, you can hardly breathe. My hair is so crunchy."

Goodnight : )
Chalkboard

9-2-04 From The Playa

Today started slowly and ended really well. We had gone to bed so late last night, (around five AM), that it seemed pretty inevitable that we would get up late today. I'm sitting here in our RV like I was last night, naked and listening to a Black Rock radio station. I brought a dozen cassettes to record some of this to have to play back at home but for some mean reason my CD/cassette player won't record the radio and Beau's doesn't have a tape player.

In a few minutes I'm going to get dressed again and head on over to center camp just to hang with the people and see what's going on. I'll get a cup of hot chocolate and give out candy or something. I love it there, there are always so many people who come up to you and talk to you. It doesn't happen as much in the day when people are busy running around trying to take it all in. At night after they've had their fill of visual delights they kind of settle down and are more willing to connect and I love that. I want to meet more and more of these people, but as we grow bigger it's getting harder.

I am so dusty it's amazing. We had a really bad dust storm today that lasted for hours. At one point I couldn't see anything out of the windows of our RV, just blowing swirls of white dust and the occasional glimpse of some poor suffering person riding by on a bike.

The sun beats down on us in the morning and it's hard to sleep so I got up and organized things while Beau slept in. I'm finally acclimating to the climate out here and have regained my energy. We went for the longest bike ride last night, all the way out way past the man and on to the temple that is so moving and beautiful. Everyone goes there to say their good-byes to loved ones who have passed, and anything they want to let go of. I said good-bye to everyone I could think of who I have loved and lost, the last time we were here. The grief there is so thick it's palpable. I can't go in there without hiccuping into sobs. It's a lot like the way I felt when we went to the shrine of Guadeloupe in Mexico or anywhere holy where a lot of people gather together and pour out their hearts in prayer of some kind.

I'm going to say good-bye to Sonia this year. I have to ask Ana if there is anything specific she would like me to write out there for her. It's this stunning, enormous temple made out of these balsa wood templates that people write on and leave little memorials around. If any of you want me to say anything for you, just let me know and if I can get access to my journal -- it's so spotty, I don't even know when or if I'll be able to post this -- I'll copy down your words, write them out there, and take a picture for you. I'd be happy to do this, especially if it's for Sonia, but anything else you need to let go of will be fine too.

I spent a lot of time today getting my pictures off my camera and onto the computer so I can eventually post them on my journal and share them with you. I always have trouble with this. I thought I had it figured out at one point and was able to just plug in this little memory stick reader and it did all the work for me. But now I'm back to having to open each photo and save them one at a time. Now I just have to edit them and upload them, while trying to gobble up all that life has to offer out here, that's all.

I got worked up this morning over an article in Piss Clear, our alternative newspaper, (the more widely read and organizationally supported paper is called The Black Rock Gazette). The somewhat bitter but witty editor was going off about how she wants people to stop saying, "Welcome home," to everyone because, "This is not our home and we don't even have indoor plumbing, and it's really just an exotic vacation, or a great place to parteh, rock on, woooh." She wrote that she thinks it's cultish and that she will go "ballistic" if one more person says it to her.

Well, since I happen to love it when people say, "Welcome home," to us out here, I went off on this ranting four page letter to the editor. I worked on it for what felt like hours today and then tried to save it to a disc to take over to submit to the papers. I don't know if the file transferred or not. I also wanted to print out copies to pass out to friends in Kidsville but no matter how hard I work to ensure I've brought everything I will need, and try to put everything in its place, I'm forever missing that one thing I need at the very moment when I need it. In this case it was the printer cables that I bought specifically so I could print things out. We're really going to need to find them if I'm going to do any of the three little laminated photographic projects I've been looking forward to creating to share with people.

Beau and I stopped by the post office again this evening and took some candy with us to share with them. We've been passing out those Chupa Chub lollipops, the ones that are sour apple dipped in caramel. People seem to either love them or hate them. Tonight I lucked out and wound up at the Postmaster Generals window. It's so cute and fun how they try to mimic a real post office where you stand in line for a while and then someone rings a bell and curtly shouts next at you. It's a real working post office. If you have the right postage they'll mail anything for you and put a great Black Rock City postmark on it. I'm hoping someone will gift me with at least one stamp this year so I can send a letter out just to see what the postmark looks like.

Luckily for us the "General" is one of the people who love Chupa Chubs and he gave us a big handful of cards. They're pretty sparing with the cards early in the week and then towards the end, when they realize how many they still have, they'll give out bunches of them to you if they like you and you've been friendly and kind to them. Tonight I got the official 2004 picture postcard of the man, an assortment of art cards, and a very wet open mouthed kiss from the postmaster general that left me feeling a little naughty/guilty and shy.

I've been more of a pie delivery girl this year than a condom fairy. So far I haven't even decorated the basket I'm going to put the rubbers in. I haven't wired the trolls onto my bike or set up the lights. Last night when we went out we stopped and watched these funny people who had built a kind of rickety old country porch and were sitting there with cowboy hats and guns hollering and hooting it up. They were so funny and one of them looked at us and said, "You've gotta get lit before your go out." I also haven't made the laminated ID tags for our camp and I haven't made my laminated playa business cards. But I have been giving out plenty of toys to the kids and I'm working on all of these other things. I just have to remember that time hangs differently out here and things take so much longer to do.

We are so lucky to have a couple of art cars in our village this year. Beau and I have never even ridden on one in years past. We've always been kind of handicapped by how far our bodies could take us by bike or scooter, held back by how much stamina we had. This is something entirely different. You can ride in comfort in the open air and see the entire city, or well, some of it at least, and it is big, I mean really, really, really big. Bigger than I ever remember it, bigger than I will be able to take in. I've given up on even trying to take it all in, there's just no way so why stress out about it?

Anyway my kind friend Dave -- E-Dave as he likes to be called, because we have so many Daves in our village here -- built this beautiful art truck and has been giving us rides. It's a truck with comfortable bench seats in the back and it's covered with refrigerator doors that have giant magnetic words stuck to them that he painted with fluorescent paints so people can come up and create phrases with them. He started working on it last January and it's really beautiful.

We drove around with him again tonight and stopped and looked at all kinds of trippy things. There was a giant hollow wheel thing that people were standing in and spinning across the playa. It was lit from within and glowed like a round rainbow. My dear friend Julia and her lovely girlfriend Jay who had just pulled in tonight with two of their kids, yeay, came out with us. We had so much fun chatting and laughing until poor Jay who had been up since five AM since she came from Indiana, crashed and needed to go home. Julia took a turn on the wheel thing and fell off, poor thing.

Lots of people we didn't know hopped on for a while and then would hop off. It was so much fun being on the other end of this for a change. I've never had the courage to ask for a ride on anyone else's car, bar, dragon, spinning swing, bug, temple or creature car before so it was fun to be connected to the person who owned the car. Dave would stop along the way to check things out and give people a chance to play with the words. Then he started giving out some of his pretty painted words. He said, "I'm giving away words but you can have a whole phrase," and I wound up taking three. I took Lubricated Slave Girl, Karma Party, and Veggies Laugh. Beau took Frozen Evil. What a perfect snapshot of what we're both like in magnetic dayglow words.

Just trying to describe this for you is exhausting. It's hard to put words to this experience. In a way it's just something that has to be experienced because no matter how much I remember to share with you, or whatever pictures I manage to take and upload, there is so much more that I am missing. It's just this radiant work of art that is going and going and going 24/7 out here. I mean how do I do justice to a big red floating head with waving hair arms? I don't even know how to describe that. Or the ping pong ball cube. It sounds so simple but it was so beautiful it felt infinite in the way the colors shifted and changed. I have trouble taking this all in sober, I can't imagine what it must be like for the people out there who are tripping on whatever it is they're tripping on.

At one point in our travels tonight we ran into a more mature moment than I had previously encountered with Beau. Dave had stopped in front of this enormous art car float thing that was all lit up, blaring music, shooting fire off it's bow, and there were two weird kabuki-faced, naked, dancing women gyrating on a kind of second story platform right there in front of us. Then this guy, who had just hopped on, rolled a joint and started smoking it, blowing the smoke right at us. On my own this is no big deal at all, but despite the fact that we've been coming for years we've never been confronted with so much at one time, naked dancing women practically on fire in front of us, and a guy smoking a joint behind us. I looked over at Beau to see how he was handling this and he couldn't have been more blase. He couldn't care less about the dancing gals and he was only mildly interested in a kind of detached clinical way about the weed when I explained what it was to him. "Oh, I thought it would smell different," he said.

We saw our friend, the Zebracorn, driving by tonight. We called out to him but he was zipping by on a mission to somewhere, maybe he had a hot tip on where he might find that mate he's been looking for. Maybe he was heading over to the Mail Order Bride camp. Oh God this music is so Fucking terrible I'm turning it off. When it's good it is so good and when it's bad...it's awful.

When we got to The Man, Dave let everyone off and told us to come back in a little while. I know how these things usually work out, people always get separated, lost, or left behind, I just didn't think it would be us, but I wasn't surprised when it was. We had a good walk home and I enjoyed it. I have so much more energy than I have ever had out here before and I can do so much more and go farther than I ever have. It's exciting to be able to cover so much more ground and not feel that debilitating exhaustion I have always felt before when I was burdened with so much extra weight. Tonight I was having so much fun looking down and seeing my pink bra, my exposed stomach, and my tan legs in these frilly shorts. It seemed like I was looking at someone else's body rather than my own. It still feels alien to me. Who is this? Whose healthy looking body is this that I've stepped into and am walking around in?

The man is smaller this year. He seems to be shrinking with each passing year but I've gotten over needing things to remain the same because I love them so much. I think I've finally made peace with the shifting ephemeral nature of this place. Not Beau though, he really seems to need things to remain exactly as they were the year before.

This year the man is decked out in blue neon and standing on top of a geodesic dome that represents a kind of theatrical planetarium. You can go inside and look through telescopes or interact with the art pieces inside. My favorite is a wish machine that spits out a piece of paper you write a wish on and then send it back out into the cosmos by fiddling with the dials and then pressing a button that creates a vacuum that sucks it back inside this box. You get to decide where to send your wish and what language to send it out in. I chose Grok, whatever that is, and sent it to Aries.

All around the base of the man there are these small room sized living dioramas -- alternative worlds where actors are performing short sketches to watch. Last night I saw the worst Alice In Wonderland piece, the actors were doing this lame, arch, badly British accented thing that made me want to shove them off stage and do it for them myself. I think this might just be my starved-actor-self experiencing a bit of art envy, either that or they really were that bad and should have been performing at Bad Idea Theatre camp instead of underneath The Man.

I didn't even bother watching any of it tonight. I just went inside where I ran into the coolest couple. They were wearing painted jumpsuits that glowed beautifully under the black lights and what do you think the man had chosen to cover his entire jumpsuit with? Nudibranchs. Yes, he had actually chosen one of my absolute most favorite creatures in all the world and painted dozens of them all over himself and there they were glowing at me in a rainbow of neon colors. Oh heaven. I practically shrieked when I saw him, "Oh my God! Nudibranchs!!!" He was so happy that I knew what they were that he said, "You're the only person who got it so far. That means you get the special prize," and with that he took off one of the coolest things that anyone has ever given to me here and put it around my neck.

He gave me a little miniature handmade copper man with a skeleton head that he had designed himself and formed and soldered together out of copper wire. I was so touched and grateful. He'd already given me plenty by creating and wearing this glorious, glowing suit of beautifully rendered nudibranchs -- totally overwhelming eye candy for someone like me, a gal who workships something as strange as sea slugs -- but to have him give me something so special, (He said he'd only made ten of them to pass out this year), really made my night. I can't wait to make something to give back to him. I hope I can find them again, I think they said they're staying in Hushville. He won't be hard to miss with that sluggy neon jumpsuit.

Ope here comes another message about the porta potties, "We just got a report that they've found a Guiness Tall Boy in one of the porta potties. People we can't be fucking up on the porta potty situation unless you want the guys who are cleaning them out to quit and then we'll all be holding it in all week. If you do not take this seriously you are not going to have a place to shit. I think we should just make a rule, if you're too stupid to understand that if it doesn't come out of your body it doesn't go in the potty, then you should just be told to hold it for the rest of the trip."

Okay that's about it for tonight.

Love you guys -- Your Pal on the Playa at 5:30 and Earth,
Jacqui
XOXOXO