September 9th, 2004


Burning Man 2004 -- My Playa Journal, The Night of the Burn

Here is my little playa ID card. It looks a little funky because I had to go back and Photoshop my home number off of it -- my chin looks a little cockeyed to me, but you can see what it looked like. I couldn't have made it without Phil's help. So many things went wrong. I wanted to make one for Kidsville and for my friend's Julia and Jay and some of our other camp mates. I thought it would be so nice for people to receive little laminated photo ID badges of themselves out there on the playa but this was all I could do and I pulled it off by a hair. At least I had something to give people so they could contact me and I collected addresses and phone numbers in my little book. Next year I'll do better -- I always say this.

9-4-04 Just Before The Burn

This has been such a perfect day, full of love and happiness and not as much dust. Beau is happy and busy playing with his friends and sometimes that's all it takes to make me happy. We're about an hour away from the burn. Every year at about this time people start talking about how the man is packed with magnesium or some sort of major pyrotechnic materials and that this year will be the biggest, widest burn ever. I actually get sad when the man burns and have been thinking about joining the contingent of people who march around with signs shouting, "Save the man, save the man, don't burn him!"

My back has been killing me all day today. Beloved Julia gave me a massage while wonderful Jay cleaned my camera. I love them both so much and I want all the best for them and their family, truly, I just adore the whole lot of them, even their pets if I knew them. I took the girls over to meet some other wonderful gals who are camped behind me because well, I thought I should get all the gorgeous lesbians together and spread the girly love, yep, I'm crazy like that. We had a nice relaxing time hanging out under their shade structure on the trampoline watching their glorious smiling baby pass the ball back and forth with another little baby doll.

I've been distributing my extra costumes. I gave Kama my pink Burning Ma tee-shit because she liked it so much and I took a terrific pink and black crinoline over to Julian's Miss Jackie who I have always loved and never been able to spend enough time with. I love both of them, love, love, love, I'm all about love. People think I'm just another raver high on E because I'm so in love with everyone but I swear I don't need any drugs to get high out here.

I have a really great hot pink velvet and crinoline ballet tutu that I took over to Jay for her to surprise Julia with because Jay was a ballerina and of course Miss Julia thinks that's hot. I hope it'll fit her. It's small for me but she might be swimming in it.

We just got back from pot luck. There is this one super nice guy, well, there are a lot of super nice guys here, who has been bringing out these burners and frying pans and cooking up food for the kids. I always have extra of whatever it is he runs out of so I'm forever running back and forth from the potluck to the RV to get things like extra salad, cheese, hot dogs, buns, and last night I don't remember what it was he needed...hmmm, playa fry, I can't remember.

I rode around on my bike wooing people and thanking everyone -- felt really good. I took some terrific pink and black frilly sissy panties over to The Boutique camp so they could put them in their free store for someone to come and dress up in. They went so fast they couldn't even hang them up.

I've gotta go darn it. I'll be back with stories of the burn. Should be beautiful as always.

After the Burn

The burn was fun and pretty but a little more controlled and subdued than I remember it from past years, not the dangerous, wild, rollicking, heat in your face kind of burns from past years -- less intense and more controlled and Disneyesque. Phil's Mom complained that she couldn't get people to crowd in and do the traditional walk around the man this year and was disappointed about that. I've never been brave enough to move in quite that close. I always break away from our group for a bit and venture in closer than anyone I know and then come back out to be with Beau, but I've never felt safe enough to get carried away with the crows, I'm too claustrophobic and it reminds me of my old concert days when I thought I was going to die pressed up against some kind of concert stage barricade.

We all went out together as a village and that was nice. I enjoyed being with our friends and handing out thousands of glowsticks. I met a lot of friend's of friends and ran into a few people I knew. It seemed as if every art car, or mutant vehicle was out there in this one spot so it was great to be able to see some of the many cars we had missed -- same thing with the costumes. People looked so cool.

The man went off without a hitch. It started with fireworks and burned fast and hot. I met some cool people and saw lots of art cards and decorated people and bikes but the burn I am looking forward to will be tomorrow night's temple burn. I'll come back and get some man dust tomorrow to take home with us. I forgot to throw things into the fire metaphorically but I'll do that at the temple and actually I've been doing this a little bit at a time all week. We took lots of pictures.

It's three thirty AM and I'm sitting here listening to Burning Man radio. I'm tired and worrying about all of the packing we have ahead of us. The dust storms have covered every surface of our camp and gear with a thick layer of powder. The air conditioner is choked with it. There is so much dust I really don't know how I am going to clean it off our stuff and pack it back into the RV. I just want to take it all and throw it away. I'm a little worried about the RV as well, it's so thrashed, but we'll work really hard to return it to the way it was before we return it. Esther and Ana are going to die when they see it.

I'm going to leave one of my old blue...I'm so tired I can't remember what the end of this sentence was.

I lost my cell phone, someone stole my bike, my computer has crashed and won't turn on, (we got it working later, obviously), and I'm still trying to get this damned printer to work so I can print out these little address and e-mail cards and get them laminated in time to pass them out to everyone, but I would still do this all again in a heartbeat.

I want to be out there instead of stuck in here. I want to be out there where all of the lights and sounds are, looking at things and loving up on people, but Beau and his friends who were all hanging out in the RV farted up the place so badly that they set off the gas detector and it kept sounding the alarm, so Beau is worried that there is some kind of serious gas leak and can't fall asleep unless I promise to stay here and make sure everything is okay. It's really fine, there isn't anything leaking, no gas except for the kind that came out of a bunch of teenaged boys butts. I won't leave him when he's scared though, no matter what the reason. It just really sucks to be trapped in here tonight of all nights.

I keep hearing announcements on the radio about people who have had their bikes, "borrowed." They say nice things like, "It's all good, I'm glad you were able to get some use out of my bike but when you're through with it, would you please return it to Uranus and four thirty," or something like that. It helps to know that I'm not alone in this, but I'm feeling a wee bit more cynical about the situation and pissed that we aren't more organized in dealing with the bike theft, or "borrowing" situation. I wish that at the very least, with all the money they take in from entrance fees, that they could have just one place where people could return found bikes. The rangers told me that they would just gather up all of the hundred of left over bikes and donate them to someone, great, thanks. Oh well, it's just a thing, something I can replace, I just hate to think of it abandoned out there somewhere, or being hauled away by someone who just felt like helping themselves to someone else's bike. It really didn't used to be like that here, no one ever had to lock anything, but change and growth is inevitable and with the change comes good and bad. I wonder when we'll reach critical mass... I wish I had the energy t keep writing, I feel like I'm leaving so much out, but I'm just too tired to go on.

Big loving but definitely burnt out and super cold playa hugs,

Burning Man 2004 -- Night of the Temple Burn

Hi Everyone,

Well, it's our last night here : ( We had the big temple burn tonight. It was somber and glorious at the same time -- a white hot inferno of a fire in the deep desert night. Some kind someone was playing bagpipes. First they played Amazing Grace and then everyone laughed when the bagpiper played Ozzie Osbourne's I Am Iron Man.

It always feels good and healing to let go of things here. I had left an inscription on a round wooden tablet for our friend Sonia and it felt like she was with us as the whole beautiful thing went up in flames. Last time I let my Dad go, and my fat...

We rode out on the second trip out to the temple with E-Dave on his art car. He's given away most of his blacklight refrigerator poetry magnet words. I gave rat to a man driving a rat car today. He seemed pretty happy about it.

Everyone stood in a great big circle around the blazing ruins of what was the most elaborate, deeply devotional piece of artwork I've ever seen out here.

On the way back from the big temple burn tonight, Beau was zooming along on his bike when all of a sudden from out of nowhere this guy popped up in front of him and Beau had to slam on his brakes in order to keep from crashing into him. He said he thought he was going to flip over from the force of having to stop so suddenly. The man grabbed Beau's bike and urgently said, "Can I ask you a question? If I called you a fucking chocolate would you take that as an insult or a compliment?" Beau said, "I guess I would take that as a funny insult," and he said, "Why would you take that as an insult?" Beau said, "Well, I think it's kind of random and random is funny but it also feels like it could be an insult." Then this strange guy said, "Will you do me a favor? Would you yell at any one person tonight and call them a fucking chocolate?" So Beau agreed and then he came home and kept yelling this at people in our camp.

I had ridden out to the temple on E-Dave's art car but when he was gathering everyone to leave I had t get off to allow the littlest ones to take the first ride back. After everyone got on I was the only one without a bike to ride back to camp. I just stood there watching everyone drive off. I knew that they would come back to round the rest of our group up and give us a ride home but it would take at least forty-five minutes to make the trip home and return and it was dark and I was cold and I wasn't certain E-Dave would be able to find me. I didn't want to stand there all alone for almost an hour so I started to trudge back towards camp with all the rest of the people.

At first I was feeling a bit sorry for myself because I'm not as strong as I'd like to be, but I'm getting there, and this is one long walk in the cold dark desert night, and I felt so alone. I couldn't even make out center camp any more and with the man gone and so many of the street signs pulled up by souvenir hunters it's super disorienting. I just kind of followed what seemed like the biggest stream of people, bikes, and art cars, and after a while I could just make out the lovely, colorful, high flying flags of center camp in the distance.

I had the kids walkie talkie and was enjoying listening to the communications flowing back and forth between people. Eventually my walking took on a kind of meditative rhythm and as much as my feet and blistered heels from my black kitty cat shoes hurt, I began to enjoy the walk. Only one person was rude and it surprised me, so out of place in this normally very loving patient place. Apparently he didn't like that I had stopped to take a picture of one of the many gas lamps that our kind lamplighters guild light up for us every night. He said something like, "Why the fuck don't you take the picture from the other side?" I hadn't thought of that -- I was so tired. Yelling at someone because they made you have to slow your bike down a smidge and veer a little bit around them is so otherworldly and unnecessarily mean seeming because this is just something we all deal with every day out here. I can't even count the number of times I've practically flipped over someone stopping to hug someone else or to take a shot of something, and people are forever stopping suddenly to pick up some candy wrapper or little piece of trash they inadvertently dropped. I know he was just some mean pissed off guy who was here to grok the chicks but combined with my already deep seated sense of abandonment that made the experience of walking back alone from the temple seem kind of pitiful and lonely, it stabbed at my childlike heart and made me sad.

I felt better when I finally reached the site of the man and got my bearings again. Then I felt kind of accomplished about being able to walk so far, despite the exhaustion and my shaking legs, I would never have been able to cover this much ground just a year and a half ago.

I decided to head over to visit my pals Julian, Jackie, Randall and Pants to say hi and see how their burn went. I also wanted to thank them again for the bike that I had left back at our camp. It was pure happy serendipity that the very first people I ran to as I approached center camp were Julian and Jackie, and Jackie was wearing the skirt I had given her and looked so cute. She had actually looked pretty fab earlier in this sweet little black and red Swiss miss kind of alpine looking costume. We all exchanged hugs and I walked them back to there camp and visited for a bit. Then I had a cruise around center camp looking for my bike and when I knew I wouldn't be able to walk any further I collapsed on a bench next to some reasonably attractive guy.

Here's a funny kind of naive thing about me -- I am so out of the loop, re. getting picked up on or having any kind of random one night sex, that I have to have something happen a ton of times before my brain kind of begins to get it. I'm so slow that way. We had this okay conversation -- exchanged the usual pleasantries, asked the usual questions, but then I started to get that he was probing for a sexual opportunity. This is something I always dismissed in the past with a, "Oh he can't possibly be interested in me, I'm too fat and unattractive." I'm still pretty overweight and my self esteem isn't exactly flying high on model level octane so I kind of go into the same old familiar mode when people are hitting on me, or I get shy and quickly scoot away. I was doing the latter when he went in for the usual burner good-bye hug and kiss, only he kissed me with this really sloppy, wet, open mouth. I blew him off as kindly as I could but it only occurred to me later that the whole open mouthed, wet-kiss thing is obviously an invitation to something more. Sheesh! Can you say duh? And I just figured this out.

When I dragged my aching body home all of the boys were in here playing on the computer -- they were finally able to get on line and were watching cartoons on

My sweet, genius friend Phil, the young man I met at Playa Info the other day, has been hanging out with us all the time and he's really great. I'm so lucky to have met him. He can do pretty much anything with a computer or anything else he puts his mind to, plus he's kind and considerate. He's helped me so much. He even put the gas in our RV for me tonight and has been handing out our glow sticks to people. I took him to our pot luck for dinner and he rode out with me to the burn tonight. He was able to get my computer working again, then he got online, downloaded the printer software and the templates for the business card sized cards I wanted to make, printed them out and laminated them for me -- amazing!

Beau is really driving me nuts tonight. He's overexhausted and acting super young because of it, poor guy. There was a girl in our camp today who he was attracted to. It was surprising to hear him say it. He told me that normally what he first notices and is attracted to is a girl's face, but that this was the first time he liked someone for their body. She had been wearing this cool clear corset and she looked really good in it.

Julia and Jay left this afternoon which just sucked. I was on my way out for a ride on the art car and the thing about these car rides is that you have to take them when you can get them or you may never catch a ride again. I wanted to go out to the temple and leave a little memorial plaque for Sonia so I knew I'd have to take this ride or risk never being able to go out there. It's too far out for me to walk and the bike ride is pretty grueling, although I have done it twice this trip, just not when the temple was open. So I was getting my stuff together to go out with Dave and the gang when Julia and Jay told me they were leaving : ( I loved being with them and it really and truly sucks that I can't hang out with them on a regular basis. I love them, all of them, all of their family. I even held Julia's ex-husband Mark's hand for a short while tonight. That was a rare treat. I adore him and he's usually a bit reserved or shy.

I would like to go off on the merits of duct tape here, how it's pretty much useful for anything out here, but I think I've been blabbing at you enough and I want to get some sleep or maybe visit my friends at the burn barrel.

Burning Man 2004 -- Packing Up : (

9-6-04 Monday

Well, it's our last day : ( I just had a mini-cry with my friend Kama who came to say good-bye. She was crying, so naturally I started crying. She said, "Jacqui, I want you to know that you are one of my most favorite people in all the world." I think she's pretty darned wonderful too. Oh man, how do you hear that and not cry? How do I type this and listen to the sounds of our beautiful city breaking down and keep pretending that it isn't happening? I don't want to pack up, that's why I'm sitting here cleaning up my posts and hoping I'll be able to send them out to you. I get anxious before packing for any kind of trip anyway, let alone trying to pack this much dust covered stuff back into our filthy, overcrowded RV.

Oh lovely, a desert breeze just blew the scent of the nearby porta-potties into our camp. Now that's one thing I won't miss, and I am dying for a shower. If we can coordinate it, we might tag along with some friends to a nearby hot springs where hopefully we'll be able to take our first showers in more than a week. Think what you may, it's all worth it, and you either get it and have been planning in your heart to come on out here and join us, or you're going to have someone drag you out here before you'll understand what it is about this place that brings us back every year no matter what.

I'll give you a real example of Burning Man fortitude; One of our neighbors, a gorgeous blonde woman with one of the prettiest, smiliest babies around, (the little toddler in the pink tutu who just happened to be carrying an empty beer bottle with her when I met her,) a very cool and super sexy pagan witch goddess gal, (can you put all of those things together in one description?) told me the most horrible story about how her husband lost his arm. I hope she'll correct me if she reads this and I get it wrong but as I remember it, they had come in 2001 and were going to get married -- have a real ceremony out here, the works. On their wedding day he left with the kids to go into Reno to pick up friends, and while she was out here in a tent getting dressed, he was hit head on by a semi-truck. The kids were all okay but he lost his arm and she had to wait all alone in her tent for eighteen hours before someone was able to get word to her. Can you imagine that? And here they are again, coming back every year to face it. I asked because he was having an emotional time at the burn and she was telling me about phantom limb pain. I told them about our Live Journal friend whose husband was just in the bad mountain bike accident. I haven't been able to check in on her to see how they're coping. I've been thinking of them. I sent prayers their way at the beautiful temple burn last night.

Okay that's it, I'm not putting up with this any more. Despite what has been a nice, crisp, cool breeze I am definitely closing the door, the stink, oh Lordy the stink is unbearable. The weather here is so instantly changeable, like everything else out here, it's like nothing I've ever experienced anywhere else before. I can't get on long enough to send anything out but I am sometimes able to get on for a minute or two and last night I went to the Burning Man site and went to the page where people write about their experience of this year's burn. The one and only post would have to be someone complaining about the weather -- the dust had wrecked their precious camp for a day or so. I wanted to say, "Oh shut up and get over it," but maybe that's because I'm tired and mad that anyone would come here with any other kind of expectations. The weather, your camp, your food, your body, everything may go to shit, literally, and at the same time, you may have the deepest spiritual experience of your life, if you're open to it. How can someone come late, leave early, and be the first people to blog in about the burn and have it be a complaint? Oh well, I surrender, everyone gets to have his or her own experience of this, I just needed to bitch about it a little bit.

Some kind fellow burners brought out these three gorgeous silver kites last night that hovered high above us for hours. With their shining silver skin and their long feathery tails they looked like some kind of floating night sea creatures. They really added to the whole mystic effect of the temple burn. Thank you to the artists who created them.

You should have been there last night, all of you, we missed you. There is nothing else like it on earth, I love the night when we burn the man, but when the temple burns it's transformative, like really great sex where you go someplace totally other and then come back and realize you went to some other place for a moment or two. If you don't know what I'm talking about, if you haven't been lucky enough to go there with your partner as I have, (love you honey), go get yourself a Hitachi Magic Wand and make your way there. It, (the temple burn and really this whole experience), truly approaches a form of religion for me. It's a pilgrimage for certain there really isn't any doubt about this for me, this is my form of walking up church steps on my knees in Rome, or walking the Camino in Spain, or any other form of pilgrimage. I must remember to visit the rat temple in India someday, it's definitely on my list. Oh man wouldn't it be great if I could adopt a couple of those rats?

I filled several plastic vials of glittering black coal dust from the man yesterday to bring back and send to anyone who wants some, and a friend on Dave's terrific poetry fridge magnet car said, "Nahh, no thanks, my kid can do that, but that is really too cultish for me." I don't hold this against him, in fact he was one of my absolute most favorite guys here and was the heart and soul of our nightly pot lucks and that's no small thing, but if this is a cult, then count me in and send me the sash and symbols. I'll shave my head and pass out literature, I'm calling this home.

Whoops, it looks like I wrote this same thing twice, hmm...oh well.

Dave only had so much room on his car last night so he had to make two trips out and two trips back. He took the little kids first and there wasn't room for me so I had to walk back. It's a long walk. The temple is just as far away from the man as the man is from us and on this last night we've lost so many of our landmarks and so many of the signs have been yanked out by souvenir hunters that it can seem a little daunting trying to find your way home in the dark. I couldn't even make out center camp so I walked in the same direction that a few other people seemed to be walking and after about a half hour of trudging through soft dust I could just make out the high flying colorful flags of our center camp and then I began to get my bearings. At first I was feeling a little bit sorry for myself but as I kept walking I got into the rhythm of it and as tired as I was I began to enjoy it the way I've enjoyed walking all of the many labyrinths that people set up out here.

We even have one in Kidsville this year. Another wonderful family built a lit up, scaled down, child sized version of the traditional labyrinth here in our camp, and although the paths were so narrow I had to hold my arms out the way you do when you walk on anything narrow like a balance beam or a sidewalk curb.

Phil just walked in and said, "Hey there, I've got a ton of pictures for year. People are still burning shit out there." We're sharing our pictures. He is sooo cool!!!

Okay, well, I don't want to be part of the enormous exodus of cars this year -- you can see the line and I've heard that it is taking people four to six hours to go just from here to the highway, a distance of maybe five miles or so, so why hassle it. We have to clean our camp, sift the sand for MOOP, (Matter out of place,) pack all our dust covered crap and garbage back into the RV, return Julian's bike, see if there is any chance someone might have returned mine anywhere, help clean up the larger area of Kidsville and Burning Man in general. This will keep us busy for hours.

Our neighbors and the kids are hungry so I'm going to cook up some mac and cheese and make a salad for six -- should be fun.

Love you, see you soon with pictures,