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!"