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,