I am so exhausted. After looking for my precious, comfy, big-butt bike for a couple of hours late last night I finally collapsed into bed around six AM and then Beau's new friend Brett, who I really like, and am so glad that he and his nice family are camping next to us, came and knocked on our door around ten this morning and woke me up, argh. Beau and I both like to stay up all night taking it all in and then coming back to the RV to play with our various electronic toys before we fall over in heaps of dusty mess.
It's been the dustiest I can ever recall it having been, so dusty it almost wipes out my resolve to stay, but I just whine about it inwardly for a little bit and then as soon as I leave our RV and visit one of the many people here who I adore, it all comes back to me, the love, happiness, freedom, and creative inspiration that I feel when we are here.
I met the coolest guy today over at my best playa friend's Julia, Jay, and Mark's camp. I didn't know or recognize him from previous years. He seemed nice and kind of low key and friendly. Earlier in the day I had seen him gathering up Polaroids of people. He took an awful one of me and I was reminded that I have scads of my own Polaroids to get out there and take. Anyway I liked him immediately because he had a good vibe and felt like an old and gentle soul and when I saw him again later, when I took over my enormous bowl of guacamole for the potluck that was canceled due to dust, heh, he was there again. Mark said, "Oh I've been wanting you two to meet. You're both in the entertainment business." He told me that he was a documentary producer/filmmaker, ding, ding, ding, one of my absolute most favorite art forms on the planet. I always meet the best people out here.
You know, there aren't too many other jobs that I would find more interesting than this, I mean as far as I'm concerned, because I find documentaries so compelling. I would rather hear someone say, "Oh yeah, I just happen to produce documentaries," than "I am an Academy Award Winning Producer of a film that starred everyone from Meryl Streep to Tom Cruise." Give me someone who cares about our world and makes documentaries about real life, that either educate or help people in some way, or transport them out of their own lives for a couple of hours and I'll be in the land of joy. Which of course I was when not only did he turn out to be someone who produces documentaries, but -- and this is going to blow away my Scott -- he was the senior producer of TV Nation -- please tell me you're heard of TV Nation, it's one of my all time favorite television shows. Can you imagine? I'm pretty sure I have the DVD set but he said he wasn't certain it had come out yet. That puts him up there in the pantheon of cool people I respect like the sweet family across the way from us who powered a bus all the way up here on vegetable oil.
BTW he's spent the last two days covered entirely in the most amazing shades of blue and green paint, wearing a wild pink wig and shaking maracas at people -- he's also super kind and friendly. I hope he finds whatever it is he has come here for, whether it's art or women, connection or inspiration. And the wonderfully sweet and caring vegetable bus family gave me a lovely hand picked and tied sage wand that they picked themselves somewhere on a high mountain pass in Colorado. God, I love the people who come here.
There are so many wonderful people out here. I may have written about this before but my brain is so full of this dust that it's become even fuzzier than usual, but the other night when I came home late after hanging out with some more wonderful people in center camp, I stopped and played with Kama in her Pink Poodle Camp for a good while and met some more good people. I brought plenty of alcoholic beverages for my friends who obviously aren't alcoholics, and I like to pass them out to my friends here who are thrilled to have them, because they've pretty much sucked up all of their own by now, and since I don't really drink anything more than a few sips of a wine cooler once or twice a year, seriously, I've got lots to share.
Awww, my friend Phil just knocked on the door, (I'm kind of hopping around in time here because I'm editing these posts and plugging in stuff as I go), he came by to give us the jacket back that Beau had loaned him last night and his Mom sent over a really fine bottle of wine. People are so generous here, you can't stop the giving. I never ever leave my own camp and go anywhere else without people showering me with gifts. I never come home with empty hands. On the other lovely hand I never go out there without taking a basketful of gifts to give out. Last night this sweet woman I had met the other day at Kama's camp came by and left the entire set of Gigsville trading cards. I am so thrilled about this. I've been collecting whatever few cards I could put my hands on for years.
Gigsville is an enormous theme village out here, much bigger even than we are by far. They used to set up the sweetest encampment that looked a lot like a real suburban neighborhood, with front porches, fake grass front lawns, mailboxes, picket fences and whirligigs -- very fun and cute. I don't know if they're still doing it because I wasn't able to get out there -- Burning Man is just too damned big, your first couple of days are blown setting up your own camp and building whatever art you've brought to share, and then you've got your own campmates to connect with, and the main points of the city to take in, and then the next thing you know it's time to burn the man. Anyway Lighthouse, that's the playa name of this generous orange haired sweetie-pie, met me the other night and when I found out she was from Gigsville I told her how much I loved the fact that they each have these cool self designed but group produced trading cards and she promised to hook me up with a deck. I thought it was sweet of her to offer and just let it go because things tend to happen like this out here, it's easy to get distracted, and she never said she was going to get me a deck while she was here, but there she was with her hand held out to me. I'll try to find some way to share some of these with you, there may be a site somewhere on line where they've put them up so people can see them.
Oh that reminds me, I was supposed to hustle on over to a 12 Step meeting. I haven't been to Anonymous Camp yet and I love those guys. I'm not an alcoholic, at least not yet, but Lord knows I'm addicted to pretty much everything else, (shopping, debting, cats, TV, food, sedatives, people and their approval, art anorexia, the list goes on and on), so just hanging out with 12 Step pals gets me centered and grounded pronto. I won't be taking them any tequila though ; )
Everything takes so much longer to do out here and is so much more exhausting than it is at home. You'll tell someone that you're just going to run back to your camp to get something like a pickle, and you'll be right back, then hours later you realize that you forgot to go back. Or you know that something really cool is happening in a certain location at a certain time but you just cant get it together in time to get over there -- that's what we refer to as Playa Time and everyone understands about this. "don't worry, we're on Playa Time," is a common refrain heard 'round here.
Well, I've got to go deal with this sickening, RV, black water, full tank situation. The shit thing is probably the worst part of this experience, worse than the dust, and everyone has their own way of dealing with it. One friend of mine who I would love to describe in this sentence as being super cool and wonderful but can't because I don't want to bust her anonymity when I'm talking about shit, just brings a bucket and plastic bags for her daughter to poop in, then she uses baby wipes and ties them all up and throws them away somewhere else. She doesn't want her daughter to have to deal with the gross porta-pottie scene, and believe me, it can be gross, but it's a great place to take pictures of people because almost everyone winds up around there at some point. Not me though, I bring my own toilet, I'm too easily offended by other people's crap and vomit.
I was pretty upset when I heard that they weren't going to be pumping them out for us this year, but when I went to Playa Info to complain I learned that I'd been misinformed, and that they are pumping them for us. I never complain officially about anything out here because I am just so grateful for all the work that people do to make this happen and I figure that if I'm not in there fighting for our rights then I had just better shut up and consider myself lucky for whatever I get for the price of my ticket, but when I heard this, I had to go say something. It just wouldn't be fair to let people spend so much money to haul these trucks with toilets in them so they don't have to deal with the gross porta potties, and then suddenly decide not to service them anymore.
The dust has been really bad this year, so bad that every time we open the door a big gust of wind blows about a quarter of a bucket full into the RV and I'm dreading the clean up. I don't even want to sit outside on any of our chairs and if you pat anything, like the sofa or a pillow a small cloud of dust puffs up into the air and gets sucked up into your nostrils. We do what we can to stay healthy with salt nasal spray and moisturizing gel, and dust masks are a treasured give away out here so we always bring plenty and then forget to give them all away because we're so busy
Mary-Alice is getting mad at Soren right now because he keeps tracking dust in and out and walking around barefoot. I like them, they've been great neighbors. I love all of our neighbors this year, well, every year really. We always luck out. I do my usual neurotic, anxious freak out thing where I worry about placement, etc., and then I get that I am always just where I am supposed to be. I mean how much better can our location be than sandwiched right in between two wonderful families with fourteen year old boys.
I brought tons of small toys to give away to the kids. I passed out Crayons and baby Barbies and playsets, and these cute little interactive aqua pets that were a big hit with the kids. We also gave out a lot of candy, or keena as Beau used to call it when he was a baby. Some of the parents are smarter than I am about this and will wave off the candy but take the animal crackers instead. I'm guessing they're both equally unhealthy. I gave out little princess crown sets to my favorite little girls but I ran out of them before I could give a set to my favorite little girl of all, Monique's daughter Star. Oh man do I love star. She's so beautiful, this little angel with gorgeous brown eyes and soft curly hair. She was the most grateful and the sweetest of all the little girls I met, and she held my hand which naturally melted my heart. Her Mom look so cool with all of her tribal gear and this bone through her nose. We're hoping to hook up with them when we get back home and go hiking together.
I saved her, (Star), from the teenagers a couple of times when they were trying to give her condoms instead of the jawbreakers that she came by to ask for. They were telling the little kids that they were balloons, oh man kids. We bought these HUGE jawbreakers somewhere along the way and they were a big hit. I only wish I'd bought more of them, no one could fit them in their mouths so I don't really know why they were so popular. Soren took a hammer and smashed his into bits and then he ate them, smart kid. Oh there goes Bret on his bike. He and Beau took empty bottles and wedged them into their back wheels somehow so that they've become a kind of modern version of the old playing cards in the spokes sort of deal. A lot of people think the kids are riding dirt bikes when they ride by because of the sound they make.
The Department of Animal Regulations came by today and rounded up all of our kids with nets. I thought it was a little scary but the kids loved it. We dressed the medium to little kids as animals for a parade and then the surprise was when these folks came by in their red jumpsuits and rounded up the kids and put them in their art car paddy wagon thing. Then they took turns putting the kids who weren't scared up for adoption. It sounds awful but the kids were laughing and screaming and having a great time. Before they left they gave all of us Black Rock Animal Reg tags for 2004, little bone shaped ID tags on chain necklaces. Jay and I both thought it was a wee bit too reminiscent of that scene in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang where they ice cream truck lures the kids out with the promise of treats but then the sides fall down and it's really this evil kid catching prison circus-like car.
I met an enormous dolly costumed woman walking by and begged her to come over to Kidsville. She had made a giant papier mache dolly head with screwed up dreaded hair and one black hole for an eye. She was wearing a nightie and could peek out of this bit of lace that hung down the front of the dress. She looked like one of my favorite animated cartoon characters -- the reassembled dolly in the first Toy Story, the one that the mean older brother neighbor had stolen the head of, shaved it's hair off and then attached it to some kind of crabby crawling robot thing.
Anyway she was walking by and I asked her to come in so she did. The first kids she approached on one of our trampolines were scared at first. One of them, one of the meaner little ones, said, "Ewwww, you're a big scary dolly. Go away! Fuck off!" I told him that wasn't a nice thing to say and that he would hurt the big scary dolly's feelings so they hugged and made up. It was so funny. Then I took her by the hand and led her in to the center of our village and introduced her to some of the other kids on another trampoline. I'll show you pictures when I get back. We had fun.
I've been really liking the people from Santa Cruz that I meet here. Whenever I think of Santa Cruz I think of my old high school friend Seira who I know went there. I wonder how she is. Anyway she obviously made a good choice because the Santa Cruz folks all seem very cool.
My friend Julian of supersnail.com and the billion bunny march camp, blew me away with such an act of kindness I almost couldn't accept it, but for the fact that I was desperate and didn't want to have to pull up camp to drive miles and miles to Reno. He gave me his bike. Isn't that amazing? He and his wonderful wife/partner Jackie are the dearest, most generous people. I think there are people who love them because of the fine art that they make and want to be photographed by them and included in their book, whatever, I love their art and am honored that they would even consider wanting to photograph us, but what I love about them is so far beyond this. It just goes deeper than that for me.
You know that feeling you get sometimes when you meet someone and you think you just must know them from somewhere else because they feel so instantly familiar and they just fit? Well, that's how I feel about them. Then they go and do this, give me their bike. I'm just so touched and blown away by this. Bikes mean everything out here, without one you are so screwed because this place is so big and you aren't allowed to drive once you come in, unless you have a licensed mutant vehicle or art car. Nevertheless I keep nursing this fantasy that I'll somehow find my bike before we leave. Dream on...
I'm so sad and angry for my friends Julia and Jay who can't be together because Jay is from England and our government won't recognize binational lesbian relationships. It's so fucked! Anyone else, well, anyone else who is heterosexual, would be able to marry their partner who would then become a citizen and get to stay here, but our government are keeping these dear women apart, separating Jay from Julia and her kids, who are like her own to her, because they have this antiquated idea of what love is and what constitutes marriage. I want to clobber someone, but who? I was thrilled to learn that Cheney's daughter is out and that he has finally stated publicly that he doesn't support Bushes evil marriage amendment thing. If nothing else galvanized my decision to vote for Kerry, it was finally this.
I saw a manta ray car today and spoke with the people who had made it. It was super pretty and fishy. I loved it. There's also a gorgeous aqua blue jelly fish tank car that I've seen driving around at night out there. It has hundreds of waving tentacles and it looks very trippy at night.
I have to remember to be careful whenever I bike past Camp Arctica, the ice camp because there are always so many people riding by with heavy, precariously balanced bags of ice and if you get in their way and they're forced to stop, they sometimes topple over. This happened to me the last year I was here and I got so cut up and bruised I had to limp to center camp where I sat and cried and felt sorry for myself.
People have been so kind and complimentary to me about my hair. There is so much kindness and friendliness here when out there in the world we often pass each other by and my Mom thinks there's something really wrong with me because I am forever reaching out and trying to touch people with comments and compliments. She wants me to be reserved and proper and while I can put on this social mask for any of her charity functions, fashion luncheons, or a meal at one of her clubs, this is the exact opposite of who I am or would ever want to be.
On my way home tonight I stopped by pickle camp and tried one of their many varieties of freshly sliced and nicely chilled pickles. They're so funny with their green pickle signs, Beatles music blaring, giant pickle margaritas and cutting boards full of freshly slices pickles. "Here try this variety, you'll love it, it's rich and nutty."