.... and scene!

Holy cow you guys, Burning Man was great!

Some incredibly beautiful imagery of Burn Night is coming across the interwebs, one of John Curely's posts to the Burning Blog, What A Burn, features some pictures from the Fire Conclave and the Procession (I design and manage the Procession. The team I'm on designs and manages the Great Circle and the conclave performance).

It was a LOT of work, holy crap a lot of work - 14, 18 hour days in a row kind of a lot of work. We arrived on the playa on the 21st of August and left the 4th of September. I got home and began classes the very next day. Wham bam thank you ma'am. As I sit on the couch now, writing this, I'm thinking of the mountain of reading and drawing I already have.

Tony and I managed to live in an incredibly tiny trailer for two weeks without any major meltdowns. We were granted access to eat all of our meals in the commissary which takes a lot of pressure off the what and when to eat conversations that can get a little loopy when we're dehydrated and tired. Before the event opened we were camped out alone in our big camp space; we stayed in and played cards or went over to a neighborhood bar to hang out with old friends; during the days we defended the camp space with vigor. I worked. I got a light sunburn. I had my period almost the whole damn time (someday I'll get a break from bleeding on the playa.) I managed to get hurt enough to visit the med tent; an office wound, a hasp jumped out and bit me, it will leave a gnarly scar. I got my haircut. Burning man happened. Lots of stuff rolling along endlessly for 14 days and nights.

We planned on being a week early so that I could be on the job when the box office opened, as well, being that early would allow me to get all my ducks in a row, make face to face meetings with people to facilitate the achievement of work orders later during the event etc. I think I could have been there a whole week or two earlier. I say something like that every year, and I really believe it. I love the work environment that is established by the people who dedicate themselves to making the event space a place of ultimate creativity and expression. My purpose for going earlier would be to make deeper connections with the people I work with, unit integrity, team cohesion and the like.

This year I 'hired' one of my classmates to join my team, he camped with us once the event opened - he was great. It's really fun to see the enthusiasm and wonder for the Burning Man experience vicariously through a young person. I came away wanting to hire my entire class (there are 5 of us in the same place in our program together), I think all but one of them would be totally into it and he's that one that I think would benefit from it the most.

I had a few "OMG shit just got real" moments. One was when the Art Department managers got together to welcome the "new" folks to the team. I'm a Burning Man Art Department Manager now. OMG OMG OMG! Another was when a long time friend and senior staff member came up to me and said "Holy shit, the torch really has been passed to you, I had no idea you'd be taking on so much. Congratulations." Holy shit is right, me neither! It's a little scary, but I feel very well tooled and prepared for my new and growing roles.

There was a lot of VIP access where I was trotted out in front of founders, board members, community leaders, artists and collaborators. I met a lot of new people this year as well as I changed my relationships with a few I've known in both BRC and the Default World for a long time. In contrast, I hung out with my family and friends from Seattle and Oakland some of whom probably have no idea what I do at the company picnic and probably don't care... and I don't care that they don't know and or would give a shit. This singular feature is one of the most beautiful parts of Burning Man for me, we're all in it working together to create space for art, it doesn't really matter how or at what level. A common joke through our culture is "Do you know who I am?" pfft, no, but thanks for all you do for our community.

I spent a lot of time in the office tweaking schedules, spreadsheets and handling correspondence. It was odd but awesome. By being there I felt more connected to more of the team, rather than being someone they only hear on the radio. I think spending time in the office strengthened my relationships, putting faces to names, skills to actions and demonstrated communication skills (or lack there of).

This year I experienced a lot of learning opportunities. It was a tremendous honor to serve the Fire Conclave, guiding them though the storms and holding them up when they needed extra support from us (the council); likewise, they opened up to us and showed us how they lead their groups to achieve their goals. We've learned a lot from them and hope the exchange of inspiration and growth continues for many, many years to come.

One of the most interesting personal developments I noticed in myself was a distinct drop in my snark, which seems to have been completely replaced with politeness. There were a couple of curt moments that were quickly tempered and reversed. Those particular instances the people either caught me by surprise and or were unwilling to hear the truthful, honest and direct answer I had to give or both. Overall a complete turn around from my usual smart-ass, confrontational, straight shooter communication style. The couple of times true snark came to mind I was alone and it was limited to my head. A dear friend of mine even expressed concern for my lack of snark and wondered aloud what happened to the real Q. The real Q has a different role where reports of my kindness or lack there of will get back to my managers. The real Q would like to keep doing her work.

Burning Man is my Default world, the space most often referred to as the default world is the weird place for me. It's where I'm broke, unemployed, hungry, living in a squat-like environment and socially awkward, it's where I'm a 40+ year old cat lady, with warrants for my arrest, no drivers license, no insurance, no health insurance, it's where I am a walking disaster area. It's in Black Rock City where I have a great, rewarding job empowering hundreds of people, where I have inspiring peers, a comfortable home, am well fed and cared for, where I may engage with my lover in very true, playful and raw ways, (where he's comfortable to be his true self). I am most comfortable there, I'm safe there (in an odd way). I've yet to bridge the gap making my day-to-day life and my Burning Man life one in the same, I'm imagining the gap closing, but I can't quite see the other side.

This year the entire management team asked early and often when I expect to finish school. I wish I knew the answer. I don't want to put the cart before the horse but I sense that there is anticipation on their side of things. I could be totally making that up. I could be entirely too anxious and hoping for some ridiculously grand goals to be achieved -- but hey this entire career arch has been completely ridiculous and has followed every single step that I've envisioned so far, so why block myself with insecurities now? My graduation plan and reality may not line up. I'm concerned that if I look at it too closely and try to optimize my time to the best of my abilities I'll wind myself up with anxiety and anticipation. As it is, I'm a second semester Junior. This time next year I'll be entering my thesis semester and in theory I'll graduate next spring. I can't think about the actual dates without it getting me down, it sounds so far away.

Dear Universe,

When I graduate I want to move my little family to Oakland, go to grad school at CCA and work a real job at the BRC offices for realsies.


So, today, we're doing a bunch of nothing. I should be trying to straighten up our place, doing laundry and homework. I should be unpacking the camper and washing the truck. Instead, I'm working on the work I do and this (which stemmed from the work I do in a quirky way).


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