It Simply Was

I’ve been mulling over what could be said about the trip; what needs to be said, what I want to say.  I’ve been trying to think of what to write about, what to dwell on, what to remember, and what I would do again.

As I said before, when people ask me about it, I have a hard time saying anything.  How was it, really? What did I gain from it?  What did I love about it? I hesitated to answer just as I’ve been hesitating writing about it.  Then, this past weekend, I went to a wedding with my family.  As my brother and I were sitting in the car together on the way, I suddenly realized that he would enjoy going to Burning Man, and I told him such, going on to explain why I think that is true.  Some of the reasons were the same as mine – the travel, the community, the art – oh, the art!  And some were different, that we seek out different qualities in people and react differently to large groups, constant interaction, etc.

I thought about this more, recalling the times I had felt compelled to tell someone about the trip.  I noticed it all came down to that statement: “You would have liked it.”

After writing the post about Decompressing, a friend of mine told me about Experiential Truth, that some things cannot be summed up with words.  Period.  Really, in this situation, I can’t tell you what it was like, nor do I honestly want to.  Everyone experiences Burning Man differently, and for me it was deeply emotional and intimate.  It gives to you the realizations, emotions, and entertainment that you need most.  And, what you need is not necessarily going to match what I need.  My daughter and I did almost exactly the same things that week and walked away from those instances with completely different perspectives on what happened, and a different sense of peace than each other.  She was happy to spend her afternoon in a net hanging over a dance floor inside of a giant blue whale.  I joined her for 5 or 10 minutes before growing bored and wanting to move.  She spent close to an hour content in her nest, chatting away with whoever else decided to rest there next to her as I meandered through the bowels of the whale, chatting with the bartender, finding a pile of free henna and making art on our bodies, climbing scaffolding and engaging in conversation elsewhere.

When it comes to the experiential truth, all I can say is there are good and bad, and the degree of each depends on your personal priorities.  Next time, I will have the awareness to take time to myself so I don’t shut down mentally and emotionally before the end.   Separating myself from the crowd is not only ok, but it is necessary for my experience to continue being fun.  Next time, I will adventure with Ellette for a day with the purpose being to hop on every single art car we see because for her, the art cars are what make the experience exciting.

So, how was Burning Man?  It simply was.

It was jumping on the playa with people we just met:

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It was exploring art:

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(Yes, that is a giant mustache teeter-totter.)

It was challenging ourselves:

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It was giant:

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It was illuminated:

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It was spiritual:

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It was circus:

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It was adventure:

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It was solitude:

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It was faith:

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It was making friends:

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It was community:

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It was breathtaking:

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And most importantly, it was this:

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Lakes of Fire in Retrospect

For two days now, I have wondered how to sum up the amazing weekend I just experienced.  I have gone through the pictures I have taken, scoured the web for photos from others, read testimonials from others who were there, and had a difficult time adjusting to my regular life.  Actually, this last one has been the worst.  I am still cleaning dirt from under my fingernails, there is still sand and oil in my hair, I get a whiff of campfire now and again and keep finding new ideas for next year.  I still haven’t unpacked and all of my camp and circus gear is in a giant pile in my parlor still, ready to be loaded up for another trip should the fancy strike.  Knowing that I really need to be a responsible adult, pay the bills, and tuck money aside for next year’s goals is kind of a downer.

So, here I am, still readjusting and trying to put the weekend into words.  An experience that makes you want to run so fast you start to fly and hug absolute strangers because you know they have a beautiful soul is not one that can easily be summed up.  Trying to even tell you what Lakes of Fire is or was or could be feels impossible.  It is simple and complex and colorful and clear, but only if you are in the midst of it.  It is an energy that ebbs and flows between the participants so that it is more than a festival, it is an immersive experience for all of your senses.  It is difficult to *grasp* but easy to understand once you let down your barriers and respond to that flowing energy.  You can’t help but smile and relax.  My boss told me when I returned on Monday morning that I was breathing deeply and calmly, that she could tell I had enjoyed myself and taken advantage of my vacation, that I seemed at peace for the first time since I started working in an office.  That feeling hasn’t left yet.

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Lakes of Fire is, at it’s core, described as a fire festival.  What is that?  It is an exhibition of art, talent, and community that culminates in a fire performance and the burning of an effigy.  This effigy was standing all weekend, and participants were able to crawl all over it, climb it an look out over the lake at the entire festival, write notes on the walls and string paper cranes from the rafters.  We imbued the structure with our energy, our dreams and words and poems and love, to be shared within the community.

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When it burned, it became a celebration of life, love and community – the cycle of all things.  Each person shared the experience, and experienced it in our own individual ways.

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This being my first burn event of any sort, I wasn’t sure what to expect.  I was lightly familiar with the culture, but had never felt so fully immersed.  There was no way my imagination could have come up with the amazing performance, the fireworks, the color, and the feeling of anticipation and excitement that emanated from the crowd.

There is so much more to describe to you about the weekend, but I need to formulate the thoughts and pictures in my head.  I hope I have passed some of the energy to you!

Exploring Chicago’s Chinatown

This past weekend, Ellette and I began our monthly excursions into Chicago

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We had a couple of friends with us, one for Ellette and one for me.  It made the hour long train ride bearable.

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And then we arrived in Chinatown, and everyone was excited.

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The Chinese New Year just passed, and Sunday was their festival and parade.  The neighborhood was packed but the general feeling of excitment and aniticipation was infectious.image

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It was difficult to get really good pictures of the parade.  And it was cold, so standing around with my mittens off to take pictures was not ideal.  I did the best I could given the circumstances.

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My favorite was the dragons.  I didn’t get a photo in time, but following the big dragons with the adults working them, there were three little kids in a tiny dragon outfit.  It was the most heart-wrenching thing ever and you could hear the collective sigh and “AWE” from the crowd as they passed.

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The streets were so packed, and by the end of the parade we were all starving, it was difficult to find a restuarant without a long wait.  I eventually turned down a street that looked like it had been forgotten by the tourists and found a quiet little place – the Shanghai Bistro – and we ended up being seated right away.  We were sharing our large round table with 6 French tourists, which was interesting and kind of fun

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And then the day was over and it was time to go home.  The kids continued to bounce off the wall, energized by excitement and cream cake.  The moms were trying not to fall asleep on the train.  It was a lovely day, and I can’t wait for our next excursion!  Any recommendations?

A Popcorn Festival

I was unsure of what this festival would be like when the vendor coordinator contacted me about joining the festivities.  Until that point, I had no idea where Valparaiso, Indiana was located, or why I would want to go there.  But I thought I would give it a shot, because some of these tiny shows turn out to be gems.

We got up at a ridiculous hour in the morning to be in Valparaiso (1.5 hours away) by 6:00 to set up.  We had to be up and operational by 7.  While we were setting up and trying not to let our tent blow away, I was quietly cursing myself for thinking it would be a good idea.  an under-caffeinated pixie is a cranky pixie indeed.  Once we were up, I walked away in search of hot coffee and orange juice, and the day began.

Last week, Odin and I put our heads together (sometimes we can do that and it doesn’t hurt) and came up with a new way of displaying my wings.  He had been making screens (read: room dividers) for the old roommie before we found out she was more than a little unstable and asked her to leave, so we talked about how to utilize these screens.  This is what we came up with:

There are two of them and they fold in half.  I have them tied to the tent in two places, and they hold a ton of wings.  By the end of the day, my very creative sister (you can see her behind the stand) had found ways to display a few more pairs.  The wings just slip into the slats – no tying necessary.  It made helping customers so easy.
The festival took a little while to get started, but then it was busy.  There were about 20,000 people there, and it took up 4×4 city blocks.  There was an ampitheatre nearby our location, and I could hear music throughout the day.  At the very end, I had asked someone what cover band this was that had been playing Rusted Root for the past two hours, and the person laughed at me and said “It actually is Rusted Root.”  I made my sister take Ellette to the last song because we have been listening to them in the car lately – Ellette calls them “that drumming band” and really enjoys their music.

Ellette had fun dressing up.  The condition was she had to stand outside of the shop and get people to come in.

There was face painting, of course, but nothing new for me.  I tried to get more unique things, but butterflies and tigers are ever popular.

I did one zombie and a variation on a dragon (he wanted it to match his dad’s tattoo).

And then my sister stepped in and did some painting when I was getting sore.  She’s pretty good, and had herself a line built up by the time I finished lunch.

There was a balloon artist who made an awesome unicorn.  I couldn’t resist.

And at the very end we met a kid on a unicycle and made him juggle – ’cause we’re dorks like that.  Unicycles are cool.

In all, it was a good day.  I think I may do it again next year, especially since now I have an idea of what is popular there.  Each location is different, and I never know if I have a market until halfway through the day.  It makes taking on new shows a risky business, but sometimes it is all worth it.

Last Weekend

I fail.  I totally fail.  I really should have updated sooner, and I should have tried a little harder to take photos at the festival.  In my defense, I worked a 40 hour work week in 3 days.

Saturday rained.  Sunday and Monday were nice.  By Tuesday, I was pretty much dead to the world.  I slept a lot, and stayed in front of the computer knitting while streaming movies.  On Wednesday, I played the always-fun game of catch-up, because on Saturday I drive out to Valparaiso, Indiana for the popcorn festival.  Why did I decide to do that one?  it starts at an ungodly hour in the AM, which means I have to be awake at like…..4.  Really?  Clearly an indication of my mental instability.

In other news, school started without a hitch and I’m losing sleep trying to manage after school childcare on a budget so tight my wallet squeaks.  I’ve got some cool plans coming up for knitting, fairies, and my Etsy shop.  A couple of nice promos are on the way, as well as one or two new patterns, so keep an eye out.
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Seventh Weekend

Sixth Weekend

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