Wasted people are so boring when you're sober, or a Pregnant Woman's Guide to Burning Man
We're coming out with a new software release at work, so it's crunch time there and I'm busy with code all damned day at work. No time to spend para-working and enjoying the pleasures of Estrolist, emailing friends, blogging or any of my other online favorites, and I'm so sick of computers by the time I get home I don't even log on most of the time.
I was off camping nearly every weekend on August. Went up to the Sierra Nevada mountains for hiking around in the high alpine country and Yosemite (which I wrote about here), then Big Sur the next weekend, and Burning Man for five days after that. It was great fun, but somewhat exhausting to be constantly packing and unpacking the car, and I'm in nesting mode anyways.
Burning Man was not so fun for me this year. I mean, it wasn't BAD, but it was.....well, it was mostly annoying I guess, punctuated by bursts of greatness, but mostly annoying.
I haven't been for the last three years. The first time I went was 1998, which was fantastic. I was in a wonderfully fun camp, with really great people. I did just the right amount of drugs, and had a perfect companion for the event in my friend Sean. There were stellar artworks, mindblowing fire creations and huge techno gadgets, and there were around 10-15,000 people, most of whom were involved and doing something cool there. You could get around pretty easily, too.
The next year I wasn't prepared. Sean fell in love with me and decided that we couldn't just be friends, he didn't want to see me anymore if I couldn't return his feelings (which, uh, I couldn't, being in love with Dan). Camping with him and the others from the previous year was out.
So my friend Brad and I basically threw some camping equipment in my car, bikes on back and rolled out. We were shadeless and dependent on visiting other camps for heat relief during the day. It wasn't nearly as fun. Plus, it was FREEZING cold, especially at night. After that, I bailed for three years, just didn't have much juice to go.
This year I figured that it was going to be now or never, with the baby coming. I went with Brad again. We were camping with the Kostume Kult, basically a group of New Yorkers interested in rave culture and costume creation. They were cool people, but most of them were absolutely out of their minds on drugs the whole time. I mean, REALLY gone. Whereas my old camp in 1998 was more about smoking a bowl or having a beer during the day, and maybe doing a little Ecstasy at night, this camp was about doing *multiple* hits of Ecstasy, PLUS acid, PLUS coke, PLUS mushrooms, PLUS beer, PLUS forgetting to drink water, etc. Instead of going for enlightenment, it seemed to be more about obliteration. Then they would be utterly trashed all day, wandering around like zombies or passed out cold wherever.
As a stone cold sober pregnant chick, I found them tremendously boring. They couldn't hold a conversation when sober, and they couldn't hold a conversation when fucked up. And when they did manage to speak, I felt like I was talking to myself about 10 years ago.
One guy, Josh, was talking to Brad after a night when he had done multiple hits of X, and had been doing so for many days on end. he was totally trashed, and he asked Brad if he had any Prozac!
Brad was like, "Um, that's not something I normally carry around with me. But, um, are *you* supposed to be taking that on a regular basis?" Josh replied, "Well, yeah, but I forgot to bring it with me, and I'm really feeling the lack of it right now." !!!!! Oh brother, I *wonder* why you have a serotonin problem, guy! Maybe try laying off the X? These people don't sem to understand how it works chemically at all. You can't just keep doing it day after day after day, it works once and then you have to give it a rest to let your levels build up again. Oh, and how funny that Josh remembered to bring all the *other* drugs with him (X, acid, mishrooms, a huge bag of coke, pot, cartons of cigarettes, etc.) but not his prescription medicine! Duh! Oh, and he didn't know that I was pregnant until the last day there when he was on X again and I guess decided to bond with me. We were out walking on the playa at night in a big group and he came up to me and said, "So I hear you're pregnant, is it really true?" I had to crack up over that, because he must have been fucked up not to notice. It had been a discussion topic several times already when he was around, and what would the logical alternative have been to explain my belly and my sobriety? Um, I'm a 12-stepper with a huge ovarian cyst? I'm supposedly sober, but I sneak half a keg of beer every night, and that's why I go back to my tent so early?
Thank God for Brad. We did have a good time hanging out together. He's pretty much over drugs these days, so he hung out with me most of the time and we did a lot of catching up and bonding. He would go off with the group and stay out fairly late most nights while I came home to my tent and blissfully passed out. It's funny, I sleep at Burning Man like I sleep nowhere else on earth. For some reason the combined noise of techno beats, people on passing cars announcing nonsense on loudspeakers, and all the ambient stuff going on around me just knocks me out. It's very entertaining to listen to, then I pass out like a dead person and don't wake up until morning. I think I slept about 10 hours a day at Burning Man, and my previous visits were all marked by passing out like a dead person as well. I thought it was just the drugs before, but now I know it's something about the ambient noise there.
So Brad did X one night and mushrooms one night, but he wasn't really into it. I brought a huge container of pot, and he didn't even smoke any. I think he had fun, but he was sort of just passing time, like me. he was glad to leave when we did, it was time. Oh, he did one line of coke and he was up all night one night. Then the next morning his nose would NOT stop running, and he couldn't figure out what was going on. Finally I was like, "Brad, it's the COKE! That's why your nose is all crazy this morning," and then all of a sudden it was obvious and we laughed about it.
I would get up and make breakfast and tea and coffee in the morning, we would have breakfast, chill out in the shade for a while reading magazines, then after lunch he would hop on his bicycle and say, "I'm going for a ride," which was code for his going over to Jiffy Lube camp. The motto there is "Get in, get off, get out." So he would go over there, hook up with some hot strangers, shoot his wad, and then come back to camp and tell me about it. It was hysterical.
Oh, and another of our more clueless campmates had heard that I was pregnant, but he was too fucked up to figure out the whole story, because he thought that Brad was my husband until the last day! He asked the main Camp Leader guy (named Costume Jim, who I really liked) about us and our "strange attraction" , and Jim just about fell over and busted a gut laughing. He told me about it the next morning and *I* almost died laughing too. BRAD? My HUSBAND! Oh my God, he must have thought we were the strangest couple on earth.
Like, I must have been this poor clueless wife in his mind, all knocked-up while her obviously GAY husband is flouncing around in short shorts, jetting off to Jiffy Lube camp to get serviced by other men every day. Fucking TOO HYSTERICAL. Brad was like, "Yeah wasn't the 'separate tents' thing kind of weird to you?" But I think Brad's feelings were hurt a little bit when I was laughing so hard about him being the father of my baby. I was like, "Ha! Noooooooo.....I DO have a husband, but he's at home with the dog, and he's straight!" Brad's all, "Yeah, and he's HOT!", but then he said, "You know, several of my ex-girlfriends *have* asked me to father their children...it's not soooo far-fetched that I could be a father." I was like, hmmmmm, Doggie Daddy is about the limit of your fatherly capabilities, Brad.
But it's funny, because we do get along so well when we're just hanging out together the two of us. He doesn't pull any of his high-horse diva attitudes with me, we're just very calm and peaceful and cooperative, like it brings out the best Sadge qualities in both of us. It IS almost like we fall into a husband-wife kind of relationship in a way. We just instantly start following a routine that works for both of us. It was that way when Brad came to stay with me in San Francisco for a week as well. We really had a good time just hanging out and chatting and doing kind of mundane stuff together. And it's this huge change from when other people are around, because then he can be SO terribly high-maintenance and pull all kinds of tantrums, which he never does when it's just me and him, I don't know why.
So some other points about my 2003 Burning Man experience:
1) As I mentioned, I was not only sober this year, but pregnant, which made me unable to enjoy quite a few of the BM events. I was worried about toxins in the smoke from burning objects. (see #2). I was tired at night. I was annoyed by all the obliterated, fucked-up people wandering around bumping in to things and acting like retards. (Some idiot threw a bottle in my direction and hit me in the head, cutting me on the temple...then called me a crybaby when I cried out in pain. Nice.) I was scared that I would fall off my bike and hurt myself, which I almost did about 20 times. Oh, and the most annoying factor was that I had to pee every 15-20 minutes, which involved walking about a 1/4 mile, then standing in line for a filthy portable toilet. Finally I wised up and just started peeing in a cup in my tent. Brad followed suit and peed in an iced tea bottle in *his* tent, and then we would matter-of-factly refer to it as "going to take a tent pee" to each other, then emerge from our tents and go dump the pee out around the corner. But we didn't clue any of our other campmates in, in case they thought it was weird that we were peeing in our tents. yeah, in case any of THEM thought that WE were weird. ;-)
Did I mention that all my campmates were chain-smokers too? Yuck. Oh, but they would wear their particle masks during the big dust storms we had, and then take them off to smoke a cigarette about every minute or so, then put the particle mask back on. Too much. Definitely New Yorkers and not Californians.
2) Burning Man was HUGE this year, around 35,000 people. For me, it was too damned big. You pretty much *had* to take your bike everywhere because wherever you wanted to go was too far away to walk. And it seemed like the ratio of people to really cool stuff was pretty large.
Whereas before there had been less people, but a LOT of really mind-blowing art of all types and sizes, especially on the large and dangerous and ultra-techie end (huge Tesla coils shooting arcs of electricity, giant fire-breathing robots battling one another, that kind of thing...LOTS of fire going on all over), now it seemed to be more about naked people getting fucked up. Lots of art cars with bars on them, but not very much fire. Not very much geeky innovation. I was relived in one way that there wasn't a lot of fire (less fuel fumes, smoke, toxins, and other particulate matter in the air for me to breathe), but disappointed too, since those huge geeky dangerous fiery mechanical creations are what I loved most about Burning Man.
I mean, half that stuff you couldn't see *anywhere* else but out on a huge non-flammable desert playa surface. Now it seems more like just a big rave with naked people and trippy lights and fire-jugglers. Maybe it's just that so many elements from Burning Man have been co-opted by the rave scene, it's just not so unique anymore? I don't know.
So anyways, I was sad to leave Burning Man on previous visits, but this time I couldn't wait to get home, take a long shower, eat some fresh fruit, and wash the dust out of all my things. I missed Dan and Bugs tremendously. My nesting instinct has kicked in and I'm pretty happy at home these days. There's plenty to do here. I have a zillion projects that I am itching to get done.