Ready or Not, Here Comes the Burn

August 20, 2013 — In two days, we’ll be on the playa.  The second we pass the Greeter’s Stations, we’ll be transformed from Alan and Judie into Perky and Lashes, and we’ll leave behind the default world and all its issues.  I can’t wait … well, that’s not exactly true.  Because I’m always apprehensive about going out to the desert.  In fact, the first year I attended (2005) I was fairly certain I wouldn’t survive the experience, so I dragged my feet on preparations and pretended it wasn’t going to happen.

Who could possibly want to go out to the desert, live in a tent, burn up in the hot sun and have only porta-potties for toilets?

But at the Greeter’s Station that first year, magic happened.  I released myself from worries and limitations and just let go.  I donned a pair of butterfly wings, lay down in the dust to make a playa angel and rang the virgin bell.  I got happy, and stayed that way the entire time I was in Black Rock City.  The image of my son running after his errant kite on the open playa, the site of a stallion seemingly emerging from the playa surface, the joy of lighting the city with my campmates, the love of people who I had just met … these are the indelible memories of Year One.

Lamplighter processional on the playa.  Everyone is welcome to participate.

Lamplighter processional on the playa. Everyone is welcome to participate.

For many years after that first burn, I kept the 2005 Lamplighter’s charm around my neck to remind me that during Burning Man I was always a better, younger person than I was in my default life.  Then the string that held it broke, and I misplaced the charm.  The memories of my first burn faded, as our annual preparations became more complex. We now had an RV to prepare, and we made more costumes, clothing and gifts.  Burning Man was still fun, but I lost a lot of the original pureness of Year One.  It happens.

I found my 2005 charm again the other day, and it’s back around my neck helping me recall that sense of wonder that made me love the burn in the first place.  It feels like this is the year when I’ll get back that original joy.  I can’t wait to cross the Greeter’s Stations and become part of Black Rock City and the Burner community again.

Yeah, I’m still apprehensive (I’m a worrier – a skill I learned from my late mother).  Will we have trouble with the RV?  Will the weather turn nasty?  Will I remember to pack everything I need?

But I’m ready for all those concerns to melt away in the blaze of sunlight and the warmth of love that is Burning Man.  I can’t wait to hear the words, “Welcome home.”  I’m ready to be Perky again, to experience the utter joy of life in the week-long world that is Burning Man.

See you on the Playa.  Look for us at Lamplighter’s Village, and be sure to come and light the city with us at least once while you’re at the burn. There’s a nightly party at Lamplighter’s Village from 3-5, followed by the magnificent pageantry of the lamplighting processional. Or join Lashes and me at 8 a.m. each day as part of the morning pick-up crew that gathers lamps and bring them back to the Lamplighter’s Chapel.  It’s a less formal affair, but you still hear the cry of “Thank you, Lamplighters” as we retrieve more than 900 kerosene lanterns from the stanchions along the main roads of BRC.

Have a safe and joyous trip to the desert!

You’re Almost Home

We’re only weeks away from what many of us call FOP (feet on the playa), and preparations are now in the hot and heavy phase.  For us, that means getting the RV into desert-worthy condition, fashioning or rehabbing our costumes, powering up the EL wire and headlamps, and checking the bikes for structural integrity (and air in the tires).  Soon we’ll be stocking up on food, drinks and a multitude of libidinous libations that turn our plain old RV into a party house.

I’ve been keeping an eye on ticket sales, and again this year it’s beginning to look like many tickets purchased early in the year are going up for re-sale.  If you still need a ticket, check out the OMG sale that Burning Man is holding on August 7, beginning at noon.  According to the website, 1,000+ tickets will be offered at this sale.  But sources tell me the number will actually be closer to 4,000 tickets.  All tickets will be sold at the standard price of $380, and will be available only for “will-call” pick-up (no deliveries this close to the event).  I believe the standard $12 per order charge for “will-call” service will be added to the price.

However, to be eligible for the sale, you need to have completed your Burner Profile by August 1 (too late if you haven’t already done it), and pre-register for the sale by August 5 at noon. Check out all the details here.

An genuine Burning Man ticket.  Accept no substitutes!

A genuine Burning Man ticket. Accept no substitutes!

Of course, you can always try to find a ticket on Craigslist or eBay, but beware of scams and scalper pricing.  To make certain a ticket you buy from someone is genuine, ask the seller to show you the invoice that is sent out by Burning Man with the ticket.  Any ticket holder should also have received a 2013 Survival Guide, which you can also ask to see.

Taking care of the RV is critical as we prepare to drive out to Black Rock City.  That means getting the engine fully checked out (belts, hoses, brakes, etc.), changing the oil, and make sure the generator is in tip-top condition.  It’s a terrible feeling to have a problem on your way to or out on the playa.  We know because it happens to us almost every year.  A few years back, we lost a tire shortly after leaving the house and ended up having to replace the four rear tires on the beast.  Last year, we had a serious generator malfunction mid-burn that ended up requiring a new starter motor.

Fortunately, TPP – the playa provides – and one of our fellow Lamplighters loaned us a generator for the duration.  This year, we’re hoping to find a way to keep some of the dust out of the generator (any and all ideas are welcome).

We’ll be back at Lamplighters again this year, and hope to see some of you there to help light the city.  We host a daily 3-5 p.m. party at Lamplighters’ Lounge, followed by the Lamplighting ceremony.  You don’t want to miss the opportunity to participate at least once as a Lamplighter.  You’ll receive our unique 2013 charm for your efforts.  But best of all, you’ll be part of one of the playa’s most enduring traditions – lighting the city with nearly 1,000 kerosene lanterns.

Time is short for making arrangements to go to Burning Man if you haven’t already done so, and planning your trip is something that shouldn’t be left until the last minute.  Most people pass through Reno on their way to the Burn, and many stores have equipped themselves to outfit us Burners as we head out to the desert.  Here’s a list of Reno area shops that stock up for especially for us.

See you on the playa!