Friday, April 30, 2010

Inspiration in the workplace

Hey all, Playa Lit here.

This past week our agency had a training for our office managers. We have offices scattered across SE Oklahoma and each one has an office manager. We don't spend enough time making sure that these ladies are given attention, so once a year we have a training. They get to come together, have questions answered and feel like they have a place and a voice in their own workplace. My piece of this puzzle each year is one of reminding them that we all have "tools in our toolbox" to get through our days.

The first year we did this I worked on taking a literal breath when the frustration sets in. Stretching and moving when we've been sitting in front of our brain sucking computer screens for 6 hours straight. Creativity in their office. Yes, people, being a clerical person can be creative. This year, I took 5 minutes to show them my new visual "tool" that I have been using for 3 months and will use until August. My golden ticket! I have framed my Burning Man ticket and given it a shelf in my office. Every day when I'm dragging I take a peek at it and remind myself that this is my reward. I like to also think it reminds those I work with that I WILL be going on a legit vakay.

What I told the ladies is that they too can find something to put up in their office that is all about themselves. Not just pictures of family or other responsibilities. What is their escape that their paycheck will fuel?

Burning Man as a workplace inspiration. Rawk on.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Dust dreamin'

The amount of sheer determination and Will power it takes on any given day to not spend hours during work, randomly looking up pictures and video clips of Burning Man is astounding.

I find as I do stroll through the pictures and clips that I'm not only looking at what sights I can look forward to beholding, but that I am now learning. I'm learning what camps there are and what they will resemble. What tents tend to blow away and where the best shade is. Yesterday, I saw what the road into Black Rock looks like as the people in the cars sit patiently waiting their turn to head down the driveway into "home". Today I enjoyed looking at pictures of the camp I'm going to volunteer for and learned how they post the sign up sheets for the jobs every day. I find myself noticing the footwear (Playa dust is highly alkaline, so care of feet is a huge topic), water bags/packs/bottles/belts, headgear (head rags, hats, helmets, to braid or not to braid), goggles (I really would love to talk to a veteran Burner that wears glasses to see what the tricks are to wearing any eye covering) and the list goes on and on.....

These pictures into this world are not just snapshots, but windows for the newbies.

Monday, April 26, 2010

Even fabulous burners need *facilities*...

The Playa rivals Australia's Outback in the heat and desolation department. You'd think we'd be very concerned with how we're going to store water and food, keep cool, protect ourselves from the blistering sun and recover from that special spa service offered at Burning Man known as the "Exfoliating Sand Storm Treatment".

Up until now, most of the conversations we have indulged in have been about *fashion* on the Playa. Do we go all lit up or do we steampunk out? Do we do both or neither? Work boots or roman sandals? Coveralls or tutus? Tribal warpaint or Elvira vamp eyeliner? Feathers or tulle? Glittery skin or bejewelled cheekbones? LED fiber optic mohawk or cool neon headdress? We can't wear this stuff to work, kids. It's understandable that we might want to spend a bit of time contemplating how we might replace our mundane outer facades with the pleasant regalia of our inner wild thangs. And our inner wild thangs are forces to be reckoned with. Jean Paul Gauttier would be shivering in a corner, sucking his thumb and begging for his mommy were he exposed to some of our ideas. But that's another blog entry.

Fashion aside, the practicalities of daily life in the long black night of the Playa still have to be planned for, as well. There will be an ice vendor and porta-privies and that does help, but lets get real here. This place is *huge* and there are no electric lights. It's pitch black at night. Let's just suppose, hypothetically speaking, one of our Ya-Ya's had to use the *facilities* in the middle of that dark, directionless night. Let's imagine that our pee-pee-dance-doin' Ya-Ya is actually lucid enough to find the privies. Will she be lucid enough to find her way *back*??? And what if our burner hops around aimlessly, knees together, never finding the privies *or* the way back to camp?? Makes me shiver just to think about it. And what of all that dust? It would sure be nice to get at least a *little* clean during our stay in Black Rock City.

Geekery to the rescue. Bing Queen...Google Goddess...Ebay Empress. That's me. Meet our new shower/privy tent. Wooden grate floor to keep feet clean. 5-gallon solar shower (fueled, I think, by melted cooler ice...remember that all-important ice vendor) and a 2.5 gallon camping privy. There were some more modern versions with "no see-um" mesh, built-in floors and cubbies for your shampoo and such, but I like the personality of this one. Honestly, I didn't even see the others until after this one *arrived*. LOL...yeah I'm a real internet shopping *guru*. *snort* All of this privacy *and* stripes for $34.99 plus shipping. I'm thinking a way-cool sign for the top, "Ya-Ya Superhero Changing Booth" or some such nonsense.

Next stop...transportation...anyone know where I can find training wheels for a mountain bike??

All your dreams will come true, it can happen to you, if you're young at heart....

A born again virgin, yes I am. I've got many tags in computer land. I go by Marcia, Mara, Ecstaticlght, sometimes Miss Light, but right here, right now, I'm Playa Lit. For those that like labels to help themselves wrap their minds around "who" a person is, I'm 49, single, mom, grandmom, Pagan, musician, administrator (in the mundane world) and experiencing that piece of a lifetime where youth seems to rear up one last time and gives us a chance to get out and play. Hard.

I looked up when it was I first started reading about Burning Man and realized I've been waiting 14 years to have my turn. FOURTEEN years. I had been reading Free Will Astrology and followed a link to Burning Man. At that time in my life I was re-discovering my inner Pagan and was all about Beltaine, when I found the article. I determined right then, that I was going to get to see this "man" burn. It was like reading about a dream. Desert sand, giant art, freedom to be whomever you wanted to be, spirituality, and at the end was a giant fire ritual straight out of my Celtic desires.

I've spent years whining when I heard that friends were going to the Playa and I had yet to go. None of them were local. I needed someone local to go with. It wasn't an experience I wanted to attempt on my own, considering the travel distance and lack of knowledge about what to expect on the road or on the Playa. Two years ago, I attended a concert and listened to a song that sent me off into a lovely place. Tears came and then something inside said, "make a wish". I cupped my hands and breathed life into my wish. I was surprised and delighted to find my true wish was to go to Burning Man, so up I sent it like a bird. A chill ran through me and the tears came again. It was real. It was manifest. It was what was in my heart. Now, here I am, after finding an old high school friend that has been as revved to go to the Burn as I have been. Think of the odds that in Oklahoma, where most people have no clue what Burning Man is, that just before a 30th reunion I'd find a high school classmate that just happened to be a Burner in the making? Wishes come true, if they come from inside and from your truth.

Believe it or not, but I've never taken a vacation. Not a family visit, not off for a weekend of training or class, but a real vacation. This is it. Work will be far away. Life will be what it is. My inner Self will meet my outer Self. The two will align and I will find a piece of myself that is whole, happy and joyful for 7 days in a burning desert, in a temporary city with people I've never met before.

What is Burning Man? Life.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Elementary School and the YaYa Sisterhood

This is Playa Lit. She'll be posting here, too, as soon as we both figure out how to have two authors. She's the other "Ya-Ya" and someone that I've known since elementary school. We weren't close when we were in school, but we were part of a group of students that clung together in their combined "geekitude". Yes, we were in orchestra. Playa Lit is a violist. I'm a violinist. We both dabble in other stringed things and both of us can usually figure out anything musical if given a few minutes. She pointed out once that, if there had been Goths back when we were in high school, we would have been Hot Topic junkies. I don't know how Goth I would've been, but I would have been *so* dressed in those Hot Topic corsets. If I weren't 50 and afraid of becoming a caricature, I'd be wearing them *now*. PL pulls it off, so she's a Hot Topic chick, albeit on a more subdued level than her teenage counterparts.

Playa Lit is the reason I refer to us as Ya-Yas. She announced a couple of weeks ago that we were turning into Ya-Yas. Since I'd never seen the movie or read the book (still haven't), I needed an explanation of exactly what I was turning into, which she quickly snatched out of the air, "Singular, survivor, free spirited, loyal, southern and bit scarred & twisted. What my granny called characters. "

Groovy. I didn't think I had quite made it to character status yet, but I can deal with this. Fortunately, I have not yet "dropped my basket", although some may think so now that it's common knowledge that Burning Man is on the schedule and written in ink.

We are Shangri-la....

Nine years ago, while watching the Travel Channel, I stumbled on a program called "Weird Wheels". It was basically about people who create art cars and many of the cars profiled were filmed at an event known as "Burning Man". The program gave a brief description of the event and I was instantly fascinated. Burning Man, for the uninitiated, is a "hedonistic art happening" in the desert of northwestern Nevada. In the vast nothingness, a city of 10,000+ people is built...Black Rock City. There are no facilities, only desert. The inhabitants live off of whatever they can carry in. The atmosphere is artistic and irreverently bohemian....tribal. At the end of a long week of performance, art installations, activities and survival, the gigantic wooden Man that presides over the week's events is ceremonially burnt...a sacrament to the continuation of the tribe. Then, in respect for the place that hosted this week of frivolity, all trace is removed and the site is left as pristine as it was found.

Over the years, I've toyed with the idea of going, but have always been held back by obligations, money or just the fear of how I'll survive out in the desert with no facilities. I'm asthmatic and prone to heat exhaustion which seems like enough reason to stay home, but I'm also determined and a little crazy. I'm 50 years old, a survivor with grown children, mature responsibilities and a hunger for adventure. It is my time. So, together with my friend, Playa Lit, I've taken the plunge and bought my $300 ticket. I'm headed to the Playa on a wing and a prayer using the best laid plans an overly analytical Capricorn can devise.

I'm Starwindangel. Let the wild rumpus begin!!