A Newbie gets ready to Burn in 2007

Written before my first trip to Burning Man in 2007. How preparing for the event might look through the eyes of a newbie…

So, I’m going to Burning Man this year. I’m starting to get really excited about the trip. It will be MY FIRST TIME!!! My husband has been the last 2 years and he loves it.

I’m going out for five days from the middle to the Burn. My husband goes out for the whole ten day experience. He helps setup and breakdown the camp. I’m looking forward to an outstanding camping experience. I’ve seen pictures and heard some wonderful stories….which brings me to the preparations we’re doing now, at home. 

We’re working on some creative endeavors here. One of my friends and I have made some beautiful glass pendants and I will be stringing those and adding beads in a couple of weeks. They have a tiny Burning Man encased under glass!

This weekend I dyed about 30 wife-beater teeshirts green. I wanted them to be kind of funky, not brand new and shiny, but kind of aged. The theme for Burning Man this year is Green Man so I wanted to stay with that recycled look. I dyed them, hung them on the clothesline, then gave them a cold water bath and then dried them in the dryer to finally set the dye. I will add a block print to them this week. I hand-carved my own version of the Burning Man out of foam and made a print block which I will use with fabric paint to transfer my design to the teeshirts in red. My design is a Burning Girl. She has wild curly hair and is wearing a mini skirt and little tiny pumps. I’m in luv with her 🙂

I also did some recycled Idea Shirts. These are some of my husband’s old teeshirts and I’ve made little stories in pictures that I cut out in felt. Then I’ve machine sewn and also hand-sewn in a primitive fashion to the fronts of the shirts. One story starts out as a seed, then a sprig, then a huge tree and finally a gigantic Burning Man. Get it?

Another big “getting ready” event has to do with “what to bring”. This has taken up endless hours for me with doing research online. My first worry was what food to bring. Our camp cooks these amazing dinners each night so we’re covered there. I’m sure we’ll never go hungry out there, but you kind of want to be somewhat self sufficient. So I’ve been perusing websites on food that will last in Black Rock City. There’s not much to choose from. The official BM site said something like this; “if you pick it up in the supermarket to put in your basket think for a moment about how it will smell after a few days in the hot desert. Fill your head with this smell. If it makes you gag put it back. Don’t buy it. It’s not worth it.” Makes you feel all warm and fuzzy just reading that, huh? My husband could eat PB&J’s everyday, but I need variety. After much research I kind of have a list going that makes me happy about breakfast and lunch.

Then there’s equipment.

This weekend we went in search of new tents and came home to put all of our other tents together here before making a purchase. My husband was digging around in the shelves and he hands me this grimy, dust-covered piece of crap tent that doesn’t even have a bag anymore. I don’t want to touch it. It’s gross. “Hey” he says in his stern-man voice, “you better get used to that because everything will be covered with that dust before long. You better get used to it NOW.” I can almost hear a “Grrrrr….ruff ruff….grrrrrrrr” as he says this to me.

I’m still curling my nose. I’m also debating whether or not to tell him that sleeping in dust and crude compounded over a few years time after never being cleaned is not necessarily a badge of honor.

I should probably interject here with a few caveats on me. I’m a pink ribbon kind of girl. Or as one friend says, “a hair dryer” kind of girl. Honestly, when I started thinking about menus I couldn’t get past “what? no microwave? no stove?” I will be bringing a pillow to sleep on and taking birdbaths and showers whenever possible out there. I can stand a little funk, but when it’s avoidable, I avoid it.

Do I want to start out in a semi cleaned tent? You bet your ass I do.

When he takes the tent out of the bag that he took to Burning Man last year, he sees that it is spotless. That’s because I cleaned it the week he came home. He’s amazed. I’m happy.

On the list of equipment is a pee bucket. I know what you’re thinking…don’t they have pottys there? And yes, they do, but how far away they are is another challenge. To pee in the middle of the night could be a pain in the ass (pun intended) if you have to walk a half mile just to get to a toilet. Most everyone will have their own little pee bucket in their tents. It’s pretty simple just to empty it and keep it clean. And yes, I can empty it in the porta potty the next day, but the only thing I can put in the potty is what comes out of my body and 1-ply tissue, nothing else.

Planning is moving along and I am learning more about myself everyday as we spiral towards our departure for Burning Man date. I think this may be a challenge and a growth experience for me. I’m looking forward to the person I’ll be when the event ends and we drive off of the playa together.

My husband says we’re marinating getting ready for the fire…

Present Day Note: Since this post I have been to Burning Man three times. Every time I attend I experience an astronomical growth spurt. Last year I decided to fully embrace the experience and explore and learn as much as I could about the reasons Burning Man can have such a powerful impact on the attendees. I got together with a group of talented artists and we collectively wrote a grant, attended the event as Honorarium and created one of the largest art installations on the playa that adhered to every one of the ten Burning Man principles.

Today I can look in the mirror, the one that still shines back a *pink ribbon kind of girl*, and I see a Burner.

Thank you Burning Man.

About Madeline Scribes

A writer with a sense of humor. If anyone can laugh at life, it's me.
This entry was posted in All kinds of Advice, Artsy and Poetic and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A Newbie gets ready to Burn in 2007

  1. DhammaSeeker says:

    If a pink ribbon kind of girl like you can happily become a burner then there’s hope yet for my wife! Thank you for a great post!


    • madelinelaughs says:

      Thank you! Please tell your wife that once she arrives on the playa to embrace the culture and the atmosphere. It may be tough at first, but as long as she takes care of herself, wearing her face mask during dusty times, wearing sunscreen, keeping her goggles close at hand and staying hydrated, she will find that Burning Man will embrace her back.

      Every year I attend I find out something new about myself. Every year I grow and become more confident, more open and less controlling.

      She will love it!


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