Sunday, September 7, 2008

the Burning Man Diva - self care or bust.

So last week I was at the Burning Man festival in Nevada - six days of art, community, consciousness, and dust in the Black Rock Desert. Here are some pictures.

It was a really interesting place to be - one of the central tenets of this festival is "radical self-reliance" - ie the old "go do this thing for me" routine just ain't gonna wash.

And speaking of "ain't gonna wash" ... the showers were few and far between and delicious when they happened. (I recall a wonderful hour spend bathing my friend C., who looks like a kind of sporty-spice Adonis, on a shower pedestal with no curtains. This community shower thing was turning out to be kind of a plus.)

Anyway, I wanted to write about the redefinition of self-care and self awareness that happened to me out there. The relationship between my mind and my body was basically overturned. In the hierarchy of Cass' life, the brain usually takes the dominant position. I don't know about you, but I'm often able to override my body when my body says "it's time to nap" or " hey, I need food" or "lady, put that coffee pot DOWN." Because sometimes ya just have to push on through, get the job done, persevere. But not out there. Because when you're in the middle of the desert, you have to listen to your body. If you try to hit the override button out there, your body just goes "oh, yeah?" and boom! there you are on your ass, crying like a baby over nothing. You don't really need a hug. You just need electrolytes.

So I took on a lot of responsibility for my first year at the Burn. And when I wasn't doing what I had committed to do, the focus really became about self-care. Here's the thing - I'm a total glamarama diva type but I've never had a pedicure or a manicure. (I told this to my diva New Yorker friend Birgitta and she looked at me and just said. "What? Can I touch you?") But out there, in the dust, you feel like every bit of moisture is being sucked out of your skin - your hands and arms feel papery and soft, and other parts get all angry and chafed. You have to take care of yourself - and I don't mean in that "chamomile tea and yoga" kind of way, I mean in the "put some cream on that or it's gonna fall off" kind of way.

It was thus that I discovered the joy of the foot massage and pedicure. Soft socks at night. Clean socks three times a day. And Anti Monkey Butt powder. Yeah, I ain't too proud to admit it. We liked saying Monkey Butt so much that we actually used it a little more than was strictly necessary. It sounds so corny, so Oprah, but I actually learned how important it was to literally take care of myself.

And I put lots and lots of blue glittery eyeshadow on people. And I played Peep Show Mini Golg and rode the Soul Train.

It was a fantastic experience and I look forward to next year already.

Oh, and in case you're wondering, this photo is how Divas live on the Playa. Well, Divas who can't afford an RV.

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