Heading to Burning Man in four hours. The first time I went was in 2006. I'd been going to burns for just over a year. I had been to Transformus twice and PDF twice and that was it. Alchemy and Camp Science wouldn't exist for another year.
Jump forward to today... This will be my fifth time. The most important thing I'm doing is trying out to be a Ranger. It's not easy. You have to have been to Burning Man twice before. You have to do a full day of training. You have to do a try-out shift, called an "alpha shift." I did all that in 2012 and got "bonked," which is their version of "not good enough." I was told I wasn't outgoing enough. Understandable, since I tend to close up around big groups of strangers. On the other hand, my alpha partner was a cute 25 year old hippie girl who was the volunteer coordinator for a northern burn. She was as outgoing as five normal people. Next to her, i seemed like a cardboard cutout of a person. Still, I got bonked, and I've gone through training again, and have a few Black Rock Rangers on my side. I truly hope I make it. It feels like the thing I am supposed to do out there. I saw an interview with Danny Trejo, the actor. He's an ex con who now spends his free time trying to help addicts stay clean and kids stay out of jail. He said "Everything good that has ever happened to me has happened as a direct result of helping someone else. Everything." That's what I think I need to be doing too. So I want to wander around in the desert with a clear head and a radio and help people.
I've got friends all over the playa I hope to see. I've got a bag full of cameras. I want to make Ranger. But most of all, I want to walk along the playa, experience the city of Black Rock and see things I would never imagine I would see.
My stuff leaves for Burning Man in one week.
I leave for Burning Man in two weeks.
I am excited, and underprepared.
After nearly 10 years at Georgia Tech, I resigned. I've accepted a new position at Habitat for Humanity. I'll be doing the same stuff I did at Tech. I'll be getting a big raise out of it, which is nice. I'll be losing a bit of vacation, which is less nice.
The sad part is that I would have been happy to continue at Georgia Tech, but they just couldn't pay me what I can make outside. Well, they could, but several kinds of bureaucracy stand in the way.
I keep realizing just how many bits of my life will change: new insurance. new gym. new retirement. new coworkers. new view.
Life is pretty much tipped towards awesome these days.
- Good at my job. Still like doing it. Boss loves me. Might get a raise this summer. They're sending me to LA for a week in May
- Got made the photo lead for Euphoria. My friends got made Effigy leads. I really love working for the organization.
- Still love shooting photos. I've got a few regular collaborators who I make awesome art with on a regular basis. Friends are sending models my way all the time. Friends of friends I've never met are asking to shoot with me.
- I like my roommates and their pets.
- My cousin is coming to visit.
- Money is tight. Car needs scheduled maintenance. Cats are overdue for vet visits. House could use thousands of dollars in work. Heat pump is crappy and dying, and it will cost something like $5k for a new one.
- Still single as always.
- I seem to be drifing away from some of my oldest freinds.
So most days I'm quite happy. None of my problems are unfixable. I'm good.
Today seems... odd. Normal people seem strange. Pervy freaks and internet weirdos seem like normal people.
I've got another case of "Life is about to get really interesting for a good long time."
In ten days I'm off to Burning Man. For the first time, I'll be trying out to be a Black Rock Ranger. If I get accepted, it's a big step towards becoming part of the event, and changing the way I think about Burns. Here in the Southeast, I'm the guy who runs a large and popular theme camp, known for being generally awesome. I gladly take any praise thrown my way, but I'm always trying to make it clear that I'm a figurehead. I organize several groups that do their own thing, and do it very well. I try hard to keep everyone in the loop and working well together. It works well and it makes me happy. Out there, I'm a much smaller fish in a much, MUCH larger pond. It's a lot of pressure off me, but I feel like I should be helping more. So I took the Atlanta Ranger training class and I'm signed up for a trial shift on the playa. If I make it, I'll be Ranger Shadow Ink and i'll be out on playa patrol, helping burners in need.
I'll be bringing eight virgins to the playa, and six friends I've camped with before. It's going to be an interesting time.
As soon as I get back, I start planning for Alchemy.
As soon as Alchemy is over, I play a fire breathing bridge troll the month of October. I guess I'll sleep in the winter...
Life is goddamn busy. The boss has been on vacation almost two weeks, and we were short-staffed before he left.
Friday I had work, then a friends birthday party, then went to a club.
Saturday I had a photoshoot, then a BBQ, then another BBQ.
Sunday I had a photoshoot.
Tuesday is a shoot after work.
Wednesday is a shoot after work.
Thursday is big chinese food dinner with friends.
Friday is Ritual.
Saturday is Ranger Training, then Anthrax, Motorhead and Slayer at the Mayhem festival.
I leave for Burning Man in 47 days.
I know at least 5 more people I want to shoot with in the next few weeks while it is still summer. I need to find a body of water to try underwater shoots in.
I also need to fix up my house, pay off my debts, lose weight, work out more, and generally be productive, but all that can wait.
This past weekend I went to Euphoria and had a wonderful time. My camp, Camp SCIENCE! brought a bunch of people and their associated ideas and we got a lot of love for what we did. My roommates brought a camp called Bartertown with a full fighting ring, including an electrified fence that fried hippies all weekend.
Summer is here, and I am trying to plan it. I need to fix up a lot of thing around my house, organize my life, my things, and my plans for the future. I also want to do all the photoshoots. I have a few unique ones lined up.
I haven't been going to the gym in months, and that needs to be fixed too. First I sprained my ankle, then I sprained it again, then I got poison ivy, then I was just lazy. The ankle is better, the itching is fading, but the lazy is still here.
I'm in the process of planning for Burning Man now. I don't have a ticket, but I expect I will get one. I've requested off three full weeks, so I can even drive there and back if I want. We shall see how that goes.
I've resurrected my website as a photoblog. I'm going to be posting a bunch of old stuff and some new stuff too. If I can't shoot, then I'll damn well talk about what I was shooting!
Check out http://shadowink.net
I always say I'm going to post more here, then I fail to do so. I read every day, but lately it seems to be so much effort to come up with more than a sentence or two to say, which gets sent to Google+ and Facebook.
Ever heard the old chinese curse "may you live in interesting times?" Well, I work in interesting times. Last summer we got a new chair (bosses boss) of the school. She's pretty smart, but does have a bit of a "last minute" strategy for doing things. Last month she needed something RIGHT NOW at 8am and I wasn't at my desk. The Chair, her assistant and the rest of the front office staff all freaked out. I've got a sleep disorder that makes it difficult for me to fall asleep before 2am, so I've been coming in at 10am since I started here 4.75 years ago. I was at home, awake and getting ready when I got the call from my boss. I had the stuff they wanted ready in about 2 minutes, but the Chair was pissed she didn't have me directly in front of her, so she made my boss set my hours to be 8am-5pm.
To get to work at 8am, I need to wake up at 7am. Since I still don't fall asleep until 2-3am, this means I'm getting 4-5 hours of sleep a night. As the week progresses, I'm getting dumber and dumber. By Friday afternoons I'm downright retarded.
The HR lady is helping me file paperwork under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to get everything straightened out. Both of my immediate bosses don't have a problem with it, but they don't want to incur the wrath of their boss.
In non-work related matters, life is pretty awesome. I road tripped for the week from Christmas to New Years. I saw an abandoned hospital, an old friend from high school, my awesome cousins, and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones (twice!).
Today I registered for tickets for Burning Man. Next month I head to Vegas to perform my 12th wedding. In my spare time I still take lots of pictures. I really want to redo my website to highlight my new photography, but after building websites all day, when I get home, I just want to be lazy and be a ninja in Skyrim.