Category Archives: Burning Man

Shea Butter Deodorant!

I’ve been babying a minor ankle sprain so it won’t turn into something worse before the Gale Force show at the end of the month, but it’s starting to feel a bit better, so yesterday I did some dishes and made some deodorant.

Why deodorant?

A] As previously established, I’m a sweaty beast, and using deodorant is simply the polite thing to do if your job involves manhandling[1] other humans. It allows my partners to work with a merely sweaty beast instead of a sweaty, stanky beast.

Nobody … or, well, almost nobody wants to dance with someone who smells like an entire disappointment[2] of teenage boys. Or, at least, not in this context.

  1. In case you’re wondering, this was an actual direction for a dance I’m learning right now: “Just really manhandle her” 😁 Apparently my natural partnering style is quite gentle 🤔
  2. I’m not sure what the right aggregate noun is, but I bet any number of parents would agree that “a disappointment of teenage boys” sounds about right … Or maybe a disagreement?

B] There’s a brand of deodorant that I really like that uses the same set of ingredients … But it costs $10/tube and I’m a bit skint, as it were. (America really needs to adopt the use of the word “skint.”)

C] It looked really easy, and I needed to accomplish something because I’ve been struggling of late. Like WM says, don’t even bother with a double-boiler. I made my batch right in a jelly jar.

I followed Wellnessmama’s recipe for share/coconut oil deodorant fairly exactly … which is to say that I was a bit cavalier with my measurements in that I didn’t obsessively level the shea butter or coconut oil.

Apparently I haven’t decided whether I want to smell French or Australian, because I added lavender and eucalyptus essential oils. That said, I kept the amounts very small, because strong scents are deeply unwelcome in the dance studio.

Anyway, here’s the end result:

A half-pint Mason jelly jar containing a creamy-colored substance, capped and sitting on the arm of a purple sofa.

Shea Butter/Coconut Oil deodorant, version 1.0

It turns out that this formulation won’t stay solid in this climate (at least, not in a house without central aircon), so I’m going to remelt it and add more shae butter so I can transfer it to a deodorant dispenser tube.

That said, I tried it yesterday, and it works a treat. This is a deodorant rather than an antiperspirant, but I haven’t noticed that I’m any sweatier using this than I am using my usual commercial antiperspirant.

I might stay dryer using a “clinical strength” antiperspirant, but of late they tend to give me hives, which leaves me rather disinclined to use them.

I’m now wondering:

  1. Can I make deodorant out of cacao butter?
  2. If yes, will it just make me crave chocolate all day?

So that’s my next bit of DIY deodorant research.

I’ve got some reusable deodorant tubes that I’ll be using to make a portable final product, and I ordered some smaller-size tubes as well so I can make portable Shae butter bars and cacao butter bars to give away at Burning Man.

Shae butter is a fatty acid with lovely soothing qualities, but it remains solid even at pretty high ambient temperatures, which makes it the perfect antidote for Playa Foot, which is caused by the extremely alkaline dust of the dry lakebed that is the Playa.

I haven’t tried using cacao butter on the Playa, but I suspect it’ll be great, too. It stays harder than shae, however, so I might need to blend it with something like coconut oil to lower the melting point a little.

That said, cacao butter will happily melt if you leave it in a hot car, so maybe I’ll maybe some pure cacao bars so people can leave them in their hydration packs with less danger of creating a permanent chocolate-scented oilstain. Hmmm.

I’ll have to think about that one.

Danseur Ignoble: the Playa Plague

We had a rough burn this year – lots of chaos during setup week, then I came down with what we’re calling “the Playa Plague,” which closely resembles a proper bout of ‘flu. I spent the last two and a half days of burn week in bed, feverishly griped my way through tear-down, departure, and all the airports, then went back to bed for another two days. I’m still coughing and “feeling puny,” as it were, but the fever at least seems to have abated.

Needless to say, ballet-related Playa plans were greatly modified over the course of the burn. We had fun doing the first couple of barre classes; the performances, on the other hand, didn’t get off the ground this year because it’s really pretty hard to direct a performance, let alone perform, when you’re in bed with a fever, hacking cough, and no voice o.O

I’ll have to plan for that contingency next year — somehow, it hadn’t even occurred to me that being rather seriously ill on the Playa was even a possibility. I also think I’m going to schedule less stuff — one or two Open Barre sessions, a Taupe Party (which is the logical follow-up to Wednesday night’s White Party), and one performance event, for which I’ll have to appoint a deputy director in case my immune system decides to crap out on me again.

In other ways, this year’s burn was possibly the best yet for me. During the time that I was still up and about, I rolled around the Playa with our camp family on an amazing Mutant Vehicle while our friend John DJed an awesome set, had an utterly transcendental 4AM walkabout with amazing friends, provided ice-schlepping services and improvised dance performances at Arctica, and danced for hours with complete strangers to hits of the disco era in our own little cozy dance bar.

…And even when I was lying around in bed being “pale and interesting” (and mostly asleep), in the moments that I was awake I concluded that I’d still rather be where I was than anywhere else on earth.

I did crawl out of bed on Sunday night for the Temple Burn, which meant a lot to me. We’ve never actually been on the Playa for the Temple Burn before, and at the end of the day I feel like the Temple is a locus of significance.

It’s hard to explain why: as in any sacred space, I guess, each person’s experience is different. For whatever reason, my heart and brain have chosen to invest the ever-changing, transient Temple with particular meaning.

I was surprised by that, the first year. Prior to my first burn, my inner cynic staunchly refused to assign spiritual potency to the Temple simply because it’s the Temple; turns out that once we arrived, my inner cynic had no say in the matter. If there’s anywhere on earth that you discover what it means to take things as they come, it’s in the ephemeral cosmopolis of Black Rock City.

Which is, in the end, what this year’s burn was all about, for me: taking things as they come. Things didn’t go as planned (okay, at Burning Man, things never go as planned, but this year they really, really didn’t go as planned) in so many ways, and yet even in the moments of deepest, grumpiest frustration, I would check myself and ask, “Is there anywhere else I’d rather be on earth right now?”

The answer was always no, which reminded me yet again to be here, now.

Which, in the end, is the only way to take Burning Man — you have to be here, now, because it is much more pressingly clear that later on, the here you’re experiencing won’t be.

The same is true, of course, in every other place on earth: it’s just more obvious in a city that’s built, thrives with the vivid intensity of a post-rain desert bloom, and then is demolished again in a matter of weeks.


PS: There were bugs. I counted exactly three: two different wasps (one of which seemed terrifyingly determined to be my BFF, or something like that) and some kind of lacewing-ish thing.

The stinkbugs and seedbugs had moved on by the time we arrived on Monday of Build Week.

Also, the high desert through which one passes to reach the Playa was decked in heartbreaking, shimmering green. I’ve never seen anything like it. I wrote some more coherent thoughts about it, but I’m not sure where I stored them.

Such is life.

Danseur Ignoble: The Final Countdowwwwwwnnnnnn

Da-na-na-naaaa! Da-na-na-na-naaaaaa! Da-na-na—




In only nine days, we’ll be leavin’ on a jet plane for the desert, where we’ll remember our names, ’cause there ain’t no one for to give us no pain (unless we ask really nicely, I guess?). What a nice surprise for our alibis!

Or something like that (you can thank my step-Dad for innoculating me with a healthy appreciation for Classic Rock, though at the time I rolled my eyes about it).

This morning, we ferried the Community Cargo stuff down to Nashville. It will ride from there with a group of Burners who had some large art projects going but had room in their convoy, so that will be cool.

The cool part is that the Community Cargo stuff is set to arrive the day after we do, which will let us get our camp and staging area set up before everything arrives. The even cooler part, of course, is connecting with local Burners (one of whom has already seen me on some of my best and worst days in ballet class).

Predictably, we listened to show tunes all the way down to Nashville. On the way back, we chatted for a while, then Denis napped while I listened to the André Previn recording of Swan Lake that’s available on Amazon Prime (note to self: it is better to listen to show tunes while driving). We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day for a long drive, either.

About an hour ago, the Costume Department informed us that our bolero jackets are done and apparently so cool that the Momma is thinking about making one for herself (she was going to go with a different design).

I am busily finalizing other wardrobe stuff for That Thing In The Desert, including a corsety thing I have never really been brave enough to wear in the past. I think I’ll give it a test run at tomorrow’s party. If I can survive several hours in it, I will probably feel comfortable wearing it on the Playa.

I should note that physical discomfort isn’t the problem (mine isn’t a serious corset — it’s more or less decorative). It’s more that I continue to be shy about my moobs. I figure that if there’s anywhere on earth you can be an androgynous corseted dancing boy with moobs, Burning Man is that somewhere. Besides, if I’m going to wear the skin-tight bodice of my tutu costume thingy, it’s just silly to get all shy about wearing some other skin-tight costume thingy.

Nonetheless, I hope to return next year sans moobs. Really, I don’t really relish the idea of going to Sun King with moobs, mostly because partnering class, and Sun King happens before Burning Man (which happens before Grad School, which is another thing I’d like to do sans moobs).

Oh! Speaking of summer intensives for adult dancers!

I didn’t realize this ’til a few days after the registration deadline (at which point I wasn’t sure we could swing the $900-ish tuition), but Lexington Ballet has an adult intensive. The website notes that it’s geared towards adult beginners, so it sounds like a great option for many of us out there in the Ballet Blog-O-Sphere (even those of us who have progressed beyond the beginner realm can always use some back-to-basics work to tune things up!).

LexBallet’s intensive takes place over the course of five evenings (3.5 hours per night) and one Saturday, which means that out-of-town students would also be able to explore the area a bit. Lexington has been making an effort in recent years to turn into a real college town, with arts and museums and cool bike trails and stuff, and it’s a nice place to visit.

Obviously, it’s a no-go for this year (since it’s already over, and all), but it’s worth looking into for next year.

I’ve dropped them a line to see if they’re planning on doing it again. If they are, I’ll let you know!

Meanwhile, I will try to keep my head together. My energy level is definitely much, much higher than it has been, but my emotional state has been a bit touch-and-go, so I’m trying not to tip myself over into a mixed state. Fortunately, I will be dancing my butt off for the next several weeks, which should help with damage control.

Danseur Ignoble: 11th Hour Costume Fitting — Literally

Tonight we went to pick up our Subaru from Denis’ brother’s house in Elizabethtown and then to my Mother-in-Law’s house for our second fitting for Burning Man costumery things for TuTu Tuesday. We got there at 11 PM, no joke. We are usually in bed by 10:30 or so, so that’s saying something.

Fit on my bodice is now spot-on (it was huge before), so it’s ready for lining (in the pix, it’s wrong-side out). The shrug/bolero thingy is coming along nicely as well, but I didn’t get pictures of mine. Denis has pix of the green lining fabric of his; the outside isn’t constructed yet. My tutu isn’t ready yet, so I didn’t get to try that on, but Denis’ looks respectable.

We opted not to go full pancake, because it is already going to be a grade-A beast getting these things to the Playa and managing them there. Besides, there is a part of me that really feels like I’m not a good enough dancer to deserve a pancake tutu (even in drag :P). I’m in that weird spot where I dance well enough that I feel weird rocking the ironic look, but not well enough that I feel like I can go Full Pancake and really own it.

In short, I am not ready for the Trocks to call just yet 😀

Anyway, here’s tonight’s photodump!

The bodice, wrong-side out.  We opted to do three pieces: bolero jacket, bodice, and tutu.  We'll probably both wear them over unitards.

The bodice, wrong-side out. We opted to do three pieces: bolero jacket, bodice, and tutu. We’ll probably both wear them over unitards.

If anyone isn't sure why I love this man, here you go.

If anyone isn’t sure why I love this man, here you go.

The final version of the bolero jackety thing will be lime green on the inside.  It will also look incredibly cool.

The final version of the bolero jackety thing will be lime green on the inside. It will also look incredibly cool.

I just included this one because I like it.  Doesn't really add much to the equation, but my shoulders look awesome. Also, I'm wearing my glasses in this shot.  Amazing!  (I usually wear contacts, because peripheral vision is awesome.)

I just included this one because I like it. Doesn’t really add much to the equation, but my shoulders look awesome.
Also, I’m wearing my glasses in this shot. Amazing! (I usually wear contacts, because peripheral vision is awesome.)

Denis and our costume department: Aunt Beverly at left and Phyllis — aka "The Momma" — at right.   They told us to say that if anyone asks, they're retired.

Denis and our costume department: Aunt Beverly at left and Phyllis — aka “The Momma” — at right.
They told us to say that if anyone asks, they’re retired.

Oh, and I got my hair cut yesterday. I had it cut extra, extra short so I won’t have to get it trimmed before we head for the desert.

Tomorrow we’re driving to Nashville on Porchlight Express business, so I’ll be doing double class on Saturday again. Saturday night, we’re going to a partay! w00t!

I will, of course, post pictures of the whole shebang when it’s ready. I am, as you’ve probably figured out, not what one would call camera-shy, though I am pretty sure that these pictures are about as close to naked as I’ve ever been on the internet. So there’s that.

Oh, yeah -- and this is because I just can't resist meming my husband.

Oh, yeah — and this is because I just can’t resist meming my husband.

Back … ish.

(That wasn’t actually intended to be a play on the title of the TV series Black-ish, though that seems to be a fairly thoughtful sitcom, as sitcoms go, from the tiny bits I’ve seen of it.)

So I’m back on my meds (huzzah!) as of this afternoon and, as such, improving in terms of overall function … which is good, because the drain in our kitchen sink chose tonight to explode, and I would have had a flat-out meltdown about that if it had happened yesterday. Fortunately, I married McGayver, who can fix that kind of thing.

I’m doing the job applications thing and it’s going well — had an interview this morning for a position that sounds like pretty much a lock (unless I’ve been convicted in absentia for some kind of crime I committed in my sleep?), though it turns out there are no seasonal positions open ’til September. I could have started next weekish as a permanent employee, but it wouldn’t be terribly convenient for the company, as I’d have to run off for two solid weeks for Burning Man.

Unless I find something that’s really relevant to my studies and/or sounds really compelling, I’ll probably take that job in the fall. It sounds like a good fit for what I want right now — an active, rather than a sedentary, workplace; decent pay; hours that mesh nicely with ballet. Shouldn’t hurt the fitness bit, either.

I’ll need to finally get an actual driver’s license, since the job in question may potentially involve actually driving, but that’s in the plans anyway.

I’m still working for Denis’ Burning Man project and feeling ever-more-useful in that regard. Tonight I set us up with a G+ page, even though I still feel kind of iffy about social media as a marketing platform. For this project, though, since it’s primarily a do-gooder collectivist kind of gig, I don’t really mind 🙂

On Glassdoor this morning, I spotted a listing for a web developer with some knowledge of WordPress and Drupal, as well as some command of your general web languages (HTML, PHP, CSS). I’m kind of kicking around the idea of applying for that. The upside is that the pay would very likely be pretty nice; the downside, of course, is that most development jobs are desk jobs, and I’m not really super into that whole idea. Been there, done that, decided it wasn’t for me.

Our finances are on the mend. Since it took about two solid years of complete and utter miscommunication to blow them up, it’ll probably take a few months to get them 100% back on track. Until then, we’ll be wearing our dance belts a little tighter* 😉

*Actually, mine keeps getting looser, but that’s a different kettle of worms.

My toe is healing. I’m still on the fence about Saturday class. Tomorrow’s out; it’s definitely not ready for Intermediate, and Essentials is cancelled tomorrow. I was able to ride the bike a bit today without driving the toe crazy, but I’d rather let it really heal before I try to push it.

I’ve noticed that Fusion Fitness Dance is back on the calendar, so maybe I’ll give that a whirl at some point, too. That depends on the finances, though. If we’re going to be tight enough that I can only do class two or three times per week for the next while, I don’t want to add a non-technique class.

I guess I’m also going to try not to spring back too quickly from this depression. I tend to decide that “feeling somewhat better = feeling 100% better,” then overtax myself and crash even harder. I hope maybe I’ve learned that lesson by now.

I’ve also learned that, while I now know that there is not, in fact, a famous band called Holland Oats, Harlan Oats, or Haulin’ Oats, I still don’t really know from 80s music. Did you know that “Danger Zone” was a Kenny Loggins song? I sure didn’t until just now. Thanks, Amazon Prime Music.

So that’s it for tonight.

Stay out of the Danger Zone.

You know, unless that’s where you want to be, in which case, carry on.

Quickie: Spring Break II, Treading Water But Feeling OkayD

It’s Spring Break week for Ballet this week, so I have no class (I’m trying to avoid the obvious jokes here, since I’m sure I’ve used them all before). This is handy, because I’m in the middle of writing my final paper for my Buddhism class, preparing for the final exam in my Entomology class, and finishing the PorchLight Express website.

Yesterday, I met with my boss for my performance review, and it was great. That was a huge relief, as it’s actually kind of hard to figure out how well you’re doing your job when you’re in your first term as an SI leader. At one point, Ryan said, “When are you graduating, in May? That’s too bad. I mean — not for you! But it would’ve been nice to have you around longer.”

That felt really good!

I feel like I’m learning and growing a lot this semester — not just as a student, but as a person. The whole past year has been an exercise in figuring out who I am and where I fit and where I want to go … and also in learning how to be happy even though I’m not there yet.

By analogy, I came to a realization not long ago that has been bizarrely helpful (though, to be fair, if you’d told me the same thing maybe a year ago, I would’ve said you were full of crap). I was reflecting on why I liked making bread, but didn’t like putting the dishes away. Both are basically repetitive activities that you do in one place, and yet I find one of them enjoyable (even when it makes my wrists hurt) and the other tedious.

I came to the conclusion that there was, in fact, no good reason that I didn’t like putting dishes away. It was a mental thing. If I could like making bread, I could like putting the clean dishes back in the cupboards. The main difference is that putting clean dishes away involves working with a lot of small elements, much like de-cluttering does (this explains why I enjoy housework but hate de-cluttering; it took me the longest time to figure out that that was my biggest problem as a homemaker).

The working-with-lots-of-small elements part is difficult for me as someone with my particular flavor of ADHD. I think this is also why I enjoy bike maintenance, but not so much repairs — maintenance mostly involves fiddling with a whole bike; repairs often involve lots of fiddly parts that can escape and roll away and basically stress me out until they’re back on the bike.

That doesn’t mean I can’t come up with ways to find either process enjoyable, though — so I’m working in learning to like putting the dishes away, or at least not hate it. As for bike repairs — meh. Some of them I’ll definitely do (changing tires and sometimes repairing tires; fixing broken chains; stuff like that), but some I don’t mind paying someone else to do. Besides, that helps good bike wrenches stay in business, which I really appreciate when something major that I don’t know how to fix happens to one of my bikes.

On the “learning to like putting away dishes” front, I’m not going to say I’m entirely there yet. Nor am I going to say that this is something everyone can or should do — there’s lots of things that lots of people would say I “should” be able to learn to do or to like, but I either can’t or won’t, and I think that’s basically okay. It doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

I feel like other people deserve the same consideration. People live in different ways and prioritize different things, and it’s totally okay to feel like putting dishes away is anathema to your soul. It’s okay to pay someone else do it, or bribe your spouse to do it, or just plain not do it. I personally know a couple people who have dishwashers solely so they don’t have to put the dishes away — they just put the dishes in, wash them, and then that’s where the dishes live until they’re all used, and then the cycle begins again. There’s nothing wrong with that, either.

So that’s a thing I think I’ll probably write about some more at some point.

In other news, I finally took the last dose of my tendon-exploding antibiotic this morning, so I rather expect to stop feeling exhausted and bedraggled in the next few days. I was so tired last night that I conked out before Denis got home from his night out with Kelly, and I didn’t even wake up when he got home and came to bed.

I’m looking forward to having my usual energy level back, but also glad that the break in ballet classes allows me to get more done while I’m still feeling the fatigue. The main part of my PLX job is just about done, too, so when ballet class resumes next week, I should be able to enjoy it without having to dash around quite so frenetically.

Frenetic dashing just isn’t really my style.

Ballet Squid Chronicles: In Which I Inadvertently Take On An Awesome and Frightening Responsibility

So, you guys might remember a while ago — sometime last summer, I think — when I decided to take on the challenge of doing some choreography to some Philip Glass, and then decided that it would be awesome to use this choreography to create a small performance piece for Burning Man that could be built upon and performed by total ballet noobs?

So, um, apparently I failed to realize until yesterday that, in so doing, I basically said to the world, “Give me your ballet noobs, and let me teach them!”


So, in essence, this means I’ve taken on the task of teaching some very basic ballet to a random group of people without either A) injuring them, B) ruining any chance they have at developing sound technique, or C) destroying their love of dance forever by overfacing them with things they can’t do.

You know.

No pressure.

Obviously, I’m not going to take a bunch of total beginners and try to teach them double tours (or even single ones) or anything like that — and I’m pretty sure I can put together a basic barre that anyone with appendages can do (I’ll be cribbing it from Margie’s barre). I’m pretty sure I can even impart basic form and placement decently well.

Here’s the thing: I remember my very first ballet classes as a wee kid reasonably well, but by the time I took them, I’d already been doing gymnastics for at least three years (seriously, I was three when I starting taking gymnastics lessons) and pre-ballet for one year. Nothing we did seemed difficult at all, and I picked up everything really easily, so I have essentially no idea which bits and pieces people find difficult.

And that leads to my question for you, adult ballet students of the internet. Two questions, actually!

First, when you were completely new to ballet, what was hard and/or unpleasant for you?

Likewise, what was easy and/or fun?

I realize I’m going to get a range of answers, here — like, if it was up to me, basically nobody would ever do chaines until they’d already been dancing for fifteen years, because for some reason I perceive chaines as difficult (even though I’m now at least somewhat good at them). Denis, on the other hand, has no difficulty with chaines, but thinks piques (to my mind, the easiest turns in the entire universe) difficult. Likewise, soutenu turns are super easy for both our nephew and for me, but apparently nigh impossible for Denis. I’m just hoping to get some consensus on what’s doable.

Fortunately, we don’t have to try to do any leaps, because as far as I know we’ll be dancing on the equivalent of a marley remnant laid directly on the playa. I don’t want to mess up anyone’s joints, so no leaps — maybe a few sautés, but that’s it. As such, the mini-performance choreography in question will be mostly adagio and steps that might otherwise be linking steps.

Anyway, that’s it. I’m very much looking forward to this project, even though I’ve realized that it entails way more responsibility than I initially imagined. It should be a lot of fun, whether I wind up working with a bunch of eager people who’ve never danced a minute in their lives or a bunch of people who dance professionally and could mop the floor with me in a ballet-off.

That’s it for tonight. As my now-favorite ballet shirt proclaims, “Keep calm and rond de jamb!”

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