July 2017
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alchemy 2012: volunteering, gifting, leading talks, hosting an art project (all for the 1st time)

This burn experience was quite short (less than 40 hours) and super-productive. Kylei and I arrived at 10:30p Friday night, and at 11 I started a volunteer shift (my first at a burn) with greeters (who give people their schwag, explain parking, and give directions to the appropriate camping spot), which lasted until 1a. Then I wandered with Kylei for a while, sharing fresh-made guacamole with people (my first real gifting experience: Kylei bought the materials and I made it just before we drove up) and looking for Abby since I had a vague idea of where ze was camped. We didn't find zir (later I learned ze was asleep), and I went back to Fucking Awesome to take my 3a-5a shift as a dome monitor (in the Fucking Awesome dome, which is a public sex space).

The dome monitor shift was interesting and a little scary: my job was to watch people and make sure everything was consensual (as far as I could tell), keep people from interrupting others, and kick out anyone who was breaking the mood. There was only one case where I felt unsure if it was consensual; I was within barely-overhearing range of someone who was giving a lot of verbal disclaimers and looking incredibly bored and disconnected while someone else was touching zir. It looked to me like someone putting up with something they didn't want, so I tapped zir knee and asked if ze was comfortable and ze smiled and nodded. Then later ze started turning zir head away from kisses and pulling zir clothes to cover zirself, and saying no and "unt-uh" (negative-sounding noise) in mumbled ways, and both myself and the other dome monitor were unsure what was happening, so I asked if ze wanted to stop and ze said no, that ze's just very relaxed. At that point I figured it was at least conscious choice, so didn't ask again. There was some heteronormative sex that I was uncomfortable just looking at, and some mixed-sex sex that I thought was beautiful, and some that I thought was hot (especially the stretched legs and pointed toes of one of them, a seemingly-subconscious body expression). And there was some same-sex male sex, which included audible consent questions including a quick STD talk (which made me happy). Kinsey had the best job. I want to study people fucking! I also talked with someone who came in and sat next to me (still cannot remember zir name!) about kinds of sex and social scripts and queerness and our experiences -- it was a pretty fascinating conversation, which ended when my shift ended because I went straight to "bed" (I slept in my car! ♥ an umbrella over the sunroof made a perfect vent :D).

I didn't get much sleep because I woke up to people talking, and then Abby came by after I 'called' each of my lovers emotionally (I was sad that Kylei and Adi didn't respond, but had enough spoons to manage it); ze left soon after but I was just glad that ze came. I got up and went to a camp that offered us breakfast, and then went back to Fucking Awesome and caught the end of the polyamory round table discussion, which bled over into the start of my workshop. After a bit I asked people to pause and if people had come for the intimacy workshop, to come inside. I was expecting maybe 5-6 people, but I started with TEN and more came in over time (and some left -- it stayed around 11 people at once). I just talked about the stuff in this post, with occasional breaks for comments/questions, and it was really interesting to me to see people's responses. There was a lot of nodding and a few "oh yeah!" faces which made me happyyyyyy. After I finished talking I said that if you wanted to participate in the intimacy practice, please stay, and otherwise leave because it is harder to be intimate with an audience. One couple left, saying they had to be somewhere, but everyone else stayed (and more had arrived at that time). I was so surprised! and intimidated! Since we had so many people, I decided that for the intimacy practice we would just do laughter yoga and truth-or-truth. Laughter yoga is one of those things that is hard for people because being silly in front of others is not just intimate, but also associated with being a child, and it's only fun if everyone participates so I was really nervous about leading it, but everyone participated (some nervously). After we did a few of the "poses" made up by my tribe (Abby and Kylei and Adi and Rob were there so they led some), I asked the group to make up some and someone did (I forget what it is now, but I was so happy that they were into it enough to do that!). Then we started truth-or-truth, and changed 'venue' twice (because the poly group was still going, and then the masturbation party was starting so we had to leave the dome) and people were so into it that they followed the back-and-forth, which was awwwwesome. At the end of it I asked one person who had talked about being trans in the truth-or-truth game if ze wanted to help me lead the "ask the queers" panel later and ze said yes, and then another person said "me too!" which was great because I didn't want to lead it alone. Then I asked people to paint on my car, and lots of people did :D I put the paints away just before starting the "ask the queers" panel.

The panel wasn't at ALL what I was expecting, mainly because it was mostly seemingly-cis gay or bisexual men, but there were a few straight people. We talked about coming out, about gender expectations, flirtation signals, being trans and genderfree, quite a lot of topics. I feel like that ventured far from my expectations but was still worthwhile, for sure. People seemed to appreciate it.

From doing the intimacy workshop I learned a lot: I figured out how to focus it up and which bits definitely need to be included; next time I need to talk more about finding an intimacy partner, give more practical tips on how to practice things, maybe mention a list of signs that intimacy is waning, and include a full description of all the things we do at an intimacy practice usually (though I think the 2-part works best for a large group of strangers). I also want to make up a resource page that I can share the link to, with a description of intimacy practice and the 10 tips, and maybe some links to other things like the game imaginiff (which can be a useful tool in a group new to intimacy). Maybe I'll order the practical tips from least to most challenging, within the 10 categories.

For the "ask the queers" panel I'm going to change the title to "ask the trans and genderqueer people" because while the first one is snappy and catches attention, it's a little misleading because I think most people hear "gay" when you say "queer" (news to me!) and I think gender non-conformity and transness is something people are less aware of. I want to add more to the resources page I whipped up the night before because it's heavily trans-focused and I want more specifically non-binary stuff (which is harder to find). Please share any suggestions!

After that panel I felt both exhausted and energized, and I asked Kylei to walk around with me and invite people to paint on my car on the way to find Abby. We did invite people but did not find Abby, and headed back. We waited around for a good while, eating and resting, and then made our way towards effigy hill for the burn. On the way we ran into Abby, who was going to zir camp for more layers (it got pretty cool but not aching cold, thank Godde), and ze told us where Seth was and to meet us there. On the way we collected John, Cat, Teri, and Nick, 'randomly' running into them in all that crowd, and then I found Seth and the rest of Abby's camp. When Abby got back I asked for a hug and told zir that I was really sad that ze hadn't spent much time with me that day, and ze said ze was sad about it too, that ze had intended to but had an emotional clash with Seth and spent a long time talking and healing it, and hugged me more. I cried a little bit and we just cuddled and then I felt a bit better and we had really lovely incredibly hot makeouts which made me feel lots better. Then there were lots of three-way hugs between me and Kylei and Abby as they both loved me up to make me feel better, and I was super-cuted, and then as we watched the burn Kylei hugged me who also hugged Abby who also hugged Seth and Seth and I smiled at each other and included each other in the hug too, so it was a line-hug :D and after the last posts of the effigy fell Abby and Kylei ran around the embers together ♥ ♥ ♥ and came back bouncing around hugging everybody shouting "happy burn!" I felt really connected to them and really happy about the connection between them and also cold and tired and sad that I probably wasn't going to get the time I wanted with Abby since I was planning on leaving when I woke up. Then Abby walked with us back to camp and spent some time in my car with me talking about things -- how we've stopped being as communicative recently and how we want that to change (I think part of it is that we've both been very busy and part is that when Abby is feeling bad ze withdraws) and both of us sharing some recent emotionally-relevant things. It was really connecting and positive and I felt good about us after but also a little panicky because Kylei had parted from us saying that ze felt left out and I was worried ze had run off and I really wanted time with Kylei also, but after a short time Abby came back with Kylei and said bye to me, promising to return in the morning. Then Kylei and I had a sweet time together, talking and being sensual but not sexual (I was mentally in the mood but physically super-not, so exhausted), and then I went to sleep.

The next morning lots of people painted on my car! and I found the person I talked to in the dome and gave zir my contact info, and had a short talk with Issa where I expressed how much I love zir blog LoveLiveGrow ("living a big fat life of belligerent self-acceptance" -- I love that!). If I have kids, Issa is one of my role models for how to parent. Speaking of which, Deb, the person I've known longest who is still in my life (besides lil sis) was there just because Camellia (zir kid, who is now 18 I think) had asked zir to go (and so was Rusty, Camellia's dad!). I was SO impressed. They even seemed cool with the fact that I was topless* and obviously camping at the sex-positive camp, and gave me hugs. Deb is definitely also one of my parenting heroas -- anyone who cares enough about their offspring to step outside of their comfort zone is just fucking amazing to me. Deb has been going to Rainbow Gathering for many years now, so it's not an alien world, but still! I was so happy to see them and that they came by just to see me :D Also I really want to go to Rainbow Gathering, but it's never going to happen if I don't make it a priority. I don't know about next year because Montana? but I'll at least keep it in mind as summer approaches.

So, huge exhausting learning experience. I got a lot more out of it this time (and put a lot more in); and I feel like the burn has hit its stride as there were far fewer party-ers and more of what I call "real burners" (who live by the 10 principles or at least do so at burns). I think that I want to continue going to Georgia's burns (but next time, I'll plan for more time and I'll space out my commitments or get a watch, ugh, keeping track of time SUCKED), partly because I do love Euphoria (which feels like a celebration of summer essence to me) and partly because many of my people will keep going and partly because I feel like I can have a positive effect. I want to build radical inclusion in people's minds from an "include yourself and don't exclude anyone" to a "learn about people so that you can actually be RADICALLY inclusive instead of passively non-exclusive."

*not naked, because I get sick of carrying something to sit on or leaning on my hip instead of sitting (nudist etiquette in other people's spaces, in case you didn't know)

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aliyna ══╣Moth╠══
theindiequeen ══╣╠══
belenen ══╣garrulous╠══
coloursofmyhome ══╣╠══
coloursofmyhome ══╣╠══
on communication, social justice, intimacy, consent, friendship & other relationships, spirituality, gender, queerness, & dreams. Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.
Expect to find curse words, nudity, (occasionally explicit) talk of sex, and angry ranting, but NEVER slurs or sexually violent language. I use TW when I am aware of the need and on request.