I am unexpectedly going to burning man this year. I only decided a few weeks ago.
Burning Man is something I've been excited and curious about for years, but I'd only ever started to consider going over the last few months. And even then, I was thinking about going next year. And then someone pointed out that this year, while I don't have a full-time job and I'm still a bit unsure about what to do with life, is a good year to go, and said they'd help me out with getting there. Since then, a heap of people have been helping me out in various ways: with tickets, with planning, with reassurances that it'll all be okay.
So, I have a plane ticket to San Francisco. And a ticket to Burning Man that a friend's given me. An offer of a tent. Some glowthings to light me up at night so I won't get run over. Goggles.
What I don't have:
* A place to stay in San Francisco before or afterwards.
* A lift there or back.
* A bike.
* Various campingstuffs I'll need.
I'm still not sure how to manage it all. There are a few queries going out to friends-of-friends for lifts and such, and I'm also checking out the rideshare options on the Burning Man site. I'm finding this very difficult, because it involves a lot of asking strangers or near-strangers for help, being quite aware that I won't be able to give much in return.
The physical difficulties of Burning Man are pretty extreme. It's very hot and dusty, there won't be water for washing, toilet facilities sound not-so-pleasant, there are dust storms, and the nights are very cold. I'll probably get a resurgence of my eczema and asthma. I'm thinking hard about how to deal with all this effectively, but it causes me very little anxiety.
The thing I am very anxious about is all the dealing-with-people. I'm really worried about asking strangers for help, being a complete noob, being in the way or a hassle. I'm better at this than I was. When I went away on geek camps at high school, I spent a ridiculous proportion of the time angsting in my journals and feeling anxious. The first time I went away to a student activist conference by myself, I spent pretty much the whole time totally terrified and uncomfortable. When someone hugged me on the last day I nearly cried. The first time I went to a conference as a postgrad, I was better but I made a few friends and then followed them around most of the time.
I am better than I was, but going to a crazy, week-long event in which I will need other people's help just to get there and then have no safe base to come back to is a confronting thought. I'm more terrified than excited about Burning Man, but I know it'll be an amazing, challenging experience. And I do like to be challenged, apparently.
I'm also fretting a bit about the decadence of flying to the US for this. I'll be carbon-neutralling the flights, but it still requires some thought. It's not the kind of thing I can do on a regular basis, for sure. But it is something I've been wanting to do for years, and perhaps I can allow myself some (more) decadence now that I've finished my PhD?
I might post more about all of this at some point, but I wanted to at least get some thoughts down rather than letting them just race around my head like crazy.
(Crossposted from/to lj.)