Introduction to the Story Oasis at BurningMan 2008


     Throughout the design and build effort, my mind oscillated between two poles; the joy of building something, and the fear that it was be ignored, insulted and considered a failure. 
     While drawing designs on paper, building scale models, trolling e-bay and craigslist for typewriters - while hauling and cutting wood, collecting lights, batteries and wires, while loading and unloading for travel - my mind wandered back and forth, wondering if all this work was worth the effort.   
     Once out in the desert, it took three days – Sunday through Tuesday - to build the project.  That is, three slow moving days, three days of drinking lots of fluids while standing in the August desert sun. 

     Half way through, on Monday afternoon, the winds kicked up and the dust began to fly.  With goggles strapped to my face, I gave up work for the day, piled the unfinished work in the center, and followed the unlit lampposts back across the desert to camp.

    On the clear sunny Tuesday morning, I arrived to find that someone had rummaged through the unfinished work.  Found a typewriter and placed it on a desk.  Sitting in the roller of the typewriter was a story. 
     It was not typed, as there was no power, it was written with the only pen available, a black marker. 
     And it was a most beautiful story, oh no, the message on the paper was not earth shattering, but that someone had taken the time, and all the extra energy, to tell a story. [read the story here]
     I suddenly thought that The Story Oasis might work, that it might be worthwhile. 

     On Tuesday afternoon, I sat back and looked at the finished creation.  Two of the typewriters were plugged in and waiting, with four more waiting in their box if necessary. 
     I told myself that it did not matter if other people wanted to use it, I had built it for me.   I had my place of solitude, my place to recharge.  It really did not matter if other people found it useful. 

     I bicycled to my creation on Wednesday at noon.  I would return each day, sometimes twice, to check the batteries and collect stories, if, of course, there were any.   
    Upon arrival I noticed that another typewriter was sitting out on a desk, and the chairs had been moved around.  So someone had been here.  Climbing behind the cabinets to change the power supply, I found something completely unexpected.  A pair of pink-and-white-Pokka-dotted-frilly-panties. 
     I assumed that someone had had a better time at my project that I had expected.
     But then I found something even more amazing.  Unlocking the drawer, and pulling it open, I found it was filled with a whole stack of stories.  Fifty pages or more. 
     Suddenly all the work was worthwhile.  All the designing, all the building, all the loading and shipping, all the money.  I sat in one of the chairs and looked over a typewriter out into the warming desert morning, and had to wipe my eyes as they watered in the bright sunlight.



Introduction Continued:

     But I would like to hold your attention for five more minutes, before you head into the collection of stories, I would like to tell you a story that is one of the reasons I attend BurningMan each year.
     Lets start this story with a simple fact:  I like to drink.  Sometimes a drink a little too much, and sometimes not at all, but it is an important fact that will pay off in the end of the story.
     Usually when I drink, I drink gin.  The perfect simple Martini, the Sunday afternoon gin and tonic, and the refreshing gin, cucumber and water for the deserts of BurningMan. 
     Some time ago, before I traveled to India, I told my friends sarcastically that I was going there, not to see another culture, not to gain an understanding of the human race, not to visit another continent, but to visit the place where the gin and tonic was created.
     But anyway, it was Friday afternoon – maybe Thursday, I’m not sure, days blur together out in the desert – and the day had been spent relaxing and comfortable with my friends Matt and Paul.  We spent the day slowly drinking beers under shade, while talking and laughing the day away.  But in the afternoon I had to go, I had to go and change the battery and collect the stories. 
     The sun beat down, the fifty-pound car battery strained my shoulders and backpack as I bicycled the mile across the desert.  All day I had been in a good mood, but the mood changed rapidly as the bicycle squirmed and slipped in the deep sand, and as I began to sweat out the beer and sober up. 
    The Oasis was so far away, and not really getting any closer, but I continued to pedal, mumbling under my breath, wondering why the hell I had done this.
     Finally as I drew close, I saw a man sitting at one of the desks. 
     He beckoned me over.
     “OK,” I thought sarcastically, “I’ll visit my own project.”
     He was in his mid-fifties, wearing light brown clothes with a large brimmed brown hat lying on the desk, there was a large blue and white cooler at his feet. 
     He smiled at me while I dropped my bike and unslung my backpack, wiping the sweat from my forehead. 
     And then he asked the question:
     “Would you like a gin and tonic?”
     And I was speechless..
     It was exactly what I needed, exactly what I wanted.
     These are the moments that make BurningMan special, those moments, in the heat of the day and the cold of the night, with the stinking porta-potties, the dust, the intermittent food, and all the problems that exist in this harsh environment.  All those problems disappear for that one perfect moment, and it is all worthwhile.



I would like to thank for their continued support and help:
the whole beautiful psychotic entity known as Gigsville,
but also – specifically - Matt, Michele, Terry, Tackett,
Slinky, Nathan, Kathleen, Heidi, Normal and Jetfuel.





Begin reading stories, starting at Tuesday Morning

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