Category Archives: Difficult Experiences

Protected: Feelings of Futile Hopelessness

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Worried about the Future while Trying to Live in the Present

Friday March 3rd 2017

I had another difficult sleep last night. Tried to take less Meletonin than the nights before, but the panic and fear about sleeping is so strong, I had to take my usual dose. It feels unnatural to take anything to sleep. Last year I had to as well and it messed me up for months. The fear of sustaining our lifestyle plagues me most at night. Two specific things fill me with worry. Lack of CD sales and park rangers bothering us. I try to think of ways to fix the problems, but I can’t. The park rangers may always bother us and we may never be able to sell CDs like we did before. We may also never have stability. It’s terrifying to me. Selling CDs is a major factor to our lives being sustainable. I wish we had somewhere else to play in the winter, but we don’t. These months have always been bleak, but right now it’s worse than ever before. It’s not like we sell lots of CDs elsewhere. People don’t buy them much anymore, and there is nothing to replace them. I don’t know what to do about it either. It’s not just something that sustains us, selling our music puts it into people’s lives and minds and hearts when they don’t see us live. It keeps us with them. Without taking away our music on CD, people won’t hear it again (unless they film it, but that isn’t the same as listening to our professionally recorded albums.) Our yet-to-be-released album has music on it no one has ever heard, but why release it if we can’t find a way to make money off it? Why does everything have to be so frighteningly unstable? Sometimes I just can’t take it anymore. I didn’t work on anything creative this morning. No play writing or drawing. Just fear.

I talked to someone close to me about how I was feeling and got to feeling even worse. I felt like it was our fault that things aren’t going well for us right now. That it’s because we don’t sing in English or because our music is simplistic. That’s not why, I know. It can’t be. We’re not going to change the core of what we do; singing in a made up language with our two voices, two violins and foot percussion with magical makeup and costumes. We change every day, as our most dedicated fans know. Lots of artists have had success not singing in English or their music being simple. Cirque Du Soleil and Philippe Glass are the first things that come to mind, two very successful, famous and well respected groups/people. We haven’t gotten worse either. We’ve gotten so much better. Our albums have gotten better too. It’s easy for someone to blame how we make our music for our lack of success when we’re not successful. If we were successful and had something to show for what we’ve done, no one would say that. People love our music and used to buy it in droves. If everyone who was uniquely making art/music/theater in their own unique way changed in order to possibly find more success we wouldn’t have all the great unique artists in the world. Somehow feeling like I did I managed to do some really beautiful makeup for today’s prayfomance. It helps my mood to feel pretty. I put together a really beautiful outfit, too. I don’t call it a costume, costume implies falseness and fakery to me. I am always me when I prayform, the heightened, expanded and outrageous me, even if I’m feeling sad, like today.

      As we biked to the park, I started saying positive things to myself. “I’m lucky. I have Thoth. He’s never going to abandon me. I have my sister and my mom and dad who love me. I’m never going to starve or be homeless. I have my voice and all my talents… Drawing, acting, makeup, costuming, writing… I’m so lucky to be able to support myself by playing music. Things will get better. Everything will balance out. We’ve been through much worse. I need to stay positive. I have a dream, a very specific goal. Who at my age knows exactly what they want? I know exactly what I want. I want to perform our operas with Michael Chiaravelotti, our hand drummer friend and James Swanton, my brilliant young British actor friend. We have this beautiful work we’re doing. Something could happen at any moment. We just can’t stop prayforming. We have to keep the dream alive.” Last night while Thoth was making dinner, we were talking excitedly about this goal, how we could make it happen. It seems impossible. We’d need money and a venue and an audience. All things we don’t yet have. It’s got to happen. I’m chomping at the bit these days, raring to go. I’m not going to be 29 forever. I’m in my prime.

As we were getting ready to play, a police officer on a motorcycle stopped by every street performer on the Prado and asked them to produce a permit. He didn’t see us as we didn’t have a crowd. We watched, feeling very scared as we have never seen police officers bother the street performers before. Officer Morales is our friend and I think he is head.  As we played, I began feeling like sh*t again. We had nice crowds and the weather was amazing, but the interest in CDs or in any interaction with us at all was almost non existent, as it has been for months. We need a patron, or patrons. We can’t survive off tips alone. We’ve had dry spells in the past, but not like this, and it’s just getting worse. Thank God we’re healthy enough of body and mind to keep trying, despite it feeling sometimes like I’m banging my head against a brick wall. Today I did. I felt so alone today. Even though people were watching us and clapping, I felt like we are completely alone and people could care less about us. No one in our audiences can help us other than saying a kind word or throwing in a few bucks. I have this feeling that I wish our audience would step forward and do something. Our friends do that just by being there. Tori was there. She cared. I knew she did. We were terrified of the officer coming back and bothering us. He went by again, but we were taking a break and again he didn’t see us. Lucky, but we’re not safe. What a horrible feeling. No safety net. My armpits were sweating as we continued, the thought at the back of our mind we’d be arrested or harassed at any moment. I don’t want to talk to police ever again. It makes me feel helpless and horrible. We’re not doing anything wrong. We shouldn’t be afraid of police. They should be protecting us, not threatening us.

As the play continued, I got more and more sad. Same thing. No CD sales. I said we have CDs and download cards after every song. No inquiries. It gets old. I don’t know what else to say. I feel like I’m giving away my very soul when I sing and people don’t even bother to say anything. At least we had an audience, unlike on Wednesday. We played a beautiful improvisation. We’ve been coming up with a lot of new music on these very dark, difficult days. I don’t know how or why. I hope things get better somehow. I do like the honest, eye to eye, hand to hand way we live our lives. It’s genuine and raw and honest and beautiful. We’re one of the last artists to be bringing something so unique to the public and only a few people understand how lucky they are. Our friends do. I’d like to be surprised by our audience for once. Surprised by their generosity and kindness and going the extra mile. We need it so much right now. We need some help.

Donate to Tribal Baroque: http://www.tribalbaroque.com/donate

Horrible Day

Saturday February 25th 2017

Sh*t. I was awake in bed from 11pm until 2am. I couldn’t sleep because our housemate coughs a lot (and because I’ve over sensitized myself to the sound). It’s nightmarish when I can’t sleep. I feel so alone and isolated. I tried getting up to ask him not to cough, but he was asleep. At 2am I got up and wrote him a note and put it on his desk. I hate feeling like I’m harping on people. We’re in a loft, so any sounds the other person makes at night can be heard by everyone else. That’s the only downside to living here. At the other place we lived in years past, it was dead silent and I got over sensitized to the sound of my ears ringing, which made me feel like I was going crazy. It’s always something.

Of course I was tired when I woke up at 9am. I didn’t get any work done either. Thoth told me our electricity bill was sky high, which terrified me. We don’t do great here financially January and February so it scares me when we have to pay so much money for things unexpectedly. I tried to lay down and nap at 11, but I’m not sure I fell asleep. My nerves were shot. I was sleep deprived and pessimistic all day. Tomorrow is my birthday, so I hope I feel better and get some sleep. I need a solid 8 hours in order to function and I’m just not getting that these days.

I guess to reflect how I was feeling, I did some pretty horrific makeup.

Since I felt like shit, I thought I’d look like shit too. When I feel bad, no matter how I look, I think I look awful. I hate that feeling.  We biked to the park and it was one of those days I didn’t think I’d be able to make it through. I didn’t do very well. A few times I just hung my head in sadness after a song. The combination of sleep deprivation and fears about money is a bad mix. I was focusing on the wrong things, which makes me angry and beside myself. Yesterday I had a great day, and it wasn’t like we really did well, but I did well. I created a great look and played and sang my very best. I was focused on the right things yesterday; creativity and self expression. When I get sucked into focusing on money I get depressed. The thought that we are deserving of much more than we get, which is a horrible thought. I like much better being grateful for what I have, instead of mad for not getting what I feel we deserve more of. That’s a completely unproductive and soul-sucking feeling. Horrible. I hate that feeling of wanting to throw my violin on the ground and cry. I felt that today a few times. It happens because I loose all my strength and self direction to deal with our life. I don’t know how Thoth dealt with bad days by himself. Once after a piece I had to sit it out and collect myself while Thoth did a solo, then later during an improv I stopped playing and singing all together because I felt so shitty. People were clapping for someone performing near us and it was so noisy there didn’t seem to be any space for our work. Sometimes it feels like we have to cramp our music into this tiny little space and no one cares if we survive or not. I felt so alone, even though there were three protectors there; Pascual, Tori and Bill. Seeing the park rangers walk by before we started made me feel sick with fear, too. I played a solo and felt like I got a lot of my feelings out. Bill was crying when I finished. I was exhausted but happy I got through such a hard play. On days like these I’m just happy to get through it.

Why do I not want people to think my life is perfect? Because it isn’t! Most people who had a life like mine of traveling and performing would always be posting and sharing positive things. I don’t. If things are rough, I don’t shy away from it for fear of sounding ungrateful. I feel what I feel. Every day is different. Everyone has their own problems and I refuse not to share mine. I’m scared and hopeful and disheartened and emotional and loved and cherished and cared for and I strive every day to share my voice with anyone who will listen. That is all I can do.

We came home and ate and Thoth tried to set up a speaker so I could pump in the sound of a fan to help block out our housemates cough. It didn’t help. I had to get up and ask him gently to try as hard as he could not to cough. He did and I finally could fall asleep! Yay!

Here’s the vlog of our day:

Freedom of Artistic Expression Under Threat in Balboa Park

Friday February 10th 2017
When I speak of “support”, I’m not speaking of people giving us money, I am speaking of people helping us and showing their support of our work in a variety of ways.
Three examples from today of what I mean:
-Complimenting our work.
Without being asked, a man at Balboa Park said he loves our CD and he still listens to it. He said it sounds like a soundtrack to a movie. That was incredibly encouraging for me before we started playing.
-Standing up for us.
I wrote something yesterday on Facebook about how artists aren’t supposed to talk about how hard it is to be an artist. A stranger said I was being arrogant, but our friend Risha stood up for me.
“Lila Angelique actually IS a great artist who inspires and creates beautiful things. Who are you to dictate that she can’t have a sense of self worth and know this about herself??? She was born gifted and has spent so much time and energy cultivating and developing these gifts in every way she knows how.”
Her words canceled out the stranger’s meanness. It helps so much when people stand up for me, even if they’re not %100 with what I’m saying.
-Helping us.
Today in the park, after we got stopped by a park ranger and a police officer, our friend Tori sat with us while I was hanging my head in despair and then said she would help by watching out for park rangers when we started playing again. She comes almost every day to see us and wants to help us.
Other things people can do to show their support:
Coming to see us prayform in public (staying the entire time and clapping is most appreciated) Talking to us after prayformance
Commenting on our online vlogs and blog
Sharing our videos with their friends
Sharing our music with their friends
Etc…
None of these things require money, and they are some of the most helpful things people can do.
Today the dreaded thing happened. We were in the middle of playing our second piece in the park when a park ranger truck rolled by. He stopped, turned his lights on and stood in the corner with a policeman and watched us. He walked past us. We had closed our violin cases, so there was nothing he could do. He stood in the corner and flashed a flashlight at us and motioned us over. He threatened us with a ticket for not having a permit. He claimed we have to go to the lottery (which happens the first Saturday of every month) to get a permit in order to collect donations. We don’t need a permit to express our artistic free speech. That is unconstitutional. The ranger claimed that once he saw money exchange hands, it was no longer freedom of speech, but commerce (which is also completely false) and he had no rules to back up his claim. He gave us a verbal warning, because we’re “awesome” and we spent an hour talking to the other buskers about it. At first, I was utterly broken and disheartened. While the officer spoke to us, everything broke apart in my mind. We wouldn’t be able to perform in Balboa Park anymore, so we wouldn’t be able to live in San Diego anymore. I guess the rangers would rather see us be homeless rather then share our music freely with park goers. I told Thoth I wanted to play again, even just a little, to try and get rid of these awful feelings, so we did. Tori watched out for park rangers, so we wouldn’t have to play scared. I thanked her. “Thank you for being brave enough to continue.” she said.
Now we’re scared. We know the rangers are trampling on our rights to freedom of speech, as happened in 2009 when we were arrested for prayforming Central Park. If we get a ticket, we could fight it in court, but we’re only here until the end of April. The rule of permitting buskers is unconstitutional. Someone needs to fight it and get it disbanded. A fan said he is going to start a petition to get the park to give us a permit, but I don’t know if that will happen, or even work. Why should we be afraid to prayform in Balboa Park? We’ve been giving our work to people for free at that park every winter since 2010. We have a following here and park goers love us. The park should thank us for the work we do, not threaten us with tickets. A fan, who is wanting to create a petition, said this about our work in the park:
You are an immeasurable asset to the park and the city while you are here. Undoubtedly tourism satisfaction experienced while you are in residence spikes, and you have extreme world appeal with the amount of ambiguity throughout the work, and all of it basically for free. They are actively placing you into poverty for no quantifiable reason other than control.
Balboa Park should welcome Tribal Baroque and thank us for what we do here. We are not doing anything wrong. We are not breaking any law. I need to learn that no one can control how I feel, even if they are trying to assert their authority over me. If I am breaking no laws, they have no right to detain or harass me. Period. I need to learn to control my emotions when confronted by authority. I need to be strong and stand within my joy. Just a moment before the ranger arrived, I had been feeling utterly at peace and happy. That ranger was trying to bring me into his realm, and I let him. I got sad and depressed, but no one can make me sad or emotional accept myself. I have the power to assert my constitutional rights and continue singing and performing in the park, no matter what rule there is against it. As long as I am not breaking a law, I have the right to do what I do in Balboa Park. I am not taking anyone’s money, they are freely giving it to me. I am not selling anything. I am flexing my rights to freedom of expression. Just because people give us money for our art doesn’t make it any less a first amendment right.
(Check out the Tribal Baroque vlog with footage of the ranger bothering us : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r02m_VZpAUw&t=3s)
(Also, check out my vlog talking about our work as freedom of artistic expression: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9BCX5xaBKk)
Thursday February 9th 2017
We took the day off today and I had a very difficult time. I couldn’t get my writing together and I tried watching an online lesson about breaking into the “New Music Industry”. The speaker said “Doing it organically takes too long and is a waste of time.” That is how we live our lives, organically. Like our friend Tori said in her note on Sunday, You are a force of nature, taking it’s time, making its natural mark.” So is our lifestyle a waste of time? Why do I watch these things? I’m trying to learn something and all it does is depress me and cause me to go limp for the day creatively. I just stared at my new drawing feeling worthless and hopeless and wondering what the god damn point of it all is. I asked my friends of Facebook and got a multitude of answers. Thankfully we had dinner with Tori and Michael and they cheered me up.
“You are masters of the realm beyond.”
Wednesday February 8th 2017
I am so keen to fears and worries about the future. Our lifestyle is on the edge. We became aware that we are not moving CD units like we used to, and I got very scared. CDs are becoming extinct. It was a problem that has been sitting in the background of our lives all year. We didn’t move many units in Lisbon or NYC either. We have to find another way. I had a difficult play, but when we got home, I started drawing again and felt better. Thoth came up with the idea of having download cards of all of our albums available at the park. He ordered 100 for us.
Tuesday February 7th and Monday February 6th 2017
I was immensely creative on our days off. I drew two pictures of my characters from my play, and I wrote productively both mornings. When I am creative, I feel like my life has a purpose.

Discouraged Artist Thoughts

Friday February 3rd 2017

This blog is an honest reflection of my life. No fancy talk. No falsehoods.

This morning I was just sitting and staring at the manuscript for my synopsis of the play and I couldn’t think of anything to write. I wrote a little, but I felt like a complete idiot. Yesterday I felt like I had a great plot, now I feel like I have nothing. It’s not true, but it is how I feel. I get so discouraged when Thoth reads my stories and challenges and questions my choices. He’s only trying to help me, but I feel broken down and worthless. I’m lucky to have his help, most people have to figure this stuff out on their own. I cried I was so frustrated. I made the vlog today to be as long as needed. People don’t watch it anyway, so why do I care to make it short and entertaining? It’s only for me and Thoth. I also got up late, so I didn’t have as much time to work on the things I wanted to work on.

We got to the park and I was prepared for no one to stop and watch us, like yesterday. I felt completely invisible. That’s how I feel when we’re not prayforming. To my surprise, two young men passing us asked, “When are you starting?” It was Robert, an actor who came to see us last year in Balboa Park and said, “You’ve given me inspiration for the entire year.” I was so flattered. I saw our friend D., who gave me a very sweet hug. I asked him, “What is the point of life?” and he said, “There is no point. Only that which we assign to it.” Thoth agrees. We assign prayformance and each other as our reason to live, so I guess that’s the point.

As we began singing, people did not stop. For the second piece, people stood on the other side of the railing, watching from a distance. That is never good. When people watch us with some barrier between us and them, there is no interaction or support, just us giving our music away to them and them taking without giving anything back. It’s energy depleting. People don’t think about it. I couldn’t smile. During our third song, a little girl with her family stood stock still within a feet of us. Her mother knelt down next to her, also very close, clapping her hands. We felt crowded and I felt very objectified. The last two days I’ve been remembering a quote Erik says in my favorite book Phantom by Susan Kay. “I no longer had to prostitute my skills in order to eat.” That’s what I felt like. We’re prostituting our skill in order to survive, and we’re not even being duly compensated for our service. I love singing in public, but it is our livelihood. Sometimes I’m absolutely terrified we won’t be able to live anymore doing this.

Robert and his friend came to watch us, as did Pascual, during our new piece, “Bird Song” (which we improvised on for almost 8 minutes). I left the entire, uncut version of it on the vlog. A bunch of people stopped to watch. When fans come and stand near us to watch without fear, it gives permission for other people to do the same. A bunch of people came up to us afterwards to us, speechless. They couldn’t understand how they could have just stumbled upon something so beautiful. One man wanted to know who we were and what we did other then this, as if we must be famous or something. We’re famous in a certain way, but that’s from street performing all over the world just the two of us for the past 8 years. We just happen to be really f**king talented and good at what we do. That’s all. Haven’t been discovered yet, nor will we likely ever be. Probably only when we’re long gone will the world truly understand what we’re doing.

I felt much better after that song. Robert said he loves my blog because it talks about the struggles of being an artist. “If you guys are still doing this and performing your opera, then I have no excuse!” he said. That was interesting to hear. I imagine our life would be an inspiration to others, but people don’t say that much. Despite all the difficulties of making art in this world, we still go out and do it every day together and we don’t give up. Most of the time I feel like people don’t give a flying f***. I finished feeling much better then I did when we started. I hope I can get some work done on my synopsis tomorrow. i can’t give up on it. Our friend Chris wrote to me yesterday:

Hi Lila!
So awesome that you are forcing yourself to work on your play and work out these ideas! Good for you! As always I have such respect for you as an artist. Don’t stop writing. I wish you all the best!

Just a little encouragement is so helpful!