Category Archives: Creativity

Protected: Dark, Disturbing Drawings, Light, Magical Makeup and an Inspired Prayformance!

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THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVISATION

Wednesday January 25th 2017

Today was special. I listened to music all morning and took a day off from writing my play. Needed to give myself some brain rest. It’s good to do that every once in a while. I worked on a  drawing and danced around after eating breakfast.

The bike ride to the park requires steady uphill peddling, but it isn’t too long, and is good exercise for us. In 30 minutes we’re at Balboa Park. Our friend D. saw us on the road and waved, pulled around a knelt before me as I biked past. I didn’t recognize him at first. He’s a fellow vagabond traveler like us. It was good to see him.

We had a grand time prayforming today. We played a few improvisations, together and separately. You missed out if you missed it. We played a waltz in F# minor that was really beautiful. Simple. It made a woman cry. She knew without us telling her we’ve been doing this for a long time,so we wouldn’t understand how amazing what we do is. I gathered a crowd all by myself singing a solo. I really went for it and explored a few different ostinatos. That brings me a lot of pride to gather a crowd. It’s one thing to play solo in the park, it’s another to stop people by myself. A lot of the time I feel it isn’t me that’s stopping people, it’s Thoth. I’m not as focused in my movements as he is. He holds everything together and I float over on top when we play together. When I play alone, I have to hold it together. It’s a good practice. I used to be so afraid to improvise by myself. These days I’m not being too complicated and realizing it’s not about the violin, it’s about the voice. The simpler the ostinatos I play, the more freely I can sing. Simplicity is key.

I used to only sing other people’s music. I wouldn’t dare improvise. I didn’t believe I could. Now I love improvising. Someday I want to play a fully improvised show. Someday I want to play a full set by myself. I can do things now I could never do when I was younger. Improvisation takes confidence, courage, focus and simplicity. I learn so much when I improvise alone. I see instantly what doesn’t work and what does. It’s good for me to play solos and finish them alone. Before, in Esh and Ee-ay, I would play a solo, but Thoth would take over before it was over, do his solo, and then it would end as a duet. Now I have to get through it alone. I have to come up with an ending, which is the most difficult thing to do when improvising. Thoth told me when we first started playing together, “You’re always looking for an ending.” Musicians who don’t know how to improvise, don’t know how to end. Ending an improvisation requires confidence, especially doing it in public. There is always the possibility that people won’t clap. They didn’t when I first played my solo a few days ago. In a private performance, people always clap. In public, not so much. Performing in public the way we do gives me a lot of confidence.

C R E A T I V E T I M E

Tuesday 18 January 2017 Much better work on my play today. Every day, when things go well, I get a little more of the character’s stories figured out. When it’s fun, it really is fun and stimulating. I’m happy to be working on a fantasy land and story again. It’s been a long time since I was focused like this on a new story. This story, the characters and the land they live on is darker, more grotesque and frightening. I love piecing the world and their lives together. I’m answering a questionnaire, which challenges me to figure things out about them and their families and their childhoods. Fun. It can be whatever I want, because it’s all from my imagination. I am only limited by my imagination. Doing this kind of creative work works out my brain in a wonderful way. Every morning for a few hours writing, then reading a book and drawing. It’s great.

We went shopping for food for the next few days. I worked on my drawing for the rest of the afternoon and evening until I finished. Thoth made salmon and mashed potatoes for dinner. Yum. Our dinner last night wasn’t so nice. The lady who got us our food was a b**** and really ruined our evening. We are strongly affected by people’s negativity. Ugh. We were both glad to have a delicious meal. The inauguration is on Friday. If we don’t go out to play because of the rain, I want to join the protest in the park. It’s not far from the loft. God save us all. All we can do is continue to create and be ourselves.

Monday 17 January 2017 Doing something that takes daily focus and commitment is a challenge. If it were easy, everyone would be creating masterpieces left and right. I feel so incompetent today. I’m really great at giving myself a hard time. I’m my biggest critic. Working on my play and I can’t figure out the plot. Hard work is a given, as someone told me recently. I love working hard, but I hate feeling stumped. I have some dark characters and an intriguing, dark world I’m working on, but no driving goal or desires for the characters. That’s the common failing for young writers. No plot. It’s hard to make a decision, as I can choose it to go any direction I want. Having the freedom to choose anything makes me freeze with fear. I want it to go the way I want it to go. I want it to be dark, and it’s tough to let go of preconceived ideas constantly. Letting it flow. It’s not based on anything. I have a friend who writes plays about already created, famous characters. I understand why he does that. It’s much harder to create a story and a plot and characters of your own. I haven’t really even started on the play yet. I have to know who I’m writing about. Who they are and what world they live in. Does anyone have advice on story creation? Thoth is helping me, but he isn’t doing it for me. I don’t want him too. I just want to stay focused and finish it. I know the creation process is hard. Thoth has been writing a book since 2012 and never talks to anyone about it. I don’t know how to do that.

We took a wonderful bike ride to the wharf to clear our heads. I love biking around downtown. It feels like we’re at Wim’s apartment in Amsterdam again. Downtown San Diego is beautiful. Sunny and beautiful. I am so happy to be living here. It’s so convenient and easy to go wherever we want. Getting out of the house is helpful. I went back to my drawing when we got home. I love being creative on our days off.

S A N D I E G O I S B L I S S !

Sunday 16 January 2017

I didn’t do as much good work on my play this morning. Couldn’t think straight. Was feeling sick, and tired.  Yesterday was better. I was more focused. Had more energy. I only have so much energy to stay focused on one thing in the day. I have to move to different projects throughout the day to keep myself creative. I wish I could write my play all day, but I can’t. I have to stop and work on other things. Drawing, writing longhand, reading a book or just relaxing and listening to music. This play could take years to write. I don’t want it to, but that’s what it seems like. There are so many other things I want to create, like new music, which is the hardest thing to do for me.

The park was slow for a Sunday. Not that it matters. It was helpful to have Bill there. Just having one person there helps me get through it. We just keep pushing through, keep going. That’s all there is to do. That, or give up and go home, and that’s not an option. People asked that irritating question, “Do you perform anywhere?” when we had just finished performing a song. Is performing in a park not considered performing? I know they mean performing in a venue. I hope that will happen while we’re here. I believe it will. Performing indoors gives us  the ability to do things we just can not do in the park; try out new music, bring musicians in to play with us, play with our loops, be more theatrical. It gives an audience the opportunity to have quiet and focus on us for however long we do a show. There are so many things I would want to do if we did indoor shows again.

We kept at it today, played through the slow crowd and low and behold, it got better. I’d rather have a slow start and it get better at the end. By the end of our play, people were sitting watching us and cheering. We need so little to be happy. A focused crowd, some fans coming to see us and a comfortable place to live… That’s all. We’re blessed we have that now. Since things aren’t always easy, we appreciate it that much more when it is. We have a wonderful place to live and a wonderful place to play, which is a 15 minute bike ride away. Good friends who come see us. Easy access to food. Our bikes to get us around. A clean, quiet, creative place to work and take time for ourselves. What more do we need? A venue to perform indoors would be nice!

Saturday 15 January 2017

I’m the most focused in the morning. I worked hard on my new play this morning. I’ve been working on it every morning since Christmas day. I’m figuring out more about the world the story is set in. Backstory. It’s fun. It’s dark. I have to write a certain amount of back story before I can write the actual play. I had to go back to sleep until 9am, as I didn’t sleep well last night. I had 4 hours to work before time to get ready to play. I’m being very productive. I’m putting myself on my own schedule. Get up anywhere around 7:30 to 9am, write a page of longhand and work on my play (eventually on the new opera and my novel) until noon. Have breakfast. Sketch, write longhand or read. Do makeup. Play at the park from 3:30-5:30pm. When we come home from prayformance around 6:30 or 7pm, I shower, have dinner and edit the vlog, write a blog and do whatever else I want until midnight. Very productive.

My emotional state before prayformance is very different from how I feel once we start, and when we’re finished. Both here in San Diego and in NYC I am always nervous and on edge before we start. Both of us are. I don’t know what is going to happen. We never know. We can only hope for the best, and usually I don’t. I’m scared the worst will happen. Someone will tell us to stop, harass us or bother us. It never does. We always just keep going. Keep playing no matter what happens. That’s the best policy.

Some of our biggest fans are shy people. This is the case all over the world. The reason I love San Diego is we have the fans and almost all of them stay for an entire prayformance when they come to see us, and they come often. Tori, for example, came twice this week, and said she will be there as much as she can while we’re here. Our friend Bill said he’ll try coming twice a week. Our friend Forrest, who we didn’t see today, usually comes every Sunday. All of these people are shy, and took a while to actually approach us. Our friend Dan (our photographer) in NY was the same. He was watching and photographing Thoth for a long time before he approached him and they became friends. I think we attract shy people to us because our music expresses emotion without words. Shy people are usually super intelligent, but take time to open up and use their words. Our friend Forrest was one of the shyest people we’d ever known. I hope we see him soon.

Our music is intensely raw and emotional. I’m starting to understand that more. That’s how I’ve been singing and performing for years. It isn’t unusual to me or Thoth, but it is loud and raw and emotional. A lot of people can’t handle that much emotion. We are expressing purely what we feel. Nothing between us and the audience. Nothing protecting them, or us. Some stoned people came over while we were playing today. They got too close, but our policy is to ignore bad behavior. A boy in the audience stood near us to protect us and told them to leave us alone. I almost though one of them would try to touch me, but the boy stopped them. I never look at people who are bothering us. We carry on and eventually they leave.

Both Tori and Bill were there today all through the prayformance. It feels good to have two people who came specifically to see us. It’s one of the most wonderful things people can do for us. Just come see us. Talk to us. Pay attention. Acknowledge us. It makes me so happy. We are performing for free in a public park. It’s the least people can do, and I appreciate it so much when they do. We are blessed to be able to perform and live where we’re living. The bike ride there is up a slow incline, but back it is all downhill. The grocery store is just around the corner, as is any restaurant we could want to eat at. It’s bliss to bike around. People call out of their cars, “You look awesome! So cute!” That’s San Diego. We’re actually pretty famous here. We’ve been coming here every Winter since 2010, biking to the park from Adams Avenue. So happy we don’t have to do that anymore. Finally we’re living somewhere we can have fun and go anywhere we want. Hard work does pay off, eventually. Just got to keep doing the work.

Personal Realizations, Fears, Thoughts on Theater and Long Term Creative Commitment

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Photo by Dan Rubin.

Realizations about Selfishness, Not Taking things for Granted and Needs for Validation

I’ve been having an enlightening time since last I wrote.

I’ve had some kind of catharsis. A realization. A growth. A deepening of knowledge of self. I have many short comings. Many faults. I am not perfect. I am not a selfless, pure soul, always giving and never taking. I have a need to be my rawest, truest, most fucked up self and for everyone to embrace and understand me. I want to be able to expose myself emotionally to everyone. I want to be naked, figuratively, to the world. Yet I also fear that. I fear that people will see what I truly am; a deeply needy, obsessive, doubtful and sensitive human being like anyone else. I fear people’s judgments.

No one owes me praise or compassion or love, or anything for that matter. I don’t deserve constant attention just because I’m talented. Hard work is a given. It is necessary and expected in order to create anything greater than myself. I don’t want to be someone who is selfish and constantly needing outside validation for every small thing I do. I want to be a strong, hard working, creative, inspiring, productive and self motivated person. Also compassionate, sensitive to others and giving. The truth is that sometimes I am not. I can be selfish, inconsiderate, full of myself, needy, lazy, greedy, etc. That is what I can fall back on with such ease if I don’t work every day to combat it.

My deepest fear is that I will turn into my mother. I’ve been watching her and how sick she is for this entire month. It tears at my heart and shakes the core of my soul. It makes me doubt all the positive things I see in myself. It makes me wonder if I am doing the right thing. If everything will be ok. If I will die all alone and unloved. If anyone loves me at all and if I’m not just a bother to everyone around me. I can also doubt myself in a deeply disturbing way. To the point that I wonder if I made the right choice to make a life commitment to something when I was just 21 years old. If I’m following the right path. If it will make any difference for my life or for other people. If it’s worth it. I have been talking to a few close friends over the last few days about my doubts, which have been coming up while we’ve been in Nashville this month. I’m finding that I am not alone in my feelings. A friend last night said “You feel as much trapped with a house then you are without it.” Since both my parents own a home, cars, and have all the trappings of a normal life (even though they were both freaks like me at one point), I wonder if I shouldn’t have the same. I don’t want to settle down though. I want to be free. I need to me more grateful for what I have. I need to remember how blessed I am and I shouldn’t give myself such a hard time.

I am an artist. I’ve always been an artist. I can’t be anything but an artist. I live my life as art. All I do is art. I have needs. I need support. I need love and understanding and friendship and unconditional love for who I am. I need to be able to tell people what I need when I need it, even if they can’t give me exactly what I need. I have people who give me that. I can’t take that for granted. I need to be vulnerable and open and raw and honest in my interactions with the world. That’s how I’ve gotten everything in my life. My friends, my husband, my lifestyle. That’s how I play music.Sometimes I feel like I’m invisible, like I’m an island unto myself. Like no one can relate to me because I am so uniquely me. I have friends though. Talking to my friends has really helped me realize I am not alone and that my problems and fears are not unique. Everyone has the same fears as me, no matter how much they have. The grass is always greener, right? “But you need to remember that for some people you are the greener grass.” a friend said last night. I am living a blessed life with a beautiful husband and some really amazing friends. I can’t forget that or take it for granted.

I don’t talk to many people about my feelings because I fear judgment and rejection and denial. We all do. The beauty of life is to be open and exposed and vulnerable. That’s why certain actors move me and certain singers touch me. It’s as if I can see inside them. The barrier that people usually put up to protect themselves in daily life isn’t there. That’s what I strive for in my work. That’s what I’m striving for in my videos. That’s what I am. I am a vulnerable human soul longing to be accepted and understood by other human souls. I am so blessed that some people do truly understand me. I want to be an inspiration to others, not someone who constantly needs validation from other people. I want to be strong, but sometimes I’m just not. I am weak and vulnerable, open to attack or judgment. I take it hard too. I don’t do myself any favors by writing and performing and living the way I do. I make myself incredibly vulnerable every single day and I get hurt very easily. I can over think people’s words and actions to a highly debilitating degree, especially when I’m not prayforming.

I want never to shut down my feelings because I’ve been hurt too much. I have everything because of my openness. I have gained so much because I have been real with my needs and wants. I face myself every day and try to work through my short comings and faults and make myself a better person. I am thoughtful and pondering and brooding. I think a lot. I question myself. I am honest with myself. I am honest with others. I try not to hide what I feel and think and believe for fear of being misread. I always try to give without expecting anything in return. Sometimes it is impossible! Sometimes I just need someone to listen to me. A shoulder to cry on. Someone who really cares about me and sees me for who I truly am. Someone who can love me for who I am, flaws and all. Thoth gives that to me every day and I give that to him. My friends give me that. I am blessed.

The world is very cold and uncaring. It is easy to cut ourselves off from love. It is easy to be cruel and hateful and incompassionate. It’s easy to build walls around our hearts and our feeling and our emotions. If everyone said what they meant, told people what they needed, loved and gave and cared more fearlessly, the world would be a truly beautiful place. We need to be more loving, more deeply open to each other, especially during these times when the world is slowly caving in on its self. Instead of clicking “like”, I talk to our friends face to face or write to them and tell them we care. We show people and tell people what we truly feel.

On Theater as a Vehicle for Compassion

I have always been obsessed with Phantom of the Opera. It is the ultimate tale of obsession. What has struck me recently is just how f’ing obsessed Erik is with Christine, in the musical especially. Up until the first moment of contact, when he brings her down to the lair, he has only taught her voice lessons. He has never had a conversation with her, or that’s what I’m led to assume. He has only been able to coach her from behind the mirror. She doesn’t even know he’s a real person yet. So for all these months that he’s been coaching her, he’s been lusting after her endlessly. Fantasizing about her… And all this time he’s been designing a lifelike doll that looks exactly like her, which he reveals to her when she first comes to his lair. I didn’t realize how f’ing creepy that is! He’s probably been masturbating to the doll, sleeping with it, maybe even having sex with it. When he finally has her, he shows her this doll in the wedding dress and of course she faints! What Erik wants, more then anything in the whole world, is to marry and be loved by and have sex with Christine! That’s all. That’s his motivation from before the musical started until it ends. Clear, simple, and really, reeeeeeally creepy.

Obsession, lust, desire, revenge, murder has been the subject of so many great musicals, opera, books and movies, yet these are characteristics we as human beings don’t look upon favorably. Isn’t that funny? All the fictional characters I love in theater are characters I’d be pretty creeped out by in real life. I wouldn’t find it endearing if someone made a mechanical doll of me, kidnapped me, hypnotized me, killed people for me, blackmailed me or threatened to kill my fiance. Nor would I like someone who grounded me up into a meat pie or transformed into a murderous maniac. Even gentler creatures who were immensely deformed would probably frighten or sicken me in real life. The arts transform these twisted characters into people we can feel for. That’s the beauty of theater and books and films. We can feel for those we probably wouldn’t in real life. Compassion. Empathy. That’s why I love theater.

I can create and play a character who in real life no one would like, yet through the medium of theater or music or art, you can get to know them and maybe even grow to love them. Same as why I love Erik. He would be an immensely unpleasant person in real life, yet I love him because the works created about him give me a look into his mind and his heart. I can see and understand why he does what he does and feel for him when he looses the only thing that matters to him. Michael Crawford said in his final performance speech:

“It’s wonderful to play a man that you can *care* about him loosing, and if we all cared about each other in that way, it would be a terrific place.”

That’s the beauty of theater, it brings deep compassion, care and understanding out in us.

On Long Term Creative Commitment

I’ve been avoiding social media since Christmas. I’m trying to teach myself to work on things that take long time daily commitment to accomplish. I’m good at things that take a day or two (a vlog, a blog, a sketch, a prayformance, a makeup look) but I struggle with things that take a long time. A play, an opera, a book, a painting etc. Things that can take many weeks, many months, or even many, many years. I tell myself I need to get things done fast, or I won’t get them done. I have only been able to complete an opera because we were commissioned to complete it and Thoth was always there. I have never finished a project on my own. I am refocusing my life to be able to do that. There are many things I want to do in my life. Write a book, a play, another opera, etc. I’d also love to paint a finished canvas. All these things take longer then a day. I must find a way to work incredibly hard without needing any outside validation or anyone seeing what I’m doing. I get so much praise when we prayform. I’m used to that, but it can be debilitating when creating without it feels impossible. I must. It is the only way to create the great work I have in me. I know I have something truly great in me that I can’t even imagine now.