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A Bad Mood Cleared by a Great Prayformance

Wednesday July 13th 2016

I think people who watch us prayform and love our work think our life is easy and magical. It is, but I have my own personal emotional problems. It’s hard to get into other people’s minds and understand what they are going through emotionally. Being anything other than carefree and happy on a vlog or blog or even in physical interactions with others is very easily judged. People act like they’re always happy so they won’t be judged. Like just today I was having a hard day. No real reason. It was partly due to our prayformance on Sunday (if you could call it that). I had a fun weekend, but when today rolled around and I had to face what could be another hard prayformance, I didn’t want to. Thoth is good at handling my bad moods. He loves me regardless of my state of mind. I get plenty of hugs and kisses. I didn’t put on makeup for prayformance. I didn’t feel there was any reason to. Strange, because we ended up having a fantastic night, but that was later.

I ended up feeling quite feisty for the first few songs when we started playing. That’s better than feeling depressed. I get irritated by little things at times like these. A man mockingly sang at me for a split second while walking by. To anyone else it seems like nothing, but in my state of mind then I wanted to scream. While in stillness before the next song, a man walking by stared at us. We were still for enough time for him to wave his hand in front of my face as if to make me move. I didn’t, and I wanted to scream. He even came back and watched us for a while. A drunk man came forward while we were singing and placed a glass of wine in front of us. When I’m playing and someone comes at me, I don’t know what the f— is going on. It scared me. He started “dancing” and “singing” loudly while we were in stillness for the next song. We didn’t move until he stopped. He came back later to try and talk to us. I just glared at him. He really had no clue how obnoxious he was being. The crowd of people sitting and watching us were clearly annoyed, too. It’s funny how people do things to annoy you without even knowing they’re doing it.

I am not the most chipper, positive or friendly of people when in a bad mood. I mean, who is. I just see this more in me because I have to interact with strangers a lot in prayformance. My only defense against bullying throughout my school days was to stop talking to anyone. I just walked around in my crazy outfits, listening to operas. I shut down to the possibility of friendly interaction or friendship. I was always on my guard. I’m like that now. Thoth is much more friendly than I. That being said, I bring people into our lives as friends more than Thoth does, I write and share more online and I put my heart on my sleeve when I’m with people I trust. I need to work on being nice even when I don’t feel like it.

We ended up having a great prayformance. I was thrilled, having been in such a bummed out mood. Having a great play cheers me up like nothing else. Despite the petty annoyances, people were very kind and supportive. It completely changed my mood. I am so grateful for days like these. They put my frustrations into perspective. It’s hard when I’m sad to not get wrapped up in my feelings. It’s easy to look back as I was editing today’s vlog to see what a wonderful day we had.

Trying to Keep My Head Above Water

Photo by Dan Rubin

Photo by Dan Rubin

Not doing well today. Uninspired. I’m trying so hard to write this story for our new opera, but it is unbelievably difficult. I don’t like writing when I’m struggling, but I need to. I want to share how I feel, good or bad. If you don’t want to read about things when I’m down, then stop reading. I want to be inspiring to our friends and fans. I know I affect some people by what I write and say in videos. I feel like nothing will ever happen for us. I feel like something is conspiring to make sure nothing will happen for us. Isn’t that crazy to say? It sounds stupid, but that’s how I feel!

We worked so fucking hard to write this opera last year and I was so hopeful something would happen. Something big that would change our lives forever. It felt like a team of people were starting to form around us. A group that would help our work be seen by more people, not just for two shows in Martha’s Vineyard, but for lots and lots of shows for many years all over the world. That didn’t happen, and it doesn’t seem like it will. 6 months have passed since the debut of the opera, and nothing has happened.

We were in New York for 3 months and shit hit the fucking fan, then we were safe at our friend’s house in Oakland for a month, now we’re here. I feel safe, but we have to pay for plane tickets to Europe pretty soon and I have no idea what’s going to happen. It doesn’t help that we’re not doing very well in the park. Last year it was no trouble to pay for tickets because we had money coming in from the opera commission. This year we have nothing else protecting us but playing in the park 4 days a week, and God knows there’s no stability in that.

Last year it was like we were steering a ship that was manned by several people who were helping us. We had a corse set, a compass and the winds were blowing us where we needed to go. Now it seems like we hit bad weather, the ship capsized and everybody jumped out and now Thoth and I are stranded on a desert island staring at the dark, ominous waters beyond the safety of the beach, knowing that we must go back out into the open water and have no idea if we’ll be saved or not. That’s how it feels right now for us.

I wish I could always be inspired. I wish I never got depressed. I wish I wasn’t bothered that we’re alone all over again. I wish I could just appreciate what we had last year and let it go. It was as if last year we were working at a higher level, because we had support. The truth is, we were always alone, we just didn’t feel so alone. It felt like people were on our side, and trying to make something happen for us.

I wish something magical could happen for us, not just that we had to create the magic by ourselves all the time. We’ve been creating magic for people for almost 7 years. Yes, we’ve had many magical experiences, but nothing that was long lasting.  All the magic that happens to us happens because we go out and play. We create the magic, but creating magic all the time is sometimes really fucking hard. That’s what we signed up for I guess, but that doesn’t mean I can’t say it isn’t hard. Just because I made this life for myself  doesn’t mean it isn’t incredibly difficult sometimes. You wouldn’t think making magic is hard, but it is. It’s because of the uniqueness of my life that it isn’t hard, and I don’t think that will ever be different.

I just have to find a way to keep my head above water.

Trying to Work Through It

Saturday January 16th 2016

It’s been a week I’ve been depressed, but it feels like a century. I didn’t tell you, but I started working out on Monday the 11th, which makes me feel good, but prayformance at Balboa Park has been really hard for me. I honestly haven’t had a good prayformance since we first played there two weeks ago. The audiences just aren’t all there for me. Not very big, not very generous. I feel like I should just perk up and put on a smile. Our friend Vlad from New York actually went to the Angel Tunnel and made a little video saying “hi” to us. It touches me that someone cares that much about how we’re feeling.

I think what’s really hard for me is that nothing has changed. We worked so hard to write an opera and debut it in Martha’s Vineyard and make a new album, but our lives aren’t any different. We still have to go out and prayform in the park and I’m still unsure what our future holds. I thought by accomplishing the commission and putting on a beautiful show, things would change for us. It makes me wonder what the point is. Why bother working so hard on something when it doesn’t change anything?

It’s like life is hitting me in the head over and over again with this reality, and I can’t stop letting it get to me. It makes me imagine what I’ll be like when my husband dies, or something equally traumatic happens. In the past, when painful things have happened, I’ve become a miserable dark cloud that couldn’t smile, but those things are small compared to the death of a loved one. Why would anyone love me if I got that sad? See how dark my thoughts get?

The hard thing about it is, no one can make me feel better. My mom thinks I should audition for the Met National Council Auditions. She thinks getting recognition for my singing ability would make me happy, but that’s not what I want. I want our original music to gain recognition. I want this work to gain recognition.

We had an amazingly productive and successful year last year, but not a single person in the world is successful all the time. I can kind of relate to celebrities who have tons of money and respect and then loose it all because the public moves on. A taste of success is enough to drive anyone crazy. We had a taste of success, and it was so delicious I want it all the time, but that’s not how life works. Success is like candy, gorge yourself too much and you’ll get sick. Life is about continuing onward even if the world stops paying attention as fervently. Thoth got a good deal of attention when he was at the Academy Awards back in 2002 and on America’s Got Talent in 2007, but then the world moved onto something else. That’s life, but really is hard. Thoth’s life has been about continuing to do his work whether people care or not.

Our friend Sarah Kernochan said it perfectly:

“We stood together on the stage of the Kodak Theater in Hollywood, as I received the Academy Award for the short documentary I’d made of Thoth. I was excited to bring his “prayformance” to the world’s attention. He even appeared on The Tonight Show. And then, as is the way of the world, people’s attention waned. Thoth’s moment of fame passed; he continued playing his fascinating solo opera in Central Park for anyone who would pause to listen, making just enough to live from the donations tossed in his hat…”

She’s right. That’s how the world is. I have to find a way to continue when most of the world isn’t paying attention. That’s the only way anything will happen. I may feel hopeless right now, but if I give up, there’s no hope at all. I know the people who helped put on that amazing show still love and believe in us. I know there are lots of other people who love us, too. Over the past week, I’ve gotten some of the sweetest comments and messages from people showing support. I have to continue not only for myself, but for those people who pay attention. No one has to read my blog. No one has to like me or like what we do. No one has to comment or say anything about what I write or how we sing. I’m lucky anyone cares a smidgen about what we do. I’m very lucky actually. I’m not some bum on a street corner with no family or warm place to sleep. I am safe, even when I feel like I’m not. I need to count my blessings.

I’ve realized something. No matter what, prayformance always makes Thoth happy. The only thing that makes him sad during prayformance is when we get stopped by police or something. For me, though, prayformance doesn’t always make me happy. If we have a bad day, I can get depressed or angry or frustrated afterwards. It’s not necessarily the prayformance that makes me happy, it’s the respond we get from it. The generosity, the clapping, the compliments. If I had to play to just a few people every day for the rest of my life, I wouldn’t be able to do it anymore. Thoth would. That’s the big, BIG difference between us. That’s what has made it possible for him to prayform for over 25 years, to continue even when everyone isn’t paying attention. It’s not about the reaction, it’s about the action. Sure, he’s much older than me and doesn’t need people’s approval as much as I do, but I don’t know if this will ever change in me. I actually don’t know any performer who does the work just to do it. The only people I can think of are Van Gogh and Henry Darger. I don’t know how they do it.