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
Sunday February 19th 2017
I wake every morning from around 8am (9am the last few days) and work on my play until noon. I can only write about one page before my mind starts to get soggy. The idea to create something is much smaller than the actual task of creating it. I came up with the idea for this play while we were in Nashville over Christmas and I’m now finally getting to writing it, after backstory writing and plot creation. I can’t imagine writing or creating something that takes years and years to create. Well, that’s kind of what prayformance is. A lifelong creative project. I don’t see it as a project though. Prayformance is my life. A lifelong creative process lets call it. As my life is.
I’m having fun trying different kinds of makeup and costumes. I can mix black makeup and a light costume/black makeup and a black costume/light makeup with a black costume/light makeup and a light costume. It gives me more things to work with. A larger pallet. I used to only wear light makeup and light clothes, which gave me a certain look. Wearing dark makeup or dark clothes adds something different, and always wearing anything black makes my light hair pop out.
Today’s prayformance was so much better than yesterday’s rainy day prayformance. Seven people came to see us at Balboa Park. Bob, the sweet homeless man who’s come to see us for a while now, Bill, our cheerleader, Tori, our sweet, amazing supporter (who loves to draw us), Pascual, our shy, gentle protector, Sister Ida and Sister Yeshe, our dear friends and Skylar, a girl who was filming us for a documentary she’s for school. All are friends we cherish. As I’ve said before, it makes all the difference when people come to support us. Skylar discovered us last night and asked if she could film us for a documentary. I said yes and she wrote the questions last night and drove and hour from school to film us today. Amazing. Who does that? Who actually does what they say they’re going to do? No one. And she’s just a college student. 25 years old! Amazing. She filmed us all afternoon. I gave Pascual the camera to film several songs. Our improv was super cool. We did a funky part. I’m glad we got it on film! Someday this stuff will be legendary. It already is. We had a lot of fun today. No fear. Just fun singing and playing. Skylar will come to film interview questions tomorrow before we play. We’re going out tomorrow because it’s a holiday. We haven’t been playing enough. That’s February for you. My birthday is on Sunday!
Sunday February 5th 2017
We knew without a doubt today would be slow in Balboa Park, it being Super Bowl Sunday. The world is so backwards and twisted my friends. People would rather watch men in helmets giving each other concussions rather than watch two special people make love with music. To each his own I guess, but I wish the world loved music more then it loved sports. It just shows me how backwards it all is. Sports don’t make any sense to me, as it wouldn’t make sense to aliens. Music would. Music transcends all boundaries.
There was no one in the park. At least Ian would be there to witness us and record our prayformance and interview us for his podcast “Messages from the Multiverse”. Bill and Tori said they would come as well, so we would at least have three audience members. Ian arrived and set up. Bill and Tori arrived during our first song. They’re getting to know each other. They’re the only fans who have come to see us and we’ve been in San Diego for 5 weeks. Usually by now all of our friends have come to see us. It makes me sad. People seem to loose interest so fast.
Thoth told me to let go when we started. Let go of audiences. I did. I just sang beautifully and let everything else go. My voice was crystal. Sometimes my voice surprises even me. I sing higher than usual and do things I don’t usually do. I don’t know if other people who listen to us regularly notice. After playing for an hour, we had a nice size crowd. I did a solo and Thoth did a solo. I could hear people applauding for him. When I came back, he was talking to the audience and they applauded again. I filmed it. That rarely happens.
A woman in the audience offered to film one of our pieces after Thoth spoke. Turns out she was a big fan who’d seen us in New York City. It’s interesting when someone says they’re a big fan of ours and they’ve never spoken to us before. Here we are. Right here. If you love us, talk to us. How can we know if you don’t tell us? Someday you won’t be able to. It does nothing but good.
Tori and Bill stayed behind with us and Ian for our hour long interview, which was lovely. I’ve gotten better at letting Thoth talk. He always lets me talk. I’m learning to embrace myself more and try to get away from negative thinking. It’s a lifelong process. The podcast will be released in a month I think. I’ll share it here when it’s finished. Ian asked me how people can be more creative. I don’t have an answer to that other than J U S T D O T H I N G S.
Tori said something amazing. That we’re some of the most beautiful things in the universe! What an amazing thing to say. I was in shock actually no one has said that to me before. I was so honored, but it will take some time to sink in.
Saturday February 4th 2017
This morning I had the worst time with my play synopsis. I just sat there staring at it, unable to write or think of what to do next. I told Thoth this and he talked with me about it for over an hour until we punched a hole of some kind through it. I don’t want the stories I write to be cliche, so I over complicate them to the point where they don’t make sense. Thoth helps me to simplify. I tend to do that in all aspects of my creativity. I tend to over play or over sing when we improvise too. I have to learn to pull things back and make them simpler and more straightforward.
Breaking through this morning with Thoth helped me feel better as I got ready to play. As we played today, I wasn’t into it. I felt like I wasn’t performing well. Bill and Tori were there, and I felt like I was disappointing them. It’s been a bad week. Very slow, and right after paying rent. Scary.
Today was “permit” day in Balboa Park. We don’t follow the rules. We never follow rules in that regard, we just play. In every city we prayform, accept Lisbon, we are not sanctioned to perform there. However, First Amendment is on our side and people love us. We bring people to the park to see us. Today a ranger who years ago used to make our lives hell in the park showed up out of nowhere and asked if we were having a good time, then he left. That was it. Thoth almost had a heart attack, but I was happy he didn’t bother us. He can’t. I don’t know why we should ever feel afraid of anyone stopping us from doing something that isn’t hurting anyone and is giving many people a lot of joy in the park. A few years ago a fan said Balboa Park should officially sanction us. Fat chance of that happening. See how cynical I’ve become?
It wasn’t until the end of prayformance when we did an improvisation that I felt better. Sometimes improvs just click and feel really good. It makes me feel good when we end on a high note. Long improvisations like these are a testament to my growth. I couldn’t come even close to doing this when I was a teenager. Now it’s a fun, carefree and wonderful experience for both of us. Thoth trusts me more than he ever had before. It takes so long to learn how to do things. I never ever thought I could learn how to improvise, and I still don’t think I’m as good as I want to be, but that’s me never being satisfied and giving myself a hard time.
Our friend Tori wrote something wonderful in my journal. Here’s a little of it: “You two are a force of nature. Your raw, natural love and toil will be known, as surely as every other natural force is recognized.” It touches directly on my issue that things take so long to come to fruition in our life and my anxiousness to do more than I can do in one day. That will be the case, because we are making a creative impact on the world as much as two people alone can. One human interaction at a time, one song at a time, one improvisation at a time, one vlog at a time, one blog at a time, one prayformance at a time, one day at a time, . Some people, the ones who really understand us and love what we do, are able to wait and believe. Thank you.
Wednesday January 18th 2017
This morning we decided we’d go out to play at the park. It’s supposed to rain the next five days so today might have been the only day to play. I wrote on Facebook and Tori said she’d drop all her plans and come. That made me feel good. At least one person. Been listening a lot of Bobby McFerrin, so I suggested to Thoth we do a completely improvised set today in Balboa Park. It would get me out of my comfort zone, be challenging for me, and wouldn’t matter to anyone else as it would be slow in the park. The idea completely depressed Thoth. “It’s too much work.” he said and then went around the house silently until we left for our bike ride to the park. He had a really hard day today. Poor baby. It wasn’t just that, it was super low pressure today, before the rain.
I want to try new things. We can do whatever we want in the park. There’s no expectation. The thing is, improvising completely new ostinatos causes me to not hold them as consistently as I do in our usual set, which causes Thoth to not have as much fun and feel lost. We also don’t move around. He likes to dance and get his blood pumping. I’ve don’t felt the need to move as much. I’m more focused on the music, he’s more focused on the whole physical act of it. Moving, breathing, expelling sound from his body. Sometimes I just like standing there and singing. Most improvisational musicians, if not all, simply stand (or sit) and sing or play. It’s not so much a theatrical show they’re putting on, it’s music only, like Bobby McFerrin does. There’s nothing wrong with that. Thing is, if Bobby McFerrin stood in a public space and did what he does in a theater, no one would stop to watch him. Getting people to stop to watch us in a public space requires a certain amount of theatricality. I naturally revert to being still, while Thoth naturally moves. I was trained from childhood to stand and sing, or stand and play violin. Even after 8 years of dancing and singing and playing violin, I still like to stand and sing. I am a singer after all. My gift is my voice. Thoth’s presence in my life has challenged me to do things that don’t come naturally to me. I’m actually quite reserved in my movements and facial expressions naturally. I have to push myself to move and express myself physically.
As a compromise for our prayformance, we played a few improvs together and each did two improvised solos. That took me completely out of my comfort zone. I’m used to having Thoth there. Playing alone shows me my shortcomings, or what I see as shortcomings. No one clapped after my first solo either. I have a lot to learn, but I am young and have plenty of time. I’m so good at giving myself a hard time. I was proud of myself for doing it. I need to do solos every day. I want to be able to gather big crowds on my own, like Thoth does. The true miracle of Tribal Baroque is that we gather a crowd in a public space and some people give us donations, enough to keep us alive and safe and traveling so we can continue to prayform. I couldn’t do what I do now 8 years ago. Not ever. I don’t know anyone who does. The important thing is to get outside my comfort zone and just do things that scare me, like doing solos.
It’s amazing we can do this. We don’t owe anyone anything. The only thing we owe is to ourselves and to our creativity. We don’t work, we play. We figure out problems, we challenge ourselves, we grow. We do stuff. We do stuff every day. I get to go into one world of writing in the morning (my new dark play/story) then I can go into the world of art or reading or whatever creative act takes my fancy, then I can go into the world of public performance. All of that rounds out for a productive life that I am proud of living. I am proud of the life I live, the bravery and faith I must have to do what I do. The skills I’ve learned, the problems we’ve solved. We make it work. We want to be creative, so we’ve made a creative life.