Sunday May 15th 2016
Hey guys! Sorry I haven’t been posting often the past two weeks. When we’re upended, I don’t have scheduled time for writing and editing vlogs. I’m sorry. It will get back to normal soon, I promise! This past weekend was fantastic. My sister spent Friday afternoon with me, spent all Saturday with us and all Sunday and Monday too before we leave Tuesday morning. I’ve been thinking about and planning this trip for 3 months. I can’t believe it’s happening the day after tomorrow.
Saturday’s prayformance in the park was OK. Someone was playing in the tunnel before we started, but graciously let us play. He knew Thoth. Sis was with us, but no one stopped to watch us for the first two songs. I let Thoth sing a piece alone. “You look like poor little street performers when no one is watching you. When people are watching, you’re famous and special.” sis said. That’s how I feel. “A crowd gathers a crowd, but no crowd gathers no crowd.” I said. A woman and her husband sat down next to us. She gave me a bag with a card and a gift pinned to the back. It was Susan, a woman who always leaves comments on my blog! I embraced her and suddenly wanted to play again. We played a few more songs, but a group playing at the Conservatory was bugging me, so we stopped. “I’m proud of you.” Thoth said.
Sister’s friend Sophia arrived just as we were packed up. “Damn! I missed you again!” she said. I invited her to come over to the house and hang out for a bit. She did. Thoth and I changed clothes and walked down to Indian Oven for dinner with Summer and her partner Ken. They treated us and the food was delicious. Afterwards we went to Summer’s apartment to see her garden, then went home.
On Sunday morning, sis and I went to hang out around Bay to Breakers, it’s a crazy race that going on right outside the house. We walked through the revelers and couldn’t stop smiling. It’s such a fun event. Everyone’s in costume. We came home and she went to an audition while we got dressed for prayformance. We walked to Golden Gate Park. Thoth was nervous about police rousting the revelers. That happened last year and it was disappointing. There were tons of costumed people on the lawn, but lots of police and rangers on bikes. We set up and Thoth went to meditate.
A sax player came in the tunnel and started setting up to play. “Hey man, we’re going to play soon.” I said. “Cool. What do you do?” he said. “We sing and play violin.” I said. “Cool.” he said, and he started playing. I turned to Christine, a girl who had come to see us and said “What the fuck?” Thoth came down the stairs and asked me what was happening. “He just started playing.” I said. “I’m gonna go tell him we’re starting.” I did. Thankfully he stopped and we didn’t have to battle him.
The first half of the prayformance was hard. Thoth had a lot of energy he had to get out when singing. He had been preparing to sing the sax player out of the tunnel, which is never fun. He got his energy out and Christine came into the tunnel to dance. After that, sissy danced. I felt great. We had a big group of people sitting on the grass watching us, including a few friends from my sister’s workplace.
We had to finish at 5pm to get to our gig at Summer’s restaurant. We got a cab (which drove horribly) and got to the restaurant in time. Once we were ready, Ken introduced us and we played two songs. People loved it, but the space was really small. Summer sat us down at a private table with a few friends and fed us dinner. Ragi, Thoth’s childhood friend, joined us for dinner. What a lovely way to end our stay on the West Coast! Now I feel like we have a reason to come back!
Tuesday May 10th 2016
Thoth and I played in Golden Gate Park on Sunday. We didn’t play very long (an hour and a half) but we had fun and did well! I am so spoiled! I’m so f-ing spoiled! I can open my mouth and produce this sound that was gifted to me by my mother, with a musicality gifted to me by both my parents, and improvisational skills taught to me by my husband. It’s effortless. Singing like this was always easy, but I am so blessed to be able to sing the way I can now. It has given me everything I have. My husband, prayformance, traveling, the food I eat, the friends we have. My voice is my life. My sister also has been gifted with the skill to act. I’m not an actor, but I can act. She’s not a singer, but she can sing. We used to sing opera duets together, and we’ll probably perform together someday and have our own thing, like I have with Thoth.
We always gather a crowd. How it is we can travel all over the world and do this? It’s incredible. We’re doing something most people can’t do. Even the most famous performers in the world can’t do what we do. Be out in public in a resonant space, play music and make a living? Nope. Most street performers barely get by, or have to play for many hours a day to make ends meet, and people don’t gather to watch them. They accumulate change throughout many hours of playing. I can’t imagine having to live like that. We play up to 2 hours a day in beautiful acoustic spaces, four to five days a week. We can’t, nor do we have to, play longer. It’s a performance. Put anyone in a spot we play with an instrument, no amplification and tell them to sing or play original music. No one would pay attention to them. The only groups I find that gather crowds in public are magicians and break dancers, circle shows they call them. They’re not doing anything original. I see break dancers all over the world doing the exact same show, same with magicians. How can we be doing something people have never seen before and be able to live the way we do, despite all the difficulties we’ve faced? Because we’re talented, friendly and hardworking, that’s why.
I bet if you looked throughout history in every spot we’ve ever played, and no one has ever used the spot as we have. That’s an awesome thing to think about. Pretty humbling. I have gained the skills to do this, mostly through many years of patient teaching from my husband. I would have never been able to do this without him.
Tonight we had a fancy, romantic dinner at Boulevard. The waiters loved us. We’re always super friendly with our waiters. I think when you’re dressed like we are (unusually) it’s good policy to be especially friendly. People who might be off-put by our outfits can feel at ease. I know people judge us by how we dress. I know that for a fact. People have told us that directly (after becoming a fan) or we’ve heard it through the grapevine from others. That’s ok. We all judge each other based on appearance, but being genuinely friendly really helps. Thoth taught me that. He also taught me to lick my plate, when the food is that good. Yes, Thoth is a very unorthodox teacher.
There is a balance to going against social standards and doing my own thing. I try my best not to worry too much about people judging me, but sometimes people aren’t always going to be nice. It’s rare, but it can be hard. I don’t let anyone steer me off course. Everyone deserves respect. When you’re being yourself, people will be envious, feel threatened and be judgmental, and you probably won’t know about it because they would never say anything to your face. People will put you down and criticize you and give you their unsolicited opinions. Don’t listen to them, unless you feel it’s something that will serve you. Mostly it won’t be because no one knows what you need more than you do. If you want to be your own person, you have to listen to your intuition. Do what feels right. Just as long as you are doing something that makes you feel satisfied and happy (and you aren’t injuring anyone in the process,) then just keep going.
Thursday May 5th 2016
Our trip to SF was tough! We had 2 big suitcases, two rolling backpacks, and two big paper bags of groceries, but we made it. At John’s house, we were greeted by his partner Annie and shown up to John’s room. He’s out of town while we’re here. We got lots of hugs and went downstairs to see the ailing Barlow. He was so sweet. Poor man. “Sorry if we’re bothering you.” I said. “You could never bother me.” he said. We told him we’ll come over and sing for him after we play on Saturday night and went to have thai food.
Friday May 6th 2016
I had a great sleep and got up at 7:30. We rested and relaxed in the house all day. No one else is staying upstairs. It’s nice to have a space to ourselves. It’s been years. We took a bath together in the large jacuzzi upstairs, got dressed and took the bus to BART to see my sister’s show at the Temescal Arts Center! Our friend Michael met us there. Sis created a theater company and made their own devised show, which they’ve been working on for 4 months. I didn’t have any idea what to expect!
The show was amazing. Thoth, Michael and I love it. It was a pretty strong company of 7 actors. My sister’s talent shown through the brightest, though everyone was fantastic. Sis came to the city with us and spent the night.
Saturday May 7th 2016
We were going to go play in Golden Gate Park today, but it was raining. We went to have breakfast and went grocery shopping, then I took a Uber with sis to her audition. We walked arm in arm to BART in the rain and took it to the theater. She had the second night of her show to do. I helped her set up a bit, then did some internet stuff at a cafe. I went back to the theater and watched the actors warm up. It was another great show. The cast and I hung out for a few hours, then at 11 sis and I took BART back to the city to go home. Thoth was waiting for us. It’d been 12 hours since we’d been gone. Sis and I took a bath and we all plopped into bed.