Such a bad morning. Every morning has been bad. No work done. Just worry and fear and sadness. Until we have a good prayformance, there will not be a good day. I did dark makeup, which my mother calls “ugly” for some reason. It’s all a matter of perspective. If I listened to everyone’s opinion, I wouldn’t be able to be myself anymore. I have to do what feels right for me. Dark felt perfect for today. Even while I was doing it, I wasn’t sure why I was doing it. So little hope these days. It was another hard prayformance. People acting the same. Tori was there, watching over us. We play, people gather, we finish a song, people clap, we say this is all original music and we have CDs and people continue to stand there staring at us. Unless other people come up and talk to us and ask about our CDs, people seem unsure of what to do. I sense that everyone wants to know more about us. The curiosity is rampant, but us saying people are welcome to come talk to us does nothing. It’s almost as if I could say we’re from the planet Flaberdambibbits and we’re singing the language of the Slamkabet Jaberbams and it would make no difference. People stand there like brick walls. It’s so frustrating. It’s been so long since audiences have stepped forward and interacted with us fearlessly.
A woman came forward and said it’s clear how much we love what we do and we’re not doing it for the money. Easy for her to say. 🙂 That is the truth in a general sense, but not for me right now. I came up with a brand new solo out of the blue, as did Bill. He sprained his ankle on Monday, so we were shocked to see him limping over. That is dedication. What would we do without Tori and Bill right now? They are so dedicated to us! Tori comes every day we play, Bill comes every weekend. Only Dan in NYC comes to see us with as much dedication as they do. I never take that for granted. It gives me the most motivation to know someone has taken time out of their day for us. They care about us that much to take a chunk of time regularly to come out and support us. Amazing.
Thoth’s very strange solution today for getting CDs out of our hands and into other peoples hands was to say they were free. We did give away a few download cards and people came back to his violin case and gave a donation without being asked surprisingly. Thoth believed that might be the solution, but I wasn’t so excited about it. He says I need to let go and allow things to happen as they do. When I hold onto things too tight, it doesn’t allow things to grow. I can’t dwell on money because it won’t allow it to grow. When I can let go, it will grow again. Seems so counter intuitive. Thoth is so happy after a prayformance. I need to remember how lucky I am to have him. I can never take that for granted. I love him so much. I love when he is happy.
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.
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Wednesday March 1st 2017
I finally slept well last night. I fell asleep when I went to bed and slept until 10, just to get fully rested. I was able to work on my play again for the first time in a week. Writing is something that keeps my head straight and out of damaging thoughts. It was a really hard day for me. I have a lot of fear about our inability to sell CDs anymore. We used to sell a lot every day and people clamored for them, not anymore. People don’t even ask about them. It has had an impact on our income. Our albums are beautiful, but I know people don’t buy music anymore. They listen on Spotify and Youtube. When I was a teenage if you wanted to buy an album or rent a movie, you went to Tower Records or Blockbuster. Both stores have shut down and disappeared. The first time I listened to “Phantom of the Opera”, we went down to Tower Records to buy it. Now you just look it up on Youtube, as well as countless bootlegs of the show. When we wanted to watch a film version of Phantom, off we went to Amazon to buy a copy. Now it’s all on Youtube. Sure, it’s convenient as hell, but all artists and musicians are suffering because of it. Even though our music isn’t available anywhere but through our website and from us in person, there is no demand for it. We’re going to have six albums out after this new one is released, but it was our very first, the live version from the Angel Tunnel in 2009, that sold the most copies. It was the least good quality of all of our albums to date. It was live. People even complained about it. There is little motivation to release new albums when people rarely say anything about them and we don’t know how to sell them.
This is how I felt as I was doing my makeup. Scared and unsure how we will survive if the one thing that gives us any amount of stability is disappearing right before our eyes. We biked to the park and sadly it was really empty. My hope that the prayformance would cheer me up went right out the window. We played and gathered a crowd, despite that there weren’t many people around, but they just stood there when we finished, or walked away. I realize that a lot of my frustration comes from what other people do (or mostly don’t do.) I can’t control what people do. I can only control myself and my reactions to what people do. Today I felt like I’m wasting my voice singing outside for free for anyone to listen, yet I don’t know of any other way other than doing what we do to make a living and continue to perform and be creative on a daily basis. We should be performing indoors. Playing in public truly is beneath us, but the market is so clogged up with bull shit and untalented hacks fighting for fame and glory, there isn’t any room for our work to be seen other than in the street. We are pushed to the side. Our beautiful, unique and completely original music in the whole world is pushed into the street to be heard. I don’t know of any music or theater festivals that would touch us. We have so little to show for what we do. People have to see our gifts and hear our work for what it is and know in their own hearts we are gifted beyond measure. Is it our fate to be street performers until we die and struggle to be able to continue our lifestyle forever? We like to be able to do nice things for ourselves, but we can’t these days. We have to lay low. Work on our projects, go play in the park, make just enough to survive and lay low. We don’t like lean times. We’ve experience them before, much worse in fact. In Marrakech and Barcelona and Edinburgh and Berlin, even in NYC, and we were always OK eventually. It all balanced out in the end. The deep fear is that eventually we’ll hit such lean times we won’t be able to bounce back. If we were allowed to play our music freely without fear and sell our albums and travel to any city we wanted to, we can take care of ourselves. It’s when the limitations come upon us that we face fears of our work not existing anymore. Even if we were homeless and starving on the street, we would still prayform. People have their own problems. People just want to think we’re these magic fairies who play in parks all over the world and have no worries or woes. People think our life is a dream. News flash friends, it’s not. I am aware how blessed I am. I am. Thoth is here. He will never leave me. My family is here. They love me and will help if things get really bad. We have fans who care about us. Not many, but they do love us. I wish we knew people who had influence who could really help us and lift us out of the life of street performers. We know James Lapine, but even he can’t help us, even though he loves us and he loves what we do. Can anyone help us? People have over the years. Friends who have given us places to live in Barcelona, Porto, Marrakech, Amsterdam, London, Santa Cruz, Oakland, San Francisco, even Portland and Eugene and Gold Beach. People have hired us for performances in Madeira and Malaga and Sao Paulo and ALMOST in Rio and Martha’s Vineyard, even one time in NYC. We keep ourselves alive through our public prayformance. It’s the only thing we know.
Since we didn’t have crowds today, we played four new pieces. One was the new 3/4 we’ve been playing for a while. The ending was beautiful. Just our two voices weaving in and out of each other, like making love with our voices. Afterwards people clapped, sort of, but they just stood there. Not wanting to show their support, but not wanting to leave. It’s as if they are in awe, yet unable to process what they just saw. Our voices are god dammed beautiful! You’d think people would be flocking forward to say something and thank us for what we do and show their support. No. They just stand there. People sometimes say I’m entitled to people’s support, but you know what? People are entitled to watching us and giving nothing back. Taking photos and videos, saying nothing supportive and walking away. The gall people have! Even if our fans can’t give us money, they hold space for us and talk to us and care about us and ask how we’re doing and spend time with us. That is something. There is so little people can do. The most our fans can do is come see us every day, which is amazing. We want to record albums with a band and a string quartet. We want to do shows with other artists, musicians and actors. We want to perform in beautiful venues with great acoustics. All of that requires money and lots of fans, neither of which we have and both of which we don’t know how to gain. This is the year of my Saturn Return. All of the feelings of wanting more success, wanting to be less invisible, wanting our talents to be recognized are coming forward strongly. I’m in a happy marriage, Thoth and I love each other. I am proud of what I do for a living. I am proud I am traveling around the world. I am proud to be working on creative projects like drawing and blogging and writing a play and a book and running two vlog channels. I’m doing the best I can. I get pessimistic because all the work I do seems to not matter. Things have got to get better. They do usually. We had a rough time last year at the same time, and then the documentary was made about us. Something good has got to happen. I don’t have it that bad. If I didn’t have Thoth I don’t know what I would do. He takes care of me. He’s watching out for me through this time. We know how to hunker down and lay low. We don’t like it, but we still have each other. We’re not going to starve or die or not be able to prayform. Everything is OK. I have to stay hopeful. Maybe this year will bring something incredible to us. Something I can’t even imagine. Maybe we’ll get a commission or a place to live and create new works, or maybe we’ll be given a beautiful place to prayform indoors, or maybe we’ll be given the opportunity to work with the people we want to work with. It’s so hard to be positive when the country is so f-ed up. I have to find a way. Thoth has been able to, so I can. I am blessed to be alive. Something amazing is coming. Amazing things have come, but something more amazing than anything before is coming. I know.
Tuesday February 28th 2017
I’ve been having trouble sleeping the last few nights. The night before last I got to sleep at 4am and got up around noon. Last night I got to sleep at around 2am. I woke up sometime when the sun was out and went back to sleep until noon. I finally feel rested. Finally, after three days. I need at least eight hours of sleep to be able to function normally. I wasn’t able to work on my play. I haven’t been able to write for a few days now. I’ve been too tired. I need to be fully alert to be able to write. It takes all of my brain power. Instead I painted my scary faces drawing with acrylic paints I’d been working on for a week. I painted all afternoon. Thoth took the bus to Sprouts to buy groceries. What a sweet husband he is. I started feeling really shitty eventually. Feeling like I’m immensely insignificant and that our work is illegitimate and unimportant. Fear starts to seep into my head. Fear that I’ll be forgotten, fear of Thoth dying, fear of being by myself and unable to cope with it, fear that no one will care, fear of how little anyone cares in general, fear of not accomplishing the things I want to in my life, fear of disappearing, and fear that none of it matters anyway. We have no stability. We have each other and we have our talents, but we have no consistency accept our will to go out and prayform in the park. We can’t be street performers forever. Being an artist for a living is so difficult, but it’s the only thing I know. I’ve never done anything else. I have to count my blessings. At least I can sing well enough to support myself. At least Bunny loves me. At least I have a family that loves me. I’m never going to be homeless or starve to death. All of that said, I want us to be recognized for what we’re doing with our life. We are worthy of more support and less fear doing what we do. All we can do is continue to do it and try to keep hope alive. By the time I’m 30 I will have been prayforming in the street for 10 years. That is the longest time I have done anything. It’s not that nothing has come of doing it either. We’ve made beautiful 6 albums, we will have traveled to Europe 5 (almost 6) times, we have performed in public spaces and rare private events all over the world, we have friends all over the world, we have created something that is incredibly unique, we’ve performed in front of thousands of people, we even have some dedicated fans who read this blog and the vlogs with open, nonjudgmental hearts. I want for us to be able to be so much more than be street performers. It’s hard to be grateful for what you have when you want so much more. I need to count my blessings and not give myself a hard time.