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I ‘ M F E I S T Y T O D A Y

Saturday January 21st 2017

I made three, count them THREE VLOGS today. Not that it matters or anyone cares! It’s actually amazing pathetic how much free, beautiful art we give to people and get so little back for it. I think that will always be the case. We’re lucky we make enough to survive. We are public servants who are not duly compensated for our work. We give and give and give. I think some day it’s got to change. People have got to open their f**king eyes and say “Hey wow, you guys are giving a lot! We should support you more!” Yeah, I know. We’re not the most important thing in the world. People have their own lives and problems to attend to. People are busy. Blah. Blah. Blah. No one owes us their attention or money because we share all this beautiful music. Who cares right? Yeah exactly. Who does care? Why should anyone care about us? There are many more important things to care about. There’s that EVIL ORANGE CLOWN MAN for example. We should be paying attention to him, right? Not us poor stupid ARTISTS. Who cares about us? Who cares about goodness and beauty and giving when evil now has the most powerful position in the world! What does free art matter! Oh right! It matters because in history people will be in awe of those who gave their art to the world and got nothing back and they’ll laugh at that crazy orange dictator. They’ll wonder how those artists kept going, kept making art, kept doing something giving and beautiful when no one gave a s**t, just as they marvel at the artists of the past who died with nothing for their art.

I know that our success would mean a change has occurred in the world. The world is completely backwards now. Those who give beauty and do good works are ignored while those who thieve and hurt and mock are given the largest amount of power and attention. It’s absolutely disgusting honestly. The world would need to make a huge switch. I know people are hungry for what we do. I know people love our music. I know what we do is beautiful. I am proud of what I do with my life, but I am sicked at how invisible we are. I make art and share our work simply because I must. It is not for now. It is for history. No I don’t have a big f**king ego about what we do. I’m forced every day to look straight in the face how little anyone cares. Everything I share, everything we do, is seen and supported by so few people. If we had a million people like our biggest and most devoted fans (you know who you are) we would be able to do the things we’ve always dreamed of. We cannot now. We can travel and perform in public resonant spaces. I am grateful for what that gives us, but we are capable of so much more. Having to look daily at my insignificance sometimes becomes too painful. I know what we are and what we are capable of, and we are not doing that. We are surviving, creating the only way we can. We have no other way to share our music or live other then performing it in public for anyone who will listen. I want us to have more options. We are worthy of it.

We are worthy of attention. We are doing something beautiful and completely unique in the whole world. I want to perform our operas indoors and tour the world with an entourage of helpers, our band and a chamber orchestra, as well as other artists and unusual performers to collaborate with. I want us to sing in churches. I want us to be legitimized by and be given thanks by all the public places we have performed in. I want us to have a theater space/school in which to develop new works. I want us to have million of subscribers on our Youtube channel. I want us to have contact with other unique artists of the world. I want us to be able to put on the shows as beautiful and amazing as we can imagine, with no limit to budget. The magic and beauty of what we do now is we manage to make raw art and beauty with nothing but our own willpower. No one makes it possible but us ourselves. Almost everything stands against us being successful. We could stop tomorrow and only a few people would blink an eye for a moment. There is nothing pushing us onward but our love and our need to put out into the world what does not exist.

I am grateful for my husband for holding me up, as he is grateful for me. We push each other forward, despite the darkness all around us, which will eat us alive if we let it. Thinking about the state of the world right now too much leads us down a dark path. At least we have our work. It’s all we have. We have a few dedicated fans. We appreciate them more then they know. Those who are reading this, for example, I appreciate so much. I don’t know what else to do. I am doing what I can. Being creating, being a good person, trying to be patient, being loving and giving. That is all we can do. Just keep going forward. Feel what I feel. Get it out in writing and in words and push onward forward. Don’t give up. Let those few special people’s love for us and our work be enough. Let ourselves, our work, what we are doing, be enough. We are enough. We are worthy of what we dream of.

A Struggle Today…

I had a troubling day, Thoth too. I woke up to these words: “I feel like I’m going insane.” from my husband. My poor baby. There is nothing I can do for him when he gets that dark. He said he felt lonely, like what he’s doing has no use, and that death is coming soon and he has nothing to show for it. He has been doing this unique work for 30 years and really what does he have? He has me. Everything else is unstable and uncertain. No home. No medals. No awards. No recognition. No security. Just his creativity, his willpower, and me. How hard could that be for him I imagine?

My deepest fear is we will end up not having accomplished the things I want us to accomplish. I want us to have a theater space where we can develop and perform our works and people would come to see us. To have a community of other actors, singers, musicians, dancers and circus artists to work collectively on a performance, on our operas. People gathered to help us tell our stories, instead of us being all alone in telling them. I fear it will never happen. Right now I doubt we’re not good enough for it to happen. Cirque Du Soleil did it, why can’t we? We have every ability to. Am I just impatient? Anxious? Scared? Doubtful? Yes, yes, yes and yes.

I am not yet doing what it is I really want to do with my life. I want to be making my own theater in an indoor venue with lights and sound and silence and space. I want a place to rest my head that is mine and no one else can tell me what to do there. I want privacy. I want people around me I love and respect who I can creatively collaborate with on a daily basis. I want to be able to travel abroad without being cramped, uncomfortable and unable to sleep for two days. I want to have people around me invested in me, believing in me, relying on me, trusting in me and supporting me to create beautiful, original theater. If we just had the opportunity! How long do we have to wait? It’s a dream I know I can do, if only the right circumstances fell into place to make it happen. Our lifestyle is not sustainable. We can not be street performers for the rest of our lives. We need a team. We need stability. We need a venue. We need investors. We need money. I can’t live like an outsider vagabond for the next 60 years. I will do whatever I need to do to continue making art, but I want to be indoors and have some respect for what I’m doing.

I spent the day with my friend Will and talked through everything. Thoth cheered himself up a bit by talking to our friend Michael on the phone while I was gone. I need to talk to people when I’m feeling sad and doubtful. I don’t do that. I write a blog or make a vlog or post something on Facebook. I feel like an island. Aren’t we all islands? Each alone in our own little worlds, in our own little heads, in our own little fantasies. In our own little dreams and desires and fears and perspective and messed up, fleshy, complicated little bodies.

I feel reality hasn’t really hit me in the face yet. I fear it will. I can’t live like this forever, can I? Making art every day. No real responsibilities accept for paying our rent, buying our food and paying for our plane tickets. Yes, of course I am responsible. I take care of myself, but Thoth takes good care of me. I don’t have the responsibilities most grown ups have. A car, a house, a mortgage, bills, health insurance, car insurance, life insurance… It’s not that I avoid responsibilities, but we have to keep our life simple. We can’t afford to have a home of our own or a car. We can’t really even afford to settle down. By being home for a month (we’re leaving a week from tomorrow) I’m seeing all the things I don’t have. I do want privacy. That would be nice, but we can’t afford it. We couldn’t even afford to rent a one bedroom. We can’t live with roommates for the rest of our lives. No one can. No one does. Everyone eventually has their own space and takes care of themselves somehow. Thoth hasn’t. Yes, he takes care of himself, but he doesn’t have all the things people at his age are supposed to have. He has dedicated himself to a life of art and creativity. Will he suffer for it or will he benefit from it? Will he ever see the rewards of his hard work and dedication to this work he is doing? Will I? He’s burned all his bridges, so he can’t go back.

I realize now how singularly different and unique our work is. It’s normal to me, but that’s because I am me and I’ve been doing it for 8 years of my life. How is it we make a living doing it? How does anyone relate to it? We don’t sing in English. The story we’re telling isn’t clear. How does anyone understand enough to show their appreciation? They do, continuously somehow, but we might as well be aliens to them. No one really has any idea what we’re doing, what we’re singing about or what the context of our work is. All our audiences respond generally in the same way. This month here in Nashville has really made me question and doubt what I’m doing. It’s made me wonder if I’m not crazy or if I’m doing the right thing. I am so laser focused on it when we’re doing it regularly. I have to be. It takes everything out of me, but it doesn’t matter to anyone. It doesn’t make people wonder how much we’ve had to sacrifice to make it happen. How are we able to do this work and continue to do it and live? I don’t know. We have tunnel vision.

In the end, we could change any aspect of what we do. We are completely capable of doing whatever we need to do. I have to trust in myself, in my intuition, in my gut. I always have. People have always called me crazy, and things have always worked out for me. I have to trust and believe things will continue along that line and our karma is clean enough that no horrible calamity will befall us and we will be taken care of. I didn’t have any idea how I was going to make a living when I was 20 and moved to NYC. When I met Thoth, I just knew I had to be with him. I followed my heart and here I am. I have a loving husband, the ability to travel and eat pretty much whatever I want and see my friends all over the world. I couldn’t do that 8 years ago. I have gained a lot. I can’t give up. I just have to keep going. That’s the only way.

I write this blog hoping that someone who might read it can feel solace to know that I am an human being struggling and coping with life just like everyone else. That despite all my fears and hang ups, I manage somehow to go out and make art in my own unique way as much as I can. I feel doubt and fear and hopelessness, yet I find someway to keep going. I am fearful and terrified of what might happen, yet I go out every day and make art in my own voice. I try to be honest and open and vulnerable and real with people. I am a human being. Here I am. I am alive. I feel. I fear. I dread. I love. I am. I am. I am.

Possibilities of Life

Wim, Thoth and Me. Photo by Marja Van Putten

Wim, Thoth and Me. Photo by Marja Van Putten

In childhood, most parents and authority figures try to tell us how to live life “correctly.” They try to lead us down a narrow path that is socially acceptable. Be a good student, get good grades, go to college, get a good job, blah, blah, blah. When we grow up (especially for creative individuals like myself) we learn that life isn’t that simple and straight forward. Now I know that there is no one way to reach my goals. There are many varied possibilities, all of which I must decide for myself. Not one person in this world will find satisfaction and happiness in the same way I will, not even someone who wants something very similar. As children, we’re made to think other people can tell us the right and wrong way to live, but it’s all a sham. It’s all bull shit. My path is completely different from any person who has or will ever live. That’s the beauty of life. It’s all a big mystery. All we can do is inspire each other to not give up and keep trying our best.

If you have a dream, go for it. Don’t let anyone take it from you. I know this has been said a million times before, but life is what you make it. If you want something, don’t stop until you get it. People will try to bring you down. You will bring yourself down. I’m really good at getting down on myself and thinking I’m a complete fuck up. I don’t know what the hell I’m doing half the time, but I just go for it. I don’t let my uncertainty get to me. Sure I have bad days where I can’t take life for another second, but I take those days for what they are. I move past them. I am not immune to sadness, mood swings and depression. They make me who I am. I take all of that and I continue to make music.

I’m counting my blessings today. Despite that I was one fucked up sad fuck for a week, I am living in a great city and staying with great friends and I’m able to travel and perform for a living and I have a husband who loves me dearly.

All Dressed Up and Nowhere to Go

Sunday August 3rd 2014

Thoth and I started discussing flying back to Oakland when we finish our show at Martha’s Vineyard. We were planning to stay in NYC through the Fall, but we have nowhere to live. The idea of not having to deal with New York made us both feel better. Why would we go back? Dealing with the Afrobats is bad enough. They turn up their boom box as loud as possible and play at exactly the same time we play. They even curse at us and yell at us when we get them kicked out by the park rangers. The thieves. Then we have to deal with the various people who play in the Angel Tunnel, all of whom are greedy and pushy. We have no respect from them or from the Conservancy who arrested us 5 years ago. To top it all off, audiences hold cameras in their faces and aren’t as generous as they used to be. Really, why would we go back?

Let’s make something clear. I don’t need your advice. You don’t know me and you don’t know what I’m going through. I am an artist who is struggling to make my art. What I really need is for you to be caring and understanding of my situation. Most of you are and I appreciate that, but lets get some bugs out of the works. When I write on my blog that I feel sad about people’s lack of generosity on Friday, some of you respond by giving me advice on how I should change the way I perform. I am relying on you all for support, the same way as when we prayform we rely on our audience for donations. When you give unsolicited advice, I feel sad and misunderstood. I shouldn’t have to change the way I live because people weren’t generous one day. We make plenty of money, more then most street performers do. Our true friends and fans know we’re doing exactly what we need to do and they never give us advice. Instead, they give us encouraging words of support, a place to stay, a meal or a monitory gift to continue our travels. That’s what we need, not advice. We usually never give people advice, even if they ask for it. Only we know what’s best for us.

Feeling so sad and defeated.

Why did I even bother?

We got all dressed up to prayform, but it was raining on and off all day. I was hoping beyond hope we could play and I’d feel better. We went outside, but the rain started coming down in buckets. Thoth went to the store to get risotto and I went home. I was already soaked. When we think things can’t get worse, they usually do. I’m afraid we won’t be able to prayform again until we go to Rio next week. I took a sad picture and took out my violin and worked on some ostinatos. Thoth came home and cooked dinner while I practiced scales in the bedroom. “Why are you making risotto?” I asked Thoth. “I wanted to make you feel better.” Thoth said. I practiced some vocal scales while I waited for dinner to be ready. It makes me feel better when I sing.

Thoth is such a good husband. He takes good care of me. He always thinks of my needs before his own. He’s able to put aside his sadness and comfort me. He hates when I’m unhappy. “Sometimes I feel guilty that I have a made you into this jaded, world weary person.” he said. I am so lucky to have such a sensitive man in my life. I feel like Thoth is on a similar path Yeshua was on. He was rejected by society because he preached love and freedom in a world that celebrates greed and oppression. I don’t think Thoth will ever be truly respected during his lifetime. I think he will die a misunderstood creative genius. At least I have him and I know how much he loves me.