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.
I felt like shit before we went out to play. Hopeless, helpless. I can’t work on my play. I’m trying to think of ways for us to make more money, but there are none I can think of. No quick fixes. Patreon, but who would support us in the way we really needed? We’d need a significant amount of support to be able to support ourselves. I could ask people for help, my family for example, but don’t want to rely on them for help. I’m so scared and I don’t know what to do. We can’t survive on tips alone. It is barely enough to get by right now. It’s weighing heavily on my mind every day.
I got ready to play and did my makeup as always, but eventually I sat down wondering why I was even bothering. I’m worried about turning any lights on continuously, as it will add to the always unexpectedly ridiculous electricity bill we can’t afford at the end of each month. I snapped this one and only photo of the day. You can read my feelings on my face. What are we going to do? I just wanted to cry. I don’t know why I was putting makeup on. It doesn’t do anything for us. It doesn’t increase our money. It doesn’t help us. It can help my mood, but not today. My mind was elsewhere. I am preoccupied by money these days. I hate it. I need to pull myself out of it, but I can’t seem to. Usually I’m thinking about being creative and trying to write and draw and prayform beautifully. I have managed to keep my thoughts away from money since we got here. Just do my very best and things will get better, but two months of doing so badly it’s finally getting to me.
When we bike to the park to play, there is hope today will be different. There is hopefulness. Today was the same. Tori arrived all dressed up and so did Pascual. He had his hair slicked back and was wearing spats and a tie. Very nice. Both of them would help to sell CDs as best they could. While I was talking to Tori, a man and his wife bought two CDs and a download card from Thoth, That always lifts my mood and gives me hope to day will go similarly in terms of people’s generosity. I was more bubbly and full of good feelings as we started, but it didn’t last. We had a crowd for the first song, but it again was very slow. Crowds here and there, but not generous. I remember writing about these kinds of frustrations in Edinburgh in 2014.
I got more and more frustrated as we played. Same old same old. We were trying our best, people were watching us, but not coming forward. Every time I said we have our music available after a song, no one even inquired about it. The couple who’d bought two CDs came back to watch us for a while and bought another one. We told them they were making our day. The wife keeled next to me and I explained how hard it is for us not to sell CDs and we can’t survive on tips alone. “No, God no you can’t.” she said sympathetically. A sympathetic ear for once! So compassionate, and she didn’t really say much else than that. Just a little compassion goes a long way, especially right now when we’re struggling like this.
Bill couldn’t come today as he sprained his ankle on Monday slipping in the rain. Poor thing! We missed him. I hope he heals up soon so we can see him again. He is struggling too. Everyone struggles. When things are bad like this, the worst feeling is feeling alone, because no one can help us. Only we can figure it out. People could step forward and be especially generous all at once, but that doesn’t happen. We survive by a few people being generous for the many others who choose for whatever reason not to be. It’s been this way as long as I’ve been prayforming, almost 10 years. It hasn’t changed. People are greedy and ungenerous. That’s why I hesitate putting any of our music up for free online, as people would just listen to it and not give anything back, as most do in the park. I don’t trust people to surprise us by being generous.
I don’t know how we manage to keep things going. How do we manage to keep traveling and living in all these beautiful cities. NYC, San Diego, SF, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and London only from prayforming in public. I always fear that will end somehow. The only way it would end is if we stopped doing it. We’ve been to San Diego, San Francisco, Lisbon, Amsterdam, London, NYC, Malaga and Nashville just this year alone. I don’t want to stop traveling, no matter how hard it is, because it’s the only way we can keep playing. I hope things get better. I hope we can find another way, a way to fix this problem. We’ve been in worse experiences. When we finally find success, people will be wishing they supported us more. We need to figure it out. We will be stronger in the end. What won’t kill us will make us braver, stronger, more polished, more shiny and more beautiful. There has got to be a way. Please God make things better for us.
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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