Monday, July 12, 2010

Leaving Santa Fe

My last week in Santa Fe was quite a blur. Monday started our full run-throughs, which we did Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. I came in early those days to work with Teal and help with the finishing touches on the stage. Wednesday had me rushing off after a long night of rehearsal and notes to the last of my 80s movie night adventures. I got there for the last 20 minutes or so of the movie, but got to hang out with my buddies and chat for a while afterward.

Thursday morning I got up relatively early to pack up all my stuff and head down to Albuquerque to pick up my mom from the airport. I got her with minimal issue and we proceeded back to Santa Fe to get some lunch. After lunch, we walked around the Plaza for a while and checked out the art. She agreed that the Plaza is reminiscent of Disneyland. We ended up buying some jewelry and felt very pretty. I got a lovely sterling silver feather necklace with Kingman (!!) turquoise. The woman told me that feathers are a symbol of peace and healing. Then my mom and I went to the hostel to check in. The room wasn't the nicest of rooms, but it worked just fine and the kitchen full of food made it totally worth it.

Since I didn't have rehearsal Thursday, we decided to head North toward Taos to do some wine tasting. Unfortunately, by the time we got up there, all of the wineries were closed... Who stops drinking at 6pm?!?! We decided to make the most of our Northwardness and dip our feet in the Rio Grande. Then we decided to just stay out of town and have dinner in Taos and see the stars without lots of city lights. On the way up to Taos we stopped at a river rafting company and crazily enough made plans to go river rafting on the Rio Grande Sunday morning (the day after I performed 4 shows in 2 days). In Taos we stopped at a little place called the Old Blinking Lantern that does New Mexican food. It was quite tasty and there was a band that was pretty good. The dessert was phenomenal. On the drive home, it was a little over cast so we didn't see quite as many stars as we'd hoped for, but we did pull off at one point to see them and it was marvelous.

Friday morning started massive amounts of shows. We had a run through at 11am and then a short break, then our first real show started at 7pm, but we had to be back at 5pm to get ready. It was awesome! Surprisingly less nerve-racking than anticipated. It went pretty well, though everyone seemed to be a little shakey. That night there was a huge rainstorm that started just as the show was finishing so we had to bring everything inside. When we got done, my dad and my uncle (who had flown in earlier that day) followed my mom and I back to the hostel for a few beers. The driving was a bit treacherous.

Saturday, we didn't start until 12pm, so I went out for breakfast with my family and then to the Farmer's Market where I bought some delicious Santa Fe honey. The Saturday afternoon show was the only one not entirely packed to the walls. There were lots of little kids and parents though that were easily impressed, which was good because we were all a bit lethargic in the heat. We only had an hour and a half between the first show and call time for the second, so I just got a bunch of snacky food, including some ice cream. The last show was awesome and my 80s movie night buddies came to watch. We all stepped it up and had a blast. One of my acro routines had a little fumble - my double cartwheel partner and I ran into another performer who didn't realize she was in our path - but it worked quite well with our clumsy, frenetic energy in the piece as a whole and it looked good. My dad and my uncle only came for the second half, which had 3 of my 4 acts, because the benches were so uncomfortable. The second act was phenomenal. We all did really well and really had fun together. After the show we had to clean up, but that actually didn't take too long. Then, some people went for food, some went home, and a handful of crazy people went to a karaoke bar. I was one of those crazy people. We had a blast dancing. It was the best karaoke I've ever been to. None of the awkward, "when is this person gonna stop, it's like nails on a chalkboard" stuff, just awesome people sharing passion and fun. At around 1am I headed back to the hostel and slept for a few hours before getting up just after 6am to meet Teal and head up to river rafting.

Rafting was also amazing. The rapids weren't the biggest I'd seen, but it was beautiful and fun. We saw a coyote near the water and lots of fish and ducks. Teal and I kicked butt in the front. On a mellow part we decided we could totally do partner acro in the boat, so we tried a move, found it to be quite stable and promptly decided to do it through the last and biggest rapid. The guide couldn't believe it and totally thought we were going to fall in... or at least I was since I was doing a shoulder stand on Teal's thighs in the front of the boat. Well, neither of us fell out and we made it through the whole rapid without issue except that we were too freakin' phenomenal. After that, we spent the rest of the time in the boat trying other moves on the flat water. Everyone was thoroughly impressed.

When we got done, we headed up to Taos again to meet my dad and uncle for lunch and beers. Food was so necessary. On the way back to Santa Fe we stopped at the Vivac winery and sampled every wine on the menu - a bit too much, they all started to run together - and bought a few bottles and some specially crafted chocolates that were amazing (dark chocolate lavender... mmmmmmm!!!). We finally got back to Santa Fe around 3:30pm. I got a few things together and headed out for the Cast and Crew Party, while my family went to have dinner.

At the party, we set off a butt-ton of fireworks, with the help of my dad. Everyone also filled out notes for the other members of the cast and crew that I had brought. It was really great to see the love pouring out. At the end of the night there was the obligatory dance party, which rocked. I finally told my crush that I had a crush on them, and they very gently rejected me romantically, but expressed a strong desire to work together in the future and a deep appreciation for what we had created both on stage and as friends. I agreed. When it finally became time to leave, I hugged Teal one last time and of course started to cry. How could it be over already? When would I see these people again? Santa Fe had become home for me and there were so many people I would miss terribly.

Monday morning, I got up with my mom and met my dad and uncle for breakfast. We rushed a little so they could get to ABQ and make their flight, but it was a great breakfast. Mom and I then headed back to the hostel to clean it out and check out. We left Santa Fe around 11:30am under a cloudless New Mexican sky. Near Albuquerque we decided to stop at the Petroglyph National Monument. It was pretty cool to see. When we got back in the car I promptly passed out. We ended up driving the entire way back to SoCal that day. We stopped a couple places along the way to check out art and to eat and get caffeine and to look at the stars, which were out in spades in the middle of the desert. We saw the milky way (which makes that the first of two times I got to see it in only 5 days). My mother, crazy woman that she is, drove the whole way. I slept for a good portion of it and we got to my dad's house around 2am.

The next day my mom and uncle and I went out for a late breakfast and then I took my mom to the airport, after which I headed up to Venice to see a friend. His mom insisted I stay until after rush hour, so he and I finally got back to my house around 9pm. That night he and I and my uncle enjoyed some hot tub time and relaxation that I sorely needed.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Load-In, Lock-In and an Ashram

Wednesday night was another 80s movie night at Tim’s house. Monica was good enough to pick me up and we got there just in time to drink the beers that Tim had before the other guests arrived, who thankfully brought their own beer. We drank and snacked on popcorn and gummies while watching Fast Times at Ridgemont High. We marveled at at the ridiculousness of teenage sexuality and spent most of the time talking to each other rather than paying too much attention to the movie. The bottle of wine I brought is waiting for next week… which will sadly be my last 80s movie night.

Thursday was a big day for circus camp. It was “load-in” where the aerial apparatuses got rigged in the places that they’ll be in for the show and we put up a lot of the set materials. It was supposed to be a day when a bunch of people came in to help out. Mostly it was Teal and me and the directors. Teal and I got there on time and waited around for about half an hour before anyone else go there. Then Teal and I picked out and set-up the “blacks” that will be blocking off certain parts of the studio and creating the stage. We put up sheets to look like clouds and all of the cloud cut-outs that people painted. Eventually Cecil and Cara showed up to help too. Nikesha was fabulous and went out and got us snacks… including CHAI! I LOVE chai. It’s the best! Teal and I each had about three glasses, which pretty much ruined our plans to go get ice cream because we were so hyped up and full of sweet, creamy chai.

Friday was a big day for the circus folks. Early in the day Teal and I trained at Wise Fool and then we went out to Ross to find some costume stuff. We were fortunate to find the last two pairs of purple leggings, one of which I will be wearing for our duet. That night was our cast “lock-in”, where we were supposed to get to the studio by 10pm so that we could work for a few hours before sleeping and then get up and be ready to work early in the morning. Well, things didn’t really get organized until about 11pm and then we pretty much just learned a song. In the mean time though, we had lots of tasty food that people had made/brought. I made and brought my first ever batch of gluten free chocolate chip cookies that I had made at Teal’s place the night before. The dough was thoroughly unimpressive… one (I) might even say repulsive. But, the finished product was actually pretty tasty and they didn’t last long at the studio.

Around 1am we all started to head to bed. We pulled out the mats and our sleeping bags and blankets and snuggled up together. Indi snuggled with Rosie, Avery with Zhenya, I slept between Danica and Teal with Zhenya and Avery near our feet and Cara’s feet near Danica. Before bed, I took a few minutes to snuggle up with Zhenya and Avery, basking in their wonderous love. A few people were still running lines in the next room until around 2am, so earplugs were necessary.

Just before 8am, music got put on and the early birds started their day with some yoga, the deep sleepers continued to sleep, and I grumbled. That morning we still had lots of yummy food. We finally got started around 9:30am and were ready for our first full run-through of the show at noon. We didn’t have any stage hands to help raise and lower the apparatuses and we still had some hiccups with lines and blocking, but we got it all done in 2hours and 45minutes. Hopefully we’ll be cutting that down by at least 45 minutes. Everything went pretty well. Cara might have injured herself badly enough to not be able to do her acts though. We got through most of the actual circus parts without too much trouble. Teal and I did however run into an issue with rigging. The straps for the aerial stilts, even when pulled up, hang in the way of the fabric. Teal got caught while doing a cross-back straddle and in our duet was unable to do our big drop because they were hanging too near her feat. Since there was so much yummy food around, I spent too much of the afternoon eating trail mix and bagels and drinking tea, so I didn’t feel 100% in my routines, but now I know not to eat so much during the show. Afterward, Teal and I stayed again to help with some more set up stuff and decided that it was definitely a good time for icecream. The little shop we wanted to go to we found out had been closed for over a year, so we had to settle for chain icecream at Baskin Robins. After that we headed to Teal’s to watch a movie and stretch and make dinner. We didn’t get around to the movie or stretching because Teal’s hosts were there with friends and their daughter who really wanted to paint all of our nails. I managed to escape before she got to mine.

I headed home from Teal’s to shower and change and then went out to the Rouge Cat, a local gay bar/club, where a bunch of circus folks were going to celebrate and dance for Pride, which we all missed while in studio. I got there at 9:30pm ,which meant I didn’t have to wait in line, but I did have to wait for people I knew to get there. No matter, I danced anyway. When my peeps did get there, we had a blast dancing in the basement… it was HOT, more than hot, moist. Condensed sweat dripped from the ceiling and we slid around the dancefloor on other people’s moisture. Other circus folks got there around midnight and I stayed to dance with them for a bit, but left soon after because I needed to get home and stretch down and get to sleep because I was planning on getting up early and going to an ashram in Toas.

I got up with what I believed to be enough time to eat and figure out where I was going and get there on time. Well, Nikesha had forgotten to give me directions, but I actually planned enough time for that possibility, so I got out my computer, but was unable to access the internet to find directions. No worries. I went to Wise Fool to use their computer to get directions, but the internet wasn’t working there either. So I called Teal to look up directions and it seemed like the place was another hour farther North of Toas and by this point I wasn’t going to make it there by the start anyway. I went back to Nikesha’s to be upset and see if she had returned and left me directions. She hadn’t. I was upset, but then I realized that I was only upset because I was wanting to be upset. I could still go. I could still have my experience. What was I hoping to get anyway? A book? A t-shirt? Or an experience? If it really was the experience I was after, there would undoubtedly be one as long as I just looked for the place. It was then that Nikesha called, apologizing, to give me directions.

The drive was beautiful and I took note of places to stop on my way back, but that I didn’t feel I had time for then because I was trying to make it to the ashram while songs were still happening. The ashram itself is very near downtown Toas. It was beautiful, not quite what I expected, but that made it so much better. I walked around for a while in the garden not sure what I should do, how to act, what was expected, what was sacred, etc. I ended up dancing for a bit out back to the sounds of other people chanting and singing and playing music… it was my song, my worship, my meditation. I came back inside and had lots of yummy, free chai. I played on the playground and admired the plants. I was too shy to go into the room where all the singing and chanting was taking place because I didn’t know the words or the customs or what to do. I felt too voyeuristic to intrude on their liminality. So I admired from a small distance and when the time came, got in line with everyone else to have lunch, which was spectacular and vegan and filled with more chai. It had started raining earlier and while I enjoyed dancing in the rain, I was not thrilled about eating in it, so I found a spot under a tree to eat. Afterward, I checked out the “gift shop” and bought each myself and someone I love a wall hanging. Mine is of Gamesh who represents wisdom and overcoming obstacles… or at least that’s what I understood him to be about. Before leaving I checked out their library and sat reading some of one of Ram Das’ books for a while, writing down things to think about and meditate on.

On the drive back, I was sure to stop at a really great turn off on the Rio Grande. I pulled off the road and walked down to the bank and waded in. It’s a strange thing to so simply interact with something that has previously only existed to you in the form of legend and story. I famed Rio Grande! And I was standing in it like it was nothing! Only I wasn’t making it nothing; I was taking pictures like a silly tourist. I eventually got back in my car and debated stopping at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church, but didn’t. Farther down the road I did end up stopping at a fireworks shop at the request of my father so that he and I and my mom and my uncle can set off fireworks in the desert when they come to see me. I may have spent a ridiculous amount…

Once home I called up Teal and we planned to actually watch our movie. I brought over some food and with our foods combined we made a stellar dinner. We watched Blades of Glory and ate pudding with whipped cream… we may have forgotten to stretch again. Teal, however, was productive and worked on her costumes. Nearing the end of the movie her hosts and their 3-year-old terror got back. The terror had quite a time refusing to take a time-out. I left.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Changing Plans

So, I did stilt walk at the Father's Day Fiesta and it was great. I was able to dance and walk all over (even up and down a little hill), in gravel, on cement, on bricks. People loved it and I love being able to get dressed up and walk around. After an hour my hips started to get a little tired and sore from all the "marching" we have to do while stilting. My friends Monica and Tim, dropped by after work and we got to talk a bit. We made plans to do a movie night at Monica's later, which was great because I really needed to just chill out and veg. When we finally got down from the stilts, Lisa and I bought some Taos Cow ice cream, which is, as people said it would be, very good. Amy took my stilts, so I didn't have to walk home with them and just got to enjoy my ice cream on the walk. I went over to Monica's a little later and we watched The Life Aquatic, which I hadn't seen before, so that was nice.

We didn't end up going to Penasco or Taos, but that's ok, there's still time. Cohdi might not be there when I finally make it up that way, but hopefully he'll head back to the Bay Area.

Monday found me at Wise Fool working with Teal on our duet and trio with Ant. We decided we wouldn't buy custom leotards/unitards and just went back to her place for lunch and order cheapo ones off the interwebs. Then we went to Target to look for leggings and other costumey stuff and ran into Sophia and Jessie and another woman from BUST... all looking for costume stuff and all failing.

That night was acrobatics training, which went pretty well. My duet with Indi is awesome and we are totally getting into our characters with it and now just working on making it look really good with timing and synchronized movements. We stayed super late Monday night so that we could see all of the acro acts and get and give feedback on them. It was crazy. I was so evidently nervous that I was shaking while doing my routine with Indi just in front of other people in the show!!! And this is the one act out of my four that I'm most confident about at this time!!! AHH! That night I didn't get "home" (I moved to a new place, with the camp director) until after 10pm. I opened a can of garbanzo beans and cut up some cucumber and ate cucumber and hummus and unheated garbanzo beans with cheese... trying to get protein and veggies, but so tired.

Tuesday I headed to Wise Fool by myself and met a few other people here. I ran through my duet fabric piece (without my partner) twice and even on the second run-through got pretty close to containing it within our given time. I felt pretty good about that, so left to go buy groceries, mostly so I can make gluten free chocolate chip cookies for our "lock-in"/sleepover on Friday night. So many people here are gluten intolerant, or have cut it from their diet. I came back to the gym that night for open studio and worked with Teal on our trio and our duet. We're still having issues as a pair getting through it. We left around 8pm, so I got to have an "early" dinner for once.

I got up pretty late this morning because my elbow was giving me some issues last night. But I eventually got out of the house and headed to Wise Fool, where I was supposed to meet Cecil, but she wasn't actually ready when she asked if other people would be there and then did not trust that I would be here long enough for her to actually get some work done. Well, had she left even after saying she thought I would leave, she'd still have at least an hour to work... but whatever. Not my problem.

Now, I'm gonna stretch out and maybe head for a pool. It's been so gawd-awful hot the last few days. And then tonight, we've got aerial training. Then I'm hopefully gonna head over to Tim's for 80s movie night!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

A Weekend Full

Friday saw me at Wise Fool at 11am, after having applied online to some jobs in the Bay Area. Unfortunately for me and Teal and Cecil who had all come to train, one of the instructors was giving a private trapeze lesson to three 5 year olds. They were very easily distracted by us even climbing the fabric on the other side of the room, so we sat around and talked and stretched and did crunches for an hour. When we finally got to work, Teal and I went over our routine a couple times, needing a break in the middle. We're a little worried about being able to get through the whole thing in the next two weeks. I went through it one more time after that for good measure. After that, Teal headed home for some lunch and I hung out and stilted around while Cecil (the super buff) kept climbing.

That evening our fabric training was canceled because Amy couldn't be there. So, teal and I went to the Museum of Indian Art and Culture, which is free Friday evenings. We enjoyed walking around and checking stuff out, but didn't have much of a chance to see the arts part before Teal had to go to Stilt training. I took her back to her car, but then there was still an hour of open museum time, so I went back to see the art part. It was fabulous. I was so inspired. Mostly with projects that I thought my old art teacher could implement with his students, but also just trying out different mediums and getting inspired by other styles and stories and traditions. I saw a flier on the way out that advertised Art Alive projects where you can learn to make "Indian" art at the museum, so I might do that this week.

After the museum, I picked up a few groceries and made myself dinner. I relaxed for a while killing time knitting and looking stuff up online and then got ready to go to the railyard for an art party thing. I walked down there which only took me about 20 minutes and was great because it was cool, but warm enough to wear a tank top. I met up with some friends and had a couple beers at a little restaurant right in the railyard. While I was there, a couple of women from circus camp happened by and we chatted a bit. The conversation at our table got pretty interesting late in the evening when sex (of course) and relationships and shame came up. It was fun being the FemSexy of the group. Finally at around 12:30 we decided to head home. My friend, Rob, gave me a ride home and politely declined to stay with me and keep me company (everyone in my house was out of town and I don't like being home alone at night... it's not so much a scared thing as a loneliness thing - I stay up pretty late and potential activities are significantly reduced by the lack of light, so I often don't know what to do with myself when I'm alone at night). Fortunately I was pretty drunk - because of the altitude of course! - and it was late so I just hopped in the shower and went to bed.

I got up early this morning so that I would have time to turn my crusty loaf of bread into bread pudding before heading over to Wise Fool for our Saturday run-through. The timing worked out perfectly and I had two warm pans of bread pudding when I got there. They were devoured. The run-through went alright. We still haven't made it through the entire show, which is scary. It was a little disorganized today and we've realized that there is a definite disconnect and lack of communication between the circus instructors and the artistic/theatrical directors (who are the only people running the run-throughs). We decided today though that we would have a sleep over/super long run-through next Friday. I'm excited. I'm gonna bake cookies!

After the run-through we were all pretty tired and stressed out, but Teal and I had plans to go to Nambe Falls and were planning on taking Avery with us. We invited others and it looked like the group was growing pretty big. We ended up waiting around for a while for another person to come and join us who eventually did not join us, which kind of sucked, but it wasn't too bad. During all the figuring stuff out, Cecil asked if her ex could come with us. She wasn't planning on going with us though. I wasn't so sure it was a good idea, since we'd have to do some logistical stunts to make it happen, it was all BUSTers besides him, and I really didn't like his attitude the time that I met him and I don't like the stress he causes for Cecil. We kind of said no because it was seeming like we wouldn't have room in our car, and Cecil got upset. I felt really badly about that. I mean, it's not my responsibility to show her ex a good time, but I didn't want to make things any harder for her and she had definitely already had a trying day. Well, he ended up not wanting to go with us anyway since Cecil wasn't going so it all worked out.

Teal, Avery and I took off in my car and we met one of Avery's friends and her little (awesome!) son and all got into one car because they charge entry fees by the car. When we finally got there we only had an hour and a half before the park closed, but we made the most of it. We hiked down to the bottom of the falls and marveled at the beauty of our surroundings and each others' energies on the way. Then we baptized ourselves in pure, icy, sacred water. It was amazing. We were all very glad that we went and we took lots of pictures of each other. Avery's son was truly amazing. He was so smart and articulate and had the best attitude. On the hike to the falls, he said that he should lead because he was a hunter, then he started chanting his own little made up mantra "I am fierce and strong!" It was awesome. At one point he fell in the water on his butt on some sharp rocks and just laughed. He is so grounded in himself and confident and respectful and independent, but also very loving. Avery must be one of the best moms ever and I plan to get lots of parenting advice from her.

On the drive back Teal and I made plans to go out to Taos tomorrow after training to check out some leotards and unitards that this woman makes custom. We might stay the night in Penasco and hang out with Cohdi! We'll see. If we have time, I might stilt walk around at the Father's Day Fiesta tomorrow before we leave for Taos. We'll see. At any rate, it's a full, fun, beautiful weekend.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Revelations in Church and the Realization that Walking on Stilts is Easier than Childcare

Yesterday I decided to give my arm a break and check out some of the touristy attractions around downtown Santa Fe. The museum I wanted to see was closed, so this primarily consisted of going to the famous churches downtown. Apparently, Santa Fe is home to the oldest church in the US, the San Miguel Mission, which is currently under construction for renovation, and costs a dollar to enter. The next church on my route was the Loretto Chapel. This one cost $3 to enter, and I did. The church features a continuously looping recording that explains its history as well as the famous spiral staircase. According to the recording, this spiral staircase was built by a guy (in the 19th century?) who used only a triangle and hot water to shape the wood... and probably a couple other things that I can't remember, but the gist is very few tools. The staircase has no external support (it's not attached to the walls near it, nor does it have a center pillar/pole thing that it uses for support). The only thing holding it up is the "perfection of its design," says the recording. This guy also happened to build the thing and then leave without taking payment or leaving a bill. He also didn't build a banister for it... so maybe he was hoping to make it a death trap and he didn't really want payment in the first place. Eventually the nuns got another really great architect to build a banister. The chapel no longer functions as a church - as if that weren't evident by the $3 admission or the looped recording, but does house community events from time to time. The only way out of this chapel is through the gift shop, which, upon entering, has a metal water cooler-type thing labeled "Holy Water". From its tap, you can pour yourself and tiny refreshing cup, or you can easily purchase one of their handy, pre-filled vials for a mere $3.95. And, if everything in the gift shop is too pricey for you, or you just happen to collect smashed pennies, there is a convenient penny smasher outside that will leave your penny with the imprint of the famous stairs. I love it when Christianity turns so smoothly into capitalism and consumerism.

On to the next church! The final church I stopped at, St. Francis Cathedral, did not have a cover charge, as it actually does still function as a church... from time to time. Inside this church are all kinds of artistic treasures including paintings of saints. One of these saints is surrounded by parrots and holding a small dark child to whom he is waving his finger. Another is severely dressed with a hand on the shoulder of a dark child who is wearing a headdress. Another is standing over two young children, a boy and a girl, and the boy is bent over carrying a huge black bag full of something. Ah the saints! Thank goodness for white, christian imperialism and the conquering of the savages! Outside this church there is a statue of the first Native American to reach sainthood. If only I were naive enough to see it as the native people rising to the ultimate heights of spirituality and acceptance into Society (with a capital "S" because there is only one true society, of course). However, I recognize that this was all part of the destruction of another culture and the imposition of certain white, European ideals. Despite all that, I did pay my $0.25 donation to light a prayer candle and I prayed for something or someone to save us from ourselves. To give us some assistance in stopping the oil leak. To preventing us from killing off ourselves and our planet for our children and their children.

After that, I sat outside in a nearby park and knitted a few rows and ate an apple before walking around the plaza and heading home. I love downtown Santa Fe; it is so quaint. The Plaza almost reminds me of Disneyland, so neat and perfectly laid out, with christmas lights in the trees year round and pots of flowers hanging from the street lights. It's like nice part of the wild west.

That evening I went to aerial training at Wise Fool. We seem to not ever have enough time at aerial training, but we did get some things done. Teal and Ant and I worked out more of our Jungle-trio routine and it looks like it will work out pretty well. Teal and I went over a couple things, but mostly just found out that we are much slower climbing and transitioning between moves than we thought we were, so we had a better idea of how many things we could fit into the routine.

After aerial class, a few other ladies and I headed downtown with stilts and puppets to walk around the Reporter Block Party. The Reporter is like the SF Bay Gaurdian, it tells people what's happening around town. Since I hadn't been trained in stilts before, I got to carry around a bird puppet and be my friend's hand to lean on if she, up on the stilts, thought she might fall. It was pretty fun; there was lots of dancing and free samples of honey - which I absolutely must buy before heading home because it is so delicious. That night as we left, there was talk of adventures for this weekend... lake trip, hot springs, sleep over... we'll see.

This morning I got up and headed over to my instructor's house to watch her eight-year-old daughter while she trained and worked on a routine. The plan was for us to go to their neighborhood pool and chillout until the afternoon when her mom would be home. The pool wasn't open yet when I got there so we jumped on their trampoline a bit to start off with. My little charge, then told me that her knee was hurting and that she didn't feel like going to the pool, but would prefer and board game. She picked one out that involved shopping in a grocery store; you had a list and had to get all of the things on it before you could leave. During this game our imaginations ran away with us a bit. At some point a dog was in the store farting, which smelled so bad, I used my bubble gum to blow a bubble that I could breathe out of instead of inhaling the foul air. This giant bubble burst all over me so I had sticky bubble gum everywhere. Somehow this started a bubble gum fight between us and I ended up repeatedly stuck to the floor or some other thing with bubble gum. Then, a honey spill was causing my shopping cart to get stuck to her toes every time I tried to take my turn. Then the store started repeating everything I said (over the intercom?). Then the dog started farting again, then pooping, then pooping on me and all over my house. Then it was a whole nother ordeal to get clean. At some point there were also bees that kept stinging me, but not her. Needless to say, when her mom got back I was exhausted. I seem to always get myself into these situations with kids; I react strongly and play along with their games and then things just get crazy and they keep making up more radical stuff to get me to keep reacting. Then I just don't know what to do, cuz I can't just say, "ok that's enough, it's not fun anymore," and it is fun, it's just I somehow let little kids have complete control over me in that way. They create the world and I just go with it no matter how crazy.

Right after her mom got home we were supposed to have a stilt-walking lesson in exchange for the childcare, but my friends texted me from the gym and told me to come train with them. So, I went to Wise Fool and climbed around on the fabric for a while. It was good though because Teal and I actually choreographed our routine. We came up with the moves and it should work with the timing, we just need to work on synchronizing with each other and the music. After this, I was even more tired, but since my instructor had the time today and I wanted to learn before Sunday so that I could stilt-walk at a Father's Day event, I went back over to her house and walked to a nearby park to learn how to walk on stilts. It went really well. I didn't get hurt at all and I picked it up really quickly; my instructor says I'm a natural and she had thought that would be the case when she agreed to teach me. I can already walk on my own, do pivot turns, side-steps, grapevines, and nearly a box step. It was great fun and I'm really glad I did it. She's going to give me instructions on how to build by own stilts so that if they don't get a shipment of them in that I can buy a pair cheep before I leave, I can make my own when I get back to Berkeley.

Now it's time for a relaxing evening. I'd thought I might go out for another movie night but apparently it was canceled, so I might just chill at home or go for a walk for some yogurt!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Injuries - persistent, expected, avoided, emotional, spiritual

My hike on Sunday was great. I made it to the top of Mount Atalaya - 9,000+ feet... I'm already at 7,000+ feet so it wasn't THAT crazy, but it was a good bit of walking. It started at an arroyo where water flows just below the ground and there are lots of trees and grasses and flowers, lovely! As I hiked up there were lots of pine trees, then fewer trees at the top. I took my time stopping in the shade to drink water, taking pictures, enjoying the scenery. At the top I stopped to check out the view of Santa Fe and to meditate a smidgeon. When I walked down I was totally shocked at how much I had hiked. I kept getting to places that I had seen and being like, "Oh yeah... I remember this!" And then I'd go further, expecting the trail to end soon and find that there was a whole nother landscape I had forgotten about that I still had to walk through. It was all very beautiful though.

While on the trails, I got to help two groups find their way, which was really cool. I like it first of all when people think I look like someone who knows something, and second of all when I actually do know that thing and can help them.

Sunday night was a good one, I was able to sleep the whole night through without elbow pain or having to get up and take ibuprofen or sit up on the couch. I was so grateful. I also had bought a new soft brace for my elbow Sunday evening so Monday, when I felt so good at Wise Fool and had my new protective brace, I may not have used enough caution with my climbing. I was pretty much back in it. I learned two new drops from Amy C and had a great time. I did stop before I had worked too much, trying to preserve my elbow.

In the afternoon I drove down to South Santa Fe to check out a vintage showroom/warehouse thing. It was pretty cool and the guy was very nice, but it was far too expensive. I saw a couple things that I really liked but wasn't about to drop $45 on a gold and black super cool embroidered leotard thing. It was a nice little trip that took up some time and got me acquainted with more of Santa Fe's layout.

In the evening we had acrobatics class for 3-1/2 hours. We started with a pretty fun warm up called Jackfruit and Pomegranate. We got in pairs, one as the jackfruit, one as the pomegranate and they would say, "Jackfruit chasing Pomegranate while skipping, doing 5 burpees before you can chase" or something like that. So, we skipped and burpeed, hopped and jumping jacked, and bear crawled and mountain climbed. I kicked so much as at the bear crawling that my partner never caught me... my shoulders are really sore today from that though.

We worked on our group routine for a bit and it was really good to have Amy C there to just say, "ok, we're doing this", instead of us just throwing out a bajillion ideas all night. We actually made progress. It's not the thing I'm most excited about in the world, but it'll be cool and fulfill it's function in the show. Afterwards, I got to work with my duet partner, Indi, who is A-mazing. We had a lot of fun joking around and working on our routine, which is pretty much done. It's going to be so cool! We're now working on doing our moves in a slow, creepy, bug-like way. One of those moves is a "2 high" in which one person (me) stands on another person's (Indi's) shoulders. We're really good at that part, so Indi said it would be cool if instead of me just jumping off in front of him, that I did a forward flip off of his shoulders. I was like, "I'm game. I think I'll have plenty of time to get my feet under me from being on your shoulders, so yeah, let's do it." Indi brought over a mat, thank goodness - foreshadowing - and we popped up to 2 high. We readied ourselves and I bent over and grabbed his hands and went for it. It was strange because we had some control over how fast I came down because we were holding hands, so at the beginning I was like, "oh, I'm falling, but not that fast, it's ok." And then all of a sudden the rest of my body was on top of my head on the mat. I rolled to sitting and started laughing as the rest of the room looked at us in shocked silence. "I'm ok!" I said through laughter. They were unsure if that was really the case. Indi was a little worried too. But it was all alright. I got up and we decided to maybe not try that again.

That night, tragically, my elbow did not behave. At almost 2am it "woke" me (I say "woke" because I hadn't fallen soundly asleep yet even though I had been in bed for over an hour). So, I got up and went to the couch with my pillows and blankets and propped myself and tried to relax till my elbow stopped hurting. I decided that since it wasn't even 1am in California I ought to call a lover and catch up. Thankfully he was awake and we got to chat for a while. The conversation helped take my mind off my elbow, which I think helped it stop hurting faster. When the conversation ended I leaned back on my pillow prop and tried to sleep, but failed. A little while later my elbow started giving me crap again which kind of freaked me out because I was already in my propped up position that was supposed to make it not hurt. So, I sat completely upright for a while and waited again for it to stop hurting. Finally I was able to get to sleep sometime after 3:30am.

My friend Cecil texted me at 9:30 because I'd told her I could take her to the gym in the morning since her bike had a flat tire. So, groggily I got up and ate breakfast and headed to her place in my jammies. We went to the gym and I figured it wouldn't be a good idea for me to climb, so I sat and knitted and we talked for a while. Eventually I decided to change into my workout clothes and do some crunches and backbends and stretches. Afterward I took her to the bike shop so she could fix her tires and then headed to Trader Joe's to get some butter, wine, orange juice, and apples... so me.

When I got home I made lunch and check e-mails and, with the newly purchased butter, made my first ever batch of carrot cake. It turned out pretty well for high altitude and not having vegetable oil. The frosting is pretty bomb as well - cream cheese based of course! I brought a small pan of it to open training where many people enjoyed it, particularly Indi, which made me very happy. I love to bake for people!

I did climb at open training since it was the first time I got to work with my fabric partners since Friday. I tried to take it easy though. I learned a new climb - which I'm not terribly fond of - a new creepy spider like descent, a new way to get into bird, a new drop from bird, and a new dive/drop. It's good to learn, but none of them really excites me as of yet, but a least they are more options. Indi and I worked on our routine a tiny bit, but the gym was so full we had a hard time finding a place to do it, but we still had fun joking around and trying to look creepy to each other. I skipped out a bit early so that I could catch a film showing at The Screen at College of Santa Fe's theater. It was called Two Spirit and was about Fred Martinez, a Navajo highschooler who was brutally murdered for being gay and dressing like a woman. It was an interesting look at both Navajo (and Native American) culture particularly around gender identity as well as a really tragic story of a young man/two-spirit and his family. I cried. Big surprise.

At home I made a quick dinner and chatted for a bit about the state of the world with one of my hosts... quite a bummer. We started talking about the news and the oil spill and got into politics and basically how there's nothing we can do. She said when she was in her early twenties she was all bright eyed and bushy tailed and optimistic and now she can't imagine that my generation gets to feel that. Yeah, a little bit. Even if we aren't slowly killing the world, other animals and ourselves, we sure are depriving my generation of the optimism and idealism that we are entitled to as young adults. But, tragically, I honestly don't think that is all we are doing. Every generation has people saying, "The end is nigh!" And some generation's gotta be right. Based on our impressive efforts, I'd say we're well on our way to being the generation that finally witnesses the downfall of nature and humanity as we know it.*

*And just so all y'all adults out there know - particularly those involved in the outright rape of the world and destruction of forests, rivers, lakes, oceans, and once fertile soil - if I have to tell my children that there really were such things as polar bears and that once upon a time a trip to the beach meant swimming in the ocean, the Universe will not forget what you have done and your consciousness will go on to see what you have destroyed and your grandchildren will be ashamed to have your last name.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Elbow Pain and Penasco

This weekend I am house-sitting for my couch surf hosts. It's nice to have privacy, but I'm a co-oper at heart and it's still weird to me to come home to an empty house. Friday night I entertained myself with making bread pudding for the first time. I had a dried up half baguette so I figured I'd put it to used. The bread pudding turned out pretty well, the worst part is not having someone to share it with.

I was trying to go easy on my elbow as it had been giving me a little pain during training. I actually didn't climb at all Saturday and had been limiting my climbing on Thursday and Friday. It appears my efforts may have been in vain though as Friday night that weird thing that happens late at night where my elbow hurts to the extreme and wakes me up and requires medicating before going back to bed happened. I woke up around 2:30am to my elbow aching really bad. I got up and took some ibuprofen and sat and rocked while reading a Santa Fe magazine for a while. It was seeming pretty endless and I started thinking that I may have ruined my whole trip to Santa Fe by getting injured and coupled with the pain it was enough to make me cry and (since no one was here to hear anyway) drop a few loud f-bombs. Finally it stopped hurting, so I laid myself back down to bed only to find that about twenty minutes later (before even falling back to sleep) my elbow started hurting again. I took another ibuprofen (now on pill number 3) and sat and rocked some more. It was then it occurred to me that it might have been something about being horizontal that made my elbow hurt, not something about it being bent. This belief was confirmed when it stopped hurting, I laid back down and it started hurting again. Finally I took my pillows and blankets to the couch and propped myself sitting upright with them and was finally able to sleep around 5am. Blegh.

The next day, Saturday, was a full cast meeting at circus camp. We started blocking the show, creating set pieces, and figuring out who is singing what. So... now I'm singing in two numbers and have my own little one liner in one of them. Who would've thought?

Blocking went well, but we only got through 2 acts of 5 so we might need to devote a little more time to this project to actually get it done by early July. It's pretty exciting to see how everything is going to look.

I had been planning to perform Saturday night at a benefit with some other BUSTers, but that fell through due to their schedules. So, I was available to make the one hour trip up to Penasco to help out with their benefit - at which three of my instructors from BUST and one of my instructors from the Athletic Playground (and not-so-secret infatuation) were performing. It was a fancy affair since they were trying to raise money to bring the theater up to fire code. It was phenomenal. Penasco is so beautiful and peaceful. It's like heaven. They had a giant trampoline that we (my duet partner and I) jumped on. The theater is attached to this old adobe house and is SO cute and awesome! Attached to the theater is a gourmet restaurant called Sugar Nymphs Bistro. They catered the evening and it was fabulous. I got to help set up, help out at the door, and sell raffle tickets... and when I wasn't working I got to watch all the performances, where I got to be amazed my my teachers and fall even more for my aerial crush - something about his performances just makes me want to weep at the beauty. As the night wound down, we got to have a couple glasses of free wine and some gourmet bread. Teal (my duet partner) offered me a place to stay with her for the night, but I thought it best to come back to the house that I'm house-sitting.

It's good that I did because my elbow acted up again. But this time, armed with new knowledge, I sat up right away, didn't need ibuprofen, and just moved my blankets and pillows to the couch and went back to sleep without too much issue. Teal and I also plan to head back up to Penasco in the next week or so to hang out with the wonderful people, train with my infatuation - and be in awe of him the whole time!, jump on the trampoline, and go up to Taos to check out some costume stuff for our act. Fabulous!

Now it's time to finish the dishes before my hosts get back...

Friday, June 11, 2010

Getting into the Groove

Yesterday was pretty awesome. After training for a bit at Wise Fool, I headed out for some hiking. The trails were pretty close and pretty easy to find. I pulled off the road, slathered on some sunscreen, grabbed my hat and backpack and headed off.

The trails were nice. I was for some reason surprised that there were pine trees, and then that there were pine trees and cacti growing side by side, but then I remembered that we have the same craziness in California... only it seems like it's not as deserty. The path wound through some awesome rocky areas that must have been part of a creek at some point. There were more trees in general than anticipated. I kept following the trails and as they gained more elevation, the trees dwindled. I finally got to the top of whatever peak thing I was on and had a fabulous view of Santa Fe. On the way back down I was inspired to meditate and write some poetry, which was great until the flies wouldn't leave me alone for even a second. I think they were attracted to my saltiness.

When I got "home" to my friend's friends' apartment, we all jumped in the car and went grocery shopping, a much needed errand. When we got back, we all pitched in and made a tasty dinner - graciously, from their food. I helped one of them clean up the kitchen and then another friend met us and we went out to their friend's 80's movie night. We watched "Pretty in Pink" and drank a bunch of beer. We played a drinking game where whenever there was synth music or shoulder pads the last person to touch their nose had to drink this "nasty" beer, that I quite liked. It had salt and clamato in it... it basically tasted like a beery bloody mary.

This morning I got up and packed all my stuff back in the car and headed to Wise Fool, trained a bit and then changed to go to an interview at a food co-op. The interview went pretty well. The guy liked me a lot and told me he would recommend me to his supervisors. Only problem is I won't hear from them (if I do at all since there were over 80 other applicants) for another week to 10 days... so I probably won't be able to work for them anyway. But, crazy thing, when I got back to Wise Fool right after, there was a guy looking for people to help with tech work next week and he'd pay better than the food co-op, so I stand to make a little money next week!

This evening's training went pretty well. My fabric partner and I have a beginning to our act and we taught each other a couple of moves. It's a little frustrating because we have different names for the same moves. That in and of itself isn't that frustrating, but the fact that she and the instructor just comment on it all the time and talk about how much more difficult it makes things is frustrating. We waste so much time saying the same stuff over and over again. Anyway, it was still a good night. After class I went to the grocery store again because I really only got the bare necessities last night and I want to make bread pudding with the rest of this baguette I have.

Anyway, the agenda for tonight looks like making bread pudding, re-dying my hair, possibly watching a movie, and possibly going to another circus camper's birthday party... but I'm not sure. I don't know her that well. I probably should go and bond, but I'm also feeling lazy and like I really wanna try making this bread pudding. lol. We'll see.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I've been training twice a day thus far this week, but I probably won't train a second time today... it's my "day off". Things are still going really well at camp. My solo got turned into a duet, which is fine. It takes some pressure off me and allows another woman to have a big act. She's great, so I think it will be a lot of fun to create something together. In addition, I got an extra transitional fabric part that should be a lot of fun. It is with the woman I'm performing the duet with and another woman... we get to be monkey! Intrigued much? Hells yeah you are!!

In other news, sadly, I haven't been on any hikes in a while, but that should change today. I'm planning to go out the Dale Ball trails just outside of Santa Fe and trek around for a while. I'm also in search of pools and swimming places because it is freakin' hot here. I talked to one of my instructors the other day and she asked if I would do some childcare work-trade with her. Free swimming for looking after her 8 year old while she's training. I'm down.

Saturday looks like it will be a big day. We have training, which will involve getting all the acts together and creating all the transitions. Then it's Albuquerque Pride. Then some other BUSTers and I might be performing at a benefit, just doing some acro stuff together. Then it's a Pride Afterparty/Poolparty. So down!

Right now I'm at a different house than I had been. My hostess' roommate's parents are in town for a couple days and they needed the space I was in. It's all good though because at that bbq my hostess had last Saturday I met a bunch of her friends, two of whom were gracious enough to put me up for a couple days. This weekend I'll be house-sitting for my original hostess because she and her housemates will be out of town. They might end up letting me stay through early July if I help out with rent and utilities. I'm down, if it means I don't have to be moving around all the time.

Just yesterday I started to feel the first pangs of homesickness. Not that I really miss a particular place, but that I miss feeling like I'm going home and have my own space. And much more so missing the people who I associate with home. I meeting so many cool people out here, but I miss baking cookies with Ben, making pancakes with Elliot, dancing with Alex, griping with Athena, chatting with Claire, and drinking with everybody.

I'm still looking for a job, but I'm feeling less hopeful. I have an interview tomorrow at a food co-op, but I doubt they'll want someone for 3-1/2 weeks. We'll see.

Well, I'm off to the trails... but first sunscreen.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Circus Camp is SA-WEET!

Training for circus camp actually started today and it freakin' rocks!! I'm totally stoked and a half. A little nervous that it's too much to put together in 4 weeks, but gonna bust my balls trying!

I showed up at 5:30pm for the first session of Acrobatics training not really knowing what to expect. The warm up kind of kicked my ass. We had to do a set of 20 "burpees" that involved crouching and jumping up, then coming down and jumping back into a plank position and then jumping back to a crouch and then up again. Around 15 I started to lose it. I made it through, but barely. I was weezing like you wouldn't believe. We ended up having to do 5 more because we hadn't been in sync for the first 20. But, one of the trainers said, "Come on guys, if Caitlyn can do it you can; she just got to elevation." It's so freakin' true! 7,000 feet makes quite a difference in one's ability to breathe... also apparently in ones ability to cook and boil (as I found out this evening).

Once we got started, I was put into two acrobatic groups - a group transitional piece that is only a minute and a half long, and... a duet! with a freakin' fabulous partner who is super strong and stable and knowledgeable. The two of us got to work for quite a while together and I already learned so many new moves! I'm so excited. We are going to kick butt! The transitional piece is also going really well and we had some great ideas thrown out.

Then, as I was leaving, the acro/aerial instructor came up to me and asked me if I would like to do a SOLO AERIAL ACT!!! There are only two major aerial acts in the show that will either end up being solos or duets, and it looks like Cecil and I nabbed them! So, it's kind of just up to us if we want to do both together or our own individually! I'm so stoked!!!! Terrified because my act is 4min. and 19 sec., but stoked! I was working on an act for the student showcase at the Athletic Playground that was the exact same length and it took me a couple weeks to be able to get through the whole thing without needing a break, so we'll see how this goes with only a few weeks to prepare and some elevation issues to contend with!

Hooray hooray hooray! Yippee!!!

So, tomorrow is open gym and lots of practicing, then Wed. and Fri. are aerial class, then Sat. we come together to work as a group on the whole production. In the free time I'll be applying to more jobs, hiking, and working out at the gym!

SA-WEEEEEEEEEET!! BUST = best choice ever!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Monsters and Abiquiu

Another phenomenal day in Santa Fe. I woke this morning and started my day with some tea and cereal. And then I remembered something. Today was Monster Battle, at high noon.

I'd heard about it yesterday during the first session of BUST and immediately decided to go. But, like so many things - including Day of Silence, which I always break before I remember that it's happening - I didn't remember when I woke up and needed a few minutes for it to hit me. Which, consequently, was great because I got to be excited about it all over again.

Even last night I had no idea what monster I would be. I mean, I didn't bring any costumey stuff. So, this morning it was an additional challenge to figure it out. I first thought I'd just go get some fangs at a costume store, then thought better of spending money on more crap I'll only use once. Then I thought, I could be a zombie. Don't need much for that besides white make-up and dark eye shadow and perhaps some red stuff for fake blood and dirty clothes. But, then I thought, how boring. Which is when I came up with a fabulous idea - I would be The Fame Monster, Lady Gaga.

I got in my costume and figured out where the plaza was and headed off. When I got to the Plaza, there were only a few other monsters, so I decided to sit down on a park bench and wait for a critical mass of monsters to show up and start the fight. Surprisingly enough, one of the first monsters there was a guy I had met the night before at my host's cookout - which was awesomely delicious and fun. The battle finally started when a group of about 5 pirates showed up together. The rest of us just kind of ganged up on them at the beginning... Until all hell broke loose! I realized just before the battle started that I didn't have a weapon. That part had just kind of slipped my mind. So, I decided that my weapon would be DANCE! While other people were shoot nerf guns, water guns, wielding foam swords, throwing paper shurikens, throwing cantaloupe (? I don't know why), throwing flour, etc. I was dancing up on them singing "Just Dance". Oh the humanity! I knew I had defeated them when they gave in to sensual swaying, the catchy music and their own burning desire to dance. The mayhem was amazing. At the end, several monsters had choreographed a four on four fight scene that morphed into the dance from Michael Jackson's "Thriller" - FABULOUS!

Near that point my buddy, Cecil, texted me to say that the trip to Lake Abiquiu we had been talking about was on for sure and we'd be leaving soon. Though I had packed my bag so I could just go to the lake, the recent development of flour-glitter-cantaloupe mess that was all over me, prompted me to go home and rinse first. I had a bit of trouble finding the meeting place, so her friends just came and picked me up at home.

Cecil and I rode in the back of the pickup, which thankfully did have a cover on it. The ride was beautiful. It started raining a bit on the drive, but it was followed by warm winds and partial sunshine. When we got to the lake, it was still cloudy and threatening to continue raining. A couple of us ignored the weather and dove in anyway. We jumped off of high cliffs and dove in to the cold water. We climbed the sides of the cliff back up because we could and if we fell we'd only fall back in the water, but we didn't fall. We hung out for several hours, enjoying the warm breeze, the cold water, the delicious grapes, and making fun of the people in their speed boats below who just kept tooling around watching people jump off the rocks. Finally we decided it was time to pack it in and just then, the sun broke free of the clouds. We enjoyed about five minutes of sunlight before we got back in the truck and headed home. I got to ride in front this time and it was SO beautiful! It rained and cleared and rained. There were so many rainbows and such interesting light and shadows being cast on the beautiful desert (and not-so-desert) landscape. As the sun was setting, the clouds turned a slightly disturbing orange. It was like the time of afternoon when it gets dark enough to take off your sunglasses and you decide you want to take off your sunglasses to see the world more clearly, only I didn't have sunglasses on and therefore couldn't take them off or see the world more clearly. It was still gorgeous though. During the ride I enjoyed some great conversation with Zenan, a new friend, and the wonderful smells of the desert after rain.

It was dark by the time I got home, so I fixed myself some foods and sat down to write. Now it's still storming, smelling wonderful and only scaring me a little bit with all the thunder and lightning.

Realization for the day: I might be more of a desert person than I thought.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Two Days of Driving, Flagstaff, Santa Fe and in Between

This is the first of what will hopefully be several posts about my travels this summer. Two days ago I left Los Alamitos, CA where I grew and where my dad still lives and drove out to New Mexico for my Big Circus Adventure!

Thursday morning I left a little later than intended, but for a great reason. I had breakfast with one of my oldest and dearest friends before hitting the road. I finished my bagel, used the restroom one last time and jumped on the 605N, enjoying KROQ as a soundtrack while taking note of all the places I knew before getting to the ones I had yet to discover.

The first hour or so of driving is always the hardest. The body and mind need a little time to sink into that fact that they will not be doing anything but absorbing the vibrations from the road and watching white lines while avoid red tail lights. Once in the groove though, I can go for hours. As long as I don't have to pee. I got as far as Barstow before this occurred. Thankfully my car is pretty darn gas efficient and I didn't stop for gas until Needles (and at that point I still had almost a 1/4 tank left). It turns out this may not have been a good idea because Needles has the most expensive gas I have seen thus far.

I had been taking pictures of signs that I found interesting along the way, but the "You Are Now Entering Arizona" sign somehow snuck up on me and I missed it. As I passed the London Bridge I remembered a picture my friend Rachelle had sent me at least 10 years ago after she had moved to Bullhead City. I wanted to stop, but felt the need to keeping on trucking and get to my destination in Flagstaff, AZ.

It was pretty much smooth sailing until Flagstaff. The freeways there are little weird. At some point several come together at once and I had quite a bit of trouble finding the 17N. First there were signs for the 17, but then, once followed, turned out to be only for the 17S - convenient! So, I turned around and headed back, but again, no signs for 17N, so I jumped back on the 40E before I could be mislead again, only to find I had again gone the wrong way. Thankfully, my friend Gabby was able to direct me to her house from that point. When I got there we spent the first hour or so catching up and then met her friend and went to dinner. We had some local beer, which was quite tasty and some healthy veggie food. That night was mellow and we enjoyed lounging around together. The next day we were all up pretty early - Gabby and her boyfriend went to work and I got my things together to start another day of driving. This time I decided that it was my roadtrip and my time and I was going to stop at every little goshdarn thing I wanted to. And I did.

Less than 10 miles out of Flagstaff I stopped at Walnut Canyon National Monument. There was a steep hike down a couple hundred stairs into a canyon where indigenous people had once used the cliff outcrops for dwellings. It was beautiful and the fresh air was awesome. I could definitely tell it was almost 7,000 feet elevation though - I had a little trouble catching my breath. Once down on the trail I stopped on a rock and meditated for a short time, listening to what I thought was the sound of cars whooshing around the roads above the canyon, but came to realize was just the lovely wind rushing through the canyon itself. On my way out I couldn't resist buying a poster for $1.50 - it was marked down from $9 so you see how I had to get it.

Once back on the road I felt ready to drive for a while, ready to let my body sink into driving mode. But that didn't happen. About 30 miles from Walnut Canyon was Meteor Crater, one of the best preserved meteor craters on the planet. I had to stop, no? Yes. Before leaving the car I slathered on a coat of sunscreen and put up the sun-shield thingy to try to prevent my car from becoming an oven. This did not work.

Though admission prices were what I would consider steep considering the natural - and in my mind, therefore for everyone - nature, I'm glad I stopped. The crater is over 2 miles in circumference and is deep enough that it could hold the Washington Monument and the Statue of Liberty (the Eiffel Tower would stick out of the top a bit still). I looked at it from several angles, took a picture of myself in front of it and found a rock on which to meditate and feel the past in the present and how it's all connected. I did look in the gift shop, but I refused to give them any more money after turning our collective history into a tourist attraction... Oh wait, that's a lie. I bought a map of the Southwest. Oops!

Then it was back on the road again for hours...

more driving...

I kept getting intrigued by all the trading outposts along the highway. "Authentic Indian Jewelry" "Handmade" "Moccasins for the Whole Family". I was torn. While I wanted some memorabilia, I didn't want to be just another white chick commodifying Native American culture. But, I also wanted to support the people who actually made the jewelry/rugs/pottery/etc. as their livelihood. But, I didn't want to be such a consumer, just buying willy-nilly. Finally, I had to stop and eat and use the restroom and I told myself, "If I'm going to stop, it's going to be at one of those little outposts, not at some McDonalds touting rest stop." So I did. And I just happened to stop at Continental Divide, East of which all water runs to the Atlantic and West of which all water runs to the Pacific... go figure. I bought some icecream and some "hand made" earrings... so sue me.

When I got to Santa Fe, my couch surfee's home was easy to find. Unfortunately, my couch surfee also works the night shift and was not there to greet me. I found the key she left for me and got all set up, so I decided to search for food. When I got back, her roommate was back from his rafting trip with 5 of his friends. They offered me wine and told me I was welcome to join them outside by the fire, but I had developed a heinous sinus headache that I was still trying to kill with Sudafed and Ibuprofen. Finally I was feeling a little better and was too tempted by the sounds of music and laughter from outside that I did join them. They sang and chanted and played drums and the guitar. I was elated. Bed time came soon after though and I was thankful.

I got up this morning bright and early. With an hour left before I had to leave for the first day of Circus Camp, I decided to take a walk and discovered that the place I am staying is only a few blocks from the State Capitol. Just across the street from it was a Visitor Center, which I decided to just poke my head into and see what they had. I wound up with an a$$-load of map and pamphlets that the woman said I should have. I'm now very prepared for all kinds of camping adventures in the nearby national forests.

I got back home and changed for camp and was off with plenty of time to spare. I got to the address that I had for the camp with minimal confusion, but no one was there. I knocked on the door and no one answered. It was locked. I was dumbfounded. It was only 15 minutes before 20-some odd women would be there for the first day of camp. Was I mistaken about where the camp was? Was that only the school's mailing address? Did the camp actually meet somewhere? The schedule didn't specifically say "at Wise Fool" or "at 2778 Agua Fria". I called my friend and got no answer, so I decided I had to go back home and get online and figure this thing out. It didn't seem there was anywhere else to go, so I called the director, told her I was late, but still wanted to do the camp. When I got almost back to the studio my friend called and told me I had been at the right place and that they often don't show up until right when something starts. Needless to say I was a little frustrated and angry. I took the last couple minutes in the car to cry the frustration out, then parked and shyly walked into the studio, where 20-something odd women were happy to see me and know that I had made it. From there it just got better. We went through the script and all got very excited about the production we will be putting on in less than a month.

Now I'm back at the house, looking for jobs and trying to stay cool - it's quite hot here. My couch surfee is throwing a small party this evening and I'm looking forward to black bean burgers on the grill.

Tomorrow Cecil wants to go out to a lake. I'm totally stoked.

Peace and Love.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It's Easy to be Zen About Life When You Don't Know the People Dying

Life is strange. Life is short. It's easy to either ignore or be really "at peace with" these concepts when life isn't being strange or short. So what do you do when it is being strange and/or short?


Mourning is a strange process even for people who have studied psychology. It's all well and dandy (again) when it's distant from you, when you can put it under a glass and say, "Ah yes, the denial stage... The anger stage... etc." But when you're the one denying, being angry, it's a little more complicated. I for one have never experienced grieving in such straight forward terms. It has never been such a simple progression from one "stage" to the next. For me, grieving involves going through many stages, over and over again, interweaving, skipping, returning, periods of relative acceptance and "normalcy" only to find a certain song or article or person throws me back into depression or bargaining... "what if what if?"

What if "what if" didn't exist? What if we lived each moment with no regrets? Would we still say what if, if we didn't regret, but just wanted to know if there were other possibilities? Or is "what if" an inherently regretful question?

I suppose it doesn't really matter, and I hate to be cliche, but it seems that death distills life down to something smaller, more meaningful and through that lens I can say, it seems that not much does. It is funny how death can make certain parts of life mean more: a hug, a look, the sun shining through the trees, raindrops tickling your forehead; but it makes other things seem so utterly meaningless: finals, job hunting, food, the right outfit, finding boxes for moving.

I wonder if being able to cry would make things meaningful again. I wonder if being able to write would speed up my mourning process. I am comforted by the knowledge, though, that this stage of depression will not last long. Tomorrow I could be angry, or grateful, or accepting. Tomorrow I could cry. Tomorrow I could stop denying, stop being in shock. I wonder if knowing what really happened would change anything. I wonder I wonder...

And really, is that any different than "what if"?

What if I died when I was only 22? Alone in the early morning hours of San Francisco BART commuter traffic? What if I died on the streets near Civic Center where I used to go to visit a woman I loved? What if I never got to say goodbye? What if I lay unconscious for some number of hours, bruised and broken? What if they mistook me for a homeless man? What if my parents had to find out from an investigator? What if my friends had to worry if I suffered? What if I never saw it coming?

I never will. At least it's entirely likely that I will never see it coming. It's entirely likely that I won't get to say goodbye. It's entirely likely that my friends and family will wonder what I went through and what they could have done.

With that in mind, there's really only one thing to do about death. Live. Live like you were dying, because you never know when you will. Love like it's your last moment because some day it will be. Hug like you mean it because some day you'll wish you had. Stay a few extra minutes to say goodbye to the people you love... maybe that few minutes will keep you out of an accident, and even if it doesn't you got to say goodbye.

So, at the chance I won't be able to say it again, goodbye. Go in peace and know that I love you. And don't let your "what if"s keep you from being zen about life. "What if"s just get in the way. And if you live without them, you'll never have a need of them.

Friday, May 7, 2010

Dia diobh

It has been a long time since I first started blogging. I'm looking forward to starting again... this time as a new person. In that past year I have undergone some serious transformations in my life. Sometimes I can't believe how different I am. My entire world has opened up as a sea of possibilities. I understand that I choose each and every moment how I am going to interpret and live my life. I decide whether or not to be happy. I have the power to make each moment beautiful and fulfilling beyond compare just by being present.

I truly can't wait to start sharing all the things I want to share with the world. First of all, my love. Everyone on Earth is deserving of love from me. "You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and stars. You deserve to be here." Know that as long as breath flows through your lungs that you are loved. Know that when it stops you have been appreciated, you have changed someone's life.

You are beautiful and I can't wait to tell you all the reasons why!