Hello Dear Ones!
Ah, the ever present question of where to begin! Oh so much has transpired since I last sat down to seriously put fingers to keys and fill you all in on my adventures….guess I’d better return to where I left off back in July…
After an amazing time performing at High Sierra Music Festival and getting to spend time with friends new and old (meeting an amazing band called Red Baraat and having them sit in on our Delhi Belly song was definitely a highlight!), the band returned to Portland for a few short days before Oregon Country Fair. Sid, Aaron, and I got to work on a new stilt acro routine to a new song called Janjar, and before we knew it we were debuting it at country fair in front of thousands of enthusiastic fans. It was well received but has definitely come a long way since those first couple shows! It was a pretty intense weekend for me because I was performing at least once a day with Samba Stilt Circus on top of my daily M4 shows…so most of my time was spent either eating, sleeping, getting ready for a show, or performing. Almost every night I would try to go out on an adventure and end up getting walked home by friends who told me I was putting out more than enough energy during the day and needed to go to sleep so I could do it again the following day. I tried to take care of myself but by the end of it I knew my body was crashing.
We had about 10 hours home in portland to unpack, do laundry, and repack for our 5 week tour. Somehow on the way back to my friend David’s house (he has been amazing and has let me store my stuff at his place for free and crash there on my short stints back in town! Thank you!!) I lost my wallet: license, credit card, and all, and realized that I was definitely getting sick. By the time we finally arrived at our first show in Montana I could barely eat and was already feeling super weak with the flu. But I was so excited to see my friend Shannon at our show that I pulled myself together, forced down some food, and danced as hard as my body would allow. After the show I threw it all up and basically collapsed into bed for the next week. It was excruciating being stuck in a bunk unable to move while listening to the band rock its way through Idaho, but there was really nothing I could do. Finally after trying to take sleeping pills to get some rest and passing out on my way out of the bathroom, I went to the hospital. They did a blood test, told me it was viral so there was nothing to do but hydrate and rest, and sent me on my way. By that point the coughing had begun and I proceed to cough myself into a rib injury (all the stress and a possible slight misalignment in my lumbar probably contributed to the rib thing as well) so that I was unable to fully perform on stilts for at least another week. Everyone was so sweet and took such good care of me…and I felt terrible when a couple more people came down with the “itis” as we came to call it…but such is life when you live on a bus with 24 people….
Luckily I was mostly recovered by the time we got to the East Coast and we had an amazing time performing to huge outdoor audiences in Lancaster, PA and at Floydfest in Virginia. Then on to NYC for a few much needed days off, followed by shows in our sister city Portland, Maine in a beautiful old theatre, and the fun and quirky Festival of Fools in Vermont where I got to see my cousin Willy for a minute, along with good friends Derek and Leah and visit them at the amazing Radio Bean cafe which I’d heard so much about! From there we headed back to PA for Musikfest (I think….it’s hard to remember the order of things) where we were each put up in our own college dorm room, treated like celebrities all weekend, and got to perform on an epic stage in front of the huge old steel stacks.
Then back to NY for an awesome show at the Brooklyn bowl where I got to see my friend Chauncey from the Pimps of Joytime and my amazing friends Jasmine and Ariella from Stanford, and another surprise gig as part of an epic burlesque show at Galapagos Art Center which has an indoor lake! We could have spent another night in the city but we were all exhausted so Jeremy (our amazing new bus driver) took us all to his parents place in Indiana where we got to lounge by the pool, eat home cooked food, and comb the crick for fossils and geodes-exactly what the doctor ordered.
And then all the way back to Colorado where I got to see my other circus family, Bones and Holly and Kai and Max and Loni in Boulder (we’d been dancing around each other all over the east coast!) and perform for epic audiences all over the state. Statebridge was a favorite and even though the crowd was small they were energetic and it was super fun to play right before the Wailers and get to party with the staff afterwards and spend the night in the yurts on the river.
We were all exhausted by the time we got back to Portland, and Jeremy and I literally had 12 hours to unpack, wash, and repack for Burning Man before catching a terrible rideshare to Arcata-the guy was totally out there and a horrible driver!- to pick up his ’66 fire engine known as Ol’ Bitch (which was the original Gerlach #1 engine and has been to burning man its whole life!), load it up, and get to the farm for what was supposed to be a restful evening and dinner with my parents….but the poor engine was not in good shape. We had to stop every few uphill miles because something was wrong with the fuel lines. Every firefighter and cop that passed us stopped to try to help and someone finally gave us the idea to bipass what we thought was a faulty fuel pump with a Bic pen, which just barely got us to an auto parts store in Ukiah. They were literally closing the door as we pulled up but they took pity on us and called a mobile mechanic friend. Turned out the old fuel tank was rusty! We ended up installing a super janky irrigation tank in the back of the truck as a replacement tank and somehow it survived the journey! We finally made it to the farm much too late for dinner, another hour of packing, and a couple short hours of sleep. The next day we drove without hitches but had to sit in line for 3 hours in the middle of the night before finally getting in. Luckily the art car we had stopped to loan our spare tire to in Gerlach was next to us bumping awesome music so we all got out and danced in the dust, met some marvelous new people, and ate pink pearl apples!
I won’t go into too many details about the burn….it was an epic year for sure but definitely a different experience for me because I had so many performance commitments with M4, along with the fire conclave with Samba Stilt Circus. I got a little frustrated at times because I had to constantly make the decision to take good care of myself over running around on adventures, but by the end of the week I kind of came to terms with it and let myself be ok with sacrificing certain things to put on the best show possible. Hopefully I will get better at finding the balance and knowing my limits, but for now I have awknowledged that this is what I’m doing with my life and there is nothing wrong with putting a lot of attention and care into it. I was stoked to be camping with SSC for the 5th year in a row and that definitely kept me grounded with lots of music and dancing and stilting all the time with wonderful people. And I got my kicks in the last few nights with epic 12-hour non-stop dance parties in which everyone I had been trying to spend time with the whole week magically came to me and danced in the dust!
I left the playa on tuesday and got a ride out to Fernley, where my amazing friend Carmen and her dear friend Ginny picked me up and took me south to Fallon. I met Carmen at Symbiosis festival where she was doing a talk on her permaculture project on the Paiute-Shoshone reservation and was totally inspired by her work. I arranged to volunteer with the project for about a week after the burn and Carmen took me into her home and taught me so much about the region, the stuggles that the tribe there faces, and her dream of establishing rain gardens to not only solve the runoff and flooding problem in the dry, barren subdivisions of the reservation, but to also allow people to start growing their own food and medicines and regain some of their autonomy. I helped organize and execute a block party in the target subdivision and we got a substantial amount of people out there to help plant and dedicate trees to loved ones (as part of a wind barrier) and to learn more about the project and sign up to care for a rain garden. It was powerful to see people, and especially youth, so excited to take the dirt back into their own hands and give it life again and I hope to be able to return to help more with the project in the future. It felt good to give back to the land that has given us (burners) so much for so long. It was also incredible to spend a week with Carmen and Ginny, two powerful and inspiring native women, and hear their stories, their struggles, and the amazing way they have begun to overcome them and really work towards creating a better future for generations to come in a way that is forgiving and inclusive of everyone.
Jeremy had stayed out on the playa to help DPW with breaking everything down, so he picked me up in Ol’ Bitch and we drove back to the farm with almost no problems (just a little overheating). He continued on to Garberville and then portland to drive for the next tour, and I got to hang out for the week at the farm and help with harvest and preparations for the County Fair. My little sister, Rita, put on an awesome contra dance in boonville and it was great to get dressed up and stomp around with old friends. I think that week was the best I’ve felt being at the farm in a long time…it was rewarding to be able to just plug right in and help out at a time when they really needed extra hands and at the same time know that at the end of the week I had my own projects to go back to. It kept me from feeling stuck in old patterns and made me appreciate everything my parents have cultivated there even more. Some day I think I want to be more fully involved again, but for now it’s good for me to have some space and develop my interests on my own.
At the end of the week I worked the SF farmers market with Sophia and Nikola and then got to stay in the bay area for a few days. I got to go dancing at my favorite spot in the city, explore oakland, hang out and clown around in a circus warehouse with my friend Andi Lou, take his awesome yoga classes, have an inspiring stilt date in a park with my new friend Daniel, get an epic massage which I think is allowing my ribs to finally heal, and catch up with so many wonderful old friends. I was hesistant to leave and really miss the bay area, but being back in Portland has been amazing too. I am moving into my friend Sabrina’s house in North Portland, getting to see lots of live music (and finally meeting more people in the brazilian/latin music scene), and enjoying rehearsing and coming up with new material. It’s also exciting to sit (somewhat) still for a month before the next tour, make things (I started making earrings from one of our drummers amazing recycled leather hat scraps-twice recycled!), rehearse, and continue to develop the friendships that I discovered here in the spring.
I have been incredibly blessed with so many amazing adventures this summer….and now I want to hear about yours! Please let me know what you’ve been up to!
Lots of love,