Wednesday, March 25, 2009

can't belive

it's been just about a year since I've last posted. Damn. I suppose it's been just a year. So many of them happen and I needed time to just experience. Just, just, smust. Screw it. I'm not supposed to do anything...which leads nicely to what I did today. I went to Dead Horse Bay and picked through a beach strewn with trash from the 50's. A friend of a friend suggested it and so after my weekly therapy session, wherein, my therapist and I are trying to slow me down and work through my issues around spending time alone, I went.

Wow. I love picking through brooklynite's curbside garbage, salvation army racks and otherwise finding treasures, but the trash from the 50's is just so f-ing cool. I arrived at low tide, and so at first it was slow going: a tiny glass bottle, perfectly intact, but all beached; a miniature ceramic boy's head; a shriveled up pacifier. I took pictures of fragments of bottles with letters; an ambulance toy embedded sadly in the sand; the seductive curve of white porcelain toilet sticking out.

AND then, I rounded the corner of the bay, and found the Mother lode. The source of All Our Thrown out Crap was there to see sticking out awkwardly from the eroding dunes-
AND as the tide had gone out by that time, the beach was 50 percent full, lined with glass bottles, mostly intact. Outdated soda pop bottles: Kist, Emerald something or other, along with Pepsi and Coke, or course. A LOT of Pepsi and some Coke - Another common theme: Clorox Bleach. LOTS of brown bottles of Clorox Bleach. How Ironic. And then my favorite: a huge (14 feet long!) tangled knot of nylons: a knarly beached leviathan that was taken daily into the bay by the tide to make sure that no ladies undergarments floated alone.

Speaking of floating alone: shortly after the nylonmonster I came upon a man with a baseball cap and a rake, ignoring the bottles, overturning bricks and stones, combing expertly through the refuge. And so we floated together a little while. I played This American Life with him, which I've decided is WAY better than sitting on a subway listening to the weekly Podcast versions (though I DO LOVE these...).

"Lemme tell 'ya...this makes me happier than a pig in you know what! I got the fresh air, my body's movin', I can't sit at home with the old lady with a remote in my hand, I gotta keep movin' the retired garbage collector tells me. And after 25 years in the Garbage Business, the man knows his trash. He showed me a couple pieces of pink tinted 'depression glass,' shards, which, when whole, had been given out at the movies or in Quaker Oats boxes during our country's other depression. As we're walking together I can tell he's an expert at this, seeing past the larger obvious items (“I usedta collect bottles, but then I realized WHAT AM I GOING TO DO with all this crap? And so now I just pick up stuff that's worth something, gold, silver, coins, doing this is the BEST, I'm happier than a pig in you-know-what being out here”).

What was his favorite find? A cowboy doll from a tv show that he loved when he was a kid. I wish I had asked which one.

His strangest find? A hand grenade. When he found it, “I did a John Wayne,” he says, tightening his jaw and squinting his eyes, “then I pulled the pin and threw it into the dunes.”

I try to get some advice from him, asking him if he has any method for finding treasures. “First off,” he tells me, “You need safety gloves- take it from me, I've been in this garbage business long enough to know, the toxicity here is out of control.” I press for a more philosophical methods and get “its a mindset of discovery. You can't look for stuff. you just gotta find it.” I had no idea that I'd find him out there.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Hawk.

The Hawk saga continues! lovely friend Roblin from Alaska showed up out of the blue (NYC is turning out to be a GREAT place to connect with friends from EVERYWHERE as they're always passing through), and we went to Prospect Park and I showed him the site of the Hawk attack AND the Hawk showed up! And THEN the Hawk found a dead rat within 10 feet of us and went and got it and then went up in a tree and gutted it as I took pictures and tried not to get hit with rat fur and tried to get the image of my Peaknuckle getting gutted out of my head.
Roblin was like, cool...
I squeeled.

SO! here's a picture of a rat (NOT MY PEAKNUCKLE!) getting gutted in Brooklyn. You can kinda see the back feet and tail of the rat, hanging over the branch.


March Update

Well. sigh. (wow, I exhale and relax just thinking of Juneau and all of you and the mist and the green and the trees...hmmm).

I felt it necessary after that first email, full of hawk attacks, cramped quarters and impersonal gotham-ness, to let you all know that Peaknuckle and I are not only safe...we're enjoying ourselves. The city is opening to us and in many ways opening us. Pea is shedding like crazy, as the earth warms prematurely. And the city is taking me and tearing me open in a wondrous, somewhat miraculous way (yes. I've always been dramatic).

First off, I got the very coveted and sought after job of Hospital Clown, with the Big Apple Circus Clown Care Unit!!! My job, my JOB (I LOVE saying that), is to show up with another Clown from the Unit and make sick kids happy. The organization is Amazing...trainings, monthly 'emotional hygiene' sessions aka group therapy and an unforgettable Clown Conference in the Berkshires that I attended last week with 65 other huge hearted folks from all over the country (the Circus has something like 100 clowns doing this in Seattle, Miami, Washington, Atlanta, Chicago and Boston). Their were clowns there who'd been doing this for over twenty years and on average people'd been doing this for about ten years. Now imagine all of these folks in one room sharing juggling, dancing, magical, musical and oddball talents with each other, or sharing their stories around the dinner table- my favorite was from one of the pioneers of the job from way back when they were making all the mistakes. He was walking around with two fake legs (adding up to four), and showed up in a room of two little girls where conjoined twins (attached at the head). He went pale and scared (which I've done more than twice already), and the twins started cackling at him, taking turns (only one could face him at a time) pointing and insulting him. That's our job he said. To lower our status, so that these victims of the medical establishment can have a little power over their situation.

I wish I could share all my stories with you, with the whole world, and I'll probably start Blogging, but one room (in addition to clinics, pre Op and post Op, we do in-patient rooms) there was a little girl with burn over her whole body, as in, all that I could recognize as human was eyes and teeth. (I'm seeing younger humans in these sort of dramatic situations each time I go- and each time, I get a little pale and quesy- getting my 'hospital legs" is what they call it, I think, and each time my "supervisor" saves my life-and the life of the kid, in way, by pulling me into a game). So the game with the little girl was to do a silly Elmo song as we shuffled along on a line (we didn't want to go out of her line of sight) and dance and be silly. I don't know how I saw it or were I saw it...there was nothing left of her face to do it...she smiled. We goofed, she smiled, I was transformed (and it's been a LONG time since I've used language like that). And these sort of stories happen every time I go (about once a week). And this is my JOB! WhaHOO!

And speaking of transformation: My second job, as a theatre teacher in Brownsville is also transforming me. I teach K through 4th grade in a school where I'm one of THREE white people in the whole after school program. Literally. It's 99% black and a depressed part of town. Lots of fights, yelling and kids who are...well...thugs in training. I had quit the job last week (gave my two weeks notice) and when I went in this week a miracle happened (maybe because I'd 'given up'?). The 3rd grade class was un-usually loud, mean and disrespectful
and I yelled (I never yell). I basically alpha-ed them and put it straight. I told them that there will NEVER be yelling again in my class, that if they get five checks (to get a check they have to be quiet and put out their thumbs when I put mine out), they get to do whatever game they want for the last five minutes of class. The class was all giving checks. They actually played my games, enjoyed it and when it was time to cash in their checks, they picked "Talent Show," a game I'd never played with them, but was more than happy to see them play, as their Theatre Teacher and all. All they did for five glorious minutes was to go on stage one at a time and be silly, weird and goofy! Thugs in training! Being silly! Being kids! I was transformed.

And now my house. The one that I reported last time as way too cramped. Well. I'm still in my teeny room, but I've tricked it out...with curtain rods up high to hang clothes and towels and lots of coat hooks on the wall and drawers under the bed to optimize the up and down space. That's why the skyline in Manhattan is so freakish. When there's no space just create it. Pies in the sky. And I love all my roommates. There's a saxaphonist from Switzerland, a jazz singer with a lovely little boy, a flutist and old time banjo player who plays with another roommate- my Apple Computer Store hook up - and they make it sound like folk fest every other day, and then there's the den mother who owns the house who plays the piano and runs around in bizarre burlesque numbers.

AND! Sophie (my Ladyfriend) and I are making a wholesome burlesque show called:
Peg + Ass = Us
A tale of boy-meets-girl, but the whole involves much more than the sum of their parts! Puppetry and song bring a fantastical analysis of fetish vs. preference, queer vs. straight, wrong vs.
The show will be a vaudevillian revelation of sexual practices that poke holes in rigid notions of gender and sexuality, but are still full of the good old, wholesome awkwardness that is part of the journey from the bar to the bedroom. Pegasus will have good doses of educational information, song, dance, drag, puppetry and of course, mythical creatures.

SO there you have it.

OH WAIT! TWO more things...I have a new number (on my new iPhone! I know, I'm SO New Yawk):

(347) 244 - 1815
You all should use it, I love walking around talking to people who aren't next to me like a crazy person!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Hawks and Such

I'd better communicate with you all sooner than later to make sure you know that I've

moved to New York City .

my first day in NYC, on my 1/3 of a 99 year old birthday is marked with...lots of irony and intrigue.

1. Let's just say that I am hesitant to email my new address, as I don't really like it. Yet. It's a flop house for international artists and aside from a perfect location and perfect cheap price ($600) it's less than perfect and wasn't stocked with TP my first night.

And then the bed. the room is SUPER SMALL with a bed that's narrower than sleeping on a fence. I knew the room was going to be small...but the bed is REALLY small and slanted...but at least it slants INTO the wall so that i stay in the bed.

2. And then there's the maiden 'walk in the park' with my chihuahua- who has lived for seven years in ALASKA without an eagle incident. So I'm walking with him across a large field (in Prospect Park , Brooklyn ) and I see the shadow of a bird flying over us and I think to myself..."I must be a crow, huh, wait, it's coming quite close, but there's no EAGLES here, wait! that HAWK is going for my little DOG!"

So I Scream at it and run at it and it flies up to a tree. I pick Peaknuckle up, hold him, look around to make sure I AM in NYC and then put him down to get my leash out and the F'ing hawk starts out of the tree towards us again. And so i carry Pea out of the park until we reach the safety of the pavement...



What the?!

3. Then I get a call that the gig that i had had for monday cancels on me. Flakes out really. But I could do it in March if I'd like.

4. The bike shop that has my bike and was going to have my bike ready for me by this morning has had it's gate down all morning...the ONE thing that I wanted to have for my favorite bike.

5. It's only 2:25pm. thank GOD there's not a #5 yet. I feel crammed, crooked, small and alone. But I'm made of rubber. I will bounce.

So. thanks for reading. Venting is the only thing that i can do to stay sane in a very big city with a very small vulnerable little dog on my birthday.

i miss the alaskan ease.


Friday, October 19, 2007

Eccentric Dance Gold Medalist

Well, you’re now reading the blog of a New York Clown Theatre Festival, Clown Olympics GOLD MEDAL winner in the Eccentric Dance Event with a more than perfect score of 31 (out of 30). I keep saying it in my head, trying to shorten it somehow so I can fit it on my poster. I keep saying it in my head, trying to fit it into a hyper-self critical mind that is doesn’t want to accept that I could be really good at something. I keep saying it in my head, figuring out what it means that I could be really good at something, and that I could possibly get paid for what I do.

My first weekend here, while taking a bouffon workshop, I bombed. I bombed big. “You want to move to NYC? This city’s gonna eat you alive.” The teacher knew just which button to push. The next day, I sucked it up and rocked it. I was on top. My competitive spirit was working for me. Then a few days later I performed at a cabaret at the festival and bombed. Big. A few people said they “liked it” but I knew. The Clown Big Wigs who come to every show and have blogs and teach and Write Books on the subject, well they ignored me. When a Clown bit is bombing there’s no way around it, but through it…and I wasn’t going through it. I was trying to ignore that I was sucking, which, as one clown friend said is a good sign, “at least you were aware that you were sucking.” In the aftermath of my big NY debut bomb, my friends and fellow clown compatriots have been lovely and inspiring. And then one of the festival organizers asked if I was doing something in the Olympics. My iddy biddy shiddy committee told me she’d asked because they were desperate. BUT, I’m here in NYC now. And my competitive spirit knew that I had, HAD to get back on the horse.

Fast forward to me in the theatre’s tiny bathroom, minutes before my event, peeing my brains out (when I’m nervous before a show I usually drink a gallon of water). And I remember what my Clown friend Jane Chen from San Fran said to me a month ago when she was helping me with my show. Each time’s gotta be the first time. What is THIS show, THIS performance about? For ME, in THIS moment. And so, I thought about all the people out in the audience, half of whom saw me bomb the week earlier. And I thought about all my friends up in Alaska, all the supportive faces, all the faces that I’ve been seeing, playing with and sharing with for the past seven years. And then I think about the Clown Olympic Judges who have Wrote Books on the subject (and no, they do NOT wear big wigs and shoes). And then I get even more scared. And then I finished peeing and a calm came over me. Maybe the calm was because I’d had to pee so bad, but I’m trying to think that admitting to the thing that scares me the most gives me some power. Not in a “Power Over My Fear” woo-woo kinda way. It’s more like I’m going into the barrel of the canon not fighting. As Ronlin Foreman (my Clown teacher from Dell ‘Arte) said, it’s admitting your poverty, your cross to bare. My alternating drive to win and acknowledgement that I’m worse than slime, somehow fueled a pretty darn good show. Of course, having a little dog in the show who does dumb tricks helps too. BUT, I felt like I had the audience. I could See Them. Flying through the air, crapping my pants and I could make out their faces and their eyes. These strangers and these fancy pants Clowns became familiar, friendly even
2007 New York Clown Olympics, GOLD MEDALALIST in Eccentric Dance (31 out of 30 poss. points)

ps. The extra point was from my bribing one of the judges with money. (I’d tried to butter her up before the show with compliments and charm, but she directed me to an ATM down the street).

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

NYC part I

And so I sit, looking out at Manhattan through a parrot cage (a real one), from the 42nd floor north and west from 42nd street. Out in the distance are small bumps in New Jersey that are probably geographic features made of earth, but I don’t believe it. More real is eighth avenue stretching north, which from up here reveals it’s intelligence, gulping calculated bites of taxi’s, trucks and buses, sending goods and people where goods and people are needed. The brain needs that suit who is in that taxicab. Those shoes must make it to that store to get on the feet of that fashionista. The white blood cells in that ambulance nudging cross town must make it to save that gasping old woman who feeds the pigeons in the park.
And there’s me, the Alaskan Clown sitting in a lent apartment, parrots preening, a small dog on my right, a grey kitty on my left.
My first night I stood on the balcony and got the worst vertigo ever.

“The world’s got me dizzy again, you think after 22 years, I’d be used to the spin, but it only feels worse when I stay in one place, so I’m always pacing around or walkin’ away” Land Locked Blues, Bright Eyes.

And so you don’t. You don’t stay in one place. That was me when I arrived. Afraid of the beast. I’m making friends with it, now. I’ve ridden the edge. Like when my video camera was needed to tape that woman’s solo show and I was half an hour late and was going to cause that woman’s director to be late. Pushing east and then north from Brooklyn through the plod of rush hour, my bike became a hymn that I sung out through open eyes, narrowed psyche. That bus doesn’t want it enough, it slowed for that mother, and so I’m off, soaring, weaving through the drifting Midwesterners of Times Square, the foreign bodies that the city engulfs and dazzles with lights and height, and then picks up with Pedicabs. Because I’m so pushy with the city, the little dog gets to pee, everyone makes it to the solo show with plenty of time to schmooze, and the city lets out a sigh.

Funny that everyone personifies this city so much. It seems the only way to relate with something so inhuman, so unnatural, yet made by human madness and muscle.