Friday, September 26, 2008


Well, we're still on for tomorrow, but our show may be a bit abridged. Today was to be a day filled with rehearsing and rehearsing, but instead it was a day at Harborview. Turns out I have an UNKNOWN DISEASE. Seriously, They took my blood an dran all kinds of tests and they have no clue as to what I have... but I got to have an IV for the first time! AND pain meds that really made the pain go away, so woot for that! I feel better now, and Ibuprofen seems to be working, so no change in our performance plans for tomorrow except the show may be a little rougher around the edges. Ah, well.
Don't forget! Jose P. Rizal Park 3pm 9/27/08
See you all tomorrow!


Saturday is coming quick and every day is passing fast

Friends and loved ones, just a little reminder that on Saturday at 3pm at the Jose P. Rizal Park on Beacon Hill we are having our debut performance of "...And Juggling."

We had a big stuff giveaway yesterday and our apartment was abuzz with, "Are you getting rid of this" and friends and family leaving with armloads of stuff. We got rid of a lot but there is still an entire bookcase full of books and clothes and kitchen stuff and things we hadn't even had a chance to go through as of yesterday. So on Saturday and possibly Sunday evening we will make our giveaway public and hopefully get rid of a lot more before we end up taking everything to the Aids Alliance Thrift Store.

It's amazing that with as much stuff as we are getting rid of, we still have so much we want to save. I suppose it won't feel like so much when we have a house to spread it all around in, but since we're condensing it all to a small storage shed in my parents' driveway and to what we can take on the train with us to Wisconsin, it feels mammoth-sized.

Less two bookshelves, our apartment seems echoey. I don't like it. What we fill a place with is really what makes it a home and that becomes stark when you begin to take all the stuff away. What's left is just walls with holes in them and a more scraped up floor.


Thursday, September 18, 2008

Day 2 in Las Vegas, to Leaving “ “

We got up just in time to get ready to leave for the timeshare talk, that is, around 10am. We’d spent some time the night before walking around our neighborhood, doing our darndest to feed me (only McDonald’s seemed to be open after 12am and we weren’t ready to stoop to that level) and ultimately finding a little food counter where they made me a grilled cheese sandwich. We got one of those very tall cool drinks that are all the rage in Vegas and Brendan won some money at the Roulette table and at a game of Blackjack.

And so we slept in Tuesday morning until we had to get up, and went to this supposedly 2-3 hour timeshare talk that ended up being more like four hours. Our sales representative led us into a room with many other couples and their sales representatives and while we ate sandwiches and drank lemonade we listened to very sincere-seeming woman talk about how we all need vacations in order to stay mentally healthy. Brendan volunteered to be the note-taker on a noteboard while people called out reasons we take vacations, and he provided some life to an otherwise dull presentation with his natural flair, as he took the opportunity to lead the group in singing happy birthday to one of the attendees, among other things.

After the talk and a video, our host took us out to another room and tried to get a feeling for what we look for in a vacation, then he drove us out to the brand new resort he was trying to sell us. At this point we’d probably been there 2 and a half hours. We went back and told him we weren’t interested, then another guy came to us and offered us a reduced price and we said no, then he offered us an even more reduced price and we still said no. He then took us to another room and another guy who offered us the lowest price yet--4,000 down from 40,000 at the beginning--and we said no one more time. Then we got our free stuff and caught a shuttle to the strip.

The Strip in brief: Big, gaudy, crowded, fun. We had a buffet early dinner courtesy of our timeshare talk from earlier in the day, then enjoyed a delightful variety show called “V: the Variety Show,” courtesy of the same. The host of V was a juggling comedian and he was very impressive. His big climax was playing the piano by juggling balls onto the keys. He juggled ping pong balls with his mouth -- did I mention he is impressive? I think he has videos on Youtube--look for Wally Eastwood.

Before and after the variety show we walked all around the strip, and then around 10pm we had dinner at Planet Hollywood courtesy of the timeshare company that provided us the trip in the first place. Afterwards we made our way back downtown on the Deuce, a double-decker bus, where we spent some more time at our hotel’s casino and Brendan won more money on the Roulette table. Brendan ended up with a $19.50 profit from Vegas.

And that was pretty much the end of our Vegas trip. The next day we missed the bus we meant to take to the airport due to my faulty memory of where the stop was, but ultimately made it to the airport in plenty of time for our flight back to Vancouver. And then the hitchhiking fun began anew but oh my those stories will have to wait.

Rehearsal: We're getting there

Today we started with some 6-ball partner juggling, and found our rhythm and a new attention-getting starting-it-up getting in sync kind of thing. It's slow, this 6-ball partner juggling, but I'm hoping one day we'll have a major breakthrough, and it'll just happen.
We're making great strides in the field of stilt-walking (pun intended). Stina walked without me all around Jose (P. Rizal's bust), and then...

***Classified Information***Top Secret***
...and juggling.

And then! We walked home side by side on stilts. Yes, Ladies and Gents, we did. We're good. I mean Goooood. Be proud to know us, those of you who do. Stina, who'd never been on stilts before yesterday, is now navigating curbs and uphills, and I, who hadn't worn them for 16 years, walked down our whole hill to the ID today (and got many thrilled people waving!)

Love and juggling! (that's a command to love us, not a complimentary close, btw)

P.S. If you'd like to find out what happened in the censored areas, come to our show on September 27th at 3 pm in the Jose P. Rizal Park on Beacon Hill
Facebook will make you log in, but everyone's on Facebook nowadays anyways, right?

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

We are STILTWALKERS! (...and juggling)

It is done.

We have hefted our stilt-strapped feet once now, and there is no going back. It's much harder to be our height now we've tasted the sky.

We finally finished all stilt construction last night, and this morning we ventured forth. Eager to see if I could still do it, I bounded up, took a few steps, sank into mushy grass and fell (as one is supposed to) plop, on my kneepads. Oh it was grand. Next, not having yet discovered the cause of my unsteadiness, I ventured again into mushy ground... realized my mistake and mucked my way out, still upright on stilts, to the delightfully hard and uneven concrete. Eventually I made my way to the stage and juggled a little while up there. Hard to do... Juggling is pretty natural to me now, but even so it requires some concentration, and most of my concentration was on staying upright. No better place to learn than uneven concrete, though, and learn we did.

Brendan got up on his stilts first and it seemed okay. Scary looking, but okay. So I sat on the table and strapped on the stilts and Brendan was ready to help me stand and I thought I was ready to stand and then I said "No!" And I couldn't do it. I was petrified. We went to try again and again I said no. And I started crying because I was so afraid. But then the third time, or maybe the fourth, I stood, gripping Brendan's hands with all my will to live. And still gripping his hands he said try walking in place, so I did, and I was still petrified, and then I tried falling, and that was okay. Second time up I was a little less afraid and third time more so and then maybe the by the fifth or sixth time up I finally started feeling good and was able to walk a bit by myself, with Brendan's hands at easy reaching distance. And now I know I can do it.

Last night we went to bed dreaming of roaring crowds filled with thrilled stilt and juggling enthusiasts, and it happened today. People are mesmerized by tallness. The man on the corner on his cell phone as Brendan walked home in stilts related the experience of seeing me second-by-second. He was fascinated (and gave him an extra 6 inches he didn't really have). The people from Pac Med on their smoke break put down their books and halted their conversations to watch us take a turn round good 'ol Jose P.

Mr. Rizal, I think, was proud to see us circle him.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

On Las Vegas

After winning this trip to Las Vegas from a timeshare company and being told what a wonderful trip it would be, it’s funny how the company then tried to get us not to take the trip. They said if we didn’t upgrade it really wouldn’t be that great and when we said no to the upgrade they said the trip was overbooked and wouldn’t we rather have some cash than take the trip? And we said no again, and had to deal with hassles of traveling to Vancouver in order to fly to Vegas, but it was oh so worth it for both the hitchhiking and the couchsurfing.
And so we flew to Vegas, after first flying to Phoenix. At the Phoenix airport they have a fun paging system where you can type in a message to your party and then that person’s name is called over the loudspeakers that always seem to be going off in airports and if that person goes to one of many computer screen message centers, they can find their name and read their message. This message system is a fun way to pass the time if one can think of a message that will get past the screeners (edit by B: Mine was "from Jorge Borges to Ricardo Montalban: Please pick up your A.P.E. and follow the instructions for the Garden of Forking Paths", Stina's was "from Veronica Lodge to Forsythe Jones: Please meet your party at the Hot Dog stand in concourse C"). But it only occupies all of five minutes, if that. We passed more time by juggling out of the way but in full sight of passers by, and by trying to strike up actual conversation with credit card salespeople.

We made it to Vegas by around 9pm and headed outside to catch a bus to our hotel. Thanks to a little help from family (Phone to Internet) we knew what bus to take, and even if we hadn’t, there were several others waiting for the bus who were eager to help us find our way. One man we met this way told us all about how he thinks the internet is the future for basically everything, but primarily politics. He was concerned about whether or not Washington would vote democratic in the upcoming presidential election. He made sure we knew what stop to get off at before getting off himself.

Walking to our hotel from the bus stop, we met another Las Vegas resident who is soon relocating to Bellingham. He was a self-described pot-head who loves the atmosphere of Berkeley and had recently been to a Dave Matthews concert there, and he seemed excited about moving to Bellingham. He told us that people who live in Las Vegas are unhappy and mean to one another because of it. He was headed to the casino at our hotel and walked us right to the door.

We stayed at the Fitzgerald, a pretty nice hotel in downtown, where a sign says “Welcome to the Fremont Street Experience.” This is about a 15 minute bus ride from the strip, but is much cozier and very pedestrian friendly. A few blocks are closed off to cars and there is a roof over the streets, creating a neon-lit safe-to-get-drunk environment. That first night we were approached by another time-share representative and this one was offering show tickets, a free dinner buffet at the Luxor and another free meal offered during the timeshare talk. We didn’t have any plans to see a show, so free tickets appealed greatly. A tip for getting free stuff from time-share talks: If you make less than 40k, lie and say you do. They don’t actually check. And if you know that you have a hard time saying no to things, don’t do it. But if you can say no and are willing to sit through a 2-3 (or sometimes 4) hour talk, the payoff is worth it.

So we signed up to go to a talk the next day. There was some difficulty actually getting there, because we don’t have ID with our current address, and we didn’t have any of their other required proof that we live together. But after much one person asking another person who asked another person who finally got a hold of someone with the authority to say it was fine, we were able to go. And more on that soon.

On staying in Vancouver

Here in verbatim is an exercise where we each wrote our impressions of the place where we couchsurfed:

We went to the door and tried to open it after tapping on the window to alert them to our presence but someone said “There’s a couch in front of the door” and to come around to the window. So we walked around to a window that led to the kitchen and climbed in and immediately met many people whose names I mostly don’t remember. The kitchen was smallish with a big bowl of salad on the counter (I was later told by a girl from Germany we could have some salad) and just off the kitchen was a bedroom. Our host was in there so we introduced ourselves to her and several others. Past that was the living room strewn with sleeping pads and sleeping bags and a couple of couches. We were told it was “survival of the fittest” to find a sleeping spot. Across the living room was the bathroom and beyond both was another bedroom. Felt immediately like we were in a hostel. Met many people from several countries and everyone was welcoming and had the air of traveler. It smelled like a hostel too. It’s the smell of being abroad or maybe just the smell that results from many different people sharing a relatively small space. It was a bit more chaotic than an actual hostel, but also more friendly. One bathroom for that many people (maybe 15 or so? More? I’m not sure) means waiting one’s turn. We walked out to buy liquor with a girl from Germany and a guy from Mexico, but the liquor store was closed. Got to practice a little German with the many German speakers.

Our host’s hostel was a delightful reminder of less delightful abodes. It was reminiscent of my time in a squatter’s hovel while still feeling safe and a dorm with only the neatest people and a hostel with no cost. I thoroughly enjoy being able to see a community intent on living apart from capitalism. People call it living cheaply, but most people I know who live as cheaply as they can, actually approach goods and life differently. They’re more pleasant, more willing to share, more eager to accept others. We met several people traveling from other nations, all eager to know us and to connect to us. Our hosts’s hostel greets you with a fleet of surfers at the bay win-door, a simpler keyless entry system. The basis of the system is the trust we should have everyday. The fridge is filled with donated food, and the sink is responsibly clean, as one would expect of responsible people. The bathroom sink has a warning on it--warning of its fragility. The living room is filled wall-to-wall with softeners of the floor, foam and air matresses. I imagined as we arranged ourselves for sleep, a program to install bunkbeds, thereby doubling the available sleeping surfaces. Considering some 20 people shared one bath, there was plenty to go around. Even those taking a shower didn’t lengthen the line too much. I hope we’ll never pay to sleep again, and that we can offer the same to others throughout our lives.

And that, folks, is primarily what we experienced of Vancouver.

Stindan Weinson

Monday, September 15, 2008


Well, we're making our stilts, and I've got some advice for all you stilt-makers out there:
1. Go to the source.
It is hard to find particular types of wood, and, not knowing much about wood, we wanted to stick with our recipe. Pine. Our instructions were adamant about pine (oaky, not adamant, but they were specific). Lowe's doesn't carry pine in 2x2. Nor does Dunn Lumber. Nor Martin's Lumber. Nor any one of about a dozen places we called around to. Finally, we found 2x10 pine at Blackstock Lumber. We bought our 6' plank, took it to Stina's parents' house, and used their power tools to rip it down to 2x2 sizes (which are actually 1 1/2 x 1 1/2"). This was REAL lumber yard. Most of the people there were contractors, and though they were happy enough to helps us find our relatively small amount of lumber, they were a bit too busy with large orders to cut it down to 2x2 dimensions for us (despite the fact that they do do that sort of thing... they said it would take a few hours to get to)
2. Know your sewing machines
Making the straps is difficult if you're trying to hand-sew. Stina and I spent an hour and got 1/48 of the way done, and I bent a needle in half. Then we took it to YTN to use their sewing machine, but apparently in the 5 years since I took my costuming class, I've forgotten some key element, and was only able to make a crooked line of thread appear on the Velcro and gum up the thread in the adhesive. We wiped everything off, and got out of there before I could break anything. We're going to the alterations shop in the morning to see if they can't make a professional job of it.
3. Do it in cool weather
We got cranky today around the jigsaw. Tense, tense situations, and one person has a power tool. Then we went back into the shade, and got along much more nicely. Kind of "cooled down" as it were. Get it? Get it?
4. Trust
At least I think that's good advice. We're following the instructions to a T, and I only hope it works. I last walked on stilts over a dozen years ago. I remember falling forward, and was indeed told, "always fall forward". But I can't seem to believe that the toe of the footboard won't get in the way of falling onto the kneepads, and nothing mentions that as a problem... so when I get up there, maybe it won't be a problem. I can only hope.
5. Share
There seems to be a dearth of practical information (and disagreements amongst the info that there is) on stilt-walking, busking, hitchhiking, etc. online. Is that because people who want to live cheaply and are amused by things like walking 2 feet taller than everyone else don't own computers or don't keep records of their activities? Not that there's no information, certainly not, but finding an answer to a very specific question is harder than for other subjects. Oh internets, don't fail me now! So this share advice is really for everybody else, but if we all share, hopefully some consensus will be reached on the proper way to do things.

In other news, not only is our name "...And Juggling", but we'd like to insist that people say it correctly. The key to pronouncing the ellipsis (...) is to say another word in your head just before saying aloud, "and juggling". Try it.

Rosencrantz: What are you doing?
Tom(thinking): Watching a movie and juggling.
Rosencrantz: What?!?
Tom: stacking boxes of shoes
and juggling.
Rosencrantz: Say again?
Tom: finding a gentleman caller for Laura and juggling.
Rosencrantz: Did you say ...and juggling?
Tom: Yes. Yes I did. ...and juggling.

is signing off and juggling.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

More on getting to Vancouver

We set out hitchhiking on Sunday, September 7 at 12pm at the 41st St. I-5 northbound entrance. We stood on the east side of the on-ramp, just south of the "Hitchhikers Prohibited" sign. Brendan was wearing sunglasses and held a sign that said "Canada" and used his thumb and I took some notes.

We got 2 waves, 1 "I'm only going a little ways" hand signal (thumb and forefinger spaced about an inch apart), 1 "hang-ten" sign plus a "whoo!", 1 thumbs up, 1 enigmatic shrug, 1 honk+wave, 1 nod, 2 points to the sky, 1 yell of "rock!" and 1 "I'm not going to Canada." The entrance was moderately busy. Over the course of one minute at 12:14pm 7 potential rides passed, and likewise at 12:17 12 potential rides passed. At times there would be bursts of 20 or so potential rides.

At 12:22pm we got picked up by Darryl (names have been changed), driving a 2 door grey Saab. It's amazing the things you can learn about a person in a short car ride. When you don't know someone at all, every detail they tell you seems like such an opening up, almost as if they are trusting you with their lives, and that's the most beautiful thing about hitchhiking to me. Both the people picking up and those doing the hitching are offering a huge amount a trust in one another. I love it.

Anyway, Darryl was laid off last week from his construction work job. He has a couple side jobs but he was worried about money and finding a new job. He never went to college and is following in his father's footsteps by working in construction. He was on his way to his parents' home to pick up his kids. He must have become a dad very young; he only appeared to be in his early 20s. We told him about our plans to write a book about hitchhiking and he seemed excited about our project and that he might be a part of our story. Darryl just took us as far as exit 202 in Marysville.

We'd been waiting probably less than 2 minutes when we got picked up at 12:37pm by a middle-aged couple in a Chrysler going all the way to Vancouver, where they live. They'd been in Seattle visiting their daughter and son-in-law, who both went to UW and graduated about 6 years ago. They are from South Korea and have lived in Vancouver about 10 years.

At approximately 2:05pm we got to the border patrol and, looking at our passports, the officer asked us how we were related to our drivers. We responded that we were hitchhikers and he said "We frown upon hitchhiking in Canada." We said "Really?" and he said yes and asked us if what he saw was all we had with us and we said yes. Then he told us to get out of the car with our stuff and he told our driver "You shouldn't pick up hitchhikers." We got out and the officer told our drivers to go on and us to to go to the office. At the office Brendan asked point-blank if hitchhiking is illegal in Canada and the officer said it certainly was and he was trying to be subtle in front of our drivers. Later we wondered why on earth he was trying to be subtle--if hitchhiking is really illegal in Canada shouldn't Canadians be the first to know? Now I wonder if it's just that he was lying to us because several other resources we've seen have said hitchhiking is not illegal in Canada.

The officer checked out our ticket to Las Vegas and told us we should take the bus to Vancouver. We were so upset at Canada and that officer and that we hadn't had a chance to say goodbye or thank you to our drivers, but we took a little break and ate some sandwiches we'd packed and at least then we weren't hungry. We talked to some folks at the information center about how to catch the nearest bus and get to Vancouver. It's ridiculous, really. One has to cross 4 lanes of freeway and walk along the side of the freeway and cross an on ramp and climb up a hill and over a cement wall and cross another road in order to get to the bus. And this is something pedestrians who cross the border frequently are used to doing!

As we climbed the little wall and the bus stop came to sight we realized the bus was approaching and we were still some distance away, so we ran to catch it. The delightful driver welcomed us aboard and said he would buy our tickets for us. He asked us where we from and said he was from Seattle and told us we had to try Dixie's in Bellevue and tell them he said hello. He told us what other bus to take to get us to Vancouver and then proceeded to converse with us the entire ride. He'd been a mortician in Seattle, but since permits and licenses don't necessarily cross the border and he didn't want to go back to school, he became a bus driver.

He dropped us off in Surrey where we caught a bus to downtown Vancouver and from there the Skytrain to the street where we stayed. It turned out we were at the opposite end of the street from where we needed to be, but a long walk got us there eventually.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Vancouver and Vegas

So much news in this post. This was kind of our first foray into our big plans... We haven't yet begun our journey, but this is a taste of what's to come.
On Sunday at noon, we set out northbound hitchhiking from an Everett freeway entrance. we caught 2 rides in a matter of just half an hour, and the second took us all the way to the border. The border patrol hassled us, and kicked us out of our ride without letting us say goodbye or thank our drivers. Apparently HITCHHIKING IN CANADA IS ILLEGAL. (No, it is legal: hear our border hassles) Doesn't stop us from mostly getting rides from Canadians. Apparently Canadians are hip with it, but their Gov't is not, go figure. We're almost sure it IS LEGAL IN USA, as we've been passed by cops twice, and neither batted an eye.
We took the Bus in Vancouver to our Couchsurfing hostel. Two delightful couchsurfers have set up their apartment as a de facto free hostel. (Not sure what de facto means, but it sounds right there). They have a bay window, which, as far as I can tell is always open, and travelers come and go all day and night, partying 20 of 24 hours, and sleeping in the snoring carpet of 16 or so floor cushions in the rather sizable living room. For all the 15-25 people in the house at one time, living, breathing, showering, the whole place feels as safe and clean as a regular hostel, and much more open and friendly. It helps, I'm sure, that everyone knows to be grateful and gracious for free room (and board if veggies, veggies, veggies overflowing the fridge is your style). Bathroom lines were not excessively long; even in the morning with showers, people conscientiously took showers once/3 days probably, and then only 5-10 minutes.
It makes you realize how happily we should live communally.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Rehearsals progress apace

We have a couple rehearsals under our belts now, and things are shaping up. Always hard to believe that our lives are changing so dramatically. We have several works in progress.
A list of some resources we've used to create content
creating our own 5-frames of stories about issues we care about
playing 1-word other collaborative story-telling games
Seeing a variety show and stealing ideas
mussing about with juggling balls and trying to replicate what we've seen
parodying music weird al style
Singing and juggling and dancing and juggling and seeing what happens
hopefully soon - stilt-walking and juggling, once we get the darn straps sewed