Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Nov. 1st performance announcement

...And Juggling!
at Bur Oak Farm
8975 Fillmore Rd ZIP 53021
Saturday, November 1st at 3pm

Stina and Brendan return to Wisconsin for a special performance of their critically ignored variety busking show, ...And Juggling. Please come join them for some oohs, aahs, and hahahaas.

They sing, they dance, they juggle... AND SO MUCH MORE!!!

A 15 minute show followed by refreshments and catching up.

All are welcome. It's family friendly (the bits that are racy and raunchy are totally G-rated). Please pass this message along to any parties you think might be interested.

Brendan and Stina

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Our Plans

Stina and I just took a nice, 2 1/2 hour long walk and found ourselves talking about the future. That talk turned into a plan, and that all solidified our goals. Stina, using the wireless internet that we just set up (thanks for the router suggestion, Tony!), is on my mom's computer, and I am on mine. She is researching some of our more solid plans, while I blog, and hopefully we will soon both be blogging simultaneously.

We paused under the Bur Oak tree, by which we plan to get married. We tossed the small Packers football around and watched the dog explore further west along the path towards the river. After some time spent calling her back, and seeing her seek out that path, we decided to follow. She led us into the woods, where we found no man made interruption but my father searching for sugar maples and briefly tossing the ball with us before he headed back over to the north slope.

As the wind blew in the trees above our heads, we found ourselves wondering what would happen after this big adventure and our wedding. We have many grand plans for our lives, but how do we fit them into such a finite period as one's life, and how do we reckon that with the ages and the hypothetical children and... and... everything.

Well, many of you know how I get. We couldn't be done with our walk until we had a plan. So I proposed we walk through everything from today on to get us revved up and in the right frame of mind to figure out our timeline. This part took so long, we forgot our reason for beginning the task by the end of the task. Luckily that was still foremost in our minds, so we stumbled upon it again. In as succinct a form as I can bear to put it, our plans are as follows:

(We skipped the initial stages that we already have planned, but I'll include those here for easy reference.)
Today: Get the telephone numbers of all the friends and family from whom we have not heard, and press them to come to our show on November 1st at my parents' farm in Wisconsin. I hope we'll also have a bit of a party afterwards, maybe with some football and refreshments, and certainly with some catching up and getting along.

During next week we'll rehearse, visit niece, Erin, whose birthday was yesterday, fix my computer's dvd drive, pack, buy any gear we might still need (a lighter, warmer sleeping bag, waterproof shoes, a better backpack for me), and solidify our first few months of plans with the people we hope to visit.

On November 1st, we will have that event we're planning, and then bid adieu to my parents and everybody and travel home with Katie-Come-Lately to Waukegan near Chicago. We'll spend about a week in the area, a few nights with Katie, a few with Heather and Peter, a few with Jon Sabo (though he doesn't know that yet), maybe a few with some party members if we still feel the need and have worn out our welcome elsewhere. Claudia Hommel is a French singer and her partner Cappie (Kappie? Cappy?) and she have stayed here, and they've always been enthusiastic about supporting my performeriness.

After Chicago, we'll book it in a roundabout way traveling a bit further east than necessary to get to Jocelyn in New Orleans. We'll stay with my grandma and aunts along the way in Kentucky and Tennessee. Stina knows some folks along that route, too, I think, and then end up in Louisiana on the 8th or 9th.

We'll spend much of November accompanying Jocelyn's incredible tambourine and kazoo show that she does for all the cadavers at Tulane. (Don't deny it, Jocelyn, I know you do it when no one's looking.)

On November 23rd when Jocelyn heads to TN, we'll head to Fort Worth (actually Plano) for Thanksgiving with Stina's cousin Michael and Danielle and their children. Along the way to and from there, we hope we can stop by Mike and Stacey in Houston and Cassandra in Waco, and a few other TX friends. Perhaps we can extend the radius of our visits and go up to visit Kassie and Dan in Fayetteville, Arkansas.

One of those things that I mentioned Stina researching is a program for us to join whereby we exchange Spanish lessons for English lessons somewhere South of the U.S. My mother mentioned a program that we want to look into that involves volunteer work from us and free room and board to us.

We plan to spend December traveling around eastern Mexico and into Central America (perhaps ideally spending Christmas either in that program or with a friendly Couchsurfing host). Then January in Brazil (maybe we'll see a rainforest... maybe we can help save the rainforest... Who knows!?!), February will see us traveling down the eastern seaboard to the very southernmost tip of South America (maybe), and March will see us move back up the western side and through Central America to wind up in California in mid-April.

While in CA, we'll visit with Ca and Melina and Tai and Kira for a week or so (unbeknownst to them) and with Stina's San Diego clan for a week or so (also heretofore unbeknowing). Maybe we'll spend a day or two in L.A. (see how we're feeling). Then we'll head North and spend a day or two with Silas, and then we'll spend a day or two in Portland (Hi Kaitlin!) and Olympia, and finally end up in Seattle in early May.

Seattle will be a bit of a rest for us. We'll perform frequently, but it'll also be a time to visit with friends we've missed, see something happening at YTN, and recuperate.

From Seattle in June begins phase 2. We'll book it through Canada to the East Coast and tour NYC, the eastern seaboard, and parts of the south, probably down to Virginia, where we'll stay with Stina's people, and maybe see if we can visit with Emily Chilko in WVa if that's where she is right now (anybody know?). We will have found the cheapest flight we can from the U.S. to Europe in late July (probably a bad time of year for cheap flights...hmm). If all goes according to plan, we'll spend the whole month of August in Ireland.

Then in September, a week in Great Britain (mostly Scotland), a week traveling through France and Belgium (maybe 2 nights and a day in Paris?), a full week in Amsterdam (gotta see where in the Netherlands Anna and Lotte are living nowadays), two weeks traveling through Germany (visit Berlin for a few days, find some castles - mit Jungendherberge: e.g. Stahleck im Bacharach, rediscover Rothenburg...berg? It has a city wall!), and the rest of October through mid-November in Austria and Hungary, end of November in Greece and Italy, December in Southern France, Spain and Portugal, January in Morocco and northwestern Africa, February in
OOP! food's ready... time to eat. I'll finish this later. My father just pointer out that we could hit Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg) after Finland (which'd be part of the Scandinavia tour I neglected to mention and should be inserted between the Netherlands (Den Haag, Utrecht, Amsterdam) and the bulk of our Germany tour) which I haven't even mentioned... so until a moment from now your time, and an hour from now food time. See you then.

Well... delicious chili time is over.
On to Africa: We don't know how good busking will be in much of Africa, having never been there. We're considering... more than considering, we're hoping to find a program or organization to join in Africa volunteering and getting comfortable with the place. Maybe something environmental or political. We'd like to see if there's a youth conference attended by the SWP as there has been in the past. We want something, anything, really that can help us feel more comfortable in a new place to begin with. Maybe Couchsurfing has a program through which we could help in Africa. We're looking for short-term commitments, maybe several 2-week or month-long commitments while in Africa that we could jump one to the next. Stina wants to go to Kenya at some point. I'd like to see what South Africa is like (I've heard truck drivers that I've hitched rides from talk about it, and I want to know what it would seem like from my own perspective). We'll probably leave Africa from either Egypt or Ethiopia.

In March, we'll make our way from Egypt through Israel (I'd like to visit Iran, and I may have friend living there (Hi Zhiela!), but we'll see) and Turkey and Uzbekistan (I wonder if anyone from the UW drama department knows anyone we could meet there). There's a lot of ground to cover in this time as we're trying to make our way over to southeast Asia.

It's hard to know what's "unsafe" and what's truly unsafe. Since we're trying to do it land travel-wise, and we're trying to follow laws and be safe, there seem to be some places that'd be hard to get to. Like India... Are Afghanistan and Iran saafe to travel through for an American? I imagine so, but I'm sure there are those who'd say no. And Pakistan. I mean I'm all support for oppressed peoples of the world, but I'm also all American. Am I silly to worry about things like these? I point out, and rightly so, that we still believe in philosophy of trust... but you also hear about scary things happening "somewhere over there". Where is this somewhere? Is it as dangerous as they all say? Do other nations hear about how dangerous the U.S. is with all its many gun violences each year? I guess I'm mostly afraid that because I will be less familiar with everything going on, I will be less able to deal with dangers. Like deadly spiders and snakes. We just don't have enough of them to worry about in WI, but I know they exist. Oh, bah.

Anyways, after March, we hope we'll be able to visit Thailand. Then we'd like to see if Ca and Melina and kids could join us and visit Ca's family in Vietnam. And then we'd like to see if Mimi can recommend places to visit in Japan (not to presume, but maybe we could even visit your parents, Mimi, whom I've met a couple times... Maybe you, Philip, and Yuki would like to come visit us in Japan in May of 2010 if conditions are right...?). And then we'd like to impose on more of our communities' extended families in the Philippines. Peter, do you know anyone we can visit? How about you, Manny? And then, finally (and really finally this time) we'll end up in Seattle in mid-June 2010.

But wait! There's more! Oh yeah, this was all just the rev up to the discussion of what we're going to do AFTER the big trip...
Well, as most readers know by now, Stina and I plan to be married on 10/10/2010 at my parents' farm in Southeast Wisconsin by the big Bur Oak tree that's one of the oldest trees in the county. Our friend Alissa has gotten ordained as the Reverend Princess Mortenson (RPM for short), and will marry us in whatever way we and she please.

After a tropical honeymoon of some sort (Australia perhaps? Only one continent left to go after that!... maybe we should stop by Antarctica while we're in Chile), we hope Stina can get into a 2-year grad program in Galway. I'll try to work as an actor in Ireland, but if not, I can surely find some work there. I may even start another theatre company to add to my list (WC 4-H, Klichet, RBP, RAT, and so on - you folks are welcome to join me out there). During the semesters off, we'll teach English in Vienna and brush up our German. After Stina's a master, then I'll hopefully be able to attend a university in Vienna and study Austrian and German theatre. I'd really like to someday be known as a political theatre scholar, and I think Brecht'd be a great place to start (maybe I can find Boal while we're in Central America).

Backing up a few years, Stina and I have talked about having a kid or 2 in our early thirties, so around the time I'm done with grad school we hope we'll have a one-year-old and another on the way... or something like that.

Around that time (about 5 years from now... well, 6 really, but who's counting?), we'll probably resettle in Seattle... at least that's where we're leaning. If everyone we know and love has packed up and moved away by then, maybe not, but since that's where so many people we love live and where they're likely to stay, it's currently in first place for a "settling down" place. I'd certainly enjoy trying to make it as an actor, but have long thought that opening a used bookstore/coffeeshop/gamestore would be a delight. Stina would like to write and teach at a community college.

On our 50th year or thereabouts, when the kids are in their early teens, or late teens and early 20s, or on our 20th or 25th wedding anniversary, we'll either take the kids out of school for a year and take them on or, depending on their age, challenge them to an adventure around the world very much like the one we're planning now. The world will have changed considerably, I imagine. Perhaps we'll be able to take public transportation all over... or maybe we'll have flying cars that run on tiny nuclear fission batteries.

Anyhow, after the kids are grown, and after we've taken 10 years to help get them started in their new home on a colony on Mars, I imagine someday 50 years from now, perhaps (since 60 is the new 40 now, I imagine in 50 years, 75 will be the new 40). When my parents are 115 and a 111 and will have escaped to become gnomes in the woods and swamps, we will come live here, in this place, on this farm. And we will raise those sheep I talk about, and I will teach occasionally at Kewaskum High School, and our grandchildren will visit their gnomish great-grandparents in the woods, and I will found a terrific new theatre company in West Bend, and we will perform in the basement of the Tri-county building. We will also use the farm as a Bed and Breakfast, and once a year our friends will all come for a month (during the off-season, of course) and we will play and celebrate our lives together. On weekends, folks will come from miles around for the fine ambiance and delicious food at the Stonehill Cafe. And urban artsy folks will come stay for a night on the farm, and contribute something to the artistic output of our community.

We love you!
Brendan (...and Stina)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Our first circle busk

I count today as our first true circle busk (gathering an audience, then putting a show on for them, often inside a chalk circle to demarcate the performance space - we just used a circular area and set our sign and hat in the middle). We ran our full show from stilts to stories (...and juggling) every half hour, and between shows we wandered the market hollering out our next showtime and the where and what. After our first show a few kids loved us so much, they wanted to join our troupe. They gladly canvassed for us, asking all the adults and other kids they knew to come see our next show. They were playing some disturbing game in which the bigger kid declared the smaller his hostage, and ordered him about. No one seemed upset, though, so no harm no foul.
West Bend Farmers' Market -  it's been said before, and I know it's true, but knowing your audience is essential. Our first show was too much something. A good half of our audience either wandered away, or made an audible choice to leave about half-way through. It was in the midst of our fight scene, so it's possible we upset people with our violence... or it's possible that it was dull to watch, so people lost interest and wandered away. In any case, we performed thrice today. After the first performance, we reevaluated our show. By cutting the fight and tango, we were able to retain our full audience through the show. We need a bigger finale, though... something flashy. Currently, we end on a story... It's good... it's the (soy)meat and potatoes of our show. It's what we've had the most success with when sidewalk busking, and in our circle busk, people seem to like it (though I think the gimmick is not enough, and we've gotta tell better stories than we have been telling), but it's not a good finale. Maybe a good acrobatic something would be nice to end on... Stina standing on my shoulders...and juggling, perhaps?
Aside to Nikki: everyone everywhere loves the leprechaun joke. Thank you for it.
In other exciting news, our business cards have come. I've never had business cards before, and I really like these. It makes me feel legit.
Also, signs make us seem legit. Putting out not only a hat, but a sign seems to draw fewer looks of pity and more interest and impressedness.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

A few fun pictures and more...

We head back to Brendan's parents' tomorrow, and then on Saturday we'll be performing at the West Bend Farmers Market! I'm excited for that. One big way we plan on improving our performance from what you may have seen in Seattle, is we're going to have music playing during our tango dance routine. We have an Ipod (thanks, Nikki!) and we're going to get speakers and then we should be pretty set.

It was David's birthday yesteday and here are some pictures documenting the event.

Jennifer brings out the fabulous homemade cake.


Making a wish.

Oh my goodness, this cake is rich and delicious.

"Mom gave me too much. I feel like I want to be done now."

Appleton, Week 1

Not relevant to this blog, particularly, but we watched Sicko last night and talked until midnight about how we all want to do SOMETHING! If anybody is interested in organizing an around-the-country movement for the instatement of free universal health care, let me know. I will attend and promote any legitimate rally calling for healthcare for all.

In more busking-related news, we busked in downtown Appleton midday on Monday, and made nearly twice what we did in Madison. There were too many variables to draw any real conclusions about the relative success of the locations, but it was certainly heartening to see people supportive of our work. I think it helped that we had a sign out which directed people to andjuggling.com.

We were able to use our Seattle YMCA memberships at the Appleton YMCA, and they were very friendly to these 2 out-of-towners. I wonder if YMCAs still have the services that the song mentions... like a place to stay.

Stina will update with pictures soon, I think.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Getting our act together

Tomorrow we will try busking in Appleton. So far we've just enjoyed visiting with my sister and co. and we've been a little lazy when it comes to rehearsing. But today we rehearsed a little and tomorrow we're going to walk downtown and see what we can do.

Here are some pictures for your viewing pleasure:

Today we went on a walk.

Yesterday we went on a walk too.

David concentrates as he plays Wii.

Erin tried on my hat.

And I helped make dinner.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Quick update

We busked for about an hour in Madison yesterday, and now we're in Appleton with Stina's sister, Jennifer, and family. Many children demanding attention. Also a St. Bernard.

Busking is hard. We don't yet feel very confident in what we do, and even after we'd become a bit more bold yesterday (after standing around juggling without really trying to attract attention for the first 15 or so minutes) it was still hard to get people to even make eye contact. We are going to work on improving what we do. We want to look more professional. We want to make a sign for ourselves that might display the article in the Herald so people know we're not just glorified panhandlers.

Here is my sister Jennifer and brother-in-law Jeremey. Tomorrow I'll try to take some pictures of the kids and the enormous dog.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Short update by Stina

Today we went to the West Bend farmers' market and then later we went to Milwaukee for "Buskerfest." It was a pretty low-key event, but we met some really cool buskers and got to juggle with "The Amazing Milo" a very nice 14 year old girl, and we got to meet her very buskery and artsy family. 

I got my face painted by Milo's sister:

We even made a little money, since Milo shared her tips with us after we'd been performing together for a little while.

And now we are winding down. Brendan and I will probably finish watching "Dragonheart," which we started last night.

Friday, October 3, 2008

On the Train - Stina

We are passing through Glacier National Park in Montana and the views are lovely:

Sleeping on a train is hard. If this blog seems discombobulated, it’s because I am. I don’t know how many hours in a row I ever slept, but all told I guess we got about 6 hours of sleep. That’s also how much sleep we got the night before, finally crashing at 4am at my parents’ house after spending the whole day Tuesday packing and loading. We met several of our neighbors for the first time over the course of the last few days as people noticed our “Free Couch” sign or just saw us moving. I think we (society as a whole) should return to making pies for new neighbors so people can get to know one another when there’s time to grow a friendship.

I’m excited to see our article in the Herald. I hope it brings a larger following to our blog and website. Julie Muhlstein, the reporter, is friendly and easy to talk to. The photographer and Julie were at the train station when we departed. Julie was kind and stayed in the background as we said our goodbyes to my family, and Mark, the photographer, took pictures. My mom cried, and I think Amelie did a little too, and that was a little surprising to me. So far, this doesn’t feel so different from other times I’ve left for extended periods of time, but I guess it is. I’ve never been away for more than three months without seeing my family, and now it will be eight months before we pass through Seattle again. And even when we’re ready to get married and go to grad school or whatever happens next, it may not be in Seattle. It probably won’t be in Seattle.

But thankfully there’s the internet and cell phones and regular old snail mail, and these things enable us to keep in touch with one another easily. When my family moved to Virginia when I was 14, I lost touch with some people but became infinitely closer to others, and I’m hoping the latter will happen while we are away on this journey. In fact, if people would do me the favor of emailing their addresses to buskingjourney@gmail.com, I promise we will send a postcard, at least, and hopefully letters.

I love you all, my friends and family, and will miss probably more than I realize at this point.

On the Train - Brendan

Seattle is 3 hours behind us. We spent our past week giving away our stuff as best we could, and then we moved all the rest to Stina’s parents’ house in Everett, WA. Giving things away was fabulous! We managed to convince our friends to take bags and bags and bags of stuff from us that they will hopefully enjoy as much as we did. There’s more stuff in the world than there needs to be. We should share more, then we wouldn’t all need to own our own. I read an article the other day about Lucy, the “missing link”, and it made me think about what funny beasts people are. We hoard things and love them and hide them and collect them and lock them away. It’s just funny - there’s no inherent value to many of them, we don’t even enjoy a lot of them, and yet we save them. It’s funny is all.

My best advice for moving cheaply: do the math (and the research). After all was said and done, we paid $70-ish for the moving van plus $14 for gas, and $114 each for our train tickets. We used online promotional codes to get discounts on our rates (just use a search engine to find them) and we compared the various deals and then we did lots and lots of math to come up with each option’s final cost.

On from the tedium of our move, we were interviewed by the Everett Herald. We talked at length with the reporter about the philosophy of this whole trip - the idea of trusting strangers and of living this way that we’re living - I’m looking for words to describe it: “cheaply” comes to mind, also “sharing” and “through the kindness of strangers”, but I think it’s less about our not spending much money and more about our consuming fewer resources, which probably go hand-in-hand, but have expressly different goals... though cheaply also describes a goal of ours. “Living Sustainably” is a nice, quotable phrase. I don’t know how accurate it is, but as long as we’re living on other people’s excesses (hitchhiking, couchsurfing, dumpster-diving), I don’t think we can really count our carbon footprints. Hopefully we’re giving people something back, too, with our busking. We’re the rats of society - scavengers have a bad rap, but they serve a function and don’t hurt anything with their consumption of other creatures’ excesses.

The reporter also seemed interested in talking about our politics and the politics of our trip, from our interaction with the current state of US economics and our views on the failure of the bailout to the sexism inherent in hitchhiking safety (how to make it safer for women to hitchhike alone).

Later, we met the photographer, who turned out to be a hitchhiking hopeful himself. He told us about always having wanted to take a grand hitchhiking adventure, but never being able to. I’m sure he’ll find his way to it eventually. Look for the article in the Friday Everett Herald.

By the way, we have a show. A funtabulous show. We’re such convincing actors - when we showed the reporter a little bit of our show, I’m not entirely sure she got that we were pretending to fail. Either that or SHE’S a fabulous actor. Our performance last Saturday went off without a hitch, twice! We’re looking good. I don’t know what we’re going to do with an unsuspecting crowd, though. We’ll have our first real test in Wisconsin at the West Bend Farmers’ Market. Look for us there if you’re in the area!