Friday, November 28, 2008

Happy day of being Safe!

Quick note just to let everyone know we are safe and in Plano, Texas and had an awesome dinner yesterday with Stina's Cousin's Wife's Mother's Husband's Parents (yes, all the detail was necessary). We'll probably take a leisurely hitchhiking route back leaving on Sunday or Monday and making our way back in whatever roundabout manner seems most appropriate.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

From discouragement to empowerment

We are reenergized, empowered, and enthusiastic, and let me tell you why.

Yesterday noonish we went out with our circle busk in Jackson Square. It was a beautiful day and tourists abounded (we actually heard it was a rather meager crowd for a Saturday, but it was the most buskerrific crowd we had yet seen this trip). We talked with a few street artists, and found an excellent spot to set up. I set out from our spot on stilts to gather an audience, and Stina stayed behind to amuse passersby. We gathered a modest crowd to begin of about 10. And we began. And everybody walked away. Ouch. We rushed through the rest of the show for the one remaining man, a street artist who had talked with us enough that I'm sure he felt obligated. Towards the end, a couple kids stopped by to listen to our stories. Families, however, had left us, so while kids may be fascinated by us and our everything, their parents are not... and parents generally dictate what their kids watch (and if their kids' entertainers get paid).
Whoa. $0 is discouraging. It doesn't scale well.
We offered our space to Alexander the Magician (see last blog for his website). We watched him operate in the same conditions we had. While he mentioned it was a slow day, he held a good 20 people's attention and convinced them he was worth several dollars each. His show was confident, competent and amusing.

Walking home that evening, and realizing how far our show was from even mediocrity, we outlined our options.

We recognized that much of our disappointment was caused by our nearly zero context for expectations. We had, we thought, modest expectations, but getting out there, we see that our skill set and audience interaction needs to improve 4-fold. And so we also reurned to the question of why we do this and what the payoff is.
In all its glory, our list of options:

1. Continue as planned (see last month's post for that plan)
2. Stay in New Orleans for 3 months and work work work to improve our skills and busking
3. Give up the busking portion of our plan and travel the world for the next year
4. Move to any city we choose and concentrate on our dreams (Brendan-acting, Stina-writing)
5. Seek out venues more attuned to our style of busking (e.g. Ren Faires)

A few of the above options had sub-option, like 4a (city= New Orleans, Brendan's Dream=busking)

Over the course of 3 hours we came to a tentative decision.

We slept on it.

Today we took the necessary steps to make our decision reality.

We will sublet Jocelyn's apartment (she's moving in with her boyfriend, Nate). We will follow a strict rehearsal schedule:
3 hours a day of Juggling and Stilt-walking practice 4 days a week
3 hours a day of content creation and discussion 4 days a week
2 hours of trickle busking each week
3 circle busks each week

As we improve, we will increase the amount of busking we do - there's nothing like practical experience.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Stina's notes on yesterday

We tried frozenness again yesterday, with less success. We went out an hour earlier than we had the day before, hoping we would catch more of the lunch crowd. One man seemed interested when we first set up, but he walked away saying "I wish I had some money." About a half hour later, when we had tired of the stillness and were standing there juggling, that same man came back and we offered to tell him a story and he requested one about a mean clown (he'd just had a negative experience, where he felt ignored by the balloon man down the way) and he gave us three pennies in return. This put us at a -$9.97 profit, since we had donated $10 earlier in the day to a good cause (something about feeding the homeless? I'm not totally sure, but it was one of those people [the second we've directly encountered in our lives, the first being in Seattle] who stops you on the street and issues you a ticket for something like "being with a beautiful woman" or "having too much fun." Those people are good!).

Here is Brendan in frozen mode:
We were out there for a little more than an hour with no one else stopping but the three cents man so we stopped and ate our sandwiches and scoped out the area to see where would be the best place for a circle busk. We want to try our whole routine (what we did in Seattle and Wisconsin with a few modifications) on stilts. We plan to walk around Jackson Square (on stilts, of course) gathering folks and then perform our show, on stilts. We need to practice this--I'm not sure how I'll do walking on stilts and juggling. I know I can do it, but I'm afraid I'll drop a ball and it's harder to recover when you can't quickly grab the ball and continue. But performing the whole show on stilts will, I think, be more impressive to an audience.

We met a cool guy yesterday. He is a magician here in NOLA. His name is Alexander ( and yesterday he was out taking notes on things going on around Jackson Square. He looked friendly yet also imposing and we rightly assumed he is a performer, and we approached him to see if we could ask him some questions about busking in New Orleans. He was super helpful. He told us New Orleans is the Mecca of street performance, and buskers don't come here because it's easy, but rather because it's hard, and if you can make it here you can take your act anywhere. That was encouraging to hear. Not that we've made it yet, but we are learning a lot here and hopefully will be more successful this weekend.

Anyway, I could say more, I'm sure, but internet time is scarce and I want to do a few other things with my onlineness.


Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Considering all options

This blog brought to you by the everyday uncertainty that is our brains.

Firstly, we have much that we are considering when it comes to what may or may not be the best circumstances for busking. We don't really have enough patience to do sufficient experiments to include or exclude particular results. There are too many variables that might or might not matter, and even if we figure out that a certain variable does matter, to what extent it matters is also important to us, as we also seek to travel efficiently and cheaply (this regards variables that may be bulky or expensive). Some variables we're trying to analyze with our limited information:
Location in city, proximity to other buskers, time of day, day of week, shade vs. sun, costumes, hooks (e.g. carnival barkers, frozen statues), events in city, etc, etc...

We had an overall positive if difficult experience with busking today. Stina had the idea that since our carnival barker approach could be offensive (see fisticuffs incident of last blog) and tired us out without apparently being super effective, we should try this new approach. One of the difficulties we sought to overcome was our inability to entice a crowd as more common buskers might. Musicians can play music continuously, and someone who enjoyed it might stop for a moment or two. People can evaluate whether they enjoy music or not without engaging the performer. It gives them a safe space to make their decision before committing. This is, I imagine, why most juggling buskers are circle buskers. I suppose we haven't really tried yet, but we are just uncertain enough yet of when and where is appropriate to try a circle busk that we haven't exactly, despite getting positive feedback most times we've performed it.

All of this is merely to say that we tried something new today. We made a sign that said:
Step One: Drop in some $
Step Two: Give us a topic
Step Three: Hear a story

We stood behind the sign and froze in a position as if we were in the midst of juggling. After a few minutes, a man dropped a dollar in and didn't say anything, so we told a story of Pickled Mushroom Man then went back to our freeze. He said, "Bravo" and wandered off chuckling, "Pickled Mushroom Man" to himself.

Very pleased with this success we proceeded to stay frozen for 30 minutes without any more dollar or change drops. I noticed a few flashing cameras that Stina didn't notice, so maybe I imagined them or maybe they weren't directed at us. Hard to tell when you're frozen. After waiting quite a while, my feet began to ache, and I proposed we simply juggle and stand looking innocent until someone approached us again. No one ever did except a man who wanted to give Stina juggling advice. We should have charged him a dollar for the privilege.

We were out there from about 2-3pm... should have been there earlier, I suppose, for the lunch crowd.

We're still struggling to find something that works for us.
We have been seeking to create costumes of brightly colorful shirts and pants, but have been unable to find anything cheap and complementary. We're considering buying dye and plain white t-shirts and light colored jeans, but there are fewer thrift stores here than Seattle as far as I can tell, and the Bloomin Deals has odd hours that we never seem to make.
(On an entirely unrelated note, Marx says "hifalutin" at one point in the Communist Manifesto... isn't that strange?)

We're also considering trying to follow the renaissance faire circuit and perform there. In that case, we imagine we would have to get ourselves some fancier costumes. It's hard to know what we should do. We haven't made a significant amount of money busking yet, and we did anticipate a slightly better time of it.

For those dedicated readers we propose an interactive element just for you. We need help narrowing our variables... Today, for example, we walked past some trucks and trailers of equipment for the film shooting in New Orleans and starring Renee Zellweger, we think. I said, "Let's busk right here, right now." Stina said, "That sounds like a bad idea." We each had valid reasons for thinking that. We could decide ourselves... and of course we will, but we want some third brain who is neither of our ridiculous brains. If you send us your phone number in a message that says "put me on your variables list!", we will call you now and then and describe in 2 30-second increments the pros and the cons of the busking situation that faces us. You will then have 30 seconds to say "yay" or "nay" and give your reasoning. We will then chat with you for 29 seconds and then hang up. You will be able to read about the decision on this blog the next time we blog. Congratulations, you are an active participant in our busking!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Adventures in Busking

Stina’s Stories:

On Saturday we set forth, stilts in hand, for a day filled with parades, meeting theatrey people, and enjoying numerous festivals going on in New Orleans. I’ll skip directly to the latter part of busking we did that day. There was a fringe festival going on this past weekend, and they had an area set up as headquarters where people could buy tickets and t-shirts and perform on a stage set up there. We were told it would be open on a first come first serve basis beginning at 5pm, so at 4:30pm or so we headed there so we could hopefully be first and perform a shortened version of the show we did for friends and family both in Seattle and Wisconsin.

There was a show for kids in progress when we arrived, a rather bizarre puppet show. As we waited for it to end, the weather was getting colder and colder and a few people had started to leave. Miss Led, the woman in charge of the stage area, was eager for us to perform and hurried to announce our show as soon as the puppet show was over, and thankfully people stuck around for it.

This was the first time we had a significant number of small children watching our show and they are quite the rowdy crowd. When Brendan started telling jokes, the kids started telling jokes back. When I pretended the balls were stuck in my hand, two kids jumped up and helped pull them out. It’s great how directly involved they get. I wonder if adult audiences should be more like that. But it’s not usually the right way to behave at a show and would throw the performers off, but maybe we need more shows that get the audience involved.

After our show we received a lot of positive feedback. Misled offered to help us set up a show if we come to town again on our travels, and people were very enthusiastic about what we had presented. It made us feel great and ready to do it again.

On Sunday we set forth once more, this time to do some street busking. We made a sign that says “Find us online at ANDJUGGLING .com” and “If you like what you see, feel free to give a tip” with an arrow pointing to the side where we set our hat. We went to Canal Street, which is at the entrance to the French Quarter and is a popular street for shopping and where a lot of people get off the streetcar. We found a spot on the sidewalk that looked good, and asked the shop closest if it was all right with them, got the ok, and began.

Kids again helped make us feel great. These three kids came by with a man who may have been their father or grandfather walking ahead of them. They stopped to see us juggle and we offered to tell them a story and they loved it, and wanted another, and then another. We told a story about a doll that got revenge on her child because her child never played with her, one about Spiderman, and one about Paul Bunyan scaring away the hurricanes from New Orleans. The adult wanted to move along then, but first he took our picture with the kids, gave us five dollars, and complimented us on what we were offering to the world. These are the moments that make us feel like we’re doing just what we should be doing.

Shortly after this, we realized there was another shop very nearby that we should have asked permission of, and when we did, the shopworker basically said we sounded really obnoxious and it would be great if we would move. So we walked around the corner, but the spot didn’t seem very good. No one was stopping and fewer people seemed to be passing. So we moved on again, this time to Bourbon Street, which is always humming.

There’s a story at Bourbon Street I’ll let Brendan tell, but suffice it to say for now that the rest of our evening was filled with rather negative experiences. It seems very nearly impossible not to take these to heart as much as we do the positive experiences, which leaves me feeling somewhat confused. Why do some people really enjoy the stories we tell and our method of entertainment, and others not? Do other street performers get such immediate feedback from their audiences, both positive and negative? When I don’t particularly care for a street performer’s style of music or artwork or whatever, I usually just walk on by without saying anything. But we got a guy who responded to our question of “Would you like to hear another story?” with “Will it be better than the last one?” I did just say I think audiences should be more interactive, but I’d rather it wasn’t in the form of negative feedback.

Our two days kind of equalize, but we’ll try to learn from both. There is some good to be gained from negative feedback. It tells us something we’re doing is making at least one person uncomfortable and then we can try to figure out ways to make our performance accessible to everyone, even that one nasty person. I just hope the positive feedback will soon far outweigh the negative.

Brendan’s Stories:

Stina got a good chunk of it hammered out above, there, but briefly, some moments for posterity:

Saturday: Unreal! We began the day by seeking out the Fringe Festival Parade. We arrived at the cross streets where the parade was to end, no parade, no people. Had we missed it? We wandered up the street, along the parade’s scheduled path. Was there another St. Claude Street? This one was 4-lanes with a median... it didn’t seem like a parade street to me, especially since it had no people standing on the side to see the parade. Walking a few blocks more, we and two other groups of people converged on a street corner and realized that the 5 of us were all looking for the parade and were baffled. We parted ways, wishing each other luck with parade-finding. Further along, we overheard at a bus stop potential passengers wondering why the bus was late, and hypothesizing that maybe there was another parade... yes, in fact some woman had heard maybe there was something or other like that. We see flashing lights. We sit out front of the Golden Arches, and for one block watch a parade with a marching band, stiltwalkers, and odd accoutrements. Another couple, this one with a ballsy dog, watches as well. The parade passes in 5 minutes, and we go on our merry way.

We head on stilts to the Fringe Festival tent. At the cross street where the tent is meant to be, we find friendly theatre people gathered around a fallen antique circus tent. We help put it back up. When we return later to perform (as mentioned in Stina’s blog), we find no tent. It has been given up on. (This should not be taken as any indication of the organization of the festival, which was very well received from what we noted by the standing room only attendance at the show we attended Sunday night.)

In that in-between time, during which the tent ripped and fell out of our sight, we attended the book fair going on along Frenchman Street. After walking past much of it and running into Nate’s roommate Jo (Nate is Jocelyn’s boyfriend), we ate and went into a bar that had turned itself into an impromptu host of booksellers and artists. Towards the back of the bar, I casually happened upon a Ms. Rippey of Honors Croquet League fame, and member of the whole bizarre interconnectedness that is the University of Washington classes of 2002-2006. She came to watch our performance later that evening and authored the phrase of the night, “German Air-conditioner Vandals”.

After running into our distinguished colleague, down the street we made our way one block to the buskers on the corner playing pretty (Accordion, Violin and Tuba with Dog-style) music. At this folkpunkfiddle venue, we happened upon Lisa from the chocolate shop I worked at in 2004 dancing in the streets. She invited us to attempt rope-jumping with her and her pals. Stina attempted double-dutch unsuccessfully but with great verve. Lisa also arrived to see us at the performance space later, but after watching the around-the-world marionette show for 30 minutes, went to get her coat and did not make it back in time to see us perform.

We performed at a chainlink fence between these two bits of Seattle surreality, and received verbal accolades from pausers and passersby.

Sunday: Not as Unreal, but every bit at experience-ful.
In addition to the 5 dollars made from the positive man and his 3 children, we made a few dollars performing for the waiting crowd outside The Lunatic King (the crowd that didn’t make it in to see that soldout show) and six cents on Bourbon Street from a guy who wished he had more to give because he really enjoyed our show.

The story that Stina has left for me to tell involves badscaryness, so if you don’t feel inclined to know of problems we face, feel free to stop reading this entry.

In our attempts to gather a crowd (or, in truth, even one audience member) we advertise that we have stories for people. Most people respond pleasantly to our invitations to our hear a story, even if the don’t stop. A very few are belligerent as they pass by, but of no concern. Some others offer their excuses: “Late for work”, “had a rough day”, “am too drunk/high”. The in-a-hurry ones we don’t try to stop, mostly. But we do appeal to the other two for their interest. Indeed, we hope we are pleasant and uplifting, and so someone who had had a rough day could find their day improved by pausing for a moment. Even more likely seem subjects of alcohol and drug enhancements. After all, “why not?” is usually an apt reason when inebriated.

On such group of individuals passed us headed towards Canal Street, and one man amongst them said “I’m too high”. We let them be. But then they approached our area again. An opportunity if I ever saw one.
“So, you’ve come back for a story,” I asked.
“Too high,” was again the response.
“We’ve got stories for people who are high and people who are low,” I cleverly replied.
At this point the man in the group who had not yet said anything to us turned on me.
“What’s your story, man?” he growled, “where do you get off calling us high?” He put down his beer bottle and rounded on me. “What’s your story? Why don’t you tell me your story.” He held his arm out as if to swing at me.
I had very little response. “We’re just peddling stories. Go on. You don’t have to hear them.” I had a moment of clarity, but instead of using it to prepare myself to duck, I prepared myself to be hit. I’m not known for my quick thinking in a crisis.
Luckily the friend who had been telling us he was high stepped in. “They were just making jokes, man.” He put his hand on his friends shoulder and guided him away.
A man from the restaurant came out and told us we had to go, too... or something... and then something about the cops, maybe... I don’t know. I have a hard time understanding people when they’re giving me bad news, I tend to just hear their tone. At first, I thought he had just come out to sympathize with us, but as he ducked his head inside, I realized that I hadn’t understood, but had clearly detected the tone people use when they’re worried about confrontation. We had been involved in a commotion, and were now a liability to that sidewalk space.

You know, I’ve always scoffed at the phrase “mean people suck”, but they really do.

On a more pleasant and recreational note, we got to stop and visit with Eric at the Starbucks on the way home from BloominDeals (where we hope to buy costume pieces, and which is closed on Mondays and at 4:50 every other weekday), and now we’re off to Marxist Monday with Jocelyn and Nathan.

P.S. ornamental peppers are edible, juicy, delicious and SPICY!! (painfully so, attests Stina; delightfully so, attests Brendan)

Friday, November 14, 2008

Taking Busking to Heart (...or the Philosophy of Everything)


If nothing else (but there are things else, I'm just saying, even if there weren't) this trip is definitely leading Stina and me to come up with some philosophies.
New Orleans is a great city for walking. It's all very flat except for the occasional tree root pushing the concrete 2 feet high. Some of you may know that when I walk I talk. So we spent much of today and yesterday talking about why we want to do this.
For some context I must confess, Stina and I have been feeling a bit disheartened by our busking thus far. We have only busked 3 times (aside from by-invitation shows) in the month and a half since leaving Seattle. We haven't been able to quite get into the groove. So this brought up some questions for us... namely, "Why?"
"Why?" led into a couple discussions, all of which stem from some fear. In no particular order they are:
Do we look like beggars? / How can we not look like beggars?
which leads to --> What is "good" busking?

What is the purpose of art? Is busking art? Is our busking art?
Of the many purposes of art, which are worthwhile? / Which do we fulfill?

What can theatre do in terms of making the world a better place?
How can we do that with our theatre?

Should we be busking? How can we develop a process or "great idea" to make our busk exceptional?

Should we busk in Central America?
What is busking's relationship to less privileged or "developing" nations? How does our act translate in Spanish? Are our stilts to heavy for us to comfortably travel with?

Do we think too much?

Hey look, a cockroach! There are lots of them in New Orleans. I think if I were to live here, I would have to get used to them and take one as a pet.

We answered the first three questions (and their subquestions) pretty well, but the last three still haunt us.

The theatre question I think resulted in the most unique philosophy - that I would promote an idea of theatre as a community endeavour... that beyond its entertainment value, theatre helps communities discuss difficult issues. More new theatre should be made. Playwrights should write plays for their communities. People from the community should do the gritty work in rehearsal about it, really getting to know the subject, and the whole community should come out and be participants as audience members. And this philosophy should scale well... Movies should be made the same way, just for a larger community- the U.S., the world. I'm not saying all theatre should be made this way, but I'm hypothesizing that this is the context within which theatre evolved, and the reason for its being in contemporary society.

We know that this trip is just for us, but we're still haunted by a need to do something fulfilling and rewarding and "exceeds expectations". Maybe we'll mellow out as we get more into it.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Now we are in New Orleans

We arrived in New Orleans at around 6pm yesterday and Jocelyn and Nate were waiting for us at the station. It is a grand thing to go from cold to warm and from the discomfort of sleeping on a bus to the joy of sleeping in and stretching out on a bed. Jocelyn and Nate took us right to food, which was also a book club meeting with 11 other med school students. They were discussing the book Cosmicomics Italo Calvino, two copies of which have now been lent to us so we can read it and make sense of the discussion we sat in on last night. Everyone at the meeting was kind and interested in meeting us and once they started discussing the book, they stayed on topic very well, which impressed me.

Jocelyn is generously giving us her apartment as our own while we are here. She is staying at Nate's, which is within easy walking distance, and tonight we will head over there to have dinner with them. Right now we are at Community Coffee, which has free WiFi and is also within easy walking distance. Tomorrow we may busk a little, and will at least head to where other buskers are and get an idea of what it's like to busk in New Orleans. Today we are still recuperating from our colds, mine having reached its worst spot (I hope) last night and this morning. The queasiness of yestereve has passed into a general difficulty to breathe today, but I have high hopes that I will be mostly recovered tomorrow.

A question for our readers: What do you think about buskers? How does it make you feel to see a busker (of any kind)? Go any direction you like with this, and please post responses as comments.

And Juggling REVEALED - 02 from Cheryl on Vimeo.

Getting to New Orleans

Brendan’s cold traveled in a minimized fashion to my nose and throat, and it was good to sleep two nights at Heather’s and Peter’s home in Lake Forest. We attended a wonderful choral and orchestral concert with Heather conducting the orchestra and felt very comfortable staying there. But we needed to press on and get to New Orleans. We planned to visit Brendan’s aunt on the way in Tennessee, but knew we wouldn’t get that far in one day. So we were okay with getting as far as Indianapolis on Monday.

We set out not as early as we should have, perhaps, though it may have made no difference. We needed to walk first to the nearest highway, which was about 3 miles away, and this was a good test of how our packs feel over distance. My shoulders were aching after just a few minutes, but it was doable and will probably become easier the more we do it and the stronger we get.

We got to 41 and got a ride almost immediately from a man on his way to Chicago. He didn’t think we would have much luck getting a ride in Chicago, and he took us a little ways beyond his own destination because he felt it would be a safer spot for us. It was south Chicago, but far beyond downtown and beyond, I think, the neighborhood my parents asked of--“You’re not in south Chicago, are you?”--when I spoke to them yesterday. We were at 111th and Corliss, for anyone who wants to map it.

And at 111th and Corliss no one would give us a ride. We first stood at the entrance to the freeway and then moved to that intersection, which was at a light and caught many people leaving a gas station, and people would occasionally talk to us, but no one would pick us up. Mind you, this was only over the course of about 45 minutes, which in hitchhiking terms in not a very long time. Yet it felt like forever because of the cold.

I’m not totally sure why we didn’t check the weather beforehand. When we first arrived to stay with Katie in Waukegan on Friday, she mentioned it might snow the next day or evening. I think I translated this as “Ah, it might be unusually cold tomorrow, and then it will get a bit warmer again. That’s good.” But it did not get warmer. We were both dressed in nearly all our layers yesterday. Brendan was wearing his sweats and his jeans and every upper piece of clothing but one shirt. I was wearing a tank top, a long johns shirt, a t-shirt, a sweater, a fleece and an outer shell, and wool pants. At first it didn’t seem too too bad. But the cold quickly seeped in, first hitting our hands, which only had thin gloves on, so we took turns holding our “Nashville, TN” sign. Then it seemed to sneak under my jacket and cool my stomach, and I guess that’s how it eventually found its way to my feet, and that was the final straw because there was no getting warm after that.

So we gave up rather quickly, and I really did feel like a failure for a while. This was to be our first attempt to hithchike on this trip, and hitchhiking is to be our primary means of travel. But the cold beat us. And that’s okay. It’s why we’re traveling south anyway, to keep away from the cold, so we just found a faster way to do that. We called my parents and my dad used his internetting skills to tell us the way to get to the Greyhound station in Chicago. We thought we would have to take a bus to the L and the L to downtown, but things worked out more serendipitously. We took the bus to the L station, and lo and behold there stood a Greyhound station. It was a teeny one, but it fit our needs, and we were able to book passage all the way to New Orleans. As I write this we are on the bus and most recently went through Memphis, TN. It’s warmer already and there are many more leaves on the trees here than there were in WI and IL.

And that is all for now. Perhaps Brendan will relate the story of the woman we met while waiting for our bus, or else I’ll come back to that.


Maybe there’s something about me, but I think there’s something about me taking a bus to see Jocelyn. No, I know what you’re all thinking, and no, I wasn’t sexually molested. Stina and I were simply accosted in Chicago by a very friendly lady who wanted to tell us things we didn’t need to know and to show us to places we didn’t need to go. Stina eventually gave her a dollar and bought her some cheese fries.
I don’t judge, but I do think it’s notable that there was more pot being smoked in Chicago than I’ve ever seen before, and that includes both Amsterdam and Hempfest. Our driver had it, a man stopped into the bus depot briefly to get out of the wind so he could light his roach, and I’m pretty sure the people I might otherwise have thought were a bit off their rockers were instead just high. They had that hard-to-follow train of thought that just almost seems on the verge of making sense, and then you ask a question and everything seems to fall apart. Also the self-interest of someone who knows they can’t quite grasp what you’re saying, so they might as well talk on the off chance that they’ll understand what they’re saying. Does that make sense? I’m not high.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

On the move ... (finally)

After my illness of the past few days detained us, we finally made it to Illinois on Thursday afternoon. We had our day in Chicago yesterday. We saw the view from the Hancock building and went to a show at Second City with Jon and Katie and Heather and Peter. We had a delicious Chicago pizza last night. We took the train to get from Waukegan to Chicago (can't buy a 10-ride pass ON the Metra)... everything is 45 minutes from Waukegan.
We stayed Thursday night with Katie-Come-Lately and are staying tonight with Heather and Peter.
Chicago seems like it'd be a good busking town... but it's a bit too nippy for standing outside for hours, and we're feeling a bit rushed because of the days late we are, so I think we'll forgo the pleasure.
We're gonna try our luck hitchhiking early tomorrow to get down to the Nashville area and my aunt CC starting on Hwy 41 and working our way down via 65.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Stina's stuff

We are still at Brendan's parents' house today. Brendan came down with a nasty cold that seems to be passing from one person to the next in this household (I hope I'm not next!), so we postponed our journey until tomorrow. We weighed ourselves with our bags and my initial weigh-in was 170 lbs. Without the bag, I weigh 122 lbs, so it weighed 48 lbs. We looked up recommended maximum weights and for a fit individual it should be less than 33% of one's body weight, which for me is about 40 lbs (though I'm not sure I'm that fit). So Brendan helped me re-evaluate everything in my bag and we knocked off about 10 lbs so now my bag is at 38 lbs, though that will fluctuate somewhat depending on what I'm wearing and how much food I'm carrying.

Here is what's in it:

7 lb pair of stilts (strapped to outside)
1 lb 9 oz sleeping bag (graded for very low temps, also strapped to outside)
2 t-shirts
3 tank tops/undershirts
1 button up sweater
1 fleece jacket
1 rain coat (combined with fleece makes a very warm combination)
2 hats (one for warmth, one for keeping glasses dry in case of rain)
1 neck scarf
1 pair lightweight gloves
1 head scarf
8 pairs underwear
5 pairs socks (one cozy, the rest practical)
1 pair slipper socks (entirely a comfort thing)
1 pair stockings
1 pair pj bottoms
1 skirt
1 pair jeans
1 pair shorts
1 bathing suit
1 micro fleece towel
1 pair sandals
1 pair waterproof tennis shoes
1 water bottle with duct tape wrapped around it
1 small bottle shampoo
1 bar soap
toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss
1 comb and a few bobby pins and 2 hair bands
contact solution and contacts (plus extra contacts)
1 glasses case currently holding 2 pairs sunglasses
1 bottle of sunscreen
1 small tube of moisurizer
nail clippers
6 juggling balls
passport, wallet, cell phone+charger, ipod+charger, speakers for ipod
2 tiny notebooks
1 tiny deck of cards
digital camera plus extra batteries
pocket size road atlas
Spanish-English dictionary
1 rechargeable flashlight
2 tarps for use with tent and covering packs in case of rain
feminine necessities
first-aid kit and bottle of painkillers
extra plastic baggies tucked in side pocket
1 clothing line strap thing
1 mesh bag for holding food
a few energy bars and some trail mix

Actually, a few of those things (like my wallet and cell phone) are in a separate purse so I can either toss that in the bag or carry it by itself.

Here's the bag and how the stilts are strapped on:
You can kind of tell from the picture how there is a ton of room at the top of the bag for food or just to keep empty.

And here are my shiny new shoes which Brendan got for me in exchange for our Y membership:

Aren't they pretty? Also they are very comfortable and, most importantly, waterproof.


Monday, November 3, 2008

Packing for the big adventure

Saturday we had our WI family and friends show. We performed twice a somewhat modified routine. We put back in the tango, but led into it with a short scene from Much Ado about Nothing rather than the fight. We want to keep the fight, but it seems too scary (or simply too loud) for the small children who often want to watch us. I'm sure there's a venue for it, but we haven't quite found it yet... perhaps a later evening busk in a brightly lit city would be better for it.
We got to visit with friends and relatives this weekend. Some have children they didn't have when last I saw them. That was neat. Friends are growing up, changing, but with the same personalities they've always had, thank goodness. Family is wonderfully supportive. I'm glad I have a dedicated extended family: uncles and aunts and cousins and 2nd cousins and 1st cousins once and twice removed and 2nd cousins once removed and a great aunt... I come from an adventurous family. No nay-sayers here.

It's ladybug and housefly season now in WI. All the insects are looking for warmth. Dozens of ladybugs guard the window each morning, sometimes feasting on the dessicated corpses of flies who couldn't hack it.

On a lighter note, here's Brendan's packed bag list:
5 pairs undergarment
3 t-shirts
8 pairs socks, inc. 1 cozy pair
1 Fleece
1 Sweater
1 Sweatshirt
1 Tie
1 Pair jeans
1 Belt
1 pair sweatpants
2 hats (one for warmth, one for rakishness)
1 scarf
1 pair light gloves
1 raincoat
1 moneybelt
cheapo razors
Busking Supplies:
4 Pins
Pair of Stilts
ipod and speakers
Food Supplies:
1 large, 1 medium water bottles
1 book
2 EDH Magic: the Gathering decks
pen and pencil
Other necessities:
sleeping bag
Wallet w/ small amount of cash, cards

Tomorrow we head out with our bags on our backs to Chicago and Beyond!

edit: list of packed items incomplete and just plain wrong.