Written July 13th, 2016, from Brenda Lake, B.C.
I’m sitting here, awake, and with a cup of coffee I have somehow crafted from crystals, propane, and sheer force of will. No coffee aficionado that I know would sit at the same table this would be served at, but as I made it with my own little paws, I’m rather pleased. Also, I have not had a proper coffee in two days, and I’m happy to have some form of caffeine injection.
I am up and about before my companions. While I have had trouble rising early and on the regular due to the work flow on this tour, I have always been the first one up. As a child, it was up before my parents, and it’s then I’d find pleasure in cleaning and dusting the house and possibly bringing them tea in the morning. Being in Brownies around that time (a precursor to Girl Guides) it was emphasized that Brownies, in the traditional fae sense, were kindly sprites who helped out household members while they slept. I adopted this to a very literal state, and it’s suited my early bird antics all of my life, even side-stepping the usual adolescent habit of sleeping late.
As an adult, when touring with BJB, I would often find myself awake and restless in the morning before anyone else. In order to avoid waking the others, I’d slip out and go running. It became my meditation, my time for morning reflection, and a point where if I had to organize my day, I could rally my thoughts into some semblance of order before having to open my mouth and talk to anyone. This has carried over into my home life, where with the birds I rise, and either jog, hit the gym before the Golden Agers descend on the equipment, or else hit up an early stretch session. These have all been positive things for both my bag of bones and my brain.
The coffee might be shitty instant, but I have sweetened it with maple syrup. Not the cheap kind that is corn syrup masquerading as authentic Canadian pancake topping, but refined sap from the heart of the maple tree. I love the slight sweet smell it invoked from my mug, that always vaguely reminds me of being on set at work, where there is a bloody scene being filmed. It’s weird to most, but when ever I have had a scene that requires me to be coated in faux blood, I always am over come with the urge to swab my body with pancakes and waffles. Such is the curse of being something of a contemporary scream queen.
It’s a bit dear to buy, but there are some luxuries that I feel you must give yourself when on extended leave from the comforts of hearth and home. I do miss having regular bathroom access and showers, but I’ve not fallen into myself under the weight of dirt. I have discovered the joys of dry shampoo, which make me wonder why I ever bothered with corn starch. When I’ve used it at home, it often times leaves my bathroom looking like the scene of a violent cocaine fight, or staging for some event guard Isadora Duncan-type dance piece. I have also given up on trying to have a regular routine. This has been the hardest thing, as a creature of habit, one of the biggest comforts I find is that in my being able to control events around me. Ritual is a mainstay of my personality, but given that since we arrived back in BC, we have had no such regular events.
After leaving Calgary, while we did have a break in, we also had a great show in the city with our horror friends (Visha, Dan, and Rolando) coming out to support us. Rolando and his lovely lady, Taylor, were good enough to let us use their bathrooms and gave us exceptional hospitality, and our busking on Canada Day was all I could hope for as a first-timer. But after swinging by Banff to pick up a passenger to Bass Coast, and stopping in Golden to get gas, that is when things took a slide for a push-me-pull-you turn for the strange.
We stopped at a Husky station in Golden, only to have our starter die on us. While we were able to get it fixed the next morning straight away, and for a very reasonable price, it meant missing out on a very fun and well-paying gig in Kelowna. We were all low in spirits – the loss of that gig with the added repair bill on top – was not the kind of thing we were hoping for upon our return to the Rockies. However, we went into downtown Golden, and I had tried booking up a gig at the Rockwater Grill, where I had played often times before with BJB and with Sweet Soul, respectively. We had, oddly enough, tried for that very date, and upon conversing with the delightful barkeep found that the day was, indeed, open. When the bar manager arrived, he agreed to let us do a show for a percentage of the bar sales, given that the show was last minute, and their entertainment budget for the month was tapped out.
We got the jungle drums going, and thanks to our new 151-proof blowing bartender buddy and Burns’ old carny friend Pete (aka Carny Pete, aka Harmonica Pete) those jungle drums got a thrashing. We wound up doing two sets for all the awesome folks who came down on a Sunday long weekend, and through our tipping, staple money and bar sales, we were able to cover the cost of the repairs and set us on our merry way. The kicker to this was, despite having a killer last minute show, I got word from my sublet that she had left my bedroom window open and that my cat had gotten out. I have lost two cats already in this way – with someone letting them out when I was out of town – only to come home to dead cats each time. I was distraught, but put on my ‘happy face’. However, my family at home rallied and while he hasn’t been caught yet, he’s hanging around the backyard, and it’s believed he’ll come home soon.
Talk about weird ass, stressful luck.
Now we are camping at Brenda Lake, between Kelowna and Merritt. It’s beautiful, and free but I was a stressful mess driving here. The road was not paved, and I am not used to camping outside of a festival situation. I had all kinds of doom and gloom Cassandra-Like notions of the bus getting damaged or being unable to get though or get out given our recent situations and being stuck on a logging road with no power, no signal, and no hope. Call me a pessimist, but I’ve spent enough time on the side of roads throughout my life to want to be stuck in a forest corridor in the same fashion. I also have a bit of a fear of large land predators such as bears and cougars, so I felt just in being hesitant. But we made it, set up camp, and had a pleasant evening, even making friends with our neighbours and their dog, who were also on their way to Bass Coast, and just coming back from a season of mushroom picking. I won’t lie, given that my parents are cultivating truffles on their farm, I kind of am keen to go mushroom hunting myself for a season and experience the camping and foraging with Burns. I think it’d be a hoot and an interesting experience. Gathering mushrooms in the wilderness away from other humans sounds rather pleasurable to me.
I look forward to Bass Coast. This is my first year doing something other than performing and being something of a mangler. I’m excited to be doing the mermaid lagoon, but I’m also trepidatious. The process of getting the thing together has been fraught with red tape, and I worry about annoying the organizers. I consider both Liz and Andrea friends, and didn’t want to fuck up this chance. Of course, in my mind, I had a huge set idea piece to rival Moon’s lagoon. Pride before the fall. Part of my artist’s grant package was two tickets to sell to bankroll it. To date, the tickets have not yet been sold, due to the nature of our installation, and I have paid for everything myself out of pocket. I feel like if I had not been required to pay the insurance on the van, I could have bought everything well in advance and not had to worry. But. given the scaling back of my vision, resourcefulness, and Burns and Vivienne’s willingness to make it all as awesome as possible, I still feel we will have a unique ‘habitat’ that people will enjoy.
A loon is singing her sad song on the lake. I’m the only human audience awake for the concert. I don’t mind. I saw earlier either an otter or a beaver at the other end of the lake. As soon as I looked in it’s direction, it ducked under the water. I rather like it here, however if it was just a smidgen warmer (i.e: my fingers weren’t about to fall off from cold) I’d like it even more. But it reminds me of my childhood on the San Juan Islands growing up, and I’m pleased for that experience. I actually wish we had a few more days here, but I know that Vivienne wants to get back to civilization to do laundry, German Phil wants to recharge his devices (I’m kind of on his side with that) and so on before we head to Bass Coast for set up.
I think that’s kind of the thing that is throwing me the most – the inconsistency. On tours I’ve done in the past, it’s shows every night with maybe a night off here and there or a day for driving. This tour feels like it’s been a lot of switching gears from performer, to carny, to busker, to mermaid. We haven’t had plans to stay longer than a night anywhere outside of the carnival, which wasn’t restful in the slightest with carnys coming and going at all hours, and where one couldn’t sit and have a peaceful morning reflection without some alcoholic barging in to buy beer and then sitting there to drink it before I had the chance to brush my teeth. So despite being chilly I am at least alone and undisturbed with my thoughts and my crappy McGuyver’d coffee.
I am grateful for both my burlesque and touring background, as well as my career as a writer and an actress. It makes me feel more like I’ve a tangible worth and better about being left out of tours and stuff. I am happy that I’ve begun to perform more as a circus/sideshow performer and that I have begun to refine and elaborate on my fire performances. These things all have been great at helping me cope with the ridiculous FOMO when I see all the amazing people in my newsfeed. However, the road dog, gypsy lifestyle has been good to humble me, it has strengthened my bond with Burns and Vivienne, and hopefully is earning me a bit of street credit by going on this three month adventure.
..But dammit, I could use a shower, a wall plug, and a wifi connection more regularly than what I’ve been getting now.
C’est la vie.
Little Miss Risk