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I learned an incredibly valuable lesson this weekend: If I’ve set the alarm on my phone, make sure the phone is by my head, rather than by my feet. This is important to remember because when my alarm goes off, I immediately sit up to turn off my phone…except that I’m in the middle of a 3 high bunk, which gives me approximately a foot of head clearance when lying down.

There’s nothing quite like bashing your skull into a bunk to really wake you up.

Today is our first day of work which means a bunch of morning meetings, some chores, and some stretching and conditioning. The production folks are working their butts off right now while we performers get used to this space and the daily routine.

Tomorrow C and I get to play up on the rigging with the riggers, for which I’m incredibly excited. Though I’m not sure that we’ll get to do any aerial training, we will get to hang out on the truss in harnesses and get used to the height and systems up there. Ultimately we won’t be harnessed during the shows, but we have this week to start easing into it. But everything kicks into high gear at the end of the week since our choreographer will be joining us on Friday for 10 days! We’ve got a lot to accomplish in very little time, which is actually something that I love when putting shows together.

View from the water taxi

View from the water taxi

The Amara Zee

One car ride, two planes, one AirTrain, one subway, one bus and one walk through the Ikea parking lot and I’ve arrived at the Amara Zee! For those who are curious, the Amara Zee is based off of a Thames River barge and was built in Canada many years ago.

I met T (actor/singer) in MN where we started getting to know each other and shared in mutual excitement/nerves. We finally arrived at our new home around 11pm shivering violently (man, I know the northeast had a brutal winter and all but going from CA to NY was exceptionally rough), a little bit exhausted, and a little overwhelmed by all the friendly faces smiling and greeting us as we stumbled down into the galley with all our bags. Someone showed to our bunks and gave us the fastest orientation ever as we threw our stuff on our beds. Miraculously, we managed to both stay awake long enough to drink some tea, but then we all quickly hustled off to bed. I had enough time to pull a pile of blankets on top of me and then was out cold.

Wake up was around 8 with a gentle knock on the door from S. I got dressed and stumbled back into the galley where there was hot fruity oatmeal waiting to be devoured as I looked around and did my best to remember all the names I was told last night. Didn’t actually do that badly, surprisingly! Also, we are currently represented by French, German, Spanish, and Korean languages and American, Canadian, and Australian accents.

After foods and morning meeting I got to fiddle with some handstands (surprisingly not that much different than on land; I had pretty consistent 20-30 second holds!) and then T and I wandered around Brooklyn and the dock.

Many folks went out to this thing happening in town, but I decided to stay in to help clean up dinner and sleep. Currently I’m in my bunk (no devices in the galley after 5pm) listening to the gentle creaking of the ship, the quiet vomiting of one of our folks who has been pretty sick, and the low buzz of the light in my room. Just kidding, the buzzing just stopped! I can definitely feel the boat moving, but it’s not an issue unless I’m trying to move around when the lights are out. I still don’t know the boat that well so between the slight shifts and the unexpected slopes and steps, creeping around in the dark is more like crashing into walls and softly cursing under my breath.

Tomorrow is our day off, which mostly means I’ll be going to CT briefly to drop off my things and smoosh my family.

I am really eager to start rehearsals and training and sometime between Monday and Wednesday we’re moving the Amara Zee to her actual home on the docks! (She’s currently in a temporary spot.)

Oh hi (seas)!

Well, my room is 97% packed, I’ve hugged most of the people here I love and have said my “see you laters”, so soon I’ll be off! Tomorrow I’ll be getting on a plane to fly to Brooklyn which starts my adventure with Caravan Stage for the next six months. I’ll be training and performing with them aboard a 30m tall ship as one of two aerialists. I’ll be performing on some new apparatuses I’ve never seen or played on, I’ll be meeting a ton of new people, and I’ll be learning how to sail and rig!

One of the things that I am unbelievably excited about is the amount of information I’ll be learning in the next few months. I’ve never been sailing, so everything boat-related will be brand new and I’ve never been on a tour like this.

Incidentally, that which I’m excited about I’m also just a bit nervous about. Learning curves are a little daunting when you haven’t yet gotten started! I don’t know a whole lot about what our schedule will be while we’re in Brooklyn, but the first part of our tour dates are as follows:

Brooklyn, NY (South Red Hook, Quadrazzi  Studios)
June 6-7 & 10-14

Hudson, NY
June 24-27

Toronto, ON
July 16-19 & 22-25

Kingston, ON
August 4-8

Clayton, NY
August  14-15

I will do my best to update with (some) regularity, internet permitting! Also, I’d apologize for all the forthcoming nautical puns, but we all know that’d be an insincere apology.Also, this is a very accurate gif for my mindspace as I pack:

funny animated GIF

 

I’m uploading pictures onto my flickr (finally). It’s taking forever and is still by no means even remotely complete, but they are being added on to slowly but surely.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/28266777@N02/

 

Have fun!

“No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old, familiar pillow.” -Lin Yutang

 

That’s right folks: I’m home. I’m writing this from the comfort of my bed, staring out at the tops of the trees from my window, slowly watching the sky lighten up. I’ve been awake since just about 6, which is almost reasonable actually. Well…except that I went to bed at 12:30 am and I’ve got the most ridiculous cold. This always happens, you know! I travel, or I’d be at school, caught up in life, busy busy busy, and the minute I get home WHAM! sickz0rz. It’s like my body goes, “Oh good! You’re home! I’ve been saving this up for you. Let’s make your head explode and chafe your nose down to a nub with all the tissues you need!”

Awesome.

Naw, but it is nice to be home, even if it feels a little surreal. And of course, I’ve started attempting to tidy up my room which I’m fairly certain is an impossible task. I mean, I graduated from college on May 22. Went to family’s for a party and got home with all of my stuff from the mod (apartment, for you non-Hamp folk) on May 23. On May 26th I left to go on tour with The Downside Up Circus. Needless to say, 3 days to see friends wasn’t hardly enough time to figure out the post-college mess. And then I got home from tour on July 9 and left for Europe on July 12.

 

So now I’ve got piles of college stuff, piles of clothes I sent home with my parents after the wedding in Portugal, and I’ve sort of managed to almost unpack from Europe, but most of it is just everywhere. This is ridiculous. Oy.

BUT! I did get home! The airports were a wreck because of some nasty weather in London, so things were getting canceled left and right, but eventually I got on a flight to Amsterdam and then to JFK. The flights weren’t bad…the transatlantic one was actually kind of nice: the guy next to me is this Texas mathematician (apparently he’s kind of a big deal…all I know is that he’s really friendly and has a rather contagious light southern accent and his son just graduated, too) and I got to watch a bunch of movies. Like Inception! And sure, this comes a few months late, but man! That was a cool movie! Also watched Bounty Hunters (it was free, what do you expect from me?) and had Salt on, though I’ve concluded it’s like every other one of Angelina Jolie’s recent movies: guns, her mouth, and dramatic looking-out-of-the-corner-of-her-eye expressions. Bleh. Boring.

 

OH! Here’s a fun post travel thing. Travel by numbers! Here goes:

  • 5 months
  • 15-21 countries (15, but 21 if you count the UK & territories as all one country and count the countries I just drove through without actually visiting, like France and Belgium)
  • 7 Helpx hosts
  • Visited 2 friends from home (well, Australia and Hamp)
  • Visited 3 families who were family friends
  • 14 Couchsurfing hosts
  • 1 wedding
  • 2 journals (obviously I write a lot, and not just for teh interwebz)
  • 6 sick days
  • 1 dead camera (and one new camera)
  • 11-15.5 kilos of baggage (11 when I started, 15.5 by the time I got home. Luggage included a sleeping bag.)
  • 5 cents from a guy who thought I was homeless
  • 2 euros and some change from a drunk guy who gave me money for “street performing” (doing a handstand) in Edinburgh
  • 5 days total in a hostel (paying for, not working for: 3 were with my friend while we were traveling, one was an overnight in Hamburg, the other was desperation in Athens)
  • 12 hour work days picking olives
  • 4,000+ pictures
  • 8 planes (including to/from Europe)
  • 2 ferries
  • 14 bus trips (including 1 bus-on-an-underwater-train trip)
  • 9 train trips (including 1 bus-on-an-underwater-train trip)
  • 1 ride share
  • 1 INCREDIBLY cold bike ride
  • 7 currencies
  • 3 visas (1 for 6 months in UK, 1 for 1 month in Ireland, 1 for 90 days in Turkey)
  • 4 (?) time zones
  • 3 different plug adapters
  • 4 necklace charms that found me
  • 8 bracelets that found me
  • 4 rings that found me (and one that left me)
  • 1 haircut (impulsive decision from a host who’d taken quite a bit of liquid courage beforehand)
  • 2 overnights at protest sites
  • 1 funeral I couldn’t attend
  • 6 nights in a treehouse
  • 4 or 5 nights sleeping in train stations/airports
  • 32 or so new recipe ideas
  • 1 pair of worn out sneakers
  • 0 problems with theft or pickpocketing
  • 1 problem with a guy who was following me and getting a little aggressive
  • 1 Nobel Peace Prize
  • an embarrassingly few number of postcards I sent (Dear friends: I’M SORRY! I realize I’m a failure.)
  • 1 amazing journey

 

“I met a lot of people in Europe.  I even encountered myself.”  -James Baldwin

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

Well, my friends, it’s Friday. And whereas normal folks are excited for Friday and the end of a week, I’ve got a feeling that’s…well…nerves. This is the final day of my trip: tomorrow my flight leaves at 7.30 am and I get home in the late evening. I’m torn: I’m excited to go home and see my friends and family because I miss them quite a lot. I’m also excited to wear something different (pretty sick of the 6 shirts I have) and take a bath and get hugs. But at the same time, it’s another big change. I’ve been really independent on this trip, relying almost exclusively on myself. It will be nice to not have to worry about that, but at the same time, I don’t know how I’ll be able to adjust to a life staying put. (And I have no idea how to deal with the impending culture shock. I was thinking of a Glee marathon and baking mountains of Christmas cookies to start out with.)

Huh, but I guess that sounds a lot sadder than it feels. I mean, I really am looking forward to home comforts. And I am excited to figure things out when I get home. I mean, I’m planning to find a job in Boston for a year or two and then do another big trip. As of today, I think I’ll do South America next, probably January 2012 for a few months, then come back in time for a summer job. And of course, little trips in between. But they say traveling is an addiction and I think I’m understanding that now more than ever .

Later:

In the airport, first flight got cancelled, got another one to Amsterdam, then NYC (rather than CT), that was supposed to get me in earlier. However, it’s delayed, so it looks like the journey continues with trying to get home. Oy. Proper post when I’m home, hopefully!

Okay so as I mentioned, I’m in Barcelona right now. However, I completely neglected to write about Norway! So here’s a quick piece of awesome information.

I was there for the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony.

And no, I don’t mean, I was in town. (Obviously, I was.) I mean, I was there. As there as you can be without having an invite to actually be in the building. Dagfinn (an old friend of my grandfather’s) and I went to the little concert beforehand filled with young kids jumping to the tunes of some singers I don’t really know, and then after we went to the town hall and got to watch everyone come in! Granted, the winner, Liu Xaibo, wasn’t there (nor was his family) ‘cuz he’s in jail. For those not in the know, he’s a Chinese dissenter who was heavily involved with the Tiananmen Square protest in ’89. The Chinese gov’t jailed him for an undetermined amount of time. It’s kind of a really complicated situation because on the one hand, he was fighting for peace and human rights (hence winning the NPP). On the other hand, China’s kinda pissed at him. So it’s become a political issue where China is furious with Norway and anyone who went to the ceremony. In fact, there were several demonstrators supporting Liu, and then a large group condemning him, holding signs like “Criminal= Nobel Peace laureate?” “Liu Xaibo is a criminal”, etc. Was a bit weird. Anyway, so we got to see everyone go in, and even got to see Norway’s king and queen! No crowns, unfortunately. They looked disappointingly normal.

So then we drove around and explored the city a bit, but at 6.30 or so, Dagfinn dropped me off for the torch parade. Traditionally, the public has a parade where they carry torches to the Grand Hotel and the Nobel Peace Prize winner greets the crows from the balcony and often gives a speech or something thanking them. But since Liu wasn’t there, it was quite a bit different. Our torches were these MASSIVE things, over a foot long (that’s what he said) and they burned for a bit over half an hour, giving us time to walk down to the Grand Hotel and be greeted by a huge projection of Liu’s face on the hotel, and then we listened to a bunch of speeches and songs and things. And I got to see the king and queen again as they were driving by! Anyway, so that was REALLY cool, definitely something I’ll remember for a long time.

And now I’m four days away from home (yes, I will be coming home Mom, don’t worry), and still loving Barcelona. Today I walked..uhhh…everywhere. Up to the top of this crazy mountain with a gorgeous church. And an amusement park. I’m not sure who thought “Oh wow, this church has been here for a few hundred years, what a sacred place! You know what it needs? ROLLER COASTERS!”, but I guess someone thought it. So that’s weird. But this city is gorgeous. Gaudi’s architecture is like none other and gives the city a lot of character and color, there’s tons of painfully attractive scruffy hippie boys with large, dark eyes and dreadlocks down to their waists, the Christmas lights and music fill tiny alleys crammed with Christmas markets, and it’s just lovely. OH speaking of Christmas markets, there are two things that I’ve seen a lot of. One: a log with a face painted on and a Santa hat, and two: an elf figurine squatting with his pants round his ankles…pooping. I’m not making this up. In fact, there’s a shopping mall, and right in the center, there’s a huge (I’d estimate about 30 ft tall) statue of said elf and a big pile of post-food under his enormous, naked butt. Call me prudish, but WHAT?! I recently learned the explanation.

First, the log. Every house gets a log like this, and the children ‘feed’ it, much like how American kids leave out milk and cookies for Santa on Christmas Eve. Spanish kids do the same. The next morning, the food is gone. Where does the food go? On Dec 6th, the log (I’m borrowing this phrase directly from my host) poops presents.

I’m gonna give you a few moments to deal with that sentence.

Yep. So the process goes like this: Kids leave sweets out for the log. In the morning, the sweets are gone. The more sweets you feed it, the more presents you will get. Then you cover the log with a piece of cloth, take a stick, and hit the log while singing a song that encourages the log to poop lots of presents. I guess you do this a couple times. I’m not making this up. I’m creative, but I’m not that creative. Or crass. So here you’ve got a present-pooping log with a creepy grin painted on.

Secondly: the elf. The first few I saw I thought were a crude joke. But no, apparently this is quite a thing. Traditionally, you have the nativity scene with Mary and Joseph and baby Jesus away in a manger and all this. And then behind the nativity scene, on the other side of the mountain (or even just behind the stable), you’ve got the pooping elf. I have NO idea why. I guess ‘cuz people have to poop, even when God’s son was being born.

Again, I’m not making it up. It’s real. It sounds kinda blasphemous, even to me as an atheist, but it’s EVERYWHERE.

Merry Christmas, indeed!

Anyway, in my spare time/to warm up, I’ve been putting on my ipod and dancing in mostly empty parks. It’s loads of fun, keeps me warm and happy, and tends to make the passersby laugh as I bop around, pretending I’m in a musical. I highly recommend it. Be careful when dancing on high places though. Sometimes you get dizzy from spinning and falling is just such a buzzkill. Any recommendations for my boppy dance music playlist?

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