After a long winter at home, I can see the road beckoning on the horizon, and my little heart goes pitter-patter with excitement.
I have spent seven months straight at Mamma Bear Base Camp this year, a practical eternity to a hopeless wanderer, and as the end of my stay draws near I feel the need to take a moment to reflect philosophically on the emotional roller-coaster I have ridden.
Sometime in early June I arrived home fresh from a successful show season on the road, elated with the new developments, bursting with plans to conquer, and a little nostalgic for the thought of spending some quality time with family and friends.
Yet by the end of September the daily grind of normalcy was starting to take its toll. My part-time office job was pounding out new linear paths in the artistic labyrinth of my mind. Reconnecting with friends meant a parade of well dressed, first apartment-ed, newly wed, career focused fine upstanding young adults marching past. I even began to experience a sort of Stockholm Syndrome. I could be one of those be-suited socialites. Should I be striving to become a well-coiffed, demurely mature, subtly fierce young professional, shattering glass ceilings with a single spreadsheet? Perhaps. I gave it some serious consideration. I brushed off my resume and rattled off a few cover letters.
My exciting life of art and travel seemed so foreign and alien so quickly that not even the arrival of my long awaited vardo could reconnect me with the colorful fairy I loved to be. It sat awkwardly in our suburban driveway, squat and bright with its purple walls and orange trim, and dared me to remember who I was.
The memories came back slowly. The disconnect was real. Days of khaki slacks and office coffee, car payments and the thought of real estate had made an adult out of me.
Then I woke up this morning and I could practically smell the wild sage and desert sand of Arizona. I found myself craving a WaWa Sandwich…a staple of highway nourishment. I found I could actually focus on the thought of packing, an insurmountable mental block just a few days earlier. I mapped my route and learned I had not one but two of my best friends directly en route and simply demanding a visit.
This is the balance I fight to maintain. When I am on the road I love so much about it. The color, the energy, the new friends I meet and the adventures and misadventures I have . But I miss my old friends. I experience such hiraeth; longing for a return to my college days when all my closest friends lived just around the corner. But those days are gone. My friends, fierce young professionals that they are, have carved niches out for themselves all over the world.
But for me at least, perhaps they are still just around the corner. It is just that my neighborhood has gotten a whole lot larger. A trip around the block lasts from late January to early June and takes me on a lap around the continental United States. A visit across town is more like a journey across the ocean and a crash reunion with ex-pats and euro-rats.
I know it won’t always be like this. So until the day that I find my own niche to carve out, I’ll just stay happy with my endless wandering, and content myself with my road-dog routines.
Here’s to stale coffee and sandwiches. To counting the miles, singing out your heartbreak and happiness to the open road, and going crazy one white line at a time.
Remember those pesky details I mentioned in the last post? Well, it seems that details spawn faster than the Easter bunny’s slutty cousins in the spring. Cause boy oh boy is it going to be a crazy summer for me. Wanna hear all the details so far?
Well you better, cause I want to tell you! If you don’t I guess you could just stop reading. Go away!
Still here? Awesome.
Right now I am in Waxahachie, Texas. I got here about a week and a half ago after a hastily, though skillfully, completed pack down in Arizona. Here, I quickly moved into the super wonderful booth I am renting for the season and prepared for opening weekend of Scarborough Faire. I do love the booth. I’m rather proud of it, honestly. The clothing racks are curvy branches and really give the shop an organic flow. And I put them up myself. With a power drill! The skirts look colorful and wonderful hanging on them. Roxanne and I have had a great time playing fairy, and I have every confidence that she will be awesome when I have to drive away and leave her in charge of things.
So when am I driving away and leaving her in charge of things? In two days. Aah!!
On Sunday afternoon I will climb back in to Shelly the Sportvan, who is currently full of everything I’ll need to set up a booth at the Virginia Renaissance Festival and all of the things I hopefully will not need when I return to Scarborough at the end of this mad adventure.
After I climb into Shelly and turn her on I will proceed to drive from Waxahachie, TX to Denton, MD- approximately 1500 miles and/or 22 hours of straight driving. I will need to do that drive within 48 hours in order to catch a flight to Italy from Dulles Airport by 11:00 pm Tuesday night. I am hoping to do it in about 30 hours, leaving me “plenty” of time to catch up on necessary things like renewing my business license and/or sleeping.
So I climb on the airplane and delight in the ability to sleep, or read, or do anything other than pay attention to where I am going. Ten hours and fifteen minutes later I land in Istanbul, Turkey where I will probably try to go explore the city for a bit if they will let me out of the airport. I have a heinous 24 hour lay over after all. I am certainly not spending all that time staring at other bleary-eyed travelers near Gate B30 of the Ataturk International Airport.
Anyway. So flight to Turkey. Mini Turkish Adventure. Short flight from Istanbul to Rome. Hopefully manageable navigation of customs, etc. Catch commuter train from Airport to Termini Station. Catch 10:30 pm train from Rome to Cefalu, Sicily. Enjoy train ride down Italian coast and Train ON A FERRY ride across the bit of water separating Sicily and Italy. Get to Cefalu. Get picked up by family in Cefalu. Yay family!
Operation: Crazy Family in Sicily Adventure begins. Yippie!
Operation: Crazy Family in Sicily Adventure ends. Boo!
Return to Annapolis again via heinous Istanbul layover. Return the evening of May 1st. Sleep, or something.
May 2nd I drive out to the Virginia Faire Site near Lake Anna and meet up with Team Wonder-Fairy to set up our booth.
After that it starts to slow down. I just have a wedding on the west coast to catch, and to get back to Scarborough for the end of the faire. And then get back to Virginia. Somehow. Even though I’m probably leaving Shelly with the Wonder-Fairies to use as a safe and dry storage spot. And then there are some more shows and festivals along the east coast I might do. Or maybe I’ll be running out to help in Colorado. Or maybe back to Italy with my sister.
I’ll be somewhere on the planet. That’s good enough for me!
Bring it on summer! I have caffeine and glitter! I’m not afraid of you!
Wish me luck and stay tuned for updates, mishaps, adventures, and mushrooms! Mushrooms? Sure, why not?
My goodness it has been a while since my last post! Almost four months, two states, and two shows since my last post in fact. Being the lead fairy of a costume boutique is hard work!
But so much has happened! I will try to catch you up. First, the Spark(ly) Notes:
– Adopted by Ace
– Drove to Arizona and opened the Arizona Renaissance Festival
– Was accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival
– Sold Alice
– Drove to Texas and opened Scarborough Faire
-Schmooze with Travel Chanel Team
– Road trip to New Orleans
– Bought a Van
– Was accepted to vend at the Virginia Renaissance Festival
– Survived exploding fertilizer plants and rouge Tornados
I think that’s all. That’s enough right? I’m sure some of those sparkly notes have you saying “excuse me what?!” and I promise they are all as silly and exciting as they sound.
So to begin, at the beginning, which is often a good place to start. Except when the end seems like a good place to start. So long as working backwards is an alright thing for you to do. But I digress.
In January I arrived in Santa Barbara and spent two weeks with Teri Evans, owner of Unicorn Clothing, in her workshop. While there I learned that Ace needed a home. Ace was a six month old Siberian Husky that was adopted by Teri’s neighbors as a puppy. Only after adopting him did they learn that their landlord did not allow dogs. Not the best order of things to be sure. So poor Ace was faced with a tough decision: the pound, or me, He chose me! And so two weeks later, into the Jeep he climbed, and away to Arizona we did go.
In Arizona we had the exciting task of opening a new booth for Unicorn Clothing. And I got the exciting information that Reincarnation Outfitters had been accepted to vend at Scarborough Renaissance Festival, in Texas in April and May. And I sold Alice, my Jeep Cherokee, to my good friends Alex and Stephanie. With not a few tears I said good bye to my loyal road companion and went from “Has It Together Hippie” to “Irresponsible Road Rennie”. On the road, with a large dog and a business’s supply of inventory and no way of transporting it. Yikes!
Operation: [Learn how to] Ask For Help was in full effect. And I have to say it was a good lesson for me. After spending the full run of Arizona steadily sewing skirts, making tutus, and preparing for the show; it was finally time to hit the road to Texas as the grateful passengers to Repo and Shadow. Ace was an AMAZING road dog, incredibly patient and calm for the 20 hour road trip ahead of us. Repo and Shadow were entertaining travel company and Repo’s van did a decent job of getting us to our destination. It willingly humored our midnight departure and my through the night shift as driver. It patiently weathered the hail and freezing rain that met us over the Texas border. And it finally gave up with a cough when we cracked a radiator hose. Luckily Shadow and some gaffing tape came to the rescue.
Pulling onto site the next morning, I was instantly faced with the next adventure: Set Up Camp. Yes, I would be CAMPING at the show this year. I hadn’t had to CAMP at a festival since 2009 and I was feeling very uncertain of my memory and skills regarding such an activity. Could I still put up a decent shade/weather tarp? What about platforms. What about lights? God I didn’t even have a KNIFE with me. How unprepared could I be?
But again, thanks to the success of Operation: Ask For Help and the local Wallyworld I soon had a cozy camp established. And I have to say, after countless storms, and tornado threats (keep reading!) I am pretty damn proud of my Tarpentry skills. Not a single unwanted drop has entered my tent. Well, maybe five unwanted drops found coming through a hole in the tarp; a hole quickly defeated by a sliding a trash bag in between the tarp and the tent’s rain fly.
Cold nights forced me to warily grant Ace tent privileges, an honor he me with surprisingly good behavior. What a cuddle butt he is. But I knew the cool days and cold nights would not last. Soon the Texas heat would descend: 90 degree days with 90% humidity and no where to hide from it. But luckily I had a plan.
Ale, my adventurous step-mom, was going to be meeting me in New Orleans after the second weekend of the show to deliver the inventory I had stored in Maryland. She took Ace home with her to spend time as a house dog, complete with a yard to run in and air condition to hide in. New Orleans was New Orleans. Repo, loyal road dog himself, came with me for the adventure and a chance to see The Big Easy for himself. New Orleans is great. Every time I go I tell myself, “Self. You need to live here one day. You really do.”
This time was no different. We three wandered the city by night, exploring streets with music pouring out of dodgy bars and lit by real gas lights on the corners. In the morning we ate beignets and drank chicory root coffee and hit the road home by the afternoon. I got to introduce another road connoisseur to some of my favorite roads in the country: the beauty of I-10 as it spans the swamps outside of the city.
Back in Texas things seemed to settle down. Sort of. Each weekend was a whirlwind of tutus, and hula hoops. Each week was filled with tutu production, dance parties and concerts, and other standard Scarborough Fare. Pun intended. The highlight of the season was again the Naughty Clown Party. The Naughty Clown is an annual show hosted by the resident clowns. It began as a chance for the clowns to get out some of the naughty jokes they just can’t use on the kiddies during the weekend. It has since grown into the most stunning display of talent on the circuit. Performers and those who don’t perform professional but sure as hell could if they wanted to put on acts of such beauty and skill that it makes you cry out of joy and love and respect for our amazing community. Those of us in the audience are just as enthusiastic, dressing to the nines- or the sixty-nines as the case may be- in our best naughty clown attire. This year I wore a rainbow. That’s what it felt like anyway, an accurate description do you think?
One weekend the Travel Channel was on site filming for a new show about fan culture. The renaissance festivals, with their playtrons, comicon fans, and authentic hobbits, was a wealth of footage I am sure. And of course I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to talk to someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL! I couldn’t leave my booth to find them, sadly, so I planned- and pounced! I sent a flower with a message something along the lines of this: “No festival experience is complete without feeling the excited delight of being told you’ve been sent a flower. But there is no blushing admirer at the other end of this bloom. Only an enterprising fairy who hopes you’ll stop by her booth to hear some tales of travel and adventure, glitter and angels.” I sent it with the flower girl with instructions to give the flower and the not to “the most important looking crew guy”, and it worked! The next morning someone came by and we chatted and I told him about this here blog and gave him my card and I hope hope HOPE that someone from the TRAVEL CHANNEL is reading this blog! What do you think? Would you watch a show about a backpacking fairy? Wouldya?
Somewhere in all that merriment I managed to find my new road vehicle. A 1994 Chevrolet Sportvan…the kind of van that the Mystery Machine was drawn to resemble. I am going to paint the sh*t out of that van! No white space will be left unadorned. The Era of the Van has begun. I LOVE IT! Lets just hope she is as loyal as Alice was. Her first big test is coming up in less than two weeks when we make another mad dash north. I’ll have four days to tear down in Texas, drive north, and set up in Virginia. Wahoo!! Coffee please!
And there you have it. An update on the life of Aeri the Traveling Fairy. I promise I’ll try to keep on top of it this spring!
In one of the more absurd maneuvers of my life (so far), I have decided to trade Alice, the Jeep Cherokee, with a lovely little Rennie couple in Texas; in exchange for a fully built road worthy vardo!
If you’re new here, to catch you up to speed, here are some definitions you might need to know in order to understand the above sentence.
– vardo – n. a wagon first used by french circus folk in the 1800’s and later adopted by the Romani culture. See example below.
– Rennie- n. a name, endearingly coined by the culture itself, given to those employees of Renaissance Festivals. Renaissance Worker was shortened to “rennie” to mimic the slang term for a carnival worker- “carnie”.
Now, I first pitched this beautiful vardo concept in an earlier post titled “Home Sweet Home?” And like anyone could have guessed, our four months to work on the project quickly turned to three, then two, then dwindled fearfully to one month. Would the vardo get shelved for another year? There would be no way to build it on the road. woe’s me!
But wait! Fear not! There are other Rennies, experienced in the art of traditional vardo construction, and just hankerin’ for a little Jeep of their own! So with great excitement the planning has begun. Check out our initial sketches! Very Professional, no?
A few days ago I turned 5 years old. Fairie years that is. We fairies like to take things slow. I think in human counting it was 25 years old. That’s quite a bit older. I guess. To celebrate, my friends threw me a tea party and it was WONDERFUL!!!
They were so nice and it was so fun. We had tea, and cake, and coconut macaroons, and cucumber and creamcheese sandwiches. And there were boys that got dressed nicely, and girls that were so pretty. It was in a wooded, shady, sun dappled glade with a light breeze through the warm summer day.
Even though we didn’t technically “Go” anywhere, I wanted to talk about my tea party in my travel blog. Because it was AMAZING!! I love my friends. I love that I said “tea party” and they said “yes, absolutely.”
They came to play. They liked the wings and the silly fabrics and the tiny sandwiches. They let me feel like a princess whether I was turning 5 or 25.
When I travel I meet some amazing people, people with strange stories and new perspectives. But it has been a long time since I’ve had good friends to ground me at home. Friends who love me because of my stories, and friends whom I love because of their stories.
So this post is dedicated to all my homies. Who make the return flights worth while.
This weekend I was at Camp Ramblewood, representing Reincarnation Outfitters as a vendor at the Maryland Fairy Festival. And, well, it was a learning experience. Let’s say that.
Here are the things that were great about this weekend:
1. The weather was BEAUTIFUL! Couldn’t have asked for three better days: warm, sunny and breezy during the day, and cool at night. Low humidity. I had forgotten how wonderful Maryland could be in the spring.
2. My neighbors were a delight. I was vending next to a kindly kitchen witch with yummy oils, and my good friends at Miscellaneous Oddiments, Shane and Leah Odom. I’ve know them since I was a wee little pixie wanting to be one of their bubble fairies.
3. Darlington, Maryland is a picturesque and unblemished little town with tree shaded roads that wind past green pastures and happy cows.
Here are the things that I have to learn from:
1. Experiencing loss is hard. I don’t mean loss of a pet or family member, which is hard as well, but I do mean loss of income. Sales were slow, to say the least, this weekend. There just didn’t seem to be a whole lot of fairies running around. After expenses I reported negative net income. I mean, not badly, one more skirt and we could have broken even. But the fact remains that one certainly doesn’t pay to attend events and go through all that effort just to break even. But a good friend comforted me with the reminder that the only regret to have is not to have tried. And try we did. And learn we did. And learn we will continue to do.
This was just a solid reminder that the life of an entrepreneur is not all glitter and rainbows, not even for a fairy entrepreneur.
But in more exciting news, we have been accepted into a weekend artist’s market, in Austin, Texas. I see good things coming from this. Very good things indeed. At least I hope so, there are several AWESOME trips in the works, that I need to raise the financing for.
What trips? you may ask.
Well for starters, my friend Morganne might be coming out to do the road trip north with me. A little vacation for her, and a delightful journey for me. Maybe a stop in New Orleans is in our cards?
Then, in the fall, I’ll be crossing the pond once again- this time heading to Russia where I’ll be meeting another friend for an epic Trans-Siberian Railway adventure. St. Petersburg to Ulaanbaatar (in Mongolia) in three weeks. I want to drink vodka, eat caviar, and wear a big furry hat.
Returning from that trip, I’ll have a few weeks rest before returning to Europe; this time to a gentler climate: Italy. A tri-generational excursion, my Grandmother, my Mother, and I will be returning once again to my Grandmother’s childhood home (Sant’Ambrosio, Sicily) to visit with family. While there, my Grandmother will stay with her sister while my mom and I take a week to bike through the Tuscan countryside. I hope my bum is up for it!
So that’s a little peak at the trips in store. IF my finances can keep up of course. I”m sure I’ll find a way. I’m a fairy entrepreneur after all!! Listen closely as I bounce towards my goals. I’m sure there will be some silly tales and even sillier schemes in store. Any suggestions welcome as well!!
I spent this weekend at the Spoutwood Faerie Festival as a vendor for Reincarnation Outfitters. It was my first time as a vendor, and I was nervous and excited. But I didn’t need to be nervous! It was SO much fun!!
I arrived on Thursday afternoon with plenty of daylight to set up the booth which was comprised of an Easy-Up, some clothing racks, an old wooden barrel and a suitcase. Oh and some curtains in the corner to make a dressing room. The shop felt like a vintage living room turned walk in closet. There was a whimsical air to it once all the colorful flowery skirts were in place. Thanks so much to my Dad, I had a big beautiful banner with the company name on it.
Friday was slow, a “practice day” everyone said. But Saturday and Sunday were busy and fun. I saw so many fairy friends on Sunday that I couldn’t contain myself. And I made some fun friends across the street that make Hula Hoops!! We traded a hoop for a skirt, and she’s going to wear it next weekend when she performs an interpretive tree hula-hoop dance. So Cool!!! I hope we can get some pictures!
Throughout the weekend so many things were so fun, but I decided to make a list of my three favorite things about fairy festivals.
1. I love to trade stuff!!
2. I love little kids and tiny dogs with fairy wings on. I love little girls with dresses and wings, running around the field, pretending or believing they can fly. I love little fluffy dogs with tiny pink wings that chase after butterflies and french fries. And I love great big dogs with tiny tiny wings that look like overgrown bumble bees, and flop over happily in the grass whenever their people stop to look at something.
Which leads me to my third favorite thing:
3. Confused bumblebees. I had SO MANY bumble bees flying around my skirts and hair clips this weekend. And I take it as a huge compliment! If the silly bees confuse my flower skirts with actual flowers, than I consider that a job well done! Though I do feel sorry for the little bees that aren’t getting any pollen from my little cotton skirts. I’m sure they’re glad to have all these silly glittery people out of their fields now.
Last weekend was so fun, that I am glad we can do it all again this weekend at the Maryland Fairy Festival in Darlington, MD. If you couldn’t make it last weekend, or even if you could, come out to play this weekend too! And don’t forget about Mother’s Day!!