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?
It has been a very crazy summer and there is so much I want to talk about! Where to begin? With Pennsic 42, the most epic two weeks of the year? With my discovery of the meaning of life? With a chance encounter and my new friend?
How about this. It will all make sense in the end, I promise, but getting there…well it’s always an adventure, right? I’m going to start with the fortune cookie I got on Day 2 of Pennsic Set-Up, when Janeen and I brought dinner back after our final town run. The fortune cookie said “Talk is cheap, barbers give it away free with haircuts.” And that cookie really made me sad.
I thought about my Granddad (a barber) and all the great talks and advice he gave to generations of customers over the years. When he passed away I made sure my email address was included in the obituary because I wanted to hear stories from strangers about what a great person he was. And man those stories poured in! I am pretty sure if you asked them, they would tell you that it was the talks more than the haircuts (though those were great too) that kept them coming back time after time. And in today’s technologically stifling “connected” world, the ability to have a decent conversation is a dying art. Talk isn’t cheap, its priceless!
The next two weeks at Pennsic really reinforced the priceless-ness of real communication. I’ll be honest it was a little sad this year because many faces in our guild were missing due to severe illness. We felt their absence. I had hoped the somber tone would result in more evenings spent together under the communal big top tent, as we all drew strength from our community. What a strange community it is. The guild, which was formed long before I ever showed up, is a collection of vendors who wanted to work together to make their part of the marketplace beautiful and engaging. The vendors became friends, some of whom see each other regularly, and some of whom only see each other for those two weeks each year. And yet despite the gaps in time, or maybe because of the quality of the visits, strong friendships were formed and kept. I know that I personally consider the girls, daughters of original vendors, some of my closest friends on the planet, any time of year.
But I digress. I do not want to make it seem that Pennsic 42 was a depressed or deflated Pennsic. There was much laughter and many happy memories made. I can’t begin to describe it. But there were lists. Sheets and sheets of silly things said and done. Late night talks held over jars of Apple Pie, and later night adventures had with Celts, Mercenaries, Sicilian Travelers, and other strange and interesting new friends. It was a refreshing and healing sense of connection and community after the crazy chaos of the previous month on the road (see Moccasisters Unite). I wish I had pictures to show you, but someone cough*cough**Amber* kept all the good prints.
Oh here’s a good one:
By the time I got back from Pennsic my Wanderlust was really starting to kick in. Like Pennsic, I’ve realized that traveling is a bit of an escape for me. I get to see amazing new things, and have some really wonderful moments with complete strangers. Right on time, a travel angel came into my life. I think this was my first American travel angel. I met this travel angel at the Best Buy in Liverpool, NY. I had taken the van in to finally get the radio replaced, and when the technician, lets call him Jack, was finished we realized that the van only had one working speaker! At least I have one I joked. But Jack, after chatting for a bit, offered me the gift of sound. He had extra speakers that would fit, he said, would I like him to put them in? Um, YES Please!
So the next day I found my self winding down Route 48 South towards Jack’s house where I spent the afternoon in his drive way handing in ratchets and wrenches and talking about everything from Vikings, to survivalists (Jack is a Prepper, which was an extremely interesting and eye opening discovery), to woodworking and gun-smithing, to travel, and to Zen and the art of Hula Hooping. That was my favorite I think. “Do you like the ying yang?” he asked me, referring to the Taijitu symbol hanging on a cord around my neck. “Yeah sure, of course. Balance of opposing forces is always good, right?” When he pressed further I had to really try hard to verbalize the way I felt, and I came up with “I like to dance with the hula hoop so balance is a good thing.”
When I dance with the hoop it is a sharing of energy. Sometimes I stand still and the hoop swirls around me. Sometimes I move and the hoop stands still, and sometimes we move together. It is the same with energy: sometimes it moves around me, sometimes it moves through me, and sometimes it moves with me. With the hoop sometimes I explore how long I can keep the hoop moving around me before I fall or drop it. With balance I can move many different ways for a long time. But without balance I just fall over and that’s no fun. So that is why we need opposing energy and balance in our lives. Because it is more fun to dance than to fall down.
The speakers took much longer than Jack anticipated to put in, so we pushed off our hike in the woods until the next day. His woods were great; good run through the trees like Pocahontas woods. We found cool mushrooms and talked more about life, the universe, and everything.
“You really are a traveling fairy.” Jack said at one point. I had to agree with him, at this point I can really say travel has made me who I am, and I like who I am so I’m going to keep with it. Which made it so interesting the next evening when I finished a book called Time by: Eva Hoffman. One of the last paragraphs of her book really took all this meaning of life stuff that had unintentionally been percolating all summer and brought it to a frothy boil. I’ll quote her now:
“We do not all have to be poets, but if we do not want to live meaninglessly, then we need to give ourselves over sometimes to the time of inwardness and contemplation, to empathy and aesthetic wonder. We need to mull and muse, to reflect on our experience and interpret it, to perform on the level of our life narratives those acts of autopoiesis which apparently happen outside our intention or ken inside the brain’s neurological pathways. We need occasionally to go with the flow.”
In the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy , Douglas Adams says that the answer to “life, the universe, and everything” is 42. The problem is, no one thought to ask what the question was and so little was solved. But I’ve realized that for me the meaning of life IS that moment when one laughs and says “Well what is the question then?” The meaning of life is the conversation that ensues. And later, the time spent thinking about the new things learned or realized because of that conversation. And then later, the moments when you get to share those new realizations with other humans and the cycle continues. Life is a spiral. It is dancing with a hula hoop. It is shared energy and balance.
At least, that’s the best I’ve been able to come up with so far. What about you?
With love and curiosity, intensity and enthusiasm,
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!