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Friday, November 26, 2010

Wrangler Uncle

For Thanksgiving, I'm in Springfield, IL where almost all of my immediate family is converging today. My nephews are four and two and I've had the opportunity/duty to do some work as an adult around two small children.

While this involved the sometimes frustrating duty of being disciplinarian, it also involved having to distract and entertain. Furthermore, it means that as long as I am here, I get to hear or hear about the awesome things that come out of the mouths of youngsters, like:

• "I'll never be a black man!" (they're light skinned, mixed ethnicity kids)
• "Yeah, I've got skills, huh?" (after climbing over a child gate)
• "RARRRR! I WANT A HUG!" (the younger one pretending to be monster and menacing the older one)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Long Goodbye


I was around people for eleven months and I was a little slow to open up and be more free about being myself. I was so unsure of what to expect and of what was expected of me by others. Eventually I opened up and even smoothed out a couple of misunderstandings. In the course of those months, I became understood and gained understanding. I relearned the virtue of being yourself and continued my ongoing refining of being able to do so without terribly violating their being of self.

People were genuinely sad as I was leaving. The weight started a month ago as the word seemed to finally start spreading. Then the last week came. Then the last day. People had been saying goodbye to me all day. Then when I was doing some cleaning and we were doing what little load-out work we have, there were more goodbyes.

The morning of: more goodbyes. Minami, one of the people from lighting, kept smiling even though she was sad, as had been proven to be true-to-form for her. Musashi held on to both of my hands as he did his best to give parting wishes in English (he only speaks a little) and the rims of his eyes grew red. A group of the ladies surrounded me and gave me well-wishes for my mom. Then they asked me if I was going to come back. The hardest one was Yuki, the guy who had just been catching in the show for the last two weeks. Yuki loves to dance and tries to learn all he can. He is strongly disposed toward hip-hop and house. These last few months he and I would meet in the vomitory before my second gag each show and we would dance a little routine he choreographed. I would also teach him some other basic building block moves that he could incorporate into other moves or use to enhance some ones he already had: just to tweak a little.

Taka, the guy with whom I built a bridge and sorted out a misunderstanding, said one last goodbye of many. There was also the bonus of learning what it means when you cross your fingers in Japan. In the USA we cross our fingers for luck. In Japan, it's apparently a warding gesture. Technically, I think it's likely that is the origin of it here, but the connotation is different.

Yuki cried when he heard I was going to leave. He cried again as my taxi was approaching. I gave him a CD of some hip-hop and techno tracks that are the perfect BPM (beats per minute) range for what he likes to do.

Lunch break was over, but a bunch of the staff dropped work for a bit just to give me a final farewell. It was a lot of love and appreciation and it kept me from being completely dejected. It's nice to have people want you to come back before you leave.

On the way to the train station, the taxi driver recognized me as one of the clowns. He was delighted and I happily stood for a picture before leaving the cab.

I'm going back to Japan again some day.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Working In

Jessi Wonderfool has now done everything in the show. As usual, she's doing it awesomely. She's getting used to show order and such, but she's rocking it as only she can. As far as learning the gags, that's been a breeze. There's nothing complicated at all; the hardest part is just getting around the timing of working around the rigging changes and traffic patterns.

It's great seeing people work on something and then work into the show. One girl here had been working on foot juggling for months and months – probably years – and now has had the number in the show for a few months now. Yuki, the guy I dance with, has been learning to catch on trapeze and now he's been working in the act for a couple of weeks now.

It's really good to see work pay off.

On a T-shirt

The last installment of this voyage:

• Become like angel
• Country nostalgic
• Phillips cowboy
• Mickey Mouse. He greeted me with a smile. He is always friendly and gentle to everyone he meets.
• I [heart] rule
• My proud car
• Dig deep into the music

Ending Weirdness

One of my best friends and favorite clowning partners is here in Japan. She's taking the spot that I am leaving. It's absolutely great to have her here, but it stinks that our time around each other is so short.

Things feel weird: some individuals are acting strangely manic (yet not atypically so), people are disappointed that I'm leaving, and I'm bumming. My feelings are mixed, actually. I'm glad to be getting closer geographically to my family, but leaving this place is a bummer. It's a bit worse because I feel like I'm leaving Jessi behind. In a sense I am, but I'm also moving forward and in a matter of months, I expect to have enough new material to make me feel productive.

Change is necessary for growth, and man, have I been growing! Onward and upward!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Departing Thoughts

I have one week left here in Japan, one week left on my contract. With another change in life pending, I am of course pensive and a bit down. Life not generally being lack and white, I'm also happy to be leaving.

Kinoshita Circus is a good place. I like the company, I like the people, I like being in Japan. I have learned quite a bit here and I have grown in mind and body. One of the most important things I learned was about observation. Only through living each day in a state of actively noticing things was I able to actually experience the advantages of letting observation be a teacher, where before I knew it cognitively and and had forgotten the previous instances of putting it in action.

The most important things I've learned here the last eleven months have been through observation. The majority were in regard to performing and some were about conduct as a person. I will not express some of those things here, but I am leaving with a renewed interest in ongoing evolution. With stagnation, there is death whether it be figurative or otherwise. Because of coming here and being open, I now believe I ave come closer to becoming the person I wish to be.

This departure is a very good thing for me. I will be closer to my family and be able to respond more immediately to any need for help. My parents are getting older and my mom's health is steadily deteriorating. My younger sister has her own family and problems she's sorting out. Living in the Twin Cities again will make me the closest responder with the least amount of daily life business that will stand in the way of family need.

Joining that is the fact that I will be in a place extremely conducive to the nurturing of my evolution as a performer. I left the Winnie The Pooh show two and a half years ago because nothing was going to change for me significantly enough. I began feeling like I was in a space that had grown too small. I had ideas brewing in my head that I couldn't execute or develop there. That feeling of being in a chrysalis has not changed since then. Lest I would have become stagnant and blinded by the great paycheck, solid gig, and awesomeness of living in Japan, the trials of this past spring helped me remain focused on the things that count. I never planned to spend the rest of my life here and if I can't get done here what I would like to get done, there's always some place else.

Somewhere down the road there is always another gig. There is always some place else to go. Life moves forward and I hope that I will never be too afraid to move with it and surf its waves.