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Just before I left my new home in Austin to return to NYC for two weeks, I received a Facebook invite from a friend there, Stav Equality Meishar. Since I get around ten invitations a day on facebook, much of it not even remotely near where I live, or could feasibly attend, this was no big thing. In fact, I most likely wouldn’t have even noticed it if it hadn’t included a personal message that this event had made her think of me, specifically. Intrigued, I opened the event page at exactly 12:01pm on April 7th, 2013 to find that it was in fact a notice to audition for what looked like a Cirque troupe here in Austin. An audition that in fact had started just one minute before I opened the invite on that very day.

Image Credit: ashleeholmes.buzznet.com

Image Credit: ashleeholmes.buzznet.com

“Too bad I missed it, looks kind of cool,” was my first thought. Then, “well, I don’t have plans today…but I also don’t have a way to get there, or anything prepared.” Again, “well it looked interesting, maybe in the future.” Then, I told a friend of a friend who was staying in our apartment about it as I fixed my coffee. And suddenly I had the offer of a ride, just like that.  Wait, what?  “No, I’m not going, it already started.  I don’t have anything prepared.”

And that’s when I realized that I was saying “no.” I didn’t need a perfected audition piece, I had dozens of sequences on my trapeze, stage presence, a love of improvising dances on my apparatus, and I could RSVP to the audition and see if they still had any spots open for me to come in. To which I received an almost immediate “yes” back. And suddenly I was committed. I was auditioning for a troupe. Which was fine, I could always try it and see if it was for me, I could always say “no” later, in other words.

Somewhere around the part where we improvised physical theater with each other, I had decided these might be my kind of people. Yes, I was that stubborn about it. It wasn’t until the day that the cast was to be announced and I was anxiously checking my email that I really owned that I wanted to be a part of this group. And it wasn’t until two weeks later, back in Austin and attending rehearsals, timidly trying to learn the awesome dance skills other people were bringing to the table that I started to understand my own resistance and why this opportunity was so special.

The Great Circus of Cats

See, I hadn’t truly been a part of a group, a whole heart committed, 3-4+ days a week of rehearsals kind of group in five years. I’d dipped my toe into being a part of a circus group in NYC just before I left, but I’d never been able to participate much more than showing up for performances with my own act. I was overbooked, and that felt like all they needed from me anyways. That left my own theater group, which I’d disbanded exhausted, wanting more experience and more time to create my own work, five years prior. On my way to NYC, I learned that I was a core member of the troupe Crash Alchemy back in Austin TX and that we’d be putting on a show in just 5 weeks, on May 18th.

Okay, I didn’t really know what that meant, but I knew I would be dancing and acting and creating and trapezing. I wanted to be a part of building this group, of creating something together. I’d fallen into a family of people who somehow magically wanted to make the kind of things that I wanted to make. And it had all almost happened by accident.  Or maybe by sheer force of the Universe reminding me to say “yes” and stop being so stubborn all the time. It was okay to commit to this. I was more creative, making more art in my life, not less. And the people in the group were there for each other, talented and into the vision of working in multiple disciplines. I think somehow I’d believed that I couldn’t find another group I’d love as much as my hand selected theater group years before. And I’d believed that committing to a group again would stunt my own work again. At the same time, I kept craving and wondering why I couldn’t find community in NYC.  Well, no wonder when I’m this gun shy about commitment, huh.  Head. Trapeze Bar.

May 18th has come and gone with spectacle and love and just more and more amazing talent, community and group love and support.   I am learning what it means to be a part of the right creative family for me, ups and downs, exhaustion and success.  And I wholeheartedly love it and am honored to be a part of it.

Image Credit: Ed Lehmann

Image Credit: Ed Lehmann

 

The goodbye note read thus,
“Everything I touch turns to ash.
The taste of me grows rancid in your mouth.
And mine.”

The darkness returned to reign.
Old fantasies of razors slicing into thin, delicate, spiderweb veins,
blurred with reality.

Others’ hatred mirrored my own, more profound dis-ease.
One man’s cruel words and one man’s unconditional love danced a waltz around my melting mind and will.

Perhaps the rancid me I taste, is not me.
Identities and hiding places are painfully shed.
They do not go easily into that goodnight.
I do not go easily into that bright light.

It burns, scars, pushes back, spits on me.
Life asks, “is this what you really want?”

Sometimes I say yes, sometimes scream no.
But stumble forward.
Feinting with my useless words, my actions answer for me.

“Yes.”

And every once in awhile, I remember that my vulnerability is my strength.

Well, there’s no getting around it, I’m behind on posting. The only excuse I can offer is that saying “yes” makes you pretty darn busy. Plus it’s South by South West here in Austin. If you don’t know what that is, let’s put it this way, when the live music capital of the world decides to throw a music festival, people show up. Innovators, film makers, corporations, and musicians known and unknown, but pretty universally bad ass, fill the streets downtown with music.

For my part, I’ve decided to say “yes” to whoring myself out for corporate promotion. Despite the very nice paychecks involved in promotional work this month, I should confess my disappointment at taking this work.  I need the money after a move across the country, very much so.  But I was convinced that I’d land a performance gig for SXSW.  Since I didn’t, despite some valiant guerilla approaches to event spaces and a couple of musicians themselves, I took my actual income producing opportunities with a sigh and an open-minded “yes.”

And, in just a few short weeks, I’ll have modeled for Treaty Oak Photography (and a Burning Man costume maker), represented the city of Austin, the movie Spring Breakers, Ray Ban, and Reese’s at the MTV Woodie Awards. And I’ll walk away with $1000+, a motorcycle license, more reusable bags than I’ll ever need, a bellyache from too much chocolate, more new portfolio photos, having seen Tegan and Sara live, and hopefully this sweet pair of Ray Ban Wayfarers.  Oh, and I guess I’m in a commercial this Sunday at 8pm during the MTV Woodie Awards.

Spring Breakers Promo

Spring Breakers Austin Premier

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Spring Breakers Austin Premier, South by South West in Pussy Riot-esque Unicorn Ski Mask

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Ray Ban’s Envision Campaign, South by South West, with Square205

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Ray-Ban’s Envision Campaign

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http://www.SockItToMe.com, Best Socks Ever!

www.thebos.co, Reese's and MTV Woodie Awards, loved Tegan and Sara!

http://www.thebos.co, Reese’s and MTV Woodie Awards, loved Tegan and Sara!

More importantly, brand ambassadorship and promotional modeling are becoming the perfect freelance work for a busy performer and writer, with very few bars or nightclubs involved!  It’s mostly laid back and fun (with a noticeable correlation between high pay/respect/fun and low pay/disrespect/shit gig), and it turns out: a pretty sweet way to learn about marketing myself as well.

Catch me on the streets of Austin today and tomorrow (in costume), representing the Fire Trapeze and yours truly!  Follow me on Twitter and tweet @Erinina or #FireTrapeze today or tomorrow and I’ll be giving one lucky tweeter a copy of my Fire and Circus arts and writings book for free!  Afterall, if I’m not willing to give as much energy to self promotion as I do for a 1-3 day gig for some already rich corporation, then who should?

So what else have I been saying “yes” to? Well, it seems only appropriate during the live music festival of the year, to mention that I’m saying “yes” to music in my life.  I started a morning singing ritual back in the Happiness Project, making up silly songs for Evie, mostly. And that habit seems to have blossomed into full on singing at any and all times of the day. So, probably that means I’m saying “yes” to looking like an idiot most of the time too. C’est la vie. <=^.^=>

I’m also learning to play the violin/fiddle, thanks to a handsome music man here in Austin.  The violin (which I’ve always loved) and a handsome musician is pretty good motivation to do well in my world.  ;)  So far I can play an A scale and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.  Look out Julliard, here I come.  Soon I’ll also have my clarinet back from storage, and I’d better start practicing because friends are asking me to play.  We’ll see how fast I can overcome 15 years off of regular practice.

I guess the point is, that I didn’t realize how much New York had dampened my love for music until I arrived here. You couldn’t beg me to go to see live music in NYC. Seriously, I’m pretty sure my girl Liz literally begged me on a number of occasions. The prospect filled me with shuddering visions of dark, cramped loft spaces with too many drunk kids with attitudes puking in the bathroom and spilling their beer on you while they attempted to grind on your ass if you dared to actually dance.  Jump to Texas, where they actually ask you to dance (and it’s the two-step, or even better, the two-step with a dubstep/hip hop beat), and everyone dances and laughs and it’s beautiful outside.  This part I like about Texas.  It’s hard not to imagine music coming back into my life here.

Classical Music Mugs at www.cafepress.com

Classical Music Mugs at http://www.cafepress.com

arrogance

So, now that I’m not in crazy New York mode, it may be time to reevaluate how I approach situations and people. It just may be that the “I deserve to be paid more, revered, and sought after for my awesomeness,” no matter how true, isn’t the way to make friends and influence people.

Austin has been teaching me that getting a job isn’t that easy.  That getting paid gigs isn’t that easy.  That being the newbie is fun and everyone is welcoming, but friends don’t pay the rent.  Starting over is harder than I thought and the life lessons that I may have been avoiding learning in the NYC rat race aren’t always the most fun things to deal with.  Seeing ourselves and our imperfections in the mirror never is, I suppose.

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What I do know is that since opening up to the concept of humility, letting people in who I might have judged unworthy of my “precious time” before (which in NYC was pretty much everyone because there is no time), I’ve found that very often, my judgements are incorrect.  People surprise me.  Often even surpass the impossibly high expectations I seem to set for myself and everyone around me.

And something I didn’t expect has begun to happen.  When I assume that everyone else has something to teach me, they generally do.  They also open up more.  And when I see their strengths and their weaknesses, I have more compassion for their weaknesses.  Which allows me to have more compassion for my own struggles and weaknesses.

All from a little humility…huh, I’ll keep working on it.

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Challenge Check Back

I know you’re all clamoring to know how my challenge from last week went. So, here’s the quick recap. How are your challenges and resolutions going? Tell me in the comments!!

Bad Habit 1: Snapping at my boyfriend.

Not surprisingly, a few days of complementing and appreciating the man not only resulted in me actually appreciating him and feeling less irritated, but also seems to have resulted in an increase in sweetness back from him. I love when he cooks for me!! ;)

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Bad Habit 2: Drinking (wine or otherwise) to relax at night.

When I can remember, deep stretching really is far more relaxing and likely to help me fall asleep happy. Especially since tequila and gin are really a bit more stimulating than relaxing in the first place. I still love wine, but not for every night. Luckily, a band of fellow trapeze teachers have adopted me into their all day working out clan, so I’m pretty guaranteed to have at least three nights a week enforcing my new habit.  Who says life doesn’t give you what you ask for?

Bad Habit 3: Not answering the phone.

Okay, so luckily, I can ease into this one because I’ve been so bad at answering the phone for so long that not that many people call me. They know text is best. Still, I did get to hear the news that my girl from high school is pregnant in her own voice, instead of on Facebook. Pretty awesome! But I cheated on this one too. I still say “no” to talking to bill collectors. I’ll call them back once I have a job and a plan.

Bad Habit 4: Judging people on first impressions.

Alright, I’m working on this one. I really didn’t realize how competitive and manipulative NYC was until dealing with people here. Those are traits I associate with Hollywoodian LA’ers. New Yorkers are more real, right? But, the thing that’s refreshing and confusing about TX so far is that people may generally like me without ulterior motives and that I am more of a pretentious networker than I ever imagined. Go figure.

Bad Habit 5: Don’t spend money on/acquire excess junk.

Since I’m officially dead broke and waiting for an only potential job to start in two weeks, this has been pretty easy. Can’t spend money that you don’t have unless you have a credit card, which I do not. But, I also have not had a chance to get to my storage unit and throw things out yet either. Soon…

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So, there’s the check in. Overall, a quite successful challenge!

This week I’m saying “yes” to shameless self promotion in the hopes of landing some great trapeze gigs (and money) asap.

Saying Yes to a Challenge!

So, thanks to 29toLife, for offering this challenge on their blog, which according to the year of “yes,” I now must accept.  The challenge: Replace 5 bad habits with 5 good habits for one week and report back the results.  Okay, doesn’t sound so hard right?

Yeah, well…if it were easy, I probably wouldn’t have these bad habits in the first place right?  Okay, so let’s see.  It’s Monday…beginning of the week…so what should we work on this week?

Bad Habit 1: Snapping at my boyfriend, Replacement Habit: Complimenting him

Bad Habit 2: Drinking wine to relax at night, Replacement Habit: Deep, contortion stretching

Bad Habit 3: Not answering the phone, Replacement Habit: Answering the phone

Bad Habit 4: Judging people on first impressions, Replacement Habit: Say hello to people, smile

Bad Habit 5: Spending on, or acquiring stuff I don’t need, Replacement Habit: Donate, throw away or trade something everyday, remove one bag of stuff from storage unit

This is, of course, in addition to my new ‘schedule’ of working (writing/looking for jobs) every weekday morning/afternoon and training my body daily.  Otherwise known as spending a FT schedule on my art and seeing what happens, since I don’t have a job yet anyways. ;)

Alright. See you this weekend guys!