Friday, September 13, 2013

In search of an Abundant Font of Tupperware, or Suspended in Switzerland

There are so very many strange things that tour does to one's life.  I could start to list them here, but I'm already depressed by that list.  So let me begin rather with a cataloguing of the craziness that's been happening recently, on this very specific tour.  I am living in a small hotel room, underneath the Zurich airport.  This, in itself, is not so crazy unless you're me, and you got to be at home for a full 5 months this summer, blissfully at ease in your Brooklyn apartment with your husband and dog and friends and the like.  This is the longest I've been home in 13 years.  I counted.  This might explain why I am feeling more than usually wistful being so unceremoniously displaced.  One day, at the beginning of this week, I found myself here, equipped with a kitchenette, a small shower in the water closet, a double bed with pillows like crumpled up leather jackets, and a desk.  I brought the other requisites of a computer, portable speaker, and way more clothes than I need.

I find myself at the beginning of these experiences strangely without.  My short spare time is directed by what I do not have, rather than where I am, per se.  Besides the obvious, I am without scotch tape, without tupperware, without salt and pepper, without a clock, without sleep.  And it doesn't matter so much, actually.  There are so many other things to do, like build a show; write, translate and memorize text in German, meet new people, learn new songs, create a character, find a new way of moving, talking, and dancing.  Because almost everything that I do have with me, which is also a lot, is new.  This could explain why I usually overpack with hol(e)y, old clothes.

So, I try not to dwell in what I do not have.  It's tedious.  The list is so long.  But also because I have trained myself to know deeply that I do not lack for anything.  I have spent the summer swimming in the deep and supportive waters of my abundance.  Whatever I need, I have been learning, I need only to give and I will find it pouring out from the generous font of the universe.  And yet, what do I do now, give the scotch tape I don't have?  To whom?  Why and how?  I am certain of the abundance of tupperware in the universe, but I have not found the local font.    I find creative ways to save the leftovers of the surprisingly good dish prepared without salt and pepper, on what could be called negative counter space.   I prop up the pictures of my husband and dog and friends and the like on the edges of books or use toothpaste to stick them to the tiles.  They fall down in the night.  I hear them, because I am not asleep.  It's tempting to get up to replace them.  Standards.  We must have standards, even on the road.

Yesterday, I waited in our cold, beautiful circus tent for 6 hours until my time would be used to effect.  Today, they yelled at us for being 10 minutes late back from a lunch break I worked through anyway.  I'm not writing this post to complain.  It's just time I'm thinking about, and it's value.  Time, too, needs to be given away to be given back.   But in this moment, it is out of balance.  It will come back.

There is no director on this show, but there is a documentary team.  There is a producer, the handsome son of the richest man in Switzerland, and a choreographer, a Camden man who speaks in Spanish to the dancers and in condescension to some of the artists.  The more sensitive among them, takes offense.  They tell each other to shut up and the tension flares.  The documentary team blithely, curiously, films the dancers.  The highly skilled, beautiful, young, German acrobat being given the diva treatment is a friend of mine.  "Please don't go. Please don't go,"  I whisper to myself and try to communicate to his hardening eyes.  I don't want him to feel small, but selfishly, I don't want to do the show without him.  He is a friend from from at least 5 years ago.  And that makes him a treasure, out here, under the airport where everything and everyone else is new.   He comes back to the fold after several trips out of the tent with various powers that be.  He is breathing deeply, finally respected.  The choreographer is making pains to act extra jovial for the camera.  I keep wishing I'd at least put on lipstick, and just as quickly, I give it up.

Our circus tent is also under an airport.  The Air Force Dübendorf lets this kinky circus use a patch of their military base to set up shop for a couple of months.  Out the back of the tent, where the muscled and agile float above their various props, came rolling by a silver WWII transport plane.  The hawks above the field flew nowhere.  Just riding the thermals, wings spread, dead still in the air.

The character I'm playing is the Chief of Police.  A hard woman, engaged in the show to scrutinize the goings on and maintain a level of conformity, morality, and punish those who diverge.  My costumes were handmade by a Moldovian woman with whom I speak French.  Her costumes for me are titless corsets, fringed trains, and jeweled collars.  Besides not having the expected ample tits to put in the corsets, the costumes were not quite right.  She gave them away to some other unsuspecting dancer.  I will forage under the other airport tomorrow, the proverbial forest floor, for something more apropos.

By the way, the town I try to sleep in is called Kloten.  When I was 17, I took a senior year abroad in the Netherlands, and now, almost uselessly, I speak Dutch.  I say almost uselessly because at least I understood immediately that this Swiss suburb, if it was settled by the Dutch, was named very appropriately, Ballsack.

The beginning of tour is the hard part.  Please forgive my lack mentality.  I am lucky to be alive, an artist, and working.  It's just that every part of that sentence is also, just a little humiliating, on the road.


  1. Lovely story. To know that you have all you need and want is to miss it from time to time. Thanks for sharing, this was a great post.

    1. Thanks Rob. It can be weird posting such personal details. Especially such (uncharacteristically) sentimental ones. It's nice to have any feedback at all, but positive feels really good. Thanks for reading and thanks for writing. Wish I could be at your upcoming reading!