Bigger than a raccoon.


Even some of the best people I know live by the “I just wanna do my own little thing.” Satisfied with the happy little island they created for themselves in the middle of the ocean of the surrounding disharmony, they look at life from their seat in the audience. I consider this attitude one of the main causes in the mediocrity in the state of things. Often for creative people the beauty of their inner world can become a handicap. Too caught up by their subjective experience to learn how to dance through the physical world. The result is that, limiting themselves to the cultivation of their own spiritual world, the most sensitive people leave to the most careless the management of collective reality. Daniele Bolelli, On The Warrior’s Path


The weather was not our friend this week. It was either raining or brutally hot and humid. I did go over some defensive stuff with Dru, but not nearly as much as I’d wanted to. I didn’t get to play MA with my Evil Twin at all, which was a huge disappointment. She had kubatons, and I’d really wanted to play with them.

Although my tent and tarp situation is reasonably adequate for a few normal showers, what happened this week was not normal. I had Lake Michigan inside my tent. We got six inches just on Thursday alone. I  returned from the Hunt at around 1am to find every inch of floor space underwater. I had known that was going to happen, but there was really nothing I could do as long as it just kept coming and coming. So I spent the next few hours just walking from one end of the tent to the other and poking at the ceiling to tip the water off as it collected and dripped through. Near dawn, it finally slowed, and I used my wet clothes to mop the standing water to the front end of the tent. Threw the sleeping bag down and hoped that the wet floor wouldn’t soak through too much.

Kitsune (after someone mentioned jiu-jitsu): “Yeah, I know sixty different ways to choke someone unconscious with their own clothes.”
Nataraj: “All the more reason not to wear any.”

Speaking of Nata, he had a little pink tube dress and was photographing as many different people as possible wearing it. I rarely allow photos to be taken (especially wearing something that revealing), but one could hardly refuse after he donned the thing himself.

What’s worse than having a screaming baby camped right next to you? Having TWO screaming babies camped right next to you! They woke up wailing every morning at the crack of dawn, at which point their entire camp was up and talking, so I couldn’t get back to sleep. There were also a few small-hours operettas. On Thursday their tents were gone. I know it’s selfish of me, but I was SO HAPPY. I thought I’d finally get some sleep…. but then the tent flooding.
Flat Harry was back (see photo). Fortunately, 3D Harry (who drums much more skillfully and is also better at helping put up tents) was back as well. He asked me to bring Flat Harry out as a prop one morning while he addressed the morning meeting. While he stood there talking, I propped Flat Harry up beside him and then pretended to grope him from behind all during Harry’s speech. The crowd was in stitches. I’m hoping that someone will post a photo (I saw several being taken).

Extreme Contact Improv for Martial Artists, x3…. although the third session got rained out halfway through. Although we were deliberately BEHIND the audience, we had many people come up to us both at the concerts and at other times on the road to tell us how much they enjoyed watching the ECIfMA. Including one woman who was delighted with me and my “husband”.

Tuatha Dea performed a song about “Celtic women” with the two adult sisters and their mom. With the first verse, I had goosebumps all up and down my arms. By the end, I was crying, and so was Harry. I found all three women over the course of the next two days and thanked them for sharing that song.

Drummed in 2 ritual processions, although I bailed when we reached the site for the 2nd one (Bonfire opening). Apparently that rit was “the best one EVER”, so maybe I should have stayed….

Number of times this year that I left my walkie-talkie in the portajohn: zero. I think I have conquered that particular bad habit.
Number of times I left my umbrella at Herald Camp and found myself caught in the rain elsewhere without it: 3. Needs work.

I was asked by the gal in charge of the Croning rite of passage to scramble a drum section for the rit. Unfortunately, it was on Friday, and it’s really hard to recruit anyone to do anything in the last few days. Since she’d asked me personally, I felt obligated to show up and do it myself. Selena tends to pull some distressingly arrhythmic chants out of her butt, but I have figured out that I just need to ID those right out of the gate and simply “let the voices rule.” I haven’t been drumming for these small rits for a long time, but it is a service to the community, so I decided that next year I am going to go out of my way to do more of them- even if I am doing them solo. Dru said that she might be up for doing some.

Dru to Kitsune, upon hearing that I had heard something fall in the creek in the middle of the night and suspected that it was a bear: “Maybe it was a raccoon.”
Kitsune: “It was bigger than a raccoon.”
Rhonda’s frantic disembodied voice from her tent, where we thought she had gone to sleep: “WHAT was???!!? Where???!!?”

The Hunt- Ummm. Someone asked me how it went, and I said, “I don’t really know what to say.”

 The first monkey wrench occurred about a week before the event when Dru informed me that she still had a touch of pneumonia and had to bail out of coordinating the drumming. I said fine, I’ll do it myself.

There was a young teen- he looked about 13- drumming beside me at the processions and at the morning meetings. Although I generally loathe kids, I was impressed with his drumming skill and focus. I thought, “That kid might actually be able to do the Hunt,” Lo and behold, Thursday morning he asked me if he could drum for the Hunt. Normally we don’t let under-18’s in (we have let in a few 16 and 17 YO’s in special circumstances), but I decided (after getting a green light from his dad) to let him do it. Found out at the pre-meeting that he is a wrestler- which explained both the unusual focus and the way I’d glommed onto him right off. I asked Finn and Marshall to help look out for him.

Second monkey wrench: less than an hour before the rit was supposed to begin, it was decided (by people who were not me) that the lightning made it too dangerous to put the hunters in the woods, and we were going to put them in the sweat lodge. I was horrified. Without being able to see the hunters- and with the villagers clustered under a tarp on the opposite end of the clearing- my drum group was going to feel like it was all alone in the world, drumming to itself.

Interestingly, none of the hunters bailed. I had expected at least a few to do so. They had put a lot of work into their hunt spaces (which were now not going to be utilized) and into their weapons (which would have to be left outside the lodge), and they had prepared for a completely different format. A sweat lodge is not something to take lightly.

I placed our easy-up so that it faced the sweat lodge fire- with the lodge visible at stage left and the hunt fire at stage right. (The guy erecting the shelters looked deeply into my eyes as he placed the front pole and declared passionately, “This is the LAST time I am moving this goddam easy-up…. are you SURE this is where you want it?”)

When I explained to the drummers what was happening, one of them asked a question about what the hunters were doing in the sweat lodge. Good question. I haven’t a clue. That was obviously going to be a Hunters’ Mystery. I replied as much, adding that it was “Not my circus, not my monkeys.” (That became a major catchphrase for me this year…..)

I had to shoehorn twenty drummers- and their chairs- into an easy-up and hang tarps on three sides so that the sideways rain didn’t dull the drumheads. They were inaccessible to the villagers who were supposed to be bringing them water. They were practically sitting in one another’s laps. Of course this left no room for me. I stood toe to toe with the front row, holding my drumhead just under the edge of the shelter. I had the synthetic, but I had never played it in extensive rain, and wasn’t sure how it (and my hands) might perform (or not) in the middle of a thunderstorm. The freezing water running off the edge of the tarp and right down my back was the least of my problems.

I realized quickly that the right-hand tarp was going to prevent most of my drummers from seeing the kills. I was able to solve this by asking Finn and Marshall to roll that side up as soon as the hunters started coming out. It would be distracting- and we would be getting a little wet at that point- but the drummers needed to see the kills.   

All the coordinators met in the center and stood there in a huddle with our wet hair dripping in our eyes, discussing the changes. I realize that the sweatlodge leader cancelled her own event and offered up her lodge, time and effort to help us out- but man, she was ****NOT**** displaying good team player skills. As soon as the lodge became involved, it turned into her show instead of ours- and she didn’t know what we were doing. I started to ask about cues, and she informed me that her second, Colleen, would be giving me cues. I attempted to relate what cues I needed and when, and she cut me off rudely… at which point I tried to address Colleen directly, and got cut off a THIRD time with a snapped, “You’ll get your cues, don’t worry about it.” End of discussion. I realized then that I was not going to get my cues, and that I was not going to have any idea WTF was going on. Which is exactly what happened.

Usually before the ritual the drummers circle up and paint one another, and I make an inspiring speech. This time, I said, “Sorry, people. We’re packed into an easy-up like sardines and it’s pouring. We’re just going to stay where we’re at.” Dru asked if we could at least do an “ohm” to sync up, and I said yes. Bo headed up the hill to get the hunters. I got exactly half a sentence into my soul-stirring speech, and the horn sounded. Fuck. He must have had the hunters right outside the clearing already, and just hoofed them in with no speech and no rigmarole. I had to abandon my own rigmarole plans (and the ohm- sorry Dru) and get the heartbeat started immediately.

(At least the hunters were not processing solemnly down the hill to an accompaniment of “It’s Raining Men”. The concert stage and its amplified music is distressingly close to the area where the hunters are supposed to be sitting in meditation and then processing. There was a drag show scheduled this year (thus the “Raining Men”). I can’t remember what was playing last year while we were trying to meditate and process, but I remember being really annoyed with how upbeatedly distracting it was.)

So we worked the heartbeat, while the amplifiers from the concert blasted “Go Ask Alice” arrhythmically throughout. (Dru did an absolutely hilarious replay of this at the post mortem meeting…. almost wet my pants) the hunters all disappear into the lodge. We keep doing the heartbeat for a really long time, since I had no cues to tell me otherwise. I glared pointedly at Derek- I felt bad putting that on him, but at least he was getting to move around the site and hopefully had a marginally better idea of what was happening than I did. I couldn’t see, hear or sense a damn thing.  Finally Derek cues me to stop the heartbeat and start the thunder drumming.

Still no Colleen- I never laid eyes on that chick for the rest of the night. Derek finally gave me a rampup cue.

Suddenly- it seemed like we’d only been drumming for about 10 min, although I found out later that it was about an hour and a half- one of the drummers in the 2nd row caught my glance and cut her eyes several times exaggeratedly to stage right. I turned my head, and there was a hunter at the fire.   WTF????!!!!?????? It was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too soon, and we’d only done one ramp-up, and… cues? CUES, PLEASE, ANYBODY???!!!???

Since no one was there for me to glare at but Marshall, I glared at him. Eyes popping, he and Finn scurried to roll up the side of the tarp. The water that had collected on it went cascading right into the ass pocket of the unfortunate drummer on the right front corner.

(Later at the post mortem, Marshall said that he had never been stalked or felt threatened in the hunt before this one- and it wasn’t even a hunter, it had been me. I hadn’t meant it is a recriminating glare, just a “Pleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze tell me what the hell is going on” glare.)

I quickly realized that the poor lighting made it very difficult to see what was going on at the fire- which was problematic since I was supposed to give the drum section a “Fuckabazoo” cue when the hunter made hir first strike and a “go back to thunder drumming” cue when the kill was done. That first one, it appeared that he just went over to the prey, stood there and stared at it for a time, and then when down on his knees and collapsed on top of it. I later found out that that guy had fasted and deprived himself of water. Sweat-lodging dehydrated? Not recommended.

Another thing I realized, but this was a good one: I had positioned us so that as the hunters came out of the sweat lodge, the muffled drumming that they had been hearing abruptly turned into a wall of sound that smacked them in the face as they emerged. Furthermore, rolling up that right-hand tarp was allowing the drumming to extend out toward the fire and kill area. I think that having them crammed together like they were- uncomfortable as it was- helped the syncronicity. I had Dru in the rear center, and placed Michael on the right rear corner and my Evil Twin on the front left corner so that I had a strong grid of powerful, experienced drummers supporting the newbies in the middle.

One of the hunters tried to charge straight into the lake, and Derek had to chase him down….

Had a drummer wet hir pants…. kept right on drumming….. I’ve had several drummers puke after the hunt, but this is the first loss of bladder control I’m aware of.

Finally Bo comes over and says, “All the hunters are out… do you want to keep the drummers going for a while, just for their own sake?” It was nice of him to ask, but no. The climax of the entire thing is the kills. I felt unfulfilled (and other drummers did as well, and I think some villagers too), but continuing to drum after that would have felt like masturbating for two hours and then not being able to finish. (Sorry for the crude, but I don’t know how else to explain this….)

Here was my Big Fail of the night: I allowed myself to get so distracted and stressed out by the weirdness of this “Gopher Hunt” that I completely forgot to check up on my teenager afterward. Thank goodness Dru talked to him a little- she said that he seemed kind of zoned, and when she questioned him, he told her that he had seen visions. She asked him what he’d seen, and he replied, “I saw all my fears.” I had mentioned in the pre-meeting that the drummers sometimes hallucinate (Caitlin reported two years ago that she had seen it “raining snakes” in the hunt space). So at least he had some warning. Thank Goodness also for Marshall- who, unlike me, DID remember this particular responsibility and walked the kid back to his campsite. Dru and I, though, were both kicking ourselves for not making him goto the counseling center. It had been my decision to let him in, and I should have personally made sure he was okay and not messed up in the head. (That *was* my circus and my monkey, and I failed in that respect.)

I was relieved that my bad shoulder- which was STILL giving me problems- did not rebel during the hunt. I had been really worried that it would be in agony- either during, or after, or both. I had resolved to treat myself to a massage if I messed up my shoulder in the hunt. But it performed fine, and I was not in excessive pain the next day.

Bo suggests that instead of adding “in bed” to our fortune cookie fortunes, we should now add “in a sweat lodge”.

There was a lot of poor nutrition this week. I hate flying, and always console myself on my single yearly flight with a candy binge (Mostly Runts, double dipped (peanut butter and chocolate) peanuts, and Mint Whoppers, this time). Dru had peanut butter stuffed pretzels- which sounds disgusting, and I should have just left it at that- but like an idiot, I tried them, and they were delicious. I hadn’t wanted to deal with cooking this year, so I had decided to get one or two meals per day at the vendors’ booths- which I usually eschew as much too expensive and also excessive in portion size.

Most of what I ate at Phil’s Grill wasn’t terrible nutrition-wise… chicken and pork wraps with onions, mushrooms, and a little cheese and rice… would have probably made my nutritionist/Evil Twin roll her eyes, but not cringe. The problem was, each wrap was twice the amount of food I normally consume in a sitting. With no refrigeration and no microwave, I just had to snort it or waste it (and I hate waste). I now have some extra weight to work on taking off.