We all have them don't we?

One, when I'm feeling particularly happy or particularly stressed out is to warm olive oil and chop onions and garlic and saute. There is this certain wonderful moment when the scent of the oil and aromatics lifts up and into your nose. I nearly always chop by hand (not with a press) and I nearly always use a wooden spoon.

When I'm getting ready for a show, there are several things I like to do to get into the right headspace. The process starts about two hours prior to the gig, normally. There's costume adjustment, a bath, hair stuff and then I paint my nails. Nails seem like a minor detail, but for me they finish the character.

For Dusk (improvised Twilight), I chose a silver gray metallic nail polish. I wanted to look a bit alien, a bit dark. I wore closed toed shoes during that show so no pedicure action.

For One More Night (improvised Tales of Scheherezade), I was barefoot, and I found this sort of royal grape/amethyst color for my toes and a iridescent pearl for my fingers. I wanted it to feel like I had gems all over me.

For Apocalypse, there is a lot of dirt and sometimes tribal looking make up. I used the same silver gray nail polish but I made it matte and smudged and added Texas dirt in the beds a bit. Boots. No pedicure.

I need a physical warm up, which also serves to center me. Mostly there is an iPod (music, like nails, dependent on the show), me stretching and dancing and just hanging out on the stage, kind of (in my mind at least) a "Hey, how are you stage, remember me" kind of thing. I like to do group warm ups and group stretching too, but sometimes the cast isn't into that.

I tend to like a big energetic beginning to the warm up and then move into a more centered quiet listening game, like "Counting." That's one of my favorite to do near curtain. You huddle together look down, breathe and each person begins to count, one at a time until you reach a number that two people accidentally say together. The purpose is to get into a group mind kind of place. Listen to each other's breathing and bodies, know when someone is going to speak. Be able to quietly telegraph when you are gonna speak. Sometimes I've been in groups that have gotten to 30. Those were actually some of the best most enjoyable shows (for me).

Right before curtain, there is usually alot of eye contact or pats on the back, a symbol of connection. That's a good thing, in my book.

I also like to thank the stage (though how is private). It feels like a very special gift to get to play on the flat black stage and entertain people. Offer them something. So I like to give thanks.

If all that seems religious, well....I guess it kind of is for me. I've been performing in some fashion since I was about 7. I've developed these little rituals over time. It's a spiritual path of sorts, or a quest to embody someone else or to let someone else embody me. To play. To tell stories. Stories, music, dance. Ancient communion, community.

I have no rituals yet for triathlons. Tomorrow is my first. We'll see what instinctive things come forth. I think at the very least, thanking the lake I'm going to swim in and the road I'm going to bike and run on seems wise.


  1. Good luck on the Triathlon.

    My five rules for tri's, in order of priority:
    1) Don't die,
    2) Don't soil yourself,
    3) Finish,
    4) Finish with a good personal time,
    5) Actually be competitive.

    I've always made the first two.....

  2. I didn't die.
    I did finish.
    I felt competitive at times but let it go.
    I have no idea what a good personal time would be at this point, but I now have a benchmark.
    I thought peeing on yourself was supposed to be part of the fun....


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