vinceconaway: (Default)
I am an INFJ on the Myers-Briggs scale, although the I and the P are both very much on the cusps between Introversion and Extraversion and between Perception and Judging. The middle two, however, are very much a part of my personality, so much so that they've become part of my identity.*

I am intuitive (the N in INFJ) to an extreme degree, which I find liberating as well as deeply frustrating. It's liberating because I react well in the moment, dancing an improvisation around my obstacles. I'm terrible at long-range planning, however, because I can't set into motion a set of plans that will inexorably lead to fruition. My best bet is to create a favourable environment and then seize opportunities as they arise.**

You are now equipped to destroy me at chess.

Because I am so intuitive, I have a hard time with the concept of rationality. I'm really good at rationalization, and I have a difficult time distinguishing between the two. I want some things, I wait, I see a means that does not violate my values, I act, and now I have a thing. I've become so practiced at this that I forget it's not how other people see the world, and that it has only been a part of my own worldview for fifteen years.

*I'm aware of how pseudoscientific such personality tests are, but like Astrology (Pisces, the flighty visionary) I believe they can be a useful launch point for introspection. As I mentioned with the Myers-Briggs, being told often enough that your sun sign indicates a certain personality trait can certainly accentuate it. Just as my friend says that her child is "acting" shy rather than "is" shy in order not to reinforce the trait, I'm fairly certain that Astrology has some merit because of the psychology involved in a culture where it is emphasized.

**I was once accused of Machiavelianism by a lover, when my entire strategy was to play "yes, and" improv games with the schemes that she, herself, was hatching. It's my life writ small, where I keep broad goals in mind and then evaluate whether courses of action will bring me closer or not. I'm an opportunist, lying in wait (Aaron Burr is my favourite role in Hamilton) and then charging ahead once I spot an opening. It's for this reason that I feel very close to the Roman goddess Fortuna, patron of luck and fate. I get a lot of credit for the work that I've put into my career and lifestyle, but without the occasion to use that preparation I'd be nowhere.
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I'm a big believer in the power of luck. I've made many decisions over the years, creative and professional, but the biggest have often been leaps of opportunity. Last night I made another one.

I'm on a mailing list for bargain airfare, Scott's Cheap Flights, and when a winter/spring Europe sale was announced I jumped. I immediately scrapped my tentatively planned February southwestern US tour and brainstormed a southeastern Italy tour in its place. The cheapest airfare on the list was in Philadelphia, so I manically messaged a few friends inquiring about parking for the month and once I had a few viable options I booked the flight.

The whole process took almost exactly one hour, including the walk I took to clear my head.

This is me in a nutshell, making snap decisions to take advantage of opportunities. Also me, of course, will be seven months of second guessing until I'm in the seat of that plane, but I'm decisive in the moment. And this trip wasn't entirely out of the blue, it solves the conundrum I've been considering of how to return to the hottest part of Italy during the summers I have earmarked for European travel. Preparation meets opportunity and bam!

I'm not standing still I am lying in wait.


Jun. 1st, 2017 01:28 pm
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1997 was twenty years ago. It's a little hard to believe.

In June of that year I had what I still regard as one of the worst days of my life. It had been a joke that I and the woman I was dating were both spending a day with our respective exes, showing both that we were able to stay friends without hard feelings and that we trusted each other.

My visit went poorly. There were more hard feelings than I suspected, and I was hit really hard by the situation. Since her visit was also over, I decided to seek support from my lover, only to be told upon arriving that she had gotten back together with her ex.

That was a bad day.

It also involved a lot of driving. Ninety minutes to my first visit, ninety minutes home, and two hours to my second visit which wrapped up around midnight. Half delirious with grief and fatigue, it occurred to me that no one would ever know if a fatal car accident had been intentional.

I chose not to try. And now I've lived half my life since that decision.

In moments of stress, facing hard challenges and difficult decisions, I still think back to that night. Part of me wonders if I did actually go through with it and if everything since has been a glorious dream. Another part of me sees that moment as a turning point, the last serious consideration I ever gave to suicide (though it was many years before I firmly discarded the possibility). Either way, I'm in the bonus round of my life, and grateful for every day.
vinceconaway: (Default)
Honestly, I'm kind of boring. I wake up around 6:30, spend a while puttering around online and reading a lot of news analysis, and hop into the shower around eight. I putter some more, head out, have breakfast at a cafe, and play for a few hours. I grab groceries on my way home, eat a lunch of bread, fruit, and lunch meat and/or cheese. I take a nap, and have an afternoon walk. I play another few hours in the evening before eating the remainder of my bread, fruit, lunch meat and/or cheese for supper, and take an evening stroll before curling up with a book.

On my day off, when I'm neither playing nor traveling, replace the music with more walks and museums. I don't do much that's really interesting, but I'm deeply thankful that I get to enjoy my routine in some really, really cool places.


May. 23rd, 2017 11:34 am
vinceconaway: (Default)
What an amazing trip. It's been a week and I'm still marvelling.

I turned forty a few months ago, and to celebrate midlife I made the decision to double down on my traveling. So I spent the beginning of the year busking my way around Chile before heading to Peru to spend the big day in Machu Picchu.

I also scheduled a 3-month European tour for the summer, two months in familiar Italy, a few weeks in too-long-neglected Croatia, and a week breaking new ground in Bosnia. And then I learned that my favourite musician was hosting Lost Evenings, a 4-night concert series in London.

Frank Turner writes about life on the road in a way I've never heard from any other artist. From the glories of travel to the challenges of friendship and the disintegration of relationships, he covers it all, and he's an expert because his tour schedule makes me look like a homebody. And I was scheduled to be an $80 EasyJet flight (round trip!) away from one of his performing highlights.

Of course I bought it. I ruthlessly budgeted out the costs, and decided to see the final two nights (Sunday and Monday) so I would still have 3/4 of a weekend to busk before heading out. I caught a 5:30am train to Milan after a very short night of anxious sleep, grabbed a shuttle bus from the train station to the Linate airport, flew into London, grabbed a train into the city, wandered around a bit, checked into my hotel (Hotwire found me a 3-star room for just a few dollars more than a hostel bed), and took a nap.

And then had my mind blown by the best concert I've ever seen.

Sunday was acoustic night, where Frank headlined with a solo show following Beans on Toast (who I'd seen open for Frank in New York in 2015) and Scott Hutchinson of Frightened Rabbit. It was incredible. I'm not a big fan of the acoustic versions Frank has recorded, but live they were breathtaking. His song introductions were intimate and vulnerable and everything I could have wanted from a favourite artist. He truly captured the flavour of an open-mic night in a venue of over 3000 people.

Monday found me again wandering London, meeting up with an old friend for drinks before the show. Skinny Lister opened for Frank, a band I fell in love with when they also opened for him in NYC in 2015 then whose Brooklyn concert I had caught the following Thursday, and who I saw headline a small show in New Orleans last fall. It was a fantastic concert and I hugged a stranger at Frank's prompting, but I don't think anything will ever compare to that "Sensible Sunday Revival" lineup the night before.

I took a long stroll around the city before flying out early Tuesday afternoon, and I was thrilled to discover my budget had been dead-on. Of course, I splurged on meals and a concert t-shirt (which I never buy but which was too good a commemoration to pass up), but the credit card statement is a problem for August. The entire experience was a case study in how to feel alive.
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I do my best never to take anything for granted.

I refer to shows where I don't have contracts, even longstanding parts of my schedule, as "prospective" or "tentative". I'm very careful to label spreadsheet columns as "projections" rather than "expectations". And I'm literally religious about giving thanks when those formal hopes come to fruition.

I have a bit of a complex about the whole thing, if I'm honest with myself, and if I'm even more honest it's because I'm both leery of commitment and distrustful of expectation. I am the most optimistic cynic you will ever meet, and a proud Pollyanna. I fear, every day, that my business model will crumble even as I make plans for two years in the future.

So when people say, "I'll see you next year!" my response, unless I'm equivocal on the idea, is a firm "you will if I have anything to say about it!" I'm a fan of "see you down the road" as a goodbye. And so far it's served me well. For which I'm thankful, but make no assumptions about what may happen tomorrow.
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I've found a favourite coffee house to hang out in! It's a pity that it's a significant drive, so I only come once or twice a week when I can combine it with other errands, but it's a pleasant morning to sit and write.

The Sherwood Forest Faire is going very well for me so far! I'm really enjoying Austin audiences, they're a musician's delight, and it's a real pleasure to be surrounded by friends again after so much time alone on the road. It's one of the great luxuries of my life that I can alternate periods of intense isolation with times of brilliant socializing. Two months alone, two months with friends, three months alone, and another few months with friends: I'm a creature of extremes and this delights me.
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From Chile to Peru to Ohio to Texas, it's been an intense few weeks. Most importantly, I've gone from two months alone to being surrounded by friends and family. It's quite a difference, and one I'm enjoying very much.

I have a lot of tribe here in Texas, both working at the Sherwood Forest Faire and among Austin-area locals. There are hugs, conversations, and delightful flirtations floating around me and I've been immersed to my eyebrows. It is good to know I'm loved.
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It's a little hard to believe that it's the last week of my thirties, and what an amazing decade it has been. I look back on the things that have happened, and the growth I've had, and it's a little hard to believe.

At first glance not much has changed. When I turned thirty I had already been full time as a musician for five years, and I was in the midst of my first foreign busking tour. I've refined things, of course, but a core of Renaissance Festivals augmented by international street performing is still my fundamental business model.

It is with a closer look that the differences are revealed. I'm a far more skilled player and performer than I was at that time, for example. My festival performances are still anchored by playing in the lanes, but also include a solid stage show that eluded me throughout my twenties. The music that I'm writing is more complex, and I've taken up a deeply challenging historical repertoire.

Similarly, the basics of my inner monologue haven't evolved very far. I'm still buffeted by alternating moods of euphoric confidence and crippling anxiety. I am, however, better able to compensate with a deeper experience of successes to temper my insecurities and failures to moderate my arrogance. More importantly, I've got a much firmer grip on when I need to bring this information to bear, recognizing when I'm in an unhealthy mental space.

My body is changing and it's an interesting quest to find the balance between treating symptoms and changing my lifestyle; I miss caffeine but I feel so powerful without it. My face is becoming more and more my own, as smile lines beneath my eyes vie with the concentration wrinkles on my brow. My hairline is thinning and receding even as it greys to match the delightful amount of white in my new beard. The belly fat I've fought for my entire life has subsided only to redistribute to the sides so rapidly there are stretch marks, which is both a big victory and a new struggle.

And finally there is my personal life, which I keep strictly offline. I won't go into details, but I've gotten a lot better at asking for what I need in a relationship. I don't want anything different than I wanted ten years ago, but I'm a lot better both at recognizing when I have it and letting go when I don't. And, while I still find myself making the fundamental mistake of promising things I cannot deliver, it's happening a little less often these days.

I'm excited for my forties, and eager to see how I further grow and evolve in that time. Aging has been a fascinating experience for me, and I look forward to seeing what further turns it will take!

Daily Life

Feb. 21st, 2017 04:11 pm
vinceconaway: (Default)
Living on the road is very different than vacationing. This is true in general, but especially when I'm traveling abroad.

I typically eat out of grocery stores, for example, even if I'm not doing the sort of light cooking that I do in the States. Eating out every day is not only detrimental to the budget, but brutal for health. It was important to acquire, early in my travels, the skill to pick up affordable picnic basics and build a long-term diet from staples such as bread, fruit, and cheese.

And then there is my daily schedule. I tend to work for 4 hours a day on those days when I'm playing, with five hours or so between my first and second sets. This leaves me part of the morning, midday, and the early evening to myself. I take a lot of rambling walks as my main recreation, but often I'll hit a museum or other tourist attraction in the afternoon. However, because of my schedule, there's typically only room for one.

It's by routines such as these that I've built a life for myself on the road, where it doesn't matter how frequently the scenery changes because the basic elements of my day rarely do.


Jan. 9th, 2017 09:42 am
vinceconaway: (Default)
My plane leaves tomorrow for South America and I'm rather nervous. I've been to Chile before, and one reason I scheduled the trip the way I did was to have three weekends in my favourite and most successful busking city from my previous tour. Still, it is a place where I witnessed a theft of a woman's camera from off her shoulder, and has a reputation for being on the dangerous side.

A lot of my anxiety is less serious, though. I'm mainly concerned about catching buses, since the websites haven't let me purchase tickets ahead of time. I'm about to try again, at least for the two buses that are most important for my timing: nights when I haven't booked lodging because I'm planning on an overnight ride. Even so, the crossing into Peru is a bit tricky. From what I can tell, in guidebooks and online fora, the way to do it is to catch an informal taxi (colectivo) across the border to Tacna, and then grab whatever buses I can to Cuzco. Happily, I've had the foresight to give myself three days to manage any delays before I head out to Macchu Picchu, the most timing-sensitive plan of the trip.

So I head back into the void, taking the leap once more. It's a reason I savour travel as much as I do; it forces me to live in the moment and dance to the tune of circumstance. It's brutal on my psyche, but I never feel more alive.
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I leave for Chile a week from today, and it's a bit intimidating even as I'm knocking out chores left and right. (Emails to festivals? Check! Income taxes? Check! Sales tax filings for $0 in states I haven't worked lately but that impose non-filing penalties? Check!) I'm wondering about what I may be missing, as well as the anxiety over the many things that could go wrong.

Plus, I'm looking further into the future. Do I want to return to the US via Milan or Munich this summer? Come back right before Pennsic or into the thick of it, giving myself an extra weekend of busking at the expense of treasured down time? Do the Holborn Praeludia look like a better fit for the 2018 or the 2022 albums? (Yes, I really do think that far ahead, and the 2020 album is set firmly enough in my mind to know they wouldn't be appropriate there.)

It's a whirlwind, and I'm looking forward to the moment when my butt hits the airplane seat. I stress beforehand, but once I'm strapped in my perspective changes and my anxiety drops as I focus less on what might happen and more on what is actually happening.

I'm looking forward to it.
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I was caught by surprise with several events in 2016, so I'm looking to make fewer assumptions and have fewer expectations in the new year. Happily, I'll be spending much of 2017 abroad, where I excel at living on my toes.

One reason I enjoy traveling is because of the person it brings out in me. As a touring busker I'm well aware that anything can happen, and I embrace possibilities even as I dance among them. As someone who sees recognizing opportunities as his most essential skill, travel is my best mental exercise, and upon every return I feel recharged from having left.

And so, as I make my wishes and resolutions for the coming year, I'm keeping that mental flexibility foremost in my goals. Happy new year!
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I know it's been a hard year for a lot of people, but personally it's treated me fairly well even as I mourn for various people and events. I'd like to thank everyone who made this year so good for my music and travels; it's been a very full year for me, and I can't believe so much has happened in a mere twelve months.

I began the year in southern Ontario, Canada, recording Dulce Melos. I'm incredibly proud of how it came out, and of how ambitious I was with the complexity of its music. I continued my Baroque explorations, delved even further into sixteenth century music, and discovered some fourteenth- and fifteenth-century gems in addition to the Celtic and early medieval music which has long been my foundation.

From Canada I went to Texas, although it minimized my culture shock that I was living in Austin (unofficial motto: "Keep Austin Weird"). I had a truly splendid experience at the Sherwood Forest Medieval Faire, feeling myself absolutely at home among close friends old and new. It's a delightful show with a lot of heart and skill behind it and I relished the experience of playing there. Austin audiences were incredibly welcoming and generous, and between my colleagues and our patrons I had a magical time.

From the newness of Sherwood I returned to my stomping grounds of Gulf Wars, a large SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event in southern Mississippi. I had a great time, as my Canadian friends mingled with those I have in New Orleans. We did have a bit of an incident, however, with a massive storm system that swept through. I had just begun a set in the tavern when the intense winds and driving rains began, and I moved my setup to the minstrels' gallery (it's an amazing place). I spent the next few hours at my dulcimer, doing my best to add a bit of calm to the atmosphere. They're calling that night "Gulfnado", and it's a story that will always be shared by those who were there.

I then headed to Italy as I do most years, where I made some discoveries pro and con. Cities that have been good to me in the past, Padua and Bologna, had recently passed anti-busking regulations, and even the nominally friendly city of Perugia gave me some problems. In response, I broadened my busking to cities where I had spent very little time in the past, and was very pleased at my welcome in Prato, Terni, Foligno, and Pistoia. Taranto, Genoa, and Pisa were delightful and reliable as they've been so often in the past, and I'm pleased to have added Foggia to the list of cities where I reliably return.

From Italy I resumed my renaissance festival circuit, picking up in St Louis. I always feel very at home there, with this being my fifteenth year there as a musician, but it was a bit of an oddity; the festival is in the process of moving from the spring to the fall, and these two weekends were "preview" weekends offering a limited version of the show free to the public. Even so, I had a really positive experience, and the weekends were a rousing success.

I then spent a month performing at SCA camping events. It's typical for me to include a few of these throughout my year, as with Gulf Wars, but we were celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the Society's founding. This meant that I went from St Louis to a ten-day camping event outside Kansas City, and on to a week outside Indianapolis, with a few days visiting my parents before a long weekend at the War of the Trillium surrounded by my family of friends in Greater Toronto.

I then continued my Canadian adventures by spending July as a street performer at Byward Market in Ottawa, the nation's capital. I love Ottawa and, as is a theme in my travels, have a number of friends there. It's my favourite busking pitch in North America, as a historic neighbourhood meets a farmers market under the umbrella of a very helpful and organized management team.

I returned to the States, and to the SCA, for my annual trek to Pennsic, north of Pittsburg. My fifteenth year there, I'm starting to play for the children of people who started listening to me as children, themselves. I taught a class on neat medieval sites to visit in Italy, and I was honoured to co-teach a lesson on street performing with my old friejnd and dear colleague Jack Strauss, who calls himself Dr Henry Best in the Society. We have sharply different styles, and it was a lot of fun to see where our perspectives differed and lined up. I'm especially proud to be a part of this class because it has a history of encouraging artists to become professionals, with several alumni who have gone on to make some brilliant art.

I'm running out of creative ways to say "and then I went someplace else".

So off to the New York Renaissance Faire rode I! It's a truly beautiful show set in a former botanical garden, where I'm surrounded by (you guessed it) good friends, delightedly playing for New Yorkers who live in the live entertainment capital of the world and know how to be a phenomenal audience.

Sadly, the New York Faire overlaps with the new autumn dates of the St Louis Renaissance Festival, but I was able to return for the last two weekends of its season. As I mentioned, the preview weekends had gone off very well, and the full show was an even bigger deal.

After two weekends off, which I spent being a social butterfly in southern Ontario again, I headed south to Louisiana. This was my fourteenth year at the Louisiana Renaissance Festival, after a very difficult year for them. The site flooded in March, under 8 feet of water, and after they had cleaned it up did so again in September. I was deeply impressed at how many people pitched in their labour to make things work, and how well management pulled off the event after two such disasters. Thankfully the weather had gotten the water out of its system, because we only had one wet festival day the entire season for a remarkably good run.

In short, it's been a very good festival season for me. Outside of my live performances, however, I also got a lot more into Internet video this year. I launched a Patreon campaign and I'm very pleased both at its generous reception and with how much fun I'm having. I've been intending to take more video, and this has been a brilliant motivation to keep coming up with new variations. Many thanks to all of my patrons! And many thanks to everyone who has offered me encouragement, feedback, applause, and their business. Without you there could never be me, and I'm deeply thankful.
vinceconaway: (Default)
I'm going to a New Year's Eve party and I just read the invitation; it's a wake for a brutal year, and we'll be bringing sentiments to burn and wishes for the new year. It's a fairly standard Yule ritual, and not my first rodeo. But like everything else, as I approach my fortieth birthday, it carries a lot of memories.


I had just finished my first season at the Ohio Renaissance Festival and I was informally engaged to my girlfriend of two years (no ring, but she had asked and I said, "yes"). I was on top of the world, and when it came my turn to express my thoughts on the passing year and wishes for the next I stood tall.

"It's been a year of music and love, and I hope for even more to come!"

It was a sentiment to remind me to be careful what I wished for. My relationship ended in early April, but I booked my first full summer/fall season of renaissance festival work and was very much on my toes with launching my career. This meant that I was fresh meat on the circuit, and I call that period my "summer of love".

A dear old friend still makes fun of me for breathlessly calling every week to exclaim, "there's this girl!" as I repeatedly fell head over heels at a dizzying rate. I look back on that time with fondness and I'm on good terms with several of the ladies involved, but while I'm glad to have lived it I would never want to repeat it.

What a wild ride it was, and now I'm a lot more careful with my wishes. I'll let you know what I come up with.
vinceconaway: (Default)
I hadn't realized that backdated entries would go into everyone's feed as they have. I'm so sorry! From here on, I'll schedule daily updates ten years to the day after I made them, so they'll trickle in at a more reasonable rate. Again, my apologies!
vinceconaway: (Default)
It's one of my greatest strengths. The world is full of brilliant artists and sharp business minds, but being competent at both is likely my greatest competitive advantage.

I just said "competitive advantage" in describing an artistic career. I rest my case.

I called it a career, which is also a strong argument in my accountancy. But I'm overselling my case. The key to my success has been knowing when to temper practicality with art, and vice versa.

For example, I just booked a completely frivolous trip to London while I'm busking Italy, since I could keep expenses under $300 including the concert tickets for the show I wanted to see (two back-to-back Frank Turner performances in his concert series "Lost Evenings"). I booked the plane seats now because I wanted to guarantee my attendance once I had my concert tickets, but I haven't yet booked my flight from Cleveland to Milan because it's a business expense I want to be deductible on my 2017 taxes instead of fiscal 2016. By flying out on Sunday morning and returning on Tuesday, I'll only lose a single day to busking, minimally impacting my work schedule.

And so I've put my accountant brain into action in an artistic goal. This is my career write small, from busking tours of amazing places to working festivals where other people go for vacation; I'm not here to make a buck, but to support my own happiness. I've been deeply lucky that it's still rolling along, and I consider the soul of an accountant to be another lucky break.

Many thanks to you all, without whom I could never have made it work!
vinceconaway: (Default)
It's funny, but I've been conceptualizing my return to Chile for so long that is hasn't felt real. Ever since I caught a bus out of Valparaiso in 2014 it has been my intention to return, and even buying a plane ticket didn't add much more than typical money anxiety.

But now I've got an itinerary and I've started booking housing. For some reason, the reality of the trip only starts to really come together in my mind once I've done all my googling for busking info, when I've read my guidebook and marked the places to go, and when I've looked at bus routes in order to map out a progression from city to city in a way that makes practical sense. So now I have it, and it feels like A Thing. I'll let you in on the details next week; I want to give my Patreon patrons a bit of a head start on the details since they're helping finance the trip.

Interestingly, the high-profile Macchu Pichu visit isn't really my focus. At a friend's prodding, for which I'm grateful, I've explored my options to get there beyond just putting the nearby city of Cuzco onto the appropriate part of my calendar, and I've asked my parents for a very luxurious Christmas/birthday present to bring the details together. Beyond that, I'm too busy focusing on January to really give my full attention yet to March.

Don't get me wrong, I expect to be floored by the ruins and I've heard legends from fellow travelers. Still, the busking side of things is what really gets my creative juices flowing, possibly because I unhealthfully define myself through my work. Regardless, I've worked through the first phase of anxiety (though I'm sure there will be others), and now I'm eager and ready!
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A lot has changed as I've grown older, and my driving habits are a fascinating example.

When I was 24 I spent six weeks commuting between Cincinnati and Tampa, fourteen hours each way. I was in grad school, taking classes Tuesdays and Thursdays, performing at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival Saturdays and Sundays, and driving Mondays and Fridays. It was brutal, and the next year gas prices and creative problem solving encouraged me to switch to airplanes.

As my body has aged I've noticed that my capabilities for such drives aren't what they once were. More importantly, I no longer have the will to force myself to undertake such misery. I'm at a fortunate place where I can afford a few $50 hotel rooms throughout the year, and I schedule around that.

I rarely drive more than nine hours in a day, and never more than eleven. I'm more willing to take breaks than I was in my twenties, enjoying a stroll around a rest area and maybe indulging in a handstand for blood flow to wake me up. And I'm liberal with allowing myself the aforementioned hotel rooms.

Oddly, however, I noticed today that some of these changes don't seem to be one way. I only started drinking coffee in my early thirties, and recent bouts of TMJ-related jaw issues have caused me to quit caffeine entirely once again; apparently my thirties were the buzzing decade. Today I drove over eight hours and I reverted to form, with only a single gas/lunch/bathroom stop at midday. It seems there was a different variable at work.

Now I'm questioning other assumptions about my aging process. This could be fun!
vinceconaway: (Default)
Having experienced my first Renaissance Festival at Baycrafters (see Origin Story Part I), I went off to college. I was dating a girl in Dayton, Suzzi Bibby, while going to school in Columbus, and I accumulated a lot of miles between the cities. It was she who introduced me to the Ohio Renaissance Festival.

We went as patrons, and soon were going in costume. We would treat the admission fee as a cover charge and spend all day in the pub, watching band after band. Soon we were playing together the music we were hearing, with my experiments on mountain dulcimer (no relation to my now-primary instrument, the hammered dulcimer) being accompanied by her playing on recorder and bodhrán (an Irish frame drum).

We called ourselves the Tweedford Minstrels, since our music straddled English, Scottish, and Irish traditions just as a fictitious ford on the River Tweed would straddle the countries of England and Scotland. Our first and only performance was at the Ohio State University Medieval and Renaissance Faire in May of 1997.

We had broken up the previous January, and the band outlived the relationship only briefly. I was branching out into new music and we weren't getting together to rehearse as often now that we were dating other people more local to us. I had taken up the cittern, a ten-string instrument that had more volume, more flexibility, and more of a renaissance image. And so I went solo.

In 1998 I played a madrigal dinner, and my hosts Mac and Cheri Corbeil insisted that I audition for the Ohio Renaissance Festival. I didn't feel myself to be ready, but I played the Ohio State Medieval Faire again on my own and gathered the courage to audition for ORF that summer.

To my amazement I got the gig.

Everything else I've done followed from that moment. I discovered that my love of performing went deeper than I had imagined, and I learned that there were people who made a living by traveling the country and bringing joy to their audiences. I investigated the Renaissance Festival circuit and began plotting a future, even as I commuted to North Carolina to fulfill an internship with IBM. A stark choice lay before me, and I was strongly considering Option B.

I have never regretted treading the path less taken.

August 2017

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