A little time in Santa Fe

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Expensive parfume and cheap martini’s mingle with the smell of cigarettes at a free friday night art opening, one of many as Santa Fe lives up to it’s reputation of being an art friendly community. This one happens to be at SITE Santa Fe and we are attending as we wait for our dinner reservations for Aaron’s Mom’s birthday. They are both full time artists and enjoy keeping up on what’s going on in the art world, though neither of them fit the mainstream industry very well. I have to laugh a little at the level of cliche’ in the room- mustaches, top hats, mismatched clothing, dreads, full length furs some fine, some tattered and same with the jewelry. One slightly chubby girl, blonde with pink highlights and a steampunk Avril Lavigne look, tries to flirt with a young artist in a full suit and top hat who is trying not to love the attention. I was smiling the whole time I was there, thought i don’t even remember any of the art, the whole place was such a caricature of my entire experience in Santa Fe over the last few months.

I first came to Santa Fe in Sept of 2011 for the Santa Fe Ren Faire( I’ve been to dozens and this one is my favorite, noncommercial and totally quirky) and fell in love within an hour of crossing the border into the state, spending the next couple of years trying to think of every reason to go back. This place has a tranquility and expansiveness I’ve never encountered anywhere else in the world, and I feel I’m spoiled for sunsets forever. For all of Santa Fe’s renown as an art community, I must admit I remember very little of it’s art, and I even ran a gallery for a while! What I do remember is the people I’ve met here. I’ve had some of the strangest (lady yelling at me in a park while I was babysitting a friends’ dog that her husband was allergic to dogs- let me clarify, she walked from the other end of the park to yell at me about this, while I was reading a book and the dog was on a lead, weirdest encounter ever) and some of the best interactions of my life (Valentine and Zoe literally put on a fairy princess party for my birthday, chocolate mushrooms, tiny plates, pink streamers and all- I spent the whole evening and next day on and off in tears of love- and that’s just one thing on the list) and probably spent far too many hours evesdropping on others’ conversations in coffee shops.( Btw, I’ve drunk an absurd amount of coffee in Santa Fe, I’m surprised I didn’t just see people shooting it up it’s so popular here!)

The culture is a mix of art hippies, natives, and a now massive influx of wealthy who are turning the place into their personal playground, turning the normally inexpensive and laid back culture into a smaller version of a big city, with skyrocketing prices and mass traffic for the woefully inadequate streets. It’s also pushing out many of the locals who can’t afford to live here anymore and don’t want to just be slaves to the new wealthy class- part of why all of us are leaving as well, going west to seek out a new place to create a peaceful sanctuary, the old classic story of America.

Not to say the place is over and done with, as I write this I am sitting in the National Forest, watching the clouds play over the mountains, the same place I’ve now seen my first moonrise, shooting stars, and the glorious purple shades I’d only heard of in song. Just the other night Aaron and I sat outside in the cold for hours just to watch the spectacular full wolf’s moon rise and to listen to the wolves’ and coyotes’ howls accompany it. We’ve had dozens of picnics on the banks of wandering creeks in the woods, played with a gardner snake in a little branch fort built generations ago, hunted for pottery shards and branches for art sculptures and run from Black Widow’s.(On a side note, Aaron found a Black Widow in the bathroom of the RV and KEPT IT AS A PET for a few weeks while I was in Texas, and still has the body on the windowsill to use in a piece of jewelry- he’s lucky he is so cute…..) The cocoa at Kakawa chocolate shop is unmatched; the turkey, chili, cheese pastry at Santa Fe Baking Co is the perfect breakfast and the owner Eric knows us by name; Harry’s Roadhouse has the perfect summer and fall patio dining with a garden and little creek and all, and some of the best diner food I’ve ever tasted, perfect for recovering from an exhausting ren faire day. I’ve learned to properly peel green chili’s and just how much caution is required for the xtra hot(!). I’m quite certain I’m now addicted and they are going to be brought on the trip by the pound. The Farolito walk (which i kept calling the faerylight walk) was a magical way to bring in the winter season, even if Aaron is a jaded native narrator going on about “back in his day they did things differently- they had flying farolitos and there was none of this commercial nonsense” (He’s like a seventy year old man in a 21 year old’s body). So I just poked him and sang carols and drank in the lights I will remember when I’m old and grey. I did a radio interview with Gab Rima at Warehouse 21, the local youth clubhouse which puts on all kinds of phenomenal events encouraging the arts, about living on the road and in the forest as a gypsy.

I helped Aaron with Paredolia Gallery, a local art space in the Plaze Galleria dedicated to helping local artists. It’s now collaborating with Open Art Studio, and organization run by Nicole, who is studying art therapy and using it as a place to help the homeless and anyone who needs a creative outlet for life and the infinitely healing power of art. And that is really what I’ve felt Santa Fe is about, a least for those of us traveling through, it’s a safe place of peaceful healing, creative renewal, and contemplation of life. I’ve met more truly driven and active people here than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Here more than anywhere else it’s “I have finished this project I’ve been working on, tell me what you think” rather than “One day I want to do this thing”. I know just being here for a few months I’ve already opened up creatively and found my true path and drive- hence why I’m on here writing at all. I think that’s why it’s so easy for artists to come here and just never leave again, it’s a community geared towards creation and acceptance of new innovations and unusual ideas. It’s a place to transition from the idea of doing art to the actual accomplishing of, and everything is in place to subconsciously encourage it. I have felt that this place has been a cradle to nurture and begin to manifest my true desires and dreams, a place where denial of ones’ truth just leads to madness( it’s true, the dreams I’ve had here are more vivid than anywhere else and cut straight to the point of my pains and fears). For me, the energy, the culture, the people in my life now have been the biggest catalyst for my dreams and closest sense of acceptance and family than I have ever experienced in my life. It’s time for me to move on to other adventures very soon, but I have loved to time I’ve spent here and look forward to visiting many times in the future.

Meet Harold, our new mascot

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After only being in town for an hour or so, a handful of different people we had plans with ended up canceling and we were left with most of an afternoon to spare. We decided to head back to our camp spot and start the fire early (it helps the RV to stay warmer in the evening) and work on art projects. We happen to camp down the road from the local animal shelter and humane society, and as I had been feeling lacking in the cute fuzzy creature department, I convinced Aaron that we should stop and “do some research and have some fun, we’ve been thinking about a pet, we should just stop and see what’s there”. This turned into a two hour escapade as we met every dog, cat, bunny and rat in the building.

A dog was out of the question, we both love them, but they are too big for an RV that already contains two people and a metal workshop and a library and wood pile and you get the picture; I love cats but Aaron says they are stuck up and was worried about one wandering away as we traveled. We ended up spending quite a bit of time with a massive white bunny named Daisy, shocking the poor receptionist who wandered over to check on us and found Aaron calmly holding the bunny on his lap while she took a nap. Apparently, this is not normal bunny behaviour and he was supposed to go through training and paperwork and have someone supervise so no one got hurt. They didn’t count on Aaron, who had owned a wild bunny for a while and tamed it to the point of walking a leash, so Daisy wasn’t really even a handful. She was a wonderfully sweet girl, but we were worried about her being to stressed with travel and trying to give her enough room outside. It’s a strange thought when one lives in the forest, but considering travel and predators and so on- not to mention the space she would need in the RV- and it was the same as having a dog.

Moving on to the rats we opened the cage to a cute little tan and white male dubbed “squeakers” by the staff, and he hopped right out of his house and up my arm, cuddling right away and sneezing the whole while. I chatted with the medical tech who treated him, and she said he was one of her favorites at the whole place and loved bananas. Within a few minutes of cuddles, both of us were in love. So half hour later, a handful of paperwork and some pictures for the place to use for promos, we walked out with a massive cage and a cute little rat we have now daubed “Mr. Harold Squeak”,  though it maybe should have been “sneeze”. He sneezes every time he gets excited or nervous about ANYTHING! (the “harold” was for harold and maude- the VW is Maude, Aaron calls her “his donkey”) We got him home, and within a few minutes he was trying to drag a giant roll of shiny gold ribbon into his house. He has also shown a preference for silk and lace, so he proving himself to be a rat of taste and distinction. He’s also loving sweet potatoes and almonds- but he peels off the skins, which I didn’t even know one could do to an almond!

The best part was introducing him to everyone, though Zoe took the cake, mostly because I played a prank. We went to the thrift store to find Harold a proper travel basket and found a wonderful one that looks like a cobra charmer basket. On arriving at Zoe’s I told her I was all excited because I found an amazing new craft basket and a bunch of craft supplies and I had a surprise for her on top. She lifted the lid and screamed loud enough to hear down the block! After this exciting meeting, they are now good friends, and Harold gave his approval for her trailer by spending a few minutes exploring sneezily (is that a word? Oh well, I’m talking about a rat being cute, I’m allowed) and promptly feel asleep on her lap. So now, we have a family pet, who I’m quite certain can be trained to do amazing things with avocado and bananas, to join us on our trip! Hooray!

Introduction to an Adventure

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One might be wondering how I dare to call myself a Gypsy Faerie- well, to put it simply, I live in the National Forest, have been to 42 of the fifty states, and I street perform and do renaissance festivals and gaming/fantasy conventions as a fairy or gypsy (I’ve also been a pirate, which is wonderful too, all the rum and excuses for kidnapping people’s cellphones you can imagine!) I’ve been traveling for about five years now, and I think it’s high time I started sharing some of the stories and things I’ve learned from all of these adventures. Right now I’m in Santa Fe NM, far from my hometown of Cleveland Ohio, and sharing a little blue RV named Prisilla and a ’65 VW named Maude (after Harold and Maude because she is such a wonderfully mad little beast) with my handsome pirate blacksmith Aaron in the national forest.

We have been outfitting it for total off the grid living for the last couple months and it now has a woodstove for heating and cooking, full solar, insulation on the windows and so on. Next we are tearing out the carpeting (carpet + wood ashes are not a good mix) and painting the interior. It’s from the eighties which means for some reason it’s a horrible shade of grey on the inside, we dyed the couch cushions blue and are going to do yellow and hunter green on the walls and a blue ceiling. I had thought of adding clouds or starts, but there is a skylight above the bed, which is above the cab, so we can see the sky while we lay there or have picnics on the roof. There are a bunch of cabinets so we are doing scenes of each place we go on the front of each panel (pics to come later). Two others are joining us for the journey, Valentine, who has a massive bus of an RV we call Hometree, and Zoe in her Honda with a teardrop trailer we picked up from Arizona yesterday so it doesn’t have a name yet as we are just getting to know the little dear.

She found it on Craigslist and called us to help her check it out, deal with a trailer hitch and so on ( I should clarify, Val and Aaron actually did all the work, however Zoe and I make excellent cheerleaders and food/alcohol providers- it’s really a two part system). So an hour later Aaron was hammering her new back door into place, and we were on our way. The trip was generally uneventful- which is a good thing 99% of the time believe me- we met this wonderful old couple in a Denny’s parking lot to buy the trailer, went to Walmart to find a hitch, and that failed miserably. So the guys bought the closest fit and filed the part down to kind of fit better, at least the pin went in, and we were off to torment an IHOP waitress with such questions as “What other countries does IHOP have restaurants in? It is called the INTERNATIONAL house of pancakes after all. Do they serve plastic pancakes there too? Which has more chicken- the strips or the bone in? How much mac n’ cheese is it possible to bring to us at one time?” On the upside, we do tip well and generally get them to smile a little bit! We stayed up drinking wine and generally having fun with hotel rooms, raided the free breakfast, regretted that and found a coffee shop to recover in. We stopped at an AutoZone to get electrical parts so that there could be blinkers and such nonsense on the trailer and listened patiently as some guy hanging out there, claiming to be a mechanic, tried to convince Zoe her car was about to explode and she should pay him to fix it before we all died on the trip home. Valentine had a wonderful time playing with the guy’s head before finally getting him to leave and we surprise, surprise made it back it time for Zoe to make the tail end of family dinner and surprise them with her new home.

So, now all of us have a mobile place to call home, and are just putting finishing touches on each thing to keep us functioning on the road. The plan is to head first to LA, we will probably take our time, stop at the grand canyon and all that, on the way and spend a few weeks doing street vending and performing all over Venice beach, Laguna and so on. We will then be traveling up the coast, there really isn’t any goal or structure, we mostly want to have some fun and adventure, and once we get north of Sacramento, the real point of the journey begins. We are looking for a piece of land, somewhere in northern California or southern Oregon to establish as an off the grid home base since getting mail while living in the forest is kind of a pain- not actually kind of, pretty much completely. It’s still the one thing that is impossible to do on the road, you can’t even get a PO Box without an address, which in my mind defeats the purpose. We are considered homeless, which I found ironic as I was making cookies on the stove and sewing a crazy quilt in my stolen-from-aaron-robe on the couch, but I digress. Each of us has our own purpose for the land, Aaron wants to be able to forge a sword without the cops being called, Zoe and I want to establish a free alternative medicine clinic (I also want a quiet place to write), and Valentine wants to rebuild old cars. Eventually we are looking at international travel, but this is enough to handle for now. So, hope you have enjoyed getting to know us a little and I’ll have more for you on Friday! Salutations new friends!