east infection: china & singapore.
sometimes you have to go all the way to china to have a important conversation, because the world gets thrown into perspective.
in vermont right now, about to start my first real tour in ages.the back-up band (who are also my support band), nervous cabaret, sound FUCKING AMAZING. drums! guitar! bass! HORNS!!!i cannot wait to hit the road. i’m really, really excited. i have missed making HUGE LOUD NOISE. here we go, yo. neil will join me in NYC (sold out, baby) and northampton.i’m also doing a YOGA class in northampton, for you mindful types. info HERE.
11.11 Burlington, VT
11.12 Portland, ME
11.13 Northampton, MA
11.14 Brooklyn, NY
11.18 Philadelphia, PA
11.19 Falls Church, VA
11.20 Carrboro, NC
11.22 Knoxville, TN
(and a friendly reminder before it sells out:12.31 Boston, MA – TICKETS!)
after i landed from singapore (the night of nov 2) having been on various planes (singapore > tokyo > detroit > boston) for a good 24 hours, i sat like a zombie in my apartment for two hours, conducting a twitter Q&A because i couldn’t think of anything else to do in my purgatory before gig time that wouldn’t turn my brain into a smoothie. it’s funny, that. the easiest, simplest thing for me to do to stay awake and alive is answer questions from strangers. not read a book. not crochet. there’s something peaceful about it, the engaged output, the bouncing along the kind and distracted trampoline of happy and loving communication. as i follow other celebrity and semi-celebrity twitterers [neil, kevin smith, wil wheaton, diablo cody (ps i just read her book “candy girl” in a fit of jetlang and i love love loved it), margaret cho, and tony hawk come to mind) and how they joyfully bounce along the same trampoline, i don’t feel quite so weird.
only a few hours after i landed i went a played a private gig for the students of northeastern university, feeling quite frisky. their little university nightclub/cafe featured a built-in starbucks, which loomed across from my stage like a fluorescent dark green gate to hades. i started the set with “creep” on ukulele (it’s becoming a classic) and jumped up on the serving counter to deliver the last verse, bruising my left shin quite extremely in the process. then i went home, drank wine with beth (and my new helping angel hayley) to sign hundreds of DVDs and CDs. the who killed amanda palmer DVDs that were sold in the london webcast auction – which i signed well over a month ago and shipped home from the UK – have been detained by the international postal gods and no amount of praying will bring them back to us. i finally gave in and decided to sign a whole new batch. sorry to all of you who have been waiting. i’m sorry things are always so fucked up. it kills me. i just want things to work. often, they don’t. all i can do is apologize and try harder.
one odd thing: i decided not to email AT ALL while over there (i set up an autoreply), though i did a little experiment and allowed myself to twitter (and read responses).what i discovered is that it was a wonderful way to stay connected and yet not working, though i must say in enjoyed the patches of days where there was simply no phone service at all.the one thing that was effected, is how i put the blog together. for those following me on twitter, some of this will be weeks-old news, though it’s unlikely everybody caught every photo and, ahem, nuanced 140-character reflection. but truly, being able to post pictures on the fly while i traveled (i probably posted several dozen, or more) made it much easier to feel like i wasn’t going to have an epic task of sorting through an entire pile when i got home.
since i never have the discipline (and, i like to think, this is a good thing, otherwise my life might end up consisting of 45% living and 55% blogging) to blog daily or even weekly when things are going so fast, i have a hard time deciding what to share. i could go on for pages about any given topic or city, since we were moving at light speed. since i am not trying to be a travel diartist/traveloguist of new-york-times-literary-supplement proportions (don’t have to! i’m a fucking rock star! ha.) i am simply going to grab some random photos, out of order, and write about some of the thing that i felt over there. that will be much more fucking intersting than, “and then we went…” and then after that we flew to…” – i think that would be fucking boring and for fucks sake who cares, anyway?
some background, so you know: i went to china because neil is working on a book. a book about china. probably a non-fiction book about china and also about buddhism (not my fault, i swear) and about the classic chinese story of the journey to the west, the tale of a real-life monk who traveled from china to india, which later became mythologized into a famous folk tale which is about as familiar to the chinese as the bible is to western folks.
i added gigs in singapore, where neil was visiting the writers festival, because i knew i had a little fanbase there.the whole trip was only about a week. the flight took a day in each direction.
the photos without me in them are mostly by me, but there are some photos thrown in by neil and our bad-ass ex-pat british guide, ian ford.the photos with me in them are by neil, ian, or otherwise noted.
in china, people believe things are getting better.
i don’t know, man.
we went to a school in chungdu that has just been rebuilt after the brutal earthquake.neil was there last year, shortly after the earthquake, and fell in love with the place and the kids. he’s helping them build a library.
i was introduced to the assembled children as neil’s “wife” after it was decided by the powers that be that it was too inappropriate to introduce me as “girlfriend” (…or “concubine”, which was MY vote).
the children greeted us at the doors of the school by saluting and wrapping red “young pioneers” neckerchiefs around our necks. i nearly died with happiness.
this is his first non-fiction book since the eighties and i loved seeing him play journalist to all sorts of folk. his brain was an experience sponge, and i sort of enjoyed the idea that the whole of our experience was going to somehow wind out being weaved into whatever he writes. for the first time in my life i feel like i’m in a relationship where there is utter, wonderfully attentive mutual artistic support with no threatening imbalance or drama.i cannot wait to see what he comes up with. i really love him.
vegetarianism/pescatarianism in china was not so difficult due, simply, to the extreme abundace of food at all times.much of this had to do with that fact that for the majority of our time, we were getting wined and dined by fancy people who wanted to take good care of neil.almost all meals are served to the whole group of diners (i really like this system – i am generally a non-commitment freak in all ways and enjoy buffets) on round lazy susansthat rotate around the table so that everybody can grab what they want, when they want. hoorah. there was much fish and many vegetables. i am not an overly-anal pescatarian, and when my fish was cooked by being sizzled alive in a roiling boiling sea of pig’s blood, i simply dealt. (yes, this happened).
however:these were chicken feet that looked like a holocaust-pile of hands belonging to small, uncooked, children.this was the only point in our entire trip that i got slightly squeamish when a dish landed in front of me. (i dealt really well with the pig testicles).i would cleverly send the rotating table in another direction by pretending to be constantly very interested in the dish that was precisely 180 degrees AWAY from the uncooked-child-chicken-feet, namely, the sauteed spinach.
sitting. my meditation practice, which has been going wonderfully lately, ironically fell into toilet while we were visiting a blur of buddhist temples.but java and i (she’s in the pink) grabbed a still moment behind a group of women practicing at the top of a mountain. the monk sneakily hiding behind that pillar on the left was beating a drum.i wonder if neil is going to go to buddhist hell for taking this.perhaps he’ll just be reincarnated as a nokia cameraphone.
this group of girls saw us walking on the way down the mountain.they wanted pictures with us because we were white.then ian told them “i was a rock star from america” and they all screeched in unison & demanded photos and autographs.i should try this trick EVERYWHERE.
the gigs in singapore were amazing. people there were just incredible. passionate, intelligent, hilarious.i had no idea there was such a concentration of dresden dolls/amanda fans there (and in the philipines, some people came over for the show, which blew my mind)….
i decorated my keyboard with #LOFNOTC gaffer tape at the book festival gig….
neil said:”if you want, you should think of something to ask the monk”.
i could not think of anything to ask. what do you ask the number four buddhist monk in china?
the monk bonked my head with a holy drum, blessed me, and gave me some holy water to take home in a spring water bottle.when i open my nightclub someday, i will add a dash of it to the bar’s first appletini.
don’t think i’m kidding.
they were psyched!