Monday, August 18, 2003

Pennsic was grueling and miserable, and yet also wonderful at the same time. This year, I had some special challenges. Because of some not-so-pleasant issues going on in my personal life, I was torn between wanting to curl up into a ball and rock myself in a corner and wanting to run around like a convict just busted out of prison after doing seven years hard time. You see, I am finally splitting with the SO after a long haul. I'm told that you are not supposed to make major life decisions like that so soon before or after Pennsic but it could not be helped. I agonized over this all summer and I just can't go on with it any longer. I was on an emotional rollercoaster most of the time.

Anyway, let's see, how was the weather? Well it was definitely the worst in seven years, and others have said longer than that. It started off as a monsoon. It rained constantly for days. The whole place was like a rice paddy. Then the last few days were sweltering with the heat index in the 100s (F). I think that this contributed to a more toned down, laid back Pennsic. Everyone was tired all the time. Evenso, this does not prevent us from trying to have the time of our lives. To cap it off, it also rained on the last Saturday night, when we have our big "burn everything" party. The fire was still large, but not quite the towering inferno that we are famous for.

Speaking of Saturday, let me start there because it is freshest in my mind. This is when the event starts to clear out--lots of packing up and leaving because some folks have to travel great distances, compounded by the weather reports of rain and high winds. But most of us live close by and we are the die-hard partiers, so Saturday is our traditional big party night. And, despite the weather, we had a decent turn out, although maybe not as rowdy as can be. We probably had the best drum circle of the week, with the best drummers, musicians and dancers that you will find at Pennsic. I only played my fiddle for a few songs and spent more time dancing. I was much less inhibited this year. I was inspired; I found my muse. I performed the "Bacon Dance of Allure" where I danced enticingly around the fire with the bacon. Bacon is sacred in our household. At least, I found it amusing. Well, I had to do something. It was just so damned depressing standing around doing nothing.

Earlier in the week I had to struggle with finding a balance between playing my fiddle and having a good time. Most of the trouble was clearly my own pressure that I put upon myself. I feel obliged to perform, but I don't actually like being put on the spot and having to play in front of people. I play for myself and because I like learning new things. I don't enjoy improvising a solo in front of strangers, or playing the same 12 songs over and over again. I do enjoy playing with other musicians who I don't get to see during the rest of the year. I did enjoy playing in the dance expo and busking in front of Father Dun's during midnight madness. I can't play all night, or I get too fatigued and cranky--I learned that much. I really really really enjoy dancing, and have trouble playing fiddle at the same time. So, I left the fiddle at home some nights, so that I could dance and actually have a good time. It was my vacation, afterall.

So I went to a few other parties besides the big one at the end. My regular bed time became 4 or 5 am. I might have gotten a combined total of five hours of sleep for the entire week. I don't know what I was running on. I think that near the end, it had to be pure will. I didn't eat much, or drink much, except one night I did become very very drunk. I was glad that I had friends watching out for me that night. I was in an emotionally bad place that ended in a fit of tears--once again, glad I had a shoulder to cry on--you know who you are--and realized that I did indeed have a good many friends. But everyone has their tearful moments at Pennsic, even if you are having a really good one. All in all, I think it was a good one. I feel like I am making the right decision and it will be better next year.


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