Wow, I didn't publish anything on this blog for a while! Five months. I've been busy- I went to Australia and Vegas and Toronto and New York, came home, got RSI, wrote and healed and organized and was sick, and here we are now.
I'll be updating this blog with new pieces again. For now, here's a piece I wrote on my last tour. as a chronically ill touring artist, I've been learning to navigate being on the road for a minute. on my last journey, I thought I would compile some of the magic remedies I carry in my bag that help me hurt less. these are what work for my body- your mileage may vary, and I understand that many sick and disabled artists and people navigate different bodily constellations that mine. this is not *the* way, just *a* way. I was inspired by Adrienne Maree Brown's piece "way of the healthy nomad" here: http://adriennemareebrown.net/blog/2013/05/22/way-of-the-healthy-nomad/
chronically ill touring artist pro tips.
1. yin chiao. think your immune system is doing great for once? think you won't get sick on tour? think again. you are going to be on college campuses meeting a million students who all give colds to each other. you are going to be on a million airplanes and busses, or in a van, or in a student coop, you are going to be drinking water and eating food from all kindsa places, and you will get sick. if you pound these (3-4 3 times a day, at the first sign of getting sick), you won't get that sick, or sick at all. stockpile, as they are not always easy to find outside of health food store land or APIA communities. astralagus powder in hot water, a teaspoon a day, helps too as a preventative (you can do this all the time, not just when you're sick.)
2. sea salt. feel that tickle in your throat/ oh shit i'm getting sick feeling? hot sea salt gargles, stat. it'll stop the bacteria from going into your lungs. upper respertory infections are easier to treat than ones that get in your lungs. you can also throw some in a bath if you have crotch itch. it'll also help ease sore muscles. if you need to do a protection spell, ditto.
3. melatonin. at some point you will desperately need to sleep, but you will be in Australia or Grinnell, IA and your body will just be like, nope, we like our old time zone! and you will be fucked, fucked fucked. this will knock you out. benadryl works too but I like this better.
4. activated charcoal. at some point, you guts are going to completely fucking rebel from you deviating from your normal kale taco diet and subsisting off of the Starbucks Perfect Oatmeal Cup, yogurt parfaits, jerky, shwarma and burgers. at some point, you will eat day old tater tots and mayo that were in the van a little too long and you will hurl. these babies will absorb hthe gas and the badness and stop you from puking on a 15 hour Megabus run. ginger chews or just crystalized ginger will stop you from puking, too, and they often have them at bodegas and corner stores.
5. ibuprofin. vitamin I. just go ahead and take 800 mg every 8 hours. especially before and after planes and busses. it'l help inflammation go down.
6. a big scarf. cold on the plane or bus? van mates driving you nuts? can't sleep on plane? just need to shut out the world? put this over your face.
7. emergency protein. a friend once said "i'd carry around half a cow if I could." jerky, almonds, whatever. wild canned salmon from trader joe's is a life transforming game changer.
8. kale salad holds up at least 3 days unrefrigerated in a tupperware and gives you all the micronutrients you used to eat 4 times a day.
9. get a bigass mason jar, stick half a lemon in it, and fill it up once you clear security at the airport. voila, electrolytes and hydration. pick herbs by the curb or from a non sprayed garden for soothing waters. (Mint, lemon balm, lavender and rosemary grow in front yards in a lot of the west coast and east coast.)
10. nettles and various tea bags. it's going to feel really good to be able to nuke some water in the hotel or friends' house and make tulsi rose tea. nettles will save your ass, give you steady energy and vitamins and ward off the sick.
11. roll up a heating pad and take it with you! plug it in in megabus and the plane. or in the hotel or crash space if it's cold. game changer. you will hurt so much less and if the space is too cold, it'll help you not freeze.
12. for the love of god, if you can, give yourself days off in the middle of weeks on the road. or at least plan that you are going to be just fine, ecstatic even during tour, and then crash like a motherfucker once you get back. don't plan anything but netflix, laundry and water for a couple days after if you can help it. also, think about how much you can do- for me, 2 friend visits a day is plenty. don't let them schedule you to do 3 workshops and a one person show in one day! also, remember that being outside your comfort zone and having to negotiate public transit and neighborhoods you don't know (or know access info for) is its own stress.
13. look up where the community acupuncture spots are on this map: https://www.pocacoop.com/clinics/, and make appointments with them.
14. if you're a y member, make use of the AWAY (Always Welcome at the Y) program. Most places, if you have a membership you can go to any y for free anywhere. tell them you get free towels! soak in that hot tub!
15. Go ahead and get shellac or gels or silk tips before or during tour if you do your nails and this is chemically accesisble to you. your hands are going to look like shit and having durable nails may make you feel better.
16. bring fragrance free laundry detergent in a ziplock. no one will have it and you don't want to have to buy a box.
16a. also in a ziplock: coffee. and a couple filters for it.
17. bring a portable altar- it can be a small candle, an ancestor image, a rock, a place to put water. keep them in ziplocks.
18. as a part-time cane user, I bring a cheap folding cane so I don't lose my wooden cane when my brain fog is up and I'm moving a lot and I start forgetting where everything is, losing stuff, etc. I ask for wheelchair assistance, even if I'm feeling more mobile at the beginning of tour- because I know that my pain and fatigue levels are going to skyrocket during tour, and airports are huge and body-wrecking. wheelchair assistence means getting to the airport early. oh yeah, i also ask if there is a crip line if I don't hook up wheelchair assistence and know that my legs will give out if I stand on a really really really long line.
19. I make sure I ask people I'm staying with for what I need, and to be specific, sometimes more than once. for me this means smoke free rooms, heat, a bed or pull out couch, quiet after 11 PM, and proximity to a food source, no stairs or an elevator, a door that shuts. don't assume that non crips will get it the first time you say what your needs are, even if they're going "oh yes" and being real polite.
20. the la quinta inn has a hot water dispenser in its breakfast bar! which means hella nettle tea! if you get a hotel/motel, ones with mini fridges and microwaves rock.
21. most hotels are able to not use fragranced cleansers and take the air "freshener" out first if you ask in advance.
22. bring some cute cotton underwear. you need underwears that can stand up to hours on busses and planes. nylon just helps candida go nuts.
23. menstruators: the menstrual sponge, cup or cloth pads are my favs. cloth pads can be shoved in a ziplock, and can also be shoved in underwear to absorb 12 hours worth of blood while you're on megabus.
as of september 2010, I'm committing to post one new piece a week (disability and travel may remix this intention.) all this work is shared under a Creative Commons license- credit if you share, no commercial use allowed.
This work by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.