Learning to Write about Learning

I’ve learned a lot in the last two weeks. About magic. About motorcycles. About blogging. None of them are easy. All of them are rewarding.

On the way home from picking up the bike in Arlington, a duck merged into my lane about 30 feet ahead of me & 20 feet above. I followed him for a few seconds before he exited into the woods. I knew I was on the right track.

What I’ve learned about Motorcycles: After 8 years in a car, I’ve picked up a moderate amount of automobile know-how. I’m no mechanic, but I could wager a decent guess as is to why the truck broke down. Scooting around on a machine I know next-to-nothing about made the first week a little uncomfortable. My grandfather, who first advised the KLR as my starter-bike, was kind enough to send me a Clymer shopbook (Thanks FalconGuy=). I’ve been voraciously studying, & began running through maintenance & small servicing tasks a few days ago. I’ve put 530 miles on it in two weeks, definitely been hungry for more riding experience, which only drives me further to become fluid in motorcycle repair & maintenance.

When you get new car, it’s more like a new toy. The standard language is car, with dialects of Automatic & Manual. Everything else is interchangeable metal & plastic. An unforeseen element to getting a motorcycle is that it’s a whole new lifestyle. It’s not just something you buy. It’s a new way of thinking.

The initial idea behind getting a bike was something like this — I want to be capable of showing up somewhere and performing/cocreating for hours with nothing more than a backpack full of trinkets. I’m a magician that prefers to work out of pockets. I’m a musician that beatboxes (tied with voice for most portable instrument ever) and plays harmonica. I perform spoken word poetry. I like to dance. With a pack of cards, a coin, and a harp, I could easily do an hour set (Granted, my music muscles have shriveled since turning my attention full-time to magic. But it’s one of my favorite ways to keep myself company, and I imagine I’ll be doing a lot of it on the way down South). Basically, I’m passionately pursuing potent portable performance.

I appreciate adaptability and agility, things that pack light & play big. I don’t need a whole lot of gear, and since getting into street theater, I now know there’s always venues to perform at. A motorcycle seemed to be the missing puzzle piece. I hadn’t been considering it seriously, though, until experiencing the most unusual dream almost two years ago.

I hadn’t been dreaming much at the time, but I had awoken early one morning after vividly experiencing the sensation flying across a desert highway on a motorcycle. It was early evening, yellow & red shared the sky with purple & blue, sun on the left & to the right, the moon. The grey asphalt whizzed below me as my body shook to the vibrations of the machine. Fully free.

When I awoke, I was on my right side with my ear pressed into my pillow, which was loudly emanating the sounds of a motorcycle engine. I lay still for a moment, listening to confirm the humming was the sound I thought it was, before lifting my head up & looking at the pillow. The sound did not dampen as I sat up, & I realized I was having audio hallucinations that carried over from the dream. Never have I had anything similar to that happen. I got up & wrote a page about motorcycles. And now it feels really really good to be riding, and it feels really great to have made a dream a reality.

I’m learning every day that there are more sides to the dream than I was aware of. Under a few time constraints, I’m hoping to be back in New Orleans before the end of September. Now, mind you, I wasn’t sure if I was going to get a bike before I returned to NOLA or after, buying one down there. Circumstances have placed me in a position where I could either sell the bike for profit before flying back, or I could embark on a 3,000+ mile adventure. Being someone that prefers living my edge, I chose to take the untrodden path & take the trip.

I’ve got a month to cram motorcycle repair/maintenance knowledge & experience (10x better than any exam I took in college), gather touring gear (luggage/camping), gather riding gear (I’ll feel much more safe with armor on), and ensure my mount is in top-shape.

That’s a sliver of what I’ve learned about bikes in the first two weeks of ownership.

What I’ve learned about Magic: The first month of working Pike Place market on Sundays (The only day the close the street for pedestrian sidewalk) gave me pretty high hopes for my career as a street magician. I covered all my costs (no rent at the moment, but definitely exploring Seattle expenses), and still managed to put a few hundred (in $1’s) in the bank, working 4 5-hour days in the month, with no more than five stray hours on the street during the rest of the month.

The environment had been perfect. My half-circle show was struggling on the sidewalk-restricted busking locations, crowd control becoming a big issue. With the streets shut down, I was loving walking into the fray, flapping my arms & sending a social ripple through the crowd by yelling “Settle down, settle down everyone, it’s ok, I’m here now.” (Credit: Jimmy Talksalot). Fat hats, great practice running through the script of the show & working on crowd control. Had me feeling pretty confident.

Notice, “had”. The last two Sundays, through a combination of lack of sleep and stagnation of show, my hats had dropped a bit. The crowds were short with the attention spans, long with the stinginess. Some of the shows had great crowds, til my magic hat made them vanish at the end of the show. I could feel myself getting bored with my routine, it was starting to bleed into my performance, & I knew it was time to start experimenting more. Last week, I met with a magician that works a few of the cruiselines that dock in Seattle, & it was really great to pick his brain over what I consider to be one of magic’s dreamjobs. The number one piece of advice he wanted me to glean from our meeting was “Try something new in every repetition of your show. It can be as tiny as a reworded joke, but do something different every time.”

I also know I need to be working at least 4 or 5 days a week. I plan on spending much of my last month in the NW staying in Seattle, & will use the small designated performance spaces as a good kick in the ass to put together a sidewalk show. My magi mentor always advocated “Head towards the pain.”, so I suppose it’s time I pretended I got a real job, & start working the hours of one.

I am looking forward to tomorrow, I’ll be taking the KLR to Redmond before bussing into town (two $47 loading-zone parking tickets last weekend put a hole in my hat =/ ). However, I planned on getting to bed two hours ago.. Which brings me to my final point..

What I’ve learned about Blogging: If you’re gonna do it, do it frequently. There’s a lot that I’ve missed in this, but I’m tired & have to get rested for tomorrow. This is far too long of a post, but it helps lay the foundation. Besides, it’s good for me. I consider myself a wordsmith, and I need a nice consistent workout other than my notebook. From now on, I’ll be doing my best to keep this blog (and my bike!) well maintained.

Peace, <3, & =),

-Niko