Tuesday, April 12, 2011
artfest from my POV
I had every intention of taking photos this year at Artfest to document the retreat from my perspective but alas...no photos at all...never had time. So I thought I would try explaining it.
It starts on sunday night with the new york guys flying in (Brian and Justin). These are Tracy's friends who fly in on their own dime to help us manage artfest. They are awesome. On monday, we had another helper friend (Jacob) to pick up from the train station (from portland) and then we headed back to the airport to pick up Stephen who flies up from Los Angeles. Monday night we had a huge birthday party for our daughter Trista who usually has to celebrate AT artfest because of when her birthday falls (april 4th). To say it was alot of activity right before my busiest time of year is an understatement. But it all went down awesomely and Trista thanked me profusely for taking the time to plan something the night before artfest.
Artfest, for us, begins on tuesday. We finish packing out 7 vehicles with all the stuff we have to bring with us, and head to seattle by 8:30am to catch the 9:35 ferry. I give ferry money to all the drivers and hope everyone makes it on. we arrive in port townsend around 11:15am and grab a quick bowl of soup at Aldrich's market. They have a little old japanese woman who makes the sushi and the 4 soups (which change daily). It is, without a doubt, the best soup ever. We look forward to eating it when we come to town. Then we all meet at the fort at noon to start unpacking boxes, cutting the 357 sheets of butcher paper we'll need and start a production line to wrap and assemble the goody bags and the treats. We set up the store, the gallery and registration. At 3:00, I get the keys and everyone takes a break and checks into their house (4e and 4w...12 rooms in all). We ask that they come right back to the commons to keep working. I know...we are task masters, but they don't complain. We work up until 5:30 and then we all take off for dinner in town. There are 18 of us in all. Tracy's mom, sister, niece, 2 nephews, our 2 daughters, trista's new boyfriend, trista old boyfriend, 2 attendees who have attached themselves to our group (but work their butts of for us), the 4 guys I mentioned earlier, the guy who lives above us at the loft who asked if he could help this year and tracy and I. It's a great crew. We went to McClain's this year for fresh fish and chips. The owner was awesome and the food was delicious although not the healthiest. after dinner, we all make a pit stop at safeway for snacks, water and beer. I call it a night at 9am. the next day is the most grueling and I'm already feeling achy and tired.
wednesday starts with bagels and cream cheese all around. There is a new bagel shop in town called metro bagels that is really good (although I like Bob's bagels sold only on fridays alot better). Then half our crew take off with rolls of butcher paper and blue masking tape in hand to paper the 357 tables we use in the classrooms. It is a pretty daunting task. The rest of us finish up the registration room, posting signs, getting the keys and putting all the keys in all the packets (a 2-hour, back breaking job). We all run to house 4e to have sandwiches for lunch that my mother-in-law and sister-in-law have prepared for the gang. whew...I think we are ready for people to register at 3:00. I wish I could open up registration earlier but the fort has threatened us that if we give anyone a key before 3, we will lose our 11am key-getting priviledges. We can't risk that. 3:00 rolls around and there is a line of ladies with happy faces patiently waiting. I spend the rest of the afternoon dealing with minor problems with registrations, meals, accommodations and workshops. All-in-all, nothing major that I can't solve except for one family who needed a house with a downstairs bathroom for their elderly mom who was with them. They failed to tell me that when they signed up and of course all houses were taken (and most were moved into) by the time I found this out. They were going to try to live with it. I look at my watch and it is 5:30...time for dinner. I have all my crew take shifts to go get some food in the cafeteria and eat fast! Tracy and I never get dinner. the next thing I know, it is 6:50. Our meeting starts at 7:00. I run out the door with speech in hand, straighten my hair in the car on the way down to the meeting hall and hope I don't look as dishevelled as I feel. We walk in and start talking to the group of 500 attendees. This used to be extremely scary for me, but it feels like one of the easiest things I have to do at the whole retreat now. We introduce the teachers and crew and then a speaker came to talk. I have to say I was very dissappointed with the speaker. She wasn't anyone I knew, she was local and I thought would be a good fit for this crowd. You win some and lose some. I just was relieved to have it end. I made my way back to the commons to check-in all the late attendees and by 9, was locking the commons with a BIG HUGE SIGH. This is always the hardest day of the year for me. I made it through another one.
6:00am rise and shine. Thursday starts with a bang as all the teachers are scurrying to set up for their workshops, the attendees need rides here and there, the crew needs to grab breakfasts in the middle of helping and we are all putting out minor fires here and there. I am working on problems in the office. this person locked a key in their room, this other person lost her badge and can't get meals, this person needs help with their supplies in dorm 225, another teacher forgot an extension cord or needs us to run into town to get her box of supplies that just arrived. It's pretty mad-capped, but again...we get through it miraculously and get everyone tucked into their classrooms by 9am. we go into town (the undertown coffee house) for some much needed caffeine and downtime. Tracy and I dig out our journals and start scribbling while the rest of our crew files in, sits down and starts telling us their stories of fires they put out. I thank them all and genuinely am filled with gratitude for each and every one of them. I'm not quite sure they know how much we rely on them and appreciate them. We look at our watches and realize that we all have stations to be at in 20 minutes when the workshops get out for their lunchbreak. Back we go, but it is a well oiled machine that works pretty good. We make it through lunch and head back into town for more coffee and journaling. this time, much of the crew is taking naps. Only 2 of the crew meet us down there and we have a really good heart to heart talk with one of the guys about his life purpose, girlfriends, work and everything else relevent. It was a good talk for all of us. We head back to the fort to prepare for the evening activities. Thankfully, we already made a schedule for the workers, so they are on it, moving tables for the iron chef artist challenge and starting a bonfire for the journaling party on the beach. The rest are helping the students and teachers at the end of class and our store and office team are answering questions. At 7:00 I know the guys are overseeing the bonfire, roasting weenies and marshmallows and making sure everyone is happy at the beach. Tracy and I are up at the USO hall watching the teachers create something out of a bag of weird stuff. I don't get a chance to see any of the teachers working away due to all the sweet attendees who come to thank me for putting on this event. I'm always touched by all the gratitude. and I love having a few moments to talk to people without someone having a problem I need to solve. The challenge is over so we head to the beach to cook a hot dog over the fire since we didn't get dinner again earlier. We talk to a ton more people before heading back to our little officers house for the night. Tracy drops me off and heads back to the beach to clean up. I hit the sack as soon as I walk in the door and am out like a light.
The next morning I'm leaning over a table straightening some artwork and do something weird and torque my lower back so bad I can't move. I'm in a little bit of a panic since artfest isn't even half over yet. I ice my back. It doesn't seem to give me any relief. I try to move and can barely move my legs. excruciating pain. I can't and won't take advil or other pain killers so I have to rely on natural analgesics. They don't seem to be doing a thing for me. I'm icing every 20 minutes. Meanwhile, Tracy and the crew are handling things without me (hmmm...maybe next year I CAN take a class). I spent most of the day sleeping and feeling really guilty I wasn't working & contributing...but there just was no way. I was able to go oversee vendor night that night but it was all I could do to make the rounds and then go sit down. I went home early and tracy closed the vendor event and handled everything for me. BTW, I was thrilled to see that the vendor event was really well attended. Way more than last year.
Saturday, I was feeling a tiny bit better, enough to go handle issues at the office. As soon as 9am rolled around, we took off for coffee and a walk around the farmer's market in uptown. I love farmers markets and the one in port townsend is a fun one to visit. One trip through it wore me out completely and I went back to the car to rest. Tracy took me back to the fort and I iced my back again. At lunchtime I headed to the office to draw the raffle tickets for the fatbook swap and for the trades collection and to close out the silent auction for all the pieces that were created in the iron chef artists challenge. Between the two, we earned close to $1000 for the scholarship fund that Tracy and I have been setting up. Saturday afternoon, when everyone was tucked into their classes, we ran into town to grab some lunch at hanzano noodle since we missed it at the fort. I was starving so it was a treat. At 6:30pm I was still in major amounts of pain when the show-n-tell started up. I hobbled over to it but was unable to see anything due to more attendees wanting to thank me. They are so fabulous...I really love them all so much and am so thrilled when I hear what a great time they had. There are always tears of joy and lots of hugs and happy faces beaming with pride at what they had made. I hobble out to the car and head over to 4e (the crew house). I was greeted with 2 shots of tequila and a lime wedge. I knew I shouldn't but I did. Then I had 2 more. My mother-in-law microwaved me a plate of leftovers which I downed...but not before providing much entertainment to the crew with my tequila induced brain. Tracy was still at 204 trying to close up the show-n-tell. Poor guy. He was exhausted and hungry and ready to be done. I crashed in bed soon after.
Sunday, we packed up the cars, finished our goodbyes with the remaining attendees, turned in the keys to the fort and paid them (over $100,000.00). Then our whole crew all met at a mexican joint 10 minutes out of town for a last hurrah! Tracy once again thanked them all for their hard work and shared with them all the thanks we received from all the attendees about them. I think there is a feeling you get from volunteering your time because you want to and actually making someone's life better. There is a satisfaction you don't get from anything else. They seem like they got that. They all want to come back (pheww!). We all arrived home around 3pm and just vegged. Donna (tracy's mom) decided to make us all waffles, sausage and eggs for dinner. We slurped it up like none of us had eaten for a week. She is known far and wide for her waffles and I was so thankful to her for providing food for the troupes so I didn't have to. she is the best mother-in-law ever. I crashed after dinner. not sure what the guys did.
By monday morning I was at my (beloved) chiropractor (heather deniston). she wanted to see me this morning as well and again on thursday. but I am finally feeling better. I wrote out the 38 teachers checks yesterday afternoon and got those in the mail (this time, WAY over $100,000.00). It's crazy how much goes out. Another Artfest under my belt (12 to be exact). Next year the dates will be march 28-April 1. and I will do EVERYTHING in my power to keep my back healthy and happy. trust me on that! oh and did I mention...sun the whole time? I'm convinced I have a superpower that can control the weather. Reminds me of a quote from the movie "City of Angels"..."Some things are real whether you believe them or not". ;)