Thursday, April 28, 2011

Really?! Honestly?! (or the overuse of an interrobang)

interrobang... just for the record, you know...

Anyway, on to the things that make me raise my eyebrows in stunned disbelief of what my eyes are very plainly telling me is true:
This is a spider.  This is a spider in my house.  This is a spider in my kitchen trying to kill me when I clean the cat boxes.  Ok, the last sentence may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I did find this... lovely...creature lurking beneath the cat boxes, just waiting to jump out and cause me to flail myself onto one of the many sharp objects in that very same kitchen.  What is it with the arachnids of late!? Why can I only see 7 of its legs--a fact that I didn't notice when I ran screaming, like the ninny I am, from the spider to go fetch my camera and take pictures of it before I eventually squished it... because I'm cruel and vicious where these critters are concerned.  Anyway, I didn't notice it's disturbing lack of a leg until just now... which reminds me that the only evidence I have that I did any harm to the first spider this year who tried to kill me was a long dangling leg left upon my car's window... thingy. Is this spider a messenger?!  It's not the same spider, because that spider was little and grey and this one is large and black and brown and even ookier despite it's lack of the tell-tale arachnid leg #8... But I am still haunted by that day!  This spider brings a message of woe and distruction!  He/She is trying to warn me that the arachnid community is out to get me... you remember the one in my Sun Chips?  That was probably a message from some strange spider mafia too...

On a completely un-related note--
I own the majority of the clothes in this household.  I have categorically more clothes than my husband.  So why is it that every load of laundry that comes out of the washer/dryer is 85% his clothes!?  The math just doesn't add up.  Eventually, there should be many many loads of laundry comprised solely of my clothes, and yet that never seems to happen.  I fish through every basket, looking for things to cover my nudity and am constantly surprised at the lack of suitable things for me to wear.  And why is my closet not empty by now!?  I'm not going out and buying new clothes every week.  Is my closet some mysterious cornucopia of clothes that I don't really like so it always looks full no matter how much I wear or take out, try on, then throw in the dirty hamper, or on the bed, or on the dresser!?  It sounds like a good deal, but it just means the unlimited ability to create laundry that doesn't seem to get washed...

Ok, so that's what I've got right now... spiders & laundry...
Have you lost your mind, world?!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


I don't have anything cohesive or thematic to talk about today. Well, I do, but it hasn't percolated enough to be presentable, which, if you've read any of my other ramblings, you know means it's in such a state of disastrous disarray that only monkeys and idiot savants could decipher or appreciate it. Once it becomes something resembling normal human thought, I'll get it out here.

For now, I'm just going to ramble about the things running through my mind in a vaguely stream-of-consciousness sort of way. Be amused or not, at your own risk.

I've realized that I wear a lot more pink in the spring than I do during other seasons. This is partly because it is a springy-type color, but I mostly blame the fact that for 12 or so hours a day every Saturday and Sunday I'm wearing all of the most obnoxious pinks known to mankind in a semi-homogeneous mélange of ruffles and lace. You'd think I'd get sick of pink. I thought I would. In the beginning, I was very worried about wearing bright pinks. I thought that it would clash with my reddish hair, since I don't have Molly Ringwald red hair to be Pretty in Pink, but I guess there's enough blonde in my dirty copper that it works. So, all this pink on the weekends has led to an abundance of pink accessories--jewelry, hair shmutz and all that falderal. Somewhere along the way, I started buying real clothes to match the accessories, not just accessories to match the costume. I decided that I could wear pink in the real world and now it's everywhere. I'm not going out of my way to overload my closet with pink, but I seem to be gravitating towards it more frequently now that it's become part of my life with Queen Anne's Lace.

Today I'm wearing my gladiator sandals and it makes me feel like I could take on the world, or maybe a lion, or maybe just a house cat who has a lion-ish look about them. After all, I am not a really grrr type of girl. I'm frilly and prissy and break nails with alarming frequency. I can lift some heavy things and do manual labor when called upon, but physical strength has never been a defining characteristic. This is one of my giraffish traits. Awkward.

This is how I feel today.

So, Pandora introduced me to Beats Antique the other day and I bought one of their albums and have been listening to it while I do stuff around the house, which leads to a lot of random dancing and gyrating, which seems to keep the cats and dog well amused. They're kind of like a funkier version of Wine and Alchemy, whom I also enjoy and you should check out both of them if you like that kind of stuff... world-ish, belly-dance, fiddles and bouzoukis and drums and stuff...

Some people stare out car windows looking for good places to hide bodies. I try to see as far as I can into the distance and then build towns, worlds, soap operas and fantasy fictions out there... that is when I'm not re-writing the words to whatever song I'm listening to into a parody to fit my mood... that is if I'm not singing along to the song...that is if I'm not rambling inanely to the driver... because all of this is passenger-seat behavior you know.

That is all for today. Maybe by Thursday I'll have come up with a real post, but for now, this is how it's gonna be.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Tales of Arachnid Woe, Part OMG

So, after my last brush with death via spider, I thought I was done with arachnid horror stories for at least a couple of months.  I was WRONG!

Like lots of stories that happen at our faire, this one starts with: Non merde, there I was...

backstage, having second breakfast.  Second breakfast is a very important part of my faire day.  Actual breakfast usually happens sometime around 6:30, so by the time the gate opens and it's time to face the general public, I've burned through whatever protein, carbs, sugar and caffeine I started my day with.  Traditionally, second breakfast is either a scone or sausage roll from The Bakery, or a hard boiled egg.  On this particular day, I opted for the egg.

So... there I was, egg in hand.  And just as a sort of extended side note, is there any general consensus on the proper way to boil an egg so that the results are a) easy to peel, 2) not tinged with green, and D) fully cooked through the middle?  I've heard and tried so many different variations with no consistent results.  I've put cold eggs in cold water and room temperature eggs in room temperature water.  I've brought them to a quick boil, a slow boil, an apathetically timed boil.  I've boiled them for few minutes and many minutes. I've rinsed them in cold water or left them to sit in their own hot water.  I've added salt or vinegar to the water. I've watched the pot and ignored the pot and told the pot sweet stories of the noble eggs that have gone before... anyway, it's a source of consternation that I cannot fathom the correct method to be able to reproduce results that are good.

But back to the breakfast in question, which was my second of the day.  So, with my hard boiled eggs, I like salt.  Usually just sort of sprinkled on the egg, however, those wise and colorful ladies with whom I most often share my second breakfast have improvised an innovative solution that allows me to justify potato chips for breakfast.  Yes, indeed--just use the salt on the chips instead of sprinkling it on the egg.  Brilliant!  On this day, I decided to rebel even further and skip the potato chips and go straight to the Sun Chips, a decision that I would soon regret with every fiber of my not-insubstantial being.

**whew** deep breath... even the retelling is stressful...

Ok, I'm ready to go on.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Compliments from strangers

There is this thing that happens to me when I'm out and about doing things in the world, and I've been trying to find the words for it for quite some time. Recently, my friend wrote about the difference between being pretty and being beautiful. I'd never been able to put into words what she expressed but it is very true. I like to think that when I'm wandering abour the world, that I see glimpses of people's beautiful--complete strangers usually.

There is a running commentary in my head of all the things I see. Sometimes it's snarky. Sometimes I tell myself stories about the people I see as I'm running errands. Sometimes it's compliments I can't (or don't or won't) give because... it's weird.

I mean, it's always nice to hear that you look nice, right? And sometimes it's nice to hear you look nice from random strangers in the grocery store... or is it? And if there were a scrolling marquis of all the thoughts in my head on my forehead...well, that's a thought too horrible to contemplate, but if it just put the nice things up there... would it be good for people to know that I think they're lovely?

My un-scientifically tested and just-now-realized rule is that I will usually compliment accessories but not people when it comes to my random stranger-watching ways. It seems safer and less awkward to tell the lovely lady in line in front of me that I like her shoes than to say that I think her skin is the most beautiful color I've ever seen. Complimenting a stranger on their earrings or shirt is easier than saying that I like their freckles.

Why is that? Why is it safer to compliment the things, not the person? Is it just weird to think that there are so many points of beauty in all these passers by? Or is it just weird when you say something about it? I wonder if it's because there is some sort of group consensus that while we see one another and thus we make ourselves presentable in public, that there's also a level of invisibility conferred by body language. I don't want to interrupt someone trying to decide which cereal to buy to tell them that they've got great hair. It's intrusive.

I guess it's easier to compliment people on the things they had a hand in chosing or creating. Not that lots of us don't spend plenty of time and energy on our skin and hair and teeth and what-not, but most of us don't do much about the color of our eyes, or skin (unless you're the tanning type, which as a pasty white girl I am not). That may be the one that catches my attention most often--the beautiful colors that people come in. Oh, it sounds so cheesy and trite when I say it, even to myself, but it's true! There aren't the right words to describe the colors of women (and it's usually women that catch my eye) that I see, and as of this date I haven't figured out a kind, politically correct and non-offensive way to tell someone that they are a pretty color. I've tried multiple variations of the same comment in my head, and it never comes out right.

But I hope they know that they are beautiful though. I hope someone tells them that. I mean, that's what your friends are for, right? To be the voice of encouragement and tell you when everything is going right and you may not see, notice or remember that even on your worst days you still have amazing eyelashes, even if that doesn't solve the problems that make you want to cry? Also to tell you that yellow isn't your color or that the cute little bob that one friend got isn't the best haircut for you... I mean, we rely on our friends for that. Beauty is important. It may be superficial at times and temporary... but that's part of why it's valuable. Spring and summer are glorious explosions of color and we know they don't last and we still enjoy it. Fall and winter have their beauty too. I'm rambling and getting schmoobly and philosophical which wasn't necessarily my intent. I just think the world is full of great hair and good lipstick and pretty eyes.

My friends (hopefully) have gotten used to my random comments about stuff like that. Because I know them, I don't feel shy about telling them about they're lovely hair, eyes, skin, smile as well as their impeccable taste in accessories and what not. Did you know that most of my friends have super-soft skin? And they smell good. Weird that I know this? Maybe. I'm a toucher. I like to touch everything in the stores and when I'm with my friends, I want to be near them. I have non-touch friends, and that's ok too. I don't feel slighted or offended by hands-off people. I don't understand it, but I don't have to understand it to respect it. But this isn't about personal space bubbles* and all that.

I don't understand my need to tell people about the things I think. I mean, after all, what is this
blog for other than spewing my opinions all over the internet? But it's rare that I go out and about in the world and don't see someone or something that makes me want to stop a stranger and tell them that I like their __________. I know I'm not a unique and special snowflake so it must happen to other people too. In fact, I know it happens with my friends, because when we're out together, we can share it with each other. "Oh! Look at her eyeshadow! Isn't it amazing?" etc. etc. etc.

I'm not really sure what my point is, or that I even had one to begin with. Like I said, it's something that I've been thinking about for a while, and maybe I should have waited until the thoughts coalesced before trying to put them out there, but that seems like something that a rational and patient person would do, and you should all know by now that I am rarely either of those things. So the bottom line, as it stands, is that there are lots of people in the world that I'd like to compliment because I just like stuff about them, like their hair or skin or whatnot, but I don't because it's weird, so I settle for complimenting them on shoes or accessories. And I take it out on my friends and compliment them whenever I feel like it because I can.

*My good friend, The Diva, says that her personal space bubble is about half an inch beneath her skin.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Inside the studio, which happens to be the computer room...

After watching yet another bizarre movie in my strange quest to complete the IMDB checklist for one Mr. Muphy*, I was struck by a quote.

From "Watching the Detectives"
Niel: You know, I heard that chicks dig musicians...
Violet: No, Magicians! We go nuts for magicians. Clean the wax out of your ears.

Which of course got me thinking of how cool magicians are and how I totally had a crush on David Copperfield, but eventually I mentally wandered back to the scene in the movie I had just watched where the slightly geeky video-store owner puts on a (rather impressive) one-man rock show to impress the object of his affections, and the assumption that chicks do, in fact, dig musicians. Which made me think of that part in High Fidelity... you know the one, where they're at the show watching Denise Huxtable sing "Baby, I love your way"?

From "High Fidelity"
Barry: I wanna date a musician.
Rob Gordon: I wanna live with a musician. She'd write songs at home and ask me what I thought of them, and maybe even include one of our little private jokes in the liner notes.
Barry: Maybe a little picture of me in the liner notes.
Dick: Just in the background somewhere.

So there, in some words, is sort of the idealized view of what it's like to live with a musician. Of course, I was completely sold on the idea of dating and living with a musician, ideally for the rest of my life. I think my friend Andrew was probably quite influential in keeping that dream alive, because he is a musician who writes songs and once asked me what I thought of them (though I never made it into the liner notes in any fashion). That overly-romanticized idea of the creative process and the inherent coolness of living with a musician was very real in my brain.

Of course, I did marry a musician. Not that kind of musician though. Not a song-writing type. A folk musician. Which, if you were to go so far as to describe me as a musician or vocalist, which would be totally weird to me, even though I am and do sing, in public, for money, I would be classified as a folk singer as well... I think... anyway, the point is, there is no song-writing happening at our house, except for the filking kind.

Living with a musician involves a lot less moonlight composition sessions in picture windows that
end in soft-lit romantic encounters and a lot more singing, humming, whistling, noodling, and practicing songs or more accurately, bits of songs, and generally the same bit over and over again for days on end until someone finally explodes in a fit of pique and there may or may not be the throwing of pillows, socks, or other soft objects that happen to be handy. It's not a one sided thing either. I may have nearly lost my mind while my darling husband was trying to learn "Phil the Fluther's Ball" but he's also had to put up with his fare share of me muttering the ending line of "The Sigh that Heaves the Grasses" because I know my part, but only when the rest of the girls I sing with aren't singing their parts.

I'm not saying that we aren't supportive of one another's individual musical pursuits. The hubby comes to see me sing regularly, and I try to make it to his shows when they aren't at the exact same time as my shows. There is lots of support and encouragement on both sides for each of us to thrive and continue with our own particular brand of musical expression. There just also happens to exist a lot of eye-rolling and sighing when one or the other of us is practicing a particular piece. Music is wonderful. Rehearsal isn't nearly as much fun to listen to.

My brilliant and talented husband is also a sound engineer, and as such has recorded, mixed and produced all three of his cds to date... and while I'm not in the liner notes in some obscure personal joke or background photo sort of way, I do get photo credit for the shot that appeared on the back of his second cd, because I took it on our honeymoon, in a real Irish pub, where he played real Irish music** with real Irish musicians in a real Irish jam session and someone mistook me for a real Irish girl. It was awesome.

I'm sure there are plenty of people out there who live with the song-writing kind of musicians who don't mind the sound of rehearsal and maybe even have soft-lit romantic encounters after moonlight compositions... "your mileage may vary" and all that jazz. Here in the land of Irish folk musicians with more stringed instruments than I can count, spell, or properly pronounce, things are a little different. There is still a lot of singing along with the radio, creating harmonies and arguing over who has to sing the melody, but more giggling and laughter, less meaningful glances across tension-filled rooms, which may have as much to do with us as people as it does the kind of musicians we are.

Again, your mileage may vary.

* I know Temerity Jane once set out to watch all the Colin Firth movies listed on IMDB, and sometime in the summer of 2000 I decided that I would watch everything that Ewan McGregor had starred in, and that was likewise a long and strange journey. You'd think I'd have learned my lesson, but not yet...

**Surprisingly similar to the stuff to be found at most renaissance festivals

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A rose by any other name would still be anonymous

So, now that I've told you about the Faire thing in more detail, I'm going to tell you about flowers and mugs.

My job at the festival is to entertain the people who pay money to walk through the gates, eat the food, see the shows and shop until they drop. That's the job of all the 100+ members of the performing company, that we refer to as "the cast." We bust our butts, sweat buckets, laugh until we cry, and generally leave all of our hearts and energy out in the lanes to entertain those 10,000 people a day who walk through our gate.

Our cast isn't a leaderless band of hooligans and rabble-rousers. We have a leader. That leader has many jobs, most of which I know nothing about. Honestly, I'd like to keep it that way. One of the jobs that I do know a little about is the picking of the "Character of the Day." It's kinda like being chosen MVP for a day. It's the Oscar of our faire... only instead of a golden statue, we get a special mug. Instead of an acceptance speech, we lead the cast in a short physical warm up.

So, during out morning meeting, the Director (our leader) makes some announcements, says some stuff, then tells us about the performer who has been chosen--what they did that caught the attention of the Director. It's a fun time for the cast as we play a mental guessing game to try to figure out who is being described, because the name of the performer is always the last detail given. Again, like an Oscar, the Director verbally gives us the "highlight clip" for that performer. Anyway, it's a fun thing. Just like the Oscars, there can be drama about getting or not getting a mug, but in the end, most people have a pretty good attitude about it. As a cast, we like to celebrate our friends when they do well, and just like an Oscar doesn't make a movie good, neither does a mug make a performer better--it's still nice to be recognized for the work you do.

Anyway, enough about the mugs. They're nice, but they're really just the backdrop for what I really want to talk about. A 350-word preamble, if you will.

There is another recognition-thank you-thingy that happens each day as well. It's sneaky, unofficial and anonymous. It's a yellow rose. This yellow rose is delivered by one of the festival rose sellers, usually fairly early in the day, and with it is a little unsigned note that says simply, "A day without laughter is a day wasted. Thank you for being my personal character of the day." The note is attached to the rose with a little blue ribbon, and that's all there is to it.

Only, that's not all there is to it. It's such a sweet, personal gesture. The mug is public and comes with a nice words from your boss, and a happy-hour style toast at the end of the day with your peers. The rose is... quiet and intimate and wonderful in its own special way. Once you know it's out there, if you see cast members with a yellow rose, you ask, "Is that the thing?" Usually they smile and blush a little, and say yes, and it's neat. I don't know if I even have the right words to tell you how awesome it is to get that rose. I was lucky enough to get one my third season, and to this day it's still one of my favorite memories. I know that some people know who the mysterious rose-sender is. I know it's someone who is or was on cast who knows the meaning of the mug and wanted to say their own kind of kudos or thank you. Beyond that, I don't know, and I don't really want to know. I wouldn't cry if I found out but I don't spend any time agonizing about it either. The sender wants to be anonymous, so I let them be anonymous. The note and the thought are what counts and made my day and hopefully the sender got to see that and know that their efforts brought joy. I believe in the power of anonymity in these situations, so that the giving of the good stuff is selfless and stuff. Not that anonymity in and of itself is always good... it's like fire. It can be good, it can hurt people...

And THAT 350 words was brought up in my brain by the fact that I got a completely different anonymous rose this past weekend. At the end of the day Saturday, right before we get to the sing-the-song-fire-the-cannon-go-home part, a rose seller came and gave me this beautiful coral-ly red rose, with the pale outside to the petals and the vibrant inside, so the rose looks two colors... you know what I mean? Anyway, it was lovely. And I just sort of assumed it was from my husband, because he sends me flowers once in a while, and he knew I'd had a sort of rough week, so... yeah. Assumption made, but I asked the rose-deliverer anyway and he said the rose was from "Anonymous" with the message "I love you." Ok, fine. Still probably my husband, but being...subtle... or something. Whatever. A rose is a rose and it was lovely. I said my thank you to the rose seller and told him to tell the sender thank you as well, and that I probably loved them too. You know, it's possible. There are lots of people that I love and lots of them happen to work with me out at Faire, and all the people that I could think of who would send me a flower out there definitely fall in the category of "people I would gladly and willing share a meal with in my house" which is a kind of love that defines my friends.

So, the day ends, there is a shower and changing into clean clothes, then some tailgating and when I see my husband next, I give him a kiss and tell him thank you. He, smart man that he is, says "You're welcome. For what?"

Logical question, he does lots of great things for me, especially on a faire day. "For the rose," says I. There is a pause, where I can see the gears in his brain turning as he ponders whether to take credit or fess up.

"What rose?" says he.

Uh-oh. Huh... puzzled look on both of our faces. He didn't send the rose... now I really want to know who did! Do I love them? Did I send some poor floral messenger with a false declaration of affection? Probably not. I probably do have a great deal of admiration and devotion to whomever was kind enough to send me a flower, because I'm not exactly the kind of person to whom random growing things are given, so it's probably from one of my friends. And yet, my brain kept turning the puzzle over and over in my head. I re-ran the conversations I had with everyone about the arrival and mystery of the flower, looking for clues as to the identity of the mystery gifter. Who could it be? Why the mystery? WHAT'S GOING ON HERE? I wore the rose all day Sunday, hoping for more hints, for a look, a glance, a revealing smile that would tell me who had been so kind to me. I was maybe a little nicer to all my friends and everyone that I thought might possibly have been involved, just in case, but the mystery was still bugging me...

Then I remembered the yellow rose and the truth that I believed about the anonymity of that floral-favor-sender. I stretched my brain a bit to extend the same faith and grace to the sender of my pretty "I love you" rose. Not only did the rose itself make me happy, it caused a little extra kindness to be shared with the people I came in contact to. All in all, not a bad outcome at all.

So, I lay it to rest. If, perhaps, the gifter of said rose knows my Beanishness, then I say to them, "Thank you." If not, hopefully they saw and were pleased with my pleasure at their kindness and thoughtfulness.

Like my husband, who found the little rose bud, half dried in his car and tucked it into my car for me to find the next morning... now it sits on my dash as a reminder that I am loved and that I can continue to be loving in return to all those around me, even anonymously.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Buddy, It's a Ren Faire.

To the tune of "We Will Rock You"
words by my very talented friends, not me

Buddy, it's a ren faire
you can get a beer there
find someone to braid your hair
and paint your face

they got henna tattoos
games to win or lose
minstrels on the stage
rockin' renaissance blues

Weekend, Weekend Ren Fair!

Summer, 1995.  Bristol Renaissance Faire/Festival/Thing.  My mom & I went to go shopping and see stuff, which is what you do at these sorts of things.  I got my face painted and bought a dried flower wreath for my head.  I was 14 and impressionable, loved theatre and playing dress up, so it was a perfect diversion for me.  My mom & I did not wear costumes.  We shopped, maybe saw some shows, but that's it.  I don't remember much about the people who worked there other than the fact that they wore costumes.  I had a great time, and everyone I knew told me I should work at a renaissance festival.  It seemed like the perfect job for me--drama, costumes, make-believe... but I had no idea how to get started finding out how to get involved, and with my particular lack of ambition and abundance of enthusiasm for whatever happened to be in front of me, I forgot. 

Each summer, I would make one trip out to the festival.  I would shop, wear my wreath, get the same spray of blue roses painted on my face, eat food, see stuff, and come home happy.  The summer between my junior and senior year I went with a boy whom I had a ridiculous crush on.  I remember buying this ear-cuff & earring set in gold with tiger's eye beads and when I showed this boy, he touched my ear and it was this moment of uber-specialness in my little teenage head... but that is pretty irrelevant to the story at hand.  At least I think it is, because I don't intend to ever tell the story that would feature that particular moment as an important plot point.  No one (including me) enjoys that story.  This is a different story about how I would up able to call myself a semi-professional musician and actor even though I work in a cube 5 days a week... I think that's the story I'm telling.  Anyway, that was my last trip to a renaissance festival for a very long time.

Ok, now we can fast-forward many years to the fall of 2003.  I moved to Texas and my big brother worked* at a renaissance festival, so now I had my connection and my way of knowing how to get started.  He introduced me to his friends who also worked there.  I took a trip with said friends to a festival near Houston that wasn't the festival they worked for and my brother's girlfriend (spoiler alert: he marries her later!) dressed me up in her clothes (even though I'm 6" taller than she is) and I went about in costume for the first time ever.  It was fun!  It was what I thought it would be like--shopping and eating and seeing stuff, in funny clothes.  Then, I got sucked into this crazy card game called "Between the Sheets" which isn't at all as suggestive and naughty as it sounds.  It's sort of like "Truth or Dare" with cards, only there is no "truth" option.  Anyway, I made a ridiculous dare, the cards did not turn out in my favor, so instead of my opponent having to go make a fool of himself, I had to do it instead.  It involved talking a vendor out of a pair of fairy wings, a small child into giving up his Italian ice and convincing him, and his parents, to let me scoop him up and give him a "fairy ride" (like a pony ride, only with a fairy... because I was wearing the wings... but dressed as a pirate, because... well, I just was).  And I did.  And everyone agreed and it happened.  Right there, in front of a pub and a million (or so) people watched me do this crazy thing. 

And it was fun! 

So, when January rolled around, I auditioned for the festival that was much nearer to where I lived, and where my brother and all his friends (who were becoming my friends) worked.  I made it.  I had NO CLUE what I was doing, what I had agreed to do, or what I was really in for.  After 7 weekends of rehearsals where a lot of kind, knowledgeable people stuffed my brain full of information on improvisational acting, street theatre, the history & customs of 1533 England and how to create an easily identifiable character in 2.5 seconds, I still had no idea what I was doing or how to spend my day.  I thought I knew, but I didn't know.  I wasn't sure.  I was horribly mistaken about the nature of my performance and what my day would consist of.  Then for 8 more weekends, I talked to strangers.  I said random stuff and embodied this character who was basically me, in funny clothes, and let other performers show me what it was all about.  I got the hang of it.  I liked it a lot! 

My friends and I created this other world where we invited grown-ups to play like kids again.  We asked them to pretend with us.  We told them they were characters in our game of make-believe and they played along.  I'm not kidding.  You can do that.  You can walk up to strangers and get them to play a game that you just made up in which the rules always change and there is no such thing as a wrong answer. 

That was 8 years ago.  I'm still doing that, along with many of my friends and some family too.  I also have become one of the friendly, well-informed people who teaches other people how to do this: talk to strangers in an engaging way that will leave a positive and lasting impression.  I sing on a stage and ask for tips too.  It's hard to believe sometimes that this is my life.

For the past 7 years, I've kept a list of "what I learned" statements from the weekends.  This includes such gems as "Always pee BEFORE the Tart Show" and "The best thing to take off twelve-hour lipstick is fried chicken."  This year, I haven't been as diligent.  It's not because I haven't learned things, but because I haven't made the time to put it into words yet.  This is sort of the distillation of what I've learned about why I keep doing this.  The simple answer is because it's fun.  The complicated answer is because it's fun and there's no where else to do this particular kind of thing. 

So come see me!

*On the weekends, because this is a weekend only gig.  The faire is only open Saturday and Sunday.  He worked another job during the week as well, as does the rest of the cast, which is different from the people who make their living doing this, traveling from place to place.  I mean, some of them work on the weekdays too, making and selling and doing stuff, but they travel to lots of places to do that, and the cast is generally local people who just do this kind of thing on the weekend, instead of like as a full-time livelihood...

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Musical Cosmetics

It should be no surprise to anyone, anywhere that I like make up. I do. My husband might spend 82% of his allowance on Chipotle every month, but if I'm not careful, I can spend 110% of mine in one trip to Sephora.

Long ago, I decided that my dream job was being the person who names colors. I wanted to work for Crayola and all the cosmetics companies, because I'm fairly sure they don't really know what color lilac or lavender is because they keep mistakenly labeling things that fall firmly in the mauve-to-fuchsia range as "Lovely Lilac" or "Frosted Lavender." Seriously people... get with the program!

Some of my favorite make up ever is from Urban Decay. I love them because they have bold, highly pigmented colors (like Make Up Forever and M.A.C.), pretty packaging (unlike Make Up Forever and M.A.C.) and fabulously creative names (like M.A.C., unlike Make Up Forever). I recently received this as a gift from my husband.
look at all the colors!
It's an amazing set of 15 eyeliners with beautiful names like Bourbon, Ransom, Asphyxia, Rockstar and Uzi. Those are names that I love... I have glitter gel eyeliners, also Urban Decay, called Distortion and Spandex. So, there is this beautiful blend of wild colors, wild packaging and wild names. I won't lie--I make a bee-line for the Urban Decay counter every time I set foot in Sephora. I rarely buy stuff, because it takes a lot for me to justify some of the colors that I love (where am I going to wear lime green sparkly eye shadow?*), but I always ogle their products.

Anyway, the other day as I was driving and listening to my music at a possibly ridiculous volume with my sunroof open, which never happens because I kind of loathe being in direct sunlight, I was struck by an idea. (And it hurt!)

I should combine my love of make up with my love of music and throw caution and copyright protection out the window to create my own line of musical make up. Not make up that sings or anything, but is named after my favorite songs, lyrics, albums, bands, instruments, etc. Then I spent the rest of my drive flipping around songs on my iPod thinking up what would make good make up names. This is what I've got so far, and I think this is a dream that will keep me happily entertained for years! It's so much fun trying to figure out the perfect color and application for everything. Feel free to share your favorite band/song/lyric that you'd like to put on your face in the comments!

Achtung Baby--silver glitter eye shadow
Supermassive Black Hole--Classic black eyeliner
Subterranian Homesick Alien--pale green eyeliner
Transatlanticism--rich blue cream eye liner
Get Over It--anti-everything cleanser (for wrinkles & acne & dry skin & oily skin & whatever else)
Again I Go Unnoticed--fabulous, hardworking, all-day concealer
Sha-Sha--warm golden beige eyeshadow
1,000 Stories--rich red-black lipstick
Star Turtle--mossy green eyeshadow
Like A Feather--light, all-day SPF moisturizer
Helter Skelter--dark red-brown lipstick
Electric Pink--sweet pink blush
Barracuda-- black eyeliner with silver flecks
Gimme Gimme Gimme--candy pink lip gloss
Too Funky--Royal purple sparkly eyeshadow
Tainted Love--blue-black eyeshadow
Another Innocent Girl--pale pink "all over" face powder
Age Six Racer--Waterproof mascara
Get it Faster--quick drying nail polish in RED
Neon Tom--bright pink lip gloss

Seriously, I could just keep going, but I'll stop here and go grab breakfast!

*Turns out, I wore it on Mardi Gras

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Things I (probably) won't name my hypothetical future child

EDIT: Automatic updating works a heck of a lot better when you remember to put the correct DATE in the scheduled field... just a tip for the wise!

I've been fascinated with names for quite a while. Maybe it's an egotistical thing because I think my name is fairly unique and awesome. I remember asking my mom about how my name was picked when I was quite young and pondering what my life would be different if they'd gone with Dad's first choice (Megan or Jennifer, I think). I like knowing people's middle names and seeing how that changes the sound of their name in my head... which isn't to say that names have some sort of power over us as humans. We can rise above, beyond, beside (and other prepositions) our names, but as we go through life, we develop certain ideas about certain names. "Bob" is different than "Bartholomew" and when you hear those names you picture a type of person. That impression can be broken, but it still exists.

When I worked for a pediatrician's office, I got to see an astonishing number of spellings for common names, as well as a slew of uncommon names. When someone tells me that their baby's name is spelled "the usual way" I always ask for clarification. Ashley, Ashlee, Ashleigh? Candy, Candi, Kandi? Michaela, Michayla, Mikayla? Aaron, Erin? Steven, Stephen? Michelle, Meshell? I'm not even making this stuff up... it all happened!

We had a little boy named Lord as a patient, two boys named God's Power (one of whom had a brother and sister named God's Time and God's Will), and even a baby Linnea (who had blonde hair and blue eyes, like every other Linnea I've ever met in my whole life, which is 4). I know gents named Shannon and Kelly, but at that office I was introduced to girls named Ryan and Hunter, which led to the very awkward but necessary question in the "new patient" line-up: So, baby boy or girl? Oh man, the times I heard their answer followed by a snotty "obviously!" *sigh* fun times...

Still, my favorite baby name by far comes from the lovely Ndinjiakat family. That's pronounced "Ninja-Cat". Yeah, it is. I asked. Wonderful family: very polite when scheduling, always on time to their appointments. I liked them. When I joined the staff, they had a little boy named Samuel with big dark eyes and eyelashes for miles. So, Sam Ndinjiakat. Great name, but one he was born into. Then... then it happened. They had a baby girl, also with dark eyes and eyelashes for miles. And her name? Princess. Oh yeah. Princess Ndinjiakat. PRINCESS NINJA CAT! If she doesn't grow up to be a superhero, I'm gonna be disappointed!

Anyway, all that is the preamble to the fact that I have some thoughts and ideas about baby names.

Though it should go without saying, I'll say it anyway: These are just my opinions, subject to change at a moment's notice without further notice, explanation, justification or rationale. I'm not making allegations, assumptions or ridiculing (most of ) the names listed below, nor any specific persons you may or may not know with those names. If you like them, awesome! If you think they'd make great names for your future kids, hooray! Have at! Besides, don't let me influence your decision, unless you are my husband, in which case, this should totally influence your decisions. But just him. The rest of you can make your own decisions because you are, I think, grown ups*.

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