Thursday, June 30, 2011

When I grow up...

I did not start out to be a seamstress...
Wait let me go back a little further.

I did not start out to be anything.
I know that statement is pretty strange. No one really starts out to be anything other than human (and sadly some people fail at even that). What I mean really is that I didn't really have a goal as a child as to what I wanted from my future. I never ran around saying I wanted to be an astronaut or a teacher or anything really.

I loved animals and so I would vaguely say on occasion that the idea of being a vet might cross my mind, but I was never all crazed about it (and the urge passed after the first time I saw the vet take my dog's temperature). Every year when we would watch the Miss America pageant I would say I wanted to be Miss America, but what I really meant was I wanted to wear the pretty dresses, because the rest of the pageant was stupid. Once we had a career day at school and the physical therapist was really neat and for about a week I though that would be a nifty future, but then I got distracted by something shiny.

So I had no real ambitions as a child.
Wow that sounds just amazingly horrible. Horrible but true.

So most things in my life just sort of fell into my lap.
I started doing theater because of a scheduling error in 7th grade when I was placed into my brothers advanced play production class and he was placed in my typing class. The teacher let me stay and the next thing I knew I was playing Helena in A Mid Summers Nights Dream. After that I was hooked.
I chose my college because one day I was angrily faxing UIL forms (if you have ever had to do UIL paperwork you would know that it makes you very angry) and my director informed me suddenly that I would be attending a high school summer theater workshop that year, which was held at the college I would in turn go to because of the workshop.

So I got to college with every intention of being an actress. I had finally decided that was the future I wanted (which just proves how little we actually know about what we want out of life). I was all ready to make this my life and my future. Then I actually got to college.

We had to do a mandatory production laboratory pretty much every semester. The choices were the scene shop or the costume shop. I was never big on power tools really, or heavy lifting, and so the costume shop it was. At that point I had never really sewn before. I think I might have replaced a button, and at one point when I was like 8 my Great Aunt Frances had me make the ugliest pillow in the history of the universe, but that was the extent of my sewing knowledge.

After my first year though, and spending at least three hours a week in the shop, I was passingly decent. What can I say I am a quick learner and apparently I had a natural inclination toward sewing. Then my first summer rep I did not get cast and so I spent 8 hours a day in the costume shop for two months straight. Needless to say that by the end of that summer I was pretty well on my way to knowing what I was doing.

Before I knew it I had been spending more and more time in the costume shop. Then I was taking costume design classes and talking to the costuming teacher and shop foreman about all manner of sewing type things, and suddenly realized while I loved performing, I really rather preferred to be in the costume shop than on the stage.

And thus began my journey into seamstressing. I just sort of fell into it and I love it. I love designing costumes for new faire characters, mine and other peoples. When I got to finally be part of the costuming staff I was elated. It made my little heart sing. When I get to sit down and geek with other seamstresses over patterns, or new sewing techniques, or even drool over tensionless sergers (yes they exist), it makes me super happy.

And in the end I think that is how life really is. We can plan and plot all we like, but when it comes down to it, we end up where we fall. Life grows on us when we are not looking. I am not saying this is where I will end either. I am still alive and still growing and waiting to see what I fall into next.

I suppose there is still plenty of time to dream about what I want to be when I grow up.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Lemmings lemmings everywhere

It is Monday evening about 5:30, and I am trudging away on the elliptical trainer at my gym.
I am hot, I am sweaty, I am sore, and I am wondering why the hell I am bothering to attempt to read the subtitles of 'Ice Loves Coco' which is showing on the TV directly in front of me.

This has become a fairly routine event of late (and hopefully will manage to stay that way.)

Gyms are this thing that I have a hate hate relationship with.
While I understand all the benefits of working out and being healthy and all that good stuff, I can not really get behind the idea of the gym. It is a shrine built around being fit, which in theory is a good thing, only it is more than that.

Sure I look around and I see fat out of shape people. Hell if there was a mirror I would be looking at myself (thankfully my gym has no mirrors in the cardio section). But then I see these other people. I see these thin fit people.

Now I know that to stay thin and fit you have to keep working out, but really, these people are working out more than I am. They are there doing more than I do every single day. Hours out of every day of their life devoted to nothing but exercise.

This is not a bad thing per se, but I have to wonder how many of these people really need that kind of workout. How many of these people are athletes? Because you know if you are an athlete then that is totally cool. I have friends who are athletes and they work out crazy hard to keep up with their sport, because that is part of the whole sport package. You work hard to play hard. That is how it is.

But I have to wonder if all of these people are athletes or if they are just trying so hard to maintain an image. Wasting hours of their days when they could be with friends and family, doing something productive, doing something fun. Yet here they are though, lined up in a row in their yoga pants and sports bras, running in place on their treadmill or climbing to nowhere on their stair climber, looking like a row of lemmings waiting for the cliff to come up and meet them head on.

Is this the result of a society so obsessed with looks, or is this a genuine push for a society obsessed with health? Is either one really better than the other?

What are we heading towards? A cliff or salvation?

Thursday, June 23, 2011


I just gave some advice and well wishes to someone I have never met or spoken to before. I am easily swayed by the behest of my friends, and a friend asked me to do it. (Ok so really she asked everyone who reads her blog to do it, but you know, its all the same really)

Anyways, as I was giving my few words of wisdom it made me think about my own wedding and my own marriage. I have been married seven years (I think) come this October, which in turn will make eleven years that we have been together. That is a good chunk of my life considering I am only 30.

Our wedding was...not ideal. It was not the event I had dreamed of and hoped for since I was a little girl. It was not even the event I had been planning for the year or so that we were engaged. There was no dress, there was no music other than QAL singing me down the aisle, the cake was a last minute thought and came from Kroger, and my flowers were a single bouquet of daisies purchased from the flower vendor at faire. Before the night was over my family (the very few that showed up) abandoned me and severely insulted our officiant (who is also one of our dearest friends, our boss, and had paid for everything at our wedding that needed to be paid for). I cried in the bad way, and was in general just relieved it was over so I could put the nightmare behind me.

That being said, it was brilliant.
When I push away the tulle and fondant fueled bitterness, and look at it from the perspective of a woman that was getting to join with the man she loved in front of her loved ones, it was awesome.
The best wedding gift I received was a friend singing us She Moved through the Faire.
I wore my mother's pearls.
I carried my grandfather's handkerchief.
During the ceremony the audience blew bubbles, and we were surrounded by little rainbow like orbs.
Our four closest friends stood around us, while most all of our other friends watched.
There was laughter through the night.
And in the end I was his wife and he was my husband.

All the big fluffy dresses and expensive parties in the world can not replace those things.
I had what mattered and that was enough for me.

Marriage has not been an easy road. There have been many times when I considered smothering him with a pillow, or throwing a dirty plate at his head, or just punching him in the teeth. There have been plenty of nights when we have gone to bed in stone silence with our backs to one another, silently fuming at what the other had done. Neither of us are innocent in these matters.

Together though we have done so much in such a short time. We took a leap into the unknown to better our lives. We have laughed together more than we have cried. We have had great adventures. We have sweated, and sworn, and fought for what we wanted. We have done it together.

And that is what is important.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Wander where you will

My mind likes to wander about quite more often than it probably should. I find myself often lost in the strangest thought with no real clue how it is that I arrived at such a topic in my mind. I am sure there is some sort of logical progression that has me suddenly thinking about Dutch wooden shoes one moment, and recipes for eggs the next, but I really could not tell you what the exact path was that got me there.

Sometimes I find myself off in little day dream like fantasies about all manner of things like installing rain gutters on the side of my house, or experimental recipes, or being famous, or zombie invasions (like you don't think about it too). These are fun and good and all, but they do have a tendency to take up a great deal of time and distract me from what it is I am doing.

Thankfully I have an office job that is depressingly dull. I spend gads of time scrolling through databases and spread sheets looking for tiny little things to fix. For example, today I spent about three hours scrolling through an eviction database so I could manually delete all the instances where 'st' or 'ln' or 'plc' had been entered, or fix wherever someone decided it was easier to type 'bch' instead of beach or 'twp' instead of township. It is mind numbingly boring. I mean granted I occasionally find some amusing typo's, but for the most part it is really really boring.

So while I am busy doing gratuitously repetitive job functions, my brain will wander off on its own to amuse itself and keep from convincing me that sepaku is actually a valid idea in the modern business world. It helps pass the time and it keeps me from going insane (or any more so than I already am).

I have discovered though that there is one place where my mind seems to refuse to wander off.
The gym.
As I am plugging away on the elliptical machine, sweating and panting and wishing for death, my brain will do nothing more than focus on the unpleasant task at hand. It seems to be obstinately determined to focus on the one thing I do not want to think about. There are no pleasant mundane day dreams, or crazed wild fantasies to help distract me and make my time pass faster. Ohh no, anything but that. My brain is focused in on every slow agonizing minute of my work out.

I think my brain is some sort of workout masochist.

Workouts aside though, my brain is happy to go off where it likes.
Just now I found myself staring blankly at the screen and not typing, but instead remembering a particularly annoying speed trap that we drove through every day on our way to school when I was in High School. No clue why I just thought of that. I did though.

I suppose it is best not to really question the mechanics of my mind. If I get to curious my brain might punish me by making me suffer through evictions as it makes me suffer through my workouts. And that, well that would just be unbearable.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Me first! Me first!

There is a phenomenon that I have been aware of for some time, but have mostly ignored until recently finding it in what I consider an extremely counter intuitive location.

The phenomenon is that of the close parking space. That coveted spot as close to the front door of the building as possible. Not necessarily the one in the shade (which if you ask me in Texas is the more premium spot) or the one that is not hemmed in by two giant vehicles (and since I drive a big ass SUV space is an issue) or the one without a shopping cart parked in the middle of it or some jerk over the line halfway into the space.
No it is the space that allows you to take the fewest steps between your vehicle and the door to where you are going.

People will drive around in circles for the longest time in search of the mythical space. They become like vultures behind the wheel of two ton death machines. We have all had that moment as we are walking to the car with a cart full of groceries when we realize that some suburban house wife in a minivan is slowly stalking us up the aisle hoping that we have a premium spot that they can nab.

I think it is safe to say we have all been witness to the spot war. Two cars see the same spot about to open up at the same time. Each car is coming from a different direction. Each car throws on their blinker and slowly edges closer and closer to the spot. The drivers begin giving each other death glares as they impatiently wait for the spot to open up. Inevitably both lurch forward at the exact same moment and a near collision ensues. It is absolute chaos.

All in the name of walking a couple hundred feet less.
I mean if it is nasty rainy weather, I can see the desire for a closer spot. Also in the extreme Texas summer heat, a few hundred feet can seem like miles. For the most part though, it is not going to kill you to park a little further away.

I in fact prefer a far spot. The walking won't hurt me at all, and I never have to wait for a spot. I always know I can park right away in the far reaches of the grocery store parking lot. I might have to walk further, but I will probably get in the store and start shopping before those spot vultures have even found someplace to park.

Recently though I have found the most absurd spot vulturing location in the world.
The gym.

That is right, the gym.
I watch every day as people circle around looking for that coveted close to the door spot. I watch them get into the same parking wars I see at the grocery store. I can watch their rage through the windshield as they realize they will have to park further out.

You are going to the gym for Pete's sake!!
The whole reason you are there is to work out and get in shape. I think it is safe to say that walking from the far end of the parking lot not only won't kill you, but will probably be in the spirit of the gym. I mean really, of all the places to try and be lazy, the gym is probably not the place to do it.

Suck it up people.
Park in Canada.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Pass the damn ham!

Our story takes place a number of years ago, in a land far far away, known as The Blackhole (or Nacogdoches for those of you wanting a more geographical basis for this story).

So for those of you who do not know me well, I went to college in Nac, which I soon discovered was actually a giant blackhole that would suck in unsuspecting individuals and keep them in East Texas small town hell forever. It was not all bad mind you. Actually Nac was a nice place to live, if it weren't for the fact that it is in the middle of nowhere.

Being three hours away from all of my friends was horrible. Every year I would watch more of my friends graduate and move away, and I was still stuck there in the same rut as always. Worst yet I was doing faire in both the spring and fall, and I would make more friends that were three hours away from me and I could only see on weekends 10 to 16 weeks out of the year. It was incredibly disheartening every time I had to go back to Nac and leave them all behind.

Life in Nac was stagnant to say the least. I had a great job that was only great because it allowed me to work from home and pretty much do nothing. I was working the business end of online chat support for Verizon DSL. Turns out that businesses looking for business level DSL support have these tech departments who actually know what the hell is going on, and so in an 8 hour shift I normally only took a dozen chats on a busy day, and most of those were pricing questions answered in under a minute.

This allowed me lots of time to watch Buffy reruns, and chat online, and do a bunch of nothing around the house in my pajamas. It did however mean that my actual social interaction was cut to almost 0. After I got married and our roomates moved to Houston the only person I saw was the husbeast. When we went to eat, or I had to go to the grocery store I saw people, but that really is not much of human interaction.

There is this weird phenomenon that happens when you work from home and have no reason to leave the house. You stop dressing first. I mean what is the point of changing from your pj's if the only person who will see you is the cat. Then inexplicably taking a shower every day doesn't seem all that necessary (and yes this happens a lot. I have talked to dozens of people who have had this happen, so stop giving me that look). In fact a couple days without a shower doesn't seem like a problem. I mean you aren't going anywhere and you aren't doing anything to get dirty. Then next thing you know you have been inside in the same pj's for a week with maybe one shower thrown in there. You become incredibly lethargic. You get all pasty from lack of sunlight. You really become not the best version of you.

Then the cabin fever sets in.
I am here to tell you, cabin fever is a very real condition. Going slowly mad inside your own home...not fun.

So there I was, mid January, probably wearing three day old pajama's, making ham for dinner. I had to that point never cooked ham for the husbeast in the 5 years we had known each other. Ham always seems like a waste to cook for two people. His little brother was staying with us at the time, and so I found justification for it (well that and I wanted to make homemade mac and cheese and ham was the only thing I wanted to serve with it).

We had been in Dallas for a week over Christmas and New Years, and when we had left it was really hard on both of us. There were actually tears when we left our friends standing at the curb waving at us. I kept hearing my friend Dan say "You will be back soon." ringing in my head over and over again. It was more than a little depressing because I knew it was not true. Sure we would be down for Faire starting in February, but that was just taunting us with being someplace we liked with people we loved.

So it is reasonable to say I was not in a good mindset. Cabin fever + depression = More than a little off.

I was standing there prepping the ham when suddenly it occurred to me how ridiculous ham was. It was a revelation I had to share out loud (whether anyone was listening or not). I started questioning (mostly rhetorically mind you) why it was that you had to cook a ham. Ham's come to you precooked. I can not recall ever seeing a non pre cooked ham. Hell half of them are even presliced. So you are not exactly cooking the ham. You are more or less heating the ham. If you are one of those sick twisted people who likes fruit or sweet glazing on your ham then sure you need to apply that, but seriously now, ham is not some great culinary masterpiece. The ham is a lie. You can't really say you slaved over a ham for hours. No you didn't. The damn thing was already cooked. All you did was reheat it without burning or drying it out. It doesn't take a genius to do that.

Yes I said all of this. Out loud. Mostly to myself. While preparing the ham.

The husbeast was just outside our little one butt kitchen, sitting at the table on his computer, listening to this small exercise in hysteria happen. Apparently my state (both mental and hygenic) had been a concern of his for some time. He had not really mentioned to me the fact that he was fairly certain I was actually going insane, but he had been thinking it. A lot.

Suddenly I am startled out of my ham rant by the sound of the husbeast's large meaty fists slamming into the table top, causing his computer to rattle around a bit. I turned to him, quite startled, as he rose from his chair and loudly declared "That's it, we are moving to Dallas!"

I just blinked at him and meekly said "We don't have to have ham..."

The ham rant was the final straw. That night he called some friends in Dallas who had offered to let us stay in their spare room for mostly free until we found jobs and got on our feet. The next day he put in his two weeks notice and brought home a stack of boxes. Then two weeks later, we pulled into Dallas with our world packed in the back of a Uhaul truck, ready to start our lives fresh.

All because I find ham absurd.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Family of choice

There is nothing one can really do to change the families they are born into. Apart from completely ignoring their existence, you can not get rid of them. Even then they will always be your family.

Not everyone is luck enough to win the family lotto. Believe me, I should know. While I was dealt a fantastic mother, my father, well lets just say it would not be an exaggeration to call him a clinical sociopath and pathological liar. Thankfully I had very little contact with him in my life.

It still doesn't change the fact though that your family is your family, for better or worse, and you are pretty much stuck with them until the end. All you can really do is limit contact with those you dislike, and play nice at family gatherings you can not avoid. It is the way most people I know cope with their families.

At that point though you are left with a void. Families are there for a reason. They are a support system. They are supposed to love you unconditionally. They are supposed to be there for you when you need them no matter what. That is what family is supposed to be.

In reality though more than likely your real family will judge you harder than anyone else, disapprove of your life and decisions, and abandon you when you need them most in the interest of 'your own good'. I speak somewhat from experience. In the end your family will let you down on fulfilling that family role. I suppose because we share DNA our expectations for what people should be are harsher, and when they do not fit the ideal mold that you so desperately tried to form them in, well, harsh things are said, and people behave badly.

There is though a comforting thought, that while you can not change the family you were born into, you can always make a new family of your own. Family of choice can be just as strong, if not stronger than blood ties. The people you choose to call brother, sister, child, or whatever is someone who knows you as you are. They never had expectations of who you would be. They get to meet the fully formed you, flaws and all, and love you for that. Sometimes they grow with you, watch you change and mature, but they didn't raise you so expectations are different.

I have this amazing family of choice. People who I happily call brother and sister that have no blood ties to me at all. People who have seen me at my worst, and seen me at my best. People who have held me while I cried, and sobbed on my shoulder. I have battled through hard work and hard times with them, and drank and laughed and danced in the rain with them. I would drop everything to help them, and do anything in my power to make them happy. I would defend them to the ends of the earth against great peril because nobody harms one of my people.

Don't get me wrong, I still have strong ties to my blood family (well some of them). These people though, the people I chose to call family, that I have no tie to but love, they seem more real than my real family. I have more trust in their acceptance, I have more faith in their love, and I feel a strong connection that I do with anyone else.

They are the balm to my soul, the light that warms my heart, the thing that comforts me in the night, and brings a smile to my weary eyes.
They are my clan, my family, my people.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Taking things for granted

My mother has always said that you do not appreciate things until they are gone. In fact she used to try and prove this point by temporarily depriving us of something that we took for granted; like sight and thumbs. No she did not blind us or chop off our thumbs, that is a bit extreme even for my mother. No she would blindfold us, or tape down our thumbs, or whatever, and then would take us to the store, or make us do chores.

Oddly it was a very enlightening experience. Not that I ever doubted how important my eyes or thumbs were, but those experiments really brought to light how important they are.

One thing I suppose I always have taken for granted is my pinky finger. I mean what reason would I ever really have to think of how useful that one digit is? It sort of just hangs out there on the end and occasionally helps grip stuff.

Well last night in a stroke of brilliance I sliced off a chunk of the tip of my pinky finger on my right hand. It is nothing really serious, but it has left my pinky useless for today. Suddenly I realize how much I need my pinky. Typing is particularly irksome just now. The pinky is for my enter key. Making new paragraphs is hard just now. Most of the time I end up with a / or ' instead of a new line. My ring finger is simply opposed to hitting enter for me.

Also my right hand is currently useless in a number of functions I need it for. The bandage on my finger has to remain in place for 24 hours at least because they are worried that the wound will open and start bleeding uncontrollably again. So I have to keep the bandage dry and clean for 24 hours. I am right handed. I want you to stop and ponder what precisely that entails me not doing.


So showering last night was an experience. Let me tell you, showering one handed is not easy. You should try it some time. Suddenly you will have a new found appreciation for two hands.

So all in all I have to take this moment, during my pain, to remember to appreciate things in my life that normally I would just take for granted. Things like the ability to hit the enter key, or to shower with two hands, or fishing change out of my right pocket.

All small seemingly unimportant things,  until you can not do them.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Chinese Water

There are certain things in this world, or in my world at least, which make absolutely no sense at all.

For example; I hate water.
Yes I completely and absolutely hate water. Now I am not hydrophobic or anything. I am not afraid of water. Actually I really quite like water for things like swimming and long hot baths and brisk cold showers after a hot day and the other useful things water does like washing clothes and cooking. All of these things I am a big fan of.

No what I really hate about water is having to drink it. This makes no sense. I mean when it comes down to it the human body, much like this ball of rock we live on, is mostly made of water. Under that knowledge I should actually crave water. Then there is also the fact that water has no taste (unless it is site water at faire and then it has a flavor and a texture. Mmm chunky faire water..). This should not be an unappealing substance for me to consume. Yet it is.

It has always been this way. My mother tells me that as an infant I would refuse to drink a bottle of water. She would attempt to give me the bottle and I would push it away. So this is not some weird thing I got into my head as a child. I was born not liking water.

Now as an adult I know the importance of drinking water. It keeps me hydrated, and does good things for my skin, and a list of other healthy things that I am fond of. So as an adult I force myself to drink a significant amount of water. Of course this is because I am a responsible adult. When I was a child it was a little harder.

Actually when I was a child it was impossible to get me to drink water. There was absolutely no amount of logic or reason you could use on me to make me drink the stuff (with the rare exception of drinking straight from the hose on a hot summer day, but that didn't count in my child brain). So considering how important it is to drink water, especially for an incredibly active child, my grandfather took it upon himself to solve the problem.

He lied to me.
Hey what else are you supposed to do with a child when logic does not work (can you actually use logic on a child?)

We were sitting in a Chinese restaurant and I could not have been much more than 5 years old. We lived with my grandparents when I was growing up, and my grandfather was the center of my universe. I loved him more than even my Pound Puppies (and I gave up sucking my thumb for a Pound Puppy). So I would pretty much do anything for him, except of course drink water.

We were sitting in the restaurant and they placed a glass of water in front of me, and I of course made a face and said I did not want that. Instead of trying to convince me to drink the water by asking me nicely or even demanding it, my grandfather just casually told me that it was not normal water. Oh no it was special Chinese Water.

Well this intrigued me. It was something special you say? And of course my grandfather would never lie to me, so if he said it was special it must be. I of course wanted to try it right away. I drank it and it was wonderful. I loved it.

From that moment on any time my mother wanted me to drink water all she had to do was say it was Chinese Water. She told me she had gotten the recipe and she would even go through the motions of "preparing" it, which involved getting a pot dirty and stirring the water, and some other strange things, before she made me a glass of ice water from the tap.

I admit it was an ingenious way to get around the problem.
The funny thing is that I am now programmed to think that water in a Chinese restaurant is somehow better than regular water. It is a psychosomatic sort of response. Even after I figured the trick out, it never changed that thought in my head. I know it is no different than any other water, but somehow logic can not break through the Chinese Water illusion.

So now as an adult, while I will drink ice water because I should and it is good for me, I will always get water at a Chinese restaurant.
And it still always tastes better than any other water in the world.