Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Moments from working a Ren Faire

Working at a Renaissance Festival provides for some incredibly interesting moments in my life. Working retail at said festival  can make things just that much more interesting, especially when the shop I work for is a large and well known Pagan store. I find myself in philosophical debates over faith just about as often as I find myself trying to keep drunks from licking the display cases.
Here are just a few interesting moments from working in the shop this past weekend.

-Customer walks to the counter with a leather bound journal to purchase and hands me a credit card to pay for it.

Me: May I please see your ID?
Customer: I am old enough to buy a journal. Look they sold me beer *holds up his beer to prove he is of age*
Me: *Raises eyebrow at him*
Customer: *looks confused for a moment before look of realization comes across his face* Oh...you want my ID to make sure the credit card isn't stolen. You weren't carding me for the journal.
Me: How many beers have you had this morning?

-Two customers looking at the statues of different Gods and mythological icons.

Customer 1: Why do they have two Poseidons?
Customer 2: They don't. One is Poseidon and one is Neptune.
Customer 1: Aren't they the same person?
Customer 2: Not exactly. One is a Greek God and the other is a Roman God.
Customer 1: So same God, different name?
Customer 2: Pretty much. Like Hades and Ares, both gods of the underworld, one is Greek one is Roman.
Random customer eavesdropping: Wow you really killed that smart vibe you had going there for a minute.
Customer 2: What?
Random customer: Hades and Ares are both Greek. Hades rules the underworld, Ares is the war God. Pluto is the Roman God of the underworld.
Customer 2: *looking flustered* Whatever *walks away with customer 1*
Random customers friend: Dude how they hell did you know that?
Random customer: *shrugs* I watched a lot of Xena as a kid.

-A man in his mid 40's and his mother are looking at rings and he has the typical wide eyed reaction to me in a bodice.

Man: How do you get your boobs to do that?
Me: I get dressed?
(The mother referred to me as Big Bada Bosom the rest of the time they were in the shop much to her sons dismay)

-Two middle aged women looking at the jewelry in our case and see the tray of silver pentacles.

Woman 1: Are those Jewish?
Woman 2: Stars of David?
Coworker: The Star of David has six points, these have 5.
Woman 1: So are they like evil devil worship signs?
Coworker: No not really.
Woman 2: Well why do they always show it in movies when evil devil worshipers are doing stuff?
Coworker: Well Hollywood tends to like to use symbols people don't understand for whatever they like.
Woman 1: So it isn't evil?
Coworker: Well you can take it to mean whatever you like, but typically no, not evil.
Me: A five pointed star in a circle is meant to be a sign of protection and peace.
Woman 1: Oh I like that.

Friday, November 7, 2014

An Ending Place

I am a consumer of stories. Ever since I was a little girl I have been practically obsessed with tales of things outside of myself. I suppose it is a side effect of an over active imagination. Every story I come across id just fuel for the fire so to speak.

I am not really picky about the format my stories come in. I am just as happy to pick up a book as I am to turn on the TV or go out to the movies. The rather impressive collection of books and DVD's in my house is proof enough of this.

I am also not really a genre snob. You will find a little of everything on my shelves. High fantasy books sit happily next to leather bound classics, which are in turn nestled up against my collection of paranormal smut. If you look at my movies shelves you will find Bram Stokers Dracula sandwiched between Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog and Easter Parade.

As a lover and collector of stories there is one thing that I find so incredibly vexing that I have actually lost sleep over it; unfinished stories. There is nothing worse than having an author stop writing a book series for whatever reason or having a TV series cancelled before the story has ended. I have actually been known to watch shows I don't particularly enjoy or books I am not fond of just to see how the story ends. So you can imagine how distressing I find it when a series I enjoy doesn't ever get its ending.

Early on in my relationship with the husbeast he introduced me to the Wheel of Time book series. I believe at that time Robert Jordan was somewhere around book 8. Jordan was one of those authors who took his time writing each of his books. He wasn't as bad as George R.R. Martin is (or so I am told, I don't read those books) but it was enough to make most of his fans overly anxious.

I stopped reading the books around book five because it had gotten to the point that I needed a flow chart to keep the characters and their past lives straight. I was still interested in the story though, so I would have the husbeast just tell me what happened in the other books to satisfy my need to know. It was a system that worked well for us.

Robert Jordan sadly became ill before he had finished the series and all of his fans were left terrified that he would pass away before he had finished telling this epic tale. Luckily for us he managed to write out several key chapters for the last few books as well as audibly tell the end of the story to his family and another author so that the story could be finished.

While the Wheel of Time got its ending, there are so many other stories that will never have an end. Authors die unexpectedly, shows get cancelled, or any other number of things happen that cut short well loved stories before their time has come. We the audience are left to forever wonder how the story might have ended.

Sure I could just use my over active imagination and write my own ending to the story. That is always an option, and it is one I have employed on several occasions. It is never really satisfying though. I am always left to wonder where the original author or creator would have taken the story. I want to know what they intended for their creation.

While book series that end prematurely are often times because the author has passed away, TV shows and movies are often given an early termination because ratings do not please the financially concerned executives that give them life. I wish, in this situation, that there was a place where the writers could go and just tell the fans, no matter how small the fan base is, what they had intended to do with the rest of the story.

I would love to see a place where the answers to the pressing questions that are left behind are answered. I mean most of the time when a series is cancelled there was some form of cliffhanger at the end of the last season. Farscape fans were horrified by the last episode of the last season and until Peacekeeper wars was thankfully made their last image of the story was incredibly unsatisfying and disturbing.

Not every series is going to get that wrap up made for TV movie. Most series are just going to leave you wondering if the character that was left bleeding on the floor of a basement actually died, or if the bad guy was ever caught, or if the boy actually gets the girl. Most cancelled series will just leave you full of disappointment and questions and that is sad.

I know some writers don't want to tell the ending of the stories without actually telling it. Just blurting out the ending without actually creating the story in some medium seems wrong to them, which I can understand to a point. This still does not stop me from really wanting them to just tell the ending anyways because in a way I feel that their audience deserves it, but more importantly the characters deserve it. I try not to be one of those demanding sorts of people who expect things of others but seriously don't start a story and then leave people hanging.

Alas a magical database of the endings to unfinished stories will never be. Characters will forever be left in limbo and questions will forever be unanswered. I will have to be content with the endings that I created in my own mind and move on to the next story.

Thankfully there are always more stories.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

An Open Letter to Everyone Everywhere

Dear Everyone everywhere,

Where have you gone?

I find as I look around myself you are nowhere to be found. I can remember a time when you were so vibrant and real, living in the world with such enthusiasm for life. You were always creating such wonderful ideas, joyful music, and even melancholy prose at times. I could never miss seeing you as you would not be hidden by even the largest of shadows.

Now you are gone. Now you seem to simply exist on the surface instead of being an active part of this fragile fleeting thing we know as life. You have been reduced to shared infografics, marginally accurate personality quizzes, and cat memes. Your original content has been lost in some faceless algorithm which now defines you more than a poorly thought out profile bio.

Even when we are together you are not there. You are trapped behind a wall of pixels and the shackles of free wifi. The non goings on of a society of robots takes the foreground to reality. An electronic thumb symbol has replaced a genuine smile or simple touch.

I watch as you lose your empathy and grow your narcissism with every vain selfie that you vomit up. You try and show yourself to the world by removing yourself from the here and now with every snap of the lens and Instagram filter.

Perhaps I am to blame as I too have disengaged. I am just as guilty of hiding behind the home row on my keyboard eagerly awaiting the next bit of digital voyeurism to come my way. I too have found the safe malaise of what we have come to accept as life.

I want to be better, I do. It is just lonely here now. You have all gone away and I am not sure you even realize it. I miss you.

Please come back to me and to the world. Say your own words instead of puppeting back the seemingly profound words of others. We have stopped creating anything new, and it is destroying all of us. Make your own music, write your own stories, be your own philosopher.For your own good. For the good of the future.

Start living again. Do not be a slave to your job and to your life; live it. Even if it is only in the small moments, live it. Make the most of everything you can because it will all be gone far too soon. In the end you won't lie waiting for your last breath thinking of silly cats, annual incomes, or whether you are thin enough. You will remember a gentle kiss, joyous laughter, painful tears, and smiling faces.

Make sure you have a full lifetime of these things to remember.

Please come back to me, I promise I will be a better person.



Tuesday, August 5, 2014

All You Need is Love

After my last post on friendship I had a very dear friend of mine come to me with a request to write my next post on the subject of love. I enjoy getting requests and a good challenge, as well as adore this friend, so I happily agreed to write the post. Love, after all, shouldn't be a difficult topic to write on. I have plenty of practical experience so this should be a no brainer.

I should seriously learn to not underestimate the depth and breadth of a subject. I have been pondering on this post for almost two weeks now and I still haven't come up with a satisfactory answer to the question of 'What is love?'.

Here is the problem; love is complicated. I think that love is perhaps the most complicated simple subject in the world. I could give you the Webster definition of love but after reading it I realized that it is completely lacking in accuracy. It makes the whole concept far too simple to be a true definition of what love is.

English uses only one word for love, which is a problem in some ways. We use context clues, inflection, and adjectives to determine the type and severity of love instead of mucking about with multiple words to mean love. Most other languages do the opposite and assign a different word for different types of love; Sanskrit, ancient Persian, Eskimo, Greek, Hebrew, Japanese, Arabic, and the list goes on. 

What all of these languages point out by having multiple words for love, is the fact that love is very complicated. There is not just one type of love. The love you have for your significant other is different than the love you have for your children, or for your parents, or for a friend, or for a book series, or for your pets, or for those really cute sling back sandals, or for cheese.

When it comes to love of a person  you can love someone but not be in love with them, which adds an entirely different layer of complication into the entire love scenario because loving and being in love are two different things completely. Of course it is hard to explain the difference to someone who has never actually been in love with someone before. Quantifying the concept of being in love will typically leave you with analogies to bright lights, fuzzy feelings, butterflies in your stomach, radiating warmth, contentedness, and joy, but nothing truly concrete.

So what is love?

Love is unpredictable. Love is messy. Love is caustic. Love is terrifying. Love is one sided. Love is fickle. Love is fleeting.

I bet those were not the things you were expecting me to say. Allow me to elaborate.

Love is this ridiculously complicated emotion that has no real rhyme or reason to it. You feel love towards people and things generally because they make you happy and feel comfortable and good. This is a wonderful thing. The problem is that just because you love something or someone does not mean that your affection will be returned. It is a total crap shoot.

Whether it is love for a friend, a family member, or a lover, there is absolutely no guarantee that they will love you back or that their love will remain true. This is why relationships end; people fall out of love all the time. Those warm happy feelings that we initially have for people can fade over time. They call time a test for a reason people; not everyone passes that test.

This is a very sad truth about love that you have to be willing to accept. It is not all sunshine and lollipops and if you don't accept that, you will someday be in for a very rude awakening. At some point in your life you will feel the bitter sting of lost love.

And that is enough from the cynical realist side of things.

Once you move past the downfalls of love (which I desperately hope you can move past them) you are left with all the good happy things. Love is a wonderful thing that fills you with joy and happiness. At its most basic form, that is all that love is; happiness. Loving someone or something means that they make you happy. Easy peasy.

I had a friend in high school who used to get freaked out when I said I loved him. It was the truth, I loved him. I was not IN love with him, but I loved him none the less. I come from a family that is very big on loving people and letting them know that you love them, so sharing this affection with others is in no way weird to me. He wasn't from such an open background.

We finally came to the conclusion that there is love (with a lower case l) and then there is Love (upper case L). Lower case l was designated for love of a friend and far less serious (in his mind). If you used the upper case version of the word it was more romantic and toward being in love with someone. He was comfortable with me saying I love you once we gave it strict definitions. In the end I would just say 'little l' and he would get the idea.

Some people don't choose to designate the feeling they have for their friends as love, and that is fine. Again I was raised in a family where loving your friends was just what you did. I heard the words 'I love you' so constantly that it is second nature.

It never devalued the term to me though. Just because I love lots of people does not mean that the love is any less. I do not have a certain quotient of love that I have to dole out in a lifetime. If I choose to love lots of people the love won't thin out and become smaller. True I might love some people more than others but that is just dependent on our relationship.

Love is also not something that is made less valid with time or distance. There are people that I love without question that I have not seen or spoken to in years. Love has no set expiration or use by date, it is not a dairy product. Much like friendship does not have to be constantly engaged for the friendship to remain valid, neither does love.

Love still is not always going to be reciprocated. I have friends that I love dearly who would not share that sentiment with me. They would say they are fond of me but love is not the emotion they would choose to describe our relationship. This is perfectly fine. I have no intention of defining a word or an emotion for them. It doesn't change how I feel about them though, that isn't how it works. I can love them even if they don't love me back.

So love is a risk, and it can end terribly, and cause pain and a whole host of messy problems, but love is completely natural and totally unavoidable in the end. Despite your best efforts love is something that will creep in when you are busy doing other things and slap you upside the head so hard you see stars. You can deny it all you like, but it will be there.

In the end I have come to the conclusion that love is not something you should define or control. It is a force that defies words and logic and simply exists. The best we can do is embrace love, cherish love, accept love, and try and find it in as many places as possible because in the end love is the most wonderful thing in the world.

In the immortal words of the Beatles:
In the end the love you take is equal to the love you make. 

Monday, July 14, 2014


The question has been raised to me of late as to what makes a friend. When it was first posed I thought the question was a little silly. What do you mean what makes a friend? How can you not know what makes a friend? It is one of the most basic and prevalent relationships most people have. Still I decided to sit and ponder on the subject and found that the answer really wasn't all that simple.

First of all everyone's definition of a friend is different. It is an incredibly subjective term seeing as how different people need and want different things out of people. With that in mind I started with a broader look at what a friend is supposed to be.

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary the definition of friend is as follows:


noun \ˈfrend\
: a person who you like and enjoy being with
: a person who helps or supports someone or something (such as a cause or charity)

The first definition makes things really simple. Someone I like and enjoy being with. Going through a quick mental list of people I call friend I find that they all fit that description. I mean sure there are times I don't enjoy being with my friends, but that is part of being human. No one likes any one person 100% of the time. 

The second definition I do not think was intended to so much refer to an actual personal relationship. I think it is more meant to cover things like 'Friends of the Arts' or other such titles. Still it is a good definition to apply to friendship on a personal level as well. If a person is your friend it should be someone you are willing to help and support and vice versa. 

So there we have the basic definition of what a friend is; someone you like and enjoy being around and are willing to help and support when needed. One would assume that this works both ways in a friendship but we all know that is not necessarily true.  Sometimes being a good friend is a one way street.

That is where the thinking got a little more difficult; being a good friend. We have already established that simply being a friend isn't particularly hard or heavy on requirements, but what about being a good friend? Shouldn't that really be what we are looking at here?

So what are the qualities of a good friend? The dictionary doesn't have an entry for good friend so I was on my own for filling in that definition. This is where the subjective part of the process really comes into play. What I consider to be a good friend might not fulfill another persons ideas of a good friend.

Do you have to talk to your friends every single day? No. Hell I only talk to the husbeast every day because we share a bed. I have friends who I love dearly and would give an internal organ to and I haven't spoken to them in months. I have friends with whom the bulk of our interaction involves liking one anothers Facebook posts. 

This does not make us any less of friends. Constant interaction is not required for friendships to be valid. What matters is that when we are together we enjoy being together and are good to one another. What matters is that we are there when we need to be.
For me a good friend is a good listener. When I need to rant and vent they are a person who will sit quietly and let me get all the vitriol out. They will allow me to say my fill without interruption. They never make me feel burdened for wanting to ramble on and on about whatever it is I need to get off my chest.

My friends and I have a phrase we use when someone starts to vent "Do you want me to fix this or just let you vent?". Sometimes you don't want your problem analyzed and fixed. Sometimes you just want to scream about it until you feel better. Good friends can do whichever you need at the time.

At the same time they shouldn't be judgmental. They should try to understand where I am coming from as much as possible and be as supportive as they can be. We don't have to agree on everything or have the same ideas and beliefs, but they shouldn't be there to make me feel bad or guilty about who I am or what I believe and think. 

They should be someone who is willing to help me in my crazy schemes or be the voice of reason when I get too out of control. They should be willing to try and talk me down from my total crazy when it is needed. Good friends help keep you out of jail whenever possible, or at least are ready with bail money when necessary.

They should be willing to help in any way possible when they are capable. No person is superhuman and can help everyone with everything all the time. We don't have the money or emotional fortitude to see all of our friends through every crisis. Sometimes we have to prioritize our helpfulness and a good friend knows that this isn't selfishness it is just life. They know that you are giving as much as you can at that time. 

After much reflection these are the basic things I came up with. I am sure there are more things on my list, but these seemed to cover the high points. I know that they also sometimes seem a little contradictory, but I think that is again part of human nature.

I am not always the best of friends. Sometimes I am overwhelmed by life and I can't manage much of anything in the good friend department, but we all have moments like that. That is when we need our friends to be good to us knowing that when we are out of the slump we will be good to them. 

Friendship, like any relationship, is a growing shifting changing thing that requires attention and effort. All relationships are work at some point or another. No friendship is without its rough patches, but the good normally outweighs the bad in the long run.

Good friends are a precious commodity. They are people you should not take for granted or write off too quickly. Friendship is a two way street and that is all too often forgotten.

When it comes down to it though, a friend is just someone you like and enjoy spending time with. Remember that, and the rest should fall in line. 

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Mirror, Mirror

Every morning I crawl out of bed and stumble stagger my way through my bedroom, trying not to trip on a cat, into the bathroom where I fumble for the lights. I stand there on unsteady legs a moment while I squint bleary eyed into the suddenly bright light that surrounds me. The world slowly comes into focus as my eyes adjust to both being awake and all the blasted light once again. As my vision clears my eyes lock onto the mirror and my own reflection is the first thing that greets me causing me to frown.

I would love to say that my negative reaction to my own visage in the mornings is due to the fact that I am just being cranky about being awake. I would love to say that it is caused by the way my curls have matted down to one side of my head while the other side is standing up at strange angles making me look a little like Yahoo Serious. I would like to say that it is the pillow lines that are still set into my cheeks that cause me to frown.

I know that none of that is true.

I know that those excuses are just that; excuses. I know this because I have a similar reaction pretty much any time I look in the mirror. I know that typically the best I get out of an encounter with a mirror is the thought of 'Close enough', 'This will have to do', or 'As good as it is going to get'.

Most of the time I stand in front of a mirror it turns into a time for me to catalog my flaws. There is the obligatory gut check where I suck in my gut as much as humanly possible, turn sideways, and then with a breath let my gut back out so that I can lament how fat I am. There is the fingers brushing through my hair trying to adjust it so that it looks somewhat flattering and less like the mess it is. There is the squinting at my face where I notice every bump, blemish, line, and the increasingly dark and puffy circles that live under my eyes.

Now don't get me wrong, sometimes I look in the mirror and am satisfied with what I see. Some days I am having good self esteem, and good hair, and put a lot of effort into my makeup and outfit, and I think 'Damn I am fabulous'. Some days that happens, just not most days.

I know that I am being stupid. I am being completely ridiculous when I look in the mirror and judge myself as harshly as I do. I know that I can step away from the mirror and feel good about myself and who I am and how I look. When I can't see me I can have confidence which makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

The thing is that we are always our own worst critics. Every single person on this planet suffers from this problem. If you show me someone that looks at themselves in the mirror every day and sees nothing but perfection I am going to call bullshit. They are lying to you or taking so many mood altering drugs that they are chemically blocked from thinking negative thoughts.

Time and time again I hear my friends say that if anyone treated them the way they treat themselves they would beat them up. Most of us would not stand for someone constantly telling us that we are fat and ugly and imperfect. Most of us would tell that sort of person to take a hike. Most of us would call that sort of relationship an abusive one that we should get out of.

Of course we can't break up with ourselves. We can't end a relationship with the person in the mirror without suffering some sort of psychotic break. We have to learn to accept ourselves, flaws and all, and learn to love what we see.

I am not certain this is a task that we are truly capable of once we are adults. All the self hate and loathing and judgement is so ingrained in us that it seems like an impossible cycle to break. How do you love yourself when all you have ever been taught is hate?

At faire, as costumer for the cast, I inherited a lab called Smoke and Mirrors. The purpose of the lab is actually to share tips and tricks with the other women on cast about how to make it through the hot sweaty day of faire and look picture perfect the entire time. It is a lot of talk about hair product, makeup, and chafing prevention.

The surface maintenance is not the only thing the lab covers. The lab goes deeper than that with one simple exercise which always proves to me that women don't love themselves or see themselves clearly. I do not know who started this exercise, but it is truly a thing of beauty.

We all stand in a circle facing in. One person is picked to begin and they turn to the person on their right and tell that person one thing that they find physically attractive about them. You can tell them anything you like about them as long as it is a physical aspect of the person and is positive. The person receiving the compliment has the harder task of simply saying 'Thank you'; no more, no less.

Taking a compliment and just saying thank you is so incredibly hard. Our instinct is to deny what we are being told. Our instinct is to make excuses for what they say. You are told you have perfect skin? You want to tell the person that it is actually really oily, or that it is just the makeup you use. You are told that you have amazing hair? You want to tell them how it takes hours and tons of product to look like that, or point out that it is frizzy and you have terrible split ends.

Simply, we do not want to accept that other people find us attractive without any questions asked. To simply say thank you without making comment or excuse makes us accept that at least someone appreciates us for the way we look.

The things that are said always amaze me. You sit and watch each person and think to yourself 'well what would I say to her?' You think that they have the most amazing eyes in the world and are certain that is what this person will say, but are shocked to find out that they are admiring her lovely high cheekbones. Then you look and think, 'Yea her cheekbones are sort of amazing'.

Even more amazing though is to see the reactions of the women in the group. Women that I think are stunning with their sleek hair, dusky exotic skin, wide sparkling eyes, gentle warming smiles, graceful swan like necks, adorable button noses, and cheek bones of the Gods, are rattled to the bones by these revelations from their peers. Women who I would be certain have to be happy with themselves because they are so beautiful burst into tears because they are just as insecure as I am and are struggling to believe these things to be truths.

There is always a lot of hugging and crying at the end of this exercise, but I like to think we all come out of it a little stronger. I also love that months later, when I am trying to brush off a compliment, that my girls will fix me with a stern stare and parrot my words from the exercise; "What do we say?", "Thank you." I reply sheepishly knowing they are right.

Our society is overly focused on physical beauty. We are fixated on what people look like and trying to fit everyone into set ideals of what beauty is. In doing so we have irrevocably damaged ourselves to the point where no one thinks they are beautiful. Even women that are considered the most beautiful women on the planet are airbrushed in photographs to make them more perfect. We are always striving to meet an image in our minds that isn't real.

We should not be teaching our children that beauty is what is on the cover of the magazine. We should be teaching our children, and ourselves, that beauty is what we see in the mirror every single morning. We should be teaching ourselves that there is no 'ideal' beauty or proper mold. We are not little plastic figures coming out of a factory in Taiwan. We are humans and we are all so vastly different which is precisely what makes us so amazing and beautiful.

It is our differences and our flaws that make us desirable and attractive. When we all start looking like carbon copies we become ordinary and boring. In nature it is the brightest feathers that attract attention, it is the flower that is just a little different than the others that draws the eye. We shouldn't want to blend in, we should want to stand out.

So when I look in the mirror in the mornings, or any other time, I should not frown and be unhappy with what I see. Yes I am fat. Yes my hair does not behave in any way shape or form. Yes I have circles under my eyes from not sleeping enough.


I have long thick lashes that frame my slightly exotic shaped eyes that are a strange color that shifts with my mood from the brightest of greens, to the softest of greys, to the deepest of blues.
I have the most adorable little button nose.
I have perfect bow shaped lips and a warm inviting smile that reaches all the way to the corners of my eyes and lights up the room.
I have insane curls that induce jealousy and a widows peak that gives me a dramatic and classic look.
I have skin that needs little to no assistance from make up to look stunning.

I am beautiful and unique.

I know it is not what is on the outside that truly matters, but I know that what is on the outside matters still. I know that I am beautiful even if I don't always like what I see in the mirror. I know that I am seeing myself through tainted lenses and that when my friends look at me they see the truth. I know that they are the mirrors that I should be looking at for the truth.

Mirror, mirror on the wall, who's the fairest of them all?

I am.
You are.
We all are.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Future!

I was sitting on the couch last night watching TV with the husbeast before bed when a commercial came on that caught my attention. I am not one to typically pay attention to commercials. I am the type who will fast forward through them on the DVR and get up and get some water while watching live TV. This commercial though managed to catch my attention.

Now one would think that the ad would have to be something spectacular. Perhaps it was something clever and cute like the little kid in a Darth Vader costume trying to use the force and failing until his dad uses the auto start feature on the car. Or maybe it was something amusing like the Mayhem commercials from All State. Or perhaps it was just for a product I actually care about.

You would be wrong if you guessed it was any of those things.

Actually the commercial itself was unremarkable. It was a car commercial and I can't even tell you what brand car it was for. I can tell you absolutely nothing about what cars they were showing or what they said were special about them. I vaguely think it might have been the one where the guy is trying to talk about the car without naming competitors and the text above the car is doing it for him (very rudely) causing him to throw a fit and walk away. Or maybe it was a completely different ad, I have no idea.

What caught my attention was actually the voice over at the end of the commercial where they talk way too fast about APR and exclusions and 'well qualified leasies' whatever the hell those are. It was in that rambling mumbo jumbo that no one ever pays attention to or can understand, whether from speed or use of legal/car jargon, that I was caught.

"Special financing on gasoline models available."

I looked up from my laptop to the TV slightly slack jawed as that sentence echoed in my head. Let me say it again for you:

"Special financing on gasoline models available."

Gasoline models.

It shouldn't have struck me as so very odd, but it is. It suddenly occurred to me, even though I was already perfectly aware of this, that we live in a world where you can buy a car that is not solely reliant on gasoline to operate.

This is the sort of thing that still sounds a little absurd to me. I know the technology is not really new or anything, but the idea that it is being used is still a little fresh. I mean even until very recently having an electric car was not a normal thing. Now these commercials are talking about it like it has always been an option.

After a moment of being dumbfounded by this nugget of knowledge I turned to the husbeast who was diligently doing something on spreadsheets in space...I mean Eve Online.

Me: Did you just hear that?

Him: Hear what?

Me: They said 'gasoline models'.

Him: (A little confused) ...yea...

Me: Like as in gasoline models because there is totally another energy option readily available for your car.

Him: (Still looking confused) Well yea.

Me: We live in the fucking future!

He laughed at me, but in the end nodded in agreement.

This is the future!!

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Radio Silence

These past few months things have been very quiet on my end and I honestly feel very bad about it. While I have never been the best at keeping a set schedule here, I have always tried to get at least one post in a week if not my preferred two to three posts. Lately I have simply failed in this and left you, my minions, in silence.

It is not that I have become bored with this blog, nothing could be further from the truth. The truth is I still love this blog and blogging in general. I want to write things and post them, I just haven't been doing it lately.

I have been telling myself that it was a matter of not having the time, but I know that is completely not true. I have plenty of time to write if I would just make myself do it. Of course normally I get my blogging ideas while I am sleeping, driving, eating, or pretty much anywhere I can not write, so that doesn't help matters.

The real reason I have not been writing is that I have found it increasingly difficult to remain positive of late. When I started this blog I resolved to keep my posts positive. I could get passionate or even angry on a topic, but I wanted to keep things in a positive light. I wanted to highlight as best I could the good things because we all seriously have enough negative in our worlds already.

When everything with my job got really bad last summer and continued through the fall I found it close to impossible not to say ugly and hateful things in this forum. I wanted to whine and bemoan my situation and share my general misery with all of you. Only I didn't.

Those nine months sucked so bad, but I didn't throw it out for all of you to wade through. I kept my chin up and put on a good face for everyone here. I used this platform as a distraction from the hellish job environment I was living in.

It was exhausting. Staying outwardly positive when you are inwardly miserable takes a lot more energy than you would expect. By the time the new year rolled around and my job was fixed I felt that I had used up all of my reserve positivity.

After my job righted itself I should have been happier and more able to keep the positive posts flowing, but of course nothing ever goes that smoothly. As my life at work came back to normal, my life everywhere else began to upend. No such thing as smooth sailing for me.

Faire was packed full of pointless stupid drama this year. People showed their worst side and purposefully, and seeming perpetually, hurt the people I love. Suddenly all of my energy was being focused on fending off the slander while remaining professional.

Once again I wanted to rant and spew vitriol all over the internet, but I knew that was not only not what I really wanted, I knew it was completely unprofessional. So I remained silent. All of my positivity reserves that were left were being put to good use in my day to day life.

Now I once again find myself in a place where the dust is settling and I seem to be on even ground again. I admit that part of me is just waiting for the next great upheaval. I want to think that this will be a nice deserved calm, but I am always cautious about what is next to come.

I am hoping that this will be the end of the quiet times. I have so much I want to write about and share with all of you, I just need to find the energy and resolve to do it. I know it is in there somewhere.

So thank you all for sticking with me this long and hopefully for some time to come.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

The Horrible, Awful, Fluffy, Puppy of Joy

I would say that it is safe to say that I have always been an animal person. When I was a little girl I loved puppies and kittens and any other animal I could get close to. Growing up we had pet fish, rabbits, chickens, dogs, cats, and birds that I can remember. With the exception of the chicken (which was filthy and smelled awful) I loved them all.

For the most part growing up I was a dog person out of necessity. I would have much preferred a cat over a dog however my wretched allergies kept me from being in prolonged contact with anything in the feline family. It made me sad but I was content with my dogs instead.

When I got into college I discovered that I had miraculously outgrown my cat allergy and I never looked back. I am a cat person through and through and if it weren't for the fact that our middle cat is intolerant of new feline additions, we would have more than three cats in our home.

The husbeast is also an animal person but I don't think anyone could deny that he is, and always has been, a dog person. When he was growing up his family actually ran kennels and bred dogs. He raised champion dogs in all shapes and sizes from Maltese to Rottweilers, the latter being his favorite.

The problem with being young and just starting out is that you don't really have a lot of space or time, both of which you need for a dog. Cats are pretty self sufficient what with that litter box thing and all. Dogs require more attention and a lot more space. With this knowledge we decided early on in our relationship that there would be no dog until we had a house with a yard to be fair to the dog.

About two years after we moved into our house we adopted our sweet Rogue from a local no kill shelter. She is a sweet docile little omega of a dog that is half border collie and half black lab. She is precious and sweet and so very loving. We love her very very much.

Still, somewhere in the back of the husbeasts head, he kept coming back to the memories of his Rottweilers and thinking how much he wanted another one. We tossed the idea around for several years but the time never seemed right to add a new member to the family so we tabled the idea.

Last summer as we were slogging through bathroom remodeling we suddenly both came to the decision that it was time to start looking for a new puppy. We have spaced out the acquisition of furry family members by about two years, and it was coming up on the two year point of us having brought Etta into the family.  We were at our cat limit so a new puppy was the obvious choice.

We didn't start looking right away. At that time the husbeasts sister was moving in with us and bringing a cat and dog of her own into the mix. We wanted things to settle down from that introduction before we tried to add a puppy into the mix.

Our search started in earnest around Christmas.

Two days before Christmas we went into our local no kill shelter to say hello to the puppies and pass the time on a pleasant afternoon. We weren't expecting to find any puppies that we would fall in love with and want to take home since we had some pretty specific requirements we were trying to fill. We wanted a male Rot/Rot mix with a laid back and docile temperament that was under four months old. Not something you find every day.

So of course we walked in and found a litter of Rot/Lab 10 week old puppies with one male left who was sweet and docile; the perfect puppy. We should have seen this coming really. So the debate began about whether or not we were really ready for a puppy at this time. Our sister was still with us until June and so we were still heavy one dog and one cat. It was Christmas so money was a little tight. Faire was about to start and we didn't have a ton of free time.

We went to lunch to discuss all of the things that needed discussing. We both had some concerns and decided we needed to maybe sleep on the idea. By the time dinner rolled around we both knew that we really wanted the puppy and that as soon as the shelter opened in the morning we would be going to pick him up.

When we got to the shelter the next morning we were told he had been adopted about 10 minutes after we had left the day before. We were both very very sad about not getting the puppy that had seemed so perfect. We decided not to look again for a while.

The week after New Years Eve we were in San Antonio visiting my parents. Despite having decided not to look for another dog for a while I was cruising the internet looking at puppies when I came across a litter of Catahoula Leopard Dog/Rottweiler mix rescues. It just took one look and we were both in love.

I contacted the rescue about the one we liked best and they started to set up a sleep over with the puppy when we got back into town. A week passed and we heard nothing. Another week passed and we finally heard back that the puppy had already been adopted when we had inquired about him and that it had been a miscommunication. We were a little agitated but decided it was fine and we actually  liked one of his brothers better.

We showed up to the adoption event at a not so local PetCo. a couple of days later to actually meet the puppy. He was so incredibly adorable. He was sweet and a little more feisty than the other puppy had been, but was the sweetest little cuddle bug. In short we fell in love on the spot.

We spoke at length with the people who ran the organization and they scheduled a sleep over with the puppy since we couldn't actually adopt any of their animals at the adoption event. This rescue organization was very insistent on having multiple references, home visits, and access to your vet before they would consider adopting to you. It seemed like a lot of stuff, but we were willing to jump through the hoops.

The morning of our sleepover arrived and we had not heard from the organization in a couple of days. I called one last time to confirm everything and finally got the president of the organization on the phone. This is when she told me the puppy was not up for adoption.

The foster family, who we met at the event, wanted to keep him. This was understandable if not upsetting. The worst part was that they had decided this a week before the adoption event but had brought the puppy out to meet potential families anyways. They had let us get our hopes up for nothing.

((The woman tried to talk me into adopting another dog that in no way was what we were looking for. In the end I was actually glad to not be working with this organization because it was questionable at best. I am fairly certain they were stealing dogs from people that they did not feel were good pet owners. Also their definition of abuse was leaving a dog outside unattended ever. It didn't matter the size of the dog, or the yard, or if the dog had a nice dog house and wading pool to relax in the shade; if you put your dog outside unsupervised you were abusing the animal. Also if you kenneled your dog inside for any length of time no matter the reason you were abusing them. She also didn't believe that people who worked should own dogs because the dog would be alone for more than an hour (which according to her was the maximum amount of time any dog should be left alone without human contact). She was a little crazy to say the least.))

At this point we were pretty disheartened. We decided to really not look for another puppy for a while. We just couldn't handle the heartache again. Like I said we are both animal people and get attached very easily. There is only so much disappointment a person can take.

When we went to North Texas Irish fest the last day of February the last thing we were thinking about was a new puppy. Sure they always have dog rescue set up at the festival, but they are mostly dogs with an Irish theme to them. We again had very specific requirements. We should really know better than to expect to go in not looking and not find the perfect dog.

We saw the little Rot pups right off the bat but we both avoided going in and looking at them. We casually looked at all the other animals and moved on from the rescue pavilion. We were not going to get sucked in again. We made our rounds around the festival, met up with friends, looked at pretty art, listened to awesome music, and of course ended our evening back at the rescue pavilion.

This time we were unable to resist looking at the puppies we had avoided earlier in the night. The little boy was perfect. He had just the right temperament, all the right markings, and he was the right age. He took to the husbeast right away. It was again love at first sight.

The women running the rescue group took our information but told us we couldn't take him that night. He had a parasite in his tummy that he had to get rid of before he could be adopted. We were told the meds took a week to work and at that time we could adopt him. We were promised it was a done deal and no one else would be allowed to adopt him before we got there.

There were pictures taken, we shared the news with friends, and started trying to pick out a name. Monday morning we got an update that he was responding to the meds and should be ready for pickup on Saturday. We were already into faire at that point so I started trying to arrange to pick him up on Monday morning instead of on Saturday at the adoption event but I stopped getting responses to my emails.

Sunday evening, after not having heard anything about our puppy since Tuesday, I got an email from the rescue organization. The email was short and to the point; the puppy broke with parvo and despite their best efforts he had not survived. The loss of the puppy was especially hard on the husbeast because it had been lost to parvo. When he was younger he had lost almost 200 dogs, mostly puppies, when a new strand of parvo had made it over from Europe.

Two months passed before either of us could look at puppies again.We had friends adopting puppies and kittens all around us and it was hard to be happy for them when we had had such a terrible time trying to adopt one of our own. We had both become a little bitter and jaded.

May rolled around and some of the bitter had worn off so we started to look again. We still wanted that Rot pup so we knew it was going to be a long road. Short of going to a breeder (which we really did not want to do) and paying close to $1000 we were not going to so easily find what we were looking for. Weekly online searches and visits to the no kill shelter were proving to be fruitless.

It was on a lark that I opened up Craigslist on Monday morning and started looking for puppies. It had never occurred to me to look there for possible adoptions. The list was full of people selling or re-homing animals that they could no longer care for or trying to off-load unexpected litters of puppies they had found.

It took less than ten minutes before the husbeast had two different ads that he was contacting about puppies. We were not surprised, considering our puppy search history, that within an hour of the add being posted all the male puppies were gone already. That evening though we struck upon a little male Rot pup that was 6 weeks old that wasn't part of a litter.

He had been bought as a gift for a woman from her husband, only she didn't have the room for such a large dog and needed to find him a new more suitable home. The husbeast talked to her on the phone for a while and we decided to meet Wednesday evening to see if he would be a match for us. Neither one of us were really getting our hopes up.

Tuesday morning I got a text asking us if we could meet that afternoon as she had other interested parties but wanted us to have first right of refusal. There was some finagling for getting out of work early, but we agreed to make the drive and meet her and the puppy. I was just pulling out of my office when I got the text telling us that her husband had sold the puppy to one of his friends without consulting her and she was so sorry but he was no longer available.

Par for course.

I texted the husbeast the bad news and decided to go grocery shopping. It was becoming pretty clear that we weren't really meant to have a new puppy. To say I was a little depressed would be pretty accurate of my mood as I roamed up and down the canned food aisle at the grocery store.

My phone suddenly rang and I found a very excited husbeast on the other end. He had been in contact with a second person from the Craigslist search unbeknownst to me. Apparently about a minute after I texted him the bad news this woman had called him asking if we wanted to come see the puppy they had.

Not wanting to allow something else bad to happen we agreed to come out at once. I sprinted through the grocery store and ran to the house to pick  up the husbeast. We threw the groceries into the kitchen and were out the door like a shot.

The entire drive up to Denton we talked about how we were not getting our hopes up. For all we knew this puppy could not be what we were looking for. He might have the wrong personality, he might not take to us, he might have been adopted in the hour it took us to get there after we received the call. In short we were prepared for the worst.

When we pulled up to the house the entire family was sitting on the front porch with the puppy in the teenage daughters arms. I tried not to look at his fuzzy little face and notice how ridiculously adorable he was. I tried to ignore the way his little nub for a tail wiggled with excitement. I tried not to watch his tongue lull out as he yawned widely at us. I was not going to fall in love with him just yet.

I of course failed as much as the husbeast did. The moment they placed that puppy in his arms I knew that he was the perfect puppy. He was docile and sweet and cuddly. He was full blood German Rottweiler which was exactly what the husbeast wanted. He was one day shy of 9 weeks old. He was healthy and still available.

We talked to the family for about half an hour so that we could make sure the puppy was coming from a healthy and loving environment (since with breeds like Rottweilers you sometimes get people breeding them for all the wrong reasons) and the family could make certain that we were going to do right by the puppy. Once everyone was assured that this puppies past had been good and his future was going to be better we agreed that this was a good match.

I handed the lady the money, they petted the pup one last time and made us promise we would send pictures as he grew, and we were on our way with puppy in arms. It felt completely surreal. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop as we pulled away from the house with our new pup slumbering in my arms.

It was a very long, frustrating, and painful road to find our new furbaby, but in the end I feel that we were really just waiting for this one to come along. This baby was the one meant for us the entire time. We are so very happy.

Welcome home Nero!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Little things

It is the little things that you overlook that make up love. These are just a few things that remind me that the husbeast loves me.

- He never buys me flowers for my birthday, anniversary, or valentines day, and most certainly  never buys them when he has done something wrong. He only buys them for me on random seemingly insignificant days to remind me I am special even on a lonely Tuesday in March.

- He has never bought me roses because he knows I do not particularly care for them and would prefer simple white daisies to anything else.

- He lets me put the cucumbers from my salad on his plate when we are in restaurants.

- He always lets me steal fries off of his plate with little to no grumbling.

- He knows to bring me apple juice when I am sick because I prefer it to orange juice.

- He knows to put a bowl of ice on the nightstand when I have an upset stomach so I won't dehydrate.

- He cheers for the Longhorns because he knows I like them.

- He always makes me my own pot of gumbo that has no seafood in it.

- He never makes me eat the heel of the bread because he knows I like the middle parts better.

- He gives me the bigger bowl of ice cream and have the first pick of Popsicle flavors.

- He reads me the funny bits out of books I will never read.

- He turns off the ceiling fan when he gets out of bed in the morning so I won't be cold once he is no longer in the bed.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

For days when we forget

I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident. I am confident.

I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful. I am beautiful.

I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented. I am talented.

I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy.

I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved. I am loved.

I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good. I am good.

And so are you.

If anyone tells you otherwise, ignore them. They are small sad petty people who are unhappy with themselves and only strive to make you as miserable as they are. Their hurtful words and lies are meant to do nothing more than undermine your happiness and highlight what pathetic wretches they are.

You can pity them that they can not take responsibility for their own misery and must instead infringe on others happiness with vicious lies and blatant untruths. To give them more than your pity is a waste of your time and energy and only feeds their wretchednesss.

Take all those hateful and hurtful words, lies, and rumors, and know that they are just words that mean nothing. Your worth shines through, and no one can take that from you but you. Do not let them win.

Take a deep breath and let it go because they are weak, cowardly, petty, sad, wretches who are not worth your time, and the louder they insist upon their hatefulness, the clearer that becomes to the world as a whole.

You are confident. You are beautiful. You are talented. You are worthy. You are loved. You are good.

And so am I.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Adventures in dining out

Last Wednesday the husbeast and I decided we were entirely too tired (or possibly lazy) to cook dinner and opted to go out to eat instead. We try not to eat out too often, but during faire it happens more than I would like to admit. My energy and give-a-damn is often too low to cook on a weeknight.

Eating out is supposed to be a nice relaxing event. I don't have to cook, I don't have to clean, all I have to do is enjoy the food and the company of the husbeast. Of course if you have spent much time dining out in America you know that the experience is often anything but relaxing since you have to deal with humanity while dining out.

I knew the evening was going to be a long one when the hostess seated us in a mostly empty dining room next to the only other occupied table, which had a toddler sitting at it. I don't mind children in restaurants as long as they are not screaming or throwing things. We were at what is a family restaurant so kids are to be expected.

People who have children need to eat too, and deserve to eat out. I do not expect them to hide until their kids can be taught to sit quietly at a dinner table. I do however expect that they will be considerate enough to remove a screaming and disruptive child from a restaurant instead of ignoring or indulging them.

This child was not misbehaving. This child was not screaming and throwing things. This child was simply happy. Unfortunately happy translated into incredibly shrill squeals of glee that caused me to flinch each time it happened.

I was going to simply ask to be moved to a table on the other side of the dining room. The sound was only jarring because it was less than a foot from me. Really the hostess should have thought better than to seat us where she did.

Before I could do anything the husband hopped up and took his happy baby out of the restaurant. I was pleasantly surprised. It is always nice when the parent recognizes that their child is being too loud and takes them for a walk to calm down.

The next thing I know the wife has come over to our table to very earnestly apologize for having disturbed our dinner. We tried to tell her it was alright, but she was insistent that loud children were not acceptable. She told us that before she had a baby she always hated being in a restaurant with people who wouldn't do anything about loud children, and she wasn't going to be that person.

We thanked her for her consideration. It was only then that we realized that the husband had not just taken the kid out for a walk to calm down; they had their meals packed up, paid the bill, and were leaving entirely. I was a little shocked seeing as how they had just been served their food. If I had known that was what they were doing I would have bought their dinner for them.

It was so very nice of them to consider how others meals were being effected by their child. It was refreshing to know that there are parents out there like this. I felt bad that they did not get to enjoy their dinners at the restaurant. There is part of me that feels guilty that they left. At the same time I really am glad they did.

So dinner started out strange, though it did give me a little more faith in humanity.

I should have known that it wasn't going to go uphill from there.

Tune in next time to find out how my new found faith in humanity was dashed by some irreverent youths.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Ode to a Best Friend

My Niki! - Photo by me!
This is my Niki, isn't she pretty? Niki is one of my best friends in the entire world. She also happens to be my partner in costuming out at faire. She and I have been doing this together for two years now, and honestly I don't know what I would do without her.

She is my rock and she is my sanity. When I am ready to scream and quit she is the one who calms me down. I am fairly certain I have not ripped all of my hair out yet because of her. I know no matter what I am not in this insanity alone, and that is often enough for me.

There are a lot of people who don't understand that Niki and I are partners in this whole costuming venture. Neither one of us is in charge and never have been. If you want to blame someone for being in charge you have to look to our director, as he is the one that makes all the real decisions. Our sole job is to make sure that the cast is wearing the correct things to help realize our directors vision for the faire.

We do this by working together and sharing equal responsibility for every decision made.  Neither of us make any decisions unless the other has been consulted. Whether it be as simple as color or fabric approvals or something more complicated like actual design aspects, we always consult one another. I spend more time carbon copying her on emails than just about anything else it seems.

We have both been doing costuming in some form or another for a very long time, so we know that the other knows what they are talking about. I know that she has researched our period of costuming just as much as I have so we never worry that the other is going to suddenly start to try and pull in non period aspects of dress. That alone is very important.

Matt (Thomas Cromwell)- Photo by Ariana Berdy
I tend to end up handling most of the paperwork and bureaucracy of the job. One of us has to make all of the announcements, posts to the e-groups, and be a main point of contact. It turns out I have a desk job where I sit in front of a computer all day and can easily draft emails and make lists and spreadsheets to my hearts delight. It allows me to be useful while I would otherwise not be able to contribute to the process.

Niki handles the lions share of the sewing that we are responsible for. She doesn't have a job outside sewing so she is able to dedicate large amounts of time to physically working on costuming. I will take in minor repair work and basic construction that I can squeeze into my evenings while Niki does all the heavy lifting.

Let me break it down a little more for you:
There are about 126 memebers of the cast.
32 of these people are wearing a costume made by Niki. (12 of those are bodices only)
Husbeast (Anne de Montmorency) - Photo by Bill McCurry
23 of those costumes she made this year.
3 of those costumes made this year were full mens court garb (one being the husbeast), including one great coat.
 4 of those costumes made this year were full womens court gowns (one being mine).

So she is doing a lot of work. We thankfully  have some other insanely talented seamstresses working with us also making beautiful costumes for us, because I honestly don't think Niki could do any more work. She started sewing for this season back in October, though she only got a few completed since most of the work was for new cast members.

Doing this job isn't simple. We don't just get to let everyone make something vaguely historically accurate that they like. If it were that simple my job wouldn't really be a job. There is making sure that the costuming is as historically accurate as we can manage while understanding this is theater and there are modern restrictions we have to account for.

Joe Baker (Jean-Pierre le Droit)- Photo by Bill McCurry
The harder part of this is the fact that this is an ensemble show with a directorial vision. Our performers have to in the end make that vision complete. We have to assure uniformity to a point so that our groups are recognizable and at the same time have to create a sense of identity and individuality for each character.

I love that we get to go through character class with all of our performers so that we can make costuming adjustments as is needed. I can look at our coffin maker and know that we need to make sure she is in darker muted colors with clean simple lines because it accentuates her characters personality. At the same time I can look at our nun and know that we need  to make sure that her habit has extra room in it because she is going to be fighting.

Me! - Photo By Ron Wheeler

Our work won't stop just because faire starts. Every day will start with us laying eyes on all of our actors to make sure they are still looking their best. Many times you will find us backstage patching pants, replacing buttons, and doing other last minute emergency repairs. Come the end of the weekend we will typically each have at least one item of costuming coming home with us to be fixed or altered. I spend far more of my day checking peoples crotches for holes than I ever should.

Every day from the first to the last Niki is there for me. We lean on one another so much that I am not sure we can stand on our own most days. I swear at this point we share a brain. We vent to one another, and laugh together, and work together, and I can't imagine it any other way.

Niki is the most important person in my faire world. I am not certain she realizes just how much she does for all of us. She would say that she is just doing what she does, which is just another reason she is so amazing.

Thank you for being my Niki. Thank you for holding me up when I want to fall down. Thank you for making me laugh when I want to cry. Thank you for slapping some sense into me when I need it. Thank you for making me beautiful, not to mention the rest of the cast. Thank you for being my sounding board. Thank you for standing by my side and holding my hand. Thank you for making all the pain and annoyance bearable. Thank you for letting me be your thumb. Thank you for being you. 

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

March Madness

March has sort of gotten away from me. I swear that it was just yesterday that February was still in my rear view mirror. Now all I can see it April looming in front of me and a jumble of March lying in my wake. Such is the way of time.

March is always a hard time of year for me because of faire prep. My days disappear in a blur of costuming, fight practice, rehearsals, and desperate attempts to keep the rest of my life in order between very small fits of sleep. It is a really damn thing that I love faire so much since chaos and exhaustion are my rewards for all my effort just now.

The end is in sight. We have our final dress this weekend which means two weeks from Saturday it will be time for faire again. I am not saying things won't still be hectic once faire actually starts, but they will be quite a  bit easier. In theory all the hard stuff that comes with preparing for faire ends once faire begins and then we are just left with a routine of no time to get the general maintenance done.

Hopefully I can find time to be less zombie like in my day to day life once the stress and worry of workshops are done. Once I am sure that all my cast members are dressed and that the husbeast and I have all of the things we need perhaps I can relax just a little. Perhaps then I can focus on some other things in my life like, oh say, my blog.

So basically what I am saying is that I am sorry for the radio silence of late. I have chosen to bead sleeve panels, and field costuming questions, and do character research, and occasionally sleep instead of blogging, and I don't regret that at all. Honestly all of that has left me pretty brain dead so I am not certain I could have written anything entertaining or interesting anyways.

Anyways, those are my excuses. Please stay tuned for us to return to our regular minion ways in April.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Yes I have a sword and I know how to use it

It is a Monday morning and I am limping into the office again. My boss gives me a strange look as I wince in pain just trying to type.

"You alright?" he asks politely.
"Yea, sword fighting." I answer with a painful shrug.

He just blinks at me a moment and then goes back to what he was doing. After 6 years he has simply stopped asking.

I sometimes forget that my hobbies are not what are considered normal. It doesn't really occur to me that my coworks are going to balk when I tell them I can't come to happy hour because I need to go home and work on fight choreography. I mean I would rather swing a sword at my friends than drink with my coworkers any day of the week, but they find that a little hard to grasp.

I remember I was working at a different job about 8 years ago and I was having a conversation with the husbeast about our evening plans which included going to a park with a bunch of friends and sword fighting.

"Did you pick up all the swords? Don't forget both scimitars and the short sword." I was saying to him trying to remember all the weapons he was likely to need since he is often forgetful. It was a very normal sort of conversation for me.

It was only as I was hanging up that I realized every coworker that was in earshot was now standing and staring at me with looks of utter confusion on their faces. I had to look around to make sure they were looking at me and not some sort of three headed monster lurking in my cube.

"Were you just talking to someone about swords?"
"Because we are going sword fighting tonight."

There again were those blank blinking stares before they sat down without questioning me. I am not sure if they were afraid to ask more or just didn't care enough to inquire. I do know that they never quite looked at me the same way again.

Every once in a while I get someone who thinks it is interesting or cool and will ask me a million questions about it, but really those are few and far between. We just live in a society where people who actually sword fight are considered weird.

They say weird, I say awesome. It is a damn good thing I stopped caring what most people think of me a long time ago. I am weird and do weird things with my weird friends and I love it. You can go have beers with the office all you like, I will be over here swinging a sword at the people I love.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Cold flashes

Winter in Texas is dumb. On Saturday it was sunny and almost 80 outside making for an incredibly pleasant day. Sunday it was 15 degrees outside with snow flurries and thunder sleet making the city shut down. That means we experienced pretty much every season in less than 24 hours. That is dumb.

What makes this schizophrenic weather particularly annoying is the fact that it is already faire season for me. We are smack dab in the middle of our workshop process which means I am outside in a cow pasture from 8:30 in the morning until 6:00 at night all weekend long no matter what the weather is like. Do you have any idea how unpleasant a 60 degree temperature shift can be?

Thankfully our director is kind and wise and did not make us stay outside all day long on Sunday. We powered through the two classes that seemed most important and were in our cars headed home by noon. We are not actually dumb enough to think that faire is more important than our health or safety. We are however stubborn enough to try and get something done.

We are also some of the most dedicated and professional performers I have ever had the privilege of working with. Even though we were standing around outside in the freezing cold no one really complained about it. Oh sure people were shivering and commenting on the fact that they couldn't feel their toes/fingers/lips, or remarking on the pain that was setting in from the bitter cold that surrounded us, but no one was really whining about it.

In fact most everyone was smiling. Everyone was participating as much as they were physically capable despite being so incredibly uncomfortable. People were attentive during lecture and active during exercises. Everyone treated it like another day of workshops with some unfortunate weather.

I have always been proud to be a part of this performance company. I have always had nothing but glowing things to say about them. I am also always so pleasantly surprised to see how this cast pulls through difficult times and overcome obstacles with grace and professionalism.

Texas winters are dumb, but faire is not.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Fear of disappointment

I was a fairly good kid growing up. I was pretty quiet, and pretty calm, and wasn't really one to get into too much trouble. This is not to say I was some sort of angel; I definitely wasn't. I was just a fairly mild kid. Of course when I was bad, as children tend to be, I was punished.

In my house punishments were pretty standard; picking your own switches to be spanked with, time out, denial of TV/games/time with friends, and other threats that parents make. Of all the punishments that my mother inflicted on me the one that I always feared most was her simply saying she was disappointed in me.

I could handle being spanked or denied luxuries, I just couldn't handle the idea that I had done something that disappointed her. Angering her was not pleasant but it was acceptable not disappointment. I am not sure she realized just how much the phrase "I am disappointed in you" could affect me.

It wasn't just my mother that I feared disappointing. It turns out that the idea of disappointing anyone that I respect or that looks up to me is positively terrifying. I want so badly to make the people I care about proud of me and to justify their faith in me that the idea of failing them makes me queasy.

Having this particular fear makes being in a position of authority over a large group of people that I have massive amounts of respect for incredibly difficult. I am placed in the position of teaching them and guiding them so that they can be successful in our art, which is a huge responsibility.

I sit there imparting knowledge on them and I can't help but wonder if they realize that I am as nervous and insecure as they are. Our first year students, and our vets too, are looking up to me and wanting to make me proud and not disappoint me while at the same time I am wanting to do the same for them.

I am always afraid that one day that I will fail so epically that they all stop and look at me and think that there was never any reason to have that respect for me. I fear that they will see me as some sort of charlatan who was just pretending to be knowledgeable. Living up to others expectations is really stressful.

I have to remind myself that I have been doing this for a long time and been very successful at it. I have to remind myself of the extensive training and practical application I have under my belt. I have to remind myself that people that are smarter and more talented than me that I have absolute faith in put me in this position and they had to believe that I could do this. I have to remember I am completely capable.

Still I don't think I will ever stop being shocked when everything turns out right. I don't think I will ever truly get used to being told that I have done a good job. I don't think I will ever stop worrying about disappointing people.

I just have to remember that the people I don't want to disappoint are just as afraid of disappointing me as I am of disappointing them. I have to remember that we are all going to fail at some point but we have each other there to help the other up to try again.

We are never alone.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Waking to genius

5am is where genius lives. At least that is where my genius lives, which if you think about it is more than a little inconvenient. I am not the sort of person who all that often will voluntarily haul my cookies out of bed before 7am, so 5am is normally right out. Still all my best ideas happen at 5am.

I have discovered through the years that when I have a problem I just can't solve or am in desperate need of a particularly clever solution to an issue, I will wake up and suddenly have the perfect answer. It is always a completely unexpected answer. When I roll over and look at the clock it is always 5am.

It is like the epiphany fairy visits me at night instead of the sandman and bestows upon me brilliance. Of course what with it being so damn early and me being mostly asleep I have to fight really hard to keep the brilliant clever solution in my head until I actually get up and can put it down on paper. This doesn't always happen unfortunately.

I have tried keeping pen and paper by my bed. That has never done me any good. If I can remember to write something down I will not be able to read it in the morning. The scrawl on the paper is more illegible than a doctors note. If I can make out any of the words they will be so out of context that I can't make sense of them. I mean what the hell does 'orange chipolte damask' mean?

Most of the time I employ the method of repeating the solution out loud repeatedly until I actually wake up. I will say the solution over and over again, to the point that I will be saying it in my dreams. Every time I wake up from a dream the first words out of my mouth will be the thought I am clinging to.

I have to imagine that this is strange for the husbeast. He is well accustomed to me being a sleep talker but when I keep saying the same two or three words over and over for several hours it has to be confusing. Me quacking like a duck in my sleep is totally normal. Me saying 'brown George' for three hours is a little odd.

Still I don't question the brilliance that is bestowed on me in the wee hours of the morning. My  mother always taught me to not look a gift horse in the mouth and I suppose that is true even when you are half asleep. We could all use a little genius in our lives and should be happy to take it whenever it comes along.

Where do you find your genius at?

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Accentuate the positive

I have hit a point where my to do list has more things on it than there are hours in my day to complete them. I have the frustration of being in charge of things but in control of nothing. I am constantly tired and feel worn thin. I am trying to keep everyone happy while still getting things done properly.

In short life is exhausting.

Even though I am sore and tired and frustrated this is a good day. Always remember to focus on the good.

-This morning I woke up snuggled up against the husbeast with the kitten nestled into my neck purring loudly and my old man cat curled up against my back snoring softly.

-The first thing I was greeted with when I crawled out of bed was the happy tail thumping of my dog waiting to say good morning to me.

-The music on the radio during my commute was fabulous and kept me smiling and dancing the entire way to the office.

-I did not get stuck behind any stupid drivers.

-My breakfast was warm and tasty and satisfying.

-I get to see friends tonight in a completely social capacity where my only responsibility is making tacos.

-I get to have tacos for dinner.

-I just hit 80,000 words on my current writing project.

-Work is quiet and undemanding so I can allow my brain to relax.

-I finally beat level 260 on Candy Crush

-It is sunny and warm outside so I can take a nice leisurely stroll around the building on my lunch break.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Do unto others

Yesterday as I was walking into the office I found myself just behind a gentleman who was also heading into my office. As I was walking behind him I couldn't help but notice that he looked like he got dressed in the dark. He was wearing brown shoes, black slacks, a black belt, and an obviously navy jacket. I would be willing to bet he was also wearing white cotton socks, because that was really the level of oblivious this guy was dressing to.

When we got to the glass doors into the office he swiped his badge and then opened the door, stepping back and holding it for me. All I could think at that moment was that his mother might not have taught him how to dress but at least she taught him good manners. Fashion transgression forgiven.

It was later brought to my attention through some well meaning people, that perhaps my assessment of the situation was wrong. It wasn't that it was thought that this man was not fashion challenged, because everyone agreed he was, it was that it was the fact that some people would find his holding the door for me insulting. By some people I mean some women.

I have been hearing these anti chivalry rumblings for a while now. There is an entire school of thinking among some more militant feminists that men holding the door for a woman is sexist and is somehow a way for the man to say that the woman is incapable of doing things for herself. These women would say I am betraying my sex by allowing a man to treat me in such a fashion.

Now don't get me wrong, I am all for feminism. I am all for equal opportunities, equal pay, and not having someone else tell me how to manage my own body. These are all good things. I however can't get around to thinking that any time a man is being polite that it is some sort of sexist misogynistic act.

Look people, I am from the south, I was raised by good southern women, and in a military household; you hold doors for people. I hold doors for people all the time. If I am walking in, and am not in an insane rush, I will pause and hold the door for the person walking in behind me. It doesn't matter if it is a man or a woman, I just do it because it is polite.

I will go out of my way to grab the door for someone who looks like they are overburdened. I am not trying to say that you are weak and incapable, I am just saying you have two purses, a laptop case, a backpack, a lunch sack, a stack of loose files, and a hot coffee in your hands and it might be nice to have the door opened for you so you don't have to worry about wearing scalding coffee or having files scattered across the lobby floor. It is just me being nice.

We have to accept that not every gesture is some calculated measure by the opposite sex to undermine our power as women. Just because a man wants to walk you to the door, pay for your dinner, open the car door for you, or walk on the side of the sidewalk where the cars are more likely to swerve over and hit you, does not necessarily mean he thinks that you are weak and incapable. It very likely just means that he is being polite.

Here is what I want you to do the next time you think someone is being misogynistic in a small act; I want you to forget that it is a man doing this for you. I want you to forget you are a woman. I want you to think if this is a nice thing for one human to do for another. If the answer is yes, then you might be over reacting.

Ladies let the guy pay for dinner tonight, next time you can pay. If he weren't dating you and was just a friend who wanted to buy you a meal would you let him? My friends buy my dinner all the time and I do the same for them. It is just a nice thing to be able to buy someone a meal. Let him be nice. He isn't saying you are incapable of paying, he is saying he likes you and wants to do something nice for you.

There has to be a balance in the world. Yes women need to be respected, and treated equally, and have all the same opportunities a man has. I don't think that means women should be treated like men. I think it means that people should be treated as people regardless of sex.

Not all men are strong protectors, but some of them are and there is nothing wrong with letting them be that. Not all women are delicate flowers, but some of them are and there is nothing wrong with letting them be that. We should let people be what they are. If a boy wants to be a ballerina, or a soldier, or a stay at home dad, or a girl, we should let them be that.  If a girl wants to be a ballerina, or a soldier, or a senator, or a stay at home housewife, or a boy, we should let them be that.

Above all else we should strive to be nice to everyone. We should open the doors for people not because they are incapable, but because it is just polite. We should buy meals for friends not because we are trying to say we have more money, but because it is nice to buy someone a meal. We should let people protect us if they want to, because you protect the people that you love.

We should do all of these things not because men are men and women are women. We should do all of those things and more because people, regardless of sex, deserve to be loved and treated well. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Monday, February 10, 2014

New generation

Orientation for faire was this past weekend. It was bitterly cold at times, it was long hours of hard work, and today I am so sore that it actually hurts to type. None of that really matters considering I got to spend time with my much missed faire family doing something that we all passionately love. There was also the added bonus of getting to welcome in all of our new SAPA (Scarborough Academy of Performing Arts) members, oh which there were 31.

31 SAPlings (the nickname an incoming group coined some years ago and has stuck). This is a huge incoming class. I can't remember having this many in recent years. I think the last class close to this size might have been the year I joined cast, and I am pretty sure our number was in the low 20's if that many.

The amount of new talent that just walked through our gates is actually a little intimidating if I am being honest. I mean with these new folks we have upped our numbers to around 120 cast members. The more of us there are, the more amazing things we can do. It is going to be epic.

It is also a little intimidating that the majority of the new SAPlings are young. A large number of them are between 17 and 21. In recent years the majority of our incoming cast members were in there late 20's and up with the occasional under 18 thrown in for good measure. The median age of our cast just dropped by a decade.

I really do love seeing all these kids joining cast though. I know they probably don't think of themselves as kids, and I typically don't think of myself as being old, but that is the way it felt on Saturday as I was looking at them running about with boundless energy. They were everywhere taking everything in, and I was doing good not to be exhausted by what I was doing.

They were like magic though. They were all so excited. They are these little balls of potential that are so eager to learn what we do and go out and create the magic that is faire that it was almost inspiring. Listening to them get excited about the prospect of the adventure they are embarking on was invigorating.

I remember when I started in SAPA 12 years ago how thrilling it all was. It was also mildly terrifying, but the terror could never overshadow the sheer exhilaration of what we were doing. No matter how intimidating any of it seemed (and trust me I was truly intimidated standing next to the vets) I couldn't get past the overwhelming excitement of the performance that we were preparing for. I remember the anticipation was so intense, I never thought I would make it to opening day.

Of course I did and I never looked back.

I hope that all of our SAPlings, not just the young kid, can find what I found here. I hope that they are as excited as I was and still am. I hope that they soak all of the next eight weeks up, and then give their everything for the eight weeks that follow. I hope that they find that they are part of our outrageous family and know how excited we are to have them here. I hope that they get caught up in the magic and find the intense joy of sharing that magic with every person that walks through the gates. I hope that this is an epic adventure that they will cherish forever. I hope that they hit the ground running with us and never look back.

I love this time of year.

Time to make the magic.