Monday, June 30, 2008

A Singular Impression Things Are Moving Too Fast

Buckets o' apologies to everyone who emailed--I'm not going to be able to reply tonight, since my computer refuses to connect to the internets, and I don't want to tie up my (new) roommate's PC too long.

I just wanted to update and say that I'm moved into my new apartment. Dad, who is the awesomest dad on the planet, drove down from Wisconsin with all my Chicago boxes (yay, Nelson biography & fully poseable 12" figure of Washington!) and helped me move.

Repeat: awesomest. dad. EVER.

The good news is I also got a real, honest to goodness, grown-up, brand spankin' new bed. The bad news it'll be delivered Thursday. So I'm not really settled in yet. Dad and I did all the shopping necessary for a new place Friday afternoon and spent Saturday bumming around the historical section. I got arrested--more on that later--and then went to work at the Toymakers for a couple hours and made a small child cry. Sunday we went to the Mariner's Museum, Newport News' answer to the NMM. Imagine my surprise when I discovered they had a whole exhibit dedicated to you-know-who called "THE NELSON TOUCH."

Naturally, Dad and I spent most of the weekend eating and making merry, so my first day back at work I was feeling a little tired, little overwhelmed. But that didn't stop me from making pasta for dinner--my first cooked meal in over three months. Woo indeed.

It's nine pm, I'm bloody exhausted and I still have to go make some kind of sense of my room. I promise I'll write more later. I'm still hangin' in there, but it's going to be a looooong week.

Thanks Dad. Happy birthday!!!!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Today's Forecast: Highs & Lows

Today was both frustrating and fun. I got a shirt back--twice--to redo botched repairs, and then I spent all afternoon fixing the lining of CW's version of this coat:

I was hanging a jacket up when I turned and spotted a special event coat, a coat that I could have seen from a mile away because it was a) not an era CW normally deals with and b) a British naval uniform. So I naturally made an idiot out of myself by petting the pretty, pretty gold braid, which prompted an amused co-worker to point out that it needed a button replacing.

I volunteered.

Yay, lapful of awesome!

I was quite proud of myself for correctly identifying it as a 1760's captain's uniform before I was told that it was Captain Cook's coat. Captain Cook, of course, was famous for circumnavigating the globe. Also, being eaten.

So that was fun. But that was nearly eight hours ago and I'm tired. My hands are hurting from overtime and sewing through wool all day. Now I'm going to go home and pack...and possibly prance around in my July 4th costume, which was issued to me today. woo.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Lifestyle to Which I've Become Accustomed

I don't have a car, I don't particularly want a car, and I'm getting along fine without one. But people I meet on the street or people I go to church with don't know this--they see me strapping on my helmet and assume that I'm doing it for the environment. Or because of the high cost of gas. More than once in the past couple weeks I've had folks come up to me and say "I see you're riding your bike!" with a metaphorical pat on the back. Meaning "Thanks for saving the planet!" *pat pat* or "Gas sure is getting expensive!" *pat pat* And I almost hate to shatter the illusion by saying "Well, actually, I don't have a car." But I do. This almost always silences the person. A few blinks, perhaps, but the concept of nocar ownership is so foreign to most Americans that they can't comprehend it.

Sorry, the image you've got of the eco-warrior is the complete wrong picture. What you're actually looking at is a young adult struggling with student loans and a high cost of living. Same picture, different social problem.

Inadvertently, however, I've become one of those bitchy bikers who shouts things like "nice use of the turn signal, jerk!" as I'm cycling through a yellow-tending-to-red-light. I'm actually getting a little vain of my gluteus maximus, even though my sculpted posterior is an unexpected benefit of my person-powered transportation. The truth is, if I could, I'd have a car. Sure. Who wouldn't? But I can't afford it, so I don't have one, and instead--you know how they say that smiling puts you in a better mood, even if you're not? Well, biking has definitely turned me into a more enviromentally conscious person, even if it's just enjoying the smell of the pines on a hot day.

Monday, June 23, 2008

smoke on the waaaaater...

I'm going to apologise for that last post: there's a place for whingy, why-me melodrama, and NLD is not it. Sorry for making you all read that crap. I know I have one of those obsessive personalities that makes me constantly re-evaluate my life, but I shouldn't subject my Loyal Readers to it. No, no, I save that kind of stuff for my journal: let the generations of the future suffer through it. Can't you just picture it? "Mom, wth, seriously?!" I promise to stop and count my blessings before I start whinging next time. Thanks everyone for the supportive slaps upside the head...just what I need to knock me back to reality.

Yesterday I ended up going back to Yorktown for another swim. I put on less sunscreen this time, so I'm beautifully tanned, save for the two pink squares on my back where I couldn't quite reach into the corners of my suit. Whoops. I was only there for about an hour (just long enough to grab a quick swim and a Ben & Jerry's Cookie Cookie Sundae oh my god...), and by the time I got back to Williamsburg it was thundering and lightening. Not too much rain, just enough to make the tourists run for the nearest building. I spent the rest of the afternoon napping.

Today I have a sore throat, which I blame on the fires currently raging in North Carolina and the Dismal Swamps. Interesting historical note: Geo. Washington owned stock in the Dismal Swamps and was part of a group trying to drain it and develop it for sale, but it never happened. I suspect this was because he was busy being distracted by being president. Anyway, the smoke from these fires is drifting northward, right over the Peninsula, and since I spent quite a bit of time outside on my bike (read: panting for air) yesterday I think I probably inhaled more than was good for me. Hence, sore throat. I'm going to have to stop and get some Haribo gummies.

I stayed late again tonight helping out with the Fife & Drum coats. Imagine, if you will, a bag full of pieces of coat, red and blue wool, white lining, a smaller bag of pewter buttons, ties, thread, etc, and no directions. Oh, sure, there's a mockup on a mannequin in the corner, but exactly how you put this together is up to you. And it's totally backwards from what you'd think: you want to put the cuff buttons on last, don't you? No! You put them on first, punching a hole through that pristine wool with an awl--a hole you CAN'T TAKE BACK--and then tie them together with a bit of India tape and THEN you sew in the lining. Just thinking of it gives me the vapours. I am going incredibly slowly: two sleeves done and my coworkers are already attaching the name tags on theirs. But I want it to be perfect. And hey--better to practise on company fabric before I get my hands on my own stuff.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

What to Do with my Life (pt 72)

Have you ever seen a movie where an ex-junkie, now reformed and living a normal life in everyday company falls completely, totally, utterly off the wagon and goes on a heroin and cocaine fueled binge that only stops when they wake up, three days later, disoriented and not knowing where they are, usually someplace like Neasden?

Okay, now picture that, but with dogs.

So I thought I was doing okay with the no dogs in my life thing, ya know, you get used to not having a small furry to trip over. But this morning I went to a "meet and greet" with the local greyhound rescue group and spent two glorious hours surrounded by needlenosed ex-racers. And I am totally out of my gourd for a dog. It's all I talk about. I am covered in dog fur, as God and nature intended, and even if I don't end up with a greyt, I'm so gaga for a puppy that I may actually do someone physical harm if I don't get dog.

Which, naturally, has led me to reflect on my life. One of the women I work with is contemplating buying a house with her nearly-fiancee who just joined the Navy, all the while making fabulous reproduction period fashions and eventually going back to school for a master's degree in historical design. And she's 22. I, on the other hand, have cul-de-sac'd here in Williamsburg. Don't get me wrong, I still love it here. I love the history, the costumes, the people, the two kinds of roaches. I'm so grateful to have a full-time job in this economy, with health insurance, and I'm looking forward to moving into an apartment that has both a kitchen and private bathroom. But I'm not using my degree, I'm not even writing very much anymore. Without any pressure to produce written words--either for a class or other public consumption--I've just sort of drifted away from it. The Goals of my Life include A) getting a dog and, uh, B) well, that's pretty much it.

I feel like I'm not building on anything I've done. Other people my age are buying houses, building lasting relationships with members of the opposite sex, demanding higher wages, raising children, and saving the planet. I'm not leaving so much as a footprint on this world. My colleage noted how "lucky" I was to be able to pack up and move anytime I wanted--I wanted to shake her and say "no, for once in my life I'd really LIKE to have some things tying me to a particular area, person, anything that stops me from picking up and moving." I'd really like to buy a house, raise children, publish a novel, maybe even, ya know, get married, but that just doesn't seem to be happening. People keep telling me I need to move back to London. I wish it were that simple.

So I'm going to get a dog. And that will be what I do.

I didn't mean for this to be a depressing post...I'm afraid I've got the hypo today, even though I spent the morning with puppies and in a few minutes I'm going to go get a wasabi (wasabiii! hyah!) veggie roll. I think I'm just lonely and reflective. I need to meet more people. Next week is going to be fun: I'm finally going to get to train for the military programs so next Thursday I'll be learning how to fire a black powder musket. And we all know what happens next: that's right, breeches. Jealous? Oh yeah.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Red stockings. Red stockings are key.

Ahhh, the Fourth of July. Never was I so ambivalent about a holiday. I used to love the Fourth--the going out, the fireworks, the food--then I stopped hanging out with the people who used to make the Fourth fun. Then my grandma died. Then I spent two years in a country that doesn't celebrate it. So I'm a little "meh" when it comes to really digging in and gettin' my patriotism on.

This year the Fourth means one thing and one thing only: overtime. I've signed up to work as an extra in the extravaganza that CW throws. I'll be standng around, directing people to the bathrooms, telling them what time the fife & drum corps start and no, you can't go there, that area is roped off for fireworks. Sounds brilliant, right? Ah yes, but here's the fun part. I get to dress up in costume. Because we're so low on stock, I didn't get much say on what I'd be wearing, except when it came to accessories. So I'll have on a boring blue petticoat, a grey jacket and red stockings. Awesome.

And our boss announced today that the new Fife & Drum coats need finishing touches put on--oh, and the shop needs to build five more. In nine days. Bring it, I thought, this sounds like, oh, any show I've ever worked on. So I'll be staying late, fray-checking and hook-and-eyeing regimentals.

I'm trying to get some extra money together because I'm going to be moving in a week and a half, and I need to buy some furniture. Also I want to get a dog, and that's not cheap either. So it's good for me to be working my butt off now, while I have the time and the energy--I just hope the weather stays a reasonable 80 degrees like it's been. But we were also asked today how we'd feel about going to a four-day, ten-hour workweek. Ostensibly, to save on gas. I'm ambivalent about it--it's a good idea and if I had Fridays off I'd be able to write more--but on the other hand, I couldn't leave a dog home alone for ten hours. And a dog is key. So we'll see. Either way it's going to be a lot of extra hours hunched over the sewing machine...I might need to invest in some new music.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


So much for Moby Dick being a Nelson-free read...

"...the wall which formed [the pulpit's] back was adorned with a large painting representing a gallant ship beating against a terrible storm off a lee coast of black rocks and snowy breakers. But high above the flying scud and dark-rolling clouds, there floated a little isle of sunlight, from which beamed forth an angel's face; and this bright face shed a distinct spot of radiance upon the ship's tossed deck, something like that silver plate now inserted into the Victory's plank where Nelson fell."

Damnit. He's everywhere.

There's no way that Melville could have known about the silver plate unless he had visited the Victory at some point, which gives me the warm fuzzies. Not only have I stood upon the deck where Nelson fell, I have also stood upon the deck where Melville stood gazing down upon the spot where Nelson fell. Hee.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Things I Know About Moby Dick

I've never read Moby Dick, but it's such a cultural bedrock that I'm familiar with the basic facts. The names of some of the characters--Captain Ahab, Queequeg, "call me Ishmael" and Starbuck--not the coffee. I know it's about one man's mad obsession with the white whale. The ship is called the Pequod. It takes place in the 1840s. And it wasn't received very well during Melville's lifetime, although many people consider it his best work.

And it's my dad's favourite book.

Dad's not what you might call a "literary person." He reads, but mostly stuff related to his beloved Packers--once he asked me how I managed to keep so many musical librettos straight in my head. "The same way you keep all those Packer stats straight, dad." Smiles of comprehension. So I was very surprised, when I asked him what his favourite book was, to hear Moby Dick. He told me that he read it in high school and it had stuck with him. I was only in high school then myself, and I didn't especially feel up to reading Melville (especially not after reading Billy Budd, thankyouverymuch Mrs. Krchmar...) but it was always on my list of books to read.

So now that I'm into the "research" phase of Bell Hollee, I've decided to read it. I need to branch out into other nautical literature that doesn't involve the British navy. I'm about ten pages into it, and I like it already. It felt strange to see those "familiar" words--"Call me Ishmael"--leading into the body of a story for a change. I like it because Ishmael gets depressed and he goes to sea--exactly what I like to do when I get down. Although, I'm not sure I'd be up for whale-hunting, but I certainly like to drown my sorrows in the nearest body of water. He calls his sadness "hypo" which is short for hypochondriasas, the medical term for depression in the mid-nineteenth century, which is also, incidentally, what Lincoln described his melancholy as.

And already I'm getting that familiar thrill as I read (and occasionally fail to recognise) the nautical words, coming aboard a ship via lines of prose is as familiar to me as a gangway is to Ishmael. I can't wait to see what happens, even though thanks to the permeation of the book I already know how it ends, but I'm looking forward to signing on for the ride.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Apparel of the Masses

When did t-shirts get so expensive? I realised that I have been wearing the same tired t-shirts for years now ("Republicans for Voldemort?" SO 2004!) so I thought I might trot over to CafePress and pick up a couple new ones. I had my eye on one in particular: "Paul Revere Was A Tattletale" which I think is hilarious. But not for $26.99 (including shipping)! Even better was a CW-themed shirt that showed a "caution: historical interpreter crossing" sign. Again, hilarious. Again, 26.99? Darr. Maybe I'll just wander over to one of those "make your own" sites and spit out that "kiss me hardy!" t-shirt I've been dreaming of. :)

Ah, how far we've come in two hundred years. For the past two weeks I've been surrounded--literally--by the outfit below, which was put together by no less than three members of the women's team at CW. Briefly, let me explain how clothes in the 18th century worked...

First, you have a shift, which is a cotton undergarment that goes from your elbows to your knees.

Then stays, which are not a corset. They are heavy cloth and metal, tying up the back, which creates a cone shape in the torso, not the hourglass figure we think of when we see people being winched into corsets.

Then you have hoops. Or not, depending on your status in society. Not "hoops" like Scarlett O'Hara type hoops, but two small cages worn on either hip that create the look of "wide birthing hips" so desired by women of this time. CW's hoops are pocket hoops, meaning there is a hole in the top of the canvas bag that contains the metal cages, so that women can carry their possessions around in their hoops. Alternately, you might wear a regular pocket, which is a pouch that ties around the waist.

Then a petticoat, which is outerwear. A petticoat is not a skirt, although it looks like one. A petticoat has two sets of ties, one ties around the back and the other around the front. A small slit in either side let you get at your pocket. A lot of people ask if the women at CW have cooler clothes for warmer weather. Not really. Usually they'll wear worn-out or lighter weight clothes, but there are no short petticoats here. The alternative is to wear more layers when it gets colder.

On the top is the gown. A shortgown, which goes to about the knees, or a full-on gown, which covers the whole petticoat, except where it's open in the front. In the eighteenth century, the stomacher (the bit that goes across in the front) would have been held closed with straight pins: CW uses hooks and threat eyes. A gown is not a dress, something I've been reminded of repeatedly, as I sit in the middle of the women's team.

Lower-class or working women would have worn jackets, which are not the outerwear of today, but single-layer shirts that are either tied in the front or pinned closed.

An apron would be tied over all to protect your petticoat (or show off your lace, if you're rich), and a kerchief would be around your neck to protect your skin from the sun and your modesty from roving eyes.

Everyone wears a cap, except for people wearing wigs. This is not the "non-period period" mobcap, but a sort of modified bonnet. It doesn't protect your face from the sun: a straw hat would be pinned in place through the hair to shield your eyes and skin.

And then in the winter you'd add a cloak and mitts--mitts have open fingers so women could still be working and sewing even if it was cold. They could also be worn in the summer to protect from the sun. No sunscreen here!

Orange Brocade by ~ColeV on deviantART

So this dress was made for a new production at CW called "Old Maid" that is opening in a couple weeks. This dress is for the Old Maid herself--a woman who is desperately trying to attact a husband. It has two petticoats, the one underneath is barely visible here, but it's pleated across the bottom, and the one on top is gathered like like drapery. They are actually sewn together into the same waist-tape, so that the actress has less around her waist. After this picture was taken, the executive decision was made to use a set of full hoops, so the dress is actually wider than it appears here--about five feet. According to one of the women I work with, who is also teching on this show, the actress has to walk sideways through a door to make her entrance. Which is period accurate. Also hilariously funny. The aquamarine bows and tassels are only pinned on--when the dress comes in for cleaning, they will come off so they won't get crushed by the dry-cleaning process. This picture was stolen off the Deviantart page of the woman who put the gown and petticoat together and figured out how to gather it all up--she's got more geeky details of how it went together for any of you costumers out there. At one point, the petticoat was tied onto a mannequin and hoisted up onto a table for hemming--a feat that required three people--prompting her to note: "It's like raising the flag at Iwo Jima!"

I'm hoping once I move into my new place and have some room to spread out to get some fabric and some patterns and make my own period clothing...first I'd like to make a suit of clothes and then, if I'm still feeling it, a petticoat and gown of my own. Something in green, perhaps...

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Safe Territory

Remind me to relay the conversation about Nicki dating a Navy man some other time.

I just read a blog post over at The Radical Write, who's a friend of a friend, where she talks about associating certain items with friends and loved ones. I do that too--stupid little things, like the Mach 3 razor that's accompanied me for the past six years, purchased when my brother got sick of me stealing his, or the pen from the hotel in Salem where my parents stayed when they took me to Massachusetts for my internship. Things that have been with me for so long I take them for granted unless I stop and think about it.

Then there's the stuff that stops you dead in your tracks and conjures up a memory so vivid that it hurts, right about where your solar plexus is. This happened the other day when a well-meaning friend sent me a link to a website ( that sells British food here in the US--not just McVitties or Cadbury's, but proper British food, like bangers and Bistro gravy. Which is on my list of things to buy when I get a kitchen, so I can have "real" bangers and mash.

But the thing that got me the most was the Robinson's squash. I blogged about squash, oh, years ago now, as one of the things I liked most about Britain. (also: note the reference to breeches and periwigs. sigh.) Basically it's condensed fruit juice: one liter of squash will make ten liters of juice. A splash in a glass will liven up any quick drink of water. There's no squash here in the US, of course, so instead I make Crystal Light instead. And it tastes good. But I'm not thinking about the taste--I'm thinking about walking through a Sainsbury's, giggling at the Aisle of Tea, trying to figure out what some of the products are by their description or the pictures on the packet, getting eggs off the unrefrigerated shelves and buying milk by the half-pint. I'm back in London, back in the most mundane, ordinary, boring parts of living in London, and those are the moments that drive me crazy. That make me have to stop, mentally turn myself away and refocus on the task at hand.

It's okay. London is still there. It's okay.

And when I move to my new place, I'm gonna shell out for the squash.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008


I've been than once that maybe I talk a little too much about politics and some people find it, uh, offputting. I try to be inclusive and openminded, but I guess sometimes my enthusiasm for certain topics comes across as haranguing and partisan. Oops.

So I've tried to stay mainly on neutral topics here, mostly because I know that this is a more conservative area, traditionally. Also I had several family members tell me to knock it off with the politics. Grandma even went so far as to suggest that this may be the reason why I'm not married yet, although I say, if he doesn't like Barack Obama then he's not getting a second date. Anyway, I try to stick to safe topics. But I was forcefully reminded yesterday that even "safe" topics are dynamite in the right setting.

Several of us were chatting about Harry Potter on our break. Okay, I was shouting happily about how I went to Platform 9 3/4 before there even was a Platform 9 3/4! I turned to another colleage and asked if she'd read the books, anticipating either a "yes" or an eye-roll and a "no." Instead I got a polite, "Oh no, I would never, it's the occult." Which brought me to a stop dead in my tracks. Thoughts bubbled up--"But, but, but---!" Convincing arguments, logical reasonings, all sped through my brain. I had read about people who believed that Harry was occultish, but never actually met someone who believed it. I know this person. She is a good person. We get along splendidly.

And we disagree totally, utterly, on the awesomeness of HP.

And I have to be okay with that, because I'm never gonna convince her otherwise, am I? It's not like I can say "oh, just read the books" (which is how all of you fell for it, haha, suckers), because that won't happen. So--and be proud of me, faithful readers--for once in my life, I just shut up and accepted a difference of opinion.

But then later in the afternoon, a similiar situation happened. Granted, this one was slightly more political--another colleage and I were discussing Stephen Colbert's bid to become president in South Carolina and I said "the only reason the Democratic party took him off the ballot in that state was not because he wouldn't uphold the 'ideals and beliefs' of the party--they were genuinely scared that he would win the delegates! And then we would be in a worse situation than we're in now!"

At which point the woman who sits behind me turned around and said "You haven't offended me with anything you say, but I'd just like to tell you that there's two things we don't talk about here: religion and politics." I tried to explain that Stephen Colbert wasn't a "real" politician, but the conversation was effectively over. To me, I wasn't talking politics, I was just pointing out what everyone knew about a tv personality and his crazy attention-seeking media stunt. But to some people, that was too close to the line. So again, I shut up. Sometimes, I guess, respecting other people's opinions means not saying anything.

I want to engage in debate, but I guess sometimes I invite disparate opinions so I can harass them until they agree to my point of view. (see: every conversation I've had with Grandma since I was nineteen) I need to learn that "debating" means sometimes going away without winning. And that I can't just say I like America because we all have different opinions--I need to let those different opinions thrive. And flourish.

But not here on nickilovesdrama. That's why I have a blog after all, isn't it?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

mah pasty white legs: let me show you them

I got out the shorty jean shorts today because it's "satan's a$$" hot again and spent all day freezing in the costume shop. Figures.

But I'm quite proud of the calf muscles that are developing nicely...should I ever get into breeches and stockings, I won't need calf-padding. Oh yeah, baby, it's all me. I'm also quite proud of the fact that yesterday I pulled out onto the road, was passed by a spotty teenager on an expensive bike--and yet I managed to pull even and then leave him eating my dust, all while carrying thirty pounds of groceries on my back.

Mah legs of steel. Let me show you them.

Monday, June 09, 2008

don't lick the cannons

Because it's not just hot, it's "dear God, why are you doing this?" hot, I decided to go to the beach yesterday. "Going" involved three buses: the CW shuttle bus to the Visitor Center, the Yorktown shuttle to, er, Yorktown, and the Yorktown Trolley from the battlefield to the beach. Yorktown, as I'm sure you all know, was the site of the last-ditch battle by Lord Cornwallis to hang onto his toehold in the colonies while being pounded by the Americans from one side and the French Navy on the other. The beach is actually a series of small, semi-circular sand dunes, protected from the waves by rockpiles, that stretch all along Water Street. About a hundred yards behind and upwards is Main Street and then, after that, is, er, nothing. Yorktown is tiny. The beaches, however, were packed. And people attempted to turn Water Street into Fort Lauderdale by driving up and down, music blaring, although this was not as effective since the main drag is about a half-mile long. I found a few square yards of sand, tossed down my bag and towel, shucked my flip-flops and splashed into the water. Ahhhh.

The York River is saltwater, which I was not expecting. It makes sense, of course, considering it empties right into the ocean, but still, the first salty taste gave me a surprise. I had chosen the beach that was mostly taken over by families, which meant all the swimmers were close to the shore, leaving me free to do laps out by the ropes and drool over the Alliance, a sloop that gives tours three times a day. Between dips I read "Neverwhere" by Neil Gaiman and giggled over the historicalness of swimming on the beach that once held pinned British troops.

Afterward I had a turkey sandwhich at the Water Street Tavern (highly recommended: good sandwich AND air conditioning) and then trotted up the hill to check out Main Street which took, oh, ten minutes. Caught the trolley back to the battlefield, just in time for a display by the Yorktown Fife & Drum Corps. They were quite good, but they had their sleeves rolled up, so I was distracted. So distracted that I totally missed the shuttle back to CW and had to wait another hour. Arg. Luckily I still had a book with me.

By the time I got back to my little house I was tired, itchy from the salt and sore from swimming. But a shower and a little food took care of that. I'm definitely going to go again, that is, at least until the jellyfish start showing up.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Talk about bringing a knife to a gunfight.

Last Thursday my church choir had a picnic, generously hosted at the home of one of the altos. The house was the picture of elegance, sitting on a little dip into the James River, with rooms full of antique maps, furniture, marble flooring, and a bronzze bust of Thomas Jefferson in the foyer.

Not the neck-up bust of Jefferson. The full-torso bust of Jefferson.

Needless to say, I was on my best behaviour.

I decided not to make anything, even though I could have assembled a Greek salad, instead I brought several bags of gourmet chips and some swanky salsa and buffalo sauce/rance dressing dip that I purchased at one of the gourmet food stores here in Wmsbrg. But, after seeing the table positively groaning with fried chicken, salads, casseroles, couscous, taco salad, sandwiches, fresh veg and fruit and plates upon plates of brownies, I wasn't surprised when no one dipped into my buffalo dip. I should have remembered there's nothing like a Methodist when it comes to potluck.

Next time, I'm bringing my "A" game.

The party was nice though--I ate too much, of course, and sipped awkwardly on sweet tea while my tablemates chatted about grandchildren and people I didn't know--but I had a good time.

Meanwhile, it's a hundred degrees here. I'm not even exaggerating. I know I said once I'd rather have it be hot than be cold, but even I, in my salamander-like state of mind, am finding it difficult to be outside. I think I'm going to go find a muffin and some more sweet tea...if there's any ice left in thic town.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Yef We Can

Not having a television means I'm totally out of the loop, news-wise. With only an hour at the library, I scan most of the headlines at best, dipping into Salon whenever I get the chance.

So I was nearly undone yesterday at the laundromat, which has a TV, when I learned that Barack Obama has secured the Democratic nomination for President. At least, he's declared victory. Hillary, presumably, will fight on. The newscasters I saw attacked the story from a variety of different angles--will Hillary be asked to be VP? What does she want? What do Obama's supporters think of all this? What do McCain supporters think of all this? Is Michelle Obama the awesome, or is it just me? There were also a few montage-y segments about "how far black Americans have come" that really hit home. A pastor at a church in Ohio pointed out how one of the parishoners was shot seventy years ago for showing up and trying to vote--and now a black man is nominated for president. Is our country ready? God, I hope so. I know I am. I want to show the world how far we've come as a country since 1776, since 1964. Are we there yet? No. But getting so close it's deliciously scary.

We're not supposed to have modern decorations on our houses in the historical area. You can hang a wreath, but it should be natural grapevine or similar. Ditto birdhouses, bird feeders, gazing balls are right off. But I couldn't resist putting a little political sign in my window--not the big blue "OBAMA" yard signs, but a little handmade calligraphied sign on a piece of parchment paper, using old-fashioned type which rendered the Senator's slogan as "yef we can." Teehee.

In other news, it's bloody hot here. I mean--it's ninety-five degrees by nine AM kind of hot. But I now understand exactly where I stand on the Grande Scheme of things: our building has been kept at a cool 68 degrees, not for our comfort, but for the preservation of our racks and racks of period clothing. They would mould and splinter in the heat, apparently. But the air con is pointed right at the stitchers, so while the clothes hang cool and collected, we're all huddled into hoodies and sweaters. And it's ninety degrees outside. Well. Priorities.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


No small dogs.

I'd prefer a dog that's a year or two old, one with some house training.

One that doesn't mind couch potatoing it up during the day.

Not too much shedding.


Color, gender, doesn't matter.

Friendly, but there's no need to worry about getting along with cats or children, as I have neither.

Hmmm...I wonder if such a dog exists...

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Less of Me

"Lurking" is a term that means read people's blogs, but you don't comment or interact with the blog-owner, other than to read what they've written. I lurk on a couple blogs, mostly about women my own age who are married and pregnant and live little fantasy lives through them...ahahaha, not really. Whoo. Little kids sure are a handful, right?! Right?! hahahahaha.

But some of the blogs I read are blogs written by women who are overweight and who are blogging their journey to thinness. I feel for these women, I really do, because for a long time in my life, I believed that I was overweight. I say "I believed I was overweight" not "I was fat" because looking back at certain times in my life (say, fourth grade. Or eighth grade) I wasn't actually fat. I thought I was, but I wasn't. There were also times when I was genuinely fat, like senior year of college (I blame Ben, also Jerry. Also, three-am Country Kitchen runs), but generally, left to it's own devices, when I'm cooking for myself and not driving everywhere, my body tends to small down.

For this reason, I believe that blogging daily about your weight, or posting your weight every day is counter-productive. Which is why I don't do it, except on special occasions. (like today: lucky you) Focusing so much on what you're eating is going to make you hyper aware of when you fall off the wagon, and that will make it harder to climb back on. Instead, you should listen to what your body really needs. There will be times when I will hear "apple" instead of "cookie" and I enjoy that apple as much as if it were a cookie. I eat a lot of vegetables now, but you know what? They only go down if they are covered in ranch dressing.

I have never been skinny. But I am getting smaller. And frankly, it's really weird. Once I started feeling uncomfortable sleeping on my side because my hipbones were poking into the mattress, I thought "this has gotta end here." But it hasn't. I feel like a size-four model, even though I'm still wearing my Lane Bryant jeans no problem. I'm not bragging, honestly, I'm just observing how odd it is to suddenly be in a different body after twenty+ years of being the fat girl. In a moment of drama the other night I thought my head was starting to look like the pumpkin-on-a-toothpick sported by Paris Hilton and the Olsen twins. I'm not actually very much smaller. But for the first time in my life, I believe I could be skinny.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Last Call on the Underground

Recently, the new mayor of London announced that starting today, consuming alcoholic beverages on the Underground would be banned. This prompted a huge "last night of drinking on the Tube!" party, which got kinda out of hand from the sounds of things. Fighting, throwing up, strangers falling on top of each other...sounds like the morning commute to me.

I'll pause for a second as the realisation sits in that before today--drinking alcohol on the Tube was completely legal. I LOVE LONDON.

And I also LOVED eating and drinking on the Tube--not "drinking" drinking, but lots of times, the only way I was going to get a meal in if I was on my way from class to rehearsal or to work was if I snapped up a sandwich and an apple and chomped down on the Tube. If you're going to be commuting for an hour at a time, what better way to pass the time? And I know that this leads to a lot of the mess that people complain about on the Underground: I can see how a ban on booze is going to lead to a general bad on food consumption in general, because there will be less trash to pick up. (Chicago L to London Underground: Food bans don't work. Athens Metro to Chicago L: Yes it does. Chicago L and Athens Metro *fight*.)

So bye-bye to endless chances for continued unsobriety. Fare thee well, chavvy men with their cans of Carlsburg furtively clutched in paper bags. You will no longer be able to fool no one. But consider this: would you rather have all these people being annoying drunk jerks on the Tube, or being annoying drunk jerks in their cars, driving around in London? Presumably the Tube driver is sober, so I'll take the former. Besides, if you're on a Tube at two in the morning surrounded by sloshed people, chances are you're probably sloshed too. (Theoretically that is. I've never tested this theory, of course. Of course.)

Incidentally, smoking on the Tube was banned in the sixties or seventies, I believe. You're not supposed to smoke on the platforms either--but I did see a pair of Irishmen smoking in a Jubilee line carriage on St. Patrick's day once. I decided I'd rather suffer the smoke than tell a pair of Irishmen they needed to stop on St. Patty's and suffer the consequences.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Crack Book: Noun

While still in Point, some of my friends and I came up with the term "crack book" to describe a book that was literally too good to put down. You know--the book that is so good, you go to bed an hour early just so you can lie there reading it? The first crack book was Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson, and since then, few others have entered the hallowed pantheon. Crack, of course, it the illegal but highly addictive substance, which, when applied to literature, suggests a certain metaphor. For example: if Snow Crash is addicting like crack, then perhaps other books are other edible substances. Romance novels are cookie books--so bad for you, but hard to resist and easy to consume in large quantities. Gone With the Wind could be like foi gras--delicious, but think too long about where it came from and you start getting uncomfortable. Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell, on the other hand, is like a seven-course banquet with all your favourite foods, one that you could eat over and over (and over) again. I'm using my favourite books as examples, but I'm sure you could come up with some of your own.

I was musing on this, because I had a conversation the other night with a friend where I described Patrick O'Brian's books as "--crack books, but, pure, unadulterated crack, like--crack but better than crack" and she helpfully suggested "ah, no black tar heroin for you, this is pure china white," causing me to shout "yes!" (Only after we hung up did I start to wonder how she knew the difference between black tar heroin and china white, but never mind)

Patrick O'Brian is the author behind the eighteen Jack Aubrey/Stephen Maturin novels. They are set aboard the British navy during the time of Napoleon and they are so wonderful, so evocative, so funny and heart-wrenching that I have been forced to ration myself, or else you, dear readers, would find me in my apartment, Trainspotting-like, jabbering on about spars, Sophies and Boccherini. As soon as I finished HMS Surprise on the train back to Williamsburg, I immediately broke out into a sweat, jonesing for my next fix. Then again, that could have been the cold. Nevertheless! These books are Pure. Bliss. In. Novel. Format. Page after page of delectable naval jargon, broken up only by a description of Stephen Maturin diving naked into the Indian Ocean or Jack Aubrey queuing his hair. I wish that I could rub the pages on my eyeballs and absorb them directly into my bloodstream.

Like I said: china white.

I am rationing partly because Mr. O'Brian is sadly no longer of this world and so there are a finite number of Aubrey/Maturin novels, and there is nothing like encountering a good read for the first time. I've been holding my rapaciousness at bay by reading other Napoleonic navy books. Apparently, this is a giant sub-genre I was completely unaware of. And so far I have yet to encounter anything that satisfies as well as Mr. O'Brian's books, but, like the sport of sailing itself, there is no such thing as a bad work of naval fiction. CS Forrester's Horatio Hornblower series goes quickly, very rigidly, very by the book, no pun intended. Dudley Pope's Nicholas Ramage series, on the other hand, is not as well written, but the story lines are certainly evocative. According to these authors, there were no actual people involved in the major naval battles, just lots and lots of fictional characters. I just picked up Mr. Pope's first book and was thrilled--nay, ecstatic to see lists and lists of other Napoleonic naval titles on the inside front cover, waiting for me to snort them up my nostrils.

So, if anyone is wondering what to get me for an apartment-warming present in July, the answer is: book store gift certificates.

Or the number of a really good twelve-step program. Either way.