Saturday, December 26, 2009

with mirth and good liquor we'll lead merry lives

In the end I made a flying trip home to Green Bay for the funeral...which happened to be on my birthday. After cancelled flights, diverting into Chicago and renting a car I finally made it home about eleven fifteen on Sunday. No one was surprised to see me home. It felt right to be there, to be able to say goodbye and grieve with my family and the people who knew Grandma best. The funeral was simple...afterward we went over to Bethany United Methodist and had sandwiches...then we went back to my parents for more reminiscing and I worked like a fiend trying to get Lily's stocking done in time for Christmas. I only hope Santa was able to fill it since I wasn't. Tuesday I flew back to Virginia, which was much less of a headache.

A day and a half of work later and it was Christmas. My Christmas present to my friends was a party Christmas Day evening, so Jeff and I spent Christmas Eve cooking and getting ready. Today we are relaxing. I have a bridesmaid dress to finish, laundry to do and a car to clean out for my drive down to Florida tomorrow, but I'm not stressing.

It has been an interesting holiday season. I don't know if I care to repeat it, but never before has so much joy and sadness been mingled together. Thanks everyone for your prayers and thoughts...I'm doing okay, looking forward to some quiet time in 2010.

Friday, December 18, 2009

a melancholy walk

Kismet must be walked, come rain or wind or sleet or snow...all of which we are getting tonight. So before it got too bad, I slung him into the car and we went down to the historical area. The snow surprised me when I walked out of the building. It was the fat white fluffy flakes, the kind that melt. Kizzy looked a little nervous at first, glancing up shocked at the stuff falling out of the sky. By the time we got downtown it had switched to the small, half melted sleety snow. Sticking to the grass and buildings, the first time I've seen Williamsburg sheathed in snow.

Today is my grandmother's ninety-fifth birthday. Her last. All day I've had a feeling, something jerking me from behind, something needing my attention. So when we got out of the car--familiar houses swathed in cold sticky snow--I called home. Aunt Bettie answered and told me the news. Platitudes about no more pain and being in a better place. I agreed. Could you ask my parents to call me when they got home from the hospital. Heaven. Walking without pain. Reunion. When I hung up the phone, I doubled over like I'd been disembowled. Screaming in tears would have wrecked the peaceful night, so I gasped for breath instead like I'd just been pulled out of the bottom of the ocean. My hood turned into a cowl sheltering my face, hiding it from people walking by (do they think I have a stitch in my side?) so that all I could see was marl, snow, and a happy beagle, tail wagging. He looks out at the historical area, nose twitching at the promise of sippets from Chowning's, treats from interpreters, fat, inattentive squirrels...

So we walked. Him, back and forth like always, me straight ahead, mechanical. Feet are two little iceblocks inside totally impractical shoes. Kismet loves the snow. I am getting a hold on myself. What now? What plans? What's next? I shouldn't be here walking Kismet, I should be-- But beagles must be walked. Hail, snow, sleet, death.

We come to Market Square. In the summer, I pretend to be in a militia here. Now it is a field of white, reflecting those snow-pink clouds, making it seem warmer than it is. Turning to go past the Randolph house a sudden snatch of song finds its way into my ear. "...Christ the Saviour is born...Christ the Saviour is born." A choir is singing "Silent Night." They repeat the first verse, faint across the green. Cressets are set up, blazing away, and a crowd is gathered. I don't wait for the path, but plunge across the virgin inch of snow to the courthouse, where a choir is singing from the steps. (imported from England. 1772. my brain reminds me) By the time I reach them, they have moved on to "I Saw Three Ships" and I am calmer. I am reminded that life goes on. My life goes on. I am not disembowled, I am freezing. I move closer to a cresset and feel warmth on my face.

The music follows us down the street. People stop me and fawn over my beagle like they always do. At Chowning's, Kizzy gets two treats to keep him warm. People are friendly. The music is hovering like a warm vapor rising from a cup of cider, keeping people content in the cold. I am very sad. But it is the sadness of acceptance, of laying down a burden too great for any person to bear. I suppose I prayed as I walked, although if I did there weren't any words. I stop to compliment the choir--they are from a Methodist church--and they invite me to service on Christmas Eve.

I wonder if there will ever be another Christmas that isn't tinged with melancholy. Some of the best secular songs have it--that dose of melancholy that evens out the unabated joy. "I'll be home for Christmas...if only in my dreams." "Through the years, we all will be together...if the Fates allow." If I'll ever join another family gathering without making a mental list of who is not with us. It hurts almost as much knowing that my children won't get to meet her, know her like I did. But that's me being selfish again. Maybe this is what growing up is. Now I am the adult, it is my turn to buy the presents and bake cookies. To leave the receiving and frosting to the kids. Now that I am the adult I have to walk the dog, no matter what.

Here's hoping everyone is staying warm.

Silent night, holy night,
All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon virgin, mother and child.
Holy infant, tender and mild.

Sleep in heavenly peace...sleep in heavenly peace.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Hanger moment

I'm sure other sewers will appreciate the moment when your project goes from a pile of fabric strew about the room to a garment that can be hung on a hanger. I call this moment "the hanger moment." Original, huh? It's like reaching the top of a hill and knowing that from now on, you can just sled down the other side. Usually this is where I get hung up...I get frustrated with the finishing (in reality, I have no patience) so clothes go unfinished, details get ignored in my hurry to get the garment on my back.

The hanger moment occured today around three fifteen...I'm standing up in a wedding in late December, and the bride asked me to find something vaguely 1920s as a bridesmaid. I finally found a pattern in Norah Waugh's "The Cut of Women's Clothes 1600-1930," a Poirot Dress. Nicole was able to upscale it, cut out a muslin, and then drape the actual dress for me...I'm just putting it together. It was hard finding a gown that was not bias-y and plunge-y, yet one that was flattering to my voluptuous shape. I like the dress I found...I just hope that it's going together okay. Sewing silk crepe after months of wool and linen is proving challenging.

Man, it is cold up in here today. I am working on a writing project that I may get paid for if I do not screw it up, but all I really want to do is cuddle up with Kismet, who has a much better handle on this Saturday thing. He is lying in bed, snoring. Man. Wish I was a beagle. Then I'd be warm. sigh.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

It's the little things...

Are you working on something new?


That is not like you, George

I've nothing to say

You have many things

Well, nothing that's not been said

Said by you, though. George

I do not know where to go

And nor did I

I want to make things that count,
Things that will be new...

I did what I had to do...

What am I to do?

Move on...

Stop worrying where you're going-
Move on
If you can know where you're going
You've gone
Just keep moving on

I chose, and my world was shaken-
So what?
The choice may have been mistaken,
The choosing was not
You have to move on

Look at what you want,
Not at where you are,
Not at what you'll be-
Look at all the things you've done for me

Opened up my eyes,
Taught me how to see,
Notice every tree-

Notice every tree...

Understand the light-

...Understand the light...

Concentrate on now-

I want to move on
I want to explore the light
I want to know how to get through,
Through to something new,
Something of my own-

Move on
Move on

Stop worrying it your vision
Is new
Let others make that decision-
They usually do
You keep moving on

--Sunday in the Park With George

Saturday, November 28, 2009

The weight of history

There is a phrase that re-enactors use when they are so into a living history situation, so totally immersed that they actually begin to feel they are living the century they're interpreting. It's called "seeing the elephant" and it has only happened to me occasionally--like when I arrived at the Randolph House tonight. The path through the gate has been a muddy quagmire of late, even though the staff has thrown down sticks and firewood, but tonight, with my breath in the air, the first thought I had when I arrived and saw the path was "Well, one good thing about these temperatures--the ground's frozen, no more mud." Thinking like a colonial, when muddy roads and quagmires were a part of daily life.

My storytelling site has moved approximately twenty feet, from the backyard of the Randolph, to the passageway between the house and the kitchen. (why aren't we in the house proper? Loong story dealing with politics between the Randolph and evening program people) The passageway isn't heated, and since we have to leave both doors open due to fire policies, it's little better than a sheltered lean-to in the cold, windy weather we're currently having. I dressed for work tonight like I was going to a football game: two pairs of stockings, flannel undergarments, shift, stays, (I wear my stays, because it's uncomfortable to tie petticoats around my waist otherwise) underpetticoat, petticoat, sweater, long-sleeved tee, bedgown (it's amazing what you can hide under a bedgown, which is a baggy T-shaped jacket), kerchief and two caps. That's right, two caps. And here we have the eighteenth century solution to keeping warm: More layers. Over all this I threw my heavy wool cloak, which is so heavy it gave me back problems last March when Jeff and I went camping.

Wool is warm, and honestly, if I was sitting down in one place and could tent a cloak over me, it's no problem. But when it's hanging off your shoulders--and you're already wearing twenty pounds of clothing--you can really feel it. I already cheated with the modern sweater under my bedgown. In the eighteenth century, it would have been another bedgown, another petticoat...I can't believe that women never wore some kind of breeches or bloomer like garment to keep their upper legs warm (apart from my hands and feet, that's the part that gets cold soonest), but apparently they didn't. I try not to wear anything there either, because I try to keep the vestiges of authenticity, but on this...I'd rather just throw on some old flannels than deal with cold on top of all the other complications from my site.

But as for everything else someone might see...everything else that is visible...perfectly authentic. So when I show up in someone's holiday snaps, they'll marvel at the accuracy and maybe, just maybe, spot the elephant.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Turkey Day

Well, turkey day is over here. I spent it with Jeff and his parents, at a local restaurant...this is the first time I've ever eaten out on Thanksgiving Day. The food was great, but I felt a little guilty about making people work on a holiday. And work really hard--although we went to a buffet, so the chefs were mostly concerned with making sure the tables were full--it was obvious that the waitstaff were running ragged, trying to keep up with drink orders and clearing plates.

The food was incredible though. Along with trying to learn more about eighteenth century cooking, I'm trying to learn more Southern-style cooking. This is mostly different foods (like collard greens and oyster stuffing), but there are a couple techniques involved we didn't learn in Wisconsin. Like frying. I fried up some chicken the other night, and it turned out beautifully. Fried with egg and flour in vegetable oil, mind you. But, I'm afraid it might not count, since it was chicken breast strips. Not a whole chicken, or even bones-in pieces. Baby steps though, I'm on my way. I even contemplated buying lard the other day so I could do biscuits properly. (yeah, yeah, I know--Sam's over there talking about making healthy Indian food from scratch, and I'm frying chicken and cooking with lard)

I also have to work tonight, which is another reason we went out. It's weird not cooking on turkey day, but it's also nice not having to deal with the dishes. Kizzy got left out though, he had to settle for some leftover spoonbread (another Southern delicacy) mixed in with his kibble. I am thankful for a good year--a new boyfriend, a beautifully behaved beagle--good friends, a steady job and now new opportunities. It's been a good year. Next year, though I'm cooking. And I'll definitely be incorporating all my new receipes.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

happy dance!

Guess who just got hiiiired! To write a podcast walking tour of CW!!!!

And whooo is getting their script produced!!! Probably sometime next summer! In some kind of format, tho I don't doubt it might be slight unrecognizable!!!

hint hint

It's ME!!!!

I loove getting paid to write!

Monday, November 23, 2009

it's not going anywhere

Suddenly everyone seems to want to convince me to move to London. That would be a great idea if only I had money and I wouldn't be so far away from my friends and family and if their economy wasn't in the toidy and England suddenly had a great need for another unemployed playwright. I'm not moving to London. Let's stop talking about it.

But visiting! Ah, visiting, now that is another kettle of fish altogether. I just happen to have consulted the magic eight ball over at Travelocity and I discovered a fare out of Washington DC to London Heathrow (angelic chime!) for three hundred and fifty dollars. Allow me to use numerals: 3-5-0. Dollars ($). For next February.

Oh so tempting. Just a click...a single click and I have reservations, a few emails and I'd have floors all over the city I could crash on...decent tea and love for my favourite Turner only a few months away. I could finally visit the Transport Museum, what was closed the entire time I was studying there! I could take the Tube--to the Tube museum! London in February is a lovely time to visit. It's cold, rainy, snotty, no one likes to go. I'd have the Nelson Room all to myself at the NMM. Oh, all this possibility with only a click, a single TAP of my FINGER...

"aaaahlll you have to dooo is...moooove your little fingaaaaah...just a single little finger can...mmmm.....CHANGE THE WORLD."

(that of course being a quote from "assassins" about shooting a president. i just want to flyyyy)

Three fifty I could do. I'd live on tea and cheap soup, hit up Sainsburys for some PB and live on peanut butter sandwiches all week. Sleep on floors. Make my boyfriend take care of my dog. Screw the fact that I ain't got no vacation time saved up, I'll just eat the hours...say a thousand dollars. Yeah. I could do it for a thousand dollars...I have a thousand dollars...get my FIX...


I hate being a responsible adult.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Walking at night

Another friend mentioned how weird the time shift is...I find it hard as well to spend all my free time in the dark, while looking longingly at the sun through a window at work. (although the sun has been hiding quite a bit lately...and, having taken the beagle out between writing that last sentence and this one, I can tell you it is raining cats & dogs out there right now) If I hurry home from work, we get about a half hour of greyish twilight for our walk. Now that I'm working less evenings, I'm enjoying actually exercising my own dog again. An hour every evening, if I feel up to it. The darkness is annoying, but familiar. I like looking in to the windows of the houses I pass, catching glimpses of paint colors and paintings. Walking through New Town means a lot of similar condos and row houses, and it's incredible how different every owner makes their own property. I don't take my iPod when I'm walking--I rely too much on my sense of hearing for traffic and other people--and that keeps my head clear to think. Tonight I caught a whiff of London, that particular smell that is a mixture of bus fumes, unchanged fryer oil and concrete. One whiff to sense it, one whiff to recognise it, one whiff to savor it and then it was gone.

Home smells like wool and cigarette smoke. That's what I remember from mom coming to pick me up from daycare--the scent I picked up as I hugged her hello, burying my face in her heavy eighties wool power suits. Home smells open, it smells like a house that has routinely had new carpet and adequate windows, properly working central air, unlike our apartment, which has none of the above. Walking at night at home smelled like grass--green and seedy if it was spring, hay if it was fall. There is one spot on the highway here, turning on to 199 from 64, where there is a lack of streelights, and I am always surprised by the constellations suddenly leaping out at me. At home, they were more consistently bright.

I'm not going home for Christmas this year. I am standing up in a wedding, in Florida, four days after Christmas, which would make a trip home very short. It's not responsible to spend money on airfare when I'd only be home for two days, so I am saving that money for when I can come home for a proper visit. This will be the first time I haven't been home for Christmas, the first time I won't wake up in my purple bedroom, or help roll meatballs or re-arrange my nativity after Mom has set it up for me. My roommate and I decided on getting a real tree this year (the money goes to the Lion's Club), which I am glad about, since I'll be here to enjoy it on Christmas Day. I will sneak out early in the wee dawn hours of Christmas morning and put Kizzy's presents under there, then pretend Santa has come. Not because he's my surrogate baby, but because I want to get him pizzle sticks, and he will eat them, paper and all, if I try to put them down earlier. I think I know a place where I can get some kringle. I will go to church here Christmas Eve and cry when we sing "Silent Night" just like I do at home--and I daresay Jeff will come over and we'll cook a big Christmas feast, if I don't get kidnapped by his family. It will be weird waking up on Christmas morning by myself, but once every twenty-seven years isn't a bad ratio.

In the meantime, I have Christmas presents to finish sewing and a bridesmaid dress to put together at some I guess I better get to bed. Good night everyone.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Night

Last week we had a nor'easter, which was pretty hellacious. Worse than Hurricane Hanna, with flood levels near Hurricane Isabel, although most places managed to hang on to their power. It hasn't stopped raining in three almost four days...I'm starting to feel like a character in a Don Bluth film.

Gosh, there's so much to write about. A few weeks ago we at the Costume Design Center had an open house, for the 75th anniversary of costume design at CW, and one of our VP's was so impressed he suggested we should do some kind of evening program based around costumes. Our manager asked me to write it since I am A) intimately acquainted with all of CW's clothes and the historical time periods B) It is a slow time and they could let me go read eighteenth-century Virginia Gazettes without work piling up C) I have a wicked sense of humor and --oh yeah, D) I am a trained playwright. Hyaaaah! Trained like a NINJA. It was so frickin' GREAT to write--and to do it while I was ON THE CLOCK--and barge into Linda Baumgarten's office like I was a professional and question her about stomachers--and let me tell you, the high I got last Friday as I finished that first draft and mailed it in was fantastic. I'd forgotten what that feels like. THIS is what I needed: a clearly defined goal, a deadline and someone who believes in me. The next step is seeing if we can do we have the space, actors, budget, etc, but I will surely keep you posted.

That's the most exciting news...the reason I haven't been posting much is because I've been an overworked, stressed, cranky Nicki lately, and that doesn't make for exciting blogging. The evening programs are slowing down though--I'm getting cancelled more--which is both a blessing and a curse. It's bad, obviously, because it means less money, but it's a good thing because it means I can spend more time working on Christmas projects, walking Kismet and sleeping. Last night I actually got to bed by ten, and I can already feel the difference an extra hour of sleep makes. And I have time to make dinner tonight, so I'm making hotdish. Does anyone out there listen to Prairie Home Companion? I usually catch it Sundays after makes me homesick, listening to all those Midwestern accents. Last time they were talking about hot dish, which got me hungry, even though mom never made it when I was growing up. I had to explain to my roommate that hot dish is a casserole made by a Midwesterner.

I'll try to post some pictures of some projects soon...but some of them are Christmas presents, so they may have to wait until after December 25th...

Monday, November 02, 2009

spooooooiled beagle

I was going to stop at the grocery store after work tonight. Then I thought "ninety percent of the reason I'm stopping at the grocery store is so I can get a roll of quarters to do Kismet's laundry." Then I reasoned: "If I stop at Hancock fabrics and buy him some more fleece, not only will I not have to do laundry tonight (which will take forever) but if I buy two pieces of fleeces, I will be prepared for the next time he wees in his crate."

So that's what I did.

I promise I have been doing stuff besides working, buying food, doing laundry and spoiling the beagle...

...but it all seems a very long time ago already...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

It's not Wellington

My budget is going to hell this week because I WANT THIS T-SHIRT.

want want want want

Saturday, October 10, 2009

shhhh nobody move

Somewhere in the last year my computer has gone from "creaky" to "outright old and cantankerous." A few days ago it decided it could no longer find the music in my iTunes library. Oh, I was waving my fists and screaming, let me tell you--half my music collection has been lovingly stolen from libraries all over the world. (what, you think I OWNED over seventy musicals? pffft.) Meaning, I don't have the original discs to re-download them. But, after a comprehensive survey, I discovered my music was on the computer, it just wasn't being recognised by iTunes. So I reintroduced the two, got iTunes talking to my library again, tried not to get depressed over the fact that I also lost all my playlists (sigh) and am now getting track names from the internets.

I am very concerned my computer might shut down at any moment and destroy the whole delicate procedure. So, shhh, no sudden movements.

Also, pray we make it to next April...I think I know who's getting my tax refund check next year: APPLE COMPUTERS INC.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

holy cats...

...I had no idea it was two plus weeks since I'd updated. I always had this thought in my head like it was "last Tuesday" or something vague like that, but two weeks? I am ashamed.

So, what have I been up to?

First, Jeff, Nicole, Erin and I went to the Chickahominy powwow last weekend! (and, sidenote, Blogger does not recognise the word "Chickahominy"! Just like the Federal government! whoo!) It was lots of fun: we had Indian tacos (taco stuff on frybread, YUM) and then wandered around looking at the vendors. Lots of cheap dreamcatchers and neon coloured feathers, but there was also some gorgeous wampum jewelery and goods for making costumes, leather, furs and such. But my favourite thing was the dancing. I could watch Native American dancing all day long. As we were walking up to the area where the powwow was, Nicole leaned over and said "Could you imagine being an English settler and suddenly hearing this coming out of the woods?" She was right--it would be spooky. At least we, as Americans, have some kind of experience with Indians, but for a Englishman fresh off the boat it would be terrifying. The costumes that people wore run the gamut from pre-European, all natural leathers, furs, feathers, horns and turtle shells to flamboyant modern satins on the lady fancy-dancers. Just beautiful. We felt sort of out of place, you know, being white and all, but having people whirl past us gave us an excuse to gawk.

And then! Erin, Nicole and I went to see Grease! Not because I have a heartfelt longing for the fifties, but because when you live in Hampton Roads, you take whatever is coming through the Norfolk theatre. Also, Erin got free tickets from a buddy who's working the tour. It was okay. Well, the singing, the acting, the dancing was fantastic. The writing was awful. If you've never seen the show, it's nothing like the movie and for once--the movie's better.

And then! Beagleman got sick. Which wasn't thrilling, but it was worrying, so I dropped him off at the vet on Friday, and they checked him out and sent him home with some pills..they must be akin to the miracle pills of "Princess Bride" because one day later he's back and raring to go. Huzzah.

and speaking of Huzzah! Guess who went to the firing range on the Chickahominy Nature Preserve and shot off her boyfriend's new black powder 1760's reproduction fowler? I did! It was (wait for it---) a blast! At first it felt kind of funny, shooting a black powder gun (which goes like this: prime the pan, shut the pan, pour powder down the barrel, ram wadding, pour birdshot, ram more wadding, take the hammerstall off the frizzen, fully cock it, hope the vent hasn't gotten blocked and pull the trigger.) standing next to a husband and wife who were sporting three Confederate flag motifs between them and totin' a gun painted with hunting camo. But we soon got used to it. Between Jeff babying the gun, cleaning it between shots and the length of time it took to reload that baby, we only got off a dozen rounds between us. But! Guess who's target has more holes in it! Mine!

Then, last but not least, I am on Day Six of the South Beach diet. Something I've been thinking about doing for awhile, and decided a wedding in October would be a good excuse. I don't know if I've lost any weight yet because I haven't weighed myself, but I do feel a little odd eating eggs and bacon for breakfast. Yet--Special K hasn't worked, so what the hell. The hardest part was giving up sweet stuff. Then today I looked through the menu of allowable foods, and I realised I could have Fudgesicles. Damme, Fudgesicles have never tasted so good! I am so freaking sick of dieting, but the "hardest phase is only for two weeks" and I can do anything for two weeks. Yayyy!

Things have been busy around here: I am scheduled to the hilt. I am flying home a week from Thursday and then Jeff and I are going camping at a primitive rendezvous the next weekend, so that necessitates a round of sewing. But! I am excited for October! Which is here! Already! Where HAS the time gone?!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

which it will be READY when its READY

Friends, I am in the throes--the throes, I tell you--of a serious Patrick O'Brian infatuation. The last month or so I have been doing nothing but reading, sleeping, thinking and dreaming Aubrey/Maturin. And now, thanks to the book "Lobscouse & Spotted Dog" I will soon be eating and drinking it as well. I am so obsessed with these books I've even picked up steward Killick's habit of inserting the word "which" at the beginning of sentences. One of my favourite things about these books are the loving descriptions of the food. But there are no receipts, a glaring omission that "Lobscouse" rectifies.

I checked the book out from the library today just to get a flavor of it (flavor, you twig? har!)--far easier to follow than my Wmsbrg Cookery, with its oven settings and measurements in modern cups and tablespoons--but with a lot of the original nineteenth century sources cited. Wistful thinking about cooking on a spit over an open hearth became wistful no more when I looked up and saw our brick fireplace--with a lovely large hearth just begging to be roasted upon. And I can think of no better delicacy to bring home to this year's Christmas feast than a Christmas pudding...although if I was to do it absolutely correctly, I should start it now and let it hang unmolested in the corner for the next three months. And then light it on fire. Wheee.

I don't know why all of a sudden I'm so obsessed with historical cooking (why I'm obsessed with Aubrey/Maturin is perfectly obvious) except I think it's something to do with the hearty, historical way receipts are put together. Lard, flour, eggs, suet, all combining to create something glorious. The tastes aren't as rich or as subtle, but they're easier to appreciate. You put rosewater in custard and by God, it tastes as rosy as a spring morning. I'm looking forward to mastering pudding...not only because as an Anglophile it's a duty, but because apparently it's Patrick O'Brian's favourite dessert.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

distinctly uncomfortable

The pie...was not a success. (the Yorkshire pudding, pt 2, was however. Unrivalled in its glory) I think the problem was I didn't cook down the blueberries enough and then added frozen before I let them thaw. The water from the frozen threw off the water/flour ratio, and the result was pie-soup in a graham cracker crust. Disgusting! Except when you scoop it over delicious vanilla ice-cream. Mmm...

My roommate, Jordon, is a W&M student, she's going to be a physical therapist some day. She is a dedicated academic, cleans the kitchen without prompting, runs marathons for fun and she babysits Kismet when I have to work. And she's watching "The Biggest Loser" right now. I got into the show last year, mostly because Jordon watched it, but I came into the season when people were losing dozens of pounds left and right, spouting feel-good maxims and it was mostly equal, harmless fun. Tonight's the series premiere, when America is introduced to the freak show that is this year's crop of losers, pre-losing. And suddenly I don't quite have the stomach for ice cream and pie soup.

It's not that the contestants are anything new--some of them are scarily big, and they've already had to take one person to the hospital after running a mile. But some of them are not much bigger than I am. And I am sitting here, squinting, confused, watching while women wail into their hands and swear--swear--that they will lose the weight and never, EVER allow themselves to get that big again. Okay. So how is that supposed to make me feel?

Apparently pretty crappy, according to the trainers, who are gushing about how "oh, this is the biggest show we've had so far, but this is how America looks now." So even though I'm at the small end of my size spectrum, I'm supposed to feel ashamed of my body because I'm still not small enough for mainstream America. And now we have a doctor who's point blank telling these people they're sick. Overweight, yes, but that's a "disease" you can take care of. Arg. I'm already feeling bad because the weight is slooowly piling on (I blame Jeff, who likes to take me out and feed me well) and with two weddings coming up, I've been eating salads for lunch and trying to walk Kizzy for an hour each night. Like yer supposed ta. But I'm not trying to become obsessed about my weight. I will lose ten pounds, get back to the post-London weight, and then I'm done. And I won't feel ashamed because someone on The Biggest Loser is starting out at my target weight.

At least, that's the hope...

Saturday, September 12, 2009

the universe does not want me to bake

Remember last November when the great cookie carnage of '08 occurred? Little did I realise that this signaled the beginning of a trend. I have been trying to up my game a little, since my roommate can turn out the most amazing treats with little more than butter, sugar, caramel and showtunes. But whenever I attempt anything more challenging than a Krust-Eaze box mix, the results usually go horribly awry.

It doesn't help that Jeff is trying to get me interested in period cooking. As a colonial woman, of course cooking would be my responsibility, and it's one that I genuinely AM interested in, especially since I get to play with fires. But it hasn't been going so well. I'm trying to master a Sally Lunn receipe, which is flour, water, eggs, sugar, uh, salt, and yeast. And I have yet to not kill the first batch of yeast, so I always end up using twice as many packets. Then of course there was my unintentional over-spraying of the pan, resulting in a lovely puddle of...whatever it is they put in non-stick cooking spray. (not historically accurate, I know, but then again, neither are electric ovens) Jeff even bought me the a copy of the Gentlewoman's Companion, a CW publication that has over five-hundred receipes, all printed in the original eighteenth century dialect. Which is nice, except for the baking times: "Bake in a moderate oven." Ooookay. Thank heavens for margins where I can scribble modern interpretations and notes. (1 pint=2 cups. Bake at 350 for approx. 20 minutes...)

Jeff was off at a workshop today, so I decided to try to find something I could make for dinner. Most of the receipes called for ingredients that I didn't have ("take a piece of lard the size of a goodly egg...") but I finally settled on breaded lamb chops and Yorkshire pudding. I love Yorkshire pudding, but I haven't had it since England, so I was excited. And the receipe was easy: three eggs, well beaten, a cup and a half of sweet milk, three tablespoons of butter, melted, a cup and a half of flour, sifted. Mix together well, pour into a shallow pan, bake in a hot oven. ("400 degrees for 30 min/425, 25 min?") The pudding, baked in a Pyrex pie pan, turned out glorious. It bubbled up in the middle, butter pooling around the edges, and then sank back down when I took it out of the oven, just like I remembered. Finally, I thought--something right.

Then Jeff and Nicole came over. Nicole is learning how to build men's waistcoats from scratch and Jeff is her guinea pig. I directed him to the bangers I had bought for dinner and started the process of reducing potatoes to mash...until Nicole asked if the pudding was supposed to be smoking. Jeff had turned the burner on under the pudding, not the burner under the pan o' bangers, and the pudding was burning. I grabbed up a towel, moved the pudding to another burner to cool off and turned off the offending burner. I stood there, towel in hand, intently studying the pudding to see if it had been burned when--


The Pyrex exploded. Shards flew everywhere, hiding themselves in corners and liberally dusting the scones I had made earlier. My heart, moments before preoccupied with beating normally while I saved the pudding, moved instantly into overdrive. Kismet came over to investigate, until Nicole grabbed his collar. I was so shocked I couldn't speak.

We cleaned the kitchen up. Pyrex may be indestructible, but once it destructs, it is some nasty edges and sharp pointy bits. HOT sharp pointy bits. But we got it cleaned up. I threw away the pudding, and a couple of scones, not wishing to inflict a horrible lingering death on my dinner guests, but oh, how my heart ached for that lovely, golden brown pudding.

Now, I was angry. I knew, logically, that it was an accident--that our stove does not make it easy for you to know which knob to turn--had made the same mistake myself once or twice--roommate had shattered a Pyrex lid only last year--but all the same, I was angry. I stomped around and held back tears, and in the end, just hugged Jeff and apologised.

"I'm not angry at you," I said, he looking earnestly and apologetically at me, "I'm mad at the universe. Apparently the universe does not want me to bake. Just when I thought I was going to succeed, the universe notices and says "oh no you don't!" and snatches victory out of my grasp."

Little does the the universe know I'm going to attempt blueberry pie tomorrow...

Monday, August 31, 2009

better today

It's amazing how cold seventy degrees can seem. Today I'm feeling better, especially since the temperature has dropped and the humidity has disappeared. Why, we're even sitting here with the windows open! And I took Kismet for a walk tonight and didn't come in the door wringing wet. And I made soup.

I never thought a Monday would be better...but I'm glad the weekend is over.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

This has been a shitty, shitty day

How shitty, you may ask? Well, I'm sitting here, eating chocolate chip cookies straight from the tub and using the word "shitty" in my hertofore PG-13 blog.

Jeff was supposed to come up today and spend the day with me...until the brakes on his car exploded. So instead of spending the day with me, he's spending it with a mechanic.

Undaunted, I ventured out into the historical area with Kismet. I tried to return his birthday present--a designer collar and leash--only to be told that I could only return it for store credit. Since the only thing I wanted from the boutique was a designer collar and leash, there's no point in returning it...but I could really use the money for the new tire. (remember the new tire? Oh yes, last Saturday was a winner too.)

Decided to be productive this afternoon and do a little cleaning. Stopped by the Dollar General for some cheap cleaning supplies and when I returned to the car I discovered that Kismet had thrown up all over the backseat. Now, I have a towel to protect the seat where he climbs in before he jumps into his little booster seat...but guess which side he threw up on? Good thing I had all those church bulletins in the backseat to clean up what I could.

Did I mention I hadn't eaten breakfast yet? I had planned on coming home and making myself a big brunch, but instead I grabbed bucket, brush, paper towels and my new bottle of extra-strength Febreeze and cleaned out the backseat. Discovered that last week's rainshower (did I mention I left the windows down Sunday night and it poured and my car smells like dead rat, hence the Febreeze?) had turned some magazines in the backseat into mulch and that was probably why Chi-Chi smelled like a dead rat. I managed to get the mess cleaned up, with much diligent application of paper towels...and a liberal spraying of Febreeze.

At last I got to eat breakfast. Whipped up a batch of Martha White's self-rising biscuits, which looked like hardtack next to the apple cake my roommate made to celebrate her wedding. (fine. Not her wedding--she's re-enacting a wedding that took place two hundred years ago) The hashbrowns I made from scratch were undercooked and tasted horrible and the meatless sausage was a joke. (I hate being vegetarian sometimes. I'll do it, but I'm not happy about it.) I couldn't even enjoy pretending that my biscuits were hardtack, because that just made me think about how many Aubrey/Maturin books are out there that I haven't read yet and never will because I have no money either to buy them for myself or pay the astronomical fine at the library.

Then I got busy with the cleaning. I even moved some furniture around so I could vacumn, but when I unhooked the hose I discovered that it was smoking. Something is wrong with the belt, but I'm not touching it today. Luckily we have the extra vacuum (thank you Dumpster Gods), but that shining moment in the afternoon was quickly overtaken when I attempted to wet-vacuum our sofas. Not only is the one cushion I attempted to clean still wet (thank God I stopped after only one), but it STILL smells horrible. Horrible but with vinegar, because I was trying to be green. Screw it. More Febreeze!

Then, the worst thing of all happened. A few weeks ago Jeff made me a present of some glorious blue wool and silk fabric, to match some eighteenth century chintz I had. I was planning on turning it into a beautiful upper-midding class outfit, something I could wear when we were promenading and making everyone jealous. Jeff had even offered to make it for me, all I had to do was cut it to length. Cutting out a petticoat is not hard: it's two straight cuts straight across the width of fabric. Yet I managed--because it is just that kind of shitty day--to screw it up. Instead of cutting 38", I cut it at 36", and when you're talking about hemlines in the eighteenth century, yes Virginia, two inches matters.

At that point I gave up, cried, put everything away. I have to go to work in twenty minutes (going early so I can try to return Kizzy's collar...he deserves so much better than me) and it looks like it's going to rain. So I'll probably have to perform inside tonight, which is hot, small and miserable.

The one high point of the day came when I checked the mail...I was bitter when I saw the fat envelope, figuring it was more love for the roommate, until I saw the return address. Inside: baby pictures. Thank God for baby pictures. Mom, Dad, Lily--you have saved the day.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

parallel parking only

Nothing makes me long more for the public transport system of London than a car breaking down. My car, specifically, Chi-Chi the regal Buick, beige arrow of the Williamsburg byways, scourge of squirrels and students alike. When last I had an oil change the mechanics warned me that I would probably need a new battery before November. "November" became "August" Tuesday night, when I turned the key after work and instead of a purr was greeted with a pathetic clicking noise of an unsuccessful starter. Damn. I called the boyfriend to give me battery a jump, and while I was waiting called dad and cried into the phone until I felt better. Honestly. I felt like such a girl about the whole thing. I knew perfectly well that the battery just needed a little help, and then I could get it to the shop and they'd change it for me--or better yet, I'd get my own damn battery and then dive in there and change it myself--but not having a set of jumper cables or a portable battery sort of put a crimp in my style. Jeff arrived and we successfully got the car started...and then we had the brilliant idea of turning in off to see if it would start again.

It would not.

And, in our continued attempts to get the car started a second time, we managed to melt the positive terminal off the battery. So instead of driving my own car home, I got a lift from Jeff. The car was so dead, I couldn't even get the key out of the steering column because the car had died when the anti-theft device was activated. When I got home, I called dad again, and cried until he suggested that maybe a shower and bed would make me feel better (It was nearly midnight at this point), and he would call AAA in the morning and see what he could do.

He got me hooked up with the AAA Roadside assistance, so the next afternoon I called them to come and tow my car. You should have seen the looks on the faces of the interpreters heading home from a work as the gate swung open (by the way, did I mention my car died in an employee parking lot? It died in an employee parking lot, safely behind a keycard gate. arg.) and a bloody great flatbed tow truck rumbled in, diesel engine growling. It's a very humbling and yet thrilling experience to see your car slowly hauled up on to the giant hydraulic lift like a whale onto the back of a Japanese trawler. I had the guy take Chi Chi back to my apartment, since the AAA people said that they could send a battery truck. But when the battery truck got there, the guy popped the hood, took one look at the corrosive streak left by the acid slowly dripping out of the battery and announced that he couldn't help me.

It's a very thrilling and yet annoying experience to see your car hauled up onto a flatbed truck by the brilliant light of a new morning. This time, I had them take it directly to a professional shop. By 10:40 on Wednesday I had a message saying that my car was ready. I was so relieved to finally have my own car back. Oh, it was glorious to get behind the wheel and be greeted by the purr when I turned the key.

I had two full days to consider and contemplate the innumerable joys of having personal transportation, especially in the light of the fact that the William and Mary students are back in all their blinkered, pedestrian glory. Driving to meet a friend for lunch in the historic area today, I made sure to go extra slowly, avoiding a freshman with a goatee that would have made Tesla jealous. It's the one year anniversary of Kismet's adoption, so we were headed down to the historic area for a walk and some ice cream. It's about a hundred degrees here. A cold front is holding Hurricane Bill off of the coast, but the humidity is ninety-eight percent, and the dewpoint is in the seventies. Not too hot, but wet as the inside of a pitcher of water.

I was lucky enough to find a parallel parking spot in front of Barnes & Noble...I haven't parallel parked in a while, but when I was in driver's ed, I was the class star. Today I had a bit of trouble...banged in to the curb once..or twice...but I figured, since I was very nearly parallel, that a little more gas would slide me along the concrete and I'd be fine. Not so much. When I got out of the car, I discovered that instead of sliding along a concrete curb, I had been firmly jamming my tire into a steel sewer cover. When you hear "pssssssss..." coming out of your know you are in trouble. I took a deep philosophical sigh and went to eat lunch. On the way back, we stopped for ice cream. I prepared to call AAA (again) and then realised I didn't know the street I was parked on, so I stuck my head in the Baskin Robbins and asked the lady behind the counter what street it was. "Do you need directions? Where are you going?" "No, I...I have a flat tire, I'm calling AAA." "Oh, well, Dave could fix it for you. Dave! C'mere!" And this stringy sixteen year old came trotting obediently around the corner. I mentally weighed up the pros and cons of handing the welfare of my car into a complete stranger, figured I had nothing to lose and five minutes later Dave was laying under my car, wiggling the jack under the axle. And twenty minutes later the doughnut was on. Thank God for mechanically inclined sixteen-year olds.

So now the wheel is sitting at the mechanics shop, waiting for a new tire--I'll get it back Monday--and Chi Chi is Williamsburg-bound for the weekend. So no Yorktown for Kismet on his birthday...but we did get over to Maggie Moo's for some ice cream, and he looks very handsome in his new collar and leash.

Thursday, August 06, 2009

here we go again

Thinking about going back to school because, well, when the economy is crap, that's what people do. Either that or the government puts them to work digging ditches. Basically, I want to become the kind of professor I had at Point: family-oriented, a sane voice in the drama-filled vacuumn of theater, someone who teaches during the winter and enjoys gardening in the summer. I realise that if I enter the world of collegiate academia armed only with an MA, I would probably be adjuncting and have a second job on the side--but I'm hopeful I can get my foot in the door somewhere.

And I also want to start my own community theater. Not a theater company, not a grown up serious regional theater, but a community theater, a space where people who are not theater people can come and create theater. A million years ago I wrote a paper for a class about a hypothetical, ideal community theater, prompting my professor to comment that it sounded like this is what I should do with my life. I brushed him off, convinced I was going to be the next Sarah Kane...but funnily enough, I've never forgotten that comment. Nor that paper...

So onward perhaps. I knew when I moved to Virginia and started working at CW that this was a temporary thing, a place where I could lick the wounds Chicago inflicted and figure out what the hell to do next. I'm ready for the next leap now, but this time I'm doing it the smart way--before I even start any classes, I'm going to have a list of jobs I can apply for when I'm done.

Friday, July 31, 2009

The Bounty

It's moving out time again, and between the two of us, Amaree and I have managed to pick up the following stuff from the dumpsters:

1. A microwave (about twenty years newer than the one she got last year)
2. A vacuum (which we don't need, so we'll take it to the thrift store)
3. Wire shelves
4. A dining room chair
5. A full-length mirror in a wooden frame
6. Two under-bed storage containers from Target
7. A drying rack for clothes
8. A bag of men's shirts, large, mostly from Banana Republic (again, off to the thrift store)
9. A book of American history
10. An anthology of black American drama
11. A headcollar and instructional DVD for Kiz (and there's a crate in the laundry room...could get it for Jeff's house)
12. And last but not least, a three-volume box set of Tolkien's Lord of the Rings. Still in the plastic wrap. I felt like I was adopting Kismet all over again--come here, baby, I want you when no one else does.

I mean, we're talking about useful, practical stuff here. We could have had another vacuum, a couple of lamps, some shelves, a dollhouse...quite apart from the fact that this stuff could have gone to the thrift store, some of it was quite literally cash in hand--a box set of Tolkien, unopened? Ever heard of Amazon, idiot? honestly. Mine now!

Speaking of the beagle...I had to buy him a new harness today because he'd outgrown his other one. Before I got him, I bought a "medium" size, optimistically, but he was so small and underfed that I had to take it back to Petsmart the next day and get the small. Well, a year later, he fits into the medium (barely), and I'm feeling something akin to what moms feel when their babies outgrown newborn onesies. Next thing I know he'll be driving and applying to college. *sniff* They grow up so fast.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Back to Virginia

And I'm back. It was a whirlwind week, that was for sure. I'm not exactly clear where it all went, but I remember being home and seeing everyone, and I remember flying back, so clearly I had a vacation in there somewhere.

The flight home on Friday was uneventful. Both parents were at the airport to pick me up, and then we went over to see Grandma. Who was happy to see me and hear about Virginia and give me the third degree about the boyfriend. And then, of course, we went out for fish, meeting up with Mr & Mrs. Lemery and Lily, better known as the bug in some circles. She is the perfect baby. Charming, always ready to pose, crying only when she is hungry, sleepy or when Grandpa stands between her and a red cut glass candy-dish. At the restaurant she attempted to help herself to Grandpa's beer when he wasn't looking, only to have ever-vigilant mom take it away from her. "It's okay," I said consolingly, "When I take you to England we'll make up for it." I don't think her dad appreciated that.

Saturday my folks hosted a family picnic at their house. It was cooler than we would have liked, and occasionally drizzly, but the pool is heated, so I spent most of my time in there, playing with my younger cousins. It was wonderful to see everyone, and catch up with everyone, and I'm so glad that most of the family managed to make it--we had thirty four people all told, coming and going.

Sunday...I honestly can't remember what I did Sunday. Oh yes, dinner with the family again, only this time salmon and salad, and two very needy chocolate labs snotting up the window as we ate.

Monday I was thwarted by the EAA in my attempts to rent a car, so I left GB nearly three hours after I intended to. I drove down to Fort Atkinson, picked up Laura, and we met up with Sam in Madison. The first time the three harpies have been together in over three was wonderful. Cackling away and swapping stories we've heard in the news and rumors about old classmates. Laura even commented on how "quiet" Sam's fiance is, and I had to gently point out this was probably due more to the fact that he couldn't get a word in edgewise. Sam had to go back to work on Tuesday, and Laura was working on the organic farm co-op, so I drove up to Wanaukee and caught up with yet another bride to be. (for those of you keeping score, this'll be my fourth stint down the a bridesmaid) Laura and I caught up with Sam in Spring Green that night, by watching the American Players Theatre production of A Comedy of Errors. It was hysterical, even with the occasional rain. REAL Shakespeare geeks stand out in the rain, because we're HARDCORE INTO THE BARD.

Wednesday--Sam was working again, so Laura and I did Spring Green, where the theatre is located. Spring Green is small, but fascinating. Lots of cool little shops and galleries and organic stores. But, eventually, you've seen all the arty jewelery you care to see, so we headed over to that Wisconsin standby, the tavern. After being carded (more for being outsiders than looking underage) we proceeded to order Leinies and then rail loudly against guns and Republicans which, I'm guessing was probably not really appreciated in a small rural Wisconsin tavern. They did not, however, have cheese curds, so we went around the corner to the bar where the theatre people hung out, and proceeded to repeat the process of ordering beer and railing. This time with a huge basket of curds. "There ought to be a road movie," I said, "through Wisconsin, and the whole time one of the main characters just keeps saying 'Man, we gotta stop and get some CURDS, man.'"

Then we picked up Sam and whizzed back to Madison to see the sixth Harry Potter movie. Even though none of us confirmed it with the others, we all knew we'd be seeing it with each other. Oh, and Sam's fiance, of course. Oh I cried. I cried so hard. Even knowing was was going to happen, I cried so hard. Definitely a good movie--I don't know if I'd say it was the best movie, but definitely in the top three.

Thursday I had to say good-bye to the girls and come home. It took a lot longer than I had planned, but then again, I wasn't really looking forward to saying farewell either. Got home around six and was immediately taken out for more food at Pasquale's, despite my protests that I wasn't in the mood for more cheese. (Cheese curds for an afternoon snack, movie theatre popcorn, Burger King at midnight and cheese curds for breakfast do not a happy tummy make)

Friday was a shopping day: stopped at the bank, got a new cell phone and raided Lane Bryant for some new jeans and tops. Then I got to see the fabled Lenny's, the tavern where my dad will spend the odd hour watching sporting events. Dinner was fish again. 'Cuz its Wisconsin. And that's just what you do on a Friday night.

Saturday was supposed to be the boating day, but it was (you guessed it) drizzly and windy again. So we ended up going to the Outagamie County Fair, where we wandered amidst the prize calfs and hogs, admiring the skills of the local four-aitchers. And had some more cheese curds.

Packing up and leaving was incredibly sad. I miss my family a lot, especially right now. But getting home was wonderful--it was nice to step off the plane and see unadulterated sunshine for the first time in a week. And Kismet has been amazingly well behaved ever since I got home, probably because he's afraid I'll ditch him again. Not forgetting of course, coming home to boyfriend kisses. There's nothing I wanted to do that I didn't get to do. Except next time I come home, I wanna take a boat ride.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


I was going to talk about how much I love being back in the Land of My People, the land of cheese-eatin', beer drinkin', Packer lovin' Wisconsonintes.

But mom just poked her head in the room and told me that Lily's about to take her first dip in the pool.

Talk to you later!!!!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Things We Share

The jacket that I was working on when I had my accident was sent to the laundry, because of a few drops of blood, and it came back today. So I had the chance to conquer my nervousness about the eyelet attachment, get back on that horse and finish the project. The only twitch came when I accidentally nudged the presser foot switch, making a small noise, causing me to jump some feet in the air. Without moving my hands, of course. The wound is surprisingly nondescript, healing well. The only indication that major trauma occured is the gouge in my nail...that'll take some time to grow out, and in the meantime I get a nice reminder to keep my hands clear of the needle everytime I look down.

Tomorrow I am flying home to Green Bay. Today I ate watermelon, which I love, and pondered on the things my family has passed down to me. Love of watermelon comes from my mom, who craved it when she was pregnant with me. Craved so much, that when she sent dad on a run two years later, the grocer asked "Liz pregnant again?" I also inherited my chin from her, a chin which has been neatly sculpted after a decades long assault by modern orthodontia into Greek statue like perfection. I'm incredibly vain about my chiseled jawline...also a little sad I don't look as much like my mother as I used to. I also found myself thinking about my mom the other day when I bought a bedskirt from the thrift store. We had a fight once about bedskirts: I was in the strictly anti-bedskirt camp, on the basis that they are dust-catchers and just get in the way of my favourite storage space. But then last week I found a lovely beige one, a flat-hanging bedskirt without all the dusty ruffles, only three dollars, so I brought it home, washed it, ironed it and put in on my bed. I can't quite get it to lie flat without pulling the mattress all the way off, so part of it is squashed underneath, but from the front, it looks lovely.

From my dad I get my ability to understand the complication that is modern American football, even being able to lecture people about the intricacies of punting vs. going for the endzone. I think of my dad when I listen to classical music, even if it's a piece he's not familiar with. I am pleased with myself that I genuinely enjoy classical music, as if I am joining a long list of people who have enjoyed this music century after century, and I have dad to thank for this, for dragging me out of bed to listen to the three tenors. Thanks to him too, for being able to tell them apart by just listening, and being able to smile stiffly when people gush about Andrea Boccelli being "just as good as Pavarotti!" We also share our love of kids, of being able to honestly enjoy the company of small people, of patience, of doing goofy things, but not realising they are goofy until the parents arrive and say slowly "what...are you doing?" Playing. It's fun. You should try it some time.

Now that I live here, away from my parents, they have much less influence over my life, although the lessons they passed on to me when I was younger are still very much engraved on my personality. Everytime I cuss I hear my dad's strict rejoinder. Everytime I eat cookies I see mom's raised eyebrow. I look forward to inflicting my own personality on a small person some day, hopefully passing along the best parts of what my family gave me.

All this meandering, however, hasn't helped me figure out how to say what I want to say. I am going home to visit my family, and, just as importantly, catch up with friends, some of whom I haven't seen in a very, very long time. And some of you, loyal readers, will no doubt be aware of something else that is going on at home. Grandma, rock of our family, is not doing well. I am very afraid to look at her and tell her how much I love her, knowing that it could be a lifetime before I get to say it again. There is so much joy and pain wrapped up in me now I don't know how to express it. It feels wrong to dissemble to you, my people out there in the dark, who have been with me for so many years, and yet I don't want you to think that I am going for drama (for once) I simply wanted you to see what this vacation will include. This is my life, my family, and I need to be home.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


Now I know what it takes to see a doctor immediately in today's healthcare environment: put a needle through your finger.

Yeah, it finally happened. Today I was using the eyelet attachment on my Bernina, trying to ensure that the linen wasn't bunching up under the needle, when suddenly there was an almighty crunch and the machine came to an abrupt halt. The kind of halt that usually happens when there's too much fabric bunched up under the presser foot, only this time it was the index finger on my left hand. Blood, yeah. I started to yell, and then realised the needle was still there, so I cranked on the flywheel and got my hand free. At that point, coworkers had rushed over to see what had happened--Nicole said that she realised something was wrong because it wasn't a "spider scream"--and pretty soon I found my finger doused in hydrogen peroxide, wrapped in gauze and encased in ice.

It was pretty shocking. The pain was tolerable, the worst part was the sound of the needle and having to free my finger. I had to fill out an accident report (well, alright, dictate an accident report) and then we went to the doctor. He was satisfied I hadn't sewn my fingerbone, and then went into an explanation how my finger hurt because of a trauma to the subcutaneous nailbed. "If you can imagine," he said, sitting back, "severe trauma to your nailbed..." And I sort of waved my finger in his face: "I don't have to imagine it, Doctor, it happened." I was glad to see my sense of sarcasm was coming back, it meant that the shock was wearing off. And then, when the nurse came in and gave me my tetnus shot it was all I could do to stop myself bursting out laughing when she warned me the needle might hurt a little.


I went home, confusing Kismet, and spent the afternoon napping in bed. Jeff came over after work and let me relive some trauma on his shoulder, and then Erin and Nicole came over to keep me company. I'm feeling a little tired, a little weak, but my finger doesn't hurt nearly as much as you'd think, looking at the punch through the nail. Hopefully it won't fall off...sigh.

Oh, and I also dropped of my car this morning so they could take care of the "SERVICE ENGINE SOON" light. Eighty dollars later it turns out the gas cap was broken.

I am so ready for vacation

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

being american is rad as hell

The reason I don't post often is because I am working nights. Also, I spend a lot of time at my boyfriend's place, and he doesn't have the internets. Also, part two, I sit in front of a sewing machine all day instead of a computer, so I really, really don't get much time for checking emails and updating my blog.

This last Saturday I was back at CW, participating in the military programs for the Fourth. How far we've come in a year! Last year I could barely march and wasn't cleared on a musket, this year I was tossing a Brown Bess around with aplomb and muttering under my breath at people who couldn't stay in step.

Things are going well here. I'm tired, and I'm looking forward to going home in a week, to visit with my family. My grandma is not feeling her usual perky self, so I'm anxious to visit her--although she manages to mention everytime I call how adorable Lily is. I guess I have a little competition for favourite grandchild now...

Friday, July 03, 2009

Oh, and one more thing

I opened up the permissions on NLD so anyone can read this.

I originally wanted to hide NLD because I was applying for this job and I didn't want potential employers to read my embarassing stories about stumbling home from the theatre at three in the morning four years ago.

Except I didn't even get to the interview phase--although I did get a very nice email from the vice president explaining that the reason I didn't get an interview was because they had a hundred and seventy applicants and the seven people who DID get interviews had all had more than thirty years experience.

And I thought "well, hell, I should leave NLD private anyway, even if no one is looking, 'cause then I can bitch about work."

But I am such a narcissistic brat that I really, really, really want people to read my blog. All you lovely people out there in the dark.

So I took down the restrictions...and I'll try not to complain about work too much.

The book I want to write starts like this:

"When people find out I work at Colonial Williamsburg, the first question they inevitably ask me is, do I get to work in costume? Usually they're disappointed when they find I'm actually behind the scenes, although they perk up again slightly when I tell them I get to make the costumes. I leave out the boring bits about hemming and buttons.

A couple times a week, however, I do get to work in costume. I throw on a lovely green linen gown and petticoat and go haunt the Randolph house, a storyteller for the ghost tours. One night I was standing in the doorway of the passage, enjoying a freshening breeze, when I noticed a guest (always 'guest,' never 'tourist') standing by the fence, looking at me with the "I have a question but I'm shy" face that any interpreter can spot a mile away. "Good evening!" I said, hands on hips, full of my eighteenth-century persona. "Hello," the woman said timidly, "Are you Eve?" "Oh, no," I cheerfully replied, happy to get some practise in as a first-person interpreter, "My name is Mrs. Peachy. This is my home. I live here with my husband and my young son." Then, my well of information about Mrs. Peach exhausted, I dropped the first-person act and came down the steps toward the woman. As I approached I saw that she was wearing a Teacher's Institute nametag, with her name and her hometown on it. Then, underneath that, another word: "Eve." And I instantly realised that this year the teacher's institute--an intensive weeklong historical immersion for teachers who are hoping to add a little pizazz to their social studies classes--must have assigned each person a historical figure to learn about. All this woman had was a name to go on. She had found herself the right house, all right, but had no clue who Eve was.

I walked up to the fence. "Eve was a slave," I explained. "She was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Randolph...after Peyton died, Eve and her son ran away and tried to join the British side, but they were captured and brought back. Eve was eventually sold." I am trying to be gentle, but I can see the teacher in front of me--a woman not much taller than me, middle-aged, wearing a white shirt under a fanny pack with sensible New Balance sneakers--is startled to find out that "her" person was actually an enslaved woman. "Was she--was she brought back by force?" she asks me.

The truth is, I don't know. In the ghost story I tell, Eve is "retaken." But I didn't write the script and I know that artistic licenses have been taken. "It's possible," I say slowly. "It's also possible that she returned under her own power, because her family was here, or she was unable to care for herself and her son, or the British kicked her out of their camp when they moved to Yorktown." Bits of historical fauna float to the surface of my brain, fascinating details about Americana I've tucked away. "Either way, Mrs. Randolph found it necessary to sell her because of her 'bad behavior' (this much I do know, I've read Betty Randolph's will, where she directs the executors to take the profits from Eve's sale and buy a slave for her niece, since the niece won't be inheriting Eve now.) so I guess we can assume that there was some bad blood there."

I am trying to be helpful, and I suggest to the woman that she really needs to come back during the day, when the Randolph House serves as an interpretive site for the African American programs. "The interpreters here would know a lot more than I would. I'm just the ghost." I can see though, that this friendly Kentuckian teacher is a little shook up. And who wouldn't be? You go on a treasure-hunt for the person on your nametag, and you end up confronting a dark, dirty secret of America's past.

This episode stuck with me because in some ways, I find myself performing the same task. My background is in theatre, in playwrighting, specifically, and for a long while now I have wanted to write a play about William Lee, George Washington's manservant. Slave, bought and owned by Washington until he died, but also one of the people closest to the Father of Our Country. Three steps behind Washington during his entire life and what do I know about him? Nothing. But for some reason--there's a play there, and I want to dig it out.

For all intents and purposes, I should be the last person who's interested in a play about Billy Lee. I am white. I am female. I am a Yankee--or at least, not from the South, which is how Southerners define "Yankee" although those of us from Wisconsin would probably check "other" on the great census sheet of union-vs.-confederacy. A rabid Anglophile, I can rattle off the British monarchy from Henry VIII all the way up to present day, but I peter out on American presidents somewhere around James Madison. To me, living in Virginia is almost like living in a foreign country with a history and a culture that should be learned and studied and appreciated.

This either makes me ideally suited for the task at hand, or in way, way over my head."

Friday, June 19, 2009

hey friends

I promise I'll post a proper update this the meantime, there was a professional photographer at the dogpark last week, so here's an adorable picture of Kismet.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

still here!

I promise once I get some time together I'll post pictures and stories about our trip to the meanwhile, pray I get some sleep soon.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

I ought to be working right now...

I'm making muffins for breakfast, before I go to church. Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Last night I was storytelling. I was so tired that it was difficult to focus on the words--instead I found myself constantly on autopilot, which is not good. During one of my stories a face floated through my head and for the next five minutes I was trying to remember where I knew her from. I could see her sitting down in front of a cup of tea, laughing...then I remembered. Luckily, I didn't shout "Eureka!" in the middle of my story, as that would have been inappropriate. For some reason my tired brain had conjured up one of my dorm-mates from London, another woman who was living in my floor, but one I wasn't particularly close to. British. Friendly. Down to Earth. Had a boyfriend in Wales, if I remember correctly. After the story was over I was sitting "backstage", indulging in the minutiae of that Brockley kitchen. The two tiny refrigerators that were always overfull and full of food that no one could get at. Ditto the tiny cupboards with the towels hanging through the handles. The kettle, of course, and the crappy stoves with their crappy electric hobs. Only one hob really worked, so that one got worked all the time...and eventually stopped working so well. The basil plant I tried to keep alive. Then I moved on to grocery shopping, thinking about the Sainsbury's down in the Lewisham shopping center. Only buying what I could carry in my one great big blaze orange Sainsbury's bag. The little boxes of crushed and split tomatoes with olives or peppers inside. The sandwich spreads that were so much better than American ham spread. Never buying ice cream because it would melt on the bus. Or, for that matter, anything that involved preparation beyond my one pot and pan. Baking? Forget it. When I cooked Thanksgiving dinner, I bought a chicken simply because it came with its own pan, and I had to ask my invited guests to bring their own plates. Most of us only had one.

I don't know why I got sucked into thinking about that. Perhaps its because Alison--who I met in that very kitchen--just got back from London, and graciously bought me an "I (heart) London" t-shirt (which I asked for) and a flapjack (which I did not.) Oh, God, I love flapjacks. Of all the foody items I miss the most, flapjacks are at the top of my list. I haven't eaten it yet, but I'm sure once I do I'll be overcome with memories, because I used to eat those things all the damm time. On the underground, walking to class, walking to rehearsal, in rehearsal, in class, late at night coming home from the bars... Oh my.

Then there's my bag. If you've seen me outside or taken a picture of me in a place that requires a purse, you've seen my cream-coloured messenger bag, bought the day I went down to Portsmouth to drool over the Victory. A few days ago it went into the trash. I can darn and patch with the best of them, but if the very integrity of the fabric is wearing away, there's no hope. I bought a new bag, which is almost exactly like this one, except it's green, plastic, and not from Portsmouth. Also I had to take off my Nelson button--the one showing a seventeen year old Lieutenant beating a polar bear to death with a rifle and that's why they're going extinct--and I realised just how dented up and rusty this stupid thing is. It really is the oddest thing to make a button out of, which is why I bought it, but now it's...well, I guess the moment's passed.

I live in Virginia now. I drink sweet tea and I smile whenever I smell honeysuckle (which is all the time these days). I'm relieved that our apartment has emptied itself of college-age students (including one of my roommates) because they are noisy and annoying. I'm a lot happier and a lot more content, and I have a boyfriend and a dog, which are two of the things on my List, so well done for me. And when my boss teases me and asks when I'm going back to London, I just shrug and say--"well, London will always be there."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Let the waters roar, Jack...

It's been raining all day, which is normally a lovely way to spend a Sunday inside (especially when the beagle is exhausted from a week's worth of playcare, exuberant babysitting and general being outside-ness), but this morning I volunteered to show up at CW for a militia program. It's hard to shoot a gun in the rain. Not only because your powder gets wet and you misfire, but because those Besses get really slippery in the rain. I think I did okay though--at least as far as my detail was concerned--I remembered all the manouvres correctly this time.

My roommate showed me this video from The Onion a few days ago--a spoof of "living history" museums where people dress up and try to re-enact certain time periods. Like CW. I love this video, because it's spot on...sometimes we have to remind ourselves not to take our jobs so seriously.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Ever the Optimist

Our apartment is a cave. Seriously. Cool, even in the heat of summer--if it wasn't for the humidity, we'd leave the AC permanently set to "off." Great for the electricity bill, not so great for those who have a yen to garden. As both I and my roommate do.

But hope springs eternal. Nearly a month ago I went to Big Lots and bought some pots, a trowel, and a few "gardeny" things like a little angel sculpture and a solar-powered garden light, as well as forty pounds of potting soil. Which rode around in the trunk of my car for a month. Then yesterday I stopped a Loewe's and bought some plants. I was excited about finally being able to buy whatever plants I wanted, but sad too, because springtime plant-shopping is something mom and I have always done together. And it's hard to sneak plants into your own cart. Also, as I've mentioned, we live in a cave--even our porch is cavelike--so I tried to restrict myself to the shady plants. Meaning, impatiens and begonias. Oh, and one splurge--a hanging fuschia, which is one of my favourites. I had to buy a shepherd's hook for it, so crowded is our porch already with Amaree's geraniums and pansies. She's more optimistic than I am. Although I couldn't resist just one tomato plant. And a stevia plant. Stevia is a sweet, sweet herb you can use in the place of sugar. Should this one take off, I'm going to put it in my tea and on my cereal.

Tonight, finally, I got everything planted. Well, almost everything--I managed to get too many plants, imagine. Some things never change. Guess it's back to the dollar store for more pots. My impatiens sit encircling a spike, my begonias are tucked cozily into a medium-sized pot, and my tomato is buried up to its neck in a giant planter, sitting in the sunniest place on the porch. Although, I didn't quite have the heart to buy a cage for it yet. Hope may spring eternal, but I think I'll wait and see if this plant will thrive before I invest in any more gardening equipment.

Friday, May 08, 2009

Where was I? What was I doing? Oh, right.

Hello loyal (and patient) readers. Evening programs have picked back up again in a big way, so I've been storytelling for the past three nights. I should have been in bed an hour ago, but the novelty of having nothing to do is so novel I'm sitting up enjoying it. In addition, militia has started marching, but only on Fridays. And the fact that I was working all day and all night would not deter me from throwing on my breeches and heading out for the review. I only screwed up once, when I shouldered my musket before the command, prompting my searjeant to say, "Put that firearm down! Wait for the order! Stop thinking!" Elicting titters of laughter from the crowd.

Auntie Erin and Auntie Nicole brought Kizfiz to the review, but he decided he didn't want to come any closer after hearing the cannon go off. He was shaking pretty badly when I saw him afterward, but he cheered up pretty quickly and very nearly almost caught a squirrel. He had the tail in his mouth and everything. Granted, it was one of the complacent fat CW squirrels, but then again he was leashed to Auntie Erin.

Somehow I managed to get through five tellings of my story tonight. I was afraid I'd have no energy left for the last group, but apparently I did. The last few lines of the story (where I'm exhorting them to get thee gone posthaste) were so effective that the kids jumped up and ran out of the room. Prompting me to laugh silently at their terror. Middle-school kids are so funny...they come in all cocky, sure that they'll never be scared by anything, but once you start telling stories about the actual place where you're sitting...well, pretty soon they shut up and start listening.

Life is good. Busy, but good.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

One step forward, two steps back

Kismet is feeling a lot better, as evinced by the fact he woke me up twice last night sniffing around looking for a rawhide he had buried and exhumed about a month ago from under my bed.

I, on the other hand, am a bit sore. Evening programs have picked up again (which is part of the reason I have been so lax writing NickiLovesDrama Platinum) and I worked tonight. I tell a ghost story that is set in the Randolph House, possibly the creepiest house in the entire Colonial Williamsburg historical area. Picture a beautiful colonial house, perfectly symmetrical, with a lovely detached kitchen and laundry connected by a passageway. Now picture the entire thing covered in dried blood-red paint. Yeah. It's creepy. Anyway, this is where I work.

The shoes I wear are uncomfortable, not because they're heels (an inch counts!) but because they have no padding in the ball of my foot. I fixed that by inserting insoles, but they made me feel so good that I went swinging down the street at a positively blinding pace, blithely swinging my basket, marveling how two little pieces of plastic can make me feet feel so good when--WHANG, my heel came down on a pebble, my ankle twisted, I landed on my knee and then on my a$$, basket flying, concerned William and Mary runner jogging up to ask if I was okay. Sure. Just embarrassed.

CW protocol insists that security be called for all accidents, so a call was duly made. A few minutes later my supervisor came huffing up "--I've called Kara, she's getting into costume!--" only to be reassured that I was fine, just really embarrassed to be sitting in the middle of Dog Street. The security guard administered an icepack and a large band-aid to my left knee where I skinned it, and I stood up shakily. Sore, achy (I must have pulled on my knee and hip too) but the show must go on. And it did. I had to fill out paperwork for my accident: just in case I should ever sue the Foundation, they can prove that it was totally my fault for not paying attention when I was walking around in daylight on a level, paved street.

But we got through it. And by the end of the night, my insoles had worked their way around to sit on the top of my foot, causing me to rethink this whole thing all together. Maybe tomorrow night I'll just wear my flat militia shoes...I'm sure no one would notice.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Trials of Beaglehood

I wanted to write a post about whether or not I feel more/less pressure now that I'm writing for a select audience. NickiLovesDrama Platinum, if you like. Now that it's only the loyalist of loyal readers, I feel like I need to increase the quality of journalism.

But the dog is sick. Proper sick. Can't keep a thing down, not even the fingernail sized treat at the vet, not even water. He's floppy to the point seeming bonelessness and, like a two year old with a fever, cuddly and miserable. I knew something was wrong when I set his food bowl down this evening and he sniffed it and then walked away. So we went to the vet. Luckily (or unluckily, if you like), he had an accident in the exam room, providing the sample needed to determine that he has a parasite. "Did he drink any standing water recently?" the vet asked. "Does the James River count?" I asked, conjuring up hazy memories of a languid Saturday spent beachcombing while the boyfriend cooked dinner. Turns out it does.

So I have a sick beagle on my hand. Right now he mostly wants to sleep and that's fine with me, but I have to make sure he doesn't get dehydrated. I cooked up a big pot of "bland diet" food (rice and lean beef) but he's so sick that a tiny piece came right back up again, along with most of his medicine. Sigh. Poor baby. I think his mom's going to take the morning off so she can monitor and give plenty of cuddlings.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Being Responsible

Right now I'd settle for some apartment-mates who didn't go out on their patio to smoke and hawk loogies into the grass, so that our tranquil nighttime open door is interrupted by the pall of smoke and the occasional "HWAUUUUUK-PTOOOIE!" Very attractive. I'm half tempted to go dump a bucket of water over their heads, but it's going to rain again, so the point would be moot.

Today I went to the dentist, which was very exciting. I just wanted my teeth cleaned, but instead the dentist was going to perform a New Patient Assessment, an Oral Cancer Screening and a Periodontical something or other, which involved him poking me with the pointy dental tool until my gums bled and then informing me I need to floss more. No cavities, but there might be a slight darking of the tooth which could potentially turn into a cavity, so when I come back for my cleaning (no, I didn't get a cleaning: insurance will cover everything except the hours I lose from work, arg) I will get a bottle of fluoride and, probably, miles of dental floss.

I felt very grown up, taking responsibility for my dental health and making an appointment and signing my own release forms. Although I was taken back somewhat to my childhood days when the dentist (who, I swear, was younger than I was) leaned over my open mouth and paused. Oh, wait for it, I thought, here it comes. And sure enough: "Did you know that your tonsils are absolutely enormous? Like--those are the biggest tonsils I've ever seen." Yes, actually, I have heard that before, like the time I had six dental hygenists around me, all gawking at my freakishly large tonsils. They're just there, like my spleen. Potentially annoying, but not really getting in the way. My dentist seemed really concerned that I should get them out as soon as possible, and even recommended an ear, nose and throat doctor to me.

So all systems clear, or so I thought. After work there was a message on my phone from the dentist who had taken my x-ray with him to lunch. At lunch were some other dentists, who had a wee consultation over their BLTs and mostly agreed that I have a cyst or polyp or something in my left sinus. This was the message left on my phone, mind you, not a bland "please call, I would like to speak with you," but an "OH MY GOD YOU HAVE A TUMOR IN YOUR FACE" giving me ample time to imagine myself with half my sinus off like the guy who had the flesh-eating bacteria.

And all my loyal readers know how vain I am about my cheekbones.

Anyway. The dentist assured me that it was nothing to worry about (all right, I may have slightly exaggerated the tone of the message, but it's IN MY FACE y'all, okay?), just a benign cyst probably, but it could cause infection, and he strongly encouraged me to get in touch with that ear, nose, and throat doctor. So it looks like I'm going. Just tonsils, no biggie, but tonsils and potential alien life form stuck up my left nostril, right, I'm there. Arg. Sometimes being an adult sucks.

And now if you'll excuse me, I have to go floss.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Has Anyone Seen My Motivation Recently?

No London for me. After agonizing about how to spend my 36.25 hours of vacation time, I finally decided to take a few days off around Memorial Day and then go home to Wisconsin in July. But when I went to turn in my vacation request, my boss pointed out that it had been due two hours ago. Fine. Guess I won't be going anywhere in May or June then... Mostly I'm mad at myself for procrastinating until after the last second has gone. Lately I haven't been able to get myself motivated to do anything. Writing? Not at all. Looking at jobs or potentially going back to school? Nope, nothing. Even walking the dog is beyond me most days. all I want to do is sleep and read. In that order. I need a vacation--but, as I mentioned, that ain't gonna happen any time soon.

The problem is, I'm very comfortable here in Williamsburg. My jobs keep me busy, so that I'm distracted from the fact that they don't pay very well...I work harder, not smarter, like yer supposed to. So I have the problem identified, the new problem is overcoming the apathy that led to the original problem in the first place. And yet I want to shout: is there really a problem at at, in the first place (second place)? So what if I'm poor and somewhat sleep-deprived, I like my job(s) and it's summer, so make hay while the sun shines. Yet I know I could be doing better. I need to stop being so comfortable and make another where, to what, I don't know. I don't know when I'm likely to find out either...again, that lack of motivation thing again.

But I'm getting itchy feet...a leap of faith might be just what I need.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Year In

It's hard to believe that just over a year ago I arrived in Williamsburg. Living in the historical area, secluded and sheltered, walking to the library to check my email and visiting the local coffee shop on Friday night just to have something to do. A year ago or so, when I was coming back from somewhere, I briefly joined a ghosts tour and listened to a haunting tale of a penitential I tell ghost stories and hand sew shifts by candlelight. It's been a good year. A lot has changed, but it's been a good year. A year where I can honestly say I haven't succumbed to any serious bouts of depression, or made bad choices that I regret. The first year in a long time.

Last week I was cleared on my story, so I worked Thursday night. And again tonight and then tomorrow. I need the money and it's good to tell it in front of an audience. We couldn't find the key to let ourselves into the passage tonight, prompting me to go around the break room asking the Randolph House ghosts to help us find it...they didn't, but security arrived in the nick of time with a bundle of historical keys, and the day was saved. My new story is complicated, there are lots of shifts of intention and focus. I would have written it waaaay differently. But it reads a lot better in the actual haunted house, and it's shorter than my old one, so I'm not quite so dead after the last tour.

Recently though, I've become aware of a job opportunity that I want to apply for...I'll say no more about it right now, however. I'd rather wait until I have something to say. This will impact NickiLovesDrama, though, because I am taking my blog private. Starting soonish, you'll have to have a password to get in. I don't want potential employers to see things I've written here, although I've tried to behave myself. So, loyal readers, if you want to stay loyal, send me an email and I'll let you know when NLD becomes an exclusive members-only club.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Kismet Is My Copilot

I want to put this on a bumper sticker on my car. You know. Make everyone think I'm beeing deep and philosophical and new age-y, when really, Kismet is my beagle. Ha.

anyway. I have so many scratches on my under-forearm right now it looks like I'm doing it on purpose. Lots of pins, all managing to scratch me as I twist another sleeve under my machine, trying to get it stitched in securely. I've been doing coats. An 80th of Foot redcoat, a couple silk coats, a linen coat. All of which have gone out the door posthaste, before I could think to get a picture of them. Which just means I'll have to grab my camera and do some interpreter stalking...what a way to meet my coworkers: "Hey, can I take a picture? I made that coat!"

Other than that, not much going on here. Nicole, Erin and I went shopping last Saturday for Nicole's wedding, and I managed to find a pair of ridiculously huge sunglasses, some nice smelly lotion from Bath and Body Works and shoes. Not shoes I could wear at a wedding, but, well, can never have too many shoes, really. So I've heard. We've got time, after all, wedding's not 'til December, but to hear her talk about it, we're only days away from driving to Florida. Did I mention it's a destination wedding? Oh yes. Florida in December sounds lovely. Of course, there's that other wedding I should probably start thinking about...Samio, would you mind terribly if I wore a petticoat and jacket? My sewing project list for my eighteenth century interpretation is out of control. But if I can manage to get a shift cut out this weekend...I could put it together in a couple hours.

And I'm working tomorrow night. Apparently the evening tours are booked up so fully they're having a bit of a staffing shortage, so I've been called in, even though I'm not cleared yet. I'll be going in early to work out any last minute kinks with the supervisor. Nervous? No. I'm too tired to be nervous. Although it feels sort of like the actor dream: "What are we waiting for?" "For you to get up there and perform the show!"

Then there's London. The question still looms. I had decided not to go, decided to take that money and make another dream come true and take some sailing lessons, but then...yet another friend mentioned she'd be in the city. And I'd probably be staying at a really nice hotel, thanks to a friend's dad's frequent flyer card. Oh so tempting. Did I mention I'm reading The Star of the Sea, which features a lengthy description of a wastrel earl leaving his home on Tite Street, wandring through Chelsea, down to Whitechapel and then Shoreditch? And then loving descriptions of the south bank, names so familiar and dear to me I could nearly walk them in my mind: Wapping, Greenwich, Deptford, Lewisham, Southwark. Southwark! Had to think how to spell that for a second...Suthuk would be better. Ay me. London, you siren.

Friday, April 03, 2009

One Way or another

Yesterday, Kismet safely ensconced at playcare, I found myself with a bonus hour at the end of the working day. I went to the library. I cannot remember the last time I was there. Wandering the stacks, letting one interest leading to another, kneeling on the ground in front of bookshelves pulling out tomes and flipping through them. The smell of dust and ink. The Williamsburg Regional Library is quite awesome for a small-town library, full of books generously donated by enthusiastic readers. I was there, ostensibly, to garner some research material that will assist me in putting together an "impression" of an eighteenth-century woman of the lower-middling sort. There's a lot to learn, apart from the clothes. History of my people, history of the area, just what sort of things would I know? Sewing, yes, cooking, yes, folk remedies, yes, but can I read? Do I comprehend the politics and the policies that are irreversibly pulling the Commonwealth away from the homeland? Items on the to-do list include building a Diderot bedgown and a cap, but they also include learning how to bake Sally Lunn bread over an open fire (sparked with flint and steel, of course) and learning some useful knots.

So in addition to several books about the history of Virginia and the ways that her early settlers entertained themselves, I also got a few novels and a couple books-on-CD which are a godsend at work. I never thought that I'd get bored of my musicals, but even I can only stand so many repetitions of "The Last Five Years." Right now I'm "reading" The Resurrectionist, which is great. The reader is having a little trouble differentiating the various characters, but the story--well, stories, really--is utterly engrossing. And so work went by quickly today. A good thing, since the temperature got into the eighties, and all I wanted to do was head outside and frolic.

This week hasn't been easy, however. Monday we found out that our part-time employee was going to be let go. Her last day was on Wednesday, so we had a little potluck party for her. It was awkward, but I think she appreciated it. Our boss' boss was torn up over having to eliminate a position when she's been fighting so hard to keep us all. We also found out on Monday that another of our employees was involved in a serious car accident, requiring three surgeries on her ankle, knee, hip and spleen, variously. She's out of the ICU, but there hasn't been any discussion about when she'll be going home. So this week has been kind of tense.

I really like working for CW. The company is a fantastic company to work for. Despite recent cutbacks, I still believe they care about their employees, and they encourage a family atmosphere to permeate both the historic area and we behind the scenes. But lately, more and more, I've been coming to accept that I can't stay here. Not in my current capacity. Mostly it has to do with the salary I'm drawing: if I ever want to have a prayer of owning my own home or doing more traveling, I need to make more money. Some of it has to do with the drama of the people I work with. I would love to work in another area of CW, but the mighty hiring freeze continues. Projects I've been presenting to people and ideas I've been nursing have been shot down one after another with the now all too familiar phrase "There's no money." Fair enough. The "economic crisis" (o overused phrase!) will lessen, however, and I will need to be moving on. I don't know what will happen...but something needs to give.