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...