26 December 2008

Happy Christmas

I don't think there are too many people who would come up with the word "traditional" to describe me. Many times I only observe holidays in the "traditional" sense to make other people happy... not that I'm not happy doing it, one of the things I enjoy most in life is making other people happy. I love knowing that someone is smiling because of something I said, did, wrote, or otherwise had a hand in. So, when it comes to the holidays, there are certain parts which are important to me as "tradition," but are not necessarily "traditional."

For me, Christmas morning has always been the most important part of the day. It's not just because that's when all the prezzies happen, but because it seems to be the one morning of the year the family gets up and doesn't have to hurry off to somewhere else. I have never NOT spent Christmas morning with my parents and brother.

This year seemed extra special. The failing economy has finally trickled down far enough to start touching my family (and friends), and everyone is getting a little stressed. But, this morning, none of that seemed to matter. We had mimostleys and home-made scones, lots of laughs, and a fabulous time.

There seems to be no room for nostalgia at Christmas. Every year is as great as the last, and as I get older, I seem to appreciate it more. I have never been more thankful for my family, they are truly amazing.

22 December 2008

The Spirit

I don't know who or what to blame.

It could be Dickens Fair, it could be Teh ShortBus, it might be CSB, maybe it's that I'm generally a much happier person. But, I'm actually in the Christmas spirit this year.

I spent a week and a half playing Secret Santa... only because I knew it would totally mess with someone. Yes, best practical joke I've played since St. Pat's day. I sent Secret Santa gifts to a coworker (no one else at work was doing an "organized" secret Santa), and was able to keep a straight face when she told me it was "freaking her out" and asked if it was me.

"What me? Secret Santa? Are you crazy? I frickin' hate Christmas."

I love bringing the Christmas funny. After about four days, I started giving gifts that played on some inside jokes we have, and she figured it out. I have to say, my favorite part was when she said the gifts were actually starting to freak her out a bit, and then she called me an "evil genius." Oh man, it's nice when someone else thinks you are an evil genius.

Dickens was amazing. From the laughs that happened every time CSB (Mr. Barnaby Woodcock) introduced me as Ms. Charity Strokeswell (and thank goodness he did, I can barely say it with a straight face), to the generosity of my lovely friends, and the amazing compliments I received on a daily basis.

Thank you all for the greatest holiday gift I could possibly receive... an over the top reminder that I am part of an amazing group of people. I can't remember the last time I blushed so often (you bunch of silly people). I wish there were some way I could give back as much as I received. You really have no idea how much you people mean to me.

17 December 2008

Bring Soup

I've been fighting it for a couple of days now. First a sore throat, then a couple of sneezes, then a LOT of sneezes, and now the stuffiness. Yes, I'll finally admit it. I have a cold. Just in time for Winter Break.

Although yesterday I wanted to write about Dickens Fair, and I wanted to write about work, and I wanted to tell you about my evil genius secret santa scam, today all I want to do is curl up on the couch with my box of tissue, my lappy, and my blankie (and really, I wouldn't mind having CSB to curl up with me... maybe make me some tea every now and again).

So, here it is, the unceremonious "I'm sick" *pout pout poor me* blog.

Oh... and I've changed my mind... I don't want soup any more. I want extra spicy red beans and rice. Spicy enough to scare the germs away and clear the sinuses.

11 December 2008

Through the Cracks

One would think, after all this time, working with this "demographic" group of kids, there wouldn't be much that could shock me.

But, there are times when I'm floored.

In my sixth period (health science) class today, I decided to show the movie Freedom Writers. It isn't necessarily "on topic" at the moment, since we're working our way through a unit on substance abuse... but it's Health, I can get away with pretty much anything.

Especially with this group of kids. I've actually been told, "most of these guys aren't going to graduate anyway, the most important thing you can do is keep their behaviors under control for those 56 minutes."

But, there are times when I actually feel like I have their attention. Of course, when those moments happen, I'm overwhelmed by the amount of information I would like to give them, and I don't know what to do with myself. Today, during this movie, I actually had their attention. And, at one point, the teacher character (played by Hillary Swank) is talking about the Holocaust...she's comparing the student's (self-imposed) segregation and gang activity to the way people were treated during that period.

As I was sitting there thinking about the comparison, one of my students pipes up (remember, these are Juniors in high school, 16-18 years old in this class), "what is the Holocaust?"

I respond, "Wait, what? Are you serious?"
Three or four other students chime in:
"No, I don't know what that is either."
"Is that a type of food?"
"No, stupid, it was when they didn't let people listen to music."
"I'm not stupid, you're an asshole!"
"You're all stupid, it was because things were really expensive!"


Keep in mind that there is only one white kid in this class... and she tells everyone she's half Puerto Rican (even though her last name is so Italian it's not even funny). And not one of them, at an average age of 17 years old, knew what the Holocaust was... not one of them had even heard the term. I was shocked.

So, I pause the movie. First question, "who is your history teacher?"

Not surprisingly, they all have the same guy... that dude is getting a visit tomorrow morning... we need to have a chat. We talked about the whole thing, I explained (in a very SpEd way) what happened, how people were killed because of what they looked like, or their spiritual beliefs, and gave them a brief lesson on genocide. They were quite impressed.

I think I've come up with a whole new way to teach this class. Considering I can tie almost anything in to "health," I plan to give up on the book. They are bored by it, I find it too vague and outdated, it is time to put it aside and do some real teaching. I have an idea for a plan. If it works, I'll share it with you... I'll let you know if I manage to teach these kids anything... I'm suddenly feeling a little more positive about this class. When we start the second semester, I'm going in with a whole new approach.

Call it kamikaze health. I'll either win, or crash and burn.

Either way... I'm going off the books baby...
Wish me luck.

09 December 2008

Frozen Solid

I'm sure I've mentioned it before...

I am a California Girl. No question. Seriously... ask me if I want to go play in the snow, you'll see me shudder, and have a very minor seizure... I get tics and fits just thinking about setting foot in the snow. Not that I won't go somewhere that it snows, just don't expect me to actually go out in it. I'm fully happy to sit inside, sipping a nice warm adult beverage, sitting by a fire, looking at the beautiful landscape, and reading a book or blogging or something.

The last time I was somewhere while it was snowing was when I was in Reno visiting Drew while he was in the hospital. I found myself in a casino in the middle of the night (shocking), my friends were gambling, and I was done for the night... and for some reason, I decided to step outside. It was just beginning to lightly snow, and there was a light dusting on the ground... at that moment, it was perfectly quiet on the street, and for the first time in my life, I understood why people enjoyed snowfall. It was beautiful (although damn cold).

I do remember driving up for Drew's memorial service (9 or 10 months later), and stopping for gas. I opened the car door, and stepped ankle deep in a pile of slushy snow. ick. Funny, that would have been the first time CSB saw me react to having to deal with snow ("omg! get it off get it off!!" or something like that). I'm pretty sure he laughed at me, then laughed even harder to find the gas station closed, and I had to go somewhere else... in the snow.

Fast forward to today... about two years later.

For those of you who don't know, I am currently living in a "converted" garage. "Converted" means that the floor is linoleum tile squares stuck to the concrete floor (yes, there is a big rug over most of the floor). About three feet from the garage door, there is an uninsulated sheet rock wall to protect me from the great wilderness. Hey! I think if you live less than two miles from a wildlife preserve/bird sanctuary, and practically IN the delta/slough, you are allowed to call it "wilderness". I promise, when I come to yer big city, I won't gawk at the open mindedness, or stare too much at teh gays.

I woke up this morning and it was COLD. Not just "oh wow is it chilly" cold, but more like, "oooomg wwwwwtf is this still California?" COLD. So cold, I couldn't even imagine getting in the shower... yes, the shower is hot... but, the moments before and after... no, I just wasn't interested in that kind of freezing. So, as I'm getting dressed I hear Tela start her car (not unusual considering the driveway is about 10 feet from my bed), and it idles for a bit... then I hear an odd noise...*swipe swipe swipe*

It takes my brain a minute to place it... and then again *swipe swipe swipe*... and I know exactly what it is. The cars are frozen. Not just "a little icy" but seriously frozen. *swipe swipe swipe swipe* Windshield wipers on ice... damn.

Now I understand just how cold it actually is, and take into consideration one of the benefits of living in a garage... I know I need to leave about five minutes earlier to let my car defrost. I do appreciate having the opportunity to rent the "west wing" (my room, ShortBus's room, and the "guest" bathroom) from Tela... but there are definitely times when I'm extra aware that I'm practically living outside.

These are the times I seriously can't wait to move out.

02 December 2008

Feinting Friday

Who knew?

Yes, my mom has been worried for years...

"do you know what women used to go through?"
"they had feinting couches for a reason."
"women's bodies were permanently changed because of fashion!"
"just be careful, don't lace these things too tight..."

After 13 years of Renaissance Faire, and five years of Dickens Fair one would think I'd be used to corsets and bodices... one would think I would know my limits and how to eat and drink while wearing such a contraption.

Apparently... *shrug*... not so much.

Last Friday was the opening day of Dickens Fair. Having purchased a new (to me) costume (pictures to come as soon as Mr. Nanning sends them to me), I was very excited, couldn't wait to get dressed and onto the streets of London with my gentleman escort. So much fun to play a "proper" Victorian lady.

Stepping up to the pub at Mad Sal's... people looking shocked when I'm unescorted... a Lady would never go out in that part of town without an escort. Of course, when I'm there alone, my escort is usually getting ready to go on stage, and I can give them a cheeky look and tell them that my escort is "indisposed in back, leaving me completely to my own devices!" Oh yes, shocking, I must say. *gasp*

So, I felt fine all day, though the day flew by. I made a couple of purchases, and christened a new goblet with champagne. By the time CSB's 2:30 show came around I was pretty hungry, but decided to wait until after he finished dancing to start prodding him for lunch.

Luckily, the Victorian Lady doesn't have to smile, she is proper and stoic, and can lean on her escort and be in quiet pain with a blank look on her face. All she ever really has to say is, "Happy Christmas." with a curtsy and a small smile (or grimace as the case may be).

When the show was over, I was famished, and Bangers and Mash sounded PERFECT! Not to my squished tummy, but to my brain... yes, the brain wanted Bangers and Mash.. the tummy... well it wanted a bit of water and a soda cracker. No wonder those Victorian women got their corsets so tight.

So, of course, once again I listen to the brain instead of the rest of my body, and ate half a plate of Bangers and Mash (omg! The salt! The SALT!! YUM!)... then thought... "I'm totally stuffed, I should get a beer." I never said my brain was the smartest part of my body... as a matter of fact... you'd think I would know by now NOT to listen to the brain after two glasses of champers. *eye roll*

Beer in goblet, we decide to go outside for some air. I think to myself... "hm, it IS suddenly quite warm in the Cow Palace... oddly so." Yet, don't connect the food, beer, champers, and corset to the sudden oppressive heat... really?

As we're we're out in the fresh air, I start to feel light headed, and in my passive way, I quietly mention, "ya know, I might just need you to loosen my corset at some point." Although, by then it was too late... I didn't realize that my body was saying "now" while my brain was saying, "oxygen? bah.. whatev... oohh... look at the pretty aldjfa;lkjrlekjae..."

Suddenly, I can't breathe.
Suddenly, I'm pouring sweat.
Suddenly, I know I'm going pale and clammy, and totally less attractive than I was a minute ago...
Suddenly, Giddy isn't so Giddy any more.
Suddenly, the corset... no, the corset still looks awesome... that's the thing about corsets.

Luckily, one of the last things I was able to get clearly out of my mouth was, "can you please loosen my corset... NOW.... No, NOW... I'm seeing spots, if you could do it faster..." Even more luckily, CSB was right there, and through my bright colorful spots and little black patches, he had me breathing again (and slowly sipping water) in no time. Once again, he is my hero.

Not only that but then he says something to the effect of, "hey, we have two more days of this, what do you say we leave early?"

oh... yes, please. Three days of corset? I'm okay with one of them being less than eight hours.

Then, "I'm going to go get our stuff, I'll be right back."
And on top of all that, once he came back, "would you like me to go get the car or do you feel okay to walk?"

By then, I was fine, but still appreciated the thought. No matter the era, he is always the gentleman.

Now that I can breathe again (thanks to CSB), it is time to find this character a name. I mean really, I can't meet up with Mrs. Benedict, Mr. Lammle, and Mrs. Smallwood in the street and NOT have a name. Mr. Lammle said he would help me come up with something unique and fitting... and I can always depend on Mrs. Smallwood for creative anachronisms.

I have come up with a couple that make me giggle like a 12 year old boy... I can't wait to try them out...

01 December 2008

Hot Wheels

I mean really... you see that face in the middle of the road looking stunned and frightened, cars whizzing by... there wasn't even a little evil part of me that wanted to know what it would look like squished.

So I pull over, give the ShortBus a handful of crackers and a coloring book, and tell him I'll be right back... after I save the doggy. Go SuperMommy!

Unfortunately this little punt of a pooch has been scared to death, and now not only is he running around in traffic, but I am too. Standing on the sidewalk calling him isn't working, running willy-nilly through the intersection trying to scare him out of the street isn't working, making all kinds of stupid noises and faces, pretending I have food, throwing goldfish crackers to tempt him... not working.

As I'm standing in the middle of the intersection doing one or all of the above, I notice a police car, top speed, lights flashing, coming my way. As he flies through the intersection, he has the courtesy to slow down for a second to yell, "that's what leash laws are for lady!" out the window. Golly, thanks. It took everything I had not to give him the finger. I mean, I'm generally cynical about humanity, but at least I'm not an a-hole about it.

At some point the little shit dog decides the safest spot for him to hide is under my car, and why not? It's not going anywhere. Ugh. ShortBus seems fully amused by the situation, and as I'm crawling around in the street under my still running car, I'm talking to him through the window... and all he cares about is, "mommy, can I see the doggy? I want to get out and see the doggy."

Yeah kid, you are SO NOT getting out of the car right now.

I finally decide to grow a pair, reach out and grab the shivering little beast, and figure I'm going to get bit. No time to sniff my finger to see if I'm friend or foe, you are coming with me. Pulling and dragging, I get him into my arms. Now what?

Well, I suppose now I have to take him home... what else can I do?

The ShortBus decides that we should name him Hot Wheels, and no matter how many times I try to explain it to him, he doesn't seem to understand that "Hot Wheels" has a family who is missing him terribly. Yes, I am pretty sure that Hot Wheels, with his collar and clean fur, has probably escaped from someones yard or house, and they are out looking for him. Maybe, just maybe they are out looking for him right now! So, we hop back into the car to drive through the neighborhood listening for someone calling for him.

The story ends with "Hot Wheels" falling asleep in the passenger's seat, Short Bus in the back whispering (because I told him he had to be quiet so I could hear if someone was calling for their lost doggy), and me thinking, "oh good grief, this dog SO can't come home to live with us." And then I hear it... well, Hot Wheels heard it, I barely heard it, but I saw a dog who was peacefully curled up asleep in the car stand straight up as if he'd been poked by a (really small) cattle prod.

As I suspected, Hot Wheels's owner was out walking the streets looking for him. We exchanged pleasantries, and I honestly couldn't get over the sense of joy I felt when I saw this woman reunited with her Julian (one boy's Hot Wheels is another woman's Julian). Although I felt terrible for any dog that had to go through life called Julian, I was happy to learn that she had rescued him from certain death only a year ago, and Hot Wheels had accidentally been let out of the yard earlier that day by the landscapers.

He was a sweet little dog, and I'm happy I was able to help reunite him with his family. On the way home, Short Bus and I were discussing the evening and he said, "Mommy? Why didn't she name the dog Hot Wheels?"

Me: "I don't know, maybe she thought Julian was a good name for him."
SB: "Hot Wheels is a better name."
Me: "Well, its no Onion Mud, but it'll do."
SB: "Mommy?"
Me: "Yes?"
SB: "When we get our own house can we get a dog?"
Me: "Maybe we should start with a cat."
SB: "Maybe we should name him Hot Wheels."