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Awkward party moments made fun!

I was raised to be the life of the party and I can do it without alcohol, drugs or a game board. The trick is I enjoy a good awkward situation.  Since New Year’s Eve is here I’m sharing some party pointers with you anxious party avoiders. Have a zinger ready when you have exhausted yourself preparing to entertain and then panic when people arrive. Look at each crash and burn moment as a chance to light up the sky with flames of even more awkwardness. Give them a line they won’t  forget or that will at least  make them as uncomfortable as you are.  Here are some lines that have worked for me.

1. You can’t remember the person’s name at introduction time. Try some of these:

“This is my other wife, no, not my ex, I have two, you didn’t know? Wow, excuse me, gotta go.”

“Oh my God, (Hug, Kiss, cry) Look who’s here! Everyone, can I have your attention..On the count of 3 say hello. 123 Hello………….Don’t you remember his name. What kind of people are you?”

” Hi this is a person who  bakes delicious food and I believe you are someone who likes to eat delicious food, am I right? Make yourselves at home.”

” I have to introduce you two by code names because you are both so attractive I don’t want you to stalk each other.”

“I believe these are the droids you are looking for.”

 

2. Someone asks how you know the host or a guest and it’s not something you wish to share, as in you met them in a support group, you are the hired help, or you just crashed the party.

” We met in a church parking lot. We were both looking for a support group and couldn’t find it so we said f*# it and went out for coffee.  What support group was it anyway, do you remember?  Women who hate too much? Snickers anonymous?”

” Oh, I’m being paid to attend this party, aren’t you? I think everyone else is. Sorry, maybe you’ll get paid next time.”

” We went to X-Men school together.”

” We were supposed to be looking for these two droids and the rest is history”

regrets1

3. Someone asks an intrusive question like “Do you own this place?” “How much do you pay a month?” “How do you all share one bathroom?” “Do you mind if I clean up the place a bit?” “What do you do for a living?” ” Do you have any kids?” “Is that your natural hair color?”

“Jeez, I really don’t know the answer to that question. Shall we Google it?”

” Just a moment, let me get my liar, I mean my lawyer. He knows that kind of stuff right off the top of his head.”

” How about those droids you were looking for?

droidsposter

Now get out there and have some fun!

 

 

 

 

Best Christmas presents eva!

And that is not Eva, like Eva Marie Saint who is 91 years old now just in case you never heard of her. The word is “eva” as in how you pronounce the word “ever” in Boston.

xmaspotato

This is my Christmas potato. It was my potato, in my vegetable basket. When my roommate discovered I bought him present and he had none for me, he put it in a Christmas bag with the word “Joy” printed on it and gave it to me.  My gifts to him were a box of Cheerios  which had a free Star Wars Drone inside and a People magazine specially devoted to Star Wars. He immediately opened the cereal and found the droid, then announced he would have to keep buying boxes until he found BB8.

Here is another great present. My sister and I were on Skype discussing famous male folk singers who wrote inspirational, poetic lyrics and who might or might not have raspy voices. She found this particular link and even though Tom Waits was not the correct answer, it was the right one because when we listened we both laughed until we cried and could not breathe.

My favorite comment reads “nice try drunk, sick Captain Beefheart.”

This may be the best holiday compilation ever!

My roommate also brought home some Rocher candy balls. Someone on facebook shared a post that these particular treats often have dried moths entombed inside their hard chocolate shells. We have not been able to bring ourselves to crack them open. Perhaps we will wait until spring and do it outside, just in case.

The other great presents were getting to go caroling not just once but twice! I was invited to many parties which is much appreciated because I am single and unemployed. I had mulled wine, salmon in black rice and homemade wontons.  I am so lucky to know so many good people and cooks! Also I got to know some new ones.  No one actually knows what the New Year will bring but I hope it brings lots of laughs, parties, singing and potatoes!

 

 

God’s letter to Santa, ho, ho, ho!

nightdeer

Dear Santa,

Sorry to take so long to respond to your last letter but its all I can do to keep up with my Facebook account. Now I’m hearing Facebook is old hat!  What are we two anachronisms gonna do? I bet the kids don’t even write in cursive anymore.

So here’s my list, top secret, no Wikileaks please. Most folks assume I’m perfect and all powerful, I hate to disillusion them but your polls are much higher than mine. I need your help.

  1.  Let’s get some rain falling somewhere other than Bangladesh and The Philippines. Can you do that for me?  Do you think a little rain, a little sun, a great year for produce would cool down tempers in the Middle East a bit? I haven’t been having any luck and I just don’t think new iphones are going to do it this year.
  2. How about vaccines for all the kids whose parents wouldn’t let them get vaccinated? I think I’ve got a few connections in public health who could train the elves to administer them.
  3. I want you to dump all the toy guns somewhere that people have a sense of humor or find a plant where they can figure out a way to use them as logs for those obnoxious tiny houses everyone is talking about. Second thought- no tiny houses for anyone this year and no fake guns. People can live in apartments and share toliets like the rest of the world and kids can use sticks to point and shoot at each other. Deliver lots of sticks!
  4. I’m sending the Grim Reaper to ride along with you. Everyone who asked for a Kalashnikov gets a visit from him instead.
  5. This is going to seem a little mean spirited, but I’m getting old. Please check your list and deliver the gluten free treats ONLY to people who have Celiac disease. The rest of them? Let them eat cake!
  6. Is there anyway you can think of to bankrupt Coca Cola and Pepsi this year without putting lots of people out of work? I keep seeing more and more teeth under the pillows and these aren’t even kids. The Tooth Fairy has me on speed dial.  Don’t suggest more Kombucha, please!
  7. We’ve got to find a way to discourage American football even further. Maybe a card with every ball that says, “A brain injury waiting to happen.”? How about a bumper sticker on your sleigh that says “Think or play football.” I like the ring of that.
  8. My so called “son” just stopped by and wants to thank you for taking the heat off him this season. He’s so embarrassed by all the baby pictures. He’s more burned out on humans than I am, I think there’s some internalized prejudice going on there seeing as he is mixed in background. Could you get him a couple of tickets to Star Wars? I want him to take a nice girl, or guy. I really don’t care, I just want him out of the house but when I tried before that ended badly.

I’m sure I can think of more things to put on the list but I know you’re really busy. Take care. See you at the retreat.

Love God.

 

Unemployment – humbling but fun

How can unemployment be fun? I admit I have to make it entertaining but isn’t that what we do with work? It’s an excellent opportunity for creativity. If I do a good job looking for work I treat myself to a nice jar of Nutella and the task of learning how to draw a reindeer so I can paint it on the window

It’s unfortunate that so many people want to know what you do for work whether you’re looking for work or not.  If I tell them I’m unemployed then they want to know what I’m looking for and give me lots of suggestions. I try to beat them to the punch with “I’m just going to let the right job find me.”  They may respond, “Oh you must have lots of money!”  To which I say, “Doesn’t really matter.” At this point they hate me and walk away. I have had my fun.

Why doesn’t it matter? I live very low on the food chain. That could change any minute but that too is out of my control.  What I have to watch out for is my own anxiety which smells pretty bad.  Luckily, many first interviews are by phone now. I got a call about a catering position the other day. They asked when the last time I catered. I started babbling about how I ran a kitchen at the mental health center for over ten years and considered bragging that no one got food poisoning but “food poisoning” is not the phrase I wanted to be remembered for.  Instead I mentioned that food safety was very important. She liked that.

I have been on a career search since I finished a decade working at the community mental health center. I tried counseling at the military base. I worked in hospitality,  and at The Halloween Store.

I always take a small trip between jobs just like some people do between marriages.  This time I went to Paris. This is where I figured out that what I do for a living is not that important as long as I have the flexibility to see my family. I love my family and we  laugh  sometimes harder than anyone else can make me laugh. Paris might not be the funniest city in the world but it can be a silly place despite the terrorism. Isn’t that the way of the world?

Here is some silliness from The Chateau of Chantilly which we went to for the cream and stayed for the horses.

jcchaval

There is a Museum of The Horse here and a giant race track. The museum has real horses in the stable and lots of statues and carousel pieces.

big bunny

Here is Beth trying to get a rise out of a giant carousel bunny.

There are extensive grounds at this chateau, and we found ourselves at the Hameau on which Marie Antoinette  based her little village.  At the edge of the village were these excellent things. I don’t know what you call them, but we had them all to ourselves!

beth earring

Beth as the lady with one pearl earring and her scary outerspace consorts whose heads are made of straw.

beautiful beth

Beth is a medievalist so she naturally looks better in period garb, as opposed to me.

me silliest

I look a bit out of sorts in this scheme. My expression would fit in better were I on a roller coaster.

Here are The Dauphin pictures, both are pretty good I think. Once again Beth just seems to wear it better.Although you can definitely tell we are related.

bethdauphin

 

medauphin

But enough of this silliness. I hope you don’t take offense given all the tragedies in the news but sometimes I have to just look for the bright side. If I look hard enough I will find a reason to keep on. Here are some more silly things we saw on our many walks.

bunn2

Here is Beth greeting another bunny. It is too bad he is locked up in the Museum of Taxidermy.

Next is an international warning sign we saw on the windows of L’Hopital de St. Denis, the old leper hospital.

urine

 

You can see the ancient decaying walls separating the hospital from the neighborhood but inside it seems pretty modern. The old building which had “Baths” for leprosy therapy  is now some kind of outpatient treatment building next to  the Musee de Moulange.

This is an example of Moulange.

wound

It’s a French casting technique which was used to teach medical personnel about skin diseases and wounds. You can see why a leprosy hospital might have lots of these wax models on hand and turn them into a museum for freaky foreigners.

When we visited a cemetery to look for the graves of Dumas Pere, Njinsky and Collette, we were sorely disappointed.  Colette’s grave was fine, we couldn’t find Dumas Pere, and look at Njinsky’s grave!

njinskey

I would sue if they put something like that on my grave. I know they are basing it on this particular role.

NijinskyPetrushka3

But could he not be remembered like this?

nijinsky-dans-les-orientales

 

I don’t know how I will be remembered. Read the rest of this entry

Murder in the Cathedral

Notre Dame – photo taken Friday Nov. 13, 2015nd

If you’ve visited Paris, even virtually, you’ve seen the cathedrals. They buzz with tourists who aren’t aware that people still pray.   Cathedrals remind me of  War of The Worlds where both the priest and the church are destroyed by  aliens who possess greater technology and less sentimentality.  The message I got was, why pray? Who are you praying to?

France shook the spirits out of the church in 1789.   So these cathedrals are now more like monuments.  Filled with such monuments, the city of Paris has become one of the great cathedrals of Western culture. People from all parts visit to experience the heart of art, fashion, food, wine and architecture. Even more arrive in Paris seeking work, shelter or medical assistance, as they do in all the great capitals of the world. It is not a simple city. It has its gargoyles. Just look at any school building.  Note the plaque commemorating the number of Jewish children deported from this location.

In Murder in the Cathedral, the play about Saint Thomas Beckett, soldiers kill the brazen Beckett in a sacred space in order to bring down the church, only to have him made into a Saint. As in War of the Worlds, nothing is sacred, nothing ever was. Murder is a reminder of that. But we continue to be woken up to the sacred even through terror. With the recent terrorism in Paris this has become even more clear to me.

I was in Paris on the day of the murders. I don’t have much of a story to tell as I was safe inside. The only terror  I experienced happened the day after, at Charles De Gaulle airport.  I was foolish. They said my flight was operating so I showed up and was amazed at how ill  equipped we all were. Staff was minimal, army and police were busy elsewhere.  Yet all the idiots like myself reported to their planes. Not to beat myself up, it’s human nature to need time to adjust to tragedy.  It was my first experience in a mob which swept me off my feet. Someone made the error of forming several lines of over a thousand people who converged at one door. The man at the door was under pressure to admit very few people as there were a thousand more people waiting to be screened upstairs. There was shoving, people cutting in line, yelling, threatening the attendant. I’m glad you didn’t see this on the internet. It was embarrassing.  It did calm down as the day wore on.

I did not react well. I didn’t scream or hurt anyone.  I did use my upper class privilege to find a way out of the chaos. I would not listen to my sister who encouraged me to go home with her to Belleville and try again another day. I could not bear being defeated nor imagine coming back to this living hell.  I  had missed my flight because of the mess, so I got on my phone and booked another one for a few hours later.  I flew out through Istanbul, which my family thought outrageous, but if there’s any place that’s prepared for terror it’s the Middle East.  You don’t enter the airport without a screening, nor do you enter a hotel.  It doesn’t matter what you look like or where you come from.

I abandoned Paris and my sister with it. I’m ashamed, but I understand that I am imperfect being who is unlikely to be the last person left in the path of a hurricane or a pogram.   Parisians and the rest of us  will be making similar choices.  One of the important questions is how much terror can you take?  We often don’t figure out until we are tested. What if my reaction had been instead to remain and purchase flowers to give to each person in line or those I met along the street?

I apologize and I have reorganized my psyche. Most everyone who was not intimately involved with the killings will do so and even those who have lost the most may change in ways that we may not anticipate. Murder closes a door and opens several others. Which open door will we choose? Or will we sit by our grief for a bit longer and contemplate?

One can subdue a culture but I don’t think Paris will be subdued for long. They are a self-confident even brazen city, like New York  but with a longer history of both beauty and terror. They will find a way. But will the rest of us? I  worry about the young people, and the migrants, some of whom have been deprived of sanctuary and others of their lives. It isn’t healthy to have no where to turn.  Nowhere is safe where people feel unsafe. I make stupid choices when I am impatient and lack perspective. This fuels further persecution of the Syrian refugees.  Both the guillotine and The Nazi Occupation must inform our decisions. Terror manages to convince us to trade our neighbors in to save our own skin.  Terror also engenders martyrdom. As Dickens said, “It is a far, far better thing I do….” Is it really?

I notice that fanatical groups, who encourage martyrdom for their own glory, create martyrs for “our side” as well.   Is this a primitive form of communication? Be like us. Feel our loss. Fight like we do. You are us.  Resistance is futile because resistance is what we want? Even more terrible, they want our children.  The Hitler Youth like conscription of naive teenagers and the criminally inclined to a powerful cause is an old ploy.  New fighters are  seduced by marketing, by the feeding of delusions of power and fame which professional creators of chaos target. I think of our own army recruiters and wonder about the nature of coercion.

Rats  are collapsing their bones to enter our homes. We become them and crank out even more soldiers, learn more dangerous ways to extract information. This should not surprise me as my country, the United States, is the world’s vender of security on an increasing anxious planet .

We have a new plague but we can no longer believe it is caused by witches. It is caused by that human infirmity we share with our enemy, the idea that we are, without question, Read the rest of this entry

Life Backstage

Behind the stagelights lurks a dark room with half clothed women.

Behind the stage lights lurks a dark room with half clothed women.

Back stage lurks a shadow life of what you see from the audience.The crazy antics you see on stage don’t spring from nowhere. They’re fueled with real life wackiness.  Actors are collectively a bundle of nerves, and intestines, which can explode under pressure.

On occasion, I have been strongly advised to light a match after I finished my business in the toilet despite the fact that most theaters are fire traps. Just like nervous sweat smells different than regular sweat, nervous poop has a certain tang to it.

I tend to fart and swear when I get nervous. Because I have grey hair, it is pretty humorous when I say the word M*F*er.  After I emerge from the light booth, where I can surreptitiously check out the audience,  I might comment, “Ooh, there’s quite a few M*F*er’s out there tonight!”  It’s not about you. It’s about me. I want to make the other actors laugh.

It’s fun to make people laugh onstage and a challenge I relish backstage. Actors take themselves very seriously before and during a show.. No one wants to forget their lines or look bad.  Messing up lines is expected on my part.  I know myself. I’m never going to be perfect. Modeling failure gives other people a chance to shine and to not feel like they’re alone when they blow it. I have seen a great correlation between people who get every word right and a lack of humanity but perhaps that’s just my jealous rage speaking.

At the end of the first act I found myself getting warped and woofing in a quick costume change.Then I realized I could go on stage in disarray and continue to dress while there.  By trying to control the outcome backstage I had deprived myself of business onstage. It is never good to be slave to perfection. Theatre is about making clay look like marble, but even realistic marble needs a few cracks.

One of the ways we obsessively control our nerves backstage is through food.

Shove this food in your mouth before you scare the other actors

Shove this food in your mouth before you scare the other actors

I got into my character, (the crazy mom), by making the food for the dinner in the first scene. It was always pasta but i changed it up each night with the sauces and spices. One night about two tablespoons of garlic powder fell into the pasta. It was too late to make more so I scraped off what I could and hoofed it down to the show. My odoriferous entrance was noted and concerns were voiced about the effects on at least one of the kisses in the second act. I countered with the overwhelming benefit of smell-o-rama making our dinner scene all the more believable. It certainly cleared out the sinuses. There was none left over at the end of the show.

My biggest success was with cleaning up backstage before our last show. I was picking up empty water bottles, peppered figs and other assorted and sordid trash from the floor when I spied a plastic grocery bag under the couch.  In it was a box of unopened “Gourmet chocolates from Canada” with a thank you note.  Since none of our actors or crew was named “Rachel” we opened up the note to find out that Rachel had done a fine job supporting the children in some long ended production for which Henry’s parents wanted to thank her with this gift. So thank you Henry’s parents for the nice gift. I’m sure Rachel did not forget these delicious chocolates. She was probably just allergic to them. For about a hundred and ten seconds, people acted like the chocolate was too old to eat and that it would be tacky to devour it, until they did. It was gone by intermission.

So besides being a 55 year old woman with cellulite having to take off her pants and shirt in front of a bunch of twenty somethings in the blue light of pretty tight quarters, life was not that bad backstage. When I feel my real life is sad and useless I think of how badly I had to go to the bathroom each night right when we were supposed to start and  how I would forget about it while I was onstage trying to look relaxed and get the words out of my mouth. The mind and the body can be fools and they can fool others. It’s called acting.

shirts

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National Depression Screening Day and other fun tests you can take!

Tomorrow, Thursday Oct 8th, is National Depression Screening Day. I took my test early to avoid the rush. Even though I take antidepressants and anti-anxiety drugs and attend a support group, I screened positive for moderate depression and severe anxiety. The good thing is that I am unemployed, single and I live in Alaska so I can blame some symptoms on my circumstances.

I used to think these tests were bullshit. Once, before the internet,  when I was teaching at an alternative school, I took a break on the playground to call a depression hotline. It was not a suicide hotline, just for depression. I  had no health insurance at the time.  The lady said I did not have depression. I had never been diagnosed with depression so I was just really pissed off and frustrated but figured it must be something else. Later I found out I have a common combination of anxiety and depression. It took a psychiatrist and some alarming symptoms to get me to try medication. Like most people I would rather not have to take meds but I had exhausted the other options – already exercising an hour or two a day, journalling, counseling, SAD light, mindfulness, 12 step and things just kept getting worse. At least now I know that half the know it all negativity in my brain is bullshit! ( There apparently is a National Bullshit Awareness Day for those of you who are interested.)

I took a bipolar test today as well and it was surprisingly accurate, just like my psychiatrist is. It said I needed 7 symptoms in one category, (shades of DSM) and that I needed to have have gotten into trouble for some of these symptoms.  I only had 6 symptoms and have never gotten in trouble because of them.  Most of these symptoms, like having a lot of energy, not wanting to sit still, talking too much or too fast, according to my shrink, are  attributable to my anxiety so that made sense.

Why take such depressing tests? Because I can see that sometimes I am doing better than other times. I can get perspective. I often take silly facebook quizzes like “What kind of dog are you?” or “What Doctor Who Character are you?” so why not a mental health screening?

Maybe you would like to try some of these alone or with a friend.  It is not normal to worry about things all the time. It is not normal to blame oneself for everything or to blame other people. Most of the time it’s just life.  I am renewing my perspective so that I can see worry as a sign for self care rather than a reason to run away or confront something that should be best left alone.

Here is a link for the simple mental health screenings I took:

http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/mental-health-screening-tools

So what if you come out positive? It’s just information. Did you know that depression can be a side effect of other diseases as well? It may help to discuss these results with a health provider.

Now if you want to have fun with a friend or with your best friend, ( hopefully yourself), here are some other quizzes I love

http://www.buzzfeed.com/chelseamarshall/what-kind-of-dog-are-you#.qg6ov5vYA

I am a Corgi!

http://www.gotoquiz.com/results/what_sci_fi_character_are_you

This one is fun because it uses the way-back-machine. I got:

Doctor John Robinson, who like me, is Lost in Space

Doctor John Robinson, who like me, is Lost in Space

One more:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/joannaborns/quiz-what-food-matches-your-personality#.gggG6V6XR

I got ice cream! I will probably have to take another quiz to find out what flavor.

Just trying to balance the humor with the angst! Let me know how it goes!

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