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When Being Wrong is a Good Thing.

Posted on 2015.01.28 at 12:41
I’m not a big fan of being wrong. Really, who is? There are few feelings worse than getting up on a soapbox spouting off that “the sky is red” only for someone to come along and politely point out that the sky is really blue, leaving you with a feeling of egg on the face in front of the world. But every not and again, “wrong” is not a bad thing but an opportunity for education or for pleasant surprise. And it is with that concept in mind that I write this post.

Right now, as many of you out there in Facebook know, there are some rather controversial topics being bantered back and forth within the SCA and at the Board level. I won’t take up your time by reiterating my thoughts on these topics, as I have already spouted off about them at great length. But rather, I would like to give you some perspective on how important it is at all times for us all to keep an open mind, regardless of where we stand on the issue.

Here in Gyldenholt, we regularly host Unbelted Tourney in January. While the event has been going on for decades, there are some little facets of the event that have indeed changed over the years. Take lunch, for instance. In the past, everybody was on his or her own, often packing a sandwich or running off-site to a local Burger King. But one day, a relatively new person who was involved in the local cooking guild said, “Hey, why don’t we make a buy-as-you-go lunch on-site as a fundraiser?” Truthfully, I dismissed the idea immediately, figuring it would never work. Unbelted is already a really busy event with a lot of uncertainty because of weather, little daylight, etc. All I could think about was the fact that we hadn’t done it, people weren’t used to it, people wouldn’t support it, how hard it would be to have to bring out equipment and pre-cook, and all kinds of other negatives. Know what?

I WAS WRONG!

The first time we did it, sure we ran into a couple of little glitches here and there. But it was not just a success, but a really good fundraiser. And guess what – we’ve done it that way ever since. Why? Because it works, it adds to the event, and it is awesome period food!

A few years later, I became Baronial seneschal. I remember the day that Maeve approached me with a lot of enthusiasm saying that we should put together a Baronial Facebook page. I didn’t stop her. I didn’t discourage her. But honestly, I believed it would be a waste of time. Why? Well, we already had ways to communicate. We had relied on our yahoogroups for a while and things seemed to work well. Why in the world would we need to add a Facebook page? Who in the world would start using Facebook? Know what?

I WAS WRONG!

Whereas at the time, we had new forms of social media budding, and it didn’t seem like they would be All the Rage, history has shown that we do our strongest forms of SCA communication nowadays via Facebook. And when my hubby began really pushing subscription to the Baronial Facebook page, I saw our virtual little world grow at an incredible rate.

Not long after becoming Baron, I wanted to see the Barony work together on a community building project. And thus, my obsession with making gonfalons began. After all, I didn’t have to invent anything. I had the design that Baron Bran came up with for House Corvus, and all we would need to do was reproduce what had already been done, right? I showed the concept to one of our newer people, Dafydd. He looked at it, mentally recorded the concept, went home, and worked on some improvements. He then came to me with a different idea. I was not happy. It just didn’t work in my brain. Why change a design that has already been done? I didn’t really think his ideas would necessarily be an improvement. Know what?

I WAS WRONG!

The design he came up with was just brilliant! They look so much better, stand tall and stable, and just look pretty damned cool embellishing not just our barony but the other baronies of the kingdom.

So what is the point of me making these embarrassing confessions? Is it to prove what an idjot I am? No (not that I can’t be an idjot – that just isn’t my point today). The point is, sometimes if we allow ourselves to be so Right in our Rightness, we don’t let in new ideas that may in fact be better. If we become so determined to do it like we did before, we close ourselves off to new discoveries, new ideas, and new technologies. When we become so stubborn and protective of keeping it exactly how it was yesterday, we fail to notice just how much opportunity for growth we have if we would just calm down and realize that the new idea is not a threat to the old way, but an improvement. As scary as it is to consider for some of us (myself included), sometimes change is for the better. Sometimes, change gives us the chance and the opportunity to learn more, become stronger and become more understanding.

So as we move forward into the past, I have a request – please help me to always remember to keep an open mind, and please try your best to do the same.

Whose with me?

The state of Caid

Posted on 2015.01.15 at 12:07
Tags:

Greetings one and all. This post is going to be (hopefully) a bit of a topic bomb. My intent is not to offend anybody (although I wouldn’t be surprised if my clutsy combination of words probably does at some point), but rather to get some wheels turning and to give some people something to think about. OK, here goes…

…I am bored with Caidan events.

There! I said it! It is out, and I cannot take it back!

I am a Laurel. I am a Pelican. I am a Court Baron. I am a landed noble (again). I have all the bling and titles and awards I am ever going to get and then some. So naturally, it is horrible for me to say something disparaging about Caid, right? Well, just the opposite, actually. Rather than ignoring the problem (thus contributing to it), I would must rather say it, get it out there, identify where the problems exist, and then try my darnedest to actually DO something about it.

The fact of the matter is this. When somebody says, “event” in the Kingdom of Caid, I would say around 90% of the time (if not more) what that means is “a double-elimination heavy-weapons tourney in a park”. And let me tell ya – that gets old REALLY fast. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am NOT picking on the fighters. There is nothing wrong with having a tourney at an event. But it seems like this one little event concept is more often than not the only thing we do here in Caid. Frankly, where is the revelry? Where is the bardic? (And no, I don’t mean hokey “All about the Bling” filk. I mean real bardic where people really push period performance and an appreciative audience gives them attention?) Where is the dance? Where is the period feasting? Where are the pas d’armes? Where are tournies that are NOT just standard double-elim? Where is the emphasis on one’s persona? Where are the helmshau’s? Where is the challenge and the sense of something new? Where are the full weekend events? Where are the events that really emphasize dressing UP?! And where are the courts that truly inspire the audience?

SERIOUSLY – royals and nobles for years in this kingdom have made court little more than a forum to remind people to 1. Stay in the shade. 2, Wear sunscreen, and 3. Drink plenty of water. Seriously?! Court is a stage. It is an opportunity to provide theatre. The Sovereign crown of Caid reads, “you rule because they believe”. But when the people in the big chairs come across as if they are in jeans and a t-shirt, I have no reason to believe. (And no, I am not picking on our current royalty. This has been going on for a long time now).

Now that I have bitched up a storm, I would like to offer up some observations and make some recommendation. Caid has sunk into a state of complacency. A lot of the old guard relies upon doing what was done before. After all, it worked last year, so it should work this year, right? And mistakenly, when we repeat things, we often begin to label them as “tradition”. While this may surprise many, I actually DO have a lot of respect for tradition. BUT… not all things that are simply repeated are tradition. To me, a tradition is something that is INTENTIONALLY repeated not only out of respect to its origin, but because people actively WANT it to continue just as it is. For instance, I think of the Leondimus of Thebes event in Calafia – a tradition to honor the spirit of a deceased member of the Barony whose sense of honor served to inspire people then and now. THAT is a good tradition. Gyldenholt Unbelted – an event that focuses solely upon a heavy weapons tourney of fighters who are NOT knights, where the knights make a point to watch the new up and coming fighters who may become tomorrow’s chivalry. THAT is a good tradition. But if the concept labeled as “tradition” isn’t serving a purpose for today’s and tomorrow’s generation, we need to change. Hell, one of my personal pet peeves involves every time I hear the “traditional” wording of the Dolphin read out in court. Every time I hear, “…. From the reign of Prince Gregory and Princess Vivianne”, instead of the parroted reply that the audience is conditioned to say, I rather loudly say, “whom I’ve never met!” (Please GODS! Most of us have never met either individual. LET IT GO ALREADY and allow OTHER things to happen!)

What I would really love for Caid to consider is erasing the Kingdom calendar for a moment. Aside from the events that we MUST have (such as coronation and crown tournies), let’s consider the rest of the events and ask ourselves – are we doing these events for a purpose? Do they still serve to inspire and encourage people to participate and push themselves? Or are we doing them just because we always do them? Blasphemous as it may sound to some, I’ll call the Baronial events into question. Every time I turn around, the Kingdom calendar is blocked by a Baronial anniversary somewhere. OK – seriously – does EVERY anniversary need to be celebrated? Heck, most married couples I know don’t throw an anniversary party every single year. Does every barony need to hold an anniversary event every single year? If so, why? If you do it all the time, what makes it special? Also, what exactly is it that makes them “Baronial anniversaries”? Oh… double-elimination tourney in a park. (Snooooze!)

Here in Gyldenholt, I/we have already really pushed the envelope enough to make some people feel uncomfortable. I would like to think that most are enjoying the changes and shifts. But I’m sure some of the older timers must be shaking their heads. And if they are, while I mean no disrespect, I would have to say, “So be it”. I am more interested in inspiring the newer people with drive, energy, vigor and determination than in pleasing the older folk who just don’t have as much oomph to give anymore. I love and am inspired by the Gyldenholt population’s willingness and determination to try new or different ideas so that we may all have fun together.

My personal gauntlet throw is to the rest of the kingdom.

Please do NOT make the mistake of making event ideas so closed-down as to shut the door on new people, new ideas, new concepts, and new traditions. There is absolutely no incentive for a new person to join our crazy little club if right from the start they get the impression that there is no room for their influence, their ideas, and their vision of “the dream” which is 100% as important and as valid as the dream of someone who has been playing for 40+ years. There is no excuse in the world to force-feed a parroted “of happy memory” down the throats of new people when there is no opportunity for them to create their own new memories. For the future of Caid, and quite possibly for the society as a whole, we need to be open to change. We need to be open to new ideas. Frankly, we need to be willing to allow things to possibly fail so that the newer generation can learn from their mistakes. We need to be willing to always try new things. We need to learn to separate “tradition” from “tired old bad habit”. And we need to understand and recognize the fact that maybe some of our own personal moments of greatness or glory may very well need to just fade into the mist, rather than to force it upon people year after year.

The future of the Kingdom, and the SCA in general, looks pretty bleak if we continue to live in our own personal past. We need to pass the baton and open the doors wide open for change if we intend to survive. For my own part, I don’t know what my SCA-future holds. I won’t always be Baron, nor would I want to be. I have things I want to do – events that really focus on art and clothing and cooking; more themed events; more visually stunning courts, etc. But that depends on other people’s willingness to allow such changes.

My own personal bar for this game is pretty high. And I expect my game to take it up a notch or more. I can tell you that my own future does not have much room for “tourney in a park, standard double-elimination”. And I’m not the only one who feels that way.

Wake up, Caid. It is time, Caid. Let’s bring in some new inspiration!


Yoga in Haiku

Posted on 2015.01.14 at 12:47
“Yoga’s just for girls”
“real athletes” don’t do yoga –
Jocks can’t handle it.

Looks easy enough.
Wait… is she double-jointed?
That ain’t natural!

This pose really sucks!
I’m whimpering like a child
Only one pose in.

The sweat stings my eyes
It’ll get easier, right?
Just wishful thinking

My inner child screams
I hate this! It hurts! I quit!
The class continues

This pose is the worst.
No wait. THIS one is the worst.
Oh heck, they all hurt.

Time passes slowly.
In my head I swear madly.
Even sailors blush!

I could leave early…
Or I could fake my own death.
Oh GODS! Not Ab-Work!

Three powerful words,
That help the sun rise again -
“Final resting pose”

Laid out in corpse pose.
In a pool of my own sweat.
Not feeling sexy.

Somehow, I did it!
I pushed myself through the pain.
Too tired to cheer.

I exit the class.
I didn’t think I’d make it.
Huge smile – I DID IT!

I love you, but go-the-f$&%-away.

Posted on 2015.01.12 at 12:31
I remember the first time I heard Pink’s song, “Leave Me Alone (I’m Lonely)”. A satirical song about a relationship where one person goes back and forth between feeling completely smothered and then needing attention, it was impossible not to notice the (Strong) similarities.

Being what some people define as an outgoing introvert (which still makes no sense in my brain), my behavior is characterized by appearing happy and social in a crowd while on the inside I am often squirming, looking for the nearest exit. For me to get along in life, I need a balance – some heavy social time, some light social time, and some peace and quiet where it is just me. And that last part is usually the part that I see the least of. And yes, it has its negative impact! If I don’t get some Me-Time where I am left alone – COMPLETELY alone – with nobody else around, I turn into the most unpleasant stark-raving-kicking-and-screaming-bitch known to man.

My hubby doesn’t get it. To be perfectly honest, I don’t really get it either. I wish that weren’t the case, but it is. We live in a big house, which means if I just go in another room I should be able to reset, right? Um… no. It just doesn’t work that way. No matter what, there is always distraction from other people. I can feel hear conversations, or the TV, or music. I can physically feel when someone is walking around. I always get this sense that, no matter what, someone is going to be knocking on the door any second, startling me completely. I cannot, cannot, can NOT wind down and reset with people around. And it takes its toll on my mental health and overall feeling of stability.

“Cuttin’ off the phone,
Leave me the f$*% alone.
Tomorrow I’ll be begging you to come home.”

It is bad enough sometimes that I honestly consider leaving the house and checking into a hotel room overnight just so I will be 100% alone. And yes, that concept is still on the table if I don’t get my chance to recharge.

Do any of the rest of you feel this to the extreme that I have described? I’m sure this can be categorized as some sort of social anxiety disorder. But I prefer to think of it simply as needing – NEEDING – a reset that I just don’t seem to be afforded.

Thoughts?

I am Spartacus

Posted on 2015.01.10 at 20:07
Long ago, I became obsessed interested in a particular cooking project - ancient Roman Bread.

Since I was a child, I have always been fascinated by the city of Pompeii. Not only does it appeal to my sense of wonder and intrigue, since it is literally a city of buried treasure, it is a time capsule of both a culture in time, as well as a horrendous human tragedy. One thing that people nowadays tends to forget is that people died in that tragedy. And the volcanoes eruption managed to capture the exact moment of the eruption - from the casts of the bodies to the collapse and destruction of buildings and the smashing of fine vases, but also the food prepared fresh that morning. In at least one bakery, bread had been put into the ovens and the oven doors closed... not to be opened again for 2,000 years. And when the doors were again opened, here is what they discovered...

preserved-loaf-of-bread-from-pompeii

Several loaves of bread have been found in different ovens, completely carbonized by the blast. Yet, we know the shapes they took, how they looked, and the fact that lots of bread was baked on a daily basis. Here, a fresco shows a bakery, with several loaves of bread in the same shape as the carbonized ones...

fresco

Being a pretty good bread baker, I always wanted to know how this type of bread would be made. But what pushed me over the edge was when I watched a video from the British Museum, which (to be perfectly honest), annoyed the crap out of me! In their reconstruction of the Pompeii bread, they made no mention of the type of flour, and relied upon modern bread yeast, which is a by-product of brewing. That's all well and good for bread baking in the 15th and 16th century - but for earlier periods, it just wasn't happening - and particularly not in Italy where the main alcohol was not beer, but wine. So to have leavened bread, what would be used?

Traditionally, in Italian cuisine, sourdough starter, known as "biga" is kept and fed as not only a flavor enhancement, but as a leavening agent. As a preliminary experiment, I have made my own local sourdough starter, and have made simulated ancient bread using the starter. Here's a loaf that I baked and brought with me to the Pompeii exhibit when it toured LA...

baker

But I emphasize the word "simulated" for a few reasons. Besides using a commercial oven, the bread itself is just not the same. Why? Because of the ingredients. Flour, as most of you know, has changed considerably over time. Particularly in the 19th and 20th centuries, industrialized farming had led to very different types of wheat production. Whereas many different types of wheat used to exist in farming and in our diets, we now have very limited varieties - none of which existed in ancient Rome. So what WAS used?

Recently, I became aware of Llamas Fayre flours, a collective in England that produces heirloom varieties of flour. (They can be found online at http://bakerybits.co.uk/). While understandably pricy, I made a purchase of several types of flour. And thus, the project began.

Before making the bread, I needed to create my biga. Over about a ten day period, I created a sourdough biga using spring water, a little bit of cone sugar, and a combination of emmer, einkorn, and spelt flour. The philosophy behind creating a sourdough starter is fairly simple. You are creating a (Semi) controlled culture of yeast from the wild (in the air), as well as the yeast that is naturally present on the flour. So can I claim that my biga is the same thing as an ancient Roman biga? Well, no. The native yeasts are those of Santa Ana, California. While similar in climate, it is not the same. However, the types of yeasts developing on these varieties of the flour might very well be similar to those which developed in ancient times.

One thing I noticed about the starter is that it did not bubble or clump quite like a modern starter. Unlike modern wheat flour, which is very glutonous, these more ancient varieties of flour have less gluton. The flour tends to separate a bit more than a modern flour would, leaving liquid on top, and the flour on the bottom. To kick the starter off, I had to really whisk it a lot, and add some sugar. But after about 10 days, it began to bubble and also take on a very pleasant sour scent. Incidentally, I named my starter Spartacus.

Finally having a starter, it was time to bake! For this experiment, I used the following recipe:

1 1/2 cups starter
1 cup emmer
1 cup einkorn
1 cup spelt
1 tsp kosher salt
1 T olive oil
1 cup water

Mixing all the ingredients, and adding enough spare flour to make a firm ball of dough, here is the dough shortly after it's creation...

Bread dough

After rising overnight...

First rise

If you are used to bread baking, you will notice on thing right off the bat - this type of bread rises differently than modern wheat bread. Because of the reduced gluten, it does not rise up very well. While the biga does make the bread rise, it spreads to the side more than upward. Thus, I theorize, the Romans effectively tied a string around the bread before baking to help "belt" it into place and keep it from spreading too much to the side. And if you look at the pictures in the fresco and the extant bread, you will see a distinct bread "belt" shape.

Here I have (rather sloppily) tied a string to the risen bread dough just before baking...

belt

45 minutes later at 350, here we go...

Baked

The kitchen smelled very different than it normally does with bread baking. It is hard to describe. The scent was earthy, slightly sour, and almost nutty.

Sliced sample

There are few tests as helpful as the taste test. So with a slice of bread, one with butter (cuz BUTTER) and one with olive oil (as that is probably what it would have been eaten with), I tried it. Very pleasantly, the bread had a wonderful texture, moist on the inside, and crusty on both top and bottom on the outside. The flavor is just slightly bitter, nutty, earthy, hearty, and a little bit sour - very pleasant, and unlike any modern bread that I have ever had.

Perhaps I obsess (guilty!) Perhaps I am a geek (yes!) But I absolutely love projects like this. Not only is it an opportunity to learn, it is an opportunity to appreciate our own forefathers, where we came from, what we have in common, and how they lived. Bread was important enough for a baker in ancient Rome to get going every day, rain or shine, even if danger lurked. And as I take another nibble of this modern ancient delicacy, I think back to the baker who died so long ago.

I hope my version would make you proud.

Galavant

Posted on 2015.01.07 at 12:38
OK, so I have a confession to make. Yes, I’m a bit of a purist. Yes, I love my historical authenticity. Yes, when people whine that it is just “too hard” to make historical clothes correctly or to research actual historical recipes when making a feast, I want to throat punch them! But…

… Galavant was just AWESOME!

One of my biggest issues with movies (or TV shows) that depict something historical is when they decide that the original story and context just isn’t interesting enough. Arrogantly, they decide to make it “better”. And thus, we end up with stories like “The Tudors”, which depicts a non-readhead with a twinky build trying to fit in the shoes of the rockstar-turned-obese King Henry VIII. Or “The Borgias”, which showed an… “interesting” depiction of the splendor of Italian Renaissance costuming and the casting of the tall and rail-thin Jeremy Irons playing the part of the short fat bad-Pope, Alexander VI. And don’t EVEN get me going on “Reign”! I swear, whoever got pulled in to do the costumes for that historical (?) series must have been given $100, access to all the local Quinceanera shops, and the “used prom dress” section at Goodwill. And for the love of all things holy, I can’t think of anything worse than Cate Blanchett as Elizabeth (dubbed as Elizabeth ON MARS).

But then, now and again, we have some shows that are NOT actually meant to portray something historical but do a good job nevertheless. I remember when “Ever After” with Drew Barrymore came out. It was a retelling of Cinderella. OK, so right off the bat, I knew it was a fantasy – a FANTASTY – nothing more. But truthfully, a lot of the clothes were really nicely done. Sure, it was a mix of time periods and such, but in my mind’s eye, it was like attending an SCA event. I saw some Spanish renaissance – some really GOOD Spanish renaissance – along with some Italian Renaissance – some really GOOD Italian Renaissance – alongside of some pretty good middle-class working garments. Oh yah, and it was a fun little story that left me feeling good. One of my favorite flicks is Dangerous Beauty. Sure, it had a negative effect in the SCA in that a number of women decided they wanted to wear pretty and simple “courtesan” dresses based on the movie, which were pure fantasy. But like many history flicks, if you looked not at the stars, but at the people in the background, or the supporting characters, you saw some fantastic silhouettes. Oh yah, and it was a really great story that was visually stunning! It was not as spot-on as Zefferelli’s Romeo and Juliet, but I loved it nonetheless.

The thing about Galavant is that it not only embraces its hokeyness, it accentuates it! I don’t want to give away any spoilers for those of you who haven’t watched it, but it has so many dorky and silly little details that the episodes deserve a second watch. To me, it shows respect to historical fiction while also being just pretty damned campy, fun, and hokey as all get-out. A little Mel Brooks. A little Monty Python. And a whole lot of fun geekiness.

I mean, come on – John Stamos as a smarmy knight? GENIUS!

Dumb-ocrats vs. Repug-licans

Posted on 2015.01.06 at 12:33
As soon as I was old enough to vote, I registered as a Democrat. In my naïve view, I saw the two party-system as just two different mindsets. The Republicans were all about less government and less regulation for business, while the Democrats were more about creating programs and services to help people. While I’m all about opportunity, my mindset at that time (and now as well), is that we really DO need to take care of our own – particularly because there are many, many people out there who are physically and/or mentally incapable of doing so.

Fast-forward to today. I have grown and gained a lot of life experience, and the two parties have morphed. And truthfully, I cannot say that I am overly thrilled with either party for a lot of reasons. The Democrats failed to move and strike while the iron was hot in so many ways, and the Republicans have disgracefully just acted as the party-of-no working hard to block every idea our President has had, simply to be obstinate. Both sides share the blame. I do not believe that because a person is in one party or the other that it labels the person as “Good” or “Bad”. There are brilliant and wonderful people in both party, and there are complete asshats. If we are to evaluate someone, it should be on his or her own merits – not because of the company he or she keeps. And that brings me to the subject of this post – Bush.

I’ll be honest, the idea of another “President Bush” really makes me shudder. I was not particularly thrilled with GH Bush, as I saw him as a watered-down and wussier version of Reagan. And I REALLY could not stand GW, whom I believe to be the most misguided, ineffective failures of a President that this country has seen since… since… ever? But does that mean that I should automatically dismiss baby bro, Jeb? My kneejerk says, “the apple can’t fall far from the tree”. But the mature part of me says that isn’t right. When he was governor in Florida when I lived there, I have to say that he actually used his authority to make some smart decisions (such as declaring a state of disaster BEFORE Hurricane Andrew hit), so that help would be waiting right on the state border to come in immediately. (UNLIKE his stupid older brother during Katrina).

I have to be fair.
I have to look at him for his own stance.
I have to defend him against friends and allies who attack him just because of his name and his party.

But then, I read the nail in the coffin. When asked his stance about the national legalization of same-gender marriage, he said that he believes the issue should be decided individually by each state. Excuse me? EXCUSE ME?!!!!!! As white-washed as that might sound to some, he just endorsed unequal protection under the law! In all fifty states, a man can marry a woman. But in Jeb’s mind, same-gender citizens of this country don’t deserve the same protection?

I was willing to go out on a limb to defend you against the legacy of asshattery of the rest of your family and party, Jeb. I really was.

YOU BLEW IT!

People Drunk

Posted on 2014.12.31 at 07:47
Tags:


“Am I anti-social?” I asked my hubby the other night after overthinking a bit too much about the subject. While he assures me that I am not actually anti-social, I cannot help but notice the fact that unlike my hubby or other super-social people, there seems to come a point where if I have been around either too many people at once or exposed to a group of people for too long, I get super twitchy. To me, it feels like there is some sort of internal sensor that determines, “I’m full now” way before other people would be. And I wonder if this is unusual. I refer to this weird phenomenon as being “people drunk”. With alcohol, different people have different tolerance. Some people can have 4 or 5 beers in a row and be perfectly fine, while if you give just one beer to someone with a low tolerance, he might get really drunk.

Yah… that’s me – only not with booze, but with people. And looking back as far as I can, I think I’ve always been that way. What I don’t quite understand is – why.

Whether it be exposure to people, or conversations, or just exposure to overly-average people; I can’t say that I have a really high tolerance. Now, someone with similar interests and geekism? I can gab all day long. But if I am forced to be in conversations that don’t captivate me, I feel my energy reserves just draining. Case in point – let’s travel back in time to college.

Like many starving college students unsure of what fate has in store after graduation, I had a series of roommates over the years. I can think of one in particular who was a perfectly nice guy – yet it took almost nothing for him to work my nerves. Why? Because he was… well… um… oh, I’ll just say it. He was boring. He was normal, and regular, and average in pretty much every way. He was an average student. He had an average understanding of world facts. His sense of humor was pedestrian. Even his occupation was, well, unexciting. Yet, he had to tell me about it – EVERY DAY. I don’t remember if he was working at a gas station, or a restaurant, or what; but suffice it to say that his occupation wasn’t exactly a hotbed of excitement – nor were his powers of storytelling. But every work day, without fail, he would come home and walk into my room to tell me, at painfully great length, about the crazy thing that happened to him that day at work. The problem, however, was that not once – not even ONCE – was it anything even remotely crazy or exciting or interesting. And while I tried to be polite, as the weeks turned into months, one day I just couldn’t take it anymore. I was trying very hard to study, and was stressed out because a test was coming up. Once again, he got home and came running upstairs into my room to say, “Guess what happened to me today?” just like he always did. I didn’t want to be rude. I really didn’t mean to be impolite. But at the same time, I just couldn’t take it any more.

“Honestly,” I said. “Right now, I just really don’t care.” Dejected, he turned around and left. Yes, I felt like a heel. Oh heck, at that moment in time, I WAS a heel. But honestly, I Just Couldn’t Take It Anymore! He was just so damned boring! And no measure of social cue or clue-by-four seemed to ever get through to him. My rudeness got through. But, of course, it also set off a chain of passive-aggressive behavior.

The next day, I was heading home from work when a car swerved out in front of me, and I had to jam on the breaks to avoid hitting it just as it smashed into the car in front. I was late getting home as I had to report what I had seen. I got home and made a general comment to my roommate that I barely avoided being in an accident, only to have him smack me back with, “Really? I don’t care.” So now, not only did I have a test to study for, and my heart was in my mouth from almost getting into an accident, but I now had a grown man acting like a five-year-old because I didn’t listen (yet again) to another boring tale about a guy at his work who didn’t know the difference between leaded and unleaded. That behavior pretty much ended any chance we would ever have of being anything more than acquaintences and/or roommates. And as soon as we moved out of that apartment, I don’t think I ever had another thing to do with him – and I can’t say that I am saddened, truth be told. Sure, he was a nice enough guy. And I’m sure he made a fine husband and/or father to some family somewhere. But… he just isn’t the kind of person that I really wanted to have anything to do with.

Does this make me some sort of a sociophobe?

Over the years, I have learned (somewhat) how to give people subtle cues when I need to make an exit or pull myself away from the conversation when I am feeling my people-tolerance reached. I really, really, really do NOT like to be rude. And I don’t ever go there intentionally as my first choice of action. But sometimes, when I hit that point, I lose control. The best way for me to describe it is feeling like I am drowning – drowning in conversation. I have trouble breathing and begin feeling that Fight or Flight situation coming up if I get too much person or people exposure. Sure, I can always take a Xanax if I know the anxiety is coming up. The point of this post isn’t to ask for help on how to deal with it. It is to ask a more basic question -

Am I alone in this? Do others ever feel like this?


Holiday Reflections

Posted on 2014.12.24 at 12:43
Well here on this Christmas Eve, I am finding myself unusually calm. I haven’t fallen behind. I haven’t snapped at anybody. I haven’t felt pressured or like I am drowning or any of the typical side-effects of an overachiever holiday season.

How… strange.

While we do have company this season, it will be small, manageable, and ultimately – a lot of fun (except for having to work the day before and after, of course).

So in thinking about this holiday season, I can’t really say that there is much of anything that I want. Oh sure, like anybody else, I could come up with a few things here and there that would make me smile to have. But when it comes down to it, I don’t really want or need much of anything – at least nothing that anybody has the power to give.

• I’d like to shed about 15 pounds
• I’d like to have more energy
• I’d like to have new knees to replace the ones I have pretty much destroyed
• I’d like to have much more uninterrupted time to work on All the Artsy Things I want to do
• I’d like to see my hubby find things that inspire him as much as reading does so that he will get up out of his chair more, enjoy doing whatever-it-is, and then geek out enthusiastically telling me all about it.
• I’d like to be able to walk around the house, where I typically spy all-the-things that are broken, damaged, dirty, rickety, etc., and say to The Staff, “There. That thing there. That needs fixing/cleaning/repair/reconditioning/whatever”, and then they will take it off or away to be fixed/glued/repaired/refinished and bring it back looking shiny/sparkly/pretty/and functional!
• I’d like to get a really nice soccer park built locally so that all the kids have somewhere to play that they enjoy – OTHER THAN in the parking lot next to the house where they keep kicking the ball into the yard (which has broken our windows a couple of times)
• I’d like to make all of my family’s various ailments and animosities towards one another just go away. Like it or not, all of you, we are blood relatives and the things that drive us NUTS about one another are the very things we have in common. So suck it up and hug each other already!

So there. There is my entirely selfish all-about-me list. For the rest of you, I wish you freedom from stress, good health, laughter, rest, creativity, accomplishment, and the time to enjoy it all.

Oh NO!!!! The Filk!

Posted on 2014.12.23 at 13:17
This morning I was reading an article in the LA Times written by a Jewish author, talking about the comparison between Christmas and Hannukah, and how there shouldn’t be a comparison. The author, taking a strong stance against having a tree in the house, really doesn’t seem to mind many of the other mergers between the two celebrations. But then he made mention of the fact that he just can’t get away from Christmas carols, while the Jews only have two songs – an annoying one about a top, and an annoying one by Adam Sandler.

Then… from nowhere, I was attacked! Yes, the Filk Monster attacked me once again. And when an attack happens, it happens. So now, for your entertainment value, I present to you a new take on Hannukah (with all due respect to Dead or Alive)…

Well now…it’s holiday season.
And I, hear only Christmas music, babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
All I know is it’s not me
I’m a Jew who wants some fun.
Offer up a Jewish song
Cuz I want some (want some!)

I’m sick of Christmas songs.
(I know most of you, are too)
And I, I want some equal time now, babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
At this happy time of year,
light the candles. Have some fun!
Sing it with me loudly, peeps
HAP-PY HA-NU-KAH!

You spin me right round, baby
right round like a dreidel, baby
Right round round round
You spin me right round, baby
right round like a dreidel, baby
Right round round round

Oy! (Oy! Oy! Oy!) I’m glad to celebrate now babyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy.
I (Oy! Oy! Oy!) invite you here with me to light the menorah!
(yes, to light the menorah!)
Latkes taste so good to me.
Servin’ up some kugel, YUM!
Raise a glass of Manischevitz
Watch out, here I come!

You spin me right round, baby
right round like a dreidel, baby
Right round round round
You spin me right round, baby
right round like a dreidel, baby
Right round round round

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