Turning Over a New Leaf

We threw a house party at our place this Friday.

And by “house” I of course mean apartment.

“House” parties in New York are funny. Always too many people crammed into too little space. They are a bit of a rarity for this very reason, people more often choose to gather or celebrate in bars or other event spaces.

I happen to be a fan of the house party. So the minute our new Polish roommate (on September 1st we lost a roommate to her boyfriend) told us she was going to visit her sister in Texas next weekend, actually the minute she left the room after telling us she was visiting her sister, we said in unison (because we are totally those girls) House Party?!

Friday night we got a 2 handles of vodka, a 24 pack of baby Coronas, 4 cans of lemonade concentrate and other mixers, blew up a dozen yellow balloons (“They’re fun!” said my roommate. “They’re annoying.” I said. “No, FUN.” she insisted. I gave in. “Fine FUN!), and celebrated the last weekend of summer.

Hosting a house party is a big juggling act- between different groups of friends and meeting your roommates invitees. It’s easy to feel like you aren’t really seeing people, just flitting in and out of conversations. It was a little bit of a teaser, a really fun teaser, because a lot of my guests I had not seen since spring.  Welcome back to New York! was a common refrain. Yes I am back in New York. WHY HAVEN’T YOU UPDATED YOUR BLOG? was another.

My dear readers, and I know you’re out there due to your rightful chastising and “Um, I keep checking, like ever day and get my hopes up that maybe this time things will have changed and then nothing” I’ve been a terrible blogger. But it was just a phase. One I’ve gone through before, I know, and one I can’t promise I won’t go through again. But I can promise that the seasons are a’changing and so is my blog. It’s September and Fall starts tomorrow. It’s the season of getting back to work, getting serious after summer fun. I’ve been denying that ever since Labor Day. Yelling at people, “SUMMER IS NOT OVER! I HAVE TIL SEPTEMBER 21ST GODDAMNIT!!” But now it’s time to accept Fall. Fine. I will.

I’m serious people. And to prove my seriousness, I have a plan. That indicates a level of organization I usually avoid like tourists avoid anywhere above 81st Street. Over the next 10 days I will update EVER DAY. I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true. In those 10 days I will catch you up on the summer. Seeing how those ten days and ten posts go, I will decide a blogging schedule every day, every other day, bi-weekly- and stick to it. That is my plan. My September back-to-school plan. Stay tuned. (And feel free to harass me if I fail! But I won’t because my roommate said if I fail she won’t let me watch Sex and the City and she’s the one with a working DVD player.)

What the Muck?

I discovered some confusion concerning my last post.

This picture in particular:

What’s going on? You look like you’re stepping into water! You don’t actually get wet do you?

This picture, dear concerned readers, is a snap shot from the Pirate Show in which I am featured. This show takes place out of doors, as the entire festival does, on a stage that includes a small pond. Which houses a rather large snapping turtle- no joke. The climatic moments of the show include all actors falling/being pushed or thrown into the water. And such a thing means getting soaked, top to toe. The things I do for my art.

Getting completely submerged in a murky, turtle infested pond may seem like a sorry fate- and as Consequence Wailes, I do try to portray it as the WorstScariestMostHorrible Torture Ever. July has been quite a hot and humid month however, much changed from the cold and windy June. When the sun beats down on me, my hat, long pants, and leather corset, a trip into the pond is refreshing at the least.

I was lucky enough to be cast as a pirate. I know this. Pirates have long held a romanticism and captured our imaginations and adventurism. The explosion in popularity from Pirates of The Caribbean has yet to subside. People may not know there where pirates during the Renaissance (there were, they were commonly called “sea dogs”), but they still think I’m cool even if they don’t understand I’m (at least some what) historically accurate as well. I am lucky to walk the plank into a pond every day- it makes me cool in more ways than one.

Others of my cast mates are not so lucky. I walk into slightly murky water every day while others walk into a pit of mud. Not just walk into, submerge themselves. Face plant (not an exaggeration). This is the role of a mud beggar.

As I was not cast as a mud beggar, I have not done the same research on them as I have on pirates. I know not how founded in history they are, though I do know they are a common fixture at Renaissance fairs. They are typically a troupe of beggars turned actors who tell stories around a pit of mud, slowly getting dirtier and dirtier until the whole thing usually ends with essentially mud wrestling and utter chaos. Doesn’t that sound fun to watch? Trust me it’s hilarious.

I can give you an inside scoop: the mud pit they use isn’t just any ordinary mud puddle. Which brings me to the day called Muck Day. On Muck Day the Mud Beggar actors beseech (“beg” if you will) the assistance of their fellow actors to help them create their mud pit. I, hailing from NYC these days, am not afraid of dirt, and so did volunteer my services. There was much sifting of dirt, adding of water, and taking pains to removing plant life from the mud and the task took several hours. Muck Day is the only day people other than Mud Beggars are allowed near the mud.

How were we rewarded for our pains? With cheap beer and a roll in the mud. I don’t imagine you’ve ever stood in front of a huge mud puddle, but let me tell you it is hard to resist. I can’t say I didn’t hesitate before jumping in, but jump I did.

It was fun for an afternoon, but as I later tried scrub the dirt from my body I felt very glad to not have to do such things every day. Huzzah to being a pirate!

I’m a Pirate, Read My Bl-ARGH

I must confess, I haven’t been myself lately.

I’ve been a different wench entirely:

Allow me to introduce you to her. ……………………………………………………………………………

They call me Consequence Wailes. My mam did leave me below the decks of the pirate ship The Albatross, like Moses were left in the rushes of the Nile. My wee babe self was not discovered until the ship were well at sea. There be no turning back, so it were decided my wailing self should be tossed overboard, for there be no place on board ship for a prattling child. Yet no man could do the tossing. All did harbor an inkling deep in their bosoms that they may have done the fathering of me. And so I were not cast down to the briney bottom, but instead have sailed on sea, by the mercy of Poseidon, all my short life.

The crew of The Albatross did call me Consequence, for I were a “consequence” of their philandering. As prattling babes do, having no use for words, I did wail muchly. I myself were a part of the captain’s orders. “Raise the sails! Larboard! Starboard! All hands on deck! Consequence wails!” And so that be the only name I do know, Consequence Wailes.

Indeed, thou shalt remember such a name, for it shall go down in the catacombs of history. For (as thou dost witness above) I, Consequence Wailes,  did walk the plank and did not die. As thou mayst know, this be a task no man, beast, fish, frog nor bird hath e’er done in all the history of the world, yet I, Consequence Wailes, did do it. I did look into the face of death, and I did laugh. HarHarHarHar Death!

Yes, dear readers, this is how I spend my weekend in Bumblefuck. No picnicking in Central Park, no street fairs, no Broadway shows, no clubs on the LES. From 10am-7:30pm Saturday and Sunday, I am Consequence Wailes. She is quite energetic, a bit bumbling, very school-girlish, and I’d like to think, rather hilarious. Generally at her own expense. She was raised by pirates, that explains most things and answers the frequented question: No. I am not a sexy pirate. Consequence is most often called adorable,  even when she tells people she stole her miss-matched earrings from the bodies of two dead men.  So it seems I’m an adorable pirate. Who ever heard of such a thing? Hilarious, no? Hardyharharhar.

• Nothing Beats the Beach

I’ve forsaken blogging for beaching.

Apologies, but can you blame me?

This is the first time I say “I am so glad I’ve left NYC?” If you live there, you know why.

It’s been ferociously hot in our fair city for the past week. Red Cross high alert kind of hot. 100 in the shade kind of hot. Fry an egg on the sidewalk kind of hot. My poor roommates left sweltering in the city finally buckled down and bought AC units kind of hot. Hundreds of miles north it’s a little different. Instead of heat trapping skyscrapers and wall to wall asphalt there is the shade offered by woods and often a lake breeze. It is consistently 10 degrees difference with Bumblefuck the lower end of the thermometer.

I love heat. Heat means sundresses, popsicles, flip-flops, beach hats. BEACH WEATHER! This is what I was wishing for while shivering through the beginning of June. I have celebrated its arrival. I went to the beach every day this week- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (and would have gone today had it not rained.)

The beach is typically a blessed escape from heat, work, the pressures of life, clothing, etc. For me it’s all this and more. It is a return to independence. As I discovered this week, the beach is a bike-able distance from the faire site. The only worthy bike-able destination (so far discovered anyway!) in all of Bumblefuck. Best discovery ever, it is. I can go to the beach whenever I want, stay as long as I want, and not be dependent on anyone but myself and ly legs. I’m not even dependent on the bike, actually, for the beach is not only a bikable distance, but a walkable one. It’s about 2 miles.  Yesterday I went on the perfect run though the temperature was near 90, for my destination was the beach and the idea of cool water immersion kept me pounding the pavement.

Maybe in the future I’ll combine blogging and the beach- that’s what netbooks are for- because I can. The same reason goes for spending as much time á la beach as possible. Because I can.

May you find yourself on the beach this weekend! Because I can’t! For I am a pirate from dawn to dusk Saturday and Sunday and my pirating does not envolve beaching. But more on that anon!

All Play and [No] Work

Opening weekend is this weekend. That’s tomorrow. This is the culmination of my month in Bumblefuck.

So what have I been doing for the past month besides going to the movies and Bank of America? Running around the woods, pretending to be a pirate, climbing trees, falling into ponds, catching frogs, yoga, learning how to curtsy, singing songs, playing games. All these things I am getting paid to do.

This is a typical rehearsal configuration.

Rehearsal is 5 days a week, we have Sunday and Monday off which is quite confusing to one’s internal clock, and begins at 9:30 AM. So my day looks like this:

8AM My alarm goes off. Somewhere between 8 and 8:30 I get out of bed- this varies by level of tiredness, if the sun is shining, if I shower.

9AMish Cook breakfast. The actor’s kitchen here is filled with supplies my sparse kitchenette in NYC only dreams of. Pots and pans abound and I love having time to cook breakfast.

9:30AM Rehearsal begins. First a half-hour warm-up of stretching, vocal exercising, and energizing movement.

10AM Improv exercises. Sometimes in character, sometimes out. This is a lot of OMG I’m traveling through Antarctica and I’ve discovered bananas growing! Or The way you tie knots gives my “situational Chlamydia!” Or I’ve brought you to my basement for the worst date ever! Or Grampa, stop eating pizza out of the park garbage! This is a sampling of scenes I have done over the past month. It’s a lot of creating a scene with another person with whatever you throw each other. Terrifying if you’ve never done it, super fun if you do it everyday.

11:30AM Character development. This is building a character from the simple casting you were given. I’ve created my “Piratess” character so she has history, needs, flaws, virtues, and relationships with other characters. It’s very different than having a script to lead you to your character, and it’s been a lot of fun and also a little scary. My imagination has never been so exercised in my adult life.

1PM Lunch. This sometimes includes working out for 40-50 minutes before eating. I can now do 20 push ups and run 2 miles fairly easily.

2:30PM Period styles. This is all learning language, history, and behavior of 1585. Verb conjugation: I run, Thou/You runest, He/She runeth. The whole Thou (familiar) vs. You (formal) situation is a bit of a beast. Women are considered weaker vessels. Marriages aren’t for love. Falling into water was likely to kill you. Bathing was very infrequent. Status was a huge thing, and people of lower station showed major deference to higher stations. That sort of thing.

4-7M Scenerio Rehearsal. These are little plays that happen through out the course of the day. I have a Pirate Show in which I get pushed in a frog pond and am later forced to walk the plank. My other show is Pirate Revels which is the singing of sea shanties and pirate-type songs. Other than these shows, the rest of the performance day is devoted to encounters on the street, interactive theater, which I believe I have a handle on but I won’t really know until we have an audience tomorrow! That’s the scary part!

And that is more or less what an average rehearsal day for a renaissance faire is like. After we open I will generally only have rehearsals on Fridays. That means my week looks like: rehearsal Friday, performance from 10-7 Saturday and Sunday, and then Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday off. (Go ahead, hate me, I would too.) That’s a lot of free time in Bumblefuck. What do you think I should spend it doing (besides blogging, of course)?

New York Pizza

New York is famous for its pizza. I imagine you knew that, but if not just ask wikipedia. It’s a widely accepted fact that one can’t get bad pizza in the city, that any pizza you get here is at least decent compared with the rest of the country. At best oh-my-god amazing.  I stopped eating at fast food chains like Burger King and McDonald’s after reading Fast Food Nation my junior year of high school (Subway is the one exception to that rule and I only started eating there this year). Therefore pizza is generally the cheapest food option I can find in expensive-as-hell city. Therefore I must confess I often eat pizza once a week. Further confession: it’s not entirely uncommon that I will find myself making pizza my meal more than once a week. It’s so cheap and tasty! It’s available everywhere! It’s hard to resist, especially in cold weather (when hot food just feels good)!

Is this frequency really a problem? No not really. I only ever buy one slice, often plain cheese (for a dollar) or loaded up with veggies (if I’m splurging). Compared to that rest of  the country where the pizza sucks, I have pretty great eating habits. This has been emphasized in Bumblefuck where I share a kitchen with 30 other people, several of whom have exclaimed at my healthy habits. I may be on the healthier side of the spectrum, but I am by no means to the extreme. I made peanut butter chocolate cookies tonight, in fact.  Here in Bumblefuck, without a restaurant or bakery for miles, I’ve been cooking a lot more than usual. Which is lovely. So far I’ve only perfected things I’ve made before. But with opening this weekend (ahh!!) comes much less time devoted to rehearsal. I hope to expand my culinary vocabulary.

It’s much harder to motivate oneself to cook in NYC. Restaurants abound, bakeries tempt you on walks home, as mentioned pizza is everywhere, and popsicles are almost hard to avoid on hot days. It certainly helps if you’re broke though. Eating out is expensive. It helps even more if you can make a social event out of cooking. Which is exactly what me and my roommates started doing a month or so before I left.

It all started one day when I came home with a ball of fresh mozzarella and a packet of yeast and declared we were making pizza that night. It’s taken some perfecting, some less than great uses of whole wheat flour, debate over fresh basil or canned pesto. Trial and error is our friend because you really can’t go that wrong with garlic, veggies, and cheese.

feta, basil, red pepper, artichoke hearts, olives
mozzarella, olive, onion, sun dried tomato

Above is all the pizza you get out of one yeast packet. It’s enough for three girls and maybe a boyfriend to stuff themselves at dinner and still have left overs for much of the week. And it’s pretty damn healthy. And aesthetically pleasing.

I had pizza at a shop in Bumblefuck yesterday. My options were cheese, pepperoni, or chicken wing (yes, chicken wing pizza). I grumbled at the lack of veggies, but settled on cheese (this doesn’t mean I’m a vegetarian). My low expectations were met. I’d like to see anyone try to live in NYC and not become a pizza snob. Until I return I shall avoid pizzerias and happily look forward to the next pie I craft with my bare hands.

• Some Serious Bank

I decided I would someday live in New York City when I visited over spring break my junior year of college. I don’t vividly recall what museums I visited or what shows I saw (I’m pretty sure I saw The Apple Tree with Kristen Chenoweth). I do vividly remember walking down Park Avenue and happening upon a Bank of America. I was sick and tired of the New England bank I signed up with because they harassed me first day of freshman orientation. I decided right then and there, standing on a New York City sidewalk that some day I would live in NYC, so I might as well open a bank account right than and there. And so I did. Some people spend their spring breaks opening alcoholic beverages. I spent mine opening bank accounts.

Bank of America. America’s bank. One would expect it to be every where across the country of America. That’s the appeal, that’s why I devoted precious moments of my spring break to said establishment, so I would never again have to pay an ATM fee, never again be unable to deposit a check. That’s the way it has been these past 3 years. And then I moved to Bumblefuck.

The nearest Bank of America is several towns away, a half-hour-plus road trip. Checks were piling up, after weeks of working here and from promotions which always send checks weeks after the event (the one flaw in working them) and the sum of my bank account was concerningly small. So I was overjoyed when on Friday night  I heard a plan afoot to visit B of A. This is how I do things now. I seek out other people’s plans and hope to be invited along and if that doesn’t work, invite myself. This is the way in Bumblefuck of the car-less (and I’m doing my very best to refrain from bitching about it ad nauseum).

I manage to hitch a ride with the actors playing the Gallant Beggar and the Street Urchin. Who will hence forth be referred to as such. Together GB, SU, and I sally forth, the red and blue emblem of Bank of America . We narrowly miss getting lost, running out of gas, getting chased by bandits, getting mauled by bears, starving to death and deciding which one will die so the other can eat him. The sun is setting when we finally, against all odds, reach our destination.

The bank is closed. NO! But no fear, there must be an ATM near! Right? Right. There is one and one only and it is a drive-thru one. How very American of you  B of A, thank you for contributing to American obesity! Thank you also for discouraging carpools, only the driver can use this ATM. So what do we do? Go home with our tails and undeposited checks between our legs? NO! We stop the car in front of the ATM and run out one at a time to deposit our checks/get attacked by mosquitoes (no jesting about that attack). A car or two lines up in back of us, probably wondering what the hell we are doing, out of the car, contorting our body at a weird angle so that we may successfully use the ATM specially built for Car People. But this isn’t NYC, the cars waiting do not honk, scream obscenities, or curse us for wasting their time. They wait patiently, with amused expressions on their faces (I’d like to think).

Success. I have a receipt in my hand and money in the bank and it’s never felt so good. It’s later than any one realized, past 9pm (the sun sets really late here, it’s awesome), and we are all starving (we just couldn’t decide who to cannibalize) so we decide to get dinner. At a drive-in diner. Dinner at the cutest diner ever, which is most accommodating to non-Car People. It’s been around since the 50’s and has vintage car nights on Saturdays. Too bad it’s Friday. But even without the backdrop of groovy cars, this diner is awesome. I get a burger complete with lettuce, tomato, onions, and pickles (I like the works); fries that outshine McDonald’s; and a pumpkin milkshake (I go nuts over pumpkin ice cream, so this was beyond exciting) all for $6.03. You’re lucky to fine ONE of these 3 for $6.03 in NYC and the quality could be dicey. Pumpkin milkshake, you just made the exodus to the bank so completely worth it. In fact, I want to go to the bank every Friday night!

Their closing up the restaurant while we’re eating our meal. 10pm on a Friday night, really Bumblefuck? We meander outside eating our ice cream. GB has two scoops of a peanut butter cup and cake batter combination and SU has a “small” (small is huge here!) chocolate brownie. This is Maine ice cream that’s some how made it down to New York. Maine ice cream is famous for being incredibly high quality, delicious, and not available outside of Maine, so me and my mouth are feeling very lucky with the situation.

The three of us are drawn to music we hear from across the parking lot. Walking closer we discover Lakeview Lanes, a bowling alley that appears to have been around almost as long as the diner. It is clearly the place to be Friday night in Bumblefuck. It’s hoping at 10pm.  In front of the bowling alley is a band covering “She’s a Brick House”  in front of the band, we see figures dancing. Awesome! We walk closer and the situation comes into full light. The dancers are all middle aged couples in classic JCPenny garb. Capris, pastel sleeveless tank tops, sandals with socks, polo shirts, scrunchies (!)- all manor of clothing that when you see it in NYC you know you’re looking at a tourist. They’re busting out to this music and it’s quite a sight to wallflower. You have one couple grinding, which is rather car accident-like to behold (you can’t look away even though it is traumatizing) and a gray-hair older man busts out in a solitary dance that makes you fear for a second that he’s having a seizure. Everyone looks like they’re having so much fun, and that’s what makes me stop judging and smile.

The song ends and the band leader announces (the name of the band which, I am so sad to sad, I forgot and) that they have to stop playing due to a sound ordinance. Aww. GB, SU, and I decide against bowling- Saturday we have rehearsal at 9:30am. We journey home- money in our bank accounts, milkshakes in our bellies, and visions of old people dancing in our heads.

I just wrote a whole 1000+ words about a trip to the bank. This is what happens when I leave NYC.