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Step One:  Assessment:

Self:  Aware of a lot of responsibility, slightly ill, feeling a bit uncertain in a vague way.

Son: Middling sick for a couple of weeks, ailments of un-understood origin, tired, a bit lonely looking.

Pop Tarts: Cinnamon sugar, Special Edition Chocolate Strawberry, Cherry, Special Edition Wild Berry.

Step Two:  Preparation:

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Cube the yummy parts of three pop tarts and warm in pan with 2 Tbs of melted butter.  Place in ramekin (thanks Catie – best garage sale purchase ever).

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Cover with two triangles of dough from the Pillsbury Tube of Terror for Crescent  Rolls.  Alas, I know this only because I tried to do a top and bottom and that didn’t work … so maybe just one will.  Bake according to package instructions, except it didn’t quite work so I cooked it longer and it isn’t like this is about to become a holiday tradition or anything so … cook it.

Finish:

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Spread with cream cheese and sprinkle with holiday sugar of undeterminable age.  The pop tart chunks finish about the way barely cooked cookie or brownie dough taste / feel.  So that part was kind of awesome for how stale the pop tarts were.

The best part?  Trying to entertain the kiddo by making pop tart casserole, then sitting down to a 7 hour mythbusters marathon.

So.  Peter Capaldi.

Gotta say, I like him so far.

 

(grateful to the fine folks at BBC for putting this together)

 

Now, I was never Matt Smith’s biggest fan, but he had moments of grace at enough intervals that he wasn’t a disappointment. He was just never going to be my Doctor (Baker & Tennant if you want to know).  I miss Rory still, and I hope that I see River again some day, but when Matt Smith said he was leaving I didn’t weep.  I think his exit was poorly done, but I’m not sure it could be helped after a 50th episode that clearly took a lot of time and craft.

I hated Clara last season, such a waste of a companion, but she’s growing on me this year.  In part I think it is because of the relationship with Pink, but in part because her role in the Doctor’s life is played out as a job as much as like a giddy, grand adventure.  She isn’t a typical companion, and she’s finally acting like someone with a special role.  Not the Impossible Girl – whispy, ethereal and ultimately just drifting around him.  Instead she is the girl under the bed – she’ll put him bolt upright, but he knows enough to lay down when she says.

So, the minimalist magician.  The introduction was … fine …. it typically has such a burden to Proof of Concept that you can’t do much more than march the new Doctor through the transition, the meeting of people, and the choosing of clothing.  The first interaction with the Dalek (we couldn’t wait … a month?) was also … fine … better than the rainbow Dalek for sure.  Still, the combination of blunt and hamfisted is kind of charming to start out with, and more importantly it gives him somewhere to go.  Matt Smith’s Doctor was flat footed and flirty with dashes of really old from time to time.  Tennant was always tinged with joy but had no problem as The Oncoming Storm.  I think Capaldi has the chance to start rough and smooth out over time – and as equal a chance to harden, and I like that my good guy is kind of a jerk right now.

I like him.  He can stay.

 

 

Jeff & I went to DragonCon again this year.  I mentioned last week, that we are only capable as going as who we are now, today, and we are both emotionally and physically tired from the changes that have happened in our house in the last month.

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It is still huge.  57,000 people registered this year, and doing single day sales on Saturday and Sunday.  Although  I didn’t seem many Saturday tags there were a lot of Sunday only folks.

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Saturday at the Hyatt in the morning (pre-parade) and the Marriott at 1:30 on Saturday.  Jeff & I had both been looking forward to the parade all year, but the staging call time and me liking total control over where I parked left him a bit …

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Some people were so stunningly beautiful and creative.  It is inspirational to be around people so deeply committed to being ready for weekends like these.  There is also a moment where I wonder about my Valid Card and making sure that I have it with me.  Jeff asked today if I was disappointed that nobody wanted to take OUR picture.  I said that sometimes I am, but that I believe that people like these two ladies should totally pull focus.

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We have fun thinking about costumes and I’m ok with being limited by my abilities.  I spend the time I choose to, and I end up with what we have.

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We look like this.

For panels and celebrity stuff we had a nice balance.  Jeff liked the puppetry stuff again this year, and we loved the Sunday morning science fair.  We learned the basic timeline for designing board games, and checked out the game room.

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We got pictures taken with Sir Patrick Stewart and some power Rangers.  I got a selfie taken with Vincent.  He was busy hugging me in apology for assuming Jeff wanted his picture (he didn’t).

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Last year there was some sexist ass-hattery that I didn’t encounter this year, and every volunteer that was staffing was stunning.

We don’t have to choose right now, which is good because we’re tired.  Maybe go in for the parade next year, but just to watch.  A day pass on Sunday.  Certainly a much larger awareness of who will be there.  It was good, it has been a good weekend – but like I suspected – I’m glad it is now a memory.

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I’ve learned that having kids who are both capable AND on the same side as you are is something that comes and goes.  Before I had kids I thought that the Terrible Twos and Teenagers were tricky but that the lengths in between were, on average, calm.  Now, I sense that is an optimistic and naive version.  It is clear when looking at LIFE that stretches of 12 years in generally good spirits was just not … not thinking.

This weekend my corner of the internet has been filled with variations on two themes: (1) the new Doctor episode and accompanying spinning and wringing of hands, and (2) oh SHIT DragonCon is in a week and the costumes aren’t done.  My mind has been chattering about both, and this morning was slated for some hard core costume work.

When Jeff & I went last year it was a brand new adventure, with so much to see and so much to think about.  It is true this year as well, but there is a lot to consider when moving with a kid through huge crowds and a fair number of mainly naked folks of all body types.  There are questions.

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We have spent the year talking about costumes.  We had some big plans which we shrunk down to a reasonable level.  We made compromises.  We imagined with reckless abandon.  Even now, with only 5 days to go we are negotiating bits and pieces of each costume based on skill, time, and dollars.  I painted his pokemon hat and shoes, he made bloody bandages for me.  We killed hours in the car wondering about things.  We filled silent spaces with discussions of cannon and who and why and how.

The second year will be different.  He’ll be bigger, John Barrowman won’t be there, I won’t have a day on my own, there will be less driving because we’re staying with family in ATL.  There are fewer panels that I really want to try and make, and I understand just how long the lines can be for other things.  It will be different.

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None of that really matters though.  Last year when we decided right away that we wanted to come back we were different people.  It won’t be last year with him being taller.  It will, and can only be, he and I right now.  We’re tired, we’re trying to negotiate new jobs and new schools, and new rules, and a different pace than we’ve been at for the last couple of years.  We’re fragile and hopeful all at the same time.  We both are fast with the F*ck It flag and quick to repent when the flag flies early.  We’re excited about it, but happy to have had some time at home this weekend.

We’re ready for this and ready for it to be a memory too.

And if nothing else, there is this.

I NAILED the fucking hat.

My kid at Chuck E Cheese having a great time at his birthday.  Also TICKETS!!!!!!

My kid at Chuck E Cheese having a great time at his birthday. Also TICKETS!!!!!!

Today we had my son’s sixth birthday party.  As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, we are passing through “important moments” at a rate of about one every three days for a couple of weeks here.  So this time I engaged the help of the fine folks at Chuck E Cheese, giving my son the party he had been hoping for since June 2013 when his BFF Logan had a party at CEC.

I may never host a party again.  The service and experience was THAT spot on.

Registration was simple online, they called to confirm a couple of days ahead of time, they met us at the door with a party planner and some tokens, and BOOM. Party.  Our party had friends of mine and their kids, it had friends from daycare and last year’s school.  A wide group of folks for a mere 6 years but at Chuck E Cheese it was easier because they didn’t need to know each other, they just needed to be ok with blinking lights and “the college bar at 10p on a Thursday” noise levels.  My husband who doesn’t like that noise level brought ear plugs in case it was too loud for him or anybody else, and I think some of us were noise tired after but it was too loud.

So we all zoomed around and played games for an hour, I’m lucky that my son was able to be intuitive enough to make sure to spend some time in the same zoom pattern as most of his friends.  We all won tickets.  We ate adequate pizza and my son had a round in the ticket thing which looked like X tickets, was counted as X+Happy tickets, and rounded up to X+GoshILoveYa tickets.

The checkout happened at the end, when I paid per child head, then the extra food & drinks I had for adults.  When most of the adults had gotten their own drinks CEC was happy to not charge me for the 11 that I didn’t use.  I had spontaneously added five kids as the party got really rocking and it was no problem at all.  They had candles (mine were on the window sill) and fire (I had bought a lighter in case), they used our cake but the other parties had used theirs (which also looked pretty yummy).

So:  None of my son’s friends felt left out (I hope), I didn’t have to freak out and could have even skipped making the cake (but I like that part), it was $100 cheaper than any other hosted-at-another-place party I have ever done, and there was something for the adults to do.

Win.  That simple.  Win.

If the point of birthday parties is to have fun, then this works.

(oh, and it looks like you might be able to skip the party hostess (I wouldn’t) and just have everybody meet there – and good on you if that is what you want to do).

The one downside.  We took our tickets and a little extra money and got an awesome ticket prize…. which seem to not work.  Which is too bad because my son SUPER cut his finger on trying to get it open.

Otherwise.  Awesome.  Would do it again in a heart beat.

I am a fan of Chris Colfer as an actor on Glee, and I’m curious about him as an author, and as actor in other shows (he is amazing in the staged read of 8):

He has written a couple of best selling YA novels.  The first one I read, the second one I listened to part of, they are interesting and fun.  Not my usual genre but pleasant.  So now that he is on a book tour for the third I checked to see if we would line up anywhere, and low and behold we did.  I ordered two books, got two tickets, and planned to go stand in front of him (as hundreds were doing every day) for eight seconds.

Each person *could* have six items to sign.  There are photographs into the 250 person range with me overhearing one employee saying there were 400 tickets distributed.

Two things start to happen in tandem to each other.

The first is that I became acutely aware of him as a person, and I cannot imagine spending three weeks going around the country doing what he is currently doing.  Even with staff to help (Neil Gaiman has written interesting things about being the guy in the center of a book tour), being excited about the potential to promote the book, and being genuinely interested in the people who read it … I just.  Couldn’t.  I wanted to bring a bottle of water, or diet pepsi, or an apple.  Something to acknowledge his humanity in this.  I wonder about the surreal nature of being a 24 year old guy who wins awards, is a New York Times bestselling author, who sings like a dream and has gotten very very fine in the last couple of years and looking up and smiling …

…while the second thing is happening.

The girl who I overhear saying that she has worked for an hour a night for 30 nights on what she wants to give him.  I see her later, after she met him for 8 seconds sobbing Beatlemania style outside the book store.

I see the retiree who is hopping up and down.

I see the woman in front of me who is older than I am, has two Glee related tattoos that I can see, and has a special made phone cover which is a picture of her and Darren Criss.  I hear her say to a stranger / new friend that Darren has seen her at so many events that he recognizes her.

I know there are many shades of intensity in any fandom, and that a lot of them are healthy (or mainly healthy most of the time at least).  Hell, I’ve chosen to drive for an hour each way to spend 8 seconds with him.  I’ve made special shirts for other things.  Fuck – I’m going to Dragon*Con in costume (AGAIN).

Still, I think about some things Glee cast members (especially Chris & Darren) have said in regards to the actions of the fictional characters they play.  I think about people who find solace in fandom (me, sometimes) and those who drift over to the deep end of fandom where their own life drifts away on a cloud of gathering information about someone else.

I love seeing people excited about stuff, I know that my geek shows up in strange ways, I know that adults are not allowed much in the way of giddy reaction to anything, and more than anything I kind of hope that (1) everybody at that book signing was ok by the end of it, and (2) that Chris enjoys his work because I doubt that he predicted that it would be like this.

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Things that are true:

1.  Two weeks into Epic Summer Roadtrip.  Great time, wonderful visits, working on dealing with homesickness.

2.  Went to a book signing on Thursday (Chris Colfer for TLOS3) and it was interesting, good , strange, fast, and has me debating all kinds of meta stuff in my head which I would talk about except that it is the shape of a circle and I cannot find the entry point.

3.  Kiddo is McDs binging right now and WOW.

4.  The very first place I wanted to go when I had a minute to myself was the garden store that I love so much, but I knew I wanted to go there because my first thought was “I need to go to church”.  It is about reverence and peace.

5.  I thought my robot necklace was lost but now it is found.

6.  AirBnB is a GREAT way to (1) save money, (2) meet cool people, (3) actually experience a town when you travel.  Do it.  It isn’t mutually scary – only scary on your side and it will work out fine.

7.  I like borrowing dogs.

8.  I like this, but it is hard and I am a bit tired.

My son and I are collapsed at the Quality Inn Downtown Baltimore (new drapes and bathroom, surprisingly lovely) at the end of day two of the Summer of 2014 Adventure.  We are utterly exhausted.  He is awake (still), and I am barely so -but it is worth talking about.

I made a mistake by not upgrading my phone to a talking GPS / maps function.  I regret that.  So far, that is pretty much the only thing I regret.

The first night we stayed in Raleigh, NC at a home I booked through airbnb.  It is not natural for me to pull into a residential neighborhood walk up to a house I’ve never seen before, introduce myself to strangers, and spend the night.  Still, it worked out well, they were nice, the room was completely what we needed (it had a bed that was comfortable) and it allowed us to redirect our resources for stuff we wanted to.

We were directed to a restaurant where we ate, and then more importantly to Pullen Park which we did not see *much* of but it was AMAZING.  We would not have known to do that without our hosts.  At this point Jeff would likely point out that I swear – a LOT – when I am driving in unfamiliar cities.

We got up in the morning (they made blueberry pancakes, ham, cereal, coffee, and juice) and hit the road early.  We knocked out the first 150 miles like BOSSES.  Then we hit some construction, but we were still rocking, then we got near Quantico  and

 

we saw the peak first, then the signage and in 1.5 miles went from “What is that?” to “Let’s go”.  My dad is a Korean war vet and I wanted to get him a quick gift but we walked into the atrium (it is free) and it was breathtaking.  We gaped, and I got teary, and then we hit the store and tried not buy ALL OF IT.

So back in the car, drive around /through Washington DC (which I will be happy to NEVER do again), drove the lovely parkway between DC and Baltimore and then got to the National Aquarium which Baddest Mother Ever had pointed me towards.

About halfway through I remembered the museum class I took as an undergraduate and realized how we are in a golden age of museum pieces right now.  Both the Marine Corps museum and the National Aquarium are clearly designed with specific amazing goals in mind.  It is a golden age to be sure.

Then, to dinner, a water taxi, and around to the hotel.

I must sleep, as much as I am genuinely and surprisingly sad to leave Baltimore we have family to catch up to for the rest of the week.

 

 

Today after a lunch with good friends I broke open a fresh, clean excel spreadsheet and got to work.

Three weeks of travel, sleeping in 10 different places, covering 14 states.  wow.  I just needed to confirm the state count.  Yep, 14.  Staying with family, with AirBnB participants, in modern hotels, and the all mighty concrete wigwams.

Jeff & I have talked about parts of it for months now, but one of the magic parts of parenthood is the legwork that happens when nobody is watching.  Because this trip is happening at a time where my schedule is more open I have time, but not money.  When the work schedule is full it is money, but no time.

Every woman I know (and I just haven’t been asking the men) is stretching for the elusive concept of a chunk of summer sun without the to-do list running in the back of their mind.  The idea of sitting on a beach, or in the mountains, or on the highway with the music, or the book, or simply the breeze in their hair.

I think about consecutive days without kids his own age.  I think about how to break up the drives so that neither of us is too miserable (see also – the 14th state and the 10th sleeping location added TODAY).  Where can we stop.  Will he ever see a vegetable again.  Where are the dealerships that fix my funky little car?  Where does my IPass work, and where will I have to pay the tolls in cash?

I think about my friend who took a mountain vacation years ago where they even cooked for her, and someday (when I return to money but no time) I’d like to try that on for size.

Over and over this summer I realize how the summers that I knew as a child aren’t available anymore.   My mom laughed today about how they picked a spot and then found a Holiday Inn, and from what  I remember that was just exactly right.

I hope you’re having a good summer.  If you’re at home, rent great movies.  If you are going on vacation, I hope the spot you pick suits you.  It is summer – grab a popsicle and let the sun warm your face and your heart.

 

Drum Corps International in conjunction with Fathom Events shows two big drum corps shows at theaters across the United States.  One at the beginning of the season (tonight) and one at the end (August).  Happily, here in Georgia where the only live show is in Atlanta at the end of July, my local theater broadcasts the shows.

I’ve been watching DCI for about 25 years now, it is part of how I know it is summer.  Drum corps is the one aspect of my college years that I genuinely believe would have been affected by staying at my first college – because I would have become a strong enough horn player to audition.  It is also the only thing I feel like I might have missed out on a little bit because I needed more skill and more bravery in those moments.

ANYWAY.  I love the stuff, not in a mournful way, but in a way that has me typing faster than I usually do and the show ended an hour ago – I JUST WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

Each corps has a 15 minute opportunity to play their guts out, and with it being the first show of the season there are still kinks to work out for a lot of the corps.  To be clear – the members have worked their ever-loving’ ASSES off and they are as strong, as tan, and as in shape as many of them will ever be (and for a bunch of college students that is saying something).  They are doing a great job.

And now (as I open up the notes I took during the broadcast) some thoughts of mine.

Cavilers – the corps of my heart.  The corps of my neighborhood so to speak because they are out of Rosemont, IL.  I love these guys, I really really do.  If you have a chance to see a DCI show they are playing it – pay for best ticket you can simply to see 15 seconds of marimba work.  It is totally worth it.

Madison Scouts – It was a great show, and the most distracting thing came from the camera work.  I think by about halfway through the small ensemble highlight pieces the booth realized really couldn’t shoot men in white uniforms in the majestic upward angle.  With the camera guy kneeling and filming towards the sky … because of … well …. really clear silhouettes.

The theatre show handles the corps change overs by talking to the directors and staff who spend the year putting the show together.  So when the director of the Boston Crusaders said the show was called Animal Farm and then said it was NOT based on the book, but told us about the windmills, the piece that was written for the show called Boxer, and the drill team wearing animal masks … someone needs to rewrite the line that says it is NOT about the book.  The announcer and color guy didn’t like this show but I LOVED IT.

The Cadets.  The announcer and color guy “had chills”.  I was so angry I was desperate for it to end.  The orator, the props, the recorded speeches.  These are the kids that my heart aches for.  They are spending money and time and energy (especially the orator guy who is GREAT) and the staff of the corps gave them an absolute agony to work with.  They do – however – do an admirable job (there is some silk purse / sow’s ear statement but I’m already NOT talking about Animal Farm).

Realized I missed taking notes on Phantom Regiment – they did a great job like always.

Carolina Crown, the defending champions, the most character building uniforms, there are trampolines for pete’s sake.  This is the second time I saw their show and I will say that I like it 1000% better than the first time but the trampoline thing really bothers me.  I had started to think about props and what I was going to say about them.

It started with “I’ve never met a large scale drum corps prop I liked…”

Then the Bluecoats played a show called Tilt.  Absolutely fucking stunning.  Prop filled.  I am corrected.

Cavilers are my heart.

Carolina Crown is defending.

For this year – you’ll hear me yelling BLUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUE!

Go see some DCI if you have the chance.