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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.

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.

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.

I had a near miss with the photographs of the first 5 years of my son’s life the other day.

I’m still mulling over what that means for what I do with those photographs next. There are about 5,000 of them (obviously, it is about all of my life in those years, but the majority involve him) and some of them are complete crap – but some are perfect.

I didn’t cull them as I took them, I never edited them (because I’m 40 and I missed being a photo-editing-software-knower-hower by about 3.5 years from what I can tell), so they are the digital equivalent of the boxes of print photos I have. A pile without a plan.

I think sometimes about a fire, and losing my printed pictures.
I thought, for a long time, about the passage of time and VHS tapes because that is where the last sounds of my first husband’s voice lived.
I think about software upgrades that build a wall I don’t understand between me and the picture of Jeff with a soccer ball and his eyes glowing in Golden Hour light.

I am both more and less sentimental than I have been at other points in my life. John’s wallet still has a $20 in it after all these years but I only kept one piece of Jeff’s baby clothing.

Pictures though. Pictures are what hold my memory together. They shine so brightly, and highlight days so long gone that sometimes I’m afraid to look at them.

I had a close call with 5 years of digital pictures and right now I just know that I want to do more – but I don’t know what more really looks like.

I think that there are entire years where my mom was never in a picture. I’m running around and grinning. Dad is looking at the photographer with love in his eyes, coffee in his stomach and smoke in his lungs. The Sisters are sitting & standing on the same side of a table each with A Look on their faces ranging from What? to WHAT!!!! My mom is there, every time – she has the best camera, the best skills, and even the darkroom for a time.

This weekend was one of those weekends where you gather around the old pictures and talk about who you recognize, and what year it was taken, and what story went with why she had a paper bag decorated as a chicken on her head … again.

I thought a few times about the Mom Stays in The Picture article that came out 18 months ago. About the pictures (assuming anyone could get them off the drives and phone) that are available of me.

A lot of them are taken from the length of my arm. I’m in close quarters with people I love. I have 14 chins all eclipsed by the pores on my nose – but I’m getting kissed by someone. The awesome spot we are at is hinted at over my shoulder. My hair looks great so I took a picture.

I think selfie became the name because it is a less formal version of self-portrait, but it has been used sometimes in a way that implies that it is silly and vain. There is a huge gap between documenting your existence and being vain. It is all all so fleeting and fast, my face is changing and won’t ever go back, people around me are changing and I don’t want to forget how beautiful they are in that light on that day. Sometimes I’m behind the camera, but I love a good selfie. Yours or mine. Snap on.

(I will be talking specifically about Welcome To Night Vale, but I think it applies when you’re the only one around you that loves a Thing – no matter what that thing is).

I love a Thing. A podcast called Welcome To Night Vale, which is absurd and funny and touching. Cecil Baldwin, the primary voice on the show, gives Benedict Cumberbatch a run for his money just on the pure velvet of his voice.**

I am the only local person I know who loves WTNV, and I only tangentially know one other person who does. Hell, I can’t even get the people around me to give it a try.

The fact that I am goofball, geek master, RABID about this show and I don’t know anybody else who listens is – isolating.

The beauty of the internet is that in every town there can be one person that loves a Thing and collectively the Thing can be supported and can thrive. The internet provides all of these individuals a place to talk the Thing and how amazing it is. Kudos to the internet that it also happens where age, gender, expense of one’s shoes can all be glossed over for the love of The Thing.

The beauty of WTNV is that they were smart enough to take that shit on the ROAD.

I went by myself because this isn’t the kind of thing you can bring a virgin to; you’ve got to know what is happening. I dressed cute, but felt lousy and my energy and brainspace weren’t feeling very adventurous.

I had dinner at a diner across from the theatre and was completely surrounded by WTNV shirts, conversations about the finer point, and broad discussions of geek culture. (Where does WTNV fit in? with Whovians, and Cumberbitches, but with more video game knowledge than I have). It, by coincidence was near where Dragon*Con happens and so I already had a bit of geek stride because I sort of knew where I was-ish.

The show was general admission and because I went by myself, when the 5th row single center seat was not being saved I contemplated my bladder and shimmied by a dozen people. The first time there was audience yelling, and it was my turn, it felt like I was the general direction that Cecil chose to do that bit to. Which. Was. Wonderful. Even. If. I. Was Imagining. It.

Then, toward the end, there was the other bit the audience participated in. WTNV was CLEAR that saving the surprise for the show is important to them. It wasn’t spoiled for me and I won’t spoil it for others. WTNV is precious to me, I support it with my money and time, I support it with my relentless kicky-feet in public about it trying to get the right people to JUST LISTEN DAMNIT YOU’LL LOVE IT.

I think that they might know that it is isolating to be the one person you know who love a Thing. They came out on the road so I could sit in a theatre of other folks who know the references. They asked us to do a thing, and because they are My Thing, I did it. It helped a little.

It might be Pentatonix, it might be Pomplamoose, it might be 99% Invisible with Roman Mars, it might be Nerdfighting – but whatever your Thing is – when they come within driving distance, go fight off your isolation and get your geek on with them.

** He is, maybe, starting to vocal fry a little too much right now — but since I listen to him on headphones I also kind of don’t mind.

tl;dr – interesting with a side of I don’t think I’ll do it again.

Things to begin with:
1. The first days are here.
2. The story of boiling frogs is here.
3. Low blood sugar makes me grumpy.

Ok, so days 4-6 are basically using my own juice order, which comes closer to mimicking things like a super protein heavy breakfast and I am feeling pretty good. Dinner is food with varying degrees of healthiness and generally it is working out fine. Except for the slow boil.

Day 4 was a little tougher because I had obligations that made for a lot of interaction and a LOT of walking (about six miles total over the course of the day). At lunch I threw a can of soup in the mix to not be in total caloric depravation.** There were times during day four where my metal chatter did not give those around me the benefit of the doubt as much as usual. I had long rants on the phone about things that were (1) not consequential, and (2) were making me crazy.

Day 5 about noon my mom lovingly suggested that I get some “chewing food” before my husband returned from a business trip. My rants were still making her laugh, but at the same time she knows me well enough to know that low blood sugar dilemmas were close on the horizon.

Day 6 is tomorrow – doing about a half day and then driving into the city to see a show I am very excited about. Then, I will be done with this.

As for boiling a frog – this has been a comfortable, easy, non-violent decent into low blood sugar that took about 30 hours in total. I didn’t feel it drop out, I have not felt bad – just a little impatient (and other things in the world were easy to attribute that to). I am a perfect boiled frog, chilled out and relaxed while my blood sugar got lower and lower.

When I think about my decision making process late on day 4 — it is easy to understand. Oh, day 5s dinner was big and healthy, which is why I can finally write down what I’ve been thinking.

** For the record, I’ve had about a two pound loss in the week that includes the juice fast which is totally in my normal range of fluctuation. Weight loss wasn’t a primary goal, if it was I would have done what they suggest and not had solid foods (*half a pizza*) or coffee.

Once a trend hits the 2.5 year mark or so, I start to give thought to joining in. Dress flip flops, capri pants – if it holds great potential to be unattractive, I take it out for a spin eventually.

My next test of the “why won’t this trend DIE already” variety was juice fasting, or juice cleansing. Either way – lots of juice. This is my story so far.

You can rely on any reasonably liberal college town to have a juicery of some sort at this point. Not your average Jamba Juice but, using my town’s as an example, a raw, vegan, organic, cold-pressed, non-pasturized juicery. The juice is interesting and refreshing in the shot glass sized cup, it allows you to have an opinion on kale juice, and in the 16oz bottle is more expensive than hiring Benedict Cumberbatch to wash the yogurt stains out of the back seat of your car.

Still, there are specials all the time, and so I signed up for two days worth of juice.

Day 1 – Picking up the juice.
I got a phone call early in the day asking me if I wanted to substitute some juices for the ones they were out of or if I wanted to pick up the next morning, “because it has been a crazy weekend.” At the juicery. I said I would substitute (annoyed because a pre-order should have some standing, right?) and when I got there they had closed more than an hour early because they were out of juice.

What the fuck?
Oh yeah, spring break abounds in a college town.

Day 2 – Actually getting the juice.
I had a light breakfast and headed back over to the juicery to pick up my supply for the next two days. They gave me a pep talk, some instructions, and sent me on my way with 16 bottles of juice. At the time I got them, the combination of their plan and my day – I was supposed to drink 16oz of juice every 90 minutes PLUS tea to beat back the caffeine headache AND water.

I am really susceptible to the temperature of the fluids I drink – I am a total wuss that way, so drinking cold juice while the outside air temp drops 20 degrees means that I am also drinking a lot of tea and hot water because hypothermia is my other option.

Results –
Light Breakfast
A sensation of being simultaneously VERY overfull and NOT sated at all.
My brain doing those tricks that I recognize from when I smoked that involve head bobbing and, “nobody is going to tell ME what to do”.
6 chicken nuggets
2/3rds of an old school box of mac & cheese
and a half a can of corn.

Day 3 – I’ll show you who is boss of ME!
This was today, with a plan of being out of the house for a large part of the day and some social coffee plans.

I felt good up through about 4:45 when I was talking to my mom and recognizing my entertaining rants as being about 30 minutes short of hunger induced raging bitch.
Beet juice before yoga (excellent practice today)
protein heavy one before coffee,
a ginger / veggie one before before the next coffee,
a veggie heavy one,
and then an apple veggie one.

There were two flavors in the original set that I just didn’t tolerate well at all. So I threw those out.

I am going to stay juice heavy for the next two days because it is an interesting change, I like some of the flavors, and I know that even with a vegan husband I do not get the variety of vegetables that I should.

Do I feel like a new person, no.
Am I doing it as prescribed – no, I’m a 40 year old woman with a life and a family.
Would I recommend it to you? Eh, don’t expect to be a new person because someone else can squeeze the hell out of a cucumber.

Ok. So. Clearly, two lovely people people being shot by lovely photographers in a lovely setting with stunning lighting.

Also. The thing that has been pissing me off for a week.

Jonathan Groff, Lea’s best friend for many years, is making the rounds with her as she advertises her upcoming CD and book. Also, Glee is bringing the focus back around to New York (possibility: the puking shit storm that has been the first half of the season was a panicked distraction to give Lea some time … I’d take that as an explanation).

It is possible, but doubtful, that Lea has tried to incorporate Jonathan into this press junket. I say doubtful because this woman was young Cosette on Broadway for cripes sakes. I imagine she’s better at press junkets than she is at many many social things.

Is it, perhaps, that she has reached an uncomfortable moment in quasi-public-widow-ish-hood. She was in love. He died. Six months have passed, and the album is finished, the book is finished, and it is time to press flesh. BUT NOT THAT FLESH. She did a round of heartfelt renditions of Cannonball (an…odd song, and one of two that Cory never heard) where she often clutched her heart and sung longingly to the rafters.

Steps into the public world still wrapped in Cory’s death. I get that, I really really do.

Then what?

Just let her out there?

A 27 year-old woman, who plays a 19 year old on television. With no (visible, publicly consumed) support? What if she felt sad (she does)? What if she looked happy (she does, she’s worked hard on these projects)? What would send a clear message that she was still bubble wrapped? What would provide the excuse for a moment of non-grief on her face?


The best friend.

Who has been out for a long time.

Who is also beautiful.

I might be wrong. But tell me this, if Bobby Brown and Whitney had still been married when she died – who would have been hovering around the edges six months out?

Did you answer a non-sexually available beautiful woman? No?
Did you answer he’d just be out there living his life without a chaperone?

My pre-graduation purchase at the end of my undergrad degree was an ankle length brown wool coat with huge pockets, two buttons and a tie at the waist. It smacks of wool bathrobe. I’ve had that coat for 17 years now, and it is still perfect.

I live in Georgia and it is impossible to do that today without being on the brink of an aneurysm because of the weather. Part of being an adult with a winter coat nearly old enough to vote is that many things can be true and exist in my mind with minimal conflict.

1. Yes, I’m from IL and do not intuitively understand the level of hyperventilating about snow BUT I also can think about my decade in GA and know that I’ve never seen a snowplow bigger than one a guy can keep in a shed and put on his F150 once a year.

2. Oh my yesterday in Atlanta was a total and utter clusterfuck, no doubt. I may never understand why folks didn’t pull into the local Ruby Tuesdays and have some dinner – but they made the best choice they thought they could at the time. At an institutional level I expect that nothing will be learned, on a personal level for those thousands of people, I hope something is. Even if it is just “pee before you leave.”

3. Snow is pretty, especially when it is 30 degrees with no wind.

4. My GA brain understands it academically, but my IL brain cannot grok the school decisions. I know, I know, but *honestly*.

5. The grocery store thing? Everybody has their bread, milk, & wine threshold. Mine is different than yours. People in Alaska think I’m a pussy. It is all true. My biggest question is what the hell bread concoction all of you are MAKING?? Sandwiches, got it. French toast? Bread Pudding? A Castle? Or worse, are you making the milk toast (soak one burned piece of toast in milk and then consume) that my grandmother makes — because I don’t think I can talk to you if you are.

My kid hasn’t had a full week of school since December 10. I’m this close |-| to an aneurysm because there is nothing to say about the weather that is original, especially as a north to south transplant.

Except this:

San Diego is dry with a perfect temperature all year round. Lots of good looking young men. Lousy traffic and crippling house prices. Who cares? The weather is perfect.