Fest Recap – 2nd Weekend 2017

Another great weekend of the 2017 Fest season! The biggest thing, of course, was that it was the first weekend my new band, Sycamore Gap, performed together. We’ve been rehearsing together for about a year, but that is definitely not the same as performing. It was a little rocky at times, but that’s to be expected, and for the most part people didn’t seem to notice or care. We got some really nice comments from several patrons and fellow performers, and in general things went well.

Because this is Minnesota, weather was another big thing. There was a lot of rain this week, and rain predicted for both Saturday and Sunday. That, combined with the State Fair, kept the patrons away on Saturday, but it actually turned out to be a fairly pleasant day. It was overcast and there were a couple of bouts of really light rain/mist, but nothing terrible, and the temperature was comfortable. Mosquitoes weren’t even too bad (this seems to be more of a bee year).

Our first show wasn’t until 11:30, so after opening gate we all took care of some things and eventually met up at the Leaping Frog Pub, which has a nice little place that musicians can play but for some reason isn’t gridded. It’s pretty quiet in the morning and the proprietors are kind, so it’s a decent place to get in some practice. We played through a few songs and then headed over to our first gig at Folkestone Pub. Which went pretty well. People laughed at my joke about learning “The Minstrel Boy” from Star Trek (which is true). Later I tried it out more subtly saying I learned it from Miles O’Brien, but only Trekkies will get that joke. Will have to work on it.

The rest of the gigs were fine too. Then I went to the music jam at Troubador in the evening, which I hadn’t attended since my days with Hardtack Jack. That was fun. Went outside to closing gate for a few minutes after that (jam didn’t end until 6:45) but came back in right after cannon to fix L’s wagon in preparation for Sunday. That was a pain in the butt, but I did it. And none of the wheels fell off Sunday, so I guess I did a decent job. 🙂 Had to wait awhile for the bus and didn’t make it to my parents’ house until after 8:30, but L was still awake! I snuck in and showered so as not to disrupt bedtime, and it was fine, and I went to bed by 10.

Sunday was really great. It was sunny and temperate for most of the day. I had to wake L up but he likes “the Festival,” so he was pretty cooperative when I was getting him dressed and ready. Got to site in plenty of time for Cast Call, at which he behaved pretty well, then we went to opening gate. He was still a little overwhelmed by it, I think, but he didn’t require that I hold the whole time like he did last year. He sat next to the tree and played in the mud, sulking a little, and maybe about 3/4 of the way through he started crying and I had to pick him up and just sing instead of play, but I’d already played “John Ryan’s Polka” a dozen times, so it was fine. 😀 I don’t know what set him off… I think just a lot of activity while he was still kind of tired. I think next weekend he’ll do better, though. After opening gate we met up with B, his nanny, and went to Fest Friends (after stopping at Ratcatcher’s for coffee and a scone), and then he felt better once he was eating a scone at FF. I hung out for awhile and then went to the Leaping Frog and left him with B, and he did fine. After our 11:30 show, I took him to get something to eat, let him pick out some marbles (5 for $1), and met B at the Troub for our 1:00 show. After that L and I ate pickles and got the wagon out, which he loved, and B said worked out really well for the rest of the afternoon, too.

Before our 5:00 show, I gave L some money to put in the Mechanical Man’s basket. L was a little scared at first, but once the Mechanical Man threw the ball to him and had him give it back, he was good. It was so fun! During our show, L was was… okay. He sat nicely behind me for a song or two, then wanted to “do something else now” and kept asking me. I told him we’ll have to work on that. But as it turns out, we did get to do something else… because at about 5:15 it started to rain. Hard. S and I grabbed instruments (and I grabbed L’s wagon) and ran for cover (G continued playing in the rain for one devoted patron). Once we had taken refuge in a shop, L decided he wanted to venture out into the rain, so I put his cloak on him, and he had fun running out into the rain and then coming back in and making wet footprints on the wood floor of the shop. The cloak kept him pretty dry from the thighs up, so even though it was a pain in the butt to make, it was worth it. (There was, of course, no hope for his shoes, socks, or pant cuffs, but that was okay. My shoes, socks, and skirts were just as muddy!)

After about 15 minutes or so, the rain abated and as it was approaching 6:00, I tried to convince L to come with me to see if the music jam was happening. He kept saying he wanted to go somewhere dry and without mud, though, so I decided not to push it. And since I’d planned on leaving at 5:30 anyway unless he was holding out pretty well, it didn’t alter plans much. So, we put away the wagon, collected our things from upstairs at Bad Manor, and headed to the bus. On the ride, I asked what he liked best about Fest this weekend. He said, “being with you.” ❤ ❤ After my heart was done melting, I asked him what was his favorite thing he saw or did, to which he responded, “riding on the school buses.” Haha! Of all the things. 😀

Once the bus reached the Green Lot, there was one more adventure in store: a woman with Safety Services offered us a ride to our car in the golf cart! Of course we accepted and L thought it was awesome. A great end to the day!

 

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Fest Recap – Opening Weekend 2017

This weekend I began my 14th year working at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. For the first five years, I worked at Royale Sweets, a booth and associated cart that sell delicious chocolate treats. My sixth year, I slung beer at Mac’s Pub. The next three years, I was a musician in the Terpsichory Courtly Dance Troupe, then I helped found a band specializing in nautical-themed music, Hardtack Jack. We performed together for two years, and then I spent the next two years as a solo flautist. This year, I’ll be with a band again, joining forces with two other veteran Fest musicians. The new band’s name is Sycamore Gap.

This weekend, however, my two bandmates were out of town, so I opened this season as a soloist for one last weekend. Turns out I wasn’t put on the schedule, probably due to confusion about whether the band would be present or not, but it was fine. It gave me a chance to get all my affairs in order and say my hellos without a lot of other obligations on Saturday. I did take over one slot for a friend who had too many, and I found places here and there to play, but mostly I didn’t have to be anywhere specific at any given time.

The first cool thing that happened was that I sat next to a turtle on the bus. For those of you who don’t know, participant parking (the Green Lot) is pretty far away from the actual Festival grounds, so those of us who drive in daily instead of camping on site take a shuttle bus (okay, a school bus) from the Green Lot to the grounds and back. The bus is usually quite full, with people all arriving near the same time, so we pack as many people in as we can. Festies travel with all sorts of interesting things, including but not limited to sets of armer, swords, snakes, and other reptiles. Since it was opening day and I don’t camp, I had with me a large bin full of stuff I leave on site for the season– picnic blanket, music stand, bug spray, sunscreen, non-perishable snacks, Gatorade– which took up 3/4 of a seat. I occupied the other 1/4 of the seat. I happened to be first onto that particular bus (having passed on the previous bus when it reached the “standing room only” point), so I got a front seat. When this bus was nearing capacity, a woman from the Royal Herpetological Society got on, carrying her bag and a big bin containing a turtle. I offered for her to stack her turtle-bin on top of my bin, and she did, and that is how I ended up sitting next to a turtle on the bus.

The rest of the morning consisted of catching up with people at Cast Call, opening gate, and afterwards. Hot topics of conversation included the eclipse and how to integrate the cast patches we had been given at Cast Call that morning into our costumes. I played music here and there and it was cool and all, but I’m looking forward to playing with my band next weekend.

A high-level summary of Sunday is that it was effing humid and my son L was with me. In the morning, L and I met at B, the woman who will nanny for him at Fest this year, at a gas station near the grounds so I could give B her pass and show her how to get to the Green Lot. After a fairly uneventful bus ride, B and L settled in at Fest Friends, and they played, visited some of the animals, and sailed his wooden boat in Folkestone Well while I went to Cast Call and opening gate. After opening gate, I stopped at Ratcatcher Coffee since I had neither eaten nor had caffeine yet due to getting L ready and settled. I got a scone and ate it while they made my coffee… and when they gave my my coffee, I set it down momentarily on the counter of the wine booth next door… and it slid off. 😦 😦 😦 (PSA: That counter is curved!) So then I had to get another coffee and wait for it to be made, but in the end I had my caffeine and all’s well that ends well.

After that, since I wasn’t gridded anywhere in the morning (I had agreed to take over a friend’s schedule in the afternoon), I hung out with L so B could go say hello to people she knows and enjoy the Festival. Since it was so humid, we didn’t do much– first we went upstairs in Bad Manor and had an early lunch, then L said he was tired so we found a shady spot where he could lie down for awhile. He didn’t nap, but he got cooled of, which was important. Then we went to get his wagon, which he happily rode in for awhile, until one of the wheels started falling off (even though I’d JUST tightened the bolts on Saturday). Then he decided he wanted to watch a show– not a life, Fest show, but a TV show– and was not going to be talked out of it, so we went backstage and he watched an episode of Octonauts on my phone while I put the wagon away and stripped down to my bloomers and chemise to cool off for awhile. I will have to bring tools next weekend and fix that darn wagon better.

After that, we met up with B again, and she took him to get some ice cream while I played a set. They found me again after that set because L was getting sad and wanted to see me, so I went with them to Fest Friends for awhile and got him situated on his cloak so he could lie down and maybe nap. First I got him some Gatorade and he drank it all up, which was good, and then I snuck off to play a few more sets.

Typically, when I am playing by myself, the people who most often stop to listen are families with young girls, presumably because for some reason flute is seen as a “feminine” instrument and little girls are attracted to it. On Sunday, I was playing at the Wine Booth near the Bear Stage, and a family with a young girl stopped, listen, and tipped. When I ended the piece I was currently playing, I thanked them and asked the little girl, who was maybe around 5, if she had any requests. The first song she named was something I didn’t know, so I asked her if there were any other songs she liked. Her dad mentioned the Legend of Zelda, which is a tune I play out there, so I thought he’d heard me play it before and was naming options for her to request, so I said, “I do know that one.” Her reaction surprised me, partly because she’s a girl, but mostly because she was so young. “YES!” she said, “that’s my FAVORITE EVER!” So I played the Legend of Zelda for her and I could tell she was so happy. It was amazing! Little moments like that, when I can make a child smile in that way, make all the busing and heat and humidity worth it. ❤

I played one more set after that, and then went to meet B and L to get ready to leave. L had not napped, again, but that didn’t surprise me too much, since he doesn’t usually nap anymore and I never had luck getting him to nap at Fest even last year when he did nap at home. I was happy to hear from B that L had been really good for her, even letting her change his diaper nicely (which is usually a huge struggle with us). L was in a really good mood. On the shuttle back to the Green Lot, I asked L if he’d had fun. He said yes, but “the best part was coming here with you.” Awww! My little sweetheart.

All in all, I’d say it was a pretty successful opening weekend. Even with the awful humidity I didn’t feel too beat. I had Monday off to rest a bit and recuperate, and now I am antsy for next weekend so we can do it again!

OMG Pat Rothfuss!

Yesterday I attended a reading, Q&A, and signing with one of my current favorite writers, Pat Rothfuss, author of the Kingkiller Chronicles. (Squeeeee! I do not often “squee,” but….squeeeee!) It was a great time. First of all, it was at my favorite local library, the Roseville library, which was awesome. Secondly, a few of my friends from Fest (namely, former Hardtack Jack members Jon and Chris, and Chris’s wife Rae) were also attending. I went to a thing! With people I know! From Fest!

There were several cool things that happened, aside from the fact that it was a reading/Q&A/signing with one of my current favorite writers. The first thing that was cool was that Pat came out about 20 minutes before he was scheduled to talk. Holding a stack of index cards, he announced that he wasn’t “officially here yet,” but that we’d be doing some Q&A, and that he realizes that “some people might be introverts.” So he passed out the index cards, for those who might want to ask a question but not shout it out in front of 300 people (and there were about 300 people there). I didn’t have a question, but I was so impressed that he addressed the introversion question head on, and took steps specifically to make the event introvert-friendly! Much appreciated, Pat!

The second cool thing that happened was that one of the questions he read was “What are your favorite words and what words do you dislike?” The word he liked was “incarnadine,” which is indeed a lovely word. But the really cool part was that the word he doesn’t like was “utilize.” He basically said it’s a synonym for “use,” and the only reason to say “utilize” instead of “use” is to sound smart/important/fancy. Ha! This was awesome because I had this conversation with someone just the other day and had come to the same conclusion. Awesome. I told him this while he was signing by book, and he seemed genuinely amused and impressed that we’d had this same thought process, which was cool.

Another cool (but sort of weird) thing that happened was this: When I entered the library and got in line to buy my copy of The Name of the Wind (having previously only owned it on Kindle), I started talking to the woman behind me. We continued talking as we went to sit down, so naturally we sat down together (also next to Chris and Rae). She told her her kids’ uncle was coming to meet her. When he showed up, his kids were with him, and I recognized his daughter right away, and subsequently, him– they used to live 2 houses down from me. Small world!

The reading and Q&A was a cool thing, too. Aside from the content itself, it was a great social activity for an introvert. I got there and chatted with like-minded people (okay, mostly people I already knew, but not entirely) for a while. We had a built-in topic of conversation. Then, we all sat together and listened to Pat read and answer questions. Then we all talked again while in line. A socially acceptable hour-long break from talking at a social activity! Fantastic!

Social Life

I have been quite the social butterfly this weekend. Last night, I went to karaoke with Karlie, Amy, and hostess Jaime. It’s always a fun time, though I felt especially off my game last night because of globus, PLUS there were lots of singers there, and most of them were really good, so I felt even worse in comparison. 😀 But that’s fine, it is always fun! Sleep-wise, it was nice that it was on a Friday night– usually Jaime hosts karaoke on Thursdays– but actually I think I prefer the Thursday nights. Fewer people, higher ratio of people I know to strangers, and generally more mediocre singers like myself than stellar voices like on Friday. 🙂

Today I had plans to go to a Geeks Who Drink themed pub quiz, and the theme was… Star Trek!!! Awesome! It was a great time. My awesome sister-in-law came to babysit (since the quiz started before the spouse got home from work), I put on my red shirt and communicator badge (my Jadzia Dax uniform, I discovered, doesn’t fit as well post-baby), and headed out to the Chatterbox Pub in St Paul, which also just happens to be one of my favorite watering holes, in my very own St Paul. Good times! There I met up with my friend Natasha and our other teammates, whom I didn’t know before (except one by sight from Fest), but who were all very nice people. My brother and sister-in-law were playing as well in Vegas. Wish we could have all played together, but alas. My team did rock, though. We called our team the “Spock Stars.” There were some hard questions. Some of them I knew, some I did not but others did, and some, none of us did. After the first 3 rounds, we had only got 2 wrong and were in 3rd place, but by the end we ended up in 6th place (out of 14 teams). But, as one person put it, we won, because we were hanging out together having fun! And it was a very fun time indeed.

Tonight I was invited to go to the Rocky Horror Picture Show with some Festies, but decided to decline because the show doesn’t start until 11, and sine the spouse is on day shift, I have to be up when the baby wakes up (usually between 6-7am). But it would have been a good time I’m sure!

Tomorrow I have plans to meet my BFF Kelly and her son (my godson), who is about 6 months older than my son. We’re gonna let the boys have a little play date and catch up.

So many social activities for this introvert! It helps that Friday I worked from home, so I had some good, solid alone time while the kiddo was at daycare. Yes, I was working, but I was still alone, and that is very refreshing. There were even a good couple hours of complete silence around me, except the sound of my work on the computer, while the dogs were napping. Lovely!

Also, as it turns out, I realized that recently I’ve been hanging out with Festies outside of Fest. Like socially, not just at Fest-related things like band or Terp practice. This is the first time I can really say that, and it’s kind of cool.

2013 in Review

I’ve seen several posts on Facebook about how terrible 2013 was for many people. I’m very sorry for everyone who had a rough year… but mine has been great! 2012 was more difficult for me, and I guess the first half of 2013 was a bit trying as well, but oeverall, the good definitely outweighs the bad.

January

On New Year’s Day, I turned 32. At that time I was undergoing fertility testing after 2+ years of trying to get pregnant with no luck. This was not very enjoyable. Fertility testing is painful, both physically and emotionally.

A good thing that happened in January was that we got the band together! I’d been wanting to try to form this group since Fest of 2012, and in January it finally came together, and I’m very happy it did!

February

In February we had our first practices with the band, and Rob and I took a trip to Mexico.

Being romanced by a pirate in Mexico

Being romanced by a pirate in Mexico

March

In March, Rob had a surgery that was designed to improve our fertility. I was pretty optimistic about the success of the surgery, but it was also difficult because it definitely was not guaranteed to help, and both of our doctors were already implying that IVF might be our best hope, which made it difficult to maintain my optimism. I was so proud of Rob though– he underwent the surgery very willingly and without any complaint.

In March my BFF also revealed to me that she was pregnant. Although I was of course really happy for her, I couldn’t help feeling simultaneously sad for myself– a most unpleasant state of affairs.

April

In April, we adopted our second dog, Gilly. I’m happy to report that things are still going great with him! Trip was jealous at first of his new little brother, and he still gets jealous over toys and cuddle time with us, but every day they are becoming more and more like a pack. They haven’t quite reached the point where they will cuddle together, but Trip will now tolerate Gilly being right next to him on the couch. He also gives Gilly kisses on the nose, which is pretty sweet. We’re still working with Gilly on his mouthing and jumping, but overall he’s a pretty well-behaved pup, and he is only 2, so he’s still a young thing.
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A Day in the Life of an Introvert

This is an account of a fictional but pretty typical day.

7:40 am: 

I stop for coffee on my way to work. Since I stop there frequently, I know the baristas.  At least, I know them by sight, and they know me (and my drink order!)– as far as I know they don’t know my name. I walk in and see that it’s the dark-haired girl making drinks. I only know her name because randomly they wore name tags for a couple of days. The dark-haired girl’s name tag read “emily.” I like her–she’s nice.

But do I rejoice that I will get to talk to her? Nope! Instead, all kinds of thoughts are running through my mind: When should I say hello– right when I see her? She looks busy. Should I say my drink order at the register, or do I assume that they remember it when I hand them my reusable mug?

I overhear another patron asking emily about her vacation. Do they know each other outside of the patron-barista relationship? How, in interactions that last a few minutes a day, did they get to the point where they know about each other’s lives? I don’t know how to do that– I can make conversation, but it’s restricted to the niceties and talk about the weather. Which, granted, in Minnesota is actually an interesting topic, but still.

At any rate, I have cordial but superficial interactions with the dude and the dark-haired girl as I go about getting my coffee. They make excellent coffee, which is an introvert’s best friend.

8:15 am:

I get to work and get settled in, and open up my email. There it is: a message from Auto Forward, with the subject line “Fwd: (612.XXX.XXXX) 01:18 Voice Message.” It’s a voicemail. Oh, crap on a cracker, I think as I put in my headphones to listen to it. As I listen, I evaluate whether I can justifiably respond by email instead of calling the person back. Maybe the caller will leave an email address in their message, thereby giving me permission to respond by email. No such luck. Or, maybe it’s one of my students, who has questions that require web links or attachments?  Nope, it’s a parent–strike two. Even worse, they don’t specify their questions in their message– it’s just “I have some questions about the Montpellier program.” So there’s no chance I can just call and hopefully leave the answers on their voicemail. No, there is simply no way around it– I am going to have to have a phone conversation.

As I pick up the phone and dial the number, I can feel my heartbeat speed up and my body temperature rise. Why! I know I will have the answers, and more often than not, the parents I speak to on the phone are pleasant and thank me for answering their questions. This is the case today– the mother I speak to tells me I’ve been very helpful and thanks me for my time. There’s no rational reason to be nervous, but there’s just something about this method of communication that causes me stress. It’s infuriating.

Thanksgiving 2012

I didn’t really post anything Thanksgiving-related on Thanksgiving. This is because the status update thing on Facebook specifically asked, “What are you thankful for?” and everyone, like sheep, posted that they were thankful for friends, family, health, blah blah blah. I have no doubt that most people did it with the best of intentions, but it felt a little hollow and forced to me, so I refrained. But I am thankful for many things, which I will now enumerate:

Love
Dogs
My dog, in particular
Coffee
Chocolate
Friends
Family
The internet
Star Trek
Good health
A steady, decently-paying job that I mostly enjoy

Insurance that covers infertility treatment

Sunshine

Water
Air
My bed
Blankets
Warm clothes in the winter
Music
Poetry
Laughter
Fest
Emoticons
Travel
My house
President Obama
Blue states
And more

Thanksgiving was a bit weird this year. Thanksgiving day itself was fine; my spouse worked first shift (6:30am-2:30pm), for which he earned quadruple time and a paid day off on Friday, so that was cool. I had some “I time” in the morning and early afternoon, which I always appreciate. Then we went out to my parents’ house (just a 45 minute drive) for Thanksgiving dinner, which is typically very low key, as it’s usually just my spouse and I and my parents. This year was no different. And I was mainly over the cold that had been plaguing me for the last week and a half, and my spouse was on the upswing as well. Dinner was good, it was awesome hanging out with my parents, everything was fine. I also talked to my brother on the phone for a good while (which, for us, is probably like 15 minutes ).