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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Mexico

We just got back from a vacation in Mexico. Neither of us had ever been there, and it was definitely different than anywhere else I’d ever traveled. I’d never been to a place that caters SO MUCH to American tourist. We stayed on Cozumel, and we couldn’t even find an ATM that would dispense pesos there– we could only get US dollars. Usually my travel advice is just to get money out of the ATM in local currency instead of bringing cash and paying exchange fees, but in this case that wasn’t the wisest idea– it was expensive to get money out of the ATM, and everyplace took US dollars anyway. Also sunscreen was super expensive! We didn’t bring any because we didn’t check luggage, but we considered buying it at the airport in Dallas inside security (where we had a layover), but thought it would be more expensive there than in Mexico. Boy were we wrong– it was like $15 for a normal-sized bottle– and in 5 days we nearly went through 2 bottles. So those are my two pieces of advise for anyone (Americans, anyway) traveling to any of the tourist meccas in Mexico– just bring a bunch of cash and plan to use US dollars, and bring sunscreen!

Aside from those two small inconveniences, the trip was great. We have a lot going on right now between my husband’s work issues and corresponding emotional distress, trying unsuccessfully to have a baby, etc, and both of us needed this vacation like we’d never needed one before. I feel amazingly rejuvenated.

Our first afternoon down there, Tuesday, it was a bit rainy, so instead of going to the beach or pool or anything, we went into the town, San Miguel, on Cozumel. Our hotel was about 10 minutes’ drive outside of town, and we did end up renting a car (we got a roped into a time share presentation, but it did get us a good deal on the car– $50 + 90 minutes of our time for the week). I liked the town a lot. My husband thought it seemed a bit unsafe, because outside of the tourist area it looks a little bit run down. But I reminded him that we weren’t in the US, and when we went on our excursion to Chichen Itza the next day, our tour guide, Mitch (who my spouse had a bit of a man crush on, haha), reiterated that. He told us the island is very safe, even though we might feel like it’s unsafe because places that look how parts of the island look would be considered slums in the US. Sad but true. Anyway, it reassured my spouse, which was good.

One of the first things we saw was these dogs standing on the roof in San Miguel and barking. It was awesome.

I’m Someone!

The other day I was asked to give a short presentation at a meeting of the local study abroad professionals group, with people from universities and colleges all over the state. I arrived quite early, and when I introduced my self to a few people who where there already, they all asked me how long I’ve worked in the office, and when I said 6 years, several of them commented, “Oh, I’m surprised we haven’t met before.” I didn’t feel like going into the background, but the reason is that for 4 of those years I was in a more administrative position so didn’t really get my name out there in the field.

But as more people started to arrive, I recognized several of them, mostly people who had formerly worked in my office (we’re the largest office by far in the state) and had moved on to other jobs in the field, but also a couple of people I’d met in other capacities. I suddenly had an odd moment where I realized, “Hey, I know people!”

I had a similar, but even stronger, experience at Fest this summer. Every year, the Renaissance Festival forum I’m on has organized a Pirate Photo with all the pirates from the forum, and any other Fest pirates welcome as well. I am loosely affiliated with the big group of pirates at Fest, the Bloodwake, and in their Facebook group somebody asked when the Pirate Photo was going to be, but the RF forum hadn’t gotten around to planning it yet. So I initiated planning of the photo and acted kind of as a liaison between the RF forum peeps, the Bloodwake, and (some of) the pirates on cast. When the gathering was held, I found myself flitting between groups and talking with lots of people. Someone asked who organized it, and I was like, “Well, I guess I kind of did.” (But I left it to the Captain of the Bloodwake to herd the cats, so to speak. I am pretty much physically incapable of yelling loudly.) We did a big group shot, and then the Bloodwake wanted some shots of just their group and friends. I was chatting with Captain Drake, one of the pirates on cast, and didn’t go line up for the picture, and a bunch of the Bloodwake crew yelled, “Where’s Charlotte? Why isn’t Charlotte here? Hey, Charlotte, get yer arse over here!” (Charlotte is my character name at Fest.)

All of a sudden, I looked around and realized that I’m actually pretty widely known in the Fest community. I don’t know when this happened, but people know me. I’m “Someone.” I always kind of assume that I go relatively unknown in big communities… friends with a few people, or on the fringes of the group. So it was a strange feeling, but a nice one.

Copenhagen – Vikings, Pirates, Ships and the Sea

I have this very romantic notion about ships and the sea. They always just captivate me for some reason. So of course, I loved the old port are, Nyhavn:

A ship:

The Danes are generally very proud of their Viking history. We got to go visit the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, and see some actual Viking ships that were recovered from the sea and reconstructed. This next photo isn’t mine– I forgot to charge my camera the night before and it was completely dead the day we did this outing.

Fest 2010: Closing Weekend

Well, Fest is over for another year. It’s always bittersweet – on the one hand, it is sad to leave my friends and the magical realm behind for 10 months, but on the other hand, it is nice to have free time on the weekends to sleep in, relax, and get homework and housework done!!

Here’s a recap of closing weekend:

It was the High Seas Adventure (aka pirate) weekend, so there were a lot of pirates running around. Some of them were very bad pirates, like the Halloween costumes you can buy at Target. Oh well.

Saturday was fun because my husband was out with me all day. We had to leave super early, because the river was flooded and Highway 41 was closed due to the flooding. The Festival grounds are off of 41, and so is my parents’ house, where I stay on Festival weekends. So instead of a 15 minute drive straight down 41, we had to take a 35-40 minute detour. Ick. We were late for cast call, but made it before it was over, at least!

It was also very coooold! I had on long underwear under my normal clothes and my new, warm wool-fleece and flannel cloak that I made a couple of weeks ago, as well as a scarf, stocking cap and gloves. My husband didn’t think he’d get too cold, but I brought his gloves, an earband, and my old, not-as warm cloak for him all the same. He wore them all for most of the day.

New Garb

For the past several years (6, to be exact), I’ve worked at the Minnesota Renaissance Festival in August and September. I adore it!! My parents took us there every year when we were growing up (so I’ve attended every year since 1986), and it was always my favorite time of year, so when my brother got a job out there through a friend of his, I followed suit. I sold chocolate for the first 5 years, and last year I was a beer wench at Mac’s, the pirate pub.

My character for the last few years has been a pirate (my first couple of years I was just a merchant-class maiden) named Charlotte Rowan. I have a whole character backstory and everything. This year, however, I’m actually on cast, playing flute in the ensemble for the courtly dance troupe. Since a pirate doesn’t exactly fit in with that theme, I have to go back to wearing merchant-class garb again. That’s fine, no big deal – skirts aren’t difficult to make, and that’s really the only thing I HAD to make. Same bodice and chemises will work, and although my tricorn is not appropriate, I already had a straw hat that will work for Fest. But I wanted to keep my same character, so I just modified her backstory a little to give a pirate a reason to be at court:

Charlotte Rowan, half sister of the famous Irish pirate Grace O’Malley, usually roams the seven seas with her sister, but she frequently visits the court where she earns her keep as a musician. Although she is a most fierce and scurvy pirate, she is given amnesty at the court due the fact that she is married to one of the Queen’s favorite knights.

I wanted to make my merchant-class garb reflect this mixture of worlds, so I will still wear my piratical jewelry, and I bought a small dagger to wear instead of my pirate cutlass, and I am also making a bag in which to carry my flute and other things. The bag is made out of burlap (lined for structure) and I’m sewing seashells and other piratical trinkets onto it to add another little touch of pirate.

Here’s a picture of me in my new “hint of pirate” garb.  (Sans bag, since it’s not done yet.)