Thursday, December 30, 2010

It's Over! Part 2

Always So Much Fun 

Gram and Mom have been gone for years now, and Oldest decided a long time ago that she didn’t want to be part of the family anymore. So now, my family consists of only my Middle Sister and my girl, who has been away at college for the last two years. She’s not coming home for Christmas this year, so we’ve decided not to even do Christmas. Neither one of us can afford to do much, and without the family dynamics, it just isn’t much fun.

I did get to spend Christmas Eve with my best friend’s family, and got a really pretty flannel shirt and cat socks, that I’m wearing as I type. And I splurged, big time. Here I have all these tremendous debts to pay, four or five businesses to finance, a car to keep going and just lots of household stuff that could definitely stand to be replaced. But a friend gave me money and told me to spend it on something that would make me happy. So, after much consideration, I spent it on a hard-cover book that shows me how the Harry Potter movies were filmed. 

While the practical side of my brain is still scolding me for buying something that will not help me earn money, the artistic and intellectual and emotional sides are really happy with my decision. The fascination with the Harry films for me is not so much the magic; it’s the family and friendship dynamics, and being able to watch the kids grow up. Cute, sweet little Harry is now a full grown man, and by buying the movie book, I now have a permanent record of all that’s gone on for the last ten years, and can enjoy it whenever I want to. Oh, it’s fun to see how the props and locations were conceived and built, and how the cast and crew were picked, but it’s still the family I find fascinating, more than anything else.  

I took the movies “Out of Africa,” “Julie and Julia,” and Jane Austin’s biography, “Becoming Jane” out of the library before it closed down for Christmas week while it’s getting revamped.  My plan for this week had originally been to watch all those, the first five Harry Potter movies, and “The Lord of The Ring” trilogy. So far, I’ve only watched the Harry films; all of them at least twice, and today, a friend is letting me borrow the sixth one, “The Half Blood Prince.”

It’s now the day before New Years, and I seem to have gotten over my Christmas depression today. I did a lot of editing on what I’ve already written for this post, because if I had posted it two days ago, everybody reading it would be depressed right along with me, and I didn’t want that to happen.

It will soon be time to quit playing, or whatever you’d like to call this, and get back to work. There are a lot of things I want to accomplish this year, which I’ll talk about in the “Goals for 2011” series, coming relatively soon to a theatre near you, kinda, sorta.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

It's Over! Part 1

It’s over!

Christmas is over for another year; YAY! Judging from some of the after-Christmas posts I‘ve read, most of you had fun, but for me, I’ll be really glad when Monday comes and life returns to normal. I didn’t always feel this way; Christmas use to be fun before most of the family died or abandoned us. 

Mom was a nurse in Detroit when we were real little, but when the Detroit Riots came, she and Gram decided it would be best if my sisters and I lived with Gram in her little motel, in what was then the boondocks of Mid-Michigan, while Mom continued to work in Detroit, where she could make twice as much money than she could here. That worked out well, but it meant we only got to see her once or twice a month, so when she came home for Christmas, it was her presence (pun intended) that was the greatest present for me. 

She’d always take us to the “Big City” a few days before the actual day, because we wanted to buy something for her and Gram, and the shopping opportunities in our area were slightly limited, to say the least.  We always wanted to go to this incredibly exciting, glamorous store called K-Mart, because the first one who saw “The Big K sign” got bragging rights for the year. Any arguments we got into were very effectively squelched by simply saying, “Oh yeah? Well I saw the Big K sign before you did!” 

Mom’s income helped Gram buy the basics for us, but there wasn’t usually much left over for extras, such as restaurant meals, especially if the hot water heater broke and had to be fixed immediately. So it was a real treat for us on these Christmas shopping trips that Mom would take us to McDonalds and let us each get our own hamburger and French fries and pop, as we usually had to split these things with each other.

I never remember decorating the tree myself, so suppose Oldest and Mom did it. It always had pretty colored lights and tinsel, and thirsty years later, I can still remember what some of the decorations looked like, and the huge pile of presents under the tree.  Mom always made us new pajamas every year and let us open them on Christmas Eve so we could wear them to bed. I still have a picture of us the year she found material with the same butterfly pattern; Oldest Sister’s was blue, Middle’s was green and mine was pink. 

She always gave us a stocking to open as soon as we woke up, so she and Gram had time to get their first cup of coffee before we opened the presents. That stocking was always full of magic; pretty socks and undies, tiny little toys and candy, and a huge orange stuffed into the toe. Middle Sister has continued the stocking tradition, now that Gram and Mom are gone. I still get my year’s supply of undies and socks, only now instead of getting coloring books and crayons, I get nifty practical things like Comet and dish clothes. And chocolate, of course. That goes without saying; it wouldn’t be Christmas without my chocolate.

Gram would cook up this magnificent dinner for us; turkey and stuffing and pies, and always scold us when we wanted to eat pie for breakfast the next morning. After we’d stuffed ourselves silly, she’d shoo us outside to play in the snow. Then in the evening, we’d always sing Christmas carols together. Since Oldest was majoring in music, she would play the piano and take the alto part; Gram and Middle would sing soprano, and Mom and I sang lead.

The year I was nine, we took up our usual caroling positions, but something kept throwing everybody off, and it took them awhile to realize I wasn’t singing lead; I was singing alto, and it stopped the whole show. Mom looked at me flabbergasted and said, “Honey, I didn’t know you could sing alto! That’s the hardest part to sing!”  Of course I could sing alto; the whole family listened to it at least three hours a day when Oldest was practicing.

When Middle and I got older, it was always so much fun when Oldest Sister would come home, bringing with her all these incredibly imaginative presents for the family, usually scrapbooks she had made with recipes or just interesting articles she’s found over the past year. She had a large collection of optical illusion books and other weird things she’d picked up, and it was always such a blast to read them with her. 

She’d tell us all these exciting stories of her life; first from Interlochen, which was a boarding school for artistically talented high schoolers. Later, her stories revolved around college life, and then her life on the road as a circus performer with her husband. For Middle Sister and I; two innocents if ever there were any, Oldest Sister’s life was full of glamour and magic, though I suspect she didn’t see it that way, exactly.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Sorry I haven't finished series

Folks: Sorry I haven’t finished the Stand-Up Comedy series, but people kept telling me that the blog has been down for some time, so I figured there was no point of finishing the series until it was fixed, and good luck getting someone to fix it the week of Christmas. Well, I’m not sure what happened, but apparently Santa sent a nice computer elf to fix it for me as an early present. Or more likely, God sent an angel. 

Either way, I think I’m not going to finish it until after Christmas; maybe after New Years, though I’ll probably put up a post about the goals (NOT resolutions) I want to accomplish in 2011. And I think I’ll be watching LOTS of movies, starting with the whole Harry Potter series again (yes, I know; I just did that three weeks ago). What can I say? They make me happy, and they make me think. I’ll also be watching all three Lord of the Ring series again. 

My sister is basically planning to do the same thing, as she’s off work for two weeks, and my girl isn’t coming home, so Christmas day will be real quiet, although I get to spend Friday with my best friend and her family, and that’s always a blast. It’s also possible I’ll be able to go to a Beat the Winter Blues party sometime in January. I can’t wait for that one; almost everybody who will be there is involved with the Michigan movie industry one way or another, and this is a fun crowd of people. No kids, just a great group of intelligent, extremely talented people.

The last time my friend and I went, we ran into two feet of snow on the way home, and what was usually a three hour trip turned into five hours. We didn’t get home until three in the morning, extremely stiff and tired, and I wouldn’t have missed that party if I had to sleep in a rest area and live on vending machine candy bars for three days.

Now here’s something I’ve always wondered about. We get hit with four major holidays, Halloween, followed by Thanksgiving, followed by Christmas and New Years in real quick cessation. Why don’t we spread that out a little bit? I don’t need two holidays in December; why don’t we put Christmas in about February? That’s when I really start getting winter depressed and desperately need some fun, and what do we get in the middle of winter? Groundhog’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day. Woopee. I could handle the two month wait until spring much better if I could look forward to some fun in February or March.

Okay, I’ll quit moaning now.  A friend is coming to take me to lunch, and tomorrow I get to go to my Christmas Eve party, Christmas will be over in two days, and I’m going to Harry Potter and Lord of the Ring myself silly. So I hope you all have a whole lot of fun.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Stand-Up Comedy Part 5

Two To Three Hundred People

When I asked the crowd of two to three hundred people if anyone knew whether vampires could have babies, I heard answers from all over. Heads were nodding; people were looking at each other; grinning and shrugging. Apparently not many had thought of that question, but it sure looked like they were paying attention. 

Then I got to the zinger and leaned in towards the people, to make a tighter connection, and asked them, “Would you really want a vampire breastfeeding?” Everybody groaned, and then started laughing, and I thought I heard a few hand claps. And then, over the hubbub, I heard the gong. It wasn’t a loud bang like Amy had given everybody else. It was more like a hesitant tap on the metal, and I thought for a minute she had hit it accidently. I turned to give her “The Look,” expecting her to look guilty and say, Oops, sorry.” Instead, she pointed at Gertrud, and told me Gertrud made her gong me. 

I couldn’t believe Gertrud would order somebody to be gonged in the middle of an act, so I looked over at her, along with the entire crowd, expecting to see her waving her hands saying, “No, no, sorry, I made a mistake. That’s not what I meant.” Instead, she suddenly got very busy looking for something in her purse. 

S’pose it’s possible that Gertrud felt the breastfeeding line was too risqué for children, but another woman had sung a bar song that I felt was pretty raunchy; there was no mistaking what she’d like to do to the men in the bar.  Gotta admit, that woman had the voice for it, and man, did she have the moves. She had the entire crowd rocking on their feet, including the little kids. In fact, I talked to her after she was done and told her how to go about getting an agent. But I also would not have considered her song appropriate for kids, and Gertrud never made a move to have her gonged. (Shrug) Donno what happened there, and Gertrud has never offered an explanation.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Stand-Up Comedy Part 4

A Bit Nerve-Racking

Anybody who has been through a performance contest knows that it’s a bit nerve-racking to wait through twenty or thirty people before it’s your turn. My biggest worry was that I would get distracted and lose my train of thought, as I have a horrible memory. But I finally got called up and made a big dealing out of shooing the MC off my stage, because I wanted the audience to be chuckling before I started. 

I spent a second or two grinning at the crowd, and then started my line, “How many of you have watched the Twilight movies?” and got a nice roar. Couldn’t believe how steady my voice was. Years before, I’d volunteered at the church I was attending to give talks for Mother’s Day, Veteran’s Day, etc. Every time, I was so pumped full of adrenalin, the knees would shake so hard you could hear them, and for the first few minutes, the voice would quiver like a violin string on speed. I’d make the pastor promise to drag me behind the choir loft if I fainted, and the chuckle I got out of that one calmed me down a little.
But up on that stage, my voice (and my knees) were rock solid; not a sign of nerves. I wasn’t at all scared, I was happy and having a great time with the crowd.