Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Ouch! My shoulder hurts. It was injured at Roller derby last Saturday night. But I’ll get to that. First, this week has been an emotional rollercoaster ride, jostled to and fro as well as zig-zagged high and low.

No hor-moonal cycles to blame, nothing particularly personal, just what happens in this soap opera called life when we’re connected to other people and are pulled into their powerful orbits.

On an upswing, GoatPapa outdid me and my Zolo Queen marquee and has his mug plastered on the back of a bus and a huge billboard! Kudos, good job and well done.

Did you see the fat, frothy, juicy full moon last night? It’s been raining here for several days in a row, so I was elated when the skies cleared enough to behold the lunar spectacle. Which reminds me, at poetry night, an intensely fabulous woman oh, about 80 years old, who was born in Prague and came to the States via Austria when she was a teenager, kept looking at me intently. Finally, she asked me, “Are you from somewhere (a pause, the length of a beat between a comma and a period), Special (question mark?), like the moon?”

I love it. “Are you from somewhere; Special? Like the moon?”

I can never take myself too seriously, the generous folks around me won’t allow it.

On a slide down, I had to say au revoir to a friend. Maui John is leaving today for a year’s mission in Aruba. While I’m happy and excited for his adventure, I’m selfishly going to miss his humor and energy. When I describe him as hilarious, I don’t mean the occasional joke or laugh, I mean, when he’s on, he is ON. Maui John is an actor, an entertainer and a writer by trade. I don’t think the folks in the southern Caribbean Sea have a clue what’s about to hit their 21-mile island.

For his going away shin-dig, we had a most unusual party (at least according to my experience). Surprise! Both Maui John and Lil’ Bo Peep, another friend of ours, were both contestants on game shows like Match Game, Hollywood Squares and Wheel of Fortune and had roles in movies such as The Stuntman with Peter O’Toole and Dark Water. Throwing together some tasty treats, the entertainment for the evening centered around a review of their celluloid performances.

To say it was great would be an understatement. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house, due to all the whimsy and banter. Both Maui John and Lil’ Bo Peep can slip in and out of any character, accent, drawl or dialect, and the two of them created cramps and hiccups in my body from laughing so hard.

Over dinner with Mother-in-Law a couple nights later, Groom mentioned Maui John’s notorious appearance on the Wheel of Fortune (she’s a “wheel watcher”), and even though it aired years ago, she remembered the episode. In his suit and tie, Maui John appears to be the most polite and clean cut fellow (he’s going on a mission, remember?), yet he’s also an unexpected mix of physical comedy (think John Ritter), personal charisma and quick wit (that’s why he’s an actor/comedian).

In an unprecedented move, the producers of Wheel, brought him back for a second appearance and issued a quasi-apology for the way he’d been treated during the first round. It was the encore show we were watching, the one where he took his revenge.

While trying to solve the puzzle, Maui John won a bet with a friend by working in a quote from their favorite movie to his onscreen banter, managed to kiss Pat Sajak, who turned away in embarrassment and disgust – then had a change of heart and humor, and suddenly bent Maui John backward like a dip in a romantic dance and kissed him in return, much to the audience’s approval and applause.

M. J. had to rewind the VCR on the next antic so we could catch it, as he ever-so casually copped a feel of his rival contestant and arch nemesis Nikki. Pat Sajak, however, didn’t miss a thing, and good-naturedly mentioned to her on air about “contacting legal.” At the end of the show as Maui John won $28,000 and a new car, Pat joked that it was reluctantly (or something akin), that he had to award him the prize.

Ah, never a dull moment with him in the mix. As the dust settles in his wake, we are preparing for the opening of Saturday Market in just a few short days. I received a phone call from a fellow vendor, Flame Wrangler, with an amusing story to tell.

A woman walked into her booth wearing a pair of our earrings. Flame Wrangler commented on them and the lady’s hand instinctively moved to feel which pair. “Oh, I just love Cinderella Lucinda’s earrings, but I’m disappointed with her.”

What?! I can imagine my friend’s ears perking up, I mean, who doesn’t love a bit of gossip or scandal?

“Yeah,” the woman continued, encouraged by my friend to spill. “I can’t believe she left her husband. I mean, he was so nice to her, he seemed to like her so much and treat her well. I don’t know about this new guy she’s hooked up with. He’s quiet and I haven’t talked to him yet. Why do you think she did that?”

Flame Wrangler started laughing. “No no no, let me set the record straight,” she said. “That IS her husband. She’s still married to the same man. He just lost a bunch of weight.”

Oh My Goodness! In Groom’s journey of losing 100 pounds since I met him, it never occurred to me that someone might think he was a completely different person. This mystery customer (we have no idea who she is), saw what she believed was a new man hanging out with me. Without any facts, she made up an entire story in her mind about me leaving Groom and taking up with a new beau. I am relieved that Flame Wrangler was able to tell her differently. Thank you!

Of course, the lowest part of my week, the stuff that has me dancing with anger and feelings of powerlessness, has to do with a friend that I care deeply about, but out of loyalty, I shan’t share. If you are reading this, I love you.

Even though I will not divulge the personal details of someone else’s life, suffice it to say, the circumstances had me revved up on her behalf. So I went to Roller derby.

Yeah, baby. I wanted to kick some booty, but, alas, I am too chicken. So the next best thing? Witness some girl-on-girl catfights. I needed to channel some tough feminine energy and with names like The Skatesaphrenics, Raggedy Annhilation, Juju Doll and Monster Monroe, I felt confident the Riots of Spring thrash-n-bash was the place to be. Hey, I even gave myself a moniker…Zolorella!

Now, I had never been to Roller derby before and know nothing about it, so if any of you are fans out there, just beware that I had expectations wrapped in ignorance. I thought it might be a crash and burn evening filled with Wayne Gretzky-esque ice hockey elbow-in-the-teeth action, some obvious bad sport tripping resulting in good pile-ups on the derby freeway, a bit of rough and tumble, slammin’ jammin’ elbow/knee pad fun.

But actually, without knowing the subtleties of the sport, it looked to me like a bunch of girls skating around and around and around and around in a circle. There were almost as many referees in black and white on the rink as there were roller girls in short skirts and colorful fishnet stockings.

Instead of mayhem, broken teeth and bloody snoots, there were shrill whistles to signal time-outs and lots of hand waving in the direction of the star helmeted lead girl or “jammer.” And even more polite yes ma’ams, and oh pardons, would you like to pass? Well, certainly, go ahead. Thank you. You’re welcome.

I want this politeness and mannerly behavior in my real life, in parking lots and grocery stores, and in the bleachers for crying out loud, not on the rink!

Oh, my injury? My sore shoulder that I’ve been nursing for the past four days? Well, I did get hurt at roller derby. It was just by a clumsy fan in the stands. As he descended the narrow bleachers (aargh, we were packed inna there like-a saradinas), he kicked my shoulder with his big boot while aiming for a place to step. He didn’t even say “excuse me,” or anything, just left a big nasty bruise. Ah well, he gifted me with an opening line for this week’s entry.

As for the photographs this time, we have placed them in pairs. One in each set was taken by Groom (yes, the original!) and the other by moi. To enlarge for better detail, especially for the one that says “urban,” (did you notice the precious little shoot growing out of the curved grate?), simply click on the picture, then hit the back arrow to return to the blog.

After all these months, it never ceases to amuse us that we take similar shots, but the perspective is different. In every pair, except for the roller derby (you can see him standing in line), Groom’s are the first in the set and mine are the second. For example, Groom chose to get close and personal with the camellia while I was paying attention to its petals on the sidewalk. He shot a moon by night, I noticed one in the day.

My favorite example is the statue of the boy balancing on one arm with an eagle on his foot. Same day, same moment, different angle. Or the rocking horse. From one viewpoint, the horse is positioned in front of a bush and a wooden picket fence. Without the horse moving, the second photo reveals the background has shifted to wooden shingles and green bricks.

Isn’t that the way in life? Everyone of us is right in our own perspective, yet I have to keep in mind, the picture is always different through the lens of another.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dainty Cuss

Oh happy happy joy joy, it’s officially Spring!

I can’t believe it. Exactly one year ago today, Groom and I were flying home from Japan, having spent two weeks retracing steps of an important journey I made years before. It was a dream come true to take Groom in hand and show him traces of my past.

In our modern culture, it is hip to express oneself through the art of tattoo, but mine are on the inside. I might have been born in the USA, but parts of me are definitely “Made in Japan.” That country has made indelible marks on me, and if I could peel back the layers, you’d see my interior embossed with cherry blossoms, the walls of my heart decorated with temple pagodas, the smell of aged wood and incense buried deep within.

A bittersweet moment was making the sojourn to one of my dearest friend’s grave. The Japanese have a single word to encompass the entire concept called Ohakamairi. It means to visit someone’s grave, to clean it, honor the person’s memory, light candles and incense, and pay one’s respects. Of course, it takes a string of English words to convey a similar meaning, but using one word or many, we made it to his temporal resting place on the 15th anniversary of his death.

I’ve thought of him every one of those days and I still miss him like crazy.

It was a calm spring day as we made the climb up the hill to his tombstone, the sun starting to show its muscle after a wintry rest. As we said our greetings, the wind suddenly kicked up, enough to catch a pile of leaves on fire from the incense ritual.

Interaction with the elements: Earth as in dust-to-dust. Water, I cried an ocean. Fire, spontaneous combustion. And Air. Something knew we were there and I found comfort that his reply arrived on the wind. When we finally said our goodbyes, the wind died down and it became hot and calm as before. Goosebumps.

It is now one year later, and the 16th anniversary of his leaving me behind (yes, I’ve taken his death quite personally), coincided with an especially bad moon-cycle. Aaargh, those nasty hormonal cocktails that the bartender in the sky uses to unleash March Madness.

So it was with prickly nerves that I made a little pre-production drama out of getting up to read my Oscar Wilde material at Poetry Night in Cottage Grove on Tuesday. The theme was “Irish/Green” and I took that directive quite seriously. I duded up in a Kelly-green wig and spent too much energy trying to memorize the whole thing, which served me not at all, because when I finally took the stage in front of the authentic 1970’s psychedelic lightshow, I just read the darmn thing and nobody knew the difference.

And had I only known. The poetry class from the University got wind of it and their professor was giving extra credit to anyone enrolled who would get up and read their original works. Well, first of all, only one other person bothered to dress up at all, and that would be Kimmmm, naturally. She designed a make you weak in the knees outfit that should have gotten air time at the Fashion Show, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

At 7 o’clock, as I was trying not to hyperventilate before my performance, I looked around at the crowd, or should I say, at the sea of flannel. The first poet of the night was a young girl, ever so casually dressed, who shlepped up to the front of the room, took her time ascending the mini-flight of stairs, and then made us wait (and wait) as she thumbed through her notebook, stopping every once in a while to mumble one of her scribbles. Completely monotone, none of us understood what she was saying. I don’t mean we didn’t “get her poetry,” I mean, it was just a jumble of microphone cack.

The second person dressed neither in green nor mentioned anything Irish. She read an uplifting tome about cancer and the burn of chemo. Great, ‘cause next it was me in my stripey stockings, steampunk goggles and giggles pertaining to Oscar Wilde’s emasculated tomb and then a limerick which went like this:

A limerick packs laughs anatomical
Into space that is quite economical.
But the good ones I've seen
So seldom are clean
And the clean ones so seldom are comical.

Then one of the extra-credit slam poets tossed off this line which I appreciated.

“No one can make you feel less,
You have something to address.”

Oh boy, seems like I’m always having something to address…

Kimmmm, in her crazy wild outfit, did her impression of a recording of William Butler Yeats, and my favorite take-away phrase from the evening was “Dainty Cuss.” I think that’s a great description. I told Zolo, who also got up to read two of his originals, that he and I were dainty cusses.

As if one trip in a week to Cabbage Groove wasn’t enough, Groom and I returned Friday night to witness the 4th annual Paradise Fashion Show at Centro del Sol with Kimmmm. We sat front and center, believing our choice of seats would provide ample opportunity to capture couture shots just like real fashion paparazzi. Ha! As you can see, I’ve got a lot to learn.

The models walked the gray catwalk and climbed a few stairs to a higher level, took a spin, and then walked back down. I did my best to represent, but this is what my camera angle managed to reveal. And when I told a few folks what I did over the weekend, the common response was, “Fashion? Cottage Grove? Aren’t those words mutually incompatible?” Well, I’ll let you be the judge of that. (For Kimmmm's photo take on the evening, visit her Flickr page: )

On a final note, several of you have asked what song I sang at Karaoke when I did my stretch goal. Ah, it was Shania Twain’s Still the One. I sang it to Groom and it’s a love song about a couple who have been together for a long time and lo, after all these years,

“You're still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You're the one I want for life

You're still the one that I love
The only one I dream of
You're still the one I kiss good night”

Well, some might consider that a romantic gesture, which was my intention, but as I described, it came out more like a comedy bit.

Yesterday, a street guy begging change told me I dropped something. I stopped and looked back, just in case. He said, “You dropped your smile, don’t step on it.”

To recap, my week has been filled with Japanese memories, the color green, a bit O’ the Irish, hormonal angst, dramedy, comedy, the Vernal Equinox, dainty cusses and smile-stepping fashion.

Oh, and in case you forgot, you can always click on any photo to enlarge, then just hit the back button to return to the blog. Did you notice in photo #2, the one with the statues having their own fashion show, that somewhere hidden in the fabric, it says, "Made in Japan?"


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Court Jester Sings

Top O’ the Morning to you! We’re happy to report that we’ve just concluded a term’s worth of jewelry classes and even happier to mention that we attended every single one. Can’t say the same when we were enrolled at the University the first time around…

The other cool thing to tell you is that we finally finished the basement project! Ho boy, anybody who has clutter, whether it is locked away from sight in the attic, stuffed into a closet, or banished to the basement, knows how thrilling it is to get it all organized.

The problem for us is that we do our best to keep our house, where we also make jewelry for a living, relatively chaos-free (remember last week when my mom said my control issues “revolve around maintaining control of my personal space and not people?”). Well, not only do I come from a long line of Drama Queens, but part of my inheritance also includes pack-ratting.

I fight it tooth and nail. So while the main part of the house reflects that victory, the basement reveals the ugly truth. It has been a repository for all the minutiae we didn’t know what to with in the first place. I mean, how smart is that? By the time circumstances required us to dig ourselves out of the pile of overwhelming clutter, we must face the mountain of stuff all at once. If we didn’t know what to do with each item as an individual piece, how are we expected to excavate en masse?

Long story short, we pushed up our shirt sleeves and have been very motivated to set up our studio. So I guess the trick is to have a compelling enough reason to overcome the inertia and quit wasting valuable energy resisting the mess and just dive in. It didn’t take as long as we feared and the extraordinary thing was, even as we expended a ton of physical energy hefting and toting and sorting, with each thing we discarded or gave away, our energy returned to us many fold. My mother highly recommends a website called for the clutter-whelmed.
On Monday, Brother-In-Law, who is a professional contractor, came over and helped Groom install a ventilation system, so we are now ready to rock and roll our new designs.

Eeek, and that’s where I’m having a little melt down. I have spent the last three months inspired and totally wired to get my hands into some different materials and practice my new metalsmithing skills. I’ve attended classes, researched and ordered new supplies and equipment, faced my mountain of mierde, lost many nights sleep to inspired ideas, and yet…

And yet, now that I have everything I need (I think, although there is always one more tool, one more required item) to get started, I am immobilized, paralyzed, staring at our new studio set up and not knowing what to do.

As the Art Fair results are starting to come in, we have stock to make! I would feel pressured if we were simply doing what we’ve always done, but to throw in the unknown, gulp, I’m feeling suddenly blank. There were endless ideas taunting me when I didn’t have the means to try them, and now that I do, they have disappeared and I’m feeling a little panicky.

Speaking of feeling a little panicky, I had an opportunity to channel a bit of that angst Friday night. Last week, I wrote about going to karaoke to support a friend doing a stretch goal. I love stretch goals. Of course, they are more fun for me when they are someone else’s, but I recognize their value and so I also do new things to keep my comfort zone pliable. It’s shockingly easy to become rigid in our beliefs. We hold mental images of ourselves as to the kind of people we are, what we are capable of. And for most of us, the images are far too small and limiting. “Being shy keeps you from your destiny.”

When our friend called us, asking for our support to sing, the first thing I said was, “Don’t expect me to get up there, I don’t sing, much less in public.” End of story. Or was it?

Watching all the other people grab the mike and underwhelm us, I began to consider, why were they more courageous than me? Many lacked stage presence, others could barely hold a tune, yet they managed their fears enough to get up and make an effort to entertain.

All last week I pondered. Could I ever do it? Could I get up in front of people and sing, knowing full well that I was not blessed with a pleasing voice? Could I stand up in front of a crowd and squeak out a tone-deaf rendition? The queer thing is, I am not tone-deaf, but my voice is and the worst insult the American Idol judges can bestow a contestant is to say, “That was like a karaoke performance.”

Okay, let me just tell you, that would be high praise indeed pour moi. Mine was like a very bad karaoke performance. I completely blew the first line, missing it entirely. So I jumped in on the second line and the crowd, who had been laughing and drinking seconds before, came to a screeching halt. Well, I might have been the one screeching, but they were definitely the ones doing the halt. It got silent.

No no no no no!! They were supposed to continue ignoring the singers, talking amongst themselves, laughing overmuch and creating a soothing din. They were NOT supposed to stop and listen. I was facing them and they were looking at me, well, there’s no other way to say it, rather shellshocked.

The people at the front table were actually giggling, okay, laughing. At me, not with me. Oh golly, I was so thankful I had worn my deodorant, because I was making man-sweat. When I’m by myself, say, in the shower, I might have fun belting out some tune or another, but even in my least self-conscious moment, my voice is not strong, kinda wobbly. Put me in front of a packed house, and here’s the kicker, SOBER, it comes out downright shaky. Eeeee gads.

When I finished, the room gave me a hearty round of applause, but me thinks that was because my performance was over, and not a reward for a job well done. One friend, said, “Ooooooh,” kind of in the same tone one might say upon seeing a badly scraped wound.

Groom just looked at me, smiled and shrugged, then gave me a hug. An enthusiastic friend did her best to point out all the things I did right. She told me that many people would have been permanently thrown if they’d missed the first line, but I recovered quickly and jumped right in. She said I smiled, gave the crowd eye-contact and moved my body in rhythm to the music. Her best compliment was that I did not look “D.D.” er, um “developmentally disabled.”

Really? That’s my best review? “She did not look developmentally disabled.” I’m sitting here by myself at the computer and I cannot type because I’m laughing so hard through the tears.

So to answer the question, can I get up in front of a crowd and make a fool out of myself? Why yes I can, and quite effortlessly, it would seem. I told you last week, part Queen, part court jester.

And as if that wasn’t enough, tonight I’m supposed to recite Irish-themed poetry in Cabbage Groove. In a green wig. And maybe a tiara?

Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!