Bay's Travel Blog

I don't travel much any more. Resist!

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The best things in life are free

The best things in life are free, like sunsets and time spent playing with toddlers or puppies. So I guess this card isn't a "best thing." That's OK. I like it, anyway.

I read an account of someone else's audition for the game show in Indianapolis, and their video interview sounded so much more pleasant and personable than mine was. It's disconcerting. I always did well at interviews and auditions. I'm Southern, after all. We're practically raised knowing how to converse in a lively and entertaining manner.

Not long after my high school class began planning its 20th reunion (and before it all fell apart and then fell into my inept lap for the organizing thereof), I became friends with a fellow whom I had barely known when we were actually in the same high school together. Krum was popular and well-liked. I think he might even have been respected. I know that there were three girls in the theatre department who adored him avidly and desperately wanted to garner his attention.

But I really didn't know him well until five years ago.

And I'll be honest: Krum is not someone that you would suspect would be my friend. He's very logical and reasonable; he's extremely conservative, both in religion and politics. He's an extrovert who absolutely doesn't understand introverts. Krum is sporty and athletic. He can espouse the virtues of team sports as if he really believes playing a game with 10 other people can make a person a better person. And he has never once been in a play, sung a solo, or picked violets to wrap in a ribbon.

Sometimes, emailing back and forth with Krum was a little bit like learning to speak a foreign language without benefit of a textbook or an audio lab.

But there were benefits to getting to know him. For one thing, he remembered events from a completely different perspective.

Krum attended a dinner with me (and a group of other high school seniors) at the home of the town's most prominent lawyer shortly before graduation in the spring of 1984. I do remember the event, somehow. I knew the lawyer and his wife from church, but I had never been inside their home. The invitation to dinner was an honor reserved for seniors who -- well, honestly, I don't know how or why we ended up on the invitation list. Neither the valedictorian nor the salutatorian were there. But a bunch of the rest of us "leaders" were.

So we were talking about that dinner, and Krum piped up with a description of the attendees, all hunched together at one end of the table, while I sat at the other end with the adults and conversed about politics and art.

And then I started trying to draw my schoolmates into the conversation. "Oh, Mrs. Higgins, your collection of Depression glass is glorious. You should see Darla's mother's collection. It's just sublime. Darla, tell Mrs. Higgins about your favorite pieces!" And Darla stared at me because she couldn't care less about her mother's fabulous Fostoria collection, which even my mother envied, and Mama's thing was art pottery, not glass. Not so much glass. But c'mon, you'd have to be crazy not to love pink Fostoria glass things!

Then I tried to pull some other senior into the conversation, and I definitely remember the look of stunned fear when I said his name. Oh, my, goodness gracious -- I promise his jaw was agape!

And that's the way the evening went. On my end of the things, I could not for the life of me understand why these other teenagers were so silent and sullen, or why some of them looked fearful or lost, while I sat there trying desperately to keep the conversation from flagging at the end with the old people. I mean, come on, those people were actual blue-hairs! How could they possibly out-talk the cheerful extroverts I saw in school every day?

Krum told me all about it from his perspective. He said he sat there trying to dine without spilling anything on his tie, while I held the adults enthralled with my talk of collectible crap and theatre stories. I must have been telling the clean stories. I don't think I would've talked about what goes on in the costume closet. At a nice dinner. No, I don't *think* I would have done *that*.

But Mama raised me to be able to converse nicely. I didn't think about it; I just did it.

So if I had that experience in my background -- really well established in my psyche, really -- how could I so mess up at an audition that was far more important than a random dinner for graduating seniors?

Oh, well. At least I have sunsets, a puppy, a lot of cardstock and inks, and my health. The best things in life might not be free, but it's definitely cheaper to appreciate what I do have than it is to try to buy what I don't have.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Plaid. Not Plaid.

A week and a half ago, I went to Nashville, stayed in a really nice hotel, didn't sleep much, and went to a hot hotel ballroom at 5:40 in the morning just so I could try out for a game show. I passed the really hard test. This is the second time I've taken such a test, and I have been surprised both times at my non-failure.

Then I waited around for hours, had a great screening interview, and bombed the second, more important audition on video. Eh. C'est la vie.

I'm still holding out a mild snippet of hope to make it onto the game show. Maybe the producers will find me representative of a demographic that they really want on the TV screen. I'm hoping that I am the perfect chubby middle-aged housewife who really doesn't belong on a quiz show but makes it, anyway.

A friend of mine was also in Nashville at the audition, and he has been keeping in touch to see if I get the dreaded sad postcard or the fabulous happy postcard. ("Happy postcard" means you're in the contestant pool; "sad postcard" means they don't want you.)

In a recent note, he called my outfit "plaid."

Now, I don't have trouble with plaid. It's fine for a number of interesting occasions, like chopping down trees and dancing Scottish jigs. I once saw a plaid ballgown on Project Runway that was really good for inducing vomiting, just in case you accidentally ingested some poison.

But I wouldn't wear plaid to an audition. It's not appropriate for my frilly personality.

So this entire post exists just so I can put a scan of my audition blouse on the blog and ask, "Would you, in a million years, ever call that pattern 'plaid'?" Maybe he meant "paisley." Both "paisley" and "plaid" start with the letter "p." Maybe that's what happened. Even though he used the word "plaid" more than once. He's incredibly brilliant and has much more important things rattling around in his head than the names of various kinds of decorative prints.

Can I wear that same blouse if I make it to TV? And if I do, will you all comment on my pretty paisley print?

Thank you for listening to me kvetch and obsess. Y'all are nice blog readers. Now I believe I shall go shopping for some lumberjack gear.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Home sweet home

After dinner, while Wesley was watching the end of a movie I had already seen, I took little Doris Daylily for a long walk. The evening was gorgeous; the weather was cool and dry, and I didn't have my camera with me. I substituted a photo from last June. Pretty, huh?

I love the boonies.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Resume the résumé

I don't like writing résumés. I don't know anyone who does. Writing a résumé automatically means you are looking for a job, and looking for a job usually means some kind of need for a job.

I have a crazy job history. When I was a senior in high school, I was the weekend receptionist at a museum in a town so small that no one ever came into the museum on weekends. I memorized the exhibits in a month, and then spent the rest of my year of weekends practicing my typing, studying, listening to the radio, and sometimes -- yes, really -- I stretched out on a wooden church pew and napped.

I was a camp counselor during my college summers. I taught archery and directed little plays based on fairy tales from the Red Fairy Book. I wrote and directed the end-of-summer productions -- people, I'm telling you that I re-wrote and directed both Snow White and The Wizard of Oz -- as water ballets. Starring more than 70 little girls. And being watched by 140 rabid parents. People cried. I'm just sayin'. Is all.

College was a trying time. I worked in an eyeglasses store for two weeks. I sold women's clothing for a couple of weeks. (I never understood the rule that said we had to wear heels to work. Heels? Seriously?) I was a substitute teacher for a while. Much beloved by employed teachers, because I was certified. But still. Substitute. Teacher.

I once worked for a landscaping company that did the gardens of the Rich & Elite in Knoxville. For two and a half weeks, I got to pull weeds and prune tea roses behind some of the nicest mansions in town. And I found out that rich people really do not want the hired help peeing in their guest bathrooms. It's so funny -- these are the same people who rush up to me after a play and tell me how much they enjoy my performances. But they surely didn't feel that way when I was keeping the other landscapers from uprooting their malva alcea fastigiata.

I sold my soul and worked for an ad agency. Won some awards. Started to hate myself and old friends. Bought career clothes that put me into debt and wore out the transmission of a Camry from trying to navigate crazy Knoxville traffic.

Then I was a temp. I think that was the best job I ever had. It was always interesting; I didn't have to play office politics, and I was good at it. And there was always light at the end of the tunnel. Every single client for whom I worked also offered me a permanent position at the end of my tempdom, but I declined as politely as I could. If I had worked any place as a regular thing for a long period of time, I think I would've driven my new-used Camry into a retaining wall eventually.

And let's not forget that I worked at the grocery store for a month. A whole month!!! I am shocked I made it that long. I've been a freelance writer, and a homeschooling rabblerouser (although no one paid me for it), and lately I've been selling my crafty wares at crafty fairs.

I don't think I can count my acting gigs as work. Oh, sure, they paid me. (Thank God!) But really, that's too easy to be called work. I should list that on a whole new section of my résumé under the heading "Luck."

So now I'm supposed to go out and find a new job. I went to college; I can type. I've been a clerical or assisting type employee before. I can write. I am tidy and at least moderately well-behaved most of the time. I'm not cute or young any more, and I'm wondering if that's going to have an effect on my interviews.

I was going to call this post "catharsis" and talk about how much I would really like to go off on a crying jag today and just get it all out of my system. Instead, I decided to play with my résumé and some nifty cardstock that was lying on my scrap table in the scanner. Today I'll play with the résumé. Tomorrow I'll ponder my place in the world.

Oh, and of course -- I'll celebrate my sister Amy's birthday! Happy birthday, Yamy! You don't look a day older than 29. I'm not kidding. At all.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Goat kids & hummingbirds

I do truly wish I had a photograph to accompany this post. Alas, I did not have my camera with me for either of the encounters that made my week tolerable.

In background, let me just say that Wesley was laid off from his job of 27 years and the last couple of weeks have been pretty darned awful. I briefly thought about starting a whole new blog to ignore, Bay's Tragedy Blog, but I decided I just can't concentrate on the crud that thoroughly.

Color me nutty; I just prefer to look on the bright side. Even when it's really hard to find that side.

Then two things happened to make me laugh out loud with delight, so I'm gonna blog about those fabulous events.

First, Wesley and I were at the foot clinic. (Wesley got laid off on a Wednesday night and he had bone spur surgery on Friday, and then he had an ingrown toenail fixed the next Friday, so we have spent the last of our employment-paid Blue Cross Blue Shield health insurance on the care and keeping of Wesley's delicate little size 12 EEE feet.)

While we were waiting for the numbing to take effect in Wesley's toe, the nurse was running around and asking the teenaged assistants exitedly, "Did you feed him yet?" The teenagers rolled their eyes and said that they would rather clean the biohazard baskets than feed him.

"Can't it wait 'til I've mopped the kitchen?"

"No, it can't wait! It's been three hours! He's starting to yell!"

Just as she said that, down the hall, I could hear a faint baa.

As the nurse and the teenagers (who turned out to be her ungrateful daughters, and boy, do I understand that family dynamic) argued over how long it would be before "he" was fed, the bleating down the hallway became more urgent and insistent, and we finally came to understand that the critter who needed feeding was a two-day-old kid named Wilbur.

And of course, when I say "kid," I mean the kind that is a baby goat.

The nurse had purchased two breeding does. The mother of this particular kid was apparently not cut out for motherhood, and she had stomped Wilbur's twin to death before the nurse got home from work a couple of days before.

Dang, and we thought it was impolite of Wesley's former employer to let him go in such a careless manner. I think I'm glad his plant manager wasn't a breeding goat.

I was clapping my hands together in delight ever time the baby goat bleated somewhere away from me, and the nurse said I could go pet him. I found him in the office kitchen with two irritated teenaged girls who had absolutely no appreciation for the cuteness of a kid that small. Wilbur was sooty black except for a snowy white blaze on his forehead, and he was bouncing around on stiff little furry legs and bleating merrily while licking anything that he ran into. While I stood there watching him and in the space of about five seconds, the things he licked included a metal doorframe, a wall, a table leg, the carpet, and one of the teenager's jeans-clad legs.

The other teenager sat cross-legged on the floor with a towel across her lap, and she grabbed the kid and tried to cram a bottle in his overeager mouth. While she complained at him that he was not bright, he finally latched on and started drinking, and his little eyes nearly closed in contentment.

Now, my mother would take in any orphaned animal and we raised more than our fair share of orphaned kittens and puppies, so I'm pretty well acquainted with the cuteness of a nursing animal. For a city girl. But this sooty kid, nursing so hard you couldn't see his freaky-weird rectangular pupils --

It was just disgustingly cute. I was enraptured. I don't recall ever seeing such a baby goat live and in person. I have seen plenty of bigger kids and oodles of mean adult goats, but a baby that size is nothing but pure cuteness. I want one. I want it now.

I did a little reading up on goats, and when I started to tell Wesley about them just yesterday, he exclaimed in a fair amount of dismay, "No! We're not getting a goat! We're not! I know you! You're going to do research today! In a year, you'll say you really want a goat! You'll do more research, and a year from then, we'll have a goat! That's what you do! I'm putting my foot down now! NO GOATS!!!!" Give me a year or two. I'll wear him down. That's what I do. Besides, if you have a goat, you don't have to mow the yard so much. And Doris Daylily needs something to herd. I'm just sayin'. Is all.

The second really disgustingly fabulous thing that happened to me during this otherwise wretched week was that I cleaned out the hummingbird feeder yesterday. Oh, that's pretty normal. I clean it out and put in fresh nectar all summer long, after all.

But yesterday, when I went to hang it up, I put the loop over the hook and before I could let go of the bottle, a hummingbird zoomed right up to the feeder and started drinking. RIGHT THERE!!!! Right there next to my hand! Not a foot and a half from my face!!!! I was face-to-face with a thirsty little female ruby-throated hummingbird, and all she did was slurp nectar from the feeder!

I stood still and waited for her to finish dining, of course, and the whole time my entire brain was shrieking, "WHY DON'T I HAVE A VIDEO CAMERA TRAINED ON THIS FEEDER SO I COULD SEE THIS HAPPENING OVER AND OVER AGAIN?!?" Then I went to trying to silently will my family to walk outside with a camera so that they could see that I was four inches from a blind and oblivious hummingbird.

It reminded me of an old joke about a golfer who skipped church to play golf. God paid him back by giving him a hole-in-one... without a single witness.

That's how I felt yesterday.

On the other hand, I'll always have the memory of that hummingbird so close to me that I could see her little cheeks puffing with every slurp of nectar.

So those little things are why I've not taken to a fainting couch with a bottle of smelling salts. We'll get through this. Somehow. And as long as there are nice things to appreciate, like fluffy little baby farm animals and oblivious fowl, then I won't be bored on our way to happiness.