Category Archives: self-centred

Frankenstein

I’m cradling a cup of tea in my hands (in between typing) but I’m afraid to drink it. I think I have to wait until it’s lukewarm, and I hate lukewarm tea. I’m looking at a sheet of instructions that tell me “do NOT spit, floss, rinse, chew hard food, sticky food, consume hot food or drink, drink through a straw…” and wondering how this is meant to work.

I’ve taken a sip. It’s not too hot but it’s a little warmer than lukewarm. I think it’ll be okay.

The inside of my mouth looks like Frankenstein’s monster. I got home at 11:00 but it took me two hours to look in the mirror because I didn’t want to see it. I had a periodontal procedure. If you don’t want to know any more, skip the next paragraph, where I will describe it at your peril.

I had a gum graft, which means they take some tissue from the roof of your mouth and sew it on to the bottom of your teeth where you should have gum but you don’t because your gums and or teeth are stupid and useless. They did it on four bottom teeth in a row, because for some reason that may or may not be related to my orthodontic work as a teenager, the gum there was eroding badly.

It was a “simple” procedure that took an hour in the chair and only a few more injections than your basic filling. It didn’t hurt, really, but it was awkward and uncomfortable and icky and I’m glad it’s over. Now I have three different sets of pills (anti-inflammatories, painkillers, and antibiotics) and a follow-up for next week, and I’ll be getting a fancy night guard so that I don’t push my teeth out of alignment again. I’m hoping this lasts until I’m 90 so I don’t have to worry about it again. Maybe 100.

Anyway, I’m sure you didn’t want to know that, but that’s what’s on my mind so that’s what you got.

Another thing on my mind is Saturday’s march. I really don’t give a crap about Friday’s inauguration, since it’s happening and I can’t stop it so I’m just going to ignore it. La la laaaaa. Don’t feed the troll by paying attention to him. That’s what he thrives on. But the next day there’s this big march you may have heard of planned for downtown DC. A lot of people are planning to go. Even people who don’t live here are moving heaven and earth to be there.

I’m a woman. I live within spitting distance of Washington DC. I certainly disagree with Trump’s presidency and all he stands for. But I don’t want to go.

That’s my gut reaction. I’m not usually overly crowd-phobic, but the idea of all those throngs of people just sets off my internal alarm bells. And someone on the radio this morning helped me figure out why else it is that I have the don’ wannas about this: it’s not the end. It’s as if many people have focused on this march as an end in itself: but for one thing, its aims are sort of fuzzy and nonspecific – to show Donald just how many people will show up to let him know they don’t like him; way more than will have shown up the day before to say they do – and for another, January 21st is not the end. It’s the beginning. Maybe I think I should save my energy for the four years to come. Maybe I think I should do something more concrete than going out and walking around to show my displeasure.

Maybe I’m just lazy; that’s always an option. Since I’m right here beside DC, I practically feel like I’m as good as there whether I go or not. I feel guilty about not wanting to go, but I’m not going to go just to stop myself feeling guilty.

Anyway, that’s where I am. And where I’m not. Pass the ice cream.

Just another day

Today is my birthday. Forty-three is okay, I’m here to tell you. It’s not significant – it’s neither a new decade nor a new demographic bracket. It’s practically the same as 42, but with fewer Douglas Adams quotes. I feel about 37, which is a nice age to feel, and I look… oh, I have no idea what age I look. Let’s not worry about that. It’s irrelevant, because I’m on the inside, not the outside.

Anyway, right now I don’t have any deep thoughts about another passage around the earth. I feel like I should just enjoy what I’ve got because this is the youngest I’m going to be, and anyway, age is meaningless, it’s what you do, and who you do it with, that matters.

That said, right now I’m on my laptop writing a blog post while each of my children stare at another device and I slowly try to convince them that we should go for a picnic in the park. The weather’s beautiful after a very hot, humid, day yesterday and big thunderstorms last night.

….

Wildflowers in yellow, blue, and some red

Enthusiasm for the picnic has dwindled to an all-time low (that is, the one child who was vaguely up for it is no longer) but now one of them is making things with sticks (and magnets and batteries, causing me to mutter things like “Don’t electrocute yourself” and “Don’t short out the house”) so that’s a step forward. I suppose.

I always feel compelled if not to have my best possible day on my birthday – because that’s beyond my control – to at least be my best possible self. Even if I’m doing the laundry and making my own cake, there’s a spring in my step and I’m all whatserface Amy Adams in Enchanted, flitting around domestically and imagining woodland animals (less of the vermin, thank you) helping me with my work.

….

That was then. Now my kids are fighting, I have nothing nice for lunch, I can’t get a babysitter for the weekend, Wednesday’s the worst day for a birthday (well, Tuesday isn’t great either), and apparently if I ever want fresh air and exercise for myself this summer I’ll have to to outside and walk up and down our street because nobody’s leaving the house ever. Even to please me on my birthday. Maybe I have to bribe them with ice cream but to be honest I’m not sure if even that’ll work.

I have a cake to make, because if not me, who; and this evening is Dash’s baseball playoff which willen haven been the final if they win, or the penultimate game of the championship if they lose, because it’s the best of three and they won the first.

Mabel sitting on a rock looking at the water

…..

In conclusion, it being my birthday doesn’t stop it from being a perfectly ordinary day. It never really does.

Children on a wooded trail

Postscript:
We went for the walk. It was lovely. I bribed them with ice cream.

Mabel with her ice cream

That was lovely too.

Dash enjoying a cone

Only slightly bonkers

Most of the time I do a pretty good job of looking like a sane, fairly well-balanced individual. But every now and then something happens upon which I look back a few weeks later and think “Well, clearly, I was not entirely mentally stable just then.” It would be nice if I could recognize that I’m being a little bonkers at the time, but at least noticing it later is a start, right?

So it appears that every time I go to Ireland I fixate on something that I need, because that thing will
(a) make me look like a normal Irish person, not an American
(b) make me look really great, because when you see people you haven’t seen in ages you want them to think you’re looking fabulous
(c) signal that I have a good life and am happy even though I live far away
(d) magically make me look ten years younger, to prove that parenting hasn’t made me middle-aged and frumpy

(Stop the presses: It’s time that’s made me middle-aged. Parenting was just along for the ride.)

Sometimes I obsess over having the right jeans, sometimes I need new shoes, and sometimes, in a move that’s particularly bad for my bank balance, I just have to get a new pair of glasses because the old ones are horrible and the perfect frames will make me look so much better and then everyone will say “Didn’t Maud look great?” and “I liked her glasses” and “Yes, very on fleek” and … right? That’s my life, right? I say “on fleek” non-ironically and so do my friends.

This time it was glasses. Two weeks before I left I found myself in the glasses store, practically on impulse, browsing the frames. I wasn’t exactly due a new pair, but one arm kept coming off the ones I had, and had been glued three times now. (Three is the magic number, right?) I had planned ahead enough to call my previous optician and find that it was a little less than two years since my last test, so my prescription was still valid, and I had a copy of it with me. I had experienced buyer’s remorse with those glasses almost as soon as I had them: I felt they were too heavy-looking and too dark and generally just not nice enough. I vowed to fix that this time.

I found a pair of frames that were everything I wanted. The saleslady agreed that they were the perfect choice, gave me a big discount, and didn’t even try to upsell me on anything. I had to ask for the thinner lenses and the transitions coating.

I spent an impatient ten days convinced that my life would be perfect as soon as my new glasses arrived. I would look in the mirror at the face of a modern, savvy, attractive, grown-up woman; neither sad fashion victim nor tragically trapped in the last decade. I would probably look exactly like Kate Winslet when she put her glasses on at the Oscars. Only not blonde.

Then my glasses arrived, just a couple of days before I flew to Ireland. The nick of time, I thought. I couldn’t possibly go to Ireland in the same old glasses I had last summer: everyone would notice. I picked them up with Mabel in tow. Mabel was not impressed with my new look. I told her she could look somewhere else, then. She demanded that I put my old glasses back on. I put my old glasses in the case and walked out with my shiny new glasses on my nose, dragging a recalcitrant Mabel before she did something terrible, having had barely a chance to see what I looked like.

When I got home I looked in the mirror. Where was the elegant modern woman I had seen when I selected the frames? This was just my same old (and getting older) face again, behind a different pair of glasses.

It’s always going to be my face. It’s always going to be me inside. Nobody else actually notices the extraneous details much, they just see me, and they’re happy to see me because they’re my family and my friends.

Remind me of this next time, okay?

Colourful Maud with new glasses

Everything looks better in thermal-camera mode, right?

 

Good for nothing

With the new year comes the existential angst, apparently. And after that, the smaller-picture, what-am-I-doing, am-I-getting-anywhere angst. So now I’m both worrying about how we’ll sustain our entirely modern-life dependent lifestyle when the apocalypse comes and also what I’ll do when the agent turns me down (or just never comes back to me) and I have to get a real job.

And I have many criteria for a job, at this advanced stage in my life. No Doublemeat Palace for me. (Sorry; we’re re-watching Buffy.) For instance, my requirements include but are not limited to the following:

  • I only want to work when the kids are at school so I don’t have to arrange complicated and expensive childcare.
  • I also have to have enough time and flexibility to do the shopping, bring children to dentist appointments, attend parent-teacher conferences, be able to drop everything if one of them is sick, and not work school holidays because my poor snowflakes can’t be banished to camp all summer.
  • I would like to work from home, because commuting is just wasted time and I am busy and important and need to maximize my synergies. And also leverage them. Going forward.
  • Or I could work very locally, I suppose, if some sort of job would just come and plant itself on my doorstep, figuratively speaking. Somewhere in the radius of between my house and the kids’ schools.
  • I want to use my talents, not just do any old thing. I have many talents: I’m good at baking muffins. I can alphabetize things. I know all the words to many songs and can sing in tune if I’m in the middle of a lot of other people singing the same thing. I can be polite and friendly (if I feel like it) and also write things down clearly. I type fsat and spell good. Also, I am hardworking and efficient, just not at housework.
  • I’m very lazy, so it can’t be too hard. Or too busy. Or at all pressured.
  • But I hate being bored at work because that’s a waste of time. So just busy enough would be ideal. Deadlines stress me out unless I have everything well in hand a good week in advance.
  • A former boss told me never to undervalue myself. So it has to be well paid. More than I’m earning right now, at least. More than I could hypothetically earn working at Starbucks or Target or somewhere. Because hypothetically I could work there any time I wanted.

You get the idea. Part of it is terror at the idea of jumping back into the workforce, part of it is the idea that I’m not qualified for any jobs in the greater Washington DC area, much of it is ennui at the notion of all the arranging that would have to happen in order for me to have a real job, and a whole lot of it is just fear of leaping.

It may be time to leap.

Telephonically

I never ever phone someone for a chat any more. Is that weird? That’s probably deeply weird. It’s possible that I’ve turned into the Sandra Bullock character from The Net, if anyone else even remembers that film. She hid away in her room and even ordered her pizza online, so she didn’t have to talk to people.

I order my pizza online too, but it’s a nice friendly website and I’m not sitting alone in a room lit only by computer screens when I do it, so I think that part’s okay. Also, I go out and pick up the pizza, so I do interact with the people at the pizza place.

But I don’t ring anyone up just to talk to them; except my parents, because they’re not so au fait with the internet and I do admit that there’s a certain level of intimacy that hearing someone’s voice achieves that seeing their words appear on a screen doesn’t. And my husband, I ring him up at work, but not so much for chats as for those “Please buy milk/beer/wine/biscuits” conversations that have to happen to prevent me needing to make a last minute dash to the shops with two children in the worst part of the day.

I could just ask him by e-mail or chat. Sometimes I do. But I don’t avoid ringing him up.

I do avoid ringing other people up. I’m okay with business calls, like scheduling a dentist’s appointment or something. I’ll put it off for a few days, but then I’ll just do it. But the idea of ringing a friend, randomly, at any time of day, seems uncivilized now. It feels very self-centred of me to assume that they want to talk to me, and that they can just drop everything and do that, whenever I choose to ring them. And if I leave a message and they ring me back, then they’re doing the same to me, and we could play phone tag for ever. So much more considerate to send an e-mail that they can read and respond to whenever it’s convenient for them. Also, then I don’t have to ring them.

My father never liked being at the beck and call of the telephone. This seemed to me a ridiculously old-fashioned objection back in the day – sure, wouldn’t you always be only delighted to chat to someone if they rang up wanting to talk to you. I wasn’t one of those teenagers who was always hogging the line, but I did ring friends for chats back then. Apparently since then, I’ve come full circle back to my dad’s point-of-view for a more modern reason – I prefer the convenience of the Internet for my interactions with friends.

Maybe it was because I moved to America that I stopped making phone calls. I called my parents, but I had nobody else to call, really. I could keep in touch with Irish friends by e-mail. With the time difference, it made more sense. Those who weren’t into e-mail, well, our friendships languished, sometimes. Some of them were easily picked up every time we went home; some weren’t. I didn’t have new American friends to call on the phone yet. I didn’t need to ring my boyfriend every night because I lived with him now. His friends and their girlfriends became my friends, but I didn’t ring them and they didn’t ring me. Then we moved, then we moved again. We had a baby. Somebody said we should join Facebook because that was how people kept in touch these days. I joined Facebook.

It was a bit of a momentous thing, now I think about it. I have more friends now than I ever did before, if by friends you mean anything from “people I have encountered on the Internet and seem cool” to “bloke I am married to”. I can hide the depths of my weirdness behind my quick quips on Facebook and nobody will ever know.

But if you’re my friend, don’t be offended if I never ring you for a chat, okay? I’m just bad that way.

Beauty blogger for a day: Barefaced beauty linky

Two days after Dash was born, I remember putting on makeup before I took him to his first doctor’s appointment. It was really important to me to do that, to signal to everyone (or maybe just to myself) that I was coping fine, that I could do this, that I wasn’t going under. That I was still the same person, just with added baby.

There are so many reasons to wear makeup, and lots of them have very little do do with how you look. That said, as time has gone on and I have become more dug into my SAHM life in my hippy-commune-like town, I wear less makeup than I used to: many days it’s a swipe of lipstick at most, and even when I push the boat out and wear more, I want to keep it as minimal looking as possible so nobody asks me if I have a job interview. (Seriously, in this town it is not unheard of for people to do the school run in pyjamas. It’s pretty much the antithesis of trying to impress at the school gate.)

Also, there’s the fact that when it’s 90 degrees and humid outside, anything I put on my face is liable to just slide off immediately. So summer makeup is even more minimal.

But Sinead started a linky, and I’m joining it. Because I do have makeup, and I do enjoy wearing it, from time to time if not every day. Without further ado, my makeup:

IMG_1062

I’ve really pared down my makeup collection in the last few years, and this is almost all I own, barring a few other crazy eyeshadows and a lot of fun nail varnishes. I could probably do with expanding it a little more in sensible directions… I’m learning a lot from the other posts in the linky, I tell you.

So it appears my tastes run to Maybelline plus a few expensive bits. I’m willing to splash out on a decent foundation if I can find one in extremely pale – I need a pink that’s blue-toned and not at all yellowy, which is hard to find. Especially in America; I usually have better luck finding something in Ireland.

Base:

I don’t wear BB cream every day, but I use it as a light base if I want to look a bit more polished. I mix it with moisturizer to make it go on more easily and because I’m paranoid about having a visible line where my foundation ends. And no matter what they claim about BB cream working for all skin tones, “light” is never anything like as light as I am. This is Maybelline Dream Fresh, which I read a couple of good review of back when BB creams were the new thing.

The Makeup For Ever compact is one of those powder base things that you can use alone or over something else, with a sponge or a brush. I had a lovely Prescriptives one that was a perfect shade, but I couldn’t find it again because Prescriptives is not a widely available brand here, and I had to get what I have now instead. I think it’s a tiny bit the wrong colour for me, but it’s okay.

The gold tube on the far right is my beloved Touche Eclat. I used to wear it all the time, but I hardly use it at all any more. Not because I don’t need it; more because it’s actually not a concealer, and because I feel it’s not blending in as well as I’d like it to. I think I need a better base, or a primer or something.

Eyes:
 
Minimal makeup for me is eyeliner on the top lid, mascara, and my new discovery of an eyebrow pencil. I think those in the picture are all Maybelline, in espresso and brownish black for the first two and “soft brown” for the third. In the last year or two I’ve discovered that the eyebrow hairs I’ve spent years plucking are finally not growing back (we shall not speak of the way they’re migrating to odd places like my upper lip instead), and I’m suddenly paranoid that I’ve overplucked and have a thin spot in the middle. So my eyebrow pencil is my new best friend and I need a new one because this is nearly gone. (I like the little brush at the end like a mascara wand for combing my eyebrows.) It probably makes no visible difference at all, but it makes me feel proactive in the matter of eyebrows.

If I’m going cuh-razy with the makeup, like for a moms’ night out or a theatre opening or something, I’ll put eyeliner on my bottom lid too and delve into the lovely Urban Decay Naked pallette I bought myself for my birthday last year. I stick to smokey browns, mostly, though I do have a chunky pencil in copper if I feel like some sparkle (not pictured).

Those are my eyeshadow brushes on the far left, because I love them, and the little black circle is Benefit Lemon Aid, which is a pretty good eyeshadow base, though in cold weather it’s a bit unyielding. I try to remember to use it.

Lips: 

I like a pinkish berry lip; darker in winter, lighter in summer.  The Revlon Just Bitten is bizarrely good: it’s like colouring your lips with a marker, but it stays on pretty well and there’s a lip balm at the other end. (This colour is called Twilight, though it’s not as dark as that sounds.) The lip pencil is Revlon too, ColorBurst Balm Stain in Honey, it says. I bought it because a blogger I like recommended it, and it does feel nice though I’m not convinced it lasts very well. I always try to have some colour on my lips before I leave the house, the better not to don’t frighten little children.

*****

Evidently, what I am missing is a primer, some real concealer, and some blusher. I was never very good with blusher, and bronzer is a joke for me; I’d rather look like myself, and myself is never bronzed. If you’ve any advice, have at it in the comments…

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 10.09.21 PM

 

New obsessions – late autumn edition

Fried eggs. One day last month Deb at Smitten Kitchen talked about crispy fried eggs, and I’m not sure I even made it to the end of the page before I was headed to the fridge. If it’s in the fridge, be it vegetable or carb, I will now put a fried egg on it and call it lunch.

Beet salad with fried egg on top

Boots. This is an old obsession, not a new one. Don’t tell my husband, but I own seven pairs of boots (if you include the snow boots from the thrift store and the hiking boots from about 1999). And I still need wellies. I was all set for boots this winter. I really really had no need for any boots. But then I got free money to spend at Target as a credit card reward, and I bought these. Because when the universe gives you free money, you have to spend it on something truly frivolous.

Ugg-like boots

Source: http://www.target.com/p/women-s-kamar-suede-shearling-boot/-/A-15310907#prodSlot=medium_1_24&term=womens+boots

The knitting thing shows little sign of abating. I’m starting socks, but I don’t know how that’s going to go. I’ve made fingerless mittens and finger-full mittens and hats and scarves and I have a sweater pattern pinned, though that seems a bit large. I just bought some crochet hooks too, in case of a snow-day emergency.

Knitted hats, scarves, mittens.

This is everything I’ve knitted, pretty much. Some things are in daily use; others were mostly experimental.

This stuff. If you find it, on no account should you buy it. Believe me.

The Snack Artist Sweet and Salty Chili Crunch

Note the empty bag.

Finally, three words to change your life: fleece-lined tights. I heard of these last year but they seemed esoteric. This year I found them easily and bought a pair for me and one for Mabel. No more complaining that it’s too cold for skirts or that her leggings are too thin. Genius.

What are you loving at the moment?

 

Smugly

Things that are giving me quite a degree of satisfaction these days, smug or otherwise:

– Since school started, I have been to two yoga classes and plonked down actual money to pay for nine more in advance, so I have to go. And they feel really good.

[I have no photo to go here. Imagine me looking fabulously strong and bendy.]

– I took some photos that were in the kids’ rooms in little frames that were always falling down and being off kilter, and put them in one big frame per child. It’s a ginormous improvement, even if I’m the only person in the house who appreciates this.

Two sets of framed baby photos

– My children clamour to hear Paula Abdul’s “Straight Up“, so we must be doing something right. (You’re welcome for the earworm, by the way.)

– Remember that scarf I diffidently began knitting during a brief rush of blood to the head in June? I’m still knitting it. I’m onto my second ball of yarn. I have never in my life knitted something this large, and the last time I knitted anything even approaching it was when I was 12. I really think I’m going to finish it.

long scarf, half knit–  I have new glasses. While my internal jury is still out on how much I love the frames (yes, I picked them, but I might have been momentarily deluded or something), being able to see through unscratched lenses is a wonderful novelty.

Me with new glasses and Dash

– I have advanced to the Finalists stage of the Blog Awards Ireland. This, as you might gather, is actually the final stage in a fairly interminable process, and I’m mightily chuffed to be here as I stopped at “Shortlisted” last year. My category is “Best Blog of the Irish Diaspora” and I’m up against a bunch of gorgeous, enticing, and beautifully written blogs. It’s truly an honour to be included in that group. It would be lovely to have the night out and an opportunity to wear a posh frock, but I don’t get to do that because, well, diaspora.

blog awards ireland

There are, no doubt, plenty of other things that are making me peeved rather than smug, but let’s stop there for today.

Jazz hands

It’s 12 noon. This is about the time when, last year and the year before, and three days a week the year before that, I would regretfully set the timer for 20 minutes so that I didn’t get lost in whatever I was doing and forget to go and pick Mabel up from school. (Because you know how it is, you finally get down to business and get absorbed in a task just when it’s time to leave.)

This year, at 12 noon, I usually do a little shimmy in the front room, with jazz hands*, and sing, in a vibrant if somewhat off-key contralto, a little melody with the lyrics “Three more hours!”

Which is to say, I’m quite enjoying this.

I said as much to my optician yesterday as she determined that the only thing in the way of my vision is all these scratches on my glasses, when she asked how the transition was going for me now that my baby is off to big school. She – recently married; no kids yet – probably thinks I’ve a heart of stone, but hey. As long as my kids are happy at school (and Mabel’s fine, she really is), I’m very happy to send them there. I’ve done my time with small children at home, and the truth is, I’m not really very good at it. That is, I can do it, but a lot of other things fall by the wayside.

(Right now, cleaning the house is still falling by the wayside, but shut up, I’m sure I’ll get to it in due course. I’ve been busy shimmying and jazz-hands-ing and contralting.)

I’m really bad at self-care, for instance, when I have small children in the house. There were about three years there when I barely managed to put on moisturizer before bed; you can imagine how often I went to the dentist. I can’t even make a phone call without my kids deciding now is the time to need mommy, so it was hard to schedule things, never mind actually leave the house without a constantly nursing baby.

I have nothing but admiration for those women who get things done and also have babies. I am not one of those women, but we all have our strengths. Soon I will do Very Useful Things with all these hours I have (when they stop inexplicably melting away as they seem to have done so many days of the past three weeks), but for now I’m indulging my introvert side and spending some quality time with myself. I deserve it.

 

*(I really want to put that animated gif in here, or this one, but I can’t figure out how and they’re probably copyrighted anyway, so please do just click over and enjoy for a second.)

Beginner’s luck

At the weekend I won a photography competition. Not since the great drama-exam drama of 1983 have I been party to such an upset.

The September I was ten, my ballet class moved to a time that was inconvenient, what with our habit of eating dinner and so on, and so my mother deemed that I should stop doing ballet and take up drama instead. Apparently I was a very malleable child, or perhaps I just wasn’t all that into ballet any more, because I took it pretty well and showed up at my new drama class ready to do whatever it was people did in drama. The teacher was a large woman given to wearing muumuus, who had a lot of bichon frise dogs, which is why I know a bichon frise when I see one. (Also a muumuu, but that episode of The Simpsons helped there too.) She was stridently West-Brit, and very hand-wavy, and pretty much exactly as you’d expect a drama teacher. She was, in fact, an institution.

The other kids in my class seemed to have taken up drama as toddlers, and to me they all appeared to be slightly posh, private-school girls (were there any boys? I don’t remember any) who had no need or inclination to befriend the unfashionable new girl. That was okay; so long as there was something we were meant to be doing, I didn’t need a friend particularly.

I really have no idea what it was we did in drama class. But I do remember the end-of-term exam with crystal clarity. I’d taken recorder exams and ballet exams, but this drama exam seemed particularly freeform. I was first up and had no idea what to expect. I went into the room alone (save for the examiner) and was asked to pretend I was an astronaut, I think. (“Crystal clear” may be an exagerration. Through a mottled glass vaguely, then.) With none of my peers in the room I didn’t bother with self-consciousness, and happily loped around in imitation of weightlessness, talking to myself about the hopes and fears of an astronaut, for the allotted minutes.

When everyone else was finished and the results were announced, I was astonished – and the rest of the class was probably pretty much disgusted – to hear that (while everyone had passed, I suppose) I, the newbie, had won the gold medal and come first.

I moved on to a different drama class the next term, with a smaller and more motley group, and we did a little thing from The Great Gatsby for a feis (that’s a competition). I was Jordan, and I had to wear a knitted sweater vest (tank top) over a shirt, and have a book under my arm. (Not a golf club. Hmm. I think they took some liberties with this dramatization.) We didn’t win. I think the group doing Lorca’s Blood Wedding did. It was very, well, dramatic.

So. To return to almost the present day, last year at the Labor Day Festival I looked at the photo show and thought “Hey, they need entries to fill up these displays. I could enter a picture next year.” And this year I did just that, with two photos I liked, which I went so far as to put into frames and get to the show in time. (That was really the hard part.) And my surprise was just about as great as it had been at the drama exam when I was informed that I had taken a blue ribbon in both my categories.

(I have to point out that judicious choice of categories went a long way here. There were only three entrants in one.)

I am no more a great photographer than I turned out to be a great actress. A creative type is not something I ever used to think of myself as being, but maybe my right brain has just been biding its time for a while.

Sometimes beginner’s luck gives you a boost just when you need it.

Framed photo of branch with ice on it

“Ice storm”

Framed photo of steps in Perugia

“Perugia, Italy”