Thursday, January 22, 2004

Who do you have to fuck to get a cup of tea and some chocolate biscuits around here?

Being that I have two papers rapidly approaching, I naturally have no inclination to write anything. (Not even here, really, which explains the brief hiatus.)

I've got one paper on the treatment of women in the poetry of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift and another on . . . well, I haven't chosen yet, but it's for art history and it will inevitably involve a Renaissance altarpeice of some variety. But, as I have no school on Fridays this quarter, I like to pretend that Thursday is my Friday and thusly, I prefer not to do a whole lot of work on Thursday. Friday I may spend the day slaving away at my computer and writing a hefty load of bollux.

For now, I adjourn to being mildly British and enjoying my cup of chai tea. Someone must find me biscuits.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

Sideshow Stevi

I've made a decision: no matter what other wonderful, fantastic things I do in my life (being an English teacher, winning a Pulitzer, and getting an Academy Nom for Original Screenplay . . . or Adapted, I don't care) I am going to become an expert on Carnival Sideshows.

And I am totally serious.

I have a fascination with Carnie folk. The way the live their rootless lives as American gypsies, the wandering minstrels of their era. The social acceptance of treating those with unique genetic anomilies as exhibits. The endurance of the freakshow tradition. The seemingly contradictory view that the freakshow allows an outlet for such genetic anomolies to "make a living just by being themselves." The silmultaneous rise of the burlesque show as both art and entertainment. It's all fascinating.

Almost as fascinating as genuine sideshow performers is the way a "gaff" is pulled off. Half the time, customers would never know if they were seeing the genuine article or a falsification. Siamese twins were "constructed" by carnival management because the condition is exceptionally rare, and having grown twins was even more of an anomily due to the low survival rates of such conjoined siblings during the heyday of the carnival era. Hermaphrodites were constructed using prosthetics. Parasitic twins (a half-formed twin attached somewhere on the abdomen to the host twin, essentially a failed attempted at the development of conjoined twins; parasitic twins have no brains or hearts but subsist on the bloodflow of the host twin, like an extra limb) were attached with simple paste and children's dolls. People added extra limbs the same way. (People born with so-called "extra limbs" are actually a subclassification of individuals born with parasitic twins, called dypigus, meaning that the lower half of the body is reduplicated. It's like having a parasitic twin, but having one that can actually function in a near-normal way.) Then there are the fake lycans. The fake bearded ladies. The faux mentalists. And so on.

The world of the carnival sideshow is so inherently intriguging because of the blurred lines between fiction and reality. It's a social world of the past. A form of entertainment that is no longer PC. By modern standards, it must be some violation of civil rights and liberties, though most carnival showfolk joined-up willingly. I like its inherent contradictions, its mysteries, its story.

The only thing that even comes close to being a carnival sideshow in our society, is probably reality TV.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

I Guess the Renaissance Really is Over.

The Northern California Renaissance Pleasure Faire has been closed permanantly. It's over. No more two hour drives from my house to Hollister. I feel like I've been kicked square in the chest. I spend four years collecting a great costume, each year promising myself some silly new accessory so that the outfit is never really complete and I always have a good excuse to spend a great deal of my hard earned money. ("But Mom, this year I promised myself a set of leather handcuffs and a new cat o' nine. That's why I spent 100 dollars at the faire!") This year I was finally going to get a tankard to put in the tankard strap I bought 4 years ago. I guess I'm not getting it from that faire.

I guess its a little silly to be this upset that the NorCal faire is gone. It's not like its the only one. (AND THANK GOD!) The Heart of the Forest Faire, I hear, is very lovely, and in the location that NorCal Faire used to be in the late 80's and early 90's. But NorCal faire was the big faire, and it was my faire. And it has all kinds of stupid sentimental value behind it. And for a few years, it was only 30 minutes from my house! I could always go to Faire then. But like I said, its not the only faire. I found out that Heart of the Forest Faire happens here in Santa Barbara, as well. And during Spring quarter, too! But there goes all the familiarity that I miss about NorCal Faire. There's always SoCal Faire, but that is a two hour drive I'd be making without my friends . . . or my crappy little un-Renaissance white Prizm.


I shouldn't be this crushed. But I am.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

Pool Sharks.

I am very bad at pool. Actually, we are all pretty bad at pool--Jen, Heather and I, I mean. In a bout of Saturday Night Boredom, we decided to drag Raffi along to play some pool in DeAnza. It was a fairly even match, considering the teams (me with Raffi, and my roommates against us). Even if only because we are all so terrifically bad at the game. Jen and I rarely sink any shots. I am known to scratch on breaks. Heather and Raffi are of much better skill . . . except for the scratches . . . or sinking shots for the other team. Our games last forever because none of us possess the simple abilities to execute the shots that we can clearly, through clever observations of physics and geometry, see. Let's just say that I really shouldn't have titled this entry "Pool Sharks" as none of us seem to live up to the name.

But Jen is determined that if we play a game or two of pool a day, or at least as often as we can, that we can improve. And this is true. Today's three game series with Kevin as a fourth showed much improvement over last night (until in the 3rd game, when Kevin and I spent 20 minutes trying to sink the 8 ball and failing miserably . . . then I think we just stoppd caring). Now, if I said that my team (last night, Stevi-Raffi, today, Stevi-Kevin) lost every single game we played, you'd have to assume that Jen and Heather are actually pretty good at pool. But this assumption would be wholly incorrect. They are no better than us, really. They just never get an oppurtunity to go for the 8 ball and, therefore, never get the oppurtunity to scratch on the 8 ball. They win simply because we fail. Not because they're (dare I say it?) good at pool.
I think this bit of dialogue between Raffi and me last night in the pool room is so good that it needs to be shared:

(after scratching on the 8 ball to lose our second game that night)

Me: I am very bad at this. I should just give up and kill myself now.

Raffi: Ahh. Don't do that. After all, it is only pool.

Me: You're right. Let's go get ice cream.

Raffi: Wow. Crisis averted. You almost killed yourself. Thank God I stepped in.

Me: Eh, I'm pretty easy to distract.

That last bit, that's probably why I'm not very good at pool.

Friday, January 09, 2004

Le cough. Le hack. Le sigh.

I was practially glowing last quarter because the move from the Bay to Santa Barbara had proven quite fruitful for my health. For once in my life, I wasn't ill every other week. In fact, I could breathe easily, sleep well, etc. In general, an improvement over the last four years of my life. But I go home for break, and pick up a slight cold. Annoying, yes, but a vast improvement over that one week in high school where I swear I had the bubonic plague . . . and all other subsequent high school illnesses, for that matter. And I got over it quickly, which was even more of a miracle because my normal immune system must have some sort of deficiency. But despite all that good fortune, I return to campus and I am smacked in the face with a cold. Admittedly, this one is far superior to most colds Ive had. The sore throat has passed and now I am left with a stuffy nose . . . that would seem to contain more mucus than I thought humanly possible. Nevertheless, it doesn't make me happy. I long for last quarter, where I lived happily and disease free!

I did fulfill my long-ago promise to Jake to see a doctor before the end of the year, though. I did it right on the wire: December 31st. However, I did it. Apparently, there really isn't anything wrong with me. Not anemic. Not diabetic. Not iron deficient. I'm just little. And frail. (All the rage with the gents during the French revolution, so I'm told. Doesn't everyone love a waif?) My uterus is, however, tilted slightly to the left. I don't know what that means. It's apparently not a bad thing. It's just a quaint abnormailty.

They also did some blood tests during my visit to the doctor's office. Let me tell you, having blood drawn is possibly the coolest thing in existence. It may have been some of the most medically related fun I've ever had in my life. I couldn't stop laughing. It was great! Blood is all swirly and there's just so much of it! And they can fill tubes with blood instantaneously! My god, why is blood so fucking cool?! Why did no one tell me blood was this cool? I would have dontated blood all the time in high school had I known! Oh, had I only known. College blood drives, here I come!

Sunday, January 04, 2004

And we're back.

Back in Santa Barbara. Back in my dorm. Back in class. Back . . . here.

But here is a pretty good place for me, usually. I'm more sane here than I've ever been before. And that's saying a lot, I think.

Only here can I listen to No Doubt's "Simple Kind of Life" with my roommate singing along (in her perfect, perfect Gwen-like pitch) and not be in tears. I promised myself in the wee hours of New Year's Day (after several episodes of "Sex & the City") that these kinds of things would no longer bother me. It's four days into the new year and I'm succeeding. We shall see how long this lasts.

Regardless, I love being back here in my dark little room with Jen and Heather--Jen singing along to whatever CD she has on, Heather on the phone with someone. It feels right. It also feels right to be walking around here and rearranging things to accomodate our Christmas gifts and all the other extra stuff we returned with.

It even feels right to be wandering through the bookstore and realize that I got the most obscure of all English 10 professors. Everyone else has a good four books on their reading list, and most include at least one Toni Morrison novel (Sidenote: Marcus bought me her new book, the aptly titled Love, for our anniversary.) . . . my professor chose two books, both of which I have never heard of in my life. In the best case, this class turns out to be absolutely fascinating and the books are both some of the most interesting things I've never heard of. In the worst case, it blows because the novels chosen are reminiscent of Melville's Billy Budd, voted worst book every by students in Mrs. Pasternak's 2nd period AP English Lit class in 2003. Tomorrow morning shall tell.

We'll see if I can wake up at 7:40 of my own volition.