Where They Are Needed: A Dream

“If stories come to you, care for them.” B. Lopez

I dreamed last night I found a fat, white, aquatic ferret with a black tipped tail like an ermine. Its claws were long, its fingers scaly like a lizard’s, and its teeth looked like they belonged in the jaws of a dinosaur we should be glad has gone extinct.

The creature interacted well with my current ferret brood, but kept leaving them injured after playing with them because of its deadly jaws and paws. It scurried in and out of my arms, up and down and around my torso, playful and chittery and surprisingly heavy in my hands. It was used to living under water and alone, but seemed so much to want to stay with us. It grew happier and happier, and more and more playful, even as its fur would dry and it would have to run back into a rocky pool to wet up.

And so I told it I would keep it as long as it wanted to stay.

I tried to create a place for it to live in my home, separated from my other ferrets so it wouldn’t accidentally hurt them, but every tank I found for it leaked.

Before I could find a solution, I woke up.

“Remember on this one thing, said Badger. The stories people tell have a way of taking care of them. If stories come to you, care for them. And learn to give them away where they are needed. Sometimes a person needs a story more than food to stay alive. That is why we put these stories in each other’s memories. This is how people care for themselves.”
– Barry Lopez, Crow and Weasel


I fell back asleep and dreamed I was taken- not with force, but not by choice- onto a giant, steel ship. I was lead below deck to a giant passenger hold like a commuter car on a puddle jumper train. There was an empty seat to my left, so I took it and belted in. And then strapped in. And then belted in some more. What was this? Why all the extra safety measures for simply sitting in a seat on an enormous boat?

I looked up, and the ceiling above my head was a window full of twilit clouds and sky. The captain’s voice came over the speakers all around announcing that all personnel should find their seats because we were about to dive.

It was a submarine?

I panicked.


I looked up through the window. We dove. I could not determine the angle of our descent, except that I knew it must have been sharp as the ocean around us was almost immediately tar dark through the windows at each row of seats. I checked the ceiling view again. No stars, no sky, not even water. Just blackness. I pictured the window above me cracking and wondered if pressure or drowning killed more quickly.

“God? I love you.”

I gripped my arm rests, ready to die there in the unavoidable rush of an unchosen sea.

The captain’s voice came on again to say we would continue to take on passengers at various undersea docking points. We did so, each time diving deeper down to avoid the subsequent barrage of torpedo fire from the new passengers’ previous vessels. They were refugees of some sort. Were we taking on good guys? Bad guys? I never knew.

Golden Drawing Room of the Zimní Palác

I got up from my seat under the guise of looking for a restroom, and set about exploring. I found myself in an empty great hall with gold walls and vaulted ceilings. An exhausted group of five or so wilting strangers approached me. I assumed they were our most recent pick up, so I regarded them as fellow commuters.

They were heading toward a nearby bench, so I sat down on it to join them. The youngest in the group was a woman with auburn hair who looked to be in her 20s. She sat beside me on the bench, curled up under my arm, and went to sleep. Another woman, who carried herself like the leader of the band, her hair dark and broken, her jacket creased and worn, worked her face into a small smile for me, and leaned back against the wall behind us to go to sleep herself.

The hall was vast and silent, the walls glittering, the chests of the strangers rising and falling. I tightened my arm around the sleeping girl to keep her from slipping. She opened her eyes, thanked me, said she loved me, and went back to sleep. I stared ahead, wondering without care if anyone missed me in the dim tunnel of belted seating I’d left behind.

Suddenly a door to our left burst open, admitting four giant men, skin painted dark as the ocean, makeshift spears in hand, and looking for all the world like they’d just arrived from hiding in plain sight as a mannequin display. The sleeping group woke and leaped to their feet as the men demanded I join them. Not “them” the four men, but “them” the four men and the troupe of sleepers. I realized they had not been picked up, they had snuck aboard- and they were all working together.

“It’s time,” said the dark haired woman. “This is why you’re here. We need you to tell the captain. It’s over. It’s time.”

The painted men had set down their weapons and were changing into black pants and shirts from bags I had just noticed them carrying. “Yes,” said one. “She’s right. We can’t wait any longer. We are all here now and it’s going to work this time. You must tell the captain that this is right, and that you are leaving with us.”

“I love you,” whispered the younger woman. “Come with us. Tell the captain. It’s time.”

I felt the ship shift and dive, faster than before. A look to a window revealed more torpedoes speeding past.

“I can’t,” I said. “It’s not my place. I’m not a part of this. I don’t even know who you are. I’d get in so much trouble, and it will never work.”

I wanted all my excuses to be wrong. I wanted these people to be right. I wanted them to be heroes. I wanted them to save the day while I watched from the best seat in the house. And somewhere buried under fears of death by pressure and drowning, I wanted to be one of them.

“Help us. Please.”

“I can’t…”

I woke up.

“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”
– Anaïs Nin

March Err

When did I get to be such a Lazy Lou about posting regular updates? *tsk tsk* Lest ye think all I’ve done the past couple months was befriend the sad and the sleepy, a March highlight reel…

These are my parents:

Zen and the Art of Taking Mom For A Ride On Dad’s Motorcycle

Aren’t they cute? I love them. I mean: I really, really love them. A lot. They’re a wonderful example of a happy marriage, they’ve been great about encouraging me in my interests and pursuits without pushing anything on me, they give terrific advice, and they both know their way around a birthday cake. And look at how happy my mom looks! I’m hoping we’re able to go on another road trip together some time this Summer.

The other week they invited Aaron and I over for chili cheese dogs. There is always time for a chili cheese dog.

Cue Drool Faucet

There is always time for any kind of dog, really.

That Patches sure likes her some Aaron.

Things there is always time for: Chili dogs, any kind of dogs, books, and ferrets. Or to save time: booksandferrets.

Wesley picking out a bedtime story.

It hasn’t been all high-fat lunches, weasel story-hours, and motorcycle rides, though. I did manage to find time to work (a little) every now and again.

“Hey Ruth! Look over here!” “What? Oh.” *smile* “Okay. Back to work.”

I’ve never owned steel-toe boots and a hard hat before. Had I known sooner how awesome I look in them I wouldn’t have waited ’til I was 30 to start wearing them. Ah the oversights of youth. I’m also really digging the quality and fit of these Carhartt pants, though it’s harder to find appropriate occasions to fit them into my social wardrobe than, say, the hard hat or the safety vest.

I’ve also been working- unofficially, for now- on making my way through all of Family Ties on Netflix. I’m a few episodes into Season 3 at the moment and am absolutely loving every minute of it. (Speaking of social wardrobes, I’d take Elyse Keaton’s in a heartbeat.) And just to prove I’m taking this job seriously:

“Nah. I don’t think anybody’ll notice ’em.”

See? I’m paying attention.

In conclusion: Yesterday I met a baby duck.

It was 3 days old and its wings were just little nubs of fluff! I was nearly overcome by cuteness!!

Happy trails.

And now it’s time for…

Fun Facts With Ruth!

Fun Fact #1: It is entirely possible that one day you will have nice neighbors. Right across the hall, even. Their names could, theoretically, be April and Eduardo, and they could very well have a cool kid, and they might even have fun personalities and great senses of humor. And you might get to find out all of this while chatting with them in the hallway after firefighters do a walk-thru of your building to find out what bozo doesn’t know how to use the fan above their stove.


Fun Fact #2: If you wash your make-up off and get into your jammies early enough in the evening, the firefighters who knock on all the doors in your building to talk about fire safety will be so attractive that 29 and a half years’ experience with talking will not be enough to ensure the only words you use are real ones.

Why, Fire Marshall Smith– these are my fire-stompin’ pajamas of course!

Fun Fact #3: If after an apartment fire alarm fiasco you are in the shower and a ferret jumps in with you, you should probably pick it up because it really wants to lick water off your nose. And then later? If you’re in the living room with two ferrets and they’re both busy doin’ stuff? You should probably go lay down on the floor next to them because what they really want is to come over and sniff your face, and then lay down next to your head to take a nap.

Pssst! Skooch over!

And now you know.

The Cart and Bull Fall Down

Wesley's interest in helping with laundry extends only as far as emptying the bag. Kids!

I’m trying to get my ferret Wesley to come sit by me on the couch.

“These fingers could be scratchin’ yer itches!” I promise, waggling my fingers at him. He is not impressed, and waddles away to redouble his efforts at destroying the carpet behind my couch.

Dig dig dig…

Oh ferret.

Dig dig dig…

The landlord will have to replace it all whenever the boys and I move out. It should be replaced anyway since I’ve been living with this carpet for almost five years now. Surely they wouldn’t pass it on to the next tennant? No, it will be replaced. Replaced, and with some reason why my security deposit should be used to foot the bill. Fine. Let them keep it. It’s been worth it for your  special company, weasels. (See: “Things I Never Thought I’d Say To a 1 lb. Carnivore.”)

I thought I’d lost one of the ferrets yesterday; Brodie, my skinny boy, my hyperactive climber, my sable.

I was in the living room watching a show on Netflix when Wesley trotted in. He ducked behind the couch where I was sitting, and immediately began to whimper. Was he hurt? Was he sick? What’s going on?! I paused my show and pulled the couch away from the wall to find Wesley pawing at the face of a suspiciously inert Brodie, who lay on his back, legs splayed wide. I swooped down and picked Brodie up, his body cool and limp in my hands.

Oh no.

Ferrets are notorious for going into such a deep sleep they can seem comatose, or even dead. It’s important to know this before bringing one home because at some point, probably at multiple points, you will witness this condition. It’s not unusual, it’s not dangerous. It is normal ferret behavior. But this time? This time it shook me. Brodie’s oddly low body temperature, his uncustomary position, the whimpering and pawing from my other ferret… And mustelidae lover that I am I of course immediately assumed the worst: That Brodie was dead or dying, right there in my hands.

I cradled the pound of fur, teeth, and claws to my chest, trying to find a pulse, trying to find any sign he might simply be deep, deep asleep. His tiny, chilly body was so relaxed I could barely keep him from slipping through my arms as I played out worst case scenarios in my critter loving head.

After pushing the bottle around for an hour with his face, a neck-lick was apparently in order.

Wesley padded over to us and crawled onto my lap where he began sniffing at his fellow troublemaker, alternately pawing at his belly and licking his face, a new behavior couplet. I held Brodie tighter, trying at first not to cry but almost immediately giving up on that plan in favor of weeping openly and praying aloud that I would be able to keep this bounding, thieving, sneezing, pooping, hopping, climbing, giggle-inducing beast a little longer.

Eventually one of his eyes opened slightly, but then rolled back. He was still completely limp, folded almost in half against my chest as I pulled him in closer and closer toward my face, unwilling to let go in case he really was on his way out.

I would rather die while being held, wouldn’t you?

I rocked him, rubbed his cheeks and head, trying for several minutes to wake him. It had never taken so long before. And as I sat there blubbering I knew I’d feel so stupid if he turned out to be okay, if it turned out I was just overreacting to a common situation. But when it’s your own pet? And everything is a few degrees off from normal? And your other pet is exhibiting unusual behaviors too? And you’re all alone?

I freed a hand to phone my mom and asked her to come over so I wouldn’t be by myself, just in case. She said she’d be right over. I love that woman. I hung up and dragged my sleeve under my nose. I was a wreck.

I rolled the pound of dead weight over in my hands, rubbed my little guy’s face, and thanked him for being my buddy for the past two years. And then? His eye flickered open again, this time followed by the other… A hopeful sign? There came a head shift, a paw wave, and finally a sigh from him as Wesley decided we were fine and lumbered away to find something crinkly to crawl in.

We made it! All three of us.

Brodie came to slowly, resting peacefully in my arms. My hope grew less cautious. A minute passed, and then another, each making me feel happier, and more ridiculous, my babbling grin catching tears I no longer needed. My little guy, for now, would remain my little guy.

My dudes, fast asleep.

I knew I’d let myself freak out. I’d let my fear of losing my fuzzy pal overtake me. And the worst part is at some point I realized there might be nothing to worry about, even as it was all still happening. But what is my head to argue with my heart? I will almost always laugh with you, cry with you, sigh with you long before I will even attempt to reason with you.

I’m trying to figure out why I’d want to share this story in such a public way. It makes me seem over-dramatic, I think, because in the end it turned out I’d been wrong and so was upset over nothing. And to anyone without a similar type and level of appreciation for a pet I’m sure it sounds downright silly.

I think– and don’t quote me because I’m still not sure– but I think I just wanted to share a time when a feeling of loss was replaced, quickly and completely, by a feeling of joy.

That’s it.

If I were a master story teller I’d do the same by inventing some clever tale involving not-overly-beautiful people in a loss/joy cycle in a universe of my own design. I’d O. Henry an unexpected heart-string-tug readers would be able to relate to, and they’d share it with their friends on Facebook. I’d submit it to a literary magazine, they’d publish it with watercolor illustrations painted by a tenured biology professor, and over the next three years my characters’ names would climb to slots 7 and 8 on “Most Popular Baby Names” lists across the web. It would span so many forwarded emails it would eventually earn its own page on Snopes from all the people asking if it was true.

But it wouldn’t be.

Maybe that’s why I’d rather swallow my pride and tell you about a pet that didn’t really die, no matter how foolish it makes me look. Because foolishness is believable. As believable as loss. And almost as believable as joy.


So there I am in the kitchen with Wesley.


And I’m talking to him about what I’m going to make for lunch, things I need to pick up at the grocery store, and so on, when that little weasel up and walks out of the kitchen.

And in the middle of my sentence, no less!

“What, so you’re leaving me here to talk to myself now?!” I call out after him.





(The title of this post, “Αυτόνομα,” means “stand alone” in Greek. You’re welcome, Googlers.)

Tcl Tcl/Tk, the mouse ran up the clock

Me: Would you love me more if my name was made up of numbers?


Me: What if my name was Java C++?

Aaron: Ooh baby!

Me: D’oh! I should’ve said Perl…

Aaron: Did you know there’s a programming language called Lisp?

Me: Does it sound anything like Python?

Aaron: *lol*


Yesterday: Aaron and I went to the museum, visited the Mummy exhibit (they had a mummified weasel head!),  the butterfly exhibit, and watched a mom freak out her kid by pressing the rattlesnake button at the buffalo hunt display. Good times.

Last Night: I dreamed I was with a group of people digging out all the dirt around this enormous tree, its trunk extending far below the surface of the ground.  We dug for hours, maybe days, and never reached the roots. Just foot after foot of knotty trunk, bending, bulging, and totally misshapen.

After we’d dug as deep as we could before resting, I noticed a white, furry lump near the roots. It was Wesley, my white and gray ferret who follows me around my apartment, often so close at my heels he ends up napping with his chin perched on my toes. When I found him in the dirt beside the tree he was barely breathing, all curled up, paws curled shut, his eyes half closed. I didn’t know what to do. And I couldn’t stop to help him because I had to finish helping the group I was with as we… dug… a tree… I really have no idea what the purpose of the tree endeavor was.

I handed Wesley over to someone who’d been digging with  us, begging them to please be careful with him, try and feed him some water, hold him, monitor his condition and let me know if anything changes. I went back to work, returning to Wesley some time later only to find he’d been abandoned by whoever it was I’d asked to help me. This time he was so far beyond recovery that all I could do was hold him in my arms and nuzzle my face into his side as it eventually ceased its shallow rise and fall.

I hope the tree project was worth it. I think it was, but I still woke up missing my little friend.

Today: Woke up with a headache like my head against a board on account of three deceptively strong Sayonaras (sake + plum wine). Wowzers.

Tomorrow: Taking all three sections of the NCRC at WCTC starting around noon.

From “Closer To Fine”

Well darkness has a hunger that’s insatiable
And lightness has a call that’s hard to hear
I wrap my fear around me like a blanket
I sailed my ship of safety till I sank it, I’m crawling on your shore.

I stopped by the bar at 3 a.m.
To seek solace in a bottle or possibly a friend
I woke up with a headache like my head against a board
Twice as cloudy as I’d been the night before
And I went in seeking clarity.

Tuesday v2.0

The Not-so-bad-looking-from-here Lands

The Badlands

Our next Tuesday adventure was a drive through the Badlands National Park. If you’re planning a trip, entrance to the park is $15 (cash or credit) and your receipt (your only proof of payment so don’t toss it out!) allows you to enter the park for 7 days from the date of purchase. This works out great if you’re driving through the state and want to pass through the park on your way back to wherever you came from.

The landscape is pretty amazing, but saying so seems almost pointless so I’ll let it go at this: If you love seeing beautiful things, different things, quiet things, windy things, wild things: Plan a trip through the Badlands, and get out of your car and walk around every time you see a trail marker. I found this so much more enjoyable a place to see than the Grand Canyon. It’s worth a visit.

Badlands tote and ferret poster in hand, I prepare to take on the remainder of the park. (Click the pic to read about Ben Reifel.)

During our drive we stopped at the Ben Reifel Visitor Center to watch a documentary on the Badlands and to buy black-footed ferret related items from the gift shop. Or at least– that’s why I went there. I left with a 12″ x 24″ print of a Badlands wilderness scene with a black-footed ferret in the foreground. Best purchase of the trip! They also had some black-footed ferret postcards and a few children’s books about ferrets, but like an idiot I didn’t buy any of them. I will never know how or why I reasoned myself out of those purchases. I may be a bigger idiot than previously believed.

Wall Drug

Mom discovering my wagon train.

Our drive through the Badlands National Park completed, we hit the road for Wall, SD, home of the 76,000 square foot Wall Drug.

You have zero good reasons to skip Wall Drug. Anybody who tells you “it’s just a tourist trap” is out to rob you of an interesting time. Yeah there’s a lot of shopping there. Yeah a lot of it is kind of silly. But it’s got such an interesting history, and is chock full of neat things to see, read, enjoy– and eat!– that you simply can’t afford to miss out on this classic family vacation spot.

Our first stop once inside Wall Drug was the Western Art Gallery Restaurant for lunch. After taking a picture of my mom beneath some paintings, and then shooting video of the room’s walls to show just how much they have on display there, I realized the walls were covered in signs telling people not to take pictures or video of the artwork. Not quite sure how I missed those… So in the interest of not being a jerk I will not post any of those images here. Quite a collection there, though. Take a peek if you ever stop out.


After lunch we toured the various shops inside the complex, picking up a t-shirt or two, as well as our complimentary Wall Drug bumper sticker. (They’re free (one per family) and additional stickers set you back $0.10 a pop.) Amidst the shelves of Badlands mugs and Mount Rushmore key chains there’s also a sizable collection of gorgeous wall art and home goods fashioned by local artists. And any place that sells $10 Harvey Dunn poster prints is worth a stop in my book.

Hitting it off-season as we did I’m sure we missed out on a lot of the hustle-and-bustle charm of the place. I have to say, though, that it sure was nice not having to wait in line behind a bunch of seven year olds to have one’s picture taken atop jackalopes, or talking with stuffed buffalo.

Mount Rushmore

George, Tom, Ted, and Abe

Back on the road after a pick me up of $0.05 coffee and a slice of blackberry pie at Wall Drug, mom and I decided there was no good reason not to make it all the way through Rapid City, SD that night and on up to Mount Rushmore. If it was light enough, we reasoned, we could see it well enough to not have to make it part of our Wednesday “To-See” schedule.

Not only did we get there when it was still plenty light outside, but apparently after 5 pm (or was it 6pm?) there’s no one at the front gate so you don’t have to pay to get in, and parking is free.

Mom and I walked about a mile’s worth of trails around the base of the mountain, snapping some pretty sweet pics of The Fellas, and exercising our car-cramped leg muscles. I did wish we’d been able to get into the visitor center and artist’s studio there to read more about the history and construction of the monument, but I’m over it. I mean– there’s always Wikipedia

A Ferrety Kind of Friday

Things I find myself saying (with an alarming degree of regularity, considering as these are one-sided conversations) to my ferrets, whose sole aims in life appear to be taking my things and pooping on my carpet:

Rough day? Writing Decepticon poetry usually helps.

When they are attempting to steal my notebooks:

“That is a notebook. Ferrets don’t write emo poems; they only think they do.”

They take after highschool Me; what can I say?

When they are attempting to walk across my laptop as I type on it:

“That is a computer. Ferrets don’t walk on keyboards; they only think they do.”

Especially when said computer is in use and there are still keys whose functions are mysterious and cannot be reversed without the Geek Squad.

When they are attempting to nest in my purses:

“That is my purse. Ferrets don’t use purses; they only think they do.”

I keep my purses in a pile on my closet floor, let the ferrets play in them for a while, then search the wreckage for the contents they’ve loosened from zipper pockets I’d long since forgotten about. Thanks boys!

When they are attempting to steal my socks:

I collected these 96 pairs of socks (plus various and sundry other items) from Brodie’s hidey holes all over the apartment. I love that guy.

“Those are socks. Ferrets don’t need socks; they only think they do.”

Actually– I might be wrong about this one…

When they are attempting to scale my shins:

“Those are my ankles. Ferrets don’t eat ankles; they only think they do.”

And ohhhhh do they ever think they do this! Particularly when I’ve just climbed out of the shower and am protected by nothing more than a towel (which one of them is, inevitably, trying to climb). At least let me put my glasses on first so I know which way to go as I plan my escape!

When they are “playing sandbox” in their litter boxes:

“That is a litter box. Ferrets poop in them; they only think they don’t.”

Every time one of the boys hoists his round little rear into a litter box I find myself crowing with delight, my hands alternating between pounding the meters of victory on my bouncing knees, and waving in the air at the sweet, sweet stink of success.


Love being a pet mom or dad? What do you say to your critters when you’re sure no one else is listening?? :D

*twitch… twitch…*

Two things which are currently ticking me off:

Oh oh oh wait! The ferrets just did cute, wriggly, ferret stuff! :D Slightly less ticked off now, but I’m sure I’ll work my way back up there as I write; no worries!

1) My (fading, happily) memory of the Danny Gokey look-alike in the silver sedan by the Goodwill in Waukesha this afternoon.

So I’m at a stop light, right? And it’s just me and this other car in front of me and we’re in the left turn lane, right? So the left turn arrow comes on and I can see the guy in front of me is just kinda lookin’ around, taking in the sights, whatever. It’s a gorgeous fall day so I totally understand. Lost in his Autumnal reverie he doesn’t realize the light has now been green for three seconds. (I counted.)

So I give ‘im a little “Beep!” on my horn. A “Beep!” so short and high pitched it sounds like I’ve traded in my Toyota for a Tonka. The kind of “Beep!” people give when the light has turned green, several seconds have passed, and the person at the front of the line hasn’t moved. I didn’t invent this particular beep, folks. It’s been around since before my time.

So I beep, dude looks up at the light, and makes the turn. I follow suit.

We’re driving along and he gets into the right lane while I stay in the left, and he starts to slow down. We’re both still a few miles over the speed limit though, so I figure he’s just a speed-limit-conscious driver.

We’re nearing my turn to get to my apartment so I put on my turn signal and slow way down as I enter the left turn lane. At this point punk ass Danny Gokey wannabe LAYS ON HIS HORN AND PULLS IN BEHIND ME, TAILING ME- HORN STILL BLARING- UNTIL I MAKE MY TURN, AT WHICH TIME HE SWERVES OUT TO MY RIGHT, COMES ALMOST TO A STOP TO MATCH MY SPEED, AND GIVES ME A GRIN AND A TWINKLE-FINGERS WAVE BEFORE SPEEDING AWAY.

What. An. Aaaaaass.

I don’t know why that got to me as much as it did. I kind of hope he’s like that all the time so he has more opportunities for it to come back to bite him.


2) Directors.

The following didn’t happen to me. It’s just my delayed reaction to a conversation I had with a friend a long time ago about something that happened to them with a director I’ve never worked with. It only ticks me off when I think about it. And right now I’m thinking about it. Except I’m thinking about it with a lot of run-on-sentences and excessive back and forth between the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, so um– sorry for any confusion. :S


"Pompous Bastard" by Tanner Morrow (Click to see his other stuff; very cool)

If you act… well… and a lot… and a director pats your head with platitudes suggesting you ‘keep auditioning’ and not let it ‘get you down’ when they don’t cast you in a part you didn’t want but which they continually insisted upon you, it is both annoying and insulting.

Didn’t they listen when you said (repeatedly) you weren’t interested in the part? Didn’t they figure maybe you know better than they do about what you like enough to make it worth the commute, the rehearsal time, and giving up a month of weekends? (Particularly if it’s a part you’re not getting paid for: you’d sure better at least enjoy it.)

And– they have your resume! They can see you’ve been acting for years. So maybe by now you’re used to the “sometimes you’re cast, sometimes you’re not” dynamic. Right? Maybe by now you’re adult enough to not throw in the towel after their rejection, even if they don’t encourage you to ‘buck up little soldier’ as though you were some pouting middle schooler. I mean– just guessing here.

*pffft* Based on how many people are like this I sure do!

Don’t directors  realize how pompous it sounds when (in the absence of the right kind of relationship) they try to coach actors in things like the golden morality of ‘branching out’ in the roles we’re willing to play? Surely the fact we’ve been doing this for years gives us some insight into what parts we are and are not interested in, no? Or into what kind of parts are worth branching out for?

And I’m not talking about actors who just don’t know what they’re capable of, or what they enjoy. I’m talking about experienced actors who can say with total certainty “I am in no way, shape, or form interested in playing this particular part,” and about the kind of directors who can’t accept a “No.”

You will not woo me with “top billing.” You will not entice me with reassurances about how it’s “The Lead.” Do you think I don’t know these things already? And do you honestly believe all that matters to every actor is having the most lines?? It doesn’t matter if I’d totally rock at a role if playing it would make me regret getting involved in the first place. Are souls really so cheap?

And maybe the director is right; maybe the nay-saying actor would be ideal for the role in question. But once an actor has to beg or insist about it, then casting becomes more about the director’s ego than about getting the right person into the role.

Actors! Stop playing parts you hate out of some misguided sense that it is a sign of artistic maturity! (Enormous, totally respectable exception: Paying gigs for working actors. Y’all dudes are kinda stuck taking whatever comes up in that regard, but it’s an admirable kind of stuck. I applaud your commitment and your flexibility.)

“The price one pays for pursuing any profession or calling is an intimate knowledge of its ugly side.” James Baldwin


Wesley in his favorite sleeping position

Hm. Guess I’m more philosophically peeved about that second one than I’d realized…

Okay, that was it. Those were my two lousy, stinkin’ things. And I’m already feeling much better.

Isn’t writing therapy great?? We should all have blogs.

Blogs, broccoli and granola in our bellies, and ferrets fast asleep upside down in giant, homey cages in our living rooms while the final episode of Xena plays on our TVs.

Wesley just woke up to scratch. Okay: Full un-ticked. ;)

Honduras Blog #1: MKE to ORD

Alfred 'n' me-- packed for our trip to Honduras!

At mom and dad’s house, packed and ready to hit the road. Mom and I are leaving in a few to pick up my aunt and uncle’s minivan to accommodate all the bags Mimi and I will be taking with us. Sounds like we’ll have 4 checked bags at the max 50 lb. weight limit, plus our carry-ons. For a flight out of O’Hare. At 5 am. Saturday’s gonna be a loooong day…

Mimi insisted Alfred come along for the ride, so he’s getting packed in along side two tubs of sidewalk chalk, three bags stuffed with donated medicine, and two sacks of children’s books. Hope he doesn’t make a mess. :S

I brought the ferrets over to my folks’ place this morning and let them explore the room they’re going to live in for the next month. Cringing a little at the thought of my poor parents and all the poop scooping that awaits them. It’s not so bad when they’re your own *kids,* but when they’re someone else’s weasely little weasels stinking up your guest room– whole new ball game.

2 of 4 bags of meds, books, etc. at Mimi's. The stuff on the table is waiting to be sorted and packed.

Today we’ll spend time organizing medicine and rearranging luggage for weight distribution. Mim’s got something in the crock pot, and Mimi, mom and I WILL (I promise!) stop at Starbucks at some point for a treat as well, so it won’t be all work. Not that it ever feels like work with Mimi and mom. Two of the greatest blessings in my life. Their hearts for each other, for God, for their families, are so evident in everything they do. I’m very excited to spend the next two days with them both.

Tonight- or is it tomorrow night?- I’ll be sharing with the Vacation Bible School at Mimi’s church about what it’s like being a missionary kid. I wish the memories I had to share were a bit more recent! Still, I think I remember enough weird/gross stuff to fill my allotted 3-5 minutes. ;)

After I publish this post my internet access is going to be fairly sporadic for the next few weeks. Mim has internet at her place, but it’s dial up and I can only hit it off her laptop, so that’ll change things a bit for me. And once we’re in Honduras I don’t know how, when, or where I’ll be able to get online. All that to say: If you email me and don’t hear back for a bit, don’t be surprised, but don’t take it personally either! And as for when I do finally get online, my time may be pretty limited so I still may not be able to respond. Sorry. :S

This limited web access will also affect my blog. First- I may not be able to update often, and when I do I may not be able to post pictures as it probably won’t be my own computer I’m using to get online. Second- if you’ve never left a comment here before then the WordPress comment filter won’t recognize your email address so your comment will not be posted until I’ve had a chance to log in and approve it. I really do love reading your comments, though, and seeing the conversations that ensue, so please keep ’em coming!

Oop– dad’s calling. Time to go!!

One week to go!

Hair stuff, sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, tooth brushes, Tylenol, Neosporin, floss

A week from today my mom and I will be driving to my grandma’s (Mimi’s) house in Chicago before Mim’s and my flight on Saturday to Tegucigalpa, Honduras. Excited as I am about the trip, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed when I think about how much I have left to do before we leave. I’ve gotten a lot of things done already, except that so much of it is stuff y’can’t see, so sometimes it feels like I’ve accomplished approximately zilch. But I can live with that. ;)

Among the things I’ve gotten done so far that you can’t see are attending a new church here in Waukesha, El Buen Samaritano, to work on my Spanish. My comprehension is SO much better than I had hoped it would be seeing as I haven’t used it in 6 years nor studied it in 9. Whoops! But speaking? Wharbargl… It is hard… and I am le tired… I first learned about the church when Aaron and I met the pastor, Rosa, at an event in Frame Park about a month ago. I’d hoped to attend every Sunday until our departure, but missed one week for a wedding, and another week to attend Elmbrook to hear Jill Briscoe speak. It’s been great to go when I’ve been able, though. Such a warm congregation.

Among the things I’ve gotten done so far that you can see are finding some great children’s books to leave with the mission, and picking up a few meds ‘n’ things for distribution. Nowhere near the quantities we’ll ultimately need, but Mimi’s the one fielding that part of the trip, thank goodness. I’m just the nOOb trying to find small OTC medicines to cram into every available space in my suitcase. ;)

(And thank you SO MUCH to everyone who’s donated goods, time, and financial assistance toward this trip. I’ll take as many pics as I can so hopefully you’ll get to see some of those goods in use!)

Wahoo! So many books!

As for the books- sad to say but a few will undoubtedly not make the trip. They’re just so stinkin’ heavy! It’s possible to pay extra for luggage over the weight limit, and for taking extra bags, but with all the medicine Mimi has gathered we’re already at the ultimate baggage limit. While that is actually great news because it means we’re taking along as much medical aid as we’re physically able to carry, it’s also a tough reality for me to face on a personal level.  The need for books, for education in general, is just so great. And as education and reading are so close to my own heart I want so much to be able to get involved in some way in connecting those things with people who need them.

There’s always the mail, though. And donations to existing education-oriented groups. And additional trips… ;)

To give you a taste of what it takes (me, anyway) to get ready to spend a month volunteering with medical clinics in the Western Hemisphere’s 2nd poorest country (after Haiti), here’s a snippet of what’s left on the ol’ To-Do lists…

Tryyyying to write something to share

Write: testimony, 2-3 devotions, update red journal from Mimi
Email: Pastora Rosa, Laurie, Mimi’s peeps at MC (“about me”), Old Dave
Shopping: lightweight tops, capris, dresses (2), shorts, watch, netbook, netbook case and sleeve, heavy-duty sunscreen
Books/Research: Finish “Intermediate Spanish” book, attend EBS for Spanish review, taking blood pressure, field pharmacy organization tips, maps
Pharmacy: pack OTC meds, print 360 labels, downsize packaging on purchased meds
Paperwork: Confirm passport is still good; make copies for mom, Mimi, suitcase
Pack: books; meds; netbook (cord, mouse, case); camera (charger, memory cards); cell (charger); clothes (shorts, capris, dresses, light tops, jeans, swimsuit, scrubs); shoes (walking, dress); toiletries (sunscreen, bug spray)


To Do List...s

Write: Blog update about trip (books, meds, basic itinerary), thank you to M.K.
Email: Jerry W. re: health ins, Marcy R. re: SHE IS BEAUTIFUL, Mark S. re: German dialect tapes
Shopping: David’s birthday present, apt keys for mom ‘n’ dad
Ferrets: baths, razor talons snipped, wash cage/misc, transfer to mom & dad’s house, buy more food
Apartment: laundry, clean kitchen & bathrooms
Job Search: reschedule/attend Remployment class; update resume/job site profiles;  resume to dad to submit for me with list of potential employers
Online: Change Facebook password and give to Becca R., cancel Blockbuster, arrange for bill payment
Call: Bank re: using card abroad, Cell carrier re: int’l usage rates
Fax: Student loan deferment forms

Brodie sleeping... somehow

7/23: 8 pm “Hair” at Sunset Playhouse
7/25: 11am Church, birthday lunch
7/26: 3 pm RTW audition (1:30 arrive early to read the stinkin’ script first!!)
7/30: 9 am Drive to Chicago with mom
7/31: 5 am Fly to Houston> Tegucigalpa…

I don’t know where I’d be if not for Aaron and the fam. They’ve not only graciously agreed to stop by my place to pick up my mail and check on my apartment while I’m gone (Lord knows the only things of value in it are my netbook and passport and those’re coming with me…), but my folks have also agreed to watch the weasels for the entire duration of the trip. Yippee!! The boys are very excited to stay with their cousin, Patches, and to show their Mimi how good they are at using their litter boxes at least 60% of the time…

And just like that it’s 5:35 pm. Time to get crackin’ on crossing a few more items off the ol’ list before heading to Sunset Playhouse tonight to see their production of Hair. (Pics should be available on their Flickr account soon.) Everybody’s raving about this show, and I’m not surprised in the least!

Beads, flowers, freedom, happiness everyone!