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Where Were We?

Countess
The week that I left Sterling was fraught with calamity. The summer itself was fraught with a wide, wide variety of changes. Contractually, I am completely unable to discuss anything specific about my experience there for another twenty-two days, at least. I am in the clear to say things like:
  • Enjoyed another summer working with my dear friends.
  • Castilian accents are apparently hilarious on me.
  • Boy, did we ever luck out with the weather (except for those two days during which it rained a lot).
I cannot, however, opine about the changes that I experienced for good or bad, and so I shall stick to the above statements for at least a few more weeks. I think distance is good for perspective, and for folks who don't seem to be as adept at behaving professionally and analytically as me, the thirty days rule is a very, very, very good thing. Nevertheless, I was homesick for Baltimore for a great portion of the summer. This delighted me, as I've never spent a whole summer there thinking about how much I just can't wait to go home. So I'm home! And it's great, but getting here was a trial.Read more...Collapse )

Epic Infanta Dress Diary #1: Concept

Countess
 Hello Livejournal,

I am about to embark on a journey that I have taken before, but never so well prepared. After five years of pretending to be Mary Sidney Herbert, the Countess of Pembroke (and perhaps the single most important literary patron in English history), I am trading her out for a brand new character. To go with the new character, I will be needing a new costume, and I am going to attempt to document the process here.

The lady of the year is...

Infanta Isabella Clara Eugenia, beloved daughter of Philip II of Spain!
Pictures and drawings ahead.Collapse )

Times they are a-changin'.

Kelly and Sadie
I haven't posted here in a super-long time, and there is lots going on. The proverbial chips have fallen, and things look pretty good, overall.

This is the first year that Gary has called me about the faire before I sent him a note indicating what I'd like to do. There have been years where I haven't received a contract before April. Mine's already mailed off. We are, at last, laying Lady Mary to rest, at least for a little while. I longed to do something different, and this seems to be the year. Spanish Princess. A totally individual to me dialect. New costume. Brush up on my Spanish. Get familiar with Spanish history during the 16th century and give myself a crash course in plausible Catholicism. Not to mention still being the language guru, employee trainer and promotional liason, once I get there. Good thing I have four months...

Dancing is still great. I enjoy the classes and the people. I still love going out on Mondays to dance with whomever comes out of the woodwork. Last night, I had the second closest thing to birthday party that I am going to have this year: the birthday jam. On the Monday closest to your birthday, you are invited into the birthday jam. All the birthday boys and girls dance in the middle of a circle, and they are passed among just about as many dancers as can find a window. I had a great time. Loved having the opportunity to dance briefly with some of the all-stars. I am seriously considering attending a dance weekend in Boston in March, but need to think on it just a little bit more.

The first closest thing I had to a birthday party was the small, almost impromptu celebration I had at mom's with her, Jimmy, and Colin. Jimmy wanted very much to open all of my presents. Colin wanted very much to sit in my lap, drink my Earl Grey, and put his fingers in everything. Mom and Jimmy made a cake, and I laughed a lot. It was so great to spend time with her and to see my little boys (even if my car got stuck in her neighborhood due to the piss-poor plowing of her street and the silly number of tiny hills that my civic could not manage).

For the rest of the week, I've decided to keep it mellow.  I figure that if I make any elaborate plans, some horrible snowstorm will come through and freeze everything up and cause me to need to cancel, at which point I'll be snowed in and horribly disappointed about it. Better to keep my head down, eat something fabulous for dinner, then go to dance class.

In the past year, I've done some decent things. I made a Queen dress, (which really was so fucking rad that my mind is still just a little bit blown). I learned to knit and crochet. I've done a little actual work as an actual seamstress. I've re-evaluated my relationship with the good folks at MTC so that we can keep working together (and so that I can be happy about the circumstances under which it happens). I've gotten to know Baltimore really well, and I still really like it here. My nephews are both happy and healthy and mom is doing well.  All in all, 30 was pretty awesome.  Looking forward to 31.

For Halloween: A Real-Life Creepy Story

Kelly and Sadie
 I was performing at Zoo Boo last night, a children's event in Upstate New York.  While arrayed as a pirate, I play the guitar and sing mostly children's songs with a smattering of Halloween tunes and Rock n' Roll. I was sitting down on the floor in my jaunty hat, strumming away and interacting with the tiny costumed Batmans and Tinkerbells when I started to realize that something was off.

I saw a dude with a pair of Serious Cameras around his neck. Then another and another...press, but not the sort of press that covers community events. A sea of expensive suits, and then there he was: Carl Paladino, Republican gubernatorial candidate for the state of New York. He had come to this event (that is all about kids) to wander in a very-traffic blocking fashion through the lobby and glad-hand people in a last push for votes.

I kinda think he looks like a Sith Lord.

So. Darth Paladino looked down at me for a time, and then, as I was playing and singing (yes, friends, I am in the middle of a song at this point in the story), he bent down, held out his hand to me, and left it there. I looked at it as though to say 'dude, I'm clearly busy,' but it stayed. I stopped playing my guitar to brusquely accept his hand. He leaned closer and just above a whisper said "Vote Carl Paladino for Governor." Then, the man moved on.

I don't care if you are a Democrat, a Republican, a liberal, a conservative, a peacenik, a warhawk. Whatever. It was rude. This man got between me and the kids that I was there to serve. He didn't wait until the song was finished. He didn't even wait until the verse was finished. He inserted himself into what I was doing with the sole intention of bringing benefit to him campaign for governor. Even the hyperactive toddlers that come to this event know that they need to wait until I am done with a song to bum rush me, but this guy thought it was appropriate to step right in.

A photographer asked me my name, and I was very clear: "I don't want to end up part of some political campaign ad."

"It's not like that."

"Well, who are you?"

"I'm with the Post-Standard."

"Okay."

She seemed nearly as embarrassed about the whole thing as you'd expect any decent human to be, so I gave her my name, in hopes that her camera caught my clear discomfort, the feeling of interruption. Hoping that if they run it, it looks like Darth Paladino treading where he wasn't wanted.

To make matters creepier, one of the expensively attired old men in his entourage leered at me a few songs later and said (and I can in no way overstate how much I did not like the vibe coming off of this fellow), "Well. You're a pretty buccaneer." I can see saying that sweetly to a little girl in an eyepatch, but it felt strangely charged from old Republican dude to thirty-year old woman working an event. "Thank You," I replied, because I was working and I felt compelled to be gracious in front of the kids. I would like to note, though, that I was scowling as I said it, and I was thinking 'I will hurt you, creepy old man, please fuck off.' It was so wholly inappropriate.

I get it. I know everyone feels passionately about their point of view. I understand that many, many of these issues are divisive and charged and that ultimately, you want the guy (yeah, yeah, it's almost always a guy...sigh) who values what you value to be the guy in office. If you are in the position to vote for Carl Paladino, I just want you to be advised that he appears to have poorer manners than a toddler, and that's NOT the man I'd ever want speaking for me (even if he was pro-gay marriage and supportive of women's reproductive rights).

For me, it ultimately comes down to integrity. From my place amid the children, I didn't observe any last night.


Thank god I'm trick or treating with Jimmy and Colin later.  That's going to finish casting all this nastiness off of my person, I think.  Bleck.
lindy, swing
With bullet points!

  • Tonight there was a local dixieland band at Monday night swing, and by god, they swung!  They swung hard!  They played very well together.  Hooray for music!  This is their myspace.  (Is it just me, or are myspace pages segue-ing into a nostalgic internet thing?)
  • I was dancing with an old man (OLD man).  If I had to guess, I would guess that he is about sixty, give or take.  He's maybe 5'5."  And he picked me up and fucking threw me.  It was a huge surprise.  A super fun, huge surprise.
  • I talked to the dude who runs the organization, and thanked him (because I am having a ball), and we chit chatted while dancing.  He invited me to the Wednesday class sessions, which ordinarily cost ten dollars per person per class.  He said "Tell them I sent you.  They are free for you.  Welcome to Baltimore."  Holy crap!  I offered to pay and he said "no, no.  I just want you to come so you can get more plugged in with people."  Which is the point!  His name is Dorry.  Never met one, but I will remember, damnit.
  • I made a circle skirt yesterday while all shut in my house and it's stupidly cute and twirly.
  • And finally, I'll leave you with my most amusing mid-dance exchange of the evening:
Dude:  I did years of martial arts.  (leading pretty well)
Me:  Oh neat.  What kind, or kinds?  (following pretty well)
Dude:  Aikido, which I think is great for dancing. (twirly twirl...spin catch!)
Me:  Oh?  (twirly-twirls spins lots, catches the hand, swings out)
Dude:  Yeah.  It's all about using the leverage of your opponent against them. (twirly twirl...spin...MISSES!  FAIL!)
Me:  (goes blatantly uncaught.  jams and fixes it.)  See.  That's what you get for calling me an opponent.
Dude:  Okay.  It's all about using the leverage of the incredibly hot girl for the greater good.
Me:  Thank you.  

Though that banter amused me greatly, I think my favorite dance of the night was a tie between the old man who fucking threw me and didn't hurt himself, and the dude with the really fascinating arm sleeve tattoo who was a very skilled, but still very silly dancer.  I like the sense of humor that can accompany certain sorts of swing.  
Now I will go finish my immense re-organizational project of the day (all of my sewing notions: ALL of them, from grommets to trim to pins and needles).  And then I will shower because I am gross.  And then I will collapse in a satisfied heap.

lindy, swing

I have always felt profoundly affected by the Holocaust.  Some of my friends from the Woo-woo camp might jump up and down and holler "past life experiences!" at me.  Reason dictates that as that was the first truly horrific historical event that my little kid brain had to attempt to process, that it has always held more impact than all the horrible stories that came after it.  Still, though, I have trouble when I think about it too much or read too much.  I was dizzy and nauseous at the National Holocaust Museum and I could not go tour the concentration camp that my music trip took us to on my tour of Europe at the tail end of high school.  I could not bring myself to get off the bus; I thought I would probably throw up.

Nevertheless, the subject still fascinates me because it is so unthinkable, and it was a moment where, to my eyes, it really seems like a huge battle against good and evil and not so much like a battle for land or god or oil.  I suspect this fascination is why one night, when renting a movie to watch with my mom waaaaay back in the early 1990s, I wanted ever so much to watch a film called Swing Kids.  It's not a super-well known film, but it is a fictional story set within the confines of an actual counter-cultural movement in Nazi Germany, one populated by young people who were not so up with Hitler.  They displayed their rebellion by wearing British Fashion, listening to American Jazz, and by dancing in clubs that were pushed further and further underground as the Third Reich got increasingly tetchy about this bit of revolt.

Something happened to me when I watched this movie.  Yes, I had my usual fit of "OMG the Nazis sucked so bad why were they so crazy and mean to everyone??!"  I also fell madly in love.  And no, this post isn't about Robert Sean Leonard (who I still think is underrated and completely lovely).  It's about the music.  Being immersed in that sound and watching the dancers in that movie captured my imagination in a way that proved to be so much bigger than anyone might have guessed.  Until I got the soundtrack for Christmas, I'd watch that movie any time it was available to me just to hear the songs and just to watch them dance.  From that soundtrack (a still-excellent combination of actual music from the period and fabulous updated but period-sounding arrangements by Chris Boardman), came a full fledged obsession.

My favorites ended up being the amazing Benny Goodman, the fucking unbelievable Count Basie and the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald.  I was listening to their records made when my grandmother was a little girl while most of the people my age were living, appropriately, in the present.  They had TLC, and I had Glenn Miller.  They had Green Day and Ace of Base, and I had Duke Ellington and Peggy Lee.  Until I fell more heavily into my rock and a cappella phase in college, I listened to little else when I wanted music.  I could not get enough.

And in college, I found the dancing.  After years of dreaming about it and wanting so much to learn it, I took to it like a fish to water.  I was too busy to be dancing two and three nights a week, and I did it anyway.  I quickly mastered the basics of the jitterbug and the lindy hop, learned how to bust out a proper swing charleston or fall in with a Big Apple or a Shim Sham.  By my sophomore year, I was teaching the newcomers the basic steps, and I was so in love.  

My love affair wasn't just with the music or the way one moves to it.  Swing dancers, by and large, are incredibly nice.  When you go dancing in a modern club, it's a lot of pelvic thrusting and unfortunately, a lot of unknown people putting their hands where I only like known hands to go.  Swing dancers, on the other hand, are courteous and playful.  They walk up to your face, offer you a hand, and lead you out to the floor.  After this point, hands are reserved for the art of steering, and providing the tension and leverage for a lot of the turns and countless other fancy things that come out of it.  Swing dancers work together and communicate, working from this base language that everybody knows and improvising the rest.  It's a little bit magical. 

All good things must come to a pause, and my dance sabbatical has lasted for years and years.  My musical life eventually got directly in the way of my life as a dancer.  Even when I had time in Philly, a willing partner wasn't to be found.  Aside from the very occasional night out with a friend or two, I have been living in a dancing wasteland.  A few weeks ago, I decided to leave the desert of my lindy hopping life.

As I am certain now that I like many things about Baltimore and expect to be here for at least a few more years, I thought it might be time to attempt to build a social life that does not revolve exclusively around the Physics Department of Johns Hopkins.  I knew that swing was relatively hoppin' in Baltimore and DC, and I found a group that does cheap open dances on Monday nights.  

The music is great!  There is no shortage of really talented, really friendly, really awesome leaders.  In years, I have not spent a whole night following, and it was so, so, so nice to be back in the girl shoes (and to be led by such gifted dancers, holy fucking god, I forgot that I can spin that much).  I have now been twice, and I have that feeling again.   I am remembering all the steps I once knew.  I am giddy and blistered and desperate to learn more.  I am exhausted and a little bit sore in all the right places.  I feel like a swing dancer again.  I'm a little in love.




Twelve Hours Left

Kelly and Sadie
 I feel like I need to write, just a little, about the fact that in twelve hours, I will no longer be in my twenties.


To start, a note to my life:

Dear Twenties,

Thank you for all of the amazing people that I never would otherwise have come to know and love.  Fuck you for everything else--most of that was awfully premature.  Really, you sucked so much more than I could have anticipated.  I suppose I am grateful for being stronger, but it would have been nice to have a little bit more fun between the bookending eras of awful that were 21-25 and 27-29.

Dear Thirties,

We are going to rock so much.

love,

Kelly

Less glibness, and more honest speaking of my thoughts behind the cut.
Jump!Collapse )

Ok Go does it again!!!

Animal Eat Cymbal!
 Holy crap.  I love this band so much because they make the awesomest videos.  Like this:

This Too Shall Pass

And if you don't know what I mean by "Ok Go does it again" then you clearly were not on the internet at all during the time when, rightly so, 

Ok Go on treadmills

was taking the internet by storm!

Now I'm not sure which is my favorite.

Karma Fails!

Kelly and Sadie
So, I was standing the kitchen, carefully dicing up some onions and garlic, the cutting board slipped, and so did the knife, and I gave myself the worst cut I've ever gotten while cooking.

Poor little index finger, how wounded you are.

I was, however, incredibly grateful to my parents in that moment. They raised a sane, rational, confident creature who is not prone to panicking. I assessed the damage, concluded I needed a major band aid and some ointment, but not  anything else.  I wrapped it up and continued to cook. Two days later, looking at my finger, I am certain that this was exactly the right reaction. I'm healing quite nicely, though I won't be doing any hand modeling any time soon.**

And why, do you ask, is this a karma fail? Because I was not being reckless with the knife, and the reason I was dicing up said onions and garlic is because I was making soup... for my poor sick roommate.

No good deed goes unpunished, sometimes.



**Kelly is not now, nor has she ever been, a hand model. Her fingernails are not nearly pretty enough, and she saw what happened to J.P. Prewitt.

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Obligatory Yuletide Greeting

Kelly and Sadie
Hello all you Christians and Pagans, Muslims and Jews, Atheists and Humanists, Hindus and Buddhists, Sikhs and Shintos and even Scientologists.

It's December 25th, and I am marking the national day off with food, gifts, and even a tree that is covered in some things that are very Christmas oriented, as well as sci-fi trappings, a little Harley Davidson, colored lights and glass icicles. I hope that those of you who are also off work today are enjoying the company of good people and good food in a warm place. If you make off with some decent loot, all the better.

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