Saturday, July 24, 2004

Well, Hello, Dolly!

It's so nice to have you back where you belong! Having gone a whole week without posting, I feel a little like a stranger in my own family: What do I say? Where do I start? How do I apologize for my neglect? Perhaps I should just pick up where I left off in the last post.

Ducal Ball went really well last weekend... well, mostly really well. There were a few dramas (more specifically, I got sucked into two or three dramas not of my own making, and experienced one of my making, most of which had to do with timing and getting things ready and doing them right), but everything worked out in the end. And I ended up with something really unexpected, something I cherish dearly and which I feel very honored to have received: a lifetime title. I am now Royal Crown Countess for Life to the Twelfth Reign.

Which means that, even if I never receive another title from another monarch, I will nevertheless always have a title in protocol, I will always be able to walk at Coronations, and I will always be able to wear my tiara whenever and wherever I want... I will always be a part of the Royal Grand Ducal Council of Alameda County, part of the royal family even, no matter how long I go away or how far off I move (lifetime-title-holders vote in RGDC elections no matter in what county they reside). It also means that my Grand Duchess and good friend Angelique loves me, and honors my contribution to her reign, enough to bestow the one lifetime title in her gift on little old me.

Receiving the lifetime title came as a complete surprise to me, and I fear that I didn't accept the plaque and the honor with as much grace as I would have liked... I tend to do that when I am surprised. If I had been apprised even a few minutes in advance of the honor, I would have been able to move a little more slowly, display a comely variety of emotions (Miss America Tears, I call it), and make more of an elegant scene out of the whole thing; as it was, I just flew up to the stage, kissed Angelique, said "thank you," bobbed off a pretty good curtsey, and was off stage again in less time than it took Caroline to get her camera turned on, though it felt like an eternity at the time (she said I acted like the Hamburglar, as if I were stealing the plaque).

I've often worried about my inability to display an emotion without rehearsing it a bit first. But then, I count that as part of my triple-WASP heritage, inadvertently passed down to me by my emotional rollercoaster of a mother. It is a truism that, if you consciously eschew your own cultural heritage, your children may embrace it even more profoundly: the children of social rebels are often more conservative than their grandparents, carrying the weight of two generations' worth of heritage. My mother, in trying to free herself of her no-emotions-please WASP upbringing, created a child who rebelled in the opposite direction and took on all of her WASP traits as well as the WASP traits that she shrugged off in her youth... not to mention the WASP traits that my sister failed to pick up. So because my mother and sister walk around with all of their emotions on the surface, with every thought that crosses their minds coming directly out of their mouths, I am saddled with the WASPiness of three people, my own as well as theirs.

I could be wrong, of course (I might very well be full of shit, even); perhaps it's just temperament. Either way, I get very uncomfortable when my and others' emotions are high, and if I'm not nailed down in some way, I tend to scurry off to experience my emotions in private... where no one can see that I don't cry, or exult, or do anything to visibly portray my intense emotional state, whatever it is.

For example, when I was inwardly kvelling over having won the Hallowqueen Pageant last year, I was unable to get off the stage and hug my emotions to me... I was stuck there, getting congratulated and hearing the applause and receiving the flowers... while my heart was bursting in my chest though my eyes remained dry and my demeanor unruffled. It's a good thing, then, that the character I created especially for that pageant (the Baroness Griselda von Beitte-Meihasse, you'll remember) would necessarily be rather emotionless, a stoic Anglo-German whip-kitten who would express great ecstasy with only the merest and smuggest curl to her lip (which was about all I could manage in the way of emotional transparency at the time).

So anyway, back to Ducal Ball: both of the production numbers went much better than I'd even hoped, much less expected. The opening number was extremely well-received, despite the last-minute-seat-of-the-pants nature of the rehearsals. For example, I learned during the sole two-walk-through rehearsal that not only would I have to lipsynch an entire chorus of voices, but that my part of the number had suddenly been extended to include the next verse of the song, in which the chorus does not sing in unison. I managed to brazen it out and turn in a fairly good performance, but I was nevertheless acutely embarrassed by the whole thing. Caroline mucked things up a bit with her props, but one must remember that she is quite new to performance and has not learned how difficult props are to manage; Norm's and Mama Portugal's numbers had been unexpectedly extended, too; and since we actually started right on time (an extreme rarity in the Drag Courts), we performed to a half-empty house. But despite all this weirdness and offness, the whole number worked surprisingly well.

The closing number went even better. My problem with the champagne-satin costumes solved itself by the fact that Candie Swallows and I, the two largest people in the group (and honesty forces me to admit that I'm a little bit bigger than she), could not fit into either the male jumpsuits or the female leotards, though we'd been given the largest available sizes of each... in fact, we just barely fit into the jackets. These costumes had been made for dancers, and dancers are very seldom as large as Candie and I.

So we ended up abandoning the jumpsuits and leotards, and all six of us just wore the satin jacket over a black base — leotards and tights for the "ladies" (queen-sized for Candie and I, normal-sized for Caroline) and pants-&-tees for the boys (Cookie Dough's boyself Eddie, our hunky choreographer Chel, and multitalented Knight-of-the-Court Michael Kaye). It looked better with the black-and-gold hats we ended up with, as well as Angelique's black-and-gold gown, not to mention being much more figure-flattering than the odd Douglas Morrison Theatre costumes had been.

So anyway, the number went off really well. Some of us missed a step or two, and Angelique accidentally knocked my hat out of my hand at the end of the number, but the rare novelty of a big and well-rehearsed production number in a Grand Duchess's Final Walk was so exciting that the audience didn't even notice our little flaws. I only wish I'd been able to find my digital camera so I could have taken pictures of it all to share with you. Caroline took pictures, of course, but I have to get those scanned and uploaded once she gives me copies from her "olde-fashionedy" film camera.

After all that was over with, we were all exhausted and went home instead of continuing to the after-parties. The next day was Victory Brunch, and Caroline and Madasin and I went to that since the Grandmother was still in bed with her knee and didn't need me to take her to church. It was a lot of fun seeing everyone out of drag, especially the out-of-towners whom I'd only ever seen at Coronations and the like. The food was good, too.

Afterward, we were taking Madasin home to Pinole when I suddenly had the urge to visit the Flea Market at Laney College (in the parking lot across the street from my office); so we stopped and went through that and had a lot of fun together. Caroline has become Madasin's Drag Dad (as I am her Drag Mother), so we had lots of fun little jokes about Family Outings and all. Once we were done there, we drove all the way up San Pablo Avenue, stopping here and there for ice-cream and to look at shops, instead of trying to deal with the freeway.

Caroline and I were supposed to go to another party after dropping off Madasin, but were too tired-out by our fun to stop at Paul & Jimmy's Post-Ball Luau (not to mention that Caroline's stomach was rebelling at the huge brunch she'd forced on it, followed by a long dehydrating walk in the sun, followed by rather more than a pint of Coldstone Creamery cheesecake ice-cream), so we just went our separate ways home. I fell on the couch and stayed there the rest of the evening until it was time to go to bed.

This last week at work has been a bit of a trial... though my cold is over with, and my allergies and depression seem to have abated, my workload rose to meet my new energy-levels. We have a new member of staff in the office, who is replacing a departing member who has not yet departed (one likes a bit of overlap for training purposes), so there have been a lot of meetings and discussions to get him up to date (rendered more confusing by the fact that his name is also Robert, though we call him Bob); and then I have actually been working on all the minutes and meeting notes that I've been pretending to work on for the last couple of weeks; and then there were all these changes to the website to make, and the changes kept changing, and I've been adding updates every day all week; and then we've been trying to find a new office space because that crazy bitch upstairs managed to find a City Planning Commission inspector who agreed with her that we are not zoned for commercial use, and even if we were zoned for commercial use we aren't ADA-compliant for commercial use... it's all very confusing, and very upsetting — on top of the indignity that the crazy bitch upstairs finally got one over on us, then thee's the fact that we're going to have to move (nobody likes that kind of upheaval), and that it's impossible to hope that we're going to find the amount of space we currently have for the amount of money we're currently spending, and that there's absolutely nothing we can do about it.

So that's what my week was like... simply too busy to blog, y'know?

On another note: I started, last week, taking a multivitamin in the morning... and the results have been amazing. I feel neither depressed nor manic, I'm sleeping better, and I've been much more cogent during the day. If this is the effect of taking a One-A-Day Active Formula (with ginseng and extra B-complex) every morning, imagine what a battery of Chinese herbs will do for me (once I get around to seeing the homeopath and learning about the herbs I need).

So now, here I am, kind of up-to-date with you all, kind of up-to-date with my work, and with my biggest commitments of the Summer behind me... I feel pretty damned good. Now maybe I'll have the time and energy to get caught up on my General Service commitments (I'm typing up the minutes and agenda for the next Meeting, and have to update my registrar database), and get back to work on the novel. Here's hoping, anyway.

Have a super day!

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