in which i seriously reconsider my 5K fixation

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This past Sunday was what might be my last 5K of the season – maybe my last one ever.  Not because of this experience, but because overall I feel…well, a little silly.  A little defeated.  More than a little convinced I could be getting the same actual workout by going disc golfing with my husband.

Aaaaaaanyway…

Sunday was World Run Day.   I signed up over a month ago to do the Dirty Herd 5k up at Pretty Lake, Mattawan, partly because it was sorta kinda local, partly because money raised goes back to Pretty Lake Camp and its work with at-risk kids,  and partly because the name of the group made me laugh. Bones had a thing to go to as well and somehow from agreeing the night before that us leaving at 8:30AM was fine to when we actually started to leave, I panicked and announced I would never make it on time.

This was to be true in ways I couldn’t anticipate at that point.

We got Bones to his thing a bit early, and me to my thing on time.   As in, the runners hadn’t left yet.  But by the time I figured out where registration was (“Oh, we already shut down!  Hold on…”), confirmed that yes I still wanted to do the walk, and made it back outside, everyone was gone.

I walked up to people that looked like they were working the event.  “Can I still go?”

“Oh!  Sure!  You’re just..let’s see…about 11 minutes behind the group.

“Is it well marked?”

“Yup!”

I started down a road. As it turned out, this would be the only paved path for the entire walk.  Initially there were white arrows painted on the road, but as I turned onto a dirt road, that wasn’t the case.  I fairly quickly found my path blocked by plastic orange tape, with no obvious markers telling me where to go next.

This was the…well, the fifth time that morning that I seriously considered not doing this silly thing.  I could have totally ditched and no one except Bones would have known.  I next considered crying out of frustration.  I finally decided to just duck past the ribbon and keep walking.  Worst case scenario, I figured, was that I’d have a nice walk around Pretty Lake.

So pretty, y’all.  I could hear the music of the start/finish area pouring across the water and I thought at the time that maybe the 5K/10K was just a trail that would go all the way around the lake.  And then I finally found some people working the event, stationed behind a table covered in cups of water.  They informed me that I was indeed on the right path (surprise!) and I wanted to follow the path marked by the orange ribbons rather than the blue ones.  (As a side note:  I didn’t see a single walkie on any staff person, which really surprised me.)

I hadn’t seen any blue ones yet, but I thanked them and continued..and finally did find where the path broke off.  This album gives you an idea of what the start of this event looked like.  (I never saw this many people.  Alas.)  What isn’t shown is that the trail took us off road and into the woods.  It was gorgeous and just hilly enough to make my calves ache for a day or so afterwards….and honestly, it was a little nerve wracking to be alone in the woods so afraid of falling.  My right foot is still not fully healed from all my falls last month. 😦  But!  I did not fall!

A lot of the trail followed ones they clearly use over the summer, and people that know how to read trail markers would have felt more comfortable than I did, as those trail markers were frequently placed and highly visible.  And it was honestly so lovely.  Even with my feeling nervous about falling, I loved this location and trail, and kept thinking that Bones should be there because he would have really enjoyed the hike.  At the same time, I started thinking that yeah, I could probably get the same benefit from walking along with him while he’s disc golfing…so, there’s that.

I did finally start to encounter people doing the 10K, and I passed one walker (!!!!), so I’m pretty sure I wasn’t DEAD last.  We didn’t have timing chips on our bibs, but I think my total time was probably my worst one yet – just over an hour.  OTOH, it was hilly and I got lost and I’m actually ok with my time being not too speedy.  I had a lot of time to think about my 5K fixation and just as I was thinking to myself, ‘This is really stupid.  Everyone knows you’re slow.  You’d rather be riding a bike.  You’re not ever going to run.  Hell, walking is a challenge!  What the hell are you doing?  This is your last one,’ a 10K runner passed me and said hi.  I looked up and saw he had a prosthetic foot.

I assume he also managed not to fall on this trail.

Soooooo…ok, brain weasels.  STFU.

Will I do another 5K? Maybe.

Is it in part because I got another medal?

Hell yes.

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girl, be a zommmmmbieeee

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Earlier this year, Bones was gifted with a mannequin. As haunters, we know the rule: When someone asks if you want a mannequin, you say yes!!

In reality? Our plastic gal left something to be desired.

20151016-103216.jpg(What you can’t see is that our gal has a broken foot and can’t stand up by herself.)

I’ve been looking at her all summer, seeing very little potential until this week…when I concocted a plan to zombify the lady.

First things first! She needs a head.

I went through a few bins I affectionately labeled “stuff to make stuff” and realized this head had a foamy inside that should allow me to dig out a neck-sized hole.

20151016-103626.jpgThis head’s been through some hard times and I was not much fond of her look (no offense, kitten!), but it was the better of my two choices. My initial plan was to coat the cracks in her face with liquid latex…

20151016-103859.jpg…but there were a LOT of cracks and tears to fix. So I took a closer look.

I’d assumed this head came from a haunt vendor, although I didn’t recognize the work at all. As I poked at the cracks, I realized that in reality this was nothing more than a mask over a mannequinish head. So I took a deep breath and started ripping her face off.

(This was not to be the only serial killer feeling moment in this project.)

I quickly found that her face had been attached with liquid latex or glue and….straight pins.

Well. Ok then!

I went through my collection of faces (..oh, don’t pretend you don’t have a box of faces in your garage, too) and chose a feminine looking one. Then I used a paintbrush to apply liquid latex to her face. (Side note: if you’re working with liquid latex, make sure your work space is well ventillated!)

20151016-105008.jpg20151016-105024.jpgI pulled the latex mask over her face, reusing her original straight pins to secure the edges of the mask and slathering more liquid latex on the edges to help seal the mask to the head. (Ya wanna feel like a bad person? Shove straight pins into the eye sockets of a woman’s face. Pretty sure that’s more serial killer stuff right there.)

Annnnd I realized I made what I consider to be a girlie error. I had chosen a feminine mask that left me very little in the way of zombie details to paint later. 😦

20151016-105505.jpgIn other words? She’s too pretty, even with the folds around her chin and nose where the mask didn’t quite fit as snugly as I wanted. So I did the only logical thing..I tore her face off again and started over.

20151016-105630.jpg

20151016-105648.jpgMuch better! And this one made for a better, tighter fit, too.All those folds THIS time are actually meant to be there. My first choice was made from a thinner latex which I thought would work better, but having a bit more thickness did help me fit the mask to the face with less air pockets and tearing.

Then I left her to dry, and I went off to bed to, um, try to not dream about tearing faces off of heads…although I will confess I spent too much time thinking, “Hm, I should probably tear her lips off so I can show the mouth underneath…”

in which i fail miserably at walking

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I’ve spent the past several weeks volunteering as a crew member for a local production of “Evita,” as well as attending meetings for a future production.  Because one of my meetings was the afternoon before a show, I had decided to go into town early, meander towards my meeting, and then explore a bit of the city before I had to be back at the theatre.

It’s amazing how quickly plans can go wonky.

Bones dropped me off by a coffee shop and had just pulled away from the curb when the sidewalk apparently twisted away from my foot, causing me to wrench my ankle and fall to the ground.

Walking has never been my best trick.

I struggled back to a standing position.  Tried to walk.  Couldn’t.

Well, hell.

I clung to a wall and tried to figure out what hurt.  The ankle absolutely hurt..but honestly?  I’ve twisted my right ankle so many times and in so many ways that generally speaking it doesn’t usually phase me for more than a few seconds.

This was something more.

The child that lives in my brain couldn’t process what was going on.  It felt like I had seriously hurt the muscles in the arch of my foot, making it wicked hard to put weight on my foot.  The only time I’d felt pain close to this was when I thought I’d broken my left ankle several years ago.  But hey, I didn’t want to vomit, so I knew it wasn’t that bad.

I frantically texted Bones as I kept attempting unsuccessfully to walk.  He offered to come back for me, but I am stubborn and decided I would will myself to be ok.  (…The texts Bones received were, of course, not nearly as confident as what I’ve just written here.)

So I stood, half leaning on the wall, half trying to figure out how to walk again.  An older woman walked past me, stopped, turned, and looked at me.  I prepared myself for the obvious question she was about to ask.

“Do you know where *mumble* Street is?”

Ok, so I didn’t expect that question.

“I’m sorry, I don’t have any idea,” I panted at her.  Disappointed, she walked away.

I took a deep breath and tried to put weight on my foot again.  This time, I had better success.  I texted an update to Bones and limped to the next open door, which happened to be an old school sort of used bookstore.  Piles of books and cigar boxes (?) littered the shelves and floor.  I looked around, sorta wanting to investigate, sorta afraid I’d knock things over, sorta wondering why there was no one else in the store.

“Can I help you?”

An older gentleman holding a laptop was in the doorway behind me.

“Um…no, not really. I just…wanted to look around.”

He continued to stand there, looking annoyed.

I looked around the front of the store one more time. “OK!  So.  I….I’ll be back later.”

He stepped aside so I could hobble-escape past him.  I decided this was quite enough adventure for one day, and so I started to make my way to my meeting, where a friend loaned me an ankle brace that helped me get through the rest of my evening.

Of course…of course…my friend Jenny and I had signed up to do a 5K that was scheduled for two days after my latest failure to walk.  She suggested we might want to cancel.  But, ya know.  Stubborn.

Two days later, we headed to Lansing for the Race to Restore.  This lovely little event is a fundraiser to help maintain tombstones in Mt Hope cemetery, and the 5K consisted of two loops through the cemetery.  (I can’t actually explain the expression on my face in the following picture.)

Event photo for Race to Restore

The first loop wasn’t bad. I had warned Jenny that we would not be breaking any records today (which is a shame because there were so few of us that we maaaaaybe could have actually placed in our age groups had we not been hindered by my gimpiness).   Jenny is a great friend and insisted she wasn’t there to be speedy.

Which is good, because on the second loop, my ankle gave out on me and I fell pretty much flat on my face for – once again – no damned good reason whatsoever.

I was tempted to just…stay there for a while and feel sorry for myself.  But.  There’s not much that is as motivating to me as looking up and seeing someone on a walkie looking at me worriedly, so with images of ambulances dancing in my head, I struggled to my feet and pretended I was ok.

As it turned out, now I had a gimpy right ankle and a tweaked left knee…and no medal.  😦 Our time was a glorious 1 hour and 9 minutes, which is…ridiculously bad.  But!  We finished.  Because I’m stubborn.

The following is a bit of the text discussion between Bones and me:

Capture

..And this, y’all, is why I’m not an athlete.

But!  I have one more 5K this year, in a few weeks.  I may not make my personal best, but at least I’m sure to do better than I did this weekend. :/

 

 

 

 

in which i am ridiculous…but a bit faster

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Yesterday, I participated in my second 5k walk…by myself.

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Participants for this event are encouraged to dress up as superheroes.  I initially planned to wear something I’d worn to a convention in the past..

…but found that (perhaps for the best) I’d finally purged the costume in a recent gathering of stuff to take to Goodwill.  So I was left in a vague sort of need for something superhero-y.  Alas, ‘superhero’ is of of those categories that’s not really punched out on my geek card, no matter how much I love the X-Men movies, and the only t-shirt I own that was even vaguely appropriate was a Hellboy t-shirt.

I asked the Book of Face if Hellboy counted as a superhero.

“Heck YEAH!!” was the unanimous response.

Okie dokie!  But do I settle with just the shirt, or do I try to throw together a costume with whatever I could find around the house?

(…The answer should have been A.)

I had a wig that had ginormous horns attached to it.  I tore those off the wig and played with a few different ideas for attaching them to myself securely enough to allow me to walk without losing them.  Bones suggested having them come through a baseball cap.  I tried that, wasn’t happy with it, tried attaching them to a hairband wasn’t happy with it, and then found a pair of goggles I’d bought years ago for an unrealized steampunk costume.  Once I popped the lenses off, the lens bases actually fit very securely into the bases of the horns.  I reinforced them with some hot glue, painted the horns more Hellboy-esque, and called it done.  Bones had an overcoat that was close enough to what Hellboy wears to be more than acceptable for use.  I had a soft sculpture kitty pin that I attached to my lapel as a nod to the character’s fondness for cats.  I took a latex tail made by the now-defunct company Specter Studios and painted that red as well, making sure it would poke out far enough from the coat to be seen, and I decided to NOT paint myself red.  (We tried to get a hockey glove so I could have a semblance of a huge left hand, but that particular plot didn’t pan out.  Alas.

So…bad-ass inspiration:

Fan-girl version:

….Heh!

And, of course, no one got it.  At all.  Even with the t-shirt.  I was pretty much just Satan at a family event.  Woohoo!!!  Thank heavens I didn’t bring a cigar as well.

The important thing, though, was that I walked faster than last time…I went from 58:30 to 54:53.  I’m learning that first my shins will hurt.  Then my ankles will hurt.  And that will suck.  A lot.  But if I keep going, that will all go away and my right foot will be the only thing that hurts – specifically, the plantar fascia.  And that will hurt for the next few days.  (I am assuming this will get better as I lose some weight.)

I still can’t stay I enjoy walking.  But!  I’m happy that I was faster this time.

This Saturday, I do it again…in a cemetery.  Without horns.  🙂

a snippet of home life…and a new venture

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Me:  So guess what I just did?

Bones: Hm?

Me:  Well, I was in the bathroom, looking at my phone, and I took off my glasses to see the screen better, and then when I was finished with, um, what I was doing, I couldn’t find my glasses.  Then I realized there was something in my pant leg, and that something was my glasses.

Bones:  ….

Me:  I dropped my glasses down my pants.

(we both laugh)

Bones:  And this is why we will be married for the rest of our lives.

Me:  Why?

Bones:  Because you can just tell me that story without apologizing, without telling me first, ‘Wow, this is really stupid.’  You trust me enough to just tell me this ridiculous thing because you know I won’t judge you.

Me:  True story!

Moral of the story:  When you find the person that responds to proof that you’re a bit of a hot mess with laughter and love? Marry that person.  ASAP.

In Other News….earlier this year, I created a product on Zazzle for a friend’s birthday.  Much to my surprise, other people have found my product listing and purchased ones for themselves.  This has resulted in a whopping whole $4 of accidental profit, so I figured hey, let’s see what happens if I actually try to sell something.

And so…la!  I have an actual Zazzle store! And I spent waaaaay too much time today playing with this, and with a store for my haunt that has some truly ridiculous items in it that I’m not sure will ever actually sell, but..what the heck?  There’s a link at the top of my blog page to the store, and if there’s something there you like, please to be purchasing it.  I make about a buck off each item, and I promise that money will all go into the haunt fund.  So, ya know, Watch That Space, as there will be more stuff coming along as it crosses my squirrel-filled mind.

Speaking of squirrels, I swear I’ll be finishing up the China haunt story soon.  Very soon.  I swear.

wrapping things up

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(This is a belated update to the China story – last post here.)

I wake up calmer the next day and join the boys for breakfast, squirreling away fruit to eat later on.  (Thank all the gods ever that created fruit!!)  The boys tell me that they didn’t actually get to see much of the Halloween show the night before because schedules got screwed up, they were tired and sore, and ended up spending most of their time waiting for the zombie shoot-em-up ride to get going.

I feel vaguely better about having opted for a night crying in the tub.

At the haunt, we’ve hit a point where  the effects are ready to be set up – air cannons, animated props, computer screens and the like.

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First room of the haunt.

The problem we run into almost immediately is that the Chinese workers assigned to help us are trying very very hard to learn everything they can about everything we’re doing.  This means that there’s a constant conga line of guys following J around, watching everything he’s doing, and as soon as he walks away from a project, they’re touching it..and more often than not, they’re breaking it.  And we can’t easily get new parts to fix what’s been broken.  And we can’t get our helpers to stop ‘helping.’

We’re getting down to only having hours left to finish the project. Having to do something two or three times is making our work load – and our brains – explode.

There’s a crazy-making mix of things to deal with as we go along.  Our helpers keep taking batteries out of remote controls, or just taking the remotes.  J and S spend hours getting a ghost projection effect to work..and someone else hits a button on it and deletes everything the guys just accomplished.  Someone drops a pre-programmed animation controller that’s run via dip switches, and the boys scramble to try to figure out how to reset the switches correctly.

It’s all more frustrating than I can even begin to describe here.  I finish hanging bits of fabric across all of the haunt hallway doors to give visitors a sense of overhead ick, and J asks me to start working on some ‘cryotube’ props.  In the corner of the haunt housing the air conditioner, there’s to be three large plastic tubes. One will contain an actor; the others, monsters of some sort.  C has already hung blue lights in the tubes, so now it’s my job to go find stuff and make monsters out of it.

…Okie dokie!

So these tubes are sorta like huge half cylinders on bases.  I scrounge up some scraps of wood and create stands that I drape with fabric…I find some masks in one of the boxes of random stuff J packed for this gig… I dry brush the inside of the tubes so that it sorta kinda looks like they’re frosted inside…and I come up with the crappiest puppets I’ve ever created.

…And my creations immediately scare our interpreter when she walks through to check on our progress.  So, yay, I guess!

I also work on fixing one broken prop, whose arms were snapped in transit…

..and repaint a prop to try to take it from ‘wow that’s a horrible fake red’ to ‘wow that’s still pretty horrible but at least it’s not O HAI I’M BLOODY RED!  (All of this, of course, is being done with whatever we brought with us.  I still kinda wish I could have had all of my paints and brushes with me..)

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worst pinata ever…

Meanwhile, the boys had pretty much finished as much as they could for the night, so we packed up and went back to our hotel.  I may  have some of this out of sequence at this point, but I think this was our last full day of work..

so if you’ve ever wondered how much it costs to get a last minute visa…

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…the answer is, “IT COSTS A LOT!!!”  If you have the option of applying for a travel visa waaaaaaay in advance of your trip or doing it, oh, the week before?  Do it waaaaaaaaaaay in advance, no matter how thrilling it might seem to wait until the last minute.  Like, go ahead and start NOW.

Mind you, most travel doesn’t require a visa.  So, ya know, I’m mostly just talking to myself.  And anyone that wants to go to/from China to work or go to school.

In another life, I was responsible for making sure Chinese college-level students and professors got their travel visas to allow them to come from there to here.  This meant procuring:

* a letter of invitation from the US that specified the length of the student’s stay in the US

* a letter proving the student had enough money in the bank to be financially ok while here (in part to make sure no one’s getting a job while they’re here)

* a copy of their passport’s front page and other ID

* payment for their visa application

I then had to fill out their application, submit it online, send the documents to our college’s visa processing gods, and keep everyone informed of the progress of the application.  The tricky part was watching those deadlines.  If we ended up getting too close to the specified dates of travel, we had to alter the visa application.

I didn’t enjoy the process very much because I found it nerve wracking.  Looking  back, though, I’m very glad I had this experience, because it helped me with my own application quite a lot.

So!  Jump from 2012/2013 to June 2014.

Bones and I run into a friend of mine who has a lot of haunt building to do over the summer.  He asks, jokingly, if either of us are available to help.  I say, “Maybe!  Let us know.”

Jump to September 2014.  Said friend posts to Facebook, “Hey!  I need a fourth person to join my team to go to China to build haunt houses!”

I text him, saying, “I have a passport.”

He calls.  “You do?  Can you really go?”

I look at the calendar.  It’s maybe the second week of September.  Haunt build is due to be completed by September 25th.  Trip will have us leaving September 17th or so.  My haunt opens October 17th.

“…Yeah, I can do that,” I say.

We talk again a few days later and he officially invites me to join his crew.  I do not squee.  I really want to squee.

Email arrives with instructions on how to fill out the visa application, but we’re all waiting on the invitation letter from the Chinese client.

We wait a bit longer.

Finally,  J finds out that the client has pushed back the opening date to…October 15th.  So now we’re leaving in October.

*cue panic*

J runs a haunt in…SALEM.  No way does he want to NOT be in Salem in OCTOBER.

We regroup and figure out that yes, we can all still go.  Departure date is now October 5th.  We return October 14th.  My  haunt still opens October 17th.

*CUE PANIC*

We all get the paperwork we need for the visa applications and submit on September 24th.  (Allow me to refer you to the beginning of this blog…you really do not want any of this panic.)  I am using the passport that shows my name prior to marrying Bones.  That application shows that I have a Pennsylvania address, but since I’m in Michigan and the visa is to be shipped to Michigan, I’ve sent my passport and application and a ton of documentation to Chicago.

Chicago calls.  “Um, you should have sent this to the NYC office.  But the Chinese embassy there is closed Oct 1st to the 3rd.  In fact, most of the Chinese embassies are closed for most of this week…you’ll never get this back by the 4th.”

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!!!

So I explain that, um, I have two addresses, I AM married, I AM in Michigan.

“Do you also travel to Massachusetts to work for…is that Bone…yard?”

“No, I need to travel to CHINA to work for this guy in Massachusetts.”  At this point, I nearly blurted out, “..And I’m not a terrorist, I swear.”

“Oooooo..kay.  So email us a letter explaining all of that with a copy of your ID from Michigan and you should be good.”

No, I’m pretty sure I’m close to being the oddest visa applicant they’ve had this year.  But.  I do as she asks – this is all on September 29th – and the application goes to the embassy.

I’ve spent the week hitting ‘refresh’ on my application status page, and I’m still kinda stunned that it’s here, in my hand, on October 3rd.

IN THE MEANTIME, I have:

* been working at Bones’ office

* organizing actor sign-ups for this weekend

* getting paperwork together for the actors

* working at the haunt at night

* being interviewed about the haunt

* talking to local schools about our need for actors

* documenting my job for the person that will help Bones in the office while I’m gone

* training said person (probably badly…alas)

* figuring out how to get from my house to Chicago O’Hare via train

* buying travel insurance

* packing

* recruiting more help for Bones for this final push of haunt building

* blogging 🙂

* keeping track of family stuff (did I mention my mom is having health woe?  she is and AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAUGH!!)

…I have 4 different to do lists I’m working from right now.  I’m wicked tired, and I feel very very guilty about leaving Bones.  He is being incredibly, INCREDIBLY supportive.

But.

China.

CHINA.

I leave Sunday.

Holy poop, I’m going to *****CHINA******.