Chaos Attraction

So-So Workshop

2019-03-08, 11:24 p.m.

Work went well today for the whole 3.5 hours I was actually at it, because my boss and I got the international mailing situation set up. The announcement should go out next week after it’s approved, people have until the end of the month to set it up. We have a nice little trial set of 30 people, so we’ll see how it goes. I was also proofreading, which apparently my boss likes because she was all, “I love having you on my team.”

(No, yesterday’s little incident was not brought up. Whew.)

I don’t think I mentioned this in great deal yet(?), but Mary who does the Sacramento storytelling event asked me to teach the workshop I went to in Auburn at a class of hers. I should probably clarify that it’s an hour and 45 minute long class that runs through an organization that does classes for people 55 and up for recreational purposes. So no grades, no pressure, she pretty much lets people do things how they want to for the most part. The first hour is for students who want to to tell stories and then get a friendly critique, and then I was going to get around a half hour after the break for running this workshop.

However, Mary wanted to use one of her students’ stories instead of the one from the workshop originally. Okay, fine. I got the story a few days ago and thought the following:

(a) This sounds like “Stone Soup” in reverse.
(b) Or dining with Californians with food issues. Both of those things made me laugh.
(c) I’m assuming this is a kid’s story sort of thing because it had stage directions and audience participation by making people raise their hands periodically. (Plus, well, talking animals.) It was kind of oddly listed stage directions (like saying to have dramatic pauses and mooing and clucking), but I assumed the author didn’t usually write out stage directions.

It’s a story about a farmer’s wife making vegetable soup for all of the animals on the farm, except the animals all start objecting to various ingredients in the soup because they make them fat or or rosy or fart or something. After everyone speaks up about their objections and asks her to remove what probably boils down to all the ingredients but the water, the farmer’s wife announces that she can’t make the vegetable soup, BUUUUUUUUT she CAN make a nice meat soup that involves all of the farm the meal, one presumes...and then throw in some foie gras. (That last word was spelled out phonetically.) The dog is all for it, but the rest of the animals agree to eat vegetable soup as is, please.

I did not get to talk to the person who wrote it ahead of time. I was actually surprised that that person was NOT going to tell her own story--I was told she read it aloud, and I guess pretty straight without trying to act it out or anything at the time? Ooookay, whatever, I can do silly animal voices, that’s cool.

In the end, I would say the workshop went so-so. Most of the class was eitther friendly and nice or dead quiet and the ones that told stories did pretty well at that. One lady told a story about someone’s leg getting amputated, one guy told a story about how his first love was baseball and a third lady told a Swedish folk tale about a husband and wife swapping workloads for the day (ladies know how this went). I talked too fast and apparently people didn’t get what “foie gras” was, but that’s a totally fair assessment since I have no goddamned idea how to talk sloooooooowly enough for others to process. (How slow do I have to go?) “Foie gras” isn’t exactly an easy word to get under any circumstances and lord knows I can’t do French accent despite a year of French lessons. Did appreciate the joke though.

But the lady that wrote the story I had to use? Well. She appeared to have no sense of humor and kind of had what I refer to as Sour Lemon Face. (Look at pictures of Sylvia Browne or Daniel Craig for what I mean. Someone who looks permanently cranky and miserable. Though in this case she just looked very stonefaced and slightly RBF’y.) I asked her if it was intended for children and she’s all, “NO.” Oooookay then. I think I can say that she did not like my more lively rendition of it and she was defnitely cheesed off that despite the fact that Mary had introduced it as her story, I didn’t say “Name Of Story, By Your Full Name” when I started. I apologized, of course. Sigh. Then when we were doing the group stuff, she declined to do that, for obvious reasons. I’m sure she was talking nothing but shit about how awful I was all the way home, which I can imagine all too well. (Seriously, why she wasn’t reading her own story so it’d be done as she wanted, I do not know....) Mary said afterwards that this lady seemed to be more into the written word than storytelling and basically kinda sounded like “I’m not sure what she’s doing here, exactly.” And “I thought she’d be flattered by my wanting to use her story.” As it turns out, not so much!

As for the group activities, I think 2 out of the 3 of the groups got into it. The group Mary got into seemed to be having fun, at least. I was in a group with Mary’s husband Robin, who spent the entire class trying to set up watching a DVD and thus wasn’t paying attention, and that lady’s husband, who was pretty nice. Robin would just kinda...come up with something else off topic since he didn’t know the story, so I passed him the script. I was slightly concerned about Robin this day anyway since while he can drive, his parking is decidedly not so into the parking spots as God intended, and I gather he has issues with setting up the DVD player every week for the last four weeks. Mary insisted he Write It Down This Time. Hopefully he finds the instructions next week.

Mary was nice about it, they took me out to a fancy dessert place afterwards and we talked about storytelling and acting classes and going to the poetry center, so that was cool. I might do that for their show this month since now I have the free time, ahem. After that, I went to Barnes and Noble to pick up a new book I could only find in Sac and basically hung around until the accidents and ambulances and rush hour traffic died down enough for me to take some kr8tiv-directed GPS routes home.

Weird thing I noticed today: the radio station is repeating the same songs approximately every hour and a half, which seems to coincide with however long it takes me to drive somewhere, get out of the car and do my thing and get back in. “Sunflower” was playing when I got out to go to Barnes and Noble around 4:50 and was playing when I got back into the car around 6. That song--I don’t know the name, it goes “Lately, I been, I been thinking, I want you to be happier,”--was playing when I got out of the car after driving to the Birdstrike show and got stuck in my head, and when I got back in the car after the show that song was not only playing on the radio, it picked up exactly on the point of the song it was stuck in my head at. I’d think my psychic powers were coming back, except, y’know, harsh reality. Anyway, weird coincidence there.

As mentioned, I went to a Birdstrike improv show tonight, and it was pretty cool. It was dedicated to Margaret of Burgundy for no apparent reason and they asked people to guess her favorite pizza and things like that. They also had slides asking each member where they would time travel to and the best answer was “No other time because I’m a brown woman and shit was scary(ier) back then.” Another person, presumably absent, said she’d go back in time and convince herself not to audition for Grimm’s Fairy Tales so she could be in the show tonight. Others wanted to back to when the Padres didn’t suck, to “watch them fake the moon landing,” and find out who killed Tupac.

They started out by playing musical chairs with 2 chairs short, and the two that got no chairs would have to make up a scene. Then they had half the troupe play “Shotgun” (five family members arguing in a car), recreating the Oregon Trail and fighting over Grandpa going into a home and which family members would voluntarily die when he does and who smokes pot. Best line: “Would anyone like a special Oregon Trail themed snack?” Donner Party, anyone?

The other half of the troupe made up “The Form,” in which people changed scenes very quickly based on some word they were using at the time, “we go between degrees of reality.” So the word “flat” turned into flat Earth, flat soda, flat notes, flat breasts, and flat Stanley. Musical numbers were improvised, leading to the quotes “You’re going to tell us you’re failing out of school by singing it?” “It’s all just F notes!” Later this all morphed into naked drawings--”Someone told me that nudes catch on like wildfire and I’m trying to take off as an artist,” which morphed into a sketch artist for the police who always draws the penisses in and “that drawing of my dick is not accurate,” which turned into Braille porn and kids acting it out in the library.

It was pretty entertaining.

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