Adventures in RL Archive

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That Time I Hung Out With Queen Elizabeth

When you have a best friend who was basically raised at the renaissance festival, you’re eventually going to learn all about it. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll even someday get […]

When you have a best friend who was basically raised at the renaissance festival, you’re eventually going to learn all about it. And maybe, just maybe, you’ll even someday get an in person glimpse into the world in a way you never got when you just attended the festival.

The performers on court do weeks of training. They need to learn about life in that time, about how someone with their rank fits into society, the dances, the songs, the protocol and much more. It’s more than just learning the language, it’s how to bow/curtsey and when. How to address the others on court. Who the others on court are. Because not only do you need to know your back story, you need to know everyone else’s as well.

And then there’s the clothing. oof. That’s a whole other beast in and of itself!

After getting special permission to bring me on court for a day, T-Rex had to bootcamp me in a few days. She let me borrow her binder that helped a lot with understanding the ranking system and the language. She taught me three of the four dances (one was far more complex and we basically covered dancing within a fifteen minute timespan. Thankfully I have a background that allows me to pick up on movement things very quickly!). She explained the proper way to depart from Her Majesty. She covered the basics of attending, not that I would actively be doing so but she covered it anyway. She went over what the day would be like. And most importantly, she was able to find a dress for me. I ordered a corset that arrived a few days prior (and of course was too large despite her having taken my measurements and if anyone is going to get them right it’s her, AND I ordered a size down from what it said I needed!) but we were able to make it work by putting it on me upside down since the hoop for the skirt would make it flare out anyway. Hopefully soon I can get it taken in to fit me better. If I ever wear the damn thing again! 🙂

I arrived on site hours before the festival gates opened. T-Rex laced me into my corset, then hoop, then blouse, then underskirt, then overskirt, then bodice, then everything else. Seriously, it’s not just putting on a dress. It took her about 20 minutes to do it and she’s experienced in dressing people. I can easily see it taking closer to an hour for the more elaborate gowns or for someone who isn’t as experienced as she is. Then she helped dress the Queen and got her some breakfast as her hair was being done. Unlike the cast who attends the Queen while on the grounds, there are people who have to attend her out-of-character. It’s an exhausting process and an exhausting job!

Once everyone was ready, we headed onto the grounds and met up with the rest of court, then onto the grounds to assemble for morning meeting. One of my good friends who is on cast (who once played my ‘space husband’ in a short film) looked over and saw me and was floored. He had no idea I was going to be there, let alone on court for the day! It was awesome to see the expression on his face when he saw me, especially done up in my garb.

After morning meeting, it was time to parade (pronounced pah-rad) to the front gates to open the festival for the day. And what a delight! William Shakespeare was there to announce he was casting for a role in his new play, Hamlet 2: The Dane of our Existence. He begged the Queen to put an end to it, as everyone came out to audition. And she did. By announcing that she was there to audition as well and that ‘We are Elizabeth. Do we have the part?’ And of course she did. Then the gates were opened and the royal guard passed through, followed by the Queen and then her attendants.

Now one thing you might never have noticed is that her courtiers are all lined up behind her in two rows. The first two are her active attendants, then it follows by rank with the highest ranking up front. I ranked further back as I chose a lower rank. I was Lady Moira Rosemary, married to Sir William Rosemary who is the eldest brother of T-Rex’s character, Lady Saffron. Moira’s father is one of the richest men in the region and pretty much William married her for her money. Neither of them wanted to get married, let alone to each other, but you gotta do what you gotta do. So she’s not the highest of rank but she’s rich AF and is from a small town originally where she spent all her time reading because she was educated and hating sewing because she sucks at it. But she does like music and poetry and dance so she’s not a tomboy like some of the women on court. I think perhaps next time I go, I will carry a book around with me and pretend to be absorbed in my reading. (I mean it’s not much different than me in real life, right?!)

Anyway, you’re in two rows and when someone steps out, the people behind them move up to fill in the gap. The only person who should be walking alone (aside from the Queen) is the last person if there is an odd number. I pretty easily slipped into this and enjoyed always being next to someone new. So we go inside and line up to greet everyone as they enter. I’d never been there early enough to see the opening ceremony so it was exciting for me to see it the first time from that side of things.

We welcomed people and then started morning dance. It’s so when people walk in, it automatically engages them. There are a couple of dances for the couriers, which I did not have a partner for one of them and the other I was holding some things for someone so couldn’t join in, and then there’s one where we grab people to come join us. We’re in a large circle and go through the very easy steps slowly, then start the dance. As we dance, the music gets slightly faster and it’s quite hilarious and fun really engages people. Then we walked around. Every few steps someone would stop to talk to the Queen or to take pictures. It was awesome. There were a few scheduled events during the day, like archery and the joust and the children’s knighting ceremony and the feast, but we spent much of the day just walking around and interacting with people.

Maybe the highlight was being able to watch the joust in the box with the Queen. Only a few people are allowed in there at a time but I was one of them! It’s a very different perspective and every year I’d go I’d be stuck behind tall people and not be able to really see the action so I finally did and it was cool. At one point I also found myself temporarily filling in for one of the attendants which was also exciting even if it was only for maybe three minutes. But the most special thing all day was when the Queen held court and Lady Saffron and Lady Rosemary presented Her Majesty with a gift. It was a bottle of whiskey with a special label that I designed for her. The present was really from T-Rex and had special meaning to the Queen and when we presented her with it, her eyes welled up with tears for a moment and when she kissed me on each cheek, she whispered thank you to me and the sound of sincerity in her voice made me almost break down crying. Then I took a place on the benches behind her with the rest of court and watched as she had other gifts presented to her. The best part of her holding court was when the brother of one of the courtiers was there (her whole family came for the day) and when he presented himself to the Queen, he corrected himself and said his name was ‘Matt. Matthew.’ and all day long whenever we would see him, we would yell greetings to Matt Matthew! We saw him again at the Dancing With The Royals competition where I think he came in third place, then at the knighting ceremony where he became Sir Matt Matthew. And because he was young and good looking and now knighted, all the ladies of court would giggle and flirt with him hilariously and he played along and was just awesome.

I’m surprised I lasted all day in the full garb. Everyone seemed surprised it was my first day in a corset and full Elizabethan clothing, so that was cool. I guess I powered through pretty well. I did learn that you absolutely cannot bend at the waist when you are wearing a corset that is laced so tightly that you can’t breathe. Let’s just say it made visits to the privy rather interesting. I’m going to have corset marks for days, though. And I think I might have some bruising where the corset pressed into my hips and lower back. I had better posture than I’ve ever had in my life, though! Maybe I should wear a corset (a LOOSER corset) every day. I’d have amazing posture!

We ended the day with the pub sing where we would gather at the pub and each of the musical groups would come up for a song. The space is very limited so the Queen only takes a few of her ladies in waiting with her and I was picked to go! It was awesome. It’s definitely an experience I won’t forget and when I mentioned ‘Maybe I can come back and do it again one day next year,’ the Queen said she would love it and the court director (who was on court and I spent most of the day with and didn’t even realize that was her job!) actually clapped and bounced in her seat and said she’d love love love it if I did. So I apparently didn’t do a terrible job and embarrass everyone! It was a bit slow at first, I admit, where I was mostly watching everyone and taking cues from them, but by the end of the day I would stop and talk to people and gave out the rest of my Queen’s Rings (little rings we give to the children as gifts from Her Majesty) and they’d light up and be excited. I can’t wait to go back again next year! And it’s one more thing off my bucket list!

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Adventures in Bad Axe

This was the weekend of The Twins Take On Bad Axe (otherwise known as the road trip for R & K’s wedding).

Friday began slow, with Teq allowing me to sleep in for a bit. It was luxurious and nice, but I was still a bit too stressed out to entirely enjoy it. I had many errands to run to prepare for the trip. We hoped to be on the road around 2 PM, so I rolled myself out of bed and got ready to go. I had to make my hair pretty, because I knew that we wouldn’t have a chance to on the way and I wanted to look nice for the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner. It wouldn’t do to scare off the seven groomsmen and various friends/family of the groom whom I hadn’t yet met!

I had to go to Troy for a fitting for Red Dawn next week. My time to be there was between 9-10 AM. I finished there and realized that I left all my makeup at home so I had only powder and lipgloss in my purse. Which would usually be fine, as I don’t really wear makeup in my day-to-day life, but I had to go to Royal Oak for an audition! So I stopped and bought some mascara (which I HIGHLY recommend: LashBlast Luxe — it has a pink tint that you don’t really see but I love AND it stays on and doesn’t flake off or rub off under my eyes AT ALL. Which when you have very deep-set eyes like I do is always an issue. Plus it made my lashes look awesome.) and put it on then went to the audition.

My audition time was at 11. I arrived at 10:48, got my folder with my headshots, looked over the sides again, checked that my hair was staying somewhat under control and walked up to the building, only to find that it was locked! I’d been there before so I knew it was the right door and looking in, I could see the sign for actors to sign in. But nobody was there… around 11:10, the casting director’s assistant showed up and apologized. He didn’t realize they had someone booked right at 11, they usually don’t schedule anyone before 11:30 as they ‘open’ at 11. Still, it worked out great! He has a great sense of humor and I remember him from the previous audition there. There was a slight crisis via phone and email that he had to take care of, but I was patient and not in a hurry because I know Ang wasn’t going to be ready for at least an hour as she had a meeting.

Audition went well, I think! I’m glad because I would like the casting director to review the tape and realize that unlike last time, I am NOT typically unprepared and horrible. Though I think it wasn’t quite my fault last time as I was given the wrong information about what I was reading for. Nothing like getting to an audition to find out that the role’s been cast and you have to do on-the-spot improv without having any background information about the production or the character. Especially when you have to do it all without using actual words. At the end of reading the sides (which I honestly felt I did a good job on!), there was something more. Since these are European filmmakers, apparently they like you to add a 15-30 second reel talking about yourself so they can get to know a bit more about you. I did my little info burst and at the end went ‘OKAYBYE!’ and realized omg. OH EM GEE. I just okaybyed the filmmakers on my tape. I asked Jim if I could go do it again and he laughed, said it was fine as it was. Well, at least I know I’ll be memorable!

Then it was out to Ann Arbor for more errands. First off, had to stop by work to feed my fish because I forgot to ask my friend to feed them on Friday (she’s feeding them all next week while I’m off doing Red Dawn). Turns out she realized I was gone and fed them already! YAY! I have awesome friends. So I did that, then I picked up the Ang at the mall parking lot across the road, then we went to Fed Ex to send off something to be returned. I ended up in there for about 20 minutes making new friends with the people who worked there. Poor Ang, sitting in the car while I ran out to get business cards and saying ‘Okay I’ll be done in a sec!’ — but I was able to give one guy some info that I think will be very informative and helpful for him and might have gotten Teq some business out of the deal so YAY for that!

Then it was off to the dry cleaning place that did the alterations on my dress for the wedding. I was scared. I didn’t have time to get it fixed if they screwed it up, since I hadn’t gotten the dress until about a week before the wedding because David’s Bridal ordered the wrong thing and it was a mess. BUT!!! The dress fit PERFECTLY! I was so happy! Looking at pictures, I have to say that them taking in my skirt a little bit as well when they took almost 5 inches in at the waist made it hang so much better than the original cut of that style dress. Anyway, I was giddy!

After errands were done, we went back to the mall for her car, then drove to my house. On the way, her car started to freak out all over again. Engine light staying on, etc. So we decided we’d take my car to Bad Axe instead. It’s better than potentially breaking down in the middle of nowhere! So we packed up my car, I woke up Teq for a goodbye kiss and we were off! It was around 2:30 when we left.

The trip was uneventful. Lots of driving. Stopped a couple of times for gas and then to eat and stuff. I was never so happy to find a Rite Aid or a bank in my life, so I’ll just throw that out there. I was never this far into the thumb before and it was BEAUTIFUL. The trees were just starting to really turn, so the leaves hadn’t all fallen off yet. The air was clear, the sun was bright and it was just nice all around. Even around Flint the traffic wasn’t bad and I expected it to be horrible.

We made it there just in time for the rehearsal dinner. It was starting to get dark out, so I was glad to be at the destination so we weren’t looking for it in the dark. We ate, then headed over to the wedding chapel for the rehearsal. Now mind you, everything is like 30-45 minutes apart there. EVERYTHING. So we spent a lot of time in the car over the weekend just getting from one place to another. Also, everything is cash only up there. The hair place, the bars, everything. I had no idea we’d be that far out of civilization that they don’t use credit or debit cards anywhere except Taco Bell and Walmart!

Anyway, the rehearsal went off great except when I got up the aisle, I kept turning the wrong way. Everyone else would spin to their left as they got into place, I kept spinning to the right. It was just weird. I did get it right at the actual ceremony though! YAY! Also, since we hadn’t checked in at the hotel, I had my dress in the car so we were able to bring it down to the dressing area so I didn’t have to worry about it the next day. That was pretty awesome, actually.

Then it was like two hours to drive to the hotel (okay, more like 35ish mins) and we checked in and still had a bit of time to go to the pool since the pool closed at midnight! Oh, Sister-The-Eldest had the room connected to ours, so we were back and forth between the rooms all weekend long. That was pretty fun, especially since I like her boyfriend Brian who came with her. We all get along great and it made it helpful when we were getting ready and stuff. Plus it helped us put a dent in the JD and Coca-Cola.

So we got ready, went downstairs and they had a hot tub! The hot tub was taken over by the bridal party, including the bride who was staying in their suite that they had for their wedding night. She stayed there so he wouldn’t see her before the wedding. At nearly midnight they came in to tell us we had to get ready to leave. Finally the screaming teenagers who kept running, screaming and splashing went back so we had about 2 minutes of quiet and relaxation finally. Then it was off to bed!

Got up, showered and got dressed and was in the lobby at 8 to leave for our hair appointments. My hair looked awesome, though it’s not a style I’d typically do. It was curly and not frizzy at all! YAY! When she finished, she sprayed it with glitter, too. So not only was my hair non-frizzy, it was sparkly. I do love me some sparkles! R decided to get sparkles added to her hair, too.

Eventually we got to the chapel and got dressed. I helped lace R into her wedding gown, which had a lace-up corset back. Took a while but it was worth it because it looked very cute. We all looked very cute, actually!

Then deep breath, it was time for the ceremony. As stated before, I turned the correct way! YAY for me! The ceremony went without a hitch, I did my best to keep her train straight and held her flowers when necessary and helped her stepdaughter who was the flower girl, making sure she was in the right place at the right time. It was a very pretty ceremony and fairly short. Then we went outside for pictures.

It got COLD out. BRR! We took some awesome pictures, then loaded onto the party bus to go get pictures done at the farm, then a bar crawl on the way to the reception. The party bus was loaded up with booze and we made a decent dent in it on the way.

Then the bus broke down.

Seriously. The. Bus. Broke. Down. Mind you, we’re in the middle of nowhere, with nothing but corn, cows and wind turbines as far as the eye can see. But one of the groomsmen lived on a farm not far away so we headed there to await the new bus. This works out great because several of us have to pee at this point because of the booze consumption and the cold and the bumpy ride. Only… the couple whose house it was? Had left the key at the reception hall in the car and carpooled to the chapel. Eventually we figured it out that they had a spare but for a while we were giving serious consideration to pulling a Mobile and peeing in the field. 🙂 Which was fun in our fancy gowns with many layers.

The new bus arrived, and we were back on our way! We were supposed to stop at two farms for pictures, but the bus fiasco cut into our time so we only had time to stop at K’s farm. And there we got the famous BIG GREEN TRACTOR PICTURE. Because nothing says awesome like a bunch of drunks in fancy clothes on a tractor.

I have to admit, though. It was fun and it was an experience I will quite likely never get to experience again. Plus by then we were intoxicated enough to forget that it was freezing cold out. That is, in my book, always a bonus, right?

Then it was on to the bar crawl, going to both bars in a fifty million mile radius. Of course, both were cash only, but it worked out because the last thing I needed was to keep doing shots of whiskey. By then I wanted to start sobering up some so I stopped going drink-for-drink with the guys. Ang was pretty sober for the entire trip and during the reception. In fact, when we got to the reception, it was an open bar! But by then I didn’t even want to drink anymore.

The reception was fun and beautiful and we had some inside jokes for the bridal party and then by 11:30, everyone was pretty much tired and ready for bed. It’d been ten hours since the wedding started and most of them got up around 4 AM or so, so it was time to call it a night. Ang and I were among the last to arrive. Got back and had to shower. Took four times of washing my hair to get all the glitter and hairspray out. Then I got online to talk to Teq for a few, since my phone was not getting very good reception (for a while, I couldn’t make calls but I could RECEIVE them and I could send text messages so that was odd) and plus it was on roaming and cost me 59 cents a minute. For realsies. That’s insane! So I got on IM for a bit and then went to sleep.

Then it was wake up and drive home! So we did. Hit some crazy traffic on the way and stuff, but it wasn’t too bad.

Got some laundry started and have to get ready to get up at 4 AM so I can be on the set of Red Dawn in time!

So that was Misty and Angie take on Bad Axe.

Tune in later for lots of Bad Axe and Ubly jokes. We had nothing else to do in the drive than make bad jokes. 🙂