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Mid-Month Update with a New Business Idea!

Hey y’all, so it’s been a busy few weeks for TSJ. Two weeks ago was ATHE (Association for Theatre in Higher Education) conference in Las Vegas, and last week, I finally moved out of the apartment I’ve been living in for three years…and into a house (well, an apartment attached to a house) about 20 minutes down the road in Middleton. I don’t officially move into the apartment part where I’ll be living until 9/1, so for these next few weeks, I’m sharing space in the house part attached to the apartment, along with the owners, my dear friend Andrea and her husband Roger, living in one of their guest rooms. My dissertation proposal is also on 9/1, and I still don’t have a job for the fall yet, so I’m kind of freaking out, and all the news coming out of Charlottesville isn’t helping. So in the meantime, my main (read: only) source of income is from selling jewelry with Hanna, and even that basically only covers spending money for the day – coffee, food, gas, and parking meters, now that I don’t live downtown anymore.

I have been brainstorming other ways to make money and get my mind off of a lot of the stresses of life. Andrea, my new housemate, is quite the crafter and even though she has a day job, she makes and sells a few craft-type items on the side. Mostly things like little purses and magnets. The other night, as I was going through one of the thirty-ish boxes into which I packed my entire life, I found a small bag with some of the activities I made for Nigeria month at school. One of the things we learned was that different tribes in Nigeria have different costumes. The first week, we drew life-size versions of them, and I kept on reviewing the names of the different items each week so the kids would remember them, like the abaya (a dress for Hausa women), gele/buba/iro (items of clothing for Yoruba women), and lion’s head shirt/trousers (outfit worn by Igbo men). In the final week, Tribal Games, one of the activities was to match up pictures I had drawn of the different items of clothing to the correct names of the items and to which tribe they belonged. The drawings of the outfits ended up looking so cute that I kept them, and looking over at Andrea crafting at the other end of the couch, I got my idea.

Imagine it: a set of refrigerator magnets of costumes from around the world, that you could mix and match on pictures of your friends, so it would look like they were dressed up in fun and fancy outfits!

I would draw and color them, and sell them in sets of two, one male outfit and one female outfit, and include an information card on the origins of said costumes. Since I got the idea from African costumes, I might start with some African designs, then expand to include other countries, cultures and regions, both contemporary and historical. I don’t know what to call them yet (Fridge Brilliance? Flat Friends? Press and Dress? Wait…I actually kind of like that one.)

So, readers, here’s where you come in. Please vote in these two polls, as to a) whether it’s a good idea and b) what you’d be interested in buying. The choice is yours!

And the second poll…

::awaits results::

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If This Coffee Cup Could Talk…

Today, I decided to have an adventure in the wonderful town of Madison. I had heard of Dig N Save, but I wasn’t really sure what it was all about. I knew it was a resale shop, but we’ve got plenty of those, St. Vinny’s being the most prominent. Another friend told me that she had gone to Dig N Save and bought three hundred Beanie Babies to gut them and make a rug. I know that the 1990s aren’t coming back, but eviscerating them and sewing together their furry exteriors for art’s sake? Shudder.

Beanie Baby guts aside, I went to see Dig N Save for myself, and I couldn’t believe what I saw once I got there. There are resale shops, and then there are resale shops. Dig N Save wasn’t particularly big in terms of floor space, with only two large rooms, but the amount of crap they had was spectacular. The front room had dumpster-sized tubs full of used clothing, which people were rooting through. In the back, though, was where they had some really interesting crap. Mounted on pegs were wooden chairs and stools, most of them in great condition. The floor beneath them had dressers, file cabinets, desks, shelving, tables, sofas, and chairs, which, again, were a little dusty but not unusable. I guess if was truly unusable they wouldn’t bother putting it out. In the front of the room, however, were three rows of bins full of dolls, stuffed animals, board games, Beanie Babies (the ones that survived the massacre), and other childhood toys. The bin on the far wall contained china, and that’s where I found this gem.

Photo: Okay, so I saw this coffee mug in a junk shop and I couldn't look at it without laughing so I bought it. So much character. I wonder what it's story is and how it ended up in Madison.

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bought it, because who knows what’s been in that cup. But I saw it, laughed, and every time I passed it by, I couldn’t help but laugh. So I had to buy it, dust and all. They charge by wright, 35 cents per pound, and all I had was the mug, so it came out to a bank-breaking 37 cents.

But just look at it…it’s hysterical.

Someone named Bernie (or with a friend named Bernie) went to Las Vegas and bought this mug, pictured here on my kitchen table. First of all, there’s that name…Bernie. Bernie. Seriously. Do you know anyone under the age of 65 with that name? And no, pets don’t count. Plus, Las Vegas, the place where you can get lucky in the casino, or in other ways (if you have the money).

So here’s the image I have, and a story to go with it.

This guy is about 5’7″ and a half, average build, maybe a bit of a pot belly. He appears to be in his late fifties or sixties. He’s got wrinkly skin, a slight tan from working outside, a brown mullet, and of course, a porn-mustache offset by his grayish facial hair. He’s not from Vegas; he’s just visiting from California because he won his disability case for choking on a Good-n-Plenty while driving the forklift at his job at a beverage supplier. He drove here in his pickup, and is staying at a fleabag motel but spending all of his time between the blackjack tables and the bar. There he sits, in his blue striped dress shirt, faded leather jacket, jeans, and boots. He’s also wearing those thick-framed glasses that are kind of a pinkish at the top and fade down to clear. After losing almost all his money on a poorly-placed roulette bet, he’s at the bar, flicking cigarette butts into an ashtray, when he sees a quarter someone left on the ground by his stool. On a whim, he picks it up, goes back into the casino, sticks it in a slot machine, and what do you know – five thousand dollars. He goes “whoopee!” and then off to the mall to get some classy duds and to a dealership to trade his car for a white Cadillac. He drives down the Strip, catching the eyes of some drunk ladies, and tells them to get in. They do, and he takes them on a shopping spree for sequinned dresses and jewelry, so they look like his fantasy: the spokesmodels from The Price is Right. Then, he checks all of them into a fancy hotel where they get even more drunk, possibly snort some coke, and play around naked in the hot tub. Then, Bernie announces that he’s feeling lucky, so he gets into his new purple Hugh Hefner pimp suit and the ladies back in their dresses (silver and gold, of course) and back down to the casino. He shoots some craps, plays some blackjack or poker, then tries his luck on the roulette wheel. He asks one of the girls when she was born, and she says “26!” so he bets it all on 26 as he kisses her and she coos. Of course, his roulette wheel luck returns with a vengeance and the ball lands on 17. He turns to the girl and she says “how strange, I’m 17!”

“Wait, I thought you were 26?”

“Yeah, 26. I was born on June 26.”

“I asked you your age.”

“Ohhh, I didn’t understand the question.”

An undercover cop notices, and arrests Bernie for bringing a minor into a casino, taking him away as the girls vamoose. As the cop’s loading him into the car, Bernie trips and falls face first into the console, which pops open to reveal a bag of marijuana. Bernie quickly grabs it with his teeth, and as he gets up with it, head bruised and bloodied and all, the policeman realizes he’s been caught. A bunch of people have been watching this whole thing and go “ooooh.” The cop quickly grabs the bag from Bernie’s teeth, jams him in the car, then gets in and speeds off, narrowly missing a lady who is knitting while walking. He quickly makes a deal – he’ll release Bernie if Bernie leaves Vegas immediately. Without much of a choice, Bernie heartily accepts. The cop keeps driving past the police station and arrives at the airport. He stops in the loading zone, quickly, goes to the back seat and unshackles Bernie, leading him to the ticket agent and giving him $500 to pay for the ticket right there and then. Bernie buys the ticket, and the cop then runs out of the airport, gets in his car, and speeds away, yelling, “keep the change!”

Bernie goes through security, only to find out he’s got some time to kill before his flight. So he gets a pizza and a coke. After he finishes, he’s on his way back to the gate when he spies an airport gift shop. He goes in and pokes around, before seeing the mugs on display, and what do you know, they’ve got one “Bernie” mug left. He has just enough money to pay for it. They call his flight number over the intercom, and he hustles back to the gate and gets on the plane, ready to put the trip behind him, with his coffee mug as a souvenir.

Then he realizes that he drove to Las Vegas.

Whoops.

If you’ve read this far, congratulate yourself. I wonder: what do you think of Bernie? I want to hear your “Bernie in Las Vegas” story…if you write and post one, comment below with the link and I’ll reblog you!