Book Reviews, Book Talks, Bumbling Bea, drama education, Uncategorized

Exclusive Interview of My Main Character

http://www.tabislick.com/2017/09/bumblinginterview.html

Recently, my main character Beatrice Brace was interviewed on the Slick Writing Corner.  Thank you so much to Tabi and the Slick writing Corner.   Here is the interview:

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*Intro music begins to play as lights hit front stage*

Tabi: Welcome back! How’s everyone feeling tonight?

*Audience goes wild, clapping their hands and whistling enthusiastically*

Tabi: Awesome, well thank you all for joining us. Tonight we have a very special guest all the way from Chesapeake, Virginia put your hands together for Beatrice Brace!

*Beatrice enters the stage as the audience applaud*

*The two take a seat and the audience follows their lead*

Tabi: So, Beatrice, I hear you’re trying out for the lead role in your 8th grade school play. Could you tell us a little bit about the part you’ll be auditioning for?

Beatrice: I want to play the leading role of Pocahontas in our annual school play about Pocahontas and John Smith. Even though the script isn’t very factual and sort of dumb, I still want to play the lead role.

Tabi: And why is that?

Beatrice: This is my last time to audition for the school play. My Grandpa Percy passed away during the play rehearsal time when I was in sixth grade and in seventh grade I had to have my tonsils taken out and missed the show. So if I’m going to perform Pocahontas, this is my last time. Plus, if I get the leading part, I’m guaranteed to make friends with the popular kids before we move to high school next year. High school really scares me.

Tabi: High school can seem pretty scary, but once you’re there it usually gets less scary. You mentioned being guaranteed friends with the popular crowd, could you explain this a little bit?

Beatrice: Popular kids like other kids who are in the limelight.  Somehow they think that will rub off on them, so they stick close to them to survive. I think I’m stupid, pudgy and not very talented. If I am cast as Pocahontas at least for a Nano second, I’ll be popular with those kids. There are only three other eighth grade students auditioningmy two friends Jerri and Peter and this Japanese girl, Michiko. The three of us are shoe-ins. I don’t know about Michiko.

Tabi: Could you tell us a little bit about Michiko?

Beatrice: Ugh. Okay, if I have to… Michiko Tannabe is a girl who is visiting from Japan for the school year. She is the same age as I, but a complete opposite of me. She is petite, slender, delicate, very talented and super smart. She wears cat ears and dramatizes everything in her life.

Tabi: I guess auditioning for the school play makes sense then.

Beatrice: I think she’s kinda pushy and a know-it-all. My alter ego, Bumbling Bea, takes care of her for me. Well, I should say Bumbling Bea tries to take care of Michiko for me, but it backfires big time thanks to Peter’s failed sabotage attempt with poison ivy.

Tabi *Look of shock*: Poison ivy? Yikes! Unless you’re like me and are in the 15% who aren’t allergic. And what is or who is Bumbling Bea?

Beatrice: As I mentioned, she’s my alter egosarcastic, rude and a know it all. She says too much and needs to think before she speaks. Ha! If she did, she’d vanish. She shows up out of nowhere and takes over. Whenever I am awkward or unsure, Bumbling Bea blurts something to make me feel better about myself.

Tabi: I see. And what about your friends, what are Jerri and Peter like?

Beatrice: I think everyone should have a Jerri in their life. She’s the kind of friend who can speak honestly to me about myself.

Tabi: That’s a good kind of friends to have. And what about Peter?

Beatrice: I think everyone probably has a friend like Peter in their life, too. He’s kind of nerdy and awkward, but hysterically funny at the same time. Sometimes I just call him “P” to get his attention.

*Beatrice’s alter ego takes over*

Bumbling Bea: There’s a reason, but I’m not gonna share that, too. Jeez!

*Beatrice returns. Tabi glances with concern to the audience before returning her attention to Beatrice*

Tabi: Uh-uh… I see. And how did you meet these two?

Beatrice: We met in kindergarten and have been pals ever since. We live in the same neighborhood and together we ride our bikes to school every day.

Tabi: How nice! It’s good to have friends nearby. On a different note, let’s get to know you a little bit more. What’s your favorite song on the radio?

Beatrice: I like “Lights” by Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift’s “I’m only Me When I’m With You”?

Tabi: Really? What do you like about these songs?

Beatrice: When I first heard “Lights” I looked up the meaning of the song.  One opinion is that it is about depression and how she beats it.  Sometimes I’m depressed, but I always remember whatever is bothering me will pass in time.  I just like Taylor’s song because I can dance to it.  

Tabi: What about your favorite movie?

Beatrice: I like all the Stars Wars movies and Marvel Comics, especially Wonder Woman.  She’s awesome!

Tabi: I agree! Wonder Woman is my absolute favorite. Good choice! And do you play a sport?

*Bumbling Bea takes over, giving Tabi a look like she’s a crazy person*

Bumbling Bea: Heck no.

*The Audience laughs*

Tabi: Haha, okay moving on. So if you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Bumbling Bea: Anywhere but here.

*The audience watches as Beatrice returns*

Beatrice: I’d like to visit England and see Stonehenge and Stratford on Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Tabi: Ahh, now the auditioning for the play makes more sense. Do you dream of acting in one of Shakespeare’s plays?

Beatrice:  I doubt it.  His plays are in iambic pentameter, you know?  I’m afraid I’d forget the lines and mess up the rhythm of them while doing so.  

Tabi: Well, I wish you the best of luck in auditioning for Pocahontas. Now, you said Michiko is also auditioning for the part, correct?

Beatrice: Yes.

Tabi: What would you say is her best quality?

Beatrice: Michiko is fearless and driven. She doesn’t care if other students like her. She knows what she wants and goes for it.

Tabi: Those are great qualities. What do your friends think of Michiko?

Beatrice: Jerri becomes fast friends with Michiko. It takes Peter longer, because he’s more interested in making money to buy a scooter than anything else. At first, he doesn’t even notice her.

Tabi: and what do you think Michiko thinks of you?

Beatrice: I think Michiko doesn’t even notice me until she is forced to work with me on the play. She probably thinks I’m stupid and boring. Maybe she’s right, but I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of thinking so. I’ll show her!

*Michiko enters the stage unexpectedly*

Michiko: Oh, Beatrice. I brought you some of my mother’s almond cookies which you like so much.

*Awww sounds ensue from the crowd at the touching gesture*

Beatrice: Thank you, I guess.

Michiko: What are you doing?

Beatrice: I’m being interviewed about my Bumbling Bea story.

Michiko: Oh that story. I’m glad we’re past that, aren’t you? It was a crazy time for both of us.

*Michiko turns to Tabi*

Michiko: Tabi, has Beatrice shared how it ends?

Tabi: Why, no actually.

Beatrice: No, duh. And I’m not gonna. She’ll have to read it.

Michiko: Exactly! I agree with you, Beatrice. It wouldn’t be any fun to know the ending before you read the book. Then you’d have to call the book a different name.

*Beatrice looks confused by this*

Beatrice: What? I don’t get it, Michiko.

Michiko: Beatrice, you’d have to call the book a different name because the story would be backwards. You could give it a title like Fable of Bea Bumbling. That would be a good name for a play. I can see it now, a group of sound effects men are lined up on the stage with their gongs reads to announce your entrance. A narrator, me, promenades to the center of the stage and strikes a dramatic pose. A Kabuki pose would be best, I think.

Beatrice: Oh brother. Here we go again.

Tabi: Okay, well that’s all the time we have this evening. Don’t forget to go and grab your copy of Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin!

*Outro music begins*

Tabi: Next Friday we’ll be joined by a real, live private investigator who solves murders around Absentia and he’ll  be here to show us how it’s done. Come on, you know you don’t want to miss the exclusive interview with Felix the Fox!

Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/120288238627586

If you’d like more information about the Slick Writing Corner, check it out here:

*Intro music begins to play as lights hit front stage*

Tabi: Welcome back! How’s everyone feeling tonight?

*Audience goes wild, clapping their hands and whistling enthusiastically*

crowd cheering

Tabi: Awesome, well thank you all for joining us. Tonight we have a very special guest all the way from Chesapeake, Virginia put your hands together for Beatrice Brace!

*Beatrice enters the stage as the audience applaud*

*The two take a seat and the audience follows their lead*

Tabi: So, Beatrice, I hear you’re trying out for the lead role in your 8th grade school play. Could you tell us a little bit about the part you’ll be auditioning for?

Beatrice: I want to play the leading role of Pocahontas in our annual school play about Pocahontas and John Smith. Even though the script isn’t very factual and sort of dumb, I still want to play the lead role.

Tabi: And why is that?

Beatrice: This is my last time to audition for the school play. My Grandpa Percy passed away during the play rehearsal time when I was in sixth grade and in seventh grade I had to have my tonsils taken out and missed the show. So if I’m going to perform Pocahontas, this is my last time. Plus, if I get the leading part, I’m guaranteed to make friends with the popular kids before we move to high school next year. High school really scares me.

Tabi: High school can seem pretty scary, but once you’re there it usually gets less scary. You mentioned being guaranteed friends with the popular crowd, could you explain this a little bit?

Beatrice: Popular kids like other kids who are in the limelight.  Somehow they think that will rub off on them, so they stick close to them to survive. I think I’m stupid, pudgy and not very talented. If I am cast as Pocahontas at least for a Nano second, I’ll be popular with those kids. There are only three other eighth grade students auditioningmy two friends Jerri and Peter and this Japanese girl, Michiko. The three of us are shoe-ins. I don’t know about Michiko.

Tabi: Could you tell us a little bit about Michiko?

Beatrice: Ugh. Okay, if I have to… Michiko Tannabe is a girl who is visiting from Japan for the school year. She is the same age as I, but a complete opposite of me. She is petite, slender, delicate, very talented and super smart. She wears cat ears and dramatizes everything in her life.

Tabi: I guess auditioning for the school play makes sense then.

Beatrice: I think she’s kinda pushy and a know-it-all. My alter ego, Bumbling Bea, takes care of her for me. Well, I should say Bumbling Bea tries to take care of Michiko for me, but it backfires big time thanks to Peter’s failed sabotage attempt with poison ivy.

Tabi *Look of shock*: Poison ivy? Yikes! Unless you’re like me and are in the 15% who aren’t allergic. And what is or who is Bumbling Bea?

Beatrice: As I mentioned, she’s my alter egosarcastic, rude and a know it all. She says too much and needs to think before she speaks. Ha! If she did, she’d vanish. She shows up out of nowhere and takes over. Whenever I am awkward or unsure, Bumbling Bea blurts something to make me feel better about myself.

Tabi: I see. And what about your friends, what are Jerri and Peter like?

Beatrice: I think everyone should have a Jerri in their life. She’s the kind of friend who can speak honestly to me about myself.

Tabi: That’s a good kind of friend to have. And what about Peter?

Beatrice: I think everyone probably has a friend like Peter in their life, too. He’s kind of nerdy and awkward, but hysterically funny at the same time. Sometimes I just call him “P” to get his attention.

*Beatrice’s alter ego takes over*

Bumbling Bea: There’s a reason, but I’m not gonna share that, too. Jeez!

*Beatrice returns. Tabi glances with concern to the audience before returning her attention to Beatrice*

Tabi: Uh-uh… I see. And how did you meet these two?

Beatrice: We met in kindergarten and have been pals ever since. We live in the same neighborhood and together we ride our bikes to school every day.

Tabi: How nice! It’s good to have friends nearby. On a different note, let’s get to know you a little bit more. What’s your favorite song on the radio?

Beatrice: I like “Lights” by Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift’s “I’m only Me When I’m With You”?

Tabi: Really? What do you like about these songs?

Beatrice: When I first heard “Lights” I looked up the meaning of the song.  One opinion is that it is about depression and how she beats it.  Sometimes I’m depressed, but I always remember whatever is bothering me will pass in time.  I just like Taylor’s song because I can dance to it.  

Tabi: What about your favorite movie?

Beatrice: I like all the Stars Wars movies and Marvel Comics, especially Wonder Woman.  She’s awesome!

Tabi: I agree! Wonder Woman is my absolute favorite. Good choice! And do you play a sport?

*Bumbling Bea takes over, giving Tabi a look like she’s a crazy person*

Bumbling Bea: Heck no.

*The Audience laughs*

Tabi: Haha, okay moving on. So if you could visit anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Bumbling Bea: Anywhere but here.

*The audience watches as Beatrice returns*

Beatrice: I’d like to visit England and see Stonehenge and Stratford on Avon, Shakespeare’s birthplace.

Tabi: Ahh, now the auditioning for the play makes more sense. Do you dream of acting in one of Shakespeare’s plays?

Beatrice:  I doubt it.  His plays are in iambic pentameter, you know?  I’m afraid I’d forget the lines and mess up the rhythm of them while doing so.  

Tabi: Well, I wish you the best of luck in auditioning for Pocahontas. Now, you said Michiko is also auditioning for the part, correct?

Beatrice: Yes.

Tabi: What would you say is her best quality?

Beatrice: Michiko is fearless and driven. She doesn’t care if other students like her. She knows what she wants and goes for it.

Tabi: Those are great qualities. What do your friends think of Michiko?

Beatrice: Jerri becomes fast friends with Michiko. It takes Peter longer, because he’s more interested in making money to buy a scooter than anything else. At first, he doesn’t even notice her.

Tabi: and what do you think Michiko thinks of you?

Beatrice: I think Michiko doesn’t even notice me until she is forced to work with me on the play. She probably thinks I’m stupid and boring. Maybe she’s right, but I’m not going to give her the satisfaction of thinking so. I’ll show her!

*Michiko enters the stage unexpectedly*

Michiko: Oh, Beatrice. I brought you some of my mother’s almond cookies which you like so much.

*Awww sounds ensue from the crowd at the touching gesture*

Beatrice: Thank you, I guess.

Michiko: What are you doing?

Beatrice: I’m being interviewed about my Bumbling Bea story.

Michiko: Oh that story. I’m glad we’re past that, aren’t you? It was a crazy time for both of us.

*Michiko turns to Tabi*

Michiko: Tabi, has Beatrice shared how it ends?

Tabi: Why, no actually.

Beatrice: No, duh. And I’m not gonna. She’ll have to read it.

Michiko: Exactly! I agree with you, Beatrice. It wouldn’t be any fun to know the ending before you read the book. Then you’d have to call the book a different name.

*Beatrice looks confused by this*

Beatrice: What? I don’t get it, Michiko.

Michiko: Beatrice, you’d have to call the book a different name because the story would be backwards. You could give it a title like Fable of Bea Bumbling. That would be a good name for a play. I can see it now, a group of sound effects men are lined up on the stage with their gongs reads to announce your entrance. A narrator, me, promenades to the center of the stage and strikes a dramatic pose. A Kabuki pose would be best, I think.

Beatrice: Oh brother. Here we go again.

Tabi: Okay, well that’s all the time we have this evening. Don’t forget to go and grab your copy of Bumbling Bea by Deborah Baldwin!

*Outro music begins*

Tabi: Next Friday we’ll be joined by a real, live private investigator who solves murders around Absentia and he’ll  be here to show us how it’s done. Come on, you know you don’t want to miss the exclusive interview with Felix the Fox!

Check it out here: https://www.facebook.com/events/120288238627586

 

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

Book Talks, Bumbling Bea, Teaching, Uncategorized

Student Survival: The Importance of Pleasure Reading for a Kid

Recently, I was looking for a  pleasure reading book to purchase for my upcoming trip over seas. I was having a difficult time finding one.

books

Some people are selective about the genres they read.  I usually gravitate toward books with quirky characters in ordinary appearing plots. I say “ordinary appearing” because it is always intriguing to find the characters going somewhere else than you expected.

However, I am known to cheat and read the last chapter of a book if a. the story is moving too slowly for me or b. I’m dying to know what happens. When I was a child, my mother would scold me for doing so–still haven’t kicked the habit.  Sorry, Mom.

I worry about kids’ reading preferences. It seems many writers write for whatever trend is popular the time. A few years ago, it was zombies and time travelers. Not every child wants to read fantasy or graphic novels.  That’s why I penned Bumbling Bea.  If you haven’t picked up my book, you might want to try it.  I promise you, it isn’t your run of the mill plot! Check it out here: http://tinyurl.com/n5at3oh

I ran on to an article concerning this concern and I thought you’d be interested, too.

Indie Book

Promoting the Pleasures of Reading: Why It Matters to Kids and to Country

June 10, 2017Advocacy, Inquiry, Literacy, Reading, Teachingpleasure readingLu Ann McNabb

This post is written by member Jeffrey Wilhelm.

Reading Unbound: Why Kids Need to Read What They Want and Why We Should Let Them was this past year’s winner of the NCTE David H. Russell Award for Distinguished Research in English Education.

The research findings that we report in Reading Unbound have profound implications for us as teachers, for our students, and for democracy.

In our book, we argue that pleasure reading is a civil rights issue. Why? Because fine-grained longitudinal studies (e.g., the British Cohort study: Sullivan & Brown, 2013; and John Guthrie’s analysis of PISA data, 2004, among many others) demonstrate that pleasure reading in youth is the most explanatory factor in both cognitive progress and social mobility over time.

books swirling

Pleasure reading is more powerful than parents’ educational attainment or socioeconomic status. This means that pleasure reading is THE way to address social inequalities in terms of actualizing our students’ full potential and overcoming barriers to satisfying and successful lives.

We think that our data explain why pleasure reading leads to cognitive growth and social mobility.

The major takeaway for teachers is to focus on pleasure in our teaching. Pleasure has many forms: play pleasure/immersive pleasure, when you get lost in a book—this is a prerequisite pleasure and we can foster it in various ways, such as teaching with an inquiry approach, using drama and visualization strategies, etc.; work pleasure, where you get a functional and immediately applicable tool for doing something in your life; inner work pleasure, where you imaginatively rehearse for your life and consider what kind of person you want to be; intellectual pleasure, where you figure out what things mean and how texts were constructed to convey meanings and effects; and social pleasure, in which you relate to authors, characters, other readers, and yourself by staking your own identity.

Kids (like all other human beings!) do what they find pleasurable. You get good at what you do and then outgrow yourself by developing new related interests and capacities.

Book

Play pleasure develops the capacity to engage and immerse oneself, to visualize meanings and relate to characters. It is the desire to love and be loved. Work pleasure is the love of getting something functional done. Work pleasure is about the love of application and visible signs of accomplishment. Readers engaging in this pleasure cultivate transfer of strategies and insights to life.

Inner work pleasure involves imaginatively rehearsing what kind of person one wants to be. As our informant Helen asserted: “It’s not really learning about yourself, it’s learning about what you could be . . . .” and “Characters are ways of thinking really . . . They are ways of being you can try on.”

Inner work is the love of transformation—of connecting to something greater, of striving to become something more. When our informants engaged in this pleasure, they expressed and developed a growth mindset and a sense of personal and social possibility.

Intellectual pleasure is pursued for the joy of figuring things out; it develops the capacity to see connections and solve problems. Our informants developed resilience, grit, and proactivity through the exercise of this pleasure. Erik Erikson argued that staking one’s identity is the primary task of early to late adolescence and that this is achieved through evolving interests and competence.

Social pleasure involves this human developmental project because it involves relating to authors, characters, other readers, and the self in ways that stake identity. Social pleasure is the love of connection—to the self, others, community, and to doing significant work together. This pleasure develops social imagination: the capacity to experience the world from other perspectives; to learn from and appreciate others distant from us in time, space, and experience; and the willingness to relate, reciprocate, attend to, and help others different from ourselves.

In other words, it promotes cognitive progress, wisdom, wholeness, and the democratic project. In fact, all of the pleasures were found to do this.

Our data clearly establish that students gravitate to the kinds of books they need to navigate their current life challenges, and that many ancillary benefits accrue in the realms of cognition, psychology, emotional development, and socialness. So much so that we developed the mantra: Kids read what they need!

This finding led us to be more trusting of kids’ choices and to ask them about why they chose to read what they did, and eventually to championing these choices. We likewise found that each of the marginalized genres we studied (romance, horror, vampire, fantasy, and dystopia) provided specific benefits and helped students navigate different individual developmental challenges.

Our data also establish that young people are doing sophisticated intellectual work in their pleasure reading, much of it just the kind of work that the Common Core and other next generation standards call for. So making pleasure more central to our practice is not in conflict with working to achieve standards.

Standards and all the other significant goals described here can be achieved if teachers value interpretive complexity as much as they do textual complexity, if they create inquiry contexts that reward entering a story world and doing psychological and social work in addition to more traditional academic goals, and if they provide opportunities for choice and meaningful conversation.

Given the benefits of each pleasure, we are convinced that pleasure reading is not only a civil right, it is a social necessity of democracy.

That is why we urge you to promote pleasure reading in your classroom and school, and it is why our book is filled with practical ideas for how to do so while promoting each of the five pleasures. It is monumental work—and it is work we must undertake with the greatest urgency—particularly at this moment in history.

books

What are some of your favorite genres to read?  I’d love to hear from you.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or DeborahBaldwin.net

Book Talks, Uncategorized

Three Things A Writer Needs

Book Talks, Bumbling Bea, Uncategorized

National Haiku Day Bumbling Bea Style

Today, April 15 is National Haiku Day.

You gotta wonder who thinks up these national days….

CHERRY BLOSSOMS

When I think of Haiku, I think of gorgeous flowering trees in Japan.

I’m sure there are poets who write them without thinking like I do.

I did a little researching and found Creative.Writing.Now. com.  It’s a website founded by writing teachers about writing.  One of their pages is about haiku poetry.  

The following are typical of haiku:

  • A focus on nature.

  • A “season word” such as “snow” which tells the reader what time of year it is.

  • A division somewhere in the poem, which focuses first on one thing, than on another. The relationship between these two parts is sometimes surprising.

  • Instead of saying how a scene makes him or her feel, the poet shows the details that caused that emotion. If the sight of an empty winter sky made the poet feel lonely, describing that sky can give the same feeling to the reader.

In honor of National Haiku Day, April 15 I created a few haiku about the characters of my award winning book, Bumbling Bea. There are several acknowledgements to the Japanese culture in the story so it only seemed fitting.

 My haiku aren’t about trees, flowers and clouds, but they are about the nature of human beings.  (Get it, get it?)

Bumbling Bea

Beatrice about Michiko:

Laughing and bowing

Her voice strong and dramatic

I wish I was her.

Bumbling Bea

Michiko thoughts about her mother:

You loudly scold me

Stretching, growing up I cry

This life’s mine not yours.

Bumbling Bea

Peter’s reflection about the  Michiko sabotage:

Devil leaves of three

Softly touch innocent skin

Oozing mounds erupt.

Bumbling Bea

Bumbling Bea would say:

I take over you

blurting outrageous things

Always regretting them.

Mr. Brace quips:

As father I’m bound

To family duties

Begrudging all.

Mrs. Brace to Mr. Brace:

Can’t you see I’m sad?

It’s hard to forget

Happy days, sweet nights.

BB chapter 16

The Cast’s thoughts:

Performance is super

Michiko adds spice and flare

But what’s with the freeze?

Lost?  You won’t be once you read my book.  Check it out here:

http://tinyurl.cpm/n5at3o

Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

 

Full Circle Moments
arts education, Book Talks, theatre, Uncategorized

What No One Tells You About Full Circle Moments–Part One

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I am excited!  This weekend I’m going to enjoy a full circle moment.

Have you ever experienced one?  You know, a “pay it forward” kind  of thing? They’re deeply fulfilling.

As a teacher and director, I’ve had many.  It seems to go with the territory. I would imagine everyone experiences full circle moments several times in their lifetime. If they are happy ones, we are joyful. If they are sad, I’m not certain we recognize them as full circle moments, but some sort of lesson we still need to learn.

Has anyone advised you how to handle them? Me neither.

No one tells you the brevity of them– they are magical and surprising.

Full circle moments, in general, are random.

An example:  My Ukrainian pen pal ended up on a  train  in Romania with a professor from my small midwestern hometown who knew my family.  That’s one chance in at least a million chances of occurring.

Another:  My daughter grows up to perform in a show with one of her babysitters who grew up and became an actress at my encouraging. They perform together in a different city one hundred miles away. Ten years later.

You have to admit full circle moments make you take a pause. Sometimes they are baffling. You are afraid to share them with anyone for fear they’ll think you are crazy–you are fantasizing and dillusional.

We can’t prophesy when full circle moments will occur or even if we’ll have one. That’s what makes them special.

img_0832

This particular full circle moment began very innocently.

Forty years ago next month, in 1977 I  student taught drama at West Junior High School in Columbia, MO. Some of the students were the best students I’ve taught, even if I was still in the learning phase of my career.  I am still friends with many of them today.

A young man, Randall Kenneth Jones, is a student of mine during that semester.  He is smart, witty and clever.

In 1978, we work together in an outdoor community theater.  Randy performs Dauntless in Once Upon a Mattress while I serve as the stage properties mistress.  We perform as brother and sister in 110 in the Shade.  He is in the chorus while I portray Mrs. Bumble in Oliver!

Two years later, my former husband and I create a community theater– Columbia Entertainment Company.  Randy performs in several of the shows–Two by Two and Damn Yankees.  I perform with him in Damn Yankees.

Get this: My cooperating teacher when I student taught, Jackie Petit White, performs in the production as well!

Randy attends the University of Missouri-Columbia in journalism.  Afgter graduating, he moves to Washington, DC. He works in marketing, advertising and public relations with a focus on creative development. He develops a terrific resume which includes PR and marketing for Walgreens, JCPenney, The Washingon Post and more.

I stay in Missouri, divorce, remarry, have children, preside over CEC for several years, run a theatre school, teach drama to middle schoolers and create several youth theater programs.  I direct several hundreds plays and musicals with adults and children alike. My resume is different from Randy’s, but equally successful.

In essence, we are equally busy.

img_0805

Time passes….

Thirty-nine years later in 2016, we meet again. I read on Facebook Randy has authored a really cool book, Show Me.  Show Me is filled with over one hundred interviews Randy collected with very successful people–Pat Benatar, Barbara Cochran, Jent Evanovich, Tyler Mathiesen, Suze Orman, just to name a few.

He’s about to release Show Me.  I write him, congratulating him.  We rekindle our friendship.  We promise to do a better job of keeping up with each other.

It’s fun to know again this great student, now a grown man. He’s just as witty, clever and smart.

Now the full circle moment–

Two months go by and Randy contacts me.  He’s traveling to  Columbia to do a fundraiser for CEC which was built twenty-nine years ago. (Isn’t that crazy?) For the fundraiser,  he’ll be performing a stand up routine, selling and autographing his book, too.

His routine includes memories of the teachers who inspired him, one of which was my cooperating teacher, Jackie Petit White.   He wants to speak about me as well, because I was very instrumental in keeping the community theatre afloat for years.

Would I be interested in participating as well?

Heck, yes!

I’m not taking center stage.  This event isn’t about me, but I will benefit from it.  I’ll be signing and selling Bumbling Bea (2.0) books before and after the show.

A portion of the proceeds go to Columbia Entertainment Company.  Tickets may be reserved in advance at cectheatre.org

In some respects, full circle moments are snippets of time in our lives. 

They prove, “I am here on earth.  I matter.  I helped someone to find themselves.”  My inner self and actual self meet in congruence. Wow!

We have amazing lives whether we notice them occurring or not. Could I have foreseen this upcoming moment? Never.

What full circle moments have you experienced?

Read part two of this full circle moment here: https://dramamommaspeaks.com/2017/03/28/what-no-one-tells-you-about-full-circle-moments-part-two/

Randy and I would love to see you and say hello.  You’ll find our books on Amazon.com

See you soon!

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Contact me at dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

 

 

 

Kabuki Theatre for Girls
Book Talks, Uncategorized, youth theatre

Kabuki Theatre for Girls

 

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Kabuki Theatre for Girls?

Readers ask me why I created a story which included Kabuki theatre.

When I was sixteen years old, my parents and I traveled to Japan for a vacation.  My grandparents were missionaries in Japan prior to WWII and my mother wanted to visit the country again.  She hadn’t visited her birthplace since attending college in the US in the early 1940’s.

Mr. Tannabe (yes, I used his name in the book to honor him) served as a tour guide showing us around Japan. Mr. Tannabe owed his faith in Christ to my grandfather who baptized him in the ocean.  He felt indebted to my family because of this. He wined and dined us and showered us with many gifts.  Nearing the end of the trip,  Mr. Tannabe treated us to seats at the National Kabuki Theatre in Tokyo to attend a play.

Mr. Tannabe knew I loved theatre.  I will be forever grateful to him for this experience, because the impetus for Bumbling Bea came from this performance. I was struck by its pageantry, spectacle, story, movement and style.  Then I found out that women originally portrayed all the characters.

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You are kidding me, right?  Why aren’t women performing Kabuki Theatre today?

Here’s a quick history lesson for you:

It’s possible Kabuki Theatre was first created by a woman named  Okuni of Izumo in the 1590’s (around the time of Shakespeare). She was thought to be an iron worker’s daughter in service to a shrine of Izumo.

From   An Outline Drama of Japanese Theatre written in 1928 (I’m paraphrasing here) the supposed Okuni may have been on a tour seeking contributions for the shrine.
Okuni’s dance was one of worship in praise of a Shinto god.   Her dance met with such welcome in Kyoto that she remained, to be identified with a new dramatic movement rising from the midst of the common people. Okuni was beautiful and graceful which appealed to the people regardless of the religious reasons.

Now, the plot thickens….

A young man was sent by his parents to become trained as a priest. He saw Okuni dance and admired her beauty and poise. He came from a military family and wasn’t interested in the priesthood, but more focused on social aspects.  He found her dances too restricting.  Over time, he convinced Okuni to adapt her dance movements to the music of the day (some of which he wrote). Later, this form became known as Kabuki–the art of song and dance.

More time goes by…

Okuni becomes the Beyoncé of the time. Her dances were quite sensual.

She was invited at least once to perform for the royalty of Japan.   As in many circumstances in the entertainment business,  imitators sprang up.  Both women and men were performing some form of Kabuki. These were men who were otherwise unemployed or women of ill repute (prostitutes) and considered lower class citizens. Plus, those sexy dances, you know?  Kabuki gained a poor reputation.

More time goes by….

Well gosh.  Now, the women weren’t allowed on the stage (you know, because they are females and acting all sexy like).  There were lots of young unemployed men willing to take their places. The stories involved male and female characters, so the men took up playing the female characters as well.

To this day, men portray both the female and male roles in Kabuki Theatre.

There is lots more to the history of Kabuki Theatre, but this gives you a very quick story explaining why a woman from the Midwest would craft such a story.


Kabuki Theatre has a style all its own.

I think one of most unusual aspects of it is a character could be passed from one generation of actors to the next.  Sort of like your grandfather was a Kabuki actor who played John Smith.  Then, your dad becomes a Kabuki actor and he inherits your grandfather’s role of John Smith PLUS whatever celebrated movement your grandfather created in the part.

Now it’s your turn.  Not only are you portraying the role your grandfather and father portrayed, you are sharing your family’s legacy.

Except you are a girl named Michiko.  You want to honor your grandfather, and in your case, your uncle. But heck.  You are a girl and the only family member interested or willing to train in the Kabuki Theatre.

That’s Michiko’s challenge and it was mine, too.

After attending only one Kabuki Theatre performance when I was a sixteen year old,  forty-four years later, I give you Bumbling Bea.

kabuki-actor

Write me at Dhcbaldwin@gmail.com or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

Bumbling Bea fan
author interview, Book Talks, Indie Publishing, Uncategorized

AuthorBlogSpot: Another author Interview of Me

Hello everyone!  Today I am speaking with Debbie Baldwin.  Hi Deborah.  Thank you for being here.  Can you tell us what made you decide to become a writer?

I have wanted to be a writer since I was a very little girl.  I penned my first story about a pig when I was around five years old.

That’s interesting and so young.

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My father was a radiologist and he would bring home to me the recycled orange colored papers that divided the x-ray films.  I LOVED them and wrote many a story on them.  I didn’t take my writing seriously until about five years ago, however.

How long did it take to get published the first time and how did it happen?

I published my book independently.  I am a self-starter.  I didn’t want to wait around for a publisher who may or may not look at my book.  My story is somewhat unique in subject and although it is a good story, I knew it wasn’t mainstream.

Mainstream.  That’s the catch, isn’t it?  Would you do anything differently the next time?

Next time, I’d like to pay someone to edit for me.  Several qualified people edited it for me but I think it would be useful and more beneficial to have someone who’s an editing professional focus upon it.

Yes, and finding the right one is hard.  What advice would you give to an aspiring author?

Read, read, read.  There are many free resources now that will help you with your writing.  Keep your first draft to yourself.  If you expect your family to support your aspirations, you need to disengage from that hope.  Look for unbiased people to read your manuscript when you are ready.  Everyone’s opinion should be heard, but not acted upon.  Trust your instinct.  It won’t fail you if you are truly honest with yourself.

Lastly, a man whose opinion I wholeheartedly trust told me if I wait until my book is perfect, I’ll never publish it.  He reminded me that software is updated all the time, because if a company waits until it is completely perfect, they will never get the product out there.  Finish the project.  Just that action puts you way ahead of most people who only talk about their dreams, but never even take one step toward them.

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That’s good advice.  Thank you.  What or who influences your writing?

Because of my background in theatre, in particular, acting and directing, I appreciate stories with solid characterization.  In my thirty-nine years of directing, I have guided thousands of actors to create characters.  I am also a newly retired teacher having taught drama classes to students of all ages for as many years as directing.  Consequently, I am a good judge of one’s character.

I like many authors, but in particular, most recently, I have enjoyed Fredrick Backman’s books.  He weaves an unusual story with interesting characters.  My favorite novel is “To Kill a Mockingbird,” because again, it is an unusual story.  Jodi Picoult comes to mind because she writes about modern day issues from an unusual slant.

What are your latest releases?

Bumbling Bea is my debut novel. I am pleased to share that I am doing a second printing of my book, with a new cover and back and a few tweaks to the story which give it a punch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tell me, Debbie, how long have you been writing professionally?  And do you write full-time or part-time?

I write part-time.  I keep up a blog, in particular-Dramamommaspeaks.com.  I am about to publish an audio CD of drama class lesson plans.  There will be a series of them beginning with a storytelling unit.  They will be helpful to any teacher.

Oh, yes!  Making lesson plans is hard enough.  So, what do you do for fun when you aren’t writing, Debbie?

I love to see a good movie and try to see one each week.  I read quite a bit, enjoy the outdoors and traveling with my husband.

And where do you reside?

We moved to Lawrence, Kansas about three months ago to retire near our family and FIRST grandchild. It’s wonderful to be with our daughters, their husband and our wonderfully precious granddaughter.

I know exactly what you mean.  Do you have any appearances or book signings scheduled?

My book signings are very sporadic, as are book talks, but I do announce them on the various social  sites.  I am willing to travel to surrounding states for book talks.

That’s great!  Thank you so much for spending time with me.  Debbie’s website is: www.DeborahBaldwin.net and her blog is:  http://Dramamommaspeaks.com.  You can “friend her” on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BumblingBea/  Or follow her on Twitter at BumblingBea@dhcbaldwin

Book Reviews, Book Talks, Indie books, Indie Publishing, Uncategorized

I am Featured on TypewriterStories

Check it out here:http://www.typewritersociety.com/single-post/2017/01/05/Author-Interview-Deborah-Baldwin-Bumbling-Bea

 

 

 

 

 

Author Interview, Deborah Baldwin, Bumbling Bea

January 5, 2017

With over 40 years of teaching and 250 plays and musicals under her belt, Deborah Baldwin was more than qualified to write a children’s book about putting on a middle school play. Not that putting pen to paper is an easy process. But as Deborah says, writing is a fluid process. If you stick with it, things happen, and pieces develop as they need to. “Characters have a way of showing up just when you need them,” she said, “or they come forward on their own expecting to be heard.”

1. How many books have you published and when (month/year)?

I published Bumbling Bea in October 2014.

2. When did you start writing your first book? Where did the idea come from?

I began writing Bumbling Bea in 2012, however the springboard for the story came from a trip to Japan when I was sixteen years old.  Forty years later, I finally wrote the story in its entirety.  Many of the original ideas for the plot originated in the first chapter I penned nearly thirty-two years ago when I took my first writing class.  I’d say about ninety percent of the story was developed while I was writing the book.  I developed an outline, writing a chapter at a time.  Characters have a way of showing up just when you need them or they come forward on their own expecting to be heard.  Bumbling Bea is much better story now than all those years ago.  I’m glad I waited to write it.

3. What was the hardest part about writing your first book? What hurdles did you have to overcome?

My fear was the greatest challenge.  I have a mindset that thinks I must be very well versed in something before I can act upon it.  Consequently, I needed a few classes in writing for children to ease my worries.  Once I took them, my fears slowly vanished.

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4. Once your manuscript was finished, what did you do?

I knew that if I took eighteen months to write the story (and how many hours?) I needed to continue the process all the way through to publishing.

5. What did you expect from the editing process? How was the experience?

I am very familiar with the process of creating and it didn’t bother me to edit.  The toughest part was making sure everything was clear to a reader.  Even now I find certain parts of my story that need a tweak here and there.  But since I’m an indie author, it is very easy (though a bit costly) to edit and republish.

6. Describe what re-writing involves and how it makes you feel. How is it different than the initial writing?

Re-writing is a lot like directing a play, so when I shared I am comfortable with the process of creating it is because of directing.  I don’t take it too personally if something needs to be changed or edited.  I know that it takes many eyes to see everything in a story just as it does in theatre.  But as I am the gatekeeper of a play and I make the final decision, so too am I the gatekeeper on my book.

7. Did you have non-editors read your book for feedback (Alpha Readers)? What did you get out of that?

Yes, a few friends and family read Bumbling Bea.  Each had their own strengths and perspective on it.  My youngest daughter, a writer too though not actively pursuing writing, is a terrific editor.  Her suggestions really helped me and continue to do so.

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8. Who designed your cover? How much input did you have? How important is the cover design?

A graphic artist, H. Russ Brown was my illustrator.  He illustrated the cover and each chapter’s first page art.  You can tell we are in 2016, because we communicated nearly all of our ideas through instant messaging. Currently, he is working on a new cover for our second printing.

9. How did you go forward with publishing? Why? How was that experience?

I chose Createspace because of its high approval rates. The book has won high marks for the quality of writing and publishing, so it paid off to use Createspace.

10. How have you marketed your first book?

Yes and I continue to market.

11. How was the initial feedback from readers?

I received terrific feedback and it was quite surprising. Bumbling Bea isn’t for everyone.  People who are acquainted with performing in a play or making friends with someone from another country will relate to the book the most.  However, children as young as seven and octogenarians have read Bumbling Bea have enjoyed its message, too.

12. How have sales been on your first book? Did they go as expected? What helps you the most to sell books?

I didn’t set my sites on huge sales because I have never authored a book before, but I am well known for my teaching of drama and directing in youth and community theatre.  Those are the circles that have supported me the best.  It’s still all a crap shoot, frankly.  Out of nowhere someone will review the book on Amazon and Goodreads.  Such a gift!  I am a member of several Facebook groups and use my blog and a new Twitter presence to get the word out. I am not a member of any creative writing groups because a very trusted friend of mine thought I would be happier on my own.  I think he’s right! It takes every kind of marketing and publicizing I have money and time to use.

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13. Talk about print vs ebook. Do you get more sales with one than the other?

I’ve had more sales with my print version unless we count free downloads days and then lots of people download it.  Many don’t write reviews, however.

14. Did you set the prices of your print and ebooks? How do you decide how to price them?

My prices aren’t set in stone.  I offer discounts on both and free ebook downloads occasionally.  I research other books of the same length and genre and priced mine according to theirs.

15. What made you decide to write more books? How were those experiences (writing/editing) compared with your first book? Did you do anything differently?

I am readying to begin a new book in January.  I plan to do pre-launch publicizing for it once it’s finished.

16. Anything different in the publishing process for your other books?

I may try a different company than Createspace and an editor if I can afford one.

17. When did you consider yourself a “writer”?

Oh am I?  I think once I penned 50 blog posts about drama education, youth theatre and directing I finally felt like an author. Then I see the reviews about Bumbling Bea and I’m overwhelmed with a sense of pride in what I have given people through the written word.  I guess that makes me a writer, yes?

18. When do you write? What motivates you to write?

I like to write in the morning and late afternoon with a break in the middle of the day.  Generally, I write something for someone each day—whether it’s a blog post, an article for another website or a host of other writing sources.  I am motivated by the goal to help someone else.  If I can help someone else, then I am fulfilled.

19. What do aspiring authors ask you?

How long did it take to write your book?  Answer:  18 months and four months of revisions.  How did I know how to write the way kids speak? Answer: I have taught students of all ages for nearly forty years.  You teach any length of time and you can quote them by heart! Where did the plot come from? Answer:  Parts of the plot come from my personal experiences as a director and teacher glitzed-and-glamoured with my imagination and off beat style of humor.

20. What advice can you offer for aspiring authors about writing, editing, publishing, and marketing?

My advice is pretty simple—ignore the negative comments people may say and don’t give your own fears much credence.  You are on a long, interesting journey and treat it as such. Believe in yourself and figure out the reason you like to write and keep it in your mind at all times.  Learn to distance yourself from your work and accept criticism of people who you trust.  Remember, it’s YOUR thoughts and feelings and you have the right to share them.

Contact me at dhcbaldwin or check out my website at DeborahBaldwin.net

Book Agents, Book giveaway, Book Reviews, Book Talks, Bumbling Bea, DeborahBaldwin.net, directing experiences, drama education, excellence in teaching, Indie books, Indie Publishing, litpick, Readers Favorite, Uncategorized, youth theatre

Author Interview and Free Books on Facebook

Come see ME on Facebook this afternoon at 4:00 CST at:https://www.facebook.com/events/1650685205224159/

Book Reviews, Book Talks, Bumbling Bea, Indie books, Indie Publishing, middle grades, performing arts, Readers Favorite, Uncategorized

Bumbling Bea: The First Chapter

BB chapter 16

There has been a lot of traffic on the blog lately and I can’t help but wonder if folks are wondering about my book, Bumbling Bea. So, here is chapter one:

Chapter One

It was Peter’s fault.

“P!” I yelled to get his attention, “do I look like old Macdonald on the farm to you?”

I was splattered all over with the gross stuff. I swear it was already curdling and the entire cafeteria of students could see it. I smelled putrid–like yucky old, blackened, moldy cheese long forgotten in the back of the refrigerator. It made me wretch a little but I still managed to get in his face.

“Why don’t you drink juice or water? Now I smell like I’ve been working in a cheese factory. You’re such a dweeb, P.”

When I was mad at Peter, I called him “P.” He’d been P. ever since we were in kindergarten when he stuck a couple of peas up his nose and had to go to the hospital to get them out. And like those peas, the name stuck. And he was clumsy, BUT only with me. He defended himself like he always did which irritated me.

“Jeez, sorry Beatrice. I didn’t mean to nearly flip over your backpack and spill two miniscule drops of lactose on your precious jacket. It was blocking the aisle between the tables like always. You are so mean these days.” Peter huffed, stomping away from the lunch room.

It wasn’t me speaking to Peter. It was Bumbling Bea. I’ve discovered I have an alter ego who I call Bumbling Bea. Strange and mean thoughts come flying out of my mouth. They didn’t even sound like something I’d think or say! Bumbling Bea hadn’t been around for long, but when she did rear her scary head, it was at the worst times.

One of the most memorable of times Bumbling Bea showed up was when we gave our choir director a tennis racket as a going away present. He was getting married and leaving our school. He was obsessed with tennis and was a pretty decent player. I thought it was neat, even though he had knobby knees and skinny, hairy, Minnie Mouse legs which looked kinda’ weird in his way too short tennis shorts.

I thought of the present when I saw him hitting tennis balls on the tennis court after school one day. He was mumbling something and from seeing his temper in class, I figured it was about his students.

            It was the first time Bumbling Bea arrived. I was class secretary for him (which made me feel super important even though he had a class secretary for every other class, too.) I thought I had power and the other kids listened to me. Bumbling Bea liked that a lot! At lunch one day I was sitting by myself, as usual. I turned to the table with the popular kids sitting behind me. “I think we should buy our music teacher a going away present since he’s getting married and leaving us. How about we give him a tennis racket since he loves the game so much?”

Everyone agreed with me (which was a first) and those who didn’t, gave me a dollar per student donation anyway. If giving money for a teacher’s going away present kept you in or near the popular kids, you gave it. And they did!

I was so excited. I checked out tennis racket prices on the internet, Dave’s Discount and the hardware supply store. Dave’s had the best price. Most everything was less expensive at Dave’s Discount. My Dad told me it was because Dave bought up all the things other businesses couldn’t sell. Dad thought Dave’s had good deals even though sometimes their stuff fell apart after one use. Their price for the tennis racket was awesome and one my class could afford.

Since I found the tennis racket right away, I had a little bit of time left over before Dad picked me up so I looked around at the girls’ clothes. Normally, I didn’t look at your typical girls’ clothes because they were always way too pink and way too fluffy. Not at Dave’s, though! I found a black and white polka dotted bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and a package of panties—things were so cheap.

“You want me to put them in a Dave’s Discount box, honey?” wondered the clerk lady who smelled like cigarettes and chewing gum.

I heard about the Dave’s Discount boxes before. People used them to store about anything in them after they got them home: extra cat litter, broken toys, a bed for a puppy and so forth. They were sturdy, kind of a brownish tan color with black stripes printed on one side of them and the words “Dave’s Discount” plastered over the stripes.

Being so proud of myself for a. finding the tennis racket and b. buying the bikini, flip flops and panties all by myself, I accepted two boxes instead of one. I mean, they were free, you know? Dad said not to turn away free stuff if anyone at a store ever offered you anything free. I thought Dave’s Discount box was one of those free things he was talking about.

“Mom, we got a deal. The racket only cost thirty-six dollars.” I announced as I arrived home.

“Don’t forget to take off the price tag before you wrap it, Beatrice,” my mom reminded me as she whisked off to teach her art classes.

Mom! Sheesh. Sometimes she thinks I’m a baby…

My brother, Edmund, helped me wrap the box rolling it two or three times in wrapping paper and tying it with gobs of ribbons and a bunch of bows on it. We put the box in another box which went in another box. We thought it was so fun to unwrap when you received one of those sort of presents. Edmund laughed and laughed each time we played the trick on him.

This is so awesome. I said to myself. And when I tell him I chose the present, he will think I’m one of his coolest students for doing this for him.

That was Bumbling Bea talking. You see? Why would it matter whether my teacher thought I was the coolest student he had ever taught during his teaching career? He had thousands of kids he’d taught already and I was a lousy singer.

It was finally time to give the present. On the last day of classes before summer vacation, we usually sang through the year’s music one more time. The whole choir was singing happily, but they kept turning and looking at me. I was singing loud the way I never do because I was so excited about our present. Well, Bumbling Bea was singing exceedingly loud because she thought I was a better singer since I thought up the present.

It was the second time Bumbling Bea appeared.

Finally, the end of the hour came and it was time for the present. I stood lifting my head proudly, “We are sad you are leaving Oak Grove Middle School. We wanted to give you something to remember us when you are off in your new life.” I gave him the big box saying, “So, here is a little something to use to take out your frustrations on your new wife.”

Huh? What was that I said?

I was kinda’ nervous which was unusual for me and it freaked me out. So I tried again. “I meant, here’s a little something to use to take out your frustrations in your new life.”

Oh man. That wasn’t right either.

I tried one more time, “Oh, you know when you have a bad day at your new school and want to strangle your students, you can use this instead.” I cringed.

My teacher stared at me. “I don’t know what you are talking about, Beatrice. I’m never frustrated with my students.” He smiled at the rest of the class and ignored me.

I felt different on the inside of myself. Kinda’ smart aleck-y, but I didn’t know why. Maybe I was way too excited or nervous or awkward? When I am, I do dumb things to cover. It was how I felt that day. I wanted to sound grown up and cool and in charge, but I said three super dumb things to my teacher.

But I did more than say three dumb things.

Way more.

When Edmund and I were wrapping the tennis racket, Edmund’s pet ferret, Bernie, got loose from Edmund’s clutches and darted around my room. We were so busy screaming at Bernie that while trying to catch him, I guess my big fat foot accidentally pushed the box with the tennis racket under my bed. I picked up the other identical box with my new swimming suit, matching flip flops and the package of new panties and wrapped it instead.

Yes, you read it right: it was the box containing my new bikini swimming suit, matching flip flops and the new panties.

NEW PANTIES! NEW PANTIES!

But see, I didn’t know it was the wrong box because I wasn’t looking at my teacher when he finally opened the last box. I was busy picking up the left over wrapping paper.

Somebody whispered, “Beatrice, you left the price tag on the box.”

“Embarrassing,” another snickered.

THE PRICE TAG WAS SHOWING. THE STUPID PRICE TAG WAS STILL ON THE PRESENT.

I looked up and before I knew it, Bumbling Bea quipped, “There’s the price tag. It shows you how much we like you and I wanted you to know all us chipped in for it.”

Again with the dumb statements!

My teacher opened the box and there was no tennis racket.

BUT, there they were: the panties. Oh, the swimming suit and flip flops were there too, but all I saw were the PANTIES. It was as if they grew from a regular size to the size of a goal post on a football field. HUGE.

I stammered, “What? How did those get in there?”

My confused teacher said something to me, but the whole class was laughing so loudly I couldn’t hear him. I grabbed back the box and ran out of class and hid in the girls’ bathroom.

People called me “Panties” for days afterward until my mother heard them one too many times and threatened to call their parents.

Later I got the right present to my teacher but by then every kind of damage had already been done and I still forgot to take the price tag off the stupid present. I gave up.

Peter said later in the summer he saw my teacher hitting balls with our present tennis racket out on the court. He was back in town visiting his mother or something. I guess he hit one ball a little too hard, because the tennis racket’s webbing unraveled and when it fell to the ground, the handle fell apart, too.

Yup. Bumbling Bea steps into my skin right at the wrong time. Lately, there are more times she appears than I have until a crazy girl who wore cat ears visited from Japan. She made me see what I was doing by taking on my bumble-bea-ness herself. It’s all a little scary when you think about it.