As I have written before, one of my best things about working at TRF year round is that I get to walk the grounds as much as I like. So, several times a week, I tie on my Nikes and head out on site. Walking it reminds me of all the reasons I love the place.

My favorite spot to perambulate? The Magic Garden.

My second year on cast, 2001, the scenario story was written around the opening of the Magic Garden, old-timers may remember it: A fairy princess, Marigold,  loved a mortal, Queen Mab disapproved and cast a spell that forced the fairy princess to marry a goblin prince. There was an enchanted ending, though, and Marigold married the prince of her dreams. I played Mab, it was so fun! I have played fairies Titania and Hush in the years since, and I loved perching on a giant mushroom or napping while leaning against a fish statue.

There used to be a story that a “dark presence” hovered at the back of the garden, and to be honest, I felt it. But I think it’s been banished by all the happy folks who walk, kids who play, and couples who wed. Now the energy just feels sweet.

There’s unusual art, carved stone, and lush tree cover. On a quiet day, you hear birds chirping and singing. If you look carefully, there are still ribbons tied to branches by fairies.

Blessed be!

 

Photos by Steven David, Houston Event Photography

AAron

Photo by Rosa de Armanno

“I’ve been attending TRF with various groups of friends since 1996.  There’s about a dozen different costumes I rotate through; a Dragon, Gandalf The White, Aragorn, Nazgûl, and several generic rogues & swashbucklers — although Skeletor is by far my favorite!  I get so many people who want me to pose for photos. Someone once asked me what I liked about going to TRF, and I believe my answer was:  ‘The shows, the shops & all the cool stuff I can buy, and just walking around enjoying the atmosphere.  So basically . . . everything!'” (Austin, TX)

Michael CottenMichael Cotten says, “My first experience at TRF was in 1995. I loved it but lived too far away to make yearly visits practical. In 2010 I attended again as a parent chaperone for my son’s history class. We have been going as a family every year since. Most years we make two trips. Now making Celtic Christmas each year has become a family tradition.”

John Patton

“My son and I visited TRF the first time 11/9/12. We live close to another fair South of Dallas and were encouraged to visit by lots of friends there. We were not disappointed. The huge camp ground, the expansive fair grounds, the vast number and variety of vendors, and almost unlimited number of food and drink providers. Everything is bigger in Texas. We have camped and visited every year since.” -John Patton, Hillsboro, TX

Amanda

Amanda, Jonathan and Sullivan Drake

My family has a long history at Texas Ren Fest. When they were in college at Texas A&M, my parents worked at some of the first years of the fest. My dad helped build some of the buildings near the entrance that are still there, and I remember admiring a pic of my mom in her “wench” costume. I grew up attending with my family. My husband and I have been attending since I was an Aggie myself, and now we bring our son. We’ve added camping to our annual trips and look forward to it every year. Our best friends that come every year now too also have their own little one to bring along and we both can’t wait to buy little costumes!

 

Jill

Jill Satterwhite

Long ago, and a time faraway I didn’t live in Texas, but as soon as I made it Texas and settled in I found The Kingdom. My family of 6, husband and 4 sons didn’t always wear garb/costumes. Started out going once or twice a year…wearing “Jill-Made” hooded cloaks. Fast forward to when TRF found social media; I went to every event, every pub crawl for a couple years..bringing sons, husband, friends.  I started sewing  pouches for belts. Then costumes for the family..pirate, steampunk, Scottish, then costumes on commission. When the first King’s Masquerade was announced. Costume panic arrived. 12…of my costumes. Twelve! Of my peoples and friends were wearing my creations! I was sewing one girl in her dress in the campgrounds the night of Masquerade.  I have been on every TRF Cruise. Such Fun!!  I am a 1st year Royal Ambassador of TRF! I am truly humbled I was picked. Now have a garb/costumes for every weekend. Yes all 9!   Excited for the upcoming year and more Texas Renaissance Festival to come.

TRF has awesome fans. Lots of fans come in shorts and tee shirts, comfy in their sneakers, and they have a fantastic time! We love those folks! But there’s another element of people, they’re called “Playtrons” in our corner of the world. They’re the ones who not only wear costumes, but they really embrace the whole idea of playing into the story- they create personas with names and histories, they get lots of photos taken, and they add a lot of color and spice to the Ren Fest atmosphere. We asked for Playtrons to introduce themselves.

Pictured above is Rachel Rodriguez, here’s how she describes her love for TRF:

“My name is Rachel Rodriguez, and I have been attending the renaissance festival for most of my life. Much of my childhood was defined by my love of fantasy and belief in fairies. The Texas Renaissance Festival was my heart’s true home: getting little gifts from the green puppet dragon (who my sister and I swore was real), eating turkey legs as big as our heads, and getting my first costume. The festival was the perfect distraction when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer – a magical place where the real world melted away. Going at least twice is now a tradition. This past year my group was ecstatic about the Heroes and villains cosplay weekend, and attended as characters from “Once Upon a Time,” and did themed fairy costumes for our second trip.

Our first stop at the fair is always Sound and Fury. “Hamlet and Juliet” is the best! We never miss the Fire Whip show, and my husband has been chosen for the vasectomy trick, and sassed Adam Winrich the whole time, much to the amusement of the crowd.

Allison

“My name is Alli- I’ve been attending renfest for the past 3 years with a huge group of friends. I travel from NY and we camp out every year- and we NEVER miss the phantom bells. Every year more people join our group. I attended as lady milisandra and a barbarian in the past- but I plan on doing Aquaman this year. I made and designed the entire costume myself (I’m into cosplay -AlliZCosplay) and i can’t wait for the renfest crowd to see my version of Arthur Curry. I think my scale mail will be well received. Looking forward to coming this year!!!”

Kayla P.

“My name is Kayla Pawlyshyn. I am a writer. I have been doing this since I was 16, I am 24 now. My cos name is Captain Jessica Tech. I have hand crafted my outfits as being a captain. Each year they change or I add on. I always loved the joys of escaping life and jumping into character. ‘Life is too short to stay upon the shore, so set sail and have a grand adventure.'”-kdp

Heather

Photo by Pedro Mata

“I have been going to the faire for quite sometime as just a patron with my family. But for the past 4 years, we have been faithfully appearing every weekend … even in the relentless rain. We have even been participants of school days for the past three years. For these last two years (and this coming year as well) I could be seen walking about dressed as Lady Loki. Last year (and thankful returning to the cast again this year) my three oldest (Steven, Garrett, and Patricia) became members of the cast, so I am not only a Playtron but a cast Mom as well.” -Heather Terpstra, Cypress, TX

Kathryn

Photo by Moon Dawg

“I have been a playtron/patron for many many years. My first TRF was when I was 14 and I fell in love. I have been there every year for the last 15 and my son has been every year of his life. We love it and camp just to be able to spend more time.” Kathryn Graham and son, Charles. (Houston, TX)

Ronita

Ronita Pitts says, “Last year it was VIXEN THE VICIOUS!! Year before that it was Maiden Roni keeper of the Royal Hounds!! I was introduced to the Faire several years ago and haven’t stopped enjoying it since! Where else can you let down your hair, be someone completely different, and still all celebrate our differences with fun & Merriment!!” (Houston, TX)

Mary

“My name is Mary Lee Horner and I am a Texas Ren Fest Playtron. I have been attending Ren Fest for almost 15 years along with 10-15 of my family members and friends. It is always one of the highlights of my year to go to three, four, sometimes five weekends of faire. (Work and life permitting) I have bins in my house dedicated to my personalities of faire. And every year I have the best time trying to find ways to improve upon my Faire Wear. I have been a pirate, a witch, a satyress, a wench, a priestess, a rogue, and a barbarian.
Faire is my second home, where I can walk among people who don’t judge, who are full of life and joy, who welcome everyone from all walks of life. The one thing that stops me from trying out to work at Ren Fest is my own job, otherwise I would practically live there. This is my passion, one of my loves in this life. Being at Faire has always brought the most joy to me. So much so that I have brought most of my family and friends into this world of Faire. We don’t hold back when it comes to what we become at Ren Fest.
I also have to thank you for being there for so many people and bringing so much happiness to us. What in the world would we do without the Texas Renaissance Festival?” (Cypress, TX)

Mary’s right- what would we do? All of us here at TRF love where we work. We love the Festival, and we are glad to share that love with you.

Next time, meet some of our playtron gents!

 

Much of the management team here and a handful of characters from TRF just had the pleasure of working the 2018 Comicpalooza event downtown at the George R. Brown Convention Center.

It was so fun! We met lots of great people, we made some new friends, we gave away what felt like one million stress toys, we saw amazing artists, and we ended up with really sore feet and backs from standing on a concrete floor for three days.

 

My favorite part of Comicpalooza, though, is the people-watching. There are some wild cosplays; many, many, many Harley Quinns; some brave choices (dance belts can be your friends, tight-wearing gents. Come to think of it, that goes for when you’re at TRF, too); and some super-cute mini superheroes. My fave was an eight year old boy who took his role as Wakanda’s protector very seriously.

It’s all about story, right? We love story: science fiction stories, fairy tales, graphic novels… and stories of knights and damsels, round tables, and fairy changelings.

We see many of the same people at both events because these people, our people, are story tellers. Story lovers.

People watching at TRF is the best. The best. Once, we got a call here in the office from a couple who wanted to be sure it was okay to bring their camping chairs in through the gates, and of course it was. We encountered them that afternoon, lounging in their camp chairs in the space between the Arena and the Sea Devil. They were just sitting for a couple of hours, drinking beers and watching the people. It’s entertaining. Truly.

People watching at Festival is amazing. You might see small children leaving tributes in the Magic Garden, quiet marriage proposals in a chapel, or joyous reunions of friends.

Impressive costumes abound. But even more abundant? The smiles of folks having a good time, leaving their worries outside the front gates, and lifting their cares for just a few hours. Those are the best stories of all!

Who’ve been your favorite people to keep an eye on at TRF?

 

Visit Pedro Mata’s photography website at:

https://pedromataiii.smugmug.com/

 

 

 

 

Four Recipients Awarded a Combined $6,000 as Part of Festival’s Annual School Days Initiative

 

Texas Renaissance Festival, the nation’s largest and most acclaimed Festival of food, fun and 16th century magic, announced today the recipients of its School Days Scholarship Program. “We created the School Days Scholarship Program as a way to reward those students who show great promise and enrich their respective communities,” said Kim Bryant, School Days coordinator for the Texas Renaissance Festival. “We consider our fellow Texans to be the heart of all those who descend upon Texas Renaissance Festival each year, and it fills us with immense pride that we can give back to them in an equally special way.”

GSR19

Gabrielle McCullough, a senior at Porter High School in Porter, Texas (New Caney ISD), has been awarded the Educators Scholarship, providing $1,500 toward the college or university in which she enrolls. The Educators Scholarship is awarded to students planning to major in education, to become a teacher in a public or private school.

Gabrielle was recognized for her academic excellence, her many accolades and extracurricular activities, and musical endeavors, including as an officer in the National Honor Society and a top competitor in the UIL Region and State competitions. She plans to attend the University of Houston, where she will pursue a Bachelor of Music (Voice) with Elective Studies in Teacher Certification.

Jade Parbs

Jade Parbs, a senior at Lufkin High School (Lufkin ISD), has been awarded the Participant Scholarship, providing $1,500 toward the college, university or trade school in which she enrolls. The Participant Scholarship is awarded to students who have worked for the Texas Renaissance Festival or one of its vendors in a previous season.

Jade was recognized for exhibiting maturity while balancing work and extracurricular activities, and maintaining high academic performance. This was underscored by her tenure as a Texas Renaissance Festival employee for six years, her performance and leadership in the high school band, endeavors as an award-winning gymnast and gymnastics coach in her spare time, and inspiration to pursue a career in medicine. She intends to major in chemistry at Lamar University, with a concentration in biochemistry and pre-medical studies.

Nayeli

Nayeli Sanchez, a senior at Willis High School in Conroe, Texas (Willis ISD), has been awarded the Humanities Scholarship, providing $1,500 toward the college or university in which she enrolls. The Humanities Scholarship is awarded to students planning to major in the subjects of history, English or the foreign languages.

Nayeli was recognized for her academic achievement, community service endeavors, professional immersion, and commitment to learning business through the lens of foreign languages. She plans to major in either Spanish or Chinese at The University of Texas at Austin, and pursue a master’s degree in accounting and finance, before heading to law school.

Adithya- Senior Headshot

Adithya Chunangad, a senior at The Woodlands College Park High School (Conroe ISD), has been awarded the Fine Arts Scholarship, providing $1,500 toward the college or university in which he enrolls. The Fine Arts Scholarship is awarded to students planning to major in one of the Fine Arts (dance, instrumental music, theatre arts, visual/graphic arts or vocal music).

Adithya was recognized for his commitment to honing his musical craft as both a pianist and vocalist, including an education in classical composition and opera, high school musical theatre productions, private instruction, public competitions and performances, as a member of the Texas All-State Choir, and more. He intends to double major in chemical engineering and voice performance at The University of Texas at Austin.

Candidates are evaluated against academic performance, extracurricular involvement service, and essays detailing personal ambitions, goals and influences. The scholarship program is an annual extension of Texas Renaissance Festival’s School Days, Nov. 6-7, 2018, when the Festival is open only to teachers and students. During School Days, students are introduced to the culture, art, science, and literature of the Renaissance period, and have the opportunity to learn courtly dances, the ancient art of falconry, the history of arms and armor, and more.

We are very proud of these students and wish them great success and joy in their endeavors!

 

 

 

Blue skies. Clouds of incense. Prayers. A mother bent in grief. Rifle fire. The “Ave Maria.”

Yesterday, many gathered to lay Chief Johnny Martinez to rest.

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people standing

Johnny Martinez with TRF General Manager Terre Albert, upon being sworn in as the City of Todd Mission Chief of Police

Johnny was what you hope all cops, and really just people, can be- full of light. When I found myself at the office or on site extremely early or late, he would check on me. When my kids were needing an extra watching eye, he filled in. When I slept in the onsite Media Center, hearing him on the radio in the room next door made me know I was safe. And he didn’t just watch out for me, he watched out for all of us- whether management staff, booth worker, patron, or citizen of Todd Mission. He smiled a lot- but I can tell you from watching him in action that when his authority was needed, he could bring it.

When we announced his passing on social media, of course the response was tremendous:

“There are no words to fully express how this news hits us as a community and individually. Johnny, you were a wonder and a truly great man. You leave a hole in our hearts which will hold a thousand tears. Sincere condolences to all friends and family who loved this smiling face.” – Roxanna W.K.

“He protected us all as we enjoyed ourselves. Never forget all that goes on in the background, thank you Sir for all you have done for the festival. God bless you, and may you and your family find peace.” – Tyler L.

“I’m shocked and so sad. My deepest sympathy to Johnny’s family. His absence will be felt by thousands of us who loved his smile and always knew we were safer when he was around.” – Maritabeth C.

And my favorite:

“Wow. Thank you for your service. Even the times I was the one you were taking to the pokey. We all have our jobs. Blessings of healing love to your family. R.I.P. Johnny.” – Donnie E.

At the graveside, with bagpipes playing “Amazing Grace,” a helicopter circling over the cemetery, and the last call being broadcast over radio,  I saw many dear faces of the law enforcement officers, volunteer fire fighters, and EMTs who keep us all safe here in this place that is a haven for so many.  These men and women use their knowledge, courage, and strength to protect us. Sometimes, they have to be tough. Sometimes, they aren’t popular. But I can assure you with complete confidence that if these men and women were not here, TRF would not be the wonderful place that it is.

Next time you come to enjoy a day at the Festival, maybe take a minute to shake a law enforcement officer’s hand or offer a thank you to an EMT. I know that today I am wishing I had thanked Johnny.

Y’all be safe and kind out there.

On November 7th and 8th, 60,000 students and educators came from all over the southeast Texas region, and even from Louisiana and Oklahoma, to participate in School Days, an event which is educationally focused.

We have competitions in theatre, music, art, science, essay, poetry, costume, and journalism. We are thrilled to present the work of the winners in journalism. What follows is news stories and photos entered from many really talented students. We are thrilled to work with such awesome kids and their teachers.

First place high school story: Shelby McVey, Willis High School

Emily Warren looks around the full arena, watching the excited eyes of the young children as they witness the knights joust, riding their horses back and forth through the mud. She can’t help the sense of nostalgia that passes over her, as this will be her last trip to the Renaissance Festival as a member of the yearbook staff. Wanting to make the most of this senior last, Warren sets her sights on the legendary giant swings, ready to experience that heart dropping feeling one last time.

On November 8th, 2017, members of the student media took their annual trip to the Texas Renaissance Festival for their School Days event. It is a chance for all ages to experience the wonder and magic that the Renaissance Festival provides. For the members of student media, it was a chance to harness their journalism and photography skills in order to participate in the contest that the Renaissance Festival holds each year, providing awards and scholarships for senior participants.

͞”The Ren Fest is full of so much activity and craziness, it is hard to remember everything we did,” Gabe Zapata said. “I was so tired by the end of it; I just wanted to go home.” The characters that litter the grounds of the Renaissance are ordered to stay in character, in order to bring the magic that the old days to a new generation of festival goers.  However, this isn͛’t always the case with the older crowds. “I thought the characters were a little bit creepy and a lot got out of character when we would talk to them or ask questions,” Karyme Puente said. “But honestly, it was really cool to see the lives of the people who love the Ren Fest so much that they want to be a part of it.”͟

With the fun of the Renaissance Festival, came the search for an award winning journalism piece. “I’m entering pictures for the contest, so I’m hoping that I win some kind of award,” Yoali Cervantes said. “I love taking pictures, and it would be so exciting to win. This year will prepare me for entering to win a scholarship next year.”For Warren, this would be her last year to make an attempt at the gold medal that the contest winners receive, and hopefully have a scholarship accompany it. “I’m competing in the photography section,” Warren said. “This means taking pictures of the characters, the pretty sculptures and statues, and the amazing shows that the actors perform. ͟Delicious food, magical sights, and old time gift shops were what littered the sidewalks of the festival, drawing in customers by the dozens. Some of my favorite parts were eating the Greek gyros, they were so delicious,” Warren said. “But I also enjoyed walking in the Magic Garden with my friends.”

͟The Renaissance Festival also brings old friends back together, reigniting the bond that was once broken by separation. “I got to see my friend who works at the festival now,” Jocelyn Dow said. “He graduated last year and I haven’t gotten the chance to really see him since then. It was really nice to catch up after so long.”

͟Getting out of school for the day was a perk the student media got to enjoy, even having most of their good friends to enjoy the day with. “I loved being able to be out of school and still be with my friends,” Amberly Nye said. For the seniors, the Renaissance Festival was one of the many senior lasts that their last year of high school brings.

First place junior high story: Ryan Dagley, Barbers Hill MS South

The Grand Joust

On November 08, 2017, we took a trip back in time to the Renaissance era and got to

experience what the Europeans did during that time. The festival was full of merchants and traders selling goods such as jewelry, weapons, and foods to the visitors looking for a nice deal. The festival correctly portrayed how productive and innovative the Europeans were with engineering and finding new forms of entertainment, and really provides a fun and educational experience for people of all ages. One of the first things I saw when I got there was the great joust. It was a battle between separated families, man versus woman. At first, the announcer was just talking to us about who would be fighting. Then the jousters proceeded to show their skill by grabbing hard to get rings with their lances. After that was over, the real excitement began as the contestants began to joust, but they get blocked and miss the first few tries. The woman connected with a crushing blow and sent Sir Thomas flying backwards to the ground. As she came back for the finishing blow, Sir Thomas was able to counter and grab her lance pulling her off of her mighty horse. Shaken but not stirred, they continued this glorious battle by picking up swords and fighting in gladiator-like fashion. Sir Thomas was able to regroup and land a few blows, but the woman came back and slashed Sir Thomas in the stomach ending the battle to the death.

The Renaissance festival is full of many sights and wonders that truly show us the major development that Europe went through during those years, rather than just being told what happened in the classroom. The festival and its activities are perfect for anyone who likes history and would like to learn more about it to increase their knowledge. The perfect place to begin your jump back in time and really get into character is the joust that provides great entertainment as it has throughout history and will continue through the generations.

Second place high school story, Nadia Bosquez, Poth HS

Come One, Come All to the Texas Renaissance Festival

Students enrolled in dual-credit English, and Art II at Poth High School made the nearly four hour drive to the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, Texas. Although these students were called to visit the festival for academic purposes, there were many attractions that the students enjoyed as well. The festival grounds cover approximately 55 acres of land. Jousting, sword fighting, shops, and food vendors were among the activities that students enjoyed during their five hour trip. The jousting portion consisted of two competitors, one representing the side of England and the other representing France. After a steady battle, the French side proved victorious in both jousting and sword fighting. The 55 acres of land that the Renaissance Festival are occupied mainly by shops in which visitors can purchase items similar to those used and made during the renaissance era. From attire during the middle ages to replicas of weaponry, there was definitely a wide variety of items to purchase for the majority of interests that the festival’s visitors had.

In between all the shopping visitors are bound to work up an appetite. The festival was not shy in providing its visitors with many eating options to decide from. Many of the students enjoyed corn dogs, turkey legs, pizza, pickles, funnel cakes, and even ice cream. Aside from normal fountain drinks and water, frozen lemonade made an appearances in a normal and king size.

In conclusion, the Texas Renaissance Festival was a n experience that the students of Poth High School enjoyed. The English and Art students were able to gain a deeper understanding of how people experienced the renaissance era.

 

Second place, junior high story, Claire Barnard, Barbers Hill MS South

Show-stopping Birds of Prey

The performance was stunningly interesting and absolutely spectacular. Sir Robert Chessman, the act’s amazing bird handler, acted as if this was nothing but a piece of cake. He hopes to educate his audience by stating and showing facts. He also encourages listeners and watchers to never try to harm, hunt, and trap the beautiful birds of prey. Chessman educated his audience about the following birds, Igore, the Black Vulture, Luna, the Great Horned Owl, Mario, the Red-Tailed Hawk, Ed, the African Whiteback Vulture, and Orion, the African Augur Buzzard. These fascinating birds completely shocked the crowd and left us in awe. These animals were well trained to perfection. Some of them had a sense of smell and could see in color! The birds all had an intelligence level equivalent to a three year old child. Chessman cracked many jokes which added to the mood of enjoyment. Chessman also displayed many suspenseful tricks that you most likely will never see just on a regular basis. One of the birds he showed was the only one that had ever severely hurt him before. This bird devoured a chicken drumstick in under ten seconds, and that drumstick was in Chessman’s hand!

Would you like to encounter the presence of spectacular birds that are going extinct? This performance was certainly entertaining and pleasant to experience. The act was surely worth my time and was not wasted. I was left in a sense of admiration and awe.

Third place, high school story, Maddy Palacios, Poth HS

Poth High Students Visit the Renaissance

On November 7th, Dr. Tiffany K. Polasek and her students made the three and a half hour drive to Todd Mission, Texas. This year, Dr. Polasek’s Dual Credit English classes wrote essays to turn in to the high school essay competition for the Renaissance Festival. Abby Zaiontz, a senior in Dr. Polasek’s class won second place in the competition, and Brock Kerby, Junior, took first. Zachary Hoover, a Junior, was also a participant in the costume making competition. Dr. Polasek applied for a scholarship with the Texas Renaissance Festival, won it, and received a numerous amount of free entry tickets that were used for her students and the Poth High school’s Art class led by Mrs. Kristen Pruski. Travel was graciously paid for by a grant given to Dr. Polasek by the Poth Education Foundation as well. Visiting the Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission  has been an ongoing tradition for Dr. Polasek for numerous years. Activities such as these benefit students positively because not only do they have fun exploring different events all day, but also get to learn a little bit about how life was back during the Renaissance Era. Both teachers hoped this experience was as entertaining as it was educational to further the students’ knowledge about a day in the life during the Renaissance.

Third place, junior high story, Kami Taylor, Barbers Hill MS South

The Cotton Spinner

Her hands moved as swiftly as a machine, so perfect and clean it was unbelievable. Katherine was her name, a name that seemed as if it was made just for her. Katherine spun cotton so very gracefully. It was like nothing I had ever seen before, I was mesmerized. She was an old, light hearted woman with a smile that you could see from a mile away. In a very soft but raspy voice she said, “Well hello there, do you want to learn a little about my life?” I whispered, ”yes.” She intrigued me; I had never seen a person with such joy in their eyes over something so simple as just being there, so she started to show me how to spin cotton. Her worn down hands glided across the cotton ever so delicately. I just stared at her in awe, her hands moved so perfectly and her mind so focused that she was in a different place. At the end she let me try and it was really difficult, but she made it seem so easy. Katherine was like nothing I had ever seen before, but not just because she is good at what she does. Her old soul, her smile, and her happiness for even the simplest things made her different from everyone else.