Remember that time

I said I was going to write a blog post a day for the entire month of November?  Well, I think we all know how well that worked out.  But A Christmas Carol is almost together, and previews are happening and no one has seriously injured themselves by falling into the Marley pit yet, and no one in the audience has taken home one of the handbells yet, and we just might get all of the trim on the big fluffy dresses sometime before opening, AND I got to be off all this past weekend, which was magical.  I hung out with the husband and the kid, and did laundry, and wrapped Christmas presents, and baked gingerbread, and went to the grocery store like a normal human being.  And it was all awesome.  

Cranks hat/caution sash

So today my boss was in a super cranky mood because of both external factors and the fact that people from other departments kept asking her questions about costumes that don’t exist yet.  All she wanted to do was make costumes in a room full of other people making costumes, but other people kept interrupting that plan of action and she was getting crankier by the second.  FInally she said that she needed an “approach with Caution” sign.  Someone found some caution tape and made her sash, which instantly improved her mood and warned people to think again before they bothered her with inanities.  Once again, costuming solves all problems.

 

We decided to keep the caution sash with our Cranks Hat, which is not a hat at all but an awesome unicorn mask. Image

Truly, it is awesome, no?  The Cranks Hat’s purpose is twofold.  One, if you put it on everyone in the room knows that you are cranky.  Two, it makes you feel better pretty much instantly, because all of a sudden you are a badass unicorn with glitter on your nose and no one can fuck with your mood.  Other departments in the theater have cranks hats, but none are as awesome as ours.  (Stage Ops has a black Egyptian Smurf hat, which my First Hand made for them after our production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and I know Team Electrics has a cranks hat but I don’t remember what it looks like.)

 

I feel like a lot of hurt feelings and miscommunications in the world could be solved by the practical application of a cranks hat and/or caution sash.  If we knew before we approached someone where they were in their heads at that instant, and judged their reactions not by what they said but what we knew they were going through, maybe we’d be a little easier on each other and think of each other a little more kindly.  Or, at the very least, you’d have a harder time being judgy about someone’s tone when they were wearing an awesome unicorn mask.  Think about it.

Solving the world’s problems one costume at a time.

Typing with one hand

…while my nails on the other hand dry.  Please excuse typos.  I will try to proofread once all ten nails are dry, but I make no promises as I’m still so damn sleepy.  At least today’s tired is all to do with having fun.  The husband and I got to go see Radiolab Live last night (if you don’t listen to Radiolab on NPR you are missing out and should start downloading the podcasts RIGHT NOW), which was really really fun and interesting, but we didn’t get home until 11 and then forgot to set alarms and didn’t wake up until 645, which is late in our house.  So I spent a whole day yawning incessantly, but despite that I had a very productive day at work today and a nice evening with my boys, and am now painting my nails and watching Top Gear while I write this blog, in an attempt to not let the couch get me.  My couch is evil, and likes to suck me in and make me so happy and comfortable that I fall asleep around 930 on it, and don’t wake up until the husband decides he wants to go to bed and comes to find me.  (Yes, I am a pathetic old married person.  Shut up and get off my lawn.)  

Andbutso the show… ah, the show.  It’s too damn big, ya’ll.  Thanks to my amazing First Hand, all of our garments are cut out and ready to build (well, except for the skirts that go over the hoop skirts. That’s a whole other problem for future me to deal with), and I’m averaging 1.5 built costume pieces a day.  Which is good.  It’s just huge and stressful, and it will all be just fine at some point but right now that point is a little far away. Sigh.  Goodnight all, I’ll be more positive tomorrow.

Sooooooooooo sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeepy…….

…but it was a good day.  It just started waaaaaay too early.  The kid, being unprepared to enjoy the magic of an extra hour of sleep, woke up at 430 this morning.  And not the kind of 430 am wake up that can be mitigated by falling asleep on the sofa with mommy while Mr. Rogers plays quietly on the TV.  No, this was a I-don’t-care-what-time-it-is-I’m-awake-and-let’s-suck-the-marrow-out-of-life kind of wake up.  And, since I had conned the husband into being okay with me going to work for a few hours in the morning, I felt obligated by the wife-and-mommy guilt to be the one to get up.  

The trouble with the tech and build process of a really big show is properly balancing the ratio of wife-and-mommy guilt to the finish-all-the-things guilt.  In the time before the kid, it was a whole lot easier.  I just worked until I couldn’t function any more, then went home and hung out with the husband, who may or may not be awake when I got home.  Now, my chronic need to overachieve has to do battle between overachieving at work or overachieving at mommyhood.  Because one thing I have learned is that it is pretty much impossible to overachieve at both simultaneously.  

But I have an amazing husband who takes amazing care of our kid when I’m off making all the costumes, and a fantastic boss who actually thinks it’s better for all of us when we take time to be with our families and not kill ourselves making clothes for pretend people.  And awesome parents, who moved out to Texas this spring after retirement to be a bigger part of their only grandchild’s life, and consequently do a huge part to relieve some of the wife-and-mommy guilt.  And the kid is pretty amazing too, for being happy to see me every morning when he wakes up, even if I wasn’t there to kiss him goodnight when he went to bed the night before.  For hearing the door open when I am coming in in the evenings, and saying “Mommy!” like my coming home is the best thing to happen to him all day.  For the new things he learns that surprise me every day.  

 

I am so damn lucky, ya’ll.

Real clothes for fake people

There are, essentially, two types of costumes in this world.  

1. Fake clothes for real people.

2. Real clothes for fake people.

 

Fake clothes for real people are the kind of costumes you think of if you don’t work in the entertainment industry.  Halloween costumes, themed outfits for parties or Homecoming week, bridesmaid dresses… all fake clothes for real people.  You wear them for one specific event, to be someone or something you aren’t for a little while, then go back to your normal clothes and your normal self.  This is not my kind of costuming. ( I do make Halloween costumes for the kid, but I actually gave birth to him and so I’ll make him a Halloween costume until he’s old enough to whine about how he just wants a Spiderman costume from Target like all of the other kids.)  

I make real clothes for fake people.  The fake people are not the actors that wear them, merely the characters the actors create while wearing the clothes I made for them.  While performing a role, an actor’s job is to become a completely new person for a little while.  The words they speak, the places they stand, how they move, what they wear is all dictated by a series of choices made by the actor, the director, the choreographer, the costume designer, and a whole mess of other people.  My job as a theatrical costumer is to create their character’s clothing.  Wether it is something they would wear in their real life or not is not the issue, it’s all about helping the actor create a character through that person (or thing) is wearing.  Sometimes that means making a man a beautifully tailored three piece suit, and sometimes that means making a making a man into a hunchback by sewing some old bustle pads to an undershirt, then making a frock coat to go over his resulting hump.  Some days, they are even the same man. (But not today.)

it’s (really) not like that…

So, if you stumble across this little blog that I’ve just started writing, you might, from the title, think that it would be about something salacious, perhaps even lascivious.  

This ain’t that, ya’ll.  

It’s November 1, which means that NatNoWriteMo has officially begun.  And while I don’t think I have a novel in me, I thought I would try to blog every day for the month of November about my weird, wild, utterly insane career in theatrical costuming.  It’s a good time of year for stories about my job- we’re currently building a brand new version of A Christmas Carol, which has about a trillion costumes in it (slight hyperbole), and all of them are going to drive me just the teensiest bit insane over the next month.  Please enjoy the breaking of my brain.  Really, it should be pretty entertaining.

  So… the title.  I had thought of writing a blog about my career for a while now, but between work and the kid and the husband and the parents moving to Texas and more work and stuff, I never got around to it. The idea of calling it Peculiar Intimacies came to me as I was moving a dress form around the costume shop.  The easiest way to move a dress form (to me) is to grab it by the neck and pull with one hand, while you put the other hand on the butt and push.  You don’t think about how it looks, because A. it’s not a person, and B. you have to sling the damn things around all the time, and if you just try to pull them they get unbalanced and fall over, and it’s just a pain in the ass.  Anyway, I’m walking through the room dragging my human analog by its neck and butt, and I realize that, as a person who makes clothes for a living, I have a very different perspective on the human body than most people.  And my job calls me to have a peculiar relationship to the bodies that I am costuming (and the actors that inhabit said bodies).  So, here we all are.  If you are still reading despite being disappointed by the lack of licentiousness, I appreciate you and hope you continue to enjoy.

 

Okay, so.  A Christmas Carol.  Yes, it’s that story, with the miser and the kid with the crutch and the ghosts and “God bless us, every one.”  We do it every year.  This is my 12th (it would have been 13th, but I took off in 2011 to have the kid) time to do this show, but only the 3rd version of it.  Generally, when we do ACC (as it will henceforth be called), we build a new version, then remount it for five to eight years.  So this year it’s all new.  New script, new design, new set, new costumes, new everything.  And, it’s rather stressful.  Dress rehearsals start on November 13th.  So, for the next 12 days, my job is to sew like the wind.  We’ll see how that goes.

Welcome to my blog. Now that introductions are out of the way, I can write something more entertaining tomorrow.  Goodnight!