Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Head, Shoulders, - that's all, just head and shoulders

I haven't been blogging here much, because I've been blogging more on our other blog, CoSar Casa, about the addition we're building. But when I sat down to try to finish up one of the three drafts I'm working on about building the addition, this is what came out, and it makes more sense on this blog. To me, anyway.

I've been having some minor neck and shoulder pain for a couple of weeks. Part of this is that we're buying things for the addition (like cabinets and sinks and garbage disposals) and I am trying to load and unload and lug these things around myself. A few times we've had contractors at the house and I've let them lug things for me, but mostly I'm trying to do it myself. And this renovation thing? I don't know if anyone has told you, BUT IT'S STRESSFUL. Add to it that I'm working on a very physically demanding show at the moment.

Dressing a show is a weird gig. There are shows where you go in, fold laundry, maybe fix a snap or track down a sock, wave at the actors as they go onstage, and then wash laundry at the end of the night.

Then there are the shows where you go in, fold laundry, preset lots of heavy costumes, run nonstop for two hours lifting and carrying and hooking and unhooking and crawling and running and putting wigs on and taking wigs off and then you carry lots of heavy laundry down a flight of stairs and then you do lots of hand-washing and hang heavy things that are now even more heavy because they're WET and, well, those shows are a little more exhausting. Robin Hood is one of those shows. The actors are lovely (really, I've only worked with lovely people, so I am damn lucky) but it's one of the most physically demanding shows I've ever worked.

For those of you who need video or pictures to break up all this text, here's an interesting video of Kelli O'Hara's quick change during the Tonys.

When I got up Sunday morning to get ready for work, I was having a hard time swallowing because of the pain in my neck. But I jumped in the shower to get ready for work anyway. Then I couldn't wash my hair because a) I couldn't raise my left arm above my head and b) the pressure of my right hand applying shampoo to my head was intensely painful. I sent an email to my boss and let Jules take me to urgent care. (which she'd wanted to do on Friday, and on Saturday...) I thought I might have meningitis or that I was having a stroke. But mostly I thought it was lockjaw.

I was pretty sure it was lockjaw.

When I found out it was "just a muscle strain", I wanted to go to work and power through it. Jules was so mad at me. The doctor and the nurse kept telling me they could write me a note and I shouldn't go back for a few days. I kept saying, "You don't understand, it's not that kind of job."


So we picked up the prescribed muscle relaxers and went to get some food. We had to leave the restaurant because I was in too much pain to swallow. I continued to argue with Jules about whether or not I could make it through a two-show day.

Finally Jules told me that if I wanted to go to work, fine, but she wasn't going to drive me there.

Jules: Just take a muscle relaxer and go home and knit.
Me: I can't knit, it's too painful.

So we went home. And I processed through the 21 stages of guilt. (I don't know if there are 21 stages of guilt. I think it's more like four stages on repeat.)

Guilt: They can't do it without me.
Fear: What if they find out they CAN do it without me?
Self-loathing: Anyone can do this. You're not that special.
Shame: If you ate better/exercised more/lost weight/drank less, this wouldn't have happened in the first place.
Guilt: now Beverly is going to have to do it. Beverly has too much to do already. 
Fear: What if Beverly finds out it's not that hard?
Self-loathing: It's not that hard. You're being a drama queen. Starved for attention much?

Finally I took another muscle relaxer and fell asleep for six hours.

I woke up to an email from Beverly letting me know that the world did not end by virtue of her running my track.

BUT WAIT! Now I'm feeling guilty because if I'd actually admitted to someone how much pain I was in on say, Friday or Saturday, Someone could have shadowed me and it would have been a lot easier for them to take my track on Sunday. Or they could have helped me with the heavy lifting (literally. Some of those costumes weigh at least 30 pounds) and the pain wouldn't have gotten as bad in the first place.

The moral of the story? I guess that I shouldn't be so hard on myself. That it's okay to ask for help. That I don't have to be a martyr to be liked and appreciated and valued.

Jules will tell you that the moral of the story is that she's right, and I'm wrong, and I should listen to her. Don't listen to her, she has an agenda. It involves me being kind to myself, and me making her cookies. Primarily the former, but don't underestimate the cookies.

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Little History, aka Where I've Been the Last Five Years

To follow up on my last post about my refusal to make any New Year's Resolutions other than "Be Kind to Yourself", I thought I should mention some of my goals.

First, some history. I worked on my first feature film, The Tailor, in 2005. I was smitten, and moved to LA to pursue film. (Side note: in 2010, an unscrupulous production company picked it up for a song, re-edited it, named it Gunfight at Yuma which has nothing to do with the storyline, and is apparently making money on it; but for a variety of reasons, primarily with regards to their lack of scruples, none of us who worked on it originally are making any money on this. But the costumes are AWESOME.)

My most well-known project was a Star Wars fan fic film called Forced Alliance, which can be seen here or here. I did extras costuming and also costumed the bartender and waitresses characters. I also did not get paid for this film, but the crew and actors were among the best I ever worked with.

After some ups and downs in the film industry, I sustained a serious back injury while on location for a really bad movie that I was costume designing. I was unable to walk more than two or three steps at a time for about three weeks. I had no health insurance and no savings, and the inability to walk made getting another job difficult.

Shortly after that, the awesome house I was renting in Echo Park went into foreclosure, unbeknownst to me and my roommates. The landlord disappeared with all of the rent money that she'd been collecting from us for the preceding year, and we were all given eviction notices by the mortgage company.

My best friend at the time (now my wife) was there for me through all of this turmoil. I was out of places to go, decided to move in with her for a while to get back on my feet, BECAUSE I LITERALLY COULDN'T WALK.

When I finally healed enough, I took a job in a call center to try to make some money while I figured out what to do next. I liked the people and the product, and I worked my way up in the company, eventually ending up in the Merchandising department.

I really, really loved my job in the Merchandising department. I was good at it, I was challenged, I loved the people I worked with, and I had the best boss ever.

Things changed, as they always do. My boss moved to Baltimore and her replacement was a bitter, angry, backstabbing, jealous, miserable human being who made my life sheer hell until finally I quit. I think that if I was less passionate, more able to deflect her pettiness, less impacted by being given decreasingly less responsibility, and better able to play the game, I might have stayed. But I've never been good at hiding my emotions, and it was a roller coaster until I finally quit.

In the middle of all of that, The Girl and I got married legally in California, and shortly after that, DOMA was overturned, making it easier for us to take care of each other, and overall making us feel more supported and secure as a couple.

Another side note: Marriage is AWESOME. There's a whole post about how amazing it felt to finally be married after having been engaged for three years and constantly worrying about our legal rights as a couple. And then there's another post about how terrific it is to be married to your best friend. And then there's another post about how much you and your spouse can annoy each other at times.

ANYWAY. I found a job in the merchandising department at another company, but it wasn't the same. I was doing work that required little creativity, was prohibited from making changes or improvements even in MY OWN DAMN WORKFLOW, and I was raked over the coals for every mistake, no matter how large or small. I was completely miserable and stressed out. At the same time, my wife was promoted, with more responsibility, a little bit more money, and a lot more stress in her job.

After long discussions and multiple attempts to make things work at my place of employment, my wife urged me to quit and find a way to do what I'd always wanted to do - as soon as I figured out what that was. She was making enough money to cover the bills, and we were almost completely out of debt (excepting student loans which, I believe, go on forever.)

So, in May of 2015, I quit again. For a while I was doing some writing for an SEO company that paid per word. It was fun, but for a perfectionist like me, not exactly lucrative. I'm also working on a novel, because goddess forbid I focus on one thing at a time.

I relaunched my etsy shop in the fall, and thanks to the lovely and amazing Katrina Walker, who uses one of my hams in some of her Craftsy classes, I've had a lot of interest in my hand-made pressing hams and seam rolls, and so I'm trying to focus on that. (BTW, she is an AMAZING educator and you should absolutely take one or all of her classes, either online or, if you're really lucky, in-person! You'll even see one of my hams used in her classes on Craftsy, because I am the luckiest person in the world)

So that's where I am now. I've had a lot of interest and I've had some good weeks on etsy, but I'm nowhere near being able to pay bills or do much more than buy groceries with the money I am making. My biggest challenge is the enormous amount of time it takes to make a single ham, contrasted with the amount of money I think people are willing to pay for one. I am working on ways to streamline the process while coming up with new ideas that I hope will be appealing to people.

Now it's a new year, and it's been over six months since I quit my day job. I thought I would have things figured out by now! I've been doing more sewing, more knitting, and more cooking and baking, but haven't made any of that profitable yet. It's s little frustrating, and I'm starting to really miss having a paycheck, but I'm still hoping to find the intersection of art and commerce that satisfies me.

Next post: my plans for the coming year. Probably. Unless I get sidetracked by something else which is always a possibility.

Friday, January 08, 2016

Happy New Year!

I know a lot of people make resolutions this time of year, and I swore to myself that I wouldn't make resolutions. They're always the same, and I never seem to make them realistic or specific enough to accomplish them.

Instead, I'm making one resolution this year: to be kind to myself.

In theory, being kind to myself could be construed to cover all of the other resolutions I might make. You could say that, to be kind to myself, I would lose weight to improve my health and comfort. You could say that cleaning the kitchen daily would make me feel better about my home. You could say that having a consistent yoga practice would be kind to my body, and watching less TV would be kind to my creativity. You could say all of that, and you would be right, for the most part. But really, I beat up on myself too much, so I don't want to make resolutions that I'm just going to berate myself for not keeping.

I'm just going to be kind to myself.

I'm still going to make some goals. Simple things, like knitting something for myself, experimenting on my new loom, and learning how to use a DSLR.

I'm going to make some business goals, too, like getting a certain amount of things listed on etsy, getting a resellers license in CA, and refreshing my branding.

But if I don't get all of that accomplished, or if I don't accomplish it in quite the way I imagined, or with the perfection I demand from myself, I'm going to try to remind myself that my only resolution this year is to be kind to myself. And instead of berating myself for not accomplishing a "resolution", maybe I'll go get some ice cream. Or go for a walk. Or call someone who makes me feel good about myself. Or eat a bowl of cereal and binge-watch The Gilmore Girls.

That's it. That's all. Just be kind to myself.

Be kind to yourself, too.