Thursday, August 30, 2018

Oh Dear Lord, What HAVE I Done?

Massive changes afoot, y'all.  MASSIVE.  And, of course, me being the type of person that I am, I hate them.  I hate change.  Ok, maybe not hate.  No, yes, HATE.  Even when it leads to better things, I still don't like it.  I am, by nature, an anxious sort of person.  I require stability, in all things, to function at my best.  So, of course, fate has seen fit to force me to grow by allowing all sorts of instability into my life at random moments.  Oh, you like financial stability?  Well, hold please, let me take that all away and drop you into poverty.  You like a stable home situation?  Hang on!  I'll have you move 3 times in 2 years!!!  You like the stability of your career? Ha!  Not enough money to live on that way!  Try something new.

So.  Here I am, trying something new.  I don't like it.  New and me, we don't get along so well.  Not that I don't ever try anything new, I do, because I'm gutsy like that.  :/  But, you know, I prefer to have more control over it and I prefer that it is something lovely, like a new country in Europe or a delicious new food.  Not upending my entire life, which is what I have done.

Here's the thing.  I love my career.  It's been glorious and difficult and rewarding and frustrating and I've met some amazing people and done beautiful things.  I don't want to leave it.  But, things being what they are (arts and jobs traditionally held by women DON'T PAY) I have to leave it.  I have a daughter (and now, a niece) to care for, besides myself, and I don't want them living with next to nothing.  I want to take my daughter to Europe, but more importantly, I want to have a home for me and my girls.  I want to be able to afford to pay my mortgage and fix my car and buy my kid clothes at the mall, rather than rely on hand me downs and the thrift store to clothe her.  Not that I wouldn't still shop at the thrift store, because AWESOME, but, you get my drift.  I want to be able to go to the doctor and not have to worry that it's going to ruin me.  I want to finish getting my (terrible) teeth fixed so I don't walk around looking like an idiot.  In my current career, in my current location, those things are out of my reach, so I have to change things.

But I don't WANT TO.

I love where I am at, career wise.  I am good at my job.  I mean, GOOD.  I rarely have to look for work, it finds me.  I have designers that I always want to work with, and who want to work with me.  We have a relationship that makes working with them so easy.  I love to make beautiful things.  I love to make people look beautiful.  I don't care what shape they are, I just like to make them look amazing in their costume.  (Yeah, I don't really love making the ugly stuff, but sometimes it's what a character needs). 

I have worked in every position in a costume shop and I love them all, though my absolute favorite is cutter/draper, which is what I have been for the longest.  I started at the bottom of the ladder and worked my way all the way up, then dropped back down a rung or two to where I wanted to be.  I have been a stitcher, a first hand, a jr. draper, a tailor, a craftsperson, a milliner, wardrobe, wardrobe manager, makeup artist, hair stylist, wig stylist, teacher, shop manager and, of course, cutter/draper.  I have worked in community theatre, school theatre, summer stock theatre, professional theatre, opera, ballet, tv, film.  All of it.  And I love it.  It's what I do.  It's absolutely delightful to walk into a space, no matter where, and know where you belong and that you know how to do your job  It's wonderful to DO the job, and do it well and watch a team and a show all come together.  I know what it is like to work in a perfectly synergistic workplace and it is incredible.  I know what it's like to work in one that isn't and it's hard, but you still manage to do the work.  I have never, in 25 years of doing this, had a show I was in charge of not be ready by dress rehearsal.  I am proud of what I've done.  And now, I have to let it go.

Nursing school.  That's where I'm at.  Weird, I know.   You would be surprised by the number of people who have done both medicine and theatre.  A lot of the skills you use in theatre do translate to the medical field, particularly as a costumer.  How?  Let me tell you.

As a costume person, you are up close and intimate with performers in their most vulnerable state.  Not only do they often strip themselves down to their souls to perform a role, but they also strip down physically.  So, when you are fitting someone in a costume, you are sometimes dealing intimately with someone who is naked emotionally and physically.  It's important to have their confidence, because what you do in that fitting, how you dress them, how you treat them, how they perceive YOU perceiving them, makes a difference.  Nursing is similar.

As a cutter/draper, I am responsible for the flow of the build.  What needs to be done first and how quickly and who should do it and are all the parts there and is it what the designer really wants and needs?  Oh, I love that part.  When I get a show and have the renderings and the cast and I know who my team is and how long the build is, it all just unspools in my head, and I know how to plan it out, how to structure the build, where to account for excess time in case of emergency (there is always an emergency), who to assign to what project, where fittings need to come in, all of it.  And, let me tell you, when you have a good shop manager who does the scheduling and chases people and money and fabric down, it is AMAZING.  It's my job to make all of the patterns, primarily for the women, cut the costumes out, instruct the stitchers on how to build them, fit the performer in them and then see that they are finished according to the designer's desires.  And I do it well.    As a nurse, I know all of this organizational ability will come in handy, in fact, it's very important to doing the job effectively.  So, I've got some good background.  Also, I love science, so there's that.

I also have a need to help people.  That has bitten me in the butt, overall, I think, because I have put other people's needs and desires well ahead of my own and that has significantly impacted my earning ability.  I could list a number of choices I made that benefited the other person overall, but didn't do much for me, career-wise.  In hindsight, I would likely make the same choices again, because I can't bear to see people suffer when I know I can help, but it still may not have been the wisest choice and I am paying for it now.  Granted, I do have close relationships that I would not have had I not done that, and I treasure those.  But, yeah.  Sometimes, it is better to think about oneself.  Once in a while.  :)

This need to help people, my ability to be empathetic, to be professional and calm in awkward or emergency circumstances and my ability to organize a team and a schedule, all these are what led me to decide on nursing.  Granted, I will never be rich doing this.  Yes, some nurses make quite a lot of money, but they start younger than I did and have time to build up to that.  But, nursing pays well enough that I hope (fingers crossed) to make enough money to actually live well above the poverty line.  To own a home, or at least, afford rent.  To not stress so much about my car.  To afford medical bills.  To take my girls on vacation.  I know, first world problems, but I live in the first world, so I'd like to do it a bit better.

So, there you go.  I'm nervous as hell, not because I don't think I can do it, I know I can, but because I'm worried that the sacrifice won't be worth it.  We will be living WELL below the poverty line while I am in school.  I will have student loans to pay off when I get out of school. I will have to rely on other people (niece, mom, stepdad) more than I like. It's a time suck and means I don't get to be as involved with my girls as I'd like and as they are used to.  So, send a prayer or two up for us.  We'll need it.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

A Rescue

Picture the scene.  A small, slightly crowded, studio apartment in a converted garage, a loft bed, curtained below to create a closet.  A large cupboard, newly painted, with a stack of doors against it, waiting to be restored to it. And self and Small Daughter sleeping peacefully on the hide-a-bed (it's too hot up in the loft bed).

I wake to a violent scuffle, with sounds of what I can only think is a suckling pig being murdered somewhere in my apartment.  I am bewildered, because, why would a suckling pig be in my apartment?  The cats (there are 2) are chasing something, but I don't know what, as it clearly is NOT a suckling pig. I climb from the bed and go over to the corner, they have something pinned between the desk and Small Daughter's spinning wheel, I cannot see what it is, but the sounds emanating from the corner are awful. Whatever it is manages to squeeze behind the spinning wheel and under the curtain into my closet area.  I go around to the other side to see if I can get a look at what it is, but no luck.  Willow has the creature under my dresser, with much screaming and banging about.  I am perplexed, how do I get this thing out from under my dresser, the closet space is so cramped.

As I stand there, listening to the battle, wondering what to do, something comes HURTLING out from under the dresser, straight at me.  I scramble backward out of the way, falling over the stack of cupboard doors in the process, making an almighty crash.  Small Daughter pops up out of the bed like a jack in the box with a "SON OF A NUTCRACKER!"  She looks at me over the top of the kitchen island as I lay on the floor in the pile of doors.  "What are you doing?  Did you know there's a bird in here?"

Ah.  It's a bird.  I haul myself to my feet, my knee seriously bruised.  There is, indeed, a fat bird in the high front window, trying desperately to get out.  Now what?  The thing is flapping madly, emitting shrieks of fright.  Ok, well, clearly I have to catch it, but I am NOT thrilled with the prospect. I begin to madly think of butterfly nets, or perhaps I can just shoo it toward the door?  This is ridiculous.  The cats are prowling below the window, ready to pounce at the first available moment.  I chuck a sofa pillow at them, but they ignore me.

Small Daughter walks over to the door and opens it.  "Get me some gloves, I'll get it."  I toss her her gardening gloves from under the kitchen island and she shoves the coffee table over to the windows as she is too small to reach them from the ground.  She climbs up, reaches her hands up and gently presses the bird down, folding it's wings back against it's body.  It screams, making me wince, as she grasps it and climbs down.  "Poor birdie", she says.  "And bad kitties!"  She walks calmly out the door and opens her hands and the bird immediately flies away, (thank goodness).   Turning to come back in, she strips the gloves from her little hands, tosses them in the hamper and says, "Well, shall we go back to bed?" Which, she promptly does, falling quickly back to sleep.

My hero.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

And now what?

November 7th, I went to bed feeling confident and happy.  We would have a woman for president, my daughter would grow up in a world where a woman could really be anything she wanted to be.  And then, November 8th happened and I am...what?  I don't even know what to say.  I've never cried about an election before, but I shed some tears over this one.  I don't think even I realized how important it was to me to have a woman in the Oval Office.  As much as my disappointment at the loss of that, for now, what contributed, at least equally if not more so, was what kind of person we did vote into that office.

In the coming days, I will try to keep an open mind about his presidency and it's possible success. But, for now, I mourn.  I mourn the loss of a woman in the highest office, and I mourn the level of hatred and divisiveness this man has represented.  His campaign was run on hate.  Hatred and disdain for women, for minorities, for immigrants, for the disabled, for LGBTQ people.  This is not the America I thought I lived in.  This is not the Utah I thought I lived in.  But, it's our own fault, in many ways.  Maybe we think that the average white, cis, straight American male needs to quit being such a baby about their loss of position, because the new social order is bringing them to the level of everyone else, and they don't like that.  While it's hard to sympathize with someone who has been at the top forever and now has to join the ranks, we shouldn't have dismissed them.  We did so to our detriment.

I am sick at what he represents.  I am sick that good, moral people could overlook his utter disdain and nastiness towards anyone who doesn't fit his mold.  I am sick that policy comes before people.  I sorrow to see the real fear in the eyes of my LGBTQ friends, and my Muslim friends and my marginalized friends of every sort.  I don't know what to say to my friends who have children with autism.

What do we do?  I know, we need to try and unify and heal the country, but what do you do when one half of the country's "moral" values are antithetical to one's own?  How do I come together with someone who thinks "gays" can be "cured" by conversion therapy?  Cured of what? Loving someone you don't approve of?  How do I meet someone in the middle who says healthcare is a luxury and if you can't afford it, well, sucks to be you?  How do I meet someone in the middle who thinks "grabbing pussy" is ok?  How do I compromise with someone who thinks the government can and worse SHOULD control what I do with my body?  With someone who thinks that the needy don't deserve to be cared for?

The outcome of this election seems so antithetical to the Christian values that many in this country claim to believe in, that I cannot grasp how this happened.  Except, that I can.  Because it's how things have been for a long time.  I thought they had gotten better than this, but I am sorry to learn they haven't.

So, I will grieve for what I thought was, and then I will find a way to compromise with people. I will find a way to meet them in the middle, to understand why they wanted this and to find our common goals.  I will try to remember that most people are basically good and just want to work things out to our mutual benefit.  But, I am afraid that that isn't what they want.  But, I will hope that it is.  And I will not accept bullying or cruelty or misogyny or sexism or xenophobia or bigotry.  And I will work harder for what I believe to be right and good. And I will hope that in four years, we have figured something out and learned our lesson and move forward to where I thought we were.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Is This Love?

I've had a hard time writing lately.  Not just here on my blog, but even in my journal.  All I seem to be able to do is recite a litany of events and not much else.  And that is colossally boring.  But, I appear to have caught a small writing bug, incited by the prodding of my gentleman companion and by some reading and thinking I've been doing.

I've been reading Outlander.  I know, I know, it's a bit of cheap fiction with a huge and slightly silly fanbase, but it has some moments.  Aside from the romance and action and fantasy and violence, I think the author touches on some important points, or at least touches on things that make me think about important points.  The big one for me is love.  I'm not specifically talking about romantic love, although that is certainly the aspect that is explored most...fervently, shall we say? the novels, but many different types of love.  And, I've been wondering, is the kind of love she describes real?  Is it possible?  I know we all get our ideas of romantic love from Disney or the BBC or wherever, but where did that come from?  If it doesn't exist, why do we yearn for it and want it so?  Is this a good thing?

I had a difficult Christmas this year, for a variety of reasons.  The primary one being that I was alone Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (most of it).  I was disappointed and hurt by some events that had occurred earlier and was feeling decidedly lonely.  My little daughter, having spent the entirety of Christmas Eve day with me and my family down at my dad's, had gone to her dad's house for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and the absence of loved ones, particularly one's own best loved one, makes Christmas damn depressing.  I was feeling sorry for myself and considering going to bed when I got a call from my dear friend, he being somewhat worried about me.  We talked for a bit about why I was upset and what I might do about it and one of the things he said was that it would get better, that I would get used to being alone and finding my own way and that it would be ok.

Now, here's the thing.  I don't know that I want to.  I mean, I DO, because crying in your bed from loneliness on Christmas is pathetic and I don't like it.  But, on the other hand, is learning not to need the company, the love, a companion what I want to do?  Would I be better off that way?  Is ANYONE better off that way?  Goodness knows, it's easier to be content by oneself, and for the most part, I am very content by myself.  I enjoy solitude.  I enjoy my own thoughts and activities.  To quote another friend, I'm great company, for myself and others. it altogether good to be so very emotionally self sufficient?  No, that's not right.  It is good to be emotionally self sufficient.  I'm not sure how to say what I mean.  I want to want companionship, but I also want to not be lonely, or,, I guess, be ok with being lonely?  Don't get me wrong, I'm not laying in my bed night after night crying with loneliness.  Nothing like that.  And I have people I love and who love me.  But, now, onto the real point of this post.

Love.  The real thing.  The abiding passion, as it were.  Is it real?  Does it exist in real life?  Is it possible to find a companion for whom you would do anything? And who would do the same for you?  Someone without whom you cannot envision yourself?  I don't know.  But, I think that if it is possible, you have to be a whole person, content with yourself, yet striving to grow, in order for that to happen.  The only experience I can relate that kind of love to is the way I feel about my daughter.  I was a whole person before she was born, but she is, literally and figuratively, part of me.  Without her, I am less that myself.  For her, I would do ANYTHING.  My heart is utterly bound to hers and the thought of any harm coming to her rouses the deepest emotion in me.  That whole cliche about rousing the mama bear is completely true and there is nothing I would not do to keep her safe. (Not a helicopter mom, though.)  I wonder if this feeling of overwhelming love, protection, adoration is possible between adult partners.  This "bone of my bone, and flesh of my flesh" feeling, does it exist outside of the mother/child bond?  I can't comment on the father/child bond, having not experienced it, and no doubt some of the difference is culturally instilled.  But, does this level of fierce love come mostly from having carried and given birth to her and now from caring for her?  Am I more attached to her because of the difficulty of the pregnancy and the near disaster of delivery?  Because it took such an enormous sacrifice,both physically and mentally, to get her here?  Can this kind of bond exist without those kinds of things?

I think it must exist, somewhere.  How could we imagine it, otherwise?  Why would we yearn and desire for such a deep connection with a partner if it weren't possible?

On many levels, I believe there are people who don't want that kind of connection.  It's difficult.  It's vulnerable.  It leaves you raw.  It requires so much work and sacrifice, and it has to be reciprocated.  In order to have that with another adult, you would have to open yourself up completely, all defenses down.  And there is an inordinate amount of trust required. Perhaps it isn't possible to trust another adult human that way.  A child will break your heart, a million times, but there is a large degree of leeway for them because they are children, without the understanding of the depth to which they can wound, and without the desire to wound as deeply as they do.  But, an adult can wound you deeply, purposefully, even without complete intimacy.  In a deeply intimate relationship, you are handing someone a knife, showing them how to bring you to the brink of death, and then trusting them not to do it.  And perhaps that is unwise.

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Migraines and Tears

I, like several people I know, am subject to migraines.  They go in phases, sometimes.  In a bad phase, I'll get one every week, sometimes more.  In a good phase, I'll get one once a month, though rarely less than that.  Migraines are evil.  They affect one's life in a myriad of ways and they are invisible.  I look perfectly healthy, and it's just a headache, right?  Except, it's not.  If you've never had a migraine, you can't know how debilitating they are.  They affect your vision, your digestion, your mental capabilities and your emotional well being.  I can't drive when I have a bad migraine. It's not that I can't see, it's that I can't see properly.  I no longer get migraines with aura, thank goodness. When I had those, I literally couldn't see.

I miss an unfortunate amount of work due to migraines.  Thankfully, I currently have a job with sick leave, so I don't lose money when I miss work.  But, I miss work.  And I hate that this affects my job. Because it is an invisible illness and because a headache doesn't seem like that big of a deal, it makes me look bad when I leave work or miss work due to a migraine.  It makes it look like I don't have much of a work ethic, when nothing could be further from the truth.  Because of this, there are days when I manage to get to work and stay there despite a migraine, but it isn't easy and I don't get a lot done.

Migraines can be socially embarrassing as well.  There's nothing like collapsing on your date's floor in tears of agony when one comes on like a bullet train.  Nothing like having to ask to be allowed to stay the night because driving home isn't a good option, especially when you know you are trespassing on their good will.  Today, I missed my SIL's performance, one she has been working on for months, because I had a migraine.  It's terrible.  I wanted to go, I wanted her to know I support her and am proud of her and I couldn't do it.

Here's something I don't think a lot of people know about migraines.  They can induce a profound depression.  I don't know if it has to do with blood flow in the brain or the being in intense pain for a protracted amount of time or the loss of control over life or what it is, but migraines send me (and many others) into depression.  We know we miss things, we know we don't perform like we should, we know we make unfair demands on our friends and family.  Those things hurt.  I recall one time after a particularly bad bout, I fell asleep on the chaise in my room and woke to find my little daughter (she was 3 or 4 at the time) sitting on me reading a book.  She had made me a little snack of salami and cheese and bread.  And I cried.  I cried because I should have been the one taking care of her and I failed.  And not only did I fail, she had picked up the slack for me as she could and was taking care of me.

So, there you go.  I'd say, show a little compassion for those that suffer, but most of my friends do, for which I am very grateful.  But, compassion or not, I still feel awful for getting them, for making unfair demands on my friends and family and for missing things I oughtn't to be missing.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


It rained a few weeks ago.  Torrential rain.  Monsoon rain.  It was a prodigious rain.

I'd been having a massive anxiety attack that day, and anxiety attacks make me feel very raw.  In a way, they sort of reduce me to my bare bones self and all of the niceties with which civilization covers me are ripped away and I am left exposed.

There are a few...not remedies...but aids to getting through an anxiety attack for me, but they are not always convenient nor available.  One of them is to crawl in bed, bury myself in blankets and pillows and calming music and wait it out.  Another is running, partly because it takes a lot of energy and partly because it makes me feel like perhaps I can outpace it.  A third is to be wrapped up in the tight embrace of one I trust.  None of these were available to me, as I was at work, so I did what I normally do in that situation and shoved it down to be dealt with later.

Later came, and my intention was to go home, crawl in bed, bury myself and hopefully go to sleep. Anxiety is exhausting and pushing it down and trying to function properly at work is even more so.  I stopped by my dear friend's house to drop some things off, planning to leave shortly thereafter.  He convinced me to stay and have dinner and I knew I did need food, as I hadn't eaten properly that day. He wrapped me tightly in his arms afterwards, knowing I wasn't ok and as we talked about this and that, it slowly entered my consciousness that there was a raging storm going on outside.  Finally, I got up to look.

There it was, the rain.  I love rainstorms, especially thunderstorms.  Especially torrential thunderstorms.  They are raw and magnificent and beautiful and untamed.  (I don't like tornadoes, even though they are also raw and untamed, they are massively destructive)

I stood in the doorway watching the rain come down in sheets.  And the rawness I felt in me connected to the rawness I felt out there.  So, I stepped out into it.  It was, literally, breathtaking. The cold sting of the drops of rain, the quick, hard gusts of wind and the constantly rolling thunder stole the breath from me.  I was soaked to the skin within seconds, but I did not return to the house, I stepped out further into the tumult, daring it to take me, knowing it couldn't.  I wanted to join it, I wanted to be part of it, part of the chaos, part of the power.  I ran out into the road, which had become a river, the water swirling above my ankles.  The lightning flashed across the sky, not in bright branching slashes, but in sheets above the clouds, followed by low, chest rumbling growls of thunder.

The rain pounded me, the wind bit at me and I turned my face to the sky and laughed with sheer exhilaration.  It was glorious, being out in that, connecting to that power, knowing that I could return to the calm warmth of the house, that I could escape it should it get out of hand, that I could be victorious over the storm because in returning to the house, it could not get at me. (It got back at me for my hubris later with an exceptionally close lightning bolt and such a clap of thunder that I screamed in fright from my bastion of safety within the house). I stayed out in it for some time, splashing and playing and reveling in it.

I finally did go back in, teeth chattering, drenched and drained of my anxiety.  The wind had whipped it out of me, the rain had washed it away and I was free again to cloak myself in civilization... and a hot shower.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Strengthening the Family

So, I've gotten a bit of pushback from various sources about my post here, the primary pushback being that gay marriage can't strengthen families.

This does not make sense to me and no one can really explain to me how it weakens families or weakens marriage.  From my POV, it seems like it can only strengthen both.  A family that previously could not be legally bonded now can.  Seems stronger to me.

What is your opinion?