Block 170: August 13, 2013



A rainy Tuesday morning here in New York. I managed to get the dog outside before it really hit; he’s thankful for that.

Meanwhile, I think it’s going to be a Venti Starbucks Coffee kind of day…

Caffeine, please!

Date: August 13, 2013

Crane: 170

Days Spent on Project: 177

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: If Professor Pisano (yesterday’s Crane) first taught me the very basics of what costume design is, then Debe C, taught me how to enjoy costumes.

Debe was the costume shop manager for the Kenyon College Drama Department, which meant she had the thankless task of realizing the professor’s designs for three faculty directed shows and two faculty choreographed dance concerts. She would also help “assist” students who needed to pull costumes for student thesis productions and oversee work-study students.

She would also put up with students like me, and several of my friends, who decided that the costume shop was going to be the place they hung out at almost daily for their Kenyon careers.

I first met Debe when she helped Professor Pisano with the designs for a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that I was cast in my first year. I was Francis Flute/Thisbe, and Debe built me a dress for the part. It was a fun way to get introduced to her…

My second year, when I was asked by a friend to design a dance piece, I had the good fortune of working with Debe for the first time. She took her time, being incredibly patient, and worked with me on what I wanted. She looked at the sketch, offered advice on fabrics that would give me the movement quality that I wanted, and then VERY patiently talked me through how *I* wanted the two costumes built. Yes, I had drawn the sketch. Yes, I had thoughts about what it should be, look like, move like, etc. But I had NO IDEA HOW it should be put together.

Now, there are two schools of thought on that: some designers believe it isn’t there job to know how a garment is built or should be built. Then, there are those who take an interest in that and have very specific ideas of how a costume needs to be pieced together. I won’t say if one side is right or not… but I do have my opinions.

Debe was the first person who taught me that it’s helpful to think about seam placement and how important it is to use them to get a garment to behave correctly. Not that we always made choices that I would now consider “correct;” I now think back on some of my fabric choices and sewing projects and final outfits and have to bite my tongue. But each time I worked with her, I learned from the work we did. And that really is the best thing, isn’t it?

Having the opportunity to realize a sketch, whether it’s your design or not, seeing it to completion, and then piecing together if it is successful or not. And sometimes NOT getting it right is the best thing. Especially in college. Especially there.

Debe was my college mom. I’m incredibly thankful to have spent four years working with her and learning from her and talking to her. I’ve had several design teachers (both in the literal and figurative sense), and she will remain the one of the top people to have influenced and directed me.

I’m in awe of the work she did, the personalities she put up with, and the schedule. I’ve worked in several university and college costume shops in my career, and I’m always humbled by these people who sign up for that job. Managing a shop, having the expectation to do your best work possible with limited means and support and time, and then working with students… it’s a lot. When the right person has that job, it’s a great thing.

I’m so glad Debe had, and still does, have that job. I hope she feels the same.

Music I listened to while sewing: Yesterday, Lady Gaga’s new single from her upcoming album ARTPOP was leaked and subsequently released. I probably spent hours listening to it. I do like it.

So, today, I’m listening to my Chill Out playlist… just to calm back down.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: You know what?

Life sometimes sucks. Life is actually hard. Life is not always enjoyable.


And, we all have our reasons why that’s truth. We just do. Maybe it’s money. It could be your health. It could be dealing with a relationship, however personal or intimate. Perhaps it’s work.

But, I just need to remind myself that, despite the negative things that happen in life or the negative things my mind insists are true, it’s very possible that things will work out. Things might actually be okay in the long run.

I’m not trying to belittle the struggles that I have, or that you might be dealing with, and I am aware that some things are insanely upsetting and inconsolable…

Things like death… A terminal Illness… Physical abuse or violence…

But, really, I’m trying to tell myself that- regardless of how it may look- things will be okay. It might not be the okay you want or thought about or dreamed of or hoped for or need. But things will resolve themselves.

And however they work out… however that proverbial cookie crumbles… it’s up to us to work towards the best resolution possible.

Again, not to belittle anything. But let’s not be weak. We can be strong. Sometimes strength is a cry or asking for a hug or needing to talk or getting help. Sometimes weakness is stoicism, you know?

I hope you’re all okay. There are people out there that do wish you well. We’re not as alone as we think.

Let’s keep moving.


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