Block 238: October 25, 2013



Van Gogh’s “Starry Night,” maybe?

Date: October 25, 2013

Crane: 238

Days Spent on Project: 250

Location: Apartment, Washington Heights, NYC

Person I would have sent it to: Helen L.

Helen was another one of the lighting technicians brought in to hang and focus the light plot for each summer’s ten productions at the National High School Institute. I don’t know why, but one of the distinct memories I have of her is that she always rocked a bandana to keep her hair out of her face.

After I left NHSI, she and I had the chance to work together at a different summer stock, but in Wisconsin. It was good to have the old friend there, at that place.

Music I listened to while sewing: I’m listening to my “Chill Out” Playlist this morning.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I found these two quotes yesterday; given that I had the chance to finish one production early, it seemed really appropriate.

Quote Number One is strangely from one of The American Girl books. Don’t laugh.

“The difference between an artist and someone who is just artistic is that an artist FINISHES things.”

It struck me for a variety of reasons. First of all, I’ve set out quite a task with this project. I’m only 238 blocks deep into it right now; in a minimum of 762 days, I could be finished with the very FIRST PART OF THE PROJECT. I still have to figure out how I want to piece it all together. I then have to stitch all the pieces together. Then I have to quilt it. Then I have to bind it. I’ll be doing this for years. Am I just being creative right now? Or will I have the tenacity to finish this?

And will it be finished when I stitch the last bit of binding on it? Or will something else need to happen? Where will it go? If it gets put in storage and no one sees it, did it happen at all?

Quote Number Two is usually attributed to Lorne Michaels, according to Tina Fey and Seth Meyers.

“Sometimes you stop writing because it’s 11:30. Meaning it will never be perfect, it will never please everyone, but at some point you have to let go and release your creation into the world and let it be judged and stand by it proudly. And not always because it’s exactly right. Sometimes it’s just 11:30.”

It’s relevant considering the show I just finished… a few days earlier than expected. The company was more than willing to let me return home and get back to my life in New York, which I was thankful for. However, as I was killing time before heading to the train station yesterday, I kept tweaking little details on costumes. “Can we switch out this suit button so it looks like it’s been replaced badly?” Can we scuff the sleeves on this jacket?” “Can we distress these shoes?” “Can we give him sock garters?” “Wouldn’t it be better if those trousers were more of a purple-brown than an orange-brown?”

The shop manager herself, jokingly, told me to stop. I did. I knew I was just gilding lilies at that point. My work was done. It had been done. It was more than passable for the production, and no amount of tweaking, on my end, would change the show’s overall quality.

Yes, it’s great to obsess over the details and fuss over things. It makes us feel artistic and creative and engaged and self-important when we worry about our craft. Sure, the devil’s in the details, right?

But, I’m learning to accept (well, I’m learning to hope) that there will be another opportunity around the corner that will allow me to build on the work I’ve done previously. Yes, it would have been great to have done those remaining, very minor notes on The Good Doctor… but will anyone really notice? It was good enough. It wasn’t perfect. It looks good for being rented from a variety of sources and pulled together in under three weeks.

Wednesday evening, I decided to call it 11:30 with that production and walk away. Thursday morning, I did. And today, Friday morning, I’m getting ready to work on something else.

Learn when to walk away.

On a side note, my dog is super excited to be back home. He’s been very clingy since yesterday evening and has practically glued himself to me.

I’m glad I came home.


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