Block 446: May 27, 2014


Remember that first week I was in Arkansas, and how it was so cold I wore a coat, a sweatshirt, and a scarf most days?

Yeah, well: summer’s here!

Date: May 27, 2014

Crane: 446

Days Spent on Project: 464

Location: Conway, Arkansas

Person I would have sent it to: Where do I go after yesterday’s Crane? Do I do some Cranes about the fallout of that relationship, or do I go back to my life in order?

Hm. Well, after I met Jimmy in December of 2007, I got a bit distracted. It certainly wasn’t a bad thing, of course. I suddenly had someone in New York City that I wanted to spend time with and, being freelance, I could certainly shape my schedule around hanging out or going out or exploring.

It’s still true when I say that I learned and saw so much more of New York when I was in that relationship than in the year and a half before when it was just me, putzing around. I was incredibly focused on my “career” as a costume designer that I didn’t take advantage of the great things New York had to offer. All of the sudden, I was going on dates and exploring places I hadn’t ever thought to and spending time just enjoying city life. It was great.

But, conversely, because of that, I also was not focused so much on my freelance career and, when you freelance, life is all about hustling. I sometimes wonder if that 14-15 month period is when my career started to fall apart.

I was set in the first several months of that relationship. I was back at the Brown/Trinity Rep Consortium. I had some work lined up. I believed that work would keep coming in.

My next job was a big one. It would actually change my life. That sounds a bit hyperbolic, but between the summer of 2008 and the fall of 2009, everything about my existence in New York would shift dramatically.

Marina D., emailed me one day to ask if I had some time in the summer to assist her on the designs for an off-Broadway production. It was called Fela!; they had had a workshop the year before, and it now had the funding to move into a more realized show.

I met her at a Starbucks near Columbia. I brought my resume. I work my dark Uniqlo jeans, a dark tshirt, and a brown sport coat from H&M. I got a job.

I would assist her on Fela! until October of that year, meaning I had steady work for almost 5 months. I was getting a weekly paycheck. I was making money. Things got so much easier for me, and this did really affect that relationship I was starting. I felt stable. I felt like I could relax into it. (Not to say I was an easy person to date; I wasn’t then at all.)

Fela! would later transfer to Broadway. The next summer I was in a similar situation, working on the show for 5-6 months. I got into the Design Union so I could work as a Union Assistant. I was able to leave my neighborhood in Brooklyn, leaving the 50 minute commute into Manhattan behind. I moved to the Upper East Side… probably only because it had been the neighborhood Jimmy and I hung out the most in. It felt comfortable then, and that’s what I needed in 2009.

Fela! would later go on to win the Tony for best costumes for a musical. I got three more Broadway jobs based on that one show.

Fela!, being a Broadway show, was paying me nicely. Again, I was comfortable. But, by 2009, my dating life was broken and I felt lost and alone. I started to save as much money as I could.

Because of Fela!, I was able to adopt my French Bulldog.

Is it weird to say that this musical gave me one of the best things in my life?

So, Crane 446 has to be dedicated to the Broadway, and the off-Broadway production and the production we remounted for the Royal National Theatre in London and then the production we cobbled together for the first national tour. That show was a big deal.

Those kind of shows don’t happen very often. I’m glad to have had that experience.

Music I listened to while sewing: Since coming to Arkansas (officially 15 days here!), I’ve been listening to a lot of house/dance music, and this morning is no different.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Was super productive yesterday.

Not having access to a car here, and not having access to a market or a deli or a coffee shop or a fast food place or a map of where things are or anything helpful, I cannot tell you how exciting it was to get driven to the grocery store so that I could buy food. I spent yesterday being gluttonous and snacking on everything that I bought.

I was also able to get out to a university’s track, so I ran about 4.5 miles.

The theme for this Arkansas production, as decided by all of us designers, is that we’re “cautiously optimistic while managing our expectations.” We’re putting our best faces forward! We’re doing what we can!

Only 16 more days here.

Not that I’m keeping track or anything.


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