Block 518: November 13, 2014


Today I experienced my first Portland winter snowstorm.

The temperature dropped dramatically and it started to sleet. For about 10 minutes. And then it melted. And then the city SHUT DOWN.

Welcome to Portland, everyone. It kinda pales in comparison to the Polar Vortex in New York in January, sure…

Date: November 13, 2014

Crane: 518

Days Spent on Project: 633

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: James M.

Back in the late winter/early spring of 2009, BEFORE I got sucked into the world of assisting on Broadway with Fela and Come Fly Away, I designed this student production of Summer and Smoke for the Yale Dramat. Yesterday, I dedicated a crane to the director. He brought me on board for the experience after the original designer had dropped out (she could see the writing on the wall; I needed the money).

I think he and I had different expectations of the project and of the situation. I’ll say that.

James was the lighting designer who was brought on board to design that aspect of the show. I hadn’t met him before; in fact, he was the only person on the production team that I didn’t know. The rest of us had all overlapped at the Yale School of Drama: Lee was the set designer and my good friend Sharath (who now lives in Portland randomly) did the sound.

I liked James and his work and his attitude towards the project. During the quick tech project, in the lobby of the motel that we stayed at outside of New Haven, Sharath and James and I would drink whiskey out of styrofoam cups and talk theater and the experience and life in general.

I believe James, after that production, was hired to teach at a college in Massachusetts, which he’s still doing. He even has two kids now!

All my friends and acquaintances seem to have kids now.

Music I listened to while sewing: Keri Hilson this morning… especially “Pretty Girl Rock.” Her song “Knock You Down” was my anthem during post-breakup-2009.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: I haven’t read this email yet, but my phone showed a message from a friend in New York that was sent in the early morning hours.

The subject line was “It’s so mean here.”

She lives in Brooklyn. She used to design. She now teaches fashion history, and she just finished a six month period in Sweden studying men’s clothing from the 17th Century, thanks to a Fulbright scholarship. I really admire her work, and her understanding of clothing and its evolution and its meanings. I really like that she’s focusing on menswear in particular.

As much as I miss New York, and as much as I do feel a small sense of loneliness and confusion (do I fit in here in Portland? will I stay here long? can I manage to stay here long?), I think it’s important to remember that my last year and a half in New York (pretty much all of 2013 and the first half of 2014) were not spent easily.

I was drowning, subtly.

I don’t think anyone knew how alone and isolated and lost I was there. My workload wasn’t as constant or lucrative or exciting as I thought it should. My prospects, while still there, had taken a dramatic turn in a different direction. If I stayed in New York, I would have had to leave that apartment in Washington Heights. I would have needed to move out of Manhattan and found a roommate. I would have had to find a way to not be alone. I would have had to change.

I think my “independence” was actually turning into an anchor that was sinking me down into an undiagnosed depression. A mild one, sure, but yeah.

And I think I was self-medicating with my loneliness and my paranoia about money. I don’t think I was going to exist there for much longer.

So, while I wax romantic about the New York that I still have in my mind, I need to remember that it’s now tinted with the rosiness of a paycheck that arrives every two weeks and the stability that comes with that and that people expect me here and work with me here and don’t treat me as an expense.

Just a reminder. I guess.

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