Block 578: January 15, 2015


Today, I’m nervous. I didn’t sleep last night. Say what you will about the quality of my life here in Portland and how it’s improved since I left New York… but I certainly have more sleepless nights here.

Date: January 15, 2015

Crane: 578

Days Spent on Project: 696

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: Christine S.

Christine was and is the costume shop manager at Paper Mill Playhouse. I met her back in 2011, when we first started to work on Newsies and it’s “out of town” regional theater production.

Christine. I actually really like her and respect the work that she does. She manages a small costume shop (it’s physical space is similar to what I have in Portland) with an assistant shop manager, a draper, a first hand, and a stitcher or two. In theory, we manage similar costume shops. But she, because Paper Mill does such large work, she works with designers to outsource labor and costume builds. For Newsies, we had shoes custom made at one vendor downtown (JC Theatricals), menswear made by one tailor and his shop in the garment district, the women’s clothing made by yet another costume shop, the Newsies outfits made by yet another shop. It’s a large operation, so it’s all about managing time and resources and money and schedules. And she does it all with an intense energy that I’ve really come to admire more, especially now that I’m managing my own shop and see how many things have to be taken into account and planned for…

She would later hire me to work on their next production- White Christmas- that season. The next season, she also hired me to work on their remount of A Chorus Line.

I’m not sure, despite being hired three times, that she would hire me again. In fact, I know she wouldn’t hire me again. I’m pretty certain she didn’t appreciate my work on Chorus Line, because I did bad work admittedly.

I wish I had more of a network left in New York. I wish I had left things better. I wish I could call people and talk about things and life and work and shows and costumes and gossip. I wish I still had some people there that I could reach out to.

Music I listened to while sewing: Let’s turn on the Sleep No More playlist, shall we?

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: So, let’s talk about life… as if I don’t talk about life enough here.

As much as the quality of my life has “improved” with this move to Portland, I’m starting to wonder why I’m having more sleepless nights, why I’m more restless, why I’m increasingly less excited about coming to work every morning, why I feel like nothing I could ever do here would be noticed. As much as moving to Portland was a great opportunity for me last summer, I’m wondering what the point of the move was.

Yes, I feel more comfortable financially. Yes, it’s nice to get a paycheck regularly. Yes, it’s nice to know that a company is going to pay me.



But… I just get the impression that my work, my ability to work hard, my ability to push for a little more, isn’t something that’s wanted here. I know there’s never any recognition for hard work now. I know there’s not really a desire for collaboration here.

If my best is met with a blase, who cares attitude… if my best is met with a “it won’t matter in a month” attitude… if my best is met with passive aggressive resistance, why bother.

I would really like something about Portland to seduce me soon. Yeah, people tell me the food is amazing here and yeah the beer is great here and yeah there’s nature around you, but… I just want something about this here city to catch my eye and excite me.

And, yes, I’m aware that it’s January and it’s grey and bleak, but it is not as grey and bleak as New York can be in January. It’s actually very mild here this winter. So, yes, this is probably the winter doldrums speaking…

But I just want something to get excited about here. And I would like other people to get excited about what we’re doing. We get to do this. We get to make clothes and work on theater and we’re getting paid to do it. Why is it more important to talk about scheduling vacation days and sick days and taking time off and… Why aren’t more people excited that we get to do this here?

We open another show tomorrow. I’m excited. I think I designed it well. But, when everyone around you seems to shrug their shoulders and roll their eyes, why get excited?

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