Block 634: April 18, 2015


Saturday. Thankfully Saturday.

Date: April 18, 2015

Crane: 634

Days Spent on Project: 788

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: Pete The Dog Walker!

When I moved to Washington Heights in the fall of 2012, right after Hurricane Sandy halted a lot of New York, I needed to find a dog walker/sitter for my dog quickly… so I could work with Providence College in Rhode Island. The first person I found was convenient; only a few blocks away from my apartment, and always available and willing to take my dog in for a day or two.

But, the more I used him, the more I thought my dog might not be happy there. Rick B., one day at the dog park, mentioned that he was starting to have a new guy take Spencer off his hands when his theater work kept him downtown. His name was Pete. I always called him Pete The Dog Walker. I never asked for his last name.

I started to use him when I took my second show at Providence College, in the Fall of 2013.

My dog LOVED him. And I felt so much better leaving him there or having him walked during the day because of it.

One time, when he and I randomly bumped into each other on the street with our respective dogs (well, he had a herd that he was walking), I mentioned off-hand how I was incredibly worried that “something” was in the air that was weighing my life and my career down. I thought things had soured in New York when I moved to Washington Heights- my career, my friendships, my dating life. I don’t know how we started talking about that, or why.

But the next time I saw him walking dogs in the neighborhood, he gave me a bunch of Sage with the advice to burn it in my apartment. I never did for fear of setting off my overly sensitive fire alarms, but I kept that bunch of sage on the surface of my work desk so I was always aware of it.

I liked Pete. My dog liked Pete. Dogs, in general, liked him.

I should mention that I don’t *really* think my life ended by moving to Washington Heights. Yes, a lot of bad juju happened with being fired from one show and then the sour relationships on two other shows that happened back-to-back, but I don’t think Washington Heights was the cause of it.

I think, looking back, my life– or something– was prepping me to leave because I had other things to do with my life. And I’m starting to think that it may not be related to costume design or design in general. It will be related to theater, but not like I typically think of it as a vocation.

Music I listened to while sewing: Madonna. All day today! I’ve rediscovered American Life, which was released in the spring of 2003, right when my life was starting a roller coaster of its own. I was in my last season and final weeks of living in Louisville and working at Actors Theatre of Louisville.

Life was so simple then!

I had survived one season on my own in that shop, without all the friends I had made the previous year. I had been accepted into the Yale School of Drama. I was about to go back to Chicago for my fourth season at the National High School Institute. Things seemed like they were starting. I felt like I was going somewhere (The East Coast!). I felt like my world was about to crack itself open, as awesome and terrifying as that simultaneously was.

I bought this album at Ear Ecstasy on Bardstown Road. It was already in the discount bin, and I was excited/surprised to see it there.

I think Ear Ecstasy has since closed, which sucks.

A friend and I were talking about this album a few months back. I see it as a definite shift in Madonna’s career, and a final paragraph in a chapter of her musical output. The Madonna “Renaissance” that was started with Ray of Light and continued with Music ended, in my opinion with this album. Yes, I don’t think the Music on AL is as exciting as RoL or Music, but I think it was still full of new directions and challenges thrown at the listeners. And I think, weirdly in the post 2001 American Landscape, a lot of the listeners didn’t want to hear the sentiments behind it. I think we, the listeners didn’t latch onto it.

In my (uninformed) opinion, the music that followed American Life was a call back to easier music, music that was more easily digested, music that didn’t open ears like those two albums.

I don’t know. Perhaps it’s that my own life was about to flip upside down and implode into another being, but I always identify this album as a turning point, a change, an end to something.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Last night, I went out with three friends for dinner and drinks to celebrate a birthday. That group is quickly turning into my group, the people I text about work, about life, about Portland. I hope that I can solidify that growing connection into something more concrete and reliable. Yes, they’re people I know from work… so I know with that social connection comes the added baggage of us all having to deal with each other in a work environment.

I tell myself that because we don’t work in the same department, maybe we’ll be immune to work conflict. I believe they see this work, that building, and that environment for what it is. It’s work. I hope I can make that gel into something.

This morning, I went to Ikea with one of those people to help pick up furniture for a new apartment. This meant I took a bus and then the TriMet out to the Ikea, which was MY FIRST TIME ON THE PORTLAND PUBLIC TRANSIT. We’ll see if I can master more of it. I need to figure out a way to understand this city, and take my life back from work.

At Ikea, one of my favorite places, I had a mental list of the things I want for my apartment to help make it feel like my home, instead of a temporary living situation: bookcases to get my books off the floor, a rug or two, a chair so I don’t have to sit on the floor, a coffee table so I don’t have to eat whilst sitting on the floor, maybe some organizational stuff to get my quilting fabrics off the floor. I wanted to buy it. I think I have the money to spend on it right now. But I didn’t.

My friend asked why I went through the entire store without picking anything up.

My response was more honest than I intended: “I think my supervisor is looking for a way to fire me this summer.”

I’m afraid. While this hasn’t been the easiest, or most exciting transition or season or work or city or year, I do tell myself every morning that there is SOME possibility in this city. It’s opening up to me, slowly. And I’m figuring out how to be comfortable here. I’m figuring out how to feel about my job (this work is just my job, it will never and should never be my creative outlet). I’m figuring out how I should take advantage of having a full-time and salaried job. I’m figuring out how to enjoy a paycheck. I’m figuring out how to discard that freelance fear that weighed on my heavily in New York. I might not find my future here, but I can certainly enjoy the time I have here and use it to my advantage.

However, because work is the way it is and because of the situations and people involved, I’m daily walking into the building with the fear that my supervisor is setting traps for me to dodge.

I talked about leadership yesterday. Go figure that.

If it does come to that, I know it will be for something *small* and it ultimately won’t be about me. When I was fired from Soul Doctor as it stumbled to Broadway, I guess I did learn something valuable: it wasn’t me, it was them.

And, if it happens here, it’s not me. It’s them.

So, I didn’t invest in Ikea furniture today because I have a small nagging fear that my days might be numbered in Portland. But I haven’t done anything wrong. I haven’t. It might be because I haven’t done anything *wrong* that I’m in trouble. I don’t know. I walked into a situation I didn’t know about last summer.

I know I spoke about re-directing a ship, the Titanic, when I walked into the Costume Shop last summer. I guess I didn’t know how accurate I was when I thought those words.

I want to redirect the ship. I want to improve myself and my career.

I also want to fulfill myself creatively, and I know that WON’T happen at work.

Regardless, I had a good Saturday. I like the idea of weekends. I didn’t really understand that in New York.

My dog, meanwhile, is snoring next to one of his stuffed animals on a pillow near me.

Saturday was pretty good. Even if I didn’t buy any Billy bookcases.

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