I woke up, wide awake, at 3am. My mind was racing with all the possibilities that could happen.
If I make them.
Date: May 12, 2015
Days Spent on Project: 812
Location: NW Portland, OR
Person I would have sent it to: I was asked to design two dance pieces for Rutgers University in the fall of 2013, and the second choreographer was someone that I should have known.
I guess. I should have.
Doug E. was the second choreographer I was asked to design for that semester. His piece- I wish I remembered more about it- combined an amazing remix of a Missy E song along with some other music. Watching the piece, at its final dress and tech rehearsal, was great. It was full of straight-on attitude, and it played well with the kids on stage, their talents and strengths, and who they were (undergraduate dance students). Trying to be cost-effective (remember, whatever I didn’t spend was my “payment” for the design work), I shopped the piece at Kmart and Rainbow… where all the clothes were $3.99-$9.99.
Even though it seemed like very minimal effort (I bought bags and bags of clothes, and “guided” the dancers through choosing what they felt most comfortable wearing), I thought it turned out good. In the end, if I had the money and the time, of course I could have popped the colors more and made the silhouettes more street or “clubby,” but it worked for what it was.
It must have worked, because I was asked the next semester to come back and work with Doug again. By that time, I had already committed myself to flying out to LA for over two weeks to work on The California Project, and my plane left the morning of the dance concert’s one tech rehearsal. I spoke to Doug about this; he seemed fine with it as he had several videos for me to watch that inspired him about the look. Based on the previous experience, I found myself excited to work on something a little more “planned.”
I went out, again shopping for bags and bags of clothes, that were the silhouette ideas I had for everyone. I had a day of fittings during one of their rehearsals, and things seemed to go well.
But, the weird thing? I never saw the piece. That afternoon, at fittings, it was a series of phrases. When I came back a few weeks later, it was still just that. I dropped off the clothes, asked that people rehearse in them for the afternoon, and waited to see the piece.
I never did. I waited until I needed to leave to make my my train back to New York. I never heard anything more about it after that.
Strangely, on that train ride back, I got an email from the manager at City Quilter, saying that someone had anonymously made a donation for this project. That was heart-swelling.
And then I was in LA less than 24 hours later. And a roller coaster started.
Music I listened to while sewing: Mozart’s The Magic Flute today!
Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Like I said above, I didn’t sleep well last night. I was up by 3am, after having read The Creative Habit until 11pm. I decided- since my mind was spinning- that I might as well finish it.
And it’s great. I really can’t point to any one part of it that rings true, but it felt somehow that book was giving me permission to Do The Work.
And I thought about it, at 4am, 5am, whenever; let’s be honest: I am a failure for having left New York City as I did last summer.
That sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
But think about it. My goal, at 23 was to go to grad school (Yay Yale!) and use that as a springboard to move to New York City and then get jobs and work there and work regionally and somehow make it all work. That was the plan. I set out to accomplish that.
Fast forward a few dozen years to my life bouncing around in New York. I was working, sure. I was still involved in theater, yep. I was living in New York, sorta. For all intents and purposes however, I wasn’t living. I would go out as little as I could (save money!), I wasn’t consistently working on shows that I felt excited by, I was broke, and actually I couldn’t see much farther than the next time I needed to pay a bill. So I was presented with a choice, I made one, I applied, I accepted, and I took a chance.
It seems like I needed to fess up. I needed that moment of clarity: this isn’t living, nor is this the life I want, nor is this a life that is helping me. I was, in ways, hurting myself and limiting myself by choosing to hold onto this IDEA that New York and I were partnered for life.
One of the first times I was out in Portland, I told a friend (who has lived here for 4 years) that New York had become that abusive boyfriend that had destroyed my confidence in myself. It had clouded my judgement. I was happy when he wanted me to be happy, but he could sure as hell make me miserable as often as he wanted.
So I failed in my goal that I set at 23, in 2002.
But, screw it. Whatever. Okay.
And it shouldn’t be about me saying: “Well, New York had started to fail ME.”
Own up to it. Somewhere, somehow, for whatever reason this isn’t working. It’s time for me to see that, admit that, and do something to stop failing.
So I’m here in Portland now. I’m not sure I’ll be here forever or for long, but I’m here now. Change happened. The goal “to work in theater” needs to be adapted or clarified.
Because I’ve changed. I didn’t break out of some cocoon, spread my wings, and show the world that I’m a newborn butterfly. No, I’m still me- the same old me- I’m learning to own this path and not see it as the end. It’s something new. Something newer will come along.
So what if I’m not in New York designing anymore? So what if I never do? So what if I never do again?
The given circumstances have changed in this play, and it’s time for me to keep working towards the goal I set.
The tactics didn’t work. Try something else. Specify what it is that you want and what you are meant to do.
I may have failed in some regards, but I wasn’t defeated. Portland, if anything, has allowed me to see that.