Block 820: October 22, 2015


Okay, I did do this one today. I’m back on schedule.

Date: October 22, 2015

Crane: 820

Days Spent on Project: 975

Location: NW Portland, OR

Person I would have sent it to: TBD

Music I listened to while sewing: Still with more Spotify right now… relishing being able to sit in my office and focus on one thing for the moment.

Thoughts/Feelings behind the block: Lots of thoughts today. And I’ll try to be honest as much as I can be, while still remaining work-political and work-vague.

There’s a job opening in Ohio at my undergraduate college; I learned about the vacancy a week ago– strangely through Facebook– and commented on it. A response came from someone there, bluntly saying I should apply.

As I sit here in a dark theater, watching tech rehearsals for this current show we’re about to open this weekend, the large question I have deals with the direction I see my life headed towards. Specifically, do I need to reconsider and evaluate what my goals were and what they should be.

They were– however flighty and/or unrealistic– what I wanted, those goals.

I don’t know what they are anymore. Maybe it’s that I don’t know what I’m doing here.

Whatever my dreams and goals are, I don’t think I’m currently in a place or a situation that’s allowing me to work towards my goals. This schedule, this workload, the unrealistic expectations here… I’m not being allowed to do anything but the work that’s in front of me.
But, if I were to leave Portland and this job for another job, I’m not certain that I would physically be in a better place to pursue my goals. However, I might be in a place that would allow me to pursue part of my dreams. I’d be designing- granted undergraduate, non-professional productions- throughout the year. I’d be teaching. I’ve never done that officially, but I have designed with undergrads and done master classes.
My problem is that I don’t know which path would be a path towards The Idea of what I thought I wanted to do. I know LIfe and Goals and Dreams change. I do. But, I’m not sure I’ve consciously said to myself: There’s something else that I need and want to do.
Yes, if I got the job elsewhere, I would be designing faculty-directed productions and maybe some of their dance concerts. I’d be designing. But, I’d be in a shop that I worked in 15 years ago. I’ve outgrown that shop. The woman who runs that shop is a great person who I cherish knowing, but it is one woman doing everything… Budgets are college-sized (small). I’d be shopping at Jo-anns and Hancocks for fabric. I’d be shopping at strip malls for clothes.
But I’d be teaching! I don’t know if that’s ever been on my radar, but I enjoyed working at the National High School Institute at Northwestern all those years ago… and all the guest designing I did at Providence College, Rutgers, Colby, Colgate, and Brown.
And I did like my college experience. But I was also between the ages of 18 and 22.
AND HERE! Here. Well?
I’m not sure if I’ll ever be asked to design a show here in this theater again. The trend I’m seeing in the costume department is to find someone that they can just use repeatedly… because they don’t know any costume designers or cultivate relationships with other designers. And for some STUPID reason, they aren’t willing to pay for travel and housing for costumes (bringing someone in from New York, for instance) because costume designers truly do need to be physically and mentally present for fittings more than any other designer does. So, they seem to like (I say like because it’s been their past habit) to find someone who will take on the burden of designing several shows a season.
Which is what the last shop manager did. And for some reason, he couldn’t or wouldn’t say, “No this is too much work.” It leads me to believe he WANTED all the glory of designing everything, but he couldn’t handle it, nor could he communicate, nor could he delegate, nor could he confront, etc.
I came to the epiphany last night that this place is in such a precarious place, as far as costumes go, because they’ve only ever (well, for the past 15 seasons) used one guy to design the costumes, but also “manage” the shop on the side. They’ve NEVER had a manager in the shop before. My position, as I see it and do it, is something they’ve never experienced before.
And that may be upsetting them. Because, for the past 15 months, I have been trying to say, “but we need this” or “fittings can only be scheduled during work hours” or “this labor money situation isn’t feasible” or “we have to find fabrics elsewhere” or “we need to make a decision now” or “I need you to stay on schedule” or “I need this person to be present mentally if they’re going to work here.”
I’ve been saying a lot of things that must seem like slaps in face, but someone has to… because no one knows how to work with the costume department at all.
Am I any closer pursuing my dream by being here in Portland?
I don’t know. I don’t now why I’m in Portland, personally. I’m starting to think I came here because I wanted to fix something, I wanted that challenge, but I may not have moved here to become a fixture.
Will I ever get to design again? Will I ever design here? Elsewhere? This may seem arrogant but I will claim that arrogance– I will claim it– but I have LEGIT training and LEGIT experience. It is arrogant, yes, but I’m not a green newcomer to this city.
Will the workload here ever get better? This season is a mess, as far as schedules. I haven’t had a day off since September 26th, and many of the days since then have been 12 to 14 hours long. I didn’t leave NEW YORK CITY to have less free time or control over my personal life and time. Why is my schedule more demanding here in Portland, of all places?
With this schedule, my hopes of figuring out a way to do immersive theater has been forgotten. I’m too tired and overstretched at my day-job in theater. I don’t get to the gym anymore. It’s hard enough to keep on top of this project.
Will the budgets I’m given get any better, instead of being reduced? If they keep pulling back on the money they give me for labor, but expect the same amount of work, what do I do?
Will Portland get any better? Sure, it’s a cool city. But I never get out to see it.
I’m good with the shop, and they like my dog so that’s good.
I wanted to be a designer. I wanted to work as a costume designer. I thought that would mean I’d end up in New York, but I’m not sure that’s possible anymore?
Portland is survivable, but it doesn’t excite me. And I’m not designing or working creatively. So I’m mentally and emotionally and “imaginative-ly” frustrated… and I have been for many months. And I’m so exhausted. As is my dog.
I’m just tired.

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