On Loving My Business and Loving My Baby.

Just over a month ago, I attended my first USITT (United States Institute for Theater Technology) conference. I was delighted and honored to be a mentor for a wonderful and talented young woman as part of the Gateway Program (http://www.usitt.org/gateway/) , and humbled when I was asked to speak on a panel of Women in Technical Theater. It was also my first time away from my toddler. I was very brave.

Speaking on the panel gave me an opportunity to address a number of things that I don't necessarily deal with on a day to day basis. One moment I was laughing, and the next I was on the verge of tears... I felt empowered, and vulnerable, and supported, and very contemplative all at once. 

 That's me in the white.... The other 5 women are remarkable humans, and I was honored to be among them.

That's me in the white.... The other 5 women are remarkable humans, and I was honored to be among them.

When I left New York, I left in a frenzy. I was 6 months pregnant. The decision to move was a direct result, and a choice I felt I had to make for the future of my family. I did not feel like it was my time to go. Though I had always wanted to have a family, leaving New York meant leaving the theater community I loved, a city that had become part of my vitality, and Paper Mache Monkey, my first baby, the company that I helped build.

My business partner and I had discussions... I could just bring the baby to work..... Could we change our meeting/drafting room in to a baby area? Why not.... It is OUR company. Though a novel idea, we had opened a shop. We cut wood. We built puppets. We painted sets. We made messes. Our shop was full of tools to make those messes: saws, paints, adhesives, and sharp knives. Bringing a baby to work would mean tiny ear muffs and I wasn't even sure if they made respirators for baby sized faces... Clearly my tiny human would not be safe in our our beloved studio.

 Typical mess. Clearly not baby proof. (For those interested, I was painting wonderflex armor to look like the plague for a production of Measure for Measure produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival.)

Typical mess. Clearly not baby proof. (For those interested, I was painting wonderflex armor to look like the plague for a production of Measure for Measure produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival.)

Then, I started thinking about money. I was considering finances from both a personal perspective, and from a business perspective. Though our company was relatively successful for being in its 3rd year, we were not in a position to pay for maternity leave.  And, though Loren (my fiance) would have gladly done it (because he is the sweetest human ever), I could not in good conscience ask him to try to support himself, me, and a child in one of the most expensive cities in the world. I would have never seen him. He would have never seen his child. It was out of the question. All of a sudden, that $1700 a month, 4th floor walk-up, one bedroom apartment in Astoria seemed rather self-indulgent. Not to mention our careers in theater.

So, in anticipation of our new family, with slightly broken hearts and a glimmer of hope, Loren and I made the decision to move to my home state of Oklahoma. I had family there, and we heard there were backyards (we agreed very early on that children deserve backyards). Surely we could find jobs.

Thankfully, Loren found a job right away, and after Henry was born, I too found a job.... I now spend my days teaching future theater makers at the University of OkIahoma, my alma mater. I enjoy the students energy, and can only hope that I am helping to steer them in the right direction. I am about to finish my 2nd year, and I have learned that college is a time for growth whether you are a student or a professor, particularly when you are a new mother.

I love being a mother. I love my child. He is a delightful human, and he fills my heart with joy. We paint and play and laugh and learn together, and that is very cool.... but it's not everything (I almost typed everything). Loving Henry so much does not make me miss my company or my career; which I was incredibly passionate about and proud of, any less. That love doesn't make me miss the hustle, the business, or the energy of New York any less. I naively assumed that when Henry was born his presence would somehow fill the hole in my heart where Paper Mache Monkey once was. Turns out, that's a lot of responsibility to put on a person just entering the world.

Henry instead created his own (humongous) space in my heart. It is a wonderful, glowing, thriving space, and it does me the favor of overshadowing the love for my little company most of time. For that, I will be forever grateful... In the mean time, I am looking forward to nurturing the life I have made for myself, embracing the choices I have made, discovering new passions, and finding ways to satisfy my endless urge to create something new.

I think I am going to start by painting mountains and trees on Henry's wall.

Henry thought I would look really awesome with a colander on my head... he was right.







New house, new hair, and everything in between

Here's the thing... I am not sure if I have chosen a horrible time in my life to start this blog, or a brilliant one. I have a lot of balls in the air. Last Thursday, we closed on a house. Our house! House closing is HUGE. Then, I went to work where I let college students (after a successful fundraiser) choose my future hair color by throwing darts. I think it was Tom Cruise in "Risky Business" that said, "Sometimes you gotta say, 'What the Fuck.'"  (Pardon my French. And Tom's French too.)

So this week, in addition to spending 6 hours turning my hair from reddish-copperish-brown to blueish-greenish-teal, we began moving in to our new home. I day-dreamed and planned murals for Henry's room and scrutinized shower curtains. I cleaned appliances and sifted through paint samples. At school, I graded Stagecraft tests, reviewed knot tying with my class, and taught a lecture on building platforms. Then, with the hands of several students, button tufted a rather large pouffe for our production of, " Thoroughly Modern Millie."

I started writing several different posts about the home buying process and my experience moving from one place to another in both Oklahoma and New York, and scrapped them. I considered writing a post about the entirety of the hair dying process, but realized since I hardly had the patience to sit that long, I couldn't expect you to have the patience to read about it. And, I seriously considered taking you through the step by step process of building and button tufting a pouffe. (For those of you who do not know what a pouffe is, it is basically a large firm cushion used as a seat, or a low, soft, backless couch. Our lovely Millie needed somewhere to drape herself and sing.)

Clearly, I did not succeed with any of those posts. And now, it is Friday. I am sitting on my couch in my new home. My son is asleep with his legs draped across my lap, our show opens this evening, and my hair (as of Wednesday) is teal. One of my students called me a " Mermaid Queen," and Henry seems to have a newly found joy petting my head. I am staring at walls that are hungry for decoration, and anticipating the heart -filled moments and projects that lie ahead. Things could be worse.

 Thanks to Alessa at The Velvet Monkey Too for making my students hair color dreams happen.

Thanks to Alessa at The Velvet Monkey Too for making my students hair color dreams happen.






An introduction...

I have been reading a lot of advice on what it takes to have a successful blog. As part of this introduction, I would like you to know that I am probably going to forgo most of that advice, stumble through some awkward posts in the beginning, find my own path, and eventually come up with something that about 10 people are interested in reading... and I'm okay with that.

One of the main things I read was to choose a theme.  Personally when I think of themes, I am immediately flooded with images of cowboys from 1930's western films and "Under the Sea" dances. Though excellent visuals, this was not exactly what was meant by "choose a theme," nor what I want to focus my energy on for the unforeseeable future. The task at hand was to hone in and give direction.....   What interests me? What am I going to be interested in enough to keep other people interested? What am I inspired by? What's my favorite adhesive? (answer: depending on the project,  either magna tac, gorilla glue, or industrial carpet tape)

What I realized is that these questions spark many different answers that often vary from one day to the next. So, I've decided that my myriad of answers is the thing might keep these posts interesting (at least from my perspective).

That being said, here is a completely random list of things I find interesting, things I enjoy doing, happenings in my life, movies that I watch on repeat, and general topics that might appear in the content of this blog.

  • We're buying our first home at the end of the month.  I am looking forward to painting walls, building and planting a garden, and putting together a craft room (from the perspective of a theatrical prop master, there is no telling what might that might entail).
  • I am currently teaching Stagecraft, History of Decor, and Advanced Props.... don't be surprised if you see some how to's.... right now I am teaching the joys of thermoplastics. Wonderflex is my favorite.
  • I have a toddler. I chase him around. A lot. When he is sleeping, I try to do mini-projects. These projects might include turning him in to a super hero while he sleeps on the floor (See "the Kiddo" page), painting baby carriers for Syrian refugees (See Crafts page), or repairing the pair of pants that I have been wearing for nearly 6 months straight (See Blue7 Clean Start Program).
  • After living in New York for 8 years, working primarily as a freelance prop master, and opening my own business, I moved to my home state, had a baby, and became an adjunct theater professor. (My head is still spinning.)
  • I have trouble committing to television shows. I generally prefer movies, though since the kiddo was born, I don't get to see many new ones... I love a film that is aesthetically beautiful or quirky- The Fantastic Mr. Fox & Moonrise Kingdom (thank you, Wes Anderson), The Science of Sleep, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Amelie.... and if they happen to show up on television, I can't turn down Pretty in Pink or Dirty Dancing. Clearly, I am an 80's baby.
  • Favorite books include, "The Time Travelers Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger, "Just Kids" by Patti Smith, and "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime" by Mark Haddon. They don't suck. (I also believe in the oxford comma.)

That's all I've got for now. There will be more. Maybe on Fridays.

  • Oh! Sometimes I draw monsters.... See, I told you there would be more.