Job Opportunities and Future Creative Endeavors

I have a job offer that I am accepting. It starts in a couple of weeks. I’ll be the one working full-time again, while my husband will continue his part-time position he found for a few months at least to replenish our savings a bit and continue freelancing from home while watching the baby. And we’ll see how things go.

As it seems to matter less now that I keep these two sides of my lives separate, I will discuss my former job and my future job. I was working as a theatrical costume designer and costume shop manager at a local theater before I was let go after getting sick and being unable to complete the costumes before a show opened. Costume design is what I have my training in, and it’s something I really enjoy doing when I am working with people that are good to work with. But the entertainment industry is one that is really easy to be taken advantage in, to burn out, to deal with all kinds of crazy personalities, and to drive yourself into the ground. If you want to check out my work (and learn my real identity – ooo) you can see my portfolio page here. I need to update my Bio page eventually, as all I did was remove the section about where I had been working, but I’m in no rush to do that yet. I also have a tumblr blog where I occasionally post pics of me wearing vintage and repro vintage outfits as a kind of soft-marketing for the custom work I do here.

My new job is going to be doing bridal and formal gown alterations and helping to grow a second shop to it’s full potential. I’ll be making the same rate of money, even bringing in a little more possibly, and I’ll get to work from home part of the time. And the hours, while possibly getting crazy during prom season, won’t be anywhere near what I was putting in every time we led up to a show opening at the theater.

So, pluses are my family and I get to live at the same level of comfort we were at before, maybe even better because we will be able to start building our savings up again. I’ve worked with this woman and in this shop as a freelancer several years ago when I was freelancing show by show at the theater as well, so we have a relationship and I really admire her. I’ll get to help people feel beautiful and confident on their big days, and I’ll still get to be creative in making the bustles of gowns (which I actually love doing) and some custom work as it comes up. I’ll have more time with my family and more energy to put into my own creative work. And I’ll get to surround myself by pretty fabrics and dresses almost every day.

Cons are that after working in theater, almost everything else feels boring by comparison. There are so many little problems that need solving, so much fly-by-the-seat decisions that need to be made, that it is difficult to move at a slower pace. This is why I’ve said in the past that I have two speeds – 100 mph or not moving at all because I overworked myself. So maybe this is actually a plus, because I’ll be forced to modify my way of doing things. Anyway, the other con is that costume design is this blend of everything I enjoy doing – reading and analyzing scripts, historical research, psychoanalyzing characters, inputting all of that in my brain and sketching out ideas, collaborating with the scenic and lighting designers to best realize a director’s vision, occasionally doing fancy renderings, having to read actors to get them to want to wear what I want them to, and then buying/sewing/renting the costumes and making sure they all fit nicely and the actors can move in them the way they need to move. All while on severe budget and time constraints. Doing alterations won’t engage me in the same way. Again, possibly a plus because it will leave me room in my brain for my own projects to be bubbling away, and it will also allow me to focus on my further growth as a human being, allowing me to listen to podcasts and lectures while I work and to just daydream a bit more than I’ve had the opportunity to do in recent years. Another con is that some of my work at the theater was put into helping in our local school district, occasionally going in and working with very poor, at-risk students. We would also pull some of those students into shows we were doing sometimes. Now I won’t have that direct interaction in the community that I felt was really valuable, so I have to find a way to add that back in again somehow.

All this leaves me with having to decide where to put my few hours a week of creative energy. If our positions had flip-flopped and I was the one freelancing from home, I would have tried to build up my sewing business, doing alterations, yes, but also coming up with some kind of line. I could have made a lot of money off of vintage-inspired kids clothes but probably would have quickly gotten bored with it too (cutting the same thing over and over isn’t exciting), and I’ve been leaning toward creating a custom corset and costume line since grad school and have so many ideas for it. But I don’t know if I’ll feel like sewing a lot more after sewing so much during the week, and it feels silly with the world being where it is to put a lot of energy into corset making. I also have two big commissions for the year all ready lined up which will take a lot of time. So I may still dabble at creating a line of things to sell, combining pieces I’ve already made with new pieces, but I doubt that I’ll be motivated to move very fast on that end. So I’d like to focus more on work under this name, as I move to fully unblock myself. I’ve been loving painting this abstract, and may do a couple of more before tackling those bigger pieces I’ve been putting off for years. The writing… I have to see what will happen with that. I have enough poems to probably put together another collection, and I’ll have the time now in theory to try to get out to some poetry readings. The fiction is difficult. I read through some old story ideas and I am really interested in a lot of them, but with reality being so much like fiction these days, I’m having a really hard time wanting to delve into it. I’m not going to push myself too hard on that front, because I can’t force myself, but I will write something every week. And music – I’m building myself up on that front too. I probably won’t try to start pushing myself more until the baby is a little older and weaned, but I want to have that in my life again. Maybe I’ll combine the writing and the music and start writing my own songs again as a means to get back into writing. I don’t know. It’s all kind of up in the air right now. I need to continue to give myself permission to play, and I am trusting that it will sort itself out.

So that’s where I’m at. We’re going to have a rough transition into me being out of the house as the baby definitely likes me better than daddy at this point, and I’m sad that I can’t be a happy housewife for a while longer. But it will be good. I am glad that we’re going to survive this bump, and I feel like I got a nice little 2.5 month extra maternity leave and the chance to fully heal, which is more than so many people get. And I’m also proud that my work ethic stands on so firm a footing that upon posting that I got fired from my job, I was made a job offer with no questions as to why I was fired (we did discuss it later on). This is also the second time that someone wants me so badly that they are creating a position in order to have me. Having me available is the impetus toward someone else pushing forward in an endeavor, and that feels really great.

“Your Job is So Cool!”

I am both blessed and cursed by the ability to step back from situations and see things from every angle. Blessed because it makes my ability to understand and work with other people very easy and cursed because it can give fodder to my inner critic.  The evening the Paris attacks began and the other terrible events worldwide were brought to my attention in succession, I had to continue working on a very sparkly fairy tale commission because otherwise I wouldn’t be able to deliver on time. And it fully struck me how really ridiculous my job is, both my day job and most of the commission work I do. Incredibly frivolous. In the daily disasters occurring in the world, the discussions and problem-solving and creating that I am doing is fluff. I should be devoting my energy instead toward actually helping people or at the very least toward more meaningful art.

In that frame of mind, I left for a fast work trip to NYC. I was helping the lead on our next project pull it off under very tight time constraints. I managed to squeeze in seeing a Broadway show (Hand to God – very funny) and as I walked through Times Square with my local friend, two NYC officers stood in a 4’x4′ barricade each holding an automatic rifle at ready, scanning the crowd. My friend didn’t even notice them as we walked by. Very few did. And that alarms me more than the officers standing there on guard. So that thought also was on my mind as I worked.

Back home, the lead and I frantically scrambled to get things ready Wednesday, running out and buying certain needed items as part of our prep work, and the ball of stress and tension and minor annoyances just built and built. Finally, while in one of the stores, someone stopped and asked what I was doing/working on, and I told him, and he responded with “your job is so cool! that’s really cool!”. In that moment, feeling sweaty and disheveled and annoyed and guilty for being all of that in such a frivolous field, I didn’t feel very ‘cool’. I thanked him and smiled though, and then commiserated with the  lead about how people have no idea what the job actually has to deal with and the amount of work involved. Wah wah wah.

But upon reflection, my job is cool. It is ridiculous and at times very stressful but also joyful and unlike anything else that I could possibly find to do, and maybe while frivolous on the surface,  it gives me the opportunity to meld all of my interests into one process that then allows me to help other people tap into their own creative process and build their confidence and occasionally tap into dreams/fantasies that they have. And the joy and confidence they feel because of my work then spreads out to others. Since that is one of my main missions in life, to be a ripple that causes waves, to help others find their own transformative abilities in their lives, the fact that I’m able to do so and get paid for it while simultaneously being creatively fulfilled is really cool. It’s not easy in the least, but it is cool. And for a self-acknowledged lifelong dork, that is really neat to discover.

The Meandering Path

Everything is opening up for me in rather wonderful ways right now, but they also bring BIG CHANGES, so there’s that to contend with. Jobwise, I have my meeting tomorrow to go over what exactly my new duties are when I shift to the new official position July 1st, I have a wonderful intern that I’ve acquired for the summer, a part-time employee I’ve acquired for the year, and they may have found me a full-time person to work under me, which is amazing. It means that we can do even better projects, I can hopefully stop pulling those 65-75 hour weeks that I occasionally have to do, and I have a chance to do great work in the other areas that they want me to work towards. But it also means that I’m an official “boss”, which is strange. Lifewise, we’re meeting with a mortgage broker next week to see where we’re at, and, strangely enough, an acquaintance just posted a rather lovely home up for sale. Not sure if life intends that direction for us, but we’ll find out next week. And creatively and spiritually, things have been opening and progressing nicely too. I don’t talk too much about that side of my life, because certain areas I like to keep private, but you will see the fruits of my labors spilling out here.

Life has not followed the path that I thought it would in the least, but that’s okay. We’re placed where we’re meant to be to allow us to grow the most, I think, and that is what I will continue to do.