Organizing Supplies & Organizing Dreams

Last night I couldn't sleep. I'm coming up on my first day school very soon; orientation starts a week from today. I have been so ready and excited, but the last few days have been filled with something I can't quite put my finger on. Anxiety...? Maybe in the way that people who don't have anxiety medication feel when something new like this comes up. Not overwhelming, but always in the back of your mind.

Today I spent a lot of time working on organizing my sewing studio. We were lucky enough to snag a relatively large sized apartment in Astoria (1000 square feet!) with not one, but two bedrooms. This way I will have a space that is completely my own for all my projects. In our old apartment(s) whenever I had a sewing project it would slowly escalate, taking over the entire house by the time I was done. The current plan is that everything will be very organized in my new space so that I can keep it out of the rest of the house/out of disarray.

The sewing studio, a work in progress.

The sewing studio, a work in progress.

Unfortunately, since I was pretty much depressed for the last two years, organization hasn't been on the top of my list. Stuff was EVERYWHERE. I spent almost a month before the move going through all my possessions and liquidating, reorganizing, and rehoming many things. Unfortunately this process was not completed before moving, so I had put a lot of things in "to be organized" boxes. I am finally getting through everything now, thank the goddesses. 

In this process I realized I had duplicates of lots of items because things were in so many different places. For example, I have 5 exacto knives and about 40 extra blades for them. I have about 10 rolls of quarter inch black elastic. And about 5 kajillion pens.

My husband and my houseguest were impressed with my progress today which makes me feel great. It's nice to see this creative space coming together. I still have a corner of things to go through, but I *should* have it all taken care of by next week.

A beautiful gift my friends signed when I left Colorado.

A beautiful gift my friends signed when I left Colorado.

It's been important to me to feel 100% moved in by the time I start school. We've been in NYC for officially 6 weeks, and you could say that I should have been done by now, but we all know that's not how it works when you move cross-country . I didn't want to rush getting used to living here either. But I have definitely had a little last minute panic about being mentally ready to start school (calm down Kristi, you still have 2 weeks). I don't want to have to worry about where things are in case I get slammed with schoolwork. Many times when working on freelance costuming I found that I only had time for commissions or organizing, not both. Part of the "New Kristi" is never feeling like I have to compromise on my work if I can help it. 

And that's the thing too; I have no idea what kind of after hours work I will have when I start school. I don't know if I will have some classes that will require as much homework outside of work as scheduled class hours, as was the case for many of my art studio classes my first time around in college, or if I will have free evenings and weekends. Or, maybe somewhere in the middle. I'm nervous about it. I don't like not knowing. I'm prepared to be swamped in schoolwork but would actually love to have a little personal time.

I have been purposefully not scheduling any other commitments for the duration of my school year. I have 2 commissions that will be taken care of likely by the end of August, but otherwise that is it. It's hard for me. I am usually juggling 5-6 things at a time, but often it turns out not so good on my stress levels. I am making an active effort to focus.

Speaking of extra activities, I have a few friends who have been auditioning for musicals back in Colorado in the last few days that have made me feel a little sad and nostalgic for my performing life. But one of the things I've been working on is to not continue beating the square peg into the round hole as it were. I am sad because I want to sing, I want to perform, but I know how much energy it requires and I simply cannot take that time potential away from a school schedule that I do not yet know.

Also I want my performance life to bring joy, not pain. And for the last year that I was doing theater productions, it brought me mostly pain. Emotional and physical. I met some amazing people no doubt, in fact, if I had not met my friend Garrett I probably wouldn't even be in New York right now. But the last 2 shows I performed in were far from fun. 

Of course, I was in that delightful cycle of being unhappy with my job, so I filled my life with things I was "supposed to" love. In the end I had so many things going on it felt like I didn't truly have enough time to savor the experience.  If a rehearsal felt like a waste of time I was immediately irritated because I had so little to spare in my personal life.

I also found in a particular group that setting high expectations for myself was not okay. Somehow, my experience level was used against me as people assumed that since I wanted bigger parts I was somehow a diva or a bitch, or had an "attitude". I get it, everyone is important in a show, but by feeling like I had to "earn" a spot was frustrating to me. I have been performing for 17 years, and I know my talent shows what it is. I am professional and have spent my life earning my spot as such. I am also realistic. I don't want to be ensemble. It doesn't bring me the joy that being center stage does. I can't believe how many lectures I got about not accepting ensemble. Ya'll, I had New York life waiting for me, I'm not going to stick around to just be a background character. I'm not passionate about that. Please give the part to someone who is passionate being on stage as an ensemble member.

I also think I am a good and nice person. And the last few times I have done theater it's made me feel like I'm not, that I am expecting too much, and that I am not nice and am a diva and should just give up.

And no matter how hard I tried to be in the clique I never was. I tried so hard to be accepted! I went to events, even tried to schedule an exclusive get together with this group (and not EVEN ONE PERSON rsvp'd). I found out after the fact at how many things I'd not been invited to, that were supposedly "known" events. I offered to volunteer services for events and was always met with a decline. I even offered services in sewing and fundraising and was never followed up with.

It's really stung and I've had a hard time getting over it. I've written and rewritten this blog a few times trying to process and organize my emotions. I am hurt because I was ready to jump over the moon at one point for this group. I don't think it was necessarily one person's fault and I don't want to point fingers, but I felt (and still feel) very excluded.  This set of people has focus on certain things that leaves people like me with nowhere to stand. It just sucks. And now I have a bitter taste in my mouth when it comes to performing. 

My next experience has got to be a joyful one, or I just can't do it anymore. I've gone over and over in my mind whether I sabotaged myself. Did I expect too much? And now, in retrospect, being here in New York and trying to follow a new dream, I say no. Set the expectations even higher, I say. Let go of those experiences that seem to bring more heartache than happiness. 

A year ago I decided to stop doing the status quo. Stop doing things I felt neutral about, just did because I could. I started taking on only things that not only felt right, but felt AWESOME. If I felt kinda meh about something, I decided not to do it. So because of that I literally have been doing zero freelance graphic design work. Because of that I took on doing costumes for New York Deaf Theater last year for their fall production. Because of that I fell in love with New York and visited FIT. Because of that, I am going to fashion school in 2 weeks.

Every step of my journey to become a fashion designer has been easy. Every. Single. Step.

Sure, I didn't get into the Her Universe Fashion Show at SDCC this year. That sucked. But seeing the designs this year I know I would not have won or come close. I played it safe with my submitted designs because I had to work within the bounds of moving and starting school so I knew my time would have been limited. That's not how you win that competition - you have to throw your balls to the wall 100% and come up with something freaking amazing. That wasn't going to be me this time around. And if I do the competition again, I want to try to give my very best winning work. Last year I had no expectations of winning, just to absorb the experience, which I think worked out wonderfully for me.

This is the only show juried show I haven't gotten into since I've started doing fashion design seriously. I really feel like I have some sort of magic in this field that I've never felt about anything except theater. But I can't seem to get the rewards for doing theater that I have even in a few short years doing fashion.

A friend of mine is currently fulfilling a rehearsal contract for a major performance company in NYC right now. 10 years ago she missed a shot with this company because of an injury, and so life is coming full circle allowing her the chance to pursue it again now. We were chatting the other day about performing and I mentioned some of my frustrations. She asked me if performing gave me the sort of happiness that made it worth continuing to try making it work. I told her that the highs were so high, but the lows were just too low to continue right now. My heart just can't take it. And she responded after thinking for a moment that her career as a performer has been somewhat easy. She pretty much has gotten into all the shows she ever wanted to do, save for the one she waited 10 years for. She hasn't had that let down that kills so many performer's confidence. She's a diamond in the rough for sure, that's not a common career path for a performer. 

It made me start thinking. Square peg, round hole. Or focusing on the passion that is taking me places.

Turning off the performer in me is not easy, but I know it's the right choice for now. The universe has other things in store for me. As I said earlier, it's taken me weeks to write this blog. I don't want anyone to be mad or feel like I'm bad-talking a company; it's what I feel and my experience with them. Please respect that and don't try to convince me that my feelings aren't valid. It's been on my mind so much I needed to set it free and let it out so that I can move on to what I'm here to do, which is start my life over and be passionate about everything I am putting my energy into.

And who knows, maybe there will be a little time for singing and dancing this year after all.





Busy Bee turned Creative Butterfly

I have a lot of time right now. A lot of time to be just with myself and ponder things. I have found myself actually BORED. I literally can't remember the last time I felt bored. 

It has bugged me lately (pre-move of course) when someone starts their conversation by saying "I know you're busy but..." 

I am not busy. I actually haven't really been busy for a while (save for about a week before we left Colorado. The Moving "Busys".) I have been making a concerted effort to stop the "busys". 

Those of you who really know me have likely heard of my great relationship with therapy in the last 8 months. After getting laid off last year, I thought "Well, I have so much time to do All the Things now!" So I signed on to do costumes for a company in New York, as well as committed myself to several freelance costume jobs, plus on top of that I agreed to do a juried runway show. I also was asked if I could increase my entries to said runway show from 1 to 3, since they were looking for an opening set of looks. "Of course!" I said, like someone who apparently doesn't know how to judge the time it takes to do things. I thought not having a day job would open me up to endless possibilities.

After I came back from NY the first time from measuring actors and sitting in on rehearsals, before I got super stressed, I realized I might need help delegating my time. Why did I always do this? It was all fine and good until something went wrong, and then there was absolutely no wiggle time to fix anything. I sensed I was following the same pattern, yet again. Not only that, there was no time for me to just BE, and not DO.

I have discovered about myself that if I am not happy with something in my life, I try to fill it to the brim with things that I love in order to counter balance. But instead of tipping the scales, sometimes everything just plain falls over. 

I finally took responsibility for this busy-ness complex and looked for a new therapist.  I have had several other great therapists in the past, but I've always had to find new ones because of circumstances that were out of my control, like moving. The last one I had was referred to me through a network by a therapist friend, but she discontinued her practice several years ago to pursue another career. 

Finding someone new can be mentally daunting. You want to find the right "fit" between patient and therapist, otherwise it can be not nearly as helpful. Just picking up the phone can sometimes take all the courage you have for the week. I knew that a move to NYC was likely in my future, and I also knew that I could potentially have an anxiety crapstorm if I didn't find a qualified professional to help me prepare and get through it.

Lucky for me, the universe was on my side and I found a wonderful fit through a mere google search! My friend who referred me to the last person even knew this new person and was so happy I found her. It seems so easy looking back now, but it took me a full 2 years to even try to find someone. It's hard.

One of the first things New Awesome Therapist had me do was to physically calendar out all the things I had planned for the spring. At that time, I was considering doing voice acting for an ASL play locally that had a 6 week run. I also was working on my portfolio for my fashion school application, plus about 7 other gigs I was asked to do or auditioning for. Plus many, many sewing commissions. TECHNICALLY YES, I could do all these things, but seeing it visually made me realize my life was following down the same path to destruction. Always doing things, never quite having enough time to put the quality effort into any of those things. Never allowing for mistakes or do-overs. 

Even when I had a day job, ESPECIALLY when I had one, I would overschedule myself all the time. This mostly happened when I was not enjoying the job anymore. I would just fill in all my time with things I knew I loved, hoping that somehow that would make up for it. Again, trying to tip the scale and instead having it fall over sideways.

I had to discover not only how to say "no" but when to say it. Which projects are worth doing? If I can do something, I usually say Sure! I have been doing that all my life. I always said "I can do graphic design, so I guess I will." I never stopped to check in with myself to see if I really wanted to do it anymore. This year I made a pact with myself to stop taking on things that I felt neutral about, and only take on projects that made my heart skip a beat, things that ignited my passion for creativity or that really MEAN something to me. 

And with that, gone were graphic design projects and freelance. Gone were clothing alterations. Gone were theater costuming gigs. Gone was the 8-5 corporate graphic design job. I really focused on things that are important to me, like fashion/costume design commissions, singing, dancing, and honestly, just chilling out.

I had gotten myself to the dreaded "Office Space" mantra of just wanting to do nothing for a while. I even doubted whether I really was ready for a new career - what if I started fashion design and felt the same old mental block? My husband assured me that if that happened it would still be okay. And he's right, you know. Putting myself out in the universe and seeing what sticks works best if you continue to do so when something doesn't stick.

But the funny thing is this: I don't think I've ever been as passionate about anything as I am about fashion design. I don't regret my path at all; I learned a lot as a graphic artist, and even more about business and marketing in general. I know what I need a business to look like for me to take part in it. I know the balance of "creative" vs "quality" vs "something that someone will actually buy". I know what it takes. 

Every time I felt unsure about my new path, something came along to reassure me that it was right. Every time I posted a new illustration or finished commission photo to social media, I got tons of positive feedback. I feel like my illustrations are fun to do and that I am fast at them. And the finished projects always look so much like my original vision. It's the first time that I've felt like I can capture a vision in an illustration and it is very similar from start to finish.

When I came back to NYC at the end of January this year, I noticed something else. If I went shopping, I always was very aware of new concepts and fabrics, or interesting patterns in fabric. I had to look at things to see how they were made. I have hundreds of photos and screenshots of clothing on my phone that I never buy, just concepts that I thought were cool. You should see my fabric collection or my pinterest fashion photos. I can spend 10 hours working on a sewing machine or cutting out fabric and piecing it together, and I still want to go back for more. I close my eyes at night and have some new magical runway concept that I have to draw up before I fall asleep so that I don't forget it. 

I never felt this way about graphic design. Or really anything other than musical theater. But the problem I have with musical theater is that the lows are much more common than the highs. I am just not cut out for all the rejection in that world.

In jobs, I gravitated towards the people and environments that made me happy. But I don't know if I was ever really passionate about branding, or business cards or websites. I got more excited about user interface design (basically the visuals that guide a user to navigate through an app or site in an intuitive way) than anything in my earlier career. But even then, it is nothing like the passion I have for making a unique dress.

My goal for the year is to really focus in on the things that matter. Fashion design is why I came to New York, so it is what I am focusing on. I am not taking any new commissions after August so that I can really get a feel for my class schedule and what is going to be required of my time. (Also, I have been fully booked since March through now, so if you haven't scheduled a project with me before then, I won't be able to accommodate you. I only say that because I have literally gotten 1-2 new commission requests every week since April that I've had to turn down.) I am not auditioning for shows or taking on extra projects. School will be it, and if I have a great feel for it and think I can spare any hours for other projects, only then will I take on other things.

My program at FIT is one year, and it is intense. I will be in class 7-8 hours a day Monday-Friday. I don't know what the workload will be like, but I'm prepared to spend all my time focusing on school and homework. I have never focused on just one thing before, so I think it will be an excellent exercise in self control. I feel like my therapist prepared me very well for this change.

Even though this was the furthest move I have ever made, I have felt so prepared for everything both mentally, physically, and emotionally. Sure, we were down to the wire in the last couple days before the movers came, but my stress level never got even close to what it's been. I am relaxed and excited to see what the immediate future brings.

My career has always been me the square peg trying to fit in a round hole. Everything about this new life seems easier and has been just falling into place in ways I could never have imagined. I am so thankful that I decided to let go and jump. 




Feeling Hot Hot Hot

Thanks Key and Peele for showing how I feel.

Thanks Key and Peele for showing how I feel.

Lately it's been very warm. I guess as soon as we got here, New York had the first heat wave of the summer. I have definitely been around hot weather before, but the humidity is so much higher here that it makes quite a difference. I mean, I knew it would, but experiencing it is something else. I even went out and bought a 2nd air conditioner for our apartment as well as a box fan to try and cool down our furnitureless abode. It sort of worked. 

On hot days I literally can't wear makeup because I sweat so much that it melts off pretty immediately when I go outside. I can't wear shorts as I have what all the fashionable ladies call "chub rub" where your thighs create friction when you walk (an amazingly uncomfortable feeling). By the way, my thighs have touched since I took my first steps so that fad is bull as far as I am concerned.

During the hot days I generally change my clothes 2-3 times during the day as they are soaked with sweat if I go outside for even 5 minutes. Waiting on a subway platform is the worst as the heat bounces off the concrete and into your soul, which is also sweating. It's amazing that the thermostat has only been in the 80s; however, experiencing 85% humidity when my skin has yet to figure out how to absorb moisture (thanks Colorado) it feels exactly like 91,000 degrees.

Me and that cool guy I married.

Me and that cool guy I married.

Thankfully, last night it rained pretty heavily giving us some relief. Today was cloudy and much cooler, a welcome reprieve. The husband and I made our way over to Gantry State Park, which is a short train ride away in Long Island City, just south of Astoria. The park is right on the East River where you can see the island of Manhattan and the amazing skyline. My friends Garrett and Damian took me there a few months back while I was visiting and I fell in love.

This is the park that several times a year the sunset will line up with the Manhattan east-west street grid in such a way that the sun sets between the buildings. People call in Manhattanhenge as it happens around the summer solstice. I *think* the next one is in a few days, so I hope we can make it over and the weather is clear. Sounds like a beautiful thing!

Today's view of Manhattan from Gantry Park

Today's view of Manhattan from Gantry Park



Here we are, finally.

Oh hey, I live here now. New York City. Well, actually, Astoria, which is a neighborhood in Queens. When people think of New York City they tend to think of Manhattan. Which strangely is only a few miles from me. But New York miles are so much different I have found out! But I'll get to that later. Just kidding! I'll get to it now. I don't know why, but it bugs me when people outwardly say "I'll get to that later" or "I'll cover that topic in a bit". You don't need to say it, just DO it!

Anyway, in New York, everything is seemingly closer and further apart all at once. Looking on a map and contemplating walking one location to another, distance is seemly more lengthy than actuality. The thing about living in a city is that there are tons of things happening on the street that make time move faster when you're out and about. It takes me about 15-20 minutes to walk to Astoria Park, a gorgeous park northwest of my apartment with tons of trees. My friend Courtney and I walked there a week ago when she was in town from helping us move the cats via plane. We both were so distracted by the sounds, sights, smells and activities of the neighborhood that there was little time to worry about how long it'd been since we'd left the apartment.

My commute to school will be about 35 minutes which includes the walk to and from the subway. The actual subway ride is only about 20 minutes so it breaks up the time pretty well. When I'm riding the subway it's hard to feel like it's taking a long time just because of the bustle of everything out here. However, the actual measured distance from home to school is barely 4 miles. My last job in Denver was 8 miles away and I could get there by car in 15 minutes when the traffic was good. In Fort Collins going 4 miles takes 10 minutes inside city limits. But with so many human beings living in NYC, it's hard to believe we can get around anywhere at all. The subway is the blood stream of everything. Without it, there's no way so many people could live here.

People have told me I may grow to hate the subway. I don't think I will, because my other alternative would be to drive and I HATE driving. I am not a good driver (I hit an RTD bus once, I'm not joking), and I definitely was very thankful to see our cars find new owners. About 4 years ago, I had a job in downtown Denver that didn't have on site parking, so they provided employees with an "Eco" pass. A New Yorker joked to me that only in Denver would public transit be declared Eco-friendly. But I digress.

I rode the city bus almost every day for 2 years. Phil picked me up on the way home only because by taking the bus the commute was nearly an hour each way. This was for a job that was 8 miles away. There are certainly negative things about public transit, but I ultimately loved spending the time relaxing before work. I would generally read or look at the news. Sometimes I'd just zone. But the best part was not having to worry about the traffic or things around me. And in the evening it was nice to have a ride together with my husband home where we could discuss our respective days.

The subway is a miraculous thing really. The infrastructure is amazing when you think about it, and the fact that millions of people that use it every day is truly mind boggling. I am excited about the prospect of commuter trains as well. Several months ago I visited the city to find an apartment, but stopped in Washington DC first to see my sister who was playing an audition out there. I took a train from DC to NYC and it was pretty awesome. I told a friend of mine in NY that I had never taken a train and he was surprised that I hadn't and I replied that in the west, if you want to go somewhere you just drive your car! Most commuter trains don't stop in all the places you'd want to go anyway, and it probably is less time and money to just drive yourself.

I am looking forward to traveling back to DC to see some of the great museums out there, particularly the first ladies' fashion exhibit my sister has told me about. We're planning a trip out to Philly to see my long lost friend Eileen at the end of the month. I'd also love to visit upstate NY in the fall to see their glorious changing trees. The possibilities are endless! As long as there's time, that is.

Everything starts a little later here, and everything also stays open later. Although we are 2 hours different than Colorado, I find myself keeping a similar schedule, just staying up later. When I start school it'll be nice as my earliest classes start at 9AM. I will be in school 8-9 hours a day every day starting August 29th, so I am really relishing the time I have now to relax and set my life up accordingly. 



View of the trees from Astoria Park

View of the trees from Astoria Park