Working on location. It’s not a vacation, it’s longer than a normal business trip, it feels almost like living somewhere, but it is definitely temporary.  Every once in a while you luck out and end up somewhere really cool, somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, on a show that is mellow enough to actually let you have the time to enjoy and explore your new surroundings. But, more often, you end up in a tiny town in the middle of nowhere and are glad that the show is a crazy one and that you don’t have too much time to sit in your motel room wondering what’s happening back in your other life.  

I’ve been lucky enough to end up in some great cities and to have come away feeling that I really know them.  But, much more frequently than being sent to Austin, New Orleans, or New York, I find myself in places such as Wilmington (Ohio), Las Vegas (New Mexico), and Shreveport (Louisiana) and am forced to figure out ways to continue living some semblance of my life, while away.  

I used to find myself counting down the days, putting my “real life” on hold, and waiting until the job was over to return to it.  But, slowly it became apparent that it was all my real life and the quicker I realized it the better it would be.  Waiting caused me to miss out on things I may have enjoyed in my new town and to place my life in between jobs on a pedestal, only to realize that while I’d been away, things kept moving along without me and I had to find my new/old place in the current layout.  

In addition to a suitcase of clothing and shoes, I started packing a bag of things that make me happy no matter where I wake…Vintage Earl Grey, coconut oil, my yoga mat, books, my ipod,  a wine opener, my linens and pillow, and a candle.  Upon arriving in my new town, I take a few hours to “move in”, rearranging furniture if I need to, until it feels like somewhere I can live for a bit.  It took me a few years to figure out little ways to keep my life running while out of cell range, or the state, for months on end, and I realized, with some planning, it is possible. I’m dependent on timers to water my plants, the postal service’s premium forwarding service to send me my mail, and an expandable file folder which serves as my office while away.  For most of last year, while on location with “The Lone Ranger”, a cardboard girl scout cookie box served as my medicine cabinet, full of the supplements and vitamins that kept me going for ten months.  

There is a camaraderie among people working on location that is a relief when in a strange place.  It’s easy to tag along with a group to dinner or find somewhere to meet on Saturday nights.  It’s a strange, gypsy life we have all adopted and though it has its good and bad, most of us keep coming back for more. It was only after I started to look at all of it as my “real life”, that I began to enjoy it, seeing it as an adventure, and trying to find the good in wherever I landed.  Trusting that home would still be there when I returned.  

Heading West. Again.

Heading West. Again.

It’s been almost four months since my last movie ended and tomorrow my next begins.  Because it will be another Western, I’m dusting off the boots, packing jeans, flannel shirts, and straw hats, preparing for three months of wind, sun, and dust.

When I chose to base myself full time in New Mexico, instead of LA, I resigned myself to the fact that I would spend most of my days outdoors, working in the elements, rather than on a soundstage. When I do end up on the occasional stage movie, I am amazed at how much easier it is than what I am used to, if for no other reason it involves pavement, which makes rolling a wardrobe rack exponentially easier.  But, alas, I end up working on Westerns the vast majority of the time.  They are beautiful, dirty, and everything about working on them is more difficult than any other type of movie.  The locations are in places where no roads, cell towers, or power lines are visible, thereby making them hard to get to and hard to work from.  The cast and crew are at the mercy of the weather and the light, which makes the completion of a day’s work a real feat.

I know many costumers who avoid Westerns like the plague and I understand why. I spend my days dealing with leather, wool, fur, fake blood, and dirt when I could be dealing with the cute, latest styles if I was working on a clean, romantic comedy somewhere. Chaps, corsets, and detachable collars are just a few of the clothing items I have become an expert on and each makes me so happy that our styles have evolved. Many of the costumes I set in actor’s trailers weigh more than a small child and when people ask me if I work out, I laugh. No, I work on Westerns and lug wet wool through the dirt.

But, I also get to be around really interesting costumes, horses, to see beautiful sunrises and sunsets almost every day, and to get a really great tan. On my last day of freedom for the next few months, I am dusting off the boots, finding the dust goggles, and packing the bandanas.  And it all seems so normal.