Archives for posts with tag: work

IMG_9701

I returned to LA from Georgia over a week ago and am just beginning to feel part of my life again.  It’s something I write and think about frequently; the idea that there is my real life and my temporary life, the one I have never figured out how to live while on location, from a hotel room on the side of a freeway, complete with bad carpeting and a mini fridge.  And while I have discovered a few of the things that keep me connected (finding organic produce at Target, my workout CDs, and books), it still feels like I am killing time, waiting to get back to living.

So, what is living? When do I feel connected and present in my life? In addition to being around those I love, with whom laughter, talking, and silence come easy, the answer seems to be creativity. Whether its a blog post, a meal, or a card, when I create something, I feel that I am communicating with the world and can rest well.  For the past week I haven’t been sleeping and have also felt too tired to create anything; my meals have been quick, my outfits boring, my blogs nonexistent. Blank. But, slowly, the juices are returning.  The energy to cook, write, and create beauty is returning and I trust that, with some rest, so will the desire to pursue the larger projects floating around in my head.

I bought flowers, avocados, limes, and chips on the way home from work.  Time for a brainstorming, list making, happy hour party, even if it’s just me and my computer, on a Wednesday afternoon.  If I am going to keep making my living in an industry I don’t love, but that allows me time off and pays my bills, there need to be some ground rules:

1.Only go on Location if it’s to somewhere Awesome, for no longer than a month, and only if I am going to make a bunch of money.

2. Create something, anything, once a week, minimum. Write something everyday.

3. Use the money I make working to sign up for every class/workshop that looks fun, writing and otherwise. Save the rest.

4. Say No to Full Time work. Part time allows for classes and projects. 

5. Never forget to find and create beauty, even in Georgia.

 

If you enjoy these posts, please follow smagik.com and please share!

 

 

I’m sitting in an airport for the third time this month, reading my horoscope. Home, home, home. My fourth house is all lit up, hitting the domestic vibes/homefront notes for the next month, just in time to be outside of Atlanta, for work, living in a hotel.  So, how to avoid going crazy and give myself those homey vibes, while on the road? What does home mean? Where is my home? 

I recently had a reassuring realization while in Northern California for a couple of weeks, again for work and again living in a hotel. I missed LA. Having only lived there for six months, after repeatedly trying  to adapt for ten years and but always eventually fleeing for the clean air and calm of my previous home, New Mexico, this was a huge shift. And a welcome one. I missed the assortment of healthy food, the mass of stuff to do on weekends, the hipster adventuror spirit which can be both annoying and awesome,  my classes, friends, apartment, stuff and my morning routine. I was officially homesick for my new city. So, that’s a good thing! 

But, what to do to create home when away? My yoga mat, many books, music, a big bag of food and tea, journal, and tarot cards are traveling with. I’m heading out with an open attitude and belief that seeing different parts of the country and world will give me some good stories to tell and a greater appreciation of my own city when I return next month. 

If you enjoy these posts, please follow Smagik.com and please share. 

IMG_1965

“I have one foot out the  door, but he doesn’t know where he’s going,” a co-worker told me last week, over a cup of coffee and a donut from the craft service table, as we stood, backs to a cold wind that whipped dust in our scarf and goggle covered faces, waiting for the director and cinematographer to set up a shot.  I laughed. At the moment my feet were cold, even inside winter boots, and I wondered if they had led me to that moment, or had merely followed along. “Where or when did we get the idea that a job in an office was such a bad thing?” I wondered. Later that night I sat on a cooler, next to a different co-worker, and again we waited for a shot to be set and again a dusty, cold wind whipped our faces.  And again I wondered how I’d come to view this as normal.

But, then, what is normal? I’ve spent the better part of thirteen years on movie sets, waiting for shots to be set, in the wind, and for a long time it felt very normal.  I became used to intense periods of work followed by equally intense periods of existential wandering. It is only recently, since I have been taking more time off, pursuing different goals, making different choices, and following my heart, aka feet, that my previous normal is up for examination. My new version involves sleeping well, writing, wandering with a purpose, taking care of myself physically, and making decisions based on how my overall wellbeing will be effected.

As I sat in the wind, I realized that my former and current normals had one thing in common; my desire for freedom. Somewhere along the way, I’d convinced myself that offices equalled cages, commitments equalled obligations and then resentments, and that there was no way to intertwine finances with my own creativity.  I loved to show up in the morning on a new set, to know that no job ever lasted more than a few months, and that I could save money while working because I had no time to spend it, or do anything really, other than work and sleep.  I was willing to overlook the lack of free time, the weather, and the adrenal depleting high, that was actually quite addictive.

But now, as I spend less time on set and more in the office I designed in my home, I realize my feet are leading me in a different direction than the one I am so familiar with. And I don’t actually know where we are going. I figure we haven’t gotten lost yet, so I’ll just continue to follow.

 

 

 

  
 Back at work for a week and, so far, so good! I have been sleeping AND waking with enough time to stretch and meditate, two things I’m determined to hold onto as the hours grow longer and the off-time shrinks. 

I can feel the adrenaline creeping back in but hope to keep it at the lowest levels possible. The annoying little truth is that on some level I love the crazy, the high, and the pace of a movie set. And this show promises to be a busy, if short, one. 

As I stood on set yesterday, our first day of shooting, I felt comfortable and confident, doing a job I’ve done for years and that has, overall, benefitted me on many levels. I am also starting this job having just had three months off. I feel refreshed and know that the money I make over the next couple of months will allow me to take more time off this fall. 

I’m beginning to see how these two sides balance each other; the prompt, organized, slightly OCD costumer and the relaxed, creative, let’s just see what happens wanderer. It’s a tricky balance that, even after twelve years, I haven’t figured out, but I’m optimistic that with awareness I can have and/with rather than either/or. Balance, balance, balance. I want to be in love with every minute of my little, awesome life, rather than waiting for this or that to happen or for the time when it’s all crystal clear and figured out. 

It’s a whacky ride and I think that’s what I’m starting to accept and appreciate. And sleep, meditation, and stretching all help that appreciation!

 It is hot! 105 in Albuquerque yesterday, with the same expected today. And, after such a cool, rainy spring, I think we are all in shock, though June is usually the month where it reaches triple digits for a week or two, so we really shouldn’t be. Today I plan to make mint sun tea, write a short story, meet a friend at the pool, and be grateful that for the first time in over a decade, I am not outside, working on a film set in this heat! 

Producers love to shoot in New Mexico in the summer; long days full of amazing skies, desert vistas stretching for miles, 16 hours before you lose the light.  Pouring water over my head, wrapping a wet bandana around my neck, reapplying sunscreen again and again, holding the wool coats and petticoats of actors too hot to wear them, lugging garment bags up a mountain or into a canyon, eating bananas for the potassium, waiting for the sun to go down, trying to drink even half as much water as I should. 

Early in my career, I wore skirts and light blouses, but after ruining too many, switched to shorts and tee shirts, but after getting too much sun, switched to high tech UV fabric clothing that I rinse out each night, same outfit day after day, no skin showing. Only when the director goes down with heat stroke, do people slow and drink a Gatorade. 

I think of my dad, building a house out in the country. Watermelon for lunch, gallons of water sweated out, like a cleanse, year after year working through the summer. And of all the farm workers, road crews, and walking mail deliverers, working in the heat. My grandmother would meet her mailman at the door with a glass of lemonade. 

And six months from now, I might be writing the same post for cold. Bitter  and biting. Seems unimaginable now. 

Stay cool out there!

I am sitting outside of a coffee shop in Albuquerque and a movie happens to be shooting across the street. Men in workbelts scurry around and I had to park around the corner because the street is full of “no parking due to filming” and “businesses are open” signs. And all I feel is relief. Relief that after sitting here for half an hour I can leave and go about my day. A day that didn’t start with an alarm and will end whenever I get tired and feel like going to bed. I’ve been off for just under two weeks and am only now starting to feel rested as the insomnia that dominated my last show begins to subside. 

I have a list of things I hope to accomplish during this self funded sabbatical, not the least of which is beginning to try to figure out a new way to make a living that doesn’t wreak havoc on my nervous system. Yikes! Whether it ends up taking over my film career or simply gives me more of a purpose and income in between film jobs, I don’t know. But, I do know that as I get older, the lifestyle that goes along with the film industry seems less and less sustainable for me.

I’ve signed up for writing classes and jewelry classes, I revamped my long neglected Etsy site, fresastudio.etsy.com, and am trying to stop thinking of such things as just hobbies, incapable of possibly supporting me. What if I gave them half of the hours I give my film career in a given week? Chances are they’d flourish. 

I am very grateful for a career that gives me the time to explore other options and has been such an interesting one for over a decade. But, at the moment, my studio is calling and I’m going to go see what I find there. I’ll let you know. 

  

I’m having one of those moments. Sitting at the kitchen table with a glass of wine, the back door open on an April evening, and another job coming to an end. Willie Nelson is singing. 

I couldn’t have asked to be part of a more fantastic costume department  for the past several months. It was one of those rare groups, full of humor and talent, that made the most mundane or stressful of situations seem somehow not so bad. It was a department that earned complete respect from the rest of the crew early on and maintained it throughout. 

Aside from the fact that it was a physically difficult show for me, complete with the flu and a classic case of insomnia, it also reminded me that it really is the people who keep me coming back, movie after movie. There is an adventurous, creative, problem solving, non conformist, gypsy, irreverent attitude that I love about film crews, but costume departments in particular. Maybe it’s something about being the first in and last out, pinning and counting dirty socks, or seeing famous people in their underwear, but whatever it is, it’s unavoidably funny when you really think about it. Or if you haven’t slept more than four hours in months. 

I will miss this group. But will enjoy my sleep and time off. And I will welcome the idea that goodbye usually just means “see you on another one,  somewhere.”

  

Sometimes you are on location in Manhattan. Or Austin. And, sometimes, you are working on location in the desert south of Lordsburg, New Mexico.

I do not want to leave my house today. As I pack my suitcase, yoga mat, humidifier, bag of food, pillow, winter gear, dust gear, shoes, tea, and scented candle into the car, I am reminded of how frequently this used to be my life. For years, I worked and lived between states, spending months on location, in hotel rooms, everywhere and nowhere simultaneously.

And then, it just stopped working for me. Leaving my house and the small routines I’d finally managed to make mine, became almost physically painful. The idea of living in a hotel room, dependent on catering, microwaved soup, instant oatmeal, and coffee made in the bathroom, was unappealing on every level. So, I stopped. I began to accept jobs based on whether the movie was in town or not. And that single decision has done wonders for my health, sleep, well being, and life.

Recently I received a call for a month long, out of town job in Southern New Mexico and, because it was with a supervisor I liked, accepted. And, for the past month, I have counted the days until I could be back home. My days consist of waking at 2:30 am, getting in a van, working until the sun goes down, stumbling from the van to the shower to the bed and doing it all over again the next day. Friends and family’s calls go unanswered, mail piles up, and my life is put in hold.

For the same amount of time that I’ve been choosing to work at home, I’ve also been practicing living in the present. It is the combination that seems to account for a happiness I can’t remember feeling at any other point in my life. I have been in the flow, in the right place at the right time, happily observing the world around me and all that it has to give.

So, it is with some annoyance that I find myself incapable of maintaining this practice while working on location. I recently awoke in my hotel room around midnight. I was hungry and, as I stood eating a slice of cheese by the mini fridge, steam from the humidifier wafted by my face. My sleep mask was pushed up on my forehead and the only light came from the nightlight on the hairdryer. At that moment I was completely present and aware of how strange my life was. And, though happy to be present, also knew it wasn’t a situation I cared to keep repeating.

Driving south on I-25, I go through a town called Truth or Consequences and smile. It seems that if you know the truth and ignore it, the consequences are guaranteed to follow close behind. My truth at the moment is that home is where I want to be and I’m glad that it took only a short job to remind me of that fact.

IMG_2897.JPG

Well, I haven’t been blogging enough lately for it to become a slog, that’s for sure! After what has turned out to be a very busy summer, I am finding my unemployed sea legs once again. And returning to the thing no one pays me to do; blogging, walking, cooking, making, and traveling.

Sitting in my favorite Albuquerque coffee shop (Zendo) this morning, I read the NY Times article, “When Blogging Becomes a Slog,” about a group of young design bloggers who are already feeling the effects of turning their passion into a profession. It eventually became a grind, they forgot about the joy component, and are now somewhat burnt out.

The article reminded me of a recent conversation I had with some fellow costumers. They were talking about how best to move up through the ranks of the department, in the hopes of eventually reaching the end goal of becoming costume designers. I commented that about six years ago I stopped looking to the film industry to be my creative outlet and instead let it become simply my job and the way I pay for the things that do fulfill me creatively. I had no interest in moving up and accepted that it was what it was for me; a job, with plenty of pros and cons.

I think there was a period of time when I would not have said that out loud, feeling somehow guilty that my job wasn’t my end all be all. Or that I was settling by not merging money with creativity and passion. I have endless hobbies, I have two different “business” cards for businesses that make me almost no money and yet, it works for me. I think it is a lucky few who figure out how to rely upon a passion to sustain them financially without it eventually becoming a grind and, well… a job.

At the moment, I’m enjoying one of the pros of my odd profession; a chunk of time off to do with as I please. Stay tuned!

IMG_1492.JPG

Yesterday was a funny day. My hobbies, the things I do for fun, to keep my brain and creativity working and flowing, came home to roost.

Last year I took almost six months off from my job as a costumer. During that time I took several creative writing classes and began submitting work to various journals and publications. Yesterday I received a copy of the 2014 Santa Fe Literary Review and I am proud to have a story among the pages.

As I was flipping through the book, my phone buzzed to tell me that I had sold an apron on my Etsy site, fresastudio.etsy.com. I started this site years ago, as a way to justify my love of fabric and vintage table linens, but it has been sorely neglected for the past couple of years. It always shocks me when I sell something.

Sitting near me was an Italian dictionary and my guidebook to Amsterdam. Travel and the study of languages were favorite hobbies until, at some point in the past decade, I allowed them to take a backseat. In October I will be able to use both books when I cross the pond for the first time in four years.

It occurred to me that, for almost a decade, I allowed my film career to eclipse any unrelated interests as my life became a cycle of jobs and recovery. Upon realizing this last year, I counterbalanced by taking too many months off; too much time with too little structure. This year has been more balanced, with consistent, but short, jobs, most in town rather than on the road, and some free time to continue writing, making, exploring, and learning.

IMG_3681.JPG

IMG_3680.JPG