On Costuming

My friend Erin and I met, through mutual friends, at a roller derby bout. I’m usually terrible at remembering names/faces, but Erin’s hair was such a luminous, platinum blonde, that I was able to pick her out from the crowd of people I’d met that night when we all met up at a bar post-bout. And, unlike most people who meet briefly at a single social event, she remembered me, as well. When Erin hosted a Mary Kay party to support a coworker, I attended. In fact, Megan and I went together, dressed in our Tupperware Party best.

We made an impression that night.

Not too long later, Erin asked if I would like to accompany her on some Halloween shopping. It was probably late August or early September, so that sounded like a great idea to me. I didn’t know that “normal” people thought that was perhaps a little early. We spent all day driving around and shopping. Michael’s, Flossie McGrew’s, the wig boutique on the 16th Street Mall, one of those temporary Halloween stores, which was still setting out boxes. All day. And we only stopped because we didn’t want to worry Erin’s husband.

We clicked.

In the realm of people I’ve been friends with in my life, I have always been the costumiest. And while I’d known Megan and Joe for a few years before they introduced me to Erin, I somehow had never attended a costume function with them. I Didn’t Know. Now, out of the four of us, I am probably the least costumiest. I have grand ideas, but I cut corners. The three of them, however, spare no expense, cut no corners, and give up all sorts of activities for the sake of Creating. All of us insist on designing our own costumes. I did see Megan in a packaged costume ONCE, but I knew how much effort she had put into Joe’s costume that year, and it was totally understandable. We’re not unreasonable people.

When people ask me what our deal is, I have a hard time explaining it. I know that we love to get dressed up, but the four of us do that as frequently as possible. Dinner, cocktails, numerous parties during the year. Every event is an opportunity to polish up. Maybe it’s because we’re all designers, but for us, the beauty is in the actual creation, from our own hands, of a completely new person (place or thing). We get absorbed in the details. The illusion won’t fly if something is wrong. We’re not alone in our beliefs. Erica and Jeff joined us this year, making sure that Doctor Horrible’s weaponry was just right, and that Captain Hammer was so complete that he carried a wallet-size photo of Penny with him, lovingly signed on the back. Desha and Jon came as Bladerunner‘s Priss and Roy, and Jon was so bold as to bleach his hair and wax his chest for the role. In the world outside my own, Wil Wheaton mentioned on Twitter, “In the Halloween section, Target tries to pass off what is CLEARLY an Orc Barbarian sword as a ‘Giant Ninja’ sword. I weep for the children.” And early on Saturday morning, Andy Ihnatko posted this to flickr. It’s everything I’ve wanted to say to people who want to join in the fun, but are intimidated (or lazy). Being written by Andy, it’s better than anything I could say. My geeky cyber-heroes, you are gods among men.


I haven’t written in a while. If you’re a regular reader, you’ve already noticed this. Not that my blog was ever “about” anything, but I’ve felt as though I have even less to add these days. I’m picking up the odd design job here and there, and busying myself with jewelry-making in between. I’ve been experimenting with new materials, since, outside of the pet tags, nothing seems particularly popular with the masses. And the dog tags? I don’t make a dime on them. Even if I kept the “profit” portion of their price for myself, it would be tough to live on $2 a month.

My usual flurry of Halloween activity was tempered this year. Halfway through my second costume, I just gave up. I didn’t care about it. I was relieved that I already had one finished, but to be completely honest, that one wouldn’t have come together without the dedicated assistance of Megan doing my hair at the last minute. (I did have a great time helping Megan and Joe decorate for their party, and while I know they think that I was doing them a favor, it is I who really appreciate spending all of those days with them.)

In August, I finally started sewing Butterick 4790. I bunged up my sewing machine, and spent hours/days trying to figure out how to affordably fix it. Finally, with some ingenuity (and a metal kebab skewer) I was able to clear out enough thread from the innards to start sewing again. My (single) costume dress was back on, and it came out rather well if I may say so myself (very forgiving material) but that Walk-Away dress is still unfinished. And will likely remain so. I love the chrysanthemum fabric I chose for the front panel, but I went too cheap on the wrap-around solid, and I just don’t want to work with it. Even if I liked the fabric, I am faced with stitching on 300 yards of bias tape. Ugh.

Yesterday, things were picking up. I successfully made myself a cup of tea, AND drank it before it got cold. I’ve been typing out, longhand, a 13-chapter story, one chapter at a time, for a friend, and I managed to find an entire chapter already online. Copy-and-paste! I finally got myself started with my Blue Book, so I could be an informed voter AND still vote early. The beads that I had ordered specifically for an exclusive bracelet design being sold at an online shop FINALLY came in. I swapped some good email with a potential client, and worked on a business card design for another. I cleaned up a section of the kitchen, which has become my cluttered food-prep-and-jewelry studio.

And then the tape came loose. Megan called. In and of itself, unusual. The middle of the afternoon only made it more so. It turns out that their oldest, tiniest, sweetest cat was sick. Very sick. Always plagued with respiratory issues, Wheezer’s breathing had been getting more labored. She had just taken him into the vet, and some cells had been swabbed for testing. He was scared, not feeling well, test results weren’t back yet, and Megan and her husband were supposed to be leaving for vacation on Friday morning. Assuring them that staying home wouldn’t help our dear fuzzy friend get any better, I agreed to stay with him in their home so he wouldn’t have to be kenneled while they were gone. I was nervous about the possibility of the prognosis being Not Good on my watch, but I love that little guy like my own and there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him (and my friends). Besides, the vet have given three possible diagnoses, so statistically, things would probably be okay. I’d pick up some meds and take care of whatever needed caring.

A few hours later, Joe called, and the bottom fell out. He and Megan had gone back to the vet’s to pick up our little pal, but the vet had assessed the situation with more observation and test results, and my friends had a very difficult decision to make. It wasn’t so much a choice as it was a necessary kindness, but that doesn’t make the pain any easier to swallow.

Too soon, I am again left with a hole in my heart that aches for my friends’ loss, knowing that there isn’t a damn thing I can do. This time, that loss feels more personal, because of the relationship that little Wheezer had with everyone who ever walked into his house. Every person he ever met was his best friend, and possessed his most comfortable lap in which to sleep. His only emotion was contentment. I am consoled by the fact that his last weekend was spent in a houseful of hands ready and willing to pet him, an assortment of laps to test, and that so many people, though they didn’t know it, got a chance to say good-bye. I am glad that I stole a few minutes to laugh and play with him on Friday when I should have been setting up more décor, and glad that he slept at my feet, wheezing of course, when the party was all over.

Wheezer brought love with him wherever he went, and no matter how much he gave away, he always had more. His capacity for love was bigger than his physical size. It filled him, spilled out, and if you sat still long enough, it would fill you, too. I hope I can learn from him.

catching up

It’s been brought to my attention that I haven’t been writing on my regular schedule. My apologies, and thanks for noticing! Here’s a quick rundown:

My cracked tooth was successfully pulled, and did indeed leave a tunnel into my sinus cavity. The surgeon did whatever it was he had to do to fix that (I was sedated and I’m fuzzy on what he explained), and I have spent the last days spending quality time with ice packs, Vicodin, ibuprofen, salt water, and squishy food. I have a follow-up appointment on Tuesday to make sure everything is healing properly, in spite of my sneezing a few days before I was “allowed” to.

I’m back under contract with my ex-employer for another week. Which is great, because I have yet to collect an unemployment check! Colorado makes it hard to actually get that first payout. I have received the paperwork warning me that I have to call and request each payment, and if I call too late, I’ll miss it, but if I call too early, my entire app will be tossed and I’ll have to start over. However, there is no paperwork telling me when it is that I’m supposed to call! Yikes!

I made good progress on Costume One yesterday, and am now done with the sewing portion. I still need to practice hair/makeup, and figure out footwear (the shoes donated by Alison just aren’t what I had in mind), but it’s SO CLOSE. Costume Two got a late start, however, and next weekend will be a flurry of catch-up activity.

Now, back to work!