Monthly Archives: August 2013

Writing Assistant Monday


Two writing assistants are always better than one.

Speaking of writing, I haven’t been doing much of it. But last week I got back a rejection of a poem from Asimov’s and I sent out a short story to Crossed Genres, since they’re doing a YA issue. So there’s been some progress. 

This week I want to tackle a major short story rewrite and maybe start thinking about going back to the novel.

Other goals for the week include writing more blog posts, registering for an audited class at the local Ivy League University, making a couple of crane heads and setting up the new office. Should be doable, yeah?

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A bit of this and that… and a cool crane hat!

So I’ve had a hard time lately finding the energy and drive to do much. Not entirely sure what that’s about, but it’s meant my writing output (both here on the blog and in fiction world) has been nill.

In other news:

I joined the Codex Writers’ Group, an online community of professional writers. You have to meet certain criteria to get in, so that’s kinda cool. I haven’t introduced myself yet, but I’m thinking I’ll do that this morning.

Kyle and I started the Couch to 5K program. I thought it would be good to do something together and I’ve been awful about going to the gym. It’s been a good experience so far (for that one whole week). We go to a local park to run/walk and there are always deer and rabbits. Yesterday we saw a fawn nursing like 10′ away.

We painted the office this past weekend. Finally! It’s now a cool grey and once I get the new shelving we bought off of Craigslist and things moved in, I’ll post the “after” pictures.

A good friend of mine recently took a job at the theatre I work for. She arrived in town this week with her boyfriend, who I hadn’t met yet. We’ve had a nice few days getting to know him and exploring and cooking together.

I made monster cookies the other week.

…I really don’t have much to share…

Oh! Except: I get to do this super cool project at work. I’ve never done anything like it, so this week I get to make little mock-ups to test out different products. I’m ridiculously excited.


As it is, the head is too heavy, so it’s straining the actress’s neck muscles, so the goal is to make it lighter. I’m going to be doing a foam version with various coatings and a moldable heat-sheet version with other coatings to see which will suit us best.

These sorts of projects are why I do what I do. I love the problem solving. I love that it’s different and weird. And I extra love that the milliner didn’t want it, so that I (usually just the painter-dyer) could do it. Although, she’s often cool about sharing the fun/pretty craft projects with me.

I’ll try to remember to take pictures of the process of building the small versions.

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jb’s Thoughts on Boot Camp

jb’s Thoughts on Boot Camp

If anyone comes to this blog, looking for info on whether or not Orson Scott Card’s Literary Boot Camp is worth going to (or what it’s like), please head over and check out JB Warren’s summary of the week. She summarizes pretty much perfectly in one long-ish post what I tried to cover (with very low levels of success) for an entire week. 

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Cleaning Costume Stock

Last year in my first week of work I met Christopher Durang (!), David Hyde Pierce (one of my first crushes), and Sigourney Weaver.

This year, I’ve been cleaning. And cleaning. And cleaning. The first show is small and the last show of last year was hectic to say the least, so things are seriously messy. Top off that chaos with a massive leak in costume storage (possible the worst place to have a leak in the entire building) and we’ve got a lot of cleaning to keep us busy.

Dress up at work

Who says cleaning and restocking isn’t glamorous?

I know it’s important, I know it is, but… but…

Anyway. Eventually, in a week or so, the cleaning will be behind me and I’ll get my hands on fabric and straw and foam and paint. There are some really, really cool projects lining up already this year. I can’t wait to get to that point.

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Stress Dreams

Do you guys have stress dreams? I do. A lot. .Though they’re generally during tech of a show or when I’m insanely busy. Sometimes they’re even helpful because I will be patterning or how to put something together in my dream and it’ll actually be a good solution. Often the dream itself doesn’t make me feel stress, I just know I’m having them because I am stressed.

But I don’t generally have them when not much is going on like, say, last night.

Last night I dreamt I was back at Literary Boot Camp and I had to write a second short story. Only this time around, I didn’t have the day off to do it. I only had the evenings; a few hours here and there. This was on top of the first story and during the same week. I woke up nearly panicked.

But then I took a breath, got up and read my emails, where one of my fellow boot campers had replied with feedback to a story I had sent him. It began with praise for my dialogue (and a request for more), which was a much nicer beginning to the day.

Now off to work…today I get to reorganize and clean shoe storage! My life is so glamourous.

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Another Openin’

15 minutes from now, Hamlet will be open. I have two days of summertime left before the day job starts back up.

And what am I doing with my fading rays of summer sun? Shoe shopping. Sort of.

I used to have a tradition to get myself a new piece of clothing or accessory on every opening night. After all, I wasn’t an actress– I didn’t normally receive flowers for opening night, and I figured there should be more of a celebration than just having a few drinks with the people you’ve just spent an 80-hour week with. And so, I bought something (usually shiny). There were only two rules to the opening night “gift”:

1) It couldn’t be something I would normally buy myself.

2) I had to love it.

I still have all of the pieces I bought. Skirts and jewelry and funky scarves. I wear most of them very rarely (if at all). Sometimes, maybe ironically, I wear them to opening nights. They tend to be fancy. But even though they rarely come out, I still love each piece. And not just for the memories–but because they’re really, really cool.

Maybe because they’re the sorts of things my alter-ego would wear? They’re often too flashy, too gaudy for my everyday, practical (maybe a bit boring?) self.

Somewhere along the line I left behind the tradition. Probably when Kyle was in grad school and we were poor. Maybe when I started having 10+ opening nights a year instead of only 3 or 4. Either way, it’s not a celebration I practice anymore. But sometimes, when I’m bored and have time, and it’s right around an opening, I’ll toy with the idea of starting back up the opening night tradition for myself.

Today I found myself, between errands and cleaning the house, surfing Amazon and Zappos and Modcloth, looking at all the really cool (sometimes hipster) footwear I would never, ever buy.

These are the shoes I found that I love:

Would you have guessed this is what I’d pick?

Don’t ask me to explain why I love them. I have no idea. They’re gaudy and a little bit ugly and a whole lot of way too much, but I think they’re great. (It might help that they’re peacocks, which are unlucky/forbidden in theatre and thus, one of my favorite motifs ever…that whole forbidden fruit thing…)

I also found two different pair of really cool Cinderella shoes (because once the designer brain is turned on, it takes awhile to shut back down):

For the most stylish Cinderella evah.

Would these make the cutest teenage hipster Cinderella shoes ever?

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Getting Dressed for Tech

Getting everyone in costumes for the first time is always my favorite part of tech. Always. Whether on the little shows, when I’m the designer, or on the biggest shows when I’m a lowly dresser.

There’s always giddy, happy energy and manageable chaos. I’m quite fond of manageable chaos, when I know what’s going on. Getting dressed for the first time is not nearly as enjoyable if I don’t know what’s happening.

Usually, the stage manager schedules what feels like 10 minutes to get ready (almost always it’s really more like the standard 1/2 hour call). This morning, heeding my advice we got a whole hour set aside for the actors to get into costumes at the top of day. And wouldn’t you know it? Everyone was done in 30 minutes, guaranteeing that this stage manager will never set aside such a large block of time to get ready, ever. (I’m sorry for this cast’s efficiency, future costume designers!)

But, they’re all dressed. And they look freaking awesome. High Schooler Hamlet may be my favorite design that I’ve ever done. I lurves it.

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Writing Assistant Monday


Yes, I know she matches the couch.

I wrote and scheduled these posts back in July. By the time this one posts I will be done and home from Literary Boot Camp, moving immediately on to tech of Hamlet, my brother will have turned 27 and I will be one week away from starting back to full time work. Whew. Time flies.

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Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp: Day 6. The end.

And…it’s over. I’m home. I’m completely and utterly exhausted, completely useless to Kyle who wants to get things done around the house and do grocery shopping and have actual conversations. I’ve got nothing for him.

Sunrise coming into the landing at JFK.

Sunrise coming into the landing at JFK.

Part of it is that I took the red eye back to NJ and I am a bad sleeper on planes, so I’ve gotten almost no sleep. (Word to the wise: If you’re reading this someday as research, trying to decide if you want to go and/or how it’s all going to go down–fly back the next day if you can. When I left people were still talking, and we didn’t get a lot of time to socialize. I would’ve loved an extra evening with no deadlines to get to know people better.)

Not the most flattering picture of me, but the fact that we took a selfie makes me laugh.

Not the most flattering picture of me, but the fact that we took a selfie makes me laugh.

Yesterday was by far my favorite day of the experience, I think because it was the only day we really had time to chat AND because we were all so exhausted that we were punchy as hell. We laughed together a lot, confirming for me what I had been suspecting: I really, REALLY like my fellow boot campers. Not only are they clever and good writers, but they’re funny. And they all seem to be genuinely good people. I can’t wait to see where their careers go.

Uncle Orson's Literary Boot Camp, class of 2013. Yawning.

Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp, class of 2013. Yawning.

We took pictures at the end of the day. There was some poor schmuck who was sitting in the lobby who took one on something like 8 different devices. Ridiculous. Mine was the last and we wanted something different, so we decided to do one that showed what boot camp was really about: being exhausted. When I first saw it I was disappointed that it’s blurry, but on second examination, I think it’s a pretty accurate representation. Being fuzzy and tired were a HUGE part of boot camp, especially toward the end.

Now…back to real life. Tech for Hamlet starts tomorrow!!

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Uncle Orson’s Literary Boot Camp: Day 5

Yesterday was a long, but lovely, day of critiquing. I don’t have a lot to say about it because there was not really a single part of the day was about me. Since I had already gone, I didn’t have anything at stake. Which was the best part of it.  Since I wasn’t nervous about my own performance, I paid attention better to everyone else’s.

It may have been my favorite day of the entire process. Over and over again I was astounded by what my fellow boot campers came up with, usually things that I completely missed during my own first read through of a story. They’re brilliant and funny. My sincerest hope is that we all stay in touch, because even though I still don’t feel like I know many of them personally (we’ve all been rather too busy to get to know one another), I do think if we continue to sharpen and critique each other we can help each other toward amazing writing careers.

Or at least, they can help me. I hope my critiques have been useful too. I don’t know I guess.

Today is the last day, which is good. Yesterday I wasn’t ready for it to be over. This morning I know that I couldn’t possibly absorb anymore. It’s all been too intense. Too much.

We have 3 more critiques to read and a Q&A (hopefully) afterward. Then it’s off to the airport and eventually home to Kyle. I’m ready to be home, and to focus on costuming again for awhile.

If this week has taught me little else, it’s that I need both of these careers. I need to work with my hands. I need to get out of my own head sometimes and away from reading and writing sometimes. It can just be too much to absorb. I stop being able to think about things.

And, with costuming, you walk away in the end KNOWING that you’ve made something really cool (or not). For me, writing is never that certain. 

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