I could tell you how I’m doing, how Japan is doing, but who is really in that mood?
So, lets get some visuals going.
I started really learning how to put on makeup at age 28 for my first dance performances. There was a learning curve.
My skin is clear so I’d never done much except a dramatic lip here, some mascara and eye shadow there, and called it a day.
I now have a solid stash of make-up, brushes, and skills when it comes to making a performance face.
And now I have time.
Towards the start of Coronavirus I was listening to a lot of the “You Must Remember This” about Hollywood in it’s first century. Enter Theda Bara.
No…That’s Marilyn Monroe AS Theda…
THAT’S Theda. Our first screen vamp and perhaps the first actor to really play with the media about how the studio’s script about who she was wasn’t really who she was…or was it?
I was struck with the fact that while Theda’s jawline isn’t exactly like mine, her eyes and nose weren’t that different. And, she’s got the make-up of many an Edward Gorey illustration, and I am more than a little influenced by that man.
So day one of start inspiration brings you… me inspired by Theda!
And….me overly dramatic as Theda
So, as we’re all feeling a bit…
I’m here, playing with the things I can control. I study, work out and am prepping dance lessons for on-line, make things and play with brushes.
What do you wear when it’s time to take the train into Tokyo to sign a work contract and you know that Japan is not socially distancing?
I’ve made many styles of mask but by now there are 20 times the online tutorials that there were towards the end of February when I first made one. There are ample places to get that info.
Today at the company office I entertained a handful of “OMG did you make your mask?!” which, if they noticed my matching shirt (and how could they not?), means they also wondered “Are matching button-up shirts and masks now commercially available?”
Nowadays everything seems simultaneously possible and impossible.
Let’s skip back a few days.
Shortly after my post, March 24th, about having found a job for the next school year came the family reactions to the news, most noteworthy being my mom’s.
My mother is strong. She’s a whole universe to me. When she’s scared…it’s not something I can handle.
When the texts reminding me that she had started restricting early because I had worried…they hit hard. Reminders that neither of us live somewhere where we should trust the government to be honest…yeah
They also gave me flashbacks to 3/11 Tohoku/Fukushima. Things like panic buying have reminded me of those days…but just reading my mother’s stress brought me back to her tired and crying face on Skype in those days. The emotional return to a time I wrote extensively about and then tucked away.
By 4am I was ready to accept financial help, study Japanese online, turn down my job offer, and live in a bunker for the forseable future.
I was also ready to jog because it was 4am and I hadn’t and couldn’t sleep. A few minutes into jogging a blister made me aware that jogging wasn’t a possibility and I’d just have to be awake with my thoughts. Screw you, feet.
I slept from 5-7am. I made a few dramatic LINE texts to friends about my plans to give up work and be a studying hermit… which might violate my visa..yeah. They asked reasonable questions.
I started to focus again and remind myself:
You have two hours of sleep.
You are emotionally exhausted and overwhelmed.
You have ADHD.
Those things combined are a recipe for making impulsive emotional decisions. The sort of flamethrower decisions that burn away all other options, leaving you no other path but the one you were sure was THE ONLY CHOICE…and no way to retreat. I know. That’s how I once rolled all the time.
I told myself :
No. Decisions. Are. Being. Made. Today.
I contacted the company office to move the contract signing from that day to Friday…and to discuss a bit about their plans if COVID19 shuts down Tokyo (because really, how can it not?).
I believe that there are going to be huge changes between now and two weeks away when I’m slated to start being in classes.
I video chatted with my mother.
Mom had also lost house wifi during all of this and had only her phone…which wasn’t adding to a sense of security. We figured out a usable app for her not-apple phone and just video talked. It was good.
Going forward near daily videochats will be essential. We’re both more rational when we can see and hear each other and know the other isn’t being reckless.
I’d go ahead with my job and contract signing. I’d accept financial help so we could both know that if things got scary I could drop my job. I’d check in more regularly.
Then there was a whole day of “do I nap or power through?”
I’ve had so many days this week of bad sleep and naps to help offset it that I knew I couldn’t rely on naps to reset me.
Instead I stayed awake and busy. I listened to podcasts and youtube advice about ADHD and sleep issues.
I’ve had lifelong sleep issues. I have medication but it can only keep me under for about 4 hours.
Everything about sleep habits always screams “USE THE BED FOR BED THINGS ONLY AND DON’T USE ELECTRONICS IN BED.” and I always say “THAT MAKES SENSE” and then watch tv on my computer from bed and “sleep” with my smart phone next to me.
I’ve moved a very comfortable chair, one of two, from my sewing room (where it never gets used) to my bedroom to create a “cozy electronics nook”.
It took some testing and additional pillows to make it both slumptastic and useable as a chair if I actually want to type.
I’m trying to train myself when the impulse comes to flop on the bed and check my smartphone to get my butt in this chair instead. I’m also trapping my phone over here at night, out of bed reach, and going back to reading printed books as a bed wind-down.
It’s gone well for 2 days but….we’ll see.
Ready for more video chats with friends. We both are.
General JinJur is quite a hit during video chats. She and I are about to have our birthdays in April…so I switched my journal temporarily from Plague Motif to Hedgehogs and Birthdays.
I’m also starting a page of tracking my sleep times and notes. I have a notebook by my bed to write both sleep and wake times (before charting them) AND so that if a thought wakes me up at night I can write it down and move it to morning instead of fixating on it.
Last night I woke up around 3am and, instead of trying to follow through on the thoughts that popped into my head, I wrote them down. Can you figure out the difference between my awake-wearing glasses handwriting and my 3am handwriting?
I can actually read that but I assure you that in the light of day it it was an idiotic idea not worth following through on.
I’m also taking down notes to figure out a bedtime routine (when to dim lights, what pattern to stick to to remind my body it’s wind-down time).
What are you doing to help yourself sleep in these uncertain times.
As an elementary school English teacher employed by a dispatch company in Japan, March always involves a dip in work and pay for me.
This year has been a whole ‘nother experience.
My contract year and the days I had to show up to school ended March 10th, although my actual classes ended in February 28 due to Covid19. A few days before the contract ended I learned that the company I work for had lost the contract for the city I worked in..and didn’t have any cities near me they could shift me into.
Next school year starts April 1st. Japan is still planning on it starting…but then again in Japan people are still going to cherry blossom parties and Prime Minister Abe is JUUUST starting to admit that maaaaaaaybe the Olympics won’t happen this year…but the Gov. of Tokyo wants to declare a lock down. It’s all complicated. I think Japan is in denial.
I’ve had the insanity of being an asthmatic social distancing myself when it feels like so few other in this country are people are… while also making sure I’m employed the next coming school year…even though I think that the school year maybe shouldn’t start.
All while trying to get more organized through the filter of knowing I have ADHD and need new skills, at a time my days and nights all blend together in mostly emptiness.
My family back home is taking precautions. I would often travel to see them this time of year but..well..I can’t do that during a job hunt and the end of the world. I worry about them. I really do.
In the last 48 hours I’ve turned down a job, thought I had another job, lost that job, applied for different jobs, and accepted a job offer from my previous company now that they’ve had an opening that’s…not near me but not worse than last year?
And there have been tears.
My friend Ebony works in a preschool. Her school isn’t public so she’s been at work this whole time. Things have been rough on her. We have texted dailyl
One thing I’ve been able to feel great about is that I finished a surprise gift for Ebony and sent it to her home..and she got it and cried.
This is what we do now, we cry. We all cry a lot because there’s just so much to be overwhelmed by.
This is what she opened:
I didn’t take enough in progress photos, sorry.
That’s a Frankie Stien Monster High doll as Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas…but I think you knew that.
The process started before I had an airbrush so I had to sand and build up the color of the doll (Frankie is more light greenish blue than blue) with chalk pastels and layers of fixative. And then I had to pencil in her seams.
You can see the color difference clearing in this shot of the finished body and the head (uncolored) after I’d rooted it with brushed acrylic yarn.
But this time I had an airbrush to get the base color down for the face before painting.
With the dress, this was my first time using acrylic paints, thinned with a textile medium, to create the whole dress pattern.
I made a base dress from white cotton. Then I painted in the color patches. Once dried I used a permanent fine-line marker for details. Finally I over-stitched sections with black thread and added a stitched on patch for depth.
For all the turmoil…and stillness…the last few weeks have contained…I have brought some joy to someone.
I have also been making progress in organizing my projects, tasks, life and daily needs in a bullet journal….figuring that a system developed by a designer with ADHD might be a good fit for me, and so far it is.
Tonight, I get to rest. Knowing that I do have a job come April…I really do..so long as school is a thing. If school isn’t a thing for a while, I have a safety net.
There is much to worry about…but I’m getting out of bed everyday and doing…somethings. I hope you are too.
I’ve got object permanence. I’m a big girl. But when it comes to stored items my working memory is faulty.
If I haven’t drilled the idea that this object always goes there (an opaque location I can’t see it into) for a good duration of time then placing any objects out of clear sight is an effective way for me to lose them.
Yesterday evening tackled some of my doll craft space to solve the problem of my acrylic paints.
You might be thinking, that’s fine. And it is. I’m never going to put everything in a specific order. I’m just gonna look and grab.
These makeup holders are the perfect dimensions for this volume of paint…but over time I’ve amassed some artists gauche and let’s look how those fit.
Oh, they fit fine but there is no information on the top-most part to indicate what color the paint is. If I fill this rack like that I’m doomed to constantly emptying and looking for colors…as I have been doing for half a year.
My solution was to cut a long strip of paper and paint a sample color from each tube onto it. After the samples dried I cut them and used scotch tape to attach each one to its tube.
I labeled the caps of identical containers of paint thinners and glosses. This is also how my spice drawer works. Identical containers, each labeled, I can visually scan from above.
That’s my tiny fix for today. My space is in progress.
My friends know this: my love of Mari Kondo (known here as KonMari) the writer of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying-Up, is deep and unshakable.
Many of my friends have also known this: if I am hyper-focused on organizing to the detriment of other aspects of my life it might be a sign of my anxiety ramping up prior to a depressive crash.
Now we can add this layer to those knowns: I am an adult woman with ADHD and, like others of my ilk, I have a life-long complex relationship with the concept, and execution of, Being Organized.
Yup. My mental clinic doc agrees: ADHD. However, Japan has a difficult historical relationship with medical stimulants so there are only two available choices for ADHD: Concerta and Strattera. Ritalin exists in Japan but can only be prescribed for narcolepsy, it’s prohibited to prescribe it for the treatment of ADHD. My doc is wary of prescribing either of these due to the common side effects of nausea, loss of appetite, and sleep issues. For now I work on behavior modification and knowing this new part of me I’ve lived with all my life.
Back to my BFF, KonMari.
I’ve never viewed her as someone denying me things. I’ve never cast her as a bringer of stoic minimalism set on banishing my joy.
To me she’s one of Pee-Wee’s Playhouse friends we just never got around to meeting. Pee-wee, like me, enjoys joyous objects. He’s filled his playhouse with them. Like me, he thrives with some structure….I don’t wear only out outfit but I get the uniform impulse…but I don’t get the sense that he’s the sort of guy who came to organization naturally.
Thus, he had a KonMari somewhere who helped him learn how to organize his house, understand the feelings he has about each item in the place (like KonMari he’s literally speaking to his objects… although they answer verbally instead of having to spark joy) and not get overwhelmed. KonMari and PeeWee are friends. Friends of PeeWee are friends of mine. Period. Fight me on this.
I’m not alone in the ADHD world of having INTENSE FEELINGS about KonMari, positive and negative, a fact I’ve learned from scanning ADHD podcasts.
It’s time for me to glance back at KonMari through my emerging understanding of adult ADHD to see how my love of her is part of my neurological makeup.
First and foremost: Unchecked ADHD creates clutter. Let’s take that as a given instead of diving into how and why.
Fact: I create clutter and confusion. As a child it was rampant and as an adult I’ve got a lot of coping mechanisms for wrangling it when it’s reached certain levels…but I’m usually wrangling my chaos and very rarely just entering, functioning in, and leaving an area without MUCH WRANGLING.
My adult life has been one of actively looking for more answers to corralling object chaos. KonMari was just one of many things I looked into, but she was the first to really help make a large difference in my life…and keep me away from the cycle of trying and failing at the latest organizing trick…and disliking myself for my failure
Difficulty in prioritizing and properly sequencing steps in achieving anything is part of ADHD.
Knowing what step to take first is hard. Knowing what a finished step looks like is hard. Understanding the progression the steps must take….(brain shuts down)
This is an accurate graph of my mind starting on most things.
(Collect Underpants -> ??? -> Profits!!! Meme)
KonMari doesn’t take any chances.
She has steps. Lots of them. There is an order to those steps. She explains why that order is there. She explains why the steps yo’ve been told to use before aren’t going to work. She keeps reminding you that the order of the steps and doing the steps right is essential. There are clear steps.
For some people this is probably patronizing. I needed this.
People with ADHD are often afflicted with Time Blindness.
This is hard for an outsider to grasp. The idea that uninteresting tasks feel like they take longer and that interesting tasks create a time bubble where three hours can pass unnoticed is fairly universal. Everyone accepts it as facts.
But with ADHD that feeling isn’t limited to the extremes of interest and disinterest. It’s a constant expanding and constricting of time calibrated to the smallest fluctuations of thought and mood. It’s a time accordion given to a small child who isn’t losing interest in the squeeze box anytime soon.
It creates very real problems with estimating time. Period. How long will this take? How long have I been doing this? What time is it?
This problem is one I’m working on currently with a stopwatch and notes. Fun.
Attached to time blindness (when it’s not a known issue) are the feelings of shame and failure at not having managed time correctly…again.
KonMari tells you right off that there’s no way to estimate how long this will take. This undertaking will vary wildly. There are no estimated times to fail at meeting. There are just the steps.
She notes that things will look extra out of control for a while, because everything is out of hiding and can’t be ignored , but that’s a sign of the process and the steps being done, not a sign of failure. Adhere to the steps.
The wells of shame an adult woman with undiagnosed ADHD contains feel bottomless.
I’m immature. How can I be an adult and still like this? I’m lazy. Other people can do these things. I’m an imposter. The better I hide my true self the further I shall fall when it is revealed.
This is our soundtrack.
Confronting things we’ve failed at in the past, like being organized or cleaning our kitchen, increases the volume of this soundtrack.
This soundtrack gets even louder when we simply think about starting something perceived as difficult, increasing our distance from executive function and tying us tighter to procrastination (our most successful relationship ever).
KonMari has ways of addressing our shame…and a lot of them get called “woo woo”
Do I want to thank the items I’m getting rid of? No. I feel foolish.
But she’s right, I do feel shame about how much I’ve accumulated. I feel guilt about what I have and haven’t done with those things: the hopes they represented and how I felt they would define a future me.
So I have to find a way to process that shame. To look at something that cues up my soundtrack and not say “I failed” and instead say “I’ve learned from you. You taught me this isn’t where my priorities are. Thank you.”
“You brought the thrill of perceived change to me, thank you.”
“I wanted you to be part of my life but it’s not working. We deserve better. Thank you. Onward to your new life.”
Shame doesn’t just evaporate. you need to find ways to process it. Transform it. Bleed it off a bit.
If talking to objects gets me to process my feelings…and it did…I’ll do it.
I’ll procrastinate a bit but I’ll do it.
People with ADHD are very visual and as such we can be overwhelmed by visual clutter.
KonMari removing extra labels from boxes as not to be assaulted by too many words in a pantry or medical cabinet. Oh, I SEE you.
KonMari simultaneously suggesting we can line our closets and storage spaces with feel-good geeky images that we wouldn’t want on our main walls despite the fact this might count to some people as visual clutter. Oh, I SEE you too.
And I am seen.
I REALLY need places to be tidy and run on schedule. I can’t handle outside unnecessary clutter and disorganization throwing me off course because I’m expending so much energy just existing an staying focused.
I mean this only for places I need to do things in (home, class, workplace). I don’t care if I visit people who have messy houses.
KonMari: I get that…but if it’s not your space you can’t expend energy on it. Focus on your own things and place and stop trying to change others, you’ll only mess up interpersonal relationships that way.
Me: Buuuut I’m hyper focused on it and it’s driving me crazy and.
KonMari: Nope. Fix yourself. Know what your space is. Define it. Set it up. Defend the boundaries of your space. Let the world beyond that fall into chaos. It’s ok. you are master of your space and your space only. Now, please, go talk to those shoes you don’t wear.
She speaks to me and now I’m better understanding why and how.
I was resistant to getting an airbrush because I had an attitude about airbrushes.
That attitude comes from my “foundation year”(fancy term for freshman year) at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design and the general disregard held for airbrushes there.
Not that some students didn’t have them and use them. This was never more obvious than on Halloween when some lazy art dudes who hadn’t given thought to their costumes (art school Halloween costumes are serious business) would go over to an airbrush-having student (usually “Sham” and his roomie) before the parties and get their torsos and faces sprayed to resemble skeletons: pathetic, half-dressed, slacker skeletons ready to get sloppy drunk. That’s what I think of when I think airbrushes, drunk skeletons who couldn’t be bothered.
It would take a few years before we would all come together against a common Halloween enemy: Don and his damned Edward Scissorhands costume. Sure, it was great….the first year…but the way he’d use it to win Milwaukee bar costume contests every damned year for the next four years wasn’t.
We were sick of that costume and sick of him.
He was a wanker. He’d eventually become an official Utilikilt vender for the North Pacific and move to Portland to sculpt and weld things and claim he’d always been named Gustav Sculptor.
I had a buddy who worked at a Milwaukee’s Grand Avenue Mall t-shirt kiosk our first year at MIAD. He had flashbacks when I recently mentioned online I was looking at airbrushes.
We didn’t have dorms. We all just lived in downtown Milwaukee. Just responsible freshmen art students in apartments with leases, what could go wrong? (so much) The following year the school had dorms but by then no one wanted to give up the freedom …except Don, because being a RA to young impressionable incoming freshman was his kinda thing…wanker
My airbrush working buddy had an apartment with a bunch of other art student dudes who discussed which Young Ones archetype they fit. It was an apartment complex full of similarly filled apartments. The Apartment complex itself was named after Alexander Comstock who would not have approved of the shenanigans within. Airbrush Buddy and Co’s apartment was a place with nasty but loved couches where you’d find yourself sitting in the evening drinking beer, watching STNG, and not doing your art homework.
One of his roommates also worked in the airbrush-shirt kiosk. I remember them complaining about the pushback they’d get from refusing to do gang symbols and the customers who would demand that they make the already painted bunnies cuter…or that the example t-shirt had seven purple balloons in the bunny’s hand and theirs only had six and was this a rip off or what?!? (Drink)
Sweet Baby Stevus, when looking for a picture of the Comstock I found listings that included pictures of the interior and I swear to god the kitchen fixtures ( and fillings ) haven’t changed since 1994. The only thing missing is there is no keg in this picture.
So, prior to dolls, airbrushes were a source of contempt and stress in my mind: Drunk slacker skulls and bunnies that were never cute enough.
Then I learned that airbrushes are pretty much the best way to change the color of a doll’s body and head and I started looking at them, casually.
Hey, hey baby.
This year, facing the stress maybe changing jobs, I started looking again at them…
I didn’t get the job I wanted. Again. I got a letter telling me “you’re not our first choice but if anyone drops you’re on our waitlist”…which is why I simultaneously tell people not to panic about Covid-19 while also privately hoping whatever applicants got that job freak out about it and flee the country before the next school year starts
l’d been eyeing airbrushes on Mercari, hoping to buy one as an “I got the job” me-gift . I instead bought one as a “Nope, didn’t get it” gift…and shortly after declared this the YEAR OF DOLLS OR ART.
In fact I got a whole bunch of stuff all from one seller.
Tamiya spray booth, two Tamiya/Procon boy airbrushes, a MR. LINEAR L3compressor, that little moisture regulator, stands, and things to attach things and spray them and rotate them with, original instructions (Japanese) all at once for under 200usd which has turned out to be a great deal.
And then I had to wait to play with them for a week and a half while prepping for studio stuff.
This gave me time to watch airbrush videos…and time to get over the culture shock of watching airbrush videos.
I’m so accustomed to doll videos: lilting female voices (sometimes with Eastern European accents), colorful, time lapse photography and calming background music, well edited and containing helpful voice overs when needed.
Airbrush: Dudes who still used the term NOOBS, heavy metal font, sometimes barebones video editing and a lot of ambient sounds.
They’re just so much more aggressive. I don’t think I’m used to men telling me how to do things as much as I used to be…I bellydance, work in an elementary school where all the head teachers and principals are women, and I do a lot of traditionally female DIY craft.
With the studio show over I’ve had time to play a bit. As some of what I need an airbrush for is matching and changing skin tones, I’ll often be best off mixing acrylic colors and thinning them instead of using fume-laden lacquers.
with acrylics I’ve painted the ears I made for a 17inch Clawdeen Wolf ages ago (to become a taller Starfire) the seam in front will be further hidden under her hair
I know I’ll have to sit down and do some practicing lines and hand-eye co-ordination at some point…although most of the time I’ll be just turning something a different color. I think.
I also cleaned up a Pullip in progress, this time with Mr. Hobby Acrylic Laquers. I’m making a Pris from Bladerunner and doing her face in chalk pastels resulted in too much pigment fallout, it got muddy, so I removed all my work and hit it with the airbrush last night. Tonight I’m layering it with Mr.Super Clear so I can add details.
And that’s how I’m currently learning to love my airbrush and leave the bunnies and skeletons (and wankers) behind.
In case you’re confused, the left is mini-me (in a mask I just made her so she doesn’t worry) and the right is me-me at work on the last day Japanese students attended all classes.
I’m not overly worried about coronavirus/covid-19. I wash my hands, have my hand sanitizer, stopped biting my nails last year, and am generally prepared for contagions because I’m an asthmatic who works with elementary school kids. Kids are nasty.
Despite not being worried about it, Covid-19 is impacting my life and the lives of those around me.
Japanese public schools, which generally end their school year mid-march, are now closed from March 2nd to April. That news broke on Thursday night, while I was teaching dance, and I was inundated with texts.
Friday I headed to school in the morning unsure of if I would be required to attend school until March 10th (like many teachers will be). It also only dawned on me on the morning train that I probably wouldn’t simply be teaching six periods of English classes as planned on Friday. English is far less important than wrapping up EVERYTHING. Sure enough, the cancellations rolled in shortly after I arrived.
It was amazing that I did teach one 3rd grade class. The students and teacher appreciated a return to singing songs and clapping.
We don’t know if the 6th graders will get a graduation ceremony at this rate. The second half of Friday at school featured a last minute “goodbye party” for them. Usually there is a large, school-wide assembly where each grade performs a song/dance/skit/thank you for the outgoing 6th graders. The out-going 6th graders thank each grade and encourage them.
it was planned for next week but was quickly moved. Instead of having the whole school in the gym. The 6th graders stayed in the gym and each grade came to separately present their performances….getting hand-sprayed with sanitizer going in and exiting the gym.
I was lucky to be able to watch it all. It’s hard to put into words how goddamned adorable and amusingly costumed this yearly event it.
Also, I was going crazy with the doing nothing. I’d packed up and organized the English room and had taught my only class. I still didn’t know if I’d have to take all my belongings home that day.
With 30 minutes left on the work clock I learned that English assitants (me) and IT staff will be attending student-less schools until the end of our contracts. I guess the English room will get more posters!
Disneyland and Disney Sea will be closed for at least two weeks, so my commute to no-student school might be less crazy each morning and afternoon (we’re one train stop away from the Disneys).
I’ve started to wear masks at school and one public transport. Not that I think it helps much, but I realize it will make others around me less worried.
And maybe the train sign will stop talking to me.
I also have a homemade mask and will make more. In part because, yes, if you don’t have a school providing you with masks…they’ve been sold out at stores for WEEKS.
The bags under my eyes aren’t from worry. That’s just how I look at 6:30 am Friday after work + three dance lessons on Thursday.
Also, there were false rumors on social media about all paper products in Japan coming from China and thus shipping won’t happen and we’re about to face a paper-product shortage.
This is untrue because most of the pulp used to produce paper products here is from here…Japan.
It’s also now sort of true because, thanks to people freaking out, there’s no toilet paper to be bought anymore. I have a stockpile of tissue because of allergies so I’m safe.
Hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol is also scarce…but I work with kids AND made a fair amount of my own cleaning products so I have enough rubbing alcohol to add to distilled water/glycerine and maybe some aloe-gel as a base..to continue to fill my own containers…on top of regular hand washing. Wash them hands, folks. WASH THEM.
If I were in a more precarious head space the empty aisles would probably give me 3/11 Earthquake flashbacks. As it is they just annoy me.
So, that’s why my doll now has a mask.
I figure I can use some of the time going crazy with nothing to do at work to better research the Japanese terminology around ADHD for my March 6th appointment.
I’d sort of hoped wouldn’t fall into the “must come to work” category and could start playing with the airbrush I now have…but going crazy at work has the advantage of a paycheck.
By the time the night before the studio anniversary show rolled around I felt like I’d been altering costumes forever, before even tackling my own.
It wasn’t forever but I had altered three costumes for my dance partner and had a student who’d bought her first ever costume. It was new to her but previously owned and..well..WORN.
My students had been worried about finding any costume because she’s chubby by local sizes and already had a lot of insecurity around showing her body. I wanted it to be as fixed up as possible so she could enjoy wearing it and focus on her dancing. For three lessons she’d bring her costume, and before and after the lesson, I’d see what work was to be done. Each time I did a fair amount of sewing to show how to do the work (explaining sewing and alterations purely verbally to someone who doesn’t sew is hard enough in one’s own language, I didn’t think it was worth it to try) and send her home with more pins in her costume.
On the eve of the show I had to make sure that I had a costume that would complement my dance partner’s choice for our duet. She still can’t locate her duet costume so she’d be wearing another bra/belt I made in 2006 that she now owns. Luckily I’d made that costume for myself, in colors I know work for my completion, and had other handmade choices in similar colorways.
My bra/belt from 2007 would work. It’s an example of me playing with layers of plastic lamp-fringe, ribbon, and Kuchi jewelry embellishments to make a light-weight, quick-to-sew, “Tribaret” (tribal-inspired cabaret) costume, the sort I used to wear more often.
It still fits but the bra edge has always been a bit shallow so I added to the cups on Saturday night. The edge looks floppy here but when filled with cleavage it does the job.
The show opened it’s doors at noon, a lunchtime block, so I had to be there in make-up by 10:30. Well, I didn’t officially have to be there in make-up…but when you know a place is going to be crowded with dancers getting ready, probably poorly lit, without enough mirrors it’s best to come made up.
A student show isn’t a place to spend time doing my own face anyways. My job before a student show is to have supplies on hand to add MORE make-up to student faces: add highlights here, a pop of color there, help with false eyelashes until everyone feels lovely and confident.
Then, after we’ve checked blocking and made sure everyone knows the schedule, where to enter and exit the stage and such, I run around with safety pins double-checking the fit of everyone’s costumes.
It’s only after that when I can catch up with the other teachers, my dance partner, our guest musicians/dancers and such…and then worry about my own costumes.
The first set I watched my students perform my veil choreography and then got ready with my student of 8+ years, Yuko, and Jnana (a former student and now teacher) for my Turkish Roma choreography. My skirt, vest, and belt are all self-made.
Second set meant changing for my duet (and unfortunately missing other students who were performing a finger cymbal choreography I taught in a workshop last year) and performing with H.
The final set I could get back into quirky teacher garb and just enjoy.
Here I am heading back to my home with two bouquets of flowers from students and peers.
On the train home there were a groups of JR school girls on some sort of team low-key freaking out about me. I tried to ask why (in Japanese), they then asked me if I was Japanese and I replied that I’m American and they squealed more and I didn’t ask anything else.
The last time I encountered a similar reaction, and pushed for an answer, it turned out to be girls who thought I was a Tokyo Disneyland/Disney Sea face character actor getting off my shift. It’s not a crazy assumption to make on the train line that serves both parks…except that time I wasn’t one of Ariel’s sisters, I was just in very tropical dance face.
This time, if that’s what they thought, I can only wonder if they thought…
Last night and tonight’s art is dance and altering dance costumes.
I’ve confirmed that my health clinic treats ADHD as well as anxiety/depression, but my next appointment is still a week and a half away.
As much as I want to I can’t drop everything and deep dive into ADHD learning right now. And I want to. Oh when I want to do something boy do I want to.
The current priorities are: I’m wrapping up third/last semester at school. This involves a lot of lesson plans, busy days, shifting schedules.
Studio 10th year anniversary show this Sunday.
Last night, after work, I went to the studio to rehearse with my dance partner/ friend/ studio owner, H.
Reading how ADHD presents in adult women hasn’t simply meant that I’ve seen >me< on the pages. H and I are very similarly wired but where we differ has always been a source of stress.
I am punctual. I have clocks in every room and make full use of kitchen timers to stay on track. I religiously use the train schedule app on my phone.
If kept waiting once I’ve made it somewhere, I become a fidgety mess. I can’t just wait. This is why I often pack projects and extra distractions.
H is habitually late. She has great difficulty estimating time and distance.
She’s gotten better about alerting me that she will be late, instead of just being tardy and then apologizing.
I’ve also learned that sending her a text message about 1-2 hours before we meet, that’ says I’m looking forward to seeing her at (time and place) is helpful for her and isn’t seen as a rude reminder.
Our other major clash.
I am a clutter bug who has developed an intense focus on decluttering. I know how clutter creates external stress for me and work hard to reduce it.
H is a clutterbug but at the studio her priority is managing the studio and often teaching while her 1 year old son is also present.
Clutter at the studio drives me to distraction. I will focus on items out of place and child handprints on mirrors instead of choreography and what I’m teaching next.
We’ve reached a defined agreement for the sake of our relationship. I will come early for extra studio cleaning when I teach, which tends to be the evening after her teaching. She knows I’ll clean what she doesn’t register at messy or can’t deal with. I’ve budgeted the time do I can do so without feeling like it interferes with my work and focus.
Before we rehearsed H and I had a long discussion about how to better communicate and schedule in light of our brains.
My love of making thing with my hands and her loathing of anything to do with sewing defines my art practice tonight.
She figured out years ago that she’ll never be up for moving hooks on her dance costumes. If she doesn’t pay someone to alter and adjust her costumes it won’t get done. She pays me.
I make costumes.
So tonight I’ll be altering some of her costumes, including one I first made for myself in 2009. H purchased it two years ago, early in her pregnancy, so accommodate her changing body.
We’d wear the matching costumes I made us but her house ate hers and she’s been realistic about the fact she would not have the energy to find it before the show.