Monday, August 23, 2010

Dress You Up

I went shopping today...for some more workout clothes...I can't believe I can actually buy some IN A STORE and not online from the fat chick websites.

I bought some tops the other day from Lucy. A friend told me about Lucy so I checked out the website (because I was too lazy to drive to Highland Village, not because of size! yea!) and bought a few things.

They fit...

If you want some nice workout gear that has a great fit, a long length in tops (I like that for spin), and actually makes you look BETTER when you put it on (vs. looking like a squashed sack of potatoes), try Lucy...

But today I headed to Academy and picked up a couple of new pairs of compression shorts for cycle (I don't care for the padded bike shorts) and some new t-shirts because the tents I am wearing are starting to be...tents...

It felt good even though I was buying an least it wasn't a 2X or's been a while since I could fit an XL.

I slid into a smaller t-shirt last night too...that felt GREAT!

Tomorrow I am sitting in while GOTT and TTG audition 8th graders for the fall musical. I watch and tell them if I can make a scrawny 8th grader look like a princess. GOTT is considering 2 will be easy...the other terrifies me. I won't say what they are lest I jinx myself (trust me, I am really pulling for one because I have done it before) but the challenge of the scary one does offset the terror...a bit...

Costuming children is something I have found that I really enjoy. I love the challenge of getting 70-80 kids into costumes and having them all look good enough to make their mamas proud.

In the fall of 2004 I was sorting some stuff in the Fine Arts Center and I was watching GOTT and TTG work on a set design for a Christmas show with a Victorian theme. The set looked...ok...but it needed something. It needed a woman's touch. As married men whose wives probably buy a lot of the decor, I knew that they were missing some stuff...greenery and ribbons and wreaths and candelabra.

So I asked, "can I dress up the set a bit? I can help...I watch a lot of "Trading Spaces"! And I worked on sets for our Junior League Children's Theater!!!!"

They said "go for it!". Little did they know what they were getting into. 5 1/2 years later they haven't told me to go away...yet...

I went home...and I went for it.

I came back with ribbon, garland, wreaths, and some fancy cording.

When I got to the stage a young man, who I love dearly dearly dearly, was sitting on the stage. He watched me work.

Then he said: "Hi, I'm BF and I am your neighbor. I see you driving down the street. I am SF's brother. Does Mr. GOTT and Mr. TTG know you are doing this? Because it looks A LOT better..."

That boy, who is now a man and a sophomore at a prestigious college, earned the right to one of my kidneys (should he so need one) with that speech. I love love love him...he went on to be a lead in our spring show that year ("The Music Man") and sang a song called "Shapoopi" have to love someone who, at age 14, will get on stage and sing something called Shapoopi.

So GOTT and TTG come and see my work...and like the god he is, GOTT pronounced "it was good"...(and so ends the lesson...LOL).

So come spring of 2005 I was looking for something to do and I asked GOTT if I could help. He asked if I would be willing to costume "The Music Man"...I said "yes" because I was desperate to get close to his genius and soak it up and learn from him. I also did it so I would do something more with my day than least this way if I was shopping, I was doing it with someone else's money. I didn't really know what the heck I was doing but I thought I could learn as I went.

Saying "yes" that day changed my life.

I gained a friend (GOTT) who I love as much as a woman can love another man who is not her husband, son, or brother. He is my brother...I love love love him.

TTG is also a close friend who I love love love...and his humor and insight into the Lord always makes me glad I can say he is my friend.

I've spoken of my love for them before...but I can never get enough of learning from them and working with them. I could tell you stories...but they would kill me. Suffice it to say that I may not get paid in $$$ for what I do but they repay me in good times and fun...and I know they appreciate what I do to help them with the shows.

And they are really glad that I have a black belt in shopping so they don't have to do it.

But the other thing that saying "yes" that day was to save me...

Because I was saved by a group of 78 8th grade kids.

My mother died in April of 2005. The show was just a few weeks away. I had done about 60% of the costuming when she passed, but I still had a lot to do. I can't sew anything to save my life but I am really good at borrowing and eBay, so I had gathered most of what we needed, I just needed to fit everyone and jazz it up.

Losing my mother was the most devastating event of my life. Not going to talk about it right now....

But I got pretty good at having a pity party for myself in the days after her funeral and I took to my bed. And I really just wanted to stay there.

And after a couple of days, as I was laying there railing at God for taking my mother from me, He told me to get out of that bed and take care of those children. I had 78 kids that needed me...and 2 men...and a husband, and 2 children who did not need to watch their mother spend her days in bed.

So I got up.

And I took a shower.

And I put on some sweats...brushed my wet hair...and without make-up I went to the school.

I forgot that on that particular day the kids did not have drama class but were in religion and were listening to the school chaplain as they sat in the Fine Arts Center. So I snuck into the back and sat down on a table while I tried to figure out how to sneak backstage and check out the mess of costumes that I had abandoned 10or so days before.

One of them saw me. My precious Lovely Lauren.

She told Father W that I was in the back and could she go and hug me.

He said "yes".

She came...and trailing her was the class...

Lots of tears...lots of tears now as I remember them coming to me...

My Big Ben, a precious HUGE child, wrapped me in his arms and I sobbed quite a lot all over his uniform. To this day I get the BEST hugs from him. I would give him a kidney too...

I told them I was "back" and that I would return the next day.

I found GOTT and told him I was ready to work. He was sweet and gentle and urged me to keep busy.

Soon I was back in the groove and those kids brought me back.

And they looked awesome on stage.

And when I see any of them to this day I always thank them for giving me a reason to do something for them and not just feel sorry for myself.

I don't get paid for what I do but when a teenager runs screaming across a crowded room to throw himself in your arms, I get paid pretty well...very well...extremely well.

A friend told me the other day that she and her son can directly credit the fact that her son is student body president at a prestigious high school in town to the fact that he was in the 8th grade musical. He thanks GOTT for casting him and letting him express himself on stage because it gave him courage and a belief in himself. He credits me with dressing him up and telling him he looked good and whispering encouragement to him while I got him in his costumes. He is a great kid...and he gets a kidney...

I'm running out of kidneys...I hope only one of them ever needs one.

I've costumed everything from "The Sound of Music" to "Cinderella" to "Macbeth". I love seeing the kids on stage...I cry...

Last spring I was treated to a truly magical moment during our production of Cinderella.

Our Cinderella, let's call her Cindy, had gone out and bought a dress without letting me take a look at what she was purchasing. It was the one thing I asked of her---do not get a ball gown without me. But she did.

It was dreckitude. Well, maybe not dreckitude...but it was a hot mess that only a 14year old girl could love. It was a fluffy confection of TEAL (I don't know about you but thanks to Disney, in my brain Cinderella should wear a baby blue dress) with swirly hem and looked like a tutu.

Not exactly in line with my Renaissance style vision.

A friend very very very sweetly loaned us a stunning stunning stunning dress that belonged to her daughter. I loved my friend before this, but with this little act of kindness she sealed the deal. She gets a kidney.

The dress had been made for another production of Cinderella. It was the "right" blue. It was fluffy and it SPARKLED with jewels. It was absolutely perfect. I love love love that dress.

Cindy sees the dress on the mannequin that my friend brought it on and asks if she can try it on.

I send up a prayer of thanks to the Lord.

We get into the dressing room and I slip the gown over her head.

Before I zip her up I pray again;" Dear Lord, I have been a good girl. I have made 20 trips to pick out costumes at Performing Arts Supply with children and worked their fittings and helped them all pick out ballgowns and court costumes. The teal thing is a hot mess. Please let this dress fit!"

I grasped the zipper.

It slid up....perfectly

The dress was made for her figure.

She. Looked. Perfect.

She stepped onto the stage in the dress and everyone in the room (a class of 5th graders and some adults) froze. And then applauded.

I didn't find this found me...and I love love love my friend for letting us use it. I am more than a little obsessed with this dress.

But Cindy liked her other dress too. And we had some tearful conversations about it but she understood that my word was the final one and I wanted her in the sparkly blue dress...not the teal hot mess.

But she couldn't see herself as we saw her.

But on opening night, that magical moment happened.

It was the ballroom scene. When the Prince first sees Cinderella (Rogers and Hammerstein version) at the top of the stairs. GOTT lit the scene perfectly. Everyone was frozen on stage except for Cinderella who was bathed in blue light and the rest of the stage was dark. She was sparkling up there. She took my breath away.

And from the audience comes the voice of a small child:
"Look! It's Cinderella!" (really more like "Wook! It's Cin-da-wella!")

The audience burst into laughter and applause.

I burst into tears.

I resisted the urge to run to the sound booth and ask GOTT how much he loved me at that moment...

It worked...I helped to make a moment happen. A powerful and very special moment. With some help from my friend and her dress...and of course GOTT and that incredible lighting and staging.

But I put her in the dress...and it zipped---although it DIDN'T zip in the earlier scene because she ran out of the dressing room before I could calm her down. In 14 previous shows I had never sent a child out "undone". But that time she ran on stage and squirmed her way into getting the zipper up before Fairy Godmother sang "Impossible".

I will savor that moment (the "It's Cindawella" moment, not the unzipped one!) for a long time.

Only one other time have I had a serious wardrobe malfunction. Sound of Music. One short Von Trapp boy. One tall Von Trapp boy. In a quick change the short boy grabbed the tall boy's leiderhosen shorts. So tall boy was forced to put on short boy's pants. I didn't see it...I was dressing "Maria" and some Von Trapp girls.

I'm waiting for them to come back off stage (it was a 2 minute scene) when the child who was stage manager informed me that GOTT wished to speak to me on the headset. I got on and said "what's up, honey?"

He answers: "why does D look weird?"

I say "I don't know...does he?"

he says "look on stage"

So I do...and see D's (tall boy) boxers coming out the bottom of the shorts while P (short boy) is drowning in his.

My answer to GOTT "OMG! Sorry!"

and then I fell on the floor laughing until they came off stage...and clamped my hand over D's mouth so he wouldn't yell at P for putting on his pants.

I separated their changing areas at intermission...and it never happened again.

So you see, wardrobe malfunctions happen (especially when working with 14 year olds) but no one has seen a nipple.

Although my hands have almost made it beyond the curtain as I zip someone up.

And I have stripped many a young man (since I can't let an 8th grade girl help a boy to change clothes and the boys usually won't help another dude), and I have even put tights on a boy (who informed me that his mama said that he was just to think of me as his extra mama and he does), and I have laced up bodices until my nails break. And I love it and I love the kids.

I've worked with GOTT on 15 shows as costumer...and an additional show as his asst. director. I will do it until he throws me out the door or fires me...but it is hard to fire someone who is not paid so he will just have to toss me.

So tomorrow we embark on number 16. And I will dress the kids up and get paid in hugs and kisses and children who years later will scream my name from across the room and come running.

It's a pretty good way to make a living...

Inspiration Song: "Dress You Up" by Madonna

bye darlings...

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