Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Places You Never Thought You Would Be

Last night, I walked in to Joann Fabrics for the third time in the last week. I got the wrong type of cotton fluff for the cloud costumes we're making so I needed new fluff. I also wanted to pick up some safety pins so that I could finish up the turban I had made for a gigantic Mickey puppet jimmy rigged from a carnival stuffed animal.

On my first of the three visits, I was a little put off from the strange looks I got from the people in the store. The kindly elderly woman at the cutting counter asked if I had just been in the store a few days ago. I guess I looked familiar. As a tall, bearded dude in a hoodie with a ratty Detroit cap on my head, I don't consider myself to be the crafty type of person they would normally see at Joann fabric.

I must be wrong. A week or so later, there I was again. Buying more crafty stuff for my craft projects. And this time, I knew I looked familiar because I was familiar.


You end up doing the strangest things. On Monday, on my way to a Robot vs Dinosaur prop meeting, I charged into a Chicago Costume store.

"Can I help you?" asked the lady - college aged, probably a student at DePaul across the street.

"Yes, I need a tutu." I'd been to two other places by now looking for a tutu.

"Kid sized or adult sized?"

"Adult." They're surprisingly hard to find.

"Right this way. Do you need any more help?"

"I need a sombrero."

"Right this way." Too big, these sombreros. I needed something a little smaller. Also, something cheaper; I was just going to rip the brim off the damned thing and then cover it in yellow felt. I saw some on my lunch break for $3.

"Let me know if you need anything else," she said, taking a few steps away before I stopped her.

"Wait. Do you have hair graying stuff? You know. That you brush into your hair."

She paused, I guess mulling over my shopping list, before asking "What kind of costume is this anyway?"


Last night, I spent a romantic evening at home with a butchered sombrero, some yellow felt and a Lou Malnati's pizza. Apparently the glue I was using does not like either yellow felt or sombrero, as it decided not to stick for me. I ended up stitching the felt onto the hat - I'm still working on it - as I ate pizza and watched network television. In the corner of my room sits Mickey Mouse who I have turned into a turban-bedecked puppet, a canvass bag full of props, a borrowed acoustic guitar, a ukulele I bought to play in the show, a pile of black felt and some left over white cloth.

And despite pricking my finger a hundred times, and despite spending the evening hunching over while sewing, and despite thinking and fretting about the endless little things that still need to be done before our show opens next Friday, I was enjoying myself.


October is an important month to me for two reasons. The first is that Halloween is Katie and my anniversary. The second is that in October of 2005 I moved to this city.

I came here with no apartment, no job lined up, and no idea really of what I was going to do here. I had a girlfriend living with her family in the suburbs, a friend with a couch in Bucktown, and what little I managed to save during my apprenticeship at the Purple Rose.

It was really kind of dumb, looking back on it. I spent October shuffling back and forth between sleeping on my friend's couch and imposing on the generosity of Katie and her parents, searching for somewhere to work and somewhere to sleep, and trying to enact an incredibly vague plan which, upon further review, was more an impulse than a plan.

But then, an interview here, a lease signing there, a couple of auditions, some on the job training in telecom and now here I am holed up in my studio surrounded by props and instruments and scripts and all sorts of other stuff. I guess that's how it works.


Still, it's funny to think that four years ago - which really feels more like forever ago - I had just finished my apprenticeship and was convinced of only one thing: that I wanted to get out of my home state and get by somewhere else. I wonder, if 2005 me knew where we would be in four years, if he would make the same decisions. I wonder if he'd take 2009 me as I am now, or leave it for something entirely different.

I'd like to think he'd end up still get a kick out of sticking out like a sore thumb among the usual Joann's crowd.

1 comment:

Crump said...

Many times I have had the same type of experiences in the same places. "I need a sword, a cross, some kitty ears, and do you have XXL black tights?"